Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Spring, Time to Sing Vivaldi!

OK, it's not spring but it might as well be with the weather we've had the last few days! It was 68 and gorgeous today. Too bad the kids are still sick. They were well enough to play in the back yard though and they really appreciated that one.

Since they were feeling better though, I figured I should bust out the books. Cameron finished off the last regular exercise in his math book and is two-thirds of the way through the second-to-last review.

I haven't been able to find Cassia's math book ANYwhere!! It just disappeared. I have a feeling that it got left out somewhere and someone "put it away" in a rush and it's now residing in a random toy bin somewhere. I glanced at most of the bookshelves and didn't see it there, but we have a lot of books so I could have easily just missed it.

Anyway, I finally gave up and skipped her ahead to the Primary Math 1A book. I doubt she'll miss the last third of Earlybird 2B and if we do find it, she'll probably have a blast going back and doing it for fun. She was thrilled to start the new book. Of course the first chapter is ultra easy - counting to ten. But it does have something new in that it's asking her to match the numbers with the words. Cameron was never able to do that but I have a feeling that she's going to pick it up pretty easily. She's got a great memory for stuff like that, where as he - like me - needs the rules and reasons behind it before it will stick.

Another difference between the two of them stood out very sharply today. There was an exercise that asked her to color a certain number of objects. She happily and carefully colored each one a different color and proudly showed off each set to me. I remember when Cameron did that exercise - he HATED it!! He hated to color so much. When he did do it, he would just kind of scribble the picture out. I remember I finally just told him to put an X on them instead of coloring because it was such torture for him. So his 1A book is a big scribbley mess and hers is a beautiful work of art, lol. Nothing against not wanting to color though!! I totally get that that's not his thing and I'm okay with it, but it was nice to see all the beautiful colors today. It flashed me back to my own brightly and carefully colored worksheets of decades past. And in her enthusiasm, she completed six exercises and begged me for more but I told her to save a few for tomorrow.

After that I asked them if they wanted to read a history story or learn about a composer. Cassia had found the Classical Magic books the other day and was looking through them. I am embarrassed to say that I had completely forgotten about them!! LOL. Anyway, I thought I'd let them choose what else to do and Cameron said "Histoser." Cassia also chimed in with "Compistory." So I followed their lead, like any good homeschool mom would, and we did both. ;) For history we read about Augustus Caesar and the kids were thrilled to learn that both their birth months were named for leaders of Rome. We followed that up with the first few pages of Classical Magic and learned some of the characteristics of the Baroque period and then read a short biography of Vivaldi. I thought we would finish off by listening to a few clips of Vivaldi's Springtime. We have a couple of fun versions of the first movement so we listened to those and then I went to Classical Archives to play a more sophisticated version. To my surprise though, they wanted to listen to ALL the seasons! Mostly we just listened to clips of each, not the full movement, but we did sample all three movements of all four seasons. And then they went through and listened to all of the baroque period kid's songs! (From the Beethoven's Wig and Classical Magic serieses - yes, I've sorted them all into iTunes playlists - yes, I'm a geek.)

So that was a lot of fun. I'm hoping we can listen to some more Vivaldi in the next couple days and then read another biography or two on him. There is a second biography on him in Volume 2 of Classical Magic (why I'm not sure) and I have several online sites bookmarked. Hopefully the interest will continue because this really is something I've been wanting to learn about with them. Cameron also got some art and science work in today by using his How To Draw Dinosaurs book. :) He did a really great job. He's got a skill for drawing. Cassia has the eye for color, but he has the eye for line. He can carry a better tune too. I wonder if that's related?

If this is less than coherent or cohesive it's because I'm starving and am having trouble concentrating but wanted to get this finished before I move on to getting dinner finished. Homemade pizza tonight! I wonder if Vivaldi inspired me?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Sickies Have Landed!

Ahhhh! We've been invaded by Sickies and let me tell you, it's no fun despite the fact that I felt no guilt in watching Kung Fu Panda at 7:00 am this morning. Greyson has been holding on to this cough and mild fever for a few days now and Linus has had a stuffy nose for a week but it all seemed to come to a crux for everyone last night. Cameron and Greyson both woke up in the middle of the night unable to breathe and needing a nebulizer treatment. Cassia woke up feverish in the night and decided to sleep on the couch. At sunrise her fever shot up to 102 and she instantly regurgitated the liquid Tylenol I tried to give her for it. Not a happy camper. She was able to keep down a melt-away tablet though and then some toast and tea. Everyone seems to be feeling better now, but I keep waiting for the meds to wear off and everyone to be miserable again.

The worst part is that we had a little girl over yesterday morning and I fear that she's going to be miserable now because of us. :( I'm watching her two days a week so her mother doesn't have to put her (just 2-1/2) in daycare. I think she would've been better off in daycare yesterday! I had left the mother a message the day before saying that Grey seemed to be getting worse, but she didn't get it in time. So now I'm feeling bad that I didn't try harder to get a hold of her or even turn them away at the door. Neither of us are ones to hide from germs, but still....

Anyway, enough of giving myself a guilt trip. Wednesday we spent the morning at the dentist. I have a broken tooth that is going to need to be pulled. *sigh* Luckily, there is a wisdom tooth right next to it that never surfaced so it should move right in to take it's place. Cassia had a couple of cavities starting in the back. Maybe now she'll believe us when we say tooth brushing is not a race, lol. The boys were fine. Of course. (I hate my teeth and one of my great fears is that the kids got my teeth. I guess I should be happy that it looks like it is just a girl gene.) Greyson was soooooo curious while we were there. He peeked into every office and asked the dental assistant about all the equipment in the prep room. That boy likes machines!

Then we came home and did two sections of science. We studied energy by watching a ball bounce and a paper windmill spin. We thought of all the different ways that a windmill can be made to spin and what the source of energy is for that. That particular unit is one reason that I am glad that we do follow a curriculum, however loosely. I never would've thought to do that and the kids really enjoyed stretching their brains to come up with solutions. The second section was about how the energy of the sun is the original source of energy for living things. (The sun gives it energy to plants which are eaten by herbivores which are eaten by carnivores.) I think we have touched on that concept before but it's still fun to go over it officially.

Next Cameron did some math. He's excited to finish this book and has been doing two to three exercises every time we do math so that he can move through it quicker. Too bad we are only doing it once or twice a week, lol. Also too bad that I didn't order our new books earlier to inspire this work surge. While he was doing that, Cassia and Greyson were playing on Starfall. Greyson was so into it. I wouldn't be surprised if he taught himself to read very early on.

I think that was all we did before the heebie jeebies and hacking started creeping in. Thursday we didn't do anything except watch T2 in the morning. Cassia and Grey did a little on Starfall and Cameron built a lot with K'Nex, but mostly we just watched movies. I'm wondering if I should mark that as an official "sick" day. I do like to keep track of days when the kids are truly too sick to do school in our attendance records but don't Starfall and K'Nex count? On a healthy day I would say, "Absolutely!", but when they're sick it's just a relaxation activity. I know, I know. All my unschool friends are shaking their heads and wanting to smack me about now, but I can't help but ponder such things and classify it all. If we had read a book or two I would consider it all school, but we didn't. I really wanted to too but no one was in the mood. We have James and the Giant Peach here that we were doing really good at reading for a while but then it got misplaced in the back of the minivan and we got out of the groove of reading it. I'd really like to get back to that and if I can manage that today I will count it as a school day.

In other plans, I would like to bake some bread today and maybe make a lamb stew for dinner. I have some library books of my own that I would like to get to. One that I'm particularly interested in is on whole grains and the other is a pressure cooker cookbook. It's a cold drizzly day today so we aren't missing much by sticking around the house. Yesterday we did miss Parent Watch day at Cassia's ballet class - the one day a year that they let the parents in - but there was no way she was up to it. Hopefully everyone will be better by next week. We have a big week planned including Star Week at gymnastics! Star Week only comes once every 8 weeks and is the only way they can advance. I know they'll be crushed if they can't do it.

OK, enough rambling from here. I just wanted to make sure that I got more than one post in this week. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!!!

WooHoooo!!!!!! First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS and WELCOME President Obama. I know many of you are not as thrilled as I am but I am very hopeful for a time in our country's history when everyone can work together for a change and not just bicker about right and left.

Secondly, yeah, I know... two months. I'm not even going to apologize or promise to do better. We'll see if do or not. ;)

Cameron and Cassia started a new venture today. They joined an Odyssey of the Mind team. It is the only homeschool team in our region and it's our group's first time doing it! Exciting stuff! Our coach though, had coached another team before and is VERY enthusiastic about the whole thing. She really seems to know what she's doing and I'm really looking forward to it. I had to laugh though when we walked into her house today. She is the first person I've met who really lives up to that homeschool stereotype. Their garage had been converted into a schoolroom with posters and charts all over; science projects half completed here and there; boxes of manipulatives and toys neatly stacked ALL over the place; Christian posters and paintings all over the house; lots of little chairs and desks; a carpet with the United States on it; and even a plaque with the School Rules printed on it (which her son made sure to read to us so we knew them!). It was very quaint and picturesque and I'm actually surprised that it's taken me so long to meet someone who schools that way!

If you don't know what it is, Odyssey of the Mind is a problem solving competition where multiple teams work on solving the same problem and then present their unique solution through a skit or other presentation. The winning teams can then go on from the regional competition to state, national, and international competitions! (The K - 2nd grade teams don't actually compete but still get to present at the regional competition.) Through this they learn problem solving, teamwork, budget management, public speaking, etc, etc, etc. Uniqueness is rewarded and the adults must stay strictly hands off.

We had our first team practice today and I know the kids learned oodles of stuff. They learned how to brainstorm ideas and then voted for their favorite ones. They learned to not criticize ideas that were different and to not be too disappointed if their idea wasn't chosen. Then they had a little acting lesson and acted out a strange little song using a mystery emotion which the other kids had to guess. Cameron took to it instantly and everyone guessed his emotion, proud, right off the bat. Cassia, surprisingly, was a little shy and the coach, MomH, had to perform the song with her. The crowd got it in two or three guesses, but it was a tough one: love! The best part was that there is one boy on the team, T6, who says he'll only be a part of this if he doesn't have to perform. We agreed that he can be the "behind-the-scenes" guy. While the other kids were acting out the song, he was in charge of picking who would go next. Well, when everyone was done he was having so much fun that he announced "The only one who hasn't gone yet is me!" and did his own version of the silly song. He had a moment or two where I thought he might freeze up and change his mind, but he didn't and he had a lot of fun doing it too. Yay! Maybe he will change his mind and want to be a part of the performance too.

After practice we headed to a friend's house to pick up some farm fresh eggs. It was our first time there and OH, what a lovely place they have. The chickens were, dare I say, adorable and there was something very soothing about their clucking. I really never anticipated that one! Their feathers were absolutely gorgeous too. We fed them some corn, collected a few freshly lain eggs, chased down the family ducks, and then finally settled in to taking over the backyard, lol. They had a zip line (which Cameron was too heavy for and pretty much hit the ground as soon as he jumped off the ladder, lol) that was a huge hit and a neat plank swing in a neat old tree. The weather was gorgeous - sunny and mild - and the time to leave came all too soon. No one wanted to go.

We finally arrived home to relax with K'Nex, Old School Sesame Street DVDs, and computer time (depending on who you were). It was such a nice day that I was inspired to blog while our BBQ'ed chicken legs and home fries cook. Maybe I'll even keep up the habit. It is the dawn of a new era, you know. :)