Thursday, February 25, 2010

Smooth sailing?

One of the nice things about sick kids is that it gives you the opportunity (aka excuse) to stay home for a while. Aside from our little farm excursion on Monday, we haven't been anywhere all week which gave us a wonderful opportunity to just stay home and focus on schoolwork. Which we did.

The spelling tic-tac-toe is still going fabulously. They really enjoy working on it now. Cassia's favorite is "Write a poem with the words." This one activity has inspired her so much that she's been writing poems about everything. She wrote one the other day after a conversation about balloons and air density...

Air, air here and there
Air, air everywhere.

Simple, yes, but I love it. Mostly I just love the inspiration of it. It inspired some breakfast talk about the rhyme and rhythm of poetry too (what is the literary term for that?) and then a quick reading of Robert Frost. And all that from Spelling? Nice.

Math is moving along nicely. Cassia finished up her book and has moved on to level 2A. Cameron has one more exercise and a review or two to go. The fact that we've been doing it every day though means that no one is complaining about having to do it every day. It's just routine. It's just what we do. Also nice.

We haven't done history every day, but we've done it at least three times a week the last few weeks. They built a Viking ship out of a cereal box the other day and are thrilled to once again be able to trace the paths of our readings onto maps. You see, our scanner was broken for ages and so we weren't able to do any of the things from the Story of the World activity guide unless I actually managed to go to Staples and make copies... which didn't happen very often, as I'm sure you can imagine. Now we have a new printer/scanner/copier and all is right with the world again. :)

We've read lots of books. I picked up a bunch of easy readers from the library and almost every day I have Cassia or Cameron read to us. We've also been continuing with our Goblet of Fire read aloud and I think Cameron finally, really, appreciates how much better a book can be than the movie.

Our really big thing of the week though has been writing. We started Writing Strands 2 this week and it has been so much fun! I think they, Cameron especially, have really enjoyed focusing on the ideas of writing rather than just the mechanics. The first lesson was on describing things and we spent three days building up big, beautiful sentences describing a pen and then we culminated today with each of them writing their own unique descriptions of something. We talked about how wonderful language is that you can say exactly the same thing in so many different ways.

Cameron's sentence: Greyson's little, orange squirt gun soaks surprised people.

Cassia's sentence: Our broom is yellow and green and used to sweep kitchen messes.

They drew illustrations too. The really great thing about this program is that it is written for homeschoolers so it's extremely adaptable to multi-age use. They were each able to work at an appropriate level to themselves and both earned an "A+" for their efforts. (I had to remind Cassia of the arbitrariness of the grades when she seemed to get overly attached to her A+ and she said "I know, but I still like it." LOL)

So it turns out that drafts saved on BlogPress are not saved into your blogger dashboard, so I'm going to go ahead and publish this now and edit it on the other computer. Mobile blogging in my living room is tiring. ;)

Cassia and Cameron seem to be feeling much better so this was written (mostly) while they were in their respective piano and violin lessons. Cassia also reluctantly went to ballet (she was afraid she might start coughing) and ended up doing just fine. Greyson, however, spiked a fever again and so I caved and called the doctor. Five days of fever is too much for me. Turns out he has a double ear infection and is now thrilled with his yummy pink medicine. (It's so much easier when they actually like the stuff, lol.) So hopefully he'll be feeling better soon. Dr. D said to give him a call back if these coughs last for more than two weeks. Seems like they always last for longer than that, but we'll see how I feel about that next week. We're already on day 8 for Cassia and Linus.

So it's been a week of ups and downs. Up on the brain work, down on the health meter. I guess you can't have it all. ;) We'll see how our newfound academic routine holds up in the weeks to come. It's so hard to hear the call of the books when the sun is screaming "Come and PLAY!!"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 22, 2010

Here we go again

Four little lovebirds sitting in a tree, C-OU-GH-I-N-G.

Yes, sick again. Cassia and Linus came down with fevers and coughs mid-last week. We had to skip a play that we had tickets for (hate that!) and missed music lessons for the second time this month. We did take advantage of the home time though and worked on spelling, math, and history. We also read Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox. That was a great book. It was so exciting that the kids wouldn't let me put it down and we read the whole thing in just two sittings.

By Friday, everyone seemed much better and we went ahead and went to the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner. We were on the decoration committee and had a good time with the paper chains, streamers, and balloons. The dinner was delicious and the ceremony was great - at least, that's what I heard. By the time dinner was over, both Linus and Greyson were done with the whole thing so I ended up taking them home before the ceremony. Cameron got his Bear badge with the rest of his pack (even though he had to finish up the last of the work on Sunday). He's spending all his spare time working on arrow points now.

Saturday morning I took Greyson to gymnastics. He saw a little boy in the lobby who was doing a trial class and it was like love at first sight. They were instant best buds and were on exactly the same Silly Wavelength. They were driving me kind of nuts, but one of the coaches just loved it. She said that she had never seen Grey interacting with another child like that before. He tends to be quite shy and clingy when we're out (which is so bizarre if you actually know him or have heard stories, lol). He was so independent though, and has been for several weeks now, that I decided it's time to move him up to the next level of classes, sans parent. So one more week of Mommy-and-Me and then it's off for the big boy classes. That frees up our Saturday mornings for Linus to start taking the baby gymnastics class!

On our way home we spotted a sign for an "airport display day" at our local airport so we went and rounded everyone else up for an impromptu field trip. I had to talk DH into it but it was so worth it. The airport had about 20 one and two-seater airplanes on display that the kids could run up to and peer inside. It was much more informal than an airshow or a museum and the air field is small enough that they were free to just run around at will. Good times. Greyson wore his NASA commander costume and was as big a spectacle as the airplanes to the other guests, lol. He loved the attention. It was pretty cold so we headed out after about half an hour, amidst the very loud and tearful protests from Greyson.

At home we settled in to watch some Olympics and that's when The Sickness hit Cameron and Greyson. It wasn't too bad on Saturday, but by Sunday Grey was running a 103 fever and Cameron was hovering around 100. Luckily that part of it only lasts a day and today, Monday, everyone feels pretty good but still sounds really bad. Well, Grey still has a low fever but he seems to feel fine. Phew. I really hate 103.

And finally, I must tell you about our impromptu field trip of today. When we went to pick up our farm fresh eggs today, our farmer friend told us that a new lamb was born on Friday! Well, we had to go see that! We tromped through the fields and the mud to see the chickens, the sheep with the tiny little 3-day old lamb, and the surprisingly adorable pigs. The farmer's little boy grabbed Greyson and Cassia and showed them all his treasures including a large number of, what we are assuming are, old cattle bones! Apparently, the pigs dug a couple bones up in that area and then the little boy went to work with his hoe finding all the rest. Very fun stuff. That is unschooling at its best right there - farmer boy turned archaeologist!

It was so nice just meandering in the sun, watching the animals, watching the kids, watching the kids watching the animals... it was hard to leave. Unfortunately, Farmer Sally had a ton of work to do so we had to leave them. I am a bit jealous though. The grass is always greener, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mobile blogging? Woo hoo!

I finally did it. I finally got my blog connected to my iPhone! Now i just need to perfect thumb typing. ;). Now you can expect updates, with pictures even, while I'm waiting at gmnastics or ballet or violon or baseball... Oh the possibilities!! So let's see, when did I last blog? I'm pretty sure it was over a week ago so I'll just recap to there.

We started doing spelling again. A brilliant friend of mine shared a fun way to do the work. I made a tic tac toe board with different things on the boxes like "write each word three times," or "write each word in a sentence," or "write a poem with the words" - which happens to be exactly the same as writing them in sentences but is apparently more fun, lol. Anyway, they just get to pick any three things on a row for the week. It works great. The power of choice and variety is great.

Math has also taken on a bitvof variety- Cam is doing addition and subtraction with time and Cassia is doing money problems. They're both really close to finishing their books and moving up to levels 4 and 2.

We're plodding throuh history. Hopefully soon we will stop plodding and start enjoying again. We just got a new printer/scanner/copier so we can start doing the maps and coloring pages again. That always makes it more fun.

What else... did I mention that Cam has started fencing? He loves it. I don't neccesarily love the 6 - 7pm time slot, but what can you do. Little League practice just started this week too. And then there's still Cub Scouts. If I'm lucky, we'll only end up double booked a couple times a week and not every day like I'm fearing. How do you prioritize stuff like that? They're all important and require dedication and practice. I just wish everything didn't have to be "after school" hours.

OK, my thumbs are cramping. Must be time to wrap this up. Ciao friends.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 08, 2010

Call me crazy

Oh, so many things I wanted to blog about in the last week and I just never got to it. I really need to get that Blogger app working on my iPhone. So let's see, what were the highlights?

One day last week I donated some of Cassia's old clothes to a fellow homeschooler who said that she was a single parent, in dire straights. Now, obviously, that made me want to help her all the more but when we went to her house it turned out that it was a woman that I had run into many times before at field trips and even in the grocery store, I just hadn't recognized her name (if I ever knew it). I had always admired this woman and how well-behaved her children were. That time I ran into her in the grocery store was a day that I was feeling particularly frazzled and she really set me at peace. So to find this same woman opening the door to our hand-me-downs was both a joy and a huge tug on my heart. It felt so good to be able to give back to her some of the kindness she had given me in the past. I really hope she can get her family back on its feet soon.

What else... oh, I wanted to recommend a free online curriculum called Head of the Class. They only have preK through 2nd grades right now but promise to have up to 8th grade soon. Cassia really, really likes it. She begs me to let her "do my website" first thing every morning. Greyson likes it too. There are a LOT of printouts and lots of fun videos. Each time the child logs in, they get a menu of the lessons available - usually math, writing, spelling (not for the preK, obviously), reading, and then either art, geography, Spanish, music, etc. It's pretty fun. The one thing we've had problems with is having the lessons freeze up and not load properly. We really hate that because then it's kind of lost forever. All in all though, it's definitely worth the money. ;)

Speaking of curriculum, I was recently appalled by Cameron's writing abilities. I mean, he couldn't get it through his head to put spaces between the words! And his spelling is absolutely atrocious. So we're going to start spelling again, though this time, unlike during the summer, I won't have them write out the definitions. I think that was just a bit too tedious. I'll have them write the words a few times a day and then have a test on Fridays. I've also ordered Writing Strands and I'm hoping that will take care of everything else.

And speaking of writing (here is where the call me crazy part comes in), I've decided to try and write a book. I know. Crazy. I can't keep up with the things I'm supposed to be doing and now I'm adding this giant thing in. But the urge hit me and I just really want to give it a try. I'm going to write some easy chapter books, something that will appeal to boys and girls and doesn't involve them being stuck in school all day! I don't want to give too much away, lest someone steals my idea and does a better job of it than I can, but it's going to involve the history of cooking and the importance of eating good food and maybe a recipe or two, too. My biggest concern is follow-through. I am horrible at follow-through. I very rarely finish "projects" like this. I started some quilted potholders just after Christmas, thinking they were small enough to actually finish. Nope. Can't seem to get back to it to finish them off. Call me crazy. ;) Well, call me whatever you like but then go ahead and send me some "stick with it" vibes, if you don't mind.

OK, break's over. Back to my research.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Game on!

Today's schooling consisted of POKEMON! The original idea was to start up kind of a Pokemon tournament club, but no one really wanted to compete (except Cameron). So we just had a Pokemon playday. Two friends came over and they traded cards and played a game or two. We moms sat and chatted. It was nice.

It was actually the third time in as many days that I got to sit around and chat with moms! WooHoo! Saturday morning I went to a business meeting for our homeschool group and gobbled up eggs florentine and chai while discussing options for our new web site. Later that night I met up with some other moms and gobbled up pasta and wine (and bruschetta and mousse and coffee and...) while discussing "girl stuff" and then we topped the evening off with a movie! Dinner and a movie on a Saturday night! Can't remember the last time I did that. Today the food wasn't as exciting - blue corn chips, pretzels, and tea - but the conversation was great.

Cameron and Cassia kept playing Pokemon after their friends left and then moved on to TOPS Trumps Wonders of the World. It's funny how once you get into game mode you just get stuck there sometimes. I love that they love games. Games give you reading, math, science, adventure, fantasy, role playing, problem solving, cooperation, and FUN too!