Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween-2014

Happy Halloween from Sophie Foster, Alice in Wonderland, and the cutest train engineer ever!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What a Week!

This boy is NEVER still.  Unless he is listening to a story or "reading" one. He is in constant motion and likes to wear his poor mama out!  This was the day before he got so sick and I'm so thankful we are done with that!

This past week has been full!

This time last week I was in bed with severe pain and nausea (and it's not what you may think!) while poor Alexander was crying constantly because he felt miserable.  Oh, and did I mention we were trying to get ready for a yard sale we were having the next day?

Thankfully I have a husband who can take care of us and in-laws in town who are always ready to help when needed. They managed to get the kids fed and in bed and also set up some stuff that I had laid out.  Our friend had already set her stuff up.

By Friday morning I was able to get up and around even though I was not feeling great.  Saturday was a little better. And it always feels good to rid your house of unused junk stuff!

Poor Alexander was much improved by Friday morning, but still yucky.  He was having to take a steroid and breathing treatments for bronchiolitis.  And whatever virus caused it spread to Camille by Sunday.

These are the types of things that really can get me down.

We had to miss our CC day since Camille had a fever, and we got behind with school.  I try to say it's okay and we can make it up, but that typically has to happen over Christmas or summer break.  But there are far worse problems to have.

My pain improved but never went away so I had some tests done and found I need to have my gall bladder removed.  That will fit nicely with our anatomy lessons this year.

We did have some fun this week despite the bad stuff and seeing it in writing reminds me just how much I have to be happy about and how little I have to complain about.

We made several smile boxes to send to Nicaragua.  We made one special one for the little girl we sponsor, and then Alex and Lillie helped pack 500 more with the kids at church.  We welcomed our nephew (though some of us are still dying to get our hands on him!), we had a couple days to relax a bit since Camille was too sick to do much school, we had trunk-or-treat at church, we had a visit from Granny, we made a trip to the local pumpkin patch (our usual one was closed this year), and we made our annual trip to the Botanical Gardens for the Scarecrow Walk. 

Now there is pumpkin carving and etching going on in preparation for the big night tomorrow night!

I will make sure to post pictures from most of the list above, but for tonight I am thankful for a beautiful fall night where a little boy is sound to sleep and two girls are occupied with pumpkins.  I think I may go to bed early!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Great Day for a Walk

Yesterday we got up really early and headed out of the house to go walk in a breast cancer fund raiser in honor of a friend who recently began her treatment.

 Camille was the "flag bearer" and held this up most of the walk.

Our crew after the walk.

We had a LOT of people in our group and raised the most money as well.  I love this walk because all the money stays in our area! 

We thought the walk was only a mile, so imagine our surprise when we kept going.  And going.  And going.  It was actually a three mile walk!  I assumed Alexander would sleep at some point, but he never did. 

 A shot of all our little ones before the walk.

It was a beautiful day and we had a great walk!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Boy and His Dump Truck

Dump trucks are pretty popular around here.  Especially those that carry asphalt.  Alex comes from a long line of men who worked in road building.  My dad also was in this line of work just on the DOT side instead of private industry. 

We recently had our street repaved and this was a long awaited day for many reasons.  The girls could not wait to ride their scooter down the smooth road!  I could not wait to drive my car down the smooth road without having it rattle.  And Alexander could not wait to watch the excitement.  Well, he really didn't know that, but I was excited for him.

I took him outside as they were nearing our section of the road and we played with his dump truck while watching the big dump pour the asphalt into the paver and smooth it out.  It is interesting to watch and makes you appreciate what all goes in to the roads we ride on each day.

Challenge A

I've intentionally put off posting much about the specifics of our school this year for many reasons.  First and foremost is lack of time to post much of anything.  Second is the fact we are still trying to figure out what works best for us at this point.  Our days are full--and I do mean FULL! 


I just deleted several paragraphs telling how hard Challenge A is for Lillie and me.  I can get carried away at times with how much there is to be done without thinking of how much is gained.  And simply put, Challenge A is just that--a Challenge.  For all of us.  In the Challenge levels of CC, students have seminar day once a week, 30 weeks a year.  They are introduced to work in six strands that they will finish throughout the week.  They are introduced dialectically, with lots of questions and discussions among the students.  The tutor is really there just to facilitate and go over assignments. 

The real challenge for us is that I am the tutor and Lillie is my only student.  So you can imagine how a dialectic discussion is pretty hard with just one student.  Thankfully Challenge A students have a LOT of material still to learn and it is not solely dependent upon the discussions since kids in 7th grade are still in the grammar stage. We try to do a lot of the discussions at home too so she will have at least some of that before moving on to the next level. My prayer and hope is that Lillie will get all the information she needs and feel confident to move to Challenge B next year.  We love our CC community, but are willing to find another group in order to give Lillie the class size she needs.  Even if that means traveling farther than the 45 minutes we drive each week already. 

Each strand in the Challenge program is a skill and that skill is learned through mastery of a subject.  Each of these strands will be used for all years in Challenge which is designed to take a student from 7th-12th grade. Each year the strands they study are Logic, Debate, Rhetoric, Research, Exposition and Composition, and Grammar.

For Logic, she uses Math. She spends an hour (sometimes more) each day doing a math lesson and defining terms.  Again she is still in the grammar phase (the tail end, really), so learning laws and terms are important to future learning.  She is mainly on her own for this.  I check her work and go over areas I see as problems, but Lillie typically has only silly errors as problems in math.

For Debate this year she is studying geography.  She draws maps for about 40 minutes a day and then the other 20 is spent memorizing definitions and places on each map. The goal by the end of the year is to be able to free-hand the entire world by memory including labeling countries, capitals, major cities, rivers, mountains, lakes, etc.  Some question why we do this (including Lillie!), but think about it.  Everything, whether in current events, history, or literature, happens in a place.  We need to be able to find that place on a map. This year it's done grammatically--she's simply memorizing where things go.  In years to come she will learn historical, political, and cultural reasons for the boundaries.

 Our first seminar day was done at home since it is just us; we enjoyed learning about Canada and eating yummy maple leaf cookies.

These are the maps Lillie has drawn so far minus the US. Canada, Central America and the Antilles, and South America.  I am not sure where the US map has gone.  It was amazing!

Lillie is also studying Rhetoric by working with two books: The Fallacy Detective (such a neat, fun book!) and It Couldn't Just Happen. The tool here is to be able to read something and summarize it concisely as well as to be able to avoid fallacies when we write and when we debate.  While doing that she is learning why we believe what we believe. We are actually trying to do this study as a family, but are failing miserably.  In a perfect world, Lillie would summarize during the day and then we would all read at night and discuss it. But we don't live in a perfect world so we do the best we can.

Research is done by studying science.  Lillie researches a different topic each week and prepares an outline and research paper.  This is not a long process, but will get longer as the year goes on.  The main objective is to master how to research from more than one source and present the information on paper and aloud.  She seems to like this one so far!  We started the first semester with biology and will work with anatomy in the second semester.  So far she has researched protists, algae, fungi, wildflowers, herbs, trees, mollusks, arachnids, insects, and butterflies and moths.

Lillie and Camille sorting candy to go over ways of classification.

Exposition and Composition can be a little daunting since we have not done a lot of writing. This year we are learning the art of the persuasive essay through literature.  We are reading some really good books and we use those to find issues and write a persuasive essay.  So far I have been able to see how this will work well for Lillie.  It's very slow in explaining and builds each week.  And I could not ask for better books to study! The books we will be using this year are The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Carry on, Mr. Bowditch; The Magician's Nephew; Number the Stars; Amos Fortune, Free man; The Secret Garden; The Door in the Wall; A Gathering of Days; Crispin: The Cross of Lead; and The Bronze Bow.

We are studying Grammar by learning Latin.  Lillie has done a few small courses in Latin, but this year we started in earnest! I have already seen where having a limited knowledge of Latin is helping, but this is really just about memorizing rules, declensions, and conjugations.  I am having to learn this right along side her.  Once I got going, it just makes sense too.  But I notice that it requires a daily commitment.  Kind of like Alexander as he tries to walk.  If he slows down too much he falls, but the faster he goes the longer he stays up.  I'm finding that when I slow down I tend to forget what I had been learning.  So studying each day is a must for us both.  Lillie is required by her mean teacher to do this one for an hour a day, no questions asked.

This is just an overview of what Lillie is learning.  The material she is learning is rich, the skills she is mastering are invaluable, and the method she is using is time-tested.  I'll share what Camille and I are doing this year in another post.  And maybe a glimpse into our days.  We are still trying to get a handle on a good schedule and after trying different things, I do think we are getting closer.  That is until Alexander changes his schedule again!

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.  --Aristotle

I read this quote the other day and have been pondering it ever since.  I tend to see things in black and white and not even think of other ways to do things.  This reminded me of what and how I want my kids to learn.  Hopefully I'll learn it in the process.  We need to constantly evaluate what we believe and be willing to change what is wrong or bend if necessary on what is not absolute truth.  To do that we must first know the truth and then evaluate everything by that.  CC is giving us the opportunity to do just that.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Morning Time

This is what most of us look like in the morning.

Every year we set out to do what is known in the homeschooling world as "Morning Time." And it just conjures up these delightful pictures of time around the breakfast table with everyone smiling and happy and learning all the fun things.  Things like Bible verses, poetry, songs, art, music, and neat facts.  Throw in a read-aloud and a cup of cocoa and scone and it is just about the most perfect picture I could paint in my mind.

Except that picture never plays out how it looks in my minds eye.  My girls (or maybe it's me!) are just not wired for it I guess, but this year I'm throwing out the picture but keeping the things we do in place.

We eat breakfast pretty quietly around here.  The girls are not fully awake and at least one of them is pretty grumpy.  So I typically let them eat in peace and read the paper while music is playing. I came up with the idea of having a different type of music playing each week of the month-- 1st week is classical, 2nd is spiritual, 3rd is patriotic, and 4th is music from a specific decade.  After we finish eating, we do a few things that I still want Lillie to participate in with us. This may or may not work long term. I like the idea, but sometimes those ideas don't pan out.

We go over CC memory work (I am happy that Lillie can sit in on this and at least get some of cycle 3 in her head since she never had that one), read from the Bible (Proverbs and Psalms), learn poetry or speeches (currently The Gettysburg Address), read about a neat place in our world and find it on the globe (using Wonders of the World as a source).  That is all we've been able to do most some a few mornings.

I had plans to start back our read-aloud (currently Anne of Green Gables), do an artist study, talk briefly about a musician (all genres), and get back on our Bible study (using The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study) at least some days.  It will require waking the girls a little earlier and I just have not managed to do that. They covet their sleep and I covet a few more minutes of working in complete silence.  I've tried doing two of these (read aloud and Bible study) directly after lunch and this seems to work well.  Maybe this will be our "afternoon time" instead.

There is so much to be said for a set time like this each morning.  Given Lillie's schedule it is really the only time in our days that something like this could happen so I feel like it is pretty important.  It allows a slow, yet intentional, start to our days while learning a lot of things that tend to get pushed right off our schedule. Yet, some days it just doesn't seem like it is for us.  I'm grappling with how long to give something a try before tossing it completely.  Thoughts from seasoned home schooling moms with kids close in age to mine?

October Menu

I really need to get back in the habit of posting my menu each month.  I don't know if any of you want to read it, but it actually helps me cook what I plan.  And given I have most, if not all, the ingredients on hand already for all my recipes this month, I really should cook this stuff.  It also keeps the recipes in one place in case I misplace my copy. Our month does not always start on the 1st, it just depends upon when we get paid and I can get the groceries.  Both of those things happened recently so here goes.

I typically find myself perusing Pinterest a little more in the fall in hopes of finding a few new things to put in our recipe rotation. There are several that made this list and I hope we get to try them all! I've marked those with a star.

This time of year also makes me want to bake yummy treats! Some time ago and I pinned a recipe for Caramel Apple Scones.  I went so far as to print it out and put it in my "to try" binder and that is where it has been for a while.  But this morning we pulled the recipe out and got to work.  It was very easy and I do believe they beat any scones I've had at coffee shops or tea parlors. It would have been even easier if I had not been toting a little boy around while trying to prepare them! Here are a few other treats we hope to make this month!

 And just because you want to see him and he is really cute, here is Alexander cleaning his plate.  I've started putting his plate in front of him instead of giving him some here and there.  He likes this pretty well and is very good about not picking the plate up until he is almost done.

 And, it's gone!