Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Week 14

Bonjour! We flew to France this week, leaving Norway behind. Actually, I'm not sure if we've actually landed, but we are learning about France anyways. We've all had colds except Christopher and so I asked him to "fly" by himself there while I just sat at the table instead of running around the house with our arms out airplane style. He got his toy airplane and flew it around our globe the long way and I'm not sure if he ever actually said it landed. We are however, on day 3 of France. Still not feeling 100%, but I really don't want to take a break before the baby gets here. And the boys don't seem to be lacking energy, just have an excess of snot coming out of their noses, yuck. And lots of coughing.

I'm 33 1/2 weeks along now, and we are hoping for 2 1/2 more weeks, but it will probably be more like 5 1/2, with her getting evicted via Pitocin! Are we ready? I am so ready to not be pregnant anymore! We really have nothing to actually get ready. Wait, two things...the bassinet can come out of Leah's closet and into our bedroom, but I already told Chris he can just do that when I'm at the hospital so it won't be in the way in the meantime. Also, we need to get Leah switched over to her big girl car seat and out of the infant car seat! Speaking of which, she had her 18 months check-up and is now 22lbs 12oz, which is at the 25%! Three months ago she was still well below the chart so she's had a huge growth spurt! Whoo-hoo Leah! So technically, she is now 12 oz too big for her infant carseat and will be switching to her new one the next time I drive somewhere.

Okay, back to the whole school subject...I wrote about bad attitudes I believe, in my last post. Well, over a week without computer games and things are so much better! The boys have not complained about school for the past two days...or complained about much else for that matter. I'll do a test next week to see if things get bad again but really, it's so much nicer to see my kids PLAYING with each other all of the time rather than watching each other or fighting with each other in front of the computer. I've read blogs of families who allow no computer time, even for educational stuff (which really, anything can be called educational these days!) and I've secretly thought it was a great idea. We'll see how things go.

So Christopher looked ahead and is excited about the French food we will be making for our French celebration. So am I! Truffles, yummy! He also started a new cursive handwriting curriculum from that combines art and cursive copywork and he did not like it at all at first because it was review, but now he enjoys looking at the paintings and finding the words he has to write. He's enjoying math more now as he's done with fractions for a while and is doing math that deals with converting days and weeks, hours and minutes, etc. He's about to finish up his Singapore Math 3b workbooks and when he starts the 4a workbook, he'll be starting 5th grade level math! I do not ever have him do more than one lesson a day now, even if it only takes five minutes to do. So I'm not sure why he continues to get more and more ahead, but as long as he understands it, I'll let him continue. I still rarely have to actually "teach" him math, which is nice, but I'm sure I will have to in the future. It's so exciting to see how well we both are learning the countries of Europe. We still review the previous continents we have studied so hopefully they'll stick in our brains. I've always been used to asking my husband, "Where's that?" when I heard about a country on the news or wherever. Now I'll probably know, as will Christopher.

Christopher has started more with writing things that are not school related, such as stories about his handguys, dialogue from movies that he's memorized and today he showed me a full page report that he wrote about the Concorde airplane using a book that he has. When we do english and he has to write or finish a story from his english book, I've been letting him change the names or write what he wants as long as it follows the grammar teaching that the book is trying to get across. He writes very silly things, but I figure that he's still learning what the english book is trying to teach him. He also likes to read his stories aloud that way, which helps with his public speaking I think. He needs all the help he can get with that!

Matthew is getting better with his reading. He still sounds words out rather than read them 'smoothly'. For example..."c-a-ca-t-cat" with all the sounds seperated at the dashes. He doesn't do it for every word, but one I can always expect is the word "said". This is how it goes, "s-a-i-d-sid-said". I think along with it in my head each time and find it funny/cute how it's a word he reads all the time and still sounds it out. It might be just from habit, I'm not sure. But he is improving a lot still. He seems to be getting lazy (messy) with his handwriting lately but I'm more focused on his spelling and putting things like capital letters and periods where they belong. It's still very readable, so it might just be his normal. Hmmm.

Gabriel is still his same sweet self. He wants copies of all the flags, and whatever else he can get copies of. He is great at cutting and pasting, as well as coloring, and gets compliments quite a bit from his teachers at church. He's so excited about starting kindergarten work when we start up the new school year. He tries to sound out words and is pretty good at it, but he makes his sounds so hard and emphasized that he can't always figure out how to blend them together. It's actually amuzing to listen to.

Alrighty, I'll try to keep up with updates. It's a busy time of year, but I have a big belly to slow me down a little bit!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week 12

Okay, so it's been another month since I've posted. Whoops!

We are on week 12 with Christopher which means we just flew over to Europe and are in Norway. We've read about Romania in our "Window on the World" book and I also bought a book called, "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" that is very eye opening about just how blessed and materialistic we are in the United States. With Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas just a month away, I hope we can show our children just how much we have to be grateful for. Sadly, I don't think we could ever really know, short of going to a country like those where most of the population have close to nothing. We also have borrowed the same sort of book from the library called, "What the World Eats". Seeing the weeks worth of food that a family in Chad, Africa who were living in a refugee camp has to eat is sad as well.

We finished South American last week and it's wonderful to see Christopher learning so much about other countries. I can even say that I've learned much about the geography of the continents that we've studied. LOL, it's fun to be able to label a map of South America and I'm already getting good at labeling the countries in Europe as well!

We still have a few more chapters in our missionary book, "Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer". If you've seen the movie, "End of the Spear", you'll know the story. We read the summary of it last week and I could barely read it through my tears and voice cracking from the crying. That's mostly to blame on being pregnant and crying about everything, but it is a great story about faith and compassion. I can only pray that my children will grow up to be that great. So hopefully I'll get through reading the last few chapters aloud; if not, Chris will have to.

Matthew is doing well with his reading. He likes doing math a lot more though and doesn't care to practice his reading outside of 'school time'. He's learning the books of the Old Testament very well and we are up to the story of Joseph in his Bible reading book.

We still deal with complaining and I think the computer has to do with that a lot. We've had to make it a rule that no one plays on the computer until after school is finished and if there is any complaining during school time, computer time is lost for the day. That helps a lot. The boys are up for a few hours before we start school so they have to find something else to do and can't argue about who's had more computer time.

We finished our semester with co-op and ended with an expo on November 13th. Here are some pictures of the boys with some of their class' work summaried.

I'm not sure if we'll participate in co-op in the spring yet. It starts January 24th and I'm not sure how old this baby girl will be then and her temperment and sleeping schedule, etc. If we do, I'll be doing my teaching hours in the nursery so it won't be too hard. Getting up and there by 9AM is the hard part!
Gabe turned four this month and Leah's now 18 months old. She's been walking for a month or so now but is finally starting to choose to walk over crawling most of the time. Little Anna should be making her debut in the next eight weeks. I'm hoping for four weeks, but am not counting on it, although now that it's getting closer, I'm starting to think about how much crazier it will be around here with five kiddos eight years old and younger, including a newborn and a toddler who's barely toddling! I will be nice to be able to breath and walk without pain again though. I'm sure having enough semi-painful contractions that it shouldn't be a long labor though! I've noticed that she favors my right side as to where to put her little bottom and it's funny to see it poke out further than my left side of my tummy.
Okay, some recent pictures...

Gabriel at his birthday dinner

Leah sitting pretty

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back on Track!

Yikes. We took somewhat of a break. With Matthew. A full break with Christopher. I can blame it on being busy (and exhausted from) growing a baby, right? Now we are back on track and will start where we left off.

I did school with Matthew a few times a week for the past two weeks and now he has completed reading about Creation in his Bible reader and is still learning different sounds in, ch, ng, y, etc.

In ECC for Christopher, we finished Canada and we started the week back up with a trip to Brazil and we'll study South America for the next three weeks. We "fly" around the house with our arms out and the boys do silly things like jump out of the plane or pretend that we crash. We also read about rain forests today and started a biography about Nick Saint, a missionary in South America. I'll update more at the end of the week.

I'll leave you with some pictures of the yummy Canadian dessert we made recently. A blueberry cobbler dessert and vanilla ice cream with maple syrup. It was a big hit!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 6

We finished our two week study of Mexico and Central America this week by learning more about the desert ecosystem and by doing more Mexican crafts.

We made Tissue Paper Flowers to decorate for our fiesta. I'm not sure that we did them correctly, but they were good enough for us.

We also made a Bean Bracelet and Sand Art (more Native American than Mexican).
Gabriel's sun.
Christopher made his sand art in the shape of the Washington, DC Metro tracks, complete with the colors of the different Metro lines. He has been very interested in all things DC Metro subway ever since our vacation to DC in April. We have MANY maps and lists of the Metro lines and stations made by Christopher all over the place. Some of the big ones take over our floors while he works on them. Should we ever go to DC again, we won't need a map of the stations because Christopher has them all memorized!
Matthew's sand art is in the shape of Jupiter.

We also made a pinata for our fiesta but it didn't work out. We set it outside to dry and the balloon ended up deflating and the newspaper all fell apart. We used an idea from another homeschooler's blog for a simple pinata.

We also made Clay Sun Faces. Again, this didn't work very well. Most of them fell apart when the kids handled them, but it was still fun for the kids to do.

Finally, we had our Mexican Fiesta to celebrate what we learned in the past two weeks. We waited until Sunday because Chris was TDY to Key West from Thursday until Sunday afternoon. Our menu consisted of chips with guacamole, chicken and cheese quesadillas, chicken flautas, beans, rice, and Mexican corn. The kids did great with trying everything but I did make things that I thought they'd actually like. The guacamole wasn't a hit with the boys, but Chris, Leah and I love it.

After dinner, the boys had fun breaking open the pinata. Poor Chase (our dog) ran in front of Gabe at the last minute and got hit! Luckily it was Gabe with the bat and the bat was a foamy material.

Another fun thing that happened this week was Christopher received a letter from the President! He wrote to President Obama in May as an assignment for school, so this has been long awaited.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Gluey Day

We've gotten a little behind on our art activities, but I went to the store yesterday and bought all the materials that we've needed and didn't have, so we'll be doing lots of crafts in the coming days. We have to get ready for our Mexican Fiesta on Sunday when we finish our study on Mexico.

Here, Christopher is making his yarn art. He gave up on the house and made Saturn instead.

Matthew made a colorful moon.

Gabriel made a sun. With a LOT of help from Mommy. He cut the yarn and told me the colors to use and I glued and placed the yarn down.

It took longer and was more difficult than I thought it would be. It needed a lot of glue to get stuck to the paper and not to our fingers. People in Mexico did this sort of art but they use wax instead of glue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 5

Well that month of school just kind of flew by!
We are on to studying Mexico and Latin America countries in Exploring Cultures and Countries. The boys were given their faux passports and we flew around our house (all of us holding our arms out as if we were the airplane!) follow-the-leader style until we landed back at the dining table. Through out the flight, Christopher made sure he announced when we passed over the Rio Grande river. Flying from Texas, we really didn't have too far to go.

We are learning all about desert ecosystems. Seeing how we went from drought conditions to getting rain nearly everyday for a week, it wasn't really good timing for the desert study. Things are actually GREEN-ish around here for the first time all year. And we've said good-bye and good riddance to the 100 degree days that kept us indoors for most of the summer. It's still clear enough in our memories that we can remember what desert weather feels like though. We also listened to some Spanish music on our "Wee Sing Around the World" music cd. We are to keep studying Mexico and Central America next week and maybe we'll listen to one of the many spanish music stations that we get.
We started playing a geography game where Christopher has to know the location of every country of the continant we are studying. He did great, only missing two out of all about 15 or so countries of North America. Me...not so well!
Christopher is reading and studying the book of Matthew this school year. Each week he has a memory verse that is from the book of Matthew and we are locating the places we read about in the Bible on our Bible map. It brings us even closer to Jesus by actually following his path of travels with our fingers.

Christopher with the bookmark he made with the name "Matthew" written out in Greek letters.

We'll also start reading about missionary Cameron Townsend once we catch up with our reading of "Kingdom Tales". I think he'll enjoy the non-fiction reading much more.

We finally did our "Apple Doll" project. Well, we've started it anyways. First we had to peel an apple and carve a simple face into the side. Then we baked it on low all day and now we have to let it finish drying out in the sun for a few days. Well, it's gotten rained on a couple of times so there's no telling when it will be dried out enough or if it will just get nasty and need to be thrown away. Poor dolls!

Matthew's moving right along with learning new vowel sounds. I don't think you really understand how complicated our language is until you have to learn it or teach it. I really feel bad telling him a rule and then explaining that some words don't follow the rule and you just have to keep trying out vowel sounds until it sounds right. He's doing well though and amazes me with how quickly he picks it up.

Gabriel continues to want copies of everything his brothers do. I've pretty much decided that I will start him with the kindergarten work next year (he'll be 4 3/4) but still keep him on track grade wise. So he'll be in pre-k but be doing kinder work and go at his pace. As much as I think "the later the better" regarding starting kids with formal school, he really wants to be doing what his brothers are and sits at the table with us everyday, answering questions I ask Matthew about reading . He still talks about how he "always wanted to be a Cubbie" in Awana and I think it's because it's the first thing he's done that his brothers have done. He's such a cutie.

Leah is still working on walking and talking. She amazes me with her vocabulary, although it's still all one-word things that she says. She'll repeat anything we say. Her favorite words are still "ball", "bubble", "dog" ("woof woof") "baby", "Daddy", "Mama" and now she says "eat", "brother", "duck" quite a bit too. But there are many many more that she'll say if we say to her, "say _____".

We are taking a trip to Houston in two weeks to visit with Chris' sister, brother in law and our neice who just turned two who will be there from Florida. I was hoping Leah would be walking by then (she's 16 months now) but I guess she can still have fun with Caroline just crawling around. We'll be staying in a hotel and I hate to think about her crawling on the floor there!
There is going to be a "Homeschool Day" at the Houston Space Center that we will be going to while there, so what a fun field trip!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 4

Chris didn't have to work on Monday (Labor Day), so after doing school in the morning (no day off or it messes up our schedule!) we took a (field) trip to Guadalupe River State Park for a lunch picnic and swimming. The kids all had a great time and with the drought here in south Texas, the river was the perfect depth for the kids to play in without being able to go too deep. Gabriel still insisted on wearing his life vest, which was fine with me. The river bed was covered with small rocks and dams had been built up everywhere by other kids, so there was almost no current in the water. Leah was happy to play in the water and throw rocks. The boys made islands with the smaller rocks and thought it was fun to cross the river since it was so shallow. We even brought our dog Chase and made him go in the water. He didn't like it at first (he's had some bad water experiences before...his first water experience was at my Grandma's lake property in Michigan when he walked right off the dock into the water!) but once I pulled him in and he saw that he could touch, he was fine.

We also went on a short hike through the woods, which goes along with out study about forests, but with this pregnancy complication I have, I'm not supposed to exert myself or exercise, so we didn't go too far. We were actually looking for a fishing spot but didn't find one. We did find several horseback riders with their horses that the kids thought were neat but our dog did not and kept barking at them, very annoying but I suppose he was trying to protect us from the huge "beasts".

Speaking of the baby earlier, we did find out that "it" is a GIRL! We're so excited; it will be fun for Leah to have a sister, and it's practical also as they will surely be sharing bedrooms thoughout their childhoods.

The rest of the week of school went well. Christopher is still learning about the United States in Geography. He's really enjoying his spelling and asks to do it first. We use Spelling Power so he only has to study the words that he misses as we test one time through. Then we add those missed words to the next days list. He liked doing the workbook pages last year in Spelling by Sound and Structure and missed them at first, but it makes sense to study only words that you don't know how to spell and Spelling Power isn't reccomended until third grade.
We are learning about Christian heroes in the book Hero Tales and we read about Harriet Tubman this week. Christopher loves this book and I do as well.

We finally did Matthew's worm experiment from a few weeks ago in MFW First Grade. We didn't use separate layers of sand and dirt as instructed, but of the five worms we put in the jar, only one of them died at the top by the next day. When I opened the lid to check on them, it was really stinky and I stuck the jar outside and haven't checked it since. Poor worms. Matthew had a great time putting the worms into the jar though.

Matthew is continuing to learn the long vowel sounds in his phonics studies. I can't say enough how much I love this curriculum that we are using. I am surprised everyday at how easy it is for me to teach and for Matthew to learn.

We started our REACH homeschool c0-op at my church this Friday. It's three hours every Friday morning and we all really enjoy it. Christopher brought home bug containers to collect bugs in for his "All About Bugs" class. He was also excited about what he learned in his "Rocket Science" and "Money Sense" classes. I didn't even think to tell him that he'd have to find his next class on his own, but he did fine. They wear name tags that have their classes each hour on them and he just found someone who had the same class as him. I'm sure he'd have gotten help if he was wandering around anyways.

I'm teaching science for the 3 year old class and the 4 year old class. We did color mixing this week and using paint with 3 year olds wasn't exactly "taking it easy" like I'm supposed to be doing. I was sore for the rest of the day. We will be toning it down for sure for future weeks. There are twelve kids in each class with three teachers, so I had help for it at least.

Normally, we will do school late on Friday, but this week we ended up not, I'm not sure the reason. We don't have a lot to do on Fridays anyways, it is our "light day" for Christopher in ECC and Matthew's lessons are so short anyways. We'll just have extra to do next week.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Week 3

It's crazy how quickly these three weeks have gone by, but we are having fun. In ECC, we've started our travels of the United States. Exciting, huh? It'll get better once we travel outside of where we actually live. I suspected, but have now confirmed, that Christopher can label all 50 of the states on a blank US map. I remember taking a test like that in 4th grade and knowing maybe a third of the states! We are still learning more about how to read maps using hemispheres, latitude and longitude, and grids and different types of maps. Christopher is still really into all that stuff. This week was also spent learning about forests, most specifically deciduous forests since that's what grows in the U.S. mainly (trees that change color in the fall).

We've been reading a book called Kingdom Tales, which is a fantasy type book (I think) that's message is about God's kingdom. Christopher really did not like it at first, but we read a chapter everyday and I think he's getting more into it. Today was my favorite chapter and the message it had was that we are all our own greatest enemies. Explaining that to the kids was great, and they really understood, which is a plus!

We've also been reading a delightful book called Hero Tales that is non-fiction and has stories about Christians with an emphasis on character qualities. We've ready about Dwight Moody for a few days now and we all enjoy this book a lot. It's great to talk about character qualities with the kids.

We had to choose a North American craft from "Global Art", our art book and have decided on a homemade apple doll toy. Now, to set about actually making one (or three rather, since all the boys want one.) We are also a little behind with two science experiments for Matthew. This was my M.O. for science experiments last year and we always ended up catching up every few weeks.

One thing to note, I have a complication with my current pregnancy (subchorionic hemorrhage) that requires a lot of resting (to slow the chronic bleeding), so scheduled nature walks and other non-restful things have to be put off until Chris can do them with the kids. Not to mention it's so stinkin' hot down here still!

Christopher has completed his cursive writing lessons and will now move onto practice and hopefully he'll be writing his assignments in cursive soon.

Matthew's plugging along well in his first grade studies. We now do one reading/writing lesson a day and it's quite a bit of writing so Matthew isn't caring to work ahead anymore. He does do more than he has to for math still though. In reading, he is learning the long vowel sounds now. He is doing awesome and I can't believe how well this is going. I always expected it to be more frustrating for both of us. Christopher learned to read on his own when he was four years old and I'm so thankful that I didn't try to make Matthew follow suit, as I'm sure he was not ready then and is 100% ready now. These little minds amaze me. Christopher and Matthew are almost attached at the hip and are alike in many ways, but have a lot of wonderful differences also. It makes me sad for kids in school who are expected to learn these things on the school's schedule and not their own.

Anyways, we did get a bit thrown off this week with having our monthly MOPS meeting yesterday. Matthew and Christopher go to a homeschooling room and I did sent their math and some other assignments for Christopher to complete, but there's much more to the day than that. Luckily our Fridays are 'light' school days so it wasn't hard to catch up today.

Next week starts both Awana and Co-op on Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings respectively. The kids have done great with Matthew's "Proverb to Remember" this week (with the help of a chocolate chip for a good effort). We'll see how learning verses at both home and Awana works out for the kids, especially Matthew. Even Gabriel will be starting Cubbies this year. At home, I never know when he will cry over being asked to say the Bible verse, so I'm wondering also how he will do with learning one verse a week for Cubbies!

Co-op is an awesome program for home schoolers that is held at our church. I can't imagine a better run program. This is the first year that Christopher got to choose the classes he wants to take and his three choices are: Rocket Science, All About Bugs, and Money Sense. His classes will be a mix of 3rd through about 6th graders I believe. Matthew and Gabriel both stay with their own grade. Matthew's class this semester has the following subjects: Solar System, Patriotism, Music, Poetry, PE , and Show & Tell. He is very excited, especially with learning more about the Solar System, although I'm really not sure that he doesn't already know everything!
Gabriel's class this semester has the following subjects: Circle Time, Bible Lesson, Science, Playground, Show & Tell, Storytime, and Arts & Crafts. Yours truly is the science teacher for both Gabe's class and the 4/5 year olds class.
Leah will be hanging out with the other one year olds in her class, just chillin' or whatever it is that a group of one year olds do. Maybe all of the walkers will rub of on her. She's fifteen months now and is getting there, slowly but surely. (Many of you don't know that she had hip dysplasia as a newborn and was in a body cast until she was six months old...not so easy to learn physical abilities that way!)

The older two boys have also started Cub Scouts on Monday evenings. They had a great time this week, even after Christopher balked at having to go (he's not into trying new things).
I've started an every-other-Tuesday evening Bible study on the book of Daniel. I already know that I love it after the first week.

So our school year is picking up and hopefully it doesn't get too crazy for us. We also have OCF (Officer's Christian Fellowship) on Thursday evenings. At least everyone but me have off Tuesday evenings and the Cub Scouts and Awana don't require me to go this year. I usually help out, but hey, I'm making a baby here!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Open House

I like to win prizes and here's a chance to do that while posting pictures of our homeschool is running the giveaway.

These are C's and M's school boxes. They have all of their books that they need in them. As you can see, C's (on the left) is pretty full this year. We do our schooling at our dining room table.
We use our maps a lot this year for school (and not for school; my kids LOVE maps and their favorite website in Above the maps is the timeline we used last year and will reuse for Matthew later this year.

These are the built in shelves that our house came with that I have taken over for our homeschooling things... extra supplies, relevant books, our printer/copier, maniplatives, preschool toys, etc.

When we move at the end of next year, we really would like to have a "homeschool room" instead of taking over the dining room table and then having to go into the living room for our maps and school shelves. I'd rather not have our house be taken over with homeschool stuff, but this is what we have been provided with and are blessed even if it's not my ideal.

Week 2

Our second week of school this year included some more fun activities. We are continuing an overview of the world in Exploring Countries and Cultures. Here, C made a paper doll chain and then drew each paper doll to be characteristic to a child from different countries.
Matthew has finished his handwriting review and is now reviewing reading short vowel words and learning the long vowel sounds. He memorizes a new Proverb each week. This is the first time he has had to write it down though. We are working ahead at his pace but now that we are into the third week in the teacher's manual, we are slowing back down to one lesson per day.
We usually do school when Leah is sleeping, but sometimes she joins us if we aren't finished yet or if her loud brothers wake her up. She loves to color like her brothers do.

I think it is so cute how she lies on her tummy to color on the floor...just like her brothers.

One of C's assignments was to make a "world cake". I let him make the whole cake on his own except for the oven part. He did a great job with measuring and following the instructions.

He also frosted the cakes himself. The cake on the top has the Eastern Hemisphere. The bottom one includes North and South America and Antarctica.

C is studying distance in math and has been coverting distance into meters, kilometers and centimeters, as well as yards, feet, and inches. He likes measuring things but doesn't care for the amount of calculations he has to do. As long as he gets it done, I guess he doesn't have to like it. He does get frustrated sometimes with how loud his brothers can be and that has been a challenge. He'd much rather do the map and art portions of his school work.
He's also going over a brief summary about different religions. This week we read about animism, budhism, islam, and judaism and how they differ from Christianity.