Random updates

School is still going well.  Amazingly there have been no tantrums or screaming from either of us regarding school things, only a bit of foot stomping when I decided she was not rested enough to learn and sent her back to bed one morning.  At this point I think the learning curve is steeper for me than Brooklyn though 🙂  I’m not thinking the modified approach to Story of the World is one we will follow in the future.  Though Brooklyn is doing fairly well with the read and narrate thing I can see it’s moving a bit fast for her; doing projects along the way would probably give her time to digest better.  I’m not yet prepared to start with projects but I’m going to try and see if I can get it worked in for next week.  Grammar (First Language Lessons) is going beautifully- she’s even finished her first memorization!  Writing is, um, penmanship practice.  Nothing exciting, just getting in the practice she needs.  It’ll be a bit more fun when she gets through the remedial letter books and I can find fun quotes or have her write letters to people.  Reading is going okay.  We are picking up where we left off in OPG, which is very easy for her, and also reading Charlotte’s Web.  She’s having a bit of trouble telling me about what she read, but with a few prompting questions can remember better.  I haven’t decided what book to do next.  Since we’re seeing Willy Wonka (I think in Dec) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will make the list in the near future, but I’m thinking not next.  She seems to be having fun with All About Spelling and we’re flying through that fairly quickly, as I expected.  Today we bought a magnetic board and will magnetize all the letter tiles asap.  It’ll save a ton of time setting up and keeping organized.  I’m glad I already got the card box and kinda wish I’d gotten the nice dividers as well.  Who’d have thought spelling would rival math for random stuff you didn’t think you’d actually need?  Anyway- about math.  She’s grasping the concepts pretty well and I think there is adequate practice between the text (we go over together), the workbook (her independent work) and the HIG (which I am SO glad I bought) games.  My only issue is trying to break down how much to cover in a day.  The schedule in the HIG is hard for me to understand and I think we’re somehow already working on 3rd or 4th week stuff.  Oops.  Lars joined us for a bit today and seems to understand addition amazingly well 🙂  In science I learned today that when the teachers manual says the preferred reference is an excellent source of information, but a bit dry to skip it an go right to library books.  Yikes- my eyes were glazing over and I was the one teaching it.  We love the encyclopedia parts, but this Science Around the World may accidentally fall into the big blue bin.  Since I didn’t know how long it would take to get butterfly larvae (aka caterpillars) we’ve started on that project a little early.  The little guys are thriving!  Moved them to their bigger house today.   Ordered from butterflynursery.com and got them really quick, plus they even sent us extras.  Totally recommend!  That’s it for now.  Oh, I guess except for field trips.  Yesterday we went to the zoo and had quite a bit of discussion about how animals communicate, their defenses and why some of them are endangered.

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Getting in the rhythem :)

We’ve got the 3rd day of homeschooling under our belt now and all is going well.  It’s taking us about 3hrs on average to get school work done and Brooklyn has been very cooperative about it!  She really seems to enjoy that I let her pick what order she wants to do subjects in, and already seems to show some favoritism toward Science.  I’m so glad we decided to start early.  We’ll be in a good routine by the time Lars’ preschool and Brooklyns YMCA, art and piano classes start in mid-Sept and early October.   But for right now we still have plenty of time for playdates, shopping and errands, and just enjoying lazy summer days.  Especially since I have an early bird and we sometimes get an hour of school in before Lars is even out of bed.

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Field trips!

Brooklyn and I spent some time this morning looking over the field trip site and choosing some activities for next year.  I was happy that nearly all of them had a Thursday option, which is our designated field trip day 🙂   That includes 3 of us for: Rapunzel, Willy Wonka, Busy Town, Pinkalicious and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie plays at the Childrens Theater, plus the Young Peoples Concert and Ten Grands for Kids at the Schnitz!  That’s 5 plays and 2 concerts for $131 if I did my math right.  We’re on the waiting list for the Mounted Patrol tour.  And I know there are some other things that aren’t on the schedule yet like Schools on Trains and some OMSI workshops.

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I guess we are officially homeschoolers now

Brooklyn's last day of K

Brooklyn's last day of kindergarten

Yesterday was the last day of school.  I guess that makes us officially homeschoolers now.  Hmm, I don’t feel any different.  We are starting to fall into our days at home summer routine (I’m pretty sure at least half the summer is days away from home!).  So it’ll be nice to be able to settle the kids into ‘normal’ when we get back from trips.  Mornings we see the sun we’ll hunt down a playground (there are at least 4 in walking distance) or play in the yard, and mornings without the sun we can run errands or visit friends and family.  Then we have lunch, read for 30mins and everyone has quiet time for an hour.  Today Brooklyn actually fell asleep!  After naps is more playtime, hopefully outside and then after dinner they are allowed to use their hour of screen time.  And no, I don’t follow that hour rule myself.  One advantage to being a grown up 🙂

Our upcoming week starts with Aaron out of town for a 4-day photography thing.  (thing= conference, class, meetup, something that takes him away from home)  And since I feel left out we will be having a bring your bike playdate/pizza party/game & movie night here.  Yep, definitely feeling like an adult.  Tuesday my aunt and uncle who I haven’t seen in about 6yrs fly in!  Yay!  Dinner with them, and if I’m lucky Aaron will let me sneak out to the wine tasting.  Wednesday is packing day and Thursday we go to the beach for a week!  I’m so excited.  I really think I’d be okay living at the beach for the entire summer.  Even though the ocean here is approximately 2 degrees above freezing.

As some of you already know we also have a not so pleasant experience coming up next week as well.  A couple days ago my great-aunt Ellen passed away at the age of 94.  Somehow I really always thought she’d make it to 100.  She was the type of lady who was always nicely dressed and perfectly mannered.  She wrote thank you notes and told us we were beautiful and said my dogs were well behaved even when they tried to climb on her lap (guessing she really wasn’t a dog person even though she never said so).  Ellen was the last person in my family of my grandparents generation that I knew well, so even though she was tiny and frail somehow as long as she was around I was still a little kid to someone.

Ellen (Dec '07)

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We got in :)

We received our letter from HCA earlier this week that Brooklyn got in to all her requested classes!  I was worried about the YMCA one.  Phew, that’s one less thing to worry about.  Now on to getting the piano moved over here, putting in a few final supply orders and getting ready to enjoy summer.   Though somehow I get the feeling that once school is out we’re going to get a whole lot busier.  In addition to family vacations, camping with friends, and girl scout day camp I’m going to have to start sorting out lesson plans, making my library lists and oh yeah, still figuring out how to organize everything.

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I need bookshelves!

Workboxes IKEA style

Or something.  The milk crate of books, cardboard box of math manipulatives and random pile of other stuff on top of the dog crate just isn’t going to cut it for finding what I want when I want it.  And I’m pretty much at a loss of what to do here.  It’s not like there’s much extra space in that room to be adding in more storage.  I’ve run across a couple of ideas other people have done, but nothing is jumping out and saying ‘this is the right thing’.  First would be the workbox solution.  Each drawer or box contains one subject, to be updated daily with all the necessary supplies and books and allows the child to work independently where possible.  And to easily see what still needs to be completed for the day.  Or there’s the traditional bookshelves approach.  Easy to implement, hard to maintain (have you seen our play room floor?!).  And then there’s the pile on the table method…  Crate of books plus rubbermaid of supplies…  Actually using my desk?  Yeah.  A little help here?  What do you think I should do?

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One of those things everyone should know

Maybe not quite as high on the list as reading, but still something that will come in quite handy and add to a person’s independence.

Lars' first bike ride

Yep, Lars rode a bike today!  And he’s one step ahead of Brooklyn there.  I had a feeling he’s been able to for awhile.  He’s been really good on his Strider glider for a couple years now. (yes, he’s only 3)  We just didn’t actually have a training-wheel free bike til I put one back together this morning.  The story behind the disassembled bike is that after seeing how great the glider was for Lars, and how troublesome the training wheels were for Brooklyn I tore apart her regular bike (with the help of a good friend and the internet) to create a glider for her.  Let me tell you- gliders are fun!  I took it out for a spin to make sure everything still held together of course.  But Brooklyn only tiptoed around on it and still fought every time I asked her to give it a try, despite her little brother riding circles around her.  So since I think summer may be around the corner I put the pedals back in to give it another try and sent Lars on a test run.  The bike is still a bit big for him (16″) so I helped him get started, but after that he was down the driveway and around the cul-de-sac like he’d been doing it forever.  Still doesn’t quite get the brakes, but we’re working on that, and he has other methods of stopping.  It was amazing to see him just go like a big kid!  After we came in I immediately began searching for a more appropriate bike for him, and we’re going out after dinner to check the first one out.  Yay for Craigslist, lol.  Probably we’ll put the trainers back on Brooklyn’s bike just because I think riding with them is better than nothing at all.  I just wish I’d known about gliders from the beginning.

Lars' first day on a pedal bike (Brooklyn's)

Update: Got Lars the new bike though I’m not terribly impressed with it.  However it was worth the $20 since Brooklyn wanted to ride it and is now riding big kid style 🙂

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Blown away

Brooklyn blow away

Well that was how the weekend ended anyway.  This was my first time out to Deschutes River— I had no idea quite how windy it was going to be!  I’d even contemplated bringing the kite and decided against it.  Oops.  We had a lovely campsite with plenty of space to run, nice view and access to the river and TRAINS.  Forget camping and nature, we didn’t miss a single train that went by.  There would be a rumbling, and a horn blast (or 5) and all the kids, big and small, ran out to watch it pass.  The first morning we took a short hike to do a little railfanning.

Lars watching a train

That would be taking pictures of trains, in case you don’t have a couple rabid foamers in your house.  Aaron even gave me the first lesson on the old camera he’s giving me (Canon 40D- and lesson was where to find auto mode, lol).  Then after lunch we drove to the Historic Columbia River trail and explored down to the tunnels and back- very cool.  It was pretty breezy the whole day, but certainly tolerable.

When we woke up Sunday (supposedly the ‘nice’ day) it was cloudy and blustery.  Hmm, good day to take a drive and hope it calms down.  So we went to Stonehenge which was pretty neat though I was quite frustrated that the one lens I had did not zoom.  So… yeah.  Fun to look at and the kids got to run amok for awhile and climb on some rocks.  Not a great spot for a picnic though so we hunted down a park in Goldendale on the way to the observatory.  We had it almost to ourselves and it was great; the kids were on familiar turf (no setting new boundaries or rules) and everyone really relaxed.  I am totally looking up nearby playgrounds next time there isn’t one at our campsite!  The observatory itself was kind of a bust.  Lecture-style tour and since it was cloudy we didn’t even get to look in the telescope.  Unanimous decision to skip out early.  I could see it being a cool adult thing for the night session, but I will not be taking kids back there again.

I'm sure it was meant for jumping on.

By the time we got back to camp the wind was really howling.  I took the kids to lay down for a nap (after 2 late nights and a Dramamine I needed it) and Lars fell asleep right away, but the tent was flapping against me and Brooklyn on our side and the sound thundered in our ears.  Even the trains, so loud to be heard over everything else the previous day, were drowned out in the wind.  I got up and we played around with trying to make a wind block out of a blue tarp and a couple trees.  Sorta worked.  The guys had taken down our canopy- aka ‘kite’- while I was attempting to nap, so now it was just the tents attempting to take flight.  All 7 of them!  It was getting time to start dinner and I was glad I was cooking on the electric wok, not battling charcoal or a stove being blown out.  About that time the first tent managed to free itself from the tethers and took off down the road.  Yikes!  Chased it down, but it’s next stop was the trash.  Next came some decent sized branches out of the trees- not big enough to smash a car, but definitely the kind to do some damage to a person, especially a small person.  Even though dinner was only halfway done we decided to retreat.  Amazing how fast you can break down camp under the threat of being blown away or impaled by a pointy tree limb.  Plus there was bits of nature in our food.  I would have got pics, but was a bit preoccupied.  You can check out a couple here.

Everyone converged on our back porch an hour and a half later for a much more leisurely scarfing of dessert fondue 🙂  Mmmmm.  Perfect way to end our adventure!

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Just like everyone else

Yep, we’ll be joining the herds of people headed out camping this Memorial Day weekend.  I thought we’d done well by picking a place on the warm, dry side of the mountains.  But, alas, it’s suppose to rain there this weekend too.  I have to admit I’m more than a little bummed about that.  At least I’ll be hanging out with my best friends with plenty of time to kick back and relax (or if you know me- play in the fire).  We often go with 3 other families (total 16 people!) and have a nice little trick for doing the least amount of chores.  Each family picks a meal or two and makes for the entire group.  So for a whole weekend I am only taking 3 meals worth of food, one of which is oatmeal packets for breakfast and another is a picnic lunch.    Plus I’m doing a couple desserts b/c I think I have the biggest sweet tooth 🙂

So today is packing day, and I have lots of lists and random piles scattered everywhere.  Mentally I break it down into 3 categories: gear, in the tent and kitchen.  Major gear is the tent (tarp, stakes, hammer), canopy, chairs, lantern, firewood, kids bikes, other toys/games etc.  In the tent is sleeping bags (cots/pads/air mattresses/blankets/pillows), clothes/pj’s/extra shoes/jackets, toiletries/towels & first aid kit, books/smaller toys, laundry hamper, rugs, flashlights.  And kitchen is all my cooking gear, food, cooler, tablecloth, stuff for doing dishes, clothesline, and citronella.  Way to much cooking gear- stove, wok, bbq and dutch oven are all going this trip.  Plus all the stuff to go with each.  Can you tell we do car camping with kids?  Sometime I’m going to do a easy no-dish weekend.  Maybe.

What does all this have to do with homeschooling?  Well, nothing and everything.  Nothing because it’s just a weekend getaway for fun, and everything because whether I want them to or not the kids are going to be learning something.  That’s what happens when kids play.  Oh, and we might go to Stonehenge.

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Box day- again!

She's always had a thing for books.

One of the fun parts of spreading out my planning for next year is that I keep getting presents from the UPS guy!  We came home today and had 2 more packages on the front porch 🙂  4 new science books from Amazon.  The good news is Brooklyn is just as excited as I am to get new books.  The bad news is she took the animal encyclopedia and scampered away with it (meaning I’ll get to hear “I know mom- I already read it” about a hundred times next year).  Yes, my kid likes reading encyclopedias.  Next time I’m thinking about ordering a 25lb block of clay.  Ha- She won’t be able to run off with that quite as easily.

p.s. It was kind of a double box day as I got back a box of math toys I’d lent out.  Lars will be so excited!

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