Monday, October 1, 2012

19 Month Photos

Considering how I am botching/missing/ all of our poor little fifth child's milestones, I thought I should step out of my JC*Pennys rut and give the beautiful girl a proper photo shoot. At least!

And what a great shoot it was, with a wonderful friend to capture her curious ways at a nearby beautiful farm property! Thanks to Sally Belle Photography!



Sunday, September 30, 2012

One short update from HA

Just wanted to pop in to update this lonely place with a few of our current photos. It's all I can manage at this point in my life! I do so miss the blogosphere. I am hoping that this may be the start of more posts, but I wouldn't bet on it.

We are 11 (*gasp!!*) weeks into this school year already & I am prime for a break of some sort (perhaps sewing or crafting or reading or just lots & lots of sleep?). Jefferson is in 6th grade (11yo), Reagan is in 4th grade (9.5 yo) and both are really progressing nicely & adjusting to this year's structure. I am so blessed by them and am still as excited as ever to be able to take part in their growing & learning. Adam is in 1st grade (6yo) and just now starting to read. Lincoln is technically in Kindergarden even though he is young for it (4.5yo) because he is simply ready to learn - he is reading with Adam also. It is nice to teach them together but even nicer when they play together for hours at their Leg*os!

And finally, our little Baby Boo (aka Baby Bear, Boo Bear, or Mr. Alien Bear) is already 20 months old! She is the sweetest angel we have had so far and loves to try to keep up with her siblings by trying to talk, run, 'read' books and color. What a little JOY she is to us all! She can now say"Mommy's coffee!" so the next step is to teach her "Half-caf creamnosugar!", right?

No time for more as life is in constant motion around here and I'd like to try to learn to crochet rather than sit at my slow computer. Enjoy!

(4yo L)


(6yo A)

(10yo J)

(6yo A)

(R proud of her Leg*o creation)

(R feeding I - such a helpful big sis!)

(R & I at Science Factory)
(Baby I on the Fourth of July - 18m)

(L & A reading about volcanoes)

(J at Lego Robotics camp)

(Baby I LOVES to put things on her head!)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Weird Science Night

One of the things I love about being part of a home school co-op is having the opportunity to do 'group' learning activities that we might not be able to do at home with only 3 students. In the co-op setting we can practice persentations, public speaking, team sports, and other activities. But just last month we were able to participate in a "Weird Science Night" at our co-op!  Each kid got to choose a scientist to learn about, dress up as, and do an experiment or research project about.

Of course, Jefferson choose to do something Myth*busters related!  He has been obsessively watching that show on net*flix every chance he gets. I love how it stretches his imagination as to what he can figure out if he wants to set his mind to it - those guys never give up on a hypothesis! It always amazes me how my kids can be so self motivated IF they are interested in their subject matter. For his science project, Jefferson basically took a MB kit (he got for his bday in Sept) and ran through the experiments (all related to AIR PRESSURE) himself. Then he used his mad glog*ster skills (taught to him by his wonderful Mrs. Third Grade Teacher a few years back) and started slapping out his "lab write-up" pages on MB designed pages (that HE put together - glog*ster is kinda like an online scrapbooking or blogging arena). He poured every minute of his school day into it for 4 days while I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get display boards, display board decor, help the 3rd & kindergartener with their projects, and cater to Jefferson's demandingness (he hasn't quite adjusted yet to NOT being the only child - sheesh!).

I was really thrilled with his effort, his hard work, and his end product! He dressed up like Adam Savage to show it off at Weird Science Night (and I'm happy to say that although he's growing like a weed - I still had to draw his beard onto his face - lol!).

Reagan (3rd gr) took a different approach to her science project, choosing to build on the science that we were already studying this year. Since we have been focusing on ornithology for weeks, she choose to dress up as John James Audubon, a famous naturalist and artist known for his work with American birds. [We later visited his early American home in PA] She added her journaling pages to her display and added different 'habitat' scenes as a background for her display board. I took her to the library to do some more research on Audubon and she decided to try to copy one of his painted birds. The green parakeet at the top of her display (as well as the flamingo in the frame) is the beautiful result!

And as usual, Adam wanted to participate in all the science hooplah that was going on around the house.  So we turned him into Archimedes since that's what was fresh on my mind from Jefferson's history studies and we could make some of his concepts understandable to a kindergarden kid. We tried an experiment with aluminum foil to show how density affects how objects float. It didn't work well but he was super excited about his foil boat - lol! We tied a string onto his display board to show that the shortest distance between two points in a straight line. And he colored, traced, cut & paste bits & pieces to tell others about this ancient Greek. Although he wasn't too thrilled with wearing his adorable toga, he had a fun time & was so happy with all the work he did on his first science project!

What a fun & interesting time the kids had! They still pull out their display boards to enjoy their work and would love to do this all again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

16 Weeks Complete!

So we're speedin' chuggin' trudging right along with our school work around here and I just realized that we have carved quite a little chunk out of our total school year! 180 days doesn't seem that bad until you start counting them out ....or missing them for this or that illness or event. But I really wanted to see what it would be like to take the entire month of December off, so we started in July (too hot for the kids to enjoy playing anyway & we aren't beach peeps) and have managed to get 75 days finished so far.  How do our days go around here?

As usual, I haven't managed to keep up with photojournaling my brood but I'll share what I've got.  In our earlier school days we were able to study the creatures in our backyard as well as my new flowers (I swapped out my veggie garden knowing that the baby would keep from it). It was a fun place to read outloud, bird watch or practice some ball skills as well.

But most days now Jefferson is the first to get up around 7 o'clock (I am still slacking off in the a.m. and 'blaming' it on the Baby even though she sleeps well through the night for us) and get started. He walks the dog and then starts his Bible reading and study - this year we've gone with the Sonlight plan. It works but isn't the most motivating for him.  I haven't yet figured out if that's just a curriculum issue or more of a heart issue. Or possibly the fact that he does it on his own and I'm not in discussion with him about what he's learning as I used to be.  :-/  Hmmmm....might need to rethink that & get us all back into a family sit down study/read instead.
(Daddy leads home church some Sundays)
But I usual...

Baby & breakfast keeps us from starting much else until 9a.m. but at least Jefferson can still get a little independent reading or vocabulary or grammar done while Reagan can get her phonics finished before then.  Granted, that's all on a 'good' day where no one is cranky, sleeping in, or ignoring my pleading to "put that dog down and get started so we don't have to be all day at this!"

If (and this is a BIG 'if') I can manage to get the little boys somewhat quietly occupied and the Baby sitting on the floor (she loves to cry after me to see if I'll just sit with her instead of heading to the table to teach), then we work on math and spelling.  It's the only combo that I can manage to multitask - calling out a word & sentence for Reagan while I help with geometry for Jefferson (his lessons are done independently with this program).  This is his 5th grade year and he's finally come to the place in math where he meets frustration weekly and I'm struggling to teach him to perservere and read through twice when things aren't 5-second simple (as they almost always were in arithmetic).  This is where he frequently speaks out of turn at me in his impatience with himself and me. In return he receives my montra "This is not about finishing your checklist. This is about learning so please slow down & try again!"  I think I should tatoo it on my forehead so don't become hoarse - lol!

Reagan's response to spelling has been quite positive considering this is the first year that I am teaching it formally to her. At first she would get upset if she missed a word, but we have gotten into a pattern that works for her. I 'say-spell-say' the word after using it in a sentence and then she traces it with her finger in order to study.  We do this for however many days we need to until I see that she's ready to write the words at which point she will do them on paper. If we've studied them, she almost always get the paper 'test' correct and then she feels great about herself! It's always such a blessing when we find something that works for her, even if it takes more times for me to integrate into our day.
(Reagan working on her Early Explorer's lapbook)
(Archimedes science experiment with Adam)
(Jefferson beating me at Scra*bble - a.k.a spelling practice)
Usually by 10:30 in the morning I am just starting to feel like we are getting somewhere (IF I've gotten the meal planning done the evening before, otherwise that totally clutters the morning. Ugh.) when someone somewhere ends up screamingyellingstompingthrowingdying about some ridiculous thing. My first thought is usually "Please, please settle down so I don't have to kill anyone!" and then they push my thoughts on to "Alright - find me the duct tape & the padded room so I can just get these lessons done!"

Ahhh, the joys of toddlers!  Don't fret - I don't have a padded room or duct tape - lol!

Math is next for me to work with Reagan while Jefferson works on more independent work, such as his dvd spelling lesson, a composition revision, spanish, latin or piano. I always hope that her math lesson will be short & sweet so that I can get Jefferson's Institute for Excellence in Writing lesson finished before lunch. It's rare that she gets hung up on something - the Right Start Math program just seems to lay things out in small, manageable pieces allowing for plenty of practice. Our biggest problem with this subject for her is that the doggone noise level in the house has usually reached ear-splitting decibels by then which is VERY difficult for her auditory processing ability. I used to be able to toss those other little people outside but more often they are getting exiled to the basement play area for this lesson. There just is no sitting & playing quietly at the table with those two!  :-/

At some point in the late morning I try to slap a lunch meal together. It's always boring and always light and almost always late. *sigh* I've gotta start planning better so I've got leftovers ready cuz once that Baby is down at 11:30 I don't want to be bothered with food -I just want to get some more lessons finshed while I still have the energy! On MWF, this hour is when I try to stuff in some phonics and/or math and/or penmanship and/or reading for Adam (who has usually been begging me all morning to 'do kindergarden').  I LOVE his enthusiasm and have finally learned (what is this - my 6th year?) to go with the flow & just photocopy something for him to do to feel included in whatever topic the 5th & 3rd grader may be working on. For example, he hasn't a clue when the ancient Greeks lived but had a ton of fun coloring in their buildings, warships, and all of their gods/godesses and slapping them into his own handmade lapbook (along with Spiderman and Woody of course) for him to enjoy 'reading' later. His creativity makes me happy (and it keeps him from bugging the other noisy boy in our house - lol!)! It's so nice to see his personality through his tablework!
(Working on his science project)
Well, if you've read this far I assume you're tired already.  Well, so am I by this point in a typical day!! My energy has been slow to return after the lastest baby and my poor diet doesn't help me to get through the days well. Lincoln STILL is waking us 1 to 3 times many nights each week.  That combined with my body's reaction to sugar & junk (my go-to stress food!!!) does not bode well for the character development of my children. I carry much guilt in this area because if there's one thing I can do to help my kids and to love them, it's to keep my own self healthy & rested so that I can be joyful and patient with them. A day at a time, I guess. I am learning to choose sleep and Plan*et Fitness over chocolate - but only slowly - lol!

Anyhoooo... I don't even know the real point of this post since I'm just kind of meandering around my own thoughts here. Day in the life kinda thing I guess....

After lunch, I feed the Baby Boo (this is the name that has stuck around here as well as Boo Bear - so silly but very sticky) and try not fall asleep in the chair as I do. My montra at this point in the day is usually, "Someone get on that piano NOW!  Jefferson, get outta that computer chair!  Boys stop killing each other!" all from upstairs to down. BabyBoo won't eat well if I sit downstairs with her and so the house goes to chaos while I let myeslf rest & try to enjoy my little bit of time with the cozy warm smiling baby. Thankfully, my older two kiddos also substitute as my coffee baristas and bring me my afternoon 'kick-in-the-rear' (cuz 2:30 always seems to drag on my eyelids)!
(Jefferson w/ his piano teacher - Ms. Laura)

3:00 is when I drag myself back into focus and we work on a couple more lessons. Most days we have history books for me to read aloud to them as well as either a science lesson, art lesson, or intro. to music lesson. We're using Apologia Zoology - Flying Creatures this year and have only just finished the section on birds (thus the ornithology science display for Reagan at the science fair). We are finding it pretty cool to learn to be amateur birders! We've visited Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve and I'll post later on our field trip to John James Audubon's Mill Grove house.

I've been pushing pretty hard to stay focused this year because I want a long Christmas break. The baby sure does change the dynamic - really defines what it means to 'juggle'!  But for as much as I make sarcastic comments about trying to sell this or that child on e*bay, I know that the grass is not greener anywhere else.  I love this job. I LOVE my kiddos. I love teaching them and cooking for them and being here with them everyday ....even if it IS a noisy and messy and sometimes frustrating task!