Monday, October 31, 2005

Once Is All It Takes

With each of my four children I have used the terms right and left since birth. Time to nurse on the left side. Let's put your left shoe on. Switch your toy to you right hand. Your fork is in your right hand. Step up with your left foot. Let's tie your right shoe. The list goes on and on. My oldest is 8 and she still mixes up her left and right. How is it though, that I can use the word crap once and the three oldest ones pick up on the word, repeat the word, use it in a sentence correctly and never get it out of their mind? The child's mind is an incredible thing.

I'm Hearing Voices

No, it's not ghosts and goblins, but Grace's new found reading voices. Since her reading ability and enjoyment of reading have flourished, she has been adding voices to her reading. I have to admit that sometimes when she reads I find myself drifting off, either to sleep or to thoughts of my to do list. But not today; today she read to me a story about Piggy Wig. Piggy Wig was looking for the king's cook. Well he came upon three different cooks all with different voices. I found myself being pulled into the story, not because of the gripping story line, but because of the sweet, manly, and booming voices of the cooks. She found a way, using her voice, to make the characters come alive. Listening to the earliest of readers is fun because every word is new and the child is so excited to sound out yet one more 3 letter word, but then they transition into a stage of reading that is faster, but choppy and slightly (alright extremely) monotone. Today Grace transitioned into yet another phase of reading. What a complete joy to hear her read a story and not just a set of words.

Presto Change-O, a board game game in the mail today. I ordered it from ebay. The object of the game is to be the first to save $10.00. The game was fun, held their interest and reinforced the counting of money. I can tell already that it was money well spent. Don't you just love ebay?

Go Back to Bed

Saturday night we fell back in time. We put the kids down at 7:00 because they were so tired from their Halloween party sleepover. So actually they went to bed at 6:00 because they got an extra hour of sleep. Well, so much for the extra hour of sleep. Ray was up at 4:00 am and the rest of the gang followed by 5:00am. We ended up going to 7:30 mass on Sunday morning and arrived in plenty of time, which is unusual for us, even at the 9:00am mass. By 7:00 pm on Sunday night everyone was so tired that they almost fell asleep watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. They fell into bed and were asleep before they said their prayers. Monday morning rolled around way to fast. The gang was up by 5:09am. It's only 7:52am and I am ready for a nap! Do we have to be productive every day? My mind says yes, but my drooping eyelids say no way.

We've been reading Pippi Longstocking. I believe it's a series; it seems we are reading the first because they are introducing Pippi and giving background about why she lives alone. The kids love this book. It's definitely an easy read aloud and even little Lou sits and listens once and a while.

Grace and Lee are already outside checking their traps. It's a drizzly morning, dreary and cold. I can't wait for the hot tub when we go to Eau Claire, one week from today.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pumpkin Weigh-ins and More

We are still harvesting cranberries. Looks like next Wednesday will be the last day of hauling in the fruit. The nights have been cold so DH has been getting just about 4 hours of sleep; that on top of a heavy work load during the day is taking a toll on him. Everyone around here is a little grumpy.

Even though, we have been doing some fun stuff. Grace finished Robinson Crusoe Reader. Lee worked his way through Bob Books Set B Level 2. Lou is singing the alphabet with only a couple of missing letters and Ray says "thank you" in a 15 month old way (very sing songy). Tuesday we talked about bar graphs, as a way of organizing info, and headed outside to weigh all our pumpkins. We took a clip board, pencil and kitchen scale outside. Cold wind was blowing from the North, but we made it through in about 35 minutes. The kids had fun estimating how much each pumpkin would weigh, and got very good as we progressed through all of them. We ended up weighing about 25 pumpkins from all over our yard. Then graphed them, discussed weight ranges and tallied up the most popular weight and least popular.

Tomorrow, October 28, is the anniversary of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in 1884. In honor of that day, today we read Lisa in New York, The Copper Lady, and This Land is Your Land. The three older kids were invited to a sleepover Halloween party, so we spent most of the morning preparing costumes and snacks. We made caramel covered cranberries, a favorite fall treat around here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Most Awesome Thing

Last night I saw the most awesome thing!. Grace, who is eight now, made chocolate chip cookies (dad's recipe) all by herself. They taste terrific. Then after the younger three kids were in bed, she asked if she could stay up to read. I looked over at her relaxing on the loveseat and there she was actually reading, silently to herself (I could see her lips moving), a chapter book. This may not seem like a big deal since she's been reading for quite some time now, but she's never actually read a chapter book silently to herself. She usually picks up short board books or Little Critter books to read to herself. It was such an amazing site. Although she put in all the hard work of learning phonics, sight words and more phonics, the feeling of accomplishment, on my part, was almost overwhelming. Without a single day of real American school, together Grace and I conquered her biggest step in learning so far, the ability to read. I could almost cry, I'm so happy for her.

Today we listened to an addition rock song audio tape. It was fun, simply because it got the kids moving inbetween their math lesson and journal writing. Grace liked it because she could pretend to be a rock star (her life's ambition). Lee thought the rock beat was good, but definitely did not like the math facts being yelled out.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lots of Reviews

For starters, we've had such a great week. Grace is progressing great through The Robinson Crusoe Reader. I just received the newest catalog from Christian Liberty Press and the reading materials look awesome. If they are anything like Robinson Crusoe they would be worth it. Grace loves the story and I love the way it adds new words and then uses them frequently. Lee is moving right along in the Bob Books. He is reading Jumper and the Clown. Good story which introduces reading the color names. We've been using the Happy Phonics program. It's laid out well and the kids love the games. Still, their favorite is the castle game. We wrapped up our study of the constitution and early presidents last week and now are moving on to studying the life of St. Francis of Assisi. I chose a read aloud, Song of St. Francis (1952), which has a boring cover. It's plain brown with the title only on the spine. They were not thrilled at this choice. Lee chose, Hour of the Olympics(magic tree house), as a read aloud. Now that we are six chapters into each book they like the story of St. Francis much better. That's definitely a pat on my back. This morning we frosted pine cones with peanut butter, rolled them in bird seed and then hung them in the trees for the birds. We also filled the bird feeder; all this was done in honor of St. Francis, patron saint of animals.

Totally Fun Science Project - Super Starch

Mix together 1 cup corn starch and about 1/3 cup water. Try to stir to make a paste. It doesn't mix easily. Play with the mixture and talk about states of matter: solid, liquid, gas and sometimes plasma. The mixture will remain a liquid when still and become a solid when kept in motion. It's hard to explain, but really works and is really fun. My very tactile daughter was kept busy playing with this for almost 2 hours. Eventually it does dry slightly and needs a little water added to continue working well.

Cranberry harvest is in full swing. It's so much work, yet so satisfying to see the crop that dh worked so hard for. The fall colors are at full peak right now and the dark red cranberries against the reds and oranges and the bright blue sky is something awesome.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

The United States Constitution

For the last two weeks we have been studying the time period around the writing of the constitution. We've read an array of books, none of which were spectacular, however they all did the job of informing us about the details. One that stands out is, ...If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution, by Elizabeth Levy. It's taking a while to read, due to the huge amount of info it contains. But, we are enjoying it anyway. Once we were introduced to some of the key members of the Constitutional Convention, we stopped to listen to an audio tape, Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame and What the Neighbors Thought. We listened to the story of George Washington. Did you know he was 6 feet, 2 inches, his teeth were made of ivory (not wood) and he died of pneumonia? The biographies make these men's lives come alive.

Grace's Favorites
American Girl Dolls
rollerblading (bought with her birthday money)
dancing like a rockstar
talking on the phone

Lee's Favorites
chipmunk trapping
dirt bike riding
baked chicken
wrestling with dad
playing in the woods

Lou's Favorites
playing with horses
Dora the Explorer
listening to Little Critter books
chips 'n dip after church

Ray's Favorites
pulling and chewing my hair
mandarin oranges
driving toy 4-wheelers across the floor
standing on top of the dining room table
taking baths (not the hair washing part)

Thursday, October 6, 2005

We Are On A Roll!

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I've posted. In that time our church women's group hosted the fall deanery meeting. Since I'm the president I spent many minutes (which added up to hours) on the phone, checking on all the details. Basically, we hosted a board meeting, social, raffle, dinner and evening program for 110 women and priests. It was a terrific evening, however, I'm glad it's over for another 6 years. We also celebrated Grace's 8th birthday, with a trip to a riding stable, where DH, myself, Lee and Grace all went on a trail ride. It rained for the last 15 minutes of the ride, but was still fun. We got to trot, which we all loved, except Lee. He doesn't have enough weight to keep him on the horse. When his horse trotted he just bounced all over the saddle. Grace loved the ride, but I think she loved the fact that we went to Subway before the ride, even better. Lou and Ray stayed home with grandma.

We own and operate a cranberry marsh. It's family owned and has been in business growing cranberries for about 55 years. With that said, harvest season is upon us. The preparation of harvesting equipment takes about 1 month and the actual harvest takes about 2 weeks. DH has been dilegently working to be as prepared as possible. I am preparing for the harvest season by baking lots of quick breads and muffiins so that DH has something to snack on during his long hours beating the beds (knocking the cranberries off the vines) and frost watch (running irrigation sprinklers to wet the cranberries during the night when it freezes). I am happy, but the kids are not, that we do not have any tours scheduled for this season. The last 5 years we've either had our homeschool group or MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers) out for a tour. I think just about everyone I know has been here for a tour at one time or another. I guess I shouldn't meet anyone new if I don't want any more tours.

The title of this entry was chosen with the anticipation of actually writing about homeschooling. We've developed a great schedule this year. My plan was to share that schedule along with the details of what materials we are using. I guess that will have to be next time.