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Showing posts from July, 2014

Hachi

Sometimes I find myself writing posts in my head and then I have to stop whatever it is that I am doing and get my thoughts out.  So I sit and write and this is why my house is always a mess.  Most people do not stop unloading the dishwasher just because a thought pops into their head....do they? Anyway....my thought for today centers around a cool teachable moment that happened Monday.  It made me think again of what school meant to me.  I spent my middle school and high school years in Glastonbury, Connecticut, a suburb of Hartford, which was and still is a highly competitive academic town.  I bought into the philosophy of competitive academics wholeheartedly.  I wanted my name on the honor roll.  I wanted the academic awards at the yearly awards night.  I wanted As on my report card.  I wanted a high class rank.  I wanted all these things but I was never made by any of my teachers to examine why I wanted them.  To most of us, it was just a grade, a score, a rank, a bragging right.  …

Piano Binder Project

Now that the decision about piano has been made, it once again fills my house.  Grace has been working diligently on her church music.  She will be performing at our new priest’s installation mass the end of August and this means learning a new piece of music, He Has Anointed Me.  It is beautiful and challenging.  When Grace practices, we find ourselves humming the hymns all day long.   Working with three different teachers this summer left her a bit disorganized.  We put away the sheet music and scales books that she no longer needs right now.  She took her two binders (one for each teacher) and consolidated them into one beautiful three ring binder.  She used tabs to separate the parts of the mass (opening song, offertory song, communion song, closing song) and has a pocket for keep special songs for holy days and holidays.
This project involved a trip to Target with Greg and about 2 hours of work time.  Now that her binder is complete, it is much easier for her to practice.  I did no…

Silver Sands State Park

I have had my iPhone for 2 1/2 years.  It has gone everywhere with me.  The day I discovered Instagram, my poor Canon Rebel was packed away and dust began to collect on the camera case.  Recently I discovered that my beloved iPhone camera does not seem up to the challenge of capturing the special moment in our daily lives.  The sharpness is gone.  The pictures seem a bit flat. I am rediscovering the joy of my dslr camera.  It is harder to upload pictures to Instagram.  They first must be transferred to my laptop, then emailed to myself, opened on my phone, then saved to my phone camera roll. This cannot be done on the go.  Pictures make their way to IG hours later which spoils some of the fun.  It makes me dream of the new Samsung 16 megapixel cameras with wifi/3G access but really....that is so unnecessary.  I do wish that Apple would upgrade their camera from 8mp to 16 like the other phones have.....
Sunday we took at walk to one of our favorite spots for sea glass searching, Silver S…

Piano

The girl's music teacher recently told me that many students drop their instrument once they reach high school.  They compared it to sports.  The lower level sports are fun.  They are social activities.  Once they make the high school team, time in the summer is devoted to their sport, practice occurs every day while in season, the competition is fiercer, the coaches may be tougher.  Many kids lose the love of the sport and they stop. I can somewhat understand this.  After all, how many kids actually go on to play their sport in college?  And after college what options are their for a person who likes to play soccer, or football or basketball?  Yes, there are pick up teams and adult teams but so few adults participate in these after college.  Unlike some sports, music is an art that can be practiced for a lifetime.  I suppose it is natural to phase in and out of musical interests, certain genres of music, intensity of practice and so on but if you have access to your instrument, yo…

A few extras

A few extra photos that I really like from our trip to NYC but that did not make the Instagram cut!








#Instabookclubharriet

One of the benefits of homeschooling my girls is that despite their age difference, they both join together for reading.  When I conceived the idea of A Literary Tour of New York, it was for Grace’s 9th grade fall semester, but it also serves as Lilah’s 7th grade fall semester reading.  Harriet the Spy is not going to be found on any high school reading list, but it sparked the idea for this course and we are not discounting it since the themes the book explores pertain to teenagers (bullying, exploring individuality, strong female characters, income disparities, cultural issues, mother/daughter relationships and more).   To extend our reading we explored the practice of book banning, censorship, and used technology to create an educational brochure about banned children’s books.  We created a hashtag #instabookclubharriet on Instagram and joined together with families across the country who were interested in reading this classic and posting pictures of their activities online.  Sever…

Riding Camp

Life is not perfect.  It has ups and downs.  Not every activity is perfect.  There are always positives and negatives to every situation.  Riding camp was no exception.  
There were positives: the beautiful setting, the calm dynamic of this group of girls, Grace was able to ride bareback and loved it, Lilah discovered that she did not hate yoga. Both girls adored the older teen staff members.   There were also negatives: not as much riding time as anticipated, not being entirely comfortable with your horse, the extreme heat during the week of camp, the biting insects.
I am proud of my girls for sticking this week out.  They desperately wanted to walk away from this experience.  After a long conversation, Greg and I decided they needed to persevere through it because they were learning something new each day (dressage rather than hunt seat, the anatomy and care and keeping of a horse, yoga).  It may not have been their favorite week ever.  It may not be something they ever do again.  That…

Mini Golf

We have made the decision that we are comfortable having fewer friends and more freedoms.  This is not an easy decision to make when someone in your family is an extrovert.  Often I have wondered if she would like to have kids around her all day, moving about from class to class, spending time in sports or after school activities...but she assured me that is not what she wants.  She wants time to sleep, to be able to eat a full home cooked meal at noon, to play the piano all day long, to learn with her dogs, to ride her bike, to take classes that interest her, to be sick without worrying about make up work, to not have testing pressure, to take vacations not according to a school schedule and to not have to sit so still.  All valid points.  But so are the points for friends, sports, student council, pep rallies, school sweatshirts, and yearbooks.   In choosing to homeschool highschool, we accept a small base of friends.  The friends we have are good friends and there is always the poss…

Arthur

The first named storm of the 2014 season occurred and Tropical Storm Arthur became Hurricane Arthur and our 4Th of July was affected by the passing glance at the Connecticut shoreline.   Blank Atlantic Basin Hurricane Tracking Maps can be found as a pdf through the National Hurricane Center @ http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/tracking_chart_atlantic.pdf  .  For storms generated off the western coast of Africa, Grace plots the points once a day.  However, this storm traveled quickly up the Eastern Seaboard, therefore, she had to research additional coordinates. 
We keep the map hung on our wall for the duration of the storm.  It reminds her to periodically plot coordinates. She used colored pencils to differentiate between the levels of tropical storm, category 1 and category 2 hurricanes.  Hurricane Arthur is now off our wall and in her binder where I am sure it will be joined by other storms.  Grace plans to map every named Atlantic storm this season.

"Working" at the Dog Kennel

Years ago we used to board our dogs at a local kennel.  The owner,  a Veteran, built his dream retirement facility where he can breed dogs, take in dogs for the day, offer training classes, grooming and boarding.  Grace has always loved dogs and was desperate to work there.  He told her she could...when she was older.   Now she is older and perfectly capable of doing manual labor.  Most animal organizations here would never let a 13 year old volunteer because of liability issues.  When she was 7 or 8, I had the hardest time finding a rescue to let her work even though I accompanied her.  The shelter won’t let kids under 18 volunteer and honestly, with her empathy for animals, I am afraid the shelter would just break her heart.  This is a private facility and each of these dogs is loved and owned.  They are just visiting, not residents looking for a new home. Grace bravely asked if she could work and the owner said yes and so began Grace’s next adventure in volunteering.  This one is tuc…

A Literary Tour of New York City: Harriet the Spy

This is when I start thinking about next year in detail.  I have spent a year preparing to homeschool a highschooler, but now it is time to put my plan into motion.  While we were listening to our current audio book, Harriet the Spy it occurred to me that we could have a lot of fun creating a course: A Literary Tour of New York City.   

Harriet the Spy is set on the upper East Side of Manhattan and many of the places she travels in her daily routine can be walked.  The girls and I have never had an egg cream and I believe you can still get these at Junior’s Restaurant, hopefully at the Grand Central location.  We could walk the same route she used to spy on her neighbors, see the school her school is modeled after and the home that was used as the model for her brownstone.  We can imagine where Ol’ Golly had her German Dinner and the movie theater she visited.  We can walk and see if there is a park along the East River where the fateful journal stealing scene took place.  To take this…