Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week of November 21

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In My Home This Week:  The girls are feeling the holiday spirit but quite frankly, I am not.  I am not all Ebenezer, but I feel like life has to slow down a bit in order for the holiday spirit to sink in.  I am working on making that happen.  
For the first time since we brought both girls home, I feel like I have my calendar organized.  This is a huge feat for me.  I was missing orthodontist appointments, double booking play dates and not honoring time for ourselves because I was never sure where we were supposed to be and when.  I kept a date book that worked -- when I remembered to bring it with me.  I have tried phone calendars and even computerized ones but I could not find one that worked for my family until I discovered something that was right under my iCal.  I took my date book and transposed all the dates through the end of the year. But I would still have the same issue of not having my computer with me when I was out and about.  That is until I got an early birthday new iPhone 4s!  I am not a techy gadget person.  I do not need the latest and greatest phone.  In fact, I have wanted an iPhone for about 2 years.  But I have to say, I love this phone.  Love it.  Love it. Love it.  My calendar syncs with my phone wirelessly!  My photos download to my MacBook seamlessly.  My music is all there at my fingertips.  My books.  Ah....I never thought I would take a phone to bed with me to read.  But I do!
I have come to realize that my calendar is something that needs time and careful consideration.  It has to be reviewed daily.  Changes need to be made when needed and I have to be bold enough to say no to what cannot fit and make adjustments for the sanity of my family.  So far, it is working!
In Our Homeschool This Week:  We have been working on math.  The program is going well.  I love to see the girls move ahead in the months, closing out with a profit or loss.  I have begun tutoring a seventh grade boy in math once a week.  Last week I had to educate myself of what seventh grade math looks like.  It gave me a bit of a shock.  The California State Mastery Test has problems that are difficult.  I used it as an assessment to see which concepts this child needs to review.  I was left with a bit of a panic attack feeling like I still have so much to teach to prepare my girls for this level of math.  I took a deep breath and blew it out slowly.  I have a plan.  We are working on that plan.  After this program, comes Key To books for fractions, decimals and percents.  I am ordering the fraction set today so I can use it to tutor.  My girls will take a standardized test in the spring to see where they place statistically against their peers.  
I know my girls each have a strength in the sciences.  If they want to pursue that (as I know Grace does) they need to not only do well in math, but to excel in math.  
We learned about some of the history of Thanksgiving that has been pushed aside in favor of the celebration of the first Thanksgiving care of Squanto.  My girls learned that Squanto was a slave, that is how he came to speak and understand English.  They learned that the Pequot War (found in our area) was a bloody war that had many casualties.  After each “successful” slaughter of a Native American village, there was a “thanksgiving”.  Eventually Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving holiday, on the same day he sent troops marching against the Sioux.  
Grace began a new piece of writing this week, a continuation of her Annie Popper series which is a historically accurate series of weather related events told from the point of view of Annie.  So far poor Annie has lived through Katrina and a tornado and is about to encounter the New York blizzard of ’10.  We discussed that her character has to age along with the events, just like Harry Potter.  If she was 10 during Katrina, she now has to be 15.  Lilah is working on a piece inspired by her recently read Poison Apple Series about a creepy sleepover.  I just finished one of her books, Curiosity Killed the Cat, and now I feel the need to visit Sleepy Hollow to show her the town that served as the setting for this book.  So much of the book took place in the graveyard, which our dear friends, the Creeklings, just visited!
We have one co-op day left and one meteorology class left. This week is shaping up to be a super duper busy one but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I think come Friday, I am going to be a doing a happy dance.  

Some Highlights Since My Last Journal Post:

I made Helena's Veggie Burgers (love them!)...

I cooked a full vegan meal and had friends over to share...

We had some friends over for a movie night...

We made some cool turkeys....

We played some Monopoly Build It....

Had a baking day...

What We Are Reading:  I am so glad I discovered Jennifer Donnelly.  After finishing Revolution, I immediately downloaded another book of hers.  When I was young I had a bad habit of holding my book too close to my face.  My Grandfather would constantly tell me I was ruining my eye sight.  Now, thirty years later, I am sure I am legally blind without my glasses having absolutely ruined my eyesight!  I can only imagine what he would say if he ever saw me reading off my iPhone! 




What I am Pondering:  Growing children.  Not only are my girls growing physically, they are growing emotionally as well.  It is strange to me to be sharing shoes and sweatshirts.  I look back on our family albums with a mix of fondness and regret.  Part of me wishes I could go back to that time and just have them be 3 and 5 or 1 and 3 for a day.  To play with matchbox cars and read picture books, to rock them to sleep in my arms.  I wish I could take the knowledge I have now and apply it then.  There are so many things I would have done differently had I known......
I look at my girls forming friendships and carving out their place in this world.  If they were in school, they would have a ready-made opportunity each day to see their friends.  They would see each other in class, in the cafeteria, in gym class, on the playground.  The time spent together would be different, shorter, structured, not open to doing what they want to do, but nonetheless, it would give them the opportunity to spend time together every day.  Being home, with our schedule, it can be hard to make quality time, especially when some of their friends live over a half hour away.  It takes creativity on the part of the Mom’s to drop off, meet half way, organize a day that allows for both learning and play.  
Take Monday for instance, Grace wants to meet up with friends to work on their physics project which is due in co-op Wednesday.  In order for this to happen, I have to get her to another friends house at 11:00 to catch a ride,  Lilah has to do the dog walking job by herself (which will allow her to keep the extra money) and then I have to drive about 40 minutes to pick up Grace, and drive the 40 back (before rush hour traffic hits) in order to be home to tutor at 5:00.   Giving her the opportunity to meet up with her friends and work on a common goal of presenting a pretty great project, is worth the effort involved.  Hopefully I will have a video next time of their project.  The goal is to post it on youtube and see which team gets the most views.  
To bring this back to the beginning, I am looking forward to the month of December.  We will have time to learn at home, in our pajamas if we want, with our dogs, in front of the fire.  Time to work on our notebooks, time to practice the piano, time to read book after book after book.  Time to finish up our business math program.
Sandwiched in between will be some exciting things like a sleepover at their Aunt’s house, meeting new friends, going to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a Girl Scout Christmas Party, and preparing for a Destination Imagination competition in January.  There will be friends and hot cocoa and gifts.  There will be church and prayer and preparation.  I think I can feel a bit of the holiday spirit seeping in.......

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