Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Week back to School

While I would love to do a weekly report every week of the school year to document what we did that week, I know it isn't going to happen. But I figured I can at least do this week since I have a moment now and hopefully I can get off to a good start.

 First day of school was spent going to the orthodontist. Sophie gets her braces off at the next visit. They are going to do a fake tooth on her retainer to fill the gap where the cleft is. She is very excited to get the braces off.
 So Monday didn't end up being the first day of school really, since we had to go into the Bay Area. We did run into our favorite old library to return and pick up books. We also stopped in on some friends to chat and play for a bit.  Great way to start off the school year!

Tuesday the official school work began.  Molly of course wanted to make breakfast. She insisted on Merida's Scottish Scones.

 They turned out yummy. I used craisens rather than raisens.
Then we got to work. After starting with our scripture/devotional time we jumped into History. We are doing Story of the World Volume 4 this year and it started with Queen Victoria and the crystal palace. So of course we built one out of paper.

This week we also read a bunch of books about Victoria, Charles Dickens and England. The chapter also had a section about the British in India so later in the week we watched Lagaan.

The three older kids are all doing Saxon Math and they enjoyed starting their new books because the first few lessons are all review and they could get through them quickly.  Molly started doing Math Mammoth addition. I didn't have a math book for her so printed out pages from Math Mammoth that I bought for Henry years ago. It seems to be working out fine.

Molly has also been doing her reading each day. I haven't been moving ahead yet, mostly review what she is has already done. We haven't been dilligent about reading lessons over the summer so she was a bit rusty.  We will get there!
Molly's selfie.

She is also still very excited about her cook book and we finally got around to cooking that sheepherd's pie. Ours wasn't nearly as beautiful as the picture in the book and didn't come out in a nice square piece like they displayed in the picture but everyone agreed it was tasty and that we should make it again some time.

 So far so good with the Disney Cookbook.

We did the first week's assignments in our Physics too. We did all the experiments and even made the hovercraft. I only had large yogurt tubs to make the hovercrafts out of and the boys would like to try other smaller cups or tubs but these worked and the boys had races across the table blowing their ships along.

So lets see.... Math, History, Science, Cooking, Reading.... oh yeah there was a little spelling practice that went on this week too. The kids each are still slowly making their way through their Spelling Workout books that I got them last year. I guess it won't hurt to finish off last years books before moving onto something new.

Sophie started her Williamsburg Intermediate classes on Wednesday. She loved getting back into the groove of waking up early and getting to her class. She really does love those classes. There was mostly orientation type assignments this week but she already has the checklist for assignments and readings for next week. She better get started! The list looks long.

We also found a new treet for the end of the day. Microsmores. We cover a plate with animal crackers, sprinkle on some chocolate chips, Then place some mini marshmellows on top. We microwave the lot for about 20 seconds. We take more animal crackers to "top off" the smores and then gobble up the sticky gooey mess.

 Everyone seems to enjoy these treets.

Our Audiobook for the week was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It was great and the kids flew through the disks because they wanted to hear more and more of the story. They would listen in the car and bring it in when we got home.
We talked a lot about kindness and being different.  Great book for discussion!

Molly's favorite book this week. Falling for Rapunzel.

She loved the rhyming text and the funny things rapunzel kept throwing down. I think I read this one everyday this week and she got the other kids to read it to her too. She couldn't get enough of this one.

Peezy keeps us on our toes. She is getting big like a cat but is still very playful like a kitten. You have to watch out for her as she runs, jumps, pounces and climbs on everything.

That was pretty much our week.  I hope next week goes as well. We got done pretty much everything I had planned with a bunch of extras thrown in too. That almost never happens.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cooking like a Princess

Yesterday at the library Sophie found a book she thought Molly might enjoy.
Molly carried it home and poured over the pages.  I thought she was just looking at the pictures of all the different princesses cooking but she was actually studying.

Later when I asked the kids what they wanted for dinner. Molly pulled out her cookbook and showed me what she wanted. She had Shepherd's pie picked out but I had to turn her down. I had already decided that some left over spanish rice was going to be the main dish.  Molly quickly changed her plan and flipped to a page to show me her desired project.

I looked at the recipe and decided we could give it a try. The braided bread was really biscuts with ham and cheese thrown in. I didn't have ham but we did have some cheese and the other ingredients to make the braids. We set to work adding flour and baking poweder and even using the pastry cutter to break the butter into the batter.
Molly had a great time mixing and adding and finally getting to cut strips and braid her dough into little biscut braids.
She watched them while they cooked and then enjoyed them with our leftovers
Everyone seemed to enjoy this new recipe. I have a feeling we are going to be making them again.

This morning when I asked her what I should make for breakfast she pulled out her recipe book and showed me the pancake recipe.  She got her wish and we made pancakes this morning before church. She is still waiting for that shepherd's pie and the really wants the scones, monkey bread, magic wand cookies, and especially the bulls eye pizza.

It really is a very cute cookbook and so far the two recipes I have tried have been very easy and yummy. My little princess certainly is having fun planning meals. We may have to renew this library book as many times as they will let us or else we will just have to get a copy of it to her for Christmas.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What is the Plan?

I keep reading posts on blogs that list out and explain what their curriculum choices are for the coming year. I always feel a bit overwhelmed when I read these because they sound like they have their act together and I feel like I am winging it.  I do have a plan of sorts but if I know how I work I tend to mix things up later, add and drop things here and there and yet somehow my kids seem to know how to read, do some math and write. The rest (History and Science) just falls into place because of the environment we create in our home.

But just for the record. We do have a plan.

Sophie - 8th Grade
She is taking a full class load at Williamsburg Intermediate.
 Here is her book list. I have been trying to read the ones I hadn't read already and these are some challenging texts for me to get through. They certainly stepped up the reading for 8th grade.

This should cover all the subjects so I am more of a cheerleader in her schooling rather than the teacher. However, I am not overly excited about Williamsburg's use of Khan Academy as their Math program so we will be using it mainly as a supplement and working through Saxon Algebra 1.

Sophie will also continue to take piano lessons. We will have to fit in some Physical activity too. Once the weather cools down we should take more bike rides and trips to the tennis courts again.

Ian - 5th Grade
Ian is taking two online classes with Leadership Education Academy. I signed him up for a Writing course and the Literature class. I know these are not his favorite subjects but I figured if he wants to be ready to start Williamsburg Intermediate next year he needs to get used to the idea of taking classes like these.

This leaves me with History, Science, Math and any other electives.

Ian is doing Saxon Math 65 this year.

History and Science will be done with Henry. We should be covering Modern history. I have Story of the World on the shelf and we may use that but I really want to focus more on American history. So we will cover the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution this Fall.

Science will be Elemental Science Physics for the Grammar stage.

Ian will also have piano lessons and he is already half way through his Mod design class with Youth Digital.

Henry - 4th Grade

I signed Henry up for his first online class. He is taking the Science Explorers class with LEA. It is an experiment to see if he can handle online classes. In the past he just wanted to type in the chat box and do silly things so we will see if he is mature enough to handle classes now.

He will be doing Saxon 54 for Math.

Doing history and science with Ian. We had to do some California History again to appease the charter school we are a part of but that shouldn't be hard since we just did it last year when Ian was in 4th grade. Maybe we will take a trip up to Sacramento this time to visit Sutter's Mill and such. We have done the California Missions in the past and don't need to repeat them.

I will need to figure out what I want to do with Henry's Writing and Language arts. I know we will be doing Spelling and finish up IEW most likely but I haven't commited to anything yet.

Henry also has piano and this Fall he will be on a Soccer Team. This of course means we have two practices and a game every week for the next 12 weeks. Should be fun!

Molly - Kindergarden

I am really not planning on doing a whole lot with Molly's Kindergarden year. We will focus on learning to read mainly.  We have 2/3 of the IEW Pal Reading and Writing left to get through. We will continue with that program.

I don't have plans for anything formal for Math. I haven't started Singapore math until the kids are reading pretty well. I don't want to have to read every math problem to them and they usually jump into Singapore math 1 pretty easily sometime in Kindergarden or 1st grade.

Molly will sit in on history and science with the boys but not have the writen assignments.

Reading and writing is pretty much it for Molly. She is such a tag along kid, I feel bad sometimes.

We will be doing scripture each day and have some piece of poetry we are memorizing. We were doing great with Shakespere before Summer distracted us. I would love to continue. It is just too cute to see Molly recite Shakespere and all the kids love to talk about the characters and tell the stories of Shakespere's plays.

The boys have cub scouts and Sophie has Young Women's activities.

I would love to have an artist and musician each month but haven't planned it yet.  I also have Latin sitting on the shelf which should be a part of the schedule.

We will just have to see how it all fits into our packed full days.

I may not have everything completly planned out but at least we have somewhere to start.

At the moment I need to ween my kids off of the t.v. or computer screen. I find screen time is harder and harder to keep control of. It usued to be so easy when each kid got their hour of play and a movie every once in awhile. Lately it has become an all day affair as Ian does his Mod Design class or is "programming" his Mindstorms. Sophie is "checking her email" and chatting with friends on the computer. Henry just wants to have as much screen time as everyone else is getitng and Molly is always in need of easy entertainment. It is the major dilema in our home at the moment. I wonder what would happen if we went without screens for an whole week. I can't really commit to that since I have to be in communication with people (There is always drama going on in Primary!).

Like most things we will just see how it all plays out.
I try not to stress too much about it. It always works out in the end.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Spent a Week at Girls Camp

Sophie and I just returned from a week at Girls Camp. This was Sophie's 2nd year. I was asked to be a 4th year councelor. On Monday we headed up to Clark's Fork. This is the same camp grounds I went to as a youth. Sophie actually went to this same camp last year when she attended camp with her cousin. A lot has changed in the 23 years since I was last a girl attending camp at this location. This is where I went to camp my first and fourth years of girls camp.  I even found one of my camp pictures hanging in the lodge. 

 The theme for camp this year was "In the competition between good and evil, play on the Lord's team." This was taken from Elder Holland's talk "We are all enlisted" that he gave in 2011.  With this the theme it ment there was all sorts of Sports analogies.

 While most of the week is spent on more spiritual things there were quite a few opportunities to do some things these girls had never done before. They brought in a climbing wall and the girls got to give climbing a try. These are pictures of Sophie's first climb. She made it all the way to the top and pressed the button to ring the buzzer.
 Evidently she didn't think that was too bad so she tried it a few more times. She got so good at it she had someone time her to see how long it took her to climb up. I can't remember what the time was. I was just happy she was willing to give it a try and had enough courage to do it a few more times. I gave it a go and got almost to the top before my grip slipped and I fell slowly to the ground.
 As a 4th year councelor I got to go on a pretty good overnight hike. My group of girls backpacked up into the Sierras. Our hike was only about 4.5 miles but it was almost all uphill. We started at 6,300 feet and camped for the night at a resevoir that is at 7,100 feet. Evidently the highest point in the trail was 7,600 feet.

 We were pretty tired when we got to the resevior but still took a short swim. The water was pretty cold.
 We didn't get enough climbing in because once we reached our campsite and had our dip in the lake we had to climb the rocks and look down on our campground. I don't think I have ever see the sky so blue as it was up here in the wilderness.
It was a great week at camp. I am a bit sun burnned and my back and hips hurt from sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag all week, (even with a mattress pad the floor isn't that comfortable) but I had a great experience and look forward to doing it again next year.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Introducing a few classics to my kids.

I admit I watched a lot of tv when I was a kid. Or at least it feels that way because I am constantly telling my kids about movies I remember watching over and over again while growing up. Lucky for me many of these films are availiable to watch instantly on Netflix. 

 Today my kids are enjoying the air conditioned house rather than the 100+ weather. They are watching the Muppets take Manhattan.  I don't remember this one quite as well as the Great Muppet Caper or the Muppet Movie but I certainly remember watching the Muppet show. I even had a Muppet show lunch box when I was in early elementary school.  So my kids are now aquainted with Fozzy Bear and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.  Even though these muppet movies are rather dated my kids still really enjoy the mayhem caused by these muppets.
The other day I also introduced them to Muppet Treasure Island. We tried to watch the old Disney version earlier in the Summer but my kids kept saying no. They assumed it would be boring. But throw some Muppets into the cast and all of the sudden the story looks like a lot of fun. 

 I felt really dated when my kids watched Honey I shrunk the Kids. I think I watched this one a hundred times. My sister, Julie, loved this one and would watch it over and over again until the tape (yes VHS. I know.... I am old) wore out. I don't think she has seen this one in years but now it is availiable on Netflix. My kids thought it was funny when the daughter in the story is talking to a friend on a Kitchen wall phone with a long cord. She gets all tangled up in the cord. I don't think my kids have ever seen a phone that had a cord. They also pointed out that the Mother uses a pay phone at the Mall to call someone. You certainly don't see pay phones anywhere anymore.  My kids loved the movie and were excited to find out that there were a few sequels. I had to remind them that sequels are never as good as the original.

I am going to have to peruse the Netflix library and see what other gems I can uncover and show my kids.  Summer afternoon movies are becoming a daily occurance so I need to add a few more films to the instant queue for them to choose.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What I have been reading this Summer

Summer hasn't gone quite as planned. I had this idea that we would continue to do school and my kids would do chores and not have their faces glued to a screen all Summer. While some of those things are happening I am afraid my kids get quite a bit of screen time and chores are either left undone or I get to them when I have the time.  I started off well and then lost my drive to crack the whip.

Hot Summer afternoons are great for staying indoors enjoying the air conditioning and reading. My kids usually watch a movie and I curl up in a chair or the couch and read.  Here is what I have been reading the last few weeks. Some of these I have read because I agreed to review them and others I am reading because they are on Sophie's list of books for the Fall. I figured I can help her understand her books and discuss them with her better if I have actually read them. Plus some of the books on her list are quite challenging and I figured it doesn't hurt to have me already aquainted with them.

 I thought I had read just about every book L.M. Montgomery wrote. I have many of them on my shelves, but Sophie's class is assigned to read Kilmeny of the Orchard. This is one I didn't have on my shelf and hadn't read before. Thank goodness it was free for the Kindle!  It was a quick read.  It certainly didn't take me long to read through. Since I have read so many of Montgormery's book I felt like this one followed her usual formula.  It almost felt like a Novella rather than a full novel. Since I only have the Kindle version I can't compare the thickness of the book to others I have on my shelf. It felt more like a short story. The characters weren't as developed and certainly not as vivid as Anne of Green Gables or Emily of New Moon. Infact this one is told from the man's perspective. I have never thought Montgomery fleshed out her male characters enough. And Kilmeny is mute so is a rather drastic change from "run on at mouth" Anne.  This was a fine book. Of course it was clean and I have no problem having Sophie read it. She shouldn't have any trouble getting through it. I just wonder why, of all Montgomery's books, her school picked this one. I guess we will see what direction the discussion goes.

Elantris is another book chosen for Sophie's Fall Schedule. This one is for her Humanities class and I am guessing they are reading this novel for the message it has about leadership, freedom and faith.  I really liked this one. It was a little hard in the begining. It is a fantasy world with lots of names and magic that I needed to get straight. It was hard to put down once I had those things sorted out in my mind. The characters and events became real and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.  Sophie may have a hard time with this one. She isn't very patient about books and if it requires too much work at first she may get frustrated but hopefully she will give it a good chance and let herself get wrapped up in the world of Elantris.

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes is one that I agreed to read and review. It looked like a fun light read and sounded perfect for a hot Summer afternoon read at the park while my kids splashed in the fountains.  While I read through the frustrations that Kat and Lucas have as they navigate the world of friends becoming more than friends, I couldn't help but be so glad I was happily married and that those things were left behind.  Betsy St. Amant wrote a lovely story about Kat and Lucas each following their dreams and figuring out how they can each have what they want and sill be together. I wish the book came with recipes. The Kindle review copy I was given didn't but hopefully when it is released it will include at least some of them. The cupcakes that are described in this book sound so good. I don't know if I would be talented enough to make any of them but I would be willing to give them a try, just not in large amounts.

Miracle in a Dry Season is a strongly christian novel about forgiveness and acceptance. Perla's sins are apparent to everyone and she is judged harshly because of that. The book does a good job of teaching the scripture "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone".  It is a lesson every person needs to be reminded of. We tend to hide and justify our own sins or faults while condemning others when we see there shortcomings. Lucky for us, God is forgiving and we can all enjoy being clean again. This was a lovely read and a sweet romance. Another nice book for a hot Summer day. Although the descriptions of drought hit a little close to home. In CA where we are living with water restrictions and burnt up lawns the descriptions of the weather and the prayers for rain felt very familiar.

Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons was very fun to read. These ladies are great at looking at Mormon culture and seeing the humor in it. The book feels like blog posts and skip from topic to topic so you don't have to read it all in one sitting. It was fun to pick up for a little fun here and then a little laugh there.  I even looked up Zandra and Tamu's blog Sistas in Zion to see pictures and any further information on these two funny ladies.  They will keep you giggling and smiling the whole day.

 We have been taking a few long drives this summer and have made it through a number of audio books as a result. While on our drive to Utah a few weeks back we made it through both the Candy shop war and the Arcade Catastrophie. Everyone including the adults enjoyed these stories. It made the long stretches in Nevada go by a little more quickly.
My kids liked but didn't love The Dark is Rising. I remember having this one read to me in about the 5th grade. The teacher read for about a half hour each afternoon after lunch and recess. This is one of those books I remember being read but not a whole lot of the story.  Since it was a Newberry Honor book I figured we could give it a go.

The kids enjoyed the movie after we finished the book but not enough to continue the series.

The next audio book I picked was The City of Ember. I had to explain what a Dystopia was since my kids have not become aquainted with that genre yet.  I didn't know much of anything about this book before getting it at the library. I had seen it on book lists but not read many reviews of it. It is a nice place to start as far as Dystopia books go. It is age appropriate for Middle grades. Certainly not violent like many Dystopian novels go.

The boys enjoyed the book and we watched the movie version of the book (not a close following of the book) but Sophie liked it so much she went and checked out the other books in the series and is currently reading through them. Maybe I will have her read The Giver so she is ready for the movie that is coming out of that book soon.

I am sure I have missed a few books but this is what I have been making my way through in June and some of July.  I still have a few more weeks before we have to jump back into our normal school schedule. I guess I will make it through a few more of the books assigned to Sophie for the Fall and I have a few more books in my Kindle that I have agreed to review. And before I know it it will be Autumn and cooler weather will set in. Great time to curl up with a book :) When isn't it a great time?!