Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another Week has flown by.

This was our last week at Grandma's house so it was still a light school work week. I did decide to Row a book for a change of pace. I have had Down Down the Mountain sitting on my shelf for a long time ( I found it at a library book sale) so I decided that would be our book for the week. I can't say we gave it a real deep study. But we discussed cabin life and compared it to Little house on the prairie which we read earlier this year. The kids pointed out some of the comparisons Laura and Mary's life without me having to prompt them. They also loved it when we went out to Grandpa's garden and picked what they thought was a turnip. It was really a beet but it looked very similar to the ones in the book so they called it a turnip. We are still reading a lot of books about money. We haven't really finished our study on that subject. But overall the book was a success. They loved reading it each day which surprised me. I didn't know if the story was one that they would like.

For History this week we listened to the Story of the World chapter 3 on Hieroglyphics but haven't made our tablets yet. Next week we will tackle that one. We did go online to a hieroglyphics translator and saw what our names would look like in Egyptian. We did make some clay pyramids to go in our model of the nile. I made a little sphinx to go with them as well.

While we had the clay out we also made a little mummy to go in a cardboard mummy case which was a lot more difficult to make then I thought it would. Sophie is looking forward to getting out the paints next week to decorate the case.

Other than this there hasn't been a whole lot of academics going on around here. Mostly we have just done a lot of playing of computer games, some reading of books, and some art projects. Sophie loves to get out the elmer's glue and make collages of some of the things she finds around the house. And she got a few fun projects for her birthday that has kept her entertained. But mostly we have enjoyed being outside. The weather here is perfect right now. No longer hot but not cold yet.

We did climb up into Grandpa's Apple tree and pick a few bags of apples. We still left a lot on the tree for Grandpa to pick when he got home. I wasn't ambitious enough to want to make apple sauce and can it since I did another couple of batches of Peach Jam this week as well.

Henry loved picking up the apples that fell on the ground and throw them into grandpa's pool. I spent a lot of time with the pool net fishing out a lot of apples. I guess an apple tree right next to the pool isn't the greatest idea. But Henry sure had a great time

Before heading back to our house we spent some time at the best park. My kids love this park better than any parks we have where we live. So we got some pizza and had dinner at the park one night. They loved this novelty. We rarely ever get pizza and to have it at the park was really different for us. They loved it.

Henry of course spent a lot of time in the swings.

Ian loves the digger. He doesn't let anyone else play with this toy while he is at the park.
Sophie just had a great time trying out all the different climbers and slides. This park is large and has all sorts of different activities for the kids to try out. They could have stayed all night.

We are home again and will get serious again next week. I am planning to start First Language Lessons. And officially start a music and Artist study. I have decided to do Scott Joplin for our Musician. A little ragtime music will be fun. We know and listen to many of the classical and baroque musicians already. I don't know which artist we will study yet for October. How is that for disorganization. Maybe we should do someone modern like Pablo Picasso. We seem to study the impressonists a lot.

We also continue our bird watching and lots of bird books. I think we need to do a Bird Lapbook just so we can organize what we have learned.

Anyway.. that is what we are up to around here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Check out this Carnival of Children's Literature

I have spent the last few days on the Reading Railroad with this Carnival of Children's Literature. I haven't even made it through a handful of posts. I get sidetracked on each persons blog. I love books and this carnival is very informative! Give it a look and I am sure you will hop on board for a ride through great children's books! I am sure I will be aboard somewhere and for some time. Oh and if you are in the Carnival mood... Here is another one that I have visited recently and enjoyed very much!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday - BBC Costume Dramas

Last night I started to rewatch one of my favorite BBC period dramas and before getting to the menu on the DVD it had an add for other movies the BBC has done. I realized that I have seen all of the ones they talked about. I am a big fan of these films. I own a few of them on DVD but they also fill my queue at Netflix. They are my comfort movies that I put on when I just want to relax. I have read many of the books that these movies are based on so that may be why I love them so much. I get to revisit some of my old friends through these films. The BBC really knows how do costume dramas. Most of these have appeared on A&E or on Masterpiece Theater. Here are a list of a few of my favorites.

1. North and South - This is what I was watching last night. Maybe because it a pride and prejudice type story or it might be Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton but I just love this production.

2. Wives and Daughters - I just love Molly and all her different relationships with all the different people in her life, that are depicted in this film. What a great character!

3. Middlemarch - This is a somewhat older one. I remember watching it when I was in High School. It caused me to want to read the book. I loved the book and reread it now all the time. And then of course have to watch the movie again.

4. Our Mutual Friend - I really love Charles Dickens. This is a very involved story, like all Dickens stories. You definetly get caught up in the lives of these characters.

5. Daniel Deronda - I don't know exactly what I love about this story. I haven't read the book. I guess it is the music. The music is so good in this film. I really want the soundtrack.

6. David Copperfield - This is one Daniel Radcliffs first films. It is what helped him land the part of Harry Potter. He really does a great job as the young David Copperfield. This is one of my favorite Dickens novels and they do a great job depicting the story.

7. Jane Eyre - This is one of many different films I have seen of this story but this is a good one. I really liked that they give equal treatment to the St. John story line in this production. Others haven't given enough time to this part of the story. I used to hate Jane Eyre. I never could see how anyone would like Mr. Rochester. But that St. John story line is really necessary to understand why Jane goes back.

8. PersuasionThis is one of my favorite Jane Austen films. I think it is a more realistic depiction of life in the time period would have been like rather than some of the more stylized productions.

9. EmmaAlthough I love Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightly. I think this version of Emma is a lot better than the Gwyneth Paltrow film. The actors playing Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill are more like they are in the book.

10. Pride and PrejudiceWhat list of BBC Dramas would be complete without this 6 hour production of P&P. In college my roommates and I watched this one all the time. We were always shocked when some of our guy friends knew of the film. They always claimed that it was only because they had sisters but they would often sit and watch it with us. They got into it as much as we did. I got my husband hooked on Costume Dramas after I got him to watch this film with me. He didn't have any sisters so never got forced into watching it before.

There are so many good BBC films it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 but these are my favorites. I have watched these ones over and over again.

The BBC also does some great series shows like Foyles War and Jeeves and Wooster which are also really well done.

I have been watching these types of films since I was a little girl. My kids already get a dose of them at times but haven't caught on to them yet.... but they will love them too I am sure.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cat and Mouse

Last night I got to watch my parent's cat hunt a mouse. I was actually laying in bed and I heard her making the strangest sound so I got up and thought she really wanted to go outside. I turned on the light and saw her crouched and ready to pounce while a little mouse was frozen, trapped against the wall under a chair. I just stood there and watched the cat do its thing. The mouse would suddenly get brave and start to run. The cat would swat it and bat it about. Not kill it yet. It played this game a few times then the cat picked up the mouse and walked it toward me and put it down at my feet. Yuck! She must have wanted me to reward her for catching it but I wouldn't touch her.
The cat then proceeded to pick up the mouse and toss it into the air and knock it about on the rug. (My parents nice run in the front room where I often placed my babies down to play.) And then finally she was done with her play and, with her back to me thankfully, she started to chomp into the mouse. I thought there would be some leftovers on the rug for me to clean up but not one little bit of that mouse remained. Then the cat started looking at me like she wanted me to pet her and reward her for a job well done. I didn't even want to touch her. But I patted her a few times and told her she did well. That is what she is here to do. I then told her to go and get a drink (I know I would need one after doing what she just did) but she didn't want that. She followed me into my bedroom and wanted to sleep with me. I had to kick her out. I know she did what she is made to do but I just didn't want her on my bed or in my room so out she went.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Our Week in Review

We are still watching Julie and going back and forth between Grandma's house and our house so things are not at all normal around our house. I knew September was going to be this way so I hadn't planned a whole lot. We have been reading a lot of books about ancient Egypt. And we watched a documentary this week too. But I can't say we have really had a structured history lesson in some time. Or anykind of structured school really. We have spent a lot of time out of doors. Grandma's house is great for outside play.

Sophie had her big Craniofacial clinic visit this week as well. We saw SOO many doctors it was kinda crazy. It was good to see the Plastic Surgeon that did her lip. We saw orthodontists, speech therapists, geneticists, audiologists, neurologists and some psychologists. (Sorry... I am not spelling these right). They all loved Sophie. The Neurologists did a few test to see if she had any brain issues and was quite impressed that she could read so far above grade level. It looks like surgery isn't going to be in the works for a bit. Sophie hasn't lost any teeth on the top so the Orthodontists can't do anything until she looses those baby teeth and grows the adult ones. Orthodontics are needed before bone grafting surgery because they need to widen the upper jaw to make room for the bone. The speech therapist said there is some nasality in her speech but it is mild. I don't think surgery to correct her speech is necessary since everything will change once the Orthodontics and such are done anyway. So... it was a long drive and a long visit but Sophie did great. The doctors are all going to compare notes and send me their evaluations and recommendations for what happens next.

This week we did a little sewing project. I cut out a little Egyptian collar and Sophie sewed on some buttons to be the jewels. She decided she was done before I thought there were enough "jewels" but she was happy with what she had done. I plan to make an Egyptian wig to go along with it this coming week. I hope in the end we will end up with a whole Egyptian outfit. She will love this.

One project she has really enjoyed is the model of the Nile. We did this about 2 weeks ago. Here is our model after we flooded it the first time.

And two weeks later we have little green shoots growing all along the Nile. Sophie loves to pour the water in to flood the nile. Our Nile doesn't hold the water long. I wonder if that is because we put the fork in it to create the delta. Maybe there is a leak. But the point that the model is trying to make clear so it doesn't really matter. We also planted parsley instead of grass. We don't have a lawn that needs seeds so the big bag of grass seeds wasn't needed. We just went with a small packet of parsley seeds.

We still haven't built the pyramids yet. One of these days we will do that.

Other than these history type projects we have been reading a lot of poetry books. Sophie really loves Where the sidewalk ends. She takes this book with her everywhere. When she isn't playing her virtual pet she is reading some poetry from this book. The same poems that I loved as a kid are some of her favorites too.

We also started reading The Jungle Book aloud. Sophie is really enjoying this book. While I read she digs through her big box of plastic animals to find the ones that are in the book. We have just about all of them. A Black panther, tiger, snake, bear... we just need Mowgli. But she plays and plays while I read and I wonder if she is really listening so I quiz her when I finish a chapter or come to a stopping place and sure enough she knows exactly what is going on in the story. Amazing! She is one of those kids that needs to multitask I think. Her mind is just so busy.

My parents return from their European excursion this coming week so things are going to be a bit crazy for a few more days and then come October we should be back to normal life and schedule.

Friday, September 21, 2007

First Day of Fall

It is officially Fall! Hurray! I love the fall.

I spent the day making jam. We picked my parent's peach tree bare about a week ago and so have had a lot of peaches sitting around. We eat them for every meal and yet have hardly made a dent in them. So today I ran to the store and bought some pectin and started making jam. I have never actually done this, by myself, before. I have always had my mom there to do it with me. So I spent the morning pealing, cutting and cooking peaches. It was actually quite easy. Just time consuming and hot! But a lot less messy than I remember doing it in my Mom's kitchen with her. It certainly tasted good when I mixed some into some plain yogurt. My kids licked their little bowls clean so I guess they liked it as well. We have ever so many jars of jam now. I made two batches of Freezer Jam and two batches of cooked jam which I canned in mason jars. Even after making 4 batches of Jam today there are still so many peaches left that I know I will be doing it again in a few days. But that way I will have some and I can leave some for my parents who did do the work of watering and such. I just came along and harvested the peaches and made the jam.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sophie's new favorite game

For Sophie's birthday we got her a dog. Not a real one but a virtual one. I saw this little virtual pet at the store and thought that it was perfect for Sophie, my little animal lover. For the past few days Sophie has been taking this little dog everywhere. She loves it and is doing really well with it. She just has a hard time letting the dog sleep enough. She always wants to make the dog play or eat or explore. In fact the first night she couldn't sleep when we put her to bed because she was so worked up about her puppy. It had collapsed because it was so tired. She thought she had killed it and was in tears about it. We restarted the game the next day with a new dog and she has done great since. I actually play it sometimes after she goes to bed, to rack up points for her.

She has actually learned a lot about money from the game. You have to earn points or money to buy food, water, toys and trips to the groomers. In order to earn the points you either play games or you take the dog for a walk. There is a little pedometer inside so when you wear the little handheld part it counts your steps and you earn points according to how long you walked. So she wears the "Pod" as she calls it (to be like Dad with his ipod) all over the place. We were at the store and she was dancing around as we waited for an elevator just so she could rack up more points. We had to giggle at her because when we asked her if she needed to go to the bathroom she replied "No, I have to earn some money so I can feed my dog" . She has also learned that you have to wait to buy toys until after you have bought enough food and water to keep the dog healthy.

I am just glad that she is enjoying this gift. I found a cheep, new one on Ebay! I love Ebay!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Top 10 Tuesday - 10 reasons I appreciate my parents

For the past few weeks we, my husband, children and I, have been taking care of Grandma and Grandpa's house and responsibilities while they are on a dream vacation. During these weeks I have really come to appreciate all that my "retired" parents still do.

1. Mow the lawn - We have a gardner that comes and mows our lawn in the city. We rent the house we live in so the landlord wants to make sure it looks nice. Here at Grandma and Grandpas there is a lot more lawn and one old lawn mower. My husband is out there mowing it yet again. Twice a week in the summer is a lot! He isn't used to so much physical labor. No wonder my Dad is in such good shape.

2. Water everything - My Dad could install a sprinkler system but instead he chooses to water his lawn, garden and fruit trees with a hose and a sprinkler head. I can't seem to water the lawn enough to keep it green. He however keeps it looking good most of the time. I don't mind going out into the pasture to change the sprinklers out there. The early morning walk out there is refreshing. It is so quiet and cool. I love the way the cows look at me too as I hike out there in my pjs.

3. Laundry - My mom hangs her clothes out on the line to dry most of the year. Unless it is raining the clothes go out on the line. I have tried to keep this going while here. Usually I just use my dryer but since I am here I have been trying to do as they would do. With all the laundry we produce I am out there hanging clothes A LOT! How did my Mom do this when she had all 6 of us kids at home.

4. Party hostess - While my parents have been gone I have had 3 family birthday parties to host. These are always done at Grandma's house so why should it be any different. I got to cook almost the entire meal for 18 people, half of them being children. This is quite an undertaking. And I was TIRED after each one.

5. Baby sitter - My sister in law has enlisted the help of my Mom to watch some of her children while others have music lessons or club meetings. So on top of my 3 kids I have often had a number of extra kids here to watch and entertain. My kids all love their cousins so this isn't too hard and I am sure my Mom LOVES having her grand kids here all the time.

6. Weekly church Bulletin - This is one of my Mom jobs that she does for Church each week. I thought it would be easy. I do my wards monthly newsletter. But weekly is hard because it is weekly. Just when you get done with one you start getting information for the next. And when the information doesn't come when it needs to then you have to call people and get it. This is one unappreciated jobs in the church.

These are pale in comparison to the last.......

Let me introduce you to Julie. Julie is my sister. She has downs syndrome. She is 24 yrs old but has the mind of about a 3 or 4 year old. These last 4 all deal with her.

7. Keeping Julie Clean - Julie doesn't care if she stinks but the rest of us do. And to keep her from smelling you have to have her shower every day. She can shower by herself but if you want her to use soap then you have to go in and scrub her yourself. You also have to make sure she doesn't put the same dirty clothes on that she wore the day before.

8. Diligently watch food - Julie doesn't have that certain something that tells a person that they are full or not hungry so Julie is always looking for food. Bread has to be locked up and food in the fridge has to be watched. This isn't easy to do. Julie seems to spot the bread keys from a mile away. You can't leave them sitting anywhere or else she finds them and then gets her hands on a full loaf of bread.
So far she has gotten her hands on the keys a few times on my watch but the only food she has been able to sneak is a cup of yogurt from the fridge and a box of crackers which I found before she got to eat them. So far so good. Still have a week to go.

This is also a problem at church. The kitchen at the church always seems to have food in it, leftovers from some activity the week before. Julie doesn't stay in her class at church and will wander the halls. If I don't keep an eye on her then she makes her way to the church kitchen and feasts on a half gallon of Ice Cream (This happened the first Sunday we were here) or something else people have left.

9. Getting Julie to School - It isn't school exactly but a program for the handicapped (I don't think they like to use that term anymore but I don't know the PC term for it). Julie has be up, showered, dressed and have had breakfast before 8:00 a.m. This may not sound bad. A lot of moms have to get kids going to school earlier than this. But with Julie it is different. She will not be rushed. She works at her own pace. But so far we have only missed the bus once and that wasn't because she wasn't ready but because I wasn't watching for her bus and they left without her.

10. Back to the Future - Julie loves the Back to the Future movies. She watches them a lot! She gets all excited about anything that she reccognises from the films. We recently took her to a car show and a DeLorean was there. She knew that was the Doc and Marty car and got so excited. She also loves some Walkie talkies that Sophie got for her birthday. I guess Doc and Marty use these in the 2nd and 3rd films. She loves trains because they feature in the 3rd film (this 3rd film was also filmed right here in our home town).
These aren't my favorite films and now that I have children I appreciate them even less. There is a lot of foul language in it. Julie sometimes uses this language on me or the kids and that is not good. Mostly we just have to hear all about Doc and Marty all the time.

Julie isn't easy to take care of and for my Mom to have to do this everyday for who knows how long is amazing and overwhelming for her I am sure. I have all new appreciation for how much she has to do and the life that she leads. She never gets to truly be retired.

So Mom and Dad I am glad that you are having a great vacation and know that my small taste of your lives has been eye opening. I am glad to help and will do it again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yosemite with Cousins

We were a bit crazy to go to Yosemite today after just going to Big Trees on Friday but we just decided to go and this time we brought some cousins along with us. The cousins are also homeschooled so it was a field trip day for all of us. There were nine kids and 3 adults hiking around in Yosemite Valley today. I think the kids had a great time. They certainly were tired by the end of the afternoon.

Here are some of our photos.

Fall isn't the most spectacular time of year to go to Yosemite. The waterfalls were either just a trickle or not flowing at all. But the weather was perfect. A beautiful sunny but cool day. The place was still packed with people and bikes. I think next time we will bring out bikes along so we can see more of the valley.

Sophie had the best day. She loved Yosemite. She wanted to go back to the indian village again and explore the redwood teepees. She also really enjoyed looking at the Ansel Adams gallery. We ended up taking a few postcards, of some his photographs, home with us. When we got home Soph immediately broke out her crayons and started drawing. Here is a great one of the pictures she drew.!
I only wish she had done it on good paper rather than the scratch paper. You can see some of the printing through the picture. I guess that is a lesson to me. Use the good stuff. You never know when you are going to make a masterpiece.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Calaveras Big Trees

We decided to head out on a field trip today. We have been meaning to take the kids to Big Trees (I know a really creative name) for a long time. Having grown up in this area, I have been there many times. This is where we used to go camping and often for day hikes. But for some reason we hadn't made the drive recently to show this amazing place to the kids.

We hiked and hiked along the trails. The kids did great because there was so many things to look at. There were lots of opportunities to climb in, on, around and through the trees.

Even through I have been here so many times it is still amazing to see these huge redwoods. They aren't just tall. They are so big around too.
Many of the trees have burned out parts. The tree still is alive but sometime in their past lightning struck them and their insides were burned out. Now we get to climb into or through these burned out parts.

Below is one tree that had been trimmed long ago so that a car can drive through it. Now the trail goes through. The tree itself is still alive. There was green at the top.

Henry had a great time holding the binoculars and looking at animals. There were tons of birds and chipmunks scampering about the forest.

We had a great trip and as we drove back down the hill the kids kept saying they wanted to go there again.

Weekly report

I can't say we have had a really productive school week. We didn't do any of our Story of the World lessons or any of the other things I had planned. We have been busy going back and forth between our house and Grandma's. Also a birthday party took up some of our time.
We have had a lot of outside time however. We have been at Grandma's house again taking care of things while they are gone. The kids have had a great time picking tomatoes and other veggies from the garden. But the best was going out to Grandpa small orchard and picking peaches off the tree. We picked the tree bare and then came inside and ate freshly picked peaches. YUM!
This morning the kids had fun helping their Dad mow the lawn and then rake up the clipppings and putting them in the wheelbarrow. They loved it when the clippings were dumped into the pasture and the cows came running up to get the fresh green grass.
We have also had a lot of play time with the cousins. Sophie was even able to attend American Girls Club with her cousins. We did read the book that was to be discussed before she went, so I guess you can count that as schoolish type work. She had a great time doing the little projects there and came home full of things to share with us.

I checked out Where the Sidewalk Ends, and A light in the Attic at the library and Sophie has really loved reading through those poems. She is making up her own poetry too. We just need to write some of her short little poems down.
I am going to try to do better next week but I have a feeling things are going to be a lot like vacation again. When you aren't at your own house and following your typical schedule it is a lot more difficult to do school. Especially since Dad is here. Just having him around makes it hard to keep the kids down to a school schedule. He has taught Sophie how to play Civilization III this week. She loves starting civilizations especially playing the Egyptians.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday - September 11 - 10 pictures of Sophie

Many people think of September 11th and remember the events that happened in New York and DC. In our family we mark this date for a little different reason. 6 years ago, before I even knew what was happening in the world I was aware of the labor pains that had started that morning. When a neighbor ran over to our apartment and told us to turn on the news I was watching the clock timing contractions. My husband called work and told them he wouldn't be in that day and we spent the morning alternating between walking around the block and sitting in front of the T.V. watching the news unfold. Then about 3:00 that afternoon we finally went to the hospital and Sophie was born a few hours later.
Our shocks weren't over there. When Sophie first came out the medical student who was "catching" fainted and then the doctor took over and quickly wisked the baby away. I had no idea what was wrong for a few moments.

Here is Sophie's first picture taken a few moments after her birth. You can see the large gap in her lip. After looking at all the information I was handed about Cleft lip/pallet I thought she looked pretty good. Later the plastic surgeon told me that her cleft was about a 9 on a 1-10 scale.

Here was our little family in August 2002

This picture was taken September 11th 2002 on her 1st birthday. This was only about 2 weeks after her third and most difficult pallet surgery. She had surgery on her lip when she was 3 months old.

I just loved this picture of Sophie as she explored some rose gardens.

September 11, 2003. Sophie's 2nd birthday. She was all excited about Thomas the Tank Engine and Blues Clues.

Ian was born when Sophie was about 2 1/2. This is when he was only a few weeks old. Sophie has always loved her little brother.

Sophie has always loved to have her picture taken.

Sophie is full of energy. We have other people comment on her exuberance. She just has such a busy mind that she can't sit still for long.

Sophie has always had a love of books. When she was small she would sit for book after book after book. This is amazing since some people think she is ADHD. We know she doesn't, because she can focus when she wants to. We often found her in her bed surrounded by books or sitting in front of her bookcase with a bunch of books around her. She taught herself to read. Other than reading A LOT to her I can't claim to have taught her this skill.

Here is a picture of the three kids shortly after Henry joined the family. They loved to take turns holding baby Henry

Sophie loves animals. This is Grandma and Grandpa's cat Minton. Sophie was visiting when Minton had to go to the vet so Sophie was thrilled to go along. Sophie says she wants to be a marine specialist.

Opps... that is 11 pictures. Oh well.

I hope your September 11 is good too.