Thursday, May 27, 2010

California Here We Come

We school year round but need a break from the usual during the Summer. This year I decided we would learn all about our State. Which mean we get to do all things California. History, Geography, Science, and Literature all related to California.

We started off by listening to the book Island of the Blue Dolphin. I was surprised that the boys liked this one so much. They all just kept asking for more. They really wanted to know what was going to happen next and if she would ever get off the island.  The kids were all surprised when I showed them on a map the location of the Island just off the coast of California. They especially got excited when I told them we would be right in that area in a few weeks when we go on our cruise.

From here we are going to go over some of the geography of the state and look at books and information on the National and State parks. We will try to visit some eventually.  I want to read a few of the California Indian legends that I found at the library.

My kids have already started listening to the CD I found at the library called Californian Songs. I hope they have volume two as well. I have really enjoyed the commentary that goes along with the songs.  They cover the history of California from the missions through the gold miners in this first set. We actually have two mission right nearby so I will try to take a little field trip and visit one of them after we study about them a little.

Today the kids colored pictures of the State Flag, flower, butterfly and bird as well as the state seal. 

It should be a fun unit study. I will fill in more as we go along. I haven't planned it out completely yet.

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Father and Son

My boys went camping on Friday and left the girls at home. Sophie was distraught thinking she was going to miss out on all the fun. In the past, I think we have gone camping only twice so this was exciting for the boys.

They got up to the campsite after dark because they had to wait for Dad to come home from work. But they still had time to set up camp and roast a few marshmallows before going to sleep.
They took Grandpa along too. 

Back at home Sophie and Molly and I were enjoying our quiet house. We decided 3/4 of the noise went out the door with the boys. I asked Sophie if she would like to get Ice Cream or something. She took me up on that and we gave a few of Baskin Robin's 31 flavors a try. We then came home had a quiet evening and then went to sleep in our nice warm beds.

In the middle of the night, after responding to Molly's cries I climbed back into bed and thought about how cold I felt and that the boys up in the hills must be freezing.

Evidently they were warm enough. I guess I sent up enough warm clothes for them so they were alright. But it was still not a restful sleep. Evidently Grandpa snores really loud and kept having to get up for this and that.

Do these boys look like they slept enough? 

They spent the morning doing a service project. They needed to prepare the campgrounds for the girls that would be coming in a few weeks for their week of girls camp. 

Sophie and I spent our Saturday morning making lemonade. That morning when I asked her what she would like to do or where she would like to go she just said she wanted to make something. When I asked her what she had in mind she just said "lets juice all those lemons." We had two big bags full of lemons that a friend had given us off of their lemon tree. Sophie had the best time washing, cutting and juicing those lemons. We did make some lemon pound cake from a recipe I had never used but had printed out. Our fridge is now stocked with lots of lemon juice waiting to be made into lemonade. 

After the campout and service project the boys came home. They were dirty and most likely covered in poison oak so they all had a bath and their clothes went right into the laundry. My husband crashed on the bed and took a good hour and some long nap. I really wish the boys would have. My goodness they were cranky!

But it was a fun weekend for all... sort of.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Teaching Themselves How to Draw

My kids always prefer to do things on their own. They really don't like me to give them lessons on to do things. I have to do things in a little more round about way. I tried Drawing with Children last year and got through a few lessons but Sophie just fell apart each time because she didn't think she was doing it well enough. If I ever made any suggestions she would flip out and the lesson would quickly be over. I have more or less left her on her own for the last few months. We do have a few How to draw animals type books and she has been looking at those but I really thought she needed something that would help her learn to draw.

I recently got a copy of Mark Kistler's Draw Squad. It was recommended from a few different sources. And I thought we would give it a try. It is a more self directed drawing course. Sophie can go through the lessons herself without me doing anything except nodding and telling her she is making progress. I try really hard to not tell her it looks great unless it truly does. I usually try to tell her she is getting much better at something or that I can see she is moving in the right direction. I am trying to focus on drawing well as a process and not an event. It is something she will have to work at. After one lesson she isn't a master but she is practicing the technique.

I really am impressed with how much just a few hours with this book has improved her drawing. She is giving things depth and shading. I can tell she is reading the text that goes along with the lessons because she uses the drawing terminology when she comes and shows me her drawings in her sketchbook.

Ian decided that he too needs to learn to draw so he is having Sophie teach him as he goes through the first few lessons.  

They spent a good two hours just drawing in their books today. Ian has started taking his sketchbook with him everywhere. I just recently had to get him a new one. He finally filled up the old one I had given him.

The sketchbooks are working really well still. I don't have loose papers everywhere and my kids are learning to use all the blank spaces in their books. They love looking through all their old drawings to see their progress too. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I hate being the center of Attention

I have to speak in church on Sunday. You would think after all the years I have been giving talks, teaching lessons, and even being a missionary and talking to random people on the street about Heavenly Father and Jesus that I would be good at it or at least not be scared each time I have to stand in front of people. In fact I would rather go out "fearlessing", as it was called in my mission, than have to speak in church. Maybe it is just easier for me talk to people I will most likely never seen again than to have to speak to people I do know and will see again and that I know could do such a better job.

 I admit when it is my turn to give Sharing Time in Primary I know, no matter how much I prepare, I still get all flustered  and it never goes as smoothly as I wish it would. I often go home and cringe at how stupid I felt and how badly it went over. Especially in Junior Primary. My goodness they are hard to teach some weeks!

So we were asked to speak almost 3 weeks ago. That is a long time to have this talk hanging over my head. A long time to think about the topic. That has actually been really nice. I have been able to focus my study on that subject and I feel like I have really learned something. But now the hard part comes. I actually have to organize my thoughts and then deliver them in front of a bunch of people.

I am just not a public speaker. I don't like having all eyes on me and in my head I can hear the criticism and laughter at my foibles.  I would much rather do my part in the church in the shadows or background.   I just really don't like being the center of attention.

So if you happen to be in our ward on Sunday feel free to tune me out. And then forget you ever heard me speak.  My husband's talk is sure to be way better than mine! And I know the choir is singing, so just listen to them and forget all about me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Music to My Ears.

I love hearing "I will" or "alright" from my kids when I give them an assignment. I hasn't always been this way and still doesn't happen every time when I ask them to do anything. But I really feel like there has been a lot of progress in the past week or so of diligent work. I am trying really hard to be patient as I teach each of the kids how to do each job. They don't do it exactly like I do or as well but they are still doing it and will get better with time and a little more direction.

Tonight when the boys were putting their dirty clothes in the laundry room, Ian made the observation (talking to Henry) "Gee, the laundry pile is really big. It looks like we will be doing wash tomorrow". I smiled when hearing him say that. I love that realized that there was work that needed to be done and that he will be involved in the doing of it.

Work isn't the only thing we have been up to this past week. It was a major focus but we did do a few other things. We did learn about Africa and the end of the Slave Trade with two chapters of our Story of the World book. We are listening to a new Audio book in the car called The White Giraffe. It takes place in South Africa and it is fun to hear the narrator do the voices and accents of the natives, bushmen, and british people.

Without me prompting her (since my focus was on life skills this week and not academics) Sophie did her language arts lessons, which revolved around the book Mrs. Katz and Tush, as well as two exercises of Singapore Math. I told her she didn't have to do them and explained that we were, sort of, taking a little break from them. She told me she wanted to. Either she was bored with playing on her free time or somehow still felt like I wanted her to do them.  She has also been reading and reading this week. She loves to revisit books she/we have already read. At the moment it is the Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.

Ian and Henry did a lot of playing. I have slowly been removing toys from their room but they don't seem to mind too much. They seem to find something to play with even if it is just a block that Henry says is his light sabor. Ian has been reading more books on his own too. He isn't just looking at the pictures anymore either. He reads the words. I can tell he feels really good about his new reading skills.

I do plan to finish Story of the World by the end of May so we should read/listen to another two chapters next week.  We also should finish our audio book and the next "Laura and Mary" (Little House) book by the end of the week too. Other than that I think we will stick with our focus on life skills. It feels good to teach them how to do work. One day I hope to earn my promotion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Working Hard and Playing Outdoors

I haven't had much to talk about recently. I don't know if I am just in a writing rut or just too busy living life to write.  I just haven't had anything I felt compelled to share with everyone. Our life just seems to be boring, ordinary, and more of the same. We plod along and time seems to pass so quickly. I looked at my kids tonight and was amazed at how tall they have gotten. I do have some really great children.

I am really working on teaching my kids to work. We have been spending our mornings working. I don't work unless I have my kids along side me working.  This is a change. I used to just do most of the usual clean up myself because I knew I could do it faster and get it done then we could get to our school work or whatever. I have decided not to do that anymore. I want my kids to take over these everyday chores  so I figured I better start teaching them to do more than just take their bowl to the sink and then get dressed and make their beds each morning.

Today we folded laundry, picked up toys and books, swept the floor, did dishes, made granola bars and then had to do dishes again. We cleaned rooms, made beds, swept bedrooms. All this before lunch time.  I can't say our house is spotless but it is cleaner and my kids have been busy busy doing chores.
Sophie and Henry really like to do dishes. I hope they never loose that.
Whenever I hear someone say anything about being bored I tell them to load the dishwasher, or unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor or some other job that I see needs doing. My kids have been happily working and there isn't complaining any more when I ask them to do things.

We haven't done much formal schooling and I am alright with that. Right now we are focusing on life skills and work. So far it is going well.

After a morning of work we do read a few good books (I think I have read through Winnie the Pooh and started the next Little house book as well as a bunch of picture books) and then head outside to play. We have been to the park twice already this week and we are going to go on a hike tomorrow. It seems like the perfect way to spend these lovely spring days.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A few new Molly pictures

Since I know Grandma loves to steal pictures from my blog. I thought I would give you a few new ones of Molly.

When the other kids go outside this is what Molly does until I finally pick her up and take her out to play too. She just can't stand to hear of anyone having fun without her.

Molly is starting to insist on feeding herself. I used to be able to keep her more or less clean when feeding her. Now it is a huge mess to clean up each time.
"Opps... got a little on me. "

Pulling books off the shelf is her new favorite past time. How can she resist. It is so colorful and there is a little ledge just the right height to hold onto while yanking book after book and tossing them on the floor.

Yes! This is what cute looks like.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Taking the Day off

We decided to get out today rather than do the usual school work. 

The weather was lovely. The sun was shinning but the path was shady.

There were lots of opportunities to climb on rocks and poke around in the water.

The reservoir was the perfect place for a little picnic lunch.

Henry found a banana slug and just had to pick it up.
Yes that is his peanut butter sandwich in his other hand.

We really should take days off like this more often.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


This little guy has personality. He always has!

The last few weeks he has been thanking Heavenly Father for volcanos and tornados in his prayers. He lumps them in there right after "family, toys and books". I don't know if the people who experience these things are grateful for them and what they do but he is thankful for them. He loves reading books about volcanos and other natural disasters. And he is always asking me to make a volcano. He loves it when we add baking soda to vinegar and watch the fizz.

When you ask him what he wants to do when he grows up he explains that he wants to be a doctor because he likes Seymores. Seymore is the name he has given to every skeleton. He loves learning about the human body. Every once in awhile he throws in that he also wants to be a pilot. So he combines his two desires and says he wants to be a doctor that flies around and rescues people.

Everyday he asks me "How many more days are there until Saturday?". He is fixated on that day. He looks forward to his one hour of computer game playing that he gets only on Saturdays. I found some magnets with the days of the week on them. I put them on the fridge and now I just tell him which day it it is and he can count the number of days until the coveted day. I really wish he wasn't so attached to his game playing. I hope he one day gets bored playing Lego Indiana Jones and no longer asks to play it. That isn't today. He has even told me that he doesn't like Sunday because it is so far away from Saturday.

Speaking of Sunday... he spends the entire hour of church asking for papa to scratch his back or trace his  face with his finger. We started the tracing thing when he was a baby and he has loved it ever since. Why he likes to have someone run their fingers all over his face, I do not know. He just likes the attention I guess.

He also asks to watch The 10 Commandments each Sunday afternoon. He only likes watching the part about the plagues and when the Israelites leave Egypt and they go through the Red Sea. We watch it almost every Sunday. So much for those Illustrated Scripture story movies we have sitting around. Charlton Heston is the only one he wants to see.

He thinks he is a Superhero.

What a cutie!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekly Reports

I haven't been posting Weekly reports in awhile. I guess I feel like we aren't accomplishing a whole lot academically or at least it is hard to quantify it. We are always learning things and my kids are reading and playing and I guess that is all the really matters.

I just thought it would be good to go through each subject and see where we stand and what we have recently been doing just so I have a record of it.

As we always seem to do at this time of year, we are speeding through the last chapters of Story of the World. We are listening to the CD's and reading a lot of other books that go along with the topics. We have read about Napoleon and the Louisiana purchase. They really liked reading the books we found about Lewis and Clark's expedition. I can't say we have actively done more than read and talk about history. We look at maps often but I haven't made copies from the activity book in a long time. They don't seem to mind that there is isn't any coloring pages or anything, so I won't worry about it.

I can tell even Henry is learning a lot as we make our way through History. We were reading Madeline and the Bad Hat the other day and Henry loved the part when Pepito makes a Guillotine. It was as if he hadn't ever noticed that part of the story before but since we have studied the French Revolution a few weeks ago he suddenly knows what a Guillotine is and how it was used.

Sophie and Ian are plugging away at their Singapore Math books. I haven't done enough fun math with them and Sophie threw a fit when I suggested we read about another mathematician in the Mathematicians Are People Too book so mostly math has been drudgery and something to get through rather than fun. I need to do better!

Nothing too formal in science either. We have finished the Chemistry program we started and have just been playing around since. We have read a number of books about rocks and minerals, plastics, and a few others about oil, coal and gasoline. These were supposed to go along with our history lessons when we studied about factories and inventions but they certainly fit with science. Also every night the kids read The New How things Work  book with their Dad. He loves reading it and they always surprise me by explaining about some new things they learned. Yesterday the boys were excited to tell me how a gun works. They new how the spark hits the gunpowder which then explodes and pushed the bullet which rotates in the barrel and..... anyway. I think I need to read the book too. I guess it is a jump start on a more formal study of Physics next year.

Nature Study
We haven't done any outdoor hour challenges. We do play outside a lot and do look at the flowers and plants as we go around the block. It is a good review of the trees, plants and flowers we studied more formally a year or so ago.

Sophie has been reading American girl books and  the Animal Ark series books lately. Not really challenging reading but she is reading and loves telling me about what is going on in them.
Ian stills prefers me to do the reading. So he and Henry pick lots of different books for me to read.
We started the audio book of The Secret Garden this week. I don't know how much the kids are enjoying it. We may have to try it again another time and go back to Laura and Mary. We recently finished On the banks of Plum Creak and need to go on to The Shores of Silver Lake but the library dosen't have it on audio so I will have to read it aloud.

Ian is working through the Explode the Code 3 book. He is reading pretty well and his spelling is better than Sophie's. I guess it pays to go through a phonics program. Sophie self taught herself to read but now has trouble spelling. She doesn't know the rules. Ian does great but doesn't like to read on his own yet. He will read to me when I ask him to but he isn't picking up books and reading them to himself. He still just looks at the pictures like he always has done.

Sophie is still working through the Literature based LA program. She seems to enjoy it or at least doesn't fight it. And even chooses to do it rather than math on most days.  I know I am going to have to come up with something different for her. But I am still trying to figure out how to encourage her to write. I did pick up Peggy Kaye's book Games for Writing and we have tried a few "games" out of it. So far the kids  have enjoyed them. I just need to plan ahead more.  I think that is the story of my life. I need to plan more! When do I have time to plan and read all the things I need to read and blog and cook and clean and .... well you get the picture. I am still trying to find balance!

Nothing formal but we do listen to the Classical Kids productions a lot and I have been playing a lot of Bach and Chopin while we fold clothes, do other chores or eat lunch.  We did specifically listen to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture since it went with the History lesson about Napoleon going into Russia. And we listened to Beethoven's Eroica Symphony which was also written about Napoleon originally.

Craft projects are always done at the YMCA while I go and exercise. I am so grateful they let Sophie do her cutting/ pasting and such there. I don't have the mess to clean up and she gets to play around with crafts.

We finished the Book of Mormon on Friday. And we have been singing the Books of the Book of Mormon song the last few days so the kids know the names of the books and the order they come.
My kids are requesting we read the Old Testament next. I guess that is a good choice since Sophie has been studying it in her Sunday School Class and it is what Sunday School is studying. I work in Primary so don't make it to Sunday School each week. Maybe I should get my hands on the primary manuel and follow that to help us as we go along.

Most of our learning is done through reading and discussing and most of it is rather informal.  I really need to plan ahead more to make a few subjects a little more fun. I just never seem to find the time or the energy.

My goal for the month of May is to finish off our History book. We have about 9 chapters left so we will be doing a few a week.  The other subjects don't really have a stopping place. When we finish we just move on. But I am planning to spend the Summer doing a study of our State. California History, Geography, and such. We have a number of things we can cover with that unit. It is still in the planning stages and, knowing me, it will evolve as I see what my kids get interested in.

So even if I lack weekly reports. We are doing something each day that can be counted as academic.