Saturday, May 28, 2011

Where did May go?

It is hard to believe that May might as well be done. Yes there are three days left but with tomorrow being Sunday and Monday a holiday that means June will be here before we can blink.  So what do we have to show for our May? I haven't been doing weekly reports regularly and I haven't been good about taking pictures so I can even look back to see what we did. I have been caught up in the day to day things and have forgotten to document our accomplishments. So let me see if I can remember back through all the fuzzy weeks that have just passed and see if I can recall any of it.

I know in History we studied and are finally finished with WWII. I can't say we have totally left it behind because I am still getting some of the WWII picture books that I placed on hold from the library. Evidently I went a little overboard on the picture books. But I hate to miss any of them. Each of them tells the story of the war from a different perspective.
Many of the books have taken longer to come in and we read them as they show up. I have 5 new one that I just picked up on Thursday. But that hasn't stopped us from moving ahead.

We read the book, Candy Bomber which of course, is about the Berlin Airlift which takes place shortly after the war. My boys sat right by my side while I read for over an hour. The book isn't really a picture book and I wasn't expecting to have them be interested enough for me to read all the text, especially in one sitting but they kept insisting on more and more. They loved all the pictures included and they remembered that we saw his picture at the Hill Airforce Museum in Utah when we were there last summer. I think they were told the story by one of the docents or perhaps my husband briefly told the story. But they remembered him which was a bit of a surprise. We also watch a few youtube videos I found on Gail Halvorson and the candy drop.
Along with the airlift we talked about Communism again (We briefly talked about it when we read the Anastasia book which covered the Russian Revolution) and how Germany was divided and why.  My kids pay more attention to things than I think because they remembered the piece of the Berlin Wall that we saw at the Ronald Reagen Presidential Library last summer. We had a number of great vacations/field trips last year, I guess.

We also briefly read and talked about Israel and how new a country it is.  For some reason I never knew, until recently, that Israel was formed because of or shortly after WWII. I guess I never put two and two together but it wasn't until I read some Chaim Potok books that I understood when and why Israel was created and why it is so hated in the Middle East. So I introduced the topic to my kids so they will have a clearer picture of history than I ever did.

I didn't know exactly what I really wanted to cover after this so I have been getting a lot of the President biographies by Mike Venezia and reading through them. My kids love these because of the cartoons but as I read them in the order they served as president they are filling in a lot of the history of the time period.  I guess we will see where they take us.

So that is History for all of us. Now for the less fun stuff.
Math - Always a chore to be done. Sophie and Ian gladly get out the notebooks each day. They just know they have to do their Math assignment but Henry does everything he can to avoid it. It takes hours of me reminding him to sit down on some days before it is finally completed. One day I told him he couldn't have lunch until his Math was done and he didn't have lunch until 2:30 that afternoon because he just refused to do the work, even with me sitting there offering to do the problems with him.
Sophie is finishing Math Mammoth Multiplication 2 after finishing Fractions 1. I think she is going to be ready for Singapore 5 soon.
Ian has just started the Multiplication 1 from Math Mammoth and is hoping to do the fractions one when he is finished. We will see since fractions were just barely introduced in his Singapore 2B book. Henry has finished Math Mammoth Addition 1 and is ever so slowly making his way through the Subtraction 1. I may have to find a different approach to math for Henry in the future. He just fights me now.

Writing with Ease is going well with Ian and Sophie. It has introduced a number of good books to the kids and they quickly feel like they need to read the rest of the book after having just a short passage to read in the assignment. Sophie has read the Nurse Mathilda and 5 Children and It recently because they were books she hadn't heard of yet seemed interesting.  Ian revisited The Trumpet and the Swan because he was determined to figure out what the female swan is called since his writing assignment only mentioned the cob.
Henry finished his Explode the Code 2 1/2 book this past week and I didn't have the next one so he has gotten a pass on writing the last few days. But I am going to try him on Beyond the Code as well as the next Explode the Code workbook. Beyond seems to be more about reading comprehension so we will see how that works. 

Memorization is going well. We review the things we have already put to memory and add new things all the time. The Living Christ is getting a little rusty in places but I am happy to say it is mostly still there. Psalms 100 and 23 are well ingrained now. Even Henry can recite 23 will little help. We also have all 13 articles of faith. Well.... Sophie does. Ian is still working on #13 and Henry recites them as long as I sing the Scripture Scout songs for them with him. If that is what it takes than that is what we will do. Those songs are so good for remembering the articles of faith.

We are starting to recite and draw a picture for one of the Gospel Standards from this poster each day. They love the picture drawing and have them posted on the wall. We then go through the ones we already have done to get to the next one.

Or memorization isn't just scripture and gospel related topics. We have a few poems going as well. Henry has memorized the A. A. Milne poem Now I am Six. He isn't six yet but he is so cute reciting it! He will be very ready to recite it for everyone once he does finally hit six.
Ian has the Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol down well enough to recite. He actually performed it in front of our co-op group. This is a huge leap from the little boy who hid under the piano during his first sharing at co-op. I ended up having to talk about the item he brought because he was too shy. But he stood up there and recited. I was very proud of him.

Sophie loves Lewis Carrol so has several of his poems in her head. And she has discovered that Cristina Rosseti has written a number of poems that she also likes. She is usually the coach with the others on their poems. So all of them are in her head as well as a number of others.

One thing I have introduced recently is Music time. Each of the kids is required (I don't really like that word) to spend 15 min on music each day. None of my children have formal music lessons (To be honest they are super expensive and we just don't have the budget for them) but we have a number of beginning piano books and recorder books for the kids to play/practice and I know enough to get them through the basics.  Sophie usually takes her time on the recorder and is getting much better. Ian and Henry both head to the piano for their time. Each really wants to play the Harry Potter, Indiana Jones or Star Wars music that I got them. Henry is really good at Hedgewig's theme. Ian is working at Indiana Jones mainly. Each is working through the Teaching little fingers book as well. But the thrill isn't there with those songs!

We dabble in a lot of other things as well. I just can't recall everything. We read a lot, my kids draw a lot and we work a lot. There is also a whole lot of play, mostly legos, going on. We make it to the park a few times a week and ride bikes and climb trees and look at flowers as often as we can. I really should spend a little time on Science but somehow that just doesn't happen. Perhaps this summer when we have finally finished our Modern History we will do some science.  My kids don't seem to miss it. They get science in by reading a lot of books. The non fiction section of the library is well visited and checked out.  Sophie told me the other day that she thinks she has already read all the books in the young children's non fiction section of the library. I told her that there is a whole lot more in the older kid's section. (Our library has the non fiction children's section divided into elementary and junior high) She gave me a grin and her eyes got big with excitement. I guess that is what it is all about. She is excited about learning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reading books with Molly

 My boys take care of their little sister. I often find Ian sitting on the couch reading a book to Molly. Of course reading a book to Molly often only consists of pointing to thing in the pictures and saying or signing their name. Sometimes the actual story gets read but often it is just more of a game of I spy. One book in particular has been Molly's favorite. It is called Too Many Pumpkins. We have checked it out for years as a fall book but since Henry has been getting Halloween books everytime he goes to the library this one tends to come home with us quite often. I think he just knows Molly likes it so he gets it over and over again.
 Mostly Molly loves to look for the cat on every page. Sometimes it is hard to find because it way in the background or sometimes it is only partly showing but Molly knows where it is on every page.
 I have tried to read the words to her and she just quickly turns to pages looking for the cat so she can point it out.
 I am just glad that the boys take the time to read/point to pictures with her.
 Today Henry decided he wanted to read aloud to me the book Go Dog Go. It is an easy enough book for him to read fairly quickly but Molly climbed up to sit next to him and listened to every word.
 Perhaps she doesn't get as many of these simple books read to her. I read aloud all the time but usually they are either chapter books or books for the older kids. So I am glad she gets some of these more basic books and I am so grateful for boys that are able to read now and that are willing to read to her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

WWII Movies

There must be at least a thousand and one World War II movies out there. We even own a few, but I am have having a hard time showing them to my kids. They are either too violent (I love Band of Brothers but it is way more graphic than my boys are ready for) or also contain other things that I really don't want my boys exposed to yet. Operation Petticoat, Kelly's Heros and Father Goose come to mind. I am not even tempted to show South Pacific. Maybe I am getting a bit more selective, because these are films I watched as a kid. We even own a few of them on DVD. I  just don't find them particularly praiseworthy now.  And I guess I would rather my kids use their time doing something else.

They do get to watch movies once in awhile so I try to introduce only the good ones. So far I have shown them Tora Tora Tora and The Longest Day.  I was surprised that they got so involved in The Longest Day. Henry was a little skeptical about it being in Black and White and there was a point in the film when Ian asked "When is the longest day ever going to get started". I guess he wanted to see the action and less of the waiting around and talking about the invasion. When it was over Henry said "I totally forgot that it wasn't in color" and "lets watch this one again tomorrow". I actually plan to show The Great Escape  next. I know my boys will love the digging of the tunnel and the motorcycle chase. 

We have talked about The Sound of Music and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and how they fit into the war. We have watched these two films many times so they know them well. Those aren't directly about the war but the war does play a part in the story.

Am I missing any great WWII films that would be appropriate for boys under the age of 8 to watch? Sophie watches these films with us but doesn't get quite as involved in them and sort of comes and goes while doing different things. But my boys get very excited when the action gets going. I can tell they really like the fighting and the guns and explosives. Boys just love these types of things.

We are pretty much finished with WWII and really should be moving ahead in our History. I think we have covered just about everything without going too far into the details of what went on in concentration camps or what Japan was like after the atomic bombs. Those things are for us to cover in one of the next times this time period comes around in our History rotations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Redwall and Dragons

Redwall  by Brian Jacques is the latest book my kids have embraced. They beg me to let them listen to it each afternoon. And it goes into the car whenever we go out and comes back in the house just in case there is time to put it on again. It is 9 CD's long so it is taking quite some time to get through.

The story is very Midieval British and the actors who read the parts have pretty thick accents which adds to to the fun. Mathias the mouse has become a favorite around these parts. I have a feeling some of the rest of the series will be coming home with us next time we head over to the library.

I picked Redwall just last week at the library. I almost always bring home an audio book or two. We always have to have some book going in the car. My kids prefer it to music and since today was rainy they opted for a audio book while playing with legos. We are now on the 7th of nine disks. I guess they decided this one sounded more interesting than Harriet the Spy which is the other audio book I brought home.

I picked up the first book in the How to train your Dragon Series two weeks ago. I often have to pick out books for the kids. They tend to pick out the same books they have already read or stick with the authors they already know. I am the one that is always looking at lists and reading blogs that give good recommendations of books so I make sure we come home with some new ones all the time. I knew the kids loved the movie so I thought they should read the book. I usually try to have them read the books first before watching the movie but I honestly didn't know these were books and was just told the movie was good by a friend. Maybe they didn't know it was a book first either. But my kids loved the book and then the next week they quickly went and looked for the other books in the series. They now have books 1-5 at home and they are reading them.  Sophie reads through them rather quickly. Ian finds them easier than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (which is the other book he is trying really hard to read for himself). Henry just loves to look at all the illustrations and read the captions or chapter headings. I haven't actually read through any of them but my kids seem to really be enjoying them. I am just thrilled they are reading something.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cooking What?

Molly is almost 2 years old. She doesn't have a whole lot of words. This isn't anything new in this house. Sophie was the only one of my children to really be an early talker. By the time Sophie was the age Molly is now she was speaking in full sentences. I remember we were going to go on an airplane trip a month or so before she turned two and we had to coach her to say she was "not quite two" because she was such a good talker we didn't want her to suddenly make it difficult to claim her as a lap child.

Ian was what some would call delayed, he did not talk until he was well into his 3rd year. But he communicated by miming or acting out what he wanted. When he did start talking, it was full sentences. I honestly don't remember much about Henry's early talking. I don't know if that is just because he was the third child or if he was just so ordinary in his progression or maybe I was just so tired it was all a blur. I think he talked about balls a lot at first.  But I have never been one to worry about my kids and their communication abilities.

Molly is not an exception. Even without words she certainly gets her point across. And she has taken to signing very easily. I only have to show her a sign once and she adds it to her repertoire. And she thinks she is so funny when she combines them and we all giggle. After learning the sign for cook and later diaper on one day she combined them and signed "cook diapers". Everyone laughed, so of course she did it again and again. Now she signs it all the time and then giggles herself and thinks she is so funny. My kids have taken to calling a stinky diaper a "cooked diaper" and are always asking her if she is cooking diapers. The joke now is getting a little old and we aren't laughing as much so I hope it will fade.

Since we have been signing so much with Molly, I decided to add it back into our usual school day. We have a great library that has just about all the seasons and episodes of Signing Time. We have watched just about all the first season and are now working through season two.  My kids love them still and Molly is fascinated. She hasn't ever been one to watch anything on t.v. But she loves Signing time. I even checked out the Baby Signing Time videos but the older kids didn't like them as much and many of the signs are the same ones taught in the regular videos so we haven't tried any more of the ones for babies. Molly loves them in either case. I think it is a fun way to learn a new language. Our signing vocabulary is certainly growing!

The pictures in this post were taken about two weeks ago when it was hot. I think it was about 85 - 90 degrees that day. Today we are having rain and have broken out our jackets and long pants again.
I don't mind the return to cooler temperatures. I am not ready for the hot hot hot of Summer. I love Spring!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Timeline is Out of Control

I can't believe it has been almost 4 years already. When Sophie started "1st grade" and we started the Story of the World history curriculum I decided to put up a time. I placed 4 long strings down one of the walls of our hallway.  One string for each of the four time periods: ancient, middle ages, early Modern and then Modern times. I printed out a few pictures of scripture stories to place in their spot on the time line to get us started but I figured we would fill it in as we went.

It is hard to tell from this picture but there are actually 4 different strings with pictures and such scattered along them. Over the years we have added our composers, artists, scientists and mathematicians onto the wall so we could place them in their time period.  I also printed out the pictures from Hannah's Homeschool helps (Yahoo group) that correspond with the Story of the world chapters. This was helpful because sometime Story of the World would jump around a little and I could put things in their right places.

Things really got crazy when we used the time line figures that came with our Time Travelers curriculm. They included a whole lot of little figures for the short amount of years covered so this part of our time line has really exploded.
I guess I could have left some of them off but it was fun to place them and for me to really see how they all fit together.

We haven't quite finished our history for Modern times. We are now in the middle of WWII. We still have another week or two  before we move on. I don't know exactly what I want to cover yet for the post WWII years. I think I am going to stick to covering important people from the time period and see how that goes but usually by this time of the "school year" we are finished and ready to do something entirely different. We aren't even really close to that yet... at least with history.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two reasons to celebrate.

 Mother's Day weekend is always a big deal in my home town. They hold a big parade and rodeo. I guess that tells you a little of what kind of place it was in which I grew up. Where we live now there are parades but they turn into political advertisements and not much else. But when we leave the city and head up into the foothills we get to participate in a real community activity.

Sure the people are sitting around drinking and smoking and since it is May, many are dressed in such a way that the people of Walmart site (I don't recommend this site, it is depressing so I won't link to it but if you know what I am talking about you understand.) would have lots of new subjects.
 The kids had fun with their cousins as they watched the parade travel past them. That is always a bonus.

We actually didn't stay for the full two hours or more of the festivities. My kids got a little bored after awhile. I guess there are only so many horses, rodeo queens,  old cars and bands you can watch.  My mom and I were dissapointed that the bagpipers didn't make an appearance this year. They are always one of the bands we look forward to.
 We did see some old WWII and Korean War Jeeps. My kids thought that was interesting.
 Mark Twain also made an appearance. I guess he is putting on a show at one of the community theaters. Mark Twain is always big around these parts. He lived in this area of CA and wrote a number of short stories about this part of Gold country. There are even towns named after him up here so you often see Samuel Clemens show up to events.
 Every elementary school in the county sends their band to march in this parade. My kids got all excited when my elementary school band marched by first.  I honestly didn't really care. But when the high school band marched by I couldn't help but get that little feeling of excitement and got a little teary. Does this make me a band nerd? I did play and march in the parade for four years. They don't wear the same uniforms I did when I was there. The band teacher isn't the same anymore but I guess there is just something about having belonged to the Golden Regiment that makes you always feel nostalgic.

 I wasn't just for Mother's Day that we headed out of town. My husband also got to celebrate his birthday with the family. He had requested chocolate cake but since we had already had some Chocolate Cake when we had a small party with his parents earlier in the week and also another cake was shared by his co-workers. He was happy with the strawberry shortcake dessert. He certainly hams it up since there isn't even a candle to blow out.
 It was a fun weekend for all. The boys found new places to sword fight. We all got to relax, take walks, read books and watch movies and hang out with family.
 Sophie had fun setting up a little carnival of games for us all to try out. 

We always hate to head back to the city after such a great weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Over 6 Months to Respond

Last October Sophie did a report/lapbook on the Presidents of the United States. As part of the project she wrote a letter to President Obama in hopes of getting a response. Today Sophie received a big envelope with The White House listed as the return address. It took his staff 6 months to answer our letter. That isn't too bad. 

She was very excited to receive this little packet. We had almost completely forgot about this expected letter.

Along with a letter from the president there was a signed picture of President Obama. There was also another picture of the first dog with bit of information about Bo the Portugese Water dog. The sheet about the white house itself was interesting and had cut away pictures  of some of the different rooms inside. On the flip side of this sheet there is some questions and answers by President Obama. He pretty much encourages her  to dream big and work hard (especially in Math and Science even through his favorite subject in school was History). Then he tells her that she is the future of America.

It is a nice little letter and one that Sophie will be keeping even if we didn't vote him!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter Pictures

I have finally resolved my technical difficulties and can upload pictures again. The card reader I bought does actually work with our operating system after all. And my husband finally saved and removed all the movies we have taken of the kids over the past 5 years. Wow did that free up a lot of space on the machine. I can now continue to take pictures and upload them as a please for a time. A new computer is put off for another little while. There just isn't the funds right now to spend money on a new computer since my husband surprised me with a new toy.

He claims it is an early Mother's Day gift but I know it is just as much his new toy as mine. But if we need to use Mother's day and a good excuse then I will let him. We have been wanting a Blendtec Blender for years and have been making green smoothies in my regular blender dreaming of one day having one of these super blenders to make soups, ice creams and very smooth smoothies rather than the "chunkies" that we have been drinking.

I think we find an excuse to use it just about everyday. The kids think it is so fun to watch the stuff get ground up. They weren't that excited when it was a regular blender so I am sure the novelty will wear off.  My husband especially likes that fact that he can now make his almond milk rather than buy it.  We choose Blendtec rather than a Vitamix simply because we already own the Kitchen Mill grinder from this company and know they make a quality product. We have friends with Vitamix and they love them as well but we decided to support Blendtec with this purchase.

Now for some Easter pictures.

I can't say we did a whole lot besides read a few books and dye a few eggs for Easter this year.  I do feel a little guilty because we make such a big deal about Christmas but take things very simple for Easter.  I just wasn't up for big fancy plans.

We did color some eggs.
Molly didn't quite get the idea of coloring them so instead she just decided to dig in.

On Saturday we got together with a bunch of other families and have an egg hunt. This worked out really well. We have done an Easter egg hunt at the community center before and the kids would only get one or two eggs because there were so many kids.
This time each parent just brought some eggs for and there was plenty to go around.
There was a little patch of grass for the babies to find eggs in and then a large patch for the older kids to run around in. It worked out great and the kids had a great time.
One of the families threw out some "Super eggs" which contained money. Sophie found two of these eggs and ended up with $6.00 in egg money. After the egg hunt we went to Costco for our usual Saturday shopping and she saw a package with 3 Webkinz for only $5.00. She used her egg money to buy herself a new Webkinz cat and gave the boys each a new animal as well. Henry got a rooster and Ian got a new dog.
So Sophie got her dreamed for Webkinz. And the fact that it is the "bigkinz" her her "littlekinz" cat was thrilling. A new Webkinz is what she had said she wanted for Easter but I had already told her I wouldn't buy another one.

Easter morning went a little differently. We didn't do an egg hunt in the traditional sense we did a scavenger hunt. The kids round one egg on the table and then each egg had clue inside to find the next egg.  Finally they found the basket which was filled with such things as new swim googles and pencils.
There was a few Cadbury eggs inside as well. But that was it for candy.
They all loved the Cadbury eggs.
I didn't take any pictures of everyone dressed up for church on Easter. We didn't do new dresses. The kids closets are already too full. They didn't need anything new. And Sophie has been singing with the choir and left for rehearsal early. I also had to do sharing time for Primary and was sort of scrambling to gather the things I needed for that as well as prepare what I could for Easter dinner before leaving for church so there isn't any traditional Easter Sunday dress picture of the kids.

I can't believe that was only a week ago. It seems long past. I haven't taken any pictures this week so am now caught up in that at least.

Have a great Sabbath!