Friday, February 28, 2014

Just another Morning

I don't know why it is so hard for me to blog anymore. I guess my life just seems so routine and boring. Nothing exciting to share with the world. We just plug away at our usual school routines and somehow the days fly by.

Sophie has been doing great this year with her online school. Williamsburg Intermediate has been a great fit for her. The Fall semester didn't go too well because she got very behind on assignments because of our move. I was also rather distracted and wasn't able to prod her along.
 This Winter term is going so much better. She is taking all three of the classes and gets all her assignments in on time and even completes the extra credit assignments each month. It was a goal she set for herself since starting in the fall, because she will 13, those assignments won't be extra credit but will be part of the usual line up required projects. She has done some great things the last few months. Perhaps I will devote a whole post to that some other time.

 Ian has discovered the joys of Scratch. He is either building Mindstorms robots or creating games on Scratch. This boy loves writing programs and seeing what happens when he changes a few varriables.  He has also been putting away a lot of groceries and loosing a lot of teeth. He lost three in one week. All canines. I have a feeling he is going to start shooting up and growing even more into a handsome young man and less of a little boy.

This boy is a hard worker. Henry doesn't love paper and pencil class work but he loves yard work. He gets out in the backyard and digs holes for new fruit trees, pull weeds, pushes the lawn mower, or rakes leaves. He has even been up helping clean out rain gutters. (Hurray that we have rain and need those gutters clean!) He loves getting out and doing some hard physical work. He is quite a handy boy to have around.

 This little lady is learning to read. Her reading program may be a bit time consuming and I don't always enjoy the repetition of it's games and such but it is working. She points out sight words when I read her books and I know she is sounding out signs when we drive around town. It won't be long now before she is a confident reading machine.

And then there is Peezy. She is our little mascot. She greets us at the door when we have been gone. She is so fun to watch play with her toys. She has a number of little puff ball toys that she bats about like a soccer ball. She loves to chase strings and jumps and flips when the kids twirls a rope for her pleasure.  She certainly is a fun addition to our home. 

The kids all admit that I am her favorite person. She often follows me about the house and is usually where ever I am. She perfers my side of the bed to take her cat naps on. And is always up early to give my nose a lick when it is time to wake up. 

And then there is me. What am I up to? I read a lot. I keep reading books that I agree to review on NetGalley. Most of these are light fiction so not very challenging but they are a fun escape from the noise and business of being a mom, teacher, taxi driver, etc. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fun at the Cabin

We were invited to spend the weekend at our friend's cabin. We were excited to get to spend a few days with friends that we don't get to see often. They are friends from our former home. We have made an effort to keep up with many of the friends from our old area. The kids were really excited to get to go and play. 

Sophie helped make a fort in the "girls room" in the cabin. 
 We were actually hoping to have snow. This time of year there is usually snow up in the Sierras. The cabin is at about 5000 feet so in February there should be snow. But this is what it looked like.
 The kids had a great time playing outside. But we are really sad that we didn't get to see or play in any snow.
 You can tell from the pictures that there is only a little bit of snow up on the tops of the mountains. Certainly not enough for the time of year.
 It was pretty scary when we went to the nearby lake/ reservoir.
This should be all covered in snow.
 We might be wearing jackets in this picture but soon those came off because it was rather warm in the sun and when we hiked around to the dam we were all toasty.

 During our hike to the dam the kids all had a great time climbing all the rocks.
 Here is the dam. This is the only place there was much water in the lake and that is usually almost up to the top of the dam. We sure are in trouble here in CA when our reservoirs are this low and there is no snow in the mountains.

 It was a lovely hike around to the dam. And we had a great long weekend with our friends playing games and talking.

Pinewood Derby

This is the only year Ian and Henry will compete together in a Pinewood Derby. This is Henry's first year getting to make and race a car and Ian's last. 

Henry went with looks over speed and made his car look like a shark. Ian went with a rather traditional design and at the last minute he agreed to paint some sparkles on the sides of his car with some nail polish. I thought it looked great.  I wasn't there for the weight check and empounding of the cars. Evidently Ian's needed a lot more weight and they ended up gluing on a bunch of pennies to bring the weight up.

 The races didn't go all that well for my boys. Evidently their wheels were hammered in slightly angled and it really slowed the cars down.  There were two trips down the track when Henry's car didn't even make it to the finish line.
 But the boys were good sports. Despite having a poor showing the boys had fun and cheered each other on.

 Ian got an award for the car with the most bling. (I guess the nail polish was a hit)
 Henry had the scariest car.
We may not have the fanciest cars and this year we certainly didn't drive away the winners but we had fun and that is the point, right?!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Molly's Reading Program

So I decided to get serious about teaching Molly to read. I have had IEW's PAL on the shelf for months so I didn't have any excuses. This is the first actual reading program I have used. Sophie taught herself to read pretty much and the boys used explode the code books and lots of easy readers.  I figured I would give this program a try. 

 Each lesson starts with a poem. Evidently they thought people would be starting this program in the fall because the first poem is September. Even though it was January when we began we started with the poem September. I printed the poem on a page with lots of blank space and had Molly draw pictures to help her remember the poem.
She needed the pictures the first 5 or so days we repeated the poem but now can repeat it without the visual. As you move along in the lessons you look for words in the poem that you learned. We have already learned all the colors so she now can spot the color words in this poem.
We are on lesson 10 and will get to start a new poem in the next lesson.

We are doing the reading and the writing parts of PAL. We aren't doing All about Spelling like they recommend. Perhaps we will visit that program at a later date but for now there is plenty of work involved in the PAL reading and writing to keep Molly busy.

After reviewing out poem we usually do a short journal entry. I write what she tells me to write. Usually this is about something she likes.  "I like brownies. I like to eat them with milk." or "I like to play with Peezy. I like my cat". I try to get about 5 sentences from her and have to prod her a bit and try hard to get her to use some other phrase than "I like....." but she has a hard time thinking of anything else to say or any other way to say it. Oh well it will be fun to look back on what she says in this journal.

After the journal we usually review the letters and sounds they make before introducing any new letters.
 I will give her a sound and she writes the letter.

 Then we learn the two or so new letters for the day and the sounds they make.
 Next we are supposed to read a short little story, an Aesop's fable or something and talk about it. But honestly we tend to skip the story here and read one later.

Then it is game time.
 There is a whole bunch of these file folder games that we add letters to each lesson.
 These have been fun. She likes the games and it is fun for her to get to color or cut out parts of the games. We usually make them together as part of the lesson. She does all the coloring. I do most of the cutting and she does the glueing.

I think we have about 8 file folder games now. She does several of them during each lesson. 

There are some sight words as well as phonics that we work on with the games.

Then there is a little work sheet she colors and usually has to cut out words and past them in the right places on the page.

It takes us a good hour and sometimes more to make it through the entire lesson. That is why I often save the story for later and lately the worksheet is done later while the other kids are doing their math or something and Molly noise needs to be contained.

So far PAL reading and writing has been fun for us. It is far more time consuming than I am used to doing with my kids to learn to read. But Molly is loving the hour of undivided attention she gets while we do school with her. I definetly see improvement and she is seeing more words around her. The other kids like getting that hour break from their school work too.


We love having a pretty good sized back yard. It was one of the selling points on this house. But the trees in the yard were either dead or palm trees. We don't see any need or use for palm trees. They don't give you much shade and they certainly don't give you any fruit. We decided the palm trees needed to go. The dead trees were removed a few months ago when we first moved in but the palm trees have been waiting for us to really get serious about removing them. The were planted in the ground still in their pots. I don't know exactly why they would leave the plastic pots around the trees roots but we figured that was wrong in many ways so we needed to get serious about digging them up. Well last week we got serious. 

 For months the boys had been on and off digging around the trees. That is how we knew about them being in their plastic pots still.  But when I started to see fruit trees in the stores I knew it was time to get them out and stop playing at digging.

I went out and started to dig. It took about an hour of hard physical labor with the shovel to dig all around the pot and loosen it from the dirt. But the first tree was out.

 We worked on the next tree a following day and finally paid one of the young men in our neighborhood to dig out the last one. He needed funds for camp and I was tired of digging and even had blisters on my hands despite wearing gloves.

But these trees are now in the ground and the palm trees are out. We hope to have apples, peaches and plums in a few years.  Let us just hope the trees make it despite the lack of water in CA. It did rain a tiny bit last week (a drop in the bucket compared to what we actually need! We will take it though. Every little bit counts.) but the sun is shining again and more rain doesn't seem to be in the works. We are going to be in for a long hot, dry summer. 

My parents have been told to cut their water usage by 50%. That is going to be difficult! We keep praying for Rain and lots of snow in the mountains!