Sunday, November 23, 2014

Things to do this week

Our first snowfall of the year - it is all melted now, but it sure was pretty.

Some things to do this week.....Try to finish up a post I started last week on Sonlight's Core F, not sure why this one post is taking me forever :: cook our own Thanksgiving feast a day or two after Thanksgiving, because we don't spend the holiday at home and we like to have the leftovers :: make the cranberry bread recipe from Cranberry Thanksgiving :: watch the weather forecasts - more snow is predicted :: start to decorate for the holidays by week's end :: light our first advent candle on Sunday :: bake - thinking a pineapple upside down cake, a pumpkin pie, and an apple pie :: get out the Christmas books :: put out the birdfeeder :: catch up on some schoolwork early in the week :: knit here and there - I am in the middle of a hat and the start of a lap blanket :: do some online gift shopping, because I can't handle Black Friday in person!

Have a wonderful week and a lovely Thanksgiving....

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Musings

 For the week of November 17th....

Plans for this week

 Our usual round of "stuff", including the orthodontist, plus an early Thanksgiving celebration with friends, and a trip to the mall, which we usually avoid like the plague. Kind of dreading that one already, but it is the easiest place to find snow boots, gloves, and the like for everyone. Also it has a huge craft store, so I am hoping to get our Christmas crafting plans in place this week so we can pick up a few supplies. 

Thinking about

The busy time of year, which seems to be starting now and will not really let up until after Christmas. Specifically, I am thinking of ways to make the next few weeks feel special, but still down to earth and simple, and not so rushed. A tall order, perhaps. The kids made fun of me the other day for buying the movie Elf before Thanksgiving. But in my defense, I have wanted to see that movie for years and it always seems to have a "very long wait" on Netflix by the time I think of it. Also, it was on sale.  I don't want to rush the Christmas season in, but at the same time, I am not opposed to little bits of it sneaking in here and there. The season goes by to fast anyway, so why not eke every sparkly bit out of it that you can, I say.

Homeschool notes

It's Christopher last week of Sonlight's Core F! We really loved this Core. Hopefully, I will get my act together to do a little post on it soon. Next, he is going to move on to Bookshark's World History 1 with Bookshark's Grade 5 science. I am hoping for a pretty productive week so that we can take most of Thanksgiving week off!

Out of doors

It is cold out there, all of a sudden. It seems we went from light sweatshirts and sneakers to boots and heavy jackets overnight. I am glad we got the garlic in last week, because the ground is pretty frozen now. That means frozen hoses and frozen water buckets for the animals and lots of hauling water from the tap up by the house. I am trying to consider this a lovely form of extra exercise, but I'm not sure I am succeeding.

In the kitchen

Last week, I made a huge pot of black beans, using dried beans. I had never done that before, so it was pretty exciting! I love the idea of making a big pot of something and using it for different things throughout the week.  I used them one night to make black bean burgers, another night I fried some of them in a pan with a little butter and served them with rice, salsa, and tortilla chips, and the last bit of beans went on a pizza along with some Mexican cheese. This week, I am going to cook a big batch of dried chickpeas, not sure yet what I will turn them into.

Watching & reading

We all watched Maleficent for our movie night and we all loved it. I was a little worried about Rose, since she tends to be sensitive about some movies, but she was totally fine with it and said afterwards that she would like to see it again. Without the kids, we have been finishing up Once Upon a Time, the third season. I wish we had thought to set the DVR for this season,  because now we have to wait until it is over and out on DVD to catch up. No streaming out here in the sticks! I have been reading Quiet Mind and I think I might need to buy it. It is the kind of book I could picture keeping on my nightstand in order to read a little section each morning.

Hope you have a great week!

Friday, November 14, 2014

homeschooling progress

I am really, really happy with the progress we have made so far this homeschool year. I think this is the first year since we started homeschooling that I can say that, and totally mean it. When we started back in August, I made up our school year calendar, with the dates we would be working and taking off. And we have stuck to the plan pretty well. I had hoped to be up to week 12 of our 36 week plan by Thanksgiving and we should definitely make that goal. 

The week of Thanksgiving is supposed to be a week off, but we will use the beginning of it to play catchup on just a few things, because this week and next week we have a lot of "life" stuff going on and I know we won't get to some things. Really planning things out week by week this year has been a huge motivator for me. I have a tendency to think: oh, let's just skip the math today, if I am feeling frazzled or too busy. But with the pages we need to do each week listed right in front of me, I can see that if we skip, we will not finish the book in a year unless we make up for it some other time. Not that we don't still skip things or not get to them! We do, of course. But my plan gives me that little push that I often need to keep going during a tough week. 

Other stuff...

These are two of the books James and I are reading lately for Bookshark's American  History and Sonlight Science D.


Beginner's American History is one of the spines for this level, along with the redesigned Landmark History.  I prefer the Landmark book; the writing flows better and it includes lots of colored pictures and maps. It just feels more engaging to me.  Beginner's is a little choppy and is set up kind of like a school text, with a summary paragraph at the end of each chapter, discussion questions, and black and white drawings and maps. But it is an easy and quick read, and  I think the two spines complement each other quite well, there is just enough overlap, but not too much. 

 Mysteries and Marvels of Nature is your typical Usborne book, with lots of illustrations and interesting snippets of texts. I know not everyone likes these sorts of books, but my kids love them.  James spends quite a bit of time studying all the information and the pictures. Afterwards, we use the discussion questions in the instructor guide to discuss what he read. He retains information from this book surprisingly well  and I myself have learned quite a bit through our discussions lately! He also likes to look up the internet links for this book on the Usborne quick links site.

Also, Rose and I finished our human body study! Here is her completed "paper person" which we  made with the templates in the book My Body. Please excuse that I clearly did not cut the feet well enough,  leaving the bones to stick out, and that I made the head way too big and funny-shaped. Paper cutting is really not a talent I possess.

We had so much fun with this book, we were sorry to see it end! Now we are moving onto our animal study, primarily using this book...

We are only one week in, but so far this has been a hit. The text is pretty lively and interesting, there are discussion questions for each animal, and the animals are grouped by region, which I especially like. Rose likes the pullout booklets included throughout, mostly because she likes any excuse to staple. We did our first one of those today, on penguins. It included a coloring page, too, which she will be doing at some point. I think this book is going to be a lot of fun.

Till next time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a really nice day

Veteran's Day was such a beautiful day. A little bit sunny, a little bit cloudy, just cool enough for a light sweatshirt, but definitely warm for early November in these parts. I was outside for most of it, which was a nice change. I cleaned the chicken coops, which I had been putting off, and straightened up the garden a bit. We planted two big beds of garlic, some from bulbs I grew, others from bulbs I bought. It seemed like a ton of garlic at the time, but I know how fast garlic goes around here. I think we will be lucky if we make it to the new year with the garlic we harvested this fall. Now, for the spring, we planted twice as much as that, so we'll see how much longer it will last.  We planted Music, Georgian Fire, German Extra Hardy, and German Red. Now I just need to remember to mulch them once the ground freezes.

In the afternoon we had a campfire in the backyard. In summertime this is an evening event, but it was kind of nice having a daytime fire. Much easier to find sticks for marshmallows. The kids are pretty interested in learning to start and maintain a fire, so they mostly got this going themselves, though Dad gave lots of advice. It's harder than it looks to get and keep a fire going!

I will miss s'mores over the winter. Not exactly the healthiest snack option ever, but there is just something about them. I can't eat more than two, but I really love those two.

I was thinking all along this might be our last backyard fire of the season, but lately I have been thinking about making Solstice more of a holiday around here, and a fire might be nice that day too. Anyway, right after the fire we had to get back to real life, there was gymnastics class to attend, a house to pick up, dinner to  make, a whiny child looking to pick a know, the usual:).  It was a really nice day though, all in all. Now cold weather is heading our way, along with a good chance of some snow!

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Library Books, New Math

We just went to the library for the first time in weeks. Last year the library was part of our regular weekly rotation, with a visit tucked in between a riding lesson and gymnastics. This year we don't have such a convenient time slot and our longer school days and busier evenings mean that we often go two or three weeks between library trips. It's okay though. Grace reads longer books and has been using her allowance money more and more to buy her own books. She also trades books with friends frequently. Christopher likes to take his time reading long fiction books and has been borrowing a lot of books from Grace. James really prefers nonfiction and has read most everything from there that he wants to. I keep meaning to teach him how to request inter-library loan books. And Rose always enjoys a good library trip, but we have so many books at home for her that she certainly isn't lacking when we don't go.

 I like to look for books for myself once a month or so. It takes me awhile to get through a fiction book, so I don't get very many of those. I am still reading the massive Under the Dome, so I didn't need a new novel. Instead, I picked up a stack of nonfiction books that looked interesting.

In my haul:

Quiet Mind 
The Nature Principle
Homegrown and Homemade
Real Simple's 869 New Uses for Old Things
Christmas Crafting in No Time

There is just something calming about having a new stack of library books sitting on an end table, don't you think? And for free! That always amazes me.

In homeschool news lately.... Rose has made the switch to Math Mammoth 1. She had been doing Rightstart Level B. I spend a good amount of time getting this program all set up over the summer so that it would be more open and go and user-friendly. At first she loved it, but the past few weeks it has been a struggle to get her to do it. Her main complaint?

It takes too long.

I think so, too. I was not entirely disappointed that this didn't work out. I am not sure why I thought this program could work with a fourth child. It is very, very teacher intensive. Rose is also not such a big fan of all the bit and bobs... the place value cards and cut-outs and such. It all just gets in the way of what she really wants to be doing - practicing her bridge kickovers and handstands.

So we have switched to Math Mammoth, which is much easier on us both. I will not say she loves this program either, but it is quicker to do each day and there is the bribe of playing one of the recommended games at the end of the lesson. She does love that. I purchased the Grade 1 Complete Curriculum and each chapter includes links to online games. Lately,  she has been playing games to help her practice her addition facts up to 10.

 Around the yard, things were looking pretty sad. Each fall we have a huge mess of leaves to contend with. We have lots and lots of trees, and they are lovely. Until they drop their leaves en masse. We usually put off the major cleanup until November when most of the leaves are down and then do one afternoon of raking, mowing, and leaf-blowing to get the yard back to mostly presentable. That happened this weekend, so things are looking better out there, except for the pumpkins which look sadder each day. They look way worse than this since the dog discovered they were edible.

We have one tree still hanging onto  foliage -  the Japanese Maple is always the last to go. I am glad, because it looks so pretty out the back window. Once the leaves are down, I think it may be time to hang our bird feeder up again.

We will have a short week this week, we'll be taking Veteran's Day off to relax a little and maybe finish the yard cleanup, as if it ever can be done. I also really, really need to plant garlic, so I am thinking that may happen that day too. I also need to figure out a science plan for Christopher, he is finishing up Sonlight's Core F with Core E Science. I am thinking we will go with Bookshark's Grade 5 science because they should have the next level out by spring and we could do that next year, if it looks good.

Happy Monday!