Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little Goober

Figuring that if Bluebird was going to earn her Daisy Flower Center by the end of December, I decided this morning that we should start reviewing the Girl Scout Promise so she could slowly commit it to memory.

I asked Bluebird this morning if she remembered what she needed to do to earn her Daisy Center for her uniform. (Recite the Girl Scout Promise from memory and tell me what it means.) She remembered and asked if she could see the Promise written out, which I handed to her.

Two minutes later she announced that she was ready for her test; she stood up, made the sign and rattled off the Promise perfectly.

I just sat in my chair and frowned at her. (It wasn't intentional.)

I asked her to do it again. She did. I asked her to do it yet again. She did.

Then I asked her to explain it to me. She did.

I put my hand over my eyes and made a slightly baffled sound; when I looked up, she was smiling at me smugly and said, "I get my Daisy Center now, don't I?"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekly Report: November 9-13, 2009

I spent a lot of the week recovering from something, so school was hit-or-miss.

This picture was taken as part of Bluebird's math lessons this week. We needed to pick a tree outside to observe throughout the year. This lesson was talking about the autumn season and even asked her to draw a picture of it and write a few lines about what she saw. We're a little behind in the math book, so it didn't match up with our autumn season quite that well--the tree is rather naked and it snowed the next day. (In fact, it's snowing pretty heavily right now as I type...)

Rabbit's hand, modeling what we did as part of Fun Friday.

We also continued with drawing exercises from Drawing with Children, and Bluebird did a fantastic job with her copying exercise. (Rabbit is still working on being able to draw a circle.)

We also had Music Appreciation--playing with Play-Doh while listening to "The Nutcracker." I hadn't scheduled any specific music for November, so I simply asked what they wanted to listen to and wasn't surprised that they went with that choice.

Bluebird wore her Daisy Scout uniform and made the Girl Scout Promise for the first time. She won't earn her Daisy "center" until she can say the promise from memory and tell me what it means. (I have no idea how long this will take; I'm hoping by the end of December and keeping my supplies ready at hand in case she speeds through it.)

After that, she'll start working on ten individual petals that go around the center, each one representing a different part of the Girl Scout Law. I'm tentatively planning on spending a month on each petal, doing some activities and reading books about those particular characteristics (Honesty, Courage, Using Resources Wisely, etc.). There are then two different books with accompanying mini awards to work through and we'll spend time on those and hopefully finish them all up by the time she enters the second grade and moves on to Brownies (and "real" badges!).

Michael and I have been discussing the possibility of pulling Bluebird out of public school and we decided in this last week that it would be a satisfactory choice. I'm now trying to decide when to pull her out--right away, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Kindergarten has not been detrimental, but it requires a lot of additional effort; and I'm not a big fan of the extra work when I'm already teaching her. I am thankful for its existence while I was sick and could hardly hold my head up, let alone conduct school; and I'm thankful for the experience of finding out how "important" scissor and coloring skills are because it's one of those things that I brushed aside as "they figure it out eventually."

I still hold firm to that belief, but I also realize that in some instances it's a good idea to just go with the flow because it eases the worries of other people who are already freaking out about their social development--presenting a child who can't cut a thing and has no idea how to color in the lines doesn't exactly say "Doing a good job" in regards to your teaching efforts. Usually I'm a tad bristly about bending to soothe another's worries, but in this instance I'm not going to fight back too much and just include some cutting and coloring experiences as part of our preschool curriculum. People won't worry that I'm raising misfits and I won't have to endure raised eyebrows or field stupid questions about homeschooling. Win-win. (Well, at least in that particular instance...)

I'm pleased with this decision to homeschool exclusively. I'll need to make a greater effort to make sure that it doesn't affect our home life, as I tend to talk about nothing but homeschooling or want to do anything but plan and prepare for future activities. Michael has asked that I balance that behavior. Fair request. Now, to figure out how to implement it...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dancing to "The Nutcracker"

We awoke to a healthy dusting of snow outside our window this morning, which prompted me to turn on some Christmas music during breakfast. Bluebird wrinkled up her nose at my choice and declared, "Not that Christmas music! Let's listen to The Nutcracker!" (This utterance warmed my classically-trained musical heart immensely...) I obliged her request, which quickly resulted in all three girls vacating their chairs so they could dance/twirl/fall down in dizzy heaps of giggles.

And then, much to their delight, Daddy joined in:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anne of Green Gables...Re-Incarnated

I've been battling a little yuckiness lately and my husband tried to cheer me up with the "Anne of Green Gables" DVD from Netflix.

I watched it a few nights ago and found myself shaking my head in amazement as I realized that I knew a very literal Anne Shirley in my own daily life...my eldest daughter.

It was an eye-opening moment for me. Anne Shirley is a vivacious, life-loving ball of energy who dreams ALL THE TIME and talks just as much. On screen and in the book, I love her dearly and adore her quirks and enthusiasm for life. I get frustrated with all the well-meaning adults who get so easily frustrated with her and refuse to recognize how special she is.

My dear, sweet Bluebird never stops chattering and is always planning some grand scheme and wanting to do more and is so easily distracted by some errant passing fancy. She makes up new, dramatically descriptive names for EVERYTHING and always speaks with exclamation points at the ends of her sentences. I've been getting a little frustrated with her attention span lately and can't even begin to estimate how many times I have told her to STOP TALKING SO LOUDLY! (To which she responds by whispering her next sentence and then forgets about being quiet and starts talking at full volume with the next sentence.) She sings while she does just about everything and the last two weeks of school have had me sounding like a broken record: "You don't need to sing about or talk about everything I ask you to do; just please focus and do your work."

But this brush with Anne Shirley has softened my view of my girl's behavior and tendencies...they are special and meaningful parts of who she is. I'm determined to appreciate her enthusiasm and zeal a little more and to stand up for her when other (older) adults tell her that her chattering gives them a headache.

Anne of Green Gables is a beloved heroine of literature...and it's her "frustrating" qualities that make her so lovable. I need to appreciate those qualities in real life people as well...although I'm still going to request for a stop to the singing while she's doing schoolwork, as she is thoroughly incapable of writing or answering anything correctly while she's concentrating on her lyrics.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Sources

Heather asked where I got my books. Here's the info:

Just about everything can be purchased on Amazon.com.
I know for sure that I've purchased the following at Amazon:
Drawing with Children
Phonics Pathways
Handbook of Nature Study
Reader's Digest North American Wildlife

I've purchased my Kumon workbooks at Latter-Day Family Resources (LDFR), which also has a physical store as you enter Salem from Spanish Fork. I can't remember what the name of the physical store is because it's owned by my friend, Diane Hopkins, and I just always call it "Diane's Store." My girls love that store!

The Daisy Scout books I purchased at the Girl Scout office up in Orem, although I have seen them offered in the Girl Scout online store. I've never ordered from the online store and I don't know if anyone can just order leader manuals without entering special codes or something like that.

You can purchase the Saxon and Singapore math materials at Diane's Store/LDFR, but we originally purchased ours from Learning Things (Saxon K and Manipulatives) and Rainbow Resource Center (Saxon 1).

And then, of course, we have our weekly trips to the library; which keeps us well-stocked in reading books. I try to curb my desire to buy all the picture books they want because they're just so expensive! Oh, to have an unlimited homeschool budget...

Hope this answers your question! :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mastering the Calendar

I am a calendar fanatic. I have a planner in my purse, a calendar that pops up when I turn on my computer, a birthday reminder poster, various calendars throughout the house and a big school calendar on my pantry door.

This is hardly an efficient use of calendars.

With my calendar bounty, I was starting to miss appointments and birthdays because what was written on one calendar wasn't always written on the other. And then my darling Little Lamb ransacked the bin of wipes and "cleaned" my birthday reminder poster on the wall. I needed to consolidate. I decided to keep the planner in my purse because it was super handy, especially when out and about at various medical facilities--just write in the next appointment, no need to clutch an appointment reminder card until you can get it home and safely transfer the data.

All the other calendars--needed to become just one. I decided on our school calendar: it's in a central location, impossible to miss and would also serve the bonus of teaching the girls about keeping track of important dates.

I purchased two packs of little cupcake cut-outs and filled one in for each member of our enormous extended family (noting the actual birthday on the back of the card). In case you're curious, there's forty something different cards there.

Each month has its own special date cards, so I threw the birthday cards into their respective bags.

I also bought a pack of assorted shapes and had them laminated. (Sorry, no picture.) Each shape has been assigned to a member of our immediate family and will serve as reminders for appointments and other obligations. I simply write the appointment down with a wet-erase marker on the family member's designated shape and stick it up on the calendar.

And here it is, the Household Calendar, Simplified:

It's calmed the craziness down already. Bluebird received an invitation to a birthday party last month, and when we walked into the house I just the invitation on the day of the party. No need to write it down and I had a very constant visual reminder of its impending arrival. I also happen to live in a ward that is very good about leaving reminder notes of upcoming ward activities on my door, and those just get stuck on the appropriate day. No mess, no fuss.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weekly Report: November 2-6, 2009

It is absolutely insane that it's already November!

We instituted our first official "Fun Friday" this week and it was a huge success! We started with the beginning lessons from Drawing with Children, which Bluebird grasped extremely well and Rabbit tried to keep up with (and did pretty good for a three year old).

I had planned to do an art project involving tissue paper and cutting out leaf shapes, but then Rabbit begged me for three days to do some painting...and really, it's all about them and what they want, right? So painting it was.

I expected these two activities to take up somewhat close to two hours, but they were done with both in an hour and a half, and they had sped through their morning chores in eager anticipation of Fun Friday, so we were actually left with a whole extra hour of school time, but with no plan. We sat down and brainstormed other ideas of how to use the time and Bluebird meekly reminded me of all that Daisy Scout stuff that's been sitting in the closet for months...and then we received correspondence from the head Girl Scout office that very day about selling cookies. I guess we're going to start back up with Girl Scouts. (She's very excited to start earning her petals.)

It really is amazing what little people can do if you're just consistent with them.

Her penmanship is really improving and she's even starting to be able to write a lot of letters and numbers without needing a model in front of her to copy. She struggled and struggled with the numbers 6, 8 and 9; but then 8 became rather consistent and 6 is starting to look like a 6. 9 is a bit of a mess--she wants to go the opposite way and then bring the line straight down through the middle of the circle. It will get better with practice, it's still a very new area. We sent out a lot of cards this last week and she wrote messages in every one of them, only asking me to spell out the words as she wrote them.

We started with the "___e" endings in which the "e" makes the vowel say its name and she understood it just fine. She really is sounding out these words and it's cute to listen as she starts on a word with an "e" at the end because she'll start reading the short vowel sound and then quickly shift into the long vowel sound when she realizes that the "e" is tacked on it. I don't know why it's so interesting to watch and listen to her doing this, but it is.

Math is math. I think I'm going to stay with Saxon. Singapore moves quicker, but I'm a big fan of repetition and getting your facts down cold, and she likes doing the same thing over and over again because she enjoys showing off that she knows something so well. And really, we're in the grammar stage, so speed isn't the priority. (Is it ever?) It's a good fit, and it's nice to finally settle that debate in my head.

Cutting is going well and we added in the Easy Telling Time book this week. She has not been a big fan because it focuses on writing numbers for the first few pages and that's not something she particularly enjoys. But it looks like this next week will see us actually telling some time, so I think her enjoyment level will increase.

I started her on the Kumon Tracing book this week (gotta keep things fair--sister got a new book, so Rabbit needed a new book too) and she is LOVING it. I'm keeping her to two pages a day, but I imagine she'd do ten a day if I'd let her. I think it's wise to start a kid in a Kumon workbook at the middle age they suggest on the cover, if only for the sanity of the person helping them through the workbook. The Cutting book has been some real work, and we're definitely seeing progress, but it's been a far more positive experience to start in a book that she doesn't have to struggle so hard to "get."

Little Lamb
She's napped through all school sessions and been preoccupied with her breathing treatment hyperactivity, so not much learning to report upon. She has learned how to sit still through an entire breathing treatment though, which I'm very grateful for.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Future Nature Study Ideas

We were going to do a nature hike this week, but then the girls were sick so we put it off again...and my camera's been very neurotic since our trip to the sand dunes, but Michael took it to work yesterday and had one of "his men" take a look at it and clean the sand particles out of it and now it's working semi-well.

I'm thinking we'll start looking at animals. November's a great time to find migrating fowl and bustling turkey farms. Last week there was a Canadian Goose gathering at the waters by my husband's work, which would have been fun to observe from a distance. (And from a distance only...I've seen what a peeved Canadian Goose can do to both children AND adults!)

And perhaps some leaf studying as well...I was originally thinking that last week's snowstorm soggied up the batch, but we kicked and skipped our way through some beautifully crisp leaves yesterday at the library.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hopped up on 'roids

Bluebird brought home a sniffle-bug from Kindergarten last week and Little Lamb caught it. Now, as some of you may remember, Little Lamb caught RSV last winter and it has definitely messed with her lungs. What has given Bluebird a slight cough and a stuffy nose has give Little Lamb a full-blown respiratory infection and she's had to start breathing treatments to help her get through it.

Albuterol sulfate turns Little Lamb into a raging bull. She's smiling like a maniac and moving abnormally fast and will totally charge into anyone who is standing in her path. It's kind of funny, but also annoying because her favorite target is Rabbit (who is only about four pounds heavier than Little Lamb and a total pacifist). I feel like I'm about to go crazy with the continual tornado that is my baby girl and the havoc she inflicts as she sprints through the house. 'Roid Rage is not good in someone with extremely limited reasoning capabilities!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Here Comes Thanksgiving!

Amidst all the headless chicken shopping we did to get ready for Halloween, I managed to purchase a magazine or two boasting photos of glorious roast turkeys and mouth-watering desserts upon their covers. I've been caught numerous times over the weekend flipping through their pages and dreaming of the sumptuous feast I aim to prepare in a few weeks hence.

I'm hoping for a big, BIG crowd at our home. Realistically, all potential guests live some distance away from us, so it may just end up being the Mr., Mrs. and offspring. I love to entertain, I love to cook and I love it when my home is filled with chatter and the smells of wonderful food together.

This year I'm going to be a little smarter about it all and test-drive new recipes before the big day.

Some potential Turkey Day candidates include:
New York Cheesecake with Glazed Cranberry topping
Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans
Turkey Breast stuffed with apricots and dates (In case of a Mr. and Mrs. dinner)
Baked Macaroni and Cheese (New version--I keep trying to find a homemade version that the girls will prefer over the blue box...every time I dump that packet of powdered cheese over the noodles, I cringe a little.)
Green Beans with Lemon Vinaigrette and Parmesan Breadcrumbs (Because the idea of Green Bean Casserole this year is making my stomach turn.)
Celeriac and Yukon Potato Puree (So crazy, it just might be good...)

Any new recipes that you've been eyeing? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Michael's View on Bluebird's "Coloring Skills"

When she hands him a picture she's colored/drawn for him:

"I spend more time figuring out what it is than she does in drawing it."