Friday, March 30, 2012

Park Playdate

This morning we met with another homeschooling family at Downs Park in Lake Shore.  Of course we chose the chilliest day of March, but the boys didn't care.  The three of them, all very physical, rolled and leaped and jumped and wrestled their way through the first hour.  Then we walked through the paths near the water and Dakota begged me to let him take off his shoes and socks to play in the sand.  I thought it was a bad idea, but the other boys did so I agreed, knowing it wouldn't end well.  Fifteen minutes later Dakota was crying because his hands and feet were cold, sandy and numb.  I had to bite my tongue not to say "I told you so!"

Fast food for lunch, pjs by 1:30 and a night spent at home reading, watching tv and doing a whole lot of nothing. I am pathetic because I am way too excited about the prospect!

My family is fun!

I take pride in the fact that my family loves to be together.  I know some families grow up and go their own way, but mine is close and we really enjoy each other.  I got to spend the afternoon with my younger daughter and she and my granddaughter, who don't get to spend too much time together, really had fun playing.  It also gave me the opportunity to work a little.  She had to leave around 5, but then my oldest daughter was there and she and the baby had dinner with us.  Afterward we all left the dinner mess on the table, grabbed the dogs, the kids, the teen and the baseball stuff and headed over to the park to play.  We were up there for a couple of hours and we got dirty, got silly and had fun.  Afterward we all headed to the snowball stand for a nice treat.

Yesterday, early in the day, we had our spring celebration at our co-op.  For many years I ran parties and it was so much work.  I have finally figured out, as my friend said yesterday, that "many hands make light work".  She is so right!  Our parties now consist of each family manning their own table and setting up activities within the theme.  For this spring celebration, each family chose a holiday or theme from March or April to use for their table.  We had astronomy, gardening, butterflies, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, Earth Day, Dr. Seuss, Easter and spring.  The group of kids we have are amazing and need very little supervision, so we turned them loose to start at a station and gave them 90 minutes to visit each one.  They did great and they ended up with Mardi Gras masks, Truffula Trees, shamrocks, earth crafts, clothespin butterflies, glow in the dark star patterns and potato heads made with garden dirt.  Clean up was easy because this group of moms are as wonderful as their children and they all pitch in, put the tables away, sweep up and realign the chairs.  I love them!

Today we are going to have a regular homeschool day, starting with reading of library books and a viewing of the cartoon version of the Lorax, followed by a discussion of the similarities and differences to the new movie.  I have a "Draw the Lorax" paper and a coloring paper to do as well.  Dakota liked that he could do all these things from his dad's recliner under a blanket :-)  Sticking with the blanket theme :-) we snuggled together and read 3 1/2 chapters of our Magic Tree House book, Monday with a Mad Genius.  This one is all about Leonardo da Vinci and we are going to be doing our Meet the Masters unit on him to expand our knowledge.  This one is a great book, very fast moving and fun, and we are loving it.

The rest of the day was a blur of chaos.  I got a call from work that things needed to be due in to the office by email asap, but they weren't transcribed.  I got Dakota started on Math after his lunch break, but he wouldn't stay at the table working by himself.  He wanted my attention.  And Natalie wanted my attention.  Needless to say, I was grumpy, they were grumpy and my work barely made the deadline.

When Kris got home from work she stayed for dinner and things evened out.  I love spending time with her.  We took Natalie and went to the thrift store for an hour.  It wasn't anything much, but we always laugh together, enjoying our friendship and our bond with the baby.  I am so glad she is living here again.  My life would have had such a huge hole in it if she and Natalie weren't a daily presence.  It is so wonderful when your daughters become your friends!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hoping for a normal week!

Last week was a chaotic one, but I am hoping for much calmer seas this week.  Today was a normal homeschooling day with story starters, spelling and language arts to begin, followed by the finish of our MTH book, Dragon of the Red Dawn.  We practiced writing Haiku poems to wrap up our brief acquaintance with ancient Japan and then moved on to regular math, finishing our unit.  I ordered Abeka grade 2 test and drills book, even though we will only be using it for a few months.  I am sure I can resell it, but I was given the drills book and liked what I saw.  I like Saxon, but it is plain, with no pictures.  Dakota likes math books with lots of color and fun, but our Harcourt Grade 2, in my opinion, is too flimsy.  If I like the Abeka grade 2 I think I will buy the grade 3 for the fall, along with their Language 3 and Spelling and Poetry 2.  I do want to continue with Harcourt Science, however, and will be getting their Grade 3 book and workbook from Amazon.

Anyway, who can believe it's that time of year to think about this anyway!  I feel as if we were just starting the year and already we are thinking about what we can fit into the remaining two months of first grade and what we need to think about for the fall.  Time flies when you are having fun!

After finishing math we watched the Scholastic Storybook Treasures, So You Want to Be President?  It started out really good, but went way too long.  After about 20 minutes or so Dakota and I both lost interest.  It has merit, no doubt, but it seemed to drag on and on. Thankfully we took our lunch break afterward.

I had a few things planned after lunch, but Dakota got lost in our new rock unit for science.  We read a book, used a magnifying glass to take a closer look at some rocks and then he dug into a large bag of fancy and not so fancy rocks we have accumulated through the years and got lost in them.  He was so excited!  I let him look through them until he finally got tired of them, but by then we were out of time and I just sent him off to read for awhile.  Work was calling and I was getting grumpy and tired.  Enough.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Beginning of the End

Standing to the side of the cafeteria at my son's high school today, a teacher gave the opening statements to approximately 300 students who were preparing to enjoy their Senior Breakfast.  Her words struck me as incredibly true...."this is the beginning of the end of your senior year".  Yes, today's breakfast begins the flurry of activities that will culminate my son's high school career.  I am glad it's almost over for him because he hasn't been happy at the school.  He loved his old high school with a passion, but the Archdiocese of Baltimore decided to shut it down and this is where he transferred.  He feels he doesn't fit in here and I can understand why.  Although some people have been extremely kind to me, a number of parents and students seem to be "out of our league".  We have different backgrounds, different living arrangements, different circumstances.  It leaves my son and I feeling...different.  I couldn't help but wonder how different it would have been had we still been at our other school.  I looked at these young men and women and knew very few, mainly the boys on the football team.  I may have known five of the fifty parents.  I watched my son sitting with some of his buddies from his old school.  His body language told me that he was uncomfortable, as well.  I wish that it didn't have to be this way for him.  I wish I could turn back the clock and make things the way we wish they were.  But I can't.  So I attend the functions and I smile, sad that things aren't the way they could have been and sad that my boy is almost through with his childhood, but proud to be him mom and happy that he has done well, succeeding in the face of adversity, even though his heart hasn't always been in it.

Class of 2012.  I remember saying those words when he was just a small boy and thinking that was so far off in the future. Time flies, however, as only a parent can understand and today we began the beginning of the end.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rainy Days at Home

Today, the first day of spring, was a bit cool with cloud cover and a bit of drizzle.  It was the perfect day to be at home.  We took advantage of the day inside and did lots of reading.  Dakota started the day with the new Play and View from the library.  It's a small handheld device that plays movies adapted from children's books.  He watched The Mouse and the Motorcycle, a book I haven't been able to get him to read, and seemed to really enjoy it.  Afterward, we got his warmest fuzzy blanket from his room, cuddled in the chair and read three chapters of our Magic Tree House book, Dragon of the Red Dawn. After a slow start, these chapters were exciting and had many references to things we could talk about.  We answered our comprehension questions, looked up Mount Fuji, colored pictures of Japanese people in traditional dress and then did some suminagashi, which is an ancient Japanese technique for decorating paper with inks.  Instead of using ink, however, we took an idea from Pinterest and used milk and food color.  It worked okay, though not as good as I would have liked, but it got a "Cool" rating from Dakota, so I guess that will be sufficient :-)


Next up today was math, adding three digits in the form of money, and language arts, a compilation of spring fun worksheets and a silly book called Punctuation Celebration.  For science we looked through some of a very large book called Encylopedia of Endangered Animals and I sent him off to take his lunch break in his room with some very cute "learn to draw" pictures of endangered animals from www.enchantedlearning.com.  


For social studies today, we did a report on Carlton Fisk for tomorrow's co-op.  He is a famous Vermonteer, and that is it's relevance, but it is also the start of our upcoming baseball unit that we will begin next week.  We also got on www.funbrain.com and played a game called Math Baseball with subtraction.  I have decided to let him play a game on FunBrain at least twice a week.  They are fun and educational.  To wrap up our day, we did history in the form of a movie.  We are talking about immigration and I think An American Tail is a cute movie that is relevant.  


The rest of this week is not looking very well homeschooling-wise.  Tomorrow we have co-op and Dakota will get in a small bit of work afterward, but not much.  Thursday morning is a bust for him because he is going to his MomMom's while I work at Brian David's senior breakfast at school and Friday is the circus.  I wanted to do circus themed stuff this week, but it looks like next week it will have to be.  Oh well.  No matter how much you try, you can't do it all

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Productive Monday

Today I will consider my homeschooling a success.  We got started early, covered most topics by noon and Dakota and I got along all day!  We are about half way through our newest Magic Tree House book. Dragon of the Red Dawn and after we read that today and answered our comprehension questions we made a Japanese Koi fish paper bag puppet.  We read about Susan B. Anthony for Women's History Month and finished our Character Education series, finally!!  We are learning how to pull information from a story and put it into a graphic organizer, a pre-cursor to writing a report and learning about different animals in the process.  We did sea otters a few days ago and today it was polar bears.  After we read the story from National Geographic for Kids magazine, we fill out as much of the form as we can.  Then we get onto the computer and he is learning how to Google for information to fill in the remainder of the topics.  We are learning about endangered status, as well, so I feel that this one activity is filling alot of requirements for us.

After eating our lunch with chopsticks like they do in Japan, we did the regular language arts activities in our Abeka books and played Mad Libs and The Plural Girls on www.funbrain.com.  We read the remainder of National Geographic for Kids for enjoyment, filled out the music form that my older daughter left for him which is teaching him how to read music and started a math unit on addition and even got out on the deck to enjoy the unusually warm early March day.  Whew!  Here's hoping that tomorrow is as productive and even half as enjoyable!

Restore the Roar

After much waiting and many phone calls, we finally got the long awaited letter from Towson University last week confirming my son's acceptance to the school.  My boy will be a Towson Tiger, heading there with our neighbor (his best friend) and several classmates past and present.  He wants to live on campus and experience all there is to learn about the life of a college student.  Our family is so proud of him and not one of us can believe that our "little" Brian is all grown up!  He's been everyone's "baby" for what seems like forever and now this "baby" has a mustache, goatee, muscles, a deep voice and an acceptance letter to college!

It's going to be a very difficult transition for this mom and dad, who have built the last nineteen years around our son, but we know that it's time for him to fly and, thank the good Lord, he's only flying 20 minutes away.  He will always be our Brian and I know that we have given him roots that grow deep and strong and he won't ever forget where he came from or where home is.  His room, his dog and his little brother will be waiting for him along with us whenever he wants to come home for the night or the weekend and holidays and summers will be all that much more special when he stays with us for longer stretches.  And, should he find that living away from home isn't quite what he thought, he knows that it's okay to commute.

Brian David, we are so proud of you!  I always say what a great kid you are, but the truth is, you are now a great man.  You are my masterpiece!  My prized possession!  Remember what you have been taught.  Keep making good decisions.  Work hard and have lots of fun.  Just make sure that you pick up the phone and keep us up to date on what's going on in your life.  You may not be living under our roof anymore, but you will always be nestled under our hearts.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss is on the loose!!



Today is Dr. Seuss's 108th birthday and we are having fun!  We started by getting out all our Dr. Seuss books and setting them up on the table.  Some are Natalie's and brand new and some are Kris and Keri's and are around 25 years old!  You can tell which is which!  We put up streamers, made a Happy Birthday poster and hung up our posters and papers too.  I put on my crown and Cat in the Hat socks, Koda put on his Cat in the Hat tall striped hat and his How the Grinch Stole Christmas shirt and we were ready!  Breakfast first with, of course, green eggs, green pancakes and ham.  We added a little science in there, talking about our current unit on reversible and irreversible changes.  We then took a reading break, me reading the Dr. Seuss autobiography for kids to him and he was reading his favorite, Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!  We did some fun word games and a cloze activity, read Green Eggs and Ham and In A People House and painted Thing 1 and Thing 2 using our hand prints.  Lunch break was spent watching the video The Cat In The Hat and singing along to the songs.  Love that show!

After the break, we read four chapters of Koda's book club selection, The End of the Beginning, by Avi.  It's a silly little book about an ant and a snail and, while I think some of the round about speaking goes over his head, he is enjoying it.  It's the first book he has offered to read besides a Magic Tree House one.  He was, by this point, all Seussed out and, I have to admit, so was I.  He finished the day by using his beloved glitter glue to make a pennant for Dr. Seuss and then we called it a day.  I need to go to the grocery store and he wants to "do his thing" before Uncle Fred picks him up for the Baltimore Blast soccer game tonight.