Friday, January 25, 2013

The Week In Review

This week was bitterly cold outside, but we spent alot of toasty warm time indoors.  Monday was a day off for all of us, then Tuesday we did a regular homeschool day, spending alot of time reading under the blankets and drinking hot chocolate and eating soup for lunch.  Wednesday was co-op, so out we went, learning about Brahms and Picasso, but we were quick to return, get in comfy clothes and stay indoors for the afternoon.  Thursday saw a productive morning, but we slowly lost focus and turned to Rock N Learn videos to finish.  Dakota loves Rock N Learn and we did Division Rap and The Five Senses in Depth off the Human Body science one.  I couldn't get out of my own way after having my three girls over for a spaghetti dinner, but managed to drag my self out to Dakota's basketball game...a serious lesson in patience!  The kids on the other team didn't seem to know which basket to shoot at, how to stay inbounds or anything else about basketball for that matter.  Basketball is Dakota's best sport and he played well, but it was a looooong hour and we won...4-2. That's a whole three baskets in an hour!  We all couldn't wait to get home to get into pjs and under the covers.  Can you tell we are a family who doesn't like the cold?

Today is a half day of school for us because of swimming.  I let Dakota sleep in and this morning we will get our history, a math video from SchoolHouse Rock and a science experiment from our MSB kit in before heading out into the pre-snow afternoon to hopefully get to swimming and back before the flakes start falling.  I am counting on a quiet night indoors spent in pjs (yet again!), watching DVR'd shows and movies with all my guys.  Brian David moves back into college tomorrow and while I will sometimes enjoy the quiet, I have gotten used to him being around again and it's going to be an adjustment having him away all week again.  Thank goodness he is around most weekends.  I don't know how I would manage if he was farther away and gone for months at a time.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mommy/Son Weekend

This weekend my little son and I had the house to ourselves since my husband and older son went to Boston for the Ravens-Patriots game.  I got my necessary grocery shopping out of the way early Saturday and then I took him to his first wrestling scrimmage at Chesapeake High School.  It was a long afternoon and it's a sport I definitely do not like, but it was fun to cheer for him (for the total of about 5 minutes he wrestled).  We didn't get out of there until after 5:00 and wanted to have a nice dinner at Texas Roadhouse, but since that was too crowded, we ended up at Bob Evans.  This was definitely a downgrade in the quality of food, but it was a good meal and he and I enjoyed each other's company.

After dinner, we headed home, got his bath and I got on pajamas and under the covers we went with our kindles, some books, my laptop and the remote.  There we spent the next fourteen hours!! enjoying doing a whole lot of nothing (and sleeping, of course) and didn't get moving until 10:30 this morning.  We have spent a quiet day here at the house and now we are getting ready to head to my brother in law's for a Ravens party.

I love when I get Dakota to myself.  He is calm, quiet and playful.  Very, very little attitude.  Lots of snuggles.  We have had a wonderful weekend together, but we both miss the men in our life and we'll be glad when they get back home tomorrow with lots of details about their weekend adventure.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Busy mid-winter week

January is always usually a pretty productive month for homeschooling at our house.  Co-op takes a break until the end of the month, the weather is usually too cold to go out much and no field trips are planned.  It's a time for new units and consistent days, getting alot done, but there are also the days when we get very little done because it is cold, gray and dreary and no one feels much like getting out from under the blankets.

This week, except for Tuesday, was very busy.  We had a family with five children over on Monday to do some fun group work and start our new Human Body unit.  Four of the children are close to Dakota in age and they worked together around our table and the last little guy is Natalie's age and played nicely with her.  Earlier that morning Dakota and I had gotten our regular work done only by sheer determination.  There was alot in my planner and if we wanted to get all our work done and get a lunch break before our friends arrived, we knew we had to bust our bottoms, and we sure did.  When we did start group time we learned about the brain, the nerves and the senses.  The kids did an art project, did a brain mapping project, listened to a story and learned about the parts of the brain.  They practiced balancing and they learned what good posture was and what part of the brain controlled it.  We talked about the senses and drew some pictures and then played the guessing games with taste and smell.  Magic School Bus:  A Haunted House video about sound waves was the last activity of the day.

Tuesday we decided not to do much at all and we had done enough on Monday to share!  Wednesday was another extremely busy day and then again Thursday not so much.  We are having fun with figurative language and it's encompassing language arts, computer time and math.  We have watched songs, plays and other videos and played computer games about similies, metaphors, synonyms and homynyms, as well as onomonopeia, assimilation and idioms.  We also started reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and, while it's a tough read because of all the nonsense that goes on, Dakota seems to be enjoying it well enough.

Today is always a half day for us because we have swimming lessons a 1/2 hour drive from us.  We did a scaled down version of our morning work, read a chapter of Alice, Dakota did his reading, we did a math lesson, learned about the ear in science and read chapter 9 in Story of the World. That's where we are currently. Then it will be time for swimming, a trip to Cici's for a pizza lunch, dropping Natalie off at her house and stopping at the library.

Tonight Dakota has a game at 6:10 and Brian has a game at 8:00.  Not an opportune set up since Dakota will be finished by 7 and it will be too early to go to Brian's game, but we'll find something to take up our time, I'm sure.  It's a cold one out there today so we'll be bundling up. It's the only thing I hate about basketball season....that long cold walk from the car to the gym where they play!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Somedays you're the windshield...some days you're the bug

Whew!  What a day!  I got up early and got the majority of my work done for my company, was ready when Natalie came and Dakota got up on time with his alarm, but nothing went well after that.  It was just a hectic day.  Dakota was wound up and not focused.  I was wound tight and crabby.  Natalie, thankfully, was pretty normal.  We got started just about on time with Koda reading three stories from his children's Bible and then we got our morning work and science done.  Things started to go down hill with our experiment not working and then we tried math and for some reason Dakota has lost his multiplication tables skill and this gives him stress when it comes to doing his math lessons with multiplication and division.  We really have to start doing flash cards every day again.  He used to be so good at them, but not anymore.

We read some of our Mouse and the Motorcycle, read one of my favorites "Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain" and took our lunch break around 12:30.  Chicken noodle soup and peanut butter crackers for the boys and I had to laugh when I had to eat all the chicken out of Dakota's soup, just like I had to do with Brian David years ago.

More chaos ensued during the lunch break and I was just wanting to get going to get our writing assignment and history done.  Just as we sat down Natalie went off the deep end, the dogs started barking at the FedEx man and Brian David starting blaring his music with enough bass to make the walls tremble.  I am trying very hard to explain a new concept to Dakota and we just looked at each other and laughed.  It was that insane!!  The humor helped diffuse the stress and he actually did a good job using his story map to write a good opening paragraph to his story. After that, we learned about Hammurabi and the Babylonians and did our work to coincide with that unit and then happily called it a homeschool day....except the TV took that time to go wonky, the DVD player for Natalie's movie wouldn't work and Koda came out to tell me that his Xbox wasn't working.  When I went in to fix that, Brian David told me the internet was out.  I swear, I think the stars were aligned in a bad way for me today!

So now it's time for dinner.  I want to get my school stuff started for tomorrow because I know that the more prepared I am in the morning, the more relaxed I am to start my day.  I want to download my next book in my series I am reading onto my Kindle Fire because I find I really do enjoy having it with me where ever I go and reading it on there at night means I don't have to leave the light on.  Brian David is going to a Towson basketball game, which means the music won't be rocking the windows and big Brian and Dakota are going to basketball practice around 7:15 for an hour or so.  I am waiting...just waiting...for a quiet empty house for just a little bit.  I love them all and I don't ever wish for quiet all the time, but an hour or two here and there is surely very welcome.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Feeling Like Home

I have been blessed to be a part of a wonderful church for the last fifteen years or so that has welcomed me and my sons whenever we are there, even though my attendance isn't regular.  I started going there when my oldest son was little and he wanted to go with a friend to the VBS.  We then attended Sunday School on occasion and he even was a part of the youth group for awhile.  We were not regulars by any means, but the welcome was warm, nonetheless.  When that son got older and the little son was coming up I vowed to have him "grow up in the church" but other than mostly regular attendance at Sunday School and an occasional extra activity, we are still only semi-regular members, although our faces are recognized by most. Dakota was baptized there two or three years ago and not long after we got a new pastor and I had the pleasure of meeting him.  My first thought, in all honesty, was "there can't be anyone that nice!"  I thought it was a show....something to reel people in and then he would change and be less than the dynamic man that he is.  Fortunately, I was very wrong.  Our pastor is funny, smart, wise, outgoing, friendly, loving, accepting and witty.  He leads by letting others lead with him.  He  gives out hugs.  He always says hello.  And when he says he is glad to meet you or he is glad you are there, he really, truly means it!  He says he was a firefighter and God called him to this job about eight years ago and I believe him.  While I am sure he made a great fireman, we needed him more at Ferndale United Methodist Church.

This fall I had a crisis in my personal life and I asked to have a private meeting with him.  I will never forget the kindness he showed to me.  He listened mostly, read to me a few passages from the Bible and told me the truth about what he thought after listening.  And then he backed off.  When he saw me he always asked how I was and how things were going.  He waits for me to answer.  I know that if I said "Pastor Mike I need you" that he would drop everything and listen.  I haven't had to do that, but it's nice knowing that he is always there.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to be more of an active member at this church with Dakota. I feel that my son is at a point in his young life where he  is looking to see who he wants to be and what is really important.  I want him to look at the people in this church and at our pastor and relate to them and know that they are good people in a good place.  I want him to feel as if he belongs there and when the world gets to be too much sometimes I want him to feel as if he can go there and find the guidance he needs to make the right choices.

This morning we put of our Ravens gear and headed out to drop him off at Sunday School.  He hadn't been in months due to our family's personal issues and recovery. We were, of course, welcomed with open arms.  As I left, I walked through the sanctuary to get a program and the church was empty, but music was playing and everything was set up for the service and I felt the draw, the little voice in my head saying "you belong here".  I made alot of excuses as I ran my errands.  I had alot to do.  The Ravens game was coming on.  I had PCA work to do.  On and on.  I got to church early to get Dakota and sat in the car reading for a few minutes.  Somehow time got away from me and I realized I was running late to get him.  When I got into the classroom they were gone and I knew I had to pick him up at the sanctuary.  I walked in and he put on his coat and was ready to go and I just couldn't.  I wanted to be there.  I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and I wanted him there with me.  So we stayed.  He wasn't happy at all at first.  He had things to do!  He wanted to play!  He wanted to go to his friends' house!  He was tired!  I stayed calm and told him that this was what I needed to do for me and I wanted to do for him.  And we stayed.

After a few minutes of pouting he came around.  We prayed and we sang.  Pastor Mike called up the children for their time and acted silly and Dakota added a comment that had the congregation laughing.  He went off to children's church and I got to sit among many other Ravens fans and listen to Pastor Mike make us laugh and make us think.  He is wonderful at what he does and I kept feeling this sense of peace that told me I was doing the right thing.  When Dakota came back in we sat together.  We took communion.  We shared looks and smiles.  We prayed together.  Afterward we talked together about meaningful things.  I was impressed by his thought process and the kindness in his heart. He said he was looking forward to being a teenager at this church and being able to help there.  He said he wanted to be a part of that group.  I knew then that I was making a good choice for the two of us.  The best thing he said was "Mom, I know another place that Jesus lives".  I thought he was talking about another church, but no, he pointed to the center of his little eight year old chest and said "Right here.  Jesus lives in my heart".  Yes, Dakota, he does and I promise you that even though you may resist at times, I am going to make sure that you know where Jesus lives and that you are surrounded by the kind people who love you at FUMC.  The world is a difficult place and as a child he is bombarded by alot of information that sends the wrong message.  The very least I can do for him is give him a safe haven from the chaos that the world rains down on us.  I can give him another home where Jesus lives and where we visit often and help to make our lives and the lives of others a better place.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday, which feels like Tuesday

So it's almost the end of our school week and we've actually just begun.  You have to love those holiday shortened weeks!  After finishing up my copies and putting the last touch ups on today's lesson, I hopped in the shower, poured my coffee and greeted my daughter and granddaughter.  I decided to let Dakota sleep until 8:45 because following yesterday's lead, it seems to go well to get him up, dressed right away, fed and started without any laying around time.  This seems to just breed laziness and discontent, so we are going a different way.  Yes, he still complained because he is, after all, Dakota, but by 9:10 he was doing his morning work.  He complained of being cold, which is the truth today...frigid in here even with the heat kicking, so I moved him into the livingroom with a lap tray and a big blanket to do his work in there.  That got him to smile!  Next he looked on his schedule and decided to do his personal reading now because I hadn't made his bed yet and those warm covers in there in addition to his own little heater sure did look inviting :-).  For me, that meant a quick change and snuggle with Natalie, a load of laundry switched and another one in and time to check email and Facebook and search for the alum needed for our air drying clay today.

Somehow the rest of our morning just felt disjointed to me.  We read a few more chapters of The Mouse and the Motorcycle.  We did more math review so that Monday we are ready to dive back into our text.  We watched Wet All Over with the Magic School Bus gang about the water cycle and had lunch.  But somehow, at 12:30, I felt like we had gotten little done and my check off list did not contain many checks.  Whereas yesterday we got everything accomplished, I am thinking that what I had planned to do for today just might last us through today and the half day for tomorrow before swimming. I am just not feeling that surge of accomplishment that I did yesterday and I know that carries right over to Dakota, although he seems to be holding up his end of the bargain so far.

When we finally got back from lunch we did a WATER anacrostic poem and a personification story that needs some work tomorrow.  Dakota is just learning to tackle a story or report that has form and isn't just how he wants to do it.  Then he read Magic School Bus at the Waterworks and we did the the submarine experiment from the MSB kit where we filled the sink with water, sank a can and then using plastic tubing, blew air into the can and watched it rise.  I thought it was beyond simple, but apparently if you give a boy a piece of plastic tubing and a sink of water this is all one needs for many minutes of fun and excitement!

We covered bullying again for health.  I am surprised at how little Dakota knows about it, although he isn't in school so I guess he's not as exposed as other kids his age.  Our neighbor, however, is a first class bully and I am hoping that Dakota realizes this more now and the article that he listened to today not only helped him recognize what bullying is, but gave him tools to deal with it if he sees it happen to someone or else or if it happens to him.

Last today was history.  We read chapter 5 in Story of the World about Sargon and how he conquered all of Mesopotamia.  I discovered a new tool with this curriculum that they offer in the workbook called the Narrative.  It's a simple sentence or two that summarizes the reading and then he is expected to expand on it and retell me the information from the reading.  He needs some prompting, but it helps me to know that he really did hear me and understand what we just read.  He then had to do the comprehension questions, test and word search and he couldn't wait to finish because I had brought out the new Just Dance 4 and the XBox and he knew he was going to get to dance for music today.  Wrestling practice tonight was his PE, so a full day it really was!  Tomorrow is swimming so we have to leave the house at noon.  I think we will finish the SOTW chapter 5 activity making air drying clay and a Sumerian Seal and watching the third MSB water video.  We have a bunch of books on hold at the library so I want to make sure I pick them up on the way home.  I am looking forward to planning our Greek Mythology unit this weekend so we can get started on Monday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Homeschool Year

So today we start the second half of our second grade home school adventure.  I got up early to put up the new bulletin board, lay out all the books and copies, refill the pencil box and put a schedule on the door to help Dakota see what needed to be done.  He got up later than anticipated because I had to go and pick up my daughter and granddaughter when it was realized they had left their car keys in their other car, which was now parked at work with her husband in Virginia.  Thankfully I was an early riser and had all my things together and just let him sleep here with his brother while I ran out and took care of them.

So now it'snot quite 10am and Dakota happily (for the most part) started his work.  He filled out his "What a Year It's Been" highlight paper pretty easily and did a little of his morning work.  Then he chose to go and do his independent reading, The Big Show...a wrestling level 3 book my sister in law sent him for Christmas.  A schedule on the door helps him to see what he needs to do and if he's burned out on something, he knows he can choose another subject and come back and complete the task at hand later.  He can check off what's done and this helps him know what's left and how to budget his time.

We worked on a Scholastic News about bullying and did a main context worksheet.  The Scholastic News is actually a Social Studies activity, the the conversation that we ended up having about what bullying is, why it's wrong and what to do if it happens worked in nicely for a health lesson following our previous personality and character traits unit.

He decided to dabble in his morning work, so he went in and did his handwriting and his reading comprehension book workbooks and then decided to do art and music.  We made a large number template on tagboard of 2013 and he used different mediums to cover them with (glitter appliques, colored sand, yarn pieces and buttons) and we hung them on the bulletin board.  All the while we were listening to some of the top 25 country music songs of 2012 and singing along.

We did some more resolution writing and hung them on our board and then did some New Year's math worksheets and a timed test on the three tables in multiplication.  Rounding out the morning before lunch was a rousing game of Math War in which Dakota won by two cards :-)  More peaceful that way!

After lunch we settled in for our new literature studies where I will be reading good family oriented books to Dakota and all he is required to do is listen and enjoy.  I chose The Mouse and the Motorcycle for our first one because I know he likes that story and it isn't terribly long.  I want to read Charlotte's Web, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz and others.  It's a great winter activity on cold afternoons with a warm blanket and some popcorn. 

To wrap up the afternoon we needed to do science and history.  For science we started a unit on water.  We talked about all the things we need water for, the earth needs water for and what we do for fun that involves water.  Then he wrote a paragraph telling about three things you need water to do, illustrated it and we watched The Magic School Bus:  Ups and Downs video.  Following that we did the floats and sinks experiment from the MSB kit we have and did an alphabetizing worksheet on water related words.  History included a rereading of Egyptian Pyramids, a narrative sentence to talk about Cheops and the Great Pyramid and then we will finish by making a Duplo or Legos.  It's been a long day, but we are back on track and we got some fun things done.  Dakota will complain no matter what, but he mostly seemed to enjoy the activities and hopefully he'll be ready for another productive day of homechooling.