Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Getting it done!

Yesterday was a very busy homeschool day.  We got alot of work done and accomplished so much!  We wrapped up our second system of the human body by making a Circulation Wheel and coloring the blood red or blue depending on whether it was full of oxygen or depleted.  In Story of the World we began Ancient Africa, which looks to be fun with all the projects to do for this unit like paper beads and musical instruments.  I am hoping to find some kind of food that we can make too that Dakota will actually eat.  We have a short day today and I have to help a friend tomorrow so he will be doing some independent work and then Friday is our 100 days celebration so I supposed the fun stuff will be waiting til next Tuesday, but I am excited about it.

Dakota started reading our Little Golden Books Disney classics and began with Peter Pan.  He also read more of his Kindle book about Walt Disney World and played a little MathBlasters.  We did a regular math unit, did a spelling unit, put on some Disney music and danced and sang and acted goofy for awhile.  He finished his Chinese New Year papers and then did Zodiac Calligraphy and Red Envelope Glitter Painting. He loves anything to do with painting!  His BrainPopJr movie and quiz counted as history since it was about Harriet Tubman and we are wrapping up our Black History month.

Today is a short day for us since we have a special treat, meeting friends at Chuck E. Cheese at noon.  Co-op was canceled so Dakota was asked to do his afternoon work scheduled for today independently this morning before we leave and he's been working for about 30 minutes now.  He has a Magic School Bus video to watch "Going Cellular" as we introduce our new mini unit on cells, a book on the heart, blood and cells to read, Little Golden Books Alice in Wonderland and a Berenstain Bears book.  He has a review lesson to do in Math, his spelling words that he got wrong to write 2x each and use in a sentence and that's it.  Off we go!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chinese New Year Fun

Yesterday we went for a swim test at the Y in the morning, picked up some Disney music cd's and then headed to the house to get ready for our friends to arrive for our Chinese New Year celebration.  The family arrived bringing friends who are 8, 7, 6 and 4, along with the baby, who is Natalie's age.  We enjoyed a carry out Chinese lunch to kick things off and then sent the little balls of energy out to the trampoline for 30 minutes to get rid of their wiggles...well, most of them :-)  When then came back in we did a coloring page of two Chinese children, did a mapping exercise on China from and then read a book on Chinese New Year traditions.  We made a zodiac wheel and talked about which animal each of the children were and then talked about it being the Year of the Snake before making paper chain snakes with googly eyes and party blower tongues.  Big Hit!!  We opened fortune cookies and read our fortunes and then played with tanagram pieces, another huge hit.  Then we turned them loose again on the trampoline for still more energy depletion!

It's really fun for Dakota and I to have another family to homeschool with every few weeks.  Celebrations are just not as much fun without friends and it sure is nice for me to have another adult to talk to and bounce things off of.  Next week we are going to do Dr. Seuss and then Women's History month and then St. Patrick's Day. I'm hoping to do another treasure hunt for Dakota this year and I am sure they would enjoy it as well.

This morning, after doing a good cleaning of his room, Dakota is finishing up his Chinese New Year worksheets with ABC order and number writing, using a thin paintbrush to copy the Chinese symbol for his zodiac sign, the monkey and reading The Five Chinese Brothers in addition to his other morning work.  Teaching him to begin his day on his own frees up so much time for me to be able to get my own morning work done, print out papers for our homeschool day, get Natalie down for a nap and do the laundry or whatever chores need to be done.  I am thinking we are going to be working alot from our recliners again today.  It feels good in them and we are both relaxed.  These are the homeschooling days he will remember.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A New Little Life

Today I found out that my oldest daughter is going to be giving me my second grandchild :-)  She came early to get my granddaughter and handed me a frappe and a card.  When I opened the card, there was a picture of a tiny bean nestled snuggly in her womb.  I felt my belly do a little flip as the recognition hit...I am going to be a grandmom again!  Lots of thoughts bombarded me....where will we put the new baby when we are fresh out of bedrooms for nurseries?  How will I be able to watch an infant, a toddler and a pre-tween and not pull my hair out?  What?  When?  Why?  How?  Then the peace settled in and I realized that it didn't matter...none of it. We will find room.  I will find a way.  All that is important is that there is a new little life forming and a new little family member will be joining our brood this October.  My daughter and her husband have jobs, a nice house, THEY are the ones who need an extra bedroom and they have one!  during her first pregnancy she and her husband were living in North Carolina and I missed so much.  This time I am not going to miss a thing and if that little bean is anything like his/her big sister, or even if he/she is incredibly different, my heart is in for another long slow dive.  Being a grandparent is one of the best things I have ever had happen in my life and I can't wait to meet my new granddaughter or grandson.  Congratulations Kris, Brian and my sweet, sweet Natalie Ann.  You are a wonderful family.  WE are a wonderful extended family.  This baby will be welcomed with all the love and affection that we all share for each other.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Going to Disney!!

Disney World....there is just no place better to be if you ask me.  It's a place that can bring me to tears when I arrive and take that first walk down Main Street.  I went when I was 10.  Took my three older kids in 1995, again around 2000 and again in 2005, when baby Dakota was only 10 months old.  February was perfect for the lack of crowds, May was hot, but beautiful and great for swimming and July....never again. Every five years.  I lived for it.  I dreamed of it.  I couldn't even watch the commercials in TV because I wanted to go back so bad it made my heart ache.  Literally.

Eight year old Dakota has been begging to go to Disney.  He doesn't remember ever going, considering he was only 10 months old when he did.  It has been 8 years since we were there....and I couldn't even really discuss it.  My husband is done with Disney...says he's been there three times and he has no need to go back...but he has realized recently, with the Ravens going to the playoffs and Super Bowl I think, how our feelings compare to his when it's a dream and a passion.  No matter how many times I have been, I want to go more.  I am almost 50.  I want to go as many times as I can while I am able to.  It never gets old for me.  I want to show everything to Dakota and in two years, I want to show everything to my granddaughter, who will be four by that time.  Children are my passion to, especially my own, and I can think of nothing better than sharing Disney World with them.

So this April, Dakota and I are going.  My husband and older son went to New England for the playoffs and Dakota and I are going to Disney.  43 more days :-).  I can think of little else.  I am reading up on everything, seeing what's new and the best way to get the most from every minute.  I will be a Disney expert when I arrive and I plan to capture each moment in my memory, storing it away for those long months in between visits when my heart will be at Disney, but my body will be in Maryland.

43 days.  Wow!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Presidents Day

Yesterday was Presidents Day and since we hadn't done much by way of homeschooling for the past three weeks I decided that we would be working until lunch time or until Dakota got his work done.  Everything was focused on Washington and Lincoln.  There were books to read, a Mt. Rushmore craft using the presidents' heads on coins, silhouettes, School Express packets, probability math with pennies and some easy writing/word game pages.  We, as a family, get alot done and I know that if Dakota applied himself he could have that work done in 2 hours.  Three and a half hours later, he finally wrapped up most of it in between fits and spurts of crying and carrying on about how unfair life was because it was a holiday and his friends were off school.  I tried to talk to him about how his friends probably thought it was unfair that he got to play legos and watch movies alot over the past three weeks due to his dad's injury, but he just couldn't see it that way.  Of course, in his eight year old mind, that is completely true.

This morning we finished the Venn diagram and biopoem that we had yesterday and then went into the livingroom to do some of our work.  It was cold and damp outside and dreary inside...the kind of day when you just want to get under the blankets.  I had the idea to pull the two recliners together, snuggle under our blankets and do all our work in there.  I got all our books and papers together, gave Dakota a clip board and away we went.  I was very impressed at how smoothly things went!  We ended up getting our entire day's work done by 12:30, had lunch and then had time to watch Ice Age, a suggested extended activity for our Magic Tree House book, Sunset of the Sabertooths.  I don't know that "recliner school" is something we could do every day, but today, it sure was nice.  I can see a few more of them in our future before springtime has us heading out to the deck to enjoy the sunshine.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Back to Normal

The last three weeks have been anything but normal here.  My husband has been off work due to two herniated discs and was bedridden and in intense pain for two of those weeks.  Our homeschooling has taken a hit and our family life has been all about snuggling under covers with dad, watching movies, going to the doctors, more snuggling under covers, lots of food, ice cream every night...  It was actually very much in sync with the cold February weather and has made for a lazy, relaxing time.

Dad is better now....and while I am very grateful for his restored health, I am a bit sad that after today I won't have any more excuses for mid day snuggles and movies and saying "family first, so no school today".  I miss our routine, but I will also miss our lack of structure.  I am thankful that I am a stay at home mom and that my son is homeschooled so we could be there for my husband without missing time or assignments and that tomorrow means a return of work for him.  I realize that I am blessed to be able to return to my work here at home, with my son by my side, still warm and cozy.  Homeschooling and homemaking are not something to be taken for granted and I know this. While I work from home and educating my son and keeping our home are work, as well, I am fully aware that my husband's job, his work ethic and his love for us allow me to be able to do these things, which I so love.  I have things in this world I may have liked to have tried.  I always wanted to be a teacher and have my own classroom.  I enjoyed my time working at a hospital years ago.  But I know in my heart and soul that I am not a career woman.  I belong at home.  I have been called Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart.  I embrace those comparisons.  All of the things that I do at home and have been doing for the past 28 years are what makes me who I am and I am happy being me.

So come on tomorrow.  I think I am ready.  Let routine and structure return.  I know my husband will enjoy being back at work and feeling productive and seeing his collegues and I will surely enjoy my own routine of homemaking and homeschooling.  As my husband says "that's the way we roll" and there are far worse ways to live your life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Benjamin Banneker Day

Today we continued our studies on Black History Month and learned about the inventor/scientist Benjamin Banneker.  We read a short biography on him that came with a cloze activity from and talked about what it meant to be a slave and what it meant to be a free black man during the colonial time period.  Benjamin Banneker was known for his work in astronomy, for making a working wooden model of a clock that kept perfect time for 50 years, for his work in mathematics and for his almanac.  Dakota thought that the idea of writing the facts you have discovered in a book and asked for a new spiral notebook, on the front of which he wrote in big letters, Dakota's Almanac.  Then he went back to the chapter we read in Story of the World and pulled a few facts from there to start his book.  He enjoyed the chapter we did today on the Shang Dynasty and made some really interesting pictographs of his own.  Math went off without a hitch, as did literature and language arts. The only thing we didn't manage to get in was science.

This afternoon we met a few friends at the Benjamin Banneker Park and Museum in Oella, MD. This little gem is only about 15 minutes from our house and I have wanted to stop in for years.  When we arrived, we found many handouts and the lady behind the desk was more than happy to speak with us, put on an 11 minute video and show us around the grounds.  She took us to a little wooden house that was a replica of the house that burned down on the day Benjamin Banneker was buried.  Artifacts and the foundation from the house were discovered and they did a nice job with the re-creation.  The kids enjoyed seeing the root cellar, the ropes under the bed mattress that had to be pulled tight each morning and, therefore, the saying came about to "sleep tight" and the parts of musical instruments from the time period.  We got to see more artifacts and actual pages from his almanac inside, along with a quilt depicting all of the Banneker family interests.  We were only there a little over an hour, but it turned out to be a great educational field trip and Dakota told me how much he enjoyed it. Best of all, they are willing to do programs for us in the future.

To wrap up a very nice school day, we met up with our daughter when she came to pick up my granddaughter and had Sorrento's pizza and french fries with gravy.  I wish all our homeschooling days went as smoothly and were met with such approval from my "not always agreeable" eight year old.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Baltimore's Pride and Joy

My son asked me to write a blog about the Baltimore Ravens and so, my favorite nineteen year old son, this one is for you! (If I get any facts wrong, I am sure you will correct me and I will edit :-)

My husband and two sons are huge Baltimore Ravens football fans.  They watch every game, go to almost every home game and wear their purple and black proud.  Last year our Ravens went to the divisional championship game in Foxsboro and we made the trek as a family, getting to spend the weekend in Boston, seeing some snow and then the guys painted their faces purple, put on their Ravens bling and headed out in freezing cold weather to watch our boys take on Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Last year we came up short.  This year was something quite different.  We lost 4 of our last 5 regular season games, but still slid into the playoffs, hearing from our superstar and hero, Ray Lewis, that this would be his last ride...he was retiring.  The magic began.  We had to win this one for Ray!  His squirrel dance was being done throughout the state.  His name was on everyone's lips.  His face was plastered on every shirt, billboard and web page.  We would do this one for Ray!

We won our first game against the Colts then had to take on Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos.  We were the underdogs going in, but our boys stomped over the quarterback legend and marched back into Foxsboro to take on Tom Brady once again. My Brians went to this one on a bus trip and Dakota and I watched from my brother in laws here in Maryland.  Once again, we were underdogs.  Watching the Patriot's quarterback struggle and look like he wanted to cry was a high point in Baltimore football.  And yes, once again, we trounced all over another elite quarterback, winning the division and....wait for it comes....sending us to  Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans!  Ray Lewis was on everyone's tv screen, praising God and crying tears of joy.  The city rallied around him.  The fever was high.  How could Ray's last ride end with anything but a win? And, to add to the fun, the brothers Harbaugh would be coaching on opposite sides...gorgeous John for us and our quarterback of the past, brother Jim, for the San Francisco 49er's.  The media was in a frenzy.  So much to report!  The brothers would remain true to each other and a class act throughout and the nation came together to watch the Harbaugh family face the ultimate football challenge.

Sunday was long awaited here in Baltimore and the city was awash with purple lights. People everywhere donned their purple gear and the city was on a high, waiting for their beloved Ravens to play.  Unfortunately, since my husband has a herniated disc and is fairly immobile at this time, we had to miss the party at my brother in laws, but we were together, here at home and my three boys and I watched a spectacular game together, cheering when we led 28 to 6 at the half.  After a fabulous half time show by Beyonce where we had to roll up my son's tongue and stuff it back in his mouth ;-) we came back out and began the second half.  Seconds later half the SuperDome went black...... While we waited for light to be restored the commentators went on and on about how this was going to change the momentum of the game, so when play resumed and the 49er's staged a comeback, the blame went to the shift in momentum, however, I always believed they would stage a comeback regardless.  They are too good to just lay down.

In the end, we won 34-31 and it came down to the last seconds, as a good game should.  Purple and white confetti rained down, Ray Lewis's smile could have lit the stadium itself if the lights had gone back out and Joe Flacco was named Player of the Game and the right to be called an elite quarterback.  My guys were ecstatic, of course, and ran outside (the boys, not dad lol) screaming and waving flags and hooting and hollering.  I am so happy for them.

Yesterday was the big parade downtown.  Over 200, 000 people lined the streets and filled the stadium to greet the players.  Coverage was nationwide on tv, where big Brian and I watched, and Kris supervised the boys downtown.  Brian David was able to get right in the middle of the action at the stadium and Kris and Koda ended up getting really lucky and being second in line to see the parade go by and Koda got to high five Joe Flacco.  All was right with the world lol.  Now we are reigning Super Bowl champions for a year and we have bragging rights against all others.  Congratulations Baltimore Ravens and to my three boys, I love you and I am so happy you got to have this experience!

Friday, February 1, 2013

When Life Throws You a Curve

This has been a very trying week here at our house.  My husband hurt his back on Sunday and he's been immobile since then, in too much pain to get to the doctor before Wednesday, when we found out he has a herniated disc.  Thankfully we were able to get him on stronger pain medication and muscle relaxers to decrease his discomfort, but the healing has to take time and it's very difficult to see my strong, active husband down and out.

Our homeschooling has taken a hit this week too, but I know that these are the reasons we that when a family crisis arises, we are able to be there for the ones we love.  We have gotten in some reading and math every day except today, a science experiment, history and language arts Tuesday and yesterday and on Wednesday he had art and music appreciation and activities at co-op.  That will have to do. Today we are caring for a friend's children while she has a medical procedure.  Again, being here for friends is high on the list of why we do what we do.

I am beginning to feel the stress of my husband's pain today.  I wish I could wave my magic wand and heal him.  I am just hoping that he steadily improves every day and that next week at this time he is back on his feet and being his normal, agitating self.  Until then, I will be here for him and take care of him in any way I can.  I am hoping for a smooth homeschooling week next week, but I guess time will tell.