Monday, September 1, 2014

Something New

The bigger girls have been involved in gymnastics and ballet in the past.  One of our dear girls has had the misfortune of inheriting my sense of grace, and neither of these early attempts at helping in that department have been so enjoyable that she wished to pursue them further.
I've known about American Heritage girls since before we had children.  We had a friend from church in Northern Kentucky who was a troop leader.  I've thought about it as a possible activity for the girls, but there were always involved in something else.  This year Katie decided she wanted to join first.  She's been very interested in doing many different activities and wanted to sign up for everything.  We decided to have her take ownership of her activity, so she now has to work to pay a portion of any activity she chooses (and we agree to).  She's proud of herself for meeting the deadline.  We're also hoping that this will give her some lasting friendships, instead of some of those that pass so quickly as they move from one activity to the next. They can stay with their troop, moving up levels, through high school.

Gabby had chosen to go back to gymnastics this year, but in hearing what Kate was going to get to do, she changed her mind at the last minute.  Now we have a Tenderheart and an Explorer in our home.  They are very excited bout earning badges.

We're hoping that they learn some great skills, make wonderful friends, and have many fond memories!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Funnies

K: "Don't forget those things that hold the words when someone says them!"

Me: "Quotation marks?"

K: "Yeah!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Day of Art

Justin had a ridiculously busy summer.  I think he took 7 days off--five to build the swing set and 2 when we had company from out of town, as a professor on a 10 month contract, that's not much time off!  We had been meaning to visit the Parthenon in Nashville, but had never made it happen.  After a long evening at work one day recently, we stole him away for a short trip the next morning before he headed in to his office.

I was the only one who had been there before.  It was the early '90's when I was there with my family.  I did recognize some of the paintings that are permanently displayed in the gallery.  They were spackling the middle section, so I assume that they are in the processes of changing a borrowed collection out.

The kiddos looked somewhat patiently.  Kate was very good at pointing out impressionistic pieces, which was fun.  We talked about portraits, landscapes, and still lives.  Then we went upstairs to the main attraction of the museum.  Kate was probably the most impressed by Athena.  The last time I saw the statue, she was not yet gilded or painted.

Things 1, 2, and 3 looking at Athena, with Nike, and her shield with Medusa's head

Ellie and I were there too.  She did really well, didn't fuss once!  She's been such a portable little girl, which is a great blessing, having older siblings.

Then we saw the plaster statues made from the casts of the original sculptures of the pediments in Greece.  The older girls were quite put off that they were missing heads and arms.  We showed the the recreations that had been made with all the parts intact to show how they had once been formed.  Kate told me that it was much better that someone had made the parts and they had just been lost through the course of time.  Funny, I always thought it is sad that someone's work has been lost or damaged, but she sees it more as a sadness that they wouldn't have ever been finished.

We came home and worked on an art project based on an impressioninst, Claude Monet, who we've been studying.

Gabby and Katie are tearing tissue paper to make the water.

 Nate's completed project

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eleven Months!

We only have one month of 'baby' left at our house!  Sometimes looking at Elliana it is hard to believe that this active little one was every that teeny baby we brought home eleven months ago.

Here's what she's been up to lately:

 rocking in her great-grandfather's rocking chair,

 taking a nap with Daddy,

being dressed in Katie's Halloween costume from 2006 (Pebbles Flintstone),

taking her first wagon ride (with lots of helpers),

playing dress-up with her sisters,

 showing us the 'right' way to use a car seat,

 hanging out with the other kiddos,

looking awfully grown up in PJs without feet,

 sleeping through the night (!),

bathing in her food,

and eating her bath.

We love you Ellie-Bellie!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Funny

Me: I love you buddy.

Nate: I like you too.

Me: Why do you do that?

Nate [grinning]: Do what?

Me:Tell me you like me when I say, "I love you."

Nate: I guess, 'cause you make my best, favorite stuff.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I have been re-reading books as the kids are getting older: books that have been sitting on my shelves since I was a girl, or ones I picked up in college, or that I chose to put in my classroom, or even ones that I borrowed from the library in ages past.  It is odd how differently I see some of the stories now.  Even the books I read when Kate was a little bitty thing are different.  I see the things I would like to hide from the children, of course, the death, the saddness, but the characters I relate to have changed as well.

Once upon a time, I saw myself in Anne and Diana in the L.M. Montgomery's books, now I see Kate as Anne.  Oh, I see so much Anne in Kate!  I see some of Jo March in her too.  I have moved on to Marilla and Marmee.  I left behind even Professor McGonagall for Molly Weasley.  Of course Molly is younger than the professor, but instead of being the teacher, I am the mama of many.

So, as I go back to visit these old friends, whose stories I have known, I find that while they have stayed the same, I have not.  I see the mothers and care takers, as they struggle to raise the children in their care--and that's where I am these days.  At least there are still some nice characters to relate to, we'll just hope I don't turn in to some of the grumpy, nosy, gossipy old women in their pages by the time I return to them again!

Do you have books that your view has changed of as you have grown?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School Books '14

I can't believe how quickly the children are growing, but here we are with Kate in fourth grade and Gabby in second!

We are sticking with Noeo for science this year and we have reached the fourth (and final) volume of Story of the World.  In those subjects we are studying physics, which is phun, of course.  Sorry.  I couldn't help myself!  I don't buy the labs they recommend, but I did get both a magnet set and an electronics kit to do for labs instead.  In history we'll be studying modern history--in the first couple of chapters we've seen the re-opening of Japan to the west and the Crimean war.  We'll finally get to the Vietnam War, which I've never actually studied, since we never finished the text book when I was growing up.  That was not too terribly before my time, so getting much further on is somewhat like current events for me.  If you have a younger child tagging along in Story of the World, the activity book for the fourth volume we found requires assistance, as it moved from coloring pictures to writing outlines and figuring out what to label on the map with clues from the text, rather than the straightforward color the Mediterranean blue or trace the path from England to the New World of the previous volumes.

I am trying something different with our scheduling this year.  Rather than try to do science everyday or rotate between history and science every other day, as I've tried in the past, we are going to do history for a month or possibly even a quarter and then switch to science.  It will help us focus read alouds to one subject and I'll only have to keep ahead in one subject at a time to be sure we have needed books and supplies.  I may dislike it after awhile and switch back, but we're going to give it a go for now.

We took a year off from Latin last year, with the new baby, but to our benefit, the Latin program we used before, Song School, published a new volume, so we're going on with them this year.  It looks to teach some grammar in conjunction with the vocab, so I'm looking forward to learning that with the kids, since many of the words make sense to me, but I have no idea what the introductory college text I bought meant by declension!

The girls are both sticking with Singapore Mathematics for one more year.  Kate will move on after this year!  I've ordered her books 4B and 5A (she's finishing 4A now), which she may not quite get through before she moves on.  Next year there will be some big changes with her finishing one math curriculum and her history books and moving to a new challenge!

Gabby will continue with Writing with Ease.  I am also working with her in English for the Thoughtful Child.  I purchased it for Kate when she was too young to use it.  It had been pushed aside, but it fits Gabby well.

I moved Kate to Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  By the end of the third Writing with Ease book, it seemed too redundant for us, so I wanted something different.  She loves books, so this teaches many English skills through a book that the child reads concurrently.  The only downside for Kate is that it only uses 4 texts through out the year, when she could easily do more.  She keeps her library card busy to supplement though!

Both girls have been moved to Sequential Spelling this year.  Kate wasn't enjoying Spelling Power at all and she was often frustrated.  This had the added draw that all students begin at the beginning, so I could read the girls words together.  Kate has some competition, which is good for her.  We are still convincing Gabby that she's two years younger and should need a bit more help along the way.

In the mornings we do memory work.  Part of that is our vocabulary program, English from the Roots Up.  The girls seem so enjoy it, and it is very clear that the roots they learn now will be helpful in decoding new words for years to come.  We are also memorizing state capitals and the U.S. Presidents this year with fun books (Yo, Sacramento & Yo, Millard Fillmore).  This time is also used to practice multiplication tables (skip counting) and learn character lessons through We Choose Virtues.

Kate is back in Handwriting Without Tears.  She's also planning to join American Heritage Girls this fall as well, which I'm sure will teach her many great things as well.

As for Nate, when he asks to 'do' school we have a Big Preschool workbook, a Neighborhood Helpers coloring book, a Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book (and the rods), and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  We waited until Gabby was in kindergarten to start the 100 Easy Lessons, but, as Nate will be five this fall, but not begin school for another year, we let him do lessons as he is interested, but we don't push it at all yet.  I'm of the mind that children should be allowed to play unhampered as long as possible, but especially with where his birthday falls, I'll gladly let Nate do small snippets of school as he wishes.