Monday, January 23, 2012

CC Cycle 3 Week 16

I didn't really do anything outstanding last week.  We just did work.  We ended up flipping our Monday to the afternoon so that I could help my mom out with something at work and just never recovered.  CC went well, although I spent the entire time (practically) at a meet up for my website.  We had a playmate with some CC friends, and by this weekend, everyone was a little under the weather, so we were just off all around.

This week, I'm doing better.

History- Immigrants coming to America: we're going to read several supplemental books and talk about the people in our family and how they came to immigrate to America.  We'll be listening to story of the world (of course) over lunchtime and we're going to start and finish our history review lap book (we can go faster on this one because the kids are all very confident in their history).  The boys will finish up their projects on American Inventors and present them at CC this week for our family's presentation time at opening.

Latin- We'll add 2 more components to our Latin lap book and work on our sign language and Latin verse memorization.  I think for next year I want to add an actual Latin curriculum, but I want to find other people that have done that to see if it's worthwhile.

English- Irregular Verb Tenses- To Shake.  Austin gave me a shake weight for Christmas! That'll be fun! I'm also thinking we're going to make butter in a mason jar.  Shake, shake, shake! Then we'll write about it.  "We decided to make butter.  To make butter, you need to shake cream in a jar.  First, Riley shook the jar.  While Riley was shaking the jar, Logan watched.  After Logan's turn, the cream was well shaken.  It was butter!" or something like that.  Riley's finished all the worksheets I have on irregular verbs and he's gotten 100s on all of them, so I feel like we're good here.  We'll also press on with our IEW work.  Riley will have actual spelling words, because while the spelling work we do is fantastic and teaching him the right process, it's also taking forever and if he spells "because" wrong one more time I'm going to lose it.

Science- Elements of the Periodic Table.  Right.  So, In a fit of crazy, I decided I would make my own coloring book for the elements, since the one I found was very pricey.  (I know no one reads this, but if anyone wants a copy, just email me!) I made the pages small so we can cut them out and put them on the wall in the kitchen "Periodic Table" style.  We're also having our first science club this week and I'll be teaching on conversion of elements.  Should be fun!!  Also....
If your elements are not the very model of a modern major general, then you're clearly doing it wrong.  All wrong.

Math- just keep swimming! Riley's going to finish book 2A around the end of January (note to self: order 2B) and is doing fantastic with more and more complex multiplication and division.  It was a welcome change as he was getting bored and lazy with subtraction and addition.  Logan is also plugging along and his work has come back to being more number intensive, which is good because I didn't love the lack of numbers the last few chapters.  Also, our memory work for this week is PiR2 (Pi r squared) and that really calls for the making of a pie!! I haven't picked a flavor yet, maybe apple? But definitely a pie.

Geography- Bays.  Hoping to do a watershed experiment and make some boats! I'd also like to see if I can find a field trip that doesn't require $25 a kid with a 25 kid minimum.

So....that's the plan :) I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, January 13, 2012

How Did I Let it Get This Bad?

Before I became pregnant, I was put on steroids for my skin and gained 15 pounds. When I was pregnant with Riley I gained 85 the last 3 months.  At 7 months I'd gotten bigger, but just stole size 12 pants from friends.  At the end I was borderline for gestational diabetes and couldn't stop gaining weight.  Then, with a new baby with colic and classes and stress I think I just kept eating.  I lost weight, but not all of it, leaving me already 45 pounds heavier when I got pregnant with Logan.  With Logan I gained 30 pounds and lost only 20.  With Savannah, I gained only 18 and lost 15.  However, this means that I am currently 73 pounds heavier than I would like to be, which isn't even my ideal weight according to the charts! (I was my "ideal" weight for my height when I was competitively skating, but it involved me eating an apple and diet coke all day and half my dinner at night, running and skating several hours a day, so I don't really consider that "ideal".)

That's a freaking gymnast!

Running the other day, I was trying to push myself to go "faster" which for me meant my mile times were under 12 minutes.

I used to run 8 minute miles without trying.

How did I let it get this bad?

I know that I had serious postpartum depression, and depression period, and that I love to cook and that working out isn't exactly easy with 3 little people, 2 of whom I had while still in college, but still.

73 pounds? 12 minute "fast" miles?

I have roughly 2 years left before I turn 30.  It would be so nice to look in the mirror and not want to cry every day and to not hide from pictures.  But at the same time, it's such a daunting thing!! And, it's hard!! Hopefully I can keep my momentum up, because when I think about the numbers for too long, it just seems like an impossible dream.

Monday, January 9, 2012

This Week....

I'm starting a diet/detox this week that involves no gluten, no sugar, and no dairy.


I haven't felt healthy in several months (years) and I'm also going to make a point of going to the doctor to get the testing done for my thyroid and gall bladder that haven't been completed and absolutely have to.

This week food will be different for me and the kids, which is weird, but how it's going to be.

Breakfasts- Momma: Fruit or Green smoothies, apple/banana/strawberry fruit salad, egg whites with salsa
                 Kiddos: cream of wheat with bananas, cereal, fruit salad, scrambled eggs with cheese and toast

Lunches- Momma: Gluten-Free Toast with avocado and tomato, 1/2 sweet potato with chicken, kale salad, leftovers
               Kiddos: pbj, chicken salad sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, leftover spaghetti and meatballs

Monday- Crock Pot Roast Chicken, Cooked Carrots, green salad, mashed (kids) or baked (me) potato
Tuesday- Vegetable stir fry with quinoa
Wednesday- Chicken and Dumplings (kids) Chicken vegetable soup (me)
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Red Beans and Rice, Sauteed Kale with Garlic
Saturday- Out
Sunday- London broil with roast cauliflower, green beans with shallots and garlic, and all fruit sorbet

This weekend I'm also going to be taking advantage of some after-Christmas sales and putting some spiral-sliced ham in 1 pound containers to freeze for lunches, as well as roasting 3 Turkey breasts to slice on my mom's deli slicer for the same purpose.  Lunchmeat this week is $7 a pound, which lasts our family about 1 lunch.  I can get ham this week for $1.10 a pound or Turkey for $1.25 a pound, so if I'm not lazy, I'll save almost $6 a pound, and have something that doesn't have all the added sodium or nitrites the regular deli meat does.  (And I should have enough for a few months!)  That also means I'll be making stock from the turkey and split pea soup from the ham. Yum!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Life Looks Like

Someone asked me what life looks like as a "crazy homeschooler" the other I thought I'd share a few "perspective" pictures.  Most of my day is the same- get up, get dressed, get everyone else up and dressed, breakfast, clean up, lunch, clean up, errands, sports, scouts, dinner, clean up, but in the mornings instead of the precious, precious alone time I used to love, I do this:
Warmup, math, English, memory work, grammar, Latin, spelling, geography, history and some light facebook/blogging happen at the table after we do our Bible study for the day.  Savannah works puzzles or Montessori centers when she's not at preschool.  
Whoever finishes their first chunk of morning work first does their reading with me first.  Riley is getting really heavy to sit on my lap, but I know he won't curl up to read on me for long, so I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Then Riley will go work on a pet project (usually Story of the World) or review, and Logan will switch in to read to me from Teach Your Child  to Read.
A little free time while I make lunch.  Savannah likes a good game of Go-Fish, and her brothers usually choose Legos or a science experiment.
During lunch I read aloud from whatever our current book is.  It doesn't take us long to finish them! I didn't realize how much reading I would be doing taking a classical approach.  There's usually a book or two for each subject and our "pleasure" read.  This week was the BFG. Schnozcumbers, anyone?
If I do it right, Savannah falls asleep while I'm reading, which makes the afternoon go a little quicker.
We finish up with unit studies, like our current Chemistry unit, and then we do our memory work one more time.  We're typically done between 1 and 2, which leaves time for things like Art classes, hiking, resting, more reading, etc, before our friends get out of school. 

Classical Conversations, Cycle 3 Week 13

I missed the rhythm of our regular school days! I thought I was greatly enjoying our break, but getting back into the "swing" of things, I'm seeing that we all missed that order to our lives.

Here's what we did this week:
-History Sentence: "In 1868 the 14th Amendment made all former slaves US citizens and paved the way for the civil rights movement"
              *Memory work using the CC song
              *Read the 14th Amendment and a little explanation of it
              *Talked about "separate but equal" and read about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
              *Did some pretend play with candy where people wearing blue (just momma) got to have truffles.
               People not wearing blue were offered butter mints.  We both got candy! What's the big deal?
              *Visited the Frederick Douglass House in DC to talk about abolitionists and the civil rights movement. A
                word of caution, this house is in a rather, sketchy, part of town, but we had no issues.  Additionally, the
                movie they show is very well done, but does feature a rather graphic whipping scene near the
                beginning.  My kids actually really needed that to understand the severity of slavery.  Reading about it
                and seeing it are very different at this age.

-Irregular Verb Tenses: To Beat
               *Riley's Grammar: Grades 1-2 actually had a few worksheets on Irregular verbs, which was nice
               *We made scrambled eggs.  We need to beat the eggs, Riley beats the eggs with a whisk, Logan beat the
                 eggs, I am beating the eggs, The eggs are well beaten.
               *I refuse to sing on the internet, but I did make the verb tenses fit to the chorus of "Beat It" by Michael
                Jackson.  Yes, I'm that much of a nerd.  "Just beat it! Beat it! To beat, beat, beats, beat, beating,

-Math Sentence: The Area of a Rectangle is equal to Length time Width
                *We made rectangles with our cubes (always 1 wide by some number long) at CC, Logan's tutor
                  allowed them to draw rectangles on the floor using washable markers on the linoleum, which they
                  always love!!

-Science: The atomic number is the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom, which is also the number of electrons in a neutral atom.
                 *We made a copywork/candy replica of an atom with green (protons), white (neutrons), and blue
                   (electrons) candy.

-Latin: "et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum."
                 *Still just sign language and repetition, but it's working!
                 *The Latin review lapbook? Huge win! The kids love it and think it's a craft!

-Geography: Western Mountains (Rocky Mountains, Pike's Peak, Sierra Nevadas, Mt. Whitney, Mt. Elbert)
                  *Hand signs: arms up (make a W) and then together (like a mountain) for Western Mountains.  We
                   did a "rocky ride" pretending to ride a horse over the "rocky" mountains.  Then for Pike's Peak we
                   peeked through our fingers.  We put our hands up to "see" into the distance for "See-era" Nevadas,
                   Mount Whitney was just like Western Mountains, but in reverse, and for Mount Elbert, we did our
                   elbow.  Yup.  It's that easy. ;)      
                  *We located the features on a map.  I'm not really pushing for the kids to completely memorize the
                    locations at this point, I'm happy for them to generally know they're "in the west" and have an idea.
                   *Does a hike (albeit short) count as geography? The kids insisted on calling things "islands",
                     "ishthmus" and "gorge" when we got's just a smaller scale...

Everything else....
Logan is officially on Kindergarten B Singapore Math.  I still think it's wicked easy, but every once in a while there's a concept that he actually needed.  (For example, his last unit was on "more/less" and "fewer".  Apparently I don't use "fewer" enough and he needed to learn that term).  Riley's still kicking butt and taking names on 2A.  Spending a few hours putting together notebooks for the week is a total and complete win.  Even the kitchen (where we do our work) stayed neater because I wasn't pulling out 20 books every day! Plus, the boys seem to love having checklists! This clearly means they are their father's.  My in laws always were nervous about that. ;)

Logan is randomly having some trouble differentiating which vowel sound he should say, so we're easing off of the outside books and focusing on TYCTR100 so that he can regain that confidence.  Riley is doing awesome, although Hagrid has re-appeared in Harry Potter and reading someone who speaks in a dialect you've never heard is definitely tough! It slows us way down to have to read "Ey Harry, whadya doin fer ya teh abou?" figure out what it should say in English, and then make that fit back into the story.  But, it's good practice for other fantastic literature with British people in it! (And I think it'll make him love the movie a little more!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Oh, Hello Again CC!

We took a TWO WEEK winter break.

Don't judge me.  It's my first year homeschooling, I get to be slightly bad, especially since we started in August.  I could try to go all "unschooler" and claim that we read books (we did) and baked cookies, which counts as math (we did, but it doesn't), and went hiking and that's natural science, but I'm just going to own it and say we were on a break for two weeks.

Now it's time to get back to work, which is really exciting! I had some time over our break to evaluate what's working and what's not working about the way we've been doing school here at Casa di Kotlii.  Here's what I've come up with.

We are kicking reading's booty.  Riley has progressed beautifully and is currently working through Harry Potter Book 1, in addition to several age/level appropriate readers on various non-fiction topics.  Logan is creeping ever closer to being done with TYCTR (In the 70s!) and enjoys sight word readers and Level 1 books.  He's still very stuck on the way things look "different than my reading book", but is gaining comfort and confidence.

I love Singapore math and it continues to rock our world.  Logan will transition from Kindergarten A to Kindergarten B this week, just on schedule.  I plan to start Savannah on Kindergarten A next September because it's actually very low-level for what Logan can do, and I think she'll be ready for it.  Riley already moved from 1B to 2A and is doing a great job plugging along.  We're going to work on adding some fun math games the boys can do together.  I'll report back on the success of the ones we ordered for Christmas as we try them out!

Logan is going to start All About Spelling this week.  Riley is far enough ahead now that I feel we can dive in, and Logan is ready.  AAS is really below Riley's level as far as spelling words he could be having, but I picked it as a "reading recovery" tool and I attribute a great deal of his fluency and progress to learning the basic rules that he wasn't taught in school over the last 2 years learning to read. We're going to add in some "harder" words that follow whatever rule he's working on, in addition to continuing the AAS curriculum.

Riley continues work on cursive and Logan on printing.  When Logan writes by himself, he does whatever he wants as far as letter formation, but if I call it handwriting, he's very diligent about the formation of his letters and starting and ending in the correct place.  Riley enjoys cursive and feels very grown up about using it.  Austin blessed me greatly with a new printer/scanner/copier in November, and I am super excited to be printing our handwriting trace sheets instead of feeling like a dork with a marker.  I'm using this website, which will generate worksheets with whatever text you want for free.  Bonus.

Initially the idea was that we would use supplementary books from the library for science, but I haven't been happy with that approach since it's very hit or miss on the level (too high/too low) and quality.  Additionally, I really enjoy having a textbook so that I can look at it and see we've progressed.  Riley really also needs to be doing a great deal more writing than he's currently doing, and having end of the chapter questions will be good for that.  We're going to try out this as a text for our Chemistry unit, in addition to our memory work on the Periodic Table, which we'll supplement with The Periodic Table in Pictures and this website's quizzes, and we'll make a periodic table for the wall for review with sticky notes, as well as a model of dihydrogen oxide (yup, water for dorks) out of styrofoam and wire.  The plan is to introduce the scientific method and do a few experiments that the kids write up.  I've ordered a wipe-off poster with the different parts of the S.M. for them to fill in and present with.  We're also hosting 1 "Science Club" a month, Lord help me, because I didn't want to drive Logan an hour away for the nearest science club in his age group.  We've had a great response from our CC friends and will be using a book I found at the library (but can't find online) called Science for the Seasons: Holiday Experiments and Projects.

We're going to keep chugging along! We may try a review lapbook, but basically, more reading, more story of the world.  More field trips (!) and just generally being awesome.

I actually downloaded a lapbook for review here.  I'm hopeful that will help with our memorization!! Adding sign language was definitely a help, too!

We're starting another fine art segment, this time focusing on famous artists.  We'll be attempting some painting, coloring, etc.

I've put in a call about piano lessons for the boys.....apparently I don't love myself.

Logan will continue hockey.  He LOVES hockey.  Savannah is beginning skating lessons, too, and is asking about gymnastics.  All 3 continue to skate.  Riley is on an off season right now as no winter sports appealed to him, but he keeps busy riding his bike.  I want to look into the homeschool swim team for next cycle as well as FISH soccer, which are both weekday and very affordable.  They'll still be able to be on outside sports teams, too.  Riley plans to play lacrosse in the spring with his friend.

I put off foreign language until we were more established, but I've now gotten serious about Spanish for Riley (who wants to be a missionary like, yesterday) and German for Logan, who took to it in preschool.

More journaling, more story writing, going along with our IEW curriculum, which I still love and think is the best thing ever.

So- to sum up this insanely long and overly-complicated post:
1) I love everything I bought! Hooray for too much research and analysis!
2) I like textbooks!! Hooray for needing external validation!
3) My kids haven't gone stupid yet! Hooray for homeschooling!