Sunday Journal: Countdown Dances and Cancellations

visiting the state capitol

visiting the state capitol

We continue to suffer with illnesses this week. Middle Boy and Sparkles had a stomach bug earlier this week. Just as my sparkly girl got over that illness she succumbed to my chest cold. Oldest ended up with the chest cold too. I thought I was getting better from the chest cold but it came back for round two and now I also have the stomach bug. We are feeling a bit beat-up as a family. Except for one or two events I cancelled my family’s involvement in everything for the rest of the month. Including church. We need to rest and heal. Hopefully between now and Christmas everyone will recover.

dancing boy

dancing boy

Thankfully Littlest remains healthy. He is also (finally!) beginning to recover from his stint in preschool and our recent move. He has been a sullen little boy for a few months. Lately, he has started dancing again. He used to love dancing until he was told to dance a certain way in preschool. When he could not dance the way he chose he simply quit dancing. Even at home. Slowly, over the past few weeks our little dancing boy returned! This mama is so

dancing to countdown timer

dancing to countdown timer

happy!!! He’ll even bring the Wii controller over and ask me to dance with him too. Littlest’s mathy quirks are…continuing to evolve. He loves to dance to countdowns. Several times a day he will ask for someone to set a timer on the microwave and he will dance and count the numbers down. He is also starting to read on his own. I’m not sure how but he just suddenly recognizes words…

Middle Boy and Sparkles

Middle Boy and Sparkles

Middle Boy participated in the Brave Writer workshop on Periscope this week. I’ve linked the Katch for you to the workshop. Littlest kept talking to Julie over the computer and he was convinced that she could hear him talking back to her! The older three wrote a freewrite earlier in the week. Then for the workshop they worked on revision techniques. The workshop was so much fun. Middle

Do you really have to take a picture?!?!

Do you really have to take a picture?!?!

Boy was the only one well enough for the revision session but the older two want to try out some of the techniques when they are feeling better. We decided to try one approach per term so we could have fun with revision, learn the techniques well, and experiment with creative writing. We love Brave Writer!

small Thanksgiving meal

small Thanksgiving meal

For the most part I cancelled school this past week. Sparkles and Middle Boy both worked on some of their lessons anyway. I found Oldest napping near the Christmas tree this week with The Samurai’s Tale. It must be a great book since he keeps trying to read it while feverish! I plan for us to continue working on math this week and wrap up a few little projects. Nothing too involved. We are done with this school year. I am reading about loop scheduling and plan to experiment with it for our next term in January.

Christmas card pictures

Christmas card pictures

The kids wanted a private family Thanksgiving this week. We did this last year and the kids loved it. I was going to let it slide for this year but the family said, “no way!” My husband smoked a chicken and turkey breast and we made a few sides. Everything turned out lovely and delicious! I forgot to get out the paints for us to update the table-cloth this year with new hand prints. We’ll do that over our Christmas breakfast. I should be able to find the paints between now and then. Maybe.

Sparkles

Sparkles

Odd quote I over heard this week. Middle Boy to Littlest: “It’s not mind control and I don’t like it. It’s annoying.” I did ask Middle Boy for some clarification on his statement but the response wasn’t really comprehensible. I chose not to pursue enlightenment. I’ve noticed the younger two play together more so than they used too. Sparkles used to primarily play the most with Middle Boy. As she goes through puberty and begins to mature at a more rapid rate I’ve noticed they spend less time together during play…just a little. Change is inevitable but sad too.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers .

 

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Sunday Journal: Thanksgiving Week Adventures

Oldest learned to fry eggs this week

Oldest learned to fry eggs this week

Since I was still suffering from my chest cold and this was Thanksgiving week very little schooling happened. We did work on some math and read in our History of Medicine text for science. This week we’ll get back to a full schedule, wrapping up a few subjects, and prepping for a new start in January. Mostly, I am planning fun things to do between now and Christmas.

he made this face every time he broke an egg

he made this face every time he broke an egg

One of my favorite moments this week involved Oldest. He learned to fry eggs last week. One day this week he chose to make himself a bird’s nest for breakfast. When he finished the first one Middle Boy asked for it so Oldest gave it to him and started another one for himself. Every single time he finished his egg another sibling would ask him to make them one too!!! And every single time he handed them his breakfast and started again. I think he expected me to ask for one too but I just smiled and said, “Welcome to motherhood!”

learning to make gravy

learning to make gravy

This Tuesday I helped the crew make our breakfast for Poetry Tea and Breakfast time. I taught them to make biscuits and bacon gravy this week. We’re enjoying cooking together every Tuesday morning. Poetry appreciation has also morphed into cooking classes and it is very good…my favorite morning of the week. These sorts of mornings remind me why I love homeschooling my children.

playing on the swingset at the old house

playing on the swingset at the old house

We drove to Paducah to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family as we do every year. I would have been fine staying home and just resting. We’ve been on the go since the move and could just use some down time as a family. But it was also good to go in and see family and friends. We stayed at our old house and it was kinda

Sparkles and cousin at Thanksgiving

Sparkles and cousin at Thanksgiving

sad to see it empty. I refused to go to our old school room because I knew I would cry. On Friday we visited with friends. My bestie and I hung out at McDonald’s for breakfast and chatted about everything while the kids played at the Playplace. We’ve been gone less than two months and the McDonald’s in town was already remodeled. I know things change when you move but that was a bit quicker than expected!!!

our fortunes: husband, mine, Oldest, Sparkles, Middle Boy, Littlest

our fortunes: husband, mine, Oldest, Sparkles, Middle Boy, Littlest

For lunch we drove out to our favorite Chinese buffet. We had a great time laughing over our fortunes. Oldest’s reaction to his was hilarious because his fortune was something about exploring his feminine side! Later in the evening we went to visit with Suzann and her husband. The kids and I all missed her and we had a wonderful time at her place. I am a little mad at myself because I didn’t take any pictures of her with the kids!!! We are also officially adopting the kitten that was stranded at her house this year. The kitten will come back with us on our next trip west.

Boots will join us soon

Boots will join us soon

Sparkles has been begging for a kitten for over a year. She is over the moon and cannot wait to go shopping for kitty supplies. Our new kitty is named Boots.

On the drive home I listened to Julie Bogart’s last scope. I had missed it the night before and had to catch the replay since it wasn’t saved to Katch. I admire this woman so much. Her courage is infectious! I haven’t had a mentor in a long time and am glad to have someone willing to invest her wisdom and time. She is also

The crew at Suzann's

The crew at Suzann’s

going to do a live writing workshop this week for the kids!!!! You can find the information for the workshop on the Brave Writer site here. The whole experience is free and will give you some insight into the Brave Writer lifestyle. I am excited and plan to participate along with the kids.

We are thankfully finished with our current science curriculum. The kids and I are definitely ready for something new to read. Instead of choosing the curriculum myself this year I let the kids pick. I showed them several different books based on the

laughing over our fortunes

laughing over our fortunes

criteria they gave me (lots of experiments, mostly science with no overly pro-creation or pro-evolution talk.) They chose Dr. J Wile’s Science in the Beginning. We’ll also order the lab kit because I am terrible at getting all those little things ahead of time. Middle Boy read the entire free sample online and loved it. He responded with delight to the conversational tone and the assignments.

Math will be receiving a major overhaul. I’ve been reading books and articles by mathematicians and have all of these ideas swimming in my head. All four of my children are in separate math curriculums based on their learning styles or comfort needs.

Sparkles new hair color

Sparkles new hair color

Middle Boy is bored, bored, bored! He needs to have his mind challenged or he gets rebellious. In January he will be starting Beat Academy. He chose the curriculum after loving the placement exam. This math is “out-of-the-box”, tough, and will stretch all of our thinking skills. My mind may very well snap working with him! I also set up all of the kids some math courses on Kahn Academy this week. Oldest is determined to start pre-Algebra sometime next year so he will have time for advanced mathematics before graduation.

making cookies for Suzann

making cookies for Suzann

Sparkles will continue with Teaching Textbooks for now until her math phobia is behind her. Littlest is already shocking all of us with his addition and subtraction skills so I will start him with MathUSee’s Primer because I have it on my shelf. As his learning style unfolds we’ll place him into a suitable math curriculum.

Sometime this week I’ll have my next post about our journey through Intermediate Medieval History with Beautiful Feet Books. We are finishing up our study of Medieval China. I’ve also got a set of long overdue book reviews from Deborah Taylor-Hough. She sent me a couple of her books during the move and I’d like to share them.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Parent-Teacher Meet-up

math

“There is also a deeper loss that’s harder to put a price on. If children are born with anything, it’s a sense of the invisible beauty and elegance of the world. They love seeing patterns, making connections, and solving problems. But the majority of children will lose this sense of wonder and curiosity before they grow up simply because, as a society, we expect so little of ourselves.”
—John Mighton

“Some small event in early childhood or at school might start an avalanche of learning in one child but not another. The fact that an avalanche occurs on one mountain and not another does not imply anything interesting about mountains. It does not prove that one mountain is more prone to avalanches or that an avalanche could never be started.”

—John Mighton

These quotes come from John Mighton’s book The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child. He has another book called The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential. In this second book Mighton explores why children lose their innate sense of wonder and curiosity. In school systems (and by societal beliefs on human ability) children are sorted into who is good at math and who is better with letters and so on. Since we as a society believe individuals are born with a certain innate talent then why bother trying to develop something we do not have? Mighton argues we should not sort our children into categories so early in their education. By telling my daughter that she’s just not a mathy person I am throwing her potential away. I haven’t actually said as such to her but I have thought it. To me the thought is the same as committing the crime toward her.

Instead of sorting our children shouldn’t we be trying to awaken that avalanche of learning, discovery, and ability? And since I now believe Mighton’s insights (the two quotes above) to be true then I need to model this belief in how I teach my children and (here’s the hard part!) in my beliefs about my own abilities or lack thereof.  So how is this to be done? What kind of teacher do I need to be for my children to really “get” math…or music, art, writing, science…whatever.

I’m not sure this process can be facilitated so much as nurtured. That “avalanche of learning” happens because someone invested themselves into another being. I saw this happen with Middle Boy. He has a passion for music because he felt loved in his preschool. The high school girl’s who designed the curriculum all loved music. They all played instruments or danced. They passed their love and enthusiasm for music to him. They invested themselves into their curriculum and into the children they taught. My son can play a song by ear…not perfectly or immediately. But he can sit at the piano and figure out a melody. Is his talent for music innate or inspired? A bit of both?

I’ve also noticed that when my husband spends time helping our children with their music their ability increases. Not just a small increment. I hear a leap in improvement in all of them. My husband doesn’t play piano nor does he read music quickly. He will even admit their ability to play the piano far surpasses his own. Yet, when he invests his own time (something he has a limited supply of at home) they improve.

As the mother, nurturer, educator at home I need to bring about the conditions that will support and encourage Mr. Mighton’s avalanche. I’ve been reading these books and articles on education, philosophy, mathematical ability, motivation, human development…seeking how to create such an environment. All this time my husband has been modeling the answer for me during his music practice coaching. I am married to the most fascinating man.

“My heart is singing for joy this morning. A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil’s mind, and behold, all things are changed.” — Anne Sullivan

 

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Tea Party Revolt

Sparkles and friend at baby shower

Sparkles and friend at baby shower

This past week flew by in a rush of business. I had a hard time keeping up and even forgot to get my wrap-up written and posted on Thursday night. I am so looking forward to putting the busy summer behind me and it has barely begun! Saturday, Sparkles and I attended a baby shower. She loves to go and chat with just about anyone that will listen. Sparkles also looked over all of the baby gifts approvingly and told me how useful all of the items would be. She wasn’t impressed with the superhero dolls and thought those were “less than useful” gifts for a baby. I did my best to keep a serious face and nod accordingly.

science experiment

science experiment

We managed to finally get back into school this week for the first time after returning from the convention. Oldest loved the Life of Fred (math) book that he finished the entire book in one day. Yikes!!! I only bought the first four books…maybe I should have sprung for more volumes. He enjoyed it so much he asked to read it again. Of course I told him yes. You are never going to hear me complain about reading a math book. We also covered several science experiments in our weather study this week. Their favorite for this week was trying to find out if they are stronger than air. They all thought before the experiment that they were stronger than air…turns out they were wrong! Next week we will study the water cycle and make clouds in the kitchen.

We spent more time at the hospital this week. My husband’s stent was removed and hopefully this will be the end of the kidney stone chapter for a long, long while.

tea party

tea party

In American history we are starting to finish up the Colonial era and American Revolution. The crew really enjoys the books by Jean Fritz. We also found a history show called American Ride. The show follows a biker named Stan Ellsworth who rides around the country and talks history. I plan for us to start watching these shows through the summer. My husband found the series on Roku…some sort of internet TV service.  This week we read about Samuel Adams and the Boston Tea Party. So on Friday we invited

making tea

making tea

some friends over for tea…Colonial style. We used an old fashioned tea brick (available on Amazon) to make our beverage. We scraped about a teaspoon of tea into the cups and then poured hot water over and let it steep. The crew and guests then passed the cream and sugar and enjoyed…or didn’t enjoy their tea. We also had some little cakes and bread with strawberry butter spread. I really wanted to make a traditional Election Day Cake to go with the tea but…sometimes life gets too busy. I’m sure I can find another lesson to make the cake. The boys thought the tea was so awful they decided to throw it into the creek…in honor of the famous Boston Tea Party! One of the party goes said the tea was very good and she would have gladly paid the tax to enjoy her tea! We may have hosted a Loyalist at our soirée!

swimming lessons

swimming lessons

The crew made progress in their swimming lessons this week and are looking forward to a race with the swim coach next week. I also promised to take them out for milkshakes afterward.

The last of my orders from the homeschool convention came in this week. So today this kids started their new math with Christian Light Education. Oldest happily completed two math lessons (he really likes math these days!!!) while the middle two only completed one lesson each. I am hoping we can complete these lesson and get them into their grade

checking out the ants

checking out the ants

level math by Christmas break. Changing math curriculum is not easy but I can tell the change will be good and worth the foreseeable hiccups. MathUSee is a good curriculum but it was just too easy and not challenging at all for my crew. My favorite part of the Christian Light math so far is the daily speed drills and flash card practice that is built into the daily work. I knocked them down a grade to help them cope with the change and build up their confidence in the new program and themselves. The Christian Light math is also more involved than their previous curriculum. They are changing over from mastery style learning to spiral based learning and I am sure we will experience a few kinks.

My crew is asking me to go outside and see the snake they found…oh yeah!

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.