Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up–Eeesh!

Our week started out great.   We were able to combine 5 days of school work into 4 to accommodate Olivia’s oral surgery for Friday.  Friday was another story, ahem.   We’ll get to that, but first, here’s this weeks white board message.


Science:  We learned some pretty interesting things about fossil fuels; how they were made,  where they are located and how they are used.   In learning about crude oil and drilling we created our own “oil well” by filling a plastic zip lock bag with water and then inserting a pointed straw in one corner.   We then jabbed another pointed straw in another corner and used air pressure to drive the oil up to the surface.  Very cool!

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Language Arts:  Olivia is finishing up a book study on Big Red and has also started reading King Solomon’s Mines for a book report.  Lindsey is working through a newspaper unit and spent this week being the editor of her own newspaper using articles from our local paper.   She only used “stories about the good things happening”.   It took a while to find those, ahem.



History:  Spies and major battles of World War I were on this weeks agenda.   Mata Hari and Lawrence of Arabia will need more in depth studying, grins.

Math:   Both girls had tests this week.  I was thrilled to see how well Lindsey did.  Olivia did fine, but she’s more of a math kid than her sister is so it wasn’t as much of a YES! when she got an “A”, if that makes sense.

Olivia’s surgery was at 10:30am Friday and it went really well. They got all 4 wisdom teeth out and we were out in and out in just an hour. At 1pm she was sitting on the sofa minding her own business and I watched as the left side of her face started to swell, almost like it had an air hose attached to it. I called the doctors office, and the surgeon said to bring her straight in.  The receptionist was a bit caught off guard when we walked in with my Franken-child. They evaluated her, reopened the stitched areas to make sure there wasn’t any hemorrhaging. Turns out it was a phenomenon known as “tissue emphysema”, which basically means somehow air got trapped in soft tissue of her face and just expanded like wild. This is usually caused by heavy sneezing or coughing, neither of which she had done.   The doctor said it was the first time in his career he’d seen this happen and even called in a colleague to make sure he wasn’t missing anything.  By bedtime, most of the swelling is gone, but her eye is still swollen shut. Freaky, and frightening thing to watch!    My husband wouldn’t allow me to take photos..bummer.

If you’re trying to get a feel for where you are, and where you’re headed in your school year, you might want to check out my article Middle of the Year Evaluations.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up and Collage Friday.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Middle of the Year Evaluations

The middle of your academic year is a good time to start evaluating where you are, and where your want to be at the end of the year.   Be honest, and realistic with your goals for the rest of the year.


Likewise, this is a great time to start making notes of weak areas you see in your children’s education.   This doesn’t mean start picking them or YOU apart for any short comings.   But you do need to pay attention and see if there are any gaps.    Spotting areas that need work is easier than you might think.

Listen to your kids.     Lindsey is great with telling time.  However, I’ve noticed she’s been having a harder time with her math because it’s asking her things like “If it’s 3pm in Anchorage, AK what time is it in Nashville, TN?”   Telling time isn’t the issue,  not knowing the state abbreviations IS the issue.   We need to focus more on geography.

Olivia loves history and writing reports. I find that if I give her a creative writing assignment that involves anything to do with history she’ll turn in a 6 page report. Handwriting a 6 page report for her takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r!!   She needs to learn to type.

Listen to your husband.  If he says “I told Jimmy to double recipe and he was lost”  listen to him.   He’s not an emotionally tied to the things you’re pouring yourself into and he can see it more objectively.  Sometimes kids know how to do the work on paper, but we need to teach them how to apply what they’ve learned to real life.

Listen to your gut instinct. Nobody knows your child as well as you do. Even if they have “passed” the course, you know if they really understand the material well enough to move on. Don’t fall into the trap of “pushing them through” when they need to review or redo. I’m sounding a bit Seussical there, huh?

Remedial work, retaking a class or even backing up a grade (or more) is not a sign that you or your child can’t do this homeschooling thing. Rather, it’s a sign that you have their best interest in mind, and are brave enough to say we need to back up and punt.

Don’t listen to everyone else.   Just because another homeschooling family is doing three co-ops, speaking fluently in Latin and have 2 kids on the junior Olympics team, it doesn’t mean you need to do that.  It also doesn’t mean that you have failed.  It means they are NOT YOU.  This is ok, you are ok, and your kids will be ok.

Next year will be here soon enough.  Jot down a few notes and be creative in how you can address those areas. 

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up–The Painful One

Happy Friday!  Doesn’t this drawing  just make you smile?  I found it on the white board Thursday morning, and I got quite the chuckle.


In addition to our regular crazy schedule, Tuesday night was our homeschool support group meeting.   I noticed when I arrived that the parking lot lights weren’t on, but didn’t really think a great deal about it.  We had horribly low attendance and I’m thinking people pulled in, saw the lights out and thought it wasn’t happening.  Anyway, at 8:30pm I’ve finished up and was heading out the door into a pitch black parking lot.   As I walked out the door, I’m scanning the area out by the van to make sure there was nobody lurking in the dark.

I apparently SHOULD have been paying far more attention to myself.  I didn’t see the little cement strip at the edge of the handicap parking space.  I was in full stride, with my hands full.   Then everything went into slow motion as I started stumbling, clawing at the air trying to regain my footing.  It didn’t happen.   I found myself splattered out in the middle of the parking lot, arms and legs akimbo.

Funny how no matter how old we get, or how bad we’re hurt, our first response is to jump up and look around to make sure nobody saw us fall, even in the pitch dark…like anyone could have seen it, ahem.

I messaged one of my gal pals and said “I think I just broke my freaking arm”.   Thankfully it was just jammed, and strained and semi-functional by the following day. The layers of skin that came off on the asphalt are now starting to heal.  The knee and back are slowing getting back to normal.     Not one of my more graceful moments.  Stop laughing.

Moving on to academics, ahem.

Science:  We’ve finished the chemistry part of our course and are now working on physics.  This week we learned about centripetal force.  Although you can’t see it well, in the photo below Olivia is watching a penny zoom around the inside edge of the balloon she’s holding.


We also learned about friction, traction, drag and aerodynamics.   In doing so, we built several different styles of paper airplanes and tested out the different designs to see how well they did.  If you look at each of the next three photos, you’ll see several airplanes in flight.



History:  We focused on weaponry of WWI this week.  The U-boat, tank, zeppelins, gas attacks and Flying Aces were the big stories.   Imagine the girls shock to learn that the Red Baron, of Snoopy fame was a real person with a record of over 80 enemy planes shot down.

Math:  Something has finally clicked with Lindsey and multiplication.   She’s able to mentally do so much more now than before our Christmas break.  Not sure what flipped the switch but so glad we’re making progress.

Language Arts:  Both girls have moved into next to last book study.  Lindsey is reading about Benjamin Franklin while Olivia is reading Big Red.  They are both gaining a better understanding of how to study a book and read for comprehension, but also their grammar skills are really starting to kick it up a notch.

Writing:  Funny thing, now that Olivia’s writing curriculum has her writing reports and essays on historical figures, she’s spending hours on her writing assignments.   She’s currently working on a report about Amelia Earhart. The report was supposed to be 300 words, she’s currently working on her 6th page (front and back). 

Basketball and cheer are in week 2.   This weeks biggest skill stretch was trying to dribble between her legs….as you can see, the ball is almost as big as her stride, it’s not an easy task.


We had a little snow, a little freezing rain, and a lot of cold this week.  Thankfully we were all safe and warm inside as we watched the city school buses sliding by the house.

How was your week?

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up and Collage Friday.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Renoir–Our Version

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (February 25 1841 –  December 3, 1919) was a French artist who helped pave the way for the Impressionist Era.

Renoir’s still life paintings were often quirky because of the items he chose to use as flower vases.    In keeping with his still life technique we got quirky too.

I didn’t have canvas on hand, so we used water color paper and then painted a layer of white tempera paint over it, to hide the grain. 


Then we assembled our quirky still life using one of Lindsey’s new cowgirl boots and some seasonal silk flowers.  


We then lightly sketched the still life onto our painted paper.  As you can see by her expression below, Olivia isn’t big on quirky still life, ahem.



Once we’d lightly drawn in the boot-vase and flowers, we used our water color paints to bring the painting to life. In hindsight, we should have used more water and less color, as Renoir’s work was more with pastels.



The boot on the right is mine.  Lindsey quipped “why don’t you just add some bells to it and turn it into an elf shoe?”   Smart aleck.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Hello New Year!!

This was our first week back to school for 2015, and it was a success.    I was ready to get back to the routine, and I think the kids were too.

Like many of you, we spent the week bundled up trying to keep ahead of the below zero temperatures.     It has been miserably cold, but thankfully no snow or ice here. 

Homemade soups and breads for dinner, and left over lunches have helped us stay warm.  Below is a hearty (and spicy) 15 bean Cajun soup, and a hot loaf of friendship bread.


When heading out of doors, we’ve looked similar to Ralphie’s kid brother as we’ve donned layer upon layer, but we could put our arms down.   This wonderful little woodstove has been a welcome friend this winter.


Math:  We’ve finished the fist half of our math curriculum and only have 78 lessons to go!   Lindsey has really been working on her multiplication tables and I think we’re finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel!

Language Arts:   Both girls have started their next to last book study for the year.   We’re moving along a lot more quickly than I’d thought, so we’re probably finish up early.

History:  This week began our World War I unit study.   We’ve watched 10 hours of video coverage in addition to our books, and notebooking pages.

Science:  As of yet the girls aren’t enjoying the physics as much as they did the chemistry.   Those foamy, fizzy hands on projects were a lot more fun, but we’re pushing onward.

Writing:  Olivia is working on researching and writing a biographical report on Amelia Earhart.   She’s been reading and researching like a fiend.  Lindsey is more than half way through her curriculum, so we’re good on that.

Art:   We studied Renoir, and attempted to create an usual still life using his techniques.


Extra curricular:   Basketball and cheerleading started this week.   We have several weeks of practice with the first games being January 24.  Ballet was scheduled to start this week, but we had to bump it back a week because of instructor health issues.

How was your week?

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up and Collage Friday!

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