Friday, April 27, 2012

Aunt C., Mufy, E-
Cupcake and S with Rosie train cake
April is our month of birthdays.  After celebrating Matt and Muffy's birthdays, I thought I had a weekend in between.  Then, I realized the celebrations were going to be back to back weekends.  So, Saturday we celebrated Cupcake's turning six (official birthday was Monday).  Since she loves Thomas the Tank Engine so much, we had someone make her a Rosie train cake.  After cake and ice cream, we went to a nearby lake for paddle boating and park time.  The birthday girl added Ferdinand, Dash, and Bash to her train collection.

Kid's Running Club w/Dad
Both girls ran in our town's new running club for kids on Saturday morning before the party.   Daddy ran with them along with Uncle Caleb.  The Cupcake has been imitating her aunt and uncle running for quite some time, so it was super exciting to be part of the real deal!  She has been telling me that she must "exercise her bones."

School was quite routine this week.  Muffy and I finished third grade grammar for the year.  She's about 3/4 through Wind and the Willows.  The boys and I got through the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War.  We've fallen behind in Pilgrim's Progress, but that will be a good thing to work on over the summer.  Cupcake and I started the Beatrix Potter collection, at least the stories that are short enough for her attention span.

Yesterday I figured out just how fun it is when you don't pay attention to where you are parking at Duke. At least I had it narrowed down to three of the eight floors in the parking deck!  Obviously, we made it home.

Muffy and her buddy
Having a rest in the storyteller's chair at gardens
Today was supposed to be our homeschool association field day.  However, even though today was beautiful, the previous days have been so wet that the parks and recreation department gave a "no go."  So, if the weather cooperates, we should have pictures of that event next week.  Since I'd planned for only four days of instruction/assignments, we decided a field trip was in order.  We went to the NC Botanical Gardens for the morning with another family, also known as "our buddies."  Everything was so beautiful, if we could have just figured out how to get eight children to slow down and smell the roses, quite literally.

Cupcake and two of her buddies

Pitcher plants at botanical gardens
Matt and I've been reading lots in our tiny bits of spare time.  I finished Radical by David Platt this week.  I've started Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy but I'm going to do no more than a chapter a day, as there is a lot to chew.  We're both making an effort to get some exercise.  I've walked six miles total so far this week.   It seems there are so many areas in life that require discipline.

May you all have a blessed weekend (I for one am looking forward to a no birthday or holidays weekend)!
Cupcake and Matt trying out birthday bear tent

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Week of Colds and Reading

Sadie, Tom, and Blachick

Today was the last class of the year for our geography/missions homeschool co-op I started last fall.  We've had a great year learning about various countries in Africa, missionaries, food, culture, maps, and more.   My dear friend made cupcakes and even decorated them with flag picks of the countries studied.  Argh, I meant to get a picture of that.  Oh well, maybe next year when we move on to Asia, Lord willing.

Cupcake painting a colorful hotel

Miss Cupcake and I had nasty colds part of this week, so her school was extremely light.  We worked on the letter "P" and made numbers 10-19 with our 0-9 number puzzle.  Of course, we recited our favorite poems, and are working on some new ones.  She chose to illustrate "The Drinking Fountain", so yes, that is a water fountain in the picture, and um I do believe she said that was Grandma at the water fountain.   On her own, she decided to draw a seed, a tree, and roots, and a sprouting seed when I read her a a simple tree book.  Her favorite story this week was Little Sally Mandie at the Farm, a book I've had since I was a little girl, that was my mom's, and we think my grandmother's.  Little Sally Mandie and Tommy Whiskers went to the farm, and Tommy Whiskers got his tail nipped when he was rude to Mr. Gander Goose. They got to see Mrs. Curly Grunt (momma pig) and her little curly grunts (her babies). This morning she told us she had a great IDEA, which was that for her birthday Grandpa could build her a Great Wolf Lodge in the backyard (I'm thinking she meant all the play stuff, not a whole hotel).  She thinks her grandpa can do anything!

Muffy's birthday presents
Muffy girl had a simple but wonderful birthday celebration last Saturday with her daddy and auntie (both also had birthdays the same week as our Muffy).  S made her a strawberry cake, decorated with each child's favorite animal piped with frosting-- Huggy, Lamby, Snuggy, and Huggy Bunny.  Big brother E made strawberry lemonade punch.   Muffy was thrilled to get some binoculars and a gift card to Lowe's.  We told her to pick out some things to attract the birds, for a little thinking spot.  So she picked out a bench, cute yellow "lollipop" flowers, and a bird bath.  Now, when we had this idea, I had no idea there was anything out there other than plain looking bird baths.  She found a mushroom one with a bunny on it.  It is cute, but thank goodness it goes on the side of the house.  She's enjoyed reading Joan of Arc and Wind and the Willows at her special spot.  She finished Tree in the Trail, and got a lot done in grammar and our CLE reading workbooks.  She named our new friend, the black-capped chickadee, "Blachick", and the male house finch "Tom" since his the color of a Tom-ato.  I named Tom's wife, Sadie.  The three have been fun to watch this week out of our school room window.

Wind and the Willows illustration

S, Muffy, Aunt Missy, and Cupcake

S and E worked hard at their booklists this week.  E is now captivated with Narnia, even choosing to read it in his spare time too.  They're both still on Robin Hood, which is a very LONG book.  I am hoping they will finish it in the next couple of weeks.  They both think the mythology book, Age of a Fable by Thomas Bullfinch is weird, but they do it anyway.  E loves reading and listening to books in his treehouse.  However, S does not care to spend his time there.  Both boys, along with Muffy, watched "The Tempest" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from Shakespeare- The Animated Tales on dvd from Netflix this week.  I'd like to get the whole set for our homeschool.  We also listened to Joseph Haydn's "Farewell Symphony" (Symphony #45 in F Major).  E is very close to conquering long division!!!!  Thank you Math-U-See.  In Bible, we learned about King Jehu who was zealous in destroying Ahab's family and their gods, but didn't destroy the gods of Jeroboam. 
E at Fort Macon

Matt preached on "Hate" this past Wednesday night using the book of Jonah as his basis, with several ties to other Old and New Testament examples.  We were so glad for him to have the opportunity, and I was so glad that Tylenol made me feel well enough not to miss it!  He and I've had some good discussions and things are brewing as a result of last weeks trip to Together For the Gospel.

I've been trying to keep up with Muffy in Wind of the Willows.  If books were food I'd say that selection is like having strawberry shortcake with cream on top!  I'm happy to finally report the completion of Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling, volume 1.  I also finished Johnothan Edwards on True Christianity this week.  Apparently, Jonathan Edwards faced nominalism in churches back in his day as well.  I'd love to tell you all about it, but that would require a whole other post.   Matt is re-reading David Platt's Radical, so I decided to do the same.  I'm ahead of him, but don't tell him I said that.  Hee, hee, hee.  If you haven't read it, it is one I think every evangelical Christian should read (or listen to, I've got both the audio and the book, and I love to lend!).   Lastly,  I've been enjoying leading our children's choir.  They sang during Sunday morning worship and did great.  I think I was the only nervous one! 

May you all have a wonderful weekend full of God's grace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Little Black Bug, Where Have You Been?

Little black bug, little black bug, where have you been?  I've been under the rug, said little black bug.  Little green fly, little green fly, where have you been?  I've been way up high, said little green fly.  Bzzzzzzzzzzz. Little old mouse, little old mouse, where have you been?  I've been all over the house, said little grey mouse.  Squeak-EEk-EEk-EEk-EEk. (Margaret Wise Brown)

Where have we been?  Well, we've hung out mostly at home this week, keeping things simple.  Matt had the opportunity to attend the Together For the Gospel Conference in Kentucky.  He got to hear some incredibly good speakers, including David Platt, pastor and author of Radical.  I would challenge everyone to watch the video of his message  The Call to Death-Defying Missons. (matt)

Miss Cupcake is proficient in the recitation of the above poem.  She has illustrated it (with help from a drawing book) for her notebook, as well as "The Little Turtle" (the one that lived in a box, swam in a puddle, and climbed on the rocks). I am amazed that a child with attention issues has taken a liking to the poetry.  It seems to slow her down just for a moment.  We worked on numbers 10-19 with our number puzzle pieces.  She successfully learned which ones are in "10".    Why oh why, could we not have oneteen, twoteen, and threeteen?  It would be so much easier for the little ones and would make much more sense.  Letter "N" was our focus for the alphabet.  She can distinguish the sounds of "m" and "n" to speak them, but is still having trouble distinguishing the beginning sounds of "m" or "n" in words.  I know, slow and steady, we'll get there.... Eventually.  I also decided to read Chatterer the Red Squirrel, by Thornton Burgess, one short chapter per sitting.  Then I give her the mommy shortened summary at the end.  She seems to understand at least some of it, and more importantly asks for it at school time.  I'm thinking the Beatrix Potter collection might be a great fit next. 

Both girls attended our library's Winnie the Pooh indoor picnic and party.  I loved how the librarian used flower pots to look like Pooh's honey pots.  There was a lot of laughter coming from the Cupcake over Pooh and Tigger's antics.  She kept looking back during the movie to see if mommy thought it was hilarious too.

To Miss Muffin's delight, and everyone else's for that matter, the birds have finally noticed the soda bottle feeder outside our school window.  She was able to identify it from one of our bird guides, as a house finch.  We think we have a male and female that repeatedly come to the window.  It is good that Matt has returned so he can refill it.  They have eaten most of it up.  So, our beautiful feathered friends have provided a bit of a distraction this week.

 In other news, as of Wednesday our Muffy is now nine!  At least we aren't in the double digits with her yet.  We will celebrate her birthday, her daddy's birthday, and her auntie's birthday tomorrow.  Her request for no school on her birthday was denied, but I did allow her reading assignments on her comfy bed.  Her music teacher granted her a no practice day on her birthday for violin and piano to which I also agreed.  Her daddy sent her flowers since he was away, which she absolutely loved, and I made the requested birthday breakfast-- chocolate chip toffee walnut scones.   Most of school was a continuation of everything from last week, but we did add Wind and the Willows.  I'm reading ahead and LOVE it.

S and E have been busy finishing up World War II.  They also learned about Ghandi and the partitioning of India, forming Pakistan, as well as the partitioning of Palestine, thus, creating Israel.  It has been fascinating stuff!  We have shelved the science and grammar to be resumed in the fall, so we have extra time to finish the book lists of prerequisites for AO and our other courses.  I'm proud of both of them.  They are working so hard at their big list (would have been nice for them if I'd decided all this earlier).  It is wonderful to see boys their age enjoy good literature.

I managed to keep school going, kids clothed, and fed, but that is about it.  There was very little time to read or do anything else.  Maybe I'll accomplish more next week.  Cupcake spoke the sweetest words this evening when she shouted "Daddy's home!".  

Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Would You Buy a Beach House When Cupcake Will Sell You a Bathouse Instead?

We are in the countdown of those last few remaining of our 180 days!!   I feel like the little engine that could, "I think I can, I think I can.."  Of course, when we reach the goal, we will still have a relaxed summer school routine put in place, continuing in math, reviewing grammar, and lots of reading lists. But somehow, the lighter load will be just right to rejuvenate us for the fall.

I fear our vacation caused a stumbling block to Cupcake's progress with Hooked-On-Phonics, so we started back at the beginning.  This week consisted of the letter M only. One thing I added to her school routine, is Eloise Wilkin's Poems to Read to the Very Young.  Our favorites this week have been "Mix a Pancake,"  "The Little Turtle", and  "Little Black Bug."  She almost has the pancake one memorized.  She also began notebooking like the big kids.  She illustrated the pancake poem (in case you can't tell, that is a blue plate, pancake with syrup/butter/strawberries).  She was as proud as a peacock over it.  On Thursday, she and I had fun at the library's "Block Party".  I helped her build what I thought was a beach house, but she put in a potty and said it had to be a restroom instead. Since the Muffy girl has been learning about birds, I read Cupcake a shorter book with real life photographs of mommy birds, daddy birds, babies, and their nest.  It was an old one Matt had from his childhood.  Both girls have done some spying on the robin's nest in our neighbor's bush.  The eggs are gorgeous!  We have a nest in our magnolia, but it is too high up to see what is in it.  The girls think it is funny the birds used some of their craft ribbon left outside for the nest.

Muffy has been engrossed in Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.   She only has one chapter left.  Since her adventure with Paddle-to-the-Sea ended, she has begun Tree in the Trail, another one of the Holling C. Holling books.  Crows and blue jays were her bird friends this week.  For history narrations this week, she enjoyed drawing cartoon pictures of some of the people from Our Island Story, in particular, Henry II, Thomas a Becket, and Gilbert and Rohesia.  She used the drawings to tell me about the chapters from the week.   She is supposed to be doing the free Peter's Online Typing since she finished Dance Mat Typing with flying colors.  Suddenly typing is not so exciting when it does not involve dancing hippos that congratulate your skills.  I promised I would do a dance and song for her after each Peter's lesson, to which she is probably going to hold me to next week.  In free time, she and the Cupcake have set up a stuffed animal hospital (using Daddy's painter's tape as bandages), and have spent a lot of time outside.

S and E learned about the stock market, the Great Depression, Hitler, and the beginnings of World War II this week.  It is interesting this go around teaching modern history to see it from a world history point of view rather than just American.  We've had some interesting discussions.  It is great having big boys. We've added Thomas Bullfinch's Age of A Fable to their daily readings.  I'm allowing this one to be audio from Librivox since we need to get through our list in time.  I'm not a big fan of mythology, but I think they are mature and discerning about it at this age.  They are both reading Robin Hood, and E excitedly gives me the highlights.  We also started back with our CLE Reading Program for them, with just two units remaining.  This week's focus has been inferring, interpreting, and comparing parables.  In science, both boys have been learning about DNA.  It would be nice if I could show their DNA models but someone cut the pipe cleaners too short, and I decided we'd just move on or come back to it later.   In Bible, Muffy, S, and E finished up with Elisha and his encounters with the kings of his time.

Matt bought us a new piano that was delivered on Monday.  It probably wouldn't be too hard to guess what S has been doing besides school.  He is so happy to play on something that does not have a bunch of broken keys.  He's also begun working on a violin piece, a hymn, "Come Thou Fount" in hopes of being able to play it in church one of these days. 
S at Grandpa's

In E's free time, he mostly read Peanuts comics,  played games, and read magazines in the tree house.  His favorite one was when Charlie Brown was playing cowboy and Snoopy was the cow.  He also loves to keep track of restaurant reviews, and gives us accounts good and bad, some of which I'd probably rather not know about.

Today we met my uncle, his wife, and children, affectionately known to as the "cousins" for some trail walking, bike riding, and playground time.  It was a bit cooler today, but with the sun shining was such a beautiful day.

We hope everyone has a blessed Easter weekend, reflecting on the ultimate sacrifice and resurrection of our Savior.