It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these hodgepodge posts–so long, in fact, that I fear I’ll leave out much of what I thought I’d share as things happened. I often think–“I should blog about this!” But time has a way of slipping away. I’ll share what I remember.
Lulu completed her first summer as a library volunteer with a pizza party at the library to which Nana took her. I’m proud of her for her sticktoitiveness in a task that isn’t always a load of fun–shelving books!
Lulu also participated in the W.C. Handy Kidz Jam for the Handy Festival. This event allows the piano students to play with a professional bass guitar player and drummer, jazz-style. It’s a good experience. I missed it because I had a CBS meeting to attend, but Steady Eddie recorded for me. This happened the day after we got back from Dauphin Island, so it had been over a week since Lulu had really been able to practice. She acquitted herself very well considering that.
We had our annual family birthday celebration in which we rent a local public pool for an evening at the end of July. This is the fourth year or so that we’ve done this. We did allow Lulu her own personal birthday party this year since she turned ten, but we usually just have a big celebration in honor of all the kids’ birthdays. We invite everyone we can think of and ask for no gifts–everyone just come swim and have fun and eat cake and ice cream. The kids (except Benny) all picked out the kind of cake they wanted and helped me make it. Lulu and the DLM picked rainbow cake and Louise picked Texas sheet cake. Isn’t the rainbow cake batter pretty?
The finished products:
(Yes, I did warn everyone that if they ate the rainbow cakes, they’d be ingesting their yearly limit of artificial colorings. )
We’ve managed to swim a lot over the past three weeks. Good times.
We went to Montgomery with Steady Eddie on Monday and visited the Alabama Archives. I’ll try to share pictures from that trip soon.
I still haven’t finished sharing pictures from Dauphin Island. I’m optimistic that I might finish before Christmas.
Our little Benny is just a joy and a delight. I think the early toddler stage is my favorite. At sixteen months, he’s walking and talking up a storm. He mimics what we say a lot: hot dog, cracker, cocka-doodle-doo (from Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown), big boy, etc. On Wednesday of last week he got into the pantry and poured out a whole box of vanilla wafers. He cried hysterically at first, but then he realized he’d hit the jackpot.
On Wednesday our CBS class held registration, and I am thrilled and so very thankful that our fledgling homeschooling classes are growing! Thank you, Lord! We’ve registered more children in the whole children’s department (nursery-sixth grade) than the current director has ever had!
We started school on Thursday, despite my feelings of unpreparedness. We had Circle Time, math, language, handwriting, and writing. I also read aloud a good bit in a desperate attempt to finish our current read-aloud (Summer of the Monkeys) before plunging into our history curriculum.
I think everyone liked getting back into the routine. We’re still working things out–aren’t we always?–including finding places for the girls to go when they need to have quiet to do their work. (Plugging your ears while still in the same room with some Very Noisy Brothers really doesn’t help. )
I was particularly happy to note that my dropping of the math ball over the summer (we were supposed to play games at the very least!) didn’t hurt their retention.
We even managed rest time on Thursday, which is a tricky thing nowadays. I have to be pretty persistent to convince the DLM that we all need quiet rest time. The girls, of course, don’t mind–Lulu disappears with a book (The Warden and the Wolf Kingwas a big winner!) and Louise reads or makes art or plays with her seashells or dolls. She’s not hard to occupy. Mama gets bonus points if Benny stays asleep for the whole time!
I’m still figuring out a schedule for the DLM. It will involve a good bit of sisterly attention.
One thing that has been a hit for him are those dot markers with accompanying “paint by number” sheets.
On Friday morning we had our co-op orientation. Benny just about wore me out with his aversion to being held, but it was worth it to re-connect with so many friends. We celebrated by eating lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant where I was complimented by a stranger on the behavior of my children. (I love it when that happens!)
We usually have breakfast-for-supper once a week, and this week I made a frittata (inspired by the PW, though I didn’t follow her recipe) instead of the standard scrambled eggs. I loved it!
Last night we had my mom’s birthday supper here at home. It was good to have everyone over–especially my nephews, who are the DLM’s own personal heroes. They’re big high schoolers now, so we don’t see much of them.
We now have two parakeets: Amber, our original, and Emerald. Just in case you need a closeup:
The children all spent the night with grandparents (a boy and a girl with Nana and a boy and a girl with Mamaw and Papaw) last night. Steady Eddie and I slept in a little, talked a lot, and went out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning. It was wonderful!
Two of our children have been finger suckers, and two have been pacifier babies. Lulu sucked the same two fingers as Steady Eddie did when he was a baby–the middle and ring finger of the right hand. It was quite ingrained in her–to the point that she did it well past her third birthday. She did it so much that her fingernails on those fingers were flat and a little shriveled. When she held up her hand with her fingers extended, her tall man and ring man stood close to each other, like best buddies. One day I read something that made me realize that she needed to stop doing it! Today!So I made a deal with her, and she quit. Just like that. She never looked back.
Louise took a paci, and while it was hard to break the habit, it was nothing that a well-aimed snip of the scissors into the paci’s nipple wouldn’t cure.
When the DLM was a few months old, we were astounded to realize that he had that some predilection for the middle and fourth finger of his right hand. It seemed like too much to be just a coincidence. What’s more, he loved those fingers even more than Lulu, if that’s possible. He’s a very affectionate, physical little fellow, and if his skin ever came into contact with someone else’s–even down to his feet stepping on yours–into his mouth went his fingers. It was downright annoying at times. (Just ask his sisters!) Even past his fourth birthday, I had no idea how to break the habit. What’s more, I didn’t have the mental and emotional stamina to break it. I just couldn’t even think about it.
So the DLM solved the problem for us. He broke his right arm. The angle of the cast made it impossible for him to put his fingers in his mouth. We thought it would cause problems, especially at bedtime, but it didn’t. He was able to go to sleep just fine with nothing at all in his mouth. He had his cast removed at the end of July, and so far, we only know of one time that he’s had his fingers in his mouth. That was at night while he was asleep.
It’s a pretty extreme (not to mention expensive!) way to break the habit, but it works.
(Benny is a paci baby, but we really wonder if he would’ve sucked those fingers, too, if the paci hadn’t won out. When he was younger than a year old, he would often put those very same fingers up to his paci and rest them there. Really!)
We had our first field trip of the 2014-2015 school year on Friday, and we haven’t even started the year yet. David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, has an annual event called David Crockett Days in honor of Crockett’s August birthday. My mother and I took my four children and a friend up for the afternoon. It was a billed as a homeschool day, so quite a few of my homeschooling friends made the trek north, too. (It was kind of funny to me to “run into” so many Alabama friends in Tennessee.) Many historical reenactors “rendezvous” here, ply their trades, and sell their wares.
It was a very hot and humid day, and we spent a good bit of it walking around the demonstration area with low rumbles of thunder as our background music. We spent some time talking with ladies who spin wool into thread, dye the thread using natural dyes, and quilt by hand. Sometime during the quilting demonstration the DLM managed to get a splinter in his finger from the bow and arrow (kid-friendly ) he had bought, and it was downhill from there. It was nothing a little time under the refreshment tent and a bottle of ice-cold Orange Crush couldn’t help, though.
Benny was just so happy to be able to walk around in the grassy, open area–he wouldn’t be contained.
The girls all had money to spend, so we spent the last thirty minutes or so shopping the vendor tents. Our guest bought her dad an old-fashioned knife for his birthday. Lulu came away with an fan made from feathers and I forget what else. Louise bought a gigantic sea shell to go with her collection. There was more I wanted to see, but we managed to get everyone back in the van before the bottom fell out and we drove home through driving, torrential rain.
This is a good festival and certainly worth a few hours of time.
We left spring break behind last week and as we entered the new week, I knew it would be a busy one. Now that we’re on the other side of it, I can say that this is the sort of week I really enjoy, though the level of busy-ness would get exhausting if it were the norm instead of the exception.
Monday was a normal day, with the exception that Louise’s art class has now moved to Mondays, so I had to remember that.
I made pizza Monday night, which is something I hadn’t done in a while. I used my bread machine for the dough and followed this recipe. I divided it into five parts and everyone had his or her own personal pizza. It was good, but the dough ended up undercooked and doughy under the toppings. Any ideas on how to remedy that?
On Tuesday the girls participated in the 4H County Roundup. It was a fun day for them. There were about 150 or so (?) students from all over the county there. They had lots of stations for the students to visit–water conservation, a mobile dairy (which we’ve seen before), etc.
Lulu entered the Chef 4H contest, and Louise entered the Creative Endeavors event as a Cloverbud (which means she didn’t actually compete, but she did get recognized for participating). The biggest and most welcome surprise of the day was when Lulu placed first in the Chef 4H competition! She competed against four or five other students in a cooking demonstrations. She made banana chocolate chip muffins from a recipe we adapted from King Arthur Flour. I am really proud of Lulu. Winning at the county level qualifies her for a regional competition this summer.
I am really thankful to God for providing this 4H opportunity for my girls. I have been wanting them to have a venue for practicing public speaking and making presentations, and this looks like it might be a good one. I’m excited about the possibilities!
On Tuesday night I began feeling a bit under the weather, and by Wednesday morning I wasn’t any better. Steady Eddie ended up taking the day off so I could rest and recuperate. We ended up missing CBS, but we had a good, busy day anyway because. . .
Someone turned one on Wednesday! It’s hard to believe, but we welcomed Benny into our family a year ago. Steady Eddie did school with the girls that morning, and then in the early evening we headed out for a bite of supper and some time at the park. We came home and Benny had his first official birthday cupcake, which he enjoyed immensely.
Thursday was a regular school day, the last one of the week. All things considered, it was a good week of lessons. Here’s what we accomplished:
We had two days of Circle Time, plus I added a new
little activity using word roots cards from The Critical Thinking Company. I haven’t actually figured out the best way to use these yet. There’s a book that goes with them, but I wanted it to be more of a fun activity for us to do together than just another worksheet. Any ideas?
Lulu completed lessons 35-38 in FLL 4 and Louise did lessons 66-67 in FLL 2. I’m to the point that I skip a lot of the guided part of the lesson for Lulu and let her do the sentence diagramming on her own, and then we go back and talk about it. Lulu also did three 4-level analyses and we discussed them. I’m considering Junior Analytical Grammar for Lulu next year. Have any of you used this? I think we’re ready to move on to something that requires a little less hand-holding.
Lulu did one day of WWE 4 and I finally, finally decided that it’s time for us to be done with it, once and for all. It seems so redundant to do the narrations in WWE 4 and then turn around and write paragraph summaries for history. WWE definitely served its purpose for us, but now we’re ready to go forward without the hand-holding here, too. Lulu is still plugging along in WWE 2 (she did three days this week), and we’ll continue with WWE 3 next year for her.
Spelling and handwriting? Yes, they did them. Spelling is the thing I always run out of time for going over with them. Arrgh! That means homework for me before lesson time tomorrow.
Lulu did lessons 50-52 in RS E, which introduced hundredths of a square and hundredths of a dollar. She and I also played a several rousing rounds of Quotient Race from the RS Games book. (She loved this game!) Steady Eddie worked with Lulu on some Beast Academy problems, but I’m not sure what they were. Louise completed lessons 99-101 in RS C. Lesson 99 was all about mental subtraction with trading, which I’ve learned is quite the difficult concept to master. (It helps so much to be on my second trip through early elementary arithmetic!) Now Louise is embarking on a great voyage into the world of multiplication, and if experience has taught me anything, this will be met with much more delight and enthusiasm than was subtraction. Louise’s game of the week was Money War.
Lulu wrote a history narration about Murad and the Ottoman Empire. Louise gave me an oral narration.
We had poetry tea time once this week. I mean, I can’t let an April week pass without it since it’s National Poetry Month, can I?
The DLM enjoyed several preschool activities this week. He is pulling me, ready or not, into preschool. I hope to write up a post about some of the things I’m (reluctantly, if truth be told) doing with him.
On Friday we went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus! Steady Eddie took off work to go with us. We got great deals on tickets ($11 apiece, y’all) and had a fabulous time. I think I enjoyed it as much or more than the kids!
On Saturday I gave our new dining room table its first application of stain. Steady Eddie worked on rearranging the girls’ bedroom again since the loft bed set-up didn’t work out as well as we thought it would.
I’m almost finished with Gone with the Wind. I know. I can’t believe it myself.
This weekend begins our spring break, and not a moment too soon. Steady Eddie has most of the week off, so I’ve reveled in a relaxed Sunday–one not consumed with getting my act together for the rest of the week in addition to church responsibilities.
We spent Friday and Saturday in Nashville at the Teach Them Diligently Conference, though truthfully we didn’t spend all that much time at the actual conference. I’m finding that at this point in my career as a homeschooling mother, I don’t need as many homeschooling cheerleader sessions as I do real, practical sessions on how to teach a certain subject or how to address a certain issue. Unfortunately, those are in short supply at most conferences.
I really wasn’t even tempted by most curricula. I told Steady Eddie that excepting a new level of math for Lulu, I could probably tutor the girls next year with no additional purchases. I’ve been chatting with a friend who partially by necessity follows a rather interest-led approach with her four children. I like the way she does things. I would love to relax a bit in what we do here at home.
We took Lulu, Louise, and Benny with us, while the DLM stayed home with the grandparents.
We spent a disproportionate amount of time at the mall, but that was actually needed, too, because we were able to buy the girls some much-needed warm-weather clothes.
We ate at a new favorite of mine: Firehouse Subs. I ate there for the first time last weekend with my sister and mom on a fun little daytrip we took, so I practically insisted we eat there on our trip to Nashville. The chicken salad there is yummy!
School was done this week, but now it’s not much more than a blur to me. We got in four solid days of lessons–this much I know. I felt like I was limping along since we were taking off Friday anyway and next week is spring break.
I believe we did three days of our new Circle Time materials. (We got to hear the Gettys sing at the conference on Friday night, which was a real treat for us all since we’re memorizing “In Christ Alone” for CT leading up to Easter.)
We’re finally getting close to moving into new materials in FLL 4. I love FLL, but I don’t think Lulu needs quite as much review as is built into it. I’m looking forward to something new for next year.
Both girls worked on measurements in RS Math, only on different levels. It’s sort of neat when it works out that way.
We played math games three days, I believe. Lulu has almost mastered converted from a mixed number to an improper fraction and back again, thanks to a RS game.
On Monday I decided at the last minute to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a little bit of (inauthentic) Irish soda bread (inspired by this post). It was yummy and a good way to inject a little bit of fun into a ho-hum school day.
On Tuesday evening we had our Mother-Daughter bookclub at the library. My girls and I hosted it, and we had fun discussing The Saturdays and enjoying a tea party with our friends. (Stay tuned for my thoughts on this fun story, which I hope to share soon.)
Tuesday night I attended our monthly homeschooling moms’ night out and enjoyed laughing and talking with friends. It was a needed bit of fellowship!
Lulu made the DLM a Superman costume this week. It was so cute! What was very funny was that the DLM insisted that he was wearing a 5, not an S, on his shirt.
Benny has caught a cold or as had a flare-up of allergies, which is quite possible since everything has started blooming all of a sudden. Whatever the cause, it has resulted in a couple of sleepless nights (one of which was in the hotel room in Nashville). I’m going to close this rather jumbled post and head to bed now that all my children are asleep. I have some reading to do!