5.10.2018

Classic Challenge: True Grit

True Grit was not only a author that was new to me, but pretty much a genre that was new to me. I can't think of another western I've read - ever. My exposure to the idea of a western is limited to the a handful of old John Wayne movies I've seen. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say the portions of those movies I've seen because my dad was watching them and I was around as a kid. I also shelved a lot of westerns when I was a young teen and and volunteered at our local library. But actually read one, nope.

While I can't say that this has turned me into a western novel lover, it was pretty good. I found I had to force myself to pick it up but once I did, I read quite a bit of it before I put it down again. I'm guessing that having a young girl as the main character/narrator is not common in the world of westerns but I liked Mattie and her perspective. I also liked how multi-faceted some of the other characters were. This wasn't necessarily a book with two horse riders, one where a black hat and one a white. But that doesn't mean that it was too grey or that you didn't have people to root for either. While listening to the Close Reads podcast episodes on this book, I realized I didn't catch a lot of the humor at first but I think I started to by the end. And I enjoyed learning a bit more about how the western fits into the history and evolution of American literature.

My biggest issue was lack of caring. The whole story is Mattie's quest to get justice for the death of her father. She recruited some help to track down her father's killer and then its her journey and the lengths that she goes to make that happen. I really wanted to care about that because Mattie did, but in the end, I just wasn't invested.

 Oh, oh, I just realized I was mistaken above. Craig kinda forced me to watch Lonesome Dove miniseries with him (in that, we lived in a teeny-tiny apartment so unless I wanted to hide in the bathroom the whole time, I got to experience it in all its western glory) but I kept making jokes about how everyone was dying (because, seriously, everyone dies!) and he got annoyed. So apathy was a big problem for me with that western too. I admire the Western code of ethics and firm ideals of justice, I just don't have those specific ideals myself and it makes it hard for me to really immerse myself in the story the way I enjoy doing in a book. That's really what I love about books so when its missing I'm just kinda, eh, okay.  But I admit that is my issue and not the books failure. It is well written and I see why it is a favorite of so many people.

True Grit is my Back to the Classics Author that is new to me selection.

5.07.2018

Year 3 Term 1 Exams

Another term ends! No matter how well the term has gone, I always feels completely exhausted by the last week. But I can't skip exams, it's too much fun. These are mostly based on the AO exams found here but I add to them because Lucy LOVES exams. She still says its her favorite part of the year, even more than break! I also changed some things to make them more opened ended or more drawing orientated because she enjoys that and normally follows it up with a great oral narration just by describing what she drew. I try to write those down too but don't always get to it - she talks fast!

In each category, I've also tried to include some of the other things we did for those categories. These are the types of things I've mostly gleaned from other moms here and there, from the forum or blog posts and they seem to be the types of things that moms new to ao are uncertain about so yet it's hard to come up with them when asked. Hopefully it gives you an idea of what we do. Yes, it's mostly read and narrate but not always. 

For a while, we were working on getting shorter narrations in our daily work because she kept trying to get every detail and every exact quote in there and it was stressful for her if I read too long of a passage and not really necessary. So in these exams, I did got some nice succinct answers but then I had to prompt her for more detail! Poor kid is probably thinking "Mom, just make up your mind!" She also started experimenting during our regular narrations with answering in rhyme or poems which was fun but needed to be limited or school would end up taking an extra hour. I'm excited about starting written narrations in a year or so as I think she's take off with them. Beyond the academic side of things, I just love how a child's narrations give me such insight into who they are and how they think and I can't wait to see how Jonah answers the same questions because I know he'll do it in his own unique way as well.  But on to the exams...

BIBLE

What do you know about Moses' babyhood and early life?

He was born in Egypt and the Pharoah said to kill all the baby boys so his mom hide him in the river in a basket and the Pharoah’s daughter found him and he lived with her.

 Tell about Moses and the burning bush, or a story of Moses and Aaron.

So when the Israelites were slaves in Israel, Moses saw a burning bush and the bush said “Take off your sandals for this is a holy place” and the bush said “Go tell Pharoah to set the Israelites free and if he does not say yes then tell Aaron to put his hand over the river and all the river will turn into blood

 Tell about Mary's visit to Elizabeth, or something from Jesus' childhood (i.e. newborn presentation at the temple or being left at the temple later).

So Jesus and his family went to the temple and they went home but Jesus stayed behind but Mary and Joseph thought he was in the crowd and so they left without him but then he wasn’t there so they had to go all the way back. And when they got there he was answering the questions of some wise men and they were surprised. That’s all.

Tell about the healing of the man who came through the roof, or of the centurion's servant.

 Jesus was in a room healing people and doors was crowded and there was no more room for anyone and there was a man who couldn’t walk and there was no room for him to go in so some people took off the tile of the roof and lowered him down that way and Jesus healed him and he got up and walked away. And he was very glad that Jesus did that.

    Writing/Penmanship

 Copy "The queen went stumping along in one shoe of stone and one of skin." In print once and then again with as much transitions (cursive italics) as you know.


History

Can you name the kings and queens we know from Henry VIII on and tell me one fact about each? This is less open ended question than I'd normally ask but I wanted to test "myself" on how well our increased scaffolding was working when it came to history and the timeline and not being confused. I think part of the improvement was that things slow down after the War of the Roses and it's less confusing but the scaffolding did help too. 

Henry VIII – Had a bunch of wives and he kept killing them. And he was not a good king and no one liked him.

His son (I had to reminded her of his name – Edward VI). – I can’t think of anything to say. The book didn’t talk about him much because he didn’t live very long.
Me: Well, that’s something, he didn’t live very long.
Lucy: Oh, yeah, I guess it is. I thought you meant something else about him.

The 10 days queen, Lady Grey Jane (She meant Lady Jane Grey ;-) ) – She was queen for 10 days.

Queen Mary – Bloody Mary. She kept killed everyone.

Queen Elizabeth – People liked her and she was a good queen. 

 What do you know about Martin Luther, or how Elizabeth became a prisoner?

So, there was a plot to take Mary off the throne because no one liked her and she thought Elizabeth her sister was a part of this so she put her in the tower and there was a boy who came and talked to her and she said “I’d rather be a milkmaid than be a prisoner and a princess”. And then she got out of the tower and lived until Mary wasn’t queen anymore.

Tell what you know about the boy king or Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey. She was only queen for 10 days and when they took her up to the tower no one said “Long live Queen Lady Grey, no one wanted her to be queen except the protestant people, the other people were Catholic. But then Mary made her a prisoner and she become queen and everyone wanted her to become queen – but then eventually they didn’t. Eventually they REALLY did not.

Tell about El Dorado or a story about the new world.

I don't remember El Dorado so, uhm, new colonies from France! Some people from France wanted to go to the new world and start colonies so they sent a big ship, well some ships, with food and they set out for the new world. When they got there they started colonies and built that fort called Fort Caroline and although some people started to get sick and they were protestant and they were at war with the Spaniards who were Catholic so they decided. Well, the people that were well decided to go over and fight the Spaniards leaving only the sick at the fort and while they were setting up to do that, the Spaniards went through the grass and went through and said they would conquer the sick people in the fort while the others were gone and that is what they did. And they took over the fort and killed all the French.

Tales

Tell your favorite part of The Princess and the Goblin.

That was one of my favorite books. So Irene was in her room and she was bored and she saw these stairs and went up the stairs and up and up and up and to a room with three different doors. And there was a humming sound from one of the doors and she opened one of the doors and there was an old lady and the lady said “hello Irene, I’m your great great grandmother” and Irene said “What’s a great great grandmother” and the old lady said “It is your father’s mother father’s mother”. I think that’s what she said. So the room was all blue, with blue walls, with a spinning wheel and the old lady was spinning and Irene asked her “what are you spinning” and she said “I’m spinning something for you” and that’s all I remember.

Tell the story of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill.

Paul Bunyan was a giant. And one day some people wanted to clear a space for them to live and to make sure the land was good, he planted corn. And in a few minutes it was taller than Paul Bunyan himself, and he was a very big giant. And so everyone came to see it and they sent a man up except it was so strong, he went up with it and it kept growing and growing so they put a chain around it and they pulled and it got tighter and tighter until it broke. And he had found a blue bull and it was a giant bull but it was small compared to Paul Bunyan so he called it Blue Babe.

We also did picture narrations for each of these stories during the term. Her Stormalong one was my favorite. 


Tell me about your favorite Shakespeare story of this term, either Merchant of Venice or Pericles of this term and draw a picture to illustrate it.



This is my favorite scene of Merchant of Venice. It’s at the end where she dressed up like an advisor and advised them not to kill him and so she saved her husband’s friend’s life.  That’s Portia, does she look like a boy? And she’s smiling and saying “No blood” because he asked for a pound of flesh but you can’t get that without blood. She’s using his own words like “you said this and you can only do that, haha, because that’s what you said”. She’s really smart. And that’s the other guy and he’s stomping his foot. And this guy is crying because he thinks he has to die.

Note to self: Give her a list of names before asking for Shakespeare. There are too many to remember even for me who is who all the time!

Draw a picture of a scene from the life of Perseus. 


She wanted to do too. On top is Perseus's mother and him as a baby (look hard, he's in the boat so you can just see the top of his head) . Below is him flying to fight Medusa.



I didn't get her description of the pictures because she finished it and brought it to me while I was sitting with a toddler in the bathroom - it isn't all tea time and nature walks, real life homeschooling (and potty training) happens here! But I do remember she wanted me to know that she knows that because he's wearing the hat he would be invisible but she still wanted to draw him anyway because it wouldn't be a very good picture if he was invisible. 

Geography

Use your map to show and tell me about Marco Polo's journey to China'

He started at Venice and they crosses the Adriatic sea into the Mediterranean sea to Acre but they hadn’t chosen a pope yet so they went down to Jerusalem to get some special water and went back and then to Turkey and then went back and then back to Turkey with some missionaries because they had chosen a pope. And they went past Mt. Ararat which was supposed to be the place where Noah’s Ark was, still standing there on the mountain, and they went past that to Mosul and to a bigger city which was Baghdad and they followed the Tigris river to the Persian gulf and they landed at Hormuz and went up to Kerman and then back almost across to Mosul to Tehran and then back up again to Balkh and past a bunch, a whole range of mountains and went across to Samarkand to Lop. And past the Gobi desert and came to Campicion and they were almost past Campicion and they had to wait there for a long time because there was a war going on and the war went straight across the path they were going in. But at last it was time to go and they were in China and at last got to Shangdu and to the palace of Kublai Khan!

Here is her map we've been working on. Some of the locations were hard to pinpoint exactly but we're getting the general idea. 


Draw the shape of the earth, and show where the hot countries are and where the cold ones are (three zones)

She did a picture in addition to explaining but I can't find it :-)

Frigid Zones are cold and icy and there are icebergs and it’s all frozen because the Sun. Well, let me show you (gets an orange and a pencil and shows how rays don’t hit straight on) when it tilts away, the earth is away from the Sun so they have one long big day for summer and at winter they have one long big night.

And in the middle zone, the torrid zone, it’s warm and the sun hits directly there and because when the earth is tilted away or towards, either way, the sun always hits so they get lots of sunlight.

And the temperate zones are in between and they have four seasons. And in the winter, it’s tilted away and in the summer its tilted towards.

Map Drill of Asia 

I'm stepping up the difficulty of our map drills this year and we actually practiced it weekly and she did great on this exam version! My husband actually works with maps at his job so I thought it would be fun to see how he did with the same exam question. She got 100%, he missed two which made her smile :-) 

Map drill is another one type of activity I've seen done in a variety of ways but I'm really happy with how ours is going so if people are interested, let me know and I'll share what we do. 



Natural History and General Science

For Pagoo this term, she got a blank book and did a picture narration (after orally narrating it section by section).It was her own idea to do a Pagoo "nature journal" but I I loved seeing her pictures each week. 





I also loved the contrast between these two narrations. The first, while not wrong, was SO short and I was confused because she seemed to really get a lot out of the story each week. But then the second just went on and on! So if you kid is stuck on a question, I guess its good to try asking about the same book/topic in a different way!


  What is plankton?

The Soupy Sea. The little stuff that lives in the water, it’s baby stuff, and Pagoo liked to eat it.
  
Can you tell me about Pagoo’s life so far? Where has he gone or what he has seen?

So when Pagoo was little, he would run around by floating around on the water’s surface and everyone once in a while he molted and got bigger and changed until one time when he changed he got a tail. And his tail didn’t have any protection and he needed to find a shell to take care of himself and he looked for a shell and one day he found one but he jumped out of it because he was so happy and he wanted to show the other one his shell but then that other hermit crab jumped into the shell. And he was so sad he had lost his wonderful fabulous shell that he ran away. And he saw some anemones and they looked like flowers but he saw a snail go by but when it did, it got swallowed up by them and the shell went away and he said “that shell is empty! And now it’s use is for someone else and that someone else could be me!” and so he went down there to try and see if he could get that empty shell. And when he got there, he didn’t only find one shell but he found a whole ton of shells. A ton of shells. And he picked a limpet shell and he was so proud that he had a shell that he sat on a rock. And when he was sitting on the rock he saw a fish and he closed up because he was surprised but when he open up again he saw a piece of steak there but as soon as he cut it up, he did it so well that everyone heard and saw him and everyone came running to get some of the feast but they chased him away running as fast as they could to get some of that delicious meal but he said “how mean they were, it was my feast” and he wished he had picked a shell with a smaller opening and said “as soon as I’m done with this shell, I’ll go get a different shell”

We started writing up very simple lab reports this term which has been fun and really helped cement what we learned. A Drop of Water is also the only book she is reading on her own yet and she loves it. I'm sad there aren't more books like this out there. 



Describe an experiment from A Drop of Water both what you did and what you learned from it.

We put a blue drop of food coloring in a cup of water and we waited and it slowly mixed around, slowly, slowly, slowly. And when we used hot water it went even fast and when we used cold water, it went sl-ow-ly. So the hotter it is, the faster it goes.

Nature Study

 Tell me about how a plant emerges from a seed.

So a navy bean seed, a little bit of its shell cracks open and a flower seed is kind of the same thing and eventually, it cracks open more and more and the roots come out of the navy bean seed, and the flower seed is similar but the shell almost comes off but he roots don’t come out yet. And even later on, the roots have grown almost all the way and even start to go under, deep, deep, deep. And the shell of the bean just comes off and sits there and just decays. And the plant comes up out of the ground and leaves start to grow. 

From earlier in the year when we made those observations:


List three flowers you might find in our yard. Describe/draw one from memory (or all three. She couldn't pick just one so she drew and described all three :-) 

Dandelion – Orangish-yellow and later on they turn into flowers that you can blow. And you can blow the seeds so that become more dandelions.

Dead Nettle – The grow all over our yard and have little purple flowers with heart shaped leaves. And they are very tiny and that’s all.

Another little yellow one that grows in the front yard that – They are little yellow flowers with five petals.

I was surprised because we had actually drawn and watercolored 3-4 different blossoms from our yard but she didn't pick ANY of those for this question. Then I realized that these are the prolific flowers that she and her friends use almost daily when making their "honeysuckle muffins" (aka mud, sand and flowers in an old muffin tin I gave them). A good reminder that formal work is beneficial and I think it does wonders in terms of observation skills but the connections they make in their play might still be stronger. But it did help ensure the next question wasn't too much of a repeat of that one.



Describe your favorite drawing from your nature journal this the last term.

So the daffodil is yellowish-orange and it’s like a cup with other little petals coming out of it, at the bottom, and the top of the cup kinda folds out. And the Easter lily is white. And yellowish in the center. And there are three front petals, inside and three outer petals and the pollen gets smudged very easily and it has long slender leaves. And that’s all about the Easter lily.

Picture Study

  Describe your favorite picture from this term's picture study. 

Pieta or David. Can I describe both? David has slingshot and he’s completely naked. And you can see all his veins and muscles and he looks very realistic. It’s a sculpture. Pieta looks likes it’s inside a closet. And she’s holding Jesus. And her dress looks like it’s actually made of cloth and she’s looking down at Jesus.

Composer 

Can you name our two Composers and tell me the names of some of their works.  We actually just started on Gershwin two weeks ago because they loved Copeland so much. But we'll keep listening to Gershwin over the break, no biggie. 

Copeland - He wrote Billy the Kid and Rodeo and some others..(Jonah – Appalachian Spring!) well, yes, and Quiet City.  

Gershwin – He was a good composer and he composed Rhapsody in Blue and he had a brother which helped him.

Math  - I didn't come up with any questions so I'm just sticking her last review page in her portfolio

Solfa - Similar. We did do it this term but I didn't come up with anything for the exam. 

Handicrafts – No handicrafts. I made an executive decision that I couldn't handle teaching any new handicraft skills until after the baby comes. But both Jonah and Lucy picked up some of their older craft work and made projects in their free time anyway. 

This time, I kept back all the recitation and singing things until the end. I printed her answers above and gathered all the other things I wanted to put in her portfolio to show to her dad and let her do the recitation things to him. I normally do all this but in a more haphazard way and I think having a "term review night" and some set aside time for him to see it all made it a bit more special. 

Recitation
Recite your favorite poem from this term. 

Singing
 Sing your favorite folksong and hymn from this term.

Catechism
Answer the first 7 catechism questions.

Reading Skill
Select a passage for student to read aloud.

Foreign Language/Bible Memory

Recite our school motto in English and in French. (I am a Child of God...)

Recite the bible verses that go with each part of the motto (this part is just in English)

And now, we take May off and Mommy gets to sit on her butt a bit more....I mean, the kids get to play. That's what's important :-)

5.02.2018

And April is Over... a bit of a brain dump

And all I can say about April being over is THANK GOODNESS! Actually, that's not all I can say. But I'll try not to complain too much. Let's just say that the last few weeks of April were crazy. Some good crazy - like our first foster placement came and went. She was a sweetheart and we wished she could have stayed longer but I know she's well taken care of for now and that's what really matters. Foster care really brings a lot of emotions, even when its just short term care, and combine that with pregnancy hormones and you got a lot of emotions flying around.

Most of April was not as good as her stay - a cracked tooth, two episodes of a car dying on the road, a broken dryer, a broken tablet and a hacked debit card. But the tooth was fixed with just a filling and not a crown as I was assuming bc this particular tooth is in bad shape. Even if I need a crown soonish, waiting until I'm not uncomfortable pregnant is better. Craig was a super husband and was able to fix the dryer with an $8 part and some help from youtube (Sidenote: what did car/homeowners do before youtube. It seriously saves our butt so much!). I'm being positive so I won't mention the tablet or the car but I can say that I really love USAA for all my banking needs. It's never fun to be woken up on a Sunday morning being asked about random transactions that don't sound at all familiar but they took care of it quickly and we weren't even late to church.

And now, it's May! The craziness continues but should at least be pleasant craziness. Like American Heritage Girls family camp and the awards banquet and Lucy's first softball game on Saturday and hopefully many picnics and outdoor adventures before it gets too hot for me.

Today was the last day of our regular terms and Lucy loves exams so it feels like our break has already started. Jonah only had two more days of speech and its accompanying out the door by 8:10  requirement. We still aren't sure if he'll be going back in the fall but if he is, I'm definitely requesting we get a later time slot. We actually had a slightly later time for one of our two day each week but I was so prompt on our earlier day and the other child's family wasn't I guess so they asked if we could switch. I was a nice person sucker and said yes. But I draw the line at having to be out of the house that early with a newborn.

Speaking of the newborn, we're actually starting to prepare for a baby. Like the new car seat arrived today. My choice was made up when Target had a car seat recycling even and I was able to get a Chicco KeyFit 30 for about $120. So that's decision is done and I'm happy with it as we haven't ever owned a Infant/Bucket seat before but that is one type that I've used when I've had to borrow one from a friend so I'm familiar with it and I do like it. I'm also working on a moses basket but the liner is giving me a hard time. My attempt to "wing it" kinda flopped so now I gotta go back and actual make a pattern and use it. Ah, so much for attempting the easy way. Other than that, things are cooking along. I'm hoping to beat this anemia soon. My numbers are slooowwwlly creeping up but they are going up. And so is my progesterone! But baby is moving and kicking and in generally making me uncomfortable in that generally reassuring way. The pregnancy brain is real but since I wrote this whole post, I guess I still have a few brain cells left to focus when I need to. We'll see if they survive until August :-)

4.14.2018

Holy Week Photo Dump

It just seems wrong to have the words Holy and Dump in the same sentence. Back in the day I used to do posts about each of our adventures. I seem to have trouble fitting that type of blogging in these days but this blog is also a sorta scrapbook and I like those memories being saved. So I'm trying just to dump a bunch and write about it. Some of this will be repeats if you follow me on instagram. 

For Holy Week, we did our regular family seder dinner with the kids helping me make matza. After using the same recipe for the last 6 years but never actually writing in down, the blog that held it disappeared and I was left scrambling. But I managed to find the ingredients list on another blog and I knew enough of the directions to make it work. So for next year, here's my version based on the one that used to be on the Tammy's Recipe's blog:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey/sugar
2 t salt
3 eggs
1.5 cups water
6-6.5 cups flour (I've used all purpose and whole wheat but normally use a mix)

Combine everything but flour. Slowly add flour until its soft and smooth and slightly sticky (don't overflour). Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with salt and roll one last time to make salt stick.  Poke with a fork a few times, cut into rectangular-ish shapes and transfer to a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 7-12 minutes. 






We also colored eggs the night before since we needed hardboiled eggs for the dinner. We did a marbalized technique where we added a bit of oil to the dye for a second dip and I really did not confident but it worked really well. Which of course meant sad kids the next day when I insisted we actually crack and eat them - even after Jonah had given each of his an individualized name! What can I say, I'm a cruel mother. 

The dinner itself went great. We upgraded to an actual script this year after just reading the bible and talking about them the last few. It was a short script but just enough to for the kids to get a bit more. And Norah was adorable because as soon as we sat down she kept asking "what is dat?" and "oh, and what is dat?" 






Good Friday we did a Good Friday nature walk that a local homeschool mom had set up. Despite the rainy cold days before and after, that Friday was actually nice out and the path was dry enough (although I made my kids all wear ALL THE RAIN GEAR just in case). And I actually took my good camera. Although that came back to bite me. The event had several stations that held signs and props with the bible story of Easter and we made story rocks at each. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again next year. And we had never used story rocks before but my kids have already asked if we can get paint pens and make more. 








Picnic fun with homemade leftover matza "lunchables"

But after using my good camera, I forgot to charge the battery. So I got a few Easter pictures at home that were too dark. Then I moved the kids to a better spot only to have Jonah accidentally elbow Norah in the eye as he sat down. So no good pictures then and my camera was flashing its battery warning at me. So I thought I'd just charge the battery while we finished getting loaded up for church and then I'd take some at church in our fancy new foyer. Except I'm sure you can see where this is going. I get to church, no battery. It's charging in the outlet right by our door, where I "wouldn't be able to forget it." So the one year I actually make sure the kids have cute Easter outfits, I have no camera! I took a few with my phone but Jonah and Norah are so bouncy its hard to get a non-blurry shot of them. I mean, Jonah tries so hard but he just doesn't get the concept of NOT MOVING. And Norah was looking at everyone BUT me. 







There, got one!


But all in all, a good week for celebrating our Lord and Savior!

4.05.2018

Classic Challenge: The Secret Adversary

I've read lots of Agatha Christie but never any of the Tommy and Tuppence series. The Secret Adversary is the first in that series and I do hope to get my hands on more.

It seems a bit less intense and something else that I'm having a hard time putting a finger on, maybe less, philosophical, than some of her others reads. By that I mean that a book like Murder on the Oriental Express has you thinking not just about details of the crime and the characters inner thoughts and motives but then also bigger ideas of justice and revenge. This is not like that. It's fast and snappy and a lot of fun. But it's still very clever and of course, excellent writing. It sucks you right in. Then there is the great twist. And while I do love Dorothy Sayers, I never really feel like I have a chance at actually figuring those out. Lord Peter is just much smarter than me. Maybe I've got a bit of change with Poirot or Miss Marple but it's a stretch. But here, I did pretty well without feeling like the answer was too obvious and contrived - maybe Tommy and Tuppence are more of my intellectual equivalents. I love mysteries so I'll take them on all levels.

The Secret Adversary is my Back to the Classics Challenge Crime Story. Check out more Crime stories over at Books and Chocolate. Since this is one of my favorite genres, I'm sure I'll be reading all the reviews for more books to add to my stack!