Sunday, March 9, 2014

Some days are like that...

Somehow it's been five months since I updated this blog.  Since then we've had three black eyes, the Seahawks WON the Superbowl, Grace-girl has grown 3 inches and Baby Rain probably more than that.   We survived the holidays, we survived Snowpocalypse.  We even snowboarded a few times.  It's been a busy season in life.  Spring always brings me back to fresh beginnings.
But I'm feeling a little hung up.  Like this little one.
I'm not interested in blogging about my perfect kids and my perfect life and my perfect husband because there is no such thing.  We all know it.  The reality is that some days piano practice looks like this:

I'm very excited about homeschooling next year, but I'm not sure how we can afford it.  I love teaching my kids everything, but then some days I don't.  Some days I feel as eloquent as Madeline L'Engle or Anne Lamott.  And other days I can't form a proper sentence.  It's just how life rolls.  

What I can do, with no shame, is laugh.  Laugh at myself.  Laugh with my kids at their stupid (that's right, I said stupid) knock-knock jokes.  Like this one:  
"Knock Knock"
"Who's There?"
"Interrupting cow."
"Interrupting cow wh..."

It makes no sense.  But it makes me laugh every time.  And that's good.
This makes me laugh, too.  My warrior-princess-ninja...  She's just too awesome.

So here's my reminder to myself- and to any other wretched soul who's trying to glean wisdom from this blog:  Quit taking yourself so seriously.  Life is hard sometimes.  It really is.  But it's the moments when we laugh, sometimes even at each other, that we will cherish forever.  No one wants to hear about the poop accident your 3 year old had at the play area in the grocery store.  They really don't.  Focus on the laughs.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Summer Learning- the real scoop

Summer learning always begins with lots of great books.
We didn't advance three grades over the summer as I had hoped.  In fact, I think we may have lost some academic ground.  Now that we're in full swing in the new school year I find myself reminiscing about our past summer.  I had big plans, but instead this summer came to be termed "The Summer of Her Boyhood."  Someday I'll write more about that- the idea that there's a special, fleeting time in a girl's life where she is free to just be herself, to be wild and untamed and romp and play to her heart's content.  Grace Girl turned 7 and Baby Rain turned 3 this summer. It was a fantastic, wild romp of a good time.

So, here are a few things the girls learned from our big wild summer:
  • Grace Girl and Baby Rain invested in long-term projects and enjoyed the outcome of hard work.
Playing in the Sunflower House

  •  Sure, she can't spell worth a darn, but check out those waterfall-fairy charming skills!
Hiking at Horsetail Falls in the Columbia Gorge
  •  Maybe Grace Girl's measuring skills are rusty, but she understands "scale" in a whole new way!
Making friends with the Sea Lions at the Oregon Zoo
  • Baby Rain explored the language of math through music and rhythm.
Exploring music, costume and art

  •  We missed some reading lessons, but Grace Girl's learning to communicate in new ways.
  • Found a snake at a wilderness lake on her first backpacking trip

    •  We backed out of gymnastics and didn't do sport camps this summer, but we stayed in shape the old-fashioned way- hiking, running, climbing...what a view!
    • Wilderness wildflower meadow romping near 3 Fingered Jack

      •  Grace Girl learned about physics, gravity and force!
      • Oregon Coast wave jumping
      • Baby Rain deepened relationships with the people that matter most.
        • Beach walking with Daddy
          •  They may be a little wild and untamed- ok, maybe more than a little- and I'm so glad.  May they never forget the wildness of their own souls.
          Wild summer days- camping on the Little Santiam River 
          My prayer for our new year is that each adventure would bring learning, and each cause to learn would be a glorious, swashbuckling, fabulous adventure.  Yes.  I said swashbuckling.  Because it's a great word.  Go ahead.  Say it out loud.  I dare you.

          May the road always rise to meet you...

          Friday, June 14, 2013

          Summer learning begins... with Spelling!

          There will be lots of tree-climbing, too!
          Now that our Grace-girl has officially completed first grade and we've taken a few weeks off, I'm busy planning for our summer work (don't tell her it's work) and even thinking ahead to fall.  Our main shortfall this year was that we didn't focus much on spelling, though we did make major strides in reading and grammar, which will ultimately help with spelling.  This summer instead of working on "writing" we are going to have some spelling fun!  She'll also get some printing practice in there without realizing it, just to keep us going before cursive starts in the fall.

          During the school year we run a fairly classical school, but in the summer I prefer a more organic, Charlotte Mason approach.  We do a lot of gardening, bike riding, hiking and natural observances of the world around us.  We do still accomplish some formal education in the midst of that as I absolutely hate the idea of having to re-teach something we've already learned!  If you add it all up it looks like a lot of school time, but most of this is organic learning time for our whole family.  I imagine we will actually sit down for "school" less than 2 hours a week.

          • Bible Study- The girls and I read a Bible story every morning, discuss, and pray together.  We also work on a new memory work passage every month or so (45 minutes/week).  When Matt is home he joins us or leads us.  Prayer and worship time are also regular moments in our day.
          • Grammar- One lesson per week from our First Language Lessons book, plus review of the first grade memory work (20 minutes/week) so we don't forget!
          • Spelling- One or two lessons per week which will mostly be a review of first grade (20 minutes/week).  See below.  I might just find a cheap summer supplement book to work through to have an end point in sight.  I think this will be a good school activity to take camping.
          • Reading- Our wonderful library's summer reading program will serve as an inspiration and motivation for summer reading (90 minutes/week).   We will also be attending a few of the summer reading program activities (there are many) and regular weekly (or bi-montly) Storytime for Baby Rain.  Our library reading fuels our decisions for other subjects of study and can sometimes lead us to a unit study tangent.
          • Math- we'll be starting Singapore Math in the fall, so we are mostly reviewing and solidifying skills over the summer with a focus on problem solving, critical thinking, measurement and integrating science.  We'll do some flash card work but we also like to include lots of fun games as part of our math time (90 minutes/week).  Some of our favorite math-oriented games are Monopoly, Rummikub and Catan games (Catan Kids, Settlers of Catan and Starship Catan).
          • Science- One weekly nature study using our Anna Comstock (Handbook of Nature Study) and library books (45 minutes). Includes writing practice, drawing and observation in her nature journal.
          • Classical Conversations- It's important to not completely forget everything we learned last year, so we will review cycle 1 memory work during the summer (about 60 minutes/week of mostly auditory practice in the car) but we'll wait to start cycle 2 until we get to September.
          • Art/Music- These occur naturally at our house as we lead worship at church and work with several instruments.  June is a motivated student of drawing and will no doubt fill her time easily with art projects and fun craft projects as the motivation and occasion arrives.  

          In my quest for more spelling practice, I looked for some free online resources and I've listed some interesting-looking ones below.  Do you have others you like to use and want to share?

          Zaner-Bloser- nice printable worksheets to practice writing words.

          TLS- lots of different worksheets on many topics, among which are spelling.  Fun!

          Grade Spelling- this is a fun interactive site for spelling practice.  Not a pressure-cooker, just fun activities and age appropriate spelling word lists.

          Enjoy your summer!  Enjoy learning!  And don't forget to do both at the same time!