Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everything

So sorry that I haven't been posting, lately. I've been desperately trying to finish my Christmas quilts (9 of them) and nope, they're not going to get done. The girls' quilts are finished, but 3 of the guys' need to be quilted and they all need to be bound. So, they'll have to give them back to me to finish. Oh, well.
On to news....
Gabriel is very busy working on his fine motor skills coloring and writing letters for Christmas. Since he hates to do both, I can only encourage this. Other than this and hit and miss work, we're laying off school until January. He is growing like a weed and Gary keeps putting his pants in my closet. This wouldn't be such a big deal if they weren't too small for me around the waist and rear. His legs are only 2 inches shorter than mine (maybe not that much) and I have long legs for a 5'4" woman. My legs are the same length as Gary's, so Gabriel is going to take after my side of the family in that regard. I have a feeling he's going to be a lot like my brother, Frank, who had a 36" inseam (I think) and a 26" or 28" waste. Just try finding pants like that! Also, he was only 5'9". So, as you can see, he was all leg. As am I at 5'4" with 30" legs.

Xavier is doing really well. After they casted his arm, his pain virtually disappeared. He was still having some pain at night (especially after getting his flu shot!), but now that is gone, too. We just have to deal with the itching, now. He should get his cast off on Jan 7. He is ornery as usual and fortunately today was a nice day so he could get outside. I also made cookies this week. Xavier doesn't really like cookies, but he loves cookie dough. When I gave him some dough, he gave me a huge hug and said, "I love you, Mom" all sappy like. I love this kid. I soooo get him!

Dominic is doing something that really amuses me. While Xavier and Gabriel look at letters and say, "That is the letter k and it makes the /k/ sound." When I ask Dominic what a letter is (which he's known since he was 2), he'll say "That's the letter /k/". I find this humorous and wonderful at the same time. The reason I find it wonderful is because he still knows the names of the letters, but he is not seeing them as names anymore, but rather as sounds. He is pretty much teaching himself to read and that is a good thing. Dominic also thinks that he needs to eat a dozen cookies a day. So, I've got him on a strict regimen. Basically it goes like this. Since I only make cookies once a year, I let him have cookies whenever he wants them--as long as he's still eating breakfast, lunch, and supper.

Gary is going to his last big school in April. It is in Ft Walton Beach, FL and is 3 months long. So, instead of going to the indoor water park that we had planned to in Jan, we're going to go spend a month with him in FL. We're very excited about this. I've got my eye on a condo by the beach and am just waiting to hear back about our reservations! Yippee. Now, if I can just find someone to come stay in my house while I'm gone to take care of the cats.....

Monday, December 17, 2007

You Are a Cranberry and Popcorn Strung Tree

Christmas is all about showcasing your creative talents.
From cookies to nicely wrapped presents, your unique creations impress everyone.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Our Decision to Homeschool

Our decision to homeschool was a very difficult decision to make. I know that some of you do not like the fact that we have decided this. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I would like to make some things clear about why we have made this decision. I hope that you take the time to read this with an open mind and heart.


Since I am trying to limit this blog to actual activities in our homeschooling life, I am posting this on my other blog. However, since I do think that it is relevant, I am posting a direct link to it here. To read this post, click here.

Saturday's Excitement!

So, Friday night at the ER, it somehow got passed over that it was Xavier's upper arm that was hurting. So, they failed to take x-rays of his upper arm. Saturday morning, his upper arm was still hurting enough to have break through pain. This is pain that is consistent even though he was on codeine. So, we went back to the ER. Now... let me tell you the story.

First of all, I slept like a rock Friday night. It's a good thing Gary was home. I know that if he hadn't been, I wouldn't have slept at all, but since he was, I slept almost all the way through the night. Xavier, however, did not. Apparently, codeine wakes him up. He has this problem with most medications that make other people sleepy. Benadryl sends him through the roof. So, here he was in pain and wide awake. Poor kid. Then, in the morning, he was in too much pain to eat. So, we went back to the ER.

When we got to the ER, they were very busy. We sat in the waiting room for 2 1/2 hours. They just didn't have any beds available. Finally, we got back there and they did some more x-rays. Now, it was about 12:30 at this time. After they did the x-rays, the doctor said something to the effect of, "This is very interesting." Now, when the doctor is looking at x-rays of your child's broken arm, interesting is not what you want to hear. Anyway, the doctor seemed to think that Xavier's growth plate had slipped. So, they sent us to the children's hospital in Louisville.

Xavier was not allowed to eat until the orthopedist had a look to make sure they didn't need to sedate him. Oh, if only they had sedated him! Xavier is a bear when he doesn't eat on a regular basis--every 2 seconds. Korsair's Children's Hospital was packed. So, Xavier spent the next 5 hours griping at everyone he saw about wanting to eat.

We had more x-rays taken. This also made Xavier unhappy. They had to move his arm to do this and it hurt. Then, the doctor imparted more good news. Xavier's growth plate hadn't slip, his shoulder is just abnormal. That's just the way he has grown. Okay, thanks.

Then, the doctor wanted to rearrange Xavier's arm to resplint it. Apparently, the reason for his continued pain was the position they had splinted his arm in. Now, it is his humerus bone that is broken, right in the elbow, straight through the bottom of the bone. So, it was pretty painful for the doctor to move it. I think that if Xavier knew how to curse, he would have been cursing that doctor up and down. Instead he screamed at her and told her that she was a "meanie". I felt so bad for him. It would have been much easier for him if he just would have relaxed while the doctor was doing it, but he was stiff as a board. We could not get him to relax. So, that's it.

Today, he's still grouchy, but with his arm in this new position, he's feeling much better. It doesn't hurt him near as bad. Plus, he's eating on a regular basis. And, I took him off the codeine and put him regular Tylenol, which means he got a pretty good night's sleep.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday's Excitement!

This morning, we all slept in. It was dark outside... So, we barely made it to the Glassworks Factory on time. It was a lot of fun!
Then, we came home and Xavier promptly (okay, 3 hours later) fell off the back of couch and broke his arm. They splinted it and we'll go to an orthopedic doctor on Monday for a cast. Joy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Dilemma named Gabriel

Gabriel presents me with a dilemma. Here is the dilemma I have been faced with as his teacher.

Gabriel has an amazing brain. I just sit and marvel at him. I want him to continually challenge that brain. I have noticed over the last two years that his vocabulary has not grown much. I put that down to the fact that he has not been reading as far ahead as he had been. His school actually limited his ability to check out books to the books in his grade level and below. He was fine with this and since he was already doing a ton of homework, I did not want to add to it. I did occasionally, but not often.

So, now, as his teacher, I have the primary responsibility of balancing challenge and fun. I understand that he needs to be challenged. I also want him to read for fun. I know that he will always read for fun because he loves it so much. However, when he chooses his own books, he tends to read the same ones over and over (I do, too, so I do understand this). Anyway, I don't want him to miss out on all those great "5th" grade books just because his reading ability is on a high school/college level.

I have compromised. The first solution I found was to create two reading times for him. During the school day, Gabriel has an "assigned" reading time and a "free" reading time. During the assigned reading time (60 min.), he reads what I tell him to (Mara, Daughter of the Nile). Then, I have a set of books set aside for him to read during his free reading time. He can read any of them and if he reads for a full hour and just does not like the book, he doesn't have to continue it the next day. After all, it is free reading. The free reading just has some limits. The second solution I have come up with happened this week when he finished The Iliad. I decided to give his brain a week's break, so we dropped back to his age level reading. Next week, we'll pick it back up. I've decided to combine the two solutions. We're finding it works. Gabriel loves to read, so reading for 2 hours a day is really not enough for him. He usually spends at least another hour reading whatever he wants to.

Checkers


So, today, I told Gary that Xavier was feeling lousy. Was Gary concerned? Oh no! He said, "Oh, maybe I'll be able to whip him at checkers, tonight."


Xavier has been totally whipping Gary. And yes, Gary did manage to win. Of course, Gary puts it down to "taking a totally new posture" and "throwing him off". Uh huh. Sure....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What We're Doing This Week

Dominic... he's still stuck on the letter F and the number 5. We only do preschool when Dominic wants to. My basic preschool philosophy is this. Preschoolers should play hard. Any "work" they do should be voluntary. So, when Dominic wants to "do" preschool, we do. When he doesn't want to "do" preschool, we don't. Lately, he hasn't wanted to, so, we haven't. He's still learning how to read--on his own. I've started a formal phonics program with him, but I've put it on hold for a while. I may start it back up in January, but I haven't decided yet. In the meantime, when he wants to do math, I sit with him and work on Math-U-See. It's a first grade math program. He's ready for it, but his writing skills just aren't up to speed. Also, I see no point in rushing him. I figure he'll probably finish it about half way through Kindergarten. The same is true of the phonics program. When he wants to color, I let him. When he wants to do puzzles, I let him. Etc.

Xavier... he's working on subtraction. He's 7 lessons away from the end of his 1st grade math. I guess I better order the next book. I've actually slowed him down. I don't plan on him starting the 2nd grade book until January. I want him to play with the math he's doing now, for a bit. He's about halfway through his phonics program. When he finishes it, he'll be done with formal phonics instruction. I plan to finish it by the end of May. We are two chapters away from the end of The Odyssey. Xavier is pushing me to finish it. We will tomorrow. Then, we'll have to start something new. I'm trying to decide between Little House in the Big Woods and The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War by Emily Little. Our educational philosophy is to follow the timeline of history we are studying. This year, we are studying ancient history, so we should be reading books dealing with ancient history. But, he's been wanting to read Little House in the Big Woods, so we may deviate from the plan for a few weeks. In grammar, he is studying nouns. He likes grammar because it is almost exclusively oral, at this point.
He is studying food in science, this week. We will learn about food chains and I am planning to let him watch (gasp) the Magic School Bus food chains movie.

Gabriel... He finished The Iliad yesterday. His review? It was interesting, but he didn't really like it because it was too bloody. Today, we started reading Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. I say we because I read ahead of him at night, then he catches up during the day. I try to do this with all his books, but I fell behind with The Iliad. Okay, fine. He outpaced me early on because I kept falling asleep while I was reading it. Now that he's done, I'm just not going to try to finish it. It's not one of my favorites. I'll read it when Xavier gets to it. The way we do literature for Gabriel is this: we read, then we discuss, then we read, then we discuss. When we finish the book, he writes a summary. If the book is a "great work", he also looks up some info on the author and writes a brief summary about the author.
I started supplementing his math this week. He is studying fractions. We use Math-U-See for our main math program. It is a very good program and I am very happy with it. It works well for all our children. However, he is half-way through his book, and I found a really fun book called Life of Fred by Stanley F Schmidt, Ph. D. This is math in story form. Since Gabriel loves to read, I thought it would be fun for him to use this book. He started it on Monday. I've read through it, and think that all people learning fractions should try this book out. It does help Gabriel to want to do math because it is a very silly and fun book. Anyway, we will go back and forth between it and MUS.
Gabriel is also studying nouns, right now, in grammar. I find this a bit humorous.
He is studying sea weed. Gabriel loves everything ocean, and enjoys doing experiments, so this is a lot of fun for him. He doesn't enjoy doing the summaries and experiment write ups that he has to do, but oh well!

Today, we studied Hammurabi and the Babylonians and on Thursday, we'll study the Assyrians. Usually, we only study one a week, but Gabriel is a week ahead of us, so Xavier has to "catch" up. We like to study the same things at the same time. This way, Gabriel gets to listen to the story that I read to Xavier. They all get to color a picture. They all do the same black line map. Xavier does his extra reading. Xavier does his narrations (he tells me what he learned and I write it down). Then, Gabriel goes off and does a ton more work. He does his own reading on the subject. Does an outline of the subject matter. Does more outside reading, then does summaries of that reading. He also has a dateline that he keeps up to "date". This week, they are also building a ziggurat out of Legos. I'll post a picture after they finish it.

Tomorrow, we are going to see a play! "Rudolph" is its name. On Friday, we are going to the Glassworks Factory. We will be taking a tour, then Gabriel will get to blow his own Christmas ornament. We are very excited about this. I'll post pictures as soon as I take them!

Thursday night is our pack meeting and Xavier will be getting his bobcat badge. Sunday is Gabriel's orchestra concert. Since we are such a small orchestra (there are 8 students in the beginning orchestra and 5 in the regular), we are going to hold our concert at a nursing home. I love this idea. The residents will love our students and our students will love how appreciative they are. It's a win-win.

That's all for now. Have a great week!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Activities

So, during November, we went on several field trips and to several "activities". So, here are some pictures of our "socializing" opportunities.

First, we went to a new get-together opportunity. Every month, we'll get together with other homeschoolers at a local community center and the kids will play. In November, they made "goo" and learned to play pool.

Then, that same week, we went to a Shakespeare workshop. This was held at the Derby Museum. The workshop was split into 2 age groups. While one group was doing their workshop, the other toured Churchill Downs. Very cool! It was a ton of fun. The kids "did" The Tempest. It was so much fun. The pictures that I have are from Xavier's group. Dominic and I stayed with that group. I should be getting pictures from Gabriel's group from one of the other moms, but I won't post them.

Thanksgiving




These are pictures from Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving, we had my mom, my nephew (7), my mom's brother, my mom's sister, my cousin (14), and my other cousin (6). It was a BLAST! Thanks for coming guys! Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kid Quote of the Day

Dominic said to me, "I'm not your baby anymore, Mom! I'm a kid! I've got my OWN life!" What???!!! He's only 4! And, he'll ALWAYS be my baby!

So, how did he get from this...
to this?

Friday, November 16, 2007

We have a Winner....

Last night (Nov 15th) was the Cub Scout Cake Bake-Off
Here was our entry.



Can you figure out that it is the Liberty Bell?

Gabriel won.....

Most Patriotic Cake! Way to go, Gabriel!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Supper on a Pirate Ship












So, Gabriel built a pirate ship, today. I had to take a lot of pictures. He is very proud of it! He even cleaned off his reading lamp so that he could replace it with the pirate ship. Guess I'll have to put a shelf in his room. (Click on any picture to enlarge it!)



Then, Dominic made dinner for us. He made meatloaf. Seriously, he did all the dumping, stirring, breaking eggs, and patting into the pan. The only things he didn't do were measure the oatmeal and put it in the oven! It was the best meatloaf I've had in a while! I think because we cooked it in the mini loaf pans, so it had more cheese in it than usual. Notice the pajamas? Dominic is going through a clothing strike.




















So, here is the recipe. We got it from Gary's mom. Thanks Mom! It is our favorite meatloaf.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix 1 to 1 1/2 lb hamburger
Diced onion (tonight we used onion flakes)
1 to 2 cans tomato sauce (Unless you want it to REALLY juicy, I recommend 1)
1/3 to 1/2 cup oatmeal (I always use more.)
salt
pepper
1 egg


Pat half of mixture into loaf pan, place slices of cheddar cheese on mixture. Pat rest of mixture into loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour.

Pachelbel Bedtime

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Weekend

Okay, so, basically, I took a bunch of pictures this weekend and wanted to share them. So, here goes.So, first, the kittens. I caught Sasha (on the right) and Ron (on the left) cuddling the other day. I thought they looked adorable.
Dominic's Spider! He loved making these legs and I've found them all over the house as he does arts and crafts on his own.
Dominic in his new favorite "outfit", pajamas and rain boots!
Some of the plants that I finally got around to repotting. They are from Papa's funeral and were trying very hard to die out there on the deck.
The little doggie in this picture is a hotly contested family "heirloom". We, apparently, all remember it from our childhood at my Nonnie's (grandmother) house. It has at least 5 layers of paint and weighs a ton. I packed it in my luggage after Nonnie's funeral and took it home with me. It was worth it. I have such fond memories. Of course, within 2 days of it being in my home, all 3 of my children had smashed toes with it! Oh well.
This owl was playing coy with us.
We got half a dozen shots of him looking away from us before we got this one:

At which point, he was finished posing for us and took off, much to my children's delight!

So, that's it! Hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

School This Week

Here's what the boys are doing, this week.



Dominic's week is brought to you by the letter F and the number 5! The theme for the week is farms with the vocabulary word being field. His song is Farmer in the Dell and his shape the rectangle. His poem is Five little Speckled Frogs. His character trait is Friendly. In science, he will learn about ferrets. In art, he will make a flag.



Our weekly schedule goes according to the board! On Tuesday, we replace everything on the left and reiterate everything on the rest of the board. On Wednesday, we replace everything in the second row and reiterate everything on the rest of the board.... etc. I don't take everything off the board on Friday, but rather just leave it up until we get to that thing the next week. This means that he "studies" everything for a week. To find out more about this program, visit Letter of the Week.



Xavier is reading like a maniac. Every time I look up, he's reading a different book. We are still doing phonics, because I want him to have a really thorough grounding when he gets to more difficult vocabulary. We are taking a break from Math-U-See this week to study money. Today, we spent 15 minutes on coin counting and he's got it down. So... I guess we'll have to go back to Math-U-See tomorrow! LOL He is frantic for me to finish reading The Odyssey.



Gabriel is sick. He has vertigo. So, basically, he is reading. He read The Farmer Boy today. He is also reading whatever else he wants to. Yesterday, he was fine, so he did his regular school work right up until I split my head open on the desk hinge. After that, he spent the rest of the afternoon checking my head and taking care of his brothers. He was a really great help. In math, he is studying the greatest common denominator for fractions. He is enjoying math again for the first time in 4 years and says he's getting his "math brain" back! Thank you, Math-U-See! Thank you, LaDonna, for recommending it.



I am playing catch-up on Gabriel's reading. He's about 300 pages ahead of me in The Iliad, so I'm trying to catch up. We like to discuss the book as he's reading it. For a funny realization about his chauvinistic tendencies (which, I, by the way, approve of), you can read this post from my soapbox. It is in no way political. I am also trying to finish painting X&D's room. I've gotten the base up for the tank. Here's a picture.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Painting

We're (read I'm) painting Xavier and Dominic's room. Now, let me tell you the background on their deco theme. A couple years ago, Xavier, then 4, told me that he wanted me to paint his room as an ocean. At that time, I had just finished painting Gabriel's room as a jungle, so I was picturing an ocean with fish, sharks, octopus...

So, my mother-in-law found some room-darkening fabric and made X & D curtains with fish on them. Xavier threw a huge fit! Why? He didn't want fish in his ocean! WHAT? What are you talking about?

Apparently, he had gotten the idea of having an ocean when we went for a tour of the USS Barry, a destroyer, and toured the Navy Museum in Washington D.C. What I found out is... He doesn't want the ocean, he wants the Navy!
So, now, two years later, I'm finally getting around to painting their room. Of course, I did know that we would be moving, I just didn't know when, which is why we waited.

So far, I have the sky, and the Haze Grey color of an F-14 and an Amphibious Ship painted. No detail and no ocean.

We're using an amphibious ship because they want to have Marines fast-lining (is that right, Gary?) out of a helicopter onto a beach. They told me that an Aircraft carrier (our original plan) would run aground with a beach so close by. So, we have an amphib. I am painting the amphib going into one corner with the end open onto the other wall with a tank rolling off. I DO NOT have the tank roughed in, yet.

We are going to hang their GI Joes (which they RARELY use) from the ceiling attached to parachutes. I'm going to try to get this all done before Thanksgiving, but I'm not optimistic.


This is the amphib picture I'm working off of.





Here are the two pictures of the roughed in jet and amphib.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween











Okay, here are the pictures!!!
For the first time in family history, somebody wanted to be the bad guy. In fact, they all wanted to be bad guys. Usually they scream at each other saying, "I'm not gonna be the bad guy!" So, for a change, they were all villains. Batman's foes in the form of The Joker, The Riddler, and Two-Face. I have to say that I am really proud of these costumes. Not only are the kids adorable, but everything was made by me without a pattern! The only exceptions on the pattern front was Gabriel's tie and Xavier's bow tie. Also, Gabriel's pants and all of their white shirts were things we had around the house.




Xavier as the Joker and Dominic as Two-Face







Gabriel as the Riddler

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Going to Maine











So, yesterday, Gabriel and Xavier left for Maine to visit Gary's parents. They've done this before. Gabriel's gone twice and Xavier once. So, this is my third time sticking my kids on an airplane alone. Actually, them flying alone doesn't really bother me. I put them on the plane on this end and when they arrive at their destination, their grandparents take them off. Since they are only allowed to take direct flights, there's small chance of them getting lost in the shuffle. The only concern there is if their flight had to be redirected. If that happened, I would hop in the car and go get them. Plus, I know people that live in most major cities that would be more than willing to go get them until I got there. So, that's not really an issue for me.

However, I will miss them. I always do. Yes, I enjoy the break. I do enjoy my children, though. This year, especially. Gabriel and I have reached a point in our relationship that is really fun. We can actually discuss things logically. Gabriel has always had the ability to throw out an amazing amount of information. Now, he can debate that information. It's a lot of fun. Xavier is a cuddle bug. I'll miss his little body curled up next to mine tonight while I'm watching the game.

But, in the interest of my children being able to spend one-on-one time with their grandparents, I'm willing to give them up for a week.

Here are some pictures of them leaving. Xavier is the one with pink hair. Gabriel has red streaks. They did that in support of the Red Sox! Dominic wanted to go, too. So here he is trying to see if he will fit in the overhead compartment as Gabriel's carry on.

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