Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Last Days of Summer Vacation

Summer vacation has lasted less than a month. I had not planned to start school until the day after Labor Day. But, we're going to a 4-H camp for homeschoolers the week before our first planned break, so we're starting a week early. We're all mostly okay with this.

Here are some pictures of what has been going on around here (besides the nasty head cold sent from Maine. Thank you very much, Mom!)

Last week, we went for a playdate to a state park. There is a creek there and the boys had a blast. The picture of Xavier had a bunch of other kids in it, but it was all of their backsides (all girls) in bathing suits and I decided I wasn't going to post that. Xavier had sooo much fun playing with three of the girls. First, he played with some of them moving rocks out of the creek. Notice that the creek is rock. Then, he spent some time 'fencing' with one of the other girls. Come to find out, he thought he was fencing with someone else, but he had a lot of fun.

This is what Gabriel does. He thinks. He did go down the 'waterfall' on an inner tube a couple times and he did play in the water for about an hour. The rest of the time, he spent talking to himself.

Dominic was exhausted by the time we left. I was completely surprised that he didn't fall asleep on the way home. He played, and played, and played. Now, he's asking to get together with some of the girls he played with (our group is a little girl heavy right now). I'm all for it.

Last weekend, Gary and the boys tore up the rest of the carpet in the new school room (used to be our guest bedroom/sewing room). We haven't refinished the floor,yet. Nor have we painted the walls, which as you can see, will have to be done. Most importantly, we haven't moved any shelves or desks in there. So, we'll be starting school in the dining room.
After tearing it up, it had to be taken to the curb, so away the boys went with it. It took a lot of team work, but they got it. Did you notice that Xavier isn't wearing a shirt? He's taken to doing that a lot. I asked him why and he replied, "I'm a man and that's what men do." Interestingly, Gary almost always wears a shirt.

These are pictures of Dominic doing 'hard time'. You'll notice in the next picture that he is wiping his hands. He's a little fanatical about that. In fact, I'm surprised he didn't have the hand sanitizer down there with him.

The Prisoner

The Warden

The Guard Cat

This is a picture of the septic guys digging up our yard. But, what is significant to me is the fact that it is also a picture of Xavier and Dominic rethinking their career goals to include operating heavy machinery.
Dominic learned how to swing while he was in Maine. I'm guessing that anyway. When he left, he didn't know how and when he came back, he did. Anyway, since then, he's spent hours on the swing. Prior to him learning how to swing, he was quite terrified of swinging and refused to let us push him on the swing. I think he felt out of control. Which, of course, he was.
Xavier, who loves to swing, and always has, has evolved his swinging habits. No more sitting down on a swing for him. It's all standing, all the time. I'm not surprised. He's not a gentle person. He's all about the excitement. Which is why we're trying to figure out how to install a swing similar to his cousin's. It is attached to the top of two very tall trees and goes very high in the air. He loves it. Of course, we'd have to start pushing him again. Hmmmm, maybe that's not a great idea after all.

This is Xavier doing his new favorite activity. Unfortunately, I think it's giving him headaches. He's been complaining about headaches and he's been reading A LOT. When we had his eyes checked last year, we were told he has a slight astigmatism and we should keep an eye on it, but not be concerned. Maybe I should get his eyes checked again. It could also be that it isn't easy for him to read and he is struggling to do it, which could cause a different kind of strain.

Finally, I wanted to show you the war that happened in my living room. When the boys start making paper airplanes, I do not get excited. They have to make approximately 100 and they, of course, multiply when I'm not around. But, apparently, these were Japanese planes because they kamikazed in my living room before being disposed of in the trash can. Ah.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Fun Video--Pictures Tomorrow

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gifted in Crime

My children are gifted. I know this. Gabriel is gifted at reading. Xavier is "gifted" at math. And Dominic, well, Dominic is just a well rounded kid.

But, Saturday, we found out depths in Dominic we didn't know existed. He is gifted in crime. When he decides he is going to throw rocks at cars, he doesn't pick just any old car. He picks the local police cruiser. Ah, what a wonderful thing.

After the policeman (who was very nice about the whole thing) left, Gary got Dominic out there doing hard time. He had him working on a chain gang. You see, the septic guys had just left and they left a bunch of rocks in our yard. Gary had Dominic moving all the rocks from the yard to the ditch. It was a beautiful thing. Dominic was duly remorseful and, hopefully, his crime spree is at an end.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When Will Summer End?

Yes, I know that I just posted about the end of school. And, I'm thankfull, right now, that school is not "in session". We are all sick. Xavier brought home a cold from Maine, and promptly passed it on to everyone else. It seems to be hitting Gabriel the worst, but since I've been up since about 2:30, I'd say that I'm not fairing well, either. I really just don't want to go back to bed and bother Gary. I know my tossing and turning was waking him up.

Anyway, we're ready to start school again, on some levels. There is a certain amount of boredom involved in being sick. You don't feel like playing and your mom won't let you just watch T.V. all day. I can tell Gabriel is really sick because he doesn't feel like reading. Poor kid. Plus, Xavier is starting to feel better, which means the house is getting noisy again and driving everyone else nuts. Dominic is only mildly ill, which means his throat hurts, but not enough to make him be quiet. I even heard him talking to the cats this morning at about 3:45.

Anyway, I am so excited about all the new things we're going to be learning about this year. We are studying the middle ages. I have added American History to the mix. Hopefully in a way that won't mess up the timeline in the kids' brains. We're doing unit studies for American History. I've got 6 planned for Gabriel. Xavier and Dominic will join in on some of them to a lesser degree. Here's what we've got:

Elections (We'll be studying this first, for obvious reasons!)
The American Revolution
The Bill of Rights and The Constitution
The Presidents
Westward Expansion

The Elections study will include books about elections. We'll also work in the elections. We're already getting the kids involved in campaigning (an important part of elections). I want to introduce polling.

The American Revolution study will mostly be books. I want to use both primary and secondary resources to provide a good illustration of how the revolution came about and what it meant to our country and the world at that time.

The Bill of Rights and The Constitution study will be an intense study of both these documents. It will include discussion and debate about Supreme Court rulings. I fully expect some of the debates to get heated. One of my favorite things about Gabriel is that he doesn't just bow down and accept what someone tells him. He thinks for himself.

The Government unit will include studying how our government is set up. It will cover the three branches of government and the difference between states' rights and federal rights. It will also include a trip to the state capital. We know one of our state congressmen. Unfortunately, Gabriel will not be old enough to page until next year. However, we've been told to let them know when he's old enough so that he can go do that. He will love that. Gabriel's very much into politics.

The Presidents study will be different for the younger two than for Gabriel. For Xavier and Dominic, it will include a broad introduction to various presidents. Perhaps I will have them memorize the first 20 presidents in order. I'm not real sure what I'm going to do with them, yet. It will include lots of biographies, coloring, maybe some lapbooks... Gabriel wants to study some of the more obscure presidents. He knows a lot about the presidents already. He has his favorites (namely Abraham Lincoln), but he has always been fascinated by the presidents. While there is a lot written about the more famous presidents, there is less about the more obscure ones. He wants to dig for information about those presidents. So, I'll probably have him pick 6 presidents and do a research paper on each. He enjoys doing that kind of writing, even though he hates all other kind of writing. Go figure.

I am most excited about our last unit study. Gabriel will be studying the Westward Expansion through Louis L'Amour books. Specifically, we'll be following the Sackett family through history. This should be a lot of fun and will bring the "old west" to life for us. One of the good things about this is that the "curriculum" is already written for me. Louis L'Amour wrote The Sackett Companion. It's basically a research tool for the Sackett books. For each books, he includes all historical characters mentioned. He gives a bit of background information, etc. This will be a useful tool for doing more research behind the books. So, for instance, in the first book, Sackett's Land, L'Amour talks about Shakespeare, various pirates, and the fens of England. In The Sackett Companion, L'Amour gives background information on each of these things, plus points out which characters are real historical figures. This helps a novice in the world of historical fiction.

For Xavier and Dominic, we're going to finish reading the Little House on the Prairie series. Since he didn't finish reading Farmer Boy last year, we'll start with that and work our way through the rest of the books. We'll do projects and map their progress across the country. Since Laura's Pa had a "wondering" foot, we'll get to see a lot of the United States in the progress. Plus, Xavier should be able to empathise with Laura, since both his parents have wondering feet.

So, that's our American History plans for the year. Do you have any questions? Do you have any suggestions? Do you know of something or some book that I just have to include in my plans? Let me know! I'm always open to suggestions!


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