Monday, September 28, 2015

{This and That}

Well, we are finished with Term 1, and so far so good!  My new narrator started out a bit shaky but has shown great improvement over the past month, my Year 4 students are rising to new academic challenges, and my kindergartener's only complaint is for me to do math and reading every day with him rather than just twice a week each.  We are still on track with the overview I posted at the beginning of the year, so I haven't had to make many adjustments to our plans yet.

But I have made adjustments to our daily schedule--or at least how often we use it!  When we're home, our daily schedule is working wonderfully.  But with three days out of the house each week (plus another morning consumed by piano and art lessons), I am having a difficult time fitting in all I need to do.  So it's not so much changing that schedule as relying on our weekly checklist more than our daily schedule for the time being.  We're getting things smoothed out as I get used to more car-schooling and weekend work.  It's a short-lived stage, though, and besides, I wouldn't trade our beach days for anything!

But the funny thing is that when this baby arrives and we're back at home most days of the week, I think it will actually be easier to fit in our schoolwork rather than more difficult, as it usually is with a newborn.  So go figure.

This week we're doing exams and next week we'll jump into Term 2.  I'll be posting our Term 2 Morning Basket plans soon!  Some selections will spill over from Term 1 but most will be new.

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We have three September birthday girls in our house: Bridget's was earlier in the month, Gianna's birthday was last week, and Clara's is this week.  That means lots more books in the house! ;) But more about that another day, after Clara opens hers and I can share some photos.


Most of Gianna's other gifts centered on a theme...


Lots of writing goodies!  She has always been an eager writer, and although we don't do much writing for school (just one written narration a week), she uses a lot of her free time in that pursuit.  She's currently busy writing a stage version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  And a few short stories about princesses (who happen to all have lots of siblings).  And some Redwall fan fiction.  And letters to penpals.  And a list of spiritual resolutions.  And a prayer book!  Like I said, she keeps very busy.  I enjoyed writing as a kid too, and so I find that part of her personality very fun.

And do you see the quote on those notecards?  I didn't even notice, but she did right away and remarked with a grin, "That sounds just like something he would say."  Ha.

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To mark the beginning of fall, I wanted to share a few of our favorite fall picture books from a few years ago.

It's still in the 90s here, but we won't talk about my feelings on that.

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Thanks to that hot weather, however, we had a picture-perfect day at the beach last week...


It reminded me of a Carnival Cruise ad.  That is if people with piles of small children went on cruises.  I have a feeling we're not quite their target market.

But my kids loved checking out the "ocean liner," as they called it.  Where is that term from, by the way?  Byron BartonLois Lenski?  Richard Scarry?  It feels old-fashioned to me, but I can't place where they picked it up.

ETA: Nevermind, I asked Vincent and he grabbed the culprit from the shelf: Lippman's Busy Boats!


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My husband and I were talking about how I used to crimp my hair as a girl (dating myself as a child of the 80s/90s here), and Gianna was wondering what crimping was.  I told her it was a method of curling hair and was just a fad from when I was younger.

Then she asked. "What's a fad?"  I tried to think of an example she would understand, and I was surprised that the only one that came to mind was the wigs worn during the Revolutionary Period.

No, no, we are not stereotypical homeschoolers at all. ;)

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With our recent trips to the beach, we've been listening to a lot of audiobooks.  We just finished Black Beauty last week.  Halfway through, my husband finally said, "Wow, this is really a downer."  Ha!  It really had been up to that point!  Thankfully it ended happily.  But I feel like it should have a warning on the cover: "An equine Oliver Twist."  (It probably didn't help that our book before that was Pollyanna.)

I can't decide what we'll listen to next.  I just requested Peter Pan (a re-listen for us from Year 1) and The Railway Children (from Year 4, but the big kids have already read it on their own) from the library to have on deck.  But what I really want to listen to next is Swallows and Amazons.  It's the only Year 3 free read we didn't get to last year simply because our library doesn't own the audio, and I feel like it will benefit from a good reading with a nice British accent. ;)  I am hesitant to buy it before previewing or at least hearing raves from people I trust.  So, friends: Swallows and Amazons on audio--worth buying?

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I wrote last week all about our nature study group's plans for this year.  One thing I forgot to mention is my favorite advantage of meeting in a group, whether for focused study or just exploration: the conversations.

As an example of the kinds of chat that make me very thankful for our group of interested moms and students, I'll share an ongoing "wondering" from the past couple weeks:

:: One of the moms notices that some of the live oak acorns have sap within the cap that oozes out and onto the picnic tables below.
:: I (showing my cluelessness here) wonder if all acorns have sap--maybe it's just something I've never noticed?  Maybe the sap is the agent that releases the nut from its cap?
:: We look at different examples and find that some have sap and some don't.  Hm.
:: I look it up online when I get home and read about "drippy nut syndrome," which happens to target the particular variety we're looking at (coast live oak).
:: I bring that information to the group, and we check if any of the acorns from the other oak variety we're watching (valley oak) has the same problem.
:: A friend then notices that the valley oak doesn't seem to have any acorns at all--just the caps!  Hm.
:: And we notice that the walnuts there also are not bearing fruit either, although the ones near my house have plenty of nuts already.  Hm.
:: And then another mom notices that the blackest live oak acorns seem to have the most sap--they're practically drenched in it.  So is the disease turning the acorns black?  Or are they riper than the other acorns and therefore have had more time to get drippy?  Hm.
:: Then today I get a text from a friend with a "mystery acorn" photo and a request for me to share the website I mentioned to her distinguishing all the various live oaks in the area.  (And no, this acorn didn't have sap.)

And it just continues from there!  We often generate more questions than answers, but it's nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of.

I think it's great too for kids to see their mom and other kids and adults wondering, researching, and taking an active interest in nature study.

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After I shared some picture book favorites a couple weeks ago, a sweet homeschooling e-friend whom I really admire asked if we had Roxaboxen on our shelves since we had a couple other Cooney titles listed.  I said we didn't and would add it to our Christmas list.  Well, guess what arrived in the mail a few days later?  Thank you, Kimberlee!  Her daughter even decorated the envelope with ink drawings of "things that fly"--birds and helicopters and more.  The best.

(Psst: if you haven't checked out Pondered in My Heart yet, do yourself a favor and head over.  This Catholic homeschooling family is full of amazing artists and musicians doing all sorts of lovely living and learning.  One of her daughters is an illustrator of children's books, and they also have a family Etsy shop with many charming wares.  It has been one of my favorite blogs for years.)

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Thank you for the wonderful posts linked so far at this month's Keeping Company collection.  I'm also noticing lots of new people tagging #KeepingCompanyCM over on Instagram--keep them coming!  It is so inspiring to see your work.  I'll post the new month's invitation next week!

14 comments:

  1. Swallows and Amazons narrated by Alison Larkin is one of our all-time favorites! The only book that has gotten more airtime here is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe narrated by Michael York.

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    1. Thank you, Kyrie! I am glad to hear your recommendation. We love that version of LWW too, so I have a feeling we'll like S&A as well in that case. ;)

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  2. Celeste - I love reading your "this and that" posts...probably my favorites! :) That is so interesting about your nature study...I totally get how wonderful it is to have all the other mothers and children all learning together! I have been at Pondered in My Heart years ago! Thanks for the reminder!

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  3. My library got the audio for Swallows and Amazons after I requested it and we thought it was great. I wish I had purchased it! I accidental bought the second book as a MP3 CD and it won't play in our car . . . . . I put it on the computer but it's not as convenient as a regular CD. I've been reading that one out loud.

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    1. Good to know, Cassie! Our big van plays mp3 CDs, I think, but I will double check before I buy because I think the version I'm looking at is an mp3 CD. I do know that if I rip them to my phone, I can definitely play them on my phone plugged into the van's speakers. But like you said, for car purposes, the CDs are more useful.

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    2. Our vehicles are older and don't have modern tech stuff to do that. I'm sure this won't be a problem with newer models. Our car player won't even play the Holy Heroes CDs and I thought they were just normal audio CDs.

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  4. How is the pregnancy going?

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    1. Great, thank you! Four weeks left. :)

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  5. Over the course of a year we bought and listened to all of the Swallows and Amazon books from Audible and they are WONDERFUL!! :-) A definite family favorite. I highly recommend them! The kids really enjoy re-listening to them too.

    That beach photo is gorgeous, what wonderful weather! How fantastic you're getting to the beach so much - but I can definitely understand the scheduling challenges too. Hooray for the weekly lists!

    And I had never heard of or seen the drippy nut syndrome. I'll have to ask my kids about it and we'll keep an eye out for it too. How interesting!

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    1. It was you!! I *knew* someone I trusted recommended the audio version of the series to me a while back, but when I was thinking about it for this term, I couldn't remember who it was and started to doubt whether I had even gotten a recommendation at all. Now I have ordered the first book on CD and it should be here Thursday. :)

      I am so thankful for this break from our usual schedule to spend time on the coast--it really is my "happy place." But it will also be nice (in its own) way to switch gears this winter and stay close to home with a newborn. The timing has just been perfect for us this year.

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    2. I love the coast too - it really is my happy place as well. I was reflecting as I sat on the beach about a month ago that I really need to figure out how to get there more often!

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  6. Another vote for Swallows and Amazons here. It was a great book, especially on audio.

    Love your "this and that" posts. I think that we get to know you better through these ones, and see some things that wouldn't fit in any other category. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Erin! They are my catch-all and are fun to write. :)

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