Monday, September 28, 2009

"Mus exit"

That is my youngest's favorite line from Minimus Latin, chapter one. You see in chapter 1, the mouse, Minimus, goes around to the people at Vindolanda asking who they are, and they answer in turn. At last, Minimus makes it to the cat, and asks "quis es" in a tiny, shakey little voice. The cat answers, and the final scene has Minimus wasting no time getting away, with the words "mus exit". Little Luke Skywalker thinks it is hysterical, and whenever we practice asking "quis es?", he will answer "mus exit". 

Tonight we were sitting on the couch; the older two were taking turns reading to me from their HOP workbooks. The youngest was sitting there with us. Suddenly I heard his little voice say, "mus exit." I look over and he is "reading" through the Minimus book - every time he turned the page to a new dialogue, he would say, "mus exit." I'm glad to see he is enjoying Latin so much. :) If he's not going around saying "mus exit", then he can usually be found singing the Vale song from Song School Latin. Who knew that the Latin programs I bought for the older two would enchant the youngest so much.

Social experiment of the day :)

For some reason this morning, my boys decided they wanted all their beds in one room and all the toys in the other (two bedrooms split between three boys). So, I decided to humor them, but told them they had to help. While I got something for breakfast, they started taking toys out of one room and get the rooms ready for me to move furniture. Thankfully nothing required actually deconstruction of furniture - just stripping one bed and taking it out in parts (mattress, box and metal frame). After a while, they got distracted and decided to bring in the Crash 'N Go racetrack from the garage; I put the rooms back together. It actually looks better than I thought, though we didn't move any clothes as I can't guarantee how long the new arrangements will actually last. ;) 

There are 3 beds, 6 pillows, countless stuffed animals, a few extra blankets (all crocheted by great-grandma), and a low cubby/bookcase holding a lot of books for them. (It also serves as a place for the CD player for books on CD, a clock because they think they are very grown up with a clock in their room, and numerous cups of water for night time.) I'm curious how it'll go tonight. Well, tonight will probably be fine; I'm curious how it'll go the night after tonight. ;)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Taking a day off

So the boys don't know it yet; they are still sleeping (well, the youngest is up and watching Go Diego!). But, I decided that we are taking off the rest of this week. We've been going at it since sometime in the summer (early July I think) 4-5 days a week and I need a break. I am sure they could use one too. We will still go to PE today. We will go to the aquarium tomorrow. And I still plan on reading to them and having them read to me. But, math, spelling, penmenship, writing ... all off the table until Monday morning. I need a couple mornings of TV for them. I need a couple mornings where they can just run and play and I don't have to wrangle them to the table to get going on our work. We need mental health days. :) Monday, we'll be refreshed and ready to go again. (Hopefully we won't have any struggle getting back into routine - that is my one hesitancy whenever we take time off - especially with Nomar, my oldest.) 

Having made that decision, I suddenly feel so much more peaceful this morning. We can take it easy. They can watch PBS Kids and relax. We can get ready for PE and spend some time at the park with friends. History can wait a week - it's been waiting about 900 years for us anyway, what's a few more days? 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mondays ... maybe we need to just jump right to Tuesdays ;)

Today seemed to start well; I was able to be up alone for about 30 minutes before someone joined me. Once Nomar woke, he and I sat on the couch with Luke Skywalker and read a couple library books. Then, we read a couple sections from Our Island Story. I'm not sure quite what happened between then and Nomar's long exile in his bedroom, but I'm blaming it on Mondays. He suddenly decided he wasn't going to cooperate and instead thought grunting at me was going to be the appropriate response. Actually, ever since fall baseball began, he's been much shorter on the fuse - his tantrums have increased quite a bit. I'm wondering if as much as he loves playing baseball and really likes his coach, he's feeling a bit overwhelmed with the whole thing. He's the youngest on the team and the coach does have high expectations - not in terms of ability, but in terms of putting all one's effort into learning; I actually really like his coach, and don't want to pull Nomar out, but I do think we need to figure out how to be a bit more proactive about the whole thing with him. With Vlad being so obviously sensitive to everything (physical, emotional, spiritual), and Nomar's evolving maturity, I forget how sensitive he can be also. At least we made up and had a better afternoon.

On a positive side, the boys are loving Monkey Match memory with the Song School Latin cards. We are working on the vocabulary from Chapter Two this week - quid est tuum praenomen? and meum praenomen est ..., so we were able to add two more sets to our memory game. 

Vlad has his first "big" book to read today for Hooked on Phonics - he started the Orange workbook in level 1, and the books are longer and more "book" like than the beginning readers in the Kindergarden level (which are more like BOB books). I was thinking of splitting the book into two sessions, but I think we'll take it as it comes. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A very busy week almost done

There is definitely a benefit to being busy, especially with three boys who like to do things all. the. time. It's probably also beneficial, even if it doesn't make sense, to be busy when you aren't feeling to well since it means we are out of the house more (and less likely to deal with behavior issues stemming from being "bored"). So, this week was a blessing. 

We have been to the dentist, the library, the park, PE class, the park again, grocery shopping, and Fed-Ex Office to laminate ID cards so far this week. Tonight there's baseball practice. I think tomorrow is free of anything scheduled outside the home. Even so, we have had a some-what productive week (it started out less than productive as I was not feeling well). Today was probably the best day thus far. I swear, making sure I am up well before anyone else wakes and getting ready is a huge factor for determining how our days go. 

We started our morning with "Monkey Match" - we played memory with the vocabulary cards from Song School Latin. Though we have only technically done chapter 1 in SSL, we have a bit more vocabulary under our belts from Minimus, so we were able to play with about 10-12 pairs of cards. The boys had a blast (except Vlad when Nomar kept getting all the pairs first). Even Luke Skywalker (3 y.o.) is learning a fair amount of Latin. We also sung our songs (I'm skipping the alphabet song - young Luke is still learning his English alphabet and I don't need to confuse him with missing W's and such). We'll start chapter 2 in both Song School Latin and Minimus on Monday.

I also pulled out our Explode the Code books that were sitting on the shelf - level 3 for Nomar and level 2 for Vlad. Wednesdays are short mornings due to PE, so we don't get spelling done. I figured spelling 3x a week and then ETC 2x a week would be good practice for them, and with the novelty of the ETC workbooks, they are loving it. ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

This was a lazy week, if I were to pick one word to describe it. I'm blaming it all on Monday being Labor Day. We did some things that I was hoping to accomplish - read some history, learned some Latin, had our first art co-op this morning. And yet looking back, I feel like we did not do half of what I was hoping to do. I guess that is the beauty of homeschooling; we can go at our pace, knowing that in the end (in the long run) it'll all work out just fine. All three of them will know how to read. All three of them will know their math. All three of them will be able to write. They'll know Latin. They'll have a good foundation on the story of our (collective "our") history. And they'll probably have some good experiences with art, science, music, and sports under their belts. 

I am working on learning the balance between having a big picture plan (which I sat down and worked on this week) and being flexible to go with the flow of life. This week, life happened and not as much sit-down academics happened. Tuesday we needed to get to the post office before lunch. And we spent a beautiful afternoon at the nature center. Wednesday was PE day, and instead of getting through our core subjects in the morning before leaving, the boys had a great time unfolding most of the maps we have (our city & surrounding areas, our state, and the US) and trying to find places on them. Today we had a great time at our friend's house for our first art co-op. We had some art time and then the kids all played together. We may not have done as many math problems as we normally do, or may not have had much in terms of spelling or reading practice. But, despite its "lacking" in those departments, there is no arguing that this week, overall, was a good week. And so, that is how I want to remember it; not as a week full of wholes on my weekly "planning grid" (I actually don't write anything down until *after* we do it), but a week full of memories and enriching interactions with meaningful people in our lives.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


For almost as long as I've been out of college, I think Thursdays have been my favorite days. Fridays seem like a good choice as it is the end of the work week. But I am usually so tired by Friday that I just want to go to bed early. Saturdays are good days too - usually we do something as a family, whether that be working outside in the yard or bike riding or running errands. Sundays are going to become very busy for us as the boys (Nomar and Vlad ;) ) start the fall baseball program. Mondays, well, I'm not sure there's much to love about Mondays. ;) (Well, the return of Castle on Monday nights is something to love.) Tuesdays and Wednesdays are just regular ol' days, though Wednesdays are kind of nice in that we go to PE and hang out with friends. (I feel like I could be writing a remix of a sappy Cure song.) 

But Thursdays, those are my favorite. On Thursday, I usually still have energy enough to not feel utterly exhausted. On Thursday, I know the weekend is right around the corner. On Thursday, I know that I only have one more day of the work week before my husband is home for the weekend. On Thursday, I know my DVR will be recording Grey's Anatomy. And on Thursday, at least a couple out of each month, I get to go meet my two best friends for coffee or tea and chat - all by ourselves without any of our combined 15 children interrupting us. It's the best kind of therapy. We've known each other for almost as long as my oldest, Nomar, is old. We have shared some tough times together. We love each other and trust each other. And I am so glad we have our time together, even if it is only once or twice a month. Thursdays are my favorite day of the week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A very non-school "first" day of school ;)

So, for some reason, we just did not get our act together this morning. The boys were all up by 8:30, but I think because my youngest was up not long after me, I was slow in doing what I normally like to do in the morning when they are all sleeping (play on-line on my favorite bulletin boards, read up on Facebook, and eventually making it to the couch to read a real book), that I didn't get going with them when they were first getting up. I don't know ... maybe the stars were just not aligned quite right. I was hoping to have my oldest (I so need nicknames for them all ... I think I'll name them after baseball players or Star Wars characters!) actually get through all his core subjects before PE (minus spelling - we don't do spelling on Wednesdays as we just don't have the time before we have to leave). As it is, no one got much of anything done. 

On a positive note, we did read through Minimus chapter 1 again this morning. The boys want to just keep reading the book, but I'm trying to go slowly just because I need to learn the vocabulary as we read. We also listened to the Salve/Vale song from Song School Latin on the way to PE. I had them "help" me remember all the Latin words I know so far (great way to actually see how much they remember without them feeling "tested") and we realized that combined, "I" know about 15 words in Latin so far. 

PE went well. I chatted a bit with a couple other moms I know; one will be involved with our once a month art coop and one have only met through PE. But, afterwards, I realized I need to help my boys navigate "free play" with the other kids - otherwise it turns a bit into Lord of the Flies out there. I think that maybe as hs'ing parents, we think our kids are able to figure out how to play in a fun, yet nice and safe way, without a lot of intervention. But, I learned today that I need to teach mine the difference between play "fighting" and actual fighting - that it crosses the line when stick "swords" actually make contact with another body and pinecone "bombs" actually injure someone. I also realized mine did not yet really know how to handle older kids who are playing too rough (apparently my oldest threw a pinecone at an older boy who was playing harshly with them all ... we talked about what to do in that situation that does not involve bodily harm). 

So, I can't say we didn't learn anything today. We just didn't get done much of what I wanted to get done. This evening/tonight I plan on having the older two practice their reading - it's been too many days and they get very rusty. I also hope to read some more from the Burgess Bird Book and What Makes a Bird. We might throw in there a little of Our Island Story. As for the rest, there's always tomorrow. ;)  

Edited to add their new nicknames. :) My oldest is Nomar (he loves Nomar Garciaparra, formerly of the Dodgers and now with the A's). My middle son is Vlad (he loves Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels), and the youngest decided he wanted to be Luke Skywalker. :) 

School Days

Today is back to school for the kids in our school district. I remember most of my thirteen back to school days (K-12). Despite not enjoying school all that much, I did enjoy the first week or so. There's something about newness that makes things more bearable - the new crayons, new backpacks & lunch boxes, and new clothes. Because we all went to our neighborhood school, I didn't have the anticipation of seeing all my friends again; we had seen each other non-stop all summer long. But the newness of the year was exciting. (The newness wore off after a week or so - usually by the time the first tips of the crayons began to dull.) It is probably the one thing I wonder if my boys will ever miss, though having never experienced it, I cannot be sure that it would be missed. Can you miss something you never had? 

I think to mark the day, we'll take school pictures so I can make them their own school ID cards (they are only helpful for when we do things like visit the Natural History Museum, and their IDs get them in for reduced price, and for the coolness factor for the boys). Other than that, our day is not too much different from any other Wednesday; we are off to PE (though we won't stay long as our good friends won't be there today), I hope to start Song School Latin, and plan on having my oldest make it all the way through his core subjects today (yesterday's attention span was a bit lacking, shall we say).

She Blonde Swede's EP

<a href="">It's Alright by She Blonde Swede</a>So this has nothing to do with homeschooling, but one of my best friends from college released his EP today. Track two is my favorite - I remember him writing it and us sitting in my college apartment singing it with my roommate. I even got to play tambourine. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nature Center

Today we met my friend and her kids at the local nature center. Though my boys enjoy going, they usually complain because they are not allowed to do things like climb the trees. This time there was no complaining by anyone. They had a great time "adventuring" with their friends - catching lizards (all the lizards stayed there), finding spiders and their webs in the trees, and trying to spot fish in the big lake and little creeks. I enjoyed hanging out with my friend and talking about things like Latin, art, and field trips. :) 

We did not take any pictures this time, and there were very, very few birds to spot. We did find a snowy egret just before we left. Another highlight was when one of the nature center volunteers brought out some just-hatched water turtles, and let us follow her when she released them. The kids kept a close watch for approaching fish to make sure the turtles at least survived their first dip in the water. Overall, it was a very stress-free 2 1/2 hours spent at the nature center.

When we got home, the boys made a list of everything they saw. There were very many spiders, a couple birds, some lizards, and quite a few water turtles. They also made note of the bugs they saw inside the small nature center building - a tarantula, a millipede, walking sticks, a black widow and a brown widow. Then they drew a picture for their nature section of their notebooks, and wrote a sentence about the trip.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lazy weekend

We had a pretty nice, long weekend. Surprisingly, on both Saturday and Sunday, my oldest wanted to do a lesson from the Hooked on Phonics Master Reader program. He's still working through the last of the regular levels (he's in the green and blue workbooks), but he wanted to see what the computer lessons were like. He did a very good job and even read the little story card that accompanied the first lesson. I told him that if he wanted, he could do his regular green/blue workbooks and reading books 3 - 4 days a week and then a couple days a week, he could work on a lesson from the Master Reader program. He is amazing me by how much he is reading now (there were times in the beginning of this calendar year where I wondered if he'd ever figure reading out). It still isn't his favorite activity (though I think he likes impressing us and surprising us with how much he can read), but he is making great strides in becoming an independent reader.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

Well, we definitely had our up and downs this week. It was our first full week without dad home to help (poor guy had to go off and resume teaching math to high schoolers). I have to say I am happy we are all getting to bed earlier, which means we are all getting up earlier, which means we can actually get through the different things I want to accomplish. The boys are very much enjoying learning about birds. My oldest is loving Our Island Story, and both my 5 year old and 8 year old love to listen to The Burgess Bird Book. 

My 3 year old is having fun doing "school" things. This week, I hand-wrote two pages (one on one day and one on another) with a big A and little a, and a picture/word that starts with a (the first day was ant; the second day he wanted pie, so I wrote apple pie). His coloring is getting better - he's developing his hand-eye coordination (it's very apparent when we play catch outside - he likes grounders and he's starting to move his glove to the on-coming ball). 

I'm also impressed with how much my middle son (5) has matured school-wise. I can tell he's making some big leaps mentally; maybe that is why he's been having more issues behavior-wise - his brain is just too busy right now integrating all he's been learning to bother with impulse control and following directions. ;) 

We had our first real art day today. I got out both the regular pastels and the oil pastels for the boys to use. I can tell that we need more practice with art, and also more exposure to art. I am excited to begin our coop with our friends next week with Meet the Masters. I also am taking one Friday a month to study Medieval art history (using the book Art in Story and any pictures I can find on-line). Eventually I'd like to invest in a good "coffee table" art book for all of us to look through. I have a couple books published by Usborne for kids, but I'd like one of those thick books of prints. 
I'm eagerly awaiting our Song School Latin order. I'm already thinking it might be good for me to order the next level of Latin (I'm leaning towards either Latin for Children A or Lively Latin. I'm not sure yet, and I have not yet broached the subject of spending money on yet more curriculum with my husband (though he tends to tell me to go ahead and buy whatever). For now, though, I'll stick with learning with the boys through Song School Latin and reading Minimus together. 

Next week I'd like to get an actual history activity done (either a map or a "Book of Centuries" type page with copywork and a picture). We also need to finish up our "compost" science experiment and make paper. It's a short week though; dad will be home on Monday, I hope to get to the library and/or nature center on Tuesday, and we have art coop on Friday. We'll see what we get done.  

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Last night the boys were sitting on the porch and I was walking past the open door. We all heard a bird call that was very different from what we are used to (most of what we hear are the crows and occasionally the sparrows or pigeons). We all went out and stood under our tree and saw a bird we'd never seen before. I got a picture of its back and tail (not very good) and I noticed that the tail was gray and black striped. The bird suddenly flew from our tree to one across the street and I swore it looked like a small hawk, but thought there was no way it was one as those usually stay in the park a mile or so away.

I went in and found the local bird guide and sure enough, we had a Sharp-shinned Hawk in our tree. We were all so excited. After it flew away (first it flew to a telephone pole and then flew overhead a little bit before going too far for us to see), we came inside, listened to the call on-line and found some more pictures. The boys thought it was the coolest thing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What is a Bird?

We are continuing to read a few sections of What is a Bird? each day. Before the boys woke today, I went on-line and found some free coloring pages of birds, copied them into Publisher, and then added text lines underneath. All three picked the bird they liked, and worked on coloring them while I read. After I was done, each boy took turns telling something that makes a bird a bird. Then, after they were done coloring, they wrote the four main attributes of a bird on the lines under their picture. For my oldest and middle sons, it was their copywork for the day - they told me the attributes, I wrote them on a separate piece of paper, then they copied the words onto their papers.

This is my three year old's bird picture. We looked up his bird in the Audubon First Field Guide of Birds and he did a very good job getting his colors close to the actual coloring of the bird. (I wrote for him. ;) )
My middle son's picture. He was very proud of his coloring of the cardinal and his printing.
And my oldest son's picture. (He *loves* cursive writing and makes sure I put all his copywork in cursive for him; he not as fond of "translating" printing into cursive even though he can do it.) 
Tonight we will continue reading about Peter Rabbit's bird friends from the Burgess Bird Book. I think next week we will take a field trip to our local nature center and see what we can find there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Playing with numbers and counting

My 5 year old was in his room getting some small cars to take in the bathtub. I could hear him counting by 2's: 2, 4, 6. Then, he counted them by 1's: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Suddenly he exclaimed, "Mom, it's the same number if you count by twos or count by ones." I didn't hear him totally clearly and wasn't sure if I understood exactly what he meant. He came out to me and said, "See Mom?" He proceeded to line up the cars and count them by two's, arriving at the total of six. Then he lined them back up again and counted by one's, again arriving at six. "Isn't that cool Mom? It's six if you count by two's or by one's." I love it when they make connections like that on their own.