Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 27, 2014

We have had a pretty fun, relaxing summer here this year.  The boys have been playing with friends a lot and I have been sneaking in some school here and there too, so they don't forget math facts and such.  Our neighborhood pool will be closing after this weekend I think.  It has been very hot here the past couple of weeks but, overall, we have had a lovely summer; much cooler than recent years.

We started back to full time school on the same day the local schools started back.  It will be two weeks tomorrow that we have been doing full time school and it is going better than ever before, which seems like a miracle.  It is really hard for me to believe because it is like night vs day, the way Nick is able to handle more work, especially more writing, longer days and is able to keep a more positive attitude.  I am so very thankful.

We have all settled into a nice routine, although the doctor's changing schedule does play a bit of havoc with it at times.  We are very appreciative of his new job though.  He really likes it a lot and is very pleased with the people he works with.  That is such a relief.  He is still on the FDA committee and will be heading back out to Washington D.C. in another week or so for another meeting.

The boys are both doing very well and growing like crazy.  Ben has always been and is still about an inch taller than Nick.  They both eat like there is no tomorrow.  Ben still loves his greens and frequently has a bowl of frozen peas or salad as a snack.  Nick likes frozen green beans as a snack.I am probably still the pickiest eater in our house, although I believe Nick would now come in second.  He has gotten a little pickier as he has gotten older but not much more really.

They will both soon be turning nine years old and we are planning to have a big birthday party for them this year, for the first time.  We have booked a place that brings laser tag to your own backyard so I think everyone will have a good time with that. This will be the first birthday party where the boys will be inviting friends, rather than just our normal family thing, so they are very excited.  After discussing it, we decided to pick a date between their birthdays and have one shared party because their birthdays are so close together.  Also Nick's birthday is a bit too close to Thanksgiving and I was really concerned that all of their friends would attend Ben's party and then very few would show up 6 weeks later for Nick's party.  They are happy with a joint party so hopefully that will work out OK.  We will still celebrate their individual birthdays with family on/around their actual birthdays.

For school, the boys are a little past half way through their 3rd grade year.  Over the summer, we started Latin and it is really going well now.  I have found that I need to be very careful on when to introduce a new subject or a new way of doing something.  Once they get into a routine, they don't like to change it up much.  They want to know exactly what they have to get done each day before they are free to play.  I plan out a schedule each week so we can all see what work we have to do for the week, although it is subject to change here and there.  We have been able to follow it pretty well though.

We have also started a new science curriculum and we are loving it.  Science is finally getting done around here on a regular basis.  We are using Science in the Beginning now, which was written by one of the guys who also wrote some of Apologia's science curriculum. We are using Getting Started With Latin for our Latin studies and both of these are very easy to use.  For Latin, we learn one new word or concept (such as direct objects) a day, which usually includes, listening to the pronunciation on my laptop, translating sentences from the book orally, and then the boys play the memory game using index cards with many of the words we have learned most recently.  They really enjoy playing the game and it really nails down the vocabulary so that is great. They have also finally learned to be good winners and losers most of the time, which is great.  We used to play games for school very seldom because it always ended up in a fight or someone getting angry or crying.

When we do school, we always do our 'together' work first, followed by the subjects they do more independently or with which they need one-on-one help....or they may do a subject separately because one is much faster at finishing than the other and it can be very frustrating for the one who is not quite as fast.

Our together subjects are spelling (we are still using All About Spelling and just finishing up Level 3), Latin and History/Science (we are still using Story of the World for History) and I read aloud to them (we just finished Johnny Tremain - our first book with a somewhat sad ending).  We do history on Mon and Wed and science on Tues and Thurs.

The subjects they do separately are math (we are still using CLE Math), grammar, writing and read-to-self (40 minutes).  We are still using IEW for writing, using their Bible Heroes book and we are about half way through.  We are now also using IEW for grammar, using their newly updated Fix It! Grammar and we are loving it.  Ben also practices the piano for 18 minutes.  Nick reads a little longer if he gets done first but Ben usually works a bit faster than Nick so they are normally done at about the same time.

I wanted to start school each day at 8:30 but we are getting started at 9:00, just like last year.  It seems to be working so far so I guess we will stick with it for now.  We work for about an hour and a half and then take a 30 minute break. We work for another hour, approximately, then break for lunch for an hour and a half, after which we work for another hour or hour and a half and then we are done for the day.  Most days we finish up around 3:30 but once in a while we finish closer to 3:00 or 4:00, depending on how diligent and punctual we have been.

We are back in co-op this year and the boys are really excited about it.  We went for the first time last Friday and they had a great time seeing all of their friends again.  Their two best friends from co-op are also in their AWANA's class on Wednesday nights at our church.  The boys are taking four co-op classes this year, including a science lab, a literature class, a music class focusing on percussion (they love this!) and Spanish 2.  Ben said his favorite class is the science lab and Nick's is Spanish 2. It has been a year since they took the first Spanish class but the teacher has review in it so I think they will do fine and she makes it very fun and exciting.  They get to do a lot of pretending, like they are working in a shop, selling clothes or working in a cafe or going to a zoo, etc.  and they learn all of the vocabulary associated with those things.  They also make puppets and learn vocabulary associated with parts of the body.  Their teacher makes it very fun, actually all of the teachers do. I could never teach a class like this because I am just not that fun with a group of loud children but I think I do OK with just two....most of the time anyway:).  I am happy to help out though in any way I can, which makes the co-op situation work.  This co-op has really grown since we were in it year before last.  I think they have around 70 families now and it was closer to 25 or 30 before.  So we are meeting lots of new people which is fun too.

My garden has provided a lot of opportunities to learn what NOT to do (LOL).  We have had so many cherry tomatoes that we have gotten lazy about going out to pick they are hard to get to because the plants were not supported well enough.  The corn came in but the ears were eaten by worms before they were ready for us to pick them so I need to research that a bit more.  Also, I didn't plant enough corn for it to really be useful.  The larger tomatoes ended up with bottom rot, even though we sprayed them.  The strawberries in the same box did not get enough water and died. I think the watering system is messed up and the tomatoes were getting double water (hence, the bottom rot) and the strawberries were getting none.  The husband needs to work on that, since he set up the watering system.  The carrots never got very big and I am not sure why.  The boys still picked them and thought the tiny baby carrots were good to eat.  I am not sure what happened with them; more research required.  The green beans were good but there were not enough of them.  The lettuce didn't grow at all because I planted the cherry tomatoes next to them and they blocked the sun and eventually just spread out to cover many of the other plants.
Well, you get the idea.  Lots of learning going on here regarding gardening but not much edible food, other than tons of cherry tomatoes.  I'm sure we will try again next year and hopefully I will have learned a few things to do differently.

Dancer is now over 16 years old and went in for a teeth cleaning the other day.  He seems to be doing pretty well, although he is very thin.  He loves being outside.  Tinkerbell is still her chubby self (much like me:) and loves being out on the screened-in porch.  She is free to roam the house at night now days and she is usually very good about not waking us up.  She is a funny cat and loves to play but still hates having Dancer in the house.  Once in a while she gets these evil looking eyes and she goes after me or one of the other people living in our house.  She is very strange in this way and I have never had a cat like that before.  She might have a mental problem.  Fortunately it doesn't happen very often but she has bitten me very hard a couple of times, usually after we have returned from a long trip but also once in a great while when I am just petting her and she is purring like she is so happy and then, boom!, she attacks.  I am still hopeful she will grow out of it eventually.

I think that is about all that is new for us right now and I have to get back to teaching so must go.  Hope you are all doing well.