River's Edge Urban Academy

Homeschooling 4 kids ages 9, 6, 4 and baby while working as a postpartum nurse and lactation counselor.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

What a nice day again. I am starting to think I might survive till Spring! We had our preschool coop this AM and despite my dreading what Zeff's behavior might bring he was pretty good! He didn't always want to do what the group was doing but was more willing to at least try whatever activity they were doing. Joss's behavior was also OK, I had to correct her a few times.
We spent quite a while reading in the kids bedroom this afternoon, Keian held a board book so that he would leave our pages alone and when Zeff got bored of our book he paged through others. I also let Zeff use stamps today while Joss did school. For a good two minutes they were both happily, busily working away. I had visions of the future, and having two (and three and ??) little ones at the table doing school! My visions didn't last long, but it was nice while it lasted!
We also spent a fair amount of time on the San Francisco Symphony for kids website. http://www.sfskids.org That was really fun! I haven't done much to teach the kids about the composers but we really like listening to and talking about all kinds of music. They had some really fun music samples (Flight of the bumblebee, Ride of the Valkyries, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Peter and the Wolf). We had a blast dancing like bumblebees and acting out the Sunrise (I was shocked it wasn't written for Star Wars - I'm such a dork:) ).
For math on Monday, she used our number chart to figure out how old a friend's baby was by counting from the 14 (the day she was born) to the 23 (the current day). She also counted the miniloaves of blueberry-banana bread we made (12) then used marbles to represent them and figured out how many we would get since we were going to bring 1/2 to our friends and keep 1/2 for ourselves.
Today,Jossy sewed a pocket out of cardboard for school. She loves little handcrafts like that. We are doing letter P and a poem about pockets in literature. Kinda silly in comparison to the reading we are doing and she is doing on her own. She is continually annoyed with the Calvert school people for the questions they ask that she thinks are stupid. She was supposed to show me sets of 3 and 4 and she said (correctly) "Mom, Zeff can do this!" She really does need the practice and instruction forming the numbers but the number concepts are down pat. She is also sick of the letter sounds practice. She does know them all, other than confusing p,b and d and needing help with a very few others (h,v). I too, am frustrated with our pace in our curriculum right now, I guess that is what they mean by feeling "boxed-in". I hate to miss anything important but I am inclined to just skip 20 lessons and see if we can get somewhere where I am not cutting 2/3 of the practice out and supplementing like crazy to keep her from getting bored.
I guess I need to sit down with the TM again and see how I can accelerate things. I am also thinking about seeing if Joss can get through Math quick and do 1st grade Math instead. It is possible to do Math seperately through Calvert and I have changed my mind about keeping Math with the rest of the program. It doesn't tie in as much as the Reading, Science, Games and Art do.

Anyway, these are just my musings and probably not very interesting. I will take the TM with me to the blood donation center tonight and look it over. Unless I bring Joss, I was thinking she might enjoy it and find it interesting. There is a critical shortage of blood in my area. Since I am a nurse and see how often people need blood and how important it is to their wellbeing (and survival) I think this is very important. I would advise anyone who is able to consider donating blood. (I am also curious about my hematocrit and they will tell you what it is if you ask! Again, thinking I am probably a dork!)

Monday, February 23, 2004

Wow, what a great day so far. Usual slow Monday start (worked last night) but kids' behavior today has been fab! I am probably asking for it, writing that in black and white, but it's been so nice! Joss entertained the baby for 1/2 hr while I got dressed, picked up kitchen, etc. then Zeff "read" me two stories. Now they are making a play (that's what they call it) by draping blankets all over the bunk beds. They are cooperating and working together. Zeff came out and asked for a blanket "please" and when I gave him one said "Thank you very much!" (extra polite!) Oh! I have tears in my eyes! I just overheard this little conversation, as I sit at the computer in the living room and they are working away in their room.
Zeff: Jossy, you my friend.
Joss: Your my friend, too.
Zeff: I love you.
Joss: I love you too.
Simple, but unprompted by an adult and soo sweet. Gotta run!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Darn, I haven't blogged in forever. Life has been busy. We are settling into a nice routine. Monday is quiet, we are doing more than 1 full Calvert lesson on Mondays. Tuesday is busy Joss has ceramics in the morning, while Zeff, Keian and I do the grocery shopping. After ceramics we all go to the library. We will also be starting a gym class in the PM, so this will be our no Calvert School day. Wednesday is preschool co-op and church in the evening, Thursday is playgroup and mama work in the evening. It is a challenge to get school done between playgroup and work so daddy ends up supervising some assignments. Fridays are quiet and we catch up on school and enjoy playtime. The kids often visit grandparents on weekends so we may be getting one or both older kids ready for a visit.
Yesterday morning (Monday) was very nice. We got well over a full Calvert lesson done, including the Arts and Craft activity (making paper flowers) that tied in with our story (Ferdinand the Bull). Joss and Zeff delivered flowers to our next door neighbors alone (I watched out the window like a hawk) and were very proud of themselves. It was so precious that I was literally crying as they held hands and carried themselves with such importance.
We then went to my folks and I left the baby with my mom while my dad and I took the big kids sledding. What a blast!! I finally got to sled!!! Zeff and I did one really memorable wipeout that I am still sore from, but the kids slept good last night!
Today was busy and nice. We followed our regular Tuesday AM routine and Jossy received a compliment on her art ability from her ceramics instructor (I was soo proud). We then went for a two hour walk to the coffeshop and our local playground.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I have a few high points to get on the record and then I should run so here goes...
Last Thursday, instead of our regular math review day activities (graphing, math games) we invented Teacup Math. Joss and I took her four teacups that go with her tea set and she called them her children. We then used marbles to figure out things like how many pieces of candy each "child" should get if there was 12 candies and how much candy all together if each child got 4 candies. We then learned a new way to write that information down (equations). It was all very fun and I couldn't believe that Joss was actually understanding what multiplication and division are.
Saturday we entered a kid's invention contest at our local toy store. Joss invented a "Weight-ma-zall" which she says supports and measures weight! It is three different sized cylinders attached with tons of yarn and little bits of tinfoil and marker drawings all over it. I would estimate she spent about five hours over the last few weeks working on it and it is a masterpiece!! Zeff and his daddy modified our corkscrew to be a "robot" with pipecleaner antennae and a chopstick in one hand and a bubble wand in the other. I of course thought they were fabulous but even I was surprised and proud when they both won first place in their age categories! They each won $20 gift certificates, science toys, certificates of acheivement and blue ribbons. And the very best part: Their inventions will be displayed at The Bakken Museum. We are soooo proud of our kids, and this is not diminished in the slightest by the fact that Zeff was the only entrant in his category! Nor by the fact that it was a "people's choice" award and our whole family (except Keian) got to vote and guess who we voted for!
Today was nice too. Ceramics in the AM, library and post office afterwards. Quiet afternoon w/full Calvert lesson. Now if daddy would just get home so we can have supper and finish our valentine's!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Well, time certainly flies, I can't believe it is February all ready!! It seems like the baby was just born in the Fall and we are all ready getting ready for Valentine's day??? Anyway, a quick recap of the week as I am not feeling well and really shouldn't use my "busy kids time" on the computer but laying down!
Monday - A heap of snow!!! Daddy couldn't work but miraculously was able to take us all to the sliding hill! Way steep! We couldn't get up to the top more than once but slid a couple times from the halfway point as well. I got the cutest picture of Zeff wearing his furry aviator hat and speechless in delight from his first solo slide giving the camera the thumb's up sign. I got some cute ones of Joss and Daddy too!
We completed a whole Calvert lesson. It seems to go a little smoother now that we are all on one lesson. I am still forgoing many of the game suggestions but have been incorporating more of the art activities and all the science. A friend and I had an interesting talk about her choice to stay away from box curriculums and my choice to use one. I love that we are all able to use what works best for us and our kids. Calvert is a good fit for Joss and easy for me to use as I do not feel that I have time or inclination to put together a curriculum. My problems with public school aren't mainly with the textbook style of teaching, and I feel like this curriculum helps me to feel like I am doing everything I "need" to in a convenient concentrated dose, allowing lots of time for activities, family time and that all important task of childhood, playing.
Tuesday - Ceramics class, Joss is really enjoying. I hoped for another hour and a half of pleasant mommy and zeffy time while she was there, but unfortunately Zeff was irresistably drawn to the classroom for the last half hour and ended up disrupting their class when I ended up having to pull him away from the doorway and he screamed! Up until that point we had played happily, ran in the gym, played basketball and read stories. I was surprised and upset by his behavior but as the day wore on and his cough got worse, I recognized that I was dealing with a sick kid. Poor kid, I think he felt acutely left out during her class when I had to keep saying "No, you can't go in there, that's just for the older kids," we will try going to the library during Joss's class next week. They have also moved their story time to Friday mornings so we may start attending those so we can have another Zeff activity (although Joss totally enjoys it).
After we got home and played awhile Joss did a full Calvert lesson with no complaints. She read one of her readers by her own choice during recess. She did very well. I am contemplating skipping 10 or 20 lessons as everything but the literature, language usage stuff is such complete review (she didn't know it at the beginning of K, she just picked it all up on her own! Why do I spend money on a curriculum!)
Today is rough cuz I have quite a bad cold, bordering on sinus infection. We did not attend co-op due to that and Zeff still being borderline sick. Besides, I work tomorrow and need to try my best to get better in time for that. So we are taking it easy and I will be going around the house wiping down door knobs and light switches in an effort to break this neverending cycle of colds! However, I started on my routines the second I got up and I have the kitchen clean, supper in the crockpot and school done by 1130am! We are having a nice lazy morning looking at big coffetable books of photographs of a day in the life of America. We have had some real fun conversations about them and I can't believe how long the kids have been at it! We have also been working really hard on picking up each toy or game before we move onto another one. This requires vigilance on my part but helps us keep the house clean. The kids will cheerfully pick up one activity's worth of mess, but more than that is overwhelming. Rocket science, huh! Oh well, I never claimed to be a great housekeeper. I just have to make up for it with my looks! Or more realistically, be a good mom and teacher and hope the kids will repress all the memories of not being able to get dressed cuz there are no clean clothes!
Well, I'm off to make lunch and catnap while they eat it. Hope everyone else is doing well. Oh, I can't believe I almost forgot. My little brother was deployed yesterday. He will be in Afghanistan for approx 2 years. Please keep him in your prayers. I would be grateful also for prayers for my children in understanding this. Zeff is very angry and having a hard time accepting it. He ran away from Uncle Jon when he came to say good-bye for the last time and cried so hard after he left. My heart breaks for him. Jon is his biggest hero.
Peace, Katy