Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What a Day!

So, today the kids and I drive into Philly (not my favorite activity) to meet with a violin maker because Haley is outgrowing her violin. Her violin is a 1/16th size (supposedly, but it was not bought from this maker) and the next size is a 1/10th size. We get there with no problems, I find parking, and the man gives us two 1/10th violins to take to her teacher to try. I try to find my way back to NJ but somehow end up going the opposite way I came but after a few minutes of internal panic my good sense gets us to the other bridge to NJ. (Not the bridge we went over on the way there but okay, we are headed back to NJ.)

We go out to lunch then to violin lessons. The 1/10th violins are way, way too big. The violin teacher and I talk to the violin maker and he asks if I can bring Haley's violin to him so he can see the difference between it and the 1/16th violins he has. So after lessons, back to Philly we go. I find a quicker way to the parking garage and there is no traffic. We exchange the 1/10th violins for two 1/16th violin because Haley's is very small compared to them. Then I find my way back home across the bridge I went to Philly on--a very big accomplishment for me. And thankfully, there is no traffic on the way home, even though it is 4:30 which usually is about the time rush hour starts.

Now after an entire day in the car or walking around the city, I am off to wrestling practice with Newt and I get an hour and a half to read a new book I just received. My own peace and quiet time!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wonderful concert...

Okay, so after some decongestant, Haley did a wonderful job at her concert. She did, however, fall asleep shortly after playing and slept through the rest of the concert. Not that she does not enjoy violin music. The combination of a cold plus decongestant added to a lot of excitement and a 2 hour concert was just a little tiring I guess.

Tomorrow we go to buy a larger size violin. Her teacher thinks that she is finally outgrowing the 1/16th size and needs to move up to a 1/10th. So we are off to the city and after that to violin lessons. Home from there and then to gumdo then wrestling. We have had a couple easy weekends with no wrestling tournaments but this weekend we have one Saturday and another Sunday. We have two weeks like that then wrestling will slow down again.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It figures...

Poor Haley has been healthy since last fall, a wonderful accomplishment for a kids who spent her first 2 years of life fighting something. Now today she has not only her violin concert but an awful cold as well. I guess she will have to play in between sniffles and maybe the medicine I gave her will keep her nose from running off her face when she can't wipe.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Our Curriculum...

Our curriculum can best be described as eclectic. I would consider myself more of a classical homeschooler. I love The Well Trained Mind though I do modify it here and there.

My 5th Grader's workload includes:

Saxon Algebra 1 (we are halfway through then will be doing Algebra 2 and Geometry together)
Gelfand's Algebra (we do this once and awhile for a change of pace)
Analogies Book D by Scott Greenwood (for critical thinking)
500 Key Words for the SAT by Charles Gulotta
Wordsmith by Janie B. Cheaney

My 3rd Grader:

Saxon 65 (3/4 through the book then will start Saxon 76)
Wordsmith Apprentice by Janie B. Cheaney

They both are doing:

Language Arts with Guiding Reader's and Writers by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell and also Writing Power.

Science: Biology- Human Body right now using various books as references including Real
Science 4 Kids, Rainbow Science, Usbourne Human Body, and others too numerous
too mention.

History: World History-The Human Odyssey by Jackson Spielvogel (used as a spine with
various other books as references)
Mythology edited by C.Scott Littleton

Languages: Spanish and Japanese (my worst subject because I can't pick one and stick with it)

Spelling Power

Haley's "curriculum:" (4 yo)

Singapore 1A math
Adventures in Phonics
Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization by Andrew Pudewa (her favorite subject)
A handwriting book- she is almost finished and doing great writing on the lines now so will start
to do copywork with quotes from good literature.
Listening in on her brother's science, history, and languages work.
Lots and lots of reading- her reading and being read to. (I am amazed with the speed at which
her reading has improved the past few weeks)

All 3 kids keep a journal and a nature journal that we take on trips to sit and draw from.

This spring I am hoping to plant a garden and begin our study of plants, do experiments from "How Nature Works" by David Burnie

My ultimate goal is to be able to take a month to travel and go to Wyoming. If that happens in the near future, this summer or next, we will study some earth science (rocks and minerals) to go along with that.

A little about the beginning of our homeschooling journey...

When Newt was 4 yo and being a terror in his preschool class due to utter and complete boredom, I was in a panic about what to do with him the next school year. He was too young to enter public school kindergarten.

I had already searched every preschool/kindergarten in the area to find the best one and the one he was in went to 8th grade and supposedly taught each child as an individual (a nice concept but not put into practice). This school said they would take him into kindergarten early but since they had not done such a great job in preschool (and cost $8000 a year), it was not a good choice.

My only other option was homeschooling. A hard decision for someone who was not used to going against society's norms. I had gone to school, was valedictorian and home-coming queen, went to a decent college, and had a job I loved. On the other hand, I had never felt challenged by school and once I got into college, was placed in the gifted classes so got to see just how many people had been challenged in high school and were so much more prepared than I was. I didn't want my children to be unchallenged or their talents stifled or worse, wasted.

I researched homeschooling for months. Read books, looked at different curriculums, talked online to other homeschooling mothers, etc... It seemed like the only good option. My husband agreed to let me try it on a year by year basis. Seven years later and we are still at it.

I know my time is limited with my oldest son. He is a wrestling. He wants to wrestle in high school so he must leave me in another 3.5 years. The second son will probably want to be in school once his brother is and he would probably do well in school with a few modifications like advanced math classes. I am hoping to homeschool my baby girl all the way through high school but that will have to be decided as time goes on.

Violin Concert

Yesterday Haley had a violin concert at a senior citizen's center. Tomorrow is her big concert and she will be playing her Twinkles. She played them yesterday the best she has ever played them. Her teacher was amazed though I had tried to explain to her that Haley seems to thrive when playing in front of people. No matter how she practices or does in lessons, put her in front of a group of people and she plays beautifully.

It seems really weird that she was graduating from her Twinkles a year ago with her first teacher. I feel like an entire year was wasted when she spent the summer "learning" bad technique with the substitute. Now with a lot of work, her technique is much improved and she is ready to move on.

Listening to the older students play in the concert yesterday was wonderful. Miss Gerry has some very talented violinist who have been playing for a long time. (We never saw that in the old school because the most advanced children were just completing Book 1.) I love to hear where Haley is headed. It makes all the money and driving time worth it. All the practicing and time with Haley makes it worth it as well but, no matter how talented Haley ends up being, if she is able to play like any of those children, she will have a way to make music for herself and bring herself a lot of pleasure and relaxation in the future.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Deep questions...

Haley was feeling a little philosophical today while riding to violin lessons. She asked me, among other things...

"Why does God let little children get sick and die?"


"If God is so magical, why didn't he take Skeeter to heaven?" I answer that he did take Skeeter to heaven and her response is...

"No he didn't because if I dug up her grave she would still be in there."

Then she shocked the man at the vehicle inspection station by reading all the signs around the building. "Please have license, registration, and proof of insurance ready." "Please be sure to adjust your seat and mirrors and let off parking brakes when re-entering your vehicle."

Okay, now she is in the basement playing Nutcracker songs on her violin. I can't keep up!!!

Great Mommy moment...

I just experienced one of those great moments where you tell yourself, "Hey, I must be doing an okay job as a mommy."

Haley and Dylan just got out their instruments and played A major scales together and then went on to playing other made up songs with Haley on violin and Dylan on guitar.

So cute!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New talent revealed...

Last night Haley drew a picture and wrote all the family members' names on it. But she had written them backwards and not only backwards, but in mirror image. I asked her if the words looked funny (I was curious as to whether or not it was purposeful) and she simply replied, "No, I just wrote them backwards."

When we returned home, she took me to the bathroom mirror and held up her picture stating, "See. It looks right now."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A little funny....

The other morning my husband and Haley are laying in bed talking and Haley says, "The morning after this one we have to do..."

Husband says, "You mean tomorrow?"

Haley replies matter of factly, "That's what I said the morning after this morning."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!!

I spent all last week getting organized and purging ths house of unnessary things. We made quite a few trips to the Good Will and another thrift store in town that gives its profits to cancer patients. I always feel much better having my home in order. I think I am, no, I know I am very anal in that way. House in order means my life is in order. I still have a couple areas to finish cleaning out so maybe I will get to those on the weekends.

We started "back to school" yesterday. I always figure it's best to begin a whole new week the right way. We started our Human Body unit this week. (My personal favorite!) I was curious as to how much of it Haley remembers because she was very into human body and muscle names when she was 2.5 yo. She seems to remember some of it if I ask her to point to where something is, she can, but she doesn't remember it in the detail she knew before.

Today Daddy had off and suggested a nice trip to the NJ State Aquarium. We have an annual membership so we have been about 5 times this year, though this was the first time as a whole family. This visit we spent time with the children's nature journals, sitting in front of different exhibits to draw. It was very relaxing. This spring I hope to do the same thing at the zoo.

After the aquarium, we went to Olive Garden for a soup, salad, and breadstick lunch. Then went to the bookstore. Haley, Newt, and my favorite place, second only to the library. I purchased all the Little House books for Haley. We have read the first two from the library, so now we can take our time through the others. I also got a few books for the boys, some simpler editions of classics- Dracula, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. These are more for Dylan because Newt could handle the originals but Newt has already devoured the first few chapters of Dracula this afternoon.

Dylan is my reluctant reader and I am trying everything to help him grow to love it like the other two. Letting him pick some of his own books was just another plot to get him to read. We'll have to see if it works. I don't think the child has ever finished a book on his own even though I make him read every day. I am seriously considering having his reading evaluated at the local university though when he reads to me, he does just fine decoding and understanding.