Monday, September 16, 2019

Homeschool First Day 2019/20

Drew (2nd grade)  Judah (1st grade)   Bobby (pre-K)

Our First Day

Really this was our second day of school, but the first day at home.  The Friday before they all went back to their co-op and Bobby was old enough to go in the pre-K/Kinder class for first period while I teach Chemistry and my P.E.Sports class for second period.  Then he and I are free to go have lunch together and run errands while Judah and Drew have a picnic lunch with the kids and go to their third period classes.  Judah is taking Art, P.E., and a craft class because that was all that was available for his age this year.  Drew begged to be in my chemistry class even though it's for 10-13 year olds.  So I let him be in it unofficially and he has been doing just fine, minus all the writing because he just can't keep up in that area.  He is also taking a class on the Solar System and one on Snap Circuits.

On our first real day of schooling at home, we started our day with the Morning Offering and the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by morning time.  This includes all our memory work, read alouds for History, Science, or Religion, and then grammar and math games.  I set timers for each part so we just stop when the times up and move on to the next thing so that we aren't doing it all morning.  Many of the subjects and even memory work are set up on loops so that we don't need to get to them every day.

After that Drew and Judah go work on their math, handwriting, and phonics independent work while I do a reading lesson with Bobby.  He's totally loving doing his lessons and is enjoying practicing writing on his lined white board with a dry-erase marker.  He's even writing lower case letters.  The early lessons have me demonstrating the sounding out and reading and him copying me, but he has yet to let me demonstrate, he just sounds them right out and tells me the words. 

Drew is doing his work with more diligence than last year and doesn't complain much anymore.  Judah, on the other hand, has lost that loving feeling for his work.  He has been crying about writing every day until about week four when he started to improve a bit after being banished to his room for two days to cry about it alone and only come out when it is completed.  That seemed to help a lot, so I'm hoping that things will be improving now steadily. 

Judah has joined the family in beginning piano lessons now that he is in 1st grade.  He is doing well with it most day and the teacher said he is already seeing patterns and improving on his scales and finger coordination in just one month. 

Here is our homeschool vision statement that I worked on over the summer.

To create an inviting place of…

Faithful prayer & Striving for holiness
Laughter & Togetherness
Orderliness & Responsibility
Learning & Creating
Relaxation & Warmth
Love & Forgiveness

To provide opportunities for each of us…

To be strong, faithful, conservative Catholics who can defend their faith and are familiar 
with Church history..
To know love and grow in virtue in a personal relationship with our Creator.
To be respectful, communicate well, be a good host, be inclusive of others, and have a 
grateful heart.
To have a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world, recognizing the beauty in the 
maths and sciences and in grammar.
To be well read in the Classics.
To be proficient in music, the arts, cooking, and developing hobbies.
To have a base knowledge and confidence in sports and with animals.
To have an appreciation of languages, while continually improving our Latin and 
To learn to write beautifully and express ourselves clearly in an organized manner.

To this end we will…

Keep God in the center of our daily lives through regular family 
prayers and discussions.
Attend Mass at least three times a week, adoration at least twice 
a month, and confession once a month.
Practice the virtues, good communication with eye contact, and 
being grateful.
Make meaningful memories and connections through family travel 
and read alouds.
Learn responsibility and independence by doing “community” 
household chores. 
“Stop and smell the roses” as often as is prudent.
Schedule margins into our days.
Not prioritize checking boxes over developing relationships and 
Read independently everyday.
Read, learn, and practice math and grammar four times a week and 
science and history at least twice a week.
Do copywork until 4th/5th grade, when we begin a regular 
composition program.
Begin working on Latin in 3rd/4th grade and from the beginning 
continually practice our German through Duolingo and 
Pimsleur (in the van).
Take piano lessons from 1st grade on.
Have sporadic drawing lessons with Mom.
Play outside every school day, working on sports skills and bike 
Read aloud books at various necessary appointments.
Help in taking care of and/or training an animal at home.
Help cook to the best of abilities depending on age.

The school of Christ is the school of love. In the last day, when the general examination takes place...Love will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine

Thursday, September 12, 2019

School's Back in Session

Bobby thinks school is just exhausting!  Just kidding, he's been giving up his nap since he's four years old and that's how we roll here. It sometimes still catches up with him when he has his rest time in his room.

Hannah wanted a fresh look for school so we cut her hair.
One of the moms put together a back to school party for the freshman girls at the bowling alley.

And then it was time for it to really get real.  My Isaac was going to school.  I was expecting nerves, begging, and all kinds of freaking out, but not this guy.  He had an awesome first day and loves it!  He hasn't complained about waking up early, the loss of his free time, or even homework.  He has been very responsible save one day.  His teacher has written notes to me telling me how well he's adjusting and his weekly reports have been glowing!  His first test was in math and he got a perfect score.  Math is typically his most dreaded subject.  I don't know whether to be proud or hurt.  Should I be proud because he is succeeding or hurt that he was never this good for me?  He is excelling like I never could have imagined.  This school has a house system, kind of like in Harry Potter, for 5th and 6th graders.  Isaac had a ceremony where he was inducted into the Baggins house, which is the current holder of the champion cup.  They do competitions, build camaraderie, and even play teacher-approved pranks.  It sounds kind of extraordinary, if you ask me.

The girls' school year is going well also.  Genna is really amazing me with her dedication to cross country.  She took the hundred mile run challenge this summer and made it even with her foot hurting and being in physical therapy.  Now she is running three afternoons (Can you say hot and miserable?  We're in Texas not people!) a week and practicing or doing a meet on Saturday too.  She gets home late and still has lots of homework, yet she is persevering.  

Hannah has a new class as a freshman called Humane Letters it is a two hour class with a ten minute break outside in the middle.  It's a mix of History and Literature in the form of seminars.  They also get the privilege of being able to drink coffee or tea in this class which is kind of fun.  She also chose her language track.  She could have chosen between four years of Spanish or two more years of Latin, followed by two years of Greek.  She wishes desperately that they had German so she wouldn't have to work so hard, but she wanted to stick with what she already knew and so chose the Latin/Greek track.  

The big downfall of the new school year has been the car line and the traffic outside our neighborhood due to increased construction and a lack of turn lanes.  All of this has so far had me and the little ones in the van well over two hours a day, and that is if we don't go anywhere else.  And we only live about 15 minutes away from the school!  If we go somewhere in the afternoon, it is extremely hard to time pick up just right where we're not sitting in the lot extra waiting for our wave time slot to roll around, watching the line grow bigger and bigger.  The following couple pictures are from one of those days where we just had some time to kill before pick up and stopped in a Lego Brick store for 45 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

Someone wasn't tall enough to pull off being a Lego Minifigure even with the stool.

The Car Line- it's not for the feint of heart!  The struggle is real.  Another day when no naps caught up with him.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?...

...Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care."  Matthew 10:29

This is a hard story for me to write.  It is still very raw and fresh in my mind, even though it's been almost a month now since it happened.  I feel partly responsible.  I am and always have been an animal lover, and specifically had a special place in my heart for birds.  This all started when I worked at Petco and spent as much time in the small animal and bird section as I could get away with, learning as much as I could about birds.  I had a parakeet when I was in high school all the way through college, and she got a tumor while Brian and I were engaged and died while I was working for an avian vet at Texas A&M Vet School.  He did an autopsy on her for me.  I also had two Quaker Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets) at different times.  One died while still being hand fed (very young) and the other got really possessive of me when I got pregnant with Hannah and started attacking Brian, so I found her a new home.  All this is just reminiscing and to explain how much I love birds.  It's not the real reason for this post.

Hyacinth, from the beginning was one of the most scared, flighty parakeets I've ever known.  She had two weeks in the pet store before we brought her home so that one of the employees could work with her and get her finger trained.  I was out of practice with bird training and thought this might help Genna a lot with her first bird.  She didn't eat, or even move, for two whole days once she came home with us.  Once she got settled we began taking her out of the cage which was always an issue.  She never wanted to come out so it took many tries to get her to stay on the finger while it left the cage.  When she was out of the cage, she was constantly getting spooked and flying off the finger or shoulder to the ground (clipped wings).   A few weeks in and she started biting Genna and the rest of the kids, but never me.  I thought maybe the kids were reinforcing the biting by pulling away and letting her "win" in a sense.  So I tried to handle her more and see if that would help, but it made it worse.  She bonded to me and just bit everyone else all the more.  A couple of times she would start chirping if she heard my voice but couldn't see me.  The chirping was noticeable since it was so rare to begin with.  When I saw it wasn't helping in her training, I stopped handling her altogether except on rare occasions when Genna needed specific help.  Since I love birds so, it was a big disappointment to me that I had to back off so much.  Things got mildly better, but not as much as we were hoping.  I began to think this is just the way it's going to be for her.

Her big cage was in our school room up on a very high small table so the cat couldn't get to her.  Plus when no one was around we kept the door shut.  She was so quiet that, Trinity, our cat didn't even notice her for over a month.  We had a small perch and small cage for the kitchen island and Cinthy stayed there during the days of summer when we were all around and in the main area all day.  At night she slept in the big cage in the school room.  Trinity normally stays upstairs except when she comes down to eat or drink in the laundry room.  If ever she came down we made sure that the bird was put away in her cage.

A couple days before school started I came downstairs to find the two littlest boys already awake and playing in the school room.  They had left the door open, but Hyacinth was still covered up from the night.  Trinity was crouched on the ground at the foot of her tall table watching the bird cage like a predator.  I immediately shooed her out of the room and closed the door.  Trinity leaned up against the door and sat by it all morning.  I told everyone to be extra alert and careful with the bird today because Trinity appeared to be stalking her suddenly. 

That night while the rest of the family was giggling and wrestling in my bedroom, Genevieve came running upstairs, hysterical.  I couldn't even understand what she was trying to tell us, but Brian immediately was up and running down the stairs.  What we found was a bleeding Hyacinth flopping around in her cage and gasping for each breath.  I picked her up with her special cloth that we used with her and wrapped her up a little and held her as she died, telling her over and over how very sorry I was.

Genna told us she got her out of her small cage and as she turned to go towards the school room to put her in her night time cage she flew from her finger to the ground.  Immediately, Trinity came out from behind the couch and punched on her.  Somehow Genna was able to get her off and she picked her up and put her in the cage while she came to find us.  We never heard the commotion because the boys were being very loud, tickling and wrestling.  It breaks my heart that Genna had to see that.  I feel so utterly responsible for Cinthy's tragic death.  I truly thought Trinity was too old and three-legged to do her any harm.  I thought we cold keep them separate.  I thought we could protect Cinthy.  I was so wrong.  My sweet Genevieve's dream of having a bird came to a bitter end. 

Isaac and Genevieve were the most upset and emotional of the children, but the others were very sensitive to the event.  Hannah was so kind to her sister and tried to make her feel better after our makeshift funeral.  Genna beautifully decorated a box for her after holding her and saying her goodbyes. 

I chose some Bible verses and Brian dug a hole in the backyard.  Isaac was too upset to come to the burial that night so he went to sleep crying.  Bobby and Judah went to bed as well before we went outside.  Afterwards, I came in and started cleaning up all the blood in her cage and I just went ahead and cleaned all her stuff and put everything in the attic, because we obviously cannot have another bird and seeing all her stuff everywhere was painful even for me.  I'll admit I cried my eyes out while doing this.  I was desperately sad that my children were hurting.  I was sad that I had failed to protect this little on in my care.  

I didn't sleep well that night, and it is still a very painful memory for us all.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Isaac turns Eleven!

It's the month of birthdays, between my two siblings and all our families, we have seven birthdays in August.  Isaac's is right before school starts, and we were gearing up for his first year in a brick and mortor school, in this case, the classical charter school that his sisters went to last year.  Last year he was really not ready to start and he begged me to homeschool him.  He didn't actually get a spot in the school anyway so I didn't have to make that decision.  This year I registered him with sibling priority just in case.  Much to my surprise, he was really wanting to start at Great Hearts this year. 

On his birthday, I had to take Genevieve up to school to get her schedule, her locker, and her textbooks.  Then it was time to celebrate.  Isaac wanted to go swimming at his aunt's pool and invite a friend.  We pulled it together kind of last minute, but everything worked out well. 

He also got to pick a restaurant as is our tradition, and since it was Friday we were all able to make it happen on the day of his actual birthday and his uncle, aunt, and cousin were able to come.  He picked Freebirds because he had never been and he found out about the tradition of making something out of your burrito's foil.  Seemed like a fun and easy thing to do.  He is having a group birthday party with Drew and Judah in September.

His eleven year old privilege is to get a personal music player.  We ended up giving him Brian's old Zune and buying him some music off his list, most of which was either classical music or Cosmo Sheldrake.  His guitar teacher told me how excited he was about Isaac's eclectic taste in music and how it's going to play out in his lessons.  I love that about Isaac.  He's killing it on his guitar and piano.  Due to our drastic change in school this year for him, I told him that he couldn't do sports this year if he does two instruments.  His response was "As long as I can still do my instruments."  So I guess that's the right call then.  His only request since then is that he asked to join the Ukulele club at school, but it is at the same time as his guitar lessons with his teacher that he loves so we are going to pass this semester.  His goal is to learn to play as many instruments as possible.  This sounds great, but expensive..

I love you, Isaac!  I love your passion for music and arts and crafts and cooking!  You have a kind heart and a sweet spirit.  Happy birthday!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Reading Aloud

 I am a big proponent of reading aloud to your kids.  It helps with vocabulary and listening skills, not to mention all the great memories we make and all the material for future references and jokes that we can share.  I love it when my big kids get sucked in to picture books that I'm reading. 

This is Isaac and Bob's bed that they currently share.  I've offered to let Bobby move into the other boy room since there is an extra set of bunks in there, but Isaac protests because he loves cuddling with Bobby.  How can I refuse that?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Brakes an Gears

Hannah will be old enough to get her permit in November which is just impossible, right?  Wasn't I just teaching her how to share her toys?  Oh, yes, I was just teaching her to share.  (My blondies all have issues with sharing.)  My point was that it feels like she was just a wee little one, but now she is just centimeters shy of being as tall as me.

Let's set the record straight here about this driving thing.  She didn't even want to do it.  I remember begging my parents for my permit and to teach me to drive, but she is scared to death of it.  I want to teach her in the big van because I think it will be easier to transition to a smaller car later than vise verse.  I had to talk her into this whole thing though; big van or car, she was just plain nervous.

We went to a parking lot and worked on braking and changing gears.  She never even got the nerve up to put on the accelerator!  She just rolled forward and then put on the brakes, put it in reverse and rolled back, etc.  My personal favorite part was when she accidentally honked the horn and just took her foot off of the brake and froze.  Umm, if you're going to panic, can you do it while pressing the brake, please?

Brian said he'll try to take her next time and see if he can make any progress with her.  I just want her to have LOTS of practice before we set her loose one day.  San Antonio is just full of terrible drivers!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Cousin's Superhero Party

It was a dress up party and so Bob was Captain America and Judah was Robin.  Bobby did not stay dressed up for long so these are the only pictures I got.

There were some special visitors, Cap and Hulk!

Judah didn't stay dressed up for long either, but at least I got a good picture first.
The party morphed into a swim party and was the world's longest party because it was also my sister's husband's party too.  It wore these guys out!