Lots of laughing and lots of learning going on here recently. We're also loud, lively, and often lazy. And here are some photos of lovely learning in the last couple weeks. These are from the Museum of Science and History, and from our Nature Club at the Botanical Gardens.
I'm pretty happy with how we're progressing in just a few weeks back with homeschooling. We're making headway with Texas History and Anatomy. We read about the Texas Revolution today, and I'm learning things I've totally forgotten since middle school! I'm hoping we can visit some of the sites this spring (definitely Goliad and maybe the Alamo). I've spent some good time with Ellie working on her religion book and starting to prepare for her First Holy Communion. Mary Clare is learning so much as she participates in the 4H show this week.
I could write a love letter to the All About Spelling publishers. This week I realized just how many reading, spelling, and phonics programs we've used over the past several years...100 Easy Lessons, Funnix computer-based Reading, CHC Spelling, Seton Spelling, Phonetic Zoo Spelling, Sound Beginnings (phonics), the Writing Road to Reading Phonics/Spelling (only lasted a couple weeks on that one), and Explode the Code and MCP Phonics workbooks.
(A wonderful older gentleman gave a very infomative talk on Rocks & Minerals while we were at the museum.)
AAS makes me feel like I've finally found a program that works well for us, at least for now. It's so easy to use, and fun for the kids. It's colorful and interactive. And we can learn spelling rules without the dreaded WRTR "Spelling Notebook!" I switched Mary Clare to it, and she likes it so far. I think the colorful dry erase markers to use on the magnetic white-board, along with the letter tiles, are helping in that area. I went ahead and ordered the 2nd book since the girls will be moving to that soon, and I also bought the All About Reading Pre-Reading program to start with Steven Joseph! I am still in shock that he is 5 and will be in Kindergarten next year. How can time go by so quickly?
(Tommy was obsessed with this helicopter and the button that spun its propeller).
I am thankful for Auntie Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter. Her posts about discipline and about home education have been very inspirational for me. I was struggling with the thought of teaching writing in the near future, feeling like I am getting behind because of our focus on reading and phonics. But in her post "A good sentence or: What do do while you are not panicking about teaching your child to write," she encouraged homeschooling moms to wait until middle school to teach writing. I had initially hoped to do that anyway, innately knowing that my kids would probably be ready for it at that time. But it's so good to hear from someone who has been there, and done that, successfully.
For now, we keep reading good books, focusing on phonics and spelling and handwriting, and letting them write when they so desire. How they get discouraged when I force them to write a paragraph! It's so hard when you are still struggling to spell and to use correct grammar and sentence structure! They can write on their own when they'd like to. But read, read, read, needs to be my focus. Lots of read-alouds and lots of read-alone time. I need to put together a good reading list for myself, too. I thought this program "The Well Read Mom" would be a good thing to start in my area. Maybe I can host this at my home!
I have been watching some videos of some precious singing sisters named Lennon and Maisy. Have you seen them? They are so talented! They exude a raw beauty and confidence. But I can't help but think about them and mourn their childhoods. Maybe I'm wrong and they'll stay grounded amidst the publicity and media hype. I hope I am. One of them stated in an interview something about how they "grew up on a farm" and how they're "able to have their career together." And I thought...they haven't grown up yet! They're 9 and 13 or something. And how can they know that this is their career? They're children!
Anyway, I don't like criticizing other families' choices but it does help me reflect on what I want our children to be exposed to, or not be exposed to. What I want their childhoods to be like. I guess it's more, what I think God is asking of our family and how he wants us to raise our children. How and when to slowly expose them to the world around us. Who am I to judge famous families? But I think we all know the overwhelming result of that industry. Sometimes I worry about this issue with ballet, wanting to make sure they're in a good environment, a safe and supportive place with children whose parents have similar values. Now that they're in another ballet production, they've been having rehearsals lasting several hours. They are spending lots of time with people I don't know well, and I just have to trust that they are able to handle the slow exposure to the world outside of our little "Catholic homeschooling bubble."
So anyway, back to family life. We had lots of people over on Friday. I mean lots. 6 families with a total of 25 kids or so, with Mary Clare as the oldest! I finally cleaned up the playroom just now ;) We picked up pizzas for lunch and I made a crockpot Balsamic Chicken with pasta and salad for dinner, and s'mores! Only 2 families stayed for dinner though, with another coming for the dessert. That would've been a huge crowd to feed! I'm really excited about hosting more things at our new house. We have some visitors planned for the first weekend in February, which is right before my birthday! I'm putting together a team to do a "Color Run" 5K where they shoot colored powder at you throughout the run. It'll be about 5 moms and some of our girls, too!
I'm doubtful I'll be able to run the whole 5K. I haven't done much running. I did some elliptical last week at the gym, but my free trial ran out and I'm not sure I'll join the gym. I like Zumba too much, and didn't care for the teachers there. I should be jogging around the neighborhood with the girls. Maybe we'll start later this week. At least my stamina is better, but I've got to do some running, too. Should be a fun birthday weekend!
I'll leave with these photos from the Botanical Gardens, so I can get to bed! Have a wonderful Wednesday! Thanks for listening to my rambling :)
(I think the windmill was a Mary Clare photo)
(SJ was popular that day, since he brought the football. There was an argument about it being touch or tackle football, and he just walked away with his ball. Guess who won the argument?)
(pretty watercolor painting)
(And gotta add this cute trike pic at the end. Shoeless, of course. These kids do not like to wear shoes! Don't you love the Texas flag curb address in the background? Not ours, but Texas pride!)