Saturday, August 9, 2014

HomeSchool Review I

The photos in this post are all photos I discovered on my iPad taken either by Teresa or Brigid, though I know the yellow ones are Brigid. 

A few years ago I made a point of doing weekly summaries of our schooling and what we were up to. And then I stopped and haven't bothered since. Melanie over at The Wine Dark Sea has been doing weekly posts of their events of the week and it reminded me of those posts way back when. 

And it occurred to me that, while such posts are valuable any time in and of themselves, they might be especially helpful to me right now given our present circumstances. Packing our home (we are about 3/4 done), moving about 800 miles, buying our first house and with the excited anticipation of baby #6's arrival in October, such a series of posts might be particularly beneficial. I can't worry about too many days ahead right now and I expect, come September, I won't remember too much of our schooling from August. True, I have a schedule that I mark off as we go. I don't mean to imply we'd be totally adrift without said posts. But given the time of transition we are in, they may prove particularly helpful in the long run. 

We began our new school year this week. Cecilia is now in 4th grade, Felicity moved up to 2nd and Elizabeth is beginning 1st. Elizabeth might struggle a little bit but as she only turned 5 in June, I won't be especially demanding or rigorous with her. She still has the last quarter of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons to finish but was clearly getting bored with the Kindergarten math book and reading comes easier to her than it did to Cecilia or Felicity (she could breeze through the remaining lessons pretty quickly if she wanted to) so I simply think it is best to move on to 1st while finishing her reading lessons and, frankly, even if she gets "behind" on my schedule, she is already ahead so it doesn't really matter. (And since Wisconsin doesn't require notification until a child is 6 years old, I don't even have to worry about telling the state much less what to tell them.)

MONDAY we kicked off just getting everyone back into the swing of things. Interestingly enough, the girls were super excited to get started. They raced through their morning chores to get to school. Clearly they were bored out of their minds and really needed that constancy of school to start again. 
We did History together, which was only half a chapter to ease us back into it. I can't say as I'm too worried about Elizabeth's paying much attention to History as we are about to cover a ton of wars and she is only 5, so what she hears, great, what she doesn't, she will when she is older. Elizabeth did get done her Phonics, Geography and Math. Cecilia got done Geography, Handwriting and Poetry as well as 1 lesson in her Math book (she needs to do 4 each week.) Felicity's mirth began to wane though when she realized the usual 5 pages in Phonics was actually closer to 10 due to the numbering of the lessons. (I think they did that since some of it was such easy review, but I schedule by lesson numbers, not by page numbers.) I told her she didn't need to do all of it that day but she was adamant she wanted to finish the subject for the week. She did finish but I was sorry she had such an unhappy start. 

Fortunately they had fun playing outside that afternoon. Elizabeth and Felicity filled the water table outside with water and when it was warmed up by the sun they decided to make soup of it. Butt soup. Thank goodness they were clothed but yes, they proceeded to sit in it to make Butt Soup. Never let it be said I am not raising perfect little ladies. 

TUESDAY Cecilia surprised me with another lesson finished in her Math book before I even got out of bed. But after that we didn't do any school. I had an OB check up - YAY for normal glucose test results! - and then I picked up a few of their friends to come over for a playdate. James made homemade queso for a chips and cheese lunch and I picked up snow cones for everyone to celebrate Our Lady of the Snows and the kids all basically played with their friends for 6 1/2 hours. Nothing like a holiday the second day of school!

WEDNESDAY was a very long school day, though not by my choice. In the morning Cecilia did another math lesson, her Latin, English and Spelling. Felicity got done her Math, Geography and Handwriting and Elizabeth did her Handwriting, English, 1 reading lesson, and Geography. After lunch I did Religion with all of them. Elizabeth only listens so long on longer subjects like this one but, again, being 5, she has plenty of time to learn what she doesn't get now later. 
At this point, I was fried and totally prepared to call it a day, but Cecilia and Felicity weren't ready to stop. Despite being so done that she struggled to put any words in ABC order, Felicity insisted on finishing her Spelling, English, Poetry and Latin. And Cecilia forced herself through her last Math lesson, Vocabulary and Typing. It was near 5 o' clock before we finished. 

THURSDAY I left the house with Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth by 8am to head to a friend's house for a playdate. Teresa stayed home with James since their yard isn't fenced and I'm too pregnant to be chasing a 3 year old into the street. Brigid stayed home because Teresa was and it made things easier for me. We don't normally do so many playdates in a single week but we are trying to pack them in before we move. We stayed at their house until around noon and then picked up Chick FilA on the way home. After lunch I did Science with all the girls and Cecilia and Felicity were done for the week. Seeing Cecilia play Club Penguin on the computer and Felicity play on the WiiU motivated Elizabeth to want to finish school so she could play too. So I took her to James's office and we did her first Latin lesson, 3/4 of her Spelling lesson, 1 reading lesson and began Poetry. Elizabeth struggled with Poetry, similar to Felicity when she was asked to memorize her first Poem. Cecilia had an easier time memorizing poems but even her improvement amazes me with how fast she can memorize. Felicity has definitely improved this year as well, so I'm sure Elizabeth will as well but she got frustrated so we stopped for the day. 

FRIDAY I was planning on a more relaxing day but it never happened. From packing a couple of boxes to giving James a haircut and then finishing Elizabeth's Spelling, Poetry and 1 more reading lesson (she is up to lesson 77 now). I also cleaned up and took down the kids play table outside. Then I vacuumed the living room and playroom, both of which so desperately needed it. 

This week school was a bit squished by the playdates but I never needed to insist any of the girls push through to finish anything and we aren't behind yet! I'm sure we will get behind by the week of Labor Day (the week we move into the new house) so I'm going to do my darnedest to keep us as on track as possible until then. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moving Update

I'm sorry my poor blog has been so quiet.

Basically the past month has been swim lessons, driving to and from Wisconsin to look at houses, and packing. Lots of packing.

As Felicity and Elizabeth have been making vast improvements in their swimming, this is what I've gotten done:

Boxes and boxes all the way to the corner.

And that pile doesn't include the boxes James packed form his home office of books... about 45 boxes, mostly of books.

We are over half packed, maybe 3/4 packed, and making more progress each day. But I am almost 28 weeks now and simply can only do so many boxes in a day. We have packed all the easier stuff and are now down to more of a "What is left to pack that we don't need out right now?" approach.

I had scheduled school to start next week and we will begin as scheduled but we won't be able to do everything I had initially hoped or intended. We will simply do our best and play catch up later.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Moving NorthWest

Well, it has been a whirlwind few weeks here.

James has been offered a teaching position at a seminary in Wisconsin and we have accepted it.

Please whisper a prayer for us as we prepare for the transition.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Elizabeth Becomes a Whole Hand

On Tuesday, our darling Elizabeth turned 5 years old. We went out to eat at Red Robin for her birthday lunch and then picked up snow cones.

On Wednesday, we had a birthday party. She asked for a Tangled themed party.

Our local bakery made a lovely and delicious Rapunzel cake. 

We had over a few friends and her godparents. 

She quite a nice selection of books, including several Froggy books

Frog and Toad are Friends. 

And Twelve Magical Musical Masters, which plays songs with a biography from 12 classical composers. This is actually our second copy because all the girls adored our first so much they used it until even new batteries could not resurrect it. 

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Wii game. 

And DVD. Can you guess she is fond of frogs and turtles? 

A rare smile. (We got up this morning to two girls with congestion and Elizabeth with a fever. I'm pretty sure it is just a cold running through the house, but it explains why she so rarely smiled through most of these pictures.)

An awesome Sofia the First coloring and activity book from her godparents. 

Her own sleeping bag, in green. Guess what her favorite color is? Yeah, I think that has something to do with why she likes turtles and frogs so much, but green suits her perfectly. 

A camp chair so she has her own chair the next time we go camping. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legos

A Frozen Anna costume with boots, displayed by Cecilia. 

Each of the girls has a collection of pins from Disney World. 

Cecilia took three of her own and put them in an envelope as a present for Elizabeth for her birthday.

A small Ninja Turtles Lego set.

And a medium Ninja Turtles Lego set. 

A Vtech computer from Brigid's godparents. 

A guest very happy to get a snippet of ribbon. 

My dad helps Elizabeth read her cards. 

Another rare smile!

Elizabeth as Anna. (Blurry but smiling)

Elizabeth as Anna (in focus but phony smiling )

Everyone had a fun time and Elizabeth is proud to declare herself now an American Heritage Girl. She has been counting down for two years until she would be 5 and could become a Pathfinder. 

They do grow up so fast!

Happy Birthday my Sweet Elizabeth!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Since we were less than an hour from Orlando, it only made sense to stop by Disney for a couple of days before heading home. So we spent 2 days, one at the Magic Kingdom and one at the Hollywood Studios.

I don't have quite so many pictures of Disney (you can breathe a sigh of relief) for two simple reasons. One, we've been there several times before so, apart from the kids, there isn't much for me to take pictures of I haven't already. And two, 5 small kids overstimulated with a pregnant mommy makes for a busy day and I simply wasn't reaching for my phone or camera very much. There were a few highlights though.

While my parents and James took Felicity, Elizabeth and Teresa on the Haunted Mansion, Cecilia, Brigid and I browsed. Brigid seemed to be having teething pain and was overtired when she spotted a Mickey and Minnie just her size and just within her reach. She actually tried to grab multiples of them but I held her at one each. She refused to let them go though. Rather than set off an overtired, grumpy teether, I just bought them. Teresa tried multiple times to lift them from her but Brigid now has her own small Mickey and Minnie in her crib that she sleeps with every night. 

The last time we were here there was still a fair amount of construction through Fantasy Land. I liked the finished Rapunzel's tower even if it does only mark a bathroom, it was a much appreciated bathroom when Brigid really needed one. 

We did not get on the new Snow White and the 7 Dwarves coaster. It will be on our list next time but it had not opened yet when we got our fast passes and we simply were not willing to wait 90 minutes to ride it. 

Felicity really wanted to ride Thunder Mountain Railroad but it was closed for technical difficulties when we were by it and later the wait was too long. She is still upset she never got on it, so it will be a high priority the next time we go. My daredevil girl. 

I couldn't resist buying just a couple of baby boy items. 

The girls met Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope. Brigid was hesitant but fascinated. 

Felicity is a huge Vanellope fan. 

Teresa was a bit hesitant of the huge Ralph but still loved them. 

Teresa is a HUGE Mickey fan. She cannot let him pass by if she sees him. 

So adorable. I think a Mickey cartoon where he babysits Teresa is in order. 

I have a picture of each of the girls meeting Mickey or Minnie as a baby or toddler. In Cecilia's she grabbed Mickey's nose. Felicity, my shy one, didn't get quite so close. Elizabeth took Minnie's hand. Teresa cuddled Mickey. But I didn't have one of Brigid. 

I'm not sure I can decide which is better, but, like Cecilia, we got another nose-grabber. We'll forget afterwards she tried to poke him in the eye. Too cute though. 

Teresa knows you can't have Mickey without Minnie and she lit up meeting her. While she had met Mickey before, I don't think she had ever met Minnie. 

Brigid gave her a kiss on the nose. Priceless. 

Everyone had a good time and the girls didn't want to leave. 

Friday, June 20th, we began driving back home. It took until 2am (a special thanks to the construction in Virginia that closed 3 lanes of I95) to get home, but we made it back without stopping at a hotel. 

Naturally the girls have been going through vacation withdrawal. Fortunately the DVD of The Lego Movie arrived when we got home and it has been easing their pain. 

I'm rather proud to have finished the unpacking and laundry in only 3 days, especially considering one of those was a Sunday, during which I generally prefer not to do anything. 

P.S. - If you go to Disney and meet any characters, they have cast members who will offer to take pictures for you and you can download them later. We've done this before and the advantage is you can be in the picture or hold your child for the picture. However, I only discovered this week that Disney has significantly upped the prices just to download a picture. Not to print, but just to download one picture is $14.95. So I heartily recommend just taking the photos yourself or, if you have a very young one, having someone with you to take it for you. (And they aren't professional photographers anyway... one I didn't download but would have been a great shot was totally blurry and three of these I had to lighten.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

LegoLand Florida - Day 2

Since we had never been to LegoLand before, I planned two days for the visit to make sure we had a chance to do everything we wanted.

We began our second day in the Imagination Zone, which fortunately had Duplo tables to help occupy the younger ones.

The middle girls tried to build Duplo buildings that could withstand an earthquake test.

Felicity was taking no chances. No way that building is going anywhere. 

And Cecilia built a Lego car and tested out how fast it was. 

As well as how well it handled the steep slopes. It was an impressive success. There is also a robotics room for older kids, but we weren't ready for that. 

There is a video game room, which the girls played in for a few minutes while the adults soaked up the A/C

I loved the Lego Movie poster in the game room made entirely of single Lego pieces. 

Teresa loved the Lego giraffe and insisted we take her picture with it. 

In the Technic Lego section, the girls went on a circular airboat ride (represented here by my photographing a lego octopus attacking some lego divers... don't ask me why... it was hot.)

And Felicity asked James to take her on Project X. Felicity is my daredevil and she likes the coasters. So far she is my only girl to ride on them. 

Then we went to MiniLand, which consists of islands of models of various places built entirely out of Legos. Here is Washington D.C., complete with marching band. 


Rockefeller Center, NYC. 

They also have lego models from Star Wars films including a life-size R2D2

and life-size Lego Darth Vader. 

The Kennedy Space Center. 

We had almost seen and done everything we had any interest in doing (apart from their Water Park, which we weren't up for with so many little ones) but we couldn't leave without visiting the train ride again. And just in case you weren't sure how much Brigid loved that train ride...

And this time Felicity and Elizabeth got a chance to ride as well. 

Then we visited the gift shops and did our part to sustain the park (cough!). 

Each of the four oldest got foam swords and shields. Felicity's is pink with a unicorn. Elizabeth's is elongated with a lion. Cecilia, ready to go to Hogwarts as soon as she receives a letter, got one with a Griffin on it. Perhaps fittingly, Teresa's bears a green dragon. On her way out of the park she stopped to slay the giant lego dragon/dinosaur by the front gate. 

Really, it is an adorable park and a lot of fun. It is also really designed for young kids, like Brigid's age up through tweens, which was absolutely perfect for us. 

By the afternoon though, we were ready to hit the road for our second stop before heading home.