Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't Blink: Cecilia Turns Ten!

I say it every year, but every year it is true. I can't believe she is ten.

She celebrated her birthday with a trip to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum,

followed by lunch at Red Robin and an afternoon of video games and fun with grandpa before enjoying a birthday chocolate chip cookie cake and presents.

 Felicity sewed Cecilia a purple heart as a gift and made her a homemade card. Priceless.
 Most of the presents were from my parents...

 James and I bought her her own iPod Nano.

 Cecilia heard yesterday that I was expecting a package from Apple... she assumed it was the iPod Nano. It wasn't. 10 is a milestone birthday, so my mom bought her an iPad Mini, to be used only with parental permission, but for educational apps and video games. It also must be shared. :)

 And James' parents sent her some adorable outfits and pajamas as well as a Walmart gift card and some shopping money!

I think we can officially declare Birthday 10 Cecilia a success! 

Learning Notes: January

Of course, the first half of January was spent on our Florida trip, so school started back up for us a week later than I would usually have done.

I have to admit, our first week back was rough. I mean I knew coming back from a long break and Christmas and a Disney vacation would be a bit of an uphill climb but adding in a cold/fever/congestion/vomit thing made it even harder.

Basically, we spent our first week back just trying to get the bookwork done and keep ahead of the illness. We even had one night when we came scarily close to taking Elizabeth to the ER when her fever hit 105. I'd never had a child with a fever so high but, thank God, within an hour the ibuprofen had taken it down to 102.7, so no such trip was necessary. So yeah, our first week back was just trying to get the minimum done and get healthy, so we finished it a bit behind and with a few of us still sick. We did manage to get one chapter in religion done though, focusing on Jesus' hidden life!

So, I really wanted to try to make the second week count. We trudged through the bookwork and did another chapter in religion, going over Jesus' baptism and the preaching of the Kingdom of God. We also went over a bit about the virtue of gratitude. On Tuesday we began our new unit on ancient Greece by going over a bit about the geography of Greece, what they wore and how it wasn't a country yet but separate, and often warring city states. We listed some of the contributions Greece gave to the world, such as philosophy, democracy, theater, astronomy, etc. We then began reading D'Aulaire's Greek Myths. On Wednesday I spent 3 hours rearranging my living room and then my eat-in part of my kitchen, so we didn't get done quite as much as I hoped, but it had been driving me crazy and now we can do school on our full, expanded table and all of us can sit at it to eat together!

We did still manage to do some science though! We read Dr. Seuss' There's No Place Like Space and then used the Memoria Press Astronomy book to learn about the Sun, Mercury and Venus. We did two of their workbook pages as well which went over terms like revolution, rotation, axis, orbit, asteroid, solar, etc. Considering there is still a fair amount of coughing and congestion going around and we lost Thursday morning to a double wellness doctor appointment for Brigid and Cecilia, we got a fair amount of work done. Hopefully things will get better, easier and pick up in February.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mid-Year Homeschooling Review

While I am always trying to evaluate how we are doing in school and how things could be better, I find a midyear review helpful. And, not surprisingly, I'm planning a few changes for the second half of the year.

Sometimes I think the workbooks have too much busy work but I'm not sure of a way around that yet aside from assigning alternating problems, so for the time being, we are sticking with what we have been doing, which is working more or less.

Writing (Handwriting, Typing, Spelling, English)
The only changes in this category are that I've let Cecilia stop doing her Spelling book. I was quizzing her on the words and she might get one wrong per lesson... she is beyond her level in Spelling and apparently some schools drop it as a subject by 4th grade. I would, however, like to begin giving her writing assignments and get her writing more. So, while Elizabeth will continue with her handwriting, spelling and english and Felicity will continue with these plus typing, I'm hoping to for Cecilia to do english and then type up book reports (see Reading) and write a journal (see Religion).

Reading (Vocabulary, Reading)
Cecilia enjoys reading and recently finished The Lord of the Rings after reading The Hobbit and is now 3 books into the Little House series. I'd like to start asking her to type up a book report after she reads a book, although I admit it has been so insanely long since I wrote one I might need to jog my memory on the proper way to do that. Felicity enjoys reading in spurts... she spends several days plowing through pages of a book and then drops it for several days. Repeat. Elizabeth's reading is more here and there. I'm thinking of implementing a "Sibling Reading" time when the older ones would read books to the younger ones, which would not only give Felicity and Elizabeth more reading time, but Teresa and Brigid more time being read to and maybe, just maybe, more sanity time for me! Cecilia and Felicity are continuing with their Vocabulary books but I don't think Elizabeth needs to finish her phonics book... she has been whizzing through it without a problem.

I really like the Faith and Life series but after going over salvation history 5 times in 5 years, Cecilia is getting bored. So while I plan to continue with it with Felicity and Elizabeth, I'm planning on doing something a little different for Cecilia. I want to begin introducing her to the early Church Fathers. I love one friend's suggestion of using the second reading from the Office of Readings which are often hearty but bite-sized morsels of writings of the early Church Fathers as well as my husband's suggestion to use Pope Benedict's general audiences as biographies on the Fathers but I'm not sure how to break that up or assign that. If I assign a reading for each week, the reading from which day? Or should I let her pick? I'd love for her to do a written journal reflecting on the readings but I haven't quite figured out how I'd organize this yet.

Latin/Poetry/Music/ Spanish
First of all, while I do like the Little Latin Readers and do hope to come back to them, one child loves them, one loves the verbal and hates the written and one simply refuses to acknowledge its existence and hides behind a chair. So I thought we'd take a break from them and I was inspired by Mass a couple weeks ago for a replacement. Our parish sings many of the parts of the Mass in Latin and while my oldest knows the Pater Noster, the others tend to use the excuse that it isn't in English so they can't do it. Well, no more. I've decided we are going to combine poetry, music and latin into one lesson and spend time with ALL of us, even the littles, learning the various parts of the Mass in Latin, or Greek for the Kyrie. They will memorize, sing and learn another language AND be better able to understand and participate in the Mass. I'm also hoping to schedule some piano lesson time with daddy for them. Cecilia continues to use Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish and quite enjoys it.

We finished a nice unit on archeology and I'm really looking forward to doing some astronomy with the girls. It won't be easy to do a lot of star-gazing between the cloudy nights and the amount of light pollution but we will do our best during these shorter days. I plan on doing sections on the solar system, the moon, stars and touch on comets, meteors, asteroids, galaxies, black holes and any other questions that come up. We will make a model of our solar system together and I'm hoping visit the Milwaukee Astronomy Observatory as well as a planetarium. In addition, I really want to spend more time in nature so I am planning on a trip to the Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes) in February and the Wehr Nature Center beginning in March as well as Boerner Botanical Gardens after they reopen in April and the Bookworm Gardens beginning in May. I'm hoping we can do regular outings/walks/hikes at the Wehr center during the warmer weather and I will see if a membership at the Boerner gardens might be a worthwhile investment.

We will do two units to finish out the school year: Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I wrote more about them at the beginning of the year and don't have anything to really change about them yet. All three girls will continue their geography books. We still haven't gotten to two museums I had hoped to get to but I'm still hoping maybe in the Spring that will happen.

Art, Home Economics
I am hoping to take the oldest three to the Milwaukee Ballet to see Alice in Wonderland in May as well as a local production of Antigone (my favorite of the Greek plays) in April. We will also do a second trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum. I still would love to get the girls a pottery class but I haven't figured out the logistics of that yet. And I am hoping we can do a cheese making tour at the Clock Shadow Creamery. I also hope we may get back to a few sewing projects and try a few new recipes as well.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Disney (Part 3 of 3)

On our last day, we had breakfast at Chef Mickey's.
Donald is my favorite and this was the first chance we had to meet him. Love that duck!
Pluto was fun. He "licked" and kissed Brigid and Teresa and panted at Thomas wiggling his whiskers for him. 
Mickey was a bit confused why the kids from two tables were running up to him at once but he eventually figured out we were all together. Unfortunately when Teresa tried to touch his nose he play scolded her but she didn't realize it was in jest and got quite upset. 
So when Minnie showed up she ran up for a big hug and didn't want to let go.
And Minnie came over and gave Thomas a kiss and let him grab her nose. It was too cute.
After breakfast we loaded up the car and checked out. We had stayed in the Contemporary's Bay Lake Tower with an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom. Several nights we watched the fireworks from our hotel room and had amazing sunsets.
 We went to Downtown Disney for a little bit, which is now called Disney Springs, but it was under so much construction it was a mess. Then we began the long drive home. We drove all night and once again it took about 23 hours to get home and we were all very tired but it was a fun time for everyone.
We also discovered during the trip that Thomas LOVES to give hugs. When he is in the mood. :)