Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Three

Our third week of school had smooth spots and rough spots.  I guess this is typical, though, right?

In Literature, we completed Black Beauty and wrote a book report on it.  Tomorrow we will pick out our next book, and now that we are in the swing of things, I am going to do a better job of planning out the timing so that we finish this one in two weeks instead of four!  I found a great site that has lots of companionship resources for classics, so we're going to use some of these worksheets as we read through the next book.  Also, I think Hunter will be presenting his book report orally this time.  Time to start working on those oral presentation skills!

Hunter didn't concentrate as well on learning his spelling words this week, and got a B.  Don't get me wrong; a B is still good.  I just know that it is not his best, since he has shown that with the right amount of studying and focus he is able to get an A.  

In math, we reviewed Greatest Common Factors - something we had just begun to touch on at the end of last year - and tackled Least Common Multiples.  He remembered GCF's very well; LCM's were rough at first, but once he got the idea, he did them easily.  Near the end of the week, we started learning about operations with decimals, which we will continue this next week.

Science/Bible/Social Studies - plowing ahead.  Nothing remarkable to report.

Although on Monday, Hunter dragged his math out all. day. loooooooong....  on Friday he had all of his homework done by 11:00 a.m.  This allowed us a nice afternoon of field trips: a trip to Sam's Club to get a couple of items (and try all the tasty samples, of course!), and a surprise outing to the movie theater to see Lion King in 3D!  The kids had never seen the Lion King (I was surprised!) so it was twice as fun as I originally thought it would be.  We all had a blast - it was really fun to watch them watch the movie, and it was also fun to see a movie that I saw the first time it was in the theater 17 years ago!

Yesterday, Hunter attended his first youth group activity.  The youth group met to help clean the church, and then went out to Pizza Hut for pizza (Hunter's favorite. food. ever.).  He had a good time, and it's good to see him starting to get involved in things like this.  

This week, Kaleigh memorized John 3:16 and the Pledge of Allegiance.  She is also working on the Pledge to the Awana flag, and almost has it down.  When she completes that one on Wednesday  night, she'll get her book and start working on more verses!  I was a little concerned about her ability to memorize, but she is doing a great job!  We will continue to recite the verses she has already memorized, so that she doesn't forget them over time.  Her learning to read is also coming along very well.  Every day she is sounding out more words, often all on her own.  One day this past week, she came to where I was working in the kitchen and said, "Mom!  'O-N' spells 'on' and 'O-F-F' spells 'off'!"  She was so excited that she had figured that out.  It was very cool.  We also got a hold of a used Kids Boggle game, which she loves to play; that is also giving her exposure to more words and teaching her how to recognize them.  It is missing a couple of letter cubes, so I need to get to a craft supply store and find some blank cubes that I can use to make replacement cubes.

I got a couple of boxes of my scrapbooking and sewing things unpacked, and I'm starting to get a nice little crafting area set up in the basement. I feel like the unpacking is coming kind of slowly at this point, but I also feel a tiny bit of accomplishment every time I get through another couple of boxes.  I keep thinking of that scene in The Incredibles where the mom unpacks the final box years after they've been in the home and says, "We're officially moved in!"  That's going to be me!  HAHA!!

Well, the Packer game is on and requires my full attention; so I'm going to wrap this up.  

Happy Autumn!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Week Two

Our second week of school was MUCH less stressful than our first week!  I can't even begin to describe how much of a relief this is to me. 

Of course at the end of last week, I was giving myself pep talks: "It's just the first week.  We're still getting into the swing of things.  It will get better."  But there was still that little nagging... concern... at the back of my mind that we were starting the year off with a struggle and it was only going to go downhill from there.

I'm so glad my louder "voice" was right.

Hunter got an 'A' on his first spelling test!  He worked really hard on his first week of words.  He begrudgingly learned some new things in math (he strongly dislikes new concepts in math - he only wants to do things he already knows how to do).  He struggled through science, but that was basically because he wasn't paying attention to the questions; he often gets into the habit of reading the first few words of a question, guessing at the rest of the question, and then answering the imaginary question instead of the real one!  The second time through, he did much better :).  He is still enjoying Black Beauty, and is almost finished with it, at which point he will prepare his first book report!  We started the new reading comprehension book this week, and I really like it.  It's much more in-depth and creative than the one we used last year.

Kaleigh's main schooling right now comprises learning to read, memorizing verses for Sparks, and growing her comprehension of numbers.  I am taking a "play" approach to Kindergarten; most of her "work" is done through games that we play together, or observations as we go through our day-to-day life.

We are still waiting for another foster placement.  I'm ready (or at least, I *think* I'm ready) for more kids in the house, but I know God's timing is perfect; so whenever I'm tempted to start getting impatient or anxious about it, I just pray and ask God to give me peace and keep His hands on our future little ones, wherever they may be right now.

The cooler weather has been such a blessing this week.  I just love fall!  This segue from summer into winter, when the temps are hovering in the 50s and 60s, is my absolute favorite time of year.  I need to find the battery charger for my camera, so that we can get outside and take our school pics while the weather is so perfectly crisp!

After being sick all last week, and spending all of this week trying to dig out from under the pile of laundry and cleaning and shopping and dishes, I was glad to be able to get a little more organizing and unpacking done in the office today.  I still have TONS to get done, but every little bit helps, and the office is where the majority of the unpacking is left to be done.  Getting that area organized has been a daunting task, but I think once I'm through it, a big part of the remaining unpacking will go fairly quickly.

I had more I wanted to include in this post, but my head is pounding like crazy, so I think it's time to stop typing and give my eyes a break from the computer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Cousin. My Friend.

My fabulous cousin just had her second beautiful baby girl!  I am almost more excited about Emma than I was two years ago when Annie (her big sister) was born!  Although I have to say, it's pretty much a tie :).  

My cousin and I are only six months apart, and grew up together.  The children of a traveling church planter, my mom and my cousin's dad put down roots and stayed here when their parents (and four other siblings) moved on.  When we were kids, we didn't see each other as much as we wanted to.  And so, to be perfectly honest, we weren't exactly "best friends" or anything.  In high school, we lived in different worlds, went to very different schools, had different friends, and seemingly different interests - although looking back, I realize our interests weren't all that different: we both played sports, were cheerleaders, played musical instruments.  Although we got along and enjoyed each other's company, I can't really say we were "close."

Since becoming "grown ups," we've become what I can now confidently call "close."  She got married long before I even had a serious relationship, but even though we still didn't have much in common, somewhere around that time we both kind of grew into a new stage of life.  The pieces that would give us the capacity to become more than cousins were finally falling into place.  

I think I would say that it was a little over two years ago, when Randy and I were dealing with the whole situation with the kids, during which time Annie was born, when she and I really began to grow closer.

Like sisters, we were bound by a relationship neither of us had any say in.  And since I had only brothers, and she was an only child for 11 years, we were each the closest thing to a sister the other had, at least as young children.  And now, we are more than cousins: we are friends.

And I guess that is why I am so excited about Emma, and know that I will love her every bit as I love her sister and her Mommy.  I couldn't possibly be more excited for her if we WERE sisters; and the girls are the closest things to nieces that I have right now.

So congrats to my gorgeous cousin Tina and her lovely family.  I love you all so much, and cannot wait to meet the sweet little new addition :).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Official Week of School

Well, we got through it.

It was definitely not the world's easiest first week of school, not by a long shot.  But together, we got through it. 

I was sick all week with a bad virus, so no "first day of school" pics.  I was doing well to get through all of Hunter's lessons with him.

Kaleigh didn't even do school work this week because I just wasn't up to it.  She has been doing a series of sort of "screening" tests for the last couple of weeks, so I can get an idea of where she's at and what she needs to learn this year.  She went above and beyond the goals I mentally set for her last year, so in many sub-areas, she is well ahead of the "typical" student starting kindergarten; however, there are a few things that I can see we need to work on.  She is somewhat lazy as far as reading; she has known most of the letters and their sounds since she was 3, and has known all of them except Y and W (sounds) since early last year.  We have been working on putting the sounds together in 3-letter words, and though she can clearly do it, she seems uninterested in learning to read overall.  It's definitely not something I can relate to!  I wanted to read SO badly that I started at 3 and was reading by 4.  At her age, I was sitting in a mainstream kindergarten class trying to figure out why a teacher was teaching me things I already knew! LOL.

Oops, sorry for that little sidetrack :).

Anyway...  Here's what I did with Hunter this week:

We continued science and Bible from last year; there's not much of a difference between the content at the 5th and 6th grade levels in those subjects, and why would we discard all the learning he can still gain from the 5th grade books just to put him in a book that says "6th grade" on it?

In reading, we are going to have more guided reading this year; I am going to alternate between current works and classics.  Last year, I let him pick what he wanted most of the year, because I just wanted him to READ.  He has developed enough of an enjoyment for reading, that I think he will get more out of guided reading this year than he did early on last year, when I tried the same thing.  Right now, we are reading Black Beauty, and he is really enjoying it, which makes me very happy :).  I am also planning to do reading comprehension again this year, but probably 2-3 times per week, rather than every day like last year.  I guess I'm kind of swapping the ratio on literature and comprehension this year.  Also, sort of related, my mom got me a bunch of used books from one of the schools where she teaches, so between that initial stockpile and Goodwill, I don't anticipate any shortage of good reading material.

We still have some catching up to do in math, but he is much closer to 6th grade level than he was to 5th grade level at this point last year, if that makes any sense.  Meaning, I think we made significant progress in getting him caught up last year.   He is now learning how to do long division with a 2-digit divisor.  He doesn't care for it any more than I did at his age, but by the end of the week, he was catching on.

In spelling, we also continued with his 5th grade book.  We use Zaner-Bloser, which is pretty advanced anyway; and when you get behind in a subject that already doesn't come naturally for you, well...  Let's just say I think spelling is going to be one of those things he always has to work harder at than anything else.
I am still putting together a social studies curriculum.  More on that later.

Well, I guess that's about it for the summary of our first week of school.

I hope the rest of you, whether homeschooling or with kids in mainstream school, had a great start to the school year as well!