Friday, November 14, 2014

November 1-14, 2014

I didn't think we would ever get our groove back after vacation, but we did!  I ordered some new books from Amazon and that served to inspire us and get us back on track!
Piper has started a dog walking business, which takes a chunk of time out of our mornings, but there are so many positives to this that I can't complain.

We completed the first 3 parts of Chapter 3 in American Chemical Society's Middle School Chemistry.  I realized that, like my girls, I over complicate things.  I don't think it can be THAT simple.  If the mass is 200g and the volume is 100cm³ it can't be that simple that the density is 2g/cm³.  But, my realizing this about myself is helping me to help them figure out how not to overcomplicate everything.
We FINALLY purchased a membership to Liberty Science Center--I have wanted to do this since we began homeschooling!  We spent a few hours there one weekend and explored a wonderful interactive Rubik's Cube Exhibit and a world renowned Guitar exhibit.

Allie has completed Chapter 5 in Teaching Textbooks Algebra and Piper has completed Chapter 3 in Math 7.  They will each complete one more chapter and then they can take a break until after Christmas.  Normally, we take off much of December, but since we had a hard time getting back on track after vacation, I've set some goals for us to reach before we take a break.  This will enable us to take the summer off again, which we all enjoyed and felt was necessary and put us in a good place to start up again in September.

Our Film Study has changed the way we watch movies.  We have discussed Plot and Theme, Characterization and Symbolism and now we are on to things like lighting and camera angles...WOW, learning about that completely changes the way you watch a film.  When the camera zooms in on a face, we realize that we are going to have an intimate moment with a character, maybe get some insight into them.  We have had some cross-over between Film Study and Immigration Study in watching movies related to the time period we are studying.  Since the girls asked me to track their hours, I am counting the films we watch for Immigration Study toward Immigration, but the time we spend discussing camera angles and lighting, plot and symbolism toward Film Study.
We watched The Men Who Built America AGAIN--I love this series!  This time, the girls completed note booking pages and then we used EdSite's Robber Barons and Captains of Industry to further our understanding of these men's contributions.

My favorite thing we are studying is our Immigration Study.  I have always loved historical novels.  I put this on Instagram and one of my friends from elementary school commented: "Ha!  I remember memorizing dates for history tests.  I can not recall one of them now.  But put the information in a novel, add some of the culture and story and life of the people of the time and it becomes a part of who you are."  I thought that was really true.  We read Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix, which was a great book for Young Adults about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire which was, until 9/11, the event where more people lost their lives in one place in New York City.  We learned about the lives of the workers and conditions in the sweatshops.  We found a movie from 1979 with Tom Bosley and Mrs. Garrett about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on youtube and watched that.
My mom has been reading the books in our Immigrant study with us and when she was at her lake house, we skyped about the books.  Now that she is home, we can meet at Starbucks to discuss the books we read.
Our immigrant study is very personal for me as my grandparents were immigrants and their stories are much like the ones in the books we are reading.  My aunt entrusted me with the album of old family photos and I just love having this piece of my family.  The girls and I look at it often.

Right before we began this study, when I already knew we were going to read this book and learn about this event, Jason, the girls and I had gone to The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (one of the most magnificent buildings in Manhattan, which I wanted Jason and the girls to see before they build high-rise apartment buildings next door to it).  We were walking around the anterooms and in one there was a quilt for the many people who perished in the factory fire in Beijing in 2013 and a quilt for the lives lost in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.  We had not yet studied this, but I became emotional and told the girls we would study this and I think, seeing this quilt, they realized the significance of studying these kinds of things.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, when I go to work, the girls work in their Reading Detective, Editor in Chief, Think Analogies, Balance Math and Mind Benders workbooks.  It's not really the way I want school to be necessarily, but it makes me feel like if the girls went back to school, they would be where they need to be.  They love the Mind Benders and Think Analogies and sometimes the Balance Math, depends on their mood--those books are more like puzzles and they are kind of fun brain teasers.

The girls volunteer at the library on Monday afternoons.  I run two programs a week at the library and have for years.  This year I am running a Destination Imagination Instant Challenge program.  There are 12 kids ages 8-10 signed up.  We have 3 groups of 4 kids and Allie, Piper and I each work with one group as they work through 1-2 challenges.  It's been a good lesson in leadership for the girls who have had to get rowdy boys to calm down and shy kids to speak up, work with kids who demand to get their way and kids who don't participate.

The girls are also both participating in a study on Adolescent Depression at Rutgers University. The study will follow adolescents who are not depressed through their college years.  The study is designed to learn more about coping mechanisms that these adolescents use and also how different factors affect them.  They meet 4 times a year with a graduate student from now until they are finished with college.  At some point during the study, they will be invited to participate in an 8 week group session with other teens to discuss issues and coping mechanisms.  We decided to participate because (1) I think with all of the things adolescents deal with, it's a great opportunity; (2) I have struggled with depression and anxiety and if this could help my girls NOT go through what I went through or help someone else not go through that, then that is awesome; (3) when the girls get to college, they will read about these studies and participating in one will give them some insight into how information is collected and what it is like to participate in something like this--I think it's a great opportunity.

Other stuff...I am OBSESSED with Friday Night Lights.  I came to it late.  I have always had a hard time committing to a TV show and remembering to watch it every week.  Netflix makes it so that I can just watch the next episode when I think of it and I love that.  I also think that when this show first came out, my girls were young, but now we are entering the high school years and I can relate more to Eric and Tami.

I have become very interested in the photography of Lewis Hine.  We learned about him in our immigrant study.  Lewis Hine did for child labor what Jacob Riis did for the horrible conditions in tenements, he exposed the truth.  His images are captivating.  The Library of Congress has a wonderful collection on their website.

I am trying to be really positive about my neighbors.  We are friendly.  I adore their kids.  They told us for the last 11 years that they wanted to add on a dining room and put in an inground pool.  They have done all the work themselves, so it is taking FOREVER--they started this TWO YEARS ago!!  The husband has been working nights the last 7 or 8 months and he is out there most mornings at about 7am (I think that is when he gets home from work) until about 2 or 3pm (when I assume he goes to sleep) banging and sawing and using air compressors.  I often wake up to the sounds and it does make it hard to concentrate on homeschooling or have a conversation.  It can not go much longer, can it?  The roof is done, the walls of the dining room are in, the windows are in, the stucco guys have come, it's been painted, the gutters are on....hopefully soon he will begin working INSIDE the dining room and will close the windows and door so I don't have to hear as much!

I love the holidays! I am a little obnoxious about my love for the holidays, but I am not apologizing.  I love having the family together!  I love entertaining!  I love reflecting on all we have been given!  I feel like there is a peace that comes over us on holidays that is so beautiful.  This year, my brother-in-law and his family, including my adorable 18 month old niece will be joining us for Thanksgiving and we can not wait to squeeze that baby!  I swear we talk about it every single day!  Allie is REALLY into the planning of Thanksgiving dinner as she has become quite the amazing cook!  We are working out our menu together and having a lot of fun with it!  We are also making a list of Christmas cookies that we want to bake and we are challenging ourselves to keep the list from the Old Country.  We are looking for recipes that immigrants would have made in the late 1800s and early 1900s for Christmas.  The Tenement Museum has put out a wonderful book/cookbook that we have found a lot of good holiday treats in!-------->I always tell the girls NOT to use exclamation points, and here I did it myself, but I just get so excited about the holidays <3