Thursday, December 4, 2014

November 15-30, 2014

Since I turned forty, I have been able to accept things about myself that I had a hard time accepting before. I am an introvert.  I can't think straight when there is a lot of noise or chaos or confusion or a mess.  I need peace and quiet.  I hate clutter.  I would rather donate stuff and get it out of my house than shop and bring more into my house.  Another thing I have come to accept is that I have a need to be organized.  I wanted to be one of those cool, hip, free-spirited chicks that just flies by the seat of her pants and does whatever comes her way...but I am not.  And that's ok.  I need to be organized in the sense that I love to be organized.  Organizing gives me great pleasure.  I love making lists and creating files and things that help me stay on top of things.  If something isn't working, I enjoy brainstorming something that will work.  I know, I am weird, but that's ok.  I can accept that, I am over forty.

We took last summer off and I took the time to get organized and for us, it has made all the difference.  I came up with Math Goals.  The girls pretty much do 4-5 math lessons a week.  If we go out one day, they may do the lesson at night (I think this makes them feel like they are in school and have "homework" that they do at night) or double up the next day.  We use Teaching Textbooks, so it is all on the computer.  I look over their grades every couple of days and what kinds of problems they got wrong and we go over them.  Sometimes I find worksheets or another lesson online to teach the concept that they are struggling with and they work on that for a couple of days instead of Teaching Textbooks and that sets them back.  So, I purposely scheduled weeks where there are no math goals.  The last week of November was one such week and there are two weeks in December that are also "catch-up" weeks.  This came in quite handy these last couple of weeks, as the girls needed some extra time to work on things they struggled with, but we still wanted to work toward our goal of taking next summer off to refresh ourselves and invest ourselves in new plans for the year.

At the beginning of the year, I was using Google calendar to send the girls Our Plan for the day, but that didn't work out so well.  We realized we need something in front of us, something tangible.  I saw this on Instagram and I wish I could remember which homeschool mom I follow posted it to give her credit, but I can't for the life of me remember and I have gone over the feeds of several that I thought it was!  Anyway, this has been life changing for us all.  

On Mondays and Tuesdays, we do Chemistry together before I go to work and
depending on what we are doing, the girls either work on a packet or other project, if it's something they can do completely independently OR, if not, they do workbook work which gives me a little less objective view of how they are doing (Vocabulary--they finished the vocabulary workbook of Latin and Greek roots this week, which was mostly review from Vocabulary Vine that we did the last few years--I had figured this would go fairly quickly and purchased another vocal workbook for the second part of the year, but I am hearing good stuff about a new program called Word Up, so we downloaded some free lessons and the girls are going to give me their thoughts on that; Reading Detective, Balance Math, Mind Benders, Think Analogies --although I am sensing that we are getting bogged down with this and I want to give some thought to more independent, in-depth, sink our teeth into projects).  Wednesdays we are out all day and they are only usually responsible for Math and possibly an ongoing kind of project, like a Biography packet for the Biography they are reading (that was last week).  Thursdays and Fridays we do more project based learning with our history program and we combine that with art and writing.  We set a goal to watch one movie a week for film study and to cover whatever elements our awesome The Art of Watching Films book recommends the movie for.  Piper loves this table because it allows her to work ahead if she wants.  I love this table because when I was busy getting ready to host Thanksgiving, I could just tell the girls to do what was on the list for the day!

Immigration Study 
Our immigration study has sort of taken a left turn into learning about suffragettes and a woman's right to vote.  Allie read Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words and Piper read Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Social Reformer.  They each worked through a Biography packet taken from Drawn into the Heart of Reading.  I had wanted to read Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World, but I was really behind on some things and I still have not gotten to reading it, but I still plan to!

We watched Not For Ourselves Alone.  We realized it is difficult for us to imagine a world in which women could not vote or own property.  It is difficult for us to imagine how inferior that must have made women feel.  

We also learned about Alice Paul and Lucy Burns and we watched a wonderful movie Iron Jawed Angels over the course of two evenings, it's a little long but well worth the time.  I really like those feisty suffragettes!  This was not a movie for the faint of heart.  There are some difficult scenes of Alice Paul being force-fed when she calls a hunger strike while in a workhouse and some controversial issues about how our government treated these women.  For our family and for my girls, in particular, this lead to a lot of very interesting conversations and discussions.

We learned about Brooklyn-born artist James Rizzi, who was famous for his bright and quirky skyscraper photos.  The girls researched his life and accomplishments on-line and filled out a note booking page I had made.  We employed a technique of using oil pastels and watercolors to create our own James Rizzi-inspired painting.
We decided we all really like to get down in the art studio together and create.  We turn some music on and sign along. If Megan Traynor's "All About That Base" comes on, no matter where are are or what we are doing, the volume is turned up and we can't help but start dancing.  We all love that song.  I love the positive body image message it sends to girls!

Writing Strands
Piper and I have been doing Writing Strands together on Wednesdays when Allie is at e-cubed, we have worked through writing in first person, present tense; first person, past tense; third person, present tense and third person, past tense.  She's kind of mastered (Hallelujah!) proofreading for spelling and grammatical errors and we have been working on making sure commas are in the right place.  Allie's writing is a little more advanced, so I didn't feel she had to do Writing Strands with us, but she missed the creative writing prompts and so these last two weeks, she would come home from e3 and ask what the Writing Strands assignment was.

My awesome husband has basically taken over Chemistry for me!  He understands science so much better than I do and is better able to explain things to the girls in a way they understand.  He usually does a lesson with them on Saturday and Sunday mornings right after breakfast.

Film Study
We learned about theme.  I found this great website with PowerPoint presentations and worksheets to print out that explain theme.  Piper had a tendency to just summarize the story, rather than look for the meaning and this helped her get the concept.

We discussed the themes of Iron Jawed Angels.

We also watched one of my favorite movies, Good Will Hunting and discussed the theme of that.  Part of my idea of doing this Film Study was that it encouraged me to think about all of those movies that I loved or that I think everyone should see and watch them with the girls.  Jason and I both remembered that we loved this movie, we remembered certain things about it: Matt Damon was a genius, that pep talk Ben Affleck gives Matt Damon at the construction site...but there was so much we had forgotten...this movie is such a great piece of cinema, from the friendship between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, to dealing with past abuse, to taking chances, to role models, to the relationship between Minnie Driver and Matt that pompous ass in the bar...there is so much here.  I had thought we would discuss the movie right after we watched it, but I found that I needed time to just sit with and digest it all first and let it sink in.  Then, a couple of days later, we talked about it.  And Allie said it was her new favorite movie--that girl loves movies and whether she expresses it or not, I think she is really happy that we are taking the time to share our favorite movies, the movies that really had an impact on us with her.

We also learned about good endings.  Our Art of Watching Films guide recommended My Best Friend's Wedding as a movie with a great ending.  We watched it and discussed why:  despite everything she does, he forgives her; it's not trite, she doesn't end up with him, but she does end up with a best friend;  she still has someone that loves her; life goes on.

Cooking & Baking
Allie baked cupcakes and muffins just for treats for us.  She also did all of the baking for Thanksgiving:  her famous pumpkin cake with brown butter frosting that it absolutely irresistible and an apple pie.

Both girls learned to make stew.

Allie helped plan our Thanksgiving dinner and make the cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes.  She also helped get the turkey ready and basted it several times and got a tutorial from my Grandma on making gravy.

Other Stuff
I got Allie into Parenthood and Friday Night Lights and we lay in bed together and try to discipline ourselves to only watch one episode a night.

The girls have been tutoring my friend's daughter, who is 5 years younger than Allie, 3 years younger than Piper, for the last few years, but that ended a couple of weeks ago.  The girl's grades have improved and she is busy with after-school activities on Wednesdays now.  But, her mom is organizing a monthly night to cook and serve at a soup kitchen in a nearby town, which the girls will do together, so we will still get to see our young friend!

The girls' dog walking business is flourishing.  They made fliers to give out to some more neighbors and the neighbors were grateful to have the option of handing over their leashes in the cold winter months.  The girls will learn something from this, I am sure!

I spent a morning making my first batch of Fire Cider.  I have never made it before, but a friend made some last year and gave me some.  This was my first time trying to make it.  I used small jars so that hopefully I can give it as gifts--if it is any good.  I used the recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs, because we love their essential oils, so I figured it was probably a good recipe ;-)

I also made some elderberry syrup--so we are all ready for cold season!  

Allie made these adorable lanterns for her bedroom, she uses them with battery-operated candles for safety in her room.

We had family portraits done with my family.  We've never done this before and I am glad we finally did.  Of course, we all weren't happy with how we looked in some of them, but I think they will be keepsakes for sure!

Jason was selected by his company to get a special certification so he has spent the last couple of weekends studying and will be traveling this week to take classes and an exam to get the certification.  The girls and I plan to decorate this house and craft and bake and get our Christmas spirit on!

We have some big, exciting plans for the next couple of weeks and hopefully I will find time to update the blog!