Saturday, October 23, 2010

Field Trip to Fort Nisqually

Put those kids to work!
They were digging up carrots - white, orange and pink.
Yes, that's the outhouse.

One thing I have loved about moving all around has been learning so much about history. So now we're all learning about the West Coast and Puget Sound Region history. Fort Nisqually was the first permanent European settlement on the Puget Sound and was founded by the Hudson's Bay Company for the purpose of trading beaver pelts. For years both British and Natives, plus French Canadians and Hawaiians worked and lived together here.

The original site was located right here in DuPont. In the 1930's when DuPont Company owned the land and was making explosives here in DuPont they requested that the last two buildings from Fort Nisqually be moved somewhere else to keep the tourists safe. The city of Tacoma purchased the buildings and moved them to Point Defiance Park, building a replica of the rest of the fort around them. This is where we went on our first official field trip. We saw the general store, the manager's house, the blacksmith shop, the laborers' quarters, the kitchen, the towers and the outhouses. There was a garden and an area of kids' toys.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things that are Red

Wait, I'm homeschooling a second grader, right? I guess those little ones nearby can't help but learn. I had no idea there was this whole thing out there called "lapbooks". If I had known this sooner, I might have tried them sooner, with or without homeschooling. I already can't remember where I found out about them but we've tried a couple. I was trying to find something to fulfill that craft project desire in us all.

Gabby's first book was on Creation. I haven't taken pics of that one yet but I will. Sam watched her do it and said he wanted a red one. So we made a red one. I found a things that are red worksheet, printed it, he colored it, and we cut those things out. That's what he glued down inside the book. Then we went through the sticker bin and pulled out all the things that were red and he put the stickers in there. I cut the letters for the front on the Cricut and glued them down. That was the only part I really did for him. Now they both want to make one about blue. For the record, red is Sam's favorite color and blue is Gabby's.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My lunchroom

We don't eat like this every day but this day they needed a little downtime so we put in a movie and they got comfy and ate. Don't worry - we were watching Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Charlotte's Web

Gabby is a creative kid. She loves to draw and write and sing and dance. One thing I was hoping to bring back to our house was the creativity. I felt like the creativity had gotten shoved into a very small amount of time. This day was so sunny and nice so I sent the kids out to play. They actually complained, which is unusual for my kids but after a while I looked out and there was creating going on. I love it.
Charlotte's Web was our first read aloud book. In first grade they read the book and saw the play but she wanted to read it again so we did. This is her web and barnyard. Gabby and Sam are washing up to spin the web. Then Gabby is Fern talking to Wilbur. There was a dance that went with the whole thing as well. Too bad it rained that night.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sam writes his name

My little guy is 3. Starting preschool. Sweet boy. I bought both kids those small white board tiles for school. I figured one-on-one we could use that in place of a big board. I knew Sam would have to have one if big sister had one. Sure enough, he grabs his and wants to write like Sissy. So here is Sam's first readable attempt at writing his name. He's been practicing a few weeks now and is getting better. For some reason he has decided to add a "5" to the end. Now it's S-A-M-5. Not sure where that came from. Too bad it's not a "3". He is writing his name and picking out other letters as well so we'll just go with it!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Alaska Package

A super HUGE thanks to Katrina and her family for sending the kids this awesome package from Alaska when all I asked for was a postcard. There were postcards, an activity book, two little stuffed animals, salmon jerky and yummy chocolates. Oh, and I did subject Gabby to stories of when she was a baby and we lived in the same place. We'd love to come visit if we can ever get any time with Robert home with time off!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Painting on the Ceiling

We have been studying Creation - starting at the beginning - in Bible. To go along with that, we have been talking about the Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings and Michelangelo. Last week, Gabby tried painting on the ceiling herself. Not having some scaffolding handy, we brought the ceiling down to her and taped the paper to a short table.

Here is her finished project, painted completely on the ceiling while lying on her back. Better than I could do sitting up and painting "properly"!

Friday, August 27, 2010

One Last Hurdle to Clear

I admit, school starts next week and I have yet to withdraw my child. Not that they wouldn't take her back whenever we needed it but I have been kind of waiting on one thing - teacher lists. You see, there is this one really great second grade teacher at her school. The others may be great, too, but there is one everyone raves about. One that I always see going above and beyond. One that I can put a name and a face to and I haven't had a second grader yet. The one everyone wants their kid to have. That one.

So, what would I do if she got that teacher? The last question still hanging in my mind. I've spent too much on books to go back. So why was I waiting? I don't know. Curiosity. I am not a very decisive person. I tend to second guess myself. Lots of doubts.

Finally, with school starting next week, class lists were posted tonight. I took the opportunity to run up there without the kids to see. Too curious. She didn't get THE teacher. She got one I don't know anything about. All of her friends are in other classes. I only recognized a couple of names on her list.

Maybe I was waiting on this one last confirmation from God that I am doing the right thing. Even after a year of praying about it. I'm kind of dense. I have to be hit over the head with things. God and I have discussed this. He knows it about it. He's good about being faithful to my dense-ness. Thankfully.

Now I'm going to go write that withdrawal letter (in WA you don't have to officially declare you are homeschooling until they turn 8). And get ready. School starts on Monday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Box Day (Part One)

Torture! The boxes were delivered Friday morning about an hour after DD left for drama camp. I had to look at them until 3 that afternoon before I could open them.

DD came in and was ready to open them. I was finishing up something in the kitchen and asked her to wait on me. This is what I found when I got in there. Sneaky!

Finally we could get these big ole boxes open!
Digging in to three boxes worth of books - what could be more fun than that?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Choosing Curriculum

When I went in to this, I knew I needed to get a curriculum. While I COULD make it up as I go, I knew how that would turn out. Stressed all the time, constantly finding more books, websites, printouts, etc. I'm not sure we ever would get anything done that way. I know some of you do it. I just don't think I would be able to put it all together and be sane.

So where to start? Who knows? Type in "homeschool curriculum" and see what happens. Add the word "reviews" to that and THEN see what happens. If smoke is not coming out of your ears in an hour, you're a better person than I. Thankfully, I have known some wonderful, godly, amazing homeschooling moms in my days around the Army. And, thankfully, I have managed to keep in contact with most of them via Facebook. So I closed all those review sites and started writing messages, one or two at a time, to these dear ladies I trusted and asked for their opinions. (If I didn't write you it was because I didn't realize you homeschooled until I said I was doing it or because I just ran out of time and finally had to make a choice. No offense intended!) Everyone was, of course, so lovely to answer my questions and give me their take on it. Websites, ideas, borrowed DVDs, hour long phone conversations - all were helpful in making my choices.

I'm actually still a bit in the process. I have ordered and received part of our work. I am using Sonlight for History, Reading and Science. Those books have arrived and look great. I have ordered Saxon for Math and Shurley for Grammar but those have not arrived yet. I still have to make a final choice and order Bible and Spelling. It's a good thing schools here don't start until Labor Day. I'm not behind yet!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homeschooling? Me? Yeah, right!

Homeschooling. Does the word strike fear in your heart? It does mine. While I have never been opposed to homeschooling and like the idea in principle, the thought of doing it has always terrified me. I'm too disorganized! I'm too impatient! I'm too easily distracted! I procrastinate too much! I'm too selfish! I like my me time too much! I have too many other things to keep me occupied! How many more reasons do you need? I have more.

I guess somewhere deep down I always knew I'd try it at some point. Being military, we move too much to hit good school districts everywhere. We also like to talk about buying an RV and spending a year on the road after DH retires, homeschooling the kids and seeing the bits of our great nation we have yet to see. That is why I have tried to keep an open mind about it. I do love the idea of it. Projects! Field trips! Workbooks! School supplies! Books! Did I mention I tend to go overboard with things too? I do.

Again, being military, we have to consider our situation for each year. We lived in Kansas when DD was ready for Kindergarten and the school was WONDERFUL! Beautiful, every amenity, art teacher, music teacher, PE teacher, science lab, planetarium, full day - that was a no-brainer to me. I knew every kid and parent. DD learned math and reading and science and made beautiful artwork. We all cried the December day we had to leave that classroom but duty calls and we were moving mid-year.

Enter new school in Washington. I admit, I was not very pleased to be going from full day in a wonderful school back to 2 1/2 hours in an unknown school. Really, 2 1/2 hours - she went to preschool longer than that. I considered not enrolling her since in Washington you are not required to put your kids in school until they are 8 years old. It's true. Look it up. 2 1/2 hours seemed more of a hassle than it was worth. And it was. In the end, I did enroll her so she could make friends and have something to do. We found out as were moving that DH would be leaving for a year six weeks after we got there so it was a good thing. I knew I would evaluate our situation every summer anyway.

I might have tried this last year if DH had been home. I thought about it long and hard but I just couldn't see taking on one more thing. DS was two, I had never homeschooled and I would have no one to back me up. I made the decision to try first grade at school, again watching closely and evaluating how the year went. While I liked her teacher and felt like she learned what I wanted her to over the course of the year, I have some philosophical problems with her school and feel like a lot of her time there was wasted. Twice last year she missed more than a week of school and was able to do all the make-up work on her own in 45 minutes. For seven days' worth of work. Plus, they are changing the bell schedule this year so that school does not release until 3:45. That is just way too late in my opinion. Add any activity and she has no time for playing and being a kid. These are some of my reasons. There are more.

I make no judgements on those who send their kids to any school. I make no promises that I won't send her back next year if this just doesn't work out. I just feel like I have to try it and that this is the time. Trust me, a lot of prayer went in to this decision as well. Every time I asked God to take the desire away if it was not in His plan for me, the desire came back stronger than ever. Even if this is the only year I do it, I pray the things I invest in my child last her the rest of her life. The good ones, anyway.

I know I will make mistakes. Lots of them. I know it won't always be fun. I know I won't always feel like it. So, for now, it's just me - a very disorganized mom - trying to be obedient and homeschooling my child this year. Pray for us!