wordless wednesday::little ballerina

snaps from parent observation day.

the boys were mesmerized by the little dancers, and quite content (for the most part) to sit and watch their big sister dance.

more wordless wednesday here, here and here.


learning together: W15Y01

so it looks like the next few weekly updates are going to have to be a condensed version.  i'm preparing to do our tax return, and it is impossible to do that and maintain these updates on top of all the other stuff we have going.  i also like to have a clean home and clean clothes to wear every once in a while, so it's time for me to prioritize, friends.  once our tax returns are done, there will be plenty of words added back to these posts.

but before i start, let me just say our week started off like this...


we read through 1 samuel 23:14-24:22.  our memory verse for the week was from psalm 25:4-5.


we went through youlearnfrench lessons 1-3.  it was very cute listening to the kids repeating back the words in french.

language arts:

emma did 3 days of copywork from our memory verse. spelling words for the week were is, sip, tip, lip, slip.  we only did them for 3 days.  in mcguffey's first reader we did lessons 47 and 55.

gibson did his own "copywork" again.  i think i'll probably start him on a little bit of daily table work pretty soon.  he seems ready for it (as long as it's not too long).

i cannot recall what she did for her free reading...she read a whole lot of books though.  a.lot.


we did life of fred chapters 15 and 16.

we had a good discussion on pricing products, which stemmed from her plans of opening up a shop where she was going to sell bookmarks.  we discussed how to price items in groups versus just a single item.

we also had a brief discussion on sale and clearance prices during our trip to target, and why stores do that.


we read whitington and his cat from fifty famous stories retold over the course of 2 days.

emma worked on her timeline and we are caught up to week 14.

art study:

jacob van ruisdael's view of haarlem with bleaching grounds, circa 1665.

music appreciation:

we're still on passion of st. matthew, and i still can't get into this one...pretty intense and lengthy piece of work.


no paddle again, but as emma was doing her timeline we used the atlas to locate some of the countries mentioned.


we read the ass and the load of salt and the lion and the gnat from the aesop for children.  then we read prince hyacinth and the dear little princess from the blue fairy book, which i spread out over two days.

science/nature study:

the mammal of the week was a horse.  emma filled out the basic information sheet, which listed the horse's habitat, diet and an interesting fact (or facts), and did her best drawing of a horse in her nature journal.

life skill:

i had her address a package i am planning to send out to salty not sweet.  now we just have to purchase postage and stick it in the mail.

other things:

there was snow this week, so the kids played in it quite a few times.

the boys and emma built themselves a "house" in the corner of the dining room.  they shoved that house full of stuff...all essential things for the home, of course.

the older two continue to do well in habitually taking their plates to the kitchen once they're done eating.  i have even caught cash putting his cup in the sink once he's done with it.  clean up after play has been going well too, and it's nice to see them working together as a team to get it done.  i'm highlighting these things in this post, because i feel that these are important habits to develop which will be helpful for them down the road as they get older.

the boys found the jar of coins and really enjoyed dumping them out and putting them back in.  i did some coin ID with gibson while he was putting them back in the jar, but it didn't last too long.

that's it from our schoolhouse!


stepping out of my bubble

earlier this month we had some friends over.  these friends hold a special place in my heart.  they have only been in this country for about 6-7 months.  they came here to seek refuge.  to rebuild. to start a new life.

about a year ago, our church had a flier posted about an opportunity to become a mentor for refugee families coming into the cleveland area. almost immediately i knew that i wanted to part of it.  in the summer, i went to a mentor training class (along with two other friends) hosted by building hope in the city and catholic charites (one of the largest resettlement agencies in northern ohio).  this was the first step in helping these families.

the mentor training class was pretty amazing.  there was a lot of information presented, which made me realize that i really didn't know a whole lot about refugee families.  i mean, i know but i don't know (does that make sense?).  i knew they had to endure a lot.  i knew that they couldn't go back home to their own country because of danger.  i knew that for some, there had been traumatic experiences they had to go through.  but i didn't really have a sense of just how much they had to endure.  i didn't know specifically, all the challenges they had to face as refugees even when they have been resettled to another country.  did you know that even if a family is resettled out of the camp to another country that they had to take out a travel loan in order to get to their final destination?  these are men, women, children, babies...they have lost their homes, they have lost their sense of security, they have lost their future, they have experienced loss and pain...they have nothing left but to look ahead.

as a mentor, we would be matched with a family that have been resettled in the cleveland area in the past 90 or so days.  more than likely, they know little to no english.  they come here with nothing, because there is no time to think about taking anything of "value" when thinking about your own and your family's safety.  as a mentor, we were there to support them and help them with the transition into the united states.  basic things that we take for granted are new to many of the families (like operating a stove, fire safety, etc.).  i remember thinking during the training class, "how in the world is all this going to work with a new baby on the way?  plus, we only have one car.  do we even have enough time for it?"  i debated whether or not to pull out of my commitment to mentor, because thinking about how everything was going to work out was so overwhelming. and quite frankly, it made me a uncomfortable and anxious.  but God made it clear that i should continue.  so i did.  and i'm so glad i listened.

we met our family in september (i think...details for dates are a little foggy).  there was a translator and an employee from catholic charities present along with our refugee family.  it was a family of 7.  a mom, dad, 3 kids, grandmother and dad's brother.  they were refugees from the country of bhutan who had been living in a camp in nepal for the last 20 years.  20. years.  their oldest daughter was around ty's age, which meant all their kids had never known anything apart from camp life.  i remember at one point, i fought back the urge to cry.  if it was hard for me thinking about what they had to go through to get here, i don't know what it must truly feel like for them.  i just wanted to hug them.

fast forward to the present.

the g. family seem like they've transitioned quite well.  they actually have family here, who came to the area from one of the camps 4 years ago.  i'm sure having other family members to connect with has made a huge difference in their transition.

we (myself and two other friends and sometimes emma) visit them once a week at their home. grandma cooks us dinner each time.  sometimes we help the kids with homework.  sometimes we help with their mail and other paperwork.  our goal right now is to try and take them out more often (since they don't have a car).  nothing fancy, but more practical outings like libraries, stores, etc.

we went on a family outing downtown.  there were escalator and elevator rides, a stroll by lake erie and watching airplanes go by at the airport.  there were definitely a lot of learning opportunities.

and finally, they came to our house for a christmas/new year celebration.  i can't tell you how excited i was to have them come!  after hosting us and feeding us every week in their home, it was our turn to host them.

we left the tree up, and put more presents under the tree for them to open. we shared a meal together, and served an indonesian dish of goat curry. for dessert, we decided to introduce something a little new: crepes with berries and nutella.  it went over quite well.  grandma was a bit suspicious of the crepes but thoroughly enjoyed the blueberries and raspberries.  it was a bit challenging to find a meal that was culturally appropriate and not too foreign to their taste buds, but it seemed to go over quite well.

we had a great time, and it still warms my heart thinking about that day.  there were plenty of smiles and laughter and new learning experiences.  i want them to come over again!  it was seriously awesome.

photo credit: sherrie tamunday.
despite what this family has gone through, they keep smiling through it all.  despite all the sacrifices they have made to get to where they are at this point, they don't complain.  they are strong, hard-working people with generous hearts.  they help keep me grounded. humble. they help remind me to appreciate all the amazing luxuries we have in this country, and to redefine the things in my life that i truly need.

opportunities abound to help your neighbors.  it doesn't have to be a refugee family.  i know i could have easily looked the other way, and convinced myself that having a new baby would have been a valid excuse to back out of helping.  i mean how would i even have time?  the baby would need my full attention, plus 3 other kids to tend to.  but how could i ignore God's leading?  helping someone out shouldn't be based on how convenient it is for you.  when you know someone needs help, then help.  it shouldn't be about reciprocity.  sometimes that may mean stepping out of your comfort zone.  and sometimes it means the person you help doesn't ever return the favor.

help with compassion in your heart and expect nothing in return. but i guess that's not really true.  because you will get something: joy, happiness, new relationships, and a transformed heart.


learning together: W14Y01

did i already say how nice it feels to get back into our routine?  AND we bought more black printer ink (thanks, ibu for the staples gift card) so that we can continue forward with our art study for week 15.  yeah!


we read through 1 Samuel 20 over the course of a few days, using lesson 80 from the calvary curriculum site.  both gibson and emma did the coloring sheet, and emma did the fill-in-the blank sheet at the end of the week.  in case anyone cares, we use the esv translation for reading the passages.  the kids do quite well following along, though we do need to stop after about 10-20 verses and have emma (or sometimes it's me) narrate. 

our memory verse for the week was from deuteronomy 31:6.  now that gibson is in the same class as emma on sunday (sniff, sniff...my boy is getting big), we have been reciting it orally more often than usual.  i like that, since it helps memorize the scripture too.


we will be using this free site i came across to learn some basic french.  i like that it's just audio, but it does show the words/phrases used on the screen.  since emma can read already, she is able to see the word while hearing it being pronounced at the same time.  we went through lesson 3 for the week, and then i tried using some of the words and phrases here and there through out the week.

language arts:

for copywork, we did 2 days of our memory verse and 1 day of the poem a thought by a.a. milne (it would have been 2 days, but the printer ran out of ink).

we went through lessons 40 and 41 in mcguffey and discussed some sight words, words that have "ight," "ould,"and how to add "ing" to words like "bike," "hike," etc..  i think i'll be skipping quite a bit ahead for the next few weeks and finish out this book.  i'd like to move on the the second reader soon.

spelling words for the week were sent, went, melt, felt, and belt.  emma did well spelling out the words so we only did 4 days of practice.  i've been using each of the words in a sentence, and emma and gibson will occasionally join in and do their own versions. 

science/nature study:

our mammal for the week was a squirrel.  we didn't do anything too fancy-schmancy with our mammal.  i printed out a simple fact sheet i made up on the computer (i'll have to post it in case anyone cares to use it too) so that she could record some basic information she gathered about squirrels.  we also watched a couple of videos on squirrels.  one was about the flying squirrel and the other was about a white squirrel (i can't find the one we watched for some reason).

i found a few pictures of squirrels on my phone to help emma draw a picture of one in her nature journal.  she finally decided on one of a red squirrel.  we also talked about the squirrels that we've seen in our backyard, and she came to the conclusion that those ones were more likely gray squirrels than the red variety.


we did fred chapters 13 and 14 this week.  i am drawing a blank at what we read through right now...i know there was adding two numbers to make 9 and discussion on orthogonal lines, but i can't remember what else!  i do know that we didn't need to supplement on anything since emma did well with the lessons.


we had a lot of history reading this week, but i finally managed to sort of catch up on the timeline.  i finally got up to week 13 finished and all we have to do is cut and paste in emma's timeline/book of centuries.

we read the story of the coming of hengist and horsa from our island story.  it tells about vortigern (who was now king of the britons) calling on the germans for help and the arrival of the saxons around 400 AD.  i thought this story was a bit more challenging for emma to narrate.  i think it may be due to the story itself.  personally, it was not one of the more exciting stories we've read so even i didn't retain a whole lot of it either.

we read the black douglas from fifty famous stories retold.  that one was a bit more exciting, and told the story of james douglas, a good friend of robert the bruce.  narration was much easier for emma after this one, although i did break it up into 2 chunks to make it more digestible :).

last, we read about athanasius from trial and triumph.  this one was a good story, but another challenging narration.  i did have her do short narrations after a few paragraphs or so, but for some reason it was still challenging for her to narrate parts of it.  maybe the interest level of this particular story was just not there (much like hengist and horsa)?

art study:

we did another week of Ruisdael's Two Watermills.  I had planned on doing a painting project with an outlined drawing of his work, but alas the printer was out of black ink!

music appreciation:

this week we listened to part of Bach's Passion of St. Matthew.  i like classical music, but DANG!  this one's a long one.  we listened to part one and it was an hour long!  played it mostly during eating and play times, but because of the length i don't know that the kids heard all parts of part one.  no matter though, we are planning to stay with this piece for the next 4 weeks so they'll be hearing it a lot.

in other music news, we went to guitar center and the kids had fun trying out the drums and pianos.  emma tried to figure out how to play twinkle, twinkle little star after i showed her where middle c was.


no paddle this week, but we did use our new atlas to look at some of the locations from our history stories.  afterward, emma went off and read through the book on her own and told me a few tidbits of information she gathered from her reading.  i count that as a good week in geography!


we read the elephant child from just so stories.  for some reason, the kids kept giggling every time the elephant got spanked, which was a lot.  i had emma do a drawing of what she read for her narration.  the girl likes to draw, but when she's not into it she does a rush job and sacrifices quality.  oh well...i guess she prefers talking (that doesn't surprise me).

from the aesop for children we read a raven and a swan and the two goats.  these were nice and short and narration went very well.

she had some free reading on friday (though she does read on her own everyday), and i had her narrate after she was done reading.  she chose to read the sandman from our hans christian anderson fairy tale book. she read many other books through out the week - ones that she's read before. the ones that i noticed in particular were her magic tree house books.  i think that girl has re-read those books at least 3-4 times since she got them last month.

other things:

we went out again on friday to do some bike riding (emma and gibson) and a stroll around the block.  it was cold, but sunny so the time out wasn't so bad.

emma offered to wash the dishes for me everyday.  isn't that sweet?  except it lasted one day.  haha.  i've been trying to focus on keeping neat, organized rooms for the older two this week.  they do pretty good at picking up after themselves downstairs (even cash is a champ at cleaning up...he's very detail oriented), but not as much when it comes to their rooms.  ideally, i'd like to have them develop a habit of picking up and straightening up their rooms on a daily basis. not anything time consuming, just spending 5 minutes to straighten up in the morning and after nap/quiet time so that the mess doesn't pile up and get overwhelming (which is kind of where we are at right now).

gibson did a few copywork sheets again like last week.  he's doing pretty good as long as he doesn't have to sit in one place for longer than 10 minutes.  he is one active dude!

on one of the days, i found the oldest two busy working on dragon land.  almost every sticker on the page had a background story to go with it.  they had quite a time riding around the house on their broom horses.  gibson, especially, was on a knight/warrior dude kick last week, and decked himself out with his shield, battle axe, helmet and his broom horse.

i think that's about it for week 14.


holiday recap 2012

i just realized i didn't blog at all in december.  nothing about christmas.  nothing about snow.  i didn't even post any pictures. 

blogging takes time...at least for me.  and with my husband's crazy holiday work hours, crafts, baking and surviving the time until christmas in practically single-parent mode, the blog did not take top priority (sorry!).  side note: props to single-parents, man!  wow.

so now, i will take the "easy" way out and throw at you a slew of photos from december.  while it was an extra challenging month, we made time to celebrate and enjoy the season.

i didn't do a whole lot of crafting (figured that would help with my sanity), but couldn't resist doing a few here and there (and of course, those crazy cookies for aaron's work). 

christmas was quiet, perfect and the day when we were finally able to s.l.o.w. down and enjoy each other.

thankfully, aaron was able to get time off the week of the new year.  it was SO nice to be able to hang out all week together as a family.  that was a gift.

onwards with 2013!


learning together: W13Y01

school is "back in session!"  here's our AO learning round-up from last week...


we studied 1 samuel 17:1-52, using some of the activity sheets from calvary curriculum.  we are using the memory verse assigned to the kids from sunday school, so for week 13 we did isaiah 41:10.


we did a brief review of greetings, what is your name, and how are you?  i had to return the french book we were using back to the library, and i'm not quite sure if i want to continue using that or just working on a simple phrase a week.

language arts:

emma did 2 days of copywork using the week's memory verse and 1 day of copywork using an excerpt from the poem now we are six by a.a. milne.

gibson has expressed more interest in doing his own "copywork" these last few months, and this week requested 3 (not all in one day).  i just print out preschool handwriting practice sheets for him to do. he likes the ones on here (especially the football ones) and i've done a few from here too.  he is loving it, as long as he doesn't have to sit for longer than 10 minutes.  ha!

we went through lessons 38 and 39 in mcguffey's first eclectic reader.  i'm considering skipping more towards the end of this book after week 14 because it's still so easy for her to read.  she is getting better at slowing down her reading though.  the other option is just jumping to the next book (second eclectic reader).  she's really very much like me when it comes to reading stuff, especially when it's very exciting.  i tend to skim and skip words so that i can get to the end :).  while i suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes you can miss out on the full effects of what you're reading (errr, does that even make sense?).  sometimes, you aren't able to fully digest the content and experience all the glorious words (and the pictures they help form in your head) when you read too fast...at least that's my personal experience.

emma got the first 4 books from the magic treehouse series (thanks, auntie michelle) which were devoured within a few days.  but thankfully, she likes re-reading them so she's been reading them over and over and over again.  that's pretty much what she's been reading during her independent reading time.  i have her narrate the story to me for each book she completes, and she seems to have a good grasp on the story.  we ended up getting her book 5 and a fact book to complement book 1.  she was halfway done with book 5 before we even paid for the book and finished it on the way home.  i don't even know why we bought it!


we read vortigern and king constans from our island story and bruce and the spider from fifty famous stories.  it seems like we've moved on from roman history and into british history now.  now here's a cool homeschool moment: bruce and the spider is about robert the bruce, the first king of scotland.  we did a scotland lapbook a while back as part of teaching emma some of her family heritage.  she recognized the name immediately.  also, aaron's side of the family comes from the line (somewhere) of robert the bruce.  that is why her pap is named robert bruce, and why daddy's kilt uses the bruce tartan. we talked briefly about scottish clans (our family would be part of the bruce clan) and differing tartans based on which clan you were part of.  i absolutely love these little connections.  it's so cool!

i am SO behind on making up the timeline sheets for emma's history timeline folder.  i'm almost caught up and hoping that we can put all of them in this week.

we also watched an episode from a show called scotland revealed on youtube.  there are 4 episodes, except that when we went to watch another one on a different day we couldn't view it anymore.  sad.

art study:

following AO's schedule, the artist for this term is jacob van ruisdael.  we are observing two watermills and an open sluice at singraven for weeks 13 and 14.  i made a little bio sheet of the artist, which i'll try and share on here for week 14.

music appreciation:

this term's composer is johann sebastian bach.  the week's music selection was brandenburg concerto no. 2 in f major.  nothing fancy with music appreciation except for listening to it.  i usually tried to play it at least twice a day...mostly during play time or meal time.  i forgot how much i like bach.


we read chapter 12 in paddle.  he has finally reached the end of lake superior.  the chapter had commercial fishermen in the story so we went in search of a couple of videos of commercial fishermen in action.  we also found a video on how to clean a fish (also talked about in the chapter).  that was very interesting...good to know if i ever want to clean my own fish!


we read the ants and the grasshopper and the ass carrying the image from the aesop for children.  they were quite short and narration for them were very easy for emma.  i went over again how the word ass was a common word back in the old days for donkey, but that it's now used as a bad word.  i just don't want her to be going around calling people asses thinking that she's calling them donkeys...haha.

we read beauty and the beast from the blue fairy book, which was quite a lengthy story.  we spread the story out over 2 days, and narration was about every paragraph or so.  she didn't do too bad on narration, despite the high vocabulary used.  but i think it does help to have her narrate every couple of paragraphs.  she loved the story, and i loved her reaction when she found out that the prince in beauty's dream was actually the beast.  i guess she didn't see that coming.


we did chapter 12 in fred.  this lesson covered a dozen, numbers that add to 9, and right angles.  it was pretty straight forward, so we didn't do any supplementing the rest of the week.

science/nature study:

we got james herriot's treasury for children for christmas (thanks, ibu and grandpa!) and read bonny's big day.  emma has already read through many of the stories in the book when we first got it, but since we're following AO's reading schedule we are sticking to their reading plan.  plus, she doesn't having mama read her some of the stories, and i like being able to read them too.

term 2 animal study is on mammals, so we are planning to pick a mammal a week to study...starting week 14.


this term we will be using a.a. milne's when we were very young and now we are six.  emma got this book for christmas last year, so we didn't have to purchase this book for the school year.  i can't remember all the poems we read, but one was brian botany.  gibson picked that one out in particular because the dude has a battle axe.  haha.

other things:

we had a dry day and warm(er) day on thursday so we took a nice stroll around the block.  emma and gibson rode their bikes and cash walked the whole time.  i was very impressed (we have very long blocks in our neighborhood). 

emma has been busy making bookmarks to sell for her shop.  there have been a lot of strips of construction paper with fancy designs on them laying about the house in piles.

the boys have been fighting over playing with their new wooden trains and cars quite a bit.  they've also put together a few puzzles.  well, cash tries to put pieces together, but still needs help finding ones that actually fit.

leilani has rolled over here and there and is generally a content little girl.  she likes to sit through stories sometimes, and really likes when mommy holds and rocks her to sleep.

everyone has been learning and it feels good to be back into our routine...my brain feels a little less frazzled.

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