at the pumpkin patch :: year 2

one of the things i've been looking forward to this fall is our annual trip (this is our 2nd year, but i'm thinking we need to make this an annual tradition) to the pumpkin patch. my sisters and i set a date at least a few weeks in advance, meet up, and make a day of it.

last year, we checked out a pick-your-own pumpkin location at trinity tree farm in issaquah. the place was easy to get to, and we had a great time picking out our pumpkins, sipping cider, and launching pumpkins in the pumpkin slingshot.  this year, we decided to try the pumpkin patch at oxbow farm, where we have our CSA. side note: it's pretty amazing to me that in 45 minutes, you can be out in the country, given that seattle is such a large, metropolitan area.

since the pumpkin patch at oxbow is at a working farm, the experience was a bit different in some respects, but equally fun, like last year's.  our kids were looking forward to going back and playing in the "living playground."  the gourd tunnel was a hit, again, and they had fun being able to roam and explore all the parts of the kids' farm.

added bonus (as part of their oxtober u-pick pumpkin patch season): hayrides around the farm and the house o' hay for the kids (and some adults, who shall remain nameless for their privacy and safety).  the hayride was a fun treat for the kids, and a great opportunity to take a look at the actual farm.  it was so cool to see the rows of collards and chard that we just got in our box the day before...literally farm-to-table, right?

i think the kids were amazed by the house o' hay.  they loved climbing on, jumping off, and climbing through the stacked bales of hay.  i love the simplicity behind the hay castle, and how it offers the kids opportunities for creative play and free exploration.  it was super cool, and it was hard to pry them away when it was time to pick our pumpkins.

unlike the u-pick pumpkin "patch" at trinity tree farm, the pumpkin patch at oxbow was an actual pumpkin patch.  the pumpkins were already detached, but we did have to wade through rows of pumpkin vines.  and the nice drizzle of rain, made for some muddy pumpkins, and muddy hands. this was legit pumpkin picking. ha!

and what better way to end the farm day with some wet, slippery and muddy pumpkin slinging with the pumpkin sling shot.

what a day well spent.  i loved watching all the kids play together (in the mud, even!).  i loved being able to experience simple, outdoor pleasures with the people i love.  and i loved being able to meet some of the people who have spent so much time and effort growing and tending to the food that nourishes my family.  we even got to meet the gal who packs our box every week!

the muddy boots, filthy clothes, and dirt-covered hands were so worth the sweet memories made that day at the pumpkin patch.


our portland adventure

in august we took our first family vacation in 4-5 years.  not that we didn't have any vacations since then, but we had lots, and lots of staycations.

this portland trip was particularly exciting, because the whole trip was fully funded and paid in cash.  no credit cards (just the debit card variety). it's a huge milestone for us as a family.  i wrote very briefly about our journey to becoming debt-free a long while back.  we are following dave ramsey's seven baby steps (you can go here and read an excellent break down of the steps from the lady who inspired me to live simply and start the path to financial freedom), and frankly the reason i haven't made any updates on our progress since then is because we're still on baby step 2.  ha!  it's been slow going, with a few hiccups along the way, but we've been building that debt snowball. we're at a point now where we can almost taste that freedom. almost.

our portland visit was more like a mini-vacation (only 3 nights), but a vacation nonetheless.  it was a nice, little "reward" for the last 4 chipping-away-at-our-debt years.  we set a budget for $1,000, and we only went over by $20!  traveling on a tight budget can still be fun and definitely do-able.  it does take some extra planning and a little more creativity at times, though.  and you have to be flexible, especially when traveling with younger children.  but the memories made and the experiences had are totally worth it!


day 1

the drive to portland from south seattle was an easy-breezy 3.5 hours, with a pit-stop in olympia for lunch.  the kids did amazing, and since we left on a sunday, we didn't have to deal with any rush hour traffic. ever wondered what traveling with 5 kids looks like?  well...here you go.

we rolled in a little bit earlier than lunch time, so we decided to do an impromptu visit to the capitol.  it would be a great opportunity for the kids to burn a little energy and stretch out their legs. i didn't think the legislative building would be open on a weekend, but i guess i was wrong.  they're open 7 days a week, but obviously, no one actually works on the weekends, except those who are manning the tours and the visitors center.  granted you can't see the senate in action or anything like that, but it probably was best for our family that we went when no one was working.

the grounds were beautiful, and was not busy at all.  we parked (for free) quite close to the capitol building, and there was also plenty of green space for the kids to run around and explore.  if you're looking for a quick weekend, educational day trip from seattle, look no further than olympia and the state capitol.

we did a self- guided tour through the legislative building, complete with some fun family photos next to george washington (i'm oddly close to his nose...). it was so quiet in there, but i'm pretty sure there would've been a lot of hustle and bustle during the work week.  like i said, it worked out way better for us to visit here on a weekend.

after exploring the capitol, we stopped for a quick lunch, and then we were back on the road.

our next stop before portland was the city of vancouver, wa, which is literally across the river from portland.  we have some dear friends (and old neighbors) from cleveland that just moved to vancouver, so what better way to welcome them to the best coast than a visit from us?

even though we've been away from cleveland for over a year, i still miss it.  the aching isn't as bad now, but i do still have some days where i get a little sad...it's hard to leave people you love.  anyway, the reunion was sweet.  the kids acted as if no time had passed, and it felt as if we were back on mars avenue.

we made it to the hotel right before the kids' bedtime (perfect timing).  we found a pretty affordable place not too far from downtown portland, on hayden island, that comfortably accommodated a family of 7, with a little pool, and free buffet breakfast every day.  yes, friends, no cooking or cleaning for 3 days in a row, plus swimming in a pool?  sounds like a real vacation to me!

day 2

since we only had 2 full days in portland, we had to prioritize which places we wanted to check out.  one place on our must see list is powell's books.  if you haven't ever heard of powell's books, it's a bibliophile's heaven on earth.  the flagship store is a whole city block, and it's full of books.  SO many books.  SO amazing.  the kids were allowed to pick one book as a souvenir, which was totally awesome, i think.  i scored a few classics for our school, and would have loved to buy more if we didn't have to stick to a budget.

the second must-see place on our list was voodoo doughnut.  unfortunately, we didn't end up going in, because there was a very long line.  they must be good doughnuts.  voodoo doughnut does have a second location in portland, which is not as busy, but it would've meant loading everybody back up in the car and driving there.  since we only had a few days, we decided to try voodoo doughnut the next time we were in portland.

so onwards we went.  i didn't really have much of a plan in place after voodoo doughnut, so we kind of walked around a bit.  we stopped by stumptown coffee to give the kids' legs a rest, and enjoy a little pick-me-up.

we ended up in pioneer courthouse square, where they just happened to have a farmer's market going that day.  we stopped at a stand to buy blueberries, then another stand to buy sandwiches, and found a spot to sit and enjoy some lunch.  sadly, lani had a serious meltdown at this moment, as evidenced by the only photo i took during our glorious lunch hour.

i guess baby was ready for a nap!  as aaron took lani back to the car, we finished up our lunch and prepared to make our way back.  while the walk to the car was only about a mile from us, i could tell little legs were getting tired.  fortunately, the day we went downtown also happened to be the day the max was offering free rides.  even though it would be a very short ride to our car, we decided to hop on.  it was a great decision!

after naps (for the littles) and swimming, we decided to check out hubworks urban brewery for our dinner.  you wouldn't think that a brewery would be a family-friendly dinner destination, but this place will surprise you.  it's a great spot for a large group gathering...or a large family, like ours, and the food and the beers are quite tasty.  the restaurant kids' play area where kids were free to draw on the chalkboard wall, read books, or play with toys, while the adults could sit at the table and enjoy one of their tasty beers (or try the beer sample option and taste a variety of brews).

day 3

another must-see place on our list for this trip was multnomah falls.  here's a funny thing about this place, for quite a while i thought i had never been there.  i was even telling people that i had never been there before.  but when i saw a picture of the falls (you know, with that trademark people bridge), i had a weird feeling i had been there before.  after inquiring with my mom, it was confirmed that i had, in fact, been there before. ha!

we were joined by our friends from vancouver, and took a short hike around the falls.  the waterfall was an amazing sight, and it was neat to be able to take my kids to a place that i went to as a kid.

we planned a picnic lunch after checking out the falls, which not only helped keep us on budget but allowed us more time to hang out with our friends. our bellies and our hearts were full by the time we were ready to head back to the hotel.

the rest of the afternoon was spent pretty much like the afternoon of day 2: naps for the little ones and swimming for the older kids.  we had three spots we wanted to hit up after the nappers woke up, so once they did, we loaded up and headed out.

we try to minimize loading in/out of the car as much as possible, especially when we're out and out and about, because it can be a pain.  the kids don't care for it much, and neither do we, so when we do make a stop we try to stay for a while before loading everyone back in the car. the three spots we wanted to check out for the rest of the afternoon and evening were revival drum shop, pok pok and salt and straw.  revival drum shop was aaron's request, and the establishment sells vintage and custom drums.  pok pok came highly recommended by some friends of ours, and they are very well known for some tasty thai street food.  salt and straw also came highly recommended by a few people, and they are an ice cream shop offering locally made ice cream with some very unique flavors.

after a quick map and google research, we realized we could do all three within close proximity of each other.  the drum shop and pok pok were pretty much next to each other, and salt and straw was half a mile north.  perfect!  our plan was to hit up the drum shop first, and then have an early dinner before heading over for ice cream.

unfortunately, when we got to the drum shop, there was a sad sign on the door telling us that they had moved locations.  the website still had the old address when we checked, so it must have just happened recently.  poor aaron.  and then we had another small hiccup in our plans: pok pok noi did not open for dinner for another hour. gah!  so we decided to pack everyone up and just head over to salt and straw and see what kind of dinner food we can find before we did dessert.

salt and straw is located in the alberta arts district neighborhood, on a street full of diverse, fun and eclectic shops.  after finding parking close to the ice cream shop, we strolled around, half looking for a good place to eat and half window shopping at some of the shops.  it's hard to look for something else to eat when you had your heart set on thai food, so we ended up settling on a thai restaurant a short distance from salt and straw.

we were the only ones in the restaurant, so i was a little nervous about how good the food would be.  but i had nothing to worry about.  the food was delicious, and hit the spot.  but we were careful not to fill up too much so that we had room for ice cream!

salt and straw had quite a bit more people there. everyone got their own scoop of ice cream, even little lani (i'm pretty sure she would have had a fit if she had to share). they had quite a variety of flavors to choose from, and it wasn't easy to make a decision.  the kids tried the cinnamon snickerdoodle.  ty had a milkshake, but i can't for the life of me remember which flavor it was.  aaron went with stumptown coffee and burnside bourbon, and i decided to go with honey lavender (i love lavender).

oh man, was it gooood ice cream.  in fact, it was mitchell's good. if you're wondering about mitchell's, it's a local cleveland ice cream shop that also uses local dairy
and offers some unique flavors much like salt and straw. if you are ever in cleveland, mitchell's is a place you really should check out.  since moving back to seattle, we haven't been able to find ice cream comparable to mitchell's...at least portland is a 3.5 hour drive away instead of a 3 days drive.

day 4

it was so hard to pack up and prepare for our drive back home.  we had so much fun, and our little getaway was a much needed time for our family to be together.  granted, we make time to explore our own home city as a family, but there is something to be said about really getting away, even for a short time.  it's refreshing, rejuvenating, and relaxing.  even with 5 kids, it really was relaxing. our kids enjoy traveling (so do their parents), and exploring a new place together allows us to draw closer as a family.

if you're planning a trip to portland for the first time (like us), a great site to help you plan your trip is travel portland.  it's a great resource for all things portland, and it was my main go-to site as i was planning and budgeting for our trip.

thinking about our experience in portland, gets me excited about planning for our next getaway vacation.  maybe we'll go the opposite direction and head north to canada.  hmmm...i guess we'll need to start saving up soon!


learning together: AOY3 // AOY0 {week 4}

ok, i know i just got started posting these weekly school roundups and i already skipped one week.  i have no good excuse except that life happens.  on the plus side, there's not really a whole lot you'd miss in one week.  we try to stick to a routine, and these weekly roundups are really for my records so i know these posts aren't very exciting to read.  

maybe one of these days i'll write a nice narrative about our typical week of learning.  one of these days...


history (books in brackets):

emma read about france explorers who sailed to the new world, and settled for a little while in florida [this country of ours].  this was an interesting read, particularly because the topic of cannibalism came up at the end of the reading (don't worry, it wasn't graphic).  the french explorers who had settled in florida pretty much didn't want to hang out there anymore (because their captain never returned as he had promised), so they decided to build their own boat to sail back to france.  you can guess how well that turned out...and out of desperation they drew straws to see who would be, umm, dinner.

and then there was king henry and his 6 wives [our island story].  she did very well on her narration, and we had some good discussions on king henry's character. emma was not overly impressed by king henry's choices from this section of reading, and thought he was kind of a selfish guy.

natural history/science:

emma read chapter 4 in Pagoo, and i had her list 4 facts about a hermit crab that she learned from her reading.  she loves that book, so that comprehension activity was pretty easy for her.  but i love that she's excited about her school books, and that she's read the whole thing through already yet is willing to re-read it a little bit at a time for school.

language arts:

i ordered a print practice and cursive practice book for emma through handwriting without tears.  i decided to order the 2nd grade print book for her as a quick refresher course on print writing.  we're breezing through it (she even likes to do extra pages), so we'll be starting cursive soon enough!

emma's been alternating between doing the HWT print book and copywork from her copywork notebook.  her print writing has actually improved just from a few weeks of doing the HWT book.

this year, i doubled the number of spelling words emma has each week.  we are on the second week of spelling, and still using mcguffey's eclectic spelling book to source the weekly word list.  this weeks words are belt, deer, dear, whine, wine, quite, quiet, bear, bare, beer.  we discussed the "qu" sounds, letters that make the long e and the long i sounds, and rule-breaker words for the long e sounds (a.k.a. jail words). 


emma did a couple more chapters from her life of fred book, and i two worksheets from homeschoolmath.net focusing on solving for missing addends and place values (larger numbers).

poetry and literature:

we have been lagging in our daily poem readings.  i suppose i can just have emma read one to herself, but i do enjoy reading it to her.  plus, they're pretty short, and reading them together gives us an opportunity to discuss the poem together afterwards.

she read about pecos bill from her american tall tales book.  i had her tell me 5 questions she would ask pecos bill if she were to interview him.  i wish i had written down the questions, because they were pretty creative, and showed that she understood the reading well.  she also went on and narrated many parts of the story...i think she enjoyed learning about pecos bill.

she read chapters 10 and 11 for the week in The Princess And The Goblin.  she was looking forward to reading more, but we had a pretty busy week so there didn't end up being enough time to read ahead.

she read the mechant of venice from the book Tales From Shakespeare.  she narrated pretty well, but had difficulty remembering everything that happened.  the story was pretty long, and i should have had her spread it out over a few days.  that would have made more sense, and she would have retained more of the reading that way.  oh well.  next time!

ballet (p.e./performing arts):

things are going well, from what emma has told me, and she's halfway done with her 7 week session.  the studio is on the upper level, so there isn't really any space for parents to watch, and i don't think they really like parents peeking either.  i don't blame them.  i usually didn't care for having parents watch during class time, because it can get distracting for the students.  according to emma's latest class update, they practiced tendus, and "ballet" skips (a.k.a. skipping with pointed feet).  she has made a sweet little friend in class, and i'm hoping that they can stay in the same class for the new session.  


so, our printer head for the black ink is a little mucked up, and i couldn't print out the sheets to make his letter of the week notebook page.  booo.

fortunately, that didn't hold us back.  gibson continued a few more pages in his HWT print book.  like emma, he is really enjoying doing his handwriting practice.  the HWT books are different from the typical handwriting books i've seen, and the kids love it.

we also did a little math.  nothing big, just adding some numbers with 10 as the highest sum.  gibson started adding numbers before he could write them, and i came across the best idea online (i wish i could remember which blog it was i saw it on) to encourage kids who can add, but haven't quite mastered writing them yet.  i use little round stickers with the answer to individual addition problems written in each sticker.  all gibson has to do is find the correct number that matches the answer to the addition problem and stick in the blank.  that way, they're not slowed down (or discouraged) by their lack of mastery in writing the numbers.  it's a pretty brilliant idea.


these two babies are going to end up starting school at the same time.  they do well playing on their own most days, and sometimes they'll want to join in with big brother and sister so they'll pull out some papers to draw or a coloring book to color in.

lani thinks she can use scissors, so she sneaks in my room and digs around in the school supply box until she can find the scissors to cut things.  so far, she's been trying to cut just paper.  i'm hoping that's as far as she goes right now, and doesn't move on to cutting hair!



this week, we read from Luke 2:1-40, Exodus 2:11-16, Acts 7:23-34, and Hebrews 11:24-28.

our memory verse for the week was Genesis 2:7, and since we're using this system for scripture memorization we also review memory verses from previous weeks.


i've been trying to make sure we do french at least 3 times a week, and we managed to fit a french lesson 4 times this week (we were out and about more than usual this week, and that pimsleur audio cd really came in handy).  some new and old words/phrases that stood out this week include j'e vais bien, comment allez-vous?, tres bien, chaud, merci, bonjour, quest-ce que c'est?

nature walk:

i kept lessons short on thursday, and we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring volunteer park.  there was some drizzling involved in our stroll, but the kids were totally excited about it because they got to use their umbrellas (which the boys sometimes turned into weapons *ahem*).  the park is quite big, with plenty of places to explore.  i will have to save a more detailed post about volunteer park for next time.

we also took some time to check out the park's conservatory, modeled after a victorian area glass greenhouse.  the building reminded us of the book misss rumphius, which is currently one of the children's favorite books (it was one of mine when i was a kid).  it was actually really neat to come home and look at the illustration of the conservatory in miss rumphius, after experiencing a real-life conservatory.

inside the conservatory, we had the opportunity to observe plants that aren't commonly seen here in the PNW - many unique, tropical plants that thrive best on year-round warm, humid conditions.

it was an excellent nature day.  sometimes, all we need to refresh us is some good, quality time outside, with freedom to explore, run, and experience at your own pace.  i'm glad we played hookie that day!


a taste of the farm life

last week, my sister asked me if we wanted to take a tour of a friend's farm with her and her family. how could i resist? a tour of a local farm?  heck yeah!

i get excited when we can learn more about local businesses and how we can support them.  especially when it comes to food.  whenever we can, and when our budget allows, we love supporting local farmers by sourcing as much of our produce locally through a CSA, the farmer's market or local grocery co-op.  i have learned a lot about food from participating in CSAs, and have become better aware of what foods are in season and which ones are not (i'm far from being a pro at this, but it's getting easier every year).  our whole family is also exposed to produce that may not make it on my grocery list if we hadn't joined a CSA (think fennel, fava beans and raddichio).

so, an opportunity to tour a local farm is exciting for me, because i get a chance to see where some of the fabulous local produce is coming from.  as it turns out, our farm tour was part of a bigger event put together by sno-valley tilth, an organization that connects local farmers in the snoqualmie valley to the surrounding communities and metropolitan areas.  sno-valley tilth was organizing farm tours of many of the farmers in the snoqualmie valley along with an amazing sounding farm faire and pig roast (aaah!) in the evening. coincidentally, the farm where we have our CSA share was also participating in the farm tour, so bonus for us!  this would be an opportunity to really see where some of our food actually came from.

the drive to the "country" was surprisingly short.  it took us only 45 minutes, which was only 15 minutes longer than if we were to drive to the zoo (and that's in the city). our first stop was oxbow farm, which is where we have our CSA subscription.  oxbow farm not only provides weekly veggie shares through their CSA program, but they sell their produce through a couple of farmer's markets, some area independent grocers, and supply produce to quite a few Seattle area restaurants.  they also provide educational programs for kids and put on seasonal events.

we missed the guided tour, but we were free to explore on our own.  they have a special kids' farm area where you can "guess the veg" in the children's garden, or run through a "living" tunnel made from gourd plants growing right over your head.  our kids were in heaven, and this is where we spent most of our time at oxbow.

they climbed and jumped off tree stumps, and snacked on crunchy apples and sweet strawberries they picked themselves.

there was a little picnic area placed underneath an awning of grape vines, with grapes you can pick off and eat. it felt magical to be standing right underneath it.

and there was a huge teepee like structure with some sort of bean plant growing around the poles, providing shade and made you feel as if you were really inside a tent.

there was so much imaginative play going on, and it felt good just being able to let the kids do some natural exploration on their own.

our next stop was local roots farm where we met up with my sister and family, and had the opportunity to meet the owners/farmers, siri and jason. they're a smaller farm than oxbow, but still provide amazing, quality produce through their CSA subscription, farmer's markets and to many Seattle area restaurants.

the kids had a blast hanging out with their cousins and new friend, siri and jason's sweet little boy, and i gained a greater appreciation for the work that these farmers do to provide food for us to eat. it was a privilege to get a small glimpse of what life is like for them, and thankful that they are willing to share what they do with us.

it was a saturday well spent.  full of learning, fun, and new discoveries.


learning together: AOY3 // AOY0 {week 2}


history (books in brackets):

emma was introduced to the Spanish explorers Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto, Hernando Cortes, and Pizzaro [child's history of the world], and their discoveries in the new world. we reviewed the places discovered on the map, and also identified some of the native peoples that were already inhabiting those areas (aztecs, incas and maya peoples).

i am still behind in getting things ready for emma's improved timeline.  i'm mostly trying to gather some pictures of people we read about last year, and pinpointing the dates.  i'm not going to print out a picture for every single person we read about last year, just a handful is enough, i think.


emma read another chunk from marco polo.  according to her narration, marco polo has been introduced in the story as a boy.  i found she was a little distracted during her narration, but maybe it was because i had her do this while we were waiting for gibson's swim class to be done.  next time, i think i'll save this reading for when we aren't going places.

i couldn't resist throwing in a few episodes from travel with kids this week.  they had a couple of episodes in mexico, and one in peru, which tied in nicely to what emma had read in history about the spaniards discovering mexico and peru, and the aztecs, incas and maya peoples.

emma and i had a brief discussion on latitude and longitude lines as we were finding the places the spaniards discovered on the map.  we also talked briefly about time zones, the prime meridian and the equator.  i'm thinking that the next time we buy an orange, i can tie in the discussion on latitude and longitude lines somehow.

natural history/science:

this week's cultivated crop was the pumpkin.  we managed to harvest 1 pumpkin from our little garden, before the rest of the pumpkin leaves got taken over by powdery mildew. boohoo.  this week, emma decided to use the oil pastels to do her drawing, and taped a leaf sample in her nature journal.  she also recorded 5 things she observed from the pumpkin plant.  side note: i only asked for 1-3 observations to record, but she had "too many, so how about 5?" ha!

pagoo came in during the end of week 2, and just as i thought, we are already caught up for week 3.  emma is in love with the story of pagoo the little hermit crab, and reading 2 chapters worth didn't take long.  she also enjoyed narrating what she read, and was very detailed.  you can tell she really likes this book.  i'm looking forward to visiting the beach and the aquarium to observe the tide pools (again), so i can tie in what she's learning from pagoo with real life experiences.


it's worth to note this week, that emma did copywork all 5 days.  i ordered the 2nd grade level handwriting without tears workbook for her, and we will alternate between that and regular copywork once the workbook comes in.  she has legible penmanship, but it's been kind of sloppy these past few weeks.  i'm not sure why.  so, i think it's worth investing some extra time to re-examine the basics again.  she'll be starting cursive this year as well, so i'd like her to have a good hold on print writing before she takes on cursive.


emma did another two days of review, which included telling time and putting larger numbers in numerical order.

her life of fred book came in at the end of week 2, and she immediately planted herself on the chair and began reading. she won't officially start the book until this week (week 3), but she likes to read it for the story. have i mentioned how i love life of fred books? i love how the book incorporates math concepts within a fun to read story, and that students have the opportunity to do all the lessons in the book independently.


we did better in week 2, and emma read 1 poem each day. on one of the days, we had a great discussion about race, martin luther king, junior, biracial parents (and mixed kids), and how God made each one of us unique, after reading a poem titled "the little black boy." it's moments like those, that are like an encouragement for my heart.  teachable moments can happen at any time, and i'm so glad i get to be a part of it.


emma read chapters 7-9 from princess and the goblin, and narrated what she read with ease.  did i already mention that she has fallen in love with this book.  i'm pretty sure she's going to go back and re-read this story again, kind of like what she did with the book, the little duke (part of her history reading from last year).

i forgot to mention from week 1, that emma will be continuing pilgrim's progress by john bunyan this year.  it's a lengthy and heavy (in the figurative sense) book, and the kids aren't expected to finish it in one year.  we do an audio version of this book, and she listens to about 10-15 minutes of it each week. i'm actually pretty surprised by how much she understands, but i think it's been helpful to take it in very small chunks.

ballet (p.e./performing arts):

emma started her first week in ballet.  she's actually going to the studio where i sometimes used to take class when i was in college.  it's a funny feeling to come back as a parent and not as a student.

she's now past the pre-ballet age, and she's at the age where a little bit more formal ballet training will be starting.  she had a great first class, and said that it wasn't all review for her (that's a good).


this week's letter is the letter "j." he completed the "j" notebook page to add to his alphabet binder, and he practiced writing both the upper case and lower case "j." i ordered him the kindergarten level of the handwriting without tears workbook, so i can keep all his letter printing practice in one place.  i also like the handwriting without tears method (though we're only using the workbooks at home...no slates, right now), and the lessons are short and simple.

the workbooks have kind of gone by the wayside, and gibson has shifted much of his attention to drawing and coloring. but he did do one activity, which had him identify pictures with a "j" sound.  he seemed to enjoy that one, and actually did pretty well.  i was surprised, because i haven't spent much individual time with him working on letter sounds aside from when he's working on his notebook page.    there was something i read in charlotte mason's volume on home education that talked about how a child will retain whatever information they feel is important to them at that time (isn't that still true for adults too, though?), and that they will naturally make their own connections.  i feel like that idea can be illustrated in how gibson managed to automatically know how the letter "j" sounds like.  i didn't need to spend any extra time working with him on letter sounds, because he was making connections in his head about all these things.

gibson started his first week of swimming class.  despite his sometimes shy disposition, he was not at all shy about being in a new class environment, and happily participated in class.


these two "worked" on their letter j coloring sheet, and a dot sheet with pictures that started with the letter "j."  sheets were sourced here and here.

cash has been really into drawing things too, just like gibson.  and his drawings have started going beyond the regular crazy scribbles.  there are specific stories/things/creatures in his drawings, and it's so cute to listen to him explain it to me.



we read exodus 2:1-10, Acts 7:17-22 and Luke 1:26-45.  i printed out a few activity sheets for the kids to do while listening to the scripture reading, but they were more into playing with legos which worked fine too.

memory verse:

our memory verse was genesis 1:27. we are using this system for scripture memorization so we also reviewed last week's memory verse on the odd days.  i am really liking this method of memorization.  it's simple and only takes 5 minutes a day (at the most) to do...which means i'm more likely to do it consistently.

nature walk:

we had a very enjoyable walk/bike ride around our neighborhood this week.  while it was not a nature walk, per se, it was nice to be outside, breathing in the fresh air, seeing the lake and some of the mountains.

we also spent saturday exploring a couple of local farms, which tied in perfectly with this term's nature study them of cultivated crops (that will be saved for a later post).  i love when i don't have to plan things, and they just kind of fall into place.

we also spent some time playing in the beach, and taking a quick stroll while we waited for emma to finish ballet class.  there was lots of sand playing, climbing and running.


we did some lessons from muzzy on our home days, and the pimsleur CD on our "errands/outing" days (we've "graduated" to lesson 2...woohoo!).  words and terms we learned this week (that the kids actually retained!): "qu'est-ce que c'est," "c'est une ___," "bonjour," "est-ce que vous ette american," "merci," "mademoiselle," "oui," "comment allez-vous."


our hymn for the week was actually one we've sang at church, so the kids recognized it immediately: "abide with me" by henry francis lyte.

our folksong this week was "barbara allen," an american folk song, which (from what i read) originated in England and brought over to america early european settlers.  the kids don't seem too interested in this one.  maybe it's because it's a ballad?  i don't know.  i play it daily, but they're just not into this one.

we had a very full week with gibson and emma starting extra-curricular lessons.  i'm sure it will be even more busy once emma starts swimming class again in october.  i will be looking forward to our month long school break in december!


wordless wednesday :: small moments

sometimes, i get so caught up in getting the to-do list done, or the crazy that started a little to early in the morning, that i can miss the small, sweet moments that God offers me through out the day.

trying to remember moments like these to give me some perspective on what's really important.

more wordless wednesday here and here.


learning together: a new school year (AOY3 and AOY0)

so i've done a horrible job following through on my plan of posting a weekly school recap this past school year.  yes, there was that whole moving across the country thing, but really, that's not an excuse.

with a new school year starting this week, i think it's a good time to reattempt that plan.  the recap's mostly for me.  if i do this consistently, i'm hoping to have a nice record of what we've done for the year.  we'll, though.  we'll see.

we're still following the charlotte mason method (please look here if you're curious about what that is), and will be using the ambleside online curriculum again.  emma will be in year 3, and i'm planning on introducing gibson to year 0 (which he'll be in through part of age 6, or maybe longer if needed).  as a side note, each year doesn't necessarily correspond to grade levels.  if i recall correctly, completing year 10 (the curriculum goes up to year 12) is actually sufficient for high school graduation.

okay, here's a review of what we did for the first week of school...


if you're curious to see what year 3 will hold, you can go here and check out the booklist. i tried to keep it a little lighter for the first week back to our school schedule, so we skipped spelling, and only did 2 days worth of copywork (as opposed to 4 days).

history (books in brackets):

she was introduced to henry VIII [our island story], some of the post columbus explorers, including magellan [child's history of the world], martin luther [trial and triumph], and john cabot [this country of ours]. she will also be learning about leonardo da vinci, but i haven't gotten the book yet. we also traced the journey of the ship victoria (the only one of magellan's ships, and the first ship ever, to sail around the world) on our wall map, and found the location of where john cabot possibly landed in north america (either cape breton or the coast of labrador in canada, if you were wondering).  she chose to do oral narrations for all the readings, and was pretty thorough with all of them.

i also did a complete overhaul of her timeline binder.  i was doing terrible at helping her keep up with it, partly because it was so time consuming for me to prepare all the things necessary for her weekly timeline updates. as it turns out, i was making things way more complicated than they needed to be. ha! after doing some research on how charlotte mason actually had her students complete their timeline, i decided to start over.  there will be some catch-up involved, but since the timeline is actually quite simple, i don't think it will be long until we're up to speed.


she began reading the book marco polo by george makepeace towle, which took her to the city of venice.  again, she chose to do an oral narration of her reading.  we also watched the travel with kids: venice episode, to give her more of an idea what the city was like.  side note: we LOVE the travel with kids show!  it gets us all (as a family) excited to travel and explore the world.  it's aired on some pbs stations, but you can also find episodes on hulu and amazon prime.  sadly, our local pbs stations don't air travel with kids so we often use hulu and amazon to watch them.

natural history/science:

much of the nature study stuff will be covered a little bit further down, since we often do nature studies as a family. she also has the book pagoo to read for the next 2 terms, but i haven't gotten the book yet.  emma is a voracious reader, so i'm not too worried about being behind on some of the reading.  many of holling c. holling's books have short chapters, so i'm pretty sure she can catch up quite easily.


i probably won't include updates for copywork every week, since it's pretty straight forward.  i'm trying something different this year, and giving her a comp notebook which will have all her copywork in it.  this week's copywork were excerpts from one of her literature books and a poem from her poetry schedule.


she did 2 days of math this week, and it was a review of telling time. i'll be doing 1 more week of review, and then she'll be starting the next life of fred book.


for term 1 (12 weeks), she will be reading poems by william blake once a day.  she only did one poem this week, which was untitled, but about the pied piper.  poetry is pretty straightforward as well. just read one a day!


she read part 1 from the heroes by charles kingsley, and chapters 1-6 from the princess and the goblin.  for the heroes' narration, i had her write out 5 questions she would ask on a test about this part of the book.  for the princess and the goblin, she verbally narrated chapters 1-5 (narration after every chapter...this wasn't done all in one day, by the way), and sketched out a scene from chapter 6.  she is totally loving this book, and asked to read more. this week's schedule only has her reading chapters 1-3, but if she's asking for more, why not?  and it always feels good to be ahead of schedule.


you can go here and check out what year 0 looks like.  it's actually pretty low-key. in these early years, and there is more focus on helping the child discover the world around him naturally. i think by providing many opportunities for kids to this, especially in their early years, helps prepare them for more formal learning in year 1.  what this looks like for gibs: plenty of time for play, but providing opportunities for more formal learning (i like using the term table work), when i see him express an interest. compared to last year, he has shown an increased desire in doing more formal learning, though i still try to keep it short.

we're continuing our letter of the week theme, and adding pages to his alphabet binder.  i use the alphabet lapbook print outs from here.  they're pretty simple, and only take one up one page.  this week's letter is the letter "G."  he was totally stoked, because (obviously) his name starts with a "G."  he completed his G notebook page to add to his alphabet binder, and practiced writing his upper and lower case Gs.

i didn't plan much for him this week (and i may not need to for the rest of the month), since he's been happy to work out of some workbooks i got him a while ago.  there have been many mornings where i've seen him working out of one of his workbooks (i got him 3) without any prompting.  it's pretty neat to see his interest in them naturally develop.  not that all kids will develop a natural interest in doing workbooks for fun.  i personally think it's genetic...i was that kid who really enjoyed doing workbooks.


these two love to be a part of "doing school." while lani is happy to have markers and a sheet of paper to draw on, cash sometimes will insist on getting his own worksheet.  much like last year, i used a "worksheet" from here, and i corresponded the print out to the letter gibson was learning for the week.  cash also enjoys cutting and gluing things, and both cash and lani like to use stickers.  LOTS of stickers.  they're definitely working those fine motor skills.  i have a feeling that i'll probably end up having these two start school at the same time, since they're so close in age.



this week we read from exodus chapter 1, and did a short discussion on the reading.  sometimes, i'll have emma do a worksheet to go along with the reading, but since she's already familiar with the chapter, i didn't think it was necessary.

memory verse:

this week's memory verse is genesis 1:1.  i'm trying something new with verse memorization this year, and implementing this system.  we have been fairly inconsistent the past few years in verse memorization, and that's really my fault.  i don't think i had a good system, and i was inconsistent in having us review the verse every day (probably because i didn't have a good system!).

nature study/walk:

we are going to try and follow ambleside online's nature study schedule, plus a weekly, weather permitting, nature walk.  for the fall, AO has cultivated crops on their nature study schedule, and this week's crop was the green bean.  emma did a lovely sketch and watercolor of some the handful of green beans we harvested from the garden.  and then that night, we cooked them for dinner! we'll probably focus on as many crops from our garden first, and then continue to things we find at the grocery store.

we went to seahurst park for our nature walk this week.  heading to the beach is one of our kids' favorite things to do, and thanks to some amazing weather, we were able to do a pleasant stroll along the water.


we're using the pimsleur language program to learn conversational french, and a free, online language course through our public library called muzzy.  like last year, we listen to the pimsleur cds in our car when we're running errands, and watch a few video lessons from muzzy on our home days (a.k.a. the days we don't need to use the car in the morning).  this week, was review since i did not do any french lessons over the summer.

composer study:

for term 1, we will be listening to music by hildegard von bingen.  this week and the next, we're listening to antiphon, o quam mirabilis.  this music sounded much different from the music we studied last year.  emma observed that there were no instruments, just a voice singing, but it didn't feel like you were just listening to a singing voice.

aaaannnd...that's a wrap! thanks for hanging out until the end!

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