A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Price of Valor

If you remember my Books of 2019 post from January, I mentioned that I read 6 books by Susan May Warren last year.  I want to share with you one of this year's Susan May Warren books, the newly released, The Price of Valor.  

The Price of Valor is book 3 in Susan's Global Search and Rescue series.  Each book can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone story, but you'll want to read them all!  I actually read book 2, The Heart of a Hero first, and enjoyed it so much that I ordered book 1, The Way of the Brave.  You can read my review of The Heart of a Hero here.  

The Price of Valor follows the story of Hamilton Jones.  As a kid, Ham's best friend was the girl next door, Signe.  Through a complex set of twists and turns, they end up married but living apart, and Ham believes her to be dead.  

Not only is Signe alive, but she has a child--Ham's child.  Ham's got some big feelings about missing the first 10 years of his daughter's life, but more than that, he wants to make this marriage work.  

You know how most of us have been indulging in a little shelter in place television escapism?  Well, my drug of choice on the screen is NCIS.  The original and the spin offs.  Well, when I was reading The Price of Valor, it was every bit as action packed as an NCIS episode.  This isn't a fluffy love story.  This is a suspense tale, and it kept me on the edge of my seat.  

Longtime readers will appreciate cameo appearances of characters from other Susan May Warren books.  If you're just coming on scene with this series, you'll appreciate that we get more time with Jake and Aria, and your heart will ache when Jenny drops a bombshell on Orion in this book.  

If you're up for glaciers and avalanches, hurricanes and escaped convicts, an erupting volcano and a terrorist plot, I'd highly recommend this series.  

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Vampires and Pumpkins, Oh My!

When I realized the English program I'd chosen wasn't working for Katie, I scrambled to find some other language arts thing else for her to work on.  What I came up with was having her finish one of Jack's old spelling books, and a grammar workbook.  

Well, she polished off that spelling book this week and looked at the blank page at the end wistfully and said, "There should be a certificate or something."  Um, gimme a sec, I can totally make that happen.  I had found some blank certificates during the Great School Room Purge, so I whipped one out and wrote it up for her.  

It was such a simple thing, and it made her so happy.  Hmm, I wonder if I can find a bird themed printable certificate to use when we finish Flying Creatures...?  Maybe present the girls with noisy stuffed birds to go along with them?  

Feeling like autumn around here.  Super easy pumpkin spice cupcakes.  Literally spice cake mix, canned pumpkin, a bag of chopped nuts (pecans, I think), cream cheese frosting, pumpkins and leaf sprinkles.  I don't even like pumpkin, and these were good.  

We might have to make them again with mini chocolate chips in them.  Mmm!  

We learned about Vikings this week!  The girls built model Viking ships from cardstock, and watched 2 Viking documentaries from the library.  

In studying Norway, we learned about the artist Edvard Munch, famous for his painting The Scream.  Art Projects For Kids has a Scream-inspired project that we tweaked a little.  

The original was a crayon resist, but we did the person on a separate paper and cut it out and glued it over the watercolor blow painting.  

I couldn't quite get the girls to give me a scream face, more of an "Ahhh" like you'd say at the doctor's office.  

Paul's replacing a sink in one of the downstairs bathrooms.  Grumman, of course, has to be in the middle of everything.  



And more books.  

I was doing my weekend lesson planning before we started Norway, and I saw that the passage we'd be reading in Window on the World was going to be about Romania.  Hmm, day trip?  And down the rabbit hole I went.  Because I tend to get a little carried away when there's a "theme" involved.  

Romania is the home of Transylvania, the home of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.  (There's even a castle that has totally cashed in on the tourist trade there.)  

So we read about Romania, we got library books about Romania, we watched videos about Romania, and we made a vampire craft.  

Even though I never did any "spooky" stuff with the older kids.  

And look at that.  The sky didn't fall.

When the girls were doing their Scream faces, one asked, "Should I color the face yellow? Or orange?"  Ack.  Time to get people colors markers.  

We all tried to figure out what color we were.  I assumed I'd be closest to the color "paper" but if I could dilute "bronze" a bit, I think that would be the best match.  

Honestly?  They're all a little off.  

I am tempted to try some real art markers to see if we can find closer matches.  I've seen there's a Crayola 24 pack coming out.  Maybe I should have held out for that.  

One of the assignments in the girls' Europe packet was to make their own flag, or copy an existing European flag.  We killed several trees with this project, as Katie started cutting without a real plan.  It probably would have been easier without Grumman laying on her project.  

Hannah looked at the Flags of Europe page in her flag book and decided to go with Poland.  Personally, I would have chosen to design my own flag.  Hmm, maybe purple, with 9 turquoise hearts in the upper left corner.  

These are Lapland Felt Squares.  (The other suggested craft for Norway was Rosemaling a chest, which we did not do.)  Last time around, we made these as small ornaments for our around the world Christmas tree.  

Poor Grumman had two revolting developments this week.  The shelter sent me a text saying Bertie was not thriving there, and could we pick her up and continue to foster her?  Poor little thing.  She was 2# when she went back, but by the time her name came up on the surgery schedule, she was no longer 2#.  She was only 1.6# when I picked her up.  Her frame is growing; her face is bigger.  But she's fluff and bones.  So she's "home" and she's eating and purring, and enjoying all the attention.  Grumman is Not Amused by this.  

The second revolting development was a costume contest email from SPCA.  I, of course, thought Grumman would make a dignified vampire.  I could just imagine him sitting tall and majestic.  The reality was somewhat less than impressive.  He's not a big fan of costumes.  I didn't end up getting a submission worthy photo.  I'll have to try again another day.  Something to look forward to.  

Our library pickups come in brown bags.  I decided we could repurpose a couple of them for loot bags for the drive through Halloween event we're planning to attend.  

I also had the girls journal what they'd like to dress up as, suddenly realizing I hadn't even thought about that, since we won't be doing a traditional harvest carnival this year.  

In fact, we haven't even made it to a pumpkin patch yet this year.  This weird, weird year.

Pumpkin drawing instructions from Art Projects For Kids.  We've done a few of their guided drawings now, and I like them.  

Happy pumpkin season!  

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Curriculum Check Up

We're two months into the school year, and pretty much settled into our routine.  It's time to look at what's working and what's not.  

Fortunately, with some minor tweaks, most of it is working fairly well.  

We're using A Beka for math, and it's going fine.  Josiah has been helping with the scoring, which is wonderful.  The girls do "corrections" before going on to the next lesson.  

Because Logic of English was a lot of me teaching sounds, and rules, and root words, out loud, it wasn't working for Katie at all, so we sorta scrapped it.  Now Katie is doing Language Smarts from The Critical Thinking Co., and Hannah is doing Writing With Skill.  I still give Hannah spelling tests from LOE, which also include parts of speech and plurals/tenses.  Just to keep things sharp.  I keep thinking I should do the occasional Mad Libs with them (we have several of the Mad Libs books) to keep parts of speech fresh in their minds, but I never remember when we have extra time.  

Katie used up the back end of an old spelling book we had here, and when she finished it...

We moved on to the next level.  We may do spelling on some Saturdays or over Christmas break to be able finish the book within the school year... or we may not.  I'm not going to stress about it.  I'll go by Katie's willingness to work on it.  I think it would freak her out to not finish the book, so we'll probably try to get extra done here and there.  

Although MFW includes science, we are doing an additional science program.  

We're "flying along" in science.  I love that we hit bats in October.  We're 7 chapters in out of 14, so I'm glad I also got Swimming Creatures, which we'll use after we finish Flying Creatures.  Both of these textbooks I was blessed to be able to trade masks for with local homeschooling mamas.  We've added a lot of library books on owls, bats, nature, birding, etc.  

Another mom on Facebook asked for Health curriculum recommendations, because her state requires it.  While California doesn't require that we teach health, her question jogged my memory, and I realized I had these books from when the big kids were little, so I pulled them out and we've been adding a health lesson here and there.  

Of course, the backbone of our curriculum this year is geography.  So far, we've studied the United States, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Norway.  I also added in smaller studies on Argentina, Panama, and Romania.  In addition to the purchased books we use for multiple countries, we've gotten piles and piles of library books on these countries, as well as topics within them, such as learning about Vikings when studying Norway, or learning about maple syrup when studying Canada.  We've also enjoyed quite a few videos, including travel episodes, and a documentary about the Canal while studying Panama.  

We started the year with me reading aloud to the girls from various books, and then asking questions about the passage.  That wasn't a good fit, so now I write the pages for each on the white board, and the girls do the reading on their own and then we discuss together.  It's not the way we did things when I did Exploring Countries and Cultures with Brianna, Eli and Jack, but it's what works for Hannah and Katie and I now.  

There have been a few things in the teacher's manual that I read and think, "Yeah, we're not doing that."  Carving soap was one of them.  The constant nature walks don't usually happen, either.  But I'm adding in enough "extra" stuff that's not in the manual that I don't feel the slightest compunction about crossing things out here and there.  

While I love adding in books, and music (we've played the national anthem for most of the countries we've studied, as well as traditional music), and videos, I'm really glad we're getting lots of art in this year, too.  Looking forward to our cave paintings when we get to France.  

I'm glad we have so many resources available online.  How awesome is it that I can find Viking writing paper for the girls to summarize what they learned about Norway on?  

I'll probably talk more about curriculum in the spring, as we start wrapping things up.  It feels good to have hit our stride and be chugging along at a good pace.  

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Learning About Norway

Last weekend, when I was lesson planning, I fell down a rabbit hole, and now I am looking forward to a "day trip" to Romania.  One of the books we use, Window On The World (affiliate link), talks about various people groups.  Our reading in that book for this week was supposed to be about Romania.  Hmm, Romania, Transylvania, Dracula...  So I ordered up some books, and when they get here, we'll be doing some reading and a little vampire craft.  And a couple worksheets.  Because when I Ms. Frizzle, I tend to go a little overboard.  

A pile of not-Romania books.  Starting to see some Norway books come through now.  It's hit & miss what we'll get quickly, and what will take literally months to arrive.  I went way overboard getting black history books in February, and...

...they're still trickling in, 8 months later.  Which reminds me.  I need to return that book about the Port Chicago 50.  

So, terrible lighting, but what you see here is Grumman on the chair, and Bertie on the floor.  This was the closest they ever got.  I had hoped that Grumman would get used to the kittens, like he did the ones we had earlier this summer, and we could keep pretty Bertie.  This was not to be.  

A dessert I saw online.  S'mores cups.  Chocolate and marshmallows in little pie crusts.  They were pretty messy.  It's a cute idea, but I won't be doing this one again.  

Jack and Paul have been working out together.  They were planking the other day, and I kinda laughed at Jack's noises.  "Well you try doing it, then!"  Only, I knew that I can plank.  So I had Paul time me, and I did the same time they did, without the I'm-going-to-die noises.  

It's funny the things that are "hard" for my students.  Sometimes, something that I assume will be fun ends up causing tears.  Such was the case with this cartoon strip.  Someone who has no problem following step by step drawing instructions, completely freaked over coming up with their own plot and sequence.  

Even though we don't do every single project, I appreciate the variety of learning experiences offered in these notebooks.  Lots of stuff I wouldn't have thought of on my own, like cartooning.  

Jack had a science experiment involving plain water, colored water, and Jello.  Something about light particles.  I asked him to let me take a picture, because I hardly get to mention him here any more.  

Toy egg shaker.  Best. Kitten. Toy. Ever.  I was sitting in the sewing room when I heard "rattle, rattle."  I looked over, and Bertie had found the egg shaker, and was rolling it around.  He played with that thing for a good 10 minutes straight.  I even got video, in which he does a somersault.  

But baby Bertie reached two pounds, and headed back to the shelter for surgery and adoption.  I'm a little sad, since I hoped he would stay, but I've been working on putting away/packing up all the supplies, and cleaning/washing everything they contacted.  Grumman still hasn't really forgiven me, even though I've tried to make the kitten smells go away.  

I mentioned the attempted School Pictures.  We spent some time drawing at the park, too.  

Nice to get out in the fresh air.  I'm hoping to manage the pumpkin patch next week, but I keep making excuses.  

More books & movies.  

The most fortuitous thing happened!  We hit bats in our Flying Creatures science in October.  Because October is the time when all the bat crafts, bat worksheets, and bat drawing instructions are floating around.  So we made these cute, simple coffee filter bats the first day of the bat chapter.  And I reserved some bat books.  And I downloaded some bat puzzles and such.  

And we did bat guided drawings.  Because I tend to take an idea and run with it.  

The center drawer of my desk is a mish mash of staples, binder clips, paper clips, paper fasteners, pushpins, and assorted nonsense.  I was looking for suction cups to hang up our bats and I found rulers.  Lots of rulers.  13 rulers in one drawer.  This does not include the rulers that Hannah and Katie have in their school buckets.  The boys used to sword fight with them when they were little.  And I'm pretty sure the big kids used to hide rulers from me, because (pre-adoption) I may have utilized corporal punishment from time to time.  I'm guessing the Westcott rulers were a 5 cent loss leader in the school daze sales at Staples.  But still.  That's a lot of rulers.  I kept one in the drawer and put the rest in our school supplies bucket.  I'll donate the best of them to the next backpack drive I run across (along with several crayon boxes that I'm not sure why we have).  

I went into JoAnn's to get some faux fur for a gnome craft, and I found it amusing and slightly dangerous that the Perler beads and the baking sprinkles were right next to each other.  

Eli had a box shipped here.  When he asked for a picture, Grumman photo bombed.  

Autumn is in the air.  It's in the front room, too!  Time to dig out the hoodies just in case we leave the house in the morning.  

I used Crikey to make the girls autumn t-shirts.  While I was at JoAnn's getting fake fur, I noticed the 5 for $10 t-shirt sale, so I picked up a few blank t-shirts for crafting.  

There you have it.  We have one more week in Norway, then we'll be heading to France.  This coming week should include Romania, and possibly time travel (Vikings).