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.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Our Thanksgiving Week

We managed a full week of homeschool this week.  Not because I'm a meanie, who made the kids homeschool Thanksgiving morning, but because we function better when we stick to a routine.  Besides, school has been mostly fun (or at least pleasant) lately.  

Although none of the far away kids were home for Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for a picture from Eli, who went spelunking recently.  

If I had to guess, he was probably watching a little moth flitter in the light, but it looked for all the world like he was trying to be spooky, and it made me laugh.  

Solar panels went on the roof this week.  The system isn't active until after inspection, but it's a step in the right direction.  

Katie's German shepherd drawing.  I got a book about cat breeds, and Hannah asked for a book about dogs, so I got a couple, including another "how to draw" book.  

Hannah's recent creations.

With the addition of Kenya, we've got quite the flag collection going.  Our "international pack" of flags came with one African flag.  Heavy eye roll.  

Katie, putting African flag stickers in her book.  

So, you remember the map of Germany that we put up?  With post-its noting the interesting places we learned about?  

Well, someone took that as a challenge, and proceeded to peel off as many post-its as he could.  So we took down the map this week.  Oh Grumman.  

We watched the Ethiopia episode of Most Dangerous Ways to School (on Amazon Prime).  I found myself very grateful for all the conveniences we take for granted.  It made me want to fund wells and shoes.  

The girls' camel pictures (from Art Projects For Kids, a free website) turned out really well!  

We did another lesson from the Home Art Studio second grade disc.  I really feel like most of these projects appeal to a wide range of ages.  These are the three porridge bowls from the Goldilocks story. 

We watched an elephant documentary on Disney + and learned a lot!  Actually, we've found quite a few related shows on Disney + for Africa.  I like the National Geographic section.  I'm just not crazy about animals getting eaten by other animals, or animals getting old and passing away.  I may have teared up a couple times this week watching.  

Grumman liked the part in Wild Congo where they showed all the bats fluttering.  Here, he seems to be saying, "I am lion, too," during African Cats.  

My homemade chicken noodle soup wasn't very soupy, despite 2 containers of chicken stock, but that was okay.  It was so good, we slurped it down anyway.  Lots of garlic, to ward off sniffle season.  

More books.  I feel like I may have missed a photo this week, because we usually bring in more than this.  

I've started reading more again.  It sort of goes in waves.  I read 80-something books last year, and was really "behind" this year, with no books at all logged for one calendar month.  I finished book 47 last night.  Which is not that impressive for me, but I'm okay with it, because I know that's a lot more than many people read in a year, and because I seem to be past the point where I find myself re-reading the same page over and over and having no idea what it says.  All that to say, I've begun adding books for myself to our hold list.  

Thanksgiving was quiet this year, with just 7 of us.  Nevertheless, we have much to be thankful for.  Health, jobs, and traditions, to name just a few.  This (admittedly kind of ugly) bread basket was my mom's, and I grew up with it making an appearance on her table for special occasions.  It was a wedding gift when my parents were married.  Even though it sports a couple of chips now that it lives in our house, I'm glad I can share it with my kids.  

I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving.  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Moment of Silence

I want to take a moment of silence today.  I want to stop and remember the American lives lost this year.  

First, the more than 250,000 who died of COVID.  We, as a people, never expected this.  Epidemics are things that happen in other places, to other people.  We’re a modern nation.  We somehow believe we’re “safe” here.  That even if we do get sick, modern medicine can heal us.  (Newsflash, God heals; medicine treats.)  

Let’s hold space for those who died because they were unable to access health care for other maladies.  Those who died because important procedures were delayed or cancelled.  Those who were afraid to go to the hospital when they needed to, and missed out on life-saving treatment.  

Let us remember those who succumbed to suicide and drug overdose, during this stressful time of hopelessness.  

Be mindful, even, of the expected deaths, whether from old age or terminal illness, those who spent their last days/weeks alone, because loved ones weren’t permitted to hold their hand and ease their passage.  

We must recognize that America is grieving.  We’ve lost so many of the unique individuals that make up our amazing country.  Grief is hard.  Grief comes with many emotions.  We’re cranky due to grief.  

The fear, anger, and divisiveness we’re seeing online is magnified because for many of us, it’s our only human interaction outside our household.  Online interactions have always had the potential to become confrontational, due to the lack of voice inflection and body language.  We can’t read each other’s intent, we can only read their words, and we’re not always careful with our words.  But in the pre-COVID world, online interactions were a smaller part of our social life.  Now, they’re almost the entirety.  I can’t dilute the online strife with chatting with other moms at the park about homeschooling.  I can’t forget the pandemic by laughing with a fellow volunteer at Book Den over a hilarious title that comes across our sorting table.  I’m not getting the weekly puppy kisses and grateful thank yous from volunteering at the animal vaccine clinic.  I miss the elation of participating in a 5K race with hundreds of other people.  

At a time when we should be drawing closer together, our leader is fueling the divisiveness.  Instead of graciously bowing out, and wishing us all the best, he’s practically clawing at the columns to hold on to the White House.  

Let’s take a moment of silence for all the lives lost this year.  Then another moment for the less tangible things we’ve lost.  Because mask/no mask, Trump/no Trump, open up/shut down, we’ve somehow created a culture where it’s okay to attack and disparage our friends.  And that grieves me, too.  Like I always tell my kids, “Be kind humans.”  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Our Germany, Turkey, Spain Week

Somewhere around the start of the school year, we sent off letters to the embassies of all the planned countries we would be learning about (I did not have the foresight to anticipate adding several extra countries along the way).  Mexico was the first to respond, but we'd already finished Mexico by the time their little packet got here.  

Germany went all out, sending us this array of goodies.  Josiah swiped a bracelet, Brianna swiped a pen, I gave the girls the color change pencils the first day we started Germany.  But the coolest thing in the package turned out to be...

...this wall map!  It's actually double sided, with the political map on one side and the physical map on the other.  We used it to locate some of the highlights we learned about in Germany, including the Black Forest, the Berlin Wall, the Elbphilharmonie, Neuschwanstein Castle, a Cold War era listening post, and a Volkswagen plant.  Oh, the former blimp hangar that they turned into a water park.  The girls thought that was pretty cool, too.  

We've also received a package from Australia, so we have something extra to look forward to when we get there.  One of our group members posted the package they got from China recently, so I'm cautiously optimistic about that one, too.  

A friend was having a Thirty One fundraiser, so I bought this bag to turn into a first aid kit for (minivan) Matilda.  I felt like the colors would go nicely with her burgundy paint.  When I cleaned out the big, white van to sell it, I realized my first aid kits were hopelessly outdated.  Old, gross band-aids, expired meds and creams, basically not what I wanted to have in my new car.  I reorganized, purchased some fresh items, and was carrying it all around in a green plastic grocery bag.   

When the bag arrived, I fired up Crikey to make the sticker for it.  Now, when I open the back of the van, instead of thinking, "I need to do something about that," I smile.  

Speaking of Crikey, I forgot to show this card that Brianna made last month.  

This week, I found myself thinking I should make some Christmas cards to send to the adult children in their various far-flung locations.  In Design Space, most of the card ideas had either the new Cricut foil (which looks amazing, but I haven't tried it yet), or metallic or glitter papers or sparkling cardstock, which I don't have.  I finally came up with a design that I have all the supplies for, but I haven't actually cut anything yet.  I'm finding I have a lot more ideas than follow through.  

On the subject of follow through, I did finish up some more masks recently.  There wasn't a big demand for Halloween masks, so I'm stuck with a few outdated left overs.  I've started on Christmas masks, since they're already cut out, but I suspect I'll have the same issue there.  People are tired of masks, and since commercially made masks are available everywhere now, people aren't buying hand made ones any more.  There's a shoe company that was collecting home made masks and giving out generous coupon codes to people who sent them in, so I did turn masks into shoes at one point.  I imagine I'll end up donating some to our local food bank.  

I finished a roll of elastic.  Fortunately, I have plenty of both black and white elastic on hand now.  Crazy the things that we've run short of this year.  

This week, we left Germany for Turkey!  

We used the instructions from Art Projects For Kids to draw mosques.  Hannah's is in colored pencil.  Sorry, I meant to get a better picture of it later, and it slipped my mind.  

We saw mosques, complete with whirling dervishes in a couple of the videos we watched, which was really interesting.  Although the girls like the Nat Geo Kids' Are We There Yet? series videos on YouTube, they're geared toward a younger audience.  The Rick Steves travel episodes are aimed at adults, but pretty easy to follow for the most part.  Probably the most interesting has been the Europe From Above series on Disney +.  In addition to Europe, there are also episodes on India and China, which we're looking forward to watching when we get to those countries.  

I also discovered that we like Turkish music.  In each country that we "visit," I use YouTube to play the national anthem, and then as we're doing other schoolwork, I often have instrumental music from that country playing in the background.  This has given us exposure to a lot of different sounds this year!  

For one of our Turkish snacks, I introduced the girls to pistachios while we watched a documentary about this fascinating country.  We came up with a large binder clip for Hannah to use to pop open the shells on her own.  

Both girls really enjoyed the pistachios.  I've always felt they were more trouble than they were worth, but it was fun to have something different.  

I did stop at the local Indian market to see if they might have Turkish delight or baklava.  Yeah, no.  I knew it was a long shot, but I know sometimes the little markets have more than one theme country.  We'll definitely head back there when we study India!  

As a treat, I splurged on a package of Turkish candy bars from Amazon.  We had fun guessing the ingredients and sampling various flavors.  The dark chocolate with pistachios was really yummy, but had a slightly greasy aftertaste.  I skipped the coconut ones, but there was something for everyone in this box.  

Turkish flag, paper dolls in traditional costume.  

Since there was no Eat 2 Explore box for Turkey, I used a couple recipes out of a library book to make a Turkish meal.  This was so good!  Josiah said it reminded him of the meal we had at the Moroccan/Lebanese restaurant in Hawaii a couple years ago.  It's lentil soup, lamb, and flatbread with sesame seeds, served with cherry juice.  I had seconds, and I saved the recipes.  Totally going to make this again.  

Books, books, and more books.  We go through scads and scads of them.  I'm very grateful our libraries have found ways to keep operating safely.  

One day, I dashed out to pick up some books, including one I was waiting on for a specific school project, and I forgot my phone!  Ack.  Hard to curbside pickup without the ability to text.  

I masked up, dug out my library card, and went to the door.  One of the librarians I've never seen before came and opened it, and I stepped back and explained my predicament.  "What's your last name?" she asked.  I told her.  She immediately knew what my first name was.  I didn't know whether to be proud or embarrassed.  

All the Thanksgiving books for kids are reserved or checked out, so I put some Christmas books on hold.  Hard to believe we're that close!  I need to finish up my shopping and get stuff in the mail.  No "I'll Be Home For Christmas" from any of the adult children this year.  

From a Medieval project book, Katie used metallic markers to create this "illuminated manuscript" version of her name on faux parchment (old resume paper).

Still working on insects in Flying Science.  

I printed a variety of buggy options for them to draw.  

Any Psych fans out there?  This is Jack's favorite show, and since there's a pineapple in every episode, when we were looking at shirts for picture day, this was what he chose.  

2020 face

School pictures were this week, so I took Jack to campus and he jumped in between the preschool and the 3rd/4th grade class.  

After 2 days in Turkey (which felt like not quite enough!) we meandered over to Spain for the last 2 days of the week.

Since we didn't acknowledge Columbus Day this year, studying Spain gave us a good reason to review Columbus and his voyages, since Spain paid for them.  Bendy guy from Famous Figures of the Renaissance.  We discovered bendy guys 4 years ago, and we're still using them!  

We've been to several of the missions along our coast, but we've always viewed them in light of California history.  This time around, we looked at the missions through the lens of "this is something Spain did."  

Self portrait project from one of the French artist books

We're all done with Europe and moving on to Africa!  MFW has us spending 3 weeks in Kenya and then going on to Asia, but we'll be bouncing around other African countries to learn as much as we can about the Dark Continent while we're there.  As an adult, I really notice the disparity between how much white history we teach and are taught, versus how much non-white history we're exposed to.  I think public schools are doing a much better job of evening things up nowadays, but Christian schools and Christian homeschool publishers seem to be late to the game on this issue.  Parenting children of color has made me less dismissive of "political correctness" in this area.  I look forward to learning more about the various countries of Africa alongside Hannah and Katie.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Learning About Germany

Not a whole lot of pictures this week.  My phone keeps telling me there's no room for pictures.  

This was our first week in Germany, which meant lots of books, and travel episodes (the girls like Rick Steves on Amazon Prime), and even a Disney + documentary, the Germany episode of Europe From Above, which was really interesting.

The recommended art project this week was beeswax modeling, which we did not do, since we don't have beeswax.  

Instead, we did the next project on our Home Art Studio DVD, which was Blue Dogs.  

The girls painted theirs, but I did mine in marker.

In regular science, the girls are learning about lakes and ponds, and of course, in Flying Creatures, they're learning about things with wings, so I felt the duck was a good crossover.  

This is Jack's duck, drawn on Hannah's "protect the table from artwork" paper.  

And Hannah & Katie's ducks.  

We got a new printer this week!  So Katie was able to finish up her poster with a map of Europe.

Those are Jack's feet.  He asked if I wanted him to be my table.  

Our local libraries have opened some locations to indoor use, but I'm such a fan of the curbside pickup routine that we're sticking with that.  I feel like they're getting faster at getting the books I request, too, which is nice.  

We have several books from this series, which we were introduced to way back when as a review.  It's been fun to pull them out for the various countries we've been learning about.  I even added a few new ones to our collection.  

 You may have noticed the castle books in the book pile pictures.  Neuschwanstein castle in Germany was the inspiration for Walt Disney's iconic castle.  We read about castles this week, and our curriculum suggested drawing a castle.  Fortunately, the Art Projects For Kids website, which I've been relying on heavily this year, had step by step castle instructions.  

Although we have another week in Germany, we're pretty close to being done with the actuall stuff about Germany.  I'm planning "day trips" to 2 other countries this week, before we head off to a new continent.