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, December 7, 2020

Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We left off with Thanksgiving, and I didn't get a chance to blog over the weekend, so it seems like this was a long time ago, but here goes.  

Traditional day after Thanksgiving meal:  Turkey Enchilada Casserole.  Some of us look forward to this more than the T-day meal.  Literally tortillas, turkey, sauce, cheese, and olives.  Quick and easy.  I serve it with dollop of sour cream.

Earlier in the year, I had the girls copy a few poems, but we got out of the habit.  I started rattling off Tolkein's "The Road Goes Ever On & On" because of something that came up in conversation, and was reminded that we hadn't copied a poem for a while, so I got a book of African poems for them.  

Although we're supposed to be learning about Kenya for 3 weeks, there's not all that much actual learning about Kenya, so I'm adding additional African countries and themes.  Really feeling how Eurocentric history learning is, and wanting to give the girls a better understanding of Africa than what I grew up with.  

I went poking around in our library account and discovered that we were about to hit a milestone.

Our Christmas tree is up.  Katie had requested we put it up the day after Thanksgiving, so Friday morning, Paul brought it in and assembled it.  Of course, we heard, "Grumman!  Get out of the tree!" within an hour.  I'm kind of surprised he hasn't knocked it over yet this year.  

Last bug pictures from the guides I printed out for them.  Learning about termites is not nearly as interesting to me as learning about birds.  

I found a packet of animal report forms online, so the girls are researching various kinds of animals from library books.  

We reviewed these Global Kids cards earlier this year (pre-COVID, seems like a lifetime ago).  This week, I pulled out the Africa cards, and we made... 

Jollof rice from Ghana!  It was perfect, because I already had leftover rice in the fridge when I saw the recipe.  I decided to add diced chicken to it, and we had it for lunch one day.  It was actually quite tasty.  Another "I should make this again" experiment.  

I love having adult children.  Because all the years I made these pretzel/Hershey kiss/M&M treats have finally paid off, and this year, Josiah made them.  

I guess I'm just not a kitchen person, really.  There was a discussion amongst adoptive mamas on Facebook asking, "What's your favorite holiday cookie recipe?"  Dude, that would be Pillsbury slice & bake, with sprinkles applied by the 10 year old.  All the better if Josiah does the slicing and baking.  He and Katie like to bake together.  In fact, they made a cake last night.  I'll have to try to remember to get a picture.  

Nailed it!  Last month, I pulled out the advent calendar, stuffed it full of Halloween candy, and put it back in the garage.  I'm silly proud of myself, and I wonder why I didn't think of this years ago.  

So, Paul assembled and put lights on the tree Friday, and then went to work for a couple of days.  Over the weekend, I opened up a couple totes of ornaments and told the girls to "Go for it" and they decorated the tree.  

Lazy parenting seems to be a recurring theme for me these days.  Somewhere between "way too strict" in the early years, and "whatever, just don't set the house on fire" now, I'm sure I was the perfect mom for about a week.  I just wish I'd known it at the time.  

Have you ever played Mancala?  Did you know it comes from Africa?

Our curriculum suggests making the game from an egg carton, but we Amazon-ed it instead.  

And here's that milestone.  One of these was our 500th library item checked out in 2020.  I've read 50 books this year, which means Hannah and Katie have read a crazy number of books this year.  I'm really glad they're voracious readers, probably in part because they have very little screen time.  

There's a geography "game" built into our curriculum, but I like to change things up once in a while, so we used the Africa Geocards for drill this week.  Plus, this gives them exposure to the capitals.  

Ah, more evidence of the season of joy.  He looks joyful, right?  

Maybe not.  

I removed the scarf, and he promptly tossed it on the floor and glared at it.  

Ah, problem solving, you elusive skill, you.  The girls' flying science notebook instructed them to make a pocket by gluing the sides and bottom onto this page.  I was disheartened at how difficult this proved to be for them.  (Interestingly, this was a serious challenge for both girls.  I wonder what disconnect in the brain caused this?  What missing early life experience could have changed this for them?)  

I let them flounder try for a while, and after 4 full sheets of paper were destroyed, they each managed to make a pocket.  Then I talked them through two ways this could be done.  The bee paper was leftover from drawing instructions, so I used it to make a pocket in the other way so they could see what I meant by folding the bottom and sides before gluing onto the page.  The ladybug is a leftover scrap I used to show it's pocketiness.  

We're marching through our Health books.  (It's a 6th grade book that I happened to have 2 copies of from when the big kids were homeschooling, and it's a fairly good fit for my 5th and 8th graders.)  As I lesson plan on the weekends, I look at what they'll be reading about each day.  Sometimes I'm able to relate a story to their lesson, like when the book covered treating burns, and I was able to talk about the time that Zach was hospitalized for burns from fireworks.  Sometimes I find a related worksheet, like this cut & paste about bones that I downloaded from Twinkl.  (I'm really liking their site lately!)  

Not Africa related, but since the chicken noodle soup I made the week before went over so well, I did a beef version this week, which was also well received.  It's been soup weather here.  We had wonton soup one night, too.  

While we were watching a video, I used acrylic paint markers (in the colors found on African flags) to write African countries on black art paper.  Later, I used Crikey to cut the shape of Africa from blue cardstock.  I hung my semi artsy little poster in the school room.  

Since we've checked out a few DVDs this year, too, I feel confident saying after another couple bags of books that we've reached 500 books at this point.  

We've hit the bee section in flying science.  I'm a little sad, because I know someone who started beekeeping recently, and we'd planned to visit and have him show his hives and explain things to the girls, but they're recovering from COVID.  The Ms. Frizzle in me feels guilty for not going down the rabbit hole of having the girls use beeswax crayons, and modeling beeswax, and a beeswax lip gloss kit (hmm, that might be a good Christmas idea), and tasting a variety of honey sticks.  Sometimes my imagination outstrips my energy level.  And my allowance for December is focused on Christmas instead of homeschool.  Especially this year, since I'll have to ship all the adult children's gifts.  Which I really need to get done soon.  Ack.  

All that stream of consciousness chatter to say, bee drawings, following instructions from Art Projects For Kids again.  Katie's markers seem to fizzle out after a bit, but they're not actually dead, because they work for a while again the next time she uses them.  Frustrating.  

When the girls ask Paul, "Can we play Wii?" in the evenings he says yes.  When they ask me, I say, "Have you done a project today?"  The projects aren't assigned, and I haven't been recording them in my homeschool binder.  But we usually have at least a couple library books with projects in them.  This is my sneaky way of working on those problem solving skills.  

This project about military ranks was from a WW2 book.  

In hindsight, I wish I hadn't handed over 9x12" sheets of felt for them to make a 4X4" item.  Katie hasn't learned the fine art of using a corner instead of cutting from the center, and I was less than gracious when I discovered that the red sheet of felt I purchased for us to make gnomes was now tiny scraps of red felt everywhere.  

I felt like a 2 week break from school would be too much unstructured time for us, but I talked with the girls about taking 1 week off and just doing art & Christmas type stuff.  They were in favor of having a week off of math, as long as we keep getting library books for quiet time.  I'm looking forward to turning my 6:30 a.m. alarm off for a week.  We'll finish up Kenya/Africa this week, and start Saudi Arabia the following week before going on break.  It feels weird to have the break in the middle of a country instead of between countries, but that's how it worked out, so I'll get over it.  My hope is to do some review of the countries we've already learned about, as we do crafts from around the world, but we'll see what actually happens.  I need to remind myself that I don't have to do anything educational during a break, and odds are, they'll still learn things.  


  1. I want to come to school at your house.

    I think you're parenting just right in every post I read about you. :)


    You guys do so much cool stuff!!!!!!!!

    And, yes, I'm reminding myself, too, that they're still learning things.

    1. Thank you. I guess most good moms feel like they're messing up at least some of the time.