Sunday, February 29, 2004

We hung out for a while Saturday morning, relaxing together. Then we went to an unschooler's party for the afternoon. The kids had a really great time playing with everyone, and I enjoyed hanging out and talking with other unschoolers. Dh did an admirable job for the first hour and half, so I granted him a repreive *g* and he went shopping at Best Buy for a new tv. So, even he ended up having an okay day. We watched Finding Nemo on the new tv when we got home. The color and definition are just amazing!

Sunday was a relaxing day at home. We were going to head into the city, but it was so beautiful out, that we decided to hang around at home enjoying the beautiful weather. We built 3 birdhouses, which have a 1 1/4" hole to accomodate either chickadees or house wrens. The kids helped me measure, drill and nail them together--dh and I used the circular saw by ourselves. But the kids did a great job with the hammer, and they were really excited to be learning to use tools. We're going to paint the houses this week and hopefully get them out next weekend.

Dh went for a nice bike ride, and the kids rode their bikes for a little while. They played on the climber and the swings, practiced batting and roller skating, climbed on the log piles, played soccer--generally just enjoyed being outside and even went barefoot for a while! Beautiful weekend! At one point, Emily went inside and got water cups for everyone (our neighbors were visiting). She counted them all out, filled them and put them on the tray--she just needed my help to carry them out. What a thoughtful hostess!

Friday, February 27, 2004

We had a very busy day again! We were up and out early this morning for a homeschool ice skate. The kids did a great job and had lots of fun. Emily and Julia both skated on their own for a little while.

After skating, we went to the park for a little while where we saw a bunch of canadian geese at the pond. We played for a while before the kids got hungry and chilly.

Dh arrived home shortly after we did, so we got to spend the afternoon with him-- a special treat! He came to karate class with us and saw the girls test for their yellow belts, which they both earned! We went out to Ruby Tuesday's to celebrate, and came home to end a very busy day!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Another lego morning! Sam and Julia's art classes were cancelled this morning, so we hung out at home for a while. They played with legos for a while--Julia reconstructed her building. Emily slept in till almost 11 am! Apparently, she was up with her father at around 5:30 (he had to leave early for a review panel he's on) and couldn't get back to sleep. Julia and Sam painted for a little while.

This afternoon we went to a homeschoolers game day at the library. The kids played board games for a couple of hours with some friends, and they met a new friend, too. They had fun hanging out with everyone, and even Sam played a couple of games.

We hit the grocery store afterwards and restocked. We weighed apples, onions, potatoes and bananas. Came home and watched Kim Possible, ate dinner, played Ages of Empires, looked at some more Egyptian mythology and researched Atum (the primeval god of the setting sun) and watched Survivor. Julia was tired and went to bed around 8, but Sam and Emily stayed up for a while playing downstairs and watching the new Rescue Heroes movie.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

No games this morning--got to just chill out with my cappuccino in front of my email. That was nice! The girls were building with legos on the kitchen table when I got up, and they were still at it when by the time Sam woke up sometime after 9:00. They all played for at least another hour when I made second breakfast. Julia has had this amazing structure going for several weeks now. She filled in one of the 1' x 1' tiles completely with legos, and then began building walls. It was very cool, but, unfortunately, it broke apart this afternoon. She took it in stride though, so I guess she was mostly done with it.

Emily played some more of her chess program today--she really likes it! Sam and Julia finished Lilo & Stitch , which they had been watching last night when it just got too late for everyone. I'm healthy and had a moment to myself--how cool is that? I actually got a chance to try out my new pilates video. I'm hoping that I'll enjoy the tapes, get stronger and more fit.

We took the puppy to the park today and hung out there for a while. The weather was beautiful--way too nice to stay inside! I threw the ball while the kids played on the climbers. When Boo was finally tired of fetch, I played monster tag with the kids. I had Boo on the lead running around with me, so she got a really great workout. At one point, she actually climbed up the fake rock wall--it was too funny. I had visions of the two of us running in one of those dog obstacle course competitions. *lol* When we got home we snuggled on the couch in the last of the sunshine and read about 60+ pages of The Secrets of Droon 3. Em really loves the stories. Julia likes them, too, and even Sam listened for a while today.

Once my voice gave out, the girls spent some time making up a play. Sam was fooling around with the chess program and ended up side-tracking Emily from the play for help. So, I never got to see what the girls were working on. All the dress up stuff was on the floor, so I imagine it was something good! *g* Maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Much more low-key day today. It was rainy and gray--good for staying home and recharging.

The kids played around this morning while I worked on carving our letterboxing stamp, which came out pretty good considering it was my first shot. It took a while to carve, but the kids enjoyed playing and checking on my progress every so often. They all took turns stamping it in a different color ink when it was done. I offered to carve a stamp for each of them if they choose an idea that we can design it around.

Sam and I played with the castle toys for a while this morning, and soon the girls joined us. They also watched Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost, which talks all about the Wiccan religion and has cool connections to our visit this December to the Salem Witch Museum. During the day, Sam decided to play mountain climber on the stairs with the dog's leash. He figured out how to tie it to the banister, clip it to the back of his pants and slide down the steps. Too funny! We definitely have to get back out rock climbing this spring! At one point, the kids all put their raincoats on and went outside to collect rocks. I'm not sure exactly what they were using them for, but apparently they needed more. *g* Maybe they just wanted to be out in the rain, which is a good thing, too.

Some new games that we ordered arrived in the mail this afternoon, one of which was some new chess software for the kids. Emily disappeared for a while, and the next thing I knew, she had installed it on their computer downstairs and was already playing it. Go figure! She decided a while ago that she wanted to learn how to play chess. She has seen dh and I play, found out a friend of hers plays and has seen Harry Potter playing it, so it seems like a cool thing to do. I showed her the basic moves and have played with her several times. Dh found an online game to download for her, but it's really too advanced. So, he did some research and found a great kids program Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster. Emily's been playing all evening, so she sure seems to like it. It's neat because it breaks the game down into several smaller games, showing how to move individual pieces and play them effectively. I'm thinking I should try it--it might help improve my game!

Julia and I played Settlers of Catan, and Sam joined us to make some chocolate chip cookies. Emily was, of course, busy downstairs playing chess on the computer! She's down there again now, showing her father all the stuff she's figured out. Sam and Julia are in our bedroom watching a DVD. Another good day!

Monday, February 23, 2004

Another Uno day! We played Uno this morning, which besides being fun also reinforces multiplication and addition, turn taking, counting, color and number recognition for the littler ones.

Later, the girls pulled out some magnetic numbers, letters and shapes. Emily re-told a story that we had borrowed from the library called Three Wise Women, a retelling of the three wise men. Emily used geometric shapes to make the manger with the star above it, the people and the baby. It was really neat, and I was amazed at how much she absorbed from the discussions we've had on religion, considering that we don't practice ourselves.

After storytelling, Emily began playing around with the numbers and asking a bunch of questions, so we just started playing around together. She was making equations, so we were talking about plus, minus, times and equals and what their symbols look like. We were doing simple equations when she asked why letters weren't part of the equations, which brought us to x as a symbol for times and x as a variable. We looked at simple algebraic equations and talked about why we'd need to solve an equation where the numbers weren't all known. I related it to last Spring when we were building the shed--how to figure out how many left-over pieces of wood could come together to make a whole piece, things like that. Then we started making the biggest numbers we could, and I would read them out. We went over all the different places up to the millions, talking about how commas separate every three numbers and each set has the same pattern from ones to tens to hundreds, making it easy to remember how to read them. We also talked about how the "and" in a number really means the decimal point like you see in prices. So if someone heard the number "Five hundred and thirty," it would really represent 500.30, like $500 dollars and 30 cents, instead of 530. Lots of concepts from just playing around with some magnetic numbers!

Then we started playing with the letters, and Emiy wanted to use them to make a story. So, we were trying to make simple sentences, which was really tricky because there was only one a, e, o and u--don't know what happened to the i. We came up with things like "The man works." and "We go up." Letter and word play just for fun!

Around noon, we all got ready to go to Emily's drama class, which she absolutely loves! Julia, Sam and I went to the craft store while Em was in class, and we got the materials we needed to make our letterboxing stamp. I'm excited to try to carve it tomorrow. Maybe this weekend, we'll head over to St. Mary's City and try to find the box down there. We got back to Em's class in time to see the final show for the "audience"--another scene in the Rumplestilskin story that they're acting out. It's so great to see them all having so much fun. The teacher just started homeschooling her daughter, and they've made most of the costumes and props themselves. All in all, a pretty terrific atmosphere.

After class, we met up with some new friends for a playdate, who are the same ages as Em, Julia and Sam. We played in their backyard for a while--soccer, hide and seek, superheroes. The kids had a really fun time and enjoyed getting to know some new friends even better. We're hoping to get together on a more regular basis--it'll be nice to have some more friends our ages.

When we finally got home around 5:00, Sam helped me make some pizza dough. He loves measuring out all the ingredients! The kids and dh made pizza while I left for my Mom's Night Out with other homeschooling moms. It was another fun, busy day! Looking forward to some down time tomorrow to play on the computer and try out my stamp-making skills.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Another Uno morning! Julia is quite fond of games; she begins asking the moment we wake up. She's given up on me because I keep telling her that I need my cappuccino first. LOL Now, she accosts me with, "After your cappuccino, can we play..."

I had a very productive day--lots of spring cleaning. It felt so good to have the windows open and get the floors clean! The kids helped clean up their room and playroom, so I could vacuum. I decided to organize the kids Top Secret Agent puzzles today, which took a couple of hours. I asked the girls if they were interested in doing the puzzles with me, but they were busy playing dolls in their bedroom. I worked at them by myself for a while, then dh--who had been installing a new OS on the kids' computer--decided to join me. Then the girls showed up to help, and Sam sat and visited. We were all working puzzles for close to an hour, munching on pretzels and talking. Then the kids went outside to ride their skooters, and dh played Majesty on the computer while I finished up.

Today was a great unschooling day. We were all doing our own thing but ended up coming together and connecting over a bunch of puzzles. Top Secret Agent revolves around a different country each month. The kids explore another culture while trying to solve a mystery--kind of along the lines of Carmen SanDiego. We talked a bit about the different countries whose puzzles we were doing. It was all very low key, but fun. A good family day with a dash of geography.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

By the time I woke up today, dh was playing Uno with Julia and Sam at the kitchen table. We had a liesurely morning, made brunch and then went outside. Julia stayed inside to work on a Super Heroes book she was making. She colored pages from a coloring book and cut them out, then combined them into her own book that we stapled. She really likes making her own books this way.

We spent most of the afternoon playing and working in the yard. Emily and Sam helped dh finish painting the shed we built--it still needs one more coat of paint. Then dh took down a couple of scrub trees at the borders of the yard. Once they were down, the kids and I helped clean up the branches as dh began cutting the trunk down to burnable size logs to be chopped and seasoned. We cleaned up a bunch of sticks and leaves still left all around the shed and the pond. We got a lot of spring clean-up done, which felt great; all the while Sam and Emily were alternately helping or playing with the tetherball, rings and swings. Julia came out to play for a while after she finished her book.

The weather was so beautiful; it was glorious just to be outside. I sat down by the pond for a while, just enjoying the sound of the waterfall. Looks like we have at least 7 out of 10 fish. I know one died, but I don't know about the other two. Haven't found them yet. We bought 4 koi last year, all of which survived, but all the other fish were either original from when we moved in 2.5 years ago or their spawn. Not too bad! The pond was really iced up this winter. I kept air holes open, and the upper waterfall continued to flow, so I know the fish had plenty of oxygen. I'll see if I can link to a picture here. The string algae is getting bad with all the leaves off the trees; we need to check the ph levels tomorrow.

Once dh was all done with the trees, he took out Sam's remote control monster truck. Sam had a blast driving it around the yard while the puppy chased it and barked. Loads of fun for everyone to watch and play! The puppy gets some great exercise chasing the truck all around the yard, and Sam thinks it's the coolest thing in the world. He likes being in control! *g*

As the sun started going down, the temperatures began to fall. We went back inside for a late lunch after a nice shower. I pulled out some nice cheeses and crackers; dh put on some music and popped open a nice bottle of wine. We all enjoyed a great spread, sitting in the living room and basking in the last of the day's sun. We talked about all kinds of things, but one of the most interesting conversations is what everyone would do if they had lots of money. The girls both said that when they made lots of money they would share it with the rest of us so we could all do fun things together. I fantasized about being able to visit all the different places we read about. How cool would it be to bop off to visit a real medieval castle or check out the Great Pyramids of Giza? While I don't go in much for materialism, that would be pretty cool!

So, now I'll breathe a sigh of contentment and say goodnight.

Friday, February 20, 2004

An Imagination Day
Today's been a pretty low-key day. The kids have watched Lion King 1 1/2 off and on throughout the day, but mostly they've just been hanging out and playing. They were building different kinds of houses with their toys--tree house, regular house and playing with their figures. They played outside a bit with the puppy, pretending to be on a hike best I could tell.

Now, the girls are back outside with their older schooled friend from next door. It's so nice to see all the neighbors again now that the weather is getting nicer! Ahhh! I love the longer days and warmer weather--it makes me happy just to be alive!

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Arts Alive!
We had a great art day today. We got a fun pack of crayola paints with 8 different colors in it. The kids spread out on the kitchen table and painted for a long time. We pulled out a bunch of our World's Greatest Artists books and looked at all the different paintings. We read a bit about each artist--the kids really enjoy this series. The artwork is interspersed with silly cartoons that make the books enjoyable. We read about and looked at some paintings by Monet, Matisse, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Pollock, Clee and Kahlo. It's neat to look at the different styles while the kids are actually creating for themselves. We talked about brush strokes, lines and color and how they can change the look and feel of paintings.

We have paintings all over the house now! The grandparents are going to get a nice batch in the mail soon!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

This is a new adventure for us in technology. We're hoping to have fun and keep up with the cool stuff going on in the virtual world.

We've had a tremendous week so far. If I could figure out how to retro-post, I would separate this out into days. But, as it is, you're getting it all in one lump.

Feeling Froggy
Our pond finally defrosted, so we checked on our fish. We still have all our koi, but we found a dead frog in the bottom. I fished him out and brought him inside, where we were able to dissect him despite the dull kitchen knife. In retrospect, a razor blade would have been a good idea. (Will remember that for next time!) We were able to see the muscle tissue and cut that back to the organs. We found the heart, the 3-chambered liver, the gall blader and the intestines. We then went online to find out more about what we were seeing at one of the several virtual dissection sites: here's the one we checked out.

Where's my mummy?
We caught a history channel special on pyramids and have been delving into that the past couple of days. I rented the WB cartoon The Mummy: Search for the Lost Scrolls, which the kids have been watching over and over. Emily and I have been reading through books on mummies and Egyptian mythology, trying to sort through the different gods and goddesses. We've looked through some amazing books, compared different images from The Book of the Dead, interpreted maps and learned about Egyptian life in the past and present. This has been really interesting for all of us, and I'm excited to see where this journey will lead since it's already spurred discussions on architecture, physics, comparative religion and ethics.

We began our letterboxing adventures this past weekend at a local park. We enjoyed a two mile hike to Calvert Cliffs where we hunted for fossils along the beach--for about 5 minutes because it was so cold! But we found our first letterbox, which was exciting for all of us. I finished designing our family stamp today and hope to get to the hobby store this weekend to buy the materials I need to carve it. Then we'll be set for our next adventure! You can check out more about letterboxing at Letterboxing North America.