Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A gloomy day spent paying bills and switching over to spring clothes. *sigh* The kids had a ball yanking all the clothes out of the bins. It was like going shopping and getting a whole new wardrobe. "Oooh" and "ahhh" and "it's adorable!"

We did all kinds of math in our heads today, adding hundreds and thousands, multiplying, playing around with the math tricks from School House Rock. Em is so good with numbers and really has fun playing around with the different concepts.

Julia and I played Settlers of Catan while Sam and Em played the computer downstairs. Later the kids put together a theater in Sam's room. They drew pictures for the play, which took place under the loft--complete with a huge blanket as a curtain. Sam was the acrobat, which consisted of clipping the dog's leash to his pants and jumping off the top of the loft in dramatic poses. He's very fond of the dog leashes, and he often uses them to mountain climb the steps. *lol* We need to get him on the rocks!

Em played Ages of Empires with her father last night, reenacting one of Caesar's battles--not sure which one. They read some books with dh for a while then played together in the girls' room until Justice League came on. Julia decided she was too tired to stay up to watch, so she went to bed, knowing that she could watch it in the morning on video tape.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Long day today. Emily had her last drama class, and she was so sad to see it end. She really enjoyed herself!

We went to the library to renew some books and found some cool new ones. We read several books when we got home, one of the coolest was Millions to Measure! that talked all about different measurements and their history, the metric system, the English system, etc. Emily was fascinated by it, and we both agreed that the metric system would be so much easier!

Sunday, March 28, 2004

We got a lot of the climber built this weekend, but the railings still aren't up. The kids can't wait until they can play on it!

The kids played lots of UNO with grampa this weekend, and played a lot outside with our neighbor. I think all the kids in the neighborhood are waiting for the climber to be done!

Sunday the kids helped me pick out some plants and get them planted. Sam helped me shovel and water them in--he's lots of help. I still need about 5 more yards of mulch to finish all the gardens.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Hung out and spread mulch this week--15 yards and still not enough!

The kids have been having a great time playing outside on the climber, spraying each other with the hose, climbing on the mulch pile, you name it. They've played everything from Spiderman to spaceship. They've also really enjoyed playing with the kids in the neighborhood so much now that the weather is getting nicer. It's so wonderful when everyone starts coming out of their houses again!

Wednesday, Sam helped his dad build the triangle supports for the tree fort, and dh showed Emily how he figured out the dimensions by using the pythagorean thereom--pretty cool!

We've been reading about Mark Twain, the feature of this month's Discovery Kids Magazine, and we're going to start Tom Sawyer this weekend. Lately, it's just been so nice that we spend all our time outside, and then we're beat by the time we come in at night.

Emily and Julia are really into American Idol , so we've been watching that at night. I think Em's really enjoying watching everything that goes into stage performance, which is really her dream right now. Next year, she'll be old enough to start participating in some of the local theater companies.

Monday, March 22, 2004

We were out and about most of the day today. Em had her drama class, and the kids wanted to go shopping to spend some money they had been saving. The girls went to Build-a-Bear and Sam went to Target for some Rescue Heroes. He was able to get Smokey the fiire dalmation, which he really wanted.

Later in the afternoon, two neighborhood girls came over to play for a while.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

We got part of the climber built this Saturday, and the kids had so much fun playing on it after dh modified it a bit. Sam was a huge help in building it, working hard to bring his daddy tools though he really wanted to be all grown up and do big person work. After the climber was finished for the day, our neighbor came over to play. The kids played outside till after dark. We turned on the motion light and they played on the mulch pile, having a terrific time. I think we're all longing for the long, lazy days of summer.

Sunday I spent outside weeding and spreading mulch, and the kids played with our neighbor again. Her mom was not pleased when I said she needed to homeschool. *eg* Her older brother is being homeschooled now because of problems in school, so the girls and I are lobbying for her to stay home too.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Another relaxed low-key day. No snow, but some rain early in the morning.

We had 15 yards of ground hardwood mulch delivered today, and the kids had a ball watching the truck dump it and then climbing on the mountain. They spent a long time outside just playing in the mulch, then came in and took a long tub. Boy were they messy!

Dh came home from work early, and we had fun just hanging out and playing. After making pizza for dinner, I made popcorn, and we watched Star Wars A New Hope. It was so much fun to watch with the kids since dh and I are *huge* Star Wars fans and this is the first time the kids have watched the Star Wars we grew up with.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

We ended up not driving up to our art classes today--I think the 45 minute drive twice a week is getting to be too much for all of us. We need to figure out how to find meet our needs closer to home next year.

The kids have been doing lots of art here at home lately--probably because we got such cool supplies from The Art Store.

We watched Barbarians: Battle for Rome tonight and learned all about the Cambrians, Goths and Huns. It was really cool to see a forensic scientist do a facial reconstruction from a 2000+ year old skull based on statistical averages and bone contour. The most amazing thing was that historians/ archaeologists believe that the Huns were such formidable warriors that they could shoot an arrow from a full gallop every 2 seconds with incredible accuracy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Gosh, another dreary, dreary day. I worked on my webpage for much of the day. The kids watched the Disney chennel in the morning again. Julia did some painting with the new tempera paints, and the kids all played with some Crayola modeling compound. We read a couple chapters from Secrets of Droon and just kinda hung out for most of the day.

It cleared up enough for Emily and Sam to play outside in the late afternoon; then they came in for a hot tub before dinner. Sam took another super-late nap from about 6 to 8 pm--not ideal. Emily played Ages of Empire for a while before playing UNO with dh and Julia.

We watched Survivor and the Discovery Channel's special on Antony and Cleopatra and the Battle of Actium.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

What a dreary, cold, rainy day--felt like the kids from Cat in the Hat. Julia, Sam and I spent a while playing the Kindergarten Brain Quest fan quiz. The questions are unbelievably silly, but Julia enjoys doing them. Go figure...

The kids watched the Disney channel most of the morning, and I did some research on climber accessories and tree houses. I showed the kids how I was doing comparison shopping and trying to figure out the total cost of accessories and get the lowest price. Then we talked about the engineering problems with the tree fort part of the climber--how to support the entire structure with the fewest number of bolts possible. We discussed the different kinds of forces that will be exerted on the tree fort from above as well as below, since it will double as a frame for a climbing wall. When dh got home, they watched us hash over the different options, decide on the best solution and calculate the necessary materials.

The kids played with playdough much of the afternoon--we pulled out some new colors, which is always a treat. The girls worked on making models of our solar system, which came out really cool. Em was a bit frustrated though because she couldn't represent the rings around Uranus and Neptune without them looking like Saturn--there's just no way to make a subtle ring with playdough. She even made some of the moons for the planets, and her earth was complete with continents and weather over top of them. Some of the weather was just white clouds, but apparently there was a pretty bad storm represented in gray.

Sam and Em finally bundled up and went out in the rain for a little while, then came in and took a nice hot tub.

Tonight, Em played Ages of Empires for a little while until American Idol came on; then we watched part of the Discovery Channel's 7 Wonders of Ancient Rome. Afterwards, we read a bunch out of the DK book on ancient civilizations, looking up all the different civilizations from Ages of Empires, which lead to reading from the comparative mythology book. The Persian empire showed a picture of a gold arm band with twin griffins, which Emily recognized from myth. So, she jumped up and grabbed that book, and we read several creation myths: Norse, Chinese and Egyptian. Then it was Justice League and off to bed.

Monday, March 15, 2004

The kids all wanted to watch Secret of NIMH this morning when they woke up, and afterwards Sam played around with Julia's quill while the girls played.

Emily had her drama class today. They began work on a new book Roxaboxen, and all the kids seemed to have fun. They all set up different pretend stores, and Emily chose to sell baskets and ice cream. Apparently, she sold all her baskets right away because everyone needed baskets to hold things in their own stores--pretty savvy.

Sam fell asleep on the ride home, and the girls spent more quiet time playing. When Sam woke up, we all went outside--it was a beautiful day! The kids rode their skooters in the culdesac with two neighborhood girls and played tag--they were very sad when it was time to come in for dinner, but it was getting dark. Everyone's ready for the long summer days!

After dinner, Em spent some time designing costumes for a play here at home. We're thinking about trying to do basically the same thing she's doing in class now: read a book, make the props and costumes and act it out. She's enjoying drama so much, and there are only 3 more weeks. If it goes well, maybe we'll see if we can get more folks involved and take the show on the road to one of the local nursing homes. We haven't been since November.

We watched a short video Life in the Middle Ages that introduced Charlemagne, the Crusades and the Black Death. The kids had picked it up at the library and it was due back, but it was a bit lame. Short, condensed, kitchy--definitely designed to be shown during a single class and keep school kids' attention. Wouldn't recommend it--many of the other documentaries are much better.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

We had a working weekend, trying to get ready to build a climber for the kids. We cleared out some of the land behind the pond--took it back at least 10 feet into the woods. We were also able to dismantle the neighbor's wooden climber, which we're going to use as the base tower and recycle some of the lumber.

The kids and I have been designing the climber for a couple of months now, but this weekend we began doing some hard design work--measuring, lay-out, lumber and angle calculation. We're going to build a climbing wall on the underside of the climber, which ought to be really cool but is kinda tricky to figure out. We've been sketching things out, and Sunday put everything to scale on graph paper. Then dh and the kids made a 3-D model out of paper and straws to figure out how the walls will overhang underneath the tree fort.

We were outside all weekend long, and it was great! My mini irises are blooming down by the pond, and everything is starting to green up. We did have some fun time inside, too, though. Julia spent some time writing with her quill and learning to make envelopes. She and I opened up an envelope to use as a pattern, and she traced, cut and folded her own envelopes to send notes, pictures and gems to her siblings.

Sunday night, we all crashed in bed and watched Scooby-Doo, then The Secret of NIMH. Julia fell asleep and Sam and dh got bored, but Em and I ended up watching The Colosseum and True Gladiator on The Discovery Channel. They were really interesting reenactments of a gladiator's life, showing the different styles of battle and training. The second show used forensic evidence found in bones from a mass gladiator grave outside Turkey to piece together information about gladiator life--death wounds, medical care, diet. It was really interesting!

Friday, March 12, 2004

We went to La Leche League meeting this morning but unfortunately none of the other kids was there, so Em was really disappointed. It was a pretty low key meeting, so that worked in our favor. Afterwards the leaders talked about when we could get together to begin my leader application, which will hopefully happen soon. It's great to be involved and give something back by helping other nursing mothers try to figure things out.

Afternoon was pretty relaxing. Sam took some quiet time, and the girls and I played outside. I miss the warmer weather we were having! Emily and Julia spent some time writing cards for their friends. We got some generic cards in the mail from one of the charities, so I gave them to the girls. They made cards to send in the mail and took some over to our neighbors. Emily wanted to put some of her own money in them, but I suggested that she find something else special. The girls chose to include a plastic gem in the envelopes instead--a pretty good compromise. I need to see if I can pick up some bulk cards for them to have.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Sam and Julia had art class this morning, so we were out and about. Sam didn't really want to take his class this morning unless we were in the room, so all the kids got to go in and make play dough. Before we all went in, Emily was playing around with numbers on the calculator, performing different functions and having fun.

The girls played outside most of the afternoon, while Sammy and I laid down for a nap. He seems to be feeling better with an afternoon nap, though he still would rather stay up and play. The nice thing is that with a nap, he can stay up later with the girls and spend more time with dh. Once he really gets that, I think he'll be more on board. Right now, of course, he wants to be able to do it all, and it's frustrating that he can't--not without taking it out on us, anyway. After he fell asleep, I went out front to sit in the sunshine and be with the girls for a while, though they stayed out longer than I did. It gets chilly once that sun starts going down.

This evening the kids watched Joseph and the King of Dreams, which we borrowed from the library. Afterwards, we looked up the stories about Joseph in the DK Bible and talked a bit about them and how the two representations differed. I'm going to try to find a copy of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat--the girls should love that!

We watched Survivor together and talked a lot about interpersonal dynamics--what makes some people get along, why some people don't fit in. Some very interesting conversations come out of that show! The kids played for a while, and then we caught Justice League again. We're going to have to start taping the episodes because they are all totally into them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The kids got two more layers of paint on their bird houses today, and I think they're all finally done. Emily painted a cardinal on the side of hers that looks really cool. The colors in Sam's are amazing, and Julia has a cool color block thing going on. They had as much fun in the tub after painting as they did painting, I think.

After the tub, we all snuggled up on the couch and read a Scooby-Doo chapter book about a Karate Creature. We read the whole book together, and I thought I was going to lose my voice! Sam took a nice, long nap after the book, and the girls had the chance to play an elaborate imaginative game without interruption. When Sam woke up, they all had "meetings" in his room and put on a play for dh and I.

Sam and Em played Curious George and Sim Town on the computer this evening, and then we accidentally found out that The Justice League is on Cartoon Network at 10:30 pm. So we all watched that together before going to sleep. Em played Curious George for a little while after the cartoon, but then decided she was ready for bed, too.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Julia and Sam played UNO when they woke up. It was interesting to watch them negotiate the rules!

We got a coat of primer on the birdhouses this morning, so the kids can paint them. I also cleaned and primed some of the outdoor furniture. Mundane but productive.

After lunch we met some friends at the dog beach to play and look for fossils in the cliffs. The dogs had a blast playing in the water together, and the kids had fun exploring. We didn't find any fossils, but it was a fun day outside. Sam was ready to burrow into the cliff--or maybe he was constructing a cliff dwelling. *g* The kids and the puppy jumped in a warm shower when we got home, and I think we brought home more sand than we left. A welcome sign of summer! Everyone got warm and clean and snuggled in bed for a Scooby-Doo DVD.

We had some more outside time and brought the bird houses in to paint. The kids were more interested in painting than in eating dinner, so we busted out the acrylics. They painted for a good hour while dh and I slowly got dinner ready. They did some really neat stuff on the bird houses and plan to do more tomorrow. With a late dinner and lots of fresh air, everyone was in bed early!

Monday, March 08, 2004

We relaxed this morning and did some watercolors. Julia was working on her flowers, and I was trying to do some frogs. When Em woke up the kids spent the morning in imaginative play.

Emily had her drama class today, and they acted out the entire story of Rumplestilskin. It was a riot! Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera, but I'll be sure to bring it for the next story--Roxaboxen. Emily got to be the queen again for a portion of the story. She just *loves* having an audience! She chose the spot closest to the audience during the wedding dance so everyone could see her. She's really in her element!

When we got back home, the kids played outside until their father got home. They were playing with puppy, but mostly they were playing with their new toys under the deck. They really love that space! We're thinking about building a climber down by the pond, but I'm not sure that they'll be any happier with that than they already are with the bottom deck. But, we're getting the climber from our neighbors, and we're going to attach it to a tree to build a treehouse. I think that'll be pretty cool, and it'll be lots of fun to build.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

We had a super weekend! Dh's parents were down, so the kids got lots of adventure time. After a few squall storms on Saturday blew through, the weather was beautiful. We ate a late lunch/ early dinner outside both days.

Grampa brought down a climbing rope, with a bottom platform. The kids can sit, stand or climb on it and have been having a blast doing just that! Grampa also drilled a tennis ball to put in a string, which he suspended from the top deck. The kids have been practicing hitting the ball with tennis rackets, really working on their eye-hand coordination. The bottom deck now houses 3 swings, a tether ball, rings, the climbing rope and tennis ball--the kids have their own private gym!

Dh and I got to go into Georgetown for dinner Saturday night, which was a special treat. We had a great time wandering through the stores and talking. At the end of the evening, we went into The Art Store, which is 3 stories full of amazing art supplies. It is total eye-candy and so much fun to walk around. We ended up buying 25 lbs. of clay, lots of tempera paints (ours were old and almost gone), watercolors, oil pastels and some origami paper. I just *love* places like this; they really appeal to my creative impulses. It was so much fun to get home and show the girls (Sam was already asleep) all the fun stuff we got. We were all excited to jump in and try it out! First thing in the morning, Emily and I tried out the origami. She wanted a crane (nothing like starting small, right?), so we worked through the directions and made a beautiful silver crane.

Sunday, the grandparents took the kids over to the park, and Emily supposedly went head-to-head with a 7 yo boy. He refused to believe that she didn't go to school and told her that she had to go because it was "a law!" I got all this second-hand, but apparently Emily retorted, "I homeschool and it's fun to be with your family!" Go girl! *lol*

Grampa's story was that the boy then began to quiz Emily on math, but she knew all the answers. She said Julia knew the answers too, but her little brother--3.5--was playing over yonder and he probably wouldn't know if the boy wanted to go ask him. Too funny! I think Em gets my confrontation gene--she backs down for nothin'!

After the grandparents left, we relaxed inside for a while. We tried our new watercolor paints and then watched a movie. It was fun to relax and reconnect again without so much going on.

Friday, March 05, 2004

The kids have been feeling way over-scheduled--Emily especially. Some friends were meeting at the park today, and she actually wanted to stay home! Part of it may have been, too, that she stayed up late last night watching Walking With Dinosaurs. But, we've definitely been running around a lot and spending way too much time in the car!

So, today we had a slow relaxing day at home. We did some baking: made banana bread with cream cheese icing and some chocolate chip cookies. The kids played with legos and playdough, watched the new Scooby Doo DVDs we borrowed from the library and finally had to be dragged outside. ;) It was a gorgeous day outside, and we had fun playing in the yard with the puppy.

I mucked some of the recent algae bloom out of the pond--a result of the weather changes. Hopefully, it will balance itself soon. I tested the water and the pH levels seem okay. I need to check the water temperature to find out when to add some start-up bacteria for the season. I futzed around with some of the rocks and pulled out some leaves (and someone's paper airplane) that were trapped in the waterfall. You can check out pictures of the pond at our website on the Science page. They're towards the bottom of the page. I had fun relaxing by the pond and just listening to the flow of water and the birds. I read a bit of Alfie Kohn's Punished by Rewards, but mostly I just relaxed.

Our neighbor came over and played for a while after she got home from school, and we had a good time visiting with them. I love when the weather warms up and everyone comes outside again!

While dh was making pizza for dinner, Em and I read some of the Genesis stories from the Children's Bible we got from the library. We read about the creation of the world, Adam and Eve's fall from Eden, Cain and Able, and the Great Flood. Em's not too crazy about the vengeful God of the Old Testament. She's making lots of great connections between the biblical stories and those we've been reading about from Greek and Egyptian mythology. She's comparing Satan, Hades and Osiris, and it's really cool to hear her thoughts on the different personas.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Wow! We've been running around like crazy today!

Sam and Julia had art classes this morning, and we went to game day at the library afterwards. They had loads of fun, though Sam was a *bit* burned out to be cooped up playing board games. He adjusted though, and we were able to find him some good DVDs to borrow, ultimately making him happy too.

While Sam was in his art class, the girls and I played with their letter cubes, making words and silly sounds, playing around with the different vowel sounds and placements. They were also playing with my calculator, testing out the multiplication problems from School House Rock. Some pretty cool math time, trying out different operations, talking about number places and how to read large numbers. Later in the day, Emily was practicing counting by 5s as fast as she could. We did some more weights and measures at the grocery store, weighing produce and bulk nuts/ candy.

Em and Julia also spent some time drawing and coloring with crayons. Emily drew a picture of Eve, Satan and The Tree of Knowledge in the garden of Eden, which we had been talking about the other day. She's fascinating by mythology of all sorts, and now she's getting into Judeo-Christian stories of creation, good and evil. I was able to find the Dorling Kindersley Illustrated Bible today at the library along with their illustrated mythology book. Those should provide hours of interesting fun!

Now the kids are in the bedroom watching their Scooby Doo DVDs and eating from a trough of cheerios. *g*

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The weather today was just beautiful! We hung out this morning, reorganizing all the kids' videos now that we moved the old tv downstairs. It's a lot bigger than the little tv they had, so it will no longer fit on the same shelf. They watched dragon tales and helped me move CDs and videos from one side of the room to the other. *g*

Once we were done, we played with the Imaginext stuff for quite a while. I spent most of my time rebuilding all the structures! *lol* With the old tv gone, we now have some new shelves to store everything on, so that works out really well. Now, if I could just get the kids to actually leave the buildings together instead of breaking them into their several different pieces. ;)

We spent the whole afternoon over at the park--it was just too beautiful to stay inside. We met some friends there and met a new homeschooling family, which was really great! We had such a fun time. The kids rode their skooters and rollerskates, played on the equipment, had a gumball (from the gum trees) fight, you name it. They just had a blast!

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Election Day! We talked all about elections, voting, representative government, the electoral college.

Emily played more of her chess program, and I cleaned and reorganized the family and laundry rooms. Sam was unhappy with having his clothes downstairs, so I brought them back up to his room. We reworked some of the furniture because the kids decided that they wanted their little table and chairs back, and I took the puppy's kennel down and rearranged the laundry room so she can stay in there while we're out and about.

Our schooled neighbor came over to play since the schools are closed for election day. She played with the kids all afternoon, so they were, of course, in heaven!

Later in the evening, Emily was playing Ages of Empire on the computer, and she turned to me and said, "You know mom, even with twos, like 72, 82, 92, it's still counting by tens." The connections they make all on their own out of the blue are just amazing. At least they seem out of the blue, but the reality is that kids are always learning and making connections. It's just that all we get are glimpses into the workings of their unfettered minds. We could have sat at the kitchen table pouring over workbook pages, bored and likely resentful, to make the same discovery that Emily came to happily on her own. And, the point is, that because Emily figured this out herself--and didn't just have an abstract pattern drilled into her head through repetition--she understands the theory behind the math. A really important distinction.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Lego morning. Sam and I built a house together with a door and a window, and Emily was working on a futuristic Star Wars setting. Julia reworked her original large house structure, taking down all the outside walls but leaving the base intact. In the center, she built a tall house that looks kind of like a high rise meets L'Arc de Triomphe. Pretty cool!

We went grocery sopping and also picked up a rock climbing guide while we were out. I'm pretty psyched to get the kids into climbing this year! They're all old enough, and I'm hoping they'll be into it--Sam especially.

Emily had her drama class this afternoon--acting out different scenes from Rumpelstilskin. She got to be the queen for a scene and was in her element showing how sad she was at the thought of giving up her baby. She's really enjoying the class.

After class, we went to the park where we met some of our new homeschooling friends. The kids enjoyed running around and playing in the gorgeous weather--I hope this weather lasts! I'm ready for spring!