Thursday, August 30, 2012

New School Year -- Launched and Rolling

We officially started our new school year on Monday!
Adam - First Day of First Grade - 8/27/12
Ray - First Day of Second Grade - 8/27/12
Our Classroom
We got new desks and rolling chairs from *IKEA*

Our new prayer corner and morning work center

We start our school day before Daddy leaves for work.
We pray together and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Then we do some recitation work -- Poetry and Spanish.
After that, the boys complete their morning workbooks.
The morning workbooks include calendar and weather work,
number of the day, liturgical seasons and feast days
(and/or holidays, birthdays, etc), and also some journal space.
This year our coursework is a bit more intense, especially for Ray.
Much more seatwork.
And school will last later in the day.
We're still getting used to the new schedule.

My planning binder
This is what keeps us on track.
Each two-page spread has one week on it.
I add lesson plans, dinner menus, appts, etc.
It contains daily checklists as well as monthly goals
and yearly objectives.
This year we're practicing reading and language arts skills by using a different storybook each week. The first two weeks we're doing Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. The boys made these cute stick puppets and they'll be putting on Frog and Toad puppet shows next week.

My mom called on the first day of school to tell us she was bringing lunch over. (So sweet!) When she called we had just finished reading the Frog and Toad story, "The Lost Button." I asked mom to bring over some buttons and we helped the boys practice sewing them onto some fabric. (When I went down to my scrap fabric bin, I just happened to have some frog fabric!) This was such a fun impromptu lesson extension! These kinds of things are one of the greatest gifts and benefits of homeschooling.

 Another new addition for this school year ---- a really cool keyboard. It's on loan to us from Pappy and Mary. The boys are loving it. Our music time is definitely more lively now!

In case you're wondering, we are continuing to use the Core Knowledge Curriculum. We follow the grade two objectives for both boys for Science, History, Music, Art, and Health. Each of the boys follows his own grade level objectives for Language Arts, Reading, Handwriting, Phonics, and Math. I use resources from several different companies for their textbooks. Many of their texts come from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. We supplement with  A LOT of library books and resources found online. We are enrolled in the homeschool branch of our parish religious education program and we're eager to begin preparations for Ray's First Holy Communion.
We have submitted our academic plan to our school district and it has been approved by the superintendent. At the end of the school year the boys will take the CAT (California Achievement Test) and they will meet with a certified teacher for assessment and portfolio review. We will submit test results and teacher assessment verification to the school district next summer.
It is such a blessing for me to be able to teach my boys. I am very thankful for this opportunity. We all work hard and learn a lot from each other every day.
Finally, the view from our school room window.....

We've got a new window sticker depicting the Holy Spirit. Along with our friends from our homeschool group, we're praying the Prayer of the Holy Spirit this year. We ask Him for His Grace and Strength each day as we learn and grow together.

Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Awesome Husband

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my amazing husband? I could not ask for a more helpful, patient, kind, hard-working, loving man. I love sharing our life together.
Jon is....
...the most popular dad at the pool
(because he spins the kids around and tosses them in the air until his arms ache)

...the evening entertainment,
always up for a board game or some other fun activity with the kids after dinner
He's the grill-master,
He patiently supports and helps me in all my crazy projects,
like backyard theater and disco parties and homeschool crafts/games/experiments....

...he even does windows...
late at night
on the night before school starts.
Just because he knows it will make
Mommy/Teacher feel more "together."
I love you honey!
Thank you for loving me so well.

Karate Update

Ray and Adam have been taking karate classes at Team#Karate#Center for over a year now. I really feel that it has helped in their mind/body focus and control. It's good practice in discipline. And they like it.
Today was a parent day in the dojo. I enjoyed seeing how much they've improved during the past session.


At the end of class their instructor told them that they are now ready to prepare for their test for orange belt. They are very excited and I am very proud of them.


Thanks to my dad and Mary, the boys had a great time learning all about insects during the week before we officially started school. It is awesome that they were able to complete one of their science units before our regular studies began (and with very little work from me). They've been doing daily insect searches in the yard and teaching me lots of things I never knew about insects. And they won't let me call them "bugs." I have to use the proper terminology for those creepy crawly critters and call them "insects."

Each boy has a binder full of entomological studies!
They completed a ton of work and there are more bonus activities for the future as well.

Hunting for insects

Studying the insect specimens

Extending the hunt to a local park

 I was not here for most of these lessons. When I saw the following pictures I laughed out loud.


That's one way to do it! ;) They loved that lesson.

Tasting honey and checking out some real honeycomb
Little "ants" following the trail to some treats

 Thanks so much Dad and Mary! The boys learned a lot and had fun. And I got to check the bug unit off my list without actually having to touch any creepy crawly critters!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Long time, no post!

I hope I haven't lost all my readers by not posting for so long. I apologize. Life's been a bit topsy-turvy, but all is well now.

My mom called me in the middle of the night a week ago and told me she had called the squad. She thought she was having a heart attack. It ended up being her gall bladder. She spent four days in the hospital being tested, monitored, operated on, observed..... She had 10 gumball-sized stones in her gall bladder, including one that was blocking a duct. Yikes!

Thanks be to God, she is recovering well at home now. It's been a wild week of helping mom, spending long nights at the hospital, re-arranging schedules, etc. But that's what life is all about, right? What a privilege it is to share such times with those we love and to help one another through life's challenges. My mom has been there for me through EVERYTHING and I was honored to be able to be there for her. And I am so thankful for Jon, my dad and Mary, and my sisters. Everybody was so helpful.

The only other thing I'll post about my mom's ordeal is that there are some really awesome medical personnel out there. Kudos to John the ambulance guy, Hebrit the nursing assistant, and all of those who really care for their patients and go beyond the call of duty to help. And then there's the other side of the coin. We really need to pray for kind, compassionate people to go into nursing. I know that the whole health care system is in need of change and that these people often work very long hours under less than ideal conditions. But it sure does make a difference when they are attentive, pleasant, and caring. Lastly, no one should be awakened at 3:00am for a weight check. Ever. No one.

Before the "Great Gallbladder Escapade of 2012" (GGE12) I was busy getting ready for the new school year. My intention was to begin school this week. Oh well. :) Actually, my dad and Mary have been here with the boys quite a bit. They have completed an entire insect study already! They all had a great time and I'll post a bunch of pictures of that soon. Here's Adam with an insect he made out of a pop bottle with glow sticks inside.

While I was in and out to the hospital, Adam lost a tooth.....

He has also been having some kind of a growth spurt, sleeping in every morning and eating a TON of food. He actually lost the tooth while biting down on a french fry.

The other complicating factor of GGE12 was that I was part of a committee leading a retreat for 50 Catholic homeschooling mothers this weekend.  It was really difficult for me to fulfill my responsibilities there while also worrying about my mom and tending to her needs. Fortunately, the hospital and the retreat center are literally a mile apart. The retreat went very well. I am disappointed that I was only there for brief parts of it, but I know I was where I needed to be.

The theme for the retreat was, "Fanning the Flame." We used the quote: "This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly." (From the Rite of Baptism) We asked the Holy Spirit to enliven our own faith lives so that we can embrace the vocation of helping our husbands and children grow in faith.  (Kind of like securing your own oxygen mask before helping your child.)

The weekend began on Friday evening with a Holy Hour with Adoration, Confession, and Benediction. After some social time we had a candlelight procession along a path of luminaries. We prayed night prayer and offered the candles as symbols of our intentions, asking for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary.  (Unfortunately my pictures of this beautiful night prayer did not turn out.)

On Saturday we were blessed by Mrs. Nancy Madrid, who spoke to us about "Fanning the Flames of Faith." She spoke about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of the most memorable images for me was that of birds soaring in circles. Nancy talked about "soaring in the current of the Holy Spirit." So often I'm flapping my arms and trying to make my own path.... but I definitely learned more this weekend about soaring and being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Mrs. Nancy Madrid

Lovely ladies enjoying the retreat.
So Catholic --- nobody in the front row!

For morning prayer on Saturday we placed our candles by one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for which we particularly wanted to pray. The "fortitude" table was quite popular!
The candle wraps were designed by one of the talented moms.
They are beautiful keepsakes from the retreat.

 This afternoon we celebrated the beginning of a new school year with our homeschool friends. We gathered for a fun pool party. It was a beautiful day and we had tons of fun!

Ignore my crazy friend Sara! ;)
I was trying to get a picture of Adam and his best buddy Ryan, who are both missing the same tooth!

Look at these lovely ladies!
I could not / would not homeschool without their friendship and support.
Love them all!

So, that's what we've been up to! I hope to post pictures of our new schoolroom arrangement and the insect study in the next few days. Please say a prayer for my mom... that she will continue to recover smoothly and enjoy many more years of good health.