Saturday, April 28, 2012

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
...Matthew completed his grade 2 curriculum on Friday!!  Yay Matt!!  He also completed a Review of the year for Science.  Over the next week, we'll work our way through Reviews in Math, English, and Social Studies but he's done!  I'm so proud of Matthew for finishing well.  He learned a lot this year, but the most important things from my perspective were:  1) he really seemed to enjoy school this year and was usually happy to 'do' school.  2) compared to a year ago, he has so much more perseverance - even when struggling with a particularly hard concept (and maybe even melting down about it) he was usually willing to sit back down after a break and keep plugging away.  3) so much of his learning this year was in life stuff - he's coming through a massive adjustment in having two new, non-baby siblings and has had so much to grapple with...and he's coming out on the side of that adjustment now.  Matthew is an amazing kid and I'm thrilled to be on this h/school adventure with him!!
...Seth worked on pattern recognition, fine motor skills (beading, lacing, scissor work), colouring, and puzzles.  He's not ready to learn his letters yet (that's a whole 'nother blog post) but he's working on other things that are clearly learning for him.  Of course, like Matthew and Lizzie, he's had sooo much to deal with on the personal front this year and is really making huge strides in adjusting to his new life. He's quite the child!!

...Lizzie worked on colouring, fine motor skills (scissor work and weaving) and on learning her letters - she knows about 14-15 capital letters now, more or less.   I frankly have no need for her to be learning letters yet but she is just so interested and we work on letters!  This kid is a dynamo in so many ways!

Places we went and people we saw...
...In addition to the usual gym, gymnastics, cycling, music, dance, and art classes, we had friends over on a couple of different days this week, my parents took the kids out for lunch one day, and my sister and niece came over on Friday for dinner-and-a-movie night.  We did not participate in any field trips this week...which was a good thing 'cause I don't think we could have fit anything more in!

My favourite things this week were...
...watching Matthew's excitement as he realized that he'd finished his last lesson of grade 2 curriculum! What's not to like about that??!!

...another favourite thing for me happened on Friday.  Matthew's final Science lesson was on the subject of simple machines.  I looked at the lesson the night before and thought shoot - what the heck do I know about levers/wedges/wheels & axles/pulley systems/inclined planes/etc etc??  I looked up some stuff on the internet to gain at least a rudimentary definition of these types of simple machines, and then I decided to learn it together with Matthew during the Science class (he loved that I was learning it too!). So, for example, regarding levers, we learned about the three classes of levers (depending on where the pivot/fulcrum is...never even heard of the word 'fulcrum' until Thursday night!) and found objects around the house to test out how the three classes of levers worked. It was fascinating to learn how not only teeter-totters, but also wheel barrows and baseball bats (and a zillion other things in between) are actually levers!  When it came to pulleys, we dug through the kids' lego until we found a wheel with a groove around the rim and practiced raising heavy objects with a string and wheel system.  It was fun running around the house looking for examples of all of these types of simple machines (Seth got into it, too!)...who knew I'd have to go back to grade 2 to learn this stuff!

...oh, I have one more favourite thing of the week.  Last Saturday afternoon, I started a 4-week Ethiopian cooking class, run by the same amazing woman who organizes the kids' Ethiopian Dance classes.  We had a lot of fun, and the kale and meat dishes we made were scrumptious.

What's working for us...
...I almost hate to say it, but routine is working pretty well for us.  I'm not really a routine person, which is a challenge when it comes to structuring a household around h/schooling and finding creative ways to both occupy and teach children, but I really do find that in weeks/months when we're in a fairly stable routine, things do run a little smoother.  Specifically, on the days when we do school, heading down to the classroom immediately after the breakfast dishes are cleared seems to allow us to function the most efficiently and cooperatively.

...having my parents over for dinner.  We have none of Geoff's family living near us, which I wish were different because I love family.  But for several years already, my goal has been to have my parents over for dinner once a week (and we usually see them another time during the week as well).  Though it doesn't always work, it usually does and that's a good thing for our family.  I love that my kids really know and love their grandparents (and vice versa).

...still not watching tv.  The kids watched a movie this week (Friday movie night), but that's it.  And the results were just as positive as during the previous two weeks...less fighting, more cooperation, more imagination being put to use, even more time outside playing.

What's not working for us...
...I posted this week about being so terribly busy and running hard.  There's something there that needs exploring 'cause I'm a little overwhelmed by everything that always seems to need doing.  I'm chewing on this one.

Things I'm working on...
...trying to clear one of my kitchen counters and the kitchen desk of the clutter that has consumed them for weeks already.  It's definitely a dumping ground for anyone and everyone and I don't like it!  I think they look worse than they are (at least, I hope so!) so I'm trying to clear just a handful of things every day, in the hopes that they're eventually clear.

I'm reading...
...I've started Nancy Horan's Loving Frank, and it's a lovely read so far.

...I also love reading the blogs of a few missionaries who work in the city of Soddo (as physicians, as long-term workers in orphanages, etc etc), which is only a short drive from the community where Seth and Lizzie were born in south-western Ethiopia.  Soddo and the surrounding area hold a very special place in my heart:  we were very fortunate to visit Soddo last June, and see the orphanage in Soddo where our kids were relinquished; we also visited our kids' birth place just outside of Soddo.  With the donations we were given and our own money, we were able to buy hundreds of kilograms of teff flour (etc) in the Soddo markets to supply the orphanage.  I inhale the stuff that I read on these blogs because it gives me just a little insight into daily life in that hugely-populated and incredibly-impoverished region of Ethiopia.  Our kids come from the exact area where World Vision camped out for decades beginning in the 80's (remember hearing about Ethiopia and famine in those years?? That is exactly where our kids are from).  Anything that I learn about this area is very dear to me and I hold it close. 

I'm cooking/baking...
...ginger shrimp, salmon, chicken, granola bars, and muffins.

I'm grateful for... nights off once every week.  My night off has been on Thursdays for quite a while, but I've needed to make a temporary change while the boys are in their cycling club on Tues/Thurs nights until the end of June.  Last week Friday I got to a movie with a friend ("The Lucky One") and even got picked up by my friend in her lovely car!


  1. Lots I could comment on here... but all that sticks right now is the cycling club comment on the bottom- which one are your kids in? KOM? Are they racing? If so, we'll see ya bright and early tomorrow am at Grand Beach!

  2. Hey Ramona -
    yeah the kids are in KOM but in the non-competitive stream, so we do the Tues/Thurs evening thing. How cool that you folks are involved too!!


  3. I looked for you on the wkd but guessed you must be non-competitive. Our kids have been racing the Manitoba Cup series for 4 or 5 years now, and since last year have been able to compete with the KOM kids, but we don't have a KOM (would make training much easier if we did!) so we race for our local race group at the cup races/KOM... Which KOM group are you in?