Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Back to School


We have been back in school for two weeks now! The first week of school was tough, as all transitions are, but this past week went a lot more smoothly.

Here is what's going well, so far...

Our day is split up into two parts, morning lessons and afternoon lessons. During morning lessons, we cover the bulk of our subjects: Reading, Math, Science, Geography, French, History, etc. In the afternoon, usually when Esme goes down for her afternoon nap, we have our afternoon "lessons", which are a lot less structured. Typically, the girls have a snack and make an entry in their Nature Journals while I read aloud to them. We always read some poetry and then rotate classic literature (Monday, Wednesday), historical fiction (Tuesday, Thursday), and Biography / Nonfiction (Fridays). Currently, we are reading The Wizard of Oz as our classic lit. selection and Little House on the Prairie for historical fiction. Our biography / nonfiction selection this week was a Robert McClung book called Buzztail: The Story of a Rattlesnake, as we are currently studying snakes in science. 

We also managed to squeeze in a field trip last week. We went to our local Nature Center to observe some snakes and other reptiles. Esme was also along for the ride, and she was thrilled about it.

Lucy's memory drawing of "The Thankful Poor", a painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner

We are using a curriculum called Charlotte Mason Alveary. Originally, I was hesitant to use a curriculum because they are expensive, and also, I am a control freak. But, since this is our first year of "official" school, I wanted to make sure I was covering everything that needs to be covered. And man, I'm so happy with this decision. There are some cool subjects - like Art Study - that our curriculum covers that I would otherwise have no idea how to teach. 

So, what's not going well?

I've had to make some adjustments along the way. Originally, I had planned to include Alice more in school. With a July birthday, Alice would be on the young end of the spectrum if she were in PreK at a traditional school. One of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool is because we want our children to enjoy their early childhood and have more time to play independently. That being said, at age 4, Lucy was asking me for more structure - she wanted to read all the books and learn to write letters, etc. Alice at age 4 does not seem interested in "school". She knows her letters and she loves to listen to picture books (and chapter books), but she does not need structure in the way that Lucy did / does. This is just further proof that all children are born persons, and each one is so unique. I am so thankful that homeschooling will allow Alice the freedom to have so much unstructured play time, while at the same time giving Lucy the structure she craves. I had originally created some structured activities for Alice during school hours, but I have since decided to hold off on those indefinitely. 

Another hard thing is that homeschooling is a big time investment. Between breakfast, morning lessons, lunch, afternoon lessons, ballet, piano, nursing Esme... there is not a lot of extra time. Housework, Nature Study, and Lucy's piano practice are usually the first casualties of this time deficit. I have been trying to think of creative ways to get the kids involved with housework. As far as Nature Study goes, we have been squeezing it in where we can. Thankfully, we live in a great, wooded neighborhood with abundant wildlife. Some days, the most we can do is go out in the yard and observe a spider spinning its web. And that's OK. 

In spite of these challenges, I am still so thankful for the privilege and freedom to home educate. Our days are crazy, but they are also filled with so much adventure and curiosity and wonder. And it's only the third week of school!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

9 Months

Miss Esme is 9 months old!

Eating finger foods and laughing at big sister, Alice.

She loves her "baba" (Daddy).

- The big news is that Esme is officially mobile! She crawls all over the place and loves to splash in the dog's water bowl. Of course.
- She claps her hands when someone says, "Yay!" 
- Her favorite song / thing is "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider". 
- Her favorite foods are: watermelon (still), blueberries, strawberries, and everything.
- She still only has two teeth (bottom), but one of her top teeth is starting to appear. 
- Her personality is starting to come out more. She is very sweet and cuddly, but also feisty and independent. 
- Her nicknames are Ez, Ezzie, and Ezzie May. 

We love you, sweet Ezzie May! It's so much fun to watch you grow!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Homeschool Planning

It's that time of year again! Back-to-school prep time. With homeschooling, that means: creating our schedule, writing and printing lesson plans, gathering books and supplies, and organizing our school space.

Lucy's weekly checklist

What is it about rainbow tabs that makes me SO excited? (I'm a nerd.)

These are only a few of the books Lucy will get to read this year... There are so many!

(Side note: Some of these book titles are very old and contain outdated terminology; however this does NOT reflect the content of the books, which CELEBRATE other cultures with sensitivity and respect.)

It's a lot of work, but I am so excited to get started. Our first day of school will be Monday, September 9... a little less than a month away!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Happy Birthday, Alice!

Our sweet Alice Pearl is 4! It was an absolute JOY to celebrate her...

The artmobile came to our house!

Getting ready to paint...

Apparently, in its previous life, the artmobile was used to transport prisoners. So glad it serves a happier purpose these days!

Time for ice cream sundaes!

The finished paintings, drying outside in the sunshine!

 Sweet friends!

An interview with Alice, Age 4

What do you want to be when you grow up? A big girl

What is your favorite book? Curious George

What is your favorite food? Mac n cheese

What is your favorite toy? My doll

What is your favorite animal? An owl

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Magic

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Chocolate

What do you like to do? Play with Lucy

Oh, Alice. There are not words to express how much we love you, sweet girl. I always say, you are a balm to my soul. Spending time with you is so life-giving to me. You are kind, generous, funny, affectionate, and sweet. You are so content and have been ever since you were a little baby. There is no one like you. You are my treasure. I love you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

8 Months

Our sweet Esme Rose is 8 months old! I am a bit behind with this post, but Esme has been growing so much and reaching some exciting milestones this month...

- Miss Esme is so full of personality! She is sweet and spunky, just like her big sisters. She loves to cuddle and play with her blocks.
- She is continuing to try new foods. So far, she has enjoyed: blueberries, banana, blackberries, vegetable curry, chicken, scrambled eggs, red pepper, kale, and much more. Her favorite is still probably watermelon, and who can blame her?
- She will wave when you say, "Hi!" and she can say "Mama".
- She has dropped her "dream feed" and is sleeping through the night, for the most part. She likes to wake up at 6 or 6:30am, which I am still getting used to!
- She loves her sisters and is fascinated by animals, especially our cat. 

We love you, Esme! It is so much fun to watch you grow!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Homemade Butter

This morning, Lucy made homemade butter. It was surprisingly easy and fun!

Here's what she did:

1. Fill a mason jar halfway with cream and pinch of salt.

2. Screw a lid on the jar and shake for about 15 minutes. (Lucy's arms got tired after about 5 minutes, so I had to help her.)

3. Remove the lid. Cream should now have a thick consistency.

4. Strain excess liquid from jar using a clean paper towel or cheese cloth. 

5. Spread and enjoy! (Refrigerate leftovers.)

Alice was a big fan.

For lunch, the girls enjoyed the homemade butter spread on some fresh, brown bread. I don't eat dairy, but I was very tempted to have a taste. Both Lucy and Alice said it was scrumptious!

Phenology Wheel Updates

Remember our phenology wheels? We have been making some great progress, if you'd like to see...

Lucy's phenology wheel

My phenology wheel

Drawing does not come naturally to me. In fact, it is really difficult for me to not be critical of my own work. Fortunately, developing artistic ability is not the point of keeping these phenology wheels (though growing in this area might be an added bonus). The purpose is to be more intentional in our observations of nature. I used to have only a vague idea that I always heard the peepers in early spring, but I didn't know exactly when. Same with the blooming of the daffodils in our neighborhood, the blossoming of the Japanese magnolia trees, and the first fireflies of the year. Doing this exercise along with Lucy has helped me to pay attention to the calendar of the natural world, and maybe my drawing will improve in the process. At least, I can hope this will be the case!