Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lesson Plan... Good. Schedule... GOOOODDDDDD!

I've been doing a much better job of putting together the weekly Lesson Plans this year. For most of the subjects, its really as easy as "the next lesson" in the book. But, its too easy to skip a subject (especially the ones the kids don't like), if I just say "do the next subject".

So I've been sitting down and writing down the specific lessons for each subject they are to do each day. I only do one week at a time because things still happen and affect their ability to get all of their subjects, every day - so then I "catch up" at the beginning of the next week.

That has worked really well, but its still easy to get near the end of the day and "not quite have completed everything". And I was still having lots of arguments over "who practices piano first and when" and also finding it easy to skip subjects that involved ME working with the kids.

So, after seeing a great "time schedule" developed by my friend Erin, I have developed one myself. It includes a list of chores for each kid, as well as which subjects we are doing at what times (generally speaking - I'll put 2-3 subjects in a block). It has specific blocks for subjects we do together (History and Science) and which child practices at what time.

For the past few days, we've been pretty much on schedule and there haven't been arguments about practicing.

All in all ... we are working so much more effectively this year, moving along very well, learning a lot about force, solids, liquids, gasses, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Babylon, early Bible stories, multiplication, division, vocabulary, spelling, and amo/amas/amat.

Carpe Diem!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quick Samantha Update

Samantha had her 6 week follow-up with the doctor following her Kidney stone in July / August. She had had some tests run after her last appointment and we got the results.

I like the urologist. When he heard we homeschooled, he has taken every thing he's told us and turned it into a little lesson - he even explained what pH is to Samantha (and that was good because I had forgotten since we haven't gotten to chemistry yet).

All of her results were very good - except she's not drinking enough water. No surprises there! But we were happy to hear that she DOESN'T have a propensity to develop kidney stones - which is good because its unusual enough that an 11 year old had a kidney stone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Equal Time

We finally have some photos to share of Samantha playing soccer. In all fairness, part of the struggle with getting soccer photos is that there is a lot of running. And by the time you realize that Samantha's near the ball, its gone and you haven't taken a shot.

So, I took hundreds of photos this weekend using the "Continuous" shooting mode on the camera, hoping I could get a handful of good ones.

Samantha is playing her 11th season of soccer this fall in the Under 12 division. Here team is currently 1-0-1. They won this past weekend 1-0 and played hard most of the game. I think most of their games this season are going to be close, and low scoring, as all of the teams are pretty competitive.

So here are a few more photos of Samantha going after the ball and kicking it down the field in this past Saturday's game:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things you take for granted

Every once in a while, I realize things that I take for granted these days since I homeschool.

Today was one of those days.

Mike had to go to work early, I had to get Emma fed breakfast and pack her lunch for preschool (which includes writing out all of the carb counts for her teacher to dose her). We also had the first session of Michael's writing class (Samantha's is next week), so I had to make sure that Samantha had enough schoolwork with her to do while Michael was in his class. And all of this needed to be done by 8:15 so that we could leave to get our carpool friend to take to preschool.

It was a hectic morning trying to actually get out of the house with all of them on a schedule. We haven't had one of those in a while.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sports weekend

Finally, the rain held off and games could proceed this weekend.

Michael's Little League baseball team, the White Sox. Had their 3rd game and their first win. Michael had a great game, again.

Samantha's soccer team had their first game of the season. The game was hard fought and ended in a tie. Her team played this team in the tournament last season and it was a hard fought win at that time, so its no surprise that it was such a tough game (Sorry, we don't have any pictures from that game)

Michael's travel baseball team, the Eagles, played their first game in Remington, VA against the Remington Young Guns. The team played great, had some great hits, great catches, and great plays. The Eagles beat the Young Guns 9-0.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Even when you lose, you can win

(alternate title: Game Ball)

Michael had his first Little League game of the fall season last night. He's on the White Sox this season. Its an unusual team - fall teams usually are - because it has many kids who haven't played in the Single A division yet (which is kid AND machine pitching) and some who have played Double A before (all Kid pitch) all on his Single A team.

Michael is a pitcher. So his coach had him pitch an inning last night. When he didn't pitch, he played 2nd base, 3rd base, and 2 outfield positions.

Michael had a great game. He made one put out at 3rd base in the 2nd inning. When he started off the 3rd inning pitching, he struck out the first batter. That made him especially happy, as it is a teammate on his travel baseball team (another team). He threw a lot of good pitches and came from behind in the count several times.

In the last inning, he played 2nd base. He had two FANTASTIC tags of base runners in that inning, including one thrown in from the right-fielder. It was a very exciting inning.

He also had a great hit, over the first baseman, but down the line, and into right field. His team needs a little bit of help in the hitting department, so he was especially excited to get a hit.

His coach this season awards a game ball. Michael earned it last night for having a great all-around game (hitting, fielding, pitching). Michael has asked for us to get a plastic case for it so no one can mess it up and he wants to display it proudly with his trophies.

And just for fun, I wanted to show you that he is an authentic Stopper / Gwaltney child, as evidenced by the numerous expressions (or maybe contortions is a better word) on his face while pitching!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First Day of Preschool!

Since we are homeschooling, its been a while since we've had a big "send off" first day of school. But, today was that day! Emma went off to her first day of preschool.

She has been so excited that we have been counting down "sleeps" (the number of times she has to go to bed at night) until it was the day. And she came running into our room this morning, dressed in clothes that she picked out (which we changed, incidentally) ready to go!!

So we had our breakfast, packed our lunch, and we were ready to go.

Emma has preschool at an "in home" preschool with the wife of the pastor at our church. There are 8 kids in her class each day - Monday and Wednesday. Emma jumped out of the car and headed up the sidewalk to her driveway and then up the driveway. The teacher has all the kids sit down on her sidewalk until everyone gets there.

Then they walk in together and head down for their school day!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wash Out!

Our first game of the fall soccer season, and Michael's first game on his Little League team were rained out today.

I don't think that "rained out" does adequate justice to the buckets and buckets of water that have been falling out of the sky for several hours now, and are expected to continue to fall for several more hours.

Welcome Hannah!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Different focus this year

In the past, I have had trouble keeping focused with history and science. The history curriculum that we have chosen is great - Sonlight - but they schedule History every day and I often have trouble with that. When we were having a slow day, it was usually Math that we did.

This year, so far, I have been pretty good about doing History every day. I think its because I'm afraid of getting behind. It takes us almost an hour a day to do History but we're moving along nicely through Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian history.

But for some reason I'm having trouble getting engaged with math this year. I think its because neither of the kids are STARTING a new math. Michael did 3 or 4 days of worksheets to review what he did last year, and he is picking up mid-way through his 3rd grade math. Samantha almost finished pre-algebra last year, and right now she is working her way back through taking the tests again as a form of review, and when she reaches a point where she has major areas that she needs reinforcement, we'll pick up the lessons. She's also going to work on logic puzzles and word problems this year, to help her thought process and prepare her for Algebra next year.

Thankfully, the Language Arts that I have chosen for each of them is not every day - but 2-4 days a week, so there is wiggle room in there.

But, we are getting into our groove nicely. Even today where I woke up with a migraine and slept until 10, we did Science and History this afternoon. That's a lot more than I would have done last year!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mean Mom Award!

On a message board I read, many ladies post and say they have earned the "Mean Mom" award. This is an award given strictly by kids when they are convinced their parents are the worst and the meanest parents in the world.

I earned it today.

I made my kids do schoolwork on a holiday! The horror.

We didn't do a full day's worth of work. But we did cover our history lessons for the day and the kids did Vocabulary and Spelling and Samantha did a math lesson.

So, not a full day of lessons, but lessons nonetheless.

I've earned the Mean Mom Award today - hand it over!