Friday, March 30, 2012


Last week we began our Haudenosaunee cultural epic story (from the Enki Education 3rd grade curriculum package). Above, J illustrates the new mother and her oldest sister walking through the dark of night from their Long House to the Women's House to birth her baby. (What a great story, given the recent birth of Rosebud!) Below, Zoo Boy illustrates the new father introducing baby Aionwahta to the river, the grasses, and the spirits, with other members of the Bear Clan looking on in the background. As he selected a brown crayon to start drawing, he stopped to check with me, "Aionwahta and his family are Native Americans, right?" I love his desire to accurately depict the scene.

J's written chapter summary above, and Zoo Boy's below. We came up with quite a long summary, too long for either boy to fit it all on their page. I selected some key sentences from our summary for Zoo Boy to write, and J just wrote it as is until he ran out of room. Starting with our next story summary work (which will be today), I am going to let the boys select which pieces of the overall summary they wish to write out in their good books (letting them have even more control over bringing forth what they think is important in the story).

Zoo Boy's handwriting continues to improve, and he told me as he wrote this that he was surprised at how easy writing has become for him. What a relief, for both him and me! And also has me shifting a bit how we'll go about our story work this semester, now that I don't feel like we need to be writing every single day for him to not back-slide on his writing comfort and ability.

journal progressions

The kids are back to doing journal entries once a week, after a good long break from it (since before the winter holidays). Typically I'm not posting their journal work anymore, for the sake of privacy, but they both gave me permission to share their latest entries so that I can illustrate a point I want to make about them.

Here is J's first entry of our spring semester:

J's been writing about personal experiences right along, using this writing exercise as a true journal. I find it very interesting how he combines his ballet school's show theme (about tourists visiting Paris) with a little bit of factual information about the Eiffel Tower, then brings that around to another one of Gustav Eiffel's engineering masterpieces, the Statue of Liberty. There's just so much at work here in terms of writing mastery, it boggles the mind.

Meanwhile, here's Zoo Boy's latest entry:

Ok, so it may not look like much, until you stop to think about it. Let's look back at his previous entry:

All autumn, his entries have looked like this last one. And I'd been under the false assumption that he was just hyper-focusing on an interest of his (before Super Mario Brothers type posts, it was Scooby Doo, before that it was Pokemon characters), and avoiding writing about personal experience. However, given his most recent entry, I realize that he was actually sharing information in an attempt to educate a perceived audience. I might have totally missed that if I'd stepped in and insisted that he write about personal experiences instead. (The reason I didn't is because he has, in the past, been SO resistant to writing that I didn't want to do anything to discourage his actual enjoyment of it -- and he's often said that journals are his favorite part of our schoolwork -- so I stuck to my guns that journals were a place for them to write/draw whatever they want to, without any interference or "correcting" from me.)

I'll be very interested to see what he chooses to write about next. Probably more characters, his interests have shifted back to Pokemon lately. But maybe he'll surprise me. He often does.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

frog pictures

Some of the frogs we saw in the Springfield Science Museum's special traveling exhibit on frogs, during the Homeschool Day programming we attended last week. See my previous post for info and photos from the actual program.

all about frogs

We attended a fabulous frog-themed Homeschool Day at the Springfield Science Museum last week. The entire day was dedicated to studying amphibians. This photo was taken at the start of our day, as the program was introduced to us and we divided into groups.

First we visited the special traveling exhibit on frogs, and saw many amazing species. Here the boys and their friend C check out the poison dart frogs. They played a scavenger hunt game -- they were given a playing piece with a frog's picture on it, and they had to locate that frog's exhibit and information board to discover where in the world that frog lived. Then they had to locate that country on a world map and put their frog in the right place. I will post separately with some frog pictures from the exhibit.

Then they moved into another room in the museum to play a frog vs. toad amphibian trivia game. Our group divided in half to form two teams, and they took turns answering questions about amphibian biology, ecology, morphology, and physiology. Our group was quite knowledgeable about frogs!

Next we joined with another group and headed off to the classroom for a program about amphibian biology and morphology. Lots of good questions from the entire group!

Rosebud plays with Laurel during the program. I'm often asked how I can manage to keep going with our busy schedules as usual despite having Rosebud along, but this is how. She just comes along and hangs out wherever. It's really not hard, especially when I have so many fabulous friends willing to step in and lend a hand when needed. (Or even when not needed, but just because it's fun to play with Rosebud.) I can honestly say that having her has only added to our fun on outings and in our schoolwork, she hasn't been the least bit disruptive in our regularly scheduled schooling. (We'll see what happens when she starts to crawl!!!!)

After a nice long lunch-break on the green outside the museum, our group went back indoors for a live-animal program about reptiles (as a comparison to the amphibian programming in the morning). I don't have any photos, Rosebud and I chose to stay outdoors and enjoy the beautiful day some more. But after their reptile program, our group came outdoors again for a very active habitat resource game. The kids were divided up into 4 types of "animals", each with a special adaptation. (Some kids had tongs, some had spoons, etc.) They had to use their adaptation to pick up and bring to their "shelter" items representing food, and also fill a bucket with water from a central bucket using only their hands. Meanwhile, they had to avoid a roaming predator (an adult with a sign that said "predator") -- if the predator tagged them, they were dead, but they could either run away from the predator and seek the safety of their shelter, or they could play dead. It was a lot of fun, both for the kids to play and for us adults to watch!

GREAT program, I was very impressed by the quality of the content, the consistency of the theme, and the overall organization of the event. We will definitely attend ANYTHING they offer up there for homeschoolers in the future!

Hasbro GameLand

A fun visit to Hasbro GameLand, a hands-on exhibit in the Museum of Springfield History in Springfield, MA.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

parent observation week again

Didn't we just do this? Time flies....

Parent observation week at the ballet studio again. I got to watch half of one of J's classes, thanks to a sleeping baby, but she woke up half way through and was FAR too happy, so we had to leave. Got a peek in at the pointe class that J's taking, just for a little extra strength and conditioning (he takes it in regular ballet shoes, not pointe shoes), but that class is pretty boring and I had sewing to do, so I didn't stay long. Modern class was a bust -- Rosebud was unhappy and not willing to settle down and nurse quietly, so I didn't get a see even a minute of that class (too bad, that's the interesting one!). And his other ballet classes were pretty much repetitions of the first, so I didn't bother even attempting those.

So much for parent observations! Of course, J is at the age where he doesn't really care whether I watch or not, so it's only me that missed out. (And honestly, I get to see plenty of him dancing, so I'm fine with just a little peek here and there.) Besides, he stands WAY at the back of the room, so I can hardly see him anyway. I'll get my fill soon, big performance the end of this week!

Monday, March 26, 2012


Zoo Boy participated in his first karate tournament last week. It was a perfect first experience, as it was just for his school and was very low-pressure. But the buliding was big and unfamiliar, the floor was crowded, and he surprised us all with his calm, collected, controlled manner. Entering was a last-minute decision for him, but he's really glad that he did. And I'm glad we all had the opportunity to go watch and support him!

In this photo, he is waiting for his turn to do his form.

Here he is showing his form to the judges. This form is "Two Pinion," for anyone familiar with Shaolin Kempo Karate. He was competing against a few other purple belts, plus lots of blue belts and blue-with-green-stripe belts (both ranks above him). He did his form cleanly and accurately, we were very proud of and impressed by him.

The Map Man plays with Rosebud between events. Several people mentioned that she should have gotten a medal for "tournament's cutest baby". (Not much competition there, but I thought she deserved a medal anyway....)

Zoo Boy (on the left in the purple helmet) in his sparring match. He had told me before hand that he wasn't very good at sparring, but he really held his own during his match, it was tied for quite awhile before the other boy earned the winning point. I surprised myself by being VERY excited during the match -- I've never really had much interest in the sparring, but when it was my own kid in there, I found my competitive spirit!

He received medals for his work in both forms and sparring. He was proud of himself and had a really great time. A highlight of the day for him (and The Map Man and J) was watching the demo teams perform. Rosebud and I had fled the crowded building by then, so we missed it, but we'll get to see plenty of demo team action when Zoo Boy becomes a member of one (which I believe may happen this spring).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

no more sugar!

That's it, I'm off sugar.

The more I have the more I want, yet if I try to restrict how much, I just crave it all the more. In the meantime it makes me feel sick and bloated and I KNOW better than to eat too much of it, yet I just can't seem to stop myself. My grandmother and great-grandmother were both diabetic in their later years, and I feel like I'm on the fast tract to diabetes myself.

So since I can't just eat it in moderation, I won't eat it at all.

And I post this here to open myself up to public humiliation if I fall off the no-sugar train. Maybe fear of looking like an idiot will give me willpower where nothing else has.

Um, then again, when have I ever worried about looking like an idiot in public....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

happy birthday, Zoo Boy!

Zoo Boy celebrated his 9th birthday with a big party at a local park. We had pizza and cake inside the nature center with about 40 of our closest friends and family.

Auntie H and Mimi dressed Rosebud for the party. I didn't buy any of those clothes! (OK, so I bought the tights.) The headband (yes, I know it's ridiculous, she didn't have it on for very long) was a shower gift, the outfit itself is borrowed from a friend (who dressed her girls to the 9s when they were babies), and the purple paten leather shoes were a gift from my friend Penney. I can't believe I found an occasion for her to wear them....

After eating their fill of pizza, the party gang headed outdoors in the chilly March weather for some fun.

First they visited the animal barn and fed the animals.

Then they visited the sugar house and chatted with the person boiling the maple sap. This was particularly fun for those that had joined us for our sugaring unit.

Pat lead the "troops" in some military games for fun and warmth.

After coming inside to warm up and eat cake, the kids went out to the playground for awhile to burn off all that sugar.

The party wrapped up with Zoo Boy un-wrapping his gifts.

Rosebud thought it was all a little much and snoozed in Mimi's (and Grandma's) arms all afternoon. She made out almost as good as Zoo Boy did in the gift department as several of our friend brought her presents as well.

Fun afternoon! Thanks to all who came!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

creation paintings, day 5

Our final creation paintings inspired by Giving Thanks - A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp. What a wonderful week we had painting these! (See the previous 4 posts for the rest of the paintings.) All text is from that book, and the top painting is the example I painted while reciting the text, while the kids followed along -- J's is in the middle, Zoo Boy's at the bottom.

Elder Brother Sun, we send thanks for shining your light and warming Mother Earth.

Thank you, Grandmother Moon, for growing full every month to light the darkness for children and sparkling waters.

We give you thanks, twinkling stars, for making the night sky so beautiful and for sprinkling morning dew drops on the plants.

creation paintings, day 4

As before, all text from Giving Thanks - A Native American Good Morning Message, by Chief Jake Swamp. My painting on top, J's in the middle, Zoo Boy's at the bottom.

We give thanks to you, gentle Four Winds, for bringing clean air for us to breathe from the four directions.

Thanks you, Grandfather Thunder Beings, for bringing rains to help all living things grow.

creation paintings, day 3

Again, all text from Giving Thanks - A Native American Good Morning Lesson by Chief Jake Swamp. My painting at the top, J's in the middle, Zoo Boy's at the bottom.

Thank you, all the animals in the world, for keeping our precious forests clean.

All the trees in the world, we are thankful for the shade and warmth you give us.

Thank you, all the birds in the world, for singing your beautiful songs for all to enjoy.

creation paintings, day 2

All text is from Giving Thanks - A Native American Good Morning Address by Chief Jake Swamp. My painting is at the top, J's is in the middle, Zoo Boy's is at the bottom.

We give thanks to green grasses that feel so good against our bare feet, for the cool beauty you bring to Mother Earth's floor.

Thank you good foods from Mother Earth, our life sustainers, for making us happy when we are hungry.

Fruits and berries, we thank you for your color and sweetness. We are all thankful to good medicine herbs, for healing us when we are sick.