Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I smell a challenge

The 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, that is! I think I've decided not to take on the Jane Austen and Well-Educated Mind challenges at the same time, but there will definitely be some Austen and WEM recommendations among my 52. Because I already have so many books on my personal to-read list, I'm going to start listing my 52 here and add/cross off as the challenge progresses. Here we go (in no particular order):

  1. Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning (Deborah Stipek Ph.D., Kathy Seal)
  2. Mind in the Making (Ellen Galinsky)
  3. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie)
  4. Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch (Dai Sijie)
  5. Consequences (Penelope Lively)
  6. The Road to Lichfield (Penelope Lively)
  7. Moon Tiger (Penelope Lively)
  8. The Angel's Game (Carlos Ruiz Zafón)
  9. Mr. Hartston's Most Excellent Encyclopedia of Useless Information: The Supreme Miscellany of Fantastic Facts (Harry Oliver)
  10. Bad Mother (Ayelet Waldman)
  11. The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen)
  12. How to Be Alone (Jonathan Franzen)
  13. The Discomfort Zone (Jonathan Franzen)
  14. Dreaming in Hindi (Katherine Russell Rich)
  15. The Scenic Route (Binnie Kirshenbaum)
  16. The Line of Beauty (Alan Hollinghurst)
  17. The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)
  18. The Kitchen House (Kathleen Grissom)
  19. The Violets of March (Sarah Jio)
  20. The Winter Sea (Susanna Kearsley)
  21. The Lost Wife (Alyson Richman)
  22. The Greater Journey : Americans in Paris
  23. Great Expectations (Dickens)
  24. Sense & Sensibility (Austen)
  25. Walden (Thoreau)
  26. Gulliver's Travels (Swift)
  27. Mansfield Park (Austen)
  28. Pride & Prejudice (Austen)
  29. The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 (Tuchman)
  30. Blue Nights (Joan Didion)
  31. The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)
  32. Salvador (Joan Didion)
  33. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  34. Heart of the Sea
  35. Drowning Ruth
  36. A City So Grand (Puleo)
So that's what I have so far. Some are ambitious (Walden, for example, has defeated me twice so far), and many will be a snap. I'm just so excited to have a goal to get myself reading more!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Weekly Report--10/8/11

I almost forgot that I wanted to start doing these again! Our weeks end on Saturday; we take Thursdays and Fridays off because those are DH's days off, and Saturdays are our "extra stuff" days (logic exercises, history and Latin tests, math games, etc.). So my Weekly Reports will usually be on Saturdays.

After I dumped all my frustration in this morning's blog post, I took a good look at the day's schedule and realized that we're not quite as far behind as I thought we are. I expected today to be a complete loss, but I forgot that Saturdays are relatively easy days anyway. And B turned out to be feeling a bit better today, so mean mama that I am, I made the girl work!

This week was our first week back to school for the 2011-2012 year. Thankfully we school year-round, so I'm not as under-the-gun as I might be otherwise! We had other firsts this week too: our first Latin lessons, our first week of formal work for J, and our first meeting of the Mother-Daughter Book Club (MDBC). Our first MDBC selection was A Little Princess, which B was sure she'd hate. Turns out she loves it as much as I did when I was her age! We read the first five chapters, then we went to Panera for an early morning breakfast to discuss it. B loved the grown-upness of it all and can't wait to do it again. She's even looking forward to the other books I picked out so far (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William Mckinley, and Me, Elizabeth).

Latin was...interesting. There was a meltdown or two initially, but once we got the hang of the LfC style, things smoothed out. I think next week will go even better than this past week did.

J's liking her work. She re-memorized The Caterpillar from First Language Lessons, which she's quite proud of. And while FLL didn't work AT ALL for B at that age (she hated the repetition), J is thriving on it. She loves to do her handwriting workbook, though she's still struggling with forming her letters. And we've read three books together for the Mother-Daughter Read-Along Club (MDRAC)--I read a page and she reads a page, and when we finish, we add the book to her achievement list.

As for the rest--math, WWE, geography, etc.--we're cruising along. We're still not getting to all the subjects on our schedule (mainly science), but I'm tweaking in the hope that we'll begin fitting them in. I got some great advice on my favorite HSing board, so hopefully the changes will help :-)

On to a new week!

Behind already?!

Argh!!! I need one of the "banging head on wall" emoticons. We are already behind, and it's only (for us) Day 6 of the dratted school year. Day 1 was a beautiful day. On Day 2, J got sick--AGAIN! B was acting sick too, and melted down when I tried to do school work with her, so I scrapped the day figuring we were all going to get hit. Turns out B was not sick; she was just not prepared to do schoolwork when "Avatar: The Last Airbender" was on the TV upstairs. So on Day 3, we had a little talk about it, and school went on as planned. Even J, who had just a 24-hour bug, asked to do her schoolwork again. Lots of work (but still not all of it--that's a whole other blog post) got done over the next few days. We even did some catch-up work on Thursday, which is supposed to be an off day. However...on Friday, B woke up miserable and mopey, and I thought it was just because we had co-op that day. She ended up at Mimi and Bubba's house for the day, and by 5:00, it was apparent that the 24-hour bug had finally reached her. Poor kid still had a temp of 101.4, even with 300 milligrams of ibuprofen in her!

So here we are on Day 6, with a full slate of work to do, and I have a sick kid who's doubly miserable because two of her favorite cousins are in town visiting, and she's too sick to go over and play :-( I'm miserable because we're falling behind again. J, our little thumb-sucking, germ-harboring patient zero, is happy though, because she has dance today AND she's well enough to go visiting with my mom.

Vitamins and hand sanitizer for all *sigh*

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First official day of the 2011-2012 school year

Yes, we're late. Very late, in fact. We were traveling at the end of the summer, and while we did some "beach school" in North Carolina, we didn't plant to start our school year until the third week of September. Then I got sick. Then both kids got sick. Then Dennis got sick. The house was was a wreck from all the sickness. Then our school year social schedule launched (as well as the new co-op we're a part of this year)...and, well, needless to say, we're getting a later start than I'd really planned! But we're back as of today, and the train is roaring full speed ahead.

J was totally gung-ho to get back to schoolwork today and kept asking me for more. We didn't get all her work done, but we got FLL, Funnix, and handwriting done.

B was less than totally gung-ho, but she plugged away diligently, and we got math, WWE, geography, and GWG done. Miraculously, we also did our first-ever Latin lesson! It was really interesting and kind of fun--at least for me, given my background with Spanish and (some) Italian. B was a little overwhelmed by the whole thing, but she really enjoyed seeing the connection between Latin and many of the words we use every day, and she liked hearing me connect Spanish and Italian words to the Latin words as well.

Due to a glitch in my online order, my Dynamic Literacy student books still haven't arrived, so we'll have to start that tomorrow. I also didn't manage to get science scheduled in, so we'll start that tomorrow too. Thankfully, we tend to school year-round to make our schedules a bit more flexible, so even with our late start, we should still be able to wrap fourth grade up in a reasonable amount of time (i.e., in time to start fifth grade!).

In other news, J is really enjoying both her dance and singing classes, and the co-op is going well. We're eager to get going on a bunch of fun outings we've booked via Groupon and Living Social (Please Touch Museum, the much-loved Bronx Zoo, etc.), we have an upcoming trip to the excellent Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, and the homeschool days at the Adventure Aquarium are coming. And we have some of our favorite family members arriving in town this week.

I'm already exhausted!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our bundles of joy

The eggs laid by the mourning doves that made a nest on our fence post hatched about a week ago. It's just been in the last few days that the parents have felt comfortable leaving the nest without the other parent right nearby. Tonight we got a good shot of the little ones in the nest alone. Personally, I think they're too young to be left without supervision. Dennis and I are debating whether we should make a call to DYFS or not!

Goodbye sad landscaping, hello giant water bill

We just had some of our landscaping redone, much to our neighbors' relief. Here are some pics:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Recent Developments

Here's what we did today (and we squeezed a little Girl Scouts in between):

Untitled from Unlikely Schoolhouse on Vimeo.

Untitled from Unlikely Schoolhouse on Vimeo.

And here they are with their bling:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fourth Grade Is Starting to Take Shape

Now I know why so many people say they take the whole summer to plan. It's very difficult to plan AND finish off the school year! But we're plugging away. Science is going to wrap into fourth grade no matter what, so all I'm really feeling pressed to finish are math, history, and WWE, and we can make it happen. Anyway, next year is going to be jam-packed. Here's the Tall Oaks Academy curriculum for the 2011-2012 fourth grade year:

  • Logic: Logic Countdown and whatever I can squeeze in via this free resource I downloaded a long time ago (Brainy Acts, or something?)
  • Spelling: All About Spelling (Bella doesn't really need this, but Julie will enjoy, and Bella will benefit from listening in anyway)
  • Literature: Mother-Daughter Book Club (Bella and I will do mini-discussions off a book list that I still need to put together)
  • Bi-weekly or monthly artist and composer studies (very light, just for exposure--I already have a bunch of materials and picture study has been a huge hit in the past).
(Disclaimer: I'm not an affiliate for any of these programs; I just like links and find them helpful on others' blogs.)

I still have to pull together my Book Club reading list and the stuff for the artist/composer studies. I'm also currently trying to unravel the Gordian Knot that is Homeschool Tracker Plus in the hope that it will help me stay sane next year. I'll post more as I put those things together. For now, the list above is the culmination of hours and hours of research and decision making (and For Sale board trawling!).

Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It has been a very long three weeks

Julie's behavior has been absolutely horrible these last few weeks. For awhile I'd felt like we made a turnaround, and then things just slid back downhill. After talking with my mom for awhile about it today, I realized that she was on pink and purple liquid fever reducers for a few days, then pink antibiotics for over a week, then it was Easter (candy galore, even though I tried to monitor), and then we just made the mistake of allowing a few things we shouldn't have (tiny pink marshmallow bunnies, anyone?), and then my mom accidentally gave her Triscuits (TRISCUITS?! Why do Triscuits need food dyes?!) that had red in the seasoning. All in all, it has been a very, very long few weeks.

There have been a lot of studies on the effects of artificial food dyes on children, dating back to the 1970s. Some showed that food dyes could cause behavioral problems in children, and others didn't. But a few years ago, an analysis of 21 of the most conclusive studies found compelling evidence that, indeed, artificial dyes could contribute to hyperactivity, restlessness, and attention problems in some children – particularly those with ADHD. What's more, the studies suggested that removing dyes from those children's diet was a quarter to half as effective in reducing those symptoms as giving the kids Ritalin or other stimulants. In other words, certain kids with ADHD might not need drugs if the artificial dyes were removed from their diets.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Almost-Wordless Wednesday: A Rare Moment of Camaraderie

I was taking too long to get to them at bedtime (coincidentally, responding to a WTM post about bizarre and humorous ways of dealing with sibling squabbling). When I finally headed into J's room, this is what I found:

B was reading to J--something she rarely does--from Miss Spider's Treasury. It was a welcome change of pace!

(Just pretend you don't see the mess in the background, mmmkay? Thanks!)