Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homeschool Week 1: Bears Are Real

So this year we have decided that our lives were not complicated enough this school year we are homeschooling both girls. This will be the only year that we do this so we have committed to it and have dove in head first at full force. So this year our Homeschool Weekly Recaps will show both girls work.

Louie- Kinder- Week 1

Language Arts: We are starting right in the middle of the alphabet with the letters "Mm" and "Ss". We worked on the sounds, and how to write each letter. Louie and Poppa even did a scavenger hunt around the house looking for things that start with M.

And then we made a collage of all the S cartoon characters we could think of.

Reading: We talked about how when you read and write you go from left to right and from top to bottom. We also discussed what an author does and what an illustrator does. Louie took 6 books from her book shelf and we found the name of the author and the illustrator.

Writing: For writing we are starting with her name. Louie has been able to write her name for awhile now but we worked on practicing it. We need to work on the "E". She always writes it with a capital e.

Math: This week was all about counting up to 5 and recognizing the numbers 0 and 1. Louie and Poppa spent some time sorting things into groups of 5. Her favorite was the marshmallows! We did a lot of worksheets and counted everything we could!

Social Studies: The topic this week was rules yet turned into a lesson about bears. Louie and I sat down and folded a piece of paper in 4ths. I asked her to give me 4 different places, she chose the car, the farmers market, her classroom and a camp ground. Then we listed 5 rules for each place. We talked about how we have rules in place to keep everyone safe. When we got to camping it got interesting. We discussed how packing away food at night is a rule to keep people safe from bears. The Louie looks up at me with her sly little smile and says...

"Mom, bears aren't real"

Yup my 5 year old, who has been camping a few times, who has been to the zoo and has even seen a polar bear at Sea World, believed that bears were like unicorns and Big Foot. This lead to a lot of YouTube videos and discussion about bears and where the live. Like a real forest, not an enchanted one. 

Science: We started out with the basics, like what is a scientist and what do they do. We went through the little worksheet packet with all the things a scientist can do. Things like ask questions, observe, record, and teach!

We knew that working with Louie would be a challenge and we were right. She is a bit harder to keep focused but all in all she did a really great job for week 1.

Phi- 5th Grade- Week 1

Language Arts: We jumped right in with a novel. Phi is reading "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen. A story about a young boy who is the sole survivor in a plane crash. Phi read chapters 1-4 this week along with a short writing assignment for each chapter.

We also had a project this week. She had the choice from a list of ideas. She picked "Packed-In" She had to back a single backpack with camping essentials. She made a list and her and Poppa packed up a very heavy backpack.

Math: Oh the dreaded dreaded math. We started this year with order of operations and writing expressions. We studied the difference between expressions and equations.  This year there is a workbook she will be working out of as well as the website "LearnZillion". For this site we punch in a code that the teacher gives us and we get a short video on the math topic. It's already caused some drama but not too bad. Yet....

Social Studies: 5th grade is the year of state capitals and state reports. Her teacher decided to get all that out of the way first. I like that. So this week Phi made her very own flashcards for the state capitals. She picked the first 10 and we started in with the memorization. We only have 3 weeks to get it all done so we need to pick up the pace! She also picked Hawaii for her state report. We have a list of things that need to be included in her report but she can present it any way she chooses. She has decided to do her own news cast. This project is going to be fun!

Science: We are going back to the basics just like Louie. We are talked about what scientist to and the scientific method. She did a little vocabulary words and then as a creative project she has a choice of prompts. She picked "a mad scientist mixes up potions." She wrote a script and asked her cousin Lili to help act it out. That god-daughter of mine is so stinking funny. Of course Louie steals the show...

So week 1 is in the books. Time to plan week 2! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Because Of Course It's A.....The Big Gender Reveal

We had a lot to celebrate over the weekend. The first exciting event was the big gender reveal. My little sister Elaine is 21 weeks pregnant and had just had her big 4 month ultra-sound. The tech wrote down the gender and put it in a sealed envelope. My sister took that envelope to a baker and had a cake made. On Saturday we poured sparkling cider and sparkling wine and Elaine and Kelly cut the cake. The frosting center would tell us if the family was getting a boy or girl....

Of course it's a girl. My family is full of girls. With this new baby girl the count is..

Boys: 6
Girls: 9

I also want to note that 3 of those boys married in and 1 was adopted in. 

We are so excited to be getting a brand new baby girl in the family. Her last ultrasound was hands down the cutest ultrasound picture I have ever seen. This little girl is so loved. 

And after some time to absorb the news Kelly is now on #Teamgirl

Friday, August 21, 2015

I Don't Think I Can Do This

I must have thought those words about 100 times over the last couple of days. I knew coming into this school year that it would require some adjustments. We were going from homeschooling 1 kids to 2 kids. It had been on the back of my mind all summer, but I was able to push it deep down into the back of my subconscious. Then the girls had their first session and both came home with folders filled with the first weeks worth of work. I sat there with a pile of paperwork and a whole list of things that would have to get done in 7 days. I almost broke down in tears.

I will admit it that I had a mini panic attack. It was overwhelming. Like made me dizzy overwhelming. 5th grade work is intense. Right off the bat we have a novel to read, all the states and capitals to memorize, a state report, and new math concepts to learn. And then there is Louie. I thought kinder would be easy and then I realized that we will be teaching her the foundation of everything she will ever learn. This time around we are responsible for teaching her her letters and numbers. If we get this wrong she will never be academically successful.

I told Joey how I was feeling and I had him reassure me that I always feel like this the first few days. Getting into a new routine is going to be hard. We are only 2 days in and we have accomplished a lot but it's still scary and intimidating. I am still wondering if we could really do this.

But deep down I know that we can. That I will juggle a full-time job, a household, 2 blogs,and teaching 5th and kindergarten. The days are going to be too short and there may be times when we just don't get it all done and that's going to be okay.

I am so very happy to have this opportunity to homeschool my girls. I only have them at home with me for a short time. They are only kids for a few years. We are only going to homeschool up until 5th grade so this time is limited. It's hard and frustrating and seems impossible at times, but worth it.

So worth it.

I get to be with my kids everyday thanks to this charter school and to the amazing business I work for. I really believe that this will help my girls to become the best people they can be.

For these faces I will do anything.....

.... even teach 5th grade math. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Day Jitters

Summer is now over. 

As of Tuesday the girls are officially in school. Yes girls, plural. Both kids are in school now. We are back at the same charter school we have been attending. Phi is now in 5th grade and Louie started kinder. This means that we are starting another year of homeschooling. Each girl will have a big group session. Louie for 2 hours and Phi for 3 hours. And then each girl will have a one on one 50 minute session with their teacher each week. Everything else will be at home with Joey and I. This is Phi's last year being homeschooled and Louie's first. 

I can't believe that this is Phi's 8th year of school. She started at just 3 years old. Over the years she has proven to be such a smart girl. I feel really lucky to get the chance to homeschool her. To get to be with her while she is growing up. Next year she starts junior high and things will undoubtedly change. So this year I am going to cherish it. Even the times with the tears and frustrations (aka Math). I am going to cherish them. 

And my baby. My teeny tiny little baby. It is so unreal that Louie is in kinder. How is that possible? For the last week or so I have been pretty sad about this. I felt like the carefree innocence of childhood era of Louie's life is over. She would have responsibilities and schedules.

It also felt like an era of Joey and I's life was ending. All our kids are in school. There are no more little ones. We are no longer that new family starting out. We are deep into parenting now. We are in the thick of it and next comes the teen years and then that's it. The first part is done and that's kind of sad. Mostly because I can't believe that Joey and I are old enough to be in that phase.

I am trying to turn my mentality around and see this as a really good thing. That this can be the best part of parenting. Although my parents will tell you that grandkids are the best part of parenting.

I am so proud of my girls. Phi has made us so proud and we are all going to work together to make 5th grade the best year yet. And our Louie. I can't wait to see how she lets her creativity and imagination help drive her education.

So here we go again. Wish us luck. We are going to need it. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Dreaded Period Talk

Oh the joys of being a Mom to girls. At the girls last doctor's appointment I asked the doctor when it was time to start the menstruation talk with Phi. Since I "became a woman" at 11, turns out the time is now. So I checked out books from the library. Reviewed all the anatomy of it all and on Saturday I dove in and had the talk with Phi. 

I went for the no-nonsense, straight forward talk. We went through the why and the how and the when and talked about and showed her the supplies. I told her my hilarious story about the first time I tried a tampon. Eventually she asked how an egg becomes a baby and I told her that that was part of discussion we would be having in another few years because it was all about sex and that talk comes later in life. 

I think it went well. I really emphasized how every single woman goes through this and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. When we went to the grocery store the next day we went through the sanitary napkin (i have never liked that term!) aisle to look at all the options. 

It was awkward and I think Phi was a bit grossed out by the whole thing but we got through it. Later Phi showed me some of her latest drawings. I think she summed up our experience perfectly...

We started the discussion with the anatomy and apparently that part was memorable.

I remember how confusing it all was.

I just realized that because we had girls Joey got out of potty training, menstruation talk and most like the s-e-x talk. Lucky bastard.

And of course Louie was eavesdropping most likely the entire time. Later that day we had this conversation...


Good save. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dirt Road Diary: Black Mountain Fire Tower

Last weekend we took a last minute off-road trip up Black Mountain Road near Idyllwild. We have taken this trail before and it's so close to the house, it's one of my favorites. This time Uncle Matty wanted to take us up to the Fire Tower. We were not prepared for the gorgeousness that awaited us.

Driving the trail. I love this dirt road.

We took a left turn and parked at this amazing secluded campground. We are thinking about doing a weekend camping trip up there. Then we started a 1/4 mile hike up. That is a sugar pinecone in Louie's hand!

Everywhere you looked there were breathtaking views. I mean seriously it's like a postcard!

This morning Louie insisted she wear her hair completely down. This was one of those pick your battle moments so I just let her wear her hair down. Of course she flipped her hair all dang day.

The tower is only open until 5pm and we got started on the trail a little after 4:30. 

Hair, hair, everywhere...

The kids did a great job up the trail. I have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck and the pain was radiating through my shoulder, back, arms and especially right leg. But it gave me time to take pictures like this.

A tiny bird house on the top of a mountain. How cute. 

And the hike was so worth it. We rounded the last corner and came up to the fire tower. 

There is Uncle Matty, Poppa, Phi and Louie at the top of the tower. 7,772 feet in elevation. This tower is run by volunteers. They get to stay in the tower. There is a tiny stove, a bed and 360 views. Views like this...

Our traditional picture of the boys. I have one from every off-roading trip.

Then it was time to head back down.

So sappy.

Full moon sighting.

 After we headed back down the mountain we made a stop at Lake Fulmor. One of these day we are going to have to take the girls there to go fishing.

There is something about the algae in the water that makes it look black and makes it super reflective and make pictures look like mirror images.

What a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LACMA: Levitated Mass

On the last Friday of our vacation we wanted to do one more fun adventure. We were trying to figure out where we should go when Phi walked into our room and said "I feel like going to an art museum". Well you don't have to ask us twice when it comes to art museums so we decided to use the kids NextGen cards at LACMA. 

The NextGen cards are such an awesome deal. You can enroll your kids with a simple on-line form and they send you a card for each child. Each card gets in 1 child and 1 adult into LACMA for free. All the time. You can enroll here. Of you still have to pay for parking ($12.00) but entrance to the museum was free. 

Before heading into the galleries we did a short walk around the La Brea Tar Pits park. 

And we walked over to see this amazing art installation called "Levitated Mass" by artist Michael Heizer. The installation is a 456 foot long concrete walkway that dips. And at the lowest part of the dip above is a 340 TON granite megalith.

Obligatory photo.

Moving the giant rock was an 11 day event. It traveled over 100 miles to get to LACMA.

Walking under the massive boulder is quite the experience. The girls loved it.

Of course a trip to LACMA is not complete without a picture inside of "Urban Lights" by Chris Burden.

Of course the kids were a big fan of "Penetrable" by Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto.

We wandered the galleries with the Latin American gallery being my favorite.

These kids and their maps. Just like their Father.

I really loved this big bright piece called "La Gerbe" which was Matisse's last commissioned work.

Louie not so much.

And this tiny piece is the reason I go to LACMA. "Weeping Coconuts" by Frida Kahlo. Done in 1951 this is one of my favorites.  I could stare at her work for hours. I love to look at the brush strokes.

We got to introduce the kids to some awesome pop art like Warhol and Lichenstein.

After our time at the museum we headed over to The Grove. We let the girls roam the American Girl doll store.

And take a ride on the trolley.

We ended our LA adventure in Alhambra and had dinner at Noodle World with cousin Amorette.

A great way to wind down our summer vacation.