Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homeschooling Week 4: What Does the Fox Say?

This week was a bit rough but as usually we pushed through and ended up with some really great projects!

Language Arts: We are moving along in the language arts text book. This week we read a historical fiction piece about a little boy who comes to America from China and his time on Angel Island. Again there was a lot of comparing and contrasting. I am really hoping that we start a novel soon because this text book work is the opposite of what I wanted homeschooling to be. The Accelerated Reading website is back up and running as well as a reading log for the week. There is a book series by Julie Sternberg. I have been trying to get Phi to read them all summer and this week she picked up the 3rd and last book in the series and of course loved it. She went through them quickly and next library visit I hope she picks up the other 2.

Math: This week we started with the concept of algebra. I am very thankful that Phi seems to be really understanding the concept. She did another tutoring session and they seem to be going really well. Here is hoping math continues to be smooth sailing this year! Finger crossed everyone!

Social Studies: The first exam of the year! And by exam I mean it was the end of the chapter review questions that Phi had to answer. Joey and Phi worked 2 days on this and did a really great job. This means that our chapter on California and it's resources is done. Hoping that we continue learning about California!

Science: This week we talked about animal habitats, resources and competition. The assignment was to pick an animal and build a habitat. Phi picked the red fox. We made the habitat to show how foxes use underground dens.

Phi also had to present some information about her animal. At back to school night Phi's teacher told us about this site called "Powtoons". This site lets you make really cute powerpoint like presentations relatively easily. We used the site to make a this.......

Phi also has taking a liking to typing lessons. We are using the BBC Dance Mat site and she asks to "play" everyday. She is logging in a lot of typing minutes on her typing log. Speaking of logs we have 3 different ones that have to be turned in weekly. To make things easier for all of us I took the pdf versions the teacher sent us and used them as a template to make spreadsheets on google drive that are easy to fill-in and accessible from anywhere. 

So that about sums up week 4 for us! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Courtney Fire

People have been sending me messages all about the Courtney Fire in Madera County because it is burning at our beloved Bass Lake. I knew the fire was up in the hills between Bass Lake and Oakhurst. We have driven through that road a few times. I didn't think to much of it, there had just been a fire near there a month or so ago. 

Then someone sent me this....

I know that view so well. But last time I saw it, it looked like this.....

I was showing Joey this photos this morning and reading new about the damage that has been cause and the houses that have been lost. I feels like a family home is burning down. 

Monday, September 15, 2014


Over the weekend the whole high school crew was back together. After spending 4 years at Moorpark High attached at the hip we were finally reunited 20 years later. We were back in our hometown to celebrate Angela's wedding to her hunky Columbian.

It was an amazing time and I have to say that these ladies are just as fun, just as gorgeous and even more fantastic than I remember them to be. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Little Louie the Kind Hearted

See that empty bottle? It use to be about a quarter of the way filled up with pennies. When Louie was potty training she would get a penny for every successful potty break. It was our incentive program and she was very proud of the all those pennies. And because Louie is Louie she would also shake this bottle as a very effective way to wake up her sister in the morning.

At her sister's back to school night the teacher explained that there was a baby in our community named Cora. She was born with a rare disease and had already been through many surgeries. Baby Cora needed another one and her insurance company refuses to cover it. Our community has banned together to help and Phi's school is having a penny drive. Pennies for Cora.

That night my Louie found her beloved pennies and asked if she could give them to Baby Cora. The next day Phi took the bottle for Louie and added the pennies to Phi's class donation.

Under all that weirdness and crazy inside tiny Louie is a really big heart. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Homeschool: 4th Grade Week 3

Language Arts: Alright I am just going to say it. Working out of the textbook is so boring!! The Accelerated Reading website is back up so Phi was able to test on a book this week. This week we studied a little bit about poetry and comparing and contrasting different text. The fun project was to write a poem comparing and contrasting two different things she did over the summer. She did a great job!
*we caught the type-o before she turned it in!
Math: This week we worked on estimating and rounding numbers. Math is still a rough patch for us so we started sending Phi to the tutoring time at school on Friday mornings. She was only there for 30 minutes and she worked with a junior high kid, but she finished almost 3 pages. Those are 3 pages that we that we didn't have to struggle with. This made our week a lot easier!

Science: We learned all about food webs this week. We looked at different regions and how food webs work in each region. The assignment was to pick a region and develop a food web for it. Phi, as usual picked the Arctic. This kid loves that area and I love her food web! The poor fish!

Social Studies: We are continuing with learning about California and this week it was all about natural resources. We talked about nonrenewable, renewable and flow resources. Our project for this was a write a speech about how we can help conserve one natural resource. So naturally we took this a step further. Thanks to a lot of help from Uncle Matty and Tia Karla (it really takes a village!) we have this amazing speech....

A Message from President Sophia from Elissa Lerma on Vimeo.

We had a really great week! 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Beach Days are the Best Days

We spent the long weekend at my parents in Santa Barbara. My parents just bought a new house in SB so this was out last long weekend at their current house. It was a nice and relaxing weekend and on Monday we packed up and headed to the beach. Everytime we go to the beach I wonder why we are not there all day, everyday.

Sun, sand, surf.

It's perfection. I didn't think my happy place could get any better.

Then Phi caught her first wave and my heart exploded.

My parents new place is even closer to the beach. I hope for more family beach days. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Luke Bryan's Horrible Day: A comic strip by The Phi

The girls like to play that game where someone starts a story and everyone adds a part. While driving home we told a hilarious story all about country singer Luke Bryan and his tight pants. Earlier that day we had watched a video of him falling off the stage (again) so all our stories ended with 

"...and then Luke Bryan fell off the stage" 

We were cracking ourselves up and Phi said "I wish I could draw this!" and I suggested she make a comic strip. 

She did it and it's awesome. 

Top Left: LB is having a hard time writing a song. Please notice the full trash can.
Top Right: LB thinks some fresh air might help.
Bottom Left: He wanders outside to find a horse on the roof
Bottom Right: The horse falls and LB tries to catch it
Top Left: LB catches the horse
Top Right: Things get awkward
Bottom Left: The horse leaves
Bottom Right: LB notices his pants are dirty
Top Left: LB attempts to get his pants off to clean them but they are too tight. (typical LB!!)
Top Right: LB has an idea
Bottom Left: He decides to get his pants clean by showering in them.
Bottom Right: The plan backfires, his pants are now even tighter!
Top Left: LB can barely walk in his super tight pants
Top Right: The bottom of his pants get stuck in the door
Bottom Left: And his pants rip off!
Bottom Right: He heads to his concert and wants to celebrate with a ice cold beer and then Luke Bryan fell off the stage.

Friday, September 05, 2014

When Taylor Swift Helped Us Teach Life Lessons

The other day I picked up Phi from school (she goes to a classroom once a week for 3 hours) and as we were walking to the car I asked her how her day went. She said it went good except she couldn't get out of her head what one of her classmates had said. There are 4 kids in Phi's class, 2 boys and 2 girls. The last few weeks that has been doing math game type competition stuff, boys against girls. The girls had won 2 weeks in a row. On that particular day as Phi and the other girl were picking their prizes for winning the math game one of the little boys said to the girls...

"I don't know why you won, you're not good at anything" 

Poor Phi was so upset by this comment and it would have been a perfect moment to sit her down and have a long talk about sore losers and sore winners and how to be a gracious winner and how she needs to sometimes be the bigger person, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead I looked at her and simply said. 

"Haters gonna hate"

Phi nodded and I knew that she got it. See we have been listening to and watching the new Taylor Swift "Shake It Off"  video a lot. Phi loves the song and I dig the message. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

August Books and Gratitude

I kinda got my reading groove back in August thanks to some short reads. In  Book 43-48 were done!

43. She's Gone Country by Jane Porter: A fun and quick summer kinda read. It had enough drama and hot cowboys to keep me entertained.
44.Not Taco Bell Material by Adam Carolla: I think I have read everything this man has written. This book was told in order of the houses that he lived in. I love his straight forward no b.s way at looking at things.
45. Landline by Rainbow Rowell: ARGHH I loved this book. Last year I read Eleanor and Park and loved it. I read a few more of her books and was not as impressed. I am happy to report that this book was Eleanor and Park good! I even recommended it to 2 librarians! yes my nerd status is at a level where I give book recommendations to librarians.
46. My Wish List by Gregoire Delacourt: This best seller from, France was a really quick read. The story was really interesting. A woman wins the lotto and keeps it a secret from everyone. While she tries to figure out what she wants to do with the money her husband takes off and changes everything.
47.Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf: I picked up this book off the shelf because my sister is Little Mercy. This was another quick and good read that revolves around a social worker who leaves her infant daughter in a hot car, and a young runaway.
48.Actors Anonymous by James Franco: thank goodness he has acting to fall back on. This book was no bueno, but it was so bad that I could not put it down. I just had to know how much worse the book was going to get.

I'm Grateful.....

8/1/14: for my clever husband and his fix for the mower
8/2/14: for visits from my brother
8/3/14: rain in the desert
8/4/14: last movies in the park
8/5/14: my friend Karla from coming to our meeting to teach Zumba
8/6/14: bedtime
8/7/14: that they love library days as much as I do
8/8/14: it's friday
8/9/14: for the opportunities my cousin Ashley has ahead of her
8/10/14: silly Louie
8/11/14: the laughs he leaves behind
8/12/14: free wifi in waiting rooms
8/13/14: my healthy new great-nephew Artie the One Man Party
8/14/14: that they are daddy girls
8/15/14: tajin and fresh fruit
8/16/14: a sweet bottle of wine from Tia Picos
8/17/14: being there to witness family history
8/18/14: dinner with Kelly
8/19/14: my awesome new coffee mug (Thanks Karla!)
8/20/14: preschool workbooks for Louie
8/21/14: that she may want to dance one day
8/22/14: 8 years of life for my Twinsies!
8/23/14: a day with my family celebrating
8/24/14: a relaxing day at home
8/25/14: that she is into fruits
8/26/14: for my troop co-leaders
8/27/14: the opportunity to homeschool the kids
8/28/14: an opportunity to practice vocab words
8/29/14: chicken and waffles
8/30/14: a delicious and fresh start to the day
8/31/14: a sunny Sunday in Santa Barbara with smoothies.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Homeschool 4th Grade Week 2

This week was kinda tough thanks to the long weekend. We managed to get everything done!

Language Arts: We continued working on character traits and motivations with a focus on biography. We read from her book a story about Jackie Mitchell. A girl ballplayer who may or may not have struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But my favorite part of language arts this week came from vocabulary words. The word list was: legendary, muttered, gaped, flinched, snickering, glared, stunned, fluke. We try to encourage her to use her new words in real life. A day after we studied the vocab this happened....

Louie, being Louie was throwing her doll up in the air. It hit the ceiling fan and flew across the room and landed perfectly in the corner of the window curtains and was stuck there. The girls came running out to us and Phi used almost all her vocab words....

"Louie's doll landing there was a total fluke. I was stunned and stared at it with my mouth gaped and I muttered to myself 'legendary'."

Math: Ugh! I am so scared that math is going to be a complete nightmare this year. This week we reviewed rounding and using tables and graphs to answer questions. It sometimes feel like we are teaching her the concept all over again. It seems like there was little to no retention. It did not help that Math was given to us a day late so we had to squeeze on all 11 pages in 2 sessions. With math the more spaced out the better. I have also found that she really needs undivided attention when working on math, but at the same time she gets so frustrated when I have to explain the same things over and over. It is a battle this damn math. Her teacher will be offering tutoring time on Fridays and I think starting this Friday we will have her stay for 30 minutes just to work on math.

Social Studies: We are continuing learning about California and this week the focus was on the 4 different regions, desert, mountain, coast and central valley. This YouTube video that the teacher linked to is a good one...

For this lesson we took a stab at our first triangle diorama. Phi made a triangle section for each region and listed 2 different things we get from each region. Here is her final product. You can tell with this project that we were rushed for the week. She hit all the requirements but this project could have been a lot more fun and creative.

Science: Last week was all about consumers and producers and this week  we talked all about decomposers. Well of course we didn't just talk about them. Phi answered the questions from her worksheets. A second assignment was to compare and contrast 2 different decomposers. She chose mushrooms and earthworms. How stinking cute is her worm!

We also decided to take this lesson a step further and Phi and Poppa went on a mission to find live worms. Lo and behold Wal-Mart had them. Yesterday Phi and Poppa made a worm farm with newspaper, soil, worms and leaves.

I couldn't resist the dumb and dumber reference
Now we get to see these guys do the decomposing thing that they do.