Monday, February 21, 2011

Report Card

Well, I guess I would get a big, fat "F" if I were being graded on updating about what is going on with our school work. But, the kids would definitely get "As" for being amazing students. I'll just focus this update on this semester, and leave the last two months of last semester in the binders for my own reference.

As a reminder, Ruth's classes this year are:  Math, Writing, Grammar, History, Latin, Spelling, Science and Music. Weston's classes are: Math, Reading and Writing. (And Max, as an unofficial student, is working on ABCs and 123s and some amazing construction and railroad engineering).

Ruth struggled a bit last semester with getting her Math work done (not with the material but with motivation) and has been having to make some of that up this semester. She has also been focusing some of her attention on Algebra, which she really enjoys. She is looking forward to getting to do more of that now that she is caught up with her other stuff.

In Writing, Ruth continues to practice for her upcoming PSIA Ready Writing competition and to write amazing papers for the IEW portion of her Essentials CC class. She wrote a mini research paper last semester and has written a narrative paper and a critique paper this semester. That girl truly has a way with words, and it is a delight to read (and hear her read) the papers she writes.

Ruth continues to move through her Grammar, Latin and Spelling books at a brisk pace. And, she continues to practice Spelling words for PSIA.

A new competition for Ruth in PSIA this year is Music Memory, which she practiced quite a lot last semester. In January, she started taking piano lessons and has been spending more of her music class focusing on the pieces her teacher assigns each week. She loves her piano teacher and remembers a great deal of what she learned in piano lessons last year.

Ruth's Science focus this year is Chemistry, which has allowed us to do lots of really fun hands-on experiments, including making a cake today. Ruth is learning a lot about the Scientific Method and the "why" of a lot of every-day reactions.

Ruth has gotten into American History this year, which she really loves. She has spent some extra time taking in all the details of The American Revolution, the signing of the Declaration of the Independence and the Founding Fathers. She is fascinated by the lives of the presidents and loves to report to us interesting facts about their lives.

Aside from her regular school work, Ruth continues to enjoy reading on her own, and has completed a couple of AR posters (reading for a reward). The book she most recently finished was "Little Women," which she enjoyed immensely.

Weston loves his Math class, and does a great job with his worksheets and facts (which include addition and subtraction facts using zeros and ones,  and doubles addition facts). He was moving a little sluggishly through his fact cards at the beginning of the semester, until Jeff discovered that what motivates him is racing against the clock. His best "race" was probably 19 facts in one minute. He also loves to do worksheets and always asks to do another one when Math class should be over. He also declared the other day that he would really like to learn more about Calculus, after Jeff had given the kids a little Calculus lesson.

Weston is also doing a great job on his reading, and we can tell that he has improved a great deal just since the beginning of the semester. He has completed a couple of reading posters, which have allowed us to have some fun movie/pizza nights. He is currently working on his "16" poster and is a little over half-way done.

This semester, Weston is working on writing sentences in his Writing class. By copying sentences that I write out for him, he is learning how to write declarative sentences and interrogative sentences, as well as how to use commas and how to capitalize words when appropriate. It is amazing how much his writing skills have improved just since the beginning of the semester.

Both kids (and myself) are still loving our CC program, and we're all learning so much. I have even taken on a short stint at teaching the afternoon class (Weston's class) this semester, which has been a fun adventure.

I have recently revamped Ruth's school schedule to be more structured, and we are all finding it to be a great improvement to our school day.

So, that's the short version of what we've been doing with ourselves on the school front. We continue to be thankful for the opportunity to participate in this grand adventure we call homeschooling. And, while I'm not making any promises, I will try to be better about updating, for those of you who are interested.

Ruth's map of Ft. Pitt

American flag and revolutionary paper dolls

Ruth's CC watercolor painting

Weston's CC watercolor painting

first sentences

later sentences

adding doubles

math worksheet

Science Experiment

Friday, February 18, 2011

Best. Day. Ever.

Just ask my kids.

We played hooky from school and work, picked up some doughnuts and headed out to our land for a concrete party this morning. The crew started pouring concrete around 6:00 but were still in full-swing when we arrived around 8:00. The concrete pump truck was truly amazing, and the crew was so fun to watch in action. They used so many interesting tools and pieces of equipment, I thought the boys (all three of them) would pass out from excitement! In fact, at one point, Max was looking straight up at the boom of the pump truck and said, "That is so awesome! I'm going to have to sit down!" When we left for lunch, all the concrete was down, and the crew was busy with the process of smoothing. We came back after lunch to "leave our mark." And then the kids spent some time making a "fort" before we headed home for naps. It was an exciting day, and it's even more exciting to see our house coming together!

Doughnuts and chocolate milk

Truck of all trucks

pouring and spreading

troweling machine

knee sleds


the kids in their fort

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life made easier

Raise your hand if the question of what to have for dinner baffles you. O.k. now raise 'em if you just flat-out don't want to cook/don't have much time to cook. I've got both groups covered with this super-simple dish that is high on the yum factor and low on the time factor.

What you need:
8 chicken breasts
1 cup of catsup
1 largish can of tomato paste
2 cans of diet soda (I use Diet DP, of course, but you can anything you like, even diet orange)
some chopped onions
seasoned salt
garlic powder

What you do:
Sprinkle chicken with seasonings. Put it in a pan and brown it on both sides. Mix the other stuff together and pour it on the chicken. Let it simmer for around 45 minutes. To make it even easier, you could just throw everything in the crock pot. Round out the meal with rice, veggies and/or bread.

You can thank me later.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The house report

It's been a while since my last house report, but there continues to be slow, steady, mostly-forward progress. In my last report, I told you the septic had been installed. Well, shortly thereafter, it was uninstalled and reinstalled. Then, the dirt pad was put in place--not exactly perfectly, but with a little tweaking, it has become a nice place for our new house to sit. We also had dirt brought in for our driveway, sport court and front parking area. The electric poles have been set up, and the electricity is operational. This week, the plumber finished installing almost all of the necessary pipes and drains for the gas and water. And, the concrete people have dug all their trenches and laid some of their steel to reinforce the concrete, which should be poured by the end of next week, after a few adjustments have been made. Like last time, the pictures are not all that exciting, but they do show the progress, and they are helpful for us in keeping track of what's going on out there.

whole pad, looking from far corner of garage
looking toward kitchen and living room from garage

pipes and steel, looking from front door

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wonderful Words of Weston

The other day, Max thought it would be funny to say "What?" or "Huh?" to everything we said. He was really cracking himself up, when Weston commented, "We are going to have to start calling you 'Old Weston,'" referring to the time before his surgery when he couldn't hear.


We spent the weekend with my parents, and on Saturday night, my mom asked if the kids wanted to go to Sunday school in the morning. Weston quickly and emphatically answered, "That's fine, but I DO NOT want to be baptized!!" Having never even really talked to him about this topic and remembering that he had only seen a baptism while we were in Brazil, we were surprised that he had such a strong (negative) opinion. Since it came completely out of the blue, it caught us all off guard and touched our funny bones. Later, Ruth remembered that we had attended a special service with my parents almost a year ago, at a church they don't normally go to, where three people were baptized. This helped to clear up some of the story for us. I assumed his objection to being dunked was that he was being protective of his high-maintenance, tube-filled ears. But, it later came out that he did in fact want to be baptized "at some point--just not now and not at that church." Further probing revealed that the cause of his concern was that he "didn't want to be up in that window (baptistry)."


Ruth slacked off on some of her math assignments last semester and has been making up for lost time this semester by doing her regular math lesson in the morning and a make-up lesson after her other school work is finished. For her, it hasn't been all that fun. However, for Weston, this seemed like the greatest injustice. He got all teary the other day, saying, "I wish I could have two math classes like Ruth!"

(And, guess what? We got out the math book and let that boy do another math lesson)!


A conversation with Dad

Weston: I wish I could have a job like you.

Dad: Oh yeah? What kind of job would you like to have when you're my age?

Weston: Either a builder or a librarian.

Dad: Really? I didn't know you were interested in being a librarian. What do you like about that job?

Weston: Well, I'd like to do that job because all the other ones [librarians] are grumpy.


A story by Weston

A sock wanted to go to a show, and he was trying to find someone to go with him. He asked a pair of underwear, and the underwear said, "I'd really like to go, but I'm too busy keeping someone's private parts warm." So, the sock asked a jacket...

[here Max interjects, "Jacket. That's a really nice name!" And the story goes no further because no one can catch their breath for laughing so hard--both at the story and at the commentary].

Monday, February 07, 2011

Snow Day

The kids were disappointed to find that the promised snow for Friday didn't settle much on us out here at the lake. But, they were thrilled to find that there was still plenty of snow at their grandparents' house when we arrived there on Friday afternoon.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


A few days ago my watch gave up the ghost and suddenly refused to give me the time of day. This is a serious problem for me, for a couple of reasons. One is that I really need like to keep up with the passing of time. It just adds a certain order to my day that makes everything make sense. And especially as I try to keep track of what's going on with our school day. The other problem is that I'm allergic to most metals, so I usually can't just run out and buy a new watch. I either have to wear real gold or 100% plastic, neither of which are super-easy to find just anywhere. So, I made a plan to do some watch shopping...when I had some time. 

Unfortunately, we were victims of the rolling blackouts yesterday and our power blinked off about every hour for most of the day. With no working watch and blinking clocks all over the house, I nearly went insane. 

Unrelated errands took me to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon, and I decided to peruse the jewelry department while I was there. They had exactly one all-plastic woman's watch in stock, and the price was certainly right, so I added it to the cart, as a temporary fix to the timelessness I was experiencing. It's quite a classy little thing that only barely fits me. 

Jeff took one look at it when I got home, and insisted that we sit down together and do some online watch shopping. He was actually embarrassed to have my wrist thus attired. After looking most of the evening, we found a watch we both loved and ordered it. Jeff is already encouraging me to pass the plastic one along to one of the children. But, I will wear it proudly until my new one arrives. Because if there's one thing I definitely don't want to be, it's "timeless."