Saturday, October 18, 2008

pumpkins and pomegranates

Its just another rainy Tuesday (oooao), wish it were Sunday (oooao), cuz that's my fun day (oooao), just another rainy Tuesday...think The Bangles circa 1986. I haven't been sleeping enough can you tell!

Well, since I last blogged Nova and Isaac celebrated and accomplishment! They finished their first phonics workbook. I am using a series called Explode the Code. They are actually doing a 3 book set called Get Ready, Get Set, Go for the Code. So they just finished Get Ready and are working on Get Set! They were very proud of themselves!

We were super blessed to have my family come visit us for the second week in a row!!!! This time my mom and sister Kimberly came up and they brought Madilynn with them. I love love love having them here at my house. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day and the kids showed Madi how to jump in the leaves. She loved it of course.

The very next day was International Day. One of the homeschool families put together a day for families to come present information on a country that they have studied. We of course presented China. Bella, Nova and Isaac gave a brief but wonderful presentation. It was so cute and a great opportunity for them to share what they have been learning and hear from others. We were very very impressed with the work that other families had done. We hope to do it again next year. After the presentations we enjoyed an ethnic potluck dinner. Each family prepared recipes from their country. There was a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy. I have yet to perfect the art of uploading videos to the blog. It never accepts mine for some reason but the video of the presentation is on my Youtube page and you can see it by clicking here.

We were blessed to have the opportunity the next day to go visit Jason's side of the family for his mom's 50th birthday! It was so good to see them all. They boys especially loved playing with their cousins. They are all getting so big! The past few weeks the kids have been working very hard at recess time on building forts in the woods. We cleared out some branches and trash in the woods behind our house and they have a neat place under some branches. They also have been hard at work building a "tepee" of sorts against a tree like their friends Cal, Leah, James and Lily have at their house.

We got to get together with our old neighbors this past week too. We hadn't seen them in a long time either. Stephanie was one of my best buddies at our old house. She would come over and help me with the kids and play with them or just hang out with me. I loved having her around so much. It was heart wrenching to leave her and her wonderful mom Kristin. I couldn't have asked for better neighbors. Kimberly had been the summer babysitter for Stephanie and her brothers for a few years before they moved in so we already knew and loved Steph and her brothers. It was a joy getting to know their mom. I should have known such great kids had to have a great mom. We were so excited when they invited us to go pumpkin picking. It was great to catch up...and eat ice cream from the creamery.

On Sunday the kids had a performance at church. They had been practicing for weeks and they sang a few songs for everyone. I have a video of one of the songs that you can see on youtube if you click here. There were a lot of families who couldn't make it that day so we were missing a lot of our friends but they did a great job. They are just so cute!

After church we had an impromptu field trip thanks to some wonderfully generous friends who took us out to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant, the Amazing Pavilion. The kids all sat together at their own table and shared a pupu platter. They ate with chopsticks and talked a little to Anna, our favorite waitress, about China (she's from there). Mika fell asleep and napped in an authentic Chinese restaurant bed. Next week we will be talking a little more in depth about Chinese food and how different it really is in China. Now we'll have our restaurant experience to reflect on.

Yesterday my college roommate Becky came to visit with her two beautiful children. She is a teacher at a charter school in the Hill towns. She teaches a k/1 class. Being a full time teacher she doesn't have a lot of extra time for visits but she made time on her day off to come see us and since it was a school day for us she did a lesson for us. For the kids it was neat to have a guest teacher and for me to be able to "co-teach" with one of my best friends was great. We hadn't taught together since an internship our sophomore year in a 5th grade math class and back then we didn't really know what we were doing. We've come a long way. Becky's lesson was great. She had the kids estimate how many seeds were in our giant pumpkin then we cut it open and took a look and estimated again, then we grouped all of the seeds into groups of 10 and counted them. Isaac was the closest estimate. He guessed 400 and there were 506. We've eaten almost all of them! Hopefully we won't let another 6 months go by before we see them again.

Let's see, anything else...Well, we are continuing to study China. Like my blog template, notice all of the cool China pictures at the top. This week we are focusing on Ancient China. Bella and Hannah are making a lapbook for it and we are focusing on a really cute book about camels in Asia called Cappy the Lonely Camel. It has sparked lessons on list making, nicknames, adverbs, and camels. Last week we did Tikki Tikki Tembo which is always fun.

Isaac and I massacred a pomegranate last night. It was the first time I ever bought one and actually ate the seeds. I like when I can share first times with my kids. I think that's cool. Anyway, Isaac was the only one besides who really liked the seeds so we munched a bunch. We saved a serving for the kids to share at school today. When discussing them from a sensory perspective we decided they looked like little red corn kernels, and tasted like sour strawberries. I don't even know if they were all the way ripe, I have nothing to compare it too, but I thought it was yummy.

By now, due to my intermittent blogging throughout this cold day, it is night. It is no longer raining. It is snowing...hard...I don't want to talk about it. I'm just telling you so you can feel bad for me, knowing how sad snow makes me. I mean COME ON, IT'S STILL OCTOBER!!!!!! If you are like my cousin Crystal and you are happy about snow, please don't talk to me about it. I don't like being antagonized. Here is a picture of what it is like at my house right now. If you look closely you can still see my beautiful's just not right.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

a little red school house

It's a rainy day and we are having indoor recess which gives me a minute to start this blog. We have been so busy doing fun things to blog about that I haven't had the time to actually sit down and blog. Some of my friends (like Alison) blog almost daily, I don't know how she does it! I guess it is just my style to put things off and then do a ton at once. I do that with cleaning too...I put it off until I have so much to do it takes a whole day. I have some wise OCD friends who encourage me to do a little everyday so that it never gets that bad, but try as I may I can never seem to get in the habit. I guess it just boils down to the fact that I hate to clean and would rather spend one day miserable all day then everyday miserable a little lol.

Anyway, as I said we have had an action packed few weeks here at TLC Academy! The list is long and this blog will be too so be prepared. Picking up where we left off, a few weeks ago we went apple picking at a beautiful orchard up the road. The trees were heavy with their red ripe gems of sweetness and we picked until our hearts were content. It didn't take long with 4 adults, 1 teenager, 5 kids and a toddling chicken (Mika loves to dress up in costumes). We had 20 lbs per family in no time! After indulging in sugar coated cider donuts we were ready to depart when we found out that we could also pick raspberries! They have a summer patch and a fall patch so away we went and picked until our hearts were content again. Amira was particularly happy because she LOVES raspberries. None of us knew you could pick fall berries so it was a nice surprise and as Amira put it, it was like a big hug from God.

After receiving a gift certificate to from doing some game surveys, I decided to buy each of my kids a small gift to reward them for their hard work so far in school this year. Isabella got a Littlest Petshop set for working so diligently everyday. Isaac got a toy Yoda for being so attentive during school and Ian got a light saber for being such a great helper with Mika during school. Yes, the Star Wars obsession continues and yes, I have contributed to the madness. It was so much fun to surprise the kids with gifts. They were so appreciative and excited. I love blessing my kids!

The boys only have 2 more soccer games. It's been a lot of fun for all of us. Jason has been such a great coach and the kids are all doing a great job. Isaac perfected the slide tackle w/o ever being taught and Ian tries to move the ball around the field with his "super powers." The boys often wrestle spontaneously on the field. As you can imagine, it has been very entertaining to watch.

This hug soon hit the ground in a full blown wresting match for Isaac and Ian.
Hannah had the honors of losing the first tooth at TLC Academy this year. I promised her a "tooth prize" and let Bella and Isaac pick it out at the dollar store for her. It was a very becoming orange wig.

On a beautiful fall day we got outside to paint a lovely fall mural. I gave the kids red, yellow and green paint, taped a long piece of paper to our toy shed and let them go to town. They were very cooperative and creative. The mural was a masterpiece.

My sister Angela and niece Madilynn came up for a visit last week. We went to Balance Rock and walked around for a bit. It's really an amazing rock, it seems to defy gravity. It's a shame it's covered with graffiti. It was a little difficult because Madilynn wants to do everything the big kids do. She has no fear. She would race right past all of the Corbetts to the top of the rock if we let her. We also foraged for wild apples to make cider. We didn't get very many but it was fun to forage. I think I want to learn how to forage more things like wild mushrooms and roots. It would be neat thing to learn and teach the kids.

On Saturday we went on our the Calvary Chapel of the Berkshires 3rd annual train ride trip. As a group we all go on the Berkshire Scenic Railway museum and take a fall foliage train ride. It was a beautiful day and so much fun.

This is a very rare picture of me w/ a coffee. I tried to be cool like everyone else and have one. I was totally jacked after the train ride lol. I don't know why I can't handle caffeine in coffee, I try periodically to have one but the results are always the same. Me, loud, talkative...yes, more than usual if you can imagine it.

This week we hosted the first 4-8 year old book club for the year. The book I chose was the Littles by John Peterson. Each family read it before they came and then we discussed the book a little and did an activity. We talked about how the Littles were very resourceful because they had to use whatever they could find to build what they need. I told them to imagine that they were littles and they had to build a bridge over a large crack in the floor. The only supplies they had were 2 plastic cups, 6 pieces of raw spaghetti, 2 plastic spoons, 2 pieces of paper and 15 inches of scotch tape. The bridge idea is actually from a really awesome website called Think. They have new activities each week to get kids thinking outside the box. I thought this bridge activity tied in well with our reading of The Littles. The kids broke up into groups of two and went to work building their bridge. After they were done we checked how much it could hold by placing pennies on top. Bella and Jadziah made theirs narrow so it wouldn't hold many pennies, we ended up checking theirs with books instead. They all did a great job, they were very resourceful!
Corey and Declan were able to put $1.59 in pennies on their bridge. They took it apart before we tried the books. (above)
Isaac and Jamison had about $.35 before the pennies slid off the side.
Bella and Ziah got a kick out of adding books to their bridge (above) they had $.79 before the pennies slid off (above).

Nova and Hannah got $.94 on their bridge. They were also able to hold 4 books later on.

Yesterday we went up into the mountains to press cider at our friend Amy's house. She hosted an apple day for our homeschool group and it was so much fun!! The kids worked really hard putting the apples in the press and turning the handles to mush and then press the cider. We used a 1/2 bushel of apples (about 20 lbs) and we pressed a little over a gallon of cider. Its so delicious, it's almost gone. Amy had some great apple activities set up to do in addition to pressing cider. Bella wrote her own apple recipe that we are going to test out. She made an adorable apple puppet and we took some apple poetry examples home for inspiration and Bella and Hannah wrote apple poems today. The boys also got a brief lesson in duck skinning. Amy's husband Charlie and their oldest son Cal had gone duck hunting for the morning and Isaac and Ian were very interested in the process of preparing the duck. They got to take home a few feathers too. They are encouraging Jason to take up hunting now. My friend Alison and I have decided we might give it a whirl ourselves next year. I really love venison and I think if I got comfortable with the gun I could do it...maybe I could forage for roots and mushrooms at the same time lol!!! It certainly would make for an interesting blog!

Leaf raking time of course, and pine needles if you are lucky enough to have as many pines as we do. I made the big pile yesterday and let the kids have at it. Nothing like the smell of crunchy fall leaves and burying your head in them until they are all stuck in your mouth and itching you inside your clothes. I love the sound of my kids laughter and even though it takes twice as long to clean up all of the smooshed jumped on leaves, it's worth every minute.

Last but certainly not least....I have pictures of the my little red school house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seven and her dad Keith did an incredible job on the house. Isaac put a few hours of painting in too on Saturday afternoon. He worked for about 2 solid hours before I dragged him away for a hike in the state forest. It looks so good and I am so happy. It's amazing what a coat of paint can do! It's like a completely new house. So here is the before picture....

and here is the after!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Doesn't it look great!

I almost wish I lived next door so I could look at it more often. I'm usually inside and can't see it. I get excited every time I come home so I can see it again! Notice how beautiful my mum still is...thanks again Jen!

I think that's enough for now how about you?! I either need to blog more often or stop doing so much fun stuff.