October 22, 2012

Week Six Wrap-Up

A peek into a day/week at our house.

5:30 am I rolled over to open the drapes and let a little of the morning light in. As the gentle light shined on my watch I was in luck it is only 5:30 and I can sleep just a few more winks. I snuggled back in under my blankets and enjoyed the silence. Only the sound of the fan and the breezes outside in the tree could I hear. A few birds had begun to sing, lovely. "I love this time of day." I mused to myself and I wished it would last forever. Not likely. :)

6:00 am With a fresher feeling after my little doze and the chance to savor the morning stillness I get up and look forward to my correspondence with the outside world. I pour clean water into my favorite mug and add a bag of Eco Teas Tulsi Holy Basil tea. Into the microwave for a few minutes while I wash up in the bathroom. With mug in hand I walk down the hall to my office where I find my dh already at work at his computer across from mine. I kiss him sweetly and boot up my computer. Now for a half hour to get in touch with the outside world before all the daily life tasks begin.

6:30 am What to make for breakfast today. The boys have agreed to try to eat gluten free with me so I decide on making the almond flour pancakes they like so much from my almond flour cookbook. They call them cookie pancakes because in reality they taste more like cookies even though there isn't very much date syrup in them. Sincethey are so sweet no need for syrup just a little tahini. I'll make scrambled eggs to go with them and cut up some fruit. And how about some greek yoghurt to go alongside. The sun is just beginning to pour in through the kitchen window so I open the white curtains and the window to let in the cool morning air. The birds are in full song and I am so happy! The kitchen is always sunny on this side of the house. I must find the designer to tell him how sweet this makes my day. I take my time in the kitchen enjoying the brightness and the task of making a nutritious yet tasty breakfast.

7:00 am The boys are not yet up so I play some music to rouse them. They have chores to do before breakfast and the deadline is 8:00am so an hour gives them room to wake up and get it done without feeling rushed. My dh helps them take the compost out to the chickens and to keep an eye on attitudes and execution of the jobs. A whine or back talk could lead to no breakfast. The boys usually have little trouble getting the chores done, but recently we have seen them slacking hurrying to get it done but not done well. Max tries to run TJ over with the vacuum and the morning stillness has vanished for the fun filled sounds of life.

8:00 am Breakfast is on the table and we all sit down with the house cleaned up (except the kitchen because I do that next) and we sing grace. Anyone can begin it, Zak likes to beat everyone else to the punch and sing the song he likes best. Then my dh husband reads from Acts and we discuss it over the meal. The boys eat everything in sight and ask for more. Then they are off. They bring their dishes to the kitchen, change their clothes to grubbies for outside and out the door they go till 10:30am. The morning stillness returns and I get to work. My dh is working on resurfacing the wall that surrounds our patio so workers arrive and the boys are caught up in a world of cement and sanders. They love it!!

8:30 am I return to the kitchen to clean and prepare lunch. It doesn't take too long to get cleaned up because the boys helped with the dishes last night and I was free to clean up as I cooked breakfast. So, I decide to make a pot of lentil soup with brown rice on top.

9:00 am Exercise with Coach Powers. Shower and dress for the day.

10:00 am Before I begin anything I check my planner and scan and print a few things for lessons and lay out the books I need in order on my desk. I feel better  when I have had time to prepare and I find then that the lessons will flow more smoothly. Next I stop and pray. I find my favorite chair and I settle in. I thank God for His help, tell Him again I love Him and I am so glad he is going to help me with the lessons. I pray for the boys and the areas I notice they are struggling in school and thank God where I see them improving. I ask for wisdom. I enjoy just sitting there knowing I am not alone, that there is help at hand. He is faithful even in this unseen job where it seems that no on really knows whether I succeed or fail. I find His seeing eyes reassuring, I can sense He takes joy in me. He is that good.

10:30 am The boys emerge from the outside having spent energy and used all those gross motor skills they use so infrequently in school. They will be more ready to sit still, to write and to listen now. Due to the dirty nature of their attire they change again ad shower off the outside smudges and I hear all the stories of what they found, what happened, what they made. etc. Usually they are happy, looking more relaxed. They are ready to be inside. The best part is now I am ready for them too. :) They dress, and begin to organize their loft beds for the space inspector (me).

11:00 am  Lessons begin with reading  one of the stories of faith we have selected. It fell to TJ to select the next one and he chose The Adventures of Missionary Heroism a book we began last year but was a bit over their head so I put it away and now it is back and it fits perfectly. This week we read about James Gilmore who went to Mongolia and Jacob Chamberlin who went to India. Though it is an interesting book I am a bit disappointed to find that the real adventures written by the men these stories are about have been simply paraphrased for younger readers. There is a distinct feeling you are getting someone else's regurgitated view of the story and not the story itself. Happily at the end of each retelling in the book there is mentioned the book where the real story comes from. These may prove to be better reading in my opinion.

11:30 am Time for Math. We move from our comfortable chairs in the bedroom to the office and to the infamous "orange table." Here the boys have been making a multiplication table with small stickers.

I have been taking it slowly, because as we began I realized that the twins had a lot of misunderstandings as to how this chart worked. I mistakenly thought it was easily understood. First off they were confused with the chart itself and how they would know what number went into what slot. So by showing them that each row of numbers corresponded with the side and the top and was simply adding 1 two , then 2 twos, then 3 twos together they began to see what I had not realized they were missing. I did this by drawing a chart on a white board and doing each block one at a time for the X2 lines which went across and then down. They then followed and after that it was all clear. We have been doing one row a day, listening to the corresponding skip count song along with it so they can see how the songs we are learning helps them fill in the chart. The songs only go up to nine so they have a bit of figuring to do from 9 onto 12. But now  that it is clear that each space is simply adding one more of that number onto the number they just made they are doing the chart with ease. Learning the why of the table has made it more living.

At the end of the week we played "loot the pirate ship,"and read another story from Mathematicians are people too Vol. 2.

12:00am  Back to the bedroom where a low white table sits in front of a black overstuffed chair. I sit down in the overstuffed chair and read a fable or two from The Children's Aesop's while the boys color and do the copywork for one fable page in their copywork notebook. Last week Zak really went all out trying to complete three copywork sheets a day and began to lose quality in his coloring. Though he was doing good work in the copywork getting two out of three perfect on the first try, I decided to slow him down and allow only one a week to be completed so he pays more attention to the coloring part too. Though coloring may not seem as important as copywork one of our habit goals is perfect execution in all we do so on that reasoning I slowed him down.

Reading a  fable or two doesn't take too long, so I move on to our reading from the greek classic stories. We are reading The Wanderings of Odysseus this week. Though CM was not fond of picture books in general because if a story is well told one need not pictures to guide the imagination. However I make exception with these books for The pictures in it are stunning just the picture were in Black ships before Troy.

At the end of the week we filled in some of our mini books we placed into our history notebook/lap book last week. Take a look...

While they color I have been playing an audio recording of Jason and the Golden Fleece by Padraic Colum.

12:30 am More reading aloud. by now the twins are usually finished with their Aesop copywork but Max is still steadily working away. He is a slower more careful worker by his nature which lends to better work done in the end. He is doing so well this year not dawdling and staying focused. Yeah Max!!! I decided to help him out a bit. I had considered re-reading the Burgess Bird Book we finished last week and adding some fun hands on things with it to draw out the info but I realized that allowing Max time to work would be the better choice. I also am deciding to trust Charlotte's idea that children will take what they need from a reading and leave what they don't need behind and that id ok. Some of the hands on study really detracts from this. I am trusting that the feast I am laying before them is enough and that the narrating and their habit now to pay attention will put the info in them that they need. By doing this I am free to stay out of the way and allow their minds to continue the learning it has already begun. So we are reading a delightful tale this week from Arthur Scott Bailey who was a contemporary of Thornton Burgess and has a very similar style of story telling. The boys chose to read The Tale of Turkey Proud Foot which I already had downloaded in my kindle. They are enjoying it as much as they did the Burgess Bird Book.
"This was illuminating but rather startling; the whole intellectual apparatus of the teacher, his powed of vivid presentation, apt illustration, able summing up, subtle questioning, all these were hinderances and intervened between children and the right nutrient duly served..." (Vol. 6 Book 1 part 3)
At the end of the week we went outside and made yet another entry into our nature notebooks. This time I ask them questions about the objects they had chosen seeing if they were observing more details and trying to capture them. Max is catching on well to the idea of the nature study and looks for something new and interesting each time we go out. This time he selected to draw a lizard he saw on the bark of a tree. Not an easy subject to draw as it runs away, but his enthusiasm was beautiful! Soon his drawing will develop and match his interest.

1:00 pm LUNCH!  The lentil soup was yummy. And to top it off, we had dessert (on Thursday), so on Wednesday I tried putting a recipe for chocolate ice cream into my popsicle forms to make fudgesicles and it worked! My dh husband kept eating them and saying, "These are professional!"

1:30 pm We settle back into the bedroom around the low white table again. This time we have our copies of the Primary Language Lesson out and we are practicing oration with the story by Aesop, The Dog in the Manger. The first day we simply read it out loud each one taking a turn. Then I would read it out loud to them so they can hear the pauses etc.  The second day we read the story with the appropriate pauses and speed each again taking a turn to practice this reading it out loud to the rest of us. Third day we read each word correctly and with the appropriate pauses and appropriate speed. Fourth day we read it with feeling, each word correct, and with the appropriate pauses and appropriate speed. Fifth day we did an observation lesson about a kitten painting and drew a kitten.

2:00 pm  Still at the low white table I place out the cards to play concentration for the purpose of learning a few more animal names in latin. We have been using the other animal cards we began with last week and using the adjective cards until all the boys seemed to get a good grasp of the vocabulary. I am aware now more this year to not advance further in their lessons if a certain step is not yet mastered. I am finding that this little change is really paying off. There is less frustration for the boys and consequentially less for me as well.

We played charades: Each boy made up three sentences in latin using the animal, verb and adjective cards. Then the others read the sentences and acted them out for the other two to guess. I have not yet done any role playing or acting in our school so I wasn't sure how they would take to it. They LOVED IT! What a hoot to see them in action.

We played concentration: Each animal card is either masculine or feminine. They thankfully have left off the neuter tense as to not confuse them, I am so glad. SO in our game the animals were chosen so they would would match with the feminine or masculine adjectives. Half had -a endings and the other half had -us endings. The animals were placed on one side of the table the adjectives on the other. They picked from the animals and the adjectives and if there was a matched gender they could then translate the sentence into english and keep it. This proved to be the best game to learn the vocabulary for they really had a motivation to know the meaning of the word. After a couple of times playing the game they got it. Max was looking a bit lost the first time around so I spent a little time with him after school one day just going over the words again. Next time we played he smoked them all. It was so cool to see his confidence return. He obviously enjoyed the subject more when he was doing better in it.

2:30 pm Art and music are next. We spent two days on Klee this week and three days reading through Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet. It is another delightful book by Opal Wheeler. Though it says "and the nutcracker ballet" in the title the book is more about his later years, which tied up nicely our reading of A Day With Tchaikovsky. As we read this story about him the boys discovered when in his life the day story was taken. It references his writing the ballet which is a wonderful lead into our next weeks lesson which will include to watch  BBC production of the nutcracker ballet on you-tube.

Their Klee inchies project is complete. They each made 12 inchies of 12 different paintings and mounted the inchies like this. It was a lot of hard work doing a few inchies at a time, but I think it gave them a good feel for Paul Klee's interesting and colorful work. Here are a few close-ups:

3:00 pm Having art at the end of the day often allows for a good opportunity to steal someone away while the other two work so they can read aloud to me. We curl up in the papasan chair and I hear them read two pages a day. I love this time. TJ especially has been struggling this fall to sound out all the new words. SO he has more confidence if I hold the book and the book marker and he simply reads. I think it helps him stay focused and not to feel it is all up to him. Since we started doing this he is doing so much better. One day he will want to hold the book himself, but for now I am enjoying working together with him until his confidence arises. This week I found some adorable book marks I thought the boys would like so I stuck it into our reading book. They LOVE IT!!

Directly after reading lesson one of the boys will do a piano lesson with my dh. He knows how to play the piano, I don't, so I leave the teaching to him. I have no idea what he is doing in the lessons but he said they are doing well and bout ready to learn a little song. Max is the most enthusiastic out of the three to learn.

4:00 pm Lessons are over and we all sigh and do a little relaxing. I have lunch dishes waiting for me in the kitchen and a dinner to prepare but other than that I have a few hours to myself. My dh has been having free time in the afternoons so he has been playing games with the boys. Settlers of Catan is their favorite this week.

Today I decided to do some more work on the artist helpers I sell over at Currclick and published a Paul Gauguin Helper and Began one for Claude Monet. That was a delightful afternoon with no technical hiccups. Yeah!! While I was working at my desk I had prepped some cauliflower by slicing it into slabs and spreading a honey mustard sauce over it. It roasted in the oven and was ready to eat at dinner time. On other days I read, do some house cleaning, cook, or visit friends.

6:30pm  Dinner. I made teriyaki chicken tight, brown rice, and stir fried vegetables. The roasted cauliflower went into the vegetables. We ate one whole head along with other fresh vegetables without blinking an eye and I myself wanted more.

7:30pm Read aloud from Toad Triumphant. The boys play quietly on their beds while I read one chapter from our book. Then I play another audio story for them and then music and they are off into dream land.

8:30pm  And lest you think I am can do it all notice I go to bed at 8:30pm every night at the latest. I have always been a low energy person so I must begin my resting early or in the morning I can not wake up.

Good night. :)


  1. Oh Sarah, This is a wonderful post. I enjoyed looking into your day! It is very full! And, I have taken away some nuggets with me to incorporate in my day.

    * Beautiful piano by the way.