Friday, September 14, 2012

First Two Weeks of School

It's been a long time since I updated this blog, but now that we're homeschooling full-time, I wanted to post some pictures of what we're doing and give an idea of what we're doing all day long. However, I think I need to offer a disclaimer: Unless you're actually related to Henry and Elizabeth, this post (and in fact, this entire blog) may be a little too detailed. So, consider yourself warned! 

It's been great first two weeks of kindergarten homeschool. We've gotten into a pleasant flow to the days, spending about 2 or so hours a day on what might be considered "official" school. 

One of the highlights of the day is definitely the half hour or so Henry and I spend on math each afternoon while Elizabeth naps. (Math, of course, is the one subject I insist we do uninterrupted.) It's such a joy to have a student who enjoys math as much as his teacher. I love the curriculum we're using (RightStart, for anyone who cares) and it's so fun to see Henry just absorb the information like a sponge. 

Our other highlight has been the Five in a Row curriculum. Each week, I choose a book from the guide and we reread the book each day of the week, paying attention to a different aspect of the book each day. So, this week, we read Night of the Moonjellies, a gorgeous book about a boy who helps his grandmother at her hot dog stand on the New England coast and then goes to see bioluminescent jellyfish later that night. 

So, in conjunction with the book, we watched video of jellyfish, read about sea creatures, experimented with pastels, found New England on a map, and created our own hot dog stand for dinner. It's a little haphazard for a logical, sequential person like myself, but I love the novelty and spark that it injects into our days.

Experimenting with pastels
Henry's Pastel Creations

The menu for the hot dog stand. All the items are from the book, but Henry chose the prices (and used his toy cash register to ring up Greg's "purchase.") Onion rings were kind of pricy!
Enjoying our greasy feast.

Elizabeth enjoying her milkshake. 
We also went on our first field trip with our homeschool field-trip co-op.  Today, we had a tour of PetSmart and then had a picnic with a bunch of homeschool families afterward. I'm so grateful to get to be part of this co-op, thanks to my dear friend Sammy who's a few years ahead of me in homeschooling and decided to organize some families to have fun together this year. The pet store was a hoot--since we don't have pets, Henry didn't really understand everything pets need. Elizabeth was just delighted, especially by the dogs at the doggie day care. 
Lastly, a few pictures of the past few weeks that were too cute not to share.

Elizabeth displaying all the loot that her doting big brother bought her at our neighbor's garage sale.
Elizabeth has discovered that she can do Duplos now, and was very pleased with herself for building such tall towers.
How I found Henry after out field trip today.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011


February has been a month of keeping our heads above water. It seems that nearly every week has brought some distracting and preoccupying event, either tragic, mundane, or just simply weird.

-The too-early death of my dear Aunt Louise the day before Elizabeth's baptism
-A trip to Milwaukee to spend time with my family and attend the memorial service
-My stupid cross-country skiing tailbone injury that kept me from accomplishing much of anything for several weeks
-The never-ending cold that began when Henry started preschool and seems to continue to be making the rounds in our family
-Elizabeth's pinkeye and ear infection, caused by the aforementioned cold
-Elizabeth's eczema, which may or may not be caused by food allergies, and may or may not be helped by the crazily expensive hypoallergenic formula we're now using
-Reading the details of an former friend's arrest for insider trading and subsequent betrayal of his best friend on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (I kid you not)

Okay, so enough whining. On to the good stuff.

Henry continues to love preschool two mornings a week. On his days home, we've been doing lots of speech practice and working through his Mighty Mind puzzles that he got for Christmas. He just reached the last puzzle and was very proud of himself.

We both enjoy "doing science" together so much that I've been trying to do something science-related most afternoons. We played with siphons and pumps as a grand finale to our unit on exploring water.

And now we've moved onto simple machines. I had picked up a few pulleys last fall, and Henry has had a wonderful time playing with them.

For Henry, the best part of the pulleys was that he could act our scenes from Thomas the Tank Engine with them. It has been all about Thomas around here these days, since he finally managed to cajole us into reading him the 400-page complete Thomas collection. It's amazing how much you can read in a month when you do two stories twice a day. Here's Henry gazing adoringly at the book...which he should probably do now, since this book may need to be "lost" sometime soon, for his parents' sanity.

Henry's also been building up a storm, and having lots of fun in our huge snow piles.

Elizabeth continues to be completely delightful, except for when she rolls onto her belly and gets stuck. (Although even then, the way she gets mad about it is pretty darn cute.) She finally has one tooth, and I just love her little one-toothed grins.

She's a pretty good sport about going outside, as long as it's not too cold and we pull her around in the sled or stroller.

All dressed up for her baptism:

She's also begun babbling this week. Listening to her sweet little voice just makes my heart melt. Lots of "bababalaalalalabamala" in the house these days. It's hard to believe that real words aren't many months away.

And of course, the requisite messy-face pictures. Greg points out that almost all our pictures of Elizabeth are when she's eating, but how can I possibly resist?

And lastly, our little couch potatoes, watching TV together.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Henry began preschool a couple of weeks ago and is loving it. He especially seems to enjoy the wonderful pretend play set-ups (recently, they turned their reading loft into a bat cave and put tubes underneath so the kids could pretend to be burrowing animals!) He's very proud to show me his craft each day when he comes home and always reports what the snack was.

Here he is on his first day of preschool:

And here was his first craft, a polar bear covered with shaving cream and tissue paper.

We're still homeschooling the other three days of the week and have been working through a preschool critical thinking book. One new thing we've started is doing a simple science experiment every afternoon. Apparently I forgot to take any pictures of these, but we've been doing experiments with water--seeing how water becomes ice and steam, and seeing what kinds of substances dissolve. It's become something we both really look forward to in the afternoon.

We've also been studying "Peter and the Wolf" (both listening to the music and reading the story) to prepare for a kids' concert by the symphony. The concert was this morning and was really excellent. Members of the local ballet danced the parts, and Henry was entranced to see the story come to life. The cutest part was when the wolf was threatening Peter, Henry would crouch down between the seats and peek out of the crack between seats. Here we are ready to go to the concert. (While it may look like Henry is chewing on a medicine dropper, he is actually playing the part of the bird on flute. :) )

Henry loves his new Highlights magazine and followed the instructions to make a pizza with a face.

Other than that, Henry's imagination has taken fire. The house is constantly a disaster, but it's well worth it (mostly) to see him do so much wonderful pretending. Some recent days at our house:

Note the fishing rod (that is, the crane), the store (that is, the white shoe rack) and the construction equipment (all the chairs in the dining room.)

Here we have Henry's "drum set". My favorite part is Elizabeth's wind chime hanging from the closet door. At one point he moved the drum set and told me I needed to hammer a hook in the wall to hang the wind chime. I have to draw the line somewhere, right? :)

And oh, the craft sticks. Why did I think it was a good idea to let him play with a box of one thousand craft sticks?

Following the trail...

Still going...


And I couldn't resist including this one.

And of course, Elizabeth continues to be completely adorable. She's really playing with her hands now, and she's on the verge of sitting up. She's also begun devouring her rice cereal.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December Update

The Christmas Pageant is over, and so I finally have the time to sit down and write a post. (Please forgive the crazy length of this post--I have a lot of catching up to do!)Coordinating the pageant was a lot of work, but the result was worth it. We had 360 people come for the Christmas dinner, and over 200 of them participated in the pageant. Someone forgot to turn on the oven(!) the afternoon of the pageant, so things didn't go entirely according to plan, but everything still came together. Henry was thrilled to get to be a shepherd boy in the pageant with his daddy and seemed impressed that his mommy was up on stage with a microphone telling everyone what to do!

In between meetings and emails, we've managed to have a lot of family Christmas and winter fun. We had our first snow a couple of weeks ago and got Elizabeth outside to enjoy her first snowfall.

The kids and I also went for an afternoon walk at a nearby nature center. Henry thought it was hilarious when he threw rocks in the pond and they skidded across the frozen surface.

Elizabeth was pretty unimpressed.

We've also been enjoying Advent together. It's delightful to watch Henry's anticipation as Christmas gets closer and closer. The Advent wreath and calendar have been a wonderful way for him to have a sense of the passage of time in December.

Making gingerbread cookies and decorating a (pre-made) gingerbread house:

Decorating the tree:

In other Henry news, we've decided to have him start preschool two mornings per week after Christmas. I'll continue to homeschool him the other days, and we still intend to homeschool long term, but Greg and I have decided that he just needs a little more practice at not being the center of the universe. We've chosen a play preschool that a lot of our friends send their kids to (and in fact, our neighbor Quinn will be in his class). For me, it will be nice to have a couple mornings per week to focus on Elizabeth and to do the grocery-shopping with only one kid.

We visited the preschool this past Thursday. Henry was a little tentative at first but eventually joined in the activities and enjoyed himself. He still seems a little anxious about it, but I expect he'll adjust quickly.

Last, a few cute pictures of Elizabeth. She's beginning to roll more and her little laugh is the sweetest sound. We've also started to do a little solid food (gumming a banana and trying some rice cereal) but so far she's pretty skeptical.

Okay, maybe more than a few. There are just too many cute pictures to choose from.