Monday, September 30, 2013

First Four Weeks

Hard to believe that we finished up our first four weeks of school already.  All of the kids and the mom are happy to be back on a schedule.

Russ has actually finished five weeks since he started a week earlier than the rest of us.  He is happy to have his "Practice Preaching" behind him as preaching to your peers and faculty is always a little stressful and intimidating.  The only really "negative" comment was that he may need to tone down his intensity.  Good luck with that...

Nicolas seems to be adjusting well to being back in the "formal" school routine again.  Through soccer and his classes he seems to have made some friends and even gained a new nickname, "Smiley."  Northpointe soccer combined their small JV team with another small Christian school to make one  team.  Now he has a completely different schedule than Caleb, both practice and games.  This is nice for Nicolas as he now sees plenty of playing time, but this has made it more challenging for me to keep track of schedules and home/away uniform washing!

Caleb had quite a rocky start to the school year as we could not get his schedule figured out.  After several trips to the guidance counselor we were able to get him in Honors English, pre-calc, Bible, and orchestra.   He has been in contact with the Spanish instructors and has their blessing to work on Rosetta Stone Spanish and try to test out of Spanish 1.  Nicolas is in that class so they can always compare what they are learning.  He could not take an upper level science class as they were all scheduled against Honors English or Orchestra, so he is dual-enrolled at Cornerstone University (right across the street from NP and PRTS) taking Field Biology this semester and, hopefully, will be able to take another college science course next semester.   On another note, the varsity soccer team is having a winning season.  They now need to defeat Godwin and have Godwin lose one other game to put them at the head of the conference.  Caleb hasn't lost his starting position, so we have enjoyed watching him play.  Grandpa B might have some interesting stories to tell about Michigan soccer, though...Caleb still runs cross-country meets when it does not interfere with soccer, but finds it makes him pretty busy.  As a member of NHS he is also trying to get 15 hrs of community service/volunteer work in per semester.  He  can use the hours he tutors a NP student after school on Wednesdays and his youth group volunteer hours to count toward the total so that helps.  

That leaves the schooling of the younger three.  We are on year four of My Father's World five-year cycle which takes us from the Age of Exploration to 1850.  Most of this will be review for Seth from last year, but we have already gone in more depth and he doesn't seem to mind at all.  We reviewed the major explorers from France, Spain, and England the first two weeks and also followed the history of England/Scotland at that time because it led us to James I of Jamestown and the KJV.   We just finished up the study of the Pilgrims and their journey on the Mayflower this week.  The kids continue to notebook or complete a little lapbook about what they learned in history.  I try to find a coloring page for them to work on while I read their lesson to them because I find it keeps their hands busy and helps them attend to what I am reading.  Our read aloud for the first few weeks is Almost Home, the story of Mary Chilton on the Mayflower.  
An example of a "notebooking" page

The making of Jamestown:

 Here are some of the other things we are learning:

          Science:  We are studying the animal kingdom this semester.  We started by learning the classification system (kingdom, phylum, class, etc) and now are studying different mammals.  We are making an animal notebook that hopefully will be pretty cool when complete.  Next semester we will study plants.

          Bible:  We are studying the book of James this year using the book Boy, Have I Got Problems by Kay Arthur.  The curriculum offers two options:  memorize the entire book, or just a portion of James.  We decided to go for the entire thing.  So far, it has gone very well and we (I am memorizing too) have James 1:1-11 down pretty well.  The kids need to help me which is quite humbling, but I think they like knowing I am working on it with them.  We are also learning the story behind and the words to 17 well-known hymns this year.  I am just letting the kids enjoy singing the hymn (each hymn for two weeks) and am not too concerned if they are learning the words.  I'll be happy if they get the book of James learned instead!  So far we have had "This is My Father's World" and "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms".

Keeping track of our verses on notecards.  Each time they review the verse during the day they draw one line of a triangle.  The goal is that by bedtime you have the triangle completed; you've reviewed at least three times during the day.

       Reading:  We haven't gotten this off the ground yet, but Anna is planning to do a unit on Anne of Green Gables, Lydia on Misty of Chincoteague, and Seth just some smaller stories with comprehension activities for now.

       Handwriting/Spelling:  The curriculum always starts with a handwriting review:  cursive for the older kids and manuscript for the younger.  We just finished that this week and began our spelling lessons to fill that spot.  

       Writing:  We have writing assignments on Thur/Fri using the Writing Strands books unless I give a longer notebooking assignment.  Seth just does free journaling on a topic that I give him.   

       Math/English:  Seth and Lydia are using Primary and Intermediate Language Lessons and Anna is using the All-in-One English Series for grammar/punctuation.  All are using Singapore math and for fact review.  

      Fine Arts:  Still working our way through God and the History of Art.  Some of the projects are too hard for Seth so he enjoys finishing up the book he used last year.  This year we are listening to the music of Schubert.  Lydia thought is was pretty cool that in her "Classical" piano book she was able to play "The Trout" by Schubert after we had listened to a clip of it on a CD.   

That is what we are doing most of the time here in Michigan.  We loved having Grandpa and Grandma visit and doing some fun things like shop Kingma's market, eat doughnuts from Van's, explore the antique shops in an old warehouse, visit the fish ladder, enjoy ArtPrize, and do some shopping.  Grandpa and Grandma were also able to go to lots of soccer games and even one cross-country meet.   We are also grateful they were here to help with pears as we made lots of pear sauce and pear jam.  Grandma also finished the curtains in the girls' room which was a huge job!  Most of all we just love having them around to share a cup of coffee, insights on BSF questions/teaching, and our thoughts/concerns about future ministry plans.  Now we are looking forward to our next visitors!

Curtains closed

Curtains open

Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Doll Pattern

I saw this cute doll outfit pattern this summer in the book Crochet One-Skein Wonders and knew that I wanted to give it a try.  I bought this wonderfully soft yarn at the yarn shop in Park Rapids, MN and it has just taken me awhile to get the project finished.  As with every new pattern I attempt, I had several "restart" and "take-outs".  But the finished project still looked pretty cute.  The girls were pretty bummed that it was heading to Iowa for a belated birthday gift for Miah.    Guess I'll just have to make a few more--it is always easier the second time!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seth's Birthday #7

The birthday boy wanted a treasure chest birthday cake.  I wasn't quite sure how I would accomplish that, but the Taste of Home website came through for me.  Although the cake was very simple to make we had the hardest time finding candy necklaces.  After 4-5 stores Caleb and I gave up.  Of course, we found them a week later at the Ace Hardware store--who would've thought! 

Seth had been asking for an aquarium for a long time.  We picked one up on sale several weeks before his birthday and then he was able to pick out accessories and fish for it.  He has been very faithful feeding them twice a day, and except for one incident* early on he has been very responsible taking care of the them.  

Anaiya was so cute when she came to the door on Seth's birthday with a gift.

Seth showing the gifts he bought with birthday money--a Lego Ninjago set, Lord of the Rings Wii game, and a new watch. 

*Seth came running downstairs about a week after he got the fish to tell us that one of the fish was dying.  We questioned him about feeding them--either too little or too much, but he insisted he fed them the right amount.  When Russ went upstairs to remove the dead fish he called for Seth, noticing that the stones at the bottom, plants and rock had been disturbed.  Eventually it came out that he and Anaiya had been trying to catch the fish.  When I asked him later what he was planning to do with them once they caught them, he answered, "I held them in my hand for awhile and then let them go."
 Oh!  So, he actually caught them!  That answers lots of questions on the poor little fish's demise.  He assured us he knew it was naughty and wrong while he was doing it and it would never happen again.  Maybe not that, but I'm sure it will be something else.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Library

In all those busy weeks before school started I realized I forgot to post photos of our big project during that time.  We converted Russ' "office" into a library and moved his big desk into what we call the "homeschool room".  The desk was just too big for that little room and looks much better in the bigger, more open room.  Russ made a trip to the IKEA store near Ann Arbor to purchase a few bookshelving units to go along one and a half walls almost to the ceiling.  We had no trouble filling them.  What I love most is that the kids no longer have to keep books on bookshelves in their room because they are now all in one area.  So if Seth is looking for a book to read I don't have make a recommendation and then guess which kids' room he will find the book in.  I can say, "Go check in the library!"  Since the room is so small, I did have trouble getting pictures that could capture the area well, so if you want a good look at it, you'll just have to come visit!