AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 11

This week was one of those weeks where flexibility was the name of the game. It came apparent to me that we had something going on every day of the week and in some instances; had some double booking going on. Happily Grandma helped out by taking the kids to and from choir for me while I went to the doctor; and we basically forced ourselves through the rest of the week.

Monday and Tuesday Peanut (Yr 4) and Moose (Yr 2) discovered the wonder of having all their school done by 11:30 in the morning. I have told them until I’m blue in the face that if you finish your work well (as in, not slopped or rushed through) and don’t dawdle; you can be finished before noon – which leaves the rest of the day for playing, reading, visiting Grandparents, playing with friends, and so on. Sure enough they discovered that I wasn’t yanking their chains.

Peanut and Moose both had math tests and passed. Peanut finally finished up Math Mammoth Grade 3 and can begin Grade 4; Moose moves on to the next chapter in his Math Mammoth text. We also went on to the next list in both Phonetic Zoo and high frequency words.

Wednesday was a day where everything went south but we managed to get things accomplished. Our special needs kid had an extremely hard morning of therapies which meant that that child was fried and drained and needed to rest all day (but was irritable making it hard for others to work), I was fried and drained from whatever health problem I’m having, and it was just blah. I didn’t force school too much on everyone because when we’re at each other’s throats, sometimes we just need to shelve everything and have some hot cocoa (or a Snickers bar) and chill. The relationship with the kids trumps any knowledge they may gain. And besides, who can learn when someone’s antagonizing you, you’re frustrated because things “aren’t easy” and so on.

Peanut did have her heart broken a little bit more about Benjamin Franklin, she was entirely unimpressed that he stayed in England so long, despite his wife begging him to return (and not returning until after her passing). She still thinks he’s a “mostly good guy” though. 😉

Thursday was worse than Wednesday, in that I had a blood draw scheduled for 1 in the afternoon. “Please fast for 12 hours beforehand” said my doctor. Welllll I don’t know about you, but I’m not up at midnight getting my last meal in. I ended up having an unintentional 17 hour fast. At least I was hydrated enough for the five vials that needed to be drawn. I forgot to ask the phlebotomist (I was ready to go to the grocery for ALL THE FOOD) when my results would be in, and since I have no new lab reports in my online account I’m guessing all the tests are done across the state. Maybe on Monday!

(My doctor thinks that maybe I feel so screwed up because my ferritin iron levels may be low, so he’s having that checked, plus thyroid antibodies and like 249820675698719584867 other tests.)

Friday was swim class day and absolutely TGIF. Moose wasn’t impressed to learn that we’re finishing Understood Betsy next week. I find that we’re slowly “falling behind” except that we’re not, if that makes sense. Yes, we got off on our Latin schedule so the regularly scheduled quiz wasn’t on Friday, and next week we’ll do some extra reading to get done with Moose’s first term. But really, it’s not a big deal. I’m finding in necessary to cut myself slack and let go of some tightly held (and wound) beliefs. I’m participating in Brandy Vencel’s “Charlotte Mason Boot Camp” right now. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it while feeling so lousy BUT it’s so great, I’m glad I took the chance and signed up. Plus, I enjoy having to make some time to be quiet, read and discuss and pray about certain aspects of our homeschool and life in general.

How We Learn Shakespeare

After lots of trial and lots of error, we finally have landed on the “what works for us” with regards to teaching Shakespeare.

1. Preparation
We start to learn about Shakespeare – who he was, where he lived, what time period he lived, how it’s different from now, how it’s similar, his background, the Globe, and why we like to learn about Shakespeare. I try to be enthusiastic about Shakespeare – like most American students, I wasn’t considered “ready” for Shakespeare until high school, where we read the plays and discussed them into boredom. If we were lucky we watched a video of a play.

We do Shakespeare as a family subject, and we do it during tea-time. The prospect of tea/hot cocoa/hot cider and popcorn or some other fun snack really helps everyone be excited to do Shakespeare as well, plus it’s good fun for everyone. Ages 3, 5, 7, and 9 are represented at Shakespeare {tea-time is when Nugget is having a nap}.

2. First, the retelling
I select a play – my kids are young so we’re working on the comedies. I thought we could follow Ambleside’s Shakespeare rotation, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet. We started with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because it was short, it was a comedy, and it seemed like it was something everyone could grasp.

I read everyone Lamb’s retelling {wouldn’t you know, after studying this play in high school I had no clue what was going on, except Puck; but after reading the retelling everything made tons more sense}.  We stop – a lot – and narrate and discuss, defining terms and explaining things. We use paper dolls, a character map drawn on a whiteboard, or Playmobil to keep everyone straight and make sure we know who’s in love with whom.

3. Then, the play
At first, I started reading the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but it got old VERY quickly to be constantly defining the characters. We decided to let other people read it for me, and listen to this Librivox recording {which hits what I want in a Shakespeare audio – multiple people for the different parts and some English accents because well, I think it sounds better that way!}. We follow along a text from MIT. Just like the retelling, we stop – even more than the retelling – and break apart confusing language, help the littles figure out what’s going on, and so on. We keep out the Playmobils and work on arranging the characters as they enter and exit the scenes.

Peanut running the characters for Act 3 of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”

We listen to an act per week – sometimes all in one sitting if it’s short and everyone is feeling it, or breaking it up if it’s longer and there would be a mutiny to listen to it all at once.

And that’s it! I’m going to start reading the plays with the kids once they’re older and can handle reading the language (right now Peanut is the only one who would be even remotely capable). But right now, it works well what we’re doing.

I am interested to see which play our local Shakespeare company will be performing next year. I would love to read the retelling, read the actual play with the kids, and then go watch it live; since that’s the best way to experience Shakespeare, in my opinion. Hopefully they put their 2018 schedule up soon!

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 10

It’s hard to believe that we are almost finished with Moose’s first term! Peanut is not far behind, and soon we will be switching some books and moving on to new ones. I’ll be quite bummed to finish Understood Betsy, but we’re moving on to The Wind in the Willows which I haven’t read; so it’s not totally a loss.

This week was another crazy week – scheduling a new doctor appointment for me, a nature walk (the weather was GLORIOUS for it and it was just great to be outside and enjoy some sunshine), choir and therapies, homeschool swim class and a park day with a friend and her daughter. I think I need to readjust the school schedule to allow for some afternoons to be truncated or some mornings to be removed because we’re busy with therapies.

I had some glimpses this week of learning with Moose and math. Math isn’t the easiest subject for him, and lots of patience and manipulatives and S.L.O.W. learning. I contemplated even giving up on his current math and going back to absolute core basics, much like I did with reading – lay off and wait, and try again in a couple months. But, I don’t think we need to go back to absolute basics, or wait a few months; because the connections are being made and it IS coming together. Even if it feels like we’re treading water in molasses sometimes, it’s good for both him and me to see the little successes and that YES, he is learning math;  just at his own pace.

I gave the kids reading level assessments this week, and both kids are above grade level. Moose was sort of reading CVC words in January, which is when we began systematic phonics instruction and ta-da he completely caught up and surpassed where he “should” be. Hot diggity dog.

Peanut is finding her friend, Benjamin Franklin quite the person. We had a spirited discussion about taxation, the Stamp Act and its repeal, why the colonists were SO unimpressed with the taxes and how that relates to our lives today. A lot of aha moments happened. I love these times of discussion, to see how her wheels are moving and what she’s thinking.

Peanut and Moose unearthed a rabbit skeleton with their friends on the mountain behind our houses, which has been THE highlight of the week. Earlier this week they had found just the legs, and so I was enlisted to help ID what they were looking at. Today the skull and jaw was found, along with ribs and other bones. Triumph! Peanut was ecstatic that “it still had its bunny teeth!” Thankfully no one has taken to calling the skeleton “Peter Rabbit”, which may put a slight damper on Moose’s enjoyment of Burgess’ Animal Book. 🙂

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I’m still waiting for my labwork results. One result came back and it’s definitely indicative that something else may be going on; but what depends on the rest of the labwork results. Some of the tests had to go across the state for analysis and my guess is that’s where it’s all being held up at. It’s rather agonizing to continue to feel unwell, have a little idea of what may be going on but not the complete picture. I’m working on being patient, and trying not to refresh the lab results page too many times a day. 😉

It’s quite hard to do anything thanks to how poor I feel. Each day we just take as it comes, and I try to do things when I have energy. Some days are better than others.

(If you want to make bets about what’s going on/play armchair doctor/if you’re Googling around; here are just SOME of my symptoms: brain fog, losing hair, breaking nails, weight irregularities, poor appetite, heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, exhaustion, hard to concentrate, random hand tremors and more! And nope, not pregnant; although that would be a welcome reason to feel like trash.)

THAT BEING SAID, I’ve been attempting to read, when I can actually concentrate.

I found this book in a local thrift store for $0.50. I like it because no matter how brain-drained I am each day, I can read a little sentence or two from it and have something meaty to ruminate over. It’s the perfect low-energy book, at least for this stage in my life.

This book is my book when I’m feeling a little more with it in the energy department. Honestly, don’t let the title fool you (you can tell on the Amazon reviews who has read it and who hasn’t) – it’s not what you think it is. It’s a lovely book, written very light-hearted and self-depreciating at times; but does a great job of discussing that whole “submission” thing and how it relates to marriage. This isn’t a ‘let your man beat you’ or ‘say good-bye to having a life!’ submission books, but rather what submission IS and why it’s needed in a marriage. And if you’re curious; there’s one for the men (which I’ve not read) called Marry Her and Die For Her (just in case you were wondering what the men are called to do in a marriage…).

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite marriage-related books I’ve read in a good, long time.

* * *
Say a prayer my bloodwork results can be posted soon and they show something conclusive, either one way or the other. I don’t like the whole “welllll you have symptoms of X but the bloodwork doesn’t agree so it’s probably not X, but we don’t know why you feel so bad.”

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 7 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 9

This week has been an eventful week, with snow (!) and scheduling changes and “going with the flow”.

I was optimistic that my doctor would have figured why I feel so horribly bad. I’m not really any closer to figuring out why, and I’m waiting on bloodwork results to come back. He didn’t really seem to think how I’ve been feeling is too out of the ordinary, and perhaps it’s not; but it’s nice to double-check and make sure. In the meantime, I’ve been adjusting school as needed in order to get done what needs to get done and still make sure I’m not burning the candle at all possible ends.

Moose will finish up his school tomorrow; as today was shot in the ground with homeschool swim class, sleeping in, and my issues. He was quite happy to have a relaxing day today, and I used my energy to get Peanut through her work for the week (including a Latin quiz and spelling quiz). She did wonderfully on her Latin and we’re almost ready to move on to the next lesson in Phonetic Zoo, so I’m quite pleased.

We shook up how we do Shakespeare and Plutarch by hooking that back into the Afternoon Tea Time. I found a Librivox recording of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so I can relax as well and save energy during the afternoon slump. Plus, a variety of voices makes it WAY more interesting than me reading it all. I’m still trying to figure out where Tea Time will sit during the week, I’m thinking Wednesdays since that’s the new “light” day. Moving Robinson Crusoe to an audiobook was also a great idea, it’s become Peanut’s new favorite book and she’s almost finished it up for the term. 🙂

Moose is still fascinated with knights, and uses his free time once his lessons are finished to watch knights documentaries, play Lego knights, play Playmobil knights, look at books about knights, play knights outside, KNIGHTS KNIGHTS KNIGHTS.

Tomorrow the plan is to finish up Moose’s week 9, finish up loose ends on the housework and overall take it easy. Hopefully I’ll have more news regarding my bloodwork, when I had bloodwork last week I had results posted over the weekend. One specific test has to be sent across the state for analysis so that will take a couple days; but the local ones should (hopefully) be posted soon.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done this, right? Lots of stuff going on, watching the hurricanes roll in and make sure my family is out of harm’s way, medical stuff, and more. But it’s nice to check in with what’s going on in my book world, yes?

I started reading Cardinal Sarah’s book, The Power of Silence last week. It’s a lovely, meaty book that really is challenging me as I tend to like “background noise”. Like most people, I’m rather uncomfortable with silence. There’s so much to deal with in silence that it’s easier to just have the background noise on. But, as we know; God is not found in the noise (or the earthquake, or in the fire…) but in the silence.

I suspect this will take me some time to get through, as it is rather meaty like I mentioned above as well as uncomfortable. 🙂

I like to think that I have a good handle on organization, in terms of getting my stuff done (homeschooling, homemaking, etc) and still having time to do All The Things. A recent confession determined that I’m not as organized as I thought (or said) I was. There were still plenty of time-sinks, and a lot of procrastination simply because I felt overwhelmed about what to do when the day gets off track and the like. Providentially, I won a copy of the book, A Plan for Joy in the Home. I’ve already read it and have been working on implementing it. It’s a lot like A Mother’s Rule of Life but I’m finding this way of approaching things more realistic for me, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because it’s a short book, and it gets right into getting down to business. Maybe it’s because of the handy worksheets included in the book (or printable from the author’s website). Whatever the reason, I am enjoying it and hopefully can reign in a lot of my procrastination.

I visit the doctor tomorrow and hopefully can start moving in the right direction of getting answers to some health issues that I’ve been having as of late. It’s been impacting my energy levels, and so my book reading has been sparse as of late. Kindly pray for me!

(Book images are Amazon affiliate links, thank you for your support!)

AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 8

This week was one of those crazy weeks.

Monday
We began the week with {yet more} heat. We also had the first meeting of choir today, which went quite well. The kids will be taught solfege as well as hymns and other songs. One of the kids is a little reluctant but we’ll see how things go as we get into the swing of things.

Tuesday
A regular day, we finished our work early and spent the rest of the day gallivanting and playing around. This day was probably the most normal of the week! 😀

Wednesday
Our special needs child’s therapy was moved to this day, so our lighter day now happens in the middle of the week instead of towards the end. We did some read-alouds since our mornings are now eaten up by the appointment. Okie-dokie. Wednesday was also the last day of MEGA-HEAT and so I encouraged the kids to go outside and enjoy themselves.

Thursday
We were going to have a nature walk but it started raining early Thursday morning and hasn’t stopped. We moved the nature walk indoors and looked at bugs in books and field guides. The rain did let up slightly so the kids (mine plus some of a friend’s) all went outside and found a bug wrapped up in a spider’s web, pill bugs, seed bugs, and some beetles. We wrapped up our nature adventure with kids playing and moms chatting.

Side note: if you’ve been following along on my Instagram; you will be happy to know that this precipitation is putting a massive dent on the wildfires that have been plaguing Montana. Pretty sure the fire season is finally O-V-E-R. 

Friday
Rain changed into snow in upper elevations, although the snow line on the mountain behind my house is almost level with the road. I had a fasting blood draw at noon this morning for my health insurance program, after that I went to the grocery store to get a bite to eat. By the time I came back home we had just enough time to pick up kids from Grandma’s and head down to homeschool swim class. Swim class this year is MASSIVE, with extra sessions scheduled in order to accommodate everyone. I saw a lot of familiar faces.

Despite the snow, the blood draw, and swimming lessons; we still managed to get done all of Moose’s work without sacrificing quality or scrimping on lessons. As we are 2/3rds of the way through the term, I’ll need to start thinking about exams for Moose soon.

* * * *

Peanut did well with her break week, her handicraft project is to make a skirt that is appropriate for Mass for her (as in, the appropriate length). She’s rather petite so finding age-appropriate clothing that fits her is getting harder as she gets older. All we have left to do is put in the waistband, iron it, then wash it and it should be ready for Mass this weekend!