"The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father's work of creation." (CCC2205)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paleontology ala. homeschoolers

Our other semester of science this year has been Paleontology. I've found that the way to get my girls to learn in a way that sticks -- is to have them write a *report* -- about whatever -- they learn their topic, they learn their sisters' topics ... they just LOVE the freedom of report writing. That sounds crazy -- but it works -- we usually only have one report going at a time -- we present them at dinner (so Dad can hear them) and I semi-grade them. They're so awesome everyone gets a good grade. M&R sometimes lose points for spelling or punctuation.

So when we were approaching Paleontology -- it's less easy to think of a good *report* we might do -- instead I came up with the idea of "fact sheets" I looked up a LONG list of dinosaurs and put down 30 or so that I recognized ... separated into categories so that we'd be sure to do at least one of each type ... the big girls chose 7 each (plenty left over) and researched when they lived -- what they ate -- when they died -- what they looked like, etc.

Then yesterday when we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History -- we were ready to SEE our fossils in real life ... that was fun.

Before we turned to fact sheets I made sure we began at the beginning with an overview of the earlier periods -- after the big dino age we made sure to cover the post-extinction event animals up to the ice age animals -- this is something we NEVER learned in school when I was a kid -- so I've been learning right along with them. I love having a better grasp of what happened when!

Now we all wish we lived close enough to visit the La Brea Tar Pit ... That was fascinating to learn more about!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seeing the Discovery ... and saying goodbye to the Enterprise

Earlier this school year we did a semester on Astronomy -- one of the places I desperately wanted to go was to the Udvar-Hazy wing of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum ... the one most of us are familiar with is on the mall in Washington, the Udvar-Hazy is in Chantilly -- in spitting distance of Dulles International Airport. 

With the old space shuttle they had there for the longest time, the Enterprise (never actually went into space, it was a test shuttle) getting ready to go to its new home in New York ... and the Discovery shuttle freshly planted in the bay ... how could we not go?

It did not disappoint! I know we could have gone on a tour and heard lots of things -- but that doesn't work with out usual museums-with-kids plan of see what you like ... and keep moving ... I don't want them to think museums are boring -- and often those tours are interesting to adults and maybe older kids -- but my little ones would just hate museums in no time if I made them be still for frequent talks ... 

So ... Here are my girls with the Discovery ... 

Which is way cool and nicely space worn ... I hope that one day we can go again and get closer -- maybe touch it even - but she's freshly at the museum -- I'm sure there are a million and one safety things if that were ever to be a possibility ... 

We also got to see, from the control tower, the Enterprise sitting on the back of its 747 waiting to fly to NY to its new home. This was a gold star day for us!

Blessed first Sacrament

This past Sunday our littlest little girl was Baptized ... so welcome little T! Here is a real WHOLE FAMILY picture -- that's a rare thing!

and here is the moment of impact for little T ... 

Today is Wednesday -- and her little forehead doesn't smell like the Chrism oil any more. So ... I guess I'll have to finally wash her hair. I've been inhaling her head for the past few days. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baby has the sniffles ...

she's nearly well -- but it seems -- I've hooked her on sleeping in her bouncy seat or swing -- even for naps. I've tried all day to get her to sleep elsewhere and she's not buying it. 

I've caved for this afternoon, she really needed some rest -- tomorrow, we shall try again!

short update. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Homeschooling update ...

Unfortunately my girls are going to be working into summer to finish their school work this year, often we're done in May -- but this year we'll be pushing on into June -- possibly even July if the work isn't done. We took off SO many weeks when tiny T was born, in the hospital and getting used to becoming more used to being a family of 7. I knew we were missing the weeks -- but there was no way we were going to get work done those weeks, so we just ... didn't. 

I thought -- maybe we'll work VERY hard the last few months of the school year, not taking any days off for trips or business like we often do -- and we'll still be on track. It would have been possible -- but we didn't work extra hard, we took our usual days off when we were busy -- when Daddy stayed home from work, when Grandma wanted to stop by for a visit -- Of course we'll have a day off, why not? Well -- why not is because we'll be working long into summer break at this rate. Oh well! The work has to get done -- and it will get done. 

I don't worry too much about these kinds of things because the girls are, for the most part, ahead of where they would be in public school anyway -- and I know that they could take their end of year test at the beginning of the year and pass it -- so why worry? Yet -- in order for ME to feel comfortable with them moving on to the next grade, they obviously have to finish all the work for the grade they're in. 

Today the bigger girls are working on their reports on ancient Rome -- and tomorrow I'll assign them each dinosaurs to write me short fact sheets about -- I'm thinking 5-7 each -- depending on how many they are interested in -- this is the one thing we're not behind in -- wrapping up the Roman Empire means we're technically done with ancients as far as the book wants us to go -- but I want to learn about the Vikings and Norse gods -- so we can have fun with that for the rest of the school year. For science this year I decided to do two big units -- for the first half of the year on Astronomy and the second half of the year on Paleontology. This has worked out WONDERFULLY ... 

In a few weeks Patrick is taking a week off work for a little spring break (think we'll get our school work done that week? Likely NOT) and we plan to take a day (hopefully two) to spend in DC at the museums -- we want to visit the space shuttle at the Udvar Hazy wing of the Air and Space museum as well as visit the Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaur fossils. I want to have these fact sheets done before we go!

Of course I could spend a whole day just in the Smithsonian art museum ... but the kids would get bored -- so we try to keep it moving. 

We're also compiling a list of other places we want to visit -- There just aren't enough hours in a day! We live close enough to drive into DC for a day and then come home  -- it's a LONG day, but we don't have to sleep in a hotel, we can pack snacks for the ride -- bring a book on CD from the library to make the drive seem shorter. I forget what a blessing this is until I start thinking of ALL the things I'd like to do with our time in the capital ... too much to do, too few hours in the day!

Holy Thursday

^ this is little e making some mud pies -- complete with her sparkly skirt, sparkly flip flops and sparkly butterfly clip in her hair. She is just *so* this person. I think that her tendency to be flamboyant with tiaras and butterfly wings and such is on overload since her baby sister came along. It's her way of making sure she gets attention too -- and it's totally working, everyone she meets complements her on her fancy attire and she gives them a rather bored description of having a baby sister so as to get the attention back where it belongs. 

How to fix this??

Oh well I guess there's no fixing it. She'll be who she is. I'll just keep trying to temper it with some wisdom. The other day we were heading out to Holy Thursday mass and we had this conversation:

Me: "e ... you can't wear your butterfly wings to church, that's just saying: 'Look at me! Look at me!' "
Little e: "I don't say 'Look at me' -- I just do my moves, and people look at me!"

Later, at mass, she proceeded to dance her way all the way down to have her feet washed -- and remained there "helping" while everyone else in our family participated (except me and T -- she was kinda grumpy) -- not stopping until her aunt washed the feet of the gentleman behind HER and then -- Little e danced all the way back to her seat. Make me a servant, indeed -- 

Time to catch back up ...

Happy Easter all -- we had a long Lent where it seems Patrick and I gave up *sleeping* but I think little T is back on board with normal sleep patterns. I pray she is anyway!

This weekend T came down with her first illness, it was just a slight cough on Thursday and Friday -- but it was keeping us up at night because the cough was worse when she laid down. This continued over the weekend and her night time troublesome cough became a morning cough that was making me very nervous -- I've had preemies before, I've dealt with dozens of kids' illnesses -- usually I don't take them to the Pediatrician unless I'm REALLY worried -- so yesterday I took her to the Pediatrician -- with having spent that week in the NICU I'm especially worried that something will move into her lungs and compromise her breathing. 

On the bright side, her cough had not moved into her lungs and the Pediatrician isn't worried that the cough is something serious -- she does, however, have her first ear infection. This explains, hopefully, why she wasn't sleeping well and has been in a generally bad mood for the last few days. She's usually such a low maintenance baby, and these past few days I haven't been able to set her down for more than a few minutes unless she was totally asleep. Poor little thing. 

Thank goodness we're on the path to wellness!

 And for your last Easter update -- here is a picture of the bigger girls -- this was as good a photo as I could get of all of them before an egg hunt at their grandparents' ...