Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Enrichment Classes and Kudzu Blossoms

The new sessions began today with the Georgia Enrichment Program for Homeschoolers. Classes are held every Wednesday at a small former school not far from us. Cullen has two classes: Fun With Chess and Hands-On Robotics with a lunch time between the two. Many of the kids and parents brought lunch and ate together. There was time for a little free play and getting to know each other, too.

According to Cullen, the classes were really fun. His competitive nature is showing though - he's all excited to find out that there are chess tournaments and robotics competitions. His eyes are full of the medals and trophies he plans to win after he masters these new skills! Well, I guess he comes by it honestly...

The other children and Moms seem to be really friendly. Of course, Cullen doesn't have a shy cell in his body, so he dove right into groups, chatting away. I like that there is a range of ages in each class. Everyone seemed to get along well, and especially in the robotics class, the older kids were helping the younger with patience and respect, not treating them like babies at all.

Behind the building where everyone meets are mountains of kudzu vine climbing over trees, bushes, etc. As much an annoyance as these plants are, they have the most incredibly sweet-smelling blossoms, similar to grape-flavored candy! I spent half an hour at least wandering along the edge of it just to breathe it in! They don't last long at all if picked, so I only plucked one to share with Cullen and a few stray children running around.

Overall, it was a great day. Cullen is making new friends and learning new things, I got to meet several new potential friends AND I spent some time along the edge of a blooming kudzu patch!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our First Full Day of First Grade

I know I told you I'd planned to start sooner, but vacation and moving Taylor to college and my sister, Tia, to a new home - plus a little recovery time - had to be fit into these past couple of weeks. Today, we did the full schedule, only about 30 minutes behind where I hoped to be. (That's typical of me anyway!)

Cullen's morning included a short devotional after breakfast, a little bit of handwriting practice (he is convinced that handwriting is eeevilllll) then one of his favorite subjects, math. After a short play break, we read a little history together about how early people lived, then talked about different countries and cultures. We'll be working some geography into this time as we go along. Cullen did a wonderful job on his reading, then managed to do a short copywork assignment without complaining.

For science, we learned about the water cycle (Everything is more fun on a whiteboard with markers!) and set a measuring cup out in the sun with a few ounces of water in it that we plan to check this evening to see if a measurable amount of water has evaporated. We had lunch and made a trip to the library, then he did a little work in his Explode the Code workbook on compound words.

Technically, that was it for our scheduled schoolwork, but he went ahead and made a page on sand crabs (discovered during our beach vacation) for his Nature Notebook. You can see I finished writing his sentence for him - after such a busy day, he said he just couldn't write anything else! So he wrote, "Sand crabs are the color of sand" and dictated for me to write, "so birds can't see them." I'm proud of his efforts on the little crab!

As I type, Cullen and his cousin/buddy, Justin, are playing together in his room. They have danced like crazy to some hip-hop addition facts cd's (hilarious!) and are now settled down to a game of Mario Cart. I'm sure as soon as they catch their breath, they'll be jumping around and bouncing off the walls again.

Oh! This past weekend, we made a trip to the pet store and bought a new home for Dookie. Looks like she's happy in her new digs, though it took her hours to figure out that the aquarium rocks are not edible. It was a lot of fun to watch her try!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Birthday Party!!!

This past Sunday afternoon, Cullen had a birthday party with his friends at an indoor playground with a pirate theme. We arranged for a coordinating cake and practiced up on saying "Arrrrgh!"
Cullen had a blast with his buddies.

There was sand everywhere - necessary when digging for treasure...

Air guns all around for shooting foam cannonballs...Plenty of things to climb on...
and crawl through...
Lots of general silliness...
and smiles!
We did the party room thing, cut up the pirate cake...

and opened some really cool gifts.

I was so proud of Cullen for being a gentleman (except for a brief episode of wedgie exchanges with a few of the boys!) and for being a gracious host. And for reading his own cards!! We are working on Thank You notes now to mail out shortly.

Our littlest boy is six years old now - not at all a baby anymore.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Week at the Beach

We've been really busy having fun here at the end of summer, just returning from a week at the beach! Eric and Taylor, Queenie and Papa, Dad, Cullen and I got to spend some time together enjoying the sun and shore. For part of the week, two of Cullen's cousins that we don't often see came to stay and play with us. Here is a photo of Cullen, Tucker and Fletcher ready to begin a little night-time crab hunting.

The sand crabs were so tiny that their little claws were no threat at all. We picked them up by hand! The boys would occasionally empty their catch out onto the sand in order to round up the same little crabs again. I tried to get photos of the critters, but they were so hard to see against the sand that you'd think I was just shooting buckets of sand.

Cullen is working on an entry in his Nature Notebook about his time at the beach. He wants to include the little crabs, the seagulls, waves and ocean, and doing cartwheels on a sandbar out a little way into the water. Where the cartwheel idea came from, I'm not entirely sure, but I watched him do them!

We celebrated Cullen's birthday on Wednesday while we were there. Queenie, Fletcher and Tucker helped assemble a Lego City Police set that Cullen got as a gift. (He's been saving his money for months to buy it, but was still about $20 short. Now he can buy a companion set.)

Time with big brother and sister was another big plus for Cullen this past week - for me, too!!! He adores both of them!

Dad and Eric also took Cullen golfing with them one day, and from what they say, he did pretty well. He was just tickled to get to play on a real course with the grown-ups instead of just the putt-putt places he would normally get to visit.

The swimming lessons were finished just before we left on this trip, and there was plenty of pool time to practice. Cullen enjoys swimming underwater now, whereas a few weeks ago that was absolutely not even an option!