Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - My Sister's Softball Team in Special Olympics State Games

Tia at bat

Coming home!

No lack of confidence here!

Cullen was thrilled to serve as bat boy for final game of playoffs.

Bronze Medal!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ Watercolors

I'm looking forward to updating more here very soon! My computer died recently, but I've almost got this new machine set up the way I want it. Almost.

Hope you're all having a geat week!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Impromptu Nature Study/Writing Session

Frankly, there are some days that I feel I'm dragging my child through the day's schoolwork.

Then there are days that he jumps in of his own accord, with his own interests and questions and ideas. Like this day.

In early morning, wearing pajamas still, he went out with binoculars, paper, pencil and clipboard to do a little nature study from our back deck. Then he wrote a fictional, but realistic piece on the hawk that frequents our back yard. As he shared it indoors with us later, he was quick to point out that his spelling was a mess, but that he intended to edit it and make corrections soon. I couldn't say a word - only smile and give him a hug!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Photos from Orlando, FL, Trip

 Finally learned the difference between Chip and Dale!

 The bus stop was just as much fun as any ride.
 Some Minnie Mouse sweetness!

Some frozen, fruity sweetness!

 Some undersea awesomeness!

 Same shot I took of my oldest two about 15 years ago - unconcerned Dad and all.

 The new Harry Potter area was incredibly crowded, but cool.

 Gun show!

 The Lego-ness Monster

 Chuck made his acting debut in a big way! Go, Dad!

 The Lego store was a daily stop for us.

Cullen on safari. It didn't actually smell bad at all; he's just really good at dramatic anticipation!

The unavoidable waiting-around time gave us a chance to rest our feet and enjoy hanging out together. Overall, it was a terrific get-away!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Camping with Cub Scouts

Along with some of our fellow scouts and their families, we enjoyed gorgeous weather while camping together this past weekend. Other than chilly nights, it was the perfect time to do this - no mosquitoes or gnats!!!

Here's our favorite Cub Scout being his usual dramatic self. There's no telling what he's doing here.

The first morning, the scouts raised a tattered flag that my father-in-law had asked us to retire for one last fly. Cullen got to help his Cubmaster raise it. Later that evening, it was retired and burned along with three other old flags in a respectful and meaningful ceremony.

Along with the expected running around, football tossing, frisbee throwing, stick whittling, game playing, fishing and fort building, the boys (along with several sisters and one little brother) split up into teams for a nature-themed scavenger hunt, learning how to identify local trees during the process.

Several boys tried fishing a bit with their dads, though I'm pretty certain no one caught a fish. They surely heard all of the noise and swam to another part of the lake! Chuck and Cullen tried to find a quiet spot. 

Good thing for Cullen that Dad has excellent balance for getting a snagged line free when necessary!

There was a perfect balance of time together with the group...

and time one-on-one with Dad.

Of course the most anticipated part of camping was by far cooking over the fire.

Cullen perfected the art of roasting hot dogs and after a little practice, of not burning his marshmallows. I love burnt marshmallows, so I helped him out with those.

One of the highlights for me was finding an owl pellet! If you don't know, the pellet is the ball of fur and bones and other odd bits that the owl regurgitates after digesting all that it can of whatever animal it most recently ate. Disgusting, I know, but fascinating. I consider the discovery a reward for not sleeping much because of the owl's hooting ALL night long!

As much as I wanted to keep it and bring it home to add to my collection of odd things, one of the scouts in Cullen's den who is more of a nature-fanatic than even I am was just about beside himself to add it to his own collection, offering me all sorts of incredible things in trade. I did the right thing - though it really should have been easier - and let him have it free and clear - no trade required. I did get a big hug, though, which I accepted gladly. I also insisted that he not take it out of the ziplock bag I put it in until one of his parents could spray it with disinfectant or get him some gloves.

I absolutely love being outdoors. It heals and feeds me in ways that are difficult to describe. Watching the kids enjoy and explore what I already love so much was rewarding, too. I consider this to be time very well spent.

However, I must admit that I have a new and deeper appreciation for indoor plumbing. I'm just saying...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up (in which we don't have much to wrap-up)

Local schools have been on a week-long fall break. I've discovered that it's a losing battle to keep Cullen's attention while squeals and laughter of playing neighborhood children can be heard from outdoors. Actually I'm not mean enough to keep him in while all of the fun is obviously out there!

Though we still managed the basic reading and math almost every day, as well as reading about and discussing our solar system and early colonial life, this has been more of a break than not. I just remembered that we also learned about direct objects in grammar. Okay, maybe we actually did more than I thought!

 Here is a quick shot I snuck of the kids, my little guy as catcher, working out the details before a game of wiffle baseball. Cullen has spent so much time on his bike and scooter and running up and down the street, that I suppose I could count extra P.E. for the whole week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekly Report (a light week and a cemetery)

This past week, we really only had about a third of the usual academic work. Then there were days that I call "Life Skills Days" in which we cleaned out and reorganized Cullen's drawers, closet and various piles of stuff.

While there isn't much to report as far as school work goes, other than we made a bit of progress in the usual subjects, we did have a memorable, impromptu outing. Finding ourselves near the Marietta National Cemetery with a little time to spare before an appointment, we drove in, parked, then walked around to explore. There are veterans buried here from the Union Forces during the Civil War and from just about every war since then. Near a beautiful marble pavilion at the top of the hill is a section of closely placed stones in memory of those whose remains never made it home from World War II. One of these is for my grandmother's brother, George E. Walker, who was held as a prisoner of War for some time, then lost at sea. His stone is in the first row facing the walkway. I was surprised at how easily we found it.

Cullen was in quiet awe at the sheer number of graves. He made a point to read as many of their names as he could when we passed by. We have yet to study a war with any detail, expecting to get to the Civil War in our curriculum either late this year or next fall. While I want to be careful not to overwhelm him with too much detail for his age, I would very much like for him to understand that war is nothing like the video games portray - that there are real people, real families affected in terrible ways. In learning about someone in our own family who was lost and terribly missed, I think he understood just a little bit better.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 25th Annual Great Allatoona Lake Clean-up

Early Saturday morning, Cullen and I joined some fellow scouts at Proctor Landing in Acworth as part of the longest-running organized conservation project in the country. The clean-up covered the shore areas of as much of the lake as possible, including a couple of counties and an huge number of volunteers.


We scoured the ground for even the smallest bits of trash...

mostly finding bottles, cans, plastic food wrappers and thousands of cigarette butts. Our most unusual finds included a camouflage t-shirt, a dangly earring made of can pull tabs, a couple of rubber balls and a boiled egg yolk hardened to the point that it felt like a rock. (You would think some animal would've eaten that.) We watched a group of scouts from another pack toting, inexplicably, a stray door from a port-a-potty up from the water's edge!

I only had my phone for photos, and this is by far the oddest shot I've ever taken. I think I was moving forward as I snapped. Looking at it makes me a little dizzy! Anyway, this is Cullen and his Cubmaster, Rob.

We live very near the lake, as do most of the scouts in Cullen's pack, so it was easy for each of us to really care about taking care of the area. After we had covered our assigned area, we gathered at a picnic table. The boys were most surprised and incredulous that there so many beer bottles had been thrown into the woods.They had trouble understanding why those folks didn't use one of the very evident trash cans. Honestly, I wondered the same thing.

Here's our group of kids - the boys and a few sisters that joined in. They seemed to each have a sense of accomplishment, as the difference they had just made was very evident to the eye. Of course, they were eager to get a commemorative patch, too. I have to say, the whole event felt as much fun as work.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up

I've been struggling with whether or not to do weekly wrap-up posts, as they are not easy to make interesting most of the time. They are a great way for me to see that we actually did accomplish a few things, despite my paranoid version of perfectionism! So if you'll bear with me, I think I'll give it a whirl.

The biggest hits for the week with Cullen all had to do with our unit on space and the solar system. We've been reading from several sources, and got in on an astronomy workshop at the Tellus Museum nearby. Even though it meant staying up really late, this event was very interesting and informative. Though the cloud cover prevented us looking through the big telescope at Jupiter, we did get to see inside the observatory, learn about the night sky in the planetarium, (good weather guaranteed in there!) and hear talk on Jupiter and its moons - with giant photos on screen - by an astronomer. Cullen ran down afterward to ask for his autograph. The classic styrofoam model was fun for me, too, because my little guy let me paint a planet or two!

You are here...

Our history study has focused on early colonists and Native Americans for the past couple of weeks, with Jamestown, Pocahontas and the Powhatan the week prior and with the Mayflower, Separatists & Strangers, Squanto and the Puritans this past week, with a bit of map work included. Some of our favorite books have been:

For math, we are primarily working from Singapore 3A and learning multiplication facts. The computer game Timez Attack is Cullen's favorite way to practice - no surprise here. We currently only have the free download, but I'm planning to purchase the full version just because he enjoys it AND it's working!

We are using some new things this year for language arts, which I'm very pleased with so far. Look for more detailed posts soon on All About Spelling and especially about MCT Island level series. I am LOVING both, and Cullen asks often to do lessons from these. We are also giving Wordly Wise Vocabulary a try with an easy, unrushed schedule. Cullen is currently reading The Whipping Boy.  

I've not yet added in Latin, but plan to do that this week. Also, we'll get back on track with some memory work with a poem and scripture verse. Enrichment classes are still a favorite part of his week, with chess, acting and a Lego simple machines class every Wednesday.

It seems I've misplaced my camera somewhere, and I'm lost without it! Hope to have it in-hand very soon. My phone doesn't take the greatest photos, as you can see. Maybe it's in my car...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Cullen's Favorite Things

Cub Scouts...

A new super-cool comforter for his bed...

Playing chess with big brother...