Friday, 26 September 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

So life here has been super crazy busy this past week, some of it was my own doing, LOL!  Husband flew out of town for a business trip, back to England and the whole family was jealous that he got to go back:)  We have started attending coop classes and trying to make sense of our schedule this year, in addition to this we are adding in additional therapies we need for one of our children.  ON top of all of these changes, I in my infinite wisdom, along with begging from my children, decided to trial dog ownership for a week to a very energetic but sweet dog!  Due to the crazy hectic schedule I have put us under I have become one of THOSE moms that has canceled attending field trips at the last moment realizing that I have overbooked myself.  YES you heard me right I have turned down attending field trips, has the world stopped spinning:)!!!   I have nearly a dozen half written blog posts in my files that I haven't been able to finish this week due to simply crashing on the couch in exhaustion at the end of the day...hopefully I will catch up a little this weekend.

COOP Classes
So lets start with our new Coop classes.  We are trying two new coops this year, one is more academically structured with its classes; homework, quizzes and tests.  Firedrake is taking Spanish, Art and Drama.  She was quite surprised to learn that there would be tests in a art class!!  MarioFan is taking Computer, Spanish and Drama classes.  Taking tests is a new experience for my kids as I don't normally test at home, except the end of year CAT test.   Both kids took their first quiz in Spanish this week and scored 100%, so off to a good start.  I am really working with Firedrake on time management and teaching her study skills of which she is really resistant:(.   Right now a lot of the spanish is review as we had a really excellent tutor last year so it is easy for the kids.  I expect the lessons to get harder as the year progresses.  If we continue with this coop the kids can earn AP credit for some of the classes which will be excellent on their high school transcript which is just 2 years away for Firedrake, hence the reason we are giving the coop a try this year.

The other coop only meets every other Friday is a more laid back coop with more fun classes and opportunities for social meet ups and field trips.   Firedrake is taking J Bizz, card games, and critical thinking classes.  MarioFan is taking J Bizz, Martial Arts and is on the waiting list to attend board games class, so he will have an hour of free time.  We will see how this works out for him.

Meeting some new people at coop and learning to play Pokemon:)

Dog Ownership trial

My kids have been wanting a dog for so long and honestly I love dogs and have always had a dog as a child.  My husband on the other hand is NOT a dog person and is allergic to them.  However the kids and I have finally wore him down and he has agreed to having a family dog as a pet.  In my over excitement I agreed to trial dog ownership of a Treeing walker coonhound named Junebug.  The kids and I learned some very valuable lesson in this trial ownership which I hope to be able to blog about soon!  Suffice to say the trial did not work out and we are still looking.


Field trips

We had two field trips that we actually attended this week one on Sunday making Washer boxes, post to come soon, I hope.  And today, Friday we are going to the children's illustrated museum before heading to our Friday coop this afternoon:)  Again I hope to have a blog post up about it soon.

Meeting new people

Whenever you move, at least for me, it always seems to take a year or so to meet people.  I am slowly finding the right kind of women to surround myself with:)  Right before my husband left for his business trip I was able to have a Mom's night out!  We got together for dinner and a painting class.  It was so fun to have some adult time with some amazing and funny women!


As if the week wasn't busy enough we somehow manage to squeeze in haircuts and Firedrake agreed to try shorter hair!  She was tired of me telling her to brush her hair every hour as she refuses to put clips in her hair so it always looked wild and unkempt!  Thankfully she loves it and so do I.  One less argument per day with my daughter is always a plus:) LOL

However, I did completely forgot about the children's pediatric well visit on Tuesday:(  How I did this after my calendar reminded me and the doctors office gave me a reminder call the day before.  I will just chalk it up to my brain is overfilled with lists of things I have to accomplish.  I have never forgotten a Doctor appt before.  I now have to pay a fee for the 2 missed appt and rescheduled their appts:(.   I need a third way to remind me of scheduled appts since the above two methods obviously did nothing in the way to help me remember the appt.


We have begun our new science unit on the Human anatomy learning about the skeletal system.  We have been doing lots of fun activities to help us learn about the skeleton.  I hope to put together a blog on our science activites soon. IN history we have just completed our unit on the Articles of Confederation and are moving on to learning about Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  MarioFan has completed reading the book and making a lap book about Guillivers travels for this month and Firedrake has  completed reading the books Nathan Hale, Debroah Samson and My Brother Sam is dead this month.  She has written 3 book reports on these books and I have been really pleased with the quality of effort she has put into these reports.  Also this month both kids have read Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz and discuss it with me at great length.  We are plugging along in other school areas as well:)  Our trial of Firedrake taking more responsibility for her own work is proving to be a huge success so far.  I am so proud of her as she is showing great responsibility and her work is of great quality and she is responding to feedback really well (most of the time:))

Both MarioFan and Firedrake had a piano recital at a local restaurant this past Sunday.  Firedrake played a piece she composed herself.  It is the first time they have performed in public since we left England!  I am so pleased that neither of them get stage fright when performing in front of strangers, in fact they actually enjoy it:)!!!!

So that is our week in a week doesn't look any less busy:)  Have a great week!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vacation Pictures

We went away for a week long camping trip to Door County Wisconsin and had a great time.  We are back home and trying to get back into the swing of school so I will be busy for the next week or so while we adjust to our new Coop schedule and try to juggle our new school schedule.  I will admit I am feeling overwhelmed with all the new activities I have signed the kids up for.  I will leave you with a few pictures of our trip and hopefully I will be able to sit down and write a few posts and visit your blogs again soon.

We added a new state to our Camper

Kids swam in the very cold Lake Michigan

We took many nature hikes throughout the area.  It is beautiful there:)

Even did a little learning on the geography of the Wisconsin area-- always have to sneak that in:)
observed nature along the way

Found a forested valley that had dozens of Monarch butterflies.  We have never seen so many in one area before. 

But we did fun activities too like play miniature golf 

visited a maritime museum and learned about the powers of the great lakes and the many ship wrecks

Visited two lighthouses and learned about the keeper lives.

The one school assignment given was the kids needed to read a school book and discuss it with us at dinner:)

Learned to play a new game, one of Daddy's favorite RISK

Watched a boat rescue--which was really neat.  The boat was stuck on a sand/rock bar and the waves were pushing it toward the shore.

Tried a local custom by attending a local fish boil 

and lastly tried their famous Cherry pies.  They were so good we had several while we were there:)
We had several wonderful warm days at the beginning and then the temperature changed and it got cold and rainy.  That did not dampen our spirits and we enjoyed the time away to reconnect as a family before the rush of the new school year!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Art work -- Mauritis Cornelius Escher

Continuing with our Meet the Master Art program this past month we learned about Mauritis Cornelis Escher who was a dutch graphic artist born in the very late 1800's who was known for his famous Tessellations.  He turned to this kind of art work after visiting the famous Alhambra Palace in Spain.  He was captivated by the various designs on the palace floor and walls of the palace.

The kids and I attempted to recreate this style of art work.

First we took a small piece of paper and placed two X's in the upper corners to help remind us the direction of the paper

Then we made unique cuts going straight across and from tool to bottom.

We tape the 4 pieces together to form our Tessellation.

We then used this stencil and traced the stencil and covered the entire paper carefully lining up each line

We then went back over the pencil lines with dark black markers

 colored in the shapes

then each of us looked at our shapes and added black lines to attempt  to make it resemble something

Firedrake added squares and triangles to make each shape look like a bus

MarioFan added circles just because:)

My attempted at this style of art.

Another successful art project completed for us all.  This ends our subscription for Meet the Masters which we have used for the past three years.  I am looking into extending the subscription and working on the additional 20 artists they have available.  We are investigating moving up to the next art level and making the art work more challenging.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Unexpected treasures

While camping we stumbled a few unexpected treasures which is always fun for us as a family.
While hiking along Pickle creek Firedrake spotted crawdads in the creek.  First time I have ever seen them alive.  

Next we stumble across a placed that house the "Liberty Bell of the West"  which I had never heard of before 

We learned that George Rogers Clark capture the town of Kaskaskia on July 1778 stopping the British from taking control of the Illinois area

The bell even has a crack in it just like the one in Pennsylvainia

More on the history of this bell

Next we stopped in the amazing Kaskaskia catholic church which has been completely refurbished and is recognized as the first church in the area brought here by the French jesuits.

It also hold significance to the Kaskaskia Indians who were relocated to OK.  They still occasionally come back to the church for special ceremonies.

This stone christening font is the original dating back to the early 1700's and was used to christen the indians by the jesuits priests.  The Indian drum on the floor in a modern drum used by the Kaskasia indians when they visit and we are told they do the entire ceremony in their own language.

We drove thru Popeye's home town--a storm was brewing so we didn't stop to explore,maybe next time:)
We watched our first ever Tractor pull event...I had no idea what they were doing:)

Enjoy tons of quality time with the kids.  I am teaching MarioFan how to play Gin rummy

Firedrake was able to play Chess with Daddy and even won two games...she was so excited.  My husband does help her to think through her moves but even he says she is starting to get harder to beat:)  

We enjoyed are Labor day weekend getaway especially since my husband has been working so hard recently.  We have one more big camping trip coming up where we are going to Door county Wisconsin.  We can't wait to add another state to our list of places we have explored:)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Learning about French America

We recently went on a camping trip near the town of St. Genevieve which is known for its French colonial architecture and vast french history.  St Genevieve is the oldest settlement of Missouri founded in 1735 by the French  and settled as the area was rich in lead and salt.

The oldest buildings in town are built in what is considered the French Creole style also known as pot eau en terre which means posts in ground which  is very different from the rest of the colonial homes during this period
Majority of homes had wrapped around porches with mini stairs leading up to the roof which had storage space.

This home is currently being restored and should be available for viewing soon 

This is called the Bolduc house and is quite famous.  We went on a tour of the home and saw how the interior was constructed as well as decorated.  The fence around the home was common for this era as it was a means to keep out thieves and livestock that roams the town unattended according to the guide

While the home appears large it only has 2 large rooms inside.   This side housed the dining room and was used for entertaining guests

This ornate box is called the bread box and it has a key that the lady of the house had to keep people from eating the bread before meal times.

I like this old chair which could also serve as an extra table if needed

This mirror was the oldest item in the home dating back to the mid 1700's

The other side of the house was the bedroom, here all the adults, children and even guest stayed when visiting

closet and some of the items they may have had

Between the two large main rooms was the owners office

his scales

the French creole homes is known for it unique roof and could be used as additional storage

Another unique design was the upright posts with some at a slight angle to help with the stability of the home during storms.

Outside of the home housed a well, bread oven, servant quarters and extensive gardens

we saw a bread box which is where bread dough was placed so that it could raise before being baked.

Interesting wheelbarrow from that period

The next home we visited was the Felix Valle home and store.  

One side of this house held the general store and here the kids are examining the many animal pelts we found

bolts of fabric

Lead was very important during this period and this lead bar was found in the back yard and it is thought to have been mislaid somehow as it would not have been thrown out as it was very valuable.

The interior of the was much grander than the other home as this family was extremely wealthily

I really like this picture on glass, forget what it is called

The inside of the house again had only 2 main living areas.  the bedrooms were accessed out on the porch by this small staircase.  the bedrooms are being worked on so we were not able to tour this area

Kids spotted a outhouse

size of the wash basin

This small building housed the laundry room and the slave quarters

wooden shoes

looking at the gardens

We learned quite a bit about how the french colonial people lived in this area and how they feared the invasion of the British.  In fact Napoleon handed over this area to the Spanish to rule for 30-40 years before reclaiming it and selling it to Thomas Jefferson.  A period of history I need to read more about.