Friday, February 7, 2014

Year 2/Week 20: It's not how you start, it's how you finish...

The nice part about this week was that it ended better than it began...thank the Lord...

This school week (number 20 by school attendance days, but more like week 15 by actual curriculum completed..argh) started rather rough. We've slowly but surely been revving back up to full school mode since the December trauma we call "Christmas Break", but last weekend put a little bump in our road. We took last Friday off school and spent the weekend with my husband's family to celebrate the life and send off our dear Aunt Mary to Heaven. She was the sweetest, most innocent soul I've ever known and I was so happy that she got to know my boys so well and play with them for her last years, especially since my dear mother-in-law passed away when my youngest hadn't even turned a year old. So my boys got a life lesson in the beautiful traditions that included the Panachida, or memorial service, of the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church, a sweet Mass at the lovely family church and a coffee and dessert reception given to us by the Sisters of St. Basil at Mt. St. Macrina in Uniontown after the burial. It was their first chance to really see and participate in a funeral service and I was as proud of their grown-up behavior as I was to show them the rich and beautiful heritage that they are inheriting from their father's family.
Aunt Mary, Danny and Ben in 2006

So...after that HUGE life lesson, we started our school week on Monday...with the news that our art class with Abrakadoodle (which was to start a six week session this Tuesday) had been cancelled due to low enrollment. With this following on the heels on our PE class at the local YMCA being cancelled as well this session, I was beginning to be a little frustrated that I won't be able to find something to complete all the boys' electives this session. Last year, I was amazed at all the homeschool activities in the area that seemed to be EVERYWHERE and this year, they seemed to be drying up as fast as I could sign them up. Even the January homeschool days at the Maryland Science Center weren't offering anything remotely interesting to me or the boys, so I hadn't even bothered to sign them up. More on that next time..

But even though art was cancelled, at least the boys seemed to be "back in the saddle" with the schoolwork rhythm again and not fighting their work every day. At least, I thought so, until I realized that one of the reasons they loved the new online Time4Learning curriculum we started as a "breather coarse" after the holidays was because they had been skipping the quiz and test icons on the activity screen and were just breezing through the reading and instruction without really doing any work. Things hit the fan when I had them start doing those little ditties this week and the scores were say the least. So I weaned them off the online history and science portions this week and back onto our regular Sonlight and Mr. Q's lessons and, frankly, I was glad to be back. We are in the Post-Reconstruction American History period and it's a fun time to study the growth of the country across the West by railroad and all the amazing inventions of the time as well. The Sonlight reading that correlates is  "The Great Wheel" by Robert Lawson about the first Ferris Wheel at the Chicago World's Fair and the boys are enjoying it so far - even my pitiful attempts at an Irish accent.  :)

***By the way, does anyone else have a problem with their child not being able to read historical literature because they can't decipher the colloquial speech in the books? It's fun for me to read because I know how it's suppose to sound, but it makes life miserable for my youngest. Their independent reader this time is "Old Yeller" (yeah, I know how it ends and we'll probably all cry, but even though I've dreaded reading it all my life, I want to do it with the boys because it's about a boy and his dog and all...), and I'm actually going to let them read along with an audio book from the library so they can read along but not get bogged down by that.***

In science, they are working on weather fronts and air masses that cause storms, and even though it's very relevant with the crazy weather we are having this winter and we have great conversations, it is still confusing enough to us that we have alot of sympathy for the weatherman around here! It felt really good to be engaged with the boys again talking about things that really mattered and watching their brains work. It's more tiring for me and I get a lot less housework done, but it's so much more rewarding. :)
 Science - Throw boiling water in freezing temps!
Winter Art - colored water frozen in balloons, then peeled!

The week was pretty successful, all in all. We've had snow days one after the other with the public schools here and usually we just trudge along through our homeschool work (usually a little abbreviated).  However, this week by public school snow day number 2, I gave them a real snow day (minus instrument practice and glider time for exercise) on Wednesday. As I was settling in for a relaxing afternoon with the income tax software, Ben rushes up to tell me that "something" was spraying water all over the basement closet - which turned out to be the check valve on the sump pump. Cha-ching...yes, that was the sound of more hundreds of dollars repairing our dear Ryan home substandard hardware. Thank goodness for Len the Plumber, but it took the "relaxing" out of our "day off" for me since I had to keep the place from flooding until he got here...

By Thursday, I was so grateful that my oldest daughter had treated me to a night in Baltimore with her and my oldest granddaughter to see Disney on Ice. It was great to be out with the girls, surrounded by Princess dresses and tiaras and all the old music that I loved singing when my girls were growing up. It was only 20 years ago, but it seems a lifetime ago! Shayla was an angel and Erin and I had the best time just watching her face.
 All the Princesses!
 It's a Small World in Lights - on Ice!
Okay, I'm not actually homeschooling these cuties, but they deserve a pic, too :)

And to top off our week, we ended it well. We had a "Fun Friday" at school, with a quick spelling quiz, Math Multiplication Bingo while sitting on the floor, and listening to our Old Yeller audiobook in the car...on the way to see the new Lego Movie! It really was a hoot and the first time we'd seen a movie on the FIRST day it was released..probably EVER. I highly recommend it to any parent who had a child who loves Legos.  Although once you go, you'll never get THIS song out of your head...:)

Best part of the week - hubby and I made plans for our annual getaway WITHOUT any kiddos this summer, thanks to our rocking sisters Veronica and Marian! I can make it through the rest of the school year with this ahead of me! Woo-hoo!
See ya next week!!!

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