A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Once a week, I have Claire doing a special class for Peter. We call it 'babysitting time'. She is completely in charge of Peter for about 1 1/2 hours. She's not allowed to ask for assistance, ideas, or help while she is with him. She can ask for it beforehand, of course, but I try to encourage her to learn how to think outside the box and come up with her own ideas. I'm still in the house the whole time, so if something disastrous happens, I'm right there, but the idea is for her to begin to take charge and become a good babysitter. It has become their MOST favorite thing! When I tell Peter it's babysitting time, his eyes light up and he says, "I'll go find Claire!" She is really blossoming, as well! She has done a GREAT job thinking up ideas and activities! They play kindergarten games together (like Story Cubes, Tell Tale, Letter Bingo, UNO, Millebornes...), make snacks together (like lemonade and fruit salad), and generally have a fantastic time! Claire actually has not yet asked me what she should do. They come up with their fun together. She pays total attention to him the entire time. He LOVES it! It's a win-win!
The other day, Claire's big idea was to have a tea party. They spent almost an hour carefully chopping up fruit. They made tea. They put their favorite stuffed animals in 'chairs' (cups, colanders, large mixing bowls, etc.), then sat down and had a High Tea! It was SO cute! These are the things that do my heart good. Such a wonderful experience for my kiddos! How I love them! :)
Andrew aced his first Snap Circuits test written by Josh. SOOOOO cute to see this big brother pass his knowledge on to his little brother! Does my heart good! :)
Now that we have electricity well in-hand, we'll focus on spelling... :D
We've been learning about cells and DNA these first 2 weeks of science. The kids are so cool--they've now built their own edible cells, know all the parts of the cell, built DNA models, AND they know what DNA stands for! They keep saying it over and over as they're building things or writing things: "Deoxyribonucleic Acid" Proud mom, right here!
Did you know that Wednesday comes from the Nordic god Woden? It used to be Wodensday. That's why there's a 'd' in the spelling. Just thought I'd throw that out there. I thought it was pretty cool.
Wednesdays have to be my new favorite day of the week. Our days are BUSY BUSY BUSY, as most people around me know. It's only going to get busier, but that's ok. We do really well with full schedules. However, Wednesday is the best.
On Wednesday early afternoon, I get to go to scripture class with some very lovely ladies where I'm always uplifted! I love this class! It is my weekly highlight!!!
The other thing I love about Wednesday is the afternoon classes I have scheduled for my kids. Josh is an electronics/engineering/robotics fanatic. Andrew looks up to his brother in all things. I don't have the first clue how to do any of that stuff, but Andrew needs/wants a working knowledge. Solution? Josh is teaching Andrew a class on electronics! I got a student/teacher manual to go with all the snap circuits we have, and Josh is taking his role as teacher, and Andrew as student, very seriously! They're having a marvelous time! Josh gave Andrew his first test today, and Andrew aced it! I love it!
While Josh is teaching Andrew, I had to think up something for Claire and Peter to do. So, I'm having Claire do 'babysitting 101'. :) She has to come up with ideas of activities/games/crafts, etc., for Peter and herself to enjoy for 1 hour WITHOUT my help or assistance whatsoever! Peter gets his Kindergarten play time (they've been playing kindergarten math games all afternoon), and Claire is learning how to be more of an independent thinker, which she REALLY needs. It's a win-win situation!
Soon, we'll be off to music classes, where Josh is taking violin, Claire is taking flute, and I'm teaching saxophone (of all the things to teach...)! After music, Josh is going to his very first Boy Scouts meeting, and the kids and I will hang out here and have art with grandma over Skype. Then, around 10pm, I'll pass out.
Then, at 5:30am, my alarm will ring and I'll do it all again. It may sound exhausting, but you know what? I LOVE IT!!! I'm SUPER excited to get out of bed every day! I feel fulfilled and joyful when I see the strides these kiddos are making! It's not always perfect and full of flowers and rainbows and butterflies, but I'm more than willing to take those cloudy/stormy days along with the ones full of sunshine.
As part of our Medieval Studies this year in history, we plan to celebrate each monthly feast from Medieval times. What better day to celebrate than the first day of school? We are using a book called 'Medieval Feasts and Festivals' and it gives detail on how feasts were run, what sorts of foods they ate, and many details on each of the monthly feasts of the year. It so happens that August is the feast of Lammas Day. I took a picture of the kids (and Devin) enjoying our lovely feast, printed it off, and used it as a journal entry for each of the kids. So, I will use their words to explain what the Lammas Day feast is all about:
Peter: St. (sit) Sm. Bkn. (bacon) TD. (teddy) Bn (Mr. Bean). (Plus many pictures of the bread creations they made to eat.)
Andrew: It was really fun and very filling! It was so cool! I learned the feast is about celebration. We celebrated Lammas Day, which is the feast of the bread. We ate pottage, roast chicken wings, pineapple and cherries. We 'brought home the bacon'! It was fun! We entertained people by dancing.
Claire: The courses in order: 1 Fruit, 2 Bacon, 3 soup (pottage), 4 chicken, 5 bread, bread, bread, bread, bread. It was really fun! After I got into my pajamas, we did a peasant dance with me, Andrew and Dad. The festival Lammas Day, is in honor of bread, bacon, and harvest.
Josh: I loved preparing for this feast! Making all the different flavours of bread was so fun! We lit candles on the table and turned off the lights for the best effect. We had five different courses and each of them were so good!
And there you have it! It was a fantastic feast and good times were had by all. Here's to hoping all our feastly celebrations are as successful as this one! :)
We finished it off with celebratory 'peasant' dancing.
I absolutely love watching my kids create. They're pretty amazing young people and can be so passionate! Here are some of our creations lately:
Mini Lego City!! Andrew and Peter spent 2 entire days working on this Lego mini city. They have a book that gives ideas of things to do with Legos, so they thought, "hey, let's make a miniature city!", and off they went! They were so proud of their creation!
Space Challenge!! Josh is doing Lego Robotics right now, and he's working on a space challenge that has him creating a mock mission to Mars. It's pretty complicated and impressive! I love the concentration and dedication he puts into this! He spends every waking minute (that I let him) over at the computer and the Legos putting this together and programming it all in!
Rainbow Loom and Beading!! Claire is always hard at work creating beautiful works of art that you can wear. She makes necklaces and bracelets and is always giving them away to friends. Many times, I will pass her room and she'll have Andrew and Peter at work with her, stringing beads together and talking about whom they're going to give them to! :)
We're studying the Romans right now, so I found an 'excavation' kit where you dig through the clay and find the 'ancient' artifacts. This one has Roman coins! They're hard at work using shishkabob skewers to painstakingly scratch away the clay to find the hidden objects. The screams of "I think I found something!!" is met with, "Cool! Let's find out which one it is!" and it makes my heart happy.
What is that dark spot in the pool??
It's my newest Fishy!! :) Peter started swim lessons for the first time last week, and he is LOVING it!! I've been pleasantly surprised how quickly he's catching on, and I finally don't feel super mega adrenaline rushes and mini heart attacks every time he gets into the pool! Hooray! :)
Claire and Andrew are also taking lessons, and it's so fun to watch them learning all the strokes! Hooray for summer swimming...and the fact that this counts as PE!!! Bwahahaha! See? The learning never ends! :D
This week has been a busy one. I had the opportunity to help out with the summer camp at the embassy. We did lots of crafty things and science experiments (tornadoes in a jar, volcanoes, sensory activities, etc.), and we wore ourselves out swimming. It was fun, and I definitely have MUCH more respect for Jessica--my friend who's running the thing this year! Kudos to you, my friend! What an undertaking! I only did part of the day, and I wasn't even in charge--and I was WORN OUT! Maybe I'm just getting lazy, since I only watch 4 kids all day long.
Anyway, an interesting side note to this, was the fact that my boys suffered. They were totally worn out. They became aggressive and grumpy and totally uncooperative. Yes, all of them. Poor Josh. He was down in the dumps and angry at everyone. I didn't know what to do!! THEN, Thursday came. That afternoon, right after the afternoon craft for summer camp, Josh and I ran over to the first Lego Robotics class. Wow. THIS is what the kid needed. He smiled the whole time. He was kind, helpful, thoughtful, and polite. He was focused (and it wasn't on the book he was listening to on his ipod)! He was transformed! Look at his happy face! :)
So, his new addiction is his little Lego robot. He's been playing with the software, finding problems, trying to fix them, and generally enjoying himself doing something that seems just second nature to him. Anything robotic, electronic or computer related he is taking to like it's a second skin. I love watching it! I don't understand anything he talks about, but he does. He's doing robotics, plus I'm having him do these workbooks on electronic circuit boards. It's fascinating to watch, since I give him reading assignments before he puts stuff together. I quiz him on all of his reading, and he knows it backwards and forwards...and I STILL have no idea what he's talking about! Oh well. I am not mechanically minded. I don't know much about electronics, robotics, computers, etc., but that's ok. I'm happy that he's found a niche, and I love to watch him delve in and learn about it. This is my joy.
So, we're home now. It wasn't so bad, really... Our first flight from SLC to Paris was pretty fun since we all just sat and watched movies, however, we all paid for it! We got to Paris at 11am our time, and had stayed up for like 30 hours. DOH! The layover in Paris wasn't so bad, since they have playstations set up for the kids to play video games, and a little play area for the smaller kids to play in...but the flight from Paris to Amman was pretty grueling. Claire slept the ENTIRE time, and I could not get her to wake up. So did Andrew...until he woke up SCREAMING because he had to go to the bathroom. Funny thing, though--apparently, I had fallen asleep, too, because I remember dreaming that I was looking around, wondering whose poor kid was crying and if I could help, only to find out it was mine. :/ Devin had gone to the bathroom with Peter, so Andrew was all by his lonesome (I was sitting between Josh and Claire). He was still mostly asleep, so he couldn't get his seat belt off to get out of his chair. I finally woke up and realized it was Andrew, jumped up over Josh (who was sleeping), and dragged him out of his seat. Sadly, there was quite the line and the people in the bathrooms took a loooooong time (Devin and Peter being one of them). I finally got Andrew in, and he was in there forever. I kept peeking in, and he was just standing there, saying he was ok. Then, I finally poked my head in and asked if I could help, and found out that he had messed his pants while waiting in line. *sigh* So, now WE were one of THOSE people who take a really looooong time in the bathroom. :/ I helped him our of his pants and just chucked the underwear in the trashcan (sorry airplane people) and wiped him off as best I could with wet paper towels. Ah, well. Another bad thing about the last flight--the food was TERRIBLE. We're talking BAD. Ugh. AND there was no inflight movie! What?? It's a 5 hour flight, people! They would sometimes put some random tv show on. But good grief, even the scrolling map of where you are is better than a blank screen.
Even with all of that, it was a good trip. No other incidents. And it could have been much worse. The lady behind me had an 18 month old, a 7 month old, and she was 5 months pregnant. The 7 month old baby screamed the entire 5 hours. My heart ached for her. She was very nice. I'm glad for all the horrible kid experiences I've had on airplane trips, as it makes me not annoyed at all when kids are loud or screaming on airplanes. I empathize and remember and shiver at the memory, so I never want to be those horrible ignorant people who made my life more miserable than it already was when I was having those problems. :/
But, we made it. It's nice to be home, be mom again, and to get into a regular routine. The kids are doing 'homeschool lite' (meaning we're reviewing and drilling in the mornings), we're spending lots of time at the pool, and we're just enjoying playing. It's nice and warm again, and I'm actually turning on the A/C, so for those of you who know how cold I get, this is a big step for me! :) I'm looking forward to getting some more groups started and getting the kids back into music lessons and easing us back into our rigorous school schedule. Schedules are just better for us all around. The kids function better and I can think better. It's funny how even as a homeschool mom, I can't wait for school to start again! :)
On Monday and Tuesday, for four hours each day, I had Josh shut up here in my room taking a National Standardized Test. Now, normally, I'm not a big tester. I don't teach to the tests. I don't feel like it's a real indicator of intelligence or learning. However, I thought it was a good opportunity to see where Josh stands as far as 'national standards', and see if there were any holes that I needed to take care of in the near future.
I admit that during the testing, I became a little concerned. For most of the tests, he was allotted about 1 hour. Usually, though, he'd pop out after about 10 minutes saying he was done! What? I kept asking him if he was sure he had answered all the questions... :/
Today, I got the results back. Wow. He was in the 80-90 percentile in everything (except one, which I knew about already, but even that one wasn't so bad)! The test said his total test average put him roughly on par with a first semester 11th grader! WOOT! I can't even begin to tell you how VINDICATED I feel!! Ha! I know, I know, I just finished ranting about how tests don't really tell you anything and blah, blah, blah--the kid did AWESOME! A few of his test scores said the grade equivalent was post high school (Math problem solving and science)! Talk about mom pride! No, not pride in what a good teacher I am (*shine my badge here*--but I didn't even GO INTO the room when he was testing. I was tempted to, but I ), but pride in my son who did such an outstanding job. See? Homeschooling doesn't ruin kids. Look what he's learning! Look at the leaps-and-bounds progress he's made in the past 2 years!
Way to go Josh! See? You CAN do anything!! :)
"It's lovely Bobbing Along! Bobbing along at the bottom of the Beautiful Briny Sea!"
For the past few weeks, Devin, Josh and I have been taking our classes for scuba certification. This weekend, we DID IT! Woohoo! We went down to Aqaba (the Red Sea) and completed our open water certification and even got to do a couple of 'fun dives'. What an amazing experience! I was flying! I flew over the top of corals and fishes, a shipwreck and a tank! I saw Nemo and Dory--the whole cast of Finding Nemo, actually--angel fish, flute fish, puffer fish, stone fish, LOTS of lion fish, glass fish, sea horses, scorpion fish, moray eels, ETC... Plus all the different kinds and colors of corals. Wow. It was so pretty! We saw about 10 lion fish living inside of an old abandoned tank under the water (along with everything else that lived on that thing)! We explored an old shipwreck of 'The Cedar Pride'. By the mast there were lion fish hanging around and a huge school of glass fish--and I swam right through the middle of the glass fish! It made me laugh! They were so cute--they just sat there in front of my mask and looked at me! (It's a weird sensation to giggle underwater. Just thought I'd throw that in.)
Josh is currently working on his KidVid (basically it's a documentary of Jordan from his perspective for an FS competition next year), so we bought an underwater video camera! He took lots of very short videos. Maybe I'll be able to post a couple. It's pretty amazing! Even with a video documenting the fact that we were all there UNDER the water, it's still hard to believe! :) I LOVED it and can't wait to go back and do it again! The hardest part: Walking into the water with 4 million pounds of stuff strapped to your back, and walking back out of the water with 4 million pounds of stuff strapped onto your back--especially after being weightless for 30+ minutes. Amazing. How cool is it that we went scuba diving in the Red Sea? Yah, we're pretty blessed.
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
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