Saturday, April 27, 2013

Random April Update

We haven't taken a lot of pictures lately; just a few random ones on our phone.  But we have been busy!  

I've reached the last month of pregnancy and am definitely feeling it :)  So sore by evening time and the baby feels like it is going to kick/ punch his/ her way out of my belly.  It is very entertaining to the girls!  Karis in particular loves to push on my belly to try to make the baby push back.  Everything concerning baby looks great and I love my midwife!  I am so excited about avoiding the hospital this time around. I do have to raise my iron level by 1.5 in order to give birth at the center, but I am diligently working on it with nasty Floradix and dessicated liver pills and molasses so I'm not too worried.  As long as BabyD4 will stay put for at least two more weeks til I can be re-tested I should be fine.  And I've no history of going more than a week early (I'm much more likely to be overdue) so I'm sure the numbers will go up before labor begins.  I have been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, which I don't remember having in past pregnancies, but I'm just hoping that means my body will be more ready and labor will go faster :)

The girls have been loving the beautiful spring weather and I've been loving the chance to throw them outside in the back yard every evening while I make dinner.  No more 4:00 whininess!  They have a special dirt hole that they love playing with in addition to our yard toys.  If I didn't have to wear out my back cleaning them off every time they came in, it would be perfect :)  The girls are in love with our neighbors and they come over to play just about every afternoon.  If the girls hear the neighbor kids outside at any time of the day, they immediately start begging to go outside and join them.  They are still getting used to the bugs of spring-time and Karlie is known to come inside pre-maturely if she sees a spider.  But she usually returns after a short break when she sees how much fun everyone else is having through the window :)  I am so thankful for the fenced in backyard!

Here are some random pictures from our phones from the last 2 weeks:

Mark took the girls to a special Easter musical at our church and they LOVED the special cross that was part of the show.

We started Karis out in Karlie's 4-year old Sunday School class because they were both pretty shy and wanted to be together.  After subbing in that class one week last month, however, I quickly realized that both of them had overcome their shyness and Karis was definitely ready for her age group.  So we moved her up and Karlie was determined to come see Karis' new class:

My aunt gave the girls some of her grand-daughter's toys and clothes.  The girls found this wig particularly hilarious:

A young man who was in Mark's youth group 8 years ago when we previously lived here is now the photographer for the local natural food co-op.  He found out I shop there and asked to take pictures of our family for the magazine.  Imagine my surprise to find that we were on the cover!

A random picture Mark took of the little girls pretending to be asleep in their reading nook.  Usually when they pretend play, Karis is the Mama, Karlie is the daddy, and Abbi is their little girl.  Apparently Karis had told them it was nap time :)

i celebrated my 31st birthday last weekend.

These awesome cupcakes were my favorite treat!

Abbi enjoyed the leftovers so much that she really tried to eat the plate to get every single bit!

Karlie was excited because Grandma braided her hair:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tips for Surviving (and Loving) the first year of Classical Conversations

Well folks, we made it through our first year of Classical Conversations!  And truly, we loved it.  I cannot think of a better program for my girls and me.  We learned so much and had so much fun!  My girls love to sing and each week's memory work has a song to go with it, so they learned the info almost effortlessly.  I am amazed and impressed with the program and thought I would share what I had learned to help my girls learn such vast amounts of information.  I have tons of friends who are considering the program and they have all asked what we do at home to supplement the one morning a week that we meet with our tutor and friends.  So here are my thoughts:

There are 3 basic things that we do: our Memory Board, our itunes playlist, and a summary binder of all the weeks' information.

1.  Memory Board.  This has been so helpful!  We only go over CC info about 2-3 times a week and only for about 20-30 minutes.  That is truly all it takes.  And the girls are always excited to take a break from our tablework (math, phonics, handwriting, etc) to pull out the board and start singing and dancing to our songs.  Even Abbi loves to do our memory board.  For great instructions on how to make a tri-fold memory board, visit THIS LINK.  But you can really make it however you would like.  I ended up putting 2 weeks of history, science, math, and geography on the board at a time (one for review and one for new information).  This way I made sure that the girls did not forget anything from the previous week.  I started out by printing off the week's information every Sunday, but sadly did not always have time to do it and we got behind.  I finally stumbled across power point posters for the entire semester on CC Connected and printed the entire second semester off at once.  Let me tell you, that is the way to do it.  It was so nice to have everything ready when it was time to update our memory board each week!

My girls love to dance and sing, so our review sessions usually look a bit like this: 

and this:

and this:

2.  Binders of the year's information:  I originally did this for my own sanity, so that I would not lose any of my timeline cards or posters for the memory board.  I was surprised to find that Karis and Karlie loved to pull out the binders and just sing through them!  It turned out to be a great way to review.  I did not mandate a time for reviewing in this way, but the girls usually did it on their own at least once if not twice a week.  I tell you, they love those songs!

This notebook is organized very simply... I didn't even use tabs to divide the subjects.  I basically just put all 26 weeks in order by subject together.

I just put the binders on the shelf with all their other favorite books so they could get them whenever they wanted:

And Karis will randomly pull it out and do this: 

and this:

3.  ITunes Playlist:  CC has provided songs for all the history, timeline, and some of the math information that the girls memorize.  CC Connected has songs uploaded by other parents for everything  else. (Some of them are great and some of them are really annoying.)  Since my girls love to dance around and sing so much, I uploaded a song for each and every piece of memory work.  Then I would randomly play the playlist throughout the week as they were playing.

Extra helpful information:
1.  Mystery of History audio Cd's --  My girls learn so much history by doing the timeline and history sentences that there is no need for me to try to fit in another history curriculum with our other homeschool work.  However, The information they learn is short and concise and it is up to me to flesh it out and help them understand it better.  I know a lot of other CC families use Story of the World to complement CC history, but I decided to try MOH because it was more biblically centered and at this point I felt like my girls needed that.  We will probably use SOTW CD's also when they are in Middle School, but I wanted a firm foundation for the younger years.  And I have been so pleased with it!  My big girls listen to books on CD every day at naptime (since they no longer sleep) so these CD's were perfect to give them that historical background to what they were memorizing without taking any extra time from our day.  Karis really enjoys these CD's and will choose them at least 3 days a week.  Karlie chooses them every now and then also.  The first set is absolutely wonderful, beautifully intertwining Biblical History with Secular History.  The second set containing the early church and middle ages does contain some violent descriptions (martyers, battles, etc) so even though it is from a great Christian perspective, the parent will want to preview before deciding what is appropriate for the children.  All in all, though, we have really enjoyed these CD's and can't wait for the 3rd set to be finished!

2.  CC Connected: Only $6 a month and super helpful.  All CC parents can upload their posters, videos, songs, and helpful tricks for memorizing the informtaion. This is where I find all my posters for our memory board and my songs for our itunes playlist.
3.  CC iphone or ipad App -- I didn't get this until the second semester because I didn't have a smartphone until we moved, but my girls loved this!  I let them play with the app each morning while I brush and fix their hair and even Abbi loved to see the pictures and hear the songs.  Honestly, if you download the app, you don't even really need the teacher's book.  It is fabulous for reviewing old material especially.
4.  Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood blog -- there are tons of blogs out there with lots of CC info, but if I had to pick just one to follow, I would choose this one.  She has great ideas and also does a lot of link-ups so you can see other bloggers' ideas easily.  She has planning pages, booklists for each cycle, review games, and much more.

5.  "Blobbing" the continents:  After reading Leah Bortin's book, "The Core," (which I HIGHLY recommend if you really want to catch the classical education vision) I decided to have the girls start practicing drawing maps.  I was surprised at how much they enjoyed it!  I had seen Book 7 of the Draw, Write, Now series recommended and it did really help the girls in the beginning.

Here is Karis' very first freehand map.   Very basic, but she actually really enjoyed making it and showed improvement each week!

After a she got good at the basic map, we added in the 5 major circles of latitude:

Her first map with the 5 great circles:

We will gradually add more and more detail to our maps and begin making the continents in their actual shapes :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Last Day of Classical Conversations

We have had the best year of Classical Conversations!  I have watched Karis go from being so shy that we could hardly hear her talk during her presentation, to the girl who raises her hand excitedly to answer questions and who loves giving her presentation.  It has been so good for her! Not to mention the amazing amount of information that she and Karlie have learned.  Oh, we love this program!  She has also developed great friendships that have been so good for her.  

Today was the last day of school for this year.  We were quite sad about it, but there were so many fun things planned that Karis was just about to burst from excitement.  For their presentation today, the students were asked to dress up as anything we had learned over the past year.  When Karis heard the word "dress-up", she immediately wanted to be a princess like Belle or Cinderella, but she eventually agreed to be Queen Elizabeth and she was quite excited about it:

Karis with several of her friends from class.  The cute little boy in the middle is utterly determined to marry her someday, which she finds hilarious.

There were several from her class out of town today (since the last day of school was pushed back because of snow), but this is a fun picture with her teacher and several of her friends.  Her teacher dressed up as an explorer and then proceeded to give them all compasses and take them on a super-fun treasure hunt!

We have had such a wonderful year and can't wait to see what next year brings at Classical Conversations!