Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our quasi-CM DITL

As requested on the Secular Homeschooling forum...

For those not already familiar, LemurBoy is 7, LemurGirl is 4.5 (and all work being done is on her own initiative! I always feel I need to make that disclaimer), and the baby is 5 months. We're roughly following the schedule at Ambleside Online, with Story of the World substituted for history (though we've listened to An Island Story as an audiobook, too). I'm not sure, at this point, whether we're closer to Charlotte Mason or WTM-style classical. Both are influences.

All times are approximate. Assume various kid snacks, nursings, diaper changes, and potty breaks that aren't noted did happen.

Get up, kids get dressed, LemurBoy goes out to feed the pony after a bit of whining, and everyone eats breakfast - bacon and eggs for everyone but me, bacon and leftover soup for me because Baby doesn't tolerate eggs well. One of my slices of bacon for Baby, who clearly expressed she wanted some, and then tried desperately to get it to her mouth but failed to ingest anything, which is why I gave it to her in the first place. Done by about 8:15.

8:15 - I sit down at the computer with my coffee (2nd cup. 1st was with breakfast) to catch up on stuff and nurse the baby before doing the breakfast dishes. The kids take their respective computers to the couch (LemurGirl's is a v-tech toy thing, LemurBoy's is an OLPC). LB is trying to look up prices of Bakugan battle gear. Joy. A group of cows gets driven by on the road outside our house and we all run out to watch. The calves are so cute! (Need a video of this).

8:30ish: LemurDa comes in and tells the kids that, guess what! They're making walnut boats with me today! No, this has not been discussed with me. I be responsible/buy some time by saying LB has to do his math, handwriting, and reading first, and both kids need to get the rats' nests out of their hair. This backfires slightly, as LB wants to do his reading right then and there. Oh well, the internet will wait.

8:45: Complete a few pages of Hooked on Phonics with LB. He's so close to done with this level - one HOP book left to read, which he wants to do later today (our goal was to be done with this level by the end of March, so we should make that!).

9:00: LB starts on a page of Math Mammoth (we're covering money). He gets it mostly right, and the ones he gets wrong are obviously an attention issue rather than lack of understanding. Except the $3 bill. He figured if there were $1 and $2 dollar bills, there must be $3 bills as well... He corrects the ones he got wrong. LG wants some money Math Mammoth too, so I print her off a page from the 1-B books, but it's still beyond her - she's shaky on the concept of numbers past 20 still. After much fit-throwing on her part and my insistence that we need to build more of a foundation before doing the money (no, I did not actually use the phrase "building more of a foundation" with her), she settles down to a 0-6 addition facts worksheet, which she gets all correct except one.

9:20: I spray detangler and brush LBs hair. He cries. I say I want to cut his hair. Eventually it gets basically untangled and I put it in a ponytail. This is our regular ritual. Repeat with LG. Thankfully, her hair untangles pretty easily without significant crying, and I stick it in two pigtails, her favorite style.

9:30: Internet a bit more (and another cup of coffee) while LB does his handwriting and LG works on her math some more. I internally debate whether walnut boats are a handicraft (toymaking) or a futility. Not that it matters, as they're now excited about it either way.

9:45: LB is done with copywork (a short Jack Prelutsky poem, plus his full name and the numbers 0-9. He traces the printout (created at http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/flash/dnealian/paragraph/index.html) one day, then copies it on his own the next.)
Copywork and Math
I cover the table with newspaper and get out the paints. Kids paint walnut shells. LG throws fit at the suggestion of using playdough in the bottom of the boat to hold the masts up, so I google for a good alternative. Find this Waldorf homeschool blog entry suggesting melted broken crayons. Broken crayons we have, so we gather them up and start peeling the wrappers off. LG is not particularly happy about this plan either, but accepts it in place of the playdough.

I set up a double boiler with a pot of water and a glass jar, throw the crayons into it. They start melting. I stir it a bit with one of the sticks we're using for masts (long thin reed-like things from our window blinds, which we had to shorten to keep them from dragging on the floor, so we have hundreds lying around waiting for a project like this). LB asks to stir, so I let him.

LG starts trying to pull the chair out from under LB because she wants to do it too, and it's really HER chair. I march her to the bedroom for time out because pulling the chair out from under someone standing at the stove is dangerous. She cries and cries.

Sometime while I'm busy with LG, LB stirs a little over-enthusiastically, and dumps the glass jar over into the water, getting water into it. I throw my hands up in the air and stomp around the house ranting like a maniac for a few minutes, then pour some more coffee, because it's definitely turning into that sort of day.

LemurDa comes in and finds LG having dramatic fits in her bedroom, me throwing dramatic fits around the house, and a total mess of a kitchen. He informs me that if I pour off most of the water and let the remaining water and wax cook for a bit, the water will boil off. Well, that's good. I search through the kids' box of random junk and dig up a few more broken crayons to throw in, as well as a tub of playdough that has turned a rather odd mustardy color that I suspect LG won't be too attached to, just in case the wax doesn't work out.

(LG has gotten out of time out, and we've had cuddles and hugs and talked in a calmer way about why it's dangerous and that I still love her and so forth.)

Once the crayons are all melted (into a decidedly un-Waldorfy grayish color), I pour some into each of LG's boats, helping her hold the masts up until they cool adequately. LB chooses to use the playdough instead. The kids cut sails out of paper and attach them to the masts. They float them in a bowl of water. Mission accomplished! Except that LB's tip over and the playdough gets yucky. LemurDa reframes this into an experiment - now we know why water-soluble playdough is not as good a choice as water-insoluble wax. If I were a really good homeschool mom I'd go drag out the chemistry book and explain this hydrophilic vs. hydrophobic in more detail, but I'm not, so I didn't.
Blurry, sinking, walnut shell boats

11:15: Discover LG has paint all over her shirt. She'd asked for a paint shirt, and I'd said no because we weren't using *much* paint and she shouldn't be getting it all over herself. Famous last words. Oh well, it's water-soluble. Hopefully it will come out. I do internet stuff while nursing the baby to sleep so that I can work on lunch. LG asks to listen to They Might Be Giants. Sure! She asks me to turn it back off once we get past the song sung by a woman, which is the only part she actually likes.

11:30: Baby is asleep. I put her down on her pillow. She wakes and starts crying. I swaddle her up and nurse her some more.

11:45: The kids are whining about how hungry they are. The baby is looking up at me with big, utterly non-sleepy eyes. I give up, stick her in her booster seat, and start frying hamburgers for lunch. Thankfully, she is happy enough with this.
Rockin' the head-expansion mohawk
The LemurGirls
12:15: We eat lunch. LB has cheeseburgers with mustard and mayo on lettuce buns. LG has plain burger patties with cheese on the side. I have plain burgers on lettuce (because Baby doesn't tolerate dairy, either), and a sliced apple with cinnamon and ginger sprinkled on it. Baby has a slice of my apple (sans spice), which she never actually manages to pick up, but is thrilled to be able to push around her tray. The kids, for once, both eat without complaining. LB asks if we each got 1/3 of a lb of meat and we discuss fractions a bit. LG asks whether Annie or Pippi is stronger. LB says he's finished and asks if he may please have a carrot. I decide that perhaps they're cute, and maybe I'll keep them.

12:30: I do the breakfast AND lunch dishes. The kids go outside. Mail arrives, including a cute little plastic bag containing... trees! The Arbor Foundation has an offer for 10 "free" (with $10 membership purchase) trees. We chose the Blue Spruce. I decide I need to take pictures of all this stuff we're doing to go with this post, and send LB to go get the camera out of the workshop. He decides he's going to take some pictures himself. That's ok. He, at 7, is a better photographer than I am.
The contents

1:00: The kids go back outside with our housemate to prepare a spot to plant the trees. We watch a second herd of cattle get driven by (actually, this must have happened earlier, or I'd have gotten a video of it). Then I go to start up a load of laundry that I should have started this morning. I discover LemurDa's shop stuff is piled all over the washer. I leave the laundry basket there and go back to retrieve a rather unhappy BabyLemur, who gets nursed for a while. I try swaddling her so maybe she'll sleep soundly, but she really is not happy with that, so I unbundle her again. I turn TMBG back on and listen to The Edison Museum ("So when your children quarrel, and nothing seems to quell them, just tell them that you'll take them to the Edison Museum..."), but turn it off before the Sleepwalker song, which is way too creepy for me. I check my phone and see a missed call from a Davis number, which I google. It's apparently a dentist's office. None of us have ever been to this particular dentist, so I decide not to bother checking voicemail and wading through 30 messages from the library informing me of held books ready for pickup that I also haven't checked.
Preparing a spot for the trees
Poor mama hasn't had a shower yet

1:45: LG starts haranguing to do Starfall, and after a minute to finish up what I'm doing, I let her take over the computer. Baby is asleep, so I put her in her infant seat and carry her to the bathroom so I can FINALLY shower. She wakes just before I get in. Oh well, too bad Baby. I gotta get clean. Thankfully, she is perfectly content to sit in her chair and play with her blankie until I'm done.

2:00: Finish shower, dry off, and get dressed. Baby is at the limits of her patience, so I nurse her some more while using the laptop in the bedroom to compose this post up to this point. LG is still playing with Starfall, then comes into the bedroom with me and plays with her Leapster. She says it's too cold to go outside. It's at least the mid-50's, but I decide I don't feel like pressing the point.

3:00: LB comes running in yelling that Da got them a new game to play in the grass, which convinces LG to abandon her Leapster game and go outside to see. I take the opportunity to eat a few pistachios while there are no kids around to demand their share. Then I go out to check out this game and to see if my ever-so-subtle hint of a full basket of laundry has been taken and the washing machine cleared off (ladderball, whatever that is, and yes, it was).

3:10: Go out to ask DH if he'll be home for dinner (he generally has darts on Tuesday evenings) and if he's planning to grill the pork chops tonight, or if I'll be cooking them. He says that yes he'll be out tonight, and he's grilling the pork chops tomorrow. What the heck are we supposed to have tonight then? I'd been planning on the pork chops and haven't defrosted anything. He says we had this conversation (no we didn't. I think he probably had it with our housemate while I was in the room but not paying attention), and that we have some catfish nuggets, so I pull those out of the freezer to defrost.

3:20: I want to go out and hoe in the garden and get out some of my pent-up frustration, but still have a painful blister on my hand from doing the same on Sunday, so it's probably not a great idea. So I settle down to update this post, edit photos, and nurse Baby again. LD and kids are outside yelling "Yay!" periodically while playing ladderball. Baby stops nursing, gives me an adorable smile, and indicates she wants to play kissy game by grabbing my face and pulling it towards her to give me a big, open-mouth, sloppy kiss on the cheek. Then I kiss her cheek, and we repeat for a while. Then I set her down on her pillow while I go look for the USB cord so that I can take care of those photos. She happily babbles away and chews her toes. Babies rock.
Nummy Toes!

Ok, no more pictures unless something really cool happens.

4:00: I hear shrieking from outside. LG is apparently trying to break the game because she wants to be done and LB wants to keep going. LemurDa carries her inside and puts her in the bedroom, where I enforce a time-out, then get her calmed down and discuss how she could better have handled the situation (just walk away). We head to the couch and read Field Trip Facts: Notes From Ms. Frizzle's Kids, which I didn't realize we owned until she pulled it off the shelf. LB came in and listened along.

4:15: LG and LB head to the spare bedroom to watch their daily movie - LG's choice today, and it sounds like she chose a Pippi movie. I go to the workshop to retrieve the laundry, and hang the dishtowels and napkins on the line, because they're thin enough to hopefully dry before dark (and ok to stay outside overnight if not). I'd usually hang everything, but I don't think the heavier stuff will dry since I got it started so much later than intended, so I'll hang the clothing inside. Then I sit down to update this and work on the photos some more. And, of course, nurse the baby, who falls asleep.

5:00: Publish photos to Flickr. Attempt to publish photos to Facebook, but Shotwell has the "add to existing album" option greyed out. Google to find a solution to this. The solution is "Rebuild from source". I decide I ain't messin' with that, export the photos, and stick them on FB manually. Consider whether to continue using FB for photos at all, or just cross-post with Flickr, given content-ownership issues. Think about dinner - it'll probably take 10 minutes to prepare and 15-20 to cook, and we want dinner on the table between 6:00 and 6:30, so I should probably start it around 5:45 or a bit earlier. Add photos to post.

5:45: Stick Baby in high chair and start dinner. Preheat oven to 375F. Put olive oil, lemon pepper, and Old Bay spice on fish. Stick in oven for 15 minutes once it finishes preheating (it ended up needing an extra 5 minutes, too). Make salads, wash accumulated dishes, clean up kitchen and dining table from the day's adventures, and retrieve and fold towels and napkins from the laundry line while it cooks. The kids set the table and whine about how hungry they are. I finished folding just as the timer buzzed. It was totally impressive.

6:20: Dinner on table. LB and housemate discuss Egyptian hieroglyphics.

6:30 (no, dinner didn't last very long tonight - it tends to be very informal when Da is out): Kids run back outside to play ladderball some more while it is still light. I nurse the baby and internet some more. I intend to hang the laundry but the kids come back in before she settles down enough.

6:45: LB reads the last HOP book to LG, Baby, and I, puts his sticker in the chart, and stuck that box back on the shelf for good! Or at least until LG is ready for it. Then they poked through the box for the next level box for a bit.

I give LB a choice between a chapter of Pagoo and Story Of The World. Unsurprisingly, he chose SOTW. We're currently on Chapter 31 - Exploring New Worlds. We split this chapter in two, since we had lots of supplemental books about Columbus, so we read Columbus last week and Vespucci and Magellan this week. Then LB put Vespucci and Magellan's voyages on a world map, and added Erik the Red and Leif Erikson of his own accord (Cub Scout Geography Pin requirement #4). Worked with LG on reading, doing the first section of Progressive Phonics intermediate book #3.

7:30: Told the kids that they could agree on a short movie as long as they got ready for bed first (to avoid delays after). They chose Scooby Doo. Joy. I retrieve LB's mp3 player and stick his post-bedtime-story-story on it - he has a choice, for tonight, between the Howard Pyle version of Robin Hood and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court. He chooses Robin Hood. We're doing Robin Hood CM-style, at a chapter a week, so getting it is a bit of a treat. Then I hand baby off to housemate so I can get the laundry hung up, since it really can't sit wet all night. She screams. Baby that is, not housemate. I get it hung up as fast as possible and nurse the baby. Again.

8:00: Kids are done with their movie, and head to bed. We're reading Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark, about a young llama-herding boy in the modern day Andes mountain, which supposedly also incorporates Incan history and mythology (we haven't quite reached that part yet), as we'll be reaching that section in Story of the World very soon. Make a mental note to try to find an example of the simple, quick, llama-hide sandals mentioned in the book, as we have plenty of leather (though not llama-leather) to do stuff with.

8:30: I finish reading two chapters. The darn mp3 player (a Sansa Shaker) isn't working properly, so I have to reload it. It totally sucks, especially for audiobooks. When we can manage it, we need to get him a better one with an actual user interface. The baby (and LB, for that matter) fell asleep during the reading, so I'm toting her around attempting not to wake her.

8:45: I sit down to finish this and post it around. Then I'll get ready for bed, which will undoubtedly involve another 5 minutes of baby screaming while I change, brush my teeth, etc. Then I'll get her back to sleep and probably read some of my book (April Fool's Day by Bryce Courtenay, which I really do need to get finished as I don't have any renewals left. Hey, let's see if I can finish it on April 1st! I kinda doubt it, as I have more than half left and I'm usually getting in twenty minutes at bedtime, but that would be funny), and maybe do a few sudoku. I'm nearly finished with all the ones on my phone, and am trying to finish the ones I'm stuck on before downloading more. I've finished 384, ranging in difficulty from easy to hard (mostly medium), since we moved in late July. Such an exciting life!

The day was both typical and not. We don't do crazy art projects every day (relatively rarely, in fact, which is probably why I get Shanghai'd into them). Nor do we regularly receive trees in the mail. But the general academics were about typical - we do math, writing, and reading every day (or nearly so, anyways). Other subjects (history, science, foreign language, original writing rather than copywork, artsy stuff) tend to happen a few times a week. Time outside, often involving working on the garden or yard, happens as weather allows, which it is doing more and more these days.

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