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Day 170 – Embroidery and Audiobooks

Today was a day for listening to audio books (aaaaalllll morning) and also for sewing.

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Sera picked up embroidery about a year or two ago. It really is a great hobby for a kid since it’s pretty much like drawing, just with a needly and thread! Amelie has wanted to try, but she has been a little hesitant to get started.

This was her first attempt at embroidery, and I love how it is slightly abstract and so beautiful.

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Amelie says, “It is a red-winged blackbird, some grass, and a sunset.”

She was nervous about letting me post it to the blog, but I think I convinced her that y’all would love it.

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Day 169 – Twice Baked Potatoes

Today after math, we kept reading Farmer Boy.

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The girls made their own lunch together…

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And after “school” they watched a movie together…

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I love these sweet sisters!

Amelie wound up having a playdate with a friend after this, and Sera had a playdate with Kiwi.

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Besides all of the reading, the self-sufficiency, and the together-ness, the best part of the night was yet to come…

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Sera made twice-baked potatoes ALL on her own! She had gotten the idea from a restaurant in the Outer Banks and has been begging to try to make them ever since. We paired the potatoes with leftover pulled pork, and I didn’t have to do any cooking at all–which of course, is the BEST kind of day.

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They were delicious! I hope Sera decides to make us more food in the future, because it really is quite nice to be served dinner in my own house.

 

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Day 168 – Spring Rain

Today was such a sweet and simple day. It was overcast and rainy, and the girls and I organized and cleaned the house first thing in the morning. Well, actually, first thing in the morning the girls did their math. BEFORE I even woke up. Amelie has been on this math kick, where she gets up before me, and practices math. Umm. Please tell me what I did to deserve such a child. Anyway, it was a blessing to me, and it made the rest of the day go by very smoothly.

We had a lot of relaxed free time, and so I taught the girls some chords on the piano and guitar and they tried to play together. It would be my dream come true to form a family band!

Later in the afternoon, we read more of Farmer Boy. We read a section about shearing sheep and carding wool, which led to us watching YouTube videos of the practice. Josh and I had talked about getting alpaca someday if we ever have a lot of land, and I thought it would be fun to read about alpaca while we were reading about sheep anyway. Turns out alpaca are about $20K a pop. So no. We will not be getting alpaca.

That’s fine, these girls are happy as larks with Kiwi the Parakeet. And speaking of Kiwi…

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He enjoyed (or hid from?) the lovely spring rain the girls were soaking up today.

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I’m so thankful for this sprinkling and for the way the air is changing. I’m so glad winter is over.

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Day 167 – Art Show and Drama Performance

At their tutorial this year, Sera took art lessons and Amelie took a drama class. Tonight was the presentation of both the art show, and the drama performance. Yes, this definitely contributed to my end-of-the-year fatigue, but thankfully, the event was at the same location.

woodpecker_Fotor_CollageSera was so proud of her piece, and so were we! She chose to showcase, “Pileated Woodpecker,” which she did on paper with pastels.

IMG_8252 (1)_Fotor_CollageAmelie was SO much fun to watch! She was absolutely having a fantastic time on stage, and she remembered all of her lines. She also dances with Liza (to her left), and it was fun to watch them be creative together in another outlet.

Great job, sweet girls! It is so much fun to watch your gifts and talents unfold, and we are so proud of you.

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For Christmas, we were given a family membership to Cheekwood Botanical Garden from Josh’s dad and step-mom. It was very kind, and we have been very thankful to be able to go to the gardens whenever we feel like it. Today felt like just the day to use our membership.

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We were also in charge of “Flat Stanley,” who had traveled all the way from California to go on some Nashville adventures. My best friend’s son Sören had sent his Flat Stanley to Sera, but we all had fun taking him around town today!

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We took the “scenic” route home through downtown, and I had to hop out and get a few pictures with Flat Stanley. I’m not actually sure if I sent this picture to Sören: IMG_1689

But we did send these:

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It made us feel so special that Sören would choose us for Flat Stanley’s safekeeping…even if we did return him, um, a bit late (I am the worst at mailing anything).

It also made me feel connected to my best friend, who I have not seen in TWO years. We have been best friends since we were six years old, and she is more like my sister. We love the Lundeens, and daydream about showing them ALL around Nashville one day!

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Day 165 – Mound of Love

Today was our Friday Open Play gathering with the East Nashville Homeschool Association. Apparently, some of the kids have dubbed a giant dirt pile (the result of construction at the park), “The Mound of Love.”

I don’t know what this means. It sounds highly inappropriate, but because it was named by homeschoolers, I have to assume it is very: a) Sweet or b) Nerdy.

Either way, I love it. And so did the girls. Leave it to free-ranging homeschool moms to sit on the grass chatting it up while the children played on a suffocation hazard giant pile of fun!

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Why yes, that is Amelie surfing down a dirt hill in bare feet!

That was fine by me. I was glad they were getting their energy out and getting their toes in the dirt. They had spent the earlier part of the morning practicing:

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Reading…

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Writing…

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And arithmetic.

A very well balanced “school” day in my opinion!

 

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Day 164 – Spring Clean Part-Two

A few weeks ago, we began our seasonal sweep of the house. The girls’ rooms are by far the hardest to keep clean. I have realized that I need to let Sera be the tween that she is, and that this includes allowing her to maintain her bedroom as she sees fit. Unless the food/clothing/filth creates a nice habitat for spiders or spills out into the hallway, it’s her business.

THIS MAKES ME CRAZY.

But I have to just shut the door so that I don’t see it. Ever.

She is actually getting to the age where her room matters to her, so things are looking up for both of us (the spiders, not so much).

Amelie, however, is still fiercely living in the age of the hoarder, where every piece of used tin foil is special.

THIS MAKES ME CRAZY.

Can you spot a theme here?

Anyway, today we decided to tackle Amelie’s room, together.

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I still use my FAVORITE method of cleaning messy kids spaces:

I have Amelie sweep everything to the middle of the room (toys, dirt, food, etc.) and then let her pick out and put away the toys. Then we throw the rest away. 

It is less time consuming than picking up each tiny thing that is spread out across the floor.

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This works for us, but you might have a better method. Please share, by all means!

At the end of the day, she had a clean room and I let her take pictures of the paper items that were meaningful. Then we tossed them. Including this life-size self portrait of herself…and her internal organs (thanks, tutorial!).

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Even though Amelie is holding on to hoarding some very natural childhood comforts, she is also growing up in other ways….

Like making her own eggs.

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…and coffee.

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She gets that from Josh’s side of the family…so I’ve been told.

 

 

 

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Day 163 – Sick Days and Laundry Piles

Today Sera had a fever of unknown origin. It lasted about 24 hours before it was gone, and we never knew what it was from. But she felt kind of lousy, and tired, but still put effort into our homeschool day by practicing math (times tables and division), reading, and watching a documentary.

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Both of the girls have been sick a handful of times throughout this school year, but I’ve been impressed by their willingness to still participate, study, and to learn. I could be wrong, but I really think this is because we have tried hard to create a culture where learning is enjoyable. They haven’t really “checked out” just because they have been sick. Of course both girls have moments of defiance–they are kids, after all. But generally, they have maintained an excitement for homeschool throughout this whole year that proves to me that this has been a good choice for our family.

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And just for good measure, in case you think our house is an orderly homeschooler’s utopia…this is our lovely heap of (clean) laundry that kept making its way around the living room throughout the day until it finally wound up on my bed…unfolded. Cheers!

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We are exactly 18 days away from finishing our school year. There are some things we did that I hope to replicate next year, and some things we tried that simply did not work for us. I thought it might be helpful to revisit some of my previous thoughts on unschooling, now that we have nearly completed a full school year using that particular homeschool method.

Schedule

This year, we adjusted our schedule every other week (sometimes every other day), it seems. We were finding our rhythm. We learned math by way of projects and experiments. We learned grammar from reading (more on this in the curriculum section). What I really want people to understand, is that this is very time consuming. I am more aware than ever that unschooling is hard, hard work. To be ready to deliver an impromptu math lesson in the middle of Target (while the girls counted allowance) I had to be ON my game. Always.

In the beginning, our schedule reflected this. I was pretty much consumed with homeschooling from 9-noon every day. We didn’t have set subjects, but we were learning (through books, documentaries, nature, etc.) during those hours. Once my own school became much busier (I was taking 15 units in the spring as opposed to 9 units in the fall) I absolutely had to change our method.

We switched to doing 10-15 minutes of math and 10-15 minutes of grammar each morning. The girls had “learning time” completely on their own until noon. This freed me up to do my homework (and other work) that took several hours each day. I didn’t have tons of time to chase every thought and every thread of imagination with the girls.

Next year, I plan on incorporating elements from both extremes. I plan to implement daily short math and grammar lessons, but to have extended hours together to learn all of the subjects (including more math and grammar, if appropriate) in a non-scheduled, “unschooly” way. We might focus on science one day, and history the next. I like having that flexibility. I will also only be taking 9 units of classes, so this will help me to be “on” when I need to be.

Curriculum

 This year, we used NO particular curriculum. This worked just fine for our first year. I explain here in detail about how we figured out what to teach for math and grammar. For all the other subjects, we took field trips, watched documentaries, read books, did science experiments, planted gardens, etc.

Next year, I plan on trying a math **curriculum for both girls because they have asked for something a little more predictable. Unschooling is all about following the child’s lead, and often children actually want something more routine. I’m excited to try out this new method of teaching math. If it doesn’t work, we will adapt. No harm done.

**In regard to curriculum, we are considering Life of Fred, RightStart Math, and perhaps, revisiting Saxon.

Was this Year Successful?

Well, that depends on what we consider “success.”

If we are talking about 100% accuracy in memorizing the times tables, mastering pronouns, or even getting actual letter grades (more on that in an upcoming post) than, no. I suppose not.

But if you consider this…

  • The girls have learned more about the world and themselves.
  • The girls are more self-sufficient now, than at the beginning of the year.
  • The girls have worked hard to understand concepts that were difficult for them.
  • The girls are closer now than they used to be.
  • The girls want to homeschool again next year…and I do too!

…Than YES. I absolutely consider this year a success.

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Day 161 – Math Al Fresco

Today as we were about to get started, Sera asked, “Can we do our math outside today??”

Not long ago, it was winter. Do you remember this post, or this one, or this other one? It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago we were freezing. Then again, that winter was so traumatizingly long and cold, that I’m still a little bit in disbelief over this beautiful weather.

When the girls requested to do their math al fresco, of COURSE I obliged!

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What a sweet, warm, spring morning on the porch. I think we all enjoyed the air. Even Kiwi.

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They were so happy outside, that they wanted to stay out for lunch.

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And so they dined underneath the Dogwood in the emerging spring sunshine.

I am so thankful that our winter days are over!

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