Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hello from America

We are having a nice visitation here in the states, but we are very very tired. It's hard to fit it all in and I still didn't get to see my Indiana People and I didn't get to take the Tiny Goddess to the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks. We did get to feed ducks with my Grandma, that was cool. We also got a lot of face time with my nephew, the Little Tornado.

We got most of our shopping done, I want to go to Barnes and Noble and to a grocery store to stock up on BBQ sauce. Yes, I've been told there is BBQ sauce in the UK, but I have to tell you that is a myth. It is so not the same.

I'm planning a little American dinner party for some of my friends from knitting group and home ed group. It will be very fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poetry Friday

Ha! Bet you thought I wouldn't post one today. I am that awesome. (Plus blogger has a feature where you can schedule your posts to publish later. But I am a little awesome, too.)

One, Two, Buckle my shoe;

Three, Four, Shut the door;
Five, Six, Pick up sticks;
Seven, Eight, Lay them straight;
Nine, Ten, A big, fat hen;

Eleven, Twelve, Dig and delve;

Thirteen, Fourteen, Maids a-courting; Fifteen, Sixteen, Maids in the kitchen; Seventeen, Eighteen, Maids in
awaiting; Nineteen, Twenty, My plate's empty.

Funny Thing Thursday Part Dau

Scroll down and read the reviews. I promise it's worth it.

Wolf shirt

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All gone to look for America...

I have a lot I still want to post about, but very little time to put my thoughts into words these days. We are leaving for America tomorrow, as in very early. We leave the house at 4:30 am British time. Can I say that we are not morning people. Not at all. We fly from Cardiff to Amsterdam (ok, side note, who can tell me the rest of the song I learned at camp that goes, "Amster, Amster, shh shh shh!" Seriously, you give me the lyrics and I will send you a present.) We will spend five and a half hours in the Amsterdam airport. Yikes! Luckily, it is a large airport with a museum in it even. I hope that it's not too stressful. It was either that or have an extra plane to take. As it stands, we will arrive in America at 6 pm their time. Please don't ask me to decipher how long we'll be in the air, those kind of temporal discussions give me a headache. (I feel a bit like a time traveler, though. It brings out my inner Trekkie.) So our plan is to keep the kids awake for two hours at least once we land and get to bed by eight. We'll see. I'm not looking forward to the flight. I still have nightmares about the one we took over here during the Big Move. So we are packing 3 outfits a piece and bringing extra luggage in our suitcases to fill with Things We Cannot Get Over Here. I'll give a list once we fill them. I'm also bringing over things like gluten free goodies for my sister, lemon curd, and hot cocoa (Cadbury makes this fabulous hot cocoa!), as well as various gifts we've accumulated for people. We will be dressed in our traveling clothes, aka tie dyed t-shirts. No, it's not very Duggar family of us. (Not that we don't love the Duggars! We are certainly not dissing them one bit and wearing matching shirts in public with a large family is brilliant. That's why we do it.) Think traveling clothes like in the Sound of Music! Let me tell you that the tie dye t-shirts in a busy airport are a Good Thing.

So I know both of my readers are asking themselves, "What about Funny Thing Thursday? I can't live without it!" Not to worry. I am going to set up my blog to automatically post it for next week and here is today's Funny Thing Thursday:

Breaking the silence for a moment....

Sorry, but I wanted to mention something cool about nettles. "Something cool about nettles?" you say. Why yes. Nettles are our friend.

Now I could wax poetic about their lovely mating dance (I've yet to see it but have heard tell of it). I could talk about how their sting is simply an energy transfer from a very powerful plant. I could tell about how I believe nettles prevented me from post partum hemoragging and a resulting trip to the hospital after Miss Mousie was born. But instead, I will talk about my latest nettles discovery ( as I drink from my second pot of nettles infusion today).

On April 1, I remember the day, it was a lovely lovely day with one of my kindred spirits here in Wales, I fell while wearing Miss Mousie at a castle. Boom! My body, twisted to protect the baby, onto an ancient stone floor. Ouch! Seems like I have done something Bad to my shoulder. It still hurts, only worse. I've tried a variety of things: chiropractic, massage, heat, ice, ibuprofen. Nothing touches it. But then I got the desperately brilliant idea to let dear nettles heal me. I took a piece of nettles and lightly touched the affected area. Wow! It was so much better, and still three days later, is much better. It does hurt today and I plan on giving myself another treatment as soon as I post here. But wow!

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, May 15, 2009

Poetry Friday

The Four Friends (by A. A. Milne from When We Were Very Young)

Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow,
Leonard was a lion with a six foot tail,
George was a goat, and his beard was yellow,
And James was a very small snail.

Leonard had a stall, and a great big strong one,
Earnest had a manger, and its walls were thick,
George found a pen, but I think it was the wrong one,
And James sat down on a brick

Earnest started trumpeting, and cracked his manger,
Leonard started roaring, and shivered his stall,
James gave a huffle of a snail in danger
And nobody heard him at all.

Earnest started trumpeting and raised such a rumpus,
Leonard started roaring and trying to kick,
James went on a journey with the goats new compass
And he reached the end of his brick.

Ernest was an elephant and very well intentioned,
Leonard was a lion with a brave new tail,
George was a goat, as I think I have mentioned,
but James was only a snail.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's up with the dates on this thing?

Today is Thursday and I put the video up this morning. Is this blog still on American time?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Funny Thing Thursday

Ok, so this is very old. But the Artist and I cracked up over this while we were getting ready for the Big Move. We listened to it a few times a day.

I spent election night watching the results and finalizing my decisions about what to store for 2 years and what to bring with us to Wales. I made some mistakes, but overall I think we did a good job making those decisions. Still, it was stressful and this video helped. Many tears were shed in our home that night and not all of them were happy ones. Though I did cry at Obama's acceptance speech and kissed my husband and sleeping children.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wonder if the same applies to cows?

Question Number 74 (of 963) of the Theory test practice book from the UK Driving Standards Agency: A person herding sheep asks you to stop. You should:
A. ignore them as they have no authority
B. stop and switch off your engine
C. continue on but drive slowly
D. try and get past quickly

There are three sheep to every one person here and I've been here since December and still take pictures of them. (They are so peaceful and pleasant!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poetry Friday

Who Has Seen the Wind?
by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
neither I nor you;

But when the leaves are trembling,
the wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
neither you nor I;

But when the trees bow down their heads,
the wind is passing by.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Funny Thing Thursday

Let's see if I keep this one up.

For my facebook readers, forgive the crosspost.

"Kids get in the van so we can go there today...."

It's just so.... American.

I'm homesick now.

This just gave me a thought. Were I not an American, I would not get the humour (yeah, check out my awesome British spelling. I think I'm learning the language after all!) But, if I weren't in Wales, this region of Wales specifically, I don't think I'd find this so funnny (for a longer version, there is this, please note the Explorer wanted to point out that Wales is not a part of England).

Weirdly, I've seen line dancing here and clogging lessons, but no morris dance groups locally. Yet in Indiana, I was pretty involved in our local morris dance group. (Of course morris dancing isn't Welsh, but it's certainly not American either!)

(I still don't get Monty Python most of the time.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Bookbags...

I know, so many posts in one day. The three readers I have must be quivering with excitement!

So, to borrow an idea I've used before with good results (and also Dawn does something similar), we have our bookbags.

I did this back when I was pregnant and either on the go all day or resting up from being on the go all day. For a while I did a different bag for each subject, but as I'm revamping my whole process of education around here now, the subjects won't be so clearly defined.

So basically what we have here is this: Each child (and all four of them!) has his or her own bookbag. On the days we go to home ed group, they will just simply empty the contents of their bookbag into a dish tub so they can take it on the train to carry lunchboxes and bring creations back. The boys have a backpack each. On nursery school day, again the Tiny Goddess will empty (or mama will) her bag into her dish tub and carry what's needed for nursery school in the bag. The Tiny Goddess has a backpack on the way from but for now she just has a bag.

Here are the contents of each person's bag:

The Artist:
small art kit
colored pencils
a big A4 sized envelope for work to be done (mostly math worksheets)
another envelope for completed work
an envelope with drawing paper
his independent reading book
his spelling journal
his math journal
his copywork journal
his school journal
copywork book
his calendar (a project we've sorely neglected)
and his roll up chalkboard (these are lovely. I will post pics of them at some point.)
British bird sticker book
Maps of Britain sticker book

Wow, that's a lot. Lots to explain there. To begin with, each of us has our own clipboard that we painted together with one of the other ex-pat families from Sweet Benny's work. They also home school. There is another family, too, who are really nice and their kids go to school. I plan on taking these clipboards back to America with me and painting the back of them with chalkboard paint.

Now, you are probably wondering what all these journals are for. Let me go down the list for you. The spelling journal is where I put his spelling words and he writes them for me 3 times. He was writing sentences but after the meeting this morning, I'll be writing the sentences as he dictates them. The math journal is where he puts new math stuff he learns. Now that I'm doing a more artistic approach, I plan on having him draw pictures and paste them into the math journal, too. The copywork journal is where he writes his copywork. The copywork book is full of ideas for copywork, but he tends to prefer to get them out of books he's reading. His school journal is where he does creative writing assignments. (He also has a personal journal that I'm only allowed to read out of as he gives permission.)

Here are the contents of the Explorer's bookbag:
clipboard loaded with drawing paper
art kit
A4 envelope for work to do
writing book
copywork book
Biscuit book
Roll up Chalkboard
math workbooks
math manipulative kit

His writing book is where he is writing a story about a sticky, gooey, little monster. The Biscuit book is a selection of books about a little puppy named Biscuit. He's learning to read with this book. (Using ideas from a book called Teach a Child to Read with Children's Literature) The math workbook is called Math Mastery. We are sporadic about using it. Often I just give problems on a chalkboard or whiteboard and talk about them.

The Tiny Goddess' bookbag:
Clipboard loaded with drawing paper
hot pink A4 envelope with coloring sheets, extra paper, ect. in it
her current "In the Night Garden" magazine (she enjoys ripping them)
art kit

and let's not forget Miss Mousie:
a board book
a toy or two
and scrap paper for wadding up and chewing on

Oh, and I have a bookbag as well:
Clipboard loaded with notebook paper (and whatever needs my attention)
current and next weeks file folders (in an A4 envelope)
my art kit
my ipod (really I do use it for home ed!)
this record keeping system I use for the Explorer (which I'm thinking of dumping)
our home ed journal/planner
The Complete Phonemic Awareness Handbook
Starting Sensory Integration Therapy
current read alouds
my personal journal
my camera
current poetry book
this animal book we are using (title later)
an extra pad of notebook paper

I'm not a huge fan of the notebook paper here. It only has two holes and you can't get looseleaf. I'm seriously thinking of getting some in America.

Sorry not to have titles for you, later I will fill them in.

Also I will post more on art kits later.


Poetry Friday

Down By the Salley Gardens (William Butler Yeats)

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

(You know I'd put a folk song down as my first poetry Friday post, didn't you? He's also Irish.)

Revamping our home school

The boys and I had a nice chat about our home school today. Here are the notes from that chat (note that in parentheses I put the initial of the boy who came up with the idea. A= the Artist, E=the Explorer)

This was prompted by the Explorer coming up to me this morning and telling me he had a great idea for our home school. He suggested we have a time for drawing every day.

Now our list:
(E) Drawing time every day "Everybody grabs a book and draws a picture from it."
(E) More Max and Lewis stories
(A) a few different types of math problems every day instead of all one kind
(A) more copywork (this surprised me!)
(A and E) More crafts
(A and E) More science experiments
(E) The Explorer is not a big fan of Circle Time. The rest of us really enjoy it so we are brainstorming ways to make it more fun for him.
(E) The Explorer doesn't like the little homemade workbooks I used to make (haven't made one in a long time, but "Friends, he was making sure")
(A) The Artist likes spelling, but he would rather say his sentence than write it. (I pull words from his writing that he misspells and I make a list of it. He works with five of them a day writing them 3 times each and then writing, now saying, a sentence with the word. Every so often I give a quiz and any words he misses go back on the list of words to learn.)
(E) The Explorer does NOT like copywork. He is willing to try to copy one or two Star Wars related words instead.
(E) "Every day there could be a time where we go outside and do homeschool."
(A) More gardening (Frankly, I don't know how this will happen as I don't have the energy for this. I think I will provide him with pots, soil, seeds, and plants and let him have at it on his own. I do have plans for a wormery in my brain. Does that count?)
(A) "Pick out an animal and learn about it all week and at the end of the week do a report." (Something that has been in my brain for a few weeks and has been mentioned to him more than once.)
(A) The Artist wants to learn about the different types of caterpillars.
(E) "We make books with drawings in them."

I also have some ideas about organizing so that we can do work lying down, outside, or on the go if needed. Basically revamping some things I used to do. Don't worry, the file crate system plays a part in this.