Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pleasant Weather, "Dumplings", Books, other...

Oh, these early peeks at Spring weather are so wonderful! We've been eating lunch outside, going for walks, and plucking at, poking at, digging at, a myriad of things which have slept underground throughout winter.

***Chinese Lesson***
John's Chinese teacher invited John's class to come to his home to experience making the traditional Chinese "dumplings" (pot stickers).
John brought the 3 oldest kids with him seeing as how Tyra likes to cook and ....learn anything new, Ethan loves anything to do with the Chinese culture, and Cedric loves to cook. There were times, during the event, that John had wished he had left the two younger ones at home but, all in all, I think it was a neat experience for them.
They made pot stickers and rice "muffins"- they brought home leftovers which I readily enjoyed. . . mmmm, perfectly delicious. They also watched a Chinese movie. Somewhere in between these things John's Chinese teachers' house was just about flooded by a clogged toilet (Ethan) and his bathroom walls were painted with urine (Cedric), but in the end - the house was left in one peace.

Our night time read-a-loud is The Door in the Wall. It's a bit hard to follow seeing as how the author used a more traditional English way of speaking for the characters.
But it's good enough that if I'm about to stop reading I still hear, "Keep reading! Keep reading!!!"

Ethan's Audio book has been A Single Shard. Which, it seems to me, has been an alright book for him. He doesn't seem real taken away with it but I think it may be a bit above his comprehension level.
As for his own reading skills, he's on chapter 59 in the "Teaching Children How to Read in 100 Lessons".... or something similar to that title.

The Unicorn's Secret book series are the book Tyra uses for her "vocabulary comprehension" books. (She reads a few pages, circles the words she isn't able to read or understand and we go through those words together.)
We also just finished this series this last week. At first Ty and I were reading them together but Ethan became interested and so they turned into our nightly read-a-loud book...I'm not too fond of how the author words the story but the end it quite good - Tyra was quite taken away with it.
***Homeschool Ways***
About a week ago I sat down and jotted down what our focuses have come to be within our home schooling efforts - and here they are! (not in any particular order)
German (every day): Songs, Rosetta Stone, Word Vocabulary, Video Lessons
Computer time: Typing, Math, English, science history
Independent Activities: karate & gymnastics, play with friends
Educational Activities: "field trips", tours, museums, exhibits...
Family Activities: plays, musicals, performances, hike...etc. etc.
Spiritual Growth: Scripture reading, family councils, saturday preparedness
Academics: workbooks, computer time, story of the world, science
Extra Learning: Share and Tell, Spelling competitions, poem memorization
Reading: vocabulary reading, other reading, read-a-louds, audio books
Individual Interests: Piano, art, science, robots, trains
Awareness: current news discussions, movies, all other learning, documentaries
Other: service and hard labor
Now, we don't do ALL these things ALL the time..I used to think all the good ideas I've had should be going on consistently. But, I've realized that good ideas go in and out of phases and that I just need to make sure I remember the good things we've done and go back and do them over and over again.
***An American Life***
Last week, as a family, we sat down and listened to a down loaded story from This American Life - it's a radio show where very well written (true) stories are told and letting us tap into a person's personal (and intersting) american experience. I thought it was great! The kids enjoyed the story...only, some parts of the story we listened to were a little eery and so when we mentioned we should get together like that more often they said they wanted to... as long as it wasn't another scary one.

And, as usual, here's another completely adorable photo of Millie.
Oooh, which reminds me, my sister(Katja) had her baby (Nyah) and she is one of the most beautiful newborn babies I've ever seen...I love being an aunt!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mrs. E, Wrist Cyst, Mother Teresa, Mills

Oh!.....Oh dear. Whose child is this? Poor lad. No hope...no hope.
"Mrs. E."

Oh wow! That explains A LOT.

"We're a homeschool family! dah-da-de-dum (snap-snap)"
(Sung to the Adam's Family song) - funny video

//////Wrist Cyst//////

Tyra went in for surgery to remove her cyst upon her wrist....something which she was quite excited to be rid of.

It wasn't all quite exciting though. She was a tad nervous but was well taken care of.

She did well, the cyst is now gone and she is now recovering. Yaaay Tyra! It's gone! It's really gone!


We have been sick the last few weeks (which is an understatement, really) and so have done close to nothing but trying to recover.
But! we did read one great book - it's a book about Mother Teresa's life. What a wonderful woman.
I could feel Tyra and Ethan makes leaps and bounds in the things they came to understand about how we should treat one another and what's really important in life.
One comment Tyra made was, "She reminds me a lot of Jesus." And so I ask, " Should we all be like that?" And her little heart thought only for a moment and clearly answered a simple but profound, "yes."
Ethan is SO disgusted by even the mention of "bones" or "blood" and so I was glad that he could gain a new perspective on the human body as we read this book - that we can become grotesquely diseased, malformed, even to the point of having rotting sores but should that turn us away from caring for one another? Mother Teresa never turned anyone away and took care of everyone with a genuine heartfelt love and concern....maybe we should be the same way.
One man was embarrassed by his sores and said, "Sister, how is it that you can stand the smell of my sores?" and, without lying, she said, " You're sores do smell but how can I care about that when I know what kind of pain you must be in?"
Beautiful just beautiful.
Ya know, that's exactly one significant reason why we home school - I want to expose them to the beautiful things of this world. There's enough junk they do (and will) naturally see as they wander the world, as we discuss recent news, as they meet more people, even as we read about certain characters and scenarios in scriptures and other books. But for right now, during their young years, I want them to learn from the beautiful, the moving, the life changing truths, discoveries, and people that have existed and do exist on this world today.
Life is about taking the great and beautiful things of this world and making it a part of who you are now and who you will be forever.
I don't expect my kids to turn out perfect. But at the end of it all, as most mothers do, I want to know that I did what the Lord wanted me to do for them. I gave them what He wanted me to give them. And I exposed them to the things He wanted me to expose them to - to help them remain true to who they were before they came to earth so the Lord can use those talents and interests of these little individuals at this present time, in this world's present conditions, to help the Lord's work to progress.

I always seem to post another completely adorable photo of Millie at the end of these blogs but, I post this one for two reasons.
A) She looks 100% better after being sick for 3 weeks!!!! And am so happy to see her happy again.
B) It's sunny outside and fairly warm(er).
We love seeing the first signs of spring. There's so much natural excitement in a child's heart as they see the first bee of the year or the first green tuft of grass poking up out of the dirt.
Children come alive with nature. And, after being sick for so long, it's just plain good to be alive! :)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Memorization, Fave Book, 9 principles, Play Dough. Sting Rays, Trains, Other

:::::Glenn Beck's 9 Principles:::::

The kids and I discussed Glenn's 9 principles and whether we agreed with them or not. After discussing and agreeing with each principle we took pictures of ourselves and sent them to the e-mail address Glenn gave out for this occasion. See my face? Major TMJ day....the kids look lively and refreshed though.

Being inspired by the book Laddie and their way of living we have begun to add a few things to our daily "learning". We discuss current news events. This last week or so we discussed the speech/article "The Action Americans Need" written by Obama himself and we discussed the article, "Grocery Stores Fight Back Against Food Prices". I receive these articles from http://www.izzit.org/.

:::::Audio Books:::::

We like to listen to audio books and the kids enjoy themselves as they play with play dough or do other "quiet" activities while the book plays.
We were listening to Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl here.

Even Millie played with the dough the whole hour and a half.

:::::Treasure Map:::::

Our favorite library find was The Greatest Power. We read aloud The Tiger Rising and really enjoyed it, I've been reading Julie of the Wolves with Tyra. Ethan has been listening to The Castle in the Attic, Tyra listened to Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, and our current night-time real aloud is The Giver - I've enjoyed the thought provoking discussions its stimulated.

We found a treasure in our house about a week ago thanks to "this here" treasure map. Ethan was cleaning up an area I had asked him to clean up when, all of a sudden, he came rushing over with an old leathery treasure map in his hands. We all gathered round and followed it's clues to the treasure which happened to be the greatest treasure of all - books!

There were three to be exact and each book had a piece of old leathery material within it containing one of the kids' initials on it. Julie of the Wolves went to Tyra, Tiger Rising went to Ethan and a train book went to Cedric.

What a smart pirate! ... Now, if only the kids could find this mysterious pirate - they've been looking long and hard - many times they've even claimed to see him!

:::::Orem Library::::::
We love the Orem Library. They have so many neat events there every month. Most recently we listened to the New York Symphony Soloists perform - they performed music for one of Babar the elephants stories - it really made it come to life. Ethan especially enjoyed it.

They even answered lots of questions and told about themselves and how they came to play the instrument they play....it's interesting most of them began playing a completely different instrument but eventually were led to the instrument they now play professionally.

Ethan now wants to play the piccolo - yikes! And I want to get my fingers on a cello all the more - sigh! Before they played the music to the Babar story they played music from Mozart, Vivaldi and someone else....it was so beautiful.

:::::Living Planet Aquarium:::::

We made a trip to the Living Planet Aquarium (half off on thr first Monday of the month!!!) and enjoyed the colorful assortment of fish.

Tyra and Ethan tried to touch the sting ray's but didn't quite dare - the water wasn't quite shallow enough for their short arms to reach in very far anyway.

::::::Train Show:::::

The train show at Thanksgiving Point was quite a treat (for all the kids) but mostly for little Reeky.

The contents in this picture were Cedric's dream come true - Disney's Cars and trains, oh my!


Ethan was being so cute with Cedric - showing him around and lifting him up so he could see the trains sets a little better.

:::::Just Cuz::::: She is such a shweetie! Squoosh the cheeks - squoosh the cheeks! Still teething though :( - darn those molars, come through already!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Books, Reptile Show, Grand Piano, Chef, Art

***Current Books***

Ethan's current audio book is Hatchet. I remember enjoying this as a read-a-loud from Mr. Woodhead in 4th grade.

I worried it might be a little over his head but so far he has really enjoyed it.

Tyra's (and Cedric's) audio book is Black Beauty. We've tried reading this book a loud about 2 years ago but the kids weren't too interested. So we put it down for another day.

I love it when the kids' minds can grasp more as time goes on.

Our current read-a louds are the Greek myths...strange yet interesting stories!


Go Millie! Go!
("Riding" a 4 wheeler at Cabella's)

***Monte L. Bean Museum***

We went to a reptile show at the above mentioned museum.


Animals shows are always an easy favorite.


They even got to "pet" a tortoise named Ollie.





***Joseph Smith Memorial Building***

We had a dinner at the JSMB for my brother's sealing (congrats to him and Erica). As we were about to leave we followed some beautiful piano music to a man playing a grand piano on the main floor.
Tyra was mesmerized, to say the least. She stood and watched his aged fingers amazingly travel up and down the whole scale of keys as he created the most beautiful piano music.
Unexpectedly he stopped playing and began to talk to Tyra and let her play one of her favorite songs. Not only did he do that but he asked her what her favorite primary songs were and played the most beautiful versions of those I've ever heard.
Tyra was inspired! She began composing her own songs the next day and has been ever since.

Apparantly, he plays at the JSMB every saturday from 7-9.

***My Little Chef***

Cedric cooks with me almost every day. Once he hears any sound such as grinding, mixing, or chopping going on in the kitchen I soon hear the pattering of his feet as he runs into the kitchen saying, "Me help?!?!"
Before my dad moved from Germany he used to be a baker and he still loves to cook.
I think those genes have been passed to my little guy.


I've been working on some illustrations for a project of mine and have created my own little work area.
I work every night after the kids have been put to bed.
They love to come in my room every morning and view my newest additions.

Tyra has been coming with me to my oil painting classes.
She chose to paint a waterfall for her first oil painting ever!



My latest piece. I love African children.

I'll also add that Ethan has been working on "inventing" toy robots. Millie has been in the process of dealing with 2 molars cutting through, Cedric has been doing his own "workbook" every day by sitting with me and going through an alphabet book and Tyra finger knitted her own scarf.
Those are the highlights of our homeschooling life for the last couple weeks.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Latest reads, drawing lessons, stories, and other....

Read, Read, Read
Here are our latest reads.
The invention of Hugo Cabret is one Ethan has listened to twice and one which I've read aloud twice. A definite fun read for anyone who loves to read.
We read The Little Prince, once again, and finished the third book in the Narnia series, Prince Caspian, which we celebrated by watching the Prince Caspian movie.
The Other Side of Heaven is one we read one or two chapter from every sunday. This book teaches so many wonderful values and principles. Love it!
The Secret of the Peaceful Warrior is our latest favorite library find.

Drawing Lessons

It's exciting seeing their improvements from one lesson to the next.

Step Aside Grimm Brothers!

The kids and I every now and then come together and make up stories which come from the ideas of everyone involved. Here are our latest creations...
French Onion Soup
(This one we wrote while eating baked potatoes for dinner :) )
Written by Claudia, Ethan and Tyra

After having worked hard many long days, a diligent farmer was anxious to reap his rewards, especially from his biggest and most important field – his potato field.

Harvest day came. Standing in front of his potato garden the farmer bent down, dug about in the earth and, to his surprise, what he pulled from the brown soil was far from a potato. It was an onion!

He quickly realized the store from which he purchased his seeds had tricked him! Although the packages which he had pulled the “potato” sprouts from displayed potatoes on the front, they had contained onion sprouts instead.

Despite being upset, he, fortunately, was a wise farmer. He knew very well that harvest time can come only once a year - there was nothing he could change at this point.

He decided he’d take this misfortune and turn it into something good.

The next day all the people within this little town awoke to the sound of hammering. The farmer had just finished hammering a wooden plaque to the front of his porch which read: “French Onion Soup Restaurant”.

He must have been up all night for he had built multiple chairs and tables which he had carefully placed in his, otherwise empty, barn.

Curiously, the town’s folk gathered round and, one by one, began to purchase his French Onion Soup.

Comments buzzed from all directions. “This is great!” “Fantastic!” “This is yummy!” “I want to get this recipe!” “Mommy, daddy, can we eat this every day?” “Wonderful!”

The soup and the farmer became famous. And every year, from that day on, his most important field no longer contained potatoes but grew, from then on, only onions, thanks to the mischievous store – from which he never purchased another item from again.

…Nevertheless, it has been told, that this mischievous store became the only store ever which sporadically derived free bowls of French Onion soup… bowls which were carefully left at its doorstep by a diligent hand.

The End

The Painting
Written by Ethan, Tyra, and Claudia

Once there was a mother who painted a picture of her children. If she RE-painted them – the children would DIE!!!!! And the mother would cry and cry and cry until there was a flood of tears.

The mother’s children were so beautiful that the king demanded her to re-paint the faces of her children so he could have a painting of them to place above his throne.

She desperately tried to talk the king out of it but the king wouldn’t change his mind. He told her she’d go to jail if she didn’t do it.

So, sadly she re-painted her children’s precious faces as they slept soundly in their beds.

Morning came, the faces were painted and the children slept on….never to wake again.

Crying the whole way there and carrying the painting under her arm, the mother walked to the palace. The king was pleased with the painting. The woman turned away and walked back home to her quiet and lonely abode.

Wanting to remember her children, she, once again, began to paint their delicate faces. Many hours passed – the portraits were done.

Suddenly the children sprang to life and the mother ran to them, embraced them, and cried, “Children! Children! I’m so glad you’re alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The End

The Snowbirds
Written by Tyra and Claudia

Who knew that such a grand being as the Queen of Snowflakes would be but a petite shimmering bird?

Such a little bird existed in the wintry clouds. Even though she was over all the other snow birds - she toiled with them every day.

As all kingdoms require order and hard work – so did the realm of the snowbirds. Throughout winter half of them would flap their wings to create the snowflakes upon the clouds – the other half plucked the snowflakes from its magnificent folds and carried them below where they would release the beautifully crafted snowflakes, creating the sparkling white feathery fest for all to enjoy.

As the weather warmed, the snowbirds, by order of the Snow Queen, attentively carried the clouds to other lands of wintry weather.

The End