Thursday, April 29, 2010

Life of Fred

We have a new love in our lives and his name is Fred. Fred is 5 1/2 years old, 36 " tall and teaches math at KITTENS University. He's the star of my favorite math books ever!

I can't do justice to them, you really need to read the samples, but they are riveting reads. I got sucked in, my dear MIL got sucked in, the Emperor... oh, yeah, and Klenda and Mxyl. The only catch is, they start at fractions so you need to be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide before you start the Fred series.

No, we are not abandoning Math U See just yet. As is, we are still carrying the full Math U See course load, we're just also doing Life of Fred for fun. The great thing is that Math U See only goes up through high school. Life of Fred goes through Calculus, Statistics, and Linear Algebra!

The thing I like most about Life of Fred is the way it's integrated with life. The fractions book doesn't just teach fractions, it teaches why you shouldn't believe everything you read in a newspaper, what not to tell a salesperson, and alliteration. I love it!

And, no, alas, I am not getting any money, books, or anything else for this endorsement...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marching Through Time

Of all the the events we got to, this is my favorite. The March through Time is an encampment of historical reenactors arranged chronologically. They have Celts, 3 Roman legions (from the Western and Eastern Empires!), knights, American Revolution, Civil War, Vietnam War soldiers, you name it! It was really jaw dropping to see them all camped out next to each other. We missed the last few years because I didn't remember until it was too late I actually looked them up in January this year so I wouldn't miss it.

This first picture is a Frankish warrior fighting for Charlemagne (the Emperor was able to trace his line back to Charlemagne, and this fellow was delighted to be able to defend actual descendants!). He's showing the kids his francisca.

Here we have Klenda being outfitted with a helm from the War of the Roses. I love it that the all the reenactors were so patient and kid friendly. They really seemed to enjoy the kids questions. Actually, they all seemed to be just enjoying themselves!

I must add these fellows - US Navy War of 1812. The kids ran off to see the privateers, but I talked Horatio Hornblower with these guys til the kids came back and dragged me away.

Here Klenda is swabbing a cannon. You can see Zorg in the back - he's finished ramming the shot, but you can't see Leena who was lighting the charge.

And look, here we all are in the Zulu War!

I was very interested in the large WWII encampment, partly because I've seen so many movies and pictures from that time period. These GIs were hanging out in a foxhole and all I could think was, it looks just like Foyle's War!

Zorg asked me to take a picture of the guns...

Zorg and Klenda were able to answer enough questions from what they had seen that they were both knighted. Quite a satisfying end to a great excursion!

I will have to download the rest of the pictures from Klenda's camera. She recently bought herself a very nice camera with a 10 gigabyte card (!) and has been taking a truly amazing number of pictures.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

But We're Feeling Muuuch Better Now

I am doing fine now, things just got a little crazy there for a while.

Some of it was crazy in a good way: we went to the March Through Time (pictures coming), I finally filed the Giant Stack of Homeschool Papers (turned out I hadn't filed anything since ...Halloween, actually!), I accomplished the Ultimate Housekeeping Trifecta (getting the homeschool room, Lego/exercise room, and guest room cleaned at the same time!), we got the garden going for the year (another post), and made many visits to the Arboretum and local playgrounds.

Some of it was crazy in a bad way: the cooktop cracking (again!) and the bizarre annual stress of figuring out how to keep the co-op going for another year without just giving up on the older kids (bizarre because I think I don't actually need to get stressed out about this every year, but I really do).

And there was a whole lot of just life crazy: figuring out how to get the organizing and cleaning stuff done while still setting up the garden before the weeds took hold yet spending as much time as possible outside while the weather is nice. And homeschooling the kids.

At any rate, the end is in sight! I only have 4 more co-ops and 3 more CCD classes!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lot O Life

I have a lot going on right now and I just don't have the emotional energy to blog. I will be able to blog about most of it within a week or so, but, til then, just pray for me, please!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

US History: The New Nation

I was pretty sure this would be a low tide section of US History. I had only a vague idea that Some Stuff Happened between the writing of the Constitution and the Civil War. I figured the War of 1812 must have happened in there somewhere (maybe around 1812?), but I never got why that was important other than getting the Star Spangled Banner.

My education started at the library! I found two great books:
A New Nation and USKids History: Book of the New American Nation.

I read A New Nation on my own and it gave me a much clearer picture of what was going on then and why it mattered. I would sum it up in this way: we are living with the repercussions (good and bad) of decisions made in this time period.

Thanks to this book, I finally GET the whole thing with the Federalists and Anti-Federalists and why they matter. I also understand why I never got it before. Basically, our country, from the time the ink was dry on the constitution continuing through today, has been having a long discussion (to put it politely) about who has power in the government. A great deal of US history is this discussion. The Civil War, for example, was about slavery, but the actual argument was that the Southern states had the right to make their own laws about slavery. That was why the South formed a loose confederacy of it's member states. It seems to me that the argument has slightly shifted in recent years from a Federal vs. State question to a Federal vs. Individual question, although that too was there from the beginning.

The Federalists, of course, thought the Federal government needed to have more power than the states (Alexander Hamilton, please call your office!). The Anti-Federalists (Thomas Jefferson) believed the States were nearly sovereign and only wanted to give the Federal government enough power to do the things the States couldn't do on their own.

Why couldn't I get such a simple concept before? Because... The Federalists became Whigs became the current Republicans who are now against "big government" and the Anti-Federalists became Republicans became Democratic Republicans became current Democrats who are for "big government" (sorta). Any questions?

I will have Mxyl and Klenda read A New Nation, but it's probably too wordy to hold the attention of Zorg and Leena.

USKids History: Book of the New American Nation is worth it's weight in gold. When I realized it was a series, I wanted to kick myself for not starting it sooner! All of these books are the ideal combination of stories, primary sources and fun, meaningful, immersive activities.

Once I realized we would be using it longer than the library would like us to have it, I looked on Amazon and scooped one up for $3 plus shipping. I also grabbed the one on the Civil War, but if you are starting a US History unit, they have one on Native Americans, the Colonial era, and the Revolutionary War.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter
Zoom Times!

We had a crazy Holy Week because all the work on the basement came down to that week, but we managed a seder, a pilgrimage to the Franciscan Monastery, Mxyl serving at Holy Thursday Mass, and our own Living Stations.

On Holy Saturday we dyed eggs, made up baskets and made Easter posters. We skipped the home made candy this year!

I was worried that we wouldn't be able to focus on the spiritual, but God provided plenty of opportunities, and it was a very joyful and heartfelt Easter!