First week of the new school year (8.15-8.21.2016)

We are back to school at home🙂 Kids had their fill of summer and were begging to start school since pretty much the end of July and since our co-op was due to start on the 19th, we decided to get a head start and begin our school at home on the 15th.

The beginning of the school year for us coincided with the house project that extended well beyond our initial timeline.

First day at home was idyllic, we sat at our new table next to our new bookcase and got everything done. The rest of the week required more flexibility. We still managed to finish most of the things that were planned, but had to improvise a lot too.

Tuesday was our “Anything can happen” day, I am hoping to have at least a couple of those each month to shake up the routine, take our learning outside and delight the kids who made the most of our first Anything can happen Tuesday. We went to Denver Museum of Nature and Science and although there are no special exhibits at the moment, kids paid a lot of attention in the regular ones, they took notes, talked to docents and discussed their findings afterward.

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Friday was first day at co-op and kids had tons of fun there (and mom got a much needed break), D. also had bootcamp with his choir on Friday and Saturday. The choir is even more serious business for him this year, because it’s the concert choir at last and the workload and responsibility has increased. On Friday D. turned 11, it was a very emotional day for me, because he was just a newborn and BOOM! I have a pre-teen on my hands. Reminded me once again how fast the time goes by really, and how tall kids grow when we’re not looking.

Sunday was my birthday, seventeen times two is no joke, although I think I’ve changed so much since I was seventeen that it didn’t quite feel like a blink of an eye. But still, years went by rather fast, seventeen times three might see me a grandma. We went for a hike in our beloved Roxborough State Park (which we haven’t visited since spring, so hot it was this summer). It is gorgeous as always and full of colors- yellow and purple of flowers, reds and greens of berries and leaves…

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Kids read : D. – Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table book which he got for his birthday. C. reads “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, she loves animals and it’s a perfect book for her.

Overall it was a good week, and I believe we can call our first week of school a success. I feel I am better prepared this time around, mainly because kids’ activities fell into place nicely (I finally have both kids doing the same thing at the same place on the same day, YAY!), and I make rest a priority this year. (Another lovely article on rhythm helped me cement this decision) D. is  often tired and dizzy, which I am told is normal because his body is getting ready for changes, he grows fast now too. I was very tired last year, I couldn’t have a conversation without complaining about being tired and sick all the time. I am determined not to let it happen this year.District’s schedule is rather cruel- an odd day off here and there and no big breaks until Thanksgiving, we followed it last year and got promptly burned out. So this year I am hoping to take a longer break  every three or four weeks if kids feel like it or a full week off in the beginning-middle of October. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, the temperature goes down (especially at night), yellow leaves are starting to appear and we are mentally ready for the fall.

Hope the rest of August is kind for everyone and happy learning to those that are back to school (or starting soon)!

Cook Korean! by Robin Ha- it’s a comic! it’s a cookbook!

Korean food is delicious and I try not to miss an opportunity to leaf through a book on Korean cuisine and try a dish or two. I am also an aspiring artist and art book enthusiast. Robin Ha,  a comic artist,  brings the two together- in her book “Cook Korean!”   . Yes, it is a comic book about cooking Korean Food!

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The book features more than sixty recipes of Korean most popular dishes. Each recipe is done in a delightful comic strip with straightforward yet amazingly detailed instructions. The introduction shows us basic tools and ingredients, but also specialty dishes of Korean regions, as well as Korean table layout (which I really appreciate, I see it often in k-dramas, but it’s good to know what’s on it at last). Next 1o chapters cover staple dishes for 10 categories : Kimchi and Pickles, Side Dishes, Meat and Poultry, Seafood, Soups and Stews, Porridges , Noodles and Rice Cakes, Snacks and Street Food, Cocktails and Anju, and finally Korean Fusion. Each chapter introduces reader to a specific food category and includes cultural tips and historical facts as well. I loved the character Dengki who cooks each dishes in the comic strips. I loved gorgeous illustration that opened each chapter as well. A quick leaf-through can be found here.

Overall impression: This book truly stands out. The dishes are not complicated and the fact that the instructions are so thorough helps a great deal. Sometimes the comic format seemed a bit erratic to me, but it took some getting used to and I found it easy enough to follow. The main character is adorable, comics are humorous and fun to read even without any plans to cook. I loved all the cultural information, very helpful and educational. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

Popmanga Coloring Book by Camilla d’Errico

Coloring books are awesome, coloring book by a favorite artist- twice as great. I am a huge fan of Camilla d’Errico’s art and her Pop Painting book remains my favorite go-to source for anything related  to the artistic process. I love her whimsical paintings and the idea of merging art with pop culture. Imagine my excitement when I found out a Popmanga Coloring Book by her  is coming out.

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The book is so fun (see a quick leaf through here) It features her trademark art in black and white, some drawings are portraits, some a scenery, but always a story in each one of them. I love the variety- there are larger drawings, and those that are intricate and full of detail. There are patterns too if you are in the mood for meditation. The “helper” character Ayako that appears on some of the pages and gives a reader some advice about coloring is absolutely adorable.  The paper is great. I colored with watercolors,  the buckling was minimal and paper held the paint extremely well.

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This book is too fun to pass up, I am so glad it’s in my hands now. Looking forward to hours of entertainment and hoping to learn a lot about drawing in general by studying d’Errico’s sketches in this book. A must-have for a coloring enthusiast, whether a fan of pop manga or not.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Goodbye July, Hello August!

July is done. I am not sorry to see it go, relieved to welcome August at last.

How was our July? It was hot, oh so hot. I think we got spoiled by all the summers with cool and rainy afternoons we had previously and the heat felt mostly unbearable.

I had a tiny solo trip in the beginning of the month, only one day of San Francisco. I haven’t traveled by myself for such a long time, it felt weird, yet amazing too. I didn’t need to hurry, didn’t need to worry about bathrooms, food, people getting wet in the bay or tired from all the walking. I stopped at every single place I was hoping to visit and even caught a glimpse of places we lived in back in the days of D’s infancy. I am now asking myself why was I in such a rush to get back home on the first plane next day…because I should have stayed a little bit longer. Next time for sure.

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The rest of July was spent mostly indoors during the hottest parts of the day, kids played outside in the evening and before noon. We went to the garden nearby to enjoy the abundance of flowers and frogs!

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There are various projects in the house that got done (and a couple of more are about to be started), wish us luck.

Kids read a lot , D. especially enjoyed The Wings of Fire books and Mysterious Benedict Society. C. was all about Calvin and Hobbes, she grew into such an active reader. D. usually reads in one sitting and doesn’t ask questions at all until it’s time for us to discuss the book, C. on the other hand stops,asks what the word means, and then discusses meaning of the word for her and for me (i.e. “predestined”, boy, that was quite a conversation), and only after that she goes back to the story. I absolutely love this.

I read “The Court of Thorns and Roses” and “The Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas. While it was entertaining, it was also a little too racy for my taste. Not putting it on D’s to be read pile for a good while, despite it being fantasy genre which he adores.

Planning, oh planning….I had such a hard time with it. I still do, despite us being 2 weeks away from the beginning of everything -school at home, school at co-op, activities… I planned the first month in daily details, and rough drafted the rest of the school year, and then got stuck. Even the way I planned out first few weeks feels wrong, feels like it’s too much. So I’m shuffling things around again, and at the same time worry if I’m cutting too much off. I guess it doesn’t get easier in the 8th year of homeschooling. Or maybe I am simply overthinking everything. Another thing to focus on is rhythm and there are awesome articles on how I want it to be (The Parenting Passageway for example , and Cedar Ring Mama’s post  was absolutely lovely), but what will it be in reality, I don’t know at all. It will be D’s 6th grade and potentially last year of homeschooling if he decides to give junior high a try next year. I want to keep him at home and at the same time worry if I can handle it. Oh, the times of transitions…

Anyway, August is here, time for a deep breath before another school year begins, I hope this month is kind to everybody.

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley

I enjoyed Mark Crilley‘s previous work The Realism Challenge and found his lessons clear and straightforward. I was excited to see his new work and in such an interesting format- a graphic novel called The Drawing Lesson. My children were especially excited for this one, as they are huge fans of graphic novels and they love to draw. As a self-taught artist I can appreciate the advice about the basics.

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The book focuses on the importance of a mentor in the life of an aspiring artist. The story is about a boy named David who encounters a woman artist in the park. David admires Becky’s art and begs her to teach him. Each chapter introduces a concept and gives the idea for practice. Both characters are funny (my kids laughed so much at poor Becky being annoyed by eager to learn David). And as David’s drawing progresses, so does his friendship with Becky. The final chapter and Epilogue were quite touching. Each chapter gives very basic but at the same time very useful advice about how to get this or that part of the drawing right. There are 11 chapters, my kids were done reading it in one sitting and grabbed their sketchbooks right away.

Overall impression: I think this book is a great tool for introducing the basics to the young people as well as adults that want to learn how to draw but don’t know where to start. Some aspects of the story (introducing yourself to a stranger just because they draw well and especially barging into their houses) irked me a bit, but didn’t bother my kids at all. They paid all the attention to the advice about drawing. My children enjoyed the format of the graphic novel very much. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Goodbye June, Hello July

June flew by, it seems to me time picks up the speed no matter how hard I try to slow it down. We did manage to rest though. June meant a total freedom for kids-we hiked as a family, they played outside for hours with their friends, they read what they wished (not a single suggestion from me). It was a welcome break for me as well, I was honestly way too tired and too close to a burn-out. June was also crazy hot. So I am very happy to have upper 60s and rain on the first day of July. I am also more productive when the weather is like this, and I need to be productive-our school year starts in only a month and a half (first day in co-op is the 19th, and I will have to start at home on the 15th to ease kids into rhythm) . I have barely started my planning and now have to catch up.

Anyway, how was our June:

We visited a new park Eldorado Canyon State Park in Boulder, CO, we had explored but a small part of it, we need to come back there soon

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Another new destination for us was Mount Falcon Park, a true wonder located mere 25 minutes away from our home, and to think it’s the first time for us going there!

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In addition to these places we did a 9 mile loop in our beloved Staunton State Park, Matthews Winters Park and went to Audubon Center at Chatfield.

 

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Kids were also proud to see the Water Conservation display they did with their friends from our Homeschool Group for Roots and Shoots project.

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In the kitchen, we made popsicles- bananas+avocado (1/2)+blueberries +strawberries+ raspberries+ coconut water +orange juice+ flax seeds for crunchiness. Delicious!

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Reading: D. has completed The Inheritance Cycle books, loved it to pieces. C. read a lot of Bad Kitty books, which she still adores. We watched A Lego Brickumentary which revived kids’ interest in Lego.

I had a productive month for drawing, all about it here

So yeah, life is good. July will be a little bit busier as my husband’s schedule changes again, I have a tiny solo trip ahead of me, kids are getting ready for their first sleepover at friends’ house…Planning is the main thing on my mind though, so I will focus my attention on that a lot.

Happy July to everyone!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT by Chris Guillebeau

What first caught my attention was the title of this book, “The Happiness of Pursuit”. Can a journey be a reward in itself? Chris Guillebeau, an author who visited every country in the world by the age of 35 (wow!) certainly makes a case for it. The book is a collection of stories of people who undertook a personal quest of some sort and have completed or are in the process of completing it.

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Initially I thought that it will be an amusing collection of success stories, but this book also provides tools to recognize the signs of a change that must happen for a quest to start (sometimes it’s just a slump in the work environment, sometimes it’s a terminal illness, sometimes just a general discontent). Second part of the book deals with the journey itself, the way, the cost, the meaning for a specific person. I think I liked this section the best because it showed the wide range of quests, you don’t have to set to visit every country in the world, for example, you can cook a meal from each too. The third part deals with destination or what each person gains from their quest.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I have this yearning for quests and regularly make one up. It isn’t far from home 99.9% at a time, but I appreciate the satisfaction it gives me and lessons I gain from each and every one of them. Quests can be big or small, aimed at the wide audience or deeply personal, the important this is to try. Highly recommend.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.