School Year is finished+ round up of two weeks in May (5/11-5/24/2015)

Unbelievable, our school year is finished! The past two weeks were crazy, but we made it.

Photo of the week:

It's been wet and overcast  on and off for a couple of weeks now, yet I love it

It’s been wet and overcast on and off for a couple of weeks now, yet I love it

What we’ve been up to:

  • We have wrapped up all our studies at home, but managed to start a new thing– D. wanted to study Japanese (I tried giving him some hiragana worksheets a year or so ago, but it didn’t stick), I got him a Japanese From Zero 1 textbook and he is full of enthusiasm. We learned about numbers this week and he’s very excited to learn more. We’ll see how it goes
D's very first worksheet, learning to put numbers together, all in romaji, but the book promises to gradually take students through hiragana and onward

D’s very first worksheet, learning to put numbers together, all in romaji, but the book promises to gradually take students through hiragana and onward

  • D. had his exams and re-audition for choir. Waiting to find out which choir he will be directed to for the next year. C. had her audition too, she wants to be a part of a training choir next year and fingers crossed she made it in.
  • C. graduated from Kindergarten in her Home Option Program class. She was very cute and serious walking with her friends, she had a little cap on, and suddenly I felt very acutely the sadness of not having a little one in the house anymore..I mean, sure she is still small and my baby, but a proper school age child at the same time. It’s weird. Time went by too fast.
  • D. finished fourth grade at our Home Option Program . He contributed a poem and some jokes for the newspaper created by all students from his writing class and celebrated the end of the year with friends.
  • C. had her ballet recital. It was an evening show and I was worried how she will do, but even though her turn to come up on stage was very late (a good hour past her usual bedtime) she was focused, and looked great.
  • We finally got together with friends and spent some time with them. That was very nice.
  • We repainted the guest room, and, if all goes as planned, C. will move out of kids’ shared bedroom and each child will have their own.

In the kitchen:

Meals were simple this week, but I am very glad I managed to make a batch of kim-chi and I tried making some pickled chard stems (roughly following this recipe, substituted coconut vinegar for rice vinegar, and korean red pepper instead of sriracha, I also skipped celery stalks). Chard stems turned out delicious, but the brine was a bit too strong for my husband’s taste. Will go easier next time.

pickled chard stems


homemade kimchi

-In a large bowl chop up 1 large Napa cabbage, mix with salt, cover with water, press a heavy plate on top (I also put a large jar with water on top to make it heavier), let sit for two days.

-Rince cabbage leaves under running water, squeezing the water out, let drain for another hour.

-In a large bowl combine, a couple of garlic cloves crushed, some grated ginger, Korean red pepper, cilantro (and/or green onions), all to taste, add more salt if cabbage is not salty enough. Mix well with cabbage (use gloves if mix by hand, Korean pepper is very hot). Pack cabbage in a jar, cover with water, close the lid and let sit for another two or three days, check often and poke with knife to release gases. Enjoy!

What are we reading?

Favorites for the past two weeks are

D. reads the first book from Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart he enjoys it a lot.

Mysterious Benedict Society

C. started her Magic Tree House  adventure- She read Dinosaurs Before Dark  and loved it.

Dinosaurs before dark

Together we read James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, absolutely delighted with this book. I read Herriot growing up and his immensely kind books made a huge impact on me.

herriot's treasury

In Russian: Д. читает Максим Горький “Рассказы для Детей” из серии Классная Классика, К. читала “Чудесные сказки” Алексея Пешкова.

Mama reads: I am finishing “Please, Take Care of Mom” by Kyung-Sook Shin, it is quite a  sad and heart-wrenching story, yet it is also calming somehow.

The coming week is blissfully empty, just D.’s karate (which doesn’t break for the summer). Looking forward to the downtime.


Now looking back at our school year:


-We did pretty well keeping up with our studies, kids read a lot. C. especially made big break-through with her reading and writing. D. wrote a lot, especially poetry.

-We had a lot of fun field trips

-Both children did music, both continued with piano and D. tried learning violin.

-We took breaks just when we felt we needed them, I think I was pretty good at recognizing an approaching burn-out this year. The result is kids are tired, but not completely out of their minds.

-We had fun events such as Hobbit Day and Mozart Day etc. It was fun and I hope we can do more of these in the future.

-Outside activities, while many, were better spaced out comparing to the last year. D. had a few  concerts with his choir. He participated in four karate tournaments with various degree of success, and he managed to get his first gold in sparring. He received two new belts as well. C. did very well in her ballet and is eager to continue. Both kids did very well in swimming, especially C. for whom swimming is a game and not a chore.

-Kids had MAPS testing and both did very well. D. had a huge increase in his math score, something to be happy about for sure.

Something to work on:

-We did very little art comparing to years before.:( Crafts were even closer to zero. It stopped being a priority and all of us miss it a lot.

-We did very little history, comparing to previous years. D. had Colorado History in Home Option Program, but C. had nothing like that, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at home. Same goes for Geography.

-There were many distractions still at home this year. Next school year I will work on minimizing them even more.

Overall, I am pleased with how our Kindergarten and Fourth Grade went. It was fun watching kids learning side-by-side and from each other. D. becomes a mentor and a big source of strength for C.  I am not sure we would be able to achieve that kind of relationship if kids weren’t spending so much time together. Children want to be learning at home next year as well (we discuss our options every six months or so) and I am happy about it. The major thing to work on for me is planning, I feel that I’ve started too late last summer, will try to be more organized this time around. Our schedule was pretty full too and I doubt it will be more relaxed next year, so the biggest goal is to minimize stress (which, this year was mostly driving long distances for me, but we won’t move so I’m not sure what to do about it yet).

We will still be doing some school throughout the summer (not to the school year extent, rather to keep up) and will hopefully catch up on things that we weren’t able to do due to being too busy. I will start my planning for the next year right away too.



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