Goodbye November +Advent Calendar

November is over. And thank goodness. Somehow it turned out to be so much more stressful than I was hoping it would be. There were quite a few shocks close to heart and there were and are a lot of things to ponder and re-evaluate.

What have we been up to:

-Lots of field trips: We went to Denver Art Museum and saw Glory of Venice and Japanese Fashion Exhibits. We went to Denver Museum of Nature and Science and saw Extreme Mammals exhibit, as well as Mummies (D. loved it so much, C. on the other hand hated it, “too many dead bodies”, I must say it was interesting but I didn’t enjoy it as much for the same reason). We went and listened to an awesome Drums of the World performance by Colorado Symphony. Even got to do Mannequin Challenge with them. We took a tour around Denver Center for the Performance Arts. D. and I did it once when he was in the first grade, but we had an awesome guide this time around and, since I am so much more in touch with my artistic side now, I achieved new levels of appreciation for the backstage workers, designers and craftsmen.

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-The weather was fickle, with winds, first snow and some icy rain. But plenty of sunny days too.  We were busy with extracurriculars too- both kids had a dress rehearsal for the choir concert (C. can’t wait to debut, I unfortunately will have to chaperone and watch her from the backstage instead of the audience), both participated in karate tournament. C. did extremely well, was brave and endured long waits. D. did well too, but he also got hurt, not seriously but enough for me to consider taking him to the ER. He was ok in the end, very thankful for that.

-Also thankful for friends that we were finally able to have over for dinner, thankful for everyone being overall okay and even husbands medical concern isn’t serious and very treatable.

-We have two intense weeks ahead of us, two concerts for each of the kids, tournament training at karate, I will most likely cancel our mid-year testing, I don’t think kids will handle 4 hours and then a long rehearsal all in the same day. We all need rest.

-As usual I have made an advent calendar for kids, they ask for it and really look forward to simple activities we do. The list is pretty much the same as last year, the only thing I added is “grant each other’s wish” (with a reminder to keep it realistic and kind)

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Kids read a lot in November: D’s favorite was “Marvels” by Brian Selznick and C. loved Grace Lin’s “Starry River of the Sky”. I am hoping to do a little book advent as well as the one with the activities we’ll see how it goes.

Hopefully, December is kind to all of us

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September Round Up + First Week of October

September flew by and first week of October is also gone.

What was our September like?

-We were quite busy with school and extracurricular activities. After we settled in the routine our tempo picked up a little bit. Both kids had their MAPS testing, still awaiting the results, but  I am confident they did well. Both kids had their camps at choir. D. also participated in Songs of Holocaust event with his choir. Both got through the first bad cold (I got it too, ugh).  There were a couple of outings- we went to the Ice Core Lab and learned about Antarctic Ice and the process of getting it, it was very interesting, we got to go to the lab itself, the temperature was very low, kids got to learn first hand what it must be like to do a work of getting the ice from Antarctica.

We also went to Denver Botanic Gardens, which we try to do every year around the same time (many thanks to our friends for taking us along). The flowers and trees were absolutely beautiful and all of us got to sketch a little right there in the gardens.

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Fall is truly here now, especially comparing the the first week of September with it’s “still summer” warmth.

-First week of October was very special for us as we had dear friends visiting. It also coincided with our first break this school year.  We went to the mountains and saw some first snowflakes and to Colorado Springs to the Garden of the Gods. It was absolutely lovely to have them over and we are truly thankful they came to visit.

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-I am working more and more on my art, I had some good things happen in September and I hope October is even better. Etsy shop is coming soon too.

 

What were my kids reading:

This list runs from beginning of school and through the month of September. I only count new books, something they haven’t read before. But as usual there were tons of re-reads.

D. read:

Fiction: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pye, Matilda by Roald Dahl

Non Fiction: How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba

Russian: Скифы в Остроконечных Шапках С. Фингарет, Каштанка и другие рассказы А.П. Чехов, М. Горбовцев “Мишкино Детство”

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C. read:

Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole, The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell

In Russian:Сельма Лагерлёф “Путешествие Нильса с дикими гусями”,  “В Лесу” М.С. Соколов-Микитов

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Overall, the month of September was good to us, let’s hope October will be even better.

 

 

 

WEEKLY ROUND UP: 10% of school year is done :D

Well, I was away from the blog again. With the school year in full swing days fly by very very fast. The weather cooled down at last and we have our comforters out. Even though the sun can still be quite brutal, we can safely say that summer moved on. Truly thankful for that.

 

What have we been up to:

School at home goes well,  mostly routine, we are settled into our daily rhythm and overall it is good. 10 % of the school year is done, hehehe. Kids had their testing this past Wednesday and seemed to have done ok, even though little C. forgot a lot of her math over the summer. D. gets lots of new information in math now, algebraic equations, exponents,  it is all very exciting. C. is ready to start multiplications in earnest. Both read and write a lot. C’s spelling has improved tremendously.

Outside of home: extracurriculars progress nicely, D. is getting ready for a sleepover with his choir next week, C. had a couple of choir practices and seems to be loving it so far. Karate goes great for both as well. I am surprised how much C. loves it considering she wouldn’t even hear of trying  a couple of months ago. Now she’s fully focused on her practice and tries her hardest to keep up with more experienced kids. She’s an only girl in her Saturday class but it doesn’t bother her at all.  We had a lovely outing with friends in one of the local parks, it used to be my “pregnancy promenade” when I was expecting C. but then we moved away and I never returned there. I forgot how pretty it was with all the water and birds, the grand time was had by all of us.

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-The House: we have interrupted our kitchen repairs. Interrupted is the right word here, I guess, since the repairs are truly never-ending. There are still minor things that need to be finished- some paint touch ups here and there, new curtains need to be put up. Downstairs bathroom needs to be done asap…But our kitchen is cleaner now and looks completely different. We went from yellow/ black to green/white/light furniture combination.

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Cooking: the highlight of the week is

Breakfast Pasta Bake

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-cooked pasta (we had elbows)

-5 eggs plus 1/2 c of milk

-thinly sliced baby zicchini

-shredded cheese

-salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F

Put boiled elbow pasta into a greased oven-proof dish, pout egg and milk mixture over, bake for about 20 minutes, sprinkle extra cheese on top and bake for another 3-5 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

-What are we reading:

D. read “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown, he was absolutely fascinated by the process of discovering a new planet and wants to learn more about space now

C. reads Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

Together they are reading Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky and Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas

I read The Light Between Oceans by M.L.Stedman . I enjoyed this book, such a very sad story, but the descriptions of a life at the lighthouse were beautiful and fascinating. I am not sure whether I will see the movie, but I might.

Plans for the next week:

We have quite a schedule- doctor for D, a field trip, choir camp for D. I had to cancel one of the clubs kids were looking forward to, it was getting too crazy …Overall life is good.

Hope next week is fun and pleasant for everyone.

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)!

It’s been a while…

May is almost done, and last time I talked about how we’re doing was the beginning of March. Where did the time go?

Seriously, though, we had a rather intense spring–  field trips and museum visits, kids participated in Roots and Shoots program focusing on cleaning up local water ways. Both kids had their concerts with choir and ballet. Both had their testing and although I am still waiting for the final numbers, I am fairly sure they did well. D. got silver at karate tournament and got promoted into next level at his choir, C. joins his choir next year as well.

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great horned owl- mama

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baby horned owl

 

 

 

Looking back at our school year, I can say that it was probably the toughest one we had in 7+ years of homeschooling. There were too many activities, and although I scaled back a little in the very beginning of the school year, it still was a lot. There were positive changes in kids’ learning- C. especially made a huge leap with her spelling and story telling skills. She is fantastic with math too, she really loves it. C. also took some Spanish classes and enjoyed it immensely. D. focused on basics and out of all extra subjects he enjoyed science the most. We are a little bit behind on our history studies, the last month was just so crazy, but we will catch up during the summer.

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I already know kids’ schedules in co-op for the following school year. I am more or less certain what our extra curricular activities will look like. It was a tough decision for me to choose what stays and what goes, especially because kids wanted to do it all and they are good at what they want to do. But we will take a break from some things and hope it will be a little bit slower.

My things- I have a positive change in my life as I am able at last to make a little bit of money with my art.  It’s not something huge (yet), but the response is positive and I am looking forward to expanding in the future. I am also painting walls in C’s room, replacing stickers with drawings. Husband changed jobs and still has some school left for the fall semester. Summer is for resting.

 

What I hope we’ll do this summer?  TAKE IT SLOW please. I am looking forward to lazy mornings, to books, and paint and yoga, but most of all outings in nature. Slowing down. Reconnecting. I am not sure if we will be able to take any far away trips this summer and I don’t have anything planned as of right now (although I would love to see ocean again)

Week in Review : March 1- March 6, 2016 (and what were we up to in February)

Spring is here! (not on calendar yet, I know, I know, but I don’t care, IT IS HERE!) Birds outside are going crazy, and even though I know that Colorado weather might bring us more snow yet, the leaves on the bush near our door are coming out and the general feel is that the worst is over. The winter was quite mild this year, I can’t really complain I guess, but we were so sick this winter..

Seriously most of our February was miserable because of pink-eyes, coughs and sniffles. Not much happened otherwise. We joined Roots and Shoots  project with a local homeschool group, D. had choir events during February, other than that not much outside of our regular school days. We did a unit on Ancient India for history, and learned about India for geography/cultural studies. For me personally February brought a very good news of finding a spot to sell cards with my artwork. It went pretty well, around 75% of cards were sold and I just put in second batch with new designs. I joined Society6 and I still consider whether I should open and etsy store, but it will depend on if  I can actually maintain it. I made myself a workspace and hopefully it will help me stay productive.

March started well and I must say the fact that days are longer made a huge difference for us. We still manage to get sick a little, but the first week quite intense:

-Meeting friends.

-Roots and Shoots meeting, kids discussed their project and it was fascinating to see the wide range of ideas that kids brought to the meeting

-A visit to Butterfly Pavillion.

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-A solo hike for me, how nice it was to be outside in the sun BY MYSELF. I felt re-energized.

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-D’s dojo performed at Hina Matsuri Japanese Doll Festival again this year, and once again it was a treat to see wonderful art work at the festival and to watch the performances

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In the kitchen:

I am doing 21  days of salads challenge, trying to make a different salad every day. So far it’s been pretty good, but it starts to get repetitive.

We got hooked on Cheese-Herb Popovers (the recipe came from “The Perfect Egg” Cookbook, which I reviewed on this blog before)

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Makes 6:

Pre-heat oven to 450 F, butter muffin cups

beat together 2 eggs, pinch of salt, 1 cup of milk, 2 tbsp of melted butter. Add 1 cup of flour, do not overmix. In a separate bowl combine your favorite cheese with your favorite herb.  Pour batter into the muffin cups filling them up about halfway and reserving about 1 tbs of batter for each cup. Add cheese mixture, pour the remaining tablespoon of batter over cheese. Bake at 450F for about 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F for the next 15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

What are we reading:

In addition to many re-reads,in February and first week of March D. read

-Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

-The Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater

-The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

-The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum

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C.’s favorite chapter books in February and first week of March are

-The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles De Lint

-The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

-The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi

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So here’s our end of winter/beginning of Spring in a nutshell, this week is supposed to be relatively calm, looking forward to enjoying it!

 

 

 

Week’s Roundup: Jan. 11- Jan 17, 2016

A quick roundup on what we’ve been up to this past week.

-We said goodbye to our holiday tree, it is always bittersweet to take down the decorations, and seeing the room empty and treeless again. But since our tree was so huge and took up a big part of our living room we were also anxious to get our space back

-We created tiny universes with marbles and phone light

-we had doctors visits, mostly good news, hopefully more health issues will be taken care of next week

-school at home went well, much better than last week. For history kids learned about European megalithic structures, D. watched a documentary about Stonehenge and read about Newgrange from Frank Delaney’s Ireland. It was all about human body at co-op, lots of info about blood. For geography D. is following adventurers from Jules Verne’s “In Search of Castaways” which he reads in Russian. The book took him across South America already 🙂

-all extracurricular activities went well, choir is still on a break, but karate, ballet and chess club are all back and kids seem to be having lots of fun with these

-at home: D’s room re-painting is in progress, and, hopefully a new bookcase and curtains are coming soon

-no special outings this week, but lots planned in the weeks to come

Favorite thing:

We read about amazing matte oil paintings setting the scenery for original Star Wars  and kids set to create their own playscape backgrounds. D.’s drawings quickly transformed into a Star Wars poster (which he is still working on), but C. made a jungle scenery for her little animals, I especially loved how she used oil pastels as a part of the landscape and moved them around…

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Not many pictures, not that many events, yet we had a better week overall.