January 2017

Already a month into 2017. January sure went by fast. Yet at the same time it was a month of adjustment, rather than new beginnings.

img_0845We went back to doing school after nearly a month-long break. Kids went back to their extracurricular activities. I went back to my work and had a very productive month. Life moves in measured paces more or less, with a crazy day here and there of course.

 

We went to see Star Wars the Power of Costume in Denver Art Museum, and we absolutely loved it, such a large and thorough exhibit. Local people, if you haven’t yet, definitely go and take a look, it’s on until April.

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D. did three days of World Peace Game with our homeschool group. It was such a valuable experience for him and made him think about current events more.

School was mostly “getting into the swing of things” and hopefully it will be better in February.

Gray and white cold days, splashes of color of mundane things – the combination seemed comforting somehow

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My favorite moment was probably playing with Excentric Cinema book by Beatrice Coron. Kids had so much fun moving shadows and making up stories

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I ended up making one of my own papercuts out of black paper and it worked too

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Kids read (beyond a pile of re-reads):

D. read Pax by Sara Pennypacker and White Fang by Jack London

C. read BFG by Roald Dahl and Amazing Animal Stories by Quentin Blake

Mama read Spaceman by Mike Massimino and absolutely loved it

 

I have opened a bookstagram  with most of our reads. Come and take a look. I have a Litsy account under the same username too.

So this was our January. February looks quite busy, but it is also shorter. I hope to keep the measured pace and not give in to the crazy moments.

 

 

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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

Goodbye October+ First Week of November

October is over, whaaat?

That was one crazy month. Even though we didn’t have a particularly heavy schedule life seemed busy.

What have we been up to in October:

-We had guests: D’s godfather and his wife came to visit and spent nearly a week with us. We were so happy to see them and their visit gave us the longed-for opportunity to take a small break in our studies.

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-I received kids’ MAPS test scores and was pleasantly surprised to see how well kids did, especially C. who tested as a third grader (to have her sip the grade was a spontaneous decision and I am still questioning it from time to time),  D. did wonderfully, but he almost always does, good job to both of them.

-Studies at home went well for the most part. We hardly had time for much besides core subjects for some reason, I am glad kids take science and history at co-op, this way at least  there they got their electives covered. They did lots of art on their own. But that would be my major goal to get beyond core in November.

-C. had her choir camp, D. was working very hard in Concert Choir and helped his friends there learn a song in Russian. They sound really good, can’t wait to hear them at the concert as well.

-We all got through a stomach bug, that makes it two times we got sick this school year. Something needs to be done.

-The weather was gorgeous, we got to see some amazing colors. The trees are getting bare now and we are ready (well, almost ready) for winter.

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First week of November was loaded with things to do and thoughts to process:

-C. is heading to her first karate tournament next week, so she’s working very hard on learning her forms and practicing sparring. D. is going too, but it’s his 10th, so he’s more relaxed this time around.

-We went to Denver Art Museumimg_20161102_114234

-Just a handful of practices remains for choir before the big concert. Looking forward to that a lot.

I finally opened my Etsy store, YAAAAY! I have put a few cards out already, so come and check it out.

 

What my kids read in October:

C. read “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick and it took her all month to get through the book, but she loved it

D. read

The Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones,

Call of the Wild by Jack London, and

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

There were also tons of re-reads, which I didn’t keep track of.

Mama read:

Across the Universe Trilogy by Beth Revis. I read quite a bit of Young Adult novels this year, not just because they’re fun, but also to add to D’s “to be read” pile, this trilogy, although it was fast-paced and interesting read will have to wait for a couple of years.

 

Plans for November:

We have A LOT going on outside of home. I will need to try and balance it out so our school at home doesn’t suffer. But personally, I hope to reach the level of calm that will support me throughout the winter months.The past weeks were anything but calm, there was anxiety, there were struggles with children and general uneasiness about certain matters. Health wasn’t the best either, especially for kids. I crave the sense of calm and simplicity, so I will work on that this month.  I am already preparing for our December celebrations and hopefully will make an advent calendar slowly instead of at the last minute like past years.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Goodbye January- Month’s Roundup

January truly flew by, but at the same time seemed so long and crazy…

Overall it was an ok month, we had a bit of rough start easing back into doing school routine, there was some friction between me and kids regarding progression of our days and expectations from both sides. But I honestly hope we worked it out.

First week was a mix of rough and quiet, some outings, some fun at home. I am glad kids got to play in a couple of different ways and they also let me join in. We made Marble universes and little walnut shells boats. Week 2 was busy and chaotic but we made it through.

The final two weeks of January were a little bit calmer. Still some medical things that we had to do (all is more or less well), C. got a little bit sick. We went to a wonderful Youth Concert with Colorado Symphony, children and I both enjoyed it immensely. Nothing beats the excitement of hearing your favorite pieces live!

The weather was so gorgeous just before the snow storm came in and we got to go for a lovely walk:

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The day was so clear…

 

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the delicate beauty of last year’s leaves..

 

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children enjoyed playing with the thinnest ice on the creek the most

 

Kids read some wonderful books in January  . I drew...and somebody bought what I drew, that was probably the highlight of my month, personally. I am not yet sure where this journey will take me, but I hope somewhere good. In the meantime we are ready to welcome February and then it won’t be long until SPRING.