Events and School Life

While the Boys are Away…

The first few days of this week were a little different around here, mostly because all the ‘men’ were away on the annual ‘men’s camping trip’. Meri and I had movie night, ate too much popcorn, and worked on a giant baby to-do list. Although we didn’t really make a dent in the list, we did get many things done, and had fun doing them. I finally repainted our bedroom, and hung up some art. We built the co-sleeper and put a headboard on the bed. bedroomAmerica was a huge help in organizing all the baby clothes by type, which is wonderful because up until now they have all just been jumbled into the wardrobe with no rhyme or reason. We packed the baby’s hospital bag, as well as mine! wardrobeThe big news is that we are scheduled for an induction on September 8th, one week from today. I am truly hoping that she just decides she is done ‘cooking’ before that, since the idea of being induced is something that I do not relish. At least I know that it won’t take longer than one more week, which is a comfort because all of a sudden, everything hurts and is exhausting. mantisWe caught a praying mantis for the boys to examine after camping. He is gigantic, and seems fairly angry, but at the same time, he is fascinating. Our first Art & Science lesson is on insect anatomy, and the ‘scientist as illustrator’, so the timing is perfect!meri ice creamMeri and I also exercised some of our most important skills in the kitchen, and made ice cream.

Our book orders have been rolling in, and I have been typing syllabuses like a madwoman. I think there are only one or two left to complete, and then I can just sit back and fill in my teacher’s plan book with a cup of coffee!

Today was the first day that the end of summer seemed like it was getting closer, although I still haven’t smelled an autumn morning yet. I’ll believe it when it gets here. Until then, it’s shorts, and swimming, ice cream and sprinklers…after our studies of course!

Hanging up our pull down map, Shelley

School Supplies, and Books, Books, BOOKS!

Jacek Yerka 1952 - Polish Surrealist painter - Tutt'Art@ (5)

painting by Jacek Yerka

I have a big spreadsheet for all the books, and some of the supplies that I have planned so far. It is slightly large for the blog format, but I am posting it for those of you who like spreadsheets. (you know who you are, Stiles Brainery)

America Axel Elvis Vegas Shelley Supplies
Math Ray’s Primary $0 Ray’s Primary $0 Strayer-Upton Book 1 $14 Harold Jacobs Geometry $53 Geometry Solutions Manual $35 Scientific Calculator $16
Books 2 & 3 $29
Science BFSU Vol. II $35 BFSU Vol. II $35 BFSU Vol. III $29
Biology II $0
Grammar Reading: McGuffey $0 Harvey’s Elementary Grammar {pdf} $0 Harvey’s Revised Grammar $20 Harvey’s Elementary Key $10
Language Lessons, Evans $0 Elements of English Grammar, Evans {pdf} $0 Harvey’s Revised Key $6
A New English Grammar, Harvey {pdf} $0
Language Arts Get Ready for the Code $4 Get Set/Go for the Code $13 Explode the Code 6-8 $15 Magnetic boards $10
All about Spelling $15 All about Spelling 1 $30 All about Spelling interactive Kit $23
History Story of the world 3 $10 Story of the world 3 $10 Story of the world 3 $10
Great Courses Western Civ $50
Language N/A N/A Latin’s Not So Tough 2 $20 Wheelock’s Latin & workbook $24 Latin’s Not So Tough CD $5
French 1
Art Art Camp Art Camp Art Camp Rendering in Pen and Ink $16
100 flashcards 100 Flashcards Kahn Academy Art History
100 flashcards
Music Elementary Music Elementary Music Elementary Music
Drums with Elvis Piano Violin Orchestra
Violin Drums w/Nick $50/mo PYCO $765
PYP Class Private Lessons Sketchbooks $25/each
Other Elementary Education Elementary Education Leuchtturm Notebooks $20/each
copy paper $20
Home Skills Home Skills $30 for all 3 Home Skills Home Skills
pencils/pens $45
Handwriting Magna-doodle 3-5 Handwriting Guide 3-5 Handwriting Guide Spencerian Penmanship Penmanship copybooks $15
Total:$4 Total: $95 Total: $ 110 + $50/mo Total: $190 + PYCO fees Total: $ 55 Total: $ 175 Total for All: $735(less music classes and fees)

Here are the books and supplies we need to purchase, in list form, for each student.

Meri:

Get Ready for the Code $4 {phonics and letter formation}

Axel:

BFSU Vol. II $35 {also used by Elvis}

Reading: BOB $10-$30

Get Set/Go for the Code $13 {phonics and reading}

All about Spelling $15

Story of the world 3 $10 {also used by Elvis}

Elvis:

Strayer-Upton Book 1 $14

Books 2 & 3 $29 {depending on how fast they go}

Harvey’s Elementary Grammar  The PDF is $0, Book is about $10

Explode the Code 6-8 $15 {phonics and vocabulary}

All about Spelling 1 $30

Latin’s Not So Tough 2 $20

Vegas:

Harold Jacobs geometry $53

BFSU Vol. III $29

Harvey’s Revised Grammar $20

Great Courses Western Civ $50

Wheelock’s Latin & workbook $24

Rendering in Pen and Ink $16

Shelley {teacher’s manuals}:

Geometry Solutions Manual $35

Harvey’s Elementary Key $10

Harvey’s Revised Key $6

Supplies and materials:

Scientific Calculator $16

Magnetic boards $10

All about Spelling interactive Kit $23

Latin’s Not So Tough CD $5

Sketchbooks $25/each {X4}

Leuchtturm Notebooks $20/each {X2}

copy paper $20

pencils/pens $45

Penmanship copybooks $15

*If additional books or supplies are needed, I will amend this spreadsheet, and write a new post.

Having some Steven Smith tea, Shelley

Farm Day



axel_treeOne of the things we are ‘studying’ this year, is Home Skills, and one of those Home Skills is gardening.

I remember being given a little area of the yard that was my very own when I was in about third grade. We went to the nursery, and after very carefully picking out some hot pink fuzzy looking flowers, I took them home and set about planting them. Over that summer they wilted and died, under my forgetful care, but I will never forget how much fun it was to have my own outdoor space. It also instilled a love for working in the yard in me at a young age, a little ownership goes a long way.

Our backyard is the perfect place for each of our kids to have their own space, but it will require some elbow grease. Enter Farm Day.

This book, and the photos of edible estate projects always gets me excited to start working on my yard!
edible-estates-lead0151b99c56fb04d62de20019b0._w.540_s.fit_51b99c4c74c5b6622e001864._w.540_s.fit_{all via apartment therapy}


During the summer, the backyard gets full sun. During the winter, it gets no sun. So, from fall to spring, it is a gigantic mud pit that grows mushrooms. This is not the most inviting type of place to play or work.  While the sun was still shining back there, we began our plan by planting a row of raspberries, which Elvis has been wanting for years. And while we were working, we started talking about all the different ways we could use our backyard. The kids were all very enthusiastic about having some garden space, and a fort, and room to run….so a small shred of a ‘map’ began to form. In the back of my mind was always ‘but what about the MUD?’ and, ‘but it’s so horrible and cold all winter!’. farm_day_lia_vegas

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{via Farm Fresh To You} I imagine a yard like this…but we have a long way to go! Maybe if we read this book:TheQuarterAcreFarm_web

{also via Farm Fresh To You}

{on a side note, in the age of internet domination, I am still thankful for the abounding resources that I would have never been able to get my hands on, even 10 years ago. We have access to never ending gardening tips, plans, ideas, inspiring stories and pictures….as long as we don’t get lost online, and get outside!}

Then we talked about having chickens. Boy was there a resounding “YES!!!” to that suggestion. So we made a deal. I would grant their chicken wishes, if they would help me prep the farm all winter. They totally agreed, and here we are. farm_day_chip_pile

After months of waiting for Chip Drop, we ended up getting a full load of wood chips from craigslist, for free. The load contained about half long pine needles, and half chips, but I am not even close to complaining, because it smells like a christmas tree farm in my yard right now. All the cousins came over and we spent a full day carting loads of chips to all the muddy areas of the yard. We put them under the swings, and on the paths…the backyard is in need of a complete overhaul anyway, so anything we didn’t love, got covered in wood chips. I am hoping this puts a damper on the mud carnage that usually occurs during fall….and winter….and spring.

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Farm day was a success, we had cocoa, hot cider, pizza, sore backs, and a ton of fun.

Hoping we keep working all winter! Looking forward to chickens in the spring!

Planning an aquaponics project,

Shelley

On the Move

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{on the move is one of our favorite records to listen to while working….}

Things are beginning to take shape around here, due largely to the generous support of the go fund me page we set up. In addition, my wonderful family in Seattle brought us grocery bags filled with things like notebook paper, and legos…teaching tools, pencils, and sketchbooks. We took our yearly summer ‘sort of stay-cation’ to Seattle last weekend, and it was fantastic.

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Vegas was the only one to ever have ridden a ferry across Puget Sound before, {still, it was several years ago!} so right off the bat, we picked up my mom and headed west on the Tillamook towards Southworth. I managed a quick Craigslist stop in Port Orchard, and we drove north to Kingston and took the Walla Walla back to Edmonds.

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{BTW~ that lady in the background was cracking us up! I was afraid she would get blown away!}

The weather was beautiful, the wind didn’t bite at our ears too much, and the vending machines were grossly overpriced! Yikes! $2.50 for a little bag of Sour Patch Kids, I felt like I might as well be going to the movies!

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Later that night, some of us actually did go to the movies, and I am still processing what I think of the new Mad Max. Mostly, I feel like there were not nearly enough leather jackets, or awesome outfits.

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Back on track.

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Our trip also included a visit to the Burke Museum, Dick’s fries, Pagliacci Pizza, the most amazing gyro/gyro plate EVER from Mr. Gyro’s {if you haven’t been, go! It is amazing. Greenwood & 85th},Pike Place Market, The University Book Store, Byrnie Utz Hats,  Carkeek Park, thrift stores, hair appointments, the Fremont Troll, and an epic rainstorm.

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We packed our car full of art supplies, books, binders, ideas, and memories. I came home with a much more specific book list, and began ordering curriculum today. In the mail {for Vegas} already, is Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra, which is an exciting step off the beaten path for us, we’ve been sticking to the tried and true Saxon math for the last few years, but I am excited for this text. Also, {for Vegas} Windows to the World, which is a literary analysis course…right up his alley. In the next order I will have the math and language arts books for Elvis and Axel, as well as magna doodles for Axel and America to practice Handwriting.

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Soon after that order, will come the order with all the knives, ropes, knot tying books, field guides and nature handbooks.  {that will be the hardest to keep simple!}

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Vegas starts Orchestra at the local middle school this Friday, which is completely crazy to me, but I think it will be fun!

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School will start for us on the 15th, even though I am sure some of the books won’t be here yet. It will be a soft start, so to speak, getting the routine down, figuring out how to get Vegas to orchestra and back, etc.

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On the back burner, I am considering joining the Wild Explorer’s club, {or starting my own club, just for the merit badges}. Anyone know where to get patches made?

Trying to eek every inch out of my tiny office area, Shelley 









The Beginning of the End

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So, while Portland Public schools are having their last day assemblies, and awards are being given, we are packing*. The end of the school calendar year is here, but we are not finished with our books. This winter and spring has been a string of breaks, interruptions, trips, and life changes that have pushed back our classwork into the summer. I am not worried about it at all, because honestly, it’s good to have things to do during the summer, and I think I am moving more towards a year round school model anyway.

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The big goals will be completing math, language arts, science, and history. Elvis is nearly done with math, finished with science {so he has taken on a few extra books, you know, just for fun}, and since I didn’t like his language arts book at all this year, I am just starting over next year. History we will all do together in July and August, since it is just reading. I imagine us on a blanket, out in our big backyard, with snacks and sketchbooks, reading about the civil war. I’ll let you know if that actually happens.

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Vegas has about half his math still to do, {debate took away like his whole school year}, and we cut his language arts book in half, so he’s done with that, other than quizzes and tests. He is also only one chapter away from finishing his science book.

All in all, I think we are in good shape to finish up by the end of August, take a couple of weeks off to travel, and then hit the books all over again in September.

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The boys both had testing done this year, anticipating the required testing that happens next year at the end of 3rd and 8th grade. I thought it would be a good idea to see where they were at now. They both scored well, Elvis did better than I thought he would, given that it was his first testing experience, ever. They were both happy with how it went, which was great! I don’t care too much for standardized testing, but it is a good skill to have, and good to follow the system that is in place, the same system that gives us so much freedom to learn how we see fit.

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Vegas and Elvis also had their end of the year PYP {Portland Youth Philharmonic} recitals. Elvis was the youngest in his class, and much of the material was beyond him, but I am so proud of the way he stuck with it. At the performance, there were times that he got lost, but he listened to the other percussionists, and jumped back in, playing his parts very well, and maintaining a great stage presence. Elvis is also taking private drum lessons, and he moved on to the second book of exercises, and is working on some new hi-hat skills. It has been a joy to see him go from where he was at the beginning of the year, not knowing anything, to now. He is definitely a drummer. He had the chance to play some street bucket drums, and we realized that a bucket drum set is a necessity! It uses different rhythms, and skills. But, it’s pretty cool! Elvis has wanted to perform on the street for a while, so this was a big deal for him.

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Vegas did an amazing job at his recital too- he has grown leaps and bounds as a musician this year, and I think double bass suits him! We love hearing him practice. He was also the best dressed at the recital, by far. He will take a few private lessons over the summer, and then next year he plans to attend Floyd Light Middle school for orchestra, with his cousin Lia, so he will have the experience of playing in a big group. While I am a little nervous about it, I am very excited too.

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*This month we are moving, so packing is in full swing. Everything is getting boxed up, and nobody can find anything. Hopefully by this time in July, we will be all settled in our new old house, {we are moving back across town to our first Portland house, a little 50’s ranch}, unpacking and setting up our new schoolroom.

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Next week the kids take a week of swim lessons, to determine which class they should be in, and then hopefully we can get them all into regular lessons. Later in the summer, Vegas and Elvis will start fencing. Vegas has fenced before, and loves it, but it will be the first time for Elvis. Fencing is one of the Harmon Academy’s official sports. Archery and swimming are the others…so far. I would like to add horseback riding, but that can be a little expensive.

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Elvis is also attending summer camp for the first time ever this year, as well as a week-long day camp with Oregon Children’s Theater, learning the basics of stage acting. As I am writing this, I am realizing how incredibly packed the summer is, and we haven’t even thought about getting together with anyone, or getting out-of-town! Not to mention, I need to plan the next school year!

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I will keep you posted on our late work progress, camps, and lessons as they happen.

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Finishing up another Nature Exchange,

Shelley

It’s Not Even November

Boy howdy. When I wrote out my class syllabuses in August, I had no idea how much I would depend on them, and so quickly! At the end of September I checked in with the books to see how we were keeping up and discovered that we were halfway through November’s science lessons, but behind on a few smaller things…like Rules of Civility.

I guess we are training uncivilized scientists.

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To compensate, I made some adjustments to our schedule, {cough, cough} and added more subjects, activities, and household responsibilities. The result? We were drowning in busywork at the midpoint of October, behind in Language Arts, and still, somehow nearly done with December’s allotted science chapters. What was going on? I realized that checking in with the books needed to be much more frequent, like every week.

Columbus Day was the perfect excuse for a ‘teacher in-service’ day, and I spent the afternoon industriously writing out two weeks of lesson plans that looked like a psych ward journal.

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We ended up with too much bread in the slicer. {He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works. The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing machines. And sometimes the slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not always as a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it. ~The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time}

We couldn’t keep up.

Back to the drawing board. I revisited the syllabuses yet again, and found that we didn’t actually have to finish out the entire school year by December 31st. How did I miss this the first time? Contrary to what the psych ward lesson plan said, there was room to slow down. We could take more time with supplementing lessons, absorb more, invite friends over, take longer lunches, play, have recess, take walks, and most likely sleep better.

I amended the lesson plan. The new schedule has us finished with October’s work by {gasp!} the end of October. With a sigh of relief, the burden was lifted.

{The load is still a tad heavy, we are reading The Jungle, after all.}

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The best part of the week was our ‘Gratefulness Tree’. It is sort of silly, but each leaf has been a fun reminder of all we have to be grateful for, and a challenge to show appreciation for them. Now this is education, am I right? Construction paper and scotch tape?

Writing up a short list of work for tomorrow, Shelley

Looking Back on September

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I simply cannot believe how fast the first four weeks of school have tumbled by. There were times when it seemed that we had all grabbed a moving train with one arm and were dangling behind, hoping just to stay alive. Many of our days have been splendid, full of talking about new ideas, learning about the past, and combining the two in impromptu songs. I have never worked harder at planning out curriculum, and although I have spent a hefty number of late night hours scrambling for the next morning, this is by far my favorite school year ever.

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For so long I have been saying, ‘I am not a teacher’, as if that gets me off the hook for doing a good job. Truly, who am I kidding? Teaching is simply imparting knowledge, helping others learn, sharing what I know. By choosing to educate my kids at home, there’s no escape from the responsibilities that go along with that. Every day, The Harmon Academy is like a full time job, on top of a full time job, on top of a full time job.

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I finally have a proper Inbox!

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Some of you may be wondering what we actually did in September.

Here is a brief description of our days. We have a morning Bible class that has been quite fun, we are studying Genesis, as well as a Baptist Catechism. It has been great to talk through some of the basic doctrines that we often assume everyone knows about, or understands. We just finished question 15, dealing with God’s providence. Tim gave me a little book on prayer by John C. Ryle last year for Christmas, and we read through chapter one, a couple paragraphs per week over the course of the month. Chapter one talked about how prayer alone can not save you, but you cannot know God or be saved without it. Interesting stuff to discuss with a 7 and 12 year old! We have also learned a little bit about several countries all over the globe, using the Operation World calendar. So, bible/theology with some social studies on top. That is how we start the day.

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Next up is Math, and there’s not much to say about Algebra 1 or Math 2, other than things are plugging along fairly well. This is the first year I have totally depended on the teachers manuals for Vegas’s work. I would be completely lost without them, particularly in Algebra and Grammar. Wow. I am thankful for Amazon.

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Right around 9:45 we begin History, and this year the boys are both using the same book. We are studying US history.  This book is pretty great because it interjects world history and events in each unit, giving some context for what was happening all over, not just in New England. We just made it to the point where Elizabeth I beheads her cousin Mary, Pope Gregory XIII finally figures out leap year, and the Roanoke settlement becomes the first X File.

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In an effort to raise gentlemen {well mannered, considerate, hard working, intelligent}, we have been reading George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation along with our history lessons. The language George used is a little different than what we are accustomed to these days, so we spend some time putting each rule into simpler terms. My favorite so far? ‘Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out your chamber half dressed.’…… translated: ‘Get dressed every day.’ I think we will end up with some sort of George Washington award that will be given out at the end of the year. In the mean time, we can expertly point out ‘uncivilized’ behavior in each other.

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Science has proven to be equally interesting this year, with the aid of Amy Stewarts Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs books. Entomology and Botany were never quite as gross…or fun. Today we learned that Bolivia has adopted a pro-coca government, advocating feeding schoolchildren coca leaves instead of milk since they are very high in calcium. Obviously, the first thing we will do tomorrow is make a ‘Got Coca?’ poster. Seriously, we have actual textbooks too. Vegas is in an 8th grade book Matter & Motion, covering everything from Astronomy to Physics, and Elvis is alternating between an Astronomy book and a Nature Reader that I absolutely love, Seaside and Wayside. September was mostly about Mr. and Mrs. Crab for Elvis, and now we are on to the Sun. In October we will take a field trip to an observatory near us to take a closer look at space. The boys have spent quite a bit of time harnessing the Sun’s power right in our own backyard, burning legos, leaves, twigs, straws and even their own fingers with a magnifying glass. {don’t worry Hannah, we had a bucket of water right next to them, and no one was injured!}

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Every month I am aiming for the boys to each read one challenging book and do some sort of report, literary analysis, project or essay on it. Vegas read The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm by Nancy Farmer in September, and is finishing up his essay this week. Next month we are taking it up a few notches by reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. After that we will be eating only vegetables. Elvis read The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman, and really enjoyed the story. He hasn’t done book reports before, so we broke his up into parts and worked on it bit by bit. He has already started My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett for his October reading.

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Both boys are doing great in their spelling, Elvis is learning some basic rules, and Vegas is plowing through a GRE vocabulary list.

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We started working on French {again}, but this time, I swear, we will gain some momentum! We have Teresa, and friends who speak French on our street, so help is available if we need it. Elvis is mostly just learning to speak simple phrases, we won’t get into spelling or reading until he can actually spell and read English without any difficulty. Vegas is doing well, and it has been  fun to hear them work on words together.

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Our musical endeavors are changing this year, Elvis is taking drum lessons as well as an orchestral percussion class taught by the Portland Youth Philharmonic. He is super excited! Vegas is taking an upright bass class also taught by the Portland Youth Philharmonic. We now have a rent-to-own double bass, which is GIGANTIC. We are all looking forward to hearing big deep notes emanating from Vegas’s room! Violin has not been abandoned, although we are taking a little detour to see what happens with these new instruments!

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Part of our school year will be spent on ‘Domestic Economy and Manual Competency’, learning how to make things, fix things, and have necessary skills. {I always spell that ‘skillz’, but the spellcheck hates it.} Elvis has just flown through his sampler stitches, and is currently mastering the chain stitch. America colored her sampler first, then told me what to stitch on it, and finally today she started using a needle and thread herself. She figured it out much quicker than I expected her to at two years old!

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Later on we will include a little woodshop, a little plumbing, some electronics, and programming in our schedule. {because replacing a hard drive is definitely on the #necessaryskills list!}

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Visual Arts is pretty simple this year, we are learning elements of design and basic principles of art. In addition, we learning about an individual artist each month, studying techniques, themes and learning about their lives. So far, Elvis has studied Paul Cezanne, and Vegas has studied Berthe Morisot.

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There have never been less hours in the day.

We are not bored.

Reading up on Bedbugs, Shelley

The First Day

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We survived the first day. Everyone was dressed, ate breakfast, and at their desks before the first bell rang. That’s right, people, we have bells. It sort of started on a whim, a silly idea to make the day more like a school day, and now I can’t do without them. They keep us moving forward, and keep us motivated to get classes done on time. There are breaks, but they no longer take 37.5 minutes each. For the most part, all of the boys schoolwork is finished before the last bell rings. My only regret is that there is no physical bell that rings, its just my phone. {science project? Yes!}

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Vegas’s desk system works beautifully, both he and Elvis have space to spread out, plus there  is room for me, and the occasional guest. It is amazing to me how much we use this room now, where for the first year and a half we just sort of ignored it.

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At 3:00, when the bell rang for free time, we were all excited. I was exhausted. I don’t remember ever feeling so wiped out after a day of school before, and the thought of 179 more days seemed horribly overwhelming. By Friday night I was a hot mess, and nobody dared to talk to me.  The weekend worked wonders, being able to catch up on sleep, having some space and time to myself was very helpful when facing Monday morning.

The good news? The kids did better than I did. They still do. The bad news? I have so much to learn, which I suppose is good news too. At least I have a brain that works, and a schoolroom to use it in!

Planning my teacher uniform, Shelley