Wednesday, May 31, 2017

last day of school 2016/2017

 We sort of officially but not really ended school on Thursday May 11, 2017. Ha! Evie genuinely did finish on the 11th. Samuel was actually done the previous week. Noah still has Math and Latin to finish. Also I have some reading that I want to get through this summer. But I took photos of the kids that day! :D

So...we're never really done but for all intents and purposes, May 11 was the day I put most of the books away. 

Our school room never looked like this due to piles of books and coloring supplies and toys and dog chew toys and junk but after I put everything away, it looks pretty nice.

The first day of this school year began August 22, 2016. Evie went 36 weeks, Samuel 35, and Noah of course is still going. We take less breaks than the public system because we also take Fridays off since that's Terry's day off, but we get all our stuff done.

We covered the ancients history time period this year. All together during breakfast we listened to Classical Conversations facts covering history, science, grammar, latin, math, geography, and english. Now, we don't memorize these facts like some students do, which is just incredible. We just cover them briefly and that's good enough for me. Next we read one or two history cards. 

Next we would read an ancient book all together. First we covered Greek Myths, then The Illiad, and finally The Odyssey. We started reading More Than a Carpenter at the end of the year but I ran out of steam.

Noah and Evie would get up at 730am and do their math prior even to breakfast. After eating and our various reading all together, we would descend to the school room and begin everything else that was found in these binders. Samuel's is top left, then Evie's, and finally Noah's is the biggest on the bottom. Anything they read they had to write about and place inside, as well as Spelling and Grammar sheets.

Last day of school for Noah! He is finishing 6th grade and turned 12 on April 19. Whoa. He's a smart, hard working boy, who is a perfectionist to the core. Unfortunately he gets a double dose from his two eldest born parents who need to learn to ease up. I have had a very difficult year of being a homeschool mom and have felt daily like a huge failure, like I'm doing more harm than good, that I should just give up, that I'm the worst mom out there, that God will not save my kids, that He's out to get me, etc. Clearly, these are all lies but I fall for them regularly. It was good to go over everything we've accomplished this year and see that hopefully, it was not all in vain. Still I cry out daily for the Lord to redeem my innumerable mistakes. I'm not being modest here. I am such a failure at parenting! My kids are beyond gracious though. Just yesterdag, while I was going about lunch I always do, making their ordinary meals, Evie and Noah were both randomly saying how much they loved me and what a great mom I am. Seriously guys? I mess up so much! What about when I am mean and a bad mommy? To myself I thought about the bad behaviors they have that are a large part my fault. Their poor reactions are my poor reactions. My snappiness, my zero patience, my ability to see only the faults and not the good things. But Noah said even when I mess up they forgive me and move on. Gah! They are so stinking sweet!!!

This was Noah's pile of books. 
1. Usborne Ancient History
2. Apologia Science: Astronomy and Flying Creatures
3. Critical Thinking
4. First Form Latin
5. Spelling Workout F and G
6. Math x 2: Zeta Decimals and Percents (review and finishing last year's) and Epsilon Fractions (nearly done with this now)
7. Classical Conversations Essentials grammar chart (Essentials of the English Language)
not pictured 8. Institute of Writing

Lots of Latin books. I did pretty bad at keeping up with him on this. Maybe next year...

This year Noah and I attended 24 weeks of Grammar, Writing, and Math review through Classical Conversations Essentials program for two hours nearly every Monday at First Assembly church. I did it to give Noah some classroom experience and see how I liked CC and their program. Overall it was a good experience and perhaps I'll have Evie do it in a couple years but for now, I'm good with staying home. CC is super intense and I'm not ready for that workload with four kids and a husband in the ministry. 

Here are a few photos of Noah's last day of Essentials class. Below he is reading his research paper (they always presented their papers).

A lot of families came to listen.

This is actually two Essentials classes and some are dressed up as the person from antiquity they presented. We combined second semester sometime. Originally he had only seven in his class. 

Below are Noah's Essentials books. The writing book on the left was beneficial for Noah since writing has always been difficult for him, as is speaking (he's stronger in Math). The notebook in the middle is the only one I have left since I borrowed the others from Faith, but it was for grammar. He learned a whole ton that I couldn't keep up with. That was good. The book on the right is all the papers he wrote this year.

This is the first page of Noah's final paper on Leonardo da Vinci. He had to use three or four sources, write a bibliography, and incorporate all the elements he's learned his year from a huge checklist, in addition to writing it from a specific formula Institute of Writing teaches. Not bad. Again, seeing this makes me feel better about the year.

Noah, Evie, and I read all of these ancient historical fiction books this year. I bought way too many and we didn't get through more than a third of them. These were very good though. Every day I would read a chapter (or two or three or four) and then Noah and Evie would do the same. Then they'd write a quick one or two sentence summary. When they'd finish a book I'd have them write a book report. I wasn't picky about any of it, I just wanted them to practice identifying the main points. Noah has really come a long way in doing that this year. 
An example of one of his book reports.

On to Evie. She finished third grade this year and turned nine on March 31. She is an all around good student. She excels where there are words and in fact, she says she wants to be an author (and a detective, and a hot chocolate maker). Math is a little harder for her. So she and Noah are opposites that way. 

My little squish with all her books. 
1. Prima Latina
2. First Language Lessons Grammar level 3
3. Spelling Workout E and F
4. Gamma Multiplication (review and completed from last year)
5. Delta Division (half way through but ahead so we stopped)

An excerpt from one of Evie's book reports.

Evie, Samuel and I read these books, except for the top history Middle Ages book which we will do this summer...hopefully.
1. Story of the World: Ancients
2. Science: Green Thumbs
3. Science: Human Body
4. Science: Animals

Samuel completed Kindergarden (sort of) and turned 6 on February 1. Samuel has had trouble with speech since he was old enough to talk. I knew last year, when he finished Speech Preschool that this year might be challenging. It started out just fine when we were just memorizing sounds and moved on to very small words. But it got progressively more difficult the more we added to the words. He'd forget words he already knew and wasn't able to blend sounds at all. I began to lose my cool (and my temper) after the new year. I had a very bad day sometime in February and decided to just stop. We took a week off and then went back to the beginning, working on one lesson per week. I also found a woman on a Facebook homeschool group looking to tutor someone Samuel's age with reading difficulties and perhaps dyslexia. I contacted her right away.
He's holding two Legos that he got from his tutor as a reward.

I wondered if it was the phonics program I was using below but it had worked so well for Evie. Maybe he just needed something different? What would help him?
1. The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - I liked this a lot with Evie.
2. Primer - we had it almost all the way through but need to do it again next year.
3. Bede's History of Me - We made it only a third of the way through. I may try again next year.

So from mid-February on we worked our way back through lesson 42. He did much better the second time maybe due in part to the white pack of cards we did every day - a review of every word he had learned. The colored cards are a part of a rhyme he learned for the alphabet letter names and sounds. He did excellent with memorizing - he proved this in Awana Sparks this year too, he got better and better as the year went on.

We had Samuel tested for dyslexia through another homeschool mom and he qualified for it. But before he could start this specific program called Barton, he had to do their sort of primer or preschool program, Foundation in Sounds. So we had Mrs. Smith come over twice a week beginning in March or thereabouts and she went through the 12 lessons with him. Samuel loved her, and for good reason. She was super peppy and happy and friendly and encouraging, plus, she brought him toys every week! It was great. My workload with Samuel was lessened at a time when I was not handling life well at all and he very much looked forward to his hour with her. 

They worked through this chart. 

She made us this adorable little booklet with all of his progress in it.  

Some pictures of Samuel in the front. 

Most of the lessons they went through. 

And a note all about Samuel. In the end, we both agreed that we didn't think Samuel had/has dyslexia. We could be wrong, but it doesn't seem to quite fit. I wonder if he just needs more time and maturity. We shall see next year. Hopefully he's more ready. I have heard from many people that boys especially are more ready to read at seven or even eight.  

Ezra completed a free-roaming hands off preschool this year (ha ha ha) and is turning four TODAY! Most days Ezra played by himself until Samuel was done with school and could join him. When it was nice out, he or the two of them would play outside for long periods of time.

Here are all the books we didn't read this year, for goodness sakes! I would like to read the history book on top this summer for sure and ideally many of these books. Already I need to get started... But for now, I am very, very much enjoying the break. Already I feel better!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

branding 2017

Terry took the day off on Tuesday May 9 and we all drove out to the ranch to brand Jerry's 53 calves. It had been two years since I last went and why I didn't attend last year I don't even know. It's always fun though.

When we got home Evie made this handy chart complete with labels to describe the branding process. We love it so much, it's hanging on our fridge and even Gramma and Grampa's too. :D And what's more is that it's totally accurate! Start on the right side and move your way left. 1) tub, 2) shoot, 3) cage, 4) calf table, 5) freedom.

It was colder than expected so we all had to borrow coats from Jerry and/or Alice. Ha!

Jerry's renter's kids, Carson and Sydney, helped again. And surprisingly, our kids were actually pretty decent help this year! Yay for growing up!

It's nice that Ezra is old enough to stay out of the way and can finally tolerate the noise of the generator (no crying, clinging, or covering ears).

Getting ready. Samuel had new boots on which were purchased for his upcoming first camp at Rainbow this summer. 

Here are the baby calves all separated and ready to go waiting in the the barn. The moms were in the next corral over bellering loudly away for them. It was quite a din.

First the kids (mostly Carson and a neighbor kid named Kyle) put some calves in the tub.

Next Evie and Sydney and Matt (a friend and youth leader from church we had brought along), pushed the calves down the shoot/line to the calf table where they were caught, turned on their sides, given three shots, and branded with the P/F for Poor Farm. 

Inside the table, while their fur and skin was being burned by a hot brand, they would beller, kick, poop, and flail around as much as they could before Jerry let them go. One calf in particular appeared to be lactose intolerant when he let loose a huge puddle of white poo. Ewwww. Jessica said it was better than last year when she got sprayed with milk when one of the momma's utters got compressed. HA!

Good job kiddies! 

Early on in our operation one of the calfs attempted to reach its mother in the neighboring corral by jumping through this water tank (it's actually an old hot tub that Jerry and his dad used to sell but Jerry decided to get some use out of it as a water tank!). The poor calf totally got stuck and then was jumping around like mad in there! We all made to run over, afraid it was going to to hurt itself.  

It got out though. Unscathed thankfully.

Ezra entertained himself by riding his Strider around when he was bored. 

When the calfs are born Jerry and Alice do one or two things to them, tag their ears and band the boys' "tenders." After one rambunctious calf was let out, Terry discovered his shriveled "rocky mountain oysters" had just been left behind. Ha ha ha ha ha!

Matt said it was "a once in a lifetime experience," meaning it was one he didn't need to have again. However, he was a great help! 

I thought this calf was pretty. Seriously though, they all looked so healthy, glossy in fact!

Close up of view of the operation. My job was write down the calf number and gender to make sure we had all of them.

Burning hair and flesh, 'aint no smell like it. Yuck. 

Evie, Matt, Samuel, Noah. 

Calves all done. 

Everything was just starting to green up and bud.  

I hiked up the hill above the corrals to take in the the full picture. 

Pile of calves waiting for their mama's who were getting their shots. 

Zooming back... 

Looking west - I love the views out there. 

Ezra was bored and I was unneeded so we went to visit Snap's grave

I hiked further up the hill (while my baby bellered behind me since I was "leaving him") because I thought this tractor with a tree growing out of it was cool. 

Ezra posing with a pile of petrified wood.

We went back to watch the rest of the cows be immunized and discovered they were waiting for Jerry to find some medicine for this cow. He initially thought it was pink eye, but Matt and I said No way (Matt is a doctor). Matt did some research and found that the likely culprit was "silage eye" as a result of her pushing her head into a pile of hay to eat and getting poked. Pretty gross right? Jerry said it's mostly healed now though.

Vaccinating the cows went very quickly. 

The last few cows in the tub. 

Mothers and babies reunited. 

We all headed in for lunch and afterwards the guys help Jerry carry his repaired roller coaster engine back to it's place. It had been broken last year after he ran too much weight through during a family reunion weekend (something we did again on May 28 of this last weekend) and it worked perfectly. Next all that was left was to go home and wash the smell of burnt hair off of us.