Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First AHG Meeting of the Year

Last week we had our first co-op of the year and our first AHG meeting. I forgot to take my camera to co-op but I did snap a few of our girls before the AHG meeting.

Here is Sissy all proud of her Pioneer Sash. She'll use the same sash for her remaining 6 years in AHG. Notice her Lewis and Clark Award? That is the red and gold one - she worked very hard for that last year.

Peanut is an Explorer this year. She earned several badges as a Tenderheart, she did not receive them until the year end ceremony and since she has moved to a new level this year, she will not wear them on a vest. She starts all over this year :)

Here is Sweet Baby showing off all the badges she earned last year (there is one more hiding on the other side). She will remain a Tenderheart this year and next.

And, here is a shot of the three of them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pioneer Camping with American Heritage Girls

Another year has begun with American Heritage Girls (AHG). This year I am no longer the coordinator of the group, rather I'm happily the Pioneer leader. This group of girls are 12-14 years old and is comprised of most of our Explorer group from last year. To start our year off we went on our first REAL camping trip. When I say real, I mean that we were not sleeping in dorms like we did at the AHG camporee in May, rather we pitched tents and did not get to take showers!

Our family has owned a tent for a couple years, when my husband and I thought we "might" want to tent camp some day (somewhere other than our backyard). Sissy and I loaded up the van and headed out to D-Bar-A Scout Camp, about 45 minutes from our home. It was a beautiful camp. This is a horse ranch and local Boy Scout camp. We had planned on doing a horse trail ride and boulder wall climbing - imagine our disappointment when we arrived and were told that neither activity was available to us. That is a whole different story that we won't get into. Either way, we encouraged the girls that we were bound to have a great time. Considering that the temperature at night was to get below 40 degrees, the 3 adults were trying to convince themselves of the same thing!

We arrived at camp around 6:30 with 5 twelve year olds and three adults. The setting sun was all the encouragement that we needed to get the tents set up. Sissy and her friend did an excellent job getting the "mom" tent up and ready for us while the other 3 girls worked on the "girls" tent.

It just so happened that my dear friend (who only has boys) is helping with AHG this year and was excited to join us on our camp out. In addition, her sons and husband were camping in the same camp with their Boy Scout troop. We had arranged that some of the boys would come over to our site and walk through the Fire Safety and Building badge with the girls. They were able to finish nearly all of the badge requirements!

The next day the girls delighted in gathering wood. How funny and how "girl" that they should decide to organize their wood into appropriate piles! Keep in mind not only are we talking "girls" but we are also talking about the fact that all of the girls are first born!

The next morning the girls cooked our breakfast on a grill. We had wanted them to do it over an open fire, but the fire pit was SO deep and wide that we didn't have a grate large enough to go over it! They made a yummy bacon, eggs and hashbrown casserole and then washed dishes. many 12 year olds does it take to wash a few dishes anyway????

For Saturday we had a friend (and elder) from our church come out to the camp and talk to the girls about reading topographical maps. He made this amazing 3-d model for the girls so they could "see" it all play out. Really cool.

My husband also joined us on Saturday as he lead the girls through a hike. We discussed several requirements for the Hiking badge and enjoyed a LOVELY hike (about 1.6 miles).

While they were on the hike, the girls looked for hiking sticks. Our visitor from church brought his drill, some twine and beads and a knife so he could help the girls make hiking sticks! How cool!

After our hike the girls headed to the Riflery Range to shoot 4 rounds of 22's. (This means nothing to me, I'm just repeating what I heard the instructor tell the girls!)

My husband had to bring our younger girls with him. Peanut decided to stay back at camp with 2 adults, but Sweet Baby wanted to watch.

Finally a shot of Sissy helping get the campfire started (that is her behind the smoke, in the blue). I love this picture because even I have not successfully started a campfire! She did a great job and learned alot on this campout.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another Family Day

We had a busy day today. The day started with us heading to my husband's place of employment. Once a year his company, Nexteer (formerly Delphi) hosts Family Day. It is the biggest family picnic we've ever attended. Lunch is provided as are carnival rides, face painting, and cotton candy.

Both Peanut and Sweet Baby have never been very brave when it comes to carnival rides, but this year they both decided to try the swings and enjoyed them. Here Peanut is as we are waiting to lift off.

While there, they were giving away free balloons and it reminded me of one year in elementary school when our class each wrote notes and attached them to helium filled balloons. We let the balloons go and waited to see if someone would find them and write back to us. We were tracking how far the balloons traveled. I mentioned that to the girls and Sweet Baby asked if we could do that when we got home. So, her and I sat down and wrote her note. She thought she was supposed to write on the balloon itself, she did not understand the directions at first. It was so cute to see her balloon read, "God love you, if you get this, write me back."

Here she is, getting ready for the launch.

And, watching it go..Isn't that a beautiful sky?

After the launch the family sat down to can pears together as we listened to some Adventures in Odyssey. We got LOTS of pears from my father in law's small orchard - as well as apples. We will do applesauce next week, more pears and peaches when they become ripe. We have a couple pear trees, an apple tree and peach tree in our backyard. The whole idea of canning is not my idea. We never canned anything when I was growing up, but my husband's family did canning. Canning is something we have done the last few years. We usually do applesauce and pears. We have done pickles before and this year are doing our first few batches of green beans. I enjoy doing this with our girls because I truly feel this is a lost art. I was thinking of the fact that not to long ago, families did this every year, on a much bigger scale than we are - even though we did 20 quarts of pears and will more than likely do 20 more before we are done!

If nothing else, it just provides more opportunities for us to hang out together as a family.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Place of Anxiety for This Homeschooling Mom

Sigh...this post is a post of rambling, that maybe many of you will not be interested in, but I had to get it out.

As much as I know that homeschooling is the best decision for my kids on many levels, I stress constantly about how much I am giving them academically. I know that we are doing alot...but in previous years I have worried if we are doing enough. This year I feel like I'm expecting to much. ACKKK! How on earth do we know what the "right" amount is?

I have a 7th grader who struggles with anything English related. Writing, spelling, vocabulary, etc. I did have all the girls tested this summer by a teacher friend. I just wondered where they fell with their reading. Unfortunately this friend's test only went up to the 5th grade. Sissy took the test and my friend determined that she was probably only a little bit behind 7th grade. But not even a full grade. So, I push Sissy to read books that are "at her grade level" and it drives me nuts when she is constantly found choosing books at the library that are of a 4th or 5th grade reading level. One reason her reading ability concerns me so much is for things like her science this year. She is doing this independently and so far has not gotten any of her questions right. I know this is a whole new ball game - she is older and now has to be thinking differently.

My 4th grader has always excelled at all things English, but the last two years she has struggled with her writing. It hasn't seemed like her writing has progressed much in the last 2 years. Run on sentences abound, capital letters are missing (or present when they shouldn't be), details are hard to get from her, and all of this is not for lack of trying.

Now, for my 2nd grader, things are MARVELOUS this year. Yes, I know we are only on week 3, but the improvement I see is amazing. However, she still complains that she does not want to write anything. She wants to do everything orally because it "makes her hand hurt".

Of course, if they struggle with something my thought it - practice, practice, practice right? But then here I sit feeling like I'm expecting to much. SIGH...this journey is a delightful one but the stress as we trudge on is sometimes very overwhelming. If you know a homeschooling family, please pray for them. Pray that mom is always aware that she is doing God's work and that "it will all be ok", please pray that the kids recognize their responsibilities and most importantly that God is always present in the decision making.

Disclaimer: I know that this is the life I chose. I am not complaining at all, just sharing the struggles of my heart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Plant Science, Delayed Life Skills and It's On Its Way

Today the little girls were learning about cells. Last year when we discussed human cells, we made a model of a cell and most of its parts. That model was made from jello and various candies. This year as we are learning about plants, we discussed that there are some things that a plant cell contains that a human cell does not. Rather than do the jello model again this year, God's Design for Science had us create a paper model of a plant cell.

Keep in mind that Sissy attended public school from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. When it was time to send her off to school, I made very sure that she knew how to tie her shoes. After all, come winter, she would need to wear boots to school and change her shoes at school. We worked hard and she got it. Peanut attended Kindergarten in public school and so she needed to learn as well. Now, Sweet Baby has been different. She has been different in ALOT of ways. She has never been forced to learn anything. She does it all when SHE wants to. Well, in addition to not NEEDING to learn how to tie her shoes for boot/shoe changing in a public school setting, she has not really wanted to learn. However, her dad and I have determined something....this is the year Sweet Baby, you are going to learn how to tie your shoes. She's 7 now, it is time. Here she is practicing using an Usborne book. I especially love this page as I usually sit in front of her as I tie one shoe, and she mimicks on the other one. It is slow going, but I'm just sure this will be the year!

So...what is on its way you ask? FALL! Fall is nearly here! I'm excited because it is my favorite time of the year. Yes, I know, "Don't you know what comes after fall?" I know, but the joy I get out of the season of fall far outweighs how I feel in March when the snow is still falling. I love how fall in Michigan smells, looks (oooh, all the colors!) and feels. That need to throw on a sweatshirt

This picture confirms the fact that fall is on the way. We have a maple tree right outside our front window whose leaves turn a beautiful, bright red and this is what I noticed today...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Science For A Big Kid

Sissy is in the 7th grade now...sigh...

Last year I started giving Sissy more independent work and encouraging her to read through things and try to figure them out on her own. This was difficult for me because she seems to struggle with pronouncing some words as well as understanding what they mean. I did not want to make school MORE of a difficult process for her. She seemed to do well. I still read history and science to her as I was already doing it for the younger girls, but she was in charge of the rest of her work and I had her read some chapter books that I thought she would struggle with, but she did fine.

This year I am giving her a print out each week of what I would like her to do by the end of the week - except for history. We still do this as a group. She has been VERY responsible about it and will even work ahead a day or so on some subjects.

This year she is doing Apologia General Science which is intended to be for a 7th grader. The book looks like a college textbook and honestly I expected to hear some whining about how hard it is, but so far so good.

Yesterday she did her first experiment, which she is supposed to do on her own and then write a lab report about what she did and what she learned. This is much more reading, thinking and then writing (her most difficult subject) than she has done and she is just plugging along. This year she will be taking a class at our co-op in which she will do all the experiments in the class that correspond with the reading. We do not start co-op until September 20 so I wanted to her to do one or two experiments with me at home and work on writing a lab report so we could talk about it. She did a great job.

It is hard for me to see her growing up. She is such a wonderful kid. I genuinely love spending time with her, talking with her, sharing with her. She is responsible, motivated (with most things), caring, focused on God - and I know most of this is due to the fact that she is growing up. However, I find myself preparing for the fact that she is really only going to be a "kid" for 5 more years. Sigh....