Friday, May 22, 2015

Not Quite There Yet

This has been a slower academic week, since we are closing up the official school year. We do actually have one week left of our scheduled year, but it too will be pretty slow. I know, I know, Memorial Day is this weekend, but it's REALLY early this year and we go through the end of May, not through Memorial Day. In actuality, we school year round, but next week will finish up our full days of school.

Amber officially finished medieval history this week by completing the last writing assignments. It took me days to convince her to write the last few articles for her newspaper.  She loved this period in history so much that she didn't want it to end, and thus put off the last assignment.  Her consolation is our summer explorers study that goes through much of the same time period.

Writing kept going as usual, along with Greek and Latin morphemes. One morphemes curriculum is almost complete while another is still in the early stages. German has one chapter left before the end of this book, but Amber will go right into the next level. I was fairly unmotivated this week, but at least did get our new German books ordered and they arrived only two days later.  I'm ready for the next level when Amber is.

A year's worth of history writing

The last teen group event that I was involved with as a planner was also this week.  We had a fun afternoon of mini golf with a few teens from the homeschool group. The turnout was fairly low and heavy on girls.  Still, the teens had a good time in lovely sunny, yet cool, weather that resulted in a sunburn for Amber and me. Yes, I did a total parent fail on the sunblock and my sister has already chastised me.  Amber's very mild burn converted to a tan in about a day. I'm such a pale skinned person that I burned much worse than Amber.  Actually, it took a couple of hours for the burn to appear, during which time I felt much sicker than normal from sun exposure. This is how it always happens since the sun and I don't get along well at all.  In the end, my scalp, chest, arms and hands were red and radiating heat for several days. The worst spots are still red today, while others are a nice pink.

Despite lacking motivation, I did bake several times over the week for food to put in the freezer. Amber and I will be taking a lot of food with us to Minnesota in June. We'd like to take enough food so we don't have to worry about finding safe restaurants for every single meal, especially breakfast when we will be in a hurry to get to appointments each day. However, it turns out our hotel's restaurant is only open for breakfast, although there is another nearby restaurant that provides evening room service. I seriously considered finding a new hotel, but Amber baulked at the change. She wants to feel comfortable and we are currently booked in one of our usual Hilton brands. Besides, who says another hotel restaurant will have safe food for Amber. It's a serious challenge to feed her away from home. If only they had a Texas Roadhouse closer to Mayo in Rochester.

(Left) Writing - and crying because the IEW lesson was so funny.
(Right) Hiding during her German lesson. Don't ask, she was too silly.  And her smash book.

Thursday was my 43rd birthday, making me a little too far on the other side of 40.  Amber was so sweet the entire day and wanted to be sure I had the best possible birthday.  We met my mom for lunch on the historic Main Street of St. Charles, then since the weather was so perfect we walked around Main Street a little.  We all love to look in the different shops, but some of our favorites were gone this time. Amber was visibly tired by the end of lunch, but insisted she was fine and wanted to keep going. She was desperate for me to have a fun day and not be hindered by her illness. When we'd finally walked enough that Amber felt it had been a successful afternoon, she admitted to being "a little tired."  By the time we got home, she was flat out exhausted.

We rested at home before dinner out with Fred and then presents.  I think Amber might have been more excited about the presents than I was, not that I didn't entirely enjoy them.  I wasn't supposed to be getting much because the Rush tickets that we ended up giving away were my present. Still, my sweet husband and daughter got me other perfect gifts.  We ended the evening watching more Agents of Shield.

Two weeks ago today, we started watching Agents of Shield and are already done with the first season and halfway through the second. I was bummed that the second season isn't on bluray yet.  I just prefer it that way, but we bought the digital version of season 2 on Amazon since none of us could wait until the unknown bluray release date. I think there will be some major withdrawal until Agents of Shield returns in the fall, but at least we found one TV show for the family to watch. I think we may need to try Agent Carter too, because we are such a Marvel family.

(Left) Lunch today - just goofing off. And three kitties all sharing one space, again.
(Right) The only pictures we took all day on my birthday - getting ready to leave for lunch.

Amber and I are taking most of today off to run a few errands and recover. Primarily recover for Amber.  I still have more baking to complete, house hold chores to finish up, and random medical updates to send to doctors.  I'll probably just flake out on a couple of those items and play video games with Amber after our errands.  It's just been that kind of week.

I have great plans for house work, cleaning, and baking over Memorial Day weekend - but NO sun! Again, this all depends on the motivation of the entire family.  We'll see how much actually happens.

Happy Memorial Day!

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up   photo purpFFBut_zps970d6cbe.png Homegrown Learners

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Favorite Family Board Games

Our family goes in spurts playing board games. There are times when we play so often that no one bothers to put the games away, instead we leave one or two games stacked in the spare seat at our kitchen table. Then there are the weeks or even months where a single game isn't played.

As Amber has grown, so has the popularity of various games. Instead of the easy, early childhood version we now play the full on, regular versions of everything.&nbspAmber has even reached the age where most of the difficult strategy games are now possible. 

There are a few games that will always hold a special place in our hearts, even if they are no longer part of our regular rotation (like The Ladybug Game), not to mention the old favorites from way back when Fred and I were children (Bonkers!). This list is our family's current set of favorite games. 

Unexpected Homeschool: Favorite Family Board Games

Our Favorite Boardgames:

  • Clue- Amber loved Clue Junior when she was younger and can't get enough of the modern Clue either. It still seems so new fangled compared to my childhood version, but we have fun and Amber has started winning regularly!
  • Mystery Mansion - My sister had this game when we were growing up, but it required the cardboard treasure to be manually placed in the plastic chests each game. Eventually we just stopped switching the inserts and memorized where the different treasures were located. Then, around the year 2000 my sister gave Fred and me the electronic version of Mystery Mansion as a semi-joke gift. Little did she know Amber would be born a couple years later and grow to love it. We still play Mystery Mansion!
  • Ticket to Ride - I bought this as a gift for Amber based only on Amazon reviews. It did not disappoint us at all and has provided hours of fun regularly. Amber was a little young when we got it and there was a strategy learning curve for her.  Despite all the other tactics, we still have a blast competing for the longest track.

  • Life - We probably have 3 or 4 versions of this including the standard one. Currently, Amber's favorite is My Little Pony Life, which isn't nearly as irritating as you might think.
Unexpected Homeschool: Favorite Family Board Games
  • Monopoly - Another one of the games where we have multiple branded versions on top of the original game. Again, Amber likes the My Little Pony version. My favorite might just be the Narnia one.

  • Castle Panic - Another game I purchased as a gift for Amber solely on Amazon reviews. It has been a huge hit with the whole family. We've even upgraded it to include the Wizard's tower.
  • Sorry - Amber LOVES this game and isn't the least bit sorry when she knocks you back to start. However, I'm not terribly fond of this game and it takes a lot to convince me to play Sorry.
Unexpected Homeschool: Favorite Family Board Games
  • Star Wars Escape from Death Star - This is one of my childhood games from the late 1970's that's still going strong and not at all showing its age. I retrieved the game from my parents' house when Amber was five years old and watching Star Wars for the first time. It's another family favorite.

  • Yahtzee - I taught Amber to play when she was seven years old because she was getting bored during a hot summer.  It's still a family favorite.
  • Bingo - Amber and I both loved Bingo as young children. Our current set with wooden numbers and a rolling cage is so much more sophisticated than my old late 70's plastic pop-up set.
Unexpected Homeschool: Favorite Family Board Games
Honorable Mention:
  • 221b Baker Street
  • Minotaurus
  • Eurorails & British Rails

Have any favorite family games? Let us know!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Winding Down 7th Grade

We're getting close to the official end of our school year - we only have until the end of May to go!  We actually can accumulate hours on the current school year through June 30th, and then the summer hours all flip to the next school year.  I waffle each year as to if I put those June hours on the new grade even though they are technically part of the previous school year.  In the end, I always decide to tack them to the previous grade and don't officially promote Amber until July 1st.  It's just simpler to record it that way.

Amber is definitely petering out and feels diminished each day.  Thankfully her required school hours are complete and we can be officially finished for the school year if it's needed.  The rest of it is all icing.  We actually took off Wednesday of this week because I had a dentist appointment.  My mom played Pay Day with Amber while I had the last of the old fillings on top replaced before we all went to lunch.  That was a somewhat humorous affair considering half of my mouth was still mostly numb.

I guess the weaning of Amber's medication is going well considering she hasn't had any withdrawal reactions to lowering the dosage and frequency.  However, we will never again doubt the positive effects of fludrocortisone. The massive blood pooling in Amber's legs and feet that result in dark blue / purplely / blackish and swollen toes has returned.  It's ever so pretty.  She's been feeling fairly sickly all week, but Tuesday was the worst by far.  She woke up nauseous and pale.  Eventually she recovered to her new baseline over the span of the day, but it was pretty scary in the morning.

Mother's Day!  Amber's blood pressure was so low that morning that we didn't make church. She was actually sickly all day, but we still had a nice time together. And I didn't have to cook!

In actual school work this week, we had our very first nature study! I suppose most of us do nature studies without even realizing it when we look at plants, work in the yard, etc.  But this was our very first purposeful nature study even though we've always meant to do them.  Even more pathetic is the location we chose: it is literally across the street from our house on the other side of the swale where we snow sled.  There happens to be a walking path in our subdivision that crosses a small creek and leads to the subdivision next to us.  The entrance to the path is across the street from our house.  We've never taken this path and generally know only about it's direction and the creek from our neighbors who's yard the creek adjoins.

Tuesday, after Amber recovered, we walked the path around the swale to the bridge and over into the next subdivision.  There is a ton of natural vegetation and trees back there along with animal life.  Who knew? We should have since we've only lived in this house 9 years. We are officially the laziest and most unobservant people around.  Amber selected a location to follow over the coming seasons and then began to document her spot.  I got bored watching and walked up the edge of the swale (we were on the back side) just to realize we were *directly* across the street from our house.  As in probably close enough that my puny girl arms could through a ball into my own yard.  Again, pathetic.

In History Amber has finished all her reading on Tudor and Stuart England along with the the timeline.  She's really only got her writing assignments left and then history is finished! We do have plans to work on New World Explorers from Home School in the Woods over the summer.  Instead of going in detail on the explorers during history this year, we saved them all for a summer study. 

She definitely could use her medication, but still persevered with school.  And our three kitties in one place at the same time - birds were involved.

Amber did also complete Geology this week, which makes 7th grade science officially complete as well.  She asked earlier in the semester to be able to study chemistry too, so we have those books and will work on them over the summer before 8th grade physical science.

Even though we do continue school over the summer it's pretty relaxed. We don't have full days of school during June or July, but we do try to complete one to two subjects per day. Some days we chose to just take off entirely and play video games all day long.  It's not a hard rule that lessons must be completed every day over the summer. While Math is always one of the summer subjects, the others vary.

This summer Amber will be working on a combination of math, chemistry, explorers, the last few morphemes lessons (if she doesn't finish by the end of May), and creative writing.  Because of the review crew there may pop up a couple of unplanned summer studies, which are perfectly fine too.  Since we limit each day to no more than two subjects, we can still review without feeling overloaded.  Amber also completed enough of her lessons this school year to not be considered behind in any subject.  That means nothing is required for summer in order to start 8th grade on schedule.

Crash course at the allergist and Nature study day.  (Right) Amber was taking a picture of her chosen area from up on the outside hill of the swale.  Above Amber is a house peak - that's our house.  Nature so close to us. Sigh.

Switching to Life of Fred math has made Amber such a happy student again.  I really didn't get how Saxon was affecting our whole school day. She dreaded math until it happened each day or until I told her she could skip math that day.  Now she actually chooses to complete more lessons in math than I ask.  She's averaging two lessons per day, with the occasional third lesson that balances with days when she's really only mentally up for one lesson.  We've been working through an online math product too (CTC Math) that has been a good fit with LOF.  Watch for a review of CTC Math in June.

This week on the blog I talked about our favorite homeschooling resources for middle school. It was definitely time to update that list!  Check out what we couldn't live without these days.

This weekend we have nothing on the calendar and it feels great to know we can relax or work around the house as we please.  I'm a little tired of the go-go-go from earlier this month.

Happy Weekend!

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up   photo purpFFBut_zps970d6cbe.png Homegrown Learners