Friday, September 6, 2013

Random, Musical Week

This has been one of those ho-hum weeks that plod along so slowly, yet nothing seems to be accomplished.  I actually looked back in our school tracking software to see what we did because it was so uneventful. 

Of course, we took Monday off from school for Labor Day, or as it was known around here "painting day".  I spent the good part of the weekend painting.  It took me two days to paint the bookshelves in the family room since they were only primed before Fred became ill last year.  Fred did help me by moving a chair, retrieving the step ladder, and helping Amber keep the cats out of my way.

Monday, though, Fred did his share of yard work and painting.  We had to unload a good portion of our entertainment center, and move the solid wood contraption out of the way to paint the wall behind.  He then rollered the wall, while I edged and painted above the bookshelves. This was all after mowing our yard in the morning.  The end result is that I'm happy with my entirely painted family room!  Now, on to the next project :)

(TOP) Family room in disarray.
(BOTTOM) Painted and put back. It badly needs decorating and color now, but at least it is painted. That's a start.

In actual school work this week, we finished The Hobbit!!  I guess we will celebrate this weekend by re-watching the first third of the new Hobbit movies.  Amber was really peeved when she realized how little of the book that first movie covers.  At least she has something to look forward to for the next two Decembers.

Amber also took several tests, made great progress in her ancient history studies, and has finished 2/3 of her Biology curriculum.  It appears we will be able to complete biology by Christmas break and then start Earth Science & Astronomy in January.  Our goal was to complete three Elemental Science subjects in two school years, including summers.  We intend to go through their Chemistry for the Logic Stage and then switch over to Apologia Physical Science for 8th grade.  This will set us up to use Apologia for high school, if we decide to homeschool through high school.  If not, it will set Amber up for Biology as a freshman wherever we send her to school.

Saxon Algebra 1/2 continues to sail with no bumps.  It is good for Amber to practice the concepts from previous years, but she is getting antsy to learn something new.  I guess this is better than her feeling overwhelmed by pre-algebra, but really she is starting to get bored by math again and that is never good.  I am unwilling, though, to allow her to skip lessons in the book, so we will have to try and jazz up the review some how.

While there was no handbells practice this week for Amber, it has actually been a very musical week around here now that we've added back in piano after the brief hiatus to make starting flute easier.  I'm so thankful that I am able to instruct Amber in piano so that we can take breaks when there is illness, or when life is simply too much.  There's been lots of both flute and piano practice, especially when the cats need calming.  We have found that all three cats love piano music and will find a place close to the piano to sit and relax while it is being played.  There were several times during the painting that Amber was asked to play piano for the cats.  LOL.

We've been making good progress through the TV show Merlin (on Netflix) in the evenings, averaging 1.5 episodes per night.  Normally we don't watch TV during the day and then watch only our current show after dinner.  We don't watch TV every evening either; on the heavy dance day we pretty much just eat dinner and crash.  Yet we do enjoy relaxing together and working on a craft project of some kind while we watch the current show.

This week Amber has been coloring in a Build-A-Bear box that she converted into a house for one of her other stuffed animals.  For a girl that was not terribly interested in coloring in the past, she has surely made up for it lately. 

Coloring Swish-Swish's house while watching Merlin
More flute practicing, right after piano practicing.  She's a busy, musical girl.
Actual school work happening.   Finishing up her Hobbit study guide!!

Amber also is intrigued by all the music in Merlin and asked if I could locate piano music for various portions of the soundtrack.  Of course, there are no scores out there except for arrangements by other fans, of which I downloaded a few for us to try out.  They are a bit above Amber's piano playing level currently, so I've been playing them for her.  I really love how Amber finds ways to learn and be intrigued by things that I originally see only for their entertainment value.

Actually, all the music around here renewed a desire I had to take violin lessons.  I briefly played violin as a child and as an adult have wanted to try it again.  Now that Amber is taking flute lessons I was seriously considering trying to find a similar time slot at the same location for violin lessons.  However, I realized this week that finding time for lessons and practice was not my main roadblock.  I do not think I can physically play the violin anymore.  Sigh.  This was sort of a "duhh" realization.

When Amber was two years old I fell and broke my left elbow (shattered it really) and arm bone.  The arm bone was broken near the elbow, both bones, completely through.  One bone was even completely dislocated, as in the two pieces did not even overlap each other.  Needless to say, I had surgery to repair it and screw it all back together.   While the arm looks normal now, except for the surgical scar, it does not function correctly.  I have a limited range of motion from the elbow down. Despite immediate and daily therapy there is damage to the elbow joint and tightening in the arm ligaments. 

This all means my wrist does not rotate well, nor do I have the spread or strength in my fingers and arm that I should have.  Piano playing is very tiring and difficult at times, but I compensate by re-writing some music and yelling at my arm when it hurts.  :)  Given what I know of my current capabilities, I do not believe that left arm is capable of the dexterity or strength needed to hold a violin and work the strings, especially as I would be basically learning the instrument from scratch.  This is something I really should have thought about before getting my hopes up.  As a result I'm a little bummed about the violin, but for now I'm dedicating myself to practicing piano at least once a day.  It gives me some personal time to do something I enjoy, besides the daily workouts.

Indiana Amber :)
Amber and her dad worked on an Egyptian excavation kit that we purchased at the Science center during our field trip the previous week.  Oddly enough, Fred had an Indiana Jones hat from a costume that Amber wore during their project. The end result was an Egyptian cat statue.

Today is another errand running afternoon and hopefully we will get to the programming lessons again.  I know I said we would do them as Amber wanted, but lately we've been busy on Fridays and she hasn't cared if we skip the programming lessons.  It's not a huge deal, I just would like her to actually get into the programming portions of the curriculum to see if it interests her.  My personal guess is that she is not going to be at all interested in programming past the novelty phase of it.  Still, she could surprise me.  She often does.

Happy Weekend!

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  1. We have a perfectly good piano sitting right here behind me and I can't play it. I have plans to learn. If you can manage with that arm, surely I can overcome my laziness! ;)

    I've been on a big painting, reorganizing kick around here, too!

  2. I am planning on teaching Philip some HTML and probably by extension CSS this year. I may add some Javascript if it becomes needed. I want one of his projects as a website as that seem to be a good way to represent his work.

    1. It sounds like a fun project for him to do! I just feel bad that my child doesn't know any programming and between her dad and I we have three computer science degrees.

  3. Oh, LOVE the color in the family room! You've got a GREAT set-up there! She's so awesome with her Math, huh? Algebra 1/2 seemed like a big jump from the lower levels of Saxon. My girl is on 76, but she's been taking the tests without doing the lessons to move ahead. (If she gets a 90% or better, then she moves on and doesn't have to do the lessons.) 2 days of school and she's on lesson 15!

    1. Amber is one of these people who is good at math but doesn't particularly like it. She tested through Saxon 6/5 (like you are doing) before 5th grade and then completed Saxon 7/6 in 5th grade. Per Art Reed's recommendations, based on Amber's grades we choose Saxon Algebra 1/2 instead of Saxon 8/7 as her pre-algebra.

  4. You all are doing so many great things. What a busy schedule. I love a home filled with music.
    Blessings, Dawn

  5. So much going on! I can't believe you said you didn't know if you actually did anything!!! Yay for the painting. It looks great. Our 'den' is the only room that hasn't been painted. I have put it off for 3 years! I had HEAVY furniture that will have to be moved. So glad you are mowing through Biology. I know you both dreaded that at first. Isn't Merlin great??? I am rewatching it now. So sorry about your arm. I know that hurt. Glad you are able to play some and yelling always helps. ;)

  6. Yay on the painting - we just finished repainting the bedroom. Phew is that work!

    We read The Hobbit this year too - absolutely loved it!

  7. I bet it feels really good to have the painting job over and done with. It looks nice! It seems to me that you guys really did get a lot accomplished eve if it didn't seem like it to you! I'm really sorry about you not being able to play the violin. It must be very disappointing. I love the violin. Glad to see that Amber was feeling good last week too!

  8. I love that the cats love piano music!! :)