All Girls School

Guitar Recital
October 6, 2008, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Bubba, guitar, music

Bubba had her first guitar recital on Saturday. On Friday she was really really nervous. Stomach ache nervous. We talked a lot about how everyone there watching was there to support her and not to point out any mistakes. She was still really concerned about missing a note. When she woke up on Saturday, though, her outlook had changed and she wasn’t as concerned any more, just excited. She worked really hard on her piece, too. She knew about the recital for about three weeks. At first it took her almost ten minutes to play the song. We instituted a new policy where, during her daily practice, she had to play her recital song three times before practicing anything else. By the second week she had it memorized and could play it in one minute. In fact, when she got up on stage she sat down, placed her music on the stand and the teacher came to help her plug in to the amp. Then she began playing and never once looked at her music. She just watched her fingers. It was so fun to watch her up on the stage, although I wish she had been given one more song to play so that I could have watched her perform longer.

Leaving for the show.

Feeling a bit of nerves and setting up.


Concentrating… but not on the sheet music.


With some of her adoring fans.


Current Activities
September 4, 2008, 10:18 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, curriculum, guitar, history, math, music, phonics, preschool, reading, schedule, science, sewing, spelling, writing

Spelling – a list without a pretest. Bubba was struggling with the pretests last year as she’s such a perfectionist and there’s really no point in testing her on things that she hasn’t been taught yet. I almost feel like we should let our spelling instruction come naturally through our writing tasks. When I thought about that more, though, I really want the writing tasks to focus on content and structure and I don’t want to point out every misspelled word and distract from the actual writing. So, structured spelling lists it is. There are supplementing pages that are actually kind of fun and a little bit challenging, so she doesn’t HATE spelling this year. (four days per week)

Phonics – I detest this subject as I think it is super super boring. So does she. I think we’re going to nix phonics or at least skip to the few items in the book that would be instructional and useful to her. I’m going to have to look through our book a little more to weed out the busy work. (once per week, but maybe not at all.)

Science – We’re doing a unit on the human body with lots of activities thrown in. She’s also doing quite a bit of writing by logging our daily tasks and making little booklets and stuff. We’ve checked out a bunch of human body books from the library and she has been reading them with and to her little sisters and taking them in the car when we go pick up Mimi from school. The other day she was reading about the heart and we ended up having a great conversation about the relationship between the size of an animal and how quickly its heart beats. We’re planning on a trip down to the Science Museum to see the human body exhibit before it leaves next month. (twice a week)

Math – Right now we’re doing mostly review of addition and subtraction of multiple numbers. I’ve found lots of fun activities that incorporate these. I’m going to work with her on a sewing project to work on our measuring skills (and estimating skills, as I am a laaaaazy sewer). We’ve also done some cooking and we practice our fractions. I expect that the cooking will increase as the holiday season gets nearer and we’ll do a lot of practical math like doubling recipes and figuring out the metric system and equivalencies. She really wants to move on in math and get to multiplication and stuff, but I am feeling that we should ease back into the subject. (three times per week)

History – We tried to do an entire year of history over the summer, but burned out on it. We got about a third of the way through it before we shelved it until the school year. We are still in ancient history, but Bubba loves it. She really gets into most of the stories and we have some fun discussions after reading them. It is always amazing to me the details and names she remembers after reading. There are some that I have to go back and look up that she rattles off really quickly. This is one of our favorite subjects as we always learn something new and there is always some sort of fun project to go with it and reinforce the lesson. (twice a week)

Writing – Most of our writing is done within our other subjects as Bubba balks at having to sit down and write just for the sake of writing. One day per week we do do some sort of writing task. Lately we have been working on different brainstorming techniques. At first she was lazy and bored with it until she ended up coming up with a really fun and creative story based on some of her brainstorming. Every Friday is poetry day and we do something different. Last week we had a book from the library about rocks (her current passion) and it was a long poem about different types. We read it and then she chose her favorite type of rock from the poem and copied out that page in her best writing. We have a book of Roald Dahl poems for tomorrow that I’m very excited about.

Reading – Every day I read a chapter of The Wizard of Oz outloud to her. When we’re finished with the book we’re going to watch the movie and compare and contrast it to the book. I think we’ll do it orally or I’ll have her write down the main points and present it to Dad or something. I’ve been thinking about all of the different books we could read and then watch the movie to compare and the options are huge. I think it will give her a better idea of how much better the books typically are, too, and promote more reading. She also reads for half an hour to herself or to her sisters outloud.

Music – She practices her guitar every day except for lesson days. She was given two new songs to practice at her last lesson. We were also informed of her first recital coming up in October. I can’t wait to watch her play in front of everyone.

Art – At the beginning of every week we start a new art project. She then has the entire week to work on it and refine it in order to have a very thoughtfully and thoroughly finished piece. The first few projects in each unit are more technical, exploring each element (line, texture, etc.). Then there are a few really creative projects that incorporate the techniques previously studied.

(On a side note, Baby started preschool today, but I haven’t had time to get the photos off of the camera yet. I’ll write about it when I have them on the computer. Suffice it to say that she had a blast and it sounds like the day went really well.)

Starting Off Well
August 27, 2008, 11:49 am
Filed under: art, Bubba, games, guitar, library, schedule, spelling

Apparently we are a people that enjoy a good schedule. One that is flexible enough to maneuver around impromptu park times but that is consistent enough that we know what’s coming and that we’ll be finished in time to pick up Mimi from school. Last year we didn’t follow any real schedule. Actually, scratch that, we started off the year with an insanely detailed schedule. That didn’t last very long at all and caused major burnout. Then we went to the opposite extreme with only a rough guideline of what we wanted to accomplish throughout the year and some materials to use throughout. That was ok, but felt a little slapped together at times. This year, we have certain things that are done on certain days so that I can be sure we’re going to accomplish at least our minimum goals. Having to get everyone up, dressed, fed and out the door to get Mimi to school in the mornings is a great help in getting us ready to start the school day early. Plus, at that time of the day Baby is happy to play and read and color while we work. Bubba is a bit more focused during the mornings and hasn’t already been distracted by another project that she wants to do instead. We have our afternoons free to do whatever we want.

Yesterday Grandma P came over to drop off Mimi’s birthday present. When she asked Bubba what she had done in school that day, Bubba replied, “We mostly played on the computer and read a little.” It was true. What slipped between the lines in that statement is that Tuesdays are a light academic day since I’ll be helping at the preschool on those days. We did play on the computer doing Language Arts and Spelling games. She completed a spelling worksheet focusing on this week’s words. Reading a “little” consisted of me reading a chapter of The Wizard of Oz outload and Bubba finishing a Junie B. Jones book followed by a trip to the library to pick up an inter-library loan Spiderwick book, which she promptly read three chapters of. She also read aloud a human body book to the younger kids. She failed to mention that she had asked me to find her a math worksheet with adding and subtracting to do just for fun. Later, she and her friend played school with the younger kids where she read more books to them and tried to teach them some basic math. She has a week-long art project every week that she spent a little time on, too. Bubba also practiced her guitar for about half an hour. (I’m not trying to imply with this paragraph that Grandma P looked in any way disapproving about Bubba’s answer, I just found it funny how her quick off-the-cuff response negated a big meaty chunk of the actual learning that took place that day.)

I also want to note for posterity that while the title states that we are starting off well, Bubba has also spent the last half hour walking around with a cape on backwards so that she can pull the hood over her face to refrain from looking at me or speaking to me because she’s so angry with me. It’s all about balance, right? Up next: How Do I Teach Personal Accountability For One’s Actions? (otherwise known as, Sometimes It’s Not EVERYONE Else’s Fault.)

Sewing, Singing and Winning
June 19, 2008, 9:42 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, guitar, mimi, sewing

Today Bubba had her second sewing class with our friend. This time they’re working on sun hats. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to complete them today so I have to wait until next Tuesday until I get to see it. The only thing that I’ve been told is that it will be reversible, she chose pink and purple fabric, and they had money left over so the girls picked out some fun buttons to add as accents. I’m thrilled that she’s learning to sew at a young age. I didn’t learn until I was in middle school and I have no patience for it, so I hate taking the time to cut out the patterns and fabric and iron it and sew it carefully and all that stuff. My pieces all look ok from a great distance. But Bubba on the other hand, relishes every step. Using a hot iron is a grown-up treat for her. She is so steady and slow with the foot pedal that her lines and all careful and fairly straight. I should take a lesson from her.

She is progressing well with her guitar lessons, too. The girl that practices after her saw us at the library and said, “Your daughter is doing really good at her guitar lessons”. So that’s how I know. She was given two new chords to add to her practicing.

Last weekend there was a Sidewalk Chalk festival downtown. We each signed up for a square to color. Baby and I told them that we would share a square. She and I drew a huge tree and a grassy field and flowers. Bubba started and elaborate quilt-like drawing, but started getting hot and thirsty and hungry and stopped. Mimi kept changing her mind about what she was drawing and ended up frustrated at the whole project. Fast forward to two days ago, I get a phone call saying that Baby won the contest for her age division. We were invited down to the new local art gallery for the opening of this show and to be presented her prize. We went down there and looked at the amazing and brutally honest exhibit. Then Baby got her gift bag. It was full of art supplies, a rubber duck and coupons for free food around town. She was especially happy about the rubber duck.

Now ask me how many photos I have of any of these things. none. Go me!

Summer Has Arrived
May 27, 2008, 8:17 pm
Filed under: Bubba, family, guitar, library, mimi, reading, summer

We spent the holiday weekend attending my cousin’s high school graduation. Bubba was part of the ceremony and it gave me some mental flash forwards to sending her off to college. *sniff*

We’re working on our summer reading and have almost finished The Midwife’s Apprentice. I am really enjoying the book, but Bubba is finding it a bit slow and old fashioned and is not loving it. We should finish it tomorrow. I think our next book, Pure Dead Magic, will be more up her alley. She saw it at the bookstore and the blurb on the back intrigued her.

Next week we’ll begin attending the summer library activities. Aside from guitar lessons, the library will be our only other activity until later in June when swimming lessons begin. July holds more swimming lessons and art classes. We’ll send of summer with a family camping trip to South Dakota with some friends.

School starts for Mimi on August 14th, which seems insanely early to me. I can’t fathom why school needs to start back up in the midst of our hottest month when swimming should be at its peak. Oh well, we’ll get plenty of swimming in.

Field Trip and Guitar Lessons
May 8, 2008, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Bubba, field trip, guitar, history, math, mimi, science, soccer, sports

Yesterday was designated “Put in as much of the new flooring as possible day”, so I decided to take the kiddos out of the house. We decided to go to the hands on Science Museum and spend the day there. I rounded up our friend and her boys and we set out to arrive as the museum opened. We happened to pick the day that five separate schools were taking field trips there, so there were a few chaotic areas, but for the most part we had a lovely time. There was a terrible movie that we were told was geared toward preschoolers. It was about ten minutes long and so short and void of any substance that I can’t believe someone actually took the time to create it. It ended abruptly and we just kind of looked at each other, not understanding why we had just paid two dollars per head to see it.

After that we spent a long time in the castle area. There was an interesting moment when Mimi felt the dress up clothes would fit better without her regular clothing on underneath. (Why does one of my children ALWAYS do this at a museum?) Then there was the issue of the ten minute shoe hunt to figure out where she left them. Then we moved to the toddler area where they always play with the water feature. I told them five or six times to play with it as much as they wanted, but to do their best not to get their shirts and pants all wet, as the temperature is always a little cool in there. Inevitably, they came away soaking and were later complaining about how cold they were. While I had the smaller two in the toddler area, Bubba went over to a math exhibit that explored things like measuring volume and folding paper incorporating geometry principles. She wasn’t happy to leave that area, but lunch was next, so she didn’t protest too long.

The next area was all about the flight and airplanes and animal and insects and the principles of aerodynamics that govern them. There were lots of fun hands on activities to see how these forces interact on different wing shapes. The last area held lots of examples of our local ecosystems, with many plants and animals, as well as a 12 foot tall tornado that the kids can climb up to and stick their hands in.

We were wiped out by that point and had made it through all the exhibits, so we left. We’ll be returning again next month as this exhibit was being unpacked there and we’re interested in seeing it in person. Maybe I’ll remember my camera, too, so I can put some photos up.

We had a quick ice cream stop on the way home, and then rested for a bit and looked at the flooring progress. Then it was off to Bubba’s first guitar lesson with her new instructor, Ms. J. I think she learned more in that single lesson than in all of her previous lessons with the college kid combined. I am really not exaggerating. At all. Not even a little.

In other homeschooling, we’re wrapping up on Ancient Egypt. Bubba listened to the unit, but wasn’t thoroughly engaged as we exhausted this topic about a year ago when she was interested in it. We learned plenty of new info, though, that we hadn’t read about before. We are also working on teaching Mimi how to play Crazy 8s and Uno. Mimi’s getting a stronger grasp on numbers and matching and colors and following rules, and Bubba is working on her patience and trying to keep a younger child engaged by letting her win every so often. I think it will help their relationship a lot when they can play games together without needing adult intervention.

Other than that, we’ve been outside a lot, watching the garden turn green and grow taller and taller. Soccer has proven to be lots of fun. Mimi cut her own practice short today due to her coach stepping on her hand by accident. Bubba’s team has set up a traveling match in the next town over, so it will be fun to watch them compete.

Tomorrow is Mimi’s preschool graduation. I’m likely going to cry. There will be pictures.

out of town
November 2, 2007, 9:35 pm
Filed under: family, girlies, guitar

The girlies’ great grandmother passed away a week ago. We have spent the past week either preparing for our trip or on the road. We arrived back home yesterday. It was a good trip, the girls did amazingly well and the service for Rose was wonderful. It was great to be around so many loved ones. Bubba has been to funerals before and knew what to expect. She didn’t have many questions. Baby is still too little to understand what was going on. Mimi was the one with all of the questions and observations. She, too, did really well. She will, at the most random times say, “But I just miss Grandma Rose”. It’s is sweet and endearing. I think the funeral was good for the girls. The pastor leading the service was wonderful. He was adamant that the children be included as they are a vital part to the family.

Our trip took us through six states and over 1800 miles in four days. There was a lot of time in the car. I’m embarrassed to admit that I let the girls watch way too many movies and we didn’t really engage in anything resembling school work while we were gone. But, an aunt sent us home with a large box full of chapter books, including the complete Little House series. Bubba and I dug through them all today and are very excited. (Thanks, Aunt V!) She also had guitar lessons last night and did well considering we had been home all of five hours before sending her there. She’s up to four chords now and her teacher has promised her a surprise when she has them all down pat.

I promise some actual homeschool updates coming shortly. I need to finish unpacking (yes, yes, it’s been over 24 hours and I’m still working on it) and find the camera cable and all that.