Whoa

Wow. Where to begin?

Seven months goes by SO QUICKLY! I never meant to fall off the face of the earth, but here we are.

Our third little boy was born January 10, weighing in at 8lbs even. We named him Benedict Michael (hereafter on this blog as “Beanie”, thanks to his older brothers). He’s a sweetie.

The birth went really well and there were no complications and he fits into our family perfectly.

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His brothers are growing up, too. Yuri turned 3 a little over a month ago and is delightful and trouble and mischievous and clever and very hard to stay on top of. He colors on walls without abandon and without regard to consequence, cuts his hair with no second thought, punches his older brother on a daily basis, and really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. He has also recently learned how to play minecraft, so he and Kostya do that nearly every day, until Yuri starts breaking everything Kostya has made. I think this photo pretty much sums it up.

Kostya turned 6 in February, and he is a delight as well. He is progressing through his phonics, and he is a fantastic big brother and a great help around the house. He is usually at the receiving end of a punch from Yuri, but he almost always kind of deserves it, if that makes sense.

I cannot believe how old they are getting! I have three sons! It is the best ever.

After Christmas I decided to shut down my etsy shop, probably for good. Kostya was going to be doing proper homeschooling, I would have three little ones to look after, and with the etsy shop, all of my free time was spent working on it instead of doing any fun sewing. The money was nice, but after four years, it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss it at all.

In the meantime I have made real progress on my WIP list from the past few years, and, of course, started many new ones and have about a million other things I want to make.

I finished this in the spring as a gift for a friend of ours whose daughter was born about a month after Beanie. I really enjoy using the Quick Curve Ruler and the patterns that go along with it, and this Bonnie and Camille fabric was darling.

After

After I gifted the quilt, however, Baby’s Mother told me they actually fell in love with the back side of the quilt. Mom had always referred to her daughter as her “Little Mermaid” in utero, and so I found a mermaid panel printed by Hawthorne Threads, and so this is the side they display in the nursery. (This shows off the quilting I did a little bit)

I also finally finished the pink and brown BOTM I started years ago (in my gallery is it’s twin, Jun) and gifted it to one of Kostya’s friends.

I also finished a Halloween wall hanging using Cotton + Steel’s Spellbound line. It’s actually quilted and ready to hang, but I don’t seem to have a picture of it all finished. I’m not sure why I made a wall hanging, and a Halloween one at that. I don’t typically decorate for holidays or anything, and I’m not particularly attached to Halloween. Maybe I just really liked the fabric.

Another big finish (well, almost), is this quilt top I started last spring, but then fell pregnant and felt absolutely horrible and set it aside until this year. The pattern is Alsion Glass’s “Timber” and I chose to use dark neutrals paired with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer and Shimmer 2 lines because I felt that, altogether, it would feel “masculine” and even a little bit “dwarfy”. This quilt will be my husband’s when I’m finished and it’s the first quilt I’ve ever used wool batting in. I’ll report back on how we like the wool. In Texas.

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Of course there are a million other things going on. I’m homeschooling a bit and I need to update the homeschooling blog. I’ve been reading and cross stitching some. My brother got married. Our garden did well this spring. Life is busy and I am a terrible updater. Also I hate computer, the internet, and most social media, so there you go.

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Homeschool Review weeks 3 – 4

This should be the last totally homeschool post on this blog, as I am in the process of making one specifically for these types of posts. I think I’ve come close to deciding on a name for our school. I know it will be something along the lines of “Divine Mercy Homeschool” or something like that, and I’ll go into the naming later on that blog.
(edit, here is the blog. suuuuuper exciting)

Overall, I would say our first block (four weeks on, one week off), was a great success. Kostya is a delight to teach, and kindergarten is a great first year to start since we have so few real deadlines and our goals are few (basically, I want him to be a beginning reader by the end of this and for everything else I just want a feel for what approaches are best for him and what kind of pace we’re looking at and what interests he might have we can pursue in the future).

Reading lessons have slowed to one lesson per day. Kostya recognizes the new sounds and how to say them almost immediately, but putting it all together into words and short sentences is much slower, and so of course sentence comprehension isn’t there yet. Totally fine. We are *just* starting, after all! His writing is picking up a good deal and so instead of practicing one letter a day like we had in the beginning, we are doing two – five most days.

Mathematics has been fun. I’ve had to rework how fast we would go through materials, and he has surprised me with how quick he is to pick up on certain things. He can add numbers quite well, especially with some sort of manipulative, so we are working on recognizing the notation. Last week I went ahead and introduced place value. All I have to say as far as that goes is thank goodness for youtube! He loved the songs and cartoons that were available that helped break things down in ways I could not. While I did not have him use the work book, our last two math lessons last week were the lessons out of the actual Math U See Alpha book. My hope is that next week, when I start block 2, we can use that more. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t really tackle what MUS was doing,  I used Life of Fred: Apples instead. I have a feel that if I used that as our primary math book with some supplements, Kostya would blast through it. As it is, I intend to keep using it once or twice a week. I don’t have anything really planned out, it’s just how I feel that day: Do I sit and try to explain a proper math lesson from MUS, or do I just read the “story” out of LOF and make up some accompanying exercises? I was worried this approach would be confusing, but so far it has not been for either of us.

At this point I wonder when I should start giving Kostya easy books to try, or if I should keep doing our 100 Easy Lessons for a while longer. I suppose I could just wait until winter since we will have to stop school anyway for baby boy #3, who is due to join us early Jan.

I’m not much of a crafty person, but I’ve been trying to incorporate some other activities into our schooling. In the last month we’ve baked cookies a few times, made play doh, and went to the grandparent’s house to help with honey harvesting (“bee milking”, as my FIL calls it).

Some photos, since I haven’t posted any in a while

Homeschool Review: Week 2

I have no intention of doing this every week, as I would prefer to keep this blog more craft oriented, but as I have no created a homeschool specific blog (haven’t thought of a name yet), this will be where I post some homeschool thoughts.

This week was a bit tougher than last week. It was our first four day week (Fridays are library/activity days), and our first week with math.

While Kostya progressed through the first 20 reading lessons in three days last week, we have since slowed down significantly as he comes across new, less familiar sounds and letter combinations (one of our successes was mastering “th” this week!). There are things about early learning that I sometimes take for granted that I have to back up and teach him, like sentences ending with a period. He rolls along with things rather well, though. He still enjoys the lessons and sometimes asks for extra after lunch. I have a collection of Bob Books, so after he’s learned new sounds, I pull out the books that have those sounds for extra practice.

Writing is still slow as molasses, but that is okay. We are almost finished with Lesson 2 of the Memoria Press Copybook. I suppose I could lay off writing entirely and he would be fine, but I think that as long as we move gently through this, it will be okay. Kostya is always asking me to write lists and letters, and I’d like to give him the tools to do so ASAP. I may change my tune later, but I don’t want to stop writing completely. Not unless he shuts down with it.

Math has been interesting. Like I wrote before, I am hoping to use Math U See Alpha. Now, I think brain wise, Kostya is more than ready for the concepts, but after viewing the DVD that came with the program, I realized that format would probably not work with Kostya at his current maturity level, and might move too fast. What I’ve done is reviewed the first few lessons and broken them down into teeny, tiny pieces. Actually, here we are at the end of week 2 and I still haven’t even said “Place Value”. Only today, day 4 of math lessons, did I bring out the blocks and show how they were organized and divided. We spent the first three days practicing how to write numbers correctly and legibly, and since writing is the hardest for Kostya, we still have a long way to go. Today I made a simple worksheet of single digit addition problems with no carrying, and even though Kostya could read the problems out and answer them quickly with and without the blocks, writing the answer down was a huge stumbling block, so I think next week I will lay off writing numerals and just let him dictate the answers to me and I’ll think of another way to bring in writing the numbers at a later time. I want so badly for him to enjoy math as he has done so far and to not be frustrated.

Another  little hiccup, which I understand is totally age appropriate, is his ability to listen and repeat back to me a story I’ve read. I’m reading short Bible stories to him, and only a fraction of the time is he able to tell me anything back in the story. Today’s problems were more behavioral than ability, though, as he got tired of listening to me and walked out of the room in the middle of the story. We had a chat afterwards about how that was unkind, and that it was very important to listen, because in order to learn, we *must* listen. I told him trying his best in his schooling was not at all about pleasing me, but that in order to be the man God has designed him to be he must try his best, and that means listening. I do not ask or expect perfection, but I do want him to try. He cried, and we hugged and I told him how much I enjoyed our time together, how much I loved him, and how honored I was that he was my son. Then we sat and read the story again, this time while he played with blocks, and he was able to retell a bit back to me. I was very surprised when he cried. He doesn’t often show disappointment with himself and I hope I wasn’t too harsh (hence all the hugging and kissing afterward).

And then there is Yuri. My sweet Yuri, who spent all last week sweetly sitting next to us, coloring away. Yeah, that’s completely gone. I think he must be going through some development spurt, because his food intake has nearly doubled this week and his behavior is a dumpster fire. Oh, and he’s actually napping right now. Yeah, there must be some serious brain growth happening. Totally appropriate for his age, but man it’s frustrating. He has colored all over every page of Kostya’s. He tells me “NO!” after every request. He takes things out of Kostya’s hands and close fisted hits him for no reason, and seems to take joy in destroying everything Kostya builds. I think he is an expert in the “terrible twos”. Weather the storm, I guess.

Homeschool Review: Week 1

It’s 1pm, Thursday afternoon, which means Kostya and I have finished our first week of kindergarten homeschool. I’ve tried it before, which he was 3.5, and it didn’t work out. In my enthusiasm to get him started and ahead of the game, I had forgotten he was still so small, and while  maybe mentally capable of learning sounds and putting them together, he was not mature enough for lessons, and frankly, at 3 years old, he really didn’t need to learn how to read (even if there were other homeschool moms with reading 3 year olds. Good for them!).

But he’s 5.5 now, and just so much more grown up. There are several children in our neighborhood close to his age, and after hearing about what they do, he’s been begging to start school for months (we’ve talked a bit about the difference between our school and their school, and so far he seems perfectly content in knowing he can stay in his underpants and only have school for an hour and snacks when he wants, as opposed to what their school schedule looks like).

I had told myself after we tried lessons at 3 years that we’d wait until he expressed a desire for school, and so that’s what we’ve done. In the beginning I had such a focus on making sure we completed lessons, that he stayed seated and still and focused, and that we did everything at the same time and ended at the same time that it was such a mess, and we both burned out so fast. This time I’ve made sure to remind myself that with Kostya, being flexible is very important. I need to follow HIS lead, HIS interests, and not let the lessons dictate how fast we go.

I realize it’s just been three days, and that isn’t a lot of time, but every morning he has asked for school and has been as attentive as I could expect an energetic, easily distracted five year old boy to be. We are using Teach Your Child to Read again, and in three days we’ve done the first 16 lessons. It’s gotten a bit tougher now, so when he starts to get a little flustered I ask if he would like to stop for the day or take a break, even if we are right in the middle of the lesson. I don’t want him to dread this, I want it to be enjoyable and empowering for him. The time for sitting still and pushing oneself through difficult lessons will come later.

The only other subject I started this week was writing, using Copybook I from Memoria Press. Writing is proving to be more difficult for him, and we are moving much more slowly. For example, the first page is writing simple capital letters like “T” and “L”. That’s supposed to be one day’s worth of work, but we are having to go so slow that we just finished our third day, and he still hasn’t gotten to the “L” because he only seems to have enough interest in getting through one line of letter copying a day. Still, that’s fine though. I do not have firm plans for this first semester. My main goal is to have him on the road to reading, and other than that it’s time for us to learn about each other in the homeschool setting – finding out his limits, learning discipline, following my instruction, and just getting used to having this as a part of  our daily routine.

We finish the school day with a short bible story. I never know where to start with these, so I’m starting in the beginning. I’m using a children’s bible, so things are broken up nicely and appropriately edited. Each day I ask a few questions about the previous day’s reading, do a short review (because Kostya has inevitably forgotten most of what happened), and then read today’s and answer questions.

Yuri sits with us at the table, and so far hasn’t been a huge distraction. He wanted to nurse most of today, but for the past two days he has been content to sit with us and color in a coloring book (Kostya would have NEVER done this. He is still just not a coloring/craft kind of guy).

Next week I intend to introduce math, using Math U See Alpha. I believe Kostya has an interest and an aptitude for mathematics, so I’d like to see that at work. If that works and we can get a smooth(ish) schedule going, I would eventually like to add in poetry, music, and art before January, but that may be too much. We will see.

Christmas is almost here holy cow

I am no good at updating.

The boys are great and amazing. Kostya is growing and learning so much it makes me want to cry. He counts everything in sight, adds, and has actually just started multiplying very small numbers. The very first time he did it I nearly cried. It’s all been of his own interest, I haven’t lead any of it. He will come up to me and tell me, “If I have three groups of three, I have nine!” and then wander off to do something else. He’s also started asking me how to spell and sound out everything, so I think reading might be right around the corner. I know earlier I posted all my big plans for homeschooling, but as it is, he seems to be leading himself just fine, so I’ve taken a completely hands off approach about it, just making fun things available and addressing things as he asks. DH thinks we can keep this up for the next several years and not have to bother much with boxed curricula or anything. Sounds fine to me! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the last few months.

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Yuri is six months old now, can you believe it? He’s precious. He’s got a bit of a temper, and he’s a bit clingier than his brother was at this age. It’s fun to me to see the differences in personality develop. He’s a lot bigger than Kostya at this age. At the four month appointment, Kostya was 15 pounds and 25″. At Yuri’s four month check up, he was 18 lbs and 27″ tall! Here is the latest of him, taken on his half birthday.

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And a family picture!

I think that’s a pretty good looking group of people, yeah?

It’s been forever

Apparently momming two little boys is time consuming. Who would have thought? Kostya is taking a break from phonics because we hit a little wall, and I wanted to back off before it became a struggle. Yuri is four  months old now and huge and adorable (17 lbs and 27″ tall at the last appointment!).

 

Here’s the fam at a nursery recently. It’s so hard to get a family picture now that isn’t blurry or has everyone’s eyes open or someone isn’t doing something goofy. 10303995236_3b50493852_z

In crafting news, things are as slow as always. I did get one of the block of the month tops done, though.

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The other is about 85% pieced. I just need to finish the sashing and borders. My points aren’t perfect on either, but I’m  pretty pleased. After the brown and pink one is finished, I’ll need to switch my brain into quilting gear, because I’ve got what I imagine will amount to at least a year’s worth of quilting work before I get back to piecing again.

First Day of School

I have agonized and agonized for months trying to come up with a name for our school so I can make a separate blog for it, but the flash of inspiration hasn’t yet come (I’m secretly waiting for an idea as awesome as a fellow homeschool mom’s – Catapult Academy – “Flinging Our Children into the Future”).

But immediately after vowing I would wait another year to begin school for my dear Kostya, we started our official school year a few weeks ago. I’ve received a lot of advice from people to wait, and I understand their points – We don’t want to burn either of us out, we don’t want to make simple things a struggle. Kostya is just 3.5 and his most important work now is being a part of the family and play. I feel like with our simple schedule he still is, and the routine of having “school” every day has helped the flow of the entire household immensely, and I find we both feel more productive.

So, for our first semester of school, my primary focus is letter recognition and learning the sounds of basic phonograms. Kostya is a bright boy and so far things are going rather smoothly. We are also learning our prayers, and begin the day with them. Then I read aloud to him for a few minutes, and some days we play around with objects as I assess his math skills, since I’m considering adding a little bit of more formal math next semester (although I don’t know if it will really be anything more than what we are doing now).

These are all the texts I am using this semester. See? Not so much, and it still looks like more than we are actually doing. Our main phonics text is Teach Your Child to Read…, and I move as slowly as I need, sometimes breaking a lesson into two or repeating a lesson, particularly on Mondays after the weekend break. Alphaphonics is a supplement for when I feel like 100 Lessons is moving a bit too fast. We just sound out the words in the first few lessons. Kostya can sound out words well, but sound blending is still a little beyond, so he isn’t reading, just sounding it all out.

texts for fall 2013

texts for fall 2013

Then I read short Bible stories to him. The New Testament story book is actually a lovely find from my husband’s grandparent’s house. His late grandmother used to volunteer at a St Vincent de Paul thrift shop and would bring home things she liked, so when the estate was recently dissolved, I snatched this up. Each story is a small part of the life of Jesus, and each is no more than a page or two, perfect for Kostya’s short attention span. I don’t ask many questions, and I’m sure he isn’t absorbing much, but we will probably revisit this book soon when he’s older. Reading this book is as much for Kostya as it is for me to get into the habit of reading aloud.

Marshmallow Math is just simple guidelines for introducing simple math concepts for young children, from counting to ten, to twenty, one to one correlations, and simple addition and subtraction with fun items.

We begin each school day after breakfast with our prayers – An Our Father, three Hail Mary’s, a Glory Be, and one Fatima prayer. Kostya has the Glory Be memorized and says it with me, but we haven’t moved on to the other ones. He just listens for now (I say listens. Most mornings he’s running around or trying to stand on his head or jump off the table. It’s tough being three).

Tonight, since he’s starting his first class of Faith Formation class at church, so I thought it would be fun to take a picture!

First Day of School! 2013

First Day of School! 2013

Yuri, for his part, is completely unimpressed.

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Whew

I. Am. Exhausted. I feel like I shouldn’t be – I haven’t done a lot in the way of physical activity or anything, but I am so very tired.

Some general updates, since I don’t have any photos to share this time –

We closed on our house last Thursday, praise God. There were some hiccups, and I have to say not everyone involved in the process was entirely helpful. In fact, a few civil servants were decidedly unhelpful and delayed our progress by a few weeks. But it’s done! I learned a whole lot, and the majority of people we worked with *were* very helpful and in some cases did more than their job entailed to help us along towards our first home. I did take some pictures of the house, but in all of our moving, I have misplaced my camera. I will say that every day I visit the house (we aren’t living there yet – no bed!) I am more and more pleased. No buyers remorse or anything like that. It’s a small, but lovely home that was well kept and is essentially a blank slate, just waiting for our personal touches. I look forward to watching our sons grow up, gardening, and making the house a home.

I am more than 35 weeks pregnant and am enormous. I have a hard time getting around, getting out of cars, standing, sitting, or doing much of anything. I hope this baby is not like its brother, who came eight days past his due date, and is a little more punctual. That being said, I have less than five weeks to get the baby clothes sorted and washed, the cloth diapers where they need to be, and the baby room and our bedroom set up with the appropriate gadgets and gear. Luckily, we went through Kostya’s infancy with very little baby stuff, and I intend to do this one the same way, but I still need a few things that will help me along, since now I’ll have a three year old to contend with.

I don’t know how long it will take to get into a rhythm with this new one, but I do hope to have some sort of schedule by August or September. I have so many plans for the late summer and fall. I need to get my etsy shop rolling again, get a few garden things done like have James build my compost bin and one raised bed, get started on weeding the front yard and getting the fall garden bed cleared of jasmine. I would like to have a two -four week menu plan written, as well as a daily and weekly schedule so that come fall, I can do some very, very basic school stuff with Kostya (mostly just reading to him and getting him used to chores and work around the house) so that by next spring, we can make some small transitions towards school. He is bright and capable, and next spring, if he hasn’t taken the initiative to start already, I’d like to work with writing and some basic phonics. Maybe next fall we can start a little bit of kindergarten.

As for my sewing, I’m sad to say I haven’t done much in the past weeks at all. The machines are packed away, the fabric is put away in totes, and since I’m moving out of my Mother in Law’s house, I no longer have a sewing table. Before I can really get back into sewing and quilting I will need to get my own table to cutting and prepping, and several shelves and drawers for storage. Yuri (baby #2) will be coming right when I’d otherwise be getting to that, so all of my fun sewing seems to be months away and that makes me sad. The sewing for my etsy shop requires much less space and supplies, so I will hopefully get back to that this July.

Changing direction entirely – one of my blogging friends has nominated me for.. something. I’m not completely sure. It seems like a blogger meme sort of thing, and she’s asked for me to answer a few questions, so I will!

1.  How many jobs have you had and which did you like the most? – I have had two jobs outside the home. One was just for six weeks at my uncle’s floor tile business doing basic filing and cleaning. After that I worked for four years at Starbucks. I enjoyed it a great deal most of the time. I met my husband there and made some good friends. It’s been almost five years since then, and I have been a SAHW/M since then. I enjoy staying at home more than anything.

2.  What was your favorite school subject? I have always enjoyed science and mathematics. In fact, I went to a very good public college prep high school called The Science and Engineering Magnet High School, in Dallas, TX. I did quite well there and got a full scholarship to attend college. I got a little burned out during college, but I did manage to graduate, even if it was in History. I look forward to teaching my sons to value science and math, since so many school kids today seem overwhelmed and intimidated by them.

3.  What is number 1 on your bucket list? I honestly don’t have a bucket list. There are a lot of things I’d like to do ranging from travel to learning skills, but nothing seems to rise above anything else. I’d like to be a good mother and wife – one my family can look back and remember and think that I actually did try to take my vocation seriously (and maybe even succeed sometimes).

4.  What do you wish you had more time for? Right now? Honestly, sewing and quilting. I’m not a very good manager of my time, so I do waste a lot of it. I hope to do better as I get older, but right now those particular things seem to get moved aside when other things come up, and I find myself going weeks without doing much. It really is a creative release for me, but so many other things end up being more important. I know that once our move is completed and our second baby is born, I will be even more busy with the responsibilities of running a house, but I’ve discovered that the busier I am, the more efficient I am with my time, and I end up being able to do *more* than when I have a lot of free time.

5.  Do you collect anything and if you do what? Other than fabric I do not collect anything. As a child I had collections, but I have grown out of them. I do not like or really approve of collections for their own sake. I believe every thing we own should have a purpose and place, and I do my best to set aside any sentimentality towards things because they are just that. Otherwise it seems our things start to have a little control over us, and that is very disturbing for me. That’s not to say I feel nothing for anything I own. I do, but I always fight it. I have seen items and possessions become serious problems for people, and our Western materially wealthy lifestyle does nothing to help.

Homeschooling frustrations and I haven’t even started.

So, my little boy is three (well, in a few days). Which means of course that since he’s my oldest, and I am very excited about and have been looking forward to homeschooling since before he was conceived, I am READY TO START. Only, he’s not so ready. In fact, he is quite happy to completely ignore all of my advances on the coloring/alphabet singing/trying to just draw a straight line front and would rather sit in his sandbox for 18 hours in 40 degree weather. I KNOW, I KNOW, he’s a little boy. He’s only three. He is learning just fine in that sandbox and really, he doesn’t need to know more academically than he already does. I’m just really excited!!

It’s frustrating for me. I see moms all around me with their Mess O’ Kids, and they’ve either got a younger child who likes “playing school”, or they’ve accepted won’t play school and let them do whatever. I wonder how they got started with the first. I think Kostya would be more apt to want to do more schooly things with me if he had an old sibling or buddy. But he doesn’t. It’s just us most days, and the time we spend with our friends is for playtime.

I really do understand he has no need to sit down school time right now. I promise I do. Honestly, most of my desire to start some sort of routine is more for my own sake, since I tend to let his play time be time where I’m doing other things. It doesn’t help that despite my enthusiasm to start, I am completely unimaginative when it comes to crafts and activities. I sift through lists on pinterest and I think, “Oh goodness that looks messy” or “I’d never take the time to gather all those materials!” My kid craft stash consists of markers, crayons, clay, home made play dough (one of the few make at home for kids items I’ve actually attempted), some tempera paint (which I’ve never let Kostya touch), scissors and paper. Oh and stickers, but Kostya could not care less about stickers. Actually, he’s pretty unimpressed with everything excluding the play doh and clay. He doesn’t typically color, and if my husband does get him to color a bit (he’s much better at the get on the floor and do stuff than I am), it quickly turns into James drawing everything, with Kostya saying, “It’s your turn!” over and over.

But I’m determined. Even if we only get one measly little project done a week. So I’ve started compiling lists of resources with all the hard work already done. Most of these have been recommended to me, so I hope to sort through them as we move along.

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/level_1_lapbooks.php is a website with free lapbooks on a variety of subjects. I like the idea of lapbooks because since they are pretty much mini unit studies, we can focus on whatever it is Kostya seems to be interested in. And they are free. And all I have to do is print something out, and we can color, paint, count and talk about it together. I’m sure there are other more creative activities involved as well.

I’ve also grabbed the first three primers to the Explode the Code series, per recommendation of a friend with a young, active boy. She says her son loves these, so when Kostya seems interested, I’d like to try them. She’s also recommended Little Hands to Heaven, which looks like it could be a lot of fun. I don’t know really anything more about it, but I’ll keep reading.

Kostya will start his Faith Formation classes this fall at our parish, so I think that will probably be a good time for us to start. I could build off of what he learns in the class, and he *may* just start to get used to being able to sit still for more than four and a half seconds at a time. He will be six months older as well, so maybe more ready for this kind of stuff.

I’m also trying to think of a school name for us, but I’m at a complete loss. Something in Latin sounds too pretentious. I can’t think of anything clever using our name. I want our patron saint to be Saint Alfred the Great, patron saint of scientists, but I don’t know about using that in the school name. I’ll eventually start a blog just to log our schooling, but not until I can think of what to call it!

Pray for me. I’m nuts.

The Perot Museum + pictures (zomg finally!)

Today was our homeschool group’s schedule trip to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and before I go any further I will say – it was awesome. It was awesome and I didn’t even get to play with most of the stuff, because James and I spent most of our time trying to corral a super grumpy 3 year old. But the stuff we did get to see and play with (there are TONS of little exhibits and things to get your hands on) were really cool.

The day started out a little rough, though. It froze overnight, and then it rained, and then this morning there was a light powdering of snow. I’m sure for most of the country, this is no problem, but in Dallas, once that weird cold white stuff starts coming from the sky, all hell breaks loose. People usually go between two extremes – deciding that just being outside it just far too dangerous to risk and canceling everything (seriously, get just a hint of a slick spot on the road and the whole city shuts down, including schools, government buildings, and so on), or people decide that because they drive an F 350 they can still barrel down the road at 85 mph (encouraging more of us to decide to not risk it and stay at home). So there are wrecks everywhere, delays, people go nuts, and everyone freezes their bottoms off because only people from places where snow and ice are normal have any idea how to dress. As a native Dallasite, I have no idea how to dress. I just put on a lot of layers. I don’t even own a pair of gloves, and neither does my son, so when he wanted a snowball fight I had to scramble and find some socks and hoped he would give up before his fingers froze off.

seriously, this was all the snow we had.

seriously, this was all the snow we had.

Our original meeting time was 10am, but the roads were very backed up, so we postponed until noon. By noon, the roads were warm and a little wet at the very most, so we made good time. After the rest of the group showed up, Kostya grabbed his best friend Brianna’s hand and we took off toward the exhibits.

040We didn’t really go in any particular order, we just let the kids pick a floor and we followed, so we ended up in the middle of the museum on the technology and human sciences floor. There were a million little things to do, from guiding robots to building small buildings with magnets and completing circuits (and I’m sure more that I didn’t even see). Kostya is a small guy, and a lot of the activities were a bit above him, but he did find a few things he liked, like this activity where you build trails and roll little ping pong balls along them.

041There was a serious ball shortage though, and Kostya had some serious grumps when he had to share. We had to watch him, because he was a little ball hog.

My favorite exhibit was about the human body. I’ve always been so fascinated by stuff like this. I used to watch all the shows on TLC and Discovery Channel, back when they had science as part of their programming. 045 At first I thought these were just pictures or slides, but then I got up closer and realized that no, they were actually pieces of the person!046 Like, this is real human tissue! It was a little strange at first, thinking about the person that these bits of tissue and muscle used to be, but it was still so, so cool. I tried to get a decent close up so you could see the fibers and texture and things. This picture below is of a female heart, and the picture above is of an elderly man (also, my new camera is just so much better than my last). For the record, these people donated their bodies to science, so there aren’t any weird gross scary stories about them. 047Since the museum is located in Dallas, a good deal of the exhibits were dedicated to Texas wildlife, climate, ecology, and on other floors, economy and business (there was a large exhibit on the Barnett Shale).
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Of course, what museum would be complete without dinosaurs? At this point we split from the main group and headed up to the fourth floor to check out the dinosaurs of Texas exhibit. Take a look at this guy – he’s called an Alamosaurus, found in the southern areas of North America. Sorry the picture is so wonky, it was hard to get all of him in the picture at once. Dallas gets the Dallasauras, some kinda lame fish creature. 052 This was a little activity Kostya could do. There were different sized items in each section, and each section had a different tool to pick them up as a way to show the difference in the beaks of birds and how different beaks are specialized to pick up different foods. Kostya just likes picking things up and putting them in containers, so we sat at this for about 20 minutes until some other kids came up and wanted to play. 055

James, clearly having the time of his life.

James, clearly having the time of his life.

This is the third largest gold nugget in existence. I just thought it was cool. 060There was also a floor devoted to space, but at that point Kostya started melting down, so James and I didn’t get much of a chance to explore it. It looked great, though, and the next time we go we are getting a sitter for Kostya so we can go and see it all ourselves.

On the bottom floor they had sports exhibits and the children’s area. I was able to jump into the sports room really quick to see some boys race a T Rex. Part of me wants to try it out (when I’m not pregnant), but I also think it might give me nightmares, because death by T Rex is actually on my list of Ridiculous but Actual Fears. 062 The Children’s area was pretty neat. They had a few animals to look at, a mini farmer’s market where the kids could see where produce came from and pretend to shop, a skyline playground, and a water area. Kostya wasn’t interested in anything but the water area. He has always, always enjoyed pouring water (and sand during warmer weather), even from the time he was very small and just able to hold things. We stayed here for at least a half hour, and all he did was pour water. 066 I wonder what kinds of activities he and I can do that can capitalize on this intense interest for him, and what we can build on as far as homeschooling and lessons as he gets older. Maybe he’s got a future in fluid dynamics and engineering, yeah?067

After we left, we had lunch at Chick Fil A and let Kostya play in the play area a bit, and then we headed home. I had more plans for the day, but most of that was just cleaning and straightening up, but I was more tired than I thought, so when I sat down at six I just passed out for a solid two hours. Kostya is still going strong, despite the fact that his crankiness never abated and he’s a bit of a nightmare right now (he’s never been a napper. I couldn’t get him to sleep if I strapped him to a bed).