Thursday, January 24, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal - January 24th

In my life this past week…

We celebrated Olivia's 10th birthday on January 18th by spending part of the day at Richardson Nature Center and the Mall of America.

Owl at Richardson Nature Center.
It has to be in captivity because someone raised it and 
it is imprinted on humans now.

In addition to going on a couple of rides, having lunch, and visiting the American Girl store, we saw the ice castle at the Mall of America - the main reason that Olivia wanted to go there this year.

One of the sculptures at the ice castle.

In our homeschool this week…

We have been catching up on poetry study (Rudyard Kipling) and artist study (Claude Monet).

Painting by Monet that Sophia and Olivia saw 
at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

We also have been doing some nature journaling and learning about different animals (e.g., squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits).

One of the squirrels that we saw at the Richardson Nature Center.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Sophia and Olivia have been using Rod & Staff for their math curriculum since Kindergarten. It has been a good fit so far for Sophia who has tested at 1 1/2 years above grade level, but not for Olivia. Both girls, though, are hands-on learners so I have been looking for a math curriculum that has more real-life, tangible learning.

Sophia's Math Book
Rod & Staff student workbook.

I also want something that is consistent with Charlotte Mason's philosophy since that seems to be - at this stage of our homeschooling - the predominant philosophy that I follow.

Even though it's a bit of a challenge to change curricula after many years, sometimes it needs to be done to better meet the needs of the child/student. To me, that's one of the many benefits of homeschooling: being able to change and adapt one's methods and tools to better reach a child in her learning journey.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

I am going to a women's retreat this weekend which I'm looking forward to attending. There is a keynote speaker as well as three break-out sessions. The keynote speaker will be talking about "whole-hearted connection." Part of the description said that her talk will draw on Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability; and will explore ways to awaken compassion, to risk bringing one's whole self forward, and to open one's
heart to a deeper connection with others.

There's another session called "Courage and Change: Creating the Good Life." This one focuses on the fact that life transitions are inevitable even though we resist them. The speaker will focus on how to find ways around the obstacles people encounter along the way.

Another session I want to go to focuses on a panel of Unitarian Universalist women who share tales of courage from their lives and what they learn. It's focused on the inspiration that comes from hearing our own stories of the strength of the human spirit.

My favorite thing this week was…

Spending time outside on January 18th when it was 39 degrees (before the cold spell hit), and being able to enjoy the ice castle.

Looking at the top of the ice castle towards the sky.

I liked seeing the various shades of blue of the ice against the beautiful blue sky.

What’s working for us…

We've been trying new recipes that are:
=> part of the Five in a Row curriculum that Olivia is doing;
=> from the Eating Your Way through the U.S.A. that's part of the Cantering the Country curriculum that both the girls are doing; and
=> from Japan and Korea and tie into the Eastern hemisphere curriculum that Sophia is doing through Sonlight.

A Japanese salad that we made.

Things I’m working on…

I am filing everything in my office that I hadn't since the holidays began back in November. November 17- January 18 marks the busiest time of the year with:

=> the anniversary of Olivia's and Sophia's adoption days (November 17th and November 26th respectively)
=> Thanksgiving
=> St. Nicholas Day
=> St. Lucia Day
=> Las Posadas
=> Christmas Eve
=> Christmas Day
=> Sophia's birthday
=> New Year's Day
=> Olivia's birthday

This time period also included the one year anniversary of my father's death (January 5th), and Gretel dying unexpectedly (January 12th). Needless to say, it is a bittersweet time with the excitement and happiness of the various holidays and special days...mixed with the sadness of death, loss, and grief.

So, now that all these days and the business of this time period has passed, I finally have everything filed and now can begin working on taxes. My goal is to have everything to the CPA by February 10th.

I'm reading...

A variety of books for the spiritual growth program I'm doing at church. The focus for the past and upcoming weeks is on Buddhism, so I have read some interesting books including It's Easier than You Think - The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein and Lovingkindness - The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.

The next subject is transcendentalism and two books I that I'll be reading are American Transcendentalism by Philip Gura and Searching for Thoreau - On the Trails and Shores of Wild New England by Tom Slayton.

I’m cooking…

Olivia said she wanted a "tiger cake" for her birthday, so the picture below shows what I came up with.

Tiger cake that I made.

I also have been trying to use up what is in the cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer in an effort to transition to a real foods/whole foods diet. Basically, the goal is to get away from processed food; and make all the meals from scratch using ingredients that are pronounceable and don't contain chemicals.

The last time that I went shopping, the majority of the food that I purchased had one ingredient listed on the ingredient list which is what I aiming for (e.g., olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, raisins, black beans).

I’m grateful for...

Getting through the cold weather. Seeing -16F as the temperature and -30F to -40F for windchill temperatures is not my idea of good weather.

It was particularly difficult on Bailey and Hoss (the pony and miniature horse) even though they have the barn to be in to escape the bone-chilling wind.

Bailey's Eye and Forelock
Bailey's eye and forelock.

The extra hay, grain, and fresh water - as well as extra layers of wood chips for bedding - got them through this challenging weather.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

"Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." (Albert Einstein)


Our Side of the Mountain said...

Wow! Interesting about the Mall of America Ice Castle! That looks pretty cool! What a cute cake! You did a great job! I bake a lot, but I never never been a good cake maker or decorator. I'll leave it to my oldest son! Love his dark chocolate cake with PB frosting. Yum! Anyway, I hear you on the cold! Poor animals! We've been as low as -12 (without windchill). It's slowly warming! We're supposed to hit 20 for a high today! :)

Lisa said...

The ice castle looks absolutely beautiful. Wow! :-) You did a great job on the cake. Very nice! Hope your weekend retreat was meaningful and refreshing!

tikvah73 said...

Oh, I would love to the see the Ice castle. We haven't been to the Mall of America in years. I just remember walking forever lol. Beautiful pictures too!

A Learning Journey said...

My daughter loves the owl photograph! The cake is cool! I love baking but haven't had a lot of time lately. Hoping for a break soon.