Monday, October 27, 2008

car wash

I can't believe it's October 27th and we are still doing summer activities like playing car wash.  Where are you fall?  This is when living in California can be a little disappointing... no seasons!

school updates

I think I'll just run through this update in the order we do school each day.  That way, I won't forget anything (yeah, right...)
1.  Bible:  We start off each morning with Jason and Cameron reviewing their Sparks and Cubbies books.  Currently, Jason is learning the books of the New Testament and Cameron is cracking up at the hilarious escapades of Cubbie Bear, Luv E. Lamb, Ern E. Elephant and Gigi Giraffe.  She just earned a patch last week after three weeks of refusing to tell her handbook leader the verse she has known for about a month.  We are also reading through Genesis (not in a kid's Bible) this has lead to many uncomfortable conversations ("mom, what's circumcision?"  "Why did they lay together?").  And finally, Jason is reading through The Beginner's Bible.  He can't believe they just skipped from Jonah all the way to the birth of Jesus ("mom, they left out so much!").
2.  History:  Our study of Ancient Egypt was a hit.  Abraham the mummy was quickly wrapped up in linen clothes the day his fruit fly friends made an appearance.  We are now moving on to a quick survey of other ancient cultures such as Greece and India.  Soon we'll be comparing flood myths from various cultures to the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible.
3.  Language Arts:  We finished reading Mountain Born (kind of a downer) and have moved on to Henry Huggins ( a Beverly Cleary classic, much more fun).  Jason continues to rock his weekly spelling words list and his handwriting is improving.  Most importantly his attitude about handwriting is improving as I make a conscious effort to praise him for doing things well, even the things that he doesn't like doing.  I can see his chest puff up a bit and he smiles when I tell him that doing well on handwriting is more impressive to me than doing well in math, because for him, handwriting is more difficult than math.  We continue to survey the way language comes together to make stories as we work on punctuation, parts of a story and descriptive writing.
4.  Math:  Like I mentioned earlier, Jason likes math because it comes easy to him.  He has finished his first workbook and is moving on to the second.  We review addition and subtraction flashcards (alternating weekly) because I want his math facts to be solid before we move on.  I looked ahead in the workbook and discovered that they introduce multiplication this year.  I think we'll slow down a bit (this program has a fast pace) and really drill the facts for a while.  The book also has him thinking about weights and measures, comparisons and money.
5.  Science:  We have finally finished our last science experiment with water and we're moving on to magnets!  I thought I be cleaning up water spills forever!  We're also learning about different animal classifications and their unique features (translated into little boy language:  cool stuff about bugs and reptiles!).
6.  PE and art:  We take a break every morning around 10 to go for a walk around the neighborhood.  Jason usually rides his scooter and Cameron has decided that she is no longer interested in riding in the stroller, but must run.  This was pretty surprising to me the first time she did it, but then I reminded myself that this is the girl who jumps on her trampoline for 20-30 minutes a day, she can handle a half-mile run!  We also use the backyard for baseball practice and the kids are slowly learning that it's much quicker if they shag balls for mom rather than waiting the 20 minutes it takes me to bend down, pick up a ball and stand up again.  My belly makes it difficult to do simple things like tie shoelaces or pick up toys off the floor!  Our artwork includes a lot of painting and drawing.  Jason is getting more detailed and fills out entire notebooks with his street scenes.  (Christmas gift hint: real artist sketchpads, colored pencils and pastels).

So, as you can see school is moving along nicely.  Our mornings are very full and afternoons are set aside for play.  I like the efficiency of homeschooling for a boy of this age because in a traditional classroom setting he would be limited by the business of being orderly and quiet.   I really think he needs time in his day just to be a boy and discover things on his own (even if that means getting into mischief!). 

Friday, October 17, 2008

big week in homeschooling

We had a big week in homeschooling so I thought I'd give a report on all that went on in our school. On Monday afternoon I had an appointment in San Luis for my last ultrasound so the kids and I packed up the car and made a quick stop at Mission San Miguel before we left town. Jason has been begging to have a look around so I finally made time for a visit. The mission is basically in ruins because of the San Simeon earthquake of 2003. Construction has begun on restoring the chapel so there is very little to see. Jason liked the displays of the kitchen, dining room, bedroom and living room that the friars would have used in the 1700's. He also saw the way they made paint to decorate the mission (exactly how he made paint last week when studying ancient Egypt). He marveled at the way adobe keeps the buildings so cool and the efficiency of tile roofing that lasts for so long and keeps water out by using the over/ under pattern. We studied a book called Houses and Homes earlier in the school year and he learned how people all over the world make homes from variations of mud, dirt, sand and water. On our way to San Luis he drew a picture in the car of an adobe building with a tile roof, and if I may brag it looked great!
The ultrasound revealed that the baby is still a girl, so even though I don't feel like I'm carrying a girl, I have to muster up girl-like feelings. So here's a 4-D picture of Hayden (still don't have a middle name) Rusco. Use your skills from those Magic Eye books that are collecting dust on your shelves.
Since we were in San Luis anyway, Darren took us over to the mission. Now here is a mission that gets some attention. Because they hold services and have a private school this mission is beautifully maintained. On our way home Jason and I talked about all the bells lined up along the freeway and the name El Camino Real (the king's road or the royal highway). Next time you're driving on the 101 with Jason he'll point out every bell to you (sorry...). By the way history buffs, how far apart is each bell and how much did it cost to put them up?
We visited the library here in San Miguel on Thursday. Even though it is tiny, it's nice to have a different variety of books to check out. Our school program schedules light book work on Fridays because it also schedules science experiments on Fridays. So today we studied hydro-power and made our own water wheel. We also wrapped up Abraham in his burial linens because he was starting to attract fruit flies. As soon as all the glue dries we can decorate his sarcophogus and bury him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

look who's 3!

Yes, today is the big 3 for Cameroo! Although, we aren't really making a big deal out of today because it would be very confusing for her. We had a party Saturday night with both sets of grandparents, so in her mind, that was it. Here are a few pictures of the birthday girl in her birthday crown, with her Rocket cake and opening her presents. Condolences go out to Darren and Dad who will forever be sharing their birthday party with Cameron. Good thing pink cake is strawberry flavored and so yummy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

end of the first quarter!

Last Friday we finished our first quarter of school. We were about a week behind what I had originally planned, but with the move and our retreat at Hume Lake, I think only a week behind schedule is pretty good! We continue to study Ancient Egypt. Today, Jason learned to do math like an Egyptian using symbols instead of numbers. It's very similar to Roman numerals. Abraham continues to decay on my kitchen counter. We can't wait until he's fully dehydrated! Meanwhile, Jason has searched the pantry to find other dehydrated foods because his science experiments have been about hydrating and dehydrating. Today, after I dismissed Jason from school he went in his room to play K'nex. He came out a few minutes later to proudly show off his pyramid. As I typed he is adding a passageway and burial chambers. It's nice to have these moments when you can see your efforts pay off and learning and play become interchangeable. ****Homeschooling tip**** For the parent who has a preschooler underfoot-- learn to love play-dough. I know, it's messy, the colors get mixed up, it gets under your fingernails, it smells funny.... but the thing is, it keeps kids busy. And it's a good kind of busy, especially when they have tools to use to manipulate the dough. And also, it doesn't hurt to give them an activity that is messy because it makes them feel like they are secretly getting away with something they shouldn't be doing. Learn the mantra, "everything is washable". Because it is... set up a sandbox, get out the paints or markers and use the playdough. Happy, busy preschoolers make for a quiet morning for the school aged kid!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So we finally started the big mummy project. We've been working our way through history and have finally arrived at Ancient Egypt. Last week Jason was creating secret messages for us by using hierogylphics and also making paint the Egyptian way, from rocks. This week we started preserving Abraham, our mummy. Abraham is an unfortunate fellow who is made of two apples. He was cleaned with rubbing alcohol, sprinkled with cinnamon and finally covered in natron (baking soda and salt). He will be sitting out on our counter for a few weeks, or until he has completely dried out (or as long as I can stand to have him around). He will then be wrapped in linens and buried in a sarcophogus. Here are a few pictures of the process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

hello fall!

We welcomed the beginning of fall with two very fun traditions: crafts and the pumpkin patch. For our fall project last week we collected leaves, crushed them and then glued them to our watercolor trees. And just to make the trees a little interesting we used straws to blow our black paint into tree shapes. Fun stuff.
Today we went to Avila Valley Barn with our homeschool group to pick pumpkins. It is very fun because we get to go on a hayride to the pumpkin patch, eat apples and be with our friends! Here are a few pictures of the kids and their friends.