Sunday, December 21, 2014

Learning Notes XIV & a Mid Year Review

I apologize in advance for the length of this post. Although it is only for the week of December 7th, it was a busy week. 

It has been a busy two weeks. The extent that schoolwork was done was basically 3 math lessons by Cecilia the previous week. Other than an astronomy lesson, we are all caught up in our schooling, which, considering the last few months, is downright miraculous in my opinion. Between packing, moving, unpacking and a new baby, we could be so very behind and yet we aren't.

We are, however, a bit burned out. I know I am fried and these last few months have been somewhat stressful for the kids as well. So... I have been thinking about how we have been doing school and and I've decided to make a few changes for the remainder of our school year.

First, we are ditching our poetry book and our latin book. Latin, poetry and music will be, for everyone, learning the Salve Regina, which obviously will benefit religion as well. But it is a beautiful prayer, in Latin, that is usually, although not always, sung and we pray/sing it every Sunday at our parish Mass. It will give us a break from the bookwork but we will still be learning some Latin, singing, memorizing, and becoming better prepared for Mass on Sundays.

Second, we are dropping our vocabulary and phonics books and just going to read more - read aloud, read together, read separately, just read. We finally got to the local library and will try to make it a regular event (although I'm not nearly as impressed with it as I was with our previous one... 3 stacks of videos in the kids section is simply not very helpful to me). As much as am loathe to admit it, over the last few months the kids, all of them, have had far too much screen time and become far too used to it. Even though we don't have cable, the time spent playing video games or watching DVDs or Netflix is simply too much. To remedy that, I want to up our reading time and more reading time will be easier and more relaxing if we aren't trying to do too much. And the phonetics and vocabulary should come naturally in our read alouds. (I'm actually hesitant to drop the vocabulary book because it has sparked some great conversations, questions, and learning opportunities, but we will see how it goes and I can always add it back in if need be.)

And finally, I'm ditching Cecilia's handwriting book and she will write a letter each week - to a friend, to a pen pal, to a relative... I don't care, but to someone. She honestly doesn't need the book anymore. She has been doing script for over a year now and it looks pretty good. She just needs practice and we might as well make that more fun where she can write what she would like and maybe get some mail at the same time.
Yes, he desperately needed a diaper change but he fell asleep before I could do it.
I would like to start delving even more into history but it will be hard to go too too deep this spring considering we are approaching the middle of these 20th century and they are still a bit young for too much detail on some of those horrors. Again though, as we are all a bit fried from the past 6 months, it might be just as well the Spring is easier and we do our deeper delving in the Fall. The gears in my head are already turning for next year's history though. I would also rather teach them all their English myself together but I don't know if that would work for this Spring as their English books seem to have been doing different things in a different order, but I'm also thinking about ditching the books and teaching them English myself next year. I still have some time to ponder that as we will be sticking to the books for the remainder of this year.

Anyway, with or without school, learning continues and we have been very busy the past two weeks. On Tuesday, December 9th, we drove up to Holy Hill, a beautiful Basilica and Shrine northwest of Milwaukee. The primary reason was for James and I to be able to go to Confession before Christmas but during the day on a weekday. We had never been before though and it was really beautiful.
 It is dedicated to Mary Help of Christians and the mosaics and stained glass windows are absolutely beautiful.

 The highlight is a Marian Chapel off to the side of the main basilica with this statue. It was made in the mid1800s and many miracles have been attributed to praying before it. It is said that the Blessed Mother offers her Beloved Son to those who kneel before her.

All these have been left just outside the chapel doors by those who have been healed kneeling before the Blessed Mother. 
Brigid before a very beautiful and unique altar. 
The altar says O Rafix Jesse along the bottom. Abraham sleeps on the bottom left corner and the ribbons flowing from him list the Old Testament Patriarchs. In the center, beneath a crown, is David.

"...Our life, our sweetness and our hope..."

A small side chapel to the Sacred Heart:

On Thursday, December 11th, we had our first Wisconsin play date at someone else's house. Cecilia and Thomas stayed home but Felicity, Elizabeth and Teresa and Brigid had a good time. The family lives in a 100 year old farm house. They have four pet birds, a pet corn snake, a big bouncy pet mutt named Lucy and an outdoor cat named Links. They also keep ducks and chickens but it was the cat Teresa took to. In fact she adored her, wouldn't put her down and even tried to put her in our car. Amazingly, Links took it all in stride and never fought back once. Against Teresa that is quite impressive. Not anytime too soon, but perhaps one day we will need to consider a pet cat.

On Frday, December 12th, my parents arrived and we all went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse and then to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum. Thank goodness my parents bought us a membership because the kids absolutely loved it! Here is Elizabeth riding a motorcycle...
Felicity looks ready for her own motorcycle. LOL. Yeah, right!

And My dad shows Teresa how to operate the bus...

And then how to ride the motorcycle...
Cecilia took over the bakery in the food store...
While Felicity became the official bus driver and Elizabeth her first passenger...
Everyone got into it...

Then Teresa took up at the Real Estate Office making phone calls. 
And with Teresa off the bus, Brigid took over...
She really loves that bus!

Elizabeth became the town mail person...She ran all over the place delivering laminated envelopes and asking people to send reply mail.
The Pocket Park section had slides and a rooftop garden where the kids could either velcro fruit to little trees or deliver them down the shoot to a basket.

There was also a block play garden, projected pond you could hop in and even a sandbox I was thrilled was empty. :)

They all had an absolute ball playing roles of the various jobs around the town and pretending to have a rooftop garden, slides and buttons galore. There was also a special exhibit on the 50 states based on the Trivial Pursuit game that lead to a ball maze, which I had to climb into to get Brigid out of when it was time to go. We spent 2 hours there and they have been begging to go back.

Apparently Grandpa needs to hit up the bank. 

1 comment:

  1. The photos of the Basilica are gorgeous. All those crutches! I have 7 boys and 1 girl, so reading your notes is like a peek into a foreign country for me ;-) Thank you for sharing!