Friday, August 28, 2015

movie and mittens

One of my homeschooling goals is that Elizabeth finish her work in roughly 4 days each week which will enable us to reserve one day per week for field trips or other enrichment. In our first week of homeschooling, Elizabeth finished her week’s work by noon on Thursday. When I asked about her thoughts for Friday, she responded that she’d like to watch Boy in the Striped Pajamas since she’d recently finished the book.

When I read Boy in the Striped Pajamas over the summer, I wasn’t overly impressed. The notion that a boy in the midst of Hitler youth would be that na├»ve and innocent in his surroundings didn’t ring true for me. In addition, the use of Out-With (a combination of English words) as a pronunciation substitution for Auchwitz (a German name) drove me to distraction. I finished the book, gave it 2 stars on Goodreads, placed my copy in the Little Free Library outside, then moved on to greener pastures. I don’t think I even mentioned it to my kids.

Elizabeth discovered it in the LFL, and I found her reading it one afternoon. She seemed engrossed so I didn’t share my opinion. Of course, she became enraptured with it, finished it, and placed it on her “permanent collection” bookshelf. She wasn’t thrilled with the vagueness of the ending, but she found the child’s perspective of the Holocaust intriguing. She also recognized Bruno’s natural love and friendship toward others, regardless of heritage, as endearing. I think despite her fondness for Bruno, she appreciated the karmic payback received by his father.

Isn’t it fascinating how an adult reader and a child reader can see such different sides of the same book?

As for the movie, I found it more tolerable, without the insufferable “Out-With” references, and the mother’s and grandmother’s disapproval translating into Bruno’s naivety seemed more believable. Rarely do I appreciate a movie more than a book, but this was one of those cases.

As for the mittens, they don’t particularly tie into this post except that I finished them while we watched Boy in the Striped Pajamas today. I’m more than ready for cooler weather to allow me to test them. The pattern is Detour Mittens, available for free on Ravelry. I knit them in City Tweed, Tahitian Pearl. At first I wasn’t sure about the pointy tips on the mittens, but the elvish look has rather grown on me. I might be in love with these tweedy mitts!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

a new year

A new school year is upon us. Paulie, Philip, and Finn are back in their respective high, middle, and elementary schools in 10th, 7th, and 3rd grades this year. School is now underway, and we are settling into familiar routines. Except Elizabeth. She's feeling her way through a new routine this year as she homeschools for 9th grade.

The feedback when you decide to homeschool a highschooler is interesting. "Really?! Why?!" "What about math?" "Won't she miss the socialization?" Ok, maybe those responses aren't so different as when you announce that you intend to homeschool at other ages, but the underlying question that many seem to hedge is, "aren't you afraid of spending THAT much time with your teen?" The basic answer to all of those questions is this: I not only love her because she's my daughter; I like her too. She's witty, curious, and engaging. She's had a great educational foundation and enjoys learning. She's a motivated kid who likes to check things off lists, which means no nagging from me. She already has deep connections to many friends. She will volunteer, take art classes, take violin lessons, and find other ways to "socialize" if we find that lacking over the year. As for math...thank goodness for Sal Khan.

Since the ever-burning question from other homeschooling parents is generally curriculum related, I'll post a list of our resources below:

English: I'm making my own literature curriculum supplementing with resources online. We started with Tom SawyerBrave Writer will stand in the gap for writing.
Math II: Khan Academy (following the basic Common Core Integrated Math II)
Earth Science: CK12 Earth Science for High School, supplementing with YouTube, online activities, and projects
PE: 4-6 week units as Elizabeth chooses, right now she's doing yoga and stretches
Art: assignments that tie into her other classes as well as classes through our local art school

A few other things worth noting, I'm trying to keep a week or two ahead on planning, which will allow me to adjust as needed. Teachers Pay Teachers has fantastic resources, some free, for nearly every subject. I've already downloaded many of their resources to tie into other curricula we're using. YouTube is your friend. There are videos on EVERYTHING out there! Netflix too. I'm sure as we continue I'll find things that work better and not as well. I'll try to keep you posted as we go along!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summers end

13 months.
That's how long it has been since I visited this space. A year full of beginnings and endings.

Among other things:
Paulie began high school.
Elizabeth finished her final year at her K-8 arts school.
Philip began middle school.
Finn began guitar lessons.
Paulie began marching band.
We each grew a year older.

Just this summer, we visited with friends at Hanging Rock,

Finn participated in music camp,

Finn and I visited family in Philadelphia (and met a new niece!),

the kids and I hiked the top of Pilot Mountain,

Finn lost a plethora of teeth and went to camp,

Elizabeth and I summited Mt. Evans outside Denver,

we fed large animals at Lazy 5 Ranch,

and we spent a week at the beach with friends.

I'm unsure how often I'll be in this space. I was relieved to let go of the pressure of blogging last summer, and I'm happy to be back now, in whatever capacity I feel works for me. Stay tuned later this week for details of new endeavors we're embarking on this year.