Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sissy's Second Grade Year Post #1

 We made the decision to bring Sissy back home this year after her one year in public school. We aren't homeschooling her because we don't like public school (although I'm growing impatient by the day with many of the ridiculously parented kids at Dash's school). We are supportive of all school settings and choices. This is just one avenue that seems to make the most sense for her right now, and we are so happy having her at home again. There are specific reasons that homeschooling works best for Sis, and we have been having a successful second grade year.

Tampa airport
 Her first week of school was technically the last part of the month we spent traveling in Eastern Europe. No one was more excited about traveling than this girl. The preparation and anticipation was so exciting for her.
waiting on our double decker
bus for our Riga tour to begin
 Riga was great to explore, and my girl was ready for sightseeing everyday. She was the one who always wanted to get out and roam with me, even when the others were tired and weary. She and I especially loved walking the mile regularly to a raw vegan restaurant and back. And no matter who was walking down our five flights of stairs to get a few items from Rimi, the grocery store on our block, she excitedly piped in, "Can I go?"
 ziplining for the first time
 She loves sweets so much and was overjoyed by the cotton candy that was almost as big as she is. Mezaparks was a great place to take kids near Riga.

Back to School
 We returned from our big trip on a Saturday night and fought through our jet lag to start our studies that week. I welcomed her second grade year with these treats.

We decided to have a back to school party, and I let her choose the theme. She picked "butterflies."

Field Trip
 I wasn't sure which homeschool co-op to choose because there are so many around here. I did want to join one, though, because it hasn't been easy making friends in Florida. We picked a winner! It is led by fabulous moms, and they have organized fun field trips for us. We went to the fire station one day.

 I don't know why (after a few of these field trips over the years) visiting the fire station is always so fascinating for me, but it is. I just think it's so cute the way there are bedrooms and a living room and kitchen, etc. One of the new things we learned about were these very expensive thermal imaging cameras to see through the dark and smoke.

 And I just feel teary-eyed at how their jobs consist entirely to help people and save lives. One of the men giving us our tour talked about just how brave and amazing the firefighters are who are also trained as medics. (This brings up the memory of a big firefighter holding my little one year old Dash, post seizure, in my living room.) They're always right there, available at a moment's notice to assist in emergencies. In fact, they got a call while we were there, and our tour was cut a little short. The alarm went off, they said, "We've got to go!" We got to watch them hurry into their trucks and head out.

 This is one of her learning days at co-op. She is taking 3 classes, Five in a Row (which is a literature based class), Science, and American History, once a week. Her teachers are FABULOUS. They spend a lot of time preparing for the classes. Here she is making layered banana pudding after reading Caps for Sale.

On Cops and Robbers Day, they made dog ears for Angus Lost.
Crystal Springs Preserve
 We also join our fellow co-op members once a month for a class at Crystal Springs Preserve. This is a beautiful place at a spot on the Hillsborough River.
This particular class was an aquifer study.
Here we were watching the water in the
spring bubble up through the sand.
magnifying her river finds and classifying them
Out and About

homeschooling one day with tea and
breadsticks at downtown Pizza Fusion

 One day she got to meet up with a sweet friend she made in Latvia! This friend is actually from Delaware, and she was on vacation with her family in Orlando. We went bowling at Downtown Disney and to Rainforest CafĂ©.
American Girl Club
 Another activity she is involved in this year is an American Girl book club, which meets once a month. She and I read a book together, then they meet up to discuss the book and enjoy related craft and food activities. We've read all Samantha books, so far.
Book Buddies
  She also attends another book club once a month. The books she has read include: Dear Levi: Letters from the Oregon Trail, The Queen's Smuggler: William Tyndale, and Rickshaw Girl. This is a paper "rickshaw" she decorated, based on popular rickshaw art in Bangladesh.

"Home" School
earlier in the year, working on blends
and place value
I love being with my girl.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Summer Activities Post #4

 The best part of our summer was our trip to Arkansas and Missouri. Ryan had to be in Arkansas for his job, so we joined him.
It was really great hanging out at my parents' pool,
and it was made even greater sharing the fun with aunts and cousins.

 We felt like we were staying at a resort.
Meanwhile, the kids each got to attend a camp during one of the weeks we were there. Sis attended Around the World Art Camp and...
Triple Threat Camp, which culminated in their performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We love Blackbird Academy.

Dash spent his mornings at Lego Robotics Camp. So cool!

I don't have a photo to use of Tornado at Camp Connect, but here are a few of his crafts he made. This is a camp for special needs (mainly autism and related) kids. He attended two years ago and had talked about it ever since. I was really happy he got to go again, and so was he. He won the "Happy-Go-Camper Award" for always being "cheerful and happy, even when he hurt his leg." It's the exact award I would have wanted him to win.
Sis and her BFF were so happy to be reunited. Her friend brought her this Build-a-Bear shirt from her recent trip to England, and it fit Sadie quite nicely. The girls got to play with each other a few times, making up for lost time. Dash has also gotten to know her older brother, and now the two of them are able to join in on the playdates, too.
We got to hang out with a few of our other Arkansas friends - definitely not enough of them, though. It's so hard to see everybody we want to see during our visits. :( We had a great time hanging out at the pool with these guys.

Ryan had to leave Arkansas to head to Georgia for a few days. While he was there, we were in Missouri, staying with my brother and his family. My aunt joined us for our visit, which was great. We also met up with my uncle, grandma, and family friends, so we were able to squeeze in as much as possible. At my brother's, there was a lot of this kind of stuff going on.

And a lot of this. O is one patient older cousin. He's one of the greatest kids I've ever met. All of my nieces and nephews are!

We even experienced an early morning fire alarm incident which resulted in a lot of laughs (after the all clear was given) and...

...turns sitting in the fire truck!

While we were in Missouri, we finally got to experience the Askinosie Chocolate Tour in Springfield. We love factory tours! This is Tornado, tasting cocoa nibs.

We really enjoyed it!

We also had a great day at Crane Park with some of my best friends from highschool and some of their kids.

It was just the kind of day I had been needing, and I was so happy to share a little of my old world with my kids.
I was also thrilled to get to watch two of my nephews play ball.

I HATE missing out on their lives,
being so far away.

I got to soak in as much delight as I could while I was there.

 These girls got a hold of my phone.

 And one particular almost-teenage girl wouldn't let me get her photo here.
During our stay in MO, somehow Little Brother developed a bad case of hives. I still have no idea what caused this. It looked so bad, poor guy; none of my kids have ever done this before. We made a quick trip to urgent care to rule out any possible bad causes.
Then it was back to Googie and Papaw's house for a day or two more of fun,

before heading back to Florida until next time.
We can't wait to visit again.