Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Memory Work

Last night I finally finished up the memory work for this year for the elementary kids in Rivendell!  We're going to be focusing a lot on U.S. history.  Before the trip I finished everything but the mapwork, so I finally got the mapwork all divided up and typed up last night.  Since we're focusing on the U.S., a lot of the mapwork involves landforms and rivers of the U.S., as well as the states and capitals.  There's also some review of Europe, since we spent so much time on that last year, and some time for South America and Africa as well.

For the Bible part, we're memorizing Isaiah 53 first, and then Revelation 5.  I love how these 2 passages flow together--the suffering servant/lamb, and then you see the lamb glorified in Revelation!  I memorized Rev. 5 back in 4th grade, although in the KJV, which is so very poetic.  It will hard to get my brain to memorize it in NIV!

For the timeline part, we're once again reviewing the 32 point timeline with dates that we started with 2 years ago.  This time we're taking 4-6 points a week, since the kids do know it pretty well, especially the older ones.  It will be a good review.  Then we're reviewing the kings and queens of England by house, which we memorized last year.  I know those aren't cemented in yet!  And then we'll work on memorizing the presidents.  I memorized those also back in 4th grade by learning them in groups of 3, so that's how we'll do it here, except we'll do 6 a week.  I also have a story-like thing I made up for Classical Conversations to help the kids remember, so we'll use that too.

For science facts, we're back to life science ones.  I changed some of them from 2 years ago, and I think the ones I left are ones that it is important to cover again.

For the poems part, we're not doing so many actual poems this year, but rather some other selections dealing with U.S. history that are important to know.  We're starting off with the Preamble to the Constitution, then a few stanzas of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."  Then we'll learn 3 stanzas of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (#'s 1, 2, and 4--that qualifies as a poem, right?!).  After Christmas break we'll work on a simplified version of the Bill of Rights, and then "The Charge of the Light Brigade".  That one is not U.S. history, but we cover it in TOG, and it's such a fun poem, especially for boys!  Then we end with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

So that seems like a lot, but it is completely doable, especially since some of it is review from previous years.  For recitation last year I had to make copies of the poems from the first year because the kids often wanted to recite those instead of ones we were doing currently!  I love that these things are sticking in the their memories; hopefully filling their minds with good selections will bear good fruit later on, as well as helping them learn to memorize new things quickly and effectively, which is such an important skill for college and beyond!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Today we had our first biology class of the year.  It's for Rivendell, although we haven't actually started the other Rivendell classes yet.  I'm starting early so I can take the whole time between Thanksgiving and New Year off, since, you know, I am having another baby, LOL.  I'm getting bigger so I KNOW I'm having another baby, but sometimes it seems like pregnancy sort of gets lost in the madness and chaos of regular life around here!

So, about biology . . . I posted back on June 1 about my biology lab conundrum, and I briefly mentioned that we might prepare for the AP biology test.  After a lot of discussion, we decided to go for it, even though, as I said before, this year the test is being reworked.  That meant I spent a ton of time this summer on the College Board website, looking at the new requirements, looking at sample syllabi and class pacing guides, and generally familiarizing myself with everything.  We decided I would not try to get my syllabus approved by the College Board this year, since that looked like an incredibly laborious process (which was attested to by my friend Katrina, who persevered and did eventually get her syllabus approved!).  What that means is that we can't officially call this class "AP Biology" on the syllabus, but we will still take the AP exam in May.  It is given at local high school, so one thing I'll do this fall is call around and see which high schools are offering that test, and sign the boys up to take it there.  Then on their transcrips we'll call the class something like "Honors Biology with AP Test (Score:  whatever)".

We are mainly doing the class for Nathan for validation of Mommy grades, since if he does go to USAFA, he wouldn't be able to get credit for any classes already taken.  But it would enable him to have an easy time in biology, which is always a bonus at a stressful place like a service academy!

We're using a college biology text (called Biology--where do they come up with these crazy names?!) by Campbell and Reece, which is one of the ones recommended on the College Board website.  I also have purchased a study guide that goes along with it, which gives me extra questions for quizzes and discussion, and also a book of investigative cases also put out by the same company to go along with the book, which I will use for extra experience with analyzing experiments and thinking through real world situations.

One of the big changes in the new bio exam is that there is less of a focus on tons of minute facts and details, and more of a focus on connections and practical applications.  It remains to be seen if I can help the boys make all the connections they are supposed to make!  It's going to be a challenging year--I highly doubt many other teachers attempting the AP exam are expecting their 9th baby, LOL--but hopefully it will be rewarding.  At any rate, it will give the boys a lot of exposure to an evolutionary world view, so they can better understand exactly what they believe and discuss it intelligently.  That certainly will make the class worthwhile!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Home Again, Home Again . . .

Well, we are back home, and what a week it's been!  The kids and I left last Friday to drive to WSS to pick up Nathan, who had finished up his 2 weeks of support staff there (he had a blast).  After lunch at WSS, we drove on to my parents' house in Ohio, which was a trip that wouldn't end, due to nasty construction traffic in eastern Ohio.  We finally got to my parents' house at 10:15, having left our house at 9:30.  A long day of driving for sure.  I am looking forward to when Nathan can help me on these drives--just another year and a few months!

We stayed with my parents for a few days, which was very relaxing.  Then on Wednesday, Bob arrived in town, having driven with the L's who were continuing on their way to St. Louis for the wedding of their son Zachary.  We picked up Bob and then spent a few nights with my best friend Amy and her family.  I hardly got to see her when we were home over Christmas, so it was sooo nice to spend some time catching up with her!  And the boys were so thrilled to play with Zach and Jacob.  We tried something new and left the 3 girls over with my parents.  They had a fun time playing at Grandma and Grandpa's house with all their toys, and I enjoyed not having to worry about keeping them entertained, LOL. 

Friday morning we picked the girls up and then caravaned with my parents out to St. Louis so we could also go to Zachary and Karynn's wedding.  We stayed at a SpringHill Suites, along with a ton of other guests and family members of Ed and Elizabeth, so it was like a fun party!

We really enjoyed the pool at the hotel--it was so refreshing after all the heat, humidity, and driving.  Friday afternoon, after we arrived, we all went swimming, and then when we were back in the room getting ready to go to the rehearsal dinner, Micah microwaved our cell phones in the conveniently-located-right-at-his-eye-level hotel microwave.  That probably would have started a fire, except that Caleb happened to notice and mention, "Ummm . . . the stuff in the microwave is burning . . ."  What stuff?!?  Ohhhh . . . Bob's phone is totally and completely dead.  We thought mine was as well, but after recharging it, it will receive calls and the touchscreen does work.  The buttons at the bottom don't work, so once I select anything on the screen, I can't actually go back to anything else, so it is definitely not a long-term solution.  Don't leave me a message on there--I probably won't ever get it!  Tonight we went to Costco and transferred Bob's number to the "extra" third phone we have for the boys, but tomorrow we are planning to visit the Verizon store.  Micah--doing his best to star in unique stories that none of other children even thought of.  Sigh.

Anyhow, after all that Friday afternoon excitement, we headed to the Old Spaghetti Factory for the rehearsal dinner, which was absolutely delicious.  It was nice because all the kids except Micah sat at one long table with Amanda and Jessica L, among others, but Bob, Micah, and I sat at a different long table, so we got to have nice conversations with other couples, including the bride's parents, who we had never met before.  And Amanda was a total life-saver, because she let us borrow her cell phone for the rest of the weekend, so at least we could coordinate stuff with my parents!  Thank you, Amanda!!

Saturday we ate a delicious breakfast, went swimming, and the headed downtown to the St. Louis Arch.  We toured the Museum of Westward Expansion and tried to not lose any kids in the crushing crowds.  Some people were disappointed that we could not go up to the top of the Arch, due to time constraints, so we started making plans to come back on Sunday.  We rushed back to the hotel, grabbing Taco Bell for lunch, changed into our wedding finery in record time, and headed over to the church, which was fortunately only a few minutes away, for the 2:00 wedding!  Whew!

The wedding was absolutely beautiful.  The dresses were lovely, the church was just the right size (and it was an actual church, with stained glass windows and everything!), and the decorations were lovely too.  The service was God-honoring, but not-too-long, which was a huge blessing because the wedding was right at naptime, and Micah hadn't really slept all that well the night before, LOL.  The reception was right downstairs, and Karynn's aunt did an amazing job with the favors and all the decorations.  I told everyone not to have such high expectations when any of our girls get married, LOL.  We had a lot of fun--I'll have to post pictures when I'm not so tired!

Sunday morning we had to get checked out, which is no easy feat with this big of a family!  But finally we got all loaded up and left around 9:30.  We drove back to the Arch, got in line, and bought tickets for Bob, Nathan, Luke, Jonathan, and Grace to go up to the top of the Arch, and for Caleb, Anna, Faith, and me to go to the documentary about the building of the Arch.  Bob and I went through St. Louis on our honeymoon 19 years ago, and I went up in the Arch then.  I am not a fan of heights or of small enclosed spaces, so I felt no need to repeat the experience, LOL.  The absolutely wonderful thing was that Micah could go up in the Arch for free and riding on Bob's lap (there are only 5 seats in the little cars).  He didn't sleep well either night in the hotel, and he was an absolute crab.  I was dreading trying to keep him occupied and quiet during a movie, which would have probably been an impossible feat.  So Bob took him, and he was entranced by the view, from all reports.  The only problem was that we couldn't get tickets until 11:55, and then it took them until 1:15 to go up, spend 10 minutes up there, and come back down again.  Our movie was only 30 minutes, so eventually I had to break down and buy a big bag of kettle corn to keep the natives from getting restless, LOL.  But we finally got back on the road, with a 6 hour drive ahead of us, and the loss of an hour due to changing time zones. 

Fortunately we were only driving back to Amy's, and we were all so very relieved to get back there.  But first we had to meet my parents at a gas station and hand off Anna and Grace to them.  They are going to stay for a week at "Grandma and Grandpa Camp", and my Aunt Claire is coming out too, as an honorary Grandma, and she is bringing their cousin Emily up from Texas.  I'm sure you can imagine how excited the girls have been about this upcoming week!!  Faith was quite upset that she is not old enough to go to "Grandma and Grandpa Camp", which was part of the reason we let her stay over at their house with Anna and Grace before we left for St. Louis--a mini-camp!  She's fine now, and is enjoying having all the toys to herself here at home, LOL.

This morning we got up and got packed up from Amy's house at 9:30.  We had to rush because Nathan and Luke had their first football practice of the season tonight at 6:00.  We pulled into our driveway at 5:35, the boys raced inside to grab cleats and water bottles, and then Bob turned around and dropped them off.  What a long day!  Nothing like running around in the heat after a long day of snacking in the car, LOL.   The rest of us headed over to Costco to deal with cell phones.

So it was a great trip--we wouldn't have missed the wedding for anything!--but I'm quite glad to be home now, with everyone sleeping in their own beds.  It was nice to only have to give baths to Faith and Micah and put them down!  This will be a quiet week without Anna and Grace!  Hopefully it will be a quiet week for Micah too, LOL.