Friday, October 28, 2011

The Dramatic Arts, Smith Style

One of the things the Chloe loves to do after finishing a book is to act it out, and she often enlists the help of her brothers as supporting actors. Usually Greg and I narrate and the kids act out the scenes.

These are pictures from a few weeks ago, when we could still wear shorts. According to the weather channel, it's supposed to snow today.

We decided to paint a "set" so that we could act out one of the books Chloe was reading about pirates and Cotton Mather called "The Black Flag."

Here's the final product. The actors are about the enter from stage left.

A particularly dramatic moment... I believe this was when Cotton Mather was sentencing the pirates he'd captured. I'm pretty sure he made a face and gesture exactly like the one Sam is making as he sent their sorry souls to the gallows. He may also have been wearing his jammies... but probably not.

Taking their bows. This particular performance received a rousing standing ovation, and only in part because of Max's nerf gun-wielding ad lib halfway through the production.

Postscript: The Tooth Fairy Flies Again...
Our toothless wonder has lost yet another pearly white and gained some green... notice that the tooth fairy also brought Hubba Bubba and candy. These are the things that happen when Daddy is in charge...


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Four Months Old!

Charlie, you are FOUR months old! Here's what you've been up to....

Watching football with Daddy...

Kicking your feet and grabbing toys with your hands...

Listening to stories read by big brothers...

Rolling from your back to your tummy and back again!
Taking long naps in the playroom...

Chatting, cooing, and giggling, especially when you're thrown up in the air.

Spending quality time with Daddy when he gets home from work at night...

Gaining two pounds in two months, and growing 2 1/4 inches! You achieved the 40th percentile for height... Dr. Butler was so excited that one of my children exceeded the fifth percentile that he gave me a high five... way to go buddy!

You are sweet...

and inquisitive...

and endlessly entertained by the antics of your siblings...

You are patient with Mommy, and I love that about you.

You are calm, gentle-spirited,

and happy.

You are the dearest little boy, Charlie, and you are so very loved.

"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him."  Luke 2:40 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Moment...

Chloe came into my room while I was making beds this morning and said that she had heard there was a movie about one of her favorite American Girl dolls, Kit. I told her that yes, I thought there was a movie about Kit, and she immediately announced that she wanted to see it, so I issued her a challenge: I wanted her to choose one of the books from the Kit series and read it entirely on her own from cover to cover. When she could do that, we would have a family movie night and watch the Kit Kittredge movie together.

That was all Chloe needed to hear. A little while later I had gotten the kitchen into a semi-decent state and told the boys it was time to start school, but Chloe was no where to be found. 

This is how I found her:

She was making her way through chapter one, immersed in the world of this little girl and her adventures in Cincinnati (where Grammy lives!) during the Great Depression.

My initial thought was to announce to her that she had two more minutes and then she needed to report to the classroom, but then I stopped myself. I realized that this was just as important as her subtraction lesson or making the white crown of Egypt or finishing her writing assignment. This was improving her vocabulary, increasing her analytical thinking skills, improving writing and memory skills, and teaching her to create whole worlds with nothing but the words on a page and a vast imagination. Why should I interrupt that?

We'll get to the subtraction and the writing lesson, and we'll make the white crown - that will be fun too! But for now, in this moment, I'm going to let my little girl lay on her bed and become the mischievous Kit Kittredge during the Great Depression... I'm excited to see where that takes her.

“Let children alone... the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions - a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose.” 
Charlotte Mason

Monday, October 10, 2011

Second Annual Back to Homeschool Celebration!

Last year several friends and I started a new tradition, making it a priority to gather together with our children in the beginning of the year to celebrate, play, eat, and pray... pretty much in that order. This year we were blessed to add a few new families to the celebration. We met the last Monday in August and cheered the beginning of the new year for an adorable group of preschoolers, kindergartners, first graders, third graders, and fourth graders.

Our Preschoolers...

Mr. Sam Smith, my handsome four year old.

Mr. Max Smith, my handsome four year old.

The First Graders...

The lovely Chloe Smith, my sweet seven year old...

                                                                     Delicious food...

                                                                             Great fun...

                                                                     and sweet fellowship.

Last year it rained, but this year we were blessed with a beautiful day, so after too many donuts and muffins and cups of lemonade, our sugar-fueled kids raced outside while the moms sat down around the kitchen table. We talked curriculum, attitude problems, handwriting websites, and the like...some of us were excited and some of us were heavyhearted. Some of us were confident about the year to come, and some of us were nervous. It was nice to be in a place where we could be honest and encouraging with one another, not only as mothers on the same journey but as fellow sisters in Christ.

I can't wait to see how this group grows and changes over the years.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.
  The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.
  The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore. 
Psalm 121

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week Two in Review

Our second week in school was a full one! Max and Sam worked on the letter T this week. I bought these wood pieces from Handwriting without Tears and I love them. Each day before we practice writing our letters, the boys build them with these wood pieces. There are "big lines," "little lines," "big curves," and "little curves." A capital T, for instance, is a "big line down, big line across." I don't think I would have needed this for Chloe. but it's been really interesting to see how helpful it has been for the boys to be able to build them with their hands before they have to put their fine motor skills to work with a pencil. 

One series I discovered that I have loved is called "Adventures in Alphabet Town." There is a different book for each letter, and this week we read Turtle's Adventure in Alphabet Town. They're really sweet books - each animal lives in a house in the little town that is shaped like his or her letter, and they go on adventures that are very entertaining for my four year olds!

Chloe's history curriculum this year is called Story of the World, and we are loving it. Her first assignment was to interview a few members of her family to help piece together her own history. She chose Daddy and Pop. 
I love the hands-on teaching style of Story of the World. This assignment was really fun. Here she is interviewing Daddy about his childhood.

Results of her interview with Pop:

For science, we learned about habitats and conducted an experiment. Although the experiment in no way involved the need to measure things, Max never turns down an opportunity to use some sort of tool.
This is just a little side note, but yesterday the kids were enjoying some sunshine in the backyard while I was changing Charlie, and I peeked out the window of his nursery to check on them. Max was racing around the yard waving some shiny metal thing. I looked closer and realized it was one of Greg's four-foot-long saws. He was heading down the slide with it as I raced out and removed it from his sweaty little grip. Sigh. This kid is going to turn my head gray.

Our experiment was to set up a bucket with cold wet dirt and leaves and leave it somewhere turned over, to see what animals might make it their home within a few days. It was neat to check it and see worms and bugs - all animals whose habitats are dark, moist earth. The boys were disappointed not to find some toads in there, but I told them we'd try again in the Spring.

We took a midweek trip to the library for books and puppet shows...

...and we found some creepy crawlies heading toward our habitat!

We were blessed to head to Ohio to visit our sweet friends the Navarres during the week too. They moved last year but every so often we meet halfway between our houses for fast food, fun & fellowship. Sara was one of my first homeschooling friends and I am so grateful that we have stayed in touch. It is not uncommon for one of us to text the other with an urgent message such as "Please pray for me right now! My kids are completely frustrating me and I am hiding in my closet trying to calm down before we start math. Ok, thanks, call ya later."

 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
   and the pleasantness of a friend
   springs from their heartfelt advice. 
Proverbs 27:9