Monday, August 30, 2010

Wilbur's 10th Birthday pARTy: The Fun!

After the cake...

and treats...

and activities...

Wilbur opened his presents.

He received a huge assortment of art supplies,
including watercolors,
a sketch kit, clay, paints and brushes,
and a book on how to draw birds.

His birding buddies gave him a Webkinz and a plush toy owl.

He found some money in a card, too,
which he used to buy more Webkinz
and a pottery wheel (grumble, grumble, grrr).

However, the best part of all...

was the good time he had...

with his sweet (and sometimes funny) friends!

Happy early birthday, Wilbur!
I hope you enjoyed your pARTy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wilbur's 10th Birthday pARTy: The Activities

I set up three activity stations for the pARTy.

At the first station,
the kids "painted" a jello still life.
I found the instructions and printables
I printed a copy of an example still life
and wrote instructions for the activity below the picture.

On the table,
I placed the printouts, instructions, markers, 
bowls of glue with paintbrushes,
and bowls of jello powder in assorted flavors.
The kids colored the bowl section of the printout with the markers
then painted the glue onto each piece of fruit,
adding the jello powder like glitter.

At the second station, I placed
a printout of a Seurat piece along with
dot markers and newsprint
for making Pointillism pieces.

The kids were very creative
and used the points of color
to make boats, trees, animals,
and an assortment of other great work.


At the third station,
I set up Wilbur's new art easel...

which he had opened the night before...

along with two canvases and plenty of tempera paint.
Wilbur had painted the backgrounds,
a sky scene and an ocean scene,
the night before.
His friends added birds and fish,
giving him two priceless pieces of art!

Wilbur's friends gave their best effort...

and the results...

were stunning!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wilbur's 10th Birthday pARTy: The Treats

I made two treats for the pARTy.

First, I divided two containers of
white frosting into seven serving containers.
I tinted each a different color
using Wilton's icing colorant.

Next, I cut the contents of one package of
chocolate Twizzlers in half.
Then I cut each piece in half,
stopping about 1/3 of the way up the length.
I finished each "paint brush"
by cutting each half in half.

Then I dipped each brush in a single color of frosting
and arranged them on a serving tray.

For his cake,
I mixed two batches of cake mix
and baked each in a 9 x 11" pan.

After the individual cakes cooled,
I trimmed the sides to make straight edges
and flipped the two cakes onto the serving tray
I cut the curves into the cake with a serated knife
and used a biscuit cutter to make the "thumb hole".
I frosted with white frosting and
used a large spoon to swirl
the colored frosting in
one dollop at a time.

The Party Table

A Happy Birthday Boy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Phew!

Visit WUHS for more weekly wrap-ups.

Eveyone join in with me...

Take a deep breath in...

Now exhale...


The month-long marathon is over.  Monday brought the end of the extra, extra busy season as I led the kick-off meeting for our local homeschool association.  I spent most of that day working on my notes and making sure all the member packets were in order.  The boys got to take the day off from school, except for Orville's Omnibus assignments.  He only gets out of those when he is really sick and shows exceeding kindness toward his mother.

On Tuesday, the boys spent the day with my mom.  They had stayed with her Monday evening so that Michael could join me and the homeschool group for dinner before the meeting.  She generously offered to keep them overnight and the next day so that I could take a day to decompress.

What did I do with that day?

I was up early.  I couldn't sleep.  I think my body was so used to the pace of the past month that I was struggling to unwind.  So, I went to the high school to have lunch with Michael and helped him hang maps and flags and charts.  His room is very festive now!  Ole!!

On Wednesday, the boys were back home, and we added two new subjects, Harmony Fine Arts and a literature study of The Chronicles of Narnia.  Very few things have captured my boys' attention as much as these two studies.

We completed week one of HFA grade 5 which focuses on the ancients.  The books and coloring assignments were enjoyed by all.  I would like to insert some pictures of their work here but don't have time to deal with the scanner.  I had to give my cupboards some attention today and that took up most of my free time.  I'll post some of their work after I get caught up on the home front.

In our Narnia studies, we switch turns reading.  This gives me a chance to assess the boys' reading fluency and to model good reading for them, along with all the other benefits of a read-aloud, without having to work in a specific title just for that purpose.  We have started with The Magician's Nephew and are reading chronologically, according to the Narnia timeline. Wow!  We are all captivated!  I have to admit I have never read this particular book. 

Shocking, I know.

I have to say, it may end up being my favorite of the series.  We'll see.  The important part is that the boys are LOVING it.  The comprehension guide from Veritas has made the discussion of each chapter (we only read one each day) really easy.  I also read the commentary in Omnibus I written by Douglas Wilson before we began our first reading.  It has served as an interpretetive guide of sorts and is helping me teach the relevant theology and worldview.

On Thursday, the boys began work on their final projects for the first unit of History Revealed.  Wilbur made a clay model of Noah, the altar, and some of the clean and unclean animals. He will give an oral report tonight for Michael and me.  Orville chose to compose a song about the days of creation.  It is actually his own composition and not a piggy-back song as I suggested.  I'm not sure how sound it is musically, but I'm thrilled he is willing to take on such a challenge.  He has been practicing all afternoon and is unhappy that he does not know how to transcribe his composition.  He is afraid he will forget it.  I guess I need to look into some music theory lessons for him....

Today, I worked one-on-one with Wilbur.  He is coming along well with math, reading, spelling, and writing.  Writing in particular was a problem area for him last year.  I have started him on IEW, taking very small steps.  When we began three weeks ago, we watched the part of the student videos where Mr. Pudewa teaches how to write a key word outline.  That is all I have focused on for three weeks.  Today, we watched how to restate each sentence and then write.  So far, so good.  My goal is to take baby steps and build confidence.

My dear Orville has spent most of the day catching up on his Omnibus work.  He conveniently forgot to take his book with him to my parents' house Monday evening.  Once home on Tuesday, he could not find Monday's assignment, completed before leaving for my parents' house, to give to his dad for grading and discussion.  So, Wed. through today have been catch-up days.  Sadly, he is going to have to do "Saturday school" tomorrow to competely finish.  I am praying he learns a good lesson about responsibility!  Like I said before, he is a sinner saved by grace, just like all of us who are in Christ.  Sometimes the fruit is lovely, and other times the lessons are hard. 

Next week we start Science.  I'm sure you can hear the squeals of joy wherever you are.  That would be Wilbur, not me. 


p.s.  I'm sorry for the pictureless posts lately.  My camera still hasn't dried out.  I have decided I need a new one and am holding out for a really good one.  I have started saving (hint, hint, wink, wink family members who are wondering what to get me for Christmas and would like to contribute).  LOL, aren't blogs great things?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wilbur's 10th Birthday pARTy: Invitations

Wilbur will turn ten in November, but it never works out for us to have a party that month.  The weather is too unpredictable to go outdoors, and we have no room in our house for a party.  We don't even have a good place for guests to park.

... unless they like to live on the wild side and park on a street where cars travel at 50 + miles per hour.  Nothing like a rousing game of Extreme Frogger to get a party started right.

Plus November is smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season and a variety of sports seasons.  Finding a Saturday that the majority of his friends could attend a party is nearly impossible.  We've tried having a weekday party, but then Michael has to take off from work, and because he teaches at the same school as Michael, my dad can't take the same day off to be there.  So we decided to forego decorum and hold the party three months early.

I think even Emily Post would agree it was a necessary move.

In July, Wilbur and I worked together to make these party invitations.

I cut the palette shape from white card stock.  I did not use a pattern but instead folded each sheet in half horizontally and cut so that the bottom half was rounded and the top had a dip in the center.  Then I folded the right 1/3 and cut a small semi-circle.  When the fold was opened, a complete, circular hole was in the "thumb spot".  This created two invitations in one cut.

We also cut ovals from card stock of varied colors and attached them to the palettes with rubber cement.  After writing "You're invited to a pARTy!" on the front center of each invitation, Wilbur attached a paper paint brush he had cut from construction paper.

I printed the party date, location, and other specifics on regular white copy paper, cut to fit, and attached one to the back of each invitation with rubber cement.  To make it a true "pARTy", I suggested that invitees brings art supplies as their gifts, stating also that any gift would be appreciated. 

The invitations had that not-quite-perfect, hand-made quality, but the response I received was all positive.  The moms thought they were darling (their words, not mine), and the kids were excited and anxious to find out what would happen at a pARTy!

Come back soon for more about Wilbur's pARTy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Thank You

Head on over to WUHS to read more wrap-ups!

Olive Plants has the best readers ever.

Thank you for all your kind emails and comments last week in response to the No-Good, Rotten Week.  When you feel like you're walking through a field of land mines, encouraging words help a lot.

Michael and I taught our last English classes this week.  I hope to write a post soon and share some details.  For now, I will just say that it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.  The boys share my sentiments.  Even though they had to complete their school work while Michael and I taught, they made many friends.  They even got in a game of foosball or two or twelve when their work was complete.

This was another week of school being done at a rapid-fire pace, so fast I can't recall it all.  I do know that Orville read an edited version of Gilgamesh.  Michael did the editing.  There's a hysterical back story there that I will have to save for another day....

He also read Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.  To my delight, Michael is handling the discussions and grading associated with the Omnibus studies.  I am blissfully ignorant! 

Wilbur has been acting so grown up, doing his work in a timely manner and without complaint.  I share that not to brag, but to praise the Lord!  Last year was the year of "I can't! It's too hard" and feet dragging.  His attitude toward his work was a constant focus of our prayer, and we are rejoicing in some changes the Lord is making in him. 

The one hands-on activity of the week completely flopped.  Wilbur bought a pottery wheel with some of his early birthday money.  As a history assignment, he and Orville were supposed to create a piece of art in the "style" of the ancients.  They both wanted to try out the pottery wheel and make a clay pot.

Pottery wheel is now a bad term in our home.

That's all I have to say about that.

I'm still loving Diana Waring's History though.  There have been some really good moments, even last week.  I feel a review coming on.  I'll wait until we have completed a few units though.

On the disaster front, Michael's car was fixed.  Two weeks earlier than anticipated.  And it was not too expensive.  Cheap enough that we felt it better to fix than take on a car payment.  The credit issues are almost resolved.  The charges were removed, but it turns out the purchases were made in New Zealand and our credit card company charged us a foreign currency exchange fee.  We had to contest that and are waiting for a "ruling".

The Emory docs said that my dad will be fine on meds and do not want him to undergo ablation.  Praise the Lord!  My mom's knee surgery is scheduled for Sept. 3.  Thank you for your prayers.

Thank you also for your particularly kind words about my sweet Orville and his act of maturity last week.  I feel that I must inform you that he is a sinner saved by grace and the sweetness that he displayed toward me last week was the sweetness of Christ.  Even though he is just a boy, he is being transformed by the Holy Spirit, and He deserves the praise above Orville, Michael, or me. 

I have one more big event, and then life should return to something sort of resembling normal.  I have worked like crazy all day today getting materials together for hsa member packets.  The kick-off meeting is Monday, and I almost have it all ready to go.  Pray also for a successful meeting and for God's blessing as I serve this great group of ladies this year.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Not Back to School Blog Hop: Our Classroom

Not Back to School Blog Hop

It's School Room Week at the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.  The Olive Plants' classroom has not changed much from last year.   Except for this wall...


(Please forgive the picture quality. I think my camera was damaged when I was assaulted by all the water at Six Flags!)

I am sooooo excited to have a white board in our classroom.  I have always wanted one and have pondered lots of ideas for how it could be used, but never bought one because of the price.  Then I watched one of the IEW Teaching Writing sessions, and Mr. Pudewa explained the many uses and benefits of a white board in a homeschool classroom.

I agree, Mr. Pudewa!  I agree!

He explained how to acquire a white board affordably, too.  There's a material you can buy at a home improvement store and put on your wall.  His explanation was much better than mine because I am home-improvement challenged and really only heard wah-wah-wah-wah-wah HOME DEPOT wah-wah-wah-wah-wah. 

That's "wah-wah-wah-wah" like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons.

Though Mr. Pudewa is far more articulate than that.  I'm just hearing-impaired when it comes to DIY instructions.
In fact, I understand about as much of what is said on Telemundo as I do HGTV.

Anyway... I also recognized the words "costs less than $20." so I took off for sent my husband to Home Depot, and he asked the guys what we he needed to buy and for step-by-step instructions on how we he could mount it to the wall.  They got us him exactly what we he needed, cut it to the right dimensions, and it only cost $12!!  Woo Hoo!!!

Thank you, Honey!

Thank you, Home Depot Guys!

Thank you, Mr. Pudewa!

This has been a real blessing because I use it to list our daily schedule, and we list words for IEW on it, too.  I'm sure more uses will present themselves, too.  With life being extra, extra busy right now, having a daily schedule writen in a highly visible spot is a life-saver. 

I won't attempt to give the DIY instructions since that is not my forte, but as the Home Depot commercials say, "You can do it.  We can help."

Or is that Lowe's?

Either way, if you're like me, it is probably more accurate to say, "Your husband can do it, and they can help him!"   lol!

Happy Teaching,

p.s.  In case anyone from the FCC should read this, I was not compensated for writing this article and will not receive a commission should you or your husband visit your neighborhood Home Depot or Lowe's for this or any other product.  Thank you. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Dawn and the Absolutely, Positively, Horrible, Rotten, No-Good Week

Please visit WUHS for more weekly wrap-ups.

I'm late getting my wrap-up posted in part because this week has afforded very little time for writing, but also because I tried to write it a couple times yesterday and had to trash each draft.  It has been a week of difficulties, and I felt like every post I composed sounded like a big complaining session.  So, please allow me to try one more time, and as you read, know that though I am weary, I am not defeated.

It all started last Saturday....

I quickly moved a load of laundry from the washer to the drier and started a new load washing.  Then I left for the grocery store.  Not one minute after I pulled out of the driveway, the drier started smoking and then it died.  Thankfully, Michael was home and maneuvered quickly to prevent disaster (think house burning down).  Also, my mother graciously loaned me the use of her drier that evening so I could get those 2 wet loads dried.

By Saturday night, Mysterious Invalid Syndrome (MISy) struck.  This is what I call my chronic pain now since the doctors cannot come up with a diagnosis.  It was probably triggered by all the running I had to do that day, and I was aching from head to toe with stabbing pains in my back and shooting pains that ran from my hip to my ankle.  By Sunday, I needed my cane to walk because I could not put full pressure on my right leg without wanting to grab an ax and chop it off to make the pain stop.

Okay, a bit of hyperbole there.  But you get the point.

Monday morning MISy had subsided.  I know I should consider that a good thing.  I was glad not to have to suffer all week, but I still fought discouragement because I can never manage to get to the doctor when I'm really hurting.  I would like for a medical professional to see me at my worst, just once, so they will see that this is not all in my head, or depression, or just a vitamin D deficiency. 

On Tuesday, we received a call from our credit card issuer.  They wanted to know if we had donated $8.71 to the Blood and Leukemia Foundation.  No, we hadn't.  Then they asked if we had spent $800 at the local marina.

Um... no.

We hadn't spent $800 on anything, not even the new drier, and certainly not at the marina.  The next few hours were spent sorting through all our finances, closing accounts, changing passwords, filing reports to contest the charges, yada, yada, yada....

Eventually we had to break from it all to go teach English, which has continued to go very well and be a blessing to us and the Korean families.  In fact, I have been asked to continue tutoring two of my students through the school year, a financial blessing for us and an opportunity to continue to labor among the Korean community.  All good.

On the way home, however, Michael's car started chugging.  As he turned into our driveway, it started to stall and died just as he got to his parking spot.

On Wednesday morning, Orville woke up at 4 a.m. with a stomach virus.  I cried my eyes out when I woke up at 6:30 to find him in the bathroom miserable and found out that he had decided not to wake me up.  His explanation... "Mom, you hurt worse when you don't get the right amount of sleep.  I didn't think I was sick enough to make it harder on you.  I managed alright... I mean, I am almost 11."

He got the day off from school.

Thursday was Michael's first day back to work.  He managed to get his car started so we could take it to the mechanic, then I carted him to work.  I came back home to do make up work and normal school and then off to teach English.  Then I had to come home and prepare for Wilbur's BIG birthday party... make the cake, get the crafts together, etc.   Then back to the high school to get M and back home to fix dinner and finish party plans. 

Friday was actually the most relaxing day because of the party.  I was incredibly busy supervising crafts, handing out cake, keeping cups filled, and doing the work of a hostess.  But it was a break from headaches which I was thankful to have.  The party went really well, and everyone had a really good time, especially the birthday boy.  Posts are in the works.

Also, my dad underwent cardioversion this week in hopes of correcting arrhythmia.  It was unsuccessful.  He is okay, and we're waiting for reports from other specialists to determine what the next step is.  My mom saw her orthopedist about a persistant knee problem.  For those of you who don't already know, my mom had polio as a child and her left leg is paralyzed.   The problem is with the right knee and it is going to need surgery.  We are still waiting for details and feel a bit apprehensive about surgery on her "working" leg.  I appreciate your prayers for both my parents.

Oh, and somewhere in there we did school.  I know that's what these wrap-ups are supposed to focus on, but honestly, I don't really remember what we did this week school-wise.  I just know it got done.  By God's grace, it got done.

If you're still reading at this point, you've probably noticed that this week was the polar opposite of last week.  But what I have to say in summary is exactly the same.  God gives strength to the weary.  He is teaching us to live contently whether abased or abound for it is through Christ Jesus that we can do all things.  We give Him praise for the "unpleasant" times as well as the "good" and know that "It is of Jehovah's lovingkindness that we are not consumed, because His compassions they fail not.  They are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness."  Lam 3:22-23  


Monday, August 2, 2010

Not Back to School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week

Not Back to School Blog Hop

It's time for the annual Not Back to School Blog Hop!  This year it has moved from Life with My 3 Boybarians to Heart of the Matter.  Click the icon above to be redirected to their site where you can find other participating blogs with oodles of homeschooling ideas and help.

This week's topic is curriculum which is something I could talk about all day!!  In fact, I have...

Many times...

Right here on Olive Plants!  :)

So, rather than write another post about our curriculum, I will use this as an opportunity to point out my new tab.  If you click "Our Academy" beneath my blog's header, you will be redirected to a page where I have listed all of our materials for the 2010-2011 school year.

If this is your first visit to Olive Plants, welcome!  Please have a look around and let me know you stopped in.  You can find links to my most popular posts in the side bar to the right.  Feel free to subscribe or follow, too.  

Be sure to come back next Monday for School Room week.  We have added a new element to our school room this year, and I can't wait to tell you about it!