Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Our First Week of School

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Improper fractions...

Exponents and variables....

Transitive and intransitive verbs...

Contemplating sovereign grace...

And defining the word "pickle" to students with limited English knowledge.

That pretty much sums up this week, the first one of our new homeschool year.

Michael and I began our jobs teaching English last week and technically school started for the boys then.  They worked in summer bridge workbooks and read while M and I taught our Korean students.  However, this was the first week that we cracked open the new books.  And wow!  Those books contained some doozies of lessons in them.  I said more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, "When did my baby get big enough to do THIS?!"

Each morning the boys and I began the school day at 7 a.m. with Bible reading and chores.  By 9 a.m. we began our group lessons.  I decided to stagger the introduction of subjects this year since I have the added responsibility of teaching English (you can read the plan at the bottom of the blog), so in our group lessons, we only began history this week.  I spent the remainder of the time working one-on-one with each boy, going over his DGP and math work from the previous day and preparing him for his individual work to be completed later in the day. 

Because I have used Singapore Math for 5 years and DGP for 3 years, I did not do any lesson planning before teaching either subject.  We have an established pattern with both of these curricula, and I don't need to do much beforehand to be prepared to teach from them.

At least that's what I thought....

When I opened the 6A textbook and saw the first unit title, "Algebraic Expressions", I nearly passed out!  Now, Singapore Math stresses algebraic thinking.  Always has.  But there's a difference between "algebraic thinking" and setting up an actual equation and solving for x, or y, or p, or whatever.  All I can say is I am really glad Singapore has emphasized developing that type of thinking from day one because I was totally caught off guard.  Orville, however, sailed through the unit, and I take absolutely no credit.  Thank you, Singapore!

Then I opened his 6th grade DGP book and had to go grab a paper bag for breathing exercises.  There are slight changes to the format each year as the grammar advances, but the step from 5th to 6th seemed like more of a leap.  I found myself explaining transitive and intransitive verbs, predicate adjectives and nouns, direct and indirect objects, and dependent clauses... among other things.  I heard the voice of my 8th grade English teacher echoing in my mind many times this week.  She was my grammar Yoda, and I could hear her whispering to me...  use the Brown Book, Dawn, use the Brown Book.

Speaking of my 8th grade English teacher, I sure hope she never reads this blog....

I don't have time to stand at the blackboard to rewrite and fix my mistakes 50 times each.

And I make a lot of them on here.

Like I just started a sentence with a conjunction.

And I just started a sentence with "like" and treated an independent clause as a complete sentence by ending it with a period....


... oh, this blog would bleed should she ever edit it because she is just that good.  Please forgive me for not living up to my potential, Mrs. Quarles, and thank you for preparing me for this week.  :)

Moving on....  

By 11:30, we were done with history, math, and grammar and took a break for lunch.  I let the boys enjoy some play time while I worked on other "stuff" (I'm too tired to think of  a better word), like lesson plans (both for home and English), an upcoming bday party, and homeschool association (here it comes again...) "stuff".  At 1:30, we left for English school.

While Michael and I taught our Korean students, the boys completed their independent work.  For Wilbur this included math, Rod and Staff reading, cursive writing practice, Shorter Catechism memory work, DGP, and anything else M or I want to include (like memorizing math facts).  Orville completed his Ominbus reading which took most of the three hour block.  This week he studied the book of Genesis, reading the entire book in one week.  He also read Chosen by God, by R.C. Sproul, as his secondary reading assignment and completed a math page, his DGP daily assignment, cursive practice, and Shorter Catechism practice each day. 

By 4:30 we were all back home.  We prepared and ate dinner and cleaned up.  Then Michael led Orville in the discussion portion of his Omnibus study while I listened in and graded papers, we had family worship, and everyone completed the final chores of the day.  If the boys completed all the work and responsibilities by 8 p.m., we allowed them to play on the computer or watch a video while I did more grading/planning/association stuff before bed at 9 p.m. This is when I gave lots of kisses, tucked everyone in (including all the plush toy birds), and crawled to my bed myself.

All silliness and joking aside, God has blessed us this week.  He has blessed our abilities to teach and to learn and given us the grace needed moment by moment to meet each new challenge.  He has given me the strength to do more than my achy, tired body should be able to do.  Our home has not been filled with busy-ness this week but with purposed living. The joy of all the fruitful work, discussions, reading, teaching, and living is hard to describe and I could ramble on for hours if I began to try.  I will, however, give the Lord praise for the work He is doing in and through us and pray that He alone is glorified through our work in our home and community.

I will end by quoting a well-know Bible passage that came up in our studies frequently this week and sums up our week nicely....

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint
Isaiah 40: 29-31


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not Me Monday: Oh wait... it's Tuesday.

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Since I have not posted a Not Me in about an eon and I am so busy right now that the events that did NOT occur today will not remain in my working memory until next Monday, I will go ahead and quickly pound this story out.

Here is what did NOT happen today....

The boys are taking art classes each morning at a local art museum.  Said museum faces a busy street and backs up to the only parking garage in our town.  We live in Littletown, Georgia, so our parking garage is little too.  It's three stories tall, to be exact.  To avoid creating a traffic jam, which can happen in the little downtown of Littletown, and to keep the children safe, we are asked to drop the kids off at a particular spot in the parking garage which opens into the back courtyard of the museum.

This morning we had to leave about half-an-hour earlier than normal because we were expecting a repairman and I did not want to get trapped in our little driveway by his big truck.  The boys and I went to Kroger to buy a loaf of bread and then arrived at the parking garage 20 minutes earier than usual.

Because we had gone to Kroger first, we entered the garage from a different spot than normal.  Something happens to me when I enter a parking garage.  I lose all sense of direction.  I am usually a very good navigator.  I have that natural sense for which way is which and rarely get lost.  But kind of like a cell phone loses it signal in a garage, it's as if the tower that transmits my directional powers go out there too.  Coming in a new entrance did not help matters.

I drove in the direction that I thought was the back of the museum, but there was no museum there.  I drove around the garage several times, not finding it anywhere, until I finally exclaimed, "What happened to the museum?!"

At that point, Orville says, "Um, Mom, I think we're on the wrong level.  You need to go up."

Well, that made good sense, except that I had to drive around four more times before I found up.  After I finally realized I should turn where the big, white left arrow was painted on the ground in front of me, we easily found the museum.

We were still early, and the teacher was not yet at the meeting spot, so I pulled into a nearby parking spot to wait.  When the teacher came out, I realized that I had parked in a spot past the meeting spot and would have to go around the parking garage again to get back to the meeting spot... one way driving only.

So around we went again, and somehow, I made it back down to the first level and began the drive round and round in search of the turn up again.

This is when Wilbur observed that it was a good thing this parking garage was not Jericho and both boys proceeded to blow their air horns and yell.

After a few more passes, I found the turn and made it back to the drop off spot.  The boys marched into art class singing, "keep walking, but you won't knock down our walls...."

I laughed as I drove around the garage a few more times, just for good measure.  Then I had to go to Dairy Queen because I had an inexplicable craving for a slushy.

Happy Driving!

p.s.  Our first day of English classes went very well.  Michael and I really enjoyed our time with our kids.  Orville and Wilbur already knew a few of our students from art camp and they enjoyed being at English school with us, getting to know their Korean friends even better.  We appreciate your prayers and ask that you continue to pray that our time with our students and their parents would be fruitful.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nostalgia: Looking Back While Moving Forward

We will begin the 2010-2011 school year in two weeks.  This is a landmark year for us because Orville begins middle school . . .  

a step forward which makes me want to go back. 

I want to go back to when I could hold him in my arms  His baby pictures make me cry. 

I want to go back to when his little hand fit just inside mine.  I have to remind myself often that I do not need to hold it while walking in a parking lot any more. 

I want to go back to the days of snuggling on the couch while watching Blues Clues.  I am learning not to give him big, slobbery kisses in front of his friends or call him names like "Boo Bear" and "Mommy's Binky Boy".

It's sad.  I know.  But I am growing right along side him, learning to be the mother he needs for each season of his life.  By God's grace, I am letting go a little at a time and moving forward in faith.

I know I can't go back. but, as I proceed, I can take a little time to look back and remember those sweet days.  In fact, I have been putting together a portfolio of Orville's elementary school work and am creating movies to include in it from video footage filmed over the past six years. 

For the next two or three weeks, I will not have much time for writing because I have begun a part-time, temporary job teaching English to Korean children who live in our town.  We will also start our new year of homeschool in two weeks, and in mid-August, our homeschool association will hold its annual "kick-off" meeting.  I am responsible for coordinating this meeting.  Plus, we are having a big birthday party for Wilbur's 10th birthday before school starts!

I had to breathe into a brown paper bag as I typed that all out and I know my time in the blogosphere will be limited until mid-August.  Until then, I plan to share the movies I am making so I won't have to put Olive Plants into hybernation. 

So, as I look forward to a new year of new responsibilities, please join me as I take a look back.  In a few weeks, I will be back to journaling our school days and sharing teaching tips.  Until then, please enjoy this new segment called Nostalgia.

For those of you who knew my babies back when they were actually babies, feel free to have a good cry as you watch them grow before your eyes.  I sure have.

You can laugh too 'cause they were hysterical little people!

Here is the first Nostalgia video of Orville and Wilbur when they were in Kindergarten and pre-school.

Please excuse them.  They were still learning manners.

On second thought . . .

maybe growing up isn't such a bad thing afterall . . . .

Happy Remembering!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Nature Journal Give-away Winners!

This morning I wrote the name of each entrant on an index card
and folded each card twice. 
I placed the cards in one of the boys' nests
for their plush toy birds. 
Orville and Wilbur drew the winners. 
Play the video below to find out who won!

Congratulations to


Sarah, a new Olive Plants subscriber.

I appreciate all the entries
and helpful comments.
Thank you!

to those of you who are new to
Olive Plants!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't forget...

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for one of two copies of Adrienne Olmstead's My Nature Journal.  All you have to do is leave a comment here.

Both winners will be chosen and announced tomorrow.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Our Day at Six Flags Over Georgia

The boys participated in Six Flag's Read to Succeed Program during the '09-'10 school year.  They completed six hours of leisure reading, and in return, received free admission to Six Flags Over Georgia for themselves and for me. 

This was exciting to see from the interstate!

We started the day in the Loony Tunes kiddie park.

We're not thrill-seekers,
so the boys wanted to start small.
You can see how very unimpressed they were!

Still, Wilbur wanted to drive the kiddie trucks.
It's a truck.
That's all that mattered!

And hello!
Boats that swing...
you can't get any better than that!

They had to ride Thomas the Tank Engine
through Thomas Town
for their three-year-old friend
who really likes Thomas.

They did this for you, Nate!

Not because they used to love Thomas themselves.

So much so that I made a Thomas headboard and footboard
for Wilbur's first big boy bed.

Excuse me just a minute
while I go
cry. my. eyes. out!


Okay, I'm better now.
Thank you.
Back to Six Flags....

Michael enjoyed bouncing on the very bouncy playground.

And I love water rides!
Or at least, I used to.
The first time we rode Thunder River,
my side of the boat hit every wave
and I passed directly under the waterfall.
I was soaked.

We went to eat lunch and dry out,
and just happened to sit down near
an outdoor performance.
Michael and I weren't that thrilled
to be seated in such a noisy spot.
However, the boys thought the show was hysterical,
and Orville wanted to pose with the cast.
They were so nice to give us
such a great picture.

We rode a few more rides.
Not the one pictured above.
We're not adventurous, remember?
However, we did ride a few lower intensity "coasters".

About the time I dried out,
we reached Skull Island.

This is a great waterpark
with a series of interconnecting water slides.
All of the slides end in pools not much deeper than this.

For those wearing swimsuits,
it is a great place to splash, play, and cool down.
I, however, was wearing denim capris
and a t-shirt and was not prepared to get

I waked in an area under a misting spray,
because on a 95 degree day, I needed to cool down, too.
Just as I stepped into the mist,
a very large bucket
(about the size of a compact car)
and tipped

Sorry, again no picutres,
but you can imagine me
standing in the middle of a waterfall,
unable to move
or open my eyes.

Soaked is not the right word for how wet I was.

I was determined not to let
squishy shoes
(seriously, water was squirting
out of them with each step I took)
and water-logged clothes,
(I was saggin', people)
keep me from having fun.

We pressed on 
and even had another summer school session
in which the boys learned 
what a phone booth is.

we rode my absolute favorite ride,
The Bumper Cars!
Unfortunately, the camera battery died
just as Michael was about
to take the only picture of me during the day.

The one where I laugh maniacally
and slam into Wilbur's car.


Then I got my comeuppance
at the CAROUSEL! 

While dismounting my wooden, unmoving steed,
I hit my knee
on the metal foot rest

It was swollen and sore for a week.

Understanding why we aren't adventure seekers?

Because I was still soaked
with no hope of drying out
within the foreseeable future,
we decided to ride Thunder River again.
Not only did I hit every wave,
and take a direct hit from two fire hoses,

but I hit the waterfall
where the boat got stuck
for a good 20 seconds.

If you enjoy being a drowned rat,
click here
and let your kids earn free
Six Flags tickets, too!

Moral #2:
When you go,
wear light-weight,
quick-drying clothes!! :)

Happy Reading, Riding, and Splashing!

p.s. Because our camera died,
we had to borrow the last three pictures in this post
from Free Foto .

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer School: Ancient History

Vacation Bible School

We are blessed to live near a musuem
of Bible and ancient history.

Through interactive exhibits, like the one above,
students learn first-hand what life was like for the Israelites
and members of other ancient societies.

The boys attended a Vacation Bible School
at this center earlier in the summer.
They learned about ancient Egypt, Turkey, and Israel.
It was a perfect summer study
since we will study ancient history
in the up-coming school year.

They participated in an archaeological dig,
made crafts, listened to expert (and engaging) talks,
and made homemade bread.

Orville (above) watches as Mr. Oliver cooks his bread.
They ate it piping hot
covered in butter and honey.

The boys had a great time
and learned so much, but
according to them,
the highlight of the week was seeing...

Pedro the Rooster!
(and museum mascot)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer School: Herpetology

The boys were very excited when this critter
crawled up beside us
during the Gullah presentation
at Boone Hall Plantation.

Does anyone know what it is exactly?
We know birds but not reptiles. :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Independence Day

Veni, vedi, vici!
... wait a minute.
That's not right.
Let me try that again.

Storm the castle!
Oh, that's not right either!

¡Viva la RevoluciĆ³n!
... wrong country.

The South will rise again!
At least I'm getting closer.

Squanto, you see a paw print?
What in the world?
How did this get in here?
Let's skidoo to the next picture, shall we?

At least I got the country right this time.

... there we are!

Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer School: Real Estate Study Course

The Battery
Charleston, South Carolina

As we drove through historic downtown Charleston,
I asked the boys to decide which of the homes they liked best.

Orville's favorite was in Rainbow Row.

I can understand his choice. 
When I visited Charleston as a child,
I was captivated by the many colors of
Rainbow Row.

Wilbur insisted that he had seen a yellow brick house
in Rainbow Row and that it was his favorite.
We walked and walked and walked and walked
until we reached the open-air markets.
If you are not familiar with Charleston,
this is a really long walk,
particularly for a mother who lives with chronic pain.

We couldn't find his "yellow brick" house anywhere,
and I could not walk any farther.
He did like the one pictured above,
yellow and blue, of course!
He decieded that it was his new favorite,
(because his weary mother insisted that he
pick another favorite asap!)
so we took the picture and headed back
to our parking spot along The Battery.

When we reached the exact spot where we had started our search,
we saw his "yellow brick" house!
Home at last!

Now, how to pay for it?!?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pear Berry Salad

I am allergic to shellfish, so when we went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Charleston, my dining options were a bit limited.  They did have some nice looking burgers, but you don't go to Bubba Gump's for a burger.  They had barbeque, but I lived in Memphis for 15 years which made me a BBQ snob.  I am way too hard to please so I don't generally order it, unless I'm in Memphis. ;)

So I ordered the only other option I had, Pear Berry Salad, and all I can say is YUMMO!
When we got back to GA, I went to the Bubba Gump website to find the nearest restaurant.  I thought Atlanta had everything.

I was wrong.

The closest Bubba Gump is in Gatlinburg, TN.  Our other options would be Central Florida and Charleston.  I love that Pear Berry Salad but I'm not driving to another state to eat it.

So I came up with my own version and it is a good substitute and will be on our lunch menu regularly.  Here's the recipe for my version.

1 5 oz pack baby spinach or spring mix (BG uses spring mix; I substituted spinach bc I could not find a good pack of spring mix and found I prefer the spinach)
1 pint strawberries, sliced thinly
2 bosc pears, pealed and sliced thinly
2 chicken breats, cooked and shredded or cubed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
feta crumbles
raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Layer chicken, berries, pears, and spinach.  Top with pecans, feta crumbles and dressing.  Enjoy!