Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Language’


I can’t believe summer is almost over already. And what have we done with our time?

Aengus and his cousin, protecting the campsite.


Aengus experimented with Mentos and Diet Coke; played Portal 2, Geometry Wars, Minecraft, GMod, and the new Nazi Zombies map; and got into watching Dr. Who, My Wife and Kids, George Lopez, Top Shot, and the BBC’s Sherlock. He got a few swimming lessons from his dad, had many sleepovers, jumped on our new (to us) trampoline, and put some time in on the treadmill. He went camping with his dad, his uncle, and his cousin. He helped Jason fix our lawnmower and build the playing field for his Lego team’s robot. Oh yeah, and he joined a FIRST Lego League team.

Mark (sound engineer), Garrett, Grant, and Noah intently listening to their recording.

Noah spent some time with his friends on the XBox with Portal 2, Catherine, and several other games. He also got in on the lawnmower lesson, which morphed into a car maintenance lesson. He and I continued working on learning Japanese, plus he started reviewing pre-algebra concepts and US history in the run-up to this fall’s studies. But much of his summer was spent at his friends’ house, practicing for several gigs . . . including the local Battle of the Bands, which they won! The hands-down highlight of his summer was their prize: six solid hours in a REALLY nice recording studio with a professional sound engineer. He was positively beaming the whole time. ❤

Shelby and Noah gettin’ their Amish on at Roots.

Together, we visited my family in Pennsylvania, which we always love. Shelby came with us again, and we always love that, too. We went to Roots, a big-ass farmers market, went swimming at their enormous community center, walked their gigantic mall, and checked out That Fish Place, a huge pet store.

Why is everything in PA so big?!?

The highlight of the week (for Noah and Shelby, and I think for Aengus, but definitely for me) was seeing the final Harry Potter movie. We were able to see it in the theater where Noah and I watched the very first movie on opening night. This time, though, they sold butterbeer slushies. With alcohol.

Shelby, Noah, Aengus, and myself at the Ephrata Main Theater for Harry Potter.
Jason and Aengus at the handgun range.

We recently went shooting in West Virginia, which was beautiful but WAY the fuck out there. I would die of isolation in West Virginia, but it might be nice to stay for a few days in a cabin in the woods.

Noah being goofy, as usual.

Going forward, I’m making a concerted effort to blog with real regularity. I HAVE to, for my own sake (I forget everything!) as much as for the boys (who might need such records one day) and their grandparents (who miss the closeness they had with the boys when we lived nearby).

We’ve spent the last few weeks establishing the new routine we need to accomplish all of our goals. Noah’s goals include finishing my requirements for graduation, furthering his Japanese studies, taking some web design classes, getting a job, getting a drivers license, and becoming truly capable of independence.

Aengus is working diligently toward reading independence, of course, because he desperately wants a laptop all his own. We are not above bribery. He will also continue working on his math skills, learn some world history, do lots of science experiments, and participate in his FIRST Lego League team. Oh, and he wants to learn to cook, as well.

None of which is all that ambitious for most families these days, of course. But we have been savoring the quiet life for a long time now; I’m not sure I’ll be able to sustain the energy required to do it all for nine months. Wish us luck!

Advertisements

I’ve not been blogging for a while — obviously. I attended the VAHomeschoolers Conference last week, though, and feel inspired to get my act together again. “Scared straight” would be another way to phrase it.

While I’ve been busy being negligent, the kids have continued with their lives, learning as they live and play. A few particularly educational events from the past six months stand out in my memory, though:

VGL'11
Having so much fun they even posed for a picture.

Jason and I surprised the kids with box seats at a Video Games Live concert. It. Was.

Fabulous!

Amazing!

Stupendous!

Brilliant!

Astounding!

And I’m not all that into gaming myself. Noah said he’d love to go again, and that’s high praise from him. I thought it was a fabulous way to introduce young people to the symphony orchestra. {music appreciation}

 

He CAN get up at 9am!

Noah recently took a two month Saturday Morning Physics class at the local college. I’m not sure how much he actually got out of the class; it was held at 9am, so he often used planetarium time for a nap. I think the material was a bit over his head as well. Still, he was exposed to a college-like situation, which is something.

 

Noah’s Japanese studies are going well for him, but I have completely let the ball drop there. He wanted me to teach him, but since I don’t already know Japanese I said we could learn together. Not only do I lack the consistency needed to teach him the he’d like, I also don’t have a curriculum that lays it out, lesson by lesson for him. The books we’ve bought are for a person who wants to visit Japan — which we do, but we want to actually learn the language, not just memorize key sentences.

I recently discovered a great app for my iPad, however, so my own studies are back on track. We’re not yet back to doing lessons together, though, which is what I’m striving for.

Also, Noah’s ability with computers and electronics surprises me. He’s dismantled our XBox and controllers and apparently does amazing things wih his computer. He’s asked to take a computer course at the Community College this summer, which I’m very excited for him to experience.

 

Studio time was bliss.

Music, of course, remains Noah’s primary activity, and all is going well. He and his band, ((The Evidence Of)), have been practicing a lot lately in preparation for their big gig later this month. Stay tuned. =D

 

 

Aengus has been busy discovering various YouTube personalities, reviewers, and comics. Though he’s discovered computers rather later than his brother, Aengus is finally learning to navigate his way through the internet. Only a little, though, as he can’t yet read what he’s clicking on.

And speaking of reading . . . Aengus’s frustration with being unable to read has reached an all-time high. I have absolute faith in unschoolers’ insistence that reading comes easily when children are not pushed. But Aengus views his inability to read when so many younger people can has him feeling really, really stupid. And I can’t just sit back and wait anymore.

So, we’ve instituted Operation: Reading. He and I are now working our way through Explode the Code, a little every day, until he feels comfortable with reading on his own. We’ve just started book four, by the end of which I suspect I can hand him some Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes books. Come to think of it, I’ll give him Garfield tonight!

Even better than now making a deliberate effort to learn how to read, Aengus has finally —finally!– started enjoying being read to. This child never liked storytime or lullabyes — only one of the ways in which he is unusual. =P I don’t know what finally clicked in his head, but he requested that I read Harry Potter to him.

~pause for happy dance~

While reading Harry, I was astounded once again by all the learning along the way: Latin, mythology, vocabulary, history, interpersonal relationships, politics, ethics, . . . . I really wish I’d been blogging then, because we paused all the time for mini lessons.

We just finished the series the other day (I was once again crying my eyes out), and he was concerned about what we’d read next. He now has a huge list of books he wants me to read to him! Noah requested A Series of Unfortunate Events, so that’s where we’ll start, then Artemis Fowl and The Hunger Games. Nothing beats Harry, though. ❤

Oh, and we adopted a puppy back in January and named him ‘Buster (as in Myth). This was him at 3  and 4.5 months old:

Just a wee lit’le pup!
Buster, Bear, and Vinnie

He is now, at six months old, nearly a hundred pounds! (pics coming soon)

Aengus, in particular, has been helping with the training and raising of ‘Buster. He and Jason love watching The Dog Whisperer together and implementing Cesar’s methods. {biology, life skills, leadership}

We scored a trampoline from Freecycle, and it’s been a big hit with both boys and their friends. {P.E., socialization} If  it continues to need repairs, we can add sewing to that list of  learning opportunities, LOL. And the debate about whether we actually needed the net became a lesson about safety. 😉

Just yesterday, Aengus and I started reading about the Egyptians. {world history} He says he wants to do some of the activities from Story of the World (which I LOVE), so I’m excited for us to start that. For now, though, we’re just reading a bit and discussing what we’ve read.

And that right there, folks, is the key to successfully home educating your children.

Aengus spent a lot of time there for a while watching Netflix, especially That 70’s Show, Mythbusters, Doctor Who and Torchwood. {modern U.S. history, science, critical thinking} The complexity of the ongoing and crossover plots is what really excited him about Doctorr Who and Torchwood, I think.

That, and who doesn’t want a Tardis?

I’m Turning Japanese

Posted: September 29, 2010 in Aengus, Noah
Tags: ,

Yesterday was whip-cracking day, and I’d call it mostly successful. The boys asked me to push them and I did, but there was little resistance and no fighting, so it was all good.

The only problem we’re (I’m) still having is getting into a daily routine. Yesterday was pretty relaxed until after dinner (which was late for us, as I had been at work), when Aengus and I did some math together (subtraction with borrowing, which he caught on to very quickly). In my fantasies, one kid helps with dinner each day and one cleans up afterwards . . . but we’ll have to work up to that. Baby steps.

Aengus and I never got around to phonics work, so there’s room for improvement there. Still, it worked out nicely that when Noah got on the XBox to play with his friend, Aengus and I were able to do some academic work together. The ultimate goal for this time in our day will be to also do some science and history activities and read together. Baby steps.

After Noah finished his turn on the XBox and Aengus got back on to play with his friend, Noah approached me about finally setting to work. It was 11:30. At night.

Reminding myself that this is my job (and that my idea of a convenient time to do academics is irrelevant), I turned off Jon Stewart and dragged out the books. First up: probability. We used the Basic, Not Boring workbook to get us started and watched the first of the Khan Academy series on the subject. Noah looked bored to tears, but he knows I’m insisting on more math work. And although this book is for younger students, we needed to start somewhere, right?

Math didn’t take long, though, and we were soon working on Japanese. Thanks to lots of recommendations and advice from fellow homeschoolers, we’re trying several resources to learn the language. I’m waiting for my copy of the Berlitz Essential Japanese program to arrive (and a workbook to help us learn Kana), but until then, I discovered a fabulous workbook at Barnes and Noble:
Japanese in 10 Minutes a Day
. Between the 10 Minutes a Day workpages and the books we’ve already checked out from the library, we were zooming through some lessons last night. I told him about mnemonic devices and we came up with a few to help us (study skills). We got him registered with Live Mocha, so now we can both do those lessons together.

He stated that we need a set time each day to work on learning Japanese and asked that I wake him up at one o’clock and get to work with him by three. And I am totally on board with this request. But I’m also okay with the schedule we kept yesterday: sleep late, relax, eat late, work, go to bed late. I’m willing to adjust my own body rhythm to accommodate the kids’ prime learning times — as long as I still get my eight hours at some point.

We also talked a lot about the trip he wants to take for his 18th birthday. It seems he still wants to bring Shelby — and not Aengus. 😦 I told him tough tooties, we are NOT going halfway around the world and experiencing a completely different and utterly fascinating culture without him. It’s the learning adventure of a lifetime for all of us. Besides, I said, he’ll be two years older than he is now. He’ll be more mature by then.

And we talked about how much this trip will cost. He was shocked when I told him what I was budgeting (hell, I’m still in shock, too). I hope he’ll help me find ways to cut the costs, like lowering his lodging standards a bit and opting for making our own meals when we can. But he did tell me that all he wants for Christmas is a Nintendo 3DS, and any other gifts can be cash for the trip. And all I’m asking for is  a vacuum cleaner and money for the Japan fund. We’ve been filling the piggy bank for a month now, and searching out every penny in the sofa or on the sidewalk. And you may laugh, but we’ve also decided to create a thermometer-like visual aid to gauge our savings progress.

I’ll be adding a PayPal donation button to this blog, for anyone who would like to contribute to this huge undertaking. I won’t start begging for handouts, but if you ever feel compelled to assist in the fundraising effort to give the boys this incredible cultural experience, we would be ever so appreciative. 😉

But first, Noah will have to show me how to do it.


This weekend was our homeschooling group’s Educational Freedom Party — what other groups refer to as their Not-Back-To-School picnics, parties, etc.  I hate that this lifestyle gets defined in relation to school, when school is so very far from what we do. So I flat-out refuse to call it a “Not-Back-To-School” anything. It’s the celebration of what we have — freedom to educate our own children however we choose to — not of what we are giving up, avoiding, or rejecting.

Anyway, our party was this weekend. We kind of got rained out; there were many families who bailed because the weather was iffy. But we forged ahead, partly because I’d already cleaned the house (dammit) and partly because any time the schedule gets changed all hell breaks loose. We had a good time even with the smaller crowd, and I really enjoyed chatting with new people and people I don’t get to see very often.

The teens seemed to have a good time playing their instruments (music) together (socialization). When it wound down to just Noah and one other teen, they played Call of Duty (dynamic thinking, cooperative problem solving) together for a while. Young men bond so easily over shooting and stabbing, don’t they?

Note to self: we need to encourage more teen girls to join Natural learners!

Aengus stayed inside for a long time playing video games (dynamic thinking, cooperative problem solving) with Tori and Ash (socialization). When he came out later in the evening, though, he really hit it off with yet another girl, a ten-year-old named Madison. Together, they chatted and played for several hours — and got a good workout when they discovered the treadmill.

The rain came full-force just when we were about to light the bonfire, which is always my favorite part of our parties. I guess that means we’ll just have to have another party this fall! Hot dogs and hot chocolate and teens with guitars. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect autumn party? ❤

Noah was in a talkative mood this weekend, too, which is rare. We talked a lot about religion, society, politics, and particularly other cultures. He and I went to the Harrisonburg International Festival for a bit, too, where he got to play in a drum circle. He was slow to join in but thoroughly enjoyed it when he did.

Both boys have asked for me to push them to work on some academics, so we’re starting with math and foreign languages today (and for Aengus, reading). I’m not happy about this; I don’t like telling people what to do any more than I like being told what to do. But they want me to be the bitch, so here goes. If it affects our relationships, though, we’ll have to change course. I have always —always– said that I don’t keep the kids home so that we can fight. If our days become constant battles, they can either go to school or take on the responsibility of pushing themselves. Learning information is easy; repairing relationships is not.

And now it’s time to wake Noah. Getting him up before 3pm is step one of the new whip-cracking policy around here. Wish me luck.