Tuesday, March 31, 2015

All About the Plants

Botony has taken over! We received a gorgeous flower arrangement from Nana this morning, and what do we do? Dissect a daisy! We thought the yellow center was made up of stamens, but we were wrong! Many, many pistils. The stamens are tucked into the curve at the base of each petal. Soooo....how does the flower insure that the pollinator will come into contact with the pollen? Maybe the nectar is tucked in there, too. Interesting.

Last week I pulled up old (or invading) plants to prepare the garden for new growth. Noting that roots are similar to branches, E decided to see if they can switch duties. Will the branches begin to draw in nutrients? Will the roots grow leaves? Nope. But a mint plant will survive with only a teeny bit of root touching the soil, it's stem doing a U-turn to head upward again.

Ready, set, grow! Seeds are planted. Why are we still getting frost at night? Where is spring?


The garden is e's baby. She and I have worked on it from the start. She made the markers, planted seeds in the rain, watered it today in the sun.

I adore my chalkboard wall!! So much learning can happen without me saying a word. Today E ran in and out, matching roots he'd pulled up to the kinds on the board. He found everything: a great benefit to living in Virginia! He also dug a few holes in the grass...luckily grass grows back. :)


e is learning to read cursive. Not write it, just read. Fun stuff. I'm still not sure how my little e grew big enough to be reading cursive!

"I don't eat anything from a flower," declared my otherwise quite intelligent boy. Luckily we had a lot of fruit in the house to cut open. Crazy boy.

Symmetry! I found the kids playing with the laundry doors last month. Hilarious, and a great teachable moment.

E received a 3D pen for his birthday. Quite a lesson in melting points, different plastics, and architecture.


Geometry won't stay in its own block! We've moved on to using a compass, which at first elicited fits. It isn't as easy as mom makes it look! But he got it, and now draws his own compass creations during quiet time.

Aaaaand I'm still not caught up! More to come!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Reluctant Competitor

Last fall, C and I filled out an Intent to Compete form for E. It listed every meet for each level, as well as dates and locations. We were to mark the meets in which E would compete, so that no money was wasted registering boys for meets they did not intend to attend. Knowing E does not favor competition or travel, we chose one meet a month, ending with states. We saw no reason for regionals at level 6, especially since regional costs (registration, coach fees, travel, hotel) can be upwards of $700 for that one competition! Meet season already does us in. When I showed E the paper, he said he'd like to do only the first meet and be done. Mmmmm no. But you can stop at states. I signed the form and turned it in.


E did amazing at his first few meets. He hinted that he might be starting to like competition. But as the meet season wore on, his anxiety grew. It became something I helped him through every single day. In January, his scores dipped. His worry had gotten the best of him. Then he cracked his sternum (though we didn't know it at the time; we thought bone bruise) a few days later. At the February meet, he still had a lot of pain so had to scratch two events. The three weeks leading up to March states were hard to bear for us all; E was so nervous that he felt every teensy pain and worried constantly about getting sick or injured. Then a miracle happened: he began to see that he was days, mere days! from the end of his season. The countdown began, and he started feeling excited rather than nervous.


Indeed, the kid nailed it. He sailed through each event. The other coaches sat up and took notice, making comments about wanting him in their programs, and the judge at still rings called him over to give him pointers (not a common occurrence!). Even falling from the parallel bars (turns out they were adjusted wrong, so he made sure to adjust them himself after that!) during warm-up didn't phase him. He earned his highest-ever all-around score: 63.3! Which also turned out to be the highest all-around score for his age and level. Let me say that again: highest AA score. Gold. First place. My child, who hates pressure. He had pushed through, knowing nothing was riding on this score because it was his last obligation of the season, and had done better than every other level 6 competitor in Virginia.

I knew there would be a state team chosen to represent Virginia at regionals, but I couldn't seem to find details. It was just this vague thing that another mom told me could happen. His coaches didn't mention it, and honestly I hadn't pushed for answers because I didn't think E would do better than average. Historically, more pressure equalled worse scores. In hindsight I picture myself as an ostrich, head in sand.


Awards were announced, but no state team was chosen. I asked a few nearby coaches and the announcer about state team, nobody knew anything, so we left. E was elated that his season was OVER! We headed to the Air and Space Museum Annex to see the shuttle.


Two hours later, on the road home but stuck in traffic, I received a call from another gym mom. She needed E's final answer as to whether he would attend state regionals or not. What?!? She gave me cost and date. C and I did some quick math, wondered how we would come up with that much, and asked E if he would like to accept the honor. Remember, he's still celebrating his successful completion of the season! He gave an adamant no. I breathed a sigh of relief and told the mom no thank you. E hadn't been the only one celebrating; with the end of season usually comes an end to the sleepless nights of panic and days of nervous misbehavior, and I was ready for a break!


It wasn't to be. One cannot give such a stellar performance and then bow out. We received an email, the first of many, from the head coach. I'll just say emotions ran high, both for the coach and us, and we got no sleep that night. The coach had forgotten that we are new to this- it is only E's second competitive season- and thus how very little we know about all things competition. No one had prepared E for the possibility of state regionals beyond the few times C and I mentioned it. No one had prepared us. And no one had prepared the coach for E's thoughts on the matter.


In the end, we presented it to E, he panicked, we talked him down, and now he is actually a bit excited about it. The coach held to his word and had a long chat with E about what to expect and why being on a state team is less stressful than individual. When E joined the upper level training group on Monday, he was greeted with handshakes and high fives. And there is no sleep for the weary....at least not for the next three weeks!


Which is okay. E lives and breathes gymnastics. We will never, ever be those parents who push for more competitions; E must lead his own charge. He told me today that he wants to compete in college. Three months ago he was worrying that he'd have to compete in college! My baby is growing up. Age 11 looks good on him.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On to Botony and Irish Saints and Heroes!

E's Botony block has been so much fun! I bought this book last month, and have learned quite a bit about painting and drawing. We've been trying different techniques; it is both frustrating and intriguing for E. My painting is the top one, E's the bottom.

I bought mushrooms to taste...neither child is a fan.

Seaweed! I have fond childhood memories of running along a length of beached kelp, popping the floats. Such a lovely sound. My kids don't know kelp, but they remember the feel of Chesapeake Bay seaweeds from summers past. Slimy, thick, and hairy, ha!

E and I took a walk in the woods to find mushrooms, lichen, and moss. We were both amazed at how many varieties we found! Moss with starry leaves, moss with fern-like leaves, moss with round leaves. Lichen with bumps, lichen with flat petals, lichen that appeared to be just a scar on the tree.

Plus these mushrooms in the snow! Hardy little things.




So far so good! The approach of Kovac's Botony is serving us well.

E now prefers that I give him the form already complete, allowing him to figure out how it was drawn.

As for e, she and I are reading The King of Ireland's Son. The King of Ireland's Son is not a story I would have chosen to read, and in fact chose not to read it when E was in second grade. It has not been holding e's attention like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon did, so to be honest, I'm not sure we will finish it. That's awful, isn't it! I know there is value in finishing what one starts, and lessons in the story itself...but the garden is calling, and she is chomping at the bit for Trickster Tales!


We might just finish out this month of Ireland and call it good. We have learned a dance to Irish Washerwoman, how to say hello in Irish, and to sing Einini, a sweet lullaby. e discovered that while the English version of her name means 'peace' and is feminine, the Irish version means Ireland...and is masculine. Oops. Luckily, she was appeased by seeing her name so often in Irish poetry. However, don't be surprised if you see her spell her name differently. Six letters is oh so much more pretty than four letters.

Math! She has moved on to 4s.

St. Patrick-

and Finn MacCool (hers on left, mine on right) spearing the Salmon of Knowledge.

Whew! It has been a fun and BUSY few weeks, and it isn't over yet! This weekend is E's state gymnastics meet. Always an adventure!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It seems like forever since I've had a moment to blog! I've been planning, planning, planning...and both children are eagerly gobbling every lesson! It makes the effort worth it. If I had done this much prep in the past, when I would have met nothing but resistance, I don't think I would still be homeschooling. But now, now it is incredibly rewarding. Everything in its season.


I have so much more to share; March has been a delightful month! Botony and The King of Ireland's Son. Alas all I have time for now is a quick note and a few pictures of our day. Our St. Patrick's Day actually began days ago, with a parade. The first one in e's memory. She and I enjoyed the bagpipes, drums, dancers, little race cars, clowns...while the Oregonian in me wondered where the horses were!

G loves a good story.

e re-made an old rainbow watercolor into a leprechaun scene, and then drew the scene below of St. Patrick planting the shamrocks and God saying, "Awesome!"

Yes, that's our new chalkboard wall! That's the other thing we have been doing! Removing wallpaper. What craziness that has been.

Today E, e, and I also worked together to ready our garden for planting and to fold a shamrock window star. We ate green and gold foods and the kids debated what was really meant in the legend about St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. And you know there was Irish music!