Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Uh Oh, Another Adoption

Got you with that title, didn't I! HAHAHA!  Today we had an unexpected joyful adventure!  Dominick was off so we took the day off from school, and we went to the park with scooters and dog in tow, spent a couple hours there walking and playing...yes, even the big kids still love playing on the equipment and they all play Marco Polo together.  Then it was off to the shoe store for Dominick, who desperately needed a new pair of work shoes.  While he was in the shoe store, the kids and I went next door to Petco just to look around.  The next thing I knew, Josh quite uncharacteristically was engrossed in something he had never expressed an interest in before...owning a mouse.

Quickly, Kenny jumped on the bandwagon as well, and the girls and I giggled with each other as the boys gained momentum over the idea of owning a mouse.  They were SO CUTE, getting all excited over cages and water bottles, calculating how much they would each need to contribute to be able to cover the costs, comparing and analyzing what would be the best purchase and getting into deep discussion with the extremely kind and patient sales clerk who couldn't hide her own grin as the boys sat on the floor plotting and planning.  Dominick came in, and the boys asked him if it would be OK, promising to clean the cage regularly and to pay for everything themselves.  As Josh explained to me before Dominick arrived on the scene "Mommy, I have saved over $200 in the bank, and there has been nothing I wanted to spend my money on until now...I think this would be something worth spending it on because we will split the cost, so it will cost each of us less, and we will be really responsible with it."  Yes Josh, I think that to save over $200 at 9 years old, having earned every single penny of it yourself through your own hard work shows you already are super responsible!  How could we say no? Much to their delight, we came home with two little mice, and a cage.

This is Flash...there is no name for the other mouse yet!

An hour after the cage was set up, Josh went in to check on them, and found that Flash indeed lived up to his name, and had escaped his cage!  Despite our double checking with the clerk and being reassured that the cage they bought was indeed good for mice, just as we suspected the bars were too far apart and made for an easy point of exit.  The former exterminator in both of us screamed out before the purchase that this wasn't going to hold them, but both the box and the clerk insisted it would.  Always go with the gut, but we ignored our own advice this time.  So, we took a look at Olesya's abandoned hamster aquarium that she was given along with another cage when we got her hamster, and realized we could use it for the mice (we had thought the top was broken, but it was OK after all), so the boys are going to return the cage tomorrow and insist on a refund.  That'll be good for them too, to learn how to handle a customer complaint appropriately.  We found mouse care instructions online and it specifically said that a wire cage shouldn't be used, so Josh jumped  to get a highlighter and said he would take it to argue his case that their clerk should have known better.

I am not sure who had the most interest in the mice...Joshua, who kept checking on them every 10 minutes, or Sunny, who thought she had some new pals to play with!

Isn't she funny the way she sits up like that?  She can do that and hold the position for quite awhile. 

Although we took today off, we have been working hard at school, and wanted to show you a little of what we have been doing:

I got these terrific magnet sets a couple of weeks ago in the hopes of helping Olesya grasp place value, which Josh worked with her on as well.  There was also a set that all the kids will use which includes magnet labels for all parts of speech, which you can use on the white board to label a sentence you write up there.  Olesya struggles in math are beginning to be akin to Kenny's in language, and although she is making progress, it is very slow going.  She doesn't get "stuck" as long as Kenny does, but we already know that we will be very, very lucky if we can get her through even Algebra 1..and she will gladly move towards consumer math :-)  Her gift is with writing and language arts, but at least she is not crying over math every day anymore!  Josh was a big help in working with her, and we are lucky that no one in our family gets upset about being ahead or behind anyone else.  Josh excels in math and is currently working on beginning fractions along with beginning division, which is coming pretty easily to him.  As much as he loves numbers and likes to analyze them, I was joking recently that he ought to be an actuarial when he grows up!  We spent almost an hour last night looking at this link:

This is a cool one to check out as it is a great tool for explaining census data while integrating  a map.  It also has data broken out by race, and interestingly it shares information about vacant housing in each county.  Josh totally ate this up, as I suspected he would, and we talked about what it means for something to be statistically insignificant, because our county now has 1% Asians, but 0% African Americans so I was explaining that didn't mean there were zero African Americans, just too few to count as a percent.  So we had to do the math with that and what that meant.  It was really a terrific tool for using math in a different way.

Then we were working with our science program from Nancy Larson, and the kids were studying the same thing Matthew is...chemistry.  Of course, for them it was just a very brief introduction to the Periodic Table of Elements and what molecules and atoms are, but there was a little experiment where we made carbon out of a marshmallow.  They all loved doing that:

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Angela has said several times after our last unit on planets that she really enjoyed astronomy and wants to study that more when she gets to high school.  That was a surprise to me as I thought that would be less engaging for the kids, but they all really liked it!  We had the added advantage of having a friend from church  donate a telescope to us, which we used to watch the full moon.  After doing chemistry though, Angela also said she really liked that too, so who knows what will be her favorite science subject!  Olesya isn't much of a science student, she doesn't dislike it but it isn't her favorite either.  She much prefers grammar and writing, and though history is not really her favorite either she is proving to be very good at thinking about things more deeply, and we are seeing  a  little more of it from time to time.  It may be helping that the other kids are applauding her when she comes up with a good insight, as that seems to encourage her to be more involved, and I am grateful to the other kids for helping her shine at times.  Like Kenny, she too is slowly stepping away from ways of seeing herself which include words like "stupid" or "dumb" and is instead seeing that she may struggle in one area, but she is quite good in many others.  Sometimes getting rid of that internal recording we all have can be long, arduous work...but with both of our more vulnerable learners we are making progress!!

While we were all doing science, Mr. Matt was doing this:

I know it looks like he is snuggled in his bean bag chair, playing video games.  And to some degree you would be correct :-)  He IS snuggled in his bean bag chair, but he is NOT playing video games, he is working on learning German through Rosetta Stone, which he is enjoying.  We are not putting in a full years worth of hours on it for him, as he can't get foreign language credit for it because he is only in 7th grade.  But next year in 8th grade it appears Matthew will be working towards two high school credits, one in German and one in math as he will be taking Algebra 1 next year.  We are not pushing this, as we are not one of those families who feels their kids have to graduate at 15...good thing with our group that we don't have that mentality! Hahah!  But Matt is just working at a normal pace and that is where he will be in math, and he has wanted to take German since 5th grade, so why not get high school credit for it if he is going to do it anyway?  We'll see how it works out next year.

And this....this is for me:

That stack of workbooks on the left is one morning worth of correcting I need to do.  I am SO LUCKY that Dominick has committed himself to handling math 100%, as I would never have any breathing space if I had to correct all of it too.  Homeschool dads really keep us homeschool moms going.  Without Dominick, my IT Guy, I would be a frustrated, angry Mama!  He keeps our printer up, our computers working well, the math graded, and any other little things done that are somehow out of reach for me.  In between grading these workbooks, I'll throw a load of laundry in, get lunch ready, plan in the back of my head our next project.

We are going to create our own personal time lines in binders which, if my plan works well, will be added to throughout their school careers with events and people we study as well as anything that they individually want to add...the first airplane flight, William and Kate's Wedding, whatever interests each of them.  I got a set of timeline figures we will use, and they can use Google to get artwork to represent whatever else they want to add.  We will also create a large sized classroom timeline to help everyone visualize exactly when things happened, when the Middle Ages was, etc.  I tried it with just Matt when we first started homeschooling, but I didn't have a good plan in my head and we abandoned it.  However, I am seeing the need, particularly for Olesya, to be able to see it in a tangible way, as she struggles mightily with understanding AD/BC and needs to see it drawn out every time.  Having a full size one that she has added things to might make it more tangible.

it's time for me to hang it up for the day, and hope I don't awaken to the sounds of squeals because Flash escaped again or ate mousie number two!  Tomorrow is back at the books!


Anonymous said...

Glad you found Flash--I never did find that hamster that escaped when I lived with my aunt and uncle.

We were rat people, loved them except the night one climbed in bed with us and ran with cold bare feet over my husband's chest. To think scientists used to think that all animals were only rote followers of their genetics.

They used to debate whether genetics or environment were more important in forming ourselves. I think it is taking what God has laid the groundwork for, what environment we have no control over has altered, and then running with it. You, Team LaJoy, are running a championship race. Every one of your kids will be--cross that out--ARE winners. Now we'll see where their races take them in the future.

Waiting to meet Flash and mouse #2,

Lori said...

Love that those boys are so good together working for a common goal. Talk about the blessings of being in a family full of siblings. I really think it's just great groundwork for amazing citizens of the bigger world one day.

I also think their ability to save and spend wisely is so mature!!! They are getting so big! Loved all the school activities and also read about Kenny's concerta...always told my parents that it never hurt to try, and I'd tell them immediately if there was no night and day difference...but for many parents who were able to experience that difference (especially when noticed by people who have NO IDEA the child is on medicine!), there is validation and even as you said—encouragement! Glad it's making a difference for him...I'm sure if it continues, that will go an even longer way for his confidence!!!

Looks like a lotta fun out there!