Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A River Runs Through It...

Our backyard that is. We've finally started a "Rivers" unit study that I wrote a few years ago (which I have posted on a blog somewhere on the internet, but can't locate at the moment). On the schedule for tomorrow was to "build a model river", which I hadn't really worked out the details of, but was getting inspiration from this webpage. Presented with exceptionally gorgeous weather this morning, I asked the kids if they'd like to get started on it today, and I'm so glad we did. I can see this is going to be an ongoing project for them (especially since they created a watering hole for their miniature animals four years ago and still use it regularly) - a backyard river system is a natural fit for my kids. Little Brother said it's "our best homeschooling project ever", even better than ice cream in a bag.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When hard work pays off

At today's aikido class, Little Brother was honored with The Purple Stripe. The elusive purple stripe was mentioned in a class a few months ago. It is bestowed upon a student who shows good leadership and acts as a good example for others in class. Ever since he heard about, Brother has had his goal set on earning that purple stripe. He was so proud of himself when he told me about it. He said he was so surprised, and when he saw Teacher Nancy pulling out the purple tape he got really excited, and he didn't know what to think. It was very sweet listening to him recap the whole experience.

Little Brother has always been such a sensitive kid, and so much in life brings him down or makes him feel like a failure. I love that these past five months, aikido class has consistently been a place where he's been excited to go, and always comes away feeling successful. When I watch his class, I can see him working on a lot of the skills I've tried to help him with for years - remaining calm and cool when frustrated, remaining focused on his own behavior and trying not to worry about the behavior of others, speaking up when he needs something. He still can't hold it together in a lot of other settings, but he has a safe place to work on it when he goes to aikido. Tonight I loved sharing in his excitement that his hardwork didn't go unnoticed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Facebook has brought my blogging to a stand still

I'm a little embarassed that I've gone so long since my last blog post! Time to dust things off over here, I guess!

Shall we step into the Dolphin Valley Academy time machine and go back in time to what's been happening these past few months?

February 2010:
We started out the month celebrating Little Brother's 7th birthday! He had his first friend party ever, and it was a lot of fun. He had three buddies over (one from school and two from our homeschool group), and we celebrated with a LEGO theme. Our pinata dumped LEGO pieces all over the floor - isn't that better than candy?

Big Sister went on a 3-day overnight with her troop where they held a special late-night ceremony, complete with candle-lit pathway to receive their bronze awards. It was her first overnight without Mom, and she did great! Sister also had annual homeschool testing this week. Once again I used the PASS test, and remain pleased with it - primarily the focus on measuring the child's own path on the continuum of knowledge in the three subject areas. Sister was a pill about the test-taking, but was also distracted by houseguests that week - sometimes life throws unexpected curve balls your way, and we rolled with it all the best we could.

March 2010:
March brought the end of Girl Scout cookie season in our area. I was our troop's Cookie Mom again, and was quite ready for the crazy cookie selling season to be over! Hubby and I also celebrated 13 years of marriage this month, and honored the day by taking a day hike, minus our children. It was wonderful. Not that I mind our family hikes - I love them, but there's something nice about being able to cover more ground and see more sights that was very freeing.

Little Brother had an exciting month. He had his first belt test in Aikido, and he got a hand-me-down bike from Sister! Brother started taking Aikido at Aikido Kids! back in mid-January, and has absolutely loved it. The classes have been really good for his self-confidence, and I love watching him help another student when he understands a concept and his partner needs a little help. I'm mostly proud of the manner in which he does it - very matter-of-fact, and without judgment in his tone of voice. Not at all like he talks to his sister at home. ;D

We also turned Big Sister's old hand-me-down bike into a new bike for Brother. We took a very pink, girly bike and painted it a metallic blue. Little Brother is very happy with it (in fact, this past weekend he rode 8 miles on it with Mom and Dad)!

At this point, in March, Big Sister was still going strong with all of her regular activities. By this time, we were drowning in activities for the two kids. Sister was in a year-long drama class that was getting ready for their shows in April, as well as swimming lessons on Wednesdays, and a Girls Tri Club that one of the moms in our homeschoool group started up. This mom is nothing short of phenomenal, and decided to use her passion for triathlons to help create an opportunity for her daughter to have more "girl time" with others her age - a problem many of us were having in common with our 10-12 year olds. They're feeling too old for parkdays, but too young (and really, too silly) to hang out with the teens, so this was a great solution. So, Sister is in training for a Kids Triathlon!

April 2010:
April was show time for Sister's class play "The Ozard of Wiz". She played "Glinda, the Good Witch of the North", as well as a couple of other smaller parts. The whole cast was a little rusty going into dress rehearsals, but they pulled it off in the end, putting on a great performance. It was extra special to be the last show on the old Studio East stage. We're looking forward to seeing the new digs very soon!

April also brought Easter:

And trips to the local park with a farm:

And fun homeschool science (ice cream in a bag):

And overnight camp outs with the girl scout troop:
(Thankfully this 20 minute, torrential thunderstorm was the only nasty weather we had that weekend!)

May 2010:
We went over to Yakima, with my sister and nephew, for Mother's Day weekend. My dad had arranged for the kids to participate in a Fish-In for kids, where the kids got their own rod and reel to keep. My kids weren't particularly successful with the fish that day, but have continued their excitement for fishing. They spend part of each day practicing their casting technique in the backyard. I need to get them back out on the water soon!

Gorgeous, sunny weather coaxed our homeschooling outdoors. With my various volunteer commitments seeming to be kicked into high gear all at once, I've had to resort to homeschooling when the opportunity strikes. This arrangement has us down to doing book work roughly 3 days per week, and I plan to go ahead and work through the summer.

So that's us in the past few months! LK