Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall home school post

Finishing the house

After days and days (weeks, I guess) the house was finally finished. Mr Matt helped with the roofing, but the kids really did put the final touches on this house. The painting was done by them as well as the sawing and nailing of the shutters and little window boxes. The little star was ordered by myself, however. :)


The 3rd/4th grade girls did a unit on measurement. They learned about some ancient units of measurement (cubits, etc) as well as the necessity for standardized measurements. But the main point of the lesson was to give them a FEEL for measurements. What does it feel like to walk a mile? What does it feel like to hold a pound? 5 pounds? 25 pounds? They made their own rulers with a little burning tool as well.


A trip to an apple orchard at the beginning of October merited an apple-themed baking day.

Land of Numeria: Math!

The 1st graders (Sam and Zoe) spent two weeks being introduced to the Land of Numeria, the land where you learn about all things math-related. Roman numerals and secret codes were a big part of this lesson! The quality of the different numbers (1-12) were introduced. What is one? One is myself. What is two? Two is a pair, or opposites. Their next unit in math will be an introduction to all four processes: multiplication, division, addition, subtraction.

History: Story of the World

After lunch every day we read a chapter from The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child; Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor . Then we do the activities and maps. On this day we were practicing writing cuneiform in clay like the ancient Sumerians!


Fall crafts! We had a ton of grape vines in our backyard so the girls wanted to make leaf crowns with them. I made a wreath! Fall is quickly disappearing though. We had our first flurries of snow yesterday!

Watercolor Painting and Lanterns!

Watercolor painting is pretty popular in the mornings, but this time we made them into lanterns to celebrate St Martin! (google it....I didn't know the story either, but it's the story on which the Waldorf school bases their lantern walk).


Ever popular. Claire is knitting a triangular scarf since Ms Leslie is teaching her to increase stitches with each row. And Sam is still chugging away on his camouflage scarf.


Fridays are still our extra-curricular day. Violin in the morning at Bridget's art gallery and swimming in the afternoon at UIC!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Starting off the home school year

We started the school year off around here excited, but sick. Everyone was sick. It started with Matt and worked it's way through the family until it got to me. I'm still sick! We can't kick it. But we've been going strong for a month now and we're so glad we started. In week one, Sam learned to knit! And he was good at it!

We're home schooling with our friend Annabel this year as well as with the Von Kondrat family who have two girls: Dylan and Zoe. It's a full house of girls for poor Sam, but it's what we've got right now and he's just so happy that there are people in the house....he loves people. He's his mother's child.

We also signed the kids up for music lessons with a nice lady who is also the violin teacher at Urban Prairie, which is the relatively new Waldorf school around here.

And after buying this book as well as Housebuilding for Children (also by Lester Walker) we started framing a tiny wooden house for Wella in the back yard! It's part of our 3rd/4th grade practical work study and it has been great for all the kids.

They have sawed their little hearts out until it's second nature for all of them and they've pounded dozens of nails in [straight!] as well! So Nicky (Mrs Von Kondrat who is the other teacher at our little home school) might have pulled out a drill once or twice, (and nearer to the end there were incidences with nail guns and jigsaws) but MOSTLY it was all done with hand tools. Not bad I have to say!

Gardening has also gone okay this year. We put a little more effort into it this summer and bought raised beds, did the whole square-foot-gardening thing and planted some trees and shrubs. 

We just made a pretty great squash soup out of these [butternut?] squashes (we got 3 big ones) and everyone has liked it.

These are delicata squash. They are still ripening.

Wella joins in the picking every once in a while. I'd like to say that our gardening has turned her into a little veggie eater, but it hasn't. She usually takes one bite out of tomatoes and then throws them to the ground.

But it's one of the things we use to keep her busy while we're building...that is, letting her pick vegetables.

Tomatoes did well this year as did basil and the squash. Our green beans bit the dust and we didn't plant nearly enough lettuce. Next year.

Wella has gotten very opinionated lately. I guess she's a real toddler now. It makes home schooling very taxing some times, but she wants to be noticed and heard, that's for sure. 

She sat on the counter with me while I made this pie out of squash one day. Granted, she had to empty all of the powdered sugar onto herself out of one canister while I did it, but these days that works for me. I have to cook dinner somehow! Well...that's not always true. We've had more than our share of pizza and tacos this year from mommy being too tired to cook.

But I'm really excited about our school. Mrs Nicky and I have found our grooves as teachers. I like to pride myself on being relatively handy, but she's really an outstandingly amazing builder/worker/project doer. So, I've stepped down a bit and learned to defer to her on most of that. This is her giving the kids a "talk-to-each-other-positively-or-I'm-not-going-to-let-you-touch-my-nailgun" speech.

And she's very patient and good with the kids in that way. I, on the other hand, have become the general curriculum planner and organizer of things. I can't believe that is my specialty because anyone who knows me would think that planning would not have been my forte. In fact, I just bought a calendar for the first time this year! But I guess necessity is helping me to grow a woman's heart.

Look at Claire with the nail gun. I think a little pent-up sibling aggression went into the building of this house. Nail guns are good for getting out aggression...when used properly that is.

And at last, it was framed! I love this picture of Claire lifting the roof onto the house in triumph.

It was a big moment for all of them. I love these kids and I'm so glad I'm homeschooling with a community this year. It makes it so much better. gets me out of my pajamas and makes me brush my teeth in the morning, which is a bonus for everyone. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Summer 2011 in review

Hold on people. I'll try to make it quick, but since I failed to post anything all summer, I'm going to do it all now. Don't worry. I'll go fast.


Purchased for Father's Day and enjoyed by all...

Claire and the rest of her West Side Ladies (girl scouts) took swim lessons out at Bridget's family farm in Wheaton. Bridget is Annabel's mom. Come on...keep up.

We hired Ms. Kate, a Wheaton College graduate, to give them their first formal introduction to swim strokes. Sam learned to dive like a champ and Claire has a great back stroke!


I introduced you to Brooke in my first "Summer" post. She was my college roommate and Matt and I got to go to her wedding alone! Only date of the summer so we tried to soak it up.

Brooke used to teach drama at Willowcreek Church and she is a very artistic lady, so her wedding was as well. See the fake mustaches on the grooms? Love it.

One of her bridesmaids was Esther, who I also went to school with. Very fun Wheaton reunion.

And Matt's sister, Rebecca, came too since she became friends with Brooke through church drama team. This wedding was a meeting of many small worlds!

Just a week or two after Brooke and Nate's wedding was my cousin Carl's wedding. Carl was my closest-in-age cousin growing up and we were always confidants at family reunions. I love this guy!

Abby is from South Bend, Indiana so the wedding was in a beautiful Catholic church there. My parents came from Wichita, KS to see it. Love these guys.

The rest of my family came, too! Laura's family came from Columbus, Ohio, and Katie came from Wichita (after driving ALL night) with her then-fiance, Chance Haddon. Didn't get a picture of those guys. Poo.

This is the only picture I have of myself. Very flattering. I read a verse in the wedding and I was so nervous that my hands were shaking and I took deep breaths in weird places during the reading, but I made it. Public speaking (of any kind) is not my thing.

These are professional pictures I stole off of Abby's facebook page. If you blow this picture up you can see Claire and her cousins, Ellie and Jane, peeking out their hotel window. They were watching the bridal party walk through the hotel on their way to the wedding!

And look at Sam-Sam trying to get a closer look at the wedding!

It was a beautiful wedding and very fun to see my whole extended Daeschner/Nickoley/Leng family! 


Back at home the next weekend we threw a little after-wedding party for Brooke and Nate. They had a few friends that they didn't get to invite to their wedding and they wanted to be able to share the video and memories with those people as well so we had them over for fajitas and mojitos!

The wedding was red and yellow so we tried to have the same colors.

The cake had a little "Brooke & Nate" topper.

So the real build-up of OUR family's summer was my baby sister, Katie's wedding to Chance Haddon!!! My big sister, Laura, and I were co-matron's of honor and our girl's were the flower girls! Sammy, of course, was the bearer of the rings. We were so excited when this weekend finally came.

Chance's family through the awesomest (is that a word?) rehearsal dinner in my parent's backyard. Katie decorated for it.

Chance's family are farmers from Ellinwood, Kansas, and his dad also has a restaurant and a catering company. 

This is his "Lone Wolf" trailer that he takes to barbecue competitions. The food was awesome.

The tables were sweet.

Matt with all the cousins.

This is Katie's good friend, Amanda, with Wella.

The bride and groom with friends.

Grandad's zip-line was in use during the party.

Uncle Bruce with my cousin Jesse and my dad.

The rehearsal dinner crowd.

Chance's dad with one of his nephews.

Katie meeting her photographer who she FLEW IN from out of state! Very fancy. "Uncle Chance."

This is Randy, Chance's dad, getting popsicles out of the trailer for Sam and the other kids. Huge hit!

Sharing with baby sister.

Girl cousins with Aunt Katie!

My mom and her best friend, Cheryl Cordry, who helped us ALL weekend as we got ready for the wedding and the morning-after brunch that we had at my mom's house. Cheryl actually helped deliver Katie when she was born (long story). We call her Aunt Cheryl. 

Katie at the bridal store where they laced her into her dress.

It was quite the process getting into that dress!

The groom's cake.

The cupcake table.

The venue all decorated for the reception.

Wella before we made her put her dress on.

In the dressing room with Aunt Laura getting ready before the wedding. I have only terrible pictures of Katie's wedding since I was in it and didn't get to take many during the important moments. But here's a little behind-the-scenes before the big event got started.

Mom's mother-of-the-bride shoes.

Erin, Katie's friend and wedding-coordinator-of-sorts wearing her bridesmaid dress and telling mom which usher is going to seat her.

Our girls ready for their walk down the aisle.

Sammy ready for his walk. He actually hung out with the groomsmen all day and got VERY attached to one guy in particular who taught him secret handshakes and dance moves.


The kids' garb. Luella was only there for the wedding (we had a babysitter for the reception) and she was so noisy that Matt had to take her out for the whole thing. Poor Matt.

Katie's new family, the Haddons.

Still waiting.

Peeking out to see how much longer.

This is Troy, Sam's new best friend/Chance's groomsmen.

And then the whole thing happened and I didn't get ANY pictures because I was so busy being a bridesmaid, but when Katie's professional photos get posted I'll link up to them! This was the VERY end of the night when they had danced until they dropped and shed/exchanged clothes. 

But after it was all over we gained a brother-in-law and an awesome uncle. We love you guys! Have fun in Jamaica!

Before leaving Wichita and heading back to Chicago we went to this great hands-on zoo called Tanganyika.

We fed tortoises.

And fish...

And hung out with lemurs on lemur island.

There were penguins that must have been hot. It was 100 degrees out!

We fed giraffes, (my favorite part). They are so TALL when you see them up close!

And we fed birds.

We even got to feed a 5,000 lb rhino named Henry!

It was a great summer that we'll remember for always. But it was so busy that I'm actually ready to get back to boring ol' regular days. I mean how can you keep up with rhino feeding and throwing parties every weekend?! Hope everyone else had equally busy/happy/crazy summers!