Monday, June 27, 2016

Week in Review: Horses, Golf, and Mountains of Ice Cream

This week, we rode the train up to the San Joaquin Valley, where I grew up, to spend time with family.

We stayed one night with Grandpa and Grandma Susan. I always forget to take pictures while I'm there, because I'm so busy talking. But I remembered this time, and got this sweet picture...
Grandpa and Gemma spent lots of time reading The Magic Show by Anne Benkovitz and Mark Setteducati. The book is a pop-up book that "performs itself." It's fun for all ages...
We went to our second Vacation Bible School of the summer, Submerged, a submarine-themed VBS. In the sanctuary, the volunteers built a big structure with pipes and motors and enormous sea creatures "swimming" overhead.
We also went to Dick's Sporting Goods, where Poppa buys his golf clubs, so Gemma could learn to swing a golf club. They have a machine that analyzes a player's swing. I've never golfed, but the machine looked fun so I had to try it, too. The crack the club makes when it comes in contact with the ball provides a special kind of auditory satisfaction. I can see how someone could get addicted to the game.
The week would not be complete without a trip to the children's museum. Gemma wanted to wear a fancy dress, and on the way to the museum, she remarked, "I hope I don't get oil on my dress."
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to visit Heart of the Horse Therapy Ranch. The owner, Guy Adams, walked us around the ranch, and introduced us to all of the horses. The ranch works with clients who have a variety of needs, including people with traumatic brain injuries, children who are in hospice, and veterans with PTSD. I really enjoyed watching Guy work; he has such a passion for what he does, and he's masterful.
Guy introduced Gemma to Bandit, and taught her how to walk a horse. Then, Guy let Gemma ride Bandit around the carousel, with the help of two of the ranch's volunteers.
Then Guy told everyone to stand in the center of the carousel, and Gemma got to ride while holding Bandit's rope herself.
In addition to all that fun, Gemma went swimming every day. We read 4 chapters of Life of Fred: Edgewood; we're one chapter away from finishing it. We also read a little of Prince Caspian. Poppa and Grandma gave Gemma two beautifully illustrated books by Doug Hansen - Mother Goose in California and Aesop in California - so we, of course, read fables and nursery rhymes. Gemma read aloud some more of Pippi Longstocking and Magic Tree House.

She also read My Soccer Mom from Mars by Rita Book - twice. I happen to love this book. It's really sweet. It's about a boy named Ryan who plays soccer, and has a mom who embarrasses him by dressing like the mascot - a cow - and cheering too loudly. Ryan tells a lie, hoping to prevent his mom from showing up at his game, but then learns that his teammates think his mom is cool, because she always comes to the games and is always encouraging. Ryan feels guilty about having lied. Fortunately, his mom calls the coach to find out what time the game is, and shows up, in her cow outfit, with (chocolate) kisses for the whole team.

I finished both books I was reading - Seven Myths of Education and A High Wind in Jamaica - and enjoyed them very much.

One widely-held belief Seven Myths explores is that teaching facts is bad. Some Charlotte Mason homeschoolers claim that Mason believed this (facts = bad; ideas = good), but Mason thought facts were good. Had she not believed facts were good, she never would have developed her programmes. From her programmes, we can see that Mason believed there were certain facts everyone should know. Macbeth is set in Scotland. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Chatte means cat in French. Aquas means waters in Latin. India is in Asia.

In Mason's Home Education, she writes: Dickens showed us the pathos of it in the schoolroom of the little Gradgrinds... But children should not be presented with the skeleton, but with the living forms which clothe it. 

And, while I agree that children should be presented with the living forms which clothe the skeleton, I think living forms and skeletons are commutative. I challenge you to find a "little Gradgrind," a child who unthinkingly recites facts without asking questions about those facts.

Of the novel A High Wind in Jamaica, I'll just say this for now: It was inspiration for both The Lord of the Flies and From the Mixed-Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler. Intrigued?

On the last day of our trip, we went to Superior Dairy, an ice cream parlor in Hanford, California, established in 1929. This is a single scoop...
No joke. 

The single is more than enough ice cream for three people, but how were we to know that?

Finally, when we arrived back in Los Angeles, Gemma sat down at this shiny black piano in the center of Union Station and played "Winds Through the Olive Trees."
How was your week? :)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Week in Review: It's Summer Vacation, Right?

This week was VBS. The theme was Surf Shack. I volunteered and was assigned the Story Deck, so I got to tell Bible stories that had to do with water, teach the kids memory verses and sign language, do a variety of activities, and pass out stickers for the kids to put on their foam surfboards. (Plus, I got some quiet time between classes to read. I'm working on Seven Myths of Education by Daisy Christodoulou and A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. Both are excellent.)

Gemma had fun rotating through the stations, making crafts, eating snacks, playing games, singing songs, and playing in the sandbox.
Reading-wise, we read some of Prince Caspian, and some more of Little House in the Big Woods. We read the chapter titled "Sundays." I had a good time reading it aloud. (Lots of people think the Little House books are not for boys - because the main character is a girl - but this chapter is about boys, and it's very funny.)

We are slowly reading Training Hearts, Teaching Minds to learn the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We're currently on question 4.

Gemma has been reading aloud to me both Pippi Longstocking and The Magic Tree House: Leprechaun in Late Winter. The public library's summer reading program awards prizes for every five hours of reading, and Gemma just earned her first prize - a finger soccer game.

While we were at the library, she took a ukulele lesson as part of the library's How-To Festival.
We have also been reading Life of Fred: Edgewood. We've backed off of Mathematical Reasoning - which I love - and have been using Fred as our primary math curriculum for the past couple of months. (If you'd asked me a year ago if I thought using LOF as a primary curriculum would work, I would have said, "You're kidding, right?" But now, I'm doing it, and Mathematical Reasoning is our supplement.) Fred taught Gemma to add multi-digit numbers with carrying (or regrouping, which is what I have to call it at work, when I have to speak teacherese). She totally gets it. I <3 Fred.

We also did a couple of Duolingo Spanish lessons about adjectives, had a private swim lesson focusing on ice cream scoop hands, practiced piano for 15 minutes each day, hosted our home(pre)school co-op lesson about simple electrical circuits, and went shopping for new shoes.

It's summer vacation, right?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Week in Review: Sugar and Sand

I'm going to preface this post by saying that I don't feed my child anything remotely nutritious ever.

One thing we did this week was go to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. While there, we learned how to make candy sushi.

You need a roll of Fruit By the Foot, a Rice Krispie Treat, two gummy bears, and two Swedish fish. First, cut the Rice Krispie Treat into fourths. Stick a Swedish fish on one fourth, wrap with Fruit By the Foot, and repeat with second fish. Then, take one fourth and smush it flat; put the gummy bear on it, and roll the bear up like you're rolling it up in a Rice Krispie blanket; wrap it with Fruit By the Foot; repeat the steps with the second gummy bear. Makes 4 pieces of candy sushi.
It was my first week off of work, so we were able to spend lots of time at the beach.
We finished reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and started Prince Caspian). For the past couple of weeks,  we've been checking the British shop for Turkish delight - which the White Witch feeds Edmund - and the shop finally got a shipment.
This particular Turkish delight is covered with chocolate and has a rose flavor, an acquired taste. Gemma enjoyed a few bites of the chocolate shell, and the sheer fact that she was eating the same candy mentioned in the book, but 90% of the candy bar went into the trash.

One day, we met friends at a shop that makes its ice cream with a showy blast of liquid nitrogen...
...and then went to the beach.
We ended the week with a swim lesson...
...and a third walk to the sand.
My little mer-child. :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Week in Review: Schwarzenegger, Stilt-Walkers, and Steamed Puddings

We live in such a weird city. 

On Sunday, on our walk to church, we stood next to Arnold Schwarzenegger, waiting for a red light to change, before crossing the street. It was 9:15 a.m., and the streets were relatively empty. He was on his bike, on the street. Gemma was on her bike, on the sidewalk. I was on foot, close enough to the former governor to touch him, too close to pull out my cell phone without it being awkward.

(Sunday, our city closed off some of the streets and made them car-free. Among other things, there were people giving salsa lessons in the middle of the street, people doing tricks on roller-skates, and two men walking on stilts.)

Thursday, I was driving home from work, and I saw three paparazzi with big cameras, standing on the corner across from the grocery store. I looked across the street, wondering what they were photographing, and saw Jennifer Garner, and her daughter, feeding the parking meter at Pavilions.

The night before, we had gone to Topanga to see an outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet, but because of a wildfire, everyone in the area had to evacuate.

Now, for those of you thinking Romeo and Juliet with a 5 year old? let me explain my thinking. Last summer, we went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Gemma fell asleep right after intermission. So I figured she would fall asleep before Romeo and Juliet offed themselves. To prepare her for seeing the play, I showed her a cartoon version of the play. When it got close to Juliet feigning death, I stopped the cartoon. "What happens next?" she asked. I couldn't lie to her. I couldn't say, "Oh, that's it. They live happily ever after." So I pressed play and let her watch the end.

That night, when my friends - women who have known her since before she was born - asked her if she knew what the play was about, Gemma told them, "Well, in the first half, they're alive. But in the second half, they're dead."

That about sums it up.
I'm not sure when she drew this "farmer," but it was within the past week. You know those companies that make one-of-a-kind stuffed animals from children's drawings. Yeah, I won't be doing that with this. I don't think I could sleep with that staring at me.
We've been reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which mentions plum pudding. Gemma, of course, thought plum pudding was purple pudding, so I showed her images of plum pudding on the Internet, and then I bought microwaveable, single-serving, steamed puddings at the British shop. They didn't have plum; they had fruit sponge. Gemma didn't like it, which didn't surprise me, but anticipating that she won't like something doesn't dissuade me from exposing her to it. She wants to try Turkish Delight, which I know she won't like, and which is still out-of-stock at the British shop, but we'll try again next week.