Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lake

Last night, we went with my brother & his friends to spend an evening at the lake. Alexandra has never been to a lake, and it's been many years since I've been to one.

My brother's friend has a boat and we went on it. Alexandra and the 4-year-old were screaming with delight as we bumped along the water. We went to a quiet cove & the men took turns throwing the net in to catch some bait. After awhile, the friend decided to teach me. I was surprised at how heavy the net is and how much skill is needed. But, they all said they were impressed at how quickly I caught on. :-)

(above: picture of Alexandra and her uncle, my brother, swimming near the boat. Alexandra didn't like the fact that she had to wear a life jacket the whole time. She also would have preferred a pink jacket like her new friends...)

We never did catch anything useful with the net - only one baby catfish. After awhile, we went to another cove to go swimming. I'd forgotten how the lake has so many cold spots & warm spots. Thankfully, we didn't run into anything scary, and just had fun swimming around the boat.

Next, we tied up to a dock and let the girls go fishing. This was Alexandra's first time to fish, and she learned to cast very well. They were all having a lot of fun.

As the sun set, we went back to the dock. I got to lay flat at the front of the boat as we sped along into the sunset. It was a wonderful feeling.

The men made a fire when we got back & roasted marshmallows & made S'mores. We also looked at the stars some more and saw the Milky Way.

It was a beautiful day and I'm ready to move to the country & buy a boat!

the stars & the birds

We are currently on vacation in Oklahoma visiting my brother. On Saturday night, we went to visit some of his friends who live in the country. We had a great playing a card game, Sequence, while Alexandra and their 2 girls played. We also had a fish cookout with some fish they'd caught that morning.

As we were leaving late that night, I was amazed when I looked up in the sky. There were so many stars!!! It looked like a different sky than the one we see in Houston. My brother even found a satellite traveling across the sky and we watched that for a while.

When we got home to my brother's house, we were surprised when we heard the sound of wings flapping. Evidently, a large flock of birds had settled for the night in the trees around his house. We had fun clapping our hands and hearing the wings. Then, we got a flashlight and as we would shine it in the different trees, we'd hear the birds flap their wings in that tree. It was very strange! And, even stranger, we never saw a single bird!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bit by the Acting Bug

Yesterday, Alexandra played parts in two plays as the conclusion to her week of acting camp. She took the camp at a local, Christian theater. This was her first time to be an actress, and she really enjoyed it.

The children, 8 boys & 2 girls, performed two plays. The first was the silly story of "Tacky the Penguin" and the second was the wonderful story about Jesus, "The Three Trees." In Tacky, Alexandra was one of the hunters, and in the Trees, she was the first tree - the one that becomes the manger where Jesus is laid as a newborn. It was very touching, especially as their teacher, the narrator, got choked up when reading about the cross and how it reminds us of Jesus' love.

Two of Alexandra's friends and their mom came to see the play, and that meant a lot to both of us. They even brought her a rose! I wish I would have thought of that!

Afterward, the children signed autographs, and I think that was one of the highlights of the morning. Alexandra had actually asked me how to spell "Alex" in cursive that morning. She learned how to and used her new signature to sign her autographs! I had no idea that's whey she wanted to learn cursive, and in fact, I still need to ask her if that was her purpose.

I took most of the photos with my regular 35 mm and haven't gotten them developed yet. As usual, with these high ceilings, my digital photos didn't turn out very well. The photo above is of Alexandra before class started on performance day. By the way, she did fantastic - loud, clear voice & she didn't forget any of her lines! They were great shows!
(below... Alexandra signing her autograph at the "cast party" ... in cursive)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Botany time

We are now back to studying Exploring Creation with Botany. We have both really like this curriculum, but I'd been having trouble finding the time to do it. Well, 3 days ago I decided to read it after lunch which is one of the times I usually read to Alexandra. It was a lot of fun! And, we've done that for 3 days now - reading Botany after a meal. We fininished up the chapter on flowers & pollinating, which is where we'd gotten "stuck." Now we're reading about seed dispersal and it's a lot of fun!

We are not notebooking, but we have been keeping a wonderful Botany journal that even has real leaves and flower parts taped into it. And, we plan on getting either a humming bird feeder or planting a butterfly garden, or both! I'm not sure what we'll do as a project for the seed dispersal chapter, but we'll probably go on a hike at our local park and look at different types of seeds and discuss how they could be dispersed.

We're having so much fun & I'm glad that I found a time for Botany - after our meals!

Abraham Lincoln & the Gettysburg Address

Lately, we've been reading books about Abraham Lincoln. Here are some we've enjoyed:
  • Honest Abe by Kunhardt - the artwork is very unusual, and Alexandra really enjoyed looking at the illustrations
  • Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters & Nancy Carpenter
  • Abe Lincoln's Hat (Step Into Reading) by Martha Brenner - funny, true story about how Abe Lincoln kept important papers in his hat
  • A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln by David A. Adler - one of our favorite series & favorite authors
  • Abraham Lincoln and Presidents' Day (Let's Celebrate) by Joanne Barkan
  • Abraham Lincoln: For the People (Discovery Biography) by Anne Colver - this book was quite a bit longer with 76 pages, but we enjoyed it so much that we read it in one setting! I will be checking out more from this series
  • Abraham Lincoln video by Nest Entertainment - we LOVE these!
  • The Gettysburg Address illustrated by Michael McCurdy. My daughter LOVES this speech! We've practiced reading it to each other. This has book has some really neat illustrations
  • The Story of The Gettysburg Address by Kenneth Richards - this is a longer book, but we enjoyed it so much that we read it straight through. It does go more into the battle & has at least 3 photos of some dead soldiers. It helped us understand WHY Abraham Lincoln gave this speech & how important, and deadly, this battle was
  • Duck for President by Doreen Cronin - this book isn't really about Abraham Lincoln, but on the last page there is a quote from the Gettysburg Address! We just happened to be reading this at the same time, and Alexandra was so excited to see it in this fun book!

Friday, July 07, 2006


After attending our homeschool class at our art museum, we went on to the quilt exhibit that we've been eager to see. In the gallery, Alexandra and I both sketched several quilts. We enjoyed it, but the best surprise was what we saw as we left the exhibit... a hands-on center! They had rolls & rolls of colored masking tape in 4 different sizes... maybe 70 rolls in all. And, they let you choose from different size boards to "create" your own tape "quilt." We had so much fun! We probably spent about an hour then, went to eat lunch, and then came back for another 30 minutes or so. (We were at the museum for over 4 hours!) Altogether, we made 12 "quilts" and we will be back to make more!

Besides making quilts of tape, they also had block tables set up where you could make a quilt of blocks. And, they had books of quilts for children & adults. I looked through one large book and was amazed at some of the quilts.

The exhibit is called "Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt." The quilts were made in a small town in Alabama that is pretty much cut off from nearby towns. The quilters are mainly descendants of slaves, and they have created their own style. They never follow a pattern, but change it to make it unique. Several of the quilts we sketched were made of corduroy. And, we were surprised to see quilts that were misshapen (not rectangular) and pieces that didn't match up. They were very different than what I was expecting. Many were made in the 1930's, but many were also made within the past 5 years.

If you get a chance to see this exhibit, I'd encourage you to check it out!

Books we read:
  • The Quilt Maker's Journey by Jeff Brumbeau - a favorite!
  • The Quilt Maker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau - a favorite!
  • The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons
  • The Josephina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr - we own this one & have read it MANY times

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rising Waters

We've been getting a lot of rain lately. When we get a lot of rain, our intersection often floods - on average, maybe about once per year. Well, yesterday we watched as the water came up again.

We started by watching in the backyard as the pool water got higher & higher. The pool is 2 years old & I believe this is the 2nd time we've seen it come out of it's "banks." When we saw this happening, I knew it must mean our street had flooded.

We went out the front door and saw the water was pretty high. All except one time, during "Allison", the street has only flooded near our house & down about one more house. Well, during Allison & yesterday, the whole street was under water! About 5 houses down. It was flooded in the other direction, too.

We watched someone try to drive through it in a small car & their car "died." I don't think we've ever seen the streets flood without watching someone trying to drive through that didn't make it. We also watched as the mail lady came & delivered our mail! Her exhaust pipe was under water as she put our mail in our mail box, and as she drove away there was a smell of exhaust in the air! We shouted back & forth to her & she couldn't believe how quickly the water had come up.
After the rain had stopped, we saw our teenage neighbor kids shooting off some type of water-proof firecracker. They were actually throwing them in the flooded street and watching them explode under water. Since our water was deeper, they eventually came down to our corner to shoot of their fire crackers. Alexandra and I really enjoyed it. But, both she and the neighbor girl got bit by fire ants which evidentally were in the water.

It was a lot of fun, as it ended well and the water receded. We watched the water funnel down the drain after the rain stopped and we were amazed at the quick current. It did show us the danger of flood waters!

Happy 4th of July!

We celebrated the 4th of July with some friends at our house. They came over in the evening for swimming, a cookout, and fireworks. And even the rainy weather didn't slow us down... much.

Alexandra was the only one who went swimming, although the only other child, a little boy almost 3, did dip his feet in the water. Alexandra enjoyed swimming in the rain - a rare treat. We did go ahead and have the cookout in the rain, although the women & children chose to eat inside. (The men ate outside under a table umbrella.)

The men shot of the fireworks while the women & children stayed in the dry garage to watch. The rain finally got heavy, but we were almost done anyway. The men shot off the finale, Alexandra's favorite part, and then we went in for dessert. The cutest thing was the almost-2-year-old watching the fireworks. When the men were shooting off the big ones, we told him he had to look "way up." Then, when they shot off fountains, etc, he was still looking up in the sky. I think he finally figured it out.

Happy Birthday, America!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Corridor of Antiquities

On Friday, we met some friends at the art museum for a homeschool class and Creation Station. The teacher took us to the "corridor of antiquities" which features Roman, Greek, and Egyptian artifacts. She also explained what "corridor of antiquities" meant.

The children each were to pick an artifact and write a story about it. They were to make up a story about where it came from, who found it, how it got to the museum, why it was so valuable, etc. Alexandra picked an Egyptian falcon-headed canopic jar. She told a story about Elizabeth finding it and giving it to the museum. She was too shy to read it aloud to the group, but she let me read it. By the way, I thought this was a great exercise and I plan on doing it again! It'd even be fun at a zoo to tell a story about one of the animals. And then draw a picture, or course.

In Creation Station the children made Roman coins out of balsa foam, something I'd never seen before. It's a neat material as it carves so easily - you can carve it with a pencil. But, it does create a lot of "dust!" And, one of our younger friends got some in her eyes.

Math Her Way

Alexandra has been amazing me with her math insights the past week or so. Last week, she asked me if I knew what an "even even" was... and, no, I didn't.

Well, it's something she made up. If you divide a number in half and it's even, and then divide it in half again and that number's even, then it's an "even even." This is a game we play - "Is 14 an even even?" "No" "Is 16 an "even even"? "Yes!"

Also, she started asking me "what do you need to add to (4) to get (6)?" (or whatever numbers). I was answering her & then giving her questions. I told her that what she is doing is called algebra, but that in algebra you say, "4 + x = 6." Then, "x = 2." She got it! (but, she prefers her way).

Sometimes I write her 4 warm-up math problems on the board in the morning. A few mornings ago, she had written 4 math problems for me: "x + 100 = 106", etc. How fun!
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