Tuesday, April 1, 2008

October 2007

October 2,2007

Welcome to October at our house. Unfortunately for all of the soccer fans here, we seem to be missing the beautiful “Indian Summer” we enjoyed last fall, and have plunged right into the wet and blustery weather. I had two boys begging me to let them skip soccer practice this evening (no such luck), as it was raining – really raining, not just sprinkling – and kind of cold. But, I’m glad to report, they both had a good time and good attitudes once they got there, and a hot bath/shower and warm jammies waiting at home.

We are continuing to work our way into homeschooling… figuring things out as we go about how we’re actually going to DO this. We are adding subject areas gradually and working through some bad attitudes about various things. For instance, Wyatt – who is (in my humble opinion!) very bright – has had a strong math aversion, in spite of scoring well on WASL testing. I am realizing how much the math was really being “taught to the test”, and was very cumbersome, yet lacking in what I consider basic skills. The fifth grade math program we are using is clearly WAY ahead of where he was in school, so we are having to slow down and fill in the gaps at a pace that allows him to ENJOY this and not feel overwhelmed. (I’m sure I remember learning my times tables in 3rd grade, but Wyatt hasn’t done that yet.) Tate, on the other hand, hasn’t been “WASL-ed” yet, and LOVES his math. He actually asks me each day, “Do I get to do a timed test today?” On the other hand, he hates writing things out by hand… well, they both do, as their minds go so much faster than their hands! Which is why sometimes (like for this letter) I let them dictate. Gunnar is just beginning with everything. He loves all the stories we read with our history studies.

We had an interruption to our quiet day last Wednesday. We were upstairs at about 9:30am when we heard 2 or 3 loud BOOMs. I first assumed it had to do with a building project our neighbor is doing, but then we noticed neighbors standing outside looking down the street at the MANY police cars. Turned out to be a big drug bust… just four houses down the street. (The guy they were after is someone I went through school with and has perpetually been in trouble. His mom lived down the street from us and her two sons were in and out all the time. When she died they each got a house from her, and both were raided simultaneously.)

Of course, the newspaper report put it so discretely… “search warrants were served…” I presume that referred to the BOOMs we heard, which were the concussion grenades the SWAT team was using! I’m told the federal marshals will seize the house (we all hope!) Too bad the guy wasn’t there, but at least the animal control managed to get hold of the wolf-dog they had.

Ancient China and math just couldn’t compete with the… civics? (yeah) sociology? (okay), occupational ed? (maybe! “jobs to avoid”???), or citizenship lesson (that’s it!) unfolding in the street.

So we turned our day around and talked a lot about what the police were doing, what the neighbors probably had been doing (watching, recording activity, calling it in), what the people in that house had most likely been doing, when the police are allowed to come in and search your house, what drugs lead to, what a plain-clothes officer on a stake-out is doing (in other words, "why is that man just sitting in his car across the street?"), why they did the raid around 9:30 rather than earlier (when the neighborhood was full of children walking to school), etc.

After all that excitement, we just couldn’t concentrate so we decided to do our “fall cleaning”… our fall “cleaning OUT”. My boys just seem to grow like dandelions over the summer. Then they go to put on their pants and long-sleeve shirts and nothing fits! I just start with the biggest, make them try on just about everything they own, and hand down what’s too small. Gunnar absolutely loves to get “handy-downs” from his brothers!

For being the littlest, he surprises me sometimes with his insight. We have been working on some homeschool memory verses, which we read aloud together each morning. When Tate got frustrated today with an art project we were working on (and wanted to crumple it up) Gunnar reminded him, “Tate! Whatever you do, work at it as working for the Lord!” We salvaged the project – Anansi the Spider - and it came out really cute.

So, here’s an update (in their own words) from each of the boys:


I am getting to be a much better skateboarder. I practice in our driveway, and sometimes Dad takes me to the skateboard park. I like to go down the half pipe and go up the other side going very fast! (Yes, I wear a helmet and pads.) I also like to go up and down ramps.

In homeschool I am learning about ancient Africa, and other ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, and the Chinese. In math I am reviewing multiplication.

Lately I’ve been reading Tin-Tin books, and a (fiction) book about Mt. St. Helens called “The Volcano Disaster”. It won a Sasquatch Award. That means it got picked by a vote of Washington school kids. I got a book from the library called “Flying Origami” which is about how to make things that fly out of paper, like airplanes, origami birds, etc.

My soccer team is doing great. We are increasing our passing skills and our strategy for the game. We practice three times a week for about 2 hours… except it’s getting dark earlier now.

In my free time I like to skateboard, write and draw, and many other things. Our friends Luke and Levi came over on Sunday the last day of September, and we had the biggest squirt gun fight ever! We were already wet from the rain.

I’m looking forward to winter because there might be lots of snow for sledding! And with homeschool we can practically play outside in the snow every day when it’s snowy and not miss any school! (Or not much, anyway.) I’m also looking forward to another sunny day to go the skateboard park again.

Just last week our TV quit working. But we don’t really care.

(Mom: Absolutely he came up with the bit about the TV on his own. And, to clarify the statement about the snow and not missing school: it’s not that he loves school THAT much, but that we don’t have transportation issues and miss days that have to be tacked onto the end of the school year! We can play in the snow AND ‘do school’ the same day.)


I’m waiting… waiting for my birthday and waiting for Halloween. Halloween comes first and I’m going to be a civil war guy – a union soldier. I will carry a double-barrel musket that I made with my dad. It is about 37 days until my birthday. I’m going to have a civil war party! I’m hoping to get some toy cannons and other things for making "battle arranges" (his own terminology!) with my civil war guys.

At school we have been learning a lot about history. Egypt was the only part of ancient Africa that had writing, so we know more about Egypt than the rest of ancient Africa. Did you know that the Sahara Desert was once green and fertile? Archaeologists found trees and seeds and bones underneath the desert sand. We’ve been reading some Anansi stories (from Africa). Anansi is a spider and he is a trickster! He tricks his friends. Wyatt is writing an Anansi story of his own, and Gunnar and I have made some Anansi art.

We just finished reading “Rifles for Watie”. It’s a story about a person named Jeff who is a union soldier and bravely goes and is a spy (on the south) and nearly gets caught! He tells a lot of good information that helps the north win the war.

I have a lot of fun playing soccer. We have had three games so far. We lost one, won one and tied one. I don’t care very much if we win, but I just like to play. I especially like to play defense. I play almost the whole game!

In my free time I like to play with my civil war toys, play with my brothers, build with legos, make lego civil war creations – like a cannon-train, and play outside.

A few weeks ago mom found a little green tree frog in our yard. We kept it in a frog cage for a few weeks and fed it crickets. We studied tree frogs for science. Then we let him go.


I got to go to my friend Juliann’s house yesterday. We played “cat club” and we played out in her yard on the big play structure. She has a swamp in the back of her yard but we didn’t go in it that day.

In homeschool we have been learning history and that’s mostly all. We study Egypt, China, India, Africa, the Euphrates River, the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, the Nile River, the Tigris River, the Indus River… people lived near rivers because they needed water for their crops and for themselves and for their animals.

We have been reading Anansi stories this week. My favorite is “Anansi and the Magic Stick”. It is kind of like the story of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia when he steals the wizard’s hat. Anansi steals a magic stick (well, he kind of borrows it). He tells the stick first to clean his yard, then make his house, then water the garden. But Anansi forgot how to tell the stick to stop and he made a big flood! I like that story!

My soccer team is doing good. My friends Ivan and Lincoln and Jason are on my team. Every Saturday we play four games. Or three. My coach’s name is Coach Jeremy.

I like to play in my room. I make things like “Necklace Island”, and play with Lincoln Logs, and I draw pictures. I made a geometric picture of Anansi. Anansi is a fun book character. He’s a spider that’s tricky. There’s “Anansi”, and “Anansi and the Magic Stick”, and “Anansi and the Talking Melon”. And there’s more that we don’t have like when he shares lunch with a turtle but he really doesn’t because he won’t share his food. Anansi ate all the food while he sent the turtle to the river to wash his flippers.

When Luke and Levi came over we fed our frog the last crickets, and we let him go. Today we found another frog! But we didn’t keep him. We just looked at him and let him go.

I’m looking forward to Halloween, because it’s close. I like to go trick-or-treating. I might dress up as a civil war guy.

(Mom: I have no idea what “Cat Club” is, except I would bet that it’s something the two of them invented! Yes, Gunnar really came up with all those names and rivers on his own. He is really listening!)

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