Learning Notes – Week of September 28

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I’m still a week behind, but I’m catching up! Sadly, I don’t quite remember what happened this week. It’s all blurry, and I’m not sure whether it’s just because I need a giant cup of coffee, or just to fall asleep for 100 years.


A day of rest metamorphosed into a day of slacking off. Road construction kept us from getting to our parish in time for the 11:30 mass, so we had to find a sinner’s mass elsewhere. And it had especially penitential music.

I did find this new map of the US that I really think we need to put up in the Archive of All Things.


Today I had a sinus headache of monumental, and horrific proportions. I got up, got everything ready to go to work and was sitting in my chair drinking coffee when it smote me as if from on high. Mike sent me upstairs to bed and took the boys over to my mom’s.

So the standard MoMo work got done by David anyway, but I kind of feel like this day was a wash.

Halfway through the day, I realized that it was both Himself’s and Raphael’s major feast day, and I felt like a heel for being sick and not even able to go to the store to acquire something to feast upon. Then I realized I had half a batch of white buttercream and half a devils food cake mix in the freezer. So I did manage to make a dessert for them, and Himself handled dinner for me because he’s wonderful that way.


We were scheduled to go to the Butterfly Center on a field trip today, and because I was still dealing with leftover headache, we didn’t go. It’s not so much that I wasn’t up to it, as that I was afraid of driving all the way downtown and then having another headache get me and strand us there. So we stayed home, and did the normal school day.


The bloom and novelty of CCE has worn off for both David and my kindergarteners.


I cannot remember Thursday at all. Pretend we did something awesome, like build a working thermonuclear reactor out of toothpicks, okay?


Today was Park Day. David contrived to make us late for Mass, so we just went to the park. He played. I knit and tended the baby. We hit the grocery store twice, even though it hadn’t done a thing to us. After we got home and had put all the cold things away, we read about Hammurabi, then took naps.


Another FTCM day. Not quite as good as the first, but still acceptably good.

Learning Notes – Week of September 21

Join us in the Guilt Free Learning Notes Linkup at Melanie’s blog The Wine Dark Sea!
I am really embarrassingly behind on these, but at least I got them up.


I did promise a ‘To Be Continued…!’ last week, but things have been so chaotic this week that I’m only now getting around to typing up last week’s notes!

So. Sunday morning, David graces us with this.


That is the Pyramid of Cheops. There is a Duplo figure in the hollow middle of the pyramid. And that enormous thing dwarfing it is the Sphinx.

He was trying to build a pyramid by propping blocks up, but it wasn’t working. I showed him how to build a solid Lego pyramid. It was his idea and accomplishment to hollow out the middle and add a figure for Cheops.

This really makes me feel much better about his retention from the history book.


Momo day. He has his copy work and his spelling and his book of math problems to work on. I am seeing amazing results just from 10 math problems three days a week, he’s doing voluntary low level addition in his head without needing to count things out. HIs handwriting is hit or miss, though. He’s copying High Flight line by line as I try to memorize it.


We read a bit of history today, did some math and some spelling. Then I gave a shopping and cooking lesson to The Captain, because it was her boyfriend’s birthday, and taught her to cook beef & beer. We were planning to game, but it really just devolved into sitting around eating, drinking beer, and the ladies knit. It was very relaxing.


Momo work was accomplished, and well accomplished. Naps were taken. Jambalaya was made. CCE happened and was not a disaster, even though Himself (who had a cold) took DangerBaby (who had pulled a chair off a desk and onto his head, resulting in a cut on the bridge of his nose) off home to be miserable together in peace.

We were leaving CCE and heading to the truck and two toads were in the parking log. When we walked over, one hopped into the grass, and the other hid under the truck. So I had to get my flashlight out and find the toad under the truck and put him in the grass. There I was, flat on my belly in the parish parking lot, rummaging under my battered pickup just to rescue a toad, because, as I explained to David, when toads go to hide, they try to get under things. And thus I found the toad, which had wedged itself as far beneath my tire as it could flatten itself.

That counts as biology, right?

I did hold the toad up to the window to show David before I put it in the grass. David is very squeamish.


Momo day. I mixed the math up for David today and gave him four subtraction problems, but he triumphed without apparently breaking a sweat.


Today, we went, impromptu-like, to the park. We returned library books, hit the grocery store for bread and apples and sundry, packed up a cooler bag of food and the picnic quilt and hit the park. I had my knitting. David had the playground. Raphael had me, two books, and three toys, none of which could restrain him from leaving the safety of the picnic quilt and heading barefoot for the playground as well. (His shoes were in some safe but unknown and unavailable location.)

When David decided it was time to eat, we had peanut butter sandwiches and sliced apples. I read the next chapter of Story of the World aloud, and David actually listened. Apparently the key to attentiveness here is reading while eating.

We spent 3 hours at the park, then went home and watched the newest Jane Eyre movie (to research that pretty garter stitch shawl) and took naps and generally rested. It was a good day.


I do not know what the boys did Saturday. But I had my first Formation Toward Christian Ministry class, which is the basic, three semester course that you need to complete in our diocese to be involved in any sort of educational ministry. It is the first year our parish is hosting the classes, which are full Saturday affairs. And it was surprisingly good.

Really surprising, actually. The baptismal preparation is a joke, and although CCE has improved immensely with the new curricula, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. Instead it was very good. I have another one next Saturday and I’m anticipating it as potentially interesting, instead of dreading it as one more catechetical hoop to jump through.

Learning Notes – Week of September 15

Join us in the Guilt Free Learning Notes Linkup at Melanie’s blog The Wine Dark Sea!


We were all sick today. We didn’t even go to Mass, which was too bad because it was the catechist commissioning weekend. But I was too sick and lightheaded to manage it, even by myself, much less trying to wrangle two sick little boys.
I did knit a bunch on my Skydottir, but that is about all that happened. I finished one sleeve, and started the second.


We were all still sick today. It was a sore throat illness, and mine still hurt, so I couldn’t even read aloud that well. Did some more knitting. Around noon, David began ricochetting off the walls like he’s mainlined a 10 lb. bag of sugar. Guess he’s feeling better, but I’m too tired to cope.
More knitting, this time with math. I discover I didn’t increase the first sleeve enough and because the increases aren’t on any sort of standard structure I have to rip the whole first sleeve back to where the increases start and reknit it. Instead I finish the second sleeve, because I’m tired of ripping and repeating the first one.
When will I ever learn to adjust a pattern to my measurements before I start knitting? Apparently never.


Today was a work day, which is a little unusual, but okay. David went off with his math and spelling and barely did anything on either. Mom said he still isn’t feeling very well, which I can believe.


Halfway through the week, and all we’ve done is one page out of the spelling lesson’s four. Bah. I sat David down to finish the spelling and then I count the remaining lessons. Maybe, we’re going through this book a bit fast. It only has 36 lessons, and we just finished lesson nine. The first five lessons were all letter sound fluff, easy to rip through, but now we’re into actual spelling lists. I’m going to switch gears. On Tuesdays, we will do one lesson, and the rest of the week he will copy that lesson’s spelling list (at MoMo’s), or practice spelling them aloud for me (at home).
I do have to admit, the two hard, two easy, one medium model is working pretty well for us.

I had a bunch of errands that needed doing, so out we all went in the rain. David was a pill the whole time. Raphael was angelic.
Tonight was the first night of CCE. I didn’t feel all that well prepared, but it seemed like everything went all right. I don’t know what angel prompted me to make 12 copies of my parent letter and Nunc Dimittis, but I’m glad I did because I had exactly twelve students on my roster!
We are using the new Allelu! curriculum, and it is generally a huge improvement over the scandal that was Faith First, but the CD of kid music included with the catechist box is horrifyingly bad. And I was told that my assigned co-teacher switched to Sunday, but then she showed up anyway and I was not mentally prepared to deal with teaching a CCE lesson with a complete stranger ‘helping’ me. Sigh.
David forgot to bring home his CCE page that included his homework, and the supply money we paid doesn’t appear to have actually produced any sort of reliable set of supplies. So now I need to scramble some together for him to take next week.


Today was a far more normal Momo day. He had his spelling list to copy, which he did, and some math to do, which he also did. But not much else happened.


Today was a doozy of an educational day! We got up and it was pouring buckets of rain, but we went downtown anyway and spent a couple hours in the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Hall of Paleontology (and their McDonalds, having lunch). David settled down about halfway through to draw the composite Dimetrodon skeleton on display.

We left to take the train down to the pediatrician appointments (Well Baby/Child visits), and while we were in the waiting room, I read to him from the Story of the World, chapters 3 and 4 on hieroglyphics and the mummy and pyramid of Cheops. Who I did not know was pronounced Key-ops until Sunday.

After the checkups, David treated me to a frappuccino and himself to a milk and cookie and we sat in Starbucks to enjoy our treats and for him to wave at everyone coming in. He’s at his sweetest and best behaved when he thinks he’s being all grown up. I just wish I could convince him that some of the things he thinks are boring are also grown up.
After our treats, we road the train back to the museum and went through the new Ancient Egypt wing. In addition to the standard artifacts of pottery and stonework, there were three human mummies, oodles of coffins and cartonnages, and a mummified cat. David found it all very impressive.
On the way out, we stopped to watch the museum’s Focault’s Pendulum, which is always a favorite piece. I wonder if there is a children’s book about it.

​On the drive home, I tried to hear David’s recitation about the things we looked at today, but he steadfastly refused to perform. He promised to do it the next day, while we were on our way to the fossil wash.


Today felt like a complete educational disaster. David refused to recite anything about the day before’s trip to the museum. So I reread the chapters about hieroglyphics and half of the mummy chapter while we were driving, instead of knitting. I had been looking forward to my knitting time during that drive.
We were going to a fossil wash that the HMNS was holding at its Sugarland extension. They brought 1,000 pounds of red Permian dirt from North Texas to be washed and sorted. I had a blast, but David rubbed through the dirt a little, found one bone chip, declared himself done, and went inside to play.
After he was inside, the boy who took his place at the table found a Dimetrodon tooth, a Diplocaulus tooth, and a forked piece of Diplocaulus rib. I found some coprolites, and a few chips of bone.
We finished up at the museum, which really wasn’t anything special enough to merit the trip and went home, stopping for burgers on the way. I knit and felt like a miserable failure because David just doesn’t seem to be interested in actually doing anything. Just watching TV and ‘playing*’.

* ‘playing’ does not indicate that actual play is happening.

To Be Continued…!

Learning Notes – Week of September 8th

Join us in the Guilt Free Learning Notes Linkup at Melanie’s blog The Wine Dark Sea!


Ah, a day of rest. I went to work to tend to my mice. David went to play with his grandpa, which involved the introduction of a Star Wars reader. He is now obsessed with reading the Star Wars reader, and when he has mastered it, Big Daddy has agreed to get him the next one.

It’s a small victory, I guess. But I suspect I may end up previewing a lot of bad extended universe novels for content.

The next hurdle will be to get him reading better quality stuff.


Today was a MoMo day. When I got home, I found that Mom had been dealing with the same sinus crud headache we have all been having lately, and hadn’t felt up to chivying little boys to do their work and he’d only done one page of his spelling workbook (out of four) and read a little.

So we sat down right then and there and finished his spelling work. He was aggravated, but kid, if you don’t do your work when you’re supposed to, you’ll do it when I find out that you haven’t done it yet.

I’ll grant, I’m not really happy with the beginning exercises of Spelling Workout, because sometimes it’s hard trying to figure out what the picture is supposed to be. So I can’t blame him all that much. We’ll see how it goes later in the book, we’re almost to the end of the picture and beginning/ending sounds section.

We also briefly discussed the distinction between wild, domesticated, and feral animals, spurred by a random comment of mine about feral cats.


I meant to start with Lauds, but I got distracted. Then we did about 2/3 of a spelling lesson and went to meet my mom at Sam’s. The vigil lamp is almost out of oil, and I can get a 5L jug of the good stuff at Sam’s.

As soon as we were home from the quick errands, I did say Lauds. It was still officially morning. I forbade David to interrupt me unless someone was bleeding or on fire, although he was very welcome to join me.

While we were out, I picked up a quad ruled composition book for David to do math in. And so we did some math when we got home. First we did left to right addition problems, then I switched it up and started giving him vertical addition problems. He loved the latter and wanted more, so I started teaching him how to add up bigger and bigger numbers. I’ve never heard anything quite like the delighted cackling noises he made during this lesson. When I showed him how to carry the ten, he actually burst into maniacal laughter.

After lunch, David finished his spelling, and then we moved on to history. Chapter 3 of Story of the World, followed by some perusal of the Eyewitness Ancient Egypt and a couple of laminated thingamagumies that came from the Fine Art museum gift shop when they had their Egyptian exhibit. One is Egyptian gods, the other hieroglyphics.

Then we tried doing some still life drawing with a lemon and a vase and a weird rock thing, but Raphael wouldn’t leave the objects alone. Too much life and not enough still for drawing.

We went to our parish after the day school let out to help distribute the CCE textbooks into the classrooms. I’m glad we went, because we were the only ones who came to help. And then we ran to a different grocery store because our regular one was out of andouille sausage and I needed it for jambalaya. On the way home we had our biology lesson, talking about what kinds of living things there were and how we could organize them into three main groups: Microbes, which were too small for us to see with our eyes, Plants, and Animals.

David was astounded to hear that human beings are animals. And he wants to come to work with me to look at Microbes in my microscope. This isn’t really feasible, but I’ve promised the eventual acquisition of a proper microscope for looking at Microbes.


And today, he did half of the math problems I wrote out for him (and had trouble with the two digit addition, but I was expecting that) and none of his spelling. When I got everyone home, I set David down to do his work, hopefully inoculating the very important lesson of ‘if you don’t do it when you’re supposed to, you will do it at the very first opportunity thereafter, even if you would rather be doing something else.’

On the plus side, when I reviewed yesterday’s history with him, he remembered the which color crown went with which Egyptian kingdom, and where they were located, and the shape of the Nile Delta, if not the name.


Raphael is clearly feverish today and had a second bad night in a row. And I absolutely had to go to work today, so Himself stayed home with the boys. No work happened. David was puckish today, which is a sure sign he’s next.


No school today. Boys were both sick, so I took them to the doctor instead. Raphael, who was feeling better, tested positive for strep. David, who is feeling worse, did not.

David did this weird thing where (it felt like) he tested positive for strep all the time as a baby, even when he didn’t have any real symptoms of strep. Then when he was weaned, this tendency tapered off. Now Raphael is doing it too. I wish I’d taken better notes with David.

Anyway, I’m not so thrilled with paying $60 of copays every time the boys get colds. And Amazon sells a 25 pack of strep tests for $40. So I will probably buy them and do the throat swabs myself, and only take the antibiotic requirer to the doctor from now on.

The specificity aren’t quite as good as the tests I could buy from Fisher Scientific, but the sensitivity is better, and for a home test to determine whether a pediatrician visit for Ab is in order, that’s actually preferable.

We came home and chilled on various horizontal surfaces for the rest of the day. I can already feel myself coming down with whatever this is.


I’m sick. David is getting better. He (spontaneously!) read some Elephant and Piggy aloud this morning and played with his cash register. Raphael is still asleep. And really, we’re going to spend the whole day watching the Clone Wars cartoon, because what are sick days for?

I did mean to take more pictures for this week, and I think I did, but I’m too sick and tired to put them in the edition. Oh well, there’s always next week.

Learning Notes – Week of September 1st

I am so happy and grateful that Melanie has agreed to begin a linkup for her Learning Notes posts this year. Last year’s learning notes posts were always an encouragement for me, especially as our kindergarten year (seemingly) descended into tantrums, Netflix, and madness. They were encouraging because they were neither glossed-over perfection, nor overexaggerated chaos. Some things worked. Others didn’t. They were guilt free and collaboration encouraging. Occasionally, there would be a science question I could answer, and/or provide more information. Reading them was like having both a friend next door and spare time enough to talk everything over. This year, with so many of us linking up, I hope will be even better.

Join us in the Guilt Free Learning Notes Linkup at Melanie’s blog The Wine Dark Sea! The linkup widget isn’t working yet, but that doesn’t matter, because these notes are 100% guilt free! Just leave your link in the comments.


Not much went on today. We haven’t started school yet, and anyway it’s Sunday. We registered him for CCE after Mass today.

The rest of the day was spent either doing some chores at home, or over at my parent’s house, because my brother was in town, and that means Innovation marathon. (Which I won.)


We semi-officially stick to the school calendar here in the Geek Domicile, simply because Himself’s schedule is already bound to the school year so we might as well. However, I’ve laid down the law – we don’t start until the day after Labor Day. So today, we hadn’t officially started school yet.

David has, however, been going on for the last two weeks about how he ‘just can’t wait that long’ for school to start. And there’s been some Khan Academy going on, because I can’t bear to tell him ‘no, you can’t learn math in your spare time’.


Today, we rather eased our way into school. David did the first lesson in his spelling workbook and wrote an email to his abuela in the Valley. We’ve decided to just skip reading lessons entirely, in favor of the spelling workbook and dedicated time to read books. Today he read me two BOB books. I read some of The Wizard of Oz aloud. He played with Legos and helped me do laundry and pick up around the house. Raphael was needy and clingy all morning, and he could not tolerate David sitting on my lap.

Then we went out to Pappadeaux, where one of our D&D group is a manager, and she’s been nagging us to come eat on her sometime. Today was slow, so we did. David was offered the opportunity to pet a lobster, but he declined, much to her disappointment. He did taste the fried alligator, which has got to be educational. Raphael ate an entire cheese stick.

On the drive home, we discussed how David doesn’t like history because there is no punching heads. Obviously history is full of punching heads, but he declared that it was only interesting if he was doing the punching. I suspect this is just him in the afternoon droop and that we need to be sure to get as much done during the cooperative morning hours as possible.

Also, we wondered what species of alien Yoda is. David declared, in a tone of ‘duh, mommy’, that Yoda is a Muppet. Touché, son.

Fun fact, though. Yoda’s species remains unknown to the expanded universe.

In spite of the head punching objection, we read the whole chapter about nomads from The Story of the World Volume One. Except for the silly fake history bits at the end. David was suitably fascinated by the description of nomadic life and the transition to farming without needing those parts. I can’t even bring myself to read them aloud. They’re like the Belly Button Song from the Boyton book.

Then we did science, which today involved just discussing the properties of living things versus non living things, and the definitions of organic and inorganic. It is amazing the amount of information a child can absorb from a 5-10 minute discussion. Then he moved on to Math vs. Zombies, which would be a brilliant learning tool if only it would let you select a permanent difficulty level.

When Himself got home, David was prompted to tell him about the science and history he learnt. The result was a quite reasonable recitation of the definitions of organic and inorganic, and the statement that “nomads settled down to become farmers on the crescent moon.” Which is, honestly, better infomation retention than a lot of Himself’s former high school students, so I’ll take it.


This was the day I had been dreading, the true test of the curricula and schedule I had set up. David was packing up his work to do at my mom’s, while I was at the lab. He was to do the second lesson from his spelling workbook (Spelling Workout A), read two BOB books aloud to my mom, and that was it. Other than missing the last page in his spelling lesson, he accomplished it all quite gamely on his own schedule and initiative.

Here’s something I’ve learned about David in the last year. He wants to be in charge, very very badly. I’m already having more success this year than last year by letting him be in charge. Up to a point.

However he’s hit a wall on Math vs. Zombies, and complains constantly that level 3 is too hard. And it is too hard for him. I need to just buy another composition notebook and write out math problems for him to drill with the days he’s over at MoMos.

I did have him review the history and science on the drive over to MoMo’s. He had the same slight difficulty with organic and inorganic, but this time he declared that nomads made villages in the grass crescent. I think he’s having trouble with the word fertile. It’s a new word and so he doesn’t have a context for it yet. It’s a nice intersection between the history lesson and the science lesson though!


I was at work all day again today. He did part of his spelling lesson and was required to finish it when we got home, much to his displeasure. Laziness is beginning to assert itself, and I knew it would. Oh well. He did do his reading aloud.


Today was our homeschool group’s annual Mary’s Birthday / Beginning of School party. First Friday Mass at a local parish, followed by play time, picnic, and a cupcake rosary at a local park until about two.

We did not make Mass that morning. We got going too late, and we needed to stop at the grocery story for picnic supplies anyway. So we did a couple errands, then went to the park for the party.

David volunteered to say one of the Hail Mary’s in the decade of the rosary that we did. This did not end well. He hates performing, doesn’t know the Hail Mary that well, and is prone to stage fright. But he insisted, so I let him find out the hard way. Poor little son. Actions have consequences though.

After the park, we went to the library. David signed up for his very own library card, and checked out a bundle of books.

Then we went home, where naps were taken and playing took place, but not much more school.


This was an extra busy day. First I had Catechist Orientation, so I was busy from 8-1. Then I had to go to work and inject mice, so we all bundled into the car and while I was in the lab, Himself took the boys to the natural science museum to renew our membership and see the dinosaur exhibits. We were renewing our membership in advance of the fossil wash that the museum extension in Sugarland is holding in two weeks.

After I was done, we drove up to the Co Cathedral for the annual Mass of Blessing for Homeschoolers. David and Raphael proceeded to be as badly behaved as humanly possible. So instead of going out for Tex-Mex, like we had originally planned, we went home, and I cooked the boys migas while Mike went out and picked up Tex-Mex for the adults to consume after the boys were in bed.

David was devastated by this, but again, actions have consequences. And the consequence of behaving badly in Mass is that mommy and daddy don’t really feel like taking you out to dinner anymore.


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