Monday, March 23, 2015

Not a Weekly Wrap-Up

This was the week that the weekly wrap-up didn't happen!  I fell off of the train, so to speak : ). We definitely did have a great, educational week, though.

For one, Eli finally finished reading The Cat in the Hat and started reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. His reading fluency is improving by leaps and bounds on a weekly basis, and even I can't believe how quickly he's learning.

We completed several more lessons in Life of Fred: Apples for math; enough to where I felt confident in ordering the next book in the series (Butterflies). Eli is loving the Apples book and often brings it to me to read.

In science, we've discussed what wasp larvae are (we found some while I was working in the yard) and the differences between worms and small snakes.  Eli's been asking to work on his SNAP kit, but we've quite literally had no time to do so.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up...Catching Up

Last week, we celebrated Eli's 4th birthday, and in between trying to get ready for his party and finishing our home study, we really didn't spend a lot of time on school stuff.  This week, we got back down to business and actually started completing work again.

First, we started a Lent garden at church as a lead-in to Easter Sunday.  It consists of a plastic cup "tomb", a cross made of twigs, and a large stone for the tomb entrance. The tomb is covered in soil and we planted grass seed. On Good Friday, we'll place a black shroud on the cross, so that we can change it to a white shroud on Easter. We even have some fake flowers to place in the garden on Easter Sunday morning!  The grass in his garden is now getting too tall, so we'll have to trim it soon, but it the meantime, Eli's enjoying it and is learning about Lent and Easter.

We completely missed going to the library this week, so we definitely have to go tomorrow.  Because we've been so busy lately, it's the first time in quite a while that we didn't even read most of the books we brought home.  In fact, Eli is still working on The Cat in the Hat, since we haven't been reading as much this week - thankfully, though, he should finish it this week. For the first time in a while (about 3 weeks), Eli picked up his language arts workbook and completed an entire lesson independently.  We're currently using a combination of Horizons fast-track C/D, a child-friendly Disney language arts workbook and a for his reading/language arts instruction.  I wince a little when I think about the fact that he hasn't touched his workbook or the computer in about 3 weeks, but he has been reading aloud daily for 5-15 minutes, and he has completed a few of the Horizons lessons with Grandpa in that time.

In science, ELi has been learning a LOT about a couple of different topics. Dinosaurs are currently a favorite. He has an app that teaches different 6-8 different dinosaurs and their body parts, and he really loves it. He has also spent some time learning about the planets and the solar system, and we had some very simple engineering/physics discussions using his Keva blocks.  Right now, he's learning how to make a ramp for a ball using the Keva blocks, and he's beginning to have some success.  He's definitely been begging to use his SNAP kit more; it's been a while since we've worked with it, and he really loves it. We've even begun very simple discussions of experiments and the scientific method. We're planning a lot more experiments with a birthday present/science kit that he received, and he is thrilled!

In geography, we missed a 50 States Friday last week, so we picked up with Deleware this Friday!  We've also been learning the 7 continents and The Continent Song.  We've been pointing to the continents are we sing, and he's starting to make the connections.

We're using a lot of different materials for math. I'm a big fan of the Life of Fred series, and Eli has begun to show more interest in the first book (Apples), and he completed two more chapters this week.  At this point, he's interested enough and far enough along in the book that I will be ordering the next one soon. Eli chose to work on a few subtraction pages this week from a workbook as well as some number sequencing. He's beginning to connect the ideas of addition and subtraction and the ideas of addition and skip counting. We reviewed the names of coins this week, and we've been discussing the value of various coins.  We also had a discussion of "doubling" while playing Monopoly Junior, and he liked the idea...until Appa won the game twice in a row!

In the last bit of news from this week, we also had a life skills lesson opportunity.  Eli received a birthday gift through the mail (thanks Lee, Miyu & Emma!), and it required a signature. Since we were not home when the post office tried to deliver, we had to go sign for it at the post office. Today, we took the notice to the post office, and I explained to Eli what it was and how to get his box.  He marched into the post office with me in tow, waited his turn in line (fairly) patiently and presented the notice to the post office worker.  Y'all - all the worker could see were the tippy tops of his fingers - but she clearly heard him say "Hi! My name is Eli and my Uncle Lee and Aunt Miyu and Baby Emma sent me a present and I am here to get it and sign for it."  She cracked up laughing (as did her coworkers) and went to get his box. When she came back, we let him sign for it (we included my signature too, since he is very obviously a minor). She started making a fuss about how "cute" he was - then she realized that he legibly signed his first and last name and had begun writing our address when we were asked for it (I took over that job, since he can't spell out street name yet). She remarked that the reason she asked me to sign in the first place was that she thought he was just going to scribble and hand me the pen!  Eli's response?  "That's silly. Babies scribble!  I'm not a little baby!" Thankfully, he used a polite tone and was being conversational (instead of snarky, which he's experimented a lot with lately).

What was in the box became a social studies lesson:

It was a large box of Japanese candy (I think I can hear Eli's dentist screaming). There were tons of different snacks and candies included; I think Lee and Miyu tried to find one of everything ever made! The box above was included, and it contains candy that looks like sushi. We're supposed to put them together and make our own candy-sushi-rolls.  He's going to have a blast with that one!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Snap Shot: Age 4

Wow...I didn't realize what I dreary post I'd last put up until re-reading it just now. No worries...after that terrible morning we had on his birthday of all days, Eli cheered up and has begun to act like himself again.  I have some pictures from his birthday party that I'll be posting soon, but in the meantime wanted to update his "stats", since he's officially four now.

Physically, he's still our tiny guy, though he wants so badly to be a 'big kid.'  He's just about 37.5" tall and about 30 pounds.  He's still mostly wearing 3T size clothing, though he has some shirts that are a little bigger - and his summer shorts (mostly 2T) still actually fit really, really well.  In the past, he's had growth spurts right after his birthday (and again in late fall), so I'm expecting another one soon - but we'll see : ).

At this point, we appear to be in a very trying stage, though I'm hoping it passes quickly. Eli had trouble at preschool for several months with Ms. E, though he seems to be getting past that. He's a very tender-hearted fellow and is usually very sensitive. He tends to be fairly introspective and sometimes gets lost in thought. He plays very imaginatively, and I sincerely hope he continues to do so.

Eli has many friends at school and church, and it's a delight to watch him play with them. At his recent birthday party, his friends were as sweet as they could be, and they all played together so well.  Not calmly...a LOT of running and jumping was involved...but they were really cute and sweet.  Eli is very loving and caring towards the other children and wants everyone to feel happy and included, though he definitely has a best friend (Luke, of course).

He's learned a lot this year, and we've tried to diligently follow his interests. Eli is extremely intelligent, and learns very quickly. He's come a long way from the tiny baby who told me that he wanted to learn to read before he was even 2.  Grandpa tested him a few days ago (informally), and he's tested at the end of the 1st grade reading level, and mid 1st grade math level.  He reads books (Lexile 140-300) with some fluency, and can add/subtract. He used to have difficulty working with sums greater than 10, but I've noticed this changing recently. He enjoys skip counting and working with patterns - and I can't believe I'm typing this - but he also LOVES to be read to now.  The library is becoming one his favorite places, and he seems to really look forward to our visits - especially learning how to look up topics and find books that he's interested in.  On more than one occasion lately, I've been fussed at for interrupting him while he's "reading" and he's begun to frequently bring me his Star Wars books to teach me about the characters in the cartoon.  Khan Academy's website has begun to be a favorite of his, since he can explore (math) topics that he's interested in.  Eli LOVES science, geography and learning about the natural world, too.

Eli's figured out how to play simple board games and loves them. Everything from Candyland to Monopoly Junior attracts his interest. While Eli used to really not enjoy coloring, this has changed a LOT in the last two or three months, and he's been doing it a lot more.  He also really loves his legos and his puzzles. Lego time with Appa is definitely a favorite. He receive two 100-piece puzzles for his birthday. When he realized that they had 100 pieces, he was initially intimidated - then I reminded him that he'd completely a 550 piece puzzle last year.  He got one of them out last night, and after working 15 minutes last night and working on it some this morning before school, he was able to finish the entire thing : ).  It was nice to hear him say, "I thought it would be hard, but I was wrong! You guys are right!"  I really wish I'd recorded him saying that...! He is also still loving the free kids workshops at the hardware store, and has gotten really, really good at putting the kits together (fairly independently).

He still absolutely adores being in the kitchen and cooking. He received a special cook book from his foster family and loves it. His workstation in the kitchen is working out very well for us, and we're glad to have it.  Eli especially loves to eat food that he grew or picked himself. He was soooo excited to help Grandpa and Great-Grandpa plant potatoes in the garden this year, and he's already looking forward to digging them up.  We are already planning several trips to the local strawberry farm (they have blueberries and peaches, too!), since he's begging to go strawberry picking.  We're also trying to decide what to plant this year, since all of our garden will be container grown (except for the blueberry bushes we planted last year, of course).  I decided against having Grandpa help us till up an area, since we had so much trouble with ants last year (especially in light of Eli's allergy to them). He definitely wants  to plant parsley again, as it attracted the beautiful swallowtail butterflies...but we're going to need a bigger butterfly house, since Eli loves to catch the caterpillars and watch them change.

Eli is still extremely active. In addition to Tumblebus and the constant activity of Ms. E's class, we currently have him in a preschool gymnastics class (which he loves) and he may start martial arts soon. We are always looking for outlets for all of his energy : ); it's not so bad when he can go out to play, but the short days of winter (combined with a lot of cold and rain) have kept us inside - yikes!  He is very, very strong and agile for his age, and has no trouble at all keeping up with kids a year or two older.  I'm not normally a fan of a huge number of "outside" activities (meaning activities that take place outside the home), but he really does need ways to cope with his high level of energy.  We are hoping to have him join a swim class this summer (in addition to swimming twice a week with Ms. E), since he adores being in the water.  I'm also hoping that swim lessons will add a measure of safety to his fishing expeditions, as one of his favorite activities is fishing with Grandpa and Great Grandpa (and then eating the fish!).

Whew!  So, that's where we are for now. I still can't believe he's four!  Where does the time go?!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Birthday Blues

First - Happy Birthday to Eli!

Unfortunately, we don't yet have a birthday picture : (.  And, as always, there's more to the story.

I've really been struggling with how much to say on the blog. I have a desire to put it all out there so that someone will understand....but at the same time, I know I need to protect his privacy. At home, Eli has been having difficulty lately with being kind and polite. I am not kidding when I say that many of the comments he's been making lately have been with an extremely rude tone and snarky facial expressions. He has mastered the art of 'smart-aleck'....but it's neither funny nor cute.  When Patrick and I have been correcting him, he's begun to fake laugh at us or made rude faces/noises.  When we ask him to do something, he generally hangs his head, and sighs or grumbles about it. He has also been very demanding (of us) lately. We've attributed it to the fact that we have some major life changes coming, and that he's acting out because of them.  We know that we've had some stressful days as a family recently, in getting ready to become larger. But, this morning, the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back' fell. When combined with the tiredness that P and I both have from being sick with a cold this week and the added stress/challenge of planning birthday surprises and a party for Eli and his friends, it's a recipe for disaster.

And y'all - disaster is the absolute best way to describe our morning. Basically, it ended with tears for both of us, though I did tell him that even though I was angry, I still really love him.  He really lost it then, and started sobbing. Then I had to leave him with Ms. E, who felt that he might be being manipulative rather than genuine. Yikes! 

Here's to hoping things go well when I pick him up in a few minutes. I'm not the person he's expecting (he thought his grandparents were picking him up today), but I think I'm the best candidate.  I'm praying tonight is better...