Sometimes it just works

Yesterday we went back to school after a nearly two week break. It was wonderful. We all had a great time. The best part, though, was the random way our read aloud and our music class joined together so perfectly.

We are reading The Apple and the Arrow. Yesterday we finished with the scene where William Tell shoots the apple on Walter’s head.

We use Music Today and Everyday once a week for music class. Our current unit is on tempo and yesterday’s lesson involved listening to a slow piece of music and a fast piece of music. The fast piece was the William Tell Overture.

Not only were we able to talk about the tempo of the William Tell Overture, we were able to discuss why the music reminded us of William Tell himself. This was not planned at all. It just happened that we are in that unit doing that lesson at the same time we are reading that particular read-aloud. Sometimes it just works and when it does it makes the lessons so much more interesting.

17, 18, 19, 110, 111, 112…

The other day Cameron made a “cell phone” out of a piece of paper taped to a twig antenna. He drew about 35 squares for the number pad. He wrote out the numbers very well up to 19. We just hit the lessons in Math-U-See Primer with numbers above 9 so that was great. He had quickly figured out if you add a 1 in the tens place you get the teen (or “one-ty”) numbers. He apparently does not yet understand that to make 20+ you put a 2 in the tens place. Instead, he made 20 by writing “110,” 21 as “111,” 22 as “112,” etc. I do see his logic, but we had a little discussion about how to correctly write those numbers. I’m interested to see how he writes the numbers above 20 next time.

Yummy Sister

Fritz has always bitten Ani. A lot. He doesn’t bite other people usually. Just Ani. While Ani was in Florida last week Fritz bit me quite often. We picked Ani up yesterday. Ever since Fritz has been biting her again instead of me. In fact, once he figured out who she was, he got excited and went in for a bite. We’ve never been able to figure out why he bites Ani. Maybe I should try biting her to see how she tastes.

Granddaddy Saw It Through

Each infantryman, regardless of the time spent facing the enemy in attacking or in defensive action in any given territory has stories to tell of the horrors that would frighten the listener or reader to a point of disbelief, so it’s best not to speak of it.
~John A. Aller

Granddaddy was a machine gunner in World War II. He was in the US Army 83rd Division 331st Infantry Company H along with the man quoted above, the author of I Saw it Through. They landed at Normandy a few days after D-Day and continued fighting through Europe for over 330 days, basically following General Patton’s path. In addition to oftentimes intense fighting, they liberated some concentration camps.

Granddaddy didn’t talk about the war. Occasionally he would mention things like the hedgerows, but mostly he kept silent. Once my sister discovered his bronze star for valor. When asked how he got it he said by being stupid. Apparently he was in the third row of machine gunners. They were engaged in a firefight with the Germans when Granddaddy’s machine gun jammed. He noticed the gun in front of his was open so he moved up a row. That one, too, jammed. He noticed a gun in the front row was open so he moved up again. He continued to shoot until the Germans stopped shooting. That’s when he learned that his group had retreated. He hadn’t heard the order. I wish I had more stories like these, but Granddaddy kept them to himself and I can’t ask him now since he died almost 10 years ago.

I Saw it Through was a book I had to read, but didn’t want to read. I had to read it because I wanted to know more about what Granddaddy went through. I didn’t want to read it because war is terrible and the author didn’t sugarcoat things. The best part about reading it also made it hard. The grammar is terrible (“we was going”, tons of extra commas, etc.), but it so reminded me of Grandmomma’s letters. She wrote the same way. I really felt as I read it like I was sitting at the feet of an 80 year old man telling his stories about the war.

As I was nearing the end of the book last night, I realized that as Granddaddy was beginning to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, Grandmomma was giving birth to Daddy. Daddy was born on Christmas Eve in 1944 (Grandmomma’s mother told her not to get pregnant when she went to see Granddaddy while he was on that weekend pass…). Ten months later Granddaddy met his son and was reunited with his three year old daughter and wife of four years.

I have a new appreciation for Granddaddy. From the beaches of Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge, he saw it through.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore

Ani is in Florida this week with my parents. My brother’s oldest daughter turned 8 and was baptized yesterday. Ani went down there as a surprise for her cousins. They live in the land of amusement parks so of course they will be going to Sea World while they are there. So we got the idea that it would be fun to take the boys to the National Aquarium in Baltimore on Thursday. Ani’s going to get to go to a water sort of place, and the boys got to go to a water sort of place. Our visit was lots of fun.

We got to see the dolphin show. Fritz was less than thrilled when the dolphin splashed us, though.

Both boys loved looking at the fish.

This is a caiman. The picture is straight out of the camera with no enhancements or anything. He’s a really freaky looking thing isn’t he?

Even though it’s an aquarium it has some non-aquatic animals. This is an ibis in the rainforest exhibit. Cameron thought he looked a bit like a miniature flamingo.

This little lizard is at the Australia exhibit. It would have been interesting to see his frills out, but he was pretty much just chilling behind his protective glass.

I loved all the turtles. The ones in the Australia exhibit were very interesting. There was one tank with very long necked turtles and this tank had pig nosed turtles.

And of course no set of pictures would be complete without pictures of my little boys. Here Fritz ponders the enormity of the aquatic life in the world. Actually, he’s having fun playing with his tongue because it’s always sticking out lately now that he has two top teeth and it feels neat to run his tongue along them.

I really have no idea just what Cameron is doing in this picture. He was standing there nicely until I turned the camera on him. Then suddenly he was jumping and being crazy. He’s in mid-air in the picture. Once I took the picture he went back to standing there calmly. I have no idea why. It’s one of those deep mysteries that you have to be a 5-year-old boy to understand.

Do you like your teacher?

Woman: How old are you?
Cameron: 5.
Woman: Are you in kindergarten?
Cameron: Yes.
Woman: Do you like your teacher?
Cameron: Yes.
Woman: What is the name of your teacher?
Cameron: My mommie is my teacher.
Woman: You are homeschooled?
Cameron: Yes.
Woman: Oh, how wonderful!

Glad to know he likes his teacher…

How old is he? Does it matter if it gets dirty?

Right on the heels of pair, couple, two, or crowd in Wordly Wise, Ani has once again come across two more questions with more than one answer. This time it was in Explode the Code.

The first question was something like “He can play with puppets by himself.” A simple yes or no expected for the answer. Ani thought about it for a few seconds and said “Well, first of all, how old is he?” Good point. I told her to assume he was old enough and she selected yes.

The second question was something like “You can play the trumpet wearing lipstick.” Again, yes or no answer. Ani again thought about it and said “Does it matter if it gets dirty?” Another good point. I told her to assume it doesn’t matter and she selected yes.

Wildlife Habitat aka Our Backyard

We really need to mow our backyard. It’s not even like it’s a big backyard that would take a long time to mow. It’s tiny (we live in a townhouse). But something always comes up – have to be somewhere, rain, whatever – and it doesn’t get mowed. But I think thanks to all that grass it’s attracting the attention of critters in addition to our regular squirrels and neighborhood cats.

We’ve had caterpillars back there. Of course they started out in the front yard and were moved to the backyard by the kids. Now there is a cocoon back there and the kids are wondering which of their little “pets” it is.

Then the other day the big kids swore they saw a snake. Upon second thought they decided it wasn’t a snake after all but instead the tail of something. Ani went through an animal encyclopedia and decided it was definitely not a hedgehog, but wasn’t sure what it was. By their description it sounds like they saw the tail of a rat or a opossum.

Following the… whatever… tail there was more excitement when a turtle came to visit. Ani took tons of pictures of that little friend.


Finally, we’ve had a raccoon visit us. Ani told us there was a raccoon up on our fence. I figured she was just mistaken and had actually seen a cat since the cats are always walking on our fence. Then Sunday evening she called us to the window saying she had seen the raccoon again. Sure enough she was right.

So the big kids are quite enjoying the animals that have come to visit and we’re jokingly calling our backyard a wildlife habitat. Maybe we should just leave the grass long and see what else decides to come visit our tiny little backyard.