Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brannon Academy, 2016-2017

Welcome to my beginning-of-the-school-year post for all those who are dying to know just what goes on behind the doors of our homeschool. Okay, really, to help me remember from year to year. But you're welcome to read along. 

This year, we have a fourth-and-a-half grader (more on that later), a third grader, a first grader, a three-year-old, and a one-year-old. It's busy and loud around here more often then not, but no one can say they are lonely or bored (least of all me!).  On the first day of school (July 20th), we took our traditional school pictures. Can I just say that Iain's grown-up self is killing me? (See previous years here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011)

We decided to move keep Iain in fourth grade for another year (which really means nothing since he's just doing the next thing in all his classes--some fourth grade, some fifth). We want him to graduate with his peers instead of a year ahead like he was scheduled to. We are calling it fourth-and-a-half and it's really no big deal except that he doesn't know exactly how to answer when someone asks what grade he's in. Oh the problems of a homeschooler.

We are now firmly in the six-week on, one-week-off scheduling camp. We've done it for several years and I can't imagine ever going back. We are almost at the end of Summer Term now, and because of the dates of various holidays, this term has ended up being seven weeks. That's too long for my liking! We did kind of a soft launch this year, starting some subjects right away and adding in others as we go. I have mixed feelings about this way of doing things. It's nice to get back into routine slowly, but it's hard knowing there's still more you're not doing, when the days are already feeling very full.

After a lot of trial and error, here's the schedule and curriculum we've ended up with.

Before 8:30 - Circle Time, if I can fit it in. Mason, Laina, Ivy and I read books, check and draw a picture of the weather, sing nursery rhyme songs, and draw a picture showing something about God ("God loves Mason!" "God made the world!" etc)

Also in here, Jeremy does a reading lesson with Laina using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She's in the 60's and will move to Hooked on Phonics next. I am so thankful that Jeremy is doing the lessons this year. Reading lessons make me want to pull my hair out. Ha.

8:30-9:30 - Math. We're still plugging along with Singapore Math. Lana has been doing a lot of addition flash cards using an app on my phone (she, like every other kid in the world, thinks it's fun if it's on the phone).

9:30-10:45 - Morning Time. Our favorite time! Here we do prayer time, Scripture memory, memory work, Latin root words, our very favorite - read alouds, and a Morning Time loop. And SNACK.
-Prayer time: self-explanatory
-Scripture Memory: we do about a verse a week using Desiring God's Foundation Verses
-Memory Work: this term, we're memorizing the Prologue to Shakespeare's Henry V. It has been so much fun and they've almost got it all down. We will also be doing a song from The Hobbit (the book, not the movies, and by Iain and Cory's request), a speech from Teddy Roosevelt called Strength and Decency, The Eagle, the Armor of God passage, the names of the presidents, Hamlet's Soliloquy, and A Mighty Fortress is our God hymn, and over Christmas, all the words to Joy to the World. At least, that't the plan. We also review one of last year's pieces of memory work every day.
-Latin Roots: we use the flash cards from the English from the Roots Up program.
-Read-Alouds: So far this year (this term, I mean), we have finished Holes, Hatchet (just with Iain and Cory), Nory Ryan's Song, and The Golden Key and Other Stories (just with Iain and Cory, read by Jeremy). We are currently reading A Door in the Wall, The Hobbit (just with Iain and Cory, read by Jeremy), and The Magician's Nephew (just with Iain and Cory). We're also listening to The Penderwicks as an audio book. Can you tell we love read-alouds? My goal is three per term, and I think we will hit that just fine. We bring our current book with us everywhere and find time to read it if we're waiting for something.
-Morning Time Loop: This term, we're doing Worldview using Apologia's Who is God book. We will rotate through doing Squilt (classical music study), and learning to draw Europe, and hopefully North America.

10:45-11:30 - Language Arts. Iain is doing Shurley English 4 for the first time. He's also doing a lot of independent reading. He finished Treasure Island and is almost done with Charley Skedaddle. Cory is doing First Language Lessons again, and is on lesson 96 of 100 Easy Lessons. He'll be doing All About Reading next. Lana is doing First Language Lessons and 100 Easy Lessons.

11:45-12:30 - Lunch and History. While I'm fixing lunch, we turn on Story of the World audio (this was a big purchase for us and so worth it--by this time I am quite through with reading aloud!) and the kids draw pictures of what they hear. Then we eat and take a break!

12:30-2:00 - Nap time and break time. My favorite part of the day, heh heh.

2:00-3:30 - Science, piano, letter loop.
-Science: the big boys are both taking science at Timothy this year and it comes with a lot of homework. We have yet to do it every day like we should.
-Piano: another big change. The big boys are taking piano once a week from a teacher at our church.
-Letter Loop: we still haven't gotten this one off the ground, but the loop will be spelling, handwriting, and for Iain, typing.

Iain is also taking hip hop this year. So fun!

We are praying this year for three very specific things: to do everything without complaining or arguing, to do all for the glory of God, and to learn to love what must be done.

Our school time is loud, often frustrating, often funny, and always character-building (for the students and the teacher. And the littles!). It's not an easy road but it is a good one. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Laina Turns Six!

It seems that most of my posts these days are birthday posts--I guess when you have five a year to document, and you don't post very often, that's what you get. Ha.


Our Laina-Bug turned six last week! Six! Six is a fun age, and a good one. She had such a fun birthday because her friend Avivah (who was adopted from Rwanda at the same time as Laina) was here with her family, spending the week with us. So much fun.

(Laina's last day as a Five)

Laina and Aviva were inseparable the whole week (and the fun continues: they're face-timing right now as I type). I am so very thankful for their friendship. What a gift to grow up with someone whose story is so similar to yours. Laina actually spent Avivah's second birthday with her, in Ethiopia, which is pretty amazing.

Birthday Banner Time! A Brannon Family Tradition:

We had Laina's birthday party on Wednesday (the day before her birthday) with the McLennans and the Whatleys. She requested sugar cookie bars with purple frosting and sprinkles.

(Lania got Bumblebee, the DC Superhero Girl from Nona and loved it. Also, a dress from Nona and a skirt and headband from the Whatleys, and a baby ergo and hair beads from the McLennans. And I have no idea why she and Avivah attended the party as Snow White and Tinkerbell. :) )

The other big news of Birthday the Sixth is that Laina got an American Girl doll. I had bought it for her on sale a year ago (a year! I've been waiting and waiting to give it to her!) but we decided she wasn't quite ready for it yet. For Christmas, she got a My Generation doll from Target and we told her it was a test to see how well she could care for it. She did very well, and that, along with the fact that she's taking an American Girl class at Timothy this year, meant that it was time!

She was just a little excited.

(yes, she is kissing her doll through the box!)

And so was I. :)

On Thursday (her actual birthday), we loaded up all the kids and drove to the American Girl Doll store where Laina very dreamily and happily spent her birthday money from Grammy and Papa. She named her doll Amanda and got its ears pierced. The boys spent the morning at the Lego store, so they were very happy too.

(I had been waiting for years to take her to this store! I loved my American Girl Doll--Kirsten, if you're wondering, and yes, I still have her--and couldn't wait to share this fun with my girl! Also, note Laina's party hat. The girl has style.)

We love you, Laina Kate. You are growing up to be such a lovely girl, inside and out. You have a quick and beautiful smile, you love to help people, and you are a joy to be around. We are so thankful for you! Happy birthday!

(first day as a Six!)

First birthday (cupcakes and pink lemonade at the park):

Second birthday (and one of my favorite pictures of her of all time! M&M party at home):

Third Birthday (Butterfly party at home):

Fourth Birthday (Mermaid party at Grammy and Papa's beach):

Fifth Birthday (Craft party at our house):

 Sixth Birthday (party at home and at the American Girl Doll store):

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ivy Grows: 15 months

Two days ago, Ivy Hope turned fifteen months old. She's in that delightful phase of babyhood where she's growing and learning and changing so much every day, and I want to remember what she's like right now. So, since we write to taste life twice (Anais Nin), I'm writing now in order to taste these days again later. 

Ivy's three biggest siblings are school-age, so she spends some of her time waiting for them. Tuesdays they go to classes and Ivy, Mason and I wait and eat snacks. And play peek-a-boo.


She has so many words and is learning more every day. Her latest two are kite and chair. She also says the names of her family (Dada, Mama, Eeen, Kiki, Naina, May-may--and can point us all out in pictures), book, pa-pa (pacifier), cup, peas (always said PEAS!! with delight), baby, go, doggy (and the corresponding woof), book, pretty (said mostly about her shoes, her own painted toenails, and jewelry), uh-oh (first word), cracker, cookie, no, stinky (always when she needs a diaper change), clean, okay, hot, warm, thank you (which is purely tonal and sounds nothing like the words), and my personal favorite, yes. Which she says as HEY!

She signs all done, I don't know, more, hot, and cold. More is the only one not made up. She also accurately nods and shakes her head.

She has four teeth solidly in, and is working on a few more. She still doesn't walk more than a step now and then, making her my latest to walk. Which is perfectly fine by me. She crawls in a silly way sometimes, high-steppin' with her hands. Mason used to to that, too. It's hilarious. 

She likes hanging out with her mama. She wants to be held probably 80% of the time, and the rest of the time, she plays with her toys. She cries heartbreakingly if I put her in the church nursery, so I don't. She'll have her whole life to spend going places without me. This time is so short.

She generally wakes up once or twice a night, but lately it's been a lot more often as she works those teeth in. She nurses several times a day and at night when she wakes up. She loves it, and so do I.

(showing off her green shoes)

Ivy seems to be very mechanically-minded, which is pretty cool. She thinks several steps ahead to reach her goal. She knows how to open doors, even round-handled ones. She pulls down on the doorknob with one hand while pushing on the door with the other hand. She scoots chairs out of the way when they are blocking the cabinets she wants to get into (those darn chairs!). She can open the screen door and crawl out onto the deck. She knows what to do with everything: washcloths, toothbrushes, pencils, books, etc. 

(Ivy loves ceiling fans!)

(she's very proud of herself for standing, especially because her four biggest fans--her siblings--cheer enthusiastically every time she does.)

(sometimes she gets around by walking on her knees. It's so cute and unique.)

Ivy loves this perch (below). She kneels on the trampoline and watches the neighbors' dogs on their back deck. She points and yells "Goggy! Woof!"

Her other favorite place is the big trampoline outside. Her delight is boundless when she's crawling and bouncing on it.

(And swings. Always the swings.)

Ivy is the most affectionate baby we have ever had. She gives hugs, kisses, and snuggles freely. She loves holding my hands (she cries in the car unless I've got my hand back there for her to hold). She gives out huge smiles and grins, and her face lights up when she sees someone she loves. Ivy has a sweet, loving, happy personality--a little shy and very silly. She melts our hearts a thousand times a day.

(Ivy's first Easter Egg hunt. She was not too sure about it until her siblings showed her what to do and then crouched down beside her, cheering her on.)

(Baby at the beach. When she saw this picture just now, she said "kite!" which is what she was looking at when I took the picture. She's a genius, I tell you.)

(signing "I don't know.")


She's funny, delightful, smart, and adorable. She's happy and loving and always up for reading a book. She likes playing with her babies and her toy kitchen. And her monster truck. She loves that too. She likes to snack on pretzels and cheddar bunnies. She loves drinking out of her cup. She hates the carseat. One of her happiest places is in the bathtub, and she still fits in her bunny towel when it's time to get out. Sometimes she will "make mama's hair" like her big sister does, and she is always very serious about it. Her voice is high and sweet. She looks like Cory. Her belly laugh is wonderful. She's our sweet baby girl.