Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Whirlwind Update

Our kitchen, one year ago.

The past week has been quite a whirlwind! We are finally finishing up the last repairs after last year's infamous "kitchen flood."

And today!

This time last week, a crew of workers were sanding and refinishing our floors. I stayed away as much as possible, but the fine dust still made me wheezy. By Thursday, we were finally allowed to move our furniture back in place, but the house still smelled like varnish so we found every excuse to get out.

Luckily, we had a lot going on, so there have been plenty of opportunities to be away. For one thing, Dude had to race the world's coolest Pinewood Derby car, the Emerald Arrow!

Isn't she a beauty?

Dude worked really hard on this car! Sure, he would have enjoyed having one of those big ol' trophies, but he was pleased with the car's performance: his car was in the top twenty, 19th out of our very large pack. And Dude is already thinking of ideas for next year!

This is the pop-up card Dude made for his uncle, who provided the power tools, awesome workshop, and Eagle Scout expertise this year.

Thanks, Uncle J!

Meanwhile, Super was busy earning her yellow belt in karate. She just started lessons in the fall and is having a great time with it. Congratulations, Super!

Super took this photo of "our" Flicker.

We found some time to get back to our German language studies; we hadn't done any since before Christmas. One night recently (as a stalling tactic before bed) the kids started speaking German and I was really amazed at how much they remember! (But I made them go to bed anyway.)

die Bucher

Since they were in a "German" frame of mind, I printed some Enchanted Learning pages and let the kids fill in any words they chose from our German books. As a result, they were practicing lots of animal names, like Meerschweinchen (Guinea pig.)

Such a big word for such a cute little guy!

We also found time for a bit of math practice:

Division Facts Tips and Tricks from Carson Dellosa

And spelling practice:

Check out Jimmie's Collage for more fantastic spelling ideas!

And we are absolutely loving Pianimals so far! Thanks to Anna-Marie for the recommendation!

We have a lot of work ahead of us putting our dishes, etc. back in our kitchen, but we're very happy that the repairs are all done, and it's nice to be home. Especially now that it doesn't smell like varnish.

Hope you had a great week, too!


Sara said...

A very lovely car you have there! Brings back memories of my brother's days in pinewood derbies ...

The Adventurer said...

Oh I am so glad you are trying Pianimals, my kids love it, we are on book 2 and the kids are practically teaching themselves.

Derby car looks amazing and glad he feels like a winner. It doesn't matter where you fall in the order just as long as you had fun. My son can't wait to do it next year.

Michelle said...

Yay for the kitchen finish! I can relate. We had a flood a while back it I remember how nice it was to finally have everything back in order.

Glad she likes karate! Our 7 yr old loved it when she started, and now she's conflicted. I think it's just the stubborn 7 yr old in her though. Daddy joined with her, so now she's glad they can go to class together. I love it so much better than most of the other options for sports.

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

I love your journal name up top. Sounds like something my youngest would come up with, except you forgot Epic Adventures. . . Love your updates, we miss doing the pinewood derby, congrats on the top 20!

Sparklee said...

Thanks, Sara! In years past, Dude made "crazy" cars--one looked like a rolling Lego, and one had golden wings. This year, he went for the sleek hot rod look!

Anna-Marie: Pianimals is exactly what we needed. My kids worked their way through a different beginner book and didn't enjoy it much. Pianimals lets you play "real" songs sooner, and it's a lot of fun!

Karate has been great for Super, Michelle! The physical activity is good, of course, but it also gets her out of her shell and encourages her to be assertive.

Sparklee said...

Hi, Angie! When we first took Dude out of school, we didn't want to do anything the same old "schoolish" way! We wanted a name that showed our our-of-the-box rebel style! Plus, we're just so dang awesome! ;)

Makita said...

I love your blog title .. very clever. I also like your ideas for practicing German and will be 'stealing' that one! ;) Thank you for stopping by my blog - it's always fun to make new friends.

Sparklee said...

Hi, Makita! We also use Rosetta Stone for German. We like it, but it does get a bit tedious doing the same type of lesson over and over. So we supplement with whatever I can find!

Enjoyed your blog, too!

candyn said...

The floor looks beautiful! It must be so nice to have it done. I hear you about construction dust and smells though. I don't handle those things very well due to allergies. Once all that is gone though, yay!

Do you like Rosetta Stone? I want a more structured foreign language program and have been considering RS (Spanish), but since it is so pricey I like to get the opinions of people who have used it.

Sparklee said...

Hi, Candyn! It's great to have it done, although I am now totally maniacal about ice cubes hitting the floor, or chairs scraping across it, etc. I'm driving my kids crazy!

Do we like Rosetta Stone? Well, yes...and no. I did a lot of research before buying it, and I couldn't find anything that came close to its ease of use, sophistication, graphics, etc. I really do think it's best to learn a language in context as much as possible, instead of memorizing vocabulary lists and conjugating verbs. Rosetta Stone does a great job of connecting real-life situations to the vocabulary.

On the other hand, it's really expensive for what you get. We have totally disabled their much-touted voice recognition. It's extremely frustrating, especially for the children. (We have the Homeschool version, but I think both versions are really designed for adults, not elementary-age kids.) And the exercises are all so similar, it can get tedious after a while.

So, it's not perfect, but for the most part, we like it. We use it sporadically and supplement with other stuff to keep it interesting. My kids know their colors and how to count, they can put together simple sentences, and they can use the appropriate greetings and introductions, so it must be working!