Iris is reading well! W00t! I am SO happy and relieved about this. I started out this year of homeschooling feeling like, well, she's very young for her grade (in most areas of the country, a kid with her birthday would be a 1st grader), so even if this all ends up being a horrible mistake, she's not going to get too far "behind". That said, I really wanted to work on reading with her because the approach her school took last year (lots of sight words, few phonics rules) did NOT work well for her. Evidently, many kids learn the high-frequency words and somehow intuit the phonics rules to figure out unfamiliar words. But about 30% of kids don't, and Iris seems to fall into this category. At this point, her reading is good enough that decoding isn't the main issue - she can read a word aloud and then ask what it means. :-) Spelling seems hard for her though. I don't think I ever had much trouble with spelling, maybe because I read a lot and got used to seeing words spelled correctly.
Math is going well - it seemed like slow going at first, but lately we've been zipping through the material. She surprised me by quickly catching on to addition and subtraction with regrouping and the basic concepts of multiplication and division.
Iris has been experimenting with different ways of writing. We read Dinotopia a little while ago, and she and Ben have been writing notes to each other in the Dinotopia footprint alphabet. She also got interested in figuring out how to connect letters to each other and came up with what she calls "minion writing." Once she started wanting to use minion writing for schoolwork, I figured it was time to learn proper cursive. I printed up some worksheets and she raced through most of the lowercase alphabet in a week. She has lovely handwriting, and I've had to remember how to write in cursive.
All three of the bigger kids are taking gymnastics. I'm really impressed with how far Iris has come since the first class (when she was in tears of frustration because she couldn't figure out how to do jumping jacks and upset that the teacher was asking them to do stretches that hurt). She's even been practicing in between classes and can almost do a split. Wendell has been practicing the splits as well. Zinnia seems to look forward to gymnastics class, but she's not great at following directions, and she doesn't want to let the instructor help her with anything she can't do herself. Neil doesn't seem to have the coordination to do many of the skills. I suspect that they're the among the younger kids in a 4-5yo class, and there's a lot of physical development in those two years. Starting next session, the gym is going to offer separate classes for ages 4 and 5.
We've been going to 2 different homeschool play groups - usually not both in the same week because one or the other gets rained out. Iris and Zinnia have both found friends in one of the groups, and Neil seems to get along well with everyone. One of the groups goes all the way from K through high school (plus younger siblings), and the other is mostly families with young kids - the oldest kids are 7. The latter group seems to have bigger families too - most have 3 kids, and one of the moms is expecting her 4th child soon.
After taking a break in the fall/winter, I got back to gardening. Today I harvested a few strawberries, some artichokes, and a radish. Last night's dinner had arugula, thyme, and oregano from the garden. I'm also growing eggplants, bok choy, asparagus, garlic, beets, chard, peppers (both sweet and hot), tomatoes, parsley, sage, basil, green beans, lima beans, turnips, cucumbers (lemon and regular), zucchini, grapes, lemons, mandarin oranges, apples, plums, blueberries, figs, guavas, and pomegranates, although many of those won't be ready to harvest for a couple of months. Iris has a little patch where she is growing peas, carrots, and nasturtiums.
I moved a couple of young fruit trees out of the middle of the backyard and pulled up most of the lawn. Next week, we're getting a wooden play structure installed, and then I'm going to put a bunch of wood chips around it. I'll be happy to be done with having a lawn. :-)
I'm finally dealing with my teeth. I have two baby teeth in my lower jaw still because I never developed permanent teeth to replace them. Their roots no longer exist (the teeth are kind of wedged in by their neighbors), and because the baby teeth are smaller than adult teeth, the teeth above them in the upper jaw have come down too far. The plan is to get the baby teeth and their counterparts in the upper jaw extracted and then close up the resulting gaps with braces. (The alternatives were dental implants or a bridge - I preferred the option of braces because my front teeth were a bit crowded anyhow.) I got the braces on last week. "You have sparkles on your teeth!" said Zinnia.
There's cinnamon bread in the oven for tomorrow morning, which will be here all too soon. Good night!