Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dare I Get Excited???

Guess who's been reading all day?  Katie!  And she's actually excited about it!  While waiting on dinner, Katie spent a considerable amount of time reading the short story books she made at the end of Kindergarten.  Then, she read them again tonight before going to bed, with much excitement!

As if that's not enough, my almost always reluctant reader, Emily, found a new love in a Pathway Reader book!  She even said that it is the "best book ever!"  Kudos to the Amish for creating a masterpiece in the eyes of a skeptic!  Usually, Emily will read for five or ten minutes and ask if that was enough.  We send her back to read more and she comes back five minutes later, once again asking if that was enough.  This usually goes on for a good half hour to 40 minutes.  This time, we sent her to her to read and she never came back.  Honestly, I thought the child had fallen asleep!  Eventually, she came back with a welcoming smile on her face, excited to tell us all about what she had read.

I can't tell you how happy this makes me!  It's gives me a warm, fuzzy, calming feeling, especially after having such a strange beginning to the week.  I think we'll celebrate with a field trip tomorrow!  And I'm not even packing lunch!

Silly Names

Just a quick post before I forget it.  During our snack time today, we each ate something different, which resulted in giving each other a silly name or phrase that went along with our snack.

     Me:  Banana - The kids said that I've "gone bananas!"

     Emily: Cheese Stick - I told her she was "cheesy."

     Katie: Applesauce - As I was thinking up
     something, Emily says "Katie's saucy!"


My "strange" Update

If you're reading this now but haven't read my previous post, you might want to go back and read that first.  Then, this will make more sense.

Although I still welcome advice (as always), I found the MFW message board very helpful with regards to reading (1st grade).  If anyone struggles with MFW curriculum, I highly encourage visiting their message board.  I feel like I can get some sleep now!  Maybe my week isn't so strange after all.  Ahh, who am I kidding?  It truly has been!

Strange Beginnings

So far, this week has been odd.  The barking dog next door kept me up two consecutive nights and I was so tired today that it was hard to focus.  The kids picked up on that (of course, why wouldn't they?), so their motivation was lacking as well.  Emily told me the dog kept her up too, so I'm sure that impacted her focus as well.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has taught a child to read.  I'm struggling, I think.  I don't really know.  I feel like Katie should be able to fluently read beginner books.  But she's isn't.  We started 1st grade and have followed MFW curriculum from day one with her.  She is learning long vowel sounds and how words are spelled with them.  I'm looking for ideas on easing her frustration when she incorrectly says a word.  Any ideas???  I've never taught a child to read until now and I'm feeling very incompetant.  Maybe MFW just moves a little slower.  Or maybe it's just that I'm not experienced here.

Then, there's Emily's curriculum that recommends celebrating Jewish feasts when scheduled.  I want to do them.  Really, I do.  But it's just not working out.  So we talk about them.  And we make some of the projects that go along with the feast.  Is that good enough?

The cooler weather is throwing me off too. I just want to lay in bed a little longer in the morning! It's a good thing we do our morning Bible lessons in my bedroom!

Maybe I'll feel better about things tomorrow.  And maybe the rest of the week will not be so strange.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Quest for the Missing Puzzle Pieces

Friday Night Fun!!! 
In an effort to part with things we no longer need/use, we came across our puzzle collection.  It truly is a collection!  Over the years, we've gotten rid of many puzzles and this is part of what's left.  And yes, we do have some missing pieces. :(

Katie was never big on puzzles and I never pushed her to do them.  She was the second child and didn't get the one-on-one attention that Emily got.  Poor thing!  In my defense, her birth was very traumatic and was followed by many many doctor and hospital visits, for years.  We did the best we could!  Maybe I'll do more puzzles with her now. :)

Emily, on the other hand, loves puzzles and enjoyed every minute of this!

At some point, we developed a system to at least keep puzzle pieces in their respective box.  We marked the back of each piece with a number or letter.  If/when they got mixed up (as they inevidably did), we could quickly organize them by simply looking at the back of the pieces rather than assembling each puzzle to figure it out.  I only wish we had thought of that much sooner!  Better late than never. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Outdoors

We took advantage of the nice weather one day by schooling on the patio:
 I'm not sure which one has the more ornery face!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Last weekend was just crazy busy: gymnastics, soccer, camping, festival, amusement park, and then co-op on Monday.  We were all exhausted!  Tuesday was kind of low-key for us.  We got some school done but didn't stress over it.  We did what we could.  Then we kicked it into high gear the rest of the week, knocking out multiple lessons in some subjects each day just to stay afloat, or at least feel like it.  Remarkably, no one complained!  In fact, each child voluntarily did extra!

Emily uses Spectrum Spelling and this is the first year I let her write in the book instead of writing the words and answers on lined notebook paper.  I had planned on passing the books down to Katie, but they are very reasonably priced through Rainbow Resource, so when Emily asked if she could just write in the book this year, I thought, why not?  Well, this week, Katie asked for her own spelling book.  Being more prepared than usual, I happened to have a brand new 1st grade Spectrum book on our shelf.  Actually, I have two; one for sight words and the other for spelling.  She completed three or four pages in one and probably 10 pages in the other!  And did her very first word search!  I thought it was cute how she circled the letters of one word in the shape of a boomerang!  It was then that I realized that she needed some instruction on how to properly do a word search.

I'm love, love, loving our curriculum this year!  A couple friends completed this course last year (MFW: Creation to the Greeks) and said it was just "ok."  Their comments raised an eyebrow with me but since I really enjoy the Old Testament, I wasn't overly concerned.  So far, it's been a treat to read and learn more about Creation, sin, the flood, and even myths.  In fact, we find the myths quite humerous.  And Emily often becomes defensive and says "that's just wrong!"  How cute is that?  God must have a smile on His face when He hears those words from her!

Much to our delight, we found a great place to read our Bible lessons: in my bedroom.  It has great natural light and a big comfy bed to plop on while we take turns reading.  We used to do everything in our "school" room, but that gets boring.  After reading a few posts by some others who move around the house for various subjects, I decided to give it a go this year.  It's great.  And since Bible is our very first subject, and my bedroom is located on the back side of the house, we don't hear all the public school kids at the bus stop waiting for their ride.  Why did I never think of that before?

At lunch, we've been reading and enjoying The Tanglewoods' Secret, which is a read-aloud included in the deluxe curriculum package of CTG.  I was skeptical about the read-alouds because we just couldn't get into them last year with Exploring Countries & Cultures.  They never even stood a fighting chance, and we quickly gave up reading them.  I found them hard to read aloud and the kids weren't the least bit interested.  Well, they may have shown a slight interest, but certainly not enough to continue with them.  This year is a breath of fresh air in that area and I'm relieved because Emily is showing more interest in reading for pleasure.

For pleasure reading, I've put aside what I think she should read, and just let her pick books of her own interest.  She mostly chooses non-fiction, factual books but learned that the Amelia Badelia books are great fun.  Yes, they are easy readers, but who cares!  My child is reading for crying out loud, and she's enjoying it!  You have to know that she has never been interested in pleasurable reading, let alone Amelia Badelia books.  We just happened to have one on the shelf which she read and loved and wants to know if we have more!  So, to the library we will go!

Every year, I learn more about my kids, myself, and homeschooling.  Not every child fits the same mold.  In fact, I dare to say that no two are exactly the same.  For this reason, each one needs to be taught uniquely.  What works for one is not likely to work exactly the same for another.  Just last year, you might have caught me wondering why my child (then, 9 years old) could not happily and easily read 4th grade level chapter books.  This year, I'm just happy that she reads at all!  Just like anything else, it's a process.  When you're 20, 40, or 60, no one knows cares when you were potty-trained!  We just know that it happened sometime during childhood.  Reading, for us, is like potty-training.  Eventually, it will click.  It may never become completely enjoyable, but at least the skill is developing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Preparation: Confessions of a Homeschool Mom

I'm excited to share what God is teaching me so far in our studies on Creation to the Greeks.  We just completed our first full week in our lesson plans and I'm so glad that we don't skim over or skip the Bible lessons as I believe they are an integral part of this curriculum.  As stated in Celebrating Biblical Feasts, one hour of Sunday School a week is just not enough for our kids to learn the depth of the Scriptures.  We cannot rely solely on the church to teach our kids (or us) about everything God intended for us to learn!

Creation.  It's a deep subject.  It's a debated subject.  Creation teaches us so much about God and about the way we should live our lives.  God created many amazing things....on the first six days.  After He saw all that was good, He rested.  Do we rest?  Do we really rest?  Again, in Celebrating Biblical Feasts, we learn that the word rest doesn't always mean to lay down and close your eyes, or to just sit like a couch potato.  It's a fun word!  It means you can freely enjoy your day, to do whatever you like to do, not what you must do.

A very important revelation that hit me today regarding Creation is this:  Preparation.  God spent six days preparing to spend His seventh day resting and enjoying the fruits of His labor.  Why does this hit so close to home for me?  Well, I'm a procrastinator.  Almost everything I do is done in the last hour.  Don't get me wrong, procrastination sometimes has benefits (I'll save that for another post if/when it's appropriate).  But all too often, I'm cramming to prepare school lessons or, more often than I care to admit, I'm stumbling through them because I haven't prepared at all.  There's the confession.  Ahhh, I feel freedom!

Learning is only part of the equation.  I must apply what I learn to honor God; to honor the Sabbath.  So, I will try not to be lazy, especially when it comes to lesson preparation, because that's where I really feel God is speaking to me.  Here I've been sulking over being called out of my Bible study group (my comfort zone) only to find that God is providing a new form of study for me!  I'm not missing a thing!  Isn't God GOOD?!!?!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fun at the Farm

The play barn was lots of fun.

These carrots are like punching bags...

...or climbing bags!

My little monkey.

Going through the spider web....
because all barns have spider webs!

Visiting the farm animals.

This tunnel is covered in potato vines.

Katie was pointing to a turtle
that was swimming with the ducks.

This is a real, working windmill.  I think it
functions to water the nearby garden.

The outdoor play yard.

What a Day!

Today was supposed to be a better day.  We ordered a refrigerator (coming on Monday) so my stress level has dropped.  My day began with the phone ringing before 9:00.  I didn't answer.  I didn't want to get sucked in to a long conversation.  It stopped ringing.  Shew!  It was quiet.  Then, it rang again.  Same number popped up.  Ok, maybe there is an emergency.  Should I get it?  Should I let it go to voice mail and then listen to the message?  What to do???  I answered.  Mistake.  Or, maybe not.  You'll see.  It was a friend asking me for a recipe.  Seriously?  Before 9am?  After I gave her the recipe, she then shared the real reason for her call; to talk about Bible study.  This conversation could go on a long time if I allowed it.  I love talking about God and His Word!  But there's a time and place for everything, right?

My friend just wanted to give me information about the upcoming study.  I have been on the fence about going again due to school.  I've been with this study group for about 10 years and hate to give it up.  But, they meet on Thursday mornings, which is not great for school.  I truly believe God gave me the confirmation I needed when she announced the name of the study.  It's the same one my friends and I did over the summer.  It's a great study, but I'm not interested in working through it again.  So, there's my answer!  It made the decision so much easier for me.  So, was answering the call really a mistake?  Probably not.  It's another weight lifted off my shoulders.  Nonetheless, the conversation lasted about 25 minutes, which was 20 minutes too long!  I wanted to start school by 9am and it didn't happen.

Even so, one would think that the rest of the day would be peaches & cream since the refrigerator shopping is done and the lingering question about Bible study is answered.  Not so fast!  The first part of school went great, which is our Bible lesson.  (God knows how to teach better than me!)  But, just as we began to move on, Katie reaches to grab her workbook and her entire cup of water goes flying into the air!  I immediately started grabbing books, hoping none of our borrowed books would get wet.  The water mostly landed on the floor and on her chair.  I don't know how!  I would love to see a slow-motion video of it!  There were just a few drops on my lesson book (which I own, so at least I don't have any explaining to do), and they dried quickly, so no harm done.  Did I yell?  Maybe.  Ok, yes, I yelled!  I didn't want to, but you have to understand that my kids are notorious for creating diversions!  Pencils mysteriously go flying right out of the very hands that held them!  And often, my "students" turn into monkies right in the middle of a lesson.  As if that's not enough to drive a teacher mom "bananas" they often interrupt a lesson to tell me some senseless story because one or two words from our lesson reminded them of it!  The word "stick" could be in a lesson, and their minds divert to when we went hiking in the woods and they stepped on a stick, and it broke, and then they two sticks....  I'm not joking!  This is real stuff!!!

We managed to push through half of a regular day and then took the afternoon to visit a farm with fellow homeschoolers.  At this point, you're thinking 'finally, she got some relief!'  Ha-ha, you're too funny!  The noise level in my car to and from the farm was too much for me.  If my friend had not been riding with me, I think I would have driven to the funny farm instead!  You must think I have no control.  Well, it's kinda hard to drive and discipline at the same time.  Trust me, I'm not above pulling the car over to take care of things.  I've done it before and I'll do it again!  But, like I said, my friend and her son were both with us and I didn't want to scare them away!  I did place threats a couple times which worked momentarily.  I'm not sure why they were so wound up.  It could be the lack of refrigerated food! :)

I'll post pictures from the farm soon.  You'll see that I'm not in any of them.  Probably a good thing!  I'm sure my grey hairs multiplied today and would have stood out in a picture!  Oh, and for the record, I normally make sure the kids use cups with lids & straws during school.  Today was an off day....obviously!  Next week will be better.  I just know it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where is your timeline?

Our studies this year in Creation to the Greeks includes timeline figures that we are coloring and covering with contact paper.  With limited wall space, I'm trying to decide how/where to place this timeline.  The hallway is an option.  The dining room is an option.  But MFW also suggests using sheets of paper taped together and accordian folded to place inside our history notebook.  Does anyone have a preference?  What are the pros & cons of each?  My concern with placing the timeline inside the notebook is that we won't always see it.  Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Recently, I read a blog post about looping the school schedule to make sure all subjects are covered.  I tried this last year but it didn't work well with ECC because of the way the weeks were set up with the continents.  This year looks more promising.  Although my goal is to complete an entire day's lessons within the day it's scheduled, the reality is that it may not always happen.  Today served as a great example.  I've been frustrated with not having a fully operational refrigerator and having that on my mind, among many other things, kept me up too late last night.  I just wasn't able to shut my brain off so that I could go to sleep at a reasonable hour!  Needless to say, I was too tired to start school at the preferred time of 9:00.

So here's the deal.  I feel like we're already slipping into a bad habit of not getting all of our school work done. There will always be something that challenges the success of our school days.  Always.  I shouldn't allow a stressful situation to control our day.  My husband has been doing most of the searching for a new refrigartor because my mind just can't go there right now.  I don't know why it's so overwhelming to me.  It's ridiculous and is a waste of valuable energy.  Nonetheless, it's still a stresser for me and pushed our day back.

After our Bible reading, the only school work Emily did today was spelling & some work in her cursive workbook.  No joke!  Katie completed her lesson in MFW but didn't do math.  I'm upset with myself for my own lack of focus and motivation and know I need to change.  I must buckle down on school because it is the single most important task God has currently given me and I need to obediently follow through.  The kids work better in the morning.  No one wants to do much after lunch, so I need to prepare for morning lessons.  We didn't start until 11:00 today and it was just too late.  Short breaks turned into hour long breaks and before I knew it, it was after 3:30.  The public school kids were getting off the bus and I shouldn't have even attempted to do any school at that time, but I did.  Katie did fine with it.  Emily and I could not focus on her work at all.  So, we threw in the towel for the day.  I can't focus that late in the afternoon when gymnastics is on the evening schedule and it's closer to dinner time.  So, morning school is what must happen. Every day!  No more excuses.  No more fooling around!


If there is one thing I'm not, it's wasteful.  So when we realized late last night that the refrigerator had kicked the bucket, I wasn't happy having to throw out so much food.  I felt like I was being punished for going shopping with a friend yesterday morning!  Of course, I know how Satan tries to deceive us into foolish thinking, so I quickly dismissed the feeling.  But, I admit that I'm upset, frustrated, and overwhelmed by losing a necessity and having to buy a new one.  It stinks!  We've been spoiled with a refrigerator with ice & water in the door and similar models are so expensive.  Life goes on though, right?  Thankfully, between my parents, friend, and our chest freezer, we were able to save most of the frozen food.  And on another positive note, our school week started off really good!  One of these days, I'll start doing the weekly wrap up and blog more about our school days instead of the joys of home ownership!