Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Games and Books, Oh My

Today did not go exactly as I had planned it, but it went really well all the same. It started with her asking to read an archaeology book while they ate breakfast and we talked over the pictures she had found interesting when she looked through it the night before. Then we did a narration of the topics in the book.

We went to move on to our work on money, but she asked how money is made so we moved to the computer and looked up the website for the US mint and went through explanation of how money is made. We made it back to our workbook later in the day, but it was done orally.

After money she choose to work with an animal CD-Rom on the laptop while I did a couple of puzzles with K. We took a little break and she headed off to her bedroom to do some quiet activities, all on her own. I was personally shocked, so unusual for her, but something she has been doing each day this week.

We followed up by playing monopoly jr., where MB showed of her self-learned skills of doubling numbers. It was a good game, and she is getting to that age where playing games are a lot more fun. We had lunch and rest time, then curled up to do our history. We read through the Kingfisher book and then a library book on ice age people. Then we tried to do the cave painting activity, but as much as MB likes to paint she is not very good or patient with herself about it. It did not go that well because she couldn't do what she wanted to do. K had a lot of fun doing it just because she got to finger painting - always fun for her.

The afternoon went with MB helping me to put away some food for storage and then a sea life puzzle. K chose to go back to her bedroom to 'read', something she has been doing quite a bit. It is kind of interesting that they are each taking their own time alone in their bedroom during the day and they are really getting along better at other times during the day.

Then MB went to play with some neighborhood friends at their house. K, EM and I had a blast playing with EM's new 'school' toy - something I picked up with the girls'school supplies to occupy EM during table time. Actually I had fun sitting and watching K and EM play together, K can make EM laugh so easily and it was nice to see them interacting together in a playing way.

The night went well also as it was my evening alone. Normally I am exhausted and Wednesday evenings do not go that well. But we did dinner, baths, snack, books and prayers without the first complaint. MB even asked for two more books on her list instead of her 'free reading" choices. I am riding a high tonight.

Tomorrow is our road morning. We have Magic School Bus Co-op in the morning and then straight to gymnastics. It is the first day for both. We will not be home until after lunch so I have to pack up snacks and meals for the girls along with clothing changes. I am purposely not planning a lot for tomorrow afternoon, so it will probably be more child-led. Which, I will be honest I kind of enjoy. It will be really nice when MB learns to read and can take a larger responsibility in her learning and decisions about what she wants to learn.



Am I wearing a sign?

The funniest thing happened to me yesterday. I took the girls to the park to have a picnic lunch with a friend who has a daughter that is a friend of MB's and is starting K full-time at the end of the week. We had lots of fun playing, eating and feeding the ducks and turtles. The park was all but deserted. Towards the end of the time, EM began to get cranky so my friend took MB, K, her daughter and son to the restrooms while I walked with EM. The mother of a little boy that K had befriended struck up a conversation with me, during which we found out that her two sons were to the day the same ages as K and EM. Then she just looks at me and says "So do you homeschool?"

It stopped me. I tried to think if my friend and I had been talking at all about hs-ing, but no, we had just been visiting. I answered yes and we began to talk about it as she is considering it for her sons and had decided against enrolling her son in preschool this year.

It was a good conversation and I gave her my number to call me if she ever wanted to get together again. But even today I am still left scratching my head trying to figure out how she knew. Because, first of all MB would only be in K this year and they do staggered starts so it takes up to a week before all K's are actually in school. And secondly in this area there are so many year-round schools that one always sees children out of school. Just seeing MB shouldn't raise any signals by itself. So I have no clue, unless I now have an invisible sign around my neck.



Free Baby Stuff

I am trying to figure out what to do with the infant things that are taking up room in EM's bedroom. I thought that perhaps there might be a displaced family from Hurricane Katrina that will be having a baby this fall or winter that will need baby goods once they are settled. I will ship these goods once they have a place to be.

I would like to offer a very neutural bassinet (white eyelet material) with mattress and covers. It is on wheels and fits easily between standard doorways. It was used very, very little with my two youngest girls and is in great condition.

I also have bags of infant clothes for a little girl. Mainly Carter brand. I have 0-3 mos sleepers, 3-6 mos sleepers (mid-south winter weight), 3-6 mos spring clothes, 0-3, 3-6 and 6-9 mos onsie t-shirts.

I also have an infant bathing tub, a front-pack carrier and a nojo sling.

If you know of anyone who might need these in the future please let me know. I understand that people are dealing with immediate survival needs right now, but I thought I would put this out there for future reference.



Goal Setting

I am horrible with setting goals, for myself and for the girls. But I am realizing more and more that I have to sit down and set goals for months and year concerning our homeschooling. Since I want to be relaxed in my approach and bendable (my overall educational goal for educating the girls is that they learn how to learn and WANT to learn) so that we can go off on tangents or can concentrate on whatever subject they select for the day. Yet at the same time I do have a certain structure that I want to follow in an over-arching way. The best way is for me to have goals set down so that I can measure understanding and how far along the path we are. It isn't about how many pages we cover in a month or even that MB can write a thesis on a certain time period.

Right now I want to offer the world like a buffet dinner to her. A taste of this and a taste of that, in hopes that in time she will find that chocolate creme pie that she cannot resist and must savor every morsel of. This has its drawback in that at the end of the year I don't want to realize that in offering her the choicest, tastiest bites on the buffet, but only really little itty-bitty bites she has not ingested the nutrients that she needs to grow on. Also, that with so many choices and platters to taste she is so confused that she cannot decide what to actually eat. I want to make sure that we are hitting our major food groups in proportion while also allowing time for my exploration.

Okay, enough of the food metaphor. Anyway, how do I do this? I am using STOW I for history. I am doing life sciences for science, but not really in the order of the WTM, but in what I feel is a better fit for us. Math I am kind of doing 2 concepts at once, while also allowing for self-interest exploration into other math concepts. Today MB chose to do some phonics work on her own, although I am not pushing that right now. Handwriting is copywork, just to improve her handwriting - especially writing using lowercase. Other subjects and topics flit in and out of our days depending on various things.

I feel as though we are drifting and not really grounded into any since of WHAT IS SUCCESS at the end of the day, week, month, etc. Yet, I do feel as though we are moving forward and MB is learning things, although not sometimes the things we spend time on. Is this unusual?

And when I sit down to try to formulate goals I am stymied because I don't want to make them impossible and out of reach, nor do I want them to be easy (that is one reason we are not in ps).

Way too late to be trying to find the answer to this tonight.

On a good note, and hoping I am not jinxing myself, we have had two really good days. School is going well in that we are having very few arguments. Dawdiling (sp?), yes, arguments and fussing - no. I can live with that. The Attitude ladder has continued to work. MB works very hard to make sure that she stays in the top 3, and it only generally takes one warning that she is pushing it to bring her back into focus.

The biggest problem has been getting to all the reading. MB can only handle being read to for so long, even if she is doing something else. The whole cuddle up and read idea was not created with my girls in mind. That seems to be the thing she most wants to procrastinate on, and it isn't even like I am making her read. But we will fall in line an I am sure I will eventually figure out the right mix for it.

As well as things are going with MB, they are definitely heading south with K. I can tell she is going through on of her 'developmental' periods. The last week or so I feel like I am talking to a wall. K is generally a self-contained child with hard-to-ruffle feathers. But lately I am either being totally ignored or am subject to all-out, fall on the floor tantrums at the slightest thing and I really don't know which one I detest more. Today is one of those days that I wish I could send her with mamaw for 2 weeks until it might be over.

EM is teething 4 teeth, so yeah, that is fun. And while I was cleaning up puppy mess K decided to be helpful and feed EM...some playdoh food she had made. Thankfully it was non-toxic and she only had a little, but it was enough to set her off into a puking fit and totally mess up her mood for the rest of the afternoon.

Okay, I told you I was bad at setting goals. My goal was to be in bed by midnight every night this week -- I have yet to meet that one.



Tuesday, August 30, 2005


What a horrible tragedy occured yesterday in the gulf coast states. After watching a little of the during storm broadcasts first thing in the morning we turned off the tv to concentrate on our day. When I turned on the tv again to watch while cooking dinner I was absolutely floored. The stories I heard were stunning and shocking, but later in the night when DH and I were watching it was even worse. I cannot even imagine how the support organizations and government are even going to be able to start to provide the basic necessities for all the survivors. There is just such a large number of people who are affected and no land that is suitable for temporary housing. I want to do something, but until I have some idea of how the organizations are going to try to provide aid I am going to wait. I have seen to many times that organizations have done absolutely useless and expensive things in an attempt to "help."

On the same note, when hubby came home from work last night he told me that we needed to go ahead and top off the gas tank in the van. Several gas stations were beginning to run out of gas and close their pumps. Understand that my husban is not a "dooms-day" personality, but this time he firmly believes that gas prices will soar when the stations open back up. So after dinner we loaded up the car and headed to our local warehouse store. We went ahead and picked up meat and necessities for the next month or so and then headed to the member gas station. Then we waited in line. Many other people believed as my husband did, that last night was the night to fill gas tanks. When we finally got to the pump the attendent came out to tell us that they had run out of regular unleaded, but were selling premium at the cost of regular - which was a very nice thing for the company to do, all things considered.

Hubby and I also had a long talk last night about this coming winter. Our financial belts are going to be pulled and stretched and we need to make plans about how we are going to approach it. Groceries are climbing and are only going to get worse. Fresh, local grown produce which is normally a good option this time of year is not very good and much more expensive than in the past. (Our ag season was horrible around here - dry, flooding rain then dry again) Hubby commutes to work - 35 miles each way, we are already dreading those gas bills. Then there is heating our house. We have natural gas for heat, and every month we continue to receive notices about raises in gas prices.

I look at the list of affected prices and realize for one reason or another, the only thing that we can really control at this point is our house heating bills. We already do as well as I believe at the grocery store and I limit my driving and combine trips as much as possible, which stretches out trips to the gas station to about every 3 weeks. DH is going to put some new tires on his car and give it a tune up, but there isn't much we can do about his commute.

So, I think for right now our kitchen update is postponed until maybe Spring. Instead we are going to spend the fall doing window and door work to kind of weatherize those areas better. I think might buy one or two of the ceramic room heaters to use in our great room this winter, and just close off the rest of the house during the day. DH is also going to see about helping his dad clear some wood from their property and of course bring that home for our use.

This is going to be a long, hard winter for many, many people in the country.

Prayers for peace and comfort to all


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Summer Wrap-up and Fall Forward

Although I am homeschooling year-round, this time of year makes me think about new things, new paths and new opportunities. Tomorrow, as far as record-keeping goes we begin our new school year and with it a few new studies and hopefully a little more faithful adherence to our new schedule. Since tomorrow is the future and I have heard "always start where you are," I have been reviewing our summer, success and not-so-much success.

Summer Wrap-Up

This summer we really relaxed and I tried to focus on each child's interest in planning our days. Field Trips, family trips and nature studies ruled the days. Books and pencils were brought out only a few days a week, and then were mainly used as a way to provide structure on those totally unstructured days.

My primary goal of having MB reading independently was a not-so-much success. We headed into it working diligently through May and early June. I grew tired and frustrated by the arguing and pouting about reading lessons, and began to approach it warily and half-heartedly by the end of June and through July. By the end of July and MB's big trip I have put away the phonics and sight word books and lessons. They will continue to gather dust for a few more months until I believe we are ready to attack it more positively. The success from it has been that since MB has returned from her trip she is much more interested in knowing what words are when I am reading and is spelling them outlou to herself after I tell her what they are. And, while we were visiting last week we happened to catch an episode of Between the Lions and I caught her sounding out the words as they popped up on the screen. I am ready now to let her figure out when she is ready to read on her own.

Math has been a success for us this summer. While we have been learning about money together, MB has learned her +1 - +3 facts on her own.

MB can recognize four different types of butterflies while in flight.

MB taught herself how to tie shoelaces

Oregon Trail study was a huge success and a great example of how we should do other studies

MB was able to watch a dog give birth and recently we have adopted one of those puppies

For MB, the largest success has been in her confidence and attitude improvements over the summer.

K can count objects to about 15

K can look at a group of objects and tell how many are there (5 and under)

K can recognize about 8 letters on sight

K can recognize her written name

K has her color and shapes down cold

Both MB and K can recite The Lord's Prayer

Fall Forward

So now that I can look back on our summer and feel with some confidence that I am not entirely messing up the kids, I can look forward to the fall and plan our next steps.

First of all, I am continuing the phonics/active reading teaching hiatus. We are not going to have reading lessons for the foreseable future. Instead we are going to concentrate on Math, Science and History with learning through reading and craft activities.

For the next few weeks in math we will be continuing with money. We are going to do money until MB can understand currency and how to figure out what coins/bills she needs to use to make a purchase. Then we will be moving on to learning time.

While, we are actively working on money and time, we will also continue with MB self-teaching herself addition facts. For this I have several different games and activities that she already enjoys doing.

Since we are following SOTW I for history we did history an archaeology last week and are moving into early man for the next couple of weeks. Our planned additional history reading include:
The First Men - Julian May
How They Lived: An Ice Age Hunter - Lucilla Watson
First Painting - Kathryn Lasky

In science we did an introduction to mammals last weeks. This week we will begin a couple of weeks on wolves and other wild dogs. Science reading will include:
Wolves - Betty Polisar Reigot
World Book's Animals of the World: Wolves and Other Wild Dogs
Look to the North: A Wolf Pup Diary - Jean Craighead George

And our reading that integrates both science and history are:
Just This Once - Alice and Joel Schick
The First Dog - Jan Brett

Night-time/Literature read-aloud is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Those three subjects are going to be our primary focus. We will of course still do our nature studies, basic geography workbook, copy work (copying familiar nursery rhymes), arts & crafts and various other child-interest.

This week we are beginning our bible study which will be for MB & K. We are beginning with the story of creation and will actually spend 4 weeks on it. Each day will have some craft or music activity.

K's work is really going to continue to be a lot of play. She likes to write and draw and I am going to try some table work with her each day working on at first holding a pencil correctly and drawing/copying lines. We will also continue our letter play and various other things.

On another note, my prayers are with all those people who live along the gulf shore and in the entire gulf states. Katrina is big, bad and mean. If you live in one of the gulf states and are in land, please do not let down your guard these storms can carry a mean and nasty wallop inland. I have lived in NC through both Hugo and Fran and have seen those storms create more chaos and destruction 100 miles inland than it did on the immediate coast.



Friday, August 26, 2005

The First Day of School

The first day of school for most of the state was on Thursday. Today the homeschool group I belong to had their annual school-year kickoff picnic/party for the families. I have been told that it is generally the largest attended event for the group, followed only by the end-of-year showcase.

It was a lot of fun and only brought about a mild case of stranger-anxiety for myself. The crowd was huge and lots of other children for MB to meet. So much so that it was a little overwhelming at first. After a quick trip to the playground to compose ourselves, MB jumped in to all the activities going on.

When we sat for lunch, MB introduced me to another girl that she had meet. She leaned over an whispered to me "she homeschools too." I leaned over and whispered back, "yes, everyone here homeschools." Her eyes got reall big as she looked around the picnic shelter, "Wow"

At the end of the event we had a musical performance by some members who belong to a scottish pipe and drum club in the community. The children really enjoyed it and it brought other people who were at the park over. As I was leaving a woman stopped an asked me what was going on. When I told her what it was she smiled and said, "I just wondered because I thought it would be to early in the school year for a field trip." Then she went on to tell me that her family had just returned from several years in Germany and that she had meet some hs families there through a place where she taught English. She thought it was pretty neat to see so many in one place. At this point about 2/3 of the crowd had already left.

Just after that a police crusier pulled up to find out where the music and all the kids were coming from. After they found out what was going on, they happily talked to the children and handed out the little plastic badges and other community stuff they keep on hand. A lot of interesting stuff, some expected and some unexpected.

Next week our 'school year' starts in earnest. I will be adding in the last of our regular subjects to the daily schedule, the bible study. I have picked out a book to use that is actually written for sunday school classes. It has enough different activities that we can do about 4 lessons a week to cover the book in a year. This one focuses on the various bible studies and is to be used with 4-6 year olds, but after looking through it I realized that it will not be too hard to make the lessons work to include K. My plan is to start off the day with it, with all of us participating in the lesson. Then K will have a break while I work with MB one-on-one for a little while. Then MB will have a break while I do an activity with K.

In addition to having our full complement of studies introduced we will also be starting 2 of our hs group activities. Even though we have continued to do school throughout the summer, I have that whole back-to-school, beginnings, flutter in my stomach. Not to mention the nerves of actually trying to do something new this year.

So, to start off the new year I went out tonight and purchased some little goodies of the discounted, back-to-school racks and am going to make little goody bags for the girls to have Monday morning.

For myself, to start of the new year, I would like to be able to spend most of this weekend getting cleaned and organized. We have so much STUFF. It is starting to drive me crazy. And, with the new puppy and a newly crawling baby, becoming dangerous. I have to figure out what to do with the toys, we have a lot of toys for all the age ranges and what we have the girls do play with. But we really, really need to declutter.

Then, there is all the infant stuff. I have no idea where to put it. And until the decision/action is made concerning future family members I refuse to get rid of it (I did that once already and had to replace everything). But right now, EMs room is beginning to look less, and less like a nursery and more like a storage room.

On top of all that family will be coming back through our house, as my sister and neice will be returning to the west coast so my mom will be staying with us for the weekend. I can just feel the stress beginning to climb back into my back.

Okay, instead of whining about it here, I better go and actually do something.



Thursday, August 25, 2005

Where To Start

We are back home after a few days visiting my family. The trip was fun, although very short. The girls got to spend some time with their cousin and my sister in addition to my parents. MB was able to hit the waves again for the first time this year. I can already see her becoming a beach bum in future years.

We went to the beach on Wednesday and hit the best time for the waves that day. They were perfect sets for the girls. K did not care so much for the ocean, but eventually warmed up to it after my sister carried her in several times.

She actually wanted to spend most of her time hunting for seashells.

After, we went back to my dad's place for a dip in the pool to wash the salt water and sand off our bodies. Then the girls decided on a tea party. I don't know what to think about the fact that K chooses to wear her hats this way and the fact that she uses the word "booty" a lot.

We headed home shortly after lunch today and it was a quiet drive home for me with all the girls snoozing in the car after their busy week. I was able to listen to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe without complaints from the backseat driver.

The reason we had to come home today was that I had a meeting to go to tonight, and when I came home from the meeting, Ginger was waiting for me.

So far she and Brianna, our older dog, are getting along great. We have had to get on the girls about curbing their excitement. I know it is really hard to do, but it was exciting both the dogs and the whole house was going crazy.

Ginger really is a very relaxed dog. She is very trusting of all of us and will run and chase with the girls, but as I write this is sleeping soundly in the kitchen. I haven't heard a whimper or cry out of her yet. Lets hope this continues through the night.

Tomorrow we have the kickoff picnic for the HS group. I still have to come up with some sort of dish to take with us. We will probably only stay for the morning portion, as there is so much laundry to do and I need to go grocery shopping. I am down to EM's least favorite foods in the pantry.

Speaking of EM, since I have included pictures of everyone else I must include one of her enjoying one of her favorite snacks during this past week.

That would be an entire vanilla wafer in her mouth that she is showing.



Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ahhh, Relaxation

I do not know why it always takes me so much to want to come down to the beach to visit my family. I mean, what could be better than having family living at the beach, free place to stay, free food and family members fighting over who gets to keep the children for awhile. I should be down here almost every week from April through October. But, it never works out that way. Always seems to be too much trouble to pack everyone up and drive down, plus I miss hubby and home so much when I am away. But it is sure nice down here.

It took us about two hours yesterday morning to get us all in the car and on the road, and that is with our suitcases already in the car the night before. The ride down was riddled with traffic and I have all that new car stress, because I always feel like something is going to happen to my car since it is only a few weeks in my possession. Other than that the ride was very good.

I have moved around the sitting "assignments" for the girls in the van and it worked so much better. I moved MB to sit in the middle seat next to EM, and K is in the back seat by herself. Personality wise, this is great for everyone. MB like to be in the "middle" of things and carry on conversations with me most of the time and we no longer have to yell back and forth across the car. K, who is more private and introspective can sit in the back and color or look at her books without MB trying to 'interact' with her. It also works because MB is big enough to help me pass things back through the car if necessary. She can entertain EM if that is needed or pass a bottle of water to K. I think I will keep this for awhile.

On the way down, we listened to MB's addition facts music CD twice before I could not do it anymore and then listened to just about the entire "Magician's Nephew" on CD. If there is anyone out there that enjoys The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series by C.S. Lewis I have a great find for you. Focus on the Family has released all the titles of the series down in a radio play format (different actors, sound effects, etc.) It is really, really awesome. I found it at Walmart where you can buy the individual titles for about $7 each, or the entire series for $35. It is well worth it. The voices are done by British stage and screen actors and if you close your eyes (I don't recommend when driving) you can just imagine the book.

I spend an enormous part of my day reading out loud to the girls, but I love being read to also. This radio play (as opposed to an audio book) fills that need for me.

After we got to my Dad's house were we met my sister and neice, all the girls jumped in the pool for a swim. My neice and MB had great time, being the two best swimmers. And once my Dad got home from work and joined them there was a lot of dunking and throwing and general hi-jinxs. K swam around in a ring-bouy most of the time, which is so much more than she has done all summer. She was totally fine in the water, as long as MB did not come to close (MB is known to splash K). EM was soo relaxed in the water. I sat on the steps and had her in my lap. She just stretched out like a sunbather and enjoyed watching. No wiggling to get out of my arms, no crying about the water, just total and complete relaxation.

Today I am going to take MB over the the beach to met my sister for some boogie boarding while my mom and I take the others for some shopping. I am hunting a bench for our kitchen table and am hoping I might have some luck down here since I am not having any at home.

Have a great day!!



Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Pain In The Back


Last night, when I finally went to bed (about 12:30 or so) suddenly I had a horrible back pain or spasm. I am not sure which, but it when on and on. I tossed and I turned and I could not find any position that I could get comfortable in. The pain started under a shoulder blade and wrapped itself around my chest and I started having trouble breathing when I was in certain positions.

About 2:30 I must have fallen asleep for a little while, but the pain woke me up again a little after three. I gave up and went in search of pain medication. I hate taking anything, and I probably should have taken the pain med + sleeping combo, but really try to shy away because they always make me feel so bad in the morning. I ended up taking some double strength ibuprofen that was left from after EM's birth. I laid on the sofa watching horrible, middle of the night tv until I guess I passed out around 5:00 am.

Off and on all day the pain keeps coming and going, so I cancelled my trip to visit family today, and will try to leave again tomorrow morning. I was going to cancel it all together because I just feel like there is so much to do around the house. So much that I noticed today from my rare view of lying on the sofa all day. Things that I normally overlook because I am so busy and have my mind on other things. But today I could see the dust bunnies under the TV cabinet, and the stray toys peeking out from behind furniture.

DH talked me out of canceling it. DH is staying home for work, but we are going to visit my family, see my sister and neice while they are on the east coast and celebrate my fathers birthday. I am sure several family members would be unhappy if I didn't show up with the girls.

I want to clean, I want a fresh start for the fall. I want things to look and feel nice. But of course, the one day of the year that I get this urge, I am laid-up. Isn't that just too much? I am sure by the end of the week I will not even be thinking about it again.



Friday, August 19, 2005

Our Week

This week has actually been a very pleasant week, given what I was expecting and all. I did have the very large, and very detailed project that came in about the same time MB and the family did. In order to give myself the time and organization needed to balance all things, we went ahead and moved right back into our school day schedule. Although the amount of actual schoolwork was somewhat limited.

We have done math (continuing our introduction to money and adding with money), writing practice, SOTW - What is History & What is Archaeology, Geography, and Science. We did not do any phonics or sight words this week, as I am still waffling on the best approach to use with her. Also, we were having such an enjoyable week I just didn't want to blow it this week with one of those scenes.

We also did some health education today with the big girls during which I talked to girls about not touching others in their private area and not having others touch them. And telling someone if they are uncomfortable with the touch and listening when someone says to stop touching them (anywhere, period). DH comes home tonight and is cuddling/tickling K, he gives her bottom a couple of love pats and she tells him "stop touching my booty," he said he just about rolled on the floor laughing.

It felt really good to get back into some type of rhythm and to have all my babies home again. Monday through Thursday we basically did school and household chores in the am. I was able to wrok on the computer for a couple of hours during quiet time, then back to the computer in the evening for work until 12 or so. Then I spent an hour on lesson planning for the next day. I basically got to bed about 1 am.

I finished the project Thursday evening, so today was my day to play catch up on the house, and to just spend some time with the girls. We went to park day today and MB and K each made new friends and had a good time. I had planned on hitting the bookstore after it was over, but it was so hot and we were so pooped, we decided that we would just come home and veg together.

When we got home I jumped on-line for a little bit and ordered the books I was going to try to find at the bookstore. By next week we should have our library stocked with most of the books we need for the next few months, barring the ones I am borrowing from the library.

Then we did some science reading. I am concentrating on mammals right now, specifically canines (dogs) and felines (cats). Because, one we will be getting a new puppy next week, and two they tie in so well in domestication with early people and egyptians for history. The book we used today is a 1976 Childcraft book The Animal Kingdom that my mom had when she taught 2 nd grade. We talked about how animals and plants are different. MB found a false statement in the book and made sure to point it out. The book emphasized that one of the main differences is that animals eat and plants make their own food. MB pointed out the Venus Flytrap as a plant that eats. I need to look it up with her so that we can find out why.

Her comprehension is so awesome, I love that she picks up on things like that. Even though she is not an independent reader, she learns so much.

After science we ended up all together on my bed, where we had the health talk, and then MB wanted me to read more of The Wizard of Oz, our read aloud. It is a children's classic abridged version, but really enjoying it. By the time my voice was about gone, K had fallen asleep and it was time to do some cleaning.

When DH got home, MB and I went to the library to pick up books for the next couple of weeks. We were able to find some very good books to cover archaeology, early man, and wolves. MB also picked out four picture books that she found interesting. It was nice to go out with just her.

We also went together and picked out our new little girl puppy. We could have brought her home tonight but are not ready for her at all. Also, I am taking the girls to visit my family for the first part of next week and did not feel like traveling with a new puppy. So we will get her when we come back on Wednesday. We do not have a name yet. MB suggested Sara, but it just doesn't fit. Maybe something will come to us over the weekend. She is very sweet and pretty calm, when compared to her sibilings, but she will also play and engage with the girls too. She is not skittish, just laid back.

EM is 8 months old today. Last night I heard her start laughing and turned to find her on all fours rocking back-and-forth, totally enjoying the new view and all. She will be crawling soon and really getting into things. I definitely need to start being stricter with the big girls about leaving their things laying about.

Life is good. Everybody is home, we are enjoying each other, lots of books, more books coming and a quick visit to family in a couple of days. I feel so very, very blessed as I head to bed tonight.



Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I really do not have time to blog, but I can't help sharing some of the changes I am noticing in this child my mom brought back from the trip.

I know have a more mature-acting, seemingly elementary-age child living in my house, as opposed to the the child that had seemingly tettered between preschool and school-age all summer. The child that one minute would be 6 and the next a mass of 3-year-old emotional turmoil. Of course, I would love to say that it is all because of the new schedule and chart that I have implemented in our days, but even I cannot do that. We have only been on it for 3 days, and she has not really even really trie to push the boundaries, yet.

What I have noticed is CONFIDENCE and a sense of knowing herself, that has never really been there. She has gone on a big trip all the way across the country without me, she has experienced things without her immediate family.

MB has always exuded confidence and a "I can do it" attitude when it comes to physical, kinesthetic type activities, but working with her on her lessons and talking to her about things that I know she knows she was very shy and always seemed to be worried that she might get it wrong. The past couple of days we have had a child bubbling over to share whatever information on a topic she might have, one that bites at the chance to show me that she knows the answer.

Truthfully, I am a little taken aback by what she has just 'picked up'. Today when I told her that we would be moving into dimes tomorrow for math and that we would start with a review of counting by 10s, she promptly receited to 100. She has never done this alone, no matter how many times we have reviewed it. Then again tonight it was a math game she had picked up and fiddled with while I was reading to her, when I glanced over I noticed that she was doing her +3 and +4's with little problem. Something we have never gone over in any organized way. There have been other instances concerning some science and biology of insects. She has just been willing to take chances and share so much - even, gasp, emotionally.

Can I say that this has extended into the reading arena, no, she is still fighting that, but instead of with a "I can't do it", it is now a "I don't like to do it." That battle will come later. Things are going too well right now for me to rock that ship.

All I have to say is that I hope that I don't do any damage to this new persona in the house, with my awkward parenting. The first one is always so hard, I really am a more confident parent with K an EM than I am with MB, even now.



MBs Trip In Pictures

I have not had much time since MB returned as I have also been sent a rather involved project to work on this week. So, I have been working very hard to balance my time between the girls, giving MB the mommy time she seems to be craving since she returned and the project.

Today I instituted the daily schedule, and for the first day it seemed to work very well. MB responded well to knowing when things were supposed to happen, and even reminded me when I started to do something out of order.

We have also started using the "'Tude Chart" since MB came back. Tonight was the first time I had to move the pin down. Up until talking back to me this evening about cleaning up, MB had been very responsive and a generally good attitude. I know that she was tired this evening, and if she acts tomorrow like she did today, I have no doubt she will work herself right back up to the top. I was thinking today that it seems like MB has really grown-up during this trip. I don't know if it was the traveling, being away from the family, staying for so long with another family in which she was the youngest instead of the oldest or what. But I hop eit hangs around for awhile.

The girls have responded very well to having MB back in the midst, and their activity and noise level have risen greatly. MB and K just seem to love to chase each other around.

This MB worked with me to scan some of the photos of her trip into the computer. She actually did the last four or five by herself with only needing help changing the group name. I want to share the trip in photos instead of trying to write it out (especially since I wasn't there either).

MB waiting to board her first leg of the journey.

MB and mom actually had to walk out onto the tarmac to board their second leg.

First trip was to OMSI, where MB got to try her hand at various science-related activities. Here she is looking at how different substances burn different colors.

A little air flow physics

Their second big trip was to the Oregon Trail Museum. Here MB gets to see an actual reproduced wagon.

One of the interactive rooms they had included the various games people played on the trail. I was told MB really enjoyed the checkers game. Probably because she knew what it was.

Their "big" trip was a two-day trip to the coast. Here they visited the aquarium, which I do not have pictures of yet. MB, an east coast, sandy beach gal was able to enjoy the experience of rocky cliffs and wind-blown hair.

The natural tide pools is one of MB's biggest highlights of the trip.

Here MB is in her element. Exploring nature and finding out what is in every nook & cranny.

Pointing out a starfish she had found. I love this picture, look at her feet. :)

I think she discovered that the water was a little cold.

One of their last trips was to the Portland Zoo. It has been reported that MB was enchanted on this visit to a butterfly house. She actually sat still for 30 minutes so that butterlies would land on her. This is absolutely amazing knowing my daughter.

This girl does love her butterflies.

My mother had not gotten the last few rolls of film developed, so there are probably more pictures to come.

The trip was a huge success all around. She already wants to go back next year, but I want to go next year too.



Monday, August 15, 2005

She Is Back

MB and my mother, along with my sister and niece made it safely back late last night. My mother, sister and neice have just left to finish their journey to the beach.

After I do a couple of work related, must do today things I am taking the rest of the day to rest and relax with MB and the other girls.

I have a lot of pictures I need to scan and would like to share, but it will take a couple of days. MB had a great time on her trip and was very pleased with the 'surprises' we had for her.



Saturday, August 13, 2005

New Car

Okay we spent 4 hours with two young children at a car dealership. How fun does that sound?

At least we left with a nice parting gift. We did buy one of the 2005 Program vehicles, a newer Grand Caravan. Here is hoping that this car lives up to the better reliability speak.

This new one does not have all the features that our old van had, but at least it is missing the whole leak in the front floorboard every time it rains feature. It is a good basic, economical car for us. DH and I talked about the various features we would lose and how important they really were to us, and I really think we got what we need for right now.

The whole negotiation thing was painful. First of all, DH decided that I needed to be the negotiator. That was painful, I hate negotiating, it is not in my blood. Secondly, after we had chosen the car we tol the sales guy to go get us the best price he could. He would not stop asking how much would we be putting down. I kept telling him that it would depend on what they could do with the price of the car. (by the way I have found out where immigrant europeans work who come over with no marketable job skills. This dealership was crawling with them, and our entire conversation with the sales guy was interrupted every 3rd or 4th word by dh and I going "what??")

The first sheet he came back with was a joke, it listed the posted price and had our trade-in valued less than the '87 Ford Station Wagon we traded in 4 yrs ago. I could not say a word, I just sat there staring at the sheet and trying to catch dh's attention to jump in and get the ball rolling somewhere. And all the guy wanted to know was how much cash we were putting down. "I am not going to tell you that until we get closer to a price that we can agree on." We went back and forth a few times. Then I had to tell him like 4 times to go away and let hubby and I talk. All of this while hubby and I keep trading the girls back and forth. Our trying to contain K, who at on point had managed to find a push pin and had put small holes in about three of the balloons at the shop. Embarrassing then, but funny now.

We got the car, so obviously we found the middle ground. Our payment stays basically where it was (the new one is $0.22 cheaper, woohoo) And I like the color soo much better than the old one, i know it doesn't make a difference to the actual car, but this color is actually pretty. It is kind of a mettalic teal and has a gray interior. The old car was drk forest green with a tan interior, which I never liked but settled for.

That is the car update.

Tomorrow night MB comes home. We cannot wait to see her. She has so many surprises waiting for when she comes home.

Tonight I have to finish my current project for work and proof so that tomorrow I can crank out the cleaning.



Friday, August 12, 2005

Twisted Mind

One of the things I pulled out of my car was my tape case. This contains my tapes from my high school years. For some reason I just keep moving it from one car to another. I thought that this time I would take a peek into to remind myself of the type of music I listened to back then.

Boy, was I one twisted young girl.

As an aside note, these tapes are listed in the order that they were stored. There is some humor in that also.

A personal mix titled "Cool '80s Music" - I can't remember what is on it
Simon & Garfunkel - "Bridge over Troubled Water"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Blood Sugar __ Magik"
Aerosmith - "Permanent Vacation"
Ugly Kid Joe - "Cats In The Cradle" (Single)
"Platoon" - Soundtrack
"Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and The Modern World"
"Sounds of Nature"
Proclaimers - "Sunshine on Leith"
Billy Joel - "River of Dreams"
"A Very Special Christmas"
Amy Grant - 'Unguarded"
AC/DC - "The Razors Edge"
Jesus Jones - "Doubt"
Janet Jackson - "Rhythm Nation 1814"
A Mix of Jimmy Buffet
INXS - "X"
Eagles - 'Greatest Hits Vol. 2"
George Michael - "Faith"
Wilson Phillips
Poison - "Look What The Cat Dragged In"
The Byrds Vol 1
Billy Joel - 'Storm Front"
Paula Abdul - Forever Your Girl"

Please do not hold it against this relatively sane adult for the psychotic mix of music she choose to listen to. For most of those years I was in an altered state of mind.



Thursday, August 11, 2005

A mother's insight

Or maybe this should be called a grandmother's insight.

MB being on this trip with my mother has really been great for all of us, missing her greatly aside. On of the assignments I gave my mom when she took MB off, I asked her to keep an eye on MB and see if she could discern some pattern to MB's attitude issues. It was a chance for someone to be with MB almost exclusively, that wasn't myself with all my preconceived ideas and emotional interest.

I was able to speak to my mom tonight without anyone else around. She was able to confirm some ideas I already had and also point out something to me that I might want to have checked by a doctor. The first thing she has noticed is that MB, definetly gets out of sorts when she is hungry. And she gets hungry a lot. She is a tiny little thing, skinny as a rail, in fact K at almost 3 yrs younger almost weighs as much as MB. Yet, she is always eating. Always complaining about being hungry. It is extremely annoying sometimes. I always thought that she got out of sorts because I would sometimes make her stop snacking so much. But my mom has noticed that she has about 1 1/2 hours after she eats that she is fine, if she doesn't have something else around this time her mood can change quickly. Mom thinks I should have her tested for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It just so happens that I had this as a child and during my pregnancies as an adult. It just never crossed my mind that MB might have it also.

The other two things I was already aware of but Mom really noticed drastic occurrences of it. She walked with MB up to a grocery store in sister's neighborhood. At sister's house and along the walk MB was fine, acting correctly and listening. Within moments of walking into the grocery store with all the floresecent lights and noises and colorful boxes, she said that MB was almost uncontrollable. After this short trip it took MB a while to unlock from this behavior, which of was not helped by the frustration my Mom was probably feeling from MB's behavior in public. Trust me I have been there. It is a circle. MB reacts to her surroundings, I am not thinking about them, or more normally trying to cope with my own sensitivity to the same things, I become frustrated with her and tense up then MB is not able to relax because I am wound up.

It just doesn't help that we have the same sensitivities.

Along the same vein, my Mom noticed at the zoo today that MB was fine until they would enter exhibits with a crowd of people. Within moments she would being pushing and whining until she could leave. Again, I know this. It is a tough one because she really wants to see what everyone else is looking at, but it stresses her out. She is not really patient enough to understand that if we are able to wait for a little while we could look at something after the crowd is gone. So that frustrates her even more.

This is one of the reasons I do not believe she would do well in a classroom until she either outgrows some of the sensitivity and learns more coping skills. She would also come home from preschool in a nasty mood, and that was from only spending 3 hours with 7 other children.

So, we do need to work with coping skills. And I am going to have to figure out how to manage my own coping skills while helping her and managing the other two girls. This should be fun!



Car Talk

It is amazing the amount of stuff that can accumulate in just a few months in van that carts around 3 children on a daily basis.

The good news is I found a number of shoe 'matches'

Now, why would a normally sane and heat-avoiding female be out emptying and detailing in 97 degree temperatures? Hubby has decided that we should buy a new car before we sink anymore money into the van we have now. I am ambivalent about this purchase. The car is only a few months shy of being paid off, and I was going to pay it off early this month. But he would rather use that money for a down payment.

He has a point that the car it is really starting to act flaky on us, and during the course of our life with it we have had problems, which we thought we had solved. The serpentine belt broke on us twice, we had to have a new transmission put in and the van eats brakes. Recently it has developed a water leak, so that the floorboard becomes wet when it rains hard and some strange intermittent electrical problems (lights, windows).

As the person who has been elected to make sure our bank account remains out of the red each month, I was just looking forward to no car payment for awhile. The only thing that I ask is that the new payment is not anymore than what we pay now. We can pay what we have now, we cannot afford to go any higher.

So we have been on a search to find a relatively decent used car that we believe is worth the price and one we do not mind making payments on. My *wish* car is an Odyssey, but in researching those we realized that the only ones we could afford would be as old as the car we have now, with just as many miles and only if they would let us finance for 5 yrs.

It has narrowed back down to a Dodge Grand Caravan (what we have now). We have actually found a basic, used 2005 that we can afford. But with the problems we have had with the old Dodge I am worried. I have heard that they "fixed" the transmission issues (that they said they never had), and consumer reports has started to rank them higher these last couple of years. Has anyone out there had any experiences with the Grand Caravans, say 2002 and newer?

I'll let ya'll know what happens.



Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Another Completed Project

I can check another DONE!

Today I finished the Attitude Modification Chart (What a fancy name for something so simple). It was quick and cheap. The premise is base upon behavior charts one might sometimes find in a classroom or where I actually first saw it on a story about the Dilley family.

It is a visual reminder to MB, myself and Daddy where MB has been with her attitude on any given day. A push pin will move up and down the chart showing MB what privileges she can have, based on her attitude and behavior (generally with MB it is Attitude).

I also included a list of positive attitude reminders, so that she can be reminded of the behavior we want to see. We will see if it helps you to actually see the effect of her behavior.

How I made it:

I bought a package of 12" square flexible cork from a craft store. Then took some remnant material I had been given for crafts and found a suitable piece to wrap the cork in. I stapled the fabric onto the board.

Then using the drawing feature in Word, I designed the color blocks, the list and the title. Stapled those on and hung it on the wall.

Total cost was around $6.00.

This project also got me thinking about the huge, wall size cork board I have sitting in E's room. It was given to us and has been well used, but I was thinking that I have so many remnant scraps of fabric that I might do a patch-work type design with the different pieces on it and then start using it. Just to make it look a lot nicer on the wall. Of course I still need to find the wall that it will actually fit on.



Whirrling, Swirlling thoughts

My brain will not turn off tonight, so I thought I would just download here.

First of all, I wonder what my kids have dropped in the keyboard, the "d" key keeps sticking. I have to check everytime I write a word with a "d" in it. Do you know how many times one uses the "d" key. :)

I am enjoying my time with the two little girls. But as each day goes by I am missing MB more and more. Tomorrow it will be a week since she left. They return late Sunday night. I talked to them tonight. They had just returned from a couple of days at the Oregon coast. They went to an aquarium and spent the night in a Hotel, which amazingly is actually a first for MB and something she has wanted to do for a long time. Can you tell that we travel alot :=)

She told me all about an actual tide pool that they were able to visit today where she was able to see all sorts of creatures in their actual habitat. She was very impressed by a "family" of starfish. I aske my mom if she was having any problems with homesickness and she said not really. Every now and then she says that she misses one of us, but she is so busy doing things that she enjoys she is just not having any actual adjustment problems.

K, I believe is suffering more than anybody. Today I noticed that she concentrated on playing with MB's toys and wanting to watch MB's favorite movies. She also keeps asking me to take her to mamaw and MB.

Working from home is going well. I am enjoying the work that I am doing and it does feel goo to be doing something again. This is one of the plans I kind of had when I stopped working outside the home. I wanted to create my own freelance business so that I could be home, yet still do some sort of grown-up business type of thing. I don't know how to explain it, but I have always wanted some business of my own, where I get to call the shots an do the type of work I want to do. I know that I don't have to work, it is not that we have a lot of money, but we make it. My job at home is to manage and stretch our budget - combined with all my other home "jobs" I really should not want more, but I do. I am thankful that I don't have to earn any great amount of money just to level back to where we were two years ago, considering how much daycare for 2 kids and lunch out 4 days a week was costing us.

So far the biggest stressor of this whole freelance type of thing is estimating work. Figuring out how much a project should cost. I don't want to overcharge or take advantage of a client, and I don't want to short-change myself. I have a bad tendency towards undercharging, and then after it is over figuring in overhead expenses and realizing that I have billed myself at basically slave wages. I don't like to charge by the hour if I can help it because, well have you ever known a mother who can actually sit down for a full hour at a time to concentrate on one thing. This is part of the learning curve for me. I know the work I am doing and the programs I am using, but running my own business, negotiating, writing proposals and estimates for my work - all new to me in practice but not theory, since I have been reading about them for years.

Even with that stressor, I am so happy with where my life is right now. I am entering into a whole new world homeschooling the girls, I can see a 10 year dream beginning to become reality in a new "me" business, DH is happy at his job and everyday we are blessed with love, shelter and food. It has only taken us 10 years, but I believe that DH and I are gradually growing up and finding our balance in this whole adulthood type of thing, and more importantly we are each actually starting to see paths before our eyes, where before we just worked and lived to get through another day or the next big event.

Other things going on; I am still working on my Master Notebook in an experiement to organize us a little better. I need to finish creating MB's new attitude modification program. MB's and K's fall activities now include: Soccer lessons (as opposed to actually being on a team as we missed sign-ups last spring), gymnastics, swimming lessons , Magic School Bus and Preschool Science CO-OP (the MSB had so many kids sign up that had younger preschool siblings that we mothers decided to do a preschool science thing at the same time, too cool for me), and beginning piano lessons . I also know of several field trips that we will be doing with the group and some individually.

For myself I am currently knitting this prayer shawl. I love the look of it and am somewhat drawn to the purpose of it. As I knit, I keep thinking about that purpose of it and various verses pop into my head. It is almost as if I am entering a prayful meditation state as I am knitting. Something that I woefully lack in my current busy/loud life. Although this ministry encourages the knitting of them to give away, this one I will keep for myself right now, as it is my first one. But I love the idea and am certainly considering making others to give away. To read more about the Shawl Ministry and prayer shawls read here.

Thanks, I think I have sufficiently downloaded and might be able to fall asleep. May this not put you to sleep also.



Monday, August 08, 2005

Weekend in Review

Our weekend was very good, if a little quiet around here. Of course I keep having to turn down all the invites that come to our door for little miss popularity.

DH took the four of us out to dinner Saturday night so that we could also stop by the store and find him a new pair of sneakers. It was tax-free weekend, so a good time to buy his more expensive shoes. The sweet man that he is also allowed me to go to another craft store and wander around, then to Walmart since I could not find at the craft store what I was looking for. I am trying to knit winter hats for the girls, yes I know it is 90+ degrees outside now, but I figured if I started now I might finish in four months. But I only have one pair of circular knitting needles and they are the wrong length. I also need a pair of double-point needles. Cannot find them in the stores that I know about. But hubby let me scourer the stores, taking K and little EM and keeping them busy while I looked.

Sunday was a quiet day. After I church I worked on some of the unfinished projects that were laying around the house. I even 'finished' MB's shawl. I say finishe because I went ahea and boun it off, although it is farily short. I will not post pictures because it just isn't that pretty. Since I knew they would use it for play dress-up I kind of practiced different stitch patterns on it while I knitted.

After lunch K put on her bathing suit and grabbed a beach towel and came to tell me that she was going swimming. I figured her dad had said he would take her. So I went to ask him when they were leaving, I walked in on K telling him the same thing. She was insistent, "I go swim."
Mom: "How are you going to the pool?"
K: "I ride mommy car"
Mom: "Mommy is not going swimming, how are you going to go"
K: "I drive?"
Mom: "You can't reach the pedals to drive"
K: "oh!"
K turns to her dad, sitting in a chair. She leans in against his arm and rubs his arm, while I am sure she is fluttering her eyes at him, "I go swim?"

Of course they headed out to the pool about an hour later. K has got that man wrapped around her finger. K seems to have been born with that inherent gene for flirting and coercing a man into doing her bidding. MB, it seems, has missed out on that, being more up-front- I know what I want to do and I am going to do it. Right now, K's technique is much more successful for a little girl, but MB's approach will serve her well as an adult (with a little temperance and guidence.)

Last night i did some web-surfing to try to find some field trips for the beginning of our school year. Things that go along with what 'history' is, what archeology is and early man. I read about Julia's experience taking her son to a local dig, so I headed on-line to try to find something up here. No dice, the state's archeology page has not even been updated since 2003.

I also browsed the library's catalogue on-line and made a list of the books I can use. This is not nearly as satisfying as wandering around the bookshelves and finding those 'hidden treasures' that never seem to show up on-line. But, it was a start.

MB returns in a week and I have a lot of projects to finish and stuff to prepare. K wants to go to the park this morning so I guess we will head there with the hopes of wearing them out for a good mid-day nap.



Happiness Is... August 8

A sleep tousled head peeping over the side of my bed, with a "Gud Mowning" and a kiss.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Have you ever notived...

that even when children are paying you absolutely no attention, and may be in an entirely different room, as soon as you go to cut just one teeny, tiny little brownie they are all over you.


Nature Box

MB is a huge nature lover, earlier this spring we made a nature hike bag for her to use in all of her nature wanderings, here at the house, and elsewhere. Well, now I have various pieces of nature invading my house. Some are, well trash, but others are really, really good specimens. But there are just laying around the house where they can easily be damaged or lost.

Yesterday I went to a local craft store to see what I could find to use as a collection keeper that could also kind of show-off MB's passion. What I found were these reasonably priced, large shadow boxes.

This morning I collected all the 'collection' from around the house and picked out the ones that had not been messed up to badly. MB had helped me identify the various creatures as we found them, so labeling was easy.

I have ended up with this surprise to give MB when she returns.

I think it turned out well. Almost like those museum displays one sees. We have more than half the box left to add to and then I will try to find another.



Friday, August 05, 2005

Happiness Is...

I got this idea from Sherri. I thought it would be a very good way to look at our day.

Happiness Is...

1. Receiving real time photos from MB's trip. Today they are at the Oregon Trail Museum. Next to her is her cousin.

2. Building Mega Block Castles

3. EM sitting all by herself and playing

4. K enjoying her little people

5. These baking in the oven

6. And This playing on the stereo



Thursday, August 04, 2005

Filling my Hours

As I have time on my hands, with MB being gone, how exactly have I been filling my hours. Well we have decided to implement a little more schedule into our lives as an experiment. We want to see if it might improve MB's attitude. Last night I sat down to work on one that we would put on the wall. But as I worked on it I realized that one 'daily' schedule for the whole week would not work. Monday-Wednesday it would be fine, but I need to different ones for Thursday and a totally different one for Friday. I do not have that much wallspace to spare.

I have been reading recently about a lot of home schedules and master notebooks being put together. So I have decided to enter the fray and create a notebook for us. Here is my table of contents:
1. Schedules
monthly calendar
daily schedules
chore schedules
2. Menus and Food Storage
Freezer Inventory
Grocery Lists
Recipes to try
Meal Planning Info
Take Out Menus
3. School Plan
School Calendar
MB 3 month plan
K 3 month plan
Books to get from library
Field Trip Info
School Shopping/Wish List
MB/K activities information
4. Needs
Clothing sizes
Shopping List
Household Wish List
5. Important Info
Insurance Info
Phone Contact List

So I have created six different daily schedules and inserted them in the notebook. I will use the whiteboard and just post each days scheule from the masters. I have also included our chore list and made up one just for the girls with the chores I expect them to start doing this fall. I have also included that inventory I did of the storage freezer and created a meal planning list for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This just lists out some of our tried and true meals for me to choose from when I am making out our weekly menus.

I still have a lot of information to incclude to finish off this first draft. But I am hoping that the experiement works. If nothing else I will at least have the information saved somewhere for future reference.

The other thing I am mulling over and trying to decide how to do it is a new behavior/attitude modification tool. I first saw this idea in a story on the Dilley family (sextuplets). They use a picture of a ladder on a bulletin board. The children move up and down the ladder depending on behavior and attitude. At the midlevel the children are showing acceptable behavior. Here they have their normal privileges. Below the mid-point, their behavior is at varying degrees of not acceptable and have different privileges taken away and more chores added. Above the mid-point, their behavior is above acceptable and are given extra privileges.

I like the idea that MB can see the effects of her behavior on her privileges and what she is allowed to do. It is tactile and visual. It is cause and effect. I want to start using it. I just have to figure out how to make it and where to put it. I am starting to understand why classrooms have so many cork boards.

That is how I have filled this first day. I am still waiting on a new project, so until then I will keep working on these home projects. I miss MB, and this keeps me from actually calling out there and checking up, even though I really want to.



Intimacy of Blogging

Here is one of the posts I have been working on in my head for a couple of weeks now.

Recently someone told me that they thought computers were making the world more impersonal. I understood their point to a certain degree. I probably spend time on the computer that in the past maybe I would have spent out and about around other people. I do communicate more through email now than phone calls or in person, mainly for the convience factor of busy lives.

To me blogging totally blows this reasoning out of the water. Through blogs the whole world is given a more personal and yes, intimate view of each of us bloggers. I go to park day, and other in-person events with our local hs group, but in general I have no idea how they homeschool, personal beliefs, what hobbies they might have or personal struggles they might be going through.

When I click on a new homeschool blog to read, I can read about all of this and more. Through a blog I am welcomed into a person's living room to sit and visit and get to know their family. I come to know the children, I read about school methods, I find out about struggles and learn new ideas for schooling. Hobbies, is a treasure trove of information. I feel as though I know the people whose blogs I read.

Yes, I understand that people on blogs, like in real life, can present the persona that they want other people to see. Words are weighed before typed, thoughts are considered before given. But what is presented cannot be all that different. Unlike when I get to know someone in real life, the privacy of sitting at a computer invites people to give more information than they might in person.

This is why I believe that personal blogs are intimate -



In Portland

My daughter and I are now separated by over 3000 miles. They called last night about 10:45 to let us know that they had arrived. My mom said the flights were uneventful and that security was easiest it had been since before 9/11. She had no problems traveling with MB, which we thought might happen. We were concerned that MB had no picture ID and that with her last name being different that it might raise some red flags. Before they left I prepared a packet for mom that included a copy of MB's birth certificate, SS card, insurance card and vac records, along with a letter giving my mom permission to travel with MB and permission to authorize emergency medical treatment.

MB really enjoyed the actual trip and I was told that she spent most of the 2 1/2 hour layover watching the activity on the tarmac and asking mom what was going on. Landings and takeoffs did not bother her. Mom basically said that it was like traveling with someone who travels once a month. MB enjoyed the surprise that my sister and mom had worked out for her - they rented a DVD player for the flight, and I had packed a couple of her favorite DVDs. This was wonderful for them as their second, longer flight had changed plane styles and instead of having a window seat they were sitting in the middle of a 2-3-2 layout. (Bummer that she could not see the three sisters upon arrival to Portland)

They have a lot of fun activities planned and I have asked mom to take digital photos and have MB email me with notes of what she has done. I will pass them on as I get them.

Only 10 more days until she is home again.



Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Already Missing Her

MB does not even leave until tomorrow morning and I am already missing her. I am left wondering how I will fill my days with her gone, even though I have a large list of things to do. I miss the routine of school that we were really getting the hang of, how 'normal' our days were beginning to feel. I am not going to have this for two or more weeks since my sister and neice will be coming back for a visit when MB and my mom return.

Today was a much better day than yesterday. I woke MB early so that we could hang out with each other before the other two woke up. We curled up on the sofa and watched a Magic Schoolbus episode and then read the corresponding book. When the EM and K woke up, MB helped me with chores around the house and started breakfast for us.

After breakfast she asked me, "what would happen if I did school today?" It made me chuckle. I told her nothing, and asked her what she wanted to do. I never got an answer. She did some computer programs and worked with her Math-addition wrap-ups (a key-like addition fact game in which you wrap a string around to show 5+1=6 and so on.)

Then they played in the wading pool while I cloroxed the high chair DH had un-buried from the garage this weekend. Now I just have to find room in the house for it again.

The girls played another game of school. This time MB brough in two sentences she had written that were done so well, staying within the lines on regular notebook paper and everything.

Then it was nature hunting time. In the afternoon I caught sight of the smallest blue-tailed skink I had ever seen it was only three inches long, including the tail. So MB and I worked together to try to catch him. At one point we had him in the net, but when I went to adjust my hand to get ready to drop him in the container he jumped and disappeared in a pile of leaves.

A few minutes later MB came running back to me to grab her net because she had seen a couple of butterflies in the front yard. She caught one, but unfortunately in the catching she did fatal harm. The butterfly did not die right away and we ended up studying him in a way that we could not have otherwised. MB was very, very sad over the whole thing because she likes to catch them, look at them and release. But I told her that it was an accident and not to worry that next time she would be more careful.

We were able to study his head, watch him move his antennea and open and close his probiscus under the magnifying glass. MB used her identification chart and found that he was a Spicebush Swallowtail. We took pictures and I will upload them tomorrow.

This evening, in preparation for the trip my mom asked me to put together a wishlist for Powell's bookstore in Portland. So I pulled out my SOTW materials and realized how great it was that I had chosen to study Canines and Felines for science first thing this fall. I chose these because we are getting a new dog right about the time school starts. Anyway, those line up perfectly with studying early man and ancient Egyptians for the domestication of the species. I had not noticed it before. The way those topics are tying in together makes me very happy!!

Tomorrow I have to send invoice number two for my job, then I should receive another 20 pieces to do which will keep me busy for 3-4 days. I also plan to spend some real quality time with K and EM. I had hopped to do some painting while MB was gone, but since we have put off the kitchen re-do until sometime this fall, it doesn't make any sense to paint now, whenI would probably have to redo a lot of it then. I will probably spend some time running errands I cannot generally run with MB, shoring up my plan for the first six weeks of school and doing some organizing in the house.

And, I am sure I will be here some moaning over how quiet my house is.



Monday, August 01, 2005

Missing the routine

Today was the first 'school' day without school for MB, and I would tell she was missing something. I don't know how homeschoolers generally do 'vacation' or whatnot, but she seemed out of sorts today - all day.

I filled the day with errand running as we had a few last minute items to buy for her trip and while I was already out, I figured we knock out a few other things too. One of the things on my list was to buy a bookbag and school supplies for a service project our church is doing. MB asked for a new bookbag also, not an unusual request for her to just ask for something but this time she had a reasonable arguement. Her existing bag is about 2 years old and is showing its age. It is also a Dora bag and she does not watch the show nor is excited about Dora things anymore. (sniff, my baby is growing up) So, since they were inexpensive I let her pick one out. Then K wanted one also, this was a totally unnecessary buy, but so worth it. All afternoon she walked around with that bookbag on. "I want to do school!" She packed books in it, took books out. She and MB took their bags outside and rode in the schoolbus (wagon) and had school on the front steps.

That I enjoyed watching, such a pleasure to see them playing like that. What bothered me today was how MB's mood was, which I can only place as being cranky and unsure. She was trying to push buttons she hasn't pushed since June. I told her on Friday that we were done with school until the end of August, but she acted as though she could not figure out what to do today. Has anybody ever run into these kind of issues when starting a 'vacation?' I have heard about the struggles with starting back up and finding rythyms, but never vacation/days off from school. I would have thought she would be happy.

Tomorrow my mom comes up and the two of them leave Wednesday morning. DH has taken MB and K out for ice cream tonight so that he can spend a little bit of time with her.

E is calling for her bedtime snack.


A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.