Monday, January 29, 2007
MB leaves either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning - depending on whether we have weather move in. By weather, I refer to that wintery stuff that we southerners do not know how to drive in. Therefore, my mother will not be on the road if there is a 30% chance of it.
Speaking of MB's trip, my dad called me this weekend to ask me what educational benefits I was expecting or thought MB would be experiencing on the trip. I had not really planned anything beyond - take pictures and we will write up an experience journal afterwards - because then I will find out what she actually took from the trip. You know this is 'life' education. Anyway, they were searching for ideas because my step-neice has to have a lesson plan and educational benefit document given to the school before she can be excused from school. Thankfully, the administrator of MB's school (me) rearranged the vacation schedule.
Practical learning experiences could include:
~ cruise ships - those are a world/country all their own
~ government workings - customs
~ various tourist cultures
This is my dad and stepmother, the kids are going to be enjoying shopping the straw markets and swimming.
Basically, I have a three day week. I am going to take a vacation along with MB the week she is gone. Do some early spring cleaning, finish prepping the garden for the spring crops and just in general enjoy my down time.
I also have to 'register' MB for publik skool. I don't want to - but I agreed to at least register her this year. Then I have to spend the next few months coming up with my arguments for DH of why ps basically sucks. Sorry, I just know that as hard as I find hs right now, ps will be five times worse. Bus stop at 7:00am, or drive to school at 8:00 (in both cases I have to have all the little ones up too), expected parental volunter times - 10 hrs monthly (sans other children), PTA fundraisers, homework, all extracurricular activities after school, more $ for clothes, socialization the ps way (*shiver*) and the bane of my existence, testing.
Sorry, for all the ramblings I cannot wake up this morning and get my brain clicking on all cylinders.
Have a good one,
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Reading is the big kicker - they cannot work independently until the reading skills are there. I can give MB math and have a little time to work with K, and I can give K a coloring/cutting activity and work with MB. But, for the science and history activities that require reading I am right there. Reading the chapters, reading the questions and writing the answers. The spread between what MB 'gets' and her reading is just such a huge gulf. It is what makes finding little chapter books for her to practice reading with difficult.
Yesterday, we had one of the successes. Moments that I can see that it will get easier. We are reading a chapter in one of the science topic books and then answering a few questions that I had made up. When she couldn't recall the answer to one I tried to prod her memory with "it was the last sentence I read." Low and behold she didn't just respond with 'tell me', but instead took the book and flipped to the last page I read and sounded out the sentence to herself & got the answer. We high-fived and hugged. And she felt so very good about herself - she read to find the answer to something.
She so often is low because of her reading and I feel like I have failed with her reading. It is so great for her to take some success, no matter how minor. I could glimpse down the road a time when MB can have assigned work that she doesn't need me to sit right there and read to her. That she can eventually go off and do her assignment and bring it back to me.
Speaking of successes; K has given me every indication that she is ready to read - NOW! Daily we are on the computer playing with activities on Starfall. She loves to read Dr. Seuss with me so that she can fill in the sentences. Everytime I turn around she is writing little notes for me or copying words she sees on pieces of paper.
So, I have two very different children when it comes to reading. I made the decision and bought the 'store' version of Hooked on Phonics. We are working through it together, as a group activity. MB needs more reinforcement of basic skills, that for whatever reason she did not grasp in 100 Easy Lessons and K wants to be able to read right off. So, with the accompanying CD, they are enjoying doing the lessons together. I've told MB that she does need the review, but she is also helping K learn.
I kind of like being able to teach one lesson to two children. We have been having alot of fun with that this year.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I expected so much more resistence to school today, and was happy to find that everybody was geared up and ready to go. I purposely made the lesson plan a little lite today, but we got so much more accomplished.
MB pulled out her snap circuits and had a good time. We did an impromptu lesson on the difference in conductivity of fresh water vs. salt water.
And, after reading A North American Rain Forest Scrapbook by Virginia Wright-Frierson, we have decided that the next time we visit my sister on the west coast we have to go up to the Olympic Peninsula. If you have a chance to read books by this author, do it. Her illustrations of nature are beautiful.
K, since getting a boo-boo the other day, has been enthralled by how the circulatory system works & why. So, we spent some time going through books we have on the human body. MB surprised me by stating that even though she 'lost alot of blood' when she scrapped her hand the other day, it is all back because of her bone marrow. I did not even know she new how the body regenerated blood. I was impressed.
The day wasn't totally about science, either. MB and K pulled out some "How to Draw..." books that were mine when I was a kid, and spent nearly an hour working on cartoon characters & faces. I was impressed since we have spent no time on drawing skills. They won't when any prizes, but with DH & I as their parents they do start out with a disadvantage.
We did math and reading and writing lessons too. And, managed to find some time to bake brownies before going out to science club & soccer practice.
Here is a fun game to play in the car: pick a Classic Disney CD (those color ones - blue, purple, red, etc.) play it in the car and try to guess which movie which song is from - it is fun. I can't decide whether it is good or bad that my children can recognize so many of the songs from so many different Disney movies. We had alot of fun with that one driving today.
That is a quick recap of the day - we have about a week before MB leaves for her week-long cruise. So, going to be busy trying to get everything in.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Well we have put on the outdoor clothes and removed the outdoor clothing about three times this morning. The snow, that was so pretty early this morning has begun its melt. It is being 'helped' along by the freezing rain that is now coming down - a little extra ice layer to the snow.
My girls - who this week I have been pulling out of bed between 8 & 8:30, were up bright-eyed & bushy-tailed at 7:00. They were outside by 7:30. We have had cups of hot chocolate, bowls of oatmeal and I built a fire in the fireplace (only our second this year).
MB was allowed to go down the street to play with friends until noon. Snow is such a rare occurrence and I knew that this wasn't even going to last the day. By noon I figure she will be cold and tired and ready to do her schoolwork - Yeah, we'll see.
K & MB are so happily playing with the Blokus game. pretty colors, different shapes - it is kind of neat to see what they make.
Since we only get snow once or twice a year and it is generally gone by the next day, I always feel that these days are treats. And, since I can stay home it doesn't upset my day at all.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
First of all - an hour-and-a-half. That is how early I had to start rounding up kids & belongings, asking, urging, begging and crying for children to please go put clothes on. Just to get out the door and to our wildlife class. We got there, with actual time to spare - because, well I am just paranoid that way - if I am not there early I am probably having a panic attack over it.
These classes thrill the girls. They are wonderful and such a blessing for those of us with younger children. Since they are done by the State Wildlife agency the classes are generally open to the public and they still have those classes. But, because of the overwhelming response by the local homeschoolers they have set aside classes just for homeschoolers. Today there were 25 children between 3 & 7 - plus a few toddlers just for good measure. K and MB each had their own seperate classes - but covered the same thing. MB & K kept talking over each other to tell me what they had done and to compare their classes. I love listening to them talk like that and share things (something I missed having a sister so much older than I).
Today is was about What Animals Do During the Winter. They read a picture book, do some type of experiment and a craft. I believe from what I can understand they tried out the insulating qualities of diffferent substances by putting their hands into ice water and they made pine cone bird feeders (my girls have had a lot of practice with these) Nearly two hours of professionally guided (read: I don't have to do anything but show up) learning. And all for FREE.
MB's constant amazement over the fact that there are actually other people out there that homeschool just floors me. "What you mean all those kids are homeschooled too?" Honestly, I don't keep her locked up in some dungeon.
Straight from there we headed over to the Choir class. We have a new teacher this semester. I think the switch is going to be really good. Both MB & K were happy after their classes. This time MB has received a folder with the actual songs she has to practice and learn. Tonight she and her daddy went over the sheet music and talked about all the different symbols and music notes. MB told me, very seriously, "I have to practice this every day." We will see how long it goes before I have to remind, remind, remind.
Em & Jr held up pretty well throughout it all. I am so glad that jr loves his sling - pop him in there and he is just so happy. He did stay awake for most of the morning and ended up crashing most of the afternoon - but he was so happy all day. Smiling and cooing at all the people we have not seen since before Christmas. Em was a normal two-year-old, yet she managed to not get too cranky until right before we headed home. Of course she fell asleep in the car (10 minutes) and then did not want to take a nap once we were home. She had an early bedtime tonight.
My plan was to do our lessons when we got home - but I was exhausted. The girls were a little 'overstimulated' by actually being around a bunch of other children for 4 hours straight. We needed downtime before we had meltdowns. I am getting much better about spotting those. We had a couple hours before my friend was dropping off her kids for the evening so she could go to work. So - we chilled. The girls got to pick a movie and I made them milkshakes - and I curled up with a knitting book.
Our evening, even with two extra children went well. And, I am glad the girls got their downtime before the friends showed up.
So, tonight instead of putting together another lesson plan for tomorrow I am crossing out today's date and putting tomorrow's and we are all good. Then I am heading for bed.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Which led to us talking about our backyard as an animal habitat, which led to MB wanting to reload the bird feeders - right then. Of course she also needed to scrub out the bird bath and put clean water in it. Then when she collected pine cones and wanted peanut butter - how could I say no.
We did manage to get back on task, then off task, then back on task. But, isn't that kind of what is fun about homeschooling. The things children will come up with on their own.
And, junior has developed his own way of getting comfortable.
He scoots himself right down to the bottom of his bouncy seat so that his legs can hang over the edge. Don't dare try to actually use the straps to hold him in. Those white spit rags are left over from an exciting game of peek-a-boo played with K shortly before he fell asleep.
We got everything done, feed the birds, wrestled the willies out - another good day.
I was worried that Friday, getting out of our routine would be problematic. It wasn't. The girls had a good day and got to spend sometime with their grandparents. I got to do the grocery shopping by myself. We had some issues this morning over getting back to lessons - but not related to Friday. MB knows that her friends are off from school today and wants to know why she isn't. Generally, I would probably let her have the day off. But, she is going skiing for two days next week and then on the cruise with my dad the first week of Feb. We have already rearranged my planned spring break - so we have to do some work today.
Hopefully when she gets home from Spanish she will be in a better frame of mind. I did not load her up with stuff to do - so if she will just sit and not waste time fussing she will have plenty of the afternoon for play.
Each week we seem to have more and more to do outside the house. And, of course last week I added a couple more things to start, probably in Feb. I think we have a good cross-section of outside activities to compliment our homeschooling. This Spring we have: Spanish Class (Weekly MB), Science Club (weekly MB & K), Choir (Weekly MB & K), Wildlife Classes (Monthly MB & K), Soccer (Weekly MB), and Piano Group Lessons (Weekly MB & K - although two seperate classes). I am thinking that I need to get us a big soft-bag cooler to keep in the car as we are going to be spending quite a bit of time in it. And, as my mom pointed out, it is just going to keep increasing as the girls get older and the younger two become more involved in activities. Already K is asking to do soccer too - but I think that it is just because MB does soccer. K hates to play soccer when we play in the yard. But, she loves to play baseball with her daddy. So, I need to find the t-ball league, she will enjoy that much more.
I got my books from the library for our Ecology/Environment unit. I am excited to start that. We are going to study biographies for the first time with this unit and I am hoping to increase MB's writing practice. I am still looking for some fun movies and chapter books to add to the unit. I've thought about Hoot, but I need to read it first. MB is fairly mature in her understanding and comprehension - but it is a middle grades book.
I have thoughts of possibly doing some sort of environmental class/club with our hs group, as I have to do two things each year for membership. Spring would be the best time to do something like that so we can be outside - but I don't know how I could make it work. Of course I have also been thinking about doing some "community' activities since those are part of the Grade 2 course of study. I have way too many ideas and just not any 'idea' of how to actually make them happen.
Have a good day
Thursday, January 11, 2007
This morning we started with science. While we wait on our books at the library, I am letting her choose what she wants to do each day for science - as long as it is part of the Earth Science materials I have gathered. Today she wanted to watch the National Geo dvd Forces of Nature. She has been dying to use the dvd player my dad got her for Christmas - so I sent her to the office to watch the movie so I could do some things with K & Em. But, 10 minutes later she came in and wanted me to watch the movie with her because "it is soo cool." So, we all got to watch the video and find the places in the atlas.
After the video I told them that today was finally the day I felt like making floam. Really, something I have to build myself up to doing - do you know what a pain those little microbeads are to clean up? The one caveat was that all the schoolwork had to be finished and we had to be able to do it while Em & Jr slept.
Wasn't as messy as I thought it was going to be and the kids had alot of fun making it. Science & Art!!! The price was right up my alley too: .50c bottle of all-purpose white glue, borax (already had in the laundry room), water, food coloring and I did a bead-extraction on an old pillow that was sitting in the garage waiting to be dumped. We have plenty of supplies to do this several times over. Now I wait to see what they decide to "floam" in the house - I have already had to discourage them from making junior some hair.
Speaking of junior, anyone want to see a new picture of my big boy. You don't, just close your eyes and scroll on past.
Sorry about the 'red eyes' my camera sucks. I have the anti-red-eye flash, yet my kids still look demonic in every picture.
Junior has gone through a huge growth spurt over the past month and is now in 3 month clothing. He is totally a people-baby. He wants to be held and talked to, he talks back with all sorts of very funny facial expressions. He loves to be on the playmat and have his sisters play with him - and they are really good with him. I knew MB & K would be fine, but Em I was a little worried about - they are doing so well.
Tomorrow we will leave routine behind for a day, keep your fingers crossed. My in-laws want to see the kids and I need to go grocery shopping - first trip to the store this month (I am trying to be good).
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The video on wetlands had to professional ecologists who answered questions from kids across Idaho and various photos. Some of the info was focused on Idaho, but alot of it was general information.
Best part - free, free, free
Lots to do today and we have soccer practice at the new, and not improved time of 4:30. This means that not only can dh not help me out by going with MB, we also have to cut out of the science club meeting early. But, at least it is only through February. I am going to try a new recipe in the crockpot tonight, so we will see how that goes. It has finally gotten cold, for at least one day. So it will be a good day for a heavy stew.
Hope everyone has a great new day
Monday, January 08, 2007
She did not think that it was ADHD, because even though MB acts like she isn't paying attention, she still absorbs and later will spit back everything verbatim. The fact is, MB is a born multi-tasker. She does do better with several things going on at once. And, she thinks that it is great that I do homeschool her, because I am probably better able to adjust to her needs.
So, it was a good visit. And I came home and pulled back out my copy of the book. It psyched me back up. It reminded me of things I need to do better - look at the positive side of her traits, not how they bug me; wait five seconds & think before I automatically say no; give her the time & opportunity to be with other people or make sure I spend time (not schoolwork) doing things with her; explain to her when & why I need my timeout and some many other things.
Okay, so someone with my introversion this is really difficult and oh, so very draining. I have been exhausted every night this weekend. But, it has really been worth it. We can generally have one good day, but linking them up so that we are actually on our fourth day - Wow! And school today, lovely.
Now that K can play some games I have also recruited her to play games with MB to give me a break once in awhile. It was great watching them play Candyland this weekend - and not having to play it myself. I think those two are getting along better too. And, today, I caught K trying to egg MB into doing something to her, and then she tried to tattle -- hmm little did she know that I was watching from the hallway at the time. So, I am trying to nip that little trick right now. I also told MB how proud I was that she managed to ignore K and not take the bait.
MB also got another little boost this weekend. She scored her first indoor soccer goal of the year. And, I actually got to watch her play on Saturday. The other parents, talk about hearing the right thing at the right time, kept going on about her energy, persistence and total lack of fear. Again, the good side of traits that can frustrate me. It was almost 8:30 pm when we finally got home and I let her call her grandparents and tell them. She was so pleased with herself.
I was dreading today, just a little, since we were going to mix schoolwork into our 'new' relationship. But it went really well. MB started a new co-op class this morning - Hands on Spanish, so she got to get her people fix early today and I got to run errands. When we got home she gave me very little trouble getting down to business. She is finally enjoying and wanting me to do the lunchtime reading. The daily lesson plan checkoff list has been wonderful since I started using it in December.
MB was full of energy today and I had to keep reminding her to stay on task - but we had no meltdowns. She did all of her math by herself and not once did I hear about how 'unfair' her life is. A big check mark for today!!
So, if this keeps on working we will go with it. The SW did give some numbers if we eventually thought we wanted some outside help. But, for right now I am going to keep trying this.
Friday, January 05, 2007
I spend way too much time arguing with her over these things. And she just wants to argue so she can procrastinate doing the work. Well, I have other children that need me too and want to do things. So, I told her to get it done and went to sit with K and Em. We got EM set up with her 'Magic' markers & paper (color wonder art set she got from Santa) K and I sat and read "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" by Dr. Seuss as we are working on her rhyming words. I like that I can sit in the Family Room with those two doing things and keep an eye on MB at the table.
I guess, MB figured that I wasn't going to argue anymore, because she finished her math about the time K and I were finishing her worksheet on same & different objects. It was close to lunch time so we all took a break and chilled out while I fixed lunch.
Once Em went down for her nap, we got back to business and MB was ready to go. K chose to play with the magnetix and I read the next chapter in "Around the World in 80 Days" while MB practiced her cursive letters. Then we pulled out the poem that MB is to memorize from FLL. I had typed it on the computer the night before - large letters and leaving white space for her to illustrate it. She was really into that. We read through it twice and then she illustrated - showing the full lifecycle of a butterfly. Once we were done we went through it again and this time she performed an impromptu dance to go along with the poem. By the time we had read through 5 or 6 times she was able to recite about 50% of it from memory.
I fixed my lunch and she read aloud to me from her reading book while I ate. By this point I was drained and Jr needed his lunch. We were finished with MB's assigned work for the day and a friend who was tracked out of school had called to see if MB could come over for the afternoon. K wanted to watch the 'Baby Art' DVD, which she has really been enjoying since our Art Museum visit last month. I got a chance to veg with a couple of knitting books I had picked up on my last library visit.
Today will be a shorter day as it is Friday and I have an appointment this afternoon. We have math, reading and science. We need to be done by lunch time because a hs friend is coming over with her children to watch the whole group while I go to an appointment at the kid's pediatricians office.
It, I hope will be an interesting and enlightening appointment. Our county mental health group has taken on a project to be more reachable and to better serve the children & adolescents in the area. On of those ways is by providing free services from the pediatricians offices so we don't have to go downtown. This isn't a therapy or drug type thing, although they do help with those services. It is really working with the parents to provide suggestions and recommendations (could be parenting/discipline strategies, classes or even recommendations for further testing). I am going in for MB. I feel like I am at the end of my rope with her.
During our holiday this path month I seriously considered going to down and enrolling her in school for the rest of the year. For totally selfish reasons - the house is so much calmer when she isn't here. And, I totally hate that I feel like that. I have started giving her melatonin some nights just so that she will sleep - otherwise she is still up at 1:00 am. I am really at a loss - we have done diet changes and behavior ladders and allowances. They all seem to work for a short time while they are new - then bam back to the attitude and temper tantrums. Now, she is constantly putting herself down; i'm stupid and no one loves me.
So, I am going in to talk to this person. See what she has to say. This month I am also taking MB in to have her eyes checked. She is far sighted, but not so much that it causes any problems on the basic eye exam. Unfortunately serious astigmatisms run in my family - and I just wonder if eye strain isn't causing some reading issues. Anyway, it is worth a check.
Anyway, something has to be done. I can't send her back to school in the shape she is in right now - I feel like in some regards we have gone backwards over the last 18 months.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Yesterday (Tuesday) I made it a light day. We played a few games in the morning and then went out to meet someone that I was passing some of junior's premie clothes on to. Since we were nearby, I gave the girls (and myself) a treat and we had lunch and some play time at 'Chicky-lay'. When we got home MB got down to business and finished her math (some fun review pages out of an enrichment workbook) and did her reading. That was pretty much our first day back.
Today my plan was to add in two more of her subjects - but still nothing new. The day started off well enough. MB got up this morning and made spice muffins for us all. The only help she needed was for me to run the mixer. But, when it was time for school - she fell apart.
It is so frustrating because I just don't understand, still what sets her off. I have tried so many approaches my head even spins. Again, it was the fact that K & EM did not have to sit and do schoolwork just like her. Yet, even when I actually try to make that happen she falls apart because I am spending more time with them than her. Or, their work is 'more fun' than hers. Some days I wonder why I ever bother. Yeah, it was one of those days.
So, after I gave myself a few minutes, so I wouldn't hit the ceiling, we sat down to talk. Basically, the same talk we have had before. And she was so focused on other things I honestly do not know how much of it she absorbed this time. But, she did settle down and do her work for the rest of the day.
She did the first lesson in her new math book, practiced the cursive letters we had finished up with last month before the break, We read another chapter in Around the world in 80 Days (yes, we are still working on that), she did her reading & reading comprehension work. And I called it a day with her.
Once she was finished I could sit down and play some memory & dice games with K & Em. K is just growing and intellectually growing by leaps and bounds recently.It is great fun to watch & be a part of. Em talking and vocabulary has just shot forward in the last few weeks. The best part is how much fun those two have playing together now. I know that this may only last for the next year - and then K will want to be off doing 'big' girl things and leaving Em behind (much like MB has done with K over the past couple years) so I am trying to enjoy it for all that it is worth.
I better go and get things ready for tomorrow am. Day 3!!!!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Today we really will not start off to difficult. Our whole week will be the transition period after having nearly a month off. They have gotten way to used to unlimited computer time, game playing and movies. Reincorporating structure into the day with out revolt is what I am aiming for.
I wasn't planning on school today, thinking DH had today off also. But, found out on Sunday that he did have to work. The neighborhood kids are back in school. Out of self-defense I think it will be better if we do start some things today. I'm ready, I'm excited. I needed the time off around the holidays - But now I am ready to tackle a new year.