Saturday, June 30, 2007
She was upset that she couldn't go play with her friends until we got back - yep - those darn friends again. It was scheduled on a Saturday so they could fit us in, but that wouldn't have mattered. She would have been disagreeable about it whenever.
So she 'cooperates' with the proctor, yet the proctor even noted that Mary paid her very little attention, answered too quickly on most questions and once the material became the slightest bit difficult refused to try.
So, even though I knew that she was probably going to be below grade level on reading and writing, she scored below on everything except applied math, which she scored well above-average which makes me shake my head because her 'math calculation' level was barely 1st grade.
She completed what was supposed to take about 2hours, in about 45 minutes. And honestly the proctor allowed this. I don't know how much encouragement they can give to get the child to work harder. And then rewarded Mary for 'cooperating' with the test.
I'm very mad at Mary and I know that she did this on purpose. Because she told me, and reminded me that I told her that it didn't matter to me how well she did. She was just happy to get home a whole hour earlier than we had planned. I feel as though I am between a rock and a hard place. I did tell her that the results were not important, but to just try her best. But I don't know how to correct what I am seeing is a continual behavior of not trying.
I'm so very happy that school begins again tomorrow. I already have the new schedule posted - and there are no more benefits for Mary to finish early. And, if she drags her feet, it is her free time that is going away.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The big girls enjoyed their trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg with the grandparents. Of course they were totally spoiled. Mary actually rode the "Big Bad Wolf" which I am impressed with because I agree with Katie that the log ride is the scariest thing I would actually want to ride on.
Each day I hear a little bit more about the different things they did and saw. I believe they went to "Water Country", Williamsburg and Jamestown.
While they were gone, I housesat for my dad. Since I only had Robbie, it was very relaxing. Emily chose to stay over at my mom's house and have some one-on-one time with her. We all enjoyed a little vacation from our normal lives for awhile. Even Dh managed to get two rounds of golf in, between working and cleaning the house.
I came home to a super clean house!! The best birthday present right there.
This week is day camp for both Mary and Katie. So, since we have gotten home we have been busy. Mary's is all day, but Katie's is only a half-day camp. So, we are getting up at the awful hour of 6:30am so we can get everybody's lunches and snacks ready, eat breakfast, dress and hopefully have some snuggle time before we have to head out.
I have to drop off Mary, then Katie. I get about 2 hours at home before we head back to town to get Katie. Then we will not go pick up Mary until late afternoon. For a family that goes days without running the van, it is a tough schedule to get used to.
Last night while I was serving dinner, Mary comes running in to tell us that she had found a lizard's nest. I didn't really know what to think, but followed her out to the backyard anyway (after I clarified that she had seen 'legs' on this lizard).
Sure, enough she had found the nest of a broad-tailed skink.
In this picture you can see the head of the mother poking out above the eggs.
Mary counted a dozen eggs, but I think there would have been more if I had allowed her to move more of the decomposing wood the lizard had nested under. She touched an egg and realized that it wasn't hard like birds' eggs, but the soft reptilian shells.
I'm sure we will be having daily updates about the eggs. But, I have to say it is a first for me and kind of neat having this in our backyard laboratory.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Yesterday Mary and Katie went swimming with friends of ours, and while the little ones napped I managed to get Mary's plan sketched out for the first four weeks. I sat down to explain it to dh last night and Mary overhears us and starts whining. "I don't want to do it." "All my friends are on vacation, I want a vacation too." "This is too hard." "Why isn't Katie's filled in yet?" On and on, the normal 'let me find any argument' I deal with sometimes.
DH gave me a look with his eyebrows raised, which said "this is why I think she should go to public school." The on-going argument around the house over her attitude.
I leaned over to Mary and said "I love you." (this is a new technique I've been trying to diffuse my temper at her attitude by starting off with 'I love you' and it does seem to be working as it calms both of us down.) Then said, " you are just fishing for anything to argue over?" She grinned and nodded her head. "You are going to do the work anyway, right?" Again, she grinned and nodded. Then she went on and on about how if she just works on her work it would probably take her half the four hours I've alotted for summer lessons and she could get out to play that much earlier.
Of course dh missed most of this conversation as the whining drove him into the kitchen. When he is around she HATES doing work and is dying to go to public school. When its me, you would think I was talking about abandoning her to the wolves when I mention public schools.
On and on she went last night about the only thing she *wants* to do is watch tv and how she aspires to be a popstar. All I can do is just sit and stare at this strange child sitting in front of me. The first time I saw her actually sit in front of the tv this week was when she came home yesterday afternoon from 2 1/2 hours at the pool. She wanted to lay on the sofa in front of the fan and watch tv. She only managed to do that for 15 minutes before she went back outside to play. And, the popstar thing, is a totally peer initiated desire. Mary has never, never been one to sing and dance around. She takes after me and barely remembers the words to most songs.
I need to get her off somewhere and do a peer decompression on her. Before I am driven INSANE! Personally, I had a blast the week she was grounded a couple of weeks ago. After the first day I got me daughter back and we had lots of fun. I'm just at a loss sometimes about this whole friend/peer relationship dynamic that Mary has going on. I NEVER liked people enough to jump through all the hoops she tries to.
Today we are packing up and then heading for the beach tomorrow morning - at least the children and I. The big girls are going on a weekend trip with their cousins and Grandaddy. I'm going to hang with my mom and the little ones. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the planning for the eight weeks of our Summer school. I'll try to maybe check in if I can get access on one of the computers down there.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
And, I have to add as a side note that we took a different route than we had before and really enjoyed our drive through some very country areas of NC neither dh nor I had remembered traveling before. The kids were great in the car, which really can be a challenge on any drive over an hour-and-a-half.
I do look forward to the reunion, but the last couple of years I feel as though I had been branded the strange outsider because of my radical ideas of homeschooling. Nothing overt or anything, we are talking about southerners here. But, alot of comments made in incredulous ways. It is one of those get-togethers that I find myself telling the children to make sure they behave and not to act like I'm raising a set of ragamuffins.
I wasn't surprised to find myself answering homeschooling questions this year, but the questions were different and the reasons totally surprising to both myself and dh. It seems that two of his cousins have already decided that they will homeschool their children (2 years old and 13 months old, each) when the time comes. They looked through our yearbook that I brought with us. We talked about homeschooling with toddlers in the house. And I tried to point out that making the decision when the children are so young is so great because you don't ever have to make a radical change in what you do - you just transition gradually as the children get older.
They watched my children play and run and interact with everyone else. They complimented Mary on the fudge she made to bring to the reunion and commented on how a seven year old could cook as well as she can (this is the second year that she prepared a snack to bring).
I enjoyed the fact that the older generation backed off a little on their stance as they face the prospect that their grandchildren are also going to be homeschooled, and it isn't a horrible thing. That slowly the idea of homeschooling is adapting and people are realizing that it isn't a knee jerk reaction to the state of education, but a reclamation of a family-centered life. One in which this whole, extended family tries to hold as an ideal.
Today we head out to a family birthday shindig. Lots more extended and mainly not-related family to play with and see. It is a busy weekend.
I was going to share a picture of the family, but just turned on the camera and realized that no pictures of 'us' were actually taken. Maybe today.
Friday, June 15, 2007
For the last couple of months I really just kind of let go of any organized, mom-planned 'teaching'. I got weighed down by the arguing and teeth-pulling. I was fascinated by this little improptu experiment we seemed to have going on in the house. Katie and Emily, the two who had never been to preschool, I had basically left pretty much alone this past year. I mean Emily is only 2, now - so yeah I don't generally plan out her day. I had thought to do K-4 with Katie this year, but after the first couple of weeks gave that up.
What has happened this year with the two of them has been extreme growth in many areas. Katie's number skills are so much higher than I thought they would be at this time, her handwriting is shhhh!better than Mary's, and her creative streak is growing. Emily's verbal skills are nothing less than amazing to us, she knows most of the basic colors and can name like 5 different shapes. In fact, my drawing is so bad that one day I tried to draw a square to illustrate something to Mary (and it wasn't that far off from being square) Emily looked at it and said "Momma, that's not a square. It's a 'tangle"
But, Mary, the oldest, had gone through full-day and half-day preschool programs. When we started, many moons ago, I figured she was already used to the program. So I pushed on and when she pushed back I felt this compelling need to push a little harder. I *needed* to let her know how this was going to work.
I also kept researching. I figured I just needed to find the magic key that would release this learning machine that was pent-up inside of her. I beat myself up. I unfortunately pressed Mary until there were times I am sure she felt a little beat up. Everyday I tried to gleam the pearl, and shove the painful experiences under my mental carpet.
Slowly, we began skipping days here and there. I felt so tired and unsure. I didn't want to go five rounds with her anymore over 10 measly math problems. After a few days I would feel guilty and make us put on our school hats and hit the books. And, then there is a whole other set of issues with consistency and all.
After Robbie was born, I only schooled half-heartedly. I was really sure that our homeschooling days were going to come to an end this year. Since she had finished the 1st grade math book and I had finally realized that there was probably nothing more I could do to MAKE her read - I figured what would she really lose. I spent my days mainly watching all of them. And just being with them. I began reading, again, articles about waiting for the developmental clues. Readiness to DO "schoolwork" and it began to dawn on me that what Mary had been asking for all this time was more TIME. For me to slow down and wait.
It wasn't ever that she wasn't intelligent. She could always blow people out of the water with her conversations. She just wasn't physically ready for the demands I was putting on her body. Combine that with some sort of innate need to be 'perfect' and not ever make any mistakes so no one will ever laugh at her. (No anxiety issues there). She could not do it without falling apart.
I am working on my 'waiting' skills. I am trying with my whole being to be totally in love with my children exactly as they are at each moment - and not force my own insecurities and 'shoulds' onto them. I'll be honest it is much easier with the others compared to Mary, because we have been at this personality song & dance much longer. Katie doesn't want to read - "fine" I shrug my shoulders and suggest something else. Mary doesn't want to read, I cringe a little inside, but say 'fine' and try to move on. Much better than the bribe, negotiation, arguing and crying cycle.
So, what has been going on. Well on the good side - tv has totally lost its alure. They still get up and veg to it for about 30 minutes every morning but then I find them gone and off with the day. I turn it off and rarely do they ask for it to come back on. Mary is spending alot more time on the computer doing different things that she is having to practice her reading skills on. It is much more peaceful in that regard around the house. I am able to spend more time with the little ones - playing games and so forth with them. I'm getting alot more hugs and kisses.
On the bad, but not horrible side; Mary spends as much time as I will allow with friends in the neighborhood. There are times I feel almost reduced to begging for her to come home, alone, for a little while. I miss being with her during the day. When she is gone I'm not quite sure what she is learning. I feel as though I can't help build of her self-image any faster than it is being eroded by others. Yet, she still feels compelled to be with them all the time.
I am trying to wait. I still feel internal pressure to 'control' (part of that whole missing what is going on minute by minute). I'm trying to believe that she will tell me when she is ready. Yet I have July 2nd circled on the calendar to begin some new subjects, to set aside 3 hours a day that she *will* be home. I need to have some structure!
I think I may have to resurrect the laptop and see if I can type on it - missing letters and all.
The shakes and headaches could have also been attributed to the extra kids we seem to have floating around the house - constantly. Wednesday morning started off like any other Wednesday morning. I got up and did my chores and got everything ready for my friend who comes over with her kids so I can go to my appointment.
After the appointment I stopped by the bread store where I did find the motherload of bread purchases (note to self - Wednesday morning is bread markdown). We will be gorging ourselves on potato rolls for sometime - mmmm!! When I get home I walk into a house in which two 4 yr olds and a 2 yr old are having the best time, but loud! Mary returns home shortly after with my friend's son as they were down at a neighbor's house, and with her friend A.
Mary is so excited to see the webkin I had bought for her that she and A go on the computer to set it up. Then A's brother Z comes over and they are going to have lunch with us. While this is going on a whooper of a thunderstorm moves in catching the girl who is my mommy's helper and her friend, out in the street so they came in. The storm lasted for nearly two hours before the thunder stopped and the rain let up. With all those kids in the house, in a small house.
Mary's friend A ended up spending the night with us, so she didn't end up leaving until noon yesterday. And during that time we had all sorts of other friends in and out of the house. My nerves were just about shot.
After everyone was gone I dragged everyone out to BJs where I spent too much money because I was just so happy to only have my own kids for a little while. I ended up buying the girls the set of illustrated classics I had been eyeing for awhile. These are to replace the 30-something-year-old illustrated classics that dh had. So, yes, more books. I have got to stay away from book tables.
Today I've given Mary a limit on how many hours we can have 'friend' time. I miss having her around and I miss doing things with her.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Yeah, right. Robbie, aka Flash Gordon, is everywhere. The boy has speed and stamina. I go in and put him on his play carpet and by the time I've finished doing the sweep for anything chokable that a sister may have left lying around he is four or five feet away and closing on some odd piece of paper or other trash someone has left out.
And, object permanence, he has that already too. He doesn't sit and wait for me to come back or cry and wait for me to come back. He heads out to find me, wherever I am. And then, I think I am going to cry here, he tries to pull himself up, already.
The bigger girls think it is great fun to hold onto his fingers as he does the 'tiptoe' walk. All I want to do is cry. My last baby, well on his way to toddlerhood. I am not ready for this. I'm still chasing his sister.
The one who finds all the mislaid markers and takes delight in drawing murals for us all on the walls.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I don't have a long dream list of things to study. Instead I really tried to focus on what the girls have been telling me they want to do. If something new comes along we may head down a different path, and me being relaxed about that is making all the difference.
We will start our Summer Quarter on July 2. I've scheduled it so Mary and Katie should be done by lunchtime each day to go play with friends. Only reading and math are 4 days a week, everything else will be done on alternating days.
Prima Latina (M/W)
Hooked on Phonics - Orange Book (T/Th)
Horizon's Math Grade 2 (M/T/W/Th)
Writing Exercises (T/Th)
Reading - 20 mins (M/T/W/Th)
Ancient Greeks (T/Th)
Read Alouds: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and My Side of the Mountain.
Kumon Numbers 1-120 and RightStart Math K (M/T/W/Th)
Hooked on Phonics - Yellow Book (M/W)
Reading together 10 mins (M/T/W/Th)
Reading Readiness Games (T/Th)
The Fall will not be much different, in fact Katie's will stay the same until she is ready to add more stuff in. As always she will participate as much and as little as she wants in the science and history I do with Mary.
Mary in the fall, will also add back in grammar studies to alternate with writing. She will most likely finish her phonics program fairly early in the fall and reading will increase to 30 minutes/day in two 15 minute periods.
Our science focus for this year is going to be Chemistry. In the fall I want to use Real Science 4 Kids. That should only take us through the fall, but with the introduction I figure we can use what science materials we have available through library, internet and here at home to study Chemistry for as long as the girls are interested.
We will finish our Ancient Greeks study in a few weeks, so this fall we will start with The Roman Empire. That will be our concentration for the whole year. We may take a break here and there if a small interest comes up in another part of history. That is pretty much why I am figuring a year on it. For some reason we cannot move very quickly with history and Mary. Alternating with history is going to be Geography studies. Every two weeks we will randomly pick a country that Mary has to do different projects for, from PowerPoint presentation to worksheets to a written report.
Prima Latina (2x)
Math Grade 2/Book 2 (4x)
Phonics (until completed) (2x)
Reading 20 minutes (4x)
We won't even go to my expected extracurricular activity list yet. I have/will have activities for 2 children and adding Emily to gymnastics in January. We will be walking a very fine line. I just need to teach the girls how to write in the car ;)
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I think ticket prices are fairly expensive. We used to have a membership to the zoo, about $60 per year. But my mom gave us a membership to the NC Aquarium which has reciprocal admission with the zoo. For a family our size the membership works out to be about what we would pay for one visit.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The past couple of days I spent pulling together photos and re-reading my blog for the last year to remember what we have done. It was strange going back because some of the activities seem like they just happened and others I felt as if it had been forever. And then there was the whole "we really do do a lot of activities" ah-ha moment. Trying to pick and choose what made it into the yearbook was challenging.
It ended up being 26 pages and only hit on the highlights of each month. I didn't go into our daily schedule or what pages we had finished. I figured I have all that in Mary's and Katie's notebooks and I will just file them with the yearbook.
This book is for Mary and Katie so they can see and remember the field trips, classes and performances of this year. It is for them to share with Daddy and their grandparents so they too can see the growth and enjoyment of this last year.
How do you save the memories from the last year for your children?
Thursday, June 07, 2007
We made it too the zoo a little before 10am. It was still cool enough that many animals were still out where you could see them, as opposed to hiding in the shadows. We walked up the hill from the entrance and immediately saw this
This area also held some of the biggest ostriches and zebras (although they were much harder to see in the distance)
If there are rocks my children will find them and climb them. We've gone to the zoo often enough that it doesn't phase me, but my mom was all tied up in "nots" about them getting off the path. That was one kind of frustrating thing about the trip.
We made it up the path to the Lions. The mother lion had given birth to three cubs right about the time I had Robbie. They have grown a little bit more.
Next stop the Chimpanzee 'reserve'. The zoo does a really good job of setting up all the different areas like African reserve and research stations. Not only educating about the animals, but also about conservation issues and the African people.
I love this picture of my little monkeys watching these 'monkeys'.
I had more pictures of the chimps, but unfortunately HE was thinking he was in a different type of peep show most of the time we were there. The rest of his family would not come out from under the tree.
We went out and let the girls pose on the statues that they really enjoy.
We stopped by Monkey Island to see the Patas Monkeys, but there were only a couple out. So moved on the the gorilla. He was sleeping and we were pushed out of the way by one of the many groups of middle school students on field trips that day. We moved on the the Aviary, where the girls could have stayed for hours. I felt as if I was going to have heat stroke.
We saw lots of other things that I can't even remember. It started to become more important that I keep Emily from wandering off with the school groups than trying to shoot pictures. We were a little disappointed that we did not catch a glimpse of the elephants and rhinos on this visit.
Since we have the membership we generally only do one side of the zoo on each visit. It is much too large to try to see all in one day with little children. This fall we will go back when it is cooler for the North American exhibits again. When it is cooler the Polar Bears & Sea Lions are much more energetic.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
We found a ducks nest, sans eggs and ducks - so they must have already moved on. She pointed out all the poison ivy along the walk and warned us to stay away. She showed me a tree that had been cut down that was fifty years old and showed K & EM how to count the rings.
We found several types of ferns and she was able to identify two of them, we observed the difference between shelf lichen and scale lichen and saw that two types of mosses were growing in the area.
Along the walk we were followed by a family of geese, saw several turtles sunning themselves (but couldn't ever get a clear picture of them), made friends with a pair of mallards and even watched a copperhead snake coiled in the pinestraw near the edge of the water.
The walk was relaxing, maybe the first time on a walk I didn't totally freak out about only being able to have one child in the stroller. EM did a real good job staying with her big sisters. K didn't drag her feet and want to stay 15 feet behind me at all times. And we only had a few flashbacks of fear from when the duck at the other park chased K down.
We came home and MB made a nature book of our walk. She actually did the typing on several pages before she turned it over to me and dictated. Since I can't show you the book, I'll include the pictures from our walk.
Tomorrow we head for the Zoo. Maybe this time we will not end of half-way down the road with a child trowing up in the backseat.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Of course this weekend I'm supposed to take the girls to the Animal Planet festival. So, we will have to see if they get disappointed or not. We can't go tomorrow, so I am hoping that by Sunday afternoon we might just have a nice comfortable drizzle happening.
Today I finally made it back over to the Farmer's Market - we finally had the stars aligned with having spare cash and free time. The bonus was I had to drive into the city anyway for something else so I didn't use any extra gas to make the trip. The stalls are really starting to fill in. Bushel baskets overflowing with squash, zuchinni, tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, freshly dug red potatoes, and many other things.
Before we left to run errands I did good and made out our menu for the next two weeks so that I could have a list to go by, and hopefully, would not get too crazy. I spent $20, to the penny - I like nice round numbers. I got: local wildflower honey (the sample was really tasty), basket of peaches, 3lbs red potatoes (@ $.50/lb), three heads of leaf lettuce, 2 slicing cucumbers and a qt of strawberries the girls just had to have to snack on. We really did not need much. I was so tempted by the squash and zuchinni - but had not made room for them in our menu. I might go back next week for some.
Speaking of groceries, it is a new month. For May my finally tally was $341 for groceries, under our budgeted goal of $350. I didn't make my stretch goal, but I'm okay with that. We still have meat in the freezer to get through much of June.
I've decided to budget $400 for this month, and aim for $300. But, I'm not all pushed to make a stretch goal this month. Our canned goods are fairly low, and with hurricane season here I think I may need to spend a little extra money building up that area of my pantry. I'm hoping for a chance to go to Aldi's next week (maybe childless). The canned goods are not for our daily use through the summer (too many fresh things to eat), but to give us something to fall back on if necessary. We end up using them during the fall and winter.
So far we have spent $89 of our budget for June. The $20 at the Farmer's Market and another $69 at the local Kroger to finish off our shopping list for the payday. I should be able to cook every meal we have planned with what we have here.
Menu 6/3 - 6/15
6/3 - Homemade or Frozen Pizza, salad
6/4 - Spaghetti, salad, homemade french bread
6/5 - Grilled Chicken Quarters, roasted potatoes, peas
6/6 - Broccoli/Ham Quiche
6/7 - Stuffed Shells, salad
6/8 - Sweet & Sour Popcorn Chicken, Rice
6/9 - Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, French Fries
6/10 - Homemade/Frozen Pizza
6/11 - Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
6/12 - Tacos, refried beans
6/13 - Leftover Meat Skillet Dinner, buttered egg noddles
6/14 - Chicken Spaghetti
6/15 - Grilled Pork Chops
I still need to try to find ways to keep the grocery budget low. I sat down tonight to figure out what we need to save for the remainder of the year and came up with $3500 by Christmas. This includes new tires for the van, birthdays for each child, car insurance (it would sure be nice to be able to pay this in full for a change), christmas, and the biggie: a family vacation to the Outer Banks this fall. DH has plenty of time accrued for us to take a whole week at the beach. We have found a cottage that will take us and our dogs on the beach for $600/week.
A family vacation is a huge thing for us. When MB was almost two we managed to go visit my sister on the west coast for a week, but since then our family trips have been weekend get-aways. The girls will have a blast. We are looking to go in either September or October. It should still be warm enough to swim and be on the beach, but not so hot it is miserable to be on the sand. It also gets us in after the high season, so we can actually afford it.
We have a plan, and have already started squrriling the money away. I plan on trying to sell some baby stuff to make a little extra. We also don't have several school year/lesson expenses for the next three months, so that can be used towards the savings.
I have my goal this summer, and am excited to get busy. Wish us luck.