Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our Doggy Died

Losing a pet royally sucks.  Our 12 year old Lab Pointer died sometime before 5 am this morning.  She had cancer.  We just took her to the vet yesterday and they gave her pain meds and other meds.  We were really loving on her yesterday and thought she had a couple of weeks.  I prayed over her and asked God to make her comfortable in her last days.  We talked to her a lot more than normal and tried to stay close to her side.

We put her in the chair she loved to sleep in, tucked her in and said good night thinking she'd be there in the morning.  My oldest came in from work a little before 5 am and it woke me up - I went to check on her and she was gone.  We all have broken hearts this thanksgiving day.

Here she is last night with Bear.  He didn't want her to sleep by herself, but after a while she wanted water and it was after that when we put her in the chair she loved.

Here she is in better days.  She loved her boys and they loved her.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Report 11/15 - 11/19

What We Are Reading:
Me~ College Prep Homeschooling
Bear~ Mere Christianity, Stalking the Plumed Serpent: Adventures in Herpetology
Noodle: Book on CD Superfudge

Bible:  Bear is still working his way through C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity and working on memorizing the books of the Bible.  He memorized them back in 3rd grade, but is now doing a memory review because he has forgotten some of them.  We will be starting back up on the Preparing for Battle study on spiritual warfare next week.  Noodle and I are still reading bible stories from Rod and Staff Bible Stories and we started reading Leading Little Ones to God.  All of us together did devotions a couple of times this week and we have been working on praying together more.

Math:  Bear is smoothly working through Book 3 of Key to Algebra with his tutor/teacher.  Noodle is on Lesson 48 of Abeka Math 1.  He just started learning to tell time and has become very proficient in counting pennies, nickels and dimes.  We are going to start skipping some stuff that just equates to busy work and move on to learning more new concepts.  He catches on pretty quickly with math and I hope it stays that way.  He played with the Math Shark for about 45 minutes.

English/Language Arts: Bear worked on sentence diagramming this week and did a grammar review packet which contained worksheets of concepts for review.  For Writing we did some outlining and will continue more of that.  We both took an Analogies pre-quiz and let's just say we will be working on analogies quite a bit in the near future.  He did some reading from an American Literature Anthology and also did work from Wordly Wise 3000 Book 9.  Noodle did some handwriting practice, continue work on Nouns from First Language Lessons and did a worksheet on nouns that I found on the Internet for first grade.  For Explode the Code he completed several pages in Book 2.  He recited poems that he previously memorized and still knew them perfectly: Singing Time, Time to Rise and Caterpillar.

History:  I love studying Colonial America.  Bear, not so much but he does what he has to do!  He completed summaries on this week's TOG Famous People list, read from Heritage of Freedom, Our Island Story and North American Indian.  He worked on his unit long project - book of colonies.  I read aloud to both boys from The Landmark History of the American People.  Noodle and I finished reading If You Were at the First Thanksgiving and he made butter- Pilgrim style!!!

 We got the idea and instructions from Colonial Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in the New World.

 Shake, shake, shake......
Shake, shake, shake.....

More shaking......

And more and more shaking.......


Yummy goodness!


That was our favorite activity of the week!  We put the butter on Ritz crackers and snacked away.  The whipping cream was cheaper than buying butter sticks so now I am actually entertaining the idea of regularly making our own butter.  Hmmmmmmm........

Science:  For Apologia Physical Science Bear did two experiments this week.  This one was about Ice and Salt/Freezing Temperatures.

And this one was about Evaporation, Condensation and Precipitation:

In addition to Apologia assignments he did some reading from Archimedes and the Door of Science.  As always, he reads science books on his free time as well.  He continues to read books about Evolution, Darwin and all things reptile.  We finally got some books on the Creation vs Evolution debate that he will begin reading soon.

Noodle did not do any science this week except for his Science Experiments class at Co-op.

Health:  We are way behind on  Abeka High School Health - Bear doesn't enjoy it.  It is only a one semester class that apparently he will take all school year to complete - still only receiving .5 credit of course.  If it were me I would get it over with if I didn't like it, not draaaaaaaaaaaaaag it out.  What do I know anyway, I am just a mom with more life experience right?

Next week we are only doing school 3 days because of Thanksgiving, so we are going to focus on math, reading and projects.  I am looking forward to the mini vacation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Balance or Harmony?

I just read an awesome and inspiring post over at Seasons of Learning, a blog that I follow.  It has inspired me to make my own list.

Instead of waiting for the New Year, why not now?  Starting today I am posting this where I see it everyday and where my children and husband can see it.  I often will decide things but it doesn't get written down and *poof* my thought disappears in to la-la land.  In everything I have ever accomplished a visual was involved.  When I earned cars from Mary Kay Cosmetics there were pictures of the car everywhere I turned so that it didn't leave my mind.  Goal posters have always served as a reminder to me of what I am working towards.  Why not make a homeschool/life goal poster instead of a "stuff I want" poster?

I already do these things in some capacity, my difficulty is in *consistency* and often prioritizing in the wrong order.  I have often said balance is a myth, and I might still believe that but it doesn't keep me from trying.  I really think harmony may be a better word, but I will go with balance since it is a familiar word.  Harmony to me means all things flow together, that I have a certain lifestyle that all areas blend.  Balance to me always conjures up a vision of boxes and each part of my life goes in a different box, which to me equates to disconnect at times.  Harmony means I can have the mom hat and the teacher hat on at the same time or the christian hat and the baseball mom hat on at the same time.

My Goals for Being a Balanced Mom - aka How to Have Harmony in My Life

1. Character and Relationships:  Lead by example in all my relationships - my marriage, my children and my friends.  I can't help but think of Gandhi who said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."  I will talk to my husband the way I want him to talk to me and I will talk to my children the way I would want to be talked to.  I will offer comfort and advice to girlfriends that I would want them to give me.  How does this look?  When I clean the toilet I won't complain to everyone in the house. (see Phil 2:14) Less yelling, more compassion, more positive reinforcement and when girlfriends are having a "bad husband day" I will direct them to the Lord instead of a bubble bath and a glass of wine.  Basically I want to inspire my children, family and friends to honor Christ boldly in what we say and what we do.

2.  Consistency:  I am not a "schedule" person, but I do like routine and I am a list maker. I will be diligent about following a routine in our household.  It is also necessary for me to be consistent with discipline - if it is a crime one day it must still be a crime the next day!  I have had those days where it is easier to send a kid off to his room instead of dealing with the issue, so I resolve to deal with the issues.

3. Be a Good Steward:  As a family we all need to be good stewards of what we have.  Financially, we don't spend money we don't have to spend.  Around the house, we pick up and put stuff away that is out of place, put trash in the garbage bag, put dishes in the sink or dishwasher, don't leave things on the floor or where the dogs have access and so on.  There are times in our house when it seems "taking care of our things" isn't on the radar.  "Things" cost money and spending money on something that no one is bothering to take care of or protect is wasteful and not being a good steward.  Games- keeping them together with all their pieces - this has really changed at our house.  When Super Duper and Bear were younger, before Noodle was born, this was a huge problem.  They were very destructive and it was because I wasn't there to supervise or guide.  Numerous things of value were trashed or lost.  Today, we have closets where games are kept and Noodle has been trained to put everything back in the game box and put it away. 

4. Homeschool/Academics:  This is a big one.  I want my children to have a learner's heart, enthusiasm and excitement for learning new things.  I commit to reading aloud DAILY and to give my children books that cause them to think and feel.   I will continue to teach to mastery even if it means staying with something longer than I want to. Noodle loves experiments and crafts so I am committing to doing those things once a week, just for him.  Months ago I decided to do nature walks......we haven't done one this school year.  I am going to buy two nature notebooks and commit to once a month at least.  We will continue with our local co-op for team learning/working together experiences.

5.  Faith:  We will continue to be part of a home church/Sunday School with a group of wonderful people.  We will pray together as often as possible.  We will read the word together.  I will seek to understand first and judge second.  I want to be a woman after God's own heart.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How We Use Apologia Upper Sciences

There are so many mixed reviews out there about Apologia Science, especially the upper sciences for 7-12th grade.  My now graduated son was a typical textbook learner.  By that I mean he could read the chapters, find the answers to the review questions, do the study guide and then pass the test because he memorized the answers.  Two days after the test he couldn't tell you much about the last module/chapter. 

Bear however, is not a textbook learner.  He loves reading and is a visual guy with a very small part that likes hands on, but he'd prefer to watch.  He struggles with finding answers to questions and he would rather just know the information and remember it for all time.  He is an avid reader and a lover of all things Discovery Channelish. Yes, I made that word up. 

Because of his learning style the way we use Apologia is very repetitive.  He reads the modules on his own first, then I read/review aloud with him while he takes notes.  I highlight things in the text that he is taking notes on.  I use the study guide and test questions to guide our review.  When we have read and lectured on the whole module he then does the study guide.  This is where his struggle begins.  If he doesn't know the information by the time we get to the study guide he gets frustrated because that means he has to FIND the information, which he despises.  This is where my highlights come in.  I know it sounds like I am doing the work for him and that may be true for now, but eventually he will do this review and highlighting stuff on his own.  He is still learning the study skills from me right now.  After he does the study guide we review the answers together to make sure he is spot on.  If he feels he needs to read the module again then he does that and then the next day he takes the test.  He usually scores in the mid to upper 90's.

With regards to study skills, I am learning as I go.  My oldest son knew how to study.  I made the mistake of assuming Bear knew as well.  I discovered too late that he didn't have any study skills.  Hopefully, when Noodle is 14 he will have the skills in place and I won't have to do this process with him at that time.  I expect Bear to be self sufficient in this area by the time we finish ninth grade.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up 11/8-11/12

What we're reading:
Mom- The Visitation by Frank Peretti
Bear- Mere Christianity, Paradise Lost and lots of books from the library
Noodle- Library books....we need to start a new book on CD or Read Aloud

This week Noodle and I finished Fudge-A-Mania book on CD by Judy Blume.  We haven't picked a new one yet.  I'd like to find something with a colonial setting so it can kind of coordinate with our history.  Speaking of history we did lots of history reading this week! I found some great books at the library that were written in the 60's.  It is a series  about the colonies by "A Forge of Freedom" books.  This week I read aloud to both Bear and Noodle from "The Massachusetts Colony" book.  We read in detail about the first settlers, the relationships with the Native Americans and lots of scary details about the Salem Witch Trials.  Bear was having a hard time understanding how "ignorant" the people were and it really ticked him off that little kids were lying about innocent people. I tried to explain that he might lie too if he was afraid for his life or the life of his family. He insists he wouldn't.  OK.

Noodle and I also read Finding Providence which is the story of Roger Williams.  We continued reading

Noodle did a craft project this week from Colonial Kids - he painted a "chest."  It is more like a trinket box, but he got the point.  We talked about how chests were used to store things in because they didn't have closets. He painted it and then decorated it colorfully like the Pennsylvania Dutch would have (sort of).

At Cub Scouts this week they did an activity towards their Tiger Cub Badge - leaf rubbing.

Bear is still working his way through Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and for TOG Literature he started
Paradise Lost.  We will take about 3 weeks to go through Paradise Lost, discuss it and go over literary elements.  It should make for some interesting Socratic discussions. 

As for TOG.  I tried.  For two weeks we attempted to actually do a week in a week.  The first week we made it, the second we didn't and now I have just resigned myself to the fact that it is just too rich to "race" through it in a week. I know people do it, I just don't know how to do it that quickly AND feel that we got a lot out of it. I am going to try to keep it to a week when we can but I am not going to stress if we don't.  I haven't figured out what this means yet for high school history.  It may mean we don't ever take time off for history.  Bear may balk, but to truly give him the American History, World History and Government credits, we need to get through all four years somehow.  I am just going to wing it I guess. That said, I love, love, love TOG!

Bear is still on Module 5 of Apologia Physical Science.  He also read a couple chapters of

Other assignments/subjects he tackled this week were R and S English 7, Algebra (doing really well PTL), and he wrote and performed his persuasive speech at co-op.  His topic was "Why Snakes Make the Best Pets" and it was pretty funny in my opinion.  We didn't get much done for Health or Logic.

In curriculum news I am considering a switch for Language Arts.  For Noodle it would be more of an add on than a switch, but I can't decide.  Currently we are breezing through First Language Lessons but I really want something more "workbookish" - yes I made up another word!  I don't know if it is my own public school education, my learning style or what, but I am hankering for a workbook.  We'll be using Christian Light Education Grade 1 Language Arts.  I just don't know if I should start it now of finish FLL and then start it, but we are almost halfway through first grade so I need to make a decision.  I am too retentive to skip some of the books for CLE so to start at book 1 (even though the sample looks too easy) will make me feel like we are behind. 

I really like FLL, but I really love the way CLE looks and all that it includes.  We haven't even been doing spelling because we use Explode the Code and he learns how to spell because of the repetitive writing in those books.  Speaking of ETC, that is my other dilemma.  I am going to keep using ETC but I am concerned it will be overkill combined with CLE.  Any CLE users out there that can ease my mind?????

For Bear, he really detests the R and S English 7.  I would like to switch to CLE for him as well.  Because he is not a strong grammar student we would be starting at a lower level -like 6 or 7.  I'll know after he does the Diagnostic test.  For spelling we have been using Spelling Power, but not for a couple of weeks now.  I think because of the way CLE is laid out and all that it includes, our English program would be much more consistent.  Of course for literature and writing we will continue what we are doing.

I'll make a decision soon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Readers are Leaders

Or so I have heard. This might be very true.  I am not a leader in the sense that I am famous for it, but I have lead bible study groups, homeschool events, sales teams, organized events and taught workshops.  I don't know if any of the skills to do these things have to do with me being a reader, but I do know reading has broadened my base of knowledge and inspired many an idea.

I love to read and cannot remember a time in my life that I didn't love to read.  My earliest memories of enjoying reading go back to second grade, to Mr. Howe's class at Sarah Adams Elementary.  He had an orange claw foot bathtub filled with pillows.  We students took turns and earned time in the tub.  We could sit in the tub, snuggled in the pillows while reading a book.  I loved going to school because reading in the tub was something I didn't want to miss.

I have modeled reading to my kids all their lives.  Super Duper, my oldest doesn't choose to read anything other than skateboarding magazines.  He isn't a leader either.  He is content with being in the crowd and is a great employee.  His employer did promote him to trainer because he is good at what he does and can model it to others well, but he hasn't been promoted to a manager yet because he lacks leadership skills.  It could just be a coincidence, but I am thinking there may be something to the saying.  He did read lots of great books because he was homeschooled and assigned to read them, but he doesn't love reading. 

Bear does love to read.  We go to the library at least once a week and he brings home a pile of books to devour.  He can be found at any hour of any day with his nose in a book.  I love that he loves to read (even though I catch him "free" reading instead of reading what I told him to!).  He does exhibit leadership skills at home and at Boy Scouts.  They aren't strong skills, but he is only 14 and still developing them. 

So far Noodle is a lover of books and I hope the trend continues.  Our trips to the library is one of the highlights of our weeks.  Noodle checks out the leveled readers that he can read aloud to me and he also checks out books that I can read aloud to him.  He loves Clifford books and anything about Dinosaurs or funny dogs.  At age 6 he already shows some signs of being a future leader.  He likes to take charge of things and he likes order and organization.

I have been known to read several books at a time and Bear does the same thing.  Our home has books in every room.  Yes, even the bathroom. There are always books in the car too.  It probably isn't the best idea, but I do have a tendency to pick up a book while sitting at red lights - especially those hard to put down books.  I love to look in my rear view mirror and see the kids flipping pages. 

Lately, we have been listening to books on CD, which technically isn't reading, but the experience is almost the same - except nobody honks at me when the light turns green.  I have friends that have Kindles, but I can't bring myself to get one.  There is something about laying on the couch, clasping a book, turning the pages, dog earring the corners to mark my spot.  If I fall asleep and roll over on a Kindle I might be out a lot of money.  Plus, there is the battery thing that I don't have to deal with when reading paper books.  I like to read in the tub every once in a while and dropping a Kindle in the tub would be bad.  Anyway, doesn't this look so much more inviting???

I don't know about you but I keep a book wish list.  In fact on I have several different wish lists.  If I ever hit the lottery Amazon profits will skyrocket.  There are only a few genres I won't read.  Like Science Fiction (boring) and technical manuals/computer books.  Otherwise, I am game. I love books about education, American History, true crime stories, christian thrillers, historical romances, classic literature, christian living, organizing, home decor, biographies of interesting people, politics and of course homeschooling.

Are you a reader?  What are you reading right now??  Leave me a comment and tell me what I should add to my wish list - I can never have enough books listed!
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