Wednesday, September 30, 2009

School Year 2009-10 continued

This year I am doing school six weeks on, one week off with the exception being between Canadian Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think we will go 8-9 weeks for that session due to being off for two weeks over the holidays.

I am looking forward to this rotation. It is working well so far. We have 1 1/2 weeks left before our first week off and I can see the need for that week already. I hope to plan the next 8-9 weeks of school, re-organize high traffic areas, switch clothes for winter and deep clean a few places in my house and take one field trip...probably to the Aquarium. We will play Language and Math games a few times that week plus piano but other then that we are off. I might, if time permits have a baking day to do a bunch of muffins and cookies ahead of time. I find when school is in full swing I have little time for anything but learning, basic cooking, folding laundry, time with my man, sleeping and hopefully reading. I'll let you know how the first week off goes.

As for Isaac's 1st grade year....we are still figuring some of that out. Due to the recently diagnosed ADHD, ODD and possible sensory processing struggles we are doing basics only. He tags along with our Zoology 3 and loves it. Facts are his thing and trust me he doesn't forget any of them.
For language, right now, we are using Rod and Staff grade 1 reading program. I posted awhile back about how much I loved Rod and Staff. Now that we are into it daily I am not sure it is the best fit for us. It's like pulling teeth to get him to do it each day. He keeps telling me how boring it is. I am planning to go to something with more bells and whistles to see if that works. If not then it isn't really the resource but the child :o)

I am thinking of trying Sing Spell Read and Write or Learning Language Arts Through Literature due to all the hands on cut and paste activities. I might just go back and try Phonics Pathways along with Explode the Code again. He definitely isn't your sit down and read a list of sight words kind of guy.

For math we are using Right Start Level B . It is going well. It has a lot of hands on activities and very few worksheets at the level. They make much use of the abacus and Asian based math instruction. We really like it.

The following is what I am most excited to share. I have found some fun supplemental material on line.

I have made these letter feet to provide opportunity to move during lessons. I put them on the floor and he jumps to the correct letter as I say the sound. We have started blending them together as well. They take time to make but I am making them as we go. I will continue with these no matter what we end up using.

I am making these letter puzzles too. I print them on card stock and cut them out. He so enjoys taking all the different pieces and making the letters from the pile. I started with the lower case letters because the feet are upper case. I plan to make the puzzles for all the lower and upper case letters.

This is our traveling school file box for Isaac. I figured since he is on the move, his school stuff would need to be as well. We can wheel this from the kitchen to the living room and then store it in the garage when needed. Everything we use is at our finger tips.

The bonus is, it was free. Gotta love a bargain!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Resources for our 2009-10 School Year

It's taken me forever to get to posting this. I usually provide links to everything we are using but it takes extra time. That's what google is for right? So there are only links to something you couldn't find on your own.

Journey is 9 years old and in 4th grade.

  • Rod and Staff Bible (she loves doing this)
  • Rod and Staff English Grade 4
  • Rod and Staff Cursive Writing
  • Spelling Doo Riddles
  • Still undecided on Writing (any ideas?)
  • Horizons Grade 4 (we did first 50 lessons last year~was a breeze after Singapore 3 but starting in the middle of a curriculum this year has proven not a good idea)
  • Spelling Workout Book D
  • Story of the World Volume 4 Modern Times (we are really liking the mapping and outlines)
  • Apologia Elementary Science Zoology 3 (this is our favorite science curr. She is coming out with an Anatomy book~ Jan 2010 that we plan to start in February. I think a Chemistry and Physics book is in the works. )
  • Typing free online (I like using this :o)
  • Chronicles of Narnia Novel Studies by Veritas Press

I plan to make a lap book accordion time line with our SOTW this year. We are also covering some Canadian history by watching a BBC series and making notebook pages. The big change for this year is the 6 weeks on and 1 week off rotation. More on that when I post about Isaac's grade 1 year in my next post.

Baby is awake and due to piano tonight dinner is at 5pm. Gotta get crackin'

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Good Reads

Joy @ Life in the Making
is doing a series of post on allergies to milk and diet changes they have made as a family. Several of her children have struggled with allergic reaction's to dairy including her recent newborn. She also shares about behaviors related to food additives. I am just beginning down this road with one of my own children. The first post is titled Beauty and the (food) Beast and the next second post is here. Well worth the read.

Heather @ Stepping Heavenward
posted an article she read entitled The Cloistered Homeschooled Syndrome. We need to train and teach our children (male and female) to be thinking responsible adults. The influence we will have in their lives has to transition to an adult relationship and not stay parent child once they are grown. I am not there yet with the adult child but I know I need to be making choices toward them being ready for adulthood at 18 ish. That starts now while my oldest is only nine.

I don't typically read much by the Pearls because I don't agree on many points but this article is well worth some thought in my opinion. I see it as a healthy warning and a means to check our own heart motivations. Though I do admit I might have trouble sending my 22 year old daughter into an unreached tribe by herself.

I have also recently started reading Neil Postman's, "Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century How the Past Can Improve Our Future". Not Christian worldview at all but interesting all the same. History, the past has always been intriguing to me. Not just the facts but the thoughts and ideas that influence us today.

Monday, September 21, 2009



The foot work with buying one van and scrapping another

Visiting friends who are home from overseas

A baby who thinks one nap a day is a good idea even though he's still tired

Feeding and educating three kids

A husband on call all weekend and working late

I've been a little preoccupied. :o)

Still planning to share what we are doing with of these days?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Six Random Things

1. We just bought a new (to us) van. I'll post pictures once Aaron gets home with it. (Like you really care what it looks like). This is another clear evidence of God's care for us. The van is 10 years old on the outside but has only 10,000 km on a brand new motor. Being the daughter of a mechanic I actually do care more about what is under the hood then the exterior. That being said the van looks great all around.

2. Confessions! The picture to the right, of Aaron and I is ten years old. Now to my credit I couldn't find a more current picture of us together, alone and actually looking presentable. Maybe we will take a new pic one of these day but of coarse I still look just like that :o)

3. Circle Time this morning in school was a disaster. It was chaos and not because of the struggles my 6 year old has with self regulation and hyperactivity....oh no! The culprit this time is the littlest male in our family who has decided that the playpen is a prison and not a play ground. He made it very clear this morning he would not be caged. So we sang and played with the baby instead. Let's hope he doesn't think that's the new plan everyday.

4. I think my PCOS is back......Grrrrr!

5. We are making some diet changes around here related to helping Isaac (more on that later). I have discovered that my all time favorite indulgence chocolate milk has of all things, color and artificial flavor. I never read the label before and I am disappointed. So what did I do? I bought a litre of it last night to drink all by myself as a formal goodbye. I will have to make my own recipe now but I am very picky about my chocolate milk.

6. Do you know that I was well on my way to becoming a Marine Biologist. I was accepted in a Marine program at a college in Delaware and was fulfilling a childhood dream. But I never went, something fell through the $$$. Long story. But anyway, I bet you didn't know that about me. There are some days in this stay at home homeschooling calling and adventure that the ocean seems much more appealing then the kitchen sink.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Show And Tell

I have recently started visiting Melissa Stovers blog, A Familiar Path. She is a fellow homeschool mom and loves taking pictures, often of her very cute kids. I love taking pictures and playing with my camera and she has inspired me to do just that.

Melissa has a weekly feature of her blog called Show and Tell. You take pictures and share. It's pretty simple but helps me be more purposeful about getting interesting and creative shots.

This is my first week joining in on the fun.
The pose was purposeful but the coloring was on accident.
I really don't know what I am doing :o)

I love playing with a mirror in my photos, We have big mirror doors in our entry way which has caused me to play around with it a bit more. All the smudges on the mirror don't help much.

Note to self...clean mirror before picture taking!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A New Chapter

Everyone has a story. Moments of victory, great joy and also times of sorrow and excruciating loss. We are all changed and grow through these things we face. God in his perfection has good plans for each of us though not always comfortable nor our first choice. Our story has had much sorrow. More recently, much joy with the birth of baby Eli and Aaron's much needed stable and decent paying job. Life on many fronts has become more comfortable. The growth we have gained through the times of loss and pain are priceless. They are like treasures never dreamed of nor expected. It's only in distance that I can look back and see the foundations God built for what he had down the road. I have more faith now then I did then......I have SO much to go back too when life gets crazy. The evidence of His grace not only on the cross but in my little part of the world is undeniable. He really does provide ALL I need for life!

So armed with this we move into the next chapter of our story. A place that I do and will need much faith as I walk what He has laid out for this family, my family.

I am bit of a wimp. A controversy wimp to be exact. I started blogging to share, to grow, to write and be encouraged. As I became more involved in the blogging community I began to see that strong convictions and words often were rewarded with criticism and sometimes flames. People due to anonymity were willing to say things they might not be wiling to say face to face. This really bothered me. I wouldn't call myself a people pleaser but I definitely don't like unnecessary conflict so I avoided any topics that might stir the pot. I see the possible conflict involved in this topic as necessary. In order to grow and learn there must be pressure, stretching and yes, conflict. I see this with my kids, my marriage and friendships, even in my relationship with God. I as a parent need to find and give the best I can to my children and train them up in the way they should go. What I am learning has changed how I see some things that I was pretty sure about.

As I have briefly mentioned before our son Isaac has been diagnosised with ADHD and also ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) along with some possible sensory issues. In the Christian community there are many different ideas and thoughts on psychiatric diagnosis. Are they real or just entrenched sin and lack of gospel centered thinking? Is a disobedient bratty child simply due to permissive parenting? If we discipline more consistently and diligently the child will turn around right? Is first time obedience the be all and end all of parenting? If it is, are you a failure as the parent of the difficult child? What is inability to understand the consequences of your actions compared to childhood folly? Could diet really have an impact on behaviors? Do we use drugs?

These are all questions I have been grappling with for along time. In attempt to grow and process I will start to grapple with them here in this little space in cyber world. I do so with some reservation. I can only trust that the differing opinions and conversations would be based on a desire to encourage one another and learn. I don't have all the answers, not even close.

As we start this conversation and I begin to write this chapter of our story, pray for my son, for our family and please share your own experiences. I find such beauty in the sharing that takes place from one life to another. I believe that is part of God's story for man as we await His return.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love These Baby Eyes

Eli John 11 months old


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Official Kickoff

Yesterday kicked of the new school year. With tradition we headed out as a family for a big pancake breakfast. Considering both boys rise around 6 am we got started bright and early. We then took a leisurely stroll (to walk off the pancakes no doubt) and headed home.

Each year we have a treasure hunt in our house for the fresh new school supplies. I am a sucker for new pencils, markers and our new obsession Twistable Crayons. I like these because my son Isaac can press hard and not break them, as well as, not be tempted to peel them instead of pay attention :o) I had fun shopping! This was the first year I could buy most of what we needed in one shop. I bought enough white cardstock to last the entire year.

I love the smell of new paper! I know.... a bit nerdy.

To put our new supplies to good use we sat down and made our notebook covers for each subject. They have fun tailoring the covers to what they are studying for the year. We use stickers, makers, printouts, etc. Isaac's notebooks inevitably have cars, bugs and dinosaurs on them because we all know they transcend every subject of study.

Today we worked through our first full day of academics and it went well.

Of course we couldn't leave little Eli without a notebook.

He didn't really decorate it but simply tried to eat it.

Boys will be boys!

(Stay tuned for more of the changes we have made for this year. I had intended to post that before the start of school but battled a nasty cold all weekend. )

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mrs. Clean On Strike

I have come to the conclusion that in order to stay sane in home educating this year something has to go. Between a very academic 4th grader, a struggling and difficult 1st grader and a very cute but mobile 10 month old, I feel stretched. Switching from one mode to the next is material for another post.

What goes this clean house! I like to keep my house pretty clean. I have finally accepted that the dirt will have to live along side of us if I am to keep the priorities where they should be.

I am making things easier on myself and hopefully it will all come out in the wash (sorry couldn't resist). My three biggest helpers are above. The cute kid has learned to clean bathrooms this past year and I have learned to accept the nine year old version of clean. She is improving all the time. The other two gadgets are the best! My swiffer vacuum keeps my floors de-crumbed and is easily used by any child...even a 6 year old boy who likes to pretend it's a rocket. The other is a magic cloth mop. Even if I just use water it works "magic". Armed with these three babies I am well on my way to sticking to a decently clean house.

One thing I have changed is my cleaning bucket mentality. I have paper towels and vinegar water spray bottles under every sink in my house. Cleaning takes 5 minutes when everything is right where you need it. The great thing is the kids could drink the cleaner and be fine....though have some nasty burps.

I never used to do paper towels in order to be more green but it is one of those things that had to change. Right now, creating another load of laundry to clean my bathrooms just doesn't appeal to me. With doing cloth diapers I am balancing things out....right? I also have a swiffer vac upstairs so I don't have to carry it up and down. It's handy for use when I need it. I usually would never have two just about killed me to pay $30 for the first one. But when the battery started to die on the old one I moved it upstairs and bought a new one for the bigger downstairs.

The other change to help in this area is a 6 weeks on, one week off schooling schedule. The 7th week will be for major cleaning and organization projects. No matter how organized I am I tend to not maintain it. By 6 weeks it all needs doing again. I plan to have Journey do a novel study that week and fun stuff with Isaac. I am sure Eli will follow me around and try to undo all the order I am creating that week.

I am sticking to cleaning my kitchen, floors, bathrooms and keeping up on the laundry as the weekly priorities. The 7th week will be for deeper stuff like under the kitchen sink where the trash goes....yuck! This doesn't include the meals and general tidy which is daily as well. Being in a small house makes general tidy a must. The kids play room really is the living room so organization of toys is key to survival. I have evolved from scheduling my cleaning to having a list of what needs done in a reasonsable amount of time and doing as the moment presents itself. For example, when Eli is in the bath I can clean the toilet next to him and the counter as well. I have a pattern of swiffering the upstairs hall right after putting my morning load of laundry in the machine. Journey and Isaac also have a chore chart and do many of these task once a week themselves.

So the keys for me this year are:

  • Being organized in each room for the cleaning (paper towels and spray bottles)
  • Staying on top of the laundry (a momentous task for me)
  • Cleaning when the moment presents itself
  • Sticking to the priorities and not getting caught up doing other cleaning (that time is coming)
  • Continue to train my daughter and son in helping around the house.

Just a little picture of the mighty mobile mess maker of the family.

You can't put anything down with out risk and he is a huge threat to my book collection right now :o)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Priorities and Plans.

I am working on getting our routines and rhythm's down for the fall. I have accepted there is no way to get it ALL done when the kids are home all day. Over the past year or so I have struggled with the Ideal vs. the Reality. I had a notion of what I wanted the schooling, homemaking, and service at church to look like and it hasn't really ever looked like that. I have finally come to place of accepting what is right in front of me instead of wishing for what it "should" be like. There is much peace in my heart over this and in my home :o)

This has in part contributed to not planning like a fiend this year and getting all my "ducks" in a row. I don't have ducks anyway, who by instinct follow their mother in cute little lines. Rather I have three very distinct, different and unique kids. I've always had this idea that order would fix all the problems. It is certainly a tool to get from one place to another but not the be all and end all. I am discovering the real "fixer" is in paying attention to the relationship (w/Him and them) and being at peace in each day as it comes. If peace comes from skipping math that day, so be it. I can't skip math everyday but stopping to get to the root of that lack of peace solves the real issues. I would tend to push through and finish. But finish at what cost?

So I look to the priorities this year and not the plan though it serves it's purpose. My hope is to see all the "interruptions" to the plan as an opportunity to stick to the priorities.

Over the next few posts I am going to hash out some of the practical things I will be doing different this coming year.