Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Still Here

So much is going on right now. I hope to post an update soon.

We are in the process of getting Isaac's therapy program up and running, doing school, long hours for my husband, building in our church family, battling a nasty cold and trying to keep the basics around here clean.

I am fighting hard to keep reading aloud to my kids and enjoying those everyday moments. Like when I hear........ "Mom come look!"

I am trying hard to go and live in the land of  YES, YES and YES.

That's about all the time of have right now folks.

Time for YES...means less time for this.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Classic Isaac

A little back story. We have recently moved to using a rectangular mat for discipline and calming Isaac down. He has to stay on the mat for the number of years he is old.

Driving to a friends house for a play date.....

"Mom how long before we get there"

"About 30 minutes buddy"

Insert pause


"Yes bud"

"Thirty minutes is three tens"

"That's right"

Insert pause


"Yeah bud"

"Thirty minutes is three ten minutes"

"Great thinkin' big guy"

Insert pause

"Mom, will you put me on the mat for thirty minutes when I am 30 years old?"

Insert pause

"Mom, why are you laughing so hard?"

"Son, when you are thirty years old you won't still be living with mama"

"Oh, good then I can get my snake!"

If you are interested in more of Isaac's antics go here, here and here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Things I'm Pondering

"Real encouragement is more about sightedness than it is about explanation. When I talk about sightedness, I am not talking about physical eyes, but the eyes of the heart. God has given us the capacity to "see" unseen spiritual realities that are as real and vital as any physical thing we can see or touch. Spiritual sightedness is a precious gift and essential life skill. The reason we get overwhelmed and discouraged in relationships (in any situation) is not because we don't understand what is going on. We are discouraged because we don't see Christ."

"Encouragement is not just about making people feel and think better; it's about stimulating spiritual imagination. Encouragement gives struggling people the eye to see an unseen Christ. He is the only reliable hope when  the call of relationship has taken me way beyond my own wisdom, strength, and character. As we live with each other in the middle of the already and the not yet, we need more then elevated emotion and accurate understanding. We need eyes to see this one amazing reality: that we are Christ's and he is ours. We need to see that it is spiritually impossible for us to ever be alone. His amazing resources of grace are constantly at our disposal."

Relationships A Mess Worth Making
Tim Lane and Paul Tripp

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

His First Encounter.....

With markers!

He appropriately got his first set of Pip-squeaks to start off the learning year.

(Hes, the high chair is back to it's original shine...gotta love washable)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Language Arts 2010-11

I have always combined Charlotte Mason (CM) and Classical together. It has always been a good fit for us. Last year we drifted from that due to life being crazy and I am so looking forward to getting back on track.

For reading, I have used Ruth Beechick's 3R's. Introducing sounds from the beginning while reading and slowly putting two sounds together etc. Journey did so well. We used copy work and dictation. I never used a "curriculum" with her for language except Explode the Code. We used First Language Lessons as a gentle intro to grammar. She did not do her first year of formal grammar till last year  where we used R&S grade 4 grammar. This year (grade 5) is our first year to do any formal writing. Up till now it has been read, read and more reading. We are using Writing tales 2. I love how it takes a fairy tale and teaches the grammar and structure of writing and in the end she will rewrite it in her own words. We are really enjoying ourselves so far.

I love the gentle approach of CM and teaching reading from living books but I quickly discovered that a linear concrete thinker like my son Isaac needed more structure. There truly is no one way to teach every child. There are principles to create the framework but each one is so different. We tried SO many different things....Ruth Beechick, Living Books, Phonics Pathways, Explode the Code and others. What finally worked for us has been All About Spelling (AAS) and these readers by Nora Gaydos. I do know he was picking up things as we used each of those different resources but AAS just clicked for him. He can move when he does it, there are individual tiles and cards to show we are moving onto to the next thing. This boy who was struggling to read can now tell you all the sounds of  all the vowels and Y has four sounds alone for goodness sake. He read four little books yesterday on his own with no prompting or bribes. Confession order to get him to read I had to give a marshmallow for each sentence. Can ya tell I was desperate. :o). And to add I was fine with him being a later reader but AAS just turned the lights on for him. He even has begun to tolerate copywork and dictation now. Which was a huge no-no before. I still don't understand why they call it a spelling program. I plan to use it with Eli when the time comes, I like it that much!

Isaac also loves the Nora Gaydos readers. They are funny and the graphics are so great. Very boy friendly unlike some young readers. They have incentive stickers which he loves. His goal is to but his name, date and a sticker in every one of those books indicating he has read it.

We are using Handwriting Without Tears for both Journey and Isaac. She is doing cursive and he is doing printing. Once again simple copy work was too overwhelming for him. He needed the little stories and rhymes and creative ways of viewing the letters. Isaac has developed sound effects for many of his letters. It totally helps him remember where to start and what direction to go. Our favorite is stinky "m'. If you have space in the middle of your lowercase "m" then it turns into stinky trash. Nobody likes stinky trash. His "m" don't stink! My other favorite is how lower case K says "hye-yah" like a karate kick. There is never a doubt when he is writing a "k" Great stuff! I never thought I would use curriculum for this but really our true job as mom/teachers is not the method but getting through to our kids and opening the world of learning however that happens.

Isaac has gone back to one page of Explode The Code a day to learn the skill of independent work. And we have slowly started First Language lessons this year too.

One other resource I want to share is called Reading Eggs. It is an online reading program that has worked wonders for Isaac. It is completely independent which is good for him and it just builds little by little with rewards built in. Isaac is very visual and it has been a means to use that gift to our advantage. I was one who said I would never use the computer to teach reading....eating crow here!

We will be reading and reading aloud all year. We are reading The Year of Miss Agnes right now and will move on to this series after that. You can get the first book in the series for free by going to Inheritance Publications and scrolling down the page.

That wraps up LA in our house this year.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Buckets or Fire

I been trying to create a big post with all the resources we are using this year. It ain't happened!

I have about 15 minutes let's see how far we get.

First I wanted to share the newest home education book I am reading. Real Learning has been on my "to read" list for some time. After reading the first chapter I can see the spark it's going to create. The author is Catholic so there are references to that but it is resource able to be used by all.

A quote I read tonight:

Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.   William Butler Yeats

I can't seem to get away from this. How many times do I simply fill the bucket?

How many times do I check of my list and call that a day of learning?

Systematic is not bad BUT learning comes in SO many different ways. I want to see learning in these moments not just seeing it in the paperwork.

I am on a mission to get some of THAT ground back. Learning through curiosity, exploration, ideas and unscripted moments. Like for example the 20 minute discussion when my daughter took Mr. Virgil M. Hillyer to task over his description of beginning times. There are a few places in A Child's History of the World that are sketchy in my opinion and my daughters. It was so interesting to hear her thoughts on all she's read about evolution and creation. We need to chat more. Given the right setting she has lots to say. There was more value in that conversation then any book report or worksheet.

I had plans to go into a new reading/spelling program we started two weeks ago but my 15 minutes are up.

I type slow or maybe it's that I think slow. :o)

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Go here to read the awesome story of how God has placed an abandoned disabled little boy in his forever home. I just started bawling when I read that the judge said...YES!

I can't stop thinking about how this little boy didn't even know he needed rescuing because it's all he has ever known. Rob and Julia relentlessly pursued Aaron with their resources, time and energy in order to love and care for him.

Who has done the same thing for us? When we didn't even know we needed saving HE died for us!

Adoption is an amazing thing!

Thank you for praying.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Little Aaron

Please read this post and pray with me today for little Aaron and his forever family. The big court date is tomorrow.

Oh Lord, please bring them all home together!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Kicking Off A New Learning Year

(Just a random cute picture of my baby boy)

Today was the official start to our new 2010-11 learning year. We learn all the time but we are back to more structure. routine and systematic learning. I am excited about this year for many reasons.

The day started off with breakfast out as a family. This is a tradition we have kept since we started homeschooling 5 years ago. Even in the very lean years I started saving up well in advance. The kids look forward to this tradition every year.

After breakfast we head home for our treasure hunt. I wrap all their new school supplies and hide them around the house. I am waiting for my now 10 year old to think this is to "kiddy" but she still loves it. We then organize our notebook and decorate with stickers etc.

Each year I include a new book for each child. This year I gave Journey PollyAnna and PollyAnna Grows Up by Eleanor Porter. I gave Eli a Virginia Lee Burton's Mike Mulligan and More. Isaac was given Make Way For McCloskey. I love his stories, the drawings and just the warmth in his writing. You know it is a good book when you love to read it, look at it and simply just have it in your lap :o) We spent a good part of our morning reading together.

We did a math lesson. Spent time drawing while reading A Child's History of the World aloud. Then went to Google Earth to locate some of the places we read about. I cannot recommend Google Earth enough.

It was a good day.