Friday, December 7, 2012

15 Day Sprint to the Finish Line

Countdown to Christmas Break! A sprint to the finish line.
So, over the Thanksgiving weekend, the kids and I discussed how we would handle the relatively small amount of time until Christmas. As is the usual case, the days leading up to Thanksgiving week were getting more and more loose and we weren't exactly where we wanted to be in our subjects. [not that I feel you have to live by a schedule, but if you have Goals, you do need to work on them in order to accomplish them- so balance those 2 truths!]  We all agreed that we wanted to get further and end the 'semester' on a winning note.  So to that end, we decided what would be realistic goals for each subject  and what would be a realistic number of days until we took a break. [I, the mom, love the breaks almost more than the kids!]  We decided on 15 more days of  official 'school.'  We determined that Cordell ought to finish out the current math book, reach list Q-5 in SWR, complete the current SoTW book, stay current in Latin, adding in vocabulary work, and memorizing his Sneetch Duo for our Speak Out.  Melodie would get 15 sides of math and 8 drills in, reach Q-3 [or catch up to her brother if desired], complete the current SoTW book, stay current in Latin, adding in vocab. and Memorize the Sneetch Duo for our Speak Out. I also added working w/ their younger sister as a goal. [either phonogram game or reading a book] and 1 hour of recreational reading per day and piano practice as those things were being neglected too.  They just tested into new TKD belts, which was also a goal. It is Nice to have 1 goal checked off early on.  So, to help us all stayed focused,  I made up a grid and wrote each day's goals on it for each child.  They are to check them off as they do them.   In practical terms, I am only homeschooling 2 students- so that's all that is listed here. But I am also including the pre-schooler on the 15 day 'sprint to the finish.'    And you could say the 15yr is on the same sprint as his community college classes and his co-op class are also winding down- all to be done by the 18th.  That is also our Speak Out night and so with that last deadline, we can truly start our Winter Break.  Just in time for parties, visiting siblings and all kinds of other good things!

Since Christmas [or any holiday/birthdyay] can be a distraction to the regular routine, I try to find ways to combine them.  I came up with a way to use our Christmas Train to encourage phonogram work with the preschooler. You never know if kids will cooperate with your fantastic ideas, but thankfully this time, she agreed it was neat.  The game worked like this: I held up a phonogram card, which she was to 'read'. If she read it. [and of course, I helped if needed] the card could have a ride on the train.  She was the conductor and in control. Always a plus.  She was to say 'Bye bye ____ [insert phonogram] and 'Hello ___' as it went around the tree.  We'll be doing this activity often while we have the set-up available. Who doesn't love to play train conductor and enjoy the Christmas scenery?
The phonogram gets a ride around our Christmas tree

Well, we still have other things going on too, with Tween parties, homeschool dinners, bake sales,  a field trip to the spy museum and of course, the Midnight Showing of the Hobbit. [for the teen group].

Add to all that- shopping, baking, decorating and cleaning,  it will be a great accomplishment to keep up with the schedule. But so far, with Cordell's help mostly, I am staying on track and it looks like we'll be able to reach our goals!

All I have to do now is come up with wrap up history activities to go with finishing the book, or for co-op; finishing a unit.  That's today's task, along with s'more cookie baking . . .and maybe some gingerbread if I can fit it in. . .

Thursday, October 4, 2012


This post is a  reminder to me when I forget:    My job is to work myself out of a job. 

'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' Jer. 29:11

A Friend recently recited this scripture and it immediately spoke to me in a specific way.  I felt God was saying, *I* have plans, not you.  I can relax, because I'm not the one that needs to own the plans of my children.   What a relief!

So, now I strive to sit back and enjoy my emerging adult children.  Smile more.  Have fun. 

It's kind of like helping butterflies open their wings. 
You shouldn't do it. 
They need to do it in their own time. You should just watch from the sidelines.   [Provide a safe environment, of course.] 

Knowing when to push or help and knowing when to step back: It's like playing Chicken! You can't really tell if you are right until the very last minute and it might be too late then!  So, what do we do?

Well, I've recently been concentrating on this corollary truth: 
The only person you can control is yourself. 

I am working on controlling myself, rather than focusing on other's behaviors.  Obviously, I still have to be the mom, but in the moment, the person I need to be controlling is ME.  As long as I'm doing that, then it's okay to stay and be the mom. If I'm not controlling myself, then I'm not being 'the mom' anyway, so time to take a break.  'Rinse and repeat' as the saying goes. 

Two resources that have been helpful:

Both are saying basically the same thing, just in a different way.  These are not primarily 'parents' advice' than they are lifestyle changes.  Which is really the only true change, is it not? I appreciate the CC audio Cds because I can listen to them over and over- and some of us need more repetition. It has been very helpful. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Seasons are achangin'

It is definitely getting cooler around here. Especially at night.  I love the smell of the cool air.  Of course, the upcoming change in the season is a hot topic and prompted me to want to Do something with it.  I found a cool 4 Seasons lapbook, but nah, too much for now- we've already got some lapbooks going.  What I've been wanting for a long time is a HUGE tree that changes with the seasons.  So, finally I stayed up all night and got it ready so we could put it up today.   I taped some sheets of packing paper* together to draw the trunk. Then I cut it out.  Drew some freehand leaves on card stock as my templates, traced a page of them and photocopied them onto more sheets. [Do you remember the old days when we would have had to trace them all?, whew!]  The kids helped color the trunk and cut out the leaves. The youngest wanted apples on the tree, so she made some. . .  I ran over to the store and bought removable adhesive for the leaves, since we'll be taking them down for winter and putting up different ones in the spring.  We all worked on hanging them.  Some are 'falling.' The sign says, 'Leaves Fall in Autumn.'

The plan is for:

  • Autumn colored leaves for Fall
  • Snowflakes /snow for winter, [we're ever hopeful here on the Mason-dixon line] 
  • Pale green buds and flowers for spring 
  • Big dark Green leaves for summer- and maybe some bugs, lol. 

I hope to save the pieces [or we could add/replace] but the idea is to keep it going.
I will also add some info on the Seasons.  Tomorrow I hope to make a 'circle' of time. It's a paper plate of the 12 months, color coding the 4 seasons. Maybe I'll show it to you tomorrow.

oh, and Happy Constitution Day! [whoops, posting too late, well, belated then.]

*I love it when packages in the mail include packing paper! I keep mine in a large paper shopping bag. It's so useful to have big sheets of paper handy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Falling into Fall

Coastal Highway,  near Monterey, CA
I don't know where my summer went. I know I had 2 great trips this summer and a daughter moved out on her own, but somehow it still doesn't seem fair to say summer is over.  Summer is the usual time I re-organize and declutter my spaces.  I also love to plan.  [Planning is so much more fun than actually doing it all!]  Lucky for me, I've been at this for awhile so a lot of plans are already in my head. Still, it would have been nice to get the out of my head space prepped too.  Since we have our eldest visiting, I wanted to get a little head start on homeschooling, so that when she leaves it won't be the cold turkey back to reality that visitation usually causes.  So, jumping right in, we've gone ahead and started back to homeschooling on a light schedule, concentrating on math and SWR.   We also developed a new chore chart. We've had a lot of changes to the family dynamics recently so this was a big need!

My theme for the year?  The year of independence!  My two main students are 11.5 and 9.5 and have been homeschooled together since forever.  I have been feeling that its way past time they become more independent as well as work at their own pace with mom rather than stick together.  As usual, it depends on the subject. Things like History, Latin, Science, Bible are still done together [or individual assignment] but for Language Arts and Math they definitely need to go at their own pace now. And the High Schooler has started dual enrollment at the Community college. He does some work with Dad, but the only thing he does with me is ICC.

For the main 2 in Math, I have them doing their Saxon assessments first, before the work in front of it. If the assessment was 'easy', I had them skip to the next assessment.  Using that method, they did skip nearly half of the book. [one a little more, one a little less] Which I figured they needed to do. I probably could have skipped the book altogether and just went to the next one, but I was concerned about missing something.  . . and a little review won't hurt.

For SWR, we've started our logs. Did the first few references pages and the first list. [They both tested and started in the same list, but I am dictating separately to allow difference in speed/pacing].  They will have dictation 2 days a week and on the opposite days, while I'm working with their sibling, they'll have independent work to do.  Also, I need to remember to assign them phonogram games with their pre-schooling sister!  

I need to work in other subjects and figure out a schedule or assignment system.  I need to do it soon because I did decide to continue our little Latin co-op [and ADD history to it] with a friend of theirs. A teen teaches them the Latin. I'll do history discussion/crafts with them.  .  That starts at the end of September.  I had considered not doing any co-op and simply focus on our own family, but I know certain things will not get done without it.

I really hope to work with the preschooler too. I want to make sure she isn't left out. I've got to organize my material/plans so it will be easier to implement on a daily basis.  . .

The current high schooler is currently taking a music fundamentals class and a Geography class. [it was on the same day right after, so helped cut down on the driving time!] In October he'll add the Student Success class, also on the same day.    ICC chapter has started as well and he's one of their student leaders. Actually one reason why my personal plans were lacking; I spent a lot of time working on first semester chapter meeting plans instead.

One nice thing, theoretically, is I am no longer part of soccer. Dad takes the kids to the weekly practice and the weekly game. [all kids, same time/same place. love it]  This way, MOM gets to work on her papers, uninterrupted. I hope to be able to have 2x a week 'office hours' where I get all my paperwork done.  So far, I had to take the kids to soccer once and this past week I de-cluttered our mudroom rather than the school supplies! But eventually, I hope this will be the key to staying on top of many many things!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reading in a Tree

One day, it seemed like I had been gone a lot and then there was this gorgeously summer-like day and I was home. We just had to go to the park and spend some quality time together. Not on the playground, but have a picnic, hula hoop, or read our books in the fresh outdoors.  We found a nice accommodating evergreen. It was very much like the one just outside F. E. Warren's Base movie theater. I have very fond memories of playing in, around and on it as a child. Every child needs an evergreen fort. Something you can hide in, even while standing on the ground, under it's branches and something you can climb very easily because the branches start so low and are very numerous.  I was very surprised that my 4yo could climb the tree as easily as she did. And I even got up there just enough to take tree-loft pics on my phone.

We distracted each other to read much, but we tried. Then we all went to explore a set of storm drain tunnels. Running through them to the other side, exploring a bit, and then going back.  

It turned out to be a very nice day. 
And so, I did what I didn't want to do, post all at once. Well, I had the chance and that's just how it goes most of the time. ;)

RATS! I promised!

A Looong time ago, I promised more photos of our little caged puppies. er, rats.  . . The youngest named hers puppy and they are alot like little dogs.  They are social and friendly and pretty darn smart.  Ours are in a little bit of a slump right now as the humans dash about mostly ignoring them, but I think that will pass.  I wish I took more time to play with them and if I did, others would follow:

This is App, she is very curious. It was hard to take pictures because no one would keep still. They were too busy exploring the room. We frequently provide them with boxes, even cutting little holes or taping them together as mazes or tunnels, but this one just happened to be there. 

 They love fresh food. I believe they are eating snow peas here. We feed them fruit, veggies, store bought treats, and basic rat food.  They LOVE raw squash.  Occasionally, we give them a rare meat treat, but I don't think we've given them much sweats or grains.  This is Calmly and Puppy. Hermione is trying to squeeze in blurry. 

 Rats are good pets for young children. They are easy to hold, don't hurt easily and simply want to be near you! Our youngest is able to hold and carry her rats around. Supervised, of course. App just wants to get in her hair and whisper in her ear!

Because they are so tame it is not a problem to let them run around loose for a bit. They love to explore and hide. They will also hide food and chew on things- so watch your important papers or favorite blanket!.  When you are done, simply wait for them to run up to your lap or walk up to them, they don't really mind you, though they probably don't want to be locked up again. 
Afterward, you will want to sweep up after them. That's their only drawback. I've heard and seen the youtube video on 'potty training', but we don't have that skill here.

Ours are about 1.5 years old now.  My current teen did a research project on them for last year's homeschool science fair.

I have had their teeth trimmed it that vets. I need to check them again for that. Even though we give them things to chew, it's just not enough like the 'real world' to do the job right.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unmet goals, growth and new paths

Okay Dad, so I didn't really meet my homeschool goals for this past year, but hopefully I've experienced a lot of growth for myself.  I spent a lot of time working for volunteer organizations and spending some mom time.  My new path or goal is to really push the SWR for April and May.  We had a few really good days recently and with other activities winding down* soon, I'm hopeful for a strong dash to the finish line. 

SWR List O-2, my homophone 'art'
For this list I worked with Cordell and Melodie separately. It worked out really well. I was really able to give them each the attention they needed. The drawback: I spent so much more time at it!  I think I will have to swap days- rather than try to do them both on the same day.  Right now though, I am trying to get as far in the Lists of spelling words as possible since we missed so many days this year.  It probably doesn't really matter, but I just want to be close to our end of the year goal. 

Lillian is now joining us sometimes when we review the phonogram cards. To ensure we cover 'hers' first, I marked them with a red dot, that way she can wander away later and not miss them. So far, I have only introduced about 9 cards, the ones in her name and the 'clock face' letters. 

I have cut a corner off each card so they are easy to assemble 'right side up' I marked the toddler's with red circle dot stickers across the cut corner.
This is a phonogram review activity for the 4 year old. She is to match her cursive cards to the pocket of the bookface counterpart.  I taped the file folders together so it folds up accordion style for storage and stands up on it's own when in use.  She decorated the file folders a little and helped me assemble it, so it was like a lapbook project.  

*winding down, doesn't really look like it or the next few weeks because we are getting ready for a dance recital, poetry presentation [multiple times], curriculum fair, and a big birthday party! How we will get consistent seat work in during all the prep time needed, I wouldn't know.  Dreaming of a beach. . .

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Worthy to post?

I must make a confession. I have been waiting for something worthy to post. While it's true the holidays are always busy and I've had a whirlwind first couple of months in the new year- those aren't the only reasons I have not posted since November. . . Because of my busyness and going and going. . . the 'homeschool' that's been going on has not been easily recognizable and has certainly not been impressive. I kept thinking, 'I won't post yet, maybe tomorrow, or next tuesday we will do some awesome school thing and then I can blog about it!' I can't believe I've already fallen into that kind of thinking, but then again, yes I can believe it. Don't we worry about our portfolios*? Don't we only want to show the 'good stuff?' Don't we generally want to impress? And really, there's nothing wrong with that to a point; certainly we should put our best foot forward. You don't normally answer the door in pjs and bedhead hair; and you'd especially not want to answer the door that way when Publisher's Clearing House is bringing you a check. And I do believe in a certain level of privacy, I won't share every homeschool detail here, and I don't recommend it. But that's not what was in my head. What was in my head was thinking I needed something super fantastic to share or it wasn't worth blogging at all. [and I do think those little chick hatchings are hard to beat] But for a blog? . . this is different. This is suppose to be real-or at least more realistic. Blogging, is suppose to be a snapshot of daily life; More specifically, this blog is suppose to be a snapshot of day to day homeschooling.

*in our state, we must show 'thorough and regular instruction' through a portfolio review each year, usually its done simply in a 3 ring binder with subject tabs.