Thursday, August 23, 2007

Love letter

Dear King of Bookworms,

I've tried to call you several times to tell you that the dryer won't stop running unless the door is open, but the nice lady who answers says that your number has been disconnected.

Would you please look into this - the phone, that is, because since you aren't in the office today, it would be nice to know that I could contact you in a emergency or to remind you that Bookworm #2 and I need to be at Awanas at 6, so dinner will be at 5pm tonight - though I would like your permission to call The Appliance Guy about the dryer - the whole dryer problem frustrates me because six weeks ago, when the troublesome washer died and the wonderful, never-gives-us-a-problem dryer was dutifully spinning when asked and resting when it wasn't needed, we could have purchased the dryer to match the washer for $500 more than we paid for just the washer, and because we didn't, and now, if The Appliance Guy can't fix the dryer, we'll have to pay $800 for the same dryer we could have gotten for $500 six weeks ago - not that we had the $800 or the $500, but at least we wouldn't have to worry about the house burning down because someone forgot to leave the dryer OPEN. So, can I please pray that The Appliance Guy can fix the dryer cheaply (like under $100) and then call him to come fix it?

Of course, right now the dryer is supposed to be running because it is full of fluffy clean diapers. And then it can run for another 40 minutes to fluff up our nice clean clothes. It's a regular Fluff and Fold in our house today.

The sweet baby just smiled at me, and I know that you will still come home for dinner at 5pm in spite of this email (which is about to become, with your permission, a blog post that will cause moms to smile because they have been there and done that) and just knowing you'll come home makes me swoon.

I love you very, very much.

Queen of Bookworms

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So much to blog, so little time.....

OK - I don't really have time to post anything, but I wanted to make a list of things I'd like to write, and it makes sense to make it here.

1. #3 and the Italian cream cake
2. Photo updates
3. Summer reading update and Book reviews
4. Greek chicken recipe for Barbara
5. Basic school subject plan
6. Reviews of HOAC Little Miss Muffet, Katy and the Big Snow, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and Beginning Reading (gee, that's list in itself)
7. Review of Language Lessons for Little Ones from Queen Homeschool
8. several posts for the Flat Stanley project
9. The Oklahoma Unit

And since I'm writing, I'll tell you that #2 is very busy as usual, #3 is developing a naughty streak that is pretty darn cute - it's difficult not to laugh at him, but I try hard, and #4 is very sweet and getting big and getting grumpy because he's been laying in my lap as I type.

Here's #2 in a very appropriate shirt. (It says, "THIS is my secret identity.")

#3 signs adamantly, "More PLEASE" (with both hands) because he LIKES Italian Cream Cake even if it has more chemical ingredients in it than he is usually given.

And here are #2 and #3 making #4 smile. Isn't he a cutie! (By the way, he's sporting a Bumgenius one-size diaper - if you are wondering how the BG1 fits a 15 pound boy, rest assured that it fits pretty well.)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to Homeschool Part 5

LinkRandi at I have to say... is hosting Back to Homeschool week. She's put forth one question for each day this week.

Friday, August 10---Curriculum
What curriculum do you use? Where do you buy it? Have you found a "gem" that you must share with others? Was something in particular a complete failure for you and your kids?

We did My Father's World Kindergarten last year. It was fun, but I modified the language arts portion a LOT. The unit study part was wonderful, and we both enjoyed learning about different aspects of Creation. But I learned that it is better for my kiddo to have his basic separate from his unit study. He also did Singapore Early Bird Math 2A and 2B. Our waste-of-money for the year was the purchase of the first unit of Rod and Staff Language Arts for first grade. There was WAY too much workbook work for my kid. Might work for others, but didn't work for use at all.

This year we are using (very loosely) the Advanced Kindergarten Language Arts from Winter Promise with readers from both Winter Promise Adv K LA and Sonlight LA 1. Math is Horizons Math K. Both are working very nicely.

We are currently working on some lapbook units from our backlog of products from In the Hands of a Child. They are much enjoyed.

In two weeks or so we will start our unit study on geography and cultures. I've complied it from Galloping the Globe, Cantering the Country, Five in a Row, HomeschoolShare, and Sonlight Core C. We are using some notebooking products and lapbooking products to create a scrapbook of our journey. It should be fun.

Know what? I have to be up again in 5.5 hours. I need to go to bed!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back to Homeschool part 4

Randi at I have to say... is hosting Back to Homeschool week. She's put forth one question for each day this week.

Thursday, August 9---If I had only known...
What have you learned on your homeschooling journey? What would you/did you change? This is an opportunity to encourage others who are just starting out or who are struggling with issues that seem unsolvable. It is also a perfect opportunity to tell us about one of those days made you want to throw in the towel. A funny story? Perfect!

I know that by homeschooling, I'm doing what I am called to do for these children at this time. Now, if I'd know that #2 comes within 9/10's of an inch of being as stubborn as I am, I don't know that I would have started. Or I might have quit on Monday when it took 7 HOURS and 32 MINUTES for him to write the words fan, fill, and fat. As long as I'm a smidgen more stubborn than he is, it will be fine. For the record, for the 7.5 hours, he had NO privileges at all. Water. A basic lunch. Trips to the potty. A total of two hours sitting on his bed with no toys while I dealt with babies and couldn't make sure he was sitting at the table with his Language Arts for Little Ones workbook. No electricity. No nothing. That was a really hard seven hours for both of us. But, he does now know that any assignment is required. Every other day this week, he's finished all of his work in under thirty minutes thanks to a game called, "Beat the clock" in which he can win screen time. Now the work just magically gets done in a short time - or at least it has the past two days. We'll see if it happens again tomorrow.

I also didn't know that my mom wouldn't completely support the idea or that my mother-in-law would quietly but adamantly oppose it. Hopefully, their hearts will be turned towards homeschooling over the next couple of years. Because we do see them both several times a week, it will be easier if they are on board with the idea.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Back to Homeschool part 3

Randi at I have to say... is hosting Back to Homeschool week. She's put forth one question for each day this week.

Wednesday, August 8---Getting out there...
Extra-curricular activities, community involvement, volunteering, sports teams, music lessons, making sure your kids have opportunities to be social, co-ops, etc., etc., etc...

Like I said, I have little kids. We have friends, and in the past we've just hung out with them - playdates and park days and such. We go to THREE different churches during a week (sounds nuttier than it is). We go to StoryTime at the library, the grocery stores, the local parks, the zoo, and the aquarium. We spend so much time going that I have to be careful to get schoolwork done on a daily basis.

I haven't joined a homeschool group or a co-op yet, though we've been to the park with one local group, and we will probably go again. Other co-ops in this area are very formal, and at this point, we just need kids to play with at the park. After all, most social interactions can be taught there.

#2 is good at making friends and meeting people. He will go up to the lady at the bakery counter in the local SuperTarget and ask for cookies for he and his brother quite politely and actually share one of the two cookies with #3. He typically will talk to anybody - particularly about garage doors - he's a garage door connoisseur. We are working at home on things like personal space and appropriate conversation. Little brothers give lots of opportunity for how to treat people. I am reading Scott Turansky's book Saying Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids, so we have had many conversations about honor lately.

We also have family in town. Well, that might be an understatement. We have 65 relatives in this city. Sometimes that's good - at Thanksgiving, it can be overwhelming (just try eating Thanksgiving dinner three or four times in one day). Of the relatives, the two sets of grandparents are seen several times each week. There are large family gatherings every month. It gets a bit wild, but it presents many more social opportunities.

Overall, I want my children to treat people right - to honor others. Right now, as young as #2 is, I do my best to keep him with children from other families that teach similarly. As he grows, there will be plenty of time to meet people. Right now, sheltering him a bit isn't a bad thing. He's quite the social creature, so we haven't picked out a sport or an instrument for him yet, but it will come in time.

Back to Homeschool part 2

Randi at I have to say... is hosting Back to Homeschool week. She's put forth one question for each day this week.

Tuesday, August 7---How do you homeschool?
Scheduling, classical education, unschooling, getting the kids to help with chores, how to be "mom" and "teacher" at the same time, special needs, teaching an advanced child, how to teach the tough subjects, teaching high school, teaching with babies and preschoolers in the house, budgeting for homeschool supplies, notebooking, etc., etc., etc...

Hmmm. I answered most of these in this post. In general, we are pretty eclectic. In philosophy, I lean toward a Charlotte Mason/Classical education sort of thing. We read a LOT. Reading aloud is a part of every day in several sessions. It is great fun. The King and I have a great affection for the printed word, and we are passing that right along to our children. We have taught ourselves a lot of things by reading, and we want to pass that skill along as well.

How do I teach with babies? Well, it's a little easier for me than some because all mine are young. I do most of the teaching during naptime. Next year, when #3 is only taking one nap, it will be interesting. For right now, teaching during naptime works.

We play "Beat the Clock" a lot. #2 tries to get his seatwork down (neatly and accurately) before the timer beeps. I give him about twice the time I think he COULD do it in if he just sat and did it, but it is getting his schoolwork actually done in two 30 minute sessions instead of it taking two hours to get halfway done.

As for teaching an advanced for his age child, we just do the next thing. When he is ready to go on, we go on. When he needs to linger somewhere for a bit, we linger. When he decides that he wants to know more about..... we go look it up.

Back to Homeschool part 1

Randi at I have to say... is hosting Back to Homeschool week. She's put forth one question for each day this week. I'm already two days behind, so we'll see if I can catch up.

What led to your decision to homeschool?
Why do you do what you do? What brought you to homeschooling? What factors played a part in your decision?
Well, this could be a long story. Let me begin by saying that we feel called by God to homeschool. We firmly believe that this is His best for our family. That is the number one, largest, neon sign reason to teach our children at home. If this were not the number one reason, I would not pursue this very difficult task that requires so much sacrifice on my part.

The other reasons follow.

1. I have a hunk of an education degree. While I was doing my classroom observations, I had a good look at about 10 different classrooms in this state. I watched the smart kids get ignored, the not-so-smart ones get pampered, the average ones get bored, and the rowdy ones making everything difficult for everybody. The kids were overall nice to each other, but learning was difficult at best, and in some cases, teaching was nearly non-existent because so much time was spent on discipline. This was the same old environment - the one I'd grown up in - and if no one could have made changes in it by now, then I wouldn't be able to change it either, and I didn't want to put my kids into it. When I changed degree programs, my then-fiance-now-husband and I had a serious talk about how our children would be educated. We decided on private schools. That was when we thought we'd be DINKs for a few years before we had kids. Once we were married, we were pregnant in five months. Private schools? Who can afford that? It wasn't just the price - the situation isn't that much better at private schools.

2. As children, my husband and I both spend a lot of time at the head of the class and bored. We each had a constructive way of dealing with the boredom, but it was frustrating to have to wait for everybody else when we were ready to move on (different schools, same city). We live in the same area we were public-schooled in. In most cases, the public schools here have stunk and still stink. Systems are badly organized. All but the average kids are overlooked. No Child Left Behind actually made the problem worse instead of better.

3. When we were asked to put Bookworm#1 into the public school system to receive therapies after he aged out of the early childhood program for kids with special needs, we had all the meetings. We met all the people. It was got for about six months. I did not sign the medical release form that allowed them contact with our doctors without our knowledge or participation. Then someone from "The System" called the pediatrician's office we used and asked a doctor who had never seen #1 if he could come to school full-time instead of receiving therapy at home. The doctor apparently agreed to it, though we hadn't, and the large group of specialists hadn't. So, the school canceled all of our home therapy and said that if he wasn't in their building from 9am-3pm five days a week, they didn't have to do anything for him. The geneticist, cardiologist, and our regular, beloved pediatrician just about came unglued. And that is putting it lightly - The King and I were livid. We withdrew him from the system, and we definitely will not put any of our children into THIS sneaky public school system ever. Should they need to go to public school, we will move first.

4. Because we like to keep our children with us. We like them (most of the time) and we love them completely all of the time. We want to have a strong family - for our children to be close friends, and to enjoy each other. We want them to have lots of time for childhood, so we want to teach them at their own paces a little bit at a time and enjoy the years we have with them. We want to watch every step of their learning process and see the light bulbs coming on. We want them to learn to be themselves and to interact with all ages of people and to love all people. We want to teach them to love Jesus and to think and to reason and to love people and show Jesus to them. We want to teach them how to teach themselves and to love learning.

5. We are history and science buffs who want more time to learn - and it will be fun to study as a family.

Monday, August 6, 2007

On the Dinner Table...

Since a big part of successful dinner preparation is having a plan....

Sunday: Charlie's Chicken after church. No cooking. :)
Monday: Greek chicken, Zucchini and Yellow Squash, Brown Rice, Grapes
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan with Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Garlicky Spinach, other fruits and veggies that need eating
Wednesday: Tacos with Ground Beef, Cheese, Veggies and Whole Wheat Tortillas, fruit (Produce Shopping Day)
Thursday: Honey Dijon Chicken, broccoli, fruit, Pasta
Friday: Macaroni and cheese, smoked sausage, green beans, fruit
Saturday: Leftovers

Of course, there are variations on the above to accommodate the kids, but this is what my sweet hubby and I will be eating.

Maybe now that the baby fell asleep on me while I was typing the other two ornery bookworms will give me enough time to finish putting together the salad I was making for lunch and EAT it. I'm starving. I've been trying to get the salad eaten for over two hours. But I withstood the call of their lunch plates, gosh darn it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Homeschool Open House

Tiany is hosting the Homeschool Open House on her blog. You ought to check it out. Here's what our homeschool might look like in the coming year.

Welcome to our Backyard! The Bookworm King and I currently have three blessings living in our house, and one, our eldest, who lives with Jesus. We started reading about homeschooling when I was pregnant with our first, and we got serious with the research during our first experience with our local school district - which comes early when your oldest son is born medically fragile and developmentally delayed. It didn't take us long to discover that we didn't want anything to do with the public school system.

We actually started homeschooling during the past school year. #2 enjoyed My Father's World Kindergarten, and he learned a lot. He mastered reading CVC words and is continuing to progress with his reading. He completed Singapore Early Bird Math 2A and 2B. He CAN form all the letters of the alphabet correctly, but handwriting is very difficult for him. He enjoyed some lapbooking a la Hands of a Child, and we made an ABC book to go with MFW K. Overall, it was a good time.

This fall, we will be starting a K-5 year. He's working though Horizons Kindergarten Math, Explode the Code 1, 2 and 3, and Language Arts for Little Ones (finish volume two and start volume three). He'll be reading the Nora Gaydos readers and readers from Sonlight's LA 1.

For a unit study, we'll be taking a trip around the world, starting at our front door with a two week study of our great state of Oklahoma and then moving around the US by region before we really embark on a tour of the globe. We'll be reading on the region/country of the week and taking a look at a biography and a science topic having to do with that area. I hope it's fun. The goal is to expose him to basic geography and different customs and cultures and peoples and languages and foods. Overall, it's meant to be an introduction to all the people God created - last year we looked at world God created, this year we'll continue by looking at many of the different peoples that inhabit His creation. I've written the reading schedule based on Galloping the Globe, but we are not going to be using many of the suggested materials because they are, quite simply, over the head of a five-year-old. We will be using the Marvels of Creation series by Buddy Davis (informative books about animals from a creation-science view) and Children Just Like Me, but the other resources on my schedule come from either the book-lists in Galloping the Globe and Cantering the Country, Five in a Row, and Homeschool Share, Sonlight Core C (formerly Core K), or Winter Promise Animal Worlds or My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures.

Now, why would I do nutty thing like write my own reading list and schedule? That is pretty simple, actually. Three of these four programs are WAY beyond the abilities and desires of my kiddo, and in five years when we've made one time-traveling trip through history, I will probably return to geography as we add in two more students and then we will do either the MFW program or the Winter Promise programs. For now, I'm taking what will fit in with our lives and his abilities and moving on. We aren't looking for the details on this journey - just the basics and some exposure. And a program for a very curious five-year-old to circumvent the globe just doesn't exist yet.

Our days are very busy - with a five year old and two under two and a house to keep and meals to prepare, I am on the go from very early to semi-late every day. The only things that are seriously scheduled are rising times, bedtimes, and naptimes. Our routine looks somewhat like this:
5:00 am: the Queen rises, feeds the baby, meets with God, and heads over to the Y, drinking a breakfast smoothie on the way.
6:30 am: the King and the little bookworms get up, dress, empty the dishwasher, and make their breakfast (usually cheese omelets and something carb-y (toast or something from the freezer).
7:30 am: Breakfast. The Queen returns. The King gets his backpack, lunch, and gym bag packed and checks his email before heading out. (He'll be working out at lunch.)
8:00 am: The King leaves for work. The Queen takes over with the kids and starts laundry and the chores of the day.
9:00-11:00 am: Feeding baby. Naps for #3 and #4. Schoolwork for #2 (Language Arts and Math). Household chores
11:00 am - 2:00 pm: Any errands, outdoor play, playdates, field trips, or other travelling must be done at this time. If we are going to move to Gramma's house for the afternoon, we need to do it now. If there is nowhere to go, we just hang out, but with only three hours a day in which leaving the house is pleasant, there is usually somewhere to go.
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm: Feeding baby. Naps for #3 and #4. Schoolwork (unit study) and quiet time for #2 and I. I've also learned to cook dinner at this time.
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm: This is where things are REALLY crazy - Dinner needs to be finished. #2 is tired. #3 just got up and is VERY whiny. #4 woke up and is screaming hungry. Thank God for Clifford, who routinely cheers up #3 so that things don't totally fall apart.
6:00 pm: The King returns (Hallelujah! Didn't think I could hold things together a second longer) and we eat dinner.
7:00 pm: Showers and storytime for boys.
8:00 pm: Bedtime for kids
10:30 pm: Bedtime for the Queen
??:?? am: Bedtime for the King (this is improving - last week he was typically in bed by midnight).

And that, my friends, is what we think will be going on in our house for the next school year. We'll see how it goes and make changes as necessary.

If you'd like to know what's happening in other homeschools in the blogosphere, check out the links at Tiany's Open House.