Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 4 In Review



Wow, we are really groovin' here!  It's been a really good week, since I dropped a couple of things last week and am retooling for my kindergarten gal.  They enjoyed another week of gymnastics, which is their newest passion and did very well in their school work.  They also got to pick the ONLY apple from our baby apple tree (which is one of two...the other one didn't produce this year)

Matty's love for history and his enjoyment of making lapbooks has really culminated in a good effort from him this week.  I am discovering that as long as we are talking history, he will read, write and stay on task and not really think he's doing school.  (mwahahaha!) Science, however, is another story.  Because the weight of our interest tips the scales in favor of history, it's just, well...tough...to get around to science...for both of us.  There's always tomorrow, right?  And both kids are still getting something of science from CC's memory work and weekly experiments.  I'm planning to pick up Astronomy here in the next few weeks.

I have to say I loved this week.  It was low-key...the days are getting shorter and we all seem to want to stay snuggled down in bed a little later.  It's a natural thing...I don't think I'm going to fight it.  I want my kids to be rested as well as educated, not dragging through life feeling like they are being rushed from one thing to the next.  Today, for instance, they got up at about 7:30 and saw that it was pouring rain out, so they got dressed, did their chores and at 8:15 were outside riding their scooters, getting soaked.  Weirdos.  Happy weirdos.  We started school around 9:15.  Somewhere in there they dried off, but they took care of that themselves.  I was still drinking my coffee, so I wouldn't have noticed if they were dripping on the oriental rug.

Otherwise we did what needed to get done and then some.  I didn't get enough cooking done, but oh well...we didn't starve.  God made deli meat for a reason, right?  It was the first week of the school year in which I had the luxury of doing the fun stuff, and in that learned that the essential stuff (like writing and spelling) has a miraculous way of flowing from that.  When a 9-year-old writes 9 small summaries of the lives of the great kings of the middle ages, and hardly notices because he's so interested in what he's doing, I can't help but think that "school" is happening.  I'll take it.  Sooner or later the 5-year-old will get the "click" for reading...I'm not going to worry, but I will do a happy dance when it happens.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Concentration

Photos by Aimee Gable...Thanks!

Raising Men Who Read

I love this article by the Wall Street Journal about raising boys who read.  Thankfully, my son is becoming a bibliophile and is learning the love of reading, but I think that the average boy is a disaster waiting to happen in this regard.  Their natural love of visual stimuli combined with the bombardment of electronic media places them at a huge disadvantage in this society.  Girls are succumbing, as well, but the problem is more pronounced in boys.  If the men of future generations are robbed of their ability to think because they've been fed brain-candy all their lives, we are in great peril. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 4 in Review

My friend who is a seasoned homeschool mom of three, one graduated said to me this week--"You never get it figured out, Kelly."
Me--"That is NOT what I wanted to hear."

I have not figured this thing out yet, I know that for sure, but this week I think that I rested just a bit in the fact that I will not ever get it all just right.  By setting goals for the week and simply relaxing, allowing myself to be imperfect and by working more in a moment by moment manner, I found that we actually did quite a lot of school.  Not all that I would have liked, but a lot nonetheless. 

The main task at hand this week is to retool the reading lessons for Molly.  With our small infrastructure breakdown in which we both discovered that our reading curriculum had to go, I have been trying a few new things.  I borrowed some Pathway readers from a friend, and she seems to like these so far.  I also just pulled out Bob books and Hop on Pop and silly things like that, and worked together on phonics and sounds.  Hang it all--do I really need a curriculum to teach my kid to read??? I'm not so sure I do, but I couldn't help but feel a bit out of sorts without a guaranteed-to-make-your-kid-a-genius reader.  Okay, I admit, it was worse than a bit...

When I was a kid I carried around this old blanket that I called my "godden." I loved this blanket, and remember the trauma I felt when it was once left behind in the grocery store, and then another time when I forgot it for the weekend at my father's house and returned to find that my mother had hidden it away so that I couldn't carry it anymore.  It was devastating.  I TRULY relate to Linus in Peanuts when he is separated from his blanket.

I think some of us moms start to feel that way when we are separated from the crutch of curriculum.  Upon ditching the book that we both really hated, I immediately had a feeling not unlike the D.T.'s (or at least what I imagine they'd be like!)  Then today I found myself with my dear little girl, making up a story on the white board about a brown cow who walked into town wearing a gown.  We were both giggling and picturing this scene...and she learned what ow stands for in these cases.  I had no guidebook, no teacher's resource, no reader in front of us...and we were both thrilled.  So, I'm not actually sure if I am going to replace that blasted book.  I think I may just trust my instincts and go with the flow on this one.  She's five for pity's sake.  I need to lighten up.

Don't get me wrong...there are many really, really good curricula out there, and I have benefited from many.  However, Mom's lesson this week is that I really need to learn to trust my instincts and be responsive to how my child learns best.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lapbooks


This final photo is not technically a lap-book because we did not create mini-books.  Rather it was a report about Charlemagne's family tree that he presented to his Classical Conversations class.  We used the same concepts as the lap-book to create it, however, and it turned out really well.

Wordless Wednesday: Things That Came In that Should Have Stayed Out

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week in Review: Week 3

It was a really good week, full of steady and solid school work from both children, but best of all, as we settled into the routine of lessons every day, they were more and more cheerful about what they had to do...and then came Thursday.

Thursday started innocently enough and then we started running a little behind.  Once again it was lunchtime and we were just finishing the essentials (math and language) and I had sent Molly to her room once and had nearly lost it over her reading lesson.  Then I realized...something was wrong.  Today was the first day all year that we had not started the day with prayer and Bible.  So we started over...but unfortunately the damage was done and everything felt just a bit out of whack.

But I learned something valuable--the week was good up until today, but it was held together by a fragile thread.  I was trying to get way more done in a day than was humanly possible.  I have discovered that I don't like certain curricula that we have until now really enjoyed...it's time to PITCH, even if it did cost me money to buy it.  When my kids' eyes glaze over and they resist me to the point of hairs being removed from either their heads or my own (just kidding of course)...it's time to give it up.  So we are chucking in a couple of things and I now will begin the search to replace them.  I have also FINALLY learned to start with what we love.  When my husband got home late from work today (6:00) and Matty and I were only just finishing his project on Charlemagne (which he has wanted to work on all week)...I realized that there had to be a simpler solution.  Knocking out his current grammar program (which will get replaced later by CC's Essentials) and focusing on the CC memory work, as well as his weekly presentation, will more than round out our studies and will eliminate the fragmented feel of lessons.

I realized that the fragile thread was my weird little "let's play school" Utopian concept of how the week should go.  Somehow when I was a girl and played school, my dolls and playmates were far more cooperative--Until they wanted to be the teacher. The dolls didn't say much and the playmates were terrible teachers.  Don't you get it?  I'm the teacher!  Sit there and do it the way I say and we'll all be happy.

Sorry, Lord...I forgot that you're the one in control and my children are unique creations that don't always fit with what my ideal student should be.  How about if we work on that next week and do what is best for them and not for me?  Just guide me each day and let me know.  I'll have my ears on...amen.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And He was Off...

Today at church we had a big event--the installation of our new rector.  We live very close to the church, so we allowed Matty to ride his bike there on his own, and we rode on in the car.  At the reception, Matty came up to us and asked if he could go with his buddy to a festival at the nearby national park where his friend's father works.  I said sure, but he should change his shirt...a few minutes later he said, "bye, Mom!" and jumped on his bike, rode home, got into the house using the garage code, changed his shirt and went off with his friends in their car.  He didn't need me for anything.  We crossed paths with him briefly as they were backing out of the driveway, and I noted that his clothes even matched.  He didn't even kiss me goodbye...

And so it goes... I wouldn't want it any other way, but I could never guess how strange it would feel.

Proverbs 3:1-4
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Week 2 In Review

Okay, so week 2 was a bit of a do-over...but not really.  Even though I had a bad cold, the first week did manage to grease the axles a little and get things moving.  We sort of hit the routine of getting math and piano and grammar and spelling stuff taken care of, then science and history after that, but it was a very short week.  We only have three days of regular lessons and then tomorrow (Friday) we start week 1 of Classical Conversations.  All of us are really looking forward to it.

But again I have to ask myself what I learned, as I reflect back on the week.  I remembered this week that I truly love educating my own children at home.  The big event of the week was the incredible marvel we witnessed when we watched the transformation of two monarch chrysalises from green to transparent and then hatch two gorgeous butterflies who yesterday began their miraculous migration from Virginia to Mexico.  I am still shaking my head in awe about it.  I shared every moment of this discovery with my children, and we got to talk together about how strange and amazing this small creature is.  I can see my son beginning to hear the voice of God in the small things, in the things created by His hand that cause us to stand in awe and wonder.  I also learned that no matter what we get accomplished each day, as long as we have started at the right place--that being God's Word, all else pales by comparison.  "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (III John 4)."  We have had wonderful discussions each day and I can see in the kids a spirit of wisdom and discernment already beginning to flourish.  They think well about the Word and its implications for their lives.  They love the study of the truth.  They desire it every day.  Praise God.  We didn't get a lot of history done this week, but we dug deep and feasted on the Word and praised God for his works.

Next week I hope to do more of that, and a bit of history and science, as well...if the Lord wills!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First Day Back to School, Take 2

Two weeks ago we attempted a start back to the school routine.  Then a cold decided to blaze through the family and leave us all pretty miserable.  The kids in the neighborhood who wanted to play were more than available.  There were many distractions and let's just say that last week we took it easier, deciding to hit the books again today, the day after Labor day, which is when all the public schools started.

The Lord has a way of keeping me humble, no matter what.  I have to confess that I had a sneaking suspicion that August 23 was not the day to begin school.  I can't really explain why I knew that, I just did somehow.  Even so, perfectionist, overachieving me wanted a jump start on the school year.  Why?  I guess I don't have a great answer for that.  Today was a great day to begin.  It was the day the Lord ordained for me to really have things squared away and settled, and the results were satisfying.  I have been walking this walk long enough to know the voice of the Lord.  I knew that the 23rd was not going to work, but I insisted.  If I had listened to the still, small voice, I could have rested better through that cold, saved myself the trouble, and begun when the Lord said.  That takes time...listening and talking and resting in what he speaks to my heart.  Why I continue to second-guess it I can't really understand.  

Anyway, it was a much better start.  To begin with, I could breathe.  That's always good.  Secondly, my children's appetites were whetted and they were ready to jump in and tackle their work.  I was really proud of their efforts.  It's a short week this week, and then Friday we go back to Classical Conversations

Tomorrow I'll have the kids draw their annual self-portraits--always fun. Perhaps I'll post the results.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Who Moved Her Cheese?

God must have known that I needed a good laugh...
Yesterday my daughter and I went shopping at the commissary.  Before leaving, I handed her a snack of two cheese sticks and a snack bag of wheat thins.  In the car, she ate one cheese stick and all of the wheat thins.  When we returned to the car after our marathon shopping session, I found the second cheese stick melted and mushy in the plastic in the very hot car.

Last night at 2:35 a.m., my daughter appeared by our bed, concerned. 
Molly - "Mommy?"
Me - "Huh?  uh...huh?  what's wrong, Molly?"
Molly - "What happened to my other cheese stick?"
Me - "What?--can we talk about this in the morning?"
Molly - "Mommy....what HAPPENED TO IT?  I was going to eeeeaaaaat  it!" (now sobbing)
Me - "uh, Molly...please can we talk about this tomorrow?
Molly - "can i sleep with you?  Please tell me what happened!  Please! Mommy, what happened?

A few minutes later she was softly sobbing and saying, "what happened to it?" but drifting off to sleep between us, and I woke this morning with elbows and hair poking and tickling me in various places and a smile on my face.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Are You Mumbling or am I Going Deaf?

If you are a mom you can relate to this--you have a head full of stuff you're thinking about and your child begins speaking something to you out of the blue that is utterly incomprehensible.  Anyway, it seems to be happening a lot to me lately.  Here are some recent misunderstandings that have resulted in a wonderful belly-laugh.
 
What I heard:
"Did you know there are rare legos dipped in coffee?"
What he actually said:
"Did you know there are rare legos that are Egyptian coffins?"

What I heard:
"I couldn't hear you because I was playing in the meadow."
What he actually said:
"I couldn't hear you because of the clinking of the metal."

What I heard:
"Have you seen my barfing dog?"
What he actually said:
"Have you seen my barking dog?"

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

On Holiness

Sept. 1, Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest:  "We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life.  We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness."

I Peter 1:15 "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, 'Be holy for I am holy.'"

Hebrews 12:14 "make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

Is this true?  That without holiness no one will see the Lord?  Though I have read these verses countless times, I am standing in awe and humility in this moment.  Who is holy but the Lord?  But He calls us to be holy--to share in that impossible state!  He calls us to be purified through the cross of Christ and to walk in the holiness of that calling.  Through the fulfillment of that call He is glorified.

May it be that I can reflect His glory today in some way and share in his holiness...

Wordless Wednesday: Morning Companions