Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 27: Is There a Way to Express This in Words?

You know that feeling when you take a deep breath, breathe out halfway but hold the air in your cheeks, then let it out like a balloon deflating? Uh huh. That is me. Right Now. Tomorrow is Friday. Next week is spring break. Need I say more?

This week we have only focused on finishing the reading for the quarter and math.  I can say with GREAT JOY that my boy has finished Math-U-See Epsilon with a 97% on the final test. I'll call that mastery! Especially since the one problem that he missed he knew the answer to and looked at me as if to say, "I can't believe I missed that, Mom," then told me the correct answer. His math confidence has increased dramatically. I'm so pleased.

Other than that I have two things on my mind...Spring break, and a question: How can I structure next year so that I do not reach this level of burn-out? Pondering...Stay tuned for the answer...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What do they Really Need? (God Knows!)

I've been following this thread for several days over at the Well-Trained Mind boards. The title of it is asking if people who consider themselves "classical" in their approach to educating their children think that STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) education and "Classical" education are compatible, or even able to be synchronous.

I have read the thread with great interest because I do struggle with this notion--how much do I need to emphasize math (which is a huge weakness of mine that I do not want my children to share), science (which I thoroughly enjoy but it also is not my "bent") and areas of technology so that my children are able to function, let alone compete in this new and strange world that we live in? The perspectives of the women there are very interesting, to say the least. In response to the issue, my position is that we do need to provide as deep of an exposure as we can to all the disciplines. From this exposure, as well as by providing a solid foundation for the individual, we equip our children to specialize later.

Even so, the more I read the thread, the more anxious I became. The answers were intelligent, well-thought out, well-articulated, but I could not help slipping into that vein of comparison that is so damaging to a mother's soul. After someone displayed their child's schedule which included Latin, Greek and Spanish and essentially 7 days of school on some level I was thinking, "What about trampoline-jumping and playing make-believe?"

I had to just step back and take a deep breath and pray. I asked the Lord to show me in his Word what is truly important for my children. I opened my Bible randomly and in rapid reply from the Lord, my eyes immediately fell on this verse:
Proverbs 24:3
By wisdom a house is build,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
Just across the page I read,
Proverbs 23:12-18
Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Do not withhold discipline from a child...
My son if your heart is wise then my heart will be glad;
My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.
Do not let your heart envy sinners but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off. 
I enjoy the companionship and ideas of other mothers in my life who are pursuing the same goals with their children, but ultimately, my guidance MUST come from the Lord. In this season of looking ahead and making choices for the new school year, I will commit myself to this anew, and bless my children with the wisdom that God gives and the knowledge that he leads me to convey as he shows me their needs.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week 26 / 27: Spring Is Sprung!

My mom always used to say this funny rhyme when the weather changed from winter to spring:

"Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
Wonder where the birdies is?"

I, of course say the same thing to my kids when "spring is sprung" and boy howdy it has sprung early this year! As a result, this week has been a swarm of feelings about the fact that spring break was still two weeks away and a lot of foot-dragging on everyone's part about school work. The TOG quarter is winding down, with the unit celebration to be held next weekend, and one of the members of our group had a baby two days ago...It feels like a good time to change course a bit. Due to the need to just get some mental clarity, we did only the core subjects this week. We had already agreed as a group to skip TOG's Year 3 Unit 3 week 26 for the sake of timing with spring break and just cover the topics on our own as desired. So for my family, I enjoyed a little flexibility this week, a beautiful day out at the 100th Cherry Blossom Festival, and a day with Dad home to help with errands and household needs.

Matty completed lesson 29 in Math U See Epsilon--one week to go and we will be done with that book, just in time for spring break! Other than that, we did some reading and writing from Writing with Ease, Molly did some math and did a stellar job with her piano practice this week, but we didn't get a whole lot done otherwise. I have to be okay with that and accept it as part of the flow of life, as much as I could let it drive me crazy.

But the bottom line is that this time of year lends itself well to deviating from the routine of most of the school year. We'll get back to it after spring break, but for now we need to get some cleaning and gardening done!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease -- Health & Wellness --

I have known this for a while and have been making changes, but is it enough? It is why I genuinely distrust the medical community. I long for this information to become mainstream, common knowledge, and for doctors to treat in order for healthy people to stay healthy and for sick people to get well.

Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease -- Health & Wellness --

Friday, March 16, 2012

Week 25: Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Molly Loves Science. For me, however, it has been tough this year to wrap my head around using a new curriculum, balancing the changing needs of two advancing students, as well as commit to a full science curriculum which also includes experiments and notebooking. In the beginning of the year it just felt like too much to take on. We did some review work in the Apologia Zoology 2 book (Swimming Creatures) mainly because Molly was just desperate to do some science, but we didn't dig in deep. However, last week the curriculum that we decided on for next year's science arrived, and I felt incredibly inspired! I went downstairs, pulled out the Zoology 3 book, which we had not yet cracked open (except for reference) and started reading it out loud. Both kids were so hungry to hear more that I read two chapters in two days and had the kids complete a notebook page to go along with it.

Today we did our first experiment (Ch. 2 of Zoology 3)! It was a test to determine if humans (vs. dogs) rely more on their sense of smell than what they see. I made two bowls of lemon jell-o, and dyed one of them red with food coloring. Both kids were convinced...I MEAN CONVINCED, that the flavor they were smelling was lemon in one bowl and strawberry or cherry in the other. Even after tasting it they were convinced. When I told them and they then smelled and tasted it, they said, "OH, Yeah!!!" but the point was proven. Humans rely more on vision than smell (of course we already knew that, but it was fun to prove it scientifically). "That was a good one, Mom!" was their commentary on the experiment.

The other highlight of the week has been our read-aloud in Tapestry of Grace, Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule. This is another book the kids have not wanted me to put down, and as a result we are ahead with the reading.

We did math and grammar and writing, as usual. Matty is soaring since his 100% score on last Friday's math test, and this has carried over into this week's work. He seems much more confident and willing to work through difficulty since then. It seems that he realizes now that he really can do this, and is willing to give it his best effort.

We neglected our memory work and reports and costume-sewing (for which I will pay dearly this weekend). But honestly, when the weather turns to 75 degrees with a perfect light breeze and bluebirds and blooming trees, it is very difficult to do anything but stay outside with our feet propped, enjoying the wonderful books we have to read! Viva la Spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jell-O and Drano: It's That Kind of Day

The weather outside for March is astonishing. It is 80 degrees today! The trees are budding early, bluebirds are taking up residence in my yard, the peepers are screaming their lungs out in the evenings, and the kids and I have done school at the deck table for three days straight. In bare feet. Beautiful.

But this morning we kept smelling something strange around the house. It smelled kind of like a cat had had an "accident" but not really. Every once in a while we'd just get a whiff of it and so all three of us were walking around in this confused state sniffing like dogs, trying to zero in on the smell. Couldn't find it. Then I was standing right in the middle of the smell (GEE WHIZ...WHAT IS THAT?!) I looked down on the floor and there was this weird little worm (which I now realize was a small black millipede). Matty got closer to it and nearly gagged. It was the "worm" that was making all that smell, so we removed him to the out of doors. YUCK!

So the day was going normally along after that and I made lunch for the kids, cleaned it up and ran some things down the garbage disposal. Nothing major, but the sink clogged up badly. I tried to run it one more time, just to see if it might help and the full side of the sink exploded  upwards like a fountain of puke, all over the counters and floor. It looked just as I have described...YUCK!

This all happened just after I had discussed the idea of inviting some of their friends over to play for a couple hours, so I called the mom and invited, telling her that I'd be there shortly, but I needed to run to the store very quickly for some Jell-O for tomorrow's science experiment, and some Drain-O to fix this blasted sink problem, at least so I could prepare dinner (which has to be done early tonight, as I have to go out at 6:00 p.m.) I left my boy at home to finish his reading, thinking I'd be gone a total of about 15 minutes. I got to the store having forgotten my cell phone, and as soon as we arrived my dear daughter informed me that she has to go to the potty. Now. (sigh) Okay, back we go (at least it was clean) and she says, "Uh, oh...this is going to be a while." She was right--it did take a while. We were m.i.a. in Bloom with no way to let my boy know that we were going to be longer than expected. Finally we emerged from the rest room, grabbed the Drano, then went to the checkout to pay. I reached in my purse only to discover that I had left my wallet at home. AARRGGHH! I left, the only mission having been accomplished was taking my daughter to the bathroom.

We left the store and went to pick up the playmates, and my poor son had called wondering if I had made it there or not. My sink is still clogged and I don't know what I'm making for dinner. I'm thinking Subway...