Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I decided to take time to take stock of our progress since we are halfway through the year. It turns out that we are 2 weeks behind (overall) where I'd planned for us to be at this point. One week given the Lincoln's hospital trip/stress and one to Jefferson's sprain/dh back sprain. This is not too bad were it not for having to take off FOUR weeks last Oct/Nov for Lincoln's birth. Note to self: plan babies to arrive in the summer! *tehehe* (B.t.w. - there are no more "plans" for babies so I guess that shoots that note!) Furthurmore, we somehow ended up 4 weeks behind in math as well as science! Science we didn't even start until after the baby came, but how we got so far behind in math, I have no idea. But I guess that's the beauty of homeschooling, huh? I am trying to keep my perspective as I start to plan for 2nd grade and starting Reagan in Kindergarten (officially w/ daily lessons). I will NOT let the enemy convince me that I am not doing enough or that I'm failing my children is things don't go perfectly - we live under the grace of God!
We've gone as far as we can in Phonics Pathways and Jefferson is now reading reader levels 2 and 3. I am pleased but am not sure I should have given up the Christ Centered Curriculum that we used last year. I have been looking at it recently as I think about where to begin Reagan and I am seeing (hindsight is so clear, huh?) that it would have covered phonics, penmanship, grammar, and spelling (not to mention copywork and great spiritual lessons). I think that I just didn't have a good enough concept of the classical model of homeschooling to realize that this would fit well into our trivium plans.
So for now, we are reviewing lessons from Spelling Workout A on which I think Jefferson needs reinforcement (these take him not even 5 minutes since he can now read) and also doing the workbook portion of CCC B:1 of the same phonics/spelling rule (this takes us 10 minutes). I'm still not sure if we will be continuing on into SWB - I just haven't liked it so much.
For 2nd grade, I may look into something like Adventures in Phonics from Christian Liberty Press or possibly Association of Christian Schools International's (ACSI) Spelling Workbooks (on the CCC website - I usually like their recommendations but this isn't looking like my first choice) ,or A Reason for Spelling, Level B, but I'm not yet sure. Any comments would be appreciated!
I've tried reading 'The Children's Homer' to Jefferson but I'm struggling to motivate myself since it is so difficult for him to follow. It was the same thing with 'Jason and the Argonouts' but he ended up learning a great deal even though I had to stop every page to explain what was happening. Even I can hardly keep all those gods, goddesses, names, and creatures straight! I'm thinking that we'll skip this for something that will be easier for him to grasp at this point, especially since he got a good dose of ancient greece (with lots of vocabulary and coloring activities) when we read 'Jason' while waiting for our SOTW to arrive in September.
Right now dh is reading him 'Prince Caspian' - as I'm sure many kids are reading in preparation for the next C.S.Lewis movie in May! He is so excited and is counting down the chapters (as if that will make the movie arrive sooner!).
Still moving steadily through FLL. Soooo glad to finally move from nouns to pronouns! And Jefferson was glad to realize what he has learned so far. His memory work is good but I think I need a new method to keep the pieces/verses in front of us so that we can remember to recite them more often. I'm thinking of using an index card system since that's what we'll be using for our Bible verses (from Charlotte Mason memory verse list). Still haven't implemented the use of the MP3 player that we have.... want to though. He really like technogadgets like his geeky daddy!
Also - got the 'Language Lessons for the Very Young' (by Sandi Queen) in the mail. We may or may not use this for 2nd grade. I like pictures and the subject matter but I'm still thinking this choice over.
Just got 2 new copywork books in the mail from Queen Homeschool Supplies. They are consumable and strangely formatted (just ask Jessica at Trivium!) but I will have Jefferson use his own lined paper. This way I'm not scrambling for copywork each week and I can use them again in the future. Jefferson likes this type of work because he finds it easy - that seems to encourage him! He is also copying from History Scribe and FLL each week.
According to my plan for the year, we are FOUR weeks behind in math. Maybe I didn't schedule it right, but I'm not concerned since I have plenty of time left in May and June to complete this year's book. Jefferson is completing lessons on time and with good comprehension - I've only had to repeat 2 lessons so far. Again, we are probably behind others at this point but I am seeing that he is understanding concepts and building a good foundation. He also says that it's his favorite subject! I do a little 'Yippee!' dance when I hear this, as I always struggled in this area and really want him to enjoy it.
Moving along, even if behind, in SOTW 1. Jefferson likes the topics but doesn't seem to like the narration. I'm wondering if I'm approaching narration incorrectly if he doesn't like it or if it's just something that he needs more practice doing so that it's not as difficult for him?
Pretty much decided to use Tapestry of Grace next year. I'm getting excited to buy it now that I've settled on it! I figure that with four kids, I'll want to teach them all at the same time and I'll enjoy the flexibility it offers in how deep we dealve. I LOVE the biblical aspect of it and feel like it will make history have more continuity for us. As I look at the samples and website, I've found so many reasons to use it!
Still no timeline started! Yikes! I really need to do this since I know that Jefferson learned so well from visuals. I think that his timeline book will be something that he is proud of as he builds onto it. Just got to get it started before we get too far along here!
We briefly discussed Butterflies and Moths this week. So many nice ones to look at! We have the butterfly habitat but I told Jefferson we'd have to wait for spring to do it. I'll post his narration sheet later. We are behind here since I didn't get this subject planned out until October anyway. Not too concerned though.
As far as 2nd grade, I haven't thought about a plan yet. Maybe I'll skip around your blogs to see what you all thought worked best. Let you know.
And so, if you are still alive and breathing after all that, I'm thankful if I ever see you at this site again! The reports are lengthy but they give me a good feel for what we've accomplished. And I'm hoping that the links will be informative for others who are searching around for similar info. No time to post pics this week - I barely got this typed up. Maybe I'll liven it up with some pics later (in all my free time - *snortsnort*!)....
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Some great news for DH and I - this past week was our 6-week weigh-in for our 'diet.' We have been holding each other accountable and trying to use the Prism program (roughly) that I used to lose baby weight from Adam. It requires that we take out all white sugar/white flour. The 1st phase also excludes bread, white potatoes, snack foods (ie torilla chips, popcorn). We journaled our every bite for three weeks (or should I say "I" journaled since I do the food prep) b4 getting too overwhelmed with the kids' allergen-free food journaling to keep up with ours. But holding each other accountable has really helped me to make better choices and keep from cheating! We are not counting calories (since I'm nursing and dh finds it to be too tedious) and didn't feel like we were losing any weight! I was nervous that if dh didn't see results, he wouldn't want to continue and I can't tell you how many times I've prayed that he would take steps toward better nutrition!
So here are our awesome results! Remember this is only through taking out ALL white sugar and white flour, bread, and potatoes, not calorie counting or starving:
Wow - were we thrilled! I couldn't believe that he even beat me when I've got nursing to help. I was so thankful for a bit of good news in this emotional week! I know that even through all the temptation and true physical cravings/addiction, God wants us to succeed in becoming better stewards of these bodies and has been by our side these 6 weeks!
So now we have to dig in and keep on keeping on through the 2nd phase! The first weeks always produce the biggest loss, so I plan on staying away from the bread even longer than the program requires (since I know that it's a huge weakness for me). And I need to find ways to encourage dh to start excercising so that he can continue steadily toward his goal (40 to 50 more lbs). I also need to start using pilates at least 3 days a week to deal with what I call the 'baby jiggles' left from Lincoln's pregnancy and continue toward my goal of 15 more lbs (I could be happy with 10 but refuse to buy new clothes!)
We are so excited! If any of you are struggling in this area, drop me a comment! You too can make a change toward better stewardship of the only body the Lord has given you!
Friday, February 15, 2008
Here's how this happens for me:
- I stay up too late trying to play catch up (my favorite game!)
- I sleep an hour too late in the morn.
- I don't have time to shower or make my own breakfast (this makes me crabby).
- I don't have time to listen to God speak to me in His Word - I can barely read through the blurry eyes.
- I am snappy at dh and kids since I already feel 'behind' (not to mention my grumbly tummy, lack-of-caffeine headache, and pajamas)
- One little lesson after another gets skipped as I scramble to get a few more things done (that I could have done with the extra hour I slept through!).
- Kids pick up on my body language and start picking at each other.
- By 11:00am nothing much is done and I still have to load everyone up for the appointment du jour!
This week started with the sprain and included a haircut for a screaming 2-year old (anxiety issues recently), 2 dr appointments and a visit from old friends. When you add 2-day preschool for Reagan, dance class, snow and food prep, I knew that this week wasn't going to be fruitful for school. Notice no grocery trip - I just couldn't do it!
As much as I like getting things checked off, I will say that at least we got 3 math lessons and a couple of spelling lessons in, along with lots of reading. I didn't work with Reagan on her phonics, due to all the behavioral issues we are having with she and her little brother. It has truly been an emotional week, even without school, due mostly to Reagan and Adam's behavior and my sleepiness (rather than actual busyness). I would explain further, but my head is cloudy even now. The weekend offers no rest - only lots of food prep so that the kids are able to attend a birthday party, and enjoy another social visit.
I am hoping that next week my foot (as well as Jefferson's) will not slow me down (who knew having a few warts removed could hurt so stinkin' much!) and that Adam will not be so clingy and irritable. I am trying to keep my perspective - when Jefferson is 18, he will not be held back by missing a week of 1st grade! It just goes against every grain of my list-checking, schedule-adhering personality to let life get in the way of our schooling.
But remembering priorities should help this next week:
- Go to bed 1-2 hours earlier EVERY night.
- Get up earlier (so I can shower, eat, and have some quiet time).
- Concentrate on God's Word - spend more time in prayer each morning.
- Focus on the children - not the checklist, appointments, lessons or other busyness. Behavior is usually a symptom which needs time, attention, and love. This is more important than phonics!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
So much for karate class! He's only been going for two weeks and already they're beatin' him up! (No, seriously - he's just not the most coordinated kiddo and managed to sprain an ankle when turning) Poor kid was just trying to keep up with the black belts!
Monday, February 11, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Slow week for us. This tends to be one of the first things to go if I can tell we will be having a rough day or if we're all just moving like snails. I think that's because I'm still not sure what kind of progress we're making here. I know that last year in K when we were using Christ Centered Curriculum, I felt like Jefferson was getting the spelling as he learned the phonics rules. The program seemed to train his ear very well.
This year we started with Spelling Workout A before he could read well (my bad) and struggled through it. And even with that I'm not sure what he learned from it. For the past 4 weeks I've been just going over spelling rules that I think need to be reinforced. And just this week I decided to begin again in the middle of SWA (lesson 20 a_e) again since he can now read and likes the format better than just copywork/lists.
We'll see how this goes for another couple of weeks. If he seems to be remembering what he learned the first time or is bored, I may just move him on through. Or I'm even considering using some of the CCC curriculum I have left from last year since it covered a lot of ground and worked so well.
I am just so excited about how well Jefferson is doing with his reading! I have moved him into longer 'I Can Read' books which are divided into small 'chapters.' Anything by Syd Hoff, Dr. Suess, the likes. He is no longer intimidated by too many words on a page and has finally started to use his finger to help keep his eyes on the words. They take him about 20 montues to read and he can get between 2 and 4 read each day. I just have to keep up with him by getting enough from the library! He's already read everything in the house. My favorite is this - Reagan and/or Adam sitting down to listen to him read! And if you know my boy, there is nothing that motivates him more than 'knowing' something that his younger siblings don't! And I'm starting to see how this will make homeschooling easier in the future - he can now read and complete his SWA on his own!
However, I must admit that I have been quite lax in reading TO him for a certain amount each day. I just have been falling asleep recently when reading out loud (uhhhh, too many late nights in the bloggosphere maybe?)! We are starting The Children's Homer next week so that will keep me on task here. He will make sure it gets read since he so enjoyed Jason and the Argonouts a few months ago.
Again, not Jefferson's favorite subject. I have not been doing a good job of reinforceing the rules that he's learning as we go. Which is another reason that I really liked CCC - the phonics rules were reinforced with spelling and worksheets. I'm discovering that he learns like I do - remembering by writing things down or working with something physical. We are almost finished with Phonics Pathways so again, maybe I should just head back to CCC to finish out this year for phonics and spelling? I'll go 2 more weeks and then we'll see.
This is still just penmanship practice mostly - no dictation or writinge his own narration yet. But I have to remind myself that every time Jefferson copies something, he is learning about the subject at hand, grammar, and narration skills as well. This week copywork was from History Scribe and First Language Lessons.
We are working in First Langauge Lessons on understanding the different types of nouns. This week we talked about the months of the year, a new rhyme, and 'ideas.' Next week we move on to pronouns - finally! Will this book ever go anywhere? He liked drawing pictures of nouns and also circling common and proper nouns in a sentence. We'll see how far we get by the end of April before I look for something else.
I am so glad that this is one of Jefferson's favorite subjects! I think AL Right Start was the right choice for him. Using the manipulatives has been very good for teaching him multiple ways of looking at numbers so that he will have a good handle on them when the concepts get harder. We started skip counting this week. Using the abacus helps him to 'see' the numbers in his head. We also worked with calandars this week and almost have all 12 memorized.
However, I found myself frustrated when he at one point wasn't able to understand what I was asking. I didn't know how to rephrase or help him understand the train of thought I was trying to teach. He is doing well because the curriculum fits him but I wonder how I'm going to reach him later since I am not so great at math myself (yeah, yeah my degree was in engineering but that doesn't mean my math skills are great or are still intact or that I know how to teach it). At one point I gave him 5, double digit numbers to add on the abacas which I added myself incorrectly twice before just doing it on the abacas myself! This is only 1st grade people! But I was pleased to hear Reagan's comment after watching us use the abacas that it "looks like fun!"
This week we moved to the traveling ancient Phoenicians. I had Reagan color the Phoenician ship page also (she always adds extra scribbles around the entire page) and they both made 'glass' by melting crayon shavings between wax paper. I think she really likes being involved with the lesson even if she has no comprehension of history yet. We also discussed why the Phoenician ship in SOTW looked like the Ancient Greeks ships that we learned about at the beginning of the year. From the reference book we have which is about Greek warships, I am inclined to think that SOTW used the wrong pic! Good lesson for Jefferson about historical accuracy though. History scribe provided copywork and a little more info also.
This week we studied grasshoppers. These are great little insects for a 1st grader to learn about since he sees so many of them in the warm seasons. Last summer we caught and observed a few and took that time to look up information online about what they ate and how they grew. This was great reinforcement and he liked getting online again. Again, Reagan loves to participate also!
I actually got all the copies and lessons I needed for the week done at the beginning of the week! This really helped me reduce stress and has been my goal even though I haven't yet become consistent with this habit. What a difference it makes! Next year I intend on having lessons planned and copied out by month or more (thanks Koinonia Academy for this idea!). In my life, the more organized, the less stressed I am (ok family members - you can stop snorting with laughter and rolling your eyes! Yes - I am my father's daughter)!
Until next Friday!
I just didn't realize when I began blogging that it would take such a hold of me and that I would be doing it for a while or would have others reading it. I just want to make sure that no weirdos take an interest in my kids. We all know that one can never be too safe when it comes to our little blessings!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
(This was after two nights in the woods! Poor fella! It took 4 days of Benadryl to get him back to normal)
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Reagan (4): "Ohhhh, Daddy!! Mommy made you a pie! You are going to give Mommy tooooo much love!"
(Yes - dh hubby was pleased with THAT idea for sure! Hubba, hubba!)
Reagan - praying b4 eating her unattractive lunch options: "Dear Jesus, please get me out of this scratching so I don't have to be on this special diet anymore. AAAAmen!"
(I wish she weren't allergic to so many foods either! Strange to hear her use the word 'diet' at this age. I think that her friends at pre-k got to have ice cream today.)
And Jefferson (6) wants to know what everything means these days!
J:" What does 'gel' mean?"
Me: "It's stuff that you put in your hair to hold the shape."
J:"No, I mean what does the word 'gel' mean? Daddy says that a trashcan is called "trashcan" because it is a can that holds trash. So what does 'gel' mean?"
(Okay - we're only in 1st grade and he's already asking me things I can't answer!)
Oh the laughs that they bring with just a few innocent words! Join Not Before 7 for more!
Saturday, February 2, 2008
I don't know where you fall on this topic, but about 2 years ago the Lord started me on a journey to healthier treatment of my body. He led me through a weightloss program (Prism Weightloss Program - so awesome with an accountability group) in which I lost 25 lbs (ok, ok it was 24 lbs - but doesn't 25 make a nicer number?) and learned how to eat a balanced diet of whole foods (no sugar, no white flour, very few processed foods and hydrogenated oils). After that I found a nutritionist to help me use a few supplements (cod liver oil, probiotics, etc.) as I prepared my body vitamin/mineral stores for a 4th pregnancy.
I hadn't felt so great in a long time! The 1st trimester of the 4th pregnancy was the best of the 4, with no morning sickness. I had felt terrible with the others. By this point I knew for sure that good nutrition really does make a difference!
So this is when I realized that my 2 kids' ezcema was probably due to food allergies (or sensitivities really - these are different than immediate response food allergies like you see with peanuts). Adam's legs were scratched raw and Reagan also scratched scabs all over. It just broke my heart to see them so uncomfortable! Not to mention the irritability that seems to prevail in each of them. From the time he was 11 months old, Adam started getting every virus that came around and was seemingly unable to fight them off in a normal amount of time. With my awesome family doc's advise, I just recently had their blood tested for IgG and IgA antibodies (ELISA test through Immuno Labs, FL) so that we could eliminate the underlying cause of the skin problems rather than destroying the skin's defense ability by over-using hyrdocortisones and other steroids. I had seen through years of steroid use on my own psoriasis, no healing from it. Yet after 4 weeks on a wheat-free diet, I observed marked improvement. I highly recommend this lab since they offer online support (questions, meal planning, recipes) and a guarantee that you will see improved health if you follow their plan (3 parts as I talk about below). I have read that ELISA testing is more accurate than other types of allergy testing also. Does anyone have more info on this?
So here we are at the beginning of this attempt to heal my kids' skin (and possibly other issues)by changing their diet. Am I totally sure that it will work? No. But will it hurt them to take away foods that their bodies consider toxic? I don't think so.
What a task this process has been! Just ask anyone I know and they will tell you that they have heard enough from me already about this issue!
First we have to eliminate ALL foods which elicited an antibody response in the kids' blood.
For Adam, we are eliminating:
- cow dairy & cheese
- goat milk
- cow dairy & cheese
- kidney bean
- brewer's yeast
- baker's yeast
Reagan cannot have the foods in purple while Adam cannot have the foods in yellow!
Do you see how insane this is? Most gluten-free baking uses a combo of various flours in order to get a nice texture. I only have the option of one, possibly two flours to use as well as having to skip the eggs. Oy! So far, I just have play with the recipes to figure out how to get the best flavor and texture. And if you know me, you know that's just plain silly! I'm the type a baker (not 'cook' - that I can almost do) who needs the recipe to tell me exactly when to stir and for how long! Add to this the fact that I can't afford to feed everyone in the family this way and so I am cooking, baking, vacuum sealing and freezing indiviual servings. ("How do you have time to blog?" you ask. Well, there's always time for that! I just have to break my 4th new year's resolution to do it! Lol!)
So far the foods that are allowed are quite limited and neither child likes them very much (a lot of fish). Adam is also not responding very well to any fruits - very loose daipers the next day if he eats more than 1/4 C. So we're really down to meats and veggies with a few grains for him. Reagan has a few more options but is more finicky than he. Again I say, oy!
Thankfully, the final part of this process is reintroducing some of the less reactive foods (after 90 days) at a very slow rate. So by adding options later, we will be able to make daily food prep at least a little easier. I've also heard that they might grow out of many of these sensitivities, so we intend to re-test them in a year or two.
I know that this seems difficult to me now, but I can see from the where I've come, that God has put me on this path with His provision. He has guided me each step of the way so that when it came time to get so detailed in the kids' diets, He knew I could handle it. I am also thankful for all the encouragement and information that I can find in the bloggy world of SAH and homeschooling moms! For anyone that drops by and is struggling with similar issues, please feel free to leave a comment - your support, ideas, recipes are welcome!
Stay tuned for more on this topic. I have met enough bloggers with allergy or health issues that I would like to post info and gather comments. See you there!