Sunday, November 20, 2011

16 Weeks Complete!

So we're speedin' chuggin' trudging right along with our school work around here and I just realized that we have carved quite a little chunk out of our total school year! 180 days doesn't seem that bad until you start counting them out ....or missing them for this or that illness or event. But I really wanted to see what it would be like to take the entire month of December off, so we started in July (too hot for the kids to enjoy playing anyway & we aren't beach peeps) and have managed to get 75 days finished so far.  How do our days go around here?

As usual, I haven't managed to keep up with photojournaling my brood but I'll share what I've got.  In our earlier school days we were able to study the creatures in our backyard as well as my new flowers (I swapped out my veggie garden knowing that the baby would keep from it). It was a fun place to read outloud, bird watch or practice some ball skills as well.

But most days now Jefferson is the first to get up around 7 o'clock (I am still slacking off in the a.m. and 'blaming' it on the Baby even though she sleeps well through the night for us) and get started. He walks the dog and then starts his Bible reading and study - this year we've gone with the Sonlight plan. It works but isn't the most motivating for him.  I haven't yet figured out if that's just a curriculum issue or more of a heart issue. Or possibly the fact that he does it on his own and I'm not in discussion with him about what he's learning as I used to be.  :-/  Hmmmm....might need to rethink that & get us all back into a family sit down study/read instead.
(Daddy leads home church some Sundays)
But I usual...

Baby & breakfast keeps us from starting much else until 9a.m. but at least Jefferson can still get a little independent reading or vocabulary or grammar done while Reagan can get her phonics finished before then.  Granted, that's all on a 'good' day where no one is cranky, sleeping in, or ignoring my pleading to "put that dog down and get started so we don't have to be all day at this!"

If (and this is a BIG 'if') I can manage to get the little boys somewhat quietly occupied and the Baby sitting on the floor (she loves to cry after me to see if I'll just sit with her instead of heading to the table to teach), then we work on math and spelling.  It's the only combo that I can manage to multitask - calling out a word & sentence for Reagan while I help with geometry for Jefferson (his lessons are done independently with this program).  This is his 5th grade year and he's finally come to the place in math where he meets frustration weekly and I'm struggling to teach him to perservere and read through twice when things aren't 5-second simple (as they almost always were in arithmetic).  This is where he frequently speaks out of turn at me in his impatience with himself and me. In return he receives my montra "This is not about finishing your checklist. This is about learning so please slow down & try again!"  I think I should tatoo it on my forehead so don't become hoarse - lol!

Reagan's response to spelling has been quite positive considering this is the first year that I am teaching it formally to her. At first she would get upset if she missed a word, but we have gotten into a pattern that works for her. I 'say-spell-say' the word after using it in a sentence and then she traces it with her finger in order to study.  We do this for however many days we need to until I see that she's ready to write the words at which point she will do them on paper. If we've studied them, she almost always get the paper 'test' correct and then she feels great about herself! It's always such a blessing when we find something that works for her, even if it takes more times for me to integrate into our day.
(Reagan working on her Early Explorer's lapbook)
(Archimedes science experiment with Adam)
(Jefferson beating me at Scra*bble - a.k.a spelling practice)
Usually by 10:30 in the morning I am just starting to feel like we are getting somewhere (IF I've gotten the meal planning done the evening before, otherwise that totally clutters the morning. Ugh.) when someone somewhere ends up screamingyellingstompingthrowingdying about some ridiculous thing. My first thought is usually "Please, please settle down so I don't have to kill anyone!" and then they push my thoughts on to "Alright - find me the duct tape & the padded room so I can just get these lessons done!"

Ahhh, the joys of toddlers!  Don't fret - I don't have a padded room or duct tape - lol!

Math is next for me to work with Reagan while Jefferson works on more independent work, such as his dvd spelling lesson, a composition revision, spanish, latin or piano. I always hope that her math lesson will be short & sweet so that I can get Jefferson's Institute for Excellence in Writing lesson finished before lunch. It's rare that she gets hung up on something - the Right Start Math program just seems to lay things out in small, manageable pieces allowing for plenty of practice. Our biggest problem with this subject for her is that the doggone noise level in the house has usually reached ear-splitting decibels by then which is VERY difficult for her auditory processing ability. I used to be able to toss those other little people outside but more often they are getting exiled to the basement play area for this lesson. There just is no sitting & playing quietly at the table with those two!  :-/

At some point in the late morning I try to slap a lunch meal together. It's always boring and always light and almost always late. *sigh* I've gotta start planning better so I've got leftovers ready cuz once that Baby is down at 11:30 I don't want to be bothered with food -I just want to get some more lessons finshed while I still have the energy! On MWF, this hour is when I try to stuff in some phonics and/or math and/or penmanship and/or reading for Adam (who has usually been begging me all morning to 'do kindergarden').  I LOVE his enthusiasm and have finally learned (what is this - my 6th year?) to go with the flow & just photocopy something for him to do to feel included in whatever topic the 5th & 3rd grader may be working on. For example, he hasn't a clue when the ancient Greeks lived but had a ton of fun coloring in their buildings, warships, and all of their gods/godesses and slapping them into his own handmade lapbook (along with Spiderman and Woody of course) for him to enjoy 'reading' later. His creativity makes me happy (and it keeps him from bugging the other noisy boy in our house - lol!)! It's so nice to see his personality through his tablework!
(Working on his science project)
Well, if you've read this far I assume you're tired already.  Well, so am I by this point in a typical day!! My energy has been slow to return after the lastest baby and my poor diet doesn't help me to get through the days well. Lincoln STILL is waking us 1 to 3 times many nights each week.  That combined with my body's reaction to sugar & junk (my go-to stress food!!!) does not bode well for the character development of my children. I carry much guilt in this area because if there's one thing I can do to help my kids and to love them, it's to keep my own self healthy & rested so that I can be joyful and patient with them. A day at a time, I guess. I am learning to choose sleep and Plan*et Fitness over chocolate - but only slowly - lol!

Anyhoooo... I don't even know the real point of this post since I'm just kind of meandering around my own thoughts here. Day in the life kinda thing I guess....

After lunch, I feed the Baby Boo (this is the name that has stuck around here as well as Boo Bear - so silly but very sticky) and try not fall asleep in the chair as I do. My montra at this point in the day is usually, "Someone get on that piano NOW!  Jefferson, get outta that computer chair!  Boys stop killing each other!" all from upstairs to down. BabyBoo won't eat well if I sit downstairs with her and so the house goes to chaos while I let myeslf rest & try to enjoy my little bit of time with the cozy warm smiling baby. Thankfully, my older two kiddos also substitute as my coffee baristas and bring me my afternoon 'kick-in-the-rear' (cuz 2:30 always seems to drag on my eyelids)!
(Jefferson w/ his piano teacher - Ms. Laura)

3:00 is when I drag myself back into focus and we work on a couple more lessons. Most days we have history books for me to read aloud to them as well as either a science lesson, art lesson, or intro. to music lesson. We're using Apologia Zoology - Flying Creatures this year and have only just finished the section on birds (thus the ornithology science display for Reagan at the science fair). We are finding it pretty cool to learn to be amateur birders! We've visited Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve and I'll post later on our field trip to John James Audubon's Mill Grove house.

I've been pushing pretty hard to stay focused this year because I want a long Christmas break. The baby sure does change the dynamic - really defines what it means to 'juggle'!  But for as much as I make sarcastic comments about trying to sell this or that child on e*bay, I know that the grass is not greener anywhere else.  I love this job. I LOVE my kiddos. I love teaching them and cooking for them and being here with them everyday ....even if it IS a noisy and messy and sometimes frustrating task!