Monday, April 30, 2007

New Ideas

I love it when I come up with new ways to
present or review "old" ideas in school!

We're reaching the end of the addition facts and I've been looking for ways to review them with Reilly, making sure that she really does have them down before we move on. We've played lots of "math hangman" on the whiteboard and done lots of worksheets, but we were both getting a little bit tired of those methods. So, on Friday, I got out two big bowls and put a set of blocks (2-9) in each of them. Reilly had to close her eyes, reach one hand into each bowl, and pull out a block with each hand. Then she set them on the table and wrote out the "problem" that she had pulled out and answered it. It's funny to me how changing something this simple can make the exercise seem so much more fun, because she really had a good time practicing this way!

Declan was sick Wednesday and Thursday of last week which made school seem a little frazzled. He was throwing up on Wednesday and had diarrhea on Thursday, so he spent most of those two days on the sofa watching movies. It was funny, on Thursday afternoon he said that he was actually kind of bored with watching movies. (I know, imagine that!) But then, later on that night, he told Troy that he didn't want to get better because he liked getting to watch T.V. all day long! Luckily nobody else caught the bug!

This week is SUPER EXCITING because my brother, the famous Uncle E, is coming to visit from St. Louis!!! Yippeeee! I know that we're going to go to Philbrook on one day and on another, we're driving to Bartlesville to see the Price Tower which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He'll actually get to be here on his birthday, which hasn't happened in years, so we're going to go out to eat at Osaka, which is one of those places where they cook at your table. Anyway, it's going to be a FUN week!! Yay!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Five and a Half More Weeks

Of what, you might ask...
well, 5.5 weeks of school, of course!!
Can you tell I'm counting?
OK, well, I'm not watching the clock or anything, but I did look at my calendar for the year and realized that we can be finished with school the Thursday after Memorial Day! Yippee!

Now, my intention is to continue with math through the summer, just so we can finish Math-U-See Alpha and start second grade in Beta. We're almost completely done with addition facts and will be moving onto subtraction facts here in a week or so and I think we can finish up without really feeling like we're having school in the summer. Although, Troy brings up a good point when he says that what else are we going to do when it's 110 degrees outside and nobody wants to set foot out the door? You might as well throw some school in there!

We had kind of a tough day today. I gave Reilly a math "test", simply so that I could see what, if anything, we needed to go back and review. For some reason, tests really freak her out sometimes. I don't know if I'm putting too much pressure on her (I really try hard not to) or if it's her perfectionist streak coming out, but, long story short, it didn't go over very well. She just tends to "freeze up" and can't remember things that I know she knows. I struggle with this because it seems necessary to give tests and yet I hate to put her through it when I know she gets so emotional about them. She hates to get things wrong, but I can't not mark the wrong problems wrong....ugh!

It's getting late and my brain stopped working. Tomorrow will be better!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ummmm Yeah Hi

Oops. I've not been blogging. Sorry.
I HAVE been schooling, lest you think that I'm letting every aspect of our life slip down the tubes. There may be a layer of dust 3 inches thick on every flat surface in the house and the laundry may be piled up so high that it's becoming a fire hazard, but school is getting done.

OK, well, for the MOST part school is getting done.

I promise that when Reilly is in middle school I won't let her watch "The Magic Schoolbus" and read out loud to me and then "call it school". I promise.

But this week my aunt and my cousin were in town just for two days and it's been sooooo long since they've been here that we had to go shopping with them. We're all trying to find things to wear to The Wedding of the Century in Houston (read: my cousin Preston's wedding) in a few weeks and I just couldn't pass up having 3 women to shop with and give fashion advice! I mean, Lesley is studying fasion at Kent State...who could pass up going shopping with someone who is in the know when it comes to fashion? Of course, she's 21 years old, so we have slightly different tastes when it comes to what is "cute", but I think that just comes with the territory of me Getting Older. *sigh* But I'll save that rant for a post at my other blog, since this is supposed to be my homeschooling blog!

But we're back on track for school, really. Today we're going to a sheep farm with our co-op...the second field trip we've ever taken with them, so it should be interesting. The zoo was a little hectic, but I think that's because it wasn't really "planned". We just met there and then wandered in a big group. This is actually a tour of the farm, led by the people who run the farm, so I think it'll be more organized. We're going to leave this co-op next year anyway and join another one that I'm SUPER excited about...but I'll write about that co-op later. Right now The Kids are clamoring for breakfast! (What's with this needing to eat all the time? Sheesh!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Need to be Rich

Subtitled: A Trip to The School Store

Well, I've just flat decided that I need to be rich. I was out "running amok"* with my mom yesterday and we went to one of those teacher stores...The Learning Tree? The Apple Tree? The Learning Apple? I can't remember...

Anyway, for those of you who may not have been in one, it was one of the stores where teachers can go to buy anything and everything under the sun that you might need for a classroom - a bajillion and one curriculum books, bulletin board sets, posters, games, story books, toys for preschool, planning books, and little gadgety things that I'm not sure what they do but I'm SURE I need one to be a good teacher. I could go on and on and on. It's like a candy store for a teacher or homeschooler! I could literally have spent HOURS and hours in there, perusing all of the aisles and, with an unlimited budget...well, let's not even go there.
*sighs dreamily*
And to make it even better - the icing on the cake - they had a PLAY AREA for The Kids, so I was able to walk around and look at things STRESS FREE! No constantly saying, "Stop touching that! Please put that down. No, we're not buying that. Stop touching your sister/brother. Blah, blah, blah..."

---- At this point, I should probably say two things. One, the store was very small, so I didn't feel like The Kids were in danger by them not being within my site at all times. It's not as though I was in a Home Depot in the garden section while I went off to test nail guns. Also, call me naive, but I kind of figured there weren't a whole lot of child predators lurking around The Teacher Store at 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon! ----

So, now my plan is to win the lottery or Powerball and spend the whole $580 million at The Apple Tree. (Of course I'll have to start actually playing these things first....)

I did find some neat things, although only one of them actually came from that store. I got a little dry erase board for Declan that has writing practice lines on it - the two solid lines with a dotted line in the middle? Like a Big Chief tablet? I'm not sure he's actually ready to begin writing, but I think The Store had some kind of power over me that wouldn't allow me to NOT buy something! No, just kidding...maybe.
At a different store, I got a couple of new workbooks for Reilly. We've been working in this Map Skills workbook all year, which has taught how to read a simple map and what a map key is used for, what a compass rose is and how you use it to see direction on a map, and things like that. It's always been one of her favorite things to do, and I love it because it puts so many skills together in one exercise (without her realizing it!), but we finished it last week. So I was looking for something to take its place and finish out the school year and decided to just get the 2nd grade Map Skills book. She was in awe at the idea that she now has a second grade level book but she's only in first grade! I also got a writing book that looked like it would be fun, so we'll see how that goes over.
The funny thing was I actually went to the store looking for a particular language arts workbook and when I couldn't find it, I started looking through other first grade LA books. (I've been obsessed with making sure I'm up to speed as far as LA goes.) I realized that everything that the other books were covering were things that we have already done and that I feel that she knows quite well, so I'm able to relax a bit and stop stressing out about that for the rest of this year! Yippee!

*when I say "running amok" it should be noted that our amok-ness involved her accompanying me to the women's Bible study at my church and then lunch at Cheddar's. We weren't out, knocking over convenience stores or tearing the tags of mattresses or anything heinous like that.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He is Risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
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We had a fantastic Easter Sunday! The Kids dug into their Easter baskets right upon awakening, of course. I love putting together their baskets, although it can be kind of hard because I really try to strike a balance between candy and trinkets. I have NO intention of Easter turning into a gift-giving holiday, so there won't be movies or CD's or things like that in their baskets. This year they each got a packet of "striped" crayons (each crayon is multicolored) and Reilly got a little drawing book and Declan got a David & Goliath activity book. Then, of course, there was the candy assortment: a chocolate bunny (of course!) Reese's peanut butter eggs, some Whopper's eggs, and these awesome marsmallows shaped like little bunnies! I mean, like regular marshmallows like you could put in your hot chocolate, just bunny shaped! My kids are marshmallow fiends, so these were a BIG hit!
Then it was on to church, where my friend Flea was greeting. I mention Flea because she's great and she wrote this great post about Easter! Oh, how I love our church! I love the praise and worship songs that we sing, I love the message that Bruce teaches, I love watching the choir and seeing the faces of my beautiful friends up there; Keil, Jesse, Tammy, Charlotte, Lois, Camille, Kayla, plus so many others, just singing their hearts out, praising and glorifying our risen King! Wow! And me, standing between my husband and my mom, singing my heart out, praising my risen King! At one point, I looked over at Troy and thought, "Who would have thought I'd end up here with him?" God is so good!
After church, we went to my mom's house for lunch with Natalie and Stephen and their kids, Myra and Ken, and Mom's friend, John. We had the most wonderful array of food and I ate until I thought I'd pop, and then I added some fruit pizza on top for dessert! Myra had brought eggs for all of the kids to hunt, so we did that and then all came home and fell into a ham-induced coma.
What a day! What an awesome, glorious celebration!
"Amazing love, how can it be,
that you, my King, would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
And it's my joy to honor You
in all I do.
I honor You."
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Just a Little Somthing Funny

If you want to laugh, go and read this post from Notes from the Trenches! Chris is so funny!

Friday, April 06, 2007


Have you ever had a moment of such clarity that it seems like you're looking through crystal?When you understand something in a way that you don't think you've ever understood it before?

I had one of those today. I was listening to Reilly read, and I could feel myself just welling up with frustration as I heard her stumble over simple words that I "think" she should know. And I listened to myself "help" her in a tone of voice that was really kind of rude and unacceptable. And I was sitting there, thinking to myself, "When and why did I start disliking listening to her read?" because this is something that I've struggled with for the past week or so.

I watched her get frustrated, evidenced by her body language. Tightening of her fists, clenching of her jaw when she was having difficulty with a word. Stopping and sighing and saying to herself, "No. Wait."

And as I watched her, I realized that I was afraid that I was failing. As I watched my 6 and a half year old daughter read a book that was probably a second grade reading level, I'm thinking, "Why is she struggling? Have I skipped something? Do we need to go back? What am I doing wrong?"
She's probably reading at least one, if not two grade levels above the grade she's currently in, for crying out loud!

And then she stopped and looked at me. And she told me that she gets worried that when she's reading, if she messes up, I'm going to get mad at her. So my "help" is not helpful at all. Instead, I'm completely stressing her out, as I sit there and stress out myself! Sheesh!

So I told her my concerns, that I was not mad at her and that I was in fact, very, very proud of how well she reads. I told her that I was not frustrated at her but that I was frustrated at myself and that I would try really hard not to let that feeling leak over onto her.

And then neither one of us was frustrated anymore.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Had a Great Post

....all written in my head the other day, about what we were doing and it was going to be witty and heart wrenching at the same time. But I was mowing the lawn while I was composing it and I think the idea leaked out along with the 5 gallons of perspiration I got rid of during the mowing process. But, hey, at least our lawn doesn't look like a jungle anymore! The Kids can go out and play without me having to send out a search party for them later and I no longer have to worry about a boa constrictor lying in wait to gobble up our toy poodle when he goes out to do his business.

Things are pretty ho-hum here at MorningStar lately. I got Papa Piccolo from the library to use as a Five in a Row book, but I've not started it yet. I'm looking forward to it, though, because the book takes place in Venice, so there's a whole lot of options for lessons on Venice and Italy and what it would be like to live in a city with canals instead of streets. I've got a lot of websites bookmarked for us to look at with some great pictures, it's just a matter of getting the lesson started!

Reilly has moved past the doubles lesson in Math-U-See, which was quite fun and actually only took us about three days since she knew most of them already. (Doubles are just the ones that are adding to themselves - 3+3, 4+4, 5+5. etc.) On Tuesday I had her "build" the ones that she didn't know quite as well (4, 5, 6, and 7) and then hid them behind a book. Then I'd call out a problem and when she'd say the answer, I'd lift up the book and say, "WOO HOO!" really loud which gave her a big laugh each time. It really gave her a laugh when I called out 1+1, she answered, I woo-hoo'd and she said, "But Mom, it's not back there!" and I said, "I know, but I like doing that!" *grin*

Now we're onto what MUS calls "Doubles +1" which seems more complicated for me to teach and for her to learn...and I'm not going to try to explain it here because if I'm having trouble explaining it in words to a real live human, my brain might explode trying to type it out! But, the great thing is that I don't really feel any pressure because I know that I can get some great ideas from my friends at JM about how to teach the concept and I also know that we can work on it until Reilly understands it.

Deco is alllll excited and pointing out letters all over the place, which is really fun. We got two more Kumon books for him, one that's tracing and one that's uppercase letters. So he's having fun doing his mazes now and once he gets a bit more control over his pencil I guess we'll work on starting to write letters!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reason #951

People often ask "Why do you homeschool? What lead you to that decision?" and I've got lots of answers. These range anywhere from the safety of my kids (they're decidedly less likely to get shot in my house) to the quality of their education (you can't beat one on one tutoring!) to the simple fact that I just love being around them and love being the one to flip those switches that make the lights come on in their brains. It's fantastic!
Then people pull out their big trump card. The SOCIALIZATION card!
"But what about socialization? Aren't you worried about that?"
I read an article today that my friend Sherri posted at JM and it happened quite close to where she lives. It made my jaw drop and made me stop and literally say a prayer of thanks to my precious heavenly Father who has blessed me so much that I am able to stay at home and do what I do.
Go on and read it for yourself. And then try to tell me that my kids are better off at public school.
'Cause, really, I think my kids could do without that kind of socialization. Thanks.