Monday, May 30, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

Last weekend, we had thunderstorms and a tornado watch. I don't think it was ever upgraded to a warning, but the sirens sounded & we went to the basement. We've had storms on and off throughout the week. The thunder yesterday almost frightening. They weren't quick thunder claps, but really long and loud. They shook the whole house. The kids have been a bit worried about the storms. So, in an effort to ease their minds, we're working on formalizing our Emergency Preparedness Procedures.

I know it's Memorial Day, but we didn't really have plans. So, we decided to treat it like any other day. We spent the morning doing school. Dea worked on her school, trying to get as much done as possible. Jay did Language Arts, Math, and Latin. Since we missed about half of last week, we're trying to catch up a bit.

After lunch, the kids & hubby did some yard work (cleaning up the branches that have been blown/broken off by the storms), while I tried to get rid of a headache.

This evening, we worked on our emergency plans. We wrote up lists of tasks that each of us need to do when there's an emergency, what needs to be brought up from basement for flood watch, what each of us needs to grab, what needs to go to the basement for a tornado, etc. We wrote out a checklist for the house emergency kit and the car emergency kit. We went over fire safety rules, escape routes, meeting places if we get separated while escaping, and how to safely get off the roof (in case they need to go out an upstairs window).

Now that it is all planned & written out, I will type it up. Some pages will be laminated, like the kit checklists & lists of tasks. Then, I will hole-punch everything and put it in a binder.

One thing we need, for our kits, is a first aid manual. I asked the kids to make one. We have several books on first aid. They will go through them, making a list of the situations they think should be included in the manuals. After I ok the list, they will compare different sources and find the best way to treat each injury on their list. Then, they will type it all up & print it off, as a booklet. They love the idea, and could hardly wait to get started.

We even decided to add in a few unusual emergencies, just in case. The list of emergencies we've planned for:
Blizzard & other winter storms
Thunderstorms & ligthning
Extreme heat
Zombie Apocalypse
Alien Invasion

It set the kids' minds at ease to have plans for everything, and I think the inclusion of zombies & aliens helped, too. I also think having tasks to do, when there is an emergency, will help keep them calm, because they will be focusing on something. We'll start doing occasional drills, to make sure everyone knows what to do. Though, I'm sure we'll get plenty of practice, for several of them, this summer.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'm Back, I Hope

For most of the week, I have been unable to log into Blogger, therefore unable to post. I'll catch you up on our week. It shouldn't be hard, we didn't do much this week.

We hardly got any school done. Sleeping schedules have been off all week. Between bad storms, tornado watches, headaches, and Jay throwing up in the middle of the night, this week has not been good for sleep. Since we've been exhausted, we haven't done much school. I'm hoping to focus on school, with both kids, this weekend.

I had my sleep study last weekend. I actually managed to fall asleep, which was mostly due to the sleeping pills they gave me. I will never do something like that again. I couldn't get comfortable with those stupid wires all over me. Every time I moved my head, I pulled one of the wires. Oh well, it's done & over with, and I am glad for that.

Dea has decided how she wants her school year to be scheduled, for 8th. It will be split into 3 terms of 15 weeks each. She had the choice of doing all subjects all year or doing some courses all year & the completing the others in a single term. She has chosen the latter. She will do Spanish all year, at least 2 days a week. She will do ASL all year. She will do Writing all year, even though the rest of English will be just one term. Geometery will be split into 2 terms. For the subjects being done in just one term, she will do an entire year's work in that term. So, here's what her year will look like:
Term 1:
Algebra 2
Anatomy & Physiology
Computer Programming
Latin (level 1)

Term 2:
Latin (level 2

Term 3:
Intro to Psychology

In order to make this work, she'll have to really focus and work. However, since it will mean less courses at a time to worry about, she should be able to focus more on each. At least, that's the hope. I really hope this way works for her.

I think that's it. I did have some things that I wanted to write about, but am having trouble remembering what they were.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


If you have a child in Pre-K through 2nd grade, and you have not yet found Starfall, you have to check it out.

Starfall is a website with resources for learning to read & beginning readers. Plus, it's mostly FREE! I say mostly, because they recently added a new part to the site, which requires a subscription. We can talk about that later, though. Right now, let's focus on the main part of the site - the free part!

Starfall helps kids learn or review letter recognition & sounds and reading skills, with short videos and fun, interactive books. When reading the books, they can click on any word to have it sounded out & read to them. That way, they can get help with a word they are struggling with or verify that they pronounced it correctly.

There are fun activities for holidays, too. In the section for learning the ABCs, you can even learn the ASL alphabet! The Learn to Read area has 15 interactive books and a bunch of videos. In the next level, It's Fun to Read, they can read poetry, riddles, tongue twisters, and even be introduced to some artists. In the final level, I'm Reading, they can read comics, fiction, nonfiction, and more.

On the Download page, there are free printables so your child can practice reading and writing offline as well.

My son loved this site! Even after he was reading independently, he would visit Starfall just for fun. While I've heard a few people say their kids did not enjoy Starfall, most who have used it seem to be thrilled with it.

Ok, I said we'd talk about the paid portion later. Well, it's later. More.Starfall is a fairly new addition to the site. It has activities for color, Math, and more reading/phonics. There are some activities that are free, so you can get an idea of what they have. To have full access to that portion of the site, though, you need to subscribe. The price is very reasonable, too. Only $35 for a one year Home Membership. I don't have a membership for this part, but would definitely consider getting one if my kids were younger. They are both beyond what is offered, though.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Explode the Code

I used Explode the Code, with my son, as review and practice of phonics. Since he pretty much taught himself to read, I wanted to make sure that he had a very strong foundation.

We started with Book 2, in Pre-K. In Kindergarten, he did books 3-5. He finished the series (Books 6-8) in 1st grade. Even though these books were entirely review for him, except Book 4 which covered syllables, he mostly enjoyed using this series.

Very systematic: it didn't bounce around trying to cover everything at once
Consistant format: each lesson was set up the same, the same number of pages, each individual book contained the same type of work for each lesson, this is good for kids who like to know what to expect
Includes writing: I like that it had a decent amount of writing, so he got spelling & penmanship practice
Ease of scheduling: due to the format, it is very easy to allow the child to work through it at his own pace or plan it into your schedule, if you perfer the structure
Includes a posttest: each book has a posttest so you can assess your child's mastery of the covered material

Pictures: some of the pages have pictures and the child has to write the word, from that lesson, that matches the picture, but the pictures can sometimes be almost impossible to decipher
Consistant format: (yes, I realize I put this a a Pro) the same consistency that makes it good for kids who like to know what's coming, can also make it boring (doing the same thing day after day), a little variety would not hurt this series
Seems a bit easy for listed grade range: ETC is listed for K-4, but I have a hard time imagining a 3rd or 4th grader enjoying the rather simplistic work in the books

No color: the books (at least books 2-8) are entirely black & white, this is generally good for easily distracted kids
Extra practice: there are 1/2 books that you can get for extra practice, we never used those so I can not give an opinion other than that I think that offering them, for those who need it, is a good idea
Early levels: there are also 3 books (Get Ready For the Code, Get Set For the Code, and Go For the Code) for use before Books 1-8, I have no experience with those or with Book 1, so can offer no opinion on them
Reading comprehension: Beyond the Code, a 4 book series intended to be used with ETC. We were not very impressed with this. We bought Beyond the Code books 1 & 2, but never used book 2. While my son enjoyed the silly stories, he found the work to be boring. The comprehension questions were very simplistic, not challenging at all. He stopped doing the work by halfway through book 1, and had me just ask him questions instead.

All in all, I'd say this is a pretty solid phonics program. If your child is prone to boredom with repetitive work, you may want to use at least one other program, and alternate days.    


Totally Pointless

I have this stupid sleep study tonight. I really don't want to do it. I see this a an enormous waste of my time. Theoretically, I have insomnia. I don't think that's really what it is, though. I think my problem is that I am not able to sleep according to my body's natural circadian rythm. I just call it insomnia because that's easier for people to understand, and because that's what a Dr told me I had. The hours that my body wants to sleep are simply not conducive to my life right now. However, my hubby is convinced there is some cure for me.

This sleep study isn't even about my alleged insomnia. It's about my possible sleep apnea. I don't doubt that I have sleep apnea. It is  a very real possibility. It doesn't really matter, though. I won't wear one of those stupid masks to sleep. I wouldn't be able to fall asleep with something on my face. If I do have sleep apnea, it is caused by the excess weight I have put on over the last 8 years, which I'm already trying to lose.

I'm only doing this for my hubby, I know he wants me to do this sleep study. He has wanted it for a long time. He thinks they'll find some cure for my "insomnia," though I'm not sure why. So, even though I know this will be a colossal waste of time, I'm going through with it.

I generally am incappable of falling asleep in places that I am not comfortable with. I was in the hospital for over a month when I had Jay, and I think the only time I really slept was after he was born (so, during week 5 of my stay), and that was because of the morphine they gave me. The rest of the time, I was only able to doze a few minutes at a time. So, I'm doing everything I can to give this the best shot at working. I don't think caffiene really does anything for me (a glass of oj wakes me up, but a can of Mt Dew or cup of coffee don't), but I'm not drinking any caffiene today (so they can't tell me that my caffiene consumption is the cause of my sleeping problems). I got less sleep than normal last night, so I'd be a bit extra tired today. I plan on working out around lunch time, because that theoretically helps you sleep (plus, my workouts are usually at night, so I'd miss my workout for today if I didn't do it earlier in the day). They prescribed sleeping pills for me, to help me fall asleep tonight, too. Hopefully, all this will help me fall asleep tonight.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Popsicles for breakfast

Today, the kids had popsicles for breakfast. It's not as bad as it sounds. They were homemade popsicles, made from greek yogurt, tofu, coconut milk, and frozen raspberries. The kids love them and enjoy trying out different fruit combinations. Normally, these are snacks, but the kids ate all the breakfast food & all the fresh fruit. So, it was popsicles or nothing this morning.

Dea mainly focused on Math & History today. I don't think she got any other subjects done. She had an appointment with her therapist this afternoon, which cut our day a bit short.

Jay did Math first this morning. While he did p. 60 in Mastering multiplication, I started filling out this stupid questionnaire for the sleep study I have to do this weekend. Then, he moved on to Language Arts. He did EG2 day 29. He did the activities in the adjectives mini-book for Grammar Tales. He wrote another story for Discover the Deck.

He did Step 7 of AAS today. With the Steps that have words, we plan to do 2 days (we'll do more if he needs it). The first day, he'll spell the words with the tiles & then write them on the board. The second day, he'll spell the words with the tiles and fingerspell them using ASL. If he needs more than 2 days, we'll do as many days as he needs & just repeat the pattern of day 1 & day 2. Today was the first day of Step 7. He spelled hte  words with the tiles & wrote them on the board.

After Language Arts, he did Art. He did activity 4 in Creating Line Designs book 1. Then, he did a page in Chapter 3 of Latin.

The kids went outside to play this afternoon & stayed out until it was time to leave for Dea's appointment. Jay climbed the big tree in our yard today. While Dea & I were gone, Jay practiced guitar and then spent some time on the computer until dinner. We didn't have time to fit in History today. I'm not sure how much, if any, History we'll be able to fit in tomorrow, either. We have a pretty full day & I have my sleep study to prepare for. I'm planning to do some History with him over the weekend.

Our days probably sound pretty dull & mundane. Part of that is that I can't possibly remember every single thing that happens each day. So, there's a lot that gets left out of my posts. However, our days are what many would consider dull & boring. We do school, we do housework, we cook meals, the kids play, they add to their rock collections, we spend time on our hobbies, etc. We aren't in the theater; the kids aren't in a band; we don't have field trips 3 days a week; we aren't involved in tons of activities, groups, co-ops, or outside classes. We do some field trips & the occasional outside class, but that's not what fills a typical day for us.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Took the Morning Off

The kids & I took the morning off today, because we were all kind of tired & didn't really feel like working. So, we put in a dvd from the library (Penguins of Madagascar), and curled up in my bed. We stayed there until lunch. After lunch, the kids went out to play for a bit, but came bcak in when the rain started coming down harder.

After they came in, we started school. We started with ASL. This week, we are using Signing Time Series 1 volume 1 My First Signs. The words we are learnign this week are: Eat/Food, Milk, Water, Ball, More, Bird, Cat, Dog, Fish, Car, Airplane, Want, Shoes, Flower, Mom, Dad, Baby, and Sleep. We will practice these for the next week. If we have all mastered all of these words by next Wednesday, we will do a different dvd next week. If any one of us still needs work on even one word, we'll continue with this dvd again next week.

After ASL, Dea checked on her lab, and then started on her bookwork. Jay started on his Language Arts. He did day 28 in EG2. Then, he did Step 6 in AAS. We did Step 6 yesterday, too. In Step 6, he has words to spell out. Yesterday, he spelled them with the letter tiles on the magnetic dry erase board (I bought this board just for Spelling). Then, we went throught the words a second time, and he wrote them on the board. Today, we only went through the words once. He spelled them with the tiles & then fingerspelled them (ASL). Both days, we used the 10 lesson words and the 25 reinforcement words.

After AAS, Jay worked on Writing. Today was another pre-writing concept - the story web. His story will be about our cats. He even went around the house and measured each cat to see how tall they are, so he could use that info in his story. His current activity for Grammar Tales is to put an item in a bag & write adjectives on the outside of the bag. He is then to give the bag to someone, and see if they can guess what is in it by the adjectives on the outside. We have been working on this all week. The original item was something that he generally plays with in the bath, and it had water inside it. The water started to drip out all over his school stuff. So, we now have a new item, and he has finally decided on which adjectives to use. I wrote them on the bag, because his handwriting can be completely illegible sometimes. He dictated the adjectives to me, though. Can you guess what it is?

Next was Math. He did p.59 in Mastering Multiplication. Then, he watched the dvd lesson for Chapter 3 in Latin, and did a page of work. It was his night to help with dinner, but he spent most of the time reading. He did help with dinner; he made the salad. While dinner cooked, I made popsicles, smoothies, and a frozen fruit dessert for the kids.

After dinner (and dessert), hubby checked over Dea's Math & the two of them cleaned the kitchen. Jay and I did Science. We did 4 activities relating to the phases of the moon, solar eclipses, stars, and the moon's reflectiveness. Then, he spent some time writing about stars, in his Space Log.

Right now, they are all in bed. I will be doing a workout (about an hour) and reading (hopefully), before heading to bed myself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Poor, Poor Kitties

The day started with recorder practice. The cats do not like it when the kids play their recorders. The cats run, hide, bury their heads in blankets (really, I've seen them do it) to get away from the sound. Poor little kitties. One of them almost got shut in the arts & crafts room with them, while they practiced. One of the cats was right outside the arts & crafts room, until the first blow. Then, she took off running as far away from the room as she could get.

After recorder practice, Dea did English. Jay did writing - a story based on yesterday's pre-writing assignment. Then, he did day 26 & 27 in EG2. Then, he did Step 6 in AAS. Activity 3 in Line Designs book 1 was next, followed by a lesson in Logic Safari. Next was p. 58 in Mastering Multiplication.

While Jay did Math, Dea restarted her lab (due to some issues, it needed to be started over), and I made lunch. After lunch, Dea read and Jay did Spanish. Then, he did some Latin. Next Jay read, and Dea worked on History and Math.

While Dea & I made dinner, Jay did his educational computer time - 20 minutes of Math games, then other educational games until dinner. After dinner, we let them go out to play with the neighborhood kids. They climbed trees. They played on the swing they made with jump ropes and part of a tree branch. They stayed out until it was time for Jay to get ready for bed.

So, nothing extraordinary or exciting, but it was still a pretty good day (even if we didn't get to Jay's Science today).


Over the years, we have used a lot of different materials. I've decided to do reviews of some of the many resources we've used (I can't possibly remember them all). I won't be reviewing the materials I create, just the ones I have purchased (or borrowed). I will be reviewing games, websites, programs for individual subjects, supplemental materials, etc.  I hope you find them helpful.

CoverGirl NatureLuxe BzzCampaign Update

Sorry it took so long for me to post this. I had previously written a post about my current BzzCampaign for CoverGirl NatureLuxe foundation and gloss balm, and said I'd update after trying different colors.

I went ahead and bought the Alabaster foundation. It is a great match for my very, very fair skin tone (almost vampiricly light skin). It is a fantastic make-up. I put some on before heading to the park with my husband & kids, on my birthday weekend. I'd been dealing with some acne, so had some slightly red areas on my face. This foundation completely evened out my skin tone. It didn't hide the blemishes, in that you could still see little bumps where they were, but by covering the redness made them difficult to see (unless you were looking for them). Many foundations that have coverage that good are heavy, and thick. this on is not. It goes on so light & airy that you don't feel like you're wearing any make-up at all. It is thin enough to be able to use your fingers to apply it (still getting the great & even coverage), but thick enough that it is not runny or watery. It stood up to a day out with the family, and still looked good when I got home. It washes off easily and leaves your skin smooth not oily (or dry from having to wash extra to get it off).

I also picked up another gloss balm. This one is Cinnamon. The one I got for the campaign is Peony.  like the Peony, but personally think it's a little too pink for daily wear (for me, that is). The Cinnamon looks more natural on me for daily wear. Like the Peony, the Cinnamon has a sweet smell, not the waxy smell of many lip sticks/glosses/balms. It goes on smooth & silky and feels light on your lips. I was wearing it at the park, while the winds were blowing at around 35-40mph, and my hair was not sticking to my lips (which it would have been had I been wearing a normal gloss). There is no heavy, gooey, sticky feel to it, at all. It is just very light & smooth.

 So, there's the update. It's a great make-up line, with beautiful color choices, a natural look & feel, , no chemical smell, and a nice price tag. I highly recommend taking a look the next time you're at the store.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Pretty Good Day

I was up until about 4:30am. I find it difficult to sleep when I hear what sounds like gun shots in the middle of the night. Plus, there is apparently a millipede running around my house, somewhere. That thought doesn't help me sleep, either.

Anyway, the kids let me sleep in today, until about 9:30am. After thye ate breakfast, they played the Eclipse DVD game. So, we didn't start school until 10am. Over the weekend, Dea and I came up with a weekly plan that will have her finished with her remaining 5 subjects by the end of June (the deadline I have set). So, she got started working on that this morning. It's only 5 subjects that she needs to do, but due to her slacking this year, there is a lot of work to be done.

Jay started with Writing. Last week, he did a pre-writing activity - write a list of details for a story. Today started with him writing the story from that list. Then, he did days 24 & 25 from EG2. He then did more Writing. He did another pre-writing activity - a list of questions about a story he will write tomorrow. THen, he did Math, p.57 in Mastering Multiplication. Next was Spelling. He did step 5 in AAS. He then did 2 pages in Latin. Last week, when we started Chapter 3, he told me he wanted to spend 2 weeks on it, to make sure he mastered it. So, this is week 2 of Chapter 3. While he worked on Latin, I had to reschedule a Dr. appointment, because the office called & said they needed to cancel. Next available appointment is in July!

Then, it was lunch time. We all had lunch, and the herbs were put outside & watered. After lunch, they got a short break to play.

Next, Dea went back to work on catching up, and Jay did Geography. We used the big wall map & the Atlas to locate examples of his current Geographic Terms, and marked them on a paper map. He marked the map, using a different colored pencil for each term. I wrote what they were (my writing is smaller & neater). Dea threw a fit, mad at me for expecting her to actually understand her work. SHe came to show me how much work she had done. I was looking at a page in her Geography workbook & noticed one answer was wrong. She had not put any thought into the answer. The correct answer was blindingly obvious, if you took the time to read the page and look at the chart. So, I told her to redo that one. When she brought it back in, it had the correct answer. I asked her to explain her answer. She  couldn't. So, I asked more questions, to try to get a real answer out of her. With each question I asked, she got angrier & angrier. So, she was sent to her room until she calmed down.

Next, we did Logo Adventures. This week he is working on Lesson 4. Lesson 4 is review. So, he got to play around for 30 minutes, reviewing what he has learned, so far. He followed that with 30 minutes of guitar practice. Of course, guitar practice can't start without a pick & you can't find a pick without starting a fight. Awesome! I love the sound of my kids screaming at each other!

Jay finally got started on guitar practice and finished it without further incident. Then, he hung out in my room reading for an hour. He has finished the first book in the Warriors series. So, today, he started another Goosebumps book. He can hardly wait until library day, to look for the 2nd Warriors book.

After reading, he spent some time on the computer playing educational games. Dea was waiting to do her Math, hubby needed to look over her last assignment. Since hubby had just gotten home, he wanted to relax for a bit. So, he looked over her Math & had her do her corrections, while Jay helped me make dinner.

After dinner, Dea went out to hang with the few other teens in the neighborhood, and Jay (reluctantly) had to stay inside. I want to make sure we allow Dea some time with her friends, without her little brother around. So, Jay checked weather around the world for a litlle bit, and then watched some Scooby-Doo.

Seeing as it is still fairly early, it may be too soon to say this, but......Today has been a pretty good day. Fighting, whining, complaining, and attitude were at a minimum today, and the kids did all their schoolwork for the day.


One of the things I want for my children, is for them to be independent. When they move out, I want them to be able to take care of themselves. I don't want my son living on frozen pizzas and Ramen noodles until he finds a girlfriend who cooks. I don't want my daughter to need to call her dad or take the car to the shop every time her car needs something simple, like an oil change or new battery (I've seriously known people who could not change the car battery). I want them to be capable of doing that stuff on their own.

I can cook & bake( just ask anyone who knows me). I can do some work on a car, not a lot, but some. I can sew. I don't enjoy sewing, but I can do it. I can fix basic stuff around the house, except this house. The house we live in right now hates me. The people who owned it before us had no idea what they were doing & did a really jacked-up job on quite a few things. I even have trouble changing doorknobs here, because the holes aren't actually round & so the old doorknobs are stuck & need to be beaten with a hammer & pried out. However, in a house that isn't this one, I can do (at least some) basic home maintenance & repairs. I can clean, organize, take care of animals, balance a checkbook, plan & stick to a budget, use push mowers, reel mowers, and ride-on mowers, shovel snow, make my own cleaners, grow a garden, etc. I don't have to depend on someone else to do things for me, usually. I like the fact that my husband does some of this stuff, so I don't have to do everything, but I also like knowing that I could do it if I needed to. That is what I want for my kids. I want them to be fully capable of doing things on their own, not needing to run to someone else.

So, the question becomes, how to do it? How do you build that independence in your child? Now, I know that everyone has their own ideas on this topic. Here are mine:

I think that independence needs to be built. You don't suddenly become independent one day. There is no magic age at which independence arrives. You start by laying a foundation. You then build upon that foundation incrementally.

I believe that independence requires responsibility, and the more responsible a child is, the more independence they can handle.

I start the foundation with chores. Helping to clean & maintain their home is the first step. I start with simple tasks, assisting me. As they improve, they do them on their own, and as they grow older & are capable of more, I require more from them. Right now, my kids are 7 & 13. My son (7) folds & puts away his own laundry, helps load & unload the dishwasher (the silverware & unbreakable dishes), dusts, cleans his own bedroom, does general straightening up in most rooms of the house, helps clean the kitchen on nights he doesn't help cook, helps cook dinner (alternating schedule with his sister), sweeps the deck & patio, wipes down the bathroom sink (alternating schedule with his sister), helps pick up the yard, helps take out garbage & recycling, washes windows, and is learning to wash dishes. My daughter (13) washes & dries laundry, folds & puts away her laundry, loads & unloads the dishwasher, washes dishes by hand, helps clean the kitchen on nights she doesn't help cook, cooks, dusts, sweeps & vacuums, sweeps patio & deck, picks up yard, mows grass, wipes down bathroom sink, cleans bathroom, cleans her own room, cleans the upstairs hallway & the stairs, shovels snow, general straightening up in most rooms of the house, takes out garbage & recycling, washes windows, and scrubs the floors.

That is only one step, though. Having regular chores to do and being expected to do them correctly, helps build responsibility & independence, as well as teaching them important life skills. They are both also learning other important skills. They are learning about healthy living (eating healthy, exercise, proper hygiene), how to cook & bake, computer basics (in this day & age, this is important), proper care & use of appliances & tools, basic home maintenance, animal care, how to clean, organizational skills, time-management, and personal finance. My daughter is learning to work on cars. She is also learning to sew. My son will learn both of those when he is older.

Of course, that is not all we are doing to build responsibility & independence. We start granting them more decision making opportunities as they show more responsibility. As they show they can be trusted, we expand their freedoms. They must continue to show responsibility & good decisions to keep their freedoms.

They get a say in their school materials. They get a say in their school courses. They don't have the final say, but their opinions, wants, and thoughts are taken into consideration. They write or dictate their wish lists starting at about 2 years old. I may suggest they add more to the list, may ask questions to help them when they get stuck (i.e. "Wasn't there a book you really wanted?" or "Are there any games you want?"), and always have veto power on any item I feel is inappropriate (or if I happen to know that someone already got it for them). Once they can tell me what they want, though, I feel they should be making those lists.

We also work on independence in schoolwork. As soon as they show they can work on a subject independently, I allow them to do it. I check in with them, am always available for questions, and will often go over new material with them & ask questions about their work. However, if they can do their Math without me sitting there going through every problem with them, I think that's great. I think that not allowing them to work mostly independently, in a subject they have proven they can do alone, would be holding them back. I do look for materials that are less teacher intensive, so they have the opportunity to use it independently, especially as they get older. I try not to push them toward independent work, before they are ready, though.

It isn't always an easy task, building responsibility & independence in my kids. Their ADHD & my daughter's Bipolar do make it a bit of a challenge. The Giftedness helps balance it out some, but not completely. Finding exactly what works for them can be hard. We often change schedules a few times each school year, as things change. Finding the best study environment for each child is not easy, mainly because it changes depending on subject. We go through this process together, though. They make suggestions about what they think will work, I make suggestions about what I think will work, and we decide together what plan to put into action.

With the school plans, we start with me planning it all and work toward them being in control. In the early elementary years, I work with them on everything. I sit with them while they read, watch each step of their Math problems, ask lots of questions as we go along, and tell them what I have planned for each subject as we get to it. Then, I tell them at the beginning of the day what needs to be done in all subjects. Then it's the work for the week, and eventually, the whole term or topic. The goal is that, by the time they graduate, they are autonomous enough that I am really just there to answer questions & grade their work. That way, when they go to college, they are already used to being in control of when, how, and where they do their course work. That way, they don't need or expect their professors to hold their hand through class.

I don't just tell them what has to be done. They have a list. With us now splitting the year into terms, they have a list of the entire current term. Everything that needs to be done during the whole 15 weeks. If any of the work has due dates (besides the end of the term), it is written on the list next to the assignment. This allows them to see exactly how much needs to be done. It also teaches them organizational skills. They refer to their lists throughout the day and mark off assignments as they are finished. As they start doing subjects independently, their lists allow them to plan how much work to do each day & plan long-term assignments. They also get to choose the order in which they do their work. They often use their lists for this, determining order by amount of work (you don't want to start a subject with 1 1/2 hours of work 20 minutes before lunch time).

Our method teaches them time-management & organizational skills, and allows for the building of independence & the increase of personal responsibility for their own education. It might not work for everyone, but it's working for us.

This is still a work in progress for both my kids. Neither has reached a state of autonomy, yet. Though, I find that the biggest obstacle, with my daughter, is motivation.

I know that not everyone sees it this way. Some people expect their kids to be doing  most (or all) of their work independently, right away. Some don't allow their children independence until high school. Some feel that using a system, in which mom is doing all the organizational work, will teach the kids organization & independence. Some don't bother to teach their kids the skills they'll need for life, figuring they'll pick them up somewhere. Some prefer to use programs that have all the planning done for them, so they can just open & go. To each, their own.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dissection Fun


We have always allowed Dea to work at her own pace, not setting deadlines or due dates for her work. I know that she'll need to get used to having deadlines/due dates, and getting the work done (and handed in) on time. I just don't see any reason for her to deal with that in elementary school. Last year, when she started 7th, I was planning on setting due dates/deadlines, at least for her high school classes. Then, we decided to take that 6 month 'break from formal schooling.' Since I wasn't requiring her to do her regular school, I couldn't set due dates.

During that break, Jay tried out different schedules (with a little help from me) and finished all his work. Dea decided to procrastinate & avoid most of her work. So, at the end of the break, Jay got to move onto 2nd grade. Dea is still finishing 7th. She is still procrastinating, though - slacking on her work, asking for a break (or drink, or snack, or to clean the bathroom, etc.) every few minutes.

To be honest, I'm tired of it. She has 5 courses that she needs to finish - English, World Geography, Biology, Algebra 1, and History. I have decided that her 8th grade year will start in July, which gives her until the end of June to finish the work. Any of those 5 courses that are not finished by the end of June, will be repeated. Any of the high school courses (all except History) that are finished by hte end of June, but do not have a B or higher as a final grade, will be repeated (I require no less than a B for it to go on her transcript). Biology & World Geography would both need new materials purchased. So, if she has to repeat those, it won't be until 9th grade, since I've already purchased for 8th. If she has to redo English, I will be using the Writing curriculum that I was planning for next year, using just the teacher book for Easy Grammar 9 (me writing the assignment out on the whiteboard & her either copying to notebook paper or doing it on the board), though likely doing the same poems & plays.

She was not happy when I told her that she only has until the end of June. However, she has to start taking responsibility for her education & her actions. She has to stop thinking that she might be able to wear us down on the subjects she doesn't like. Biology will definitely be done by the end of June. History might be done by then. I don't know that the others will be, though. She doesn't like Grammar or Writing, and has always struggled with Writing. She hates Math. Lately, she's also been saying that she doesn't like Geography, though I think it's just that she finds the textbook she is using boring.

So, that's where things are with Dea right now. She has until June 30th to finish & hand in all her work. Her 8th grade year will start in July (after a 1 or 2 week break). All assignments, tests, projects, etc. will have a due date or a set amount of time in which to be completed. We are planning to do a 3 term (15 weeks each) year, like we are doing for Jay. The terms will help with the deadlines, too.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stupid Blogger!

I had finished & posted my post about Wednesday. Blogger then had some kind of issue & put it back to being an unfinished draft. Now, I'm struggling to remember what happened the rest of the day, so I can finish it AGAIN! I'll get that posted as soon as I can. UPDATE: Bloogger seems to have posted it for me again. I know that posts on some other blogs were appearing & disappearing. Hopefully, it stays up.

Yesterday (Thurs), Dea got very little work done, and Jay got no work done. Jay had a headache from the time he woke up. So, he read, watched some tv (most of it was educational), and I read him some of the books of Chinese stories/legends we picked up last week.

Today, we haven't really done anything, either. Jay still isn't feeling good, and I have a headache. We're just finishing lunch. Maybe we'll get some work done this afternoon. I figure we'll probably do some school this weekend, too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our Wednesday

The day started off well enough. The kids got up about 7am, got their own breakfast, brushed hair & teeth, and bathed. They let me sleep until 8am. When I got up, I suggested they get their big chores done right away, so they would be able to go to play when the neighborhood kids come knocking. They were not happy with that idea. Jay was supposed to be cleaning his bedroom and Dea had to clean the hall & stairs. They spent an hour arguing, fighting, tattling, screaming, and throwing things. Just what I wanted to listen to as I checked email, checked in on some forums, and basically tried to get to that point of 'alive human being' that is so hard for me in the morning. Dea did manage to get the hall & stairs done, but Jay's room is not clean. Hopefully, they decide to work together when they clean the school room and fold & put away laundry later today.

At 9am, we finally got to work on school. We started with ASL. Today, we practiced the numbers and alphabet. I'd say we've got those mastered, so we'll use a different dvd next week. After ASL, Dea did Biology. She got her 10 day lab set up and took the Unit 6 test. She wanted to go study for the final, but I told her to first make sure every single assignment is done. So, she checked every assignment. She also watched some CNN Student News.

Jay did day 23 in EG. For GT, we're still focused on adjectives. I had him choose a person, place, or thing that he knows, and write as many adjectives as he could think of to describe it. He chose one of the cats. Writing was learning another pre-writing technique - making a list. So, he made a list of everything he wants to include in his next story (which he'll write tomorrow). Then, we did AAS, and he finished steps 3 & 4.

While Jay & I were working on Language Arts, Dea went in the kitchen to make some iced tea. She found a huge bee on the window. We couldn't trap it, so we left it alone. Though, Jay was a bit scared to go into the kitchen after that.

After Language Arts, we moved onto Math. Jay did p.56 in Mastering Multiplication, more multi-digit multiplication. Then, they decided to have an early lunch. Dea made them peanut butter& apple butter sandwiches. While they ate, we watched an episode of All Grown Up. They got a break from school to do laundry and watch Cosmic Voyage: IMAX, the dvd that came from Netflix this morning. Then, Jay finished his bedroom & they cleaned the school room. While they did all of that, I did some general picking up in the living room; got the library materials we're done with in the library bag; fought with the computer, because I can't find the driver for our microscope; gave up on finding the driver (after all, we've had the microscope for about 5 years & haven't used it with the computer yet); avoided the giant bee that has taken over the kitchen (I'll have hubby get it when he gets home); and thought about duct taping the kids together until they learn to work together & stop fighting. Then, I remembered that you're supposed to be able to trap bees & wasps by leaving a 2-liter of pop open. Apparently, they can get in, but can't get back out. Well, we happen to have an almost empty 2-liter of fruit punch, so we opened it up.

Then, back to school! Dea worked on an essay about cats. Jay did 2 pages of LFC chapter 3. Then, he read books on stars and wrote some more in his Space Log. While they did that, I fit in some time on the Gazelle. I only did a mile. By that time, they had interrupted me many times & I decided to wait until later to do more. So, I got some writing done, instead. Then, they went out to sweep the patio & deck. After that, I decided to let them stay out & play. Jay got to stay out until 4pm, when he had to come in to help make dinner. Dea got to stay out until 5pm, when it was time to eat dinner. However, Jay decided that it was too hot out & came in early. So, he got some computer time before helping me make dinner.

After dinner, Dea went back out and Jay did his quiet reading time. Hubby & I relaxed, watched some tv, and played around on Facebook. Then hubby & Dea went into the kitchen to clean up from dinner. Though Dea gave us a bit of attitude about having to come in (she tried convincing us to let her stay out an extra 30 min.) and not letting her friend come in (because Dea was coming in to do chores).

Currently, Jay is getting ready for bed, Dea is getting stuff cleaned up so she can read once Jay goes to bed, hubby is finishing up in the kitchen, and I'm off to prepare everything for tomorrow (hopefully we can get in music practice tomorrow). After everyone else is in bed, I'll read, watch a movie, workout, maybe paint (depends on my mood). I'm really hoping that the storms they keep predicting finally hit us tonight. I love a good thunderstorm!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


It is horribly hot today! It was 64F by the time I let the kids go out to play at 8 this morning. It was in the 80s by lunch. As if the heat wasn't enough, the humidity was at 65% and there was no breeze. I actually had to turn on the A/C today. Even with the ceiling fans going (the two that haven't broken completely yet), windows open, and the doors open, it was 86F and muggy in here.

The kids started school a little after 9am, after playing outside (before the heat got worse). Dea says she'll be done with Biology next week. Actually, she thinks she'll be done with most of it by this Thursday, everything except the 10 day lab she has to do. She still has a lot of English work, though.

Jay did day 21 & 22 in EG. We did an activity for Adjectives in GT - I read The Bug Book & he clapped at each adjective (sounds kind of cheesy, I know, but he had to actually listen to each word to know which ones to clap for). For writing, we discussed proofreading & revising. Then, he did another pre-writing activity (drawing the story), and wrote another story. He completed Step 2 for AAS.

Then, he did Activity 2 in Line Designs book 1, for Art. After that was Lesson 3 in Logic Safari book 1. Math came next. He did p.55 in Mastering Multiplication. after doing the page, we discussed the fact that the 0 place holder used in 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication, is used in all multi-digit  multiplication. After showing him some examples, I put a 4-digit by 4-digit number on the whiteboard. He did it with no problem, remembering the 0 every time. We had about 30 minutes until lunch, by that time. So, he used that time to do his Spanish.

During lunch, we played on the wunderground weather channel on Roku. We picked city after city, to look at the weather. We found that most of the places we checked, were cooler than we are here (and that included cities in Mexico, Chile, Egypt, Greece, & Brazil). The kids had fun with it. They had maps & atlases pulled out & were using them to find cities to check.

After lunch, Jay and I worked on Science. We read The MSB Takes a Moonwalk and The MSB Space Explorers. Then,  Jay wrote in his Space Log. Today, he was writing about stars. He started doing his quiet reading time after that, but one of the neighborhood kids came over asking if they could go out & play. So, both kids went out for while, and had a water fight with the neighborhood kids.

He did get in his reading time, but didn't get around to Recorder practice. I guess we'll fit that in tomorrow.

Time Just Really Isn't That Important!

Time. This seems to be an important topic when it comes to education. I'm not talking about learning to tell time. I'm talking about the amount of time spent learning something. People seem to genuinely think that the amount of time spent learning something is directly related to the amount of knowledge, depth of understanding, and quality of education you have on that topic.

The amount of time spent on lessons is often discussed in the homeshooling world. We discuss the fact that we spend less time than the public schools, and often get more done. This is, of course, due to the efficiency of dealing with a much smaller class size. I have 2 kids, and I work with them separately (being 5.5 years apart in age means that their schoolwork doesn't overlap). So, I have a class size of 1 compared to the average class size of 30 that the public school has. Of course it doesn't take me 50 minutes per subject, plus hours of homework at the end of the day! However, some public school teachers, adminstrators, and even those not associated with the schools but still anti-homeschool, will argue that homeschoolers should have to do the same amount of time that the public schools do every day. Our locals schools go from 6 to 7 hours a day, depending on which school it is. So, according to those critics, homeschoolers should also be required to do 6-7 hours a day. However, how much of that time is really spent on education, though? There is a large amount of time wasted in public school, even with really good teachers. There's time between classes, roll call, getting everyone focused and ready to work. There's also time that isn't really wasted, but is not educational, like lunch & recess. Then, of course, there's time that is educational, but not required in a homeschool setting, like answering questions & re-explaining the concept to 30 students (we still answer questions & explain concepts, just in much less time when only a few students). So, to expect homeschoolers to spend the same amount of time 'in school,' isn't completely realistic.

It would be easier to take, if the only people who concerned themselves with the amount of time we do school were the homeschool critics. However, homeschoolers also make a big deal of it. Some are required to count hours for their state reporting, so obviously time matters to them. I'm talking about the ones who get offended or offensive about it, though. Some homeschoolers seem to be offended by those who spend more time on 'school' than they do. Some feel superior to those who do less than they do, and often get rude or offensive about it. Some wind up worrying or doubting, thinking they do too much or too little, because of the amount of time they spend on school.

The problem with all of that is this: time really isn't that important. There is no magic amount of time that will be the perfect amount spent on a topic/subject/concept that will allow all children to fully master it. There is also no perfect amount of review that all students need. More time spent on one subject does not always equal more learned.

There are so many things that will affect how many hours a family homeschools each day.

How many subjects they do: Generally speaking, a family that does 4 subjects a day will spend less time on school than a family that does 8 subjects a day. Some families choose to do the 'core' subjects daily, and the 'extras' just one or two days a week each. Some do every subject every day. Some split the year into terms and do different subjects for each term. So, not all families do the same amount of subjects each day.

How fast the child works: Each child has their own pace. Some kids work slower. Some work faster. So, it stands to reason that a child who works slower would take longer to do the same amount of work as a child who works faster.

Motivation: Children who are highly motivated tend to work faster, but may also do more work & go more in-depth. How motivated a child is has a direct influence on how long it takes to do their work.

The amount of work done: 5 Math problems usually take less time to do than 20 Math problems. One paragraph generally takes less time to write than 5 paragraphs. So, the amount of work that the parent requires has some bearing on the amount of time spent on school each day.

Special Needs: As anyone who has ever lived with or worked with a child with special needs (and this includes Gifted children) knows, they have their own way of doing things & do things in their own time.

Grade level or level of work: Again generalizing for ease here, the higher the grade level or the higher level work being done, the longer it will take to do the work. A lesson in Algebra will likely take a little longer than a lesson on subtraction. A 5 page research paper will take longer than a 5 paragraph essay.

Priorities: Most of the others really boil down to sub-sections of this one. What are your priorities? What do you feel is important? Do you feel Science & Social Studies are important enough to be done regularly, or do you often let them slide? Are the Arts a big part of your schooling, or do you only do them occasionally? Do you require foreign language, and if so, how many?

What do you count?: Now, this one might be the biggest determining factor in how long the school day is. When someone asks me how many hours a day we do school, the first thing I say (usually) is "that depends on what you count as school." This is not a cop-out. It's not a way to avoid the answer. It's the simple truth. If all you count is the stuff that looks, to you, like 'real' school, aka textbooks and workbooks, a fairly small percentage of our day would count (especially in the lower grades). If you count everything we do that is educational, almost every waking moment could count as school. I generally go somewhere in the middle - counting everything that's educational, as long as it is related to what we are 'officially' covering in school at that time. Personally, I count documentaries, educational shows (like Magic School Bus), reading time, textbooks, workbooks, labs/experiments, projects/activities, their educational computer time, research, even games (as long as they practice an important skill/subject/concept).

Now, I don't personally care how long other people do school. I'm sometimes curious about it & I enjoy learning about how others set up their day, plan, etc. When I read about someone who has a longer school day then we do, it doesn't make me worry that we aren't doing enough. When I read about someone who has a shorter day than we do, I don't worry that we're doing too much, nor do I look down on them for spending less time per day on school. However, not everyone can say that. I've seen people get defensive, offensive, and downright disrespectful about the number of hours others do school. Some have been judged & insulted so many times for 'not spending long enough' on school, that they assume everyone who has a longer day is judging them. Some refuse to say how long their school day is, due to being accused of 'pushing' and 'expecting too much' so many times. I've known people to try quite hard to 'justify' the length of their school day to others.

Who are they to judge, though? What gives them the right to decide if someone else is doing too much or too little? Do they know the other person's children? Do they know if the child in question can handle the workload or if they would be able to handle more? Do they know why the person's school day is that length?

As you can see, this bothers me. I've seen too many people hurt by others who assume they know what is best for everyone.

Many would say that I am pushing my kids, that I expect too much, that our school day is too long, etc. However, they don't know my kids or me. If they did, they would know that there's not much that I 'push' for school. I push Math, because my daughter would NEVER do it if I didn't make her. I don't allow them to decide that they don't have to do something that I feel is very important (needed for life on their own or required to get into college). I don't allow them to decide that they don't like something, until after they have had an appropriate amount of exposure (one song is not enough to condemn an entire genre of music, one page is not enough to decide you hate a book, etc.). Yes, I have requirements set for graduation, but I work with them to find the best way for them to fill those requirements. However, the fact that I require certain things for my kids' education does not make me unreasonable. My kids are doing the amount of work they are doing because they can handle it and they enjoy it. As for expectations, I expect their best, and I see nothing wrong with that.

Time really isn't that important. If you are comfortable with the amount, kind, and level of work your kids are doing, do not allow someone else, especially someone who doesn't know you or your kids, to make you second guess yourself.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Catching Up, Kind of

Last week, we were doing great, until Thursday. Between Thursday & Friday, very little actually got done because of my migraine on Thursday and my dr's appointment on Friday. So, we are kind of getting caught up this week. We don't really have to 'catch up,' since we don't have a strict schedule to follow. We aren't really expecting the kids to spend too much time outside this week, since we're expecting rain every day this week. So, we figure we can put in some extra focus on our school work.

Dea has changed her mind about doing 1 subject per week & getting each subject done in a week. She has instead decided to focus on 2 subjects at a time, so there's a bit of variety, and work until they are done. Right now, she's focusing on English & Biology. Over the weekend, she finished her dissections for Biology. Last week, she took the test for Unit 5 in Biology. That leaves just one Unit and she'll be done with Biology. She spent most of today working on English.

Jay got through Step 1 in AAS this morning. YAY! I knew he'd get past that block, once he adjusted to the program. He did day 19 & 20 in EG. We discussed proofreading & revising in Writing. We read The Bug Book, the Adjective book in GT. 

He then did p.54 in Mastering Multiplcation. It was only 12 problems, all 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication. He's already firmly got the concept, even though this was only the second page of these problems.

We went over the questions from last week's Geography lesson & he got them all right. So, I went ahead and introduced the work he'd be doing for the next 8 weeks. The next 8 weeks will be focused on Geographic Terms. Each week, he'll be given 3 Geographic Terms to study. He will locate & mark, on a map, examples of each. He has asked to do a Glog for each term, as well. This week's terms are: Bay, Canyon, and Butte.

After discussing his Geography terms, we moved on to Latin. He finished all  the work for Chapter 2. After lunch, we got started on Chapter 3. He has decided that, due to the 10 vocab words & 10 declensions he has to learn in this chapter, he wants to take 2 weeks to do it (to make sure he has the time to do it right).

During lunch, we watched episode 5 of When We Left Earth.

After working on Chapter 3 in Latin, we did some more work on Lesson 3 in Logo Adventures. Doing the lessons for Log Adventures is actually more difficult than it should be. Well, not difficult as much time-consuming. You see, it comes with a lesson book that walks you through step-by-step. However, the lesson book was written for a different program than the one that came with it. It did send books that go with the newer program - tutorials, getting started guide, quick reference - so we can find everything we need to do the lessons. The thing is, instead of being able to floow the lessons exactly as written, I have to look in the other books to find what has changed & what we need to do it in this program. It seems that almost every piece of code has changed from one program to the next. The lesson tells us to enter cg to clear the screen, but we need to enter cs with this program. It tells us to change the color using setc 15, but instead we have to use setpc [255 0 0]. So, there are just a lot of changes from the program the lessons were written for and this newer program that was sent with it. My main issue with this is that I really don't think Jay will be able to use the lessons on his own this year. I wasn't really thinking he would, but it would be nice to have as an option. He is really enjoying using this, and it would be nice to be able to allow him to do it independently, if he wanted to. However, I don't know that he really has the patience to deal with looking up everything, in one of the 4 books for the software, if following the lesson isn't getting the results.

I let him stay on the computer after Logo Adeventures, to do his educational computer time. He started his educational computer time doing exercises at Khan Academy. I think he watched some of the videos, too. We've been using Khan Academy for Dea for a while now (I think it's been a few years), but just recently introduced Jay to it. His first introduction was a video on muti-digit mulitplication. We watched it, on the Khan Academy channel for Roku, last week. He really liked it, and wanted to watch more. So, we're letting him sign in with my Google acct, so he can do the exercises. Hubby is set up as the kids' coach, so he can see how they're doing. I love that Jay enjoys Math so much. I'll never understand why anyone would enjoy Math, but I'm glad he does. It's so much easier to cover Math with a child that doesn't despise the subject.

After computer time, he did his quiet reading time. He's currently reading the first book in the Warriors series. Then, he helped me make dinner. After dinner, we let the kids go out & play with some friends. The rain has been an on & off thing today. So, I wanted to let them get some time outside while the sun was out & the clouds had temporarily gone away. Jay got sent back in right away for asking hubby a question I had already said no to. He spent most of the time reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nothing Got Done

Nothing got done today. I had a doctor's appointment at 1:30pm. You would think that we would have done some work this morning, but we didn't. We had to get the library stuff together. I neede a shower. Hubby took half the day off work, which means he was home by 10am. He needed a shower. The kids don't really school work done while he's home, it just seems almost impossible. We had to have lunch before we left. Plus, we had to leave with enough time to get to the other side of town. So, even though I was up at 7 something, this morning, nothing has been done. The kids watched some CNN Student News. That's it.

Today's appointment was with a pulmonary specialist. My asthma actally seems under control. However, she is concerned about the hoarse voice, the possible sleep apnea, the slightly elevated blood pressure, and the amount of weight I have gained over the last 8 years (and the fact that even though I have tried to lose the weight, I just gain more). So, I'm doing a sleep study to see if I have sleep apnea. She is also setting up an appointment for me to see an ENT (ear, nose, throat dr) to look at my sinuses and my voice box. Of course, I'll continue to do my best to lose the extra weight.

After the fun of my appointment, we headed out to do the shopping. We spent more time at the first store than I thoguht we would, but I remembered to get spray paint to finish the TARDIS. Then, hit the auto parts store, and finally the library. At the library, I ended up picking out a few more books for Jay than I planned (I went beyond the limit I set in place). Most of them are Chinese stories, myths, and legends, though. They didn't have a comprehensive book of them, in the kids' section, so we had to get several books. Next week (or the week after) I'll leave hubby with the kids & go look for a comprehensive book of Chinese Mythology. Hubby wasn't actually at the library with us today. He dropped us off & ran to another auto parts store while the kids & I got what we needed.

Since we didn't even get to the library until after 5pm(our usual dinner time), we stopped  and picked up dinner on the way home.  So, we got nothing done, ate dinner late, still need to do grocery shopping, and it has been a very looooooooooooooong day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stupid Little Punks!

Ok, first a quick rundown of school today. Dea did very little. She did some English, but not much. She also watched some CNN Student News. I had a headache of the 'elephant tap dancing in slow motion inside the left half of my head' variety, so Jay didn't do much school. He did some work on his Ancient China Journal, watched some CNN Student News with Dea, watched The Lost Treasures of Tibet, did Spanish, and read. Other than that, he played with moon sand while watching Travel Guide to the Planets, and had some educational computer time.

Now, on to my little rant. I HATE the kids in my neighborhood. I know it sounds bad for an adult to say they hate kids, but I really do hate the snotty little punks that live around here. My kids were outside playing. They came in to get a drink and asked if it was ok if they went over to the neighbor's. There were a bunch of the neighborhood kids over there & one of them had invited mine over. We said fine, but that they were coming in in 20 minutes, no matter what (that was when we were planning for them to come in anyway, so Jay could get ready for bed). They said fine & went back out. Not 5 minutes later, we heard Jay crying & screaming. We ran outside to see what the hell was going on. Our two kids were sitting on the ground in our yard, no one around. So, we told them ot come in, got everyone calmed down, and attempted to figure out what had gone on.
Apparently, one boy that was over there invited Jay & Dea over. When they went back out, after us saying go ahead, they went to go over, but the boy's sister said No. She doesn't like Jay, so didn't want them coming over. Apparently, the girl gave a quick "No!" and turned away. So, Jay asked again. His repeated asking may have had something to do with the fact that the snotty girl who said no doesn't even live there. She's just one of the neighborhood kids. Anyway, she kept saying no and taunting Jay (she's about 5 years older than he is), and some of the other kids (also older) joined in.Well, Jay ended up in tears, very upset. Then, apparently one of the boys rode his bike directly at Jay, causing him to jump behind Dea out of fear that the boy was going to hit him.

This is not the first time that we've had issues with an older, bigger neighborhood kid bullying Jay. I really hate the little punks that live around here. They are all on the road to becoming criminals someday. So, we've now had to ban even more kids. I think that puts us with more neighborhood kids not allowed to play with our kids or on our property then ones we actually allow over here now. I so wish we could move.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Dea spent the day working on English, again. Not really much to report about her. She did watch a few episodes of CNN Student News. Other than that, just did English.

Jay's morning started with the last verb activity page from Grammar Tales. Then, he did Day 18 for Easy Grammar. We went through cards 1-26 for All About Spelling. We only did them once. He is starting to get more comfortable with the program, so he's making less mistakes. I'm pretty sure he will have adjusted by the end of the week. Next, he did writing. His assignment today was to write the story he told me yesterday. It was about a trip we took to a museum.

Next, we did Math. Today he learned how to multiply a multi-digit number by a multi-digit number (up until now it has been multi-digit by single-digit). He did fantastically well with it. He did p. 53 in Mastering Multiplication, all 8 problems. He did the problems one at a time on the white board, didn't switch his numbers once, and remembered the 0 place holder every time. I'd say Math took us, maybe, 15 minutes.

Language Arts had taken us a while, though (mainly because of the writing assignment). So, it was fairly close to lunch by the time he finished Math. So, he read The Magic School Bus Sees Stars (for his Science study), while I started cooking rice & chicken for lunch. While lunch cooked, we watched Signing time Practice Time ABCs & practiced our ASL ABCs. While eating lunch, we watched episode 4 of When We Left Earth.

After lunch, Jay finished his planet entries in his Space Log. He then came up with his own mnemonic for the planets. After that, he got to design his own constellation & write a myth to go with it. Dea typed it out while Jay dictated.

My in-laws showed up at about 3pm. The kids had fun showing Grandma what they've been working on & telling her about books they've been reading, etc. We did dinner a bit late, since hubby was busy working on their van. We had Mahi Mahi for dinner, and fish isn't something you want to reheat later. Jay chose not to help with dinner tonight. Instead, Dea helped with dinner, and Jay watched an episode of MythBusters with grandma.

So, with having visitors & eating dinner late, Jay didn't get to his quite reading until after dinner (and after the MythBusters NASA episode we watched during dinner) and won't have time for guitar practice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Day We Started the TARDIS

I woke up feeling hung over, which is twice as annoying when you didn't drink the night before. I had a headache & felt like I hadn't slept at all. So, we got a late start to the day. Dea started her school about 8:45am & Jay started at 9am.

I love my kids, but they do not deal well with change. When a new routine is introduced, they somehow lose all ability to function at a basic level. Their IQ drops to just above braindead. Their eyes glaze over. Their jaws go slack. They stare with vacant expressions. It would be comical, if it wasn't so infuriating.

Jay's day started with Easy Grammar day 17. He did fine & we moved on to the verb mini book from Grammar Tales. He finished that, leaving just one activity sheet to do for verbs. Then, we did All About Spelling. If you remember, yesterday I said that he was stumbling, even though I know he knows the letter sounds (he's known them all since he was 2, at the oldest). The problem is that I have introduced a new program. So, he temprarily knows absolutely nothing. Hopefully, by the end of the week, the adjustment period will be over & his brain will decide to function again. For right now, I'm trying not to get to frustrated. We went through cards 1-26 3 times. Each time, whenever we came across a letter that has more than one sound, he struggled with one of the sounds. To make it even  more fun, it was a different sound each time. He sat there, staring blankly at me, with this utterly confused look on his face. It drives me crazy because the boy is brilliant. He can read & comprehend at a 5th grade level (at least), has a larger vocabulary than many adults I know, has been using full sentences (and not the little 3 word sentences) since before he was 2, but if you show him a flashcard and ask what sound the letter makes, you get glazed eyes, a two minute conversation, and a list of sounds it doesn't make. UGH!!!!!!! After spelling, we did writing, which was him telling me a story (tomorrow he has to write it down).

Next was Math. He did p.52 in Mastering Multiplication. 10 problems - Dad is buidling a shed & needs to buy supplies. How much will he spend on each material? Again, this was done on the white board. One problem at a time, on the white board, seems to really help him with the switching numbers issue. I think it's because when he reads the answer to go write it on the page, he's more likely to notice that he switched the numbers and that the 94 was meant to be 49.

After Math, we did Logic. He loves his Logic workbook. He generally wants to do more than one page whenever we do it. I would have let him today, but we were already going to be moving Spanish to after lunch & still needed to do Art & Music. So, we just did lesson 2 from Logic Safari book 1.

Jay has decided that he doesn't want to do any more origami. I'm fine with that, since it has been introduced and her has given it a shot. So, today he started Creating Line Designs. Dea really loved this series when she did it. It starts with very easy designs & moves to more difficult ones, over a series of 4 books. Art was followed by Music. Today was recorder practice. The cats were hiding their heads & meowing at me as they listened to the screeching coming from the arts & crafts room.

Dea figured out that she has 5 subjects left to finish for her 7th grade year to be done. She has decided to focus on one subject a week, finishing each one in a week's time. If she can do it, she'll be done with 7th grade in about 5 weeks. I hope she can do it. She needs to get this work done. She has decided that his will start today and has worked on English all day.

After the torturous music practice, we had lunch. Lunch was peanut butter & Nutella sandwiches and fruit salad, while watching another episode of Wild China.

After lunch, the kids played outside and started painting the TARDIS. Yes,  said painting the TARDIS. The kids were trying to decide what to turn the box from our new microwave into. One wanted a time machine & the other wanted a space ship. So, they came to the only locigal compromise - the TARDIS. They started painting it today. We ran out of spray paint, though. So, I guess we'll be buying more on Friday and finishing the paint job this weekend (if the weather holds up). I am taking pics throughout the process & will do a post showing it from start to finish, once it's done.

Next, Jay did Spanish on the computer, followed by some Math games for review, and some chess. Once off the computer, he went straight to my room to read. Dea has needed to be reminded to get back to work several times today. She keeps walking around the house, just standing in a doorway. I'm really starting to doubt that she took her meds today. Her total lack of attention isn't normal while on the Vyvanse.

As it was Dea's turn to help with dinner, I decided that Jay could work on his Space Log while dinner cooked. Then, after dinner we'd have time for a project, dvd, book, or something. We ended up doing several projects from the MSB Space kit. First, we did an activity about orbit, demonstrating why Earth's orbit is shorter than the orbit of Uranus. Jay already knew why Earth's orbit is shorter, but he likes to do activities. Plus, it gave him the opportunity to act like the teacher and demonstrate something he knows, which is always fun for a kid.

We made a model of the solar system. The paint that came with the kit didn't really work for Jay, so he used markers.

He really wanted some pics in the dark, too. You can't see it real well, but here's the solar system in the dark
Then, we built a telescope. Really all we did was glue the tubes together. Tomorrow, once the glue is dry, Jay can decorate the telescope.

Then, we assembled the constellation box. You look at constellation cards through it, and try to figure out what the constellations are. The kids are currently doing that. There were also a few blank constellation cards. So, they are each going to choose a constellation, punch it out on a card, and challenge the other to figure it out. Dea was working on English until about the time we started the constellation box. Jay decided that he wanted his sister to do this activity with him.

I want to try to squeeze Science in tomorrow morning, instead of waiting until after lunch. My MIL is coming over tomorrow afternoon to have hubby look at her car. So, I want our school work to be done by the time hubby gets home from work, since I don't know exactly what time MIL will be here. There is simply no way that the kids will get any schoolwork done with her here. So, I think we'll work after lunch, instead of letting them go out to play. I think that is a large part of why we always end up doing work in the evenings, because they spend the early part of the afternoon outside.

8th grade plans

I haven't posted much on here about the plans for Dea's 8th grade year. This is mainly because she isn't done with 7th yet & I thought I'd wait until closer to her new school year. Well, she will hopefully be done with 7th in the next 5-6 weeks. So, I figured I'd post the plans for her for 8the grade.

Science: Anatomy &Physiology - college text as spine, anatomy coloring book, various websites, blood-typing lab, additional reading & activities, various other resources as available (HS credit)
Intro to Psych - college text as spine, human brain coloring book, various websites, additional reading, various other resources as available (HS credit)

History: Ancient Civilizations: A Comparative Study - This is a course Dea & I designed together. There is a list of required civilizations & a list of optional for additional credit civilizations. There's a list of topics to be covered. for each topic, she will research all reuired civilizations & any optional ones she chooses. She is required to do a project for each topic. Each project will be graded on on how many civilizations are covered, neatness, quantity & quality of info, and how easy it is to follow. (HS credit)

Spanish: Tell Me More Spanish, at own pace, at least 30 minutes 2 days/week (HS credit)

Latin: Oxford Latin Course (HS credit)
Latin for Children primer A, doing this with Jay, so she can talk to him with the same words he's learning

Computer Programming: Logo Adventures move at own pace

ASL: Signing Time dvds and other dvds

English: Easy Grammar 10, Put That in Writing level 1, Literature portion focused on Mythology &Legends, using All About Spelling to see if we can help her mild dyslexia issues (we're calling them dyslexia-lite issues) (HS credit)

Music: recorder practice at least one day a week (so far she has shown no interest in playing any other instrument), 1 musicain bio per week (HS credit)

Art: in-depth study of Giotto di Bondone, Vincent van Gogh, Joseph Stella, Frank Llyod Wright, and Norman Rockwell and their work (HS credit)

Math: Alg 2 (there's no way she'll finish it before 8th starts, even though she should have), and Geometry (HS credit)

Like Jay's school year, Dea's will be split into 3 terms of 15 weeks each. This means that I may actually need to add some work to the end of the year for her. I'll wait to do that, though. I'll be giving her a binder each term. The binder will have her copy of the planned work for that term and will also serve as a place for her to keep all her work for that term. That way, all she has to do is hand in the binder, when I need to grade her work. This will be great for her organizationally. It will put her in charge of her schedule & place all the responsibility & accountability on her. She'll have the deadlines of when the work needs to be finished, a complete list of everything that is expected, and a place to store the work. Basically, she'll have all the tools she needs & will just need to put them to good use.

Here are the pics of most of her materials for 8th grade:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our Day

I generally don't think we do enough in a day to make it worth posting every day. Also, I'm not sure if I have the time & patience to post about our day, every day. I thought I'd give it a try, though. I think I'm going to try to post every day this week, to see if I have time & enough to post about. So, here's our day:

We started the morning with Dea settling in at the office table to work on History. While she did that, Jay and I headed out to the arts & crafts room. We started with Language Arts. He did day 16 from Easy Grammar grade 2. Next, he worked on the Verb mini book for Grammar Tales. Then, we started Unit 2 in Discover the Deck. This unit is on prewriting. The first prewriting activity it wants him to work on is telling a story to a friend. So, his assignment is to think of a story & be ready to tell me the story tomorrow. We started All About Spelling today. Because this was our first day sitting down to do this program, he didn't do as well as he should have. I know that he knows the sounds, but he stumbled a bit because of the formality of the program & simply not being used to the method (we never used flashcards when he was learning to read). So, we only made it through the cards once. He kept getting distracted & trying to talk about everything else. I got tired of telling him "the only thing you should be saying are the sounds made by the letters on the cards." So, we'll do cards 1 - 26 again tomorrow, even though I know he knows them.

After All About Spelling, we did Math. He did p.51 in Mastering Multiplication. I only made him do 5 problems. His dyslexia causes him problems when he writes the numbers down, so I had him do the problems one at a time, on the white board. He likes to talk his way through the problems, and I let him do that. It helps him & I can hear that he knows what he's doing. He got them all correct. If he starts to write the numbers wrong, due to his dylexia issues, I will stop him & ask how the number should look. If he gets it wrong due to computational errors, that's different. Then, he has to redo that problem & do another problem. The better he does, the less work he has to do. After doing his 5 problems from the page, we did flashcards for 0x0 to 9x9. He also did 20 minutes on TimezAttack this afternoon.

Next was Geography. He read over the introduction to World Geography & You. He stumbled over some of the answers at the end. So, he will read the introduction again this week. On Friday, we will go over the questions again. I know that some of you are thinking it's a little much to force him to read it again, that we should just move on. After all, it is only 2nd grade. However, this is the introduction to this book. At least one of the questions he is stumbling on is about what Geography is. He needs to understand what the subject is before he can learn it. Also, some of the questions were just basic reading comprehension questions, which means that he didn't pay attention to what he was reading. In our house, that means you read it again (and again and again until you pay attention).

Then, we moved into the living room and worked on Latin. He started chapter 2 last week, but didn't finish it. So, we watched the dvd lesson and he did the Derivative Worksheet for Chapter 2. He would have done more than the one page, but we had a bit of an incident. One part of the page was to choose 2 English derivatives, look them up in the dictionary, and write the definitions on the page. The first word he chose was 'fossil.' First, he refused to get to the right part of the dictionary to find it. Then, he decided that he didn't need to look it up, because he knows what it means. So, he tried to say that he was done with that part, when he hadn't written down a single word. This, of course, was not going to work for me. The directions said to write down two words & their definitions. They did not give the option to decide that you know everything, have no need for a dictionary, and decide that you don't need to write anything down. So, I explained to him that he needed to follow the directions. This was a rather loud conversation, because he kept talking over me trying to tell me that he knows what fossil means & therefore, doesn't need the dictionary. I repeatedly told him to stop interrupting me and that it doesn't matter if he knows what fossil means. The point of this was that he was not following the directions, and he had not been given permission to change the assignment. So, regardless of his knowledge of the word & its definition, he still needed to WRITE DOWN THE ANSWER! So, only one page of Latin got done today, but it got done. In case you're wondering, the two words he used were 'fossil' and 'aroma.'

Next - lunch break! The almost quiet time while they ate, we watched an episode of Wild China on Netflix, and I checked in on Facebook & some other online places.

After that, it was time for Logo Adventures. This week, we are doing Lesson 3. Jay and I sat down at the computer, and I walked him through the lfirst half of the lesson. Once we're done with the actual lesson (or as much as we're going to do that day), he gets to play around with it for a while,  practicing what he learned. If we had done this before lunch (as I had planned), he would have been allowed to play until lunch. However, since Latin took so long, we didn't have time for this before lunch. So, he got 15 minutes to play, after we finished the first half of the lesson. During this time, Dea was in the arts & crafts room, allegedly doing English. I found her lip syncing to her MP3 player, instead.

Then, Jay had his 1 hour of quiet reading time. He sits in my room to read, because my bed is comfy. Apparently, I am the only person who can not get comfortable to read in that bed. While Jay read, Dea worked on English - writing a report on Julius Caesar.

Then, they went outside for about 1 1/2 hours, for some fresh air & exercise (P.E.). I spent about 25 minutes of that time on the Gazelle. I was going slow, trying not to start a coughing fit, so only did 1 mile. Not a great workout, but at least I got through it without the massive coughing fits.

When they came back in, Jay went on the computer. This is when he did TimezAttack. He also did some other fun educational stuff, for about an hour. Then, he helped make dinner (Home Ec.). Dea spent that time doing Geography and reading.

Jay has not been practicing guitar & hubby has been refusing to do lessons with him. Apparently, Jay was not holding the guitar properly. We decided to try having him play left-handed, to see if that helps. So, after dinner, hubby put new strings on the guitar. They're going to try it out this way for a week or so, and see if it works better for Jay.

Jay also started watching Space: The Secret History disc 1. We got it from Netflix about a week ago. When we finally tried to watch it (last Thursday), we found a huge crack in it. We informed Netflix about it & they sent another copy out on Friday (great service!). So, now we can watch it. Of course, we also found time to relax, watch some MythBusters, and Dea screwed around on the computer (Facebook, Moshi, etc.). Plus, I spent some time splitting Dea's 8th grade year into 3- 15 week terms. I thought I was done with it, but had completely forgotten a few subjects. Now, I'm done. I just need to print out her copy & decide if I'll be using a notebook or printed copy.

Now, it is almost 9:30 pm. Jay is in bed, Dea will be oging to bed soon. Hubby is finishing up working in the kitchen, then he'll be off to bed. So, I am deciding between a movie or audio book as background noise, while I work on some things & read.

Well, that was our day!