Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another postponement

Our trial is pushed out again: Pretrial hearing tomorrow, Prosecution witnesses Thursday and Friday. Please keep us in prayer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Praise God!

My younger cousin just ended a very long pregnancy with a healthy baby boy! So happy for everyone!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Homeschooling 101- Foreign Languages

I cannot comment on methods or curriculums. I've bounced unsuccessfully and not been able to focus on paying a tutor.
There is a benefit. Each child only knows a little and each of a different language! We can have a private talk in a vanful of curious ears.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Parade Day!

15 lbs of corned beef, 2 loaves of sour dough, 2 loaves of Irish soda bread 2 trays of shamrock cookies (thanks Cameron) piles of red potatoes, carrots, onion and cabbage all after a breakfast of coffee and baked French Toast made with green bagel slices.

I really should start running the road race if I'm going to eat so much!

Anyway--- Parade committee stuff is here.

WGBY Public Television for Western Mass showed the whole parade (second largest in the US! and more floats than New York typically!) It will be repreated at 11PM tonight and will then be available as streaming video on their website. Here.

I stayed here and watch on TV (when I didn't cook, clean or nap) and loved that my 2 oldest brough friends! Wish I'd been able to get to my sister's: Sheila Maureen, our little colleen, now lives near the parade route with her wonderful hubby and new baby Jimmy. Did you wear the tiara all day? Marie decided when she is big she wants to be colleen and will then wear her tiara every year.

And here's to all the friends and relatives we saw in the parade: Ceade Mile Failte!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Success! Homeschooling 101-- Math

Sarah officially finished 7th grade math! This is a big accomplishment for a girl who doesn't think as mathematically as her closest sibling. And she won't be 13 till the end of May!

She is the daughter who has most challenged me in this area, forcing me to look at many ways of teaching and many curriculum. One thing I know for sure I must use a spiral method. There are many great texts that are not spiral and work well for a child that needs few reminders of past lessons. They cover one topic: perhaps adding 2 digits to 2 digits with carrying in one column, for a full week using every possible number combination the child will run into. The problem with these programs is the child forgetting what they have not worked on in a month. The parent must take care to provide their own review with many of these programs.
A favorite is Singapore Math. More affordable ones are the MCP Plaid series and Rod and Staff. MCP is simple to use and secular. Rod and Staff is also simple and is produced by the Mennonites. I use their Pre K program almost religiously! I found it when my David was 4. It is only $25 for a full Pre K curriculum, gentle, focused, family friendly. (There is only one page in the Bible Stories that needs editing for Catholic teaching.)
Back to Math. My very favorite for Kindergarten to 3rd grade in Abeka Arithmetic. I know I know--- Pensacola State the producer can be anti Catholic. However, nothing in the 4 levels is anti Catholic despite great efforts to include Scripture Quotes in Grade 3 and to show real world Math. Missionaries discussed travel all over the world in Grade 2 with a fun exploration of Geography. They cover interesting facts about animal sizes, tallest mountains, longest rivers, maps and graphs early in second grade. The workbooks are colorful without being cluttered.
Best for me is the use of the spiral method. Here new ideas are taught in small chunks, practiced over several weeks. Past ideas are not forgotten but are reviewed regularly. The available Speed Drill and Test book is very useful.
By Fourth grade we always have switched to Saxon Math. Often dreaded by moms without a math background it is always worth the time and money. It covers Mental Math. It has supplemental exercises for areas that are more difficult. It is very strong on word problems under the premise that in the real world ALL math is word problems. Consumer math, including tax and budgeting is done very well. In the upper levels Algebra and Geometry are not separated -- a unique aspect to their program. As soon as one learns an Algebraic formula its uses are taught. The new DIVE CD's available are getting good reviews. They show how every single problem is solved.
For my difficult Sarah I started Saxon at grade 3. She needed the intense one on one learning and I love the script like text--- I always knew what to do next. Grades K through 3 use lots of manipulates: hands on math. These include a clock, coins, flash cards, number blocks and a calendar the children. It can be tedious for mom and appears very time consuming when you have little one who need you! However now I only sit with her an hour a week! The intensity of that year paid off.
We tried something new the past 2 years: Teaching Textbooks. Its a text with a teacher on CDRom. David only uses the text except when stuck on a problem. He really wasn't challenged by math until doing Algebra II this year. Sarah does very well with the CDRoms: seeing the numbers on the virtual blackboard and hearing the teacher, being able to go back has been wonderful. The program also tracks her grade for me.
I have some issues with how the math is taught. I believe once they have been exposed to estimation they should use it to make the most educated choice in say long division. The teacher seems to be letting them guess. I also liked how Saxon teaches as though the child will study Algebra in the future: Ideas like adding the same number to both sides of an equation to solve for a missing number are not beyond most children. Teaching Textbook, in an effort to be gentle, babies them too long.

I have not attempted the high math despite the fact that my husband and I have both succeeded in Calculus, Physics and Chemistry. We have both also spent a lot of time with business math. My older 2 went to the public high school. Suddenly you have the same problem that keeps many from trying homeschooling: homework. Not knowing what technique the teacher is using, what was taught so far, not having access to the solution make parents less effective the once a week we are asked to help.

So congratulations Sarah! (Yeah me!) Thanks for putting up with me Jeff and Lissa!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Homeschooling 101

There will be days like this: one is sick, one forgot half her math, one is home from college and is trying to sleep in, one has PMS, one is disobedient................

Then the kids are having problems too.

Number one part of homeschool planning is planning for 'those days' so they become an opportunity instead of a drain. I had to learn this the first year we homeschooled. Not only did I have a babe in arms I became pregnant and had horrible morning sickness. Also my sister-in-law was getting married and we really wanted to help her have a special event.

Looking at your end goal helps with this. Our children need to grow up to be competent adults in areas beyond academics so focusing on housework, yard work, and cooking are all necessary over the course of their school year. We want them to be able to converse on many topics so focusing on Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, family history, current events and even sports help them become well rounded. These are also the types of activities that can both control the chaos in our homes and alleviate stressful times.

So lets make a list of things to do on one of 'those days' and give each other permission to set aside the Math and diagramming for a day. A longer list is available here in a post about handling summer boredom.

1) Go through your old music and teach the kids a dance move. Better yet just let them explore movement while listening. Play at least 3 different genres-- you don't have to stick with Classical or Christian.

2) Paint! Mom too! try just using blue and green water color. Sprinkle with salt while wet to have a beautiful ocean. (also works with dessert colors)

3) Bake and let them help. OK so its Lent: try tortillas, wheat bread, breakfast muffins or fill the freezer with treats for Easter.

4) Start seeds. I have a brown thumb, maybe even a moldy thumb but so what! If the seeds don't grow buy plants when its warmer.

5)Spring Clean Actually empty a room to sweep and clean. Let their voices echo! (I've always wanted to clean like this: My sister's Italian family did. It sounds so refreshing.)

6) Yard work DH tried this over the weekend. Raked just for the exercise in the spring weather and felt the stress easing.

7) Speaking of exercise: I don't. Well I have but rarely. Its time. A long walk would do me good.

Now I know what you are thinking. If you are stressed and loosing it you will end up yelling because of the mess or directions or something. Here is one trick I've used successfully:
I set them up doing something messy, fun, etc in the dining room with music playing. Big kids in charge of little kids. While they are busy I make several 5 minute visits to other rooms in the house for a quick pick up. First visit I pull out what doesn't belong like dirty laundry and dishes. Second visit general pick up. Third visit wiping or sweeping. I work my way from the top of the house down checking on them often.
As soon as I have the upper floors ready I have them start cleaning their mess (with my help )and tackle more of the first floor. Then a quick lunch or snack followed by outside play. Keep them out of the clean rooms for half an hour!. By then our souls are ready for a story, movie or rest during which the house stays clean, sometimes till dad gets home!
It doesn't always work-- today I didn't realize how much I needed our backup plan until it was too late. We used a simpler one. The young teens worked on the second floor away from little ones. The sicky sat on the couch and I took time to get myself clean and wash her laundry after her stomach settled. Our afternoon will be our library finds from yesterday. Simple yet school.

Remember when you have one of those days that you are teaching your children how to handle life. They are watching and learning. We have a special homeschooling gift when Life happens: summer. We have 365 days to finish our work and are not restricted to the school year. See this as gift rather than punishment and everything gets done.

Most of all spend time in prayer. Only God has the grace to help you through this calling: not the friend who homeschools or your husband, mom or sister. Only God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

May you have green lights, signs of spring, a strong sense of Christ's presense in your life, a song in your heart and a pint of Guinness to wash it down!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Blogiversay to me.

(and my godson turns 16!)

Its been 2 years. I do still love having a blog although I find myself very conflicted. The things I want most to write about stay in my drafts or in my head. And so I'll just post today a request to keep praying for my girls. Its going to be a long week over here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We did it!

The last page of our conference site is up--- our Speakers page!

Come and meet these amazing people!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kitchen Remodel The Last Post!

The kids kept saying "shiny!"

I LOVE IT! But I have to be patient and let the glass adjust to room temp from below zero weather be fore I can turn it on.


Niece's visit-- promised pics

We were able to babysit last Thursday! So fun!