April 29, 2015

Wednesday with Words: C.S. Lewis on Education

As I finished The Screwtape Letters, I was surprised in the back of my library's paperback by another short story, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast".  This was written well after the book itself, and has its own preface, which grabbed my attention.  C. S. Lewis used this "toast" to make a few points about the state of education in America at the time (1962).  He disguised it by having Screwtape  speak of education in England, so as not to offend the Americans.  HA.  What he had to say then is every bit as true now.  Here is what struck me in the preface to the toast.
In my view there is a sense in which education ought to be democratic and another sense in which it ought not.  It ought to be democratic in the sense of being available, without distinction of sex, color, class, race or religion, to all who can - and will - diligently accept it.  But once the young people are inside the school there must be no attempt to establish a factitious egalitarianism between the idlers and dunces on the one hand and the clever and industrious on the other.  A modern nation needs a very large class of genuinely educated people and it is the primary function of schools and universities to supply them.  To lower standards or disguise inequalities is fatal.
 If this sounds harsh, I would observe that the opposite policy is really devised to soothe the inferiority complex not of the idlers and dunces but of their parents.  Do not be in the least afraid that those who live out their school days - which would be brief - on the back bench of the lowest class will suffer any trauma when they see promotion and honors and official approval going to the diligent minority.  They are stronger than it.  They can punch its head and kick its stern.  All the distinctions they really care about - the popularity and the success in games - go not to it [the diligent minority] but to them.  They enjoy their school days very much.  Our real problem is to see that they impede as little as possible the purposes for which school really exists.
My, my, my.  I do believe we have reached the goal of having the young ones stay in school well past when they want to be done (age 18 laws, anyone?).  I think we have also lowered standards to fatal levels.  I don't think it sounds harsh, but I'm sure those who disagree with this truth do!  Especially the barb about soothing the parents, wow!  Tell us what you really think, Mr. Lewis.

Do you agree or disagree with his assertions?  What can be done now?  Is it too late?

April 27, 2015

Organization Details AO4

I've had some questions via social media on the details of my checklist, and I aim to please!  In case you missed it, here is the initial post: How I've Organized AO Year 4.

I have a subject or two you won't have (Seeing Stars, or typing, for instance) and you won't see Latin on there yet, which AO prescribes for Year 4.  But, you are welcome to take what you like and discard the rest.  I intend on changing from Seeing Stars to Latin, and incorporating dictation in with copywork (using Simply Spelling) by the end of the year.  Also, grammar may give way to Latin, depending on the program I choose.

I would like to just take the schedules on AO's website, print them and be done with the planning; maybe next year that will work.  However, our reality is that school (meaning table work and readings) is done in four days most weeks to allow for appointments and homeschool outings.  In addition, my son isn't up to speed as far as attention span and focus goes, so I have spread year 4 out over several more weeks that most will need to do.

With that said, this checklist is very simplified and can work, with slight modifications, for pretty much any elementary or maybe middle school year of AO (can't say, as I'm not there yet).  I have saved it as a Google Sheet, which looked funny, so also have the PDF version (screen shot above).  I'm slightly tech-challenged, so can't tell you if the PDF is editable or not, but the Sheet should be!

Below is what this lovely document looks like after being printed on our wonky laser printer (makes everything yellowish), stuffed in a sheet protector, and scribbled on with dry erase pencils.  This was last week's page, and you can see that I made Tuesday the 21st our "optional" day, and scooted Wed-Fri to the day 2-4 slots.  I didn't write the dates until I was ready to take the picture, and then only for record-keeping purposes.  Giant X's means we skipped it, day 4 says "paint class" at the bottom.  I filled in both the "nature study: draw" bubble and "handicrafts" bubble for that day for the paint class, as it was a pear.  I used a different color pencil each day as well, so you can tell when things happened out of order.  So there you go, in all its imperfect glory!

April 25, 2015

What are you selling?

Do you sell something?  What I mean is, are you passionate about a product or company, so much so that you signed on as a preferred customer, distributor, or ambassador?  I do love some companies, but don't seem to have the personality that makes one successful at a home business.  I think parents working from home at a MLM or other type of business is a great thing for families, and try to support them when I can.

I have been with Melaleuca* since 2007, and absolutely love their products and philosophy.  I have tried "doing" Melaleuca as a business twice, and was not successful.  But I am sold, and am a Preferred Customer who will not be giving them up anytime soon.  They have THE best lotion (Renew), laundry detergent (liquid, not the pods...I mean, they have them, but I don't use those), vitamins, supplements, environmentally friendly cleaning products, first aid products, sunscreen, candles....you get the picture. All recyclable packaging, smaller than what you'd expect because most things are super-concentrated, and healthy for you and your home. I don't go a day without their lip balm and vitamins.  If you want to know more, I can enroll you, too, after an online web presentation or phone call.  Easy peasy.

What brought this question of selling/promoting from home to my mind was a friend of mine posted her daughter drinking from a stainless steel straw, and I have been wanting some for a while now.  I asked about them and ordered them, and it led me to hosting a Facebook party for her friend, who is a Norwex consultant.  Now, Norwex is another environmentally-conscious company, who believes in chemical-free cleaning and low waste.  I've had the microfiber cloths below for a while now, along with the hair towel, and like them well.  If you want to give something a try, join my party!


I also am taking Plexus Slim, but am not an "ambassador" at this point.  I'm 3 months into it, and I do feel better, and my cholesterol numbers improved quite a bit, so don't knock it 'til you've tried it. :)

I am also a big fan of essential oils, or EO's.  I joined Young Living about 4 years ago as a distributor to get the best discount.  I need to place another order!  If you want to know more about EO's, there is a free online summit coming up soon, and you can sign up for freebies (books and videos) right now. It is NOT brand specific, so should be an excellent source of information.

I have ordered from Thirty-One, and a few others in the past...I'm sure the list of possibilities is quite long!  So...what is your favorite home business?  Do you run one yourself?

*None of the above are affiliate links.

Bread and Pears

Last Thursday, the Boy participated in Bake for Good (Kids): Learn Bake Share program sponsored by King Arthur Flour.  A co-op in a nearby county arranged it, and they had several sessions with 12 children each.  The goal was to teach kids something about baking while giving them an opportunity to do good.  In this case, the "good" was several loafs of bread for a local food pantry.   While waiting for dough to rise, cinnamon rolls and pizza were also made, and it smelled delicious.  The Boy did well for nearly an hour and half, then he had had enough, and we hung out a while longer, but left just before the end without eating anything.  Still, it was loud, there were new textures and new people, and even I was a bit overwhelmed, so his shutting down was understandable.

This Thursday, we had art class with the same children, for the most part, that we did watercolors with last month, in a familiar location.  He made it to the end, although I did the stem and the shading on his pear, because he was completely done with the sitting down thing.  Still, acrylic painting, with the drying time between layers, does take a while, and I think we both did awesome!  Next month the lesson is on mixed media, so should be interesting.

Art Class
Some may disagree, but to me, these are considered handicrafts.  He is making beautiful and/or useful things with his own hands.  One other activity that might be considered a handicraft that he does is computer coding.  My husband came across Code Kingdoms, and the Boy has played it 10-20 minutes three times this week.  Do you think coding should be considered a handicraft?

I'll be linking this to Learning By Hand at crossingthebrandywine.com!

April 24, 2015

30 Day Blog Challenge...is a Challenge!

So I missed blogging yesterday...and I missed at least two days last week.  But, even though I feel slightly like a failure on this, I have still posted much more often than I would have without the challenge.  So, is that success?  It is for me.  Sort of like these strawberry blooms after a frost.

My time has been spent waffling back and forth on why we are pursuing diagnosis for the Boy, having meetings and filling out lots of paperwork.  We had a parent meeting Wednesday, and the Boy has his own meeting with a learning specialist next Wednesday.  This includes an IQ test, which will give us a baseline, and some actual reading/writing/math tasks.  The discrepancy between the two will show there are learning difficulties, then she can hopefully determine what they are and what we can do about them.  I suspect dyslexia and auditory processing issues, in addition to dysgraphia and sensory issues and anxiety.

Apple tree blossoms
I struggle with feeling like I'm putting him through too many tests, and wonder what the purpose of all of it is.  Then other days, I just. need. to. know. if its me, him, or what.  Regardless of my feelings, we are pursuing anything that might help him, and putting of medications as long as possible.

Redbud tree
I've also been spending more time outside - after all, spring is here and some days are just gorgeous!  Yesterday evening, I had several plans, but the neighborhood kids came over to play, which doesn't work out very often, so we stayed.  They dug in the dirt, jumped on the trampoline and played "ninjas" in the playroom, so it was worth it.

Anyone know what this is?
School went pretty well this week, only one day with a real fit, and a few tears on another day.  He's busy learning how to use the weed-eater during free time, and trying to clear our drainage ditches out some.  Its nice to have a "man" about during the day. :D

This weekend we ought to have soccer games, but severe weather and possible tornadoes have been mentioned for tomorrow, and its cloudy already, so it may be an inside sort of Saturday.  I just hope its not a cower-in-the-bathtub-with-2-dogs-and-3-cats-and-3-humans sort of morning.

April 22, 2015

Wednesday with Words: The Screwtape Letters

I borrowed The Screwtape Letters from my library, as I haven't been able to find it used anywhere.  Luckily, its a fairly short book, but I still need to find it so I can read it slower.  On my first pass through, my impression is that C. S. Lewis is even more insightful than I realized (my only previous exposure being The Chronicles of Narnia, and random quotes).  I am loving this book because it is really making me think!

The premise of the book is that Screwtape is a devil, and uncle to another devil called Wormwood.  This uncle Screwtape writes letter after letter to Wormwood, advising nephew how to best pull this new Christian (the "patient") to which he was assigned to recover into "Our Father's House", meaning hell and away from the Enemy (God).  Right near the beginning, pg 8-10, is the crux of what pulls most of us away from God - distraction.
The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy's own ground... By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient's reason...Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favor, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences.  Your business if to fix his attention on the stream.  Teach him to call it "real life" and don't let him ask what he means by "real."
Screwtape goes on to give an example of where his "patient" was being persuaded by "The Enemy" and he was about to lose him, but because of his experience, he knew just what to do - he "struck instantly at the part of the man which [he] had best under [his] control, and suggested that it was just about time he [the patient] had some lunch."
...the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added "Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind," he was already halfway to the door.  Once he was in the street the battle was won.  I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man's head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of "real life" (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all "that sort of thing" just couldn't be true.  He knew he'd had a narrow escape, and in later years was fond of talking about "that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safeguard against the aberrations of mere logic." He is now safe in Our Father's house.
Doesn't that chill you to the bone?

April 21, 2015

Can Chiropractors Help Sensory Issues?

(I'm not an expert, just a parent of a son with SPD/anxiety, searching for answers.)

I have had my son at three different occupational therapy locations in 4 years.  At his current location, he is on his 4th therapist in 8 months, and this one will be having a baby soon.  So this will likely be his last month there, because it is really hard to gauge improvement in sensory issues at best, and constant changes make it impossible.  And frustrating.  But here is what I've seen.

Improvements I've seen since September:

  • less compelling during copywork
  • faster handwriting without a drop in legibility
  • fewer fits during school
  • ability to correctly fold laundry, at his own speed
  • will sometimes ask to try a new food (rare, but it has happened)

Things I was hoping for improvement in that I haven't seen:

  • better core strength
  • better pencil grip
  • wider variety of foods eaten regularly

As you can see, the changes we have seen are positive, but he isn't there yet.  I decided to see if there were other things we could do.
The outdoor crew
Our chiropractor had a free screening for kids back at Easter, and I took him, since he had started complaining about back pain on occasion.  While we didn't see any cause for that, the x-ray revealed some other minor issues that could be worked on.  But more exciting was the fact that this chiropractor has knowledge or neurological processes and did further testing regarding my son's brain and mismatched abilities.  He is right-handed and mostly right-sided, but he discovered that the left side of his body needs more activation to awaken the right side of his brain.  He now uses a balance board for several minutes, followed by core-strengthening exercises which we can do at home.  Then the chiropractor adjusts the left side only.  This is a twice a week appointment for about a month, then he will reassess and likely drop to weekly or less.  I'll try to post an update next month on this.

Regarding the diagnosis of Asperger's (or High-functioning Autism, aka Autism Spectrum Disorder), we are waiting, hanging out in nowhere-land.  He had an initial consultation with a therapist over a month ago, who referred him for diagnosis at 2 locations.  I am waiting for paperwork to show up from both of them, but do have a parent-only appointment at one this week.  I thought one was for dyslexia, but both places seem to be for autism, so that seems redundant, and I need to figure out what's going on!

April 20, 2015

Women Are Scary by Melanie Dale

Woman are Scary - The totally awkward adventure of finding mom friends

Women are Scary is about how to make friends as a mom.  Melanie Dale shows the stages of female friendship ("bases"), with tips on when and how to move onto the next "base".  She shares stories along the way that are relatable and usually hilarious to illustrate her points.  She is honest about how sometimes relationships fizzle out in first or second-base, and how a third or fourth-base relationship break can be painful and heart-breaking.  Included are tips on how to survive a break-up, heal from the past, and try again.  Bible verses are sprinkled throughout to back-up her perspective, and movie quotes kick-off each chapter.

I loved this book.  I read it in 2 days, and laughed out loud at least once per chapter, and sometimes multiple times a page. I could totally relate to her weirdness and sense of humor, as well as her oversharing tendencies, infertility struggles, and desire to save the world, one orphan at a time.  I appreciated her honest struggles in making friends, the great tips for how to meet moms and how to recover from failures.  More than anything, I was thankful for the laughs, and felt like she and I could be fourth-basers, if we only lived in the same area.  I began to think of the women in my life, and what base we are on, and which ones I might be able to take to the next level, and which ones I might just need to let die a natural death.  I thought about which friendships we could make couple friendships with, or at least give it a shot.

I recommend this book to any mom who has trouble with friendships or needs a good laugh.  I'm pretty sure that if you are a mom that you would fit into at least one of those categories, so check it out!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

April 15, 2015

Wednesday with Words: Idylls, Continued

I began my quotations from Tennyson's Idylls of the King here, so now I am up to Geraint and Enid.  Oddly, I highlighted nothing from that Idyll.  Balin and Balan is up next with this one quote, rather grim foreshadowing, in my opinion.  There wasn't much joy in this section at all, really.
Then turning to her Squire 'This fire of Heaven,
This old sun-worship, boy, will rise again,
And beat the cross to earth, and break the King
And all his Table.'

Merlin and Vivien was a maddening story, truly.  I wanted to scream at them both!  But here you go...
'They place their pride in Lancelot and the Queen.
So passionate for an utter purity
Beyond the limit of their bond, are these,
For Arthur bound them not to singleness.
 Brave hearts and clean! and yet--God guide
"Is that the Lancelot? goodly--ay, but gaunt:
Courteous--amends for gauntess--takes her hand--
That glance of theirs, but for the street, had been
A clinging kiss--how hand lingers in hand!
Let go at last!--they ride away--to hawk
For waterfowl. Royal game is mine." 
Dun, dun, DUN!!  Then, Merlin, in his "relationship" with Vivien, which led to his demise.
thus he grew
Tolerant of what he half disdained,
(By the way, each paragraph break means a totally separate quote.  I need to figure out how to put them in quote boxes to make it clear there is a lot of story between each.)
And Vivien ever sought to work the charm
Upon the great Enchanter of the Time,
As fancying that her glory would be great
According to his greatness whom she quenched.
I think ye hardly know the tender rhyme
Of "rust me not at all or all in all"
What did the wanton say?
"Not mount as high;" we scarce can sink as low:
For men at most differ as Heaven and earth,
But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell.
Not me, of course. (I'm level-headed and perfect. Haha!) But those other women out there.  Then spake Merlin:
Yea, they would pare the mountain to the plain,
To leave an equal baseness; and in this
Are harlots like the crowd, that if they find
Some stain or blemish in a name of note,
Not grieving that their greatest are so small,
Inflate themselves with some insane delight,
And judge all nature from her feet of clay,
Without the will to lift their eyes, and see
Her godlike head crowned with spiritual fire,
And touching other worlds. I am weary of her.'
 Weary of her he may have been, but he didn't run away screaming like he ought to have done!
Luna(r) moth, 2008.
(Posting because it was mentioned in Then They Were Five, which we just finished reading.)

April 14, 2015

Keeping Company: some more Stepping Heavenward

I am not in the mood for keeping company, LOL!  It has been rough getting our groove back after several days off for "spring break" while simultaneously pursuing therapies and diagnoses.  Then at my son's well-check today, he passed out after booster shots.  Argh!!!  But, anyhow, I committed to 30 days of blogging and missed yesterday due to my mind being in this funk, but maybe I can write my way back out of it...

I think going back to Stepping Heavenward (by Elizabeth Prentiss) is what I need. (Again here.) She knows about heartache and struggles, yet never gave up her faith, while questioning what that even means.  Without further ado, some quotes from chapter 6.
"If I give myself entirely away to Him and lose all ownership in myself, He may deny me many things I greatly desire.  He may make my life hard and wearisome, depriving me of all that now makes it agreeable." But, I reply, this is no matter of parley and discussion; it is not optional with God's children whether they will pay Him a part of the price they owe Him and keep back the rest.  He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have and all you are.  And if you shrink from what is involved in such a surrender, you should fly to Him at once and never rest till He has conquered this secret disinclination to give to Him as freely and as fully as He has given to you.
There is much more of this passage that I love, but to avoid copyright trouble, you'll just have to buy it and read the rest yourself. :)
If you find, in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was not perfect - that is, that your will revolts at His will - do not be discouraged, but fly to your Savior, and stay in His presence till you obtain the spirit in which He cried in His hour of anguish... 
There is one thing I can do, and that is to pray that Jesus would do for me what He did for the blind man - put His hands yet again upon my eyes and make me to see clearly.  And I will.
The story of that blind man is from Mark chapter 8 - which we just read for school yesterday.  Love connections like that!

April 11, 2015

How I've Organized AO Year 4

I tend to change the way I organize each school year - not really because it isn't working, but because I get bored with looking at the same. planning. pages. every. day.  I also change notebooks around because they get full, or don't get used at all.  Here are some changes I've made in the past month as we've eased into AO year 4.

I was using a paper planner for my week.  I would look at my spreadsheet for the term, check we were on track for the week we were on, and fill in the blanks for each subject at the end of the previous week while everything was still fresh in my mind.  I know many prefer Sunday evenings for this tasks, but by then I've forgotten what chapters we just read!

Anyway, I got tired of writing things down each week, so decided to print out the plans ahead of time.  I took one sheet of my spreadsheet for just the readings.  As you see below, I included the week number on the left, and five days in our week.  I put day numbers instead of Monday through Friday, though, so if we have a difficult day or field trip somewhere, we can do "day 5" on that day, which is just free reads in the reading slots, and stay on track.  This sheet is slid into a plastic page protector, so the markings you see are dry erase pencils.  I started off not checking things, but it was hard to remember when he started wanting to skip around, so by the third week, I was marking each item.  After week 4, I'll just print out the next part of the spreadsheet and can toss this one, or save for our physical records.

In the same page protector, on the other side, is the weekly sheet.  Day 5 here is marked as optional, but we can usually get a few check bubbles filled, even when other activities are happening.  I put the dates above for illustration purposes, and because I take a picture at the end of the 5 days for our records.

On the left is every single subject that we include in our homeschool.  An X means we didn't get to it, and the numbers in the "Maths" row are the lesson numbers (he takes about 2 days per lesson).  "DL" and "RS" in the "Spanish" row are DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone.  By each "Read", I have a suggested subject, but they don't always work out exactly - we follow the list above.  I placed Rosetta Stone on the same days as Typing and Singing, as all three of those are done on my computer, and I'd rather not have him on it often, but all at one shot.

I have a suggested focus area for Math Facts ($, addition/subtraction, and multiplication/division) but have not yet been consistent in this area.  "Read aloud" means he reads to me a page or two from a school book or poetry, his choice.  "Read alone" is reading a chapter in a simple chapter book to himself.  All other readings I am still reading aloud, including Shakespeare (twice weekly) and Plutarch.

Hopefully you can see the balance.  If he is going to play on the piano, its done after math to release tension that inevitably causes.  We choose  either timeline or map work, depending on what the readings that day ask for.  I have daily subjects mostly at the top of the page, but I also have this in an order we can follow from top to bottom.  We don't always go in that order, as I do let him choose, but if he's at a loss, I simply choose in this order.  I tried to evenly spread the subjects that are once or twice a week out so that about the same time is necessary each day, except Day 5.

 As you can see, we had a field trip and then a homeschool egg hunt in the same week, so things were skewed - it was a 3 day week, with day 4 completed this past Monday, April 6.  (Then he got 4 days of spring break!)  So, rather confusing, but it doesn't change the fact that we got it done, and always knew what was left to do!  The nice thing about this list is that I can simply wipe it after taking the photo and be ready for the next week without having to write *anything* down, and he is able to take ownership of the bubble-filling, which is good for his confidence and fine motor skills.

Now, in addition to my one sheet wonder above, I do have some notebooks.  We have a notebook just for math that we pull out daily, instead of a textbook and workbook.  I have a Spanish notebook with a nice curriculum printed out in it, but we aren't currently using it.  And then, I have a folder where I store art and music, which I'll say more about below, and a miscellaneous notebook where I store everything else, but only pull out about once a month.

This is what I started with - a place to keep the art prints when we were done with the artist.  I would use one page protector for 2 art prints, so the 6 prints of a term took only 3 plastic protectors.  It made for a nice little book, but the one inch binder was more than full after three years!  I didn't have a good system for hymns and folk songs, and didn't always print out the lyrics, but only some of them.  I took the ones from the past and put in the back of the folder above, then started anew.

 I found a graphic online and wrote my own for the binder's edge, so it makes me want to look at it. :)  Then I set to work on filling it.  First, I gathered all the hymn and folk songs and artist's prints from the past and current term.  I put the hymn facing forward, and the folk song facing backward in the same page protector, followed by a page of art prints.  In Ambleside Online, there is a hymn and folk song scheduled each month, and 6 prints per 12-week term, so it works out great!  This way, he can look back and see previous artwork and have his memory jogged by the music pages.  Here's a couple pictures where I am trying to help you see what I'm talking about.

I hope that helps some of you!  I realize that with multiple children, the bubbled checklist may take some tweaking, but I think if each child had their own it might work okay.  I think you'd only need one Art & Music binder for the family, so it might work out as described, unless your children expect their own as keepsakes.  What do you think?

April 10, 2015

Crumbled Plans

Yesterday and today did not go as planned.  At all.  Instead of rocketry day camp yesterday, which was cancelled due to threat of rain, so we had a stay at home day with two different neighbor kids over at separate times, and a chiropractic appointment.  Did you know that chiropractic care can help connect the left and right side of the brains, which helps with "cross-talk" and can improve the symptoms of sensory issues and autism?  I didn't know that until this week, and now we are giving it a try for the boy. So, yesterday was relaxing, with plenty of time to read, but still not the kid-free day I had hoped for.

This guy had no trouble relaxing, either.
Today, my homeschool group was supposed to go to the zoo.  Nearly every family that had committed to come backed out due to illness, so we cancelled that trip.  I am babysitting some for some friends, so it worked out for the best, as they can be hard to handle in public.  But sometimes I just want the well-laid plans to happen!

However, I try to be flexible.  I think not being a foster parent for a year and half now has gotten be out of the habit of being super-flexible!  Anyway, we hung out inside until the dew dried off the grass, and they started running in and out of the house.  A neighbor came over to play, I fed them all lunch and then we headed to a large playground where they played hard for well over 2 hours.  The cloudy and windy day turned quite beautiful!

Saturday is opening day for the local community soccer teams, so we will be getting plenty of outdoor time then as well, followed by lunch and maybe some relaxing screen time before they head back outside.  As much as the boy complains about having "the girls" I babysit around, he loves playing with them and will be sad when they go tomorrow evening. ;)

Tomorrow I plan on writing about my recent reorganization of our school notebooks, specifically what I do with picture study prints and lyrics for hymns.  So check back!

April 9, 2015

What I'm Reading

I like to use GoodReads to keep track of my own reading.  Its nice to be able to easily update my progress, share reviews, and see what my friends, both near and far, are reading or wanting to read.  Its nice to look back and see how many books I've read, and what categories they were in.  Although I often feel that I'm not spending very much time reading, I can easily see that those bits are adding up!  My yearly goal this year was 60 books, and I've already completed 25, so I'm on track!  (GoodReads actually tells me I'm 9 books ahead.) How are you making it towards your goals?

Below is my current list of books.

Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome - finished this last night
The Good Master - current bedtime read-aloud
Richard II - current Shakespeare read-aloud, about twice a week for 10-20 minutes
Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old- I've read all the bits about ten year olds, and will come back to it in a few months
What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger - reading with my son on occasion.  I need to try to finish it soon to get it off the list.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad - our current financial book, that I read whenever my AO schedule leaves a slot open (as in, we do 3 school reads a day, not counting Bible, Shakespeare or Plutarch, so if there are only 2 on a certain day, I read some of this book)
The Everlasting Man - doing a slow read and book discussion over at AO
The Iliad - I've been over halfway through for a long time on this epic poem.  I started with a book discussion group, got behind and quit completely, but I do intend to finish!
The Handbook of Nature Study - I've read quite a bit of this huge book.  Its nature study training for me, full of good information and questions to present to the student for deeper observation and thinking
The Message Remix - a contemporary Bible, which I started last year and only read on occasion
How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading - another book discussion title, which we are making steady progress on and will finish in July!
Pocketful Of Pinecones: Nature Study With The Gentle Art Of Learning: A Story For Mother Culture - another one I started then set aside, but do intend to complete
Democracy in America - a more difficult read that I may not realistically get back to for a long while, but the desire is still there
Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation - this is a great parenting book, but I may not finish until I'm done reading up on asperger's/autism, as that's our current focus at my house
This Country of Ours - our American history school book
When Children Love to Learn - a highly recommend CM-ish book that I have as an ebook, which makes it harder for me to remember to read, LOL, but I will get 'er done!
Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition - I'm co-leading the AO book discussion on this, and enjoying it very much
Watership Down - this is such a fun story, and my second time through, this time with a group at AO
Trim Healthy Mama - I've pretty much read everything but the recipes, and am doing those a little at a time (I despise cooking but am trying to overcome!)
Endangered Minds: Why Children Dont Think And What We Can Do About It - a Christmas gift that I started immediately but haven't continued as enthusiastically.  Which is no reflection upon the book at all.
Simply Grammar: An Illustrated Primer - we've been going through this for over a year now, slowly.  Taking a break for MadLibs games this spring ;)
Our Young Folks' Plutarch - we are actually using the North translation with Anne White's study notes for school, but that's not on GoodReads, so this is what I put there instead, after starting it  last term
Formation of Character - CM's volume 5, being lead by an AO superstar ;)

Here is my reading challenge page - feel free to add me as your friend :)

April 8, 2015

Wednesday with Words: Tennyson Take 2

Last week I shared some of Tennyson's Idylls of the King.  I have finished the epic poem, just as we began reading Tennyson as our poet for term one of AO year 4.  I had read very little of him before, but after reading the Idylls and the first few of the AO chosen poems, I can say that I do like his style.  So without further ado, here are a couple of my favorites so far, in honor of April being National Poetry Month.  (Its also autism awareness month, occupational therapy appreciation month, and more, but I'll save that focus for another day!)

The Oak by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Live thy life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;
Then; and then
Soberer hued
Gold again.
All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough,
Naked strength.

I think I'm in the mid-to-late-summer of my life ;)  but maybe he is really just talking about the tree...

I also liked this one, possibly because we have been watching a live web cam of eaglets hatching lately. (See the nest here.)

The Eagle
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
   Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his m mountain walls,
   And like a thunderbolt he falls.

April 7, 2015

History in the Making

Today, school consisted of a field trip to Louisville to watch history in the making.  Our U.S. Senator announced his run for the presidency!  We carpooled with a group to increase the fun factor, and enjoyed lunch out after the event.

My husband is a fan of politics - he watches election returns like other people watch ballgames.  I'm SO not kidding!  I find it unusual, but it takes all kinds. ;)  He met Senator Rand Paul in 2006 through the Lion's Club in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and credits that meeting for sparking a renewed interest in the political machine.  They kept in touch, and he helped Rand with his senate campaign a few years ago, and then became chairman of our local Republican party.  He read Rand Paul's books, and Ron Paul's books, too; he is not typically a reader, so that's saying something.

Fast-forward to today.  We were invited to the announcement event, and got to be in the VIP room before the main event, which meant there was coffee and Rand came in and worked the room and was in lots of pictures.  After VIP time was over, we were all funneled into the main ballroom of the Galt House Hotel, where we waited some more before the videos, pledge, anthem, prayer and speeches began.  At long last, Kelly Paul spoke, then the man himself.  I was in the hallway by that point, as The Boy had to use the restroom, but I could still hear everything. :) I made sure my son heard the announcement itself, which was at the tail-end of the speech.

Here is the Facebook photo album that I began today and will continue over the next 18 months or so.

Below are a few pictures over the years to commemorate this day.


April 6, 2015

Mondays are H.A.R.D.

D.... diabolically? disasterously? I cannot think of what the 'D' could stand for!  Hmmm.

But the point still stands.  After a weekend of too much screen time and not enough structure, Mondays hit my son hard.  He can't just "go with the flow" like some kids can - whether its the possible Asperger's, the anxiety of expectations, or the sensory possibilities of working on paper, or a combination - its just very hard.  Last week I tried the field trip on Monday, but that threw off the schedule and caused issues all week, so not only was Monday hard, but Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

AO Week 3 nearly done!  I love my high-tech dry erase pencil method.

So what can be done to ease the transition from weekend to weekday?  Many ideas include having less freedom and more structure on the weekend, but those don't sound appealing to me at all, and since my husband is usually home on the weekend, it wouldn't work at my house.  That's not to say there is no structure at all, but there's nothing that looks like work other than non-negotiable chores.  No mandatory reading or writing, in other words.

The Boy in one of our many trees
Another set of ideas includes making Monday special in some way.  A hot beverage or special treat after morning chores, as the school day begins, for instance.  I'm thinking an extra cup (pot?) of coffee might help me in the short term, but I can't think of a thing for The Boy.  We did hot chocolate several times in the winter, but it wasn't a Monday special, so the it lost its novelty.  I'm thinking maybe a cartoon or something, followed by a nature walk might help him ease into things but even that will take some getting used to.  

What have done to make your Monday less H.A.R.D.?

April 5, 2015

Week in Review

Monday was a field trip to the Kentucky Museum, located on the campus of Western Kentucky University.  I actually worked in the Special Collections library there too many years ago. :)  We took a tour of the Felts Log House, where the guide told the kids about living in Kentucky 200 years ago.  

They made beeswax candles, then went back to the museum where they learned a bit about the Civil War, and how Kentucky was a "border state" at that time, and Bowling Green was the Confederate capitol of Kentucky, but there were still Union citizens living there...albeit uncomfortably!

I enjoyed the tour, and was glad the Bowling Green homeschool group arranged for it.  Tuesday was occupational therapy and school work; Wednesday was more school work, then his weekly trip to Ma & Pa's, where he watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 via Netflix. 

 We did school work Thursday, then Friday was the egg hunt and fun with Nana and Grandpa, including a local magic show.  He got to go on stage for a "dance party" and then for the final trick, turning a rat into a rabbit.

Saturday he got to hunt Easter eggs, and the weather was just perfect, which was a relief after 2 days of rain and thunderstorms.

View from the bridge on our road - pretty flooded!  Its back to normal now.