Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I hope everyone has been having a lovely holiday. We sure have. I won't get into all the details of Christmas except to say that Cassia got her stitches out on Christmas Eve morning with no incident and that the two most played with gifts, so far, are a $2 balloon pump and a $5 bag of dinosaurs, lol. Well, that's not entirely true. The Star Wars LEGOs have seen a good deal of play (like ALL of Christmas day) and Dance, Dance Revolution has been played for at least an hour every single day. But I can't help noticing how much they play with the little stuff when I see how much some other people spend on Christmas.

I was looking at some old pictures of my mom's the other night, from when I was two and three, and I could not believe the huge pile of presents under the tree. I mean, I remember Christmas always being a huge gift frenzy and filled with excess, but to actually see it as an adult and as a mother... well, it just surprises me. And it makes it worse to know that she really put herself into debt to do that. It always amazes me when people think that giving their children everything - to excess and to the detriment of themselves - is good parenting. I don't know. I guess I shouldn't judge but it just seems to me that so many evils of the world could be alleviated by practicing a little control. There is such a trend now toward excess and towards waste and.... ok, I'll step back off the soap box now. ;)

Anyway, DH has had the week off so we haven't done much of anything but hang out. Wednesday he did go in for a few hours and as soon as he left Cassia started asking to do school. So we learned the letter "P" and I told her she had earned her Dance Revolution time, lol. She looks so cute when she tries to play. She doesn't concern herself with hitting the right steps in the slightest; she just dances like crazy. Later Cameron did a couple pages of science (two on identifying plant parts and half of a review (about 4 pages) from the mammal, bird, fish, and insect chapters that I had skipped because it was too long and boring looking) and a math exercise on adding tens and ones to make a number between 20 and 40 (30 + 7 = 37; 20 + 3 = 23). He never really *got* that concept with the teens, but it came easily this time.

One thing I've been wondering about his math is when to start drills. The Well-Trained Mind suggests starting addition drills right away. John Holt suggests avoiding them altogether. I think I'll most likely take a middle ground there, but I still wonder when they will be of greatest benefit. I mean, John Holt seems to be right. If I just introduce the knowledge and let it soak, he plays around with the numbers and concepts himself and eventually wraps his mind around the concept. He *knows* that 5 and 5 make 10 because he sees it on his hands every day. He *knows* that one more than a number is the next counting number because he's played around with these concepts in so many ways. But he doesn't *know* that 5 plus 3 is 8 unless he counts it. He doesn't know all those pairs that add up to ten, which are so very important in mental math. Singapore Math doesn't really provide any drills. Most people who use Singapore, it seems, supplement with something more "drilly" - even in Singapore, they supplement their math program. I doubt he could handle more repetition on paper, but I could try introducing some drill games at some point. I'm just not sure when the benefit will outweigh the headache, you know? Also, I'm pretty sure he will just *get it* at some point. But is it more beneficial to just wait for it or gently ease him into it?

So there are my two deeps thoughts for the day. ;)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

We had an absolutely fabulous time today, celebrating with our favorite park friends. It was one little boy's 4th birthday (actually on Christmas Eve) and his parents brought a birthday cake (shaped like a Civil War cannon!!) and some snacks. Really nice time. Practically all of our favorite people showed up (with one notable exception, G!), so it was especially nice. Actually, you know what was really nice? BOTH of his parents were there. Usually it's just his dad, but today Mom came too. The party yesterday too, BOTH parents were there. On a weekday, in the middle of the morning or afternoon, BOTH parents think it is important enough to come to a 4th birthday party with a bunch of homeschoolers. How cool is that?

On the more mundane side, Cameron did 2 exercises in math (3 pages). The first two pages were reading the number word and matching it with the number, so I kind of counted that as reading too. Cassia wanted to do school as well, but we ran out of time. We brought her phonics book to the park with us because she said she wanted to do that instead of playing, lol. Needless to say, we never got to it.

I spent a lot of time at the park talking to a man who is going to think I am insane. We've been talking astrology (don't laugh) and it turns out that I've been feeding him incorrect information for weeks, lol. Mommy Brain and all. (Sorry Maria, but I DO have Mommy Brain. I have no other excuse for this mush of information in my head.) I finally realized on the way home today that the reason he thinks I am this huge paradox is because I was 3 hours off on my birth time. I was going on and on today about how guilty I felt that I couldn't remember Cassia's and Greyson's birth times, but then I realized (much too late) that I was giving him Cassia's for mine. D'oh! And this was after I corrected him today on the time too! I am such a mush head, lol. Oh well. If he doesn't appreciate it, then well, I guess he wasn't the friend I was looking for, right?

Ah, the freedom of being in secular blogger space. LOL, now you guys will know the freak I really am. ;)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Let me start off this post for Thursday with a recap of what happened Wednesday night.... The kids were watching The Wizard of Oz. DH wasn't home from work yet so we had eaten dinner at the coffee table while we watched. They were done eating, the movie was over, and the "Making of" documentary at the end of the video was playing. Cameron and Cassia were not very interested in that. They were interested in running through the dining room, jumping off the small step into our sunken living room, and seeing how far they could slide across the floor, lol. Greyson was sitting on my lap eating pieces of smooshed up carrot from my beef stew. I kept saying, be careful of that table! Someone's going to get hurt! Slow down! etc, etc. Do they listen?? (I bet you think you know where this story is going.) Suddenly - from the OTHER side of the house - I hear a huge thump. And then a scream. It was that scream that sounds different from your ordinary scream. You know the one.

So I dash into the dining room to see Cassia sitting on the floor looking quite shocked with blood running down her face. She had run full speed into the sliding glass door and split her forehead open. Not pretty. Not pretty at all. It was obvious she was going to need stitches, so I grabbed a washcloth, had her press it to her forehead, and piled everyone into the car. I called DH on my way out, to let him know where we were headed, and he said he was just a few blocks away so we waited. Now, the smart thing to do at this point, would've been for me and the boys to get out of the car and let DH take her alone, but we didn't. We all went.

Once there and checked in, we realized that it was late and really pointless for us ALL to be there so I called my mom and asked if she could babysit. Cameron really didn't want to leave. He had been so sweet, trying to take care of Cassie and telling her that it would be ok. When he found out that he wasn't going to get to stay with her, he just burst into tears. Not in a temper tantrum way, but in a heartbroken and devastated way. He had the sympathy of every person in the waiting room after that. I have to say that it's nice to have all eyes on you because your child is being so sweet. I took the boys home, tucked them into bed, drove back to the hospital, and found that Cassia had already been in and out and they were just waiting for me to get back.

Apparently, she was very, very brave and didn't move an inch when they told her to hold still. They showered her in stickers and little stuffed toys and the whole staff waved to her as we left. Such charmers I've raised, lol. Anyway, she got seven (!) stitches. We have to call the Urgent Care on Christmas Eve morning to make an appointment to have them removed.

And that was our excitement for the month, I hope.

Thursday was not nearly as interesting. ;) We went to a birthday party for one of our friends from the park. They decorated clove oranges, frosted their own cupcakes, played with LEGOs and Polly Pockets, and held Misty the Mouse (real mouse). The parents stood around and discussed standardized testing, the Solstice, Santa Claus, and hospital horror stories. We all had a nice time. Then we had to rush off to gymnastics after a quick trip through the drive-through. (Nothing like topping off 11am cupcakes and candy canes with a nice healthy cheeseburger, lol.) Nothing too exciting there except that I think I finally realized that Cameron will never be on the gymnastics team. He is such a klutz sometimes, lol. He is way more interested in finishing first (and pushing past anyone who might get in his way and slow him down) than in doing the skills correctly. I need to find a track team for him, I think.

OK, that's it for me for this morning. We're off to yet another birthday party today (Friday). It's good to have friends. :) But I do have the feeling that there will be no schoolwork done, yet again. I guess I should call this week Christmas Break. LOL.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Monday, December 18 through Wednesday, December 20, 2006 has not gotten above 50 today and that is COLD for this California girl! But did you really come here to hear me whine about our comparatively moderate weather? I thought not. I hate when I go so many days without blogging. I totally forget what we did. And that is exactly why I do blog... so I don't forget all the wonderful things that we've done.

Let's see... Monday we went to this Imagination Station thing with S5. It basically just a big room with a bunch of toys, dress-up clothes, and art supplies. It's a fun place and the kid really love it. I just can't help feeling ripped off, you know? There's a store in the front too
that sells all the stuff - like the place play is just the back half of the store - so I always wonder why I have to pay to come play with their sample toys. I guess it wouldn't irk me so much except that they charge for everyone... adults, babies, everyone. So, yes, I had to pay $3 to bring my INFANT into the play place so that I could carry him around. He was playing with a tambourine for a little while, but he was just too young for most of the stuff, including the toddler area. It just screams of greed to me. But since we had 5 kids altogether, we got a special playgroup price and it only cost $13 for our whole family, instead of $18, but it still feels like a rip-off.

Sunday, while DH and I were frantically trying to get our Christmas cards and family DVD finished (yes, I know we procrastinate!) the poor, neglected children were left in front of the tv watching movies pretty much all day. Bad idea. They were total maniacs when Grammie came over for dinner that night. Anyway, that has resulted in a "no movie" rule during the day now. Monday, I just had to keep them occupied until 12:30 when we were leaving to go meet S5, but Tuesday that meant allllllll day. I didn't realize how much I had been giving in to "just one short movie" until I was saying "No" to it all day. When they asked to watch tv, I just told them that we could read books or do school instead. Cameron chose a book and Cassia chose school!

We read a Max & Ruby book - not exactly great literature, but it kept them interested. Then Cassia and went to go do her schoolwork. I feel guilty because she is so close to finishing EB1A but I keep avoiding it, lol. The next lesson is one with measuring volume with cups of water. I remember when Cameron did that one. It was SO much fun.... but it was a mess and a big ordeal. I just don't feel like a mess and an ordeal right now, lol. So we started her next ETC primer. She learned the letter "p."

After that I told Cameron that it was his turn. He still wasn't really into it, but he played video games with DH over the weekend without doing any work for it, so he was in a schoolwork deficit. He did two exercises in math: the last one on picture graphs and then we started on the "numbers up to 40" chapter. The biggest problem he had was in how to circle groups of 10! He would count the items in such a squiggly way that it was almost impossible to circle them correctly. After lots of erasing, he finally got it, I think. Next we did one phonics lesson. It was long /o/ words like so, pro, yo-yo (he liked that one). He dissolved into the sillies about a quarter of the way into it so it took about ten times longer than it should have. Every single word was turned into some silly made up thing ("whiz" was read "whipping cheese" etc) but we eventually got through it.

Since he was in a school work deficit, we had to do double school. We had already done double math and double phonics was NOT looking feasible so I pulled out the science. The activity book (which I had previously thought was too classroom-y and not activity-y enough) provided a wonderful activity for a drizzly day. It was a leaf hunt where the teacher provided 4 leaves and the students compare and contrast them and then go in search of the plants from which they came. Cameron just loved that. I wonder if you can turn reading into a scavenger hunt too, lol. One day last week, Wednesday I'm thinking, we did another fun activity from there which I think I forgot to blog about. We sectioned off the front and back yards into 5 different area and then studied the diversity in each area. I was surprised at the results. The kids were surprised that the green fuzzy stuff growing on the bricks was really a plant, lol.

Today, Wednesday, we didn't do anything but park day. Man it was cold out there, but the kids needed some good running around time. The rest of the day the silly monkeys have just been playing Star Wars with the LEGO characters and singing Christmas songs. Their current favorites are "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." Cassia thinks it's absolutely hilarious that Mommy would kiss Santa, lol.

And that's the biweekly update from BermLand. Satisfied Maria??

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The week ending December 15, 2006

December 13, 2006

This time, I am blaming my lack of blogging entirely on hsblogger. This is annoying.

It's been a pretty slow week. Wednesday, I was getting ready to do science with Cam and he was playing with a clove-orange that Cassia had made at the 4-H party. There was a bell on one end and a bow on the other. While I was flipping through the science workbook, trying to find the pages that corresponded to the plant section that we had read ealier, and Cameron pipes up with, “Hey, the bell is like the flower and the bow is like the stem!” :O Wow isn't that a fine bit of applying abstract knowledge to real life! (Or is that applying real knowledge to abstract parts of life?)

Cassia did some work in her Get Ready for the Code book. She zoomed through half a dozen pages again and now only has four left. DH is going to buy the kids a dance mat video game for Christmas, so it may soon be time for her to start earning video game time by doing schoolwork too. I've heard this particular game is great cardio, so they will basically be earning PE time, lol.

December 14, 2006

Thursday, we started the day bright and early with dentist appointments. No cavities (yay!), but Little Miss Cassia has some chips on her front teeth from biting ice cubes!! Maybe she'll finally listen when we tell her not to do that. After that we went to the library. Cassia got a TON of books, lol. She just walked over to the picture books and started filling her arms. How could I say no? Greyson got a book on smiles and one on cars. For Cameron, I picked up an easy reader about a girl who loves to do math! I figure that a story about his favorite subject just might interest him a little more than just plain reading. Their movie choices were very good this time: Horton Hears a Who and The Wizard of Oz.

Next we ran home for a quick bite to eat and then went back out for gymnastics. It was testing day in Cameron's class. He did really good on the skills, but in between his actual tests, he was a crazy man. He almost got hurt a couple of times because he and this other boy were trying to outdo each other in craziness. Little monkeys! Meanwhile, Cassia was playing in the toddler area with a bunch of foam letters. She picked up a P and named it correctly! We haven't done P yet!! Cameron did his math during Cassia's class – picture graphs, very simple. I really wish he would do more than one exercise at a time when they are that easy, but I don't really want him dreading math work either. I guess it's better for it to be too easy some of the time than drudgery all of the time. He did some phonics once we got home... more long vowel review. He's doing really well with it. He read a three paragraph story without complaining about the length even once. He was being very silly at points during it – especially because one of his friends' names was in the story – but he probably read 15 or 20 sentences and he read them well. I am very proud of him.

December 15, 2006

Cassia finished her Get Ready for the Code (Book A) today!! She seems to be having a bit of trouble remembering the difference between “k” and “t” but she can tell you that king, key, and kitty all begin with the /k/ sound. Likewise, she knows what words start with the /t/ sound and can point to the “t” when you ask which letter makes that sound, but she also points to the “t” for “k” words. I guess it is a similar sound. She can pick out the right letter on the second try though. Next she went on to her math book. She's almost done with that one too! She did the lesson where you have a bucket of water and several different sized and shaped containers and have to find which holds more. She had the exact same problem with it that Cameron had when he did it, so long ago, lol. I thought she might have a better grasp on the concept since it is the exact same thing that we've been doing with the Lentil Science, but she still assumed that the overflowing container held more. I guess it has something to do with the wording or something. Maybe it's the way the pictures are drawn that confuse them? Anyway, she seemed to understand it with a little explanation.

Cameron waiting until much later in the day to do his schoolwork. First we did another short, easy, two-page exercise in math on graphing. The one thing that impressed me was that he was actually reading the labels on the graphs. I would read the problem, “There are ____ fewer angelfish than swordtails,” and he would look at the graph – without my ever having read the labels to him – and give me the correct answer. I made a point of telling him how useful being able to read was to him at that point. He denied that he was really reading, but I say that counts. Next we did science. We did about 4 workbook pages on plant parts. Some of those Singapore plants are strange! LOL, it made it a challenge at times, but we made it through.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Well, this is it. I am leaving and moving my blog here.

I created this blog, almost a year and a half ago, because I was never truly comfortable with the conservative Christian viewpoint of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine but that never became an issue with their blogging site. But now, each upgrade they employ puts yet another barrier on my blogging abilities. First, I just had to use a different browser to add new entries, but now I can't even do that. I am tired of trying. I did enjoy the security of being in a place that only other homeschoolers populated, but now it is time to "come out" and join the real world. Time to socialize with the general public, lol.

Here is a link to my archives. Maria is right: too much effort to manually move them here. I'm much too verbose for that. ;) I am going to miss the smilies though.... but they got rid of the good ones anyway and that's probably the REAL reason I'm leaving!!!