Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Pen and an Electronic Thesaurus

When I went to the SouthEast Homeschool Convention, I had the pleasure of hearing Andrew Pudewa speak. One of the sessions I went to was entitled " Reaching the Reluctant Writer." Most of his talk was extolling the benefits of using IEW curriculum to teach writing. After seeing how The Boy's writing has improved over the past 2 years using IEW through co-op, I was already sold on the program.

There were 2 points, however, that were extremely interesting to me.
  1. An electronic dictionary/thesaurus will increase the desire to use interesting words, especially for boys. The Boy loves anything electronic, so this might keep him from huffing and puffing when I ask him to either a) look up a word in the dictionary or b) find a synonym to use in his writing.
  2. Allow a child to write in pen, rather than pencil. Neurologically, pencils change as they're being used. This explains why my small people are CONSTANTLY needing to have their pencils sharpened. They really aren't trying to annoy me. Also, when a child complains that their hand is tired or hurts from writing, it is probably due to visual immaturity. Their eyes need to see darker lines, so they press harder with the pencil - tiring their hand and causing them to need to sharpen their pencil more often. Pens give them the darker lines they need to see.
Since I returned from the conference, I've allowed the small people to do certain subjects in pen and have noticed a difference in the complaining about having to write. Math, of course, is a pencil-only subject, as are handwriting practice and spelling.

When I order our curriculum for next year, I will also be purchasing an electronic thesaurus. I'm positive that The Boy will love it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Final update on Ouch! (I hope!)

At 4:45 this afternoon, I received a call from the pediatrician's office. The Boy's x-ray came back normal. Praise the Lord!

I asked about him being able to play soccer, since I knew that is all he would care about. The answer, "If he feels like playing, let him play. If it starts to hurt, pull him out and put his foot up."

So pretty much we need to do what we have been doing; we just got to pay a whole lot of $$ today to be told that. Oh, well. I'd rather know than have him do further damage to his foot if there had been something wrong.

Update on OUCH!

So, my friend Heather saw the pictures I posted of The Boy's foot and sent me a message last night that we might want to get that puppy x-rayed to make sure none of the little bones in his foot are broken. Looking at it again this morning and seeing that it is still swollen and still quite colorful, we thought that was a good idea. Off to the doctor's office I went, with all 5 of the small people.

We get to the pediatrician's office at 8:20 and there is already a line of about 10 people waiting for the door to be unlocked, all of whom look like they have various stages of yuckiness. We stand off to the side and wait for just a few minutes before the doors are opened. All of the people ahead of us begin to pile into the sick waiting room. Praying that the answer will be "yes", I go into the well waiting room, explain to the receptionist why we are there, and ask if we can sit on the well side since he isn't sick. Praise the Lord, her answer was, "Of course." I fill out the necessary forms, and then we have nothing more to do except wait. The television in the waiting room was tuned to Nick Jr, and the girls were soon transfixed watching The Fresh Beat Band, which just added to The Boy's misery since he really doesn't like that show.

Finally we're called back to a room and seen by the student doctor, who pretty much just tells us that she can't tell us anything and the doctor would need to see it. Yep, figured that. More waiting for the doctor to come in. He comes in, tells us some soccer stories, and asks who thinks we need to take pictures of his foot. The Boy's sarcastic answer, "My mom already took pictures of it," knowing full well that the doctor meant x-rays. We're given an order for x-rays and sent over to the hospital.

Thankfully, we were able to walk right into outpatient registration and start getting registered. Unfortunately, the doctor didn't write a diagnosis on the order so they can't complete the registration process without that. We get to wait some more while they try to get in touch with the doctor's office for a diagnosis. On the order was written "Right foot x-ray. Hurt playing socccer" (yes, there were 3 c's). The all-important diagnosis they were waiting for: "Right foot injury". I'm not a doctor, but I don't really see much difference besides the wording.

We finally are registered and she walks us over to x-ray. More waiting. Did I mention that I have ALL FIVE small people with me? Actually all of them were really good, either reading books or talking quietly, during all of our waiting. The only one that got impatient was the littlest, who at 3 shouldn't be expected to be patient for all of this. The x-ray itself took no time at all. The technician let me look at the images, and I couldn't see anything, but again, I am not a doctor. She said that the doctor will need to look at it, write a report, and send the report over to The Boy's doctor. She said this could take as many as 3 business days before we hear from the doctor. Seriously??? With all the fancy technology available to us today, they can't tell me today if something is wrong with his foot? And yes, I am aware that it has already been 5 days since he injured it so it obviously wasn't a major issue, but still.

Leaving the hospital, it is pouring rain. I leave the small people in the entry area, and I run to go get the van. I pull up under the overhang, and they all start climbing in - The Boy in the front and the girls in the back. The Boy closes his door and Sassy Pants starts screaming. Her fingers are shut in his door. We get the door open, look at her fingers, and establish that she is fine but her fingers will be bruised and sore. It is always an adventure for our family.

Truth be told, this morning could have been so much worse. We were home by 11:45, so only 3 hours and 15 minutes spent dealing with this. It could have taken longer. The small people could have been poorly behaved during all of that waiting, but they weren't. I am so very proud of them!

As we were driving to the doctor's office this morning, I realized I had forgotten my camera. So no pictures. I'm disappointed; The Boy's ecstatic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ouch!

Last Friday night, The Boy was playing soccer with the U12 All Star team. During the scrimmage, his foot was stepped on. If you've never been stepped on by a foot wearing soccer cleats, it is PAINFUL! By the time Robb brought him home, his foot was pretty swollen and turning purple. We immediately put ice on it and elevated it. He spent the rest of the night with his foot up in the air.

Saturday morning, the swelling and bruising looked better, and he said that it didn't hurt nearly as bad as it had the night before. So, we let him play in his Upward game that morning. He wasn't able to shoot with the top of his foot, but he could with the inside and he scored 2 goals for his team that way. When we got home, his foot was starting to swell again, so we did a little more elevation for it.


Sunday afternoon, he had 2 games with the Select team. In the first game, his foot was stepped on AGAIN in the first half. Since it was a "friendly" game and didn't count for the conference they're in, he sat out most of the 2nd half. In the 2nd game, he played - a lot. A couple of times he shot the ball or ran into someone and grimaced. I could tell he was in pain, but there was no way he was going to go out of the game unless he was forced.

Monday morning, his foot looked worse than it did Friday night. The bruising was all down the inside of his foot and across the top. Here are pics of it Monday morning.



We have been very blessed. This is the worst injury he has had from playing soccer, and he's been playing for 7 years. I know that soccer is a contact sport, and the opportunity for injury is pretty good. The fact that this is the worst he's had, and it is fairly minor, is indeed a blessing.

Ballerina's stocking

I finally finished Ballerina's stocking earlier this month. Well, technically it isn't finished. It still needs to be sewn into a stocking. I, however, don't know how to sew, so I have to have someone else finish that part. I am SO very happy that my part is done, though. For a while, I thought it would never be finished, especially as I was toiling over the million or so French knots and the very detailed backstitching. Please ignore how wrinkled it is; I need to wash and iron it before it gets cut out to be sewn into stocking form.




Friday, March 25, 2011

Kindergarten tears

Little Red and I finished the My Father's World kindergarten curriculum today. When we finished her last item and she had closed her notebook, the tears started to flow down her cheeks. Looking at my beautiful daughter crying because she enjoyed school so much this year that she was sad to see it end, my mama heart just melted. I am so thankful that she loves learning and loved the means we used this year.


Finding that perfect curriculum is a scavenger hunt. Sadly, it took me 6 years of searching to find one that both my children and I like. I refuse, however, to give in to the guilt that nags at me. You know those little questions like "Why didn't I find this curriculum sooner to use with the older ones?" and "Have I scarred my children for life because we used something different when they were in kindergarten?"

I can wish that I had used My Father's World for the older three small people when they were in kindergarten, but that doesn't change anything. Instead, I will choose to look at this as a journey. Along the way we've had some speed bumps and potholes, but we've also seen some wonderful scenery. We've made incredible memories as we've explored using what the Lord led me to use each year. Jeannie Fulbright said something last weekend at the homeschool conference that continues to resonate in my ears, "Keep your focus on God's purposes, not on your purposes." He knows what my children and I have needed each year as we've navigated through school and life. I thank Him and praise Him for helping me with my curriculum decisions each year, for bringing me to My Father's World this past school year, and for teaching me to be content with the path we have taken.

Oh, and by no means have I finished my school year in March. (Technically, I still have 9 days until I've hit my state-mandated 180 days for this year). We still have other things we want to do, read, and explore. And the bigger small people have a few weeks left in our Exploring Countries and Cultures to finish.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fear

My worst fear - the death of a child - became a reality for a fellow homeschooling mom yesterday. Her only child was taken from her in a tragic car accident. I met D through the Sonlight forums, and through her posts about her son, I learned that he was an Eagle Scout, a member of the drama club at a local school, and a Christian. This last information about him gives me hope in the midst of what is a senseless tragedy.

This young man was able to have "boldness in the day of judgment" (1John 4:17). The saved know that their sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ, so there is no judgment for them. I pray that all of you have this boldness and have no fear in your own death and where you will spend eternity.

1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

When we fear, it shows that we are not trusting the Lord. Even in situations which seem to be beyond our understanding, the Lord asks us to trust Him. My prayer for my friend is that the Lord will give her and her husband the peace that passes all understanding and will bring His comfort to their hearts, which are surely breaking right now. I ask all of you to please remember her today in your thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SouthEast Homeschool Convention

Last weekend I attended the SouthEast Homeschool Convention in Greenville. There are so many reasons that I enjoy going to homeschool conferences.
  1. The curriculum vendors - I can promise you that there are very few homeschooling moms who don't like to look at curriculum. With over 100 vendors, there was definitely something for everyone. Some of my favorite ones were My Father's World, Apologia, Excellence in Writing (IEW), Homeschool Legal Advantage (who offered a free year membership to everyone at the conference), Rainbow Resource, The Sewing Basket (not curriculum, but I love to cross stitch and am teaching myself to knit), and Miller Pads and Paper (all kinds of art supplies). I loved being able to speak with representatives from the various vendors to help me determine exactly what to use with my small people next year.
  2. The workshop sessions - The opportunity to hear from some of the well-known names in the homeschooling community is amazing. I was able to go to sessions with Jeannie Fulbright (author of the younger Apologia books), Andrew Pudewa (from Excellence in Writing), Barb Cash, and Tim Cash (former pitcher with the Astros and Dodgers). There were SO many wonderful ideas and insight that I was able to take away from my sessions. My only regret was that I could only go to the sessions on Friday due to soccer commitments on Saturday. There was so much more that I could have learned!
  3. The respite - Please understand that I love my children. But I am with them all.the.time. It was nice to spend the day and half that I was away without small people. I was able to actually focus on the vendors and workshop speakers. I came home with a renewed energy to school them again. I did miss them terribly while I was away, but I knew they were in good hands with Robb, who is an incredible dad. 
For all you homeschooling parents, if you get the opportunity to go to a homeschool convention, I encourage you to take advantage of it. I'm already starting to make my plans for the one next year.


Greenville Homeschool Convention

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan

In order to finish up our Exploring Countries and Cultures study by the time I want to officially end this school year, we had to choose 1 country to only spend a week instead of 2 weeks studying. The small people and I decided it would be Japan - for no other reason than that it was the next one on the list to study when we were trying to figure out what we wanted to shorten. I couldn't leave out any of the interesting material or activities, so we just crammed 2 weeks of assignments into 1.

What a fascinating time to study Japan! With the earthquake and tsunami causing such widespread devastation, Japan was on everyone's minds. We were able to see images from before and after that shared the extent of the devastation. With her heart for people, Ballerina was especially concerned for the people of Japan and their loss. We were able to have some very good times of prayer, lifting them up to the Lord for His comfort and for Him to use this to draw people to Him.

As with all the countries we've studied this year, we learned about and colored the flag.

We also learned about the art of origami. The twins received an origami paper doll kit for their birthday last year, and this was the perfect time to use it. We all have a lot of respect for people who are really good at origami; this was difficult!






We continued our study of the ocean, including an experiment to find out why the water in the ocean gets colder as it gets deeper. The hypothesis posed by the small people was because the sun couldn't heat it up that deep. We poured colored cold water into a bathtub full of hot water. The cold water instantly sank to the bottom. Since there is no sunlight influencing the temperature in the bathroom, we saw that the hypothesis would not work and learned that cold water must be heavier than hot water so it sinks to the bottom.
Side note - the only food coloring I had was red, which is why it looks like we were pouring blood into the bathtub.


I went to the Southeast Homeschool Conference on Friday and had a wonderful time!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

China

I have been super busy with life for the past couple of weeks and haven't blogged about what we've been covering during school. The past 2 weeks, we have been learning about China.

We stamped our passports as we entered the country.
Then we located and colored in China on our map of world travels.
We spent some time learning about Chinese activities. We learned that, while Chinese checkers may not have been invented in China, it is a popular game there. (Side story about our Chinese checkers game - The game we have is mine from my childhood. We've lost a couple of marbles through the years, but we just add in a regular checker in place of them.)
In our book basket, we had Grandfather Tang's Story and The Warlord's Puzzle; both are books about tangrams. We had a lot of fun using tangrams to create our own designs.
We colored the flag of China.
We learned how to write Chinese numbers and used them to answer math problems.
To finish up our study of China, we made Chinese lanterns.
In science, we started a unit learning about oceans and seas. We learned about how the Dead Sea and Great Salt Lake are so salty because there is no outlet for the sea and so the salt just continuously builds up. We tried creating our own salt lake to see an egg float. The white bowl contained our salt-less water, and the blue bowl was our salt water. I don't think we put in quite enough salt because our egg didn't float very well.
One of my favorite times of the day is book basket time. The book basket is filled with books about whatever country and science topic we are learning about. Everybody grabs a book from the book basket and gets comfortable somewhere.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My thoughts on Cinderella


The dance school where my girls take ballet had their spring performance last weekend. It was a beautiful ballet interpretation of Cinderella. As I watched the performance (and loved seeing my beautiful fireflies), I thought about how the story of Cinderella mirrors my spiritual life.

You see, while I am not a poor servant girl, I am a poor sinner girl. I fall so very short of perfection. Cinderella was transformed by a fairy godmother. I am so much more blessed because I have been transformed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Now, I am a princess, a daughter of the King. Prince Charming searched for Cinderella after she left her slipper at the ball. Jesus sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. While I still fall short of perfection (more often than I care to), my sins have been paid for and I know that one day I will get to live "happily ever after" in Heaven.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Goal Progress - February

Here are my goals for 2011
1. Read through the Bible. I plan to do this by starting every day with Bible reading and prayer.
2. Spend more time with Robb without the kids. Our lives get so wrapped up in everything the children are involved in that so often our relationship takes a backseat. I don't want that to be the case this year.
3. Set aside at least one hour for each child individually during each week, outside of school time, to do something with that child.
4. Be slower to anger with my family.
5. Finish Ballerina's stocking by the end of February and begin Little Red's stocking.
6. Finish painting and decorating the 2 girls' rooms.
7. Lose 15 pounds.
8. Read at least one book a month, outside of books we read during school time.
9. Organize the printed pictures so that I can begin to scrapbook again.

So my priorities for February were:
1. Continue reading through the Bible by starting every day in Bible reading and prayer. I did well here. I am partway through Numbers and Mark.

2. Go on a date with Robb. We had a lunch date on Valentine's Day.

3. Plan for one hour per week with each child doing something non-school related. I have done better with this, but I'm still not where I would like to be. Realistically, this should be something planned and not just thrown in during the day, which is what I did this past month.

4. Get through each day without snapping at my children because I have lost my patience. Here, I am a work in progress. I am getting better about this, but I can't say that I got through each of the past 28 days without snapping at the children. 

5. Finish Ballerina's stocking. Order Little Red's stocking pattern. I have about 20 more French knots to do on Ballerina's stocking (boy, do I hate how tedious those are!). I ordered Little Red's stocking, and it is here ready for me to begin.

6. Hang pictures in the one girls' room. Pick out paint colors for the other girls' room. Nope and sort of. I did not hang the pictures. The girls did pick out a paint color for their room, but I haven't purchased paint yet. 

7. Lose 2 lbs. YES!!! I actually lost 2.6, bringing me to a grand total of 4 lbs lost so far this year.

8. Read a non-school book. Sadly, no, I did not do this. I did start reading Knitting for Dummies, but I didn't finish it.

9. Organize the pictures that have already been printed. Pre-plan 5 layouts. Nope, didn't do this.
My priorities for March:
1. Continue reading through the Bible by starting every day in Bible reading and prayer.
2. Go on at least one date with Robb.
3. Set aside a planned time each day to spend with at least one child, so that each child gets some one-on-one time with me each week.
4. Get through each day without snapping at my children because I have lost my patience.
5. Finish the French knots on Ballerina's stocking. Begin Little Red's stocking.
6. Hang the pictures in one of the girls' rooms. Purchase paint for the other girls' room.
7. Lose 2 lbs.
8. Read a non-school book.
9. Organize the printed pictures. Pre-plan 5 layouts to scrap. 
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