Thursday, October 30, 2008
1. Try to find and keep the balance between expecting too much and expecting too little. Independence in schoolwork is a learned skill, and he *is* just 7. Our now 8 year old has made a big improvement over last year, and last year he could do NOTHING without me right there! So take heart! A lot of it is maturity and comes with time.
2. Find what motivates him and use it. For us, the timer and the nickel reward system have been the biggest motivators. My 8 and 9 year old boys are very slow with their math work. They can do it, but they daydream and distract themselves. A few weeks ago I started setting the timer for 30 minutes and saying that when the timer dinged we were moving on to other things even if their math was not done. Then in the afternoon when they could be having free time, they'd have to finish their math on their own time. This has kept us all from having to wait for the slow pokes. A "positive" reward is to give 5 extra nickels to the person who finishes BEFORE the timer dings (or before the long hand gets to the 12 or whatever). My children are beginning to be strongly motivated by money, so this works! (they get 10 nickels at the start of each day anyway, so these are in addition to that)
3. Organize your own duties in such a way that you can give him 30 minute chunks of uninterrupted time. Pick his easiest task, one you know he will be successful at, and sit there quietly next to him doing your own paperwork while he does it on his own. Then afterward, give him LOTS of praise and point out to him how capable he is! This kind of message playing in his head day after day after day will help give him the confidence he needs to try more things "on
4. Show him an earlier page in a certain book (math or whatever) and talk about how when he first started doing that it seemed so hard, but now it's easy. (we did this just this morning with 8 year old's math book - he was encouraged to see his progress for himself!)
5. Be willing to consider a change in certain curriculum to something that is more measurable for him. Example: last year we used copywork for our then 7 year old's handwriting practice (plus I was trying to be more Charlotte Mason-ish). His handwriting was atrocious and he hated doing copywork. This year we switched back to a more traditional handwriting workbook and he is happier because he can see exactly how each letter is to be formed and how many lines he
has to complete until he is done for the day. And his handwriting is much better!
6. Make and use a daily assignment sheet. Teach him (over the course of many weeks, day after day after day) how to cross off the boxes when he completes that task. Consider giving him a small reward (such as extra computer time or whatever works for your family) if he completes the entire column for that day. I have grouped all the language arts type things together on our 8 year old's assignment sheet and given them a light blue background color so that he can easily see which things in that group he still needs to do. All of his TOG work (which isn't much) is light green, and so on. Colors seem to help him.
7. Commit to checking his daily assignment sheet at least twice a day, we do before lunch and mid afternoon (when they tell me they're done). Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to check up on how well they are following their assignment sheets, so this is something I am working on as well!
Remember, learning to work independently is a process that we are all in together, so take comfort knowing you are not alone!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
9 year old G, to Little Man: "Next summer is still a long way away. We have to wait about 9 months."
Little Man: "No, we have to wait until payday!"
(Hmmm, wonder where he's heard that phrase before???!)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I have usually focused on our history studies when sharing about our week in review, and though we learned some great things last week about President James Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine, I am going to focus on science this time. We are using the book Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, from the Apologia Young Explorers Series, and we love it! There are 3 major areas of study in the book: birds, bats and flying reptiles, and insects. Right now we are learning about birds, and I am freshly amazed each week at the creative power of God!
It has been a blessing to teach this class at co-op each Friday. Each family does the reading at home during the week, and then when we are together we do activities that reinforce the concepts in the book, along with notebooking to record what we are learning. The older students are also involved in doing special projects outside of class, while the younger children do lots of hands on activities. Last week we learned about the intricacies of feathers. We looked at a feather under a microscope, and while they look rather ordinary to the naked eye, the microscope reveals the incredible detail God gave to feathers to make them flexible yet strong, able to support the weight of the bird but not break in a strong wind. How can something so soft also be so strong? It was so neat to hear the students say things like, "wow!" or "cool!" when it was their turn to look at the latticework of barbs and barbules under the microscope.
We also learned the correct terms for the markings of a bird so that we can more easily identify them and all be talking about the same thing. We practiced identifying many different kinds of birds. We listened to a variety of bird calls on CD. And then we made corn cob bird feeders in order to attract more birds to all of our yards! We slathered peanut butter on the cobs and then rolled them in birdseed. Here are our older 4 children hanging their feeders in our yard after we got home.
The VERY exciting news in our household last week was that our older 3 children have all qualified for their yellow stripe belt test in Tae Kwon Do!! This coming Saturday they will go to the TKD school, I will pay more money, and they will take the test to earn the next belt (white with a yellow stripe in the middle). Very exciting stuff!
Our TKD school had a halloween party last Saturday that we went to as a family. Here I am with one of the 3 musketeers (see my long tail?).
And our children went as (in chronological order) a pirate girl, a bat, ironman, batman, and a lion.
Here's our Little Man playing "hot pumpkin".
And son C playing "pin the black belt on the mummy."
Son L almost got the golfball inside the open mouthed pumpkin!! That was a HARD game!
Much fun was had by all, and it was a nice ending to our week. Gratitude fills my heart for another week of loving and learning with my family.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Little Man: "Did you know I actually know a lot more than you?"
Me: "Yes, I knew that." (sometimes it's just easier to agree, you know??)
Little Man: "Then......(with an impish smile).....what am I thinking of right now?"
Me: "You're thinking about what a great nap you're going to have!??"
Little Man: "Nope. I'm thinking about our next camping trip."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
For her first attempt at dinner by herself, I encouraged her to use boboli pizza crusts rather than making the crust from scratch. The sauce she made from her own recipe. She chose the toppings and chopped them herself. Then she built the pizzas. They turned out great and were absolutely delicious! She has decided for her next pizza night she wants to make the crust too, so we will have to start earlier in the afternoon. :-)
Adding spices to the sauce
Spreading sauce on the pizza crusts
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I had this talk with our daughter a few years ago and it was a very special time with just she and I. Not awkward at all. I have found that, whatever the topic is, if I present the information in a factual, matter of fact way, my children tend to receive it that way. Then later we can add layers of meaning and attach value to the information. For instance, after talking about the mechanics of how babies are made, we can talk about God's design for families and how this intimate relationship is meant to be shared by a husband and wife only. How God's plan is perfect, and babies are best served by having both a mom and a dad who are committed to each other and to them!
I was, of course, intensely interested in how this talk would go with son G. But I was, rightly so, left out of the equation. This was a father-son thing. I knew it would not be appropriate to ask G about it later. Not because he and I shouldn't or can't discuss things like this, but because that specific talk was an experience he had shared with his dad and I needed to leave it in their man's world. It was the first time I've had *this* kind of opportunity to let go of my boy, and it was hard. But good. This type of separation from me, as he grows into a man, will become more and more frequent, and I have to remind myself that this is what I WANT for him. I want him to be a man. God's man. An independent, responsible man. Not a boy attached to his mama. Even while I practice letting go of my young men, I am grateful that I have younger boys who still like to cuddle with me and for whom a kiss from mama will make anything better!
After "the talk", my hubby and G went to the hardware store and bought......a new toilet seat!!!!! They did this primarily to bless me, and I was SO HAPPY! Our downstairs toilet seat broke off it's hinges about a month ago, and since then the girls in the family have had to sit down very gingerly so as not to cause it to slide off (it happened once I'm sorry to say). They worked together to take off the old rusted hinges and put the new seat on. Son G even used his very own tool! A new toilet seat is a little thing, but it meant the world to me. And I could tell by the look on G's face that the new information he had, and the working with daddy on a fix-it project had both made him feel a little more like a man.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Last Monday when we went on our field trip to the farm, we parked next to two moms with several small children each. They were fiddling with their double strollers, packing diaper bags and lunch bags in the bottom of it, trying to keep their toddlers nearby, while also strapping a baby into a Snugli carrier on one mom's back. They dutifully sprayed each of their little children with insect repellent. We had to wait for several moments for them to move all their paraphernalia out of the way of our parking space, so I had ample time to watch them. And it hit me. That used to be me. For years that was me!! And I realized as I was pulling in slowly next to them, that I didn't even have the stroller in the van (for the very first time in over 11 years, I kid you not). And insect repellent??? We'd had one frost already, I thought all the mosquitos were long gone (turns out they weren't, but....). No diaper bag. No need to find a quiet place to nurse a baby. No hats to shade little one's eyes. Just me and my kids and the cooler. We just hopped out of our van and started walking, making it to the group meeting point a full 10 minutes ahead of the other moms in the parking lot.
And you know the best part? The best part was not realizing I was in a new stage. The best part was being glad about it! I have had a hard time letting the baby/toddler years go. They were just so sweet for me. And of course I still miss terribly the little ones we lost who would be toddlers now. But God is so good. When I wasn't even paying attention, He quietly opened the seed of contentment in my heart and caused it to bloom. I loved my babies, and I loved my toddlers, but I love my young people even more. It is so exciting and just downright cool to watch them develop into their own unique selves. To have conversations with them that blow my mind. To see God working in their lives, and to see them developing their own relationships with Him apart from me. I am so content to be in this new stage, and so grateful to be content. God is so good!
We have started letting the older kids take turns going in to the pizza store by themselves and buying the pizza for our pizza and movie night on Fridays (with me watching carefully from the van parked directly outside). Our older two children had each had one turn, and last Friday it was finally our 8 year old son L's first turn. While still in the van I gave him the $13 required for two pizzas and an order of bread, and then watched as he carefully folded it and put it in his back pocket, where a wallet would be. Then he oh so slightly swaggered into the pizza place. I watched through the big window as he spoke to the young man behind the counter, and then reached back to retrieve the money from his back pocket. He just looked so grown up, and I could tell that he felt grown up too. He walked back out to the van carrying our dinner with the most incredible look of pride and satisfaction on his face. It was priceless! I let him keep the change. :-)
A similar thing happened yesterday when we stopped at a pet store so daughter G could buy some more bedding for her mice. For the first time ever she went in by herself with her purse, found what she wanted, and completed the transaction on her own while the rest of us waited in the van. Three years ago I could not have imagined this. She was just so hesitant in new situations, and shy around people she didn't know. Actually, come to think of it, those things are still true about her. But she is learning how to handle herself well, even though she is reserved by nature. She is growing up!
And I am growing up too. I am learning that letting go is not quite so scary if I am confident that I've prepared them well. So as we prepare to begin the teen years at our house, I am resolved to focus on the responsibility and joy of preparing them well rather than the perceived pain of letting go. I know that at times letting go will be painful, and at times it will be exhilarating. But it's not about me. It's about them, and helping to ready them and launch them into their futures. That's exciting to be a part of! How thankful I am that I get to be a parent!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Took my daughter to piano
Took the boys to Subway for lunch
Went to church and made lots of copies of stuff for MOPS
Bought and wrapped two game prizes for MOPS
Taught my children some more
Did NO laundry!! (first laundry free day in a long time)
Laughed at my preschooler's cuteness
Marveled at how hard my older three worked on their schoolwork while I did MOPS stuff
Tried to "do something" with my hair, which is in desperate need of a cut
Realized I didn't have time to do anything with my hair before MOPS
Was reminded that it's not about me
Went to MOPS with clean but icky hair
Made a power point presentation for virtual co-op on Thursday morning
Fell into bed with a tired body and a thankful heart!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
They camped overnight together in a 3 man dome tent, on the ground (no foam pads - my hubby was really sore the next day!), went on a 4 mile hike, and did some fun activities together, one of which was building these wooden bird houses! Aren't they amazing??! We can't wait to hang them in our yard and see which type of bird makes a home there.
While hubby and the older boys were away, the other 3 children and I had our usual pizza and movie night, and we let 5 year old C pick our "free movie" which was a highlight for him. We rent most of our videos at a rental store that has a free section, so we pay for one and get one free.
The next morning we went to the MOPS consignment sale at our church and bought a few clothes that various children needed. It is always a blessing to find things we need at such great prices! And then we went grocery shopping. I turned it into a training time for our oldest, daughter G. I gave her the list and $100, and she did the shopping. She found everything in the store (with a little help from me a couple times), scanned everything herself, and paid. She faithfully kept track of our running total on her little purse calculator to be sure we didn't go over. She did a super job!! And it was easy for me because all I had to do was push the cart and watch the 2 boys!
I'm so thankful that both hubby and I were able to have some focused time with just a few of our children. We need to take advantage of every opportunity, redeeming the time!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
We all learned about five of the 12 South American countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Our daughter G focused on a brief overview of their struggle for independence, as it followed so quickly after and was influenced by the French Revolution and just before that, the American Revolution. She learned a bit about Simon Bolivar, who was instrumental in fighting for independence in these countries, and is often considered South America's "George Washington". She also learned about Napoleon's 100 day reign after escaping from exile, and his final defeat at Waterloo, followed by his second exile (this time to a teeny tiny island thousands of miles out in the Atlantic ocean - no chance for escape this time!). We talked about how these verses might apply to Napoleon: Ps 49:12 ~ "Man in his pomp will not remain, he is like the beasts that perish." And Mark 8:34 ~ "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" I LOVE being able to easily weave Scriptural principles into our studies - thank you Tapestry!
In Literature she was supposed to start reading an abridged version of Frankenstein, but ended up reading the entire book in 4 days! I had forgotton that Frankenstein was actually the name of the scientist who created the monster, and that in the book the monster himself had no name. We had an interesting discussion afterward. Lots of good points were brought up. Here are some of the books she read from this week:
The boys, meanwhile, focused their attention on interesting facts about each of these 5 South American countries. We checked out books from the library and had fun just reading and learning together. The second book in the following picture (Spanish Conquests in the New World) I read outloud to all the children, and it gave us a good background for understanding their future struggle for independence. Most of the native south Americans were so oppressed under Spanish rule.Tapestry produced a new product this fall that we are just loving! It is a workbook type book that has 4 pages on each of the South American countries, with geography questions, native animals to color, and interesting facts about each one. We bought 3 of these, one for each of the school aged boys.
Here is son C coloring his capybara on one of the Venezuela pages.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Listening to William Blake's poetry being read aloud by older brother!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
And just fyi, if you see it, when the husband and wife finally kiss near the end, that is Kirk Cameron (the actor playing Caleb) kissing his real life wife. He has made a vow to not kiss another woman in any acting role, so when the scene called for that kiss, his real life wife came on the set, dressed up as the female lead, and kissed her real life husband. Cool, huh?
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
We were able to video part of the play ~ actually it was 10 short vignettes, and this video shows the last one where all the actors participated by handling puppets! Unfortunately, near the end there arose a dispute between a couple of the actors, and though neither my hubby or I are in the screen actors guild, we were called upon to intervene. Therefore, the video ends quite abruptly. It was a wonderful time though, and we hope this troupe visits our area again soon!
Friday, October 3, 2008
In history this week, she learned about the presidency of James Madison, events leading up to the war of 1812, more about the relationship the United States had with the indians, and Napoleon's disastrous military campaign in Russia and his ultimate defeat. For literature this week she also read some poetry by William Wordsworth and learned some literary terms that relate to poetry. Together we are reading a book about William Wilberforce and the abolition of the British slave trade. It's a little book but has really big words, thus we are reading it together. She was shocked to read about what a self-centered and rather unscrupulous man he was during his young adult years, and we were able to discuss how God uses what we may consider unlikely people for great things once they yield their lives to Him.
She and I continued our work in latin, declining our first set of nouns!! I confess that she got it much more readily than I did!
She continued her on-going work in math and spelling, and for science learned about habitats, what instincts of animals are, and the meaning of extinction, endangered species, and some animals that were extinction errors (thought to be extinct but later found). Here are some of the books she read from this week:
Our sons G, L, and C
Her brothers, meanwhile, also learned about James Madison. We focused much of our attention on details of the war of 1812. They were fascinated by the story of the burning of Washington D.C. by the British, and how Dolly Madison saved so many valuables from the "president's mansion" (as it was called prior to the fire), including a large painting of George Washington ~ the only article inside the White House that dates back to the very first president. We learned that after the fire, only the outer walls of the house were left standing, and they were painted white to cover up the blackened burn marks. This is when it became known as the "White House." Interesting, isn't it? We also learned that Dolly had prepared a feast for guests that evening, but had to flee the house quickly before the meal could be eaten. The British soldiers helped themselves to the feast before they ransacked and burned the house! Learning about the Battle at Fort McHenry and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner was also a captivating topic this week. Here are some of the books the boys read (or I read to them). I highly recommend the book "By the Dawn's Early Light" that we got from the library. Great information, exciting topic, few words, fantastic pictures. Perfect for young boys!
Little Man: Mommy, I'm scared of being all alone in here.
Me: Sweetheart, you're never alone, remember? God is always with you, even after I leave your room.
Little Man: I know, but I can't see God because He's a Spirit, so I need someone in here that I can see.
Our conversation continued for a few moments, but at this point I was just rejoicing that Little Man so matter of factly knows and accepts the fact that God is spirit! For the curious, he was FINE sleeping alone, and ended up not actually sleeping anyway, so...... (naps have virtually ceased since paci went bye-bye).
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Schooling 4 and parenting 5 is a full time job. No doubt about that. But in that full time job I cannot lose sight of my priorities. God first. Husband and marriage second. If the children and the school are getting the best of me, then God and my husband are just getting leftovers. And that is wrong.
I have noticed a trend in myself that when I focus exclusively on my own "thing" (homeschool) an attitude of entitlement creeps in. It's very subtle. When my hubby gets home, I basically expect him to parent because "I've been with the kids all day". This is not a conscious thing, but if I am honest with myself it definitely happens. Or after the kids are in bed I will plop down on the couch and turn on the tv because "I'm exhausted and deserve some down time." Now I am not saying that all down time is bad, or that my husband shouldn't be parenting in the evenings. What I am saying is that my attitude of "I deserve this" is just a culturally acceptable way of saying that I'm selfish.
We have got to fight this attitude, people!! This is not God's way. God's way is laying down my life for others. God's way is putting my husband before myself. God's way is serving him out of a thankful heart that God has given him to me. God's way is balance. And order. For me, that means not focusing so much on school that I let the house fall apart, and don't clean toilets and don't cook good dinners, and don't give my husband the domestic support that makes our home a safe and peaceful haven for him.
I am making progress on the school routine, and I'm thankful for that. But I have set that aside for awhile in order to align my priorities properly, to spend more time in God's Word, and to get my house in order so I am less emotionally cluttered and can focus on my husband when he is home.
There have been several things God has used to convict and encourage me in this area. This post by Jess at "Making Home" was one of them. Though this particular post is specifically talking about sex, it is the attitude behind it that needs to be my attitude toward my husband in all things. How thankful I am for God's patience and grace toward me!
Dearest Lord, thank you for your constant love. Forgive me for the times that I do not turn to You immediately, and the times I take my eyes off you. You are my everything. I am utterly lost without You. Help me to have right attitudes and right behavior toward my husband. Help me to not let school issues consume me. Help me keep my priorities straight. Thank you so much for the husband, family, and home You've given me. I love you, Lord.