Thursday, August 28, 2008

One more comment from Audrey

Melinda likes to watch movies in the morning. Audrey usually hangs out with her for a while, then gets bored and comes to wake me up (I am not a morning person!). This morning I asked her what movie Melinda was watching, and she said:

"The one with the jungle bear, and the jungle boy who is wearing jungle panties!"

Now that's a great way to start the day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Family move accomplished!

Wow, we did it! With the abundant help of family and friends we succeeded in moving the family down to Long Beach! I am so blessed by my amazing family, whose help and support during this move was priceless. It took us 9 hours to plow down I-5, eat at In-n-Out, and get gas. Our kitty cat is adjusting slowly but surely, and I can hardly keep the kids out of the pool. I'll post more, including pictures, when my internet really gets up and running. For now, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some thoughts from Audrey

Here's a couple of things that Audrey has said lately that charmed my socks off:

"Mommy, I can hear your heart beeping!"

(you have to be halfway familiar with Dora the Explorer to appreciate this one) After I told Audrey that she is "Adorabibble" she said: "and Daddy is "a Diego-bibble".

What a cutie!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Caught You!

Melinda is my reluctant reader. In fact, this summer she decided to set the stage for her first year homeschooling by making "I hate reading" her mantra for a solid week. The first thing I did, of course, was make sure that she was reading every single day. I went through all of our 'young reader' books and organized them from easiest to hardest. Wanting to build her confidence, I purposely did not ask her to read anything that was even slightly difficult for her. She started reading easy books to Audrey every day. At first there was some sighing and grumbling, but after a few days she was doing it willingly. Today I found her in her room laying on the floor reading a book all by herself and of her own accord! Boy, do I wish I had a picture! From the looks of it, however, there will be plenty more opportunities to catch her reading. There's a big smile on my face today!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ready or Not...

We're moving! One week left, and we're out of here (ready or not). It's finally started to sink in these last couple of days: I'm not packing for a vacation, I'm packing to move. Weird--it's actually happening. After spending the last year with Chris out of town a good 3 weeks/month, it will be a nice change to have him home every night.

So much to do, so little time!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Glimpse of Heaven

I love how kids understand God. My Audrey, especially, seems to have some incredible insights.

Yesterday I was making a pie crust and had one of my feet propped up on a step-stool. Audrey climbed up on the step-stool and asked me if she could sit on my leg. I told her no, that it might make me lose my balance and fall. She informed me that if I did, she would save my life. When I asked her how she would do that, this is what she replied: "When you start to fall, I will hold your hand. That's what God does. He holds your hand and saves your life. And everything is okay."

That brought tears to my eyes. Oh, to have the insight of a child! The lines between the physical world and the spiritual are drawn in our minds, and the spiritual is often set aside so that we may more easily accomplish mundane daily tasks. I think that's one of the reasons I love the preschool/kindergarten age so much. The child is old enough to communicate, and young enough to be uninhibited by the limitations of the physical world. They provide a rare glimpse, for an adult, into heaven.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My 88th book on 8/8/08

Okay, I get a kick out of random number pattern occurrences, and this mono-numeric coincidence has me thrilled. I just finished reading my 88th book for this year. Today. On 8/8/08. I just don't know how you get any cooler numbers than that.

It was unplanned, but thankfully noticed. And before you think I'm wonder-woman for reading that many books, (or start worrying for the safety and well-being of my children that MUST be neglected if all this reading is going on,) please realize that most of these books are historical junior fiction. Many of them have been books I've pre-read for school purposes. In fact, if I took all the junior fiction out, my count would only be around 25. But I figure that many books sold as adult fiction contain less valuable, educational, edifying information than these junior fiction books contain, and are often written more poorly. Besides, how can A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle or Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield not "count"? They do, I say. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. And enjoying my beautiful row of 8's while I'm at it.

Mom for Hire

One of my first goals in preparing to move is to declutter, organize, and clean every single room in my house. Then, and only then, will I have an accurate assessment of what needs to be boxed up to travel to Long Beach. The room I've most recently accomplished this goal in is Andrew's room. I'm quite proud of this, by the way. I don't have a proper "before" picture, but let's use this for comparison's sake:
To be fair, this was taken 4 years ago. However, the room had been clean, perfectly clean, 2 days before this picture was taken. (If you are in the mood for a little "I Spy" then look for the baby in the middle of the mess.)

In the 4 years since I've taken this picture, Andrew has gotten much better at making his room presentable. Translated, this means that he's gotten very good at shoving things under his bed and any other raised surface. He continues to perfect the talent of distributing small random objects quite evenly throughout his living space, especially legos, magnetix, lite brite pieces, etc.

It took me 2 days to complete, and I pulled more than 5 trash bags full of trash and old toys out of there. Oh, does it feel good! He actually doesn't have a whole lot of things he plays with apart from legos and Wii. This is my after picture:

The funny thing is, my kids appreciate me doing this so much that they don't even mind seeing bags and bags of stuff being taken out of their room. They don't even try to look at (or through) the bags to see what is in there.

In fact, Andrew was SO extremely grateful that he's been hugging me all day, thanking me all day, and as a matter of fact he just came up to me and told me "thank you" and offered me $5 for cleaning his room. What a sweetheart! I gave him a big hug and said "Thank you so much, but you don't have to pay me. You can keep you're money, I'm glad that you like your room."

It got me thinking. Receiving a sweet comment like that is one way that being a mom pays higher than anything else around. I'm so thankful that this is my job!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How fast can you pack?

Our escrow close date for our house in Long Beach is set for September 2--in 27 days. Or, it was. I've just found out that there is a possibility that it may be moved up to August 22, which is a mere 16 days away! Yikes! Not that we have to move the weekend after, but that is what we would try to do. No sense in keeping our family apart any longer than necessary, right? I'd better get busy, all I have packed is a few small boxes of books!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Curriculum Decisions

While I realize that not many people are really going to want to wade through all of this information, deciding on curriculum for the coming year has been such a big part of my life for the last few months that I can't help but talk about it. Back in the spring we decided to homeschool all of our children due to a growing dissatisfaction with the academic and spiritual state we were experiencing in 2 of our children. I have spent much time curriculum shopping (one of the best things on earth for someone who loves books!) and planning the coming year. I love to organize and schedule things, so this really has not been too dreadful of an experience. I really like the feeling of knowing what I'm doing, and knowing why I'm doing it.

Spelling: Timothy and Andrew are pretty good spellers, and will be using grade level spelling workbooks published by Christian Liberty Press. I like that they teach spelling rules/patterns in an uncomplicated manner. Melinda is still working on making the connection between phonics and spelling, so we will be using a fabulous multi-faceted program called All About Spelling. She's already making incredible progress with this program!

Vocabulary: For the boys only--I really wanted to expose them to Latin without committing myself to an intensive language study, so we will be doing this through a program called Vocabulary from Classical Roots.

Grammar: I wanted to find a graded, structured, workbook-style, easy-to-understand program that promoted independent work. I settled on BJU Press for this. The younger grades have writing integrated as well in a very instructed yet simple way. Just what I wanted!

Writing: Timothy needs some intensive training in writing, since he will be in 7th grade this year and possibly out of my hands after 2 more years. I am going to try the Institute for Excellence in Writing for him for a very streamlined approach.

Science: The boys will be working through Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. It is an in-depth look at flying animals. Melinda and Audrey will be doing some simple units on plants, animals, and weather that I'm pulling together from books I have.

History: This was a doozy of a decision to make! I wanted to continue Timothy's study of American history, and eventually decided to have all the kids study the same thing. I nearly had Melinda do something separate to prevent her from comparing herself to the boys--a common problem. In the end, however, I decided to use a delightful curriculum called WinterPromise that is geared towards Andrew and Melinda's ages, and teaches in exactly Melinda's style. Thus, her program will be the focus, and I will add other things on for the boys. They will be using a good part of Sonlight's Core 4, and Timothy will also be using Story of the World 4 to provide him with more of a global view of the time period.

Well, that's not everything, but those are the basics. I feel like I didn't even start to discuss them, but I have to leave something to talk about later, right?

Monday, August 4, 2008

The First Day of School!

We started school today on a very light schedule. This was a good thing for many reasons. First, it allows me to feel like we're beginning to accomplish some of the many things I want to do this school year. Second, it provides me with relief from worrying that their minds are melting away due to the lack of doing anything productive. Third, it provides Andrew and Melinda some gentle adjustment time to this foreign thing called homeschooling. Fourth, it gives me some hands-on experience with juggling the instruction, discipline, questions, and feelings of four different children all at the same time.

The boys were responsible for doing a few pages of math, and a small section of science. Melinda did math and spelling. Audrey did some tracing. Then the girls did an art project while the boys escaped to their computers. Melinda had a slight meltdown, but recovered quickly. Andrew had another major meltdown (his previous meltdowns were the reason I decided to start today in the first place) and recovered after some help and patience.

I am very thankful that God gave me all of last year to homeschool only Timothy, I don't think I would have been able to handle this without all the changes He's done in me this year. At least not in a graceful manner! Not only that, but Timothy was very sympathetic towards Andrew and Melinda, which was a huge additional blessing.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Preparing a child for public highschool

It recently occurred to me, out of the blue, that Timothy is most likely going to want to go to public/private/non-home-based school starting in 9th grade. I've no idea why it took so long for the idea to penetrate the fog surrounding my head, but it certainly made itself known once it arrived. I admit, I panicked a bit. Gone was the idea that I had plenty of time to fit everything in. Welcome the days of trying to figure out what to cram into Timothy's schedule for the next 2 years (more on those plans later).

I finally got around to doing something today to help me prepare for this possibility. I went to my local public school district's website to find out what they are teaching, and so adjust my plans. Many things are really difficult to determine how they translate into real life, since the depth and quality are so subjective. (How do you determine the quality of "All students write narrative, expository, persuasive and descriptive text of at least 500-700 words"?) Topics of social studies, however, are much easier to compare. These topics are what I am surprised at, most specifically the ones that Timothy would encounter upon entering the 9th grade.

K-2 develop a conceptual base for history, government and economics.

3-5: study local, state, and early American history

6-7: study Ancient World History through the Renaissance & Reformation, with a unit about juvenile law.

8th grade: study colonial America through 1915 with an emphasis on gov't and industry, and another unit about juvenile law.

9th grade: study world geography, the concept of nationalism, global environmental issues, global population issues, and scarcity of crucial global resources.

10th grade: study modern era world history with an emphasis on Africa and Latin America.

11th grade: study US geography and history from late 19th century to present with an emphasis on government.

12th grade: civics & economics

It makes me want to be extremely politically-incorrect in my teaching just to combat all the silliness and indoctrination he will no doubt encounter. Or at the very least add some extra lessons on how to discern, and think for oneself. Sheesh.