Tuesday, December 09, 2008

sigh...

Well. We had a fabulous week and a write-off week and this week is still up in the air. So far, I am frustrated. I am tired. I am thinking it may be time to call Christmas vacation. We will finish this week and see. I am afraid that if I take too much time, then it will take ages to get back in the groove. Maybe we can just do a bunch of fun, Christmassy activities. Elaborate on our advent studies... do some hands-on learning and more field trips.
This past week, we went to the science centre twice and spent tons of time in the gallery upstairs with all the hands-on demos. Lots of physics experiments to try. A loves the discovery gallery and the water tables. She could spend hours in there, and I love that the mess is not in my house.
For advent, I am using this page from the teachingmom.com site. Lots of links for extensions, though some were dead. It is a terrific resource.
From Pioneer Woman I found SpellingCity.com which I am going to try with R, spelling and R are not friends, I am hoping computer time might help.

Trying to keep my head above water here, praying to find my joy and patience.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

HP giveaway

There must be some homeschoolers out there who could use some new computers, here is a giveaway for 4 new HP's plus a bunch of other goodies!
I know I don't usually do this, but this is an amazing giveaway. Over 6 grand in HP computers and accessories! Check it out. http://jk9.qlnk.net/ #glmagic

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Performing Arts field trips.

The boys had an oportunity to see G.F. Handel's oratorio Solomon last week. They had an educational evening complete with free pizza and face time with the counter-tenor Daniel Taylor and other performers. The kids loved it and learned lots. I only wish I had been able to attend.

They also attended a play last month, The Forbidden Phoenix, which is loosely based on Chinese Immigrants brought to Canada in the 1800's to work on the railroad. The kids said it was 'interesting'. Oh well, they can't love everything.

I am hoping to take them all to Little Red Riding Hood next week, I love living in the city and being able to take advantage of so many performing arts opportunities. I wish I had known earlier that the Moscow Ballet was performing Sleeping Beauty tonight, that would have been a dream come true to me. Maybe Girly and I will have another chance to see it one day.

This week in home education;)

I feel like this has been our most productive school year since our very first year 5 years ago. In many ways we are still having the same struggles we have had for the past 4 years. R is still spending vast amounts of time in procrastination and stall tactics. Math is a bone of contention for him. He has no problem learning it, but hates doing the lessons. Today was a great day for math, he did his test in under an hour, but unfortunately that is the exception, not the rule.

I feel good about this week, and this year in general. I have been more engaged and I think that is the key. I have to not let life, or busyness, or weariness, or depression, keep me from daily engaging my children in active learning, from connecting with them and creating relationship with them, and from ensuring that they create good habits of self-discipline.

I have started to work daily with J(almost 5) and A(3). Not an easy thing because J loves to whine and complain whenever I ask him to do anything, and A is so active and distracted. We are learning to print with Handwriting Without Tears, I love the short fun lessons. A totally loves working on the slate and is excited to successfully print her 'leapfrog' letters. F and E so far. This curriculum starts with the capitol letters because they are the easiest and natural for kids to print. HWT really stresses creating good habits from the start, proper posture, holding the pencil correctly, paper positioning etc. She suggests using small pieces of crayon and chalk to start, as they almost force proper grasp.

This week we have been doing a fun math activity. I drew two circles on a piece of paper and put a plus sign between them. Each kid has a pile of raisins or beans or something and two dice. They roll the dice and then put the amount of one dice in one circle and the other dice in the other circle. Roll a 1 and a 2, put 1 raisin in one circle and 2 raisins in the other circle. Then they count them to do the addition. 1 + 2 = 3. J asked me the first time, "Mom, can we eat them up to erase!?!" I told them to go ahead. Now they adore this activity and keep asking for it.

I am also using An Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise with A. J is totally reading now, at a grade 1 or 2 level is my guess. This book is designed to be used with kids from about 3 and up, so we are giving it a go with A. We did the first lesson, short vowel a, yesterday and today and then we read the short vowel a Bob books together. Again, quick easy lessons and I am sure they will help the process along. I will be going over some of the lessons with J as we progress, to make sure he has a good grasp of all the phonetics.

The bigger boys are starting to get into a rhythm. Math, handwriting, writing in the mornings, along with spelling or vocab lessons. Biology and Canadian History in the afternoons. We started two experiments today.

I have been remembering to take breaks either at meal time or over a smoothie or tea and do our bible reading, then trying to get the kids to do narration from that and other reading or music. We have been reading Proverbs, but today we read in Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. B and R decided to act out the story while I read, it was hilarious and got the littles really interested.

We had our facilitator meeting this week and he, as usual, made me feel better about everything. We talked a lot about high school and I found out that B is 1 year ahead in math and will be in science too. Phew! In all I feel pretty good about everything, I was freaking out about all the stuff I can't seem to get done, but now I feel much more peaceful.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things are going alright. This week is off to a much better start than last one ended. I was getting tired of the all day dawdle that R is famous for. Today we all 5 sat down at the table with E watching from a baby chair. I gave B(13) and R(11) a handwriting lesson and this interested J(4) and A(3). While the bigger boys moved on to Writing Strands, J taught A and I some prehandwriting skills. We took out the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) shapes, J lead us in some exercises from my teacher's manual. He was showing off his reading skills. Then instead of letting mom do a lesson with him, he sat and followed the instructions in my book and wrote out the entire uppercase alphabet. A did a bunch of A's and doodling on her own.
I then pulled out some counting/number writing sheets I had downloaded and J did those. When he was done, he still wanted to do more writing so we did the b pages in Get Ready for the Code book A. This introduces the letter sounds, letter recognition, printing etc. He loves to do those worksheets, I think he did 10 or 12 pages.
The big boys did their math and were done by noon.
Instead of moving on to Social Studies and Science, we went to the rec centre this afternoon. The big guys went swimming and I took the little people to the indoor playground. Thankfully there were lots of kids to keep them occupied. It was a really nice day, no fighting, no frustration. We need to have many more days like that!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Today the boys got up early with dad and got a head start on their math. Yay! The littlest 3 and I went to chat and play at the church while the big guys worked on school. Not ideal for getting school done, but much needed for me and the preschoolers.

Social Studies:
B and R have been watching the Canada: A People's History videos. We are on episode 2 this week, it goes up to about 1670 and talks about the fur trade and New France, the life of Samuel de Champlain, etc. They are working together to write a 6 scene play about the fur trade and have chosen to follow the voyage of a beaver pelt through 6 interactions between different people involved. With a little prompting, their first 2 scenes look like a terrific start. B(13) wrote a scene where a native father is teaching his son how to catch a beaver and R(11) wrote the scene where they take the pelt to the trading post.
We are using various other resources: books from the Discovering Canada series, such as New France and The Fur Trade; Kids Can Press books such as The Kids Book of Canadian History and the Kids book of Canadian Exploration; Donna Ward's Courage and Conquest and various websites and other books.
As for the preschoolers, I read to them about beavers from the Fur Trade book. Of course A (3) has many more questions to ask than ears to listen.

Science:
Body Worlds is still playing at our Science Centre this week and I am still hoping Daddy will have time to take the older kids. I am kind of grossed out by it, so I don't want to take them. In preparation, we have been studying a bit about the human body using Lyrical Life Science 3: the Human Body as our base. The kids all enjoy the songs.
We are supplementing our reading with various Usborne books, websites and a life size skeleton model I am having the boys put together. I pulled out the Grey's Anatomy to help them label some bones not already labeled.
I am still trying to find our Science curriculum cd-rom, the boys have managed to misplace it since spring and I am frustrated with that. $75 and a month of time wasted because we can't find it. When we do, we will skip ahead to the human body section for now and then go back to earth science.
With the preschoolers today, I read the muscles pages of The Usborne First Encyclopedia of the Human Body and then we went the the linked websites and played some games.

Language arts:
Both boys are using Writing Strands this year, supplemented with weeks of Dictation exercises, Spelling workout for R(11) and Vocabulary from Classical Roots for B(13) and yet to be named grammar programs. We should be starting the Latin Road to English Grammar again soon.
B is on WS 4 lesson 5 this week and R is WS 3 lesson 3 as well as doing the dictation exercises that he only said he did last week.
The littles made an emergent reader booklet today of the Eensy Weensy Spider today and recited that with me a few times. This promotes fluency and success in reading for beginning and pre-readers. J (4) is actually reading quite well already, I literally cried last week when he read a passage from the Human Body encyclopedia. I couldn't believe how well he was reading.
The preschoolers also did a bit of cutting practice today.

Math:
Saxon Algebra 1/2 for B(13) and 6/5 for R(11) this year, continuing from the spring. B is on lesson 20 and R is on lesson (43)

Logic:
B has started a formal logic program this year by way of Introductory Logic. We are also using Critical Thinking Co.'s Mind Bender's cd-roms and Red Herring stories with both boys as fun add-ons.

Latin and French:
We haven't attempted to start these subjects yet this year. French should be easy to add in, but I have to get ahead of the kids in Latin before starting again, and with a newborn I can't even think about it now.

Cooking!
I have been lax in formal elective instruction, but both boys have shown such an interest in cooking that I am going to consider this one of our electives this year.
So far this year R has made a curry - Butter Chicken and Naan bread which was his first yeast bread. He also had to clarify butter for the naan bread.
Both boys have made pancakes and cookies, grilled cheese and ... I can't remember! I will have to keep track of their experiments and successes in the kitchen as well as cover meal planning, shopping with a budget, substitutions, conversions, tools and terms, various skills and maybe even thematic menus.... should be fun.

I need to have both boys pick passages for memory work, I keep forgetting to do that...

I had planned on taking all of September off school. E was born on September 9th and I knew I would be tired and overwhelmed and just not up to keeping up with the boys. Brent decided that when he went back to work that the boys should be doing something so he set them up and took care of making sure they did what he assigned and marked. He was right, but it has been hard many days. By the end of the first week, I took over the planning, but he has been checking in with them most nights.
When R started his usual taking all day to finish a 30 minute math lesson, Brent started waking him up at 6 am the next day to work with R before going to work. This seems to be helping so far. I am trying to stay on top of everything and them each day. I plan out our schedules with my Homeschool Tracker software, print out their weekly assignment sheets so they know what is expected each day and then try to check their work and enter it into the software as done and their marks.
I got behind last week, so this week I am playing catch up. I discovered that R hadn't done his dictation exercises last week, so he has double writing assignments this week. B had some difficulties with his vocab assignments, so he is doing catch up and corrections this week. I feel good about where we are heading this year, but frustrated with monetary constraints that are preventing me from buying some much needed and some just much wanted supplies and curriculum. Like Braeden's science. Time is limited and he really does need to complete his science this year to stay on track for college. I guess I need to pray for God's provision! Hmm, maybe the school board would be able to order it for me... I have some phone calls to make.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

My favourite kind of school day.

























paper and elements: Weeds and Wildflowers, Believing In You
measuring tape, paper star: Weeds and Wildflowers, Seeing Stars
splash: Weeds and Wildflowers, Juicy Fruit freebie
frames: Vera Lim, All Negatives
Fonts: Black Widow, Gigi

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My brain's around here somewhere...

Alrighty then....
It has been a while since I posted over here. That is mostly because I have been busy teaching school, actually teaching for a change. And this baby making is taking all of my excess energy and apparently continuing the tradition of zapping my brain cells left, right and centre.
I have been continuing my use of a weekly schedule for the boys, broken down by subject and day. It has been quite helpful to all of us to know what we should be doing as well as keeping track of our progress. Even better, when daddy was off of work last week he was able to do much of the learning facilitation in our house. Yay for me!
Today is not a great day, I gave up around 1pm. I told them to eat lunch and then ignored the fact that instead of returning to their schoolwork that should have been done before noon, they went outside to play. (wow, that was a long sentence!)
I could hear all four of them out in the yard, playing, laughing, having fun and I made an executive decision. To let sunshine and laughter feed their souls for a few hours, rather than to continue being a nagging mother who was stealing their joy and sparkle.
Plus, Daddy said that he would make sure they got their school work done tonight if they continued giving me a hard time. A beautiful out for me!

I have taken the list thing a bit farther than just our weekly checklist. I am finding the constant nagging I seem to do, utterly exhausting and ineffective. Last week, I must have repeated the same instructions to my eldest about his math about 8000 times and he was still ignoring me. I started furiously typing on my laptop. I wrote out step by step instructions on how I wanted him to complete his math lessons. Same thing with cleaning the kitchen. They come out yelling, "I'm Done!"
So I question them. "Have you put the food away?"
"Um, let me go check..."
45 seconds pass
"I'm done!"
"Is the table cleared and wiped?"
"Um... let me go check..."
90 seconds later
"MOM! I'm done, can I play Guitar Hero?"
"Did you wipe the table?"
"Oops, I will be right back."

And on and on it goes for 45 minutes at least. Sometimes it will be 20 minutes between the 'I'm dones' and then they won't have actually done anything in the meantime. I am so sick and tired of it.
So I wrote the 'I'm Done' kitchen checklist. It is extremely detailed, step by excruciatingly small baby step. I guess we will see how that works. I am hoping that at the very least it will cut down on the screams of, 'I'm Done!'
I am now working on detailed instructions for all the other jobs around here as well as all of the school tasks I require of them. I am hoping they will help, but I am sure that I am delusional.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am reading Ruth Beechick's You Can Teach Your Child Successfully. I found it again while looking for her guides to teaching younger children, I was successful in finding the language and math volumes,but I am still on the hunt for A Home Start in Reading which I wanted to reference in my teaching of my 4 year old.
I am regretful that I did not take the time to read You Can Teach Your Child Successfully when I received it 3 or 4 years ago. It is geared to the teaching of children in the upper Grammar and Logic stages, grades 4-8, and is filled with practical advice on whole learning. It is geared to help parents become well-informed teachers of their children. I am only 20 pages in and she has already touched on stages of reading, what we can learn from standardized tests, how to decode school/teacher vocabulary and now I am reading about different types of reading.
In skimming it this morning, I found some writing lessons and we started one of them today based on a copywork/dictation passage.
I am finally taking the time to educate myself about education rather than trying to rely upon curriculum and assignments to cover things. I have always been so eager to jump into stuff that I don't take the time to really learn and plan. I guess late is better than never.

Go check out my friend Lori's blog to glean some great insights into writing. I find her writings so inspirational, I always want to aspire to better things after I visit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today was our end of the year facilitator visit. Since we have been with the Wisdom school board, these visits go swimmingly. He is wonderfully encouraging and seems genuinely interested in my children and who they are. And that they are succeeding in their endeavors. We had a terrific chat about Classical education and I feel even more that I am heading in the right direction now. The paperwork seems unimportant compared to my children's character.
I think I will call the board and register B. in one of their Socratic dialogue classes. They are doing one about the Second World War next year that I am sure he will love.
I am still not sure if I will buy a packaged curriculum for next year, like Tapestry of Grace or Sonlight, or if I will just take some reading lists and use the Classical methods to cover our history etc. I love the idea of the curriculum, because it is already laid out for me. But I am worried about feeling bogged down by it and letting curriculum run our schooling rather doing what I think is working or going where I think we are being led naturally.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Week's end.

A very successful week here in the Mighty home school. R and I did math together all week and it went swimmingly. 20 minutes per lesson tops, it is a record for sure!

Surprisingly to me, the kids are loving the Latin. Of course, they do love to learn new things and this is still new and fresh. R seems to have a real talent for picking up the pronunciations, he is already correcting the rest of us. I need to work on my Latin this weekend or the boys will be ahead of me by next week.

I am wondering if I should take a break from the French for a couple of months so as to not confuse them as we get used to the Latin. Plus, my computer where the student database is stored has crashed so all our records are gone. This means the kids have to start over at lesson 1! That sucks for all of us. My dad is going to help me recover some of the data on that computer so I am hoping to salvage their records.

I am so pleased with myself this week, I think I succeeded in starting some new, healthy habits for all of us. Now to keep up the commitment on my part and help the boys make lifelong habits of working hard, doing their best and learning to be self-motivated, but accountable.

I am also pleased with the kids, no fighting about school for a whole week. Today at lunch, I told the kids to get their shoes on, I was taking them for a treat and then to a friend's to play. B wasn't done his math yet and I yelled out the back door for him to grab his books to take. He already had them and was waiting outside with them. Woohoo! That is an absolute first. He took responsibility for his own education. That is what I am reaching for!

I am so looking forward to this weekend. We will take it off and for once I feel that it is well deserved.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Midweek checkup
Our first week of back to academics and Mama totally engaging with the boys and their school. Unfortunately over the last couple of years I have gotten into the habit of giving them assignments and then waiting for them to finish them. This has been increasingly frustrating as they weren't all that motivated to actually finish their assignments.

God has really been speaking to me about this. I had been seeking his path as to how to school the high school years with B. I spent last week during spring break, reading the Well Trained Mind. Wow, I felt God speaking to me about my role in their education and realized all the gaps I have left. I felt totally energized, inspired, and convicted. I feel that I have some direction for the next few years and am working at putting it into action.

I have some much needed supplies on my list of things to buy, but for now we are working with what we have.

This week
Math
R.: We have been just doing a simple workbook this year, but he has some glaring gaps, so today we started Saxon 6/5. This curriculum has been rather painful for us in the past, but that is what we have so that is what we are doing for now. I am on the search for another program though.
To ease the pain, I went through the entire lesson with him, we did most of the practice questions aloud and made sure he understood. Then he did just over half of the lesson practice with me sitting beside him and doing the last six questions independently. This worked perfectly. 15 minutes and we were done. Much less painful than him sitting for hours staring into space.
B did his seventh investigation, and again, I went over trouble spots with him and he did well. Once we both figured out what the reciprocal coefficient of x was.

Language arts/Latin:
I finally got around to starting the Latin Road to English grammar last weekend, so this week we have done the first 3 lessons. Today we got to practice the Lord's Prayer in Latin. The kids were totally geeked up about it.
In spelling, though we have been using Spelling Power, both boys had to study spelling lists today. R needed review and B was doing the postal abbreviations for the States and Provinces. Yeah, he had no idea about most of them. I always forget that they need to know the American stuff as well as the Canadian.

B is almost done level G in spelling and R is in the middle of level C, he has had a rough time with spelling until this year, but it seems to be getting better now.

Dictation is something I have decided to start again, what better way to become a great writer than to copy great writers?! B did a passage from King Solomon's Mines and R did one from On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Writing has been blogging so far this week, but we will soon be starting a formal composition curriculum. We are also doing a mini-report for Bible study this week. We are using the NIV Children's Bible Handbook and are working in the New Testament section.
The boys are both reading what they like and we are going through Mark in our daily Bible reading

Social Studies: We are working through Geography Province by Province by Donna Ward and will soon be starting Conquerers and Conquests by the same Author as well as dozens of supplementary books and historical fiction to go with it. This week we learned about Forestry as well as people and places in BC and will learn about the symbols and economy of AB. We map as well as plot figures and events on our timeline.

French: still plodding through Rosetta Stone, I would like to find a written French program as a supplement though.

Science: Hasn't happened yet this week, hopefully tomorrow afternoon we can continue with our program.

Preschool!
J(4) and I worked on some phonics exercises today, til he got bored and then he did some reading. With A (2.5) we played Discovery Toys match game and they played with alphabet blocks and cars for hours. We also read dozens of books.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We are starting to ease into some new scheduling and a more rigorous academic education for the boys. The first day went typically. R spent the entire day, hours and hours staring at his page of math, doing entirely nothing. I went over how to do the questions with him to no avail. I did do his spelling with him and he worked on his geography.
B did a bit better, he got off to a slow start, but he managed to finish his math, geography, dictation, spelling, and.
J, 4, is such a keener, he is aching to learn. We spent a good half hour yesterday writing out rhyming words. He came up with a word, such as can or cat and we looked through the alphabet trying out new letters at the beginning to make rhyming words. He sounded them all out to see if they worked. Afterwards he wanted to read a book, so we took the first couple phonetic readers out and we sounded them out together. He is still missing a few sounds and doesn't always grasp the sounding out concept. He is really good at looking for picture clues. One of the stories said something about 'sat on a hat' and the picture showed the character sitting on a bench, so I kept trying to get him to sound out hat with me, but he kept wanting to say bench or seat. He did figure it out though, it was really fun to watch him discover and learn.
While waiting for dinner, he had gotten out a printing book and he must have worked in it for half an hour at least, completely self-directed. He hates to hold the pencil properly, but we are working on it.
Today we are going to set up some new binders with dividers, especially for the Latin Road to English Grammar which we will start today. Should be interesting.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Home Education Week

    Scroll down for my posts for the week.

    Found this list over on Tons of Sons
    of things to think and write about during this week, Home Education Week at Principled Discovery.

    Looking Back
    Sunday, March 30
    Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.
    Profiling Home Educators Monday, March 31
    Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?
    April Fool’s! Tuesday, April 1
    And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.
    Recipe for Success Wednesday, April 2
    It is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! So share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.
    Show and Tell Thursday, April 3
    Show off those talents. Share a story, a special moment, a piece of artwork. Any accomplishment, great or small, is fair game.
    In Their Own Words Friday, April 4
    Share your children’s home education experience in their own words. What have they said about their education? What are their likes and dislikes? Share some stories, some quotes, or turn your blog over to your children for the day.
    Looking Forward Saturday, April 5
    What are your goals for home education? What do you hope to instill in your children? Are you planning any changes to how you educate your children?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Thursday, April 3
    Show off those talents. Share a story, a special moment, a piece of artwork. Any accomplishment, great or small, is fair game.

Getting my boys to enjoy writing has been a goal of mine since we started. My second son absolutely hated to write and it was pure torture to even get 5 sentences out of him last year in grade 4. My elder son thought writing was okay, but not his fave thing to do. They both have these amazing imaginations and it seemed like such a waste to me that we wouldn't have many records of all that goes on in their brains.
In the fall I had them each start a blog. Well, it wasn't long til they begged to write in their blogs every day. I finally saw the lightbulbs go off in their heads. Writing didn't have to be a chore. It was a way of recording what was in their hearts and minds. It could be fun!
They thought it was so fun, that when I decided to do NaNoWriMo in November and write a novel, they decided to join me. They both wrote more than they had ever done in their entire lives. And they were so proud of their accomplishments and so am I.




Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Recipe for Success

    Recipe for Success Wednesday, April 2
    It is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! So share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.

I don't think I really have found my recipe for success yet, as I shared in yesterday's post. So today I will share a recipe or 2. One thing that really works for me, when I actually get around to it, is meal planning. I have some wonderful cookbooks with meal plans and shopping lists already set out week by week. LOVE! The series is called Cooking for the Rushed and the recipes are easy, coded by speed of prep and cooking, and delicious. Even my pickiest eater has eaten everything I have made from them.

One of my favourite, stand-by recipes, not from these cookbooks, is Cajun Chicken Fettuccine. My mom makes it fairly often and it is quick and easy. I don't actually have a recipe that I follow, I kind of make it up as I go along, but I will try my best to write it out for you.
Cajun Chicken Fettuccine

4 to 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of mushrooms
half an onion
half a bulb of garlic
Cajun seasoning to taste
1 box of fettuccine pasta
couple of tbsp. of butter
2 to 4 tbsp. flour
2 to 3 cups of milk
1 cup of chicken broth
1/3 c. parmesan cheese

1. Warm some olive oil in a deep frying pan and add 3 cloves of crushed garlic and chopped onion.
2. Slice up the chicken and add to the pan, brown it.
3. Wash and slice the mushrooms, add to pan while chicken finishes cooking, sprinkle everything with desired amount of Cajun seasoning.
4. Put pot of water on to boil for your pasta.
5. When chicken is cooked, remove to bowl and set aside.
6. Cook pasta
7. Add butter to pan, melt (I always add a couple more cloves of crushed garlic here) and then add flour to make roux. Add milk and chicken broth, bit by bit to roux, whisking it in as you go to thicken sauce. Cook until desired consistency.
8. At this point you can add more Cajun seasoning if you like, and then put the chicken and mushrooms back in the sauce to warm. Add Parmesan cheese and stir til melted through.
9. Add sauce to drained pasta and mix through. Serve with salad for a complete meal.
This is delicious and quick and all my kids eat it!
Enjoy.

My recipe amounts are all approximations, if you have any questions, please email me. mightymorphinmama [at] gmail [dot] com




Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's

    April Fool’s! Tuesday, April 1
    And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.

Well I think I feel the fool more often than not, especially in regards to home educating. I remember the first year we tried it. I kept telling my facilitator that I had no idea what I was doing, where do I start? She just kind of laughed and told me that I was their mother, I was intelligent and I would do just fine.
I am not sure if she was misguided or not. I often feel like I am without a rudder in this ocean and I allow myself to be blown about by circumstance and things that seem like a great idea, far too often. I have wonderful plans and ideas, but life keeps getting in the way. Babies and toddlers and sports and chores and things I want to do for me. Never mind the discouragement of non-compliant children and my own emotional ups and downs.
I think, for me, one of my biggest challenges is staying plugged-in and engaged in my kid's education. I get discouraged when they won't sit and work on what I have assigned them. I sometimes feel as though I spend my days yelling and begging them to just finish their math! Sometimes I just retreat to my room for a afternoon, or a day or 2 and read my books or my blogs and I feel like curling up in my bed and giving up. For good.
I am at a crossroads right now. Things have got to change. I am either going to completely plug into a classical education program for the boys, which is my dream and my preference. Or I am going to hand off their education, either to a correspondence or computer type curriculum, self teaching and marking; or put them into school.
I just can't continue floating about, without oars or rudder, hoping everything will work out. I need direction, as do the children and I would really like to teach them lifelong skills like thinking! My goal is to raise God-serving, intelligent, thinking, children who are pursuing their dreams, so I need to find the best path to get there.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Profiling Home Educators

    Profiling Home Educators Monday, March 31
    Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?

I am a fairly young mom who will be 33 in a couple of weeks, I have been married since I was 19 to the same man;) We have 6 children. 3 boys aged 13, 10, and 4. One daughter who was stillborn almost 6 years ago and 1 living daughter who is 2.5. We are expecting number six at the beginning of September.
I met my husband in Bible college and we were married within the year. We have lived in northern BC and all over Alberta. I have traveled to a few European countries as well as to Guatemala, the Bahamas and the western United States.
I love to write, love to read even more and I adore digital scrapbooking. It fulfills my need for artistic pursuits as well as documents our life as a family.
When we started our home educating journey, 5 years ago, I really had no idea what to expect and it seems that we are always making it up as we go along. We tend to try to get our book work done in the mornings, but it is always an adventure with 2 preschoolers running around and climbing on the boys backs.
I think our favorite times are field trips and afternoons with friends. We are starting to incorporate a tea time which has been a lot of fun and a needed break from mom nagging and kids slacking. We read books and check out interesting things on the internet. I would love to add some art appreciation to this time and we have already added music.
We are Christians, so that really affects our home education. We all love to start our day with bible reading and prayer. The boys love to pick their own passages to read and are always eager to do some memorization. I am loving this opportunity to fill their hearts with the things of God.
The little kids are often a big distraction but they are learning so much from their brothers and their brothers are learning patience and problem solving and tons of valuable people skills. I am so proud of my children's sibling relationships, they are all very close and I wonder if that would be so if they all went their own ways each day.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Home Education Week: Looking Back

Looking Back Sunday, March 30
    Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.

Well before I was a mother, I was a student. Before I was a home educator, I was seriously considering becoming a student again. We had 2 boys in kindergarten and grade 3 in our local public school. I spent most of that year in my boys' school, in their classrooms and in the library volunteering. I helped 3 grade 3 boys with severe literacy issues, shelved books in the library and hung out with the 5 year olds. It was a ton of fun and kept me busy.

Every day, someone would tell me that I should either go back to school and get my teaching degree or take some courses and get a job as an aide in the school. I did not want to be a teacher. At all.

I enjoyed the daily interactions with the other parents and teachers. I hung out on the playground after kindy and made a big effort to befriend other moms. Sunny days were the best, there were always lots of us watching the kids and commiserating about our parenting experiences.

I had been working the year before at the gym, but it was in our old neighbourhood and I decided it was too big a deal to go that far anymore.
One thing we didn't have a lot of time for was socializing with our best friends, our weeks were packed. And my dh was often out of town, so our evenings and weekends were often lonely.

I had always considered homeschooling as a possibility. I had felt that when B went to grade one, I should have pulled him out of school. He was already growing bored in the classroom, though he thrived on the social aspects. By grade three, he had become a bit sullen and had an attitude about school. It wasn't worth his effort anymore, he figured. He had experienced some bullying the years previous and I am sure that contributed to his attitude.

R loved kindergarten, though the idea of it and the first couple months caused a nervous habit that he has kept to this day. Nail biting. ick.

My best friend was a home educator already and she worked on me for months, we wanted more time to hang out! She told me about all the cool activities her kids were involved with, I was jealous. When spring came and I found out I was pregnant, it seemed like the perfect time to start. I wasn't going to be going back to university if I had a new baby, so we decided to start home educating that fall.

That first year was wonderful. I loved the freedom. We got to spend our days doing what we liked. We had activities with home school friends 2 days a week and did schooly stuff 2 or 3 mornings a week. We got to hang out with our bestest friends 3 or 4 days a week. In the spring when my husband had to go up north to work, we all went with him. Freedom!
After Christmas, when we had our new baby, we were able to take things easy and not bundle him up every morning to take the boys to class. We did what we were able to, without a lot of pressure or worry.

When we decided it was time to move to a different city, I have to say there were things that I really missed about my kids being in school. I missed the daily opportunities for adult interactions. I was very lonely. It took me a long time to become connected in our new town. I still haven't gotten hugely involved in the home educating community here, but I do have a small core of friends.

I also felt bad that the boys didn't have that school environment to meet new kids. Luckily there are some boys in our cul-de-sac that they immediately made a connections to. Unfortunately they don't see much of them in the winter months as everyone is in school and activities.
The last few years I have often felt that the academics were suffering as we kept adding to our family. We now have a 4 year old and a 2.5 year old, so things are getting easier, just in time to welcome our next bundle in September. Yikes!

Although there are ups and downs, and I feel like a failure as a home educator more often than not, I wouldn't trade our life now for anything. I love having my children in my home. I love that they have retained so much innocence and child-likeness for so much longer than many of their peers. I am glad that they have so little awareness of so many things that are so important to others their age. Like fashion and coolness and being 'in'. I am so thankful that they are best friends who care about each other and look out for each other and are terrific older siblings.
I love that we can pick up and go whenever we like, without having to worry about 'school'. We get to go to the pool and zoo and wherever else we like, when there are no crowds.

And I know my kids. I don't have to send them off each day, not knowing what they are doing and what has been said to them. I may not have a lot of free time on my hands, I may miss my quiet mornings on my own, but I have my kids in my heart and my home. My house may be a mess, but I now know myself better than ever and have real hobbies and interests of my own to pursue. Like blogging;)




Friday, March 28, 2008

Apparently my boys LOVE poetry. Love! I gave them an assignment to pick out a poem to memorize and present next Thursday. Last night they kept running into my room to tell me about the poems they were picking. At one point, R. had 3 poems pretty much memorized already and kept coming to tell me them.
Not only do they love to read poems, they love to write them. Their journals for the last few weeks have been full of poetry. It is kind of funny because I have never formally taught them poetry. When they show an interest in a type of poetry I will explain it. Like on St Patty's I told them the rhyme scheme of Limericks. They have done a ton of Haiku, but for the most part they do free verse and couplets. And they are happy as clams. I need to keep out of it for them to love it, it seems.

Today's freewrite topic was to describe a ride in an airplane. My bloodthirsty boys both decided to write about plane crashes instead. They are quite into that idea! I am interested to see how much mayhem they can create in one story.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday teatime

We did our first official tea time today. Other than some wrestling between the 13 year old and the 4 year old, it went well.
We started off reading The Royal Canadian Mounted Police by Marc Tetro. It is a picture book for 4-8 year olds I would think and has amusing drawings that all the kids enjoyed. Then we started The Jungle Book, an illustrated one that I bought years ago and never read. All 3 boys seemed to be really into it and the older style of writing doesn't seem to be an issue. We stopped at page 26, just after the wolves accept Mowgli as part of the pack.
The children then each chose a poem from Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris to read and I read Written in March by William Wordsworth. I gave the older boys an assignment to pick a poem to memorize for next week.
Monkey Boy and I did some Hershey Kisses Math before the big boys joined us, Monkey's choice. It is a multiplication and division book, but he was really into it and seemed to at least grasp the basics of the multiplication part. I would like to find a similar addition book.
Next we opened the laptop and went to the Classics for Kids website where we listened to 4 shows about Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the composer of the Flight of the Bumblebee. I think next time we will just do one show, even though they are just 6 minutes long, we were all restless by the end.
We headed on over to News Flash Five, a news for kids site I found on PBS. I am gonna go through some of the lesson plans and maybe incorporate some of them into our weeks.
I thought we would spend some time looking at some art books, but we were all tired of sitting by then and I gave the kids their poetry assignment and told them that they could actually have their computers back today to blog. I can't wait to read them, I have missed their blogging.
Oh, biggest brother read a really cute version of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and Monkey has been reciting it all day.

I can't wait to try this again next week. It is nice to just relax together, read and talk.
If anyone has some good art appreciation websites, would you please share?

Friday, March 14, 2008

I have been feeling uninspired and overwhelmed both as a teacher and as a mother. Today I decided to do something about it.
I actually sat with the children while they ate breakfast today and then I stayed at the table with them for the whole morning. We did our bible reading together and prayed, really prayed. I wrote down our prayer list on the calendar so we would have a visual reminder. I had each child at least make a prayer of thanksgiving if nothing else. I had fallen out of these habits and allowed myself to be lazy and selfish, spending more and more time doing my own things during the school day and less time with the boys.
The boys then did their math and spelling and are now completing their English smart and limericks, R will do his science and social worksheets too. I just caught R with his hand in the back of the workbook holding the answer page, so I cut out the answer keys. ugh.
I have discovered that R really responds well to worksheets. I have tried so hard to stay away from worksheets, but he really loves the feeling of accomplishment he gets by finishing them. I may have to look at ACE for next year for him and maybe supplimenting unit studies with tons of books like my bff does. B is the one I am really concerned about, we need to make decisions about high school for him and I feel a bit overwhelmed by the options and the future. Praying for God's guidance.
I think I will run downstairs and get Juju' kindy stuff and organize it so that he and I can work together while I supervise the others. The 2 little guys are very distracting to the older ones with all the running around and yelling! I am also gonna make some more play dough, it is a great distraction for half an hour. A also loves to paint so I need to make a real effort to do those things with them on school mornings. Oh! And reading aloud for when the bigger boys don't need my help.
I would like to read all of the children The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland in the next couple of months. I have actually never read them myself and I think we can all enjoy them. We will also be concentrating on poetry during our tea-times. Fun!
Because the boys neglected their school and household chores this week, we need to do school tomorrow. I don't imagine that will go over well.
Lots of extra-curriculars happening around here. We went to the zoo on the weekend with my sister and niece, it was interesting to see the animals starting to shed their winter coats and others still pure white like the arctic timber wolves. So beautiful. We discovered that camels grow a very shaggy, thick coat in winter and it is falling off in clumps now. Spring and fall are my favourite times to visit the zoo. The animals are much more active than in the heat of summer. Of course you run the risk of being a voyeur to animal mating in spring. I can't tell you how many times we had to explain to our very small children that no the daddy lion was not hurting the lady lions... I do think that animal reproduction and mortality are wonderful ways of broaching those subjects with children. It is so matter-of-fact and easy to see from a scientific viewpoint.
On Wed. the boys both had bible study and we had a homeschool get-together with 4 other families. The mommy's try to learn a bit and share, while the kids play together. There could be up to 23 kids (so far I think the most we have had was 15) ranging in age from my youngest at 2 to my oldest at 13 and 3-5 girls and the rest are boys. For all that energy, we barely hear from them and there are surprisingly few altercations.
Both boys are going to be testing for their green belts at approximately their 1 year anniversary of taekwondo. I am so proud of them, they have worked very hard at it. They also are both in hockey playoffs and tournaments from now into April. So lots going on here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Home Education Outlawed in California???

I am absolutely appalled that these judges in California are taking away parents rights to teach their own children, to decide what is right for their own children.
Check out this Dr. Dobson episode for all the details.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Not much has changed.

Wow, I can't believe that I have neglected writing here for so long. There is not a lot to tell. I am still feeling frustrated often with my children's lack of motivation and drive. I don't get it. But I do know that I need to make more of an effort to be completely present to them as opposed to being distracted with other things. Like blogging:)
A girlfriend gave me an idea last week that she has started with her kids. If they do not finish their book work by noon they have to pay a fine. I told my kids that the fine is $2. For each hour after that the fine is an additional dollar. Last week, in 2 days I collected $15 dollars. Not good. They seriously need to learn to just get down to business. We will see how this week goes. Either they will figure out how to use their time wisely or I will be going for a really nice dinner with my husband.
Here is a pic of my son blogging. It was my tricky way of getting them writing this year, they both really like it. Unfortunately I had to take away their computers after New Year's because they were cruising the internet when they were supposed to be blogging. ugh. Maybe we will be able to try it again by the end of this week.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting it off my chest

Things have not been going so smoothly lately, the kids have once again become experts at procrastination and driving their mother batty. I just don't know how to handle their constantly sneaking off and their constant chatter and bickering. One morning I found myself sitting by them, repeating over and over, "Be quiet. Be quiet. I said be quiet. Stop fighting. I mean it. Be quiet. Stop talking. Stop talking. shut your mouths. please. Be quiet. SHUT UP!" I so wish I was kidding. They seriously sat for hours just chattering, bugging their siblings and accomplishing absolutely nothing. Even when I separated them it wasn't any better.
These are intelligent kids who are 10 and 13. You would think that they would figure out that if they just finish their assignments then they get to move on and do something else. Something fun maybe! And mommy won't yell. And they could do something else! Apparently that reasoning is beyond them.
Not entirely beyond them though. Today, R (10), is determined to finish his weeks worth of work, so 3 days worth in one day. Daddy told him that if he did that he could rent a video game. He got up at like 7 and did 3 French lessons and has now finished 3 math and 3 handwriting assignments. Yeah baby!
His older brother has yet to show his face. He is awake, but is still hiding in the bathroom. He has been giving me some major attitude lately. Last week he was p.o.'ed all day because I dared to give him a writing assignment. He figured he should just be able to write about whatever he wanted. (Which they often do) Another afternoon he was mad because I asked him to do a good copy of his report. How dare I? Obviously I don't ask for good copies near often enough. And actually I had required the good copy be finished the week before and had asked for it every day since and he was dragging his feet. So I wouldn't let him out of his chair util it was done. I am so mean.
Between them they missed 3 or 4 taekwondo classes last week because they were not finished their assignments by the time we needed to leave. I decided that there would be no more extra-curriculars until they started getting their school done. I am sick of waiting all day for a small amount of work to be done. It is ridiculous.
I am sure that being pregnant is not helping my attitude any, I think I have far less patience. I hate that. And I don't want school to mean fighting and yelling. I want them to love learning, which they do. They just don't want me to expect them to actually do anything. Which is not acceptable.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Our Week Off

4/2/08

So far our week off has been pretty productive. The kids have worked on poem memorization, played Age of Empires, played street hockey, entertained their siblings....

Wait a second! Juju just read his first book, all on his own! A little book called Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. Yay Juju!

On Tuesday we went to the library, I gave the boys each a list of types of books I wanted them to bring home. I got the list from The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother Jessie Wise. Jessie used to give her kids this list when they were young.
1 Science book
1 History book
1 art or music appreciation book
1 practical book (craft, hobby, how-to)
1 biography or autobiography
1 classic novel (or age appropriate adaptation)
1 storybook
1 book of poetry
They did okay, R was really into it. The classic novels were the hardest to find. Weird.
Now they are all reading up a storm.

Wednesday
I got 2 cd's about the life and music of Bach (Classical kids: Mr. Bach comes to call and Introduction to the Classics: Bach) and we are going to listen to them this afternoon while they get out their drawing books they picked and practice drawing (comics I think)

We have been listening to the Secret Garden on cd, so good!
R. has always been interested in cooking. When he came home with a cookbook yesterday, I was reminded that even at 6, he was always bringing kid's cookbooks home from the library. He has already planned a 3 course meal, so I am going to help him make up a grocery list and put his meal together.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Red Letter Day!

Woohoo!
It is noon and I am done teaching! I have been waiting for this day for months!
Math? check. Spelling? Check. Handwriting? check. Social Studies? check!!!! English? punctuation, check. journaling, check. Bible? check. French? one child done, the other has independent work to do.
Yay! The boys are working on mapping our neighbourhood and R has to do his French and then they are done. Unless of course I find my Science cd-rom soon and then I will make them do their pre-test and study. I hope I do find it, but I am looking forward to getting lunch done, have them do their chores quickly and booting their cute butts outdoors to enjoy the sun and snow.
Maybe we can make this home education thing work! Even with a new baby in the house.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

So we have a nice rhythm happening in our school days. Math, Spelling, Handwriting, French, journal/writing. And then.....
we get stalled.
We need to start our new Grammar program. We need to start our new Social Studies unit. We need to do our Science test and move on to the new chapter. We need to be doing more Bible memory work, we seem to have fallen out of the habit.
The reason we are stalled is because I haven't taken the proper steps in planning ahead. I have to get my but in gear. Find my Science test disk so that I can print out the pre-tests and tests. I need to do a week of the Grammar program ahead of them so that I can teach it. Yeah. Why did I think that the Latin Road to English Grammar was a good idea? I still do, I am just lazy about making time to do it. I have had the program sitting on my shelf for 2 years. I cut out and organized all the flash cards. I uploaded the audio to my iPod. And still it sits. Today, tonight even, I will do the first lesson. I think it will be fun! Don't you?
Oh and the flippin' library. I still haven't ordered my books for Canadian History. I hate the library. Hate. All I can think of while I am there or while I am reading a book from the library is germs. Of all the dirty hands that have touched the books. I realize many people love the library, I am just not one of them. If I could buy all of the books I need then I would gladly do that. I would go without lattes and food to buy the books. But sadly a great many of the books I need are not available for purchase. wah. So I need to bite the bullet tomorrow and leave my house and head to the library to buy my card. Once I have that, it is easy. I just go on my computer (joy!) and order my books.
Okay. I can do this.
Tonight: - Check over this week's math lessons
- Do first Latin/Grammar lesson
- Find my Science cd-rom and print tests
- Do a French lesson....
- Maybe work on my yearbook/scrapbook for last year...
Tomorrow: - Get past journaling on our list of school work
- GO TO THE LIBRARY!

I really can do this. I know I can.
Yep

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hockey Mom

My boys are the sweetest. Yesterday when they were suppposed to be journaling they wrote letters to the local NHL team about why their Mom is the best hockey mom ever. They are going to enter them in a contest for cool prizes. Like family tickets to a hockey game as well as dinner and a limo ride.
Are they cute or what?
Did I mention that their dad put them up to it? I think he really wants to go to the game, but it is pretty sweet that he recognizes all I do to make sports possible for our kids. I am a pretty lucky Mom and wife!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Not so bad

Well it did not go to badly yesterday. Our morning started with listening to the terrific New testament on CD I bought for Brent for Christmas. It is in the style of old Radio plays but true to the complete text of the New Testament. Awesome!
In school we started with math, as usual and that went well so we moved on to spelling. I have not taught spelling yet this year so we did the Spelling Power placement testing. I am very pleased with the results as R is one level ahead of where we left off and B is two levels ahead. Today we did the more specific tests and those were the final results. (R{10}is level C and B{13} is level G) We also managed to get in some handwriting, blogging/journaling and French. Not too bad for the first day back.
Today we started with our prayer and Bible reading: Ps. 1 and 2 & Matthew 10 & 11
I have finished the spelling placement and the boys are working on their math.
Science: We are finishing our reading for Module 3 and I need to print out the pre-test and tests for them. I love this module, we are learning about non-obvious variables, blind and double blind studies, graphing and interpreting results. Cool! I have decided to use science as exam taking practice. Easy choice considering that there are exams for each module. I am going to set them up formally to take these tests, this is not something we do very often, but I think it is important for them to know. They both plan on continuing their education, so they will need to know how to write an exam as well as how to study.
Handwriting: I have been using Handwriting Without Tears with R (10) and I have kind of let handwriting slide with the eldest. Today he decided to handwrite his spelling test. Big mistake. So I am doing some remedial handwriting with him using the same curriculum. I wish I had found it before he learned to handwrite because although he has some pretty letter formations, often the curly letters he writes are easy to mistake for other letters or letter combinations. Not so good.
Grammar/Punctuation: I will go over a page or two of The Usborne Guide to Better English. I hope.
Writing: 20 minutes of blogging
Geography: finishing off our unit on Canadian Geography

I need to get to the library and renew my card so that I can order all the books we need for our Canadian History unit.
I was flipping through a book I bought a year or two ago, The Usborne Guide to Better English: Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation. It is terrific! In five minutes of flipping I learned tons of things that I am doing wrong in my own writing. How embarrassing! It is a fun little resource and it even includes some activities and tests, so I think I will read it with the boys and we can do the activities. It is the least dry English book I have ever seen and it offers a very common sense approach to the subjects that makes so much sense to me. The book is British, so I am not sure how it would line up with the American standards of Grammar and spelling, but for us canuckleheads it works perfectly.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Journey

I had this idea that at some point in my home educating journey I would arrive. I would know what I was doing. That I would have many words of wisdom to bestow upon my fellow travelers.
Well it has been 5 years and I feel that I have absolutely nothing to offer. I often feel more lost than I did at the beginning. I think it is more that now I so painfully aware of how much I have yet to learn.
One thing that I have gathered is that boys are often not ready for formal education til much later than our 'school' system would have us believe. Most boys are not ready to sit in a classroom all day at the tender age of 6. I read many blogs of women who have children in school, I read of their struggles with their perfectly normal little boys being shamed and punished for being themselves in school. They are full of energy and life, anxious to explore everything around them. Sitting in a desk for hours at a time is almost impossible, especially without indulging in a little mischief.
These perfectly bright children are being taught to despise school and learning because a traditional classroom is not set up to accommodate their needs. They will fall behind and learn to hide their little lights or they will go the other way and become what it is they seem to be told daily - trouble.
Now I am not faulting teachers here. Teachers have to do the best they can to reach a large number of children in the most effective way possible. To do this they must require some semblance of order in their classroom. This is reasonable. I really do not know how a 'school' can meet the needs of all children. I am not sure how to integrate boisterous, little boys into a classroom, although I am sure it can be done without shaming them. Methods like where teachers put kids names on the board or have a behavior poster on the wall can not be the best way to manage behavior. Shaming kids is never the way to bring out a child's best.

Friday, January 04, 2008

To begin again

I am totally stressing about starting school again next week. I thought I would have all this planning and organizing time in December and I really had none. The weekend rush of sports and church is about to begin and I am completely unprepared for next week. All of our schedules are completely messed up and I know it is going to be a hard couple of weeks organizing and getting us all back on track.
Anyone have any tips?