Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mid semester check in.

Today, for the last hour, I have been hiding in my room instead of teaching school. I do need to go back down and do some math and writing with my littles, they totally deserve my attention, but I needed a break.
My twelve year old just refuses to cooperate at all and hasn't cooperated all year. I have about had all I can take and I sent him to his room. We have some ideas and I won't give up on him, but I am tired of the constant and stubborn refusal to do as he is told and the attitudes.
My 14 year old has made a big turn around this year. He is doing a great job of getting down to work in the mornings and cranking it out. Thank goodness. We have wee spots of trouble, bits of attitude, work I assumed was done but is not. Nothing too big and glaring though.
The 12 year old's attitude is unfortunately catchy. My 5 year old, an extremely eager learner, balks every time I ask anything of him. I get 'no's' and 'why do I have to do that's' and moaning and groaning and throwing one's self on the ground in tantrum if I ask the simplest thing of him. But then he turns around and begs me to do school with him.
Girly is eager to 'do school' as well, and she is pretty easy to get along with. Some whining and such, but mostly easy.
I am still finding it difficult to balance the attention my 12 year old seems to need and everyone else's needs. Especially when it comes to taking time for lessons with my littles. We are still a work in progress. sigh.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday Sum Up

We are settling into a nice routine around here. After a few hellish days with my 12 year old, things seem to be turning around. The big boys are getting their core, independent schoolwork done quickly and quite well, and for that I am extremely grateful. I am even finding time to fit in daily reading, printing and math lessons for my littler kids.

Things came to a standoff with the 12 year old about a week and a half ago. I was tired of watching him waste 5 hours NOT doing his school work, and giving me attitude and then wasting more time not doing his chores. I laid it out for him. He either does what he is told or I was going to stand behind him, with my hands on his shoulders to make sure he stayed in his seat and on task. I figured if he was working, I could gently rub his back and if not, I could give his shoulder a little squeeze to remind him to stay on task. He needs a LOT of attention and positive reinforcement. He acts out continually if he does not get those things. He especially needs physical touch, hugs and cuddles and back rubs.
I have been praying and worrying and praying some more about his behaviour and how to help him to find motivation internally as well as give him what he needs. As well as praying for patience so that I didn't end up yelling at him and hurting his heart.
Well the day started off badly and only got worse until lunch. Finally, something broke and he decided to get his work done. I was praising God! The next day was a honeymoon and things were pretty okay. Day three was hell. I just kept praying that God would give me guidance so that I would be helpful to my son and never hurtful.
Finally my son just outright said to me that I could not make him do anything. And I told him that he was right. I can't physically make him do anything. But I can make his life a living hell. (Maybe I lost my temper a bit with that statement, the outright defiance will do that to a person.) I told him that as of that moment, he no longer had any privileges, toys, electronics, activities. He could not go to youth, go to a friends, play with toys, play video games, go out of our yard without express permission. He was done. He would have to earn every privilege, every outing.
Then I went to my room for a quick cry and headed back down to continue to supervise and guide. I knew that I had to follow through and stay vigilant with him. I couldn't even leave him unsupervised. I convinced his Dad to go with me on this and back me up.
The next day was pretty hard. But we kept following through. On the third day, he sat down to do his bookwork before I had even brought the little kids down for breakfast. He smiled. He laughed. He was polite to me, kinder. And we praised this behaviour (once I got over the shock). He started earning back privileges. He missed the corn maze trip with the youth group last week, but this week he was able to attend the service. His better attitude and behaviour has continued and I have continued to be vigilant and to reinforce the good behaviour. I just pray that we can create new habits together that will last.
It was like having a brand new family culture this week. What a blessing. Thank you God.
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This high school course has been highly recommended to me: How to Become a Superstar Student.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teensy Tuesday

Excited today, B will be breaking out the new microscope. He will be checking out bacteria growth in his pond experiment. I think I will pull out the Discovery Toys microscope as well and let A and J check out the slides. They will think that is the coolest.
I have also assigned the boys to do a report on a Canadian Explorer. Basically because B needs something to fill his time:) He is continually looking for the next thing to do and without the Sonlight core I am just pulling stuff together on my own. And I have not spent enough time planning yet this year...
Our Draw Today program is going well, at least for B, he is totally into it and enjoying it. I wish that he required more of himself in the way of editing, revising because he does a wonderful job that would be fantastic if he would just spend the time necessary to keep at it until it was perfected. Although, it is hard to be the other way, like R and I. We are perfectionists and that can really hinder creativity. R does not really want to do the art, because he doesn't think he is good at it. That is why the Draw Today program is so wonderful, because they can succeed at it and feel talented. I can't wait to see what he does with it.
Right now, my R is driving a little batty. He refuses to stay on task for even five minutes. sigh. It is noisy here, I will give him that, the whole time we were working on our math, the decibel level was insane.
A and J both want to be involved in everything. J has me asking him addition and subtraction problems up to 10 and he writes them down and solves them. He is fantastic at the solving and we are working on the printing. A wants to "do math" as well. She had me dot write problems for her to copy. Couldn't just do the numbers, she had to have problems to solve like her brothers.
Home educating with 5 kids from 1 to 15 is never dull, and usually not that easy either.

As for the rest of our lives, B starts his YMCA volunteering today with Afterschool Mania. Basically he is a referee for a bunch of elementary school kids and I am sure he will love it. We need to run to the book store to get his first book for his Modern Classics course. He has 12 chapters to read for next Monday. I am sure he will be done by tomorrow:)I also need to take the boys to get their agendas still. I really want them to start planning their time on their own.
Big B is working nightshift all week, so our days and nights are without him. I hate it, but I am hoping to make it a week of afternoon fieldtrips to help keep it quieter for him. And to keep me sane. Today, we will take a walk in the sun, the weather is gorgeous still.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 2

Friday was more of the same but I did some math evaluation exams with the boys to see if we could skip to the next math level. We won't be skipping:) Which means that I need to order a new curriculum for R AND B now, unfortunately for my wallet. I was hoping R would be able to jump ahead because I have the next years curriculum that my friend gave me. For now I am printing off the Jump Math introductory fractions unit for him.

I will be ordering Teaching Textbooks 7 and Algebra 1 as well as the corresponding Life of Fred books as a fun add-on.

B will be working on his pond experiment today and starting his Modern Classics online Socratic Dialogue class. I am a bit geeked up over his reading list, some of my faves and books I want to read.

Both boys are continuing with their Writing Strands assignments and I am hoping to start The Latin Road to English Grammar again this week and Rosetta Stone French next month.

Some of my plans have been thwarted by missing books. J read Flat Stanley and then proceeded to lose it. I read the economics book I want the boys to read, left in on the couch and it went missing in the clean up. ugh. Apparently I need to clean up the family room. Again. For the third time this summer I need to declutter it after my kids have been cleaning it. They seem incapable of putting things away properly, they just keep stuffing everthing in and under stuff. So frustrating.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I realized today that I am not getting an opportunity to work with my littles. Between refereeing and guiding my older 2 and dealing with baby and home, I am not finding many teaching moments with A & J. I am going to have to schedule myself a bit more strictly I think, rather than going with the flow. ugh.
My goal is to start Flat Stanley with them this week and next week I want to add in reading, handwriting, and math games/activities. I also want to start taking dictation from them of their stories, and maybe have J do some dictation/copywork as his printing skills improve. As for science, nature study and appreciation will comprise the most of our work, I will add in fun experiments as we go along as well as lots of good books to read. Oh, I should go to the library and find Magic School bus videos, the kids love the books, though I find them painful to read. (I yawn so much while reading aloud and they are kinda long(-: )
After we read Flat Stanley, I will have them make their own Flat Stanley to send on an adventure by mail. I am hoping that our Stanley will fly to many places (maybe some of my blog friend's homes!) And the kids and I will map his journey's and hopefully find out a little about the places that he travels to.

Today was one of those days with R, it is 3:40pm and he has just finished his puny amount of school work and has not done his chore for the day (dishes). I have had to get after him numerous times today and he will not stay on track. Sigh. I am trying to stay positive and to keep my discipline positive, but I can tell you that my patience has really been tried today.

So the boys did their art, we watched the second segment of the video, B worked on a silhouette and R was editing his practice drawings in Draw Today. They worked on Day 3 of their Writing Strands assignments, B put together his pond experiment and R finished reading module 5 in Exploring Creation with General Science. I need to pick up printer ink tonight to print out his review and the fractions review I have for him. R also did spelling.
We will do our Bible reading tonight at supper as J was at a friend's all day, and I am about to put in the CD for bible memorization, A New Commandment.

I am praying for the key to unlocking R's motivation and love of learning. Pray for patience for me, please!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

day 2

Z's first birthday today! I can't believe that a whole year has passed already, what a blessing he has been to all of us.
Today R did spelling and what a difference a year makes. Last year he felt like a failure at spelling, he had a super-hard time with it. This has never made much sense to me because he adores reading. Over the past year he has continually challenged himself with more and more difficult reading material. And I think that may have affected his spelling abilities. We did a pretest for his lesson and he only had 2 wrong out of 20. I can tell you that he felt terrific, like he could just maybe be a good speller if not a great one!
Both boys did their Writing Strands and science, we finished Daniel 7 and the littles had their first swimming lessons. J was completely in his element, and both kids loved their lessons and felt very competent.
After lunch we went for a nature walk. I use the term 'nature' very loosely, there is a man-made lake nearby surrounded by trees and home to many waterfowl, muskrat and birds. B needed to collect pond water for a biology experiment and the kids love to watch the animals and explore. Turned out that the city had sprayed herbicide?!? in the area the day before, so we didn't do leaf rubbings or sit on the grass and sketch like we would have liked to. (Am I the only one who thinks it is inane to spray herbicide by a wetland? Or really anywhere in the city?)
We ended our day with breakfast supper, carrot muffins for birthday cake and lots of Z cuddles. At both 9:09 am and 9:09 pm on 09/09/09 I was nursing and cuddling my newly 1 year old baby Z, what a perfect way to bookend his special day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Day

I told the kids that this year we were going to enforce an reasonable start time so that we have time to accomplish our goals and still have some fun. Today was the first early morning. The children are to be ready to work at 8:30 am. This means that I want them fed, dressed, teeth brushed and sitting at a clean table with their books. I have a feeling that this is going to take a while to become habit. B was up, mostly because we made him get up before I took my Dad to the airport at 6:30 this morning. I wanted him to keep an ear out for A and J who were still sleeping.
Even with a warning call before I arrived home, B was not ready to go by 8:30 and R was not ready to work until 10:30am. He would not get out of bed and then he would not get moving. So tonight he has to be in bed by 8pm. I thought that would be a natural consequence of sleeping in... and I have a feeling that his father will awaken him before he leaves for work at 6:30am. Poor kid.
As for me, I am going to try and go to bed earlier and get up early to exercise and do devotions each morning before we get started.

I am going to try and keep a written record of each child's assignments and daily work here this year. Doesn't make for exciting reading, but I need to keep track.
B, R and I watched a short video on Stephen Covey's site about goal setting, we will watch the whole series and then set our own goals for the year. We went on to do the first of our Writing Strands' lessons, B in book 5, and R in book 4. I started reading the Evaluating Writing book. Wow. I realized that I have been hyper-critical of their writing, rather than encouraging it. Changing that immediately.
R did a spelling lesson to round off English for the day.

We read the first half of Daniel 7 together, it was a bit dry for the kids after the exciting stories they had enjoyed over the previous chapters. A and J went over their Sunday School memory verse and then we started to memorize Psalm 1 (in song) together. B is going to memorize Ps 136 and R chose Ps 43. (I probably need to check, I have a feeling that Ps 43 is super short.)

B reviewed his first science chapter, as I am going to retest/review the chapters he has done as he finishes the lab work he couldn't do previously due to missing supplies/microscope.

We finished off the day with Art. B and R started the Draw Today program, B loved it, but R is finding it difficult so far. I think as he relaxes and progresses that he will enjoy it more. He is very self-critical and a perfectionist like his mother and that can definitely hinder creativity.

Right now the boys are off on a walk, E is sleeping, or I would have taken all the kids. I am going to discipline us all to get at least an hour of activity a day, especially before we get on our electronics. The boys were asking for computer time, so I sent them on a walk. And R has homework (his writing strands) before he has any chance of computer time. I think he will not have any at all, as a result of a poor attitude for most of the day. ugh.

Tomorrow is a new day and I look forward to continuing our adventure then. Hopefully we will all be renewed in spirit and mind.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fresh New Year

I am really excited to start a new year of home educating. There have been many days in our journey that I wished we could just quit, but there is nothing like a fresh September and a big pile of books to awaken my joy.
We are starting out a bit slow this year. Science, Drawing, Writing and maybe a little Latin and/or French. Those are the resources I have on hand. Oh and economics and we will probably continue watching our Canada: A People's History videos. I am just hoping and praying that we can order our math and our Sonlight soon.
Nothing like opening that box of Sonlight, full of new books and *rubs hands gleefully* schedules! We don't always follow schedules that well, but I am hoping that my big boys will be working very independantly this year and it will be so helpful for their work to be already scheduled. Talk about a time saver!
For math I am making the change from Saxon to Teaching Textbooks this year, hoping to save my R from another year of torturous (to him) repetition. He just doesn't need the repetition of Saxon and the fighting with him to 'do math' has made us both hate math by now. I love Saxon, I think it teaches thoroughly, but it is just not a fit here. I will be starting him off with the Life of Fred books only though, I haven't seen them yet, but I have high hopes for the funny stories/curriculum wrapped into one.
We are still enjoying the last vestiges of summer around here, one last steamy weekend by the pool, hanging with friends. Next week we shall get back to schedules, and I am happy for it. I am counting the days until I can order the rest of my books!

ps if you are intersted in Sonlight, please use my button on the left to check out the site and sign up for a free account. You will recieve $5 off your first order and I will benefit as well!
God bless you as you start out this new year with your kids.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Charlotte Mason

I am just beginning my journey into Charlotte Mason's books, ideas and beliefs and it is changing my life. I am terribly excited about our future as a family.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Developmental Toys on sale!

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  • Toys for a six month old: They'll search for hidden objects (object permanence). They'll reach for themselves in the mirror, play peekaboo, crumple paper, roll from their stomach to their back and even respond to their name.

  • Toys for a nine month old: They are pushing toy cars, playing pat-a-cake and looking for hidden sounds. The baby toys they are playing with are also getting more fun.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Life lessons.

So we took a month off of school, not a week. I needed the break and so did the kids. They read tons of books and played outside, so not a waste.
This morning, I have been trying to get them going on their book work while I read about a new-to-me math program called Jump Math. The book work is not happening, but what is may be more beneficial. The big kids are taking time to teach the little ones about chess and now go-fish. How can I make them stop to do yet another math lesson!?

Monday, March 16, 2009

My own spring break

I think we are taking the week off of bookwork. I am way too tired of fighting with R and I need a break. The kids played outside and are watching movies while I hide in my room with a home-made latte and my computer. The bliss is almost overwhelming!
It has been a rather lovely day, the big kids have played with the little kids and kept them amused, they even played with the baby for an hour. I love that they are all so close and that B spent enough time out of the house this weekend that he is not nearly so testy as he has been of late.
I am giving the kids a completely free day, I even did R's dishes. B did go out and shovel though, poor baby. hee hee.
I am going to get caught up on my marking this week and get re-organized I hope. We are almost done with our curriculum for the year and I can't wait to change some stuff up for next year. I am going to go all computer based for Ry next year with the addition of a bunch of good books to read. All computer taught, all self-marking and give us both a break! I am going to use curriculum with the others too, I need the safety net of knowing it is all being covered for a while. I am so tired of stressing about it and trying to piece things together and going against my own grain. I think sonlight will be the best way to go, one-stop shopping. Best thing is, B can be responsible for all his own stuff, he is way more than capable. We will most likely add in some of our school board's online courses for fun and interaction. Now I just have to pray for the resources to afford curriculum, as I haven't been able to for the last few years.

Hmm.. think it is time to get out of my jammies and go out into the sunshine for a while.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Focus Locus

Yesterday and today, R has listened to music on headphones while doing his math. This has seemed to help him focus and he has completed his assignments in about 20 minutes as opposed to hours of sitting and doing nothing. Not sure if it is really the music or just a behavior anomoly, but I will continue to let him do this as long as it lasts.

A and J and I did writing and reading today already as well as cuddling up on the couch and reading the Magic School Bus and the Human Body. Tons of information in that book, a bit much for one setting with those two, but they sat through the whole thing and we even discussed it a bit.

I need to go through the microscopy kit today to make sure B has what he needs for his labs next week. Maybe while I have the microscope out, I will let A, J and R look at their cheek cells as explained the the Magic School bus book. And find on the internet how to take photos with my microscope!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


We are easing back into a schedule this week.
For the preschooler/kindergartner
First we pu together our magnetic calendar for January.
A, J and I are sitting together at the table with slates and chalk. We took out the capitol letter cards and made some with our shapes and now they are playing. A also did the F page in HER exercise book. J practiced writing numbers while A and I read a number book.
Her and I also went over the short vowel sounds for a, e, i & o; she doesn't seem to have retained much so far, but repetition is the key. It is good for J to hear the sounds as well, even though he is reading quite well.
For some social studies we read O Canada, our National Anthem together. It has beautiful photos to go with the words and then short history/bio of the anthem and its writers.
For science we listened to Jonathon Park and I will go through the lesson with Ry later and they will listen.

R & B are doing math, writing strands, handwriting. B started his Biology program this week, it is his high school class. He is also doing Logic and Greek & Latin roots/vocab. R is doing spelling workout. B is done for the day and R is barely started. ugh. It's 3pm! He just put in some earphones and seems to be getting down to it finally.

Monday, January 05, 2009

It's 2009!

Today we should be getting back at it, but I am not feeling it. My brain is still on holiday. But it has tuned out to be a pretty fab day anyway.

The littles had J's new art kit out before I was up this morning and they were sculpting:) Other than that it was a lazy morning.
After lunch, I put on Mozart's Magic Fantasy, part of the Classical Kids stories. It is based on Mozart's Magical Flute Opera and I bought the study guides that are full of interesting tidbits for a comprehensive music study and cross curricular ideas. So we just listened to the first act and read a bit and discussed what we heard. The kids responded quite well. Then J and A played with a spelling puzzle they got for Christmas while R started his chores.
We were listening to a Jonathan Park Cd, which they also received for Christmas. I found it informative and entertaining, if not a bit preachy. Okay a lot preachy. The kids on the other hand, loved it! I also have the study guide that one of my dear children has already misplaced. I hope to find in and go over the information in there. edit: The study guides are all available on the website as pdf's, as are ideas for real life adventures for your family!
Now we are listening to G.A. Henty's With Wolfe in Canada on cd while the kids paint and draw. J is experimenting with colour mixing and A is having fun making shapes with her brush and stamping. The big boys are drawing and helping with the littles.
I think my off day has been rather productive. Maybe we will learn some kitchen skills in a bit.