Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gotta disagree!

From Charlotte Mason:

Reading to Children––It is a delight to older people to read aloud to children,
but this should be only an occasional treat and indulgence, allowed before
bedtime, for example. We must remember the natural inertness of a child's mind;
give him the habit of being read to, and he will steadily shirk the labour of
reading for himself; indeed, we all like to be spoon-fed with our intellectual
meat, or we should read and think more for ourselves and be less eager to run
after lectures.

While I think some kids may try to depend on the adult to read, I know that my reading aloud to the kids did not in any way hamper my dd's reading (she is a voracious reader) and it helped the 12yo see books as actually interesting things, rather than just work imposed upon him. Not to mention there are a ton of benefits of reading aloud to kids. Read Jim Trelease's book The Read Aloud Handbook and you'll certainly be convinced! I also tend to read books to the kids that they wouldn't necessarily be able to read on their own.

Where the heck do people get their ideas from???

I was on a web board today where some people had written some negative things about homeschooling. Comments were things such as it was better to have your first experience being bullied when you were a child instead of when you're an adult or it was better to learn to deal with people pressuring you when you're a kid instead of when you're an adult.

Who says?

What sort of psychological mumbo jumbo is that?

Kids don't have the reasoning powers adults do. How are they better prepared to deal with this all as children? They are far more likely to be negatively affected by it all. If you've never been bullied before and you've grown up to be a fairly self-confident adult, the first time somebody tries to say some nasty comment to you, you'll look at them like they're nuts, not take it personally the way kids would.

Having undergone some form of abuse as a child actually makes you LESS likely to stand up to abuse as an adult. Where they heck do people get their crazy ideas from?!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Kids haven't changed

I've been reading more CM stuff--some of it is wonderful, some of it I'd never do with my kids, I don't think, but think it's just the thing for the 12yo!

I laughed as I read this today and thought, "Kids are kids, no matter what era!"

The Schoolboy's Home Work.––In the matter of home work, the parents may
still be of great use to their boys and girls after they begin to go to
day-school; not in helping them, that should not be necessary; but let us
suppose a case: 'Poor Annie does not her finish her lessons till half past nine,
she really has so much to do'; 'Poor Tom is at his books till ten o'clock; we
never see anything of the children in the evening,' say the distressed parents;
and they let their children go on in a course which is absolutely ruinous both
to bodily health and brain power.

Wholesome Home Treatment for Mooning.––Now,
the fault is very seldom in the lessons, but in the children; they moon over
their books,....

Oh, now, does THAT ever sound familiar!!!! lol. Granted, I don't have the kids here working until ten o'clock at night, but taking an hour to do something that should only take 5 minutes is very common place!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I had a *ding!* moment (like a lightbulb moment) this morning about part of my dissatisfaction with this year: dd is really an upper elementary student and the two oldest are, of course, older than that. I don't know a whole lot about upper elementary approach! I don't know what's different, what's the same. I do know they move more away from materials. But that's about it. Ds, although I've registered him in grade 1, would be one of those kids who would still be in Casa. I realize part of me has been trying to treat him as a lower elementary.

So, *ding!*.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday night musings

I'm sitting here in front of the tv (barely watching it--nothing really on; NUMB3RS isn't on for the 2nd week in a row :( ), laptop on my lap (go figure!), reading the Charlotte Mason series.

I've only started the Preface of the first book, which brought on certain connections to some stuff I've read recently about the method, which then connected with some things I know about the Montessori method. One of these things was the with CM, they do a lot of copywork. This is actually part of Maria Montessori's devisings for a number of the language activities at the elementary level and it had never clicked before. Some of the grammar activities even used sentences from famous Italian literature. The difference is instead of being given a specific passage to copy each day, the students will be copying from whatever materials they have and have chosen.

But there's an issue with this at home--there are sooooooooo many materials and so few students that I've found a lot of my materials go unused. It's rather discouraging. Dd does so much better seeing somebody else do something first before she gives it a shot--but who is there to be sitting down using those materials?

But this is beside the point; I've gone off on something that was not what I actually decided to blog about. What I wanted to say was this: I wish Maria Montessori had written more about her early development of the elementary program with families who had been using her methods at home or whose children had outgrown the Casas and wanted to continue at home. I KNOW it could not have been a ton of cards and materials everywhere in the house. So what did they do exactly? What has been developed and is used today in classrooms was designed for the classroom of multi-age groupings with lots of kids. This is not what she would have encouraged for parents approaching elementary at home.

Shoot, distracted and the thoughts are gone. Guess that's it for now.

Spring Break is Here!

My school day is over. A week off. Sort of. I'll have my nephew and niece M-F next week, but it'll probably end up being mainly play. I think I'd still like to keep in mind some activities we could do, especially when the boys get too rowdy! Science stuff is always good. I know dd and ds wanted to make this gloop stuff (cornstarch and water). I'll also focus on reading Dragon Rider with dd, make sure to get some reading time with ds each day and hopefully work on this French book I started reading to dd. Part of me wants to put it away and she can read it when she's older--we thought it was a dragon book when we purchased it and it turned out not to be, so there's a sense of disappointment with it--but something in me is telling me that if I drop the book now, it'll never be read. Because we've already started and there's this little inkling of prejudice against it (for not being a dragon book). So, I think I'll make myself read it to her this week.

Other plans for the week: work on my taxes, work on putting my school receipts together, finish the 16yo's (almost typed 15yo there!) work breakdown for the last 3 months (well, two months, really), read CM books and get some planning done for when school resumes. Oh, and work on resume and letter to send to a school board. Wow. Lots I want to get done! This is the first year that I won't have specific house goals in mind. I want this other stuff to get done. I also had an idea pass through my head the other day and not sure what I hadn't thought of it before. Right now, all my receipts are a disorganized mess. And I haven't been using the Quicken program I purchased last summer. I also realized that I would really like to have some sort of yearly binder or something for the dayhome and a separate one for dealings with the school board. It hit me that I can get some cheap accordion files to keep the stuff in. I saw it so clearly in my head--the dayhome file would have sections for the different receipt categories I need to track and the school board file would have correspondence stuff, ed. plan, receipts, etc.

So, those are my plans and ideas for now. But right now, this instant, I need to go pick up our pizza!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Workbooks

New workbooks are always exciting! lol. At least when the kids pick them or I've picked right. We went to an A Beka display a few weeks back, specifically to look at cursive workbooks and to see whatever else they might have that might be useful. They are the ONLY company I know that have cursive workbooks suitable for K/1 students. Everybody else seems to start in grade 3 or 4. So we had a look and picked the K5 book for ds and dd decided on the grade 4 Penmanship Mastery. I let ds watch a movie this afternoon and handed him his workbook after it arrived. He started working on it during the movie! lol. Dd has already said that she wants to work on it "with me" later. She just likes the comfort of having me there to make sure she starts off correctly.

I'm really impressed with the K5 workbook. I think it'll be great for ds. But I really want to be with him most of the time he does it so we can review the phonics involved--especially since the workbook's phonics will be English and he's learning French! And the grade 4 workbook seems to have just the right amount of practice per day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thinking about Charlotte Mason

I've toyed with the idea of using a CM-approach with the 12yo in the past and I'm thinking more and more about incorporating yet again some of the ideas into his daily work. This thought came back to me after I was thinking about what to do about the 15yo's (sorry, 16yo!--birthday is today) and dd's fear of writing in French, especially spelling. The thought had come to me that they should copy stuff. Then I read something which encouraged that idea. Then something else stumbled my way which encouraged the idea again. In the same thing was stuff about the general benefits of copywork. Which then had my brain thinking about the 12yo. And then it popped over to CM. (Yes, my brain is constantly searching for other connections!)

So I'm looking yet again into CM with him a bit more. Specifically, narration and copywork, but possibly also the scheduling, although I think he prefers to have just a large block of a particular subject (like LA) rather than messing around with doing 15 minutes of, say, copywork, then switching to math, then back to phonics, then to science, then to reading, then to social, then to grammar, then to math facts practice... It'd look like a long list of stuff to him. I was going to say--Plus it would require strictly adhering to a schedule and that won't work--but maybe it's not such a bad idea to make sure to institute a time limit. Where are my timers??? We've only got one. I had 3 at one point. He doesn't like timers, but I suspect it's because of the accountability. I mean, if you know the timer was set for 15 minutes and you've got nothing done, it's not such an easy thing to face when you've been trying to convince yourself you do a lot of work!

In any case, this would start after spring break. It'll give me the full week to read, read, read and see if there's more that I would like to incorporate. I suspect that I really ought to have a set amount of phonics work to cover each day. Our routine right now is working fairly well, but he's still not doing quite enough, especially for writing or the thinking behind writing (we've started oral composing). It was like pulling teeth the other day to get him to tell me about his aunt. I was going to write everything down for the paragraph, but he still just gets so stuck in trying to find the 'right' thing to say and is convinced that most of what he has to say is wrong. So this idea of narration, that he reads a little something then has to tell me orally about it and I'll write it down sounds like something useful. I know I'd thought about this before but it somehow never took place. I don't think I had a clear enough image in my mind of how it could work. But since finding a wider variety of things for him to read to me or me to read with him, it seems so do-able now.

This is not an approach I'm at all interested in taking with ds and dd, except for perhaps the French copywork for dd as a way to study written French. I still like too much the exploratory, research and interest-based approach of Montessori.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Morning Work with ds

Two mornings in a row, I've got ds after he got up and done some work with him. This is working so well! I read with him yesterday and had him practise writing "a", then he did a math page on < > and =. Today, we did a Lapin Malin (Reader Rabbit) early reading cd-rom, then he did math stuff at He spent an hour doing that!

But this week seems to be starting slowly for everybody--weather, tiredness and looming illness. But ds is doing well! lol. Except for the fact that he's extra tired for some reason and super crabby and sensitive.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Last Week Before Spring Break!

I've been meaning to write all week, about different things, but I didn't and the thoughts are gone, forever. (lol)

My Pi Day plans didn't work out after all. The 12yo didn't come that day due to illness (he's been sick all week--a cold again, plus tonsillitis and an ear infection--but Wed. was the only day he didn't come), and dd worked on a project and goofed around on the laptop (I set her up with Windows Live Messenger and the 15yo had her laptop on, too, and they kept sending messages to each other, lol--you'd think it was school or something ;) ).

What have we done exactly? (Thinking, thinking, thinking.) I took ds, dd and my niece to a French Club get-together Wednesday afternoon. Oh, yes. Dd had the stomach flu on Thursday. She'd been complaining for a couple of days of feeling achey and had a reduced appetite. Finally had its way with her, but then was done with, on Thursday. Friday we were supposed to have a St. Patrick's Day party but nobody ended up being able to make it. lol. Or the one person who in the end we were expecting forgot or I don't know yet. Haven't heard. (Which actually kind of worries me...)

It was a good Friday anyhow, perhaps better for us than if we'd had a bunch of people. Very relaxing. Had my nephew that day, too, and he, ds, dd and the 12yo went out for a long walk together--ds in control of the walkie talkie. :) And before the "party", the 15yo even got a bit of work done.

Speaking of the 15yo and work... Ever since I drew up a 'schedule' of things broken down per day/week, she's really been doing quite well. I think having everything laid out like that, seeing clearly if you're getting further behind or catching up, is just the sort of thing she needed. She was also at a point of having to choose: does she go a little slower with the material and finish later, or go through a little quicker than is desirable to catch up to the 'schedule'--she chose catching up. We didn't do that first semester, although she was so exhausted first semester, I'm not sure it would have helped necessarily.

Oh, we've discovered something that does help her: coffee. She had coffee two or three mornings this week and WOW! What a difference in her ability to think!! Whether it's just her natural sleep cycles or whether it's because she usually doesn't get home until 9-9:30 so isn't ready to go to sleep yet, she doesn't usually get to sleep until sometime between 11pm and midnight. Then her alarm gets her up at 6:30. Not enough sleep for most teens! (When she has nothing going on, she sleeps from about 11:30 until 9-9:30!) But that coffee... Man... You should've seen it. This girl, who had been struggling with simple math stuff a week earlier, totally understood the new stuff, flew through the sheets, never had her brain shut off... She says her dad won't let her have coffee but her mom will (her mom drove her all week). Where does that put me in allowing her to have coffee here or not??? I know her dad would say okay if I told him it really does help her work. He's cool that way. (And the 15yo and I have been discussing the possibility of me sending a "prescription" (her word) home. lol.) Dh says he'll make some extra in the morning and she can have some if it really does help. It's been an interesting learning experience: I wouldn't normally have said, "Oh yeah, go have coffee! You're almost 16!" Dh even questioned me: "Would you let dd drink coffee at 16?" I hesitated. Then I said, "If it helped her the way it helps the oldest, yes." It's not like she's having coffee all day. One cup and she's set to go for the morning at least. And it really DOES make a difference in the quality and quantity of work. It's like dealing with a student who can only get a maximum of 50-60% to a student who can get 70-80%. Which can not be said for Ritalin with "ADD/ADHD" kids. But I digress.

As for the actual topic of this post, this is my last week before spring break. We really only have 3 work days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I'm hoping to get some done on Friday, too. Wednesday is when the 15yo will become the 16yo. :D. We always have the day off on birthdays. And I planned for that when I broke down all her work. And Friday is the last day. I think the 15yo will need to work on her stuff for sure, plus I've taken out the movie To Kill a Mockingbird to watch--although I need to preview it to make sure I can actually let the others watch it. I'm guessing we should probably watch it before lunch and then let them have something a little more fun in the afternoon. Or maybe we should go somewhere. If I don't take the kids for lunch for the 15yo's birthday, I'll take them out for lunch that day.

As for work... Dd's got this penguin project she wants to finish. I'm going to make a more concerted effort at working with ds from 7-8 each morning. And then some reading together in the evenings. (Which reminds me: I want to order some books for him. We discovered this series in French at the library, but they don't have many of them. He LOVES them and is learning to read so many words with them. But I'll have to buy some. And heck, I've got funding to use up! lol. Ok, back to work plans. The 12yo is going to be doing more reading and I have to figure out a way to make sure he ABSOLUTELY does writing. We're actually going to do writing in two ways: he's going to dictate some stuff to me (which I may or may not have him copy out) and he'll do his own writing in a daily journal. It went well when we were doing the daily journal--it could be anything from what's going on in his life or the start of a story. I took some ideas from the grade 8 LA K&E (the easiest LA available--Knowledge and Employability) but I know he's not emotionally ready to tackle writing a couple of paragraphs on his own. I'm willing to take dictation, though, but he has to get into a habit of writing. Even if it is only 3 or 4 days this week.

I guess that's it. It's Sunday and I've managed to work things out so that I have today off. Yay! So I'm going to go play Sims 2 now. :) Then have a nap later in the morning before taking the kids to Science Sunday at the university. It's so nice to not have school planning (no, above doesn't count because it's more or less a rehashing of what I worked through yesterday; I'm just sharing :) ) and the laundry's done, the house got fairly cleaned on Friday for the party we didn't have... I used to do this, have Sundays off, and the feeling I have now at not having to do any work today makes me want to make sure to ALWAYS have Sundays off.

Ok, off to play!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's Einstein's Birthday!

Dh saw a little poster I put about about Pi Day and he chuckled and said, "That's right." (He's a math teacher; has been for 9 years.) Then he added, "It's also Albert Einstein's birthday."

He's right! Well, lots of themes going on today! I've now got to see what I can find out about Albert Einstein that I can share with the kids or make available for them to do.

Happy Pi Day!!

I've printed off some worksheets on circle circumference and area. What I'm really hoping to do, though, is have them draw some circles and work out the circumference and area of actual circles. And possibly have them measure something round then see if the math works to determine the circumference.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why do Monday plans rarely work out?

What IS it about Mondays????

My plans totally fell through. Couldn't do the morning meeting--only dd to meet with. The two oldest didn't get home until about 11pm last night and slept in this morning, showing up just before lunch. That also means that the 15yo, who did manage to do a chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird with me and start some science, but she found herself falling asleep! She's now napping. Her brother is tired and has a new cold AND ear infections (can barely hear me when I ask him things)... Dd is tired and grumpy about school stuff and ds is a crab. I expected these last two, but my plans totally fell through! I wasn't prepared to have just dd and ds this morning.

But now I wonder what the 15yo is going to do about all her work. She's aware that she's got a LOT to do. But she's so tired and worn down. I should know better than to fret about all of this--past experience has told me that when I focus on prayer and letting go, everything falls into place just wonderfully. Time for me to do that. (Well, not RIGHT this instant. lol)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I want to be done!

I'm hitting a point of not being able to work anymore. I mean work today. I've done... actually, I'm not sure how much. I'd say close to 2 hours this morning, another 2+ hours this afternoon... Plus did some laundry, vacuumed and ran out downtown to get a copy of a dvd before they didn't have any left (I got the last one).

I'm just feeling done. It's 5:40 (internal clock says 4:40) and I've had enough! But I'm not actually done. I have one last math sheet to finish for this week, science to look through (that I don't mind doing in front of the tv tonight or something), To Kill a Mockingbird (read through a few chapters quickly) and I've decided to leave the final part of the French planning for tomorrow morning. I still have to work out a rather detailed school plan, but that's something I can do sitting down with paper and pen. I guess I'm just really sick of being at this computer.

I'm getting off!!!!!

omg I'm tired

If it had been any other day, I would have let myself sleep longer. But looking at the clock, the "new" time was 6:30. I knew my mind would never let me sleep longer. Besides, even if I sleep past 5:30 tomorrow, dh's alarm will be going off at 6. I don't have the ability to fall asleep for 7 or 9 minutes at a time (snooze button). lol. So I figured I might as well start training myself.

The kids' alarm is set for 7am. I'm cruel, aren't I? lol. But it'll help with tomorrow. I realized, too, that my original thinking to work first thing with my kids might not work out for a little bit as I suspect even my ds will be tired this week. Dd's going to have a rough go of it: she has been sleeping until 7 and often past lately. As I finish up my planning for this week, I really have to keep in mind that the kids are probably going to be tired and slow. And resistant. I wonder how kids at Montessori elemenatries and plus or at Sudbury Valley are after a time change?

Just some rambling to get out of my head these random thoughts that keep popping up:

Tuesday: library--the 12yo can find some books on chemistry and science experiments for us to use for the next little while (I should probably check today in the online catalogue to see if I can find some French stuff and have it sent over to a nearer library).

Wednesday: French club get-together

Thursday afternoon: lady from Sears to look at blinds

Friday: St. Patrick's Day party and I have my nephew that day

General thoughts: keep going through Edison book with 12yo.

Okay, those thoughts didn't go far. lol.

For today:
-finish up the 15yo's math worksheets, plus do answer sheets
-read through the sections she'll be doing in her science text
-read through the next few chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird
-finish French phonics/spelling prep
-really plan everything out (some things have become routine, like his phonics/spelling; I love that he's so used to it, there's no fuss)
-I need to remember to include something for social studies
-focus: French--read the French book to her we bought, have her read to/with me (we've got some simple novels from the library), write together in French. I'm also going to invite her to participate in the phonics/spelling that the oldest is doing.
-focus on letters/phonics

Okay, enough thinking for now. I think my brain momentarily shut off completely. lol. That's what I get going to bed late the night of the clocks moving forward.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Great quote!

"You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event - it is a habit."
--Aristotle 384-322 BC. Philosopher and Scientist

I've discovered that the best time to do school stuff with my kids really is first thing in the morning!

I was ready and they were up. Not sure what time--7? 7:15? I decided to print off a worksheet for ds--+3--and I grabbed our bead frame (which he'd used the other day to count on) and set up the questions with 3 all ready. He loved doing the sheet and was so proud of himself when there were some questions he got really easily. I'm so amazed at his little math brain--so many wonderful strategies in there that are just there, nothing he's needed to be taught. [I'm just thinking: am I respecting the two oldest's differences? If at one point they did have good strategies, they've gone bye-bye, although the 12yo seems to be redeveloping some on his own. I think the 15yo did have good strategies for grades 7 and 8 math--but her desire was to learn and understand. Her mind has shifted to just doing the math, getting the right answer and moving on.] When he did 3+7 he really impressed me. The 3 was already in place and he looked at the beads left and it only took him a second to see that they were 7 (I think he can identify a group of 5 on sight). And he knew that one full row was 10. He said out loud, "3 plus... all of this. It's 10!" Very cool. He's also writing some very nice numbers.

I told dd I was going to show her something in math and that I wasn't going to ask her to do any of it, but she could ask me questions. I put something on the board like 4312 x 3. She said, "I can do that!" and wouldn't let me do it. lol. I've mentioned in the past and on different lists how this can be a valuable technique with kids who feel pressured by us asking them things. She made a small error and I showed her another way to look at the question to see why we add the 1 that we carry after we've done the multiplication. Then I showed her another question and she started coming up with all kinds of crazy questions: times, divide, questions with times, divide and subtract... She grabbed the calculator to see if I was right. But I verbalized EVERYTHING that I did. She's the kind of kid who will learn from the verbalization rather easily. Maybe not this time, but we do some large multiplication a few times like that and she'll be ready to try some on her own. I think the best part of it all was there was no frustration on her part, no feeling bad (not even about her small mistake), it was a very positive math time.

When we finished that, she just HAD to go get the book I took out from the library that I thought she'd be interested in: Arthur and the Invisibles. She says it's really, really good. She's been reading about 1.5 hours now.

My niece is now looking through books, as is ds. It's very quiet here. Except for the water pouring down from the water filter in the fish tank. I'm working on the 15yo's math sheets. I've pulled out the two texts we have and am going to take the best of each and put together some sheets. Each sheet will have a little simple review part at the top (max. 10 questions) and then move onto the lesson stuff, with an example followed immediately by practice questions (maybe 5 each, depending on how many different examples; there are 4 examples in the section I'm doing up today), followed by Extra Practice questions. She will decide for herself if she's going to do extra practice questions and which ones. If she keeps all the sheets, then the extra practice sections can serve as review/practice for just before units tests or her final exam.

Oh, distractions getting in the way. It seems it is now snack time and then we are going to go out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

50 People I Know

Read about this on Jane's blog. You don't mention names and the people reading should NEVER assume that it's about them! Heck, for all you know, none of this is about anybody who actually reads my blog! Many are people from my past.

1. I really don't get why you contacted me after so many years, thinking that things would just pick up from where they left off! And you did it in such a strange way, as though we'd been keeping in touch all those years and just hadn't talked to each other recently. Things just don't work that way.

2. You were the one teacher I felt really believed in me rather than simply acting as my teacher. Your words encouraged me and gave me strength when I was so insecure. I still remember your surprise at me saying I wanted to go into teaching instead of the sciences since my science marks were so high. I still carry that idea of doing something in the sciences some day. And of actually completing the writing of a novel and trying to get it published.

3. You've been a great friend for so long! I'm so glad you came into my life. :) I do wish you would move closer though, even though I know that's not likely to happen. I can still dream, right?

4. I miss you. :( It still hurts that I couldn't make it to your funeral and I miss the smell of your Old Spice.

5. I miss you, too. :( I still wish I'd managed to get your recipe for peanut butter chocolate balls. :) I love wearing your sweaters.

6. I don't know why you stopped writing so unexpectedly nor why you didn't write back when I managed to contact you years later. I do wish you hadn't left my life like that.

7. Yes, I had the biggest crush on you. Everybody was right!

8. I'm still mad on some level at how you treated me. Dropped me without any hint you were going to do it then acted as though we should still be buddy buddy a year or so later when we saw each other again. I mean, really, the first thing you said to me was, "Hey, I remember you!" I could have slugged you. Oh, and I would have let you kiss me if you'd ever tried. :D

[INTERMISSION: I'm sitting here typing and my kids are talking about something and all of a sudden I hear "f**k" from my ds's mouth. It clicked that they were talking about what they wanted to see at WEM and ds wants to see the seals (les phoques--pronounced just like the English f-word).]

9. I don't get why you had to have that attitude when we saw each other that one summer. Totally pushed me aside. It ruined our friendship--or maybe had me see that it was never a real friendship in the first place. And yet, you wondered what had happened between us?! I'd be willing to try again, though.

10. I wish I knew where you were right now. It's been so long! Last I heard you were sick and I don't know about anything after that.

11. I dream about you sometimes and am always so confused in my dream because part of me knows you've passed on and yet there you are, still alive, as though somebody's made a mistake or it was all a strange dream. We weren't super close but I still saw you as my friend.

12. Thinking of you makes me smile. I hope we'll be able to more together when you get back.

13. I wish you didn't live so far away. It's always fun being together! Hopefully we'll figure out a way to get our families together more often.

14. I wish you would somehow get the help you need. It's sad to see your fluctuating happiness be so dependent on how you think others view you. And learning to accept yourself would help you accept that the people around you are different because they are different people, not because they don't care about you!

15. I totally understand what you're going through. I lived it for a number of years. I really don't know what to suggest to make things better, though. No, you're not being unreasonable!

16. I can't believe you would use a child that way to get me involved! I'm so disappointed. It may have been a few years back and you never actually brought it up as you having done it, but I'm not stupid; I know what was really going on behind that letter. I do forgive you, though, as you've probably been lied to about what all has really happened.

17. Have you ever seen a therapist who suggested you might be bi-polar instead of just depressed? You had a lot of bipolar symptoms by the time we were in high school. Last I heard you were refusing to take your med for depression. That was quite a while ago, though. I hope things are better now.

18. I know things are tough. It may even feel to you like you've failed. You haven't. You've just learned another way to not do all that. :) Remember that he's just a kid and isn't going to see things the same way and may not be ready for what you expect of him.

19. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure you've realized by now that you're gay and stopped contact when you did realize it. L. and I are fine with that. You were a good friend and we had the hardest time imagining you with a girlfriend (big clue for us!). You were always 'one of the girls', even in elementary. You don't need to shut the people from your past out. Will we all approve of you being in a relationship with another guy? Some might, some might not, but that doesn't change that you're our friend.

20. I heard about what you said about me. Thanks. :) You were probably the most decent one of the bunch.

21. I read you've got a daughter but you're not with the mom anymore. Make sure to always take care of that girl! And don't give her the grief you gave us girls growing up! lol.

22. You were a pretty neat guy. It's a shame your focus was so much on partying. I still think about what you said to me in class that one day--about me being an 'old soul' and having learned already all the stuff I needed to and you were a young soul and had to go through all the stupid stuff.

23. I've always wondered if you knew why I backed off--others around could see where we were heading and I'm sure you did, too. It was because you got your name on the honkers list. It was a smack in the face, realizing that your idea of socializing on the weekends was never going to match up with mine. Otherwise, you were such a great guy. But why'd you end up with her right away? And stay with her? On the rebound? Are you still with her? She's a controlling, crazy girl!! You deserve better!

24. You are wonderful. Always so supportive, even if you don't actually agree with decisions we've made. I really, really appreciate that.

25. You were not supportive. I don't think you really understood that I did know what I was doing.

26. You don't need me to homeschool your boy. You will do such a great job! You and your dh should just take turns. I'll still help if I can with the French. ;)

27. Take the time to accept him for who he is, that his interests are different and that he's not rejecting you or the kids by following through on them. Give him a break, too! He's been working hard for a long time on those house projects and maybe he hasn't said it, but he's felt burnt out. Maybe you could learn to do the work for those projects instead. ;)

28. Consider the differences between you and him and how the two of you grew up. Consider that he might prefer to stay put in a single house for a long time instead of changing houses because things aren't quite right. Consider your kids' attachments and the stress it adds, too! There's no perfect situation. Accept where you are or make it work!

29. Why the heck did you ask me to go out with you if you didn't even really want to be with me? What a waste of time!!

30. I know it might not have made a difference and I'm not even related, but I feel bad for not having been in your life more growing up. The issues with your mom, you having a baby at 18, the breast enlargement... I wish I could have helped you be stronger. You had nobody reasonable to look up to.

31. I love you to pieces.

32. You can do whatever you set your mind to! You really can! The dreams you have are attainable if you believe in yourself!

33. I sometimes get so frustrated with you because I don't understand why you do the things you do or see things the way you do and you won't explain, but I am glad you're in my life.

34. You really consider that a marriage? What sort of model is that for your girls? Are you sure it's not just a way to avoid the whole dating scene? Are you sure he's not cheating on you or living with some other woman? Have you ever made a surprise visit???

35. I hope you've managed to work things in your life out better. It may have been horrible for me to drop you as a friend, but you just wanted so much more from me than I could give. I still don't know if I did the right thing, but you were already so convinced that not calling you twice a week meant that I wasn't your friend.

36. I think it's neat we've be given a chance to become friends now. In the past, things just weren't structured in a way that would have allowed us to become friends really. Interesting how things can change when school doesn't force you into grade-level friendships!

37. You are such a spark! So much passion, so much life. I hope I can do right by you.

38. I'm still mad at you, still have a chip on my shoulder about the exam you gave and the mark you gave me. More to the point, I've got this fear of university-level math now, like I can't do it (although the rational part of me says I can). I do blame you. How could you give an exam like that??? It didn't even have to do with what we did in class for the most part. What, 2 people passed the exam??? The kid who spent his free time learning calculus and beyond and one other (who still only managed to get, what, a 6 in the course)?

39. You were the coolest. I still think it's hilarious you ended up on SCTV way back when. Not what I was expecting of a German prof.

40. I think it's a shame you never had kids. You would have made a great dad!

41. I wonder what you would have grown up to be like if you'd lived that long. Would things have been easier with you around? Or would they have been even more difficult?

42. I wasn't a snob, just really shy. Overhearing you call me a snob just made it worse! I became even more fearful of talking to people I didn't know.

43. I really wish you the best in life. I hope that you will find true happiness and will do something you are proud of. I know things at home and at school weren't great for you growing up. You were kind of the outcast of the class. But I think you just had a lot of pain inside.

44. You were such a witch to me and I, being years younger than you, couldn't really see it. I suppose it couldn't be helped with that mother of yours...

45. I've never actually met you or talked to you or had any contact with you, but I've heard ALL about you. You've got to grow up sometime and take a good look in the mirror. You are so desperate for friendship and hound people but you destroy the people you are supposedly friends with. Treat others the way you want to be treated!!! Do you know that looking at a list of characteristics of an abusive relationship, how you treated your supposed friend matched up with 80% of the characteristics? You are an abuser!!!

46. I've heard a lot about you, too. Is that the kind of life you really want to lead? You're going to end up pregnant, addicted to drugs and suffering from an STD... all before you graduate high school.

47. You've got so much potential, so many strong qualities. I wish I could remove from you whatever is inside that has you convinced you're no good. You could climb to great heights--if you let yourself!

48. I still feel what you did was wrong. It hurt so many people and I'm not sure you really gave things a fair chance, really did all you could. I do hope things will all work out for the best. Oh, and you might want to consider how much influence your significant other is having on you and what that is doing to your relationship with your kids. Especially with your oldest.

49. I still remember how respectfully you treated all of us and your comment about swearing-about how it just helped us be more negative and if we wanted to see things in a better light, not swearing was a first step. I still have no clue how that all came about since it had nothing to do with the subject matter, but I do still remember it. And I never developed a swearing habit. :)

50. I wish we could have spent more time together, gotten to know each other better. You've probably moved by now and we won't see each other again. You probably had no idea that I was so interested in you. I'm not sure we actually have a lot in common and could ever have been friends, but I was fascinated.

Thursday Morning Musings

It's 9:13 as I type this. I'm at the kitchen table with my kids. They're busy working on $1.50-building kits I bought from Michaels the other day. They've been at them almost 2 hours now. I'm at a loss as to what to do. lol. I tried seeing about science labs from the 15yo's text, but I need some information from the science teacher and she's out until Monday. The two oldest have left for their dive meet. My niece is keeping busy with all kinds of stuff. I have books that I could read, but I'm not in the mood for reading. Oh, and our one cat is trying to escape to the outdoors through the kitchen door. His nose is now pressed into the crack between the jamb and the door. He smells that air coming in (our weather stripping needs to be replaced) and he's certain that a little work will pry that door open. He's actually an indoor cat but because the door doesn't shut well for the kids, he has managed to open the door like that before and thinks he can do it again.

Back to my musings... Was I doing any musings? lol. I don't think I'll be doing anything more structured with my two today. I think we'll head to WEM, hang around and have lunch before going to an A Beka display. I need to be back by 2 because we're having digital phone installed.

hehe--my niece is having a little temper tantrum because dd put away her Groovy Girl pony and shut her bedroom door. My niece, being a toddler, thinks everything is hers, including dd's room. ;)

In any case, I haven't yet looked at some Montessori language albums I have to pick some possible activities to do with ds. I haven't entered anything into HST+ in a week. woops!

I've been thinking more about our homeschooling and what I liked from before and what's missing. I really feel the need to work with the kids more on planning. I'm reinstating our morning meeting on Monday and we'll discuss various topics:

-daily routine (including clean-up times, lunch routine--putting on placemats and all that)
-scheduling (different kids want my almost undivided attention for cetain activities; but also read-aloud time)

Hm, that's only two, but I guess there are lots of sub-topics. lol.

I really want us to get back into daily plans, goal setting. I thought about the 15yo yesterday and her self-created schedule and her view of herself not being able to apply herself more than she already is. Yet in her hour of time set aside for math, she'll do maybe 5 questions after we spend about 10 minutes doing examples together. I think as she starts each subject, or perhaps at the very beginning of the day, I'm going to ask her to set some goals for herself. For example, her science section next week has 5 sub-sections--works perfectly for one section a day. But I want her to plan ahead of time what she'll do if she doesn't complete her one section for that day. I can completely see her looking at me and going, "What do you mean?" What I mean is this: if she finishes her 1.5 hours of science and hasn't finished her sub-section, is she going to adjust her schedule to finish it, is she going to have a 'homework time' later on to finish up, is she going to take it home to finish, is she going to le herself get behind, or some other possibility that can be thought up. Same thing applies to her math--if she's decided she needs to do at least 20 questions and she hasn't finished her 20 questions, what will she do?

I need her to decide ahead of time what her plan is because I know it's far too tempting to just let things go if we haven't set a 'rule' for ourselves first. It will also be a good for her to see for herself what she is choosing and to deal with the feelings that will come up as she becomes aware of opposing desires: the desire to be done with work or the desire to succeed the way she wants to. If she goes with the desire to be done with work, then she'll be choosing to not work on success, will be choosing to be even further behind, and she'll know it. One other thing: I've decided to have her do a daily math review related to the textbook work. And I think I'll give it all to her on worksheets that I've prepared. She really does do better that way--it somehow motivates her more to not have to copy questions and bounce back and forth and to have just the questions she needs to do in front of her.

For the 12yo, we've actually got a growing good thing going. Regular phonics and spelling, math is so-so (but he does want to work from Ray's, which I can plan out better for next week), now Edison and wanting to work on chemistry experiments... I think with math I will also ask him what he would like to work on (from limited choices)--I mean, if he'd rather work on algebra instead of integers right now, what different does it make? I was very non-commital in his ed. plan about what he would do for science and social, so I really don't mind changing this to go with his interests. One thing we NEED to change is how much he reads each day. He's got to read with me each day and has got to have silent reading time. Oh, and writing. The silent reading will be brought up in our routine plans. But it's actually moving forward.

For dd, we've been improving a bit, too. She's been doing a little more in cursive, we've been reading more in French. We somehow have to fit in daily French writing. Or at least more French writing than has been going on. I think I'll just keep going through Ray's with her and doing some extra stuff on the side, like geometry or other stuff that isn't in Ray's. I'm almost thinking I'll start algebra with algebra tiles. She'd totally understand it.

For ds, we just need to have a time set aside for us to work together, I think. Or I need a list of little things I can pop in here and there. He was going strong for a while but doesn't want to so much now. Maybe it's just a matter of finding different things. He was totally fascinated with this science book we have--maybe I can come up with some activities for that.

Well, I'd best be going. Many distractions and it's now 9:44. Some cleaning to do before we leave.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


The oldest and I ended up having a brief discussion this morning. I don't think I brought it up well--my mind was so focused on it that it came out. But it was about math. I got a shock, though: "I don't know how to apply myself more than I already am." I almost wonder if we need to really track the amount of time she actually works. But it did lead to discussing more and it has been resolved that math will be in the afternoons--her brain works better then. She got some science done this morning, then ended up napping. We went out and when we came back, we did two chapters from To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm going to take a step back and have her do some easy algebra work--build that confidence and attention to detail up and then move back to the algebra work in her textbook. Half of it is review anyhow!

I was reading from the Thomas Edison book I have out and the 12yo said that he'd like to be able to get the chemicals needed to do chemistry--inspiration! He's REALLY enjoying the book. Can totally relate to Tom in so many ways--difficulties with school, doesn't always think through what will happen, interested in moving and in science... So, I'm going to have to see what kind of resources I can dig up for chemistry stuff we can do at home and order the necessary stuff. It'd be a great way to help him see reading and writing and all that as part of daily stuff since he'll have to read the steps and keep track of things.

Both will be gone for the next two days, so I'll be able to put some stuff together. Of course, ds has done almost nothing this whole week which means I should come up with some fun stuff for us to do tomorrow and Friday that will keep him working and progressing with his language arts and math skills.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Some epiphanies

1) I realized that I really don't like having to meet APS high school requirements! Actually, it wouldn't be so bad if the 15yo actually wanted to do this stuff, but she doesn't. She wants to get her diploma but would really rather not have to do all this stuff, some of it questionably educational. She's very disappointed with the science so far--it's just so much stuff crammed together, some of it not seeming to have any rhyme or reason for being there other than somebody deciding it should be. I miss what we had before, miss her being able to go her pace, follow her interests more.

2) The 15yo does NOT have to finish Math 10 this year. I believe she can do her high school math on her terms, to a certain extent. She has the option, I'm fairly sure, of just doing the work at her pace and then challenging the grade 12 course and exam. This means she will not get a mark for grade 10 and 11, although she will get the back-credits. It also means maybe skipping lightly over some stuff for now to more-or-less just get through the course, even if it's shaky, but with time to review stuff and go deeper next year if she's got more motivation. I just think if things continue on this way, taking a math exam in few months will not go so well. It's something to keep and mind, something I can bring up with her. Somewhere, somehow, she's going to have to find the drive to actually learn this stuff or there's no point to her doing the Pure Math sequence. There's also the option of her not doing the exam now, but doing it in the fall.

Just had to get that out!


It's been one of those days. I'm tired, dd's tired, ds is tired, the 12yo was tired, the 15yo was tired. I wasn't in the mood to fight with the 12yo, fight trying to get him to work, that is, so I just let him go off and do whatever it was he was doing. He did come to the table eventually and we got phonics and spelling work done. But his attention was nowhere near his work today. It was on drawing, and playing tic-tac-toe by himself and playing with geomags...

The 15yo was so unfocused on her math. I've barely given her any questions, but she just could not process today. I don't know how she's going to pass this course. She's behind and not even working at a pace she would need to do to be on track, much less catch up. She totally admitted today to being unmotivated. How do I motivate her? Is it my job? And I don't know if she's going to be here Thurs. and Fri. (I found out the two will only be gone two days) because that was going to be dependent upon doctor's recommendations (her physiotherapist recommended that she not go on the dive meet). If I talk with her tomorrow and she's gone Thurs-Sun., our talk may not carry over until Monday.

What will we talk about? I'll tell her that if she had started the three courses (English, Math and Science) at the beginning of this semester, she's already behind. She actually started English and Math at the end of September. I'll tell her that for math, she's looking at possibly not finishing by the end of June. Do I tell her that if I were her school counsellor and she'd come to me for guidance I'd tell her to drop Math 10 and go for Math 10 Prep and do Math 10 during the summer? There's no way she'd do Math 10 during the summer. "I can't. I've got diving and I'm away and..." But maybe suggesting it would help her realize where she's at? Or would it just discourage her further?

I somehow need to bring into our conversation her recurring comments about how she "can't" do math very well or things like that. I need to bring up that there are different types of people: there are those who learn math very quickly with little practice. There are those who learn math fairly quickly with moderate practice. There are those who take longer to learn math and need extra practice. All of them can learn the same math. It's just that those who want to really learn it need to put more into it. The amount of work I'm having her do right now, and I'll tell her this, is only just enough to get 50-55%. (That's barely passing here.) Recommended mark to be able to handle Math 20 (grade 11 math) is 65%.

I wonder if she's already getting overloaded with things. She's got work (which currently means doing report cards on her own time), diving, physio appointments, doctor's appointment, dive meet, school... The only evening during the week she's home is Wednesday.

And yet, after saying all this, I look at it as: this is grade 10. I've known people for whom grade 10 was a flop, yet they ended up doing super well by the time they were grade 12. Something clicked somewhere, something that said to them that it was important enough to really work on. That hasn't clicked for her yet. It's still about interest levels and "can or can'ts".


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Planning

Just to get some thoughts down before I go do other stuff, plans for today and the week:

-school planning
-bank, Michaels, groceries

For the week:
-need to finish the 15yo's LA plans--it looks like she is going to have to spend an hour+ a day reading to finish this book by spring break! She had brought it with her on her trip and only read about half a chapter. I had expected, as did she, that she'd get through more than that!
-need to finish 15yo's science stuff
-need to figure out her French stuff
-need to print off 12yo's French
-need to do chapter two from the Edison book
-need to plan for ds and dd (I think I'll look at Montessori Read and Write for some activities to do with ds in language arts this week; got to figure out what else)

Okay, time to do other stuff!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Panic is Over

Okay, I'm much calmer today. Actually had things sort of resolved in my head last night. So I spent my Friday night doing school prep. lol.

Here's the decision I came to: for the 15yo's math for this coming week, I've done up sheets with places for examples (some of it will be just photocopied out of the text) and then on the sheet are all the questions I had decided she needed to do. Lucky girl, the first section I had originally planned out for her to do does NOT have to be done, so she only has 3 sections to do this week instead of 4. I've got those three sections done up plus a short quiz. I'm basically telling her that that is the work she has to do for the week and she's got to figure out how and when she's going to get it done. I still have to go through her science to see what would be a reasonable amount for her to do in a week's time and lay that out. I also need to read in To Kill a Mockingbird and insist she get reading. She's taking so long she's not getting into it. The first part of the book is kind of a "Where's she going with this?" so it is slow but it doesn't have to be as slow as it is now! Haven't yet figured out what to do about her French. Probably some worksheets to work on phonics and spelling.

For her brother, I just had a look at the textbook and we'll cover operations with integers, plus his math facts practice PLUS the work from Ray's (got to pick something there). For language arts, I'm changing things a bit. I'm going to do the phonics review as usual and then we're going to preview a bunch of words from a book on Edison that I got from the library. It was written for 12-13yo's (a while ago, but still for 12-13yo's!) . The way we're going to preview them is to look at them in the eyes of phonics and syllabication, and then have them as spelling words. After that, we'll get to the reading. I'm going to either photocopy or type up the pages we'll be reading together so that we can easily take turns reading. (I got this idea of previewing words and using them for spelling before reading from Marva Collins.) For French, I think I'll just print of some labelling worksheets from Enchanted Learning. (Ooh, and print some off in German for dd.) Actually, ds could do some of those sheets, too. It would be a great activity for him.

Back to the language arts... Once we're done the reading, I'm going to have him write about Thomas Edison or write to a character in the book.

With him, I've got to be careful just how much I push because he will push back--by doing absolutely nothing. I should probably plan in some science and social studies work for him in case the other stuff doesn't take as long as I think it will. Oh, and he can start typing lessons, even if it's just two days.

Ok, back to math sheets prep for the 12yo!

Friday, March 02, 2007

ARGH, what a week

This has not been the greatest week. I ended up not going to park day after telling people I'd be there. I completely forgot to take dd to a field trip she was supposed to go to on Tuesday (I had a headache all day and for some reason did not have this trip written down anywhere!). I had a super runny nose and some coughing on Wednesday. I've just felt generally unwell. I had to bring the van into the garage because it was making clunking noises--I originally booked it for Thursday and had to change it because I remembered two days later that I needed to drive the oldest Thursday. To boot, our stupid dishwasher has been leaving more gunk on our dishes. (It washes really well, but it's like food particles stay stuck in the rinse water and get deposited on the dishes.) Oh, and a string broke on our large blind in our dining room. Since the blinds are old and not the colour we really want to have anymore, that means replacing that one and the other in the kitchen. A cat had a hairball in the basement. The younger cat decided to drink blue-dyed water--with her paw.

I had the two oldest back yesterday and today and planned to take it fairly easy, knowing full well that we'd spend lots of time talking about their trip when they came back on Thursday and I just figured we've got a full week next week to really work hard. We did do some work this morning, but the oldest spent her work time trying to work out a second semester schedule for herself. After all that, her brother says, "We're not going to be here Wed." What???? They're going to a dive meet and will be gone Wed.-Fri.

I'm feeling so stressed with everything apparently falling apart around me. lol. The oldest is already so behind in her science, behind in her math (and had planned on doing about 6 hours a week in each) has got a fair amount to do in English and now she's only going to be here two days???????????????? (And she knows it's not the greatest timing--she had a somewhat guilty look on her face when she confirmed they'd be gone. I had finished going over what she had left to do and the scheduling not more than an hour before.) I think what stresses me is that I'm worried she's not going to do what she needs to in order to get on top of all of this. (I know on some level this isn't my problem--it's hers to deal with, but I am still somewhat responsible for her education.) 3 days missed of math and science is 3-4.5 hours of each not done. 6-9 hours of work in all. When she's already behind. And she won't do this stuff on her trip (especially not the math)--they usually keep the kids so busy they don't have time to do homework stuff anyhow. She *might* read her novel, but that's about it. She reads soooooo slowly, too. ARGH.

But it's not just about her. Here I was, getting ready to start something new with the 12yo to really increase his language arts and math time and I've got two days to try it out, but the two days will be modified so that his sister really gets more math and science time in. *sigh* He's basically done nothing for a month now because he's been sick and away on trips. What is he going to accomplish in two days? If I'd known ahead of time that they would be gone, I would have been more insistent and structured about yesterday and today. (Although, on a good note, he's quite interested in beginning the Ray's math series!)

And then, after having some great work days with just dd and ds and a nice flow without me deciding everything, dd goes back to her old ways this morning. Everything was frustrating, she didn't know what to work on. She was convinced I was working on other stuff and wouldn't work with her. There's something unconscious in her with the others here that changes how she sees work or the help she'll receive.

Heh, I just had the thought that I can discuss with the oldest the fact that she's going to have to figure out a way to catch up on all the work that she won't be getting done, especially since her birthday's coming up and we usually take the day off for their birthdays. (You get where I'm going with this, right?) I'm mean, aren't I? lol. It'll be her 16th birthday. Oh, which reminds me, I need to get her a gift. I know what I'm getting her, just got to find a place that has it.

Now that that is all vented, I feel better, am not so stressed and know it'll all work out in the end. I also know that I'm going to place the primary burden on the 15yo to figure out how she's going to get done what she needs to.