Monday, December 31, 2007

Last day of 2007!

I haven't been getting as much school stuff done as I would have liked, but it's Christmas vacation. :) We've just been so busy with all kinds of stuff, too, plus dealing with ds being sick. Which he still is. Hopefully his voice will be totally back by tomorrow and his coughing will have stopped.

I have yet to have him practise writing his name in cursive. Has to be today because we'll be filling out cards today or tomorrow. Still have to finish wrapping some gifts (doing a 2nd Christmas tomorrow) and some other stuff. I haven't figured out new words for ds either.

Dd decided yesterday she'd had enough of a break and spent an hour working on writing some story she'd started. Then we did a couple of pages of math. She wants me to give her a French writing assignment today. Non-fiction. I'll have to come up with some ideas.

The two oldest are supposed to be back from Hawaii sometime tomorrow. I've already sent off a couple of things to the 16yo and have to send off her Chem 20 in a Nutshell that I've put together so she can start reviewing. I also have to finish up on at least one of her social themes. I'd really like her to go through it before she comes back to school on the 7th. One less theme means that much more done!

Oh, that reminds me... I haven't yet finished typing up some of the stuff I found really helpful from "Dancing With Your Books". I think I'll work on that now.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to the grind

Sort of.

I won't be expecting work from my kids--especially my poor ds--but I have to get back to work!

Right now, I need to brainstorm a bit my vision of the rest of the school year and the things to do to accomplish that, figure out materials to possibly make (like more movable alphabet words for ds) and all that. And I need to take care of my baby. The poor kid is almost never sick. After writing last night, he was in and out of consciousness until just before 8pm. I brought him up to bed. He just got up at 7am to go to the bathroom, then went back to bed. This is a kid with whom I struggle to keep in bed until 6:30!

I'm also reading a book called Dancing With Your Books. It's a Zen-approach book to studying. Not all of Zen appeals to me, but I could not help but see the connection between some of what happens in Montessori and what the author is guiding people to do. The focus, the concentration, the open mind, being present in the moment. It has almost felt like a guide for adults in terms of regaining that type of thinking and working. I've been collecting a lot of quotes and guidance from this to share with primarily the 16yo. Which reminds me that I have some other things to get done. Let me just let out here a list of things I need to work on:

-the 16yo's social studies (summaries for themes, essay assignments)
-the 16yo's chemistry (I need some means of assessing her for her at-home mark--perhaps some quizzes and a test for each unit)
-the 16yo's CALM--need a list of things she has left to do; plus finish up the self-assessment quiz and some other things for her to get rethinking and re-motivated (sure, that's a word)
-the 16yo's French--she needs a checklist to see what she needs to know for her French 30 exam
-brainstorming for Bob, dd and ds's work
-brainstorming for a structure to start off with in January (I know we need structure or it just won't get going!)
-work on words for ds


I got into ds's bed at 4 because he had called me but I didn't fall back asleep until I went downstairs after 5 and slept until 6. I feel like I could go back to bed!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas! And my poor baby's sick :(

I hope all of you celebrating Christmas had a merry one!

It's Boxing Day here in Canada. We did NOT spend it out shopping like many did. ;)

My poor baby's sick, though--started on Monday and today, lost his voice and everything. He fell aseep on the couch at 5:30, after having had 2 bites of Ichiban (other than that, he'd had a mini-doughnut at lunch, and a bit of chocolate to help with the taste of some chewable ibuprofen he'd had this morning). I thought he was down for the night. He got up at 6:45, had a drink of water, ate some ice cream (but didn't even finish it), then sat down next to me here and just fell asleep. My poor baby! I suppose one good thing is that he'll get a lot of sleep out of this!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I thought this was cute!

So did my dd. I sang out the new version of Rudolph to her. Of course, if you like astronomy, you might just try and find Mars tomorrow night!

It's almost Christmas!

My kids are so excited. We are starting Christmas tomorrow evening. Tradition from my mom's side of the family is to go out and look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve (of course, she grew up in part just outside of Detroit, where it's not usually as cold as it is here!), then while we're out, Santa comes, and we get back and... time to open gifts. :) Ds is getting more and more adrenalized over the idea. Although it might not work so well today--he only had about 6.5 hours of sleep because he was just so achey during the night, and he looks like he hasn't slept in days. We'll be having a nap later on.

I'll also be reading him a little Christmas story as he didn't even remember that Christmas was about Jesus's birthday. I'm such a bad Catholic homeschooling mom at times! lol. I'll find some colouring pages, too, I think. We don't have a proper nativity scene, so that doesn't help things either. Maybe I can find a crafty one online where he cuts out the parts of the scene and pastes them.

Other than that, I have to have him practise writing his name again before we have him sign cards! Oh, and dd got a quick French grammar lesson yesterday. She had written "J'aime les cadeau," on our easel chalkboard, so she got the little lesson that words ending in -eau need an x when plural.

Some might say--but it's Christmas holidays! Yes, but that doesn't mean that learning stops. :D I'm not doing any serious stuff, just dealing with the real life stuff that's coming up.

One thing we will be learning today is if Fleischman's dairy-free margarine will work okay in a shortbread recipe. I want to be able to eat the cookies, too. lol. And I can't find the mix I usually buy--I've been to all kinds of stores--so I'm trying from scratch. Yikes. Chocolate chip cookies I can do. Peanut butter cookies I can do. Last time I tried to make shortbread from scratch... Don't know if it was me or the recipe.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Thursday (or Friday?)!

I can't keep my days straight this week!!!

In any case, it's Thursday. Pretty sure about that now. We finished our basic Christmas shopping yesterday, we started wrapping gifts and the kids did their Christmas candy molds. I didn't do any schooling stuff with ds yesterday, but Tuesday night I did. He LOVES the Reading Reflex/Montessori-style word building with images. I have to make some new ones. He flew through them and was disappointed there weren't more. I'll have to come up with some new stuff. I've also had him read the same book with me twice this week. He's getting better and better at recognizing some of the words and we also look at some of it phonetically. He thought it was SOOOOOO cool to do the first two letters of his name in cursive--connected. That was just so big to him. And I add in a few math questions. I gave him a double-digit plus a single-digit for the first time, I think. No problem. I'll have to show him regrouping with beads and then give him some questions that require regrouping. So, although we're only doing about 20 minutes of schooling, it's going well.

Dd is feeling better and better each day, which is good. She hasn't done any math this week, but I don't really mind. Oh! But I found my materials for a quilted Multpilication Checkerboard that I had started with the oldest... 2 years ago?? Maybe not that long ago. In any case, it had disappeared and I had looked everywhere I could think of. Turned out it was in an end table that turned into a tv stand in the basement. I had forgotten that I had stored some sewing stuff in there. In any case (geez, I feel so ADD!) I'll be able to finish it and work with dd on it. I did show her the old cardboard, ripped version (Maria Montessori would not have been impressed!) on Monday and did one question (okay, so she did do some math), but it was almost embarrassing.

What else? I'm figuring out what the 16yo has left to do and putting together some sheets so she can set up a schedule for herself for January. She will be doing 2 exams the third week, but still has a bunch of work to finish up. And lots of chem equation practice to do. Part of what I've done up is a little "quiz" for her to see what her current habits are as a student compared to what she needs to be doing, or how she needs to see school work, to get the grades she wants. Things like, "How often do you study? Never. Just before a test/exam. Review here and there plus before an exam. Regularly." "How well do you usually know the material before going into an exam? Not very well. Kind of/I understand it/I think I know it fairly well. Fairly well. Really well--I could teach someone else all about it." The options sort of correspond to levels of learning, which are tied with, roughly, grades obtained. This actually fits in very well with her CALM course.

Another thing I have set up for her is to really figure out what she wants in terms of her learning level this year and how important it is to her compared to her diving, friends, job (which she wants to do again), spare time, etc. There's no point in setting a goal of no mark under 75% if it's not something that you really want and will work for. She has beaten herself up in the past over her marks (which were the result of her not really doing what a typical student does when they want to obtain certain marks), but somehow she hasn't connected it with her own activities--it's all tied with a low self-image as a learner. Hence, the quiz above, to discuss with her afterwards how the different habits and attitudes are often tied to the marks a student gets so she can look at her final preparation for her upcoming exams in a different light.

I still, despite how many times I have said it, have not successfully gotten into her head that much of learning we need to do--especially for tests--comes as the result of repeatedly going over the information. She bemoans her "horrible memory" when something she looked at for 5 minutes 2 weeks ago she can no longer remember how to do. Where did she get this idea that because she looked at it once, if she can't remember it, she must have a horrible memory? I guess it's really self-image. She has a far more positive self-image now than she did when she started with me, but there's still work that needs to be done. I really need to get through to her what it means to learn, the work required to learn for school. I even made some comment about weekly reviewing everything in each subject and she said, "You can do that?" But then she flipped it around and convinced herself that it would just mess her up to do that. She has GOT to change her self-image and her understanding of learning if she wants to be a doctor. She can definitely become a doctor IF these changes can be made. I've got a year and a half left with her full-time. I need to brainwash her. Ah, Marva Collins has come back into my head--it's exactly what she did. Brainwashed (okay, bad word) the kids into believing in themselves and knowing that it takes a lot of effort and work to obtain the really big goals. I wonder if I could structure her ELA 20-1 work around that theme...

Wow, I had no idea I was going to write all that when I first started today's post!! I ought to go get some cleaning done.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I've got to stop taking drugs!

LOL. Okay, not THOSE kind of drugs. I wanted to work in the basement, but it's so dusty, I usually only last about 15 minutes. So I took a Benadryl Sinus 30 minutes before going down. At one point, I just started feeling really weak and drowsy. I thought it was a lack of water & food and just all the bustle getting to me. I then realized, no, this is the same type of feeling I had from taking a Gravol after visiting the Galaxyland amusement park and the day after I took a Tyelnol Nighttime Cold. Blah!

I wasn't affected by the dust, though...


Silly kitties:


I never knew a Western country would actually have laws in place that could allow a court the right to name a child!


Yesterday, it was just my 2 and I. It felt like a weekend. Even dd said so! We went bowling in the morning--where one teen there bowled 201!!!! omg!--and ran a few errands in the afternoon, followed by relaxing in front of Meet the Robinsons, a DVD ds got from "Bob" and his sister for Christmas. Speaking of whom, are either waiting at the Vancouver airport or are on a plane to Hawaii as we speak!

I fit in some schooly stuff with ds yesterday: practised writing the first four letters of his name in cursive (his nickname--but he's been reversing letters when he writes on cards, so I decided to scrap the printing entirely and have him work just on writing cursive), read a book with him where he would reread a sentence after I said it (yes, I know this is more sight reading than phonics, but I like to work with both) and we did some little math here and there orally.

Dd photocopied a gazillion reading comprehension worksheets from a gr. 6 workbook I have. She's flying through them. Enjoying the easiness of it, I guess--feeling confident and capable! She needs that now and then, to have something really easy that just makes her feel good. I haven't yet pointed out to her that it's a gr. 6 book and she's only in gr. 5, which would make her feel even more confident, but I'd like her to stop focusing on "grade levels" and how she compares with others. She also finished reading Eragon the other day; her goal had been to finish it before Christmas, so she's very happy. She enjoyed it a lot and wants to read the second book, plus see the movie. She especially enjoys that it's a homeschooler who wrote it! I can see that being very inspirational for her--she's quite the writer herself. It wouldn't surprise me at all if she got herself published before she graduates high school.

Today, I'll have my niece. We'll do some Christmas-related shopping this morning so we can stay away from the crazy streets and stores this afternoon. It wasn't too bad yesterday, but I imagine that each day this week, it'll be worse and worse. The streets were already crazy at 2:30 yesterday. At some point, I'll fit in some handwriting, phonics, book reading and math with ds. We might even make some Christmas "chocolates" with a Wilton Christmas candy mold. That'd be fun to do this afternoon, I think. I'll have to see if I can remember to take some pictures and post them!

Hey, I can post dd and "Bob"'s Lego city. Part of it is created due to a kit, but they've made modifications and set up their own things.

Can you see the soccer field (almost wrote football field--the British influence in my family!), with the multi-coloured nets?

Better view of the soccer with the ref.

How about the 16yo's help message?

Written so that our neighbour could probably read it. It finally got erased after dd added in something about being held prisoner!!! I could just see having cops at the door to see what's going on...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another week done

This week was kind of a blur. I should really sit down and blog more often because trying to remember a whole week is difficult!

We had a Christmas party--I think there were 20 kids here! omg!

The 16yo got some work done, but in general, they all fizzled.

They did some Christmas crafts.

We went to the library.

I bought A Muppet Christmas Carol on dvd (love that movie!).

And I'm working like crazy on a Christmas gift I'm making and hope I'll have done by Christmas. (Yes, I should be working on it now, but I went grocery shopping and need a break. :D)

The 2 oldest are supposed to be gone next week--but if things worsen for their grandmother, they might not go after all. I'm going to assume they'll be gone. I plan on doing a little school routine in the morning with my 2, then the afternoons will be for cleaning the basement, finishing our Christmas shopping and other Christmas prep. We might also go to Millennium Place one day. And we have bowling with some other homeschoolers. If they 2 oldest don't go, they still won't be hear for Monday, but I'd expect them to work Tues-Thurs.

There's not much else to say at the moment. I think I'll go work on that Christmas gift!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I think it's going to be one of those days. I've got sinus issues, a cold and had a horrible sleep, the two oldest essentially spent the weekend at the hospital with their grandmother and are tired and one is particularly irritable... My goal is to get through the day with everybody still in one piece!!!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What have we done this week?


I'm not really sure. lol.

Dh and I went to a staff Christmas party last night (he's a teacher). It was soooooooooooo nice to have people interested and supportive of homeschooling!! I sat and talked with the wife of one teacher (she's actually a teacher, too) and she kept saying how great it was I could be home with the kids (her kids are in childcare while she teaches). A few other teachers were talking with us and one just kept nodding his head and said, "That is so great." It was wonderful.

As for the kids... Well... Christmas is approaching. Work is slowing down. The middle 3 (Bob, dd and ds) spent a LOT of time outside. We went to a first Friday Mass yesterday, followed by a potluck and the same 3 outside crazy carpeting on a hill outside the church--for 2 hours, I saw neither hide nor hair of them. They were beat. The 16yo is plugging away still, feeling not quite so overwhelmed. (Although she said she feels she just stressing about everything lately! Just a phase, I guess.) The 13yo--woops, Bob--is feeling more and more anxious about going to Hawaii: he's afraid of flying (and tornados and this and that...) We talked to him supportively about it, but he didn't seem to want to deal with it. I even asked right out if he wanted to learn some things to help him deal with it and he said no. I don't think he wants to really admit that it's a problem. Being anxious is one thing; saying that it's a problem and accepting that you can do something about it is quite another! I might still find some things to read and share about dealing with fears in general this week and not make any direction mention of his own fears.

Other than that... I really don't know. Just been a fuzzy week, I guess. Next week is busy. Last week for the 2 oldest (unless their grandmother passes on this week--it would cancel their trip to Hawaii), which means a major pre-Christmas cleanup around here, as well as trying to get some sort of work done and prep for a Christmas party on Friday. I said I'd prepare a turkey, so I guess I'd better buy one! I suppose it's a perfect week for me to prepare Christmas and Advent stuff to put out for them to choose from: colouring pages, word searches, mazes, etc. Keep the middle three busy with that stuff while I try to help the oldest cruise through as much as she can. Oh, and put some stuff together so she can review here and there over the holidays.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bob is blind

Okay, not really, but the eye doctor called him that jokingly. His eyes don't work together properly and he also needs multifocal lenses. No wonder this kid complains so much about reading!!! I wonder how long it's been bad. I know it's gotten worse this past year as it's become evident that some things haven't just been a copping out because he doesn't feel capable. He's supposed to get his glasses sometime this week.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Tylenol Cold Nighttime has too much of a drowsy effect on me! Although it stopped my coughing and let me sleep last night, I just can't shake this drowsy feeling. One can only wonder what an actual sleeping pill would do to me.

In any case, it's messing around with my brain a bit. I had all these ideas yesterday--not written down--and trying to put things together in some sort of plan for school tomorrow isn't working so well. Maybe if I babble here it'll help.

For the oldest... I tried figuring out how to bring in the whole "What type of student do I want to be?" thing, but everything I've written so far feels wrong. If it in ANY way comes across as "You should have been doing this" or a criticism, it'll all fall apart. Part of it will depend on her mood tomorrow, too. She's been tired and feeling overwhelmed. Whatever I say or do has to actually be helpful instead of adding to her sense of being overwhelmed. One thing I know I need to really clarify with her, or perhaps have her officially agree to, is to NOT finish her math for the end of January. I don't see how she'd pass the exam. She is behind and has not come close to mastering any of the stuff. Give her an extra two months and I think she'll be ready. That means we can stop trying to cram two lessons into one and give her the extra practice she needs.

The plan for her, therefore, this week is to:
  • somehow bring up what kind of student she needs to be so that she can realize her dreams
  • have her figure out what's important to her in the long run
  • do as much as she can in chem (another area she needs extra practice in; I need to also give her some extra practice sheets)
  • I'm hoping she will have done the social studies reading she took home with her; if not, she'll have to finish that this week and will have to consider using Thurs. aft/evening and Fri. afternoon to do it all (dd and ds have a playdate Thurs. afternoon and Fri. morning we're going to a Mass)
  • for math, extra practice sheets and just getting her to do as many questions as she can in her lessons
  • I probably need to write up specifically what needs to be done. I realize now that for her next semester, she has to be MUCH more involved in the planning. Part of her feeling overwhelmed the other day is that she felt she doesn't really know how much she has left and when everything is supposed to be done by. Although, that may have been her brain stuck in some sort of rut--she's had plenty of calendars given to her breaking down her work and giving her rough deadlines. I think she was just really focused on being behind. For next semester, before she begins, SHE will work out a rough schedule for everything. Then we need to make it a habit to check in with this schedule daily so that she stays on track. She's very quick to stop doing stuff because she just doesn't feel like it anymore, and says things like, "I know I should..." I also somehow need to get her to connect all of this with what she *wants* in the long run. Hard to stay on track with school and not end up overwhelmed when you have no real desire a lot of the time to do the work, much less do extra.

Okay, now for "Bob"

  • I have this interesting program out from the library. One of the books is called "Get Ready to Read" and the other is "Get Ready to Write". I want to use those daily with him this week. I also have to get our phonics back in. AND copywork. His little writing snippet the other day was great, but his handwriting is still very immature.
  • For math, more work on order of operations and just keep going with this integer/pre-algebra work.
  • All I can think of at the moment.

Nothing specific for dd, except that she hasn't done cursive in quite a while.

For ds, I'm being un-Montessorian and insisting that he does some sort of reading, writing and math activities with me.

I think I'll try to write up the 16yo's "What's Left" list now. Wish me luck! ;)