Saturday, November 15, 2008

It is time

It is time for me to get moving on the Montessori with my 3.5yo niece. The honeymoon period is over and she hit on Friday the "I want something new and fun to do." Seriously, I'm not joking. She asked me if I'd take her into the basement so she could find things that were "more interesting"--her words! Toys often only take a child so far. Here are some things I can show her/have ready for her this week:

*pouring beans
*pouring water
*sorting a mixture (maybe popcorn and cheerios to start with)
*buttoning--I have a home-made frame somewhere, but not sure if the frame itself is intact; I also don't know where the fabric is, so I need to locate that
*I could show her zipping by putting her coat on a chair...
*geometrics solids presentation
*sensitizing the fingers
*pull out a different cylinder block
*give her a folder with scrap paper she can cut up
*I need to think of other crafty stuff: she loves crafty stuff

My big issue is where to have the materials. With a 1yo (this coming Wed.!) in the house, it makes things a little more complicated! I live in an open 4-level split where the lower level is practically connected to the main level and I used to be able to make my way back and forth from lower to main and there wouldn't be big problems. It seems like whenever I leave the main level now, things fall apart. I guess instead of living in "fear", I ought to just do what I think will work for my niece--have the materials available for her in the lower level, which the baby gate prevents her sister from getting to--while encouraging my son to do things downstairs near her, and let the upstairs have problems so that we can tackle the underlying problems. That sounds good, actually!

I must get myself off to the store if I'm going to have enough trays and replace the dressing frame (aka wood embroidery hoop ;) ), not to mention have crafty stuff available for all of us.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Remember, remember...

the 5th of November....

And I didn't. lol. I knew Guy Fawkes Day was coming up, but on the 5th, I didn't know it was the 5th, and so I forgot and we did nothing for Guy Fawkes Day as part of our school day.

How could this happen?


I've been rather successfully fighting stuff off for a couple of weeks, but it's still lightly there, just enough to be annoying. I've seen it in my kids, too, as well as with Bob.

The 17yo was sick, sick, sick. Started over a week ago, was not at all well on Monday, was even worse on Tuesday and then moreso on Wed. Caught her dad's stomach flu on top of her nasty cold.

School is still sort of going. I did an hour one-on-one in the evening this Thursday with ds and it went sooo well. Then we just hung out. He asked if we could do that every night. lol. I think we definitely have to do it more often. Bob is plodding along ever so slowly but it's still going reasonably well. The 17yo was hoping to be completely caught up this past Friday, but being as sick as she was, that didn't happen. Dd is still needing me to give her work. She's hit the looming adolescent insecurity, I think. That, or I'm just not inspiring enough! I think insecurity is playing a big part. She used to write stories constantly; now she's not as interested because she has hit a point that she wants to actually finish them (she has always just written and written and written and then stopped because a new story idea has come up) but she just doesn't know how. I probably need to sit with her one-on-one here and there to work things out together.

That reminds me: I was reading "From Childhood to Adolescence" which inspired me to get some books out dealing with water life--coral reefs, interesting animals, etc. I put them out on the table and 3 out of the 4 school kids could not but help pick a book that interested them and flip through. :)

Things are going well having 6 kids in the house again. It's been good to have a baby again--she needs to take naps which forces the house to be calmer, quieter, a couple of times a day.

Bob, the little turkey (actually, he's not so little--he'll be taller than me any day now), is reading better in English, but still struggles quite a bit and with words that make you wonder, "Why? He can read that word, but not this easier one?" But that's not what makes him a turkey. I was looking at a French Scholastic flyer the other day with dd and the 17yo (in pdf) and he was standing behind them. All of a sudden, he reads out, "Nouveau! Nouveau! Nouveau!" !?!?!?!?!?!?!? He has not really had any French reading instruction and what little he's had has not been in the past year, and it's not like French phonetics in the word 'nouveau' matches with English at all. THAT is what makes him a turkey. ;)

The 17yo is covering WWII at the moment. We watched Schindler's List as part of it. What an amazing story. I know things didn't quite play out the way they showed in the movie, but still. I'm saddened by the fact that after the war, he never did manage to get his life together. :( Seems like such a shame.

Dd is doing a second session of gymnastics this fall. She took gymnastics when she was 6, made it through 3 or 4 levels (couldn't remember and couldn't find her sheets), had a long hiatus, so went back into level 3/4 for Sept./Oct. The coach for that one decided she was in level 3 and only assessed her for level 3, so she went back to 3/4. After 2 weeks there with a different coach, the coach spoke to me yesterday and told me to get her into a level 5 class because the 3/4 is too easy for her. :D Dd was VERY happy. So now she goes Wed. evenings from 6-8 and I get my Saturday mornings back! This is good because ds has a soccer game pretty much every Saturday afternoon, overlapping with dh's soccer, so I'm the one to bring him.

All right, enough of this Sunday morning babble. Besides, ds is complaining he needs food. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mix of stuff

Our visit to the downtown library yesterday was interesting, as was to be expected. We saw some "interesting" things take place (like a few kids, maybe gr.8 -gr. 10, removing a garbage bag outside, placing their own bag in the bottom, then sitting around for a bit...) and some "interesting" people. Some of the interesting people made us rather nervous as they kept watching us in the library, including a couple sketchy characters we had earlier seen outside. But then I noticed the one librarian and custodian kept looking at us as they went by, too. We're not a freak show! At least, I don't think we are... ;)

Today, I had all 6 kids all day for the first time. It went sooooo well. My almost 1yo niece is such a happy-go-lucky baby and there were no issues. It's the first time she's ever been away from her mom that long and we had no problems whatsoever. Very nice. :) (Actually, there were some issues between a tired ds and a tired 3yo niece, but that's other stuff.) I love having 6 kids again!

I managed to start reading "From Childhood to Adolescence" tonight! I finished one of my library books earlier today, sent another one back I decided I wouldn't finish and just as I was heading out to ds's soccer practice, I decided to grab a book to read and saw FCTA. It's very nice to be reading Montessori again. I always feel, "This is the way I want to go with my kids." But taking theory and applying it can be two entirely different things. :\

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A stop-in

Has it really been 12 days since I last posted? Man.

Life has been crazy. My calendar, as the 17yo has described it, looks like a Christmas tree due to the various things written all over in different coloured pens: field trips, days here and there with my nieces, soccer meeting, soccer practice, soccer game, gymnastics every Saturday, dh has school meetings, I had a hs group meeting, birthday party, Thanksgiving out at the lake and then at my mom's, an upcoming social evening with a hs group, Halloween, ds's Reconciliation preparation meeting and classes... That's just October. And that doesn't count all the stuff that's had to be done on the side, like emails and dealing with this and that. It's been crazy. I'm sooooo looking forward to November! Yes, there will still be soccer Tues. and Sat. for ds, and gymnastics on Sat. for dd, dd will be continuing her Wed. sewing lessons (but her grand-maman tends to take her and bring her back, which is very nice and appreciated), and ds will have some more Reconcilation classes and I'll have a hs group meeting. Oh, and I want to attend this thing called XLT that is going to happen on the 13th. But it feels so much calmer. lol. We'll have a birthday party at the end of the month and I'll be having my nieces full-time, but it's still calmer in terms of the weekday and weekend things going on.

School ended up with a bit of a hiatus a couple of weeks ago, but the 17yo worked hard last week and is just about caught up, her brother had his first math test since grade 3 (he's in grade 9) and it took him 6 hours to complete because he'd just get too frustrated and would take very, very long breaks ;) (he didn't have a time limit and the teacher said they could take breaks if needed). Dd is still inspirationless so I've been creating different quick assignments for her to do in geography and French. She had her initial resistance, but it seems to be going well. I have not managed to read more Montessori, however it's still in my mind. I do have one book out right now, "From Childhood to Adolescence", and will work on reading that these next couple of weeks. Get *myself* inspired a bit. :) Ds is still doing his thing! lol. He very much enjoys us reading together at night and has started trying to read a little bit on his own. He's been working a bit more on copying and writing and then in his new math workbook. I want to work on the seasons with him because he seems to think there is spring, summer and winter. Or that as soon as there's frost in the morning, it means it's winter.

Tomorrow we are going to spend the morning working at the library. I'm going to have the kids write out a plan of what they're going to do there and to plan what we'll do about distractions and all that. I don't have my nieces and this is about our last chance before we have a 1yo in tow all the time!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I've been chastised

Wow, I didn't realize it had almost been a month since I last wrote! I've been chastised for it ;) and have decided to give a mini-update and hopefully will make more frequent entries.

School-wise: I still haven't done the Great Lessons. Things are slowly moving forward, finding the routine, but the rest of life has been nuts and I haven't had the desire to spend the mental energy on bringing in the Great Lessons. I would still like to. But it does require preparation on my part to make them go smoothly and that requires time.



Well, that's what I had started writing on Oct. 7, around 4:30 or so. Then I lost my internet connection and pretty much didn't have one for over 24 hours!!! I will continue with the above now. :)



*September was insanely busy. Every weekend was packed with stuff, which meant I hardly had any time to do the usual things on the weekend, like clean, do laundry and groceries.

*I've become VP of one of my homeschool support groups and there's been a bunch of stuff to have to deal with there due to the switch in executive and some other things, although that does look like it's finally starting to all settle down.

I'm not sure what else I was going to say about life-wise. Hm...

Back to school, though:

We've pretty much done NO work this week at all.

*Monday morning, the two oldest went to a chem lab and I went home with my 2 just feeling awful. We went out for lunch, came back, we three girls watched Stardust while the boys played outside, I fell asleep for a bit during the movie, just relaxed and was feeling a lot better by supper time. But here it is, Thursday, and it's still lingering. I'd like it to just be done with!

*Tuesday morning, I had my almost 1yo niece come with her 3yo sister for about 1.5 hours. We're working on transitioning her to full-time and that was her first time here (the 1yo, not the 3yo). It went very well, but of course, all eyes were on baby. :D (She's sooooooo cute and it went very, very well.) The oldest was showing serious signs of being sick and didn't manage to get much done. In the afternoon, we had a meeting with the teachers from the school (for "Bob") and that was that.

*Wednesday morning, the 17yo was still visibly not well and ended up falling asleep while reading her social studies. Bob wasn't looking too well either and fell asleep on the sofa. I ended up taking the dog for a walk in insane wind. What did we do yesterday afternoon? Gosh, can't even remember. Oh, we put on a movie right after supper (Spiderwick Chronicles), dd went to her sewing lesson, and after the movie, the 17yo worked on some posters we'll be using tomorrow at a ringette tournament.

That brings us to today. If the 17yo is feeling better, I think I'll have her go full force in her work. If she's not, I may just say, "Scrap the week!" We're busy tomorrow and won't be doing any school work at all then. And we're supposed to have a dessert for tomorrow, so maybe we'll make our dessert this afternoon. It means she'll be over a week behind, through no real fault of her own. I'll see what I can do to combine things to get her caught up. Bob was supposed to be doing a math test today, but he hasn't been feeling great and without our internet access yesterday, he couldn't do the online test prep that the teacher recommends, and he's supposed to do that before he does the test. Hm... I think he'd be fine doing the test today if he does a bit of a review first. We'll see how he is once he gets here.

Other school stuff: I purchased Jump Math workbooks for my kids through CHER. I feel like I'm constantly going through math programs, lol. I think this'll be the last one, though. The A Beka workbooks are nice, but they mix everything together for constant review and it proved to be a bit annoying. And unhelpful for my dd. I still LOVE the old Ray's Arithmetic and do incorporate their style here and there orally; the physical style and layout of the books doesn't appeal to either of my kids, but the work inside is fien. I'd like to use Ray's more for review and improving arithmetic skills because it's very good. Why am I using a program if I'm a Montessorian? Because I had to say, yep, okay, I can't do it all right now and it's better that they have something that will work for them than nothing at all. So far, the Jump Math looks really, really good. It's designed to get kids to be thinkers in their math which I love.

That's all for now!

[Well, isn't that interesting? I started this post on Tuesday and even though I've posted it Thursday morning, the blog still sees it as a Tuesday post!]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Lessons

Correne asked me in one of the comments what the Great Lessons were. I thought I'd devote a single entry to them!

The Great Lessons are the start, if you will, of the social studies and science study at the elementary level. They are impressionistic stories which are aimed at giving an interesting, big picture presentation to the kids.

The first Great Lessons is God Who Has No Hands. It's basically the story of the creation of the universe and solar system (not a Biblical rendition--it's really designed to just be a story which gives an impression of how things happened). It is accompanied by some basic science demonstrations (like hole-punch circles on the surface of water on a bowl) and is the beginning of looking at science. From what I understand, some Key Lessons tied with this are in the areas of astronomy, physics and chemistry.

The second lesson is The Coming of Life. It gets into the development of life on Earth, from first life up until the appearance of man, exposes the children to eras and periods, etc. It is accompanied by a timeline chart and usually a black ribbon, proportional to the time since the beginning of Earth, with a tiny red line at one end to show when humans showed up. From this lesson, the children are encouraged to explore biology, zoology and other scientific areas.

The third lesson is The Coming of Humans. Discusses how we are different from other animals, gets into things like houses, clothing, how people started writing down history, etc. This is a starting point for a study in history, cultures, anthropology, archaeology... One Key Lesson tied to this is The Fundamental Needs of Humans: shelter, food, transportation, etc.

The fourth lesson is The Story of Writing--how human writing developed from pictures to alphabets.

The final lesson is The Story of Numerals--the development of writing down quantities from pictures to the numerals we use today.

All of this is available here except I can't seem to find the English version of The Fundamental Needs of Humans, but the French version is there. There are extra lessons in the History for 6-9 album. Two of the timelines are also available there.


Monday, September 01, 2008

School starts tomorrow!

And I don't feel ready! lol. I should check posts from other years and see if I felt the same way then, too. ;) Actually, maybe I shouldn't, because if I was really ready then I'll feel even more "behind" in my prep.

I do have some stuff ready--the two oldest have lots of stuff set up in Homeschool Tracker Plus, the 17yo has her starting schedule picked out, I have her math and social syllabi done, I've done one of the chapters in her chemistry, Bob's is all laid out since he's doing a "virtual" program, although I should still plan in some extra things like phonics, spelling and math facts. I have a vague idea of what I'm going to do with my dd and ds, as well as with my 3yo niece. But vague doesn't really tell me what I'm doing tomorrow morning!!!!

What do I need to do for tomorrow? Let me just brainstorm publicly here ;).

For the 17yo:
  • Because we're going to be gone in the afternoon, she's only going to do three subjects tomorrow morning: math, French and social. For social, I just have to print off the worksheets and her syllabus. For math, get my teaching notes typed up or written in a notebook specifically for it. For French, I don't have a syllabus together because some of it has to be pieced together as we go along. I do know what I would like to have her do. Okay, well, that's not too bad. It's that on Wed., she'll be starting chem and THAT syllabus (with recommended timeframes) is not done, nor are the sheets that need to go with the work she'll be doing.

For Bob:

  • Well, Bob doesn't have any of his texts yet. Some of the stuff he can still get started on, though. He'll probably spend most of the morning checking out the school's website and learning about what he's got to do to get the year going--things like writing letters to the teachers. He does need to have a phys. ed. log printed off.
  • My main thing with Bob tomorrow will be to harness his energy and emotions. I had him here briefly on Fri. and the mix of whatever he's feeling came out in MAJOR ADD-type behaviours. He's going to be excited and anxious tomorrow and simply wanting to socialize!

For dd:

  • I know that I want to start on place value presentations with her, but I haven't picked a specific lesson to show.
  • I need to figure out what I would like to show her this year in terms of French and English grammar, spelling, phonics, word study; science, social studies, art and music. I had wanted to do the Great Lessons, but I haven't even read through them at all and really don't think I'll be ready for tomorrow (actually, tomorrow's probably a bad day to do the first one anyhow). But besides the Great Lessons (of which there are only 5), I'm not sure what else. I don't know all the Key Lessons that go with the Great Lessons and I'm certainly not going to have my house full of the materials that are typically in a Montessori classroom that are tied to all those lessons in one way or another. I need to figure out what to do.

For ds:

  • I know I want to work on phonics with him daily, but haven't decided what, specifically, to start with.
  • I know I want to start the year off in math with Golden Bead work: refresher presentation for the material itself, then progress to the layout, getting quantities based on cards chosen, etc.
  • Science, social, art and music--I face the same problems with him as with dd. I'd like to combine the two. Hm, I just had a thought--what about combining *3* of them? I could use Bob's science studies as a starting point. I can't remember what he's doing, though. I'd really like to start zoology, at least with ds, though. I think I need to purchase a manual.

For my niece:

  • Start with practical life. But what? And where will these items be? Hm...

Other than that, part of my prep today is getting the "school shelves" in the family room better organized, cleaning the laundry room (it's now the room for the kids' wire cubbies and where the little shelf unit with some of the art materials is; it's right beside the den and is actually supposed to be an ensuite or similar, in case it sounds weird that I'm storing school stuff in my laundry room!) and ideally, make it to the basement and clean up some of that, esp. since we'll need to use the one bookcase in the basement for school stuff. With dd claiming the bedroom upstairs, things, like the bookcase and art unit, have had to find new homes wherever we could place them!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Hormozgan is one of the words my ds read to me yesterday. I don't think you'll find that on most beginning readers' lists. ;) That and Sistan and Fars from the Iran map. He saw the word "empire" and got very close: em-pur.

I shouldn't be surprised. I knew this would happen. It's just how he is and why a traditional school would be such a horrible fit for him. He did this with talking: used only 2 words at 15 months. 2! He had already said about 20, but only ever kept 2 in his active vocabulary. At that point, I started babysitting my 18mo nephew, who talked a lot, and a light bulb when off in ds's head. He started adding 3-5 new words to his vocabulary each day for the next month! He went from below normal (if you consider only the 2 words) to way above normal in less than a month! It was insane! Same thing with walking. Wasn't walking at 15 months (it was actually 15.5 months in both cases). He saw his cousin walk, "Oh, okay, I'll do that." Within a week, he was pretty much running.

What can I say but he gives his all to the things he wants to do?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

All things in good time

Although I haven't "prepped" my son the way I would have liked to the past few years and have really unschooled him for the most part, despite a desire to really introduce him to things, what little I have done is starting to pay off in terms of reading.

For whatever reason today, he pulled out a map of Iran from somewhere (probably from a National Geographic magazine) and started trying to read all the names. It was dd who came down and said, "You ought to come see your son! He's reading!" Well, by golly, he was. It was slow, but he totally understands the whole sounding out in order... I'm in awe. :) And tickled pink. :D

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It just goes to show

how something in a child's environment that can take up so little of their time can have quite the impact on them.

My dd was talking to ds about Aragorn's armour or something from Lord of the Rings. He wanted to see it. She was allowed to show him just a little bit of a scene with him in it. Well, a minute of watching the movie is all it took for the two of them to start playing Lord of the Rings! Dd found a ring that she put on a chain around her neck. They found one of those little red Bibles and it somehow became a part of their game. Ds found another ring, and that's the ring he wears. It's funny. At the same time, it certainly gets me thinking about how impressionable kids are--and we must be choosy in what things they will be exposed to!

Friday, August 08, 2008

What a way to hook dd!

We were watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie, The Lord is my Shepherd, and it was about the baby boy that Caroline had who died very young. I decided to check online to see what the actual story was behind it and was led to Wikipedia, which had a picture of Caroline and Charles. Dd wanted to see pictures of the others, and while on Laura's page, my eye picked up part of her genealogy involving the Delano line. Well, that so happens to be one of my family lines, as well as another of Laura's lines, from Richard Warren of the Mayflower. I said to dd, "Well, that's pretty cool. We're very distant relatives of Laura!" Omg, you'd have thought I'd said we were first cousins to the Royal family! lol.

Montessori in the Classroom

Are you a Montessorian? Have you ever read the book "Montessori in the Classroom" by Paula Polk Lillard? If you haven't, I highly recommend it. Especially if you work with little ones. I took it out from the library this week to re-read for the umpteenth time and it's always so fabulous. Giving me so many ideas and having me think, as well as guiding me a bit. Wonderful ideas on how to easily incorporate all kinds of things into the kids lives. That's what Montessori is really about--bringing the world to the kids and letting them explore and be fascinated by it.

The initial interest in some minimal school work has already waned. lol. We've been busy with stuff so I'm just taking it easy, maybe asking a few math questions, things like that. I suppose we already do so much--we went out with my mom and step-dad to a recreation area where we caught a large frog and there were a variety of plants that caught our eyes but we didn't know what they were. I took some pictures and when we got to my mom's, dd and I looked through a book on plants and were able to identify all of them. We now know what a snowberry is. :) And here we were calling it the "yogurt-covered berry" ;). They play outside and dd reads a lot and has gone through probably 2 years' worth of National Geographics in the past few days and I read to ds each night from "Little House in the Big Woods", which always brings questions, little explanations and even him predicting which word will be first when we turn the page. It's all good stuff! Reading Montessori has me being reminded that showing them things that may inspire them is far more important than having them practise this or that.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I had decided last week that we would gently resume studies this week. Just one thing a day that only takes 5 minutes would be fine with me. But I wasn't feeling well for most of yesterday and then this morning, had no plan or anything prepared so I was contemplating what to do, how to just slip something in to get them going or what. After lunch at some point, I pulled out ds's school agenda that he got from the school we're registered with. I start trying to remember what we'd done the past few days so we could write it in. We looked at the little thought of the week it has--this one was to list 2 things he could do that would make someone else happy. I ended up writing a word in the spelling list area (we just use it for reading/reference), and that led to more words being added until we filled up the whole thing. That's all it took to get him going--he wanted his A Beka math book. I couldn't find it originally, so he ended up looking through some things I did find. And he did about a page's worth once I did find it.

Dd did a few questions from her math book, but it's clear her mind is totally out of arithmetic mode--and these weren't basic arithmetic. I think I might put away her book and just do some oral and game review of the tables for the next week with her. No point in getting frustrated over something that was created with the assumption that the tables are fresh in your mind!


On other matters, I'm slowly getting things together for fall. I've got a better vision, a better feel for how I want it--and how I can get it to be. I know I've said over the past couple of years that I've slipped from Montessori and I wanted to get back to it but it wasn't working or whatever. Some soul searching and deep thinking led me to certain realizations, but I also think I must just be in a different mental state for whatever reason. It's long and drawn out and I won't get into it much here. But I've got a sense of excitement and peace about having, not just decided that Montessori is the way I "should" go because it worked in the past, but committing to it and knowing it's the way I really want to go. I've been reading websites and started reading books and more. Refuelling my mind to be prepared for fall.

I kind of feel like I'm going too slowly though, too much in summer mode. If I don't watch it, school will be starting and I won't really have things ready! There's some reorganizing in the house that needs to be done, some materials to find and put out, plans to write out, lesson checklists to find or create and more.

I know the 17yo isn't looking forward to getting back into the work, but I am. lol. I honestly feel like her math this year is easier to learn than last year's, her chem probably, too, and she's doing social 33 instead of social 30--for which I am very grateful. The course, imho, is easier than social 10. Of course, I'm basing this on the website assignments and don't actually have the texts yet to look at! In addition to all of that first semester, she'll be working on French so that she can do a placement test to get into ADLC's online French 30 course 2nd semester.

For her brother's program... I still don't know for sure if he's going to be allowed to do it. I thought it was a done deal, but I guess he needs approval from the teacher of the program and he has to talk to me first, which he hasn't because he's on holidays. If Bob doesn't officially do the program, I'm going to still have him do all the same work.

I'm sure some of you are wondering how this all fits into Montessori! lol. Well, I'm going to tie in as much as I can and as a general approach--focus on choices, work with the student, present lessons as needed, find hands-on ways to work with the topics, etc. And I'm going to do as much as I can with my 2 and my niece in terms of more typical Montessori.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I knew it'd influence her!

I have a set of Little House on the Prairie books that I've had since I was younger than my dd is now. I had tried a couple of years back to start reading the series to her, but she was not at all interested. Tried to encourage her to read them; nope.

Then I saw the DVDs of the series at the library. I LOVED the series as a kid and was 99% sure she'd like it, too, given how much she enjoys places like Ft. Edmonton. Managed to find the pilot movie and we watched it this morning. That's all it took. She's going to finish up the book she's reading now, Rufus the Sea-Faring Rat, and start reading the series. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Does more room make for crazier kids??

Yesterday, dd's furniture got moved from the room she shared with her brother to her own room. A lot of stuff got cleaned up--or stored temporarily in the closet. ;) There's no longer anything on the floor of either room that shouldn't be there. They look absolutely wonderful. And my son is going crazy! So much energy. Wow. I guess it's just the excitement of having a wonderful room to be in now--especially since there is nothing under his bed now and he can fit under it. ;)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Already almost the middle of July!

(Excuse the following--it's a random jumble of thoughts!)

It's July 11. In a few more days, we'll be halfway through July. Where does the time go??? I'm sooo glad I've got August off this year!

We had a great trip out to the lake. The weather was great one day then so-so the others, but we still had a great time. Ds spent lots and lots of time outside playing soccer and other games, as did dd, but not quite as much. Ds learned to play SkipBo and we played a few games together. I'll have to see if we have a deck so that we can play here.

Other than that, we've been working on dd's room. The paint was finished yesterday--she chose yellow--and if the smell is calmed down today, we will move in her basic furniture and she can sleep in it tonight. :) She's VERY excited. Ds wants her out and his room cleaned up so that we can start stamping some fish and shells onto his walls. lol. He's sooooo eager to decorate the walls since we refuse to repaint them (we did it just 2 years ago) but I told him that his sister's stuff has to be out first AND things have to be clean--we can't be messing around with paint when there's stuff all over. That will be our big project today.

Let's see, what else? Ds is making progress with his reading and writing. I'm just pointing out little things or asking him little things here and there like, "So, where's the a sound in that word? How do you know that word is such-and-such? How do you think that word would be spelled?" He's getting better and better at analzying things and coming up with the correct letters and sounds. And he enjoys it, which is great. I've got plans to prepare different games so that we can play more with letters, sounds and words. Bingo is the first I'd like to play. We have a set of letter bingo cards that came from a Sing, Spell, Read and Write kit a former student left us, but it doesn't have all the basic French sounds, like è or é. I'd like to make something that is better suited to French.

Oh, and ds got his cast off yesterday. We were going to keep it, but it stank so badly and the nurse just tossed it into the garbage without even asking us if we wanted to keep it. It's kind of sad--he had all kinds of signatures and stuff on it. But he's not sad about it at all, so I guess I'm just being a sentimental mom. lol.

Dd is almost done reading The Fellowship of the Ring. It's taken her quite a while--in part because she's read other books since first starting the novel--but she quite enjoys it. I don't know if she plans on reading the second book or not just yet. Haven't dared to ask.

Hm... It's 7:35 as I type this and my kids are still asleep. I guess that's good--they didn't get to sleep until close to 10 last night. I don't know if ds will manage to get his 10 hours in and sleep until 8, but it would be good if he did!!

I have a little project I'm going to get started on: comparing predicted temperatures/weather to actual temperatures and weather. I check the forecast often and it's CONSTANTLY changing. I'd like to see just how accurate their predictions are and how far in advance. Yetserday, they had no rain predicted for the coming week. Now they're predicting rain for Monday and Tuesday. Will it change again? Undoubtedly. I'm not sure how long I'll check the predictions, but if they're as unreliable as I believe they are, I'm not even going to bother looking at the week-to-come predictions again. What's the point? And why do the weather people bother? I can understand THEM working on predictions and trying to fine tune things and learn how to predict better, but why share it with the world? lol

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Enjoying summer

The last 2 months of school, it was work, work, work for me and I'm finding it hard to stop filling my time with all kinds of work stuff!!! However, I am slowly learning to enjoy summer and time off and instead of my original thought to have a sit-down school time each day, just bringing things into our daily life.

One thing that will really help is that we will be at my in-laws' lake property until Tues. :) Leaving in a couple of hours--I hope. Dh still isn't up, I need to shower and pack yet, the kids need to shower... It's do-able. In any case, I'm going to bring a novel--completely unrelated to school ;)--to read and my cross-stitch and I'm not sure what else. I want to take a little vacation. I will bring a little notebook to write in because I always need paper and pen to write thoughts, brainstorm or to write out little ideas for stories/book chapters. Haven't done the latter in quite a while. I'd like to get a better routine going and so far, this summer vacation, I've just been keeping myself constantly busy, little relaxation time. That's not how I want summer to be!

Oh! I hear dh is up! Time to get ready!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Music, music

I went out quickly this morning to get a few groceries we need for this weekend. My kids weren't even dressed yet, so they stayed home and I went just by myself. I got back and dd is sitting on the couch playing the recorder--something she hasn't done in ages. Ds, still in his pj's, is sitting in the stairs playing his little Power Tour guitar, something he hasn't seriously done in some time. He goes up to get dressed, dd shares with me a little song she's composed on the recorder then proceeds to play more songs from a beginning recorder book we have. Ds decides he wants to play my flute. Uh, okay. Right off the bat, gets his lips just right and gets a sound out of the mouthpiece. But then he can't maintain it and thinks there's something wrong with the flute. lol.

The other day, it was my guitar that got pulled out. I think the piano top needs to be cleared off so that some inspiration can move that way, too.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I feel like I'm deschooling

You know the whole thing with kids who are pulled out of school, left to deschool, and they don't know what to do with themselves because they're lives, up until that point, had been so dictated by everything outside them and they'd never had to actually choose what to do with their time? That's how I feel. Yesterday was my first official day of summer vacation. I gravitated to the computer horribly--don't even want to know how many hours I ended up spending in all--and just kind of roamed aimlessly. Oh, sure, I accomplished some things, but man... I feel lost. lol. Things had been so busy for so long and now it's kind of, "Hm, what should I do?" lol

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wow, it's been a while!!!

It's been a while since I last wrote. Life has been very busy, what with finishing the 17yo's coursework and helping her prepare for exams and my kids' soccer games (usually at least 4 evenings a week--and I was team manager for one team and helped out during the game in planning subs), plus planning a trip to Drumheller and another field trip to Fort Edmonton and park days and my 7yo fractured his wrist this past Monday... It's been busy.

The end of year went well, I think. Dd and "Bob" pretty much stopped working the last week in May. Now, for all my readers in the US, that might not seem odd, but where I live in Canada, the last day of school was YESTERDAY for public schools. Sure, the junior high and high school kids have exams here and there the last two weeks of school, but... I want to organize things differently next year so that work is going on during the oldest's exam time and not play. As for the 17yo's exams, she was much calmer this year and a bit better prepared. We've talked more about having something a little more structured in terms of assignments and quizzes next year so that she really focuses on knowing the stuff as she goes along rather than just going through the work, without really knowing it, and having to cram it in at the end.

Our trip to Drumheller was FANTASTIC! We (my 2 kids, plus Bob and his sister (the 17yo)) went with 2 other families--we've all known each other for a number of years. We went hiking in a canyon nearby and other than an unfortunate mishap with one girl scraping her leg badly, it was very interesting. The following day, most of the kids and I went with a local to an area to find dinosaur fossils--and we did!! The kids all went home with stuff. It was great. We also went to the museum while there and to the outdoor spray deck. The older kids had quite the water fight while I was at the ice cream shop with my two.
Sunday wasn't quite as nice, but we were leaving anyhow, so I guess it was good timing. We still managed to make it to the hoodoos and see this old saloon. The wind was something awful at the hoodoos and it hurt at times because the sand and little rocks would whip your arms and face. I think we all came away from that with dirt in our ears, eyes and nose! The kids managed to climb to the top, which must have given them an incredible view.
We went to Ft. Edmonton this past Tuesday. It was a wonderful visit--the interpreters this year have been super well trained and it was just fantastic. Even though I've gone every year for the past... hm...6 years?...I learned new stuff. I think my favourite part was the kids managing to attend class in the old school house on 1885 Street (yes, the street set up to look like 1885 and I believe the school house is the original thing). The guy they had to play the school teacher did his role so well. He had the boys and girls line up in separate lines and let the ladies go first to sit down, naturally. The boys all had to have their hats off. They were not to speak unless he had called on them, they stood up, said, "Sir," and then said what they were to say. I think his first question was if anybody knew who our "current" Queen was--Bob raised his hand and said, "Queen Victoria." (I thought it was pretty good that he knew to answer according to 1885 standards!) He got a reminder from the teacher that he had to wait until called upon, stand up and say, "Sir." Bob tried very hard not to laugh as he went through the motions. At one point, he and his friend started laughing and the teacher stopped and just stared at them. It was too funny.
Of course, then there was the part when dd's friend (Bob's friend's sister, incidentally--one of the families we went to Drumheller with) was called upon to write the word "queen" on the board. She went up, wrote "queen" and sat back down. He looked at it for a few seconds then said, "Well, at least you spelled it correctly." ROFL. He then went on to explain how it was rather ugly and straight and all that and that it was the type of print we'd see off a printing press. Handwriting should be fluid and curved and he demonstrated how to write "queen" in cursive. Fun stuff.
Yes, the day before that, my ds jumped off a swing at a park day, lost his footing on the landing and came down too hard on his hand/arm, causing a fracture in a wrist bone. Ironically, this is the same playground where he fractured the other wrist two years ago...
I've been thinking more about my homeschooling and what to do about it. I'm going to read as many Montessori books this summer as I can and help myself feel more centred in that respect. I also want to put together some things for ds to work on reading and writing this summer--we both want him to be able to do the class for First Communion next school year, but if he can't read and write well enough... This is only our first official day off from school/dayhome, so it's just been having fun and relaxing. We'll get started on it next week.
For dd, she's just feeling so insecure in math, it's one thing I want to work on with her this summer. Get her times tables mastered once and for all (I know I've said that in the past, but knowing she's entering gr. 6 has this panicky feeling in me about her not knowing them--and she feels awful about not knowing them) and also tackle some other things, like large multiplication and long division.
There's probably lots of other stuff I could share, but I can't think of anything else!

Friday, May 16, 2008


The kids quite enjoyed our homeschool morning at the library. I can't say they accomplished a whole lot--there were just too many distractions. Things like a man sitting in a chair near our table and he kept looking over at us; the crazy lady in the bathroom who kept talking to herself and then when the 17yo coughed in her stall, the lady said, "Well, *cough * *cough* to you!"; and the biggest "excitement" and conversation starter were the two young men we could see from our window. The first came to this one area that had actually been designed for small bands to play outside. Young man who looked rather unkept and he's just kind of mozying around and sits down. Looks around. Pulls something out and lights up. Bob was at a perfect angle to notice this guy and saw that the guy had to light up a few times within a few seconds.

"Oh my God, that guy's doing drugs!" he blurts out. Well, THAT got everybody's attention. His sister didn't want to believe him at first because it's something he says fairly often about just random people he sees for only a second while we're in the van. But this time, he was completely right. That led to us observing him for a while. He kept spitting all over the place and was just generally disgusting. He puts something near this one post and keeps mozying around.

"What's he doing?" Bob asks.

"I think he's listening to music." Sure enough, he then adjusts his one headphone. But people are passing at this point, so he's just kind of slowly bopping around to his music. When the coast is clear, he pulls out the item he'd hid behind the post and lights it up again. Eventually, he unplugged something from one of the plugins--looks like an iTouch or something similar, he was recharging it. This guy didn't look like he could pay for a night in a motel much less for a phone like that.

In any case, it led to some discussions and some clarifications about how the security guards at the library were NOT cops and would not do anything about a guy behind the library smoking dope.

The second guy was rather funny to watch. Much better dressed--looked like a student. Very nervous as he walks around the area, seeing who's coming, just very uptight. Sits down on a bench and keeps looking around nervously. Finally pulls out a joint and has some trouble lighting it. Keeps trying to hide it every time somebody comes near. Eventually, he puts it out against the bench, pulls out a baggie of joints from his sleeve, puts the joint in the baggie, then hides it back up his sleeve. We almost burst out laughing. I think it was the irony of the situation--he's trying to be very secretive and not have anybody see yet here we were, watching him closely. (The way the library windows are, you can't really see well from outside into the inside. I don't think he would have been able to see that we were there.) THEN he's all relaxed and "cool", sitting back in the bench with his arms stretched out on the back of it, finally pulls out a bottle of pop and lights up a cigarette. Wow--what can I say about the health of our youth??


Yesterday morning, we changed things a bit, too. The 17yo had a 3.5-hour schedule (lately, it's beena 2-hour schedule, forcing her to work until 3:30 and sometimes past in the afternoon) and I pretty much let the others do their own thing. Then we spent the afternoon at a play ground for our homeschool group park day (okay, our OTHER homeschool group park day). It was nice and warm out--about 25C/78F. Just beautiful. Only drawback was the wind, which was gusting on and off at about 25 km/h. By evening, it was gusting up to 55 km/h! With our afternoon at the park then dd's soccer practice in the evening, I've had just about enough wind to last me a good long time.

Unfortunately, it looks windy again today, but it does look nice out--totally clear blue sky from where I'm sitting. I don't have the two oldest today but I do have my niece and my friend's 3yo. We'll go out to on a field trip today to a nature centre; that should be good.

Gotta go eat breakfast!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going to the library!

We are headed to the downtown library this morning for our homeschooling. We've said before we should do it sometime and never have. Today's the day! Wednesday seems like a good day to have a change in routine because they're usually rather sluggish for "Hump Day". It's also a beautiful day today, so being somewhere else will make it less tempting to want to go out and play on the trampoline, skateboard, bikes, etc. They'll still get to do that, but after lunch when we come back. (Except for the oldest--she'll have more work to do!)

I have a bad unMontessori tendency to take care of all the details for things. Not today! They'll work out what they are going to work on (except for some things that I've decided), what they need to bring, etc. I AM bringing some Dewey Decimal Worksheets that I found here that dd and "Bob" can do if they wish (even ds could participate). I'm also bringing my laptop because ds just will find 2.5 hours of typical sit-down stuff very long, so he'll be able to do Paint or we can type up a story together or something. Oh, and my kids need to prepare their lunches and snacks.

It should be a great adventure! :D

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Struggles, struggles

I've got things kind of laid out for Bob for next year. Although I felt like I was getting sidetracked, it really did clarify for me what has to be done for the rest of the school year so that next year doesn't come as a huge shock.

But I'm struggling internally. One part of me says that working WITH kids is so much better than just making all the decisions for them. Yet I have tried and tried over the past few months to work with him and it rarely goes anywhere. He might, MIGHT, have ONE day after our "working together" and then it's all trashed--it's like pulling teeth to get him to do anything. I don't think he wants to decide things right now. I think he wants the security of having someone else make the decisions. Which is how I'm planning it out--things like certain work has to be done daily and will be added onto the next day's (or days') work if not done, and "Privileges come AFTER required work is done." I'm feeling a bit like an ogre with him, yet at the same time, he's no different than a druggie who's so high he needs to have someone outside set some limits to get him back on track. He's not interested in working, he's not interested in setting real goals, nothing. Well, no, that's not true: he's interested in playing, having fun, do first and think later, twirl his hair, get people's attention... The bulk of what he does is really a form of avoidance. *sigh* But, I guess it's like giving a diabetic child his daily insulin--you don't really like it, but it must be done!


I always do this. Here I am, have lots of things to do, but I've got Bob's school program for next year on my mind--in part because it'll affect what I do with him for the next month and a half. So, what am I doing? Working out an ed. plan instead of getting all this study stuff done for his sister and getting next week planned out!

Just a thinking babble

My house is a disaster. My taxes aren't done. We're behind in school work. AAAAHHH.

Okay, but I'm not going to focus on that. Instead, I'll babble a bit about thoughts and solutions:

"Bob" has really hit the early teen "I don't want to work" mode. I'm not like Marva Collins and still haven't managed to be enthusiastic and organized and everything 24/7 (;)), but I see so badly the need to have him believe in himself, to take chances so that he can believe in himself more... He's hit a funk--twirling his hair again, just not interested in doing any type of work, quick to judge others (ESPECIALLY over stuff he does far more than the other person) and so much more. I think I need to read up on parenting/teaching techniques for male adolescents!!!! I'm not his parent, but I'm the next closest thing, which is why I brought up parenting.

I turn back to Montessori thinking at this point and know that she would have had him "out in the real world", doing almost an apprenticeship. That would be perfect. But it's not a possibility, so what's the next best thing? If we had a Montessori Erdkinder here, I'd really, really recommend to his parents that they send him. There's something about him and the influence of the group that would work so well, I know. However, the lacking skills would still have to be addressed at some point, and what stops him from doing them is "I can't do it," "This is dumb/stupid," "Why do I have to do this?" and "This is too hard." I wish Marva or Maria could come coach me! lol.

What other solutions have I come up with? A few possibilities:
  • things broken down into subjects/activity-types and timed
  • a set routine, with set work and he just moves onto the next thing when he's done the first thing
  • a set schedule with large blocks, wherein he has some set work and then fills the rest of the time from some related activities
  • daily meetings (more than once, if need be) to discuss the problems (like giving up, leaving the table, going to play/handle something when he should be working, not getting all of his work done, only working about 20-30 minutes or so a day, talking about whatever comes to his mind in the middle of me reading or to somebody else while they are trying to work, getting mad at other people for things he has done just that week). Of course, one of the first solutions that comes to my mind for his lack of work is to have a weekly report that goes home. However, that feels so babyish--he's 13, almost 14. How does that empower him? Make him feel good and want to do more good? If EVERYBODY is doing up reports, then perhaps that'd work. Strange time of year to do something like that, but maybe it's not a bad idea. I'll propose it on Monday, I think. Track each day what's getting done, add some comments, then the reports go to the non-present parents. (So my dd and ds have someone to give the reports to!) This would also help me get back into using Homeschool Tracker! I purchased the program because I love it, got going with it then it just got put by the wayside. It was helpful in doing marks for the oldest for her 1st semester courses, but it'd all be so much better if I could just return to putting things in each day.

My ds is not getting a very Montessori education. He's not getting much of an education at all. He's just so uninterested compared to how dd was, but then again, for ages 4-8, she had a companion to work with. It changes things a bit. Dd's not quite so eager now--things have never been the same since "my" now almost 12yo moved away almost 2 years ago. The two of them fed off each other. I was also different, though, far more immersed in my attempt at Montessori. How I've changed has encouraged things to not quite be up to the level they were at before. I don't have to have it be exactly the same--I know there are many ways for education to take place--but my enthusiasm or something has changed. Maybe just my clear vision. Because I was constantly reading Montessori and similar, I knew where I was going. I don't know so much where I'm going. Oh, sure, I plan things, but are they really related to any larger vision or is it just because I have a focus of having to get things done now? Hm...

The oldest is slowly getting herself "rekindled". A few comments here and there have helped her relax a little about the future (relax in terms of not be focused on what she believes to be inevitable inability to enter medicine) and talking about how she was doing so well in math her first year with me (she didn't even remember that, but now that it's been brought up, I can tell that there's a glimmer of hope in her now that wasn't there before). My task with her now is to keep fanning that spark so that it will burn brighter and brighter!

Enough of my babbling for now. I'd like to get some school work done--start working on preparing a "study binder" for the oldest and work on a country project to show Bob and dd a couple of possibilities on how to do theirs.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Just a ramble

So, I've actually got a few minutes where I don't feel like I need to be working on physics problems or planning and thought I'd take this time to blog!

This week, we got some rain. That meant all the worms came out. Dd and ds were out yesterday morning "saving" worms--of course, they were saving them from the concrete while it was still raining, so I'm sure many just ended back up on the concrete. They did keep a few to look at. I quickly prepared a very simple worksheet that had them explore the worms a bit more--how long? can you find the different parts? how many segments? etc. And a space to draw the worm. Ds has never really done something like this except when he participated in a workshop earlier this year. He really enjoyed it--not too hard, simple answers he could tell me, I'd write on a separate piece of paper and he'd copy it onto his sheet. It was good.

The oldest is trying hard to stay on track and to not panic too much about her exams. She has been ill the past couple of days, so it's been hard to really get things going in terms of starting to study NOW for her exams. Her brother... It's been very hard to get him into work mode. He just doesn't want to. I know part of it is being 13 and a boy. But he's distracting everybody!!!! He is also nowhere near ready to start high school courses, which he's supposed to do start in Sept. 2009. He will have no choice but to do the easiest courses that count towards a diploma the first year and upgrade later on.

On a non-homeschooling note, we had a kind of strange thing happen. Dd picked out a box of Vanilla Mini-Wheats, her favourite flavour of Mini-Wheats. She has the first bowl and says, "Maman, they messed it up. It tastes more like Maple Mini-Wheats." I come and look, and sure enough, some have the whitish vanilla frosting, but more have the maple-looking beige frosting. Some are even a mix of white and beige. I had a bowl and it really tasted like maple Mini-Wheats with a hint of vanilla, not even completely maple. I sent Kellogg's an email, just telling them that they might have a batch out there that's off. Well, they CALLED me today. Asked me a few questions, then sent over Purolator to get the box! I guess it's a big deal to have it mixed up this way because I was perfectly willing to just keep the box and eat it. But the lady said, "No, you purchased Vanilla and should have had Vanilla so we want to fix this all up." I'll be receiving *2* vouchers in the mail for free Kellogg's products. But back to Purolator... The guy shows up, apparently hadn't been told that a cereal box was being sent, because he comes out of the truck with an envelope. I opened the door and he asks, "You have a package to send to Kellogg's?" I said, "Yes, but I don't think it'll fit in the envelope." It was probably his first ever box of cereal being sent Purolator!

I've decided there must be something in general going on since today, I purchased a bag of Nibs and they just weren't like Nibs. Lighter colour, not quite the same flavour, much mushier (which is why I had bought them--they felt "fresh"). They were good, but not the same Nibs I've bought for years.

Puppy is doing great, getting big! We've got lots of pictures on our camera, but they haven't been uploaded to the computer yet, so nothing to share right now. She's a good puppy--easy to forget she's still a puppy and get mad at her for things that are just puppy behaviour! She's not quite 4 months, weighs 30 pounds, has wonderful lab paws and such goofy ears, and is just a really great dog. Even does this little gruff bark when she sees someone seem to approach the house or even when I come in from the garage and she didn't know I was there. It's not aggressive in any way, just a little, "Hey, there's someone there." Very cute.

What else? Before Christmas, the kids had stopped receiving their weekly allowance because ds had decided he was going to save up his money and wanted to wait until Christmas to get the build-up of his allowance, and dd decided to do the same. After Christmas, not being in the habit of giving them their allowance, weeks and weeks will accumulate before we remember. Today, dd got 15 weeks worth of allowance! lol

Got a phone call now--I'll go!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 23rd

Original title, eh?

I just thought I'd stop in. Life has been crazy with school, puppy, family get-togethers, puppy, other life stuff, puppy, computer problems, puppy... Yes, puppy takes up a lot of my time. I no longer spend the time I used to in the morning on the computer, which was my primary time for doing things like blogging! I actually spend no time most mornings on the computer.

Can't say much right now. Just wanted to stop in!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I don't get it

I'm quite good at math. Quite good at physics. Or at least I was good at physics when I was in school. Haven't had any problems with the 17yo's math--pretty much ever, except for Challenge questions.

But this dang Physics 11 of hers... Thank God there are answers, although they don't show how to get the answers. I'm having to do most questions more than once to get to the right answer. I don't know how much more stuff a classroom teacher would be providing that this textbook isn't providing, but good grief!!!! Hours upon hours trying to get these problems done! I think I need to find a support resource. I did find one website which could be helpful, but geez... I don't know if my brain is just not approaching it correctly, if I'm skipping over things in the text or something. I don't get it. Some questions I've given up on for now. How are kids supposed to be able to do this work?? I suppose it doesn't help that I've NEVER done the work that she's currently doing. Quite sure of it. And the textbook is somewhat lacking in their examples. They'll give a super basic example, then have a "practice problem" which has to be approached in a completely different way.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

I know it's been a while!

Over a week. It's just very time-consuming with our puppy and just life. I get up at 6, get ready for the day, spend time watching the puppy and getting some school stuff done, then it's breakfast and get ready for the school day, then the school day, kids leave at 4, there's some cleaning up to do, supper to prepare, eat and clean up after, then maybe a small bit of computer time before school stuff and bedtime routines for the kids, then some more school stuff and maybe 30 minutes relaxtion, then sleep.

Our first week back was okay. The 17yo has been working quite well, despite being tired. I realize as I type this we could work on CELEBRATING progress more! Her brother didn't get a whole lot done this week, but man, is he still progressing nonetheless. He will be 14 in June, and that means he will be eligible to get his learner's licence. He has been reading the past couple of days. He struggles with it, but is capable of reading sooo much! He wrote a couple of times this week and that's improving, too. It's been really great. I guess I have to take back my "okay"--it was really better than okay, looking back, it just didn't feel like it going through it since not a whole lot of work got done by the 13yo and dd.

Ds is able to ride his bike everywhere now--up and down sidewalks and our driveway and all around our loop... He's obsessed. lol.

Puppy is doing great! She's just such a wonderful pup. Has at least one crazy, out-of-control, hyper period each day, but she's great.

All I have to say for now!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's been a while, hasn't it?

While life with puppy is not as crazy/chaotic as I was afraid it might be, having to spend more time watching her, plus just time being spent doing other things that have come up, have left me forgetting to blog!

At this moment, dd is out on her bike, proud to have finally figured out how to pump while standing up. Ds has decided to learn (finally) without training wheels. Keep in mind he's 7! We tried a bit last year, but he was just not psychologically ready to do without them. He's determined this year to learn, which is great.

School-wise... I don't know. It's been a while. We're on spring break now, so no official schooling going on. The 17yo (yes, she had her birthday since my last post) fractured her wrist when we were at the ski/snowboard hill last week, but didn't start thinking it was fractured until the day after when her wrist wasn't acting like a sprained wrist. They put her in a half-cast, but it's only gotten worse, so she's going in today for a full cast.

Her brother, "Bob"... Self-sabotage in all areas. School-wise before spring break--was doing well then right downhill. 75%+ on some ELA worksheets for a while, then he decided he wasn't going to try anymore and got 50%-. He had a chance at making a provincial team last week, a team that would be going to Australia to compete this summer, but he decided to walk off the board for his best dive during competition. He apparently is saying he did try, which maybe he did, maybe he didn't (his truthfulness lately has been severely lacking), but if he did actually believe he was trying, then it was still self-sabotage. Why? Perhaps rebellion against his coach and mom, perhaps a way to ensure that he doesn't go to Australia, thereby avoiding going on a plane. Unconsciously, he was not going to make that dive. Other self-sabotage: he had a dentist appointment last week and has a bunch of cavities, with one tooth really rotting away. Why does he have so many cavities? Because he doesn't really brush his teeth and he eats lots of sweet junk. What does he eat the following day? A bag of Skittles.

Back to school... I've been through the oldest's work and she should be able to do her Math 20 exam early to mid-May, be caught up in Bio by April 19, in Physics by early May. English is fine. French... Got to figure out still what she really needs to learn for her exam. I've decided that she has just hit into such a personal funk that I can't let her "suffer the consequences" for not keeping herself on top of things, so I'm going to insist she keep up with a scheduling I've worked out for her. She just ends up feeling more down about herself, so if I can take over the scheduling and we can focus on success in other areas, perhaps she'll find a bit more of her motivation. So many things going on in her teen life! Any little bit of feeling successful will be wonderful.

For "Bob", I'm working out a vision then mission statement. I'm also going to plan out what he will work on a little more in detail. By this, I don't necessarily mean he has to learn this and that for social studies; it could be more of a daily scheduled time for social studies project work--with me doing my own project while he does his, and maybe dd does her. When I do my own related work on the side, they are so much more motivated to do their own projects. I do already have some general things that I expect him to do--with less than 3 months of school left, it's time for him to get working on them!

Other than that... I don't know. I could really use a nap at the moment. lol

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A day of 3's.

This post has nothing to do with homeschooling nor Montessori!

Dh has been looking through puppy ads for a few weeks, sending me things here and there. This week, he sent me some ads, with 2 he really was interested in. He never really made any noise about follow through on this one ad, and we never talked about which puppy picture we liked the best, but I decided to email the lady. With the other ad, we had no idea what the puppies looked like.

The lady from the one ad emailed me back on Thursday--she was coming up to where I live for the weekend and could bring the puppy I was interested in with her. My first thought: amazing timing! After talking with her rescue partner on the phone, I just could not stop thinking about this puppy. Didn't get enough sleep Thurs. night partly due to it. Then Fri., I showed all the kids the puppy we were to see on the weekend and just could not stop thinking about her. I decided I had to push aside my obsession--we might prefer the other puppies we were going to see and then I'd feel guilty, or I'd be the only one who felt this way about this puppy. Protecting myself, I guess. :)

Yesterday, we went to see the other puppies first. Absolutely adorable and sweet. Husky/lab/shepherd crosses that looked like light tan labs (rather than the full yellow). If we didn't have this other puppy to see, we would have taken one then and there. We went back home, had lunch and went to see the other puppy. I momentarily misplaced the address and could only remember the street name. Both dd and dh were convinced the house number was 3. But that was the house number for the first puppy place we'd seen (that had 3 puppies for us to see). Sure enough, found the paper: both house numbers were 3. What were the odds?

Dh (who seemed pretty bent on taking one of the other puppies and like he was reluctantly going to see this one, yet now says that he knew inside she was the one) loved her right away. Ds initially was very sad we weren't getting one of the other puppies, but seeing this puppy more and more, he was quite happy about the idea of bringing her home. We spent 3 hours (maybe 3 hours 30 minutes) at this lady's son's place, talking, getting to know the dog, etc. And the price for a rescue puppy? $300.

We left there and went to my mother's house--the 3rd house we'd gone to that day--to get a dog crate from her. Puppy was fantastic at my mom's place and the dog she has took to the puppy right away, no problems. Which is great to see because we will be at my mom's for Easter.

In any case, lots of 3's yesterday! Let's continue the theme by sharing 3 pictures we have of our new puppy:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What a kid!

Ds (7) was reading times facts out loud from a chart we have (why was he doing this? don't know) and ended with 12 x 7, 12 x 8 and 12 x 9. I asked him, "What about 12 x 10?"

"Oh, okay. 12 x 10 is..." Pause. Then with pleasant surprise in his voice, "It's 2 minutes!" He can't remember consistently that 6+6 is 12, but he can tell you that 2 minutes is 120 seconds.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Progress, not perfection

"Progress, not perfection" is FlyLady's motto. It's become mine, as well.

I'm still having issues with Bob, but he did progress a small bit this week, so I guess I need to focus on that. Monday went fairly well--more work done than usual. Tuesday... He was resisting doing pre-algebra work, basically feeling like he was entitled to say he would never learn it because he didn't want to--he didn't like working with the x's. I told him his sister spends about 90% of her math time working with those x's and that it sounds like the real problem is he doesn't feel capable, but to be capable means doing the work. He just kind of sat there. I got fed up and said, "You know, if you don't learn this stuff, you won't get a diploma. And if this resistance, which you've been giving a lot of lately, is what you're going to do for high school, I can't keep you here." He begrudgingly gave in. But did well and even asked to do some on Wed., but it didn't end up happening because I was feeling off and not concentrated enough. Yesterday, he had a really bad headache, finally managed to fall asleep and woke up just before lunch!

Dd watched a multiplication section of a Math Tutor DVD that I took out from the library. She really liked his explanation of 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication and asked to do some yesterday. She got all hung up on one mistake and let it sour her mood. :( They all have a tendency to treat mistakes as though they are evils, or confusion as being the same as stupid. Not sure where they get this from! The two oldest came to me that way, the one girl I used to homeschool was sooooo bad about it, you could say she had eraser-phobia until enough of me saying, "They put erasers on just about every pencil because everybody makes mistakes." I need to maybe have 2 posters up:

Progress, not perfection.


Confusion does not mean stupidity.

Having a conversation about why we get confused might be a good thing!

The 16yo (she's almost 17! omg! I feel old! lol) has made some nice progress this week. She's struggling with some health stuff at the moment but still managed to get a fair amount done and has had a more positive attitude. It's great to see!

Ds has spent probably a couple of hours each day playing his guitar, enjoys the Geomags and has started playing "basketball" in the house with a bus-tent and just a regular ball (like the big beach balls, but small size). We've only read once this week. But he told me yesterday he wanted to read and do math with me this morning (we were talking about how work needed to get done before we go off to the rec. centre this afternoon). Sounds good to me!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Almost a full week at home!

This coming week, we have nothing set in stone. There is park day tomorrow afternoon, if we choose to go, and we talked about going to a rec. centre Friday afternoon (work isn't usually done then anyhow), but other than that, we are home! Well, okay, except for library and small errands taking up an hour on Tuesday.

I kind of changed things Friday morning. It's been bugging me for a while about how to get dd and "Bob" back on track. I try to work with them, and they don't follow through. I couldn't figure out what my follow-through should be. So, I just started having them come to me for little lessons. "Okay, we're doing this now." It worked. :) Next step is to clearly lay out what has to be done (well, Bob has stuff that MUST be done because it's part remedial stuff) and then give them choices for lessons, but have continual lessons/activities all morning long.

For the oldest... She's still struggling to develop motivation. She left ALL of her books at my place this weekend. Despite being behind in math, bio and physics. I did up an example of weekly notes review, just for physics, with some tips on remembering some information, emailed it to her yesterday and asked her to copy it out. It was 2 pages, but lots of white space--would only take 10 minutes to copy. I just got an email from her, asking me if she "had to" do the work because she really doesn't want to do it (even though she knows she should). We've had this discussion many times--she doesn't "have to" do anything--but she'll have to live with the consequences of it. I hope I wasn't harsh in my response: I told her that she didn't "have to" do anything, but she had to choose if she wanted to do better than 50% on her exams (which is what she got on her most recent exams), better than 50-60% in the course, and if she wanted to stop freaking out at any mention of a quiz or test. (I also said that if she chooses to not do work on the weekends, she is choosing to only get 50-60% in the courses.) She freaks out because she doesn't really have the material learned well and she knows it. So much gets left to the last minute to "learn" because she resists doing the work so much. But instead of learning from that, she just sees herself as incapable of doing exams, because she figures that she's "learned" all the stuff and just can't remember it. I'm absolutely determined to have that change this semester. Which is why I sent her the work to do. :)

This week, I'm letting her know that I expect her to be caught up completely by spring break. Perhaps not math--that's a whole other issue--but there's no reason for her bio and physics to not be caught up, although, admittedly, she may need to work on it Thursday evenings and on the weekends. We've got 5 days (more or less) this week, 4 next week (one day off for snowboarding), 3 the week after (Good Friday, plus the 20th off for her bday), then 3 the week after that (Easter Monday plus a snowboarding day). I was going to give them the Friday off, but perhaps they should have to work for it. :D Not as a reward, but as "you get things done ahead of time and you are left with some free time". Hmm.... I kind of like that idea. It puts it in their hands. Of course, that wouldn't work quite as well with dd since she doesn't have as much structure as Bob and his sister, but perhaps something can be worked out, like certain learning goals to achieve by that point. Like large multiplication. :D

Although ds and I haven't gotten our routine down quite yet--he wakes up at different times, experiences different levels of grogginess in the morning--he's still doing not too badly. I'm still working at incorporating more into our daily life for his learning. Every time I get him to read, I can see the little bit of improvement. If we could be more consistent--and I could provide some fun phonics activities to do with him--he would take off.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What day is it today?

I was going to write that it's been a week since I last wrote, then I went, "Wait a sec. What day is it today?" I'm not sure it's a good sign that it's only Tuesday and I think it's later than it is!

Ah well. Yesterday started off well. I was determined to have work get done and that determination and enthusiasm spilled over to dd and Bob--they both got started on writing stories and spent a good 45 minutes on it. The 16yo however... I don't know what to do about her, to be honest. She's not motivated--and she admits it. She's unfocused. She really doesn't want to be doing any of the work she's been doing, so she fights it by being unfocused. That's how I see it, anyhow. Despite daily "reminders" of how we have a choice in how we look at things and other reminders along those lines, it's not helping. Even just yesterday, somehow the topic came up of people having bad days, where one bad thing after another occurs. I said something about it all depends on how you look at it--you can see all the things as bad and focus on that or you can just stay positive. Then she recounted a day not long ago where it was one thing after another and how she tried to stay positive but it didn't work. There's something off in her expectations, I think. It's almost as though she figured that by staying positive, nothing else potentially bad/annoying would happen, but that's not really the point!

Further to her expectations... I still have to work on her concept of learning and tests. She did a physics quiz last Friday and half-way through kept repeating the mantra, "I can't remember this." Well, it really had little to do with remembering and just thinking, to the point that dd and Bob, who were "doing" the quiz in the background (it's an online quiz) were able to correctly figure out the answer. Of course, that, I believe, just made her feel stupid. Maybe that's what all of the struggles recently with her are really about: lack of self-confidence. She doesn't feel like she can (she had a very rough time with her exams), so part of her is holding back from doing it. Soooo... How to build her self-confidence with this? How to give her some daily moments of success? How to help her find her motivation? Long-term goal setting doesn't really work at the moment because part of her is convinced she can't achieve it. And she's already behind in pretty much all of her work and getting further and further behind each day because she's not doing enough. Focusing on that, however, just gets her really discouraged. Hm...

With Bob's gr. 11 physics success last Friday, and with him asking if he can do physics, I'm tempted to actually propose to him that he start gr. 10 science next year (he's in gr. 8). The reading and writing might be beyond his capacity at that point, but what a motivator! Another something for me to think about.

But, back to yesterday... Started off great, but then fizzled. As soon as I started working on math with the 16yo, it kind of all fell apart. I tried to do spelling with dd and Bob at the same time, which kind of worked, but dd had gotten into one of her funks (because she'd gotten all frustrated with her story from earlier) and the 16yo's focus was on how long and confusing her math question was... We went to park day in the afternoon, and that was really nice.

Other than that, my mind is preoccupied with where dd's toque has gotten to. :( We had it on Friday for sure, I told her I had it in my bag, which I'm fairly confident that I did, but after that, I don't know where it ended up and we only discovered yesterday that it's lost. We only bought it a couple of months ago, along with a toque for ds, which we lost within the first week. :( *sigh* She didn't play outside on the weekend and she didn't go to any stores. She did go to swimming, but says she didn't have it with her (I think I may still check the pool today) and we went to Mass, and I know she didn't have it then. I guess there are 3 possibilities: 1) we lost it at the ski hill or somehow on the way back, 2) it's in the house somewhere because I didn't put it away right away when unpacking my bag on Friday, 3) she lost it on the way to, at, or on the way back from the swimming pool. Part of me keeps thinking it's in the house, but I don't know where. Fortunately, I found her old toque downstairs on the weekend (before even knowing the other one had gone missing), so she's able to wear that, but misses her new toque!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A turning point?

I got my dd to write in French twice this week. As frustrating as she finds it, it was pretty good. her spelling in French is atrocious--but she spends almost no time reading in French, so there you go.

Bob had a meltdown yesterday. I insisted that he write before being allowed to have free time and he saw dd go off and write a whole bunch of stuff (although she was all grumpy about it, and it was huge writing and more then double-spaced) and he couldn't come up with something to write and it all fell apart. He compared himself to her, then got himself convinced he wouldn't be able to become a dentist or anything else. These kinds of meltdowns in the past have been very therapeutic and have helped to get him back on track. I have been trying to so hard to pull him back on track and so little was working. This, hopefully, will help. The talks I tried to have with him in terms of planning didn't do much (he didn't participate much), but then he resisted everything. *sigh*. We're to have another talk today to plan things out. He heard about the idea of starting over from the beginning and was kind of eager to do that the other day, and maybe he'll be really willing to do it now. We need to have a good talk about what he has to do, set some goals and create a good solid plan.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What a week

Last week didn't get moving as I'd hoped.

The 16yo was recovering from burnout a bit. She did get some stuff done, but not much. She said, though, on Thursday that she was really enjoying having a break after the several weeks of stress.

Our dog passed away on Tuesday :( , which left us with a no-work day on Wed., then Thurs. was Valentine's Day, and Friday was only a half day. We cleaned a bit Friday morning and then watched a movie.

This means that the 16yo is now 2 weeks behind her original start date for the semester, which was already a week behind the school's 2nd semester start.

However, I'm reminding myself to focus on what I want, so I'm focusing instead on how to make the most of this week, which is a holiday today, tomorrow we're at a ski hill, Wed. and Thurs. are full school days, then Friday is another half-day with yet more ski in the afternoon. 2.5 days, plus an hour tomorrow morning. Since I am so resolved to get work back on track, I'm taking that hour to work with the kids on establishing plans for the week. The 16yo already has a calendar with her subject unit/chapter deadlines, so her job will be to figure out how much she can reasonably get done during her available work time. She'll need to aim to do 1.5 to double what she was originally going to do each day. She'll probably have to work 6 hours both Wed. and Thurs. to make a good dent on her stuff. She doesn't have diving or anything Thurs. night, so she can bring some work home with her, too.

For "Bob," I keep bouncing back and forth between ideas. On the one hand, I'd like to just tell him, "You have to do this, this and this." On the other, I want to work with him. But then thoughts come up of, "It doesn't work well. He's not willing to be responsible/follow through on his plans. Etc." I have to have a clearer image of where to go with him. Let me babble here about the things that need to be worked out in terms of work.

Okay, he needs reading time, obviously. He needs to have time to read silently, and he needs reading instruction to improve his skills. He needs to work on his printing, but it doesn't have to be every day. He needs to work on spelling--at least 3 times a week would be good. He needs to write daily. He needs "remedial math" time as well as time to work on his math text. Since he did NONE of it last week, he now has 75 days to do 100 days of work. He really ought to have science or social studies each day. Maybe he and I can just discuss things and work out a vision from there.

For dd, it'll be the same: work out what kinds of work should be worked on then take it from there.

For ds, it'll probably be more of a discussion along the lines of, "It's important to practise reading and writing and do some math each day. When should we do that?" Other than that, it's really up to me to come up with activities and lessons to invite him to. He's already agreed to telling me all about some bugs he knows and I'll write down the information, but we haven't done it yet. We did do the Golden Bead presentation last week; I can do the layout this week and play some games like, "Bring me 3 tens. Bring me 5 units."

My niece is only coming once this week. I should still probably think of some activity I could show her.

I know one thing I want to bring up (again) during our discussion/meeting tomorrow is what is acceptable in the morning. Bob in particular will need a reminder that going off to talk to someone, especially while they are working, does NOT constitute work and is interfering with the work others are doing. Another thing that needs to be brought up is how he seems to feel the need to take a break after every work item, even if it only took him 5 minutes; I'm not going to bring that up specifically (focus on what you want!), but we can talk about when breaks are reasonable, how long, and what is okay to do during a break. I think we'll create a big "Reminders" poster or something that can be put up and referred to.

I just had the thought that I'd like to bring back something I haven't had going in a long time: classical music playing lightly in the background. One problem with that is that our upstairs stereo's cd player has gone haywire. I could put it on downstairs, that'd still work, since the way our house is built, downstairs is just right there. I should try cleaning the stereo again and see if it helps. The way it's acting makes me think it's dirty rather than actually damaged. I might need to see about a different cleaner since we've lost the actual cleaning solution for the one we have.

Oh, and I put up an Agenda sheet for meetings and it's so strange how meetings help curb certain behaviours in Bob. For example, after coming back from his dive meet, he kept saying to people, "Go home!" Well, up it went on the sheet and when we sat down for a little meeting at lunch, he said he'd stop (even though we'd all asked him before to stop, but somehow, having it brought up at the meeting makes it more 'serious') and he really did catch himself a couple of times and changed what he said. Haven't heard it since.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A new semester!

We are finally beginning second semester. About 1.5 weeks late, but oh well.

The 16yo has a LOT of work to do already since she didn't get started last week as she had planned (did her exam later than anticipated then was gone all Friday morning). She was given things to do on the weekend. I hope for her sake that she did them. We have got another crazy week ahead of us.

Today: park day
Tomorrow: 16yo has an appointment in the morning and all the kids are in a workshop in the afternoon
Wed.: have my niece that day; actually, that'll be a fairly normal day, except we want to have birthday cupcakes for her (she's 3 today!)
Thurs.: 16yo has driving lesson over the lunch hour, plus it's Valentine's day: more cupcakes or maybe cookies instead!
Fri.: skiing/snowboarding in the afternoon--this time, the cold shouldn't cancel it!

Basically, that amounts to 4.5 mornings and 2 afternoons of work for the oldest. Minus cupcake and whatnot time. So, bascially only 3 days to get her work done.

I'm starting fresh with "Bob" today, too. I worked out last week how much math he has left to do: 100 lessons in 80 days. Supposed to be a lesson a day. He's going to have to work steadily, then double up certain days. I've also decided to have him work at his level yet still meet the gr. 8 language arts reading and writing requirements for the school we're with (for those registered to do so; he's not; I know, it's complicated if you're not familiar with our system :) ). He's got what looks to be a lengthy checklist for each day, but it's really not that bad. He needs to get working!!!!

Dd has been remotivated (that a word?) over the past few days and is eager to work on some different things she's got going. She even did division with me last week and was enjoying it. I had started the Jump Math's approach to learning the times tables in 5 days with her and Bob, but hadn't gotten past the first day with them. So I reviewed the first day stuff with her (which is simple things up to 5x5) and then decided to ask her some of the same things but in division form. She did the division faster than the multiplication. What a kid!

Ds has been sick. :( But he's getting a bit better and we should be able to resume some learning activities today. I'm going to re-present to him the Golden Beads today so that he can learn the names of the categories. Then tomorrow, I'll do the bead layout.

But now I have to go get myself ready for the day!

It's been so cold here lately (in the -35C to -45C with the wind chill; about -25C in general). It's now up to -13C! Yay! It'll be around -4C sometime this afternoon. Perfect for our re-entry into park days.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Warning--crazy week ahead!

Things have felt crazy, hectic, busy since we got back from Christmas vacation. I keep waiting for it to be over with, but I think I've got to change my expectations!

Here's our coming week:

--morning meeting--had restarted then stopped; we'll restart and tackle plans for the day and expectations: like NOT finding things to play with at 9am and you haven't gotten anything done yet!
--16yo's study day plus 2nd semester planning and maybe fit in some CALM or French; we decided to hold off until Wed. morning for her chem exam because she has not practised all of the equation work and more than half the exam is equations!
--work day for the others: have got a list for "Bob" and we'll be tackling his wandering today a bit
--my niece is coming, but she usually comes Mondays so that's not any different

--morning meeting
--16yo's study and work day
--typical day for the others
--my niece will be here

--Bob is gone on a dive meet; no niece--I'll only have 3 kids in the house!
--16yo does her exam in the morning; my two will do something quiet (I will do school stuff with them before the 16yo arrives)
--field trip to a vet clinic
--16yo gets started on her 2nd semester course work! (bio, phys., English, finish up math, finish up CALM, French--sounds like a lot and it kind of is, but she's got maybe a week's worth left of CALM, French isn't super intensive since she's only going for French 30, math will be done by spring break)

--still no Bob
--my nephew has the day off school and we've been invited over to his place; his place used to be the 16yo's (former) best friend's house--she's spent more time there than I have! She'll get to see the renos. I don't know when we're going and the oldest definitely needs to work, so I might end up dropping my kids off there and coming home with just the 16yo--that'll be sooooo weird.

--still no Bob; no niece
--normal work in the morning
--try to reinstate our Friday clean-ups
--ski/snowboarding in the afternoon

With the oldest starting her bio and physics, I've been hoping to make some materials or come up with some lessons to offer to the others related to what she's doing. I haven't come up with anything yet.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's soooooo cold!!!!

It's -28C right now outside. That's actually warmer than it was the other morning. The kids have still been playing outside, but they're not lasting their 2-3 hours at a time--more like 45 minutes, then they're in. All the schools are having indoor recesses and my lucky guys get to go play out in the snow!

I have to take a picture of something they've created out of the following drift that was created overnight the other day:

It's normally completely flat in there. They've managed to create something that looks a bit like a castle!

The cold reminds me so much of growing up in Yellowknife and I have remembered why we all wore long-johns under our pants each and every day!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What? January's almost done??

Where did it go???

This last week seemed to drag on forever. By Wednesday, we were all thinking it was Friday. Not sure why. We're probably cooped up too much while the 16yo finishes up her work and studying for her exams. One more week and her first 2 exams will be done and her exam studying will be done.

Not a whole lot got done by dd and "Bob" this week. Part of it was because I was so focused on helping the 16yo. Another part is that everybody's getting so antsy, it felt better to just let them go play. They actually decided to learn how to play chess this week. It's absolutely hilarious to watch because they've modified the rules. It's no longer a competitive game--they're making deals with each other about places they can move. Some of the games, though, are lasting a whole 5 minutes. It's quite funny!

I've been doing not too badly with ds. A couple of times, I gave him is A Beka cursive workbook (K level) and told him to pick any page. He likes that rather than having to go strictly in order. He was sooooooooo proud of some of his letters. It was so cute. Then I decided to do a modified Ray's Primary Arithmetic lesson (orally), but thought I didn't need to go in order like they do. (First question is something like: John has 1 apple and Mary gives him 2 apples. How many apples does he now have? Second question goes to 2+2, then 3+2 and so on.) Actually, I thought he'd catch on too quickly and would just automatically go in order without thinking about the answer. But he got all confused and I went in order and he never caught on. I should just trust the program--it was used for years in the old schoolhouses in the 1800's and the kids learned so much from their approach.

Dd is no longer doing the Saxon math. She was eager to do it before she started actually doing it. Then it was drudgery. I just made up some sheets for her for a bit then gave her The Key to Algebra and had her do a couple of pages. She LOVES it. So there we go. She's happy with math again. I'm thinking, though, that I'm so tired of her and Bob not knowing their times tables that I may have them do a TON of work on them this week. Is it possible to learn all your tables in a week? It's not like it's something new. But there is so much frustration from certain work because they don't know their tables. It's time to get them mastered and be done with. I could have sworn years ago I'd seen something about mastering the times tables in a week. I'll have to see if I can find something. If not, I'll make something up using a variety of approaches. Using just worksheets, of course, would be very annoying. But you mix some oral recitation with some physical games (like go pick up the answer) and some board games and some flash cards AND the worksheets, then you get a lot of practice in a bunch of different ways. Oh, right, and I have a multiplication tables Wrap-Up. I've got lots of stuff. That's my only math plan for them this coming week, except maybe integrate some fun geometry.

Other than that, Bob's reading is making some nice progress. I think his glasses have made a big difference. He's made it clear that he likes having a checklist to tell him what he needs to do, but likes choosing the order. That's fine--if it works for him, so be it. This week, I'm assigning him pages to read in the book Peak by Roland Smith. He's started reading it with/to me and it's going well. AND he's enjoying it. I really think it's a book he'll like. I'm only assigning 3-4 pages per day, definitely doable. Especially since we're restarting our 30 minutes of silent reading in the morning. Somebody reading this might say, "He's only going to read 3 pages in 30 minutes?" Well, his reading is still iffy and this book is actually above his level (although he read "moldering" without ANY assistance last week--woo hoo! and he KNEW it was moldering even though he had no clue what moldering meant!) and he spends half his time fretting about whether he'll be able to read and getting up and getting a drink or going to the bathroom or asking questions... If he can get the 3 pages done in 30 minutes, that'll be great. Then we can start gradually moving him up.

The 16yo is going to be studying social and chem on Monday, mixing it in with beginning to plan her second semester, do her social exam Tuesday morning, we'll go to the library Tuesday afternoon, I think she has a driving lesson Wed. morning or Wed. lunch hour, then she'll study chem and continue her semester planning, then Thursday study chem and do semester planning, then Friday morning, do her chem exam and Friday afternoon, she'll be able to go snowboarding and know she's done her exams! (Well, for now--she has to finish her math still and do that exam in March. And, of course, that doesn't count the 4 exams she'll have to do second semester in May/June.) She can go home Friday night and know that there's not a single thing she has to work on all weekend. :)

For ds and my niece... I'm really trying hard to focus on bringing more Montessori into our days. I have felt so scattered the past couple of weeks, though, and think it's largely due to not getting some good routines in and focus on these exams and evaluations (oh, yes, that's another thing the 16yo has to do--do MY tests/worksheets so I have marks to give). I've started rereading some Montessori stuff and am thinking up ideas. I need to get my own personal routine going so that I can improve upon our environment and have be prepared to show them some great lessons. That's always the key--the outer stuff happens according to how I've dealt with my own things. Always like that. When I slack off, even if my slacking off has nothing to do with the kids' work, then they do. Total mirroring! It's crazy. But at the same time a nice natural consequence to keep showing us how we're off. :)