Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No Flushing



Huh? you say. Yes, we did not flush our toilet all day today. Ewwwwwww right?

Wrong. We are saving gallons of water by using our bath water to flush the toilet. When taking a shower or bath, you keep all that water in your tub. Get a bucket, scoop some up and when you 'Go' you pour that 'grey water' into your toilet bowl. Bye bye pee pee. Bye bye poo poo. (anyone who's seen Once Upon a Potty will recognize that one. LOL)

I had a little instruction time for the boys this morning. I showed them how to lift the seat, pour two scoops of water in and then dry up any water spills. The scoops they use are with an old Tupperware container they use for bath playtime. I also put tape over the handle so it would remind us all not to flush. They didn't think too much of it. They just did it. I told them it was to save water and money and we were going to try it and see how it worked.

So far so good!!! Although, I doubt we'll have enough water to get through until tomorrow morning. Pooh accidentally let a lot of their bath water down the drain before he remembered to leave it in there.

Oh well, there's always The King's morning shower to look forward to. ;D

Our Life With Autism

I saw a mom on a yahoo list talking about her son with autism. He's five and she wonders if it's normal for the autistic kids to cry a lot more at five than other kids.

My son with autism is now 11 and he still gets that toddler tantrum cry. Noooooooooo! It hits your bones. It pierces the soul, just as the infant cry does. So to still be living with it (although it has decreased immensely over the years)can be tiring, depressing and many other emotions mixed in.

I do think RDI can help. Tammy has shown that with her daughter Pamela. I think I've seen it help in our home. However, truth be told, I don't "do" RDI anymore. Right now, we're just living our lives. This is my confession time I guess. I admire so much those families that are keeping up with it and I follow your emails and blogs with enthusiasm, cheering you on, cheering your successes and feeling your despair when things aren't working well. (That goes for all the families with special needs children that I know, not just those doing RDI.)

I was pretty much 'done' with therapies by the time I found RDI. I thought when I learned about it that I was ready to start again. Ready to embark on the next chapter with gusto. Ready to delve into what I could do as a parent to help my child.

I was wrong.

I got into it and it totally exhausted me. My life was once again taken over by the autism. Examining the goals (and believe me, trying to figure out what the heck they mean is just too mind boggling for me), then figuring out if your child has mastered it or not, coming up with ways to work on the goal, remembering to video it (and i still have an old computer and camera that means i have to mail vhs tapes!!!) editing the video, etc etc. I'm just done with all that for now.

As I said, we're just living our lives. Since I found Charlotte Mason and the AO information, school has been so much easier. Oh and finding Math U See too. Wow! What a difference. This also doesn't mean I have forgotten the principles of RDI. I do still think about how I phrase things. Making statements instead of constant questions. I'm sure if we were videoing I'd find a lot more I need to change in my communication style. I'm still on the RDI lists. I still read RDI blogs. I still think about RDI almost everyday. It has affected our lives, but right now I can't let it control my life. I found it very difficult trying to cut my very demanding younger child out of the picture while trying to concentrate on my older one. Very stressful for all of us. The King can't even fathom trying to read all the info he needs to read about RDI so we talk about it sometimes or at least talk about some of the principles of it, but it isn't there as pressure.

Everyone needs to do what's best for their kids and family. We're all trying to find the balance. It hurts me to see all that Pooh still has to learn. But I've seen so much progress over the years that I know it will get better each year. Yes, he's very unreasonable some days. Some days we just can't get through to him. Other days, we make these wonderful connections. And one thing I know about my son's autism is that he does remember things we tell him. It comes out in other areas that he's remembered little tidbits of those connections and he'll apply it in ways other than what we were referring to.

We can reach his heart and it's that that helps me get through each day.

So for those of you with the fight still in you, RDI can help. For others, just understanding the principles of RDI can help. I haven't 'given up', I'm just taking it slow and easy. I'm still learning to 'let go' of those parts of autism that I have no control over right now. It's not that they won't change, but that it's going to take longer. I'm done with examining everything I do to see if it's handled right or wrong. I want to just be. Be happy with each day and teach my sons to be happy each day.

Thank you for all the encouragement, thank you for your blogs, thank you for sharing your trials and triumphs. I hope that as I continue to share our lives through our blog, it will help others and give a realistic view of life with autism.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Brrrrrrrr!!!!!

Yep, it's cold. Cold everywhere. This morning was 20F here with a windchill of about 2F. My greenhouse door, although 38F inside, still had an icy layer on it. It's supposed to be even colder tonight. Yikes!

All last week was cloudy, dreary and rainy. You know it's bad when your autistic son (Pooh) asks, "Mommy, are we ever going to see the sun again?" LOL The next day he says to me, "Boy, it sure has been raining this week!" I agreed wholeheartedly. ;D

This past Thursday I planted some seeds in the greenhouse. I knew that Friday was supposed to be almost 70F and decided to get the seeds in so they'd have a blast of nice warm, germinating weather. Yesterday, I saw some lettuce seeds sprouting. So, I thought I'd better make sure they didn't freeze. That meant turning on the heater we had installed in the there. We have an old baseboard heater that I set at about 42F to keep the little things from freezing. Thanks to our getting the roof fully sealed this weekend, it worked.

The King started working on some shelving that I needed. We were given what I think is old baking rack set on wheels. However, it has no shelving. So we bought some cedar wood to make sliding shelves for the racks. This is where I can put trays of seeds. Vertical is always good for saving space. I also used two window boxes for my seed planting and they are on the shelf too.

Our whole house has baseboard heat. It was in the low 70's in the house last night so I decided to turn down the heat in the basement (we only use the basement heat most of the time because heat rises and keeps the rest of the house warm). My goal was for the house to be 68F. A little chilly, but not unbearable when you wake up. (FYI-I'm trying to see where we can cut back on expenses little by little.) Well, this morning I knew when I woke up it had to be colder than 68F in the house. Sure enough, the upstairs was at 64F and the basement at 63F.

Needless to say, the heat got turned up this morning.

This week we're only doing school today and tomorrow. Wednesday and Thursday are The King's days off and Friday is just going to be a free day for a change.

Hope everyone stays safe and warm and if I'm not here before, have a great week!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Way to Cure Hiccups (or Not)

As we're eating dinner, I all of a sudden got very terrible, deep hiccups. It was right after taking a sip of The Latin King's wine.

Next thing I knew, he had slammed both his fists down on the table. The glass went flying! Wine spilled on the floor, on his clothes and splattered the pantry doors.

He did it to surprise me into losing the hiccups.


It worked!!!!! ;P

A Day in the Life....

Today was Art for Pooh. I usually run errands or do other 'out from home' type stuff on Art days so that my trip of 45 minutes each way is useful in more ways than one. We started off today with getting up and going with our Morning Routines and Chores.

Last night I had done some prep work for today. While my pasta water was heating up for dinner I cut up veggies for our Armenian Lentil Soup and added all the ingredients to a crockpot. That got stored in the fridge overnight so all I had to do for dinner today was remember to put the crock in the base this morning. That was done! I also did our bills last night and prepared a deposit for the bank.

On our way to Art, I remembered to call about a lost book (I know I was driving and talking, bad mommy!!!) I also hit the bank on the way there. While Pooh was in Art, Tigger and I headed to the health food store to stock up on our dairy-free products and a few other items. I got sushi for lunch for me and picked up Wendy's lunch for them. Then we headed to Lowes Foods for the specials I had also prepared for ahead of time. Lowes Foods has a new layout on their website. You can sign up to have specials emailed to you each week and you can add stuff to your shopping list. I shop there for loss-leaders mainly. So I had that printed out last night to help me on my search today.

Once that was done, we headed home for the unloading and putting away. The boys always have the job of bringing in the groceries. (That's great proprioceptive work for any SID kids out there.) I got the stuff put away, gave us all a 30 minute break then decided that before we started our regular school work for the day, I would pull out the Walk Away the Pounds DVD that I have. I've had it for months and it was still unopened. One of the workouts is only 18 minutes (1 mile) so I did that, got a glass of water and started school. (That workout helped me wake up as I was feeling very sleepy.) School is done, listened to Mozart for 10 minutes, then the boys started their Alvin and the Chipmunks movie they borrowed from the library. I call the library to set up a homeschool function, start bread from scratch and rice to go with the soup. (The King, being Latino, enjoys rice with everything!)

Now I've been checking email, blogs and blogging for all of you! I also did an extended swish-n-swipe of the bathroom. I'm off to eat dinner and do some more cleaning. Then it's time for TV and laundry! (TV is such a time waster that I like to have an excuse for watching TV sometimes and doing laundry at the same time makes me feel better. LOL)

Have a great night everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Term 2......Finally!

Well, due to my being in a 'funk' for a few weeks (which is over for now, thankfully), we were behind schedule as far as our AO Year 1 goes. Pooh had also gotten cranky, probably as a reaction to my crankiness and school was a bit of a struggle. We've been successful lately in getting going with minimal complaints and have officially finished week 13. So, due to this delay, I'm not sure we'll finish Term 2 by the end of February but I'm sure going to try.

During our 'funk', narrations had gotten to be a chore. Pooh wasn't concentrating on the readings and therefore wasn't able to do even a simple narration. I was frustrated and showed it which made him even worse. That has changed as well. The only person freaking out right now is Tigger. He's been having a little trouble with Math. We need to work on counting to one hundred and continuing counting by fives. We use Math U See and he's on lesson 23 now.

I'm anxiously awaiting tax season. I even have my appointment set for the first Friday in February. ;D We usually get a nice chuck of change that enables us to survive the rest of the year. I know they say you shouldn't let the government have that much extra money. You're supposed to change the dependents so that you get more money each month. Whatever. I prefer to use it like a little savings account that I can't touch. Maybe like a CD. I just don't earn interest on it. (which would be negligible anyway.

We have several purchases to make:
1. We'd like to buy a tent for family camping. It's the only way we'll ever be able to go on vacation again. We just can't afford the hotels. We'll also need to get a new cooler a few other odds and ends. Oh, yeah, and sleeping bags. LOL Can't forget those.
2. A bike for Tigger. Last spring was Pooh's new bike due to his finally learning to ride without training wheels. Well, Tigger learned to ride without the training wheels not too long after Pooh. So, now it's his turn for a bike. I'll be scouting Goodwill as well as the sales.
3. Gravel for our garden paths. I've decided to switch to gravel because it doesn't have to be replenished as often as mulch. This will involve a few other purchases as well, like landscape fabric.
4. Some school supplies. We'll need to buy the next levels for math, Sequential Spelling, HWT workbooks for both and a Caps and Punctuation book for Pooh. He needs a little reinforcement besides his regular copywork. I also need a little help with the instruction 'rules'. Explode the Code for Pooh. He'll be going into books 4 and 5. I'm also scouting for any books that I'm missing for AO Year 2.

That's it for now. Hopefully, nothing major will pop up to mess up our plans. (You know, like the King being Laid Off!) I'll be putting some of our Refund into savings as well. Just. In. Case.

Lately I've been trying to weatherproof my Greenhouse. We built a little 10 x 10 one off the side off what used to be our garage (now a big basement family room). I can't really grow anything in there during the winter right now because it needs to be insulated. I've insulated around the door but now the door won't shut like it's supposed to, so that's got to be fixed. Keep in mind that this thing was built out of scrapes. The door is an old storm door I found for $10 at the Habitat for Humanity's Restore. We used old windows for the sides, leftover vinyl siding from someone's house project around the bottom and those poly sheets for the roof and front section. I'll have to take pics and post them so you can get a better idea. Anyway, too much air is getting in there. There's some stuff the King will be doing to the roof to seal up there and I've used Great Stuff around some cracks and seams. We also have to clean it out again. The one bad thing about it being so close to the house is that sometimes it becomes a catch all for storing things quickly. Then they never seem to want to leave.

I'm trying to check for drafts in the house to, to winterize it a little better. There's air coming in around our basement door that needs to be taken care of. I'm putting those foam thingies behind the light switch and outlet panels to keep drafts from coming in that way.

Hopefully, all this work will pay off to save us some money in the long run, the garden stuff included. The King was freaking out a bit about spending money on the garden again so I had to remind him of what we did save this last year.

1. No fear from eating our tomatoes. (Remember the scare from this summer?!?)
2. Plenty of peppers instead of paying $1.50 for one green one. (what's that all about!!!!)
3. We have tomatoes canned and in the freezer.
4. Eggplant--eaten and some in the freezer.
5. Grapes--eaten, made jelly and grape liqueur (i haven't tasted the liqueur yet so hopefully it's drinkable.)
6. Asparagus. I never buy it. Just eat what grows.
7. Buckets of strawberries. For all that we grew and ate it would have cost us a lot more than the $10 i paid for the plants--of which i don't have to buy this year--they'll still produce)
8. Zucchini, squash, beans, herbs, etc, etc.

You get the idea. I had to give him an idea of what we've saved because, frankly, he has no idea of what things cost. All he sees is what it costs in time and money in the garden and doesn't know the long-term savings. It worked. I calmed down his anxieties. ;D

That's what's been going on here. Hopefully, my funk is gone for a while and you guys will here a bit more from me over the next couple of months.

Although, I make no promises. :D

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Great Compromise

Last night I pulled out a little wooden ship kit that I had found for a dollar at Ben Franklin's. The purpose was for the boys to put it together with Dad's help. So last night they did the gluing and know that today Dad will help them finish it. This morning there was a 'discussion' going on in their room about where the ship would be put--on Tigger's shelf or on Pooh's shelf. Here is roughly how their conversation went....

Tigger: Hey Pooh, we have to decide where we're going to put the ship. You always get the ships.

Pooh: No, you have 5 and I only have 4. We should both have 5.

Tigger: Look, you have all those ships. I want it on my shelf. How about the first day you put it on your shelf, the next I put it on my shelf and the next day you get it back.

Pooh: Oh no, that's not a good idea. We'll have to think of another idea. How about we flip for it. I'll get my Lincoln penny. pause pause I can't find my money jar!

Tigger: Poooohhhhh, it's right here. You left it over here.

Pooh: Oh. Ok, I'm heads.

Tigger: I'll be tails.

Pooh: It's heads!

Tigger: Oooooohhhh, you always get all the ships.

Pooh: That's ok, you can get on my bed and look at it. And you can get it down to play with it.

Tigger: Ok.



Momma is so proud. Of myself too. I managed not to butt in when the really neat idea of alternating days came up. I was afraid this was going to turn into one of their all out battles. They managed beautifully to come up with a system on their own where they are both happy. Whether I think it's fair or not doesn't come into the picture. They think it's fair and that's ok by me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Making Beds


Tigger's New Bed



The King has been home this week busy with making a loft bed for Tigger. The boys share a room and we decided loft beds would be a great way for us to use the space. They can have their own private areas underneath with their books and all the other paraphanalia that kids seem to collect.

A couple of years ago he finished the one for Pooh. We painted Pooh's a navy blue in keeping with their ocean/boat room. Pooh loves it and usually refers to it as his 'ship'.

Tigger wanted us to paint his black and white like a lighthouse. LOL I told him "no way", that would be too cycadelic for me. ;D However, we have agreed to have a red and white striped area just below the railing area.

Making these beds takes The King a lot of time. He finds raw, free wood that a company near here just tosses. It's some type of pallet wood. He then cuts it and puts it together. After that, he takes it apart, shaves it smooth, sands it even smoother, puts on two coats of primer, then finally, two coats of paint.

What we do for our kids!!!


Pooh's Bed




Their new computer desk that sits between their beds. The King made this one too.


Beneath each bed is a short bookcase and one of those convertible chairs. They convert into mini beds. Tigger also has a little dresser under his bed. They each have a shelf above their beds for their boats and whatnot. They are small shelves and we plan on adding more for their little collections. Tigger's bed still doesn't have a real mattress. That will be coming soon. Right now there are these thick pads someone had made for them to sleep/camp on the floor on his bed. He manages to be quite comfy with those.

I really wanted them to learn to share a room. I think that it can teach so many life skills like getting along, compromise and respect. For the most part they do great. Every once in a while someone will complain about a light being on or someone won't stop quoting movies (wonder who that could be lol) or whatever. I love to hear how Pooh will read to his little brother sometimes or how they work things out. All in all, I believe it's working and hope that it continues to do so. We'll take it year by year.


They are both responsible for the appearance of the room and they tidy up daily or it would be a disaster area. Sometimes I have to do a major clear out. That's where I dig up all the little things that crowd in corners and books that are put in the wrong way and I lay them all in the middle of the floor. Then we put things away the 'right' way. I recently had to cull Tigger's drawers because he just couldn't fit all the clothes he had in there and they were a mess. I wash, dry and fold. They put away. It's on their list of morning chores each day to check their baskets. I don't have too many complaints about messes unless I don't check it for several days. Then it's every man for himself in there! ;D

(Note: This post has been sitting as a draft since October. I finally got a few pictures taken to share!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Van Gogh Sunflowers





This term we are studying Van Gogh. Why did we choose him you may ask? Well, last year Walmart had a bunch of prints for $1 each. They are a print about the size of a 5 x 7, but look more like an 8 x 10 with the border, that are on a piece of cardboard. I've left them in their sealed plastic for protection and ease of use. I think I have about 7 different Van Gogh pieces and a few from several other artists. I'll work my way through the artists whose works I have before moving onto others.

Sunflowers is the first print we studied. I had them study it one week by looking at it and telling me what they saw. Colors, what kind of flower, etc. All during that week it was hanging on the front of the fridge. Then the following week, we did our own Sunflowers using watercolor crayons. I really enjoyed the way these turned out. You use the crayons to draw and color first, then take the wet paintbrush and go over it afterward. It wasn't runny but blended nicely. In order from left to right the artist are Pooh, Tigger and MasterpieceMom. I think we did pretty good for a first go around. Pooh very nicely arranged his flowers, Tigger added a dramatic splash of color (very Van Goghy) and Mom did surprisingly well with the flowers on the right side of the pot. (I wasn't happy with the left side. LOL)

Van Gogh painted something like 16 different portraits of sunflowers. I have no idea which one this is.

Since then we've also done chalk pastels of Van Gogh's Roses but I don't know that they'll show up very well as the colors are so light and I've covered them in saran wrap to avoid having chalk dust everywhere. I wasn't so thrilled with that idea. LOL If I manage to get some decent photos, I'll post them separately.

Autumn Tree Focus #1


(This is Tigger's rendition of the neighbor's apple tree.)

Today I finally got around to starting our tree focus for this year. I had to really think about how I was going to do it. Tigger is all about nature. He loves it and revels in it. Pooh, however, hasn't shown much interest in the nature world. There are things he notices and enjoys (such as the neighbor's chickens. LOL) but when I've tried to interest him in trees in the past, I tend to just get a "Yeah" with whatever I'm declaratively pointing out. I looked over Barb's posts and several other nature bloggers and decided that I was going to use a series of questions to draw them out. (These can still be considered RDI-ish due to the fact that they are viewpoint questions. No wrong answers.) Here is what we started with for today:


Q: What do you know about trees?


Tigger: They're different. They have pine cones and needles. They have branches and the bark breaks easily when you hit it.


Pooh: There are different kinds like apple trees, acorn trees, pine trees and other trees.


Mom: I know that some are tall and some are short. (This then caused them to add as follows:) Tigger: some are smooth and some are rough. Pooh: some are fat and some are thin. (I had to help with some of the opposite words.)


Q: What's your favorite tree?


Pooh: The apple tree because it has fresh apples.

Tigger: The apple tree because you can throw the apples and they break apart.

Mom: The oak tree because I like the acorns and it's one of the best climbing trees. (This sparked a discussion on how they would love to climb an oak tree. Pooh also realized that Oak was the proper name not 'acorn tree'. Although I love the name Acorn Tree myself. ;D)


Q: What's so great about trees?


Pooh: They're cool because they get high.

Tigger: When you cut trees they grow again.



(From Pooh's sketchbook.)

After this discussion we talked about how pine trees are what we have in our yard. We picked off some of the needles and counted how many are 'stuck' together. We did a bark rubbing. We examined a pine cone and tried finding the seeds by smashing it with a hammer. (didn't work by the way LOL) We then used our tree book to figure out what kind of pine trees we have. We think they are Loblolly Pines. The boys then informed me that the neighbor has an apple tree. "Really? Well, you can do a bark rubbing of the apple tree and bring me an apple." So off they went! They came back with the apple which I cut in half sideways to show the way the seeds grow in a star shape. We each then tasted a part of it, avoiding the wormy part. Ewww!


This method seemed to work well for Pooh especially. He enjoyed it and was enthusiastic about it. Even going so far as to climb a bit of one of our pines to get some needles to examine. He also liked trying to figure out which kind of pine it was. He was the one who did the rubbing of the apple tree bark, which meant that he took his sketchbook with him all the way over there.


(Pooh's Apple Bark rubbing.)

Tomorrow, after art, we'll probably head to the park again and do some tree study there as well. Since we are a bit limited as to what's in our yard, I want to expand our studies to other areas. Tigger already enjoys collecting the seeds of trees so we'll probably start categorizing them soon. He's been itching to use my hot glue gun so tree seed study will be a good excuse to get it out. ;D

Fight Nature Deficit Disorder October 11-13th!!!

Make Tracks!™ Family Trail Weekend!

The National Wildlife Foundation is hosting the first ever 'Make Tracks' A family Trail Weekend. The purpose is to get you and your kids outside rediscovering nature. I think these initiatives are great. I love the Great Backyard Birdcount in February. I would like to start collecting these different nature programs for everyone to keep track of. If you know of other ones (no matter what time of year), please let me know and I'll compile a post and hopefully get them on my side bar too.

We should be able to participate in Make Tracks. Actually for the next two weekends we will be at state parks barring bad weather. We will be heading to Pilot Mountain State Park this weekend for a homeschool hike. Our homeschool group has an Athletic group where the kids sign up to participate in different activities (hikes, bike rides, field day, etc) and they will receive a badge for each thing they accomplish. Cool, huh!?! The following Saturday, we have a family day and I believe we will be heading to Stone Mountain State Park. It should be beautiful because the colors have started to change.

My next job is to get our Tree Study underway. I think we'll be starting it today and expanding on it tomorrow after Pooh's Art class.

I better hop to it! ;D

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bad Mommy!

All because I won't let Pooh 'chase' the chickens. It seems that the neighbor said it was okay, but when I vetoed that idea all 'feathers' broke loose.

Pooh is currently tying his model boats into a red bandanna and attaching them to his walking stick. I asked him if he needed any help in tying it on but he told me to 'leave him alone'.

He's leaving home. Anybody want to write him a goodbye note? :D

P.S. Anybody that in the southeast, watch the skies around 8pm to see the International Space Station. It's only going to last about 5 minutes. Those of you in other parts, sorry I don't know your schedule or if you'll be able to see it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fungi & Other Misc. Nature



On our nature walk yesterday, we saw dozens of fungi. Recent rains have caused an explosion of them all over the place. Here is an example of one we saw called a Gymnopus dryophilus. Fancy, you say! Well, yes, but I only know because this website told me. ;P




I love how mushrooms come in so many colors. There are wonderful bits of color in their shady world! Here are a couple more pictures of ones we saw:














This last picture is how you can take a mushroom and create a 'spore print'. You cut the stem off and lay the top, gill side down, on a piece of paper. Cover it with a jar or bowl and let sit for 24 hours. Ours is sitting under a bowl on the kitchen table right now. I'll let you know how it turns out.

We also collected some more tree seeds for Tigger. Has anyone done or seen a neat way of organizing tree seeds? I don't want to put them in their nature notebooks because some we have collected are quite large and fat. I'd like them to be on cards and labeled. Maybe just put them in a shoebox? Let me know if you've discovered any cool ways that aren't too complicated. *I* peter out when things get complicated.

Another cool thing we discovered yesterday was a snake skin. Tigger saw it under a little wooden bridge. (Yes, that meant he was hanging over the side upside down. LOL) He asked what 'that skin' was. I thought he meant the liner of the stream. He insisted I get down and hang over the bridge myself. So, like the good mother I am, I did it. I was just glad there was no one else around to see my rear in the air. When I saw what he was talking about, we fished it out with a stick. It had been caught on a rock in the water. We talked about how the snake grows and sheds it's old skin because he has a new one. I have no idea what kind of snake it was, maybe one day I'll figure it out.

After we did our exploring, we took snacks, drinks, blankets and our nature bag (filled with our sketchbooks, color pencils and HNS) and hit a nice resting spot. I read from the HNS about fungi and we all did a little sketch of the mushrooms we saw. Pooh did two of the brown mushrooms with all three of us in the picture. Tigger did an amazing job (the best he's done of a nature study) with his orangy-yellow mushrooms. Oh and that was his new color discovery of the day-orangy-yellow. ;D I did my sad job of the different colors I saw and then I did an adequate job of copying the diagram with labeling from HNS.

Oh and I almost forgot. The kids had passed me by, but I made an interesting little find. Chipmunks must have some type of mating call in the fall. I heard this repetitive noise in the brush. I thought it was a new bird I hadn't seen or maybe a strange sounding frog. (shows how much I know. LOL) But, no, it was a little chipmunk sitting on a dead tree trunk, using it's whole little body to make a fast, repetitive, throaty call. I can only assume he was calling his lady friend. Another thing to investigate. :)

It was a lovely afternoon. Perfect temps, nature and my kids. What more could you ask for?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Onward, HO!

Life has been going along at quite a brisk pace lately. I was gone from the house for three days in a row which tends to be me on the couch in a zombie-like state. I'm okay when out of the house but by the time I'm home, I have serious function issues. ;D So finally, today I feel a little more normal.

Thursday was me and two other moms listening to drama auditions and deciding on who gets what parts in the three different plays we're putting on this year. They will all be performed at our End Of The Year meeting-otherwise known as the EOYM. lol There are 3 so that we can separate all the kids according to age. These are the plays we'll be performing. Peggy the Pint-Sized Pirate ---Tigger will be performing as Captain Soggy. And I believe that Pooh will fill in for a missing role as Grunt. The second play is From the Elephant Pit --Pooh will be performing as the Snake. Then the final play for all the older than 13 kids is Ever After. The boys are excited every year at what we do in our drama club. Pooh especially, loves being on stage. Usually by the end of the year, he has everyone's lines memorized. LOL The upside of autism. ;P

I also had a meeting with my Field Trip Committee where we discussed how we're going to use the money we raised with our fundraiser. What a privilege to be able to provide the kid's entrance fees to between 4-5 field trips! We're planning more fundraising events too!

Friday we were able to visit Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC. This is definitely worth a drive. They had special homeschooling days this month where the entrance was only $8 each--quite a bargain compared to their regular prices. There will be another homeschooling event in February of 2009 for anyone in driving distance. The boys love to dress up in all types of period clothing which is what they got to do in the Children's Museum. Pooh was very impressed to find out that George Washington spent two nights at the Salem Tavern. :) We were at Old Salem all day and still didn't see everything, so there is plenty to do next time we want to go.

Saturday, my Latin King, wanted to go to a Spanish festival in the area, so we did that as well. It was soooo hot, though, that we didn't stay for too long. We did get to see some dancing in the style of the Aztecs and another style from a region of Mexico that produced the Mexican Hat Dance.

Saturday night we camped out in our front yard. The King and I slept on long long chairs by a little fire pit we have while the boys slept in their 'clubhouse'. It was fine except for the neighbor's rooster waking us up at 5am in the morning.

So by Sunday afternoon, I crashed while the King took the boys fishing. Even yesterday, I was exhausted although I did manage quite a new feat for me. I spent the afternoon pureeing fresh pumpkin from the garden and making two pumpkin pies. Oh My! they are good!!! This is the recipe I used. Instead of soy milk, I used a can of coconut milk. Pumpkin pie is very hard not to eat. It just sits there, tasty and yet not too sweet, waiting for you to eat it. Mmmmmmmmm.

Excuse me, there's something in the kitchen that needs taken care of. ;D

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Narration at Our House

In honor of the next CM Blog Carnival, I'm putting together this post.
First I'll copy and paste a couple of things from some of my former posts
regarding Pooh's narrations. Then, I'll provide more info at the
bottom.

For those new to this blog, please keep in mind that Pooh has autism and some of what we do won't be 'strict' CM.



"I'm learning that the key with Pooh is to make sure and do shorter readings. Even the OIS chapter is too long right now for him to listen and narrate. So I take it in paragraphs. Same thing with 50 Famous Stories. I believe that Narration has to be our focus for Year 1. He's going to need to practice and we'll try to use different types of narration in the process. Oral, drawings and even figurines to act it out."



"I'm adjusting expectations that I had as regards some of our readings and narration. I've learned that Pooh needs me to stop every couple of paragraphs for a narration so that he can stay focused. If I try to do a whole chapter or too large of a section, his mind wanders to other things and then we both get frustrated that 'he's not listening'. I also see where sometimes the language used in the reading confuses him or just causes a general misunderstanding of the storyline. It takes us discussing it together to make sure he can follow along. For instance, from Our Island Story, we read A Laconic Answer. He was able to narrate the end of the story in regards to the one guy (can't remember his name LOL) wanting to make war with the Lacons (or Spartans) but didn't get all the part where it explains what the Lacons were known for and why the end had 'a laconic answer'. Which to me is the whole point of reading this story. So we had to discuss it. Basically, I have to narrate. I have found myself asking questions about the readings, which I'm trying to limit or eliminate. I even found myself interrupting to correct something. Horrors!!!! I stopped myself and said, "whoops I'm interrupting" and put my hand over my mouth. Pooh thought this was funny and smiled as he finished his narration."



As you can see from the above clips, the history narration of AO requires extra work on our part. I think we did well choosing Year 1. It's just about right for him. He loves the history stories, even though he doesn't necessarily follow them as well as he could. These are some common mistakes he makes:


  1. Forgetting names. He doesn't seem able to remember them. He will even ask the same person's name several times throughout his narration. I frequently hear "What was the leader of the Romans name again?" I'm need to work on writing out the names for him ahead of time so that he can get into the habit of looking at them for reference during narration.

  2. Leaping ahead. Pooh really loves the stories. He is always excited to listen to them. I think he has a great imagination in that he is really thinking about the stories, but in the sense of how he would like them to end. Yesterday we read about How Caligula conquered Britain from OIS. At the point where Caligula rows out into the English Channel and then comes back to make his speech, I stopped for narration. Pooh's narration had him on a ship back to Italy. Then at the end of the story, he told me he preferred the story of Julius Caesar because he took ships instead of walking all the way. LOL Have I mentioned before how much Pooh loves ships!?!

  3. Getting mixed up. He can tend to get mixed up as to who is doing what. He knows what events are taking place but will sometimes not know which side is doing a particular thing. Today, from 50 Famous Stories, we read about Horatius at the Bridge. I stopped for narration after Horatius sent his friends across the bridge and the bridge fell. Pooh narrated that all the Etruscans crossed the bridge and died. That's the combination of his getting a little mixed up and leaping ahead in his mind to imagine what is going to happen.


Sometimes these mistakes he makes cause me to have to correct something so as not to have a complete misunderstanding of what's going on. I will also ask questions, though I do try to make declarative statements instead. How he answers the questions will many times reassure me that he's getting it, that he understood the main point of the event/motive, etc. One thing in particular I do is listen to his narration and just wait. (the RDI 45 second rule) This allows him to continue thinking about the reading and often he'll tell me more details, things I was waiting to see if he got. This would be especially helpful for any students with processing issues.

Despite these errors, I believe that overall he does pretty well. Many times he is spot on with his narrations and will even connect it with other things he's learning. Yesterday we started Aesop's fable of The Shepard Boy and the Wolf. I made the comment "I wonder what this story is going to be about." He replied, "Maybe it's like The Boy Who Cried Wolf." And he also did really well with noticing that the whole problem was that the boy was a liar. He also connected with some of our bible reading by saying that it was showing compassion--something he had seen defined on TV.

Some other info is that we do narrate from each of the reading selections and as mentioned before that may mean after each paragraph or several paragraphs depending on what I'm seeing. We did Shakespeare for the first time this week and it was a little rough. I let him draw a picture but even from that I could tell he just hadn't gotten the whole story line. Today we actually went over the book I am using for Tigger that has more pictures in it and I think that may have helped. So I will be looking into some other books recommended by some to help younger kids understand Shakespeare. Drawing has been a good way for him to narrate in the past and I will continue to use it on occasion. You can see examples of his narration of Wind in the Willows in February '08 posts.

All in all I have been extremely impressed with the value of AO's book selections and narration. I see connections being made, I see wonderment in learning and I KNOW that this method is much less stressful that other things we have used in the past. Children who struggle due to whatever kind of disability will benefit from CM's gentle learning style--narration being a major part of that.

Another tip for those working with more than one child. My boys were fighting over narrations--who went first, "he took my answer", etc. This was happening even though, Tigger, age 5, is not expected to narrate. He just wants to be part of everything and is constantly listening in. What I've worked out, that has helped tremendously, is for them to have their 'own' books. Pooh narrates as usual from his Year 1 books. Now Tigger has his own schedule of books that I read to him. These books come from the Year 0 list provided by AO. Neither one is allowed to narrate on the others books. It's worked like a charm. Now they can even take turns without fighting when we have our bible reading. They've automatically starting taking turns on who goes first without me even prompting for it. LOL I think each of them having their own thing that belongs to them, takes away the competition and allows the other stuff we do all together to run more smoothly.

As I'm typing this, my boys are in their bedroom and Pooh is regaling Tigger with narrations of the OIS stories about Julius Caesar and 'the other Romans' and their different approaches to invading Britain. How cool is that?!? History bedtime stories from one brother to the other. Pooh is even making up his own dialogue of what the soldiers were saying to each other and to Julius. Homeschooling is amazing!

I wonder if they know I'm typing about them. ;D



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Deer?!?

Yesterday's adventure started with Pooh saying "I see a deer!". I thought he was quoting some movie line I couldn't remember so I ignored him. LOL Then I heard "Mommy, come here, it's at the neighbor's." Sure enough, looking out our kitchen door we see a buck waltzing into our neighbor's backyard about 50 feet from the house. Then, I saw another one, a doe.

We decided to go out to watch them when Pooh said, "let's give them an apple." Gramma and Granpa have taught them to feed apples to deer in a certain place in the mountains. So I tried tossing a piece of apple at them and of course, scared them away.

Thus we ended up tromping through our neighbor's wooded backyard looking for these deer. We found old junk tossed aside, a ravine, a bullet casing, rabbit poop and saw and heard the neighbors behind our neighbor, but never saw the deer again. We decided to leave the pieces of apple for them just in case. ;D

I'm a little amazed at seeing these full grown deer in our neighborhood. I can't imagine what they were after here. In fact, they should be down on their uh, knees? thanking God the neighbor didn't eat them. I know he hunts and even has a place in the woods for target practice.

Flee dear deer! Flee!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Format Update

I almost had it the way i wanted it, and the whole thing blew away. Now I can't even get it back to the orginal way I had it. I no longer have the option to upload my saved template either. (hair is littered around my chair from all the pulling!)

Sorry this may be a pain to come and view it 5 thousand ways before i settle.
:O

Pardon Me

I'm trying to figure out how to customize my blog a bit, so I'll be messing around with some different looks.

Pardon any inconvenience while I sort through it all.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Grasshoppers

This week we decided to find crickets, but ended up with two grasshoppers. That would be because mom knows nothing about the differences in the two and if I HAD known, I would have known that I wouldn't have been finding crickets so easily in the middle of the day. LOL



This "cricket" we found is actually the Red-Legged Grasshopper found in the Handbook of Nature Study. Another new thing we learned was that grasshoppers lay their eggs in the ground.

We also found a spring green colored little grasshopper with no other markings. I'm thinking maybe it was a young one that just hadn't gotten it's full colors yet, because I can't find a picture online to identify it.

We'll see what Nature brings us this week!

Tigger's CM Kindergarten

Tigger is 5 1/2 years old and this is his Kindergarten year. I'm keeping in mind the Year 0 as presented at Ambleside Online, but with a bit more structure. The reasons are these:
1. He wants to be doing schoolwork and has asked since he was three.
2. It fits in with what Pooh is doing during the day.
3. I need the structure to ensure I'm providing him what he needs.
4. Nothing he is doing is strenuous and we are following the CM method of short lessons.
5. He was trying to take over during Pooh's readings, so I figured I better ensure he has his own.

I set Tigger up with his own school bin and binder system with weekly planner. It's set up just like Pooh's schedule to mark things off as we finish them. In it he has his own little things he likes to do on his own. He has gone thru one of those animal sticker books where you put the stickers on and read a little about each one. He just finished his 1-25 Dot to Dot book (and is anxiously awaiting another one.) Each day he will do one page of Math-U-See Primer (if he's having trouble focusing, we just close it up and finish that page the next day.) As soon as I get it ordered, he will have the beginning HWT printing book and possibly the Get Set for the Code series.

For Phonics we've been doing a letter a day. I have some letter cards from LetterLand that we go over. They're really cute. They use mnemonics such as Red Robot the theif for R that are supposed to help. (They then go on to include stories about the letter characters like Arthur 'Ar' the apple stealer who works for Red Robot.) I didn't buy the whole kit though, just the cards. Then I have two ABC type books that you find pictures on the page starting with the letter. One is an ABC I Spy book that i used with Pooh. Then he has a coloring book that is a letter per page and you find anywhere from 11-28 items on the page starting with that letter. We just finished Letter Q, so that gives you idea of how far we've come.

We are using several books to rotate reading from each day. They are:

Winnie the Pooh
Shakespeare (a kids book i picked up at B&N.)
Mother Goose
The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel from Thorton Burgess

I borrowed Jump-the stories of Brer Rabbit from the library. I also have two of the Among the ________ People books that we'll go through.

Other than that, he joins in for bible time, composer, artist, nature study, etc. He kept asking me this week to have a painting session to do Van Gogh's Roses because we weren't able to get to it on Tuesday. LOL This Tuesday that's what we'll be doing for sure!!

So that's it! It's a pretty lite schedule for him but satisfies his need to be doing things. Hope this info helps some others looking for a CM Year K.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pooh's Year 1

I've got to get down to business sharing what we're doing everyday. Admittedly, life has been crazy around here lately, but at the very least I would like to share our schedule so that it can hopefully help others. I know I am always looking at other's schedules for ideas. So, here is what we're doing with Pooh this year.

This schedule is in my school binder. (Not quite how i view it but this is the way I can copy and paste it. It fits on one page so I have 36 pages for the 36 weeks.) I check things off as we go along. We are currently on Week 6 of AO Year 1. I don't really worry about what day of the week we start a new week. I just move along as the schedule allows.

Week 1



Daily Text:     


Bible Reading:     

Phonics: - Explode the Code   
-Letterland


Math: -Math U See    
-Game

Poetry: - A Child Garden of Verses (poem each day)
-Treasury (poem each day)

An Island Story: ch 1 The Stories of Albion and Brutus

Aesop: - The Wolf and the Kid (pg. 7)
-Tortoise and the Ducks (pg. 8)

Parables From Nature: A Lesson of Faith

Just So Stories: Whale

Baldwin's 50 Famous Tales: The Sword of Damocles (Greek)

Paddle to the Sea: ch. 1

Once A Week:
 Mapping
 Nature Study
 Craft
 Composer
 Artist
 Spanish

Copywork

 Poem
 Aesop’s Moral
 Story Quote
 Bible Verse


Notes: ______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

Trips:
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________


Year 1 has 36 weeks. I plan on finishing Term 1 by the end of October, Term 2 by the end of February and Term 3 by the end of May. That gives me wiggle room for vacations, field trip days, etc.

Each of the boys has their own school bin that has their everyday things in it---Math book, dot-to-dot books (their choice), E.T.C. for Pooh and other little things like these. They also have their own binders. The binders have a pencil holder in the front followed by a weekly plan page (I'll try to put that page in here as well.) Then there is a section for Narrations (this will be for the days I want him to do a picture narration.) and a section for Copywork. This is part of another "Habit" I'm working on with the boys. After their morning routines and morning chores, they should go to their binders, look what is for that day in their planner and start on the things they can do themselves. I'm hoping that by starting this habit early in their lives, it will help to give them a better sense of self-discipline and order and save me a big headache in the future.

I can't figure out how to paste my Excel page in here, but this is the idea....In a landscape view I have the title "Weekly Assignments". Under that is the place for the week date and the child's name. Under that are blocks under each weekday that allow me to write in what that child will do each day of that week. I usually plan for the following week on either Friday or Sunday evening. The boys cross out stuff as we do it and I think that's part of the appeal-they can see what they've accomplished.

We did Cornelia's Jewels yesterday from 50 Famous Stories and the boys loved it when I called them my jewels. LOL I can see how Pooh is really developing a relationship with the stories. He even remembered the basic story line of the first chapter of Parable of Nature after not having read it for weeks! (I had introduced it earlier to see how he would respond.)

We're usually done by 1pm. That's including the fact that somedays we get started late, the kids snack, have lunch and includes the 'extras' such as composer study. It takes 2-2 1/2 hours to get through the complete process. The one thing I haven't added in yet is Instrument. We have a keyboard for Pooh to practice with piano, but I feel a bit inadequate teaching something I don't know much about. I think that's why it hasn't been a priority yet. We'll get there though.

Well, that's our basic day. Today Pooh will be going to Art class and we have a few errands to run so we'll be doing our school work in the late afternoon. Yeah for flexibility!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Why Did Beethoven Go Deaf?

Wait for it.......



Tigger: "Because his hair got in the way."


That's your funny for the day! LOL My King informed me that Tigger gave him this interesting tidbit of information after discussing yesterday's composer. We listened to Beethoven Lives Upstairs. I have no idea why he thought this but it was too funny to forget. Now it's a memory I can cherish through the wonders of blogging. ;D

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Habitry

Ok, so I'm coining a new word for myself. I know that CM advocated working on one habit at a time. As of yet, I've found that a bit difficult. Therefore, 'habitry' has become something that I've been intertwining throughout our day and life. The habit of cheerfulness that we work on seems to tie in greatly with respect and kindness. So how do you differentiate?

Perhaps things work a little differently in our family due to Pooh having autism. I'm not sure. He's my oldest so it's a little hard for me to judge. However, I work on the attitude that is displayed all throughout the day. So, for our family, it means working on the habits of Cheerfulness, Respectfulness and Kindness all together.

When I ask the boys to do something, we have since toddlerhood taught them "Yes, ma'am. No, Sir". Now that doesn't mean they aren't allowed to ever say anything else. They may say "Oh, I did that already" or "But I need your help." That's okay as long as it's said in the appropriate tone of voice. What we've been having to work on for quite a while is the 'tone' that we get back. "Well, fine then!" or "Yes ma'am, moommmmyyy!" When this happens I have them 'try again' until they get the tone back to a respectful one. This may mean they do it 5 times before it's correct. We'll also do this if someone stomps off angrily or bangs the door shut. We have a 'try again' until the feet walk softly and the door shuts quietly. They must come all the way back and do it over.

It's common for some of us to get the whiny, complaining attitude as well. I used a bible example with the boys that did make an impression. Our family study last month was about the Israelites and how they reacted to things in the wilderness. I overemphasized what they were saying: "Ohhhhh! We should have stayed in Egypt!! Why did you bring us here to die? This manna is soooo boring! Waaa, Waaa Waaa!" Then I asked them who they thought sounded like this sometimes. "Uh, us?" Right on! LOL So now when the whininess starts, I may something like "I think I hear an Israelite." Usually I get a little smile in response. Even when I don't get the smile, the whining stops. Ahhhh, sweet relief. LOL

Another thing I do is when the question is coming out whiny or complaining, I smile at them. With Tigger this works really well, as he finds it funny and will smile back. That completely changes his attitude. Pooh will at times give me the evil eye in response, but will then lean against me and at least won't be as aggressive with his complaining as he was initially.

I've also been known to break out in song when I hear a rotten attitude. Suddenly singing loudly songs such as "A spoon full of sugar" and "Put on a happy face" tends to take the focus off of themselves. They're too busy trying to get me to stop singing. he he

I do believe that one of the biggest and easiest ways to help with attitude issues is to get outdoors. Being out in nature soothes the savage beast in all of us. So if you're having a bad day, week or month, start making regular times to get outdoors. It doesn't have to be formal nature study. Just take a walk. Visit a new park. Find a stream to explore. Just get outside regularly. I'm still working on this myself so don't feel like you're alone. It does work though. I've seen it happen. I was also struck by an example a friend told me about. A couple of years ago she was watching one of those shows where the family tries living in another completely different place or time period. (Remember the pioneer living one and the one where they lived in victorian england?) Anyway, the one she saw was a family living in Africa alongside another African family. They were living in the bush somewhere. I'm sketchy on the details but the point of it was that the Dad and son were just having a hard time. They were constantly arguing. The African father sort of stepped in and just took the son for a walk. When they came back, the son's attitude had changed. Sometimes we just need a change of scenery and the best kind is of nature.

All in all, it's up to us as the parents, to set the example. Keeping our tone mild and kind and showing them respect, while not a cure-all, does go a long way into helping them see a goal to work towards. They just don't know it. ;D

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Music to My Ears

Well, 'pass the salt and call me a slug', I couldn't believe what I heard come out of Pooh's mouth yesterday. We had had a bit of a lag with schoolwork due to lots of goings on and outings and yesterday we sat down to get going again. He asked (With Excitement!!) for Our Island Story!!!

The last two times we've read it, we've had a bit of a struggle because I think he was starting to tune me out. His narrations were weak. That's why it was such a surprise that of all the books for Year 1 he asked for that one.

It wasn't on the schedule for yesterday and actually he's got to wait about a week and a half before the next story from that book. (I love the anticipation factor in the AO schedule). Hopefully, the addition next week of the James Herriot stories will allay his calls for OIS. I can't wait to read Moses the Kitten. I remember watching All Creatures Great and Small on PBS with my dad when I was a kid. (My Dad is British so we watched a lot of PBS. LOL I've even got The King--my latino hubby--hooked on Masterpiece Theater now.)

I'm learning that the key with Pooh is to make sure and do shorter readings. Even the OIS chapter is too long right now for him to listen and narrate. So I take it in paragraphs. Same thing with 50 Famous Stories. I believe that Narration has to be our focus for Year 1. He's going to need to practice and we'll try to use different types of narration in the process. Oral, drawings and even figurines to act it out.

I almost feel like we're developing a rhythm with our schedule. Whaddya' know?!?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nature-Tigger Style

One nice thing about Pooh taking art on his own, is that I have one on one time with Tigger. Forty-five minutes of activity. Tigger wouldn't have it any other way.

When we first started taking Pooh to art, I would take Tigger to a used book store or maybe Target to look around. I still do that every once in a while, but lately have been taking him to a nearby Botanical Gardens park. It has a really nice walkway that's mostly in the shade. It's very windy, so Tigger never knows which route we'll take from time to time but he does recognize certain areas. There's also a foresty type section complete with forest floor full of dropped seed pods and pinecones. Tigger has started a 'collection'. Every time we go he brings home about 5-6 new little things.

On our walks I'll identify a plant here and there, have him smell a flower or herb, watch the bird antics, name the birds, see how close we can get to a bird, rabbit, squirrel or chipmunk and watch Tigger walk the stone walkways for some serious sensory input. (he needs it) None of this is planned. We just go, walk and see what's interesting that day. We even discovered a garden area with a copper music stand and who's music happened to be engraved on it???? That's right, Beethoven! Moonlight Sonata. Tigger got a stick and pretended to be a conductor.

I think for us a combination of a scheduled nature study and casual study works well. I do, sometimes, need the structure of saying "Okay, today we'll study Robins." But what cements those structured studies is the unstructered time of just enjoying what we see. That's what brings it all together.

As we're back in the van, I'm about to turn left to leave the park and I hear Tigger's little voice pipe up from the back, "Nature stuff is cool, Mommy"

Yes, Tigger, Nature stuff is very cool!

Books and Art--Pooh

Pooh is coming along in his reading. He flies throught the level 3 readers he finds. He likes the ones about whales, sharks and dolphins. (of course! anything to do with the sea remember) He likes to read his favorites over and over again and since he does those on his own, I let him do that.

After last weeks dental appt (which went great, I'll blog it!), we went to Barnes and Noble because he really wanted to get Moby Dick. Well, I just had no idea the size of this book!!! LOL For some reason it's never appealed to me to read it. I think because I've seen parts of movies that just didn't do it for me. Anyway, we found the unabridged book and Pooh flipped through it. He was upset that it didn't have any pictures in it. He got a little ticked off at me about it, so I said we'd just put the book back. "No, I want the book." Ok.

Well, as I'm walking through the store I kept thinking about it and what to do/say to him. I finally decided to just explain to him that I thought this book was too big for him, that it was a book for older kids (it was in the adult section after all). His response, "You're trying to trick me, Mommy." ROFLOL We worked it out. He very calmly accepted that perhaps he wasn't ready for Moby Dick and we ended up with Stuart Little. Whew! Dodged that bullet!!

I wanted to slowly start working him into chapter books, which is why I went looking for Stuart Little. The chapters are short and the reading is on the easier side, but still challenging for Pooh. He's not quite ready to read it all on his own, so our 'scaffolding' is to have him read one chapter each night to Dad. That way he's doing the reading and just getting help on those few words he has trouble with.

Pooh's art is coming along nicely as well. He's been going to an art class about 45 minutes from here. I drive all that way for the teacher. She is great with him. He only is there for an hour each time because the normal 2 hours is just too much for him. Mrs. K has had 2 boys herself and has many students somewhere on the spectrum. She's very flexible. For instance, with Pooh, instead of presenting to him what to do (ie fruit, vases, etc) she lets him look through her art books and choose the picture he wants to do. Each time he goes now, he known what he's working on. I don't think that showing up and being presented with something uninteresting to him would have worked long-term.

He's been working in watercolors lately. The last picture he did was of a ship, a whale and a small rowboat. It was a whaling scene. It was great and I just got it framed. Today he finished a watercolor of a grey wolf howling. Mrs K said she's had adults see it and ask "Who did this?" because it's pretty good. She told me that she hopes I'll frame the wolf too. I'm planning on it. He's got another ship picture on tap for next time. It's a good thing I love the ocean theme too. he he

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

General Update

It seems as if the blogging world has slowed down a bit now that it's summer. Some are on vacation, some have poison ivy :D, and I figured all the others are just busy. It's the same with us. We've actually still been schooling between all the other things we're doing.

We're now working on week 3 of AO's Year 1 schedule. That schedule I made up before isn't getting followed because, as usual, it was overly ambitious. So right now, we're just trying to do our work but in a casual manner. I'm adjusting expectations that I had as regards some of our readings and narration. I've learned that Pooh needs me to stop every couple of paragraphs for a narration so that he can stay focused. If I try to do a whole chapter or too large of a section, his mind wanders to other things and then we both get frustrated that 'he's not listening'. I also see where sometimes the language used in the reading confuses him or just causes a general misunderstanding of the storyline. It takes us discussing it together to make sure he can follow along. For instance, from Our Island Story, we read A Laconic Answer. He was able to narrate the end of the story in regards to the one guy (can't remember his name LOL) wanting to make war with the Lacons (or Spartans) but didn't get all the part where it explains what the Lacons were known for and why the end had 'a laconic answer'. Which to me is the whole point of reading this story. So we had to discuss it. Basically, I have to narrate. I have found myself asking questions about the readings, which I'm trying to limit or eliminate. I even found myself interrupting to correct something. Horrors!!!! I stopped myself and said, "whoops I'm interrupting" and put my hand over my mouth. Pooh thought this was funny and smiled as he finished his narration.

I've started reading Tigger his own books and that's working out better for both boys. I found The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Thornton Burgess (used book store) so that's one of 'his' books. I also read him Winnie the Pooh, Mother Goose and I have a very simple Shakespeare for kids book that I may start with him as well.

I still have some ordering to do. I need HWT copybooks for both boys. I am planning on ordering Sequential Spelling for Pooh and the next Explode the Code book. He'll be starting in #3 so I'll go ahead and order #4 when I make their school order. I'm also going to order a simple workbook for capitilization and punctuation for Pooh. I know, I know, we're not supposed to be doing grammar yet. However, he and I together just need a guide for getting those two concepts. Capitilizing holidays, days of the week, etc. That type of thing I'd like him to practice without having to hunt down some copywork that includes it. I found a workbook at Rainbow Resource that I think will be simple and we can just take our time with it.

I found Beethoven Lives Upstairs cd from a used book store and we've been listening to his music. I also have another regular cd of his music. Both boys will periodically talk about Beethoven. We even heard a doorbell at Lowes today that played Beethoven's Fifth and Tigger knew it right away.

We've been to see Wall-E with some friends. Very cute and has an environmental message. I thought it was better than the last two Pixar films (Ratatouille and Cars) but not as good as Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo.

This week is a dental week. I went today for my cleaning and checkup. I have to have a minor thing taken care of soon. Pooh goes tomorrow for a stainless steel cap put on one of his molars. Ughh! I think we're both nervous. He receives medicaid so it will all be paid for but the whole process wiggs me out. We also go to the only dentist in town that lets parents go back with the kids. (I just hate that all these docs and therapists think of the parents as a nuisance and evict them from the rooms!)

Today we did some Nature Study with the sunflowers that came up from fallen bird seed in our yard. I brought 3 of them into the kitchen in different stages. One where the flower just opened, one with the seeds starting to form and one where it was old and most of the seeds were gone. We examined them, talked about pistals, and seed formation, discussed what happened to all the missing seeds from flower number 3 and then did sketches in our nature journals of the flower and seeds and a leaf rubbing. Then we put the flower petals and a few leaves in our flower press.

We've been to a couple of pools, ice skating and parks. I spent the 3 day weekend doing a lot of gardening that included weeding (loads of it), pruning, pest squishing and organic fertilizing. I pruned back a load of Carolina Jasmine that was taking over the driveway from the fence running alongside and discovered a nest. I think I discovered it a little too late and I don't believe the parents have returned to care for the two little eggs we discovered there. Sigh. I bought an owl today to hopefully help scare the birds away from my developing grapes. I have tons of green tomatoes out there, peppers and eggplants are coming and have gotten one zucchini and a cuke so far. I've already discovered a couple of my squash plants invaded by the squash vine borers, so I split the stalk open to get the borer out, squished it and then covered the damaged stalk with soil. I'm hoping that the plants will continue to survive that way. My basil is all of a sudden growing like gang busters but I'm afraid my melons may not be coming along fast enough to get a harvest before the cold weather. We shall see.

I've discovered a new blog that I've fallen in love with. At this point in my life, I can't live exactly this way, but it's a dream to do it. I've been gorging myself with reading from there. I think that I have learned in my adulthood to do some things that I never knew about in my youth. I wasn't taught gardening, crocheting, sewing, preserving etc. None of it. I wasn't even taught to cook anything. My whole adult life has been a learning process with all of it. So to me, I'm accomplishing major stuff by doing what I am doing. I picked up a bread machine for a $1 at a yard sale, so I can make fresh bread. I still haven't gotten the whole by hand thing down but I still try here and there. I make our own pizzas for boys' night Fridays. I'm gardening and from that, learning to freeze and can food. I haven't gotten to the point of pressure cooking but maybe one day. It's a little by little process. I make our own scarves by crocheting and have been slowly crocheting a black shawl type thing. Add to all this learning stuff, that the older I get the more ADD I think I am, and you have a very interesting life. :D

I haven't been doing any official RDI lately. However, I'm still mindful each day of how I can be declarative, non-verbal and illicit more gestures from Pooh. I just don't know if we'll ever be able to keep up with life and RDI the way that we should. Sometimes I get freaked out by all that is involved in being a mom, but I try to just take one day at a time and do what I have to do for that day.

I need to get some other things accomplished this week like sending out invites for the boys' party, contacting one of those book clubs that don't realize I keep returning their automatic shipments and getting a flyer ready for our Yard Sale Fundraiser that I'm in charge of for our homeschool coop. Eeeeeek!!! One day at a time, breathe, one day at a time....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The War



I'm happy to say I'm winning!!!! I have a WAR with Japanese Beetles every year. They usually win by eating every rosebud in sight and demolishing the leaves of many of my plants including (but definately not limited to) grapes, morning glory, roses, rose of sharon and canna lilies.

This year I was proactive in starting my spray program. It's even ORGANIC!!! I have a two gallon sprayer on wheels with a battery operated sprayer that I put Neem Oil in with a little dish soap. I still see a stray beetle here and there, but the diffence is amazing. I'm using it on my eggplants too, to detract the Flea Beetles. (another extremely damaging bug!) Neem Oil is very inexpensive, but you have to just get out there and spray it. It will help save your veggies and plants.

Gardening Tip of the Summer :D

Sad News

I tried posting this over the weekend, but my post got eaten by something and I was too tired to do it all again.

The babies died. All of them. I knew the little one was going to die. It passed the day after the fall. Then the second one was almost dead the last time I saw it. The next morning they had disappeared. I'm not sure if the mom got rid of them or something came and ate them or what. The strongest of the babies was still in the nest which is why I'm thinking it must have been mom who did it. The last baby died by day 3.

I'm not sure why, but I believe the mom (or dad, you can't tell male/female titmice apart) gave up on the babies. The feedings were few and far inbetween. I watched for 20 minutes straight at one point and never saw them fed. I wonder if the fact that only one parent was doing the work was what made the difference. The last time we helped out a fallen baby, there was only one baby and 2 parents. Maybe 3 against 1 was just too much.

So nature has taken its course, sadly. One positive note is that within that time, I saw another Titmouse parent teaching it's young one to eat at the feeders, so we'll have plenty of future Titmice around.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kitchen Explosion!!!

This is to inform those of you who haven't yet learned this by experience...Turn Off Your Stove Burners!!!!!!!

I decided that to be more frugal in this now very expensive world, I would make my own granola bars. I usually buy Kashi bars for me and the kids because they are relatively healthy and an easy snack for all the grab and go occasions.

It turned out to be a not so frugal move on my part.

Oh, the bars looked beautiful when I pulled them out of the oven. However, one mustn't eat granola bars with an extra layer of GLASS! Sigh Yes, I left the burner on after heating the honey, brown sugar and peanut butter. Yes, I set my glass casserole dish on top of the stove to cool. No, it didn't cool, but in fact got very hot. Yes, the whole thing exploded and shattered all over my kitchen. No, no one got hurt in the process (THANK GOODNESS! I seriously would have had to go to the emergency room if anyone had been in the kitchen at the time.) Yes, I just wasted more money than a box of Kashi bars. Yes, the boys thought it was cool. After all, there was a "volcano" in the kitchen. What boy wouldn't find that cool?!?

Yes, I'll try it again after I've had time to recover from the trauma. And buy a new casserole dish. (There goes frugality! I'm heading to Goodwill in the hopes that one will be there.)

Bird Rescue

Those Japanese Beetles are here!!! They're attacking my grape vines and my rose bushes. So I got out my sprayer and hosed the plants down with neem oil in the hopes that it would get rid of them. We'll see.

So after being out in the hot sun today, I needed a big glass of ice water in the shade. As I'm peacefully sitting there, along with my trusty timer to let me know when the tea water will be boiling, I look to the left of our swing and see a little baby bird on the ground just wriggling away. I was horrified because he was a teeny tiny thing. Still all pink. Then I'm even more horrified to realize that there's not just one of them, but THREE!! Someone must have attacked the nest. Grrrrr!!!

About 4 years ago, we found a sole baby bird too young to fly under the trees. The King took one of those tiny plastic tool caddys that they sell for kids, drilled holes in it for drainage, hooked it to a stick with a long shoelace, filled it with pine needles and inserted the stick in the ground. We put the baby bird in that and don't you know that the parents found him and fed him until he was old enough to fly away. Too Cool!!

We still have that stick with the caddy attached, so I put all three baby birds in it. I watched for about 20 minutes but nobody came to the rescue. I thought for sure the birds were goners, maybe the parents were dead. A few hours later, I was eating a snack looking out the window and saw a bird go to our Homemade Nest. I got out my trusty telescope (can't use binoculars because of my vision) and discovered that they are Tufted Titmouse babies!!!! I love the titmice, they flit around so fast like they are ADD or something. LOL

There only seems to be one parent feeding the babies. I'm guessing somebody got eaten and the babies dumped in the process. Hopefully, they'll survive. There is one I'm especially worried about as he was the most listless. Thankfully, I was sitting there and got them when they were still in decent shape. And before the dog ate them. Ewwww! As soon as I picked them up, they opened their little beaks and started squawking for food. You can sometimes see the little heads come up from the top of our Homemade Nest because they are hungry and want something NOW. he he I don't think they're being fed fast enough.

I did what I could. Now it's up to momma (or perhaps Papa- I can't tell the males and females apart)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Goings On For This Week

First I have to tell a funny. Last night, during our family bible study, we were discussing the story of the Israelites worshipping the golden calf. Towards the end, Tigger starts talking about how a king killed some of the Israelites.

Me: You mean Pharoah?

Tigger: Yes, I mean no. Another king.

Me: (in the interest of trying to figure out which king he meant I proceed to ask) When did this happen?

Tigger: Uh, 1845?

ROFLOL. He is such a hoot, sometimes. Later that night, when they were having their before bed snack, I heard something drop but it didn't sound like breakage, so I didn't think anything of it. Next thing I know, Tigger is snuggling up to me and in a very little voice says, "Pooh broke your cup and he's very very sorry." Then I see Pooh standing there with a very sad face. All was well and I reassured them I wasn't upset.

Thankfully, it was an already cracked cup. LOL

For the rest of the week, I'll be squeezing in some school work with getting ready for this year's District Convention. I have clothes to get ready, food to organize and prepare and keep up with the regular routine as much as possible. Pooh also has an early morning dental appt on Thursday. I found a piece of one of his molars missing last week and it wigged me out. Eeewwww! I hate the dentist anyway but am trying to keep a calm demeanor for his sake.

Well, I must go finish cleaning up all the glass in my kitchen. I just about half an hour ago (in the middle of blogging) heard a crash. I had put my glass pan of freshly made granola bars on an evidently still on burner. Result: a glass explosion. It is swept but needs vacuuming. So toodaloo!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

My New Habit

As part of our new schedule, I'm trying a new habit for myself. Early Rising. Anyone who knows me will get a good chuckle over this one. I'm terrible at waking up. I don't hear alarms or the sound gets incorporated so well into my dreams that I end up punching a dresser. :O

My goal is to be getting up at 6:30. Yes, this is early for me. I usually am a 8-8:30 kind of gal, but by then the morning is half over. So The King and I have devised a little schedule of sorts for getting us both up and going in the mornings. His new summer schedule at work is to go in for 10 hours 4 days a week. That means he has to be up at 5:30 (his alarm goes off and no I never hear it). He gets ready and wakes me at 6:30 when he's ready to leave. His waking me is just enough so that when my alarm goes off (NPR), I start hearing it and the news stories wake me up. Buzzers just kill me. I hear them, bang them, then ignore them. It has to be a very loud NPR.

I actually did very well this week. I was up between 6:30 and 7:00 every morning except this one. I think the week caught up with me today and I had an allergy thing start during the night, which always throws my sleep off. So I feel fairly successfull at my new habit. I was even vacuuming before 8am the first two mornings!!!!

Our problem now is getting in bed at a decent hour so that this habit doesn't cause a lack of sleep. Life just seems to make early to bed very difficult. I'll let you know if I can figure something out with that one.

Ahoy Maties!

The boys love anything to do with pirates. They dress up all the time and find all sorts of items to change into pirate-looking costumes. They've been known to walk through Walmart and visit the post office in full gear. When they're dressed up and in a store, I'm the captain and give orders for helping load the ship. ;D I've been known to order them to 'swab the deck' ie mop the floor for all you landlubbers. Pooh's favorite author is Robert Louis Stevenson because as he says: "He loved pirates too!" LOL Earlier in the year they memorized the poem Pirate Story and they love Treasure Island and Kidnapped. They haven't yet heard the story Kidnapped but Pooh watched a version on PBS with The King last year.

This year, in honor of Tigger's potty training, he got to pick the theme for their summer party. Pirates!!!! Of course. he he So, I've already found some of the supplies at the dollar store and will be getting supplies for making a pirate cake (too expensive to buy one and they just don't look as good as some I've seen on line).

Here are a couple of pictures for your enjoyment.








Just for fun I'll give you a couple of photos from last year's summer party with the theme of Space. There was an Earth cake and Alien cupcakes.



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best Buddies







Even though they harrass each other, threaten bodily harm and a lack of brotherly feeling at times, they do love each other and these photos are proof that I can show them! ;D

Side Note

Just in case any of you caught that Tigger (who is only 5 years old) is trying to do Pooh's narrations, let me reassure you that I have never either asked him or encouraged him to participate in this stuff. He just doesn't like to be left out of anything. That's another reason I'm trying to get them a little separated, he needs to stay young as long as possible without trying to be in on older brother's EVERYTHING!

Today he was just sitting beside Pooh while Pooh was drawing. I suggested he do his own drawing. "No thanks. I just like to watch Pooh!"

Sigh

Monday, June 16, 2008

Scheduling!!!

I'm in full scheduling mode. I'd actually like to create something that is workable and not overly ambitious. (Wouldn't we all! LOL) As homeschoolers, we do tend to be overly ambitious and most of us really get into the paperwork of scheduling. Putting it into practice is where I tend to start falling apart.

This year I'm planning on adding in separate times for Tigger to receive readings. I think he needs his own time. One, because he's five and craves the attention. Two, because he is taking over Pooh's narration time. They inevitably argue over who narrates first, how long each one is taking and "he said what I was going to say!". It doesn't exactly promote brotherly affection.

So, I've been pouring over the books I have, Year 0 Ambleside Online suggestions and googling to my little hearts content over how to incorporate their schedules so that we don't have interruptions, both are getting what they need, and I still have a brain when we're done.

I'm hunting down ways to go over character/habit training too. I saw a cool idea (don't know that this will actually get done but it's a good idea!) for a Tree! You could call it a 'value tree' or 'quality tree' or whatever. The basic idea was for a classroom. You have one of those trees on posted on the wall like what public school teachers use for names or whatever, but instead you have leaves for each quality you will discuss. One week per quality. You could conceivably make as many of these leaves as you want and have one separate one for each week of the year. As I said, I like the idea, I just think it might fizzle out as the year goes on. However, we might could just post the qualities somehow. If I presented it as a ship with sails and having good qualities as a sailor, that would go over even better with my boys. LOL

Today we actually tested out a little schedule that I've come up with. I'm going to continue it for a week or so before posting it here. I want to make sure it doesn't fizzle out like so many things. It went really well today. Very short lessons. I knew what was coming next and it didn't take an incredibly long time. It actually went a little quicker than what i had down on paper. Woo Hoo!!!

Our one big problem is getting going in the mornings. We have morning routines posted for the boys. They have breakfast and then are supposed to start on their chores. These aren't complicated by any means, but it seems to take them a long time and I'm constantly having to go behind and keep them moving. I have to make a rule for Pooh that there's no book reading until he's done. He'll just stop for a while and look at a book if I don't keep on top of him. Tigger is known to be found staring at the list for a good length of time without actually moving. When he is moving, it's in the wrong direction. He keeps coming to tell me every little thought that pops into his head.

I'm really open for suggestions on this last part. What's worked for you?