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.