Monday, September 28, 2009

A Productive Day

7am--Eyes pop open after repeated slaps at my snooze button. Get the King up and make hot tea. Check email quickly, then start waking the munchkins.

7:45--Boys are busy doing morning routines. Finally start eating breakfast at 8:20. I instruct them to do only 1 of their chore cards and then head downstairs to start school.

9:20--Boys start Tote work and I'm doing laundry down there with them. Mozart playing in the background. Checking and helping with math. Working on AVKO spelling, copywork and phonics. After Tote work, Tigger gets in his narration while Pooh does another chore card or two. Then they switch places.

11:10--We are taking a 20 minute break. I check email again, cook up bacon for our dinner soup, make a veggie dip and cut up broccoli for lunch. (we don't eat lunch quite yet)

11:30--Do our Together work which consists of bible study/reading, daily text, recitation, reading of Pinnochio, reading Woods Walk (doing the autumn in the east part) and poetry.

12:30--lunch time. I finish putting together a potato soup. Start loaf of bread in my bread machine but it starts making a huge clunking sound so I take it out and finish kneading, then set it to rise. Head outside to plant pansies and cut back my poor French Lavender bush (maybe too much rain this year?? It's dying back in parts. It looks awful now that I've cut it back so much but will hopefully look better soon.)

2:30--Back inside. Boys had played 30 minutes of video games and when I came in, they were sneaking a show. I made them turn it off. Pooh had a meltdown. Got Penalty chores. Had another meltdown. By 3:30 we talked and got it all sorted out. I punched down the bread and set to rise again. Blended the potato soup with my immersion blender, seasoned it well (added the bacon) then turned it off.

4:15--Off to Art for Pooh. He's got to finish his pastel of Napoleon on a horse. Listen to WT on the way there. (40 minute drive) Drop Pooh off. Tigger and I go to our nature walk place and got rained out by an afternoon thunderstorm. We did see two rainbows though! Head to Sears to check on their cameras. Messed around with a couple and got the 'feel' for them.

6:00--Pick up Pooh and talk with Art teacher a bit. Head to Target to see their camera prices--same as Sears. Boys got distracted when they saw the Star Trek Enterprise ships. Got out of the store quick. Listened to Anderson Fairy Tale on the way home (The Sweethearts and The Ugly Duckling.)

7:00--Got home. Bread rose beautifully. Told the King that this is my most beautiful loaf of bread ever and I can't take a picture of it. Heated up soup. Did some dishes pre-dinner.

8:15--Bread is done. Eat dinner. Boys pick up basement. I do some research. Then we have family study. Boys practice two tunes I've taught them on our keyboard. (I can't believe they remembered them! It's been two weeks since they last practiced!!!)

9:45--Basement pick up. I check email and blogs. Hub is in bed now I think. I need to finish kitchen and get to bed.

I wish every day would go this well.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Boo Hoo

(Edited to add: I just heard a crash in the kitchen. Guess who is helping with the dishes? The King just broke a ceramic spoon. Tigger feels so much better about himself now. LOL)

I'm in mourning. My wonderful digital camera through which you may have enjoyed many a blog post (I know I enjoyed blogging them.) hit a rock and ended up in a stream yesterday. Can I just say, "Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhh"? I bought it on Amazon in the spring for $110. I looked last night and another seller (not Amazon itself) is selling them for $277!!! The same camera! Another "Waaaaahhhh".

How did it happen? Well, it was ultimately my fault. I made the choice to allow my little Tigger to take a picture with it. Most of the time when he asks to take a picture I tell him 'No'. This time I thought 'I'm right here. He's wearing the wrist strap. What could go wrong?' Frankly, I don't know how he did it. One minute he had it in his hand, the next it was sailing right by me into the stream. I should have known better.

The boy is like his father, poor thing. When The King and I were engaged, his friends warned me what a klutz he was. I thought they were exaggerating. Hah! They weren't. Two sets of glasses, plates and a couple of souvenirs from France later and I knew they were right. And that's just what I remember! (I love you, Honey! ;D)

Tigger was very upset himself. He even said later when we saw some pretty berries on a bush, "Too bad we can't take a picture of them." He was also horribly offended when I told him I just couldn't let him use my cameras anymore. I explained that this is something he inherited from Dad (Genes are wonderful things aren't they? Heavy sarcasm!) and that until he had better control over himself and his movements, he wouldn't be able to touch them again. (From experience, I'm thinking he won't be ready till he's like, ya know, 35.) I told him that I wasn't really upset with him, I was upset about his camera. He did feel really bad!

I had some wonderful nature things to share too! We had left Pooh at Art and went to a local Bog Garden to look for mushrooms. It's been wet here in the Southeast lately and I thought it would be a good time to see them. We found lots! I was even taking pictures of different bushes with some gorgeous berries on them. I wanted to label them if I could. We found TWO snakeskins in the stream! Tigger was so excited. We fished them out and he was taking a picture of me holding the second one (on a stick) when the fateful event occurred. (Another "Waaaaahhhh". Every time I think about it I want to cry!)

The camera lens wouldn't retract. All the windows were fogged up. The King opened it all up last night and is letting it dry. We'll see what happens. I'm not even sure if I managed to salvage the little card thingy with the pictures on it. I took it out right away hoping it would dry and be ok.

Here is the one I'm looking at if I have to buy a new one. Here is my old one. Opinions are welcomed. I'm a novice photographer, but I've found that I love it. I love snapping photos and hoping for that one that really captures joy and/or beauty. I love the zoom features so I can catch the details of the flowers and plants that I photo. What I really want? That one on the commercials with Ashton Kutcher (spelling?). I know, I'm a sucker for advertising, but MAN! that camera is awesome!

Tigger and I moved on in our walk after the event. We had fun when we found some Touch-Me-Nots beside the path. Some of the seed pods were ready. We touched, they popped and I screamed. Every time. LOL We found some pieces of bread that another lady had left and fed them to the ducks. We saw a chipmunk. By the time we got home, he (at least) was over it. I, on the other hand, am wearing black today.


(Photos in this post are from ones already loaded into my computer.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Carrot Cake Math

I had some carrots that were past prime so I decided to make carrot cake today. I printed out the Carrot Cake III recipe from (It's ok. I didn't fine it cakey enough though. Plus it cooked waaaay faster than what was indicated.)

First I had the boys help with the grating of the carrots. They are a little timid with the grater as it can 'get' you if you're not careful. However, they managed pretty well. We ended up with 6 cups of shredded carrots. The recipe only called for 3 cups. Sooooo, we worked on doubling the recipe.
Pooh really hasn't paid all that much attention when I've done baking with him before as to 1/2 cups, teaspoons, etc. Frankly, he was only barely paying attention today. What made him work for it was the doubling. He didn't know how to think out the problems so I did a lot of scaffolding. I had him read the recipe and we kept going over how "We need 4 eggs for one cake, but we're doing 2 cakes, so how many do we need?" Same thing with teaspoons of cinnamon. "It says 2 tsps. That's for one cake, but we're doing 2 cakes." Lots of long pauses to see if he'll figure it out. When he needed help I'd say, "This cake has 2 tsps. The second cake needs 2 tsps. How many tsps is that?" Pooh needed all of this to be slow and deliberate. There were a couple of times when frustration started to get the best of him, but we quickly worked it out and managed to keep him in his 'zone'.

The other thing we tried was working on what 1/2 is. How many 1/2 cups do we need to make 1 cup? We took the 1/2 cup and filled it twice to show how it is equal to 1 cup. We went over it several times. With the shredded carrots, with the flour, with the oil, with the salt (using the teaspoon).
Did he really get it? Probably not. We'll have to be doing a lot more baking for that to happen. Sometimes he got sidetracked by Tigger yelling out wrong answers. LOL Then sometimes Tigger would actually remember how to do it and he'd get it right. I have a few pictures that I'll add into this post. However, I was too busy trying to get two rowdy boys to focus and not make a huge mess to take many photos.

P.S. Uh, the Icehouse is mine. Product of a long day baking with two young boys. ;D

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Anniversay 2009

Our anniversary was last week. 14 years we've been married. Pretty cool. Fabulous, even! I decided that this year I wanted to introduce the boys to 'how to celebrate your parent's anniversary'. They never really had a clue before last year. Pooh has taken a while to even notice or question what it meant. Lately, however, he's been reading the calendar and commenting on the anniversaries I write on there. This year they got a lesson in gift giving, money, shopping and fancy dinners.

First off, I explained what we were going to do. They each got their money and money pouches ready for the shopping excursion. Tigger knew from the start that he wanted to get me a ring. I took them to Walmart. LOL We looked at the jewelry, talked about prices, tried on rings and discussed how they would have to have some money for Dad's gift too. Tigger and I agreed on a ring (one of his choices was a seriously huge monstrosity that I would never have worn. Ok, well maybe a couple of times if he'd picked it by himself and given it to me.) Then it was Pooh's turn. I did have to direct him to looking at things *I* would like, not him. Finally, he chose a necklace with 'MOM' on it.

We had quite a time finding Dad's gift. Men are really hard to shop for. We ended up at Lowe's where they found an organizer for nails and whatnot. Dad also received some new work gloves and a ring with 'DAD' on it. That was Pooh's suggestion.

Here are some photos of our evening:

We went shopping one day for the gifts and the next for the dinner supplies. We bought flowers. I made pork chops, black beans, rice, tomato & avocado salad, tostones and maduros. It was nummy. We also purchased wine and new wine glasses.

The boys were happy to use the wine glasses with GRAPE juice in them.

The King bought the lovely yellow lilies.

And here are the gifts from the boys. There were so proud of themselves. :D I bought cards so they could give those. They each did their own card writing though. Very sweet!

14 years later...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Reading Lesson

I haven't worked much on reading with Tigger. I've read several things on not pushing reading (like some schools tend to do) due to brain/visual maturity, especially for boys. Charlotte Mason also did not recommend formal lessons before a child was six. Although I still find her reading instructions a bit vague, I am trying to do gentle instruction and have taken some suggestions from others who've used her method a lot longer than I have. Here is one of the clearest explanations I've found.

We have been doing some pre-reading exercises though. He loves to rhyme words now. It took a little for him to understand the concept. He kept trying to give me words that started with the same letter. LOL Now, for the most part, he will rhyme correctly. Tigger is not a memorizer so still will forget the names of letters or forget what sound they make. I think his little brain is too busy. When he is trying to remember something, he sits and says the same thing over and over again trying to keep it in his head. Don't distract him during this time!

Lately he has been really upset when we have family study time or during meeting preparation about the fact that he can't read yet. He said yesterday that "When I learn to read, then I can read the whole bible and can learn about God all by myself."

It's time to teach the boy some formal lessons. So today we started with a very simple 5-10 minute lesson. I used the white board and presented 'at'. Then I simply stated "This is the word 'at'. Now watch what I'm going to do." I then wrote the word 'cat'. Well, once he saw how it worked, he LOVED it! We did 'at' words and then we did 'in' words. He's very ready for his next reading lesson tomorrow.

It will be a review of 'at' and 'in' and then I'll start on 'en' and 'un'.

How exciting! He gave me a hug and said "Thank you Mommy for teaching me how to read!". So Sweet! When Dad came home he had me write words on the board again so he could read them for Dad. I then wrote on the board (just for fun) 'The cat sat on a mat.' (Yes, I know, a very twaddly sentence.) He loved that too. I just told him the three words he didn't know. Then we changed it to 'The cat sat on a hat.' LOL

I guess the phonics tiles will be doing double duty for a while. I have those famous LeapFrog videos to review with him too. He'll be soooo excited!

Working On A Smoother Day

I've been experimenting with our system of doing school to try to make it a little more organized and streamlined. It's still a work in progress, but I thought I'd share what we're doing so far.

I had considered doing a form of the workbox system with Sterilite drawers I had purchased. But I let them sit there in the school room and kept thinking and thinking, finally discussing my whole dilemma with the King. I want to have a sorta, kinda workbox system. However, I am sooo not going to be filling workboxes each day. My goal was to come up with a system that I take care of once per week and then spend the rest of the days doing the work and having fun with other things.

I looked at different ways other moms have set up their systems. One thing that really caught my eye was Ginger's Setup for her Schedule Cards. I don't have the schedule cards set up AT ALL yet. First I wanted to try my plan and see how it all works.

Here is my bookshelf with a basic idea of my plan. There is a shelf for each boy. I have combined two different set-up systems. First you can see that each of the boys has a tote. This is for work they do every day such as: Math, Explode the Code, Copywork, Spelling, etc. Next you will notice that I have a couple of magazine holders on each shelf. I'm trying out using these for weekly work. I'll be getting some more magazine holders from Amazon and they each will have a set of 5 holders labeled Monday through Friday. In the holders is where I'll put their narration books for each day and any other activity that they need to complete. That includes their extras like music, art, handiwork, etc. I also have different games and manipulatives (and other things) that will be used more with this system.

I tried turning cereal boxes into holders but they are making the boxes differently now and the books just don't fit, although they are useful for smaller items. If something is too big for the holder, I'll just put a card or something in there with instructions on what to do. Then at some point, I'll have their schedule cards set up so they will have their 'Tote Work' their 'Weekly Work' and their 'Work with Mom" work interspersed with other things such as little exercises, snack time, etc.

It sounds sort of complicated explaining it, but it's very easy to implement so far. Their totes are almost always the same. Not usually much I have to change right now. Their weekly holders are easy to fill and they just put it on their desk, do the work and move on to working with me. I'm moving slowly on this because I want to be sure I like the setup. Too many times I've been really excited at an idea and been stumped along the way with unexpected obstacles that make the idea difficult to implement. I have to move slowly to allow myself to process what is working and what isn't.

Here is Pooh working with his Tote. Each assignment is divided with hanging folders. I found some hanging folders that are like bucket folders and I use that for his math. He's using Math U See and keeps his DVD in there for when it's time for the next lesson. No more hunting it down.

Tigger and his tote. He's got an old school desk someone gave me. In the storage area underneath he keeps his boxes of pencils, color pencils and scissors, etc. When he uses his tote he slides the lid under the chair out of the way.

The sit down work really doesn't last long. Weekly work usually is with me for narration and then we work on whatever extra for the day (nature study, art, etc.) The Work with Mom work is bible reading, recitation, poetry and any other spiritual study and reading we have assigned.

We are still a bit bumpy with our schedule but at least now I have a basic road laid down. The more we travel that road the more the bumps will get smoothed out I'm sure. When I ever finish the set up with holders and labels, I'll take pictures and post those too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chore Organization--Part 2 The COAR System

We have a split level house with a half basement. The stairs going from the kitchen to the basement have some nice large walls that were doing nothing so I turned them into a Scheduling Station.

This is the Notes side. Each of the boys has their own white board. This is NOT for them to write on. This is for Dad and I to leave them comments and write down any penalty chores they've earned. We always hope for them to have only the 'inspirational' notes, but there are days when extras must be thrown up there. I always make the positive comments in black because it's a bolder color that stands out. The penalty chores are written in their corresponding color (blue or green) because it's lighter and the idea is that it is less noticeable. I want them to focus on the positive as opposed to the negative. There's also a purple board that Dad and I can leave notes/memos to each other on.

A close-up of Pooh's board. Notice my "resilience sentence" that I leave for him. He's washing a few walls today.

This is my arena. I have my Flylady calendar on a peg board. I also pegged a little basket to it to hold my pen/pencil and some white board wipes. I can also use the peg board to hold invitations, lists, etc if I choose.

Underneath my peg board are these hangers again. These hold the Chore Cards. These aren't as easily flipped because I put them on a key holder (can't remember the name of those things). This way the boys can take their cards with them as they travel from one chore to the next. They attach them to their belt loops. They don't have pictures so Tigger comes and checks in with me to make sure of what to do next.

The chore cards are broken up into areas: kitchen duty, laundry duty, bathroom duty, 2 different bedroom duty cards, animal duty, basement duty, livingroom duty. Each area is broken down into daily chores and weekly chores. They do the weekly chores with me on an as needed/as we get to them basis. My goal is to train them in doing different things around the house and putting weekly chores on the cards tells me who to focus on for a particular job when I'm ready. The cards are grouped into two so they each get 4 areas each week. The next week they switch.

Here's a sample of what is on a card. (once again, 3x5 index cards covered with contact paper)

Bathroom Duty

Daily Chores—Do as needed all day.

  • Clean toilet.
  • Clean sink.
  • Pick up towels & clothes.
  • Sweep floor.

Weekly Chores—Do once per week or as instructed by Mom and Dad.

  • Mop floor.
  • Clean mirrors.
  • Scrub bathtub.
  • Dust ceilings/walls.
Throw rugs in hamper

I hope to one day figure out the file sharing thing and get some of my documents available to you. I just have to pick a file sharing site that I can trust.

One thing I haven't quite decided yet, is if I'm going to continue having them work on chores before school or what. I only require the daily ones before school but at this time, they goof around so much that it's taking too long. My first goal is to get us consistently started earlier in the day and then I'll be better able to tell what to do with timing of the chores.

It's interesting to see which chores that each excels at. Pooh always remembers his laundry duty and does really well at it. Tigger has kept the bathroom sink very neat this week! Once Tigger got over screaming about the bees, he's been fine with animal duty. It was quite hairy there for a while though! They are both lax lately with their bedroom duties. I feel a weekend cleanup coming on!

Hope these posts give you all some ideas. I know that I found other bloggers' posts invaluable in deciding what I was going to do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chore Organization-Part 1

I started thinking back in the spring that I wanted to set up the boys' chore system a bit differently this year. I spent A LOT of time looking at different chore set ups. My favorite one that I read described was for the MOTH chore system. It has little carrying clip on cases for the kids chores to be in and then they move the cards to the back of the case as they finish. That sounded good, but I wanted to be able to put my own clipart on the cards and I wanted to be able to make our own cards and change them out whenever the need. I decided to use this system--Chores On A Ring. COAR? LOL That's it! My system is the COAR system. Seriously, that just came to me this second. ;D

Anyway, you can see in the photo below that each of the boys has one of those stick-on-the-wall hangers to put their routines on. In their bedroom is where we hang their morning routine cards and their evening routine cards. Before they just had a chart on the wall. Now I can change out one or two cards or change the order anytime I want. (These cards are 3x5 index cards that I contact papered.)

Here they are in a lovely 'fan' fashion.
Morning Routine is as follows:
A Rooster Crowing is the Morning Clip Art
Wake Up 7am (in theory-some days it happens-some days it doesn't)
Make Bed
Put on deodorant
Clean Underwear
Get Dressed
Put pj's away (they either put them in the hamper or place on their pillow if still clean)
Brush teeth
Wash face. Use toner. (Pooh is getting pimples already.)
Brush hair.
Dirty clothes to hamper. (there's usually something that's been left on the floor)
5 Minute Room Rescue
Put away clean clothing. (they each have a hamper where I put their clean/folded clothes--they put away)
Eat Breakfast.
Take vitamins.
Work on chores for day.
Check schedule. (school schedule)

Evening Routine (wolf howling at the moon as an evening clipart):
Lights out by 10pm (once again, in theory...sigh)
5 Minute room rescue
Bath (as needed basis)
Brush teeth 1 minute (using a timer). Then floss.
Wash face. Use toner.
Check schedule for tomorrow. (Pooh reads my calendar to see what's happening.)
Set out clothes.

We are still working on consistency. Pooh, especially, tends to just forget to look at the cards and then will 'accidentally' skip a step here and there. Usually the brushing of the hair in the morning. Tigger forgets to put his cards back on the hanger. It's good that he usually remembers where they are, however.

Things would go better if Mom were more consistent about checking behind them. *cough, cough*

Stay tuned for part 2 of the COAR system. ;D

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Wrath of Grapes

I have to say that processing my 15 gallons of grapes was an interesting experience. It would have been lovely to have been able to take readers' suggestion of using a special steam pot to get the juice. Alas, I had no money to buy one and the grapes were waiting impatiently to be taken care of.

Here are my grapes. As you can see they are a white variety. I believe they were either mislabeled or came up from below the grafting area (if indeed these are grafted vines) because they have seeds and have a very muscadiney flavor. Which isn't what they're supposed to be. They do taste good though.

I was unprepared for the cleaning process. You'd think all you have to do is rinse them right? Oh no, once you start rinsing you realize that there are all sorts of insects that come crawling out of the centers. Earwigs, beetles and other 'things'. All my grapes were rinsed and double bathed in the sink. I gathered bunches of earwigs and threw them out. Can we just say a big "Ewwwww" together?

My first try at juicing the grapes was with this JuiceManJr. My theory (laugh, I know you want to) was that I would get the nutrition of the skin and seed along with the juice by using the juicer. Once again, I was unprepared for what happened. Seeds. Yes, the seeds were spitting out of the machine all over my kitchen. Evidently, this juicer isn't capable of handling the seed situation. You can bet I wasn't going to deseed 15 gallons of grapes. In addition, the bag that was holding the discards (grape waste), was actually very juicy still. I wasn't letting that juice go to the garbage! I will, however, be finding grape seeds throughout my kitchen for the next five years.

So I started boiling. I didn't take off the skins like most recipes say. Too much work for me. I just started boiling them and used my immersion blender to whip up the skins in the juice. It made the resulting juice cloudy but I felt better thinking I may have added a bit more nutrition to my juice and jelly. (Hey, if you know otherwise, don't tell me. Ok?)

And straining with the dreaded cheesecloth. (This is actually my tomatoes draining--I forgot to photo the grape mush draining.) My setup was a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth over a clean 5 gallon bucket. Works great as long as you don't accidentally drop the colander into the bucket. Ask me how I know.

My reward. Several gallons of juice. This will be used for the jelly.

More in the freezer for drinking.

These are my bottles of grape cordial brewing away.

This cordial is from some red grapes that ripened about 6 weeks earlier. Can't wait for my cool winter evening when I pop open one of these!

I realized when getting this post ready that I never did take photos of my jelly. Oh well. I managed to get about 22 jelly jars full, plus 3 quarts of juice canned, plus what is in the freezer. It took two days (and I processed some tomatoes too). I'm a novice, what can I say? Would I do it again? In the phrase made famous this past year, "You betcha." As a matter of fact, my dinner tonight was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with MY jelly. Woo Hoo! LOL

The excitement never stops around here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Old Salem

We headed to Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC today. It is an old Moravian settlement. The weather was pretty icky with lots of rain but we still had a nice time. The price was right as each fall they put on a Homeschool Day with reduced rates.

A sample of Vogler House. I love sleigh beds.

The kids enjoyed some of the activities. Right here they are making what I think was called a Fraktur. It is basically a label for a book. It states who did the book. After they make the label, they went to another area to make the actual book. Folded papers punched with an awl and then linen string was used to bind them. The third portion was going to the last area where they used a quill pen to write in their book. These books were used as journals or diaries.

They had outside activities too. I don't remember what this is called but it was a very common toy in the 19th century. You try to keep the wheel rolling by hitting it with the stick. Pooh had fun with this one.

Not so much with trying to get the ball in the cup. The nice thing was that he didn't get upset about not being able to do it. He handled that well. After many attempts, he just decided he was done. He tried a lot longer than I thought he would. He's just not getting the coordinating down right.

I think Tigger managed to get his in on accident. LOL Plus, his was a tiny one with a very short string. He was quite proud though.

19th century fire fighters. Hmmm, nice but I daresay the building would still be in ruins at the end. There were kids and adults standing under the spray too. If you really look, you can see that the employees are dressed in period costumes. They are like that in all the houses.

We saw some guinea hens hanging out. They started calling loudly to each other for about 30 seconds. That was pretty cool to hear. Loud, but cool.

Tigger at the entrance to the toy museum. They have a fabulous toy museum here. Antique doll houses, circus trains and animals, boats, airplanes, dolls, etc.

We also saw a 20 minute puppet show that was based on Aesop's Fables. It was really cute! The Moravian Bakery was also rewarding. Sugar cake! Mmmmmmm.

Can't wait for the next time around! There were more places we didn't get to visit this year and each year is a different 'theme'.

Penalty Chores

I know. It doesn't sound pleasant does it? To tell you the truth, I'm not crazy about the fact that I had to implement this system. But it has helped with some issues we deal with here. I really prefer to use more natural consequences. Such as: "If daily work isn't done, it has to be done in the evening." "Not eating dinner (because they don't like something) can lead to going to bed hungry." etc.

However, we deal with some things with Pooh that just drive me batty. He's a yeller. His faulty emotional regulation can lead him into some awful fits of rage. (I say awful because to me they are. I do understand that other mothers of autistic children deal with rages that are a whole lot worse.) Just this past week he had worked himself into a fit about something. He was in his room but he was just doing his deep screaming (kind of lion roaring) and banging things around. I ended up going in there and very firmly telling him to STOP. I told him what he was going to do. "You are going to stop yelling, right now! You WILL get control of yourself! You will not scream and you will not damage anything in this room." He did it. He stopped yelling. He was still angry but he stopped the raging. After a few minutes, we were then able to actually talk about the problem and come to an understanding. Sometimes that's what I have to do to break through his one track thinking.

That's kind of what the penalty chores do for him too. For a while he has angrily yelled "You're Fired!" at me, Dad and even others who anger him. I've tried talking to him about it. We discussed what it means and that it's a disrespectful thing to say. Would he want others to say it to him? There are other ways to express anger. Etc. He didn't care. I tried understanding his need to express himself. But then I just got tired of it. One day I decided that was it. Enough was enough. (This isn't the only thing he yells when he's angry, just an example.)

Now if he says it he gets a penalty chore. If he yells "I hate you!" he gets a penalty chore. Those things are now totally not an option here. As soon as I instituted the penalty chores, you could see him working on stopping what he was doing. He'd start to say it and stop himself. Something finally got through. Do I wish it was something else? Yes, but I have to go with what is working right now.

The first week we started this new program he really threw some fits. He even told me very calmly one evening, "I command you to stop giving me penalty chores." LOL So we ended up having a 15 minute chat about my responsibilities as his mom and how some other things we tried weren't working. I would make a declarative statement, he would think about it and try to come up with something easier as a punishment. He was trying to negotiate a lighter sentence. ;D I wish I could remember the whole conversation because his reasoning on some things was very interesting! After that, he said in a very dejected voice, "Fine." He did his penalty chores the next day very quickly and was fine. Some times he'll go days without anything and then there have been a couple of days where he racked up 9 chores!

We don't use the penalty chores for everything. There are plenty of other consequences that can happen for other stuff. We basically use them for out and out disobedience and disrespect. He's allowed to be upset about stuff but not to the point of causing the whole house to be topsy turvy.

Here are some things that we use as Penalty Chores:

Washing various walls.
Wash doorknobs.
Wash lightswitches.
Wash doors (inside and out)
Clean windows.
Clean mirrors.
Door frames
Window sills
Raking pine needles
Sweeping porches/sidewalk
Clean doors of fridge/freezer/stove
Wash cabinet doors

None of these are very complicated. It's just the doing of them that hits home. It's either a soapy washcloth or vinegar spray and cloth that does the cleaning. I don't use harsh cleaners so that isn't something I have to worry about.

Yes, Tigger does get in on the action. He's a little spitfire and his mouth can get him into real trouble. He's done his share of wall washing. I think they must get the yelling from the King's side of the family. It CAN'T be from mine. ;D Really, though, some of Pooh's behavior has rubbed off onto Tigger. I do have a hard time knowing where to draw the line with Pooh's autistic acting out and just plain 'this isn't acceptable' behavior. Where does the autism end and the just plain being bratty begin?

I'll go with this system for as long as it works. I do have to say that we have had more conversations this summer about behavior and ways to do things than we ever did before. Not sure if it's the system, a maturing process or what. But I'm not going to change anything until I need to! Don't want to rock the boat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Economics 101

Pooh is trying to convince Tigger to pool their money so he can buy a
George Washington hat tomorrow on our field trip. Evidently, Pooh has
had this in mind since last year when we went on this same trip. If I
remember correctly, the hat was expensive. I think it was $40. I'm
sooo not going to let them spend $40 on a hat. This conversation
started yesterday when I let Pooh know he didn't have enough money to
buy it himself. He wasn't happy.

This is the conversation we had today discussing it.

First I talked with Pooh about how he didn't have enough money to buy
the hat. Again. That he needs to save money for other things too.
There are other trips coming up and he also needs to set aside money for
donations. Later I heard them in the kitchen collaborating on how they
were going to work things out.

Pooh: Hey Mommy! We got it! Look, here's $20 (2 tens) plus $5 is $25.
(Now pointing to Tigger's money) $5 more is $30 and then another two $5
is ten and that makes $40! We can buy the hat!
I watch as they discuss the fact that they can share it (yeah, right).
I mentioned to them that it might be hard to share.
Pooh: But I shared that other hat, the one we got at Disney.
Me: You mean the pirate hat?
Pooh: Yeah.
Me: Well, that one wasn't $40! Besides, Tigger is going to have to
give at least two more dollars for taxes. You'll have to give the
cashier ALL this money, plus $2 more dollars.
Pooh: Don't you pay the taxes, Mommy?
Me: We all have to pay taxes when we buy stuff.
Pooh: Oh.
Tigger: (Isn't so sure he wants to give up more money.) I don't know,
Pooh. Then we won't have any money left at all!
Pooh: Maybe Gramma can send us another check and then I'll have money.
Me: Nooooo, we don't ask people for $$. Money is a gift.
Pooh: I know! We can sell something so people can buy it. Like
Me: Where are you going to sell it?
Pooh: Here-to people that pass by.
Me: Well, that's something people do in the summer. It's not hot
enough for lemonade now.
Tigger: Well, I know! We can sell soda or maybe some wine.
Me: You can't sell wine! (That was yelled with emphasis. LOL)
Tigger: I know. We can make model boats. You know, like Daddy made me
that boat, the catamaran.
Me: Oh no, if this is your business, then it's something you have to
make, not me and daddy.
Tigger: Well, we could get some of the yard sale stuff and put it on a
Me: Nope, that yard sale stuff is for the homeschool group. So you
guys get free field trips.
Pooh & Tigger together: Oooohhhhhh
Pooh: How about Star trek pictures? I can write stories. There are
lots of trekkies out there.
Me: That's true
Pooh: I like to write.
Me: That's fine, but you'll have to do a lot of them. You can only
charge $1 per book.
Pooh: Well, I'll just do it when I don't have any money.
Tigger: Soo, how are we gonna do the books?
M: You have to use blank paper--not the lined paper and you CAN'T do it
today. You have chores to do and other stuff.

In the end I continued our conversation so that Pooh understood that
tomorrow we can see how much the hat is and if it's more than he has, we
can look online and buy one cheaper. We saw one yesterday similar to
what he wants and they called it a Napoleon hat. He loves Napoleon too
so that wasn't a problem at all.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Off my groove for the day--Grape Harvest

Yesterday evening I finally got around to harvesting the grapes from my back fence. I should have done this about 2 weeks ago, but with our camping trip and all it just didn't happen.

I started by bringing a big soup pot out there to collect them with. Then after I cut about 5-6 bunches realized that I was going to need something a lot bigger. I grabbed an empty 5 gallon bucket. Within 5 minutes that was getting close to being full. The Latin King came to help and bring more buckets.

We ended up with three 5 gallon buckets of grapes! I couldn't believe it! That's my biggest harvest ever!

I bought these little grape vines at Lowes. I think they were mislabeled because they all have seeds in them, even though I KNOW some of the tags said seedless. Therefore, even though they have a good taste, the boys won't eat them. They are seed phobic, especially Pooh who doesn't eat strawberries because of the seeds on the outside.

What am I going to do with all those grapes? Whatever I do has to be fairly easy and uncomplicated since I'm really not into details. My brain stops functioning when the process is too complicated. So, last night I processed one bucket into glass jars for cordial. Very easy. I just smoosh the grapes (either with hand or masher), fill into jars, add Vodka, top them and sit them on my counter. Then for about 2 weeks (or until I get around to the next step) I'll turn the bottle over to give a little shake each day (or when I remember). After two weeks you strain out the juice, add some sugar to it and put it back into clean jars to sit for at least two months. I usually let mine sit until winter and then will break open a jar on a cold winter evening for a nice little glass of grape cordial. So good and so easy!

Something new I'd like to try this year is to make grape jam/jelly. I have a juicer and I read about juicing the grapes (seeds, stems and all some say--but I think I'm leaving out the stems) and then making the jam/jelly. I don't think this will turn out like regular jelly because 1. my grapes are white and 2. juicing them will probably make it a little thicker (I don't have much patience for cheesecloth). I'm going to try it and see how it works. At the very least I can freeze the juice for drinks throughout the year and/or making fruit leathers with my dehydrator.

So I'll be off my schooling groove for the day as I process 10 more gallons of grapes. Better get to it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our School Day

Yesterday was like something out of the twilight zone. Granted, we started school around lunch time which didn't really stress me. But we didn't get done until 5:30!!!! What the ???? I have no idea what happened. I know we had a few interruptions (yard sale drop offs and phone calls), but still...

I've been organizing some still in the school room. I had to move some stuff around due to setting up the boys' work a bit differently (I'm testing out an extremely modified workbox system--more on that another day.) I had to transfer my school binder stuff into a new binder because mine was starting to crack under the pressure of all the papers. LOL I did that part in front of the tv last night where I had to chill for a while before I could even think about talking to anybody again. Thankfully, I had dinner cooking away since the morning and it was done when hubby came home. We have 3 qts of leftover soup in the fridge for FFYN (fend for yourself night). I cook in spurts.

Today went sooooo much better. The boys had their daily work in totes, their weekly work and their work with mom. Yesterday, I started with work with mom and went to daily, then weekly. Today I made them start with their daily stuff (I still supervise), then their weekly, then after lunch we did about an hour of stuff together. MUCH, MUCH smoother. We'll see tomorrow if it was just the day or if it was the method. I'm hoping for the method.

Another thing I did was have the morning snack and lunch ready before we started school. I had cut up broccoli with veggie dip on the table and had cooked mac n cheese (one dairy, one non-dairy) for lunch. I also had my winter squash cut up and baking in the oven to soften during the morning time. I managed to wash and fold 3 loads of laundry before lunch too. Whew! I know what we're having for dinner and I even started soaking beans for the dinner we'll have this weekend.

I guess I should divulge how seasonally motivated I am. This week the temps dropped into the upper sixties and lower seventies so I feel like cooking all day. I'll go for a while like that and then suddenly will switch to the 'be happy if I make you a sandwich' mode. It's sooo weird. You could say I'm inconsistent with all areas in my life. I prefer to see it as a seasonal disorder. :D As soon as spring hits, I start planting anything and everything I get my hands on.

My poor family. They never know who they're waking up to in the morning! Some days I'm so sluggish I can't stand it and other days I'm the Energizer Bunny barking out orders left and right.

Anyway, this post is turning into something of a hodge podge post, isn't it???

In the words of the Spaniard from The Princess Bride: "Let me splain. No, no. Let me sum up."

Wednesday bad. Thursday good. Organizing. Cooking. Off to garden. The end.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bees. Again

It all started last summer. My Latin King had taken the boys into the woods with their axes and machetes to go exploring. A little while later the boys came running back into the house yelling. Pooh had hit a yellow jacket nest with his axe and gotten stung about 6 times. He handled it all really well, but ever since then he's been somewhat afraid of bees.

Then he got stung this summer by a honeybee he stepped on.

Then it was Tigger's turn. Evidently, when he was playing with his soccer ball on the patio the ball hit a wood ramp they use for their bikes. There was a wasp nest under there. Tigger told me that something on his stomach hurt and when I looked, there was evidence of a sting.

Ever since then, Tigger has been terrified to go outside by himself. Last week he had the responsibility of feeding the dog and rabbit and he was too scared to do it. Either Pooh or I had to be standing at the door telling him to keep going because he would see something flying around and get freaked out.

I'm not super sympathetic. I don't want to nourish the fear. I just explain they aren't after him, but after the honey (or whatever-depends on the insect). "Are they attacking you?" No. "Well, then just keep going. They won't bother you if you don't bother them. The only reason the wasp stung you is because he thought you were attacking his nest." So far the reasoning hasn't made much of an impression.

Tigger used to have nightmares about spiders. They have changed to being about bees. He woke up several nights yelling about them. Poor thing. I am a LITTLE sympathetic. :D

A couple of nights ago, Tigger is heading to his room when he says: "I think I saw a bee in the house." Me yelling from my room: "There's no bee in the house!" Me adding: "Besides, if a bee got in your room, the monster would eat him!"

Nope, not expecting that Mother of the Year Award any time soon.

He hasn't had any nightmares since then.