Thursday, August 29, 2013

Going to try a new program for Joe-man: Time4Learning

Over the next 30 days, I will be reviewing Time4Learning. It can be used for homeschool study, an afterschool curriculum or for summer learning. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. You can write your own curriculum review, too!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Not a lot of posting going on here but I've got a good excuse!

The beginning of our summer has been nuts. A few weeks ago we got approved for a home improvement loan through our city. Thank goodness as there are several things, especially the roof, that need to be fixed. It has required multiple strangers coming to our home and we haven't even begun construction yet! We've had our field agent come to go over what we want done and whether it qualifies or not (so far everything does, but we do have a limit on the loan amount so a lot of stuff won't be done I'm sure). We've then had the Roto Rooter man out to inspect the sewer pipes and another gentlemen out to do lead testing. We have gotten some initial bad news; our sewer pipe is not in good condition and is constructed of a material that the city requires to be replaced, additionally the outside of the house tested positive for lead paint. The lead paint is not a biggie, if anything it could be good in that it could qualify us for another program that would pay to have the windows replaced and the exterior of the house repainted at minimal cost to us, freeing up money for the other loan for other things. The sewer pipe is the biggest problem as there is nearly 100 ft of pipe to be replaced that runs the entire length of our backyard and driveway. Two things worry me with this: how expensive it will be and the possibility of our chainlink fence getting destroyed. The backyard is no big deal, it needs to be dug up and redone anyway so this will just help us out in the long run on that project. But, we'll cross bridges when we arrive at them.

Now we wait for the work orders to be written up, then the bid process begins which means more strangers in and out of the house. Thankfully my parents live close by and we have lots of things we can do outside the house as strangers raise the boys anxiety levels to the "mom can't stand one more minute of this" level. I'm just hoping we can get work going before the end of the summer.

We had planned to start The Prairie Primer this summer, but that's officially on hold at this point. I don't want to start it just to have to stop due to the construction going on. I do plan to have the kids do their reading, writing, math and nature study anyway. We'll just have to see what happens.

The Silliness and her brothers

Katie is changing so much lately. As she nears her 4th birthday, her personality is really beginning to form. She's a LOT like her oldest brother, Joey, but more of her own individuality is coming through. I've taken to calling her The Silliness as she is so funny and silly and says things that make me giggle. She dances around the room, she doesn't walk. She sings more than talks. She is all girl. And having only had boys for 7 years before she came along, I'm not used to having such girliness around me. She's also very much a tomboy, she's as happy playing in the dirt as she is dressing up in princess costumes and tutus. She's comfortable with her hair done up in curls with mud smeared all over her hands and face. She's caught between 2 worlds and she loves it. I wouldn't have it any other way.

On that note, her's just a sampling of the comical things Katie and her brothers say:

Katie was furious that she was given 2 boxes of chicken mcnuggets in her happy meal instead of 1 box of chicken and a sleeve of fries. Jaysen kept telling her she's supposed to get chicken and she yells at him "No Jaysen, there are 2 boxes of ticken! See? 1, 2!" Suprise Jaysen, she knows how to count, lol!

Asked the kids what they want to get Mawmaw for her birthday. Jaysen's first suggestion was fabric for her work. ;) His second idea was chickens.
 Jaysen: How about chickens?
 Me: You mean real ones?
 Jaysen: Yeah, she likes chickens so lets get her a bunch of chickens.
 Yup, not going to happen buddy, lol! So I ask again what do they want to get her. 
Jaysen: What does she like? I don't know her that well!
 Yes, this child is going to make some unfortunate girl very unhappy in the future on her birthday, lol!
Katie: I just farted.
 Me: Thank you, I didn't need to know that.
 Katie: Sorry mom.
 Goofy kid.
Katie: I need Daddy.
 Me: Why do you need Daddy?
 Katie: Cause Daddy never helps me.
 Silly girl. ;)
Katie is scribbling all over her new magna-doodle saying "almost all done with my new masterpiece". Goofy girl. ;)
Jaysen just said "Mom, I'm glad you're not evil." Little does he know.....JUST KIDDING, LOL!!!!
Another funny one from Jaysen (while watching Rugrats All Grown Up): "Mom, did you know Tommy has a girlfriend at 10 years old?"
Me: "Yes and I'm not that wild about it being in the show."
Jay: "I didn't think people had girlfriends until 14."
Me: "If your dad has his way you won't have a girlfriend until you're 30."
Jay: "Maybe I won't have one until I'm 40. That's okay, I'm too young to have a girlfriend anyway."
LOVE that kid and his logic, rofl!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I am addicted to reading and I LOVE IT!

As far back as I can remember, my all time favorite thing to do is to curl up with a good book. Even back in my own school days I can remember spending every spare minute in the school library or in some corner of the playground reading whatever I could get my hands on. My favorite school librarian loved me as I was one of those students who was always in the library, scanning the shelves for something new. She even got to know my tastes and would set aside certain books for me to try. I remember those school libraries fondly, especially the one at the school I attended for the upper elementary/junior high years.

I have had times when I've read a book so much that it starts falling to pieces. That would definately apply to my much loved set of The Little House on the Prairie books. They are all the ones that my parents originally bought me and I am so proud to see them on my daughter's bookshelf. Several of them no longer have covers and I have no idea what became of them, lol! I've thought about replacing them with copies in better condition but I just don't want to. It feels like a betrayal of an old friend to toss out the old and replace with newer and nicer. Plus I like seeing my name written in the clumsy signature of a kid just learning to write in cursive.

I have old favorites and new favorites, all friendly faces that I read over and over again. Lots of times I will no sooner have finished the last book in the series than I pick up the first one and start all over again. I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I'm reading the last book, the feeling you get when that long awaited vacation to your favorite place is coming to a close and you aren't ready to go home just yet. Some of my favorite series are: The Little House series plus all the spin-off series (I'm in the middle of the Rose years now), Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Ramona Quimby. Then there are my favorite authors that I will read anything they've written: Jane Austen, Maeve Binchey, Frank Peretti, Bryan Davis (actually got to meet him in person, very sweet man!).

My tastes range all over and I'm not confined by one specific genre at all. I made a promise to myself a couple years ago to seek out classics and read at least one or two a year. My school years didn't involve reading as much as it did when my parents grew up and I felt I'd really missed out. Through that promise I met such characters at Natty Bumpo, Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Tess Durbeyfield and many others. Although one advantage of discovering these characters and books in my adult years is I have an understanding of the stories that I could never have as a child or teenager.

My husband tends to tease me about my reading as I can get easily lost in a book. It's just a passion. To read, to expand my world to other places and times. I simply enjoy it. To know me is to know how much I love to read. Magazines and newspapers and internet forums and other publications have their place. But nothing is dearer to my heart than a beautifully written story.

All The Reasons Why...And Then Some

Looking back through my posts I realize that I've never posted about the reasons why we've chosen to homeschool our kids. Truthfully, Josh and I had always planned to homeschool. My parents had wanted to homeschool me and my brother but back then they couldn't afford it and private school was out of the question. Josh was homeschooled himself through high school and had also attended private Christian schools off and on through his schooling years. We did a lot of praying and discussing and we both felt the same, we felt the Lord leading us to homeschool. I apologize for the length of this, we went through a lot before we finally opened our eyes to the wisdom of homeschooling our kids.

Then the big whammy that life threw into the mix, Joey having down syndrome and Jaysen having autism. We honestly thought that we couldn't homeschool, that they had to go to public school. It really wasn't that bad at first. Through preschool and the first couple years of elementary school, Joey had excellent teachers who were truly the cream of the crop. The kind that adore their students and love their jobs. Things went downhill with the next teacher, one who did not care for the students and was not interested in truly educating a group of special education kids. Joey went from the star student to the class troublemaker. Joey was accused of being uncooperative, mean, aggressive with other students and even accused of inappropriately touching another student (it was determined later that it wasn't true). It didn't help, either, that the school cooks weren't as careful with his dietary restrictions as they were required to be and Joey was eating a lot of stuff that made him sick. The final straw came when Joey had a potty accident and the staff left him in the bathroom for more than 30 mins without checking on him and carried on with the rest of class. We brought Joey home and never looked back. We have spent many a day wondering if the problems Joey experienced with that teacher were due to Joey truly being a problem or if it was the teacher. Our instincts told us it was the teacher but we couldn't prove it. We've since talked with another mom who had a child in that class and she had the same experience with her daughter as we had with Joey. Lesson learned: trust your instincts.

Jaysen unfortunately had a less than positive experience at first thanks to a set of dreadful Head Start teachers who refused to give him the help he needed and fought us as we sought to find out the correct diagnosis for Jaysen's issues (at the time we thought it was ADHD only to find out it was very much more). When Jaysen was recommended to spend a third year in preschool, things began to get better thanks to a wonderful teacher and staff. That following summer Jaysen was diagnosed properly with autism and was then referred to an inclusive kindergarten program designed specifically for children with autism. His kindergarten teacher was AMAZING!!!! She fought hard to get Jaysen into the right class when he went to 1st grade and helped us get set up with a fantastic teacher that Jaysen would have for two years. But that 2nd grade year was not fun. Jaysen came home from school in tears many times, the friend he thought he had betrayed him and teamed up with another boy to tease and bully Jaysen, other kids were bullying Jaysen and by the end of that school year, Jaysen was so miserable that he begged us to never make him go back. I had wanted to pull Jaysen sooner but Josh felt Jaysen needed to stick it out. Even on Jaysen's worst day of homeschool, he still has no desire to go back to public school. I know in my heart that if Jaysen had continued in public school the bullying would've turned physical and I don't want to even think what may have happened.

One of the things I had always disliked about sending the boys to public school was feeling I had no control over their lives and I had no idea what was going on. Up until they started preschool, I had been so involved in all their therapies and appointments and such. I knew everything that was happening and what it took to deal with each individual issue. Once they were in school, I knew nothing. Nobody would really answer my questions with much detail and every summer I would ask for lists from the therapists of things to do with the boys over the summer to keep up their progress; nobody ever provided a single list. More and more I felt like I was losing my children and I could nothing about it. The nagging and tugging at my heart continued until I finally listened and realized what it was; the Lord. When Josh and I sat back and listened to Him, we finally heard what He had been saying all along. We could homeschool and we should homeschool and God would open all the doors we needed to make it happen.

One of our biggest worries was how would the boys continue to get the therapies they needed. We couldn't afford to pay out of pocket and the state insurance wouldn't cover much. We found out that in our state, public schools are required to provide any and all theraputic services that children need regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in public school. That was good, but Josh and I really did not want to have anything to do with the schools at all if we could help it. Then God opened another door when our daughter was 15 months old. Katie hadn't met her speech milestones and the doctor referred her to a pediatric speech therapy practice. We talked with the staff and to our suprise they accepted the insurance for all 3 kids, so therapy problem solved!! A simple referral from the doctor and we had that fixed. Joey had actually been graduated out of 1-on-1 physical therapy at school, his gross motor skills were right on target for his age and the school therapist felt he no longer needed help and could continue in a group P.E. with just a few adaptations. Of course, with homeschooling, we can easily accomodate all his adaptations and he also participates in a baseball league just for kids with mental/physical disabilities. His fine motor skills still need some work but that is easily worked on at home with some good books and tips from the internet plus the different techniques we learned over the years.

With the exception of a few things here and there, nearly all of Joey's behavior issues have disapeared. We still have a problem with the habit he learned with his last teacher of "playing stupid" when he doesn't want to learn but he's figuring out quickly that if he doesn't do his lessons then he's in big trouble. Both boys have improved so much with being homeschooled and we are really proud of how hard they work. Katie is our only one who will be homeschooled from the start and she's doing well, although she has some cognitive delays as well as her speech delay but the beauty of homeschool is we can work with her issues and help her more.

Homeschooling the kids is anything but easy. But I will take a bad day of homeschool over a day of either of the boys coming home from school in tears any day of the week.

I have followers!!!

It's kind of scary as I'm not a very outgoing person, lol! I welcome the new faces and hope you enjoy what I write. I don't get to write as often or as regularly as I'd like but I try to get in a new post every couple of days. I apologize ahead of time if I bore you or drive you nutty with my silliness. I do hope you enjoy my writing and hopefully find something helpful or entertaining or both. :)

A quick look at the next school year

I try to make the month of May my annual time to go back over how the school year has gone and make whatever necessary changes need to be made. We're going to take a new adventure with schooling this next year and venture into unit studies.

So this is what we're narrowing it down to (could be many changes before we hit the start):

Both boys
The Prairie Primer (covers history, geography, writing, science, health, Bible, social studies)

Ray's Arithmetic (multiplication, division)
McGuffey 1st reader
Rod & Staff spelling 2
Easy Grammar grade 2
HWOT cursive
weekly guitar lessons
Bob Ross painting lessons dvd and various learning to draw books

Math U See Primer
McGuffey Primer
HWOT printing
our own spelling list
life skills (operating a calculator, recognizing various public signs, operating household appliances, etc)
flash cards

Developing The Early Learner
HWOT preschool
HOD Little Hands to Heaven
Rod & Staff preschool books
flash cards

Jaysen is still a couple years behind but I try not to focus on that but focus instead on simply learning the skills and encouraging him. Joey is going to focus more on practical skills and life skills, a bit less on academics. I'm not too much worried about Katie really doing any formal schooling just yet, she mostly wants to do school because her brothers are. Katie does have a delay with her cognitive skills so we are throwing in the new book this year to see if that will help her.

And for those that don't know what the initials stand for, HWOT is Handwriting Without Tears and HOD is Heart of Dakota.

My plan, at this point, is to start The Prairie Primer either the end of May or beginning of June. Josh is wanting to go camping the first week of June so that may delay our start by a week. Well, we'll just have to see. :)