Child, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend

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I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sometimes change is necessary for one and therefore necessary for the rest

My biggest struggle this year, by far, is finding the right groove with my Eldest boys. For all intents and purposes, they are both in high school this year, although I have some flexibility with Bard b/c of laws, registration and all that. I jumped on the Independence Band Wagon too early; better said, I threw them on the wagon and we've suffered through the consequences this first semester. Fortunately, I have received excellent council from the Veteran moms at The Hive/Forum, so I have made some adjustments along the way and academically, all is well; yet we are still struggling with finding the right balance of freedom and follow-up. This has resulted in yet another schedule change.

Simply put, I need more time with the big boys, so instead of weekly block scheduling, which I LOVE, we are  going to a more "periods" based schedule with more daily time with Momma. They will not be happy about this, but since they are behind in science and I'm tired of their inching, it's time to jump in full force. We also need more daily review in Latin, since there is so much to remember at this point. They're doing very well, but the daily time together has merit. I also want to push ROGD on his speed in all subject areas. He likes to turtle along. He needs the push and practice in focusing and picking up the pace, especially since he has plans to be gone for 2 months this summer.

I suppose I enjoy the mixing up of schedules simply because I get bored with same ole same ole, but I was sure happy having a 4-day week with the Little League. Since I have to change for the Elders, that 4-day joy is about to change. There is merit in our change, though, beyond meeting the needs of the Elders. The Little League wasn't doing nearly enough science and the Little League is a real experiment loving group. We will drop my plans for Physics and pick up Elemental Science Physics to give me more "instant" direction. The program comes with easy to use teacher's materials; student workbook for documenting experiments, journaling, and illustrating; and from a WTMer, I found a core text, Physics Experiments for Children, online for free. The program is easily followed on a 2-day a week schedule, so I've gone through and marked out the topics our physics study has already covered and I'm ready to roll. I purchased Physics via pdf download; printed both Physics and the core text, combined the two in a 3-ring binder and viola! Tuesday and Thursday should be fun around here! The program comes with a supply list, too, so that makes for easy quarterly planning. I can simply write Week:Days in my planner, pick up my Teacher's Manual and Roll. FWIW, I also bought the other two books needed from Amazon.com, using my Swagbucks freebies, ala Amazon giftcards. You can't beat free! That means I only had to pay for the Elemental Science and the rest was simply printing and assembling! We'll skip the biographies since we have already covered the subjects in our history lessons. So in a couple of days, I should have my free books and science experiments should prove abundant.

So, while the change came about because of a shortcoming, I'm hoping the effect will be positive on the whole lot. My days are still long, but that is to be expected when you're schooling 7 children ranging from K--9th grades. It is a wonderful world and I look forward to the challenge (so long as there's a little Sangria with friends along the route)!

Affording and Growing Your Own Library

I was just telling someone today that my public library has most of the Grammar and Dialectic books for TOG and some Rhetoric ones. Since I have a first glimpse this year of the R books, and I prefer to own them so my dc can mark in them, I could invest now in R books for my future students and try not to spend any money on the other levels. Here's how I can afford this: Think Used.

Do you have $20/month for books? Check out your friends of the library regularly with a booklist in hand. Garage sales sometimes offer bargains. Paperback swap, too. Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, HomeSchoolClassifieds, Vegsource, SwapBoards on the Well Trained Mind Forum, Thriftbooks, yahoo groups etc., etc., etc.

I suggest investing in History Core books first. Use Bookshelf Central to find the Multi-Unit Books and get started. You'll also need a good Atlas. One Atlas can be used forever! Lower level atlases are plentiful at most libraries.

After you get a nice core library, then add literature, then churchhistory. Save Philosophy for last.

Do you know about Swagbucks? It's a search engine that you may freely acquire "bucks" and shop at the Swagstore. I have received Amazon gift cards and gotten 5 books this semester, simply by using the Swagbucks search engine instead of Google or Bing. It's free. It's easy. You don't have to do anything special and it helps with TOG books or science books or....or...or...All I did was link from a friend (the link I provided IS my "referral link"), download a toolbar and here come the free books (shipping and all)!

Finally, since TOG does regular updates to keep in-print books in their lists, you can also ask others for resources. Your new DE TOG year 1 will not have the same books as my 1-st Year 1 Redesigned. Your library may have the Out-of-Print books listed in other TOG years. Ask others what their year plan uses.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Free books for school...or other free stuff!

A friend turned me on to Swagbucks last summer. It's really quite simple. Instead of searching via Google or Bing, we search through the Swagbucks toolbar on our internet page. It takes up about a 1/4" across the top, just under the addy bar - just like any other toolbar you may use.

Daily polls take about 30seconds to use and by searching and clicking you earn, swagbucks. You then redeem your swagbucks in the Swagstore and get free stuff.

From the time we signed up we have earned $25 towards our choice, Amazon.com, and I have bought some books for school. FREE books for the clicking we would do anyways. Great stuff. If you're interested in earning some free stuff by doing what you already do, then head here and sign up. It's easy. It's free. It works : ) Just today I freely ordered:
The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia and Gizmos and Gadgets

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PR4 Lesson Planning in Progress Wks 6-8

Disk 2 is done. 1 hour 5 minutes, total time: 2:25 for planning out 8 weeks of COMPLETE Language Arts.  If you're like me, with several dc using this program, then I consider this planning for 4 children, maybe 5. I really can't complain about it one bit.

I watched the whole of the spelling again, mostly; i.e. I only fast forwarded a wee tiny bit. Mrs. Beers keeps popping in word origin and I love it! I'm afraid she'll tell me something like, "This is an example of how the French changed the Latin base by spelling with ai." or "This is a French word that would end in I, but you'll notice in English, we substitute, Y. You'll find this in the word "variety" also." I love those tidbits. I'm hoping they sink, sink, sink and my kiddos will be able to apply Latin principals to the other romance languages easily. I've got 3 interested in Spanish and another in French. We shall see!

Shrouded in zeal, I failed to notice there are not Building Codes in PR4! That is the spelling rules manual portion of previous levels. You, of course continue with Rule Tunes, though, so those rules are reinforced. You also continue with the Designing Codes, a.k.a. word study. You'll find a connection between spelling words and stems of the DC. That means you'll have -solv-, -solute- in the DC the same week you have solution and solve in the spelling list. Application, application, application! This also serves as the vocabulary portion of the curricula, as you will not only literally define everything in the DC, you will also look words up. This really cements both the spelling and word study, as your student will see how prefixes negate, suffixes change parts of speech, and how roots/stems/bases keep meaning in a variety of words. This is fantastic and transfers very nicely into history and science materials. I love when I see my students break down a science word b/c of Latin understanding....it's beautiful, Baby! There will be 5 new stems in the three week period, totaling 35 words for word study/vocabulary.

You will continue to refer to Framing Codes from Level 3, the grammar section, a great deal in Disk 2, so make sure they're handy. How wonderful that your students creates a reference guide. I hope they feel a sense of pride to refer to their materials as trusted reference.  This disk brings about kinds of sentences, subjects, predicates, simple of each, collective nouns, work of nouns (subjects, direct objects), verbs, direct objects, object compliments, predicate adjectives, articles, descriptive adjectives, predicate nouns and DUM DUM DUM...DA DA...boom-boom, boom-boom....Diagramming! Mrs. Beers calls it Scaffolding, to stick with her Carpenter's analogy. Your student will take all the parsing practice and apply it to Scaffolding. I am impressed with how easy the transition from parsing to diagramming is. I remember the dread of diagramming for my Elders as they used a different program. I anticipate this being NO big deal for the rest of the Gang. Basically, you parse the sentences, then you "fill in the blanks" of a diagram. Within a couple of lessons, you draw your own scaffold. Seems pretty easy breezy!

The next three weeks in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch bring a few idioms, dictionary/thesaurus practice, a couple of character studies via research, note taking and dictation. Key word identification leads to note taking and remodeling a paragraph. There's some copy work, too. Of course, you are also reading a great story. All the while, you are reading aloud some historical information pertinent to the book, as well as, filling in a timeline.  I am always hard pressed to actually pace through the literature studies. They're so good I want to drop everything and do them all day long :) Of course, all that writing would exhaust my dc, so I really can't do it!

That's it for round two. I'll keep you posted :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PR4 Lesson Planning in Progress Wks 1-5

Well, don't tell on me, but I'm enjoying vacation a little too much and have only spent a wee tiny bit o' time actually working. I refer to anything school related as "work" these days. Not that I don't love what I do, because I really love it, especially the lesson planning part; alas, it is my job, and thus called "work." I suppose to my grateful, yet lazy self, it still carries the benefit of self-employment, so I stroll about my home, finding things to do...instead of work :)

I finally, only three days late, sat down for real with The Phonics Road Level 4. I won't be needing it for a little while, but the time of need falls between this and our next vacation, so I need to lesson plan now. I could easily use the program with weekly, even daily planning, but *I* function better when it's done. Truthfully, I am a procrastinator, so having the planning done facilitates the getting done around here. I tried last week, but my dearest Oman came home after about 20 minutes, ready to start his extended weekend, which meant, he was ready to be with his wife. Since I cannot object and only respond with batting lashes and blushing cheeks, PR4 was quickly left behind. ;)

Now that I'm back in business, even if tardy and in need of java, I can get this ball rolling and let you know about the hour and ten minutes I spent with the first five weeks of PR4. That's total time for those of us counting.I purposefully watched all of the spelling for this first batch, whereas usually and as soon as disk 2, I will fast forward through a good bit of spelling. There is a new element to spelling this time around and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything! PR3 brings into spelling Part of Speech Identification. PR4 takes that and builds using the word study from last level to spell, identify part of speech, then (here's the new part) change the part of speech by adding either suffix, prefix, or both. So, one column of spelling words, one for parts of speech, and one for the newly designed word. To borrow from the builders analogy, you're student will be adding some lovely curtains to the window she's designed. This is one of the features I love about PR --- application! You will practice those spelling rules via Rule Tunes and discuss word meaning, as previously modeled in Designing Codes. Aaahhh tying it all together! Okay, so perhaps the application is my favorite part as PR moves forward. Amazing and amazingly well done. My WTM buddies have heard me say time and again: Mrs. Beers is intentional and I LOVE it! The DVD shows how to implement. It's very simple. Since at this point, dd does the parts of speech all by herself (PR3 3/4 complete), she will continue to do the same in PR4 and I think the new column addition should take us about 10 min. together. At some point, I think she'll fly solo on that, too. I'll be sure to let you know as I complete the larger job at hand.

WHOA! Let me back up. As is the practice of PR, there is a spelling review at hand. Mrs. Beers provides specific instructions on how to customize this review so you are not wasting time unnecessarily. As is a pleasure in the DVDs, not only does she explain how, but models so with her jumbo sized materials. In other words, you continue to receive the auditory, visual, and hands on materials as a teacher that you have thusfar received in the previous three levels. Since there's not need for the cursive practice, the review is not as extensive as that in PR3. There will be four (4) tests over the next 4 weeks; additionally sound card review and practice; word study review also all "as necessary." By the time the student completes this level entirely, they will be spelling grade 13 words...that means through high school, baby! Ask me why I love, love, love PR?! Here are a few examples: proficient, privilege, lieutenant, victorious, sufficiently, theoretical. There are 34 total weeks of spelling lists.

In the interest of resale, I try to write on notebook paper and not in my Foreman's Guide (Teacher Manual). This method brings about a certain amount of redundancy in my notes. Not a lot mind you, but a bit, so keep that in mind for my lap times :) You will need Level 3 materials as reference tools for the grammar study, so don't file the Apprentice Guides away. Keep them handy! We used a different color notebook to help distinguish. You don't actually start Framing Codes until week 5. At which time, off you go! Since I've only planned through week five to hour, here's what you'll cover in your first week of grammar: sentences, fragments, subject, predicate, main/dependent clauses, and infinitives. That's three scheduled days. The methods used will include dictation, writing complete sentences from fragments, sentence parsing, including learning the new markings for clauses.

The fourth day will pick up with Designing Codes. For those unaware, Designing Codes (DC) are the word study components of the program that are tied in as mentioned above. PR4 will include 30 new Latin base words to help with more difficult spellings. You'll have cards for the lot and the fashion of DC will be the same. That means: cards for building; literal definitions; dictionary definitions; word derivatives; incorporation in spelling lists.

The literature study, the backbone of the writing component to the program, uses Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. This 29-week study will generate a 70-page notebook for your student that will include all of the following (those italicized are in the first 5 weeks):
  • character study
  • setting
  • plot elements
  • note-taking
  • outlines
  • composing paragraphs
  • descriptive elements
  • dictation/copy work
  • understanding biographies
  • dictionary/thesaurus practice
  • remodeling
  • paraphrasing
  • vocabulary 
  • word study
  • transitional words/phrases
  • the writing process
  • topic sentences
  • research
  • lecture or oral presentation notetaking
  • touches of history, geography, astronomy, math, navigation, English monetary conversions and economics
I'm certain my complete review will include more of the writing component, that's just what I learned from disk 1. For now, I've just finished my breakfast and will tidy up my house a bit. Until the next review....I pray I do not disappoint in my immediate efforts to familiarize with this magnificent AIO (all-in-one) Language Arts program. (underlined words are spelling words this level ;) )

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sitting in Awe of the Kindness of Others

I can't believe this, so I sit here in awe and full of gratefulness. While watching a movie, we answered a knock at the door, only to receive a bag of gifts and a Christmas meal from "a friend." The delivery came from a local radio station, WKID Clearwater, FL. Friend, we thank you and offer praises to God for the blessing you have shared with my family. Many, many thanks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Perspective -- Getting some and getting God's

I've heard it said we all see the world through a different lens and I imagine that is true; however, I believe there are times, when our flesh is willing, when we can see through the eyes of God and share His perspective. I had a moment of that yesterday and thankfully, so did my two eldest boys.

We spent the morning in Tampa at Metropolitan Ministries. MM has a Christmas offering, much like Toys to Tots, whereby needy families receive a Christmas meal and toys for their children. We had the blessing of serving in the Chapel for a morning shift with other members of our church. Anyone who so desired was able to fill out a prayer card and either place it in the box or sit with a member of the Chapel team for prayer.

Upon arrival, I started praying over cards already streaming the walls, just trying to get out of my flesh and into a prayerful place. Our pastor led the team of 9 in prayer, then prayed with my boys and I, as this was their first time serving in this way. I was particularly hopeful that my son, Bard and Book Devourer, would open his heart to this day, as he has been in serious need to serve others and, like most 13yo boys, take his mind off of himself.

It didn't take long for the people to come and within ten minutes, the perspective flowed. The first man has family in Haiti. If you remember, there was an earthquake there recently. Perspective -- I have all my family in tact, in America, the land of the free. I have shelter. I have running water. So much for any trickles of worry about my not-running-so-great van.

Next, another Haitan. She was in the earthquake and a mother in a family of 7. I could see the weariness cover her and I really did understand it. Sometimes, simply the volume of energy necessary to tend to a large family is tiresome, and that is on the easy days. When I told her I too had a family of 7 and that I felt her, that I knew what it meant to be tired, we prayed and she released. Tears flowing, I knew the Holy Spirit touched her, He gave me words to bring healing and through my own lessons of the past week and I was able to encourage her to lean on God's strength. It funny how we "know" something as head-knowledge, but when we live it, we experience it, there is power behind the message. That power is God's revelation -- God's strength. When we lean not on our own understanding, we are stronger. When we walk humbly in the strength of God, our testimony is a blessing to others because people recognize Real. People recognize hope in your eyes just as they recognize pride. Two women sitting together in prayer for the earthly thing that mattered most to them - family. Perspective. We are strongest when we are weak and humble before God, when He is our strength, when He holds us up.

The people came. The prayers were sent up. Amazingly, the spots the Lord has worked on in me this week, were exactly the spiritual truths I needed to serve those strangers. Strangers, yet brothers and sisters in Christ, praying and believing as One Body, serving One God, believing together that He loves us.

There came a point where I had to pause and just sit for a moment. I was overwhelmed. I believe at this moment, it was not an overwhelmed flesh or pity cry, but honestly, and to some this may sound strange, but honestly, I believe the Lord blessed me with a glimpse of what He sees; how much He loves us; and the sorrow He feels when our sin, when the sin of a fallen world, bring suffering to His people. I stood for a moment and weeped. Weeped for suffering. Weeped for loss. Weeped for the consequence of sin. Weeped for a hurting people that God simply waits to turn toward Him. Oh, how He loves us, and longs for us to turn toward Him. To recognize who He is, our Father, and how He loves us enough to have sent His son to die. Could you send your son to die? Could you even get to the top of the hill and lay down your Issac? God did through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

When the next group of people came forward, I had to get it together, so I entered the chapel and sloppily got through the next prayer. I asked the Lord to let me pull it together b/c I knew I needed to minister to others and the while the compassion never left my spirit, the tears stopped falling. It was a most remarkable experience. One I shall never forget. I believe for a brief few minutes, my spirit was in total agreement with the Holy Spirit and it changed me.

We returned to the church that afternoon and my boys helped me get toys and food ready for the families at my church. Since the afternoon was soon lost and it was nearly time to attend Wed. night bible study, we stayed on. The boys enjoyed their passtimes of reading and guitar playing and I piddled about helping our pastor with office duties. At the end of bible study, pastor asked those present who also attended Metropolitan Ministries to share their testimony. He let Bard go first. I was anxious to hear where he was. I had left him alone for the day, just allowing the Holy Spirit to work on him. (He's at the place in his life where I need to cut the cord and let him practice walking his faith without holding my hand. He is now accountable to God for his actions. This time is worthy of both celebration and tears). The words he spoke were beautiful to me, and encouraging as his mother. "We are always complaining about something. We don't have anything to complain about. Some of the people I prayed with had nothing. I mean nothing. We really have a lot to be thankful for. I prayed with these people and they walked away crying. It was amazing. It was cool." He seemed humble. He seemed touched that his prayers, a meager child's prayers (in his mind), were used by the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of grown folks. As his mother, I was pleased and grateful that all the things his father and I had talked to him about the evening before were shown to him through serving others; as his sister in Christ, I too was humbled and full of praise that a young man is learning the essence of servanthood and in doing so, receiving the blessings of our Father.

Rockin' Out Guitar Dude has a strong sense of family. Always has. Perhaps it's b/c he's the eldest of the five we have at home. In any case, he spoke of a family of 10 whose father was recently deported. He harped on a family being divided and how painful that is. He too said, "We have so much. We have no place to complain. We should be more grateful." Again, as a mother I was proud, but so humbled that there was no pride in me, only thankfulness that our Father not only gave me a glimpse on this day, but also shared His truth with my sons--His sons. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

It was a beautiful day. May God's Perspective move through your home this Advent season. It surely has done so in mine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Miss My Blog and Christmas Ponderings

I'm still running crazy getting all the stuff in order I need to and I miss my blog. Christmas decorations are up as of today. Nothing too fancy, really. I have a real love hate relationship with this holiday.

I hate commercialism, so I get generally sick to my stomach at the chaos and credit cards of the season. I love gift giving and receiving! I love that it gives my parents a chance to buy gifts for my children. My parents all live so far away and we really don't see them, so it makes them feel great to give gifts; they're simply used to Christmas gift giving. I'm more of a spontaneous gift buyer myself. Either way, we both share our love, so it is all good, just a different vernacular, I suppose.

I love Jesus Christ, but I know this isn't even His birth month, but a ploy of early religion to bring in the Pagans (head shaking). Besides, I want that we all should "adore Him" all the time, not just in December. So much for advent.

The sight of a pretty Christmas tree is... pretty, but kinda irritates me as again, Pagan. I have this dislike for Judeo Christian practices with Pagan origins and, yes, I realize culture changes the meanings behind many things, I just can't help it, I am a lover of history AND a bit of a purist. To some, I guess I'm a grumpy old woman, perhaps a Grinch in FL clothing. Regardless of my furry green complexion, I'll enjoy the lights in the park, but keep our decorations to a minimum, mostly just for fun and crafts for the kids.

I do love though, that some people who rarely smile get warm and fuzzy this time of year. I wish the warm would stay on them and that the fuzzy would at least appear a few times a year. We'll help with that by making Christmas cookies. How can I resist? I do, afterall LOVE cookies anytime of year and will gladly accept any excuse to have some sweet fun in the kitchen with The Gang.

So, I'm off again for some less gratifying work (paper grading). I do wish you all a merry Christmas, no matter how you celebrate it! May you remember what Christ did for you daily and if He is not a part of your Christmas, may you have fun doing whatever it is you do! Blessed times to all and to all a good night!

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