Monday, November 24, 2008

Our Family this week

We are on no formal books this week. We are scrubbing away making things shiny and nice in the home. I have been dwelling a lot recently on family work. It seems to be going well, despite the crazy schedule. We have not made a definite decision for our son J, but are trying to be creative in our approaches for now, though that may change.

I think aside from finishing A Tale Of Two Cities, we will be immersed in reading about Thanksgiving and readying our home for the Holidays. We are feeling rather festive and creative. Our goal is to have a more pioneer Christmas. The kids are enjoying thinking of crafts they can make for each other and I am anxiously trying to finish all the homemade gifts I felt brave enough to tackle.

We will be putting up our tree and other festive decorations on Friday. Baking, sewing, scrapbooking, painting and making homemade ornaments will be the study this week.
Happy Holidays!

My Colloquia

We just had our Colloquia this last Friday night. Funny that we were reading Dickens too, only it was A Tale of Two Cities. While I hadn't time to finish the books, I always enjoy hearing the perspective of the other mothers in our Group. It is amazing how we can each glean something different from the book. I marvel at the depth that some of these women, who are further in their phases than I am. They bring so many opportunities for growth for me. I like to think that I contribute some to them as well.

Colloquia This Month

We had a great colloquia this month. We read Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol".

The book was very close to the movie, but had details and a better perspective of the emotional transition that Scrooge underwent during the visits.

My book had some old fashioned illustrations which made it nice when I tried to picture in my mind what Dickens was envisioning when he wrote this book. Some of the old fashioned decorating or terms were a bit hard to picture.

During the meeting we broke down each ghost and the symbols involved with each one. We got very indepth and it was quite enlightening.

After reading these classic books and having our little discussions at Colloquia, I then love to read the reviews on Good Reads. It helps me see the book, the writing, and the author in many other ways. Be warned, don't read the reviews until you have finished the book. I've come across spoilers that weren't termed spoilers and learned things before I wanted to about a protagonist or the storyline.

What are you reading for Colloquium?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Catching Up

I just realized I haven't been on here in awhile. I thought I would update you on our reads and then do a short post on what we have been doing.

All: Old Testament

Dawn: Vegetable, Animal, Miracle
Good Dog, Stay (sad dog story)
Secrets by Jude Devereaux (everyone needs a brainless novel sometimes, right?)
Lewis and Clark

Curtis: Prince Caspian (to the kids)

Isaac: Andrew Lost and Wishbone
Benjamin Franklin in encylopedias, internet and biographies

Jesse: Alma (Book of Mormon), Andrew Lost

Hannah: Skeleton Hiccups (she is learning to read on her own. I gave up teaching her)

Simeon: Being read to by Hannah and the boys. He's learned how to spell TRAIN and still obsessed with the Thomas the Tank Engine books.

We are just finishing up studying about Benjamin Franklin. I think he is one of my favorite founding fathers. He just seems like someone most people could talk to or relate to. I'm amazed at all he did...his brain never stopped working. For fun, while waiting in line for example, he would do a complex math problem. Every where he looked he tried to find something to make life better, easier, or find out how it worked. The stuff he founded, discovered, experimented on...what a blessed man!

Next week we will be learning about common life among the colonists. I think this might be a little more interesting for the kids, as opposed to me gobbling up all the information. I think some of the activities set out for the kids for Benjamin Franklin were a little more advanced for their ages. Which brings me to this question. We were supposed to study atoms (in relation to electricity). Guess who was most interested in that lesson? Hannah. 6 year old, barely starting to read Hannah. She understood the concept, drew the atom, and asked more questions about it. How do we know what may or may not be "on their level"? Is it our conveyor belt upbringing that limits us as teachers in thinking they may not be ready for a particular subject?

Hannah is the one that is surprising me the most lately. She wants to participate in our lessons, but only in a limited capicity: if it is interesting, she'll join in. She wants to learn how to read and I've tried to do the phonics method with her but it's not working so it's been suggested to teach her the sight word method, which she gets, but I hate to teach. Is there a good method out there for that? Should I just hold off and let her develop on her own, and I help her when she asks? Do I do a formal lesson plan?

I totally understand the "skydiving off the conveyor belt" muse. I'm right there with you!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When Dad Doesn't Want to Know

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this issue--Dad doesn't want to know what TJEd is all about.   I'm the one who wanted to homeschool our kids and talked with my husband about it.  He went and visited with my sis and bil- who homeschool- and became okay with the idea of homeschooling.  So with that, I began my journey of deciding how I wanted to teach my children.  I knew some things I didn't want
1.  No Textbooks-  I knew they only contained what the editors wanted to put forward.
2.  No School at Home-  for me this came after fighting with my oldest, b/c "that's not how we do it in school."
3.  Kids thinking Learning only happens at/during school-  even though I went to PS, my parents always showed me that learning is all around.
So with those things in mind I began my journey.  Shiloah introduced me to TJEd, and I KNEW this is what was right for my family.  I tried to share with my husband how I wanted our home set up.  I began to explain the important points of TJEd.  He wasn't really interested, instead he told me that homeschooling is my thing, and that I can do what ever I want.  However, over the last couple of months,  he keeps telling me that he doesn't think the kids are learning anything.  We had planned on attending a Face to Face seminar, but that didn't happen.  We have "A Thomas Jefferson Education", "The Home Companion", and "A Leadership Education," but DH doesn't want to read any of them. I guess here's the big dilemma, DH doesn't like to read.  In the 8 years we've been married he's read 6 books.  How do I get my husband involved?  We started holding FECs which seems to help DH know what's going on with each of the kids.  I've finally realized that I need to utilize my husbands strengths.  He's very handy, and can teach the kids things that I can't-- like making campfires.

Monday, November 10, 2008


In keeping with the topics we started, I thought I'd talk examinations. Which, I admit, I am TERRIBLE about when it comes to my home school. I forget the value of requiring the mind to sift over information it has already soaked in to form answers.

I found my 11 yr old daughter last week going through an examination on her own. For years I have tried to inspire her to learn about writing. I have hoped that through reading and watching me write she might pick up the torch and get busy with me. Alas, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure meant nothing to her and she could see no purpose in her future for it.

Then my husband who is teaching Italian at the commonwealth school asked her to write 5 sentences in Italian. She couldn't do it. She didn't know what a sentence was. He told me this a little upset (I can understand that) Friday. Tuesday she came to me and asked, "Mom, what's a sentence? How do I make a sentence?" She's ready to learn.

Sometimes failing is as valuable as winning.

What we're reading:

All: Core book - BOM

Dad: Finishing Ender's Game, a western and Prophets, Principles, and National Security (I don't know what he's studying for scriptures right now)

Mom: Prince Caspin, Prophets, Principles and National Security, Making of America, and Principles of Teaching, New Testament

Scholar: Fahrenheit 451

Practice Scholar: The Making of George Washington

Love of Learner: One of her Dick and Jane Books

Core: M&M's math (go figure - I can't tell you how many times this book has been thrust into my face! lol!)

Am I brave enough to jump?

Why is that jumping off the Conveyor Belt can sometimes feel like I am going sky diving? It is that mentality that says jumping out is crazy and the majority of the people around me would never do it. For me, it can sometimes be the same with letting go of my conveyor belt mentality. Some of my friends that are more conventional, look at me like I am crazy. I often lack confidence with my choices and I am afraid that it sometimes shows, which I think can do a disservice to homeschooling in general. So while I have embraced homeschooling, I continually stress about it, hate it, then love it. Back and forth...could I please just make up my mind. So I have resolved that like other issues in my life to just make a choice and stick to it. So we are homeschoolers. We are homeschoolers and I say it over and over to myself. I keep my doubts and concerns to those who will support me in my choice and understand that I just need an understanding ear. Its kind of like breastfeeding. If you want to succeed at it then surround yourself with those who will help you succeed. If you go to someone who isn't supportive or has no experience with it, then their suggestion or advice may be to tell you to quit. I consider homeschooling my children as vital and important as I did in breastfeeding them. It is what we have as a family decided what was best. There is always that fine line between that and really knowing when it is time to quit.

So back to skydiving. My biggest hurdle right now is managing the needs of my older two kids, one emerging Love of Learning and one in Core and those of my third child who has a severe speech disorder. We are constantly in the car to his appointments and preschool. Something has to give. If we are homeschoolers then putting # 1 and 2 in public school isn't what is best for my family. But I am unable to give them and #3 the time needed. My LoL is ready to explore topics at his fingertips but there are just too many interruptions in his day and the varying schedule leaves little time for structured time. I find that not only do I have little time to study myself, but that our structured time is not happening. Neither are chores and therefore we have CHAOS in our home. So as a couple we began to explore our needs and options.
Our son's speech needs are vital. Not only do the require speech therapy out of the home but also intense speech therapy in the home. That is not happening for him and our main Speech Pathologist sees this and is instructing us to do better in this area. We have seen a huge regression lately in his speech abilities and we began to ponder how helpful is this preschool he attends 4 days a week. The only way to know is to observe. I started off by observing his outreach ST through the School district. Yet another school we travel to for ST for him. It went really great and the SP actually move the other boy out so that she could focus on J. I was really impressed. He was drooling like mad by the time the 45 mins was over which is a good indicator to me that he was working really hard.
Observing the Preschool gave the opposite results. Really. My older son attended this same preschool when he had some developmental delays and we saw him blossom. J on the other hand was alone and no one even took the time to figure out what he was saying. Twice, I figured it out for them. But I would think that with 5 adults to 18 kids that someone could have pulled him aside to work with him. I understanding not stopping the whole circles time to spend a few mins with him but with 5 adults someone could have worked with him to figure out a way for him to contribute. Speaking of contributing, nothing has been done to find other assitive ways for him to communicate in the class. On top of that the Sign Language interpreter there (because there is a deaf child in the class and we could not get her assigned in his IEP because he has no hearing loss, something that may be worth fighting) has very little interaction with him. Sign Language is one of his primary ways to communicate. Can you imagine what this is like for him.
I also observed the SP who also works with him once a week at this school. She spent maybe 5 mons with him one on one alone, in ineffectual play, maybe 2 mins in the classroom and 5 more mins in indirect contact. All of which contrary to American Speech And Hearing Association guidelines for childhood apraxia of speech. I saw three separate kids comment that his speech was funny and that they didn'tyou talk funny" and then pushed him out of the way. Not one of the 5 teachers even observed this. As a mother I wanted to cry. I understand and don't expect someone to hover over him and protect him from every unkind word and act. But to see the look on his face and then him pick himself back up and keep going. I don't want him to lose his wilingness to try and the bright light he has about the world. But I think I am beginning to seem some signs that things may not be going well. How many times has he had to endure that? Is no training on the challenges that he and other kids in the class given to the other kids? In our homeschool group I feel comforted in knowing that the others in our close knit group are mindful of the special needs that he has as well as others and are in general teaching their kids to be tolerant and mindful of those challenges that others are encountering. I know he has to face the world and endure those at some point but does a 3 year old (he will be 4 in Dec) really have to endure that now. Three times in 2 1/2 hours another child teased and in some ways bullied him. My dh has a speech disorder as well and was teased unmercifully his whole academic life in public school. While he is kind and tolerant and I wonder how he emerged from his experience with such dignity. Where is the line to draw between sheltering him from this adversity and letting it strengthen him. I just think that in general kids today can have a tendancy to be far more cruel and meaner than when my husband amd I were kids.
I felt like preschool is fun...but we are not there for preschool we are there for speech therapy. I feel issues within in the classroom are very resolvable. I just think they don't know what to do, so they have opted to do nothing or whatever. The School SP is obviously unaware of appropriate treatments for Apraxia, though she says she has experience with it. How do tell someone they are not doing it right.

Somethings got to give and I think that Preschool should be it. Am I brave enough to jump off the Special Education Conveyor belt? Could I write a bigger novel about this? I could go on. We are trying to get an Augmentative Communication Device for them and is it possible without the school districts help? If our insurance won't pay for it then they will but if they pay for it we have to give it back if we are no longer apart of public schools. I am afraid to pull him until we know. That could be months. And then there are the concerns of homeschooling a child that I don't understand 80% of what he says and he fights using the sign language. How do I know if he is learning to read and do the interactions with peers really help him to talk more?
Thanks for letting me vent, explore, and in general bounce this dilemma off of you. What to do? What to do? I am getting no divine guidance on this one or I am just not seeing it. Despite fasting, praying, Temple Attendance. Nothing. More waiting, and I am so afraid of not making the right crucial choice here. His entire future seems wrapped up in this choice and I just don't know what is right.

Heather, who is gathering her courage because I think...I can do better for him on my own. I think that it is time to just pull him and have faith that we will manage to find a way to get that augmenative communication device.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scholar Phase Quote

"I have formed my plan and am determined to enter on a course of serious study. Our own library is too well known to me, to be resorted to for anything beyond mere amusement. But there are many works well worth reading at the Park; and there are others of more modern production, which I know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon. By reading only six hours a day, I shall gain in the course of a twelvemonth a great deal of instruction which I know feel myself to want."

-Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Monday, November 3, 2008

Baker Reads

I'm sorry gals, I'll try to keep up better. Life is pretty busy for me. I'm counting down the days till I get my man home with me again. We're looking at less than 40 right now!

We got part of our order in from today. I was surprised it came in as quickly as it did.

Here's what we're reading:

Shiloah (me)
Last twenty pages of Sense and Sensibility. I should finish tonight.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel DeMille (I got this in today from my book order)

Cailynn (E S)
Secret Garden
Robinson Crusoe (non abridged)
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

She has a log of books she's read and she proudly announced to me today that in the past two years she has read 54 books! WOW! I'm amazed!

Chrisy (LOL
Same as last time.

Benjamin (LOL)
Dr. Doolittle

Scriptures: We're in Mormon
Mathematicians are People Too
Last two chapters of Tom Sawyer
Dr. Seuss for the babies

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Creating an Enviroment

I have given a lot of thought this week about environment. More so on setting up a house of order and a house of learning. It got me thinking about a line from a movie, His, Hers, and Ours. "A Home is not for good impressions, but for free expressions." I don't think I can completely let go of not having a good impression, as feel that it could lead to not taking good care of it, but it does allow me to let go of much of my guilt. I would so rather just play with my kids or do something creative or just read a book than to clean my house. But when I let it go like that, then I end up having "Chaos- Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome," to quote the fly lady, who rarely visits my home anymore. I feel so bad about not inviting their friends over. But having a clean home or at bare minimum at least presentable, is more than for good impressions. We are all so much happier when it is. But when I am focused on them and not the monstrous task that is our home, I am happy too. Balance is needed. I struggle with that. But back to environment.

The most creative environment in our home is when, there is easier time constraints as well as a rhythms. We have been so busy this last two weeks in the home and it has been fabulous. I really felt like I met everyone's needs, art projects adorn our home, The upstairs is mostly presentable and perhaps we will do more downstairs today. The kids were off playing and I actually sat down and did a two-page Halloween scrapbook layout, which turned into a 4 kids and moms scrapbook session with scissors and papers and a lesson on making faux leather paper for their scrapbook pages and also the start of making a pirate map. Our studies in pioneer life have morphed into the history of pirates (there were pirates during pioneer times, right!) They spent 3 hours and my bed was just covered with creativity. We went to the Aquarium this last week and then we came home to 2 hours of researching and question bombardment on the computer to ask all the why's of the day. The list could go on about how we went with the flow and let our passions guide us the last two weeks, but the sad thing was, it all happened during DS # 3's 2 week break from therapeutic preschool and Speech Therapy. I actually had time to work with him on his speech stuff from our main Speech Pathologist. So I go back to questioning is the preschool right for him and our family. After coming off such a productive and low stress two weeks I hate the thought of going back to the rigorous schedule on Monday. While it is fun for J, but it isn't fun for anybody else. There are a few more things I am going to try for the others, before we give up, that I really need to pray and ponder how this program helps J. I think my biggest fear is the Augmentative Communication Device for J. He really does need it and if our insurance won't pay for it, then it is likely that the school district will, but if I pull him, then we have to come up with the money ourselves. So for now I am working on that scheduled environment, how can I make it work and still meet the needs of the other two.
1. Sure it takes planning.
2. New books on CD as we have gone through he standard 20 in the car many times.
3. I wonder how much a blackberry or Internet service on my cell phone would cost so we could be free to do research on a "I wonder" or "why" question.
4. During preschool time, just go to the library and read and bring some stuff to work on. I am wondering if that is easier than going home, so we are at least able to focus on learning something, rather than having the distractions of the home.

Well any ideas on that would be helpful. I need an environment that facilitates learning on the go. Perhaps looking to that "its about me" philosophy would be most helpful here. I am so inclined to run errands or just go the park next to the school (not that that isn't important as well.

Well anyhow, greetings from a very fabulous sunny Colorado week. It was just Heaven here the last two weeks. Happy belated Halloween and Harvest Festival.