Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Prayerful Time

I was going to type about some homeschooling thoughts here today.  But my mind is more consumed with other things as I type.  A dear uncle of mine was just diagnosed with relapsed pancreatic cancer.  He lost half his pancrease, a portion of his stomach and part of his intestines about 8 years ago to this disease.  He is looking into a date for sugery for the newly appeared, 2" growth. 

He currently lives with my grandmother in Tennessee.  I worry about her through all this the most.  She has already lost 2 of her 6 adult children to other diseases.  My mother being one of them that has gone onto heaven before those of us here on Earth were ready.  I know my uncle is prepared for his eternal home if God should decide to call him there.  I also know my grandma knows this, but it must be hard to consider the possibility of burying yet another child. 

She will be 80 this year and tries to be strong for the rest of us.  Those of us close to her know her heart aches deeply though.  It is especially hard for me to 'watch' her bracing for this since my grandmother and I are very close.  She has helped raised me through various points in my life and has sort of stepped-in to fill my mother's place ever since she passed away 7 years ago.  I do wish I could be there with grandma now as she prepares to sit in hospitals and drive my uncle to and from doctors.  I pray the Lord gives her great strength.

I did talk to my uncle today and he is sounding ok.  I do hope his heart is strong and ready for what lies ahead.  The peace of mind comes in knowing that his soul is prepared.  I ask that, if it is put on your heart today and in the coming weeks, to pray for Mountain Mom's Uncle Tom and Grandma Dorothy.  HIS will be done in all this.

Blessings to you...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Animation Project

What do you get when you have an entire summer with 4 kids and a husband who is laid-off and in-between semesters of job-retraining at the college?

If you guessed a spaceship crashing on Earth as it was heading to the moon and a handful of aliens looking for the missing parts so they can resume their journey to the moon.... then you were right!

Yes, DH and the three youngest billy goats made their first ever claymation video this summer!  Thanks to an old family friend, we were inspired to load it onto YouTube where you can view it :-)  It is very short and rather cute and, yes, that is Bk's arm you see pop in for a split second about halfway through!  Kids built the set and characters and DH filmed and pieced it together.  The sound is a bit off and it was definately a learning project!  I hope you enjoy it as much as they enjoyed making it!

Montana Wildlife!

As I blogged yesterday, homeschooling has many perks!  Picnicing outside being a special bonus in nice weather (who wants to sit in a stinky, noisy, crowded lunch room on a sunny day?).  Another perk we enjoyed this week and last week was the wildlife.

No, no... not that kind of wildlife!  Although, Montana can be known for its dinosaurs.  We haven't had the chance to visit the Museum of the Rockies yet.

This kind of wildlife is more of what I was thinking:

Maybe it was Faline ;-)  We were doing math at the dining room table and one of the kids noticed movement out the back sliding door.  Upon checking we stood in awe for nearly 5 minutes as Doe and fawns grazed in our yard :-) 

Yesterday I began to wonder if it will be a hard winter.  Maybe the deer are filling up anywhere and everywhere to prepare for scarce supplements in a few short months.  As we prepared to sit in the living room and read about Ancient Greece, our attention was drawn out the front windows as a Buck and two very young bucks grazed in our front yard!  My husband snapped this picture from just outside our home-office door:

As I type this I am reminded of our trip to the Zoo when we were in Chicago a couple years ago.  I expected my kids to be ultra-excited at seeing such a managerie of animals.  They were impressed with the dolphins but everything else didn't seem to hold their attention as I expected.  Perhaps wild deer, bear, and mountain goats almost close enough to touch have inhibited any fascination for other caged beasts! 

The thought to leave here with?  If they had still been in public school, they would have missed the wonder and marvel of local wildlife.

Blessings to you this weekend.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm not suppose to be on here right now. Actually, I should be enjoying tallying up tackles completed by the Z-Attack! Stupid sore throat :-( I have been trying to hold back the bug all week but it is getting the best of me today. To that effect, I should be laying on the couch or in bed with a blanky and some honey tea. But here I sit. (Shhhh, don't tell, maybe no one will notice if I make it quick!)

We had our share of ups and downs this week. All-in-all it turned out well and I am glad it is Friday! (I am sure the bug has something to do with that as well!) I had to get on here, a sort of celebratory blog that we accomplished much and shed no tears :-)

I have no less than 3 bogs buzzing around my brain. However, I am going to drop this quick note instead....

Reason #374 why homeschooling is so wonderful:

Fall is due to set in here any day now. We were blessed with some lovely (and warm, summer-like) weather this week for which we just had to set up a picnic complete with dinosaurs on our back deck! What a nice breather to our homeschooling day :-)

I hope your homeschooling memories are blessed ones made daily :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Loving my timer

Week three of our schedule is coming to a close. Last week wasn't the greatest... but it could have been worse! I would have loved to blog as I went... but my glitchy computer made that impossible. Body glitches have made it doubly-difficult to spread words on my page.

This week I have not spent every day with my timer on. On the days I have not turned it on, I am noticing a difference in productiveness and attitude... on all our parts... for the worse. It isn't horrible but it isn't as lovely as the timed schedule days are either.

I have also noticed, especially with B (my severely dyslexic/possibly APD kid) that if we do not start FIRST THING in the morning and use a timer, the day is far to scattered and he has difficulty staying on task. Frustration abounds on days like that, so what do I do?

Step 1 is... try to stay on task! We have a schedule and we need to stick to it whenever possible. This morning, as an example, I realized I forgot to print out a cursive copy page for Ash. The re-vamping of my hard drive this week wiped all my favorites, including the handy site I had for making handwriting sheets! I do have it backed up on an external hard drive but I was too lazy to go grab it in the other room and plug it in! Instead, I spent more than 30 minutes going in circles and still getting no where. Eventually, I just logged off and got a late start on our school work. My point? If I don't have it ready when it is time to start (and if it isn't crucial to our lessons) then I need to just let it go! (Easier said than done for most of us!)

Step 2 is... when goofed up schedules and late starts are just unavoidable: accommodate, be patient, be done with school "work" early if need be. Which is what we ended up doing today. We post-poned some science experiments and our writing project slotted for today and, instead, we explored some sign language videos and played a spelling game that they love so we could review their words before the test tomorrow. This very minute they are finishing watching Disney's, "Hercules" because we are studying Greece this week! Yes, I know, not quite as educational as other videos, but this has not been a conventional day!

Tomorrow? Well, we wrap up this wacky week with a surprise, get-to-stay-home day! Thought we would have to be gone and we don't. I am relieved since the science and writing that got bumped today can be done tomorrow at a more relaxed speed (and on schedule I hope!!) Oh, and I must remember my timer next week!

Happy schooling to you !

Computer glitch

I have had a computer glitch and unable to get on the net for very long for more than a week now :-( DH worked hard yesterday and seems to have restored most of the problems. Still more work to be done though. I hope to get some meaty updates going over the next few days... lots to report in the land of homeschool :-)

I hope your homeschool year has gotten off with a bang! Blessings to all....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Applying Our Schedule

I have so much to do I feel like doing nothing! Actually, it isn't that bad. What I have to do is not as urgent and pressing as organizing curriculum. It is nice to take a break from that urgency.

Our week went well... all considering. I have tried to bare a multitude of advice and previous years' experiences in mind as I step into this homeschooling year. The hard one has been to "Put your husband and his schedule first." I think that one came from Lorrie Flem of TEACH. It is a good one but I keep praying, "Lord, are you sure? Cause I think if I give my husband the firsts he will take it all!!" I realized the other day I need to be praying, "Lord, I want to be a good wife and give my husband the first, please put on his heart not to take it all"!

Seriously though. I am finding peace and some measure of balance in our homeschool with a husband who is going to school full time and has a goofy schedule this semester. He schools 2 evenings and 2 days and has Friday completely off (for now). Wednesday he wanted to chat with me about a few things that took until 10am. Our whole schedule that day was a little off but we managed. I kept my cool ((pat myself on the back)) and just enjoyed what we could get done.

The importance of a schedule is having a profound impact on me this year. I have always gauged my days with to-do lists and schedules. The difference this year is an article I read this summer assuring homeschool parents that keeping the schedule to a T every day isn't as important as just having one. I think of it as a compass. When you get lost in your day, you can re-orient to find your North. And if you can't find your North, then just pitch a tent and hope for better weather tomorrow!

In this regard I am also not using the clock as our guide but rather the timer. Neighborhood kids usually don't get home until 4pm by the time the bus drops them off and such. But even then... I am taking each subject, while set in a time slot, and setting the timer for that allotted time. We work until the timer goes off and then we are done with that particular area for the day. I am pleased, so far (after all, we have only finished week 1), with the kids' response to this and with the peace it is bringing to our schedule. It is a challenge at times though... when I want to just keep going!

I have noticed some areas this week that will require some tweaking. Ash is learning to type this year and 2 time slots of 20 minutes each is not enough to feel successful. I am also thinking we need a bit more time than 30 minutes for math success each day. I realized that early rise is going to be a necessity as well. By early I mean 7:30/8:00 for the kids. (I'm usually up before the sun!) Some days Ash isn't rolling out of bed until 8:30 or later! By the time breakfast is consumed and chores are completed, we are all falling behind. My rationalization is that, in the real world (with some exceptions) we have to be able to get up "early" for work or college... depending on your schedule. It is good practice to discipline oneself to such a schedule now (with weekends off of course).

I have also found getting up and having breakfast with my Sophomore public schooler is going to be a key part of my day (and our relationship) this year. We have time to chat, get a hold on our schedule, and just enjoy each other's company. I let that fall to the way-side last year when I lost my bearings. I thank my Heavenly Father for showing me this critical key to keeping the relationship with my oldest son open. I pray that the time we have enjoyed together so far in the wee small hours of the morning, will continue to become something special throughout the year, and in the few years he still has left here.

Lastly, on that note, is one of my philosophies with homeschool: If you can't use it in the "real" adult world, I don't see the point in teaching it. That isn't to say that if the kids want to learn about something irrelevant to life that I won't teach... I will. But when they want to know why they need to estimate math problems or spell or write stories explaining a given topic or ideas... that is when I explain how and where they need those skills in life.

I pray all of you are finding peace in this back-to-school season. A new year of teaching with fresh and exciting possibilities ahead!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1st Day of School

We are over half-way through our "first week" of school. I started thinking about this blog on Monday, began writing it on Tuesday, and now I have about 15 minutes to finish it today!

All business aside, our first week is going well. Monday was a bit rough with B. All the work to prepare him for learning using the Davis method felt fruitless at first. I realized, about halfway through the day, that his APD was outweighing the Dyslexia at times and this had to be considered and accommodated for. After all, the first day "back" on schedule can be disorienting for anyone!

Day two blessed me with more progress where B was concerned. We went to do a writing project and I asked the kids, "What is the first step when you are going to write something?" and B instantly piped up with, "Find my orientation point!" lol He is such a sweety.

Today we are off to Homeschool Open House. This is my first year going. All the local homeschooling families are getting together at a church up in town to kick off the new school year. The kids and I are looking forward to it :-)

I pray your back to school planning/starting is finding you feeling blessed and thankful.

Happy schooling!