Friday, August 31, 2012

Our First Big Week of Home School - By Catholic Mommy

1. The Mighty Wrench of School - What a crazy week. I have been working really hard this week.  Mainly,  all the hard work has been from adding first grade home school to our regular work load.  Now I know why home schoolers do not get out every day like I am accustomed to.  If you go out too much, it really throws a wrench in getting school done.

2.  My Sanity - That being said I am very selfish about my gym time.  I must go every morning, six days a week to feel sane.  The kids love it too.  When we do not go, they ask me if we can go.  They have a kids play area and they have friends that show up regularly too.  As their friends get older and go off to school, I can imagine that the gym might become less fun for them.  When that time comes, I guess we will have to adjust how mommy gets exercise.  

3. The Clayton Bears and Too Much Play Dates - I scheduled two play dates for the end of the week.  I did not mean to have two.  By Thursday morning, the kids seemed like they needed to see some close friends and have a good play.  So I called one family and they did not answer.  Then I called another and they could meet us that morning.  Later, the other family called back, and I love them too and could not say, "Oh the reason I called, well, never mind we already played."

Thursday I skipped the gym and we finished home school early and went off to play by the late morning.  Then the next morning I went to the gym and then we went to another play date.  We only completed our spelling test in the afternoon (Alex aced it) and then everyone was exhausted and we took naps, which is highly unusual for us.  So long story short, I think we are definitely going to have to limit play dates.

4. What Alex Learned - Alex complained bitterly about his home school lessons every day this week.  But, he seemed to settle into them better by the end of the week.  On Thursday night, Daddy asked Alex about what he was learning, to which he responded, "I am learning that if I don't complain so much about doing my home school, it does not take as long to do it."  

"Say what, Child?! Thank you! Yes!" If that is the only thing he learned all week, I am happy.  It will be a much better year if he learns to just dig in, learn it, like it or not, and get 'er done.

5.  What Mom Learned - I am learning how to tailor this program to my family.  I think the materials are great, but they are a little on the dry side.  So I need to find more ways to be prepared and bring it all to life.  Alex hates handwriting bitterly.  He says it is too much work for his hand.  I believe him, but I also tell him that it will hurt less the more he practices. I try to go easy on him.  But, he really does need the practice.  He's a little ahead in math and he seems to do it with ease.  He's a typical boy in that sense.  We also have lots engineers in the family, so maybe he will take after them.  He is way ahead in reading, so I think I will be upgrading to the second grade curriculum at the semester.  He could probably do it now, but I want him to ease into home schooling.  Say what you will about "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons."  I think it is great.  My four year old could not sit still and did not know the alphabet well, but by five he had finished the book and could read second grade level books before kindergarten.  I have heard other mothers poo-poo it for various reasons, but I found their reasons superficial.  I just followed along as scripted in the book and it worked.  I highly recommend it.  I will start Kristiana on it in January.

6.  What Annie Learned - Well, she had two poops and two pees on purpose all week and the rest of the week she had lots of accidents, but, little by little.  Maybe she will learn it by the time her second birthday comes.  She is not doing too bad, but she is not doing too well either.  She's going to learn it in spite of me, not because of me.

7. How Tough It Is to be Little - Lucy is becoming a momma's baby.  She does not want to be alone and only wants me to hold her.  I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that her siblings always bother her and are rough with her when she is put down to play.  She has been crying and screaming a lot lately.  She has not been sleeping through the night as well.  It does not help matters that I have been burning the candle on both ends a lot this week.  I cannot do that anymore.  Despite all her turmoil lately, she is the happiest baby we have ever had.  All we have to do is look at her and she starts smiling and giggling.  


Happy Byzantine New Year!

"Maker of the Universe, O Lord who alone have power over the seasons and times: bless this year with your bounty, preserve our country in safety, keep your people in peace, through the prayers of the Mother of God, and save us."

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog Silence = Reality Commotion

It's been a while, but I have been BUSY.  We had to put our lives back together after our summer away.  Then we prepped for beginning our first year enrolled in an official home school program.

I had an early birthday bash with me sister in Wyoming.  My sister treated me to see our favorite band in concert.  

The kids and I met up with some other Catholic home schoolers last week.  

We have visited with a lot of people since we have been home.  I guess distance makes the heart grow fonder.

We finally cancelled the cable.  I have been talking about doing it for years, but it has always been a disagreement.  We still watch our DVDs.  It's been a good thing.  The kids watch a lot less T.V.  But, so far we adults have not watched less.  We have been watching Inspector Lewis in the evenings.

I have begun trying to potty train Annie.  I do not think I am a very good potty teacher.  I get too distracted and forget, or take them at the wrong times.  That being said, Annie has gone #2 on the toilet two consecutive days.  Now if I could only help her have success with a #1.

We began home school on Monday.  I spent three days prepping lessons.  Kristiana is beginning preschool lessons too.  She got very jealous today when I was trying to finish lessons today with Alex.  I try to include her in it, but she did not want to join in for these lessons.  She said she was tired, but would not go rest. Blech--Grumpy tots.

Alex has been giving me hell over doing his lessons the past two days. He will do them to earn time playing computer games and play with his legos, but he will bellyache about it the whole way.  It's not hard work and it is not uninteresting.  He just doesn't want to do anything we tell him to do 

I must find some way to make this fun.  I guess this next weekend as I prep the lessons I am going to find some exciting way to present the material--like with glitter, paint, clay, songs, pizzazz.

Does anyone else have a contradictory home school child? What do you do for them?  I am not giving up on him.  I see that he is bright and capable.  Though he complains all the way through, he does his work and does it well.  Home school is not bliss for us, but I am sure this is all worth it.  

First Day of Home School

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New Lego Blocks to Play with after School

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Andrew Made us a Chalkboard (Alex's Pop Quiz)

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Monday, August 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes - To Climb Great Heights

1. Lately, and more and more these days, the internet overwhelms me.  There is such a wealth of information.  Not all of it is correct and not all of it is useful to me.  Somehow I must wade through it all.  It makes me want to not participate.  However, if I quit then I will be missing out on what is changing the world about us and I will be left behind.  I do not want to be that granny whose grandkids smile and sigh, "Oh Gran, you're so behind the times.  Why don't you take a class at the community college and get with it."

2. I have been watching the Olympics in a limited capacity and I think to myself, "I will never be the best at anything."  I would love to be the best at something once in my life.  Do you ever feel that way? But, I don't think I have it in me.  I think it is best to live a life of moderation--complacency, if you will.  But I would like it if one day someone looked at my additions to the world and said, "Look at that woman. She has changed the world for the better.  She did what no one else could."  

3.  When I dream the aforementioned it is almost always followed by exasperations, "This is not what makes us holy! Is not holiness (the ultimate good) our goal?"  The Olympians live extreme lives and while this is good for achieving the height of their sport, it is only useful for sport--useful once every 4 years.  Life would be so empty if our sole purpose were to create and achieve such fleeting things.  I am sure this is an overly simple argument.  I know that more can be argued in favor of Olympic sport.

4. Devotion - I am about to begin devoting more time to Icon writing.  I just need to.  I am called to it again and again.  This school year I plan to teach Kristiana icons as I did with Alex (see Alex's icons).  I may even offer a lesson or two to friends' children.  I fear the chaos of teaching many children, but I think it would be good for all.  Do you agree?

5. The Icon below, "Not of Human Hands,"  It is the first icon, image of Christ, made by Christ.  I wrote it as an exercise in icon writing.  I do not have my icon writing tools, but I still long to pray and lose myself in the image of God.  It was freehand with a children's watercolor set and colored pencils on paper.  I sat down to make a thank you notecard for friends and I could not turn my mind away from this image and therefore, God became the thank you.


6. Tranquillity of Spirit - I have been reading a book called, Praying With Icons.  I have been pleasantly surprised by it's accessible depth.  I have read other books on icons before.  Most are heavy on history and some do not explain enough.  Anyhow, this one has already had me feeling deeply for icons and connecting with God twice just from the introduction and first chapter.  It includes Orthodox daily prayers in the appendix.  I pray a version of these prayers daily, but these ones were worded a little differently and got me thinking.  Instead of praying for "peace of soul," it was phrased, "tranquility of spirit." …Tranquility of Spirit?  Yes, this is something I long for throughout my days.  What is it? I think it is when you know God is all about you. It is something we all want--peace. If you do not have this inner peace, you cannot be close to God.  And if you don't have inner peace, it is not because God has not given it to you.  There must be something that hinders it.  Root out what hinders your inner peace.  

7. Leap of Faith - In response to not abiding by the tenants of our faith (not that I am without sin): Faith is always a leap! Faith is a leap into the unknown and one must have faith, that the leap will not result in one's demise, that when we land there will be a savior.  That is God.  Why should it be a leap to God?  Because there is a great deal that is unknown to the limited human mind.  So leap and follow those tenants, even though you think you cannot possibly leap for fear of falling.  If it is God's law, God will catch you.