Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.  Despite the fact that the kids and I all came down with nasty colds, we managed to have a joyful and peaceful start to the Christmas season.

Is Santa gone yet, Mommy?
Christmas morning dawned bright and early.  Henry was excited last year, but this year he was over the moon.  He darted into our room around 6:30 to let us know that Christmas had finally arrived.  We managed to convince him to lay down for another half an hour or so to let Oliver and Jane get a little more sleep.  Then, Matt held everyone back while I went downstairs to turn on the lights, put some cinnamon rolls in the oven, and, most importantly, start the coffee.

With everyone downstairs, we said our Christmas prayer over the white candles we placed in the Advent plaque the night before, oohed and aahed over little Baby Jesus in the nativity scene, and then sneezed and coughed our way through all of the presents.

The rest of the day was spent medicating everyone, wiping noses, playing with toys, and nibbling on the ham and its accoutrements.  

Henry's assignments for the week:
  • Lesson 46 - Showing time to the hour on a clock
  • Lesson 47 - Writing money amounts to 10 cents, ordering money amounts to 10 cents
  • Lesson 48 - Paying for items to 10 cents using pennies

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Week of Advent

How did we get here already?

Our third week of Advent was certainly filled with plenty of joy.  First, I passed my three-hour glucose test on Monday morning.  I definitely did a lot of rejoicing all the way out to the parking lot from the lab.  Our biggest joy, however, came in the form of a visit from out-of-town friends.  We had a whirlwind of fun times: going out to dinner, heading down to St. Augustine (naturally), touring a Christmas light display/Santa's Workshop at a local church, and walking through a park decorated with over a hundred Christmas trees in a town just south of us.

Our Christmas wheat that we planted on December 13th?  No problems there.

I was planning on positioning our Nativity scene shepherd and lambs on the "grassy hill," but right now it would be more like a jungle.  I'll have to trim down a portion to make some space.  I'm still a little taken aback at how quickly this stuff grows.

Henry completed his last religion lesson of the season this morning, "Christmas is Jesus' Birthday."   His math for last week was fine and he passed his assessment easily.  This week, we'll complete the following lessons:
  • Lesson 43 - Acting out story problems using pennies
  • Lesson 44 - Identifying time to the hour
  • Lesson 45 - Identifying ordinal position to the fourth
Our final week of Advent is going to be spent scrubbing the house, baking a birthday cake for Jesus for Christmas dessert (I'm thinking red velvet), and just generally getting everything ready for the weekend.  I made a command decision to forgo the usual slaving away in the kitchen and opted to reserve a small ham and some sides from Honeybaked Hams.  I don't mind puttering around all day on Thanksgiving, but for Christmas it will be nice to just be able to sit back and relax and enjoy the day.

Saturday morning, we'll go get our Christmas tree and spend the afternoon decorating it and the inside of the house.  Our parish's Children's Mass is the 4:00 vigil, which will work perfectly for us.  We'll get home in time to have a light dinner and watch a Christmas movie before sending the kids to bed with visions of sugarplums and all that stuff.

Then, the fun begins!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review: BOB Books Set 1 - Beginning Readers

With Henry starting to read, we needed some more beginning reader books around the house.  The Hooked on Phonics Kindergarten level sets do come with a few books in each one, but I wanted some extra books that Henry could pull off the shelf on his own without jumping ahead in his lessons.  A quick scan of The Well-Trained Mind's resource list showed the BOB Books were highly recommended.

I ordered the first set of BOB Books, for beginning readers, and waited impatiently for them to arrive.  Once they did, I settled down with Henry and he dove right in.  The books themselves are the perfect size for preschool hands.  My only complaint is that they are printed on thin paper and the covers are about cardstock thickness.  Henry is careful with them, but there are other little hands trying to reach for them and I'll need to keep them out of reach.  This kind of defeats the purpose of having books around that Henry can grab at will.  It would have been awesome if they were printed as board books, but maybe it's a cost thing.

The twelve stories are cute.  They're short and sweet and funny.  Henry laughed out loud often.  Each book begins with a listing of the new sounds that will be covered in that book.  There are a few sight words (the, is, on) that I provided for him as he sounded out the others, but these are truly books that a beginning reader can read on their own.  The illustrations are simple, monochromatic line drawings.  They give a little hint on the corresponding sentences, but not so much that the reader just tries to make up the story based on the picture.

Other than the sturdiness of the books, my one quibble is that the font is a handwritten one instead of Times New Roman or something like that.  I suppose it goes along with the simple illustrations, but I would have liked a more standardized font.  Regardless, Henry is enjoying his new books.  He loves that he can read them and he thinks they're funny.  That's good enough for me.

- Four out of five stars due to moderately high likelihood of complete destruction by younger siblings and non-standard font

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11 - 17, 2011

Rejoice: It's the third week of Advent!

Our Jesse Tree is filling up, Advent calendar is half open, and three candles are melting down.  Advent is halfway over and we're enjoying the wait.  After Mass this morning, we put up some lights outside, hung our wreath on the front door, enjoyed some homemade hot chocolate and decorated a gingerbread house.  After dinner, we tossed the kids into the van and drove around to look at Christmas lights.  It was a fun, fun day.

Henry completed his Advent (3) worksheets this morning.  The lesson was "Joseph, Jesus' Father on Earth."  His math lessons for this week are:

  • Lesson 40 - Naming a shape piece using three attributes (shape, color, and size), identifying a missing piece in a matrix
  • Lesson 41 - Making a pictograph
  • Lesson 42 - Assessment 3 - Matching sets and numbers
I also have a big test this week: my three-hour glucose tolerance test.  I'm really hoping that I pass it.  I'm going to use the three hours of solitude in the lab to get our Christmas cards ready to mail out.  Multi-tasking!

Tuesday is the feast day of St. Lucy.  We're going to plant some Christmas wheat.  Hopefully, it sprouts and grows enough to add to our Nativity scene by Christmas day.

The O Antiphons begin on Saturday evening.  In all of the Amazon shopping, there was a little promo for MP3 credits if you opted for no-rush shipping.  I used our credits to get The Great O Antiphons.  It's absolutely beautiful and I'm happy to have it for our final weeks of Advent.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day

We had a visitor last night.

St. Nicholas made his way in and took the letters out of the kids' shoes, leaving a couple of gold chocolate coins in their places.  Henry was very excited to see the treats this morning.  The chocolates have been eaten, of course.

EWTN will be airing Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa at 4:00 PM EST today.  Since we haven't added this set to our DVD drawer yet, I appreciate EWTN taking care of it for us.

We'll also wander around the St. Nicholas Center throughout the day.  There are plenty of games, stories, coloring pages, and more for Henry to explore.  It's a great resource for celebrating good St. Nick.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4 - 10, 2011

Wow, our first week of Advent is already complete.  A watched pot never boils, but maybe the key is to have four or five pots going at once.  Between our Jesse Tree, Advent wreaths, and Advent calendar, the countdowns and daily tasks are making time fly.

We're officially on "break" now, so our weekly lesson plans are a little different.  Today, Henry completed his Advent (2) lesson from Who Am I?, "Mary Said 'Yes' to God."  His math for this week is:
  • Lesson 37 - Creating and reading an ABB color pattern
  • Lesson 38 - Identifying pennies, counting pennies
  • Lesson 39 - Matching a number card to a set of objects
And that's it!  Oliver has one speech therapy appointment this week and, of course, we're continuing with Baby Babble and Starfall for both of the little ones.

Today, we're making a batch of sugar cookies that we'll decorate with purple sprinkles.  Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Eve, so the kids will write letters/draw pictures to the Christ Child.  At bedtime, we'll roll them up and put them in their shoes at the foot of their beds.  St. Nicholas will come to pick up their letters and leave behind a treat.  I guess, really, Henry will write a letter and Oliver and Jane will scribble haphazardly on a piece of paper and wonder why they wake up to chocolate in their shoes.  But, that's how you make a tradition, right?

The 8th is the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  We'll color this printable from Waltzing Matilda

And that is our week!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Week in Review: Art is complete!

Our last week of instruction before our Advent semi-break is now complete.  Today, Henry finished up his last art lesson from Draw*Write*Now Book 1.  Last week, he drew the Three Bears of Goldilock fame.  Today, he drew the Gingerbread Boy.

After completing the first book in the series, I think we can give it a thumbs up.  The course definitely teaches how to break down a subject into simple shapes, how to plan your drawing, and how to add backgrounds.  I don't think Henry is ready to move to the next book in the series, though.  There are some pretty complex pictures in that one right from the start.  I think we'll stick with the plan of having him revisit some of the pictures from this book, complete more freehand work, and work on his coloring skills with pre-drawn pages.  For the next book, I'm not going to bother with getting the official D*W*N workbook, either.  Regular paper is just fine for this.

Oliver's speech therapy continues to go well.  Next week, he has last appointment under his current referral authorization.  His therapist created his progress report to send to our pediatrician and insurance company and she is requesting approval for additional sessions.  I still haven't heard anything regarding the ABA therapy recommendation from his developmental pediatrician.  We have an appointment with our regular pediatrician in a couple of weeks, so I'll bring it up then.

In the meantime, I just happen to have a good friend who is an ABA therapist!  She recommended purchasing a VB-MAPP set so I can assess Oliver myself and begin some interventions on our own.  This is the same resource her facility uses to assess children and create their plans.  I'm going to hold off on it until after our appointment, but if it looks like the therapy is going to be a no-go, this will be ordered right away so I can begin using it at home.

Jane is walking like a champ.  She's also finally saying "mama" and she's added "thank you," although it sounds more like "day doo."  She only says it when I give her something, though, so I'm pretty sure that's what she means.