Friday, December 14, 2012

December 9-15, 2012 + Third Week of Advent

What we did this week:


  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 74-77 (writing the number 67, adding two-digit numbers; writing the number 68, adding two-digit numbers; writing the number 69, addition facts - showing doubles plus one facts; writing the number 70, addition facts - identifying the doubles plus one facts)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 125-128 (the vowel pair EA as /ě/, short vowel words that end with a silent e, O alone as /ŭ/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 40-47 (writing numerals, writing number sentences)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 12-15 (ending x, k, p; lesson 6-12 review; short vowel a; short vowel i)
  • Who Am I?: Second Week of Advent (Mary Said "Yes" to God)
The Our Lady of Guadalupe fiesta was a success:

The kids had a grand old time eating doughnut holes and beating up on the paper bag piñata.  We followed it up with an evening drive to look at Christmas lights on the feast of St. Lucy.  We did not get to the braided cinnamon rolls.  Maybe next year!


Oliver had a great week.  His therapist reported that he used over 430 independent mands over his four sessions.

Jane and Peter

The same!


It's Gaudete Sunday this weekend and we move into our pink candle and paper chain links.  The Nativity is fast approaching and I'm getting really excited.  This year, we have three kids who are old enough to either be buzzing with joy or at least happy with Christmas.  It's going to be very festive on Christmas morning.

We begin the O Antiphons on Monday evening.  I have our golden ornaments ready to go. I'm going to put this album on my Kindle so we can listen and sing along with the appropriate verse each night. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 2 - 8, 2012 + Second Week of Advent

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 71-73 (writing the number 64, tallying, counting by 5s; writing the number 65, using a ruler to draw a line segment; writing the number 66, sorting common items)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 122-124 (the vowel pair OY as /oi/; the vowel pair OI as /oi/; review words with /ou/ or /oi/ sound)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 34-39 (writing numerals)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 9-11 (beginning and ending l, d, n; beginning and ending w, c, r; beginning v, y, z, qu)
  • Who Am I?: First Week of Advent
We celebrated St. Nicholas Eve and Day with Christmas letters in shoes, gold coins in the morning, and a St. Nicholas puppet a la  Here's Henry and his version:

St. Nicholas and St. Patrick had quite a few adventures together this week.


We had a brief setback with Oliver this week as he began having longer stretches of sleep disturbances again.  After a five hour stint during the wee hours of Monday morning, we called in and canceled his therapy session for the day and made an appointment with the pediatrician instead.  He sent us on our way with a new prescription for Zyrtec, suspecting that seasonal allergies may be playing a role in his nighttime distress.  Happily, the medicine seems to have helped as Oliver actually slept through the night a few times this week.  Last night, he had a short episode, but it wasn't too bad.

Otherwise, he had a good week in therapy.  Since we missed Monday, I didn't get a monthly report from the therapist in charge of his plan.  Hopefully, I'll hear from her next week.


Starfalling.  Her new name for herself is "A Girl."  She knows everybody's name, but won't say her own now.  After two boys who were late talkers (with Oliver still nonverbal), I'm constantly surprised by what comes out of Jane's mouth.  The first morning after we put up our Advent decorations, she came downstairs and said accusingly, "Hey! What's going on?  Where's the candle?" I'd moved our Paschal candle off our little table to make room for the Jesse Tree and Advent candle holder.  Apparently, I should have cleared that with her first.  Or, the other night, as Matt was getting her dressed for bed, she was laying on the counter, staring up at the twinkle lights I'd hung around the mirror in the bathroom, and sighed and said, "I'm so happy."

I'm glad, kiddo.


Rolling about, blowing raspberries, and still giving stirring orations to his hands while trying to eat his feet.


The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is on Wednesday and I'm planning on a batch of chicken tortilla soup and a flan or two.  The popup book I linked to last week is in the Amazon cart, ready to order.  I'm still thinking over getting a pinata.  The more I think about Henry blindly swinging a stick, the more I hesitate.

I wasn't planning on doing much this year for St. Lucy's feast day on the 13th, but then I read this post on Catholic Icing and thought, "hey, we can swing that."  So, braided cinnamon rolls in the morning (with candles) and a trip around the nearby neighborhoods to see Christmas lights it is.  I think we'll get everybody bathed and in pajamas before we head out, just to keep them all on schedule.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November 24 - December 1, 2012 + First Sunday of Advent

What we did this week:


  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 67-70 (writing the number 61, dividing a square into halves; writing the number 62, subtracting half of a number; writing the number 69, graphing pieces used to cover a design; written assessment 13 and oral assessment 7)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 118-121 (A alone before L as /ô/, A alone after W as /ô/; review of words with the /ô/ sound; the vowel pair OW as /ou/; the vowel pair OU as /ou/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 21-31 (forward circle lines, slant lines, keys to legibility: shape, size, spacing, slant)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 5-8 (ending sounds and letters; beginning and ending s, t, b; beginning and ending h, m, p, k; beginning and ending j, f, g)
  • Who Am I?: Lesson 5 (Love Others as God Loves You)

Keeping on keeping on.  We should receive his report for November tomorrow.  His senior therapist was really excited about the progress he's made on the VB-MAPP, so I'm looking forward to seeing the data.


Talking, talking, talking.  She's still trying to pick out letters, so we'll keep up with Starfall and see what happens.


Will be six months old in less than two weeks and that is completely impossible because it has not been half a year since that kid was born!


We are ready!

Stable in place

Jesse Tree, Advent Calendar, Candles

Mary, Joseph, and the donkey ready to start their journey

Good Deeds Manger for the kids (from

Paper chain countdown

The only thing left to do is hang our purple and pink lights in the windows.  And play the heck out of this album.  Good Advent to you!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 18-23, 2012 + Advent Approaches

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a pretty full house, as we hosted some of the guys from Matt's command who stayed in town for the holiday.  Their assistance has helped us not have two weeks worth of leftovers to plow through, thank goodness.  All of the turkey is actually used up already, as I turned it into one of the best gumbos ever, using this recipe.  It was seriously awesome, full credit going to the creator of the recipe since I pretty much added nothing extra except a little sprinkle of Tony Chachere's creole seasoning.

It feels like this has been said a lot lately: we didn't do too much this week.  Again, I'm thankful for the head start we got in the summer.  On the other hand, it seems that most school systems are now off for the whole week of Thanksgiving, so I shouldn't feel so bad.  Where was this philosophy when I was in school?

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 65-66 (writing the number 59, winter; writing the number 60, writing money amounts using the cent symbol, paying for items using dimes and pennies)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 116-117 (the vowel pair AW as /ô/; the vowel pair AU as /ô/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 1-20 (review, vertical lines, horizontal lines, backward circle lines)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 1-4 (sounds and letters A-N; sounds and letters O-Z; beginning sounds and letters)
 The tersa sphinx moth caterpillar is still eating and eating... and eating.  The monarch butterfly chrysalises are starting to show some of the adult coloration inside.  I think they should emerge this week.


Ollie had a good week in therapy.  Nothing really new to report, but he's doing well.


All of a sudden, Jane's vocabulary has exploded.  Crazy exploded.  She's picking up new words right and left, using complete sentences, etc.  Now, if only she could enunciate well.  If you're not listening carefully, it all sounds like gibberish.  Once you focus, though, it's fairly easy to understand what she's saying.  When we clarify her sentences, she's able to repeat them back with much better form, so we'll continue modeling for her and hope that her speech improves naturally.  Our pediatrician once said that Henry's speech issues had more to do with the complexity of what he was saying than anything else.  I think Jane is going to be the same way.


Peter is quite the happy baby, especially when he can play with his feet.  He's almost rolling all the way over now; it will probably be any day.

And now... ONE WEEK UNTIL ADVENT! Okay, pull up a chair.  Here's our plan for this year:


I ordered this advent calendar about a month or so ago.  It's pretty big.  They're not kidding when they say it's a jumbo calendar.  Our mail carrier did her very best to cram it into our mailbox, despite the fact that it was shipped with a stiff piece of cardboard in the package.  And despite the fact that the majority of it was hanging out of the mailbox because it's about twice as large as the mailbox.  And despite the fact that the mailer had "DO NOT FOLD" stamped all over it.


So, it's been pressed under canned goods for a couple of weeks to get the big fold out and is now hanging up in the storeroom until it takes its place of honor over our little Advent table.


Jesse Tree Ornaments - Rustic Wooden - Deep Blue
Last year, we printed out ornaments from the Diocese of Erie.  They were lovely, but I really wanted to get something more permanent, ones that we could use every year.  So, I turned to Etsy and I found a marvelous little Catholic shop called Jesse Tree Treasures.  (For the record, I will probably be buying everything she makes eventually.)  I snapped up a set of her Jesse Tree ornaments and I am so happy that I did because they are truly beautiful and will be enjoyed for years to come.

The set comes with ivory cord for stringing and cards that have the scripture reference and devotion for each day.  There are 28 ornaments in all.  Since we have such a short Advent season this year (only 23 days), I'll have to pick five ornaments to stay in the box.  Sniff, sniff.


O Antiphons - Golden OrnamentsFrom the same Etsy store, I also got a set of ornaments for the O Antiphons. Jesse Tree Treasures doesn't seem to have them in stock right now, but I'm hoping they continue making them.  They are beautiful and I love that they have the scripture reference and meaning right on the backs.  It certainly makes it easier for our little ceremony to have everything self-contained.


Or plaque.  I'm never sure what to call our little candle holder.  The important thing is that I already have the pink and purple candles, so we're ready to go.  We're really going to reinforce the purple and pink this year with some additional Advent "wreaths."  On the 1st, the day before Advent begins, we're going to make a countdown paper chain from purple and pink construction paper.  Our other big thing is that we're going to make our house an Advent wreath!  We have four upstairs windows that face the street, all in a row.  I got three strands of purple lights and one strand of pink.  Each Sunday, we'll light the appropriate windows.  We may get some funny looks over our "Christmas" decorations, but it's the New Evangelization, baby!


The feast days we're planning on celebrating this year are:

December 5th/6th - St. Nicholas Eve and Day: The kids will write/draw their Christmas lists, tuck them in their shoes at the foot of their beds, and get their chocolate gold coins in the morning.

December 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Coloring sheets and a family rosary

December 12th - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: We're going to have a fiesta! Mexican food and sweets and a pinata for the kiddos.  I'm definitely getting this book to read.  It's a pop up!


I'm happy to say that I beat my First Sunday of Advent deadline for Christmas shopping again this year. Other than a few things that need to be ordered and shipped directly to out-of-town family, our Angel Tree child, and sending out cards, all of our gifts are already in St. Nicholas's safekeeping.

I dread the day when "beans" is no longer an acceptable answer to the question of, "Mommy, what's in that box?"

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 11-17, 2012

What we did this week:


  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 61-64 (writing the number 56, comparing length, measuring length using nonstandard units; writing the number 56, subtracting zero, subtracting a number from itself; writing the number 57, writing the numbers 0-10 using words; writing the number 58, identifying pairs)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 112-115 (Review of words with the long /oo/ sound; the vowel pair OO as short /oo/; U alone as short /oo/ and sight words could, would, should; review of words with the short and long OO vowel sound )
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 140-142 (writing a weather report, drawing pictures and writing words about the picture)
We have come to the end of Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten.  That was quick.  I was going to wait a while to start Henry on the next level, but lately he's been seeing how small he can form his letters.  He calls it doing "grown-up writing."  And the smaller he makes them, the better his penmanship is.  So, we're going to go ahead and start Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1 next week.

We've also come to the point in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading where it's recommended we begin a spelling program.  So, next week we'll have our first lesson from Spelling Workout A.  Henry's been sneaking peeks at the workbook for the last month and he's pretty excited to finally start.

In caterpillar news, the tersa sphinx moth caterpillar is still a caterpillar.  It's still happily eating away, so that's fine.  However, the monarch butterfly caterpillars have both entered the chrysalis phase!  Check out this crazy video of one of them spinning off its caterpillar skin (and don't mind the sounds of Godzilla the cartoon and Peter in the background):

Henry was really excited to see it happen in real life.  The other caterpillar did its thing while we were sleeping.  We should have butterflies emerging in the next week or two.  I hope it's during the day so we can see the whole thing.


Oliver had a pretty good week at therapy.  When I picked him up today, we were discussing some tantrums he was having at table time and his therapist mentioned they were happening while he was doing sorting.  What?  Sorting?  Oh, yes.  Apparently, Oliver is sorting all kinds of things by color and shape at the table!  I guess all that time on colors at accomplished something.  Needless to say, I was really happy to hear that little tidbit.  The next time that Matt has a day off on a therapy day, I'm going to stay at the center for an hour or so to see Oliver and this therapist in action.  I want to get a better idea of how they work with him so I can make sure we're being consistent at home.

We saw a couple new independent behaviors this week, too, mainly around Oliver's bedtime routine.  He's started "helping" us brush his teeth.  He also is moving our hands to make the Sign of the Cross instead of us moving his hand when we say his prayers.  Little things, but it's still progress.


We did lots of letter work on Starfall this week.  She's definitely interested in learning all of the names of the letters.  She continues to (repeatedly) tell us the color of anything and everything that catches her eye.  She also is really big on naming everyone right now.  Dinnertime is interesting, to say the least, as she will send a good portion of the meal pointing at everyone and saying our names.  "Daddy!  Mommy! Heh-ree! Awlie! See-tah!"  Then, she points at herself.  At the beginning of the week, she was exclaiming, "MEEEE," but now she's saying her name instead. "DAAAAANE."  Close enough.


Dear sweetie is no longer eating at night, but he's still waking up once or twice to say hello.  I'm hoping he realizes it's much more interesting and awesome to just sleep.  He's very happy, though, and does plenty of babbling.  He gives five minute speeches to his hands and feet throughout the day, all with a very stern and serious look on his face.

Next week is Thanksgiving and then we're only one week away from Advent!  I've been making lists and checking them twice and all of that.  We're all really looking forward to moving out of green and into purple.  We've got plenty of activities planned and I'll be posting all about it, of course.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 4-10, 2012

What we did this week:


  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 57-60 (writing the number 52, adding two to an even number; writing the number 53, adding two to an odd number; writing the number 54, covering a design with pattern blocks, sorting/counting/recording the pattern blocks used to cover a design; written assessment #11, oral assessment #6)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 108-111 (U plus a silent E as /oo/, single O as /oo/; the vowel pair UE as /oo/; the vowel pair EW as /oo/; the vowel pair UI as /oo/ )
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 136-139 (writing sentences, writing a note, writing an invitation)
The caterpillars are all still alive, thank goodness.  The monarch butterfly ones molted again and moved into the fifth (and final) instar phase.  The tersa sphinx moth just keeps eating and growing. Maybe next week?


That blue line really says it all.  Those are his independent mands and you can see that the trend is up.  The red line for the full prompts (when his therapist is moving Oliver's hands for him) is jumpy because he started "scrolling," or rapidly cycling through all of the mands he knows when requesting something.  Each time he does that, we hold his hands still for 10 seconds, then fully prompt the correct mand.  It's pretty common for this to start happening when they figure out that manding gets them things.  We'll just keep working on it at the center and at home. 


Still lots of shapes and colors beanbags and

I think he may be getting close to dropping his 0200 feeding.  Maybe.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

October 28 - November 3, 2012

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 54-56 (writing the number 49, identifying one half and one fourth; writing the number 50, identifying odd and even numbers; writing the number 51, numbering a clock face, drawing time to the hour on a clock)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 105-107 (review of the long-u vowel pairs and patterns; the vowel pair OO as /oo/; the vowel pair OU as /oo/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 131-135 (writing numerals, writing number words, writing words)
  • Henry's doing at least one lesson per day.  At this rate, I think he'll finish the whole thing before our free trial runs out!
We're continuing our daily reading from The Illustrated Lives of the Saints.  I haven't been pushing our Who Am I? lessons because there aren't many in the book.  We'll probably do at least two this month before Advent begins.

In science news, our tersa sphinx moth caterpillar still lives!

It's kind of hard to make it out in the picture, but it's there.  Caterpillars go through phases called "instars" as they approach their metamorphosis.  This one has molted once already and gotten much bigger with darker markings.  We're adding fresh food each day.  Fortunately, its host plant is an abundant weed in our yard.

We added another couple of caterpillars to the collection today.  Last week, Henry picked some pretty red flowers for me.  I stuck them in a cup on the countertop to keep.  Today, Matt noticed there were two little caterpillars clinging to the bare stalks.  Apparently, there were some eggs on the scarlet milkweed flowers and they hatched.  We now have two monarch butterfly caterpillars in the fourth instar phase!

At this point, these guys can eat one leaf an hour, so Matt and Henry went to the garden center to pick up a milkweed plant.  We've got them set up in our butterfly habitat and we'll keep any eye on them there.  I noticed about seven more eggs on the leaves of the plant, so we'll watch those too and see if we can spot them earlier in the life cycle.

What I would like to do is have Henry compare the metamorphoses of the moth caterpillar and butterfly caterpillars.  If we can get to it this week, I'd like him to draw a picture of the leaves of each caterpillar's host plant, along with a picture of the caterpillars themselves.  I'm hoping that both species will move into their pupa/chrysalis phases around the same time, but we'll just wait and see.  Either way, it will be fun to watch them both.


Oliver did well this week in therapy.  The center arranged a trick-or-treat expedition to the surrounding businesses on Halloween day, so he got to wear his costume there and get a practice run.  His therapist said he did really well.  We certainly saw that he knew what to do later that evening when we took the kids out for candy.  His only issues were that he didn't want to skip any houses and he kept wanting to go inside of the ones we went to!


Jane is starting to pick out letters.  She confuses a lot of them (she'll say "w" when she sees a "u" and "u" when she sees a "q," for instance), but she's figured out that each one has a name.  Time to ramp up the letter section on


Peter has been finicky and fussy this week, which leads me to believe he's about to hit another growth spurt.  Thank goodness for hand-me-downs.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 21-27, 2012

Back on track!

What we did this week

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 50-53 (Written assessment 9 and oral assessment 5; writing the number 46, identifying and locating numbers on the hundred number chart; writing the number 47, counting dimes and pennies; writing the number 48, counting by 10s and 2s)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 101-104 (O alone as /ō/; review of the long-o vowel pairs and patterns; the vowel pair UE as /ū/; the vowel pair EW as /ū/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 123-128 (17, 18, 19, 20, review 1-20, writing your name, writing the letters you know, writing your address)
  • The Magician's Nephew: finished listening to chapter 9
We have a new love that has replaced, although Starfall is still number one for Oliver and Jane.  Henry has moved on to  We're on day two of a 70-day free trial and Henry is very excited about "getting" to do a lesson each day.  If his enthusiasm keeps up, I think we'll go ahead and sign up for a year's membership.

Henry's also been on a Frog and Toad kick lately, so we've been reading those at bedtime each night.  Additionally, we've been reading each day from our Illustrated Lives of the Saints.  It's religion and geography rolled in one, since we use our wall map to locate all of the places mentioned in each saint's biography.  It's also another opportunity for Henry to hear writing that's above his reading level.


Oliver has made a lot of progress this week with following directions and anticipating activities.  Whereas before we would need to guide him from activity to activity, he is now anticipating what comes next in our routine and taking it upon himself to head that way.  For instance, I'll say, "time for lunch," and he goes downstairs on his own and heads to the kitchen.  Or, he sees me making his lunch and instead of clinging to my leg as if I don't know he's hungry, he walks over to his chair, pulls it out, climbs up, then waits pretty patiently for his meal.  Today, I had him finishing breakfast while I put his things in the car to take him to therapy.  Usually, I have to go back in and take his hand and bring him to the car.  Today, he snuck up behind me, climbed in the van, and got into his seat on his own (and looked pretty pleased with himself, too).  When we got to the center, he walked to the door on his own and, while I was handing his therapist his backpack and lunch, headed down the hall to his therapy room on his own.

So, quite a bit more independent behavior this week!


No big leaps this week.  We're still working on shapes.


4 months old and filling out 9 months clothes.  And lots of laughing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 14-20, 2012

We're still trying to get back in gear after a challenging first half of the month.  We took an extra day off this week to spend some time with Daddy, then got back to work.

What we did last week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 47-49 (writing the number 43, counting by 2s; writing the number 44, telling time to the hour; writing the number 45, identifying even numbers to 20)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 98-100 (the vowel pair OA as /ō/; the vowel pair OW as /ō/, sight word: was; the vowel pair OE as /ō/, sight word: shoe)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 117-122 (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

Ollie is chugging along in therapy.  He's got quite a few signs now: pretzel, cracker, car, train, music, up, banana, and milk, among others.  He's starting to play along when we sing songs like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Wheels on the Bus."  I'm also seeing a lot more of him following one-step directions, things like "let's go to the potty" or "it's time for bath" will get him right up and headed to the bathroom.

His big thing right now is putting the Hooked on Phonics pre-K DVD into the computer and having me get it playing so he can watch all of the different letter songs.  We're doing a lot of that.


Jane is right there with Oliver, watching Hooked on Phonics.  She can point out O and E, but everything else gets called A or B.  We're still working on shapes.  She can draw a circle, but won't point one out.  She calls them all "moon" instead.  She likes stars, too.


The blessed angel child slept through the night for the first time this weekend.  And when I say slept through the night, I mean that I put him down at 8:00 and he didn't wake up until 7:19 the following morning!  He didn't duplicate that feat the next night, but I am seriously heartened and hopeful that he'll throw at least one of those in the mix each week.

New "pet"

We found this specimen while cleaning up our woefully neglected garden beds.  I had a hard time identifying what it was, but I am very fortunate to have a cousin who is friends with an entomologist who enjoys getting random pictures of insects sent over for identification.  This is a tersa sphinx moth caterpillar and we're going to try very hard to keep it alive and kicking through it's metamorphosis.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Since before Peter was born, I've been doing a lot of praying for patience.  Wiser heads are shaking after reading that sentence.  When one prays for patience, one usually receives not the ability to beatifically smile during chaos, but the chaos during which one practices smiling beatifically.  Coming to the end of a pregnancy while caring for three young children and a very busy husband certainly gave me lots of practice, but I wasn't very successful.  Instead, I found myself wallowing in self-pity ("I'm tired."  "I don't have much time for myself."  "My day never ends." etc., ad nauseum) and this has only increased over the past couple of months.

Apparently, I just needed a bigger test.  So, here's my foolproof method of realizing how good you've actually got it.
  1. Have your husband schedule a two-week trip.
  2. Three days prior to his leaving, have everyone in the house catch a bad cold.
  3. The day he leaves, have one child's cold morph into a stomach bug.
  4. Have that child pass the bug to another child.
  5. Have that child pass the bug to another child.
  6. Have that child pass the bug to another child.
  7. Realize that it's been over ten days and your own cold has steadily gotten worse.
  8. Get diagnosed with a sinus infection.
  9. Get a flat tire on the only vehicle large enough to fit all of the children.
And at the end of all that, I realized that we did pretty okay.  Sure, there were plenty of pajama days.  There were days when the three littlest were in diapers all day.  Yes, we ate more than a couple frozen pizzas.  We watched quite a few DVDs and did a lot of laundry.  We didn't do much school, but weeks like those were part of why we switched to a year-round schedule anyway.

It was while I was doing a mini-reorganization of the kitchen that I realized I'm doing a mini-reorganization of the kitchen. Things can't be too bad.  And they really weren't, despite it all.  After dealing with the past two weeks, taking care of four healthy kids with my husband home and helping will be a walk in the park.

What we managed to get done from October 1st through October 13th, 2012:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lesson 46 (writing the number 42, completely skipped the entire lesson on measuring cups and just did the drills and worksheet)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lesson 97 (review of the long-i vowel pairs and patterns, sight word: buy)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 115-116 (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Listened to a few more chapters of our audiobook, The Magician's Nephew.

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 23-29, 2012

Good week for school.  Not so good week for health.  We're passing a stubborn cold back and forth, so this will be brief.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 42-45 (writing the number 38, covering a design in different ways; writing the number 39, counting by 10s to 100; writing the number 40, subtraction facts - subtracting one; Written assessment #8, writing the number 41, counting dimes)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 93-96 (review of the long-e vowel pairs; the vowel pair IE as /ī/, Y alone as /ī/; Y plus a silent E as /ī/, sight word: eye; I alone as /ī/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 107-114 (XKZ review, uppercase and lowercase alphabet, punctuation marks: periods and commas, review of punctuation and writing a sentence)

Another great week with 90%+ of his total mands above full prompt!  This week, his therapist also began working with him on imitation skills and listener responding.  Next week, we switch to a three day per week schedule.  I think he'll be just fine with it.


Not too much progress on shapes this week.  Her colors are still 100%.  I'm mainly using various shape sorters as teaching tools.  When I use our shapes beanbags, she's very focused on the color instead of the shape.  She does much better with a different kind of toy altogether.


Poor Pete is sick this week, too.  He's also wearing socks on his hands because he won't stop scratching his head.  He looks like a cat attacked his forehead right now, despite the fact that I'm clipping his nails as short as I can get them each night.  I hope this phase passes quickly. 


Saturday is the feast of the Archangels.  Last year, we did a coloring page.  This year, I thought about making an angel food cake, but none of us really like it.  So, instead I'm going to make a devil's food cake and add a St. Michael cake topper.  Works for me!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 16-22, 2012

This week, we got a pretty big break.  Oliver's therapy center had a two-day conference, so he had two extra days at home.  That meant three days of not having to get up early to get him out the door on time.  It was pretty nice, honestly.  His time there is worth the inconvenience, though.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 39-41 (writing the number 36, weighing objects using nonstandard units; Written Assessment 7, Oral Assessment 4; writing the number 37, addition facts - adding zero)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 90-92 (the vowel pair EA as /ē/; review the vowel pair EA, sight words: do and who; the vowel pair IE as /ē/, sight word: friend)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 101-106 (Xx, Kk, Zz)
We are quickly approaching the end of the kindergarten-level handwriting workbook.  At our current pace, I'd say Henry has another four to five weeks of pages to do.  Now, the first grade handbook is still manuscript, but the letter formation is smaller.  I think he'd be able to handle it, but I don't want to rush him.  I think we'll switch over to light copywork each day when he's done with the current book.  I have plenty of kindergarten writing paper for him to practice on, so I can just pull a sentence from a favorite book and have him practice his handwriting that way.

Henry is also about six weeks away from the point in OPGTR where it's recommended to begin a spelling program.  I do think he'll be ready to start Spelling Workout A at that point. It's a very gentle progression; the first 12 lessons only deal with letter sounds and beginning and ending sounds of words.

Based on all of this, our school "day" should look like this by mid-November:

Saxon Math 1 - 30 minutes (or one lesson) per day
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - 10 minutes per day
Spelling Workout A - 10 minutes per day
Handwriting/copywork - 10 minutes per day

Additionally, Henry will do at least a half hour of independent reading at or below his instructional level each day.  He'll also listen to stories above his level for at least a half hour per day, either read by me or from our growing audiobook collection.

If he continues at this pace and if he continues to demonstrate mastery, we'll be starting First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 1 sometime around mid-January.  At that point, I'll need to assess Henry's language arts ability as a whole and see if he's ready to take on the complete Well-Trained Mind recommendations for level 1.  Will he, at roughly 5 1/2 years old, be ready for this?
And, if he is ready for that, we'll probably go ahead and start easing in to history (the Ancients) and science (animals, the human body, and plants) with our chosen programs of RC History and Elemental Science. Exciting times are ahead!


As I stated above, Oliver only had two days of therapy this week.  Both days were good ones, though.  At least 90% of his mands were above full prompt during both sessions and his problem behavior was minimal.  At home, he's still signing for pretzels independently, and for bananas and crackers with minimal prompting.  This morning, he manded milk independently too!


Jane has her colors down, thank you very much! Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, white, black, and pink - all easily identified and she's even saying the names intelligibly.  I think it's time to move to shapes.

We're still carschooling, but she just thinks she gets to watch fun videos when we go to pick up Oliver.


Three months old and filling out his 3-6 month clothes like they're going out of style.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 9-15, 2012

One of these days, I'm going to feel caught up.  Proactive.  In control.  Probably not anytime soon, but a girl can dream.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 35-38 (writing the number 32, identifying morning, afternoon, evening, and night; writing the number 33, measuring length and width using nonstandard units; writing the number 34, adding one to a number; writing the number 35, sorting items and creating a graph)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 88-89 (review of the long-a vowel pairs; the vowel pair EE as /ē/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 95-100 (Yy, Ww, V/Y/W review, uppercase alphabet)
  • Who Am I?: Lesson 4 (Actions and Attitudes - The Ten Commandments
In tadpole news, our experiment has come to an end.  The first tadpole we put in the tank seemed to be doing poorly and we never saw it eat.  We thought that maybe it was too little, so we put him back in the fountain.  There was a much bigger tadpole still in the fountain, so we caught that one and put it in the tank.  It seemed to be doing fine, but one morning we came down and saw it looking listless.  We decided to put him back and spare us any amphibian blood on our hands.  Maybe the house was too cold for them.  At last check, both tadpoles are happily swimming around in the fountain.  We'll just keep an eye on them out there.

On a happier note, in the midst of all the hoopla over the new Kindle Fires, we saw that there is now a large selection of free classic e-books with accompanying free narration tracks at  I downloaded all of the sets.  Amazingly, it's over $250 worth of professionally-narrated audiobooks!  They're read by actors like Elijah Wood, Anne Hathaway, Kenneth Branagh... nice stuff.  I also decided to try out the membership, which gave us two free credits.  I used one to get a narrated Bible.  I think that will be nice for daily readings.  The second one got us Branagh's narration of C.S. Lewis's The Magician's NephewHenry started listening to it yesterday, during his handwriting practice time.  He loves it.  He listened to more today during handwriting.  We stopped at the beginning of chapter 4, but we'll pick it up again tomorrow.

Is it too early to talk about Christmas?  If it is, oh well!  I'm planning on getting one of the new 4G Fires when they're released in November.    The plan for now is that Oliver will get my current Fire (loaded with lots of new games) and Henry will get a new (non-4G) Fire for Christmas.  The features are going to be great for both school and fun.  Henry will be able to read books, play educational games, listen to audiobooks, and watch kid-friendly shows.  Oliver will have lots of games to play, as well as greater control on Starfall, which requires a mouse on the PC, but works well with the touchscreen on the Fire.

I'd been looking at getting one or both boys a LeapPad 2 for Christmas, but they can have much greater functionality with the Fires for not much more cost.  Plus, the new FreeTime controls will allow me to manage how much time they can spend on any activity.  Also, Henry's barely kindergarten age and our bookshelves are already bursting at the seams.  If we're going to get this family through high school without the house collapsing, we're going to need to use more e-books. 


Ollie continues to progress in therapy.  During today's session, 89% of his mands were above full prompt.  33% were completely independent!  It's amazing to see him really communicating.  He's doing so well with manding that they're going to start moving him into his actual program goals soon.

Next month begins the new fiscal year for our insurance, so Oliver's schedule will change to 3 days a week.  I hope that the change doesn't slow down his pace.


Before the terror began...
Sweet Baby Jane turned two this week, although she's been working on those Terrible Twos for a few months now.  To celebrate, I decided to take her out for some one-on-one time while our sitter was home with the boys.

We started out at a local craft store where Jane picked a plaster triceratops to paint.  She had a lot of fun with it and it was great to see her enjoy herself without anyone (ahem, Henry) trying to take the project over.

After the painting, I planned on taking her to lunch and then to story time at the library.  Those plans were waylaid by Toddler Tantrum I and II.  Somewhere between the craft store and ordering our food, a switch was flipped and she went from all smiles to inconsolable sobbing (at the restaurant) to screaming and kicking on the floor (at the library).  Needless to say, our outing was cut short.  Of course, by the time we got home again, she was back to smiling.  And I thought girls were supposed to be easier than boys. Ha!


Charming us all, even his crazy sister.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 2-8, 2012

Another week in the books.  Barely.  Matt was out of town over the long weekend, so it was just me and the Horde for five days.  Let's just say that I'm still catching up on sleep.  And sanity.


This week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 32-34 (writing the number 29,ordering numbers to 20, adding one to a number; writing the number 30, writing number sentences for some, some went away stories; writing the number 31, counting backward from 10 to 1, adding one to a number)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 85-87 (the vowel pair AI as /ā/, the vowel pair AY as /ā/, the vowel pairs EA, EI, and EY as /ā/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 89-94 (Hh, Rr/Nn/Mm/Hh review, Vv)
  • Who Am I?: Lesson 3 (I am Special to God Who Made Me)
I'll add in here that I'm really amazed at how well Henry is doing with OPGTR.  He's really reading.  He's able to use his phonics knowledge to sound out unfamiliar words.  He's not just barking at the page, though.  He's laughing at the funny stuff, asking for definitions of words he doesn't know, summarizing the little stories... reading!  One of his latest lessons had this little "story:"
The king did state, "I shall test a brave man of strength.  I shall send him on a quest.  Can he quench the flame that is a mile wide?  Can he save the life of the man stuck in the Black Depths?  Can he run the maze and slice the strong rope that no man can cut?  I shall grant a prize to this man.  He shall be the next king!"
He read it and understood it and found it rather thrilling.  We'll make a reader out of him yet.


Oliver had another really good week.  He's got the 'pretzel' mand down pat.  He's using 'cereal' also.  His therapist is really happy with his progress, but the best part is that I can tell Oliver is really happy with his progress.  He gets so excited when he is able to communicate with us.  I can't tell you how many pretzels we went through over the last week!

We received this chart yesterday.  It shows the progress he's making with independent and partial mands.  It does not show, however, that he completed 39 independent mands yesterday!  He did another 24 independent ones today.  Huge. 

I love seeing this.  My biggest frustration with ST and OT was that it seemed so haphazard.  It never felt like there was a clear progression of therapy.  His sessions were (at least to me) very random.  I love that the ABA therapy program is so focused, and so logical, and so documented.  It's making a huge difference for Oliver and we can actually see what's going on.


Jane's still working on orange and still carschooling.  LeapFrog Letter Factory was the pick this week and she's happily imitating all of the letter sounds.  This weekend, I'm going to quiz her a little and see how many letters she can correctly identify.

Wee Miss turns two next week, although she entered the Terrible Twos about six months ago.  She's getting so big, so fast.


He is just all smiles lately.  I try to get pictures of him with his big grins, but he gets a puzzled look on his face every time he sees the camera.  He's getting to that age when he wriggles like a puppy whenever anyone talks to him.  That and the full-body stretches are my favorites.

Tomorrow is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.  We're going to read from Mary: The Mother of Jesus.  We'll probably forgo the cake this year, though.  It was a bit much last year when we had Jane's birthday cake a few days later.  I think we'll make a construction paper cake and decorate it instead.

Friday, August 31, 2012

August 26 - September 1, 2012

Yes, that is what you think it is.  Last year, Henry received this little kit as a birthday gift.  Sunday, I noticed that our fountain was full of tadpoles.  I'd been holding off on renting it out until we started science, but I couldn't resist live, free tadpoles ripe for the picking.

We scooped one lucky guy out, put it in the tank, then headed to the pet store to pick up some tadpole food.  And then I totally wanted to just go ahead and start science, but I made myself abandon that idea right away.  Sticking to phonics, handwriting and math is what we need to do for now.  I think anything more would be overkill.

Each morning, Henry races downstairs to see if his tadpole has started growing legs.  Each morning, I walk slowly towards the tank, dreading to see the little guy floating at the top.  So far, so good.  Tadpoles don't seem to do much.  I've been looking at the ones left in the fountain for comparison and their activity level is about the same.

This week, Henry did :
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 28-31 (writing the number 26, addition facts - doubles to 18; writing the number 27, addition facts - doubles; Written Assessment 5 and Oral Assessment 3; writing the number 28, covering designs with pattern blocks)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 82-84 (review of long-vowel words; the vowel pair AI as /ā/
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 83-88 (Rr, Nn, Mm)

Ollie had another great week.  Today, when I picked him up from therapy, his therapist was almost giddy over Oliver independently signing "pretzel."  His ratio of full to partial mands (signing requests) is getting better and better  and he's averaging about two independent mands per session.  When we got home, he signed both "pretzel" and "banana" for me and was giggling and jumping up and down when I understood what he wanted.  We should get his first monthly report next week and I'm anxious to see how they grade his progress.

In addition to the signs he used today, he had some more neat accomplishments this week.  The biggie has been that he's used the potty quite a few times, even staying dry overnight.  We'll keep working on that at home and maybe we'll get it knocked out before the new year.  He also signed "drink" for Matt and carefully sorted through an entire bag of stuffed animals to pick out three specific ones: a killer whale, a shark, and a bass.  Those were the only aquatic animals in the container and he went through the whole thing to pick out just those three to play with.  Sorting!


Wee Miss is working on the color orange this week.  Carschooling is going well and I'm glad we have some educational DVDs to fill in what would otherwise be a half an hour dead zone each day.  This week, she watched the Classical Baby set and Leapfrog Letter Factory.


Nothing too crazy going on with Chunk-a-Monk.  He's stretching his nighttime feedings out a little bit more lately.  I think he's on the cusp of really sleeping through the night.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Last is this shot of some of the outer rain bands from Isaac.  Even here in Florida, we got some wind and rain from the storm.  If the lakes aren't refilling after this summer, I don't know what it's going to take.

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 19-25, 2012

What a great week this week!  It started off a little rough, but we're totally ending on a high note.


Let's see.  Henry got a nice package in the mail this week.  A while ago, I was able to take advantage of a deal on the Scholastic website to buy a selection of 50 books for a dollar a piece.  They arrived this week and, as you can see, Henry eagerly sorted through them all.  Funnily enough, he had just finished watching Short Circuit when the box arrived.  When I opened it up and took book after book out, he did his best Johnny Five impersonation: "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiinput!  More input!"

 We're moving right along with school.  This week, Henry did:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 24-27 (writing the number 22, identifying a rectangle and its number of sides and angles; writing the number 23, writing number sentences for some, some more stories; writing the number 24, identifying the attributes of pattern blocks; writing the number 25, identifying lighter and heavier using a balance)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 79-81 (review of the soft sounds of C and G, s stands for the /z/ sound, adding s to the ends of words), plus we've started a review of some of the older lessons to make sure he gets plenty of practice with those skills.
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 75-82 (Ss, Bb, Pp, U/S/B/P review, uppercase alphabet)
We started up Sunday school again this week.  Henry, Oliver, and Jane all listened to the lesson on the Holy Trinity and did the corresponding crafts.


Oliver is doing great with his therapy.  The bloom was off the rose when we started on Monday, but he's really adjusting well.  He had a pretty bad drop-off one day, but he got over it very quickly and they even got a nice picture of him enjoying circle time.  It certainly made me feel a lot better to see him having fun.
I've started keeping a little notebook to record the skills Oliver demonstrates at home.  This week, Oliver:
  • Matched all of his colors beanbags to the right colors on  Meaning, he selected each beanbag, then pointed to the corresponding color on the screen.  Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, and white!
  • Said "wait" after hearing it spoken and seeing the sign for the word on his Signing Time DVD
  • Used the "pretzel" sign with minimal assistance and used the "ball" sign independently
  • Matched the letters A, E, J, P, and I on his alphabet puzzle (and probably would have done more if Jane hadn't jumped in)
  • Made the "a-e-i-o-u" long vowel sounds while watching his mouth in the mirror.  This is something he'd have Matt and me do over and over again while he stared at our mouths.  This is the first time he did it himself.
We also had Oliver's IEP meeting this week.  Although we're not using the school services, we have to have an IEP in place for our EFMP placment and ECHO coverage for ABA.  The school representatives I met with were so nice and helpful.  I really appreciated all of the information I got from them.  They made it very clear that they are there to help us in any way that we choose to use them, whether it's actually enrolling Oliver in the class full time or just using them for additional speech therapy.  We're going to keep our options open. 


Oh, my little spitfire.
She wants to do school.  Anytime Henry is at the table, she's begging for "wuk."  Right now, she's doing plenty of coloring, looking at her letters on Starfall, and learning lots of signs.  She loves Signing Time. 

Loves it. 

Since we're spending a lot more time in the car lately (taking Oliver back and forth to therapy), I've decided to do a little carschooling for Jane.  I'm going to use the Signing Time DVDs (Volume 1 and Volume 2), Leapfrog: Letter Factory, and the Classical Baby box set (Dance, Art, and Music).  Henry still likes to watch these (and he gets a kick out of signing too!).


 Speaks for itself!  He's just a big, happy boy.  Love him.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 12-18, 2012

For at least the past six months, I've been using this MagnaDoodle board to write letters and numbers and to draw shapes for Oliver.  I started doing it on a whim, but he took to it and eventually began bringing me the board and pushing the drawing magnets into my hand.  Sometimes, he'd allow me to do hand-over-hand drawings with him holding the magnets.  He obviously enjoyed it and seemed to get something out of the activity.

Well, yesterday he wrote this letter C by himself, unprompted.  He wrote it, then he came and grabbed me by the hand and walked me over to it to show it to me.  And squinched up his face in a happy grin over my effusive praise, hugs, and kisses.  Two things (besides the writing itself) interested me.  First, he brought me to the board instead of bringing the board to me.  Bringing the board to me has always been his way to request that I write letters.  Reversing this seemed (to me) to emphasize that he wanted to show me what he did.  Secondly, for the last two weeks, his favorite letter on has been C.  He's wanted to watch it over and over again.  Interesting.

I had to take a picture.  I think the hardest thing about having a kid who doesn't talk is that you are never sure what's sinking in.  We can go over letters, numbers, shapes, and colors all day, but not get any concrete indication that there's any retention.  Obviously, something got through here, though.

Is it the ABA therapy?  It's probably too soon to say.  After all, he just finished his first full week.  I will say that it seems like he's attempting to use more sounds to request things.  I've noticed more pointing, too. 

This week, Henry had his five-year-old checkup and Peter had his two-month-old one.  Which meant vaccinations for them both.  Now, I would love to say that Henry was brave and stoic and submitted to his shots with courage, but I think my pants would immediately burst into flames.

The kid needed two full grown men to hold him down.

When the screaming stopped and the tears subsided, shots remained the topic of conversation for most of the rest of the day.  Despite my telling him that he wouldn't need any more vaccinations for another six years, Henry kept asking why he needed to get them in the first place and why did they have to be sharp and did the needle stay in his skin, and so forth.  Even this morning began with, "so, I'm not getting any shots today, right?"  Poor, poor child.

As you can imagine, school did not occur that day.  Still, Henry got the following done this week:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 21-23 (writing the number 19, writing addition number sentences; writing the number 20, identifying ordinal position to sixth; writing the number 21, addition facts - doubles to 10)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 74-78 (words with the long-u vowel sound; long-vowel words: CK to KE; sight words: to, two, too; the hard and soft sounds of C; the hard and soft sounds of G)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 58-68 (Qq, GJQ review, lowercase alphabet, Uu)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 5-11, 2012

First things first.  Our little Henry turned five this week.  I look at his birth announcement picture and compare it to him now and I'm amazed.

Henry had a grand old time this year.  We thought about doing a party, but we were pretty much exhausted by the previous month.  Instead, Matt and I took Henry out solo for a special birthday eve.  We went to his favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner, then to the movies to see Brave.  He loved every minute of it.

On his actual birthday, we had pizza and cake and, of course, presents.  Now, I promised not to be the homeschooling mom who turns every gift-giving occasion into an educational opportunity.  But.  A couple of months ago, I came across a homeschooling forum post alerting us all to a fantastic sale on the Ancient Egypt bundle from Playmobil.  Yes, we're going to start our Ancients history lessons sometime this year, but they're still really cool toys all on their own.  So, I bought it and stuck it away until Friday.

 Wrapped and ready.

 Blowing out the candles. (He requested chocolate frosting with green sugar sprinkles.  Okay, kid.)

 Two Robbers with Camels.

 Egyptian Soldiers.

 Egyptian Chariot.

 Sphinx with Mummy.

 Tomb with Treasure.

 One of our friends got him this book off of his Ancients reading list.

The verdict?  He immediately requested to put together at least one of the sets (it was getting close to bath time) and he, Matt, and Jane went to town.  Oliver commandeered another gift (Roger the Shuttle from Mater's Tall Tales) as his own and is in the background zooming around with it.  I couldn't get a picture that wasn't blurry.

Now, Henry is a tad obsessed with all things Egyptian.  That night, he set up a bed for himself in a pack'n'play so that he could be a mummy in its sarcophagus.  He fell asleep with his Great Pyramid book next to him in the sarcophagus.  Yesterday, we put together the rest of the sets and he's been playing with them ever since.


Oliver had a great week, too.  His first week of therapy went very, very well.  He's all smiles when I've dropped him off and he's smiling when I pick him up.  I take that as a good sign.

What Henry did this week:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 17-20 (writing the number 16, identifying the season-summer; writing the number 17, dividing a solid in half; writing the number 18, picturing and combining sets, graphing a picture on a pictograph; Written Assessment 3 and Oral Assessment 2)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 68-73 (words with the long-e vowel sound, words with the long-i vowel sound, sight word 'give,' words with the long-o vowel sound, words with the long-u vowel sound)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 58-68 (c, Ee, Ff, CEF review, uppercase letters, Gg, Jj)
 This week, I started doing some more targeted work with Jane also.  Our current theme is the color red, so we did lots of painting and coloring with red and also a lot of searching for red things in our house.  She's enjoying herself!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

July 29 - August 4, 2012

I'm patting myself on the back right now for moving to a year-round schedule.  If I hadn't, I would be pulling my hair out.  Yes, it's been that kind of week.  Again.

We persevere.  We're just going through some adjustments right now.

Oliver has had a few bad weeks, but he seems to be moderating.  He begins therapy this week, two days only.  The next week, the fall schedule begins and he'll attend four mornings per week.  I took him to the store with me and let him pick out a lunch bag.  He went with Lightning McQueen (go figure).  Henry was a little jealous and I thought about getting a bag for him.  Matt convinced me that he needed to just deal with it, though.  We can't make everything equal all of the time and Henry doesn't need a lunch bag.  And Matt was right.  Henry let it go quickly.

Janebug has decided that she's not waiting another month to enter her Terrible Twos.  It's full throttle now.  I read somewhere once that toddlers should be treated as if they were psychiatric patients.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Perhaps I'll be able to use some of the behavioral management techniques from Oliver's therapy on the child.  She sure does need it.

Peter is eight weeks old tomorrow.

I can scarcely believe it.  He went through his own period of fussiness, but he's come out the other end all smiles and even a few laughs here and there.  He's getting so big...

I was hit with an uncontrollable urge to rearrange the schoolroom yesterday.  So, I did.  There's a lot more floor space, which will be useful.  I also boxed up some of the toys that always get strewn about, but never seem to actually get played with.  It looks a lot brighter in here now.

Plus, I've put all the schoolbooks in one place, close to the little table.  It will be much more convenient this way.

Hey, speaking of school, here's what Henry did this week: 

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 15-16 (writing the number 14, acting out and drawing pictures for some, some more and some, some went away stories; Assessment 2; writing the number 15, counting pennies)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 65-67 (words with the long-a vowel sound, the sight word 'have,' words with the long-e vowel sound)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 56-57 (lowercase letters, C)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 22-28, 2012

Just when you think things are letting up, sickness rears its ugly head.  The kids came down with high fevers this week.  Including Peter.  While the others were fine with some ibuprofen and bed rest, Peter's age meant he had to go to the ER.  IV, blood cultures, urine cultures, chest x-ray... the works.  Thankfully, he's fine.  Needless to say, school was not a priority this week.  Still, Henry did get a few things done.
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 12-14 (writing the number 11, acting out some, some more, and some, some went away stories; writing the number 12, identifying a triangle, identifying the number of sides and angles of a triangle, sorting by one attribute; writing the number 13, making a shape on the geoboard, identifying inside and outside)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 62-64 (review of the ending blend NK, the three-consonant blends SCR, STR, SPL, and SPR)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 53-55 (Dd, review of Oo, Aa, and Dd)
Oliver will begin ABA therapy either this coming week or the week of the 6th.  His final ST and OT appointments are this week.  We decided not to continue those services since so much of what he does there will be done with ABA.  I'm beginning to look forward to this.  I still wince when I think about dropping him off and driving away, but I hope that we see real changes and improvements over the coming months and we're anxious to implement the therapy methods at home.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week in Review: July 15-21, 2012

Done, done, done... the Month of Appointments is done!  Not a moment too soon, either.  I don't think we could have taken much more.  As it is, we've still got Oliver's regular therapy appointments, plus my final OB appointment to take care of.  That's like floating downstream, though, after the chaos of the first few weeks.

I can hardly believe we managed to get anything done last week, but here's what Henry completed:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 9-11 (ordering sets from smallest to largest, ordering numbers from least to greatest, identifying fewest and most; written assessment 1 and oral assessment 1; identifying the number 10, identifying morning and afternoon, identifying first/last/between, first/second/third)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 55-60 (the digraphs SH, CH, voiced TH, unvoiced TH, and digraph blends SHR, TCH, NCH, THR, and NGTH)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 48-52 (Oo, Aa)
We began this week with a special event, Peter's baptism.  He was one of six (!) babies baptized after Mass yesterday and it was more than a little crazy during the ceremony.  Nonetheless, it was a beautiful event and Peter was great.  He barely stirred from his nap when the water was poured on his head.  If only he could sleep through his bath at home...

The family.  Doesn't Henry look stoked?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week in Review: July 8-14, 2012

Okay, one more week to slog through and then I think we can stop and catch our breath.  This month has been crazy, appointment-wise.  We'll have had 15 in the first three weeks alone!  We still managed to get quite a bit done with school this week.  Henry completed:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 5-8 (writing the numbers 2, 3, and 7; identifying a circle and a square, identifying the number of sides and angles of a square; graphing a picture on a pictograph, identifying the most and the fewest on a graph, identifying right and left; writing the numbers 0, 6, 8, and 9)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 50-54 (the beginning blends BL, CL FL, GL, PL, SL, SM, SP, SC, SK, SN, ST, BR, CR, DR, FR, GR, PR, TR, SQU, SW, and TW; the sight word 'of'; the digraph NG)
  • Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read First Grade Level 1: Lesson 4, but we're dropping this for now.  It's quickly turning into word recognition instead of actual phonics.  Kind of disappointing, especially since the kindergarten level was so nice.
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 37-47 (Ll, Ii, and Tt)
This coming week is very full, so I'm not anticipating getting much school done.  Oliver has an MRI of the brain this week along with a pre-op physical since he'll need to be sedated.  It's not  for anything; just to rule out anything physical that might be affecting his language development.  He also has his regular OT and ST, plus his initial assessment at the ABA center.  Henry, Oliver, Jane, and I also have dental check-ups.  That's eight appointments in total this week.

"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Week in Review: July 1-7, 2012

Our first week back to school is complete!  We wound up doing school every day except Independence Day.  Four school days of 70 minutes each gave us a grand total of 280 minutes of instruction time or seat work.  Here's what Henry got done:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 1-4 (identifying today's date; making towers for the numbers 1-5; writing the numbers 1, 4, and 5; making towers for the numbers 1-9, ordering the numbers 0-9)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 42-49 (the CK combination; the ending blends LK, LB, LP, ST, NT, FT, LT, CT, PT, MP, SP, LF, LM, ND, SK, XT, and NK; adding the letter S to words)
  • Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read First Grade Level 1: Lessons 1-3 (ch-, sh-; th-; wh-)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten: Pages 1-36 (Basic strokes: vertical lines, horizontal lines, backward circle lines, slant lines, forward circle lines)
The vast majority of this was done during quiet time while Jane napped.  She is at that delightful stage of insisting on doing everything.  The only issue is that she gets a little overexcited and starts trying to do all of Henry's work too.  So, for now, it's a little easier to wait until she's unconscious to do school, especially since Peter has been taking a nice long nap in the afternoons also.

Oliver seems to have tired of Starfall somewhat.  I pulled out the old Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Pre-K DVD, though, and he's entranced by all of the little clips. He's actually watching it right now on half of the computer monitor while I write this on the other half.  He just signed "more" at the end of the alphabet song, too.  Works for me!

Last week's appointments were fruitful.  The pediatrician prescribed a minuscule dose of clonidine for Oliver to see if it would help with his sleep disturbances.  While he's still waking up at night, the time that he's up is about a quarter of what it was.  We may increase the dosage slightly and see if he'll stay asleep all night, but we need to speak to the doctor first.  He also recommended that we try a GABA supplement.  We can give that to him concurrently since the mechanisms of action are different.  I ordered a bottle of the powder and it should be here next week.  We'll see if it helps.

Finally, I've kind of struggled with this decision.  Like I posted last week, we're interviewing ABA therapy providers for Oliver.  All along, I've been hoping to have in-home therapy.  With all these little kids, I thought it would be a little easier to deal with and would also provide the most intense therapy experience.  However, our visit to a center-based provider convinced me otherwise, at least in my head.  In my heart?  It's gut-wrenching for me to even consider dropping Oliver off for five hours of therapy, three times per week.  I mean, other than being at the hospital to give birth or a rare outing (with Matt home with the kids), I've never been away from any of them for that long.

But, it's not about me.  I need to make choices for Ollie that are in his best interest and I know that this level of therapy will give him the best shot at making significant progress.  It helps that he had an absolute blast the entire time we were visiting the center.  The therapists were great, the regimen is sound with a logical progression of measurable goals, and they're supportive of homeschooling. 

We have one more interview with an in-home provider, but I think our minds are made up.  This one would only be able to come twice a week for two hours per day and that's not going to be enough. Sigh.