Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oh, Two Months?

Yes.  Our blog has been defunct.  We've moved; we're getting ready to move.  We're taking a little break from school for now, except for catechism and math. 

I'm honestly trying to figure out whether to keep this going or not.  It's not like it takes up a ton of time, but...

We'll see.  If we're back, it will be in November, once we're settled in at our new place in Virginia.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oh, has it been a month?

'Cause it sure doesn't feel like it.  At. All.

What have we done over the past thirty-odd days?  Well, let's see.  We moved.  Scratch that.  We're still moving.  It's a slow process when your husband is working constantly and you have four little kids who are tired of sitting in the van while Mommy hauls another load of boxes from the old house to the new one.  Thank goodness our rental is in the same neighborhood.

We are just about done.  We have some things to drop off to Goodwill and we have to get through the last bits of the sale and closing, but we're settled in to the new place and everyone is adjusting nicely.  It helps that the rental is the same floor plan as our old house.  Everything pretty much went into the same spot and nobody had to relearn how to walk around in the dark.

In preparation for Virginia's homeschooling laws, I'm keeping an official portfolio now.  Since documenting twice is not my thing, I'll keep his school updates pretty general on here from now on.  We took a couple weeks off at the height of moving, but we're back on track now:

Catechism: He's working his way through memorizing the prayers in the New St. Joseph's.  Henry has one more to go until we begin the question and answer pages.

Math:  Saxon is still a great fit.  We've started doing the timed math drills and he likes trying to get a new high score each time.

Language Arts: He loves the vocabulary roots.  He thinks it's awesome that he knows "FOUR GREEK WORDS, MOMMY!  I KNOW FOUR GREEK WORDS!"  Grammar and writing are fantastic.  I'm really happy with the pace and progression of First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease.  He memorized his second poem this month:
History: We'll finish up the first unit next week.  We're both enjoying this program.  The reading selections are really nice and they're keeping his interest.  He's retaining a lot and talks about what he's learned constantly.

Science:  The one thing that's changing.  I still like the layout of Elemental Science, but I've come (once again) to the realization that experiments are a bust at this age.  I love the reading selections and so does Henry, but why do a lame "experiment" about camouflage when you can watch an awesome documentary about real animals using camouflage?  So, we're going to finish the schedule of reading for this year, but for the rest of the grammar stage, science is going to consist of reading a lot of awesome books, watching a ton of interesting documentaries, observing nature outside, and hitting up as many science museums and exhibits as we can.  I simply refuse to spend an hour setting up a demonstration that takes less than a minute to observe.

Geography: It's probably more accurate to call this "map skills."  Henry likes it.  It's easy to teach.  It's helping him with real geography, which we're doing in context with history and science.  I'm using Bing Maps to bring up the places we're discussing in those subjects.

Fine Arts:  We have yet to do one art project.  We're listening to plenty of classical music though, and we watched a ballet on Netflix this month.  All the kids loved it.  One of our local art museums has a weekly drop-in art class and I'm going to take Henry there as time permits.  I think he'll enjoy that.

Latin:  We're still listening to Song School Latin and to Lingua Angelica in the car.  I've backed off on Getting Started with Latin because the difficulty level is ramping up and it's getting hard to complete orally.  We'll just keep up with the immersion in order to increase his familiarity and be ready for Prima Latina next year.

Logic:  Lollipop Logic is quite enjoyable and we're increasing the number of logic games that we have laying around the house.  Perplexus is killing us all and Henry has only had it for a day.

Literature: This has been lovely.  I made a point of getting all of the first grade books recommended by Memoria Press and each one has been an absolute hit.  I've realized that I never read a lot of these "classic" read-alouds because I was an early reader.  When I started first grade I was already on long chapter books, so I missed out on a lot of really beautiful stories.  I'm enjoying reading these to the kids as much as they're enjoying listening to them.

And Henry turned six.  I can't believe he's six.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 1 - 6, 2013: First Grade!

It has been a wonderful first week of school!

What we did last week:

  • Catechism: Reviewed the Sign of the Cross, the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Guardian Angel prayer, and learned the Morning Offering.
  • Mathematics: Completed lessons 1-4 of Saxon Math 2 (reading and identifying numbers to 100, identifying left and right, graphing data on a graph, identifying one more and one less than a number, telling time to the hour, and addition facts - doubles to 20); read Numbers by Henry Pluckrose
  • Vocabulary root: PHOTOS (Greek) - light
  • Grammar: Completed lessons 1-5 of First Language Lessons 1 (introducing common nouns, introducing poem memorization, common nouns for family relationships, first names as proper nouns, introducing story narration
  •  Writing: Our Writing with Ease 1 excerpts for copywork and narration were from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  • History: This week, we read The King of the Golden City by Mother Mary Loyola.
  • Science: Completed the first week of our animal study, learning about habitat, migration, animal defense mechanisms, camouflage, food, conservation, and communication.  The vocabulary words this week were herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore.

 We're going to watch Winged Migration this afternoon to finish up the week.
  • Geography: Completed week one, "What is a Map?"
No art or music study this week because we lost a day for the holiday, but that's fine.  Henry had a great week and enjoyed all of his new subjects and materials.  So did I!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Carschooling and What???

We've been enjoying our little break.  It's been a couple weeks of lazy days and planning for us all.  In an attempt to keep their minds from completely zoning out, we've stepped up the carschooling as we take Oliver back and forth to therapy.

Here's what we've been using:

Song School Latin: This CD continues to be a favorite.  It's gotten to the point that even Peter kind of sings along with the first song, bouncing his head back and forth like the others.

The Classical Baby Collection: We've had this DVD set forever and it still gets a lot of play.  Art, music, and dance are well represented and completely unannoying, which is always a plus.

Young Minds: Numbers and Counting: This is a new one.  It's pretty basic and reminds me of the Baby Einstein videos.  I don't know how long this one will hold up for the older kids, but it's soothing at least.  Peter likes this one a lot.

They Might Be Giants: These are three new ones and they are awesome.  The CDs come with DVD discs with cute videos and the music is also unannoying.  We've got Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s, and Here Comes Science.

We've been touching on Getting Started with Latin here and there and going chapter by chapter in The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island, but for the most part we've just been relaxing.  And getting over being sick, of course, because what would a summer break be without all the kids getting horrid colds and half the kids also getting a random stomach bug?

Which is probably why I was so surprised to look at the calendar this morning and see that it's Wednesday, June 26th, and we only have a few more days until First Grade.  Completely insane.  At least all of my lesson planning is done (thank you, OneNote) and all of our materials have been procured.  My last task will be to pull everything we need for week one off the shelves and print out anything that needs to be printed.  Henry is really excited to be a first grader!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kindergarten is Complete!

And as much as I love what The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading has done for us, I am so glad to put that book on the shelf and not open it again for at least another year.  Relief.

Yes, Henry read the last page today, with the final lesson being the reading of "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."  It took him a while, but he got through all fourteen syllables and we both made it out alive.

So, we are done with kindergarten!  Henry completed the kindergarten CAT this week and I've already mailed his test booklet back to Seton Testing to be graded.  We should get the results emailed to us within a couple of weeks.  The CAT wasn't required since this wasn't even a reportable year, but I wanted Henry to get a little practice with the standardized test format and I also wanted that little piece of paper that says, "no, you're not ruining your child's academic life."  Because I'm paranoid like that.

Sooooo, we're still going to start first grade on July 1st.  Until then, we're just going to be doing a lot of read-alouds, some Latin, and plenty of rounds of Uno and Sum Swamp and Math Dice.  "That's not school, Mommy.  That's fun!"  Mm hmm.

And Mommy gets to play with my OneNote, which I've fallen in love with after not even knowing it was on our PC for the last I-don't-know-how-many years.  The program is everything I've been looking for in lesson planning.  I'd given up on all the different free and inexpensive software I've tried and resigned myself to creating week-by-week tables in Word, resource lists in Excel, and a big file folder of PDFs and so forth.

OneNote allows me to do all of that in one spot.  It's pretty much the best of every program in MS Office all in one.  Awesome.

Oliver is showing definite progress with his communication skills.  Really.  We're coming to the end of week three on L-carnosine and there is absolutely something going on.  This week he said, "thank you."  Really.  Matt was eating some chips and Oliver indicated that he wanted one.  He ate the one Matt gave him and signed "more" which in itself is awesome because he picked that sign up after only one demo and is using it.  Anyway, Matt gave him another chip and Oliver immediately said, "thank you."  It wasn't perfect, but it was enough that both Matt and I automatically responded with, "you're welcome."  And then we looked at each other and said, "Did he just say 'thank you?'"

He's been babbling constantly, giving out hugs like they're going out of style, and displaying an increased level of interest in people and things around him.  We're still seeing some tantrum behavior, but I think a lot of it is linked to his potty training.  He's been having mini-shouting fits when he needs to go to the potty.  We're trying some different things to get him to let us know he has to go without resorting to yelling.  I'm hoping he'll get it down soon.

All in all, we're really excited about the progress he's made so far and we're, of course, continuing with the supplement.

Jane is bopping along, singing her Song School Latin, starting to really count with one-to-one correspondence, and exploring every nook and cranny of two-year old behavior.  It's the Two Faces of Jane around here.

Peter turns one next week!

Friday, May 31, 2013

May 26 - June 1, 2013

  • Math Made Easy 1: subtraction, subtraction tables, counting down, clocks, digital clocks, matching times, minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/year
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 217-221 (the ending TURE: tu as /ch/, the endings IBLE and ABLE, sight word: only; more common endings; prefixes; the letter X as /z/, silent P before S)
  • Getting Started With Latin: grammar - singular and plural
  • Architecture - It's Elementary!: What is your favorite place?
  • Origami Math: Kitty cat
  • Life of Fred - Apples: None this week

Oliver is still potty training and making good progress.  We're seeing some big leaps at home with him letting us know when he has to go, getting on the potty himself, etc.

We've also started him on a new supplement.  I don't usually chase the "miracle cures" around, but this one piqued my interest because it was the subject of a double-blind peer-reviewed study.  Although the study sample was small, Dr. Chez has stated that he's used l-carnosine with over a thousand children with the same results.  I figured we'd give it a try and see what happens.

The l-carnosine we got is in liquid form.  The product info says it's more easily absorbed than the powder and recommends a half-dose.  The study had kids taking 400 mg twice per day, so we're giving Oliver 200 mg twice per day.

I actually started him on a very low dose last week to make sure he didn't have any adverse reactions.  He did have some increased irritability and tantrum behavior, but the product makers stated that was common.  We increased him to the full 200 mg, twice-per day, on Monday.  So far, we are seeing some small improvements in behavior and a definite increase in his babbling.

The study had the kids taking l-carnosine for 8 weeks.  90% of the children who received the supplement had a statistically significant improvement in communication and behavior as measured by multiple behavioral scales.  We've advised his therapy center that he's taking this so that they can observe for any changes on their end too.


Jane is loving Song School Latin.  She sings the songs constantly.  Today, she told Henry, "I love you, frater."  (He responded in kind with, "I love you, soror."  She's finally letting me read to her now and then, thank goodness.  She's just so very active and doesn't want to sit still for long, so I'm having much better results through having all the kids play with their Legos on the floor while I read.


Peter is rapidly approaching his first birthday!  I can hardly believe my little baby is going to be one. He's crawling around for real now and has six more teeth all coming in at once, poor kid.  We are still trying to find a sippy cup that he will take, but so far we're unsuccessful.  He also doesn't want milk.  All he wants is formula.  I've tried mixing half and half, but he takes one sip and drops the bottle.  He is killing me.  None of the other kids did this.  I'll keep trying.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 19 - 25, 2013


  • Math Made Easy 1: addition properties, most and least likely, using clocks, tables, numbers, 1 less or 1 more, tallies, using a table, patterns of 2/5/10, more or less, fractions of shapes, doubles, fact families, addition, subtraction
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 209-216 (Y alone as long I in multi-syllable words; our as /ur/, D and DI as /j/, the endings ER and EST, the endings LY, LIER, and LIEST, review of sight words, the ED ending, practice reading four-syllable words, the endings TION and SION)
  • Getting Started With Latin: practice and review
  • Architecture - It's Elementary!: Neighborhood walk
  • Origami Math:None this week
  • Life of Fred - Apples: Chapter 13

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 12 - 18, 2013


  • Math Made Easy 1: reading numbers, tens and ones, comparisons, 10 more or 10 less, ordering, halves and fourths, place value, expanded form, adding dice, adding, crossing out, subtraction, sets of, sharing
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 200-208 (Y as long e, sight word: busy; EY as long e; IE as long e; two-syllable plural words that end in ES; hyphenated words; three-syllable words)
  • Getting Started With Latin: vocabulary: est
  • Architecture - It's Elementary!: None this week
  • Origami Math: Jumping frog (shape, measurement, distance, height)
  • Life of Fred - Apples: None this week
I've started skipping through Math Made Easy since it is supposed to be review.  There are things he KNOWS and I don't want to waste a lot of time on them.  There are also things that we've never covered later in the book, like Venn diagrams.  I'd like to touch on those before we pick up with Saxon again.

I thought that the later lessons of OPGTR would take longer, but they're actually taking much less time.  It's kind of odd.  Henry has more issues with sounding out smaller words than bigger ones.  I'm still reminding him that "the e on the end makes the vowel say its name," but he'll spit out multi-syllabic words with minimal hesitation.  I can still hear him decoding, so I don't think he's memorized the longer ones.  It's not like he could have anyway, since he's seeing most of these words for the first time.  I guess it's just one of those developmental things.  Only 21 lessons left!

On a side note, I am all of a sudden noticing how many people wear shirts with inappropriate slogans on them.  We went out to eat the other night and a kid at the table across from us had this shirt on.  Which Henry promptly read, of course.  Thankfully, he forgot about the "n after m" rule so he was just rather puzzled by what he thought said "every damen night."  Sigh.

The Boxcar Children is a hit!


Ollie is still making steady progress with the training protocol.  He also made some pretty big steps this week.  On one afternoon, we took all the kids to a local playground.  Although Oliver didn't follow along with the games the playground kids were doing, he did make a point of remaining in the midst of the group.  As they wandered from activity to activity, he went along with them and we could tell he was enjoying it all.  He also started counting along with us on his fingers!  I was counting fingers and toes with him and when I started holding each of my fingers up, he exactly imitated what I was doing.  So now, when I count to ten, he holds up each finger in correspondence.

Unfortunately, we've had a big regression with sleep this week.  I'm not sure if it's seasonal changes or what, but Oliver has woken up almost every night this week.  Most nights, he's gone back to sleep fairly quickly, but it's having a definite effect on his mood during the day.  I hope we'll get this nipped in the bud.


We received our Song School Latin CD on Wednesday and have been listening to it in the car.  All of the kids love it, not just Jane.  Thankfully, the songs are pleasant to my ears also so sum bene!


He had one upper tooth break through this week and another is soon to follow.  These aren't near as bad as the bottom teeth were. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 5 - 11, 2013

  • Math Made Easy 1: 26 - sets, money, ordering stories, time, graphs, 2D shapes, 3D shapes, writing numbers, counting, counting on by 2s, most and least
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 194-199 (S as /zh/, sight word: people; review two-syllable words; possessive words; contractions, sight word: been)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Finished!  Days of the week, months of the year, writing quickly
  • Getting Started With Latin: vocabulary: es, poēta
  • Architecture - It's Elementary!: human proportions
  • Origami Math: noise popper (spatial reasoning, shapes, measurement, symmetry)
  • Life of Fred - Apples: Chapters 10-12

Oliver's still doing the intensive potty-training protocol.  We're not able to mimic it at home because of the other kids, so I'm getting smaller sessions in during naptime and working on practicing mands and tacts instead.  He's getting pretty good at identifying things using signs.  It's a slightly different skill than requesting, but it's coming along nicely.


Jane's memory is a little mind-boggling for me.  We walked her through her bedtime prayer (the good old "now I lay me...") line by line and she picked it up pretty quickly.  She memorized our prayer before meals (the good old "bless us O lord") just from listening to us.  We started saying a family Hail Mary on May 1st during our evening ceremony for Mary in May and she has that memorized already.  She has episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba down pat, including the movements of the characters.  And she remembers our Latin lessons, too.  Right now, she's running around and singing, "sum nauta, sum nauta, sum nauta, I am a sailor!"

I'm curious to see how she would react to more singing-type lessons, so I ordered Song School Latin today.  I just got the CD, not the workbook.  It should be here next week and I'm going to keep it in the car to listen to on our trips back and forth for Oliver. 


Peter is still army crawling, is sitting up well, is able to sit up on his own, still has two teeth coming in the top, and is refusing every sippy cup known to man.  He has one month left of the bottle and then it's sippy cup or nothing.  (Big words now.  I'll probably be backtracking in five weeks.)

We're still on track for a July 1st start date, but I'm not sure what things are going to look like around here for long.  We are going to be moving out-of-state in the fall, so we had to put our house up for sale.  Amazingly, we got an offer on it the first day it was listed and we've already signed the contract.  We'll have to move to a short-term rental in the next couple of months before making the big move in October/November.  Part of me wants to get as much done as possible before the move; part of me wants to take an extended vacation and not start first grade until we're settled in our new home.  I'm sure we'll wind up with a mix of both.  For now, we'll just take it one day at a time.

Friday, May 3, 2013

April 28 - May 4, 2013

Very quickly...

  • Math Made Easy 1: 16-25 - ordering, more than or less than, greater or less, comparing, halves, quarters, adding up, adding animals, subtracting, counting back
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 189-193 (CH as /k/, sight word: choir; the soft sound of the SC blend; silent W after S, silent T after S, silent M before N; TI as /sh/; CI as /sh/, SI as /sh/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 122-126 (Zz; X, K, Z review; writing sentences )
  • Getting Started With Latin: vocabulary: nōn; grammar: verbs
  • Architecture - It's Elementary!: acting out structures
  • Origami Math: instant cup (spatial reasoning, shapes, volume)
  • Life of Fred - Apples: Chapters 8-9
Let's see, today we're going to play some Uno and I think we'll start a read-aloud of The Boxcar Children. Henry will get a kick out of having the same name as one of the main characters.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 21 - 27, 2013

  • Math Made Easy 1: numbers, numbers and pictures, counting, counting out loud, missing numbers, making 10, count by 10s, count by 2s, patterns, adding machines, reading numbers, finding 10s, tens and ones, one more or one less?)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 184-188 (the ING ending; practice with two-syllable words; OU as short-u; OR as /är/, S as /sh/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 116- (Review V, Y, W; write an invitation; Xx; Kk; )
  • Getting Started With Latin: vocabulary: sum, nauta, ego, agricola, et; grammar: word order
  • Architecture - It's Elementary!: geometric shapes; streetscapes;  neighborhood walks
Math Fun Friday has so far consisted of:
Obviously, we're not limiting Math Fun to just Fridays.  Today, we added in some Origami Math.

"Is this math, Mommy?"  "Yes."  "Wow.  Math is fun!"


Oliver has mastered more levels this week.  I'm looking forward to getting his monthly progress report.  Next week, he begins intensive potty training.  I'm really hoping that this won't be too much of a struggle, either at the center or at home.


Jane is working on tracing right now.  Nothing crazy; just a Kumon workbook.


He is so much happier now that those teeth are through.  He started army crawling this week, too!

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 14 - 20, 2013

Saxon Math 1 is done!

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 126-130 (writing the number 114, identifying and counting hundreds, tens, and ones; writing the number 115, representing numbers to 500 using pictures; writing the number 116, subtraction facts - the leftover facts; writing the number 117; written assessment 25, oral assessment 13)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 180-183 (compound words; the schwa; the LE ending; the ER ending)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 111-115 (Vv, Yy, Ww)
Okay.  So now what?

Math - As I wrote about before, Henry is going to work his way through the first grade workbook of Math Made Easy.  This is going to be review, so I think he will get through it fairly quickly.  He already did the first five pages yesterday.  Granted, they were extremely simple concepts, but I don't think he'll take more than two or three months to complete the entire book, putting completion somewhere around the end of June.

Reading - We have 48 lessons left in OPGTR. At our current rate of 4 lessons per week, that would take us 12 weeks to complete, putting us at mid-July.  From this point on, the length of the lessons increases quite a bit.  I think I will keep our current one lesson per day schedule, but we are going to start doing school Monday through Friday beginning next week.  Five lessons per week has us completing the book before the end of June.

Handwriting - There are 24 pages left and Henry is completing one per day.  With a five-day week, he'll be finished by the end of May.

Based on all of that, it looks like first grade is going to begin in July.  July 1st is a Monday, so we'll shoot for that as our official start date.

In the meantime, I am going to work on developing Kindergarten Henry into First Grade Henry.  That means, as I wrote above, extending our school week.  I want to begin our Math Fun Fridays now.  We'll do the workbook lessons for four days, then have Friday for math games and books.

I have an eye towards some enrichment activities, too.  We've done the first few lessons from Getting Started with Latin and Henry (and Jane!) really like them.  We'll keep that up.  I also just came across an interesting (and free!) elementary architecture course created for kindergarten through fifth grade.  Henry has expressed an interest in learning how to design buildings, so I think he'll enjoy this gentle introduction. 

(And he lost his first tooth last week!)


Oliver continues to progress.  Both Matt and I have noticed a definite upswing in his ability to listen and follow directions.  He continues to match and sort easily.  He remains highly interested in the letter portions of Starfall.  He is picking up new signs easily.  Overall, he's doing great.


Oh, Jane.  Jane wants to read, but she doesn't want to be read to.  Jane wants to count, but she doesn't want help counting.  Jane wants to write, but she doesn't want anyone to watch her write.  Jane is a cute little walking contradiction.  I get a touch of the vapors thinking about what she's going to be like in a couple of years.


Finally.  The glorious day has arrived.  Two bottom teeth have broken free.  It has been a long, hard slog.  Peter is also getting up on his hands and knees and rocking back and forth, so I think he'll be crawling soon.  He's also (finally) sitting up.  I guess it takes a lot of muscle control to keep that huge noggin steady.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 7 - 13, 2013

Quickly, before the kids notice I'm trying to accomplish something...

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 122-125 (writing the number 110, subtraction facts - differences of one; writing the number 111, drawing polygons; writing the number 112, identifying and counting quarters; writing the number 113, subtraction facts - subtracting using the doubles plus one addition facts,  written assessment 24 )
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 176-179 ( r-changed vowels review; compound words)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 107-110 (review, keys to legibility, Vv)
Barring catastrophe, we will finish Saxon Math 1 next week.  I can't believe we're already done and it's only April.  We'll have plenty of time to meander through the Math Made Easy workbook and review concepts.  Once Henry finishes OPGTR, we're going to go ahead and begin first grade. Yikes!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

March 24 - April 6, 2013

Two weeks at once because of Easter (Happy Easter!) and out-of-town guests.  I'm glad we worked ahead a bit because we are slacking off this week.

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 116-121 (writing the number 105, addition facts - the last eight facts; writing the number 106, measuring line segments using centimeters; writing the number 107, identifying geometric solids (cylinders and cubes); writing the number 108, subtracting ten from a number;  written assessment 23, oral assessment 12; writing the number 109, adding three single-digit numbers)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 168-175 ( r-changed vowels: ER as /ûr/; IR as /ûr/; UR as /ûr/; WOR as /wûr/; EAR as /ûr/; sight words: where, there, were; sight words: their, here; r-changed vowels: slightly-changed vowel sounds)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 96-106 (review Uu, Ss, Bb, Pp; Rr; Nn; Mm; Hh; review)
I'm adding Latin and logic to first grade.  Nothing crazy, just Getting Started with Latin and a Mind Benders book.  It's maybe another five minutes to our day.  I think he can handle it.


Oliver is doing great with matching.  His therapist gave him a letters matching game for his birthday and he can match each letter very quickly.  He's scanning the whole board each time, which is great.  We're also working on sorting by color.  I'm using our shapes and colors beanbags to set up an array and he's doing well.  We'll keep at it.


We're continuing with letters and numbers.  She's trying to count with one-to-one correspondence, but it's iffy (as expected).  She enjoys it though, and I want it to stay that way.


One tooth has finally broken free!  The other will emerge soon, I'm sure. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 17-23, 2013

We got quite a bit done this week.  Thank goodness.

  •  Saxon Math 1: Lessons 112-115 (writing the number 101, identifying fractional parts of a whole; writing the number 102, graphing tags on a bar graph; writing the number 103, counting dimes, nickels, and pennies; written assessment 22)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 161-167 ( r-changed vowels: WAR as /wôr/; review /ôr/ words; ARE as /âr/; AIR as /âr/; EAR as /âr/; review /âr/ words )
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 88-95 (Uu, Ss, Bb, Pp)
Oliver is doing fantastic.  He had three BCBAs sit in on one of his sessions this week and they said he is making great progress.  He's moved up a whole level with matching, his eye contact is great, he's sleeping well...  I'm really happy with how he's doing.  We've been playing on Starfall a lot during his eye patch time and he's enjoying the little games where he has to match capital letters and lowercase letters.

Jane is trying to write!  She actually wrote a legible "a" and "r" on her own during a coloring session.  She knew what she did too, because she brought the paper to Matt afterwards and pointed out the letters to him.  I can see maybe a "B," "C," and "V" in there too, but she didn't point those out.  I guess she is paying attention. 

Poor, poor Peter has bulging gums and chapped lips.  We're going through teething tablets like... well, like teething tablets.  He's miserable.  I feel like he's been teething forever.

I think I have our first grade schedule decided upon.  It will look something like this:

Sunday: Cathechism via MyCatholicFaithDelivered.com

Monday - Thursday:
  • Morning session (1 hour): Grammar, writing, and math
  • Lunch: Listen to our read-aloud audiobook
  • Afternoon session (45 minutes): History, science
  • Morning session (1 hour): Grammar, living math books and games
  • Lunch: Listen to our read-aloud audiobook
  • Afternoon session (45 minutes): Geography, science
Saturday: Art and music (combination of creating art, picture/artist study, and listening to music)

I talked about the upcoming schedule with Henry and he was pretty excited, especially about the Friday math games.  I'm putting together more detailed lesson plans for the first month and it looks like first grade is going to be pretty fun.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 10-16, 2013

Oh, here's the spinning week.  It's the week in which I caught what everyone else had.  At least Matt was home when I had the worst of it.  That helped a lot.

What we did last week:

  •  Saxon Math 1: Lessons 110-111 (Written assessment #21, oral assessment #11; writing the number 100, identifying one dollar)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 159-160 ( r-changed vowels: OUR as /ôr/; OAR and OOR as /ôr/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 85-87 (writing words, writing a letter)
It's strange to say this in March, but our year is coming to a close.  We have 19 lessons left in math, or about five weeks.  We'll start going through Math Made Easy as soon as we're done with Saxon.  Henry sneaked a peek at it this week and wanted to start it now, but we're going to wait.  We have 71 lessons left in OPGTR.  That's about 18 weeks at our current pace of one lesson per day, but once we're done with Saxon I'm going to increase to two or three lessons per day (depending on mastery).  Saxon takes up a big chunk of our school hour, so we'll have more time to work on reading once we're done.  We also have about six more weeks of handwriting left to do.

Based on all of this, I think we'll easily be ready to start first grade in July.  I've been slowly accumulating all of our materials and should have everything we need by then.  My biggest task is going to be working out what our schedule will look like for the week.  I also need to start some lesson planning.  While I'm a big proponent of "just do the next thing," there's quite a bit of overlap with the courses.  For example, there is copywork in grammar, writing, history, and science.  That's a little over the top.  I want to go through the materials and pare back the assignments so that we have a sharper focus in each subject.  I want grammar to be about grammar, writing to be about writing, etc.

Over the next few months, I'll be paging through The Well-Trained Mind, taking notes, drawing up sample plans for the first month or two of lessons and seeing what form our school is going to take.  I am just crazy enough to be excited about this.  Lesson planning: living the dream!

Oh, remember about two years ago when I posted about making my way through the Great Books?  And I thought that ten years seemed like a long time for it?  Yeah, I'm almost done with the first year's reading assignments.  Two years later.  I did have a baby in there, so that's my excuse.  Personal goal for me: finish the first year's readings so that I can start the second year in July.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 3 - 9, 2013

This week was pretty much a bust.  Matt came down with a bad cold early in and, despite our best efforts, every one of the kids caught it too.  At least it all hit them on the same day.  I'd rather run a mini hospital ward than have each get it one by one.

What we managed to do last week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 107-109 (writing the number 97, identifying one half, one third, and one sixth; writing the number 98, addition facts - adding nine to a number; writing the number 99, estimating and measuring capacity)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 156-158 ( r-changed vowels: AR as /är/, sight word: are; OR and ORE as /ôr/; OUR as /ôr/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 82-84 (Qq, G/J/Q review)
Hmm. I guess we did a little more than I thought.  I suppose it just felt like we were spinning our wheels.

Oliver's tolerating his eye patches.  He does really well as long as he's sitting on my lap and focused on Starfall.  He's made quite a bit of progress on the program.  He easily matches colors, remembers which letters have the games he likes to play, and is doing very well with matching capital and lower case letters.  I can tell he's trying to figure out how to play the memory games.  He knows that he's supposed to turn over the cards and find a match, but I think there are too many cards for him to really catch on.  We'll keep at it.

Both Jane and Oliver are diving back into Hooked on Phonics.  I actually think Oliver is a little bored with the alphabet lessons from the pre-K discs, so I may pop in the kindergarten disc this week and see if it holds his interest.

We're all really excited about the start of the conclave on Tuesday.  Matt is going to be off and Oliver doesn't have therapy, so we'll be able to watch the coverage together!

Monday, March 4, 2013

February 24 - March 2, 2013

What we did last week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 103-106 (writing the number 93, dividing a set of objects by sharing; writing the number 94, identifying a dozen and a half dozen; written assessment #20, writing the number 95, subtraction facts - subtracting a number from ten; writing the number 96, measuring using feet)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 153-155 (silent letter review; r-changed vowels: AR as /är/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 78-81 (Gg, Jj)
Dividing a set of objects by sharing
Identifying a dozen and half dozen

 Henry's favorite math lessons all involve candy.


Poor Ollie.  If something is going to happen, it seems to always happen to him.  We've noticed his eyes wandering a bit, so we took him to the ophthalmologist last week.  She saw it too, so we're doing alternate eye patching for two hours a day, six days a week.  Hopefully, this will be enough to strengthen his eye muscles and correct the issue.  We take him back in three months to see if it worked.
He's doing surprisingly well with the patching.  It helps that it's only for two hours.  We're using that time to do plenty of one-on-one work work with him.  Starfall keeps him distracted, so we're doing plenty of that.

Jane and Peter

Carrying on.

How about this Sede Vacante?  We've been trying to keep Henry abreast of the situation and explain things as we go along.  We watched the coverage of Pope Emeritus Benedict's final day on EWTN.  We also "adopted" a Cardinal via http://adoptacardinal.org/ Our Cardinal is Archbishop Antonio Varela of Spain.  Each night, after our Family Way of the Cross, we say a prayer for Cardinal Varela and for the upcoming conclave.

Easter is fast approaching and I am, thankfully, just about done with the Easter baskets.  Or bags.  We're doing bags this year instead of baskets.  Have you heard of Happy Saints?  They are so cute.  I wound up customizing canvas tote bags from their store on Zazzle.  I would have loved to have each kids' name saint, but they're a little obscure.  Instead, I tried to pick a saint who had some meaning for each child.

Now, how cute are those?  They cost less than a nice basket, too.  Now, what to put inside of them?  Well, we're trying to keep the Easter baskets a lot more religious and a lot less secular.  I found these neat pewter mini-statues from The Catholic Company:

St. Henry-Pewter StatueSt. Lucy-Pewter StatueSt. Jane-Pewter StatueSt. Peter-Pewter Figurine

They don't have St. Oliver Plunkett, sadly.  So, I picked St. Lucy for Oliver since he's having his eye issues.  Then, I looked up the patron saint for people who can't speak and found St. Drogo.  Unfortunately, they didn't have him either.  However, St. Anthony of Padua is also known as the restorer of speech.  So, I added one of those to the order.  Both St. Lucy and St. Anthony are on back order.  I hope at least one of them gets here before Easter.

We also ordered some Catholic coloring books, chocolate bunnies and carrots, and a small toy for each kid.  I'll pick up some holy cards from our parish gift shop this month, too.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 17 - 23, 2013

I have that "spring is approaching" curriculum fever again, although it's about a week earlier this year than last.  Why am I spending the morning researching microscopes for fifth-grade biology?  Must. Stop. Now.

What we did this week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 99-102 (writing the number 90, counting nickels; written assessment #19, oral assessment #10; writing the number 91, counting nickels and pennies; writing the number 92, identifying the geometric solids - cones and spheres)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 149-152 (the silent D before GE; the silent letter B, sight word: gone; the silent letter H; the silent letter U after G)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 74-77 (Ff; review C, E, F)
Henry's reading has definitely leveled up.  I plugged some excerpts into http://www.read-able.com/ and determined that he's easily reading independently at second grade level and reading with some prompting at fourth grade level.  Thank you, OPGTR!  His daily practice time has increased since we linked his game time to his reading time.  Right now, his ratio is 1:1.  If he keeps reading for an hour and a half to two hours at a time, though, that may go to 1:2.  I want to keep the video games to no more than an hour a day.  Very unfair of me, I know.

How about some pics?
Math is best done in pajamas, I always say.


Oliver's homework did not start off well.  The first time I sat him down for a table session, his face just crumpled and he started sobbing.  I don't think he liked me turning into a therapist.  So, I had to back off and approach it in a more natural way.  We wound up just playing with his cars, with me asking for the car he was holding, then making him mand for it to get it back.  That worked out a lot better.

His therapist is starting echoic shaping using the mand training foundation that they've already established.  We've been seeing glimpses of this at home already, with Oliver sometimes saying "cah" while he mands for a cracker.  I'm very hopeful that he'll pick this up quickly and we can start turning all of the different sounds he makes into meaningful requests.


Lots of Starfall.


Lots of fussing.  Please, teeth, just come out already.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 10 - 16, 2013

So far, so good with the new sleeping arrangements.  Most nights, Oliver is sleeping in his bed, in his room, and not waking up.  The other kids are doing great, too.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that everyone keeps it up.

What we did last week:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 95-98 (writing the number 86, counting by 100s; writing the number 87, drawing congruent shapes and designs; writing the number 88, measuring to the nearest inch using a ruler; writing the number 89, subtraction facts - subtracting two from a number)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 146-148 (the silent W before R; the silent W before H, review sight words; sight words: what, does)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 70-73 (Cc, Ee)
Lent has begun and we're keeping it pretty simple this year.  Each night, we're gathering around our little table and praying the Family Stations of the Cross from our book of Lenten devotions.


Oliver now has homework assignments.  We're doing short table sessions at home for the mands his therapist is working on at the center.  They are getting ready to really start testing his limits, so they want us to reinforce the things he's already mastered at home.


We're doing some casual counting lessons right now.  She's a bit enamored by the abacus, so we're doing a lot of counting to ten using the beads. 

I've noticed that Jane's memory is quite good.  She's been reenacting entire episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba using her "Gabba Friends."  I think I'll increase her Starfall time and see how much she can remember.


Peter is rolling all around, pushing himself along the floor on his back, and reaching the end of his swaddling days.  Time to move to a SleepSack.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

January 27th - February 9th, 2013

Yes, this covers two weeks worth.  Things have been busy around here and it doesn't look like it's going to let up any time soon.

Other than a couple of piles of homeless office supplies, the Great Reorganization is complete.  Everyone is settled into their new rooms (or in Jane's case, her new bed) and doing pretty well.  We're all a little tired, but I think it's going to be okay. At least, I'm hoping it's going to be okay.  Hoping and praying. (Please, God.  Let them sleep.)

Here's what we did and what we'll do tomorrow:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 90-94 (written assessment 17 and oral assessment 9; writing the number 82, counting by 10s from a single-digit number; writing the number 83, adding ten to a number; writing the number 84, ordering the numbers to fifty; writing the number 85, addition facts - sums of ten; writing the number 86, counting by 100s)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 140-145 (the silent letter pair GH: OUGH as short o and long o; GH as /f/, sight word: laugh; review the GH letter pair; the silent letter G before N; the silent L; the silent K before N)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 65-69 (Dd; O, A, D; writing a story)
  • Spelling Workout A: Well, I regret to say that I have no more patience for this workbook.  Henry can easily complete an assignment, but he has no idea how to apply the concept.  I don't know if it's the material or if he's too young for it or what.  All I know is that it's currently a waste of time.  For now, we're dropping spelling as a separate subject.  I have my eye on Spelling Power, but the author recommends starting it in second grade.  That's fine with me, although I'm open to other programs between now and then.
  • Who Am I?: Lesson 6K (Church Leaders)

The biggest thing with Oliver is that he's now in his own room and in his own bed.  When Matt has put him to sleep, he has slept all night.  When I've put him to bed, he's woken up each night.  Tonight should be my night to put him down, but we're going to have Matt do it instead and see what happens.

Therapy is going well.  He's been doing a lot of vocal play and imitation at home, so they may pick that up again soon.  Overall, Oliver is just a lot happier lately.  He laughs a lot now and makes funny faces at us and is generally more playful.  It's nice to see.


Jane is in a regular bed now in her room since she learned how to escape her crib.  She is doing great in it, too.  She stays in the bed all night with no issues.  In the morning, she climbs down on her own and comes out to find us.  I'm so glad that we waited to move her until she was getting out of the crib on her own.  I think it made the transition a lot easier.


Peter is now in Jane's old crib, sharing a room with Henry.  Up until now, he's spent most nights in the swing, so he's doing rather well, considering. 

So, how are we liking having the schoolroom downstairs?  It's nice.  Really nice.  It means that I can keep an eye on everyone while I cook meals, or sweep the floor, or clean the kitchen.  We're doing lessons at an adult-sized table, so I'm not hunched over the little kid one from the playroom.  We got a couple of new bookshelves to hold the schoolbooks and supplies, so everything is easy to get to and in one place.  And, since everything is downstairs, we don't have the looooooong transition time between breakfast and school anymore.  Once we're done eating or taking Oliver to therapy, we move right over to the school table and get our lessons done for the day.  Much, much easier.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 20 - 26, 2013

Another week in the books and another short post.  My dear husband has been putting in some long hours lately, which doesn't leave me with too much free time around here.  Or maybe it's the four children.  Either way...

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 87-89 (writing the number 79, telling time to the half hour; writing the number 80, dividing a square into fourths, coloring halves and fourths; writing the number 81, adding ten to a number)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 137-139 (review the silent letter pair GH, review the vowel pair OU, the silent letter pair GH: OUGH as /oo/ or /ou/)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 62-64 (Aa, Dd)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 25-27 (lessons 20-24 review, blends with r, blends with l)
I'm getting a little disillusioned with Spelling Workout.  I find it odd that each of the lessons focuses so much on finding misspelled words.  It seems kind of confusing to me.  Henry reads and writes phonetically, so if a word's spelling is phonetically correct, he assumes the spelling is correct also.  He reads a lot better than he spells, too.  So he can see a word like "though" and say it correctly, but if you asked him how to spell it, he'd write down "foe."  Enunciation issues don't help here.  For now, we'll stick with Spelling Workout and hope it improves, but I'm going to add in some spelling games and see if that helps.


Oliver continues to progress.  His independent mands increase each week.  He's doing a lot more echoic sounds, also.  We're still working on joint attention, though.


LeapFrog Letter Factory, plenty of coloring, and looking at books = one happy girl.


Rolling over both ways now, chewing on anything and everything, and still waking up once a night.

We're in the midst of a great reorganization of the house.  Oliver has been sleeping in our room for the past year because of his sleep disturbances, but he's been doing really well since his meds got changed and we think it's time to try him out in his own room.  So, we're bringing the schoolroom downstairs, moving Peter and Henry into the schoolroom, and putting the old boys' room as Oliver's room.  Henry likes having Peter in the room with him and Oliver needs quiet, so it should work out well.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 13 - 19, 2013

Very (very) short update:

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 84-86 (writing the number 76, counting large collections, grouping by 10s and 1s; writing the number 77, trading pennies for dimes; writing the number 78, adding two-digit numbers using dimes and pennies (with regrouping))
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 134-136 (the silent letter pair GH: IGH, EIGH, AIGH, AUGH)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 59-61 (writing sentences, Oo)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 22-24 (long vowel o, long vowel e, words with ou and ow)
Back to wrangling children!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 6 - 12, 2013 (Midpoint)

Back to work...

  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 80-83 (Written assessment 15, oral assessment 8; writing the number 73, identifying how many more; writing the number 74, identifying how many more; writing the number 75, making congruent shapes)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lessons 130-133 (review OU as long-oo and /ou/, the vowel pair OU as short-u; sight words: build, built, review sight words; Y alone as long-i; review of vowel pairs and patterns for short-vowel words)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 54-58 (Tt, ?, !, writing sentences, review)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 18-21 (short vowel e, lesson 14-18 review, long vowel a, long vowel i)
We've reached the halfway point of our year, so I've been doing some thinking about what the rest of kindergarten is going to look like.  Here's what I've (tentatively) come up with:

Math - Saxon Math 1 has only 130 lessons.  Here at our midpoint, we've actually completed almost two-thirds of the book.  So, what are we going to do when we finish?  Well, we could just go right into Saxon Math 2.  Or, we could do a little trust-but-verify and use a different math curriculum to make sure Henry actually understands grade 1 math and hasn't just figured out grade 1 Saxon math.

Because I am paranoid, we'll be doing the latter with this Math Made Easy workbook. $10.19 is pretty cheap for peace of mind.  I'll probably just skim through it a bit; there's no need to do every single page.  If Henry is able to complete each easily, we'll go ahead and begin Saxon Math 2.

Phonics - We're a little over halfway through The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  Henry has picked up each lesson fairly quickly, so I think we're moving at an appropriate pace.  According to the book's authors, we could begin First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1 and Writing with Ease Level 1, but I just don't see it happening at this point.  I know Henry would understand them (the first lessons are an introduction to common nouns and a simple copywork exercise), but I think we would be pushing the limits on his deskwork time when you factor in the amount of writing he's doing already in penmanship and spelling.  I'm a lot more comfortable with continuing phonics until the end of the book and starting the grammar and writing lessons in his official first grade year.

Spelling - There are only 15 lessons left in the first workbook.  We're easily completing a lesson a day, so Henry should be done with the book in another three weeks or so.  I am fine with him continuing straight into Spelling Workout B. (I probably should order that one soon.)

Handwriting - Again, we're almost halfway done with the first grade book.  I have, however, slowed Henry down from two pages per day to one page per day.  The amount of writing on each page is increasing and I'm trying to keep his penmanship time to ten minutes.  We'll finish this level at a leisurely pace and then I think we'll just reinforce over the next year.  The second grade level of Zaner-Bloser progresses into cursive writing pretty swiftly and I'm not in any rush to start that.

We'll continue with our catechism, of course, although Henry is getting a little bored with Who Am I?.  I don't really blame him, as the nursery, preschool, and kindergarten lessons are all pretty much the same.  We'll start up with Faith and Life next year and start hitting that a bit harder so he's ready for sacramental preparation in second grade.


Oliver continues to progress in therapy.  He's doing a lot more independent mands now and he's really starting to differentiate his signs and use them more accurately.  He's used the potty a few times now at the center and is beginning to show some more signs of potty-training readiness at home (such as removing his Pull-up and shorts whenever he needs to be changed and trying to flush the toilet whenever he has the chance).  I'm hearing more imitative sounds from him, too.  The big focus this week has been on eye contact and joint attention.  We're reinforcing that at home.


Little Miss has just about learned all of her letters and the sounds that they make.  We're still using the LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD in the car and I have to give it a lot of credit for what she has learned so far.  I have to chuckle a bit and wonder how much time I could have saved with Henry's early learning stage.  Jane is certainly doing a lot of organic and environmental learning, although she does enjoy her "wuk" at the table also.


Little man is just a big, smiley boy, despite the teeth that are definitely coming in now.  He's sleeping much better at night, has a good nap schedule during the day, and is slowly trying out some solids.  He's not too interested, but we're taking it slowly.  He's had some green beans, some hard-boiled egg yolk, and a frozen banana in one of those mesh feeders.  I think I'm going to start using the mesh feeder exclusively.  Peter doesn't seem to really like the purees much, not that I blame him, and I like that the mesh feeder can keep him occupied and happy when we're all eating at the table.

And speaking of tables, we're going to need a bigger one in the kitchen soon.  Jane's wanting to sit in a regular chair now and Peter is big enough to use the high chair.  There's just not enough space!  Matt's solution is to eat in the dining room, but I'm looking at those fabric seat cushions and shuddering in horror.  We need something sturdy and rustic that can withstand the four-child assault that will be unleashed upon it the moment it's set up.  And easy to clean.  Please.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

December 16, 2012 - January 6, 2013

Oh, that's right... we have a blog.

As you may have guessed, we decided (rather abruptly) to begin Christmas break a couple of weeks ago.  Lessons were taking longer and longer to get through and all a certain young boy wanted to discuss was December 25th.  So, here's what Henry did before we gave up on 2012:
  • Saxon Math 1: Lessons 78-79 (writing the number 71, addition facts - doubles plus one; writing the number 72, addition facts - doubles plus one)
  • The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: Lesson 129 (O alone as /ŭ/, sight words: one and once)
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 1: Pages 50-53 (L, I)
  • Spelling Workout A: Lessons 16-17 (short u sound, short o sound)
And here's what we've done since then:

Tomorrow, it's back to work.  Today, we're enjoying the Epiphany and savoring Matt's final days of leave.

Merry Christmas!