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.