Friday, April 23, 2010

The Curriculum Decisions are Finalized

First grade will be upon us in August, to our family this means that school time will go up a notch (or 5). Preschool and Kindergarten have been fairly easy-going, as we really only worked on reading and math. Soon we will be delving into history, science, music, and writing, and I for one am EXCITED!

Here's the basic rundown:
Ashton (1st grade)
Math - Saxon 2
Language Arts - Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease, First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Spelling Workout, Level A, Zaner Blosser Handwriting 1
History - Story of the World, Ancient Times
Geography - Legends and Leagues
Science - Exploring biology through DK Animal Encyclopedia, Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia, and Green Thumbs: A Kid's Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening
Music - Alfred's Prep Piano Course (I play well enough to teach it), and some classical music study.
At the co-op - Martial Arts, art class, and lego class

Hailey (Kindergarten)
Math - Horizons K
Language Arts - Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, Zaner Blosser Handwriting K
- Listening in to Ashton's lessons

Audrey (Pre-preschool)
Crumpling papers
Grabbing books
Napping occasionally

Money, Money, Money

I had an interesting talk with my husband tonight. I am honestly having trouble figuring out what he wants me to do as far as the kids' educations go. Money right now is a bit tight, as it seems to be for nearly everyone these days. If the kids were in school we would no longer have to pay for curriculum and enrichment opportunities, and I would also be free to get a job. We both agree that it is best for the kids to be at home, but it seems that he can't decide which is best for the family when everything is taken into consideration. It would seem that this confusion is really all my fault, because I TOTALLY freak out when I notice that the bank account is low. This happened a few weeks ago. Now I am feeling the wrath of my sudden, emotional outburst.

I really do want to do what is best for my family, and I trust that my husband does too. If he told me tomorrow that he wanted me to quit homeschooling the kids, I would quit. The thing is, he won't. He says that homeschooling is my decision to make. At this moment that seems to me an unfair burden to place the decision completely in my hands. Examining my own maturity and ability to handle a bank account that can bounce between flourishing and withering, contrasted with my passion for providing my children the best education I possibly can. Can I really keep myself in check when the bills appear to be higher than the balance of the checking account? I hope so. As of this moment, our only debt is our mortgage. Even that will be paid off sometime within the next year. We don't make a lot of money, but we live well within our means. Why does money scare me so much? Why does the act of paying bills nearly send me into a panic attack? It really makes no sense to me when I think about it logically.

Tonight my husband said something along the lines of, "Lack of money must not be that big of a deal because if it were, you would have found a way to increase your income." In addition to homeschooling, I work as a secretary at our church 10 hours a week. This job does not pay much, but it certainly does help. I also try to run the office for our contracting business, but I have had great difficulty finding enough time in the day to do that job, and I come nowhere close to doing it properly. I am not really sure what else I can realistically do to bring more money into the house. I enjoy painting, but I am not especially talented. I also enjoy knitting and cooking, but again, nothing special.

What to do? I suppose just vent to the vast www.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Curriculum

I finished reading the book The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer. Wow! I think every parent should read the book. I found it very insightful, particularly in understanding mental development and capabilities at different stages of childhood. This book is a Pre-K to 12 curriculum (meaning it tells you what to check out from the library & what to do with it) that teaches according to the trivium. The trivium, for those unfamiliar with the term, is comprised of the three basic subjects which all other subjects fall into - Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. In the grammar stage, 1st -4th grade, students learn facts. Beginning around 5th grade to 8th grade students enter the logic stage, they ask questions and explore the meaning of facts. High school is spent learning how to formulate effective arguments based on facts, the rhetoric stage. That was my watered down attempt at describing it, Susan and Jessie do a FAR better job. Check the book out at your library!

We have recently switched over to The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. This book contains scripted lessons from the very beginning (short sound of A) to the very end (supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) in 231 lessons. Of course, you go through the lessons at the child's pace and review as necessary. It looks like it takes about 2 years for an average child to get through all the lessons. Ashton is now on Lesson 61, Digraphs WH and PH. Hailey is on Lesson 3, Short I. Ashton can easily go through at least 1 lesson a day, while we are taking 3 days to a week per lesson with Hailey right now. Reading seems to be a subject that is fairly difficult to begin, but gets easier and easier with practice.

There is more I could write, but it is time to be off to soccer practice right now!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why Do You Home School?

I have been awful about getting on here and posting. In attempt to change that, I pose THE loaded question for families who home-educate their children. Why do you home school?

Everyone asks, Mom and Dad, Soccer Coach, Best Friend, etc. Those with children in school or grown often feel the need at this point (sometimes before an answer is even given) to qualify their reasoning for taking advantage of the public school system. Possibly these parents are threatened by Home Schooling Parent, and want to make DANG sure she knows that they made the right decision for their family. Others seem to have reached a collective consciousness; school gives parents a necessary break. Inundated with stories of hyperactive children and homework tantrums, need for dual income or fear of isolating a child from peers, it becomes apparent that the questioner is inferring one of three things about the questionee. Either A, Home Schooling Parent's children are perfect, B, Home Schooling Parent is completely obsessed with her child, or C, Home Schooling Parent is some kind of zealot who is paranoid that the public education system will indoctrinate and inevitably ruin her child. We all know that A is false, leaving us with either B or C (either way - CRAZY!)

After two years of home schooling, and still lacking a quick response to that question, I found that I was asking it of myself. After much reflection I have found my answer to the question, "Why do you home school?" No one item below is THE definitive reason, but taken collectively they provided me with enough evidence to suggest that I am making the right decision for our family.

*I truly believe that parents can more effectively teach their own children than a 'teacher'
*To strive for academic excellency, not just a passing WASL test.
*To sensor material being taught for quality and accuracy
*To get to re-learn everything!
*To protect my kids from other kids (Have you ever read Lord of the Flies!?)
*To slow life down a bit and spend time enjoying the family, not just running between sports practices and McDonald's
*Health concerns (food allergies and ADD)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It Is Better to be Slightly Concerned About Socialization Than Very Concerned About Socialism

Our first week of the 2009-2010 school year is complete!

This week in history we learned all about the first men. We talked about nomads who had to wander around looking for plants, berries, and animals. Ashton and I made a cave and he had fun making cave paintings of horses and oxen - just like the nomads, although I believe tempra paint was not an option at the time... We learned that some nomads found that they could grow plants on purpose by leaving the seeds in dirt and watering them. They no longer had to wander from place to place, and became the first farmers. (This led in well with Hailey's pre-K program which is focusing on food grown on farms right now.) We blasted through talking about the first civilizations in the Fertile Crescent (the land between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers) which is located in present day Iraq. The rise of the Sumerians, conquering and falling of the Assyrians, and the gaining of the Babylonian empire.

Keep in mind this is Kindergarten, so I am not expecting him to really remember any of this in detail. He is really enjoying listening to all the reading so far though. What has been most interesting to me is the type of questions he is asking. Perhaps this is the intent of the program... it isn't so much learning about specific events in history as it is learning about the human condition. "Is an army bad guys?" Wow. Talk about a difficult question to answer! My answer is that an army is made up of soldiers, and it is those soldiers' job to do what their boss (the leader of the country) says. Sometimes the leaders have bad motives, and sometimes they are just trying to protect their people.

Math has been super easy this week. We just switched from Singapore pre-K to Horizons K. We'll see how Horizons goes, but when he is finished we will probably switch back to Singapore. I only switched because Horizons came free with the History/Phonics package I purchased. So far it seems MUCH easier than Singapore, and Ashton has a pretty mathematical mind. I think next week I will let him finish as many worksheets as he wants (he ALWAYS wants to do more math than we do in a day). It seems that he has sorta forgotten his left and right though. He remembers when I ask him which hand he writes with.

We are switching from a horizontal phonics program to a vertical phonics program, so right now reading is a bit of a step backwards. When we really have "all" the letter sounds and combinations down I think the vertical method will translate much better into actual reading of real books, not just phonics readers.

Oh, we got a violin this week too. It is 1/8 size and so cute and tiny! Ashton's first Orchestra class is next Tuesday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Prettiest Baby on the Block

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The True Story of a Home Birth Turned Car Birth

Taken from my Myspace.

When we decided to become pregnant, my husband and I also decided that the hospital was just not the right place for us to have a baby (so long as everyone was healthy). My reasons - The whole IV, constant monitoring while strapped to the bed thing didn't work too well for me before, psychologically speaking. His reasons - hospitals are places where SICK people go... why subject a healthy woman and baby to possibly getting MRSA? (side note- Ashton caught MRSA from the hospital about 7 months ago - he is over it, thank God) I began my pregnancy by looking into alternative options, which at the time were either the free-standing birth center in Kennewick, or a home birth.

I had my first prenatal appt. at the birth center in Kennewick, didn't really click with the midwife, and learned that the center was going to be closing before my pregnancy was term, then the center midwives would be doing home births only. My Dr. for the past 12 years or so has been a local Naturopath, who also happens to be a midwife (home births only). So, since the birth center was out, I decided to go with her for a home water-birth.

My pregnancy went well, especially when compared to the previous two, no ultra-high blood pressure, yay! At about 34 weeks my Braxton-Hicks contractions became really strong, and I was ordered to bed rest until 37 weeks to prevent pre-term labor. 37 weeks came... and passed, all the while the contractions continued. During my 38 week appointment (which was Christmas Eve) my blood pressure was elevated, but I was dilated to 3. My midwife and I decided to try a form of inducing labor, and to see if my body would go for it. She stretched my cervix from 3 to 6 cm. Sounds painful, but really wasn't that bad. Kendall & I left the appointment and went to the grocery store. I was having pretty hard contractions (although I could still keep up a conversation through them) 3 mins apart. When we got home, we called the midwife. About 15 minutes later she was at our house with her assistant. Then we waited... 5 hours... the contractions were continuing, but no progress was being made. The midwives left to spend the rest of Christmas Eve with their families, and gave me instructions to call if my contractions became any more intense. By the end of the night the contractions were gone.

I spent Christmas grumpy and contracting. I was 6 cm dilated! When was the baby going to come out? Dec 26.... Dec 27.... came and went. We woke up Sunday the 28... no contractions. That morning we decided not to go to church, as Hailey had been sick the day before. We would have been pulling up in the church parking lot at 11:00... which happens to be exactly when my contractions started, and about 30 seconds between them. I had had so many false starts already. These were strong, but I wanted to have them for at least 1/2 hour before calling the midwife. I got in the shower.

I realized that every time I had a contraction I was kneeling down in the shower, because I really couldn't stand through the contractions (they really were not painful, uncomfortable and crampy, but not PAIN). After a 10 minute shower, I got out and asked Kendall to call my parents to get the kids, and let the midwife know that I needed her.

........ This is where the story gets good .......

11:15 - Kendall calls dad, he is on his way. Then he calls the midwife... on her cell, emergency pager, home phone, and office phone... no answers, he left a message on each line. I am down stairs on the couch, hoping that this is not just another false start.

11:45 - Dad shows up to get the kids. I am on the toilet. I feel fine between contractions, but during them I am worried about not knowing where the midwife is, although I am sure that I have hours of labor ahead (after all, I can handle these contractions, they will get much, much worse I am sure) Kendall is continuing to call the midwife every couple of minutes.

12:00 - Kendall is still calling the midwife, I am beginning to feel pretty scared about her not being on her way over. I don't want to be scared, because everything I have read about birth basically says that fear causes tension, which causes pain. And I did not want to have unnecessary pain. When Kendall comes upstairs to check on me, I am trying to lay down in bed, hoping it will slow things down until we can reach the midwife. However, I was finding it nearly impossible to remain laying down through a contraction, being upright was just far more comfortable. This is when I start to think... we are going to have to go to the hospital.

12:15 - When Kendall comes upstairs to check on me, I tell him we need to go to the hospital. Between contractions, we go downstairs. I am on the living room floor having another contraction, and Kendall tries the midwife one last time, telling her we are on our way to Lourde's. While he is leaving this message on all of her phones, I get my shoes on walk out to the car, through the swampy, melting snow mess. (Those of you who have been to my house know that the only thing behind it is dirt... or in this case really deep mud). I can feel another contraction coming on, and really don't want to go hands & knees in the mud... I push through, and get the car door open before collapsing on the front two seats. Kendall gets out to the car about when this contraction ends, and we begin the 10 block drive to Lourde's. About halfway there - aka 30 seconds from my house - I feel a pretty intense pressure, and my water breaks. Damn, I should have put something underneath me! Kendall pulls into the Emergency entrance at Lourde's. I am ripping my pants off... I can feel the head crowning. He runs inside long enough to say "My wife is having a baby in the car" and comes back outside. I have been trying as hard as I can not to push... in fact I am sort of pushing the head with my hand to try to keep it in. Kendall is outside again, and sitting on the door frame on my side. I can keep it together no longer... the head comes out.

12:25 - We both sit there for what feels like minutes, but was probably only 1 or 2 seconds, figuring out what to do. The baby makes a small cry! Not even out yet. Kendall figures all must be well, so tells me to go ahead & push baby out. He maneuvers baby's shoulders just like the midwife told him to (in case of emergency birth, that we of course would not need, b/c the midwife lives about 5 miles from us), and out baby comes, no problem. He hands the baby to me (still fully reclined in the passenger seat) when his phone rings. It is the midwife. She got our messages, and is taking the 4th Street exit right now (which is about a mile from Lourde's), and will be at our house in about 3 minutes.

Suddenly, the Emergency room doors fly open wildly, out fly a few Dr.'s and nurses, with tons of blankets. Someone bounces a gurney off the side of the car. A clearly shaken Dr. approaches me with scissors and says that he needs to cut the cord. I tell him no. I say, "We were going to have a home birth, our midwife just called, she is at our house, we live a few blocks down the street, we are just going to go home." Dr. tells me this can't happen because of the risk of infection to me and the baby. I am well read enough to know that infections are rare when the birth takes place in your family's environment, as you are already used to the bacterias. I know that if they get me out of the car, there will be intravenous antibiotics for me and baby, and 2 days of being stuck at the hospital, not to mention the fact that we would have to pay about $5000 out of pocket before our insurance kicked in (as compared to $1800 for a home birth that was already paid for). I know the Dr. was doing what he felt was right... but the hard part was over, and I was certainly not going to give in now.

Kendall, relieved to know that I was in no mood to be admitted to the hospital, shut my car door, got behind the wheel, and began to back slowly around the Dr's trying to block us in the parking lot. They ask for our names, which we give them through the window, they tell us that they will have to file paperwork to protect the hospital, we tell them that's fine.

We get home just as the midwife is arriving, she cuts the cord and hands baby to Kendall to take inside, then helps me walk back through the swamp, into the house. Then the whole placenta thing happens. Only after that when she asks if we know what we have, do I realize that I still don't know if we have an Audrey or a Kingston. Audrey! We all sit around and look at each other for a few minutes, then try to breastfeed the baby. While baby and I are working on that, Kendall goes outside with the shop-vac to clean the car. Then the cop shows up.

Although the sight of Kendall cleaning blood out of the car was probably a dead give-away, he asks anyway. Were you guys just at the hospital? He was just checking to make sure everything was OK. That we were getting medical attention, and that, no, CPS was not necessary in this case. He talks to K for a bit, and then the midwife. Everything is all cleared up, but I do feel bad that we caused such a stir at the hospital. The poor ER Dr's thought we were completely irrational.

It is a pretty crazy story, but, having done it, I would want it no other way. The look on Kendall's face as he helped his baby into the world was priceless.