Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Morning

Starting off the day with Pumpkin Spice doughnuts and family morning devotions.

Elinore finally climbed over the gate yesterday. The upstairs is no place for her to be alone, so I can't consider her "safe," but the gate will still slow her down.

She wore clothes for an hour this morning- I bribed her with a lollipop. Bad mommy.

Backyardigans are her absolute favorite television viewing pleasure. She can ask for some of her favorite episodes with a word or two: Newsflash ( reporters from W_IOWa with breaking news about corn),
Newspaper ( about delivering newspapers in fairy tale village, and Austin thinks the inhabitants all want to eat him), and Robot on a Rampage.

She is also quite impressed with the robot animation on Starfall for the letter r.

Poor child is yelling about being cold, but already took her clothes off again. How do I explain to her that they will help her stay warm?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dora Candyland

So I decided it's time for Elinore, age 3 and one month, to learn how to play Candyland. My mom gave her the Dora version for her birthday last month.

Kudos to this version for using primary colors that resemble what I am actually using to teach her colors. Here is the process for teaching Elinore how to play this game:
  • Look at the color cards and name the colors (yeah, that was all me).
  • Look at the picture cards, and locate them on the board. My newly talking 3 yr. old impressed me with her vocabulary: princess, crown, Dora, Boots, Swiper (Swiper gave her nightmares when she was a year old), Pirate Piggies, mermaid.
  • Find start, trace the path, find Finish.
  • I am exhausted, that's enough for a first lesson on how to play a game.
I would love to show some pictures of Elinore's Dora adventure, but let's see, my newly talking 3 yr. old throws her clothes, shouting, "I don't like it-clothes!!"

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stubborn Girl

My darling little sweetheart, aged 3 and one week refuses to potty train. She sleeps all night in underwear ( in my bed) and I know she stays dry.

 And she just changed her own diaper!

She wears Pull-Ups, and just ran past me muttering, "Need a change!" I check on her in her sneaky spot and see a naked butt. So I calmly put the wet Pull-Up in the trash, and by the time I got back to the living room, she already had another one on.

Um, that's a sign she's ready for training, right?

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Two Weeks in Review (Seventh grade)

Well, we started off with a bang, finishing ahead of our scheduled time, only to have difficulties arise as early as lesson 6. The first few days went well and quickly partly due to finishing the first two Algebra lessons, giving us an extra 50 minutes for unforseen situations.

Bible: Hannah is working on the ancient Israelites, reading in Exodus, drawing stick figures to remember the scripture covered.

Algebra I: Last year math started with a warm-up, this year, it's Check Skills You'll Need. So far, we've covered variables, exponents, order of operations, number categories (whole, real, counting, integers, rational, irrational), + - / * rational numbers, distributive property, and matrices. Wow, that's a lot.

Science: We have covered lab safety, a modern scientist, metric measurement, living things, classifying organisms, taxonomic keys, and domains and kingdoms.

History: Across the Centuries picks up where we left off last year with A Message of Ancient Days. Hannah is reading about transportation, and the fall of Rome.

Geography: Hannah started with a review of earth's place in space and how this affects the days, months, seasons and years. We are comparing map projections, reviewing longitude and latitude, and mapping ancient Israel.

Composition: We discussed the writing process (prewriting, rough draft, edit/revise, proofread, publish), e-mailed a friend, began a narrative account, vocabulary, unity, coherence, and the order of ideas.

Grammar: Grammar begins at the beginning: sentences, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, subject, predicate, simple subject, simple predicate, and beginning diagramming.

Reading: We began the first day of school with poetry, "A December Day,"and "The Mist and All," " A Visit from St. Nicholas," "Come Into My Tropical Garden," "The Charge of the Light Brigade,"We studied rhythm, rhyme scheme, repetition, meter, internal rhyme, and free verse. We read 11 chapters of Around The World in 80 Days and discovered that in spite of having a hot air balloon on the cover of many versions of the book, Jules Verne's story does not include air travel! We have extensive vocabulary lists, a map, and a character bank.

Spelling: We've had two chapters of spelling so far and she gets some wrong on the pretest, and aces the posttest.

Music: For Music at present, we are using BrainPop to study musical genres. We will try to unearth composer studies from the basement.

Phys. Ed.: Where we live, PE is tough. We are starting a log book to keep track of "progress."

Art History: Architecture is our focus this year. So far,we've looked at Egyptian pyramids, obelisks, and Stonehenge.

Art: For art, Hannah drew a diagram of a pyramid including ways to discourage tomb raiders, and we did a papier mache of a trilithon with toilet paper rolls.

Technology: Technology is long at this point, 25 minute videos, mostly of things she already knows, but you can't switch the order, and there is valuable stuff later. So she has reviewed computer safety, basic vocabulary, menus, toolbars, OSs, keyboarding, networking, and web browsing. We are using BrainPop, Discovery Streaming, and Easy Tech.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

School and the Telephone

It's not exactly a hard and fast rule, but I don't necessarily answer the telephone during school. I also don't check the caller ID to "screen" calls. And I also do not have the answering machine on.

If Hannah is working well on her own, and Elinore is occupied, I will probably answer the phone. If we are running later than I like, I don't answer the phone.

I don't check the caller ID so no one feels like I am ignoring just him or her. If it has been awhile since I answered the phone, I call Jeff at work so he doesn't worry.

The reason I don't have the answering machine on is that once it records a message, it gives an annoying beep every few minutes.

I try to get back to whomever has called, but truthfully, if I wasn't answering the phone because I feel behind, I am not likely to catch up. We may be finishing up after dinner, or Elinore is needing attention, or I am just wiped out from trying to balance all my responsibilities.

This also extends to the door: I may not answer it. I know someone went to the trouble to visit, but my priority is the care and education of my children. Also, there is probably a mess on the floor from letting Elinore have free reign while I focus on Hannah.

So, I'm sorry, I am not free to socialize just because I am home during the day. If you want to visit in the middle of the school day, call to make an appointment and offer to bring lunch, like my mom did.

Thanks Mom

Saxon Math Kindergarten

Elinore started her first day of Saxon Math Kindergarten level today. I had already looked through it and discovered it does not lend itself to starting whenever. It definitely has a September start date.

Elinore is definitely not ready for Kindergarten on any level. Looking through Saxon math, I feel like it does a great job with calendar and circle-time-like activities. It is very hands on with exploring math manipulatives, today's being pattern blocks. It also emphasizes time management ("It's almost time to put the pattern blocks away. You have 2 more minutes.") and if you actually time it, understanding the time value of minute. Also quite important, personal responsibility ("You need to put the blocks away. Pick them up and put them in the basket.") is stressed. In lesson 4, we get introduced to counting bears. Always first, the introduction encourages free play before using them for actual math purposes.

So if Elinore is not ready for Kindergarten math, why are we starting Saxon math K?

She can play with math manipulatives.
It won't hurt her to keep doing calendar~it'll stick someday.
It provides some extra structure to our day.
The personal responsibility part of putting away her math tools is awesome!

Class of One

If your only student goes to the bathroom, you can't just continue teaching!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Made it Through Hurricane Irene

Well, I know for a fact that we are fortunate, because we made it through a hurricane and an earthquake, both in the same week.

Hurricane Irene, much maligned on the news all week, gave the entire East Coast something to think about.

I thought about how much I love my family, how much I trust God when it's easy and how much I trust God when I have no control over the circumstances.

I thought about how we lost power for six days after Hurricane Isabel, and how much I hate being in the dark. I thought about looters and food spoilage and how to entertain the family without electricity.

I considered moving to another state, but it was a little late for that.

I thought about if we could still do school, if Jeff would have to work, and did we have enough food if the stores were all closed.

We came through the hurricane with no damage, little flooding, and no electricity loss.

I started thinking about other people. I thought about the half a million people in Maryland who lost power and the five million on the whole coast. That's a lot of people, I thought. I thought about those who lost their lives and what it meant to the people who loved them. I thought about material loss and the struggles with faith that might ensue.

I thought about what it meant to be "blessed." Was I blessed because I lost nothing? Were others less blessed because they had lost some, or much? What is the official church-y definition of blessed?

I decided the opposite of "blessed" is not un-blessed, or less blessed~it is "challenged."

God blesses us and he challenges us. He answers prayer ("Please keep us safe") and he lets us wait and he sometimes answers, No.

And though I lost nothing, I thought even if I had, I could sing with the hymnist, "It is Well."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School for Hannah

Hannah's first day of seventh grade will always be memorable, because not long after we finished...
So we had finished in record time, having pre-completed Algebra I and a 25 minute technology video. We are trying to follow the schedule set in the lesson manual and start at 8:30 and finish by 2:30.
Our neighbor came to the door so her little sister could use the potty ( it's a hardship to have just one bathroom when you have more than four children) and she no sooner shut the door when the room started shaking.
"Sweetie (not her real name), is there shaking outside, too?"
"No!" she exclaimed. So I sent Hannah upstairs to turn off the washer, which must be a whopper out of balance!! The whole house was shaking, things were coming off the walls, and it felt like the washer would explode. Hannah did not want to go upstairs, but I was holding the sleeping baby, and she must've realized it would be better to stop it before something worse happened. By then the shaking had stopped and I tried to get the five yr. old to use the bathroom. Her big sister questioned the sanity of this instruction: "Is it safe?" I tried, but did not communicate well, that if it was not safe, it was best to get the bathroom needs out of the way before we started panicking.

Then the phone rang, and I was informed that it had to be an earthquake, which news reports did confirm. We were on edge the rest of the day, starting at each sudden noise, thinking we'd have an aftershock.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elinore's Birthday

Baby girl is three years old now.

To celebrate her last day of being two, she wanted to go to Ikea and the Book Thing (why does everyone snicker when I say that? Just because she's pre-verbal?) So we scurried over two buses to get to the Book Thing early enough for some choice books, to the tune of 124. I know, that sounds like a lot, but we share, and also we purge. Sometimes. Some of my favorite finds are four Lifepac Accounting workbooks. There are six missing, but they are less than $5 each at CBD, so we still saved money. They are for me, because I don't know accounting, and moms should have the opportunity to learn, too.

I found Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech, an award winning writer. I picked up 11 Real Simple magazines and 20 Teacher's Mailbox magazines. Elinore got a scratch and sniff book, Winnie the Pooh Gets Stuck, and many more that will go back at the first chance. She loves picking out books. Hannah found Eragon.

While we waited on the bus stop, some kind folks offered use free school supplies. Unfortunately, we were waiting for the bus and didn't want to risk missing it. So one of the volunteers went inside and prepared bags for us! What a blessing! Free books and free school supplies.

At Ikea, she tried out all the beds and pretended to sleep and insisted on eating at the little cafeteria they have. She only ate fries, though.

Fortunately, she slept some on the bus on the way home. It was a long day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not Back to School Bloghop~school pictures

Clipped Elinore's hair up so you can't see where she cut it!

Hannah is in seventh grade with Algebra I and Elinore is in Nursery school. I am looking forward to seeing all the creative photos on the Not Back to School Bloghop!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


WE MADE IT TO 1,000 HITS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You 1,000 Times To All Who Looked At Our Blog!Thanks From Me Hannah, Mr. Jeff, Mom, and Elinore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

While Trying to be a Good Wife and Mother (Making Dinner)

Elinore decided on a new hairstyle.

Not Back to School Bloghop-School Spaces

Once again, I have a few observations from the bloghop:
  1. Homeschoolers love books
  2. We love bookshelves (IKEA is popular with homescholars)
  3. Bloghoppers like to be organized; some clean for pictures and some don't, but even the don't clean before photos don't look too bad
  4. Homeschoolers like to school all over the house and outside
  5. Lots of us wish we had a dedicated schoolroom
  6. Everyone is doing a great job not complaining about their spaces.
  7. Some with dedicated school rooms don't use them!
  8. The most practical dedicated school rooms are in a central location, usually close to the kitchen
  9. I am attracted to the colorful, well-organized school room
  10. There are very few pictures of moms!

I just posted recently about reorganizing my space, so some of this is a repeat.

Bookshelf/storage space

Work area
The table is never really this cleaned off. Piles of papers and schoolbooks migrate from one end to the other depending on whether we are schooling or eating. Also, Elinore schools from the booster, but she's really too big for it, and too small to sit in the chair without one. Any suggestions?

Hannah's space
Hannah's proposed schedule

Hannah does not actually school much at her desk, it's more for organizing, apparently. I don't mind if she works at the table with me and Elinore, but Elinore messes with her work. With markers. And glue stick. And scissors. Ad nauseum.

I am not one of those moms who like to have school all over the house and outdoors. Our neighborhood is not too safe, not even the backyard. Once I found a stranger in my backyard looking for something he "lost." Turned out to be a gun he used to commit a crime. Threw it when he was being chased down the alley by police. It was in my next-door-neighbor's yard.  'Nuff said.

I don't mind free reading on the couch, but I don't like other subjects there. Calvert seventh is all about learning to take notes. Just about every subject includes note-taking in one form or another. I don't think you can juggle a text and your notebook and use your best handwriting. Hannah has to use her best handwriting because her less-than-best tends toward illegible.

So, if  you like to peak into other schoolrooms, you should check out the bloghop at Heart of the Matter.

Free Book

Hannah's dad took her last week to Barnes & Noble to turn in her summer reading log. She picked the book Pandora Gets Jealous. She also purchased two books: The Thirteen Curses, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tot School

We are still doing school lite, but first official day of school is just two weeks away. I can hardly wait!

Elinore loved life school with daddy last week because he let her use a hammer~ yes, a real one!

Also, he cleaned out the tugboat sandbox and turned it into a wading pool.
Speech with Miss Heather on Friday this week included Don't Break the Ice and lots of bubble popping.

Occupational Therapy with Miss Jody brings her an hour of delight each week. This week, we had swing time, cutting, pasting and drawing in a plus shape, eating with a spoon.

At home for Tot School, we did blocks, cutting and pasting, Legos, and Magnetix.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hannah's Birthday

Made with Cricut

We didn't have very much time for the World Wide Web yesterday. Hannah turned eleven! Oh my. All the moms that record these on blogs talk about how fast they grow up (they do), and how they can't believe how much the birthday child has grown and changed (she did). These are universal truths.

So we will skip lightly over the cliches. Birthday surprises are so much fun. But there is an aspect of birthdays that is also fun: getting exactly what you want. Hopefully we had a good combination of both.

Hannah spent the day before her birthday and overnight with her dad. Since he had to be at work, we thought she'd be here for a late breakfast made to her exact specifications: waffles, sausage, lemonade freezy drink. She didn't get home till after lunch, so we made a raincheck for Friday. After a big breakfast and before her huge dinner, she only wanted a light lunch of egg-over-easy sandwich with Rice Krispy Treats. Since she was late, we skipped the sandwich, and went right on to the treats.

Hannah's main gift this year was the trip to Savannah, Georgia with Girl Scouts. However, what's the fun of a birthday without something to open? Hannah got the new version of Clue called Secrets and Spies that will actually send messages to your cell phone during the game! We didn't get to try it out yet, but I can't wait to see how it's played.

Cate and Bill came over for dinner of Hannah's menu design: T bone steak, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, homemade buttermilk biscuits, and French vanilla cake frosted with vanilla. Jeff took off work to celebrate with her and he handled most of the dinner preparations on his own. Elinore thinks Bill is amazing and wouldn't let him out of her sight. She even tried to follow him outside and to the bathroom!

Hannah is amazing, herself. She is kind, thoughtful, and considerate. She is a loyal friend, a loving sister, a wonderful daughter. She loves her cat, but desperately wants a puppy, longs for a backyard to play in, but doesn't want to move, enjoys reading, but hates cleaning her room. She's a great critical thinker, skilled at math, hates composition. Ready to get baptized, shares generously, teases her family, has great fashion sense. Her independence has grown to the point that she has spent three separate weeks away from home. Currently, Hannah's goal is to start college by the time she is thirteen.

Happy Birthday Hannah!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Still Not Back to School

Only twenty more days till school starts here. I am itching to get started. When I made the schedule, I was feeling generous about summer vacation. Hopefully, next yeaar I will remember how hard it is to  wait. Hannah hates to admit it, but she has admitted, that she, too, can't wait for school to start. She gets bored in the summer. Just not bored enough to start school almost three weeks early.

This is my first time entering the Not Back to School bloghop. I know, though, that since there are already over 200 blogs registered, very few will make it this far. If you did, wow, that is persistence!

The curriculum we use here has been the family choice since 1991. Only one year did we do the eclectic dance to save money, and while I enjoyed it, I would rather spend my free time with my kids than researching, planning, buying, etc. So  I present to you, Calvert. Calvert is pretty all inclusive and is in use at the Baltimore brick and mortar school of the same name.

Hannah's Seventh Grade

Math, all the way to eighth grade, is published by Calvert. We finished seventh grade math and used Aleks for pre-algebra and this year we are using Prentice-Hall.
Bible, we purchased at a homeschool fair, is Early History of Israel by Explorer's Bible Study. Hannah chose it because she likes ancient Egypt, and guess what? Egypt played a huge role in the early history of Israel. I like that it's brief, scheduled daily, uses actual Scripture, and includes memory work. This is not a Calvert book.

Science uses Prentice-Hall, and is what you call meaty.There are five textbooks, and no skipping around, either. From Bacteria to Plants; Animals; Human Biology and Health; Motion, Forces, and Energy; Sound and Light. Calvert includes supplies to perform some of the experiments.

Literature includes Classic Poems to Read Aloud; Kidnapped; The Miracle Worker (a play); Around the World in Eighty Days; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Calvert also included Diary of Anne Frank, but Hannah is a sensitive girl, and not ready to deal with the Holocaust. I may substitute A Wrinkle in Time.

Language Arts uses Everyday Spelling andHolt's Elements of Language.

Technology, naturally, is online, Easy Tech lessons and applications across the curriculum. Also online, instructional videos, a library of reference tools, a BrainPop subscription and hopefully soon, Discovery Streaming.

Social Studies, aka History and Geography, use Houghton-Mifflin Across the Centuries and Glencoe Geography-The World and Its People. Both are the second year of a two year set. The geography text is my least favorite. It is bor-ing.

Art, a perennial favorite, uses A Child's History of Art, Architecture. This comes with Art cards and hands-on lessons that relate to the text.

And not included in Calvert, but required by the State of Maryland:

PE, for which I loathe planning and executing, once a week on the Wii Fit, and once a week free play

Music, which I wish we could unschool for, famous composers from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Elinore's Nursery School

Elinore, sweet, girly, and almost three, will be casual schooling. We will continue with Tot School by Carissa. We are about to start the letter O.

We are also using ABeka for Art, Numbers, Letters and Sounds, and Language Development cards.

We also like Kumon workbooks for cutting, pasting, coloring, mazes, and numbers.

We have several Evan-Moor titles: Fun with the Alphabet, Alphabet Puppets, All About My Body, Phonics Centers, Literature Pockets-Nursery Rhymes, and Early Learning Centers.

I like the Rod & Staff Preschool Series, we have workbooks A-F, and the Bible Storybook.

We have Crayola supplies out the ears: crayons, colored pencils, paint, dry erase activity center, markers, and more. Don't get me wrong, we can always find a way to use more!

We also seem to be collecting Lauri foam toys: upper and lower case alphabet puzzles, Tall Stacker, Fit-A-Space.

And finally, in September, we are starting Saxon Math Kindergarten. We got the teacher's manual free at the Book Thing.

Elinore gets speech therapy an hour a week at home, occupational therapy once a week at the center run by Kennedy Kreiger, and physical therapy every other week for half an hour at the center. At the end of August, she will get a special instruction teacher at home once a week for an hour ( I think).

Not Back to School Bloghop

So, don't tell my husband, but I visited over 250 blogs on the "Not Back to School" bloghop. Now, normally, I don't have that kind of time, but the stars aligned, and I just skimmed most of them, and now I have a few observations to share.
  • I didn't see anyone else using Calvert. I know lots of people use Calvert, but on this particular bloghop, there was mostly eclectic I-can-put-together-my-own-curriculum homeschoolers with a chunk of Sonlighters, ABeka,  and a few My Father's World and Winter Promise users thrown in for good measure.
  • A math program I am unfamiliar with, Life of Fred, kept popping up.
  • Tot school by Carissa came up a lot.
  • All kinds of families homeschool, one parent, two parents, one kid, seven kids, everything in between, families with multiples, families with multiple multiples, and kids with special needs.
  • Almost all the families include Bible and religious studies, but only Catholics and one Mormon family openly admit to a specific denomination. I wonder why?
  • I love pictures of Box Day. I highly recommend putting your year's curriculum in a box and letting the student open it. Even if it's used.
  • Most moms (I didn't notice any dad bloggers) admit to enjoying the perusing, choosing, and planning of the school year. A few admit to flying by the seat of their pants because they don't like planning. I did not know these people really existed.
  • Almost everyone admitted to plans being subject to change.
And now I have saved my readers from looking at 250 blogs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Thanks to everyone that looked at our blog, we have over 500 hits! Thank you from Mr. Jeff, my Mom Kathy, me Hannah, and Elinore!

Fortunately, Unfortunately

After many days in a row of Code Red weather alerts with hundred degree weather and heat indices at, like, 115, the weather breaks, and the electric goes off. Power company says it should take around four hours to fix. Four hours with no air conditioning, no fan to even move hot air around, and no computer. Boo, we Americans are so spoiled.

Hannah's grandma had already planned to take her bowling and swimming, and she arrived minutes later and offered to let me and Elinore tag along.

No one foresaw Elinore would understand and want to participate in bowling, and in the few minutes of scrambling to leave, I didn't grab socks.

The lady at the bowling alley had a three year old and looked the other way while Elinore wore her bowling shoes with no socks.

Elinore dropped the ball on her foot.
She was wearing those ugly bowling shoes.

She got bored wandering around the bowling alley.

We were going to McDonald's for chicken nuggets- one of her best pronounced words.

And the rest of the story is fortunately:

I remembered everyone's swimsuit and sunscreen (though Hannah didn't use any) and towels.
Jeff finished work early.
Aunti Di was willing to pick him up.
Jeff brought home about five dozen doughnuts.
He borrowed trunks (what?! I didn't know he would finish early).
We all played in the pool together, Elinore's first time in her Grandma's pool.
The electricity was back on when we got home.

Hannah likes water play

Doesn't she look like she's having fun?

Elinore and Aunti Di
Elinore only bowled six frames, but she was in the lead at frame 6 with a score of 60. She quit while she was ahead. And she used her bowling score sheet to pay the lady at McDonald's for her chicken nuggets.


Camera found: check
Algebra I good news: check
Headache almost gone: check
Ink for the printer: check

Must be time for a new post.

The camera was just where I thought it was, I just didn't have access to look for it myself. So here is Hannah at her parade earning her Bronze award.

On the Algebra front, we went from, "I changed my mind, I don't want to do Algebra" to "It's too easy, I know the answers without writing down the steps" in just two short lessons. Phil also never understood the need to write each step when the answer "popped" into his head. I tried to explain it is to cement the steps in the brain with the easy ones so the brain takes the same path for the harder ones.
Or, "because I said so" just might have to be why.

Monday's therapy was awesome, as usual. Elinore had trouble focusing, even long enough to choose her swing.
This is her first time on this platform swing, and her favorite of the day. She even let go to balance while she was swinging.
The yellow and blue swing helps build core muscles and she gets to let go and crash to the mat. It gets big smiles. The tire swing requires a little more work for Elinore to balance, but again, she doesn't mind falling on the big, soft, mats.
She also worked on fine motor skills picking up tiny bugs with tweezers and cutting on a line, pasting lines in a pattern, and tracing the pattern with horizontal and vertical lines in the shape of "t," which helped her cross her midline. When she does sitting down work, she sits on a special cushion for her low muscle tone. She used the scooter again, too, to build upper body strength.

This week also included physical therapy. I do not have her therapist's permission to use her picture, but Elinore did steps, a great obstacle course, and used a scooter in a different position with weights on her ankles. I like how the therapy is like a game. The obstacle course used farm animal on one end and the farm on the other to give purpose to the exercise. The scooter exercise used blocks to motivate her.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tot School

Well, we are one month away from our official first day of school on August 23, when Elinore will be three years and 2 days old. She would have graduated from the Infants and Toddlers program, but Maryland is at present the only state to use an extended version to ensure continuity in instruction.

For speech therapy, Elinore is working on asking questions. She can now hide something behind her back and ask, "Where is it?" And for the first time she asked, "What's this?" and I told her it was a carpet cleaner and she repeated it, and asked again! Now I know almost 3 yr. olds ask a lot of questions, but this is unquestionably progress for Elinore! We are also tackling concepts, such as size and color.

Comparing animal sizes
Rice bin
Popping bubbles with daddy

For Tot School, we painted, read Bible stories from Bible Stories to Read (Rod &Staff), used ABeka's language cards,visited the Starfall website, sang the alphabet, put N on our coconut tree, worked on sizes, made blueberry pie, used pencil erasers for stamping, did a body parts race, explored what magnets would and would not pick up, practiced fine motor skills with tongs and pom-pons, and covered poetry with A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Wow, that sounds like a lot when I write it all down!

These are the squares I made for comparing sizes. This is actually my second set. I didn't laminate the first ones, and they got ruined. I just used my handy-dandy paper trimmer, and laminated. Right now, we use the ones with the most size difference, and identify the colors. The biggest one is ten square inches and the smallest is one square inch. I want to make a set of circles, too, when I feel like digging out my Creative Memories circle cutter.

For the body parts race, I just used pictures of body parts. She identified them, or repeated after me, ran to put them on her table, then threw herself on the couch. Repeat. This gives her some of the sensory input she needs, as well as a little exercise since we have had record high temperatures this week.

Sadly, we have not done any Tot School printables because we are out of ink. The Do-a dots are Elinore's favorite.

I am still not accustomed to using Hannah's camera, and most of my shots come out blurry. I hope my camera turns up soon.

In Which Jeffrey Makes a Discovery

I adamantly insisted one can't use laundry detergent in the carpet steamer. Jeff insisted on asking Google, and even though it was just average people claiming laundry detergent is acceptable, as opposed to professional cleaners or the websites run by, say, Bissell, I was just too under the weather ( hundred degree weather) to insist I was right.

I was wrong.

Jeff used hot water to dilute the cheap but free-of-dyes-and-perfumes (all the littlies have sensitive skin) laundry detergent. Then he sprinkled it on the carpet and used a scrub brush on the high traffic areas, and used the solution in the machine, and we have the cleanest carpets ever. The carpet is still damp (in hundred degree weather?) but sooo clean. By the end of cleaning, he just scrubbed the whole carpet with the cleaner and the brush, and used clean water in the steamer till the water actually rinsed clear. Wow. The difference is amazing. And Elinore's feet aren't so dirty anymore.

I am sorry, sweetie, that I gave you such a hard time about the laundry detergent. You were right. I love you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Warming Up for Back to School

Hannah finally, reluctantly agreed to do lesson 1 in Algebra I for me so I could get a feel for how this textbook is set up. Cate was a great big sister and played along as co-student and co-teacher. We are using Prentice Hall Algebra I and after lesson 1, I really like it so far. This algebra course from Calvert comes with the textbook, solutions manual, lesson manual, a download for a graphing calculator, and a lesson manual to learn how to use a graphing calculator. I am pretty sure graphing calculators did not exist back in the early eighties during my high school math career. So I will be refreshing my knowledge of algebra and learning how to use a graphing calculator for the first time. Isn't that beautiful? I will be learning right along with my daughter.

This textbook comes with an online copy of the same textbook. On the Chapter title page is a list of vocabulary. The online text has an audio pronunciation of each vocabulary word. At the top of the page for each lesson is Check Skills You'll Need. You need to be able to perform these skills to complete the lesson. If you can't, you are referred to the Skills Handbook for practice. In teaching the lesson, the text includes a Quick Check to make sure you understand. This helps you pinpoint where in the problem the breakdown in communications occurred. Then we have practice for each section where something is explained and finally, a practice section where you put it all together. If you are still having trouble, some pages have a Homework Video Tutor. If all else fails, this is a Calvert course and you the teacher or you the student can call Calvert Education Services and talk to an Education Counselor. I am beginning to feel like there is no way to mess up with this course!

Hannah still had some time where she was staring off into space, but trying to compete with Cate kept her focused most of the time. Because Cate did Algebra more than ten years ago, she challenged Hannah to finish her assigned odd problems while Cate, having finished the odds, sped on through the evens. This kept Hannah from being too discouraged that Cate finished so quickly.

Lesson 2 includes a lesson from the Graphing Calculator lesson manual, and I'm hoping Hannah lets us work through this lesson, too, to see how that all plays out. Also, we are not actually working ahead because Hannah wants the lesson numbers from Algebra and seventh grade to match. I told her on the first day of school, we would skip math to "ease into" school without doing all the subjects the first day.

We are hoping Caitlin can be here often for Algebra and we have our eyes on Jabari Lyles as well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Like to be Organized (But I'm not OCD) Part 2

My first series, who knew?

The two top containers go on the shelf, the two large ones go under the table at my feet. I find the less time I spend chasing down supplies, the less likely I am to lose Elinore's attention.

Round container:brads, paper clips, Q-tips, eraser caps, cotton balls

Square container : Top layer:wiggle eyes, pom-poms, glue sticks, 4 oz. glue, pencil sharpener, scissors, magnifying glass; the tweezers were also there until Elinore snapped them in two
Middle layer: weather stamps
Bottom layer: fat crayons
When Elinore needs her crayons, I just snap off the bottom layer and she uses them right out of the layer and to put it away, it just snaps back on.

The huge square container from my mommy for my birthday has a layer of pre-cut cardstock in various sizes that was from sweet Amanda, a layer of colored 12x12 and 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock, and a layer of supplies: coffee filters, craft sticks, paper bags, paper plates, pipe cleaners, foam shapes, tissue paper, and pre-cut little squares for mosaics

The rectanguler one is full: letters for the Chicka Chicka tree, two-part puzzles, All About My Body pieces, Phonics center pieces, Alphabet puppets, Early Learning Centers, calendar parts, laminated Tot School printables, Leapin Lily pads, velcro dots, most everything sorted in ziplock bags

I know I already have a lot of school tools, but I find I have a little bit of curriculum junkie in me. I enjoy browsing supply catalogs, curriculum advertisements, and all kinds of websites. If someone has a "must have" suggestion, feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Like to Be Organized (But I'm Not OCD)

Being organized really makes the day go more smoothly. The important thing for me to remember is that once I've spent hours (or days) organizing, I still have to spend time maintaining. It seems like once it's straightened up, it should stay that way. That is never the case. My goal is to train my children "Everything has a place, and everything in its place." This was my Nana Hickman's favorite motto. There was never anything out of place in her house. Never. Of course, she was an old lady with no littlies running around making messes faster than they can be cleaned up. That, naturally, is the real reason you make toddlers help you clean up their messes, so they can't be making more disasters faster than you can run behind the little tornado. But I digress.

This is the bookcase literally at my left hand as we school. Up top is Hannah's microscope from Grandparents White, counting cubes, 12x12 scrapbook paper and my Cricut cutter.

Top shelf: Calvert school boxes with markers and Unifix cubes, Fiskars  paper trimmer, moon sand ( I really don't want that out without supervision), laminator, and behind that, the super long stapler for making books,  three hole punch

Second shelf: envelopes, dominoes, pattern blocks, Crayola dry erase board, white cardstock, laminating sheets, Tall Stacker, Lauri alphabet puzzles

Third shelf: paint, Cricut cartridges, card games, Kumon small workbooks, chalk pastels, watercolors in a tube, Fit a Space, stickers, Do-A-Dot markers, Bible storybooks, triangular crayons, crayon tower, clay, counting bears, sorting bowls, sharpies in the green bag that should be higher up

Fourth shelf: magnetic letters, Elinore's school books (mostly Evan-Moor and ABeka), finger paint, and the red bin full of pens, pencils, markers, scissors, glue, erasers, oil pastels, and other odd goodies we can't school without

Fifth shelf: Hannah's 7th grade Calvert textbooks, and few miscellaneous workbooks, Crayola Tadoodles toy, and the ABeka language cards in the wrong place.

Sixth shelf: Bibles, pencil sharpener, the loose crayons in a container that are currently in use

Bottom shelf: reference books, Model Magic, scraps of scrapbook paper, Elinore's copious amounts of finished school work/projects

This is the "after" picture. I just reorganized yesterday. There is no "before" picture because it was just too embarrassing. I don't actively scrapbook at present. I just don't have time or space. However, I strongly prefer cardstock to construction paper. Construction paper deteriorates faster, the glued-on things seem to fall off easily, and the color selection is more limited.  I do have both, though. One day I hope to get back to paper crafting.

I know a lot of Tot Schoolers have chosen the Scotch laminator, but I wanted the ability to laminate 12x12 scrapbook pages. I used a 50% off coupon at AC Moore, and got the 13" Purple Cow one that came with a starter set of laminating pouches. Jeff made me buy some refills . I only wanted one box, but he insisted on two, and he was right! I'm already on my second box.