"God is Love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." - 1 Jn 4:16

Saturday, May 10

Wading through a Fog

I'm tired.

My eyes are heavy.

My arms and feet and shoulders feel as though they are dragging sandbags.

A few tears, but not many.  I think tears would be better.  More freeing than this heaviness that just pushes me to succumb to numbing sleep.

Grandpa died one year ago today.  The day he died I couldn't even remember my phone number.  I had to be strong, for my family, because that's what I do.  My family is dramatic.  I am not.  My family is loud.  I am not.  My family grieves with stories and tears and sadness and joy and everyone mashed in together.  I do not.

I need peace.  Quiet.  Solitude.  I need Him.

Today is a day for memories.  For love.  For sadness and joy.  For craziness and I hope some solitude.

The day I finally had a chance to process, to grieve, months after he died, I wrote this while sitting by his bench:

Things I've Learned from Grandpa:

~Work. Work till the job is done. No unnecessary breaks. Most breaks are unnecessary.
~If it needs to be done, do it. It doesn't matter whose job it is.
~No whining.
~If it hurts, cut it off.
~Love God. He loves you.
~Go to Mass on Sundays. And holy days. And when given the opportunity. Dress appropriately.
~Priests are people, too. So are nuns and broth
~Help people. Especially those that would be forgotten. Do it consistently and quietly.
~Always jump at the opportunity to go get ice cream.
~Lead by example.
~Peanut butter. 'Nuff said.
~"Deci" means tenth. "Centi" means hundredth. Math made so much more sense after that.
~Listen to your mother.
~Money: you can't take it with you.
~Family is to be treasured. Friends are the family you meet along the way.
~Do what you love. Share it with others.
~Life's funny. Laugh deeply and often. Greet it with a twinkle in your eye.
~Bedhead rocks. But comb it out before you leave.
~Do something nice for your spouse. Even when you argue, you'll get to show them love. Love might smell like coffee.
~An honest man looks you in the eye when you shake hands. You better not lie.
~Wear your grubbies when you go car shopping.
~Your grubbies can last forever.
~Give people the benefit of the doubt.
~Education is important. Don't squander it.
~Think. God gave you a brain, use it.
~Keep a notepad and pen handy at all times. You never know when you'll need them.
~Even if you don't like to read, support and encourage those who do.
~Learn how to fix things.
~If you can do it yourself, do. If not, don't be stupid, call in the professionals.
~The professionals work for you, choose wisely and pay fairly.
~Get outside. Golf, a walk, whatever. Just enjoy.
~Never forget. Our military members are peace keepers. The men and women who have died in service are the heroes. The "other side" are people too. Treat them as such. God and His people are bigger than politics. Politics is always there. Be bigger.
~Treat the flag with respect.
~Stand for our anthem.
~Pray for Ireland.
~Remember your roots. Roots are grown in community.
~It's always a good time for some good Irish music.
~Generally, food is good. Don't be too picky. It's a blessing to have enough.
~Don't waste.
~When driving, brake and turn gently enough that a passenger reading an open newspaper won't crinkle the page.
~Keep your cool.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 23

All About Reading, Level 1 - REVIEW

We've been scrambling to keep up with Baby Bird recently.  It seems she's ready to start reading... NOW.  She's 3 1/2.  Didn't really think we'd be needing phonics resources when our kid was still wearing pullups, but hey, kids are quirky.

I've sought the advice of many much more experienced homeschooling mamas, pored over curricula reviews, prayed, talked it over with hubby, dragged my feet, and finally settled on what to order.  We decided on two programs actually, but tonight I'll just include a review of the one that arrived today.  Mail... I love homeschool Christmas!

I read through the placement tests and chose All About Reading, Level 1.

If you order directly through the company you can request box art.  How seriously cool is that?

The goodies:

Please forgive the poor picture quality/location.  It's midnight and this is real life.

Initial Reactions:
  •  Teacher's Manual
    • Open and go - I'm going to want this spiral-bound or in a 3-ring binder.  I like binders but I want to be able to fold back one half so only one page is visible.  Mission.
    • Table of contents: very clear on what will be covered, know at a glance if the readers will be needed
    • Appendices:  AWESOME.  Includes all the key components I want at my fingertips
      • Scope and Sequence of Level 1
      • Phonograms taught in Level 1
      • Full blending procedure
      • Solving B-D reversal problems
      • Words taught in Level 1
    • Section 1, "What do you need?":  So glad it includes pictures of each item
    • Clear, clutter-free pages throughout 

  • Letter Tiles
    • Seem sturdy enough for their job.  Like the color-coding.
    • REALLY glad this person suggested attaching all the magnets BEFORE punching apart the letter tiles... she also has a fantastic review of AAR, Level 1
    • Anyone else find mindless tasks like sticker-sticking and laminate-cutting relaxing?  Turned on some classical music (yay Pandora!) and chilled with a glass of wine for this job :)

  • Readers (3)
    • Exceptional binding
    • Gorgeous black and white pencil illustrations
    • Skill-appropriate vocabulary, not overly juvenile, would be appropriate for an older beginner reading student but easily enjoyed by younger audiences as well
  • Student Activity Book
    • Definitely to be used in conjunction with teacher's manual
    • Clear, clutter-free pages all in black/white
    • Heavy-duty pages

We chose this program is large part because it is supposed to be so geared toward multi-sensory learning.  Our daughter is young and wiggly - hoping this pans out!

Sunday, June 9

Newby Thoughts on Preschool Homeschool Materials

I've spent countless hours - way too many hours really - poring over homeschool materials.  I think we've figured out what we want to do for now, which is really not that much.  Well, not structured learning anyway.  Kids learn whether you want them to or not.  Any materials we choose to purchase or utilize at this time will be for our benefit as the parents and used mostly to keep us moving forward.  We will not require Baby Bird to do seatwork or set curriculum until such time as we deem it appropriate.

Below are some of my thoughts on three popular choices for PRESCHOOL homeschool curricula.  If you are interested in purchasing any of these materials, please note that the prices I've listed are for NEW materials.  I don't get any kick-back or anything, this is just information for sharing :).  Some materials (such as the Five in a Row Volumes) are available USED for more reasonable prices.

Sonlight (P3/4 or P4/5 - includes ALL the books needed) - $285 - $425
  • can buy just the teaching guides OR find the reading list free online
  • don't waste the money on materials available for free (or a few late fees) at your local library
  • instead invest some time and a little cash in great hands-on long-term materials such as moveable alphabets, map puzzles, learning games, paper, binoculars, all-weather clothes, good shoes
Five in a Row (Teaching Guides Vol. 1-3) - $35 ea, total $105
  • almost all the books are available at the library (a few are apparently hard to find because they're out of print)
  • buy a good world map
  • unless you love spending time and money laminating things, just buy the premade story disks
  • go ahead and spend the money for the manuals.  they're full of great extension ideas for each recommended children's book.  no sense in reinventing the wheel!
  • kids at this age really aren't ready for seatwork anyway.  let them get dirty. if they don't want to finish a book, fine - go have a tea party instead.  they'll learn more from interacting with you than they will from any book or curriculum.
Catholic Heritage Curricula - $79.75 (Preschool Core Kit)
  • pick and choose certain pieces for now
  • will use as our core starting in K (but using grade 1)
  • most interested in their lesson plans - look like easiest and most flexible on the market!  again, why reinvent the wheel?

SUMMER Topics of Interest

We went to see Disney's The Lion King on stage this afternoon - INCREDIBLE!  My jaw hit the floor in the first minute of the production and I was as wide-eyed as our three-year-old all the way to the final curtain.  Amazing.  Gorgeous.  Breathtaking.  Intriguing.  Go buy tickets.  Now.

This show piqued both my and our daughter's interest in so many areas; we have lots of new and exciting things to explore this summer!

  • Facepainting
  • Batiking
  • Puppetry
  • Theater
  • African Dance/Music
  • Costumes
  • Measurement
  • Science Experiments: Ice 
  • Flags
  • National Anthem

I foresee a whole summer of learning about Africa :D

Friday, June 7

Favorite Books about... BEES

Eventually I suppose I'll get my act together and start logging our homeschool adventures in a portfolio or something of the kind.  However, for now I need a place to stash pictures and thoughts before I simply forget them!

We read... a LOT.  Generally I watch to see what's piqued Baby Bird's interest for the moment and just run with that for awhile.  We choose books from our home library and local public library, we may do some activities that somehow tie into the subject of interest, and we explore till we're ready to explore something else.  It works for us :).

Inspired by Five in a Row's suggested book The Bee Tree and Baby Bird's interest in gardens and bees, we spent spring this year learning all about honey bees.  Here are some of our favorite books about BEES:

The Bee Tree
by Patricia Polacco

The Bumblebee Queen
by April Pulley Sayre

A Bee's Life