Monday, March 30, 2015

March activities

March 1: This week track practice began and Ram's parents visited for three days for Lamb 1's birthday.
March 8: This was a normal week with activities and homeschool until Lamb 3 got sick at the end of the week.
March 15: This week Lamb 2 and 3 were sick and Lamb 1 took his first standardized test. We had our minivan serviced for the first time since we bought it. One great benefit of buying a new car is free service for the first couple of years. Our youth group had "Stump the Pastor" night which Ram really enjoyed. We had library book club for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
March 22: This week the Lambs had their first track meet. It was cold and windy. Lamb 1 ran the 3000 2 seconds faster than last year's placing. We are encouraging him to get a few more seconds faster before the end of the season and do it in under 15 minutes. Lamb 3 was in his first track meet. Ram's parents visited for 3 days to celebrate Lamb 3's birthday early since it is on Maundy Thursday this year. Ram also got a few birthday gifts early because they won't be back to visit us until May. We had beautiful weather and one day we went to the "beach".
Lamb 1 finally had his birthday party. It ended up being 6 boys because one was sick and one recently had surgery. It was rainy weather and the boys made the best of it, but it was not what Lamb 1 had planned. I was glad it finally worked out to have his party.
March 29: This week we had our last boys club/girls club because one of the families is moving away. The boys came to our house. We had beautiful weather and they enjoyed a walk to the park and played outside the rest of the time. I hope to get together with this family again before they move away. And I hope we can find another family to replace this family and have boys club/girls club next school year.
The rest of the week is back to normal activities plus extra church services for Holy Week. We'll also fit in celebrating Lamb 3's birthday and Lamb 1's baptism anniversary with our family.
I did go over my grocery budget in March, but it didn't surprise me with all the visits from Ram's parents, birthday party and family birthday celebrations, grocery store sales, and serving food at church for several suppers and some Sunday mornings. I am going to try to make it up in April, but my average for the first three months has not gone over my total budget.
The Sunday School children processed in with palms on Palm Sunday. Our Sunday School has really grown since we moved here. It made me so happy when Pastor asked the children what Sunday it was and they all had no trouble answering that it was Palm Sunday. They also knew the words to a hymn that we practiced in Sunday School the past few weeks. They didn't sing as a group, but you could hear them singing joyously with their families.
April 5: This week will finally be back to complete regular schedule for activities and homeschool. I am hoping to fit in lots of school and spring cleaning and decluttering in the next couple of months before our summer vacation. I finally have dates and am so excited to plan a trip back "home" after not going since summer 2012. Hopefully I can blog in more detail and post pictures for the above activities after Holy Week. Have a blessed Holy Week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Honoring Holy Week

The local schools have spring break this week. Some of our normal activities (Cub Scouts) were canceled for spring break. Some activities were added because of spring break (track meet because the field was available).

Since spring break was this week all regular activities are back to normal schedule next week. Track practice is scheduled for Maundy Thursday. Track meet is scheduled for Holy Saturday. The community churches are invited to participate in an Easter concert on Good Friday. (I won't even go into how wrong that is!) I've received e-mails for lots more activities that I immediately deleted because we were not going to them during Holy Week.

I realize this happens because schools can not move spring break based on Holy Week. This year seems extreme with events during Holy Week for us as compared to the past few years. I was also surprised by Holy Saturday events because Easter egg hunts are such a huge deal here and they are usually on Saturday.

Lamb 1 is disappointed, but we will not be attending a track meet on Holy Saturday. I remember as a child I was shocked that the neighbor kids weren't allowed to play outside on Good Friday because it was a beautiful day. My parents would have let me play outside then as long as I had plenty of time to get ready for church and be at church on time. But the Roman Catholic neighbors did not let their children play outside on Good Friday. That memory stuck with me for 35 years. I am hoping that by not attending events in the community during Holy Week that memory sticks with our Lambs too. I want them to see and participate in our family's priorities.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reading Progress

Lamb 1 taught himself to read when we were on a homeschool break after Ram had major surgery. One day everything clicked and he knew how to read.

I have worked and worked with Lamb 2. We have used several different "teach your child to read" programs, he knows his phonograms, etc. but he just has not had that moment when everything clicked. This worries some of our family and friends and they have given several nice suggestions to help him. Some may not believe that Lamb 2 has even worked on reading at all. I haven't been worried, I've patiently waited for that moment for everything to click while continuing to work on teaching him to read daily.

I thought we were close to that point towards the end of Vision Therapy. He is able to go on to more difficult lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Motivation is definitely not a problem-he has lists of books in his head that he is going to read as soon as he knows how to read. But that clicking moment has not totally happened yet.

A few weeks ago I remarked to Ram that I really didn't know what I was going to do when Lamb 2 did learn how to read. He is not interested in most easy readers, they are too babyish. But I want to give him lots of practice reading short books before chapter books. I'm talking about that point between very easy readers and Amelia Bedelia books. I'm talking about him not being interested in Biscuit books or books about Thomas the Train. Unfortunately Lamb 3 is not a baby either so Lamb 2 can't even practice reading easy readers to him.*

Last night Lamb 1 was taking a long time to get ready for bed before we had family read aloud time. Lamb 2 was impatient to hear the next chapter in Little Town on the Prairie. I had the book open waiting for Lamb 1. So Lamb 2 started reading the chapter aloud. He needed help with a few words, but he did great.

I think he'll do just fine. He may skip the easy readers and go on to easy chapter books. We have had a short break of school recently due to sickness, Lamb 1's standardized testing, family visiting, and other activities. It wasn't a complete spring break, but it wasn't 5 days a week school either. Perhaps this was Lamb 2's moment to put everything together during a break like Lamb 1 did. Whether it was or not, I look forward to our next regular week of school to see his progress some more.

I don't even want to think about Lamb 3's reading progress. Motivation is a problem for him.  He thinks, "Why should I learn to read when there are 3 others in the family that will read to me?" He's smart and he'll learn to read when he is motivated to. I will pounce on that moment and help him, but currently I'll keep snuggling and reading aloud to him.

*Note: I realize that the library has easy readers on other topics that aren't as babyish and we even own some many of them too. Elephant and Piggie books have been a hit with Lamb 2 and 3. I also saw this as problem when I taught in the classroom though. If you have a child that doesn't learn how to read in kindergarten or first grade, they aren't going to be interested in the books that are written at K or 1st grade reading level. I know there are worse problems in life. I realize Lamb 1 teaching himself to read and Lamb 2 needing vision therapy are special cases. This has all been interesting to me to see 3 boys from the same family and how they learn so differently. In the classroom there wasn't time to focus on each child like there is in homeschooling. Unfortunately in the classroom even with the children that I held back and worked with them for two years, there was never time to really get to the root of the problem such as Lamb 2 needing vision therapy. Especially for boys that learned to read later than "normal" finding books they were interested in was difficult.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


At the January book club they passed out bookmarks that listed the books we will read each month for the rest of the school year. We worked ahead and read the April book, which I thought was Little House in the Big Woods. On Thursday I looked at the bookmark and it said the April book was Little House on the Prairie. I realized my mistake but then when we went to book club I found out the April book is Little Town on the Prairie. The bookmarks were incorrect. So tonight we started reading Little Town on the Prairie.

I don't regret reading Little House in the Big Woods first because I think the Lambs are more interested since they had an introduction to the Ingalls family. But I do think they really missed a lot in all the books that come between Little House in the Big Woods and Little Town on the Prairie. For example: They didn't hear when/how Mary became blind so I had to fill in the details. We don't have enough time to read all the in between books before book club. Thankfully I have read the series several times so I can fill in the details. Maybe some day I can read more of the series to the Lambs.

I used a free Shutterfly code to make a photo book of our visit to De Smet, SD. It is helpful to show them pictures of what Laura's house looked like in Little Town in the Prairie.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Teaching Boys

I attended a Carole Joy Seid seminar a few years ago. One thought that I pulled away from that seminar is boys need lots of physical touch. She encouraged us to rub their back or pat their head while they were doing a particularly difficult math problem. She encouraged us to hold our little boys and rub the back of an older one while we read aloud. She encouraged dads to read aloud in the evening while mom and children snuggle together and listen to the story.

You can't do that while teaching in the classroom, but you can do that when homeschooling. Every student is different. Lamb 1 loves to get back rubs in the evening, but it would drive him crazy to have a back rub while doing math. Lamb 2 makes it through long church services when I rub his shoulders. Lamb 3 loves to sit on my lap while we read stories, but Lamb 1 and 2 think they are too old for that. Lamb 2 loves to sit right beside me during stories so sometimes we have to take turns sitting by Mama. When Lamb 3 is being uncooperative on school mornings I will have him sit on my lap to do his school work. He needs that extra attention some times.

One thing that I noticed during standardized testing is the moms touching their boys. While we can't give them answers to the tests, we can sit and be their cheerleaders. Some of the moms rub their children's backs during breaks. Some of the moms rub their children's backs during the tests. Each mom knows what their child prefers. I have whispered to Lamb 1 to keep going, he's doing great, at the half way point of the test.

I believe all this attention is good for the homeschool students taking these tests this week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Standardized Testing Day 1

Lamb 1 took his first standardized test yesterday. I will blog more about testing later. Idaho Coalition of Home Educators organizes these testing sessions all over the state. Our area is quite large and over 400 students and parents participate this week.

Lamb 2 and 3 now have colds but since Lamb 1 is healthy I took him to the testing. Ram stayed home with the Lambs but he did need to go to church for a short time to lead chapel. He let Lamb 3 sleep in as long as possible and then took them to church and had them stay in a room away from the kids. I am wondering if Lamb 2's cold is really allergies because he has watery eyes. Lamb 3 is still getting over his sickness of last week but does better each day.

It was quite the challenge to get up and also get Lamb 1 up and both of us ready and drive to testing in the next city by 8am. I had no idea when I signed him up last August. Add in that sickness has made a lot more laundry and I was exhausted yesterday afternoon. I took a nap before taking Lamb 1 to track. I got up earlier today than yesterday hoping to not be so rushed today.

The testing is quite interesting-one person administers the test by discussing some sample questions with the group and then tells us when to start and stop the testing sessions. A large conference room is full of tables with one parent and whatever students from that family in grades 3-9 are testing. Our table is just Lamb 1 and me. Some tables have 3 students with one parent. The parent (or grandparent or family friend etc.) sits next to the child and makes sure they are taking the correct test at the correct time, that they are on the correct line of their answer sheet, etc. Parents are not allowed to read or help students with any part of the test. It was amazing to be in a room of 400 people and it was completely quiet for half an hour or whatever amount of time each test was. It was also amazing that home schooled students sat from 8:30-12:30 with only one 20 minute break and a few times to stand up and stretch.

I realize that ICHE uses the results from these tests to brag about how smart home educated students are. I realize that Idaho is a very free state and we are not required to do standardized testing. That is what makes it amazing that 400 people pay the fee and show up to do testing.

I don't honestly care how Lamb 1 does on the test. If yesterday is any indication, he won't do above average because we have not studied everything tested. I simply want him to have practice taking a test. I don't want his first testing sessions to be an important test like SAT. Perhaps we will also be pleasantly surprised with his scores too. And if there are areas with low scores it will tell us areas to focus in during school time next year. This also gives me a good idea of what kind of a tester Lamb 1 is. For future tests I will recommend that if he marks everything is correct on a problem, that if he has time at the end he needs to go back and check those answers extra carefully. I know that each test has very few with that as the correct answer, but Lamb 1 put everything was correct on several problems.

I don't think we will participate in testing every year. I know that Lamb 2 is at least a couple of years away from being able to participate-he simply couldn't handle the reading of this test even if it was a grade level below. He also couldn't handle that much sitting without breaks. It is a pain to do testing when you have other kids that aren't old enough for testing. I am glad that Lamb 1 is participating this year.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pi Day part 2

Lamb 3 is still sick. I took him to the Dr. this morning. Nothing they can do for him, just home remedies. They said if it is the flu that is going around the schools now, I should expect 10 days before back to normal! I'm taking it one day at a time...

For supper on pi day we made a few pies.
quiche-store bought gluten free crust but homemade
Lamb 1 refused to eat quiche and Lamb 3 felt too bad to eat.
This is my apple pi plate.

there was a little too much filling so Lamb 2 was thrilled to get his own mini quiche

Blackberry pie-again with store bought gluten free crust, but homemade with blackberries that Ewe picked last summer
This is my pi plate.

The pin that Lamb 3 wore since he didn't have a t-shirt. We also received a pin last year, but I have no idea where it is. I think Ram's mom received the pins free with her purchase of t-shirts. Lamb 3 was feeling too bad for a photo.