About Me

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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Sweet B

I have really enjoyed having my sweet B back since he left public school.  His moods are more even and although he will always be an emotional child (b/c he's mine) he now cries instead of having full on tantrums.  Giving him predictable structure while honoring his personality and learning style has really caused him to relax, blossom and he's really controlling himself.  Makes for a happy family!  I want to share 3 cute things that B said while we ran errands today.

I was standing next to the car pumping gas.
B: How come you use the regular instead of the supreme?
Me: The supreme is more expensive and my car only needs the regular.  Besides, I'm not a "supreme" girl; I'm just a "regular" girl.
B (in a pouty voice while looking down): I'm a "supreme" boy.
Me (grudgingly): I know.  Just like your daddy.

We were on on way to the bank and a song I did not recognize came on the radio.
B: Oh!  Turn it up!  I love this song!
Me: When have you ever heard this song?!
B: Long time ago, baby.  Me and this song?  We go way back.

We stepped up to the teller at the bank, and before I could say anything, B takes something out of his pocket and slides it across the counter to the teller.
B: Excuse me? How much is this shiny, smooth shell worth?  Can you take it so Mama doesn't have to use her money?
I was speechless.  The teller, who had a baby earlier this year, got all teary-eyed and I could tell he just melted her heart as well as mine.
Teller: What a wonderful son you have there!  That is the sweetest thing I have ever heard!
I had to agree.  *sniff, sniff*

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Official Day of Homeschool

I am pleased with how today went!  This is going to be a learning experience for both of us and it will take some time to get into any kind of habit or set lessons.  But I am OK with that.  We may never get into set lessons.  I decided months ago that there really isn't a wrong or right way to do this; the main goal is to find my son's way of doing this.

We both learned new things today, so that in and of itself is a successful day.  Do you know what the largest desert is in the world?  We were both surprised to learn it is Antarctica.  When I went to school, I was taught the Sahara was the largest desert.  But a desert is defined by lack of rainfall, and sparse to no vegetation and can be hot OR COLD.  We're starting with a geography unit study.  Today we worked on some natural landmarks, like rivers and deserts.  Ben located some on a world map and compared river lengths and deserts sizes to determine their orders from largest to smallest.  I worked math problems in where I could - the Gobi dessert is 1/2 the size of the Arabian dessert (500k sq mi compared to 1M sq mi).  He did a word find of related terms and I created a spelling list.  Since "desert" was on the spelling list, I also added "dessert".  I know early in school it was hard for me to remember which was which until a great teacher told us a trick to remembering it, so I passed it on.

I learned that we need to set aside more time for learning if I continue to let him set the pace.  And with the amount of time he likes to take, we won't be covering every subject everyday.  When he would stare at the map for a few minutes, I did not push him to move on to a question; I let him take in the map.  When he saw the shape of a whale in the Sahara, I let him draw a face and water spout on it.  I bet that will be a good reference to remember the Sahara - it's shaped like a whale!

He's always amazed me with word finds.  He'll stare at one for minutes, and when he's done, he'll circle 3 or 4 words at once.  I am keeping a journal and made notes for myself as we went along so I did not forget anything.  Once he saw that, he put his pencil down and wanted a pen just like me.  ERRR!  I want him to use a pencil so he can erase and fix things.  But I let him have the pen.  Maybe he will work harder to make fewer mistakes.

When I saw he was fading, we took a break to dance and sing some Bon Jovi.  My son's current favorite song is "Livin' on a Prayer".  He has excellent taste in music, just like is Mama.  :o)

Before heading out to run an errand and then off to my work for the afternoon he said to me, "I really liked this homeschool thing today, Mama.  I'm gonna like this year."  I said, "This is only day one.  It's going to get harder and most days we'll be schooling more time than we did today.  But we'll work together to make it fun."  He says he's up for it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unit Studies

There are so many different ways to teach and not all of them work for every child.  I am not going to "pick" one style of homeschooling; I will be dabbling in all of them to see how B and I like them.  The hubs and I continue to take advantage of learning opportunities in everyday life just like all parents do.  Because, regardless of whether your child goes to an institution for learning or stays home, every parent's job description includes "teacher".  But we pay attention more, now, and stop what we are doing to explore further into something B is interested in or to answer his questions.  It is so wonderful to teach him something and them see him go on to share the knowledge he has learned with others later.  It lets us know it is sticking with him!

Even though learning will happen all on its own throughout the day, B needs learning directed by me, as well.  Last month, I started out with subject specific teaching.  I alternated Math and Language Arts every other day and we did Science everyday.  Not a lot, just enough to keep him in the habit of working and so he does not lose everything he learned from 1st grade.  Although he did not fight me on doing work, it was boring for him and me.  Plus it was just like work at his elementary school.  So I stopped that and starting thinking about the style of HSing that attracted me the most  - unit studies.

With unit studies, you pick a subject your child is interested in - baseball, princesses, dinosaurs, LEGOs, baking, whatever - and learn about it.  While learning about the subject, you find the math, reading, writing, science and social studies within it.  Math is in the measuring of ingredients and doubling or halving a recipe, comparing the sizes of dinosaurs or using multiplication to find out how many LEGO bricks are in a structure your child built.  You and your child will read books from the library and research found on the internet.  Writing will happen when your child journals about all the things he is doing and learning or penpaling with an expert in the field or another child with the same interests.  Think of all the new spelling words you will come across while learning about your subject?  The beauty of unit studies is that you don't pick a "school" subject and try to make it interesting, you take something your child finds interesting and turn that into learning.

As part of supply gathering, I bought some great maps at Costco for $7/each.  They are over 3' x 4' and laminated.  I have one of the US and one of the World hanging in the upstairs hallway.  I bought one of the Solar System, too, but returned it.  It was covered so much in these cartoon characters and descriptions of who they are, that you couldn't see the Solar System, itself!  The US map includes pictures of all state flags and the World map includes pictures of all the country flags.  I've learned from years of being B's mom that my suggestion of or push towards something is turnoff #1 to him.  So I put up the maps and didn't say a word.  I noticed B was disappearing for 10 - 20 minutes a couple of times a day and I would find him in the upstairs hallway.  I didn't mention the maps; just told him I was curious where he was.  Then I woke up one morning to find a yellow thumb tack in each of the 2 maps exactly where we live.  :o)  When I came downstairs he said, "Did you see the tacks in the maps, Mama?"  "Yes. Why are they there?"  "It's where we live, of course!  Didn't you KNOW that," he asked.  Last weekend we were driving to a reunion with my elementary school peeps and B called out from the back seat, "That building is flying the Texas flag.  And if you take off the star, it would be the Checky flag."  I look over my shoulder and we were passing a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, in fact flying the Texas flag.  When we got home, he showed me the other flag he was referring to, the Czech Republic flag, and I could see the similarity without the star.  He not only made us proud, he made us confident in our decision to HS him.  He let us know, he IS learning, he IS going to be OK.  So, maps has turned out to be our 1st unit study.

I got something off Freecycle last week and made him hold my phone and use the GPS and tell me where to go.  A workbook I bought last month to look through for ideas actually has a whole section on maps.  We are visiting New England soon and I've shown him on the map where it is and all the states we'll go through to get there.  I am going to have my dad go over the route on the map with B and then have him be in charge of navigating.  Outside of maps, there is so much history to see and learn about in New England!  We are currently reading a fictional book about an 8 yr old boy, two 14 yr olds, and a freed slave who happened to be on the Dartmouth during the Boston Tea Party and are trying to escape the city to Philadelphia w/o being caught by the Red Coats.  He is really interested.  And that will make him interested in Boston sites more than just showing up at the city, pointing them out and trying to get him to listen to a tour guide explain why a place is famous.  I am currently looking for free, printable coloring pages online for New England.  If you find any good ones, leave me a comment with a link, please.  Thanks!

Monday, July 12, 2010

King Pinz

The hubs surprised B and me by taking us to King Pinz in Leesburg Friday night.  Wow.  Not like any "bowling alley" I've ever been in.  They were right in their description of an upscale lounge-like atmosphere.  They take reservations!  And you better make them if you want to bowl on a weekend.  We were told they were all full up when we got there but she took our name just in case and we went to the bar to order dinner.

The bartendress who served us in our modern and roomy booth was very personable and attentive and was able to recommend good items on the menu.  Her Cosmos were kick ass!  I had 2 and 1/4 of them and had to lean on the hubs to walk to the car.  After insisting to the hubs that I had to update my FB status, I went straight to bed.  Since the economy took a turn for the worse, we have noticed lighter and lighter pours in drinks.  Have any of you?  Well, not at this place last Friday night.

While waiting for our food to cook, we walked around.  They have arcade games to play but they don't take money.  You put money on a card at a machine, similar to fare cards for the Metro.  Each game is activated by swiping your card.  You earn points for each game you play and your points total is kept on your card.  When you leave, you can go to the prize counter to check your balance and either cash the points in on prizes or save them for another time.  Just like the tickets at Chuck E. Cheese.

Anywho, we were almost done with our dinner when the hostess came over to us and said they had a cancellation and we could take our food and beverages up to a lane.  They only have 12 lanes, another good reason to make reservations.  I had never put my feet in new bowling shoes before!  :o)  Each lane has a couch facing a coffee table you share with a lane on one side of you and the waitress up there was also friendly and attentive.  In the alley floor, there is a dotted line down the center of each lane and a squiggly lined pattern throughout the floor that lights up from the black lights in the ceiling.  3 jumbo tron TV screens span the alley wall over the pins and the music they played was great.

The lane we bowled in happened to be part of the "VIP Suite" that you can rent for private parties for a minimum of $500.  They have curtains to close off the suite (lanes 9 - 12) during those private parties.  There were 2 kids' birthday parties going when we 1st arrived, but neither were in the VIP Suite.  They were done by the time we bowled.

It was a very fun night for all of us, but the cost of the whole evening (drinks, games, dinner, bowling) would make it a special occasion thing only for us.

Allergies

Over the last couple of months, we have been trying to identify some intolerances in this house to make all of us look and feel better.  The hubs has had success removing a couple of things from his diet.  By removing olive oil and gluten containing skin care and makeup products, I have eliminated most of my dietary and skin allergic reactions.  No more welts and my cheekbones have reappeared - yeah!  I did not realize I had facial swelling until it went down; I thought I had just gained weight in my face.  Hello again, cheekbones.  I missed you!


We brought almonds into the house last month.  B is not allergic to tree nuts anymore, just peanuts.  However, most tree nuts are processed in the same plants as peanuts so he could not eat them due to cross-contamination.  Blue Diamond does not process peanuts nor share  processing equipment with peanuts.  It is so nice to be able to eat nuts!  We have offered them to B and he knows they are there whenever he is ready, but he won't eat them; he says he is afraid.  I don't buy it.

To further eliminate dietary issues that B and I have had for years, we are trying to go gluten-free.  There is no celiac disease, thank goodness, so it is not a life or death issue.  I can't believe how good I feel on the days when I don't eat any gluten and how fast gluten effects me if I do eat it.  B is having to adjust to his body functioning differently without gluten, but he is doing well with that.  However, he is starting to push back as we are cutting out more and more gluten containing foods.  His response to the hubs and I telling him something has gluten in it is, "I don't care!"  *sigh*  Work in progress...

Different topic...I have to vent about something that bothered me during the end of the school year but I never got around to blogging about it then.  I wish the cafeteria workers would not let your child buy snacks when there is no money in the lunch account.  The balance is $0 for a reason - I don't want my son buying snacks and ice cream!   I can understand if a child does not have a packed lunch and needs to buy and there is no money b/c the parent forgot.  But when the acct is at a $0 balance and a child goes through the line to buy chips or ice cream, they need to be told "No" instead going overdrawn on the account and sending a message home that the account needs to be brought into the positive.  ERRR!  It takes a village people!  7 year olds are selfish by nature and no matter how many times I tell him he is not to buy anything w/o previous permission from the hubs or me, he's going to go for it sometimes.  I feel better now that that is out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Obviously, Rocco Dispirito and I have two TOTALLY different palates

For several weeks, I eagerly awaited notification from the public library that it was my turn to check out Rocco Dispirito's latest cookbook, Now Eat This.  Then one morning I awoke to find that lovely email in my inbox stating I could pick it up at my local branch!  The book cover states that inside, you will find "150 of America's favorite comfort foods all under 350 calories."  I had seen him make some of his recipes on talk shows and hosts had mmmm'd and yummm'd over everything they tasted.  Therefore, I was eager to try some of them myself.  I went through the book and saw plenty of recipes that looked good.  I sat down and planned my menu and grocery list around the cookbook.  However, the 1st recipe I made taught me that Rocco and I have totally different palates, and subsequent recipes just reiterated that.


The 1st recipe I made was a mock risotto with mushrooms.  I loved the idea that textured vegetable protein (TVP) was used in place of rice.  I am always on the lookout for recipes that use TVP.  If you have any, please send them my way!  The finished product was very wet.  Risotto is supposed to be creamy, but this was runny.  Either there was too much liquid in the recipe or not enough TVP.  No big deal, though; something I could fix next time I made the recipe.  However, what I did not agree with taste-wise, was that the 1 cup of sliced scallions.  They overpowered the entire dish and that is all you tasted.  We did not like it.


The next recipe was Shepherd's Pie and the usual mashed potato topping was replaced with pureed cauliflower and Greek yogurt.  I love cauliflower.  I do not eat any kind of yogurt but I do use plain yogurt to replace sour cream in recipes.  I had never used Greek yogurt before but assumed it would blend in like regular yogurt.  I was wrong.  I tried the topping before putting it over the filling and really did not like it.  I just could NOT take the tang or sourness or whatever it was.  I had the hubs try it, too, since he is a yogurt fan and the look on his face said it all to me.  I threw it out and rushed to the basement for potatoes to made a quick mashed potato topping.  But the filling of the pie was flavorless.  0 for 2.


At this point, the hubs asked if I was going to feed us any more recipes out of "that book".  So I looked through the rest of my selections and picked one that I was sure would be good based on the ingredients.  It was Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Cauliflower.  I prepped the ingredients  before going to work and left the hubs the recipe.  He had it all made and on the table when I came home and it was AWESOME!  FINALLY!  All 3 of us loved it!  But here's the thing - the recipe called for 1/2 cup of cilantro.  That was a surprise.  And although I like cilantro, and it added an interesting and surprising layer of flavor, once again it was too much.  Especially the next day when the flavor had intensified.  We will mos def be making this regularly, but will use less cilantro.  I'm beginning to wonder if a professional chef has so many different and strong flavors on a regular basis that they need to really intensify the flavor of their foods to enjoy them over time?  You know, like how some people get used to using salt in most of their meals so food without salt or a lower amount of salt tastes bland to them?  IDK, just a thought...


Riding the high from the stir-fry, I made his (Almost) General Tso's Chicken a few days later. This is our most ordered item from Chinese take-out places and I have wanted to make it home.  This one was more labor intensive than the stir-fry recipe.  You have to dip the chix pieces in whole-wheat flour, egg whites whipped until foamy but not forming stiff peaks, then panko breadcrumbs and baked on a rack.  Took some extra time, but I appreciate that the chix is not fried like in the original recipe.  You steam your broccoli on the side, make the sauce in a bowl and then toss the cooked chix and broccoli in the sauce.  Now, once the chix is coated in the sauce, you cannot taste any of your dipping coats and the hubs thought it was a waste.  However, I believe the point was to ensure that the sauce clung to the chix.  If it was just plain, cooked chix, the sauce would slide off.  But the sauce was the problem.  None of us liked it.  There was too much rice vinegar in it.  The chili garlic sauce can be adjusted more or less to your spice tolerance, so that is not an issue.  The hubs plowed through it reluctantly, but B and I could not eat it.  I wish I had not tossed the broccoli with the sauce, b/c we could have at least ate that.  So, I had to make something else for the 2 of us to eat.  Since the sauce is pretty easy to make, I am going to work on perfecting that to my taste and only once I have done that, will I make the chix again.  So now we're 1-1-2.


I had his Chicken Marsala on my list, but since it called for the Greek yogurt again, I just made it with butter.  And the last recipe of his I tried were his Brownies, made with black beans.  They are not the consistency of a regular brownie; they are like fudge that has been whipped full of air to make a very light, almost sponge-like chocolate cake.  I like this as the alternative to a heavy brownie.  I will, though, try making them without the espresso powder.  I do not drink any form of coffee and that 1 tbsp is the only flavor that comes through.  It is not bad by any means, but it is not a chocolate brownie.  Once again, Rocco's adding another layer of flavor is kinda too strong or she-she-poo-poo for me.  The hubs eyed them suspiciously yesterday but never tried one.  I'm going to see if he'll eat one today.  He is really good about staying away from chocolate, even though he loves it, but I hope the black beans and the fact that there is only 1.6g of fat and 53 calories in each brownie will persuade him to try.


Next on my list to try is Beef Stew-Fry (that is not a typo, it really is stew) with Shiitakes and Bok Choy.  I will not be putting in the entire bunch of scallions it calls for nor all of the rice vinegar at first.  Will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wedding in Detroit, MI

My cousin, Jed, got married this weekend in the Detroit, MI area.  I have never seen a groom unable to contain so much happiness and excitement!  It was wonderful to behold.  He just grinned so wide and was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feat throughout the entire ceremony!

We originally planned on driving out there - halfway after B got out of school on Thursday and the rest of the way on Friday morning.  But my dad so generously offered to fly us out there, so we took him up on his offer.  B and I have flown together twice before, but this was the 1st time the hubs had flown with B.  I was determined to not check any bags, so I packed up as much as I could earlier in the week and gave it to my parents, who actually drove up.  Our friend, Clair, drove us to and from the airport (thanks Clair and Rudy!)  We got to experience the new trains at Dulles airport, which thrilled B.  Kudos to Delta for not only having the best airline allergy policy I've seen but also for their efficient service that got us into our destinations well before scheduled arrival times.  :o)  Will be selecting them in the future, wherever possible!  One of my many Uncle Pauls flew into the same airport within a half an hour of our arrival, and my parents picked us all up.  The hotel was 45 miles from the airport, but the trip was so fast and fun with Uncle Paul's entertainment!  He is so good with and patient of B, and asked us to include him in any field trips we take to Baltimore next school year.

The reality of how hard our current economic situation has affected Detroit was driven home to us during the car ride from the airport to the hotel.  I have never, in my life, seen entire neighborhoods, schools and businesses abandoned and vandalized.

So Detroit is planning to demolish all of these abandoned areas and turn them into community gardens, so that the locals can grow their own food.  I hope their plan is able to take place and is successful.

The hotel that Jed and his bride, Angella, selected for guests was awesome!  It is an extended stay hotel of suites.  We had a one-bedroom suite with a king-sized bed, full kitchen, dining area, DVD/VCR combo, full hot breakfast, library full of movies and books to borrow, warm, friendly staff and CHEAP!  The hotel was right next door to the Silverdome, the former home of the Detroit Lions.  Here is the view of the Silverdome from our hotel room:


There was also a White Castle burger joint down the street from the hotel!  My brother also drove to the wedding, and I begged him to drive me to the White Castle Friday afternoon so we could get some burgers.  Unfortunately, I found out from the employees that they fry in peanut oil, so we had to walk out with no burgers.  :o(  But no worries, we forgot all about White Castle when we got to the rehearsal dinner.  All wedding guests in town on Friday were invited to a local bowling alley for food, cocktails and glow bowling!  Even though the area was under a severe thunderstorm and tornado warning Friday evening, we didn't notice in the bowling alley.  Each lane could take up to 6 bowlers, so the hubs, B, me, my brother Neale, my cousin Josie (groom's sister) and her newlywed husband, Brendan, played until 10pm.  The alley served great appetizers and dinner.  Josie pointed out to me that the neon colors of the bowling shoes and laces matched the colors in the carpet.  So cool to bowl under black lights!  Even better is to hear B say, "I'm tired!  Can we go back to the hotel now?"  :o)  The bride and groom, Jed and Angella, presented B with congratulations-it's-your-first-wedding gifts.  They are so thoughtful!  They gave him glow bracelets, which he saved for the wedding reception, and a new LEGO set which kept him occupied on Saturday morning.

Due to the storms Friday and Saturday, the church lost power Saturday morning.  It worked out beautifully because we got to attend a candle-lit wedding!  The hubs and I were so proud of B during the full, Catholic mass wedding.  We let him move as much as he needed to as long as he kept quiet and that's what he did.  I wish his school could see what a difference it makes to just let him move...  None of the ladies in the wedding party, including the bride, held a bouquet during the ceremony.  I noticed it immediately during the procession and thought to myself, what a wonderful idea!  They are unencumbered by bouquets throughout the ceremony - what a great idea!  It turns out, the florist just didn't make it to the church in time!  I would not be surprised if this florist's faux pas doesn't end up setting a future trend.

The service ended at 3pm and the reception did not start until 5:30pm.  We stopped at a CVS on the way back to the hotel to pick up some anti-itch cream.  Ben was having an allergic reaction to something he ate the night before.  I will gladly handle a skin reaction, especially away from home, rather than an anaphylaxis reaction!  Starting at 5pm, a bus rented from the local parks and recreation dept shuttled guests from the hotel to the reception.  What a fabulous idea, especially since there was an open bar at the reception!  The reception took place at a beautiful place with historical decor.  There was great food, a slide show of Jed and Angella through the years and a wonderful DJ with great tunes to dance to.  B and I were out on that dance floor until the hubs dragged us, as well as my brother Neale, off to bed.  BOOO!  There was also a photo booth at the reception!  I've never seen such a thing and it was yet another great idea from the wedding couple.  You went into the booth and could choose from a tub of accessories, if you desired.  Just like a photo booth on the beach boardwalk, 4 pix were taken of those in the booth at any give time.  Two strips of every turn in the booth were printed out.  One strip was placed in a photo album for the married couple and we were invited to sign our photos.  The other strip copy was for us to take with us.  The vendor of the photo booth also gave us his card and said that he would have all photos on his website by Tuesday afternoon for us to download and/or print for free.  :o)  When we were heading back to the hotel on the party bus, we passed the custom bus for the "Girls Gone Wild" show a couple of blocks from the church!  Much to the hubs' dismay, the driver would not stop and let us out.  :o(

After all the partying, B slept in 2 whole hours this morning and woke at 7:30am.  He and the hubs went to the lobby for breakfast and let me stay in bed.  They brought me back breakfast in bed for Mother's Day!  My parents gave me a card and B and I gave my mom cards.  By 11am we were on the road back to the airport for our flight home.  Clair and Rudy picked us up and brought us home.  The hubs promptly fell asleep on the couch.  I was tired myself, having found it difficult to stay awake on the plane ride home.  But I rallied!  I left B in charge of his father and went out to forage for licka and dinner.  Everyone would be at all of the area restaurants and we wanted to be at home.  I got some crab legs, scallops and queso fixin's for our Mother's Day dinner.  Such a perfect ending to a wonderful weekend full of family and memories!

Now, I must admit, my eyelids are drooping and I must turn in.  Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Random Things

I have been trying to log in here and jot down random things that I want to blog about later, when I have the time.  I just logged in now to jot down some things B said to me this evening and realized I have 8 bullet points and really should just take the time to type.  There is not a cohesive theme throughout, hence the post title, but such is my life!  So here we go...

After replacing B's chair at the kitchen table with a stability ball, he wanted us all get stability balls.  So we did.  There are 3 balls under the kitchen table and they remind me of Papa Bear's, Mama Bear's and Baby Bear's chairs.  B rolls his ball into the family room to watch TV (although he usually ends up standing or bounces on and off the ball) and to play certain Wii games that he will actually sit for.  That ball under him has really made life easier.  I need to sit on mine more often b/c I really feel it in my back when I do.

B asked some big questions over dinner last Thursday.  How come God let 9/11 happen?  How come God does not come down and take out Bin Ladan since we can't find which cave he's in?  He had all kinds of suggestions for finding him.  Some have been done or are being done, some are not possible and although one of his suggestions is actually possible, it would destroy all life on Earth in the process so that's a no-go.  It amazes me the things he absorbs and processes!  We had a good discussion but I know he is going to stew over it and come back again with more questions and suggestions.  I can't wait.

I have gathered some great HS resources and materials so far.  We have tons for science, I have secured an Art teacher for him and keep going back and forth on purchasing a one year subscription to a website used at his school.  I received a message from my computer yesterday that I have just about used up all the space on my hard drive and I need to clear it out!  It's all the free ebooks, and audio lessons and such that I have been saving.  I need to start organizing so I can transfer them to disks.  I have some really exciting stuff I want to do with Ben but I'll need to keep myself in check and not do it all at once.  There is plenty of time.

B's palate is getting smaller and smaller and the issue is texture.  It is so annoying!  I fear I will have to start pureeing more foods to get a variety in him.

B has obviously been thinking about HSing.  While I was cooking dinner tonight he said, he kept repeating, "I love being at home and I kinda like school."  While getting him upstairs for bed he said, "I'm kinda excited about this HSing thing."  Then, after I turned out the light in his room he asked, "Is there going to be homework at HS?"

I know that was only 5 things, but I combined 2, realized I had already blogged about 1 and then decided not to blog about another.  Not exciting, at all, but it's done.  Phew!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Results Are In...

A few weeks ago, I bought B a stability ball.  He had been standing at his desk or the kitchen table to do homework, but he is getting taller and he has to stoop over to do his work.  Then once he is stooped over, he leans on the table or desk and kicks his legs up in the air over and over.  The table is creaking and wobbling under his weight now.  I thought about getting those bed risers and placing them under his desk to raise it up, but his desk in in the living room and the hubs says B prefers to be in the kitchen with him.  I won't put risers under the kitchen table so I bought B the stability ball.  What a difference that has made!  B "sits" on it to do homework and to eat all his meals.  But he doesn't really sit; he bounces.  His upper body is still and he is completely focused on the task at hand while his lower body is bouncing away!  I wish I could get an extra ball for his desk at school...

B's test results arrived today.  He got 76 out of 80 questions correct.  He definitely passed.  :o)  I knew he passed, b/c I checked the test after he took it.  But we have decided to have B finish out 1st grade at his school.  Ever since I told him that we would be HSing him in the Fall, he has been very happy at school.  He rarely has anything negative to say about school.  He bounds out of school all excited to tell the hubs about everything he did that day and about all of his friends.  I asked him yesterday why he thought he was so happy at school now and he said, "I don't know.  I guess because I know I don't have that much more to go?"  Interesting.  Does he feel like the pressure is off of him since he only has 2 more months to go?  Is he more relaxed since he has another option, that he doesn't HAVE to go to school?  Whatever the reason, the hubs and I are very pleased that B is enjoying school so we want him to have the last couple of months.  We are very happy he will end his school experience on a positive note instead of being pulled out due to an unhappy one.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Administering The Test

I want to apologize for my comments' setting.  When I set up the blog, the default was set so that comments could only be made if you logged in.  I have changed that so anyone can make comments to posts now.


I spread the California Achievement Test (CAT) out.  It has 5 parts - 3 Language Arts and 2 Math - and B took it over Monday, Tuesday and today.  This was the same as the tests I took in elementary school.  You know, those old "fill in the bubble" tests.  Ahhh, we truly didn't know how good we had it back then!  Oh to be back when the worst things I had to worry about were being on Sr. Irene's bad side or whether or not Chris H. would ask me to dance at a party.  ;o)  Anywho, the Language Arts sections were a breeze.  It was fun to see how excited B was in his complete confidence that he was answering correctly.  "I am SO GOOD at this!" he exclaimed over and over.  Math was tougher...on me!


gets Math and that makes me very happy b/c I get Math.  When I was in school there were 2 kinds of students - those who got Math and those who didn't.  I noticed a pattern in those who didn't - they questioned Math.  There is no "questioning" in Math!  Math is finite.  The formula works, every time.  You don't question why it works, you just plug in the numbers and know the answer is right.  But my classmates who struggled in Math wanted to know why the formula worked?  Who says so?  My friend Rosanna and I had many an argument over Math and I finally had to put Math on the "no talking" subject list.  Actually, more people than not are either English people or Math people.  Ben and I are a minority who are both and the hubs claims he is neither.  "I was a street-smart athlete," he says.  B and I had reviewed double digit, vertical addition and subtraction and he was an ace!  He did it all in his head and I was utterly confident he would breeze through the Math sections of the CAT.  I was wrong.


He knew the answers to the sample questions immediately.  However, when I set the timer and he was on his own to do his addition section, it wasn't so easy.  In fact, it was nerve-wracking - for me!  This was the only section he did not finish in the allotted time.  He came up with answers that were not one of the 4 options or he came up with the reverse answer which was an option.  I guess that means it is pretty common to reverse the ones and tens column.  I was surprised how hard it was for me to sit there and not help him by answering his questions and requests for help.  The only thing I could say was, "If you don't know it, guess.  If you can't guess, skip it and go onto the next one."  Anywho, when he did the double digit, vertical subtraction section, there was no problem at all!  Finished all of them before time was up, got all the questions correct and didn't hesitate on a one.  Interesting...  Mailed back the test to  Seton Testing and now we just wait for the results.


I discovered a negative today for having B at home instead of at school - potty talk!  Any and all words that relate to below-the-belt body parts, bodily noises and bathrooms are hi-LARIOUS to boys B's age.  He knows that we do not want to hear them at home so, evidently, he and his friends get them out of their systems at school.  LOL  Occasionally on the weekends, one slips out, we correct him, and that's it.  But today was day 6 away from school due to Spring Break and he could no longer contain himself!  Once again, oh to be at that stage where all it took was the word "butt", "fart" or "poop" to entertain me...  ;o)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Going Public

Even though our decision to HS had been made over Christmas break, we were not ready to tell everyone.  None of our friends nor family members HSed.  We didn't have all the answers to all the possibly questions that would be asked.  We didn't know which curriculum we would use or if we would use one at all.  And I wasn't ready to face any possible skepticism or negative reactions just yet.

The hubs really wants B to finish out the school year, so we decided not to tell Ben about HSing until this Summer.  B does love going to school to be with his friends.  He loves Math, PE, Music and Art.  The hubs was worried B would not be happy about HSing when we told him b/c he would not be with his school friends all day.  We also did not want B to tell everyone at school that he would be HSed in the Fall.  Our decision was not made b/c we feel the school is doing a poor job and do not want any teachers feeling slighted.  We figured the news would go over much better during the Summer, especially when everyone else went back to the school building in the Fall and B got to stay home.

As excited about HSing as I was from all my research, the hubs still had his doubts - another reason to not go public with our decision.  We had joined The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers at the beginning of January and registered for their annual conference that took place March 12-13.  There were so many interesting session subjects that the hubs and I split up in order to capture it all.  It was a great weekend for us as a couple, just to get away w/o B.  Plus, the hubs now got so much information that I had been getting for the past few months.  The more he learned the more convinced he was that we had made the right decision.  He gained confidence that he could and would teach B just as much as me.  On the way home from the conference he said we were ready to "come out" and could handle any and all reactions.  It's been great to see the hubs turning so many everyday activities into learning opportunities w/o B even realizing it.  ;o)

One day while B was doing his homework he said to the hubs, "I wish I had a say in what my homework was."  The hubs told me that night that he almost let it slip to B that he would soon have a say in everything he learned!  He saw then that B would not be completely bummed about our decision.  Last week B came into my room to get me up and I was not happy.

Me: I can not WAIT until this school year is over. (I mumbled as I got out of bed. B evidently heard me)
B: Me, too!  I wish I never had to go back to school after this year ended.
Me: (Blink.  Blink, blink.) You don't.
B: (whole face lit up and big grin) I DON'T?!?!?!
Me: Nope!  Daddy and I are going to teach you at home!
B: (face fell fast and he looked at the ground) Oh.
Me: It's going to be great, B.  You are in school for 6.5 hours a day and we'll only need an hour or two at home.  And it won't have to be all at once.  We'll learn everywhere, not just at the kitchen table.  We'll go on field trips and you'll get to make decisions on what we learn about.  It's called "homeschooling".
B: Hey, I've seen books all over the house with that word on it!
Me: Yup.  I've been learning, too.  
B: But Mama?  What about Music class?  'Cuz at school, sometimes we play instruments in Music class.
Me: Well, we can see about that.  Plus our music class could involve going to concerts and listening to music and reading about composers.  So, do you think we can do it?
\: YEAH!  (pauses)  So, can we start now instead of in the Fall?
Me: I feel the same way, buddy.  I'm still workin' on your daddy...

Before B headed off to school, I told him in no uncertain terms is he to tell ANYONE about HSing.  I don't know why I expected him to do something that I myself was unable to do, but I hoped for the best.  A friend of mine said to me, "You just told him he doesn't have to go back to school in the Fall, he will only be learning for an hour or two a day and will have field trips.  Suuuure he's gonna keep that jackpot to himself at school!"  But he did.  He actually forgot all about HSing when I asked him if he had told anyone else yet.  :o)

This week I am administering the 1st grade California Achievement Test (CAT) to B.  It is an approved form of Evidence of Progress that the school division requires each year to show that your child is learning at home.  The hubs has promised that if B passes the CAT then we can talk about pulling him for the rest of the year.  He has completed all language arts sections so far and will complete the math sections today and tomorrow.  I know his results will not be back before Spring Break is over, but it should not be too long to get them.  I have complete confidence that B will pass.  He is bright and has a great 1st grade teacher!  Will let you know the results as soon as I get them!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Beginning

I have been asked by some to explain how/why my husband and I came to the decision to homeschool our son.  I've been wanting to start blogging again, and now this new chapter in our life will certainly provide many experiences and memories that we will want to document.  So, this seemed as good a place as any to answer the questions about HSing (homeschooling).

B's outgoing, talkative, interruptive and attention-needing personality has been the subject of many meetings, classroom observations and  behavioral charts throughout kindergarten and 1st grade.  We were well aware that B was disturbing and wasting his teachers' and classmates' time in kindergarten.  However, where is the incentive in that to HIM to change his behavior?  In 1st grade, he started costing himself, as well.  Although he fell in the highest level reading class based on his ability, he could not be placed in the highest group due to his behavior - according to the school, he would not work successfully independently nor in groups.  He was placed in a lower level group, where he was not challenged enough and became bored, therefore his behavior got worse.  Unlike in kindergarten, B started to not like 1st grade.  It was crushing to hear him say he "hated" school.  B is bright and loves to learn; he loves being around other kids.  Yet he hates school b/c he is bored and sitting in the hallway in timeout most days.  And when he tries to make it better for others by putting so much energy into controlling himself at school, he is a wreck when he comes home - exhausted, crying, short-tempered.  This is 1st grade, people!  What would it be like in middle school?!


In November 2009, I attending a talk at my church by Kirk Martin called "How to Be a Calm Mom."  Most of us in the audience had "intense" children and were looking for some ideas to bring peace and order to our homes.  We got insight into how and why our kids' brains worked and how we can create calm in ourselves, our children and our homes.  I started practicing Kirk's ideas at home and we saw an immediate, positive difference in B.

Over Christmas break, we were visiting our friends K & C and the conversation between the wife, K, and me eventually steered toward how B was doing at school.  I was beside myself with frustration and at a loss for a solution.  I said, "My parents have offered to send B to private school.  But I know no matter which school he goes to, we're going to have the same problems!  The only alternative to a school is HSing and I am NOT going to HS him!"  She asked, "Why not?"


Me: B and I have the same personality.  If we stayed home all day together we'd be at each other's throats!
K: Haven't you been taking a different approach (Kirk Martin) the past month and half?  And haven't things been completely different between you two - calm and harmonious?
Me: Yes.  But I can't reward his behavior at school by bringing him home and catering to him.  He needs to learn to get along in this world without being the center of the universe and he needs socialization.
K: He'll get plenty of socialization.  So many people HS nowadays.  I'll bet you have a huge HSing community in your area and you'll hook up with them.  He'll not only socialize with kids, but kids of all ages and other adults who will teach him things, too.
Me: But I don't know everything he needs to learn.  I'm not a teacher.
K: You ARE a teacher.  You are a mom.  You work 2 jobs outside of the home with kids from 3 months to 13 years old.  You'll learn along with him.  And I'm a former teacher; I'll help you.
Me: But...
K: You CAN do this.  And you won't have to do it alone.


The hubs and the kids came in just then and his and my eyes met.  "What is it?" he asked.  "We can HS B," I said, with wonder in my voice.  We just stared at each other for a bit, and in that space between us, every reason we had recited for over a year for NOT homeschooling B just flipped in our minds to become the reasons we SHOULD HS him.  He said, "We CAN HS B."  C walked in behind the kids, looked at us and said, "What's going on?"  I said, "We're going to HS B."  "Cool," said C.  "You'll both be great at it!"


It was both exciting and scary to have made the decision.  Part of me did not want to send him back to school after Christmas was over, but the other part of me had no idea what to do with him if we didn't!  I started spending all my spare time researching - online, checking out a ton of books form the library, learning the state's and local district's laws and reaching out to other HSers.  I have a favorite HSing author, Linda Dobson.  I found insight, empowerment and validation in her books.  Through reading books, I have learned so much about why the American public school system was created, how it works, and how it fails so many children.  I found a wonderful organization with a wealth of information and joined a local HSing group for ideas, playdates, field trips and support.

The school curriculum was created by people who have never met my son, and for left-brain learners with a particular personality that allows them to sit quietly for hours each day.  My son happens to be a right-brainer and cannot sit still.  He stands at home to do his homework but is not allowed to stand at his desk at school.  He hums at school when he is bored or stressed to keep himself from interrupting the teacher, but it bothers people anyway and he is put in the hallway for it.  Accommodations in the classroom will not be made for B unless he is diagnosed with something under the Americans with Disability Act.  There is nothing wrong with him that falls under the ADA; he merely has a learning style and personality style that is different than what the school curriculum is made for.  I do not expect the school to tailor its curriculum to B; but I can.  And I will, at home.