Friday, August 31, 2007

TGIF 8/31/07

I'm really not sure how it became the end of August already! This means we're basically to the end of our first month of homeschooling for this school year. Amazing!

We went to the outdoor pool today for the last time this summer! It was mostly overcast, but it was still alot of fun! We've had alot of good times at the pool this year! Next year, I'll have to get a disposable camera to take with me so I can get some fun pictures! ;)

Today was a difficult day for Austin and Reece, though I cannot determine why. That is truly frustrating. But in keeping with my instructions to remain focused on the positive, here we go:

1. Austin had a number of meltdowns today, but he recovered from them much more quickly than he would have a year ago, I think.

2. I'm sitting here thinking of ways to be positive about Reece today. It's just not happening! ;) Maybe that's the positive thing... that I can joke about it? LOL

Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's Thursday already?

We spent the afternoon at the pool again... tomorrow is the last weekday the outdoor pools are open for the summer! I will be sad to see the pool season end. This has been a remarkable summer. I will definitely be keeping everyone active at the indoor pool over the winter when we can! It has been so pleasant!

1. Austin had his first 'daily test' with Spelling Power today, and he actually loved it. There were 2 words in the list that he wasn't 100% confident about, and he asked to move those directly to his study list. That was all his missed, so he just had those 2 to study. He did really well! He wasn't fond of the corn starch used for the 'texture' so if anyone can suggest an alternative texture that doesn't get all over him, that would be great!

2. Reece has been a little more off recently. We've been so busy though, and that directly affects her. If she didn't have so much fun at the pool, it wouldn't be worth it! She had storytime at the library today, though, and she did VERY well. The theme was monkeys, and we've been reading and discussing Caps for Sale, so she is really excited about monkeys. She paid attention during storytime, and she was really engaged with the activities. She didn't mind being around the kids, and the commotion (most of the kids at storytime are several years younger).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today's notes

1. Austin spoke on the phone with my mother for about 30 minutes. It was a real conversation. He followed what she was talking about, even when it went into a topic he wasn't interested in! He didn't just spew facts at her, but really interjected some interesting broadband communication! I didn't hear all of the exchanges, but at one point he said, "Smart girl! That's a good idea!" I know my mom, had to just be loving it!

2. At the pool today, it stormed and we had to go use the indoor pool. And we had to leave before the pool closed. (On Wednesdays we usually stay until it closes). Reece did so very well with it all! She didn't have a hard time transitioning to the other pool, or back to the outdoor pool, and then back to the indoor pool again!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Forgot today's positive notes

1. Reece really interacted with the little girls in her dance classes. One of them was talking about Ariel (the Little Mermaid), and Reece ran over and got her Crocs to show the girls that she has Ariel on her Crocs. The little girls were quite impressed. She also showed them that her tooth is out.

2. Austin had a great time while the girls had dance classes. He sought out the big brother of one of the girls in Reece’s class (who he knows from the baseball league). This boy was excited to see Austin, too. They went off and played in the gym together, and Austin had said “Let’s have the ______-_____(the boys' last names) Homerun Derby”. The boy had to run an errand with his mom, and he brought Austin a bottled water when he returned. Austin was very gracious about it, and thanked the boy and his mom.


Now that I have another moment to post...

It's not that I think we're doing too much school work. On the contrary. But if our goal for this year is to foster the relationship-building within our RDI program, we've got to have some downtime to do this. Perhaps this will come more naturally after ball season is over, or once we're not tempted to run over to the pool every afternoon! ;)

I'm just sort of thinking outloud here. Er, um, thinking online? Anyway, I'm just typing this all out so that I can reflect on these thoughts later. :)

Too much thinking

Reece: Sunday she attended my Sunday School class with me. She had attempted her own SS class/children's church the first week of August with disastrous results. I was with her, and it was just not geared for a child with her needs. It took several days for her to recover. My teacher suggested bringing her along with me, so at least I could come back to class. Reece did very well, all things considered. The neatest thing she did was to look over at me before drew on the white board in the room. She was checking to make sure it was OK first! :)

Austin: Did well on Sunday with church, but had a rough day yesterday. I did not respond in the proper RDI manner, which just left me frustrated and feeling guilty. Today (Monday) has been much better. He overheard me giving Riley the placement test for Spelling Power, which just so happened to be the same placement test I had given him! He didn't freak out or anything, which was surprising.

As for me, I am struggling to focus on the positive. I'm just a few days into it, so I'm sure it will take more practice. I will tell you something I'm considering. Taking the month of September 'off school'. All of it. Sitting around in the living room, obviously no TV/computers/etc, seeing what we come up with. This house is full of books and games and fun things to do, and it seems like we rarely get to those things. Even with a lighter load, we still seem to have no time to just be. We work until lunch, eat, I read-aloud, have rest time, and then it's time for dance, or baseball. We aren't going to give up those things because they are so important to the kids. But the few times we have had the extra hour or so, Austin just paces around the house. He will come over and kiss me or give me a hug, but he just doesn't know what to do. . He just doesn't do them. And maybe it would help me to see that learning will go on without 'school'. Or maybe it will prove to me that it won't! LOL

Or maybe we won't do the whole month of September. I chose it because we will lose a week in Sept. for our beach vacation anyway. Maybe we'll just do the week before we go, or the week when we get back. I am not sure. It's an experiment that I'm very close to attempting. I guess I'll have to decide by the weekend, since next week is September!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A busy Saturday

DH took the kids down to his hometown in middle-south Georgia because it's his school reunion. Not just his class reunion, but the reunion for the entire school. That's because my dh graduated in a class of 23!! That boggles my mind... we surely come from totally different upbringings! I graduated in a class of around 300, but I don't consider that to be my class because we moved to SC a few weeks before my senior year. The school in OK that I considered to be my class had well over 1,000 students in each grade!

Anyway, DH's sister and her husband are in town from CA for the reunion and also to drop my oldest nephew off at college (ACK How did that happen??? He was one of my ring bearers and he was about the age Reece is now. Is this really how fast time goes by?). A number of DH's friends also stopped by his mom's house to say hello! He didn't go to any of the activities, because even the family-friendly ones would be too much for certain 1 or 2 of our kids. But it was good that the kids were able to still see a few of DH's best friends.

Dh gives this report about the kids:
1. Austin handled going out to lunch really well. Sometimes he gets disturbed at restaurants that he isn't used to, because of the unexpected. He ordered something different, which is also a biggie! This particular restaurant (a childhood favorite of dh's, not a chain) is very, very noisy! Austin handled himself quite well, excusing himself to go to the bathroom for a break when he needed it. He did it quietly and without drawing attention to himself.

2. Reece did well, also. She apparently followed my SIL around for a good bit of the time they were there, which is sweet. And she hugged and sat on the lap of everyone who stopped by to visit. That's not exactly a positive, since it's one of the things we're hoping to work on with her (developing a healthy fear of strangers). However, it worked for the situation that they were in. She was good at the restaurant, and the noise didn't appear to bother her too badly. She's been having a rough time since they've been home, but that's to be expected considering all she's done today.

3. Riley (OK, so she's not exactly the focus of this stuff, but it feels strange to leave her out! LOL) was in her element with all of the attention and meeting new people. DH says he actually had the most challenge with her behavior today. She just tends to try to entertain everyone and doesn't know when to settle it down a notch or two when she starts to get on folks' nerves.

As for me, I got my hair trimmed while they were gone. I think this is the first time ever I have had 2 haircuts within 2 months! It's so cool! I also did a little bit of shopping. I did some copying for school at Staples, and while I was there I found the little 8x5 sheet protectors for the Veritas Press history cards. It was a bit disturbing, how excited I was to find these! I couldn't wait to get home and put the cards in the protectors and the protectors into the binder I had purchased! I need to get another binder for the 1815-Present set. Now the kids will be able to look at the cards anytime they want to, without worrying about getting them messed up.

Tonight Dh and Riley are having a 'date night' and Austin and I will video some RDI. Reece will be on the computer while we tape, because that keeps her entertained. I just have to remember to do some n0n-computer stuff with her before bed so she will fall asleep!

Can you believe this is the last weekend of August already? It's going to be fall before we realize it! I love fall!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hello, I'm back! :)

The blog break was good for me, but our RDI appointment today was probably the best thing for me. Our consultant has asked me to journal/blog every day about the positive things that have gone on each day. She said that I have a tendency to focus on the struggles, on the things that are hard or aren't going well, what I feel like I'm not doing right (which is SO much these days!). My dh laughed mightily at this point, so I assume he agrees.

So, here we go: I'll blog and then send a version of what I've written on to our consultant.

1. Austin today finally told Miss A (the friend who has been watching the kids for most of our appts) that he was hungry, what he wanted to eat, and how he would prefer to have it prepared. This is HUGE for him! He never tells anyone what he needs! I was so proud of him, as was Miss A!

::insert 5 minute pause here::

Gracious, this is harder than it seems.

OK, so starting tomorrow, or maybe Sunday, I'll be on the lookout for positives. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A short break

I'm going to be taking a short break from blogging. I'll be back as soon as I am able.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A no-hitter?

Sorry, couldn't resist the title! ;)

I woke up with a headache this morning, tried a number of ways to get rid of it unsuccessfully, decided to call it a 'mental health' day and took the kids to the pool. We'll make up the work this week at some point, I'm sure. 3 hours at the pool really did wonders for all of us.

When we got home, however, things took a slight turn for the worse. Austin assumed that, since he hadn't hit anyone all day, his punishment would be lifted. He thought wrong. He then had a meltdown. After the meltdown was over, he began to perseverate on the whole 'punishment/hitting/no TV' thing. I decided I didn't want to deal with that, so I told him that any talk about the hitting issue would have to be done out of my earshot. So then he sat next to me and sighed and claimed to be bored. I know he was bored... he doesn't know how to do anything if it's not baseball, gameboy, or ESPN/Discovery Health channel. But I was too wiped out to do anything with him, and apparently he lived. I got home from the gym and he was asleep.

He only has 2 more days of the punishment, and I'm confident he will survive it all. He may not think he will, be he will. We heard back from our RDI consultant, and she was very encouraging. It's hard not to get discouraged when things like this happen. I feel like dh and I are so fragile these days. We are pouring all we have into RDI, and it's just so frustrating to feel like we're going backward. And then it never fails that someone asks about Riley, and then I worry all over again that she's getting lost in the shuffle. (Let's not even mention that we already took a day off school today! Shhhhhhh....)

We're getting back on track tomorrow!

Monday, August 13, 2007


I cannot believe that I'm posting this, let alone that I'm posting this about an 11 year old child. ::sigh:: But I'm posting to get it out of my head, and maybe if anyone reads this and can offer some insight, they will be able to do so. I've emailed everything I'm typing here to our RDI consultant, in hopes that she can help explain to me what's going on.

I don't know if I've mentioned or not, but we've been seeing lot of new flare-ups in Austin's behavior. They are typically short-lived and we're using the Collaborative Problem Solving method from The Explosive Child to try to work through them. Well, we have a new one now. Austin is hitting. This isn't something he even did as a toddler! Yesterday he hit Riley in her side, and I punished him by sending him to his room. Afterwards, he apologized to her on his own, and we discussed what had happened. He promised he'd never do it again. I told him that there would be serious consequences if it did happen. (Also, I told the same to Riley, that there would be serious consequences if she provoked him as she did this time).

Well, today, a few hours ago, we were leaving a friend's house and Austin hit Riley again. (I should add here that there have been more than just these 2 incidents. Austin has been aggresive towards both of the girls the last month or so) Today, there was no provocation, aside from him being frustrated with her. I waited to address it when we got home so I could think with a clear head, and he told me that he was very sorry and that he just forgot and he really wouldn't do it again next time. He said he just gets so frustrated with her. I gave him his punishment (no watching any tv at all for 3 days, and no Braves games for the next 3 games), and he had a meltdown. He's been in his room since. He calmed down after about 20 minutes. I went in to check on him. He told me that there is something 'wrong' with him because he can't remember what he's not supposed to do. I told him that I didn't think there was anything 'wrong' with him. I don't know if that's the right response or not, but that's what came out.

My dh and I are just at a complete loss. I don't know what is going on with Austin these days. This is a child who has always been so sweet, caring, loving. He wouldn't dream of hitting anyone, even when he was little and it was at least more 'age-appropriate'. What on earth could be going on with him? I am beside myself... I would never have dreamed that my 11 year old son would start up hitting at his age!

Of course my brain starts racing: Is RDI causing him to regress? Is this hormone/adolescent related? Is this the side of Aspergers I've always read about and dismissed finally showing itself? Are we seeing this as a result of using the problem solving methods of The Explosive Child instead of just punishment/discipline?

I am more afraid to leave the house now than I have been for a very long time. Austin's attitude and behavior are at an all-time low. Or at least it rivals ages 2-4 when he would scream anytime we went anywhere. The main difference now is that I can't wrestle a 70 pound 11 year old into the car when he's freaking out. And Reece is having her own lovely stuff going on that I haven't the energy to go into right now.

I can't see the screen anymore for the tears. Hopefully, I'll have some good insight coming from our consultant, and I'll be able to make some sense of this soon.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Something very big and exciting I forgot!

I need to mention this very important piece of news! I can't believe I forgot it!

We started the Scripture Memory Box last week on our first day of school. Austin and Riley know a ton of verses from being in AWANA for the last 5 years. Since we couldn't fit AWANA into our RDI goals, I thought this way to learn scripture would be good for all of us. I started us off with only 3 verses - John 3:16 behind the daily tab; Genesis 1:1 behind the even tab; and the Lords' Prayer behind the odd tab.

So we've been working on the verses for 10 days now, and Reece knows all of Genesis 1:1, and nearly all of John 3:16! She can't really recite them that well, yet, but she is familiar with both of them and joins us in certain parts! That is just amazing to me! It's no pressure, like AWANA would have been, and she likes to be included with us! I'm going to add a few more verses we already know, as a refresher, as we fill in our box!

I'm just so glad to see Reece starting to learn some scripture for herself now!

The week in review 8/6-10

Well, our first full week of the school year is over! We survived, and you know what? I think some learning occured as well! ;) It was a really tough week, that's to be sure. If you've read my blog this week, you knew that one before you even started reading this entry! I realized, in talking with our RDI consultant, that there has been even more change going on in our lives than I realized.

First of all, last Sunday we had huge changes at church, all of which were incredibly stressful on Austin and Reece. Then our new school methods, which are alot more relaxed, which is stressful on Austin. I don't think it affects Reece as much, since she's not really had daily school before. And I also changed their access to TV and computer games, which is another big change. My dh was gone M-W of this week. And finally, Austin's playing in a new league this year because he turned 11, so that will be a change. He's not sure if he'll be able to pitch in this new league.

So I guess when you look at it that way, it's amazing that we accomplished as much as we did! LOL And we did accomplish quite a bit:

Austin - He did really well in math this week, started learning about division with regrouping with much more ease than I thought he was going to

Riley - she finished her first book of the year and moved onto her second; she has also really stepped up to the challenge of having to copy math from the textbook

Reece - she did a full 'day' of work four days this week, and read to me this morning ; she is eager to spend the time with me, and she's also reading to her Barbies lol

I have decided not to add anything new to our schedule next week. It feels that we are overloaded enough as it is, so we'll stick with what we have so far. When our days seem to get easier, we will add other subjects. This coming week we'll be adding baseball practice back in. And the week after next we're adding the girls' dance classes back in. So I think we'd just better keep the status quo for now! :)

I'm going to try to enjoy the weekend now! I hope you all do as well!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not a poster child


I promise one of these days I will work harder to become a poster child for homeschooling or the RDI lifestyle or, in my dreams, the combination of both. But this is not that day. Tomorrow doesn't look promising either. ;)

Looking on the bright side: we are all alive, and dressed, and fed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The 1st Key

After yesterday's somewhat disappointing reading experience, I got out the 7 Keys to Comprehension and decided that it was time to put this into action. I have been reading the book for the last few weeks, and have really enjoyed it. It reminds me alot of RDI, and I think I actually learned about the book from the RDI Homeschoolers loop. And since it was here, I decided to jump out of the theory section and into the first Key.

The first key is Creating Mental/Sensory Images. This was very interesting to me, because the premise is that good readers have mental pictures or video running through their heads as they read. I know this is very true for me, but my friend Lisa told me once that it doesn't happen when she reads. She is probably one of the most voracious adult readers I know! Anyway, I read through the chapter on the 1st key, made some notes, and that's what Austin and I worked on today.

I read him a section of his Pedro's Journal book, which he has been reading since the first day of school. I asked him to close his eyes, and then I told him what I saw in MY head. He then told me what he saw without any prompting. We talked a bit about what it means to see the stuff you are reading in your head, and what we should do if that ever stops (checking for the elusive comprehension that he seems to struggle with). Then I also told him he could act out what he sees in his head, and so he did that as well. It was really wonderful to see him being able to take a paragraph and maybe not tell me exactly what happened, but to descibe what he saw.

Riley overheard us talking about it and she came to tell me that she always sees the story in her head, too. That doesn't surprise me, but I'm going to be more diligent about talking to her about it more.

Reece overheard us as well, and came to tell me that the movie in HER head was that she snapped her fingers and the whole room cleaned itself. Ok, so it's not something she's read about, but at least she's listening to what I'm saying! LOL

I guess we'll work through these Keys, and see what happens. In just the overview, some of it reminds me of Tammy's chart that she uses with her daughter, which I had been meaning to incorporate as well! So maybe I'll be accomplishing two things at once? That would sure be nice!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday notes

Today and yesterday went a good deal better than last week. We added our math curricula; writing in the forms of copywork, dictation, and Diamond Notes (for Austin); and history (Monday) and Science (today), which is just reading and discussing.

I had to get more structured than I had planned. I started us out last week with no structure/schedule and it was a disaster. I don't know if it's very RDI or not, so I'll have to work on that. But basically I laid out our morning "Before School" routine, which consists of getting up and dressed, breakfast, and chores. Then I also printed off a School Day routine, which shows sort of a 'What comes next and what do I do while that's happening?" sort of thing. So we start our morning with our Bible Study, then I move onto Reece's lesson. On the sheet, it shows what Austin and Riley can be doing while I'm working with Reece: math drill, reading assignment, book basket reading, copywork. The only thing that has a time is recess, because that's a mid-point of our morning. Everything else is more of a 'next subject/activity' sort of thing. Like I said, I'm not sure how RDI friendly it is, but it surely makes our morning flow alot better.

The big kids' reading is not working out like I had hoped it would. I'm still trying to give it time, but it seems like we're not doing enough. Riley tells me all the major and minor details of what she has read, and of course, she is far ahead of where I assigned. But it doesn't take very long so I'm not sure if I'm doing enough. I mean, she reads, we talk for a few minutes. Is that how it workds?

Austin's is a bit different. I gave him a notebook to write down words he doesn't understand, and then he writes a 1-2 sentence summary of his daily reading. But he just doesn't get much out of what he is reading at all. And I don't know how to help him with that. I try to talk to him about it, not asking direct questions, but he's just not interested. One time yesterday he replied with, "Well, how am I supposed to know what they're thinking? It's just a story!" Also, he is not getting the subtle language, and I don't know how to help him with that either. His summary yesterday was, "The compass broke, and Columbus was very mad about it." Sounds OK, unless you've read the story and realize that they were all wondering if the compass could have stopped working because they hadn't seen land, and they thought maybe Columbus was mad as in crazy. I tried explaining this to Austin, and I got the 'no idea what you are talking about' look. I even tied it to a use of mad as crazy that I knew he has heard before. Nothing. And if I try to elicit more out of him with questions, then I'm totally getting away from RDI/Declarative language.

The same is basically true with history. I read a section of our history spine yesterday and everyone just sort of stared at me. I tried commenting on some things that I found interesting, but got no response. I finally asked the review questions at the end of the section to try to see if anyone had listened, and they could answer them. It's just frustrating.

Reece's reading is also quite frustrating. She has to keep sounding out 'is' even though it's on every single darn page in every single darn sentence. She acts like she's never seen it before, every time!

Math is going fine... Riley is doing well with the textbook, writing her answers on paper. She just dawdles because other things are more interesting. One of these days she'll figure out that if she moves more quickly, it will be done faster. Austin started on the division with remainders in Math U See, and that's been a fairly simple thing for him. So far, so good! Reece is still working in her Calvert K workbook, and I'm keeping her to 2-4 pages instead of letting her do a ton of pages at a time.

Copywork/Dictation going well... glad I purchased Spelling Wisdom to use for that! I don't have to hunt for good things to copy! :) Austin liked his first lesson of Diamond Notes. Hopefully learning to write a paragraph by basing it on a baseball diamond will make it hit home (no pun intended) for him!

We're getting everything done, with a minor amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, so I guess that means it's successful! If I could figure out reading, I'd feel so much better!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Reece swimming solo!

Here is a video of Reece swimming without her floatie! She has been terrified of the water for so long, even at the beginning of this summer! It is great to see her having so much fun in the water!

Riley swimming

She is such a drama queen, isn't she? It's hard to believe she's only been swimming solo for less than 2 years! She's like a little fish!

Austin swimming!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ready for a new week?

This week we are getting into more of a routine so that our days will flow more like normal. We will add math and writing to our daily schedule, as well as our Bible/Missionary stories. If those things go smoothly, we will also tackle history and science readings (and notebooking if the kids initiate it). We have an appointment with our RDI consultant this week, which will be the first time since we've been back to school. She attended the RDI national convention over this weekend, so I'm anxious to hear all about it!

I've got everything ready for tomorrow. Now I just have to get myself ready! I am struggling with the pressure of modifying our school style for RDI. I know, it really sounds backward. But I'm afraid that I'll be doing it wrong. It's actually harder for me to do things differently because, as with everything RDI, it just doesn't come naturally. And honestly, I'm just tired of feeling this way.

Speaking of RDI... I need to go work on some frameworks for Reece's next DVD! ;)

Friday, August 03, 2007

The 2nd day of school

OK, today went much better than yesterday! :) Austin got a good night's sleep, which is so crucial to his ability to handle things. I think that can be said for all of us!

Today we had math games and reading. It didn't take us nearly as long as it did yesterday, and everyone had a much better attitude, which makes everything more pleasant! Not that yesterday was a disaster, it was just filled with lots of tears and arguing. The girls actually enjoyed putting puzzles together when they finished their work, before we went to see Shrek the Third, which was much better than the 2nd one! Austin struggled with not knowing what to do, but he was willing to help me around the house. I'm not quite ready to tackle games with him quite yet, because he gets so obsessed with winning, and gets quite upset when he loses. We'll have more time to get in the groove of this next week!

Next week we'll add math, writing, history, and science. Or at least math. :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

First Day of School 2007-2008

Here are the first day of school pictures for the Black Pearl Academy!

Reece, K5:

Riley, 3rd grade:

Austin, 5th grade:

The entire student body of the Black Pearl Academy:

I had planned out 2 things for each child to do today. Those 6 things took over an hour. I'm going to try to stay positive! ;)

P.S. Thanks to my mom for the pirate flag and flag holder!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Well, here we go...

the pencils are sharpened, the folders are selected, the plans are made. It's time to begin.

Wish us luck! :)