Friday, February 29, 2008

Tagged by Jan

Scroll down for the weekly review, please! :)


1. library

2. bank

3. dance studio

4. baseball fields


1. Lisa

2. Sherry

3. Jan

4. my husband

C) Four of my favorite foods:

1. Reduced fat Pringles

2. Totinos Frozen Pizza, Sausage & Pepperonit

3. Double Stuff Oreos

4. TGIFridays Potato Skins

OK, this cracks me up... reduced fat pringles, followed by all that high-fat nasty junk! ROFL I guess I wouldn't have to spend 6 nights a week working out if my favorite foods were apples, carrots, salads, and celery, huh?

D) Four places I would rather be right now:

1) Disney World

2) St. George Island, Florida

3) the Caribbean

4) Disney Word (did I mention that one already? LOL)

E) Four movies I would watch over and over:

1) Pirates of the Caribbean (1,2,or 3)

2) The Hunt for Red October

3) Ocean's 11 (12, or 13)

4) National Treasure (1,2)

Weekly Review: 2/25-29

Another week has gone by already! And it's the end of February on top of it! It's amazing to me how fast time seems to go as I get older. :)

This week marks our last week of school until "PreSpring Break". Next week we are off school for two reasons: Monday is Reece's 6th birthday, and Tuesday evening I am leaving for a trip to Disneyworld with my mom! We never have school on birthdays at the Black Pearl Academy! And besides, I am much to distracted with anticipation of my trip with my mom! She and I are going to celebrate our birthdays --- hers was this past week, and mine will be the first week of April. She and I are going alone and while we're there we will have breakfast with Cinderella in the castle, attend the Pirate and Princess Party, and watch an Atlanta Braves spring training game. It is SO exciting! I've been looking forward to this trip for months, and now that it is upon us, I can't concentrate on anything else! LOL

OK, looking back on our school week:

Reece finished the last of the Calvert Early Phonics Readers! She was so excited, and I'm so proud of her. I took our traditional picture of "finishing your first set of reading books" and she is holding her favorite of the books, Jam.

Riley finished Understood Betsy before I did, so I haven't been able to have her narrate to me! LOL It is a book she really enjoyed, and I know I am enjoying it! Austin is still reading The Princess and Curdie.

Austin took the test for the last long division lesson in MUS Delta and got a B! HOOORAY!! There are 5 more lessons in the book, but they are simple and we should be able to sail through them quickly. Then it's on to fractions! Riley finished her Singapore Math workbook and will begin 3B when we get back from vacation. Reece is still loving MUS Primer, so I'm leaning towards keeping her in MUS. Why mess with something that seems to be working?!

Riley started First Start French. It is set up just like the Latina Christiana series. We will see how it works out for her. I am having her take 2 weeks per lesson, as I plan to add Latin back in August. Austin is reviewing Spanish with La Clase Divertida 1. Reece listens in on everyone, so she can throw a French or Spanish word at you! LOL

Our Ambleside Year 3 lessons this week involved Guy Fawkes in England and John Smith in the "New World". We also started listening to a story version of "The Taming of the Shrew", and I'm reading "The Children of the New Forest" aloud. For Geography, the kids are reading Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling to themselves.

Our human body study is wrapping up. This week we studied the heart and Cardiovascular system. The kids added the heart to their body models. We only have the brain and senses left and we're done! We're starting the Apologia Elementary Astronomy book, and Riley asked if we were going to do models of the solar system like we did a model of the body! I guess that's what I'll be researching when I get home! I was considering having the girls do a lapbook kit from Homeschool Estore, but I know that is not something Austin would enjoy. So I'm not exactly sure what we will do to make it exciting. I do know that the kids have thoroughly enjoyed making this body model! I will post pictures of them when we are finished!

We read the first Spiderwick Chronicles book this week. It was enjoyable, but nothing that makes me yearn to read the rest of them! I don't think I will take Reece to the movie, though. Judging from the book, and knowing her, I don't think she could handle it. Yeah, I know she's seen Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter, but the latter she hasn't seen at the theater. Maybe she could see Spiderwick on DVD? I'll have to think on it some more!

That's about all I can think of right now! It's too hard for my brain to focus on anything but Disney, and now that I've mentioned POTC, it's hopeless! LOL

I'll be putting pics and video up on Reece's birthday on Monday... so be sure to check back!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

RDA update

Today was RDA3 for Reece. I have been really anxious about this one. I still have bad memories from her last RDA3. I put the link to my blog post about it, in case you need a quick refresher. I think that was quite possibly the lowest of the low points. It was rough, and it took a very long time to get through for me.

So I think it was natural for me to be uneasy about what today might bring. And to add to my stress, we got stuck in traffic again (surprise, surprise) and we were 10 minutes late. Come to find out, I had written our appointment time down wrong and actually we were 20 minutes early. So it all worked out.

Dh started with Reece first, and then it was my turn after about 30 minutes. I didn't get a chance to talk to him about it because he had to get on to work, but our consultant-in-training said that she did really well with him. I was glad to hear that, but I was still apprehensive about what our time together might bring.

I was so pleased! We did most everything non-verbally which last time caused her to meltdown in the corner, which caused ME to meltdown! LOL This time she responded very nicely and, the couple of times she was confused, she referenced me nicely. She was going through a stage where she would get angry when she realized we were doing "no words" (as she called it), but that seems to have passed! We had an absolutely lovely 30 minutes together!

I really am starting to see some positive results from all of our hard work with RDI. You know, it was so scary in the fall last year to decide to put all of our focus on RDI, backing off academics for a season. I was grateful to re-discover the CM philosophy as a way to continue with academics in an RDI-friendly way. Yet, I was still concerned deep down. It seemed that we were backing off academics, and weren't seeing any progress with RDI either. In fact, it seemed for many months that Reece was just having one regression after another. It was frightening and frustrating.

I think now we are starting to reap the rewards of that decision! It's a wonderful feeling! It seems like every time I turn around I am finding some new thing that Austin or Reece is doing. Or realizing that something that was difficult a few months ago is all of a sudden not an issue!

I just couldn't be more thankful for RDI, for Charlotte Mason, and for everyone who has helped us through this last 9-10 months!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Now THIS is progress!

Tonight after supper I decided to throw together some Rice Krispie Treats for dessert. I did all the measuring and was in quite a hurry, but Reece asked if she could help me. Honestly, I was really tired and in a hurry, and I didn't feel like having any help. I told her she could help, but then suggested she might want to have her screen time on

What she said surprised me, and made me quite happy. Riley offered to help Reece get logged in, but Reece said, "No thank you! I want to stay here and help Mommy! I love doing things with you, Mommy!"

I looked over and Russ and we both smiled a knowing smile. She would rather be with me than go play on the computer! :) And she had to wait for her turn (pouring in the rice krispies as soon as the marshmallows were melted)!

It was really cool!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sing a song

Last night was choir for Reece again. We missed choir last week because there were tornado warnings in the area and she was very anxious and worried about the storms. I was also not sure about getting out in such weather... I grew up in "tornado alley"! I have a healthy fear of the power of such storms! :)

So I was a bit nervous about how she would do at choir, having missed last week. I was pleasantly surprised! She went right in and sat down to color. The lady who is does the actual singing lessons part came into our classroom to ask me how I felt about how Reece is doing. I told her I thought it was great, that our only problems are in the transitions, but that I suspect that will get easier as she gets more used to the routine of it all. She informed me that some things will be changing as they start preparing the children to sing on the stage in the worship center in April. She said I could sit up on the stage with Reece, if that will help. The other teachers will be on the stage as well, so I wouldn't look out of place. I would just look like another teacher. We'll see how it goes!

Last night there was a change in the routine and Reece handled it marvelously! The 4 year old classes came in to learn some movements to a few of the songs the children will do in the program in April. Reece got a little upset because her friend wanted to sit somewhere else with another of her friends. Everything ended up being OK. Reece was able to pick up the movements to the songs easily! They even changed one of the movements after teaching it to the kids and finding it to be too difficult for the younger children... she had no problem with that either! It was awesome! She was so proud of herself!

There was just one part where she had a problem, and that was when it was time to learn a brand new song. Reece started to cry that she didn't know this song, and try as I might to explain that nobody knew the new song, she wouldn't stop crying. She said she didn't like the new song and she would never sing it. It all boils down to a lack of competence... it's amazing how clearly it presents itself these days! The moment she didn't feel competent (even though none of the other kids were competent either!), she had a meltdown.

Then it was time to move on to using instruments and playing the beanbag games, and she was back to her regular happy self! She chose a different instrument this time, which was exciting for me! I like it that she doesn't feel a need to keep the instruments static. In fact, this was a brand new instrument that she had never seen before at choir! She went right for it! It was a loud instrument though, and the classroom got very noisy. I was a little concerned, but she didn't react to the noise any worse than some of the other children!

It was a great experience for both of us! I think as she gets more used to the new song, she will start enjoying it like she enjoys the other songs she has learned. And she learns them so quickly... they are nice and easy, fun songs! It is so nice to see Reece be able to handle these new social situations! Today I only had to get involved during the meltdown with the new song. The rest of the time, I just sat in the back of the classroom and observed. She just took part in class like she had been doing it her whole life! She even played with the blocks with a boy she didn't really know!

Way to go, Reece!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Looking ahead: Spring 2008

It seems fitting that, since yesterday I posted a weekly review, today I should post a glimpse into the future. This is our last week of school before Spring Break. I have a number of things I am working on and decisions I'm trying to make, both in the immediate school year and in considering next school year. I think it would be helpful for me to list them here, to help me remember them. Also, I am the sort of person who needs to talk things through (even if the talk is written out), to help me with decisions.

Spring/Summer 2008 (we school through the end of June, take off July, and resume in August):

1. I wish to start moving Riley and Austin into reading more of their own schoolbooks. I will begin by having them read "Our Island Story" as I find this book to be slightly easier than "This Country of Ours".

2. I am going to drop the writing curriculum I recently purchased for Austin. I realized that it does not line up with my goals. It is very classroom oriented, and does not really apply to real-world writing. As much as I like the convenience of having a curriculum like that to make everything feel "complete", I think Austin will be better served in the long run by spending more energy on oral narration. When we pick up written narration next year, I will also combine it with the techniques he has already learned from using the IEW program. And then, when he is older, we will devote more time to essays and other writing.

3. I really want to continue to refine my understanding of CM's philosophies, how they mesh with RDI, and how to make them applicable to learning within our own home. I have seen some great strides with everyone this year, which is great! But I need more understanding of why I'm changing things, so that I have a firm foundation when things don't seem to be working, or when I start to get nervous about deviating from a more traditional scope and sequence.

4. I'm not going to test Austin this year with the ITBS. He doesn't have to be tested this year according to the state laws, but I planned to do so anyway. I am afraid that will just cause more anxiety for him and for me as well. Riley has to be tested according to the state law, so I will test her on her own.

5. Reece will be finishing the Calvert phonics readers this week! I need to re-read the pertinent sections of How to Teach a Child to Read with Children's Books, so I know what I'm supposed to do next! :) It's sort of exciting to be focusing on teaching her to read in a relational way, with our focus being on shared experiences and getting meaning from what she's reading. It's also a little nerve-wracking because it's not "do this lesson, check off the box, and move on to the next lesson". It's dynamic. RDI encourages dynamic. Dynamic, in this sort of thing, scares me to death! LOL

Fall 2008:

1. Austin will start transitioning into written narration. I found Fifty Famous Stories Retold, which is a Year 1 book. I think I will use the stories in this book as the basis for introducing written narration. I am not yet sure exactly how this process works, so I will be focusing on learning more about that over the next several months.

2. I need to decide if I will have Reece go through First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level1-2. It is one curriculum that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but as I embrace the Charlotte Mason philosophy, I find that my enthusiasm for early grammar is waning. I have especially seen Austin struggle to apply the definitions and lists we worked on for 2 years, and wonder what we spent all of that time doing it for. FLL also includes narration, copywork, and poetry memorization... but I can incorporate all of those things without the grammar focus.

As part of this one (really a grammar focus), I need to decide if I want to worry about Riley finishing FLL3 on time and start FLL4, or if I will be OK with taking it more slowly. I am leaning towards this mindset already, as I've moved her to doing FLL3 only 2 days a week rather than the scheduled 3 days.

Austin is already on a more CM pathway in grammar. He is using Junior Analytical Grammar at a very slow pace, as recommended by Simply Charlotte Mason. He is doing much better with this program than he ever has before (and he has used ALOT of grammar programs in his short life lol). Is this because he is developmentally ready for it finally? Was all that time spent in grammar frustration land worth it?

3. I also need to decide if I want to continue to have Riley and Austin together with all of their lessons, or if I want to separate them out for everything. There has been quite a problem with competition between them. I need to decide if I want to focus on it as a character issue, or if I wish to remove the problem altogether in order to let Austin develop a sense of competence as a learner without the pressure of a younger, more advanced sibling on his heels.

Lots of stuff to think about, none of which have cut and dried easy answers. Or at least I haven't come to those answers yet in my beginning study of CM's philosophy.

I'm sure there are more things, but I'm forgetting them right now! If I can recall them later, I will come back and add them in! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weekly Review: 2/18-2/22

This was one of those weeks that doesn't feel like it could only have been ONE week! :) As you may have been able to surmise from my blog entries, this was one heck of a week! Again, we did not get as much of our school work done as I had planned. The weather was lovely until the end of the week, and the kids spent so much time outside! This is the hardest part of this time of year --- once it gets nice out, I have a hard time keeping the kids inside. I think the next warm day, I will get outside and clean our patio furniture. That way we can take our work outdoors, and have the best of both worlds!

We did get our science done again. The kids are enjoying the study of the human body! We added the digestive system this week. Also, we watched the Lunar Eclipse on Wednesday night, and sort of jump-started the astronomy study we will be doing after we're done with the human body. Reece really got into it, too. It's great to see her curiosity growing, and to see her developing a desire to be a part of what we are doing!

Our new lunch-time read-aloud is the first book of The Spiderwick Chronicles. We want to see this movie in the theater, and I like to have the book read when we can. I am hoping to have at least the first book finished, and perhaps the second (they are very short chapter books), and maybe surprise the kids with seeing the movie on Friday.

Yesterday we had an RDI appointment to discuss the first 2 parts of the RDA. It was a good meeting, I think. Our consultant-in-training (CIT) wanted to show us the great things we did, and the ways we have changed our interactions with Reece. At one point she stopped the video segment and said, "Did you see what you just did there?" ROFL, um, no! She said it is becoming second-nature to me. I wish I agreed with her. It still doesn't seem natural at all. It's more like I sort of accidentally did the right thing! I still have to spend so much time reading and focusing on what I am supposed to be saying (or not saying)! It's like I have to study RDI as much as I can, hoping to make it become part of me.

Riley will be singing with her choir for the evening service tomorrow night. I will be spending the day getting caught up on laundry, and preparing for next week's lessons! Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The kids and I made our trip to the grocery store a bit early today. I had to swing by the post office to mail a little something to my mother for her birthday, and I decided that we would conserve gas by making the grocery store run.

So we're nearly done with our trip, and we're in the frozen foods aisle. I ask Austin if we have any corn or peas and, of course, the answer is no. I'm not sure if I've mentioned before that he loves to eat frozen veggies right out of the freezer. And he's introduced Reece to it, too, and she loves it. So my frozen veggies are rarely able to be heated up to serve with meals, because they eat them as frozen snacks. He grabs some and throws them in the buggy.

We meander down the aisle to get daddy some Hot Pockets for his lunches at work. And while we're all choosing which kind to get him, and older lady stops near us and says:

"I just wanted to tell you that you are a wonderful mom! The way you deal with your children. And the way you are all together."

I'm just standing there like I don't speak English.

She then looks at the kids and says, "You all have a truly wonderful mother!"

I finally regained the ability to speak and said, "Thank you very much. I really appreciate the encouragement!"

That was so nice! I really needed it. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A 3 Motrin Day?

Riley: "Can I have some ice cream?"

Mom: "Sure, when you come inside."

Riley: "Why can't I have some now?"

Mom: "Now you will have none."

Riley: "Why can't I have some?"

Mom: "Because I've spoken to you over the last 3 weeks about not talking back to adults."

Riley: "I don't think I'm talking back!" (said with a completely innocent look on her face)

Mom walks away and takes a Motrin.

15 minutes later, Mom hears the wind really kick up and looks out back for the kids. Can't find Reece.

Mom: "Austin, do you see Reece?"

Austin: "She's right over there, climbing the tree." (pointing to Reece)

Mom: "OK, just make sure she doesn't blow away now!" (chuckling)

Austin: "OK, I will." (runs over, grabs Reece out of the tree, and holds her right next to him.)

Mom goes for another motrin.

It's only 2:30. Will this be a 3 motrin day?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Go Fish

Riley is at dance class, and Austin's enjoying his time alone with Reece. He volunteered to play Go Fish with her with her new Littlest Pet Shop game she got for Valentine's Day. He's having to exhibit a good deal of patience!

Austin: Do you have a 2?

Reece: No, but I have a 5!

Austin: Don't tell me what you have.

Reece: But you asked me!

Austin: I was asking because it's part of the game. Now it's your turn.

Reece: Do you have a 2?

Austin: You just said you don't have a 2!

Reece: I don't have a 2! But you have a 2.

Austin: OK, my turn. Do you have a 3?

Reece: I TOLD you! I have a 5!

Somehow, they have managed to play the whole game! But I'm laughing my head off in the other room! I wish I could manage to get the video camera on in there without them being aware of it! Only with Reece would Austin exhibit such incredible patience, understanding, and sort-of flexibility! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A CM/AO story

Austin was eating fries as part of his lunch yesterday. We taught him how to use the Fry Daddy (a small deep fryer) last week and he is excited and proud of himself for being able to use such a "grown-up" appliance. Such a task would not have been possible a year ago, because he would not have been able to maintain his attention on the various details that using a hot oil appliance require.

Anyway, while he was eating his fries, he came into where I was working on lessons for next week and said, "Mom we have Sir Walter Raleigh to thank for these french fries!" I sort of chuckled and agreed with him. I noticed dh's confused expression and said to Austin, "Daddy looks confused!"

Austin began, "Sir Walter Raleigh was a great explorer, but he didn't have much luck in keeping a colony going in America. Really it was Virginia, you know, where the Chesapeake Bay is?" Austin waited for daddy to confirm with a nod that he understood what Austin was talking about, then he went on. "But when Sir Walter Raleigh went back to England he took 2 things with him: tobacco, and potatoes! And that's how they probably got to France and we have french fries today."

Everything except for the part about the potato going to France so they could make them into french fries came from one of our history readings from the week before last: This Country of Ours, Chapter 12, About Sir Walter Raleigh's Adventures in the Golden West.

This is the stuff of dreams for this homeschooling mom! It makes me so happy to see him taking the stories we are reading and getting meaning from them. That is something that I have been waiting so long for him to start developing! Without him getting meaning from what he reads or from what I read to him, our lessons are really very empty. I feel strongly that our switch to a CM philosophy, along with the progress we have made in RDI, have allowed him to construct meaning and see the importance of understanding what you are reading. It has allowed him to not be worried about being 'right or wrong'. He doesn't have to spend his energy and focus trying to figure out dates, names, and details and instead he can focus on the story and the meaning behind it. And in the process, he is recalling the dates, names, and details that eluded him before!
I really needed to have this confirmation of the value of this new educational path. It is the time of year when my brain naturally starts thinking about the new school year coming in August, even though we probably won't be finished with Year 3 of Ambleside until September at the earliest (we began it in October 2007). I was starting to wonder if we should start over with history using the Story of the World books which I own and used, unsuccessfully, when Austin was in 1st grade. I know that he would be able to get so much out of them now, and Reece will be a 1st grader next year and that is the target audience. I would still use the CM philosophy, just not the AO curriculum.

I kept coming back in my head to AO, and the notion of "Don't try to fix something that ain't broken!" I tend to do that too much, and experience has shown me that changing it never, ever helps. In fact, since I have found something that seems to be working so well, I really need to just stick with it and let it continue to work! After all, if it's working this well now, how much better will it be when we've used it longer and we're all more comfortable with the methods and expectations?! Having Austin come to me like he did really served to reinforce all of those thoughts.

I decided to start a list of reasons I am using CM and AO in particular, that way I can read them and reinforce what I know in times when I'm feeling unsettled. I also actually found a post I wrote on the Ambleside yahoogroup to a mom with a son who is 11 and has Aspergers trying to encourage her. I cut and pasted that to my list as well, to remind me when I need encouraging! I also included reasons on my list why CM/AO is a good choice for Riley as well, even though I know she would be quite capable of managing a WTM-inspired classical approach. CM/AO is not a substandard education in the least!!

I may have to revisit this topic another day. There are so many things I'm trying to express but my brain is not cooperating. Reece was up again last night, despite having had melatonin before bed. I just do not think well when I'm moderately sleep-deprived! LOL If I've not been clear, leave a comment and I will try to address it when my brain is able to work again. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008


My home has been in dire need of decluttering for quite a while. There never seems to be enough time to do this, though. I'm sure you know what I mean! A few months ago the kids were out of the house with daddy for a few hours and I began the decluttering with the DVDs and videos. Those have sat in black garbage bags in our master bedroom since then. Lovely, huh?

So today, it was 68 degrees outside which meant the kids were outside and enjoying themselves. And dh was home in the afternoon so he could load up anything I could part with and take it to Goodwill! When might this happen again?

I attacked the bookcases with a vengeance. I decluttered by getting rid of most of the twaddle. Charlotte Mason and I probably have a somewhat different definition of twaddle, because Dr. Suess, and most of the Angelina Ballerina are staying on for a few more years. But the Magic Tree House, Franklin series, and others like those are now gone. It doesn't mean that Reece won't read those one day. It just means they aren't worth taking up space on my limited bookshelf space. She will have to check them out from the library! The Twilight series and my Janet Evanovich books will remain. Mommy is allowed her twaddle. LOL

I also made a big pile of books to sell at the next curriculum sale I can find. I am getting rid of things that just don't mesh with our philosophy of education any longer. I hope to get some money from these books that will help pay for next year's books! :)

Russ and Austin loaded up the truck, and took it all to Goodwill for me. The bookshelves look so nice, and the floor around them is all cleared up (except for the box of books that I wish to sell). And I feel like I've been very productive today. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Week in Review: 2/11-15

Hmm, this is bound to be an interesting weekly review. You see, somewhere between Tuesday night and Thursday morning, my brain stopped working. No new information would be processed. No new lessons would be taught. It is a vast wasteland of nothingness. We had done 5 nonstop weeks of full schedule school, and my brain had had enough! :)

I had already planned to spread out this week of our Ambleside schedule into two weeks, and that's a good thing. We got the history reading done for this week, and most of the literature. We also got everything done that I had planned for science, because the kids asked today if they could color and place the body parts they were supposed to do yesterday (gall bladder, pancreas, and spleen --- how exciting! LOL). Reading and math were done well. Of course, Reece finished her handwriting workbook and will begin simple copywork on Monday. I did not finish our Ambleside literature readings, but we did finish listening to the first Fairy-Tale Detectives book on CD.

So this week will go down in history as one of those where it didn't all get done, but that doesn't mean we are terrible homeschoolers or that we failed. It may mean that I was a bit lazy this week, but that isn't the end of the world either! We'll just pick ourselves back up next week, a little more rested, and start where we left off.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day party

Today we attended a party with a new homeschool group. I had been to their mom's meeting a few weeks ago and enjoyed the company of the moms. So I decided to take the kids to this party to meet the other children. I had mentioned to the moms at the meeting that Austin and Reece have autism spectrum disorders, but didn't really elaborate. I knew my kids would be some of the oldest, and I was right. It didn't go all that badly.

The hardest part was just walking into the new place, with the new faces. Reece immediately lost it and started crying, "This is not a party!" I'm not sure what she meant by that, or what she was expecting. She was so excited last night about the party and meeting new people. I stayed with her and helped her go to the various stations that were set up for activities. She did not interact with any of the other children, though a few of them did try to interact with her.

Austin was in charge of picture-taking, until my battery died. It kept him busy! Here are a few samples of the shots he got.

The last station Reece went to was the Valentine bag/box decorating station. She seemed to have really relaxed by the time she was at this station. And she loves to be creative.
Reece decorated 2 cookies, and made a heart-shaped peanut butter sandwich for lunch.
Austin's friend D was at this party. He's not a homeschooler (yet, lol) but today was early release day and his mom checked him out of school early so she wouldn't have to leave in the middle of the party. Austin was glad to see him. They've been friends for about 18 months, being great ballplayers together. There was also another boy their age, which was nice. They set up the lunch for the younger kids, then went outside to play basketball.
Riley's friend that she knows wasn't at the party today, and most of the girls were around Reece's age. So after Riley went through all the stations, she looked after our friends' toddler. She helped her make her sandwich, and followed her around while she was busy 'being two'. Riley was very helpful!
Riley decorated a card for daddy at the card-making station!

I gave the kids the day off from school as their Valentine's Day present... they didn't know until this morning. Honestly, I was such a nervous wreck over the party today, I couldn't have focused on school if I wanted to. Austin was a little aggravated with me, because he got up and started his work and I didn't know he was up to tell him that he didn't have school today! LOL Ooops! He's ahead for tomorrow then, I guess! :)

Hope your Valentine's Day is a love-ly one!

Edited to add: I found out what it meant by "This is not a party!" Apparently a party must have a band and a stage! She's such a musician's daughter!! LOL

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reece finished her handwriting workbook

Today, Reece noticed she only had one more page of her handwriting workbook to complete, and she didn't want to wait until tomorrow to finish it! Here she is putting the finishing touch on her last sentence:

She wanted to show that she can read the sentences that she is writing, "Fish swim." and "I can write."
She is a very proud girl, and looking so grown up! :)
Her first completed book of Kindergarten! Way to go, Reece!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bi-polar choir experience

Reece went to her choir class last night, after having last Sunday off for the Super Bowl. She was excited to go. When we arrived a few minutes late (this church's campus is huge... it took me 8 minutes to walk from Riley's building to Reece's! lOL), she was concerned she would miss the craft time. She went right over to join a table of children, and started to color. I let her handle everything with the teachers on her own.

The 2nd craft was a foam heart-shaped kit like you would get from Oriental Trading. The teachers set it all out and told the kids to go do it. Reece was completely confused, so I did step in to guide her on that part. Once she figured out what she was doing, I backed off again.

There was some extra time before we went to the other room to sing, and the kids played with wooden blocks. Reece loves that, and she readily joined the other 12 children near the small box of blocks. Can you see where I'm going with this? I look up to find her in the corner crying. Apparently, she doesn't understand the concept of "grab a huge handful of blocks before the other 12 children do it and there are no blocks left". So I went over and sat with her, while we tried to solve this together. I offered up that we could ask if anyone would share. The first girl we asked said, "NO!" Thanks, kid. The little girl on the other side of Reece offered a few blocks, and Reece built a small house. She wanted a roof, but she didn't have the right piece. I suggested that we could trade one of our pieces with someone else. She was still so upset at the lack of blocks, that this didn't work. The little girl who had shared the blocks earlier offered to trade for Reece, but by that time, it was time to go to the other room for singing.

I had given Reece a warning that we would be leaving in a few minutes, but the block experience through her for a loop. She started crying again. One of the teachers told me it would be OK if I wanted to stay behind and let Reece play with the blocks, but that's not a trend I would like to be established. She would be very happy to let the kids all leave so she can have all the toys to herself. That's not the point of this little experiment!

I walked her into the other room with her class and she sat down in the front row. I thought to myself, "OK, all is good." I was wrong. The teacher started asking the kids if they had been good boys and girls and did they have a good week, etc. Reece must have thought this was a personal question, because the next time I look over (Her teacher was asking me a question about handling the meltdowns and how I wanted that to be handled), she is lying in the floor crying. The kids are all looking at her and looking at me.

I moved her to the back of the room, and asked her what's wrong. "The teacher doesn't like me. She didn't let me talk." ::sigh:: I tried to explain to her that the teacher cannot talk to every child in the room, because there are too many children (more than 30). I tried to get her to go back and sing the songs, but she was still crying, this time saying, "I can't sing. I don't know the songs! I can't do it." By this time, I have to admit that my patience was exhausted. I told her probably not the most RDI-friendly, "If you are going to keep crying, we're going to go home." She insisted she didn't want to go home. This went on for a few more minutes, and the next song came on and the teachers were handing out the instruments. She brightened and rejoined the class.

After that point, she was a different child. She was happy, and actively participating in the singing, and the instrument playing/sharing, and the music note/rest reading. There were only 2 things I had to get involved in: she was banging her rhythm sticks on the ground after the teacher said not to, and she was getting too wound up during the bean bag passing song.

Singing time was over and we went back to the other classroom to prepare to go home. I took this time to finish answering her teacher's question about my desires for handling Reece. She asked if I wanted them to indulge her to keep her happy. I told them most definitely not. She needs to learn the rules of the classroom and be expected to keep them as they would expect another child of her age. That's the whole reason I'm in the classroom... to provide the extra scaffolding and framing of the classroom activities while she gets used to them. If I felt that she wasn't capable of handling this situation, then I wouldn't even try to have her participate. She needs a little extra assistance and time in understanding the classroom procedures. I don't want her to think that she can control the teachers and classmates.

It was time to go and Reece was trying to get the blocks back out. Her teacher went over to her and told her it was time to go, but they would have the blocks back in the classroom next week for her to play with. She was resistant, but the teacher was firm. Reece then handed her sucker stick to the teacher and said, "I'm done." The teacher told her she can throw it in the trash. Reece replied, "No, you do it." The teacher looked at me, then looked back at Reece and said, "Nope, you can do it! The trash can is right behind you." Reece took care of it herself. I smiled at the teacher and said, "Yep, that's the way to do it."

All in all, I think Reece is going to really do well in choir as soon as she's been a few weeks in a row. If not, then we'll try again in the fall. The kids her age will sing in April, and I'm not sure if Reece will be able to handle that. I spoke with the teacher about it, and we decided that we'll have her go through the dress rehearsal right before the program, and if she gets overwhelmed at any point, we'll just sit this performance out. We have plenty of time before then, though.

We got home from choir and my brain shut down. LOL Having to help the kids handle back-to-back situations is so draining. We have another new big situation coming this week: a Valentine party with a new homeschool group we are considering joining. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Two reasons to celebrate!

Today, Austin attended a birthday party for one of his friends. It was a laser tag birthday party, which he has never been to before. This is a friend he has known his entire life... we met the friend's big brother when he and Austin were a year old. We have been to MANY, MANY of their birthday parties. Unfortunately, Austin has had a meltdown at just about all of their parties. For some reason, they keep on inviting him. It's such a blessing to have kind, understanding, and non-judgmental friends!

This morning, Russ and I spoke to Austin at length about attitudes at birthday parties, making sure that we are thinking of the birthday person and how to make the day as special as possible for him. We also discussed in a very declarative manner how things can be frustrating and overwhelming, but how we can usually work through them without causing a scene. We also talked about subtle exit strategies. There is nothing new with this discussion. We have it before every party or event.

Things didn't start out well... Atlanta traffic made us 15 minutes late, despite having left 30 minutes before the time we were supposed to arrive, and our destination was a mere 13 miles away (Yeah, 45 minutes to go 13 miles. Don't you wish you lived in metro Atlanta??). Austin cannot STAND being late. It is one thing that will drive him to a meltdown faster than anything. Today, I tried something a bit new, something that I read in a CM article about tantrums (will try to get the link). As soon as I recognized that we were going to be late, and that he was recognizing that we were going to be late... I distracted him. I talked a little bit about being late and how it frustrates me. I then turned it to other things that frustrate me, and how I work through things that frustrate me. Austin told me something he likes to say to himself when he gets frustrated, and so I took that as a chance to talk to him about how 'positive self talk' really has helped me recently. We arrived 15 minutes late, without a meltdown.

We got into the laser tag place, and this was Sensory Overload USA. It was LOUD. There were kids everywhere. It was fast-paced, lots of verbal instructions that were difficult to hear over the LOUD music. Lots of people Austin didn't know --- in fact, he only knew the birthday boy and his big brother. I silently said a quick prayer, and he went in for the first 'mission'. I trust the birthday boy's dad completely with Austin. He has always been understanding and kind to Austin, and genuinely interested in the best ways to help Austin through difficult times. I sat in the waiting area, wishing I had earplugs. LOL

The first game ended, and Austin landed in 31st place. Not a stellar performance, but not bad for a first-timer! It was time for the 2nd game, and the kids all went in, and came right back out. There was a computer problem and all of the kids had to re-register at the main desk. I could see Austin was terribly confused, and there were 4-5 different people telling him what to do. He was getting flustered (I know the signs lol). I just sat back and watched, not wanting to jump in prematurely. He is very sensitive lately to being treated like a 'kid'. He was telling the two brothers something I couldn't understand, when the bigger brother who is Austin's age, took Austin by the hand and said, "Just get in line." Austin did, sort of looked around a bit, caught my eye, and shrugged with a sort of grin on his face. I chuckled, and shrugged back at him with a grin on my face. Everything was fine. The 2nd game ended and this time Austin was 9th. He was pleased with his improvement.

It was time to open the presents and have cake and snacks. Austin did very well, though I could tell he was beyond overwhelmed at this point. We made a quick exit when the gift-opening was over, which we had to do anyway because tonight was respite. We spent the ride home (only 30 minutes this time lol) encoding this great experience and spotlighting Austin's accomplishments in such a wild situation. It was fantastic!

So today, we have two reasons to celebrate: a good friend is TEN years old; and Austin got through his party without having a meltdown! :)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Weekly review: 2/4-2/8

There is so much I want to share about our schooling these days, I am having a hard time sorting through it all in my head. It really shows me how much brainwork is involved in the process of narration! :)

We had a busy day being gone a good chunk of it for RDA2 for Austin and Reece, so for today I will just give the basics of our week, plus one detail I am excited to share! We are working on Week 13 of Year 3 in the Ambleside Online curriculum. I chose not to switch our nature study or composer focus yet, because there were still a few things I wanted the children to read or experience.

Reading/Literature: Riley finished The Dragon of Lonely Island, and declared it one of her most favorite books ever! Of course, she usually declares this of every book she reads, but it's still neat to see the excitement in her eyes, and to watch her fuss when I try to put the book back on my school shelves. She has to take it to bed with her and re-read her favorite parts! She started Understood Betsy today, which Tammy has recommended several times. I will read it as well. Austin finished The Door in the Wall, and he said he liked it also. We talked a little bit about it today over lunch, while Reece had her RDA. He doesn't get as excited over stories as Riley does, but he never complains about reading. His next book was supposed to be Farmer Boy, but my Rainbow Resources order came today with The Princess and Curdie in it, which HE requested when he finished The Princess and the Goblin. So I think I'll make a quick substition! Reece read just one of the Calvert readers... this one was a bit tricky for her, and I want her to have positive episodic memories surrounding reading, so we read it 4 times this week. By yesterday, she was reading it smoothly! On Friday, I always let her choose a book from her basket of completed books, and she chooses the book "Jam" everytime! I think next week, I'll ask her to pick Jam PLUS another book... we are ALL quite tired of hearing this little 8 page story about cats getting into the jam. :)

Read-Aloud: Nearly finished with the Fairy-Tale Detectives and enjoying it very much! We'll have to see about reading/listening to the others in this series soon!

Math: Austin completed the math lesson involving dividing 4 digits by 2 digits, and wrapped it up with a 100% on the test! The next (AND LAST, Praise the Lord!) long division lesson is "Multi-digit division" which may include 5-6 digits divided by 3 digits. I'm going to plan to sit with him and scaffold it as much as possible to ensure that he doesn't let it overwhelm him. Riley finished the 9s times tables, and is now getting ready to tackle money. This is the last chapter in her Singapore math book, and the next one came today with the Rainbow Resources order. She'll continue to work on the computer math drill to get the multiplication facts down! Reece started adding with the MUS blocks this week, but she was learning multiplication and division on the Rainbow Rock CD-rom game from Singapore Math.

Writing: This is what I was excited to share! We are starting to see some real results from using copywork/studied dictation for our spelling! I mentioned before that I was getting close to dumping it, in favor of a more traditional spelling program. I'm very glad that I didn't! Both of the kids are learning how to study not only the spelling of the words for their dictation, but also the punctuation and anything else about the passage they are working on. I am breaking their passages down to 2 sentences or so at a time, but these are detailed sentences and sometimes end up taking 1/3 of a page. I will slowly build up the requirement as they become more experienced and comfortable. It does take more time from me, because I have to sit with them while they are doing the dictation to quickly help them correct a word if they get it wrong (so it doesn't imprint incorrectly in their visual memory). But that is happening so rarely now. And it's VERY cool to see Austin reference me nonverbally after he has written a word in dictation that he has identified during copywork as one he needs to study! Amazing progress! Riley makes up songs to help her study her words. :)

Grammar: Austin's still recognizing and diagramming prepositional phrases and finding it to be easier than the other things we have done. Riley is diagramming predicate nominatives.

Science: This week was the respiratory system and we added the lungs to our body diagrams. We are enjoying this study very much!

History: This week was all about Sir Walter Raleigh and early colonization in America. They really had it rough!

Spanish (Austin): Austin's going to review lessons and vocabulary from La Clase Divertida 1, a curriculum we went through when he was 6. There are 15 lessons total, which he will move through quickly. Then he will review the 15 lessons from La Clase Divertida 2, which he completed when he was 9. When that is done, I will purchase for him La Clase Divertida 3! When he is done with that, Austin will become Reece's spanish teacher and he will take her through the La Clase Divertida series! :) I expect that process to take him through until he is in high school and ready for Spanish for high school credit. ACK!

French (Riley): I ordered First Start French for Riley, but it hasn't arrived yet. While we wait, I printed out the worksheets from her French CD-rom and she has been using her French-English dictionary for anything she can't remember. So far, she's only needed to use it once.

I think that's about it! There is much more I want to blog about the connections I see between RDI and CM, including an article from ChildLightUSA which discusses the educational theories of Lev Vygotsky in the framework of a CM education. Vygotsky's work is what much of RDI is also based upon! It's so amazing to see how they all blend in together!

I will try to get my thoughts on that topic together and blog about it as soon as I can! Have a lovely week, friends!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


This was on Jan's blog today, and it looks like alot of fun! :)

Saw this on Nichole's blog and decided to jump in. If you want to play too, leave a comment so I can come read yours.

Two names you go by
Mom & "Red-hot-smokin-wife" (couldn't resist, honey!)

Two things you are wearing right now
A warm sweater & warm socks

Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship
Unconditional Love & Trust

Two of your favorite things to do
Go to the movies & Go to the bookstore

Two things you want very badly at the moment
Candy & Pibb

Two pets you have or have had
Casey (Cocker Spaniel when I was a teenager) & Bubba (stray kitty we found on our honeymoon and kept until Austin was a year old)

Two things you did last night
Worked out at home & went to the grocery store

Two people you think will fill this out
Lisaquing & ????? (surprise me!)

Two things you ate today
Salad & pretzels

Two people you last talked to
Sherry & my hubby

Two things you're doing tomorrow
Taking Austin and Reece to RDA2 & exercising

Two longest car rides
Rapid City, SD to Quincy, IL & Tulsa, OK to Columbia, SC

Two favorite holidays
4th of July & Easter

Two favorite beverages
Pibb & Mountain Dew

Two people no longer alive who you'd like to talk to
My husband's father & the person who was the first in my family to come to America

*** Edited to add these great ones from Cathy Z's blog:

1. Name your two favorite scrapbooking topics:
Kids' activities & vacations

2. Where are the two best places you’ve been to?
St. George Island, Florida & WALT DISNEY WORLD!!!!

3. Name two things you do every day:
Check email & read to my children

4. Tell us two things that pretty much everyone knows about you:
I love pirates & I love the Twilight books

5. Tell us two things that everyone DOESN’T know about you:
I was a heavy metal, headbanging, bad-girl in high school & I love doing taxes

6. Tell us two things that got you into the hobby of scrapping:
My mom became a Creative Memories Consultant & I got my friends interested in it

7. Tell us two things that you want to accomplish in the next six months:
Learn as much as I can about the CM philosophy & learn as much as I can about implementing RDI

8. Name your two favorite scrapping tools:
12 inch Fiskars cutter & Crop a dile (once I figure out how to use it)

9. Name your two favorite sources of scrapping inspiration:
Premade scrapping kits (lol) & magazines

10. How has your scrapping changed since you started?
I've switched to using 12x12 papers instead of Creative Memories albums

11. What scrapbooking project have you yet to try but would love to?
Complete a digital album and have it printed out and bound

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Math with Riley

Here is what it is like to do a math problem with Riley. :)

Riley: There were 459 boys and 462 girls on a field. What kind of field, mom? It couldn't be a baseball field, there wouldn't be enough room for all of those kids. Maybe a football field or a soccer field.

Mom: I don't know what kind of field, Riley. It really doesn't matter. Back to the problem, please.

Riley: They were arranged into 9 lines. Wow, I bet that was hard. That's alot of kids. I bet it took a really long time. Do you think it was teachers putting them in the lines, or their parents?

Mom: I don't know, Riley. (Mom rubs her temples and thanks God that there are only 7 problems in this assignment. Singapore math is the best!). Maybe you should just focus on solving the actual math problem?

Riley: How many children are in each line? Oh yeah! I'm right on it! OK, I'm going find the total number of children on the field. I'm going to say it's a football field! Like from the super bowl.

Mom: Yes, that's a good start for the problem. (Mom wants chocolate really bad)

Riley: OK, now I divide by 9 to find out how many children were in each line. What time are we going swimming today?

Mom: Not until your math is done.

Riley: OH! Ok, the answer is _____. That was pretty easy. I'm getting used to the two step problems now! I remember when they used to be very hard, but now they are easy to me! Why are you looking at me like that, Mom? Do you feel OK?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Notes from RDA1

Friday was RDA1 for Austin and Reece. It is the first part of the Relationship Development Assessment, and is standardized. There are 10 activities (I believe), and we work it out so that the child works with one parent for 10-15 minutes, then the other parent for the remainder (a little more than an hour). This is our 2nd time through the RDA process, so this time my dh would be the parent to do the majority of the work with the kids. He took the afternoon off, and we scheduled both children back-t0-back, which was convenient but also really exhausting for daddy and children.

Reece started, and I went back with her. I thought it went very well, and I can't wait to hear what our consultant thought about it, too. She really seemed to want to be with me, and accepted direction and changes much better than she did during the last RDA. Dh said she only had one meltdown with him and it lasted a matter of minutes.

While Reece and Daddy were together, I took Austin to get some lunch. Then we came back and he played with his PSP for awhile. I wanted to get his focus back from the screen so we read some Sports Illustrated together. By the time it was Austin's turn, he had been hanging out in the waiting room for a good hour. And he was wired.

I didn't feel like my part of the RDA with Austin went as well as it did last time, or as well as it would have had he not been sitting for so long. He was very excited and, since he is so strong, he was a bit rough with me. I decided that we needed some sensory integration, and FAST! So we did some hiding under the bean bags with mom laying on top, and then we did some leap frogging around the room using the bean bags as lilipads. I guess it worked, because when I spoke with dh after Austin's RDA was over, he said it went really well.

This week we have RDA2, again scheduled on the same day. It's not the best for the kids, but the drive is so far to our consultant, with gas so expensive, we have to conserve time and money. This time it's just the consultant with child, so I have to just find something to do with the other child while we wait. Riley will again be at a playdate with a friend! :)

I probably won't have an update of RDA2, unless our consultant has something cute to share!

Yep, it figures!

I was pretty sure something like this was going to happen.

I spent all week on that last post, really making sure it doesn't sound like I'm boasting in myself or anything. I really wanted to share the joy that's been going on this last month. I get it just the way I want it, click "Publish Post", and then....

... we have a day like today. A day when I want to search online for all the private schools in our area that will accept children with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism. Well, mostly just Aspergers since that particular child is the one who is driving me nuts.

So lest my last post left you thinking that I've become some sort of homeschooling supermom in the Lord, rest assured that I'm still the regular Niffercoo. The one who is tired of waking up on a Monday morning to find that everything about long division with double digit divisors has once AGAIN left the brain of my oldest child. The one who is tired of listening to him have a temper tantrum because he's as frustrated as I am that the long division with double digit divisors has once AGAIN left his brain. And the one that is getting extremely fed up with the way he is treating his sister, just because she learns things faster than he does and retains it. And, last but not least, the one who is tired of the things that are coming out of his mouth these days because he is a preteen and thinks he needs to sound 'cool'.

This, too, shall pass. I am trusting in the Lord that He will give me whatever it takes to get through long division. And sibling rivalry. And puberty.

I definitely don't have the strength for this on my own!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Something important you should know

There have been a couple of comments in response to posts lately that I sound different (in a good way, I'm going to assume! lol). I've been thinking about these comments, and I do agree. I have felt different. I don't know if it's been noticeable to my husband or to my children, but I hope so. I do know that it's felt very different inside me.

Now, there is something important that I want everyone to know: I am not doing this alone. The only explanation for what you are seeing/reading and what I am feeling is God.

For the first time in more than 2 years, I want to be around other people and I want my kids to be around other people. I still have concerns about how the children's behavior may be judged, but I feel strong enough to handle that. Not strong in myself, but God gives me the strength. For the first time in almost 6 years, I feel confident about the direction our homeschool is taking. If the children need something academically or otherwise in order to fulfill the purpose God has planned for them, He will guide me toward it. I am trusting God.

"Am trusting" is the key here. There have been a few times over the last couple of weeks where I could feel the self-doubt creeping in, the negative thoughts coming up, feeling the overwhelming pressure starting to take over. But I kept trusting... it's in the present tense. I couldn't decide in early January to trust in God and be done with it. I have to actively trust Him, and keep trusting Him every single day. Some days, I've had to trust Him every few minutes! :)

So if you're noticing difference in me, it's because I am trusting God. I am trusting that God has good things planned for me and my family. I am trusting that God will direct my paths as long as I seek His will. God is faithful, even though I was angry with Him. God is faithful, even though I didn't talk to Him for a very long time. God is faithful, even when I didn't understand anything and questioned Him all the time.

For the first time in more than 2 years, I want to read the Word, talk to God, and study my Bible. I want my children to pray before dinner, and I want to hear them talking about God and asking me questions about God. For the first time in more than 2 years, I feel like He is near to me again and I am near to Him! It's a very good feeling!

The thing that has had me working on this post all week is the fact that, to me, it sounds like I'm boasting. If, in my excitement to share the huge differences that I'm feeling within me, I sound like I'm boasting, please be assured that I am not. None of this is my own doing at all. I am just not that strong! LOL I've tried to do all of this under my own strength over the last couple of years, and it's impossible. And I consider myself a fairly strong and determined person. If you've noticed a change in me, you have to understand that it's the power of God!

I'm going to go ahead and send this, praying it comes across the way I am wanting it to come across! I nearly didn't post it at all because the last couple of days I've felt much less confident and quite nervous as we approached the RDA which started yesterday. I thought that maybe it would be a lie to post everything that I said above, since I'm not feeling quite as peaceful as I had when I started writing it. But I decided that it's OK. God is still here helping me through the performance anxiety of having to be assessed on tape with my children! And when I've been nervous or anxious, it has given me extra time to practice TRUSTing in Him. So here goes...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Week in Review: 1/28-2/1

This week we completed Week 12 in the Year 3 plan from Ambleside Online. This ends the first trimester in this plan, and next week we'll begin the 2nd trimester which means a shift in our poet, artist, composer, and nature study focus. I haven't fully implemented poet/composter/artist/ nature study in our switch to a Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling, but that's OK. The composer for the first trimester was Mozart, the artist was daVinci, and the nature study topic was mammals. The poet was William Blake. We are very familiar with all of the above, except William Blake, so I just played some music and read a couple of good books about those individuals, and had a poster up about mammals. The 2nd semester's composer is Handel, artist is Rembrandt, and nature study is birds. The poets are 2 individuals I've not heard of nor can I find anything at the library from either of them. I will look into the resources on the AO website, and if I don't care for it, I'll just go back and focus on William Blake since the poor man got pushed aside.

Also, as part of the end of the first trimester, the children finished reading The Princess and the Goblin. They really enjoyed this story, and Austin asked if there is a sequel. (This could be a sign that either he really loved the characters, story, and writing... or it could show that we read waaaaay too many books that are part of a series! LOL) There is indeed a sequel, but not at our library, so I will order it from amazon the next time I place an order.

I am having Austin and Riley read the assigned reading from AO wherever they can, as this was what CM intended. My main problem is that I enjoy reading aloud so much, that I miss not reading. So I have still been reading World History and American History, some of the more difficult literature selections, and art history (not included in AO but a book I really adore). Right now they read one or two of the literature books, the American Tall Tales book, and Geography (Holling C. Holling from previous AO years). I also currently assign the books listed under Free Reading this year, but as they move into doing more of their own reading from the main subject areas , I will make that list be truly free reading in the afternoons before rest time. This will take some time, but my goal is for them to be reading all of their subjects to themselves around the time I start Year 1 with Reece, which won't be for at least one year and maybe two.

Reading: Austin started reading The Door in the Wall, Riley continued the Dragon of Lonely Island, and Reece read 2 more of the Calvert early phonics readers.

Math: Austin struggled a bit with this week's division lesson, which frustrated him greatly after last week's fairly easy lesson; Riley worked on her 9s times tables; and Reece started adding with the MUS bars which she is finding incredibly easy.

History: We learned about the first English colony in North America, which was NOT Plymouth. Sir Humphrey Gilbert's name entered our vocabulary!

Science: We studied the muscular system... added the muscle pattern to our body chart.

Literature: Perseus has completed his adventures and returned home; Christian met the Interpreter in Dangerous Journey (a version of Pilgrim's Progress); and we read a fantastic story about waiting for the arrival of Jesus from Parables from Nature.

Grammar: Austin took a test on pronouns and scored a B, his first B in grammar ever! Riley started diagramming direct objects and helping verbs, and finds it so much fun!

Writing/Spelling: We seem to be hitting a groove with Copywork and Dictation! The kids are really understanding the concept of studying for their dictation and working on the words and punctuation that is tricky to them. Austin's formal writing lessons involved combining two related sentences into one by making one sentence into a phrase. This is tricky, so we'll be working on it this coming week as well. Reece is nearly done with her HWT book, but I'm taking it slowly to keep her in the zone.

Overall, I am still so thrilled with everything we are doing since we have started using AO, and particularly since I started actively TRUSTing in the Lord to guide my path with each child. I still have lots to learn and progress to make in implementing the CM philosophy, but I'm taking it step by step.Today marked 4 weeks in a row where we have actually completed everything I had planned for us all week. I think that it is honestly a first in our 6 years of homeschooling. It's not only the shorter lessons, but the fact that everything we're doing is so very interesting. The kids were asking me all week when we were going to get to hear the end of Perseus' story. I planned that for Friday to build the anticipation, and they insisted we read it this morning before we left for our RDI appointments. It was great!

I was able to purchase the entire CM original homeschooling series from a friend of a friend for only $20 --- I can't wait to read them.I know they are online at the AO website, but I really don't like reading for detail from the computer screen. ;) It seems like I've got a ton of reading to catch up on. My 888 list may not get much attention for awhile. Between RDI and CM, I am behind on 'homework' again.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend. It's a busy one for us with my parents visiting and the Super Bowl on Sunday. I'm going to finalize the post I've been working on this week, and I'll put that up tomorrow morning. Then I'll be back in a few days! :)