Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have another post I've been working on, but it's quite personal and I need to pray more about it and make sure it's exactly what I want it to say before I post it. So it's not that I've been ignoring my blog, just not ready for publishing!

What else has been going on at the BPA:

1. Reece attended both Children's Church and Children's Choir on Sunday! She did very well during both activities, and rebounded from them fairly easily.

2. I went to a meeting on Monday night for the moms of a homeschool group. A mom from Reece's dance class invited me. It was very nice, and I'm glad I went. Most of the moms had oldest children who were about 5-7! It was strange to be the experienced mom! I came home feeling quite old when I realized I'd been homeschooling longer than many of them have been parents! ;) I think we may join this group for their field trips and activities!

3. We've been pressing on with Week 12 in AO! It's going well, but I haven't been able to video the narrations like I wanted to. For some reason, this week has felt very busy so far!

4. We went bowling today at the new place near our home. The kids were given gift cards for Christmas, so we didn't have to pay for anything. We bowled two games and, despite me starting off with a strike, Austin "owned us" (in his almost teenager speak).

5. I went to the gym yesterday and had a great workout! :) Will be going again tomorrow! My goal is only 3 pounds away, and I've got 5 weeks to do it!

I'll be around again for our weekly review on Friday, but it will be later. The kids have RDA1 on Friday afternoon, so I won't be home until the evening, and probably will be completely exhausted! LOL

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lessons from writing

Having a few concerns about the lack of writing in the Ambleside Online program, I decided to add a traditional writing workbook from Evan-Moor publishing to our day. It is called Writing Fabulous Sentences and Paragraphs, Grades 4-6. We are doing it 2 days a week, alternating with our grammar program.

This is our 2nd week working in it, and Austin's assignment on Thursday was to write at least 5 sentences of his own. In case you cannot read them clearly, I will type them below:

I have a cake.
Are we there yet?
I love cake!
Do you love cake?
So, do you have a PSP?

At first glance, you might not think those are good examples of writing done by an almost 12 year old, 5th grader. And maybe they aren't, according to a public school or classical education/WTM model. Allow me to explain what isn't quite so obvious:

1. A year ago, Austin would have written every sentence beginning with the word "I". They would have read like this: I like cats. I like cars. I like math. There would have been no variation. He would have written to complete the assignment.

2. He has an example of every type of sentence that we have studied, except for the command: Declarative (1), Interrogative (2,3,5) and Exclamatory (4). This was not an explicit part of the assignment! Austin wanted to do that because he wanted to show me that he knows the types of sentences!

3. There is a sense of relation in these sentences. It's not just stating facts or repeating things he has read or heard. There is a feeling of experience sharing when I read these sentences!

4. He was terribly excited to begin that last sentence with "So,"! He pointed it out to me, and asked me if he used it correctly!

So, (hee hee) instead of being concerned that he isn't writing according to someone else's standards, I look instead at the progress he has made! He is doing well for where HE is developmentally, and he is making progress at HIS pace.

That is something to be proud of and to celebrate!

Hockey Game

We attended a local hockey game this past Monday with Spectrum, our county's autism support group. We got a group rate that included a hot dog and coke, so we decided to go for it! It is minor-league hockey, a team called the Gladiators. I knew Austin was anxious to go, but I wasn't sure what the girls would think of it.

It ended up being SO much fun and it was a really great game. I know very little about hockey besides the fact that they are trying to get the puck into the opposing team's net. But that was OK! We just watched and cheered and had a great time. I was surprised at how rough the sport of hockey is! They were slamming each other into the walls, and there was a full-on fist fight at one point!

Everyone did very well. There was only one difficult time between the 2nd and 3rd periods. The team has a game where you can purchase soft pucks to throw onto the ice from your seat, and if you get it on the circle, you win a gift card to Kroger grocery store. So it was LOUD while that was going on. And then the mascot was coming around shooting rolled-up tshirts into the seats, and it was LOUD for that. It was probably 10 minutes of nonstop LOUD and Reece just couldn't take it anymore. She was sobbing that she wanted to go home. I took her into the lobby to walk around a minute, bought a few soft pretzels for all of the kids and a bottled water to share, and that was enough to get us through the rest of the game. If we go again, I will know to take her into the lobby as soon as the 2nd period ends!

The end of the game was extremely exciting: we were down 0-2, but came back and scored 2 points at the very end to tie. We played an overtime with no score, and then there was a shoot-out, which we won. It was all very exciting! I had forgotten my camera and bought a disposable camera... but the pictures are terrible. I'm sorry I don't have anything to upload and share! It was so much fun, and I hope we can go back one day!

The girls came home and set up a pretend hockey game in our kitchen! Austin claimed he couldn't be a hockey guy AND a baseball guy! LOL I reminded him that my favorite baseball player, Tom Glavine, was drafted by both the Atlanta Braves and a professional hockey team, and he just had to decide which he wanted to play. (Austin replied, "Which one did he choose?" causing me to roll my eyes for about 5 minutes and claim him to be his father's child! LOL)

We were all quite wiped out when we got home, and Reece had a rough day and a half after it was over. But it was worth it! I think she will do better next time, especially if we take her out during that one loud part. She can handle cheering and normal crowd noise, having been going to Braves cames since she was little! But the extended noise was just too much.

Go, Gladiators! :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Week in Review: 1/21-25

Today we wrapped up Week 11 of Year 3 of Ambleside Online. I had to make the decision this week: are we going to fly through the rest of Year 3 so we can begin Year 4 in the fall? Or are we just going to keep on keeping on, starting Year 4 when we finish Year 3? I went with the 2nd option! You'll probably see why as I continue this blog post.

It seems narration is really starting to come together for everyone, especially when I read aloud. We have always read-aloud in our family, even before homeschooling! My mom has a picture of me reading to Austin when he was about 2 weeks old! The audiologist who tested Austin for Auditory Processing Disorder when he was 10 puzzled over the results of his testing. She had never seen such results, she told me. She asked if we did much reading aloud in our home? LOL Then she asked if we were a musical family? Everyone except the mama! :) The results make more sense to her! Anyway, my next focus will be on narrations from their own reading. And I would like to video narrations from history and/or literature next week! It would be fun to do this at the end of every trimester.

I don't require narrations from Reece, as Charlotte Mason did not require it from anyone under the age of 6. However, after taking history narrations from the big kids, Reece said, "You forgot me, Mommy!" So I turned my attention to her and said, "I'd love to hear your narration!" And she gave me a great narration about Queen Elizabeth I from our chapter of An Island Story. I'm still not going to require it of her, but I'm certainly not going to squelch her enthusiasm!

I'm going to make a separate post of Austin's writing lesson this week, because there is much I want to share, so look for that later on. We continued our Copywork and Dictation as the main focus of our writing and spelling using Spelling Wisdom 1. Spelling was another area I was tempted to go back to a more traditional approach, but after reading the Language Arts Scope and Sequence at AO, I decided to stick it out. The S&S recommends that a 7th or 8th grader who is still struggling with spelling should tackle a more formal program at that time, so I will wait until we're at that place. Austin is a good speller in general, and Riley is learning as she does more incidental spelling that comes in letter writing and the copywork and dictation. Reece did copywork in her HWT workbook. She is coming along with her lowercase letters.

Austin got an 80 on his math test, which is fantastic! It covered long division, multi-digit multiplication, and converting measurements using those skills. Riley worked on the 8s times tables. Reece worked some more on place value into the hundreds.

We learned about bones this week in science and placed the leg bone model on our body outlines. Next week, we'll learn about the muscular system.

We finished listening to The Tale of Despereaux at lunch, and began listening to The Fairy-Tale Detectives, Book 1 in the Sisters Grimm series. We're only 2 chapters into the story, so I can't give much detail yet, but we're enjoying it so far!

Austin finished reading The Matchlock Gun, and will be ready for a new book next week. I am leaning towards Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I'm not sure. My other option is The Door in the Wall. Riley started reading The Dragon of Lonely Island this week. Reece read just one more of her Calvert phonics readers (She had a slightly abbreviated week... we attended a hockey game on Monday that had her pretty overwhelmed all of Tuesday and part of Wednesday. More about that in another post to come!).

It probably sounds like our days are busy and somewhat crazy. That couldn't be further from the truth! Switching from WTM to Ambleside has taken so much busywork out of our days! And what we are doing is so enjoyable and the children are connecting with everything in such incredible ways! It feels like there is learning and understanding and thinking going on that I couldn't MAKE happen with the WTM. I couldn't dream of rushing through the rest of Year 3 just to start a 'new year plan' to coincide with our new school year! It just doesn't make any sense!

I hope your week has gone well, too! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A full week

No entries since Saturday? Gracious! :) Nothing is wrong, we've just had a very full week! I should have some time tomorrow afternoon or evening to update!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

RDI update January 2008

After about 6 weeks 'off' because of some technical issues involving the new RDI OS, we saw our Consultant-in-Training again this past Friday. We needed to discuss the kids' progress and our next steps. We are using money from the kids' college funds to pay for RDI, but it's about halfway gone, so it's crucial that we get the most bang for our RDI bucks. When the money is gone, we will have to become "lone ranger" RDIers (in the words of my friend, Tammy).

Our first task was to look at the objectives in the current stages for each of the kids and decide what to work on next. In this process, we realized that they have each made some significant progress and are ready to work on objectives in the next stage (Stage 3 for Austin, Stage 2 for Reece)! That was very exciting, especially for my dh, who really needs to see measurable progress to make him feel better.

Here are some examples of recent developments in the kids:

1. As mentioned before, Reece seems to have developed a healthy, age-appropriate fear of strangers. In addition, she has developed the understanding of referencing (checking in) with me when she is unsure about someone.

2. Reece wants to be around me, and her daddy, and her siblings, and her friends! I left her (and the other kids) with a friend on Friday who has a new 5 year old and 2 year old at home with her. Most of the time, Riley entertains the 5 year old and Reece does her own thing. But this time, Reece played with the 5 year old nearly the entire time, and there were no meltdowns for Miss A. When something did go wrong, Reece would ask Miss A for help. That's a really big thing because before she would just meltdown and it would take awhile for anyone to figure out what was going on. When I came back to pick the kids up, the 4 girls were playing "Ring Around a Rosy" which requires alot of co-regulation (don't pull too hard in the circle... that was the hardest part for Reece). They also had to walk very slowly because of the tiny 2 year old playing with them. And the 2 five-year-olds played "Red Light, Green Light" and Reece only had one minor meltdown because she didn't feel like the other girl was playing fair. We didn't jump in and try to solve it for them, and they worked it out together in a matter of a few minutes.

1. Seeing Austin's progress requires a little more attention to detail. He is so anxious to prove he is competent to everyone, that it's hard to keep him referencing the parent. He will reference just long enough to make sure he knows what he's doing, then he feels competent and he's done referencing! LOL He loves for people to think he's 'the man'! I'm going to have to find ways to work with him that will keep him referencing without making him feel imcompetent, which happens very easily! No problem, huh?? :)

2. Austin still gets easily frustrated when he feels incompetent, but I am started to hear more positive self-talk after the initial blowup. This is crucial for him! I think this is the beginnings of flexible thinking. This is my biggest goal for Austin... he has a motivation for relationships for the most part, but his lack of flexible thinking causes the greatest challenges.

As for me, I am feeling much more confident in my understanding and implementation of RDI. The big exception, right now, is the OS (the online Operating System that is the newest manifestation of the ever-evolving RDI program). I'm not sure how much of that relates to the fact that I'm a "paper and pencil" sort of gal. I like having a planner with a calendar where I can write things down. I like to do my lesson planning on the computer but then I printed it out. I don't like to read things online... I like to hold them, highlight them, scribble notes in the margin. My plan is to spend 30 minutes per day exploring and using the OS, in an attempt to acclimate myself to it. Hopefully, that will help!

We will be doing the RDA (Relationship Developgment Assessment) again starting in 2 weeks. This will not only help us really see where the kids are in the RDI scheme of things, but also where we as parents and guides are. In an effort to conserve some money, we will only be doing the first 2 parts of the RDA with both children. The rest of the RDA will be focused on Reece, since our master/apprentice relationship with her is more challenging. This will save us a significant amount of money, and allow us to work with our CIT for a longer time. Our CIT had to get special permission to change the RDI protocol, and I appreciate that everyone was flexible enough to allow these changes.

I know it may not seem like it in light of my recent posts about our academic stuff, but RDI remains my top priority right now, especially since our days with the CIT are numbered. The CM/AO philosophy lines up so nicely with RDI that I am able to mesh it quite well. Additionally, it doesn't take as much time out of our day, leaving us time for RDI lifestyle and objectives work!
So there's the latest on RDI, and I think I've caught everyone up on what is going on at the Black Pearl Academy!

Some encouragement for me

1. I had to take our library books back because they were due and we weren't going to have time to get to the library to check out more. I asked Austin to get his books gathered for me. He brought them in and then asked, "Could I look at them one more time before you take them back?" I said sure, and he sat down and looked at them again! It made my heart so happy! He is not a reader, though he loves stories. He tends to pick non-fiction books, like DK Eyewitness books, with lots of pictures and unconnected text. And he doesn't really sit and read like Riley does. So I was thrilled he was going to 'miss' those books.

2. Austin started a new math lesson on Friday. One thing that I have noticed in his math learning is a reflection of his lack of understanding the concept of "same, but different". When he gets to a new math lesson, he doesn't see the similarities (concept being taught bit by bit building on itself) that make MUS a strong program. So the last 4 lessons at least, I have really been declarative about how this new lesson is very much like the last one, just _____ is added. I finally saw the fruits of that labor. The lesson was dividing a single digit into a 4-digit number. He has done single digit into 2 and 3 digits, as well as (most recently) double digits into a 3 digit number. So I thought that going back to a single digit divisor should be easy for him... but you never know. We watched the lesson together as always and he sat next to me to do the first page. I didn't say anything because I wanted to see what he would do if he got confused (our last RDI objective LOL). Well... he didn't get confused! He flew right through it! And about 3 problems into it, he exclaimed, "This is just like I've done before, but with thousands instead of just hundreds!" YES YES YES!!! WOOHOO!

3. Riley declared her favorite subject to be grammar and that diagramming sentences is "the best thing ever for school"!

4. Reece is so anxious to be involved in learning with us! She will come to me wherever I am, holding her pencil, and say, "I'm ready now!" She is started to see herself as a reader, which is what I really wanted for her, and which is why I'm doing her phonics lessons in a way that she doesn't realize they are lessons! LOL She even read "Play Hard" off of Austin's shirt the other night... though I must give credit for her reading the word "play" to the Webkinz website log-in process! ;)

5. I mentioned in my review post that the kids recalled "Bloody Mary" when we started talking about "Good Queen Bess". We haven't done much history since before Christmas, so for them to remember her and that she was called "bloody" Mary and why, and that Elizabeth was in prison --- that was so exciting as a homeschool parent. Sometimes you wonder if anyone is learning anything, especially since we switched to CM/AO this year and it's a little nerve-wracking to not do as much writing.

6. The kids were totally excited about starting their human body outlines! I decided to use the more simple patterns to fill it up, but I think the kids will still get alot out of it. And we'll be reading and watching alot of educational DVDs to round it out! I just love to see them getting excited. Riley even said, "Mom thanks so much for doing science with us!" Who wouldn't love that??

That's all of the homeschooling-related stuff. Tomorrow I have a long post about our RDI progress, which is also encouraging. I'm blogging about it mostly so that I can remember it myself. It helps so much when we are going through the hard things like we've been through the last month or two! I can see that at the end of the tunnel there is light and usually some good progress to be found.

And I'm still TRUSTing in the Lord! :)

Now THIS is snow!

The encouraging post about the kids will have to be delayed due to snow! We are getting a real, live snow storm here in Atlanta!

Here is the view from our front window at 11 AM:
Here it is at 12 noon:
And this is 1 PM, and it's still snowing will no signs of letting up!
I just took this picture of the kids outside around 1PM, they are still outside playing with neighbors (it's 1:30):
Riley is attempting to make a snowman:

We are supposed to continue to have snow until around 6PM! I'll keep updating with pictures as often as I can! :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Week in Review: 1/14-18

This has been a very good week, full of excitement and activity and enjoyment!

We all enjoyed our learning this week. Riley and I read The Water Horse, Austin began The Matchlock Gun, and Reece read 2 more of the Calvert Kindergarten Early Phonics readers. Austin will continue his book for one more week, but I need a new book for Riley. Will have to look at my list. Reece has 6 more of the Calvert readers, I think, then she will move on to the Sonlight reading list that both of my big kids have read through. It doesn't seem possible that she is already reading this well!

Austin took a math test and began the 2nd to last division lesson in his MUS Delta book (there are a few more lessons after that, but they involve volume, roman numerals, and intro to fractions). On his test, he found the area of a trapezoid all on his own! :) Reece decided she wanted to learn about place value up through hundreds. She's a bit confused when there is a 0 in the tens or ones, but we've got plenty of time. Riley worked on her 7s times tables, and did multiple digit multiplication and long division in her Singapore Primary Math 3A book. She is nearly finished with that book, and will move on to 3B soon. Grammar, writing, and spelling rounded out our academic portion of the day.

We've deviated from the Ambleside schedule a bit for science because I wanted us to do a human body study while it's cold outside. We read the Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, which is really too easy for the big kids, but so much fun! I think it was Reece's first exposure to the Magic School Bus and she was thrilled! We drew the outlines of our bodies, and put them on the wall. Reece went back and drew and outline of her favorite Little Pet Shop character and taped it on her outline. Next week, we'll begin learning about a body system... but I haven't determined yet which one.

In history we learned about Good Queen Bess and more about Martin Luther. The kids connected Good Queen Bess back to Bloody Mary, her cousin, even though we hadn't read about that in well over a month! Pretty cool! My only 'thing' with history via AO is the super slow pace. I would really like to finish American History this winter/spring and then go back with a 4 year history rotation, but if I do that, it won't be planned out for me. Guess I need to think on that some more.

The kids have just about max'ed out their learning potential for the Spanish/French CDrom. But wow, have they enjoyed it! I need to figure out what to do next for their languages. Reece has enjoyed watching each of them do their language CDs, and she can now count to 10 in Spanish and say the beginning of the alphabet in French! LOL

Our lunch-time read aloud has been The Tale of Despereaux and we are thoroughly enjoying it! We listen on audio CD, and I can already tell this will be one the kids listen to over and over. We will finish it this week, as I've been dragging out the suspense in order to drive the children crazy! LOL Actually, it's more of a technique to keep them very interested!

We even read a chapter in our art history book from Hillyer (Calvert school headmaster and author of A Child's History of the World): A Child's Story of Art- Painting. Now that is a good week when you get to art history! LOL

In addition to all of this, we had 5 dance classes, a coffee club gig for daddy, snow/ice, and an RDI appointment for mom and dad. And we're all still in one piece!

I'm going to go for now, but I'm going to start a post about the really neat and encouraging things that have happened this week and post it tomorrow. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ice, Ice, Baby

This is all we had left this morning when the children woke up. It was disappointing, but they wanted to play in it nonetheless.
This is the view up the street towards the highway. It's pretty, but it's just a slushy ice!
Poor Reece, she's never seen snow covering the ground before! She thought this was great! ;)

It's all completely gone now, and it's just wet and cold outside! What a bummer!

No Snow Day

As in typical Georgia "weird weather" fashion, not much came out of the snowfall last night. The news reports that we got about an inch of snow out here, and Austin confirms it. However, around 11 PM, it started to rain, which has washed most of the snow away and left a little bit of ice. The children are undaunted and want to go outside in it. So we're heading out there now.

I really wish they could have had some snow to enjoy! :(

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's a winter wonderland!

Shortly before dark this evening it started to snow here in Atlanta, Georgia! It's been such a long time since it snowed Reece doesn't even remember snow at all, and she is almost 6 years old! I took some videos and pictures until it got too dark!

Here the kids are watching the snow stick to the trash can and not melt!
The girls are running around like crazy because it's snowing:
The snowflakes were huge!

It snowed for almost 2 hours, and then it stopped. I think we might get some more, but that remains to be seen. I told the kids that if the public schools were closed tomorrow, we would have a snow day as well! :) If the snow is still around in the morning, I'll take more pictures and post them!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Exciting progress

Tonight, dh was playing at the coffee club again. We all enjoy going to hear him play! Tonight, we got a special bonus: some interesting evidence of progress in Reece.

Reece was sitting on my lap while I was talking to one of the back-up singers (a lady from church, who Reece doesn't know well). Reece got my attention and asked, "Mommy, may I sit on her lap?" I told her she would need to ask the other lady. She did, and the other lady took her onto her lap with a big smile.

This may seem like nothing, but it is HUGE! Six months ago, Reece would have just climbed onto the other lady's lap without asking her at all, let alone without checking with ME first! I was so excited!

Stranger awareness (or a lack thereof) has been a major concern of mine when it comes to Reece. You know, now that I think of it, she demonstrated another awareness of this that I didn't even think of until right now. One of dh's best friends was there tonight playing the drums. He doesn't leave near us, so the kids and I haven't seen him in probably 18 months. He adores children, and he kept getting Reece's attention and talking to her. Six months ago, she would have climbed up into his lap and talked his ear off! Tonight, she was quite leery of him... smiling a polite smile and answering his questions, but not really giving him her full attention!

This is cool stuff! It makes me so pleased!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Reaching Your Child's Heart... and your own at the same time

I don't even know where to begin! I wish I had been able to blog about this sooner, because I don't think I can find the words to express the emotions I was experiencing when I returned home from the seminar called Reaching Your Child's Heart, given by Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason this past Thursday evening.

This year has been especially challenging for me, as I have tried to implement our RDI program and balance that with the educational goals I have for the children. It has seemed, at times, like the two should never meet. Either I could implement RDI effectively, or I could stick to the educational goals for the children. The more I learned about the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, the more I recognized that it blended fabulously with the RDI program. But it was hard to see how the CM method could help me achieve my more traditional, 21st century academic goals. It's been a rough mental battleground.

I have been pondering these things mostly in my head, and occasionally to friends. I was going to go back to a more traditional, classical approach. But in my heart, I knew that the bigger goals that I have for the children, even for Riley, do not revolve around academics. They involve true, deep, meaningful relationships with other people, and with their Lord. And the sort of development they need to achieve those relationships cannot be found in a textbook or in any curriculum. It has to be nurtured through the very relationships that they (Austin and Reece) struggle with because of their ASD, and that I struggle to maintain with Riley because of the nature of the intensive work I have to do with the others, and because of the nature of our personalities that struggle to mesh. ;)

This brings us back to the topic at hand, which is my reflections on the seminar about Reaching Your Child's Heart. I was very intrigued at the topic, to say the least. I was anxious to hear this topic from a CM perspective, and spoken by Sonya, whom I consider to be a friend. I first met Sonya through a series of workshops she was giving in the local area prior to the start of her Simply Charlotte Mason site. When I was attending these seminars, we were in the process of getting Reece's diagnosis. Sonya's youngest daughter also has autism. When we got Reece's diagnosis, Sonya served as a huge source of encouragement, and reassurance, and information. She kept pointing me towards God, even while I was so angry with Him.

Sonya used a portion of Luke 1 as the basis for her seminar. This particular passage involves Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist) and Mary (the mother of Jesus), when Mary comes to Elizabeth shortly after finding out that she is carrying the son of God. I cannot describe the way I was moved just in hearing this small introduction. You see, it is from this interaction that I got Reece's middle name: Elizabeth. I chose it because of the reassuring way Elizabeth greets Mary when Mary comes to her scared, confused, and overwhelmed. The first thing Elizabeth says upon seeing Mary is, "You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor it is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me!" (v. 42-43) When I found out I was pregnant with Reece, the first thing the doctor told me was, "Don't get your hopes up." I had suffered a number of miscarriages, and the numbers on her pregnancy weren't looking good. I was bleeding and cramping, on as much medication as they could give me to try to protect the pregnancy, and the doctor didn't think this pregnancy was going to make it either. Then once I got past the first 8 weeks, I tested really high for gestational diabetes and had to go for genetic counseling. Where they told us all of the things that result from my high blood sugar so early in the pregnancy, and that we should prepare for the worst. How I wanted someone to greet me the way Elizabeth greeted Mary. So I chose Elizabeth for Reece's middle name, in remembrance, and in the hopes that one day she would be a source of encouragement and comfort to others.

So Sonya had my rapt attention from the very beginning! She shared 6 ways to reach your child's heart, and 3 obstacles. One of the things that encouraged me most was hearing this room full of homeschooling moms nod and "Mmmm-hmm" in agreement with the anecdotes that Sonya shared about the obstacles especially. All 3 obstacles were things I struggle with and feel guilty about at times. And all of these other moms in this room were agreeing with her, and with me?? They struggle with it, too? I'm not alone? Wow!

It was the second obstacle that really spoke to my own heart though: a fear of man, rather than a fear of the Lord. Do we focus on the visible things (test scores, written work) because of what other people think? Are we trying to impress others because our children are so smart? Or, like in my case, am I afraid that people will think badly of me because some of my children aren't academically advanced? With some serious prayer and soul-searching, I realize that I tend to want to focus on the visible, the academics, wish a misguided sense of "Well, my kids' behavior may not look good to other people, and that one is going to take a long time to see the visible results, so at least the kids can be smart and academically advanced, and people will think I'm a good mom/homeschooler." All of this thinking has not been so much because I think that's what is best for the children, but it's because I am concerned about what other people think of my parenting or homeschooling! Wow, wow, wow.

I am still processing everything from that seminar, along with the other realizations I've come to recently. I'm sure this won't be the last you hear from me on this topic! As I work to TRUST in the Lord with my children's futures and with my entire life, I am sure to have some other great (and hard) epiphanies! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Today, we did our school work in the morning, and my friend brought her daughters over (ages 5 and 2) for me to babysit while she went to a luncheon in honor of her husband, a local detective. We were talking when she came back to pick up the girls, and Reece kept interrupting me, saying she wants to play "Memory" with me. It was highly frustrating! I kept telling her I would be right there, and she kept saying, "I want you to play with me!"

Then it sort of dawned on me... she wants me to play with her! That's really cool! Memory is a game that is easily played by yourself, without having anyone to play with. But she was waiting for me to play with her! Wow!

We had a nice time playing... she pouted a few times that I was winning. @@ Of course, I talked way too much! LOL But it was a nice time playing together, when she could have chosen to do it by herself! And also, she initiated playing the game... it was in our game cabinet! Pretty nice!

Breakfast in the Castle!

I can't recall if I've mentioned on my blog, but my mom and I are taking a trip to Disneyworld in March, just the two of us! It's something we started talking about in 2006 when my parents took our family to Disney. We had to really modify our trip to make sure that Austin and Reece enjoyed themselves without getting overwhelmed! It worked... they had a wonderful time! But there was alot that mom and I wanted to do. Not rides... my mom can't handle the carousel at the mall! LOL But the shows... the music, lights, noises, would have been too much for Reece and Austin to handle back then!

So mom and I have planned this trip, and mom is actually picking up the majority of the tab! :) We have the dining plan, and between my pickiness and mom's vegetarianism, there weren't alot of options for dining. So we decided to try to see if we could get a character breakfast, specifically, breakfast at the Royal Table in Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom! It's the most impossible meal to get a reservation for! People call 6 months in advance, at least! But somehow, 7 weeks before our trip, we got in! Mom and I are having breakfast in the castle! :) I am so excited!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One word

I have decided that this year, I am going to do something that I got from Ali Edwards: I am going to give 2008 a word, one single word that will remind me daily of the direction I want my life to take in 2008. I've been thinking about my word for these first 8 days of the year, and I have decided on my word.

Drum roll please:


This word comes from the following scripture: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

There are so many things in my life that I have been trying to accomplish in my own way, in my own power, in my own understanding. And all I get out of it is a sense of exhaustion, of failure, of being overwhelmed and unsure. I worry about the future all the time. Sometimes, I am so worried about the future, that I don't have time to enjoy the present.

Before you go patting me on the back, you should be aware that I've had this epiphany a number of times before in my life. Being the control freak that I am, I quickly lose sight of who I should be trusting (hint: not me). So this won't be easy. So I'm hoping that having this one word will help me focus and be able to bring the verse to memory in those times of doubt and worry!

I'll keep you posted! :)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The holidays are over!

Back to the books tomorrow!

We're going to take it easy this week, to ease ourselves back into the groove and also because Austin's really worn out from his trip! We'll just work on math, reading, writing some thank you notes, and the Spanish/French CD-rom. I think we'll also start listening to The Tale of Despereaux on audiobook during lunch.

I have a few minor changes to implement for this next semester, but I need a little more time to make sure that they line up with our goals and focus! The most important one will impact the way we've been approaching narration! We need to do better with that! :)

Home again, Home again

Looks a bit tired, doesn't he? LOL

My guys are tired, and glad to be home! They had a wonderful time in California! We're all glad to be back under the same roof tonight! :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

The lesson

They got off the plane, dropped off the luggage, and headed over to the field to do the lesson with retired pitcher Robb Nen. Apparently, Mr. Nen is a wonderful guy and was very kind to Austin and his cousin, Rhett. Mr. Nen also commented positively on Austin's pitching form, which made a certain daddy/coach very proud! :)

How cool to be getting technique tips from a major leaguer who has pitched in the world series!!
Mr. Nen also brought his son with him (I'm assuming that is the young man who is catching here), who plays baseball for a college team. Dh said he was a really great guy, and apparently will be playing pro baseball himself! We'll be watching for information about him!
Here is Mr. Nen with my nephew Rhett (age 9.5) and Austin (age 11.5):
I tried to get details from Austin about the lesson, but he was so excited (and probably a bit exhuasted) that all I got was alot of statistics! LOL I'm sure he'll have the experience sharing part of it when he gets home and has time to think about it! Thanks Mr. Nen for a great time for my boys, and thanks to my SIL and BIL for giving this wonderful gift to Austin!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Austin went on his very first plane ride ever yesterday! He flew to California to attend a pitching lesson given by a retired major league baseball player! My sister-in-law arranged the whole thing as Austin's Christmas present from them!

Here he is pointing out their plane when it arrived at the gate:

Here he is getting on board the plane:
A window seat! What more could you want for your first flight!
It's all good! Thumbs up from Austin!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

888 Reading Challenge List

I am taking part in the 888 reading challenge! The complete rules are on at link, but basically you choose 8 categories, pick 8 books for each category, but 8 books can crossover into different categories.

The hardest part for me was choosing the categories! There are 6 crossovers, so that means I will be planning to read 58 books in 2008! I don't know if I will actually accomplish this goal, but it will be fun trying!

Books about Vampires
1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
2. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (4th in the Twilight Series, due out late 2008)
5. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (#1 in Vampire Chronicles series)
6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
7. The Vampire Lestat (#2 in Vampire Chronicles)
8. Morrigan's Cross (#1 in the Circle Trilogy)

New Series I'm Starting
1. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi (#1 in the Spiderwick Chronicles)
2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Inheritance Series)
3. The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 clues series)
4. The Fairy-tale Detectives (Sisters' Grimm series) completed - audiobook
5. Big Red Tequila by Rick Riordan (Tres Navarre series)
6. Interview with the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles)
7. Crocodile on the Sandbanks (Amelia Peabody Emerson Mysteries)
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle (Wrinkle in Time Series)

Continuations of Series I've Already Started
1. The Seeing Stone by Tony DiTerlizzi (Spiderwick Chronicles)
2. The Usual Suspects (Sister's Grimm)
3. Eldest by Christopher Paolini (Inheritance)
4. Voyager by Diana Galbadon (Outlander #3)
5. Drums of Autumn by Diana Galbadon (Outlander #4)
6. The Fiery Cross by Diana Galbadon (Outlander #5)
7. Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Galbadon (Outlander #6)
8. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum)

Books that will be made into movies/are movies
1. Atonement by Ian McEwan
2. PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
3. The Water Horse by Dick King Smith completed
4. Love in the Time of Cholera
5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
6. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
7. The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi(#1 in the Spiderwick Chronicles)
8. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

New Releases from Favorite Authors
1. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
2. The Appeal by John Grisham
3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer (May 2008)
4. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum #14 - out in July 2008)
5. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum extra) completed
6. Battle of the Labryinth by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson #4 - out in May 2008)
7. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight #4 - release unknown, expected late 2008)
8. The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues series - release fall 2008)

Self Improvement
1. Unofficial Guide to Disney completed
2. Walt Disney Without Kids in progress
3. Apprenticeship in Thinking by Barbara Rogoff
4. Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey substitution completed
5. Awakening Childrens Minds by Laura E. Berk in progress
6. The Not So Big House, A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka substitution in progress
7. One Year Chronological Bible, NLT in progress
8. Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook by Simply Charlotte Mason substitution

Classics I Never Read in School
1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
3. Autobiography of Ben Franklin
4. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
7. The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
8. My Antonia by Willa Cather

Children/Young Adult Books
1. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
2. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
3. Holes by Louis Sachar
4. Demons of the Oceans (Vampirates series)
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle
6. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
7. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo completed
8. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale