Friday, March 03, 2006


Sudoku from
I am absolutely addicted to Sudokus. I do several a day. I went through a Dell book in no time flat, so my husband bought me a book with 500 puzzles in it for Valentine's Day. (How romantic-NOT) lol I'm still plugging away in that book but should have it finished in a week or two.

What is a Sudoku?
Wikipedia has a better explanation than I can give.

Here are a couple websites for the kid-version sudokus.
First Site

Second Site

I started out my addiction by printing puzzles from the first site listed. They also have children versions there that I print for my son.

I do these all day long. When DS is working on something and needs me present, I'm working on a Sudoku. I do one when I wake up with my coffee. I do one before I go to bed. I really am addicted.

And I know contemplator is going to ask again...does doing sudokus make you more logical or just better at sudokus? Hehe, sometimes I think neither is my answer. I will admit here that the first sudoku I did took me a couple HOURS. D'oh. Of course I didn't read any tips on how to do them (yeah, that's my excuse) and I printed out a hard puzzle. Start with an easy one for pride's sake.

I have incorporated sudokus in school. Occasionally. I write them out on the big white board in my kitchen and have DS solve them. He does kids versions on his own because he just doesn't have the patience to do a big puzzle, even though he could. I do make him do the regular puzzles with me occasionally because I'm a mean mom.

Off to do another one before bed.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Our Next Amazon Order, Attention and Homeschooling

My hubby just bought a new band saw and cordless drill. So I think that entitles me to a small spree at Amazon.

On order:
The Number Devil
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geography
Usborne's World Geography Encyclopedia (I haven't placed the order yet, please tell me this is good.)
Sudoku Puzzles for Kids (DS doesn't have patience for the big puzzles)
Nonfiction Reading Practice 4th Grade
Spectrum Spelling 4th Grade.

So far. I'm sure I'll add to the list.

Why am I ordering workbooks for my son? Busy work? Why a spelling book when we love Sequential Spelling?

Here's why. My son has "attentional" issues. No he has not been diagnosed with ADD. He does have problems staying on task. He cannot seem to work when I'm in not in the room. Some days he's on and can, other days (most) he can't.

We homeschool to suit his learning style. He learns well with what we do. I think he needs some practice at focusing himself a bit, though. He needs something he can do without me in the room. That's why I chose a simple spelling book and nonfiction reading. (He's a nonfiction reader just like his mom, he'll actually love that.) I hope that this will build up his confidence because I think he'll be able to stay on task with both items.

Today I left the room when he had a lot of math to do. I heard, "Mom, this is too hard! I can't do it. I don't understand it. Mom, help." I went back into the room and he hadn't even attempted to start. And we're talking *subtraction.* I was a mean mom. I told him to do his best, that's all I expected, and that I was going to go outside for a minute. I didn't help him with a single problem because he knew how to do it. I gave him the pep talk, "You can do it" and scurried out the door.

Well, I came back ten minutes later and he had done 40 problems. He was pleased, I was pleased. He informed me he'd do more work, so I left and went to the kitchen. He did 20 more problems.

It is a real struggle teaching a child to focus. It takes baby steps and lots of confidence building. He has come so far, though, and I am so proud of him. I'm hoping my busywork workbooks will further him on his way.

At this point I teach him to clear his mind and focus on one problem at a time. When that problem is done, don't think of Runescape or Sims or Jamaica or Rome or palmettos or palm trees, immediately move your eyes and brain to the next problem. Develop a rhythm and keep going.

I always think of his second grade year in public school. He had a wonderful teacher that actually *let* me volunteer. It was because of her that I was able to see him in action, how he performed in school. It was scary. He couldn't focus AT ALL. I came home from my first-time volunteering experience and bawled. What happened to my bright, smart, son? Where had he gone and who was this boy that couldn't focus and lost his love of learning!

After that we consulted an educational psychologist and had him tested. Yes, he's gifted. Yes, he has attentional issues. Yes, public school is not the place for him. And finally, my husband relented and agreed to homeschooling.

The rest is history. We won't be going back any time soon. When he's older he can have the choice, but he has no desire to go back. This is working for him.

Baby steps. Confidence building. Lots of love, support and hugs. It's working.

nothing coming to mind so I'll ramble

I've been meaning to blog but nothing has been coming to mind.

So here's a late-night ramble where free thoughts hit the keys. Of course completely chaotic and unorganized -- as usual.

Today we were supposed to go on a homeschool field trip. It actually would have been a cool trip. I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't face the fundies. I am really glad I kept my mouth shut and didn't tell DS. My husband thinks we should have gone because there might be "just one" family like us. I went to the group's moms night and the ladies were very nice, really, but it just wasn't my cup of tea or glass of beer or actually maui schnapps.

I met the leader of the group this summer at the beach. Our kids were playing together and we started talking. Then we discovered we both homeschooled and she invited me to join the group. I hemmed and hawed. Finally I just was blunt. I told her that yes, I was a Christian but I do not belief in organized religion, I do not attend church, we love Harry Potter, I am a moderate leaning toward liberal in politics, and that we prefer secular curriculum. I also stated that I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion or lack therof regarding religion and I will not now nor ever proselytize. She smiled and said that's okay. (Yeah, right, she can make me come around in the future, huh!) So I joined, I went to the moms night. Yes, the people were nice but it was just too -- goody good for me. What if I slipped up and said, "Oh, shit" in front of them, or better yet, took the lord's name in vain. (Something I tend to do every day.) Ahem.

I haven't attended anything else. Am I teaching my son reverse discrimination? We have known one family in that group for eight years. My son has played with those kids since he was two, although I kind of broke away from them this year. My son plays with the boy down the street, three other kids in the neighborhood, another good girl friend, plus scouts. Is that enough? Do I need to do the homeschool group thing?

I think I made the right decision to not go. I don't think I'll renew my membership next year.

{Please note that this upcoming paragraph is my dry attempt at sarcasm.)

And on another note, I was amazed to learn that homosexuality is caused by drugs and antibiotics in drinking water. Who knew? What I cannot figure out is how the water was infected with drugs and antibiotics since the big bang!

{End of sarcasm.}

I'm sure anyone who reads my blog reads doc's, so you'll know what I'm referring to. This comment has overshadowed me since I read it this afternoon. It makes me so ill. It makes me ill to realize the comment was not challenged. (I refuse to post where it originated, so I guess I'm guilty.) It makes me ill that there was not a public outcry about the homophobia. It makes me ill that people THINK this way. Today. In the 21st Century.


I read that post to my son. Yup, to my 10-year-old son. He was amazed that there were such ignorant people in the world. It made him, my super-sensitive, fight-for-the-underdog kid, angry. And it should.

My biggest worry is what will happen some day when a child of someone who THINKS (or rather *doesn't* think) like that comes to them and says, "Mom, dad, I'm gay." What are they going to do then?

What is so wrong about it all!!!

I just don't get it and never will.

Live and let live.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Seed Catalogs

Our spring Gurney's catalog came in the mail the other day. Last night my son discovered it. He knew mom was looking for plants to give us privacy from the new neighbors so he started studying shrubs. I then got my plant books out and we were reading the Latin names of plants, learning about growing zones, soil conditions, pH, amending soil, plant food, etc. It's amazing how much one can branch out from one little old seed catalog. It's even more amazing how fast a child learns when he really wants to learn.

DS made a list of plants for his dream house. He's been designing dream houses since I can remember, but he's just now beginning to consider landscaping his homes. He wants lilacs and snowball bushes. He wants tulip trees. Just like his mother, he wants weeping willows. His home has to be in a warm climate because he wants palmettos and palm trees, too. He studied trees in second grade public school but didn't learn much. We've decided to really study them now and start nature walks and naming trees. (Mom is really bad at this, so we'll probably have to take a backpack full of books with us.) Of course, because we're in Minnesota we'll have to study the coniferous trees right now and wait for spring to study the deciduous trees.

Since my son was little, he has had a fascination with Venus Fly Traps. He has always wanted one, but due to the fact we live in the middle of nowhere, we have never found one. My son took the Gurney's catalog to bed last night and what did he find? A carnivorous kit for only $19.95. Comes with six carnivorous plants, a dome and informational book. Cha-ching. I just told the principle who has been complaining about the teacher's out-of-control spending habits, but the principal said it was okay to order the kit. (Like the teacher would need his approval anyway, ha!) Dear son also wants a packet of catnip seeds so he can grow his own and make the cats happy. He also wants a coffee plant. I think I'll just order the cat nip seeds and forget the coffee plant.

Right now I wish I had a classroom the size of a public school room. I'd devote an entire area for plants and another area for animals. We are going to be ordering a butterfly kit soon and need a place to put it. We're also going to be ordering a tadpole kit. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

I wonder if I can order a money tree that will produce prolific blooms?

Well, break's over. Back to school.


Last night I was reading blogs and someone was talking about what to do for geography.

Anyway, I didn't want to pay the big bucks for Runkle, especially not knowing that much about it. Because I live in a small town with no book store, I decided to shop at Amazon. My husband suggested I check out the Idiot and Dummy books. I liked the Idiot book, so I'm ordering it.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geography, Second Edition. Take a peak at the table of contents and sample pages at Amazon. It looks very thorough.

To go along with this, we will use our Geography Coloring book which we already own.

While we usually study geography during our history studies, my son is craving a more structured and formal geography study. I think this will fit his needs nicely.

Monday, February 27, 2006

blog housekeeping and what we did today

Mull-berry, I think I have the link to the adventure mouse fixed, thanks for letting me know.

I have also added a bunch of blogs I read. In my late-night, tired state, I may have missed someone I regularly read and if it is you, let me know and I'll add the link. lol How is that for a weird request -- but bloggers know who reads their blog and who responds and I'm tired. lol

Okay, so here's how our day went. My son and I stayed up a little past midnight last night. He was too energized from late-night skating to sleep. We got up later than normal. I made oatmeal chocolate-chip muffins (from scratch, just call me Martha) and three scrambled eggs for breakfast. Then we played on the computer a bit. Then we decided we really did need to do some school -- but by this point poor DS was so tired he couldn't focus. (Okay, he was whining and making me miserable.) So, ha ha, I made him lie down for a nap. I joined him. He stayed wide awake but told me I snored.

This afternoon the telephone repairman showed up to fix our lines. We have been without our landline for over two weeks. That is a very long story that I promised DH I would not get into. (Hint: If you marry an engineer, he will want to fix everything, but timing is not important.) We now have phones again. I must say it was really nice to not have the phone ringing all the time. It was a luxury, really. I like my privacy. But reality won out, I need a phone.

We did a very relaxed but productive school session this afternoon. My son, who hates to color, colored in his geography coloring book. While he was coloring, I read from a book (forget the name) from the New York Public Library on American geography. When I got tired reading from that, I read a little book that was my moms about all the parts of speech. We then did math again, although DS was still not in the mood to work all his problems, so I made him practice figuring perimeters in his head. He wanted to do geography again, so we did. This time we got our tiny globe bank out and just started looking at it. We were talking about wars, world religions, poles, climates -- we must have talked for about thirty minutes. This kid is a geography nut. He loves it. I need to get my act together and figure out what resources he would love. He asks a million questions that I cannot answer. We then read Tituba again...I'm reading it out loud and seems to be never-ending. I hope to finish tomorrow. We'll see. Ending the day, DS started reading a book called My Favorite Ghost.

So school today was only about two hours, but he still learned.

I made my husband take me out to dinner AGAIN. He owed me over that thing I'm not supposed to talk about. I'll have to make him a really nice dinner tomorrow night.

Goodbye Message Boards

I've made a big decision today. I have decided I no longer need commercial homeschool message boards. They've served their purpose -- taught me about curriculum, scheduling, and homeschooling in general.

I'm having so much more fun with a certain group of people, some of whom I've actually met in real life, plus with bloggers. I've actually received more homeschooling help from my group and from bloggers than I have on the boards anyway.

Time to move on to greener pastures.

Goodbye boards, you're out of my favorites links, I wish you all well -- really, I do, and I wish you peace, understanding and open mindedness.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

a clean house

Well, I did it. I got the entire house clean, shining and smelling good. I didn't smell good, though. lol

The house was SO clean that I didn't want to mess up the kitchen and COOK. My husband wanted to make hamburgers and I threw a fit.

He's ticked because we're out $15 for Wendy's. (I won that battle.)

After Wendy's, we went ice skating.

Walking in the door from skating was HEAVENLY.

My house is clean. Ahhhhhh.

Now off to do Sudokus and further contemplate on WHY I never use my real name on the internet.

Pizza Hut's Book It!

It's time to enroll for next year's Book It program from Pizza Hut. My reminder postcard came in yesterday's mail.



Sunday morning, 11:50 am.

I slept late this morning, awoke to the sound of bacon frying. No, DH doesn't make bacon for everyone, just him. The smell of the bacon grease is nauseating to me, so it's not a pleasant way to wake up. He does this almost every morning. (I can eat bacon prepared in a microwave, it doesn't have that nasty thick smell.)

Last night and this morning I've been in a contemplative mood. I watched The Color Purple last night. That movie makes me bawl every time I watch it -- and I've seen it probably 30 times. After the movie was over, I called my sister and thanked her for being so wonderful. My son watched a few minutes of the movie and kept asking so many questions that it actually started to annoy me. He wanted to know what happened in the end. I said the movie is not just about the end, although it is a good ending. I explained that he would need to watch the whole movie from start to finish to get the feeling -- it's an experience, not entertainment. Okay, at least for me it is.

That movie makes me think of mediocrity in my life. I feel like a prisoner sometimes. I always have. Mostly my life is about mediocrity. I play the bored housewife role only too well. The one aspect that raises my life above mediocrity is my son. I parent very well, I love very well. I try to nourish his brain and emotions. He brings me great joy. After my deep thoughts last night I decided that the mediocrity aspect of my life was a perfect example of bad parenting. My son knows I get bored easily, he knows that I hide out in the house. He knows I have dreams and desires that I never even attempt to fulfill. What kind of example am I setting for him by being this way? Not very good.

Lots of food for thought on a Sunday morning.

This morning I've also been thinking about our past school week. It was fantastic. My son was really "on" and did some great work and learning. His attitude was pretty good, too. We started Real Science 4 Kids Biology, read the first chapter and did the first experiment in one day (as opposed to the week that it's supposed to take.) When we finished my son said: MORE. This just drove home the point that we need to switch the focus of our school away from history toward science. He has always been a science kid -- I have always hated or been scared of science. Okay, I'll face my fears and fulfill his needs. I don't think this RS4K is going to be a good fit for him in that it doesn't go into things on the level he wants to learn. He wants more.

We attempted the chemistry earlier this year. I had to stop. I didn't get it. I'm going to have to start studying chemistry so I can teach it. RS4K is not elementary enough for me. Ah, those memories of being completely lost in high school honor's chemistry are coming back to bite me in the butt. How I got a C in that class is beyond me. I think my teacher took pity upon me because I went to his classroom after school every day and worked hard, though never understanding what I was doing. I think the C was for effort, not understanding.

Back to my contemplating: Why is it that if we have a really good school week, everything else is mediocre or dismal. School was great which means my house is not. Why can't I have both? My kitchen looks like a tornado went through it. I've got bills stacked to pay, checks to order, checkbook to balance, library books to return, a telephone line to get fixed, a broken car window motor to fix, a house to clean, menus to plan, groceries to buy, prescriptions to fill, sheets to change, laundry to wash, floors to vacuum and scrub, etc. Why can't I "do" both and do them well?

I think I know the answer. I expect better from school -- I put my son first. I accept mediocrity with the rest of my life. It's okay that there are dirty dishes in the sink, they'll get done -- that is my attitude about "the household" aspect of my life. That's not teaching my son well. I'm accepting responsibility here: the mediocrity is my fault -- it's bad attitude.

Aim not for perfection. Perfection is a dirty word in my house. Strive for balance, strive for excellence -- not perfection.

As Dr. Phil says (I don't care for Dr. Phil but my sister quotes him all the time) "GET IN THE GAME." Okay, mom, get in the game. Expect better of myself. Do not accept mediocrity.

That is a good lesson for my son to learn, a good example for me to set.

So I'm logging off and am going to go clean the house now. Get in the game, mom -- Just Do It.