Saturday, September 09, 2006

First Week Down

Our first week of homeschooling this year is now under our belt. What did I learn?

1) I hate the spelling program that I bought and it is history. Yes, I bought Rod and Staff spelling. No, it wasn't a good fit. Yes, I knew it wouldn't be a good fit when I bought it, but for some reason I bought it anyway. Thomas tested at grade level with spelling, but he's not a good speller. We liked Sequential Spelling, but Thomas likes rules. Give him a rule and he'll remember it. Ugh. Live and learn. Back to the drawing board. I think we'll switch back to Sequential and read a spelling rules book I bought at Rainbow. I'll need to spend a bit of time tweaking this weekend.

2) Rod and Staff English is a hit. It was last year, too. I only wish that Growing With Grammar had their 5th grade program out, which we liked even better, but it's not, so Rod and Staff will have to do. We do the entire book orally. This year I am having Thomas do worksheets corresponding to the lesson. We had the worksheet book last year but I was hit and miss assigning them. I really think this is a very solid English program. (Which is probably why I tried their spelling -- I was hopeful.)

3) Math is math. Thomas hates math, although he is good math concepts. I have an entire blog entry swimming around in my head about math that I need to write. Someday soon.

4) History, world and US, is a hit. Easy for me, because both are CDs. We're loving Hakim's book on CD and we snuggle up in my bed while it plays. It's quick, it's easy, and Thomas remembers. World History we're doing SOTW. I debated doing I or II and ended up starting II. I have the activity book, but honestly, coloring sheets are not Thomas's style. I doubt we'll do much in the way of activities listed in their book, but we do have the book out when we listen to the CD because we look at the maps as the CD is playing. I'll add in map work and supplemental books to both as time goes on.

We expanded a little on the Romans in Chapter One of SOTW. I got a bunch of videos from the library and we watched those. One was on Pompeii. I was there when I was 17. What they didn't show in the video we watched was their fascination with sex. We were allowed into one room, while in Pompeii, that had all kinds of sculptures with the male human anatomy greatly exaggerated. The teacher we were with wouldn't let us into any of the other rooms -- I'm still upset over that! I'll never forget the one room, though. I don't know how one particular statute stood up -- "it" was the size of an arm. Gee, that's all I seem to remember from Pompeii. Shame on me. ;-) No, I didn't share that with Thomas. But it raced through my mind the entire time we watched the video.

Last night we watched Gladiator. Russell Crowe is so easy on the eyes, even as he's whacking someone's head off. I prepared Thomas ahead of time that it was going to be gory, violent and gross. We all loved the movie and I don't think the gore did any damage to Thomas. I can't believe that movie came out in 2000, won best Oscar, and we had not seen it yet! I'm glad I noticed it at our library.

Science needs some more work. My husband is in charge of Switched on Schoolhouse Science. He hasn't spent enough time figuring out the program and getting things assigned. It is kind of complicated for a first-time user. So that needs some work. However, I am doing science with Thomas as well. I grabbed How Science Works and we've been reading every night. I did not buy stuff for experiments and Thomas is quite upset with that. So I need to do that this weekend and hope the stuff will get here quickly.

The absolute best thing I did this year, though, was schedule really light days on Fridays. We do math and world history, plus Thomas has to read. That's it. What a luxury that is. I almost felt guilty Friday morning, but quickly got over it. This light Friday business might just keep me sane throughout the year.

We're doing lots of other stuff too, but those are the highlights. Thomas has a favorite. I bought him a logic book. He loves it, begs to do it, and will be done way too soon. I wasn't going to buy another this year, but I have changed my mind. I have to remember to encourage what he loves. He watches me do Sudoku after Sudoku, so why should he be able to do logic page after page if he wants!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

This year's classroom photo

Pardon the fuzzy photo, it's a camera phone, what can I say. We did a little rearranging this year. Added was a desk that I picked up at a garage sale at an area public school for $1. The little table holding the hermit crab tank in the back corner was also $1 at the same sale. Oh, and the tank holding the hermit crabs was also $1 at the same sale! Whoops, can't forget the chair with the ugly blue chairpad on it -- also $1. I use that chair, believe it or not. It actually causes me less back pain than an adult-sized chair! It comes in very handy as a step stool, too.

The file thingamabob on my desk I got at a garage sale for a quarter. I'm so damned cheap! lol Of course I picked up tons of nice reading material at garage sales, too. Can we say tightwad? Oh, no, perhaps frugal diva might be better. Yeah, I like that one better.

I wonder if Thomas will grow up and complain about his garage-sale furnished childhood. tee-hee

We are liking this arrangement much better. It created lots more surface area in such a tiny room. I like having books on my desk. Thomas likes that his desk has compartments down the side to hold many books and his Alphasmart. Of course he doesn't like the "Tyler sucks" that was scratched into the edge of his desk. Oh well, I guess he could get the sandpaper out and erase it.

Even with our "nice" (to us, at least) classroom, I still go stir crazy in there. If Thomas had his way, he'd do all school in there. I can't. The first day of school this year we did and I found it boring, boring, boring. So we have decided to compromise and take turns picking where we'll study. I like to bounce around. Thomas will still snuggle with me when I'm reading to him, and our big chair is great for that!

This room is fantastic as it contains everything, including all homeschool supplies, all kid books, five hermit crabs, a cat that will not leave us alone, a dog that will not leave me alone, and probably a few spiders to boot.

How Strange!

I had written my last blog entry wishing I had a photo of the special puppy. Our camera is not working right, so I didn't run to snap a shot. Both DH and I just got new cell phones with cameras. Well, how strange is it that my husband, not knowing I had blogged about the puppy, took a photo of it and sent it to me!

So, here is Thomas's beloved puppy, affectionately known as Dot. We could write a book on her adventures and travels, the worst being lost in Kmart for a week. I'll save that for another day.

Heartfelt tears

One of the things I find so special and endearing about my son is he is so compassionate. That compassion runs from people to objects, but especially feelings.

Today, while he was finishing up On the Banks of Plum Creek, he burst into tears. Tears were pouring down his cheeks! I asked him what on earth was the matter. He was furious at Ma. It seems Ma made Laura give away Charlotte, Laura's beloved rag doll.

Immediately I sped back 30 years into the mid 70s, sitting on our green couch with my toes just barely touching the (ugly) green shag carpeting. There I sat bawling. Why? Because Ma made Laura give away Charlotte, Laura's beloved rag doll.

Like mother like son.

Thomas kept saying: She had no right, she had no right! What a bad parent. I told him I agreed that it was a bad decision. We discussed manners of their day, manners of our day, and why Ma did what she did. I also took his book and showed him that she apologized because she hadn't realized Charlotte meant so much to Laura. I explained that she was human and subject to err -- as we all are. I explained that I was just as horrified at what she did when I was a child (and even today!) as he was. We also discussed how it worked out in the end.

Oh, but to be forced to give away that one something special.

My special something when I was a child was a yellow Baby Beans doll. Her name was Jody Ann. (What was I thinking with that name?) After reading the above-mentioned passage, I remember hugging her tight and hoping my mom would never give her away or put her in one of her garage sales like she did so many of my toys. She didn't. Jody Ann is still in my household today. There's a picture of a doll just like Jody Ann here at the very bottom.

Thomas's special thing is a black and white Playskool puppy. He got it for Easter before he turned one and it has been with him ever since. It's been to every state Thomas has. Thomas even took it to South Carolina last fall. Although the puppy is not the constant companion it once was, "puppy" will always be a part of our home. It's his one something special.

Thomas related to Laura giving up Charlotte. To him, it would have been like giving up his puppy. To me, it would have been like giving up Jody Ann.

Thomas ended up finishing the book today after I got him calmed down. Let me just say, though, that his dad got an ear full at the dinner table about Ma's poor choice.

I wonder how many children over time that bothered. ;-)

Thomas isn't spoiled, stingy or selfish. He shares, gives things away that surprise me -- it's just that he related to the specialness of Charlotte.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Well, I feel stupid. Tuesday I peaked out the window and saw no kids at the bus stop. I was surprised by that.

This afternoon we had a weekly paper delivered at 1:45 pm by one of Thomas' former classmates. I'm thinking -- why in the heck isn't that kid in school!

At about 2:15 this afternoon, I noticed older kids outside playing. I couldn't figure it out! School started Tuesday.

Well, how soon we forget! This is our third year out of public school and I completely forget about the back-to-school conferences! The Tues and Wed after Labor Day, they hold 15-minute back-to-school conferences for all kids in K-6 here. And get this: They count both days as official school days!

On the one hand, when I was the parent of a public school kiddo, I appreciated those back-to-school conferences because Thomas got to meet his teacher, take all his crap--er, school suplies in ahead of time, and it was less scary for him. It was nice for me to meet the teacher instead of waiting for the first fall parent teacher conference.

However, I am astonished that they get to claim that as an official school day and get away with it.

So, I'm ticked that we started too soon. lol Well, not really, I guess, because we're getting a good routine going. I'll peak out the window tomorrow morning and check out the cute twins across the street as they start kindergarten...I remember Thomas at that age, and all the kids in the neighborhood. They all wore backpacks that were almost bigger than they were.

Now it seems so wrong to send such young children off into the world. I knew it wasn't right then, but didn't have a husband who was on the same wavelength as I was.

Oh well. Live and learn.

I think a party is in order tomorrow. A not back-to-school party, as I keep reading about on blogs. Maybe another run for biscuits and gravy is in order. lol Any excuse to not cook breakfast here!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Day!

Today was our first day of 5th grade. We'd been practicing going to bed early and getting up early in anticipation. ... Like you can really practice that! It was a long, hard day -- for mom.

We did our annual biscuits and gravy breakfast. Hopped in the car right as the school bus drove by then hit Hardees. That has always been a great incentive for getting Thomas up and out of bed.

Started school at 8:10. By 11:00 I thought I was going to drop. I was sooooo tired. Thomas was working on his math and I went to lie down on my bed -- just for a few minutes. 45 minutes later Thomas woke me up asking what was next. Good grief!

The afternoon "session" was strange. We break our day and do stuff in both morning and afternoon, and the afternoon I scheduled reading time for Thomas so that I could take a nap (if needed, which sadly happens frequently.) Today we were also going to do geography and science in the afternoon. Thomas threw me a curve ball today, though. When his appointed time was up for reading, he insisted he get to read longer. He was really enjoying his book. (One of the Little House Series which he didn't finish this past summer as I had hoped.) Well, he read for an hour and a half longer than he was supposed to.

That's a good thing, right? I told my husband and he said well, he doesn't have to read tomorrow. I said bull! He has to read daily. So DH was upset we didn't do geography or science today. DH was supposed to take over science, but he didn't have anything prepared except for Thomas to identify a huge moth he caught. So tonight Thomas and I snuggled up in my bed tonight, read about matter from How Science Works and then drew maps of the world and labeled them. We have a lot of geography learning ahead of us, because sadly, neither of us did a very good job. It was fun, though, and will be great to compare today's maps to the maps we will do at the end of the year.

I took a sleeping pill a half hour ago in hopes that I'll be asleep by 11 tonight. I think we'll get up a tad bit later tomorrow morning. I'm hoping this old bird can get used to the schedule this week so I'm not dragging so badly! Thomas did fine. The rest of the week I can see me tweaking our schedule, adding and dropping some things.

All in all, I'm so happy that we said goodbye to the public school a few years ago. Homeschooling is wonderful.