Thursday, January 18, 2007

While I'm Bragging...

Here's another brag.

We switched to Rod and Staff Math this year. I put Thomas in their 5th grade program. We skipped a few chapters in the beginning because it was review and he knew the material. We forged on. The first section on fractions we came to was completely different than we had learned last year, so I had him do the chapter. I scheduled our year so that we would complete the book by the end of the year.

Today, however, we sped things up a bit. We started a new chapter of fractions. I looked closely at the material, knew Thomas could do it, so I decided to have some fun. I turned to the first lesson of the chapter, put the hardest two problems on the white board, and had him work them. Done in 30 seconds. I went to the next lesson and did the same. I did it for the entire chapter. Wow, that kid knows his fractions. We moved on to the next section on fractions. We did the same thing. Done in no time flat.

So two chapters down in one day. Woo-hoo. Good going, Thomas.

I credit his "love" of fractions on the book we used last year. Barron's Painless Fractions. We worked through about 3/4 of the book last year. We had started fractions in Singapore and it wasn't clicking with Thomas so I did a quick Amazon search and order. I would either print worksheets from the net on the day's lesson or make my own for him to practice. The proof is in the pudding as it taught him well!

In reality, Thomas hates math. He despises math. I don't know why, but he loses his ability to focus while doing math. It's frustrating for him. He scores very high on math concepts, and even well above grade level on calculation, but he hates it. Math in this house takes an hour to hour and a half every day. And I'm the mean mom who makes him "strive for excellence" and keep at it.

One of the reasons I like Rod and Staff so much is that there is a lot of review and practice. Tons. You learn new stuff on one page of the lesson, do the practice problems, and the second page of the lesson is review and practice of old skills.

Thomas has told me many times that while he hates math, even he likes Rod and Staff because it helps him get it down cold. And that's the point.

So I guess this day will go down as a super-fantastic day for us on all accounts!


Do we expect enough of our children?

I ask this because I had an exchange with someone tonight that left me a little stunned. I was told by the CM in scouts that for tonight's pack meeting, my six Webelos had received $150 worth of awards. About a quarter of that were badges and three quarters were belt loops and pins. My son received the most, but was followed closely by others.

Over the past year and a half, three of my six boys (including Thomas) earned every single Webelos badge available. Thomas earned every academic belt loop and almost half of the sports belt loops. I am very proud of my boys. They all worked very hard.

Anyway, the CM shared with me that the district told him that my den has received more awards than any other den in our district -- ever.

While I am very proud of that, I am stunned. We worked the program. We had great boys with great parents who helped them with the badges we did not do in the den. They worked on belt loops outside of the den as well. I am stunned, though, because it really wasn't that hard. I cannot fathom why dens across the district, state and US don't earn more awards.

If we teach our children to strive for excellence, they will. If we settle for good enough, that's what we'll get.

I am so proud of my boys.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Miss Family Pass

I really miss Family Pass, formerly Mentura. We watched so many wonderful educational DVDs from them it really enhanced our school. I was devistated when it closed. Our public library, while good for a small town, has a dismal collection of DVDs and videos. I decided today that I need to do something about this void.

I did a little searching. It seems there is a company out there that was made exclusively for homeschoolers. It's expensive, IMHO, and didn't have the flexibility that Family Pass had or that Netflix has. You have to return your videos in 15 days. You pay individually for each, and it's expensive. On their site it says:
The more you rent—the more you save! The annual membership fee is only $25 per year. As a member, you can rent up to 3 educational multimedia products at one time. The first rental item cost is $7 and the second and third items are only $4 each, making the average rental price only $5 each. The selected items are mailed to your mailbox and you can enjoy them for up to 15 days. Then mail the items back to (them) using the provided FREE shipping label. Visit us online, rent 3 new items and the convenient process starts again.
I won't link to the company. I found this company on a google search and was taken to a page comparing it to Netflix. When I went to the main page, I found this: "Participant in The Old Schoolhouse New Subscriber Free Gift Promotion." I still boycott The Old Schoolhouse. So that's not an option. In fact, when I saw that, I didn't even bother to search their collection.

So off to Netflix. I searched many things we're studying now and found a fair amount of titles that we might enjoy. They have over 100 Imax titles. Lots of History Channel. This seems as if it will be our best bet.

Another option would be to check the TV schedule on a daily basis and start recording programs. This is what my husband wants me to do. I don't want the hassle of doing that, I don't want videos taking up space in my house, and I am not ready to buy a DVD player that can also record at the moment. Who wants to fast forward through commercials. Plus, it would take quite some time to build up a colleciton to use while we study. With Netflix, I can get it as soon as it is available.

The last option I considered was United Streaming. At $149 a year, not bad. The pros are the vidoes are available whenever I would want them with no wait. The con is that we'd have to watch it on the computer. From what I've read, it's impossible to burn a decent DVD as the quality goes down. Our computers are in the basement. It's cold, ugly and uncomfortable down here. I'd rather snuggle up on the couch while watching our videos. Our school system does subscribe to this, so I may call them and see if we can get a free subscription, but it's not exactly what I want.

So I guess Netflix wins. Not exactly what I want, it will take me awhile to find movies that fit with our studies, but it will have to do.

Anyone else have any other ideas??

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Addie ventured out into the snow today.

We're finally getting a taste of winter. It's been cold all week, with windchills below zero. Today it started snowing. Thomas and I ran to the grocery store for my weekly shopping. Coming out of the snow, we delighted in "the little things that are great about winter."

First, the snow was hitting our eyelashes and melting. We both had watery eyes -- and it felt great. In March, it's not a great feeling, but when there hasn't been hardly any snow, it's a great feeling.

Secondly, we delighted in something weird. When you go outside in very cold weather, the hair in your nose freezes and it feels really cool. We both laughed at our frozen noses. That was one of my favorite things to do as a kid, freeze my nose hair. I'd go in and out of the house, just to experience it. Freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw.

Yeah, I'm weird.

We had a weird and busy week. We didn't go out of the house much, but for some reason we were extremely busy. Lots of schooling got done, lots of fretting about the state of the house as well. This morning we finally packed up all the Christmas goodies and gave the living room a good deep cleaning. That hung over my head all week, enough to make me grumpy, but not enough to pack it all up. I feel so much better.

Monday is a school holiday. I had completely forgotten that until a friend reminded me on Friday. I'm such a stinker that I'm not going to tell Thomas and we're going to school anyway. At least math, but probably the whole works. We're still making up for lost time from this past November.

Scouts has me extremely busy as we wind up for the big finale. We have two den meetings left, two pack meetings and our Blue and Gold banquet. I am counting the days. It's been fun, I'm going to miss the boys (most of them) but I am so looking forward to having my Tuesdays free again and not rushing through school. I'm looking forward to putting all the money I spent on scouts on our school! It was easy for me to spend around $25 a meeting on supplies. I think that's about what it averaged out to. I'm looking forward to no more Monday night meetings. I'm looking forward to no more Thursday night meetings. I'm looking forward to retirement. =)

My yahoo groups have been extremely busy lately as well. Tis the season for anyone and everyone to join a diet group and a cleaning group. So almost all my online time has been devoted to those groups.

That's my week in a nutshell. This coming week I have hopes of re-organizing our school room, YET again. I am just never happy with that room. There's not a lot you can do with a 9x9 school room with 1970's blue carpeting. I dream of a big room, more table space, less sprawling out on our kitchen table -- no wait, that's my husband's dream, having a kitchen table that is free and clear of books.