Friday, March 22, 2013

With a little help

I am alive.  Just thought you'd like to know.

And, in case you were wondering, there are a lot of awesome people in the world who will go out of their way to make someone feel better.  It's been a very interesting week that I'm rather glad I've been able to experience, despite all the pain.

My heart is rather full at the moment, so I'll spare you the gushiness.  :)

Doing a nice thing for someone else, big or small, is a big deal.

Thank you to many.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

REALIZE a pain-free existence?

I always find it interesting how people are so apt to write about their New Year's goals all during January; and, come February, those goals no longer exist.  I wrote up my goal-achieving endeavors for January, but then went dark on the subject in February and now also in March.

My word for the year = REALIZE.  Having a basic idea for the year is liberating, as it allows me to change what I'm doing and not feel guilty about changing the parameters of a goal.  Which, as it turns out this year, is a really good thing because my original vision for the year has taken a few hits in the past weeks.

I want to REALIZE a healthier lifestyle.  I did not set weight loss goals, mile goals, or race goals, and I'm so glad about that because they would all be completely sabotaged by this point.  I haven't run a single step since February 1.  The foot-crushing incident happened that afternoon, and my foot is still a little swollen in the crushed area now, 6.5 weeks later.

The biggest wrench in my plans has been my back, which flared up February 15 and hasn't allowed me a pain-free day since.  I originally injured it during my sophomore volleyball season in high school (read:  15 years ago), and I've been dealing with flare-ups here and there (and during the entire second and third trimesters of each pregnancy) since that fateful day.  Looking back, I've spent a lot of time in pain over the past decade!

I REALIZED that this was a perfect opportunity to create health in an area that causes me a lot of problems, so I went in to see a chiropractor.  Five weeks after my first appointment, it still wasn't better and my chiropractor sent me in for an MRI, which revealed two discs herniating straight into my spine.

So today I'm having a cortisone shot injected into my spine to help get it all healing up a little better, and then it's another eight weeks of therapy, five days a week.  I should be feeling spectacularly better by my birthday in May.  Perhaps I can pick the running back up then?  Regardless, I am taking steps to become a better version of myself, even if it doesn't mean crossing a finish line this spring.

I'm a little nervous about the shot, and I was nervous about each epidural I received when I gave birth, so it's nothing new--and the other four intrusions into my spine went well, so odds are that this will go fine.

If you have a moment and are so inclined, would you consider sending up a prayer for me and my family?  We'd appreciate it ever so much.

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2012-2013 Quarterly Report: Winter Quarter

I dread the Winter Quarter.  I know I'll be working against gray weather, cold temperatures, innumerable illnesses, and the expected boredom and burnout that accompanies the onslaught of the aforementioned events.  January, February, and March are easily my least favorite months of the year.

Unfortunately, these three months are crucial to our homeschooling success.  Without all the distraction of sunshine and its call to bask in outdoor activities, Winter Quarter offers a chance to hunker down and blast through assignments uninterrupted.  (If you can manage to force yourself out of your bed in the dark, gray mornings.)

I've fallen down hard during previous winter quarters, and I wasn't having any of it this year.  Knowing that I was going to loathe sitting at the homeschool table any more than I was required to sit, I scheduled out-of-house activities and big birthday parties to keep us excited about other things, therefore encouraging us to get schoolwork out of the way as quickly as possible so we could devote ourselves to the more interesting items on our agendas.

The plan worked really well!  We powered through this last quarter, much to my immense relief, and we're relatively on-track when the spring quarter starts next week.

Where We Are
(Lesson or page listed is last lesson/page completed)

  • Bluebird:  Lesson 115 in Saxon 3
  • Penguin:  Lesson 105 in Saxon 1
  • Junebug:  Lesson 44 in Saxon K

Language Arts

  • Bluebird = Page 113 in Zaner-Bloser 3
  • Penguin = Page 89 in Zaner-Bloser 2M
  • Penguin = FINISHED
  • Junebug = Page 19
  • Bluebird = Step 5 in All About Spelling Level 2
  • Penguin = Step 23 in All About Spelling Level 1
  • Bluebird = Lesson 46 in FLL 3
  • Penguin = Lesson 66 in FLL 1
Not a lot happened in writing this quarter.  I did fine with coming up assignments ahead of time in previous quarters, but it slipped through the cracks this quarter.  I'll (obviously) have to remedy this in the spring quarter.

Foreign Language
We're muddling through Lesson 10 in Latina Christiana 1.  Latin is going as well as could be expected, honestly.  It's new and we're having a hard time fitting it in, but it's getting done--slowly, but progress is definitely being made.

Story of the World #3, Chapters 17-26
I kept wanting to do something big for The American Revolution, but couldn't get it going, so we wasted a lot of time treading water on that chapter.  Oh well, there's always next time.  Moving on.

The kids can now reliably recite the elements in order up to Thorium (90).  They have a fair number of the last 22 elements already down, but I wasn't really paying attention because I was only concerned up to Thorium.

They did a few experiments with Michael over the winter quarter and have read a few books here and there about various topics pertaining to chemistry.  Hopefully we can increase the amount of science going on in Brooketopia in the spring.

  • Johnny Tremain
  • Ben and Me
We are now through 3 Nephi 16.

Bluebird continued on with her piano lessons.

Penguin did that one landscape drawing... 

Girl Scouts
  • City council address for her Brownie Quest journey
  • My Best Self
  • World Thinking Day patch
  • Considerate & Caring petal
  • Respect for Myself & Others petal
  • Safety award
  • Financial Literacy I leaf
  • Cookie Business I leaf
  • World Thinking Day patch
Physical Education
Bluebird continued with her tennis lessons.

It would easy to look at this list and feel a little bit like a failure because "work done" in some of that later categories isn't that impressive.  However, I believe it's more important to focus on math, language arts and reading in these young years, so missing out of some of the extra-curriculars just has to happen sometimes.  Hopefully I can include more extra-curriculars next quarter, but if I can't get to them, it's not the end of the world.

Goals for Spring Quarter:

  • Finish Saxon 3, preferably early so we can do some intense drill on number facts for a while.
  • Finish ZB 3
  • Get at least through Step 15 in AAS 2, ideally finish the book.
  • Finish FLL 3.  Yep, all 54 lessons.  (I see some summer studying going on in grammar...)
  • Writing assignments.  That'd be good.  (Another potential summer study subject.)
  • Lesson 20 in Latin.
  • Read A Tale of Two Cities; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; Frankenstein; Sacajawea; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Boy in the Alamo; and Moses, Me and Murder.
  • Finish her current piano book.
  • Finish her Brownie Quest journey, Dancer badge, Painting badge, Celebrating Community badge, Snacks badge, Safety Award, Global Action Award, and the Faith Year 2 award.
  • Finish Saxon 1, begin Saxon 2
  • Finish ZB 2M
  • Step 5 in AAS 2
  • Finish FLL 1  (34 lessons)
  • Writing assignments
  • Read through a reading list that has yet to be determined by moi.
  • Finish her current Daisy Scout journey, Respect Authority petal, Faith Year 2 award, Use Resources Wisely petal, Make the World a Better Place petal, Global Action award.  Soaring through another Journey would be nice, but it's doubtful that it's going to happen.
  • Continue with phonics instruction, math lessons, and Kumon workbooks.  Anything she does only serves to get her ahead for Kindergarten.
  • Finish the Book of Mormon
  • Art lessons
  • Music appreciation lessons
  • Start training for the 5K that Bluebird and Penguin want to run in the autumn
  • Science lessons
  • Finish SOTW 3

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2012-2013 Weekly Report: Week #27
Dental Appointments, Backaches, and Addressing the City Council

Another whirlwind week.  Continuing on with last week's theme, we had interruptions to our schedule with various dental appointments.  I'm an anxious mess when it comes to the dentist, so I had to be gassed and then it took hours for me to feel like myself again, so that day was a complete waste.  I'm also dealing with severe lower back pains that made it impossible to sit for long periods of time, which also threw a wrench into our plans.  (I'd just do school until I couldn't anymore.)

So, with all that in mind, writing up a report isn't something I'm too keen about at the moment because it involves sitting down.  Please bear with me and appreciate the few photos I can share with you.  :)

We're in 3 Nephi and read one of the chapters about Christ's appearance to the Nephites after all the tumult and upheaval of the land.  One of the cities that was damaged was named "Gimgimno," and I had a heck of a time pronouncing it while reading it out loud to them.  The girls thought it was hilarious and we've decided that we need to name a future pet with this name.  For now though, Penguin is content to color pictures of animals and name the pictures "Gimgimno":

A big moment this week was Penguin's last day of Phonics Pathways:

I have now raised two fluent readers.  ::high five to myself::  And, once again, I have graduated a kid out of Phonics Pathways at the same time that I'm starting another kid on the course.

We also had Bluebird's big city council address on Tuesday, which was all sorts of awesome.

I think the girls also listened to the chapters about the French Revolution for history one of those days.  Yes, they did--I remember Penguin skipping about, singing "Bye, bye, Robespierre" to herself.

We're scheduled for our Winter Break this next week, so don't be alarmed if you hear very little from us, as I'm trying to implement some fun into our lives throughout the week.  (Or maybe you'll hear a whole lot more from us because I'm not bogged down with teaching school.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bluebird's Brownie Quest Project

I mentioned that I let the girls use World Thinking Day to work on Girl Scout stuff instead of "regular school."  Bluebird is working on her "It's Your World, Change It!" Brownie Journey, and had to pick out something in the community that she thought needed improvement, and then start taking steps to bring about the change.

She decided that she wanted to try and get signs posted on a running trail in our town.  We all know that the running trail exists because it runs alongside various roads throughout town, but we have no idea where it goes, no idea where to park to get on it, and no idea how long it is.  Seeing that Bluebird and Penguin want to train for a 5K later this year, they have their eye on that running trail.

Bluebird wrote a letter to our mayor.  In the letter she explained that she was afraid of getting lost on the trail and that she hoped the trail could have maps and signs put up along it so others would be more inclined to use the running trail.  She asked him to write back to her with his thoughts, and we licked the envelope and sent it on its merry way.

This morning, during Math, the phone rang.  The name on the caller ID was that of our mayor.  I normally just let the answering machine pick up during school, but...the mayor's name?  Curiosity was too much, so I picked up.

It was indeed the mayor.  And he told me that he had received the sweetest letter and that he knew Bluebird wanted a reply, but that he wanted to "do ya one better.  Would she be OK with presenting her idea at the city council meeting tonight?" 

Uh...what?  You want my nine year old kid to present an idea to the city council?  Well, this is Bluebird, who isn't afraid of any sort of social situation, so...yeah, she could handle that.

Mr. Mayor then said he'd meet us before the meeting to talk with her, and then we hung up.  I turned around and told Bluebird what was going to happen and she just beamed.  "Are you OK with that?" I asked.

"I'm excited, but a little nervous.  But it should be OK."  Brave girl.

I then phoned Michael to tell him that we had plans in the evening and just laughed at how surprised he sounded over the phone.

The rest of the day was shot.  She was fidgety and completely in her own little world, so I gave up after lunch and we talked about political processes and other related subjects while I did her hair and her nails and reminded her of social etiquette.

Bluebird and the mayor!
We arrived at City Hall fifteen minutes early, and the mayor was standing out in the lobby waiting for us.  We all shook hands and then he sat down on the stairs with her and explained how it was going to work and that he was going to read her letter out loud to everyone and then invite her up to speak.  She seemed fine about it all, so we went and sat down in the meeting room and watched people file in.

The meeting started with The Pledge of Allegiance (so glad I taught my kids that last year!), and then we sat through some business to do with our rodeo, and then we listened to various folks as they went up to the podium to discuss random things they were concerned about.

Finally (because ten minutes is an eternity to an excited little girl!), the mayor introduced her to the room, reading a bit of her letter and then inviting her up to speak.  There was a little confusion as she went up as we realized she wasn't tall enough to reach the podium's microphone, but someone snaked in another microphone that reached down to her, and she began:

So proud!  Good job, Bluebird!

Friday, March 1, 2013

2012-2013 Weekly Report: Week #26
Pushing Through the Dental Appointments

This week has felt completely disjointed, with no rhyme or reason to our schedule.  We had the big semi-annual family dental check-up this last Monday, which was from 9:00am-11:00am--not a whole lot of school getting done that day.

Tuesday was just an off day.  I felt like destroying anything that ventured into my path, and after trying for two hours to hold school and hating every second of it, I told the kids to take the day off.  We all stayed away from each other for the rest of the day, and Wednesday went perfectly well.

Penguin had a tooth pulled Wednesday afternoon, which meant no school for her on Thursday (and all the other kids were completely out-of-sorts with the abscence of Penguin).

Junebug received her fillings Thursday afternoon and it didn't appear to slow her down, so she did her work on Friday.

Bluebird got through three lessons, Penguin finished three, and Junebug finished two.

Language Arts
Penguin has five more pages to go in Phonics Pathways and then she'll be done!  Such a big girl!  Junebug is starting to move forward, and today she was blending really well--no pause in between the letter sounds! 

We've officially hit our "we are so done with grammar" place, but it doesn't matter and we'll continue to get the work done.

I'm glad I slowed Penguin down with Spelling!  The things she was struggling with are really starting to click this week.  Slowing down is almost always more beneficial than speeding up.

Penmanship is coming along.  I remembered to have them write letters this week, so a couple of people will receive some hand-written correspondence in the next few days!

Foreign Language
Bluebird finished Lesson 10 this week.  (Yes, we are very behind!)  It's getting better.

They read a little more American Revolution stuff and also the next chapter about Captain Cook and the founding/settling of Australia.

Nothing besides continued work on memorizing the Periodic Table.

Bluebird finished Johnny Tremain and started reading Ben and Me.

I've been pushing library books on Penguin, but no formal school reading.  Seeing how she's finishing up Phonics Pathways, I think it's time to start her on her own reading list.  Trouble is, all my reading lists for this period are aimed at third graders.  Ugh.  Time to sit down and do some thinking.  (Although I'm pretty sure the SOTW Activity Guide usually mentions Grade 1-2 level books in its literature suggestions...)

We finished up the Book of Helaman and are now done with Chapter 5 in 3 Nephi.  It's so nice that we'll read about Christ's Resurrection so close to Easter!

Bluebird continues with her piano lessons.  Her lesson this week was obviously about introducing the concept of "staccato."  Short, choppy notes all week.  Yippee.

Nope.  That was supposed to happen on Tuesday.

Girl Scouts
Physical Education
Adding to the craziness of the week, Bluebird's tennis lessons are at different times for the next two weeks, one of them being 7pm on a weeknight.  Whatever, it's temporary.

Highlights of the Week
  • When Bluebird sat down to a new song to learn this week, she was able to play through it the first time.  It's just amazing to watch her progress.
  • I instituted "babysitting" throughout the school day--fifteen minute blocks here and there where one girl is in charge of "babysitting" Monkeyboy.  The girls loved it and Monkeyboy was exhausted by naptime each day, which hasn't happened in months.  They read to him, draw with him, teach him letters and counting, and build with him.  It's win-win all around.
  • Penguin was able to count by 2's up to 20 all by herself for the first time.
Lowlights of the Week
  • Tuesday.
Funnies of the Week
  • We watched "Beauty and the Beast" this week, for fun.  At the part of the movie when the horse wants to take the "safer" road in the woods, Michael asked Monkeyboy what the horse was doing.  Monkeyboy scowled and said "He's chicken."
  • I asked Junebug was the date was and said "Sixteen hundred and twelve!"
  • Junebug was working on a coloring activity where she had to find a certain number and then color that area the color that was assigned to the number.  She could. not. find. one of the numbers and I saw her lip starting to quiver, but then she brushed her hands over her face and starting singing, "Just keep looking, just keep looking..."
  • The kids love to yell "Copernicium!' at the end of our periodic table memorization song, and Bluebird shook her head and said "Copernicium at full volume--it never gets old."
  • We have discovered Grumpy Cat.  Bluebird would just start laughing for no reason and then gasp out:
Image credit:
We're in the business of talking to each other solely in Grumpy Cat phrases.  It's awesome.