Friday, May 10, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal, 5/10/13

In my life this week…
9-year-old Paul's asthma attack and his subsequent suffering from extremely itching, burning allergy eyes. Gotta love that grass and tree pollen. Medicine helps little and only God's grace keeps the sufferers from going insane. I feel so sorry for my husband and son, as this could go on another month.

My 11-year-old son learned to mow and use a weed-whacker, much to his delight. It's his favorite pastime now and my yard looks better than it ever has.

We're going to plant flower seeds this week too, mother and son; it makes him so happy that I would work in the dirt with him. Usually the inside keeps me so busy it's hard to get outside. I'm so thankful for all his grown-up help, especially since my husband doesn't get home until 7PM.

In our homeschool this week…
I'm thinking tonight that our current read-aloud, Cheaper by the Dozen, is too mature for my boys.

Front Cover

The humor is more appropriate for high school-aged kids (mine are 9 and 11). I don't know what Sonlight was thinking in including this book for upper elementary kids. It even discusses what boys want from girls in high school. Perhaps many people felt as I do about its maturity, because it has been discontinued in Sonlight. I added it in because we needed some more read-alouds, but I don't think I'll even finish it myself.

What makes a book worth my time, or our time, I have to ask? The goal of this book's authors (brother and sister write autobiographically about this family of 12) is to amuse only. I like to see more than one good attribute in a book. Especially, I like at least one character significantly changed for the better, and I like the character's betterment to speak something important to my children and me. I don't see any depth like that in this book. As I said it's just humor and at times the Lord's name is used in vain because the father spoke this way. Not every chapter, but enough to cheapen the humor. Leaving out the words of course, it would make some fun for a family of teenagers to experience the book with Mom and Dad.

I will definitely make time this summer break to preread Sonlight's read-alouds as well as the readers. This year I've only found time to preread the readers. There are many jewels and a few lemons in every year of Sonlight. What is one family's jewel might be another's lemon and vice versa, which is to be expected from any literature-based curriculum.

Paul just finished The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden, which is a delightful, intriguing story about a boy, Gregory, suffering from attachment disorder because of nannies who've come and gone too often.


His parents are busy architects, both of them. Gregory is healed by his sacrificial love for his new housekeeper, who is from the Ukraine and terribly homesick and melancholy--not so different from what Gregory himself feels on a daily basis. He goes to great lengths, coming out of his shell in the process, to make her a "good place" in the family kitchen. It's so simple, yet so profound at the same time. The healing power of love is on display and when you finish this short book, you're better off for having given it your time.

Peter is almost done with The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty Birney, about a boy whose father challenges him to find seven wonders in his own town--a town the boy previously thought of as boring.


He finds, through his contacts with neighbors and family, that his town is anything but boring and that all around us, if we take the time to look, there are wonders.

For social studies and science the boys are still reading the books I mentioned last week: The Story of Inventions and See and Explores Space, Stars, Planets, and Spacecraft

We continue to enjoy using Susan Wise Bauer's Writing With Ease, Level 4. We're all learning so much new information as we go. It truly is a worthwhile resource and so easy to use, especially if you have reluctant writers.

The girls' ( ages 4 and 6) favorite read-alouds this week were:

Over and Over

This delightful book, Over and Over, by the talented Charlotte Zolotow, teaches a preschooler about the seasons and holidays of the year. The illustrations are so beautiful you want to get lost in them. Really. We've all loved this and little Beth has requested at least six readings already.

The Full Belly Bowl

The Full Belly Bowl is a long-time favorite we keep checking out again and again.

Dear Friend, the tiny note reads,
In appreciation of your kindness and generosity,
I leave you this Full Belly Bowl.
You need never know hunger again.
Use it wisely or it will be a burden.
To empty, pour it out.
When not in use, store it upside down and out of reach of children.

This magnificent story is anything but predictable and every page keeps the family riveted. In the end the old man no longer has his full belly bowl, but he's much happier than before and a little wiser.

The Seashore Book, also by Charolotte Zolotow, takes you to the sea in your mind, helping you smell the scents and feel the textures and hear the sounds of the ocean.

"What is the seashore like?" a little boy asked his mother. He lived in the mountains and had never been to the sea.

His mother smiled. "Let's pretend," she said.

And Charlotte, one of my favorite children's authors, true to her craft, shows instead of tells. She makes you feel as though you're right there, among the waves. Beautiful story.

The girls also enjoyed a Mother's Day story, a craft, and movement games at the library on Tuesday. They were so proud when giving me their Mother's Day present!

In other Pre K-K news, I've found that the lower case letters, the ones that look alike, are giving them trouble. We spend some time each day matching upper and lower case letters so they can distinguish u and n and h and all the others that look similar. The capitals are no problem.

When you think of all the letters and numbers kids this age need to learn to print, it's overwhelming for both teacher and students. Starting in the correct place and going the correct way to start is the hardest part. Penmanship is my least favorite thing to teach.

Every child has the hand strength and visual memory at different times. Writing them in the air and on large paper over and over in crayon helps with visual memory too. It's all very tedious, even though we have a good handwriting program.

My favorite thing this week was…
The AWANA awards assembly on Wednesday. The kids stand up there and receive awards for their hard work and they recite a verse or verses that they particularly liked from that year. I was so proud as both my boys overachieved and all the kids did very well on their verses, despite stage fright. This nine-year scripture memorization program is so worth a family's time. I can't think of any other extra-curricular activity that prepares a child so well for life as a Christian.

Yes, it is hard work. It requires perseverance and a heart for God, but the outcome is simply and utterly beautiful...a child who goes out into the world with a strong biblical foundation, with scores of verses hiding in his heart so he can find his way in a confusing world.

The program scaffolds nicely to provide age-appropriate verses, and there's enough review that the child is not simply memorizing and then forgetting, like Friday's spelling words. And because they must show up knowing their verses each week, everyone at home is kept accountable, which isn't necessarily the case if you work on memorization alone at home. The kids want to do well. They really want to achieve and grow in Christ.

There are also weekly Bible lessons, weekly incentives, and weekly PE games and many special things to look forward to, like the AWANA derby. It runs from Sept. to May. on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. Look into it for your family here?

My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
AWANA awards and seeing the fruits of their hard labor recognized and celebrated. Knowing that Mommy and Daddy are moved to tears over your efforts and growth is a priceless benefit in and of itself.

Things I’m working on…
We have a very large flowerbed that is part shade and we're hunting up the right seed packets to make it flower nicely this year. There aren't a lot of choices for part shade so this is challenging. We can't afford to buy annuals every year.

I’m cooking…
for dinner so far this week....taco bake, cheesy eggs and cafe potatoes, pasta with turkey sausage, pumpkin pancakes and fruit, and I can't remember the fifth thing.

I’m grateful for…
...the chapter books my little Beth, age 4, carries around everywhere. She even checked out chapter books from the library instead of picture books this week, telling me she loves books and could she please have these? She sits on the couch with the open chapter books in her lap, pretending to read them to her dollies. Or she just sits there by herself, pretending to read them silently.

My husband is driven a little crazy by all the chapter books she gets off the shelves and leaves around the house, but being a teacher I'm just tickled at the whole thing. I indulge her in this, just asking her to come and get them.

I'm grateful for God's grace for my son, who feels like screaming over his itchy eyes...and does scream at times. The more he bothers the area the more histamine the body produces, creating a puffy, horrifically ugly mess of his eyes. He is learning mind over matter with God's grace. He uses the allergy eye drops the doctor prescribed but in bad allergy years they're not enough.

I'm grateful for little Mary, age 6, telling me that when she grows up she will own only as much as she needs, and she will live simply. I teach this and we write to three Compassion children in three different countries, but it's quite a thing to have a 6 year old announce that she's made this decision about her own life. That she won't covet. And the truth is she rarely asks for any material thing, compared to her siblings. Yes, I know children will change, but God has spoken to her heart and I'm incredibly awed.

There are so many challenges and setbacks in raising children, but when you discover a bright spot like this, it lights up your heart and helps you keep fighting the good fight for the Lord, without growing weary.

I’m praying for…a list of supplication prayers and for my son and my husband re allergy issues.

I rewarded my kids this week by…
Dairy Queen

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

Edward Guest poems (20 August 1881 - 5 August 1959)

Mother by Edgar Guest

Never a sigh for the cares that she bore for me
Never a thought of the joys that flew by;
Her one regret that she couldn't do more for me,
Thoughtless and selfish, her Master was I.

Oh, the long nights that she came at my call to me!
Oh, the soft touch of her hands on my brow!
Oh, the long years that she gave up her all to me!
Oh, how I yearn for her gentleness now!

Slave to her baby! Yes, that was the way of her,
Counting her greatest of services small;
Words cannot tell what this old heart would say of her,
Mother -- the sweetest and fairest of all.

He Who Serves, by Edgar Guest

He has not served who gathers gold,
Nor has he served, whose life is told
In selfish battles he has won,
Or deeds of skill that he has done;
But he has served who now and then
Has helped along his fellow men.

The world needs many men today;
Red-blooded men along life's way,
With cheerful smiles and helping hands,
And with the faith that understands
The beauty of the simple deed
Which serves another's hour of need.

Strong men to stand beside the weak,
Kind men to hear what others speak;
True men to keep our country's laws
And guard its honor and its cause;
Men who will bravely play life's game
Nor ask rewards of gold and fame.

Teach me to do the best I can
To help and cheer our fellow man;
Teach me to lose my selfish need
And glory in the larger deed
Which smoothes the road, and lights the day
For all who chance to come my way. 

Happy Mother's Day to all!

I know these journals are long and a hearty thank you if you've ever gotten to the end of one of them. Secretly, when I read a short one? I feel cheated. I love me a long, long letter with lots of internal thoughts penned.


Christy said...

I enjoyed your book reviews! I'll definitely have to check a few of these out for my kiddos!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the Edgar Guest link.
Hope you're having a lovely Saturday. :)