Friday, October 4, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal, Oct 4

In my life this week…

The hamster died and I was depressed for two days (not to mention Peter's reaction). As Scratch took his last breaths I couldn't get over how awful death is. He seemed to have a urinary tract infection and all we had in our low-income arsenal was a home remedy recommended online. He remained active for about two weeks and then declined rapidly in two days time.

In my mind I can still hear him running on that squeaky wheel late at night, and his face is still fresh for me.

Speaking in general about death, the worst part of grief are the memories of a loved one's presence in the home, as well as quotes from them that come to our minds. Seeing all their things is very hard as well.

If I ever lose one of these precious children or my husband, I would probably have to move to a different home or town to really go on with life. The environment would trap me in the past and make it very hard to count present gifts.

God gives us gifts every day--as simple as the cardinal that lands near the window, and the funny thing our littlest one says--and we have to be alive enough to actively look for such gifts and thank Father for them. Grief might be best described as a blindness to the present...a going-through-the-motions kind of existence with pain as your companion.

Many wouldn't agree with me and would say that leaving the house would be like leaving the loved one behind for good (devaluing them even). Everyone grieves differently.

When I lost a baby at 21 weeks gestation (but only 16 weeks growth as measured) the nurse wrapped our baby up completely at our request, and then placed him in my arms. Many people take photos as part of saying goodbye, but in my mind my baby was already gone, with Father, and the body didn't hold a lot of meaning for me. I just ached with a devastation that can still take my breath away, thirteen years later.

It was our loss, not our baby's, that's for sure. Recovery was all about trusting God completely and embracing His will and purpose as my own.

My husband did look briefly at our baby as he was born, and he's always been haunted by the vision, rather than blessed. Again, that was our reaction and it differs greatly from so many. Grief is a very individual thing.

Anyway, sorry for that stroll down grief lane...

We've had four hamsters over the years and this is the second death by illness. My heart can't take it again so I told Peter he had to save $100 to cover one vet visit before we can get another small pet. He was far better about keeping the cage clean and dry this time around, so he did mature some, but for rodents to live the optimal 3 years, owners have to follow every single recommendation and he doesn't yet have that maturity.

My husband and I are far too busy to care for a pet ourselves so it has to be 90% child effort and only 10% parent effort. Pet care teaches children so much but so often, especially with dogs I hear, the parents end up with most of the work. We just don't have that luxury so even if it seems harsh, I think this will benefit Peter in the end. He will have to give up many things to save that money, so proving that pets really do matter to him--that he cares not only about what they can offer him, but what he can give them as well.

In our homeschool this week…

My boys, 22 months apart, have shared a Sonlight Core for 2.5 years now. I choose a Core between their grades, which is easy to do since Sonlight designs their Cores to work for a range of ages, rather than for just one grade.

Thus, combining the boys works well except that Peter, the older one, is a more avid reader and goes through the novels very fast, whereas Paul sticks to the reading schedule. I had Peter read Homer Price this week (not part of our Core), instead of getting too far in Born in the Year of Courage, which Paul wasn't ready to start yet.


That way I only have to conduct discussions on the current Sonlight novel once, rather than separately as they're individually ready. For the most part Peter will read two novels to Paul's every one, which is appropriate since he's older anyway. I just have to work on lining up quality literature for Peter to supplement with.

Sonlight looks for high-quality literature books that match their chosen theme, such as the Eastern Hemisphere, which is part of the Core F we're studying this year. The books are reasonably challenging for the age range they post, but many are on the lower end of the age range, if you're looking at Lexile levels. For this reason as well, it's good for Peter, as the older in the learning pair, to be reading extra, high-quality, challenging books with higher Lexile levels.

That said, I look at sentence structure, sentence length, vocabulary, and descriptive quality when evaluating a novel's difficulty, and my assessment doesn't always match Lexile's. Lexile's just a guideline...a formula that can't take everything into account.

For example, this is a dictation passage Sonlight assigned from Call It Courage, which is Lexile 830 and grade equivalent 5.8. That's a fairy low Lexile, but look at the quality of Armstrong Perry's writing. It takes my breath away and I'm fully confident my sixth grader learned a lot about writing (and about Pacific Island culture) while reading this book.

Now the air was luminous with promise of another day. Out of the sultry mists the sea emerged, blue and violent. With the coming of this new day, terror raised its head. Mafatu tried to fight it back, to deny its existence; but it gripped his heart with clammy fingers, tightened his throat. Call it Courage, pg. 28-29

 Call It Courage/Newbery Summer

Doing more than two Sonlight Cores at a time is just impossible without much older children around helping with the read alouds and book discussions, so the choice for medium-size families is to combine kids into two Cores, or use another literature-based curriculum.

Thankfully, my girls are only 24 months apart, which will work well for another Sonlight-teaching duo later on.

I haven't used Sonlight Cores for 1st or 2nd grade. As a former first-grade teacher, still single at the time, I spent most of my money on books, so I have enough fiction and non-fiction around to create challenging learning years for younger kids.

My favorite thing this week was…

Mary, age 6, does AWANA Sparks and these were her memory verses this week:

Deuteronomy 6:5
Love the LORD your God
With all your heart
And with all your soul
And with all your strength.

Psalm 96:2
Sing to the LORD, praise His name;
Proclaim His salvation day after day.

Jeremiah 32:27
"I am the LORD,
The God of all mankind.
Is anything too hard for Me?"

Leviticus 19:2
..."Be holy because I,
The LORD your God, am holy."

We go to AWANA on Sunday night and we start Monday morning singing the new verses, continuing to sing them each day until they're mastered. It takes 5 days usually, with 2 more days of review, to be ready.

This week after two mornings of singing them, Mary whipped through them the third morning and told me, excited, that she thought about them at bedtime the night before, singing them to herself.

That really blessed me as a reminder that the Holy Spirit is in this parenting gig with me. He brought those verses to Mary's mind that night. What a relief to be reminded that it doesn't all depend on Mom and Dad's efforts. We just need to be obedient, and the results are up to God. Praise the Lord for that reminder!

Last weekend we watched Pete's Dragon for family movie time, found at our library. I loved it again-- I saw it at age 13 or so when it first came out--but the boys thought the musical parts were boring. They don't adore musicals like their parents do. Still, all were glued to the screen, enjoying popcorn and cuddling.

My kiddos favorite thing this week was…

Finding yet another snake in the yard, and two praying mantises, male and female, in the garden. Peter had already released the praying mantis he kept for a time, and he felt this blessing of more mantis sightings was God's way of helping him recover from the hamster's death. I convinced him these mantises needed to stay where they are to produce egg sacs for next year.

Mary and Peter are my nature enthusiasts, so the above applies to them.

Paul is loving football right now--playing it outside daily--and Beth continues to delight herself with dollies and pretend play of every kind...including a lot of clothing changes!

A few weeks ago I kissed my girls, calling them my princesses. Beth replied that Mary couldn't be a princess because she touches dirty things, and princesses don't do that. (Mary touches bugs, snakes, frogs and toads on a regular basis).

Mary smiled at Beth's silliness, looking up at me knowingly. I replied that Mary will be a princess to her husband some day, and that she would always be one of my princesses...toads and all.

I'm not sure that satisfied her Prissy Highness, who is feminine in every regard, even while sitting down to watch a movie (hands folded prettily in her lap).

Both my girls delight me for different reasons and I know they'll equally delight a nice Christian husband some day, with their respective God-given bents. I pray their husbands will really take the time to know my girls, through and through, and appreciate every gift they offer.

I’m grateful for…

~ God's holy Word

~ boys and girls

~ literature as a best friend

~ a husband sensitive to my feelings, with tender ones of his own

~ enough food and clothes and adequate shelter

~ a letter from Divya, a Compassion correspondent child of ours from India

~ penpals

~ looking out the window, seeing Mary in the backyard with such a serene face, as though God's glory thoroughly penetrated her soul at that moment.

Praise God for at least two children who really notice God's glory when they venture out. His glory is a gift and noticing it pleases God immensely.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Isaiah 55:12
"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains
and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and
all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Thank you for reading! How was your week?

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Terri H said...

Gabe is begging me to read more of Home Price every day than what is in the schedule! He loves it.

Christine said...

Peter sure enjoyed it too! So wholesome compared to what's out there now. I felt really good about him spending time with Homer Price!

Beth said...

I am sorry to hear about the hamster. I read Homer Price a few years ago to J. We enjoyed it. Have a great weekend.

livingmyportion said...

I am sorry to hear about your hamster. We had two fish to die in the spring so we are well aware of all that goes along with it.

Yay for AWANA verses. We love AWANA!!

Thanks for your thoughts on grief. this time of year is especially difficult as I lost my dad 14 years ago in the fall of the year. Your words are an encouragement.

Have a blessed week!