Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Homeschool

I'm often asked what we use for curriculum when we homeschool.  This is what has worked (or hasn't) worked for us this year.

Explode the Code- After purchasing and and ditching two pricey reading programs last year, these  books are what taught B to read.  They made it click for him.  He breezed through book 2 this year and is currently working through book 3.  I love how every lesson slowly builds on the last one until concepts are mastered.  Another perk about the books?  They are very affordable!

Spectrum Spelling- We don't use this book often anymore.  B has learned so much from Explode the Code, it felt like overkill.  We use the spelling book on weeks we do not have a lesson from our Reading book.

Evan-Moor Reading - This book, I bought on a whim when B asked me to.  He really likes it so far.  I like the comprehension activities and phonics/spelling review.  B likes the fact that he gets to draw, cut, and paste for some of the activities.

Bob Books- I really liked these for Kindergarten.  They gave B such confidence!  This year, though, when B went through two sets of books fast, I knew he'd outgrown them.  Now, I have him pick a book from the bookshelf.  We have more books than bookshelves, so there are a lot to choose from!  If it's a difficult book, I'll alternate pages with him.  If the book is at his level, he'll read the whole thing to me.  It's amazing how much just reading aloud has helped his reading skills.

Singapore Math- This program for Kindergarten was wonderful!  It was B's favorite subject.  This year, it's not a match.  The way mental math is taught is abstract to B and honestly, to me too.  B can do math mentally, he just takes a different approach than is used by this system.  It also moves too fast, into higher math without mastery of the basics.  I've had to stop and supplement too often.  I've heard great things from other families, but I think we'll be looking at a different curriculum for next year.  I'm seriously considering
 Math-U-See for my visual learner.

Story Of The World Volume 1 Ancient Times 2nd Edition

Story of the World- This book is so, so good.  History is by far our favorite subject this year.  The text is so engaging.  We both find ourselves wanting to know more about the people and cultures covered in this book.  This week, we have been learning about Greece.  To supplement, we've also been reading Greek mythology.  B is fascinated.

Character Sketches from the Pages of Scripture, Illustrated in the World of Nature- Erik's cousin recommended this book to us when B was a toddler and Jilly was just a baby.  I'm so glad we ordered it.  It is truly a book we will treasure for years.  It focuses on character traits and then shows how these character traits are displayed in the animal kingdom. It also demonstrates these traits in the Bible.  For instance, this month we have been learning about loyalty.  We learned how bees are loyal to their hive and their queen, geese are loyal to their mates, and what happens when a little bear cub is not loyal to his mother bear.  Also, how Mordechai was loyal to the king...even when it was difficult and what happened when a soldier was not loyal to his commander.  We use this for science, as well. The animal descriptions are very in depth.  The pictures are beautiful.  I find myself growing in faith from this book.

Sight word practice- B has a stack of sight word flashcards.  We review them about 3 times a week.  Every time he gets the word correct, quickly without obviously sounding it out, that word gets a check.  When he gets 3 checks, the word is taken out of the stack and written on his word wall.  He enjoys sight word practice because he's quite good at it.

Math- Flashcards, printables, time tests, and computer games.

Writing- We have a writing corner in front of his word wall.  On it, we have a basket full of different types of writing paper and a notebook of words he needs help spelling.  Topics vary.  Yesterday, he wrote about the snow falling off the roofs of houses and what it was like to walk in the snow.  Writing is his least favorite subject.  One time (before his spelling had taken off), he was a little passive aggressive and wrote, "A long tim ugo, I poct Mommy with a stick."  Complete with illustration!  Sometimes, his writing is the Valentine he wrote for his Nana.   He also has a journal for corresponding with Erik or myself.

Science- This year, other than Character Sketches, science is being led by B's interests.  We've learned about space, deserts, snakes, scorpions, bees, insects, bones, the digestive system, the city water system, many things.  We surround him with books, visit the library for more books and documentaries, watch science videos, and explore the great outdoors.  Next year, science may be more focused, but it has been a fun year to watch where B's interests take him.

Homeschool Co-op- This is new for us over the past few months.  B is really enjoying it.  We get together with other homeschool families and classes are offered.  B has dabbled in guitar, origami, science experiments, and had a tea party.  This week, he wants to learn sign language and do some more science experiments.  Fun!

AWANAS-  I can't say enough about this program.  It is the highlight of B's week.  He gets to play games, memorize scripture, learn about God's word, and fellowship with friends.  I am amazed at his biblical knowledge for such a little guy.

Calendar Time- We used to do calendar every day, but now we reserve it for the days Jilly is having school with us.  She attends a preschool a couple days a week. We use calendar time to discuss the weather, add numbers to our number chart,  and count by ones, twos, fives, and tens.  We use it to learn place value, money, days of the week, and months of the year.  When Jilly is with us, we read from a children's Bible.

Literature- Erik and I read to B and Jilly a lot.  This year, we've read Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Boxcar Children, a book about Alladin, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Greek mythology, The Littles, and a few others.  I love those moments of snuggling up and getting lost in a book.

Field Trips- Occasionally, we need a change of scenery and decide to go an adventure.  We've visited the zoo, the nature trail, museums, the Discovery center, and sometimes just the park.  Consider it recess. :)  Homeschooling is portable.  There;s so much to learn from God's creation.  Sometimes it's nice to close the books and experience it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Leaving Egypt for Good....or How I am like the Israelites

B was talking with me tonight about Moses and the Israelites.  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt...out of bondage.  First, they were happy and rejoicing.  Then, after a while, when things weren't going the way they wanted, they began to complain and become bitter against Moses and turned their backs on God.  I always thought, wow, after everything God had done for them?  After all they'd seen?  He freed them!  Moses led them.  B said, "The people thought that one with the stick (Moses) was making things worse."  My mind had a hard time wrapping around that.

That is, until I started thinking about B's journey.  I realized I have a lot in common with the grumbling Israelites.  For a while, I had been thinking, what if we never knew about B's allergies?  Wouldn't life be simpler?  Stress free?  Ignorance is bliss.  If I had known Dr. B was going to test B that very first appointment (and known the outcome), would I have gone?  When I see kids that show the telltale signs of food allergy and their parents do not their life better?  More relaxed?

God gave the Israelites manna.  It literally fell from the sky.  They had the assurance that they wouldn't go hungry.  "Who will give us meat to eat?  We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" (Numbers 11:4-6)

God gave us the tools to heal B.  He gave us the ability to afford the foods that B needs.  He has provided so much and I sound like the Israelites.  "When can we eat like normal people?  I remember the restaurant trips, the pizzas, the birthday cake, the potluck dinners.  Now there is nothing at all except all this organic produce, gluten free grains, and free range buffalo, emu, and elk."  Ha!  When I look at it like that...what a whiner I have been!  God has been so good!

God promised to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land.  They started to doubt, to become blind to God's providence.  All this time God has been healing Bry, I started to doubt, to complain, to focus on how hard the journey is.  I started to become blind to God providence.  He's brought B so far, so far that B's PANDAS is becoming less apparent.  Why was I complaining?  Yes, the journey is tough....but isn't that what makes the destination sweeter?  B was in bondage to his illness, his allergies, his sensitivities, his fear, OCD, tics.  Little by little God has healed these things, is still healing them.  Why in the world would I complain and look longingly back at life before we knew?  Just like the the Israelites looking longingly back at their slavery in Egypt.

I'm looking forward now, and thanking God for the journey.  Thanking Him for guiding us and providing for us.  Thanking Him for loving B and watching over him.  I'm done wallowing.  Done.  God has been so, so good to us.  It's time He is given the glory!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Highschool or Facebook?

She makes me uncomfortable.  I don't need that.  *Unfriend*
Wow.  She really needs to get a grip.  I can't even deal with that kind of crazy.  *Unfriend*
I know she's family, but only distantly, and darn if she doesn't just ruin my rose colored glasses. *Unfriend*

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  On the one hand, I love staying in touch with friends.  Through facebook, I've started a support group for families dealing with food allergies.  The people in the group have been a tremendous help to me.  There are Christian Homeschooling groups, biomed groups, mothering groups.  So much support!  And lets face it, when you are a stay at home, homeschooling mom, your opportunity for socializing with other adults is slim.

Have you ever had one of those awkward phases of life?  Where everything you said and did just didn't fit in?  For me, it was 7th grade till, I don't sophomore year of high school? I still cringe when I think of some of the things I said and did trying to fit in, only to look more out of place trying too hard.  One thing was apparent in that atmosphere.  If you didn't conform, you were not cool.  (Okay, so 'cool' is probably not a word anyone uses anymore, so insert whatever the kids are saying now.)  So, the last three years of high school were spent making poor choices to finally fit in.  Trading what I knew was right for what was not good...but was popular.

I feel like I'm there again, that fork in the road.  But this time, I absolutely cannot trade my values to fit in.  I can't trade our experience for acceptance.  If I am quiet about it, I will be well loved.  If I continue to speak out, I will continue to be judged.  

Here is the truth.  I wish somebody would have been brave enough to speak to me before I had children.  I wish I had known the other side.  I wish people weren't scared to share their experiences.  If nobody talks, nothing changes.

Our world tells me I am selfish because it's my civic duty to protect the greater good.  For those who believe that, I would tell you that it is selfish to believe that you are entitled to the health of my children.  God placed them in my care.  That is not selfish, it is taking care of the children God blessed us with.  

I am still learning.  I am still trying to sort it all out.  If who you see is a 'crazy' mom, then please do us both a favor and click the *unfriend* feature on Facebook.  You don't need my posts to ruin your day and I honestly don't need the judgment.  Just know what you don't see.  The private messages, the children healing because of information other mothers (and fathers) have shared, the friends needing advice...needing support.  You do not see behind the scenes.  You do not hear the stories.  You have not met the children affected.  I have.

Even if my knees are shaking, I'm going to remain the geeky (is that word used anymore?) girl who stands by her convictions.  I believe I'll risk getting kicked off the Friends List.


Friday, February 1, 2013

A Little Bit of Happy

Just a quick update before we start school for the day.

1. Bry is gaining weight!  Can I get a Hallelujah? Woot! :)

2. I've realized we've had more good days lately, than bad.  His tics are so much better.  Even when he has a bad day, good days follow quickly after.

3. He is sleeping a lot.  I'm so thankful for homeschooling because today he slept till 10:30.  I've noticed that his sleeping usually correlates with tremendous healing.  I welcome that sleep!

4. B is reading so much now.  Every book he brings to me, he's able to read with some help for the really big words.  When I read to him, he's asking me to point out specific words.  He's reading over my shoulder.  Last night, as I was reading, he said, "Mommy, I found the word 'knocker!'  Um....knocker has a silent 'k.' How awesome that he found that word out of all the words!

And now a little update on Jilly.

1. She's still adorable as ever.  She's telling me her letter sounds and likes to count for me.  She also likes to 'write' books. Today she 'wrote' a musical about fruits and vegetables.  It was a hoot!

2. She's a little mommy and is always playing 'babies.'  Right now, they are lined up in the hallway in cradles, highchairs, strollers, and shopping carts.  She says she's having a yard sale.  Ha!

3. She's having some dental work done next week and will be sedated. :(  I'm not looking forward to it, but it's unavoidable.  We would certainly appreciate prayer that it goes smoothly and that there are no complications.

That's what is going on in our busy life.  I'm so happy with B's healing even in the middle of flu season.  I'm also thankful that the awful flu seems to have skipped over our family.  *knock on wood*  I'm definitely counting our blessings!  It seems the clouds have lifted for now and we are relishing the sunshine.