Thursday, July 30, 2009

Juvenile Xanthogranuloma

You've probably noticed the orange spots beneath Little Bean's eyes and spread across his cheeks. If you haven't, this pic is one of the clearest pictures I have of the spots (it also happens to be one of my all time favorite pictures of him!). :)

When Little Bean was about two, he started to develop very small orange spots around and under his eyes and on his eyelids. Our doctor didn't know what they were, so she referred us to a specialist--a pediatric dermatologist. It took a few months to get in to see the derm, and in that time, the marks were growing fairly rapidly. Of course, we were all concerned that it was something serious, and were anxious to see the derm in person. The derm felt that a biopsy was needed to make a diagnosis, so at two and a half, Little Bean was put under and a punch biopsy was done on the largest portion of the marks. This picture doesn't really show, but on the larger of the marks is a flesh colored, indented circle where the biopsy was done. It was supposed to be only a tiny line scar, but unfortunately, Bean pulled the stitches out in his sleep, and so now it is a much bigger, circular scar.

It was determined that Little Bean has Juvenile Xanthogranuloma, which is basically juvenile acne. It can affect children on any part of the body, usually the arms, legs or stomach, and rarely (like in Bean's case), the face. It does not hurt or itch, it is not contagious, it is not harmful to him in any way, and it is only semi-permanent. It can take up to 10 years to disappear, but the doctor did say that there is no way to predict how long he will have it, and how much it will grow. It is untreatable.

Little Bean doesn't remember his life without his "magic dot", so to him, when he looks in the mirror, "that orange thing" is just a part of his face. I'm so thankful that so far he hasn't been hurt by the questions of others, and that he can accept his looks and be happy about them despite the curious, and often hurtful questions of others. However, as he grows and becomes more self aware, I do wonder if there is anything I can do or say to prevent others from constantly pointing out his "magic dot" or to help Bean feel comfortable answering questions about it.

There are three situations where it normally gets pointed out, and I have pretty much figured out how to respond to the first two at least. Here are the scenarios that we often (I'll say at least weekly) encounter:

1) Another child points it out--"What's that orange stuff on your face?"

2) Another adult points it out--"Oh, honey! What happened to your face?! Did you fall and get hurt?"

3) Those who are already familiar with what it is (family and friends) point it out in his presence by asking me questions like, "Is it growing?", "When will it go away?", "Do you have to be careful about it in the sun?" etc, etc.

At first it made me really uncomfortable to talk about it in front of him, and I never knew what to say without going into a long story, but then I realized that he takes his cues from me. If I am comfortable with his face, so is he. So how I respond, I realized, is SO important. Since I realized this, my response is always something along the lines of, "Oh, that's Bean's birthmark. (even though it isn't a birthmark, that is just the most understandable way to explain what it is). He calls it his magic dot. It's magic because every time I see it I just want to give him a big kiss!" and then I proceed to smother him in "well-placed" kisses. The magic dot thing actually came from Bean. One day he came up to me and asked, "Mom, do I have a dot on my face"? I thought he was asking if he had "eye goo" or something because it was morning, but I couldn't see any, so I asked him where he saw it. He went over to the mirror and pointed out his biopsy scar, which is indeed dot shaped. I reminded him of the story of him going to the doctors and how they took a piece of skin and then sewed him back up. He responded with the question, "Is it my magic dot"? I thought that was a great way to describe it, so ever since then that is what we have called it.

I always wonder why people feel free to comment on this in front of Little Bean. We would never comment on an adult's appearance in their presence, so I don't see why people think it is appropriate to comment on a child's appearance. I also wonder how I can teach Little Bean to respond to these questions on his own and how I can protect him from feeling hurt or self-conscious when other's make these comments and ask questions.

Any advice? Anyone been through something like this?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Look At Them Go!

Total proud mom moment here. The kids are almost finished with their swimming lessons, and both have learned so much! I can tell that they will both still need lessons again next year, but they have progressed quite a bit over the last few weeks, and both are swimming!

Here's Little Bean working on his kickers:
Both kids learning how to make their way across the pool by scooting with their arms along the side:
Here Miss O is jumping in and then turning around and swimming to the side:
Miss O happily waiting for her turn while the teacher works with Little Bean:
Little Bean FINALLY figured out his arms in the last two days. What an accomplishment!
Here's Miss O swimming to the side:
And floating:
Having swim 4 days a week has been really taxing on our schedule, but in the end, it was worth it to see the pride on their faces as they learn these important life skills. I wish we had access to a pool outside of swim lessons so that they could practice their new "moves" once swim lessons are over.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Little Bean's First Lego Creation



Little Bean made his first tiny Lego car the other day. He was so pleased with himself, and I was pleasantly surprised by his attention to detail. You'll notice this is a luxury style sedan comeplete with windshield, steering wheel, front and rear passenger seats, plenty of buttons for the driver to push as well as front and rear cup holders! ;)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Poking Fun





So, Miss O has been terrible about eating her fruits lately. I decided that maybe a little poking would make eating them more fun, so the other day we tried this: I gave each of the kids a tooth pick and a bowl of grapes. They had fun poking the grapes and popping them into their mouths. Miss O even decided her's was a lollipop and was licking it! :) Then she decided to put a grape on each end and eat it that way. Later, we tried it with blueberries, but I can picture it with other foods too (cheese, bananas, etc). This may not be appropriate for the younger ages due to the sharp toothpicks, but for my 3 and 4 year old, it was a lot of fun, and a great way to spice up meal time. Oh, and don't mind the shirtlessness of the kids; it's been hot around here!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tot School--Special Edition

Tot School went a little differently than usual this week. Remember how I said a while back that I was setting up the workbox system for the kids for school in the fall? Well, it's finished, and the kids have been dying to try it out. We use our office/guest room for the school room, and the kids have been constantly in there looking to see if anything is in the boxes. One night, I decided to fill the boxes just to kind of see how long it would take me to plan every night, and in the morning, both kids were begging to "do school". So, I thought, why not? If anything, it'll get them used to the system for the fall.

We did school activities twice this week using the workbox system, and it's been going pretty well. Ironically, the "fun" boxes have been the only ones the kids complained about. I guess I'm not that good at picking fun activities! I'm trying really hard though! ;) They actually look forward to the ones filled with curriculum stuff instead!?!

Here are some pictures of the boxes filled for the next time we do a school session. Blogger is being a bit stubborn tonight, so the pics aren't exactly in the order I would like them, but you get the idea.

Here's a close up of Bean's shelf with the top three boxes pulled out to see what is inside. I got the numbers from Sue's site, and made the "work with mom" tags myself, using clipart from Word:
Here is a shot of Bean's whole shelf. We are only doing 7 boxes on this day. The tag on #1 is a circle time tag, meaning the three of us will work together on this one:
Here's Miss O's shelf:
And Miss O's shelf and desk. The desks came from an online furniture retailer called Hertz. I looked into getting a kid's table instead, but it was actually much cheaper to do it this way (plus, the desks will grow with them, as the legs extend):
And here's Bean's desk and shelf. The shelves and boxes came from Target. The white rectangle you see on the desk is his "game board". It's where the numbers on the boxes go when he finishes a box. When all the numbers are on the board, he knows he is done with school (all of this is in Sue's book, so be sure to head over there and purchase it if this interests you at all):

Blog Roll

Feel free to check out my blog roll up on the navigation bar! Please let me know if you aren't listed and would like to be, you are listed but are miscategorized, or if you find a missing or broken link. Thanks!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Changing the Layout

Yes, I am once again changing the layout. I am bound and determined to figure out how to make my blog as pretty as some of the others that I frequent without paying someone else to do it. I also really wanted to create a navigation bar and clean up my sidebars a bit. After a lovely day alone (while dh took the kids to the beach), I think I've finally figured some of it out. Now the only thing left (okay, maybe not the only thing!) ;) is to figure out how to put dividing lines between my side columns. Anyone know how?

What do you think of the new look?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Can Anyone Tell Me Why?

I've noticed that when I follow other people's blogs, my photo never shows up on their follower list. It just shows up as a white box with an X in it. I thought maybe my photo was corrupted or something, so I changed it, but it still shows up this way. It's viewable on my profile. Anyone know why this is happening?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Noticing Gender Differences

Another sensitive topic here. We've been bathing Little Bean (4) and Miss O (3) together since Miss O was born, mostly out of convenience (and because they like to play together). But recently, both of them have been asking and noticing more about each other's bodies during bath time or when one of them is going potty. I've always been very matter of fact about things when they ask questions. I try to be honest, but not reveal more than is needed. Two incidents lately have shocked and surprised me, and I wasn't sure how to react to them.

1) The other day after a bath, Miss O was hanging out in Little Bean's room while he was getting dressed, and Bean went over to her, squeezed her chest and said, "Look, Miss O, you are growing a chest, just like mom!". I was totally an innocent comment, but I didn't feel comfortable with him feeling free to touch her there.

2) The kids have an obsession with playing house, and often play 'baby and mommy' or 'baby and daddy'. Once, when they were really little (Miss O was still in diapers), I caught Little Bean opening her diaper while playing, and it really weirded me out, so I have always told them not to change each other's "diapers" when playing house. I told them that today, and a few minutes later, I walked in, and Miss O was like, "Mom, Bean showed me his peeper and I didn't like that!". Little Bean immediately followed that with, "I touched Miss O's pee pee spot and she touched my peeper". When I took them aside separately, Miss O said (and showed) me where Little Bean touched her, but said she didn't touch him. Little Bean insisted that she did, but seemed confused when I asked him to explain how the situation played out. So, I'm not really sure what really happened. Sigh...I really didn't know how to react.

I know that:

1) I don't want them to ever feel ashamed of their own bodies or to think that touching any part of their own bodies is shameful or wrong

2) I don't want them thinking it's okay to touch other people's private parts or that it's okay for other people to touch their private parts.

But my problem is that I didn't know what to say to make both of those points clear without making them feel bad. I'm also wondering if I should start bathing them separately or if it's still alright for them to see each other naked. DH doesn't like either of them to see him using the restroom or naked, while I am okay with the restroom and if it's the same gender, being naked. But with each other, we really haven't imposed any privacy, unless they ask for privacy, which they sometimes do.

In the above to instances, I ended up just taking them aside separately and trying to explain how they should not touch other's private parts and how they shouldn't let anyone touch theirs unless it's a trusted adult, and only then if it's for help with the potty. I also said that it isn't wrong for them to touch themselves if they are curious, but they should do it when they are alone. I didn't know how to explain why this is though. I don't know if it was awkward for them or not, or if I said the right things in the end. I know I can't watch them every second and keep up with the rest of my responsibilities in the home, so it's important to me that they can be trusted alone together, so I am hoping I made things clear to them about what is appropriate and what isn't.

What would you do in this situation? And when should they stop bathing together (or is that even related to this)?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Swimming

Miss O and Little Bean have been busy this summer with swimming lessons. We go four days a week for semi-private lessons at the home of a church friend, and the kids are learning a lot!

Miss O is very good at floating; she can float for minutes on end without assistance. She is also making progress in swimming to and from the side of the pool. She is still crying a little bit when her turn comes to go one on one with the teacher, but she is definitely starting to enjoy her lessons more each time we go.

Little Bean is trying very hard each lesson. He doesn't cry at all, and usually has a smile on his face when he comes up out of the water. He has always struggled with his gross motor skills, and it shows during his swim lessons. He has a very hard time remembering to use small kickers, big arms, to blow bubbles, and to keep his head down all at one time. He is also still very nervous on his back. However, he is enjoying it, and that is a big stride from the first few days in the pool! ;)

We will continue for a few more weeks before they finish up their lessons. The teacher says that they both will be "pool safe" by the end of their lessons, meaning that that can swim across the pool and find the side and get themselves up, or if they get tired, they can flip over and rest on their backs until they are ready to swim and find the side again. Exciting!

Are your little ones learning to swim this summer? How important do you think learning to swim is?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tot School

Miss O is 36 months old.
This week in Tot School:

Miss O colored:
She and Little Bean tried out these squeezable paints that Miss O received as a birthday present from some family friends:
She worked with this Guidecraft mystery puzzle:
And she worked with her magna doodle:
Miss O and Little Bean played with these puppets my mom got at Michael's Craft Store several months ago: Miss O was really into playdough this week. She was loving cutting the dough into tiny "cookies" for me to "eat":
Here she is playing with Legos. The house you see in the picture was built by her:
They asked to play with TJ Bearytales, which is like the Teddy Rukspin of this generation:
They sorted counting bears. This has been a favorite this week:
And finally, Miss O reading a Froggy book we checked out from the library:
Be sure to check out more Tot School posts at www.1plus1plus1equals1.blogspot.com

Friday, July 17, 2009

Schedule

Another thing I've been thinking a lot about besides curriculum choices is setting a more structured schedule. I shared in another post that we are going to use Sue Patrick's Workbox System (www.workboxsystem.com). I still plan to post pictures of our system, but I'm not totally done organizing it yet, so that will have to wait. But, if you know anything about her system, you can predict what the pictures will look like, because I pretty much followed her advice to a T. ;)

In the workbox system, each child is given a set of numbered boxes (we are using about 8 per child). In each box are all the materials the child needs to complete one portion of their schoolwork for the day. Some boxes are work with mom boxes and others are meant for the child to complete alone. Interspersed between the more difficult boxes should be educational, fun, activities to kind of break up the monotony and provide the child with motivation to finish his work in order to get to the "fun stuff". There's more to it, but that's the gist of it.

In order to figure out our schedule, I used a grid showing the days of the week along the top and the numbers representing each workbox down the side. I filled out one grid per child and did this simultaneously so that I could plan for one child to be working alone while I was working one on one with the other child. Interspersed between that were activities that the three of us would participate in together. Here is what their days will look like:

Little Bean's boxes:
1. HWT Tears, Pre-K--all together
2. 100 Lessons--work with mom
3. A color/cut/paste activity or craft OR free reading--work alone
4. Right Start Math
5. Game or Puzzle OR circle time/bible/social studies work--all together
6. Handwriting Without Tears, Kindergarten workbook--this would sometimes be work with mom and other times be alone
7. Science OR BOB book OR Explode the Code--work with mom
8. Sentence School--work with mom

Miss O's boxes:
1. Handwriting Without Tears, Pre-K--all together
2. Color/Cut/Paste/Craft OR free reading--alone
3. Handwriting Without Tears workbook OR Explode the Code Workbook--work with mom
4. 10 to 15 minute Tot School activity
5. Game/Puzzle OR circle time/bible/social studies work--together
6. Free Reading OR Tactile activity--alone
7. Tactile OR fine motor activity--alone

--We will have a four day school week because our Wednesdays are filled with playgroup and Gymboree drop off, both of which are really important to me in terms of developing their socialization, gross motor, and independence skills.

--When you see OR on the list it doesn't mean they get to choose between activities, it indicates that on the weekly schedule it will alternate (ie. we will have circle time every other day, and on the alternate day we will play a game together).

Also, for both math and 100 Lessons I plan to do half of one lesson per day, so two full lessons of each per week for a four day week.

I anticipate about 10 to 20 minutes per box, and have organized them so that Miss O will be working on more lengthy activities when I am trying to work with Little Bean on more than one box in a row, so that is why she has one less box than he does. I'm hoping that having plenty of interesting work for her to do will give me more uninterrupted time to work with him on some of the work with mom boxes.

--I anticipate spending about 1.5 to 2.5 hours a day doing school work, however, I am not a hyper-structured person (I prefer some flexibility), so I won't be scheduling to the hour or allocating certain amounts of time per box/subject. Also, we have Gymboree on Monday mornings as well, so on that day our school time would be in the afternoon, while on Tues, Thurs, and Fri it would ideally be in the morning.



So, that's my plan in a nutshell. I'll definitely be updating how things are going once we start (which will be in early September).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Curriculum Choices

So, I finally picked out and ordered our curriculum for next year. I've noticed that a bunch of the mom bloggers that I keep up with who have Kindergarten/Pre K kids are using free online curriculum or just making their own curriculum; props to you mommas! I am not that creative, nor do I have the desire to sort through and plan all of my curriculum choices from scratch. I'm overwhelmed enough as it is being new to homeschooling, that I really wanted to purchase curriculum for the upcoming year. Also, knowing how particular I am, I doubt I'd be happy with the free choices available (though they are probably great, I'm just too picky for that!). Altogether, though I did take cost into consideration, our curriculum did cost us a fair amount of money. I console myself by remembering that 1)Miss O can use it all next year, and 2) if I weren't homeschooling, they would be in preschool/Pre K/private school (the PS system here is not the best), so I would be spending WAY more to send them to school each day than I spent on their curriculum. That was probably a really unnecessary paragraph, lol, but there it is anyway! ;)

So for Miss O I kept things really simple. I chose:

Handwriting Without Tears, Pre K for letters, shapes, colors and number recognition as well as for beginning handwriting;

and

Get Ready, Get Set and Go for the Code (Explode the Code, Books A, B and C) for letter recognition, letter names and sounds, and pre-reading activities.

In addition to this, I plan to provide her with plenty of hands-on, open ended, tactile experiences, read-alouds, a regular circle time, crafts, and plenty of Tot School activities.

For Little Bean I chose:

Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten (he will participate alongside Miss O in her Pre-K book for review as well) for his handwriting curriculum.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Explode the Code Book 3 and 3.5, and Bob Books Set Two for reading. As many of you know, we are halfway through 100 Lessons, and are taking an extended break. Interestingly, Little Bean continues to ask about doing our lessons, even though we have agreed to stop for a while. My plan is to use 100 Lessons alongside ETC and Bob Books to provide a more interactive, gentle approach to reading instruction for Bean. I'll intersperse these three pieces of curriculum throughout the school week to give him a break from 100 Lessons and to make the reading more fun for him.

Sentence School for Grammar. This is a brand new program made by the same people who put out Handwriting Without Tears. I've had a chance to view it on their site, and it seems like something I want to introduce to Little Bean this coming year.

Right Start Math, Level A for math. We have had this for a long time, and use parts of it from time to time. My plan is to do half a lesson per day, so for a four day week that's two lessons a week. With this schedule, we would have no problem finishing Level A in a school year.

McRuffy Science, Kindergarten for Science. I spent a whole lot of time on homeschoolreviews.com reviewing homeschooling curriculum (this is my new favorite hobby, lol), and while there were only a few reviews for this science program, I visited the site where they have sample lessons available and I thought it would be perfect for Little Bean. When I received it in the mail and looked through it, I am absolutely certain he will LOVE this science program.

In addition to these, I want to allow Little Bean plenty of free reading time, time for open-ended, dramatic play as well as social time with the family and friends.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning About Death

Yes, this is a heavy topic for a homeschooling/craft blog, but I thought I would share a bit of a conversation Little Bean and I had this morning. First, I want to say that we have not intentionally spoken to our kids about death and dying, but have been more than forthright with them when they ask questions or when it's necessary to talk about death and what happens when someone or something dies.

A few months ago, Little Bean began to really understand the difference between living and dead animals. He began to notice when bugs were dead. We've had several fish who have died, and this last one (just a few weeks ago), we had a little funeral for and buried it in our backyard. We each said something nice about "Betty" and made a little rock pile above her grave. This was eye-opening for Little Bean, and he talked about her and her funeral for a while after that.

This morning Little Bean (out of nowhere) asked if humans could die, and of course, I wasn't going to lie, so I told him that all humans would die, that all living things will die at some point. He didn't believe me at first, and thought I was joking (we joke a lot around here), but when he realized that I was being serious, he started to cry. He kept asking and asking whether it was true, and I would explain to him that all things will die at some point, and that is why I buckle him in his car seat to keep him safe, etc.

I'm so grateful and thankful that we belong to the Christian faith, because without it, I really don't know how I would comfort Little Bean about the thought of people he loves dying. I was able to tell him that while his body would die someday, that because he believes in Jesus and salvation through Him, that after his body dies, his mind and heart, and all those things that he feels, the "real" him, will live forever in heaven with God. He kept asking me, "Our body will die, but then God will make us alive again, right?" And I'm so glad I can tell him yes to that question. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tot School

Lots of games in Tot School this week. I used to keep all of our "educational" games up on a high shelf in the playroom, but this week I moved them all to the guest room closet on a low shelf. The kids wanted to try out every product in there when they saw the closet open like that. :)

Here, Miss O is sorting bears. I picked these up at the thrift store this week for less than two dollars! She and Bean sorted, counted, and made patterns, but for the most part, they just used them to pretend and make up stories. :)
Miss O inserting coins into our cash register. She really enjoyed this, and I am hoping some of the coin names will sink in.
Here she is with an animal matching game--another thrift store find, but we've had this one for a while. Also, it appears to be some sort of "happy meal" toy from Rubios:
This is a simple alphabet game I made up for the kids to play using our foam alphabet puzzles from Michael's Craft Store:
Here they are playing color and shape Bingo. This is a Leap Frog game, and it comes with multiple spinners and bingo cards for different educational skills (shapes, colors, animals, numbers, even addition).
This is a really interesting activity where the kids had to sort the shapes onto rods according to the pattern on the card. The one Miss O is doing is simply a color sort, which she found pretty challenging because she was following the pattern on a card, rather than just adding to an existing sort (I hope that made sense!), but there are 15 or so different types of sorting and patterning activity cards for this game. This one came from a teaching supply store.
Candyland. Miss O threw a fit when every card she turned over wasn't a "special" card. She still ended up winning, but would rather have just pulled the special cards each turn! ;)
Eric Carle's ABC game. I believe we got this two Christmas's ago from my parents. We have never played it just because it comes with a ton of cards that all have to be laid out beside the game board. It's very cute, but as for the fun factor, I wasn't impressed, and neither were the kids. :(
Here Miss O is playing with a three part alphabet puzzle. This came from Ross:
And lastly, her doorbell dollhouse, by Melissa and Doug. I got this one used on ebay. She absolutely loves it! This was a birthday present from us--each of the four sides has a door with a lock and matching numbered key as well as a different sounding doorbell. Miss O is rewarded for finding the right key and opening the lock when she finds a tiny doll inside each door.
Be sure to check out other Tot School posts on this website!

I Love the Follow Widget!

No, this isn't a shameless plug asking you to become my follower (though I would be delighted if you did so!). I'm posting about this because lately I have found so many great blogs who use blogger, but who don't have the follower widget on their page. I am always giddy when I can become a follower of a new blog that I am enjoying because it means I can keep up with each new post without having to visit the blog each day and find out if anything new is written (any new posts people make show up on my dashboard).

So if you have a blog hosted by blogger, why not use the follower widget? You can be sure that I for one will be following you! ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chapter Books

I often read on other blogs how moms are enjoying reading chapter books with their little ones (usually the 3's and 4's). I decided to give this a try with Little Bean a month or two ago, and really, it was a total flop.

Two problems:

First, the themes are too advanced for my comfort level. I chose Charlotte's Web, which I remember being pretty benign, but within the first few chapters there are references to Fern's brother and his toy weapons and to slaughtering animals in the hog house. Now, I know the theme of Charlotte's Web IS about death--Charlotte giving her life to help a friend, which I think is a wonderful theme, but I ended up feeling uncomfortable with how the book made me face these complex concepts with Bean when he was so young.

Second, I found that while he liked to listen to me reading, (I think he just liked the changes in my voice and tone as I read), he didn't really comprehend much of what was going on. Without pictures to aid him, and with many new words, he was at a loss for what the story was really about.

I guess I'll try chapter books in another few months. Anyone else come across this problem when trying chapter books with your 3 or 4 year old?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Miss O's Felt Food

Some of you may remember I made a few pieces of felt food ages ago for the kid's play kitchen. My "dream" was to replace all their plastic food with high quality, homemade felt food, and on Miss O's birthday, that became a reality!

My dear, sweet, talented mom ordered several felt sewing patterns from ebay, and surprised Miss O with a whole range of beautiful felt food as a birthday gift. I just have to show off her skills, so here are a few pics of the foods my mom sewed up for Miss O!

Aren't these just SO cute???










Thursday, July 9, 2009

Teaching Little Bean to Read--Update #3

Ironically, several days ago I scheduled out a post with my third update on teaching Little Bean to read, and it (due to the glitch in scheduled posting with Blogger right now) finally published this morning. I decided to take it down and rewrite it, because since I wrote it, I have come to some realizations about this curriculum and our reading experience and my plans have changed.

Since my last update, things have been going pretty well with the reading lessons; other than a few minor complaints about the content and structure of the reading lessons in 100 lessons, we have been moving along at a good pace and doing relatively well. However, in the last few days Little Bean has really be struggling again with the lessons, and I feel like my eyes have finally been opened to the true problem.

The problem isn't with this book or the structure of the book, it isn't with Little Bean, it's with me. I know Little Bean is bright; I know he is so smart for his age, and in my desire to see him meet his full potential, I've assumed that the struggles we've been having have somehow been the curriculum's fault for being too dry and repetitive, or Little Bean's fault for complaining and whining during lessons. But what I've recently realized is that the problem actually lies with me--with me pushing too hard for something to work that was simply too hard for him.

In every learning experience there will be a learning curve, an initial hump that you have to get over and then learning can be fun and you can experience sucess. The problem with this book is that Little Bean has never been able to get over the initial curve. This program progresses very quickly, and Little Bean scarcely has a chance to feel success before he reaches a new problem to figure out and learn. The result has been a lot of frustration for all of us, and it has left Little Bean feeling like he isn't sucessful.

I've decided to put this book away for a while. I may try something else to continue to teach him, or I may just give both of us some time off, time to mature, time to practice what he already knows, and to really gain mastery in the phonics rules he has already learned. I really don't know what we will do from here, but I know we won't be opening 100 lessons tomorrow, or next week, or probably even next month.

We need a break. All of us. From this book, from the constant struggle to learn the material. It's been such an emotional roller coaster, teaching him to read. For weeks it will go extremely well, and I feel so lucky to be the one teaching him this important life skill. Then we have days like today (and yesterday), and I have to sit back and wonder about the choices I am making, how they are affecting him, and whether I am making the right decisions for his life.

I truly appreciate comments from my readers, but I will ask that for this one post if you could refrain from giving advice at this point that would be greatly appreciated. I am only looking for support and encouragement regarding this post. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baggie Butterfly

Another craft from our circle time book, Sing! Play! Create! To make this butterfly finger puppet, simply cut out decorative paper or use pom-poms, sequins or jewels and stuff them into a zipping sandwich bag. Cinch the bag in the center and use a twist tie to make a body, antennae, and a "ring" for a finger to fit into. Simple, quick, and cute. Instant finger puppets! My kids loved these! We talked about the life cycle of a butterfly, and how butterflies taste with their feet so that they can instantly know whether pr not there is food on the surface that they land on and save time and energy as they search for their suppers. The kids thought it was hilarious and wondered what it would be like if they could taste with their feet. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tot School--Better Late Than Never

Tot School

Lately I've been really lazy with the picture taking for Tot School, and this week I am actually 3 days late in posting my Tot School post. Ah! I need to get back in the game, I guess! Not to mention that I had a bunch of posts scheduled out last week, and for some reason none of them posted. I am now having to go through and check to make sure the scheduled posts actually published each day, which pretty much defeats the purpose of scheduled posting. Anyone else having this issue with blogger of late?

We had a pretty laid back week in Tot School. Miss O turned 3 this week, so the highlight of our week was making, frosting and eating cupcakes! :)


Miss O frosting her cupcake:

She was SO into pouring and mixing:
Here she is pouring in the oil:
Bean poured the mix:
Miss O reading:
Making 'O's on the Magna Doodle:
Silly Putty:
This is a brand new "old" game I picked up for 50 cents at the thrift store. The cards hadn't even been opened, but it looked like something made in the 80's! This is a Lutheran produced family communication game. The basic idea is that the players get to choose a colored card on their turn and answer the question on the card, then move their game piece. The questions are related to building each other up as a family, opening the lines of communication, building confidence, and talking about hard or important questions. The kids both really loved this game!
Miss O made a snake sock puppet:
Finally, Miss O using the dry erase board:
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