Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
When I decided to switch Little Bean over, I was looking back at the lessons in 100 Lessons and just seeing what he knew and where he had come from so that I could figure out where to start him in OPG. I realized that some of the really early lessons in 100 EZ were easy enough for Miss O, and just on a whim decided to do one with her one day. Well, she liked it--a lot! So, we have started making our way through 100 Lessons, and she is already on lesson 21 (it's been about a month now). I really can't believe it myself, because I had such a hard time with this book with Little Bean. I really wasn't planning to even think about starting her until she turns four, if then, but she really has taken to the format, so I am going to continue with her as long as she is enjoying it.
Maybe it has to do with having Little Bean as a role model too. He reads us a BOB Book or a Now I'm Reading Primer each night at bedtime, and since starting her lessons, Miss O has asked if SHE could read a BOB book at bedtime! I had her do Book 2 in set one, "Sam" tonight, and she actually did really well! She is just getting the hang of blending, but she is moving right along! I'm so pleased, and hoping this will be a much easier experience for her than it was with Little Bean.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
When Miss O was still a tiny baby, my dh and I were attending a couples Bible study and one of the couples shared with our group about their struggles with infertility. They had tried IVF several times, but couldn't get pregnant. We had known this couple for a long while, but because they didn't have kids, we weren't as close as we were to some of the other couples. We were just at different life stages.
I honestly felt they were selfish for being so persistant about the fertility treatments. I thought, "Why don't they JUST adopt!?". I'm ashamed now to think of my judgemental heart, but it came from never having struggled to have kids, from ignorance about the pain of infertility. Obviously there is nothing wrong with adoption at all, BUT it is a personal choice, and who am I to say whether it is right or not for any particular couple?? Thankfully, I kept my terrible thoughts to myself, so at least I didn't hurt them by saying something so awful to their faces. Needless to say, over a period of months, God broke my heart for this couple, and for their situation. I finally came to the conclusion that my fertility was a huge gift, that my kids themselves were a gift beyond comprehension, and if I could help this couple in any way, that I wanted to do that. I did some research on gestational surrogacy and spoke with my husband. Then I offered undergo in-vitro fertilization for the purpose of carrying their genetic child and handing it over upon its' birth; this is called gestational surrogacy.
Long story short, after spending about 9 months talking and preparing, we cycled once and it worked on the first try. I gave birth to their beautiful boy/girl twins in December of 2008, just before I started this blog! They are just over a year now, and a joy to behold! Through this amazing couple, I met yet another couple going through infertility issues, who now also go to our Bible study!
I never thought I'd do another surrogacy, but just 4 months after delivering the twins, I again felt the tug on my heart to work with this new couple. They already had two children from adoption, but desired a large family. Surrogacy was one way that they could do that. We cycled in August of 2009 and it failed. We cycled again in December of 2009 (yes, just last month!), and guess what?!? It worked! I am 8 weeks pregnant with one little baby!
Surrogacy is a huge part of my life, or at least it has been for the last two years. I know it's different, it's not "normal", and not everyone will understand or agree with it. But until you've given yourself a chance to understand and research it, please, don't pass a judgement. Only God can change a human heart, and I was once the one judging my friends, wondering why they didn't "just adopt" (FTR, I don't have ANY problem at all with adoption! Obviously adoption isn't a way that I can help an infertile couple though, is it?).
While I was pregnant with the twins, I got loads of questions, concerns and judgements from others. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me, and I understand a little more now how alienated a couple can feel when others don't understand their struggle to start or grow a family. I can't thank God enough for opening my eyes to this, for helping me to see these people with a fresh outlook, for allowing me to be of some help to them. I'm not sharing this to give myself a big pat on the back, but because I am pregnant again, and hope and pray for your prayers and support through this next surrogate pregancy, for the continued health of the baby that I am carrying. Also, since it is a big part of my life, especially now, while I'm in the midst of another journey, I just felt it'd be easier to share with all of you what's going on with me! I am more than happy to answer any and all questions that you may have, but will delete any inappropriate comments.
I have never uploaded a video on my blog before, so I hope this works! This is a surrogacy video I made after I delivered the twins. It kind of answers some of the questions people were always asking me about concerning surrogacy. If you want to watch, fyi, there is sound, so feel free to take advantage of that! I hope you enjoy it! FYI, most of the pictures are of the parents holding their babies (don't think I look that great after having just delivered twins, lol. It's their mommy who is so pretty! ;) ). I'm the one with the glasses in a few of the pics. And, yes,you'll notice twin B was in the NICU in some of the pictures. She had complications due to the C-section, but is fine now. Twin A came out healthy as can be!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I'm going to do one though, because in reading some of the comments people have made on other blogs in response to a confession post, it seems that some readers form this picture in their minds of how "perfect" this person looks or seems, and some commenters I've seen have even said that they've stopped reading a particular blog because they just got depressed thinking they weren't as "good" as the mom whose blog they were reading. I never want my readers to feel or think that I'm perfect, I'm just a normal person like anyone else. Actually I get that comment a lot, even from real-life friends, so I'm not sure if I put of a "perfect" aura or what, but I'm doing this post to reassure you all that I am just a normal mom, like anyone else and by no means perfect. :) Nor do I want people who read my blog to feel intimidated or think that I have it all together. I do my best, but certainly am still learning as each day goes by.
So here are my confessions.
--My kids get up no earlier than 7am and go to bed no later than 7pm. They have had this same schedule since they were infants, and I will hold onto it as long as I can. I really like my sleep in the am, and don't want to see them before the sun is out. And by the time 7pm rolls around, I am READY for them to be in bed. My mom thinks I'm nuts for making my almost 5 year old go to bed before the sun sets!
--My kids fight--A LOT. They are best friends, don't get me wrong, but it's not uncommon at all to hear comments from them like, "You are the meanest boy in the world, I do not like you" or "Give me that toy or I'm not going to talk to you for a week!". That's not even mentioning the constant tattling, name-calling and sometimes-gasp--violence that ensues between them. I hate that they fight, but I am powerless to stop them. No matter how many heart-to-hearts we have, no matter how many time outs or punishments, things just don't change between them.
--I lose my temper with them often. Every night when I pray for them, I have to pray for myself because they do grate on my nerves and often that leads to me saying something to them out of anger or expressing myself with words that aren't meant to teach, but are spoken purely out of frustration.
--If I don't feel like schooling them one day, even if it's just out of sheer laziness, I just don't. Actually, I don't really mind this about myself, but some people may think that I have this perfect schedule with their schooling and may wonder how I keep it all together. My point is, I don't. If I'm not feeling it, I just don't do it.
--I don't constantly play with my kids. Sometimes I DO hop on my computer when they are playing together, and just let them entertain each other. If I'm overly tired, sometimes I just lay down and rest in a half-sleep while they play. They are getting old enough that I can trust them without complete supervision.
--I actually don't cook all that much. I've got cleaning to where I am alright with my schedule (though my house is cluttered--both Little Bean and his dad are terrible pack rats), but I don't like cooking. Usually, I make dinner for the kids, something simple, and then dh and I either fend for ourselves, one of us will cook something super simple, or we will order in. I'll just be honest and say unless I am on some cooking kick, I generally only cook maybe twice a week.
How's that for a confession post?!? Hope you enjoyed it!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Materials: Set of basic number cards 1 through 9 (4 or 6 of each number), abacus if needed. You can make these cards with just some index cards or pieces of paper, or just print some up.
Play: Deal out five cards to each player. The remaining cards are the "dump pile". Each player first checks their cards to make sure there are no pairs equaling ten. If there are, he lays the pairs down in front of him. The game then proceeds like Go Fish--a player asks another player if he has a particular card that he needs to make a pair that equals ten. If the other player has the desired card, he must give it over; if not, he says, "Go to the dump" and the asking player draws a card. If he draws a match that he needs, he may lay it down right then and then end his turn. If not, his turn is over. The play moves on like this until all the cards are paired. If a player runs out of cards mid-game, he simply draws 5 more at that point. The winner is the one with the most pairs that equal ten. If a player needs help finding out what he needs to finish a pair, he can enter his card on the abacus and see what card is needed. The Right Start curriculum had a few more rules (like only asking the player to the left for a pair), but this seemed simpler and accomplished the same goal.
Such a simple game, but SO helpful for Little Bean to memorize pairs that equal ten. He loved this game so much that he wanted to play it twice during math time, and then said that he wanted to play it again after he finished all his school work for the day. I didn't think he'd hold me to it, but he did! He wanted to play it twice more after school, and using more cards so that one hand would last longer! We played two more games before I finally told him I needed a break. AND--I'm pretty sure he has mostly memorized his combinations of 10 now! :)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
We just finished up Book 1, which was ALL review for him, but it was good practice for him to work totally independently and for his fluency. I already have books 2 and 3, but I just may have to consider this for the rest of the levels after that!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
So in my research I've come across this really fascinating literature-based program called Winter Promise. It has a somewhat Charlette Mason feel with the use of living books, narration, nature study, and notebooking. Their website has a lot of information on it, and they have an official forum so you can ask questions to people who really use their curriculum. Their catalog, which is available for download is incredible!
Winter Promise uses history as the backbone of their curriculum, and then you add on other subjects, like science and language arts. They don't have a math curriculum all their own, but that suits me fine because we love Right Start and are sticking with that for next year as well. From what I've seen browsing, Hideaways in History looks like a theme that Little Bean would love. It uses Story of the World as its' spine, and then comes with a bunch of other living books (picture books and read alouds) that you pull from each day. The student also gets to do some notebooking, creating their own history book with exclusive Winter Promise notebooking pages. Lots of pasting, coloring, cutting, crafty stuff, which I know the kids will love. And the heart of the Hideaways curriculum is just that--for each major period you study, you get to make a hideaway for pretend play, which just solidifies what you've learned as you have fun building and playing in your hideaway. I've read that you do about one hideaway per week!
I'm still looking at my options for science, but Winter Promise has one that compliments Hideaways called The World Around Me that I am interested in. There are no consumables with this curriculum which is great because it means you can use it for more than one child without having to purchase more workbooks for the second child. The child keeps a science journal and does a lot of observation/recording each week. It sounds like a lot of fun, and very doable for a 1st grader.
So that's what's been on my brain lately! I know it's early, call me crazy, but I am a curriculum addict!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The study pointed out that there are three main relationships that are important to a child's development as they grow up. The three are: relationship with God, relationship with parents, and relationship with those outside the home. As parents, so the study said, we have a chance to influence and sometimes even control the nature and quality of these three relationships.
I was so inspired by this point because it was the first time I really understood what it is inside of me that draws me to homeschooling. I've tried to explain it to be people before, and it's never come across quite how I've wanted it to, but now I think I can explain why we homeschool, and why we will continue to homeschool until I feel Little Bean and Miss O are ready to face the big world out there.
We homeschool because I value relationship with my children above certain experiences they may get at a brick and mortar school. I want them to be at home in the early years to gain wisdom and understanding from influences that I trust and that I want them to emulate. When they are at home, I can guide them much more than if they were at school the majority of their day. As parents, I believe we have a responsiblity to them to turn up the relationship dial and make our time together enriching and supportive of the growth of their little minds and hearts.
We homeschool because in doing so we can use our influence in their lives to direct them to God. Certainly those who send their children to school can do that as well. But for us, having them nearby as problems come up, we have many more oppertunities to pray with them, to direct them to God's word and to show them how the Bible would teach us to respond in tough times is so important, that it's crucial.
We homeschool because I want more control (no, I'm not afraid to admit that either), of the friends and peers who influence them. I'm not trying to comepletely shut them off from the world, but I believe a child must be ready to face the world with confidence in knowing the difference between right and wrong and why things are right and wrong. I don't believe my children can face the world alone yet. They need more guidance, more practice in the safety of our home, before they will be able to face the world and maintain their convictions. Right now, they are still building their convictions, and I want to be there to influence their minds and hearts.
Certainly, there are many more reasons we homeschool, including of course, that I like being able to choose the nature and course of their study, that I want to tailor their education to their individual needs, and that I just like being with them! But for me, these are secondary to the relationship aspect, which I find to be such and important part in shaping and guiding them in their growing up years.
Please see this post for an updated answer to this question!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Here is one of our problems: an addend goes in each smaller circle and then Bean needs to find the sum. 4 + 3 is not hard if he uses the abacus, but to do it in his mind he must visualize changing the problem into something he can understand more easily. Remember how Right Start teaches the child to think in terms of "5 and"? (5 and 2 is 7, 5 and 3 is 8, etc). This comes in super handy for doing mental math.
Here is the completed problem 4 +3 = 7. See how easy it is to see the sum without counting? Even if you don't purchase Right Start for your math curriculum, I highly recommend getting an AL abacus from them!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Beginner's Bible cards are geared toward children ages 2 through 8, and there at least 200 or so cards (my guess). It appears to me that they are some kind of "card of the month" type thing that the church must've subscribed to but no longer need. The box contains dividers with names like plants and animals, events, miracles, daily life, and people. The cards are organized by category and then by book of the Bible.
Here's a view of the inside of the box:
Each card has two sides, a story side and a picture side. This photo is of the story side. It has the Bible reference in the top corner, and then has a "did you know" and a "life lesson" portion at the bottom:
On the front of the card is a picture that goes along with the story. There are also a few comprehension questions to ask after reading the back of the card:
Sorry the pics are so dark! Not sure what happened there! SO, how would you use these?? The kids were excited when I pulled them out today, and I let them choose a category and we read through the card. I'm not that creative, and don't know how to use them in a more exciting way. Any ideas??
Friday, January 8, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
We are on Lesson 11 out of 24 now, and I'll just be honest, I'm still waiting for this curriculum to get exciting. The lessons are long, and Little Bean gets tired of them quickly. As a result, we are moving through this program very slowly. We do spelling twice a week, and it takes at least 4 school days to complete a lesson.
Each lesson starts with review of the different flash cards. Sometimes I include this, sometimes I don't. The only reason I don't is that because sometimes, by the time we are done reviewing the cards, Little Bean is burnt out already and doesn't want to actually spell anything! He is not a flashcard person, so that may be part of it.
Following review, usually there are a few little exercises for the child to do. This particular lesson asks the child to count syllables by clapping. Little Bean actually really enjoyed this lesson, and it was probably the first time he showed so much enthusiasm for spelling:
Next, you generally use the letter tiles to spell words. To begin, you and the student work together to alphabetize the tiles. Again, sometimes I just set this up for Bean. He gets bored when we have to spend so much time alphabetizing in order to spell a few words. He'd almost rather just write the words with a dry erase pen and board than set up those tiles! Below you can see how you alphabetize them by singing the abc song:
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Here is the whole lot of them, 6 Mediums, 5 Large, and 19 one size diapers, plus 31 microfiber inserts (not shown): Here are the one size diapers:
She will sell as a set or in groups, priority goes to those who purchase the most. Please use my contact button to contact me about purchasing these diapers or for more details or pictures. Shipping will depend on how many diapers are purchased. Please visit the Bum Genius website for more information on these diapers. Since I have not personally used this brand, I can't answer specifics about their use, sizing or care. These diapers do need some work repairing the elastic in the legs. When you contact me PLEASE include a price you are willing to pay for the diapers (excluding shipping) and I will get back to you.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Each page tells the story of how the little guy in the movie (his name escapes me) earned his badges. This page is all about the gardening badge:
It would've been a lot of fun to try to do some of the badge requirements and add a badge each time he completed an activity, but frankly, he had already dug into the stickers by the time I thought this project up, so it was too late. He may be a little young for that yet as well, and it'd probably not be as exciting if he had to wait for each badge. It would be fun to do something like that with an older kid though. :)