Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lovely bits...

Today is Thanksgiving, at least it is in the USA, so I'm going to list some things that have made me happy and thankful this last week.

My boy did one of the word problems on a restaurant placemat*/menu. It was a secret code type and he had to figure out what the words were. He did it, wrote each letter down then sounded out the word, without help from me! I know that many of you may be wondering why this is a lovely thing. This is a first for us. He has always done the mazes on them, but never anything that involved writing or reading.

He also used the word complement to describe what my wine was doing with my food, or what the waitress said it would do with my food. (She was correct by the way) Now we have been working on the difference between complement (as in a subject complement) and compliment (as in My your pumpkin pie is delicious) this semester. It actually has come up a couple of times in different places. This episode just shows he is understanding what we are talking about in class and can use the information in other places.

These two episodes also highlight why I'm so worried about his reading. An eight year old boy who struggles that hard to read but can use the word complement correctly in conversation needs help. So onto the third thing I'm thankful for this week. We are going to get testing done at the school district on Friday Dec 3rd. We are getting the full battery of language arts subtests for the Woodcock Johnson Achievement test. This includes oral expression, and listening comprehension. So we will see if there is the discrepancy I believe there to be.

Knitting, I'm thankful for knitting. I am about half way done with the Boy's winter sweater. I might be able to finish it this weekend if I just sit and do it. Which I might do to try to force this cold to go away. My shawl is sitting there wondering why I have abandoned it. I will get back to it soon. I just feel the need to finish the sweater before he grows much more. heh.

As always I'm thankful for my DH who complements me perfectly. ;)

*The spell check is saying this should be either place mat or place-mat, I don't agree so apparently I do at time go back to spelling like I live in the 18th century (FB joke please forgive if you don't know me there)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Review Post...

I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion is entirely my own. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

We have been using Time 4 Learning for a month now. It was easy to get started with it. Sign up and everything is right there. You choose the grade level to have your child start with, each subject can be set to different levels. When the grade level is chosen you and your child will have the grade before and the grade after to choose lessons from.

My son would be in 2nd grade in public school and so I started us there with everything. He tried a lesson from each one and then I adjusted the levels for him. Math is the easy one, changed that to 3rd grade and while some of it was review most of it is new and he enjoyed it. Science I raised him a level and this was where I could see that in 3rd grade you are expected to "read to learn" rather than "learn to read" The concepts were at the right level, but since his reading is not there yet I was reading each passage to him. In the 3rd grade math there is the option to have the computer read the text to you, this was not offered in the science lessons.

As we moved on through the month I noticed we had stopped using the Language Arts portion entirely (we had a reading melt down during this month), the math we used regularly and he really seemed to enjoyed it. I used it to supplement what was in our purchased curriulum for math. We also did either a Science or Social Studies lesson or two each day.

The Social Studies lessons were easy for him and enjoyable. They started conversations on what is the difference between wants and needs. Last summer we took a family vacation to Washington, D.C. so much of the national monument and presidential lessons were review for him. He doesn't tolerate repeated lessons well but these had enough new information that while he went quickly through them he didn't dismiss them out of hand.

Overall I think the curriculum is interesting and varied enough that there were plenty of ways for my boy to learn the subjects.

There is a 'playground' area that has many different games to play. One of the things you can do is go to Brain Pop Jr and have full access. This is a site that usually costs an additional subscription fee. It was nice to get to use some of it. They also have action, puzzle, and 2 player
games. As well as links to other educational sites. The playground is set up so I can put an amount of time he must work on lessons before he can go there, as well as how long he can be in the playground.

I was confused by a button that said "This means you have an assignment", which seemed to indicate I should be able to assign lessons for him to go to, but that function doesn't work with Time 4 Learning. It was easy to find the information out in the FAQ. Their FAQ was thorough enough for the information I was looking for. I did not have to send an email in to ask for help.

The one 'problem' I ran into was the only internet browser I could get the site to work with was Internet Explorer. I don't use IE much anymore, so it was kind of a pain to switch to a different browser when we may have been using another site for other information.

Overall I thought it was a good supplement to what I'm doing. I don't think we could use it as a stand alone curriculum. We are too eclectic and I like pulling from many sources. I do think this would work really well as an 'after school' review kind of thing also.

The Boy doesn't want to give a review right now. All he will say at the moment is "It is boring because it is boring". I explained that isn't a review, it isn't helpful information. I will say he did learn and I have seen the melt downs that happen when he is really bored with something, or frustrated with it. I did see it with the reading portions. He was frustrated and did not want to continue. I also saw it when the math was not at the right level and the lessons were about things he already knew. We did not see that with the Math, Science, or Social Studies portions once we found the right level. Reading is our trouble subject and I don't think it would matter what level we were on. The reading program seems to be a phonics based program and repeating sounds it sure to bring on a fit.

My guess is next week or the week after I'm going to face a sad boy again because he will want to do something with "Ed Mouse" and he won't be available.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does it say something about knitting in the title of this blog?

The bunny is done, it took maybe 2 days total to start and complete. Easiest stuffy I've ever had to make.
The shawl is taking longer, somehow there doesn't seem to be much progress on it when I don't pick it up for weeks at a time. I have picked it back up. We have settled into an easier time with school and I get moments to sit and knit rather than sit and argue with the Boy. ;)

It is getting huge and may end up being too big really, but I'm stubbornly sticking to my plan to use all the yarn I have balled. I really want to see all the colors that I've chosen together is part of the reason, another is I don't know what else I will do with what is left. ;)

I have the yarn to make another sweater for the boy. He choose red and yellow again this year. Much easier to stripe that way. I need to figure out a better way to make it. top down raglan doesn't really work well on him. His head is so much bigger than his neck that using a neck measurement doesn't work well, then he is so thin the rest of it is really, really baggy. I'm going to try to adjust it this time and see how well I can do that. The snow is falling and we already have about an inch on the ground this morning so I feel like I really need to get it going so he has it for this winter. ;)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wow this has been a hard week

I'm usually pretty immune to the 'weekly grind', school is pretty laid back, we do our thing in the morning, then do something fun in the afternoon. (That may or may not involve Sponge Bob.) Things flow around here.

This week has been hard. I made a call to our home school to see what kinds of help we might be able to get from the district to help the Boy learn to read. I am feeling like I need some more tools to help him. That my bag of tricks is empty. Getting help from the district is going to be hard. So I'm looking at other sources of help and I'm going to see what I can dig up on my own. It looks like we will go in and have the Boy's reading level tested with the Woodcock-Johnson achievement test for reading. They will not offer a diagnosis, they will not offer any remediation unless we enroll him in school. I'm not sure I'm willing to do that yet. Definitely not at our home school since they have now moved the teacher I didn't like in K to 2nd grade where he would be at. So we'll do the testing. We'll see what the Psych says in the email she is going to send me. We'll see what the results of the testing are. I have a feeling that they are going to come back close to normal for an 8 year old boy. If we had the full WJ battery, including oral expression, and listening comprehension and compared that with what will come back for the reading portion we would see a huge discrepancy, by just doing the reading portion I'm gonna look like a crazy woman. Sigh.

I purchased about $50 in books on teaching reading from Amazon (this was the day before the interwebz blew up about the "How to be a Pedophile" e-book still not sure about boycotting but I haven't officially purchased after hearing about it, still thinking). I'm hoping there will be some other ideas that the boy will take to.

We did have a bit of a break through yesterday. Boy decided he wanted to study weather, our snowy weather, yesterday. Really he wanted an excuse to go play in the snow. So we went out he wrote notes on the date, time, and conditions we were observing. Then we observed that the snow was really wet and packed very well into snowballs, as the back of my head found out. ;) (really this is going someplace with reading I promise) When we came in we looked up what kind of clouds we were seeing at this site, and we start looking at all the different types of clouds and when we see them and we ran across

Cumulonimbus Capillatus

and I struggled a bit to sound out cah-pih-lah-tuhs, at which point he says "Mom it is Capillatus, see I can say things better than you do" (if I sounded that out wrong and you actually know how to pronounce this please let me know) At which point I tell him, of course he can say it better, I was sounding out a word I have never had to pronounce before. That I use the same techniques I'm trying to teach him to learn how to say new words. It was as if a light bulb was switched on in brain, "Mom has to sound out words! OMG!!!1!!!!!" Our reading session that happened a bit later went much easier, he still got frustrated but he slowed down and read. He just gets so distracted by anything and everything as we work on reading. Ugh!

The time change is playing havoc with all of us. I'm waking at 4:30 in the morning, when the alarm doesn't go off until 5:30. The boy is catching up on sleep after waking at 5:30 on Saturday morning so he could make me breakfast in bed. His allergies also started acting up this weekend and we started him on Claritin again. I don't know if it is the sleep change, the allergies, the claritin, the worry about reading or something else, but he has been having mood swings that give me whip lash. One minute fine the next crying. He spent all day Tuesday hitting a piece of matting with a bat on and off. I guess I should be happy he is getting his anger and frustration out on an unbreakable inanimate object and not me or the cats. Tuesday ended with him in tears about how frustrating reading is, how his allergies are bothering him and how his allergy med makes him feel frustrated. We took a break on Wednesday from school and just hung out, he stopped his allergy meds and things really do seem to be smoothing out.

We'll need to challenge the allergy med at some point, just not the same week as a time change again. ;)

He is now cutting a tooth and for some reason this one is hurting worse than any of the others he has cut. It could be that it is pushing too hard on his front teeth. Braces are not gonna be fun for him. He did agree to take Tylenol and that did eventually seem to help.

So very glad it is Friday. Somehow the week did pass, with lots of emotional stuff but it did pass. Whew!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Carnitas a love story

I tried to make green chile for the Boy's birthday party. It is a staple food when we have burritos for others, when we have it for just ourselves we tend to have just bean and cheese. The green chile did not become so much green chile as carnitas, and luckily found a moment before they became charcoal. So a friend has asked for the recipe. So here it is in all it's ugliness, maybe I'll be able to copy it because they really were yummy.

First you need to hunt through your freezer and see what kind of pork might be lurnking the in the bottom. In our case it was pork chops with bones. They weren't that old, from Sept of this year even.

Boil them with chopped onion (maybe a 1/4 med one), a couple of cloves of garlic, a bay leaf and some salt. I think I used about 6 qts of water and kept the lid on. Let them boil for an hour or until done. Have hubby bone the meat while you work on something very important like sculpting zombies. Strain the liquid from the pot to get rid of the solids.

Add the boned meat and half the liquid from the pot along with a pound of roasted green chiles, 2 cloves of garlic minced, 1 t of salt and a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes. Put on the stove at med low with lid on and ignore for 2 hours.

Basically I left it on to boil/simmer until all the liquid was gone. It really was very good. I'll try it again meaning to do it and see if I can repeat the recipe.

Sadly I don't think there is a picture of them anywhere. Ah well.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Doctor Visits and things...

So today was the well child visit with no shots. My son has my fear of needles and even watching me get my flu shot the day before did not convince him to get his shot.

He ended up having an EKG done that I had put off from this summer. The doc wanted to make sure the fainting spell wasn't due to a heart condition we hadn't seen prior. That came back looking good apparently. 12 leads coming off his body. They offered to give him a print out but he didn't want it. Sigh. I wanted it. heh. We also will be going in to have an EEG done at some point, hopefully before this plan year is done (hint, hint universe). The EEG is to see if there is something odd looking from the seizures and because of the migraines he has been getting.

I also talked to the doctor about the fact that he isn't really reading yet. It is getting better, but if you have ever talked to my son you too would be amazed at what comes out of his mouth and the language he uses and has used since he was 2 and the fact that he does not read. I know he does things at his own pace, I know he has been known to hide the knowledge that he has acquired until he find it advantageous. The thing is, this is absolutely a situation that is advantageous to him. He knows and really wants to get the Mindstorms set, he is trying really hard to read. He still can't seem to figure out some really basic words. His vocabulary is such that he can guess all the big words he runs across but the little words that we have worked on for a couple of years he still can't remember. One example is o-f is of not for. It sounds like I need to find a way to test him. He is really good at bluffing his way through a book. I don't want to short change him by not getting this looked at sooner. So I'm gonna call the school district and see if they will test him.

I'm annoyed that I didn't push harder last year when we were with the virtual charter. They used the Barton system to teach reading to dyslexics and I didn't push, figured we would see if he got it during that year. He didn't. He still isn't and I'm more worried now that I was last year. Unfortunately the Barton system is expensive and I don't think I'm going to be able to get it as a homeschooler. Ugh.

All that aside, my boy, the one that has insisted that I be the one to make him food, and will only take food from his father if I insist that I am too busy, just made himself a piece of toast with jelly on it. WOW!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How has it been 8 years? Hasn't it been 800 years?

8 years ago I went into labor with what would end up being my first and apparently last child. I can't believe he is already 8 years old. He is has changed so much again this year. He is already getting embarrassed by me. On Halloween I have a time honored tradition of bugging the teens about what their costumes are. I will always give out candy but you may end up with a pop quiz on what your costume is and why you choose it if you look to be 13 or old. So when 2 boys show up one dressed as a knight, and the second looking like a Mormon missionary with a NE Patriots tie I had to ask what the boy in white shirt was. His response "Whatever you think I am" My response back "A teenager looking to get candy" At which point the Boy stepped in told me to go away this was HIS job and then apologized to the boys that "That's my mom sometimes she gets like that" Heh, just wait, I just get better with age.

He has taken on his role of keeper of the hamster completely. It has been a month and he still takes care of her and doesn't complain. I can see how he takes our personalities and makes them his own. He talked to each of the kids as they came to the door, commented on their costumes. Then made fun of the kids who just stared at him. "Their parents told them not to talk to strangers but to ask them all for candy"

He has started to read, on his own, sounding out words and everything. He is like this brick wall that I pounded my head against over and over and over. Then one day down in a corner where I haven't been looking I notice there is a door and it has instructions next to it they just happen to be in a language I had forgotten I knew. So I sit and stop banging my head and I can start to understand them and the door starts to open a little. That is what it feels like when teaching this one. The more I fight and insist the tighter the door closes. The more I sit and try to figure out what he is looking for the door starts to open.

How can it be only 8 years since I became a mother. It feels like I have had this role forever. Was there ever anything before this? I can tell there will never be anything after this. I will never be a person with only herself to worry about ever again.

All this to say Happy Birthday to my 8 year old son. He is no longer a little boy, or a big boy, he is a boy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Birthday Party

We did a Plants vs Zombies party for the Boy's 8th birthday.
This was more fun, and more work that I thought it would be when we first came up with the idea. The Boy at nearly 8 has definite ideas about what would happen for his party. DH had ideas about what was needed to plan out 2 hours of party. I had ideas of what would be fun for 8 year old boys. Let me tell you the one who knew what would be fun and take up 2 hours of time for 8 year old boys was the 8 year old boy. Need to remember to trust him in what is fun.

My mom baked him a marble cake and then frosted it with the backyard from the game. I had originally wanted to have blue jello for the pool portion but that didn't happen and I think this looks great.

I made the modeling chocolate (easy) and the sculpted the characters
Here is Repeater without his face on yet, well and my old wrinkled hands. ;)

Here is the cake decorated. I let the Boy decide where to put the characters. You will notice that there is only one body of a zombie. Yeah that was much harder to make than I thought it would be. So I decided that a rubber ducky zombie would work the best.
Torchwood is one of my favorite, I love the way it turned out.

Here is the Boy looking so happy with his cake. I'm so happy we did it, I'm so glad I had the luxury of the time to put this together. DH was amazing, he took Friday off work and helped get the house cleaned, the games ready, and let me do the bits I love to do, which included sewing these....

Wallnuts that look a bit more like Tallnuts but still. We used the to play Wallnut Bowling with Zombies.

It looks like I may have loaded all the pictures that Blogger will let me. The Wallnut Bowling game was fun. The boys quickly got bored with throwing Wallnuts at cutouts of Zombies and soon decided that it would be more fun to throw them at each other.

Ok now to do school work for the day.