April 15, 2014

In The Meantime...

We haven't abandoned life, school, and household completely!

Logan has been working hard with his numbers a lot.  He is struggling a little to connect quantity and symbol so we have been going slowly and doing lots of cyclical work and extensions.

Kylee has been plugging away with her addition work.  We have moved the the stamp game, started dynamic addition, and she is working away with the charts to memorize her facts.  She's also doing lots of spelling work with our drawers.   This is an example of a two way sort- first by vowel sound and then by initial digraph.  She is also now working with the first introduction to functions of words and now sorts the nouns and vowels from her spelling to write in her grammar notebook.


Aidan has finished up polynomials and is working through the upper elementary fraction work (Steps 2 & 3).   We are actually taking a little different approach, using Math U See Epsilon as a bit of a trial to see how we like the program.  Starting to think about what will come next for us when he finishes the Montessori elementary math sequence in the next year.  So far he really likes it and so do I.  We aren't using the student workbook, just the DVD and manipulative pieces (well, the fraction overlays....we are using bead bars when they call for their blocks....I need to see if that would actually work long term).  We write our own practice problems as we always have and use some Khan academy for drill type practice.  I'm actually thinking he will move from Epsilon, back to finish out our albums and then either into PreAlgebra or Algebra.   Gonna keep thinking on that one.

Biome work has continued.  We have covered soil, air, and water in the past month or so (I can't remember what I've talked about and what order).  Clearly we didn't need a chart to explore water carving a  path through the soil....  Our stencils came and Kylee (my map princess) especially loves them.  I'm looking forward to spending some more time with Aidan with these as we use them more as I think he will also like them.

 I have been keeping busy and distracted with some knitting and some painting- I've finished all of the bedrooms except Kylee's (which is prepped and ready to go with her, Aidan, and Lucie all squished into one room right now) and two of our bathrooms.

 The kids have been keeping busy with lots of playing outside!  Logan is clearly following my instruction to stay out of the wet sandbox, yes?  He says he was "testing" it.


April 10, 2014

The Angels Came Down

Like probably every other post I've written that has had any significant number of hits or comments or favorable "stats" I have gone back and forth about writing this post.  Yet after a week of stewing about it, I have accepted that my blog would not be MY blog if I don't include this story.

Early on in our marriage, Tim and I had several pregnancy losses.  We lost two babies to miscarriage at 6 & 8 weeks and then another, our sweet Kenna, was stillborn at 30 weeks in 2007.  In the first 5 years of our marriage we were pregnant 5 times, with only 2 little boys keeping us busy (although keep us busy they did and still do).

During that time, we discovered the beauty of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and felt convicted that God definitely called us to be open to life and to consider His plan for our family as the only one we wanted.  Some of the changes that came with this life altering decision were fairly immediate.  There was improvement in our married life and also in me as a woman.  The truth is I felt BETTER without all those extra hormones floating around.  Most people don't believe this, or say it is a coincidence, but I am here to tell you that I don't buy it.   The anti birth control campaign slogan of "No hormones in your milk but hormones in your birth control" is not as cliche as I always thought it sounded.

The years that followed our small conversion to a life of being open to God's plan for our family were by no means easy ones.  In addition to Kenna's death, we also faced job loss, severe financial difficulties, a move across the state, a devastating house fire, and finally a move across the country (after more financial/job problems).  Through all of these things, we have learned to accept that sometimes good can come of the most trying times.  In fact it almost always does if you think to look for it!  Through all of these times, we have been blessed with incredible friends and family who have supported us...at times literally feeding and clothing us when our own basic needs were in question.

We have also been blessed with 7 loss free years and three beautiful reminders that God (specifically God's will for our lives) is bigger than any suffering that we may face for a season.  Three babies in just over 4 years with no pregnancy losses- reminders that God is indeed good.  Our newfound trust in God's plan for our lives eventually led us into the Catholic Church, which has been a blessing beyond belief for all of us as we continue on our journey of growth.

This winter we were again blessed with a new life.  I found out I was pregnant on Valentine's Day, which was a pretty fun day to find out that one is expecting!  What was even more fun was a close friend learning the same weekend that she too was expecting.  A few weeks later, another friend announced her pregnancy (although she was actually a bit farther along).

When 8 weeks came and went (my latest m/c) I began to feel confident that it was safe to announce the pregnancy and we started to do just that.  I even started to think of creative ways to announce here on my blog.  Before we had even finished sharing the news with all of our family and friends, however, I started spotting.

I miscarried on April 1 (haha, funny...right?) after almost 11 weeks of pregnancy.

(This is my hesitancy in sharing this post....some people who are close friends and family will be finding out about both the pregnancy and the loss at the same time.  I apologize.)

Be this a one time thing, or the start of a season of loss or hardship, I am working hard on accepting that this too is part of God's will for our life.  His plan is greater than ours and He knows our needs before we do.  I may never understand the exact reasoning, but I trust that it is there regardless.   Our kids knew that they had a new brother or sister in Mommy's tummy and telling them was one of the hardest parts of the last few weeks.

While I expected tears from a certain sensitive five year old, her words surprised me with her wisdom and understanding of exactly what this post is all about....trusting in God's plan no matter the circumstances.

"Mommy the angels came straight down from Heaven and carried our baby to God.... maybe they will bring us a new one soon."

She skipped away cheerfully.  To her this is all good news.   Not just the hope and promise of an abundant life in the future, but the hope and promise of Heaven that is a part of our every day life.

What better place to be born into?

I obviously haven't been doing much blogging the past couple weeks.  I have been distracting myself with painting my house, working on my Master's degree, and just general healing- physically and emotionally.  It helps that the weather has been much nicer and I can spend time in the fresh air every day.   There is even thought of planting soon.  Our friends are again taking care of us, offering me a sounding board when I need it and generally just checking in.

While I don't think that facing the loss of a child ever gets easier, I think there are parts of it that one does get "better" at.  I knew what to expect physically and emotionally which makes accepting those things when they come just a little bit easier.  (Note that actually experiencing them isn't easier, but accepting the process is easier.)  In the past 12 years, I have learned a lot about trusting God and the hope that comes with that trust provides comfort beyond imagine.   We have leaned greatly on the promises of Easter, as we journey through the last dark days of Lent.

I also admit that while accepting God's will for our lives, I too hope and pray that Kylee is right and that God will indeed send us another new life soon.

April 8, 2014

Seeking Survey Takers!

Even though I know lots of my followers use the Montessori method, I know I also have lots that don't.  I am doing a formative evaluation of the My Catholic Speller series by Catholic Heritage Curricula for a Master's degree course project and would appreciate if anyone who is using or has used this curriculum would complete the following survey for me.  I need at least 10 parents to complete this survey and would appreciate any help follow bloggers could offer in getting the word out to those who may use this program.  Feel free to post to Facebook pages, blogs, private group, email...wherever you may know someone using Catholic Heritage Spelling!


Click here to take survey

I will be looking for a product still in development to evaluate in the coming months.  If anyone has a connection to someone currently developing an educational product (of any variety) that may be interested in a professional-in-training evaluation I'd love to connect!

March 28, 2014

Work and Play 3/28

Monday is the day I introduce our biome theme for the week (or more) so there is always a lot of work in this area on Mondays.  Actually there is just always a lot of work on Mondays no matter what!   Since Caleb was home today, I decided to skip ahead a little and cover water for our biome work this week instead of air like I had planned.  Then I skipped ahead a little further and started with land/water forms (which is supposed to be after water and soil have been covered).  The reason I did this was pretty simple... I knew  Caleb would work with clay and water to make land and water forms for a looooooong time.   Think like 2 hours maybe?  Chatting with Kylee happily the whole time and asking questions about terminology he couldn't remember.  He created a nice set up with all of the major water and land forms included.  I'm sure that he taught Kylee lots without either of them realizing it.  Aidan worked on a world map, reviewing major world bodies of water and water forms.  It would have been nice to do this after our Waseca stencils arrived, but I think this way will work out fine and he will go more in depth later as we study each continent.



Logan worked a little bit with the land/water form tray and then did a land, water, air sort (which was much more his level than the trays).  Lucie thought she would get out her cards too and would not relinquish the "cookie" card.




For language and math, Kylee worked more on alternate spellings of the long a sound and the first introduction to static subtraction on the golden beads.  Aidan did some spelling work and started polynomials with the products of binomials.  Caleb just got to read and play with Logan and Lucie mostly once he finished the land and water forms.



More work on wonderful water today.  Today we went back to the beginning and covered salt water and fresh water and the composition of the hydrosphere.  (Did you know we have a word for all the water on earth?  I didn't until I started studying Montessori....)  We measured out 200 ounces of water and then pulled out the percentage that is frozen fresh water (1/2 Cup) and exchanged it for ice cubes and the available fresh water (4 Tbsp or 1/4 Cup).  Then we salted up the remaining water and talked about water as a resource.  Lucie thought we put that cup of fresh water there just for her.   Kylee, Logan, and Lucie did a salt water sink or float activity.  Aidan worked with the landform trays from yesterday, pulling out the eye dropper from my practical life shelf so he could make his water "rain" on his formations.








For those keeping track, the hydrosphere is covered in geography charts 41-60.  Many of these charts, however, might make more sense at other points in the biome study.  Chart 41, for example, covers the formation of desserts in the shadows of mountains, this might be more relevant when we are covering the properties of desert biomes specifically.  Some of the charts (49-52, 55-57) also cover erosion and the formation of valleys, canyons, and glaciers which may be more appropriate in conjunction with the study of soil.  Chart 60 is a biome map relating water to vegetation so I will save that one as well.  The main charts I plan to integrate this week will be 43-44 and 58 (Evaporation, Condensation, and The Water Cycle).  I effectively had Aidan replicate chart 48 (Major Rivers of The World) yesterday.

Kylee tackled the USA pin map.  Mom admission: I did not think she was ready for even the most basic of presentation on this material but she asked and I didn't want to tell her no.  She surprised me by getting all but about 10 states matched correctly before getting tired and asking Aidan to help her finish.


Evaporation and condensation experiment today.   We have always done geography/culture/science faster than the pace indicated and oftentimes more than we do other subjects.  Now it's just even more interesting to share :)   This is (and always has been) the backbone of our homeschool work.  We also worked with the corresponding geography charts.  Recreating the charts has been a popular follow up work lately, even Lucie was into it today. (You may notice some of my charts are smaller than others- mostly I just realized with only presenting to one or two at a time smaller would be faster to make and more space effective.  I don't have digital or black line versions of my geography album so I'm free handing all of them based on tiny black and white images in my album.  Some need to be bigger, but some I feel are fine small.)

Logan discovered an old digital camera my mom gave the kids several years ago and has been taking pictures continually for two days.  Be sure to check out his Wordless Wednesday post.  Taking pictures off the camera is a bit tedious compared to my phone, but hopefully I will get a chance soon to pull this picture he took of Aidan and Lucie.  He also worked with the cornmeal writing tray.


Thursday was water cycle day.... which was really just a synthesis of what we talked about yesterday with evaporation and condensation.  I assigned Aidan to write the story of a drop of water through the year.  (Notice he is using the seasons chart to organize his story.) Kylee thought that sounded pretty fun so she decided to give it a try too.  This is one of the ways that science/geography/culture/history all make up the backbone of our curriculum.  We will edit the story, working on spelling and grammar as needed and reviewing the writing process.  Right now we are focusing extra on quotations and transition words and phrases.


Logan worked with the spindle box and Kylee learned how to record her answers when working with the golden beads.  I think she is ready to transition to the stamp game, at least for addition, so I need to fit in that lesson soon.