Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Snakes Alive, Jonas is Five

Happy birthday, sweet boy. Five years ago, you came along and changed everything. Everything. I am so glad you did. Sweet little firstborn, you are a big boy now. I'm so proud of you.

You love your cowboy jeans, and for some reason neckties. You love to play with your wedgits, and your favorite birthday gift was play-doh, of all things. You wanted Cici's pizza for dinner, to play air hockey with Daddy, so that's what we did.

You are a kind and protective big brother to little Betty. You like to "play bedtime," and you "read" her a book, tell her a story, pray with her, and snuggle her. Just like mama does with you both.

You have lots of questions about God. You try to think of things that God doesn't have, things you love that won't be in heaven, information God doesn't know, or things that are bigger than God. You haven't come up with anything to stump Daddy yet. I hope you keep asking.

You don't like reading or cooking or snuggling with mama quite as much as you used to, and I'm seeing glimmers of a "big boy" who wants to come out. That big boy wants to run around outside with the goats. I'll admit to bittersweet feelings about that.

You had a snake party. You had fun.

Happy birthday, Jonas. I love you.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Belated Easter

Does that title even make sense?

It's not that I forgot. It's just that, you know, life happens. Sometimes the blog takes awhile to catch up.

So I made Betty this sweet little Easter outfit, and then she was sick and we missed church.

Oh, and I found the decapitated head of a bunny in the yard.

On Easter morning.

Sometimes you think a day is going to go a certain way, and then it just doesn't, you know?

Sometimes you applique a toile bunny on a t-shirt, and sew a sweet little tiered skirt.

Sometimes, Mamaw brings over a sweet little Easter bonnet and gloves.

Sometimes kids get fever.

Sometimes your kid gets blue Easter egg dye on her face and looks like Pat Benatar.

And sometimes your dog eats the Easter bunny.

But Jesus is alive, and nothing else matters.

So we celebrated anyway.

See how gravely ill she is?

Cough, cough.

All this posing and cuteness is hard work, Mom.

I'm not sure why the boots. Maybe the bonnet makes her think of a cowgirl?
Personally I would have gone with a ballet flat, but to each his own.

See the eyeshadow? Blue fingers I expected, but the face?

Why did I let her dye her own eggs??? Have I learned nothing?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A post about food

This just came in the mail. Don't you want to eat those fries right now?

Oh, and I made strawberry jam. Yum. And the most flattering picture ever.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zoo Day

I took the kids to the zoo last week. It was fun all around.

I would love to know what they're both thinking.

I don't know where she gets this instinct to "pose." This is by the komodo dragon.

This is by the lions. They like to stand on the fence.

Standing on the fence at the elephants.

Standing on the fence at the giraffes. See that leg up? She kept trying to climb in.

There she goes again.

Complete with a choo-choo ride at the end.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

I planted my very first garden. Justin has done it a few times, and mom always gardened, but I've never before had much interest. I'm starting small, just a little 4'x8' bed. Texas Edible Landscapes, aka our friend John, made the box for me. At his advice I added lava sand, rock phosphate, cotton burr compost and organic fertilizer. Justin and his G-Dad helped me plant yesterday and set up the drip irrigation. I planted tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and some herbs.

Jonas planted watermelon and cantaloupe:

and Betty planted green beans.

Everything is covered up now; it may frost tonight. Poor little baby plants look small out in the cold and wind. I hope the little buggers don't die yet; that would just be depressing.

Wish me luck.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

100 Easy Lessons

I've been using Teach Your Child to Raad in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann with Jonas, and I've really loved it. I'm surprised that I like it, honestly, because it's very structured. It tells you exactly what to do, even has a verbatim script of how to explain something or give instructions. I would have thought that would be awkward, but I love it. I don't have to think about how to explain a concept, or spend any time planning a lesson, or trip over my words over-explaining something simple. I can focus all of my attention on watching Jonas, making sure he's tracking along and doing well. I'm thinking about him, not about my own words.

From the introduction:
"Typically, the [teachers] attended either to the content they presented or to the behavior of the children they were trying to teach. When they attended to the behavior, they frequently became verbose, repetitive, and often bumbled. When they talked too much (which they frequently did), their delivery suffered because their pacing became poor. The children became confused and lost interest....[With a script] the teacher could now concentrate primarily on delivering the content, not on trying to create it or design ways to 'get it across.' "
Um, are they hiding in my pantry? I do that, and I'm only teaching one child.

Does this mean I do better with a prescribed, structured curriculum? So far I've been in the Official Homeschool Winging It Philosophy. Maybe I should rethink that.

I love the way the material is broken down into quick easy lessons. They take about 12-15 minutes, including a brief writing practice at the end. On my own, I try to do way too much in a single lesson. My last school experience was medical school, and so I have some learning to do about the preschool pace. Each lesson feels very doable to Jonas, with small incremental changes in content. There is always something new or slightly more difficult, but it's a small enough chunk that it feels very manageable to him. He enjoys the lessons and is proud of what he's learning. He's never yet felt overwhelmed.

I also like the order sounds are presented. The most reliable and common letters are presented first. (By reliable, I mean that the letter always makes the same sound, like M or S, and unlike C or G.) Vowels are given phonetic symbols, like the line above long E, that are gradually phased out. 'th' is presented as a sound, as if it were a separate letter. So at lesson 22, Jonas is very comfortable with about 11 letters, but they are very common letters that can make up lots of words and even short stories. X and Q can wait until lesson 74.

If I had tried this a year ago, he would not have been ready. I'm sure some kids are, but not the J-Man. Even last summer and early fall, he would get very frustrated when we practiced writing. He started avoiding it altogether. Part of that may have been his age, and I'm sure my teaching approach was too intense for him. This book slows me down, in a good way. After he got so frustrated, I put reading aside, and didn't even ask him to write his name for a few months. Then we started this program in the spring, and now he's loving it. He asks to write. He always asks how words are spelled, and tries to read everything he sees.

I aim for a lesson a day, but fall very very short of that. We're on lesson 22, and we've been doing this maybe 2 months. If we reach a point where he plateaus and starts to get frustrated, we can take a break. I won't force him. But so far, so good.

I love hearing from other homeschool mamas about what they're doing. What's working? What's not?