Friday, September 30, 2011

Those aren't my books!

I got someone else's box of books in the mail. My name was on the outside of the box, but someone else's invoice and order was on the inside of the box. What a bummer. I called Sonlight this afternoon and they are going to resend my order to my house via Fed Ex and it should be here by next week. They are also scheduling a Fed Ex pick up so I don't even have to drive to the post office. All I have to do is seal this box and leave it on my porch a certain day next week. Talk about great customer service!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Norah recites a Mother Goose Rhyme called "The Months." This is one of the poems she learned in First Language Lessons.

"All the babies!"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Four Practical Ways To Help Your Child Became A Reader

1. Phonics- If a kid doesn't know how to read or if she is always struggling with it, I don't see why she would ever be drawn to books. Reading will be more of a painful chore than a joy to that kid. When my oldest daughter was learning to read, she didn't enjoy it. For a long time, I had to bribe her by giving her the choice of bedtime or phonics. She chose phonics every time in order to stay awake longer. But after enough practice in a traditional phonics program, she started reading better and better and after that, she began to really enjoy books. So, this may be obvious, but I think a kid needs to be able to read before they can develop an independent enjoyment of books.

2. Quiet- We don't have cable television and I try and limit my kids' time on the computer and on video games. Therefore, our house stays pretty quiet and it's easy for my kids or I to sit down with a book and stay there without being distracted.

3. Books, books and more books!- If the number of books we owned were limited or if our books were only on one shelf in one out of the way room of our house, my daughter wouldn't read as often as she does. But we have a lot of books and we're always getting more and they're all over our house so my kids are always being reminded of their option to read. In the photo I included with this article, I purchased a stack of used books from the thrift store the night before and they were just sitting on the couch one morning. I hadn't had a chance to put any of them on the bookshelves yet. My daughter woke up, shuffled out of bed, there was no television on to distract her, so she walked into the living room, noticed one of the new books, Down Comes the Rain: A Let's Read and Find Out Book by Franklin Mansfield Branley and just picked it up and started reading. And my daughter kept reading from that stack of "new" books for at least an hour before breakfast.

4. No "junk food" books- As a rule, I don't buy books about popular cartoons, movies or television characters. The way I see it, it's like teaching your kids to choose healthy foods by providing whole wheat toast and yogurt for breakfast instead of doughnuts and sugar cereal. I want my kids to develop an "appetite" for the best books that might not sparkle on the outside, but that will truly nourish their souls. My kids are really drawn to Disney princess books and things like that, naturally. My oldest daughter gasps when she sees their covers, so glittery, so pretty. She runs up to me in the bookstore and says, "Look Mom!" and all that. I tell her that she can read as many of those books as she wants while we are in the store. So then she sets to reading with real gusto and this satisfies her and keeps her busy while I comb the shelves for medal winners and other books that are more worthy books of bringing home to keep. I think this policy has actually added to my daughter's reading experience because the characters she meets in books are always totally new and their stories are usually surprising and charming. This has made my daughter more eager to read just about anything, since she has learned she can't judge how much she will enjoy a book by what's on its cover.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We've been "in school" for only a few weeks and Norah has already read a third of the books on Sonlight's third grade reading list. I give Norah one of these books for "reading" almost everyday that we do school. She enjoys this so much, she begs to do reading almost as soon as we start lessons for the day. Each of these books is supposed to be read over a number of days, according to Sonlight's schedule, but once Norah starts a book, she usually wants to finish it in one sitting and I don't have the heart to tell her "no." Something about making my kid stop reading feels very unnatural, even wrong to me. So, at this point, I am going ahead and ordering the books I don't already have off Sonlight's forth/ fifth grade reading list so they will be here when Norah is done with the third grade list. Those books may actually be big enough to cause Norah to need to put them down and take a break before finishing them. She may actually have to learn the art of "picking up where she left off." But, I guess we will see.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On this side of it all
It's easy to forget
That the prophets and priests
Could only long for
What we've been given.
Your Spirit in us
Is even better than Eden.

-Veronica Boulden
We got Norah's hair cut today. I said "Yes" to bangs. She's wearing a necklace our Grand-neighbors got her for her birthday.

We mummified an apple in science class.

The apple on the left was the control. The apple on the right was mummified by covering it with a combination of baking soda and salt.

In science, we were reading about the ways people have added to everyone's knowledge of the human body over the ages. The Egyptians did minor surgeries to take out the organs out of their dead and in doing so, added to what people knew about the human body, etc. So, this project was an interesting way to demonstrate how the Ancient Egyptians preserved the bodies of their dead.

It might have been for science class, but it certainly goes along with what we've studied in ancient history this year, too!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Avril's been sick all day, sick but very snuggly. I confess that I've enjoyed holding her for so many hours. She usually prefers to be wherever her big sister is, so it's been nice that she wants her momma.
I've been making an effort to keep more puzzles, Lego projects, paints and paper, etc. on hand to keep Norah occupied. Even with all she does for school, she still has a lot of free time. And, in the past several weeks in particular, I was noticing more and more occasions of her wandering into the living room or kitchen and plopping down on the couch or at the table and just staring into space. This never really happened before so it took me a while to realize what was wrong with my child. She was bored!

Before I was a pregnant zombie, you could be sure that several afternoons each week, we'd be off on some adventure and Norah wouldn't have to come up with so many ways to stay entertained. But, now, I don't really leave the house unless I have to. (I find that dry heaving into a shopping bag or napkin or whatever else you have on hand while you are driving down the road is a little unsettling and even more unpleasant than throwing up at home in the toilet.)

So, when Norah shows any signs of boredom, I usually "assign" her some new project or chore that will fill up a half hour or so. She bucks at my suggestion sometimes, but I insist so she sighs and starts working and then settles into a happy groove till she's done. And, when she's done, she is totally free to move on to something else, something of her own choice and I must add that she usually always knows exactly what she wants to do at that point.

Voila! Boredom solved!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Norah has finished her handwriting book Zaner Bloser Handwriting Manuscript 1. Here are photos of her last pages of work in the 1st grade book.

Now she gets to begin the next book. She'll review manuscript and then begin learning cursive.

Here is a photo of her work from the beginning of Kindergarten:

And her work at the end of Kindergarten:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Me! With the eyes!"

Avril likes to sit on the cushion behind my head anytime I take a break on the laptop. She comments on what she sees.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mercy Lord! Or there'll be nothing left of me!

"Nothing but faith."

That's all I started with!

"And all I require of thee."
God gave me the perfect song for what I am struggling with. And it seems that as long as I have a song to sing, my head stays above the water, so to speak.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"These knives look great! They are in perfect condition! Really! You should see what most people bring in to us... Your wife gets the 'Best Customer Ever Award.'"

That's what the guy at Ergo Chef told Dwayne when Dwayne took in my knives to have them sharpened a few weeks ago. It was proud moment for me. But I think Dwayne was even prouder of me than I was of myself. He spent a lot of money to give me those knives and it blessed him because I had shown gratitude by taking care of them. A few days later, he brought home my knives and six new steak knives I didn't have already as a reward. So, in turn, I've been rewarding Dwayne with more steak for dinner.

But there's a good reason I do a good job of caring for my knives. I follow the care instructions to the letter. And I follow the care instructions to the letter because I keep them in front of me constantly. And I keep them in front of me constantly because they go in my notebook.

I use a notebook for just about everything from storing current library lists and prescriptions to writing notes out of books I read, websites I look at or telephone calls I make. This is the third notebook I've had like this. I've already filled every page of two others before this. It's great to have one notebook for everything, because this way, I don't have a lot of scrap papers lying around.

Because so much goes in this notebook to begin with, I am often opening it for one reason or another. That way, I my eyes are always coming across the care instructions for my knives, my pots and pans, etc. and I can reread the rules almost as often as I open my notebook.

The connection between my office organization and how I care for kitchenware isn't an obvious one, but I know that couldn't have kept my knives so well without the help of my notebook. It works well for me, so I thought I'd share this tip because a notebook may do wonders for you, too.

Avril will come up to me while I am sitting on the couch and lay her head back on my lap like this. I will run my fingers through her hair and brush her face and cheeks while she closes her eyes and relaxes. If I stop before she is ready to go away, she makes it clear that that's totally unacceptable and that I must begin again immediately.

The girls received even more Webkins in the mail this morning. Norah says, "Thank! You! Uncle! Donnie!" with real emphasis on each word. The girls have started playing with the hamster, the bush baby, the lambs and the bunnies (not pictured above).

When I say that they both play, I mean that Avril gets to be the one to hold the "babies" and carry them around the house while Norah takes care of them online and plays the games. Letting Avril do the holding isn't easy for Norah because naturally, Norah would rather be able to hold the Webkins and play with them online, too, but letting Avril hold them is the fairest solution we've come up with and the only way to do what's right by her sister in the given situation. Avril always wants to be where Norah is, doing what Norah's doing, so letting her hold the Webkins is the most age-appropriate way to let Avril join the fun.

But, when Norah isn't playing online, Avril has to share the babies with Norah equally. That way, they both really do enjoy Webkins.

Note: I am saving the pumpkin puppy to give the girls on Halloween and the turkey to give them on Thanksgiving. That'll make those holidays even more fun to look forward to.

Thank you Uncle Donnie!

My children, if your hearts are wise, my own heart will rejoice. Everything in me will celebrate when you speak what is right. -Proverbs 23:15-16

Friday, September 16, 2011

I just came through a period of two weeks when I couldn't worship. I don't think I've ever gone that long without spending time in God's presence, at least not since I became a believer. I think it must be what people are talking about when they speak of a spiritual desert.

It's more than I can explain here, but I was wrestling with God over something that happened several months ago. Until two weeks ago, I hadn't really struggled to believe that God was leading me and that He would work everything out. But, after so many months of praying and waiting, praying and waiting, praying and waiting, I had to confront my questions, doubts and hard feelings over the situation.

I couldn't worship, but I kept praying and I spent hours and hours, night after night, complaining to my husband who very faithfully, patiently listened and reminded me over and over again that "...the testing of your faith develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." I knew he was right. My faith was being tested and I kept looking for it to surface again.

Perhaps for my poor, weary husband's sake, God's Spirit broke through my hard heart with the help of the songs and Bible verses below and I have been able to worship again though it's always through tears because I am still waiting for God to fix what provoked the questions and hard feelings in the first place.

I am sober about the fact that He may never fix it, but I plan to sing none the less. I do not worship God because of what He does for me anyway. I worship him because He is God and I am not and therefore, I have no choice but worship and pray and wait for whatever He is going to do.

"Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I am going to argue my case with him." Job 13:15

God, I Look to You

I Will Exalt

"Have mercy on me, O God! Have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me." Psalm 57

"You are my strength; I will wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me." Psalm 59

I have been drinking a lot of hot tea. I like the flavors pregnancy blend, ginger with teaspoon of ginger syrup and mint with a teaspoon of honey. As soon as I start to feel a little green, I stop and make a cup. This seems to be helping cure my nausea. I've also noticed that my appetite is coming back and my digestive system is getting back to normal. I don't seem to be as sensitive to smells either because I've been able to do the dishes, take out the trash and clean the bathroom, etc. And, not that I feel like eating late at this point in life, but I think that if I keep drinking tea even after I have this baby, it might help me satisfy the urge to snack after dinner because tea fills my belly with warmth and quells hunger pains. This is a habit I might just be keeping!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"If I had never been given an X-box, I would have never forgotten to turn it off!"

Norah said this through sobbing tears while being disciplined for forgetting to turn off her X-box... again. (If she doesn't turn the X-box off it will overheat and break so turning it off is a firm rule.)

She was totally devastated, fully convinced the problem was the fact that she had been given an X-box in the first place. If she didn't have the X-box...

I thought about what she was saying for a moment, then I told her, "Well, if we think like that, your dad and I should take all the good things we've ever given you away since you may not do what's right with them."


"No. You just need to learn to do what's right with the good things you are given... and you are still learning."

"You're right. I'm sorry, Mom." Norah said with a sniffle and a big hug and a few more tears.

A moment later, we were in the kitchen and the Holy Spirit brought a verse to mind. It came out of nowhere and I could just tell it was important so I stopped and looked up.

"For whoever has will be given more and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

I know this Scripture from memory, but I never really understood it. It was confusing to me that God would take even the little that someone had away from them and leave them with nothing. You can read the whole passage here:

Matthew 25: 14-30

But, as I thought about it, I realized almost immediately that it was no coincidence that that verse came to mind at that moment. It applied to our situation and it was for Norah (and for me) and it spoke perfectly to what we needed.

So, with fear and trembling (because I do not relish "preaching" to anyone, even to my kids), I told her,

"Norah, Jesus teaches us that we should do what's right with the blessings God gives us. He says that if we do what's right with what we have, we will be given even more good things and if we do what's right with those, we will be given even more..."

"Yes." I could tell she was following me.

"But, God says that if we don't do what's right with what He gives us, even the little we have will be taken away from us and we will be left with nothing. So... we have to do what's right with the blessings we have been given. We have no choice, really.
Do you understand?"

"I understand."

And, praise God for His guidance, I could tell she really did understand...

and so did I, really understand, for the first time.

I am still learning, too.

"For whoever has will be given more and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

We celebrated Norah's seventh birthday this week. We let Norah choose where we went to dinner. She chose our favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. We had the staff surprise her with some ice cream and a very loud birthday song. Dwayne and I both forgot our phones or else we would have gotten a photo of her in a sombrero. I guess that's one image I will have to store away in my memory.

We came home after dinner and lit the candles on her cupcakes, sang to her and then we ate dessert together. She decorated these cupcakes herself earlier in the afternoon.

We gave Norah her presents and then spent time together in the living room till bedtime.

Norah got several Star Wars collector's books and picture dictionaries (which she has already read.) She got some new Webkins from my brother. We also got her a membership to Animal Jam which she's been begging for for over a year. She's been enjoying her new computer pets all day today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A video of the girls being silly together.

This is what it's all about.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


-Avril's way of saying "female Lego people" because every grown female must be a momma and everyone's someone's baby.
Norah and Avril on speaker phone with grandparents earlier today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've been stuck on the couch with nausea, so with all this down time, I've been watching several old episodes of Star Trek DS9, one of Dwayne's favorite television shows.

During one episode, I really liked an exchange between the fictional character Captain Cisco and his teenage son Jake. Jake wants to go hang out with a friend the night before a big test, but his dad tells him he ought to be studying.

"Don't worry, Dad. I'll ace the test."

To this, Captain Cisco tells his son,

"This is not about tests, Jake. This is about learning. You can't learn to appreciate Klingon opera by cramming for the test the night before.”

He may not be a real person and there may not be any such a thing as Klingon opera (though there might be for all I know, since people can actually learn to speak the Klingon language.). But I still really like what Cisco says to his son here because it expresses the same thing we believe about education.

We value authentic learning over traditional classroom achievements. It doesn't bother us that our kids will never have report cards. We'd rather them have shelves full of books they've read and reread, photos of history and science projects they done themselves and notebooks full of original drawings, reports and narrations.

There are so many things that can't be learned in a classroom (and there aren't many that a student must have a classroom for.) So we home school so that our kids have time to learn to appreciate subjects... like opera, for instance.

We study something in order to make it become part of our understanding from then on, not to pass a test and get a good grade and just move on to something else. We get to create a universe where it really is all about learning.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I have been reading several random sections of The Well Trained Mind that I haven't been able to give due attention to yet. There's so much content in this book, it's like it just keeps growing more content when I am not looking. I've poured over this book for days and days already, but there is still so much to see!

I made a list of the resources that stood out to me as I've read the last few days, the particular publishers or books or programs that I don't know about yet, that sounded like they may yet be useful at this point in our home school efforts, even after all that I've already done to prepare. I intend to look up the information that's on this new list I've made during my free time in the next few days.

I've already found an exciting resource I'd like to share with you called A.D.A.M. Inside Out. It's an visually stunning, interactive, online program that teaches about the human body structures and systems. Here's a photo I snapped during their online demonstration.

I wasn't planning to use this program before, but we may purchase a year's subscription and visit this site as we work through our Human Anatomy and Physiology books in the next several months. We'd get so much use out of this program. The timing really couldn't be more perfect.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I found this when I was cleaning out my hope chest. I wrote this a few days before I graduated high school.

Friday, September 9, 2011

They will lay in Norah's bed like this and watch shows on Norah's computer, sometimes for hours on lazy days like Saturdays. It's pretty sweet. Dwayne and I will often stand in the hall and peek in and watch them snuggle like this. Seeing them love each other is one of the greatest joys for Dwayne and I. I also enjoy it when Norah does things like play a video game, but asks Avril what she should do next. That's even better because Avril can't play so Norah is letting Avril play through her.

The way I see it: if they can love one another, if they can prefer each other and put each other first, etc. then teaching them to go ye therefore and deny themselves and love their enemies and all that will be a piece of cake. It seems to me that the biggest lessons can begin and end with how our kids learn from the little issues that arise from having to do the right thing by their brothers and sisters at home.

"Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10

When Norah is done with her school work, I give her a book from our reading list to read silently. She reads the whole book cover to cover and then answers my questions about it or narrates it for me.

If I would let her, she'd read two or three books from our reading list everyday! But, I keep these "reading" books high on the shelf because I like being able to give her a new, special book. It feels like a reward to her after she finishes all her school work. Even today she asked, "What book am I reading today?" and "Can I do my reading book before I do math?"

This reading book often puts her in the mood to read more, but I make her choose library books or books from our shelves at home to satisfy her need to read her for the rest of the day. But, she reads so much, she has read the same books several times now. She will often check out a library book two or three times before it gets "old." But, at this point, many library books, especially the fiction ones that have age-appropriate content, are already "old" to her.

With her reading a book a day, the list I have won't last more than a month or two. I am already working on the next list of "reading" books to compile for her. But, with that list, I am already assigning books that are on a forth and fifth grade level. I have some concern that the content in these books will quickly become too mature for her. She's only six.

I knew this would happen. I had heard other home school mom express concern and frustration over the fact that there aren't enough books with age-appropriate content for their advanced readers. So, I guess I expected this, but it looks like it might be happening much sooner than I thought.

Maybe we will make it our ambition, a fun goal, to read every age-appropriate book with decent content in the library. I'm not sure how we would know we read all of them except to start at one end of the room and check out books and let Norah read them till we get to the other end of the room.

Or maybe I can help Norah compile a long list of topics A-Z and check out every book on that topic that is in our library till we finish the list of topics.

I don't really know what to do! But I really need to find a more strategic, aggressive way to keep up with my daughter's love of reading before I run out of books to offer her!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What a difference a day can make! We really enjoyed this lesson in Norah's science book today. It required several pages of reading, too. But that was no problem at all, surprisingly. I guess our enjoyment depends much less on the amount of reading we do and more upon our interest in the subject matter. I had forgotten how fascinating cells are. And it was fun to be there for Norah's first exposure to this topic. She drew this cell herself as I read about each part of the cell and as she looked at the illustrations in her science text.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We had done only two days worth of Norah's new science program, Apologia's Human Anatomy and Physiology, and I was already feeling very negative about it. I called my sister-in-law very stressed out and after talking to her, I think, I think she has made me feel better about the issues I was having.

The first negative for me was the amount of reading. So much reading! Even I, the teacher/adult, began to hear the words, "Blah, blah, blah..." instead of what I am actually saying it was so much reading!

My sister in law explained that this anatomy book is probably the most advanced book Apologia offers for the elementary years and with that in mind, she isn't even going to use it till her kids are about to go into middle school, etc.

She suggested I cut down the amount of material each day and cover in four lessons what the book suggests I cover in two. I agreed that that would work, but realized later that that will seriously affect my tidy home school schedule. To cover the same material in one year, we will need to do science almost everyday, as often as needed really, instead of only twice a week.

I think I can do that.

But, besides all the reading, I noticed the fact that the notebooking pages did not give the student directions on how to complete them or even offer suggestions for what to draw or write on the pages. Norah had to complete the page above labeled "Anatomy and Physiology" but she was given no idea what she was supposed to draw in the two boxes or write on the lines under them. This was very stressful to us both for about ten minutes, until we decided together how to best fill the boxes and the lines with content.

Norah ended up drawing the outside of a body and the inside of a body (as far as she understands what's inside). I suggested she define the words "anatomy" and "physiology" but that wasn't the best suggestion really because the definitions are so very long that the science class turned into a handwriting challenge and there wasn't even enough room for the definitions on the page, so Norah needed another page...

All this was very confusing to me and Norah both until my sister in law explained the obvious. This is a journal, not a workbook. That should have been obvious to me since the cover says "journal." Kids are given spaces to fill with whatever they want, whatever was interesting to them, whatever they retained. There are no right or wrong answers. The fact that there are two boxes on this page today does not mean there are two specific images the publisher has in mind for Norah to draw today. There are just two boxes. The kid can fill one... or both... or neither.

I think I get that.

So, after talking to my sister in law, I think I can live with Norah's science program after all if I can just learn to be more flexible.

I think I can do that.

I think.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm not only re-working my bookshelves, I am also re-organizing my corner storage cabinet, too!

I'm doing all this work to organize because I believe if I just figure out how to best organize my bookshelves and school supplies now... while my oldest is only beginning the second grade, I will really benefit from all this extra effort and expense for years and years to come.

I've avoided putting serious mental effort toward organization until now. But, at this point, we are accumulating books and supplies in mass so it's time to get serious about keeping everything neat and in it's place so I can be a good steward of what I have and so it will last for much longer. (I am sure being pregnant is motivating me to do this as well.)

Notice the pile of trash I pulled out of this cabinet there on the floor! It's just so easy to stuff stuff into this cabinet before company comes over or when I just want the table clean now! But I have to stop doing that. I read a home organization website that explained one of the best ways to prevent clutter like this is to "decide to decide" whether or not to keep things right away. I need to do this. I need to be honest and realistic with myself about how likely I am to use the scraps of paper, the coupons, the fliers, the handouts, etc. and if I am not 100% sure I will use them and use them soon, I need to just throw them away before they pile up somewhere and become a burden.

I am not done with this cabinet, as you can see. I still plan to put Norah's paints in the bottom section as soon as I can figure out how to store them in that space. I need something she can pull out and put back in herself and preferably something with a handle. Right now, I use a picnic basket for her paints and brushes, etc. but that basket is too big for this space. The basket just sits near the table along the wall. It works alright, but I'd really like to have as many art supplies tucked away inside cabinets and on shelves as possible.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Avril watching Star Trek with Daddy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You know you're a home schooler if...

"bookshelves" and "drywall anchors" are items on your school supply list.

We added two bookshelves to the wall of our dining room today.

We have a table in our eat-in kitchen that we use for our family meals. We only need the dining room to be a dining room when we have guests over for meals... and that's only thirty or so nights a year. I am way too practical to maintain a dining room as just a dining room, not when I can use it every single day of the year to home school. I arranged the table in the room length wise now so that even with the shelves, there's still enough space for us and for any dinner guests to move around the table with ease.

Obviously, I've still got a lot of work to do on these shelves, on this entire room, in fact. But it's joyful work spreading myself from two bookshelves to four.

Here's a photo of the two bookshelves that I already had, taken a few months ago. And since this picture was taken, I had added several more books to our supply. Several. Things were getting so crowded, in fact, I was stacking books in piles on the floor in out of the way places all around the house!

Here's a photo of what the dining room wall looked like before. The shelf that was removed will be relocated (once Dwayne locates his level) to the wall above the couch in the adjoining room, low enough for me to reach what's on it but also high enough not to knock heads as people sit down on the couch. We will use it for books and supplies that we need when we are schooling on that side of the room.

Our book collection and home school rooms are growing just like our kids... Fast! Even with books from the library, Norah's appetite for reading is almost more than I can keep up with. It's a good problem to have, though.

I have a strong feeling "bookshelves" will be on next year's supply list and the next year's list, too. At that point, I am not sure where we will be putting the shelves, but we've got too much learning to do to worry about it right now. We'll figure it out when it's necessary.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We had our first ultrasound today. My friend Jessica watched the girls so Dwayne could be there. Everything looks prefect. The baby is measuring at nine weeks, confirming that the due date set, April 2, is within range. We saw the baby wiggling around and his/ her heart beating. This pic they gave me is not the greatest, but the images we saw on the screens today were noticeably clearer than those we could got with Norah or Avril. It's pretty amazing that the technology is still ever-improving.

Friday, September 2, 2011

If you are interested, here's a play by play of our first day of school. Some people are interested in how I manage it all.

Well, here it is.

But if you are squeamish about lengthy blog posts, I suggest you just come back another day and read. This may take a while.


Dwayne leaves for work.

Norah gets Avril out of bed and they come into my room and snuggle.

After about five minutes, I get up, go to the bathroom, change the baby's diaper and get dressed.

The girls are playing in Norah's room.

I shuffle into the kitchen, make my ice water, shuffle to the couch, take my thyroid pill, read my Bible and check my emails on my laptop.

Norah comes in about ten minutes later and demands food. I tell her she can make it for herself. She says, "Really?!" She toasts two bagels, one for herself and one for Avril. She gets out the cream cheese, smears it on, puts in back in the fridge. Lesson #1 for the day. They eat while I finish checking emails.

When they finish, they go play again.

I make myself breakfast and shout to Norah that she should get dressed, brush her hair, pee, etc.

I notice that Norah has forgotten to close the bagel bag so I call her in and she tries to close it once herself, but then I show her how to do it without leaving air in the bag.

By the time I finish eating, Norah is totally dressed and ready so she cleans off the kitchen table with spray and paper towels while I clean off the dining room table. We use both tables for school so they both need to be crumb-free.

I tell Norah to begin with handwriting. She hates handwriting so I try and do that when she is freshest and first to just get it out of the way. She gets her workbook, pencil and sits at the kitchen table (because I want to do dishes). While she works, I unload and reload the dishwasher and clean the pans and knives that can't be put into the machine. I am looking over my shoulder and giving her guidance, making her erase and redo certain letters, etc. I also manage to sweep, clean off the counters and wipe the stove top by the time she is done with two pages in her handwriting book.

I take out the garbage and tell Norah to grab the recyclables and bring them out to the big trash can, too.

Avril is playing in the living room with the toys in her toy box while all this is going on.

When the garbage is empty, I show Norah how to wet Swiffer the kitchen floor. She takes several turns mopping, throws away the dirty Swiffers, learns how to put on new Swiffers herself, moves kitchen chairs for me, etc.

She washes her hands while I put the kitchen trash can and all the chairs back in place, etc.

I tell her math is next. She gets her blocks and books out of the bench in the dining room. (It has a storage compartment under the seat.) I have to bring her a pencil cause she forgot to keep it with her. We watch the math instructional video on my laptop and I watch her do her math page, explaining some things to her as she goes.

Avril is wanting to climb on me. I let her sit on my lap, but then she wants to get on the table and get Norah's attention. I get her to pick up Legos and write on a coloring page with a pencil for a while. She is wanting climb again, but at this point, I tell her "No" firmly and tell her to play with her doll house that is right there in the dining room. I tell her I am watching her and that Norah is "doing school" and so she needs to play. She cries loudly but she is also walking to the dollhouse. She sits and looks over her shoulder to see if I am looking like I said I would. I watch as much as I need to to get her playing well.

Norah puts her math supplies back in the bench while I grab her spelling supplies.

I wash off some grapes and cut some up for Avril, too. Norah and I share the grapes while we do her spelling. Avril eats her grapes while she sits next to me.

Norah cleans up from spelling and the grape bowls under my direction while I grab her writing book and notebook.

I talk to her about the writing assignment for a minute, but she is going to be able to do her writing assignment on her own mostly. I take that time to call Avril over to the couch to do an ABC puzzle.

Norah finishes the writing page before Avril and I finish the puzzle. She helps Avril find and put in the last pieces.

We all sit on the couch and start her grammar lesson and practice memorizing a poem.

But Avril is climbing everywhere at this point, almost ripping pages out of Norah's open notebook, distracting Norah, so I tell her to go play on the carpet in front of the couch. She cries again but she walks to the carpet anyway. She sits in a fuss and pouts and cries louder. I tell her Norah is "doing school" and that she needs to be quiet while Norah works and she needs to play. She understands me and knows I am serious when I tell her she will have to go to bed if she isn't quiet. Eventually, she finds a basket of Barbies and a book to flip through.

Norah and I take turns reading John, Chapter 1 in her kid's Bible and talk about it verse by verse.

Norah begs to do science today. I was going to save it for next week, but say "Okay."

By this time, Avril has come over. I offer to let her color with Norah while Norah colors in her science activity book. Avril says "No" and points to the computer in the living room meaning she wants to watch a movie. I start Toy Story for her. She sits at the computer desk in the living room and watches the movie on the large computer screen while Norah and I do science in the kitchen to begin with, but then end up moving to the dinning room because Toy Story is too loud and distracting.

After science, I tell Norah she has to read "New Toes for Tia." She is not happy that I am choosing a book for her and she says so. I tell her to go to her room and read and come tell me what the book is about. She leaves in a huff with the book in her hand.

About ten minutes later, she comes back to the kitchen and tells me with enthusiasm all about what has happened in the book so far.

Norah reads some more silently, this time in the dining room while I am making lunch in the kitchen.

While she, Avril and I are eating spaghetti and meatballs, Norah and I discuss the story more. I have to read a page to help Norah understand why one of the chapters was called "Tia's new Father" and Norah said Tia's father hadn't died and her mother hadn't remarried or anything. Norah didn't realize that the text was saying Tia's father was becoming a new man as he started to let God change him.

After lunch, Norah says, "I guess I liked 'New Toes for Tia' after all." She then chooses another book to read silently in her room. Avril finishes watching Toy Story and I clean up and then sit down to drink another large cup of ice water.

The day goes on from there, but at this point, we are done with our formal home school plans. And for the rest of the day, Avril can get more attention and Norah can have more freedom.