Archive for April 2011

Reading List April 2011

April 30, 2011

Thank goodness Easter has arrived, and I am no longer bound by my Lenten sacrifice of giving up books for pleasure reading.  However, thanks to tons of illness during the Lenten season and the continued opposition of my children, nightly read aloud time fell to the wayside.  So, I won’t be keeping track of something that doesn’t exist (Kids Read Aloud lists).  I did manage to squeeze a few books in between Easter and the end of April.

1.  The Homeschooler’s Book of Lists by Sonya Haskins:  This is just what it says it is–a book of lists of the main points for every subject.  This is a great resource that I am definitely purchasing.  The lists can be used as  great starting points for planning a subject or going back to make sure nothing important was missed.  Some of the lists can be used as “cheat sheets” for things like remembering parts of speech or types of government.  There are also some great ideas for writing assignments.  A CD version of the book is included for easy printing/copying of lists.  I should make others aware that it has a very Protestant Christian perspective on some subject lists.

2.  And One Last Thing by Molly Harper:  This is Harper’s first book that isn’t labeled “supernatural romance”.  It’s a really fun read about a woman who learns that her husband is having an affair and what she does about it.  Molly Harper kind of reminds me of an R-rated Meg Cabot.  (Don’t say I didn’t warn you about some of the adult content!!)

3.  The Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery:  This book was recommended by priest’s wife.  Although I’ve read a lot of Montgomery’s books, I had never even heard of this one.  I love the character of Valancy Stirling, even if her home situation is a repeat of Emily of New Moon (written in the same period).  It’s fun to see what happens when Valancy lets loose, but I wish the ending wasn’t quite so fairy tale.

4.  The Catholic Homeschool Companion edited by Maureen Wittmann & Rachel Mackson:  This is a collection of essays for and about Catholic homeschooling by some notable Catholic writers.


7 Quick Takes (v. 47)

April 15, 2011

1.  This has been a terrible Lent.  First I had the mastitis.  Then just as I was starting to get back into the groove after that, I (along with the two younger girls) got hit was a terrible head cold.  Part of me wonders if this is the Lord’s way of trying to break me down, so that He can build me back up a little bit better.  I just want to say, “Ok, I get it.  You can stop now.”  But then I wonder if saying that just goes to show that I still don’t get it.  I’m just tired of feeling crappy, and the fact that I am definitely not handling being sick in a saintly manner probably reinforces that I’m still not getting it.

2.  I finally gave in and had the cable reinstalled upstairs.  But I made the rule that the kids can only watch previously recorded shows on the DVR unless they get special permission.  We’re holding on to our Netflix for now, but we may eventually cancel that.

3.  I don’t want to cancel the Netflix, though, until I finish watching the one and only season of Jack & Bobby.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how politically center it is when I was expecting a bunch of liberal rhetoric.  It’s not perfect, but Christine Lahti is so fun to watch as the ultra-liberal big mouth college professor single mom.  And the guy who played older son Jack graduated from my university.

4.  We’ve had some warmer weather around here.  I actually had to turn on the A/C last week.  The girls got lots of playtime outside with their neighborhood friends.  It just reminded me, though, that we really need to get some new floor fans for the house before it really gets hot.

5.  We pulled Piper (5 1/2) out of softball.  We partly don’t think the coach was a good fit.  He suggested we could just move her to a different team, but we also think that she just wasn’t ready for softball.  She just seemed kind of over-whelmed by it all.  Ideally, I would have had her complete the season (which had barely started), but I just couldn’t see making all of us miserable for the next three months just to uphold some principle.

6. We’ve discovered that Sabrina (10 months) has a built-in homing beacon for every choking hazard in the house.  It doesn’t matter what I clean up, vacuum, or even throw away. She will find the one choking hazard tucked away in a long-forgotten corner or under a piece of furniture where her chubby hand can reach it…and then she will put it in her mouth.  She has been the absolute worst of the four about this, including Bailey who ate ladybugs at this age.  But lady bugs aren’t choking hazards at least.

7.  Nine more days until Easter.  It’s getting really hard to resist the temptation to crack open a book, especially when I just want to escape from how crappy I feel.  I became so desperate that I dug out old five-year-old magazines just to be able to read something off-line.  I’m not sure that giving up books for pleasure reading has really been as spiritually edifying as I had hoped (in fact I may have become worse), but….only nine more days until Easter.

7 Saints for Fertility and Family

April 10, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, my “prayer thang” is to pray for pregnant women that I know or know through association.  I usually pray for an easy and healthy pregnancy, a safe and easy delivery for mother and baby, and an easy and quick recovery.  I also pray for women considering an abortion and the protection of their unborn babies.  I got to thinking that maybe I should talk to a few canonized saints who also make it their “thang” to pray for things related to fertility and family.

1.  St. Gerard Majella:  patron saint of pregnant women and childbirth

2.  St. Joseph:  patron saint of the unborn and fathers

3.  St. Brigit of Kildare/Ireland:  patron saint of newborn babies

4.  St. Rita of Cascia:  patron saint of infertility

5.  St. Anne:  patron saint of mothers, grandparents, housewives, childless couples, and sterility

6.  St. Nicholas:  patron saint of children

7.  St. Mary, Mother of God:  Of course, no such list would be complete without Jesus’ own mother.  She’s the perfect example of someone who dealt with a surprise pregnancy with grace (pun intended).  As a mother to us all, we turn to her to intercede with her son on our behalf and the behalf of others.

Teaching Styles and Learning Styles

April 6, 2011

When I was in college, there was a professor in my major who used to write the key points of his lecture in outline form on the blackboard while he talked.  Besides being a wonderfully nice guy (he was my academic adviser), he was an excellent teacher in my opinion. I learned so much in his classes (I took everything he taught that I could fit into my schedule).  One semester a friend of mine from another department took one of this professor’s classes to fulfill a humanities course requirement.  We would sometimes study together, especially since he knew that I was familiar with this professor’s testing style.  My friend admitted that he wasn’t really enjoying the class.  I think he found all of the notes on the board distracting.  While I ate up the way this beloved professor taught (audio-visual), my friend who was probably a kinesthetic learner starved.

This was the first time it really hit home to me how different teaching styles and learning styles can be important.  Knowing about teaching styles and learning styles is basic for being a homeschooler.  This doesn’t mean that you have to study each type or take a personality quiz (although there are books for this if you want).  It basically comes down to what makes you and your child comfortable or uncomfortable in the educational process.

For instance, I realized early on that just the thoughts of spontaneity and hands-on learning make me sick to my stomach.  As a result, I plan almost everything and avoid craft and science projects like the plague.  My oldest daughter doesn’t have the focus for abstract auditory learning; she’d rather just do it than hear about how to do it.  To appease her, we don’t go through the abstract explanations in her math text book; we go straight to the workbook.

The other day I was working on my science plans for grades 5-8.  (Yes, I know she is just finishing up 2nd grade, but I told you that I am a compulsive planner!)  We’ll be using The Usborne Encyclopedia of Science as our text, but I was trying to figure out exactly how we are going to use it.  I decided to go through and make a list of important words to define or key concepts for each two-page topical spread.  For instance, on the topic of Teeth (p. 352-353) she should list the “Four Main Types of Teeth”.  I figure that after using the study guides made by me for two years (5th and 6th grade) I would have her take notes for herself from written text in 7th grade.  Besides learning about science, she would also be learning an important school and life skill: discerning key points from the written word.

Then I started thinking about she really needs to be prepared to handle different types of teaching styles that she might come across in college.  The teaching methods might vary a lot from class to class, even with the same professor, depending on the purpose or content of the course.  Some professors have highly organized notes that they write out on the board (or in these days on Power Point) for students to copy.  Others rely heavily on class discussion.  Subjects like music or chemistry usually require more hands-on learning.  And some professors only write down the harder to spell or unique words from their lecture, requiring the ability to discern what information is important from an oral presentation with little visual guidance.

I know that I will have to push myself outside my comfort zone some to offer more hands-one learning experiences, especially when it comes to science.  But it occurs to me that I will need to prepare Bailey especially to handle this last style of teaching that she might encounter in college.  We just don’t do much strict lecture in our homeschool environment.  (The closest thing to it is when we go over history pages twice a week, but my goal for history at this point is just planting mental seeds not memorization of the material.)

Now do I think we need to devote all of our time to this?  No.  I don’t subscribe to the educational theory that people should be repeatedly subjected to unpleasant things just to condition them into numb acceptance of the depressing inevitability of it (pointless repetitive work).  But I believe that you can prepare someone to handle unpleasant things with grace and competency when they arise.

I’ve not yet decided how I want to handle this.  And I really don’t think it would be productive until at least 7th or 8th grade after Bailey has had more experience with note-taking from written sources.  I suspect that a subject will arise that will offer the best opportunity.  This is just something that I wanted to tuck into the back of my mind (or blog, as the case may be) for now.

7 Quick Takes (v. 46)

April 1, 2011

1.  I put away the snow boots yesterday, but I kept out the snow pants.  I figure that we probably won’t get enough snow to make the boots necessary but it still might be plenty cold at softball games to make the snow pants useful.

2.  We still need to get Piper some cleats for softball.  The run about $40 a pair new, but I figure they are a good investment because a) it keeps her regular tennis shoes from getting destroyed by mud and b) they can be passed down to the two younger girls eventually.

3.  Speaking of handing down shoes, I dug into my big box of used shoes in search of sandals yesterday.  I found a pair of dress shoes that are slightly big for Piper but will fit her perfectly by the end of the summer.  I found the little baby crocs for Sabrina to use  when she wants to practice walking outside this summer.  But I really hit the jackpot for Katie:  dress shoes, sandals, and tennis shoes.  They are all very slightly big, but not enough to be unwieldy.  The tennis shoes are the exact style of her previous ones but two sizes bigger.  I wonder how squished her toes have been in that old pair.

4.  It’s still way too cold to wear sandals out and about here, but we’re going on our big shopping trip for spring/summer clothes this weekend.  I’ve been digging through boxes of hand-me-down and stored seasonal clothes for two weeks to make my shopping list.  I discovered that Piper has like five million shorts, skirts, and skorts to wear this summer and Sabrina has like five million dresses.  Since Katie and Sabrina both have summer birthdays, I’ve put some clothing on their gift lists to keep our shopping costs down.

5.  I decided that looking up topic headings and page numbers to organize homeschooling things for the summer didn’t count as pleasure reading, which I gave up for Lent.  By being so harsh on myself I was basically taking away all forms of recreation.   (Yes, I am such a nerd that homeschool organization is fun for me.)  It’s hard enough not getting to really sink my teeth into some good books without completely making myself crazy.

6.  I love watching how baby Sabrina can totally lift the bad mood of one of her big sisters just by her presence.  I also love to watch them loving on and playing with her.  It warms the cockles of my heart (somewhere in the sub-cockle region).  So many people only think of babies in terms of what they take away (money, energy, time) but not in terms of what babies give just by being.

7.  Now if you’ll excuse me it’s time for me to eat a little Lenten lunch that I invented in college:  a sauerkraut sandwich.  Think of a meatless Reuben with extra sauerkraut.