Saturday, November 12, 2016

Day by Day

I don't remember ever considering having children until I was 30 years old or nearly so.  It's possible that the thought crossed my mind, but it wasn't something I dreamed of or planned for.  Exactly why my husband and I decided to begin to plan for children, as we neared 30, I really don't know. Maybe it just seemed like the next phase, just like finishing high school, going to college, getting a job.

So we set out to have children and parent them.  Seems simple, if you've never had any.  And although we had no idea what we were doing, we muddled through pretty well for a few years.  Frequently we found ourselves totally surprised by challenges we faced, and we discovered that our lovely plans for how all of this parenting business was going to go were pretty much useless. But eventually we'd figure something out and move forward, feeling pretty confident.

We exemplify the Peter Principle for parenting.  Instead of being promoted to the level of our incompetence, we had children to the level of our incompetence.  If you have more children when you think things are going well with the children you already have, eventually you add one more child and discover you didn't have things together as well as you thought you did.

By the time our fourth child was born, we realized we weren't managing the older three as well as we'd thought.  Our fourth was desperately needy, with incredible food sensitivities that caused him severe discomfort and kept him (and me) from sleeping or being at peace for days at a time.  Months of extreme sleep deprivation do not enhance a person's ability to cope with stress.  I was done.  We gave away almost all of our baby and maternity supplies, because I was not going to go through this again.

But God had other plans.  God had been real in my life since I was a very young child, and although at various times I pushed Him away so I could pursue my own priorities, I always recognized His presence and eventually came back to listen to Him.  And at this point, when I was finally ready to take control of my life and move on with as much competence as I could manage, God kept touching my heart with a feeling of unease.  I remember praying at the park with a couple of friends one day and telling God that if He really and truly wanted me to have more children, he'd have to convince my husband because I wasn't going to try.  Not long afterward my husband mentioned how nice it would be to have another baby.

I didn't know why God was asking us to have another baby.  We were happy and overwhelmed with the four children we already had.  Deciding to leave this up to Him was hard, and we set out with more fear and trembling than excited anticipation.  Almost immediately I was pregnant. About the time I had finally come to terms with the idea, I learned that the baby had died.  So we endured our first significant miscarriage, one that was far enough along to really be noticeable. Twice more I was pregnant and then not pregnant anymore, and we found ourselves realizing that we really were willing to parent another child, despite our misgivings.  We mourned each lost little one and wondered what God was doing.

The next pregnancy was hard, with physical challenges for me and concern over possible complications with the baby.  For several months, we wondered what lay ahead.  We braced ourselves for various difficult outcomes and tried to envision how we would cope.  The delivery was the most difficult of the five, and our little one spent three weeks in the hospital before she could come home, followed by several challenging weeks as we taught her to nurse.  Our whole existence was more complicated and less comfortable.  Most of our fears turned out to be groundless, but even still this little one required more of us than we thought we had to give.

Christians often say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  I think God does give us more than we can handle so that He can show us our need for Him.  Before having kids, I thought I had a pretty good handle on my life.  After each child came along, I struggled, but as I began to get things together I again started to think I had a pretty good handle on my life.  By the time our fourth was a few months old, I was realizing that I did not have a pretty good handle on my life, and I was trying to do my best to regain control when God said, "Let go and see what I will do."  I did not want to let go.  I didn't want to see what God would do.  I wanted to get my life back into the path I envisioned for it.  But God still said, "Let go."

Daily, as I try to fulfill my responsibilities to each of the people in my life, I see how short I fall.  Daily, I realize that I cannot do this.  Daily, I see that I do not have things together.  Daily, I'm confronted with my need for a Savior and my utter dependence on God.  Daily, I see His loving grace.  I have no doubt more extreme challenges lie ahead, and I know I do not have what it takes to meet them.  But God does, and I can trust Him to help me through.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Corn Tortilla Treats

I needed a gluten-free dessert, but I had very few ingredients on hand that I could be certain were not contaminated. Looking online, I found these oven-baked corn chips. But all my spices were potentially compromised, so my friend and I started experimenting.

Turns out, pieces of corn tortilla, topped with hazelnut spread or with butter and brown sugar, then baked at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes are pretty tasty!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Physics Lab in a Hardware Store, Part II

In planning for our upcoming AmblesideOnline Year 5 Term 2, I'm adding in the optional science book Physics Lab in a Hardware Store by Bob Friedhoffer.

I scheduled out Term 1 already.  For this second 12-week term, we'll divide up the readings like this:
pp. 51-54
pp. 54-57
pp. 57-59
pp. 60-63
pp. 63-64
pp. 64-66
pp. 67-68
pp. 69-70
pp. 71-72
pp. 72-73
pp. 73-74
pp. 75-77

Supplies

Items to view

(These aren't necessarily required in person, as the book has illustrations of them and they aren't needed for activities.)
  • claw hammer
  • pry bar
  • various wrenches
  • spring clamps
  • wheelbarrow
  • casters
  • screwdriver
  • circular saw
  • brace
  • hand drill

Items to use

(These are needed for observations and activities and may be required more than once.)
  • 24-inch piece of lumber
  • 6-inch piece of lumber
  • ruler
  • 5-pound weight (bag of flour, etc. will work)
  • fisherman's scale
  • heavy string
  • pliers
  • yard stick
  • outdoor faucet
  • screwdriver
  • screw
  • pen
  • drill with 1/16th bit
  • wood screw

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Uncle Remus

When we read the Uncle Remus stories in Year 0, I pick and choose the stories we read so as to be sure to read the most familiar tales and to avoid some of the more unsettling stories.  I do like to use the original Joel Chandler Harris version, despite the dialect, because Julius Lester omits the Uncle Remus frame story in his version and I think that part of the story is important.

If you are not familiar with these stories, you might want to read about why they are important.

This is the list of tales I read during the preschool years:
Uncle Remus Initiates the Little Boy
Wonderful Tar-Baby Story
Why Mr. Possum Loves Peace
How Mr. Rabbit was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox
Story of the Deluge
Mr. Fox Tackles Old Man Tarrypin
Mr. Rabbit Grossly Deceives Mr. Fox
Mr. Fox is Again Victimized
Mr. Fox Goes a-Hunting But Mr. Rabbit Bags the Game
Old Mr. Rabbit, He’s a Good Fisherman
Mr. Rabbit Finds His Match at Last
Mr. Rabbit Meets His Match Again
Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Bear
How Mr. Rabbit Lost His Fine Bushy Tail
Mr. Fox and Miss Goose
Mr. Rabbit’s Astonishing Prank
The Story of the Pigs
How Mr. Fox Failed to Get His Grapes

Monday, May 30, 2016

How I Scheduled Year 3

I'm in the process of scheduling Year 3 for the fourth time.  I'm going to blog my way through the process, in case seeing my thought processes helps some of you.  Bear in mind that of course what works for me may not be what works for you, ditto for my child and your child, and that my process varies somewhat from term to term and year to year.  I school four days a week because one day a week is spent at the park and at band, so that may be different from how you schedule too.

*** My section labels in these schedules are fairly arbitrary.  I don't really care if the label matches the section's contents.

I downloaded the chart schedule in the .doc format from the AmblesideOnline Year 3 Detailed schedule page.  (The Basic schedule page should pretty much match for Year 3.  At this level, the Basic schedule just doesn't show you any of the alternate titles you could use instead of the first choice titles.)

I prefer to manage my charts from Google docs right now, even though they don't print quite as nicely from there, so I uploaded my file to Google drive, opened it, renamed it, and shared it with my child and my husband (view only so that my child won't change it).

Now I start rearranging. I added a couple of rows and scheduled artist/composer in one and handicraft in another.  I added another row next to those and scheduled drawing, but for this child we're going to do mazes and dot-to-dots for "drawing" this year, just to give him some low pressure fine motor practice.

Looking at Bible, I just simplify the row labels.  In History, I see that Trial and Triumph has only three assignments.  I move those to weeks that only have one other history assignment, so that the three History rows have a total of two reading assignments each week between them.

We'll use Michelangelo by Stanley, so I change the daVinci row to say Michelangelo, take out the Biography heading, and add that row to History.  That gives me three weekly History assignments so far.

In the Natural History section, I've added two rows, one for the optional Science Lab in a Supermarket and one for One Small Square: Backyard, a book I recently acquired and hope to use to inspire some more focused nature study.  (We stink at nature study here.)  I'll report back later on whether or not it worked.  I will need to schedule weekly lessons for both of those books--Science Lab may already have assignments in the regular 36-week schedule on the AO website.  (It does.  For now, I've typed those into my chart.  Later, I'll pull out the book and double-check them, making a list of necessary supplies.)

In Literature, I notice Parables from Nature and Heroes are scheduled in one row.  I don't want to look at them that way as I balance the load, so I add a row and separate them.  Then I shift around Heroes and American Tall Tales a bit so that no week has more than one of Heroes, American Tall Tales, or Parables from Nature.  Then I shift the Shakespeare tales slightly so that they fall on weeks when American Tall Tales is scheduled, and I mark out Pilgrim's Progress on those weeks.  (So we won't read Pilgrim's Progress on Shakespeare weeks.)  This gives us three assignments in Literature per week, which allows us to stretch one assignment over two days if we need to.

I moved Marco Polo into History.  I'll pull up an old Year 3 schedule of ours to see how I scheduled Marco Polo last time.  Map drill can be the fourth item in Enrichment.  I think this year we'll do the puzzle map of Asia each week.  Sometimes I schedule mapwork as a separate subject, but we'll try not doing that this time.  I added Timeline to Bible since it had space.  I'm putting CM's Geography in History with Marco Polo.  I'll schedule it on the weeks when we don't have a Marco Polo reading.

I add Chores and Read Aloud (for my student to read aloud to me) to daily work so we don't forget.  I looked through the Blake poems and chose a portion of one I thought my ds would like.  I asked him for preferences for Bible memory, and he selected a parable, so I've pasted both the poem and the parable to the end of the Term 1 chart.  I also found a Spanish song from our Jose Luis Orozco CD and picture book, and I've put the lyrics to that at the end of the Term 1 chart too.

Sample Year 3 Term 1 Chart with Changes

***Update:  Looking through the schedule again, I didn't like the Bible category being so unbalanced, with two substantial readings plus the very easy timeline entry and nothing on day four.  So I moved Princess and the Goblin in the place of Timeline since PatG may need to be read twice during each week.  Timeline I moved to Literature, where the easy item may help as the other scheduled items may sometimes need more than one reading each week.

***I've created a checklist for my child to use along with this schedule.  He needs more structure to his day, so his checklist has time blocks on it.  I slide it into a dry erase sleeve so he can cross of items, then at the end of the day or week wipe them off and start over.  The left side is weekly and the right side is a daily schedule.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Physics Lab in a Hardware Store, Part I

In planning for our upcoming AmblesideOnline Year 5 Term 1, I'm adding in the optional science book Physics Lab in a Hardware Store by Bob Friedhoffer.

For this 12-week term, we'll divide up the readings like this:
Intro
pp. 21-23
pp. 23-25
pp. 26-27
pp. 28-29
pp. 29-30
pp. 30-32
pp. 33-36
pp. 37-39
pp. 39-42
pp. 43-46
pp. 46-50

Supplies

Items to view

(These aren't necessarily required in person, as the book has illustrations of them and they aren't needed for activities.)
  • tape measure
  • open-jawed calipers
  • vernier calipers
  • sandpaper with various coarseness (can be observed in the store)
  • file
  • motor oil
  • graphite
  • paraffin wax
  • axe
  • hatchet
  • maul
  • splitting wedge
  • cold chisel
  • wood chisel
  • plane
  • wooden wedge
  • ladder
  • various types of screws, including wood screws and machine screws (bolts) and nuts
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • toggle anchors and Molly anchors

Items to use

(These are needed for observations and activities and may be required more than once.)
  • open-jawed calipers
  • vernier calipers
  • sandpaper
  • tape
  • 3 feet of string
  • empty 1 liter plastic bottle with cap
  • scrap wood that is smooth on one side
  • fine sandpaper
  • coarse sandpaper
  • ball peen hammer
  • four 1-1/2 foot pieces of string
  • claw hammer, preferably an old one
  • two 10-penny nails
  • 1 to 2 foot piece of scrap 2x4 lumber
  • metal file (for filing metal)
  • ruler
  • notebook paper
  • scissors
  • pencil

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How I Scheduled Year 10

My oldest will begin Year 10 in a few weeks. Yesterday I visited the AmblesideOnline website, pulled up the Year 10 schedule page, and downloaded the .doc version of the Detailed schedule. I uploaded that to Google Drive and shared it with my dd and dh, granting them editing privileges. Dd can participate in the making of her schedule.  (The Basic schedule for Year 10 probably looks substantially different from the Detailed schedule.  Beginning in Year 7, the Basic schedule is no longer just the Detailed schedule without showing other options but rather is a lighter schedule that has fewer books read more slowly and in some cases even uses different books.)

Today she and I looked over the Term 1 booklist, pulling out some of our physical books to examine and consider. We know we must pare down. For instance, Year 10 Term 1 has books scheduled under Theology, Worldview, and Citizenship. We decided to just keep the Citizenship titles on our schedule for this term. The others will be free reads this time.

We also removed Churchill, not because we don't love his books but because we must pare down History. We replaced Uncle Tom's Cabin with Frederick Douglass' autobiography.  We looked at our books of Montaigne's and Emerson's essays, to see if the scheduled essays were included in our volumes.  Some were, and for those that were not, we substituted other essays that we did have in our books.

In the meantime, I have added three extra rows to Bible and am cutting and pasting the various passages assigned each week so that each passage is in a separate row.  Bible is now complete!

History has already had two books removed and a few essays substituted.  Now I need to add the replacement book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.  This done, it's time to consider the Historical Documents.

As much as possible, I will add links to the documents to a Pinterest board for Year 10.  That way it will be easy for dd to find the documents when they are assigned.  The AO Year 10 booklist has links to the recommended documents, which makes adding the links to Pinterest easy.  As I take care of this, I'm also shifting around the scheduled essays and documents so that no week has both a document and an essay assigned.

In the meantime, I am reconsidering removing Churchill.  This year, spending some time on world history might be of particular benefit, and since we've removed some other books we may have room to add Churchill back.  So I'll talk to dd about that tomorrow.

OK, so Churchill is going back in .  We'll also be adding Mommy Diagnostics by Shonda Parker as a lifeskills option.

I don't really care about the labels on our schedule sections.  I just care about balancing the workload throughout each week and each term.  So I added Churchill to Government, since History already had four assignments each week.  I also moved Essays and Historical Documents to Government.  Now it also has four assignments each week, so those two sections are complete.

Three short stories are scheduled this term, and Invitation to the Classics has four empty weeks.  I will shift those two rows around so that neither is scheduled in the same week as the other, so they will count as one row in a section.  How to Read a Book can go along with them.  I'll put one of those chapters in week one, where perhaps Invitation will be a bit light (and Ourselves has no assignment anyway), and the other in week seven, where I have no Invitation or short story.

I moved Poetry down to Daily Work.  I removed Walden from Science because we will need to focus our science readings more; Walden will be a free read.

To the science selections, I added a half module of Apologia Chemistry each week.  I am not scheduling science labs since those will be done irregularly, possibly with friends.  I am adding in Mystery of the Periodic Table, a Year 6 AO selection that this daughter missed because she did Year 6 before it was added.

After some consideration, we decided to use Universe Next Door in Citizenship, but spread it over two terms.  (We'll use Term 2's selection as a free read later, after the lit selections it references have been read.)

We selected our drawing book, and I assigned lessons for each week, keeping it short.  I added the artist and composer selections, Plutarch, and selected a handicraft.  History of Art does not have weekly assignments, so I divided the term's section into weekly work.

Per the AO booklist, we're adding in some lifeskills each term.  This year we're going to read Mommy Diagnostics, so I added a row to the chart and filled in weekly assignments for the first part of the book.  We're also going to read one that isn't currently on the list (but I'm lobbying for it), Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food.

I've added rows for the written work I want from her weekly: Book of Centuries, nature notebook, commonplace, and map drill.  Wait!  I forgot typing, again, so I'll take off commonplace, which she really does on her own anyway, and add typing.  (She works on typing up a public domain text that isn't yet typed.)

We aren't doing any formal English grammar this term, so that goes off the schedule.  Current events is coming off too because I don't want to track that.

I need to add a multi-day per week foreign language plan.  This year we'll focus on Spanish only because only one language can count for high school credit here.  Her other languages she can study on her own time.  For Spanish, I've listed two days a week reading from and translating from a Spanish reader and two days a week working out of a Spanish grammar.  For her, I won't schedule specific lessons each week this term.

That takes care of all weekly work listed on the master schedule.  Now I pull up last year's schedule to see what other items I may need to add.

I have not made any essay assignments.  I really don't have a good place in the schedule to put essays, and we'll be doing a written narration daily anyway.  Dd already writes really well, so this isn't a high priority right now.  I think I'll just give her a single assignment to work on over the term, some longer writing project, and maybe ask her to do some more creative written narrations this term.

Unless I think of something else I've missed, this should be complete except for Shakespeare and the recitation passages.

Year 10 Term 1 Sample Chart

Year 10 Term 1 Student Checklist  - I slide this into a dry erase sleeve so we can wipe it off each day/week and start over.  The right side is a daily checklist.  The left side is weekly.

UPDATE:  I have a newer edition of Evaluating Books, so I will be modifying that row on the schedule.  I will schedule it so we do approximately 3 topics per week (fewer some weeks) so we can still finish in Term 1.  It's about 20-ish pages longer than the edition scheduled in AO.