Friday, July 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes Friday


We celebrated Thomas' first birthday on Tuesday night. John insisted on making the whole meal himself, which he mostly did! I was on hand simply giving verbal guidance. The menu was chicken, fettuccine Alfredo (homemade sauce), and sauteed Portobello mushrooms.

After dinner, we opened Thomas' gifts. All the other children acted as if they'd never received a toy before: there was body-tackling to play with the baby toys!

Meanwhile, the actual birthday baby wandered off to play delightedly with the wrapping paper.

But Thomas really does enjoy his toys! Once all the kids went upstairs and he could be alone with his toys, he had a great time with them.

We sang Happy Birthday . . .

. . . and served chocolate cake and ice cream. He didn't much like it on the first bite!

But then he fell in love with the flavor. Yum!


The First Week Back to School!

For the 2016-2017 year, I am teaching preschool, Kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade.

Teacher, students, and baby mascot--with with the principal behind the camera

Our first week went well overall, with us trying to figure out our new routine, and three new curricula choices.

I am trying to bring Joseph (3) alongside me while I teach Margaret so he is (1) emotionally fed, (2) supervised, and (3) being taught a bit of preschool.

Listening to Margaret read for phonics
After I taught Margaret her lesson in Right Start Math, I had her teach it to Joseph.

Margaret teaching Joseph math

Margaret teaching Joseph math

While Margaret did her penmanship, I taught Joseph the letter 'A,' after I felt bad when he said he didn't know his letters like the other children at Library Story Time.

Both doing penmanship

So far this week, bringing Joseph alongside me (1) works extremely well for Joseph, who is finally having some attention paid him and is supervised so he's not getting into mischief, and (2) does not work well for Margaret, whose feelings are hurt and wants to be all alone in the Kindergarten for which she's waited so long and so eagerly. I'm in between a rock and a hard place, I'm squeezing blood out of the stone that is me, I'm tearing my hair out, and I'm out of metaphors.

Joseph said he was trying "a really bad storm."

I love how my neatnik Margaret says while during Music Theory, "Mama, please hand me a ruler to draw my corresponding lines." I neither taught her to say "corresponding lines," nor that she should use a ruler, so it must have been her theory teacher!

Drawing corresponding lines

As is traditional around here, we had doughnuts (thanks, Daddy) on the first day of school: served during Morning Basket time.

Thomas' first doughnut

The children and I really enjoyed our first lesson of Beautiful Feet's Geography Through Literature, which is using the same four Holling C. Holling books as the IEW composition course we've begun. We read the chapters, read some discussion points, then color and label the high-quality, elegant maps.

All week, it went fairly well to assign Mary an hour of occupying two younger siblings, and John an hour to do the same. I am giving many lessons about how the child is not to be a "brother" or a "sister" right now ("get out of my way, it's my turn on the swing!"), but more like a mommy or daddy, guiding younger siblings taking turns, coming up with ideas to occupy them, and helping them with food and water. This slows down how long it takes for school to be completed each day (because that older children could be doing book work for that hour), but it leads to more supervision and calm, so I'm hoping it will work for now. For Mary's shifts, she likes to plan out ahead of time that day's special activity, such as Tuesday being Sidewalk Chalk Day.

During one session outdoors, the children found a monstrous beetle in the back yard. I thought it was remarkable, but my dad (who owns a pest control company) told me that beetles are all around us and that the weight of beetles on earth is more than the weight of human beings.


Family Books of the Week (in progress or completed)

I discerned it would be prudent--and enjoyable--during our first week back for me to read again "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit" by Teri Maxwell. I highly recommend it.


Meals of the Week 

. . . shared to show that "My career is homeschool mother, not gourmet chef!"

  • Saturday (still just me and the baby boys)
    • hot dogs, mac & cheese, cooked cabbage
  • Sunday
  • Monday
    • hamburgers, (frozen) sweet potato fries, cheese tortellini
  • Tuesday: Joseph turns one!
    • homemade Alfredo sauce with fancy striped bow tie pasta, chicken strips, sauteed Portobello mushrooms, Chocolate Cream Cake (that we eye at Aldi's every week and finally had a reason to buy) with vanilla ice cream
  • Wednesday
    • Fast food on the drive home from a swim play date
  • Thursday
    • Assemble-your-own Pizza, green salad
  • Friday
    • Grilled cheese sandwiches


Little Moments

Mary found a little New Testament of mine and was delighted on her own to search out some Scripture in it that she recognized from our daily Scripture at meal time (see here). The first week of learning more Scripture has gone so well: the children often ask to do the four Scripture readings twice per day, and Mary is now walking around with this little Bible. It was neat to read the inscription inside the Bible saying that I took it to a papal audience to be blessed on May 18, 2005, which means I met my husband 13 days following.

Thomas is decidedly a climber, like his siblings. I don't have many pictures because I'm usually running to take him down. He climbs onto the train table, onto chairs, onto the stepstool . . .

Yesterday, I heard some quiet minutes during what should have been piano practice, so I investigated: Mary had retrieved Pink Monkey and set her up with her own booster to practice alongside.


After listening to Andrew Pudewa's three-part podcast on Pen and Paper, I am experimenting with letting my children write with pen in school. This flies in the face of the hard-and-fast rule of my generation's youth: "You may write only in pencil! Use a pen only for your final draft!" (And pen really was reserved for older ages, maybe not in elementary school at all.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Pudewa's observations of some difficulties of using pencil match what I've seen: children sharpen them way too often, they grip them too tight, while children are irresistibly drawn to pen. He was able to offer what I think are solid reasons to let children simply write with pens (he requires it, and snaps pencils in half), and they may cross out a word they misspell and write it again.

The Pen and Paper podcast is in three parts (start here) and, while most of the series is discussing the pros and cons of e-readers versus paper books, Part 3 discusses writing with pencils versus pens.


  1. Congratulations on a new school year! You have a beautiful family.

    "All the other children acted as if they'd never received a toy before" --> So true!

    Ugh. I wish I had a solution for Margaret and Joseph. Do you think she'd mind as much if Joseph just listened from your lap? Like a little lap kitten with no talking? Then he could practice on his own...

    This is our first attempt using Beautiful Feet Books. We're going to follow the Early American History materials. Have you ever encountered any bias in the materials before? That was one hesitation I had with the company.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Alicia.

    This is my first time using Beautiful Feet products, but I'm not using anything that has a slant to it. I'm using the IEW/Beautiful Feet writing product based on the Holling C. Holling books, and I'm using the Beautiful Feet geography program based on the same books.

    For history, I've used Connecting with History (RC History) for five years because I don't feel I have time or vigilance to watch for anti-Catholic bias. Some people are smarting than me and they can figure it out!

  3. I have resorted to buying the disposable mechanical pencils. I hate that the regular ones always need to be sharpened.
    I will need to listen to the pod cast it sounds interesting.