I am Woman

Watch me rearrange.

Ayup. Rearranged the front room again. Just for fun; wanted a change.

Jay says he likes it, so it’ll probably stay this way for a while.

Don’t have any pictures to share (an “after” feels weird with no “before”), but I guess if you can remember the way the room used to look (table by the kitchen island, couch under the front window), you might imagine how it looks now:

Piano under the front window, couches making a corridor of the entryway rug, and the table against the double doors that don’t open in the winter.

It feels very cozy and tidy just now.

Today’s “Funs”

Natasha (commenting on the shape of the syrup she just poured): Look, it’s like octopus tentacles grouped above its head!

Interesting that a girl who still says “muquis” instead of “music” can articulate “Octopus tentacles.”

Melody (at breakfast): Mommy, can you scoot me in the proper way?

And when I went down the hall to learn what Elisha was up to, I saw him sitting quietly on Natasha’s bed, “reading” his opposites board book with a stuffed seal under one arm.

I’ve got such sweet, fun kids.

Beginning Homeschooling

So I did my first “concurrent” lessons today.

One thing I’ve wondered as I think/plan for this new job (homeschooling) is how I will prepare different things for different needs.

While the girls were napping today I read some more of a homeschooling book and took a couple ideas from there to make some “Language Arts” games.

Natasha has fabulous sight-reading skills, so I used some 3×5 cards to write some sentence components. I woke her up “early” from her nap to practice making sentences.

One word to a card, things like “My name is Natasha.” And a couple punctuation and Capital-opening cards.

Each name in the family was on a card, along with Thorin, and a half-dozen cousins. And the words “cat” and “cousin.”

We probably spent 20 minutes building sentences with exchangeable parts like, “Abby is my cousin.” and “Elisha is a boy.” We did lots of sillies too, and included the card “not” in its proper place.

When Melody got up I had a “game” waiting for her too.

I’ve noticed recently she doesn’t have all her letters memorized, and (again following a suggestion from the book) I made little “matching cards.”

I cut some 3x5s in half and made five each of B,b,M, and m.

The idea is to help her recognize letters that are not at all alike, and gradually introduce letters that are more similar when she’s ready for finer distinctions.

She adored the matching and sorting and pairing (big with the babies). Took it with her to show Grandma, even. Natasha brought hers too, but she had forgotten to put the “not” in the game-bag, so the sentences weren’t as fun as they had been earlier.

This evening I printed off some nicely illustrated sight-word lists to go over with Natasha.

We did the first four pages before bedtime story, and she was surprisingly eager, considering they’re just *random* words, but I guess when you’re doing well at something that’s its own motivation to continue.

She got more than half right on the first go.

Currently I’m vaguely concerned about her reading orientation, and don’t know if this is something to look at “early intervention” on, or just let it “work itself out.”

I wonder if she could be dyslexic or else just not trained enough to focus first on the first letter. The wh-words she “sight-read” as th-words (where became there, when was then), and no came out as on.

Natasha also “read” us a (very long) story right after dinner. She went without a pause and I finally gave up on trying to transcribe, because I couldn’t keep up enough for it to be coherent. I just have this opening. (She was reading from a book where the pictures of animals and birds are made of numbers):

Once upon a time in a land no one had ever seen a farmer named Bill Dutson went out to his garden….”That must be a bird who can find easily where numbers belong.” [farmer speaking after seeing a bird made of numbers]

Ah! That wasn’t the proper way!

Boy, he had never seen such things, but he knew a duck should never see such a thing.

Failed experiment?

Well that was a total shot in the dark.

Our girls have been staying awake more than an hour after being put to bed. Whenever they are put to bed.

Granted, we haven’t put them down before 8 p.m. (and one book I have says you have to have littles down by 7:30 or they hit their second wind), but they’ve never been to sleep less than an hour later.

I find this highly irritating. And I’m sure they do too.

I’m out here, working on my novel or reading a book that takes some thought, and these poor kids wander out every 20 minutes or so to remind me they exist and they’re bored out of their skulls.  (Really, 20 minutes is a long time for kids this young to do nothing, so relatively speaking they’re doing well.)

Tonight I offered to let them read in bed while they were awake, hoping it would wind them down, and give them a way to occupy their minds until they were tired.

In the back of my imagination I knew there was a chance they could fall asleep while reading, but I wouldn’t bank on it, because I know I *never* fall asleep reading something of my own choosing. My eyeballs dry up and I finally choose to put the book away before sleep will come.

And here we are 2-hours after I gave them their reading lights and they’re both awake and asking for the end of their bedtime routine (snuggles before I become the ogre and growl at them for being out of bed).

As preschoolers they really have no concept of the amount of time that has passed, but I do, and it’s more than the time they would have had awake in the dark.

I guess we’ll try again tomorrow (I’ve started waking them in the morning and from nap) with a *much shorter* time of reading aloud, and see if they sleep sooner or not after solitary reading.

Homeschooling in Alaska

Dude. I am going with Option 1. (PDF)

Talk about simplifying my life.

I found some more teaching materials yesterday (reference and textbooks were half-off at Forget-Me-Not this week). Just went through that and what I’ve already collected, organizing them into an Excel sheet so I can find and keep track of what I’ve got and what I need.

Woefully short on anything math-related, but that’s okay, considering that what I want won’t be in the used book stores I’ve been collecting from. I’m very excited about the things I do have, and 60% ready to make my own curriculum rather than go with a premade pack.

The reason for this is mainly the hugeness of choosing a curriculum.

There are *so* many options I get frozen up, whereas the 1-3 books I’ve collected on a subject I brought home because I *loved* already.

My “next step” is to find a way to compare the actual content of a Kindergarten year and a 1st-grade year, to decide which Natasha should be doing.

I’ve reserved two books at the library to help with that.

Words and Writing

Natasha wrote her first Thank-you notes today.

She and I practiced the letters in “THANK YOU” (She only wanted to do caps) until I felt they were recognizable, then I drew a straight line in a blank card and she wrote her thank-you on it. Then she decorated all the rest of the inside with stamps and markers.

The writing wasn’t easy. I coached her through each letter— where to start and which direction to move, how to space, and so on— four times.

But she was *very* proud of herself when she was done.

I don’t know if she would have been willing to try if she hadn’t just seen Mr. Rogers write a thank-you yesterday.


During snuggles tonight Melody was telling me a story and used two “big” words– a couple times, like she was practicing. I didn’t write them down immediately so I lost one. The one I remember is “horrified.”

“He was just horrified,” she articulated, mouthing the word as if it were delicious. There was a huge smile in her voice.

Setting Goals

So, mainly from recognizing the influence that goals had on me as a foster parent, I’ve decided I need to set goals for my own kids. And these are going to be basic, realistic goals here.

“Independently using the potty” is too big a goal for Melody just now. We’re going to start with just “Uses the potty when cued without complaining.”

For Elisha, the big one I would have put at the top of his list Jay just saw the fruition of Saturday night: Understanding and accepting the concept of ‘taking turns’.

Jay has been consciously working on that goal every time he has all three kids together. Elisha would consistently wig-out at having to let the ball go and watching someone else catch it.

Then, Saturday night when I was out storytelling, Jay was throwing the ball to each of them in turn, saying their names before tossing it, and Elisha got it. He sat and waited until his name was called, and then came alive, “catching” the ball and then throwing it back to Jay to pass to the next kid.

*Very* cool.  A lot of kids older than 20 months still don’t have this figured out 😉

So here are my little-step goals I want to keep in mind as we go through our days (the mechanism of attaining the goals is not always obvious, but I found before that focusing on the goals seems to shape what happens into meeting them).

For Natasha:

  1. Will use consistently kind words and tone, even when frustrated with siblings.
  2. Will be willing to read aloud when cued.
  3. Will put away books and toys when finished.

For Melody:

  1. Will use the potty when cued, without complaining.
  2. Will begin spontaneous sentences in a low voice.
  3. Will use words to express emotions, rather than crying or pouting.

For Elisha

  1. Will use words and signs rather than grunts for specific requests.
  2. Will patiently wait during diaper changes.
  3. Will stop grabbing objects from others.

All of these are things that we don’t currently have, but are (I believe) near enough that they’re not unreasonable.

Natasha Milestones

She combed out her own hair after a shower, and use the ‘Y’ in yellow for the first time.

In the “Cinderella dressed in Yella” rhyme.  Only, when the girls do it it’s a non-distorted “true” word.

They were still asking for “The Sound of Muquis” (sounds almost like mucus) instead of The Sound of Music just yesterday.  So they haven’t lost all their “cute talk.”

Mom always cringes when they girls use that word, and Dad snarks when they talk about the movie.

We figure they’ll get it right eventually and till then it gives us a laugh.  Worth letting it stick around until it dies a natural death.   I don’t think it’ll make it to 5th grade.

Books Figure Largely in Our Lives

Like I mentioned earlier, I spent most of January 1st working on books.

The girls and I traded bookshelves in our bedrooms. These pictures are the girls washing their “new” kid-sized bookshelf.

washing-m.jpg washing-n.jpg

And then I saw Elisha in his little rocking chair, sitting with “Where the Wild Things Are” in a perfect photo-op set-up. But Jay flopped out behind him on the bed and the boy immediately climbed over the back of the chair to get his daddy to read to him.


There were so many great expressions the camera was *just* too slow to catch, but these were still fun too.



That last one is E roaring at the pictures of the “wild things.”

It’s so fun to watch my family do stuff together!