Christmas Eve Countdown

Christmas Eve is one month from today.  What that means to me is that I need to kick it into high gear and get stuff done.

One of the subjects in our homeschool is Handicrafts. So, the girls and I will be working on some DIY projects that will double as gifts.

We will be working on several of the Handicraft projects I’ve pinned in Pinterest.

These little bow bracelets are so cute. The tutorial we are using is on the Polka Dot Chair website.

diy-bow-bracelets

Photo credit: Polka Dot Chair

Another craft we’re going to work on is a reusable cup sleeve. This tutorial  is on Crafty Staci

coffee sleeve

Photo credit: Crafty Staci

Of course, there will be body scrubs in Mason jars. I have a true love with Mason jars. Don’t get me started…

Back to the body scrubs, there are lots of recipes online. I’ve always just made my own with coconut oil, sugar, and whatever essential oil I like best at the time.

I’m sure there will be many projects and crafts done between now and Christmas Eve.

It’s countdown time…Let the creating and crafting begin!

Understood Betsy {Great Books}

 

betsy

Another great book that we discovered this year is Understood Betsy. This may be in my top ten favorite books of all time. The narrator is funny and sharp. The characters are so well developed that you will feel like you know them personally by the end of the book. The story couldn’t be better. I loved every page in this book. I told my husband about each chapter after we’d read it. Just hearing about it from us left him wanting to know how it all worked out in the end.

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about Understood Betsy

A warm and charming portrayal of life in the early 1900s. Sheltered 9 year old Elizabeth Ann has always heard her Aunt Frances talk about “those horrid Vermont cousins.” Now she is terrified. Aunt Frances can no longer take care of her, and she has been sent to stay with her New England relatives. “Betsy” gradually comes to enjoy the challenge of living with her country cousins, and she has a difficult choice to make. A delightful book.

This was a literature book for our homeschool. It didn’t feel like school at all. We all cried at certain chapters and my girls made me hold off with the final chapter for a week just because they could barely stand the thought of it being over.

This would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift for a child.

 

 

Challenges

Everybody has them. Some people excel in mathematics, others in science, others in the realm of technology. There are many people who have several things in which they really excel. For almost everyone there is at least one area of school or life or both that challenges them.

For my oldest daughter, Victoria, this is algebra. That girl could read at four years old and had poetry published by ten. Math, however, has made her cry on more than one occasion. She’s so incredibly smart that I have no idea what she’ll do in life because she could do anything except be a mathematician.

For my second oldest, Lillian, reading was her struggle. Diagnosed with a phonological processing disorder in third grade, it took her longer for her to learn to read and her confidence took a hit because of it. Years later, she reads like a pro, but her confidence still affects her willingness to do it. Her strength is that there is not anything that she can’t figure out and make happen.

My third daughter, Olivia, is a unique story. At the age of one, we had confirmed what I had long suspected…she had a brain abnormality. She has colpocephaly. It is extremely rare with only about 40 documented cases. We were told that since so few people have it that they had no idea what her life or her challenges would be. Today, she has begun to read and finally grasp the concept of numbers. She has the most incredible memory of any person I have ever seen. She can tell you what she did on a particular day down to what she had to drink.

Then there is Eva. She is a math whiz but also struggles to read. She is the truest example of a dyslexic that I’ve ever encountered. She learns best through listening and has a great memory too. She is good at history and loves science. She loves people and it shines through her daily encounters with those she meets.

So, what’s the point to all this?

As a homechool parent, I struggle with knowing if I’m doing the best thing for these children. There are days that I feel like I fail and other days where I feel triumphant. Truthfully, when I did student teaching in college I felt the same way, but they weren’t MY kids. One of the best things about homeschooling is being able to let each child move on where they are doing well and stay and continue to practice where they are not doing well.

That’s why at my house we don’t focus on what grade something is;  but rather if it is the appropriate level for that particular child.

I have tried SO MANY things to help my struggling readers. There are two that have made the biggest difference.

Years ago, when Lillian was struggling with reading we hired a tutor. She used a program called Academic Associates. Within a year she was reading well. It was incredible. We still use the binder with my two younger girls.

This is what their website says about the program:

“Our Reading Program uses the 44 sounds of English.

The Academic Associates Reading Program provides students of all ages the “tools” that unlock the million words of English. Amazingly, non-readers can be reading over 300 words within 3 hours!

Most students complete the program in fewer than 50 hours. They will gain 2 to 4 grades during this time.

Those with dyslexia and other learning challenges make remarkable gains.”

The thing that has helped my younger two girls has been Primary Phonics. It works very slowly through the sounds of the letters and the blends. I’ve ordered the books from Ebay and Amazon. They may even be available at some used bookstores or education stores as well. The progress I’ve seen since using this has been impressive.

primaryphonics_hero (1)

I’m excited to see what lies ahead for these girls. Our challenges don’t define us but refine us. They have more empathy for others because of what they see and experience. They learn that if you want something, sometimes it requires MORE….More time, more effort, more work; but it’s all worth it in the end.

Life would be boring if there weren’t any challenges.

The Hundred Dresses

Yesterday was National Young Readers Day. It is suggested that on that day parents and adults read to the children in their lives. This book is a great book to do just that!

I homeschool my children with the exception of my high schooler. I have homeschooled them from the beginning and for our family it was a very good decision. Anyway, with all that I have going on I usually only have time to read the books my children are reading or that I am reading to them. One of these books is “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes. I read it aloud to my youngest two girls and then made my older two read it because it is just so good! I cried. I usually do at good stories and this one is so very good.

Goodreads says,
“Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.”

This book was written over 70 years ago; but the message and the moral still ring true. Bullying is wrong. It hurts more deeply than we may ever realize. The bully is wrong, but the people who watch and do nothing are wrong too. One of the beautiful things in this story is the way that the girls who bullied feel remorse and have a true desire to make it right. The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”  is proved WRONG in this book. The girls in the story come to learn that words have weight and they can hurt more than a stone. The best part of all is that Wanda is one of those people who doesn’t carry bitterness.There is much to take away from this little 90 page book!  I think this is a must read for all children and this parent loved it too!

Today is Veteran’s Day so to all those who have served and those who are currently serving
: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.