Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Need a Sub

The day started off as it normally does: my husband's alarm went off at 5:45 am. But then it changed from there. He didn't press snooze right away. The morning hosts or the radio was listened to for a while before he pressed snooze. Admittedly, while it's normal for my husband's alarm to go off at that hour and for him to press snooze for the next hour, it's not necessarily normal that I'm in the bed at that point, having either moved somewhere else before that to try to sleep through that time or just having gotten up to get moving with the day.

But in the bed I was and no urge to move anywhere, even though I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. More snooze buttons pressed. A bit of cuddling. Then another snooze button. When my husband finally got up around 6:45, I stayed in bed. I almost never stay in bed at that point.

He got ready, I stayed where I was and actually drifted in and out. Had strange dreams like someone coming to our front door to talk to us about what people can see through our windows and how there's this one man we need to be careful of which window he can see through--at which point somebody from across the street came out, zipping up some sort of suit-thing he was wearing, which filled up with air and made him huge and the poor woman at our door started freaking out. This caused me to wake up. Then I drifted back to sleep and had more weird dreams, like my son opening the dryer and us finding a kitten hiding inside--we figured he'd come up through the vent. (?! lol) We've been talking lately in non-dreamland about the possibility of getting a kitten, but not through the dryer.

This continued until I finally made myself get up--after 8 am. I honestly don't know when the last time was that I slept past 8 am. Maybe summer after having gotten back from our trip.

I dragged myself out of bed, to the bathroom, then to my "spot" on the sofa in the media room. By the time I'd grabbed my laptop, I'd realized that I am sick: my throat hurts, my body aches, my head hurts, I want nothing but orange juice and to curl up in a blanket and watch movies all day. During my in-and-out in the bed, I had the thought that I wondered if a niece or nephew would be sick today so I wouldn't have to go pick them up after school; my sister-in-law texted not long before I got up that both nieces are sick and she's home with them, so I don't need to go pick them up.

All of this to say: I need a substitute SAHM/homeschooling mom today. Somebody to make sure my son gets work done and help him with his social studies research. Somebody to make lunch and supper. Somebody to plan and prep my French class for tomorrow (my brain has already thought, "What's the simplest thing I could do tomorrow? Games!"). Yes, unless I can't physically move, I will be at that French class tomorrow. The fortunate thing is I use gestures in the class and they say the words, so if I can't speak tomorrow (I haven't yet had the opportunity to try today), there's still a lot I can "say".

Picture taken from
Shirt available here

In searching for a picture to include in this post, I actually found a couple of links with some good tips for these times when you wish you could call in a substitute teacher. Perhaps they can help you, too, prepare for the inevitable day when you want a sub!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Last week of January!

January has felt like a very. long. month. At the same time, I feel like, "Omg, it's already the end of January! What have we actually accomplished??"

So, let me actually take the time to look at that:

17-year old
*We finally got in her November physical education hours. Still have to do her December--and now her January--hours and send them in. Discovered that I lost the assignments she had started for her PE class. They're not due until June, technically, but still...
*She has finished 3 units (just about--just has to redo the review quiz) for social studies.
*She has done 1 art assignment (that we need to take a picture of and send in)
*Not school-wise: She has been to a massage and acupuncture session; has her second one tomorrow. She actually made it once to ballet class and will be there again tonight; she's been getting sick a lot this winter and has missed a lot of ballet classes. She had a private dance lesson last week to prepare her for a solo for a competition (well, festival). She's still working the same hours at a pizza place and practising driving.

14-year old
*He's starting to do some more physical activity. It helps that a little toy basketball hoop was set up in the basement. I need to get him doing more.
*He's still doing his weekly guitar lessons, but has been slacking a bit on the practising. I had a little chat with him about the fact that we're paying for the lessons, his teacher--whom he respects--has told him how much of a difference practising makes and he even made up his own schedule (at his teacher's request) and was following it very well until Christmas holidays hit.
*We didn't read at ALL from the French book this week.
*He finished reading Lone Survive, but doesn't have a follow-up book to read in English. I'm thinking of finding him another non-fiction survival story, maybe something easier. Into the Wild or Into Thin Air are two possibilities.
*Social Studies: We've dabbled in it more than in the past, focusing on government. Hopefully getting going with the lapbook on Canadian government this week.
*Science: We've dabbled with that, too. I need to be more specific with my plans and follow through! My "3 times this week" doesn't work. :P
*French: I got him to write a little response to a topic and he's done some grammar work. Definitely an area I have to be more intentional, more specific.

Bit-by-bit, though, he's doing more! Woot!

What about me? :)
*The pressure is on more to find a replacement income. Some searching online for different things, the idea of running an academy--one where homeschooling kids, and perhaps eventually the adults, can learn French--came to mind and I've been working increasingly on that.
*Reading hasn't been done so much...
*Morning routine of prayer and rotator cuff exercises and such is getting better.
*Doing Natalie Sisson's 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge (but posting to a different blog) and have been getting more blog posts done that way.
*Dealing with pink eye. :P

What about you? How has the homeschooling been going so far for 2015?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up--January 24, 2015

We'll see if I can remember to write another post next week with the same subject line, but there is a part of me interested in starting this as a regular feature.

This week's Wrap-Up:

*New things: 

My 14-year old son has changed his mind about learning Lua and has started working on something called Unity (which he seems to think is still Lua, but my research would indicate otherwise). There is a great section to learn how to script in Unity with guided projects and tutorial. He's doing the Roll-a-Ball tutorial right now, having made it through the "Moving the Camera" video on Thursday. It's not as fun as he thought it would be, but I told him that the early stuff isn't necessarily fun--it's once you have enough knowledge to make your ow things, then it really gets fun. My job with this is to make sure he does it a few times a week.

*Old things:

Social studies for the 14-year old: We're continuing our studies in the Canadian government by starting a lapbook. That was yesterday's little bit of work in that area--picking a colour for the lapbook and then me trying to figure out the sections he'll have to put in it. Earlier in the week, I had found a link through the Government of Canada website with information on how the government works and another link that gave some of the history of the development of government in Canada.

Social studies for the 17-year old: She is working on her third unit, but for whatever reason, she didn't manage to finish it by last night. She has one assignment to do and a review quiz--she has to get it done today because she decided she was only going to take one week per unit and I had to make sure she got it done on the Saturday if she didn't finish earlier. There is also an assignment from earlier this week that I haven't sent in. (Her credit courses are all distance learning/online.)

Math (14-year old): He's still working on (pre)algebra. This week, is what the distributive property and introduction to factoring. He's just started doing things like "factor 5x^2y - 10xy -15xy^2". He hasn't asked this week why he has to do this kind of stuff, which is good. He did keep forgetting to close parentheses and I told him it was an important habit--that in programming, if you forget to close something, it can mess everything up. Perhaps that connection with something "interesting" and useful helped.

Science (14-year old): A look at the periodic table families and I can't remember what else. I've decided for now to just mainly base myself on the textbook.

Art (17-year old): She actually touched her art course this week. I need to sit with her and have us figure out what she has actually finished and get that stuff sent in. She won't have to do all of the assignments from scratch if she can submit early ones, do well on them and then other work she's done--like the Doctor Who painting and some other things she's done on her own or as part of an art class she's taking.

French (14-year old): I had him do a little grammar sheet and he also started writing a paragraph about why video games don't make kids violent, although he might have actually written that in English. I can't remember. Really, it's a recap of what somebody else said, which I'm fine with because it's like narration--I'm fine with him doing narration at this point if he's not capable of coming up with his own ideas!

I was trying to get my son to do more physical activity; not sure I accomplished that goal this week. I think I need to put together a chart that he fills in; it would be a way for him to talk to his dad about the things he's done during the week, too.

I am also still wondering where our copy of "The Hobbit" (the book) went. I haven't seen it since before we moved in October!

I'm going to throw this out as a challenge to you: What is your weekly wrap-up? If you post about it, come back here and share the link!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just Another Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

All week, there has been an increasing feeling of us needing to do something different. I knew my daughter (17) wanted to try to finish up her social studies unit for the week, but other than that, I was thinking we could head out for a field trip or something.

Then pink eye started last night.

And I feel very blah today. Still in my pjs. I pretty much never stay in my pjs all day. Ever.

So, we're not going out. My daughter is still in her pjs; she doesn't feel like getting dressed and doing much either. She has been working intermittently on the social studies, though.

My son (14) would spend all day every day in pjs, so his still being in pjs doesn't count. He's not all with it himself, though: had to take a few seconds to figure out 9 divided by 3. lol

Well, and then there was me saying he could go for now (in terms of school work), that I'd read the French novel with him later. He was too... not lazy, just really lacking in decent energy today... to get himself up off the floor to go make himself a pizza for lunch. So, he flattened himself out on his stomach on the floor and headed very slowly down the stairs head first.

How could I not laugh seeing a 5'6" young man in pjs inching his way down the stairs in such a manner?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Learn French at Home--Hopefully Coming Soon!

I have been hit by an idea:

To create an online "academy" for families where students/children can learn French at their own pace.

My mind and even my body are excited by this idea. I don't know how it will all work yet, but I'm still very excited by the idea!

Essentially, here's how it'll be:

*Online lessons with written, video and/or audio components. So, not unlike typical software or other online programs.
*Printable materals--including Montessori-inspired materials--for families to print off and use at home. This, of course, would be something a bit more unique. And, naturally, answers provided for things that can be corrected by parents/students. Some assignments will be sent to me and I will correct and send back. Or perhaps that'll be part of different types of subscriptions--a basic subscription for the lowest price and other prices for different services/products available? (Yes, still thinking about this.)
*Scheduling guidelines for the order to do things in and the recommended timeframe for each unit.
*Online Skype/Blackboard Collaborate sessions for the conversational component (nope, haven't quite figured out how that'll work if there are all kinds of different levels...)
*Things there to meet both French as a Second Language outcomes here in the province as well as French Language Arts/Français outcomes (immersion and francophone students).

I have yet to know how to set things up to make everything work and if I can have it all in one place or if I'll have to have families sign up per level or what exactly. And I need to figure out which level I will start creating the lessons and materials for... And do I get things going at a reduced price to start with, even if everything isn't ready, and just keep adding materials as they are ready? (That might actually make the most sense... An introductory price as things get set up and organized. I still need to decide a level to start with.) All kinds of details to get worked out.

And while I say it's for homeschoolers, truly, anybody who wanted their kids to learn French on the side could sign up. Why not?

I wish I had the ability to snap my fingers and have it all in place right now. :) lol

Monday, January 5, 2015

My daughter's recent artwork

I thought I would share my daughter's most recent artwork. I put it on Twitter, tweeting it to Doctor Who BBCA and they retweeted and favourited it! (Woot!) That has led to, so far, over 300 people favouriting it and I can't remember how many retweeting.

The artwork in question:

If you are familiar with Doctor Who, then no explanation is needed. :)

"Work is boring..."

First day back to school after Christmas break. My daughter put on a onesie, didn't eat breakfast, just kind of grumbled, "Can we get started?" My son got up, moped about--although he did get himself dressed without my asking--and once I started talking to him about the things I wanted him to work on, he was clearly grumpy. I grabbed him and asked him if he was Mr. Grumpypants today. He said no, it's just that work is boring.


I am reminding myself that Maria Montessori said that ages 12-15 should be doing hands-on, meaningful work for society. That academics needed to be pushed aside a bit. Our society doesn't really allow this. I even get comments from my husband about how he's worried about our son's future and he doesn't really see what progress our son is making.

I sometimes wish I could shake society into sense a bit.

At the same time, part of me says there should be a way for us to engage in projects or some other form of activities that would produce something--to please my husband and society at large--and still help my son grow in whichever way he's needing to grow right now. All he wants to do is play video games, watch videos on YouTube about video games and play guitar. And play video games with his cousins.

Now that the work has actually begun, the mental shift required today has occurred a bit and the mood is not so down. But... but... I'm still wondering what we can change, what simple thing we can change, that is in line with their development and enjoyable so that learning is seen as enjoyable and not a chore.

What do you do--Montessori or not--so that your teen children have a love of learning and don't greet each day with the grumble of "Work is boring"? Or if you are experiencing the same thing and don't know what to do, share! :)

Book Review: Son by Lois Lowry

Many years ago, probably close to 10 years ago, to be honest, I read aloud The Giver to the kids--those I was homeschooling from another family and my daughter. My son and nephew were only 4 and just not into listening to novels, but the older kids (7, 8, 10 and 13) all listened. We loved the book. We started reading one of the sequels and, for some reason, just never finished it. I'm not sure if life things got in the way and the book went back to the library or if we just didn't connect with it. If it was a case of not connecting with it, Son makes up for that.

In all these years, I still haven't read the two sequels that came before Son. Truth be told, even though I haven't read those two others, Son is a story that is complete within itself. You do not need to have read The Giver to appreciate this story, although knowing The Giver certainly adds to it. There was a point while I was reading where memories came back and I had to go check my copy of The Giver, had my "Aha!" moment and it made the already captivating story that much better.

What is Son? It's the story of a girl from the same place as The Giver, an unnamed placed where everything is controlled: who studies what, who becomes what, who marries whom and when, who gets which children... She is chosen to be a Birthmother, a job she is somewhat embarrassed to have gotten because it's not seen as highly as some others. The Birthmothers in this community are artificially inseminated at controlled times of the year. They give birth, at which point the babies, called Products, go elsewhere to be taken care of in their infancy before being placed with a married couple (I was going to call it "family", but if you read the book, you'll get the sense they're not really "family). This particular girl, Claire, gives birth and is then switched to a different task, which is unusual. But unlike other Birthmothers, she has a yearning for her child that grows and grows and leads her to spending her life trying to get him back. There are various adventures and obstacles in the way which lead them both outside of the village and away from each other. The story focuses on Claire ending up in a different, isolated village and everything she does to try to find her son again.

I don't want to say too much of the story. It was a delightful story to uncover page by page. While I have a tendency to read very quickly through books I love, like Divergent and The Hunger Games, this was one that I read quite a bit more slowly. Not because it wasn't interesting but because it just felt like the kind of story to truly take one's time with and feel it. Lois Lowry did a fantastic job of making you care about Claire and her desire and goal, of making the story a story on its own yet cleverly weaved with, at the very least, The Giver. Now I want to read the other two I haven't yet read and see how they all connect.

If you haven't read The Giver, you don't really need to read it first. There was a true delight for me in going back to The Giver and seeing the connection once I was well into Son. At the same time, I could see the delight in reading The Giver first and being able to have the story line... continued? resolved? Not sure what the best way to explain it is without giving something away. If you have read The Giver, loved it and wanted to know what happened after, read this book.

Have you read Son? What did you think of it? What about the movie The Giver? I've been wanting to see it but haven't--yet.


Get it on Amazon or iTunes

Sunday, January 4, 2015

How to Teach French to Homeschoolers? That Is the Question!

There is some discussion, actually fairly often some discussion, as to homeschooled students here learning French. Some parents struggle with the decision of putting their child into a French immersion program (French, math, science and social studies, at the very least, are taught in French, and usually also art and phys. ed.) instead of homeschooling because learning a second language is really important to them.

I teach a weekly class to homeschooled students, 2 hours per time, and while I enjoy it and I think the students do benefit, it's, at the same time, frustrating a bit because they can't make the kind of progress I would like to see them make.

If parents are willing to send their kids to school just for the French, does that mean they would also be willing to get their children on the computer 3 times a week? I'm not sure. But part of me is saying, "Hey, why not just put it out there and see what happens?"

Of course, I have to actually bring my mind back to the reality that we're starting school again tomorrow and I need to direct my kids appropriately before I start trying to tackle other people's kids' education!