Congrats go out to lucky number 13!
Lee is the winner of the Xia-Xia Giveaway! Lee has been contacted via email and has 48 hours to respond.
Thank you to everyone for entering!
Weeks back, when I came back to blogging, I started reporting on our week in review and linking it up to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-up.
It seemed like the thing to do, being a homeschool blog and all. And I’d been feeling guilty for awhile for not being more consistent about reporting our homeschool adventures (or lack thereof). It was something I wanted to do. And that I felt I should do.
A couple weeks back, my husband saw me struggling over my weekly post and sweating over all the OTHER stuff that I wanted to talk about but never seemed to have the time to talk about.
Stuff that didn’t really fit into the already expanding and growing weekly post. The post that had bits and pieces of the things I really wanted to talk about creeping in and making it grow. And grow. The 1000+ word post that the average visitor probably wouldn’t bother to plow through anyway.
And he said, “If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it.”
And my first thought was that I needed to do this. For me.
It is nice to have a series of posts to look back on that show me exactly what we did each week. I can see at a glance that we really did do something. Lots of somethings.
And that can be a good way to head off the end of the year regrets that sometimes hide the good stuff from your memory.
Last year was a hard homeschool year for me. Lots of doubts. Lots of regrets. Lots of feeling inadequate.
Lots of feeling I had totally messed up.
The weekly reviews do buck me up a bit. No matter how the rest of this year goes, these weeks have been a smashing success. Not because we finished every assignment and fulfilled every expectation. Because we didn’t.
But because we really learned some things, both about the things we were actually studying and about ourselves. And that makes it all worth it.
And I know it was worth it. That’s something I wasn’t so sure about last year.
But last week I was thinking…I really really really want to post some other stuff.
It’s hard when you’ve agreed to only blog on the weekend. You jot down little notes through the week. Then Saturday comes. You look at your pages. And pages. And pages of notes.
And you say: “AAAAHHH!”
And then you throw in a few product review posts you agreed to do.
I figured out once that if I scheduled a post a day, I already had enough ideas to fill up an entire month of blog posts. Not including the review posts. And the weekly wrap-ups. And they just kept on coming.
There aren’t enough hours on the Weekend to get all that writing done and even if there were, my family would hate me and my blog if I tried. Unless I found a way to make money at it…nahh, they’d still hate it.
Last Saturday I went a little overboard. I spent half the day on my blog while the kids and hubby were visiting the Grands. And more time on Sunday. I got up something like 5 or 6 daily posts for the week. I think every time my family saw me I was in front of the computer. Or fixing dinner. And it totally wasn’t worth it.
And then this week end came. And I said to myself: “I do not want to do that week in review post. I don’t even want to post about any of those things on my list.”
And so I didn’t. It’s easy to rebel against yourself, isn’t it?
And I threw away the list of ideas. Ok, not really. But I’m going to.
Because I was going about it wrong. Or not really wrong, just not in a way that was right for me.
So I’m changing things up a bit. Reexamining my motives. Not saying you won’t see another Week in Review on Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. Just saying it will be on my own time.
And what are the kiddos doing while I type this at 9:41 pm Saturday night, you ask?
Watching Elton John on season 2 of The Muppet Show.
Can you believe it:
Wow, I need some shades.
Here’s what the kiddos thought:
The weather man told us to expect 6” of snow today.
So we planned to spend the day warm and snug indoors, with some hot chocolate, games and maybe even a movie.
Then I missed my hot chocolate moment.
Shortly before 3, the power went out
and everything was quiet, And dark.
And I was remembering reading The Long Winter to the girls.
And thinking, as much as I am thankful for all our modern conveniences,…
…they sure have ruined us for doing without.
What I wouldn’t do for Ma’s cookstove.
And knowing what to do with it.
What if we, like Laura and her family, were snowed in for months.
And had no electricity.
No access to food beyond what was in our larder.
No burnable fuel. Or a place to burn it.
Surely we would starve (without the good will of others). Or freeze to death.
I like to think that we would, through the grace of God, find a way to survive.
But would we?
Generally we don’t lose our power more than a few hours (this time is was a little over an hour, long enough for me to mull over this post before having computer access to type it). But there’s always the chance, the possibility that the power won’t be coming back on in a bit. Because catastrophes do happen. And long, hard winters do happen.
I want a camp stove. That’s what I want.
If only so I can boil some water for hot tea and heat up a can of soup.. Something to warm us up and fill our bellies as we snuggle under the blankets…
And pray that the power comes back on.
Do you ever feel limited (or even helpless) because of our modern conveniences?
He bounces on tip-toe, waving his little arms like a wee birdie.
He’s excited. The story lady doesn’t quite know what to think of him.
He’s an odd one, she thinks.
He kneels close to see the pictures, bouncing on his knees.
Can the other little boys or girls see over his bobbing head?
Can they hear the story through his myriad of questions?
My boy. My special boy.
He has a dramatic flair.
He’s maybe a little goofy.
He’s a lover
and a fighter.
And he struggles. He struggles with not being “normal.” He struggles with things that most of us take for granted.
Being in a big group of other kids is a struggle. Sitting still for several minutes at time is another struggle. Following the rules when they conflict with his own wants/needs is yet another struggle.
And then maybe he’s a little hungry. And a little tired. And a little bored.
He’s trying sooo hard. Sometimes his best isn’t good enough.
And sometimes he’s not capable of his best.
His physical reality will never be “normal.”
I knew that on the day he was born. It’s slowly dawning on me the full impact that his physical reality and the experiences caused by it have had on him.
On who he is. On how he sees himself. On how he responds to the world around him.
In a word, he’s intense.
He loves ferociously.
When you say good-bye, he never wants to let you go. Maybe he’ll never see you again. Maybe on some deep level he knows just how fragile our temporal world is.
I’ve seen people who love him practically scraped him off and run away…it’s too much.
They can’t take the intensity of his love. They can’t deal with with it.
I understand. I really do.
He can never let go.
But then there’s the other side. Don’t ever make him mad. Think David Banner/Incredible Hulk mad.
The same 50 pound boy who couldn’t stop hugging and kissing you can turn into a lean mean powerhouse in a minute.
Sometimes It takes every ounce of strength I have to get him back under control..
Then it’s I who can never let go.
He’s exquisitely sensitive. He reads your looks and breaks to pieces if big bro so much as glares at him.
It’s hard. Sometimes I fail him.
Sometimes I want to hide him from those prying eyes of people who don’t get him, so he can’t be hurt.
Sometimes I’m embarrassed and want to hide myself.
Sometimes I lose my patience. I raise my voice.
He’s on to me, though. He knows I don’t mean it. He knows I’m just mad. He knows mad. He doesn’t take it seriously.
It doesn’t help, anyway, getting mad. It seems I was never really taught how to regulate my own temper. Now I’m trying to teach this little guy how to regulate his?
Sound like the blind leading the blind?
Good thing we have faith in a Higher Power, ya think? Because left on my own, I know I can’t do it.
I’ve tried. I tend to forget to ask for help. Sometimes I mistakenly think that God dropped my children into my lap and just left them there
But I know that He created Peter as he is.
He knows Peter as he is.
He loves Peter, as he is.
And He knows what Peter needs. For some reason He chose me to be Peter’s mama.
He must know that we need each other.
But it’s so hard sometimes, really hard.
Time to dry my eyes and go to bed.
.Is there a child with special needs in your life?
Here’s a remote control vehicle that’s got every kiddo in my house fighting over it, whether they are 2 or almost 12!
Watch the “Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster Buzzsaw in action:
This little guy will make even your wee ones experts at performing vehicular acrobatics. In addition to the regular forward and backward levers, there’s a special “trick” button that makes performing your Trickster’s specialty simple enough for even old fogies (like me).
Tricksters come in 2 varieties: Buzzsaw and Rampage. The Buzzsaw’s special trick is spinning. Press the trick button once to spin in one direction and again to spin in the opposite direction. The Rampage’s special trick is flipping. Both cars can be made to do both tricks without using the “special” button. We received the Buzzsaw for review.
Tonka XT Ricochet Tricksters are small and rechargeable. You just plug the car into the remote to recharge. The remote takes 4 AA batteries (not included). Tonka says charging takes about 20 minutes and lasts about 15-20 minutes. We found that the first charge only took about 13 minutes and lasted 25 minutes. Subsequent charges on the same batteries take slightly longer and last a slightly shorter time, but the figures they give seem to be the average.
We’ve been playing with this for a couple of weeks, have charged it multiple times, and are still using the same set of batteries, so it’s no battery hog.
The cord is as short as it possibly can be, but it’s not too difficult to plug in (the place where it goes is on the side of the car, between the wheels). The compartment that hides the cord is also as small as it possibly can be, there’s exactly one way to stow the cord away if you want it to fit.
Although these cars are designed for ages 6 and up, the controls are ultra simple. Even my 2-year-old (with supervision) has no trouble controlling the Buzzsaw.
There are 2 levers, one each on the right and left, to control the car’s direction. If you flip one lever in one direction and the other in the opposite direction, the car will spin. Press both levers up, and the car goes straight forward. Press them down, and it goes backwards, but not straight (it turns unpredictably). When the car is flipped, the controls are reversed.
You’ll notice that the profile is so low that it tends to drive under things. It also tends to get stuck under things and the car doesn’t seem to receive signals from the remote when it is under something. No biggie, but sometimes frustrating for youngers kids.
Flipping the car is pretty easy. You can flip by running into something or quickly switching direction. Even I can do it!
The car also runs on 3 different channels (there’s a switch on both the car and the remote for changing channels), making it easy to run multiple cars in one room.
This one is definitely a keeper! I like that it’s small and easy to put away, with no unruly antenna to get in the way. The kiddos like the ease of use and tricky nature of the Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster, although the oldest wouldn’t mind having more control over the car.
If you want precision driving, the Ricochet Trickster isn’t for you.
If you like a little quirky unpredictability, the Trickster is a fun ride and a good pick for under your Christmas tree. Look for it at Toys ‘R Us and other area stores.
Tonka XT Ricochet Tricksters are suggested for ages 6 and up, though I think most 5-year-olds could handle it..
Disclosure: I received this toy for free from Tonka through BzzAgent in the hopes that I’d like it enough to talk about it. I received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own and I was in no way obligated to write a positive review.
A Day by Emily DickinsonThis technique served me well when I had to memorize a new poem every week or so in a writer’s workshop class I took in college. And be prepared to recite any and all of those poems from memory at the end of the semester. Yikes!
I’ll tell you how the sun rose
a ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
the news-like squirrels ran,
the hills untied their bonnets,
the bobolinks begun,
then I said softly to myself
that must have been the sun.
But where he set, I know not,
there seemed a purple stile,
which little yellow boys and girls
were climbing all the while,
‘til when they reached the other side
a domine in gray
put gently up the evening bars
and led the flock away.
Win a #XiaXia pet from the makers of Zhu Zhu Pets at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds ends 10/31 http://bit.ly/ot9CjoDisclosure: I received the products reviewed in this post through Xia-Xia and MomSelect for review purposes. I received no other compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.
…And proud of it!
I’m just tickled! One of you wonderful readers thought enough of my rambling thoughts to nominate me for the Not Coming Soon Award. Apparently y’all have noticed that I have a bad (sorry) habit of mentioning something I’m going to post about…and then never posting about it, lol.
If you would like to register your agreement, please visit Not So Superwoman and vote for me! That’s Homeschooling Hearts & Minds under #8 The Not Coming Soon Award. I won’t be offended.
And visit some of the other truly outstanding blogs who have been nominated in the in this and the other 9 categories. I really don’t deserve to be in the running. Vote. Be heard. And thank Lori for designing and putting together this thing. It’s truly a labor of love (and good fun).
How would you like to download this lovely template for free?
My Memories Suite is offering a free gift to all my readers.
This is 100% free, no obligation (you will not be asked for any contact info). The download includes 2 “Quick Pages” you can just add your photos and any extras to, PLUS all the elements, so you can create from scratch (or add to your digital stash ;0). These files can be used with most graphics software, so give them a try.
And if you do happen to be in the market for a digital scrapping program, take a closer look at My Memories Suite. My Memories is more than just a graphics program for creating printable pages (although I love it for that…my blog header was created with My Memories). This baby gives you the tools you need to create an interactive scrapbook you can send to your friends and relatives, complete with your own audio and video files. Plus, your pages can exported as jpegs, greeting cards, calendars, even iPod ready vids. You can read my full review of My Memories Suite here.
To purchase My Memories Suite and get a $10 discount, plus a $10 off coupon code for future My Memories shop purchases (add some cool papers and embellishments), please use this code (copy and paste): STMMMS52587
Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. Any and all proceeds I receive from My Memories are used to help finance our homeschool expenses (I’m currently saving to replace our recently defunct printer). I do use, love, and stand by this product and would not be an affiliate otherwise.
The year I turned 30, I found out I have ADD. And OCD. And some kind of learning "glitch."
And a door opened.
But let's step back a bit, first.
My early elementary life in a traditional public school setting was fraught with failure.
First, it was learning to read.
I just couldn’t do it.
But then my mother's friend unlocked the reading door for me through tutoring, although I continued to have "comprehension" issues.
To this day, don't ask me to answer a multiple-choice comprehension test. I'll get it wrong. I just can't come up with the one right answer for anything, and always seem to be looking for the meaning between the lines (more on this in a bit). Fill-in-the-blank is even worse.
But talk to me about what I read, ah, then I have plenty to share.
Maybe I don't really have comprehension issues after all. ;0)
Then it was those blasted math facts.
This time my mom got me over the hurdle by working with me every night herself. And somehow I got through it.
But something wasn’t quite right.
My grades were ok. And they got better (I even had a few quarters in there with straight A’s).
But I absolutely hated school.
Now, a large part of that was being a social misfit…and maybe I’ll talk about that at some other point (or not, my “socialization” by public school is not something I like to revisit), but there was more to it than that. Something didn’t click for me.
Eventually I moved on to middle school.
And to high school.
And finally, I wasn't so much of an outcast, socially---I guess I met enough other "weird" people to hang out with? That'll happen when you go to a high school with over 2000 students and a graduating class of over 400.
But I still hated school.
And part of that came from that fact that no matter how hard I worked, I still couldn’t get it right. You see, I would spend hours reading my school assignments, going over and over the material, and still I could not find the answers in my head when it came time to answer those multiple choice questions on the test.
History was the worst. All those dates.
I would find myself closing my eyes and mentally opening the textbook, flipping to the page that I knew the answer was on, and reading it to answer the question. All in my head.
An aside: This is how I discovered that I have a "photographic" memory.
Another aside: While having a photographic memory is a pretty cool trick (and surprisingly helpful in many situations), it doesn't necessarily make it easier to to retrieve information you have learned. It just means that you can see the information in your head. Think about that for a minute. When I forget what was on the shopping list (you know, the one I left sitting on the kitchen counter?), I can (sometimes) call up an image of the list in my head. But, I don't know what's on the list until I read it on the image in my head. And sometimes the picture that I see in my head is incomplete.
It's a different kind of "knowing" something. And it's great for some things, but lousy for taking multiple choices tests.
But this problem was invisible. Grade-wise, I did fine. In fact, I graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class. The perfectionist (remember the OCD?)in me wouldn’t allow me to fail (although I did receive my share of deficiency reports mid-quarter, seems I just needed an extra kick in the pants to work harder).
And I trudged along, getting by in couple of subjects, doing quite well in a few others. I rocked in typing and word processing. Total hands-on. But I also did quite well in English and art. Anywhere I could use my hands or explore (even if it was only mentally) was a good place for me to be.
Eventually I moved onto college, where I did really really well. Except for all those multiple choice and fill-in the blank tests in History 101.
I hated History 101.
In college I wrote lots of papers. And took essay tests. And had conversations with people. And I started to understand that knowledge wasn’t really about regurgitating information onto a test..
Another aside: This brings me to another point, and this is something that I didn't discover until this week (the year I turn 40!), I'm also right-brain dominant.
Whew! 50% of all people are. Maybe I'm not so weird, after all?
I still had (have) problems. My college books are full of under-linings. I mean margin-to-margin, page-after-page under-linings. In order to understand what I was reading (my degree is in English and Philosophy, so I did a ton of reading), I would have to read, reread, and finally read and underline. I didn't know it at the time, but I think I was making a visual imprint on my brain.
Not perfect. But it helped. I didn't spend much time partying. Not when I had to read everything about 3 times to make it stick. Not when I had hundreds of pages to read.
But that's only the reading half of it.
You know those light-bulb moments, the instant where you come to a realization and everything just clicks for you? You finally get it?
Insights don't need to necessarily be something big and dramatic. Realizing that your nails need to be trimmed is an insight. But then, so is realizing that "b" makes the /b/ sound.
Insights (lightbulb moments) are what bridge the gap between teaching and learning.
You can try to teach your child all day long that certain letters make certain sounds. But, you can never force him to have the "aha" moment where it just clicks in his brain.
You can't make him have an insight.
And you can't make him learn.
That can be frustrating for teachers when children just don't seem to be "getting it," right?
And doubly frustrating for the kids who don't seem to be able to get it.
Now, imagine that you've had the insight, you get it, but then you forget it.
And so someone teaches it to you again, you finally get it, but you forget it again.
You might get it easier each time, but still, you're handicapped by having to have the same insight over and over and over again.
And eventually you get so tired of forgetting everything that you learned that you start trying to keep it all at the top of your brain at once…because you just don’t know if you’ll be able to retrieve the it otherwise.
Or you write yourself incessant notes.
Or drop everything to write a blog post about what you’re thinking this moment so you can read it later and maybe remember..
This is part of my learning difficulty.
Nobody forgets how to ride a bike, right?
After spending most of my childhood riding here, there, and everywhere, I did.
Nobody forgets their own phone number, right?
I can only remember my phone number by visualizing it on the keypad. And I've had the same phone number for over a year.
There are other things that I can’t necessarily communicate, little bits, little pieces of my learning puzzle.
I have lived with my learning differences my entire life. But it wasn't until the year I turned 30 that I knew there was a reason for my flakiness. Because I did think I was just flaky. Sometimes I thought I was mad.
And a door opened.
I couldn't change the past. I couldn't even cure myself. But I knew, finally, that I wasn’t to blame. And that there’s something unique about my “wiring” that makes some aspects of life a little more difficult, but that I also have particular gifts.
I’m not just a screw-up. I haven’t failed. I was just being who I am.
That’s pretty liberating.
And so, when I look into my oldest child’s eyes and see his tears of frustration,
and when I grade his math work and recognize the same struggles I faced myself,
or feel myself getting a little frustrated myself after explaining long division, again,
I weep for him, because I know something of difficulties he faces, difficulties that I would spare him if I possibly could.
But I’m thankful that we are learning about his difficulties when he is 11, not when he is 30. And that I can help him through this.
Read more about our learning adventure:
…who won’t knock your block off for nominating them for the Annual Homeschool Misfit Awards At Not So Superwoman?
Here’s your chance to show how much you love them in all their loveable misfittiness.
Click the button and start nominating!
Do any of them sound like the perfect fit for your own nner misfit, maybe?
Hurry, nominations close on Wed., October 19th.
Also accepting nominations is the ever popular Homeschool Blogger Awards!
It’s always fun to meet some new (to me) bloggers through the awards.
I challenge you to spread a little encouragement. Nominate a homeschool blogger you love, especially if they are off the beaten-path, unique, not exactly hitting the stratosphere in followers, but doing something that inspires, impresses, or otherwise makes your day. The rest of us can’t find them unless you tell us about them.