Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break Is Here!


Not sure how well things went last week; I think I really need to resume journalling! I know the 16yo did not get all the work done I had wanted him to get done, but that was because of his dawdling, not because of anything I did.

This week, I am looking after my 3yo and 6yo nieces and my 10yo nephew. The 16yo is off skiing with a buddy. I do have the little guy (17 months now!) today (his mom has an interview), and we are expecting my in-laws to come back from their snowbirding tomorrow or Wednesday afternoon, so there are some time constraints there. My 13yo signed up for a teen writing workshop which is from 4-5 every day--kind of an inconvenient time! She also has ballet Thursday evening, and we are supposed to have some company Thursday or Friday. On top of this, we are hosting my little sister's Flat Traveller and are supposed to be taking it places this week. I'll have to juggle things a bit given everything that is going on! I want to get to the museum, a historical home, the big mall and there was another place I had in mind, but can't think of it at the moment.

I have my own things to do this week, too, so it will still be busy this week, but it's still spring break, so it's all good. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011


I was watching an X-Weighted episode this morning about a 13yo boy, already 5'11", and who is a bit overweight. He has always been chubby, apparently, and frequently picked on about it at school.

They were describing the things that have happened to this boy and I am appalled. What happened to him was awful; what is appalling is that our society does absolutely nothing about it. I am saddened by this.

It has become a common thing to hear--I've heard it from my own sister-in-law--that being bullied a bit just makes kids stronger. Are these the excuses we come up with because we don't know how to change an awful situation, so, instead of changing it, we figure out a way for our psyches to accept this abuse? Because, really, let's be clear about it: it. is. abuse.

The boy had become suicidal as a desire to avoid school and avoid the abuse. And yet, parents are typically engrained with the idea that the kids just have to go to school and learn to "deal with it." That is a sickeningly sad response. It's become clear that so many of the anti-bullying programs that they may help, but in the end, we can't really change other people, so they will never be able to fix the situation, which runs very deep. The whole typical school structure and its demands cause part of the problem, the families these kids come from cause part of the problem, media and more.

When are these parents, who are sending their bullied children off to school to be further abused, going to decide that enough is enough and their children deserve better? There are so many more options now: homeschooling, online schooling, etc. When are the schools going to actually put their foot down about this behaviour? Our city as a bullying by-law. It fines parents for their child's behaviour. Do schools actually EVER contact the city about bullying cases? NO! They don't want to cause problems, they want to make sure they keep that student--because every student means more money for the school. Do parents ever contact the city? NO! Again, there's the idea that it will just cause more problems--which it might--but people just try to find other bandaids instead of really changing the situation.

If our children were being treated at home the way some kids are being treated at school, CPS could come and take away our children. How come more parents are not making the decision to take their children away from the schools that aren't protecting them?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Some recent pics

Our "pink" tower that the 3yo did last week. It is a set of wood nesting blocks, different images on each side, but the same arrangement of images for each block. I was going to repaint them at one point, but then I noticed how older kids paid attention to the images--it became more of a challenge--and the younger they were, they tended not to. It's kind of fun to see that "oh!" moment kick in when they realize they can match up the images. As you can see, she hasn't hit the "oh!" moment. ;)

This is from an experiment from dd's French workbook (it covers all subjects, but for French-speaking students). Green water, vegetable oil on top, then you sprinkle a bunch of salt. The "bubble" you see in the middle was the result of salt, stuck in oil, had dropped down to the bottom and is now going back up.

I decided yesterday that given how she'd done the cylinder blocks the previous week, I was going to present two at a time. So I pulled them out, did not get a chance to show her before she sat down with them. I decided to just kind of observe how she would do. It was too hard for her, BUT she decided to do some knobless cylinder towers. :) The first one she did was actually more how it should have been; here, she tried to mix the two sets of cylinders. She watched me look at the cylinders to decide where to put them back and was able to do some of them. It's possible I picked the wrong 2 blocks to start with.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is it Spring Break yet???

These past couple of weeks have been ROUGH. Which means our wonderful routine has gone down the tubes a lot. I'm working out at the moment how to get everything back on track for this week. It's only the week--and really, only until Friday, because I will have a full house of kids that day. Then it's Spring Break. We are ALL very ready for Spring Break, but we need to go out with a bang. :)

Two weeks ago, I had at least one sick niece or nephew each day, plus my kids got sick, my 3yo niece has been sick... Then ds was still sick this past week, I was not well in the least, and the 16yo wasn't well. Very hard to think, much less plug through stuff, when you're not feeling well.

So, let me think through things here. Starting with my 3yo niece (since I tend to overlook her a lot; not fair for her):

*As much as the Swiffer Dusters suck (they do not grab the dust remotely as well as the commercials would indicate), I will invite the 3yo to dust each day with them (much easier than using a dusting cloth, I think). The entertainment equipment downstairs and the shelves can be dusted each morning, as well as the main level book case and shelving unit.
*Windows: she loves doing windows.
*Wash the table: It's been ages since I've had her clean the little table. Of course, part of that will mean I have to keep up my end of things by clearing it of my stuff and keeping it clear!
*Dry mopping with our microfibre mop.
*I'm thinking food prep would be great--maybe Friday, when everyone is here. She comes with her lunch and snacks already prepared. However, if she has something that needs to be cooked or heated, I will get her involved.

*continue bringing out different things she's already done (cylinder blocks, red rods, etc.) I'll have a look at how well she does the cylinder blocks and see if she's ready to try two at a time.
*touch tablets
*maybe put mystery bags together for Friday as some games the kids can play
*sorting grains

*"metal" insets
*I would say "speech", but she's gone back to not talking to us. *sigh*
*I have to find my sandpaper letters: I put them in storage, but have not been able to find them!

*land and water presentation would be good

*paints, playdough, colouring, etc.


This is a great starting point. Actually, if all of this got accomplished this week, that would be fantastic!

Okay, now for my 10yo:
*handwriting and copywork
*figure out a way to tie in narration, even if it's just from English things he's reading
*read to him again from Le voyage au centre de la Terre
*maybe talk to him a bit about what kinds of things kids in school are able to read and write

*He chose a multiplication workbook from a local French store. He's only doing a page a day. Part of me wants to insist on 2 pages, but that doesn't feel very Montessori. He could definitely do more, though, so maybe it's a matter of talking with him and seeing how much seems more reasonable to do.

*We have a fantastic book out from the library at the moment: 

I saw it and knew it would be an immediate hit. I quietly placed it with other books in our living room and it has been a huge hit. THAT would be a fantastic thing to have him give me some narrations on that I could write down for him--especially since the book is in English and I want him to tell me about the things in French. :D We had an interesting conversation the other day: he thought the book was wrong because birds weren't in the mammals section. I think he is doing as I did as a kid: equating "mammals" with "animals". We have the classification of life poster up, but it really doesn't go into the different classifications of animals. Maybe it's time for me to find or make something for our environment.


*Need to make some progress in Faith and Life! That can be read each morning at or just after breakfast.


Okay, for 13yo dd:

Well, you know, she found a great French workbook at the store that covers a wide variety of subjects. That's her primary interest at the moment and she has spent hours on it already. She also has Life of Fred to work on, she will have some things to do for her Confirmation prep class, she's been working on some interior decorating work and decluttering and reorganizing of her room... The only other thing I can think of is to encourage her to work on art, piano... Oooh, typing! It would be good for her to have an idea just how fast she types at the moment. She really doesn't know. Oh, and I also wanted to work with her on creating a fitness plan. Soccer has been over for a few weeks now, but outdoor will be starting up again at the end of April/beginning of May (if the snow ever leaves...) and she's not really very fit. Very thin, but not fit.


For the 16yo:

*get all of unit 1 completely done: he has section quizzes to do, plus a unit assignment that will take a few days. His limit will be this week: what he does not finish, he will get 0 on. He is behind, has fallen again into "I don't feel like it".

*He has to get his current unit work and then the follow up work done. That will probably take 4 days.

*He has to get his novel study done. All of it. The novel was read ages ago, we've worked here and there on the study. He is finding it difficult to know what to say about different things. I need to get him thinking/writing daily.

*I'm going to have to figure out where he should be with this. It has been AGES since he touched it.

This gives me a great vision for the week! Yay!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Still plugging away!

We've had some up days and down days, but things are still progressing nicely. Today was a good day with ds, although I'm going to have to think more about more intricate lessons and follow-up work.

I decided to take on the idea of presenting lots of seeds (which is somewhat like the Charlotte Mason approach of covering many subjects in one day). We started with some handwriting--I did it with my left hand while he did it with his right, and I showed how to link letters together (used the letters a c d g and o today--and wrote "caca" LOL). He was fine with that. He was adamant about not doing math today, so we then looked at Canadian geography--a quick review of the provinces and then he went in and wrote in some abbreviations (his version lol). We had a look at a German vocabulary book where he picked out certain things and tried to say them and I would provide the correct pronunciation and then point out some of the roots to him. Then I read to him a story from a French program I bought to use last year, but didn't (once I had it, I didn't feel he was quite ready) and CM-style, asked him to tell me everything he could about it once I was done (my first real narration with him, I think!). It was a story about a cat that didn't eat mice and how he battled a dragon. The follow up work in the text (yes, I know, not a living book!) we had a good laugh about. "Is this story an imaginative story or about real life?" lol. "How do you know?" LOL.

So, we covered 4 things in a little under an hour. Crazy! But it worked well. I know part of our down days has been that I have not been providing enough variation to keep him interested and motivated to keep going with things. This was a nice change of pace, he enjoyed it, I enjoyed it; it was good. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

I was given the evil eye

Oh my.


My 6yo niece (let's call her Belle--she likes that name) and 10yo nephew have the day off school today, so they are spending the day with us.

Well, when Belle is here after school during the week, I can't say I notice too much how she is playing with her little sister, my 3yo niece (oh, let's give her a name, too--Delfina), who is with us full-time. Or, rather, I haven't noticed lately. Today, with all siblings here the whole day, we took the day off school and I tackled decluttering while the kids just played.

It seemed the common issue of Belle trying to control everything, especially in regard to her sister, reared its ugly head. 13yo dd came down to talk to me about some of what was going on. I then went and stayed upstairs, then we had lunch and things were a bit better. I think she knows I will redirect any controlling behaviour. (Which usually plays out with me giving some nice activity to her little sister that she has to wait her turn on. :D) But it didn't stay.

Belle and Delfina were playing with my 10yo ds on the upper level and Delfina was growing tired of the game, so she came downstairs and played with a very small Casio piano we have here. Within a few minutes, Belle was downstairs, asking to have a turn.

Normally, that would be fine. But I have seen all day how Delfina just goes with whatever Belle wants to do, and I am still seeing during the week how Delfina can't seem to figure out anything to do with herself--she is so used to Belle being her constant directress. And this is a definite habit of Belle's, to see her sister pick something different, so then she goes and asks for a turn; Delfina is usually very compliant, so she ends up losing out. So, today I stepped in and said, "Belle, you will wait until Delfina decides she is done and you won't ask her if you can have a turn." Oh man. The evil eye began. Frequent glances my way, palpable feeling of anger without her actually doing anything.

Delfina found herself a new spot near the window; Belle followed. Belle started in with the impatient sighs--because we all had to know that she was unhappy. And maybe, just maybe, it would get her her turn faster, right? ;) I kept getting evil eye glances, but didn't let her see that I saw her. At one point, Delfina very proudly and happily said something along the lines of, "It's my turn and Belle has to wait." I replied, "Yes, it is. Belle will sit there and wait or she'll find herself something else to do while she waits her turn, but it's your turn." I knew proposing that Belle find something else to do wouldn't go over so well, so I put the 2 options out there so it was completely her choice. She chose to stay. Giving me an unhappy glance ever so often. I made sure not to laugh.

It was eventually her turn and she did not say a word when the piano was given to her. Of course, that had me thinking we'll need to play some Grace and Courtesy games. lol. She played a little, but kept glancing at me in a different way. I couldn't figure out if she wanted my attention or was trying to figure out just how attentive I was to what she was doing. Finally, she said to Delfina, "Let's go downstairs." (Yes, a 2nd downstairs--I'm in a 4-level split.) Hubby was there with a colleague, showing him some stuff, so not a great choice in areas to go make noise. I also suspected she was up to something because she will often do that--give me glances and then get her sister to follow her somewhere else where she can be in charge of her again, so I told her no, that her uncle was down there with somebody and it wasn't a good place to be right now.

The colleague is gone and now Belle is wandering around aimlessly. The evil eye is done, but she did just do a particular kind of pitiful voice so that I would say yes to her going to play on the computer in ds's room (which doesn't stay on, so a good reason to say no). Time to go find some crafts or games or something to do with them.