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Mar. 27th, 2014

Life is going well, but I'm feeling tired and burnt out. I think the latter boils down to not getting nearly enough sleep (this having a baby AND a toddler thing is hard), and selfishly wanting a break from caring for my family. That said, I know that if I start writing about the negative stuff, I'm just going to feel sad. So here's a bit about all the GOOD stuff that's going on...

Iris is reading well! W00t! I am SO happy and relieved about this. I started out this year of homeschooling feeling like, well, she's very young for her grade (in most areas of the country, a kid with her birthday would be a 1st grader), so even if this all ends up being a horrible mistake, she's not going to get too far "behind". That said, I really wanted to work on reading with her because the approach her school took last year (lots of sight words, few phonics rules) did NOT work well for her. Evidently, many kids learn the high-frequency words and somehow intuit the phonics rules to figure out unfamiliar words. But about 30% of kids don't, and Iris seems to fall into this category. At this point, her reading is good enough that decoding isn't the main issue - she can read a word aloud and then ask what it means. :-) Spelling seems hard for her though. I don't think I ever had much trouble with spelling, maybe because I read a lot and got used to seeing words spelled correctly.

Math is going well - it seemed like slow going at first, but lately we've been zipping through the material. She surprised me by quickly catching on to addition and subtraction with regrouping and the basic concepts of multiplication and division.

Iris has been experimenting with different ways of writing. We read Dinotopia a little while ago, and she and Ben have been writing notes to each other in the Dinotopia footprint alphabet. She also got interested in figuring out how to connect letters to each other and came up with what she calls "minion writing." Once she started wanting to use minion writing for schoolwork, I figured it was time to learn proper cursive. I printed up some worksheets and she raced through most of the lowercase alphabet in a week. She has lovely handwriting, and I've had to remember how to write in cursive.

All three of the bigger kids are taking gymnastics. I'm really impressed with how far Iris has come since the first class (when she was in tears of frustration because she couldn't figure out how to do jumping jacks and upset that the teacher was asking them to do stretches that hurt). She's even been practicing in between classes and can almost do a split. Wendell has been practicing the splits as well. Zinnia seems to look forward to gymnastics class, but she's not great at following directions, and she doesn't want to let the instructor help her with anything she can't do herself. Neil doesn't seem to have the coordination to do many of the skills. I suspect that they're the among the younger kids in a 4-5yo class, and there's a lot of physical development in those two years. Starting next session, the gym is going to offer separate classes for ages 4 and 5.

We've been going to 2 different homeschool play groups - usually not both in the same week because one or the other gets rained out. Iris and Zinnia have both found friends in one of the groups, and Neil seems to get along well with everyone. One of the groups goes all the way from K through high school (plus younger siblings), and the other is mostly families with young kids - the oldest kids are 7. The latter group seems to have bigger families too - most have 3 kids, and one of the moms is expecting her 4th child soon.

After taking a break in the fall/winter, I got back to gardening. Today I harvested a few strawberries, some artichokes, and a radish. Last night's dinner had arugula, thyme, and oregano from the garden. I'm also growing eggplants, bok choy, asparagus, garlic, beets, chard, peppers (both sweet and hot), tomatoes, parsley, sage, basil, green beans, lima beans, turnips, cucumbers (lemon and regular), zucchini, grapes, lemons, mandarin oranges, apples, plums, blueberries, figs, guavas, and pomegranates, although many of those won't be ready to harvest for a couple of months. Iris has a little patch where she is growing peas, carrots, and nasturtiums.

I moved a couple of young fruit trees out of the middle of the backyard and pulled up most of the lawn. Next week, we're getting a wooden play structure installed, and then I'm going to put a bunch of wood chips around it. I'll be happy to be done with having a lawn. :-)

I'm finally dealing with my teeth. I have two baby teeth in my lower jaw still because I never developed permanent teeth to replace them. Their roots no longer exist (the teeth are kind of wedged in by their neighbors), and because the baby teeth are smaller than adult teeth, the teeth above them in the upper jaw have come down too far. The plan is to get the baby teeth and their counterparts in the upper jaw extracted and then close up the resulting gaps with braces. (The alternatives were dental implants or a bridge - I preferred the option of braces because my front teeth were a bit crowded anyhow.) I got the braces on last week. "You have sparkles on your teeth!" said Zinnia.

There's cinnamon bread in the oven for tomorrow morning, which will be here all too soon. Good night!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC)
selfishly wanting a break from caring for my family.

I do not think it is selfish to want a break. I don't think it is selfish to take a break, either, though that can be a logistically difficult feat. (Relatedly, I think our culture promotes an ideal of motherhood that involves a more sacrifice from mom than is actually ideal for the kids.)

I'm glad for the update.
Mar. 30th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
I had no idea baby teeth could last so long.

Max is 7.5 and has had 2 baby teeth pulled because his adult teeth were coming in behind them, instead of under. He hasn't lost any other baby teeth, so next week we're getting x-rays to see where the adult teeth might be hiding.

Genetically, this comes from me. I had many baby teeth pulled and got my 12 year old molars when I was 16.

Glad you and the kids are doing well.
Mar. 30th, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
"Evidently, many kids learn the high-frequency words and somehow intuit the phonics rules to figure out unfamiliar words. But about 30% of kids don't, and Iris seems to fall into this category."

Seems interesting to keep teaching a method with such a high failure rate or at least not provide alternatives for the 30% for which that doesn't work.
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:56 am (UTC)
Seems interesting to keep teaching a method with such a high failure rate or at least not provide alternatives for the 30% for which that doesn't work.

Yeah, but for kids like Helen, sight words are everything--I don't think she'd sound out a word and ask me "what does mean?" She does use phonics in reading, but I suspect in a different way than Iris. It's gotta be tricky designing a curriculum that works well for both kids like Iris and kids like Helen.
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
How are the braces going?
Jun. 6th, 2014 12:51 pm (UTC)
Hi! We have some friends and interests in common and I'm going to add you if that's okay.

Iris sounds like maybe the same age as my oldest, Wren who would also be in 1st grade if she was in school but who we registered as K with the homeschool office because she was born only 3 weeks before the cutoff between first and K and I couldn't think of any reasons it'd be bad for her to be the oldest in her class should she ever go to school, but several should she be the youngest. She's a November 2007 baby.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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