Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I went to court this morning with the senior partner of the law firm. When I use the word "court," I'm using the term to mean that we appeared in a contested matter before a judge.

However, we did not venture into a courthouse.

That's because the courthouse where we were to convene is being renovated. Instead, we met in "the old school house building" (which I had envisioned a 19th century brick or stone structure with stately columns and live oaks out front - WRONG). The old school house is more along the lines of a dilapidated school built in the early 1970s - cinder block walls, boxy structure, rusting metal on the outside. Ironically enough, that area's local Head Start program is housed in part of that building. (I can see it now: "We'll call the program Head Start, but we'll put these post-toddler children in the most rundown facilities we can find across the state." Nice.) I digress, as I so often do.

As we pass through the metal detectors, the deputy checking the bags at the door tells us that the courtroom is the first door on the left. Courtroom? A hilarious overstatement! It was a small classroom outfitted with two tables in one row and a podium in between, a single table in a second row (the bench, if you will, for the presiding judge), and a small desk off to the side for the court reporter. We were not thrilled with the digs when we arrived, but the judge looked absolutely appalled. Not exactly the majesty of a wood-paneled, leather-seat-endowed, wireless network ready, bench-on-a-platform room we are used to when conducting court. The deputy, noticing all of our reactions, interjected, "Well, at least we're inside."

Given the way our hearing went, I wish we had been outside - even with the rain.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Earning a Square

About 2 months ago, I implemented this plan for my 5 year old (the 3 year old doesn't get this benefit, yet)...

She earns squares - I use the ones I bought from Rainbow Resources to use with Saxon Math. The way she earns the squares is as follows:

1 square for staying on green during home school (I have one green, one yellow and one red card on the wall - if she refuses to do work or does something along those lines, I give her a warning then start pulling cards if she doesn't behave - more about that in a minute).

1 square for completing daily chores

1 square for practicing piano

So, she has the potential to earn 21 squares a week; plus, on Saturdays, if she's been good all week, she gets an extra 3 squares for a grand total of 24 squares a week.

She can also have squares withheld or taken away. Withheld, if she doesn't do the above. Taken away, as an alternative to other disciplinary measures - DH and I are learning that taking away her squares has a profound effect to the extent that most of the time, we can threaten a square and she'll correct.

She can also have squares taken away or withheld if she has her green, yellow or red card pulled during hs. If I pull the green card, no square for hs that day. If I pull the yellow card, she has to give me one of the squares she's already earned. If I pull the red card, she has to give me 3 more squares.

She can accumulate the squares to "purchase" things or privileges. For purchases, if she redeems 15 squares, she can get a school supply item (she loves supplies) that costs $3 or less. For 25 squares, a book or school supply $5 or less. For 40 squares, a book $8 or less. For 50 squares, a book $10 or less. For 70 squares, a DVD or book costing $20 or less. We're still coming up with a plan for privileges - right now, she can pretty much do things as they come along without redeeming squares. BTW, all of the purchases are made with mommy or daddy approval.

She just saved up 70 squares to get a DVD - Matilda. She's so proud!

I like this method because I don't think I could take money away that she may have earned as an allowance, but I like the tangible nature of what she's earning. She can see it, save it, hear it (when she shakes the container she keeps them in), count it, and turn them in once she earns enough to get what she wants.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ahhh....a new look

Goodbye blue and white toile background! I'll miss you and you'll always hold a special place in my heart (and on my c:/ drive where I can look back with fond memories), but it was time to move on.

Don't be sad... We can still be friends. It's just that I found a new background that is speaking to me on a whole new level. Different colors, but still a feminine touch.

On the bright side, I'm learning to use Photoshop and to improve my blog even more. And I couldn't have done that without you good ol' blue and white.

So, TTFN. I'll miss you!

Friday, August 22, 2008

I thought I would post pictures of our school room. It's a work in progress.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our week ending 8-21-08

I feel as though we had a productive week!

Will is learning his letters - we've been working on vowels and he's SO EXCITED to point out the letters he recognizes! At his preschool yesterday and today, the class discussed the letter A. He was so proud that he could write a capital A.

Casey was busy, busy. History (Ashurbanipal and the Assyrian expansion), science (we're still studying ponds... more on that in a minute), math (ooh - learning addition; the stuff I've been waiting for), and the usual language arts materials (she loves her new Rod & Staff books, but neither of us really cares for Ordinary Parent's Guide which we've been using for months now). She's also enjoying her new piano teacher (although not the practicing so much) and the children's choir (the teacher told me for such a little thing - she's the youngest and smallest in the choir - she has a beautiful, strong voice).

Earlier in the week, the kids and I went to the local pet store to purchase a couple of tadpoles. They were expecting a shipment, but it had not arrived. A woman overheard me speaking to the owner about buying tadpoles. As I was getting the kids in the car, the woman said that we would be welcome to come to one of her 3 ponds and collect tadpoles - "Why buy them when I've got them for free?" So, we exchanged information, and we're planning on visiting her ponds soon!

On Saturday, we'll be looking into swimming lessons for Casey and Will and having our second official Little Flowers meeting! The kids and I will be going to our first home school group gathering this coming week. We're also pondering sending Casey to Art Lessons once a week - yet another opportunity to meet home schoolers. So, next week is looking busy, too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless (not quite) Wednesday

Casey wants to open a restaurant. She gave it a name, drew a picture, and gave me the menu items and prices. I made a menu using her picture and prices. The restaurant? Ptssa Blou Bird (translation: Pizza Blue Bird). This is her picture.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Growing up ... and learning not to overreact

I received an email yesterday - a disturbing email from out of the blue - the kind of email that will make your blood boil as you type out a hasty response (which I did). But, my saving grace is that I did not send the email. (Although I forwarded the email I received to a couple of people just to say, "Can you believe this?" Hey, I'm not without faults.) I have, after much thought, decided not to respond - either by email or in person; however, if directly confronted, I will probably stand my ground - that's the burgeoning litigator in me, I suppose (and I say, "Ha!" to those who really know me).

This past Saturday, Casey was invited to a pool party with 3 of her friends from her former preschool. She was hurt when, after being there for an hour, her three friends behaved as though they didn't want to play with Casey. Seeing what was happening, I started our usual "countdown to leave, starting at 10 minutes." I couldn't bear to see her hurting, but I didn't want to be confrontational either. In the changing area, she cried, "They didn't want to play with me." I assured her everything would be okay, that she's making new friends, the pool party kids are in ps now, and her life is changing. I also encouraged her to be gracious to the hostess and not let the other children see that she was upset. (And, I made a mental note that the moms weren't having much to discuss with me - their conversations focused on their kids starting kindergarten, and my brief mention of home schooling made them noticeably uncomfortable.)

I'm attempting to practice some level of grace and teach my children the same. While I may not be graceful in form - I cannot walk into a room without tripping over my own feet or bumping into something - I can be graceful in substance. This is my prayer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our Week ending 8-14-2008

What an eventful week!

Tricky started going to the daycare 3 days a week. I can already tell she desperately misses her Nonnie. Each morning I left, she shrieked and screamed and cried. Her teacher apologized on the third morning, but I told her it wasn't her fault; besides, I've got three children - I'm sad that Tricky is sad, but it's not going to ruin my day. I know she's in a good place (with excellent ratios, BTW) and she'll be fine.

Casey left the daycare/preschool last week and started going to Nonnie's house this week. After the first day, I was a bit worried. Casey looked sad when I picked her up and, yes, I had those evil and pervasive thoughts that maybe I've made a mistake. But, I found out she was sad because Nonnie's daughter went to swimming lessons and Casey couldn't go. Ah! NOTHING to do with home school and missing out on Kindergarten!

But I am learning how to tweak Casey's schedule on the days I work. My poor kid - she's doing school work 7 days a week. (But nothing too intense on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.) Here's how her schedule will work for the next year (minus the "tweaks"):

Friday (the first day of our school week): Grammar, Reading, Phonics, Writing, Spelling, Math, Religion (what I'll call the Basics) and History. We also go to the library or have some other outing on Fridays. Piano lessons.

Saturday: the Basics, Science and maybe History if we've got a lot to cover.

Sunday: the Basics (lite - sounds like we're on a home school diet) and History.

Monday: the Basics, Science and Art or Music. Casey also has children's choir practice.

Tuesday: worksheets - emphasis on phonics and a copy work assignment, plus an "educational" video. Reading for at least 30 minutes. Once home, the Saxon Math Assessment for the previous 4 days.

Wednesday: worksheets - emphasis on math, and a copy work assignment. Reading for at least 30 minutes. Once all the worksheets are finished, she may watch a movie.

Thursday: worksheets - just fun stuff, and a copy work assignment. Reading for at least 30 minutes. Once finished, she may play a computer game for 30-45 minutes.

We're looking into swimming, gymnastics or some other physical activity - but that won't be for another week or so. Also, during our trip to Louisiana I played with a Wii. What fun! And I LOATHE computer games! I want one - with Wii Fit. Maybe that will ease my conscience on the exercise front.

Oh! And my son! Will is still in preschool, but in a new class - they call it Jr. Pre K or something. At home, I am working on teaching him letters (recognizing, knowing their sounds, and writing) and numbers. He's also doing the Singapore Early Bird Math - which he LOVES! He's also picking up on History and Science, but I'm not forcing it at this point.

So, that's our schedule. Now, I'm off to wake the kidlets so we can go to Mass to celebrate the Assumption!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What we did in our HS week of 7/25 to 7/29

If you've read my posts from last week, we went out to Louisiana. Homeschooling in the car CAN be fun - for an hour or so.

Although not on point with anything we're studying at the moment, we went to Vicksburg, MS, one day. The kids enjoyed climbing on the cannons and playing Yanks vs. Rebs with daddy at one of the forts. I enjoyed seeing the ironclad and visiting the Illinois memorial.

That same day, we also went to a spot called Poverty Point - indian mounds. It ties in nicely with our Ancient History studies - even though we haven't gotten to the Ancients of the Americas yet. Comparing and contrasting things we've learned about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Africa, and Ancient China to what we saw at Poverty Point was fun.

All-in-all, it was a relatively light week. We're getting into the swing of things again now that we're home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tax FREE Weekend

It's a tax free weekend in Georgia! FREE - one of my favorite words. When talking to Richard about the possibility of getting the children some clothes this weekend, he pointed out that a 7% sale isn't such a great deal. True, but if you couple that with additional sales and the myriad of coupons I get by mail (snail and e-), we might actually be able to make a killing. Then he pointed out that everybody else will be shopping, too. Now, there's the sticking point. I really don't want to shop for clothes for the kids (knowing they are going up in size) while fighting the mob of moms doing the same thing... waiting for dressing rooms, having to take 3 different sizes of the same jeans in the dressing room (once we're in), and then the ultimate decision: do I buy the size that is too long and too big in the waist with the hope he or she will grow into it before next spring OR do I buy the size that fits now knowing that by January I'll have to go through this again? [Buy big.]

Well, I think we've reached a compromise.... COSTCO. I get to buy a couple of clothing items without fighting a huge crowd, I still get to save on the taxes, and I have money left over for the day when the REAL sales start!

I love Costco!

Friday, August 1, 2008

I've been "provoked" into putting the following pictures (from a vacation taken with Michele - see the Striped Rose) on my blog. She just reminded me how funny this scene was - and what good little mommies we are... we just stood by taking pictures as this altercation broke loose.