Family of N

Books Read 2009

Posted in Homeschooling, Just for Fun by Laura on December 31, 2009

I’ve not been much of a reader since sometime around middle school, but I’m trying to start back… with children’s books. Please don’t laugh. I think of it like Debt Snowballing. I’m a slow reader, and it’s encouraging to finish a book every now and then.

It’s with a little embarrassment that I share my humble list for this year. I know for many people this would be a month’s worth of reading. I think I actually read all of these in the last six months, but I’m well aware that that’s still not very impressive.

  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • The Hundred Dresses
  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • Understood Betsy
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Little House on the Prairie

All I can say is, I’ve had to fight to find the time to read even this many! Savannah is so taken with books that we have had to turn her bookshelf to face the wall, because she used to make a beeline for it any time the door to her room was open, and would proceed to unload the shelves if she got there before one of us did. She loves fanning through the pages of a real paper book, although we rarely give one to her because, um, pages get ripped out.

So needless to say, when I get a book out to read of my own accord, Savannah is soon at my side whining and reaching for the book — pointing at it, running her fingers over the pages, and ultimately gesturing that she wants to hold it. At this point, of course, the book goes away rather than into her hands, and I resign myself to trying another time.

So I’d say six is good progress.

And I continue to thank God that Savannah is our first child, rather than being at this can’t-be-trusted-near-books stage while we’re trying to homeschool another child.

Savannah’s Words

Posted in Family, Just for Fun by Laura on December 28, 2009

Update 12/29: added Sock, Congo, and All Done.

Since most of my regular readers are family members, I’m going to risk boring my other readers to death and list all the words Savannah uses right now.

I figure after a few kids (or even a few months) it’s all going to run together and we’ll never know which child said what when. And since the baby book only runs through 12 months, the Internet is going to have to stand in as the record from now on.

Indisputable, Clear Words:
Hello
Hi
No
Mama

Mommy-Knows-What-I’m-Saying Words:
Ball (“Bah”)
Nose (“Noh”)
Ear (“Eeh”)
Diaper (“…-pah” — first syllable varies, if it’s even present)
Bread (“Beah”)
Potty (“Pahy”)
Sock (“Yah” — she also uses this for shoe)
Congo (“Goh-go” — this is the name of my parents’ bird)

Signs Savannah Does:
Milk
Please (claps her hands rather than rubbing them together)
All done (holds hands out to show they’re empty)

Copywork: Practicalities

Posted in Homeschooling by Laura on December 21, 2009

I’m of the school of thought that handwriting practice should have the added benefit of teaching language and character. A child’s attention is not fully engaged by the repetitive strokes of his pencil, so the remaining attention should be devoted to something worthwhile. Good copywork provides this “something worthwhile” through the words and ideas the child is copying.

I could spend a little money and get good quality copywork workbooks, but if I’m going to spend money, I want something more customized to my family’s needs and values. I want to be able to vary the font size based on my child’s needs, and I want don’t want to have to choose between fonts I like and copywork passages that speak to me.

So what I plan to do is acquire (for purchase or for free) a good font that can be used for teaching handwriting. There are actually a few places where you can get free fonts for teaching handwriting (a few more are listed here, along with some commercial ones), but unfortunately I fell in love with the D’Nealian manuscript, a form of the italics font popular among today’s educators.

Jarman is the closest free font I’ve found, but the up-tick’s are too long for my taste. Especially if a Kindergartener is imitating it. I want a beginner’s handwriting to still be legible, and I think this fancy tail would interfere with that.

I also prefer the fonts that have at least the option to include the lines to write on. This would greatly simplify worksheet creation.

So, unless someone publishes a better free handwriting font, I am planning for our homeschooling budget to include the Fonts 4 Teachers package, which happens to include a beautiful D’Nealian font as well as a cursive script that will be useful later on.

With these fonts, I can create handwriting worksheets as needed to reinforce the Scriptures, poetry, and literature we are reading, or to introduce passages we are not able to cover during reading time. Perfect!

Meanwhile, the writing milestone we’re most interested is putting one’s writing utensil on the page rather than in one’s mouth.

That’s Never Going to Last!

Posted in Family, Homeschooling, Parenting by Laura on December 14, 2009

The Professor and I are used to doing things differently from people around us. We cook our food from scratch from whole food ingredients. Even before we had kids, we spent most of our free time at home rather than out at concerts or movies or whatever “normal” people do on Friday nights. We don’t watch TV (though we do enjoy the occasional movie at home).

Now, as parents, we see the trend continuing. I gave birth to Savannah naturally, at home. We use cloth diapers and exclusively breastfed her until 6 months. Savannah still nurses some even at 14 months. We’ve never put her in daycare. She’s never ridden in a stroller. She started using the potty at 6 months and has been half-trained on the potty for several months now. We made all of Savannah’s baby food and toddler food from scratch, with the lone exception of Cheerio’s. (Recipe? Anyone?) We keep her with us in worship services rather than sending her to a nursery. When she reaches school age, we intend to homeschool her.

Often when we have told people we were doing these things, the response is something like the title of this post: “That will never last!” or “Yeah, you think that way now, but just wait!”

I’ll admit: in the last year, our baking has taken a hit (though it has rebounded some in recent months), we’ve avoided making our hardest meals, and we have used disposable diapers in limited circumstances. But so far there’s no room for an “I told you so” from the nay-sayers.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately — how can it be that people are so sure that it can’t be done (i.e. that we’ll give up on cloth diapers, or on making healthy home-cooked meals with a little one running around, or on keeping Savannah in church service) when the things we’ve tried have turned out not to be all that bad? I can come up with a few reasons:

  • 1) They don’t know how stubborn (I prefer “determined”) we are.
  • 2) They’ve never tried themselves, but it sounds like so much work!
  • 3) If they’ve tried, they didn’t have the support system we do (I get tons of tips from the Internet)
  • 4) They have more commitments outside the home than we do, so even if they had the support system we have, they would indeed find it hard to carve out the time or the energy required for the “project” in question.
  • 5) They don’t value the outcome as highly as we do, and as a result they don’t think it’s worth the moderate amount of effort that it requires.
  • 6) In some cases, they misunderstand our reasons for doing what we do. [I think this is the case with keeping Savannah with us during church worship services. To many people, it looks like maternal weakness — I’m sure my friends think I have an unhealthy clinginess to my “baby” (who is now more of a toddler) and am unwilling to let her grow up. On the contrary, my husband and I allow Savannah to participate in the adult worship services in order to lead her to a mature faith. And viewed with that lens, my conviction on this issue is not something that is going to fade with time as the hypothetical clinginess would.]

In writing this post, I am reminding myself that this can’t-do attitude is nothing new to my experience. People have been saying “it can’t be done” all my life. Most notably in college — I can’t count on my two hands all the times I was told, “You may have kept a good GPA in high school, but you’ll *never* manage a 3.0 at Georgia Tech.” In a similar situation, my mom’s college counsellor computed her projected GPA in college — and let’s just say my mom proved that dismal prediction wrong by a mile!

I wish I knew more people in real life whose success in these counter-cultural choices I could draw hope from. But I don’t. I have a few homeschooling acquaintances at church, and a few more who are SAHM’s to their young children, and I know one older woman who kept her children in the pew with her many years ago. Other friends of ours cloth diapered for a while until they couldn’t figure out how to get rid of their son’s rash without switching from cloth. We even have some peers with a baby girl 7 months Savannah’s junior who have (or, rather, whose Vietnamese mother/mother-in-law has) toilet trained their infant. (Does that make us slightly less weird? Please?)

But I do have access to many real people who have gone before us and who have written volumes to encourage those of us who are wandering alone in this counter-cultural wilderness — I just don’t happen to know any of them in real life. 🙂 My hat goes off to the families who homeschooled before there was an Internet, because it is so helpful to have a reminder sitting in my Google Reader every day, telling me that, yes, it *can* be done. After all, the Headmistress has done it seven times over. Cindy has done it nine times over. Kim has done it nine times over and is preparing to do it a tenth time.

You can’t fill your void for friendships by reading blogs, and you can’t make a three-dimensional role model from what you read on a blog — there just isn’t a complete enough picture.

But what that blogroll does for me is tell me is that It. Can. Be. Done.

And you’re not going to see me giving up any time soon.

Sweet Dreams

Posted in Photography by Laura on December 7, 2009

No, this is not the happy conclusion to my it-got-depressing-so-I’m-not-going-to-blog-about-it-anymore series on night weaning. It’s an I Heart Faces theme that I actually had the perfect photo for. So, if you would be so kind, pretend with me that Savannah sleeps this well in her crib:

If only.

More good sleep vibes to be had at the I Heart Faces contest page!