Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Day 3...

So, one of my New Year's resolutions was to do a sugar fast in January. I have gone 2 days without sugar. So far, it's going okay. I switched to tea, instead of coffee, because coffee without frou-frou creamer  is just...ick. I had made sure to give the children all the sugary stuff to eat the last couple days of December, so there is very little sugary in the house right now.

I most miss cereal. I make my own granola, that I used to have each evening before bed. But it has brown sugar in it. So I switched my snack to a piece of whole wheat toast and butter, maybe a piece a fruit. My stomach has not complained.  I find that I sleep better if I have a carb before bed.

I have not told anyone that I am doing a sugar fast.  The last time I tried this, I broadcast it loud and clear, and there were a couple people who delighted in bringing junk in the house 'to see if I could resist'. Not really funny. So, I'm keeping it low key to see if I do better this time.

I tackled several organizational projects the last couple weeks. I have one big on left - the filing cabinet. I want to go thru every piece of paper and purge, organize, and also create a better way to find all our important documents quickly. A sort of home legacy drawer or something. I hope to tackle the purge on Thursday, and the organization on Friday or Saturday.

On Monday, the children go back to school, and the super busy schedule starts again. But we are halfway done with the school year, so it feels more like a countdown now.  Each of the children have a small homework 'thing' to do before classes next week, so I hope to squeeze them in over the next few days.

I intend to post here every few days to journal this sugar fast. I think having a clear record of what went well and what went wrong is a good idea. 

The piano gets tuned today at 9am. It's supposed to rain today, but I'm hoping it holds off until after the piano is tuned. Keeping 6 children perfectly quiet for an hour is impossible. I have a quick run to the grocery planned for early this morning. And my friend S. is coming to visit around noon.  The little boys have a dental appt at 4:30.  A moderately busy, but pleasant day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

6 Months Later...

My last post was in April. Yikes. Life in general is just...up to my eyeballs.

So, we have been doing Barton with Nathan for just about 6 months.  He is Level 4 now, which I am told is the hardest because there are just so many spelling rules to learn/remember/understand.  He seems to be doing fine with the tutoring. He learns the spelling rules pretty quickly, although we sometimes argue over just exactly where a syllable break should be. Of if a word ends with en or in (he insisted that 'kitten' should be spelled 'kittin' because that's how most people say it). Seriously, we debated this point for nearly 10 minutes. In the end, I had to demand that he do it my way. Sigh...

After a lovely talk with Susan Barton (herself!!), I decided to use Barton as the language arts program in our homeschool. So I started Barton with Leah and Olivia as well. And quickly realized that Leah is also dyslexic. Of course, her version looks very different from Nathan's. Her brain inserts or deletes letters in words, and she is not aware of it. I think her version is harder to tutor. How do you help someone who is not aware of making a mistake?

As for Olivia, I'm just not sure yet.  She is halfway through Level 3, and seems to actually enjoy learning.  But at 7 1/2, she's still sounding out 3 letter words. Is this just her personal style (slow), or a symptom of a greater problem?  We'll keep watching.

All in all, I'm happy with Barton. I've learned a ton of why words are spelled the way they are. Anybody out there know why the /k/ sound in the word 'chicken' is spelled with a ck and not a c or a k? There's actually a rule for that...who knew?

I'm told that after Level 4, kids are able to read with better fluency, and are encouraged to read independently. I figure we should get through Level 4 by mid-Nov.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Too Many Things To Think About...

The last couple of months have been very thinking-intense for me. I have been researching dyslexia and dysgraphia, trying to find ways to help my boy. We have some things in place finally, and now are trying to learn how to use them.

Our charter school has provided a laptop with Dragon Speech software on it, so Nathan will be able to do his testing orally. This year he also learned to type, so that is an option as well. We have found a couple things online that will read out loud to him and that's been very helpful as well.

But the thing I'm most excited about is the Barton Reading program we've finally gotten. I've known about Barton for awhile now, but I dismissed it because, well, it's old. 30 years maybe? Surely we've learned things about how the brain works since then, right? So we used a brain training therapy for a year (nod to Dianne Craft), and that helped, but not enough. Then I switched to Learning Success Systems, but my boy was burned out on 'exersizes' after a year of Dianne Craft stuff.

So, I finally took a good solid look at Barton. I surfed the website, I talked to a couple Barton tutors, and I finally got my hands on Levels 1 and 2. Nathan is beyond Level 1, but I've been 'practicing' with Leah and Olivia as a learn this new method. Nathan will start Level 2 next week.

Barton is a complete language arts program that builds upon itself, so I can do 30-45 minutes a day of Barton, and drop all spelling, reading, writing and grammar (for now).  All that stuff gets added back in as the scholar progresses, but for Nathan, he won't be doing any active reading until he completes Level 4. For now he listens to audio books while following along in the hardcopy book.

So, give us a few months. Through the summer perhaps. And we will see how this works...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Working with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

So, most of you know that Nathan has dyslexia. We have worked very hard this past 2 years with intensive reading programs, and brain training therapy. The therapy continues until the end of March. He has made fantastic progress with reading, but is still considered behind. He is in sixth grade, and is reading solidly at a third grade level. I'm actually excited about that because third grade books are no longer 'baby' books that he was reading a year ago.

This 'tool' was mentioned to me by our charter teacher. It looks like the best thing ever. It doesn't release until February though.      

It's a stylus-style instrument that will read aloud the book as you swipe it across the words. The person 'reading' will be able to read much faster, and in a class setting, would be able to keep up with the class' pace.  It's amazingly fantastic.

However, Nathan also has Dysgraphia.  This is the inability of the brain to communicate with the hand to write.  Nathan's fine motor skills are perfect, for example, he can build intricate Lego creations with no problem. But somehow, the writing is a different skill set using a different part of the brain. His writing still looks like a Kindergartener - too big, weird spacing, sloppy, mixed upper and lower case letters, etc.  After 2 years of work on this, there has been NO improvement.  So, this year we are teaching him to type.

Typing seems to be a decent work around for about half the people with dysgraphia. If this doesn't work for Nathan, we'll have to see about Speech-to-Text programs.  He's going into 7th grade next year, and can barely write more than a sentence.

I'll admit that I'm a bit worried. I know there are 6 more years of his schooling, and the brain is 'plastic' and can be changed over time. I know, I know.  But imagining this child as an adult who needs to fill out a job application...

He says he wants to be a Game Warden (I know, that can change...). That means criminal justice requirements - college. Oiy.

Sigh.  I know Jesus is big enough for this too. In the meantime, I'm doing everything I know to do to stimulate his brain development - piano, karate, typing, brain therapy, etc.

Friday, August 5, 2016

I'm a rebel!

Folks, today I did something so crazy-backwards, I shock myself.

A certain small someone who shall remain nameless spilled a HUGE CUP of watermelon juice in the kitchen.  Then dear Sethy ran up and had a grand time splashing it all over. Side thought - it's really hard to clean a big mess with a 2yr old 'helping' and a 4yr old wailing.

People, my whole dining room and kitchen were so sticky, I just couldn't bother with sweeping. So I mopped the whole floor BEFORE I swept. After the stickies were gone, I swept. And you know what? The floor was just as clean as when I do it the other way around.

Y'all. The brazen backwardness of it all just makes me quiver! Makes me wonder what other processes might work backwards.

And then Seth took off his undies and pooped on the floor.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Crazy Busy!

So, June went off the charts for us.  I'm usually pretty good about being purposeful in our schedule to not over commit, leave time for breathing, and just have blank space.  You know, margin.  I don't know what happened.

I signed 2 kids up for a Lego Engineering class on Tuesday mornings.  They love it. So I decided to sign the big girl up for an excellerated (excelarated? exceller.....) super fast Biology class for the summer.  Thursdays.  Which completely conflicts with Thursday piano lessons. Oops.  After a quick consult with Mrs. B., we got the kinks worked out.

But swim classes start next week - every day for 2 weeks solid. On Tuesdays, I'll have to send the kids to Lego class in their swimming gear so I can pick them up a few minutes early and jet them over to the pool. Plus, with the Thursday piano/biology fiasco, I just can't even.

We also have a homeschool conference, a bridal shower, knitting club and a few other activities, all of which just make my brain twitch. PLUS, next week, we get the half a cow we ordered.  387 pounds of meat - I'm trying not to hyperventilate as I ponder if it will all fit the in the freezer...

But the Lord Jesus was merciful and TWO families invited us to dinner this month.  At their houses. In the same month. Who says miracles don't happen anymore?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

So, this week I've been fighting some pretty severe blues. Just slogging through, you know?  So I'm going to try and focus on some good stuff today..

I thought we are a cute family!  My face is flushed because holding a toddler is much like holding a space heater.

Happy - I'm sure something happy happened this week, but I can't for the life of me think of one.  My garden is growing. Sort of. I planted over a hundred seeds of various types, and I now have 12 plants. Maybe I'm not a seed person...

Funny - When I woke up this morning, I was so happy because it was Friday. Except it's not.

Real - See above for the Friday thing...

Hmm...after re-reading this post, I see the blues are still hanging on. But piano teacher comes this morning, so I'll get to listen to an hour and a half of scales and poorly played Yankee Doodle. So there's that...