Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another use for the MUS blocks

As part of Gracie's memory work this spring, we have been learning phone numbers -- first the home phone number, then Daddy's cell phone number, and finally my cell phone number. By the time she got to my number, there were too many numbers floating around in her head and she started getting confused. So we came up with a visual, using our Math U See blocks.


To make it even more fun I used my Startwrite software to print the number in HWT font for tracing or for having her build the phone number.

Now if you're out there, Cyber Creep, before you start leaving me creepy messages on my cell phone, that is not my real number. But the people at this number would love to share Jesus with you!

Anyway, the visual worked very well, and Grace knocked out my phone number on the very next try. So I'm thinking the next time I need to memorize a phone number (it seems like Hubby gets a new one every couple of years), I'm totally trying this method. I wish I had something like this when I was trying to memorize my junior high locker combination.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Week 34 in Review

Three weeks to go, three weeks to go, hi-ho, the derry-o, three weeks to go! Which I suppose is not really a big deal, because we'll keep doing some schooling over the summer anyway, but I tell you I'm ready for a change of pace.

It's been way too long since my last weekly review. I missed getting to tell you about things like watching an open rehearsal for the symphony (very cool), going to a college production of Annie Get Your Gun, and Anna becoming a national champion in track (okay, I'll tell you about that one in a minute). Because we've finished several subjects for the year, our workload was lighter this week, which turned out to be a good thing because I kept getting distracted by broken air conditioners, forgotten dentist appointments, and ballet costume alterations.

Math: Rather than addressing this by child like I usually do, I'm grouping everyone together because it was an amazing week for each of them. Gracie, in MUS Alpha, just started subtraction and did great. We had spent the last few weeks reviewing addition trying to quicken her responses, so she was very excited to start something new. Anna (in Zeta) and Ryne (in Beta) each completed three lessons this week! Typically we do one lesson a week (we do slow down if they have trouble), but each of them hit material they were already familiar with or just mastered very quickly. I kept checking myself to make sure I wasn't just getting lazy about having them master the material before moving on, but I don't think this was the case. But how crazy for them both to do this in the same week to have my kids begging to do more math! So this puts Anna in Lesson 20 and Ryne in Lesson 26. Ryne's remaining lessons in Beta look fairly easy, so I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes the book quickly. He is super excited about starting Gamma. I've blogged before how he struggled a bit with addition and subtraction, but I don't think we will have that much trouble with multiplication thanks to the Nintendo DS game, Brain Age. (Not sure if I'm supposed to be proud of that or not!)

Anna: Other than the math there is not much to report. She's been working on a project we're calling "Reading Through the Reformation". She has about a dozen books (all from the Veritas Press catalog) she and I are both reading independently and then discussing. After we discuss the book she completes a short book report page which she will put in a folder with a Reformation timeline she will make. We have both really enjoyed reading these books.

Oh, the track thing... For the last couple of months she has been training and competing with a team of homeschoolers and Christian school students. This was something she's been wanting to do for a couple of years, but I told her we would wait until she was in 5th grade. I was hesitant to add something else in, but the season was short and came in between the short and long course swimming seasons, so the timing seemed okay. Still it was busy, juggling practice schedules and having to spend all day Saturday at track meets for four weeks. But I'm still glad she did it. She made a new friend with another girl the same age who is also homeschooled. And I have never met a greater group of parents, students and coaches.

And then there was the national championship last weekend. It was the National Homeschool Track Meet, or something like that. I'm all for competition, but I found the title a little silly. There were teams from four states, but only 10 teams total, so I'd hardly call it a national meet, but whatever. What matters is everyone had fun, and we got to see Anna take 1st in the 400 meter dash and 3rd in the 200. Here is a picture of her at an earlier meet trying out the long jump.

Ryne: Last week he finished First Language Lessons 3, and this week he finished up his Map Skills workbook. Today we also finished the workbook Swiss Family Robinson from the "Bring the Classics to Life" series.

I heard good things about the series a couple of years ago, so I ordered this one and the Huckleberry Finn workbook as well, thinking they would be stories Ryne would find interesting. They are both Level 1 workbooks. But for whatever reason I never got around to using them until now, which is too bad. They are way too easy for Ryne now, but I think the concept is promising. In fact, I'm having to edit this right now because I just wrote way too much about it and realized it would be better in a separate post -- so stay tuned.

Grace: We put her phonics worksheets on hold because it was not coordinating real well with her reading curriculum anymore. Since the phonics worksheets are her most time consuming task of the day, this freed us up to spend even more time in The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. This week she completed two reading lessons a day. Most of it is review of what she has picked up naturally in the last few months. I wish all homeschooling were this easy!

Grace is also preparing for performance in La Fille Mal Gardee (Wayward Daughter) in mid-June. She goes to a classical ballet school that instead of annual recitals puts on a full-length ballet every other year. This week was picture week, which meant I had to sew elastic to feathery wristbands and do other alterations which were way beyond my abilities. It was good enough for pictures, but now I need to find someone to fix all my mistakes and attach the tutu where it's really supposed to go! Gracie will be playing a chick, and since I don't really know much about the plot yet I can't really tell you what a baby chick has to do with a wayward daughter but it sounds like a good post for next month.

Happy Homeschooling!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

100 posts and you don't even know what I look like!

It's stunning to me that I've actually found a hundred different things to write about since starting this blog! As I pondered different ways to celebrate the occasion, it occurred to me that unless you know me in real life you have no idea what I look like. Maybe last summer you saw this picture of my backside and you were able to imagine what I looked like from the other side.

Now here I even gave you a peek of my actual face, but would you recognize me at the grocery store?

There are two reasons for the lack of Kellie pictures on this blog. First, for better or for worse, I am the family photographer. Hubby is talented at many things, but photography is not in the top ten fifteen twenty. Anytime I hand the camera to him I have to remind him, "Here is the zoom button, Honey." So if I'm controlling the camera you can safely assume I'd rather be taking pictures of anyone or anything other than myself.

Which brings me to the second reason. I really hate to see pictures of myself. I still have quite a bit of extra pregnancy pounds to lose, even though it's been a good long time since I've been pregnant. And it's a rare day that I actually have my hair and makeup done. Oh, and I've given up plucking out the gray hairs. I'm too nervous to chemically treat my hair, and even more nervous to try some of the natural hair coloring methods.

Putting aside my excuses, I decided that if we're really going to be blogging buddies, you might appreciate being able to put a face to the blog. Many of you have cute little profile pictures of yourselves next to your wonderful comments, and I love knowing that you are real people. So now that I've totally built up the anticipation, here are a few of my 20-plus attempts at a self-portrait...

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I took all these pictures myself, holding the camera out in front of me, because I was too embarrassed to actually pose for someone!

So here I's nice to meet you...please don't stop visiting my blog because of this crazy post.

Friday, May 8, 2009


That was Anna's winning word for the 5th grade homeschool spelling bee! She persevered through an allergy attack (notice the droopy right eye) to be the last speller standing.

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As coordinator for the bee, my word is much simpler.


Seriously, all went well and I thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So who are these lovely ladies?

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They sure are cute, aren't they? No, I'm not in the picture, but if you put one of my childhood pictures next to the child on the right you would certainly see some similarities. That's because she is my mom, and the girl to the left is her younger sister. And here they are all grown up, Aunt Rosie on the left, and my mom, Pat, on the right.
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It's always fun to look at old pictures, but I do have a reason for sharing these with you. Last month I wrote about Autism Awareness month, even though you are all already aware of autism. Who could not be? Autism affects approximately 1 in 150 children. But there is something else I'd like you to know more about. May is Brain Tumor Awareness month. Brain tumors do not generate quite the press that autism does, mostly because far fewer people suffer from brain tumors. Still, 44,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year. Almost half of those tumors are malignant.

Both of the lovely ladies in these pictures died from brain tumors. They had the same type of tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme IV -- one of the deadliest forms of cancer (the same type of tumor Senator Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with last year). The two-year survival rate for GBM IV is about 9%. Treatments are grueling.

Aunt Rosie was the first to be diagnosed. Even though they lived across the country from each other, my mom spent much time with her during her 9 month battle. Aunt Rosie died the day after Grace was born, and a couple of months before her first grandchild was born. Mom was diagnosed 364 days later. As hard as such a diagnosis is, I still can't believe how brave my mom was, having just lived the battle with her only sister. She knew exactly what to expect, and it wasn't good. Even though my mom was treated by the finest doctors at one of the top two brain tumor centers in the world, her battle lasted only 18 months. She died four years ago.

Lots of research is being done on how to treat brain tumors, but very little on what causes them. According to the experts, there is no genetic link with brain tumors. Obviously, I find that a little hard to believe. Mom and Aunt Rosie were not the only brain tumor victims in the family -- their mom's two sisters also died from brain tumors. The research I have done leads me to a familiar hypothesis -- genetic predisposition, plus an environmental trigger. The same is being said about autism. In fact, over the years I have read about a number of biomedical commonalities between autism and brain tumors.

So as I did with my Autism Awareness post, I'm asking you to simply pray for those diagnosed with brain tumors and their loved ones. Pray they and their families would all trust in the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), and pray for advances in science. A few days after my mom was diagnosed she told me that she chose the following to be her verse:
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 43:5

Monday, May 4, 2009

Absent Blogger Shares Her Husband's Mail

Has it really been two weeks since I last posted? I have in fact been blogging, with five different posts in the works -- just none that are completed. And weekly reviews? Yikes, I'm a little behind. It's too bad, because we've accomplished quite a bit and have had some fun too. It's been a little hard to find time for blogging because I've been busy reading my new RDI books in preparation for a webinar Dr. Gutstein is leading in a couple of days on the RDI Operating System. I am amazed at those of you who get a lot of reading done AND find time to blog. Will you share your secrets? I am also coordinating a homeschool spelling bee that will happen this Friday, so I've been busy ordering trophies, managing registration, and finding judges. On top of all that, Anna has taken up track this spring. I didn't think anything could last longer than a swim meet, but now I know better. Track meets are twice as long! Whew! No wonder I've been such a bad blogger.

When life is this busy and crazy it's always good to laugh a little, and I certainly got a chuckle recently when I checked the mail. First a little background info: Marc works in a sales position within the insurance industry, so he's always getting these corny flyers in the mail, telling him how much money he could make if he worked for Fabulous Company XYZ. But this is the best offer I've seen so far.

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Oh...Wow... is that somethin' or what? I've been trying to come up with some witty remark, but instead I'm just left speechless.

Do people actually make money sending out this trash? Seriously. They had to have money to print the postcards, hopefully pay the model for making such a spectacle of herself, and run the website that my husband is encouraged to visit ( Do they actually get enough (any?) responses from people to recoup their costs?

No wonder our economy is in shambles.