Category Archives: Uncategorized

Math and English

We had been determined to wait until after Angelica’s learning evaluation in Denver at the end of January to start any form of tutoring to help her with math and English. However, I found a tutor who came recommended on a board by parents who have children with learning disorders. I decided to call her and get a feel for what she does. Ultimately we decided to go ahead and start the tutoring. Already this teacher is making some progress with Angelica. I’m sure it’ll be quite a while before we start seeing anything major, but it’s still really good to see her getting in there and learning something. This is a licensed teacher and she uses a special curricula and really works on the level of the child.

Angelica really likes her, as do Craig and I. I really hope that this works out well. We need help teaching her to read and do basic math. From there hopefully we can take it ourselves, but I want her to start building on these basics now. Science, History, and Bible are going absolutely wonderfully. Angelica is so smart and she’s so curious and there’s always something new to learn. I have bought her over 20 of those DK Discovery books and I have more on the way and even more I’m going to order in January. We have enough material to take us through for years. And of course there’s always more scripture to learn. We watch documentaries regularly.

I feel so blessed and privileged to be able to stay home and homeschool Angelica. It’s wonderful to see her learn new things and to let her pick what interest her for the day and start going over that material. It’s always a joy as a mother when you get to see your child happy. This time together is so special.

Interesting Homeschooling

Homeschooling has been fun lately. Other than some counting review, we have left math and English alone. That evaluation is 2 months away, and we are going to get down to business with reading, writing, and math after that. I have been talking to a tutor I think I am going to hire.

Meanwhile, it’s all about geography, science, social studies, art, and art history. I have bought tons of books for her to explore, and there are at least fifteen more coming in the mail. I want to introduce her to the world and help her find the things she is passionate about. I believe in a liberal arts education. I am going to give her the best education that I can.

Craig gave me that really cool book about Hieronymus Bosch for my birthday, and Angelica and I have dissected a painting, St John on the Island of Patmos, and talked about what it means. She loved it. She asked so many questions. We’ve gone through more Bosch paintings as well. He’s my favorite Medieval painter. 

Naturally, I am not looking for a thesis from her. She’s five. I just want to introduce her to some artists so that she can identify their work if she sees it. At the very least I want to expose her to a lot of art to give her an appreciation of it and to stoke her imagination. I’m pleased that she has been enjoying it so much.

Science has been all over the place. We have talked a lot about the solar system. Pluto has been a focus of discussion, as have Mercury and Venus. We have also been learning about caves. There’s so much to discover in the books I have bought her. She’s in Kindergarten, so if she absorbs just some of it I’ll be happy. Angelica has so much curiosity and so many questions. It is a joy to teach her.

One of her new books for history and social studies profiles kids from different cultures and time periods. I think filtering things from the perspective of a child will help keep her interest and help her retain the information. It is a good introduction. I have other books too, but that’s the new focus. We’ve gone over some basic structural elements of castles as well, but I think we need to review that.

Art itself has been a regular focal point. Angelica uses a variety of materials, from paint to fabric. She really enjoys being creative with everything she can find. I want to encourage this as much as I can. In a few years, when she is more mature and responsible, I look forward to buying her a camera. For now it’s stickers galore. 

Trying to Raise My Mood

Now is the time to put my new planner to the test. I was doing pretty well this morning. We did homeschool lessons, I painted with Angelica, I did housework Etc. I was productive and really enjoying myself. Then I started my afternoon low. Now I’m trying to come back. I feel like my soul slipped out between my fingers. I’m staring at the TV. It’s one of my favorite shows. I still feel like a piece of myself has been rended in a shredder. Somehow I need to get off the sofa.

Homeschool Values

Why has our family chosen to homeschool? What values and priorities have led my husband and I to take on the vital, heavy job of educating our daughter ourselves? I have begun reading a wonderful book on homeschooling, and one of the first questions it poses is what our values are that have led us to make this choice.

Our values are numerous. Here are the top 5.

  1. We want to be able to customize our daughter’s education to provide her extra help in areas that she struggles, and to allow her to push forward at high speed in the areas in which she excels. The customization and endless possibilities of homeschooling really appeal to us. Homeschooling is a major task, but we are undertaking this task in the hopes of providing our daughter a better education.
  2. Faith. Obviously, public schools do not teach our Christian faith. We want to incorporate the Bible into our daily lessons. We do not want public schools teaching her things that are contrary to scripture. Incorporating our faith in God and our walk with Jesus into academic life is important to us. However, you might wonder why this isn’t number one on our list of why we homeschool. Well, if teaching the faith was our only issue or even the most predominant issue, we could send her to a Christian private school. One of the best benefits of homeschooling is being able to incorporate our religious beliefs into academic life, but it is not nearly the only reason. There are plenty of good Christian schools to send Angelica to. But homeschooling we think will offer her a better education and fit our family better. Although homeschooling is often thought of as a Christian thing, there are many secular parents who are choosing to homeschool their children. I think that that alone attests to the fact that there is a value in homeschooling beyond the religious.
  3. Homeschooling allows for travel. In September we took a two-week vacation. If our daughter was in school we couldn’t have decided to just take a two-week road trip around the Northwest in September. It would be the beginning of her school year and aside from the attendance policies the school would undoubtedly have, it would put her behind if we took a vacation in September. We went to New Mexico to visit my uncle for a few days in October. We are hoping to do Glacier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite national parks in the next year or two, and we don’t intend to go to every single one of those in the busy summer season. Homeschooling allows our family to travel when we want and for as long as we want. In exchange we have to do school year-round of course, but with plenty of breaks during the year to travel or spend time with family we have decided that that doesn’t matter. And if we take a really long trip at some point, we can make the choice to bring school on the road with us. Homeschooling is totally flexible and easy to tailor to our lifestyle.
  4. I really want to spend the time with my daughter, this year and every year until she grows up. I like a break just like any other mother does. I have a babysitter for a reason. But I don’t want to miss out on being with my daughter 5 days a week. I would rather share in the joy of discovery that is school with my daughter. Childhood is so short and I just don’t want to part with precious time. I want to have lots of memories of these years and to spend the extra time with Angelica. I am fortunate to be able to homeschool, and I want to make the most of that opportunity to be close to my daughter and make extra memories with her that I wouldn’t be able to make if she was out of the house 30 to 40 hours a week. Of course if I thought it was truly in my daughter’s best interest to spend those 30 or 40 hours a week away from home in a school, I would send her to school. But I don’t think that that would be in her best interest, so this is another one of my homeschooling values.
  5. Homeschooling really works with the military lifestyle. In the military you pack up and leave every two to three years. We’re hoping to be able to homestead at some point, but that is not guaranteed to happen. So every couple of years a military child switches school districts and ends up with a completely different curriculum in a new place with new people and new expectations. Sometimes the’ll wind up in a place with more opportunity, and sometimes they’ll end up in a place with less. This is true whether you send your child to public school or private school. By homeschooling her we ensure that her education doesn’t flip flop every couple of years. She will have continuity and I think that’s very valuable for a child. The content of her education will vary depending on her interests and skills, rather than on geography.

Vraylar

 At the beginning of the week my psychiatric nurse put me on another medication in addition to the ones I am already on. She put me on Vraylar.

I have had mixed results. I have been able to actually do some reading this week and I was able to go and have fun and have dinner with some new friends. So there have definitely been improvements the past few days. But while it’s probably the drug I can’t know for sure at this point because it could just be that I’m getting lucky and having a few decent days. If it is in fact the new medicine making me feel better, I’m still not sure if I’m going to be able to stay on it.

I have been feeling very strange since I started it. I get disoriented when I’m driving. I feel like I’m moving even though I have my foot all the way down on the brake. The movement of other cars confuses me and I zone out a lot. I get dizzy at home. And I’m having really weird effects with my vision. My eyesight is not blurry or fuzzy or even double vision. Instead it literally looks like everything has just been painted with fresh wet paint and the paint dripped down before the picture dried. What I see is actually smeared sometimes. It’s really bizarre. I suppose it could be something else entirely causing this, but while I have had some issues before this it has really been acute this week.

It’s All About Science and Geography!

Since English and Math are a no go until we get a diagnosis and some professional help for Angelica, I’ve decided to take a different tack. Her curriculum did primarily just math and language arts (with a small smattering of social studies) for Kindergarten. They didn’t really do science and geography, or even history, until later grades. Angelica simply can’t do the math and language arts right now (see previous post). But I see no reason to waste time that could be used to give her a valuable education. To that end, I went out and bought two science books for kids and one geography book. All of them are full of amazing photos that interest Angelica. The two science books are picture encyclopedias of sorts, but they cover different subjects. These books give us so much to dive into and so far she really likes them. Angelica chose to start with her geography book. That book, although it covers continents and oceans and everything like that, also covers space and the magnetosphere and tectonic plates etc. We are starting at the very beginning of the book, which in fact is the very beginning – space. We have been reading about the order of the planets and watching documentaries on Mercury and Venus. I’m going to use these very engaging books and any videos I can find to teach her. When she gets a couple of grades ahead I want to get her the DK books. They have ones for history, art history, music,  and some for other subjects too. These books can be basic textbooks and supplemental materials until she gets older and needs to really dive in deep.

Hitting a Wall and Getting Help

We plugged away at BJU Press for as long as we could, but we just hit a wall. It’s actually a very good video curriculum taught by experienced teachers, and with accompanying review material. The problems we ran into were numerous. Angelica did not grasp phonics at all. They were teaching how to sound out basic words like sin and tin. Nothing worked. Phonics cards didn’t work. The teacher’s lessons didn’t work. Our explanations didn’t work. She wasn’t catching on and would cry with frustration.

Then there was the issue with math. She did finally count to ten by using this curriculum, which was great. But Angelica didn’t always connect numbers to actual objects, and getting higher than ten just wasn’t happening. Lesser and greater were difficult for her. And comparing ordinal and cardinal numbers, forget it. Tallying did not go well either.

We took her to a developmental pediatrician twice and what she determined is that Angelica probably has dyslexia and dyscalculia. She doesn’t handle those disorders though, so we have scheduled a full evaluation and diagnostic session at a literacy center in Denver. They were booked out until January. The Colorado Springs location, where we live, was booked out until April. The center will test for dyscalculia, dyslexia, and pretty much every other learning and developmental disorder. It’s expensive, but we need to do it. Something is clearly wrong, and we can’t seem to overcome it. We need to find out what Angelica has so we can learn how to teach her in a way she will understand. Hopefully we can also find a tutor with experience in whatever disorders she has who can come and do math and language arts lessons with her each week.

September Wasn’t Great

October was worse. I haven’t written in a month, or even read much. My mind hasn’t been clear. I’ve tried to edit massive amounts I’d already written and my mind was just dry.  It wasn’t a creative block. It was depression and mixed mania. Half the time I was too depressed to do much. I fell so behind on housework for a few weeks that I felt terrible when J came to clean. The house was a mess from floor to ceiling. We alternated between running on dirty laundry and getting dressed downstairs when the laundry was clean because I couldn’t muster the will to bring it upstairs and put it away. We went to get the car washed and I had so much anxiety waiting for it to be detailed that I tried to walk off and leave. Craig had to bring me back. At one point I lost my mind and engaged in some brief self harm.

Last Monday Angelica and I went to our first social event for the Peterson Wives Group, even though we’ve been here since the end of February. So many of them have nothing but strangers there and have tons of people going. I have so much anxiety that I can’t seem to get up the courage to go. But a nice girl I’ve talked to before hosted this event, so I decided to take the plunge. It was an adorable thing where the kids could paint little pumpkins. Angelica had a wonderful time and it was so good to see her get to play with other kids. She really hit it off with K, the hostess’s, son. We want to get them together again for a little playdate. The other women there were so nice and I enjoyed the conversation with all of them. And yet….toward the end I felt like  crying. When I got to the car and buckled in I did cry. I cried on the short drive home and I cried when I got in the house. I was no use the rest of the day. It was a wonderful event and the company was superb, but I just fell apart afterward.

Craig has had a hard time with me for awhile now. I just haven’t been good company. I’ve been so low that he has resorted to letting me watch Real Housewives even when he’s home and stuck in front of the TV. It’s a mercy thing to raise my mood. Usually I like scary shows, surreal stuff, and nature documentaries. But for some reason I love the Real Housewives franchise. I never put it on when Craig is home out of consideration, but it is mindless entertainment and can help me while away hours when I’m really not up to do anything else. Poor Craig. I have been living as much life as I’ve been able to, but it isn’t easy. The other day I wasted two hours of the babysitter being here so that I could sleep. 

For now, Trazadone is no longer part of my nightly med regimen. Last summer I was waking up early naturally. I’ve been sleeping later and later and it has just been adding to my misery.  Not only does my day suck and I accomplish very little, but I have even less chance of making something of myself and my day than I usually do because I’m asleep for half of it. I pulled myself off and I’ve started waking up early again like I like. I’ll keep it on backup for when I go to high to sleep. I also have some other medicine I can take if I go to manic. I haven’t had a full blown psychotic mania this season, which is odd. But I’m grateful.

Instead I’ve had those delightful things they call mixed states. That is where you are manic and depressed at the same time. So I’ve gone through periods of super high energy and agitation, combined with hopeless and suicidal feelings. These spells haven’t lasted long (otherwise my house might have been cleaner), but they’ve been miserable when they’ve happened. I’ve had to walk out of restaurants countless times. It isn’t constant. I’ve been able to eat out without trouble a few times. But it has been a regular issue. 

Hopefully I’m on the rise again. They have doubled my mood stabilizer and my antidepressant. I have had to go to the psychiatrist each week for weeks. I’m tired of waiting for table scraps of life – for just a few moments or hours here and there when I can be of use to my family or shop or hang with friends. I want to be able to write again, and have the focus to read. As I write I’m listening to music. I haven’t sat and just listened to music in weeks.

BJU Press

We have decided to go another direction in our home schooling. I have ordered the BJU online curriculum. She will watch videos online everyday that cover math and language arts, and through the subject of language arts science and social studies will be studied as well. There are corresponding worksheets to do and little projects. I am excited to get started on this with her. We showed her a sample video of the kindergarten math and she seemed to like it and get into it.

I actually looked into this curriculum months ago. Actually years ago even, as I was beginning to ponder exactly how I was going to homeschool Angelica. I was worried that videos might bore her, and I wondered if she would need me teaching and if the videos would be too much of an easy way out. But as I have found out from having her do the Time4Learning Subscription Service, she loves videos. Or at the very least she loves those. And doing pure workbook assignments with nothing else to go with it, like we did with Christian Light Education, is something she hates. She likes to have audio and visual and colors and possibly to do a little kinesthetic movement. These videos seem to encourage some of that. And it’s a more well-rounded education than what we were using because kindergarten covers science and social studies, even if they don’t have their own videos devoted to those subjects. I watched a sample language arts video and was impressed. I hope that the worksheets are well designed and that Angelica really get something out of them. And I like the fact that each day I have to lay out her work for her and we follow along with the videos and then we do the work that’s assigned in the parent guide each day. I can enter grades for her online through the parent portal. Starting in fifth grade I think students take their tests and quizzes online, but until then I will be grading them, which I think I like just as well.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I really think that at the very least this will go much better than the last curriculum. I will have so much more help teaching because it won’t be just me and my methodology. She’ll be watching an actual professional teacher teach the first time she hears the lesson and then I will just be reinforcing the lesson. Between laying out her work for her each day, pulling up the videos and being ready to stop them at the appropriate time for her to do activities, and grading her assignments, I will still be heavily involved in her education. But she will have the audio visual stimulation that seems to keep her interested in school, and I will have the assistance of having a professional teacher give her her lessons. So please dear Lord let this work out.