Monday, December 8, 2014

Homeschool in November

This month was much better than last month.  We got right back into the swing of things and I didn't feel behind at all, which is very encouraging.  There is a lot of flexibility to homeschooling and I am grateful that.  The amount of work we get done can ebb and flow according to the energy level in our home.  On high energy weeks for me, we can do extra readings and projects that require more preparation.  On high energy weeks for the boys, they can take charge of their own projects and bug me until I get the bare minimums done.

I took on two day care kids (age 2 and 4) this month and the older one has been doing Kindergarten with Carl.  He has also joined us for Morning Exercises, which has made that time more fun.  It's surprisingly easy to incorporate the two extra kids into my routines and hasn't thrown us off at all.  And I'm always glad to get more "socialization" for my boys.  Sometimes the apartment does get noisy, though.

In Kindergarten

Stone Soup - I think that Megan and I were both really excited about Thanksgiving cooking this month because we both did stories about food.  For her unit, she told the story of "Stone Soup".  I actually used that story in November two years ago but I don't think Carl remembered it and I know that Megan based her telling on a different adaptation than I did.  On one of the Kindergarten days, all the kids helped to make a stone soup.

The Magic Porridge Pot - For my unit, I told the Grimm's fairy tale of "Sweet Porridge".  I accompanied it with rhymes about cooking ("Peas Porridge Hot", "Bat, Bat, Come Under My Hat", and "Pat-a-cake") and hymns about Thanksgiving ("Come Ye Thankful People Come" and "Because I Have Been Given Much").  On our walks, we got to enjoy the autumn leaves and unseasonably warm weather.  One of the picture books I got to accompany this unit (The Magic Porridge Pot) has become a favorite of Sven's and he asks me to read it several times a day.

In First Grade

This month, we finished our first term with Ambleside Online.  Very little actually changes term to term but we will start studying a new composer and a new painter next month.  For the past three months, we have been listening to the music of Hildegard von Bingen and enjoying the paintings of Fra Angelico, two religious medieval artists.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much Soren and Carl enjoyed being exposed to their works and how easy it was to apply Charlotte Mason's ideas about Composer Study and Picture Study in our home.

For Composer Study, we would listen to a new song every week.  Usually, we would listen to it while Soren did his handwork (knitting) but sometimes the kids would want to just sit and listen.  Nothing else is required to fulfill Charlotte Mason's expectations of a successful Composer Study.  There is no need to give information about the composer or require a response from the child.  They are supposed to forge their own relationship with the work, whatever that may be.  In spite of that, I did begin the term with a short story about Hildegard von Bingin, who was an extraordinary woman.  Soren was impressed that she called herself "a feather on the breath of God".  Carl said that the music was beautiful.

For Picture Study, we would study a new painting every other week.  I would bring the image up on the computer and Soren would sit at the table and look at it.  I set a timer for 5 minutes and told him to look at the picture and memorize the details of it until he could see it in his mind with his eyes closed.  Being quiet and looking at a painting for five minutes was much harder for him than being quiet and listening to music for five minutes.  His eyes and mouth would begin to wander off-task.  But I could refocus him easily.  At the end of 5 minutes, I would close the computer and ask him to tell me everything he remembered about the picture.  Many of the paintings we studied were very busy and so there were lots of interesting details to look at and remember.  And after he had listed everything he could remember, we opened the computer and looked for three more things that he had missed.  Soren liked that all the artwork was religious in nature and about stories from the scriptures that he knew.  I wanted to do a project at the end of the term from the book Discovering Great Artists but we didn't get around to it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Six


Number of accidents: 0
Times ended on the potty: 0
Times started on the potty: 8
Times self-initiated: 0
Times peed on Mom: 0
Ounces of Tang consumed: 20


Today couldn't really have gone any better.  I just went back to normal life, albeit with the added responsibility of taking Sven to the potty every once in a while.  And guess what?  He was dry all day!  Woot!

From past experience, I know that this is not the end.  Your first "dry all day" is always a fluke.  But it's still an encouraging fluke.  Today gives me the motivation I needed to keep going next week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Five


Number of accidents: 8
Times ended on the potty: 0
Times started on the potty: 6
Times self-initiated: 4!
Times peed on Mom: 0
Ounces of Tang consumed: 22


Sven is slowly, but surely, "getting it".  I'm feeling hopeful.  Although, I must admit that I was feeling hopeless this morning.  I was totally ready to give up.  That's when Sven, for the first time all week, told me that he wanted to go pee.  And he was right!  When I helped him with his undies, he sat himself down and peed.  Huzzah!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Four


Number of accidents: 11
Times ended on the potty: 4
Times started on the potty: 8
Times self-initiated: 0
Times peed on Mom: 0!
Ounces of Tang consumed: 28


I did a few things differently today, even though I'm pretty sure that changing strategies mid-training is a bad plan.  However, I needed to do something different or I wasn't going to have the grit to keep going.

Firstly, I got out the underwear.  I wanted to teach the importance of keeping dry.  He definitely didn't get it but I don't think that he is confused by it either.  So the underwear are going to stay.

Secondly, I stopped picking him up mid-pee and taking him to the potty.  When I saw him having an accident, I told him "No, pee belongs in the potty.  Let's go to the potty," and made him go there himself.  Usually, by the time we got there, he was done peeing and so no longer had anything left to "end on the potty" with.  The upside to this was that I did not get peed on at all today.  And now that he definitely has made the connection between pee and the potty (even if he doesn't get the whole picture), I just felt it wasn't as important to get him there quickly.

Thirdly, I paid less attention.  Sometimes I took my eyes off him for three minutes at a time!  And I only missed one pee, which was well worth it.  Watching his butt for three days straight was mentally exhausting.  Today I allowed myself to pay some attention to other things.

Fourthly, I took a more active role in preventing accidents.  Whenever he looked like he might need to go, I just sent him to the potty.  And usually, I was right.  He did need to go and he was very happy to go.  This strategy kept him in the same pair of dry underwear from naptime to bedtime.  Woot!

So, my plan of attack for tomorrow is: more of the same.  I'll give him another day of excessive amounts of sugar water and attention.  We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Three


Number of accidents: 11
Times ended on the potty: 9
Times started on the potty: 3
Times self-initiated: 0
Times peed on Mom: 3
Ounces of Tang consumed: 36


It's a good thing today is over because sometime in the last hour I transformed from a rational being focused on a long-term (but achievable) goal into a raging maniac.  I'm frustrated beyond reason; three days of this and Sven appears to be learning the wrong lesson.  (Aka, "If I start to pee, Mom will whisk me off to the toilet and if I save back a few drops, I'll get a gummy bear!")  How many more days of this are yet to come?  I'm tired of being patient and upbeat.  What a change from yesterday!

The last straw was when, while jumping and peeing on the couch, Sven whacked me in the nose with a book and then Soren laughed maniacally about it.  The ungrateful wretches.  Maybe I'll just give up on this mothering thing and let them grow up to be crude, uneducated slobs that wet their pants every couple of hours.

I'll feel better about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Two


Number of accidents: 20
Times ended on the potty: 9
Times started on the potty: 1!
Times self-initiated: 0
Times peed on Mom: 2
Ounces of Tang consumed: 42


You know what has surprised me the most this time around about potty training?

I'm enjoying it.  No joke.  For Soren and Carl, potty training was the worst.  I seriously wondered if I wanted to have any more kids, just knowing that it meant I would have to potty train them.  I thought that it was the most abominable parenting job and I wished to never, ever do it again.

But this time, I really am enjoying it.

I think it's because I've had experience and know what to expect.  So it doesn't frustrate me when Sven has an accident; I know that's part of the process.  It doesn't discourage me that it hasn't "clicked" yet; I know that takes time.  And it doesn't gross me out to deal with all the pee; I know I'll just shower after bedtime.  Everything about the process is aok with me, which frees me up to enjoy the best part.


We have spent so much time together these past two days.  Homeschool has been relegated to independent work and Sven's naptime so I have hours and hours to spend, doing whatever Sven wants.  We've read dozens of picture books, drawn pictures, built with blocks, played the piano, and cleaned up accidents.  Together.  The house is full of kids (there are currently four others) but my attention is all on Sven and it's delightful.

He's delightful!

He told me a knock knock joke.  It didn't make any sense but had most of the important parts.

He scribbled all over a piece of white paper and insisted that he was drawing an "el-phant".

He asked me to read The Magic Porridge Pot at least a dozen times.  Next most popular was a (really boring) book Soren got from the library about tornadoes(!).

He laughed and laughed while I gave him a haircut, telling me that it was "silly".

He spent fifteen minutes trying on all the shoes by the door, pleased as punch to be tromping around in nothing but boots.

He laid his head on my chest and said, "Mommy, I love you."

Even if the potty training doesn't stick, I'm so glad to be spending this time with Sven before Baby #4 arrives.  He has long been my sweet, little pumpkin and I thought that I was sufficiently enjoying and attending to him.  But in the last couple of days, I have come to better appreciate his glorious uniqueness.

And it all began with potty training.  Who knew?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day One


Number of accidents: 12
Times ended on the potty: 3
Times started on the potty: 0
Times self-initiated: 0
Times peed on Mom: 2
Ounces of Tang consumed: 20


I took the plunge and began potty training today.  My intention is to be really hard core about it for the next two weeks and if it doesn't stick ... well, then I guess we'll be waiting until next year.  So it's now or never.  Hopefully now.

This is how my day went:

7:30 am - I'm getting Sven up for the day and, since I'm still not committed to this potty training thing, leaving him in his nighttime diaper.
8:00 am - Breakfast is over and I'm sticking Sven in the tub, then calling my friend for an hour long pep talk.
9:00 am - I'm getting Sven out of the tub and deciding to use the bare butt method, mostly because I don't want to go get my 18 mo underwear from the storage unit.
10:30 am - I'm rejoicing because I have "caught" 2 of Sven's pees mid-stream and helped him to end on the potty.  I think: he's getting it!
10:45 am - I'm changing into my last clean pair of jeans because I have been peed on.
11:00 am - I'm not changing my pants even though I have just been peed and pooped on.
11:10 am - We're going to play outside.  Sven has a sweater, knee high socks, and a bare butt.
12:00 am - We're coming back in for lunch.  Sven has had two accidents while outside
12:15 am - Huzzah!  Another hit!
1:00 pm - I'm putting Sven into a diaper and down for a nap.  I'm so glad to have a break from watching his butt.
3:50 pm - Sven is waking; I'm de-diapering him and taking him to the potty for a dry run.
4:00 pm - I'm sending all children out to play and informing Sven that he can join them after he goes pee.
5:00 pm - I'm bringing all children inside.  Sven still hasn't peed
5:20 pm - Sven pees in a box of play dough! Gross!
7:00 pm - I'm putting Sven into a diaper and to bed; he's peed on the floor 3 more times and doesn't care.  We've had no success since naptime but I'm feeling optimistic about tomorrow.