Archive | Mothering Win RSS feed for this section

Algebra and Life (and the secret to successful home school math)

19 Feb

Beginner Home school Math Mistakes
           I began homeschooling in August 2016 using Saxon math.  Cherry Pie in Algebra 2, Pumpkin Pie in 8/7, and Tamale Pie in 6/5, I had been given the textbooks my children needed (for free!), and I figured I should use what I had rather than spend money on dreamy manipulative heavy curriculum (MathUSee.)  The benefit to using Saxon was (aside from being able to start for free) that it is a respected curriculum.  So when friends and family members raised their eyebrows and worried that I was going to be one of those home school moms whose children just played and wasted time, I could say, “I’m using Saxon math,” and they all relaxed and got off my case.  However, I second guessed myself more than anyone realized.  I worried that I should buy a different program that might be better for my children.   I worried that the daily work was too repetitive and boring and took too much time.  I worried that Saxon was not helping my kids to see the real beauty that is in math.
            By October 2016, I could tell Cherry Pie was definitely struggling.  I thought a different program would be the solution for her.  I also realized she needed to review Algebra 1, which she had supposedly learned in 8th grade.  So I picked up a textbook called EZ Algebra at my favorite used curriculum store.  Each chapter was written in story form.  This would be fun and interesting, I hoped.  A textbook written in story form seemed to fit with what I understood “living books” were (Charlotte Mason method).  Reading how the characters solved their math problems might help her understand the “why” behind the math.  But many of the homework problems in the new book were tricky and made leaps beyond the instruction that were not intuitive for her or me.  If neither Cherry Pie nor I could figure out how to get the answer, we were sunk because the book didn’t have a solutions guide.  Also each chapter covered 4-5 concepts at once, which was too much new information all at once! I intended to work with her on every lesson, but I was new to home school and schooling 4 children in 4 different math levels plus keeping the 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 1-year-old twins happy and out of mischief was a struggle. Most days, Cherry Pie was on her own for math.
I Learn the Secret to Successful Math Learning:
         After about 6 more weeks of still seeing her struggle, I pulled out the Saxon Math book again, Algebra 1 this time.  I went through a lesson with Cherry Pie. I get so excited about math when I’m teaching the lesson! It’s fun! I realized I have to teach her every day, or math is just not going to work for her or me.  I have to teach daily for me because I don’t know what’s going with her if I’m not directly teaching, and I need the review because I haven’t done much Algebra for 20 years.  Cherry Pie needs the direct instruction every day because she got none in 7th or 8th grade in public school.  She was given an assignment on a computer and told to ask her neighbor if she didn’t understand something.  She was left to flounder on her own for far too long.  I didn’t know this until later, but now that I know, I understand why she was so lost, and why math was so painful for her.
           As I was researching home school, I heard from many moms that they use math as the subject their children are expected to work independently on.  Many of the curriculum choices advertise that students can work through their programs independently.  But now that I’ve been home schooling for almost 2 years, I can say that my children struggled progress in math on their own.  When I began, I thought my 12-year-old and 11-year-old were moving through their Saxon math books by themselves okay, but that was because the concepts were almost all review for them. They weren’t learning anything new, and at the end of each month when I would finally remember to check up on their homework, I would discover that they had completed about 4 lessons for the entire month. (They should have been completing 3-4 lessons per week!)
           When I made the decision that I would work with each child each day for math no matter what, something magic happened. No one was bored with math any more, and everyone began to finish their math assignments in a reasonable amount of time.
Here is the big secret to schooling math: More important than which curriculum you choose is YOU, the teacher, working  one-on-one with your students each day.  I would even venture to say, that the curriculum you choose does not matter at all as long as you work with your children each day.  Choose one that is fun and interesting to you, or at least find one that does some of the thinking for you, because you won’t have time to write lesson plans for every day.  But do not think that the shiny curriculum you really want, but can’t afford, is the key and pine for it.  Because it really is not the answer.  You are the answer.  Even if you have your child work through Khan Academy online (which is free except for the cost of good internet speeds), the key to your child moving at a good pace through the math program is you being their with them for 20 minutes of their math time each day.
I discover that Saxon math is pretty cool, after all.     
           I discovered that in the Saxon book, each of the homework problems has a small number beside it that tells which lesson that concept was taught in.  So if neither Cherry Pie nor I can figure it out, I know where to go to review that concept.  Not only that, I can use those numbers to notice patterns in which problems Cherry Pie misses, and we can go back and review skills that she consistently makes mistakes on.
      Best of all, there is a letter from John Saxon to the students in the beginning of the book.  He says algebra isn’t difficult, it’s just different.  We have to learn to think differently in algebra.  He talked about not being discouraged about making mistakes–that everyone makes lots of mistakes. Mistakes don’t mean that we are bad at math and should give up. We practice each day to develop strategies that will help us avoid making mistakes in the future.
           That was a concept I needed, because once I understood that we were developing strategies, my mindset changed.   As we went through the lesson together, I was specifically paying attention to how the book showed to solve the equations–looking for strategies to help Cherry Pie.  I also payed attention to how I solved the equations.  What are my strategies that I developed all those years ago that are now so instinctive I hardly notice what I am doing?  I asked Cherry Pie to pay attention to how we solved the problems so she could find her own strategies.
        I should never have doubted Saxon.  I realized that he totally gets the beauty of algebra.  He just knows that algebra takes lots of practice.
      Maybe that’s a bit of an allegory for life.  We are here on the earth, trying to learn how to think and be like our Heavenly Father.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We make tons of mistakes.  However, we aren’t supposed to be discouraged by our mistakes or quit or just decide that we are no good at life.  With the help of the master teacher, we continue to practice.  We develop strategies to avoid making those mistakes again. It’s going to take a lifetime of practice, and it can indeed be beautiful.
❤️ Glowworm
Advertisements

The Skooter Pies Discover Mud.

20 Apr

Skeeter


Spring has arrived, and on one balmy afternoon I let the twins outside, knowing they would find the mud puddles–even though they’d never played in puddles before.  It didn’t take long for them to find the puddles.

Baby Bean and Key Lime Pie (not pictured) joined in the dirty fun. I just sat on the porch and enjoyed watching their excitement and curiosity.

Skeeter likes to dip his head in the water

The downside is that they know about mud now, so they beeline it to the mud puddle every time they get outside.  (Which is pretty often because Skooter learned how to open doors. Curses.)

Zeek

It was still worth it.

Tasting the muddy driveway gravel.  They had to taste the mud several times. Seriously these boys have refused to taste so many delicious foods, like flan 🍮(!!), but the mud went right into their mouths–more than once!

A muddy bath to extend the fun. And there were little muddy bite marks in the soap when they got out of the tub.  Seriously, I don’t know why I bother cooking.


Muddy paw prints are clues that fun was had today.

In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air.

Charlotte Mason

Bean Bag Stuffie 

16 Jun


I made this!

It’s the first time I’ve sewed anything since last October. 
It is stuffed full of all the princess dress ups.  
Storage and seating!  I’m so happy

Mom uniform 

13 May


Awhile ago (it’s Christmas time in the picture, so almost 6 months ago) 

I decided that I needed a Mom uniform.  Something that would feel comfortable, yet not feel like I was still wearing my pajamas (I’m talking about you, yoga pants.)  

Something that could stand up to being swiped& splashed with various body fluids all day long.  Especially baby drool & spit up.  

Something that would hold up under many washings.  (See previous)

I asked myself, “What job do people have who take care of others all day, and where contact with body fluids is a high probability?”

NURSES!

so I bought myself a pair of scrubs. 

I love them. 

They are comfortable.

They have pockets. Lots of pockets! Pockets that fit my phone!

Being washed frequently is not destroying them.

If I do leave the house unexpectedly to run to Walmart or pick up kids somewhere, I look like a decent working person and not someone whose photo needs to be blasted on social media.  (PeopleofWalmart.com) 

This is a win.  I ❤️ scrubs.


**caveat:  scrubs probably won’t work as well for you if you are a nursing mom.  

Introducing Zeke and Skeeter

9 Aug

  
Zeke and Skeeter were born Thursday morning this week.  Zeke is on the right.  He was born first and weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces.  Skeeter was born second and weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces.  They are both super big and healthy for twins.  However, they are my smallest babies ever, and they were 4 weeks early.  

I was so happy to be able to deliver them without having to have a cesarean section.  I was given a choice because they were both head down when I went into labor.  It was pretty hard to choose, because I knew that regular deliver was more risky–that it had a chance of turning into an emergency c-section.  But in the end, I could not bring myself to ask to be cut open–even though I knew I was okay with whatever delivery had to happen to get them here safely. Lucky me, no emergencies happened.  The nurses all told me how happy they were for me, that almost no one gets to have their twins without at least 1 c-section.   Probably a good thing that I hadn’t realized the odds were that bad against me.  

The twins were born fast, just like all my other babies.  Labor started a little after 7 p.m. And finally turned into something I was sure was the real thing at about 10:30.  I got to the hospital at 11:45 pm and they were born a little over an hour later at 1:02 and 1:08 a.m.  It was intense but not too scary or stressful because I had 4 awesome cheerful nurses and my trusted doctor.  It was like a big party in the OR. 

Everything seemed peachy and normal.   

Then when Zeke and Skeeter were 2 days old, things started going a little downhill.  Saturday morning,  I was worried enough about breast feeding two babies at once that I asked the lactation consultant to watch me feeding them and to see if she could give me any tips.  I was having a little trouble getting them to latch on properly (they have tiny mouths), and they were falling asleep instead of eating once I got them latched on.  In less than 5 minutes she had shown me what I was doing wrong, and they began eating great. I was so happy.  It was totally worth letting a strange woman handle my Dairy Queens to get the babies eating better.

Then the twins’ temperatures and blood sugar levels suddenly plummeted, and Skeeter developed jaundice badly enough that he had to go under the blue lights.  

  
The pediatrician said that they weren’t getting enough to eat and that each time after they nursed, they had to drink 30 mL of formula as well.  

This didn’t phase me at first because I thought it was a one or two time stop gap procedure to get their sugars back up, and then it would stop.  Also, the twins were nursing so much better, I was feeling very positive about everything.

  
Sunday morning, I woke up realizing that the doctor was having them eat as much formula as they needed and not counting the nursing as any food at all.  If things kept up as they were, I definitely would not have enough milk to feed them, because they weren’t eating enough to signal my body that more was needed.  

Then at the next feeding, the twins were both really sluggish about eating until they got to the bottle, and then they sucked it down.  I realized they were starting to prefer the formula because bottles are easier to drink from. 

The pediatrician came in to let me know that we had to stay in the hospital anther 2 days at least because Skeeter’s jaundice wasn’t down enough and Zeke’s jaundice was rising.  He wanted the feedings to continue as they were, with formula every time.  Also, the twins were still having trouble staying warm.  He repeated several times that breast fed babies take longer to get over jaundice (I think this is total baloney, by the way) and that I shouldn’t feel bad if I couldn’t keep up with feeding 2 babies.  I asked him if I could start pumping milk to keep my supply up, and he sort of airily said, “Oh yes, if you want to.” And then he changed the subject.  

Clearly this doctor underestimated me.  I am not used to being underestimated.  I may have been a little slow figuring out what was going on, but I sure as heck was not going to be edged out of feeding my babies the way I know is best for them. 

After I called the DH and bawled my eyes out and told him to bring me my good Medela pump, I pulled myself together and shuffled myself down to the nursery to talk to the babies’ nurse.  

She instantly agreed that I could use the pump and we could feed the twins bottles of breast milk instead of formula.  “There is nothing magic about the formula,” she said.  “It is just easier for them to drink from a bottle, and for us to see what they are eating.”  

Now the eating schedule is:  Skeeter nurses for 20 minutes (so he  doesn’t forget how) and then drinks a 20-30 mL bottle of breast milk.  Then repeat for Zeke.  Then I set up the pump and fill up more bottles with whatever the twins didn’t eat.  

By myself the process takes two and a half hours, and I begin again in half an hour because they have to eat every 3 hours or less.  If I have a helper to feed the bottles, the feeding only takes one and a half to two hours and I get a whole hour break to rest before we begin again.  

I am happy to report that the Dairy Queens are totally keeping up with supplying 2 babies with milk .  Also, since he is exclusively on breast milk, Zeke’s  plumbing is working much better, which is exactly what he needed to happen to keep his jaundice level from getting too high. 

Take that, doctor.

I produce milk.  What’s your superpower?

Happy Mother’s Day 2014

11 May

20140510-193342.jpg

Today was Cherry Pie’s first time to give a talk for Sacrament Meeting, she being newly 12. I looked up several stories, scriptures, and quotes for her. She chose a story from our family history to share and the quote she wanted.

*********************************************************

Today is Mother’s Day. Today we remember and honor our Mothers. Our mothers give us life. They teach us the gospel. They feed us. They keep us from eating too much candy. They help us feel better when we are sad.

President Monson said: May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.

I would like to share with you a story about my great great great grandmother, Lucy Ann Bingham. Lucy Ann had 13 children. In the spring of 1908, her youngest child, Florence, who was 6 years old, became very sick with scarlet fever. Lucy’s husband was away. Her neighbors were so afraid, they passed by the house on the far side of the street. With humble faith and patient work, Lucy Ann nursed Florence back to health. But before Florence was quite well, her 12 year old daughter, Bertha became sick. For 2 whole weeks, Bertha’s fever burned at 106*F every day. The doctor said there was no hope. He told others in town that he did not know why or how the child was still alive.
Lucy Ann worked and fasted and prayed. Bertha asked for a priesthood blessing, but the family was quarantined and no elders would come. After 2 weeks, suddenly Lucy Ann could tell that her daughter was dying. She gathered her children together around Bertha’s bed and prayed, “Heavenly Father give us wisdom to know what to do, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Just then, she heard out in the street, one man call to another. She went out and called to them, “My daughter is dying, are you afraid to come in and administer to her?” The 2 men left their horses in the street, came in, washed their hands, knelt by Bertha’s bed and anointed her with oil. Before they had finished the blessing, Bertha’s eyes were closed in peaceful sleep and her fever was gone. Lucy Ann’s prayers and the prayers of her children had been answered.

Later, Lucy Ann’s daughter wrote:
Mother’s hopes were high; that we, her children, would always remember and do the things she taught us, by her life, her words, and especially her deeds.
“Are there any sick among you?” She was there.
“Are you burdened with sorrow or shame?” a touch of her toil worn hand or words of encouragement she gave with a smile. Honor the Lord’s anointed. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy! If you cannot say anything good of people, say nothing at all. But if you look you will find good. Remember a tenth of your earnings belong to the Lord. These are words of our Savior, but they came to us from our mother’s lips.

I think all of our mothers have the same hope that we will remember and do the things they teach us and that we will obey the Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Family Night Fun

23 Jan

20140123-105527.jpg

This is our new Family Home Evening job rotation chart.

I made it. *self-satisfied smirk*

I am so proud of it and it WORKS!

We have a special night each Monday where we get together and sing a couple songs, have a short spiritual lesson/devotional, eat a treat, and play games together.

At least that has always been the goal, but it didn’t happen regularly enough.

Then I made the job chart. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. There were many beautiful, trendy charts pictured. Some were even a free printable download. But they had two problems:

1- usually they only had 4 jobs, some had as many as 6, but I needed 8.

2- my children who are not old enough to read wouldn’t be able to tell what their job was.

Then I stumbled across a picture where the family had hand drawn bodies for each job and then everyone made a self portrait head. The heads rotated from body to body each week.

I drew this one– tracing some to make the bodies more uniform. Then I gave each person an oval to draw their face in. I mounted the ovals on card stock and Popsicle sticks to make them easy to handle. The chart is mounted on a Manila file folder. I used a mat knife to cut slits through the folder at each neck.

I love this chart because:

1: the kiddie pies are so excited about it that we haven’t missed a family home evening in 4 months, except the Monday is was in hospital with the new baby. In fact, Key Lime Pie gets upset because she wants to have family night more often.

2: The ones who can’t read can look at the bodies and know what their job is.

3. it looks like something my mom or aunt would have made back before there were computers and free printables online for everything. Back when you had to make stuff yourself.

4. it is hilarious when Blueberry Pie or The Man of the House is in charge of the song, and their head is on the body with the necklace.

5. The self-portraits are awesome. Key Lime Pie’s face is purple because she insisted on coloring the blood that is under her skin.

6. did i mention that I made it?

I had scanned my body drawings and made a PDF for anyone else who wanted to use it, but that file is trapped in my dead computer, so if you love this idea you’ll just have to make it yourself like I did. It’s worth it!

20140123-105747.jpg