Tuesday, August 31, 2010

sick 'n tired of being sick 'n tired

i have nothing profound to say tonight. 
except that i'm sick 'n tired of being sick 'n tired.

i think i am getting over this mess.  i had no idea that a sinus infection could just knock a person out cold.  the frustrating thing is that i have been sick since wednesday.  wednesday.  it is now tuesday night.  i didn't start really believing i was sick until monday.  monday.  do you have any idea how upset i am at myself?  why can't i listen to myself?  why can't i listen to my body?  why can't i trust my body when it says, "jill, if walking up your stairs is an effort, and if you wake up in the morning and your eyes are glued shut, if your head feels like it's going to explode, and if you feel like you are walking through a pit of sludge, something is wrong.  lie down.  be quiet.  cancel your appointments.  rest."  why didn't i listen to myself?  that's the frustrating thing.  i don't like being sick, of course--but the thing i really hate is that i didn't listen to myself.  i thought i was doing better with that.
apparently not.

it is now 10:13 p.m.  that little voice in my head is now yelling quite loudly, "GO TO BED!!!" 

i think i might listen to her tonight.  she seems to know what she is talking about.

good night, friends, and stay tuned for a post on how the month of journaling went...and what next month's mindfulness project will be. 
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary offer to homeschool families. Receive a one-year print subscription for just $7.95 or a one-year plus current issue subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.

Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31 through midnight on September 15.

Once the 5000 are gone, they're gone!

Hurry here to grab this crazy price today!

Blog Walk

Here's a new week of TOS Homeschool Crew blog walkin'....

1. Creative Learners
2. The Homeschool Desk
3. Ramblin' Roads
4. The Stewards Steno
5. Mama Manuscripts
6. Train Up a Child
7. We Love to Homeschool
8. Day by Day in Our World
9. Acorns - or Homeschooling Nuggets of Gold
10. The Berry Patch

Monday, August 30, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew Review--Peterson-Directed Handwriting

Amélie has been begging me to learn cursive since we pulled her out of public school last January.  When she learned how to write her name in cursive she was so incredibly proud of herself that she showed everyone--and I mean everyone!--how she could write her name.  We pulled back from her previous handwriting program to give Peterson Directed Handwriting a try, and we both certainly learned some valuable knowledge about cursive writing along the way.

Peterson Directed Handwriting is a unique handwriting program whose motto is "The difference is rhythm!"  Instead of sitting right down with a pencil and paper, this program focuses on the entire process of writing and utilizes finger-tracing rather than pencil-tracing in order to imprint the letters in the student's muscle memory.  There are four steps in this process:
  1. Demonstrate First--Illustrate and Describe
    This foundational step helps the student learn how to make the strokes.  To make this step even more helpful, Peterson offers animated letter cards.
  2. Make the Voice-to-Movement Connection--Air Writing
    By connecting a word or phrase with the correct letter movement, the child is better able to remember how to make the letter.  The animated letter cards are also useful in this step.
  3. Help the Child Do the Finger-Tracing
    This is a critical step which helps the child connect his brain skills with his motor skills.  I was a little leery of the idea of completely abandoning pencil-tracing and only doing finger-tracing, but this presentation helped me better understand the science behind the concept.
  4. Write and Say
    After steps 1-3 are mastered, the student is finally ready to put lead to paper as she vocalizes the strokes and forms the letters. 
There are definitely several things I like about this program.  Even though the website is a bit confusing, the customer service is exceptional, and any questions a customer may have are answered thoroughly and courteously.  I also really like it that customers can view the product before deciding to purchase it.  You can go here to check out the different handwriting levels and decide which one would be the right fit for you.  Then, if you decide you want to use the program you can go here to buy!  Each workbook is reasonably priced at $19.95.

I also really like the way that the program is research-based.  Many handwriting programs provide colorful worksheets and "look" like they will be useful in teaching children how to write, but Peterson explains the science behind their method and offers plenty of convincing evidence to back it up.  You can go here to check out some of that evidence.  I know I was impressed!

Although the perks to this program are many, I had several concerns when using this product.  As a busy homeschooling mom, I want to be able to open a book, clearly see what the lesson is going to be for the day/week, and then jump right in.  It took me a long time of flipping pages back and forth and a good deal of trial and error and confusion before I started to figure out how we were going to pursue this handwriting method. 

I also have a hard time with the concept of e-books for textbooks. I printed everything off, and then I had to 3-hole-punch the pages and put them in notebooks. I prefer to have all of that done for me ahead of time. ;) However, one advantage to the product being downloadable is that you can buy it and then instantly begin using the program. You can also print off additional sheets for extra practice, and since the book is non-consumable, you can easily use this product with additional children, thus saving you a considerable sum of money.

I think the main difficulty we had with this program, though, is that Amélie had already begun learning her letters with a different handwriting curriculum, and taking a break from her usual program to try to teach her both a new way to learn her letters and a different cursive style was frustrating for her.  I think that Peterson Handwriting would work best for those families who are just starting to teach their students print and/or cursive. 

While the Peterson Handwriting Program may not be the best fit for us, I was impressed with the product and would definitely recommend that other homeschooling parents consider this company for their handwriting curriculum.

Some of my fellow Crew members have also used this program.  If you want to see their reviews and see how the program worked for them, you can do so here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product for my honest evaluation. I was given no other compensation for this review.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

a mixed-up post on dying and living and buying hamburgers for hungry people

This has been a...................week.

Last Friday, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two of my nieces were in a wreck.  An icky wreck.  A scary wreck.  A wreck that involved broken bones and concussions and a life flight helicopter ride to Wesley Hospital in Wichita.  We are ever-so-thankful that, though they are battered and bruised (both physically and emotionally), they are all going to be OK. 

The thing is--I love my family, and I would like to have them around me for a long, long time.

It seems like death and near-death have been hovering over us a bit too closely lately.  A couple of weeks ago my aunt died, and while I hadn't seen her in several years, she was my grandma's older sister, and she looked a little too much like my grandma lying there in that casket. 

I can't even go to that place..........
I love my grandparents so much.  They can't ever die.
So there.

And then that same week I had two friends whose grandmothers passed away.

And another friend lost her mom.

And then the scary wreck was last week.

And then two days ago two of my grandparents' best friends died in a car crash. 

I don't like to be reminded of death.  Sometimes Jack freaks me out when he talks about death.  Here's a conversation we had yesterday (when, it should be noted, I was smitten with a sinus headache, was lying on the couch with a blanket over my head, and there is a small chance I could have muttered that I thought I was dying.  I can't exactly remember):

Jack: Mama, are you died?
Me: No.
Jack: Are you dying Mama?
Me (this is when I start to worry that he has some sort of 6th sense about things): No.
Jack: Is Daddy dying you, Mama?
Me: No (although, now that I think about it, was there a bit of a medicinal taste in my blueberry smoothie?  Did my coffee wash down with a bitter aftertaste?  I don't think so.  I'm pretty sure Matt doesn't want to kill me).
Jack: Am I dying, Mama?
Me: No.

Then, he went over to a toy of his sister's, promptly ruined it, and the words that (I kid you not) came out of my mouth were, "Your sister is going to kill you."


Inside I was cringing.  And laughing a tiny bit.  And perhaps crying a bit, too.

Dying scares me.  I know I'm not supposed to be afraid of death.  On a technical, theological level, I'm not.  But in real life, I'm scared to death....of death.  I don't want to die, and I don't want anyone else I love to die either.  I get so scared sometimes that my kids or husband or other family member is going to be taken away from me, or that I am going to be taken away from them.  Sometimes, I really start to obsess about this.  Sometimes, I make myself nearly crazy.  It doesn't help that I still have flashbacks from the day that Jack fell backwards off of our porch, which knocked him out and fractured his skull.  As he lay on the ground staring blankly up at the sky, I thought he was dead.  And as I sit here writing this, I still start to cry.  I will never, ever get over that moment.  And I will forever follow him around with outstretched arms to catch him...just in case he falls again.  But always, in the back of my fearful mind, I know that my arms may not be there to catch him the next time he falls.  Or the next time Amelie hangs upside down on the monkey bars.  Or the next time Matt drives his motorcycle.  Or the next time I strap my kids in and merge onto the highway.

I used to not care so much.  It used to be that eros and thanatos, the death instinct and the life instinct, kind of fought for dominance inside of me.  I remember weighing 95 lbs, struggling with an eating disorder, and having my therapist ask me rather incredulously, "You do know you are killing yourself, don't you?"  Well yes, in fact, I did know that.  And somehow I didn't care.  And then there were some really difficult grad school days, and there was a hospital stay, and it was at that time that that scrappy life instinct, eros, start fighting a little bit harder than that destructive instinct, thanatos. 

And today I hang onto that life instinct for dear life.  I don't want to let it go.  Sometimes I want to lock my family into a giant bubble where I can keep an eye on them with 24-hour surveillance.  I would feed them only the best, purest foods.  I would train them in self-defense.  If they left the bubble I would outfit them in protective gear worthy of a riot, a flood, a war, and any other natural or man-made disaster. 

I should probably stop now, huh?  ;)

I am going to end with something happy and positive and worthy of whipped cream and sprinkles: Matt just went out to buy me some sinus medicine, and when he came back he said, "Honey, I'm home!  But I'm kind of late.  I sort of met a guy."  I stopped typing, looked up at him, and waited for the story.  I wasn't surprised, really. He's always "meeting a guy."  So he had met this guy.  His house had been broken into.  He had no food.  He wanted cash.  Matt had none.  So he took him out and bought a meal for him, his wife, and his daughter, with enough leftover for his daughter to take to school tomorrow.  There are those of you who think that this guy just asked Matt for money because he wanted money for cigarettes or beer.  And you know what?  You could be right.  But Jesus, talking about dividing up his true followers from the false ones, said, "I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was naked, and you clothed me."  He didn't say, "I was hungry, but you made sure you checked my tax form before you fed me.  I was thirsty, but you made sure I didn't have beer-breath first.  I was naked, but you checked first to see how long I had been living on a government stipend." 
Tonight, I'm going to hang onto this story.  This example of the life-instinct, this example of love for a fellow human being, which, when it comes down to it, is all that really matters anyway.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Online Schoolhouse Expo!

It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.
Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

If you cannot make the Live event, then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

You can click here for more information!

Disclaimer: I am receiving free Expo-to-Go tickets in exchange for this post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner

I have a confession to make.

As many of you know, I am reviewing homeschooling materials for The Old Schoolhouse.  A few days ago there was a post on the TOS message boards asking for a little help selling their Schoolhouse Planners

I was intrigued (I am, after all, a sucker for anything smacking of an organizational tool), but I brushed the thought aside.  I was trying to sprint towards the end of our first homeschooling week, and I was r...u...n...n...i...n...g...o...u...t...o...f...s...t...e...a...m...................
I was tired.  Just the thought of hitting the download button was just about more than I could take.  And, as you know, I'm not exactly living the life of serenity and organization right now (remember, my dining room table is currently in my living room and my refrigerator is hanging out in my dining room).  Of course, what this means is that I probably need the planner, right?  Yes, well, I wasn't exactly thinking logically at the moment.

Then the weekend happened.  We painted the kitchen.  It was Sunday evening.  I was basking in the glow of my vintage yellow kitchen walls and thinking that, perhaps, all was right with the world. I spent a little time curled up in my favorite chair perusing some of the blogs on the blogwalk.  And then it happened.  I read some of the posts about this planner from my fellow reviewers, and I thought, "OH NO!  WHAT HAVE I DONE?????"  I had let a wonderful opportunity slip through my fingers.  The deadline had passed.  I had missed my chance.  Period.  Then, yesterday morning Heidi sent out another message announcing that she had extended the deadline.  This, my friends, is unheard of.  This, my friends, was a providential message that I should email her that very second and ask if I could download the planner, bury myself in its pages, and then write an advertisement for the planner by Wednesday morning.  She complied. 
And here I am.

Last night, I printed the planner.  I sat in front of my printer like a small child waiting for her gift from Santa.  Last week, I was convinced that the label-maker would change my life.  Now I know better.  It's The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner that will change my life.


At first, I was intimidated by its bulk--all 614 pages of it.  But once I read and skimmed and flipped through pages, I realized that it was 614 pages of pure organizational bliss.

I can organize my school days.............

I can organize my life....................

And you know what?
You can organize your school days (and your life!) too!

Should you decide to make the (very wise) leap into buying this planner for

you will gain access to monthly articles specifically tailored to homeschooling families, including such titles as "Top Five Tips for Managing Your Homeschool While Managing Your Home," "Brain Power: Food for Better Thought," and "The Heart and Soul of Creative Writing." 

You will also find a plethora of educational information, curriculum forms, and planning sheets.

Do you need help setting goals for your homeschooling year?

This planner is for you.

Do you need help creating your homeschooling plans?

This planner is for you.

Do you need help creating a schedule for you and your children?

This planner is for you.

Do you need help keeping track of library books, home repair projects, menu plans, and the phone number of your favorite plumber?

This planner is for you.

And, because this planner is for you, you should head on over to the TOS store right this very second and choose either the downloadable ebook for $39.00 or the Schoolhouse Planner on CD for $44.00.

Disclaimer: I am an independent contractor for TOS, and I have used the product represented in my post in order to write this advertisement.

Saturday, August 14, 2010



That's how I feel!


I have this deep need for order, yet I struggle with keeping things orderly.  I owe people emails.  I am reading WAY too many books at once.  I need to organize my doula materials.  I need to better organize my homeschooling materials.  I need to get rid of stuff.  I need to make a clean sweep of clutter.  I need to get this crazy kitchen finished so that I can move my dining room table out of my living room and my refrigerator out of my dining room. 
Last night a friend and I were chatting over Facebook, and we had the most hilarious conversation.  We were both laughing so hard--she in Alabama and me in Kansas--that we had tears.  She was extolling the wonders of sheet protectors and dry erase markers.  I announced that we had bought a label-maker and that it was going to change my life.  We both admitted that we had a horrible weakness for organizational products.  Then we both realized that if anyone ever secretly logged into our facebook accounts and read through that chat they would think we were absolutely CRAZY.  But that's OK.  Crazy's good (in orderly sort of proportions).  :)

We did pick out paint for the kitchen today, which was an event of astronomical proportions.  I really wanted a red kitchen.  Our kitchen in Wichita was red, but it was much bigge,r and our cabinets were white. We now have mahogany cabinets and black granite counter tops.  Red just didn't work.  So after making a trip to Lowe's and returning with 4 cans of paint (we had a purple, two orange-ish colors, and yellow), we decided on Vintage Yellow.  Now we just need to actually paint!  And then put in a backsplash.  And then put in a new floor. 
It's going to come together.  It's all going to work out.  And then I'm going to have a beautiful kitchen.
Right?  Right?  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight???????

Of course that will happen.  Silly, melancholy me. 

My last real post was about August being the month of journaling in my mindfulness project.  I am happy to report that I have journaled and/or done morning pages every day this month so far except one (and I have yet to journal today--does blogging count?).  I wanted to keep up better with my blog and write about journaling, but that sort of seemed...redundant in a way.  Plus, I'm spending a lot of time writing--I haven't had time to actually blog!

It's interesting, b/c while this journaling practice has been good for me, and while I am enjoying it, I notice that my previous journal entries, even though they were written once a week or so, were really much deeper and more profound before I started this project.  Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with the project.  I think it's my kitchen's fault.  A proverb I have invented for this month is, "he (or she) who does not have a fully functioning kitchen does not have the fluid, creative brain-space needed for meaningful journal entries."  Or meaningful blog entries either, it seems.
It's driving me crazy, though.
I feel a bit like my brain has turned mucky. 
It's making me a wee bit cranky.
So if you want to come over to see my discombobulated kitchen (and observe it as a metaphor of my discombobulated life), you might want to call first.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Mindfulness Project Month 1: Journaling

I am so behind.  In my blogging.  In my life.  Everything.

However, today is August 1, and I am starting my first month of The Mindfulness Project.  This month's task is to journal every day.  I have become much  more consistent at journaling lately, but I would like to really make it a habit.  I am very much looking forward to allowing my journaling to become a priority and not letting it get stuck at the bottom of my to-do list.

I am supplementing my jouraling by reading The Artist's Way.  That is a book that is going to take me much longer than a month to complete, but I am also very excited to go through this book.  I tried going through the process of the book once before, but I couldn't do it perfectly, so I quit.  A couple of weeks ago, someone suggested to me that I go through The Artist's Way, but that I not do it perfectly.  What a novel idea!  I think I might be able to do that!

I would write more, but I have not yet journaled today, so Matt and I are going to sit on the porch with a beverage and our journals.  Sounds lovely, no?