Monday, November 18, 2013

Timelines and Family Genealogy (Weaver Volume One, Unit 3, Chapter 4)

I was a little sad to wrap up Chapter 4 a little over a week ago. It's shocking, actually. When I first looked over the material, I told Bill I wanted to just skip the whole chapter because it sounded like a big waste of time. I like to go into detail with lessons, and the thought of trying to put all of world's history into timeline format, and then present it over a two to three week period sounded impossible. Bible, US, world, and family timeline all in one chapter? How is that even possible? I looked up Weaver reviews online and realized that this is the chapter when a lot of families abandon Weaver over the same feelings I was having. Families were frustrated at trying to breeze through US history in just a couple weeks. (US History is covered in detail in Volume Two of Weaver, if I understand correctly.) Bill looked over the material and had no idea why I was so against this chapter. He said that it should be the easiest unit yet. I was basically teaching them the concept of time, and that history is a record of events on a timeline. I was still unsure of this unit, but liked the idea of the Family memory book in the lesson plans, so I decided not to skip Chapter 4 after all. It ended up being one of my favorite units so far.

For this unit, I bought two used books online with great reviews. One of them is Adams Synchronological Chart or Map of History.

 I was shocked when this one arrived on my doorstep. It's HUMONGOUS. I love it, love it, love it. The pages fold out accordion style- up to 25 feet. You can also flip through it like a book, and only fold out pages you want to look at.  It is so very detailed- it's really awesome to see events of the Bible on a timeline like this. I sometimes run Old Testament stories in my mind back to back, forgetting that hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years separate events.

I also bought a world history timeline book, The Wall Chart of World History published by Barnes and Noble. It folds out accordion style also. 

The kids loved filling in dates on the Biblical timeline. We plan to keep up with it throughout their Bible lessons, adding to it as we go along in their school years.

We also started a US history timeline. We mainly studied the Mayflower voyage, George Washington's life, the writing of the Constitution, and the history of the Star Spangled Banner. The point wasn't to give a detailed US history, but to give the concept that certain events in time built our country.

My mom's hobby is genealogy, so she went over family history with them during an overnight stay, including stories passed down through the generations. Creative writing revolved around their own memories of childhood, and why their family is special to them. Final copies will be put into a binder (I haven't actually got around to do that yet.) We had fun looking through their baby scrapbooks, teaching them that they have their own history. Bible lessons pointed to God's plan for mankind that He is carrying to completion. 

I have to confess- usually when I read verses in the Bible with genealogy, I tend to gloss over long names I can't pronounce and quickly move on. This chapter forced me to look at those names and realize that family is important to God-He felt it necessary to have those names included in His Word. I am really glad Bill talked me out of skipping this unit!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sound and Language Unit Wrap up: Weaver Volume One, Unit Two

So we've been living and tweaking this homeschooling lifestyle for several more weeks now. It is hard, and time consuming, and sometimes messy. And yet, I have zero regrets of pulling my children out of the public system. Homeschooling has been incredibly rewarding, and our unity as a family has soared. I am more patient- not perfect - but God in His grace has equipped me to work this life for our family. There are times I forget, and freeze in a panic over the sheer responsibility of it all- but when I go to Him in prayer and ask for His peace, He always delivers. 

In my last homeschooling post, we had just completed our first week in Unit Two of Weaver's Volume One. For the remainder of our Sound and Language unit, one of the science topics I taught was the anatomy and physiology of the ear. Considering my former career as a Physician Assistant, I was tucked inside my cozy element. My five year old can recite to you the anatomy of the outer, middle, and inner ear, and my heart just melts in joy. My kids are in for a blast when we get to the human body unit! I'm a tiny bit nerd obsessed with all things medical.

We also covered how sound works, and took a crazy fun field trip to the Clay Center in Charleston, WV. Their children's museum has an entire exhibit on light and sound, and we were able to expand so much of our unit in just a couple hours. The pictures would have been amazing from that trip. However- I left my camera at home, and my phone with all my pictures was killed in coffee. Still in mourning, as you can tell.

We took another field trip during this unit to the Pittsburgh Zoo. It was perfect weather with no crowds at all. We had learned about animals with ultrasonic and infrasonic hearing, so I was able to tie it all in during the trip.

I can't remember what animal Lydia was so excited about. Three year olds inside zoos are the most fun ever.

She was telling me how small, cute, and tiny those baby lions were. Yes, those grown, male African lions over there. Every giant, ferocious animal we saw was so tiny and cute to her.

Madeline hugging the statue boy, pretending he was her prince. 

Lydia finally braved the big slide this time. "I did it!"

 Our verse of the week was from James- "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" James 3:5 Our Bible lessons also covered how our words are to bring praise to God, and we are to let our lights shine for Him in the darkness. We learned how feelings can be communicated without any words, and played a game to illustrate. 

 Isaac demonstrating anger. Can't you tell?

Brooke demonstrating happy. I was really trying to hold it together during this game. 

And this is Madeline communicating anger. 

Lydia was just happy to be there.

Isaac yelling out his guesses of the crystal clear emotions written on his sisters' faces. 

Lydia loves doing her schoolwork now. Her material is Horizons Preschool for Threes Workbook. It's completely voluntary on her part. I encourage her when she wants to participate, and I put it away when she doesn't want to.  

I sold Discovery Toys several years ago, and this is a math game I bought back then.They love playing it.

Bill's recent birthday celebration. Love this man.

I have so many friends and family tell me what an awesome thing it is we are doing, but they could never do it- usually saying they lack the needed patience. If only they could peek inside my imperfect, often fear-stricken brain! If God's calling your family to homeschooling, and you say to yourself that you can't do it, just look at who God called in His Word. He didn't call those who had all the answers and a plan from the beginning. He raised up a scrawny shepherd kid to become King of Israel, a scared man with a speech impediment to lead His children out of captivity, a young girl of no significance by world's standards to mother the Son of God. He equips those He calls. I'm telling you- when God calls you, it is so safe to follow where He leads. Steps of faith bring huge reward. Whatever He is calling you to do, say yes to Him! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do You Want To See My Wonderful Day? Part 2

Smiling when walking outside of a doctor's office is always a good feeling. It turns out that Lydia has put on some weight lately! Last December Lydia weighed 24 pounds. That's the last time her medication was increased. She was seen over the summer, but her dosage was still in therapeutic range for her weight, so no changes were made. Today, she weighed 32 pounds. An eight pound difference is pretty significant when you only weigh 32 pounds! 

So needless to say, her medication was increased today. Hopefully it will be as simple a fix as that. There's a tiny chance though that it won't be that simple- the seizures she's having now are a little different than the seizures she had a year and a half ago. In 2011 and 2012, she had blank stares lasting several seconds, and no confusion afterwards. She bypassed a brain MRI because that type of seizure is classic for absence type, plus her EEG at the time pointed to generalized seizure activity. (Basically- there wasn't a worry for brain tumors because the entire brain was seizing at one time. The seizure itself didn't start out in one particular spot. So no brain scans were ordered.) Recently though, she has had a few seconds of confusion following the "longer" seizures, which is not consistent with absence type. If the increased dose doesn't stop the new seizures, she'll have an MRI just as a precaution. I highly doubt that will be the case, but I've been wrong before!

The neurologist is so great at reassuring me. Her attitude is, "Yeah- she has epilepsy. But she takes medication with very little side effects, and she can live a normal life." I know this in my head, but it feels good to have the specialist tell it to me straight like that. Lydia may have epilepsy well into her teen years, or even beyond- but our girl is one of the very fortunate kids living with epilepsy. And we are incredibly thankful.

Another thing the neurologist is awesome at: tough love. Lydia wasn't cooperating during the exam- she refused to walk on her tiptoes, hold out her arms, etc. The neurologist kept warning her that there would be no prize from the treasure box if she didn't cooperate. Lydia called her bluff. Only- it wasn't a bluff. Lydia walked out to the car with no prize, per doctor's orders. Yay for someone brave enough to not reward bad behavior inside her office! Isaac did get a prize, but he was sad for his little sister. He told me in the car that he wished Lydia had listened to the doctor so she could have had a prize too. (Best big brother ever, that boy!) Lydia has already said twice she wants to listen to the doctor and get stickers. I heart tough love!

So once again, thank you all so much for the prayers! God is so faithful!!! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Do You Want To See My Wonderful Day?

We were sitting in the car yesterday, and Lydia's favorite Disney Junior show came on the satellite tv. She always sings the theme song and it's the most adorable thing you've ever heard. When she didn't start to sing, I looked back at her and asked what show was coming on. Then I realized why she wasn't singing. She was blankly staring to the side, and I felt my heart sink. It was several more seconds talking to her, waiting for the seizure to end before she finally came out of it and heard my voice. She paused and looked up at me, then heard the tv and started smiling and singing.

It had been a year and a half since I had to watch her go through these seizures. Her medication has worked so well, and if it weren't for the strict morning and night pill regimen, it would be easy to forget her epilepsy. We were only six months out from her two year mark when the neurologist could start titrating  her off the meds. I was so hopeful that God would heal her by then. We could put this whole nightmare behind us, and make epilepsy a distant memory. I told God how loud and how high I would praise His name and testify of His healing in her life.

After a recent growth spurt, Lydia started to seem less focused, and I wondered. I prayed it not to be true, and held on to hope. Last week at the dinner table, we opened our eyes from prayer, and Lydia had that old familiar stare. I had to say her name four times over before she came out of it and looked at me. I knew then I couldn't question it anymore. And it was so sad.

I have no doubt that He can heal her. But setbacks sometimes make me wonder if hope hurts more than it helps. That if I just accept that this is the way things are, the disappointment will hurt less. We've prayed over allergy tests that still come back positive, EEGs that show abnormal brain waves, asthma symptoms that still cause scary attacks at 3am.

Then God reminds me again of His faithfulness. I'm closer to Him now than ever before. Our family was thrust into a torrent of fear and helplessness three years ago, and it was more than we could handle on our own. Jesus was there to hold us up, and it was in the darkest of days that I have felt Him the closest. Jesus doesn't ask us to sit safely on the beach, building our pretty sand castles. He wants us to walk out to Him in the deepest of waters, to believe with unwavering trust. It's where our feet can't reach the bottom that faith is made stronger.

Lydia crawled into our bed early this morning, snuggling up close to me. While I held her, praying through tears in the dark for her healing, Hillsong's Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) came over the radio. He reminded me again that He's with us in these deep waters. The future may be unknown, but He's proven that He won't fail. He keeps us above the waves, even when faith wavers.

And when Peter had come out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid;

and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

And immediately


Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him.  ~Matthew 14:29-31

This morning's sunrise. 

Lydia asked me over breakfast this morning, "Do you want to see my wonderful day?" My three year old's sweet words remind me again. He has given us this gift of a wonderful day, full of available joy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Speech is a Gift from God

Our new unit for the next two weeks is Speech and Language. I'm remembering again why I love Weaver, which is good timing. The last few days of unit one involved some burnout and second guessing of whether we chose the right material. I'm learning that this homeschooling thing- it's hard work. It's one thing to anticipate and talk about it for months on end, and a whole other thing to dig in and do it. So I guess it's safe to say that the honeymoon stage of homeschooling is over. There are problems that need worked out and frustrations being aired out. But, just like a good marriage, I'm realizing it's most definitely one of the best parenting decisions we've ever made. For one thing, there's no "one size fits all" education model I must follow. I can teach each child according to their own needs-  needs that I am figuring out more and more each school day. Brooke is awesome at science, a natural artist with perfect penmanship and beautiful cursive writing, and is working on reading comprehension. Madeline is a whiz at math and reading, moving along at lightening speed, but is easily frustrated when I challenge her because she's not used to making mistakes. Isaac is crazy good at math, and is becoming a reader before my eyes (so fun!), but he doesn't like buckling down and doing his worksheets, because "school is boring, playing is fun." Some of it is just part of life that he'll get used to soon enough.We do enough fun projects and experiments that half the time he doesn't even realize that he's learning. 

This Monday we learned that speech is a gift of God. The curriculum called for study of a foreign language in another country, and I chose Ghana. Our Compassion child is from Ghana, and I want them to learn more about his home. I had to laugh when I started researching and realized that English is their official language. There are several tribal languages though, so it all worked out for the curriculum correlation. We studied Ghana's political history, geography, economy, and wildlife. We talked about the day in the life of a Ghanian child, and practiced speaking a tribal language. They painted pictures of the Ghana flag, explaining what each color represented, and designed their own Kente cloth on cardstock. They then wrote letters and drew pictures for Japhate, our Compassion child

 Lydia coloring her African lion.

 Pretty girl. 

 Painting their flags.

 Red for the blood shed for their independence, yellow for their minerals including gold, green for their forests, and black star for freedom.

 Puppy begging for playtime.

 He's jealous of the kids and the attention I give them. It's kinda crazy.

 Designing Kente cloth.

 The princess playing on the computer before naptime.

 Isaac's lion.

 He's learning patterns in math this week.

On Tuesday we covered the anatomy and physiology of the ear, as well as sound waves. (They made a tin can phone but I forgot to take pictures.) We learned what absorbs and reflects sound, so of course they had to test it out in the foyer.

Today we looked at how immigration affects languages spoken in different regions of the US. We then learned about the deaf community and sign language. They wrote biographies on Helen Keller and practiced some sign language. By chance (or divine timing) this past Saturday, Brooke was able to meet and sign with an elderly couple who happened to be deaf. She hasn't stopped talking about meeting them, and how much fun it was to sign with them.
 Afternoon reading today.

 Have I mentioned homeschooling rocks?