Archive for August, 2013


The dress.

So you have to understand that I’ve made curtains. I’ve sewn pillows. I helped assemble quilt tops. I have altered clothing to various ends. I have never made a garment from scratch, and this garment has no pattern so I have to make that, also. Two firsts!

My nieces and Pynni in their Grammie Dresses.

My nieces and Pynni in their Grammie Dresses.

IMG_0822My mother is pro at making clothes so I have a great resource right there. My conundrum was that I really have no idea how to even start making a dress and I needed this particular project to be as easy as possible since I have several other parts I need to complete to make the whole costume.

So I asked questions that I thought would get me started and watched videos after I got some answers. Being a visual learner, videos clarify things spoken and written words confuse. I gathered some of Pynni’s tops and dresses that had a similar style to the Weeping Angel dress, and I found a bunch of blogs were cosplayers had documented their costume making. You can find the one I liked best here. Also, Pinterest was my friend.

I measured and measured and made notes and drew outlines on paper until I felt like I had the top part of the dress figured out. Some of the people who made the cosplay costumes made their dress in two pieces with a blouse type top and a skirt. I was wanting to make one piece. Also, cosplay costumes have to be worn for a whole day at once and maybe to multiple cons, and I only needed this costume to suffice for a night of trick-or-treating, and potentially, a Halloween party.

There were things I was going to take into account that maybe a cosplayer would not. Pynni is little and the dress can’t be too heavy. The dress can’t drag on the ground or be stiff because Pynni will get tired of wearing it if it’s too cumbersome (I do have experience with this. Picture me walking around holding Minecraft heads and pickaxes while my sons trick-or-treat in their street clothes. It happens every year. I’m bringing the wagon this year.) I was not going to try to make this costume a perfect replica. I’m trying to make my own version of a Weeping Angel because disappoint lies down the perfection path (this being my first garment and all).

I ended up having to make the top twice. When drawing the pattern out, I intended to cut the straps longer than the pattern in order to pin it to the correct length. I completely failed to do that once I started cutting and ended up sewing a top together that was too short in the armpits, which makes it too small everywhere else. So I had to do that twice.

Fabric all gathered.

Fabric all gathered.

Instead of making a blouse-y top and a skirt, I opted to gather material one time and attach it to the top I’d made, which is basically the yoke of the dress. The gathered material is 4 yards long and I don’t know if you’ve ever gathered material by hand, but it can be tricky. You sew along the edge with the longest stitch your machine can do, twice to make two parallel rows. Then, pulling either the bobbin threads or the top threads, but not both, you gently push the material toward one end of the length. You have to be super careful because the thread wants to break, and if it breaks you have to pull all the stitches and resew and start the gathering process all over. I had to restart once. In the end I was very proud of my gathers. I got my visual tutorial from this blog, The Crafty Cupboard.

Here you can see where the top and the skirt meet.

Here you can see where the top and the skirt meet.

Pynni practicing her Weeping Angel.

Pynni practicing her Weeping Angel.

I created the simple placket where the velcro was going to attach to the skirt and did the same on the top before pinning it all together and sewing everything into place.  I got it all tried on Pynni. Instead of sewing a hula hoop into the bottom hem of the skirt like the cosplayers did, I’m going to have Pynni wear a hoop petticoat.  So once I get her in the petticoat and the skirt, I’ll pin up the bottom for hemming. I’ll post a picture of that next time.

 

Wynni Penny Pie (or on this blog Pynni)

This post has been much harder to write than I thought it was going to be. For some reason, talking about Chi and any struggles we’ve had felt natural. I felt like talking about it helped me and may, in turn, help someone else. I’m struggling to view Pynni in this light.

For some reason, learning disorders feel so much more personal. It feels like it can change how people view you, how they treat you, how you view yourself.

Pynni made a comment to me the other day that hurt me to the core. She was skipping away from her school day and whirled around and smiled broadly at me and said, “I’m getting smarter and smarter!”

I said, “Babe, you’ve always been smart. You are learning more and more things.”

I said, “Reading has been hard for you, but that doesn’t make you not smart.”

She says, “Really?”

Oof. I thought I’d been pretty clear on how smart I thought she was, but SHE doesn’t view herself like that. I don’t want ANYONE to think she is any less smart than their over-achieving early readers because my sweet Wynni struggles in that area.

So there it is. Maybe, I’m the one with the issues. Reading was always very easy for me. I was one of those over-achieving early readers. I was like my oldest: big vocabulary, advanced reading level. Maybe, I’ve unknowingly judged people who didn’t read well and found them less smart than I. That’s changing right now.

Pynni was diagnosed with “Severe written language disorder” by the Speech Language Pathologist that Pieces sees for his speech therapy (I’ll call her SLP here). SWLD is characterized by difficulty sounding out phonemic words, letter reversals, omission and addition of phonemes, as well as, global errors, such as, reading words that are similar yet different (i.e. goes/gets, tale/tall, when/what).  SLP also noted that Pynni also demonstrated difficulty in the area of phonemic awareness in her attempts to sound out phonemic words. Such tasks often took greater than 10 seconds at which point the word was provided to her. She lacked confidence when decoding phonemic words and tended to guess a word if she did not recognize it, even after an attempt to decode it. Her fluency rate is negatively affecting her comprehension. She shows mild deficit in the area of phonemic awareness skills for encoding.

SLP noted that when Pynni was provided the word, she applied that knowledge to every recurrence of the word in the rest of the reading. Which is, apparently, not something many kids do when they are struggling with written language like she is.

There may be other components to this, and I’m prepared to find that there are other issues at play. Right now, though, this therapy is going to start addressing a large chunk of the issues Pynni has exhibited while reading.

We’ve only had two therapy sessions and a little bit of work to do at home, but I can see little bits of that natural self-confidence she has peaking out while she goes about her school work. There’s a lot of work do, yet, but little bits at a time seems to be what she needs.

 

Prepping for School

Prepping for School

We’ve officially started our school year. We’re actually about six weeks into it now. The last two years have seen a lot of fluctuation in our curricula for various reasons. So the following is where we are now, and will hopefully be for some time to come.

Language Arts: spelling, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary

  • All About Spelling by All About Learning Press: all three kids
  • All About Reading by All About Learning Press: Level 1 for Pieces and Level 2 for Pynni
  • Explode the Code by Nancy Hall: Level 2.5 for Pynni and Level 1.5 for Pieces (they will be moving up to 3 and 2 respectively in the near future)
  • Guinness Book of World Records Reading (comprehension): Chi
  • Reading Detective by Critical Thinking Co.: Chi
  • Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer: Pynni and Chi. Pieces will start when Pynni moves on to the next level.
  • First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise: all three kids
  • Vocabulit by Perfection Learning: Chi

Mathematics and Critical Thinking 

  • Math U See by Demme Learning: all three kids
  • Splash Math App by Study Pad Inc.: all three kids
  • Mathematical Reasoning by Critical Thinking Co.: all three kids
  • Time App by Study Pad Inc.: Pynni and Pieces
  • Money App by Study Pad Inc: all three kids
  • Building Thinking Skills by Critical Thinking Co.: all three kids

Extras: 

  • Handwriting Without Tears: all three kids with Pynni and Chi learning cursive
  • Snatch: a programming language for Chi
  • Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum: Pynni and Pieces (Chi has done all of Type to Learn 4 and Typing Instructor. He is at a point now where he just needs practice for typing fluency and speed. I have him type three or so sentences about his daily reading. This correlates well with his work in Writing with Ease.)
  • A History of US by Joy Hakim: all three kids
  • R.E.A.L Science Odyssey by Pandia Press: all three kids
  • Supercharged Science  by Aurora Lipper: all three kids
  • Which Way USA? and Top Secret Adventures by Highlights: all three kids (this helps cover basic geography on top of what they learn in their history curriculum)
  • Piano Adventures by Faber: all three kids

And that about does it for this school year so far. I’m pretty happy with how comprehensive our school day is and that it isn’t frustratingly long for all that. We do 12 workboxes four days a week and on the fifth day we do a math box, a reading box, history, science, and piano lessons.

We aren’t joining two of the homeschool groups we were a part of last school year at this time. One of them took up a big chunk of one day a week and I felt like we didn’t get as much covered as we otherwise would have had we been at home during those hours. It’s a great co-op type group, but it really meshes better with unschooling and not our super structured school days. The other group is good for finding out about all of the things going on in the area that might be relevant to homeschoolers, but it requires a small amount of time commitment dedicated to the group. That bit of time really hung heavy over my head last year and I want to try going without this time around. We may rejoin mid-year, but for now we only have the group we go to the park with on Fridays. If we get more covered, we may join the group that has Wednesday park days as well just for the break those days afford and the society they provide.

I should have a better handle on my Pynni update after today’s visit with the language specialist. For now, we’ve started therapy, but I do not have the official diagnoses just yet.

Weeping Angel as seen in the Doctor Who episode "The Time of Angels".

Weeping Angel as seen in the Doctor Who episode “The Time of Angels”.

This past holiday season, Pynni got all caught up on her Doctor Who episodes. She was enthralled by the episode The Angels Take Manhattan. As a Doctor Who fan, myself, I find that episode incredibly sad. I won’t post any spoilers here except to say that the bad guys are the Weeping Angels. Hoo-boy. Pynni loves her some Weeping Angels.

So she decides she wants to be a Weeping Angel for next Halloween, read: 2013. I say, “Sure!” Because I like making things, I’m pretty crafty, and I’D APPARENTLY LOST MY EVER-LOVING MIND.

Then, as the year progressed, Pieces says he wants to be The Doctor, but not 11. No, not the most easily identifiable one, what with the bow-tie (Bow-ties are cool!) and the occasional Fez (Fez’s are cool!). Nope, he wants to be 10. Which, let’s face it, 10 may be the best character ever to have graced the small screen, but his Doctor outfit isn’t especially… out-standing. But, whatever, man! I can do that!

Right around that time, Chi says he wants to be a Dalek.

“A Cyberman, you say?” I ask.

“No, a Dalek,” says he.

“Not the 11th Doctor with the bow-tie, which is cool?” says I.

“Ex-ter-min-ate!” he says, in the best robotic imitation.

Work space chaos.

Work space chaos.

Alright! Sure! No problem! I’m making a Weeping Angel and somehow cobbling together a 10th Doctor, in between I can definitely whip up a Dalek!

Right.

So the plan was to start making and make through the spare time I had during the summer. I look back, now and laugh. Spare time?!? HA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

The fabric I have the most of.

The fabric I have the most of.

About a week ago I started researching the costumes, gathering pictures and ideas and organizing my thoughts on the projects, in general. I realized that the Dalek was going to be a very involved costume if I was going to get Chi to wear it and that coupled with handmaking a Weeping Angel that will please Pynni was stressing me out.

So I got together a lot of pictures of different costume ideas for Chi to peruse, in the hopes that something would strike his fancy. I lucked out and he picked something both inexpensive, and already manufactured. So there’s that.

So now I have a pile of grey fabrics that don’t match because I couldn’t find enough of any one kind of cheap fabric. I’ve researched, measured, and drawn out the yoke that makes up the top of the WA’s dress using one of Pynni’s dresses for a guide. I have a general idea of what I need to do to make the draping of the dress happen.

These WILL be angel wings when I'm done. I think.

These WILL be angel wings when I’m done. I think.

I’ve scavenged a set of luna moth-like wings from Pynni to reform and redress to be statue-like angel wings and I’m digging through the recycling for all those discarded toilet paper rolls to use as the upper spine on the wings. I’m thinking about reshaping the wires of the wings and covering them with papier mache so they won’t be too heavy, but I may just drape them in left over fabric soaked in a stiffener and pin them and allow them to dry. I’m not sure yet.

Also, a wig. Weeping Angels have statue hair. So my plan is to crochet a beanie and then glue yarn to the beanie in the shape of Weeping Angel statue hair.

I just have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t need to be over-the-top as it will probably be worn once, maybe twice, if we go to a Homeschool Halloween party like we did last year.

Speaking of. I better go work on it some.

Mom's Kitty all the way.

Mom’s Kitty all the way.

I’ve talked about my kitties before. They’ve always been my best friends. Sebastian McAwesomepants came to live with me when I was 16 and passed away last October at the age of 21. It was much harder than I thought it would be considering his age.

Then there was Biggus Sithus aka Sith. He was more my baby than my friend. When we adopted him, we had two other cats (Aravis: 15 years old and Sebastian: 7 years old) and a dog (Grendel: 2 years old).

To explain the title, I have to go back in time a little bit. Grendel was a rescue. A friend of mine and I found litter of dumped puppies on the side of the highway. We brought them to my townhouse and shut them into the kitchen. After rounds of being told that if you rescue them they are yours, basically zero help from either the city or the Humane Society (in that it town should be called “The Extremely Rude Society of People Who Claim to be Humane so They can be Superior and Snarky”).

Anyway, after the “I have way too many dogs” snafu, my husband and I ended up with a new puppy. Our two cats were fine with this development. Sebastian, especially, seemed taken with Grendel. Sebastian had always been great with babies of many species (although not species of birds or reptiles or rodents. Those were for killing.). He helped raise a little litter of kittens in the past, and you’d never have seen a more gentle, patient adult dealing with little kids. The same was true of Sebastian with this puppy.

Grendel, at that time, was about the same size as Sebastian, who at a healthy weight for his stature, pushed 13 pounds. Sebastian would wrestle around with Grendel and let Grendel pin him. They would bat at each other, run, play, pounce, stalk; all in good fun. Sebastian never got aggressive with Grendel and never clawed Grendel or scratched him. Sebastian would groom Grendel and they would nap curled together. It was super cute.

This relationship resulted in Grendel thinking he was a cat. He ended up being about a 40 lb dog with the legs of a much smaller dog. He was never big, but he was very substantial. This dog would walk around on the backs of the furniture and try to perch in the window sills. He would groom the cats like he had a cat’s rough tongue. That mainly resulted in soggy cats, but Sebastian never seemed to mind. There were things Grendel did that were dog-like. He was after all, a dog.

Along came Sith.

Sith was itty bitty when we got him. Sebastian and Grendel liked him almost immediately. Aravis never did care for him, although the open animosity dwindled with time. Grendel took Sith to be his very own right away. Grendel carried Sith around in his mouth, and romped and played the way Sebastian taught him. They groomed one another, resulting in another soggy kitty, and they snuggled and napped together. They were like peas and carrots.

Sith hugging his pal Sebastian.

Sith hugging his pal Sebastian.

So there you see, Sith’s doggie surrogate thought himself to be a cat resulting in the awesomeness that was Sith: the cat who thought he was a dog, who thought he was a cat.

Sith and Sebastian BFFs

Sith and Sebastian BFFs

Sebastian and Sith became the best of buds after Grendel and Aravis were gone. They could almost always be found curled together somewhere sleeping.

Sith began a slow slide after Sebastian passed. He became very needy and clingy. He followed me around needing to be always in my company. He sat on me whenever I sat down. He started sleeping on top of me. He began to eat less. He stopped grooming.

I decided he needed a kitty pal, and that I was ready for another kitty four months or so after Sebastian died. We found a kitty and named her Sith’s Minion because that was her intended role. She made a great minion except for the small fact that Sith did not like her, not one little bit. She didn’t care, but he most assuredly did.

He started eating less.

I called the vet to have him checked over. His blood workup was fine. He was about as healthy as a 14 year old kitty can be, especially one with his severe allergies (he could eat only a very narrow selection of foods: chicken, mackerel, pumpkin. No grains of any kind, no other meats or fish. You try and find food that fits that criteria. Oh, and he didn’t like pumpkin.) But he had some infected teeth that needed to go. And by some, I mean almost all of them.

Sith home after surgery.

Sith home after surgery.

We chose to do the surgery. Dr. Vet did a follow-up blood draw to reassess organ function: still good, but a little worse than before. Nothing alarming; all within normal parameters. He came home a day later still oozing blood from his mouth, but he was happy to be home. He ate  and drank nothing for three days. I called the vet. She came to the house and gave Sith subcutaneous IV fluids to keep him from dehydrating while he healed. He acted like he felt better, but he still didn’t eat or drink and still was oozing blood-tinged saliva from his mouth. His right eye and right nostril started running, and after a couple of days of no bleeding, he suddenly started bleeding from the mouth again.

The vet came to get him to see what she could see and give him fluids until he could start eating again. She did a blood work up to assess organ function. She took xrays to see if there was something going on with the extraction sites. After nearly a week in Dr. Vet’s care, we went to the office to talk about Sith’s health.

The x-rays showed what Dr. Vet thought was a tumor behind his right sinuses. She felt that was the reason for the almost completely blind right eye, runny right nostril, and continued bleeding that she could not find the source of, as all of the extraction sites were healed. To top that off, he was in renal failure. The third blood draw showed significant deterioration from the second, post surgery draw, and that, she said should not have been the case even with the potential tumor and continued bleeding.

We had choices, she said. We could ignore the potential tumor, mainly because of it’s location and likelyhood of Sith not surviving surgery due to his age and now his kidneys’ condition. While ignoring the surgery, we could treat him for renal failure which requires a low protein diet and subcutaneous fluids every three days or so, meaning a vet tech visit a couple of times a week. My first thought was of Sith’s food allergies. They were severe and as hard as it was to find food he could eat, I couldn’t imagine there was anything out there that was low in protein that he would tolerate since most forms of protein and vegetable nutrition were not available to him. But, you know, I was willing to try.

Sith and Minion. Not quite snuggling.

Sith and Minion. Not quite snuggling.

Problem was. He still wasn’t eating or drinking. He acted like the food bowl was a vicious bully who was just waiting to poke him with knives if ever he opened his mouth near it. He literally jumped backward from the food bowl every time he wandered over there to eat. I had started feeding him with a syringe filled with watered down wet food paté. He HATED that, but at least it was something.

Another problem was the steep decline of his kidney function. It wasn’t slowly getting worse. It was rocketing downward at an alarming rate. Dr. Vet felt like the decline would continue, and rapidly. She felt like he had, with treatment, a month at most. A miserable month.

So I brought him home with the intention of keeping him with us for the three days before he’d need another IV influx and then letting him go with dignity.

So. Hard.

He was only 14! Sebo was 21. Aravis had been 20. I just assumed Biggus would be with me at least that long. I still can’t fathom that he’s gone. I still miss him, achingly.

Sith's last photo.

Sith’s last photo.

He came home, he purred the whole way in the car just snuggled up in my lap. Hubs and I slept on the couch with him that night because he was still oozing blood. He slept right next to me whenever we weren’t up dealing with his bleeding, which was quite a bit. At around midnight, Sith started pacing around in the kitchen and calling to us. I went in and gave him a bowl of his favorite food and he chowed down! First time in almost two weeks! I was ecstatic, over-joyed! And then the bleeding started. It was awful. In the end, he’d made a horrible, grotesque mess, and had eaten very little. I was beside myself with my selfishness. How could I DO this to this wonderful Super-fuzz who has never done anything but love me?

I called Dr. Vet near 2am to let her know I couldn’t watch him suffer like this for three days and that I’d call her in the morning with my decision.

The next morning, Sith was waiting in the kitchen with Minion for morning foods. So I fed him. Why not? Regardless of the mess, he wanted to eat and I wasn’t going to nay say him. There was no mess and he ate the whole bowl of food. He even tried to drink some water after. Then he got back on his pallet on the couch and began to groom himself. He hadn’t groomed himself since Sebastian died! I was so happy! I decided right then that I would do whatever I had to give him the best rest of his life that I could! The rest of the day was much the same. No blood and he at 5 separate times for a total of 3 oz of wet cat food.

I slept downstairs with him again, but it was a much quieter night.

The next morning he was waiting in the kitchen, again. Food, drink, groom. Again, everything seemed great. Then, while he was grooming, he collapsed. He went completely limp. His breathing was shallow and extremely slow. He didn’t respond to any stimuli. I gathered him to me and he stayed limp for almost 5 minutes. Five excruciating minutes. It took him fully a half hour to come completely back to himself. I knew, then, that yesterday had been an anomaly. A gift. A last day of Biggus being himself to hold on to tightly.

Dr. Vet came that day, just before the noon hour. She talked sweetly to my Sith as I held him close to myself. We talked about how this scrawny, black kitty had picked me when I went to get an orange tabby with orange eyes. We talked about how that kitty perched on my shoulder in the car on the way home with his paws tucked under his chest and purred while the world whizzed by. We talked about how that scrawny kitty could leap fully 4 feet into the air from a standstill to grab whatever you were teasing him with. We talked about how that scrawny kitty, who was sleek and black when we adopted him turned grey and a little fuzzy for a while before sprouting longer black hairs. He was very odd looking for a while before he became the Super-fuzz that was Sith. We talked about his great friendships with Grendel and then Sebastian and how Sebastian and Sith were such great buddies. We talked about how Sith would lick you like a dog and how he had zero catlike instincts. About the first time I let him outside after we bought our first house with the fenced in backyard, and he had not the foggiest what to do in the out of doors. We talked about how he walked the perimeter of the fence upright on his back legs, following the fence with this front paws. How he watched Sebo and Aravis eat grass and how he munched on some and then looked around, as if in disbelief, with grass sticking out of his mouth before he spit it out. I told the vet about the time we had a mouse in our kitchen, Sebastian was too old to care at the time, but Sith went in the kitchen and just watched. He never had any intention of hurting that mouse.

He was my favorite in the end.

He was my favorite in the end.

I told Dr. Vet about how much Sith loved to sit in my lap, but never wanted to be held. I told her the story of Sith and my Grandad and how Sith turned around so Grandad would be petting him head to tail. I told her how Sith opened cabinet doors and kitchen drawers and how he knocked on doors instead of scratching at them. I talked about this substantially sized cat with a tiny kitten’s voice.

I buried my fingers in his fur and pressed my nose to his head and told him I loved him the mostest.

And then he was gone.

It has taken me a long while to get all of this out. Sith passed away on June 6th. Losing Sebastian was hard, but losing Sith has left an abyss that even the adoption of two new kitties hasn’t been able to fill. I miss him so much.

All About Reading Success! AAR has help Pynni tremendously.

All About Reading Success! AAR has help Pynni tremendously.

I’ve documented the struggles I’ve had with Pynni in both math and mainly reading here on my blog, and those struggles have put her even further behind than she should be as she starts her 3rd grade year. On a much more positive note, she is flourishing and reading better and better and with more and more confidence. I can see, now that Pieces is reading, where the confidence deficit has really hurt her because she doesn’t try and read every word she comes across. Pieces tries to read every word he sees. He isn’t more advanced in his reading level, yet but, he is way more adventurous and less worried about getting a word wrong. Still, without Pieces as a gauge, she is doing much, much better. I’m so proud of her extra hard work and perseverance.

With that said, I still worry about her. When she writes, she still gets letters mixed up and backward. When she reads, it’s slow and painful. She often complains of her eyes hurting and headaches and being sick to her stomach. The complaining can seem, at times, to be a ploy to get to stop reading. It’s not a ploy and fall into, but I have been trying to teach her to take small breaks to give her eyes a rest. It doesn’t seem to help, but I think it makes her feel better that I’m listening to her problems and taking them seriously.

She is so smiley and happy and wonderful and then she has to read or write and she becomes something else. Not my Pie. She gets frustrated easily and will completely lose her shit during class. So I’ve been addressing that and trying my hardest not to get frustrated with her. I’m trying to teach her ways to help deal with debilitating frustration. I’ve given her leave to take mental health breaks. If she gets frustrated, or preferably, feels herself getting frustrated, then she can get up from the table and get a drink, take deep breaths, move on to something else for a bit, go upstairs to the quiet of her room and cry if she needs to. Of course, part of learning to deal with frustration is also to learn when the breaks need to be over and what sorts of things are acceptable during school to alleviate frustration. Hint: Getting online to play a game or chat with your friends are not acceptable.

But all of this seems to be dealing with symptoms only. It’s reactionary and I like to be proactive so I’ve done some reading; research, if you will. I’m going to have her assessed for dyslexia or some other reading/writing delay (dysgraphia?). I HOPE that an answer will be found here. I don’t WANT her to be dyslexic, but I do want strategies to deal with her difficulties. I DO want to help make her learning experience less frustrating. She may not ever LOVE reading, and as an avid reader I really struggle with that, but I would love to make school less odious for her.

Then this happened:

My kids read independently for a set period of time every day. Chi will read for pleasure outside of this set time period, but the two littles haven’t found that love for reading, yet. I decided to take them to the library. I’m not sure why it’s always the last thing I think of when talking and thinking about reading, but there you are. So, I took them to the library. Chi has a ton of books at home that he’s working through (have I mentioned I’m an avid reader?) and rarely wants to go to the library. Pieces and Pynni LOVE the library. I told them to get 7 books in their reading level. They ended up get 8 or 9 a piece and they were SOOPER excited to get home and start reading.

I would find both Pieces and Pynni reading outside the allotted time for the next week or so. It made me smile. Pynni told me she didn’t like reading unless it was a book she picked out. This was after asking the week before if she could just skip learning to read altogether. So progress, I think.

Anyway, I’m still having her tested. The issues she has are too consistent and too pervasive to ignore. I’ll keep you posted.

Things. Stuff.

Things. Stuff.

That’s all I’m going to say right now. Stuff and Things have happened; have been going on. I’m hoping to turn stuff and things into some posts. There are updates needed, I know.

Onward!

While we officially started our new school year in mid June, we didn’t really kick it into high gear until last week. This is our third year of school here at Lamp Post Academy. Chi is moving into the 6th grade, Pynni is starting on 3rd grade and Pieces is charging through 1st grade.

**Side Rant**

As a homeschooler, I really dislike this need for every kid to fit into a specific grade category. I get why it’s a thing for kids in public school, but here at home? We do whatever level we need to be doing. If Chi is struggling with a math concept, we will back up and take a harder look at it. If that doesn’t help, I will find a different resource to help explain the concept to him in a different manner. We will work on it as long as we need to. If a reading curriculum isn’t working for Pynni, I can switch it, but that generally means backing up to learn how that curriculum introduces concepts or explains them. What terminology they use for concepts.

So we end up, with Chi for example, being in early 5th grade in math, but 8th grade in grammar, and 11th grade in vocabulary and reading comprehension. He couldn’t write his way out of a cardboard box, but he can verbally address many subjects quite eloquently and with a vocabulary that will stun you. So you see? What grade is that really? Well, I guess we’ll just stick with the conventional “this is where you’d be if you were in public school” levels and continue on with our regularly scheduled programming.

**End Rant**

Chi age 11.75 beginning 6th grade; Pieces age 6.25 beginning 1st grade; and Pynni age 8.25 beginning 3rd grade.

Chi age 11.75 beginning 6th grade; Pieces age 6.25 beginning 1st grade; and Pynni age 8.25 beginning 3rd grade.

When we started with our homeschool adventure, I backed up with Chi and Pynni, and started behind where they were in public school. I did this for several reasons, but the two main ones were to get a good feel for their knowledge level without starting out ahead of where they ended their public school education (All curricula are different and teach things in differing orders and ways. It’s easy to start out and quickly come across a concept the curriculum has covered in previous books, but not one your child has ever seen.) and to start a few things from the beginning that, Chi especially, hated in school like writing and Pynni was shutting down doing like reading. In the end my strategy worked amazingly well, and I accomplished all the objectives I was working to meet, but it also set the kids up to be behind in all their subjects as pertains to grade level.

So now that I feel like I have a real handle on the homeschool thing and that I’ve sussed out all the correct curricula and that we’ve got a schooling system and organization that works great for us, I feel the need to press ahead. We, with the exception of Pieces, are behind our public school counterparts in some areas and I think we need to remedy that. Because it’s just the three of us, we can move exactly as fast as necessary moving forward in this school year without leaving anyone behind.

Last year we just sort of mosey’d along with our school days while I worked to figure out what was best for Pynni and Pieces; what worked for them. This year, we can really buckle down and get some learning done. Last year was figuring out how to integrate Pieces into our school days. Last year was meeting with a bunch of homeschool groups and doing a bunch of socializing to figure out what we like best. Last year was making friends and switching curricula whenever we needed to do so.

This year, we have it down. This year we are going to finish at grade level or above. Now, of course, I am aware that “things happen”. Yes. I do know that. So if it takes two school years to be all caught up or more then it takes that long.

Our goal, for this year however, is to be grade level in as many subjects as possible. I’ll keep you posted.