Loose Lips  

Posted by: Laura Delgado in , ,

I have neglected my personal blogs since taking a job here http://www.meltingpotproject.com. There is only so much time in the day. M and M-C are four years old today, which is not bittersweet for me - it's really just bitter. I miss them being babies. I miss all of them being babies. I miss babies in general. I feel as if I know how to parent babies competently.

I can certainly present my older children with plenty of lessons in virtue drawn from my own life. I am struggling with something now that I did probably five or more years ago, but whose repercussions will not stop...repercussing. I said something, completely in innocence and without malice (actually Principal tells me that I never even said this thing - I am just so used to people attributing it to me that I have assumed that I said something like it. He was there - he should know). In any case, like the childrens' game of telephone, this thing was repeated and made ugly and vile and "got back" to the person about whom I supposedly said this thing. As a result, I am essentially persona non grata on one side of my family. At worst, I repeated an item of gossip in what I thought was a private conversation. At best, I didn't say anything at all, and something someone else said was repeated and attributed to me. I have suffered such angst over this whole thing that I am no longer even sure about anything. All I know is that I did not say what is attributed to me. I also know that for all of these years, not one person has questioned whether or not I could even be capable of such ugliness. Everyone has just assumed that it is true. That is what hurts the most.

My point is simply this: I should have guarded my tongue in the original conversation so many years ago. Words always have the potential to hurt. Just because you think you are having a private conversation doesn't mean that you are, and it really doesn't matter, because you should never say anything unkind regardless. In my own defense, in this particular conversation, I said nothing unkind, but I certainly have in other conversations. God gave me a clever wit and a sharp tongue, and I don't always use them for the powers of good. I ought to, because the consequences can be long-lasting. God's gifts should be used to honor Him, and *that* is the lesson that I try to instill in my children.

A study of virtue can really aid in this endeavor. Saints can be marvelous examples. St. Lawrence had a quick wit, if legend is to be believed. As my patron saint, I often ask him to guard my tongue. He really needs to step up his efforts! ;) I will do my children such a favor if I can keep them from being like me. With this post, I am officially putting this ugly incident to bed. I am an N family pariah, and that's how it is. I can't waste any more time mourning the situation. It is what it is, and I can't fix it.

Back In Action  

Posted by: Laura Delgado in , , ,

After a two week vacation, the Academy is back in session. I took the first week off because my house really needed some TLC. I could not go out of town, and then face coming back to my house the way it was. Make no mistake: it still looks like a bomb went off. The collateral damage is just slightly more tolerable. On Friday of that first week, we all got up at 3:30 a.m. and left for Walt Disney World in Orlando. Along the way, we spent a day or so in St. Augustine, FL to soak up some history (it's the site of Ponce de Leon's landing in the U.S., and his supposed founding of the Fountain of the Youth, in addition to the location of the oldest Church in the U.S.). The kids did wonderfully at Disney. There was almost no complaining at all. They asked for nothing (no food, drinks, souveneirs, etc.). We had a suite at our hotel, so we ate nothing in the parks. We breakfasted in our hotel room, brought lunch into the park, and then ate dinner again in our hotel room. I know the kids must have drooled a little at the site of all those hamburgers and french fries (to say nothing of the Mickey ears ice cream), but they never asked. I was very proud of them.

I have am of two minds on Disney World. The obvious, rampant, and unrelenting commercialism disturbs me. The "buy, buy, buy" coming at you from all sides is exhausting. The kids love it so much, though, and it really is magical. The characters never break, well, character, which is special for the kids. They really think they're meeting Snow White. The "cast members" (there are no employees at Disney!) are all courteous and helpful, and everything is clean and nice. You really can disconnect there. You see two types of kids and families. There are the kids who are obvious spoiled pains who are getting everything that they want, and then you see the kids for whom this is a dream come true. There are plenty of adults with no kids, too. That was me when I was 19, when Principal took me for the first time. In any case, the kids road tripped amazingly well, and we plan many camping trips in the near future.

Academy-wise, N is reading so well! He's not sounding things out nearly as much - he's just reading. He's within a day of finishing "Explode the Code Volume 1" and we have Volume 2 all ready to break out. He loves "Writing with Ease", as the selections that he is copying and narrating are so relevant to him. The first week was all "Little House in the Big Woods", and this week is "Pinocchio", which he loved, having just "met" Pinocchio in person! It is sparking his interest to read the originals, which, after all, is part of the plan.

Since I have gone back to teaching T math, we are having somewhat fewer problems, although some problems still persist. When Principal can teach her, she seems to enjoy it more. He has the kind of mind that can make lots of connections that I just don't. I pretty much go by the book. We really complement each other well, but, of course, he can't teach her every day, and she just has to get used to the fact that I am her teacher. For some reason, I still don't think she really likes that sometimes. If we're doing anything in the Humanities, she's fine, but math, not so. Maybe in some unconscious way, I'm telegraphing something to her, even though I am trying so hard not to. Ah, who knows?

As for the Magistra: my last freelance job has ended, and I am actively seeking more work. I have a phone interview with a neat political site today. I don't know if I agree with everything that the site promotes, but that's part of the interesting aspect of it. They are looking for a more right-leaning author, and I fit that bill. I think it would be a worthwhile project in which to participate, and it is very educational, particularly for younger people who are willing to plow through it. I really appreciate that. We'll see how it goes. It would be truly wonderful if it actually pays decently.

Out of the Mouths of Babes  

Posted by: Laura Delgado in ,

T thought that she was ready to recite her poem "A Slash of Blue" by Dickinson today without any advance recitation from me. I, rigid rule-adherer that I am, wanted to go through with the triple reading, since she has only had the poem for one day! I did the triple reading while tears streamed down her face. When it was her turn, she began to recite through clenched teeth. I gently reminded her that she had forgotten the title and author. She made an attempt at the title: "A Sweep of Blue by Emily Dickinson". I, again gently, suggested that maybe she didn't yet know the poem as well as she thought she did. Trembling with anger, and then laughter, she said, "I'm sorry, Mommy, but right now all I can think of is "A Smack of Blue by Emily Dickinson". This is truly my child...


Posted by: Laura Delgado

Finally a small breakthrough with T. I have gone back to teaching her math, rather than having her read the lesson herself. Technichally, with Saxon 5/4, the student is able to read the lesson herself, and then do the problems. I have to remind myself, though, that although T is at the level of 5/4, she is younger, agewise. Hence, although it wreaks absolute havoc with my schedule, a deadly sin in Magistra-world, I have gone back to "teaching" her math. Maybe we can once again experience peace in the Academy.

A wonderful book that I cannot recommend enough to all of my friends (hmmm...that presents a problem - let's just say a wonderful book that I would recommend to anyone!): The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett. I have always known that I am Melancholic. I did all of my Science Fair projects in school on temperament, in addition to taking a wonderful History of Science class in College, which discussed in depth the theory of "humors" in medicine. I have never heard such a wonderful explication of my temperament, though, as I read in this book. Even better the Bennetts go into depth about spousal temperament, marital temperament combinations, and, most beneficial for parents (I think particularly for homeschooling parents), your children's temperaments. How does a melancholic parent a sanguine? I know that I will find out as M-C continues to grow up. In any case, it was very nice to read aloud to Principal so many of the things that irk him about my personality as being classically "Melancholic". I never thought that I would conform exactly to anything, but (and there must be a lesson in humility in here somewhere), apparently I am not so very unique after all! Give the book a try in your marriage or in your book group. Alternatively, do yourself a favor and read it just for yourself. Melancholics are the best - the perfectionists - those with such high standards that anything short of Heaven is just not good enough - the poets and the philosophers (and also the depressives) - but go ahead and discover your temperament. Better yet, discover how you can help your spouse work with your temperament...oh, and I was kidding about Melancholics being the best. Sort of. Where was that lesson in humility again?

Too Many Ideas...  

Posted by: Laura Delgado in ,

October 21, 2008
There are too many things flying around in my head. I guess I should stick primarily with Academy updates. T is almost finished with FLL 3, so we have 4 on the way (thank you Wise and Buffington). The teacher edition isn't even published yet, but I'm grateful to continue with the same series. We'll switch to Rod&Staff when we run out of FLL - heavy on the diagramming and the rote repitition of grammar. We will also be starting Writing with Ease, the WTM writing program, very recently published, and designed to work in tandem with FLL. Both T and N will be doing the writing program, so we will be trying to cram yet more into our already too full days. Principal will be the first to attest to the fact that balance is not a skill that I know.

T is still giving me fits. She is intelligent, but she is also incredibly moody. She has developed an attitude that I don't care for at all. I feel as if I am pulling teeth on a daily basis (dangerous considering the fact that she is currently missing 3, and 2 more are loose), and I don't know what to do about it. Patience is not a virtue with which the Good Lord blessed me, and Heaven knows that I don't want to pray for it (more opportunities to acquire it, you know - better to pray for the grace to accept what comes). It used to be that T was my rock. When the younger three were breaking down, at least I could count on one that was steady. Not so much now, at least at school. When school ends, the rock is back, though, so I suppose that I ought to focus on that, and assume that, yes, this too is a phase that will pass. It has to, because I don't think that we're going to make it otherwise! I keep holding on to the fact that St. Therese was also very moody and sensitive and would cry at the drop of a hat. One day, and she pinpoints the exact day, God gave her the grace to get over it. I pray that she will intercede for the same grace for T. Maybe she can throw in a good word for the Magistra, too!

I have started a new blog to help vent some of my political frustration. I used to enjoy political reparte, but I have gotten to the point where I am just plain defensive and mad. When did the decent people become the strange ones? When did valuing morals, standards, personal accountability, and the traditions which made our country great become something at which to sneer? I am so tired of being odd man out (yes - I said man. I have absolutely no problem with referring to myself in that way, you PC-crazy nuts. I am secure. I know that I am a woman. I have given birth 3 times - there's little doubt (oh, no wait - there was that pregnant man. Just give it time and we can throw that standard out the window, too, God help us). PC writing is awkward writing, and I refuse to bow to it). To that end, I now explicate and vent here: http://livinginobamerica.blogspot.com. Feel free to come by.

Sadly, More Editing...  

Posted by: Laura Delgado in , ,

October 14, 2008
I refuse to remain undefined (a reference to where I think the date should be)! I thought the row over the editing was resolved, but apparently not exactly. The editor sent a memo, by way of my employer, justifying her changes. That's all fine and good, except she introduced errors into my piece where errors didn't previously exist! I pointed that fact out. We'll see if that was to my detriment or not. I feel as if I am walking a very fine line here. As Miss Farrell says to Miss Hannigan in "Annie", "It's an awful time to be out of work"...

Anyone who knows me knows that flexibility is not my strong suit. I am the original Hem (or Haw - I'm not particular). Please don't move my cheese. I suppose that I will eventually go find it, but I will be darn near death's doorstep before doing so. Said inflexibility probably explains why I am almost nervous that my children are not in school right now. They are sick. Well, the youngest three are. I have my doubts about T (reference earlier posts), but it is hard for her to resist the siren call of the TV (on during the day!), combined with the gray day and the pouring rain (she shares my penchant for the melancholy). I guess everyone is getting off with a bye (debate term again). I am very uneasy about it, but I need to get over it. It is October, and T is 2/3 of the way through her Language Book, and 1/3 of the way through Math. N is 1/2 way through Math. I would guess that we'll finish on time. On time for what I'm not sure. Armageddon? Only if Obama is elected - ha ha - a little political humor to lighten my day. Seriously, I guess that's why I believe in year round homeschooling - so a little going off schedule doesn't throw me into a tizzy. Except it does. I wonder what it feels like to relax. Principal says that I am this way because it works for me. Thank you, Dr. Phil. Seriously, though, since he's right about almost everything (Principal, not Dr. Phil), he's probably right about me, too. I must work best when I'm wound up. My primary concern is how it will affect my children. I grew up with someone who was very wound up. He always speculated that he would die of a heart attack. Ironically, he has mellowed to the point that I hardly recognize him, while I sort of wonder if I will make it to 40. How unfair that we as parents create our children in our image, and then we alter ourselves so that they can't even identify with us anymore. Parenting is such a great responsibility that I wonder daily how God ever entrusted me with it!


Posted by: Laura Delgado

What a wonderful aid to my spiritual life. I will readily admit that I am more of a formulaic pray-er than a "talking and listening" to God pray-er (yes, I know that there are technical terms, but for once I'm not in the mood for them), and Magnificat (http://www.magnificat.com/english/index.asp) caters to that side of me marvelously. By offering new prayers each day, it keeps my prayer life from becoming *too* formulaic, and by providing the daily Mass readings, along with bios of lesser knowns saints and daily meditations, there is just the right amount of material. Now do I read everything every day? Sadly, no, but since T also utilizes it as a Mass aid, I feel as if we're getting our money's worth.

I have always felt the urge to write, and actually always *have* written, but for the first time I feel that I have a plausible novel idea (in fact, a novel idea that is novel -- why, oh why do I write parenthetically so much? I will clobber my children if they do this in compositions!). Now if only I could find the two books that I need for the most preliminary of research. They are hiding in my study under mounds of other books. The fact that I can't bring myself to dig in and look for them is probably somewhat telling, but I'll get there. I have to outline first anyway. I am choosing not to focus on the fact that without an agent, the chances of even getting a book in front of a publisher are slim and non-existent. Oh, and there are no vampires in it, so I may as well hang it up right now. Even I don't want to read a book without Edward in it.

My father told me recently not to worry because 90% of what we worry about doesn't come to pass, and the other 10% didn't end up being as bad as we worried it would be. Well, without worry my life would be meaningless (acutally, I think that sentence should more properly say "without Christ my life would be meaningless", but in my case, worry is what drives me. Well, worry and coffee drive me). Apart from that, though, he was right in this case. I was beyond vexed because the postings that I have been submitting to edHelperBaby have been receiving the most...creative editing known to writing. The editing resulted in my postings bearing no resemblance to my actual writing. I thought that I had given the matter due consideration when I emailed my boss (whom I have never met) telling him that the situation was not acceptable to me. Immediately afterward I was terrified that I would be fired. I *like* having a job, especially a freelance writing job related to children, a subject about which I know a thing or two. In any case, I practically made myself sick for a week, after which point my boss emailed back thanking me from bringing the situation to his attention. I am not sure what resolution that brings, but for now, I'll definitely take it. Maybe I should start listening to Principal when he tells me stop worrying. Something about my control issues is tied into all that worrying, though...when things start to spin out of control, I start to panic. I really think I need to read The Temperament God Gave You (http://www.amazon.com/Temperament-God-Gave-You-Yourself/dp/1933184027) and start coming to terms with a few aspects of my personality. More importantly, I need to come to terms with a few aspects of *Principal's* personality!

Salve Regina!  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

October is the month of the Rosary, so we are especially happy to honor our Holy Mother here at our Academy, named in her honor. I was beyond thrilled on Sunday when we sang not only the Salve Regina, but also Tantum Ergo - in Latin! Two Latin songs in one Mass. I have surely died and gone to pre-Vatican II Heaven. I did get the idea, however, that we should begin learning traditional Latin hymns here at the Academy, so our morning routine now consists of the Pledge, the Morning Offering (currently being offered for my brother's intention, one which I can only pray will be resolved according the will of God - it's hugely important for our family), the singing of My Country 'Tis of Thee, America, Grand Old Flag (shout out to George M. Cohan, great American composer, great American, and sharer of N's birthday!), and Tantum Ergo. It makes for a very interesting routine. Of course, it's followed up by calendar, so we also have to sing "Today is Monday, today is Monday all day long - all day long..". Fun times...

I am dealing with motivation problems with T, and I am struggling with how to resolve them. She is bright. She is working above grade level in all subjects (2 grades above in Math). She is not overworked and I have done my best to craft an interesting curriculum that allows her to focus on things she enjoys (diagramming sentences! History! Creative Writing! Latin - not so much these days, but some things are non-negotiable), but getting her to the school room table, much less getting productive work out of her is becoming increasingly difficult these days. She dawdles. She complains. She cries. This is the child who was the star of her school. Her entire school (K-8). She was looked upon as a model student, and it was routinely speculated that she was headed for a convent at an early age. Granted, I realize that her school persona would not be her home persona, but come now - such a vast difference! Does she really need to know, and have demonstrated 50 times a day, that she is superior to everyone else in her class in order to be properly motivated? Hey, I was the smart kid, too (well, at least until Math started getting the better of me in 8th grade - but I was always the English star!), and I know the joy of everyone's adulation, but how can I teach her the joy of self-satisfaction and self-motivation, skills that I honestly thought that she had already begun to master, at least in part? Frustration is at an all-time high here right now. Maybe it's just a bit of growing pain. Perhaps she's at a difficult age (ah, yes, the favorite excuse of mothers everywhere!). I think it's helpful that we're preparing for First Confession (yes, I know we're supposed to emphasize the Reconciliation aspect, but I'm old school) as it gives us plenty of opportunities to talk about ways that we can please Jesus, and things that we do that disappoint him (I'd go into the ways that I disappointed him today, but I'm sure that Blogger has a space limit, and I would surely exceed it!). We study the Saints, and discuss good habits, and I'm sure that we'll overcome this phase. At least, there's a 50% chance that we will. Either we will or we won't, anyway, so I won't spend too much time worrying about it!

Just one quick link to a company that I just love. If I come into money, I am going to buy all of the back issues of this magazine: http://www.girlhoodhomecompanion.com/ I have one issue, and I can't wait to share it with T. There is so much in it for a little girl to love. I sort of think of it as a young girl's Victoria http://www.victoriamag.com/ but with so much more about what it means to be a young lady who loves the Lord (it is so not in your face, though. The tone is just perfect). Anyway, in my list of "lottery winning must-haves" the collection of back issues has gone straight to the top.

On a personal note, which does not break my "no boring personal anecdotes" rule, because the mother/daughter relationship is very important in any home, my own relationship with my mother is bringing me great joy as of late. The Dear Lord has gifted me with patience beyond that which I usually possess, and my Mom is bringing me into her world of paper crafting (most definitively *not* scrapbooking - no photos involved!). She is so very talented (and loaded with supplies!), and I am able to play with paper and stamps, and, much more importantly, to share some time with her. I am so grateful.


Posted by: Laura Delgado in ,

September 29, 2008

An old debate term - since my writing time seems so ephemeral (I'm not sure that I quite like the way that word is nuanced in this sentence, but oh well), I have to at least get down my ideas so I know what I want to write when I find the time. I don't remember who said it (I'll look it up), but I really like the quote "comparison is the death of contentment". Unfortunately, it is so much easier said than lived. Since I was a child, I have had a huge problem comparing myself to everyone and finding myself severely wanting. It's funny, I guess for some people, that quotation would not resonate at all: some people derive great satisfaction from comparing themselves to others - they always come out on top, whether because they are genuinely superior in some fashion, or because they have delusions of grandeur! In any case, Principal has no problem living this quotation, and I have no problem teaching it to my children. In my own life, however, it has been a constant struggle. Help came from the most unlikely quarter this last week!

In game theory (http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Asc/GAME_THEOR.html), there is a principal tenet that one cannot make interpersonal comparisons of utility. Without getting into the ins and outs of social choice theory (because, yes, I know that Harsanyi and Sen both argue that some limited ICUs are allowable), for my purposes as a homeschooling housewife, this realization has been remarkably helpful. Essentially, this tenet states that what Person A values can't be compared to what Person B values because the degree to what each values it is different (the utility each assigns the thing in question is different).

For example, Housewife A ranks the following objective "goods" in this order:

  1. High level of education (for herself)
  2. Happy children (operationalized as allowed to play freely, make messes, and yell)
  3. Lots of time for family (i.e., less scheduled activity time in the family)
  4. Time for her own hobbies
  5. Clean home

Housewife B ranks the same objective "goods" as follows (notice that the operationalizations are different:

  1. Clean home
  2. Happy children (operationalized as clean home, many activities, quiet and mannerly)
  3. Lots of time for family (i.e., scheduled activities, classes, "experiences", playdates)
  4. Time for own hobbies
  5. High level of education (for herself)

The preceding example shows why Housewife A could never compare herself to Housewife B. They are not even playing the same game by the same rules! They both value happy children, but they don't measure happy children by the same metric! They both value time for the family, but A considers that objective met when there are few scheduled activities and lots of time for free, creative play. B considers family time well met when her children have lots of schedules activities, and when they have many extracurricular activities so that they can experience all that life has to offer. A derives a great deal of her sense of self worth from the fact that she is highly educated, while B derives self satisfaction from her clean house. Obviously, it is completely futile for either of these two to compare herself to the other. To do so is to make an interpersonal comparison of utility - to assume that each places the same value on each "good". It is clear that such is not the case. I have to admit that I never thought that I would derive such a personal breakthrough from social choice theory!

Tying that back to the Academy, then, how nifty that I will be able to help my children avoid that nasty pitfall and no-win situation of comparing themselves fruitlessly to others, while at the same time teaching them some basic social choice and game theory! And to Housewife B, wherever you are, stop feeling superior to me! You are violating a basic tenet of game theory, and I will no longer be a partner to this crime!

So Pretty...  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

...my new layout, that is. If only I could figure out how to iron out the few kinks. Alas, I am not that savvy. Either that, or I am not willing to take the time, particularly given that I am practically the only person who reads my musings! Things are bumpy here right now. N would be a challenge to any teacher, but is doubly so to me. I know that what we are doing is easy for him, but he needs the fundamentals. I am very sensitive to the needs of a boy, and I don't make him sit still for long periods of time, but we have to do math and phonics and language every day. His reading is coming along wonderfully, and I am amazed at how nice his handwriting is (thank you, Zaner-Bloser! Funny aside - the kids have created a fictional super hero called Zaner-Bloser; I guess it is a funny name). In any case, on a personal note, I have been reflecting on something Fr. Troy said Saturday night, "depression is anger turned inward." I have never heard it phrased quite that way before, but given my family (nuclear, that is), it is something worth pondering. So off I go to ponder.

Clara voce cogito  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

Okay, now *this* is actually a real time post. All of the others are imported from my previous blog. I have switched blogs because I have the option of more features here, such as greater sidebar freedom. I apparently crave sidebar freedom. Who knew? Ironically, in spite of the fact that we endured a category 2 hurricane (about which I will only say that I would not choose to go through the experience again, although a downed fence and a 56 hour loss of power is all we suffered, in marked contrast to so many others), we did not lose any school days. It was so considerate of Ike to come through on the weekend. Leave it to the Republican hurricanes.

I think that we are *finally* moving past the first mini unit of Tapestry of Grace. I don't feel bad about taking so long in Egypt, simply because we love studying Egypt. It will be interesting to move into Mesopotamia, though, since T has never even heard of that part of the world, much less studied it. One of the wonderful things about TOG is that she gets to read a version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, something most children don't even hear about until high school. (I normally don't digress into personal matters, but I have to mention that I am sitting beside an open window. In Houston. In September. Only Houstonians can truly appreciate what that means. For all those who are still without power after Ike, or without homes, for that matter, God truly is good to send such unseasonably gorgeous weather).

I have spent so much time transferring blog information (badly, too; I hate it when formatting gets lost) that I was not able to write about that which I truly intended: teenagers. I would maintain that "teenagers" as an official growth step on the way from childhood to adulthood is an artificial designation, one invented by (gasp of surprise) advertisers, to the detriment of society at large. I think that Principal may have a problem with my decision (I'll break it to him gently), but I have already decided that our children (I'll admit that I haven't thought beyond T) are not going to be teenagers. T will go from being a little girl to a young lady to a woman. I have to confess in retrospect that I can't think of much good that came from my being a teenager. I am always grateful for the fact that I essentially went from my father's house to my husband's house. I am often amused by articles in magazines that caution against such haste - after all, we wouldn't want to cheat ourselves out of life's experiences! As I muse reflectively, I wonder just what these experiences might be. Since I met my husband and got married, I have finished college, obtained a Master's degree and a Ph.D., held jobs, given birth to four children, and am currently homeschooling and freelance writing. Just what experiences have I missed? Men? I have the only one I want - the one that I know that God intended for me. Drinks with the girls? Marriage doesn't rule out friends or libations. Well, I begin to digress. I realize that some people are not ready to get married at a younger age, but I find the argument that one will somehow "miss out" if one gets married young spurious. I now return you to your regularly scheduled school day.

Our New School Year Begins  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

May 31, 2008
It seems that our school year has started early here at the Salve Regina Homeschool Academy...as in it started the day after the last school year ended! My client homeschoolers went on to wherever there next steps take them, but my children dragged me away from my news and coffee the very next school day begging me to do school. I had always suspected that we would not "do" summer vacation here at SRHSA, and it seems that, for now at least, I am right. I think that we finished out Old Testament History and American History just fine, but T still has 20 lessons to go in Saxon Math 3, so we need to finish those up before we begin Saxon 5/4. I get confused as to whether to describe her as a 2nd grader (what she'd be if she was in "real school", or as a 4th grader (what she'll be in a matter of weeks, according to her math and english curricula). I guess it doesn't really matter. It's too freakish to have a 6 year old 4th grader anyway - even for me. The 4 year old kindergartener is a tad unusual, but not nearly as much. I have been wanting for some time to lay out their entire curricula for the coming year (which we actually began last week!), so here we go. I have provided links where I have them. I really think that it is the best classical curriculum that I could have compiled, and I am quite pleased with it. As is characteristic with me, if there were two options, and one was easier, that was the one that I eschewed. I have had multiple people tell me that SOW (Story of the World) is difficult to manage with multiple children at different stages, but we're going for it. Even more people have told me that you just can't do WTM (Well Trained Mind) science the way that Wise and Bauer lay it out, but, again, I believe that we can. I dislike the text book approach to science. It pretty much killed my interest in science from a young age, and I didn't notice it lighting my third graders on fire at CN (the school at which I taught that ignominously closed midyear), nor did I notice it doing much for my first graders that I client homeschooled. It is far too rote, and requires far too little of them at the grammar stage of their development. T (6 yodd, the 2nd/4th grader) could do the textbook assignments while asleep at the beginning of first grade at CN, and was begging for something resembling a nature study or notebooking. Further, it is certainly true that as soon as they become truly interested in a subject, they are turning the page to start a new chapter, and leaving that subject behind until the next year. To that end, we are going the WTM route, and immersing ourselves in one scientific discipline each year of the grammar years. Knowing my kids as I do, though, they will dabble in other subjects, both in what they watch on the History and Discovery Channels, and in what they read. I suspect that they will come out ahead in the end. I think that the actual curricula outlines will have to wait, as real life calls. I always knew that I wanted to wallow in the halls of academia forever...

Animis opibusque parati...  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

June 3, 2008
...I wish. In any case, I went to the Homeschool Store today, and for the first time felt well enough organized and on my path that I did not want everything in sight. Usually I go limp at the sight of so much grammar and history. I want it. All of it. Today, however, I find that I am very content with what we have lined up. We are covering both ancient and Old Testament history nicely (and, yes, I know that Old Testament history is ancient), and between First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and Writing Tales, I really think that T is getting a very rigorous grammar and writing curriculum. I was going to switch her to Rod and Staff when she finished FLL, but I just found out that there will be a Level 4 by the time she needs it, so I'll probably keep her with that. I am hoping that the difficulty level picks up a little, especially with the diagramming, but I inadvertently throw in so much of my own stuff anyway on a daily basis (in one day last week she learned "mendacious, pugilistic, segue", and one more word that temporarily escapes me), that she'll be fine. Also, when we're done with Writing Tales, we'll be transitioning to Classical Writing Homer, so she'll have plenty on her plate.

Optimus Magister Bonus Liber  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

June 3, 2008
There are some books that I absolutely forbid T to read on her own. I simply must read them to her. Unfortunately, that list is ever growing, and my brain cells are ever shrinking. To that end, this entry will serve as a continually updated list of the books that I will read to T. We have already read some of them (i.e., Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Jim Dale is doing the honors with all of the Harry Potter books (we're halfway through Book 6). A Little Princess - Frances Hodgeson Burnett (in progress) The Princess Bride - William Goldman Anne of Green Gables - L(ucy) M(aud) Montgomery A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens The Wolves of Wiloughby Chase - Joan Aiken The Iliad - HomerMore will come - I have a whole shelf of them. The problem is making them wonderful enough for her to want to hear them, but not so wonderful that she reads them on her own, or that she reads ahead. Some I have had to keep in my room in the past...

Malum consilium quod mutari non potest  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

June 6, 2008
...although I'm not changing anything exactly, it's more of a clarification. I know that I can't teach SOW I with Earth Science. That makes no sense. The entire idea is to make the history consonant with the science in order to create a picture of a cohesive whole. Quite. Which means that I need to do SOW I this summer, in its entirety, in order to start SOW II in the fall, along with Earth Science. I can thank T's kindergarten teacher (for the millinonth time) for doing such a great job with Life Science. She knows enough about Life Science that I'll feel comfortable leaving it formally for the duration of the grammar stage. What I need to do, then, is formalize our summer curriculum. That shouldn't be too hard. Famous last words... T's SummerSOW IFinish Saxon Math 3 (by end of June)LatinFLL for the WTM N's SummerSaxon Math 1Phonics PathwaysAll About Spelling M and M-C's SummerRevel in their 3 year old existenceI was debating enrolling T in drama this summer, since she spends so much time writing and directing herself and M-C in plays, but I think that I may wait until next summer. I guess that I am keeping this summer activity-free. I may come to regret that, but I may not. We'll see. The actual age limit is 7, but I was assuming that I could make a case for her, since she turns 7 soon and has 4 years of dance behind her now. I'll probably just wait. I would say maybe this fall, but in the fall we'll have T-ball, 2 dance classes, and maybe soccer tots, so we'll have to see. I do so love being home. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200303/rauch.
Now I have to go to Amazon and buy SOW II and accompanying materials. Actually, I contemplated Veritas' program for quite awhile. I really like it, and will probably use it alot as the kids get older, especially their Omnibus program. For now, though, SOW is a great introduction to history on a grand scale. I thank God daily that His plan included providing me with just the right education for providing my kids with *their* education. I still don't know what the point of the Ph.D. in Political Science was (so I can teach them advanced stats someday??), but my undergraduate education was tailor made for giving them a Catholic, classical education of the first order, and I am thankful.Edited to add: I just noticed that Live Journal is telling me "You've only made "0" friends". Heh - story of my life ;) Like I needed my journal telling me that! Also, why is it, with all of the preset moods, they never have the one that I want??

Summer Summary  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

July 29, 2008
We had a great summer. We schooled, on average, four days a week, skipping Henry's flex day unless he was working from home. I managed to score a job with edHelperBaby.com, which was wonderful. It is my first consistent writing job, so I am thrilled. Now I am chomping at the bit for more work from them! Therese is well into Saxon Math 5/4, and is doing very well. She is chafing just a little bit at the review, but it's good for her. Nicholas is loving All About Spelling. He is learning spelling rules that I don't remember learning until late in elementary school. The twins are just happy if they have a craft!We are headed to Galveston for a few days, and we will begin the year in earnest on Tuesday, a week from today. The kids are excited, mostly, as am I. I have made a change regarding science and history, as we did not progress adequately through SOW I this summer, and I really want them to love and marinate in history, as nothing else. To that end, we will be doing SOW I and Life Science, rather than SOW II and Earth Science. Since we school year round, I am still confident that Therese will finish SOW by the end of her grammar years. Nicholas should actually finish early, leaving him extra time to study Greece, Rome, and Egypt, although not in that order, obviously. We're still going to be using Apologia science, as I have found that it grabs younger children as does no other program. It is more labor intensive for me, but that really is the point of homeschooling young children, after all. Why would I put a science book in front of them, tell them to read the chapter and answer the questions? They can get that in public school...or private.Therese's vegetables consist of Anne of Green Gables. She can't get enough, and I fall in love with Anne all over again. I long for a Diana, just as I did when I was a girl. Well, Therese is a kindred spirit, if ever there was one!

First Day Fall '08 at the Salve Regina Homeschool Academy  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

August 6, 2008
Our first day of the new semester has gone very well (with the slight exception of N rebelling and not wanting to sort his letter tiles when MC messed them up). I think that even with her heavy course load, I will be able to finish with T before lunch, and that makes me happy. I have also decided that it is most correct to refer to her as a 3rd grader and to N as a 1st grader. That is where their school work averages (her math is higher, and the rest of her work would definitely be considered advanced for a 3rd grader, but it's not unheard of to have a 7 year old 3rd grader, so that's what I'm calling it). N is doing Math 1, which is perfect for a Kindergartner, and he's also doing First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind 1st Grade, which is also perfect for a Kindergartner. It works well with his spelling and phonics, and I know that he is going to want the writing skills once he sees the notebooks that T is going to be keeping, so I think it best to give him the skills ASAP. Wise even says that the goal at this level (her 1st grade book) is exposure, not mastery, so I see no reason to wait. When he starts to rebel and get antsy, I always let him go. He is making real progress, though.At the moment I am loving Cindy Rushton (http://www.cindyrushton.com). Yes, she's a tad Fundamentalist for my taste, and yes, she's heavy on the teddy bear graphics, but she does hit a chord that I need to hear, and she does have some great organizing materials on her site. It's a great way for a massive introvert like me to connect without having to connect. Speaking of which, my good friend Pam is starting a book club with the old CN crowd (whom I dearly miss), and I am so excited. First up is Mere Christianity. I have to find it and dust it off and prepare to discuss it with some very intelligent ladies!Finally, my first official post is up at http://www.edhelperbaby.com here http://www.edhelperbaby.com/weekly/week_6_A_6_week_old_At_A_Glance.htm. It may not be much (I've written more, but it has not been posted yet), but I'm happy (and we all know what a rare event that is).

Last Major Change (but the best by far!)  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

August 10, 2008
I have made one last change to our curriculum for this year. After visiting this website (http://www.tapestryofgrace.com) repeatedly over the course of the last few months, I felt very called to utilize it with my kids, and now that we are officially beginning it tomorrow, I am so excited. Best of all, T is really excited too. N is not very excited about much of anything that takes time away from his legos, but I think he's definitely going to benefit as well. Tapestry of Grace embodies everything about why I am homeschooling my kids. It encapsulates the very best of classical education, incorporating plenty of Charlotte Mason's philosophy as well. I have read plenty of rave reviews of Tapestry of Grace that suggest that it is simply too much money to justify spending it on younger (grammar stage) children, but, at least in the case of my own children, I have to disagree. Immersing my children in the time period they are studying is exactly what I want to do. T is super excited about going to Egypt for a three-week minimum. If we feel that three weeks are not enough, we'll stay longer: the beauty of homeschooling - especially year-round! In my usual over-the-top manner, I went to the library and got not only the required and supplementary books for the first unit, but a whole bunch more as well. I just can't resist, especially when I know they will end up being couch reading for us, and that both my older kids retain so much of what they read and hear. That old sponge philosophy, coupled with my own of "throw it out there and see if it will stick"; what possible harm could it do.N is really excited because after only two days of exposure, he already has a few lines of his first poetry memorization down. Now if he could only say "Christina G. Rossetti" instead of "Chrustina G. Nostelery". Sigh. I am 98% sure he is doing it on purpose to vex me, but I can't be certain.T has in her repertoire now "The Land of Nod" by R.L. Stevenson and "A Tragic Story" by Wm. Makepeace Thackery. Next up for her is "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by Wordsworth. I am proud that she has retained her first selection through the memorization of her second. For our first Holy Family open mic night I think I would like her to do Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue. I think it's lovely to hear a child recite that poem/prayer.

Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

Aug. 18th, 2008 at 2:08 PM
There is unbelievable frustration as I write this, since I originally scripted it on Saturday night, only to accidentally navigate away from the post and have it eaten by cyberspace. Needless to say, this iteration will be more brief. Sigh. I think that I have finally winnowed out the chaff and have settled in on the final curriculum for this year (08-09 traditional school year). Hmmm. That is actually a poor word choice, because nothing that I could choose for my children to study could technically be chaff, but massively Type-A, hoarding, collecting mentality that I am, there is definitely a propensity to overdo. Hence, let us instead say that I have whittled down and arrived at the cream of the crop. This word choice allows us to stay with the farming imagery :)I digress. In essence, T will be studying the following: Math: Saxon 5/4 Language: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 3 Spelling: All About Spelling Level 2 (way too easy for her, but I want her to be very well grounded in the rules) Handwriting: Zaner-Bloser Level 2C Science: Apologia Zoology 1 - Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day Latin: Prima Latina Humanities: Tapestry of Grace Year 1 (Upper Grammar)N: Math: Saxon 1 Language: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1 and Phonics Pathways Spelling: All About Spelling Level 1 Handwriting: Zaner-Bloser Level K Humanities: Tapestry of Grace Year 1 (Lower Grammar)Twins: Math: Numbers and Counting Language: Letters, Sounds, and Phonics Pathways Handwriting: Handwriting without TearsIf you have not yet checked out Tapestry of Grace, I would really encourage you to do so. It is by far the most amazing program that I have found, and I honestly think that I looked at all of them. It allows for ultimate flexibility. You can do as much or as little as you want. You can incorporate all of the humanities, or only a fraction. You can focus more on the reading and writing, or more on the crafting. You can incorporate lots of notebooking and lapbooking (yay!). In essence, you absolutely can customize it to your family. For my purposes, it will give my children the best classical education, with the best Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson techniques incorporated throughout (although, that's sort of redundant, since I believe that classical education actually incorporates those techniques from the start. I suppose that is one reason that it bothers me so much when people try to tell me that I am homeschooling my children "eclectically". Not true. Everything that I do comes from a position of classical technique. I just choose not to it from a box).The other big thing going on in our house right now is organization. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not my strong suit. Clutter is my undoing. In my academic life I have always been very organized. My Ph.D. materials are still, to this day, quite organized. I want my homeschool life to be so organized, and I am working on putting together the planner to end all planners in order to achieve such an organizational standard. It will also incorporate household chores and schedules. Our family has to have a schedule. There are just too many of us. When I finally have this masterpiece compiled (I am shooting for one week from today), it will be bound by my new best friend - the GBC C110 Combbinder. I just got this on Saturday (long story short - I asked Principal for a Pro-Click P50 for Christmas. It can be had for under $50, and seems to be the preferred binder of choice among the TOG Loose Thread moms, but Principal, being Principal, made the point that if we plan to use this bad boy for the next 15 or so years, we may as well get one that can take the heat, rather than one that is likely to crack under pressure. Hence, I now own something 10 times the size of the Pro-Click and am wondering where to store it. On the plus size, I can knock an intruder senseless -- and then bind his court papers for him!). I have already used it to make alphabet coloring books for the twins, T's TOG SAP book, and N's All About Me book (he's in strange limbo-land between K and 1st grade. He does 1st grade academics, but K level activities, like All About Me and calendar. When people ask what grade he's in, neither he nor I know what to say...).I guess that's it from the Salve Regina Homeschool Academy. We're still finding our groove. We did work all summer, but we're hitting a new stride since we started our Fall semester. I feel very blessed to be doing what I am doing!

Compesce Mentem  

Posted by: Laura Delgado

Aug. 19th, 2008 at 1:30 PM
Words to live by. Unfortunately, I fail far more often than I succeed. I liken myself to an alcoholic and I count the number of days (okay, hours...okay minutes) that I can stay on the wagon. The numbers are not encouraging. Still, as I point out to my kids, there has only been one perfect person, and my initials are not JC. A temper is a terrible cross, though, especially because it leaves a long legacy. I veer dangerously close to personal drivel, which I have sworn off in blog-world. My real point is this: I have had the question posed to me numerous times, "how do you homeschool when your children are so young? How do you teach all of them at the same time when they are studying different things, and none of them is a completely independent learner?" Quite simply, in the following manner:The Schedule: We convene in the schoolroom (it was once a dining room but is completely unrecognizable as such now) and begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Morning Offering, a patriotic song (currently My Country 'Tis of Thee), and Calendar Time (I do have 3 very young ones!). Afterward, T and N immediately begin to work on handwriting, an independent activity. I set Twins up with their activity of the day (it doesn't take much effort - my philosophy on preschool has not changed just because I'm homeschooling: they're 3 - they don't have to go to school. They can do it if it's fun, but it's strictly optional for them at this point). N and T finish handwriting and both move to Math. T is fairly independent with Math at this point, as by level 5/4, Saxon is unscripted, and is directed toward the student. I am completely at her disposal if she has questions, but this early in the year, it is still review. I work with N on Math (which Twins pay avid attention to and often yell out answers (sometimes correct, often hilarious)). While T is still on Math, N and I move to Spelling. As N and I are finishing Spelling, T is working on Latin, again something she can do mostly herself, after we have gone over initial pronounciations (it is her 3rd year of Latin). When N is done with Spelling, we do Language, a very short lesson designed for exposure, rather than mastery (it's proving very effective thus far, though! More kudos to Jessie Wise and the Well Trained Mind!). Once freed from captivity, N makes a run for it. Twins have long since bolted. Elapsed time since the Pledge, usually about 1 hour and 45 minutes or so.Now it's T time. She is finishing Latin. If she needs assistance, we work on it. If not, it's her turn for Spelling. The materials are still out from N's turn (as previously indicated, they're on different levels, but the materials used are the same), so this makes sense. Spelling is very quick and easy because we're still at a point where she is basically learning rules for spelling words that she already knows how to spell. Did you know that there are no less than four separate functions of silent "e"? After spelling, we do T's Language, which she absolutely loves. That girl could diagram all day. Terms like direct object and predicate nominative bring just as big a smile to her face as to Mom's. God was good to give me T for a daughter. After Language, we have options. Today she worked on her Geography definitions for her TOG lapbook for Unit 1, and then we read Science and worked on that lapbook some. Break for lunch and rest.Chores.TOG reading and activity (lapbook or craft - later this week we'll be making a cookie dough map of Egypt)N's PhonicsTwins reading (just for fun)Outside (if it's not so hot that the sun burns on contact) or TV time while Mom cooks dinnerPrincipal comes homeThat's pretty much a standard day at our house. Very little varies, and I love it when very little varies. I thrive on consistency. The only change will be in a couple of weeks when ballet and T-ball start. The evenings will become slightly consumed, which *I* don't love, but the kids do, and that's much more important.

magna est vis consuetudinis  

Posted by: Laura Delgado in , ,

...but we're still working on it! I love Tapestry of Grace, but it is so time and labor intensive, maybe even more so because T is only 7. I have her doing UG, because I consider her 3rd grade, but I have to keep reminding myself that she has the maturity of a 2nd grader. We are definitely not doing the full TOG program, but we're still getting so much out of it. I am confident that we will continue to get even more mileage out of it as we progress. I love how it merges OT history with Egyptian history with geography and literature. If only there was a Catholic program that did such a great job. If only I had nothing else to do, I would create one. Sometimes I wonder if that's the reason that I got a Ph.D. - to give such ventures the necessary credibility.MC and M started working on Getting Ready for the Code again today, and this time they were prepared for it. I think it was probably January when I started them on the series, and they just weren't ready. Now, though, they are definitely ready, and they loved it. They usually like to work for about 45 minutes in the morning when we first begin school, and the Code, either with or with HWOT and scissor practice, is just about right.Today we begin after school activities again, and I have to admit that I'm not really looking forward to them. T is taking jazz for the first time, which means that her dance classes are now 1 1/2 hours long, which is a long time to entertain 3 younger children. We can do phonics during dance, but it only occupies a short portion of the time. They will bring some of the activity books that I have made for them, and we'll see how that goes. MC starts dance tomorrow morning, and T has choir practice after that. The boys will start T-ball in a few weeks. Things are starting to hum. I don't know where the time goes.I am using the Homeschool Tracker to keep track of what we do each day (a method that I use instead of formal lesson planning - at this age I find it so much easier. We do essentially the same things every day; I don't actually need to write down what we're going to do, as I pretty much know. What I do need to write down is what actually got done each day, mostly for my own record keeping purposes). I just love this wonderful free software, which can be found here: http://www.homeschooltracker.com/default.aspx What this software does is just amazing. I don't have need of the features in the "plus" version right now, but as my kids get older, I may very well upgrade. Organization remains my biggest challenge in my homeschool life, as in my personal life. Some people would be amazed at my level of organization, but for a person with CDO (OCD, but with the letters in alphabetical order as they should be), things are never as they should be, and so I continue to struggle. I use the Homeschool Tracker for homeschool things, and I would be lost without http://www.cozi.com to schedule our family life, but I remain at heart a Luddite, and so I need a pencil and paper organizer as well. Cobbling together that behemoth is a task that I hope to finish this week. My dear friend the comb binder will bind it so that I can add and remove pages at will, which will no doubt happen on a routine basis.One more quick kudo to a site that I love: http://www.schoolexpress.com/ has many nifty workbooks that are terrific for my twinners. Again, the old binding machine turns them into bona fide workbooks, which makes the twins feel special, and which frees me to teach the older two. Because of all of the printing that I do (to justify the purchase of the binding machine, of course, in my backwardly logical mind), we bought a printer just for my schoolroom computer - a $30 HP inkjet that can really crank out the pages and doesn't suck up the ink the way my multi-function Epson (on the study computer) does. It sits at my feet and is so quiet that I can have it working the whole time that I am teaching. Did I say that I was a Luddite? Hmmm....I may have to reevaluate that one. I am not proud of my attachment to things. Granted, it really only extends to things related to school (well, and crossword puzzle books, but I can make the connection if you press me!), but it is still not very holy.Speaking of holy, one last note. I have been seeking a Bible study for some time. Introverted loner that I am (and, okay, time constraints play a role), I wanted one that I could do by myself, and I found one on the internet (http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/) that I think fits the bill. It is Catholic (obviously), and seems to be exactly what I was seeking. I don't really want to start from ground zero, because I have a very good foundation, with a minor in Theology, but I think that this will work. I am waiting on my Douay-Rheims Bible, and then I'll start. I wish that I could get the original DR Bible, but I don't have that kind of money. I realize that I am essentially getting a Catholic KJR, but I have to stay as close to the original word choice as possible in order for word study to be in any way meaningful. My goal is to go through this study, and then to focus on certain books with Scott Hahn's studies.Time to head off to T's dance. I have to pack that activity bag nice and full...