Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do You Speak English?

All we've been speaking lately is English. It has just been easier. I decided to raise my children bilingually because I wanted them to have the advantages that brings and also so that I'd have someone to talk to in my select languages as I like to study foreign languages as a hobby. But raising a child bilingually when you aren't a native to the language is harder than I'd anticipated. I don't have the ingrained "baby language" that I would if I'd been raised speaking German. I don't know how to call a toilet anything but it's proper name (and a few names that I can't use with a baby!) and I don't know if a baby has an "owie" or "boo boo".

In a way this might be good. Everyone has read the numerous studies and articles about baby talk holding children back. The new trend is to speak to a child as if they are your forty-five year old colleague instead of a new soul trying to figure out a strange world. So the fact that I can't babble baby talk to my children is actually a plus in this department. But it holds me back when I want to coo sweet nothings into my baby's ear or softly soothe my toddler in "mommy" words.

So after I had the new baby and I was so tired I couldn't even bother dressing myself each day, it didn't seem like such a big issue to let German slide for awhile. I figured that it would be easy enough to pick back up once I could remember how to spell my own name. Now over a month has passed and a recent conversation with my oldest made me realize that we've hit a low point.

Fin: Mama, what are you doing?
Me: Feeding the baby. What are you doing?
Fin: I'm playing with my toys. (fidgets around) Can.... MAY I have a glass of water, please?
Me: Sure.

Now, this would normally be a nice conversation. He self-corrected to say "may" instead of "can" and he even said "please". However, after I handed him the glass of water and he thanked me, I realized that not one word of German passed his lips. I tried to think over our recent conversations and couldn't remember when we'd last spoken in German. All of our recent books and songs have been communicated in English. We haven't even watched any German DVDs.

I'm now having to expend more energy trying to get back into the groove of speaking German. I often forget to speak it myself, when I'm in a hurry English is just at the tip of my tongue while German is slower to surface.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Back to School Shopping

Last year I hit up the back to school sales. I'm not sure how much I bought but I know that every time I ran errands I picked up at least $5 of crayons (when they were at the most twenty cents per twenty-four pack) and a few packs of paper (on sale for thirty cents per pack). I ran out of money before I felt even near stocked up. My mom and husband laughed at me when I expressed dismay at not getting enough supplies for the year. They saw the overfilled shelves in my storage closet and thought that there was no way I'd run out of supplies before the next sale in July.

I ran out of paper in two months. A week ago I pulled out the last box of crayons.

So this year I'm making a plan and budget. So far I'm thinking of this:

  • $30 of crayons. They usually go on sale for twenty cents for a 24 pack, with some places going into the teens. This will give me two packs a week with a little wiggle room.
  • $30 of paper. Lined, college-ruled paper was on sale for thirty cents per pack last year. I'm probably going to have to spend more than this, closer to $50, as I'll need to get blank drawing paper and kindergarten ruled paper as well.
  • $50 art supplies. Glue, paint, scissors, and other miscellaneous items fall into this category.
I get many of our books from the library or the discount bookstore. I have to spend full price on German books unless I can get my cousin to send some to me. I'm really liking ABC Kinderladen right now. Their prices are high but their shipping is low. I recently priced a DVD I want to get the boys from them and I'll spend about $26 including taxes and shipping. Pretty good for a German DVD.

One of the other things I need to budget in is year passes to things for the children. The zoo, the children's museum, science museum, and a couple others. In a perfect world I'd buy a membership to the two major zoos in our area as one is wonderful and huge but it is further away and is harder to reach by public transportation and the other is smaller and not nearly as great but it is easy to reach without having to use a car.

At the suggestion of a fellow homeschooling parent I tried asking for these as Christmas presents for the boys but my family loves to spoil them so we got more toys instead. So this year I'm going to ask if they'll just go in on one of the memberships (zoo probably) and then they can spend the rest of the money that they usually spend on toys.

They really are lovely toys anyway. My family makes sure to go out of their way to get toys that I approve of, not made in China (I have neither the will nor the want to haunt the recall website waiting for the next hammer to drop) toys that will spark imagination, not kill it. Last year I even went shopping with them, at their request, so that I could give my opinion on toys that weren't so clear in the bad/good category.

Well, I hope that this entry makes sense as I'm operating on about an hour of sleep and I'm getting sick so everything is a sort of haze. Which reminds me, is there any feeling that matches the dreadful weight in one's stomach when one wakes up to a child vomiting where he stands?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two Library Comics

Having worked in the library system for years, I find things hilarious that others just don't get. If you've ever worked in a library or even just spent a good amount of time there (on the internet doesn't count!) you'll find joy in these comics as I have.

Unshelved I found this comic awhile ago and have been cracking up over it ever since.

Shelf Check Just found this comic but it looks funny so far!

Helpful Links


Booksense Find independent bookstores near you.

Booksfree The Netflix of books.

Toys and more:

Nova Natural Lots of nice toys. Kind of expensive.

Toys Made in America A list of toys that are made in America.

Three Sisters Toys A work at home mama's website.

Rainbow Turtle Family owned and operated Waldorf store.

Jomamaco Natural parenting site. Lots of cool stuff.

A Toy Garden Natural toys and more!

Funny Stuff:

I Has a Sweet Potato This is hilarious!

Do Your Best to Help:

Click to Give Hunger, breast cancer, children's health care, literacy, the rainforest, and animal rescue are all featured here. All you have to do is click a button and support is given to these things (different button for each issue). Do this daily.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Starches Only, Please!

I can't force Fin to eat. I have to accept that fact. Today I made stuffing, chicken breasts, cornbread, and carrots (boiled, yuck, but Dul likes them that way and anything that keeps me from pulling out my steamer/rice cooker combo if sushi isn't in the making keeps me happy) for lunch. I thought that at least Fin would eat the stuffing since it has a bread base but no such luck. He likes his starches simple and in a form that he can easily shovel into his mouth hence his love of cornbread.

I'm not keeping up with Library Thing very well. I've been so busy just trying to keep up with reading the books, much less cataloging them. Just realize that our book list is a couple weeks behind. I'm attempting to tag them as best I can for ease of use. So when I enter new books and I don't have time to tag, I just enter unread. Some of those books are unread and some we've read but either way they'll get new tags as soon as I get around to it or, for the ones that are truly unread, once we've read them. I'm going to slowly add reviews also probably starting with the ones we've loved and the ones we've hated.

I've taken my books out of the Library Thing account and I've started a Shelfari account for the books I read for myself. Shelfari is completely free, no need to buy a membership after 200 books added. It is also prettier and the search function seems to go faster on my pathetic dial-up connection. I usually get the book that I put in also instead of having to wade through other books that aren't even titled what I put in or just breaking down and using the ISBN to find the book. (By the way, PSA: It is not ISBN number. The "N" in ISBN stands for number. Thank you and have a nice day.)

One Child Policy Homeschool is a blog by a mom living in China and homeschooling her daughter. Be forewarned, it is hosted by the evil Homeschool Blogger site (if you don't know, they support the Pearls and their abusive parenting techniques) however, don't think less of the blog for it, she is in China afterall which bans most of the other blogging sites. Anyway I've been reading it a lot lately and it has turned me on to lapbooking. I'd read about it before but this blog really put the idea into action for me.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

"Your head is beautiful!"

Dul loves his Mega Bloks. We have the big ones made for toddlers and also some smaller ones that are made for older kids. He spends hours every day playing with the blocks, designing different things. A few days ago he made a helicopter with no help from anyone and just from his imagination. You could tell what it was by looking at it and it even had a non-working propeller. The boy loves to build.

So today he was building while I was nursing the baby and came in with a couple pieces.

"Mama, look!"
"Oh, that's nice!"
"Yeah." He looked at the pieces with pride and stroked them lovingly.
"I really like those, Dul"
"Yeah, Mama. I made this myself!"
"You made that yourself? That is great!"
"Yeah, Mama."
"That is really nice, Dul. That is beautiful."
"Yeah, Mama, it is beautiful! And your head is beautiful!"

Got to love that little boy!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Making Some Worksheets, Perhaps for My "Display Line"?

The week is half over! I hate kindergarten workbooks. The directions are idiotic and yet written out as if the child should be reading the one reading them. Circle this, underline this, write that, count those... Blah blah blah WASTE OF TIME blah. I believe I'm going to start making some worksheets online and just printing them out rather than continue wasting time on this refuse.

The Math Worksheet Site is where you can make individualized worksheets. You can also make answer keys if you like.

Tracer Pages from Kidzone makes tracer pages for you which is great for improving handwriting. You can make blank pages or include a theme which is a great time saver so you don't have to go digging through your clip art to decorate a holiday themed word list.

Handwriting Worksheets is another tracer page. This one has no themes included and really isn't that outstanding but it is just another option. I like having alternatives to my most useful sites in case the site I've chosen is taken down for one reason or another.

Worksheets form Homeschooling Adventures is a big list of links to worksheet pages, many ready made. Each link is given a small explanation to save you clicks.

In a fit of frugality I decided that I would start line drying all my clothing. The only problem with this is the fact that I live in an apartment. I quickly decided that I could put a line up in my "dining room" (no actual dining table resides there, basically it is the kids' playroom) and dry my clothes there. I rationalized that there is a ceiling fan in that room which would hasten the drying process. One load and many execrations later I concluded that my decision was one founded in pure stupidity and gave up the idea. I'd screwed the line into the wall and as I was angry I didn't take it down that day. When my husband came home and saw the line I didn't want to admit my mistake so I quickly proclaimed it my new "display line". I told him that I'd hand the children's paintings to dry and display on the line. He looked at me dubiously but didn't contest the idea and so the line has remained. He did find out the line's original purpose as I couldn't admit defeat after just one try and once again attempted to hang a load of clothing up and enlisted his help. The load took three days to dry.

The line does serve a lovely purpose now. I've hung up the boys' learning posters on the line and it will serve nicely when I gather the courage to allow the boys to paint.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Beginning a Formal Education

I forgot my password to Library Thing so I had to start a new account. Lesson learned: Always add an email address even if you don't want to so that you can retrieve your forgotten passwords when needed. Or at least let Firefox remember your passwords for ease of use.

Making a new account reminded me that I hadn't updated to a lifetime account yet. If this were just something for myself I wouldn't have done it but because I'm using it to keep track of information for home schooling I went ahead and upgraded. Now I can add as many books as I like. That's great because we've already reached the limit of 200 books that the free accounts get. I've been keeping track on my computer and haven't gotten around to adding the books to Library Thing but I'll do that in the next few days.

I'm debating buying Singapore Math for Fin and Dul to begin a math program. Singapore is cheap and I've heard great things about it.

This Monday Fin and I are beginning kindergarten. We've done some warm up but I've gathered enough of my basic curriculum to go ahead and get serious. It will still be very relaxed, I'm just adding a little sit down work in English and math. Right now we're using various math workbooks that I've bought over the years for the math. For English we're using Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading . Dul and I will be starting at the beginning, Fin is beginning to read so we'll skip the first few lessons that would surely bore him and we'll get started with the lessons that start teaching words.

With the rate that Fin is progressing right now I'll take a guess and say that we'll start the first grade materials this winter when he turns five. Of course, everything will be entirely at his pace so it may be earlier or later than that. I've chosen to take an eclectic Classical approach. Traditionally that would mean that I'd teach a classic language (Latin or Greek are the most popular) as the kids' foreign language. That presents itself as a problem as I've already made the decision to help my children be bilingual at the least. Because of that I've decided to put off the classic language until later years. I'm teaching the kids to read and write in English first. First grade will bring German reading/writing and after that will be Spanish. I also think that Mandarin or Japanese (I'll let each child choose between the two) writing should come before the classic language so we're looking at introducing it closer to middle school than elementary. I may just skip it entirely but I'm not going to make a formal decision on that now.