Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Light Bulb Over His Head...

...lit up at the perfect time!

I started homeschooling our three-year-old boy yesterday in earnest. I am making up my own preschool curriculum. First and foremost, because it's free. Secondly, because I don't think he'd be happy doing tons of premade worksheets that I'd feel necessary for him to do simply because I bought a curriculum. Thirdly, I've taught preschool for many years, so I already know a basic skeleton curriculum from past experience. There are gobs of free homeschooling worksheets and lesson plans available on the Internet.

**NOTE: We are planning to purchase actual school curriculums once our kids start kindergarten. At this point we'll probably use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum. The state where we live has all the grade-level standards for each subject accessible from a website, so I can constantly check back to see if what I'm teaching them matches our state's benchmarks. We don't know how long we'll actually homeschool. At this point our plan is at least through elementary school. Honey would like for the boys to possibly attend public or Christian middle schools and high schools, depending on what school zone we live in. But that's several years away, and we have lots of time to make a firmer decision.**

Yesterday in school I introduced the number "zero." I firmly believe that young kids need to know the concept of zero, and it's not taught early enough. My son sorta-kinda got the idea of zero yesterday, but I wasn't too worried because we'll be working on the number zero all week.

Today, He GOT it! He totally understood that zero means "all gone, nothing left." The funny thing is, he didn't really "get it" until he started playing alone.

To introduce the concept yesterday, I put a few Cheerios on a piece of paper that I had drawn large circles on. I put a few into each circle but one. When I asked which circle had "zero" Cheerios, which circle had "nothing, all gone," he sort of understood, but I could tell that he wasn't really jiving with it.

Today, I gave him his Barrel of Monkeys and the same five empty circles on a piece of paper. Today he made up his own "which circle has zero" game, and asked me to play. When I'd purposefully pick the wrong circle, he'd correct me. He's definitely a tactile learner.

Yesterday we started a weekly memory verse. This week's verse is "I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14." We sang it, said it, repeated it, clapped to it, etc. We sang it when we were playing outside, and we said it at the dinner table. Today, as I was cleaning up after lunch, he was playing in the living room with his little brother. I overheard him recite that memory verse perfectly, word-for-word to his little brother. I'm tellin' ya, hearing him say that verse by himself brought me more joy than I can describe.

Okay, enough bragging about my older boy. My "baby" has learned some pretty nifty stuff lately too. At 20 months old, he knows these body parts: nose, ears, mouth, hair, hands, tummy, and feet. When Honey leaves for school, our son will say, "Bye bye. Be careful! See you!" He can say his brother's and sister's names. He knows that a dog says "woof" and a cat says "meow." But of course, his two all-time favorite words are "no!" and "mine!" If he sees a camera, he smiles and says "cheese!"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Funny From My Son

Earlier today, I was reading a book about a baby kangaroo. At the end, I said, "Kangaroos like to hop."

My three year old son replied, "So do little boys!"

(Can't argue with that!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

School Lunch Police

Please read this article and tell me what you think:

Preschooler's Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria "Nuggets"

I'm just beyond words.

Do you think the girl's homemade lunch was not nutritious? Was the State Agent who inspected the kids' lunches within bounds to remove the homemade lunch?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Sweet Justice" or, "It All Works Out"

Honey (and I) despise doing group projects in a school or work setting. It seems like every group we've ever been a part of, one person (ie: Honey, or I) does all the work, while the rest of the group (ie: slackers) do nothing, but are happy to take the good grade off of the actual workers' coattails. (Can you sense some bitterness here? Hang on, it'll get better soon, I promise.)

This semester is no different. Honey had a HUGE group project in his Human Resources class. He was given 16 different job titles, and his assignment was to make a heirarchy system for these job titles, construct a job description, as well as categorize them into "offices" and construct a merit-based method for pay and promotion. It was a huge undertaking, and as usual, Honey got absolutely NO feedback from the other members of his group. So, as with most group projects, Honey did it all by himself. He e-mailed his work to the other members of the group for their opinions, but they all said, "Let's turn it in like that, it looks great." No ideas for improvements, no opinions, nada, zilch.

Honey did HOURS of work on this assignment. Not only did he do the actual work, but he constructed a super-complicated spreadsheet and used mathematical formulas for how to rate/promote/pay these job titles. It was a pretty extensive "what if" formula-type of spreadsheet, and I was beyond impressed!

Now enter another group in Honey's class, who had one classmate who was trying to get the assignment done with no help from his group members. The day before the assignment was due, this classmate was still at a loss for how to tackle this project. Honey, who was either incredibly naive or...well, out of his mind...gave a copy of his work to his classmate so he could get an idea for how to start. Honey had NO INTENTION for this classmate to claim any of that work for his own. Well, you can probably figure out that this is just what that classmate did. (*spitting on the keyboard with disdain...*)

Of course the professor noticed several uncanny similarities between Honey's group's work and the classmates' work, and rightfully gave all the members of both groups a grade of "ZERO" on the project. You can imagine my Honey was irate beyond words!!

Honey printed off anything and everything showing the history of him doing the actual work. The work was submitted via a computer platform (similar to the Blackboard program, if you're familiar with that), so Honey had proof that he had turned in work on certain days far before the assignment was due. He also had a copy of the e-mail he sent to his lyin', cheatin' classmate offering to see the work he'd done as a brainstorm, NOT to copy for himself. He typed up a memo to his professor asking him to reconsider the "ZERO" grade for his group. He made reference to the college's Academic Integrity Policy, which specifically states that sharing work for collaborative purposes is not only accepted but encouraged. (It's the sharing of work with the intention to turn it in as your own that is prohibited, but Honey didn't do that.)

Honey thought that if the professor didn't believe his side of the story, he would bring out the Excel chart with all the formulas he constructed. He'd be able to explain what they were and how to use them...He was almost 100% certain that no other member of the class could even tell what those formulas were in the first place, let alone how to create them. He was ready to defend himself with an appeal to the Business Department Head if necessary.

Common sense prevailed, because the professor believed Honey's memo and "paper trail," and he changed Honey's group grade to 100%. How great is that!

Honey learned a valuable lesson, though: It's a dog eat dog world, and he's not going to be so charitable with sharing ideas in the future.

After Honey resolved the issue with his professor, he overheard some of the other group's members talkin' "smack" about their grade being a ZERO. Honey politely walked up to them and said, "If you all had done the assignment, you'd be able to reproduce it without much effort. But it was MY work you turned in, not your own. Since you didn't do any of the assignment, you got the grade you deserve."

I'm sure he walked away with a smirky, but victorious smile.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lymph Node Update, and Pizza!

Our doctor decided not to send my son to an oncologist after all. Instead, we are going to the ENT Clinic on the military base. He has an appointment on March 5, so hopefully we'll have some more answers then.

Honey thinks the knots are shrinking, but I think they're about the same. So we'll see!

Last night I thought of a great Valentine's idea! I made whole-wheat pepperoni and pineapple pizzas shaped like hearts:

When my daughter saw them, she said, "Oh, how cute! I saw those on Pinterest too!" She burst my bubble--I have never been on the Pinterest site (shocking, I know!), but I guess I wasn't so creative and orginal after all, LOL. Bummer.

On an unrelated note, I am starting "for real" on our homeschooling next month. But we live in a small house, so our dining room/computer room has now become the dining room/computer room/classroom. Honey just calls it the "multipurpose room." Here's our calendar and number chart, right over the dining room table:

The only drawback I see so far to homeschooling is that I sometimes wonder if my three year old might need some speech therapy in the future. That's something I am soooo not trained in, so I've had to do some Internet research. My son just turned three last month, but I wonder if he might benefit from some sort of speech therapy.

Here's a video of him singing "Three Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree":


He tends to be a lazy talker, skipping over the "boring" words to get to the fun, juicy words. He also cannot say his "k" or "g" sounds. Most sites I've researched say that the muscles required to make those sounds sometimes don't develop until around 3 1/2. So I shouldn't really worry until he's 4. He also can't say his "r" sound, but that's a muscle that sometimes doesn't develop until age 7. Personally, I had trouble with the "r" sound as a kid. My parents had all sorts of fun at my expense, laughing it up whenever I tried to say "world." (It really was funny, though.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Friendly Bit of Valentine's Day Advice

A former neighbor once told me that her husband came home from work one Valentine's Day and chimed, "Happy Valentine's Day, Dear. Here's a couple of bucks so you can pick out a nice card for yourself."

She just about decked him.

**Guys, please don't do that. Never. Ever. Just sayin'...**

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My new favorite way to cook brown rice

Someone suggested in the comments section over at 100 Days of Real Food that Alton Brown's method of baking brown rice turned out really soft--not chewy--, so her white-rice-lovin'-brown-rice-hatin' family actually enjoyed it.

I like brown rice, but I was under the assumption that Honey did not. Several months ago, I cooked brown rice (on the stove top), and he mentioned that the texture of brown rice reminded him of eating mosquito wings.


Well, silly me, I interpreted that statement to mean he didn't like brown rice. So I didn't make brown rice again for a while.

Recently, we were running out of white rice, but I had a decent amount of brown rice in my pantry. So when I read about how to bake brown rice, I decided to give it a try.

Honey liked it, and he informed me, "I never told you I didn't like brown rice!"

I reminded him of his mosquito wings comment, to which he replied, "But that doesn't mean I don't like it! And by the way...you remember I said that?! What else do you remember I ever said from 20 years ago?!"

Sometimes he can be real snarky.

So, from now on, I am going to bake my brown rice. Here's the recipe, thanks to Alton Brown:

Baked Brown Rice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a glass 9 X 9 dish (or similar size, I use 7 X 11) put 1.5 cups of dry brown rice. Add 2.5 cups of boiling water. Stir in about 1 Tablespoon oil. Cover, and bake for 1 hour. Let sit for a few minutes, then carefully remove cover (there will be a lot of steam). Fluff and serve.

That was the basic recipe. I "personalized" mine to use chicken stock instead of water. I also add in a bunch of yummy herbs and spices. I use minced onion, onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. I test whether or not I need to add salt right before serving.

Now that I've made brown rice this way a few times, my brown rice supply is getting low. Last night I only had 1 cup of dry rice, so I added 1/2 cup whole wheat orzo too. It was just as tasty.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Enlarged Lymph Nodes

My littlest son, you know--the one with the duplex kidney, the one who swallowed the straight pin, the one who threw up for a straight week when the rest of our family had a much less severe stomach bug--yeah, that son, has had a knot in his neck lymph node since before Christmas.

I am not a panicky mom, so I wasn't overly concerned when Honey felt the knot in our son's neck. I just mentioned that he was probably fighting a virus, and we should keep an eye on it.

The swelling didn't go down, though. It's been almost two months since we first felt the lump. I took him to the doctor about ten days ago, and he felt several hard lumps in my son's neck. The doctor ran some labs and ordered a chest x-ray. Everything came back normal, though. No Epstein-Barr, no cat scratch fever, nothing out of the ordinary.

I took him to the doctor this morning for a follow-up. His lymph nodes have even more knots in them now, plus the lymph nodes in his groin now have a few knots in them too!

Now I'm getting worried. The doctor told me that my son is NOT acting like he has any sort of cancer or lymphoma, but he's sending us to a pediatric oncologist for a biopsy just to be sure. If we rule out anything cancerous, we can take our time figuring out exactly what is causing the knots. We'll go to an ENT if necessary.

Please pray for three things: 1) that my son does NOT have cancer, 2) that the doctors can figure out what IS causing these knots in his lymph nodes, and 3) that I won't go insane during the wait. My imagination has already gone pretty overboard just in the two hours since our doctor's visit.

Thank you for any prayers you can think to pray for us!