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Archive for February, 2008

MIT offers free courses.....

February 28th, 2008 at 05:36 pm

My father found this link for me, it will be a time before I need it (GMC isn't that far ahead!) but I thought I would share.

free online course materials

There are so many options for learning out there, but most parents feel their only options are public private or home alone....

Homeschooling doesn't have to be 'mom/dad schooling'! We need a better name for it.....

Smoking might cost you ebay sales

February 26th, 2008 at 08:56 pm

I just bought a book off ebay for my sons next math adventure...it smelled like smoke so bad I immediately stuck it out in the garage. Two weeks later I still cannot walk past it without gagging.

Now I was stupid to buy a book without checking, I wont be making that mistake twice. The next book has to come from a smoke free home, or I am not buying it.

No I don't like pizza...

February 25th, 2008 at 06:09 pm

I really don't, while others find pizza a wonderful treat, I find it tolerable at the best of times, and down right disgusting at the worst.

The kids Pizza hut book it coupons are becoming the bane of my existence! I hate pizza!

Last night we used up January's (they expire the month after you receive them..so we were running out of time) After complaining once or twice to my husband..he has been on a pizza bagel kick..making pizza a bi weekly event!

Today there is a knock at my door, some guy from some local pizza place is giving away coupons for pizza..well I am sure there was a catch..but still, when he asked if I liked pizza I told him I didn't want to see another pizza for a month!

Poor guy.

I for one will be spending my 'rebate' tax check...

February 23rd, 2008 at 04:24 pm

Yep you heard me, every last cent of that check will be spent. I don't even know how much it will be, but I assure you it will be spent.

On this baby Smile The delivery of that is. No fancy crib, or toys, or clothes...We will be sending the entire check off to the midwife prolly right when it arrives.

So do you think I get bonus points for being a 'consumer' or doesn't it count since I am buying a service not products?

10 things I learned from teaching

February 22nd, 2008 at 06:02 pm

I actually learned much more than 10 things, but it would take to long to list them all (did you know Raul Amundsen was the first to reach the south pole?)

So here are my quickest 10 in no particular order.

10. Brains are muscles..use 'em or lose em'..but please don't abuse them. When offered new knowledge children pick up on it..when drilled constantly the brain seems to stop functioning..much like a 'Charley horse'. When the brain is not stimulated, some children have enough drive to learn something, anything they can, much like some figity children refuse to stop using their arms or legs..but many simply start to lose the ability to learn. Use it or lose it, but don't abuse it.

9. The best 'manipulative's' are free. Many top rate math programs offer a 'manipulative pack' that includes all sorts of toys to practice math skills, most are useful, and most can be duplicated in the home with simple household supplies or toys. Duplos and Legos are great for counting and building patterns... Any old shape sorter works...'magnetic' building sets are awesome for making solids (pyramids, tetrahedrons) and many online sites offer free printable patterns to cut and build.

8. Off the shelf store books are not all bad, but none offer the complete coverage of a full year program. I have bought several and the kids enjoy the 'fluff' pretty pictures with the reviews, but they will never equal a full program. (combined with online free sheets, and your own games though they work fine)

7. Online worksheets come in many varieties, with and without fluff, with and without progression, with and without answers. Never stop looking, more can be found around the next link.

6. Free test prep sites generally begin around grade 4..so if you live in a state with mandatory testing that begins before that point you may have to pay for a program that has standardized style questions..or not care. (after all so long as you know they are learning and the state wont penalize you..why worry?)..one other note on Standardized tests..they are often a vocabulary test..make sure you use a variety of phrases to ask your questions...'greatest number, largest amount'...or difference, take away, subtract, minus...Also try to ask questions in multiple patterns..what does an A say..what sound does an A make, which letter says /a/, etc.

5. Not all children have the same brain... I have taught many reading wizards who found math hard, and many math wizards who found reading hard. Plus those who found everything hard, and those who found everything easy, not to mention many in between. I have had a very wide spectrum of children in my years of teaching..and still bet there are other types to encounter! Learn what makes them tick and teach to their strengths....

4. Multi level learning has it's place. And that place is NOT all the time. For the most part hearing information over your head is a good 'prep' for when you will need to learn it. It makes a layer, and learning is often built layer upon layer. However, some skills are confusing when learned to early. So I try to save some lessons..For example, my youngest is learning to count by ones to 10..yesterday he pointed to a picture of bacteria and said '1, 2, 4, 8'..which IS how the bacteria double, but NOT how I want him counting his toys! Not that it will ruin him for life, he has time, but the bacteria book may have been better saved for when he was napping.

3. Dump the standards out the window. I fail at this, I have high standards. But I am learning to dump the standards and take each skill for each child at face value and simply build on it, not try to make all of them match. The 'teacher' part of me desperately wants to 'pull up' the lower levels...my son for example has a 3 year spread between his math and handwriting/spelling. But the truth is, he is ready to leap ahead in math, and barely able to keep up with writing. And that is OK...he finds math easy, writing not so much. There is no reason to hold his math fun back just because he still prints (and prints lousy at that!).

2. Knowing how to do something, and consistently doing it are two different things. Math is a perfect example, home schoolers routinely test off the charts in comprehension. But only average in 'computation' either we give them calculators to early, or they simple lack the 'drill' time. I aim to avoid this by not allowing my kid a calculator Smile. But I still find it a shock that he can 'talk' thru what to do and yet still gets one or two 'computation' mistakes each day....

1. Never compare two kids..ok fine so some comparison can be a good thing..knowing that the average age of walking and talking is one might inspire a parent to provide more opportunities to walk and talk. For the most part though comparisons only serve to make one kid look good and the other bad. Which is useless in learning. Knowing that my youngest is still not up to what his brother and sister were doing at his age is NOT helping him learn. He is moving at the pace he finds comfortable. Drilling him to catch up wont help. by the same token looking at my oldest saying he is way ahead of most of his peers might encourage me to stop seeking new things for him..which would be just as wrong. Do check that your kid is performing enough to not worry about 'extra' help (speech therapy can do wonders, as can a math specialist, or reading tutor) but don't worry about trying to make your kids match a perfect ideal..there is none..kids are all different.

We saw the lunar eclipse!

February 21st, 2008 at 04:51 pm

I actually remembered. In fact we woke the kids up to see. JC remembers and thought it was cool, GMC has absolutely no memory of waking up to see it at all! (UE we didn't wake up)

We actually woke them up about 10pm..right when the moon was almost gone...my husband and I peeked a couple times thru the night, but we thought we would let the kids see it, right before I went to bed.

The next one I think I read wont occur till 2010..so we figured last chance for a good long while.

I so have to start writing down my todo list...

February 20th, 2008 at 05:40 pm

Last night I thought of several things I needed to do for scouts, and a cool blog post topic..nothing spectacular but still, it was a thought.

Today..nothing.

Not a clue.

Is it cheaper to go to a dentist every 6 months or to wait for pain?

February 19th, 2008 at 06:44 pm

I am wondering this, now for the sake of keeping my teeth I vote dentist every 6 months (plus home care) But to tell the truth, I am not sure it is financially better.

A root canal and fillings are expensive...but so are x rays and cleanings.

Different dentists charge different amounts bu having researched price recently the average for a root canal is 1000..plus a crown at 1300 (why does it cost more to make em pretty than to clean em out?)

a checkup (with x rays) costs between 2 and 3 hundred...two a year is 400 to 600 a year.

And no guarantee having regular checkups will remove the need for a root canal!

So I am not sure teeth really follow the 'cheaper to maintain than fix' rule....

lower dues..buys less

February 18th, 2008 at 07:08 pm

Would you prefer a lower dues that buys less...items you could find for less yourself. Or higher dues that covers it all no work?

I picked lower..in this case for a Cub scout pack. I have the books for ALL the years and I have several neckerchiefs (got one free too) plus a shirt that fits fine. I see no reason to pay a large fee for someone else to buy me a shirt, book, and neckerchief I don't need....

The plan for the new year is to charge just the BSA and pack required fees. That means any extras will have to be earned by fund raisers or donations, or skipped. I hope it works out as well as planned.

We also decided to start dues from the boys..we want the boys to be able to take some responsibility for covering the cost of the supplies and such, but the real cost is too high for a kid (11 and under) so we decided to basically split it. registration fee from parents, dues of 50 cents from boys (per week) I figure between one and 5 chores a week aught to pay for that, and you don't have to work for just mom and dad..Aunts Uncles Grandmas, neighbors, I am sure someone will be able to trade dishes, or some raking/carrying for some loot.

What financial information do I need?

February 16th, 2008 at 06:56 pm

Our Pack has no records of what money came in or what went out. So I am scrambling to find what is availible and what we should keep in a spread sheet (I would prefer emailable spreadsheet over hand written info.)

but the number one problem is that no one has a free pack record sheet, and I am not willing to pay for one. I just want to know what one would look like so I can make it.

There are great den record sheets to keep track of which boy earned which award and was present when. One free (if you have a den and a computer you should really use it!)

but nothing for the financial end...I would think BSA would want to make one..having finances is order is pretty important to keep a pack running..and keep us paying BSA.

I know I need to know what money came in and what went out. But I also need to know which boy (family) paid for money in..so I can look at a boy individually.

How much could it cost anyway?

February 16th, 2008 at 01:19 am

In planning some summer cub activities I thought we could do a 'cub Olympics' to tie in with the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics.

While everyone is enthusiastic, one asked if I thought the pack could afford it...well, how much can it cost? We aren't doing much..just a few events that all only require space, adults helping, and boys willing. Those are all free.

We do want to do a picnic..but I don't want that to run much at all...if not pure potluck...I would like to have burgers or dogs and potluck sides, but if we can't we can't.

WE also would like to do shirts...but the pack will not pay for them (that isn't meanness, we have no money)..it would either be bought by parents or donated...hoping with iron on transfers we can have parents donate the shirts and a parent or two donate the iron ons (though I need to do more research on cost for that.)..then all we have to do is pass out the iron ons and let the parents fix em up...if not, no shirts, period.

So basically free...

Am I missing an expense somewhere?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

February 14th, 2008 at 08:57 pm

That is a frequent question asked of children..easily answered by most small fry...avoided by most teens..why is that? Is it the feeling of being locked in? at 5 there is 'eons' of time before you will start to narrow your training to your chosen career...at 15 schools are starting to push you into courses based on your answers..and the question is more like a test than a fun practice in imagination!

While I do think it is an important question (and fun) I think too much hurry is put on going to college for your choice, and not enough in testing it out...

If a 5 year old says he wants to be a firefighter (my sons frequent pick, along with most other boys!)..we take em to a fire hall. Why don't we do the same with 15 year olds? They can get some info and consider the jr volunteer position (though you may need to be 16, some allow it at 14)?

If a 5 year old wants to be a Dr we get some fun books on anatomy and Drs (JCs current pick)...a 15 year old just needs different books, and may be old enough to volunteer in a hospital to get at least some idea of what it is like. Not to mention old enough to talk with a Dr or two about more details of the job (and the college necessary)

If a 5 year old says they want to be a Pastor(GMCs other pick), out come the books and dinner with the pastor, plus some consideration of service projects that mirror pastor like visits (crafts to hospital patients and shut ins)...why not the same for a 15 year old? Add in some volunteer work in Sunday school, and even ask if you can tag along for some of the pastors visits to shut ins....you will of course need the right kind of pastor.

In almost any career choice a bit of time actually doing the work helps make a huge difference in knowing if the path is right for you......or wrong.

I guarantee I would not be a teacher today if I had not had the need to volunteer in a classroom at 17 (helping family out)....I discovered the career I was avoiding was the right one for me!

Jumping straight to college when you really don't know what your chosen path is like is a recipe for disaster... one that many teens follow.

New book on the way

February 14th, 2008 at 06:24 pm

I had my husband bid on the next math book for GMC, hopefully when it gets here, I will be able to figure out a transition from one to the other. I think he said it was 6$...pretty good for a full program.

I also had a friend mention a different math program, that I may check if she meant I could borrow for JC...I do like the fluffy one she has, but I also think she needs more focus on some areas. if I can borrow it , free is always a nice price Smile

No more his and her washcloths.

February 13th, 2008 at 04:54 pm

When we first married we had both hand me down washcloths and new wedding gift washcloths.

I couldn't stand the new ones, they were pretty, but also incredibly thick...They weighed a ton when wet and didn't .. well conform to the many curves and such of the body when washing.

My husband on the other hand didn't seem to care. So I used the old ones, he used the new ones. At first I even stacked them into two separate piles. After 3 kids you know we don't go to the trouble of comparing washcloths! The other day in the shower I realized we no longer need to separate them. ALL of our washcloths are old and worn and no longer 'fluffy'.

Amazing how some changes can sneak up on you over 7 years.

How did I get suckered into this?

February 12th, 2008 at 05:56 pm

Seems I have said that before...

This time I am stuck being the committee chair for the Cub scouts. Our Cub master has taken an indefinite leave of absence, leaving lots of work needing done. The most difficult being rechartering. One of the first things I learned about rechartering is that we need to have certain positions filled to qualify as a pack...one of which is the Committee Chair. And plugging in names of adults with possible jobs, the two holes are CC and Cubmaster..so I chose CC. Better that than Cub Master! Now all we have to do is get a Cub Master.

The next hardest task is paying for the rechartering. Recharter is when you re-register for the scouts. So for every single child and adult in the pack we have to pay $11. Now that I have the work of a real scout, I don't mind so much paying to have the insurance and such of one..after all I call tons of folk to ask for field trips (reminds me I need to call about a recycle center trip) and to book hikes and such. So I figure they aught to be able to call BSA and ask if I am a real member.

If I had been in charge or at least asked an opinion when money came in for new scouts I would have 'escrowed' the amount for their recharter fee...but I wasn't asked. So there is not anywhere near the amount we need. Our 'growing pains' seem to be getting worse, not better.....

one book a smidgen to hard, one a smidgen to easy

February 11th, 2008 at 05:18 pm

So after a week of working in the new math books, I found that my sons is too easy...we are skipping lessons, but still, the book talks of adding work problems as if they are new...which is silly, for one thing GMC learned to add with word problems (Daddy asking him while doing chores or at dinner) and for another thing...this is his 3rd (?) year of math worksheets...in three years you don't think we covered word problems a time or two?

Then there is my daughters book, it is a smidgen to hard...the topics covered are fine, just very much more in depth. for example today was writing ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, etc) which is fine, but the numbers in question were 100th, and 61st..which is slightly above her reading level. Nto enough to make her want to quit, just enough that the sheet took a long time. Over the last week several sheets have taken her longer due to that kind of more depth than she is used to.

I am not sure JCs book is a problem..so long as I supplement when it does move to fast, I think the more in depth will be good for her. GMC on the other hand...I think the newness and fun of skipping lessons as worn off into tedium of doing the same things he has been doing for three years.

So off to ebay to find a new math book. I hope the next one is as cheap as this one (his was $6 including shipping)

hand me down house

February 8th, 2008 at 05:29 pm

For some reason last night I was thinking about how our house is a product of hand me downs...

The kitchen is stocked with hand me down pots, plastic, silverware, and more. The only thing I chose were the knives (anniversary presents for several years running).

The living room we bought the Computers That is it. The bedrooms we bought some bedding, but the rest is hand me down. The bathroom 'stuff' was all gifts for our wedding or hand me downs, with few exceptions. (new shower curtains and holders).

No wonder my house looks odd, it is from a conglomeration of different people!

But on the other hand, we have enough beds dressers and more to stock a full house (and there are more hand me downs availible upon request...family with big garage space)

The reason the kids don't get to carry cash...much

February 7th, 2008 at 04:37 pm

Last night as usual we loaded up the wallets and purse with a dollar for the basket at church. (well slightly unusual being Wednesday)

Anyway, As I picked up all the coats, papers, and such, I also saw my daughters purse and grabbed it, made a check to see that everything was clean for the seats to be stacked and headed over to pick up my youngest from the nursery...I was in a hurry, but I am still pretty sure I cleared the seats.

Today..no wallet. The kid has been 'hoarding' a dollar, one of the last from his Christmas money. For several weeks now (and several trips to the store) and in the silly absentmindedness of a kid he lost it. He wanted to be a 'big boy' and be trusted to keep track of his own money...well we let him try it.

I am not replacing the wallet or the dollar, And I hope he is a bit more careful next time...JC btw asked for her purse when she got in the car..still a bit late, but GMC didn't even notice the missing wallet himself!

The things we take for granted...

February 6th, 2008 at 04:45 pm

This is actually not a financial note (though we often take for granted many luxuries, and even the simple needs)

This is about skills...grownups take so many skills for granted.

Last night when my son was getting ready for Cub scouts, he wanted to take his wallet...but he couldn't get it into his back pocket! I bet most of us put a wallet in a pocket this morning without thinking about it.

Then there is writing...I watch my two younger kids most mornings writing...I watch both the frustrations and the accomplishments. While UE has trouble figuring out why his circles always turn out like ovals...JC has trouble turning her Gs around...and GMC is just plain too lazy to make an 8 properly. Meanwhile the hardest part I had with writing today was remembering to put '08' instead of '07'.

Even reading is a skill we often take for granted, I can skim the blog headings in under a minute, deciding which to read and which to pass on, yet my son can't figure out what the first line is before I scroll past it, and he can read quite well, just not speedily. (he has tried to read over my shoulder...he seems quite pleased when he can read anything faster than I scroll!)

from washing hair to brushing teeth to eating without spilling, life is full of simple tasks that kids..for all they learn fast, still take time to grasp.

Math books are in!

February 5th, 2008 at 05:10 pm

JC loves all the pretty colors and flowers or balloons that go with all the questions (the same questions we have been talking about or doing on worksheets for months...just now with pretty colors)

Gmc just got his today, he thinks it is lacking in those pretty pictures, but when I explained how cool a text book is...you just write the answers on plain paper..and they think a good place to start is with adding! (although with some variables) he decided that was cool and wanted to do a lesson right away...I told him to at least wait till after lunch!

Gmcs book was very cheap, JCs were not, but if you average them out...not to bad Smile

Filled out the taxes

February 4th, 2008 at 04:46 pm

Good news we don't owe. Bad news..I can't make them take any less out of the check! I hear tons of folk who manage the federal withholding down to 100 or so one way or the other, but we cannot make them take less. Increasing the number of dependents doesn't help...the take nothing out of regular checks (for federal, trust me they still take medicare, and SS)

It is the OT checks they take tons out of..I guess they figure if we have over time we have more than we need...which is technically true, we don't need most of what we do...super hot showers, two phones, and plenty more. However the lovely tax system allows plenty of deductions for giving, kids, and just plain being below average income. So they give it all back. (mostly)

Oh well, could be worse...they could decide we don't deserve it Smile.

Car kit mode...

February 2nd, 2008 at 03:07 pm

My phone is in car kit mode..I don't have a car kit. I don't drive, I have no use for a car kit!

But here it is stuck in a mode that makes no sound. I can dial and I can see people calling me, I just can't hear them. And apparently they cannot hear me.

I did a google search and found out I am not the only one with this trouble. digital dad has it too!

he discovered sticking some metal in the earphone plug fixes it..I am kinda hesitant about sticking metal in my phone to short circuit it?

All you have to do is ask

February 1st, 2008 at 05:09 pm

Scouting for food is this week, so GMC is supposed to ask people to donate food. I think he is too young to go door to door (or rather too young to go alone and JC, UE and pregnant Mommy are not up to accompanying him) So we are sticking with friends and family only.

Which is still folk that have all been very willing to donate something. Only if we hadn't asked they wouldn't know we wanted it.

Sometimes I think asking, such a simple task, is often over looked (outside of church. they ask aplenty!) I know I would often rather skip the asking myself.