Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: The MoneySmart family system By Steve and Annette Economides

I have loved the Economides' books since they first came out.  I have their two previous books, also family financed based.  And I admit that i was fascinated by a couple who's name was "Economides" who wrote about money!   Too much for my little brain i guess :)  Anyway, I loved this book as much as I loved their previous books.  I think The MoneySmart family system is a GREAT addition to anyone's family library.

The author's write in an engaging way about why its important to raise money smart kids- they talk about the implications of children who are crippled by this lack of skill.  But they take it a step further and not only talk about WHY your kids need this skill, but give practical examples of how to practically implement this skill in your home! I found many great ideas that I will use in my family, as we definitely have "issues" in this area.  I love how the authors come from a background of a large family without a lot of money.  This I can relate to, and it not only makes them more credible, but means that they are providing the valuable information that us family people NEED.  I don't want to know about investments right now or building or maximizing our portfolio! i just want to raise children who love the Lord and who use their money effectively for HIS purpose.  Their system is one that shows me how to do that! Additionally, It also teaches responsibility all around.  And its doable being quite broke, as we are constantly!

I give the MoneySmart family system a 5 star review!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our first day of school!!!!

And it was a SLAMMING success, by my standards!  Despite it being a bit of a difficult day sending Ash off and all!  

First, I'll post pics of all my beautiful kiddos, click to make them bigger if you'd like. 

         Isn't he a sweetie.  I <heart> my sweet Ashie.  He got to experience the schoolbus for the first time today... more on that later.  Next is Elliott, who is looking JUST like his Grandma Lois these days! holy cow! 

Next is Leif, Annabeth, Chloe, Nik and Alex :) 

And a couple of group pics, since it took 2 to catch everyone's face :)

So, we did pictures, and got Asher ready for the bus.  Then I brought him out to the bus.  I had been preparing him for a few weeks... talking about how a school bus would come to our house, and how it would pick him up, and he'd say "Bye bye mommy!" and go to school on the bus.   

Well, today came, and the bus pulled in...  after a wow... and a point by ash.... 

And then I walked him, no- nearly dragged him to the bus! his reaction was NOT what i'd expected. but he did get on the bus and I walked in with him and talked to him as he buckled in.  Poor guy was pretty shell shocked...   

It was hard- both Elliott (his twin) and I were bawling our eyes out. But we survived and had a pretty fun day.  

We started by sorting through papers, labeling dividers and making covers for everyone's binders.  We then did our Bible time, and our study in "Leading little ones to God"   Then we had some yummy cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa for snack. I think that will be a new first day tradition.  

Then everyone went outside and ran around, I finished binder work and when they came back in, we moved to the couch for read aloud time.   We got a total of 4 books read (or a chapter or two read, depending on the book) which I felt great about for our first day! 

Reading aloud is our primary goal for this year- there is SO MUCH great literature out there, and a good book is so inspiring, transformative, and all around FUN!  I'm loving independent homeschooling this year and am so grateful to not have to have so much accountability.  I love that we can learn what we want, when we want, and use as much "religious" material as we want! 

Ash made it home! and Elliott gave him a GIANT hug.  Everyone was so happy to see him!  He seemed really shell shocked and didn't seem happy to see us, but i suppose its the crazy newness of the whole experience...     

What was funny was he spent the entire afternoon/evening singing "Bus bus bus buh buh bus" to the tune of "the wheels on the bus"  I guess i know what song they did in circle time at school!  He's so musical :) probably a musical genius :) autism does have its benefits!  

Its never felt so good to rock my sweetie to sleep... ahh... i love my ashie... 

All in all, it was a good day.   Hopefully the first of many! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting ready for school!!!!!

This year, i've spent the last couple mornings watching the school kids with their new backpacks, new shoes and clothes, headed off to school, and have been able to say that my children are NOT among them!   This year, we are super blessed to again get to homeschool!  Not that i'd change last year, necessarily.  It was a tactile learning experience in a way that would likely have not had the same impact, had we not experienced. Scars remain, namely in my extremely independent 6th grader, and my fragile 3rd grader, but we are together and can work through them.  Last year at Brigadoon, which is a wonderful elementary school with a very homey, community feel to it, my children were blessed with teachers and administrators that honestly cared for them- They really went out of their way for my children and we were blessed to have them  I'm sad that Asher, my 3yo will not be able to go to preschool there, but his new teacher, Mrs Michelle, seems quite capable and hopefully can handle my thunderbolt of an energetic guy.

I am super excited.  This year, HOPEFULLY will prove to be easier and less traumatic than last.  I say hopefully only because my sweet lil' Ash is going to be in preschool this year, which is only 3 hrs a day 4 days a week, but being barely 3, it still concerns me.  Thankfully, extended day doesn't start for a couple months, which is great, at that point we get to decide if he'll be in it- which i'm leaning toward and Andy is leaning against, but i think the deciding factor rests on how well Ash does in preschool.   If he's still screaming to not get on the bus (which i fully expect the first few days, but after that, no clue!) then that might be a good sign to us that its just too much for him right now.

This year my student line up includes ALL my children, for the first and last time.  (i guess not at all if you could ash being in PS)  Included will be Alex, 12th grade, who will be enrolled in Highline community college  with a full load again this year, but will still be doing critical thinking, Bible, and Theology at home.

   Nikolas, 8th grade, who has learning issues, I suspect he has disgraphia and discalculia, but i've never been able to confirm that.  He works at about grade level in writing/LA, maybe a tad below, and quite a bit below in math- namely because he's entirely stuck on memorizing addition/subtraction/multiplication tables.  However, he has a GREAT vision therapist who is helping him with tracking, to help increase his fluidity in reading, which he does well, but slowly- and is helping a TON with his math.  She's recommended we take a break from the curriculum and work on the process of math more, helping him understand the process inside out and learn the multiplication tables.  So that is what we will do. I have high hopes for him, because aside from being super smart, and creative, he's also got a GREAT attitude and is an incredibly hard worker .

Chloe is my upcoming 6th grader, who like her siblings is super smart.  She, despite having aspergers, is gloriously on level in both math and language, actually reading at a high school level and she will be starting Saxon math 76 this year, so actually she's ahead in that too.  HOPEFULLY she will thrive with that . For some reason she really did NOT like teaching textbooks, so i switched her to Saxon since she catches on easily and i figured would be fine doing independent math that is very thorough.  My biggest struggle with her  this year will likely be helping her to remain focused on being a part of a family and not so much doing her own thing and running with it.  I think school has really encouraged an "its all about me" attitude with her that i'm not liking.  

Annabeth, 3rd grade,  is my more neurologically severely affected child, who reads but struggles with fluidity and REALLY struggles with math.  Her thinking skills are where you can really see the most problems.  Her therapist (same as Nik's) did an test with her last year and asked questions that completely made me cry, like "What keeps a dog warm?"  Annabeth's answer- "his toy"  "What causes a ball to roll?" Annabeth's answer- "There's something in it"  "What makes ice melt" Annabeth's answer "water"  It was so so sooo hard seeing her like that, and knowing it really is consistant with the norm for her.  Thinking is so important, and left unchecked, I would have serious fears for her future.  In fact, even now i have serious fears for her because we have NO IDEA why her brain works the way it does and we have no clue if what we are doing will help her.  But at least the program her therapist has prescribed has shown short term effects, so we are left with that, and prayer that my beautiful daughter will not, in fact, be intellectually handicapped forever.   Her therapist has discovered that she needs an enormous amount of physical activity.  Thankfully she's drawn to physical activity anyway, but during her school day she will be 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, all day long of formal academics, the off time being involved in an organized physical activity, like jumping on the trampoline, or playing wall ball, or jump rope, etc.  Praying hard for my sweetie. 

Leif, 1st grade,  is partly a really easy child, partly a really difficult child.  He's super smart, above grade level in math, not sure how much yet, but i might have another Alex on my hands.   Reading he does well when he chooses.  He had a burst this summer and all of a sudden started reading much better, which has always been my experience with teaching kids to read.  The difficulty comes with his personality.  We have suspicions that he might be an aspie like alex and chloe, but are not sure, and are not sure if we want to "go there" with seeking a diagnosis and all that . He's just quite difficult, his personality is darker than the others and hes' very resistant to much of what i want to do with him, though he tries hard.  We'll see!  

Elliott might be reading in the next year or so... yeah, he's barely 3.  But he's incredibly bright.  I'm looking forward to some good quality one on one time with that little guy to start the day.  I think he will really thrive in our home setting.  

Asher, described above :)

This year, our main curricula is Organic Homeschooling.

  I love that this is a very gentle, easy program that focuses on reading aloud real, good quality books.  The overachiever in me screams out that i want to do much much more! But when i look back at my attempts to do "more" i see inconsistancy, many false starts.  THIS is doable, and its a wonderful progam.  I am SO EXCITED for this year!

I'm not sure how to make the intro video show up on the blog, but you can click here if you are interested to hear more about OH.  http://vimeo.com/35349465

I'm most excited about Math-It and Pre Math-It which are pretty much EXACTLY what N and A's therapist want them to learn, in GAME form :)  Math It and Pre Math it

Math is the main subject we are supplementing in-  For annabeth, we'll start the year, in addition to Math it and Pre math it, with Jump at home math
Once we get caught up on the remdial stuff, with the exception of Chloe, who's using saxon, Alex, who's completed the entire Teaching Textbook series,  we'll be using  Teaching textbooks 3 and 7 with Annabeth and Nik.  This Curriculum is WONDERFUL.  Its wonderfully self-teaching, and self scoring... ahh... busy homeschool ma's dream :)

This year Leif's main math curricula will be Critical thinking Company's Mathematical Reasoning level B, which he's about half way through from last year.  I have mixed feelings about it and probably won't buy the next level, unless we buy a core set from Timberdoodle in the spring, which we may well.  Its just pricey, and it seems like such a waste, all those pretty pictures, just to get marked in and thrown away...   Last year we were using Meridian Parent partnership, so it didn't matter that it was an expensive curriculum, but this year it does, since we are independent.   It is a good curricula though, and perfect for Leif, who learns math SUPER fast and doesn't need a lot of review.  We also will be doing some Life of Fred, and a few other math curricula since i'm a curriculum addict and buy it for fun <------- NERD!!!!! :)

For phonics for Leif, i'm using Happy phonics from Love to learn.  Which i LOVE.  its a game based phonics program that Leif is going to totally eat up.

Much of history Bible and Worldview is covered in Organic Homeschooling, but for my middle schoolers, i'm adding in some real literature from Simply Charlotte mason.  This handbook covers Modern times plus the Epistles and Revelation, which is AWESOME because we are covering Revelation in church also, so this will be timely.  

We'll be reading about both American  and World history from this time period,

And the Bible studies look so fascinating!!! i'm psyched about this year!!!

I know that eventually i'll be adding in more, likely using leftovers from previous years and i'm trying to get myself to be ok with not doing so much "MORE" since what we are doing is fine, and much of the reason I chose this plan is to be able to allow them to each follow their own bent.  Like for example, Nik will spend a good chunk of his free time working on his novel writing curriculum The One year Adventure novel.   And chloe will likely read and read and read.  And annabeth will do flips on the monkey bars, and Leif will play like a 6yo boy aught...  ahh.. i LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!!!!