Thursday, September 3, 2009


I am smiling from ear to ear today. I can't wipe the grin off of my face. I am so very happy. I am so proud of Connor. Why? Well, let me explain.

Connor's teacher called today to introduce herself and set up a day for her check in calls. She then asked if I wanted to hear the results to Connor's PSSA results from last years testing. I paused for a minute and said yes. We've been waiting to hear the results. A lot is riding on these results. There was a lot of drama last year concerning my ability to teach. So, when Miss Wagner told me the results I almost burst into tears. I did cry when I called Tim and told him. He scored "off the charts", he scored "advanced in both Reading and Math". Not too shabby for a third grader taking a big state test for the first time. I remember he was done two hours early on one of the days of his test. So, not only did he fly through the test, he ACED it. I could not be prouder of anyone right now. I'm so proud of Connor and I'm proud of myself. Never again will I doubt my ability. We have a good thing going and now there is no need to make any changes. He is taking two gifted classes (Reading and Science), he's taking the Junior Great books class, which reads above level stories and then they pick the stories apart. After they pick the stories apart on their live lessons, they have to do a project to go along with the story. I never felt he was behind...lazy sometimes, but never behind. So, today is a happy day.

I am also very happy to report that we have had a perfect week so far. Everything has stayed on schedule. Everyone is having fun and liking school so far. Yesterday was a really long day. I think I'm going to leave the schedule the same though. Monday and Tuesday are easy days and today was a good day. We were done with school by 2:30. Friday looks like it's going to be a longer day but I think it will work out. The easy beginning of the week helps us ease back into school, Wednesday is long, but it's half way through the week and Friday may be a longer day, but it's Friday. A weekend of fun will follow. I might have to tweak the schedule around the kid's live lessons a little bit but I'm happy with how everything is working so far. Live lessons are like conference calls. I suppose I should explain how exactly we do school.

Both boys are enrolled in Connections Academy. It's a "virtual" school. It's still considered part of the public school system, hence the need to take the PSSA tests. Instead of going to school, we do it at home. They supply all of the books. They supply the "learning coach" (me) materials. If needed, they supply the computers. Each child has a teacher that checks on them every two weeks. They have assignments that they have to submit to them and they get graded on. Like I said, the live lessons are like little conference calls for the kids. The teacher will have a virtual room that all of the classmates meet in and the teacher talks with them and they can chat amongst themselves. It's really cute to see them at the computer with their little headsets on chatting with their friends. We can make our own schedules up and take days off as needed. The kids love it. I love it.

Ok, enough about school. It's funny because for the longest time this little blog sat around getting dusty and now that school has started back up and we have a set routine, I have more time than I thought I would. I also have a theory about why I am feeling better and more in control of things. I am wondering if it's because I've taken the gluten out of my diet. I don't have the terrible mood swings anymore. I have my energy back. Heck, I've been able to get out of bed every day this week at 6:30 and taken Patchy out for a 30 minute walk. I've even been waking up before 6:30. I had thought that I would be exhausted and needing to be in bed by 8. I actually tried to get to bed early the other night and I was awake until 1. Long story short. I feel great and in control. That is a nice feeling after not having a handle on things for a while.

Speaking of morning walks, here are a couple of pictures from this mornings stroll. A nice foggy start to the day. It's been starting to feel like fall around here and I'm loving it.

Kind of creepy looking, but oh so awesome to be in.

Dew on the grass around 10 am.

The kids get a fifteen minute break between each hour class. They like to spend that 15 minutes running around outside. I noticed the dew yesterday and it was there again today. I thought it looked so pretty.

Well, Tim will be home from work soon. Then it will be dinner, Chicken Taco Chili tonight and then Tim is heading out to his Aikido class. I'm not sure what I'm going to do tonight. Probably curl up with a book or work on next weeks menus.

I hope everyone is having a great week too!! If not, tomorrow is Friday and then it's a three day weekend!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A good day.

No, let me change that...a GREAT day. I am writing about this so when (and I know we will) we have a bad day, I can remember that today ran perfectly.

I was actually able to drag my butt out of bed at 6:25 and was walking Patchy at 6:30. It wasn't easy. I had a crappy night of sleep, the second one in a row and it was cold out this morning. I had to dig out a sweatshirt before I head out the door. I had prepped the coffee last night so I flipped the switch as we were walking out and I had a nice big pot of coffee waiting for me when I got home. By 8:30 I had dinner in the crockpot, everyone had been fed and the kitchen was clean. I had 30 minutes before school and I was at a loss at what to do. I didn't really plan on having free time.

9 o'clock rolled around and I sat both boys down in the classroom. First thing we did was discuss the code of conduct for the classroom. Then we discussed our fun fact for today. I also told them how the schedule was going to work. One hour of lessons, 15 minutes break, one hour of lessons, 15 min break, etc... Then we jumped into the books. Aidan and I worked on one computer (Aidan had headphones to listen to his course online) and Connor was on the other computer. The lessons taught them their concepts and then each of them hit the books. They both loved their little dividers on the desk. The two of them worked side by side and if they needed help with something, they would let me know they needed help. The rest of the day ran along so smoothly. I was able to work with both of them (which I was not able to do last year very well). There was no arguing. There was no whining about having to write or do work. Connor even admitted that his hand didn't hurt with all the writing this year.
Who are these two boys and what have they done with the snarly ones?

Now, I know not to think that this whole year is going to run as smoothly. I do know that I am going to make a concerted effort to ease up on them. I do know that we will not end up in yelling matches over assignments. I do know that we are going to have more fun this year. I think they are up for it. I do know that I am loving being able to see my boys grow and get more mature every year. I love to see them love learning again. Last year, not so much. This year, they both seem ready to take it on. Here's to a seriously kick butt year. I feel like it's going to be great!
Aidan working on his handwriting pre test that we drop boxed to his teacher.
Connor working on his Skills for Success (PSSA prep class). He was taking his reading beginning of the year benchmark test. He scored 100 percent (advanced). I'm not surprised.

I hope everyone else is having a great day and week!

Monday, August 31, 2009

We are ready for lift off.

Today was our final day before school officially starts tomorrow. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day either. Dare I say there was a chill in the air today. We finally turned off the air conditioner and I opened all the windows up. I dried three loads of laundry on the line and I worked on this weeks lesson plans and schedules while the kids played.
Nothing but blue skies and cool breezes today. My clematis has climbed all the way up the side of the garage and I'm training it on a string across the patio to our carport.
Aidan's racetrack he drew on Nancy's driveway. It has crocodile pits that you have to take a ramp over, and walls that you have to jump over, and walls with rocket launchers on them that you have to punch down...or you can take the short cut on the right side and miss all the fun stuff.
Connor and Aidan trying out the race track.
Patchy keeping an eye on everyone...and happy to do so.
My favorite little piggies enjoying the cool grass.

It's now just after 8:30 pm and both boys are tucked in and headed to dreamland. They have actually been really good about adjusting back into a nighttime routine. The rule is lights off at 8:30. Well we were letting them brush teeth and all that jazz at 8:25 and then they went to bed. Connor has decided that he likes to read for a half hour before he sleeps. We have readjusted and now they start their bedtime routine at 7:45 with their butts in bed at 8 pm. Connor reads and Aidan either flips through a book or plays on his nintendo. He was just playing Big Brain Academy. I guess he's prepping for school tomorrow. I can hear them in there chatting to themselves right now but I suspect they will both be sleeping in about 5 minutes.

I am feeling pretty good about school this year. We are going to try to get some pretty strict routines down that will hopefully make it easier on everyone. One thing is that I'm not going to even think about laundry until Saturdays. That will be official laundry day. Another thing we are trying is Crockpot dinners. We've done it two days in a row now and it is working great. I get up and throw everything in the pot and then I don't have to do anything until I dish it out at dinner. It really helped today because while Tim took Connor to his karate class tonight I did another huge batch of tomatoes. I'm also happy because the first two weeks of school are four day weeks and I think that will help ease us ease back into hitting the books.
The rules are up...let's see if they follow them.
The apples are hanging. Sept is the month Johnny Appleseed was born. There will be a lot of apple activities.
The kid's workspace is ready to go. Oh, how I hope it always looks this picked up.
The dividers are mostly done. I had this idea for splitting up the big desk so that Connor and Aidan can focus on their own work. Connor's has his monthly schedule and a fun facts calendar and a list of the classroom rules. I would like to put more in there, but I don't want it to be distracting. Aidan's I'm going to have him write his "words he knows" as he learns them. He decorated his a little bit with some glitter.
And last, but not least, my new best friend. I had to go out and get a bigger crockpot. I had a 3.5 qt one and it always boiled over so now I have a 6 qt one and it works beautifully. I am so happy/excited that I found another blogger who blogged for a whole year with her crockpot. The best part?! Well, two best parts...One...all of her recipes are gluten free! and Two: she has a book coming out in October. I already have one pre-ordered. Check her out if you want. I've made two of her recipes so far and they have been really good.

Tomatoes. Ugh. I don't care to see another tomato for a while. Unfortunately there are bunch more out there on the plants. I don't think we are going to plant as many plants next year. Although they are really good. We picked a whole bunch of them on Saturday along with a lot of peppers and a couple of cucumbers. I'm not sure what I'm doing with the peppers yet and I'm scared for when Tim's haberneros are all ripe. I counted about 20 of them on one bush and he has four bushes out there. Yikes.
Saturday's harvest. Not too shabby!

Well, the clock just chimed 9. As I guessed, both kids are sleeping and I'm about to curl up with my new Country Living magazine. I have to get up early tomorrow to walk Patchy before the kiddies get up and then we start our first day. I'm pretty optimistic about how it will go. I hope I'm not singing another tune tomorrow night.