Friday, April 17, 2009

Seven Quick Takes


I passed my glucose test. Yeah! I've been needing chocolate since February, so this is a very good thing.....I'd have really been in trouble if I'd had failed.


We had nothing but rain Tuesday and Wednesday and Cecilia was getting serious Spring cabin fever. A couple times each day she would get completely dressed and ask to go out. She said she could go out in the rain if she wore a hat. When I explained it didn't work that way, she asked to go in "the blue car" to school or the store. I don't think she cared where she went, she just wanted to go....even if Felicity was upstairs napping. So, when the sun finally came out on Thursday, I told James we simply had to get these girls out today. So we went to Chick Fila for lunch. Following her chicken and fries, she shared some of daddy's cookies and cream shake. They also spent about 45 minutes playing in the indoor playset. Cecilia did not want to leave. About 30 minutes was with just the four of us. The last 15 had quite a few more young children and Cecilia did not hesitate to encourage them as well as order them around. (Can you tell she is the big sister and not the little sister?) Fortunately, none of them paid any attention. Felicity just loved being able to practice going up and down the stairs and once she even ventured into the plastic tunnels and, fortunately, found her way out again before we would have had to venture in to get her. We only lured Cecilia out with the promise she could come food shopping with me while Felicity napped. We'll have to do it again some time and, funnily enough, it is a small outing that we could even do when it is raining.


Cecilia loved having an Easter Egg Hunt so much, she tried to hide them again by herself. Once she realized finding her own eggs wasn't as much fun, she has been asking me to rehide them often. No fear - these are plastic eggs. Felicity still enjoys just carrying around some of the eggs in her Easter basket and Cecilia has also discovered they can be fun to throw and watch bounce off the walls. Fortunately Cecilia hasn't asked me to refill them with chocolate.


I've spent a fair amount of time this week pondering Cecilia's upcoming homeschooling curriculum. Of course the first priorities are phonics/reading, mathematics and handwriting. From what I've seen, I really like Seton's and ABeka's Handwriting programs. I'm considering the same programs for Phonics. Seton has several good reading primers. My one big area of uncertainty is mathematics. There are SO many homeschool mathematics programs. Saxon math, Singapore Math, MathUSee, ABeka, Mikwan <sp?> Math, and the list goes on. I'm hoping the next time I visit a friend I can sneak a peak at the Singapore Math, which two moms have recommended to me for this beginning stage of math.

She is currently using a Hooked on Phonics program that she seems to enjoy but has difficulty not rushing through and having patience with herself. (Although, that is Cecilia with lots of things.) She loves to count, is constantly asking us to read the clocks to her and tell her what time it is and has even answered a few math questions: I asked her what 1 Cecilia plus 1 Felicity in the bathtub last night was and she said "2 Girls!" But I'm hoping to help her build some basic math skills beginning this summer, so I'm working on figuring out which program we should use. I'd like to have her reading and knowing some basic mathematics by the time she is 4. So far so good, but hence my investigation.


Well, last week was plant the front flower bed. This weekend will be working on the backyard. There is a hole in the fence I will be boarding over to keep Felicity from making a break for it. There has also been the problem of the area under the deck that is simply mud. It is impossible to get any grass to grow there as there is no sun. So we are going to put a simple border around it and cover it with stones so at least there should be no mud pools. We have the border and a few bags of stones. We don't know exactly how many bags of stones it would require but we figure using a few will give us a good idea and it isn't like we need it to be deep. I've considered putting a plant or two down in the area, but two things make it difficult: 1) it cannot be flowering - the yard is so small, we do not want anything that will attract any stinging insects into the girls' play area and 2) once again, it is all shade. I know I could consider something like a Mountain Laurel that would fit both those requirements, but one thing at a time. If I did go for the plant idea, it would probably be to block the A/C unit off from the girls' curious fingers.


Last week we tried a new meal. Now, James is from Texas. His favorite meal is Country Fried Steak, which we had for his birthday last month. I like the dish, but am not as big a fan as he is. Instead, I prefer Country Fried Chicken, which, in Maryland, I can only find at our nearest Cracker Barrel about an hour away. So last week we used whipped egg whites and panko bread crumbs on some chicken breasts and fried them in a skillet topped at the table with white country gravy....mmmmmmmmmm was it good. Felicity had two helpings. The egg whites keep it healthier and lighter and the panko bread crumbs work wonderfully at providing a nice crispy breading that is still nice and thin. I'm not saying we would have it every week, but we will definitely be revisiting that one!


Hell's Kitchen. It is one of the three TV shows I watch regularly. (The other two being The Biggest Loser and 18 Kids and Counting.) Don't read on if you don't want to know what happened last least for the first half of the episode. I found it heartbreaking. They are down to the final five and, IMHO, three of the five are far superior to the other two. Yet the one who went home never should have had to last night. Even Chef Ramsey said he was a serious competitor for the grand prize and he hated to see him go. But Robert found out the hard way that weighing 400 pounds can get in the way of your dream even if you do everything you can to achieve it. The final five were visiting their coveted prize, the Borgata, in Atlantic City when Robert had chest pains. Medics determined his blood pressure to be 160/110. He went to the hosptial. A few days later he returned to inform everyone that he has a heart condition where the sac surrounding the heart is swollen and leads to heart disease and would be unable to continue on the show. (It isn't exactly a stress-free environment.) Robert had been a real bright spot on the show. He wasn't a perfect chef, but he could definitely cook and had a wonderful sense of humor. I don't know if he would have won, but, IMO, he should have been in the top 3, and it was a shame to see him leave the way he did. He had worked so hard and put so much into trying to win and be a good chef and it all vanished because of his weight. I and several family members are overweight and I've struggled with my weight since I was about 5 years old. I know many people easily put their weight and health on the backburner while they focus on other things. Last night was a firm reminder that, no matter how much you put into your aspirations, if your health isn't a priority, they could all go up in smoke. Here's hoping Robert is doing okay.



    John Saxon's math books remain the best math curriculum for mastery of the basics of mathematics on the market today.

    That holds true only if you are using the correct editions, and using the textbooks as John intended them to be used.

    I have taught using John Saxon's math books from algebra 1/2 through calculus for more than a decade in a rural public high school, and I can assure you that continually switching math curriculum creates holes in the student's math basics.

    Student's fail algebra because they never mastered fractions, percents and decimals. They fail calculus because they never mastered the concepts of algebra.

    I do not now, nor have I ever sold Saxon math books, but if you or your readers now use John Saxon's math books, or if planning on using them in the future, please take a moment and visit my website at before you purchase any Saxon math books.


    Art Reed

  2. I hear you on Robert's condition....we'll be thinking of him too.

    I'm glad ya'll got out. Kids and cabin fever do NOT mix!

    I'm thinking about homeschooling too. I'd love to know your thoughts! As you narrow it down, I'd love to hear more. I'm just getting started. I want to start after Kindergarten....

    Have a FANTASTIC day!! God Bless!

  3. domesticaecclesiaApril 17, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    I've been recommended Saxon Math but primarily for 4th - 7th grades. I don't recall what, if any, the difficulties others came across in the younger levels. You taught the upper grades and I appreciate your recommendation of them. But I'm not talking about fractions as a math basic. I'm talking about addition, subtraction, telling time and the like. I'm definitely open to using Saxon later on, but I'm hesitant about it for the early Kindergarten. Do you know anything about those levels of Saxon math? Much thanks!

  4. Saxon math books for grades 4 through 7 (Math 54 through either Math 87 or algebra 1/2) are the best math textbooks to teach mastery of the basics for young students. They are constantly reviewing what they were initially taught until the basic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - along with simple geometry and data manipulation - become mastered. Most math textbooks teach in a manner that elicits good test scores, but very limited mastery.

    If this did not answer your question, please feel free to call me at my office (580) 234-0064.


  5. First, YAY for the glucose test!

    Also, Hell's Kitchen is one of three shows I watch too, also The Biggest Loser. We don't have TV hooked up, but I catch them online.

    Poor Robert... that is so sad for him. :(

  6. domesticaecclesiaApril 22, 2009 at 8:09 AM

    It would be nice if Robert put up a blog or something somewhere where people could find out how he is doing and wish him well, etc.

    Is it just me, or, on the Biggest Loser, does Ron seem like a big snake. I mean, I understand doing anything you can for your children, but don't promise to someone's mother that you will have her daughter's back and then use your son to backdoor her. Maybe Mike would have voted for her anyway, but I thought Ron was pretty despicable. To be honest I would rather have seen Helen go home - I haven't liked her ever since she threw her daughter under the bus so she herself could stay - and I always found Kristen to be a really genuine individual.