Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pen Pals

Both girls have signed up for pen pals through the lds site. Today they both received letters in the mail and were tickled. We don't receive a lot of mail here in Costa Rica, so it was double pleasure to receive these letters. Baby is working on her reply right now and teenager will be working on hers this weekend. On a date right now, so hope she will work on it soon. It is a great way to get them to practice their writing.

Writing is always a hard thing to get my kids motivated to do. One way has been the pen pals, another way my girls love is making lists. Any time we are going somewhere I ask them to make a list and they enjoy that. Today I looked at baby on the way to the store and realized she had Mountain Dew on one arm and Dr. Pepper on the other arm. I can't imagine who did that?

Monday, March 29, 2010


Today was the day to plant some spinach. Baby loves working in the garden with me and was great at planting our couple of rows of seeds. She really likes working in the garden and was tickled pink when we actually got a couple of tomatoes off these really woeful looking plants. You would think "oh it is Costa Rica, just throw a few seeds out there and watch them grow". Not! There are more fungus, ants and crazy diseases here than I thought imaginable.

We visited with friends last night and the girls got to jump on a trampoline for the first time in years. Baby lost her top front tooth to a trampoline and a really high jumping big brother a few years ago and took some time warming up. Hannah was excited to jump again and had a blast. She has been bugging us to buy a Wii, but after playing it for about 15 minutes she was done with it.

A few months ago we cut back t.v. time to one hour a day. It is amazing how much more creative both girls have been. We used to let baby watch for a couple of hours after her nap. I read an article about how t.v. time actually makes learning harder for kids and thought it would help her schooling if we cut her back. It has been great!

We spent the first 15 years of our marriage without a t.v. and now hardly watch it at all. None of our kids really care for t.v. and proved people wrong that if we did not let them watch they would go crazy once they got in front of one, wrong! Of course those were the same people that said the kids would go crazy over sugar once they left our home where we did not eat it. Wrong!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

LDS Homeschool Site

I found this site a couple of weeks and really love it. They have tons of ideas and it reminds me of my days of homeschooling many children of many levels. It makes me think I have no excuses for spending lots more time with my two girlies!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This great shell site: is the site we are using to divide up our shell collection. As you can see we are coming right along with it, but are having trouble id.ing a couple of our shells. We will keep searching. Baby loves dividing up things and has really enjoyed putting her many shells in some kind of order.

And lest you think she is all work and no play, here you have the future surf champion of Costa Rica! This chick can play at the beach like none other, can even go under the big ones now, with no fear. Yeah surf lessons are in the future for sure.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beach Schooling

We spent the last two days at Manual Antonio beach. I love that beach and we have all made friends and regulars there who really look forward to our visits. Baby knows her way around very well and has a pretty good routine there. She found some great shells there today and will be working on jewelry all weekend with the shells she found. She is also getting to be pretty awesome at boogey boarding. I am thinking a few surf lessons in the near future.

Teenager spent the time getting to know all the surfers hanging out in the shade with us. She can sure wheel and deal for a good price on boogey boards though. I was glad to see that she did some swimming and was pretty active this time. In the past she just wanted to sit and not play as much. Good to see her playing.

While baby and I were collecting shells we started talking about where they all came from. I told her we would google them and find out what the shells are all called and where they came from, she has forgotten but I am on it. I try to keep her interested in things she expresses and interest in, however fleeting it may be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Teaching Reading

Rod and Staff are the workbooks we are using presently to teach baby to read. I have to say after using about six different methods, there is no magic curriculum or method to teaching a child to read. I hate to say that, but it really is true.

What it does take to teach your children to read is a true love of reading yourself, as well as a true love of your child. Yes that is it, total requirements to teach reading to your child.

Most people that I have talked to about homeschooling seem to share in common the fear of teaching their children to read. There really is no magic to it. It is very time intensive and does take much patience and love, but other than that it is just pure fun! I tell people that the reason I chose to homeschool is so that I could teach my children to read.

I have been a lover of reading since I was a child. We grew up without a t.v. and because of that I was a voracious reader. I had read the whole Narnia series about five times by the time I was in fifth grade. I was in the gifted reading class at school and could read circles around my peers.

The interesting part of this? It did not start out this way. When I was in first grade my father died. During this time I missed lots of second grade. For this reason when we returned from my Father's funeral I was given special tutoring by Mrs. Row. She was my teacher and a very kind old white haired lady. You know it only took about two weeks before she had me reading as well as the rest of the class? Just a little one on one attention and I took off and never looked back.

That is my point. All it takes is you sitting there helping them sound out the words, reminding them what sound they are looking at, and at least a thousand times repeating certain rules that they cannot remember.

Like I said we have used many different methods to teach our children to read. The first couple of kids we used a book I checked out at the library. I copied it off (that was the day before curriculum) and off we went to learn to read. When my first born started reading, just using this little library book of sounds I was so thrilled. He took off also and never looked back. One of those kids who hide the flashlight under the bed to read after bed time.

Our fourth kid stopped me cold. He did not "respond" to our little reader. He just did not get it. The other kids were all reading by the age of five. He was six and still not reading. I was getting worried and finally just decided to wait a few months. In the meantime we began piano lessons. Guess what? Walla he had it! Yup it was the piano lessons that got the brain firing the right way and got him reading.

The next reader I had gotten rid of our copied book and was not sure what to use. About that time I found a cool book at church about teaching English as a second language using the scriptures. It was only $15.00 so I decided what the heck lets try it. I gotta tell you that at the age of four that kid was reading like a second or third grader. He is still a great reader as well as a great writer by the way.

With the sixth reader I had a challenge that I did not even know I had. Unbeknownst to us she could not see out of her right eye. She struggled to learn and finally got the reading down. She just never enjoyed it and we really had to fight to get her to read. Once we found out about the sight problem it made much more sense and now we try to get her big print and just encourage her.

Baby is using the workbooks above. She is also learning to read in Spanish at the same time, so it will probably be a little slower for her. She can pretty much read easy things already and is doing good with it. It is a blast to work with her, and I would never let anyone else teach my kids to read. I want to not only teach them to read, but also to teach them to "love" to read!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


O.K. so I finally figured out where to categorize laying on the massage table for half the day being "demo-dog". It would definetly be science. Considering the fact she has already been through the 12 week massage program and remembers some of the muscles she learned, I can call it a muscle review. The only problem would be that today she fell asleep.

Baby went to afternoon school today. They were scheduled to have their Mathmatica exams. The teachers are very strict about exam week and her teacher Nina Elizabeth is having a fit that she will miss the last two days of exams. The funny part is the exam she will be missing is English. I feel pretty sure that she has that subject down pretty good.

You never know though. Teenager went to a private school here in CR when we first moved here. She got a bad grade in English because the teacher was saying things wrong and she corrected her. NO, NO! My other daughter was working at a online business and she got five points off her evaluation because of her accent LOL! Once she explained that she was Gringa they apologized and fixed it.

I have decided once babies teacher takes off to have her baby we will be done. Baby has excellent Spanish now and can play with other kids fine. She has also developed other interests to keep her busy at home. We have cut her down to only one hour of t.v. a day, and it is amazing to see how her imagination has just blossomed. I am very pleased to see her expanding her art skills and spending hours making pictures for people and friends. She also spends hours playing with her puppy.

Yeah I think she will be fine at home with her old boring parents. We will be spending a few days at the beach this week and she loves that. Both girls really enjoy getting out of town, in a car even, and hanging out at the beach for a couple of days. We are all ready to get back to the mountains after a couple of days and cool off, but it is a nice break.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Still on the Fence

Unfortunately for baby this week is "exams". Again unfortunately for baby I am still "undecided" about what to do with her in regards to school. Everything in me screams to take her out. Everything, and everyone outside of me screams to keep her in. The argument being an old one for us-what about her socialization? You would think after thirty years of homeschooling I would have an answer for this, and more confidence that it does not count for anything.

I have decided to interview each of my children who have in fact been un/homeschooled and share that with everyone. They all have very different views as well as memories of their school days. I was surprised in talking to them that they actually have very positive things to say about schooling, and no regrets. O.k. maybe some regrets, but mostly on their parts for things they did not pursue.

In the meantime I will continue to dress baby everyday in her silly uniform and march her off to her good catholic school where she will learn to conform and fit in. Augghhhhh it is killing me! As you can see it won't last long. She is one of the most creative children I have had and I cannot let them stifle that out of her. They are already all about coloring in the lines and using many different colors, and make sure you put torsos on your people etc.

Today she made up her own art. She found that when she sharpens her colored pencils, which is quite often, the shavings make a really pretty flower. She has about sharpened her colored pencils down to nothing making flowers for a collage she is working on. I will post a picture of her flower art when she gets it done.

On the teen end of things we have been doing lots of talking and gentle leading to encourage some kind of learning to take place during the day. She likes to blame it on the fact that many days she has to demo dog for us with our massage student. I am trying to figure out how to fit laying on a massage table, listening to your headphones into a learning corner and having trouble. I have been having her do more cooking, which at least gets her thinking in a math oriented manner at some point during the day.