Monday, September 14, 2015

Doing A New Thing: Chemistry 101

Being in my 19th year of homeschooling and having only the baby of the family left to educate, we're mostly on auto-pilot when it comes to curriculum choices. Why break what ain't fixed, as they say. 

But instead of keeping with that eloquent maxim, I decided to use a different science curriculum with Annika this year. I am a big fan of Apologia’s Science Curriculum generally, but it’s a lot for a dyslexic child to digest.

She wants to be a nurse so I really want her to understand and learn the work, not just get it done so she can move on, which often happens when she is taking an Apologia course at our co op. Not because it’s a bad course, on the contrary our co op science courses are amazing and the teacher is awesome! The problem I’ve found with my dyslexic students is one of timing. We have to fit the whole curriculum into 30 weeks. I wanted to do something at home this year so that if we need to stretch it out into the summer we have the ability to do that. We can go a bit slower if we need to and I think that’s going to make a big difference.

This year for a variety of reasons (not the least of which being that the timing of the Chemistry class didn’t work very well with her schedule) we decided to try something different. A curriculum I found called Chemistry 101. We’re starting week 4 and so far, I am very pleased. Best of all, ANNIKA LIKES IT!!

The Chemistry 101 program is entirely DVD based, but they have a CD with PDF documents you can print out to create a binder like this. Also, they give you a clear path to making sure that even though this Chemistry is a bit nontraditional, it meets requirements for a high school credit.

The tabs read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Research, Lab Reports, Discussion Questions, Quiz

I also added these two books to our curriculum to beef it up a bit. That Elements book is SO COOL!

This is what a typical week looks like for her. 

Sometimes she will do experiments for the lab herself and sometimes I will have her watch a video of them being done. It all depends on her workload and availability of materials. 

As I said, we're only a few weeks in, but so far so good!

*This is not a compensated review, nor are there any affiliate links in this post. I’m just putting this review out there for any other homeschooling parents that might be looking for a science alternative to Apologia.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Surprise Party That Wasn’t

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Last night we threw a big, surprise 18th birthday for Evelyn. We worked so hard to keep it a surprise, but when you leave one of the invitations lying around, chances are good she’s going to see it. Oh well, she was a very good sport and acted surprised, but fessed up later that she knew. We all had a good laugh. So really, it was the Surprise Party That Wasn’t.

Regardless of the surprise, or lack-thereof, we had a great time. It was a simple swim party with snacks and cake, but it was awesome because of the people who were there.

This party was mostly Ev’s friends from the youth group and her cousins. There were probably 40 to 50 people there I would guess. As I looked around and watched the kids playing volleyball in the pool, and the kids doing various diving high jinks on the other end of the pool, and the kids sitting around the fire pit, and the group sitting on the porch, all laughing and generally having a great time, and I could not help but think of the verse in Hebrews that refers to a ‘cloud of witnesses.’

I realize those verses are referring to great men of the Bible who had paved the way, given the example, and cheered each other on to ‘run the race with perseverance’ but I see this current group of kids as sort of a contemporary Cloud of Witnesses as they serve a similar purpose for my children.

They show up. They celebrate each other’s victories and mourn each other’s failures and losses and remind each other to not grow weary and lose heart. They are truly an awesome group of kids.

One of the things that always amazes me is the youth leaders in our church. They make it a point to show up to these personal events. They’ve been at all of my kids graduations and many of their graduation parties and birthday parties. They don’t just show up for five minutes and leave either, they stay and participate and have fun.

Last night we all sat around and discussed the various bathroom situations on many of the mission’s trips they’d each been on. It quickly devolved to discussing various sickness and the results of those sicknesses in sundry third world countries. Let me just say, God Bless America and its health care system and excellent plumbing.


The point is, even though the conversation literally went to crap, everyone had a great time of good, clean fun. And most importantly, Evelyn felt loved and celebrated.

As I stood in my backyard and surveyed the goings-on, I said a little prayer of thanks for the people God has put in my children’s lives. We could not be more blessed. I don’t think it necessarily takes a village to raise a child, but it most definitely takes a cloud of witnesses. And God has given my children a very rich group who is with them on this race, and cheering them on.

*I did a terrible job getting photos because I was having so much fun! These are the only ones I have, and they hardly show any actual people. Whoops!*

Monday, April 6, 2015

And Peter

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Mark 16:5-8  (Emphasis mine)

Most of us have read this passage several times. This is the passage my pastor spoke on yesterday at Easter service, along with most of the pastors around the world I assume. But Pastor Curt pulled out those two little words and centered his sermon around them. These are two of my very favorite words in all of the scriptures. ‘…and Peter’  

Peter is my favorite. I love Peter. I identify with Peter. Peter is what I like to call the Unlikely Disciple. He’s an ear-cutter, a questioner, a speak-first-think-later disciple, an I’ll-tell-Jesus-how-to-do-his-job disciple, and lastly, he was a denier disciple.

I imagine Peter felt like what he’d done, denying Jesus, (“Yeah, I’m not with him, that *expletive* *expletive* *expletive.*) was as bad as Judas handing Jesus over to be crucified. I would have felt that way. If that angel had not expressly said …”and Peter”, do you think Peter would have considered himself to still be a disciple of Jesus? Would he have gathered up to meet with them? To finish the work Jesus had given them? I doubt it. He felt a failure; worthless, out of the loop. He’d finally done it. That was the last straw. He was no good to Jesus now. 

But the angel said,  "…and Peter".

And that right there is the beauty of the gospel. 

We can’t be too far gone for God to reach us. Too far gone for Jesus to love us. There is nothing we can do to earn his love, and there is nothing we can do that will make him stop loving us. 

Whenever I feel that way, too far gone, I imagine God instructing His angel to say…

…"and Tricia. Make sure to say, and Tricia". 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In A Word

I like to choose a word for the year. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now. One of the first words I chose was ‘courage’. That year, I was baptized. I’ve been a Christian most of my live, but the thought of getting in front of people, well, no thanks. But that year, my children decided they wanted to be baptized and I decided I needed to be courageous and join them. It was awesome. A memory we will all share.

Last year was ‘gentleness’. This word was given to me by my bible study leader. She randomly assigned each of us a fruit of the spirit that she would pray over us all year. I took this as a sign and adopted that word. Not sure how successful that was. I would not describe myself as ‘gentle’ or ‘meek’. I want to be. God has taught me much in this area this year. I wonder if those lessons are outwardly visible. I hope so.

This year I’ve been praying and wondering what the word should be. Last night I got it. It just came to me, a whisper from God I think. I did not like this one. I wrestled a bit. Then I began my search. I googled it.

I can feel the change coming. I’ve felt it for a while, but it’s stronger now. I think I’ve reached the ‘rip off the band aid’ portion of change. I don’t like it. I have been a mom for 23 and a half years. I have homescooled my children all the way through. I have laughed, cried, lost sleep, prayed, and loved every single second of it. Even the hard bits. I’d go back and start over if I could figure out how. I love being a mom. I love my kids. Not only do I love my kids but I genuinely like them. They’re funny and spunky and silly and smart and just all around awesome people to be with.  But you know what? They’re not really kids anymore. They’re 23, 20, 17 & 15 and in 2015 things are going to change. Drastically. I can feel it.

My kids all still live at home. I love it. The boys have been doing their college while living at home and I feel like that’s been a gift. They come and go as they please, pay a bit of rent, help out around the house, it’s a good system. It took some work to figure out how to transition from parent to a sort of roommate, but I think we’ve done a fair job. I love having them here. But in 2015, Bryce will finish his schooling and fly on into his adult life. Gunnar is already spreading those wings putting out applications to Fire Departments far and wide. Eventually one of them is going to hire him (lucky will be the departments that gets him!) and he too will fly from the family home.

Evelyn will officially become and adult, and be graduating high school in 2015. Somehow I have a harder time seeing my girls as adults. Maybe I’m more protective of them. She will start college in 2015. Probably from home, but anything is possible. She’s growing up. Very soon she too will fly from home.

Annika will turn 16 and get her driver’s license in 2015. She is a go-getter, that one. There will be no holding her back once she has her own wheels. She’s already talking about colleges far away from home, near a beach if she has her way.

Change is coming and it’s coming fast. I’ve had more than my share. I’ve had my kids home longer than most. I have good, happy, healthy, Jesus loving kids. I’ve been blessed far and above what I deserve. I know this. It’s time. I know. But I hate change.

God’s working on me, though. I know I have a choice to accept this change or fight it. Either way it’s going to happen, it’s really just about how I’m going to respond to it.

Dave and I had kids right away. We never were those fancy-free newlyweds. The time is coming soon where we can just think about each other. Do what we want. Go where we want to go. Eat what we want to eat. Talk about what we want to talk about whenever we want to talk about it and not worry about listening ears. I know this new phase of life is going to be great. It’s going to be wonderful to just be his wife. It’s going to be wonderful to watch and see who my kids become as they move on to the next phase of their lives. I have no fear about what is coming; I know it will be wonderful. But for me, change is always hard.

 So this year, in 2015, I will choose to embrace the change.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 yellow onion- chopped
4 cloves garlic- chopped
2 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 qt.  chicken stock 1 10 oz. can
2 8 oz cans enchilada sauce
2 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 5 oz. can green chilies
1 can corn (drained and rinsed)
2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
a teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a large pot and cook till warm and bubbly. Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, avocado, and tortilla chips. (I use what we call tortilla crisps instead of the chips. I basically take regular flour tortillas and fry them in veggie oil till they’re a bit brown and crispy) 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dear Mother Whose Son Yelled Obscenities at The Restaurant Today, Let’s Talk.

To the mother who took her adult son to Cotton Patch at lunchtime today, I would like to tell you something.

I was sitting there catching up with a friend about all the things going on in our lives; the good, the bad, and the ugly, when your son started hitting the seat very hard and yelling. Loudly.

People began to look. Was this young man a danger? What was wrong with him? You put your arm on him and said quiet words to him and then things went back to normal.

But he was not finished, your son. He next began to yell out words. Bad words. Words I would not want my children to hear. Again, loudly and while hitting the seat next to him.

People now began to get up and leave, or move, and you and your son both began to be the recipients of some harsh glances. Again you leaned over to your son and said quiet words to him. 

He yelled out in response, “No! We don’t need to go! I’ll be good, I promise!”

It was at this point that my friend and I became sure of what we suspected. Your son had Tourette Syndrome, and our hearts broke for you.

You sat there, with your son, and pretended the whole restaurant was not looking at you. You pretended not to notice as the wait staff sat the new customers far away from your table. You pretended not to notice as your section emptied out. You tried to simply have a nice lunch out with your son. Something other mothers take for granted.

I wanted to say something to you; something reassuring, something encouraging. We were not all judging you, Mom of a Special Needs Adult Child. Some of us were praying for you. Some of us were willing your son to calm down so you could enjoy your time out.

Your son never did calm down. He yelled and hit the chair and hollered out obscenities the entire time you were there. You handled it so well. You were an inspiration, the way you loved your son despite his unloving and socially unacceptable behavior. You deserve a medal, Mom of a Special Needs Adult Child.

The minute you were done eating, you paid and left the restaurant. You did not linger and have a nice conversation with your son. You got up and left as soon as you were able.

I am sorry you felt you had to do that. I am sorry the world is not a very nice place to you or your son. I hope you don’t give up. I hope you don’t hide.

I wanted to tell you that I was pleased you did not stay home. I thought you were brave, and a great mother for taking your son to lunch, but you left so quickly, I didn’t get the chance.

Since I missed my opportunity to tell you those things, I will pray for you. I will pray that God encourages your spirit today, Mom of a Special Needs Adult Child. Because you were certainly an encouragement to mine. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

University Model School: Yeah, That's What It Is

Our homeschool has turned into a University Model School. That’s what I’m calling it and I’m pretending it was totally intentional.

To be more accurate I should probably call it a Grand Central Station School. There are a lot of comings and goings here. Gone, gone, gone are the days when I had control of the schedule. I don’t even remember what that feels like anymore.

Bryce is finishing up Paramedics school this year. He should be done sometime around March. He is taking the shift based class, which means he is in school one day and works two. Sometimes he is at school on a Saturday even. I have no idea what he is doing on any given day. One day he might be gone all day working, one day he comes home from school at noon, one day he’s home from school at three. Some day’s he has 12 hour clinical at the ER, one day he’ll be home all day studying. I am clueless as to what he is doing.

Gunnar is, for the first time in his life, not in school. He is working full time at a landscaping business and in the middle of the process of getting hired on to the Houston Fire Department. If he gets hired, he’ll be moving to Houston probably before the end of the year. If he does not get hired, he’ll be starting Paramedics school in January. So, who knows what his year is going to look like for him.

Evelyn is a Senior this year and she is taking all of her classes at the Community College nearby on M/W, and one online. She hates the online class, but the Spanish 3 class we signed her up for didn’t make so she had no choice. She is also working T/TH at the Mother’s Day Out at our church.

Annika is a Sophomore and really the only child I’m homeschooling. She works at the Mother’s Day Out on Tuesday, and attends our homeschool co op on Thursday where she takes all those icky classes, like Anatomy, that I don’t want to teach.  I have a strict, ‘No dissection on my kitchen table!’ policy.

So I am teaching Annika on M/W/F, I have a quiet house on Tuesday, (If the boys are not here, I never really know about them.) and I teach on Thursday mornings at the homeschool Co op.

I have this faint memory of sitting around the table doing our written work together, reading aloud to the kids while the girls brushed my hair and braided it and put clips and bows in it, lunch together…

 I miss those days. A lot. But to be honest, there was also a fair bit of shushing, separating, punishing, and yes, maybe even a bit of yelling. We are all human after all.

They grow up fast, mamas. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hebrews 10: 35-38

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”f
“But my righteousg one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”h
39But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

A reminder. For me. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Evelyn's 17!

Goody bags for a 17 year olds birthday party? I had a better idea.

Instead of goody bags I sent all the cousins to the waterpark with a water bottle filled with treats. The kind of things I thought a bunch of teenage girls would appreciate during a day at the waterpark.

There are hairbands, apple sauce packets, pieces of gum, several Kool-Aid packets, fruit leather, and some sunscreen Chapstick. And there is the added bonus of each of them having a water bottle at the waterpark they can refill throughout the day. I hope they are having a blast!