Friday, March 28, 2014

A peek inside my brain 10 minutes ago

Mommy/sleep deprived brain: Ugh. I just want a nap. The baby is sleeping, I should be sleeping, too.
COFFEE: No sleep! I'm wide awake! Let's get something DONE!
Gifted brain: Oh! I want to clean and organize the play room! Or finally put together the Ikea shelves! But first I have to clean up the living room and wash the walls and....
Depression: I'm not doing any of that crap; too much effort. I'm just going to stay in bed.
COFFEE & Gifted brain: Well, we should at least BLOG!!!
Anxiety: But I don't have anything to blog about, I haven't done anything special. And I'm back logged on the series I'm working on. And the guest posts I promised other blogs. It's been almost two weeks, how do I explain my absence? I'm not ready to write about homeschooling with depression; I don't have any helpful advice. Just putting stuff down isn't good enough; no one's going to want to spend their valuable time reading that. And I don't want to be a total downer; then no one will want to ever read my blog again.

End result: nothing gets done, not even a nap, and I'm more emotionally paralyzed than ever.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Silly gear courtesy of Great Grandma

Well, I did not make any plans for St. Patrick's Day other than our family's tradition of corned beef, red potatoes, and cabbage. But they talked about it in Builder Boy's Sunday school class, so this morning he was full of ideas. He's going through a crafting kick, so he wanted to make green shamrocks. I taught them how to make one out of hearts.

It was all Builder Boy's idea to put the three parts of the Trinity on his project. We re-watched the VeggieTales St. Patrick's Day skit and Builder Boy insisted on adding that part.

Builder Boy also wanted a green lunch, so he chose a tuna fish sandwich with salad and Early Bird chose salad with spinach, tomatoes, and cheese. Not exactly your exciting, Pinterest worthy celebration. But I'm glad I went with Builder Boy's idea. They're happy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Self Portrait Color Therapy

I have been struggling so much lately. I don't want to get in to that right now, but it's been sucky. (Yes, Spell Check, "sucky" IS a word, I don't care if you don't like it. (Totally fangirl channeling The Bloggess))

Anyway, stuff has been more difficult to deal with lately so I did something I haven't done in a very long time. I made an abstract self portrait using what I call Color Therapy.

When I was in high school I read a book about color psychology. I don't remember the title, but some of it stuck with me, especially the emotions ascribed to different colors. A year later a new friend and I developed a rapport and worked together taking turns drawing what we saw in each other, based on the order of colored crayons the person chose. I also started doing abstract, geometric self portraits of myself, attempting to shut down my over-thinking and just feel what I was doing, and then once I was done analyzed the result to see if I was ignoring how I was feeling about something.

This week, almost 10 years later, I remembered that technique and purchased a 50 color set of colored pencils and some watercolor paper. (I prefer the texture.) This was the result of my first attempt:

The World Without, The World Within

I'm not sure how long it took (Principal Daddy was home and kept the kids happy so I could have the space and time to do this) but it was at least an hour. I've shared the result with a small group and they expressed interest in the process, so I thought I'd write it up here for anyone who would like to try something similar.
You do not have to be an expert on color psychology. What is most important is identifying what emotions each color makes you feel, and then using them to express what you're feeling.

When I go through all the colors/emotions, starting at on point in the spectrum and using all of the colors in the rainbow, I end up feeling more calm, centered, and balanced.
I always start with the profile/outline. Sometimes it's a split face for conflicting emotions, sometimes, like here, it shows the contrast between how I'm feeling on the inside and how I perceive the world. Sometimes I am unhappy with the first attempts at the shape. I don't try for accuracy, rather a representation outline that I am happy with. With this attempt I used a white colored pencil and once I had what worked for me, went over it several times to make a deep indent.

I did not always put recognizable facial features on the portraits I did ten years ago. Those looked more like Picasso wannabes. But this time I felt very drawn to include an eye. Nothing else; just an eye. I knew that I intended to use a range of non-realistic colors with this project, but I felt compelled to make the eye as realistic as my meager skills were capable of. Honestly, I'm quite shocked at how well it turned out. I've never done such a good job before, and I'll probably never be able to replicate it.

Work in Progress
Then I colored in the face, expressing how I felt inside. Half way thorough I had the idea for what I wanted for the outside. Once I finished the whole work I realized that that muted, gray, slightly fuzzy/bland feeling inside meant I was/am depressed. I'd suspected earlier that week, but I didn't really recognize it as such until after I stood back and looked at what I had made.

So to recap, to do this yourself;
  1. Assign emotions to each of the 6 basic colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple/violet.
  2. Find some time when you won't be disturbed. (I consider this to be very important.)
  3. Draw an outline or profile. Make several, if you need to, until you are happy with what you have.
  4. Try to turn off your brain as much as possible and use intuition/what you feel drawing you.
  5. Color. Try to eventually get through all the colors if you are looking for balance. If you're just looking for expression and more discovery, only use what feels comfortable. 
  6. Step back, take a minute, and then use your brain to analyze what you're created.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Slow and Steady Week 30 (and Week 11)

For Age 0, Week 30 of Slow and Steady Get Me Ready the activity is to encourage your baby to crumple paper and, if they're interested, to then throw it into a box.

A few weeks ago when I was first looking ahead at lessons, I was not sure that this was an activity that Lady Bug would be able to do. But then I noticed that when given a napkin or a paper towel, she would crumple it all on her own. So developmentally, I'd say the book is pretty much on track.

I didn't want something quite as harsh as regular paper, so I used some softer paper that had been used to pack an order that I had saved. I had the idea this would be a fun game with tissue paper and a gift bag, but I couldn't find my tissue paper. Lady Bug had plenty of fun crinkling the packing paper.

So much fun, in fact, that her brothers decided that they wanted to crinkle paper, too. And throw it. Thankfully, I had plenty of paper. Lady Bug not only got to practice fine motor skills by crumpling up the paper, but she also practiced hand-eye coordination by reaching and trying to grab one of the papers her brothers held out for her.

Lady Bug loved this. She also liked putting the paper in her mouth, so be aware of what type of paper you give your baby. Any time you need help crinkling tissue paper for gift bags, I highly recommend a baby six months or older. Including up to age 4.9 and 7.

We also did the suggested activity from Week 11, with one adjustment. The book, recommends early on making a colorful sock ball to use in various activities. That's where I got hung up so many months ago. But I realized the exact same effect could be had with a small stuffed toy. And, it turns out, I was doing something very similar to week 11 already. I just hadn't realized it. I started the bird near her diaper and had it "hop" along her torso up to her neck, and repeated or let her grab it; whichever happened. Even though it's almost 20 weeks behind, Lady Bug still enjoys trying to catch the bird.

 Slow and Steady Get Me Ready has a preview available at Google Books. It can also be purchased at (the picture of the book is an affiliate link.)

I don't get paid for reviews; all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How I'm Teaching Geography (Without the Kids Realizing They're Doing School)

I checked my blog (Yay! for blogging aka my only way of keeping records) and it's been almost two years since we've done any "official" geography lessons at our school. Builder Boy had a lot of fun learning about maps with Principal Daddy, but they never actually finished the book.

A few weeks ago I ordered the dvd of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - The Complete Series . We are picky about what our kids watch, and we don't have regular tv/cable. So far I haven't noticed anything that has made me regret the decision; and Builder Boy telling me the highest mountain in the world is Mt. Everest and that it's located in Nepal tells me that the educational value is defiantly there. I "reward" them with an episode or two if they get their school work done or need some down/quiet time. Silly kids don't even realize they're learning important stuff!

The boys have been showing a lot of interest in the states, especially since we've moved. Some homeschooling friends recommended The Scrambled States of America and so I purchased the book and the Scrambled States game. (I really don't think the book is enough on it's own.) The boys love the silly story and the game, and can play it on their own when they want to. We play the noncompetitive kid way for now, until they're a bit older and faster at it. Without me even having to make a point of it, they're learning the capitols and the nicknames!

So proud of himself!
The Scrambled States of America game is great for them to learn the individual states and capitol, but it's not so great at teaching the kids where they all fit together. Especially for my kinetic learner. So after a week or so with the game and their knowledge of the states was pretty impressive, I ordered the Melissa & Doug USA Map 51 pcs Floor Puzzle with (most) of the individual states as the pieces. Builder Boy LOVES this puzzle and is putting it together several times a week, all on his own. He is very proud of doing it without any help, and he likes to "review" at the end by showing every.single.state. to an adult and tell them what it is and what he knows about it. He also enjoyed "quizzing" relatives when they were visiting last week. He's having so much fun, and as it's never been called school, he's learning for fun!

If you don't want to deal with a whole big puzzle, and have an extra state map hanging around, I found a great idea on Pinterest for turning that map into a puzzle. You can even add magnets to the back.

Then a few days ago, while Principal Daddy was looking for apps for the new tablet, I got asked "have you ever heard of Stack the States?" Had I! I'd just forgotten about it. We happened to get the app on a day that it was free (right now it's only $0.99!) Watching Builder Boy play made me realize he'd picked up more than I thought he had. I also learned that it's not just rote learning. The app is asking questions about locations, relations to things that haven't been directly taught. And he's applying what he's learned about abbreviations from our grammar lessons to the questions about the state abbreviations, which he's never been taught beyond our state abbreviation for our address. It's also exposing him to the state flags; when he can't guess it right, it tells him the answer, so he's learning even more thought the app!

And just to round it all out with Early Bird's learning style, I found a neat states and capitols song on youtube! We haven't listened to it very many times yet, but we will be listening to it more, as well the the Tour the World song.

I do have blank regional maps that they could label, but that would be school. I'm just going to keep letting them "play" with what we have and call it above and beyond acceptable for Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

Friday, March 7, 2014

How We Got Our School's Name

This is a picture of the boys when I came up with our school name. I think Early Bird is 2 and Builder Boy is 4 years old in this picture. They are definitely rough and tumble boys. They really loved the Tangled movie. And in many ways they reminded me of the Ruffians. Guys who hit and kick but have hearts of gold.

I always wanted a Latin word in our school name. Yes, it's a bit pretentious, but it made us feel smart. One of my favorite books in high school was How to Insult, Abuse & Insinuate in Classical Latin. (Yes, I was a nerd in high school.) That book is where I found the sceleratus/ruffians translation. "Perfect!" I thought. And that's how Sceleratus Classical Academy was born.

Now that I have a daughter, will I be changing it? Probably not. Lady Bug can be the Repunzel to their Ruffians and swing frying pans along with them.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Guest Post from Homeschooling Hatters

And now for something completely different!

Okay, so not really.  It's only one difference, but sometimes it seems like a span of oceans.

For those who don't know me, I'm Care, the mama behind the sporadically-updated Homeschooling Hatters.  We really are all mad 'round here.  Anyhow, I'm Care, my husband is The Great Skeeve, and our son is Mad Natter.  Mad Natter is situated right between Mrs Warde's Early Bird and Builder Boy – about a half year or so older than Early Bird.  Mrs Warde has saved my sanity more times than I can count, as our boys keep reaching higher, and we're standing back gaping at them.

The thing that makes Mad Natter so very different from Early Bird, though, is that while both boys are leaps and bounds ahead of their age-peers in most respects, Mad Natter has Sensory Processing Disorder, along with a potential for additional letters that we haven't been able to assess yet.  What SPD means in our house, is that Mad Natter has some very extensive troubles with some of his Executive Function skills – namely things like planning and future thinking, as well as some issues with focus and impulse control, as well as a lot of excess energy.  It used to be that our days were fairly short, but extremely frustrating all around.

We would start our school days with Magic School Bus science, giving us some time to get in gear before we started our sitting down work.  Then we'd work on our subjects, one after the other, have a break, finish up, and play away the rest of the day.  When you're five, this seems like a pretty good plan, all in.  But, when you're five with sensory issues, that easy day turns sour very quickly.  First, there's a meltdown over which episode of Magic School Bus to watch.  The one we need to for our science work, or the random one we watched twelve times yesterday?  I think we can tell which of us wanted which video.  Once the video was watched, we'd move on to math.  You'd think math would be easy, as we were working on things with manipulatives – fun stuff!  Nope.  The manipulatives became cars, and a ten minute lesson would take an hour in redirection. Writing?  You can forget it. The shouting back and forth quickly hit legendary. The rest of our subjects quickly hit a boiling point as well.  He was frustrated with me, I was unhappy with him, and our days went poorly.  We didn't like each other very much – which is really sad!

Recently, though, we've gotten some long awaited sensory interventions.  All of a sudden, our days have done a complete 180*, and I couldn't be happier about it!  First, we've nixed the battle over Magic School Bus.  How? We watch two episodes.  A simple solution that neither of us saw at the time.  Then we have sensory brushing.  Now for those unfamiliar with sensory brushing, it means we take a Sensory Brush, and rub Mad Natter's arms, legs, and back with it.  This helps him calm his nervous system, allowing him more control over his own reactions, as well as helping with his need for motion.  Mad Natter needs to MOVE.  All the time. He runs, and runs, and runs, and runs, lap after lap around the house, and doesn't stop.  Brushing helps him get his senses reset so that need to run all the time is quelled, and he is able to sit calmly on his bumpy cushion and work.

Once we have our brushing done, we work on math. We're extremely informal about it.  This past week, Mad Natter has sat on my lap, and I wrote what he dictated onto the page.  No fighting, and suddenly the math that was taking us an hour... was back to taking us ten minutes.  After math, because it involves a lot of mental focus, we have a break.  I quickly check my email and the physical mail, and Mad Natter runs up to his room to jump on his trampoline.  Once he's had a good minute or two of purely physical exertion, he comes back down and we work on grammar and writing.  Now, these are boring subjects for an active little boy so once they're done, we take another break.  This time, it's a bathroom and snack break.  Then, once those are done, Mad Natter hops around the house in the same circuit he used to run.  First on one foot, then the other.  Truthfully, this usually ends up as more of a gallop than a hop, but the effect is the same – he gets to move and get his wiggles out.  Then we do some work on science projects and reading, and finally we work on spelling.  Spelling in and of itself is a much loved subject, especially now that I have a great board that's mounted on the wall!  It means he can stand and balance on his cushion while he spells, giving him the ability to keep on moving, and still keep his focus.  It's been a wonderful thing.

Now, by this point, it seems like our days are taking forever instead of just the hour and a half I plan for.  Truthfully, this isn't the case at all. Even adding in the time for all the jumping, bouncing, running off, and hopping around, schoolwork now takes less time than it did before. There's less fighting, less yelling, and a lot more work getting done, and while our days take two hours now instead of one and a half, they are so much more peaceful that it carries over into the rest of the day as well.

We've also implemented a partial workbox system.  I picked up a ten-drawer cart which we are now using to hold subjects.  Each subject is in a drawer, and we work systematically through the drawers until we reach the end.  There is more to workboxing than just this, but we're still working with our OT to get our full visual scheduling implemented.  Once we get our cards in from the OT, we'll put cards on each box, as well as number cards.  That way Mad Natter can see what subject is next (math, science, etc), as well as what number of subjects he has to work on that day.  We will also be able to visually schedule our breaks, so he can see when his next break is, what he will do for it, and if he wants to do something different, we can work together to get the scheduling in hand.

However, even without all the pieces in place, our days are more and more manageable, easier to handle with each other, and just more fun.  Dealing with gifted children can be trying on the best of days. Gifted children whose bodies need more for some reason, who don't understand why their bodies need these things, or how to appropriately get these things...  That's trying with a side of Hang On Tight, This is Gonna Be a Doozy of a Ride! -- ~Care

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Slow and Steady: Week 29 (and Week 7)

This week's guest teacher in "Baby School" is Builder Boy! For Age 0, Week 29 of Slow and Steady Get Me Ready the activities include stacking four items and then knocking them down and saying "down." Builder Boy was the perfect helper for this lesson and did it with great enthusiasm. Lady Bug, being a people person, was more interested in looking at big brother than watching the blocks. But we'll keep doing it  for a few weeks and see if she starts to pay attention.

After the blocks, Builder Boy got one of each of the wood block shapes he has and introduced her to different shapes. He even got her to reach out and grab one. (This was his own addition to the "lesson.")

Then we did the activity from Week 7 which involved shaking a noise maker around in different areas and observing baby's reaction. Lady Bug is quite a bit older than 7 weeks so she had no problem identifying where the sound was coming from and moving her head to look towards it.
Slow and Steady Get Me Ready has a preview available at Google Books. It can also be purchased at (the picture of the book is an affiliate link.)

I don't get paid for reviews; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Introduction to Carschooling (Guest Post)

Turn wasted time into learning time with Carschooling

As an educator, I believe in giving children free time to play around in the backyard, goof-off, and generally be a kid. But let’s face it; time spent in the car is usually wasted time. Some people use extended car trips as an opportunity for their children to break out the DS. In our household, car time is used strategically and purposefully. That’s because carschooling is one of the easiest ways to expand on your child’s education. You have a captive audience on your hands, so you might as well use that to your advantage! Here are some of my favorite educational CDs for all ages. They are available at Amazon or (hopefully) your local library. So buckle up and let the learning begin!  

  • Shakespeare for Children by Jim Weiss
  • The Three Musketeers and Robin Hood
  • King Arthur and his Knights by Jim Weiss
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Math and Science
  • Galileo and the Stargazers by Jim Weiss
  • Addition Rap by Brad Caudle
  • Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer
  • Speak Spanish with Dora and Diego
Musical History
  • Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Barbara Nichol
  • Mr. Bach Comes to Call by Karen Lavut
  • Tchaikovsky Discovers America by Douglas Cowling

 Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column I Brake for Moms for The Everett Daily Herald. Her dream is to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education. When she's not reading books with her kids or tripping over their toys, she blogs about early education at Teaching My Baby to Read .

Monday, March 3, 2014

This Week at Sceleratus Classical Academy

Family is coming, family is coming! I have visitors this week so we're taking it off from school so we can devote every moment to company. So, I have scheduled posts for this week including TWO guest posts!

The first is from Jen from Teaching My Baby to Read. I first heard of carschooling from her and lately have been trying some out including the Teaching Thanksgiving in the Car Plan I posted over at Sandbox to Socrates and the recent reading in the car.

The second guest post is from Care at Homeschooling Hatters.

I'll also be posting the next week of Slow and Steady.

See ya next week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The tide is rising
higher and higher

It ebbs, it flows
but still it comes
stronger and stronger

Tied up and bound
there's no escaping

Help me.

A king couldn't stop it
and I'm just a girl

The tide is coming
and I'm drowning

I can't stop the wave
it's overpowering

You tell me it's not a force of nature;
I don't believe you

You say it's not the tide
but I don't have the faith of a mustard seed

I am captive to its power
it's inevitable

no stopping
no escape

higher and higher
stronger and stronger

under water

Constant Building Anxiety

swallowed up
the tide keeps rising
   and I can't halt it

no escape
   there is no where to run

I can't breath
it hurts to try
all I want to do it cry
   but I can't let myself

no end in sight
it's so unfair
this was done to me
   and it's still happening

shaking now
what am I supposed to do?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lady Bug is Seven Months Old!

Lady Bug is seven months old! She is close to sitting up on her own now, but not quite. She can stay sitting up on our bed long enough to take a picture, but not much longer. She is sleeping thought the night mostly, with just a little bit of fussing once in a while.Naps during the day are short but she's doing okay.

She is in 6 month or 6-9 month clothes now. She still won't eat any other food other than a bottle, but she does enjoy sucking on watermelon. She acts like she's teething but nothing has popped up so far.

She enjoys some of her toys now, and she has a standing/supported toy that she will play in for a little while; sometimes.

She has a ridiculous bit of hair on the top of her head that makes her look like a Who or Alfalfa from the Little Rascals that has gotten quite long. I think it's adorable. She's smiley and happy and quite the people person and will let almost anyone hold her.

We're having fun returning to doing Slow and Steady on a regular basis and she grabs her legs and feet a lot. She's starting to be ticklish, and she laughs sometimes but never if she can see the camera.

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