We’re Back! First Grade Update

Well, after a very long hiatus from blogging I have decided to try and get back in the habit. I especially want to be able to keep track of our journey through homeschooling for my own nostalgia and also as a nice way for Camden to look back on her schooling years.

Camden recently turned 7 years old (in December) and is in the 1st grade. Both last year and this year have been choppy and inconsistent with regards to homeschooling. Last year it was due to Camden’s prolonged illness and this year it is because of family circumstances. Nevertheless, we have found our groove again and Camden (and I) are both really beginning to enjoy homeschooling together.

We are currently using the following curriculum:

Language Arts: Phonics Road Level One

Math: Singapore Math 1B (U.S. Edition)

Logic: Mind Benders Grades 1-2

Science: Nancy Larson Science 2

History: Story of the World: Ancients (class at a private homeschool Co-op) plus we listen to the CD’s at home before bed sometimes

Chess: An introductory Chess class (homeschool co-op)

Science Class: a second hands on Science class (homeschool co-op)

Ballet Class: (homeschool co-op)

I will now post some pictures along with some details of what Camden is doing in each subject.

Math: Camden just recently finished a unit on graphs and is now working on unit 3 which is working with numbers to 40. This is mostly all review for her and so far does not seem to pose much of a challenge all though the previous units that we did on addition and subtraction in 1A have made it much easier for her to solve problems with a quicker speed. The biggest difference I’ve noticed in the last couple of weeks is that she is reversing her numbers a lot less often and her ability to write out her own answers and handwriting in general is getting easier for her. Before, she would tell me the answers and I would write them down for her otherwise the work would seem too overwhelming to her.

Language Arts: Camden’s improvement in Language Arts has been very impressive. I can’t sing enough praises about the Phonics Road program. It has been such an exceptional program for both her and I. I am learning just as much as she is and the method used has really helped her to understand not only how words are spelled but why and is thus helping her to approach unfamiliar words with more confidence. My favorite part is watching her apply the concepts she is learning in Phonics Road across the curriculum. She notices the rules we are learning and is becoming a great speller. She read her first paragraph this week from her Science curriculum.

Some of the concepts we have been working on over the last couple of weeks are: silent final “e”, two syllable words, base words do not end in “a” use “ay”, etc. I have also included a few pictures of her reading “He Bear, She Bear” to the kids.

Science: In the last week we have decided to move away from the Elemental Science curriculum we were using (boring) to Nancy Larson Science 2. I am so glad I made the switch. Camden is loving it and learning a lot. Science is one of her favorites subjects now. Our first unit is on Physics. We are learning about matter and how Physicists classify matter. So far we’ve learned about living vs non-living, natural vs man made, solids and how solids are classified by color, luster and texture. She has learned how to determine what a paragraph will be about by reading the bold faced word, has learned how to highlight definitions of important words and is having fun in general.

Logic: Camden does a Mind Bender “puzzle” every day. She loves them. Sometimes we do more than one a day but I’ve tried to cut back to just one because it makes our school day shorter and also because we are moving through the book too fast. LOL

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Marshmallow Math

To change things up a little bit today we decided to use mini-marshmallows as manipulatives for teaching the plus 8 facts. This, of course, went over very well and Garrett was very eager to join in.

He insisted on doing his own math so I copied Camden’s review sheet for him and he scribbled on it with pencil.

Camden is doing great with her math and is grasping new concepts quickly. We introduced adding plus 8 today with Math-u-see and did an overall review of all of the lessons she’s done within the program thus far. We are also still using Math Mammoth and sometimes Singapore math. For extra drill practice we are using Rod & Staff blacklines.


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Our New Tradition: The Nativity Story as Copywork

For the last week or so I have been trying to come up with a new tradition to implement that we could do every day as part of “school” but also something that really focused on God. We are reading about Jesus’ birth every day from The Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell but I still wanted something more.

Camden was working on her copywork from Writing With Ease today and kept gushing about how much she looooooved copywork and how it was her favorite subject. It then dawned on me to incorporate that.

So, I decided (with her overwhelming and eager approval) that we would start a new tradition of turning the Nativity Story into copywork. I decided to use Luke ch 2: 1-16 and break up the 16 verses over 24 days so that we’ll complete it on Christmas Eve.

Each day she will copy a verse and then cut it out and glue it to a poster-board so that we are reading more and more of the story each day from her own hand. We are also reading the entire thing from the Bible itself each day. My guess is that she’ll have most of it memorized by Christmas Eve.

As she gets older we’ll add more verses or add in the stories from the other books. Eventually we’ll move on to having her write it from dictation or even from memory. I’d also have her add in the verse numbers and maybe do it in cursive or calligraphy, etc.

Here are pictures from our first attempt at our new tradition. It’s not very fancy this year since we just threw it together today. Camden spiced it up with her picture of baby Jesus. I had to suppress a laugh when she showed me her finished work. It looked to me as if baby Jesus was on fire and I also thought it was funny that he was swaddled in a pink blanket. That is Camden for you. 🙂

I will also link to the PDF files for the copywork in case anyone else would like to do this with their kids as well. If they are too young to copy it you could just cut them out and have them glue one onto a poster-board each day. When you go to print the files, just print page 1. Page 2 on each PDF can be ignored.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven

Day Eight

Day Nine

Day Ten

Day Eleven

Day Twelve

Day Thirteen

Day Fourteen

Day Fifteen

Day Sixteen

Day Seventeen

Day Eighteen

Day Nineteen

Day Twenty

Day Twenty-one

Day Twenty-two

Day Twenty-three

Day Twenty-four

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Story of the World on CD

Story of the World has found an almost constant presence in our home and I am so thankful for it. Story of the World is a world history program for children that follows history chronologically. It is done simply and told in such a way that it is captivating for children (and adults). I am sad to report that *I* have learned many things from this program even though it is designed for children in grades 1-4.

There are four volumes to story of the world. The first volume (the one we are currently using) begins with ancient history beginning with nomads and ending with the fall of Rome. We have the book, activity guide and the book on CD. We have fallen in love with the CD’s and listen to them in the car and Camden listens to them almost every night before bed. Listening to CD’s over and over again. It has opened the door to a love of history.

We started by reading the book and following the activities in the activity guide however this was not as engaging to her as simply listening to the stories on CD. She does much better listening to the stories over and over and likes not having to stop to dig deeper yet. So, I’ve put a hold on all of the extra reading material from the library and the activities. We are doing occasional mapwork and coloring pages now and instead focusing on familiarizing ourselves with all of the people, places and stories. We have been able to listen all the way through Story of The World volume 1 and will begin volume 2 soon. I will let her listen as far into the entire 4 volumes as she maintains interest.  My plan is to begin Story of the World volume 1 again next year and go more in-depth again as the program is designed.

I would suggest this program even for kids in public school. Public school tends not to follow world history in the early years anyway and this is such a great and fun way to learn about history. You’ll be surprised how fast you get through it just by listening to it in the car.

I can not say enough good things about this program. I am so thankful we gave it a try and I am especially grateful that we tried the audio CD’s even though we had the book and activity guide. I didn’t really see why the CD’s would make much of a difference but it does.

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Draw Write Now books

We discovered the series of Draw Write Now, Books and love them to pieces. It has really helped Camden’s confidence level in her drawing abilities and to break down what she wants to draw in her mind. Her drawing is still best when she uses the examples from the books but I can see the skills transferring into her free hand drawing as well.

In fact, we loved the first book that we got so much we wound up purchasing the entire boxed set. Prior to using these books Camdens drawing and coloring skills were pretty basic. She didn’t give her pictures a lot of detail and in terms of coloring she was still mostly coloring with one or two colors and coloring outside the lines, etc.

Here are a few of the drawings Camden and I have done with Draw Write Now. She is 5. I did the owl picture and one of the pumpkins.

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Feeding Garrett

I’ve been meaning to put together a post listing the foods Garrett can eat for quite some time. One of those pet projects that is always on the back burner. I wanted to do it just so I remember what foods he can eat (we tend to forget some of them as he gets in food ruts) and also to help other parents who are in the awful discovery phase and have no idea what to feed their children. One of my best friends, Emeth, has discovered that her youngest son has extreme food allergies just like Garrett. They are allergic to all of the same foods plus Garrett has a few more.

Here are Garrett’s known food allergies (all IgE mediated) at age 2 years and 4 months:

Egg, Wheat, Dairy, Soy, Peanut, Sesame seed, Sunflower seed, lentils and beans in general (we’re not sure if all yet), pea, chickpea, dog and rice.

Rice is the only food we have not removed from his diet. We have not seen any reaction to it so far. Other foods he is in jeopardy of losing based on previous skin prick testing are chicken, beef, corn and potato. If it gets to that point I’m not sure what we’ll do since those are staple foods he relies on now.

Also, as a quick note to family and friends. This is what you can do for us, well for Garrett mostly. Please try not to be sorry for him. I know we will all feel it on the inside but it’s our job to work through those emotions for him. Trust that God will protect and provide for these children and show it in the way you react to their restrictions. As Garrett is getting older he is listening more to what people say. Please stop making comments about how awful it must be or how hard it must be for him not to eat such and such, or “poor guy” or what have you. Trust me, I go through so many days when this is what I am thinking and I have “why me” moments for both him and I. But I don’t want to hold Garrett back and I don’t want to dwell on the negative. Let’s be thankful for what he CAN eat. Let’s be thankful that he has the chance to live on this earth, to have a family and to be a part of Heavenly Father’s plan. Let’s be thankful that he is one of the lucky children whose allergies were discovered and removed from his diet before it was too late. It does Garrett a disservice to feel sorry for him. Feeling sorry for someone has never helped them to rise above their challenge in life. For now, and the foreseeable future, food is Garrett’s challenge. But you know, it doesn’t hold him back. He doesn’t know any better. He still loves life, is his happy ornery self and doesn’t look back. The emotions are more a challenge for us to deal with, to place into Heavenly Father’s hands and move on with faith and thankfulness.

I say all of this just as much for me as I do for the people that I love and that love Garrett. Just as it does no good to dwell on the “why me” of being blind, or deaf or physically or mentally handicapped it does no good to dwell on food that does the body harm. We all have our mountain to conquer, let’s equip those we love that face this mountain to face it, embrace it and climb it.

Someday I’ll organize this better but since I’m short on time here is just a thrown together list. I’m focusing on processed and packaged foods since it’s easy to say “eat an orange or eat some broccoli. Obviously you can eat/make any of these foods from scratch. I will also list the places we get these foods for those that are local. I have found that the best, most affordable, resource is Trader Joes.

Without getting into the negative of living life and parenting such a high “food needs” child. Here is what Garrett CAN eat:

  • Spaghetti made with brown rice noodles (noodles from TJ)
  • Homemade chili
  • Homemade Potato Soup with steamed cauliflower to make it creamy (I will post recipe later)
  • All beef natural hot dogs from Trader Joes
  • All natural bacon
  • Sausage and rice, cook the rice in chicken broth
  • Spaghetti sauce and rice
  • Wheat and Dairy free waffles from Trader Joes
  • Hashbrown patties from Trader Joes
  • Joe’s O’s cereal from Trader Joes (this is like Cheerios but without wheat in them)
  • Rice milk
  • Rice Krispies
  • Ironically enough: Captain Crunch, Cocoa Puffs
  • French fries
  • Tater Tots
  • Oat & Honey Crunchy Granola Bars – Trader Joes
  • Organic Olive Oil & Salt popcorn – Trader Joes
  • Rice Balls – Trader Joes (a puffed snack made from rice)
  • prepared Corned Beef & Hash – Trader Joes
  • Instant organic Oatmeal: Maple and Brown Sugar, Apples & Cinnamon – Trader Joes
  • Gorilla Munch (cereal made from Corn) – Trader Joes
  • Puffins (cereal) – Trader Joes
  • Mashed potatoes made with chicken broth
  • Precooked frozen chicken strips – Costco (very handy. Garrett needs a lot of meat protein and we don’t keep a lot of raw meat on hand)
  • Meatballs and rice – Haggens (For some reason he can tolerate the Bourbon honey meatballs from haggens they have a little bit of soy and wheat in the sauce)
  • Ketchup – it saves a lot of meals for him. He usually eats grilled chicken plain now but before that he dipped it in ketchup
  • Barbeque sauce from Trader Joes
  • Freeze Dried Mangoes – Trader Joes
  • Steemed carrots (Garrett doesn’t like many vegetables but I just chop some baby carrots, throw them in a bowl with a little water, cover most of the way with plastic wrap and nuke for a few minutes. He loves them. )
  • Corn
  • Canned fruit (peaches, pears, tropical fruit medley, mandarin oranges)
  • fresh fruit
  • Exotic Rice Toast crackers “Jasmine Rice & Spring Onion” – Food Co-op (Garrett lives and breathes these crackers. They are yummy and he’ll eat an entire package in one day if I let him).
  • Hillshire summer sausage
  • lunch meat ham and turkey
  • White rice (he enjoys eating it plain)
  • Taco meat (eaten with corn chips, mixed with rice, eaten in a corn taco shell – the ones from TJ’s he can eat)
  • “Sugar bread” this is Brown Rice bread with garrett’s “butter” and cinnamon and sugar (We get our rice bread from Trader Joes and keep it in the freezer and toast it on the highest setting from frozen)
  • “Butter” we use Spectrums Organic Shortening which is made from palm oil and is non-hydrogenated
  • A birthday cake – we made a Rice Krispy cake using spectrum shortening instead of butter and put dots and sprinkles on it and shaped it in a cake shape.
  • Rice cakes
  • Corn puffs (cereal) – Food Co-op
  • Kettle Barbecue Flavored chips – Fred Meyer (one of his favorite foods)
  • Carmel Corn (Trader Joes)
  • Soda (he loves it and gets it when we go to restaurants)
  • to go fruit cups
  • Squeezable fruit pouches from Trader Joes, apple and carrot (He loves these but they are expensive)
  • Candy (he can eat pretty much any type of candy that is not chocolate based but not taffy – it has egg and butter. His favorites are Dots and skittles and suckers)
  • quinoa and rice blend – Costco
  • frozen rice individual packs –   Trader Joes
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies – recipe later

I will list more foods as I think of them. This is just a short list I came up with off the top of my head this morning. Most of the foods listed are our “to go” foods. The foods that usually travel with us in the car or to people’s houses, etc. It is difficult to feed them anywhere else than home and toddlers need to eat constantly so that is why I listed so many processed items. You’ll notice Garrett’s diet isn’t very balanced. It is mostly meat, carbs, fruit and veggies. Garrett doesn’t like veggies much and other than carrots, corn and potatoes it is hard to get him to eat them. We can’t wait until our vitamix that we’ll get later this month which should really help increase his veggie consumption. We also survive by giving Garrett a liquid vitamin supplement: GBG’s 10-in-1.

Here are some foods Garrett can no longer eat but that he enjoyed before he lost them. Maybe these will help someone else:

  • Frito’s bean dip
  • Hummus
  • lentil soup
  • Sunbutter (as a peanut butter alternative)

A few things I’ve noticed over time with Garrett:

Garrett’s reactions are worse when he’s sick or after he’s been sick. This is because his overall inflammation has been high and I suspect that the good bacteria in his gut is lower and thus he has a harder time digesting food in general. He will react to foods he does not normally react to when he’s been sick

Going out to restaurants with kids like Garrett is tough. It will get easier as he gets older and less picky. I can’t wait until he can order a steak, for example. For now Garrett eats way too many fries and tater tots for his age. At most restaurants he’ll eat fries and whatever fresh fruit they carry. At restaurants that carry rice we get steamed rice. Oh, and soda. He loves root beer.

This will not be the answer for everyone but it sure has helped me. I had to learn to let go of my ideal nutrition. Should a toddler have lots of soda and candy ideally? No, of course not but Garrett does. Should a small child eat a lot of French Fries? No, but Garrett does. Should kids eat products that have corn syrup in them? No,  no one should but Garrett does. My stress factor went way down when I just learned to let go. If Garrett can physically eat it, I usually let him. Obviously, I try to limit as much as possible or find healthier alternatives to the same food but I’m learning to relax. I think healthy, whole foods are important but so is sanity. I can not describe how frustrating it is that my son can not eat a bowl of lentils and rice or fresh bread but can easily eat McDonalds french fries, DOTS that are full of unimaginable chemical horrors and corn syrup laden anything. I find it very ironic actually but I’ve learned to let go.

From early on be okay with saying “not for Garrett” (insert your child’s name). Don’t be really apologetic about it. Be simple and to the point. I sometimes give a simple, “I’m sorry” but I don’t make a big deal out of it. Explain that it will make him sick and offer an alternative he can have. Always have food on hand that is okay to eat. I always try to have something he really likes on hand, just in case. Try to find something he can eat from wherever you are. You’ll find quickly that your child doesn’t just want something from home when you are out and about. Fries and fruit exist almost at every restaurant so get some of that and then supplement with things you bring from home.

In terms of baking, good luck. I’ve tried many different cook books that are supposed to be great for allergic kids and with how much we have to substitute the end result is usually pretty awful. I have found a decent chocolate chip cookie recipe if the cookies are kept in the fridge they hold their shape okay and they taste good. But most other baked products I’ve tried have been a waste of money. They typically have bad texture. As he gets older we’ll make some more attempts.

Smile, it could be worse. Pray, when it is.

Posted in Family Ramblings, Food Allergies | 4 Comments

Decorating for Christmas

We are all feeling the Christmas spirit early this year. We’ve been enjoying Christmas music since before Thanksgiving and also brought out our decorations this last weekend. We have lots of new decorations, mainly snowmen (my favorite), since Mike’s parents had to purge most of their holiday decorations this summer. I haven’t taken pictures of the various decorations yet but here are some pics of the kids decorating the tree this year.

It is getting to be more fun as the kids get older.

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