My son insists on writing.  (happy dance)

We are still just doing the basic two exercises.  Free Writing for 5 minutes and 5 minutes on a descriptive paragraph.  After next week, I hope to explore other writing exercises and explore some options for a fun essay.  The writing exercises need to be fun as I need to keep his enthusiasm.  We will do the free-write each day and the descriptive paragraph at least twice a week. 

I need to improve on my descriptive paragraphs I think.  I'm not sure if I'm just not fully into my writing mode yet or if I  just can't grasp the descriptive part of it. But I feel like I'm just talking about the subject and giving the action of the subject rather than describing it.  Todays topic was Spilling a Liquid:

     Spilling a liquid can be disasterous, funny, or simply annoying but always wet.  Liquids are wet and that wetness can cover enormous areas.  Spilling a large amount of liquid is annoying due to the time involved in cleanup and can be disasterous when involving spaghetti sauce which stains, vinegar with it's strong odor or honey leaving a forever sticky residue behind.  Spilling liquids can also be funny when it's a container of ice cold water poured down on an unsuspecting victim's back on a swealtering hot summer day.

So that was my paragraph.  Perhaps I am to critical of myself.  It is after all only a 5 minute paragraph of which we write what comes to our head with no preperation and no time to edit.  I just fill like I told about actions rather than describing....but how else would one describe spilling a liquid?  We are using a list of topics from a book I have. We are trying to add our own topics to the list as we think of them and my son gets to choose the topic of choice each day. I guess some are just easier to describe.  A Cup of Coffee on the first day was my favorite. 

Now we are reading the book Hatchet by Gary Paulson.  I haven't read this book in ages but am enjoying reading it with my son.  Most might say he's a little old for a read-aloud.  But he still likes it and with him reading his own book (currently The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis) and us doing a read-aloud as well, he gets to read more books through the year and I get to as well- plus it's still time we get to spend together and that makes my heart feel good.  Of course, he doesn't snuggle up in my lap anymore (but I still get that from my toddler ) but we do interact- and that makes it wonderful.

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My son WANTED to do writing this morning!   If I knew how to add visuals here there'd be a little figure dancing.....

My son wrote an awesome descriptive paragraph today during our 5 minute description exercise.  Today's topic was CHOCOLATE!

He wrote:

     Chocolate is a smooth and creamy melt in your mouth piece of heaven.  Dark chocolate is yummy when you REALLY need it, but milk chocolate is yummy, sweet, awesome, and amazing.  Whether it is in hot chocolate or by itself, it is definitely the best thing ever.  With ginger, peanuts, toffee, or plain, it will make everyone happy.  If you're feeling depressed dont'take chemical filled antidepressants, take chocolate!  If your happy, chocolate will make you feel even awesomesser!

(It is worth noting that awesomness is his current favorite term)

I did not feel my own piece was as 'awesome':

Chocolate is the best thing for a hectic day.  It's also the best thing for any day.  It's good any TIME of day.  Chocolate is rich and satisfying.  It is sweet and delicious. It is dark and milky.  It is perfect. It is a sweet combination with nuts, strawberries, and milk, or most anything!  It is soothing and a pick-me-up.  Chocolate should be mandatory at meetings, peace talks and all social occasions.  White chocolate is a silly attempt - it lacks all the true decadance of the real thing.

Even though chocolate is my favorite food (yes, I do classify it as a food), I wasn't exactly feeling creative this morning.  But at least what I wrote was something more than what I was writing a couple weeks ago!

Oh, and I thought I'd share this quote that a friend of mine share with me today. I think I'll type it out and post it to my door!

          "If you have come to see me, come on in.

                 If you have come to see my house, please make an appointment!"

I love it!

The past few days have been quite busy. We celebrated my toddler’s 2nd birthday. What a wonderful thing to celebrate. Of course a two year old doesn’t exactly grasp the idea of ‘birthday’, but he did enjoy the Happy Birthday song we sang throughout the day, and he enjoyed the pirogies we had for dinner (they seem to be his favorite…he ate SIX all by himself!). He also seemed to enjoy blowing out his candles (this was evident in that he smiled happily and kept asking to do it again!). We had cupcakes (since he spits when he blows out a candle) and berries on the side (still keeping with the Lenten fast rather than a sugary icing and ice cream). This was obviously a good choice since he didn’t give a hoot about the cupcake and kept begging for more berries! Even with all this excitement, I was actually looking forward to today’s writing lesson all weekend.

Today I began a new approach to writing with my 13 year old son. It has been altogether clear that he has not enjoyed the writing lessons we have had thus far this year. He is quite adamant that he does not like writing. I don’t believe him. I think he does. He enjoys the creative process of writing. But he does not like grammar or using capitals and periods or thinking about sentence or paragraph structure.

He enjoys writing in the journal he received from my sister for his birthday. She came up with a variety of writing topics and wrote them on bits of paper and placed them in a jar. Each night he picks one and writes. He looks forward to this and has made this part of his bedtime routine….completely set apart from anything school related. I love to see this excitement in him about writing. (Maybe it reminds me of myself) I would love to see what he is writing, but I have allowed him to keep it private. But I want to instill that same excitement into at least some of his writing assignments for school.

So today I deleted his last assignment from our lessons ( an 800 word essay about Saint Alexander Nevsky for an essay contest of which required research, note taking, and heavy paraphrasing of sometimes difficult material - in other words - boring for him) and began writing workshop instead. We started with two exercises today.

The first exercise was simply free writing. We each took 5 minutes to simply write whatever came to mind. The rules are simple. You can’t put your pencil down. You must write continuously for 5 minutes. It can be anything. And if you can’t think of something to write….well, then that’s what you write. (I can’t think of what to write. I can’t think of what to write.) It can be the same thing over and over again until you think of something better. This is an exercise I did in my 6th grade inclusion classroom many years ago when I taught in the public schools. The kids always loved this exercise once we did it a few times and they got the hang of the fact it wasn’t to be graded, it didn’t need to be perfect, they didn’t have to share it, and they could really write whatever they wanted Most times kids ended up wanting to share what they wrote. My son did today. We both shared. We laughed over the fact that we both wrote about the annoying sound the dog was making while licking her paws. (It’s a large dog; therefore, a large annoying sound!)

The second exercise was the Description Paragraph. We did this a few years ago and he loved it then. Why did I stop? Whatever the case, we started again today. We picked a topic from a list in the book The Writer’s Workbook by Caroline Sharp . We will soon develop our own list as some of the topics are certainly not what a 13 year old boy wants to describe (kissing!). Today’s topic was A Cup of Coffee. We set the timer for five minutes and simply wrote a descriptive paragraph of a cup of coffee. Just 5 minutes, so while we needed to at least stay on topic, there are no high expectations of an award winning paragraph. The goal is simply, over time, to become better at being descriptive in our writing.

He again wanted to share. ( A good sign, right?) And we enjoyed listening to one another’s work and making comments about the things we liked the most.

Here’s my paragraph:

A cup of coffee is a warming way to start the day. The mug is colorful and large enough to hold the amount to satisfy a sleepy person’s need for the hot liquid inside. The coffee exudes a tempting smell that wakens the taste buds. The brown hot liquid begs for sugar and milk. Once an adequate amount is added, the coffee is a creamy brown and a sweet taste to behold. Drinking a cup of coffee relaxes the mind and awakens it at the same time, preparing the mind to withstand the coming day.

 

I don’t think it’s too bad since I haven’t truly done any creative writing in a couple years now.

All in all I think we had a good time. We ended the writing lesson there for today. It was a success. He even wanted to share what we wrote with his sister at lunchtime. I hope I can keep the enthusiasm going!

Alexander Nevsky (Russian: About this sound Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский (help·info), Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskij; pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪrɐˈslavʲɪtɕ ˈnʲefskʲɪj]; 30 May 1220 – 14 November 1263, proclaimed Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolite Macariy in 1547[1]) was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while employing collaborationist policies towards the powerful Golden Horde.

The above is taken from Wikipedia.  We were looking up several sources today on Saint Alexander.  It is my youngest son's  patron saint.  My oldest son is using it as the topic of his next essay.

Essay writing is not his favorite thing.  He likes writing in his journal.  He does not like writing for an assignment, especially if Mom is actually checking it for grammar and punctuation! 

We are trying a new approach to the whole capitalization and punctuation issue.  We are only working on 6 rules.  I got this idea from one of my homeschooling sources.  It was an article written by the seller of Analytical Grammar- my favorite grammar program thus far!  I chose three rules that my son must ALWAYS follow.  He chose the other three.  Of course, he chose ones he knew he wouldn't use very often.  I knew that would happen (even without the same acknowledgement form the author of the article!).  I chose the two that drive me the craziest that he just must be responsible for and through in one more obvious rule for good measure.  Her is what we came up with:

1.  All sentences must begin with a capital letter and end with correct ending punctuation.

2.  Capitalize all proper nouns(names of specific people, places, events, dates, titles and documents, organizations, trade names, and titles of respect)

3.  Capitalize the pronoun I.  (That's the obvious one....but this eliminates laziness)

4.  Use a two-letter state abbreviateion in uppercase letters and without periods in an address.

5.  To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe.

6.  Use a colon before a list of items.

He must be responsible to follow the above 6 rules at ALL times.  Any time he is caught (and here's the catch he doesn't like) he has to rewrite the ENTIRE sentence over....not just correct the mistake.  What 13 year old wants to rewrite sentences? 

I realize the list is short for a 7th grader. But these are NO exception rules.  And, of course, we will add to them in time.  Maybe only one more by the end of this school year...not sure. We'll see how it goes.  It's not that he doesn't know most of these rules.  It's just keeping him accountable to follow them all the time and not be quite so lazy with checking his work.  I think it's doable for both of us.

Now that he has begun his work on writing today, and I have already prepared the rice and the veggies for our veggie sushi tonight (carrots, cucumbers, steamed sweet potatoe and asparagus --- I'll slice the avocado just before serving!), It's time to find a recipe for Japanese Cucumber salad...I've made it before, but I can't seem to recall the amounts of rice vinegar and sugar.  And it's almost time for lunch!  That's just leftover stewed tomatoes with macaroni today.  We have music lessons this afternoon.  Hopefully between all that and working on spelling with my daughter, I'll get some of my psalm reading done.

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Well, I am very new here and have no idea where to begin. But I thought I'd start with two very important things to me.  My faith, Orthodox Christianity, and homeschooling.

I converted to Orthodoxy approximately 7 years ago. It is by far the most important decision I have ever made in my life.  Orthodoxy has changed my life.....all for the better.  I have always been christian, but I was born into a Roman Catholic family and followed that faith from a young age to just a year or so before converting to Orthodoxy.  The story of how I got there is a long one....a good post that I'll save for another day.

The second important thing is my children and how I homeschool them.  I have homeschooled my children for the past 5 and a half years.  Homeschooling has also changed my life.  My family has become so much closer in the years since beginning this adventure.  Once started, I was sorry I hadn't homeschooled from the beginning!  But now God has provided us with a third child to do just that!

Well- it's brief....but it's a beginning....and I guess that's why I started this!