- CorePiano - over 30 lessons to teach you the essentials of piano playing.
- Book 1 - for beginners, includes six original songs and lessons in how to read music and improvise.
- Book 2 - works through music reading, technique, rhythm, songs, and improvisation.
- Book 3 - focuses on learning how to create piano arrangements.
Please forgive my absence. Please also forgive the repeat topic posting. I know I've posted on this issue before, but because it is so ever-present in my life, I think there are things I've said that bear repeating. Living with chronic pain affects everyone around you. There are many different kinds of chronic pain and some are more debilitating than others. In case there is one person on the planet who doesn't know mine, I suffer from severe migraines. When I say severe, I mean the kind that puts you to bed for days at a time. I was about 8 when I was diagnosed, but I have had them since I can remember. It's just that migraine is not a common diagnosis for a kid (and I had to have all of the "rule out" tests to make sure I wasn't actually dying, which is what it felt like). Sometimes I have nausea and vomiting (I know - savory), but not always. It's not a requirement for a migraine, contrary to popular belief. In any case, here are four things to keep in mind if you live with someone with chronic, debilitating (as in it compromises their ability to live a normal life) pain:
1. They don't enjoy it. I know that some people say that they would love to spend a day in bed like I "get" to once or twice a week (or more). No you wouldn't. I'm not getting extra rest. I'm in pain - sometimes so much pain that I can't move a muscle, sometimes so much that I writhe. When the headache breaks I'm much more exhausted than I was before it started...and guess what exhaustion can lead to? Yep - migraines.
2. They hate what their pain does to their families more than they hate what it does to them. In my case, my migraines meant that Therese (10 days away from being 13!) knew how to change diapers on infants when she was 3 (and she was good at it!), could make lunch for toddlers when she was 3.5, and could be trusted to monitor a toddler's crib and twins' swings for signs of activity/irregularity at the same age while I was passed out on the couch. Now that everyone is older, it means that the kids do school by themselves some days and carry on quietly while I exist in my quiet, dark bedroom. Sometimes they miss their activities. I often feel that my life is slipping away while I am lying in bed.
3. They are not faking it. I know that sometimes it is tempting to look at someone with pain issues and say, "Really? Man up for Pete's sake...it's just a headache/other ailment!" I am quite sure that there are people out there who do milk their suffering for sympathy, but there are far more who don't. Just because you can take two Tylenol and be rid of your headache does not mean that someone who is not that fortunate is faking it or not trying hard enough. Many people with severe migraines can take some serious drugs and have absolutely no pain relief at all. I'm in that category, so much so that I have a cabinet full of impressive sounding drugs that I wouldn't even consider touching when I have a headache - there's just no point.
4. Pain can seriously impact a person's life. I often think about the fact that I don't think I could hold a "real" job. As it is, I often find myself scrambling to keep up/catch up with my work-at-home job. I have a wonderful boss who doesn't blink an eye if something is a couple of days late (primarily because of my long history with him and the fact that I have never not delivered something I said I would deliver), but there are times I have had a deadline and I have had to drag myself up to pull it together. There are many times where I have had to let something go that I have wanted to do because I couldn't make it with a headache. On days that I *don't* have a headache (and it's rare that I don't have some kind of headache, but most days I can at least function), I have to get as much done as I can so that I can hedge my bets for those headache days. Sometimes, though, I just can't get ahead because I have so many stacked consecutively. Then the dominoes start to fall...
I absolutely don't want this post to sound like I'm complaining - I'm not! In fact, I have a very Catholic view of suffering. I consider it a gift (read the article - I promise I'm not just saying that!), and on my better days I am truly thankful for the opportunity to share in the tiniest way in Christ's suffering for me. Plus, as I remind my children migraines aren't fatal, and as long as we're dealing with something that's not fatal, we'll all be okay. I just think it's so important for people not to jump to conclusions about others and to keep in mind that just because you can't see at a glance what someone is going through, it doesn't mean that they are not going through something quite impactful.
Writing is one of those things that I assumed would be easy to teach my kids. I love to write. I write well. Ergo, I can teach my kids to write well. That approach worked really well with Therese. With Nicky...not so much. In general, if an approach worked well with Therese, it will not work all that well with Nicky. When the chance came to review the incredibly well-regarded WriteShop, then, I was very anxious to see how it would work for my newly 11 year-old!
Deciding what level to get for Nicky was very, very hard for me. He has not done much in the way of formal writing, but his grammar program is high school level. In fact, he is almost done with formal grammar altogether. Because WriteShop incorporates grammar, I knew that we would be adapting the program regardless of the level we chose. Finally, I decided to go with WriteShop Junior: Book D Set.
The WriteShop website indicates that this level is ideal for third and fourth graders, but that it can also be used for reluctant fifth grade writers and, possibly, some sixth graders. Since Nicky is a rising sixth grader and has, as I indicated, not done much of a formal writing curriculum, I decided to put him here (just for perspective, the Crew was able to pick from WriteShop products through Level E). The WriteShop website indicates that students who have not yet learned punctuation and grammar skills should start with this level. Again, Nicky has mastered both of those skills, so I was hesitant to start him here, but it was the fact that Book D teaches structuring sentences, writing paragraphs, and using sentences of varying length that convinced me to start him here. Book D teaches these skills through letter writing, historical fiction, personal narrative, and mystery and adventure stories (among others).
As I said, I really wanted to like WriteShop. While I definitely found ways to use it with Nicky, it is not exactly what I hoped for. I can definitely see it being an ideal program for some families, though. For kids who love any curriculum that incorporates crafts or games, this is perfect. For moms who want to make writing fun and want a program that makes grammar integral (and crafty!), this is perfect. If you require a script, this is perfect. Further, for all you get, it's very reasonably priced. Finally, if you start your journey with WriteShop, you will not be disappointed with the later levels of the program!
You can find WriteShop at the following places on the Web:
Our family's is just one opinion. To read 54 more, click the banner below.
...or is it much harder to sleep when you know you have to get up early in the morning?
...or is it infinitely frustrating when there is a book whose story is so good that you are dying for your daughter to read it, but *one* scene renders that impossible? (I'm talking about you, Clan of the Cave Bear)
...or is it a bit of a shock to spend time with non-homeschooled kids after spending almost all your time with homeschooled ones?
...or is there anything more heartbreaking than seeing your child constantly passed over for the prettier/more popular/more outgoing/pushier girls in (insert activity of choice)...and that's by the teachers?! Okay, yes, there are plenty of more heartbreaking things, but 30 year old ladies: high school is over. You don't have to kiss up to the popular girls. Oh, and that goes double for you moms.
...or is it kind of hard to read Facebook posts wherein moms rhapsodize about how much they have learned from their little hellions? About how parenting their alphabet soup child has made them come to terms with their failings as a parent and as a person and how they wouldn't change a darn thing. Maybe I'm just a bad person or a bad mother, but I hang on by the skin of my teeth every day. If not for the grace of God, I don't know how I would cope with my alphabet souper (ADHD, OCD, TS). I am not grateful to him for making me come to terms with my failings. I sort of begin every day praying that we'll both make it through the day relatively unscathed and that my other children will come through the entire experience of their childhood somewhat undamaged (no drama here - I have stories I could tell). Of course I love my son, but I am not going to go posting all over FB about how he has made me a better person. I try very hard to keep it real for all the moms who struggle and need it real. It is a struggle. By keeping it honest, though, even the small victories mean something.
...or is it just ridiculous when people make interpersonal comparisons of personal angst...of any kind? It's a social choice/game theory maxim that you can't make interpersonal comparisons of personal utility. In other words, what is important to me and to what degree it is important can't in any meaningful way be measured against the same for you. Well, it's true for angst, too. You may look at my life and wonder what on Earth I'm carping about: after all, x, y, and z (surely you've met them?) have it so much worse. That is an invalid statement. I'm getting far afield, but I've written on this before, so when I'm on my computer, I'll link the articles.
Anyway, maybe it's all just me! Does anything resonate?
Imagine my utter delight, then, when Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I was offered for review! Recommended for ages 12 (7th grade) and up, it is tailor made for Therese and me! Before I get into the delights of this course, let's get the boring (but highly necessary!) basics out of the way. This course costs $295 (with a $100 sibling discount!). The time period studied is the ancient world through the end of the first century. The course is presented through a series of lectures, interviews, and group discussions (among experts) that you, the student, get to "sit in" on and observe. It is primarily a lecture course, though. Assignments include reading and worksheets. Works considered in Omnibus I include:
- Genesis and Exodus
- Codes of Hammurabi and Moses
- The Odyssey of Homer
- Landmark Herodotus
- Aeschylus' The Oresteia Trilogy
- Plutarch Vol. 1
- Sophocles' The Theban Trilogy
- The Last Days of Socrates
- The Early History of Rome
- The Aeneid
- The Twelve Caesars
- Julius Caesar
Before signing up for the course, the website will test your computer's compatibility for you. The requirements are pretty basic. You will need Flash, a decent connection speed for streaming, and a pretty basic screen resolution size. Now, I realize I just said that you need Flash, but Therese has done all of her work on the iPad, and we have not used a Flash browser. I'm not sure how. I'm curious if other people have been able to do that as well. Ironically, I was not able to use my laptop as it kept telling me that I needed a certain screen resolution size and mine doesn't fit the bill. My laptop is only a few months old, and it is top of the top of the line. Its screen resolution is twice that required by Veritas. No matter what I did, though, Omnibus would not run on it. I didn't call customer service (I'm sure it would have been an easy fix) for two reasons: Omnibus I runs fine on all of our other computers and, as I said, Therese has been doing it on the iPad anyway. In fact, I have lately been projecting the iPad onto the TV (I *love* technology!), so I saw no need to pursue the issue of my fussy computer.
How It Works
The course is *very* easy to use. There is a parent account and a student account. The student launch page looks like this:
Therese (12 - but almost 13!) and Omnibus I
I will confess that while Therese was excited about getting this course, I was beside myself. This reading list is a condensed version of my first year in Honors at University of St. Thomas, a Great Books program. Freshman year in the Honors program is the Old Testament and the Greeks. I knew when I started homeschooling that I would be teaching my Honors curriculum to my kids when they were old enough. I suffered through phonics and addition and have, I will admit, held Therese to a very high standard and schooled her year-round to get to the point where we could study the fun stuff (disclaimer: she is ridiculously bright and she loves school - she hasn't resented my efforts. Much.)...and the fun stuff is here!
There are other Great Books-ish programs out there. They call themselves classical. They succeed at some things and fail at others. Their primary failure is that they base their programs off of one essay by Dorothy Sayers and think that they are accomplishing classical education. I don't really care all that much what you call it. If it doesn't teach the Great Books - that canon that has been taught for hundreds of years - I'm not interested. Veritas Press teaches the Great Books. I could write reams on why they are important, but that's not my focus here (note to self: write reams on why the Great Books are important). Moreover, it doesn't dumb them down or teach the kiddie version (I'm not sure how you could do kiddie Sophocles...the mind boggles). It introduces kids of a fairly young age to works of great importance (and perhaps to the first feminist - Anitgone).
There are many reasons I am so blessed to be Catholic, but one of the most important is that Catholicism imbues suffering with meaning. From the time I was very young, I can remember my father and my grandmother telling me to offer up my suffering for the souls in Purgatory. Far from being offended or feeling that they were unsympathetic, I was so happy when they told me that! Knowing that my suffering, physical or mental, not only unites me with Christ in his suffering on the cross, but that it also eases the suffering of the Holy Souls in Purgatory as they await the day when they will be with God in Heaven makes even the most painful trials so much more bearable. Without that idea, in fact, suffering seems completely pointless and arbitrary. I actually don't know how people who *don't* offer up their suffering deal with it. Do they find any meaning in it at all?