Monday, August 31, 2009

A Special Sort of Place

"Oh no, don't go any higher!" "Come on Mob (yes, that's Mob, not Mom) I can climb to the very top!"

He just had to stick that foot in there.

Sisterly Love

"Look at me!"

Methinks autumn is on it's way!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Books that are inspiring me

Yesterday I ventured out into the world for the first time in 5 days. I was going a little stir crazy being cooped up in the house for so long so I made a little trip to the bookstore. I didn't stay long, my back is still sore, but I did pick up a few goodies. I've been meaning to get this book for a long time. Lots of ideas in there. And another book by the same author. In the new education section of Barnes and Noble I found this. I love this book! Anything by Joseph Bruchac is great. Not sure if I'll use it with the kids at home or with our new Earth Scouts group but it will be used!
I also made a couple of little felty creations (they will be brooches when I get to the craft store). My inspiration for these came mostly from Lisa at (she's always making felties!)
I made some little needle felted acorns too. I'm going to make a whole bunch of these.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My back went out

My back has not been great since my little road trip a month ago. Yesterday it was a little worse and today I took the kids for a morning walk and didn't know if I could complete it. My back went into muscle spasm. :( Well, I made it home and on to the couch and the doctor prescribed me some Valium. So, I'm a little out of it but my muscles are relaxing a bit. The kids have been occupying themselves making potions and playing with sticks(B) and listening to story tapes and reading Children Just Like Me (J). They have been amazingly well behaved (this is not always the case). I've been on the couch with the computer on my lap reading through the Earth Scouts Facilitator's manual. I'll be starting an Earth Scouts group with a friend in the fall. So, we're all trying to do our best and I'm trying to remind myself that this to will pass.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Homeschoolers: Please read Please Don't

A friend of mine directed me to this inspired blog. Please read Please Dont.

Thursday, July 30, 2009
please don't...
...feel guilty if you are not writing your own homeschooling curriculum for the upcoming schoolyear. If you are doing "school in a box", do not think you are a bad mommy. If you ordered all your books and syllabi in May and are enjoying the last days of summer by going camping, hiking or sitting poolside without a curriculum catalog in sight, take heart. Your children will turn out normal and smart (and will be good swimmers to boot). Or if you have many children and did not order any books because you are planning to use the same old, faithful, well read books that have been passed down from brother to sister to brother again, do not despair that you are not buying the most up and coming, trendy materials. Your children will learn and flourish nonetheless.
If you are using the same curriculum provider you used last year and the year before and the year before that, don't hang your head in shame because you are not being creative enough or because you aren't tailoring your entire curriculum to the fancies of each of your children. The key to success is to be steadfast and to stick to the basics while allowing much free time in the afternoons for things that interest your family members. A little bit done well every day is better than a school year of feast and famine, taking much time off and then catching up quickly in desperation.
I was recently talking with a college friend who is a veteran homeschooling mom. She shared her fears that she has every summer that she might plan or choose the wrong curriculum. She second guesses herself every year because she compares her plans and ideas to others around her. After all, there is so much out there. Many experienced moms do this, they spend the summer months spinning their wheels, writing elaborate plans that are only used for a few weeks. They often continue their search and change their plans even after the school year has begun. They spend hundreds of dollars on supplies and books, often times to quit midyear because they can't get it all done or because they are plagued with self doubt. It is the never ending search for the perfect curriculum.
The perfect curriculum for our family is simple and doable. That doesn't mean it is academically easy. It is one that can be done day in and day out, even when mom is sick or in the months after a baby is born. Our family spent a lot of time spinning its wheels in recent years because I overplanned all summer long and expected too many subjects to be completed during the school year. Now we mainly focus on math, reading and writing. (And reading encompasses a wide variety of subjects because one can read books about history, religion, science, art, music, nature and more.) The rest is gravy and there is plenty of time for gravy in our home when the core work is done. In fact, my daughter learned to knit, my son learned to carve wood, not because I scheduled it onto a calender but because we got the core subjects done and there was plenty of time left for them to pursue their own interests.
Let go of your guilt that you are not doing enough if you are only doing the basics. Stop reading books or visiting sites online that feed your feeling of homeschooling inadequacy. Plan as much as you need to have a successful year. No more, no less. Just because someone in your homeschooling group wants to plan their entire day down to each half hour segment or wants to study twelve different unrelated subjects each year doesn't mean you need to do the same. And resist the temptation to schedule every waking hour of your day with school work. You will burn out and so will your children.
Many subjects can be "farmed out". Maybe your kids are in scouts and can learn science while completing a merit badge. Music can be covered by the piano teacher. Physical fitness can be covered by team sports if your children play them. It doesn't have to be up to you to cover every possible subject.
And, really, there is more to life than homeschooling, isn't there? Just have the children get to the basics on a daily basis and allow lots of time for whatever floats their boats. Many of our fall and winter afternoons are spent around the fireplace with everyone together even if doing something different. The littlest may be lying on the floor drawing pictures. Another might be knitting, another reading a book or practicing an instrument. Someone else might be baking something in the kitchen. These are not things I schedule but things that happen because parents and children spend time together, live together, play and work together.
I have missed many a sunset, game of catch and good conversation with my family because I used to spend my entire summer overplanning, overtalking and overthinking the upcoming school year. Then I spent a lot of time during the schoolyear being frustrated that my elaborate plans were not being fulfilled.
Our value as homeschooling mothers does not come from the plans we write or don't write, the books we use or don't use, the schedules we create or don't create. It comes from loving and caring for our family's needs, teaching them the important things and spending time with them. This requires looking into their eyes, not staring at a computer screen, color coding and scheduling our life while our children memorize the back of our head. Turn around and look at those beauties. They will remember your face and the time you spent with them far more than the plans you write or the schedules you create.
Posted at 11:28 AM in home learning Comments (14) TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My brave little girl

This morning I took J to the dentist to get two teeth pulled (or jiggled as they say). This was not our first time. She went a few months ago but did not like the idea of laughing gas (what they call happy air) and left with teeth intact. She is a very sensitive child and does not like the idea of breathing in something that's going to make her feel different (even if it's different in a good way). Her eyes are sensitive to light, her ears are sensitive to noise (not a big fan of the movie theater) and her nose is sensitive to smells (she has walked out of restaurants because she doesn't like the smells). So, this was not something either of us were looking forward to. But, she did it! I was so proud of her. The laughing gas didn't seem to have any effect on her except for making her feel shaky and she talked the whole time about all the weird sensations she was feeling. I think she's going to be like her mama and have a high tolerance for drugs. . .who knows. Anyway, she went through with it even though she was so scared and today she has a sore mouth and a very proud mama. I hope the tooth fairy appreciates these two teeth!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mile long swim, playing with rocks,fun in the sun, bbq

Just thought I'd catch up on posting some pictures. The first one is of Jeff after he swam a mile from an island to shore in some very choppy water. Uncle Wilson and J rowed beside him to make sure he was o.k.

It's been hot. Very hot and humid and I haven't felt like doing much of anything. The shades have been down all day and I've been moving very slowly. We did make some rock sculptures though. . .

And we played with shaving cream. . .

A few days ago J really wanted to have over all her neighborhood friends for a BBQ and campfire. I think they had a good time. . .

Puddles found a nice, cool place to take a nap.
Stay cool!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A little homeschooling update, quiet neighborhood and blueberries

I came back from a week at family camp and felt all vacationed out. So, I decided to start doing a little homeschooling with the kids on Monday. J is studying early American history and she's been reading about Native American life (in a very general way). On her own she's been reading Om Kas Toe and I've been reading Walk the World's Rim to J and B. We've also created a timeline by the stairs going to the basement. We've also been reading an interesting book called Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane. It's a semi-fictional account of a boy living in 1805.
B has been working on his handwriting with his Handwriting Without Tears book. He seems to really like it. He's also been working on his reading skills while using Explode the Code.
We haven't really started math yet as I am still unsure as to what I'm going to do with J. I tried out Singapore 2B with B but he didn't seem too interested. I'm going to stick with it though for a little bit and see how it goes. The three math curricula I'm most interested in are Math-U-See, Right Start math and the Key To series. Any recommendations?
I've also been doing some drawing lessons with them using Mark Kistler's Draw Squad. They both really seem to enjoy that.
That's it. . .the neighborhood's been quiet as all their friends have been away. One family came back home last night and they all went out bowling. This afternoon they have been over climbing trees, playing with water guns and picking blueberries. The blueberries are better than ever this year but I'm afraid the bushes have some disease. The leaves are all spotted. Ugh. I hope we don't lose the bushes. I'll have to investigate. All's well on this hot summer day.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A few more vacation pictures

We went out on a boat ride the other day and I snapped a picture of where we're staying from the boat. Uncle Wilson and J out for a sunfish sail.Some fun at the playground.
My sister out at "the point".

B and his cousin had fun playing with their food at lunch.

We had a great, sunny week away!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Adirondack walk

Yesterday I took a couple hours for myself and went for a walk by the Sacandaga River. What a beautiful walk! I love this walk because it is an interpretive trail so I get to learn the names of the local flora and fauna as well as enjoying the beauty all around me.
Today is another sunny day and I expect we'll spend it by the lake. My brother-in-law is renting a sunfish so he'll be taking us all out for rides this afternoon. After dinner my older sister and her family are leaving to go back to China. We'll miss them all so much! :(

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fun at family camp

Every year my parents treat our family (along with my sisters' families) to a week at a family camp in the Adirondack mountains. I thought I'd share a few pictures of the trip so far as I wait for the dining hall to open for breakfast.
Here is the view from outside our cabin. We are right on the water!Every Monday night at the camp they have a carnival night. This is the children's dress up parade.This year they've added a new state of the art sports complex. It's awesome! That means they've been able to add games such as these to the carnival night. Here J is attached to a rope with her cousin at the other end. They are both trying to get the basket balls in the hoop while been tugged in the other direction.Another fun game. They are trying to knock each other off a platform.Boxing!My darling niece Sarah dressed up for the parade.Out for an evening kayak.Relaxing by our campfire after the carnival.
Look who was outside my door at 6:30 this morning!
I'll try to share more pictures later this week. Happy summer!