Friday, October 8, 2010

A brief thought

"They say it takes a village to raise a child. I've seen the village; and I don't want it raising my child." 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bargains, Co-Sleeping, and Nakey Art

Yesterday was a bit of a special day because the girls got bunkbeds!  

My best friend, the queen of bargains, found them at a garage sale for only $50, and was even kind enough to haul them and help me set them up since I was watching 3 kids in addition to my own that day.  My mom found the comforters marked half off just because the company came out with new packaging for them and they had to get rid of the ones with the old packaging.  Heck yes!  I ended up saving 4 or 5 hundred dollars thanks to those great finds.  The beds are in great condition.  I might paint them white just because I prefer it.  Other than that, we only need to anchor the bottom of the ladder so it's more stable (that's a belt you see there as a temporary fix, lol).  

I thought about getting a rail for Charlotte on the bottom bunk, and then I realized she's been sleeping on a bed without rails for her entire life, lol.  It's never been an issue, so I think she'll do great.  It's a tad bittersweet, as she seems as if she may transition easily to her own bed after 2 and a half years of co-sleeping.  Which, by the way, is something I'd like to clear up.  Yes, we only have 2 bedrooms, but we didn't choose to bed-share because we "had to".  If we really wanted to, we could have put a crib in our room or even Brooklyn's.  The reality is that safe co-sleeping is a parenting choice with benefits that I've read about for several years and believe in for our family.  No, I don't feel like "oh, she's *finally* going to be out of our bed!", and neither does my husband for that matter.  I get a surprising amount of questions and comments about that, so let me just clear that up now, lol.  Yes, we still have plenty of sex (probably more than you, lol) despite co-sleeping (believe it or not, MOM!), and if you can't figure that out, then maybe you're not creative enough :-P   (Why yes, I AM fond of parentheses!)  And no, we're not going to force the bed transition, any more than we would try to force a child to walk or talk.  When they're ready, they're ready, so we're just going to see where Charlotte goes with this.

(For more, see: Benefits of Co-Sleeping, Medical and Developmental)

Today, we made woven paper place mats.  It's a fun little craft that is good for fine motor development.  Later we also made macaroni art with noodles that I dyed, which Charlotte insisted upon doing naked (surprise, surprise). 

Weaving Paper Place Mats

two pieces of colored construction paper
clear contact paper (optional)

Fold one piece of construction paper in half and draw cutting lines one inch apart, starting at the fold. (The lines should not go all the way to the edge of the paper but should stop an inch inside.) Then help your student cut along these lines. Next have him cut out strips one inch wide from the other piece of colored paper.

Unfold and display the first piece of paper. Demonstrate how to weave by taking a strip and carefully passing it over and under the cut piece. Then have him try, but do not expect perfect results! You may need to assist. (If he wants to make the place mat permanent, cover the mat with clear contact paper.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Too Cool for School

I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that our neighborhood children don't have the same stereotypical ideas about home schooling as it seems some adults still do.  When a handful of them were at our house the other day, and one of Brooklyn's friends happily announced to the rest that we home school, I will admit that I held my breath for a moment.  That one friend had been so cool about it before, but I was worried that the rest of them might not.  There was no need.  Their reactions were not just of acceptance, but they literally gushed about how cool it is and how jealous they all are.  She is suddenly the luckiest kid they know, and our house is THE place to be.  Whoda thunk?!  

Brooklyn beamed and the last of my silly doubts fell away.  These kids didn't pop immediately into the "but how will she socialize?" gear.  Obviously, since they are her friends and they see her regularly, they know we don't lock her up in a closet or something, lol.  Although I know the past generations may be a bit tainted by biases and stereotypes and we're bound to run into that eventually, I can rest assured knowing that the children she sees most often are wonderfully accepting and open-minded about it.  One even asked if she can do school with us!  It was Brooklyn's "weekend" so instead we settled for making play dough and decorating cookies with her yesterday evening.  

The kids had a blast mixing and kneading their own dough.  Even little Charlotte helped out.  That is, until she got a hold of the red dye and made herself look like a homicidal maniac.  -Insert bath time and frantic floor mopping here-  My hands look like tie-dye, and Charlotte's arms are still hot pink, but after it was all done they were occupied for quite a while with their dough.  I took advantage of the relative quiet and got some dishes done, only to go on and dirty some more, lol!  Play dough and cookies in one night... I am the coolest mom in the world!

(Brooklyn, her friend, and Charlotte)

I typically use a recipe for play dough that involves "cooking", but I found one in her school lessons that is much simpler! 

Then later that night we prepared for our weekly "LiveLesson" with Brooklyn's teacher.  All the kids were to share a photo of themselves and could include their sibling(s), pets, favorite toy, etc.  So we took some pics of the girls and their rats:

(you can see some of the pink on Charlotte's arms here, lol)

A LiveLesson with Connections Academy is basically a virtual conference with the teacher and her students.  Ours are once a week and take about an hour.  She went over the alphabet, and all the kids helped think of words that start with each letter.  Easy peasy, but a cool way for the kids to connect and hear ideas from others.  

We look forward to getting through our first 30 days.  After that, Brooklyn will be able to choose an elective as long as she's on track with the rest of her subjects.  That shouldn't be a problem at all.  The Kindergarten curriculum is easy and fun.  We're considering adding either Spanish or Sign Language.  Other than that,  we're just keeping busy with family and friends, and are looking forward to my cousin's wedding coming up.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'd say it's because she prefers to paint in the nude, but who am I kidding?  She just prefers to be naked in general.

I agree child, art is delightful!

Coloring within the lines is for amateurs.

Yes Charlotte, you are a work of art.

Friday, September 10, 2010


This evening, Brooklyn was playing with one of her friends from our apartment complex and had her first experience with being asked what school she goes to.  She tried to tell her friend that we do school at home, but that apparently didn't really register in the kid's mind.  I said "Brooklyn is home-schooled" and it was like a little light bulb went off.  Her eyes bugged out and she said "She's home schooled?!  Wow!  Brooklyn, you're so lucky!  They say moms are the very best teachers".

What a cool kid :-)

They spent the rest of the evening coloring with sidewalk chalk on the back porch, Brooklyn decked out in her pink fairy wings.  Yes, believe it or not... home schooled kids can socialize  ;-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Fed-Up Homeschooler's Wish List

I'm personally too new to home schooling to be "fed up" with all the things people tend to say and ask about it, but I still find this hilarious.  I know a lot of the more seasoned HS-ers can relate to some, if not all, of this and I know my day is coming too.  This is for anyone that is tempted to ask/say something about the academic choices we make for our children.  It should help you avoid all the cliches and stereotypes, and might help keep me from answering the same questions a thousand times, lol  Now perhaps we can have a constructive and meaningful conversation about education instead ;-)

(If you have trouble with the video, the text version is below)

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

by Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Farewell to Summer

 Oh summer, we will miss you!

We really enjoyed...

 ... dancing merrily around the campfire

... soaking up the sunshine

...exploring and searching for little creatures

... appreciating the beauty of nature

... being blissfully dirty and sticky

... and just being silly together.

And now it's time for a few months of sweaters, crisp air, and watching the leaves change.

Stay tuned as we chronicle our experiences with home school and life in general.