Sunday, June 22

Summertime Fun!

Thumbody enjoying playing amoung the lilies in our front yard, on this particular Summer's day. He knows not to pick them, and only touch them gently, so we can enjoy their beauty for a long time to come.

The 2 photos above remind me of a song that is sung on a Dr. Suess VHS tape we own called The Hoober Bloob Highway. The song goes like this: "... "and we had fun among the daisys, under the bright, beautiful bright, blue sky... where we can lay about, nice and lazy..." The song is about Summer. I can't remember the rest, but the minute I saw him in my lilies, I thought of the song. I am sure it will be a scrapbook title of some sort, when I'm done with it. I guess I will have to watch the movie again, to refresh my memory on the lyrics.

This photo is of Truthseeker's first bike ride in the street. Mind you, we live on a dead end street, so there's no outlet. It's pretty safe, and the neighborhood kids ride up and down it every day. Truthseeker (6) still uses training wheels, and a helmet. (Which none of the other kids use, but I feel is necessary, and a good habit to get into.) It was definitely an enjoyable day.

Friday, June 20

Little Morton Salt "Boy"?

This photo I took of Thumbody, (who by the way, I am thinking about changing his "on-line" name to "stubborn as an ox"), at the park on this sunny Summer afternoon. Doesn't he remind you of the little Morton Salt Girl? Well, boy in this case. I just love these little bucket hats. I am totally drawn to them at the store. They always seem to catch my eye right away, and how can I say no? This is Thumbody's 2nd bucket hat, as he outgrew his orange one, a year ago. Have I ever mentioned that I love Baby Gap? I can't help myself, and they have great clearance racks. Whenever I go to garage sales, I look for anything nice that is Baby Gap. It wears wonderfully, and the resale value is very good. I purchased this hat on my last outing to the mall, at of course, Baby Gap, along with the cutest pair of leather tennis shoes, on sale for $12. Even Wal-Mart's shoes are more than that. The hat was $8. Well, worth it, in my humble opinion. Oh, and in case you are wondering, I am not a name brand shopper. Most everything I buy, is penny-wise. I just can't help myself, when it comes to this particular store. Luckily, I only venture in, a few times a year. BTW, Thumbody loves his hat, and wears it all the time. In fact, it's hard to get him to take it off inside the house. I just think he is such a cutie. Now, if I could only work on his stubborn attitude. Strong willed is an understatement, with this child.

Wednesday, June 18

8th Grade Graduation a Huge Success

Last Saturday, Scott and I hosted the 2008 8th Grade Graduation Ceremony at our home. It was a cookout/potluck/swim party. A lot of people from our local homeschool coop attended.
As you can see from the photos, there were a lot of people here, and these photos were taken just as the party started. About 15 more people showed up, after these photos were taken. The yard was a mass of guests. It was an enjoyable time.
Our Kindergarten graduate. Skaterboy wore this cap and gown, when he graduated kindergarted, however he was a bit smaller than Truthseeker at that age. I remember the gown reaching mid-calf on Skaterboy, and as you can see, it is at Truthseeker's knees. This is a photo of my parents and Truthseeker.
Here is a photo of both of our boys, with their other grandma. My dh's mom.
Everyone enjoyed the cookout, and enjoyed the beautiful day God had provided for us.
The pool was a mass of kids, and got quite a workout. Our pool is on the small side, compared to many pools, but the kids enjoyed it, all the same.
Beating the heat, and having fun in the pool.
The 8th Grade Graduating Class of 2008 - LIAHE Homeschool Coop Group.

Tuesday, June 17

Happy Apron Day...

No it's not a national holiday (although, National Apron Wearing Day, was last month...) I designed and sewed this apron for my mother's birthday, and gave it to her this past weekend. I am also in the process of sewing one for my grandmother, but it's not quite finished yet. I found the initial design on-line, and it's called the Emiline Apron. I did not purchase the pattern for this apron, but used what little design skills I obtained in college, to design the one I made, pictured below. My mom was thrilled btw, and it fit her perfectly.
As you can tell my my sewing mess on either side of the photo, it took time to find just the right fabric for this apron, from my stash. All is put away now, and all is quiet in my house, as the guests have left for home along with my teenager, whom I miss terribly, but am enjoying an almost empty house.

Saturday, June 7

So you have a lot of questions about homeschooling?

Homeschool at our house - Skaterboy building atoms... (ie: protons, neutrons, and electrons)


First of all, you are not alone. Before I started homeschooling, I had tons of questions, and a lot of generic answers, which I'm afraid didn't help me very much. A lot of the answers I got were the well meaning types such as, "you'll have to figure out what's right for your family", or "don't worry, everything will be fine". Those types of answers. So, I decided to compile a list of questions that I had in the beginning, that I didn't get concrete answers for. I wanted to give you honest answers; concrete answers, like I would have liked to have been told when I first pondered this idea in my head.

Please keep in mind, that I have homeschooled for only 2 1/2 years. I am nearly a newbie. So this comes from a semi-newbie' s point of view.

First question... 1) Where to start?? So many types of curriculum, so many approaches - what is the best and how to decide?

Yes, all the types of curriculum can be overwhelming. I had a difficult time initially adjusting to homeschooling because I had worked at a public school for many years. That was the only way I knew how to teach. That is the only way I had been trained to teach. So at first, I ran it like my classroom at school. Big Flop!!! My kids were tired, and sick of worksheets, and hated every minute of it. There was not much difference between home and school, and their friends were at school. I knew that I had been called to homeschool so I proceeded forward. This year, I finally got it, and Charlotte Mason helped me. She had more insight on a child's education, than anything I had ever read. She explained that children need real books, about real things, written by real people who had real life experiences, in order to learn. She also said that children need to see, and explore, and have the freedom to sit for hours watching things in nature, and enjoy learning about real life. These things they would hold dear to their hearts. Rich literature tells more about history, than any textbook IMHO. Books about astrologers, the first scientists, adventurers, the Bible. All these things tell real stories about real people that lived on this earth. Children remember these things, and they become a part of them for life. They don't forget them. Of course, in order for a child to have a well rounded education, one needs math, and there are many different math curriculum's out there. I use Forresman Wesley for my 6 YO, and I use Saxon for my oldest ds. I really like Saxon. He really knows what students need to learn math. It's not at all confusing, and very easy for even the slow learner to achieve. I chose Forresman Wesley for my 6 YO because of the hands-on activities, and colorful pages.
I am using A Beka for 6YO's reading program. It is quite advanced, so we are taking it very slowly. He is learning and grasping it in small amounts, but I enforce a no pressure atmosphere in my homeschool. There is no pressure to learn. If one of the kid's is struggling with a subject, and I see that they are getting frustrated, instead of pressuring them to push forward, we take a break from it for a week or two. Then we go back to it. Low and behold, in most cases they are ready to receive the information, and press forward, after that little break. Sometimes after a break, they will easily complete the assignment they struggled so hard with the first time. They just needed time to process it. My homeschool is run so totally different from when I started, and everyone is happier. Everyone is excited to learn more things, and about new people. They are enjoying learning, and IMHO that is when learning is cemented in their brains.

Second question: 2)? What to say to so many who express strong doubts (esp. parents, neighbors, etc.)

Okay, there will always be people out there that express doubts or opinions about what you feel is best for your child. At first, I was rather defensive. Now, they can have whatever opinion they want, but I know in my heart I am doing what is right for my kids, and no one can change that. For over a year, I didn't tell my parents that I was homeschooling, because they were so anti-homeschool. When I finally told them, they said that they had wondered if I was, and that of all their kids, they knew that I would be the one who could do it, and do a good job of it. They said that their opinions of homeschooling had changed dramatically, and that they thought that homeschooling was becoming so common, that it just wasn't an issue anymore. I find that people who are judgmental at first, only react that way, because they don't really know what we do. They always relay the most extreme cases, that they have heard of, but when they find out how very normal we are, and how normal our kids are, they usually end up asking me how I do it. Some have even considered homeschooling themselves after I have told them all the great things about it. I have had many people approach me and ask me questions about how to get started. I think if you approach people that are skeptical with an open mind, and not get defensive, they too will form an open mind, and be more accepting.

Third question: 3) How to address internal doubts - WILL my child succeed if I take this non traditional approach?? Will my child blame me exclusively for every doubt that she ever has about herself.? ("If only I'd gone to regular school, I'd already know/be/think.)

Yes...Yes... Yes... more than you will ever know. They will flourish like you could never have believed. No, your child will thank you for making school interesting and a positive experience for them. My 15 YO ds, who attended public school until 7th Grade, loves being homeschooled. He still has friends from his old school, that he sees when they get home from school. His best friend lives down the street from us. My ds is in school the same time as he, and when they are both done for the day, they are either here, or at his house. My 6YO, who has always been homeschooled, also has a friend down the street that is 6. He attends kindergarten at a public school. They play after school as well. Their friends don't think of them any
different than any of their other friends. My 15YO even has a girl who likes him that goes to his old school. She never really showed much interest when he attended school there, but now she likes to email him, and stuff.

I can totally relate to this paragraph, can you? (This is quote from an acquaintance, who is contemplating homeschooling, emailed me...)

"I live in a community where there is very little support or understanding. The schools are all rated very high and so the attitude is, "we have the best, why bother?"? There is also so much materialism (I'm the only one I know who cleans my own home and one of very few who?raises our children without a nanny) so much competition (how many activities can you sign your children up for?!), and so many condescending attitudes toward God and religion (for the uneducated, is the attitude, though I did just get my doctorate!)? I want the best for my children, but defining that in ways that aren't supported (or understood) by the community can be so hard.? BTW, that's why I do love reading your emails - so affirming! - and I have so much deep admiration for everyone who is part of this virtual community. "

My answer to her:

I live in the same sort of area. The public school that ds used to attend, was in a very wealthy part of town. Most of the students that attend the school come from very wealthy families. The school has a lot of money, and the students have a lot of high cost material possessions. This was very difficult for my son at first, because he wanted what they had, and we just couldn't afford all that fancy stuff. Even if we could afford it, I don't think 5th-7th graders need $200 cell phones, expensive I-pods, and laptop computers. He was always saying that so-in-so had this or that, or these expensive shoes, or cloths. It was making my ds very materialistic. Thank goodness he is no longer that way. People were very snobby there too, especially the parents. A lot of them go to our church too, and are snobs at church as well. Well, what comes around, goes around, their kids are snobs too. I'm just so glad that I don't have to deal with them anymore.

Last question: I'd like to address the socialization issue.?

It really depends on how you look at this question. We have a huge homeschooling support group, and coop in our town. This helps a lot, knowing other homeschool families in the area. Our group meets on a monthly basis, and the kids have a ball together. We are also in 4-H. Our 4-H club is predominantly made up of homeschool kids. We consider them family. Our local YMCA hosts homeschool PE for the kids, 3x a week, and there are group field trips we take, picnics in the park, you name it. Our kids are very social, but with kids we want them to be social with. I am sure you can agree that you don't want your child to be social with every kid out there. Homeschooled kids are usually very polite, good natured, and are able to communicate with all age groups, where as some children who attend a school outside the home, can be the type of child we don't want our kids to be friends with. So you have to ask yourself this
question: Do you want your child to be friends with a few really nice kids, or a lot of kids, that are rude, obnoxious, and bullies? I mean, how many people do you hang out with on a regular basis? You probably have a few good friends, and a lot of acquaintances, right? That's perfectly normal. This is normal for your child too. In answer to your question about a child not having people to play with during the day, when his friends are at school, just tell them what I tell my kids, that you are in school too, and you can play with them after school. This works with no problem, with my kids.

So I hope I helped a little. It's hard being a newbie. I had so many questions at first, and had all the same one's you have. The only thing I can say is (and this is the truth) the longer you do it, the more comfortable it will become. Children are very perceptive, and know when we are unsure of ourselves. The more comfortable you become homeschooling the more comfortable they will be learning.



Monday, June 2

What I did today....And the day's not over yet.

Well, yesterday dh finally got the garden tilled, and mixed in all the organic hummus manure, organic peat hummus, sand, and top soil. It was quite a chore, since he had to mix each in one at a time with the tiller. That's about 4x back and forth across the garden. He finished just before dinner. After dinner, I went outside (before cleaning up the kitchen), so I could plant before it got dark. Wouldn't you know it, we got company. And company that had never been to our house before. Isn't it always the way it works? So my kitchen is a mess, and I am covered in dirt from the garden. Yippee!!!! But we visited until it got dark, and after they left, I went inside to clean up the kitchen. I did manage to get a row of potatoes, a row of carrots, and a row of radishes planted. Tonight after supper, I will plant the rest of my rows.

This morning I read a story from Uncle Wiggily, to Hunter and Ethan, and also the story of Moses. He completed a dot-to-dot on Moses, and drew a picture of him in a basket. He has been working on 3 syllable words, and completed an assignment on that. In math he is learning about money, and was able to use nickles and pennies to add different amounts of change.

I have laundry out to dry on the line, and have been watching the kids swim most of the day. It's a scorcher, that's for certain. I finally punched holes in all the kid's assignments from the last 3 months, and put them in their respective binders. I can feel school, slowly coming to an end for the semester. At least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have also been searching my Charlotte Mason websites, and planning and purchasing books for next year. This is a task in itself.

I still have laundry to finish, and dinner to fix, and then of course the kids need baths tonight, and then there is the planting, I fore mentioned. It doesn't seem like the day will end soon enough.

Dh is finally home from work. I am thrilled to tell him that our stimulus check is set to arrive by June 6. He will be happy with this news. So I will say farewell for now.