Update On Us

We homeschool year round, but I have the summer off to some degree. My kids have planned it all out and will be dictating their routines for the most part. A few things are mandatory they must stick in here and there, drum lessons, horse riding lessons, piano lessons, volunteer work, etc…and they have decided to have specific days. ie: Monday is math day, Tuesday is history day, and so on…they plan to make their tv shows, iPad apps, board games, outdoor play, kitchen experiments, etc revolve around the theme of the day. Example, today is spanish day, so they will switch the language to spanish on the DVDs they watch and instead of their go to Pig Latin kid talk, they will attempt to speak spanish when possible, etc…

I do feel like I need to give an update since it’s been a LONG while since I’ve shared what were up to.

A while back I decided to do an experiment and give the kids what we called a “FREE WEEK”…

…in a nutshell, the kids were responsible for their sleeping times, eating times, food choices, entertainment and education. In a very free willy nilly sort of way. I was here to help them when they asked but overall they were in charge of themselves. I deleted everything from the calendar for a week. (Including canceling lessons they did not want to attend)

The point for me was to get a good idea of what they were capable of, how they handled their choices, where they still needed me to guide them, where they were more self sufficent, etc…

I do think much longer then a week is needed for a true assessment. Because a week does feel in some way like a holiday rather then a time to put on your boots and get to work.

I discovered (and more importantly THEY discovered) there were still many areas mom was very needed! Which is a good thing IMHO!

They were very curious why no friends came over to play. I asked them if they arranged any play dates. Hmmm might be the reason. Planning is needed to make things happen. Good lesson for them to learn.

Why they don’t have any clean pants. I asked if they did their laundry? Hmmmm must wash clothes in order to have clean clothes. Another good lesson…but mostly they just realized mom does the laundry and didn’t this week, so they opted to wear alternative outfits over the favorites until mom washed again. (Which spurred mom to buy separate laundry baskets for each child and unknown to them, they are slowly learning to take over their own laundry washing, drying, folding and putting away! Darn sneaky mom!)

Aside from a few really good learning opportunities/discussions. And great examples of what could be handled better, it was a blissful week for ALL of us.

We all were doing exactly what we wanted all day long for an entire week! Yes I did not hear one single bicker from the kids. They were so happy doing their own thing. I accomplished a ton because they didn’t demand as much of my attention as they normally do.

HOWEVER the amount of Minecraft they played was insane for my liking. (I fondly refer to Minecraft as Mindcrap, even though I know there are lots of great learning opportunities around the game…it’s the intensity of time suck I don’t like)

Since it was free week, I figured eventually my son would have his fill, get a neck cramp, something and stop playing…nope, he played the entire week nearly all day every day! My daughter would stop mid day and go do something else, but come back to it in the evening.

They did build some amazing structures, learned a bunch from tutorials online, took on challenges and played well in each others worlds. But like I said the intensity of the Minecraft take over was not a long term OK thing with me, so we had a little Minecraft detox the following week. We are now back on a healthy level of video games from mama’s perspective.

Aside from free week, we’ve had horse riding adventures, rock climbing adventures, and a bunch if fun with friends. Spring time always sheds away the winter chill and gets us outside and active.

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I think repelling is what they love the most!

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And shortly after this adventure they wanted to practice bouldering (no harness, height they are comfortable with jumping down from)

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Recently, my daughter took some of her girl friends on a trail ride (some of her friends had never been on a horse, so you can see trail walkers near each horse for the riders safety) my son played Mindcrap with his friends (the brothers of the horse riders) it was a perfect day for all involved. Haha!

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While school kids are finishing up their last few weeks of school, I hear my public school mama friends tell me about their busy end of school year calendar chaos. It reminds me how very blessed we are to be homeschooling. We are enjoying all this warm weather having fun with friends and not in a busy chaotic frenzy.

Spring is here…Fuzzy Butts and Bud Fuzz

We are sure seeing signs of spring around here.

Our fuzzy butts (aka baby chickens) are settled into their brooder. We have 13 chicks this spring. We will be eating and sharing a lot of eggs with family and friends come this fall.

This year our flock will consist of a variety of breeds, which will hopefully give us a fantastic variety of colorful eggs. We sure have missed having fresh eggs in the house. Unfortunately two years ago a predator made a dinner out of our entire flock one night, leaving not much evidence behind except a couple of feathers from our more feisty hen…named FLOWER haha!

We are also seeing some bud break in the vineyard

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I’m laughing a bit, because I had thought I finished this draft and posted it eons ago…but apparently didn’t and now I can’t find the photos of our darling little fuzzy butt chicks (who are nearly grown now!) nor can I find the vineyard bud break photos…sooo here is what middle of spring looks like around here haha!

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Homeschooling is apparently keeping me busy, but summer is on the way and schooling gets pretty relaxed during the summer months.

Maybe blogging more consistently will be my summer time goal? ( fingers crossed)

Do Homeschool Kids Miss Out?

Each year we have an annual homeschool cupcake decorating valentines day party. This year valentines day happen to land on a public school holiday (Presidents day) so we were able to invite both our homeschooled and public schooled friends which was a special treat.

We had about fifty people here enjoying themselves. And once again, I look around to find a bunch of kids that are very well socialized and have lots of friends. (Mythbuster #1 – homeschool kids have friends and are socialized!)

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Kids were having a blast all over the place, jumping on the trampoline, zipping down the zip line, climbing trees, digging giant holes in the hillside (apparently just a few foxholes and trenches incase we reenact the war during history lessons, haha!) and decorating cupcakes. It is always such fun to see kids being kids and having a ball!

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It is also great to see so many school kids and homeschool kids getting along. (Mythbuster #2 – that homeschool kids and school kids can’t get along.) They all cooperated and worked well together toward similar goals.

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There were lots of various ages ranging from 2-12 and all the kids seemed helpful and able to get along with their peers, which beats yet another myth…(Mythbuster #3 – who’s a peer? same age? same interest? same capabilities? or someone you just like hanging out with regardless of differences?)

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So as I look around and see an amazing group of kids that are very well socialized busting more homeschool myths I feel happy to know we are a part of it all. I love knowing with time the homeschoolers will show the world just how fantastic they are!

I hope anyone that is considering homeschooling understands that the lifestyle of a homeschooler is not some foreign weirdo world. Your lifestyle is up to you. Homeschooling puts the control back into your hands. Your family, home, life is once again yours.

And the answer is NO…homeschool kids do NOT miss out on anything! They have lots to celebrate!

Homeschool Mornings – A Great Reason to Homeschool!

 

Homeschool mornings make it alllll worth while! 

Every morning all over the place children are woken up early to get dressed, eat breakfast and rush off to school for the day. And every morning there are loads of homeschooling parents wondering WHY? Because as we sip our coffee or tea, our children are waking up naturally when their bodies are ready to rise. They are able to eat breakfast casually and get to their studies in a relaxed state of mind. 

Some mornings are more special then others, for example this morning we couldn’t start our school work because my daughter reallllllly wanted to play reading egg games on the iPad (Readingeggs.com) and my son really wanted to finish reading his book. 

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So we pushed our school work back a bit and I enjoyed an extra cup of tea. 

On this morning the kids insisted on making me breakfast in bed.

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I know…you might be a little jealous of that elaborate spread…haha! But it’s moments like this impressive breakfast in bed and all the sweet sentiments that come with it I would have missed out on if my kids were already on a bus off to school.

or what about the joys of not having to read about weather in a text book, but instead go outside and experience it, taste it, see it, feel it, laugh in it, soak it up fully. 

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Homeschool mornings make the days where math or spelling are challenging all worth while. All the little moments thru the day that are silly, loving, messy, huggable, laughable are far more often then the rushed, crying, stressed moments. If you are having a bad homeschool day, you have the flexibility to take the day off. Enjoy life! Enjoy your kids! 

Have a great day homeschooling today!!! 

Beetle Bailey Wins the War on Math Today

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While doing some boring old math drill practice…I notice the comic strip section of the paper has caught my son’s eye…guessing I will need to record more reading then math for this hour! Haha!

The Adventures of Leaf Man!

I can’t take all the credit, a fellow homeschooling mama friend of mine gave me this great idea and my kids have had so much fun with it! We have created soooo many autumn decorations I’ve lost count! This is a fun adventure to help get the kids out into nature. (Even for those of you that might live in the cement jungle)

We first read a few fall books about seasons, changing leaves, etc…then ended with this fantastic book titled LEAF MAN.

Afterwards my kids and I went outside and searched for various leaves. Amazing how many shapes are out there in plain view that are passed by daily and never noticed! We collected a TON. The kids had so much fun they continued to collect more and more well after we had plenty! All sorts of colors and shapes and sizes!

We only had a short time frame to create, so the kids got busy quickly!

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Later in the evening after our busy day with friends, they went directly back to the table and started creating leaf creations again. We had leaf men, leaf fish, leaf birds, etc…

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First thing this morning they are once again at the table creating more leaf creations. They are loving this project! I highly recommend this activity! (Even for adults! I have to admit I’ve had fun with it too!)

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So get outside and start creating with nature! 🙂

French Meals

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Before our trip, I was looking forward to grand French meals with an element of surprise. I thought I would practice before the trip and hit up a local french restaurant with some friends. I blindly pointed to some unknown meal and said “I’d like this please”

A while later the waiter puts in front of me a ham and cheese sandwich covered in white sauce. I looked at my friends wondering who’s meal this was, because I didn’t order a ham and cheese sandwich. That seemed too American. I was expecting something a bit more exotic. I said to the waiter, “I think this must be someone else’s meal, I didn’t order this” He appeared very confused, because apparently I did order it! Haha! I simply forgot, I had no clue what I ordered. Haha!

I apologized. Realizing that was tricky and this transaction was in my native tongue, English! How in the world would that have gone over in France with my broken french?!? I was certain to be poofed out of the restaurants in France!

I happily ate a ham and cheese sandwich, rethinking my just point and eat plan. I knew I wouldn’t point to “tar tar” as that’s raw meat, but anything else should be fine…right? (Yes, I knew all about snails and frog legs, I was mentally prepared for that, just wasn’t ready for ham-n-cheese sandwiches)

One of the first restaurants we found during our stay in the french country side was a western themed Buffalo Bill place. When we walked in, they spoke English and had American country music playing. It felt a touch twighlight zonish. Were we in France or Alabama…we weren’t sure?

During our stay in Paris, we rented an apartment, which was very nice. We were able to get to know our community, the bakery, market, playground, etc…

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Our children enjoyed having “normal” food now and then at “home.”

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As normal as snails can be, haha! Yup, when in France do as the french do. We bought escargot at the market and gave it a whirl back at our apartment. Thank heavens because comedy it was. Pure comedy! Nothing a nice proper french restaurant would have enjoyed seeing. Haha!

My daughter was a brave soul and even though snails are one of her favorite pets. Yes, we do actually have pet snails in a terrarium here at home in the states. She decided to try one. There in our kitchen my daughter and I shared the french experience, I doubt either of us will forget.

Chewing for days on what tasted like the worst over cooked leathery meat dipped in the best garlic buttery sauce one could imagine…unsure why they waste such amazing sauce on snails when lobster would be MUCH BETTER dripping in that green garlic buttery heaven. I swallow. I look at my daughter, her face is hilarious! She has been chewing for what seemed like eons. Thinking she must be confusing it for gum because one would have naturally swallowed by now, she looks at me with a disgusted face and says “do I need to swallow this or keep chewing?” I laugh, my heart melts a little for her sweetness! And I tell her it’s ok to spit it out if she doesn’t want to swallow it. She promptly leans over the sink and viola, a chewed to a pulp remain plops into the sink. No sauce in sight, the sauce is great we both agreed, but we could do without the snail bit!

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I ate a second one just to make sure my first experience was accurate….it was. My daughter proceeded to clean out and wash all the shells in hopes of making a pretend pet snail game.

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Nearly the whole time my son was off on the balcony trying to get away from the snail adventure to his best ability! Plugging his ears, closing his eyes and repeatedly asking, begging loudly “can we please stop talking about eating snails, please…please can you please stop talking about the snails…pleeeease???” (Accompanied by some dry heaving motions and gags!)

At times the kids were finding it tricky to find meals they enjoyed, so we splurge to their request for McDonalds. Something we do not do at home, but we are on holiday in France and well french McDonalds must be out of this world. After all their french fries have to be amazing, right?!? Haha! The park pigeons enjoyed the french fries for sure!

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I did end up gaining a whopping ten pounds while on holiday. We had some of the most amazing bread, cheese and wine…but I have concluded that to offset the bread cheese and wine, they stay thin by spending a great deal of time in a cafe sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes like chimneys, something I did not do, but could see the point of it now. Haha!

Overall, my french food experience wasn’t bombastic, but I have hopes of returning with my husband when the kids are older and giving it a more grown up chance.

How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

For those with skeptical family and friends, this bit of homeschooling info is always handy to have in your back pocket! 🙂

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Source: TopMastersInEducation.com

Independence Day!

I have decided to start expecting more of my children. I have run a few experiments in the past regarding their basic needs. Like for example, if I don’t supply breakfast, what will happen. Will they tell me they are hungry? Will they get something to eat? Will they ask me to make them something to eat? If I don’t remind them to get dress for the day, will they stay in jammies all day? Will they get dressed to go outside and play? At what time of day will they get dressed? Will they dress appropriately for the weather? Etc…

Well my son got dressed immediately after waking up. My daughter stayed in Jammie’s the entire day. Neither of them mentioned hunger or desire for food until 2:00 in the afternoon! And I replied to their request with, “you can get a snack off the snack tray yourself or wait for me to finish what I’m doing to get you something”…they both replied they’d wait for me to get them something to eat!

This is NOT going to do IMHO! So with the help of jet lag (earlier wake up and bedtimes) I started a new routine that I hope will stick. But the process is slow and painful for mama!

This new routine involves being dressed for the day (mama Lou included) by 7am. Fixing their own breakfast under my supervision. So far they are mastering pancakes, hard-boiled eggs, and toast. The painful part comes in watching how slooooooow the process is, when I can whip out breakfast in a flash…but they have to become more independent or their future spouses will never speak to me.

We accomplish our three Rs and if we haven’t taken too long in doing so, then I toss in another subject…if the day seems to be dragging on or the work has been tough, that’s it for sit down work. We might listen to story of the world later while driving to park day for some playtime (aka socializing!)

Then we mustn’t forget lunch…grilled cheese, peanut butter & honey or jam sandwiches are what they are mastering at the moment. And again a very slooooow process of getting the step stool, plugging in the griddle, getting the butter bell, getting the butter knife, spreading the butter…oh wait need to get the bread, get the cheese, and well you know the rest…step by step…

Cleaning up after themselves is constant as all mothers know, but we are taking it to another level which requires me to be on top of two people in different rooms sometimes making multiple messes….training them to not start a new game until the other mess is cleaned up…and not just cleaned up, but put back where it belongs the way it was when it was found, is a daunting task for someone who finds it much easier to kick the kids outside to play and tidy up in peace & quiet.

While I wait for my photos to arrive, so I can share with you a great family holiday, I’m spending my days (which used to be more relaxed and easy-going) setting up a routine and teaching some independence skills to my children. The thought is once that independence kicks in, we can go back to a more relaxed mode without having to worry that my kids will never change their underwear or eat a healthy morsel of food on their own! Haha!

Reading Tree Motivation

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I wasn’t planning on starting the reading tree until we started our official new year, but the kids had different ideas and so we already have a few new leaves up and I’m pleasantly surprised at my daughters reading level…might ditch the BOB books as she appears to be farther along.

Listening to my son read skippyjon jones with a Spanish accent made me realize he might get the Spanish language better than French…but lucky for him he’s stuck learning both haha!

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It is such a treat to take a break from laundry, house chores and other misc not as important tasks to sit down and listen to a story read out loud by your child. Hearing their voices tackle challenging words, see the pride when they conquer that word, hug them and encourage them when they are frustrated. It is so special to get to be a part of the process. I love it!