Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Didn't Make It

So - NaBloPoMo is ending tonight.  Oh you evil, evil beast!  I did not make it.  This is my 33rd post for the month of November.  That does not break down into one post per day though, to that point I failed.  Oh, how I failed miseribly!  I did succeed at posting more than once a week though and that is growth.   
But, it was a great experience.  I met some really nice bloggers and got to read some awesome blogs.  That is something that I am very grateful for. 
So, next year BlogHer, maybe next year I'll be able to make it for the entire month of November.  Thanks for the experience and exposure.  

How To Deal With Family and Friends Who "Don't Get" Homeschooling

I have yet to experience anything remotely jarring regarding our choice to homeschool our boys.  I think the most annoying thing my boys get asked is "don't you miss your friends?"  As if they live is a vacuum and don't socialize with others their age.  Plus, is that the main concern about kids going to school, socialization?  Not learning...really?  Mind boggling! 
I read this over at A Brave Writer and wanted to share.  It's a really good post on what to do when They Don't Get It. 
We decided to pull Cody from public school over Christmas break of last year, we really didn't have to deal with family and friends questioning us at holiday parties, at least not that I can remember.  The one question that I do get asked, with sympathetic eyes no less, when at social functions is "did you do it for religious reasons?"  And the answer is no, we didn't.  Which I think throws them off, because if not for that reason, they why? 
I really like this from They Don't Get It

2. Focus on the enjoyment you get from being with your kids.
More important than discussing the failures of the school system is emphasizing how much you love being with your kids. No one can take that away from you. Most parents are startled to realize that being with your own children 24/7 is a pleasure, not a dreaded task. To argue with you means they are admitting they don’t enjoy being with theirs in the same way.

Now, I love my children very much.  I appreciate them more now.  You see, I don't have to deal with a decompressing from school child for a limited 4 hour time frame every day where all they want to do is NOT be with me.  Now, though, I have the opportunity to be with my children and appreciate them for who they really are.  Think about it, because I have, that child of yours who comes home from a long day of school being bombarded with stuff other than that which will enhance their learning processes, how much of what you deal with is really who your child is, deep down to their core?  I'm not saying it's easy, it takes time for a child to adjust to being at home and not in a school setting.  Our homeschooling experience is not anything close to a school setting.  Right now Cody is sprawled out on the couch doing his Biology work and Chris is sitting next to me at the dinning room table doing Art copy work with his bare feet swinging, humming something. 
But I do try to justify our choice to homeschool.  I am SO totally guilty of this

1. Don’t justify your choice by touting your credentials or qualifications.
Even if you have a teaching background, leave it out of the equation. The homeschooling movement benefits from a bold declaration that parents are adequate to teach children to read, handwrite, and calculate times tables. Let skeptics know that you are as much educational coordinator as instructor, as your kids get older. Remind them that they are making educational choices on behalf of their children too!
 
I don't have an education background.  I could never be a teacher.  I like my kids, I don't necessarily like yours.  I know my strengths (organized, detail oriented, anal retentive with a dash of perfectionism) and I know my weaknesses (loud noisy rooms filled with undisciplined children) - that's why I can't be a teacher.  My degree doesn't even lend itself to homeschooling.  I have a BA in Poetry with a Photography minor.  I love my parents for this - they didn't make me go to college to get a degree to get a job.  I got to study what I love.  Anyway, my husband on the other hand is in the education field.  I use his expertise to lessen the cynical blows that I may get from others.  Though after reading this and deep down I know that I as my childs parent am a good teacher.  So are you!  
Think of all the things you taught or are teaching your baby, toddler or preschooler.  Think about all the help you give your child if they are not homeschooled with their homework.  Think about the trips and adventures that you have taken you child on that have been learning experiences, to the zoo, nature center, museum, on a hike, or to a relatives home to hear about family history.  This is real life learning!  Which brings me to this

3. Talk about ‘family learning’ instead of school or education.
Many parents imagine assignments, grades, and lectures when they think of homeschool. They can’t picture imposing all that discipline and structure, while retaining a happy family atmosphere. Homeschool is different than institutional learning because the family is learning together. Discuss how everyone gets involved at their own level when working on a history topic or science experiment, when freewriting or listening to a novel read aloud. Tell them about tea times and poetry. Resist the temptation to explain how what you do matches what a school requires.

I learned very early on that my great ideas do not translate into good curriculum for my kids.  Here is one example.  Here
What I do need to remember going into the holiday season this year, with the multiple work, family and friends parties is this

4. Validate their authority in selecting the educational choices they’ve made for their kids.
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do—talk about educational choice. All of us make choices in how we educate our children. Let them know that you support their enthusiasm for the school system and that you can see how that’s working out for their kids (find whatever good is occurring in their lives and support it). Then share the unique joys of homeschool.

When I read this I thought DUH!  See, when I am questioned I get defensive.  But what if I turn the tables and instead of question their choice, support it.  Brilliant!
I am so grateful for this post from A Brave Writer.  I hope that you were able to get something out of it as well. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Showing Some Love

I did have grand plans on making it ALL the way through the month of November posting once per day, but that has all but fallen to the wayside here at Educational Anarchy.  Call it the rebel in me for not wanting to stick to the rules.  Or maybe it had more to do with the fact that I just got busy and forgot to post, or too tired, or maybe on those days where I had to work too...it was just too much.  But I tried, I really did.  I think I made it to day twenty-something.  Which isn't too fricking bad going from a once a week poster.  Either way, and whatever my excuse is for today, I failed at NaBloPoMo.  I'm okay with that though, this is something that I will not loose sleep over. 
When I did sign up to do this the thought of "oh....there are prizes to post.  Sign me up!" did run through my head.  What I have gotten in response to posting has been pretty cool.  People who would normally not view my blog are viewing it and some, yes some, are leaving comments.  It's giddy-like seeing an unmoderated comment waiting for me to moderate it.  What is even cooler is the prospect of someone who may be considering homeschooling but has a crap load of questions and doubts stumbling upon my little blog and they read something that makes them think "If she can do it, so can I", and why yes, you can.  That is how I got my inspiration and support to start.  Specifically by hitting up these two blogs on a near daily showing: Just Another Homeschool Blog and Tracey's Just Another Mommy Blog  as well as Tracey herself, have been a huge source to dip into.  In addition to her blogs, Kristen over at The Frugal Girl had me sucked in with so many of the topics she covers - minimalizim, frugality, homeschooling, and photography.  And through BlogHer's NaBloPoMo I have found some blogs which I absolutely love, for various reasons, and I wanted to show them some love.  Masked Mom was so gracious to name me in her top 5 blogs for the Liebster Blog Award (which blew my mind away, might I add). 
"Liebster" is a German word meaning dearest and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  
Awww...feel the love people, feel the love!
 
This is how it works:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Reveal your Top 5 blogs (with under 200 followers) and let them know by leaving comments on their blogs.

3. Post the Award on your blog.

4. Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people on the Internet.
So I wanted to spread this bloggy love onto the five blogs that I have become addicted to, through commenting or creepin', thanks to my participation in NaBloPoMo.  

1. Last Mom on Earth  - Amanda, you are awesome!  "So, now I'm a grown up. I never thought I would be good at being a regular person, but I'm figuring it out."

2. Homespun: My Simple Life in Appalachia - Lisa, your picture relax me and I love the simplicity of all you post.  So refreshing.
3. A Pair of Pink Shoes - Maggie, I love your blog!
4. Random Thoughts and Musing from the Island - C., you had me at "follow me and I'll follow you"
5. Rewind Revise - Lindsey, once I clicked on your link and saw your header photo I melted.  


Be sure to check them out.  


PS - if I showed some love to you be sure to play along and host your own Liebster Blog Award!  Keep the love going. 

This Week 11/21/11 - Three Day Week!

It was a three day school week here.  It went fast, I was prepared with an amended schedule and we got to do some fun things as well. 
We did some color science

Cody mixing colors

We did some service at My Joyful Heart.

Chris doing is journal on Turkey paper

Yep, these two...I got nothing else to say about this photo

We made lava lamps with water, oil, food coloring and LOTS of denture cleaning tables. 
We were suppose to go to our Homeschool Meet-Up on Monday but I nixed that plan.  I don't think that we are getting what we are looking for from the group, some other opportunities have come up and we are going to explore those.  I'm not saying that we are never going back, it's just not working now. 
Cody hung out at the teen center pretty much the whole first half of this past week.  He did some service work there to benefit the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation.  He's also really stepped it up this week with taking initiative and helping out around the house.  Both Dave and I are still kind of in amazed shock at this surprising development. 
Anyway, it was a laid back week (which was nice).  That's all I got!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Check THIS Out - I'm a Liebster Blog!

How fricking cool is this?!?  I KNOW!!!  Feeling the love from Masked Mom and all the lovely people who are stopping by because of her.  (*Waving HI*)  I'm a Liebster Blog.  My German mom would be so proud of me.  Quick, Dad - show Mom!
That's all you're getting from me tonight.  I've been up since 5am, worked a 9 hour shift, did Thanksgiving and my bed and pillow are calling to me, softly and seductively (my pillow is pretty awesome).
I'll be back tomorrow with a weekly recap of our homeschooling adventures this week.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How WalMart foiled My No Chrsitmas Talk Until December Plan

I've been trying to stick to my "We are NOT going to talk about Christmas until December 1st" reign of terror at my house.  For the most part it's going quite well.  I had to ask the boys for gift ideas last week for our family gift exchange (it's for the kids only on Christmas Eve) so that I could send out some suggestions.  Yesterday Dave and I talked about staying focused on November and Thanksgiving for the rest of the month.  Just enjoying THIS month, December will come.  Which was nice.  It was nice to be reminded that we are together on this, that we are both striving for simplicity this holiday season.  It's nice to know that I am not a lone ship.  But then we went to WalMart last night.  As soon as I stepped in through the first set of sliding doors I could smell it - RETAIL CHRISTMAS.  Do you know what stopped me in my tracks about 20 feet into the store?  A display for Axe gift sets.  Body wash, body spray and something else, I seriously don't recall.  And do you know what ran through my head "Oh, Cody would like that."  Did Cody ask for such a thing?  NO!  Do I think that Cody could use it? YES, it's a need based commodity.  This is where I struggle people.  Chris on the other hand was stopped dead in his tracks at some sort of roller coaster made of K'nex.  It looks nice all assembled, but how long will it stay assembled?  How long will it be until it is in the rubber maid bin full of other K'nex and Lego pieces.  I'm betting on 48 hours after it's opened.  I'm still digging my heals in to have the boys stick to a list of 5 things that they want for Christmas and I'm still going to stand firm to stick with that.  As much as it is a struggle for them, actually for Chris at this point, it's as much a struggle for me to stick to that when shopping.  I'm also going to stand firm on no Christmas talk until December 1st.  This will be difficult with Thanksgiving coming up, as I know there will be talk of wish lists and what the boys want.  I have done well on two fronts so far 1) My Christmas cards are still in their box on my craft table.  I will not be sending them out prior to December 1st, and 2) Our decorations are still in their storage spot in the garage rafters.  They will not be coming down until December 1st.
I just want to stick to one month, one season and one holiday at a time.  To appreciate and be grateful for them separately and in their own right.     

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Testament to Getting Older

As I was sitting trying to think of what to post about today, my left thigh started to tighten and I got a leg cramp.  Let me repeat that for you I WAS SITTING IN A CHAIR.  Not, running or lifting something - sitting.  The pain that shot through my leg made me jump up and half hobble, half drag walk my way up an down the hall while I whined "oh shit, oh shit" over and over again.  I'm sitting back down, though I can feel the burning sensation on the back of the thigh like my muscles are about to rip through my leg or something.  This is yet another affirmation that I am getting older.
I've throw out my knee standing from a seated postion
I've hurt my back lying in bed
I've hurt my neck turning it to look at something
These are simplistic tasks people.  Functional feats.  But NO, apparently for me every fricking movement or non-movement for that matter lands me in the bathroom looking for Icy Hot.
 

A must for holiday reading

I just finished reading Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays by Elaine St. James.  As someone who is constantly trying to reduce clutter, stress and unnecessary annoyances, I found this book to be packed with really good advice.
So good, in fact, that I read the whole thing in 2 hours.  Yep, it’s one of those books.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Week 11/14/11 - I Don't Like Chestnuts

I am still trying to write one post per day as part of BlogHer's National Blog Posting Month (NaBlPoMo).  It's fricking hard!  Especially since I am suppose to be writing articles for Examiner as well.  The conflicts I put myself in, I swear.  It should be a no brainer, I get paid to write articles, not blog posts.  DUH!  But posts are so much easier to write!  Argh! 
Our week went really fast!  I lied about god, you can read about that here.  If you get a chance, scroll down after reading this post and read about Anti Bully Week as well, thanks.
I've also been struggling with going to co-op meetings.  We have only been to one official meeting, and that was a parent support/kids play one.  Not a lot of support going on there.  To be honest I was expecting like a support group type thing ala AA meeting and THAT IT WAS NOT.  So, I was thinking what would be best for the boys?  I want them to be exposed to other homeschooled kids, blah, blah, blah.  Get a bond going.  Well the email fairies hit me with a proposal that is pretty sweet regarding this very struggle that I currently am having.  I think that things are going to work out a lot better than what I was trying to force happen with the co-op.
On to the photos!
Chris fed the squirrels and birds in our back yard

Cody working on his 5 paragraph essay

He got a hair cut too.  It's a faux hawk - that's what the kids are calling it, right?  lol

Doing service at My Joyful Heart.  We rolled pillows.  They are going to go to kids who don't have pillows.  That just boggles my mind.

While Cody and I were rolling pillows Chris was sorting stationary. 

Then he moved on to unpacking and sorting toys that will be used for Christmas gifts.  He was pretty excited to sort a box of Deck Tech stuff.

Cody sorting WWF figures.
What Cody and Chris unpacked and sorted

What I unpacked and sorted.  Oh Yeah!  A table of wrestling figures.  I had to resist the urge to take out the table with a flying elbow. 

Chris working on art

Cody working on vocabulary

Cody and Chris doing schoolwork in the waiting room of my doctors office. 

We roasted chestnuts.  I decided that I don't like chestnuts.  Blah!  Give me salted cashews!

We ended our week today with a trip to the orthodontist where Cody switched his band colors to a more festive fall red and orange.  We then swung by my aunt and uncle's where I am finishing up a genealogy project with them.  Cody adores them and I'm trying to figure out a way to visit with them on the way back from his basketball practice which is right down the street from their house.  
Cody is at the teen center tonight.  I am so thankful that such a place exists for him to go to.  He leaves tomorrow to go to his dads for the weekend, they are going to go to ChiTag.  He's really excited about going and I can't wait for him to come back on Sunday and tell me all about it.  I was about to type "stupid work, I can't go", but changed my mind.  I'm grateful that I have a job, it sucks sometimes but it has it's perks (such as pick my own hours so I can homeschool).
Things feel a little crazy around here and I feel like there is a lot to do, which I don't like.  They actually aren't a little crazy, I just feel like they are.  Like there is this buzzing sensation of constant going ons around me.  I'm sure that once I get this genealogy project done I'll be able to exhale a bit.  Cody starts traveling for basketball the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  I was able to connect with his old karate instructor and am planning on getting Chris in classes once they resume at the end of January.  I'm sure that he will be excited about that!  My little Kung Fu Panda =)
That's all I have for this week.  Have a great one!    

Anti Bully Week

Did you know that this week was Anti Bully Week?  I didn't either.  Cody told me last night while I was driving him back from the teen center near our house.  Then, today as we were driving to his orthodontic appointment I spotted a bunch of trees with white ribbons on them.  I wondered if it was because of Anti Bully Week so I looked it up when I got home.  I don't know for sure if it is because I cannot find a definitive site that says so.
Anyway - anti bullying.  My kid was bullied.  Relentlessly.  It mostly happened at the bus stop or on the bus coming home from school, never on the way.  Smart kids.  Because the school wasn't responding like I thought they should have (expel the fricking kids), I took it upon myself to prove (beyond my kids words) what was happening.  I considered putting a tape recorder in his backpack, but I didn't think that would work out.  So one morning I pulled my van all the way up to the front of our driveway and sat in the drivers seat with a video recorder and taped what was happening at the bus stop.  My kid was getting rocks hurled at him and hit with a stick while his supposed friends looked on.  He didn't defend himself because it was a girl doing it (one who was older and bigger than him).  We had been sending him to karate classes since kindergarten to help him build up his self esteem and learn self defense, which yes, as sad as it is, he did need in kindergarten because that was when the bullying started.  Now, at a different school in a different grade, third to be specific when I video taped the bus stop, it still continued. 
He's one of those laid back kids.  One of those kids desperate to be liked and to have friends and to be thought of as funny. 
I sat there that day repressing everything that was in me.  All those knee jerk mommy gut instincts that yelled in my head "GO STOP THIS NOW!" and taped my kid getting rocks hurled at him and being hit with a stick by a 5th grade girl while a group of kids did nothing to help him.  And I don't blame those kids who did nothing, they were probably scared too. 
You know that it's getting bad when you tell your kid "Seriously, I'll take you out for ice cream if you hit them.  Just punch them.  You're a big kid, do it once and you will set them in line and no one will mess with you.  We will take care of the principle, you will not be in trouble with us.  Even if it's a girl doing it, punch her."  Yep - I said that and I don't regret it either.
After the bus came and picked the kids up from the stop I called the school and told them that I wanted to see the principle and social worker, that I had proof that my kid was being bullied.  When I arrived and was asked what proof I had I handed them my video camera and the principles eyes went wide.  "You know that you can get in trouble for taping kids on the bus stop?"  Really lady, really?!  And do you know what the resulting actions were from this?  They called the girl down, talked to her mom, kicked her off of the bus for one week and the principle rode the bus that afternoon to make sure everything was okay. 
But the thing is, it doesn't end there.  It didn't for mine.  It extends into the neighborhood, at the parks, on the streets.  It got so bad that we had to get him a cell phone so he could call us, just in case.  My gut reaction was never to allow him outside, but how realistic is that? 
Let me tell you what homeschooling has allowed me the pleasure of - not having to deal with this shit anymore.  Yep, those same kids still are in our neighborhood.  And yes, they sometimes say something to my kid.  But my kid doesn't ride the bus, he isn't in the halls, he isn't at the wrong lunch table and he isn't desperately trying to be liked.  See, he is learning to like who he is and gain confidence in himself. I'm not shielding him, I'm allowing him room to grow. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Lied Today

I said that we attend church
We don't
I feel very uncomfortable when asked by other homeschooling moms what church we attend, how we teach the Bible to our kids, etc...  I'm only around this non-secular group once a week.  Today was the first time in about 10 months that I was asked what church we attend and how I teach the Bible.   
*deep exhale*
I am trying to justify it by saying to myself
"It's a good group of kids, they don't need to know we are heathen"
"What difference does it make, it's not like they would be attending that church anyways"
I feel very uncomfortable right now, like I'm damned to an agnostic hell or something, and need to set things straight with this mom when I see her next week.
We do not attend church
We do not homeschool for religious reasons
My kids don't study the Bible
Why is this so difficult for me?  Oh yeah, because I want people to like me!  Damn people pleasing defect of character *grumbling under my breath*.  The bigger question is why do I care?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why is the government involved with school lunches?

Healthy lunches served at school – HA!  That’s an oxymoron.  On Monday the final version of the spending bill was released.  This is the same bill that would allow tomato paste to still be classified as a vegetable in terms of your child’s lunch consumption.  Tomato paste, really?  Just take a look at your child’s lunch menu and you can obviously tell who provides those meals. 

I Made It Two Weeks

I made it two whole weeks of posting every day and then yesterday...well, I got tired and went to bed.  I'm trying to write a post every day as part of Blog Her's NaBloPoMo challenge.  I could have written a post too.  I went to bed at like 11:20pm, which is unheard of for me.  That is like really early.  It was a busy day though.  We had to get all of our work done prior to noon so we could get out of the house and to My Joyful Heart to do a service project.  I agreed to go into work early yesterday, so from the service project is was back home to eat a late lunch really quick and off to drop Cody off at the Teen Club, then back home to change and get ready for work and then leave.  It felt like too much stuff crammed into not even a full 24 hours.  I hate days like that.  I try really hard NOT to have days like that.  So, come 11pm after all of that plus working I got tired and all I wanted to do was snuggle in my bed.  I swear my pillow was calling to me, taunting really.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let's Go Dude

That's what I've been saying, on loop, for the last five minutes.  I decided to start typing less I snap.  My patience are being tested.  Christian is doing vocabulary.  He needs to write one sentence per word.  He's having a hard time figuring out a sentence for 'why'. 
"Why is it so hard to come up with a sentence?"
"I don't know."
"Why are you not wearing socks?"
"I don't know."
"Why do you want a Spy Gear watch for Christmas?"
"It's cool."
"Why?"
"Because it's cool."
"Why don't you ask a question to come up with your sentence?"
"Why would I do that?"
"EXACTLY!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

He Wants To Go To High School!

That's what Cody declared not long into our school year this year.  He's excited about it.  There was a little tear in my heart when I heard that.  Granted, we never thought of homeschooling through high school, but that he's thinking about that now, about two months into 7th grade, makes me a little sad.  Oh I know what he misses.  He misses hanging out in school with his friends (though he able to do that after school) and he wants to be 'cool'.  Yeah, cool.  What he doesn't realize is that high school is a different game.  Chances are he won't be in classes with the kids he knew from school.  Chances are he won't be a the cool kid.  Chances are he won't even attend the same high school as the kids he wants to.  What will happen is that he'll have to get up before the crack of dawn and not get home until after the sun sets.  What will happen is he'll have hours of homework that will shorten his day and ability to hang out with friends.  What he wants is all the fun things about homeschooling and all the fun things about school - that just can't happen though.  So right now I'm trying to focus on November of his 7th grade year and not any further ahead.  What can I do for his this month, what does he want to do and how can we make it fun.   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Husband Thinks That I’m Killing the Bath Towels


We had the same bath towels for about seven years up until a month ago.  They really couldn’t be considered bath towels really, not what they turned into at least.  They were missing about four inches of material and lost all ability to absorb anything, even air.  It was quite pathetic.   So my awesome husband went to the store while I was at work one day and replaced all of our bath towels with the most amazing, fluffy, absorbent, big and warm towels I have ever used in my life.  He warned me that since they were obviously more absorbent than our old ones that I would need to wash them fewer at a time.  Whereas before I could fit all twelve bath towels in a wash cycle, I could now only fit five, maybe six in the washer now.  But after the third washing one of the corners on one of the towels started to unravel.  I got accused of over stuffing the washer.   Then the following week two more towels turned up with the same corner coming unraveled, and again I got accused of overstuffing the washer.  But I wasn’t!  I swore to my husband that I wasn’t cramming tons of towels into the washer, that I was following his instructions.  Then, one day, I had to go to work and I asked him to push the rest of the laundry through because I was running behind with it.  And sure enough another towel showed up with its corner unraveling and sure enough I only had six towels in the washer.  He saw it with his own eyes.  I was doing what he asked on me.  It doesn’t matter, I still think he believes that I am trying to destroy the bath towels.  I don’t know why.  I’m a big fan of a towel that will actually wrap all the way around me, that will absorb the water that I am trying to wick off of me and one that has enough fluff to it that it shields me from the draft of the exhaust fan in the ceiling. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Week 11/7/11 - The Week I Tried to Vote

(I have the urge to just pound on my keyboard because I can't think of anything to write...)

Okay, so today was a lot of fun!  We met up with another homeschooling family and the boys had a Nerf war, were so exhausted that they slept on the ride home and are already plotting their next adventure.  That's what I love about blogging, meeting people, getting support and making friends.  Awwww!  It's all good.
Lets move on to our week in review:
Cody doing Biology, Chris doing Vocabulary

Chris working on Math

This was for a Cub Scout project...I just think it's cute.

Super Memory State Flags.  They ACTUALLY want to play this....yeah!!

I'm making him look up a word he used incorrectly.  Ironic - both the word and the situation - OH!

Doing service at My Joyful Heart.  We were there for about 2 hours.  They are putting labels on envelopes here.

Service at My Joyful Heart - Cody is sorting travel size hygiene products

Service at My Joyful Heart - Chris is sorting candy for Christmas tins

We had a Den Meeting this week too - Chris is reviewing proper flag etiquette

I think that this is another cool picture.  Cody, who is the Den Chief, is behind Chris, who is the Assistant Denner this month. 

That would be SNOW!  That happened Thursday - snow sucks, especially in November. 

We worked on Veterans Day cards for A Million Thanks

Boys outside trying to catch snow in their mouths

I finally finished the baby shower quilt.  Yep - 6 weeks of procrastination!

I also finished the baby shower frame - again, 6 weeks of procrastination.

We celebrated Martinmas - this is Chris's lantern and his new hat and gloves to stay warm. 

This is Cody's Martinmas lantern with his new hat and gloves.

I use battery operated tea lights.  It looks really pretty at night.

Cody with his new hat and gloves. 
Now that I have the baby shower stuff done (I still can't believe it took me 6 weeks to get to it), I can work on addressing our Christmas cards.  I only have 50, so they are going to those we will not see for the holidays.  The boys are already talking about what they want for Christmas and asking when they can start making their lists .  I just finished reading Simplify Your Christmas (I checked it out at the library), and Dave and I have been talking about how we can institute some of the suggestions in there.  There are a lot of great suggestions, such as not sending Christmas cards, getting your child the ONE GIFT they really want, and how to slow down and enjoy the holidays for what they truly are meant to be.  I want to get as far away from the commercialism as possible and just enjoy the time with Dave and our boys.
So, with the holidays coming up, my plan is to take the boys to MSI to see Christmas Around the World and following that up with a visit to Daley Center for the Christkindlmarket and possibly tying it in with our St. Nicholas celebration.  My plan is not to over-do it.  I like the pace we have now.
Oh, and just a reminder that I'm participating in Blog Her's NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), so I'll be posting one post per day, not necessarily about homeschooling stuff.  Just an FYI.  I'm still writing for Examiner and you can find me here as well.  That's all I got!  Have a great weekend.  

Christmas Wish Lists – when is it too early?

Chris has been telling me and everyone else who will listen what he wants for Christmas this year, since December 26th of last year.  Actually, if may have been even earlier.  We have to deal with his “gimme, gimme” mentality often. 
But what I want to know is when do you allow your children to start making their wish lists for Christmas? 
I’m holding off until after Thanksgiving.  If I can push it off until December 1st that would be great.  I really only have to deal with Chris regarding this.  Cody doesn’t believe in Santa Clause and has been threatened with no gifts if he lets it slip.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Unschoolers' Waterpark Gathering

The 5th annual Unschoolers’ Waterpark Gathering will take place January 23-27, 2012 at Kalahari Waterpark Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.   Kalahari is not only the largest indoor waterpark in the USA but, also Ohio’s largest private convention center as well.  The resort has over 880 room, 4 restaurants, a night club, full service spa, gift shops, game room, and more.  The indoor waterpark includes a lazy river, wave pool, giant waterslides, thrill water coaster and depth appropriate play areas for smaller children as well.

Homeschooling Social Studies – The Bane to My Current Existence

Last year we started this wonderful, amazing and fun unit study on the 50 states.  I found it here.  We were doing two states per week and it was working out quite well because I was only working with Cody, who was in 6th grade then. 
Fast forward to September of this year.  It’s the day after Labor Day and our official start of the school year.  I have planned out two states per week (because we need to get all 50 states in during the school year, of course).  The boys work on the sheets and at the end of the week we do an ‘in the kitchen’ project that corresponds with both states.  Then, we make little books out of the worksheets.  Doesn’t that sound AWESOME!  Well, I think so.  And it was going well up until the second week of school when it became apparently obvious that Cody was outpacing Chris (duh! they are five years apart, why didn’t I realize that!) and that Chris was needing a lot of assistance completing some of the sheets.  So, by the third week of our school year I needed to change things up.  We went from two states per week to one (damn! we weren’t going to finish all fifty during our instructional year), and I felt like a failure because of it.  Because it was such a beautiful plan and it should have worked out…it should have!  Grrr…
Well, at the beginning of November I had to take a hard look at what we were doing for Social Studies.  Not because I was down to one state per week and my perfect plan to fit all fifty states in an instructional year was falling apart.  No, it was because I had to start bribing Chris to do his word search.  I was giving him one piece of candy (small pieces, I swear!) for each word that he found.  Now, I don’t think it’s that bad of an idea.  That was until I told Dave about it, and this is what evolved. 
So, I’ve had to take a hard look at my curriculum.  And we are now using text books for Social Studies (long, annoyed exhale).  It is what it is.  It’s not bad; it’s just not what I had in mind. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Want to Live a Pottery Barn Life

I love Pottery Barn.  I can't afford Pottery Barn though.  I do have one thing to my advantage, I'm pretty damn creative and crafty.  I'm the type of weirdo who when I go to a craft fair is armed with a notebook and pencil to sketch and take notes and my cell phone to snap pictures.   
I coveted this a few years back:
 Doesn't that look so damn festive!  I'm a sucker for anything fall and when I saw that table cloth and those kids with that banner I WANTED IT.
Now, there are a few problems with this 1)My kids will never look like that nor allow me to put them in turkey hats and 2)If I have a table cloth like that I'd freak out over it getting ruined with stains.  I have to pick my battles, so I opted for the banner. 
At the time I was determined to make it out of materials that we already had on hand.  I did not have felt, but had foam squares.  Cody, who was 8 at the time, and I sat down with a box of my craft stuff and plotted out our plan for attack.
This is what we came up with:
Not too bad, huh?  It's held up for 4 years and I love hanging it up every November. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Balance

I'm continuing on my commitment to post once per day as part of NaBloPoMo over at Blog Her.  I'm actually going to use the prompt from yesterday, which was:

Monday, November 7, 2011
Making family time is important to me. How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life? (Guest Post by Ricki Lake, who can be found on Facebook or Twitter @RickiLakeShow)

It's is difficult for me to balance my children from every other aspect of my life because I am with them so much during the day.  I do work part time outside of the home and quite sadly I have come to look forward to going to work just to get out of the house.  I KNOW!  And my job sucks too.  Folding towels and cleaning toilets is not a life calling.  It is what it is and I know I won't be there forever.  What I do know though is that if I do not take time out of the day for myself I'll likely hurt someone or fly off the handle.  What's that saying "If mom isn't happy, no one is happy"?  And I'm not talking 'I want to go to Hawaii otherwise I'll make your life miserable' type pettiness for happiness.  I mean contented happiness.  Like an exhale.  When I am restless, irritable or discontented I will react to life around me rather than act.  Me reacting is not a good thing, it's like a knee jerk reaction. 
How do I carve out time for myself?  Well, I guess it all depends on the day in question.  Lets look at Monday (only because it's not typical of any other day during the week).  In the morning up until about 1pm I am homeschooling, after that I am doing house work and catching up on laundry.  I make a few phone calls, catch up on e-mail throughout the day and try to blog (operative word here is 'try').  Around 5pm I start dinner, it's on the table by 6pm and we are done by 6:30-ish.  The boys take their showers and then leave with Dave to go to Cody's Boy Scout Troop meeting.  I then in turn do whatever in the hell I feel like for two whole hours.  Usually I read, sometimes I try to catch up on some shows that are DVR'd, other times I run errands for myself (I don't like taking the boys with me if I have to buy clothes for myself.  They are bored, and I take a long time to decide on what I want).  But let me back up a little first, in the morning I take a quiet time to center myself and ask to be lead in the next right thing in all my thoughts and actions and before I go to bed at night a do a quick gratitude list to keep myself aware that my life doesn't suck, it actually is really, really good.  It's all about perception.
As far as relationships, Dave and I try to get one date night in per month.  That is really all we can scrape together right now.  We do talk almost every night and catch up with each other.  we do this when the boys are in bed so we don't get disrupted.  We also make time during the week to watch a show together as well.  Again, when the boys are in bed.  
As far as work goes, it's just a job.  It does not follow me home (other than comical or ridiculous stories to share).  I have a set schedule and there really are no surprises.
All I know is that when I start to get into a funk I have to reevaluate what is going on with me, no one else, ME.  What needs of mine are not being filled?  How can I ask for help in getting them filled?  Is there something that I can do to change to course that I am following?  My pissy mood is no ones fault other than my own.  As is my good mood.
I'd really like to have more time to work on my crafts.  The last six months of 2007 are still waiting to be scrapbooked.  I have a button to sew on a pair of dress slack and a wall quilt to assemble.  I'll get to them in time, eventually.  Right now I'm just rolling with my non-perfectionist self and trying to be okay with that.   

Celebrating Martinmas

Martinmas is swiftly approaching.  It is being celebrated on Friday, November 11, 2011.  What is Martinmas?  You may know it as St. Martin’s Day or the Feast of St. Martin.  St. Martin of Tours, whom the holiday is named after, was a Roman solider and then in adulthood was baptized and later became a monk.  He is famous for saving a beggar by cutting his cloak in half and sharing it with him during a snow storm.  That night Jesus came to him in a dream wearing the part of his cloak that he had given the beggar.  ‘Okay?’ you may be thinking, ‘but I’m not a religious homeschooler, how or why would I celebrate this?’  As a secular homeschooler I’m going to share with you some of the things that we do to celebrate this holiday.
READ MORE HERE

Monday, November 7, 2011

Zero Is An Even! A Homeschooling Argument

"Mommy, I know what zero is.  If one is an odd than zero is an even," beamed my 7 year old.  
Sounded logical to me.  I raced through my brain real quickly "Is that right?"  Then my 12 year old pipped up.  "No it's not.  It's a non-determinant number."
Of course, I did what I thought right.  I sided with my 7 year old.  Not because he's the 7 year old, but because I was never taught this "non-determinant number" thing that my smart ass brilliant 12 year old was speaking of.  I would have searched on-line for the answer, but the 7 year old was using my computer to do his math work.  I mean, it seems pretty common-sense like, right?  Zero has to be an even number.
So here I am 3 hours later looking up the answer I gave my 7 year old to see if it was correct.  It's moments like these that I am SO grateful that I have assistance with homeschooling, at least in this case via an on-line math program.  They would be so screwed if I were teaching them math.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses as a homeschooler.  What I can and cannot teach them.  The things that I can teach them vastly outweigh what I cannot (at this specific point it's math, skateboarding, guitar and knot tying), everything else I totally rock at!  Just ask my kids, I'm sure they would agree.  They better, or they are in trouble.
Oh, and I found the answer thanks to Wikipedia "Zero is an even number, because it is divisible by 2." 
HA!  By the way, I'm not even going to search the non-determinant number thing because at this point, I'm right.  Why rock the boat?  I'm rolling with my rightness.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Take Your Kid Outside

We went out to breakfast this morning.  I love me some Sunday breakfast at Lumes.  Apparently, so does everyone else in our area.  I gather by looking at all those waiting for a seat along with us that many of them are coming from church.  Dressed up and made up.  Those were two words that would not have described me this morning.  Actually, what passed through my head was "can I get away with wearing my pj's?", that would be no, by the way.
We were seated rather quickly, unfortunately we were seated in a booth right by the waiting area.  With people leering at us, in obvious envy that we were seated and ordering and they were not.  I'm going to share one of my biggest peeves about eating out - screaming children and their unresponsive parents.  You know what, I've been there, but the way to respond to your child screaming to the octave equivalent of a fire alarm in not to turn them so they are screaming into my ear (or anyone else ear), but to LEAVE THE BUILDING.  Yes, I said it.  Get out.  Leave the building and calm your child down.  What do you do if your child will not calm down?  I'll share with you what Dave and I have done, we left the restaurant all together.  Because you know what, no one wants to have their meal disrupted by a screaming child.  Yes, I did just go there.  I just don't get other people some times, I really don't.  I get if your child is excited about the potential of Mickey Mouse Pancakes or some other bizarre kids meal item.  I have one of those kids, he's really into grilled cheese, and we have to only tell him once to calm down and talk low to put him into line.
I'm not perfect.  Before we even considered leaving the house to go out to eat some things were considered.  Was our child tired or did they just wake up from a nap, was our child overly hungry or would they become overly hungry with an extended wait for a table and if so, should we pack a snack, was our child sick, or was our child cranky in general because of some combination of the above?  If so, we didn't go out.
I don't know, am I being overly harsh here?    

It's November, Are You Thinking Christmas?

Technically, it's November 5th and no, I wasn't thinking Christmas until I returned home from work and found this on my front stoop (that's the large landing of the front stairs that lead into your home if your not from around here).




I had seen a funny comic a few days ago with a turkey holding a shot gun to Santa telling him to back off, that November was HIS month.  I also read (though I'm not sure if it's true) that Macy's isn't decorating for Christmas until November 27th.  Those two things put a smile on my face.  I'm all about celebrating the month, season, and am trying really hard to staying in the moment.  So, things like Christmas music in November or garland wrapped light poles down main streets are irritating me right now.  There is so much more to celebrate in November!  I'm in no rush to dig out ornaments, drape my house in tinsel or go shopping for gifts right now.
And no, it's not a Bah Humbug thing.  IT'S NOVEMBER!
Here are some things that we will be celebrating this month in addition to Thanksgiving:
Martinmas - click here for more info.  What it's all about for our family - for me, specifically, it's the start of winter.  The boys each get warm & fuzzy things.  In the past they have gotten winter hats and mittens, we are pretty stocked up on both (though one can never have too many stretchy black mittens for kids).  This year I think they are going to get thick socks and maybe a scarf.  We made lanterns last year using mason jars and covering them with tissue paper so that we wouldn't have to re-make lanterns every year.  We will light a candle for each one.  We will be celebrating it on Friday, November 11th, which is also
Veterans Day - click here for more info.  We honor this day by making cards for soldiers to be used by AMillionThanks.org
As far as special school outing that we will be doing this month, I plan on taking the boys with me on Election Day when I vote.  We will continue to celebrate the harvest season by helping the animals out this month and having a Nutting Party where we will throw out different nuts into our backyard for the animals to store for winter. 
I use to be...what's a good way to put it, obsessed, maybe.  Sure, I will go with obsessed.  I use to be obsessed with getting all of my Christmas cards out in the mail the day before Thanksgiving.  Why?  you ask - because I wanted my card to be the first on to arrive, duh!  But does that really matter in the grand scheme of things?  I only have 50 cards to send out this year with a card list that exceeds 150.  The only people getting cards this year are family members we will not being seeing over the holidays.  Those are the boundaries I'm setting with myself this year.  It's all in an effort to stay in the moment.