Thursday, May 26, 2011


Here are my menus for the next several days...

Asian Noodle Salad with Sliced Beef and Mandarin Oranges

BBQ Pork Sandwiches With Cole Slaw and Baked Beans

Grilled Lemon Chicken, Loaded Baked Potato Salad, Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled Steak, Veggie Packets on the grill (Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower), Rolls

Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I don't know about y'all, but I love summer and grilling out!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Sometimes our own dreams and ideals can inspire us. Sometimes those same dreams can crush us.

What mother has never seen her child do something that they just KNEW 'their' precious little snowflake would NEVER do?  As parents, it can be pretty humbling to witness that.  And our dreams of having the 'perfect child' fly out the window.

What homeschooling mother hasn't been discouraged because, when she started this homeschool gig, had visions of her homeschooling looking one particular way and realizing that it looks nothing like that dream?

We need to homeschool with the end in mind.  Realizing that sometimes you have to change your dream to suit the situation.  Change it to suit your children.

What do I want *my* end result to be?  I want my children to love learning!  To learn to educate themselves.  To feel confident in their abilities, academic or otherwise.  To feel like they have something to offer the world.  To realize that education is more than taking in information, vomiting it out into a test and moving on.  And above all, to be responsible citizens and NOT toexpect the world or the government to take care of them.

Will any of those things be affected if we don't do hands on art projects every week?  No.  If we don't join every social opportunity that comes our way?  No.  If they don't have interactions with large groups of children every day? No. 

Will any of those things be affected if they are allowed to persue their passions? Yes!  If they are taught in a setting free of peer pressure? Yes!  If they are given opportunities that could otherwise never be avaliable to them in public school? Yes!  If they are given a chance to determine who they are in this world and learn to love who they are? YES!

Yes, I have at times had doubts about our homeschooling.  I have entertained the thought of sending them back to public school.  But it always seems that when I begin to have those thoughts...something comes along to show me that we are doing a fabulous job.  That we really do love where we are in life.

It may not be what I *thought* it would be in the beginning...but as long as the end product is what I have in mind, it will have been worth all of the hard work involved.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

What a pile of garbage that line is.  Words pierce you to the core of your being.  They wound you in ways that, sometimes, never heal.

My son more than likely has Aspergers, which is basically a form of high-functioning Autism.  He is physically awkward.  He is socially awkward.  He will ask you a thousand questions if he wants to know something.  He has particular interests which may or may not intrest others his age.  He is impulsive and occaisionally doesn't get it when someone is trying to give him the 'brush off'.  Some of this I know is not particularly endearing to other kids his age. 

So when a group of kids down the street, who were at one time very good friends with him, decided to 'not like him' sucked.

It went down like this:  they purposely excluded him from a basketball game.  When he stated he wanted to play, they told him to go home.  Yelled that no one cared about him, no one liked him, so why didn't he just go HOME.

I talked to one of the mothers.  She seemed annoyed at me and non-plussed that her children acted that way.

I then found out that they had been challenging him to fights and when he declined they called him a sissy.

I wish they knew the boy I know...the one who would never purposely hurt anyones feelings. 

Who loves animals and his sister. 

Who is exceptionally funny and witty and talented.

Who goes through life with sunshine on his shoulders and harbors a happy spirit. 

Who can locate just about anything in the house that I have misplaced. 

Who gladly offers to help with housework or chores.

Who can throw a football and hit a golf ball like nobody's business. 

Who invites his little sister to sleep on the top bunk in his bedroom on nights when it storms, because she is so afraid of storms.

My daughter has been over to play with those boys smaller sisters.  She over heard one of them say something not-so-nice about my son.  She flat out told him not to talk about her brother that way.

I am so glad.  I am so proud of her.

So any of you who think homeschoolers don't experience real-world bumps....there you go.

The only difference is, he didn't experience this alone in a classroom.  He doesn't have to pass those kids in the halls every day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What Standardized Tests Taught Me

Let me go on and say it- I HATE STANDARDIZED TESTS.  Or, at least I disagree with them. 

"Standardized".  To whose standards?  And who decides what children need to know and when they need to know it?  I would love to meet that person.  They must be exceptional.  Above standard if you will.

My children were given a nationally recognized standardized test a few months back.  Unlike when they were in public school, I did not make a huge deal over it.  Truth be known, other than a week or two learning how to fill in the answer bubbles, they had no other preparation.  The way I see it..if I am doing my job teaching, then it will reflect in the test.

When I got the results back, some things were surprising while others were no surprise at all. 

Biggest surprise-topics we never 'formally' studied my children excelled in.  (I.e., economics and earth/space science)  The science is something they love and read on their own accord.  The economics...I have no idea other than discussions we have around the house or at the store have actually sunk in their little brains.

Other big surprise- how can a third grader score to a seventh grade level on a subject?  Do they include seventh grade level questions on the test?  If can it be classified as a third grade test? 

My children did very well.  Of course they have areas where they need improvement...what child doesn't.

So, given the fact that my kids had little to no pre test preparation,  excelled in subjects that we never cracked a textbook on, and scored way above the grade level of the tests they were taking...why do public schools make SUCH a big deal over test scores?  If the teachers could just teach the kids, the kids would do fine on the tests.

Oh yeah, I remember.  Money.  Government involvement (because honestly...does the US government ever do things in a sensible, cost efficient and logical way? 

What this test taught ME was that in government run schools....there is much ado over test scores where there really shouldn't be at all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nature Study

One thing I love about reading 'mommy blogs' is the variety of resources one can find useful.

Handbook of Nature Study is one of those.  Go on over and take a look...there is way too much information on that blog for me to even attempt to provide any over here! 

I also came across these two books:

 These two books have been added to my 'wish list' for our curriculum next year.  The handbook is more or less a guide on how to conduct a nature study.  Obviously the other is a guide on how to get started on a nature journal.   Basically you go out, find examples of what you are wanting to study, and use the journal to sketch, document information, etc.

We will plan on spending at least one hour a week outdoors observing something specific, i.e. a particular type of plant, fungus, creature...or even clouds, weather, etc.  This is otherwise known as...

the Outdoor Hour!  On the Handbook blog you can find a weekly challenge for your nature study that week.  I think the kids will love this for a number of reasons- it's like a scavenger hunt/playtime outside/art.  My son in particular is an avid photographer and he will enjoy snapping photos of what we discover.   I will love it because it will help with scientific observation, such as classifying, observing, documenting, hypothesizing.  I am sure it will also lead to interesting and thought provoking conversations. 

THIS is why I homeschool.  To get my kids outside, in the real world, to learn.

How about you?  Do your kids love the great outdoors like mine?  Do you do a nature study?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If You Plant It...They Will Come

I have a nice little herb garden in my front yard.  Basil, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, parsley and dill.

Guess who LOVES dill and parsley?

Black Swallowtail butterflies...that's who!

 They came and laid little pearly eggs on my herbs.  Which then hatched into tiny caterpillars...too tiny for me to photograph well.  As you can see, the caterpillars have grown considerably.  We observed that they shed their skin when they grow.  Each growth stage is called an 'instar'.  Did you know that?

Being who we are, each of the cats got named.  Elvis Parsley, Dill Pickle, Green Bean and Knucklehead McSpazitron. (Don't ask)

 Mr. Green Bean has decided to become a pupa.  He just attached to a twig.  Soon he will become smooth and hard.

 Another shot of Elvis Parsley...

There are two caterpillars in each habitat.  They have twigs to climb and herbs to munch.  And me to clean out their incessant poop.

Yes, I think I will call this SCIENCE/ CLASS PETS.

Don't Just Hear It...Believe It!

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.” James 1: 1-5

I love when I open the Bible or come across Scripture that makes me feel like God is high-fiving my forehead and telling me "This is for YOU, Knucklehead."   The above Scripture is one of those.

I am the kind of person who hates asking for help.  I don't *think* I am a control freak.  Maybe just a little.  The real reason I hate asking for help is I don't want to put anyone else out with my problems.  People have enough problems of their own.  They don't want to deal with mine.

So I came across that Scripture this morning and got the high-five forehead smack from God. 

It was uplifting.  It was just what I needed to hear.

Maybe some of you need to hear it too.  Not just hear it but BELIEVE it.

Thanks, God.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodbye, Facebook

I deactivated my Facebook account.  Lent was a big eye opener for me. (For those of you who are new to my blog, I cut out Facebook for Lent and surprisingly...I enjoyed not being there.)

The main reason I deactivated was I saw what a waste of time being on Facebook was.  Not that I was on there 24 hours a day, but the time I spent on there I would always think in the back of my mind "That was 30 minutes I could have spent cleaning the toilet."  Or "That was 15 minutes I could have spent reading with my children."

In my post-Lent return to Facebook it seemed I was seeing it through different eyes.  I saw people disrespecting their spouses.   I saw words get twisted and tempers flare.  I saw feelings get hurt over misperceptions of other's posts. 

And it dawned on me that I was taking time away from my family to contribute to something that was hurtful to people... intentionally and unintentionally.  Which is a shame. 

So I deactivated.

I think there are some people who think I am angry at them or others,  That's not the case at all.

I just want to spend my time in the 'real world' with people who love me and whom I love. I want my conversations with others to be personal and intentions to be clear. I don't want to waste another minute.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Manners. They're Free. Get Some.

I read an article today about the 25 manners your children should know and practice before the age of 9.  I was surprised to see such basic things as 'Say please and thank you'.  Well...duh.

So I thought about the manners I consider important and made a list.

1.  Say please and thank you.  I remember my son's 3rd grade public school teacher telling me how my son was the only child in her class who consistently said please and thank you and how refreshing it was.  "Most kids act like they're entitled to everything they get," she said.

2.  Parents- (and I know my kids are guilty of this but *I* follow it the best I can) don't let your children interrupt adults when they are having a conversation! Unless of course if they are puking or bleeding, by all means, tend to them.  My kids know if I am talking, and they run up trying to interrupt the conversation they will get the "Talk to the Hand" signal...meaning, do NOT interrupt us.  When I am done speaking I will acknowledge you. 

3.  Lawsie, mercy, please tell your children to chew with their mouths CLOSED.  Smacking, slurping, talking with a full mouth is just plain gross.  

4.  Any time you recieve a gift, look the gift giver in the eye and tell them "Thank you". With sincerity.  I don't care if it was a pair of socks, show appreciation.  Because really, you aren't thanking them for the gift, you are thanking them for the fact that they went out of their way to acknowledge your birthday/Christmas.

5.  This is so basic I hate to even say it... but remember the old saying "If you can't say anything nice, don't say ANYTHING at all"? Yeah.  Do that.

6.  Parents of boys-tell them that bodily noises, as funny as they are, need to be discreet if at all possible.

7.  Teach your children to NOT argue with adults.  Respect your elders.  Even if you think they are wrong, the adult is still the adult and you are still the child.  So hush.

Let me just say that yes, my kids have violated these a time or two (or twenty).  But rest assured, they were corrected ASAP.

How about you all?  What are your etiquette pet-peeves?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Team Player

Here in the South, we love our sports. Why? I dunno. Personally *I* think it stems from the love of tradition.  If it is traditional, we Southerners will take it to the nth degree.  Which I happen to love.  And no one can deny the benefits of team sports for children. 

My son played tee-ball/baseball every season since he was 4 (he's now 11).  This was the first year he said he didn't want to play.  Why remains to be revealed.  I think he was just burnt out on baseball.  As a mom and huge baseball fan, I was very disappointed.  I love nothing better than spending a hot summer day watching some kids play baseball. 

This year his passion is golf.  Not my favorite.  I might enjoy *playing* golf...but watching someone else play, well, not so much.  No one jumps up and yells and fist-pumps at golf tournaments.  (Or do they? I've never been to one, but I imagine it is a less spirited crowd.)  But he is really a good golfer and I will nurture his talents, what ever they may be.

Last night I watched him throw a football with his dad.  For a skinny kid, he really can THROW that ball!  And he was catching passes like nobody's business. 

I think I might sign him up for football this year.  Maybe then I can fulfill my fist-pumping needs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

10 Things I Learned From Motherhood

1.  You really don't need sleep as much as you THINK you do.

2.  No matter how grody it all washes off.  Usually.

3.  I can clean up puke and eat a cookie at the same time.

4.  No matter how angry you get at your kids, when they smile and tell you "I love you Mom!" you can't help but smile. 

5.  That I truly could rip the throat and beating heart out of any one or any thing that would ever harm them.  With my bare hands. 

6.  Forget gold and diamonds....those little crummy crafts made out of paste and glitter...those take my breath away.

7.  I now understand why my mom always bought stuff for me when we went shopping together.  It's much more fun to buy something for them.

8.  I never knew I could ever worry about how much another human being ate or pooped... or didn't eat and didn't poop.

9.  That kids, when they get their feelings hurt, get over it in a matter of minutes.  I, on the other hand, hang onto it like a dog with a bone.

10.  If it all got blown away-the house, the car, everything-if I still had those little turkeys by my side...I'd be the wealthiest woman on the planet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The local private school up the road is offering classes for homeschoolers-art, science, music, math...all kinds. 

Part of me says..."YAY! Where do I sign up?"

Part of me says... "This will be great for my children's accountability and independence."

Part of me says... "Wow.  That's kind of a lot of money.  We could use that money for field trips, vacations, fun stuff for school."

Part of me says... "But I don't want to be the only one of my little homeschooling group NOT joining.  I don't want to be left out."

Part of me says... " We could join 4-H and have the same types of classes but with less money and less time invested."

Part of me says... "I don't like the idea of two days a week being out of the house away from our true schooling."

Part of me says... " My kids would love it!"

Part of me says... "We would have to eat Ramen noodles and beans for a year to afford it."

I'm feeling conflicted.