Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thieves of Today

"Yesterday and Tomorrow are the Thieves of Today."

I read that on a church bulletin board while driving my son to his middle school youth group meeting last night and it has bounced around in my head ever since.

Goodness knows I know too many people who let yesterday steal their today.  They live with past regrets, or revel in the glory days...."Everything was better then!" or "I just can't forgive my self for what I did.  I'll never forget it."

I am guilty of letting tomorrow stealing my today.  I am always worrying about the next thing, trying to get two steps ahead and not focusing on the here and now.  Then that makes me worry about yesterday being lost because I was too busy in Tommorrowland.

Remember: Yesterday was once Today.  It was a today that was filled with the choices we made (bad, good or ugly) and then when it was done, we put it behind us.  Or, should I say, Time put it behind us.
It's never coming back, no matter how much we wish or obsess on it.

Tomorrow doesn't exist.  It's really nothing.

Today is here though.  Today I get to choose if it becomes a yesterday to smile over or regret.

I'm going for the smile option.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Comprehension Booster: "ABC Books"

I know what you are thinking...

"REALLY? ABC books?  And how old are your children?"

Just listen before you judge me.

We are making ABC books about George Washington this week, as we just studied the French-Indian War.

Divide several sheets of paper across the middle with a red line.  Or purple.  Or green.

Each section will be represented by one letter only.

The kids have to start with the letter 'A' and think of a word that starts with 'A' and relates to George Washington.  Then they have to write a few sentences about why they chose the word they chose.

Sounds simple, but wait till you get to 'E'.   Can you think of a word that relates to  George Washington that starts with 'E' off the top of your head?  I didn't think so.  If you did, post it in my comments. :D

We are working through the whole alphabet (yes, even X, Y and Z!) and making an illustrated cover.

Simple, yes.  Easy...not really!  It really had them searching through several history books and encyclopedias for a while and the information they encountered was just a bonus.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Socko and Sally Show

 Guess what treat I had today? I was invited to the Socko and Sally Show!

 Emma was there too.  She's such a diva.

 Meet Sally...she's a sock with orange yarn hair.  She specializes in telling jokes.

 Meet Socko.  He's a...sock.  I think he lives in the Dirty Clothes Hamper.  His specialties are foreign accents and puns. 

My fellow audience...members of WWE.  I hope there is no smackdown during the show.

I hope you all have some equally awesome entertainment today. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Patience, Grasshopper

Blogging is cathartic.  It is. 

Any of you who are personal friends of mine know of what's become known as the Great Carpet Debacle of 2012.  Where we were told we would have new carpet on the 13th of January. It's since been moved to the 25th.  And being the frugal folks we are, we opted to save money and move all our furniture and tear up the old carpet.

We did this on the 10th I believe.

This is how I have been existing since then:

 Here is our classroom.  Empty because its contents and the contents of 3 other bedrooms have been distributed all over the house.

 Dining room...

 Foyer....(the globe, lady bug house and books give us away.  Geeky homeschoolers.)

 Living room....

 Kitchen.....(I love the bb guns on top of the book shelf.)

 The dining room is now the dining room/ class room/ depository of toys, bookshelves and closet doors.

Forget "eat-in kitchen"...we have a "LIVE in kitchen"!

Some days I laugh about it.  Most days I want to cry.

The 25th can't get here fast enough.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chinese New Year Unit Study

I don't know about you, but I love when there is a holiday!  So many ways to make school fun and interesting when there is a special day of celebration.  Monday will be Chinese New Year and we have a few fun activities planned. 

Reading this book will be a great starting point:

 It has so many interesting bits of information about the holiday and explanations of each custom.

Then, because it is also Math Fun Monday, we will read this:

Yes, it is actually set in India, but it is all about rice.  We will use a graph to graph the amounts of rice the main character accumulates throughout the story, and then predict how much will be accumulated at the end. 

There are some fun Chinese New Year lesson plans here:

We will study all things China- pandas, art and architecture, government and more.

Making Chinese yo-yo's from here:

And if I am feeling froggy...we will attempt a dragon puppet from here: http://www.thatartistwoman.org/2009/01/how-to-make-chinese-dragon-puppet.html

And of course we will feast on some Chinese food courtesy of our favorite local Chinese restaurant.

What about you?  Any special plans for Chinese New Year?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Inspiration- A Homeschooling Mom's Sanity Saver

Nothing feels worse than being uninspired when teaching your kids.  Well...stepping on that tack strip on the floor with bare feet last night came close...but it's a terrible feeling to know that my kids need me to be the responsible adult and provide a quality education and all I want to do is just sit on the couch and sigh because the thought of doing one more workbook page is enough to make me want to scream.

Thankfully I am friends with a passel of the most creative and innovative homeschooling moms around.

My friend Sherrie over at http://childresshousehold.blogspot.com/  (check out her blog!)  has inspired me with her ideas of Fun School.  She has assigned a 'focus topic' for each day of the week to allow for self-directed learning.

So, based on her ideas, I have come up with our self-directed schedule:

Mondays will be Math Fun Mondays.  We will study a famous mathematician, or play math board games.  We will do hands on math projects from my Family Math book. 

Tuesdays will be Tell Me About....Tuesdays.  They can pick any topic they want and prepare a short presentation.  They can make a poster or craft project, write a paper or poem....but they have to present their findings to the family Tuesday evening.  Great public speaking practice!

Wednesdays will be Where in the World Wednesdays.  Grab an atlas, find a country or state, read up on it (National Geographic Kids is an awesome safe website for this!) and make a craft or project related to what you learned.

Thursdays will be Techie Thursdays.  I will prepare  a folder in my 'Favorites' column on the computer of approved websites and game sites.  They can spend an allotted amount of time on the computer learning.

Fridays will be Fine Arts Fridays.  This will be the day we learn about an artist or composer and study music and art.

What about you?  Where do you find your inspiration?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Love When Stuff Like This Happens

If you happen to have a copy of this book in your homeschool library, your daughter might pick it up and start reading it:
She might become inspired. 

She might come across the section on Georgia O'Keeffe. 

She might learn about the life of the artist and her inspirations.

She might dig out the watercolors and watercolor paper.

She might attempt her very own O'Keeffe-esque painting.

I love when stuff like that happens.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Classroom of Life

We've been studying simple machines lately in science.  What better time to employ Daddy in the homeschooling process than invade the man-cave while he is rotating the tires and changing the oil?

We saw first hand how a car jack is a lever.  How when you try to jack it close to the fulcrum, it is much harder than if you use the very end of the bar.  (Mechanical Advantage anyone?)  And of course we saw how the lever makes lifting the van so much easier.

We took the wheels off the van and had them identify the axle.  We talked about how the steering wheel has a different axle that is controlled by the steering wheel, and how the van wheels are controlled by their axle.

What better way to learn such things than with your own hands and with your Daddy on his day off work?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Homeschooling a Middle Schooler

Almost every homeschooling family I know sends their kids to public school in middle school.  Some wait until high school.  I'm assuming much if the decision is based on social reasons, or the parents are afraid they don't know how to teach the higher level math and science subjects.  Either the parents feel the kids need to branch out, or the kids are ready to branch out.  Either way, if it works for them, I am for it. 

I, however, have a middle schooler who most emphatically says he never wants to go to school again.

He had some really great experiences in public school, but he also had a few really horrible experiences.   And I am here to tell you, even those few bad ones have left their mark.

What drives me nuts is when people assume I am holding on to him, pulling him back by the tail-feathers and forcing him to be homeschooled.  I promise, I'm not.

What is it that is so strange about a middle school aged kid being homeschooled and LIKING it?  Why do people think that I should be shoving him off to public school just because he is a pre-teen?   If you ask me, middle school was pretty crummy in and of itself.  If I had known about homeschooling when I was a middle schooler, I would have begged my mom to homeschool me.  As for higher level classes..there are so many options out there-tutors, co-op classes, online tutorials....it's not rocket science.

I get the questions like "How long do you plan on doing this?"  "How do you teach him math?"  "Does he ever get to be with his friends?"  I have to fight the urge to roll my eyes at each one.

Truthfully, my son is not an excessively social person.  He has friends he loves.  He enjoys going to his Bible study group with his age group, he loves going to tae kwon do.  He has a great time at co-op and at other functions with the homeschool group.   He is my kid who goes into a room full of people confidently, speaks to anyone (adult or child) and initiates conversation.  But he is not obsessed with 'hanging out' with his friends, texting all day/night, etc.  He enjoys spending time with friends...but then he is happy to come home and hang out with his family.

Yes...I admit, that is not how most middle school aged kids act.  But if he's happy, who am I to say he's wrong?   Part of my whole reason for homeschooling was that I wanted my kids to be themselves.  Not to feel that ones' self worth lies in what party you get invited to or how many kids call you 'friend'.  Not to fall into the 'group think' trap of feeling like you have to be like 'this' or act like 'that' or have 'those' to be worthy of belonging to a group of friends.

I'm proud to have a son who doesn't NEED fifty friends to feel good about himself.  He realizes he is pretty awesome no matter what.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Change of Scenery

I have been sick. *We* have been sick.  My house is in complete disorder. 

Weeks like this make homeschooling a very, very difficult thing.

I don't want to.  They don't want to.  And when we do get the get up and go to do it...finding what we need in the piles of stuff has been almost impossible.

Thank you, Co-op.  You taught my children about electricity, foreign language, basketball, sewing and drama.

Thank you, Library.  Your free homeschool class taught my children about the Egyptian gods and goddesses.  And we checked out some drawing books to learn how to draw animals and planes.

Thank you, Internetz.  You reinforced math skills and with my Usbourne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia, you reinforced concepts of conservation of momentum and velocity.

So I actually only had to teach language arts, Bible and math.

I hate not feeling like 'doing school'.  It makes me feel like a slouch and selfish that I am not forcing myself and my kids to 'push through' and do it anyway.  Yes, in the Real World, when they have a job, they will have to work when they don't feel like it.  Of course the arguement to that is the concept of sick days in the work place.  But I digress...

 I think they have learned so much more than information during this week.  They learned that they don't have to 'do school' to learn...they can go online and use games to learn.  That opportunities in the community educate them.  That they can select library books that interest them and that learning about something you enjoy is, well...enjoyable.  And the biggie...they learned that THEY are more than capable of teaching themselves at times by expressing an interest and gathering the materials needed to follow through.  LIFE alone is a constant learning experience. 

When you are actually participating in "Real LIFE" and not in a brick and mortar classroom for 7 hours a day..."Real LIFE" will teach you in multifaceted ways.  It teaches you to adapt to situations and to be flexible, because, as we all know, "Real LIFE" doesn't always begin at 8:30 with the Pledge of Allegiance and end at 3:30 with the ring of a bell. 

That all being said, of course I am still going to be 'doing school' when all is back in order.  But it sure is nice when 'Real LIFE' derails the Same-Old Same-Old Train and forces it to go down another track. 

It's a nice change of scenery.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Randomness of January

Here in the South, we may not get a White Christmas...but we get something even better.

75 degree days in January! Which, I might add, is very helpful when one is studying wheels and axles for science class and one needs to build a water wheel for school.

Which actually worked!  Not that you can tell from this photo.

So, what to blog about?  Not much has been going on here. 

We removed the old carpet from all of the bedrooms to prepare for the installation of the new carpet at the end of this week..which means all of the contents of all the bedrooms and the classroom are placed all throughout the house.  Which means we are living like hoarders right now, running through the little paths between the stuff. Ugh.  My feng shui has taken a beating.  And can I just say that, next to unclogging a hairball out of a drain, that pulling up old carpet is highly disgusting?

The kids and I have been sick with some sort of allergy-sinus infection-cough crud.  All I can say is yuck.  I'm sure all of the mystery dust from under the carpet played  a huge role in our condition. 

Good news though!  Yesterday was the first day back to co-op!  The kids really seemed to enjoy their classes, and I enjoyed helping out in an art class and my daughters sewing class. 

What about you all?  What's new in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Hope For the New Year

Found this poem and it made me think of the coming of the new year and all I hope it brings.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

"Ring Out, Wild Bells"

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quitting Can Be A 'Good' Thing

Daughter Dear has decided she wants to quit piano lessons.

At first I tried to resist.  "How about keeping it up for the rest of the year?" I pleaded.


She's burned out she says.  And I understand.

I am of the 'school' of "No one in this family is a quitter."  And as far as team sports are concerned, we are still in that school....because lets face it. Sports usually last for a few months and even if you hate it, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Piano can go on forever and ever, no end in sight.

As much as I hate to let her quit...I'm letting her quit. The more I think on it, one can learn a lot from quitting something.  What if you are in a job you hate?  Or a toxic relationship?  Quitting something requires inward thought and soul searching, evaluating priorities and coming to realizations that not everything should be 'forever'.  Everything has a season, so the Good Book says. 

So, despite her obvious musical talent, we are on a sabbatical from piano.  I'd rather her quit now and then, later on if she decides she misses it, go back.  I would really hate for her to grow to despise it.

And frankly...it works out in my favor to only have to carve out *one* hour of our school day for my Dear Son's lessons. 

Can anyone say "Win-Win Situation"?