Sunday, September 25, 2011

Switching Things Up a Little

Well, we're still here. I don't want to just post a litany of things we do every day, especially when things are so slow, but we're meandering along.

My schedule has still been a challenge. I have managed to increase my work hours over the past couple of months, which is a good thing in terms of income. However, it's made school scheduling a little more of a challenge, especially when you toss in field trips and so on.

Today, my husband agreed to take over the History & English part of my son's 5th grade curriculum. That is a real load off my shoulders. Not only does it give me a lot less to do (History & English in this curriculum also encompasses geography and arts & crafts), but it leaves the fun stuff for me: programming, science, math, and cooking. Guess I'm not that big of a history buff, although I do like writing :)

I'm still enjoying using the Homeschool Tracker Software, although I'm adding Cozi in this week to schedule actual (but flexible) times when "school" will take place. I remembered to add things like ballet, gymnastics, and karate to the list, too, as phys ed is part of learning, even if I'm not the one doing the teaching.

I'm also going off the grid and teaching a lesson or two on fire, at my son's request. As I might have mentioned, a big part of the reason I wanted a curriculum this year instead of strict unschooling was because it is making me "pencil in" time to spend with the kids that has some real interaction and meaning. If he had suggested doing anything together other than playing video games before, we might not be here, but it's been a long time since he really had. Anyhow, we got some really cool, hands on (or "hands off") ideas from an engineer friend, and it should be a blast ;) We're also working more on programming and cooking beef stroganoff!

With the kindergarten curriculum, we're still finishing up Lesson 2, talking a lot about B's and butterflies. This week promises to be fun with a "nature treasure hunt," crafts, singing, and painting. Hopefully, I'll have photos to share by the end of the week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One: A Meme Post

I was tagged by Steph over at Confessions of an Erratic Homeschooling Mom for this one. Tag me back if you continue it. I'd love to read your posts.

1. One homeschooling book you have enjoyed: Homeschooling: The Early Years by Linda Dobson. This gave me a great start and talked about the different philosophies and encouraged us to go our own way.

2. One resource you wouldn't be without: The Internet :)

3. One resource you wish you had never bought: Science kits from The Young Scientist Club. I really need to not buy things like this unless I have plans to use them immediately. My oldest at least generally doesn't have the motivation to get them out and use them on his own, not when the computer is sitting right there. We have remaining a stack of about 20 of these kits (it was a monthly subscription) that we have yet to use, and it was a bit difficult to cancel once I decided to end it. Maybe someday we'll get to all of them...

4. One resource you enjoyed last year: Gleamer at Raw Learning for planning so many great field trips.

5. One resource you will be using next year: I'm adding "New" to this since we'll still be doing field trips with Raw Learning. This year we're adding curricula from Oak Meadow. I'm looking forward to continuing to explore and learn with it with the kids.

6. One resource you would like to buy: Oh, I can't just stick to one here, but some of the things on my wish list for homeschooling are a butterfly garden, Horrible Histories, and The Waldorf Book of Poetry.

7. One resource you wish existed: A group of secular homeschoolers in my small hometown. I've been able to hook up with homeschooling parents of younger kids (my daughters' ages) here in town (although not too many secular ones), but we have had to drive to meet up with kids any older, enough so that I often wish we moved closer to them, even though I like my town for the most part.

8. One homeschool catalog you enjoy reading: Rainbow Resource Catalog. Are there any others? Honestly, if there are, I don't get them. The one marketing thing I could use, and I somehow missed the mailing list.

9. One homeschool website you use regularly: Facebook and Google probably give me all the information I need. I really don't use any one regularly, although I might be visiting the Oak Meadow web site more as the school year rolls on. Now, e-mail lists, I have plenty of those!

10. Tag six other homeschoolers: I'm still exploring the homeschool blogosphere, so I'll be sure to tag some friends as a note in this post  as a note on Facebook :)

The Homeschool Mother's Journal 2

The Homeschool Mother's Journal is a linkup via
Whoo boy, what a busy couple of weeks. I'm glad for these writing prompts to give me a starting place and a good prompt to write a blog post.
In my life this week…

We have been superbusy the last couple of weeks (I didn't post last week) with a trip out of town, neurofeedback appointments for DS, trying to schedule and fit in a little school, ballet starting up, karate continuing for DS, our first field trip of fall, work, and just life. You know you're busy/overwhelmed when you have to look back at your calendar just to see what you did the past few days ;)
In our homeschool this week…

We didn't do a whole lot of "lesson time." I did do circle time with the girls and start on the letter B with them on Monday, and DS did his second math lesson, but we did more eclectic type stuff. First, my girls, 3 and 4, started ballet on Monday for the fall. DD4 (almost 5) has been with this teacher the past 2 years. I considered moving her up to the next class, but she is kind of attached to her teacher, and I thought it would also help her younger sister (who has a short attention span) transition if they were in the same class. We also had a field trip, right here in our own town at The Art Warehouse, completely devoted to art. We did pottery with the Pottery Lady and explored colors with paint and other materials with Nancy from S&N School of Music & Art (I'll try to post pictures when the pottery is finished).

There was something for all three of my kids, and they also got to visit with friends, as the trip was organized through Raw Learning, a regional free school. I was amazed at how interested my youngest was in all of the artwork in the gallery, especially the sculptures and a little house and yard made entirely of sticks and twigs and other natural things. 
My favorite thing this week was…

Getting paid! LOL. I've been working consistently as a freelancer, but as things are bound to go sometimes, the checks don't always arrive on a consistent basis. We were kind of in a rough spot anyway, and then, it was almost 6 weeks without a check. I was very happy to receive 5 checks all at once this week. It will be helpful for both home and homeschool. DS and I can finally get to work on that Pan Bagna recipe this week!
What’s working/not working for us…

Organizing our schedule is still a work in progress. As my friend Steph over at Confessions of an Erratic Homeschooling Mom expressed in a recent post, every time I try to get "school" started, life gets in the way. But that's okay. I believe that life as plenty to teach me and my children as well. It's no less valuable than school time.
Things I’m working on…

How about things I'd like to work on if only I could squeeze out the time? Learn more about wirework jewelry, do more drawing and photography, play more Diablo II with my son. I do actually need to organize my kids' birthday party (my two older ones are having a combo party) and buy presents for my son, who celebrating 11 years in early October. I'm also researching the idea of hiring a mother's helper (perhaps a homeschooling teen) that could help me out on field trips with the kids. I have a foot issue (plantar fasciitis) that makes long periods on my feet extremely difficult.
I’m reading…

The Freedom Writers' Diary by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers. Wow. I was inspired to read this book after watching the movie, and I'm being well rewarded.
I’m cooking…

We made No-Bake Energy Bites for a playdate this week. They were a hit, both at home and the playdate. Easy, healthy, and superyummy.
I’m grateful for…

My family, both immediate and extended. My mother turned 70 this week, and I'm so glad that she's a part of my life, even though she lives 700 miles away now. She's an awesome lady.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

My favorite photo this week: my youngest, asleep in her favorite place, the dining room table.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal 1

This is my first go at an entry for The Homeschool Mother's Journal, a linkup through www.TheHomeschoolChick.combut I'd thought I'd give it a try. It seems like a great way to stay connected with other mothers on the homeschooling journey.

In my life this week…

It's been busy, getting started with our new curriculum (Oak Meadow with some modifications) and running around a lot, to appointments and even a Mom's Night Out, followed by lots of work. Sometimes, it feels like I never stop going. My Aspie continues to present challenges, of the good and not-so-good kind, but I try to take it one day at a time.
In our homeschool this week…

We jumped in on Tuesday and did some work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday was full of driving and appointments and work, so that was kind of an off day, although I did do circle time with my younger ones before I left and gave dad a project to do with them while my son and I were gone (making "bodies" out of modeling clay). I am not holding much hope for next week as it's a short week followed by a trip out of town for the weekend.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

I've started using the basic/free version of Homeschool Tracker software. I was using some online software, but it was getting rather cumbersome. Although it would be ideal to have almost everything put in ahead of time, I can put in assignments after they're done, which is helpful, and it also has a handy "daily journal" section that I can use for short notes. I can also post a copy of my blog (sans pictures) there. I'm not sure yet what the full version entails, but the basic version is pretty handy on its own.
I am inspired by…

Why can't I think of anything/anyone? Guess I'm not feeling that inspired lately. I am just really focused on getting by and finding something that works on a more long-term basis for our family. I guess I admire those that have found the balance, or at least some semblance of it.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

My oldest goes to karate twice a week. Other than that and doctors/therapist appointments, we haven't been "going" that much this summer, partially because of work and also for me to heal my plantar fasciitis up somewhat. However, next week, a two-hour drive to Boxerwood Gardens in Lexington, Virginia, is on the calendar, as well as a drive to New Jersey to visit my in-laws, where I will be taking my oldest to Six Flags Great Adventure. He has recently developed a real interest in roller coasters. Now, if only my nerves can take them!
My favorite thing this week was…

Gathering leaves and flowers with the kids to press and Mom's Night Out. Nothing like an evening out with the girls to perk you up. :)
What’s working/not working for us…

Cooking breakfasts ahead of time lately (pancakes and/or egg casseroles) has really helped get my mornings off a little faster so that I can get my "me" time (to work out and shower) and still get homeschooling done before work in the afternoon.

The scheduling is still a challenge, though, and I continue to wish that I could afford and have a trusted child care provider for just a little time each week so that my life had a few breaks and wasn't just a schedule of work-sleep-kids-work-sleep kids. The pockets of "family time" or just "relax time" have to be stolen from one of those items, and it never works out well.
I’m reading…

Just finished some of my happy fluff reading (Nora Roberts, Happy Ever After) and am reading the current edition of Voice (the magazine of VaHomeschoolers), in which I have an article, and Freezer Pleasers, which I picked up at the Green Valley Book Fair.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

My son and I really enjoyed this video of the rarely seen African Golden Cat, not much bigger than a house cat:

National Geographic: African Golden Cat