Friday, October 21, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 4

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
The Homeschool Mother's Journal is a linkup via

In my life this week…
We have been busy planning the combo birthday party for the just-turned 11 yo and the about-to-turn 5 yo at the local jumping/bouncing arena. It should be tons of fun, but I'll be glad when the planning is done!

I also sent in a resume to my old "alma mater" (someone I used to work for full time) to apply for some new freelance work. I have plenty, but I like to have diversity and also having more than once source of income unless something falls through. I hope they call me for some work soon.

My newish camera also went kaput. Fortunately, Amazon took it back and gave us a refund without any fuss. Now, I just have to decide what to replace it with. DS is being nice and letting me use his little point and shoot when I need it.

In related news, I need someone else to be in charge of my finances. Although I consider myself a smart person, in money management, if I were in school, I'd get an F minus. The stress I cause myself is just too much.
In our homeschool this week…
It was kind of a catch-up week, so that we could finish some projects we didn't get to last week.

DS11 worked on dividing decimals by whole numbers and also built a wetland to study the benefits of wetlands on the environment and pollution.

DS11's wetland model with sand, carpet (to serve as "absorbent" wetland grasses), clay creatures and tree, and some real leaves and twigs.
The girls learned "Hickory Dickory Dock" this week. We also did a supershort nature walk (it was colder than we expected!), made leaf stencils, and made letters and numbers out of air-dry clay.

DS4's leaf prints. The one with the the yellow and red outline was the leaf. Otherwise, she was just having fun exploring with sponge painting.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We took a field trip to watch Bradley Fields in MatheMagic!, a combination magic show/educational program. It was really geared toward 5th and 6th graders. My 3 and 4 year old found some things interesting (like him finding coins everywhere, including in people's armpits!), but they were a bit antsy. My 11 yo enjoyed it more because he knew the math and enjoyed the magic.
My favorite thing this week was…

My plantar fasciitis is doing better (mostly due to wearing crocs or thick-soled flip flops all day, even in the house). The field trip to the theater, despite some standing on hard surfaces and doing some walking, did not make my feet sore! That's the first time in a long time. They still have some healing to do, but they are on the way!
What’s working/not working for us…

See yesterday's post!
Things I’m working on…

In my few moments of spare time, I've been playing with wirework jewelry making. I'd like to be able to make rings, but my spirals really need work. I can't seem to get them even. However, I made a cute copper music note zipper pull for my purse and a cute pair of earrings that I'll probably end up giving away since I don't usually wear them ;)
I’m reading…
Amazingly enough, nothing! I have been too busy to start anything, although I have a big pile of to-read books on both paper and Kindle.

I’m cooking…

I made some peanut butter muffins from Paula Deen's Cookbook for the Lunch Box Set for a playdate that turned out pretty yummy. I need to make ahead more of this type of thing so we're eating breakfast out of a box less often. As soon as I get some more time...
I’m grateful for…

My family. I'd be nothing without them. Honestly.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

I found this on Knowledge House totally describes my life.

"Real Homeschool Mothers don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Teetering Again

As is true for many of us, I suppose, I find my life to be a constant search for balance or at least a semblance of it.

Homeschooling is no different. It seems we're always at a spot where there is "too much" of one thing and "not enough" of another. Introspectively, it seems that I am not very comfortable jumping entirely onto one end of the see-saw either. Perhaps it was the wildly swinging pendulum of my childhood that made me this way, but in any case, I often walk the line as close to the middle as I can.

This year, I started using a curriculum diligently for the first time. It's not the first time I've ever tried to direct my kids more, just the first time I did it on a daily basis. I don't regret it, but I do have my moments of frustration, as do the kids.

After about six weeks of working with this, I feel like ruminating over what is working and not working or just what is delightful and what is challenging:


  • I love sitting down with the girls and doing art together, even though they very rarely try for too long to do the actual project. They've already had a taste of free learning are highly motivated to go their own way. My approach has been mostly to have the elder daughter (almost 5) pause for a minute or so, give the lesson a try, show her how it can be done, and then let her go, whether that leads her to following the project or letting her mind roam. It's usually the latter, and that's fine. Actually, it's good. I want my kids to be able to follow directions, but that is far from all I want for them. The youngest (3) is such a free spirit. I hope she does develop some discipline some day but not at the expense of her creativity ;)
  • On the same note, I love cooking with my son and seeing what he comes up with in computer programming. These are the two activities he enjoys most, especially the cooking, and I am going to see if there is a way we can do more of it. Unfortunately, my time is so limited; it already feels as though I am squeezed dry like a sponge every day, to make every minute count.
  • With fewer days on the run, I love to hear the kids get together to work on something or play together, especially the elder two (11 and almost 5). This is getting more common, and I love it. They used to fight constantly, or the older would pick, pick, pick on the younger. I believe that it is more related to some therapy than time at home (my eldest is my Aspie), but it's still wonderful that they have time to appreciate and enjoy each other. I have found myself delaying lesson time so that they can have their time together and not be interrupted because there is "stuff to do."
  • Time, time, time. How am I ever supposed to get everything done and not feel so short on time??? Even when we were unschooling, I felt this way. 
  • Getting the kids to give new things and themselves a chance can be pretty difficult. It doesn't help that DH and I don't always see eye to eye on this. I'm usually willing to back off a bit and wait if the kids are really staunchly against something, but my husband states, "If you just keep making them do it, they get used to it, and it's no problem any more." And sometimes he's right. (Not that he would ever admit that he was wrong ;)). I'm grateful for the way he's been working with the kids to clean up after themselves more. Even the 3-year-old participates some now without much whining. Some may say wait until they're ready on their own, but for some of us, a messy house is so much more stressful, and if the kids don't help, you end up cleaning it up all yourself, being resentful, and not having any time to play with them. If they help out, there is more time for everyone, and things can be more relaxed and happy. Yes, there can be some initial resistance, but it seems to have been worth it in this case. Family harmony has been improved.
Well, this week has kind of been a catch-up week as I finish planning up a combo birthday party for the older two kids, and next week, we're taking a Fall Break on classwork. The week is starting out with an overnight field trip to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Durbin Rocket train with Raw Learning. It should be enlightening and fun, but I'll be playing catch-up again when we return.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


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It's been a busy week, as usual, but we've been extra creative, I feel. First, here is a easy tie-on scarf dress that DD1 wore for a while. The second scarf was bigger than the first, so I kind of had to improvise, but I think it looked cute. Great, easy dress up idea. I got the idea from a pin on Pinterest.

Our second creation, which we just whipped up this morning was a pillow, idea by DS. The kids are all fascinated by the box of fiberfill that I keep under my sewing table, and DS suggested that we make a pillow out of one of his old shirts that is too small. I'm often reluctant, as he often comes up with hard to pull off ideas, but I said, "Sure, let's try it." So, I sewed most of the holes with the sewing machine, with all three kids looking on (11, 4, and 3) in fascination, and they stuffed the shirt before I sewed up the last sleeve. It was quick and easy, and it was great to see everyone working together. Next time, I'll see if one of them wants to try the sewing part :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 3

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
The Homeschool Mother's Journal is a linkup via
In my life this week…
We kept busy as usual, this week, although I'm always busier than everyone else, it seems, since not all of our activities involve all of our children. My husband does his fair share, too! We skipped a field trip because my plantar fasciitis was really acting up. I went to the podiatrist Thursday for a shot and am vowing to keep up with all the things that I am supposed to do to help it heal. I really hate not being able to walk. I let this go on too long before the initial treatment, and now, I'm afraid I psychologically associate so many activities with pain (walking, the grocery store, basically anything that involves standing around or walking for more than a few minutes). It's something that I'll have to deal with for sure.

In our homeschool this week…
My husband officially started the Oak Meadow 5 History and English curriculum with DS (10) this week. As I sort of expected, there was much gnashing of teeth, after which lessons were done. I am hoping this smoothes itself out soon. They are both much too independent (and maybe just a bit stubborn ;)) to do what the other wants, and it can be stressful on those of us who just want everyone to get along!

My favorite thing this week was…
Okay, three favorite things: (1) seeing DS take a real interest in Scratch and start to do some work with it independently, (2) milk painting together, an idea that I got from the web and pinned on Pinterest (see below for picture), and (3) taking DS out to the Japanese steakhouse to eat at the Hibachi and celebrate his 11th birthday a little early.

What’s working/not working for us…
Not working: My feet, obviously. :) Also, my four-year-old seems to be having some self-confidence issues, at least when it comes to guided art. Whenever we try to draw a certain picture, she seems to think that if it doesn't look like mine or even a simple line drawing, it's not good enouogh, and she wants me to "help" (aka draw it for her). I try to be encouraging but so far, no dice. I'm seeking advice and may just stick to free drawing or even "why don't we draw a picture that reminds us of what we read about." With free drawing, she's happy and imaginative. I'm not sure why she compares herself to me or others so much, as I have tried not to do that. Maybe just natural human behavior. One step at a time, I guess.

Things I’m working on…
There is not much time beyond work, but I just bought UDraw game tablet for the Wii, and I hope to play around with it a little this week. DS's birthday is Monday, so it's gonna be a busy one!
I’m reading…

I haven't started anything new yet, but I just finished reading Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden book 1) by Charlaine Harris. It was my first e-book checkout from the library. I have a ton of both paper and e-books in my stack to read, so I'm sure I'll find something new.

I’m cooking…
Plenty this week! DS and I cooked American apple pie for World Cooking. The girls and I made homemade whole grain crescent rolls during school time. The girls also helped me with some baked apples, which I burned by leaving them in the crock pot too long (who knew you could do that?).

I’m grateful for…
A couple of weeks where we've gotten most of our lessons done (thanks to handing over history and English to DH) so that I can at least see how Oak Meadow really works for our kids and how we work together. I already know I need to schedule in a little more free time (for myself as much as anyone), even if it means other busier days.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

One of our milk painting examples. They changed constantly. You get the most color when you put all the drops of color in that you want before you stick in the soap-covered toothpick.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fire and Fun!

On our unschoolish, eclectic side, we did some experiments with fire last week at the request of DS (10). DDs (3 and 4) looked on in awe. It was a lot of fun, but I talked a lot about safety, too. DS picked out almost all of the materials we tested. Hat tip to our friend Joe at Raw Learning, who gave us some wonderful ideas, including the very basic one that the best way to learn about fire was to light things and see what happens. Here is a photolog of our experiment.



DS recording results such as how fast each item ignited, the color of the flame, and what kind of material  remained


Hand sanitizer: It is burning, but the flame was basically colorless.

Adding salt to the sanitizer revealed the flame.

Dried leaves.

Copy paper.

Copy paper remains.


Fresh leaves.

Cardboard. We added tongs to create more surface area
(and thus more access to oxygen) on the items.

DS takes a turn at holding the tongs.


Newspaper remains.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tired and Frustrated

Oh, here we are. I knew it would come; I wasn't sure exactly when. The "I don't want to do any school" day. The "why do I have to do X" day. The day when DH comes in and steps all over my figurative toes and then gets defensive when I'm upset about it. The everyone is just in a tither day. The "I can't" day.

Today, I am just going to try to get through it without any (more) yelling, and take tomorrow as another, fresh day. It was actually okay for most of the day, so I shouldn't complain.

Maybe tomorrow I'll write a post about our exciting fire experiments from last week, or how I've actually been sticking to our schedule for the most part and getting things done.

See you then on a better, brighter day.