Thursday, September 11, 2008

A different story...

I wrote about how well socialized my kids were, but I am a different story. When I was very young I was very much like Curly Q. Everyone was my friend, and I loved to spend time with people. Then I went to public school, and for various reasons I was not accepted fully by my peers. Maybe it was my ugly glasses, maybe it was my intelligence, maybe I was just too eager to be accepted. Whatever the reason I was a social outcast on and off throughout elementary school. By high school I had lost the glasses and gained some self confidence. I found my place in the hell that passes for society in high school. Within my circle (and maybe even outside my circle) I was fairly popular. In fact I LOVED high school. College was also fairly easy for me socially. I had a medium sized circle of friends and making new friends was not difficult for me.

So what happened? I have a very small circle of friends whom I love to spend time with, but outside of them and my family I often avoid social interaction. It just seems like so much work to begin a friendship which more often than not winds up to be not worth it. I'm not nervous about new people I am just too lazy to get to know them. There are only so many hours in the day, and I sometimes feel that I am spread too thin as it is. Still I know that I should invest more time in solidifying friendships with people especially in the homeschool community. The problem with that is that since people have such diverse reasons for homeschooling it's difficult to find what I am looking for. Maybe I am just way too picky...

Monday, September 8, 2008


One of the chief complaints people have about homeschooling is that the kids won't be properly socialized. I will admit that when I started homeschooling I worried about this too. Curly Q. is such a social person that I was sure she would need lots of interaction. Bear doesn't seem to need other people as much and that made me worry too. In the past year and a half I have learned to believe what I kept telling myself.

First, different people need different amounts of socializing, and that is ok. Just because Bear prefers to play alone sometimes doesn't mean that she is destined to become a sociopath described by her neighbors as a quiet young woman who kept to herself. Curly Q. isn't destined to become a playboy bunny because she craves constant attention.

Second, when it comes to socializing quality trumps quantity any day. At school kids have plenty of opportunities to socialize, but most of the time they have no good role models to turn to for these interactions. There ends up being a blind leading the blind situation.

Last, a school social group is terribly artificial. First they stick everyone who's birthday is within a 12 month period together. Then in some case they further group the kids by ability. This might be a good idea for teaching and learning, but not for socializing.

We are becoming more active in our local homeschool group, and these points seem so obvious when spending time with them. The kids move from one conversation to another (with all ages of other kids and grownups) with total ease. Some of the kids spend lots of time socializing; some kids are more frugal with their words. None of them appear to be ill at ease although it is a very new group. There may come a time when we decide homeschooling isn't the best choice for us, but I am sure it won't because of socialization.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Midnight Rendevous

I am tired again this morning. My husband will tell you it's my own fault (which it may well be, but don't tell him). You see my kids like to sneak into my bed in the middle of the night. I let them stay for a little while, then I walk them back down the hall to their own beds. Some nights we do this dance half a dozen times. My dear husband says that I should crack the whip, and they would stop. Once again, I know he's right, but the problem is that I like having them with me. I like that they need me in the night. I like that they are quiet and still and warm. In truth if we had a bigger bed I might not even do the walk down the hall over and over again. The day is coming when they won't want to snuggle up with me. The day is coming when I won't be able to provide the support they need. Some day I will have to fight the urge to climb into bed with them because I need the the reassurance only they will be able to provide. Until then I will enjoy the peace of snuggling a sleeping child in the midnight hour--even if it means a groggy morning.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My little critical thinker

The other day when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate I was watching it unfold on the news. Curly Q. was watching too, and she started asking questions about the election. "I thought the person with the most votes became president and the second most became vice president." That got us to talking about how the political parties present a team for us to elect. I also mentioned that this was a big election year because there has never been a minority in the White house as either president or vice president, and since both parties have a minority on their team it we are guaranteed that a minority will be one after this election. She immediately got a strange look on her face. She says, "That's why he did it! He wanted her to be on his team because people will vote for them just to get a woman in the White House!"

My six year old daughter can see through the republican tricks... Do you think we can expect the same from the general voting population?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 2

As it turns out Wednesdays will be long days this year. We start out the day at the dance studio and end the day at the dance studio with a long stretch of caring for Gramps in the middle. I think next week I will make sure not to schedule anything on Tuesday or Thursday after Bear's preschool.

As for dance it went well for both girls. Bear is in a small class with girls from last year. It was fun to see how much the girls have changed. They all seemed so much more serious. Last year they were all goofing around during class. This year they all focused for the whole hour class. It also helps that it is a smaller class.

Curly Q. takes classes 2 days per week. Wed. is her long day with 2 1/4 hours, and by the end of class it showed. All the girls were dragging by the end. Not that they weren't trying. Their glazed faces would alternate with looks of fierce determination. As if by sheer will they could fight off the exhaustion. Still Curly Q. said she had a lot of fun. I, on the other hand, was stuck in the lobby with biggest stage Mom of all. It was torture.

So what did we learn today class...
1. I was right to assume that Wed. will not be a school day
2. We need to pare down our fun lunches out with Mom because we are just to dang busy with "real" activities
3. I should only drink water while at the dance studio because carbonated beverages hurt when you gulp them to suppress laughter at the preposterousness (good word huh?) of aforementioned stage Mom

Not exactly the lessons I expected to learn when I got out of bed this morning.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm Back

We took a much needed break this summer. It included lots of swimming, playing outside, and of course since I have more than one child lots of bickering. I remember doing the same thing to my Mom every August. I kind of thought since we homeschool the August blahs would be lessened, but I suppose kids will be kids.

Today is the big day for everything. Bear has decided to go to a local preschool, so she starts today. I think it will be good for her to spend time in that type of social situation. She seems to be sufficiently anxious and excited. I am feeling back to school jitters for her too, but I am sure she will do fine.
Curly Q.and I will be starting our new homeschool stuff today also. I plan to do math, spelling and grammar today. We may be able to fit in some history too. Here's our curriculum list:
Shurley Grammar
Centre for innovation in Mathematics Teaching
year 2
Spelling Time
Story of the World book 2
R.E.A.L. Science: Earth and Space from Pandia press

Bear will continue to use Headsprout and will join us for some history and science activities. I am not sure how much time they are expected to focus during preschool so I am going to wait to see how much I can expect from her at home.

The girls will also continue their extra curriculars. Curly Q.will be dancing two times each week for 2 hours a day. Bear really wanted to take gymnastics so we enrolled her in that, thinking she would not take dance. Then one of her classmates from last year called and asked if she wanted to take a class with her. Beart wanted to, and I thought it was a nice idea for her to keep some friends from last year. Plus since we have sold our sold for Curly Q. to dance, Bear can dance almost for free. So as it turns out she has school or some other organized activity. We will see how it goes.

So that's the basic info on us. I plan to blog every day during the time I have set aside for Curly Q. to journal, so the radio silence should be done. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer Vacation

Without really planning to I sort of took a summer holiday from this blog. I spent most of June helping my parents get ready for their Independence Day party. It is a huge affair (with over 100 guests), and it went off without a hitch. There were more kids this time, and each of the girls seemed to find someone new to play with.

In other news, I have been desperately searching for a gymnastics program for Bear. She decided that she doesn't want to do dance next year. I think it has little to do with whether or not she likes dance, but since Curly Q. is dance crazy, Bear wants her own thing. I can understand that. Although, it would be far more convenient if she stayed in dance. The place the girls used to take gymnastics is difficult to get to because of a road construction project which is expected to take a year so I am trying to find another place. We tried our local park district, but it is a joke. Bear can do more gymnastics in my living room. Yesterday she went to a class at another gym, and so far I am not sure. I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

What If???

I have been MIA, but I wanted to participate in this month's Thinking Homeschooler wiki

The question is "What would you be doing right now, if you didn't have kids?"

This is a strange question for me because I knew that one way or the other I would be a Mommy. Even when we were having trouble conceiving I just figured, "Well,I guess we should look into adoption." So the idea of no kids, well, it is tricky.

I do have some aspirations that have been put on hold (if not put away altogether) because of my choice to be a parent. I always wanted to get my PhD, and if I didn't have kids I would probably have gotten it by now. Ideally I would have designed an alternative charter school and could say that I was making a difference in the way Chicago "does" education. Truthfully I would probably be teaching college level education or literature classes. I would enjoy in-depth conversations about things other than how to get peanut butter out of carpet. My husband and I would still be up to date on non-PG rated movies. I would have money to pay someone (other than Fantastic Sam's) to cut my hair because I wouldn't spend it all on dance lessons. My morning would involve gourmet coffee and ME time. My evening would involve wine and ME time. My weekends would involve more ME time.

Hmmm... On occasion I have complained that I would love more ME time, but life without kids involved way too much ME time. (Also far to few sloppy peanut butter kissess)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So it's been a week...

I really want to keep up with blogging, but it seems to get pushed down the priority list every time. Anyway, lots has been happening so here's the update.

I decided that we should do standardized testing every year for peace of mind. So we spent last week doing the Iowa Basic Skills Test. I gave Curly Q. the first grade test, and she got nearly every question right. I was surprised to see how well she has overcome her test taking anxiety. Bear took the preschool test, and she did well on most of it, but her minor speech issues really showed up in the language section. She has a tendency to substitute the "f" sound for other sounds (like "th" or s-blends). This was really obvious on the test.
I have always heard how biased these tests are and after administering them I have to say I totally agree. The vocabulary used (not just in the vocabulary section) could mess some kids up. For example in the math section they used the word "beneath" instead of under on the preschool test. I am guessing this will confuse some preschoolers. The biggest problem I had was with the social studies section on the first grade test. One question showed three pictures and asked which shows something most people can't/don't do for themselves. The pictures were a person painting a room, a person working on their car engine, and a person gardening. Depending on your socioeconomic status all of those could be done by someone else or all of them could be done my yourself. There were many questions like that.

It seems that dance has taken a front seat in our lives for the past few weeks (and will continue for at least next few weeks). We love our dance studio. It is owned by 2 young women, and I love to support small independently owned businesses. Plus Curly Q. is in love with dance right now. So even when we are not at class she is practicing.
At the beginning of May Curly Q. had auditions for dance company. The studio has several such companies divided by age and ability that compete and have additional performances. Curly Q. was asked last year, but I thought she was too young. She was asked for this year, and I thought she was too young (plus the rehearsals went past her bed time). She was asked for next year, and although I still think she is too young, she is so excited that I couldn't say no again. So she auditioned and she must have done well because we found out yesterday that she will be in the petite dance company which is the higher of 2 available for her age. She is thrilled, and I am happy for her. Still I am sure I will be writing tons more about the scary stage Moms I met at the audition. Luckily I think most of the really scary ones ended up in the other company.
This past weekend Bear's class got to go to a dance competition. It was quite an experience. We were there from 7:45 until 2:00. It made for a long day especially for a 4 year old, but she handled it really well. I was actually very worried that Bear wouldn't do very well. She NEVER practices. I mean she is 4 so that is fine, but I didn't want her not know anything when she got up there. I have seen her at class, and she didn't seem to know the dance. When she got on that stage something clicked though, and she was amazing. Not only did she know all the movements, but she put the right energy and attitude into them. Anyway, the group ended up getting a gold metal, highest in their division (they were the only 4 year olds tapping), and out of all the acts they were in the top three. She is excited because she got three ribbons, but she is disappointed that the studio gets to keep the trophy.

Ok so consider yourself updated. We are finishing history this week. Bear has started Headsprout. Curly Q. is plugging away at her math and reading (although we may just skip the rest of the reading program). As for this week we have 2 days at Mom's, a trip to the recycling plant, and my brother's family is coming into town. Hopefully I will do better about blogging. I'll try to blog after our field trip tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

This morning I was awakened early. The excitement of the day was just too much for my girls. I got morning snuggles and then was instructed to "Go back to sleep!" After they left I opened the windows wider and turned off the air cleaner. It is lightly raining, and I lay here listening for a while. As I did I thought about my life (something I rarely take the time to do), and, as I suspected, I have it pretty good. Even with the craziness that has been chasing me down lately I can't think of a better life for me. One of the best things in my life is being a Mom. I always wanted to be a Mom, but until I actually became one I had no idea why. So in honor of Mother's Day I want to list my favorite things about being a Mom right now.

1. Middle of the night snuggles. Even though I try desperately to keep the kids in their own beds one wanders in at least once a week. I love sleeping with my arms around them. Their warm little bodies snuggled up to me. I feel like I could actually hold on to them and keep them safe from everything.

2. Husband's admiration. Husband and I have always admired each other, but it feels so good to know he thinks I am a good parent. I work harder at this "job" than I have at any other, and I love that the person in it with me not only appreciates the effort, but admires it too.

3. Curly Q.'s creativity. Curly Q. could have easily become a very smart, but non-creative kid. I don't brag that often, but she is highly gifted. It took a lot of encouragement for her to understand the creative process (i.e. that there is no "right" way to be creative). Now she writes stories, draws, makes up dances and plays. I LOVE seeing her think outside the box.

4. Bear's stubbornness. I know many people don't think a stubborn child is a good thing. I love that Bear has her own mind. Parenting her is more difficult in some ways because I have to help her see the reasons for my values and rules. Still I have no worries that she will be led by the crowd.

5. Witnessing the learning process. I am a teacher by trade, and I have always enjoyed teaching, but homeschooling is amazing. It is so different from when I was a teacher. I don't feel responsible when the girls learn something. As a teacher I was always proud that my students were all reading by the end of kindergarten. Now I enjoy watching my girls revel in their own accomplishments.

Ok so there are many more, but I have just been informed that my breakfast in bed will be ready in a minute. So I will close now.

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Book Tag

Book tag! Here are the rules...

  • *Pick up the nearest book.
  • *Turn to page 123.
  • *Post the 5th sentence.
Deadliest of the Species by Michael Oliveri This book was written by a friend of mine, and it is a very good horror novel. Ok commercial over :-)

"He could not tell if he argued just for the sake of a fight or if he actually took offense to her views"

If this sounds like fun... Tag you're it!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

National Spank Out Day

Over at the Thinking Homeschooler the challenge is to write a post about National Spank Out day which happens to be today.

Once again I find myself in the minority. I am a person who feels that the occasional smack on the behind is effective. Both of my my children have received a few swats, and I believe when used judiciously they are a good part of a discipline toolbox. I stress that it is just one available tool. In fact I can't remember the last time either of my kids got physical punishment.

Here's an example of when a swat would have handled the situation. At the dance studio where my girls dance, there is a water dispenser. Every week it is a problem for one Mom. Her son (who is about 4) repeatedly goes to it and allows water to spill all over the floor. Every week I hear her say, "Now, E... we don't play with the water dispenser. Then she distracts him for a few minutes, but eventually he wanders back to it and the cycle is repeated. I guarantee that if that child knew that a spanking was even a remote possibility the Mom could say, "If you touch that water dispenser again you will get a swat," and the behavior would stop. Instead we hear the endless negotiation which still ends with a wet floor.

As I said, I know this position is not popular. Many people say that it inevitably leads to low self esteem or violent tendencies. As far as I am concerned that a load of crap. Yes, abuse (of any kind physical or emotional) leads to emotional problems. However, an occasional swat gets a child's attention and says I mean what I am saying. It should always be followed by a conversation to be sure the child understands where he or she went wrong, and I personally always end that conversation with the words "I love you" and a hug. Time will tell if I have created sociopaths with my discipline methods.

As a last note, this conversation always reminds me of the South Park episode on ADD.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Hunger Site

Don't forget that you can fight world hunger (and breast cancer and support rainforests, animal rescues, children's health organizations, and children's literacy) just by clicking around at this site. They also have a retail site where they sell fair trade items.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why isn't anyone talking about this???

Today being Earth Day has heralded more than the normal "green" conversation in the media. Now, truth be told, I am getting crunchier by the second. We gave up paper towels, got a recycling bin, stopped getting bags at the grocery store, etc. I think it is wonderful that being green is suddenly in vogue. All this interest in over consumption, such as "The Story of Stuff" is a great place to start, but...

Isn't the problem of overpopulation just as (if not more) important in this discussion. I haven't heard anyone say, "Maybe we should be teaching all these people living in poverty how to stop having babies." Our world is at its human being capacity. The proof is that we are depleting ALL the natural resources very quickly.

I would guess that many homeschoolers won't agree with me on this. In fact in my circle of friends (both homeschoolers and not) there are as many large families (3+ kids) as there are small families (1or 2 kids). Of course most people will agree that having more children than you can support is unwise. I think a case could be made that having more than 2 kids for a couple is irresponsible.

The question is, "When will all the movie star bring this point up?"


Check out the link for The Story of Stuff. It is a long video but it will affect you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Another update...

I wanted to write about why I have been MIA.
  1. My Gramps caught the girls bronchitis. This lead him to stay in bed for days. When you are 91 your legs lose mobility after being still for several hours let alone several days. He ended up falling and had to go to the hospital. They subjected him to every test known to man and determined that his body was 91 years old. Still, he is having trouble walking and getting up. So after carefully weighing our options (and much family drama which I won't go into) he will be attending a rehab center for between 1 and 3 weeks.
  2. Husband has been having trouble with one of his teeth on and off for months. Two weeks ago it got more persistent, and after enduring constant pain he finally decided that seeing a dentist might be wise. Of course there are the normal hoops to jump through when getting a medical procedure done. Finally yesterday afternoon he got it pulled. We are both glad that his pain is over!
So those two things have kept me busy. We have been doing school faithfully,and I will post an update on our Earth Day stuff another time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'll take that as a compliment... I guess...

Today we had a field trip to Jewel Foods. It wasn't really my kind of trip, but in the interest of participating in our fledgling homeschool group I decided to go. I am not sure there was a ton of learning that they don't already get when we grocery shop, but the kids enjoyed it.

Our tour guide was super nice, and as we visited each department she would introduce whoever was working there and then say, "This is a group of kids who are homeschooled. They came on a tour today." Most of the time the people just said, "Hi" or "How nice", but on two separate occasions a worker said, "You don't look like homeschoolers." The first time I though I heard wrong, but the Mom next to me repeated it. The second time I began to wonder if it was an April Fool's Day joke. I mean I know we left our prairie skirts at home, but... to actually say that takes balls. Of course I am the first to admit that I don't fit the stereotype. Anyway, it does verify that that this homeschool group is a good fit for me.

Monday, March 31, 2008

It never ends

Since the girls have been sick (and because we are trying really hard to be fiscally responsible) we have been staying home A LOT. Up until recently we left the house nearly every day. After our Disney trip in January we started only leaving the house for activities (and lunch once a week with Gramma). It was an adjustment, but we were getting pretty used to it. We still were out and about for an hour or two most days. Last week, however, we were at home almost exclusively. Since it was spring break all of our usual activities were cancelled, and we would have missed them anyway with the girls being sick.

All this leads me to my title... THE HOUSEWORK NEVER ENDS! I am actually a person who enjoys cleaning to a certain point. Well actually I enjoy a clean space and am willing to do what it takes to get it clean. The problem with this is that when you are home all the time things just keep getting dirty. I can't clean the house in the morning and think it will still be clean by afternoon. So I clean in the morning, I clean at rest time, and I am still rushing around at dinner time to clean. The biggest problem is that I haven't laid the law down with Bear. She makes messes everywhere, and then I have to choose to battle with her or clean them up myself. I know I should have the battle, but cleaning it up is easier. BAD MOMMY...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back from the dead

The girls have been VERY sick for the past week. They both had bronchitis which in Curly Q., I believe, was bordering on pneumonia. For most of the week they laid around and watched tv. We did sprinkle in some art projects and history, but for the most part school was on the back burner.

Yesterday they both seemed up to doing school. Curly Q. had a big "test" for reading. I know a lot of homeschoolers don't think tests are a good idea, but Curly Q. had such test taking anxiety that I knew she needed to be gently introduced to them sooner rather than later. Since her reading program is relatively easy it is a good place to build her confidence. She did really well. In fact she only got two wrong.

Bear finished her Study Dog program. She was so proud. I am still debating what to do with her now. I am thinking about using Headsprout. It worked really well for Curly Q., but Bear already feel slighted because I do more sit down work with Curly Q.. Since Headsprout is on the computer, Bear would be doing it on her own. Also, I was thinking about waiting to start it until fall. Until then we can continue expanding her sight words library with her word wall. She's just really excited and ready and I don't want to miss her window.

I have also been trying to figure what we will use next year. Bear is going to go to preschool (by her choice). So I don't have to try to make so many of our activities appropriate for her. She will still do some of our science and history stuff, but Curly Q. and I will have more time to do more intensive activities. So here's the list for now:

So we will use the history and science books as a spine for unit studies. If I don't use the L.A. program Curly Q. will need a creative writing program, and we will use graphic organizers to discuss books she chooses to read. So that's the plan. The good news is that it is uber cheap. That's good because we will be paying for preschool and dance class.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I am NOT a typical homeschooler

I know that it is a major faux pas to even acknowledge that there is a "typical" homeschooler. I am not suggesting that we're all alike, BUT it seems that the most vocal ones are similar in many ways. One way I must be different is that I see homeschooling as a responsibility as opposed to a right. People are freaking out that they are going to be required to register. In truth, since in my state there are no requirements I do not understand the negatives of it. Still I think that jumping through a hoop or two might be worth it. Especially if it keeps kooks from hiding their children from the world and calling it homeschooling.

It reminds me of when my brother went to the hospital as a child. He had had a bad fall (actually he had an epileptic seizure which led to the fall), and as soon as we checked him in at the emergency room they separated my Mom from both of us. Then they questioned my brother and I (to check for child abuse). At first my Mom was really mad at the accusation. Then she realized that she had nothing to hide and this policy was meant to protect children. I feel the same way about registering. I understand that some people say registering is the first step down a slippery slope. Still I think after what happened in CA with a family using homeschooling as a cover-up for child abuse I don't mind registering.

Of course you don't see me spouting this in a "typical" homeschool circle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Barack Obama

I admit it I am a big fan of Barack Obama. When I have heard him speak I get chills. He is more than a great orator. I believe he is the only candidate who will lead us in the right direction at this point.

So you can imagine how worried all this trouble with his pastor has made me. He tried to talk it out in his speech on Tuesday, but I am not sure it worked. For me the saddest part is that he needed to say anything. Why couldn't he just say, "Yes, Reverend Wright has some views that I vehemently disagree with. Yes, I still value him as an adviser on other issues. Please judge me on MY words and even more importantly MY deeds. As President I will disagree with my advisers on many different issues. When you elect a President you are expressing trust that he or she can choose whose opinions and ideas are best for the nation. Thanks You and Good Night."

Instead he seized the opportunity to wax poetic about the trial of African Americans. I believe and understand everything he said, but now was not the time for this. We NEED him to win, and defending the reasons for bigotry will not help you get elected. Well, at least he got people riled up and made the process interesting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I should be cleaning my house

Really, I should... I just am having trouble getting my mind focused. Maybe if I clean out my brain here, I will feel better...

1. Husband may or may not be getting a new job. It's really fine either way, but I hate waiting.

2. Another blog I read was talking about patience, and it really hit home.

3. I am considering adding my blog to the wiki for the evolved homeschooler but I am nervous for no good reason.

4. My Mom and I have been talking about consolidating households, and on paper it looks great. One of the major dilemmas is whether they should move here or we should move there. There are positives to both, but some of the negatives may be deal breakers in both cases.

5. Bear wants to go to preschool next year and I am not looking forward to dealing with the beauracracy again.

6. Curly Q. will be joining dance company next year, but I am worried about all the hidden costs for shoes, costumes, competition fees, etc.

7. I am considering offering mini-camps out of the house this summer, but my heart isn't really in it.

8. I need to get together resources for the homeschool earth day meeting next week.

9. There are more, but I am too distracted to continue this post...

Ok I will put some great music on the SONOS and get cleaning. My brain is usually as cluttered as my house, so wish me luck...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just Saw Horton

The movie overall was cute. They of course included the major lines from the book. My girls have been saying,"A person's a person no matter how small," since we left the theater. I liked Jim Carrey's Horton, and the ending was really funny (albeit extremely hokey). So that's the good part...

There is a one line dig at homeschooling that normally wouldn't bother me, but for some reason it did this time. The "bad guy" in the movie make the claim that she "pouch schools". Most of the time I find that kind of humor... well, humorous. In this case the reasons she "pouchschooled" were so against the reasons most people homeschool that it bugged me to throw that kind of stereotype out there. The character is an uptight control freak who is angry that Horton is encouraging the kids to "Use their imaginations." I don't begin to speak for the homeschooling community, but the people I know are excited that their kids are given more opportunities to use their imaginations at home than public school would provide. I realize that the religious zealots homeschool to keep their kids from learning about evolution, but even those kids are allowed more creative outlets than public school allows.

The second issue I take with the movie is that the main "bad guy" is a kangaroo who doesn't believe in anything you can't see, touch or hear. Sounds a bit like an atheist to me. Now obviously in real life some atheists are "good guys" and some are "bad guys". In this case the kangaroo was the one starting the trouble. So I guess that makes her a "bad guy" no matter what she believes. I guess I am a little touchy that the villain would be an atheist homeschoolers since that describes me.

Luckily neither of my daughters seemed to catch the pouchschooling=homeschooling thing. Taken at face value the movie was entertaining... Maybe I am just being overly sensitive about the rest.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Problem with a FREE Online Curriculum

A few weeks ago I decided to scrap Singapore math. Curly Q. needed a bit more direction than was given by Singapore's workbooks. The problem is that I could spend a fortune on a math program. As I was debating what to choose I stumbled upon a FREE program out of a British university. It has detailed lesson plans, printable worksheets and even printable resources. Best yet it goes up to 6th grade. I was thrilled and immediately started using it. Curly Q. took to it right away.

Then it went away...

The website went down last week and was out of commission for a whole week. It is up today, but I am not taking any chances. I saved the pdfs to my hard drive. Live and Learn.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Unitarian Universalist?

I was raised as a Christian, I guess. We didn't attend church very often, but my Mom did cite the Bible or Jesus occassionally in her lectures. When I became an adult and decided I should find a church I never even considered non-Christian ones. I attended the Catholic church associated with my college and I did enjoy it. However, I was never a true believer, and as time went on I became more and more agnostic.

So there's the background. Here's the current situation. I am a mother, and I am entrusted with teaching my children about religion. This has proved harder than you might think. If I was a Christian I could just regurgitate what the church tells me, and that would be that. Also, teaching morality is much easier with God. "Behave or God will throw you into eternal hellfire" is a GREAT threat. The problem is I don't believe it. So I am faced with a challenge. How do I raise moral kids with a basic understanding of what religion is without lying to them.

With such a daunting task I can understand why some people might turn to the Unitarian Universal (church). It's sort of like an anti-church. It is based on 7 principles
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
I LOVE all these ideas. I am teaching all these ideas to my kids. I think the world would be a better place if everyone followed these practices. BUT...

I am a skeptic and I don't think it is possible. The very base of religion is faith that your beliefs are "right". A church that says everyone has a good a shot at being right isn't a church.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

We got rythym

We have hit our stride. I was beginning to think we never would. Our days start out effortlessly now. The girls still get to enjoy a slow wake-up in front of the tv. I get to enjoy a slow wake-up with a cup or two of coffee. Then we have breakfast and discuss the day. I find that the girls behave better if they know what to expect. They even know what to do when I tell them to do their morning chores (and mostly they do them). Our school day begins when we're ready. This is a departure from my previous idea of school at 9:00, and it appears to work much better. As for actual schoolwork, I am thrilled. We have a schoolish reading/language arts program that is probably overkill, but Curly Q.'s spelling skills have improved so much it is worth the extra time. I have already waxed poetic about our new math program so I won't bore you again. Of course I still love our history and it is nice to be done with Egypt (finally). Even Bear has a great workbook that she is enjoying, and even more exciting is that she has suddenly developed an interest in writing. So as I prepare for another week I can just breathe a happy sigh that comes with finally feeling comfortable exactly where we are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another COLD day

Well, this winter has been the worst we have had in a long time. Between the cold and the snow we haven't been outside since we got back from Florida. If we hadn't gone there this year we would be really stir crazy. As it is I find myself dreaming of spring like a hibernating bear must. The good news is that we have developed a great rhythm for school. We are cruising right along in reading and history. Bear is doing about 20 minutes of sit down work each day, and the new math curriculum we found (the free one) is a keeper so far.

Now I am trying to put together field trip ideas for the homeschool group. I also designed a poster to hang at the library welcoming people to join our group. I wanted to be sure that new members understand how important it is that we are a secular group. Still I wrestled with how to word it. "Religious nut-jobs need not apply," seemed a bit hypocritical since I billed us as inclusive. I settled on , "Are you looking for an inclusive group where you won't be asked about your religious affiliation." Only time will tell if this attracts the people we are hoping for.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Where to start...

I hate it when I have tons of ideas. I know that sounds strange, but when there are too many things I want to do, sometimes I just shut down and can't do anything. I felt that way last week. The good news is that as soon as I start doing anything I get back on track. So today I found a new math program and put together a basic lesson plan outline through the end of March. My other two big projects are: to decide if I am going to offer mini-camps this summer (and plan them), and invest myself in getting the homeschool group off the ground. So which to do first... I'll let you know when I decide. Until then I need to work on the newsletter for MOMs club. It'll be a busy week.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Recharged Batteries

I am not a stay at home kind of girl, so it may be a surprise how much I enjoyed this weekend since we were home all day Sunday. It turned out to be a great balance of activity and rest.

On Saturday the girls had a party at the library to end the winter reading program. They showed High School Musical and it was so much fun to see a large group of kids singing along and really feeling every word. After the party my Mom watched the girls so Husband and I could go out to lunch. We went to a nice "grown-up" restaurant where I didn't have to cut up anyone's food. The best part was just being with my husband. While we were out we bought Dance Dance Revolution for the xbox. Husband wanted to give it to the girls for Valentine's Day.

On Sunday (after pancakes) he gave it to them. We spent the next few hours playing it. The free style section is perfect for the girls, and Husband and I really enjoyed trying to keep up with the dance steps. The rest of the day was just relaxing. Husband made a point of doing something special with each of us. We watched Curious George as a family, and ended with a nice dinner.

So all in all I think it was what our family needed. Even though we're together all the time I think some times we don't see each other. I know that I am starting out the week with recharged batteries (despite the winter storm warning and and frozen pipes that greeted me this morning.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Child Can READ...

Catchy title, right? It's too bad that it doesn't tell you anything. I remember telling people that Curly Q. could read when she was 4. I was telling the truth, but now I see that it was a bit of a lie anyway. Some people describe learning to read as a light being turned on. I think a dimmer switch being slowly(sometimes very slowly) turned up. I think as parents we are so excited to say that our little genius can read that we take her being able to decode a three letter word as proof that she is reading. They are reading, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Curly Q. has finally reached a level of fluency, but she will continue to improve in her tracking skills. So what do I say as Bear begins to sound out simple words? Of course I will say,"My daughter can read!"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday

Yesterday was super Tuesday. Of course I went to vote because I believe if you don't vote you can't complain about the government. I took Curly Q. with to explain the democratic process. I have to say that child "shows" so well. She honestly makes homeschooling look great. As they were checking is she explained why we were voting yes on the school referendum, but no on the park district referendum. She was more articulate than most adults I have heard discuss it.

Of course both the referendums failed AGAIN. Actually almost every referendum in our county failed. I feel really bad about the high school one because the school is terribly overcrowded. The reason it keeps failing is that people can't agree on the boundries for the new school. Everyone wants their kids to go to the NEW school. Of course the old school was completely rebuilt less than 10 years ago, and it is amazing. Still everyone wants to fight over the dividing lines. It drives me CRAZY. My kids may never even go to public high school, and I can see that it is needed.

As for the primary, I am happy to see that Obama is doing well. I have nothing against Hillary, but I don't think that a woman trying to negotiate in the middle east is in our country's best interest. The republicans all frighten me, but I am surprised to see how many people actually vote for Huckabee. Do they really know what he stands for?

I know this post have been a bit off topic, but I'll get back to business in my next post (and I'll make it soon.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is it Fair?

Thought for the day...

I just read an article about a motor company in India that created the world's cheapest car. It is going to retail for the equivalent of $2500. Many environmentalists are worried that this will lead to India creating considerably more carbon emissions. This car will get 50 mpg which is better than nearly every car in the U.S., but even if it didn't get such good gas mileage I am not sure we can be judgmental. Our middle class was allowed to grow based on many things that were not good for the environment. Now that India is at the same place can we blame them for wanting to do it the same way? It begs the question. Do we have the right to expect developing nations to learn from our experience even if it slows their progress?