Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Costumes

We spent a bit of time yesterday working on finishing touches for costumes.(counting it as art of course.) I had purchased a renaissance costume for $1 at a garage sale during the summer. It just needed jewelry and a hat. We looked up what a hat should look like (not sure why they had those weird fabric strips on the sides in renaissance days but...) The teen made the hat using the sewing machine, probably the only purple fabric I own and some gold ribbon. I think it's cute! I worked on a necklace, and the little one made a ring to match.

The teen's costume is harder to explain. lol She was deciding between going as a green M&M or going as something she calls a 'Raver'. The dictionary defines it as 'a participant in a rave dancing party.' I remember DH attending a Rave party down in Hollywood when I was 7 months pregnant with the teen. He went with a military buddy and I think I stayed up all night worrying about them being down in Hollywood. Wondering what trouble they might get into! lol So it must be her father's fault that she is now a 'raver'.

P.S. I don't know what is up with the teen's pose. She's a dork. lol I'll take more pics tonight when its spooky and dark out and the teen has her glowsticks on.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tableau Thursday

Tableau: A still image, a frozen moment or "a photograph."

This week's pics are all about Halloween. We decorated/carved our pumpkins and Clemie the pup has a costume for her first Halloween! She's a punkin! Yes, we spoil our animals.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Goodness!

I'm a pushover. Both my kids (ages 16 & 9) stood in the middle of Michaels and whined in 2 year old voices when they saw this:

And I caved. After I told them I don't listen to baby whining of course. They asked nicely, it was on sale $3 off, so I gave in. It's the season, what can I say? We've already called the parts we get to eat when Halloween is over. I was smart. I went with the roof and all that frosting. Yay me.

The kids enjoyed creating together although the teen has a thing about it being a 'certain' way. I told them to play nice or I would take over and make it myself. I will say I was a bit disappointed in the kit and how much it skimped. There were only 5 gumdrops. 5! What kind of nonsense is that? None for me to eat while they create! That's probably why it was on sale, there was a gumdrop shortage. lol

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tableau Thursday

Tableau: A still image, a frozen moment or "a photograph."

1. Dog receiving a bath, whether she wants it or not.
2. Teen is building a house of cardboard so little dd wanted to make one too.
3. DD working on her time table wrap-ups.
4. Interloper found under my art table shoved into the box. (notice how its bulging? She's fat!)
5. The teen working diligently on her English, wearing the same shirt she seems to have on everytime I take her picture.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homeschool Art Projects

Awhile back we had an Art Friday where we made jewelry. The kids had the best time using game pieces, the Dremel tool, E-6000 glue, jewels and so much more. I had a bit of fun too! (You'll notice 'some' of us didn't get out of our pajamas at all that day. I live homeschooling! lol)

The circles you see are soon-to-be rings I made for a get together with my family. We had a 'Ladies Poker Night' with mom, teen, me and my 2 sister in laws, although we played Spades instead! lol The rings weren't ready in time (we played Oct. 4th) so I plan to have them ready by the next round of Spades.

We've had homeschool co-op for the last 5 Fridays. The last class is this Friday so I'm hoping to resume 'Art Fridays' next week. Wonder what we should work on next?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tableau Thursday

Tableau: A still image, a frozen moment or "a photograph."

Today's break time activities.
1 - Learning 'Do-Re-Me'
2 - Playing Sandwich w/dog
3 - Tired out pooch

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Textbooks & Unschooling

(Pictures taken and stylishly overexposed by the teen.)

It's been a busy couple of weeks. School is going swimmingly. Well... we're treading water. The children are doing well, moving along in their work, textbooks and projects. I'm the only one balking apparently.

I hate textbooks. Okay, personally I love textbooks. All the work lined up in rows, indexes, step by steps. That's how my linear learning brain works. But my kids' eyes glaze over when we pull them out and my little one says I don't make school 'fun' anymore. I don't know how to get past the 'need' for textbooks and go more into an unschooling learning environment. At least for the little one. The teen might revolt if I took her out of her safe little textbook world. She, like me, craves order and the textbooks make her feel like she's learning something (even though they bore her) as opposed to 'willy-nilly' learning as she calls unschooling, which would make her feel scattered.

I'm not sure if an unschooled school style is for us though. I think we need more of a semi-unschooling going on. Somehow I'd sneak in math and such. Otherwise, my little one would spend her days playing with legos & playmobil, sewing, digging in the dirt and catching bees.

** banging head against the table. **

I am really feeling that feeling of ruining my kids lives 'forever'. I want homeschool to equal fun or at least a good learning environment to them. I don't want them to someday say with rolled eyes and clinched teeth, 'my mom homeschooled us.' I would feel like I had wasted their precious formative years in an endless stream of boredom. Don't know what to do though.

I need to find a good balance. I need to make time for the balancing. Suggestions welcomed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Monday 'Not' So Good To Me

Today is a typical Monday for us. I don't know what we do on weekends that flattens us out like pancakes under a semi, but on Mondays we're toast. Sundays we usually head to church for 2 hours and then a leisurely afternoon at the grandparents house, eating, reading, sometimes swimming. After that we have every intention of coming home, straightening the house so its ready for Monday's school start but instead we usually laze around in our respective areas reading, watching Food Network, cartoons or on the internet. It's down time for us. So I don't see why we're always so worn out on Mondays.

Today the girls both don't feel well and I'm propping my eyelids up with toothpicks. Didn't sleep well myself. Today we're forgoing traditional school and calling it a snow, I mean slow-day. Everyone has a book to read and either tea, hot chocolate or spiced cider to drink.

Reading material of the day:

9 yr old
The Boxcar Children
-- Little House in the Big Woods
-- Spiderwick Sprites
-- Elephants Don't Do Ballet
-- various other library books

Autobiography of Frank Lloyd Wright
-- Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens
-- (I'm sure she'll slip in a little reading of the new 1" thick
Vogue she borrowed to read.)

Artful Blogging
-- A Charlotte Mason Education
-- The Altered Book Scrapbook
-- Bent, Bound & Stitched
-- Alphabetica
-- The Shop on Blossom Street

I try not to feel the overwhelming urge to force children to do regular school (like spelling test, math homeschool, etc.) However, we have so much going on this week (Drs. appt, Homeschool Co-Op starts Friday, french Tutoring) that I have school on the brain. I guess we have another 35 weeks of school. We'll be just fine with one slow-day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Art Turns Into Science

The girls are working on a dress for the little one as a combined art project this week. Teen has been weeping and rejoicing over ever aspect, especially putting in the zipper. They're doing the whole thing without a pattern. Just eyeballing it and lots of try ons. It's an experiment.

But the dress is not done yet so I'll share that later. I wanted to tell how our sewing art lesson turned into an impromptu science lesson. Look what dd found in the sewing tray (the thingie attached to the sewing machine that holds the different foots, small screwdriver, etc...)

Lovely isn't it! Needless to say, there was mass murder screaming, arguing, yelling for me (I happened to be in the bathroom), accusing me of taking my time, and wide-eyed disbelief that I wanted to catch it in a jar for observation. I'm a homeschool mom, what can I say? lol

Jumping Spider (Family Salticidae)
His legs are an inch long each, and his body is another 1/2" itself. He's a BIG sucker.

P.S. Now dds are arguing about the benefits of Shakespeare (I'm sure you have things like this going on in your house.)

Little one: Shakespeare is stupid.
Teen: You're stupid!
Me: No more saying stupid okay?
Teen: Well, she can't say that about Shakespeare, its just, its bad, its just not right. You can't say that about Shakespeare.
Little one: But they're poking eyes out in this book I'm reading!
Me: What the heck are you reading?
Little one: It's called 'Top Ten Shakespeare Stories'
(It's a Scholastic book by Terry Deary)
Teen: Well still, it's not allowed.
Little one: Why not?
Teen: He's, well he's just Shakespeare and you can't.

Ahhh, I love my children.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Compare & Contrast

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is kind of the same. - Sesame Street song

I think the tendency is there to compare your children. Not saying we favorite or anything, just saying they do things differently. This is all good. We like different. We embrace change.

I have to be careful though to contrast their ages and apply that to their work. Especially with the 4th grader. I love school and tend to want to have her work work work because there's so much to do, so much to learn. But being the age she is, she's not going to sit for a straight hour or hour and a half doing math. As you get older, you forget about the intrinsic value of recess. A release from the rigors of work, even if it may be fun; to run free, do what you want, feel what you want to feel. The key is finding the balance between lots of recess and getting all the work done. Sometimes there can be problems getting focused again after recess.

On the other end of the spectrum, the teen is driven. As I've said before, she doesn't like to 'not' finish a lesson after she has started it. We try to stick to a certain amount of time per subject per day, just to get it all in. I think in the back of her head she feels dumb although she knows she is smart (heck! She got 6 grades in the A range, and 1 B last year!) It probably stems from some subjects tend to scramble her brain in how she learns them. But then we find the niche in learning them and she gets it. But the failures and missed math problems plague her. I also think she has a tendency to compare herself to other kids her age in public school. She tells me 'Whoziwhaty is in 10th grade and already doing Algebra 2 and I'm only on Geometry'. I can't help that. We did math every year. This is where Geometry fell for us. I don't know how to get her to quit comparing. She has pushed aside all the 'fun' that school can be.

Here's a little comparing and contrasting of my kids:

Both love Art (drawing, painting, new product projects)
Both love to procrastinate (sometimes)
Both love to read
Both love Science
Both love new school supplies (have you seen anyone get excited about pencils?!)
Both love to eat/snack (don't we all?! lol)

Teen loves English, little one not so much
Little one loves Math, teen abhors it
Little one likes to invent for fun, teen prefers spelling/vocab challenges
Teen likes order, Little one likes variety

I think I have my hands full.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3rd Week of School

Some patterns have emerged. Best laid plans of Mice & Men I guess.

Many of our activities have fallen by the wayside:
-- Making our beds before breakfast
-- Exercising after breakfast/before school starts
-- Walking during break
-- Being done by 3 PM
-- Doing anything other than an Art project on Fridays
-- Getting chores done daily
-- Piano time is suffering too

It's only the beginning of our 3rd week and the teen is feeling stressed. I don't really know how to take that away from her. I schedule her to do 1 hr of each main subject Mon-Wed, 1/2 hr of each main subject on Thurs (there are other subjects too.) That's all she needs to do. But I find that she is going over her time each day because she can't stand to not finish something she has started. She feels like she doesn't know anything that way. Honestly don't know what to do. I'm thinking of doing certain subjects only on certain days so she can have longer than 1 hr to work on them. I hate to see her working on a subject so long though. And won't that make her forget stuff in between? Any advice?

The little one is doing well. Some things I fear were forgotten over the summer so we're reviewing. She's dealing with it but the math is frustrating her. All her Times Tables were forgotten or severely pushed to the back of the brain. I feel so helpless sometimes like I've forgotten how to teach them as well! UGH. Piano. What was I thinking in teaching her? So what if I took 8 years of it? That was 23 years ago! I have no clue what I'm doing and I'm frustrating her. We'll manage but I need to get some books on it or something.

I loved it when little one and I went to the library today to return books. I sat thinking of what we should study next for history (we did 2 weeks of the history of dolls. She's still making a dollhouse and furniture but the studying part has petered out so I'm on to something else.) Anyway, she asked what we were going to study, I said 'Pioneers & Westward Movement' and she said 'YES!' with her fist pulled to her side. Like she had scored a pile of candy. lol She just loves learning.

The teen started the 2nd book of senior high Artistic Pursuits which is all about color. Her first few paintings are amazing and look like she's been painting forever. I love seeing her talent for art shine through. Makes me smile.

I am determined to get a handle of everything this week.
-- Figure out how to help teen with stress
-- find books on teaching piano & times tables
-- make sure to have some fun w/the kids
-- get in more exercise
-- have chores finished daily
-- earlier bedtimes for all (including night owl me)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

First Day of School

The day has come.
The hour is almost upon us.
Control will reign again.

I think we're ready for a little bit of structure. We've had a wonderfully busy, enjoyably chaotic summer. The girls have played, traveled, helped, volunteered and grown in more ways than one. I wouldn't trade any minute. I feel confident about the upcoming year. Last year I was a wreck. I don't know why I let our first year of high school for the teen, freak me out. This year I'll be a cucumber (cool. Get it? lol)

Little one has her Hello Kitty notebook and folders (also her joke book for 'down' times apparently lol), Teen one has her original 1970's fabric covered binder I scored at a garage sale this weekend. We're all set. Schoolwork amazingly fits into 1 box, for now.

As soon as the work starts to roll in, they'll need separate school book boxes. I'm craving The Desk Apprentice a homeschooling blog recently told me about (can't remember which one but when I remember I'll let you know.) Maybe when my ship comes in I'll buy two.

Anyway, wish us luck as we venture forth into another year of the unknown. Tomorrow is the day. The 1st day of our 8th year of homeschool. We may not know where the year will lead us, but we know God is in charge of it all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer School

I'm trying to fill in our time sheets for the summer hours (I'm behind, yes I know.) We don't really do sitting-down-homeschool during that time but there are things that can count for hours all year and why not include them? They're learning from them and you can count 12 months out of the year. Well, that's my thinking anyway. I meet my required hours during the 9 month school year without the summer, but I always like to see what the kids have been up to. Anyway. We'll call it summer school.

What have your kids been learning all summer?

9 yr old:
1 - Reading Reading Reading. And listening. She's read probably 15 chapter books, listened to another 1o on tape. Several of them classics like Treasure Island, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Alice in Wonderland. I love to see her engrossed in a book, glasses perched on her nose, bag of carrots at her side. Brings back memories of my age 11 summer when I read through the library's whole set of Agatha Christies and ran out. Mom had to kick me out of the house to make me go play. I loved and still love reading.

2 - Science. I think so far we've had the bee catching, the squirrel catching invention, legos made into cars, planes, pyramids, Sphinx, intricate buildings. We also read books on guinea pigs, ants, bees and puppies.

3 - Art. We've made thank you cards, mini books, Artist Trading Cards and used the paper making kit she rec'd for her birthday. She's drawn detailed pictures of fairies and other Spiderwick characters, animals and Veggietales characters.

4 - PE. Swimming. She had many many hours of PE practicing her swimming while we were on vacation. I mean, if she wasn't eating/sleeping, she was swimming. I see a marked improvement in her techniques. She has also been practicing on her new roller blades rec'd for her birthday. Our home is now a residential skating rink!

5 - Character Training. I say this loosely. She's obeying more. Things like going to bed when told, brushing teeth (most of the time), feeding the dog or picking up toys. Especially this week. We started a new calendar of chores (yes mom & dad have chores too.) She's done hers faithfully without argument each day. She is so headstrong so its a constant battle for obedience. We're still working on it but I guess with age comes a bit of maturity. Praying it continues.

15 year old:
1 - Social Studies/Character Studies. Volunteering. She has been a volunteer camp worker for 7 weeks this summer. Working in the kitchen, cleaning dishes, working the snack shop, providing outdoor games, helping with activities, doing odd cleaning jobs. She's developed a better tolerance for younger children (maybe it will help her when it comes to her sister.) She's learned discipline, dependability, punctuality and grace. This was a big summer of growing up for her.

2 - Bible. This has been the summer that she has embraced reading a bible and keeping notes. She enjoys bible studies; we've 'caught' her on several occasions off on her own reading it. It's really a blessing. An answer to prayer. I need to follow her lead and read mine more regularly.

We start school on Monday. I'm hoping to keep a bit of the 'fun learning' like we had this summer, ingrained into our normal homeschooling plans. Wish us luck.

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