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Archive for April, 2009

Homework

homeworkcoverlgI think that Homeschoolers are a unique group of people.  We are all striving to teach our children in a way that will not only educate them but also help their character and spirit grow.  A majority of the homeschoolers I know are casting the regimented institutionalized society away. Yes, we want to be good citizens.  Yes we want to be good employees.  The conundrum, (yes I used conundrum) is that what many of us are really striving for is independence.  We don’t want our children lumped in with the normalcy of school; we don’t want to conform to what is expected when it doesn’t mesh with our ideology.

We are teaching our children to be independent thinkers and learners and it is only natural that the next progression is that we become independent adults as well.  The idea of owning a small business is part of this independence.  In the e-book HomeWork: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance, different strategies for achieving independence are touched upon.

From the smallest business such as making purses out of your home to party based selling to large business such as printing and running a bed-and-breakfast inn, women share their experiences.  Many women share their businesses; a majority of them are born out of their family’s talents and interests.  Work is no longer work, but a labor of love for many of these families. The general theme is that homeschooling entrepreneurs need to shed away all of their preconceptions about traditional work, traditional schooling and a traditional life and make their business work for them.  They need to embrace their individual situations and adjust to them.  The beauty of owning a small business and homeschooling is the freedom to be flexible.

This book was both informative and inspiring the way that so many families are following God’s will on an unbeaten path.  It was an eye-opener in how families juggle business responsibility, home life and homeschooling with grace and sometimes with humor, but always together, as a family.

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TOS E-Books

wee-bookiconI recently became aware that the The Old School House has affordable e-books on many topics ranging from throwing baby showers to living with rebellious kids.  Some of the topics are light while others deal with heavy issues such as intelligent design.   All of the books that I read are written from a Christian perspective.  Each of these e-books is written from the first hand experience of The Old School House writers.  The books are informative and relatable to many different people and situations.

Every homeschooling parent has subjects that are harder to teach than others.  In our house the Math’s and Sciences are much easier for me than any of the Language Arts.  It may be because math and science are so precise; there is little room for interpretation.  It might also be because there is so much to cover in order to become a good writer.  There’s vocabulary, syntax, and diction, not to mention a sound plot or thesis behind the work.  On top of that, how do I decide what is a decent piece of writing for a third grader or a sixth grader.  It can be quite overwhelming to this mother of five.

The Writer’s Workshop – Getting Children Excited About Writing, an e-book, by Maggie Hogan, explains in simple and basic steps how to not only get your child excited about writing but also how to help them become better writers all under the guise of fun.  One of my favorite sentences in the e-book is “Set the tone for fun, but realize there is real writing going on here”
She explains that parents should set clear guidelines including the group’s purpose, what are appropriate writing topics, responsibilities to the group, and consideration for fellow writers.  Hogan outlines how she runs her workshops.  She starts with teaching mini-lessons and group writing, followed by individual author’s sharing their work with the audience and at the end of the session conferencing about work. Hogan also encourages workshops to have an event to celebrate how far the writer has come, things like making books and writer’s teas.

Overall this brief overview on how to run a writer’s workshop was very informative.  The practical advise and real world examples made running a writers workshop seem doable to even the most hesitant writing teacher.

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Caughtor maybe, I should have titled this post “chairs, a baby’s nirvana”.

My kitchen chairs are NEVER around the table anymore.  My poor table stands so lonely in the middle of the kitchen.  If you could speak table-ese you would hear it say “I am a lonely little table, my little chair friends have been kidnapped by two foot, snotty nosed, babbling babies!”

The babies drag the chairs with them wherever they want to go.

Nathaniel (he seems to be the instigator):  Hmm, I heard Mom washing dishes.   I wonder if there is still water left in the sink?  Let me grab my trusty chair.  Disappointment, no more water.  All is not lost, from my high perch I see something promising across the kitchen.   I think I’ll abandon this chair.  I wonder what’s over there?   Let me get my trusty chair #2, and scrape it across the floor.   Cake.  Score!  Jakey!

I noticed a hush come over the house.  All of sudden it was rather quiet.  All that could be heard were the sounds of video games and the boom of McKayla’s radio interspersed by Mike’s screams of indignation.

Before the great chair rearrangement of 2009, I might have been able to finish whatever it is I do during the day, things like going to the bathroom.    Now, there are all of those dangerous things like the stove and knives and the ice cream in the freezer, things that make me jump as soon as I hear a hush descend over the house.

I go into the kitchen and find this:

I think I'm alone nowOf course, Jacob was right there with Nathaniel.  The minute I came in Jacob scurried off of the chair while Nathaniel continued shoving cake into his mouth, and I ran to get my camera.  With kid number 2, I might have immediately taken the cake away.  Heck, we probably didn’t even have cake.  But now, I run to get my camera and debate on whether it’s even worth taking the cake away.

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This week my kids have been playing with this:

Mr. AnatomyThese are really cool.  They come with cards that give factoids about the human body.  They also have lots of removable organs, including an eye that pops out.

Mike:  I know what this body part is.

large intestine (a.k.a. wiener brain)me:  oh yeah, what is it?

Mike:  This is your wiener brain.

Me:  Your what?

Mike:  A wiener brain.

Me:  And why would you think it’s your wiener brain?

Mike:  Because it looks like your brain.  And it’s close to your wiener. (All of this was said with a tone that came across as Duh, Mom, Duh)

So there you go, I guess wieners have brains.  Really large brains.

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To me?

To you!

A very happy unbirthday to you :)We gave the kids coupon books for Christmas two years ago.  The books have great coupons.  Things like, “You’re royalty for the day.  Every one will bow as you enter the room”  or “Free magazine subscription”  or “No chores for the night”  and there’s even a “It’s your unbirthday.  Including presents and cake!”

Mike has learned how to read and he is working his way through his coupon book.  A few weeks ago he claimed his very happy unbirthday coupon.  I read him the fine print “must give at least 3 days advance notice”.  I told him we’d celebrate on the weekend.  That weekend we had lots of baseball and I forgot.  Our weeknights are filled with scouts and baseball.  The next weekend we had company.   Then we went on vacation and then I completely forgot.

While on vacation Mike told me, “Only one more day until my birthday!”

I quickly replied “Your birthday is months away.”

“No Mom!  My fake birthday!  My coupon birthday!”

“Oh! I forgot.  We can’t very well have a birthday party on vacation can we? We’ll do it this weekend”

“Can you put it on the calendar Mom?  Apparently I don’t want to wait any longer”  (Apparently is his new favorite word.  I’ll ask him to go find me a diaper and he’ll never return.  “Mike where is that diaper I asked you for?  You’re brother is over here naked.”  “Apparently, McKayla hid them and I can’t find them!”)

Of course, this weekend happened to be Easter weekend, and of course, I forgot until Saturday morning.  I ran to Walmart and bought a toy bow-and-arrow for $5.  I called every one local and then by special request a best friend who isn’t so local.  We made a cake and decorated it with all of the candles and all of the sprinkles.  Dave decorated with the old birthday decorations.  I knew they’d come in handy some day!  It was a  rather successful last minute unbirthday party.

The only down side is that Mike thinks he’s seven now because:

“Apparently I had a birthday, and now I’m seven” –Mike

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he keeps us safe.

I have a really cute photo that I was going to add to my post about reading yesterday.  It’s of our library cards.  Nothing is sweeter than a kid’s library card. There is something almost magical about getting a library card.  It is a very serious affair.  There is a long application to fill out.  The librarian goes over the rules.  She makes sure to instill and impress the responsibility of being a library card holder.  Once she feels like she has imparted all of her rules they bring out the library card and sharpie pen.  The librarian reminds the kids that they only have one chance to write their name and it’s permanent.  The kids take their time.  McKayla’s name is printed in very careful and legible cursive writing with a “neater” version of her signature.  Marshall’s name is written in a very careful print. While Mike’s signature is done with very large and wobbly writing.

As I up loaded them, Dave had a mini conniption fit.

Him:  “You’re not posting that are you?!?”

Me:  Sure, Why not?

Him:  Because people will know where we live!  It has our city on it!  They have the kids first and last names!

Me (a little taken aback):  Oh, I didn’t think about that.

Him:  Plus, they have the kids library card numbers on it!

Me:  So?

Him:  People could steal their numbers and check out books under their names!  And not return them and you’d have a large fine.

Me:  Um, okay…

Him:  The next thing you know, Ms. Ruth Ann will be calling you letting you know that the copy of Asian Anal Porn you requested is in. Imagine how embarrassed you’ll be.

Me: So, you don’t think I should post them?

Him: NO!

I think my alarmist tendencies may be wearing off on someone.


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Reading

reading

There are some things that are important to me as a parent.  Things beyond keeping them alive and fed.  Things not quite as lofty as good morals and strong foundation.  I’d like to keep them all away from the clink, the pole, the crack, the welfare lines and knocked up and unwed.  But there are some things that just make me all warm and fuzzy inside. Things that I hope and strive for my children to have and do.

One of those things is that my children love to read.  I want them to love the written word.  We read a lot around here.  We read at sporting events.  We read before bed.  We read to each other. We read to learn.  We read for pleasure.  Sometimes we read for some cold hard cash and an In-N-Out burger.  Mostly, we just read.

reading

I am a voracious reader.  I love to read.  I love the library.  The librarian knew our names after only a few short months here.  She knows our names because we spend a few days a week there and because when we go to the library we screw up their statistics for visitors.  I’m sure when we started attending the library their checkouts increased by 10% and they applied for extra funding.  But then Ms. Ruth Ann (our wonderful librarian) realized that we take books home without discernment.  Everyone has their own library card and I let them use those cards like the library might burn down overnight.

dave reading to the kids

My parents are readers.  What I remember most about growing up is reading.  I remember reading on vacation.  I remember reading late at night in bed.  I remember reading on Sunday mornings while my Dad read the paper.  I remember buying books at garage sales.

I truly love to read and get lost and caught up in a story.  I do.  I love to learn new things, or feel new emotions through the eyes of great characters.  I love authors that write series.  When I find a really great character I hate to let go.  I hate to see the story end.  I mostly read fiction with a little bit of substance thrown in.

I read a lot, at least a book a week. If you ask me next year a story line or a plot, I probably couldn’t even give a vague outline of most of them.   I could tell you which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t.  I’d be hard pressed to give even a title that I could say have changed me. There are authors that can write so beautifully you feel more deeply than you could feel on your own, you understand better, and you become enlightened.

As much as an author may enlighten or move me,  it’s hard for an author to actually change my life, to make an impact so big on my heart that I remember it decades later.  But there are those books from grade school that I remember so well.   Books that even today, I start reading and it’s like being welcomed home.  These are the books where I first learned about love and loss, bravery and courage, innocence and the corruption of it, good and evil,  friendship and humanity.  It is a comfort to know that even though your world might not be perfect there are near perfect families that you’d love to be part of and fantastical worlds behind cupboards and under stairs.

I stumbled upon this article, When Books Could Change your Life and it was an “aha” moment.  Children are curious.    They yearn to experience the world.  They want so badly to know everything.  They are constantly looking for explanations.  There is so much to learn.  There are just not enough minutes in the day.   I want them to read and be inspired.  I want them to read and be disappointed.  I want them to read and laugh.  I want them to read and have hope.  I want them to read and feel love.  I want them to read and feel loss.  I want them to read and have happy memories.  I want them to carry every experience of each fictional character into their adulthood.

It’s not that children’s books are pure entertainment, innocent of any didactic goal–what grownups enviously call “Reading for Fun.” On the contrary, the reading we do as children may be more serious than any reading we’ll ever do again. Books for children and young people are unashamedly prescriptive: They’re written, at least in part, to teach us what the world is like, how people are, and how we should behave–as my colleague Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother) puts it, “How to be a human being.”

So, I will let my children check out books like the library might close it doors tomorrow.  I will let them keep a large pile of books by their beds. I will gladly let them read late into the night (as long as the keep their grumpy attitudes to themselves).   Because for all that I will attempt to teach them,  it’s always nice to have some backup in the teaching them “how to be a human being” department.

babies reading upside down

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