Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Learning doesn't stop during Christmas.

Yes, we are still doing schoolwork.  Most of the learning going on is of the "fun", unplanned variety - a lesson on who Saint Nicholas was, and how this person became known as Santa Claus. 

A video online about the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.  And a discussion about what it must have been like for Francis Scott Key, straining to see the Stars and Stripes, when the British were determined to bomb it into oblivion.  The meaning of patriotism, and what it means to be an American.  That's something we're extra-sensitive on - my dad is a retired Army colonel with 42 years of service, my brother is serving in Iraq, my boyfriend is a former sheriff's deputy, and my ex-husband is a Mexican immigrant (the proud holder of a green card). 

We've watched Nato track Santa - what a wonderful geography lesson every year!  That leads into discussing time zones, and watching the map to see where Santa is, and what it's like in those countries.  It's also lead to a discussion about what government is supposed to do, versus all the extra stuff it's taking on. 

Mercedes is still writing her business plan for her party planning business.  I'm going to make her write it over - with correct spelling this time! 

Jared got a bunch of Legos from my boyfriend, Tim, and he's been spending all day every day either riding his new bike (even in the snow) or working on his Lego project.  He also got a box of K'nex, and has been building with them also.

History lessons have started up again (I've been lazy). 

Jared's learning his two-times tables, and is proud as can be that he got it right off the bat. 

Mercedes is struggling a bit with spelling and got a little confused when we started adding thousands instead of just hundreds - the extra column scared her a bit, but she's getting it. 

Bedtime story lately has been a chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  

I'm so proud to see the kids growing and learning. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

New York High School plans to open drug clinic on campus

OK, so let me get this straight.  We send kids into the DARE program where they learn how to use drugs, then we're all surprised when they do use drugs, so we open a drug clinic in the high school. 

There is something to be said for innocence.  Why are we taking it away from our kids?  I know they get exposed to a lot of nastiness in school, but why on earth deliberately introduce it?

Plan to Open Drug Clinic at High School

Condoms in Elementary School????

I really try not to discuss politics on this blog.  But this just screams "wrong" on so many levels:
Condoms for Elementary Students

Because so many first graders (SEVEN YEARS OLD!) are out having sex.  And need to be taught how to use a condom.  It seems a lot like sexual molestation of minor children to me. By school administrators!

And this is one of the reasons I homeschool my kids.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creating Closeness

One of the reasons I choose to homeschool my children is to create a much closer relationship with them than I had with my older three.  My kids are closer to each other and to me. 

It's hard NOT to be close to the kids when I'm their mother, their teacher, their chauffeur.... Because I'm the one that's always there, I'm the one they turn to all the time. 

I also make a point of being emotionally available.  Well, as far as I can be (I tend to be rather distant).  When the kids need my attention, I try to give them my full attention and take care of them.  The result is a much closer relationship than many families have. 

Of course, I'm always open for ideas to create even more closeness.  I love my kiddos and I love teaching them.  It brings me such joy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

"How do you get your kids to clean?'

I was recently asked this when I was bragging about keeping my home neat using the Flylady program

I don't get my kids to clean.  I ask them to clean up after themselves.  Right now, that's a challenge in and of itself.  It's not their job to be my maids any more than it's my job to be theirs. 

I ask them to put their own laundry away, clear their own plates from the table, and bring the laundry downstairs.  They are to keep their own rooms clean, and clean up their own dirty clothes out of the bathroom when they're done with baths.  They make their own beds and change their own sheets. 

I occasionally ask them to take out the garbage, and they think loading the dishwasher and doing laundry is pretty cool.  So I let them do that, and praise them to the skies when they do.

I remind them often that "housework done improperly still blesses the family" and, while I do teach the correct way to clean things, I also tell them that it doesn't have to be perfect.  Just better. 

And I never, ever use cleaning as a punishment.  I want them to like cleaning!  I use it as a reward!  I also never nag them about any jobs more than putting their own things away.  You know, teaching them to take care of their own messes is teaching responsibility.  Ultimately, if everyone cleans up after themselves, there's not much left to do!

I talk to them about how much better the house (or their rooms) feel when it's clean.  It's so much nicer to be able to walk around barefoot without stepping on Legos and getting hurt.

I let them see how hard I work.  I talk to them about my routines and Flylady.  "See?  Flylady says to shine my sink - I guess I'd better go do that!"

And I help them declutter.  Mercedes just went through her clothes and got rid of everything that she doesn't love or that is too small.  Jared got rid of some toys he doesn't like any more because he's outgrown them.  Clutter can't be organized, just gotten rid of. 

Most importantly, I set the example.  When I was messy, so were they.  When I'm working at FLYing, so do they, and without any prodding from me. 

So start with making them responsible for their OWN things and let them grow into the routines.  And remember - they aren't interested in cleaning the house, you are.  Show them how desirable a clean, neat house is, and they'll follow through on that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting too busy!

This past couple of weeks I've moved my office back into my home, leaving me with both more time and more demands on that time.  It's hard to juggle housekeeping, paid work, homeschooling, and recreation sometimes.  However, nothing is more rewarding than having the kids laying in the living room (where my office is) working on schoolwork while I do my bookkeeping. 

I love being a homeschooling mom. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Worried about Homeschooling? Relax!

Really.  Relax.

We homeschooling parents put a lot of pressure on ourselves.  Society puts a fair amount of pressure on us as well.  Do our children have the social skills requisite for success?  Do they interact well with their peers?  Are they learning everything everyone else seems to think they need to know? are we going to teach them calculus?

First - remember that most learning occurs from a child-led perspective.  That doesn't mean complete parental hands-off, but it does mean that when your child shows an interest in something, let them satisfy that interest.  Are they interested in gemstones and crystals? Have them grow rock candy to see how crystals form.  Buy them some interesting rocks at a metaphysical shop.  Show them geodes, and maybe even go rock-hounding with them.

We just finished studying Galileo and Copernicus.  Jared is very interested now in the solar system, stars, and telescopes.  We'll go to the planetarium, head out to the West Desert here in Utah to look at the stars, get pictures of the planets for his room, make a mobile of the solar system.

The point here is that ... kids will learn.  All a parent really has to do is give them the tools to do it.  Homeschool doesn't necessarily mean "school at home" - and by relaxing about school, my kids have more freedom to explore what they want to learn.

Oh, and calculus?  Learn it right along with the kids, find someone who is good at it and can teach it, use a homeschool co-op, or allow them to dual-enroll with the high school or community college.  You don't have to know everything - or even very much! to homeschool effectively.

So relax!  If you're putting any effort at all into your kids' education, odds are pretty good you're going to do better than the government schools ever could

Monday, September 20, 2010

And people wonder why I homeschool....

On Friday evening:

Me: Son, you've gotta go to bed.  Daddy will be here early in the morning to pick you up.
Jared: But, can I bring my math?  I'm adding and subtracting HUNDREDS!
Me: Yes, I guess.  You may also sit at your desk and do math for a while, if you want.
Jared: Oh, thank you, Mommy, thank you. 
Me: (bemused) Do you like math?
Jared: Oh, yes, I love math!

He then dashed off to do math work.  He's well into 2nd grade math, nearly half a grade level ahead of his peers, and reads well, too.  He's competing with Mercedes to see if he can catch up with her.

And people wonder why I homeschool.  What a joy to see my son loving math, enjoying music, art, and begging for a lesson in history.  When else do I get to have the kids gathered around my computer looking at pictures of the planets and discussing the solar system?  How many 1st and 3rd graders do you know who know Copernicus and Galileo?

Friday, September 17, 2010

What? Me, Organized?

I was telling a friend of mine about my day.  Honestly, I don't think I do that much more than any other mom - I just keep my kids close to me while I do it.  I get up the same time as everyone else (7ish - 8ish), get the kids ready for the day, give them their lessons, work, and keep my house (reasonably) clean. 

Her reaction was, "Wow, you must be so organized!"

Well, I am, in my work life.  My desk is clean and organized - it has to be for me to keep my clients happy. 

My organization starts the night before.  I have a rule that I don't go to bed until the house is cleaned up - not perfect, but tidied.  I want the bathroom where the kids take their baths cleaned, laundry in the hampers, the kitchen cleaned from dinner, the dining room table cleared, and the living room picked up.  It takes me about 20 minutes to get all this done. 

Then I decide what clothes I want to wear the next day, and make sure they're in good repair. 

Everything I need for the next day, I set on my desk or place by the front door.  Do I know where my keys and purse are?

I spend a little time pampering myself, meditating, catching up on my leisure reading, and I'm ready for bed. 

All of a sudden, the next morning is easy!

Thanks to FlyLady, who taught me the way. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Interesting troubles with schoolwork

My kids are having some trouble with their school work. Some of the phonics words have become obsolete.  Once I tell them what the word is - "Honey, a record player is a phonograph" they do just fine. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TV Woes

I have come to utterly and completely HATE TV.  I can't get my kids to read if the idiot box is on; I can't focus on my work, and it just makes too much noise. 

So I moved my office into the living room, across from the TV, and I've LOCKED the remotes in my filing cabinet.  Now the kids can't waste time mindlessly watching cartoons. 

TV is fine for news and educational programs, but the kids tend to leave it on all the time.  I'm trying to teach them to watch TV occasionally and not constantly.  Let books be their first choice for entertainment!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Testing, one, two....

Since I homeschool, I'm often asked about standardized tests.  No, in Utah they are not required, and I'm pretty sure my kids know how to fill in bubbles with a number 2 pencil.  Does anyone remember the purpose of testing any more?  Anyone?  Anyone?

The purpose of testing used to be to find out what students had learned, and what they still needed to master. In a classroom setting, testing is important, because teachers need to prove that they have taught effectively.

In a homeschool, testing is virtually unnecessary.  Parents who are taking on the responsibility for educating their children are well aware of the areas the kids are deficient in. 

Eventually, of course, they will need to take the ACT and SAT.  In the meantime, they are already better educated than their peers, who are in classrooms and only after the grade.

I "test" them sometimes by having them read to me, explain what the last history lesson was about, talk to other adults about what they've learned, and solve real-life math problems.  Sometimes what they've learned isn't what I thought I taught, but that's OK - that happens all the time, too.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

I spent the day mostly inside with the kids, and discussing why there are some things that are just worth fighting for. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Socialization" and homeschooling

I recently read an article by a sadly misinformed young man who seemed to think that the homeschooling movement was going to threaten our democracy because he had ONE encounter with ONE homeschooled young lady - who wasn't able to discuss different worldviews.

Well, #1, the USA isn't a democracy, it's a republic.  A democracy is the rule of mob, a republic respects and safeguards the rights of the individual.

In other words, in a democracy, majority rules, and the rights of the majority override the rights of the individual.  This was brought home to me in a rather explicit example: Two men.  One woman.  She doesn't want to have sex, they do.  Majority rules, and the will of the majority overrides the will of the individual.

In a republic, however,  her right to say no is explicitly respected and protected.  The right of the indivudual is not subsumed into the desires of the majority.  That's why we have a Constitution that is supposed to protect our rights, that's why we have the Electoral College. 

We don't live in a democracy here, so I'm not at all worried about homeschooling causing damage to the democracy.

Further, homeschooled students have a greater range of friends and aquaintances than their schooled peers.  They are regularly exposed to different worldviews and different ways of living. 

Schooled kids can't get that kind of exposure.  They can talk about it, but we actually are out doing it. 

Besides, when I was in school, I was told I wasn't there to socialize - I was there to be taught. 

Homeschooled kids tend to have better social skills than their publicly schooled peers.  I had to laugh when I was talking to some friends who work at a car repair shop.  We were waiting for my car to get done, and my friend told me she was amazed at how well behaved my kids were.  They were respectful to her, they said please and thank you, and they cleaned up after themselves. 

That's the kind of social skills society is sadly lacking these days. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homeschooling as a Single, Working Mother

I wondered if I would be able to continue homeschooling when I divorced my husband and needed to go back to work.  However, where there's a will, there's a way, and I continue to homeschool even through a heavy work schedule.

I'm blessed to be able to make my own schedule.  Generally, we do school in the mornings, when the kids are fresh - but I've also done it in the evening after work.  I've also asked my daughter, Krista, who is grown, to help me with the daily routine subjects, like making sure the kids read and do math daily, and then I review their work at the end of the day.  Some days, we do part in the morning and the rest in the evening. 

We do history and writing together, and I look for every opportunity to get the kids to write.  Shopping lists, journals, book reports, family newsletter.  They see me blogging and writing in my journal frequently.  Krista likes to write song lyrics, which has inspired Mercedes to write poetry as well.

I can plan a day off midweek (when everyone else is in school) to take the kids to a museum or the zoo. 

My oldest, Krista, works as my nanny.  The younger kids are very self sufficient - they've been taught to fix their own breakfast (even bacon and eggs), clean up after themselves, do the laundry - valuable life skills that will serve them well.  And I teach them routines.  They get up in the morning, get dressed to shoes, have breakfast, and start on their schoolwork without too much prodding from me. 

And that is a very big deal.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why do YOU homeschool?

I'm often asked why I homeschool my kids.  I have a number of reasons. 

  • I can get through the curriculum at a faster pace than the schools can, and in fewer hours per day.
  • We have more flexibility in the curriculum.  My kids are learning Spanish and I'm looking into Latin.
  • I can provide one-on-one instruction.
  • I have a job that allows me enough flexibility that I can devote blocks of time to my kids.
  • It eliminates the homework battle. No more sending the kids to school 6 hours a day to end the day with another couple of hours of homework. 2-3 hours and we're done. 
  • I'm more efficient than the schools.
  • My oldest child was routinely verbally abused by a teacher in the 4th grade.  As a parent, my kids aren't my job, they're my future.  I don't need to waste my time undoing the damage bad teachers cause. The teachers only have them for 9 months, anyway - I have responsibility for them for 18 years.
  • We can actually discuss God and religion in the context of history (and anywhere else), providing a more complete education.  Really - you can't get through history without talking about God and religious devotion.  Religion has dramatically influenced history.
  • Speaking of history - there's a whole bunch of it before the landing of the Mayflower.  My kids are as familiar with Julius Caesar as they are with George Washington.
  • The kids are comfortable speaking to adults, and enjoy playing with kids of all ages.  The schools segregate by age.
  • If anyone's going to brainwash my kids, it's going to be me.  I don't want the kids being taught the political nonsense du jour. 
  • Mercedes and Jared are closer to each other than most siblings.  They are also close to their nephews.  We enjoy a more tightly knit family than many others.
  • They actually know how to play!  I don't have to plan every spare moment for them - so they know how to entertain themselves.  Legos, reading, dolls.
The only downside I've been able to come up with is that I miss out on the full time, government provided babysitter.   Fortunately, my oldest daughter (23) is able to fill in and help out.  (She was educated in the government schools, though, so I'm still having to teach her writing and math.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Just Write!

It was nice to sleep in today.  Jared and Mercedes got up bright and early, fixed themselves breakfast (and cleaned up after themselves), and watched TV.  I got them started on their schoolwork - and then the power went out and they couldn't have the TV on anyway. 

It was pretty nice.  Jared is starting his 2nd grade math book.  He is so proud of his math abilities!  It's fun to watch.  Mercedes is confident that she's going to sail through hers.

I'm doing a lot more with writing this year.  I guess it's all the blogs I'm writing.  Writing is a vital skill, especially in our information-based culture.  Those who don't write well will be stuck in low paid, dead end jobs, while people who can express themselves clearly and concisely will be able to earn more money. 

How to teach writing?  Well, I have the kids make my grocery lists, write down how they feel, keep a daily journal, write down science experiments, write down what they learned in history, do book reports, make notes on the dry-erase board, write letters to grandparents, and more.  And then they also have specific writing assignments, and a study of grammar.

Maybe I'll have them put together a newsletter, like the Pickwick Papers in Little Women.  That would be fun!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kicking things off

My sweet #1 Grandson
My grandson, Ryan, started kindergarten today.  He was so proud!  I am looking forward to seeing how well he does at school.  He isn't a very social boy, so I think school may be just the thing for him, at least for a while. 

I went over the expectations for the year with Mercedes and Jared.  We discussed "life skills" or "home ec" or whatever you want to call it.  I had Mercedes wash the sheets on her bed and put them back after they dried - she was so proud of her abilities to run the washer and dryer herself.  Part of "school" this year will be for them to plan and cook a meal once a month (each).  Hopefully I can keep them from making hugely fattening foods! 

Jared proudly finished his 1st grade math book today.  He refused to start on 2A until he was done with 1B.  Interesting!

Mercedes is going to be a handful.  I am having trouble getting her to focus. 

And the adventure continues!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What does it cost to educate a child?

I was just reading over at Alan Caruba's blog about the high cost of public education and how poorly we as a nation have been served by the Department of Education.  Evidently the NEA think the best way to solve the "educational crisis," as ever, is to throw more money at it. 

Where is all the money going?  Buildings, grounds, utilities, and teachers' salaries are really not that much.  For what we pay for "free" public education, we ought not to have to pay for a sheet of paper.  In fact, when I was in grade school in the 70s, I remember that the schools provided paper!

What fascinates me is that, as a homeschooling mother, I could take my kids to Greece, Rome, Washington DC, London, and Paris to see for themselves where history was made for what it seems to cost to educate a single child in the public education system.  And I don't have to undo the brainwashing afterward, either. 

In a couple of hours a day (since I don't have to bother with the administrative busywork that public school students and teachers often have to deal with), I can teach my kids history, read to them, get their phonics handled, study math, and give them the afternoon to explore on their own.  I can provide them with prisms, magnets, magnifying glasses, Legos, and let them explore physics.  We grew a garden this year, and my 7 year old Jared has discovered an interest in botany. 

Mercedes is getting old enough that yes, she needs a little more direction in her work.  But not a lot.  Often what is needed (especially at this age) is to pique their interest and let them explore from there. 

We do phonics, reading, writing and math daily.  We do history on Tuesdays and Thursdays, science on Wednesdays and Fridays, read-aloud every evening at bedtime (right now we're reading Winnie the Pooh), and we go hiking (as long as we are able to) on the Saturdays they are with me, which covers geology.  Phys ed is walking or running ever day, plus shooing the kids outside to play. 

Total cost?  About $500 a year.  All together.  Including a bunch of field trips and gas.  If I go overboard on spending, that is. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moving right along!

It's proving to be a bit more of a struggle than I would have liked to get the kids off summer schedule.  I need to put the schedule back on the board!  Mercedes is trying to weasel her way out of doing her work - but she needs the discipline the most.  Jared, as usual, is "the Math King," as he told me today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And the drama begins....

This time it's Jared.  He's "lost" his schoolwork twice already - left it at his dad's house once, and "couldn't find it" today.  The ironic thing is that he really likes school, especially math.

Mercedes is starting to really get on it.  I'm so proud of her for her hard work.  She's still struggling with reading words that aren't there, and guessing at the words, but she's doing well.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just ordered curriculum....

I just ordered our history curriculum for the year, and Mercedes' next semester of math.  Jared's already got his.  I'm looking forward to a fabulous school year!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Setting up routines

Probably the most challenging part of homeschooling to me is getting routines set up.  Getting up, working out, "doing school," getting to work, getting work actually done, cooking dinner, cleaning house.  I have a control journal, but it's been tough remembering to do everything every day. 

The nice thing, though, is that as the routines fall into place, one thing at a time, there is actually less to do.  I don't mind washing three dishes nearly as much as I mind washing three days worth (or dishes for a family of 10, Mom.)  I don't mind mopping the floor if I know it just gets mopped every Monday.  Less at one go, although more little tasks every day.

And, I just realized I have to order a new history book.  I didn't realize we were almost done! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting geared up for another year

I have so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in.  As usual.  It's a challenge being a homeschooling, single mother. 

I've spent the past week with my daughter Mercedes setting up her goals.  I'm hoping to start her in college by the time she's 16.  So we reviewed where her peers are (probably) and where I would like her to be, and what needs to happen to get her there.  And then we took that down to bite-size chunks.  Mercedes has been pretty lazy, so she's a bit behind.  Jared, however, is taking great pride in catching up to, and surpassing, his sister academically.  Nothing like a little competition to get them going!

We are giving Mercedes points toward a Build a Bear if she completes her work as we've agreed.  Krista has put that up on the whiteboard, so she knows how many points she needs.

I reviewed the subjects I "should" be teaching, including homemaking - er, life skills/home ec (read "Flylady") - and science.  Music is another that has kind of gone abandoned.  And I want to emphasize more art - they should at least be able to appreciate the great masters, as well as work in pencil to do good drawings.  We're covering physics this year in science - lots of work with magnets and prisms.

And yet, even with all this work in preparation, and the work that goes into preparing each lesson, I spend less time educating my kids than I did working with the public schools and grappling over homework.  Amazing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Free" public education?

I was looking over my Facebook page, and a couple of friends were talking about being broke now that school is in session.  (It doesn't start here in Utah till next week.)  There are supplies to be purchased, fees to be paid, and of course the kids have to have the cool clothes.

I'm so glad I homeschool.

I purchase my curriculum throughout the year, as needed.  We do take advantage of back to school sales, stocking up on art supplies, pencils, and the like. 

The kids don't care if their clothes come from the thrift shop - and I don't have a rush to get them in fall clothes before an arbitrary date. 

Fees?  What fees?  We just buy what we need, at a fraction of the cost at school, and do our science experiments as we want to.  Later this week, we're driving out to the desert to watch the Pleiades Meteor Shower, complete with a discussion of how to find north and the constellations.

And, I get through more "schooling" in less time than any public school could ever do.  We're always done by noon, unless the kids want to do more, and if they choose to do more, they're still available to play by the end of the school day.  They're blessed with free time, unlike their peers, who are overscheduled with hours of homework at the end of the day, plus structured lessons, and no chance to be kids.

Hmmm.  Seems like I'm getting a deal here!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Exemption filed for another year

I just got back from the district offices, filing my exemption form for another year.  I'm glad Utah is as homeschool friendly as it is! 

I'm also copying the last bit of history work that we'll cover - we've got just the 16th century left and then we go to the next book in Story of the World.  The kids are getting mature enough that we'll be able to start going more in depth.  Especially into US history. 

When we talked about Columbus, I discussed the importance of a compass.  I even built one - out of a cork, a sewing needle, and a cup of water.  Jared thought that was fascinating. 

Someone asked me recently why I homeschool.  My answer stands - why let the teachers have all the fun?

Monday, August 9, 2010

First Day Back!

Today we resumed homeschool after a few weeks off.  The kids were glad to get back into the routine.  I am glad, too.  I think kids need some structure! 

Jared is nearly complete with 1st grade math, and since he would be entering 2nd grade, he's right on track with math.  He's enjoying reading, and he was mad at me this morning because I forgot to get the history handouts ready for them.  History is by far his favorite subject. 

Mercedes needs to buckle down on math, although she's at or above grade level in writing and reading.  She keeps avoiding math.  I find it strange because she's very good at it, and she can get up to speed quickly.  We're beginning serious work on her writing this year. 

And I plan to take them out to the West Desert later this week for the meteor shower.  A cooler, a red-filtered flashlight, blankets, and a couple of camp chairs to watch Nature's own firework show!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Last week of vacation (so to speak)

Mercedes arrived back home on Monday night, tired, but excited about the time she got to spend with her Grandma and Grandpa.  (Grandma and Grandpa, please send me some photos!  You too Denise!) 

We had sort of put formal school on hold while she was gone, because I didn't want to jump ahead in history without her, and Jared just wasn't into studying.  Notice that I said "formal" school.  We have a couple of hours of instruction in the mornings, and then let the kids do their own thing in the afternoon, so I can get my work done. 

Jared caught a grasshopper and made a little habitat for it in a Tupperware dish.

They have spend a couple of days with Krista, boating and playing in the sprinklers.  I try to get them worn out good during the day. 

Today, Jared evidently was over tired, so he got sent back to bed at 10:30 am.  Mercedes is in her room reading Pippi Longstocking and journaling about her trip. 

We'll resume formal school when the public schools resume as well. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Almost done!

Mercedes' room is taking shape.  I may be hauling things out to the lawn on Saturday morning to give away or sell!  We got rid of this huge dresser that took up a whole wall of her room.  My friends gave me a smaller chest of drawers, so we painted that black (Meche's favorite color is red) and tucked it into a corner of the room with a silk plant on top.  I'll find a little red bowl for her crystals.

She already had a cream colored bedspread, so I bought red sheets and put the cream spread back on the bed.

I painted the room country white.  We rent, so I'm technically not supposed to paint at all, but since we've lived here 9 years without painting, and since I'm just using white again, I figured I deserved to give my girl a freshly painted room.  It's so nice to watch the marks on the wall disappear under the paint roller!

I'm now looking for a red area rug, red or red and black curtains (the blind is filthy and I don't know how to clean it), mosquito netting,  and a writing desk.  The really lovely part is that I've only spent about $30 on the room so far - a gallon of white paint, a quart of black paint, and some Gorilla Glue to fix her closet door.  And a $12 set of sheets at Wal-Mart.

Mercedes is quite the "neat freak," so I think she will appreciate having a beautiful room again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quiet here~!

Krista took Jared and her sons boating at Deer Creek today.  Evidently they got worn out, because she called me at 7 to tell me all the kids were sacked out asleep and she was going to let sleeping bears lie.  Jared spent the night over there due to the early wake up today - so this is the 2nd night not home. 

It's quiet.  Too quiet.  I miss my kids.

In the meantime, I got Mercedes' closet door repaired, half her room painted (only to realize I didn't use semi-gloss - oh, well), her furniture out the door, and bought her nice new red sheets.  She said her favorite color was red, so I'm re-doing her room in red, black, and white while she's gone.  I've got to bring the dresser we painted black back in, put her clothes away for her, finish painting, re-arrange her room.... It should look new by the time I'm done. 

I just need to be twins for this one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I am soooo tired

Krista managed to get free wristbands for Jared for Spanish Fork's Fiesta Days.  She took him down at about 9am for the parade, and I joined them in the afternoon, after an appointment.  Poor kid - he was so tired he could not sleep! 

Mercedes is having a big time with her grandpa and grandma.  It kind of leaves me with not so much to talk about! 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Proud Mama Moment - Laundry

This morning Jared complained that there were no clean jeans in his drawer.  (There probably were, but who knows.)  So I told him to check the dryer.  Didn't think about it again.

I came downstairs to finish getting ready for work, and what did I see? 

A basket full of clean clothes.

A newly filled dryer.

An empty washer.

Jared had moved the laundry through without being asked.  He then came to me and told me there were no dryer sheets, which was why he hadn't started it.  He sees me doing laundry every day (a la Flylady) and decided to help.  I had already taken time to teach him how to sort laundry, how to load and run the washer, and how to load and run the dryer.  (It does help that I have front loaders.)

Very, very cool.  I am so proud of him I could pop. Way to go, Jared!

(By the way - this is his self-portrait)

Don't talk to strangers?

I was just reading Lenore's blog over at Free Range Kids and was interested in the post on Stranger Danger

I'm a free range mom.  I parent under the belief that I am to work myself out of a job.  By the time my kids are 18 or so, they should be able to take care of themselves (and me, as I tell them!).  Because I don't hover every single stinking minute, I've taught my kids what to do when they get lost.

Find a store employee. 

Find an adult (mom or dad) with kids. 

Find a police officer or store security.

I've talked to them about people I've seen that scare me.  Not too many of those, but I've told them that when they have a bad feeling about something, pay attention.  That's their intuition warning them about something or someone.

It's a good feeling to be paged over the store's intercom because the kids got turned around in the toy section and promptly went to the checkout stand to page Mom.  It's good, because I know they know what to do in a potentially frightening situation. 

Logic at 7

I got so tickled at Jared.  Keep in mind - he's 7 years old.  Like most 7 year old boys, he's a budding paleontologist.  Dinosaurs, reptiles, and the like fascinate him. 

So he came up to me last night and asked me if crocodiles were cold-blooded.  (We had talked about cold/warm blooded animals a few nights ago.) 

Me: Yes, crocodiles are cold blooded.  They're reptiles.
Jared: Then dinosaurs are cold blooded.
Me: Well, son, we don't really know.  What makes you think that?
Jared: Mom, you know crocodiles are dinosaurs.  So, if crocodiles are cold blooded, then dinosaurs are cold blooded.
Me: I can't argue with your logic there....

although I can see the fallacy (ie - we don't know enough about all dinosaurs, some may have been related to birds rather than reptiles),  he doesn't have enough information to know it, and for 7, that's a pretty formidable use of logic!

The way this boy thinks is so interesting.  I'm loving the extra time alone with him to see how he thinks! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Update on Mercedes' trip

It's been quiet this week at the Harris household.  (I guess I should put Vazquez in there because my kids are surnamed Vazquez, but I'm a Harris, and as the head of the household, that stands, LOL)

Jared asked to call Mercedes last night.  She said she was waiting her turn on her grandma's trampoline, and all her cousins were there.  It sounds like she's having a blast.  I sure hope Denise is taking lots of pictures! 

I asked Jared today if he was enjoying having Mercedes gone, and he said, "Nah, I miss her." 

In the meantime we're cleaning out her room and getting part of it redecorated.  I can only manage a few things at a time, so it will be a process.  Budget's pretty tight.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

And she's off.....

My baby girl.  Off to Kentucky.  Without me. 

It was hard to see her go (although she was with my sister), because this IS her first big adventure.  And this is my LAST girl.  She's somewhere in Colorado by now, most likely. 

This is going to be so good for her.  I'm excited for her and delighted that she has the opportunity to visit grandparents almost on her own. 

In the meantime, I warned her that I would declutter and clean her room, and after seeing how nice her place at her dad's is, it looks like some redecorating is in order.  (I don't have a domestic bone in my body.  I forget about stuff like that.)  I'm pretty sure I can get this done 15 minutes at a time!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mercedes is going on her first trip!

Bless her heart!  I can't wait to be able to blog about all of this! 

My sister Denise is driving from Utah to Kentucky to visit my parents.  She's taking Mercedes with her.  Meche is a lot nervous about the trip - this is her first time away from me for more than a couple of days.  But she's with one of her favorite aunties, and with Spike.  (Spike is a Pomeranian.  He minds better than my kids.)

We're framing it as an adventure. 

Her grandparents are really looking forward to seeing her.  So are her cousins. 

She'll be gone for 2 1/2 weeks.  She's taking a book to read in the car and her school work.

What am I going to do?  She'll be fine, but I'm going to miss her terribly.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Payoffs! Proud Mama Moment

I was sitting in the church foyer, waiting for Mercedes and Jared to finish with Primary (the children's auxiliary program) so we could go home.  Mercedes came out, very politely asked her teacher if she could talk to me, and told me all about Gideon, the Old Testament hero of Judges. 

I was tickled that she remembered the story, that she knew where to find it in her copy of the Bible, and that she remembered the point of the story. 

(Tried to post this from my cell phone, but for some reason it didn't post.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What times work best for your homeschool?

I'm up late with my kids again, helping them get their work done.  We're still figuring out how to get all the things done that need to be done before bedtime every day.  The kids have discovered the art of procrastination.  And since I'm a single, homeschooling, working mother, I'm busy from sunrise to sunrise. 

I know a lot of parents do school first thing in the morning.  That's never worked well for us - partly because I'm NOT a morning person, and don't see the need to force that on my kids. 

So we're experimenting with evening school.  My thought was that they'd be physically tired at the end of the day and ready for some mental work. 

As long as the TV is off, this seems to work OK.  So far. 

I'm hoping it will be like my routine of leaving the house clean before bed.  And maybe they'll get tired of doing all the work at night and choose to do more in the morning.  The goal is simply to get them to get their work done before they are allowed to go to bed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

John Adams once wrote to his wife, Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more
OK, so he was off by 2 days.  It took the Second Continmental Congress till July 4 to approve the Declaration.  He was right on most of the rest.

This is the great anniversary festival.  I will be honoring the sacrifices made by the Founders as well as my beloved family, by reading the Declaration of Independence to my children.  I'll also be pondering what triggered the Revolution. 

It wasn't like John and Sam Adams woke up one morning and decided to start a war.  The Revolution took many years of simmering and attempts at diplomacy.  Americans began to see themselves as Americans and not as British subjects only after years of being treated with contempt by George III and his parliament.

I have to keep reminding myself not to discuss politics on this blog.  This is about homeschool.  And July 4 is a good time to re-read the Declaration and remember who we are, where we come from, and why we are Americans today.

America!  God shed His grace on thee!

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Teaching Responsibility

I got so tickled with my kids tonight.  Here's a mama brag story for you!  We got home after a long day at work/play and needed to clean the house before bed.  I'm a freak about it, because, really, that's the only time I have to clean and then I know it will be neat for a few hours.

Mercedes promptly started unloading the dishwasher, Jared took the garbage out and sorted the laundry, I handwashed a few dishes and sharp knives, and Mercedes swept and mopped the kitchen and the dining room.


I love that spending so much time together leads to such enthusiastic kids.  They see how hard I work, and they're quick to respond with help! 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident

This week is leading up to Independence Day. 

Every year, I read my kids the Declaration of Independence.  Have you read it lately?  I developed the habit when I was living in Germany, a military wife.  If you really want to see a 4th of July party, go to any overseas military post.  They KNOW what they're celebrating.  They take it very seriously. 

The base commander read the Declaration aloud to the gathered families and soldiers. The Stars and Stripes was presented and saluted, and pledged allegiance to.  Each State flag was presented in the order they entered the Union.  We had an artillery unit providing the cannon fire for Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.  Which was played by the army band.  Amazing. 

Remembering that 4th of July at Wuerzburg, Germany, I get teary eyed over and over again.  I still know the Preambles to both the Declaration and the Constitution by heart. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And for these reason, for these documents, for the ideas and ideals of liberty and freedom, the men in my family have been willing to give "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."  That is what I teach my children.  There really are some things worth giving everything for.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bedtimes in the Summer

I don't know quite what to do in the summer time.  The kids want to play until dark most days - and I really want to let them.  But then they're tired and they don't want to get up in the mornings.  Or they do get up at first light and I'm not ready to get up yet.

Winter is so much easier, because it is dark when it's bedtime, but I'd rather let them play and get worn out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mercedes is up late...

She's up working on school work.  I love it. 

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mine's not doing so well. 

We live in a townhome with no back yard, just a concrete slab.  Barely enough room to grill on.  So I am trying (again) to grow a container garden.  

My herbs seem to be doing well - cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary, basil, dill - and my tomatoes are doing OK,  but a caterpillar or two got into one of my lettuce containers and enjoyed some good salad.  The lettuces are not growing very fast. 

I had planted some garlic in a couple of containers, and the lettuce with garlic has been left alone.  I wonder if garlic helps keep bugs out of the garden?  If it does, then next year I'm planting tons of it.

One of my pepper pots is doing great.  I'm excited to see new peppers starting to come on, the cucumber is blooming, and the tomatoes are looking promising.  But my poor lettuce!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Getting ready for a new year

Yes, just like everyone else, I've got to get ready for the new school year.  I love back to school sales (which will start next month) - I stock up like mad on art supplies and pencils. 

This time of year, I start considering what the kids have learned last year, and what I want them to learn.  Mercedes is behind on math, so I want her to move forward a bit quicker to catch up with her peers, yet still master the material.  Jared is a bit behind where I'd like him to be on reading, so what can I do to help him move forward more quickly?  Maybe he's bored with phonics and can just read....I was reading at 3, and he's always been fascinated with books, so it's possible.

Where are we in history?  What needs to be covered? 

Then there's consideration of curriculum.  What do I need to purchase over the summer that will have us ready to go in August and September? 

It's so easy to get overwhelmed in all the curriculum fairs and in others' opinions. What is important is to have a general map of what you want to teach your child, and then start considering how you want to get there.  What sounds good to Diane Hopkins may not be where I want to go with my kids (but I do buy my curriculum from her). 

Time to start planning! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Challenges of Being a Single, Homeschooling Mom

Right now, with working full time, and cleaning house, and generally living as a single, homeschooling mama, some of the formal part of the kids' education is going by the wayside.  We still go to the library, and I encourage them to sit under a tree (now that it's FINALLY warm outside!) to read, and I help with math when they ask, but it's challenging to "do school" in a formal way at all.

Some days are left almost entirely to play.  The kids get up at the very crack of dawn. Now that school is out, their friends are out playing nearly at sunrise, so I shoo mine out to play too.  Partly so I can get another few minutes of sleep.  Partly so I can stagger to the shower and get ready for work without worrying about them every minute.  Or having Mercedes study the way I do my hair and makeup.  It's unnerving at 8am.  (I am emphatically NOT a morning person.  Mornings would be great if they just came in the afternoon.)  Or having the kids at my elbow asking me if I want a fresh Diet Coke.

It's challenging sometimes to hear about 13 year olds headed off to college and wondering if I'm failing my kids because I'm determined to keep them home.  I'm reviewing my goals for my kids and determining what reality looks like for us.  It's not going to look the same as it does for my married friends where mama is the homemaker and the kids go to public school.  It's not going to look the same as my married friends who homeschool their kids because daddy is there and makes a bunch of money so mama can stay home with the kids, either.  No, in my family, everything falls on my shoulders.

There are things the kids need to learn for themselves.  One is self discipline.  No, you cannot go outside to play until your schoolwork is done, and that is written on the white board. Doing what you enjoy means getting through things you don't care for too much.  Example:  I like to cook.  I hate to clean.  But if I want to cook, I have to have a clean kitchen to do it in.  So I have to clean the kitchen. 

Another is routine.  Habits will make you or break you.  Get up, do your morning routine - and for my homeschooled kids, that should include reading, writing, 'rithmatic, and history.  C'mon kidlets, that can be done in an hour or two!  We're also working on routines of cleaning the house before bedtime.  That was a lot easier in the winter, when they were in by 5 because it was dark.  It's a bit more challenging now - but then again, they're OUT of the house all day, instead of making a mess inside.  That's a plus!

Are there any other single parents (or not single!) who have some ideas on how to maximize the kids' education without sacrificing my health, or putting them in public schools?  I'd love to know!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It Only Takes 15 Minutes

Kids love timers.  I love Flylady for teaching me about timers. 

Kids also love routines.

I'm finding that if I tell the kids what they need to do before they go outside to play, and how long they need to spend, they're more inclined to do it.

Jared's pretty tied to the timer right now.  Mercedes will continue working until she's done.  But they both like knowing that they are only required to spend 15 minutes, and that there is an end in sight.  It's hard to do something like clean your room if you can't see the end.  But it's easy to pick up 10 things, or spend 15 minutes on a list of tasks.

(They have to spend a minimum of 15 minutes per school subject, for those topics we don't do as a unit study.)

I spent 15 minutes cleaning up my living room last night.  It was completely trashed when I started, but I decided to use my timer for 15 minutes and then go do something else for 15 minutes.  It was amazing how much work I could get done in that limited amount of time!  Sames goes for the kids.

15 minutes is enough for a full chapter of math (at this level). 

15 minutes is enough to practice reading to Mom.

15 minutes is enough to write spelling words.
It's not so short that you can't get anything done, and not so long as to be overwhelming.  And if they're interested in what they're doing and want to keep going, well, there's always another 15 minutes!

Thanks, Flylady!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"But I Got the Grade...."

My Mercedes is struggling with getting into a schoolwork routine.  One of the things she had to do on a daily basis is math.  She's a little behind right now, but she's got the concepts down pat, and I'm so proud of her for that. 

The other day, I was talking to one of the neighborhood kids, who informed me that she didn't need to learn math because she'd already gotten the grade.  So learning it doesn't matter.

Is THIS what the public schools are instilling in our kids?  Once you get the grade, you're done? 

I do think it is.  I was reflecting over my formal education, and I can't even count the number of times I've heard people of all ages say basically the same thing. 

Adults saying (with pride, no less) that they've never picked up a book outside the schoolroom.  Never mind that the point of taking English lit was to learn from it as well as enjoy it.  They got the grade, and besides, Lord of the Rings is now a movie series. 

Moms who brag that they can't even balance a checkbook because they didn't bother studying math in high school.  And they got good grades, no less.  But that was 25 years ago....

We're shortchanging our youth and ourselves if this is the attitude we have. 

Why bother learning then?

Why bother trying so hard to educate our children, if it's just about "making the grade"?

I've spent a lot of my time pointing out to my kids that I make my living doing math (I'm a bookkeeper and executive assistant).  I have them shop with me at the grocery stores, and discuss how to figure out what a good deal looks like.  I've capitalized their budding businesses so they would learn what a profit margin is.

I let them see me read (and I am a big reader - if I don't have a book in my hand, I'm probably working or sleeping).  I talk to them about WHY I read.  I enjoy it!  I learn how other people think.  It's a magic carpet ride to other cultures, times, and places. 

I let them see me keeping my personal journals and blogging.  Is writing clearly important?  You bet!  I've talked to them about the importance of being able to make an intelligent, thoughtful business proposal. 

It's not about the grades, at all.  It's not about the test.  It's about instilling a love of learning that will last them all their lives.  That's an attitude that no grade can replace.   And that may not be measurable. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

My kidlings are at their father's house for the weekend.  Happy Father's Day to all you dads!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Young College Students

A friend posted this story on Facebook.  It's about a 13 year old girl who is finished with high school, wants to attend the local community college, and has been denied solely due to her age.  The college administrators don't think she's ready to sit in classrooms with older students. 

My question, on reading this, is what is the point of denying this young lady the opportunity to finish her education (if education is ever finished, but that's another post) because an administrator just thinks 13 year olds are "not ready" for college work?  If she's finished high school (yes, she's home schooled) then she's already demonstrated her readiness.

What's more, the story states that the administrators changed their policies to only allow 15 and up after this young lady was denied. 

When Megan was denied entry to Lake-Sumter last fall, there was no formal rule stipulating that applicants be of a certain age to gain admission. Charles Mojock, president at Lake-Sumter, told Inside Higher Ed that the college has long had an informal minimum age requirement of 15 but that a rule was only drafted following Megan's complaint. In April, the college's Board of Trustees unanimously approved a change to its rules stating that the college "accepts all students who have reached the age of fifteen (15) years on or before the first day of classes each term" and have either earned a high school diploma, a General Equivalency Diploma, previously completed college-level work or completed a home-school program. There is a clause in the rule change that allows for the president to grant exceptions.
Why 15?  What is magic about that number?  A young lady wishing to attend at 13 is an exception to the rule in any case, and if she's completed her homeschool program, she's ready.

Ironically, most of the major colleges, including my alma mater, Brigham Young University, actively and gladly recruit homeschooled students, citing an increased readiness for life on campus.  Community colleges, in contrast, are open campuses, with no dorms.  Students don't live on campus like I did at BYU.  So if she's living with her parents, does it matter which school she attends, so long as she's academically challenged?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Abby Sunderland

I was listening to the radio the other day when a local DJ came on and suggested that the Sunderland family was "Balloon  Boy part 2."


I was so tickled to hear about a 16 year old girl, with tons of experience on the ocean, whose father is a shipwright and whose older brother also captains his own yacht, attempting to circumnavigate the globe.  Yes, she ran into trouble on the Indian Ocean.  But even the most experienced sailors run into trouble from time to time.  She kept her head, did what she was trained to do, and came out just fine.

And now her parents are being attacked for "putting her in danger."  She's 16, for crying out loud.  She can get a driver license.  That's statistically a lot more dangerous than sailing around the world.

Why do we allow society to determine what's best for our kids?  I'm in favor of free range kids, where children are taught step by step how to behave, what safety rules they need to follow, with the goal of letting them fly the nest well prepared for their lives.

Too many young people today are leaving for college without a clue of how to do anything much for themselves.  Abby Sunderland is a young woman who is setting a standard of how to live your dreams, and how to behave when things do go wrong.

Her parents have done a terrific job with this young lady, and they should be justifiably proud of the way she's handling herself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Personality quirks

I get so tickled at Mercedes.  She is so her own little person (not so little anymore at 9). She's definately a neat freak - tonight she didn't go to bed until 11:30 because she wanted to make sure the house was clean before she went to sleep.  Her bedroom is kept very neat and clean.  Also, because she's so competitive, she spent half an hour extra working on her math while I was blogging.  Just for fun, let me point out that her Sun sign is Taurus - stubborn, bull headed, and very sensual, liking things "just so" and disliking things out of order.  Her idea of "homeschool" is rather rigid "school at home," working on certain projects at certain times, and finishing her day with a good book in bed.   She reminds me of the "Story About Ferdinand."  She's perfectly content to sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers.  Unless she gets stung, then watch out!

Jared, on the other hand, is a Pisces.  What a riot.  He just floats around doing things boys do.  He's not into structure at all.  In fact, school irritated him the few days he went - he complained that they had all these games stacked up but wouldn't let anyone play with them.  Made no sense to him at all, and he was relieved to come back home. He's one to wake me up the second the sun breaks over the mountains because it's time to go play.  Forget eating, sleeping, being clean - he's busy!  He's got mudpies to make, snakes to watch, grasshoppers to catch, and friends to play with.  Read?  Um, well, Mom can read to him while he's in the tub, because he's got too much else to do.  Unless it's raining, and then he's happy to curl up with a good book. Sometimes he just sits and thinks, and then he tells me some of the funniest things (and I'll post them later.)

Me?  I'm the rather lassaiz-faire Aquarius mom.  One of the best ways I've heard Aquarius described is a "bouncing crystal ball."  And that's me.  It's a good thing I'm required to do school at home, because that would drive me up the wall and across the ceiling in a week. I like to suggest activities for the kids, and then let them try by themselves.  I'm glad to help, but I want them to learn to do things on their own., and to ask for help when they need it.

And it all works.  Mercedes reads very well.  Jared reads quite well, but he needs more practice because he doesn't want to read anything challenging.  They're both on track with math, but they need some more consistency. 

It's all an adventure, and I'm glad I'm on it with these great kids. 

The Grandchildren are Sleeping Over

Today I have my 2 little grandsons spending the night.  Usually they're lovely.  Levi, however, is not settling down for the night well.  He insisted that he doesn't love his Grandma and wiped off all my kisses.  What a turkey!  I sure enjoy my grandkids.

Monday, June 14, 2010

William Shakespeare

Mercedes has discovered the joys of William Shakespeare and his plays, and she's only 9.  Recently, we saw A Midsummer Night Dream at the local library.  I think that really brought out the fun of Shakespeare for my girl.  (Jared proclaimed it "boring" since it didn't have enough blood and gore for him.  I think I should introduce hm to Macbeth.)

She's now found a mini-biography of the Bard to read.  She likes reading his early plays, and is anxious to be able to act them out.  I think she wants to play Juliet.

What's fun for me is that I didn't learn about Shakespeare or his plays until 9th or 10th grade, although I also read the story (not the play) of Midsummer at an early age.  He's just not discussed until high school, which is  a shame because some of his plays are just so fun!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Parental authority

We skipped church this morning (for a number of reasons - no car, overtired Mom, bad weather, no car.  Did I mention no car?  My minivan died and it was going to cost more to repair than to replace, so we got rid of it.   Unfortunately, it hasn't been replaced yet.

Anyway, since I'm divorced from my kidlets' dad, I hate for them to miss.  (Fortunately, he takes them also, so I guess it's not that bad of a thing.)

Mercedes has chosen to spend her morning reading her scriptures.  She's 9, and reading the King James version of the Bible.  I think she's in Genesis, following my explanation of how to tell a story.  "Begin at the beginning, and when you come to the end, stop."  She's also working on some drawings to show our friend Rochelle, who just graduated from UVU with a degree in art.  Rochelle is going to give her some guidance as she fills her sketch pad.

Jared is my cuddle bug.  He's always wanting to snuggle up with me. I'm trying to get him to go play with Legos and toys.  He's quite an engineer, always building me spaceships! 

One of the reasons I started homeschooling was because I wanted more of this closeness with my kids.  Public school undermined my parental authority with my older children - they were taught that if I ever got angry with them, or tried to discipline them in any way, that was "child abuse" and they were to call the police.  As a result, I lost most of the closeness we had previously enjoyed.  How could I be close to kids who were being taught that I was the enemy?  How could they be close to me if they had to watch every move I made?  Natural, normal affection - hugs, squeezes - was suddenly molestation.  Putting them in time-out was abuse.  How could we be normal with each other?

Having my younger kids with me is priceless. 

And you know, if I'm making mistakes, at least I'm making fresh new mistakes.  I sent the three older ones to public school.  That was a mistake.  I'm keeping the younger ones home.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little boys say the funniest things!

Jared (7) asked for a bottle of Axe shampoo.  It's branded as being helpful for attracting girls, which is what Jared wanted it for.  At 7!  Oh, my I am in trouble!

He just got out of the tub, so I smelled him and told him how good he smelled. and how much I wanted to kiss him.  "That Axe must work, son, you smell so good!"

He just laughed at me and told me I was silly.

Cleaning house the Flylady way!

At some point, I suppose I should clean up the house today,  It's so challenging to find time to get things done these days - by the time homeschooling done (the formal part) and I've gone to work and come home I'm wiped out. 

The only program I've found that remotely works for me is Flylady.  Her motto?  You can do anything for 15 minutes!  Now *somewhere* here I have a timer that I bought from her.  It is amazing how much you can do in just 15 minutes.  My 3 bedroom townhouse takes less than 2 hours to deep clean, IF I spend a full 15 minutes on each room.  The kids learn quick that they can focus on 15 minutes per subject (longer if they're into it, but at least 15 minutes). 

I can focus on writing if I just get started and write for 15 minutes - or brainstorm ideas for blog posts.  I have lots of ideas, but I have a hard time putting them into action.  By focusing on one thing for 15 minutes, I can get more done in less time.

The other half of her program that I'm implementing is routines.  Making a habit one month at a time.  I'm finally getting into the habit of making my bed - although my mom tried for years to instill that one in me.  Routines help the kids so much, by simply making it easy for them to remember what they need to do next.  If it's bedtime, we get a bath, pajamas on, teeth brushed, straighten up rooms, kiss from Mom (along with prayers etc), and go to sleep.  I'm working on leaving my home tidy before bed - sink shined, dishes done, garbage out, and living room straightened.  Then I don't wake to the demoralization of a wreck first thing in the morning.

Unfortunately, training my adult daughter has been more of a challenge than training the little kids (sorry, Krista).  I didn't have Flylady when she was little, so I'm hoping that as I get the routines in place, I'll also start getting more help.  It feels worse to leave a mess in a clean area than it does to make more of a mess in a messy area. 

Here's hoping!

Saturday is a Special Day!

It should be the day we spend getting ready for Sunday, but the kids spent the day outside playing.  I mean literally all day, even though it was wet and rainy all day.  Mercedes woke me up to ask if she could play with her friends.  It's nearly 8:30 pm and they're starting to come in from play.  It's really been a solid 10 hours!

Jared came in when it started raining and told me where Mercedes was (at a friend's house), took a warm bath, refreshed himself, and found someone else to play with after the rain stopped. 

It's almost a shame, really.  They play so hard on Saturday because their friends are so heavily scheduled all week with school and lessons that they have no time to play.  I hope things get better now that summer vacation is here.  Kids need time to play.

We're loving homeschooling!

Whenever I have a friend ask me why I homeschool, I tell myself that I cannot do any worse than the public schools.  I'm lucky enough to live in an area that permits me to dual-enroll my children as they get older; there are plenty of opportunities for community sports, dance, and music outside of school; and I don't fret about socialization at all.  Mercedes is a social butterfly, and Jared is close to becoming one as well.  They have plenty of friends through church and community activities.

I was tickled at Mercedes' wanting to do math until 1am.  She brags to her friends that she's allowed to do homeschool or reading activities all night if she chooses - she just has to get up on time.  She's very competitive about her school work (we're sort of eclectic - some school at home, classical home school activities such as math, phonics, and history, lots of unstructured stuff).

Jared is fascinated with his Legos right now, as well as magnets. 

They both speak Spanish as well as English, thanks to their Mexican father.  One of his friends is German, so I hope she'll teach them German as well.  

I'm looking forward to posting more about their activities and accomplishments.