Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For some reason I can't figure out how to post an excel spreadsheet to my blog, anyone know how to do this?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
B and I packed the bare minimum of clothing with very different stratagies. I assumed we'd take lots of pictures and selected more presentable outfits. B, ever the pragmatist, brought mostly what he would leave behind. Almost worn out? Pack it! Hate that shirt? Bring it- I'll leave it in OR. We brought our cast iron skillet and no other kitchen supplies. I brought my sewing machines and he brought very few personal belongings. I shipped two boxes of school books to my friend. Our car looked like it would explode if we put one more thing in there! (We are getting a rack and cargo box for the trip back to Phoenix). We assumed we could furnish our apartment mostly with 2nd hand items! The thrift stores out here are awesome! We had a friend lend us a couch and we bought a laptop and printer out here. Since we will take the electronics home with us, I'm not including it in our overall spending. We furnished our apartment- for about $1000. That paid for pans, dishes, storage containers, cooking utensils, stereo, table and chairs, coffee table, stereo table, dresser, 3 kid mattresses (new), 1 king size mattress set, vacuum cleaner, some clothes for the family, and 2 air conditioners. None of the items are made out of particle board (yuck!). I am amazed at how well we did and the kids learned some valuable lessons on budgeting and what you can buy used and what should be purchased new.
Z & O enjoy the library
D, F, O, & Z enjoy the beautiful flowers at the Rhodedendron Garden in Portland, OR
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Hmm. What's that I see?
B and my favorite. I like the old Stingrays too. We are not really Corvette-philes, but F has taught us to appreciate them.
Now, let me tell you about my car....
F's favorite (aside from the Stingrays). He liked the way it opened up.
He thought this one looked like Ramon, from Cars.
Lunch at a nearby diner
B & O
D & O
F & O
On Oct 4th, we had a very simple friend party at a nearby park. Z & F each had a small group of friends come. They played happily on the equipment and splashed in the spray pad. This party was by far the easiest and most laid back party we've had yet for Z & F. O even enjoyed himself.
As I look back over the last almost 8 years, I am so thankful and happy with how blessed my life has been. My children are amazing. They have taught me lessons, I would never learned without them. I have a compassionate and loving husband, who encourages me to be my best. I have supportive and caring friends. The past 8 years have not always been easy, especially with all the moves we've made, but I have always been blessed at each point along the way.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Z got to adopt a humming bird, she named Zoe and released it.
F also had a turn.
After visiting the bird preserve, we stopped at Mag Pies pizza in Tucson on the way home. YUMM! It was a cool, clear night, we ate in their fenced in patio and O could run and play while we waited for our pizzas. It was such a relief to leave Pheonix behind and go somewhere a tiny bit cooler.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Ok, so this is a long one, but after a month and questions from friends I thought I'd share some of my homeschooling information.
We are homeschooling Z and F right now and so far I am enjoying the experience. I am not using a specific curriculum this year, but I have done a lot of reading about the educational process for Z's grade level and for F, I remember the activities they did at the parent cooperative preschools we attended in California and Oregon. A friend of mine in California who homeschooled her 3 girls, recommended that I not purchase curriculum the first year. Instead, she said to borrow it, use the library, or piece it together. The benefit is that we are not out a lot of money and that we will learn through trial and error, what works for us. Here are the books I have read and I am currently using.
Raising Lifelong Learners by Lucy Calkins and ?
Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piagets Theory.... by Constance Kammi and ?
The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise
The Story of The World by Susan Wise Bauer?---we use this for history
First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise----we use this for grammar
Brain Quest work books from Costco-----just in case I miss something
Z already reads, so reading is whatever book she desires to work on
What your (whatever grade child) needs to know, Ed Hirsch?
Girl Scout handbooks
I have a little morning circle time where we read a few scriptures, sing silly songs, introduce counting in German, and read a fun novel.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Nate the Great
Junie B Jones
American Girls series
these are books and authors that we enjoy reading aloud- for this age group There are many more, but for the sake of time they will wait for another day.
Trisha Kuffner has great books on activities to do w/ various age groups and are in the play based learning school of thought.
How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk is an excellent book to read too.
There are so many curricula and homeschool philosophies out there on the market. What I did, so I would not be confused, was to figure out how kids learn and what is age/developmentally appropriate. Then I started to research the pros/cons of homeschooling and pick the brains of my friends who have done it through high school and those that are juggling young children. After all this, I tackled the educational philosophies of homeschoolers- so I would know what books would be appropriate and so I could analyze the various curriculum available. I attended a homeschool conference- to learn how to do it, what resources and support networks were available, and to see the curriculum in the exhibit hall. I'll give you a brief rundown of what I've learned, but if you are planning to homeschool you will want to do something similar so you can tailor it to your family. I also have my time (7 years combined between F & Z) with the parent co-op preschools to draw on plus my time volunteering in the public schools.
If you want to attend a parent cooperative preschool, here is some info. These are a marriage of homeschooling and public schools that I love. Pick a school that focuses on play-based learning- no worksheets, drills, or overly structured schedules. Look for a rich language development environment- pretend play, story telling, various ways to express ideas, art, emphasis on social conflict resolution skills that empower the child, etc. Most of these kids will go on to public schools, but it will give you experience/practice at these skills and exposure to a broad spectrum of age appropriate behaviors and expectations.
My experiences from these schools are part of the filter I use to evaluate educational materials. Developmentally, up until age 8 research shows (I don't have specific studies on hand, but could find some if you would like) that children learn and retain knowledge best through play. Around age 8, play supplements learning and eventually becomes secondary to learning by the teenage years. So I look for activities that are fun and reinforce what we are learning in our lessons. For example- we are learning about nouns and Z is bored out of her skull with them, but it is necessary to know what kinds of nouns are out there. I've been making up mad libs to reinforce which kinds of nouns are out there. We use art to illustrate poems she is memorizing. We could act out or pretend to be characters in a book to learn about history or a specific topic. Since Z loves to read I have her read Magic School Bus books for science or a nature walk and journal time for observation and recording skills. Cooking projects for math and sequence lessons. For F we encourage him to use scissors, modeling play dough to tell stories, take a writers walk. He loves cars. We use them to introduce reading, letters, classification, and sorting skills. We also have memberships to several museums, the zoo, the botanical gardens, and the YMCA. We go to the library story time once a week.
***Here is an important piece of advice: Keep your schedule and curriculum simple! Try to get organized before you begin homeschooling, because life is about to get busy! Watch your pennies it is way too easy to spend money, especially during difficult times. Give yourself a few years to feel completely comfortable.***
Pro/Con of homeschooling that I considered before I decided to homeschool the kids:
Pros- socialization, time w/ kids, flexibility, less hectic schedules, museums, you teach your values, family closeness, life experiences, consistent education, foster a love of learning.... and much more.
Cons/worries- mom burnout, juggling requirements on your time, changing my expectations for school memories, finding time to prepare lessons, isolation for you- you need to find other moms and kids for support, managing a balance between social activities and academics. Unclear boundaries with children, discipline issues, and power struggles (general parenting issues).
For my friends considering homeschooling:
Know why you are doing it- lots of well intentioned people will say-good for you, I could never do it. I don't have the patience to teach my child. What about socialization? This one is asked in many ways- are your kids enrolled in outside activities? etc be prepared with a simple pleasant or funny answer. Mine is: I get my kids when they are crabby at the end of the day, no matter what. Now I have them when they are fun and pleasant and I have good memories to go w/ the difficult ones. We have the opportunity to go on field trips, museums, and attend classes we never had before. We are having so much fun! or I simply say we move frequently and this will give consistency to their education. If someone is interested, I could go more in depth on the social reasons that influenced my decision to homeschool, political, economic, cultural, character development, and so on. Honestly though, most people don't care, want to know, or hear these reasons and I don't feel the need to make my friends uncomfortable or defensive, by questioning their parenting choices.
What many people don't realize is that if you are an involved parent, then most of parenting is homeschooling. For me, it was a relief to figure this out and appreciate how teaching my children is a natural progression of the nurturing and teaching I did w/ my kids as babies. It's not as though babies fall out of the sky without a way to learn about their world. We can teach our children and we do- whether intentional or unintentional.
Know what your state law requires you to do and turn in.
Interview your friends, contact friends that were homeschooled themselves and question them about their experience, read, find a local homeschool association.
Simple intro to homeschooling philosophies (I am sure I will leave many out, I seem to have done a mental flush of unnecessary information, since this summer. Blame it on the triple digit, AZ heat!):
1. unschooling- a laisez faire approach to education. totally child directed. Pro- the child leads and the parent follows it is the ultimate in learning through play/experience (appealing)
2. Charlotte Mason-uses short lessons, lots of nature walks, observation, copy work, and developmentally appropriate materials.
3. Classical or trivium-(see the well trained mind) a program that repeats subjects every few years with increasing depth. The belief is that children go through 3 stages: grammar-up to age 8 kids are like sponges, need to be exposed to many subjects in an orderly fashion. this is a time for exposure to topics. logic : 8-12 or 14 kids are beginning to understand reason and debate and this is the second round of exposure to material. The final stage, rhetoric, is in the teen years where kids can understand and craft arguments and learn the material for the third time in depth.
4. Unit studies- teach math, science, reading, etc through a single topic- ie. Egypt, music, art, farm visit.
5. Better late than never- delay education until child is ready, usually 8-10 years old.
6. Living Books- uses great literature to teach and provoke discussion.
7. Text books/ Computers- more like school.
Most people use a combination of approaches depending on their children. I have really enjoyed the few books I have read that come from teachers at Columbia Teacher's College.
Curriculum for us this year and then what I am thinking about for next year:
Language arts: First Language Lessons -this is simple, uses materials I have at home, and geared toward homeschoolers.
Raising Lifelong Learners has great ideas on writing and reading
Read along Handbook by Jim Trelease
Reading: Classic children's literature to read aloud, books on CD from the library w/ corresponding book, and whatever the kids check out and desire to read.
Early readers for F- Bob books, Dr. Seuss, scriptures, anything with corvettes in it, environmental literature-signs etc
Math: Young Children reinvent Arithmetic- uses games to teach and retain mathematical skills, cooking, Brain Quest workbook (has other subjects as well) from Costco, story problems, grocery shopping trips.
Science: Through literature, observational skills through field trips. Cooking and other kitchen experiments.
Social Studies: Story of the world- nomadic through ancient times. Tells the story of history in several time chunks. You can also purchase an activity guide too. Kids enjoy it.
Girl Scouts- gs meetings and at home use handbook for fun and simple activities
PE: we are in several YMCA classes. I work out once or twice a week during the kids' classes, swimming, and park outings.
Next year: I am probably going to purchase several curricula and am pondering my options.
For Math: Singapore Math- uses lots of story problems and has a strong emphasis on logic and reason skills. (often people will get Horizon math or Saxon Math, but after reading the book by Constance Kammii, I am hesitant to go w/ a total drill/memorization method). I have seen playful learning work well for math at the preschools so I am trying to find a good balance. F loves workbooks so he'll get more game time to work on logic and reason skills.
For everything else I am considering a living books approach because I want the kids to read great books and use them as a venue for discussion and introducing other subjects. One company I have found that has an interesting curriculum is sonlight. It does not seem over the top and focuses on great books- already picked out, lesson guides, and activity books included. It would be adaptable to my desire for the kids to also learn through play.
I don't know for certain if that is what I am going to do yet. I am also interested in Charlotte Mason.
I plan to supplement this with my current- Monday-museums and Friday-friend/fieldtrip days. We will go to the library once a week during story time. PE will be the same. This is all a work in progress. I'll keep you posted what I end up doing.
In the next few postings I'll include pictures from the kids' family b-day celebration and presents. We are trying something new this year.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Instead, he surprised me with a clean house.
Kitchen counters clean and clear.
Living room picked up.
12 loads of clean laundry sorted and almost put away.
He does this because he knows it makes me happy and calm to tame our chaotic house. I am a very fortunate woman.
He supports me and all my fanciful daydreams.
I am a fortunate woman. I have what I always believed a marriage should be. A partnership, unconditional love, a dear friend, an equal, and a companion. He keeps me grounded with love and the same time encourages me to persue my dreams.