Thursday, November 29

Let's Do This

This Saturday,
December 1st.

You are invited to an Open House
between 11 and 12 noon
in which we will celebrate Ancient Rome,
share our discoveries,
and show our Big Book of Rome project.

We'll make it brief because we're kids you know.

(Right now, my kids are excited, but they often get stage fright. I'll make some goodies so if Rome falls between now and then we can at least sit around and chat.)

Leave a comment if you think you'd like to come and we'll be sure to be in costume.

Tuesday, November 20


Okay, so today it's 11:45 and we haven't gotten half as far as we did yesterday. And, again, I can blame the baby.

His nap schedule is changing. He's been rapidly moving to one nap a day. For a good week or two he has been keeping his morning nap, but as of right now there is no nap in sight. B has finished much of his school for the day. J is close behind. Everyone is taking a break right now.

It's not all the baby's fault. Today J was totally into his very cool multiplication game that he spent 30 minutes on it mastering the 8 and 9 tables. And he was so enraptured by the book he's reading that he wanted to get through three chapters instead of one. Which is precisely the point of doing this at home. I'm glad he took advantage of that freedom to do more than what's expected and to follow his passions.

So, today we're going to have to finish after lunch and it is okay.

In between baking pies, making rolls, figuring out some good dessert a diabetic can eat and packing for an overnighter...somehow, we'll get it all finished. And it will turn out just fine.

Monday, November 19

Mixing it up

Flexibility rather than rigidity is becoming, more and more, the tone of our schooling. It takes a few years to really get on your feet in this endeavor. And reprogramming myself away from classroom methodology is half the battle. Now, there’s something to be said for structuring so that you can get through it all during the day and we actually do have a pattern we follow: Bible, Book time (Social Studies or Science lesson), Activity, Math, and Stations (Penmanship, Language Arts, Reading, Memory Verse, Vocabulary/Spelling, Unit Study, Creative Drawing, & Phonics practice.) My idea was to do these stations last because the boys actually love them the most. But after today, I’m beginning to question this rationale. And the baby made me do it.

Our little S is sweet and fun and just about the time we begin for the day at 9:00 or so, he decides it’s time to wrestle. If we three cozy up on the couch for book time, he’s GOT to be there too. If we try to do an activity on the floor (such as the big book we’re making for our Ancient Rome Unit), he’s ALL over it. And forget about thinking during Bible time. Once our little man decides to take a nap, however, we get a TON of stuff done and enjoy the process a lot more as well.

So, today we worked with the baby instead of in spite of him. And it was a good day. The boys did math first today… because they like the computer games they get to play to go along with it. And the baby and I played. Then they began the stations that didn’t require my help and I changed the baby and cleaned up a bit. Then as we were sitting down to do a project about the Roman roads together, the baby wandered off to destroy something in the boys’ room. And he fell asleep on the floor in the middle of his mess. Too cute. We happily put him in his crib to finish his nap and completed the rest of school without a hitch and before lunchtime.


Other homeschool proponents say that it’s possible to teach toddlers not to interrupt and to even play happily on the floor at your feet with blocks while you teach. I say, “I’d like to visit your planet sometime.” Doing what’s natural to the child’s rhythms seems to make a whole lot more sense to me.

Saturday, November 17


Forgive me if I'm breaking some code of ethics here. I'm not sure what the blogging law is for sharing stuff someone else wrote. But if I only put a link to it, you might not click on it and you might not read this list that in many ways speaks for my critical side.

I'll put a link at the end to make us all feel better.

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

By Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.
3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.
6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.
12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.
14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.
18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.
22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

I'm printing this puppy out to serve as my new muse. And, call me crazy, but I think I found that magazine I was hoping for.

Friday, November 16

Yeah, for Root Words!

J and I have been exploring Latin roots this week. I think it's totally fun. I don't know if he's enjoying it quite so much, but he's catching on. This week it was "ped" which translates as foot. Yep, you can think of about a dozen words utilizing ped and having something to do with feet.

Now, I've just found my new favorite thing. I get to practice my skills AND feed the world. Yee Haw!

Check this out. I didn't know that I didn't know what "claptrap" or "equivocal" meant. Then again I totally guessed on "riposte" and got it right. And, to make my pastoral friends happy, I totally nailed "tithe."

Of course, you can always go to this site to do something similar. My young kids like this one. But their English-major-Mom likes doing something good for others and something good for me at the same time. Something totally cool about that.

Thursday, November 15

Why I'm Letting my Subscription Expire... The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

1. One issue included an article about the band and homeschool alumni, Barlow Girl. The next issue, they printed a letter that criticized their choice and Barlow Girl, not for their message but for their T-shirts in the picture. Rather than say, we printed it because there are homeschoolers out there who gain encouragement from seeing what homeschool alumni are doing for the Kingdom, instead they said something about being too busy to take note of the offending picture and actually claimed they didn't know it would be printed... yadda, yadda. Lots of back peddling and run-on sentences and really, no integrity. Huh? Aren't you the publisher?

2. They support the Pearls...who I won't link to because their philosophies repulse me that much.

3. The perspective keeps changing from grace to legalism and they can't decide what side of the fence they want to be on.

4. Scripture is taken out of context just too dang often.

5. The design is completely confusing. White space is non-existent, my eye can't rest anywhere and so it just adds to my anxiety when I read it.

6. The entire thing is so full of advertising. It's materialism at its most Christian.

I could go on.

If you know of another homeschooling magazine out there, let me know. I'm totally in the market for something with fresh methods, grace-filled perspective and less run-on sentences.

Sunday, November 11

The Bubble... part deux

So my oldest son, who is 8, was looking for something this weekend and when he couldn't find it he said, "D**n it!"
I looked at him -- stunned.
"What did you say?"
He REPEATED himself. Totally clueless that he was cursing, clueless as to what cursing even was.
"Um, that's not a word we should say. Where did you learn that word?"
He couldn't remember.
[yeah, right]
I finally got him to tell me... a Batman comic book.
Dang it.

There's more.

Today he was playing with the neighborhood boys.
[you think you know what's coming, but you don't!]
J calls their "meeting" to order.
He tells them, "These are bad words..." and he repeats the word that he was supposed to never utter again and then adds "stupid" and "Oh, my gosh!" And at that point they other boys don't take him seriously and start laughing.
End of discussion.
And they moved on to Old Business.

[Oh, why is MY kid the one teaching bad words to the neighborhood kids???]

Saturday, November 10

Not Just Talking to Myself Anymore

Some of you found this!

How? Because I linked to you?

This was just a test run to see if it was worth my time. Or if I had anything worthwhile to say to the world. I don't know. You tell me.

I gotta admit how cool it feels to get a comment! C.J. you rock!

I guess I better tell Chip, eh?

Healing the Despair

These aren't my words, but the words of another homeschool mom in Vancouver who is struggling right now.

“I feel that I cannot take another day at home with my children. They fight, they disobey, they talk back. I know some of this is the stress we're going through, but in the process, school is taking a backburner. I feel like my kids are not getting the education I want for them and I'm feeling like the public school could do better for them, both socially and mentally. I'm feeling like, by them being home, we're learning more about how to hate each other and be grumpy with each other. I feel like they need a break from me and from each other; I need a break from them; and I need to be released from the pressure of being fully in charge of their schooling. We will be buying a bigger house soon, mostly to accomodate our
homeschooling, so I know that with more room we will get along better but I still hear myself speaking in an irritated tone with them and fantasizing about being alone during the day.”

You know, I can totally relate.

I spent an hour responding to her on our message board and I think it may have helped me just as much to enumerate my own self-help processes as it (hopefully)encouraged her. I wasn't the only one either. She got several supportive and reflective answers.

Several things from this experience surprised me:
1. Homeschoolers feel this way. Well, I knew that I have felt this way, but hearing it from someone else darn near knocked my socks off. Aren't we all supposed to be solid and certain in our endeavor? Hardly. We totally question ourselves year after year. Sometimes our only defense are the numbers which show that though we are weary, we (i.e. our children) succeed. Our kids make it and are capable, quality individuals.
2. Homeschoolers encouraged her not just in spiritualized ways (such as "you need to read your Bible more.") but in practical ways and with wisdom. No one slapped her around gestapo style. She was responded to with love and understanding. Shame on me for expecting the worst.
3. Homeschoolers won't ALL condemn you for considering the public school option. I encouraged her to keep her options open, and others agreed. It proved to me that as much as we strongly feel convicted to teach our kids at home, we understand that God works in different ways in different families and we know that parents who manage their child's education in other ways are not wrong, bad, or {gasp} heathen.
4. Revealing weaknesses brings us together. At co-op the next day a friend stopped me and thanked me for what I had posted. She confessed feeling the same way and even admitted that she has prayed for God to release her from the burden that homeschooling can be. I haven't been at that point yet, but I was actually blessed by hearing this. Imagine! I am not a crazy fool. There are others like me. We are not "know-it-alls." We are breakable. And because of this I think we are open minded more than the average onlooker might think.

Good stuff to think about.

Sunday, November 4

The Bubble

Some people have the opinion that homeschoolers raise their kids in a bubble. And I suppose that some homeschoolers do. Let's just not go overboard and think that it's the majority, or even that it's the norm. Statements like that are unfairly subjective.

In our family, the truth is that my kids "get out". They have weekly p.e. classes and weekly co-op (for 8 weeks each semester). They play several days a week with neighborhood friends, attend a few birthday parties a year, interact with kids and adults at worship weekly, and enjoy time with their grandparents a couple times a month. These kids get their social strokes. No doubt about it.

Their mom, on the other hand -- not so much.
Gotta work on that.