Thursday, September 29, 2005

On The Road Again

While I sit here running my printer out of ink to print off our pictures from today's field trip to a local zoo, I thought I would jump over and say hi. I apologize if most of it will be incoherent, but a lack of sleep and a lot of time spent outside the home will do it to me.

We have been going so much more than normal this week. Sooo much more than I really like. I am such a homebody. Today was a field trip to a local (45 minutes away) zoo. Of course we ended up running late, even though I started loading children in the car 15 minutes before my desired leave time and 20 minutes before the need to leave time.

This can be directly blamed on the fact that some people have no sense. The term people is used loosely, as I will be berating a group of teenagers for the next few minutes. While hustling the cargo load of supplies and necessities that is required to transport 3 young children to a 4 hour field trip and picnic lunch, a group of class-skipping, smoking, 'OC'-looking teenagers decided that my house would be a great one to scoot through the backyard in order to sneak back on campus. No matter that the gate (yes, we have a fence around said backyard) is double-locked with bungy cords and the back gate is so over grown that one can barely tell there is a gate at all. Of course I am a bit oblivious to this as I have just hustled the children out the door to the car, while I scamper around the house to figure out what I will actually forget this time. I go to let the puppy out for the day, and when I do I see teenagers walking away from our backyard area and the back gate (the one close to a busy road, and hasn't been opened in 3 years) wide opened. As I run out to close it before the puppy figures it out, I do not see the front gate (two bungy cords wrapped around to lock it) wide open. The puppy does, though, and out she goes. I close the gate in the back and head out to catch the puppy. I am not too worried, as right now the only place she runs away to is her mother's which is across the neighborhood street from us.

I am fuming at this point, partly because I realize that this explains why our older dog was on the front porch when I came home from the dealership yesterday morning and the side gate was adjar. Two days in a row - and don't even have the decency to close the gates after they blatently trespass. I located the school's phone number, which is being added to our frig phone list and let them know about it. The school is pretty good about the relationship with our neighborhood. And I understand that my description of them doesn't help much - they look like the kids on OC, which could be about 1000 of their enrollment. I did tell the school that tomorrow I call the police.

What gets me is that they KNEW I was at home. My car was in the driveway, my kids were in the car and I had just been outside, where I had seen them up the street and they had seen me walking back into the house.

Anyway, this made us late starting out. Then in my continued fuming I missed the turn I wanted to take, decided to take another road. That road was having construction work - so we sat, and sat. We had to be there by 10:30 - I got there at 10:28.

The zoo was good. Very different than the state zoo. And odd assortment, but very rare and neat animals. Have you ever heard of a barking deer. They had a bunch of them. The animals were also close up and you could really see them. They even had a petting/feeding section. It was a very kid-friendly, hands-on type of place. We had an excellent program presented to the group that lasted about an hour. There was a lot of interaction between the zoo employees, the animals and the children. An area for a picnic lunch while we watched zebras play, and a really big field where the kids could run, and run. I will go back, and even pay full-price for it!

Tomorrow we will be out and about again for most of the day. I really am looking forward to Friday. We have Magic School Bus in the am, then straight to gymnastics. Hopefully we can come home and get our first organized bit of educating done since Monday. Learning has been very high this week - just kinda quirky. A lot of imaginary play involving Egypt, with multiple crafts to go along with it. Zoo animals and such for science and back to our enjoyment of the Narnia series with our CD player working in the car again.

The printer is/has been done and my eyelids are drooping.



Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I will claim these children

My worry was for naught. My girls, who generally become caged animals if they have to wait for a 10-minute oil change, were absolutely awesome today at the car dealership. As we walked into the waiting room I could see the 7 people already there internally groaning. I wasn't really looking forward to it myself.

My girls walked over and found seats and sat down quietly and began to go through their bags.
In preparation I had packed each of the girl's bags with a variety of quiet activities. In my bag I had thrown a quick craft kit for MB to make an Egyptian crown base on the story of the red crown king and the white crown king.

I re-read the king story to MB again, while K read a book from her bag and EM examined a touch and feel book on the floor. Then I gave MB the supplies and she made a very decent crown, especially considering that I could not find the scissors in the bag I had packed so we had to tear the paper by hand.

About the same time MB finished the crown, K began to get antsy, so I gave them each some paper and they had their crayons. K drew water and buses while MB decided to make an Egyptian picture book based on the things that she has read about and seen in her other books.

I was actually a little surprised when the service tech came out to tell me that my car was done. We had sat there for 45 minutes, happily (the only cryign was from EM when I went to wipe her nose). I did not once have to say "stop climbing that", "get over here" or "don't go outside"

I walked out with a grin on my face. Happy, behaved children, a working CD player in the car. Since they finished about an hour quicker than I had been told I decided to reward the kids with a trip to the park. It was so quiet and deserted, the kids coul play on whatever they wanted. The temperature was good.

Now we are home, getting ready to head back out for MB's soccer lesson.

And what was the very first CD requested - "Addition Unplugged" (MB)



Monday, September 26, 2005

The Rest of the Day

Shortly after I left you all this morning MB ran in to announce that the mailman was coming. She and K ran out to greet him, as always. This time he had a surprise for us, two new movies from Blockbuster. Surprise, yes, I had only put the last two in the mail on Thursday. One of the movies was Born Free, which we watched in the afternoon. MB really enjoyed it. Because I had seen it awhile back, I kept getting up to go do one thing or another and MB kept tracking me down to let me know what was happening and why I needed to go watch it with her. The movie led into a discussion about adopting wild animals and how wild animals should be kept wild for the safety of themselves and ourselves. Although this movie had a 'happy' ending, life more often doesn't work that way.

After our reading this morning on the Nile River, MB has kept lining things up or drawing the Nile River with full descriptions of "here is the delta, see the triangle", or "This is where the white king lived and this is where the red King lived." I thought it was really neat today watching her put all that together. Several times today she came to me with one of the tons of Egypt books I have ended up with to ask me about something or show me something. She cannot get over the wooden headrests they used. I can see why young children really enjoy Egyptian history - so many aspects that can appeal to so many senses.

I spent some time watching K play today. I love watching K play. It is so interesting, fun and funny. It is also something that I was never able to do with MB, because she always seemed to want me involved. K will only nominally tolerate me playing with her right now, but she will let me watch. Today she began by moving our landscape bricks around, frustrating for DH, but interesting in how she would go about it. Somehow our layout or the color of certain bricks together does not appeal to her sensibilities - so she shifts them around, much like someone would rearrange furniture in a house. She also 'cooked' with her sand, using various rocks, acorns and leaves - very common preschool thing, but very interesting in watching how she went about it and trying to remember MB's approach. I am sure that a thesis could be written about it all.

Watching K play, totally relaxes me. It tends to remind me to relax and let the girls be and they will continue to develop very well with limited interference from me. She reminds me that my priority in teaching them is to introduce them to something and then step back and let them explore it as it suits them best. I don't do this very well with MB (why? that coul be another thesis), but I try and I keep trying.

Today ended up being a good example of that. We spent very little time on lessons. Instead I read them short snippets, talked through some ideas, things I wanted them to think about through the day, week, lifetime and then I let them go explore those things (or whatever caught their eyes). I had a pretty relaxing day and managed to stay on top of the housework for the day. I even ended up completing a project that I had put aside in July - Our big bulletin board.

This was a freebie bulletin board (large) that was also in horrible condition. I found this piece of fabric in one of the craft boxes my mother had given us. I finally got around today to cutting it down and fitting it. Then I just used a staple gun to attach. I still need to figure out where it is going to go. We just don't have that much large wall space, but if I move around a few pictures and things it will work. It will give us the perfect spot to hang examples of MB an K's work.

As well as today went, I am dreading tomorrow morning. I have to take the van in to have our CD player replaced (warranty) and it is one of the those wait appointments which I am told will only take an hour. Unfortunately I was unable to find anyone able to take any of the children - so they will be going to wait with me. I have warned the appointment setter and the service manager that I have three young children and that they will have to come with me - so we will see how it goes.

I am trying to figure out what to take that will entertain them without packing up the entire household. MB and K each have their bags, and I am sure whatever they put in them will entertain them for about 10 minutes. I am considering my laptop, but since it holds a charge for all of 15 minutes I don't know if that is an option. I have never been to this dealer's service center so I have no idea what the waiting area is like. I am really hoping for the best - quick service from the shop and girls that will be happy drawing, coloring, rolling small balls and being read to (snicker - only if they totally change personalities while asleep tonight).

Since we actually have to get up tomorrow morning and go somewhere I should probably get some sleep. I actually have to get up and shovel out the car somewhat before we leave.



What Now??

It is shortly after 11 am, and we have done everything on our school list for the day. Ummm, okay. Everyone woke up fairly early today and we got a good start on the day. We started off by making oatmeal and MB is getting very good at her measurement skills, a big change from just a few months ago. She determined how many 1/4 cup scoops we needed for 3 servings of oatmeal. Her scoops were also better, not too much and not too little.

While we ate breakfast I read the first part of Nile River reading from SOTW I. This seems to be the best time in the morning for us to do any organized reading.

Then I worked with both K and MB on how to seperate their clean clothes by which dresser drawer and putting them away. A new chore that I am adding to their list.

After that K and EM had playtime while MB and I worked through a couple of map sheets for the Nile River and where is Egypt. The little ones were still happy so MB wanted to do her reading lesson.

After reading we moved straight on into our math lesson for the day. Because of MB's interest now in pyramids I figured it would be a good time to introduce solid geometry. All the girls 'participated.' We used the wooden blocks and the white board to introduce the shapes. EM enjoyed chewing and banging the wooden blocks. K enjoyed drawing on the white board and MB went on hunt around the house to find me examples of a box, cube, cylinder and sphere. Examples of a pyramid were not very handy so I allowed a picture out of our book. We compared 2-D shapes with similar 3-D shapes and talked about how they were similar and how they were different. Tomorrow I plan on having MB make me examples of the shapes using clay.

Then we went outside and created our model of the Nile River Valley. K and MB dug sand and dirt to use, while EM just enjoyed exploring the back deck. Even though DH had blown off the deck last night, the acorns were back this morning - I guess fall really is coming even if it doesn't feel like it. K, eventually became bored with the project and chose to continue digging in the sand box. MB and I finished up the project. We made notes of where MB expects that the grass will grow and where it will not.

That was it for the day. EM had gone down for her nap and the big girls are watching Rapunzel while I reasses and figure out what else to do/suggest. MB enjoyed trying her hand at hieroglyphics yesterday so we may do more of that. I also have an Ancient Egypt craft book from the library I may let MB pick something out of. I also may just decide to do chores today.

Apparently the movie is over an I am wanted by K, so off to the 2nd half of the day.



Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rhythm and New Friends

It was a very good Saturday. Yesterday I had planned to take the girls to a storytelling festival for the day while DH worked all day, but when I read the What's Happening section of our newspaper I found out about a children's performance series that our Art Museum is doing and that this Saturday it was going to be an African Rhythm and storytelling group. What great timing to go with our Africa study. I took the girls over for the afternoon performance and it was wonderful!!! MB and K were totally into, K even more than MB. The group introduced the different kinds of instruments that they use, taught the group a few words in various languages and performed an audience participatory story. At the end the children were even able to come up to the stage and learn a traditional dance. I really wish that I had thought to bring my camera, but being the art museum I never really think to bring it inside.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was to find someone to watch EM for me when I took the girls. Unfortunately, between the little cold and the teething EM was not happy to sit for very long. She wanted to either crawl around on her own or have me up and walking her. Being that it was an auditorium, it was mainly me up and walking along the aisle. This kept me from fully engaging in MB and K's enjoyment.

When we got home, DH had already returned so we all got ready and headed over to a neighbor's house for a small cookout. DH and I met some new friends that live on the other side of the neighborhood. They have a girl MB's age and an infant son. We spent several enjoyable hours watching the kids play and actually being able to visit with adults. DH and I really enjoyed the new couple and I hope that we are able to get together again soon.

Totally off topic for tonight's post, I just want to share how impressed I am recently with MB's reading. For the last couple of weeks she has stuck with and been very positive about doing a reading lesson each day. Even though today is Saturday, and I generally give her the weekend off from 'organized' lessons, she asked for her reading lesson this morning. She has passed the halfway point in 100 Easy Lessons, this is when the remove the little dots under each sound - it was like boom, suddenly she is getting the whole blend thing now that the dots are gone. Each day she is doing one lesson and then later in the day reading one page out of an old reading primer.

So far she is not voluntarily reading additional books or stories, but each night she is going to bed with a different book. Last night it was actually a couple of the Egypt books I had put out for our transition from an Africa study to an Egypt study. Every few minutes she would come back out to show me something different that she had discovered in the books.

Today was a warm fuzzy kind of day - one for me to put away for those tougher days.



Friday, September 23, 2005

Five Years - Five Things

Carrie at Mommy Brain pegged me for this meme. I am supposed to pick five people, but most of the people that I know that come here have already done this. So if you would like to do it go ahead and let me know so I can run by for a visit.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
1995. I was in my senior year of college at NCSU. Taking those easy senior electives and trying to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my majors in psychology and sociology. Not-yet-DH and I had been dating about a year, both of us were taking it very slowly and not real discussion of the future had been made.

What were you doing 5 years ago?
2000. I was 26 and a SAHM with MB who was about 9 months old. I was bored out of my mind and wondering what I was suppose to do with this little, already independent, strong-minded creature that we had been given to raise. I was beginning to look for full-time work to go back to.

What were you doing one year ago?
2004. I was 30, six months pregnant with little EM. I had just quit my job the year before and was still trying to get settled in with being a SAHM again. I was researching and reading everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling and was trying my hand at homeschooling the MB (Kindergarten) and K.

What were you doing yesterday?
Wednesday. Morning homeschooling. Afternoon I took MB and K to their grandparents so that I could take EM in for her 9 month check-up. She is great, thanks for asking.

5 snacks you enjoy

1. M&Ms
2. Dr. Pepper
3. Cheese Quesadilla
4. Yogurt Covered Raisins
5. Homemade Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

5 songs I know all the words to

None – I am absolutely horrible with songs. I can and will murder in and all lyrics. I even make up my own to children’s songs.

5 things you would do if you had a million dollars

1. Buy a lot of land and build two homes on it, one for us and one for my mother
2. Pay off every bill that we have
3. Invest for our early retirement
4. Tithe – not sure in what way
5. College/Wedding Funds (x3)

5 things you like doing

1. reading
2. nature walks
3. knitting
4. planning lessons
5. playing card games

5 bad habits

1. Reading when I have other things to do
2. Staying up too late
3. biting my nails
4. not eating regularly
5. Not going to the dentist often enough (at least that is what they tell me when I come in every couple of years – but it takes me that long to save up the $$ it is going to cost)

5 things I would never wear again

1. big hoop earrings
2. thong
3. those teeny-tiny lacy things at the bottom of my drawer from pre-children years
4. high-heeled shoes
5. most of the clothes in the department stores

5 favorite toys
1. My Laptop
2. My husband
3. My Children
4. The Internet – The blogging universe
5. Knitting needles and a ball of yarn

Have a great evening -



Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Quandary

Tonight I sent the last invoice for the projects I had been working on. When I spoke to the guy I had been working with he said that there might be more down the road, but right now we are done. I feel relieved in many aspects that it is over. It was tiring trying to keep up with everything and there were times that I would much rather had put my feet up and knitted or read for the evening instead of sitting down at the computer for a two hour marathon of work. Although I probably would have been on the computer for those two hours most nights anyway.

I am going to miss it too. Beyond bringing in extra money, which was nice, I liked having something to do in the working realm. I learned some new techniques for some programs I worked with and enjoyed having an 'outside the home' interest. But, mainly I liked bringing in some money, paying a few things down and putting unexpected money towards some school activities for this year.

My quandary is whether or not to start hustling for some new projects now, or just sit back for awhile and wait, see if anything more comes from this guy. These projects I worked on were perfect for our schedule, and the bonus was that they had very little urgency attached to them.

Yet, I feel self-inflicted guilt if I don't do anything because Christmas and birthday season is coming up and I could do more. I just don't wanna!

Hubby is not real concerned and just tells me to do what I feel like. Not a lot of help - you know what I mean.

I am probably not going to do anything for the next couple of weeks. I really want to get back on track with our standard budget and lifestyle - it has been neglected lately. I want to get back to my full-time job - managing a happy/healthy household and loving my husband. I miss that - amazingly ;-).

I do have two success stories to share tonight. First of all, after finally updating our Quicken budget page I am pleased to share that following the eating our freezer/pantry excesses decision, and that even after returning to standard grocery store shopping we are still running below our budgeted grocery bill!! Good, now that money can go straight into our gas tanks. The second was something I wasn't really even trying for. I have noticed that my clothing that I have been wearing this summer is starting to bag on me. I am back to my pre-second pregnancy size. Of course this means that I will need to buy some new jeans for the fall/winter - but all for the good.

Carrie - I know that I owe you the meme. I will get to it by the end of the week - I promise.



Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My Un-exciting Life

I really do not mind having a un-exciting life - it cuts down on the stress hormones. Recently I have been struggling with what to write about. The blog is supposed to be about life with my three daughters and homeschooling, but the most exciting things (to me) going on has been the different household projects I have been able to complete recently. I am generally not this productive.

School is still going, but it has fallen into its routine. And, while I am still not totally comfortable and confident, questioning my methods for various things a half-dozen times a day, things are progressing in a generally calm manner. We have our daily highs and our daily lows, generally falling somwhere above the mid-point on my satisfaction scale. This being the case, it would become so very boring to hear about it constantly.

My household projects could be interesting if say, they involved a major change to our house - like say, the kitchen upgrade I am waiting for. But, I hate to admit how excited I am that I actually got to sort my girls fall/winter clothes before they actually had to wear shorts in 50-degree weather (not that that will happen anytime soon - but it has happened in the past to me). Or how this evening I gave my husband a tour of our den to show him how well our steam cleaner worked on the carpet in there - all while quivering with excitement. It is sad really that these are the things that I am becoming excited over.



Sisterly Love

MB and K stopped taking baths together some months ago, mainly my own decision as they flooded the bathroom with water everytime they were in the bath together. Tonight as K was taking her bath I overheard their laughter and chatter. Looking in I saw that while not taking a bath together, MB had decided to wash K's hair for her. They were having a grand time with it. Chattering away as only sisters can.

My heart flipped with this moment. I prayed then and there that they might remain good friends as they grow together and don't grow apart as some sisters do.



Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday Molting

MB ran across this wonderful find on our deck this weekend.

I have never seen a lizard in its molting phase before. Its old skin looks like paper peeling off.

It has got me thinking about our own molting going on around here recently. Throwing off old ideas and old possessions to make room for new growth. The whole decision to homeschool was a molting process. To throw off the old idea of necessity of public school to allow for further growth through homeschooling. To throw off the idea of school at home to allow for more growth through directed exploration. To do away with cluttering possessions to free up more room for family fun and reduce stress in our lives.

MB is also going through her own molting process. She doesn't realize it, but is having to go through her own difficult changes from developmental changes to changing her own ideas about what school is. Because like that lizard, the old skin can't just be pulled away, but has to wear off in its own time, we also have to wait for MB to go through her changes, in her own time.

Today, while doing reading, MB began her fussing again. This time I explained to her that once she has achieved the basics in reading, math and writing (the big three) she will be able to have more control over what topics we include in her schooling. Because 'control' is one of those big deals for MB, she seemed to really understand that. If nothing else, I got a nearly flawless reading lesson out of her after the conversation.

Clay activities have continued to be a big hit with the girls today. In addition to the mask MB did on Saturday:

She made a primitive house (teepee) all be herself. She came up with the idea and figured out how to do it by herself. I only helped with the sewing of the material. The process, the fact that she took the initiative is so much more important to me than the actual outcome. This is one idea I had of what hs could be, and I am so glad to see things like this happening around the house.

Tomorrow we actually have some organized school activities to get through so I am hoping for a more normal type of day. A good two hours of concentration would be wonderful.



Saturday, September 17, 2005

Again: Busy as Beavers

I am going to try this one more time...

We have been busy around here this past week. School is going okay. We have days that we are really on and other days were being more relaxed makes sense. This week we have not really started anything new. We are still alternating between money and addition for math. MB loves doing addition worksheets, but prefers playing games when it comes to figuring out money. Our biggest problem when it comes to math is kind of strange. MB can recognize any of her numbers when she sees them written, but when she has to write a number over 20, she cannot visualize it in her mind to write it down. I do not know if this is unusual at her age, but it frustrates her because she can understand math concepts and do the work in her head - but cannot get it to come out onto paper. In trying to work on recognizing numbers from an auditory input to visual we have played Bingo and had MB write the numbers I tell her on the white board. It has added some time to our daily math schedule, but I hope in the long run it will help her reduce the frustration she feels when it comes to writing numbers.

MB has continued to do her reading with a positive attitude. She will not do any other reading beyond the actual lesson, but I can tell she is slowly building some confidence when it comes to her reading ability.

Our Africa study is going well, although slowly. This week we have continued to read folk tales, we visited the African exhibit at the art museum, listen to traditional African music, playing lots of games of Mancala, and watched off and on this really cool live feed from a watering hole in Botswana, thanks to National Geographic. MB has been working really hard on her African Animal booklet that we got from Enchanted Learning. Today she pulled back out her clay to make a very neat "cat-aloupe" mask (mask incorporating the features of a cheetah and an anteloupe), I will load up a picture of it when I get a chance later.
I would like tofinish up the study shortly, probably as soon as she is done with her animal book. Then we will move back Sumeria and then the Egyptians.

On paper it never seems like a lot, but the days move quickly and concentrating on these three things seems to fill our days.

Other exciting things around here this week is that I finally had enough and yanked the carpet out of the girls' bedroom. We have hardwoods underneath and for whatever reason had never gotten around to pulling up the carpet even though it was stained and I never could get it clean. So after finding out that K has started sleepwalking (another story) and that during it she would go to the corner and well, think she was in the bathroom, I just pulled it up. The floors under it look good enough (all the hardwoods in the house need to be refinished).

The big girls' room was looking so good that today I got into EM's room, which had started resembling a storage closet with all of her outgrown baby gear. I have packed up and shipped out all the things that we no longer need. Then actually pulled out all the stuffed animals and display-type things that we had been given and put them on the shelf. This project has only taken a year since we painted the room. Once all the junk was out, clothes sorted and such, I was able to make a play space in there just for her. This gives us another safe place that EM can play.

This evening I had to smile whenever I walked down the hallway - seeing how good both the bedrooms look. I hurt and am tired - but it is worth it. Everytime I finally get a project done around the house I feel better and better about our house. After all this time it is beginning to feel like our home and I am finally able to make it work like our home.

These days have been busy but peaceful. Grounded MB is actually a very calm, happy and creative child. It makes me yearn more and more for a good 10 acres somewhere, where I wouldn't have to worry about her wanting to go play with neighbors constantly.

I am off to rest my weary bones. I will be starting another project for work in the next day or two and need to spend some time tomorrow preparing things for next week.



Friday, September 16, 2005

Happy Birthday K

It seems only yesterday that you were my sleeping baby, quiet and peaceful, only waking to eat.

Quickly you grew into a little toddler. Finding your way around. Becoming full of your funny personality.

A shy little clown, enjoying your play.

I am never prepared for what you might get into. Always it seems to decorate your body in your artistic way.

This past year, you have transformed again. Through toddlerhood and becoming a big sister

You have grown so big

and are still a clown

and growing so beautiful - as you always say!!




Picture Post

In trying to catch up for the past week I am going to do a picture post. I hope to be able to post more later. It has been a busy and fun week, culminating in K's 3rd birthday today.

Ginger taking 'relaxed' homeschooling a bit far.

Tuesday morning we headed over to the lake to feed the ducks. We had been hearing the Geese flying overhead in the morning and wanted to see them at the lake. But, we never made it to the end the geese were on, instead stopping to feed the ducks.

MB enjoys playing with EM, a lot. Here she is showing EM her letter sounds.

We went to the art museum on Wednesday when our visit to the zoo was 'hurricaned' out. We enjoyed seeing a lot of african artifacts and art. MB really liked the 5-foot long fish hat that was worn in celebrations and rituals. After visiting the inside exhibits, we walked along the art trail and enjoyed the various outside sculptures.

K expressing how the windmachine works

I have no idea what these things are supposed to be. I just thought that it was a neat picture.

These are vine sculptures. Personally they reminded me of some kinds of huts that one sees in pictures/books on tribal africa. Anyway, that is what I told MB.

The girls were able to go inside and see how they were made.

MB enjoyed looking at the sculptures at the art museum, so when she came home she pulled out the clay and worked for hours.

We finished off the day with ice cream cones.

Thursday we had Co-op and then gymnastics. When we came home, K and I took a nap, while mamaw and MB baked K's birthday cake.

We celebrated K's birthday last night so that my mom could head home today and check on her house after Ophelia made an extended visit along the crystal coast.

Today we are having a quiet, catch-up day.



Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Our field trip to the zoo for tomorrow has been postponed because of the threat of Ophelia. So, we are going to the art museum mainly to visit their African Art room. MB says we are going because "They have a roof."

MB and I should have plenty of time to 'bond' and do some schoolwork over the next week, as she is now grounded (no friends over, no going to friends, no stepping outide the doorway with DH or I, and a loss of her tv choice privilege). She has left our yard and immediate vicinity while playing with friends 3* times over the last week. Tonight was the last straw when she did not answer either myself or my mom. If I didn't already have a pretty good idea where she was I would have probably freaked out more. As it was I was so angry that I had DH go get her. But, I was proud of myself and MB in that (1) I didn't immediately begin yelling at her, instead waiting for a calm time when DH and I could talk to her together. (2) MB did not tune us out and start yelling at us with a bunch of denials and lame excuses. She took her punishment well, at least in the dispensing. We will see over the next few days.

* The first two I gave her the benefit of my doubt because of certain circumstances, this time she just totally disobeyed me regarding rules of the house.

Not really a red letter day around here. Things are falling into place, but maybe just not where I had imagined it. But in all it really is good.



Monday, September 12, 2005

Lighting the Spark

I really, really wish I could tell you all about how wonderful and picture perfect today was. Unfortunately I just can't. This morning started off with a fight over writing. Something that has never been a problem before - but suddenly it was too hard, takes too much time, etc. and moved into the "I want to go to school" argument. This surprised me as I have not had to hear it for a couple of months. One hour later she had finally copied the four lines of the poem that I had asked her to do. Even K left the room during this struggle, chosing to 'read' in her room instead of coloring at the table.

On the other hand MB has decided to become very positive about reading lessons and willing to sit down and do them.

I never know what to prepare for.

Tomorrow my mother arrives for the week and to spend sometime with K before her bday on Friday. She lives on the coast which is expecting Hurr/Tropical Storm Ophelia sometime this week. No one is sure when or where, although as of this evening they were dead-center in the sights for this one Wednesday pm or Thursday am. Normally she does not leave for the storms, and she is not leaving for this one as her trip was already planned. I kept waiting for her to call and cancel her trip up here, but she called me this evening to check on what to pack. She told me she picked everything out of the yard that could be moved and did storm checks on the rest of the stuff. Other than that she isn't going to spend a week worrying about what the storm will or will not do.

It isn't that she doesn't take hurricanes seriously, both my dad and step-dad were part of emergency planning for ages in our county, but this is not a Katrina and really is not any worse than the typical nor' easters they have in the winter.

So this week is going to get busy tomorrow. We will have normal activities, large work project, plus a trip to a local zoo on Wednesday and preparing for K's bday. I was hoping to do more on our Africa stuff - but MB can't decide whether she is excited about it or ho-hum. Kind of frustrating for me as I thought that she would really enjoy it. You know, digging into the books and asking me questions, drawing pictures, asking to go on the internet. The only way I can tell that she has gotten anything is that I overheard her telling a friend that she was building forts with the other day that his needed to be square and her's needed to be round. This comes from an African folk tale.

Well tomorrow is another day. I better get some sleep if I plan on being positive.



Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Study on my Children

Watching little EM develop her own personality, quickly, makes me think back on the other two when they were about the same age. Not comparing for comparison sake, but more to notice differences, especially as I know more now on learning styles than I did with the first two. I guess I am a little amazed that I can already see EM's choice learning style exerting herself.

MB, my first, my oldest, the one who was an only.
She crawled at around 6 months and then stopped for awhile. Then she started crawling again at 8 months but only to get her to something to pull herself up so she could walk. Never 'heard' the word NO, and has never felt like she couldn't do something physical. She was climbing, running, jumping at early ages - not the cuddle child that I had always imagined in my fantasies. Even reading aloud to her is an active event for all. She always hit the milestones quickly and at the end of her first year was operating at close to an 18 month on the standards (according to the doc office). Because she was my first, an I didn't have nearly as much to do to keep me busy I spent a lot of time playing with her, focusing on her. So that eventually she wanted me there whenever she played - she began to want badly to be around others at almost all times.

K, the second born and the one I thought was to be my baby - but instead became the middle. At this point with two I could not have had any two more different children. In looks and in baby personality. K was the type to sit back an observe things. We were always afraid that she wasn't going to hit her milestones because she never really made any effort to try new things. She went with the flow and was content to do and play with whatever was there. Then suddenly she would have a new skill. No trying it out, no practicing - it was just there, and most importantly on her time schedule, when she thought it was important. Even if you knew she could do something, you could not get her to perform it for anybody else just to prove that she could - there had to be a reason for her to do something. K was content to play alone and coul become grumpy if someone tried to play with her.

EM, little EM - my surprise baby, the one I am sure will be the baby, and the one that as I have heard elsewhere "the missing link" between my oldest two. I have been able to watch and study how she moves through her skills - because she practices them, I can see her mind putting the different motions together to figure out how to make her body work. She doesn't just appear with a new skill, like the other 2 (in their own ways), but I can see each step build on the other. Just this past week she has 'perfected' her crawling motion and has become not only mobile, but FAST. And this has opened up a whole new experience for us. She is exploring - everything. When she fins a place to stop and study it becomes even more fun to watch. Today she found the plastic bin under the kids work table in the family room. The plastic bin is the place that we throw all the toys we cannot, or are to lazy to go find homes for at the moment (later I take it and empty in the right place). She sat there for 30 mins picking each object out, holding it up, switching hands with it, smelling, tasting and beating on the floor and then finally placing on the floor before reaching in for the next item. EM enjoys having her sisters, or I, play with her, but, if we can't she goes and finds something to entertain herself with.


MB is still gifted in her physical, motor skills. Her agility and strength are sometimes the first thing noticed by people (other than her hair). She runs on a motor that is set to high and I sincerely believe that she finds it painful to sit still. She is quick on the uptake and has a memory like an elephant - although not as quick to perform it for others as she was. She realized that she was 'different' than the kids she was around in preschool and since then as made it her mission to be as like other children as possible (I shudder at the horror of it). She even gets mad if someone mentions her hair color. She still needs more mommy time than the other two and finds it the most difficult to entertain herself.

K, is still reserved and slow to warm up to new things. She likes to sit back and observe before she dives into something. It is tough for me to know what is going on her brain and she is constantly surprising me with her knowledge, when I don't even think she has been listening. She is also very detailed-oriented in her own way - much of the drawings she does now express a focus on detail, even if she does not verbally share her findings with me like MB. She wants/needs time alone and is not really interested in too much one-on one with me Because of this I sometimes fear her getting lost in the shuffle as I attend to the needs of the other two.

EM - well she is what she is above. And only time will tell.

Studying and watching, I have figured out one thing - It is sure going to be fun teaching this crowd over the next upteen years.

On a totally different note; DH took MB with him to work on a pool that belongs to an old boss of mine. He goes out there often and sometimes takes MB out with him. As DH worked, MB and old boss were sitting together talking. He pointed to a butterfly and asked MB what it was. Instead of answering "butterfly" she responded with "Eastern Tiger Swallowtail." Old Boss turned and looked at DH with surprise, at which hubby said he shrugged his shoulders and said, "You asked."

Have a peaceful Sunday all.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Kitchen Table

Dy asked me about our bench at the table. And as I was trying to explain it I realized I needed a picture of the eating area. So if you do not want to hear how much I Love my table bench scroll on down for some great pics of the girls.

I searched for about a year to find the bench for our table. What we own is a family, hand-me-down dining room table. Not a strong sturdy family kitchen table, but the type that is more often put away in a room somewhere and only used on special occassions. It has taken its beatings from my family as it claims its place as the center of most of our activities.

The good and bad thing about this table is that it is large (and can become larger). But we have tried a couple of other tables in our space and nothing really fits, manly because it is not supposed to be the "eating area." Previous owners had 'remuddled' the house putting a door to the backyard right in the middle of the small eating area. Pretty much eliminating any table layouts there.

So we have our table here:

This is a short wall space which houses the washer/dryer/pantry (see closed closet door on left) and on the right side you enter our kitchen (otherwise known as the closet with a stove). Behind me taking the picture is our open family room (everything room) space.

In order to allow for an odd floor type and slight elevation change between the "kitchen" area and the family room we had to keep the table pushed up against the wall. This still allowed for four of us to sit around the remaining three sides, but was a pain when guests would be over. Chairs do not really fit back there as the able has to be moved out so far that it begins to overlap the family room. We were also concerned that eventually 5 people, plus the occassional guest would need to fit there.

So, I settled on a bench. We have only had it for about three weeks but it is wonderful. The girls love to sit on it and eat as it actually sits higher than the chairs. The table does not have to be pulled out very far for the girls to use it as they are young and can climb in. We can also push the table back over the bench if we find we need extra floor space or want to use the table as a buffet. It also works for school work as I can separate the girls if needed. We could now fit up to 7 people comfortably without having to extend the table and borrow chairs from the neighbors. More than that our guests should hope it is warm outside because that is where we will be eating.

Eventually I hope to replace our table with a nice, sturdy farm table. One that can take a beating. But we will continue to use the bench until the girls are much older.



Thursday, September 08, 2005

Great Explorations

In order to receive a local homeschooler education card to use for various discounts and such I need to come up with a name. This will eventually be the name I have to use when registering with the state next year. The name we finally decided on was Great Explorations Academy. Because it speaks volumes about what I hope my girls experience in their education. I would love for them to be able to explore EVERYTHING and at least have some passing knowledge of all cultures, history, science, art, etc. from peoples near and far.

In celebration of the beginning of Not-going-to-school year I give you these photos of the explorations my girls have been making these past couple of weeks.

MB exploring her first adventure into team sports.

K exploring art, dressed as spongebob.

My new mover at the beginning of her adventure in exploring the world around her.

And she is off!

Here is a map of the environmental zones in Africa that MB did today based on a recent map in National Geographic. I had sketched the outline, but she filled in everything else.

As we go through studying some different animals we will find out where they live and post them on the map.

Here is a book cover that she colored in, based on the african cloth. I love all the bright colors she used.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their own explorations!



I have got to stop reading

Not everything, just those homeschool help books that I keep picking up from the library shelves. I am slowly making myself insane by reading them. I read one and I decide that yes we need to be more organized, scheduled and routined. That MB should be forced to sit down and do the lessons I have planned for that day and that it is imperative that we stay on some track. Then I read another and I believe that she is young and the way that she plays she is learning she is learning. That our lessons need to be flexible so that she has some days that she processes information without being forced to "learn more."

And while I am doing all this reading, our days are slowly coming together into a schedule and a routine that I am thinking fits us. Fits our learning styles, fits my need to have something planned, fits our needs to be able to march off into tangent land for a day or a week. And more importantly I am starting to claim this style as "our style." I don't want to change it, I don't think it needs to be change right now and for us it is working.

Yet, I still can't resist picking those books off the shelve and bringing them home. I hope for some lightbulb. Some magical, wand waving spell that will make our days 100% perfect in a dream homeschool world. Only they are making me crazy. From highly-structured to loosely woven unschooling, and all the in-between methods I find something that I agree with. Some facet that I really like and would like to bring into our day.

So, what is our style. We don't really have one that has a name. When I think about it, I like the term creative homeschooling. Trying to hit on MB's and K's many an varied learning styles - which may change from day-to-day. Taking into account days that more cuddles than table time are needed, or those days that it is imperative that MB play with someone her own age.

I write my own curriculum, using many sources for information and activities. I enjoy this. It is tiring, but I can totally format something in the way I see it best working for the girls right now. I also know that this is fine while the girls are young, but down the road we will begin to work in more focused programs in which they will need to work along some continuum. I am okay with that too.

So, why do I keep driving myself crazy by reading these books? Fear, doubt, insecurity. No more!! A hiatus is being called in my house on these books. They are being sent back to the library for someone else's education. And we are going to continue on, happily ignorant of the "BEST" way to homeschool.



Monday, September 05, 2005

Family Day

We spent today with family that was in town. It was a nice day to get together and relax. Nothing very exciting has happened around here this weekend. DH had Friday off in addition to today, but he spent the day golfing with his work buddies. So it was pretty much a day like any other Friday. This weekend I have also been slowed by some sort of sinus attack that makes my energy level kind of come and go.

Saturday we did try to restart MB's reading lessons as she had requested the night before, but like before she became frustrated with herself after one mistake and shut down. So, after getting over my frustration I stepped back and thought about the situation and decided to try something new. I am still not going to "teach" reading right now. Instead I have given her the 100 Easy Lessons book and told her that it is hers to look through and that if she has any questions about how to sound something out, or what a word might be to come ask her daddy or I. I am also going to institute a 15 minute reading time for her each day, during which she has to go somewhere quiet and either read through that book or one of the other early readers. I am putting the decision making for this one thing into her hands. Other than that we are just going to continue doing what we are doing which includes read alouds, writing practice (copying well-known nursery rhymes) and math and geography worksheets that have easy-to-read directions. We will also do phonic and sight-word worksheets/games a couple if times a week for "fun."

Another change is that after completing the first few sections of the SOTW, up to talking about ice age man, which MB has been very interested in, I am going to skip around and move into ancient Africa. On Saturday she watched a documentary on tribes in Africa that still live a hunting and gathering life and then seeing our new National Geographic, she has been very interested in Africa. So I figured since they really correspond with the ice men in dates we are going to discuss Africa for as long as she wants. I figure we will fit her current interest in Environments and Habitat here as we will discuss the different zones in Africa and how it affected the african tribes in coming slowly to the agrian culture, and why there are still tribes that exist today living an 'ancient' life. We can also talk about all the animals that live in Africa in the different environments. From Africa, we can move into the Fertile Crescent and Sumeria, moving on through until something else catches our eyes.

I have finished her Oregon Trip notebook which includes photos and brochures from all the different things that she did on the trip. I am hoping to also continue collecting from her the various stories of her trip from her to include in each activity.

That is pretty much the extent of our long weekend.



Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday Ramblings

We have done school this week, and it has gone well. We did a few days on the schedule, then Thursday was a relaxed day because of the morning activities and then today I decided to follow their lead and kind of do things on the fly. We still had school time - but we did more games and fun learning type things. It was the day to let them have more say in what they wante to do for school. The week has worked for us. Introducing the week's topics and covering material early in the week fostered conversations and activities on them later in the week.

Today was really kind of fun, exhausting in a way, but fun. I may make Fridays like this. It started with MB relating to me how Hens make eggs, from a Magic School Bus episode she watched last week. Then we decided to have eggs for breakfast, so we examined the eggs before we cooked them looking at all the features that were mentioned in the episode. After breakfast MB made a "nest" with her blanket and wanted some eggs to nest with. Since I am not foolish enough to let her play with real eggs, we pulled out the leftover plastic eggs. After pretending to be a chicken for awhile I had a brainstorm and pulled out our change jar. I loaded up the easter eggs with various amounts of change and hid them for her to find. After she found them all she had to open them and count the change. We did that a few more times taking turns and having K help us find them.

Then they decided to do a dance show for me and showed off a lot of their gymnastic moves and basically had fun grooving to the music. After lunch I pulled out the pony beads and we made some necklaces. I did not even mention patterning, yet MB worked really hard on creating intricate patterns for her necklace. The rest of the afternoon was filled with various games and puzzles. MB was introduced to chess by her cousin and I have been trying to play it with her, but since I have never understood, nor been very good at the game it is tough. This evening I have recruited DH to become MB's chess teacher.

It really has only been in the last couple of months that it has become 'fun' to play board games with MB. She is really starting to discipline herself on taking her time and playing by the rules, win or lose. So I have re-loaded a couple of games onto the laptop that include a variety of card and board games like chess, checkers, sink the ships, go fish and crazy eights (among others) that she can play during her free time. These computer games I do not find detrimental if taken in structure doses because they emphasize critical thinking skills and patience in playing games, while also giving me a little bit of time that I can spend with the other two girls.

As we enter abut a month since I have lasted mentioned reading to MB, I was encouraged tonight when MB asked to look through her reading book. I asked which one, and she looked at me like we don't have 30 different reading books sitting on my shelf right now. "You know. The one that you make the sounds slowly." Ahhh, 100 Easy Lessons. So I located it for her to look through - just handed to her with no comment. She calls me back a few moments later to ask if we can "Pleeease do this book tomorrow because, it is boring not to read." My heart flitter-flaps before I answer, "Of course, sweetie. We can look at."

"No, I mean do it. I want to read." She responded.

So I am trying not to get my hopes up too much. We will see what her feelings are on it tomorrow morning. But hopefully with this interest and the fact that recently we haven't been able to read anything lately without her asking what this or that word is - maybe, just maybe.

I am very happy with our week, but my happiness is tempered with sadness and an anger over Hurricane Katrina and what has happened since Monday. I feel guilty that I can write about our normal, everyday activities. That we can, and have to go through our daily routines. Below in an earlier post I wrote about having some baby items that I wanted to share. I have since been in contact with Lori Seaborg and plan on sending the items to her for distribution to the survivors when they are needed. I will be sending them out next week as I have a few friends who want to send things along with me.

I am very happy going this route. I know that everybody says to give $$ to the Red Cross, and while I don't really have anything against them, I am so very disappointed to not see them in all of the news I have been watching. This is one of the reasons I do not like to give $$ immediately because I never know how it will be used. The reports I hear and on-camera interviews with local residents in the Miss. area I hear that they haven't seen the red cross yet and that the only people they have seen have been the church and civic groups that are actually entering the neighorhoods. The other organizations set-u outside the towns and want these hurt, dehydrated, physically and emotionally exhausted persons to come to them. How, I ask - everything they own has been stripped away. Are they only offering aid to those lucky/blessed few who manage to have aa vehicle. But, I guess it also comes down to an inherent distrust I have of large aid organizations -- all those meetings they have to have to a single thing drives me insane. Help the people first, then have your meetings. I support the neighbors and the churches and the small local civic operations that know the people and know the towns and understand at the gut level what these people need.

Sorry, about my rant. I am just so blasted angry about the apparent aid org/governmental services inability to do the simplest things following Katrina. And I am not just talking about New Orleans (but what a FUBAR that is), but mainly about all the small and mid-size coastal towns along the coast - because they are just like my hometown. Those towns probably percentage wise have suffered a much greater loss than N.O. But New Orleans is just easier for the news guys to rail on because FUBARS make for great tv and controversy.

Peace to all this Friday night.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blog for Katrina

Today, I have heard is blog for Katrina day. I don't know how well I can do that. I cannot process the sights I am seeing on tv, in the paper and on the web. I am stunned, and shamed and even humbled. Sadness and anger overwhelm me when I try to think about it too much. And I do not know one person who was actually in the path of the storm. Strange, huh.

The most overwhelming thought that I have had over the past two days is how wrong I was. When I am watching the people huddled together, life pocessions reduced to a garbage bag begging for rides or water and food; when I hear about people dying while waiting for help in a shelter, and they are only covered with a blanket and left there I am reminded of my own feelings I often have when I watch similar scenes (for whatever reasons) from other countries. I have always watched them with compassion, wishing I coul reach out and help the people. Wondering why their own country and people would fail them so badly to leave them in these position. And I have always thought it could not happen here. Never would I have believed that one day I would be watching news stories live from a major US city that would remind me of Kosovo and several African countries.

I don't know why I always thought that, because I know that we are not immune to disasters here, we are not perfect. But with our technology, infrastructure, education and a strong governmental system - who would have thought. But Katrina has humbled me in this regard.

We are beginning to enter the second phase of this story, while they are still trying to finish up the rescue effort. People, USA citizens are going to become refugees in their own country. A major US city is about to become a ghost town - while other towns look more like overused garbage dumps. These refugees will not have the benefit that so many recent survivors an displaced persons from recent storms have had, which is staying close to home, and (hopefully) working the same job while the kids go back to a somewhat normal schedule. These refugees are being bused hundreds of miles away, where they might not have any family around, no job and the children will be put into schools in an entirely different state.

The whole thing is absolutely surreal.

I am praying and am waiting to find out how I can be of help.



The Questions they will ask...

and the answers I will track down.

In attempt to track down information for MB's latest, off-the-wall and out-of-the-blue questions I have come across the site titled Trivia.

The first question I had to answer was about gas. No, not the gas that we are now using our retirement savings to pay for, but the gas that animals produce. Why does it stink?

The second was what makes the rumbling sound she hears in her tummy. Well, besides the smart answer I wanted to give her about turning up her nose at the last three meals I had prepared I found this answer.

I think it is a very neat site to start using to answer all those questions that I am left stumbling over.


A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.