Saturday, December 30, 2006

13 Hours

That is how much sleep I logged last night - continuously. I was so tired I felt ill all day yesterday. So when DH got home I explained it to him, fed the children and went to lay down for 'a little while.' The next thing I knew it was 3am, so I figured I would close my eyes again and then it was after 8am. Aaah I felt so much better today.

So, I got a head start on some of my New Years resolutions. I started organizing all the free clothes we have received this month for my girls. We know a lot of people who give us their hand-me-down girl clothes and we got bags and boxes all month. They range in sizes from 4 to 10, and cover all seasons. I had to sort them, and box them. Then, hit the boxes in storage in the garage. When I was done I moved the boxes out to the storage shed. That made the garage look so much better, I figured I needed to keep going.

I listed a few items, including a sofa and chair on freecycle - and they were out of the garage by the afternoon. I sorted my books - seriously cut my accumulation of fun paperbacks. Now I have boxes to take to the used book store - I figure I can use whatever credit I get to buy books for the girls' schooling.

Things boxed up and moved out really made the garage look great. So then the house looked, um, horrible. I did the big thing this afternoon - took down the old computer and put my new one up in its permanent home. Everything that I can is moved over. I can't find my Quicken software - so I guess I will be buying that shortly. But otherwise I am thrilled with how easy it was to transfer what needed to be transferred.

I am taking a break before I try to tackle the toy haul, again. I feel like it is a lost cause. I have gotten rid of old stuff, broken stuff and yet there is still no room. I even have a few gifts still in the boxes that I don't feel the girls are overly thrilled with - so they will probably go back to the store for credit for something else.

The christmas tree still needs to come down - maybe tomorrow DH will tackle it for me. I really would like the house to look as good as it did last year when it was on the market. It may be a lost cause, but I can at least try. At the very least I want everything to have a home by the 3rd when schooling resumes again.

I hope everyone has a good New Year.



Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And a Merry Christmas to all

Although, a little belatedly.

We did the whole, big family (my family) thing here at our house and are still trying to dig out from under it. But K, in all her wisdom, summed it up the best: "This is the best Christmas ever." Yeah - it was pretty good. The kids did not even notice that earlier in the year I had sent out requests to family members to please limit their purchases as we were trying to declutter. Well, the girls still scored big - they didn't get as much, but working with the family, they got what they wanted which was the most important thing.

I had heard people say how much their child's reading took off once they started playing a gameboy, or such (mainly because it interest them). And, it is true for MB. She got one and is really doing exceptional reading all the clues and information for the game. Hopefully in a week we start school again I'll see it translate into her schoolwork. She also got a Snap Electronics Kit which she has already spent hours doing the provided projects, and then tweaking them.

K, got her wish. Her birthday wish, which she didn't tell me about until a week after her birthday. A Dora Castle! and, thanks to family, many packages of the extra people and furniture. The thing is huge and she is loving it. Actually, all the girls are. But, K is so into imaginative play and loves Dora.

Poor EM, so overwhelmed with everything. Her birthday was less than a week before Christmas, so many things, so little time. She gave up halfway through Christmas morning and we had to wait until afternoon for her to finish. But, she is just loving all the new things in the house - hers and her sisters'.

DH and I did not exchange gifts this year. It was a choice we made as the things that we really want/need are large items that we can't afford to get in on fell swoop. So we decided to save our money to get them down the road. Plus, we were able to devote Christmas morning to just the children.

We did end up with a new computer, even though it wasn't supposed to happen that way. I told my mom about all the problems our 8-yr-old computer had been giving us, and how I expected that it was going to go to the great Computer Beyond sometime in the next year - hopefully not taking all my photos with it. So, she and my father each gave us a check to go towards a new computer. The plan was that their present would pay for 60-75% of a new one and we would get on when we added to it later in the year. But, Christmas night I was online surfing and found Christmas Day shopping deals so we ended up with a computer system - paid in full present.

DH picked it up yesterday and last night I started setting it up and transferring important files over. I was thrilled with how easy it flowed, even moving my existing email inbox items and internet favorite sites. I still have a few things to set up and transfer, then we will take down this old desktop and let a friend help us clean it off. We are going to find an inexpensive LCD monitor to replace the mid-90's CRT monitor and then give it to the girls for their school work. As long as they don't try to run too many programs at the same time they should be okay. The new computer is MINE! MINE! MINE! Okay, I may let DH use it occassionally, but I even named it "Moms Computer"

Today, the fun and games continue. MB's birthday party is today - we are going bowling! Then over to the inlaws for dinner and more Christmas. After today though, I will be relaxing. DH has another 4day weekend coming up and we plan on just being with the kids and not doing a lot.

I better get some children moivated.



Friday, December 22, 2006

Lets spread a little Christmas Cheer

The week before Christmas and the whole house is in a rush.
Finishing this project and that.
Errands to run.
Geez Soccer is still on.
Doctors appointments and children going out of town
A birthday or two - boy what a week.
And what could surprise me
And send me off my rocker
But one crazy lady and her insane tirades

People - they really do disappoint me sometimes. But more than that, shock me with the insanity that can flow from their mouths, or in this case fingers via email. If this week wasn't already crazy enough, I have had to put up with threats and harrassment by another hs momma. It really makes me want to bar my door shut and tell these children all these horrible stories about what can happen to them if they go out in public and try to be nice to someone who obviously has problems.

There is this one mother in our group who has issues. I don't know exactly what they are, but about three times a year she just goes off her rocker and tears into someone. The chosen this time: Yours truly and Mary.

She sent me an email Monday evening to let me know that Mary has been hurting her son (2 yrs older and twice her weight) during the play time after choir - apparently for the last three months. But she hasn't wanted to tell me then, because I have "so much going on". The words she used were violent and unprovoked. Of course, I went into the oh my gosh mode and tried to remember if I had seen any of this behavior. Except for the two times DH took her to Choir after junior was born, the girls are not out of my sight except during actual class time. I even called my really good friend who is also the nominal leader of the group to double check. My friend had never seen this either. We determined that the woman must have been talking about this game that the kids try to take over each others hideouts. (a game we keep trying to discourage - and will not be played again).

So I sent her a reply thanking her for bringing it to my attention and that Mary must have inadvertently hurt him during the game. We were sorry for that, but I really wish that she had brought it to my attention when it happened so that I could have used it as a teachable moment for Mary. That from now on please let me know as soon as she sees any rough behavior and I will take care of it.

The next email digressed into a badly misspelled tirade about Mary and how I don't know how to parent, and that she has given her son full permission to use any and all force against my daughter and she doesn't care if Mary gets hurt or not. I guess it was at this point that I realized that she was in full insanity mode. Then she sends an email to my friend to complain and that since I din't see fit to control my daughter that they are going to have to drop out - and they just loooove Choir. (She has sent my friend several emails this fall telling her that they will have to drop Choir if different things are not changed). My friend tries to calm her and reiterates what I told her.

So the emails keep coming and coming. Threatening and Harrassing. I speak to other mothers in the group, just to get a double check. I don't believe that Mary is an angel, but she is not into unprovoked violence and hurting people willfully. But, I just wanted to see if I missed something. Even without mentioning this mothers name, everyone knew who it was. This is a yearly thing apparently. Whichever girl her son most likes to play with becomes the target.

So last night I finally respond to yet another of her emails, my second response. Restating the first email and informing her that the discussion was over. The reply: further threats, including calling the police on me because I have a dangerous, mentally unstable child and am doing nothing for her - and she knows this because she has a child psychology degree.

So, my week has been interesting. My faith in the inherent sanity of people has diminished a little more. How much for bars on the doors? - that should make a nice homeschool statement.



Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Em

Our other december birthday is today. Em is two, although she believes wholeheartedly that she should be three. We have already been in for her well-child check, and everything is great. While we were gone MB and K decorate her birthday cake - a cute brown & orange teddy bear cake

I think they did a wonderful job. The oranges icing and spinkles are left over from the Halloween cake we never made. At least it isn't a 'christmas' theme, my mom's particular pet peeve about her birthday being in December - everything is given a Christmas theme. So, our December Birthdays we make sure are birthdays and not Christmas.

So, my baby girl is two now. I really can't believe it has been two years, but I have been kind of busy. I started this blog right after she was born. Wow.

Here is her picture birthday post:



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Seven Years, Seven Pictures

Can we say Hectic?

Oh my goodness, where have the days gone? Time has hit a superfast speed and all I am trying to do is keep up. I realized the other day that I have yet to order my neice's bday & christmas presents and as of this morning I still have not had a chance. Of course, I am here and not shopping the internet right now. Geez.

We have been busy with the good, the bad and the mundane. It has been okay. Apparently my children have come down with Christmas fever and have entered into a somewhat whiney and fairly annoying phase - but I am holding with the thought that it will pass. It will pass after all the birthdays, and holiday parties and Christmas has come and gone. Sometime, I am sure we will settle back in - only to face another upheavel to our lives.

I laugh to myself as I write this. Yesterday I had two moms, each with one kid, in a space of 30 minutes, respond when they found out that I had four young children. "Oh my goodness. How do you do it?" I think I may have gotten this when I had three and they knew I homeschooled. But, for some reason this struck me yesterday. I think I gave both of them a somewhat blank stare for 20-30 secs before responding. Why? Because I kept wondering how they expected me not to do it. I get up in the morning and just do what needs to be done that day - the same way they probably do. Honestly, I don't put much weight into getting too much of a to-do list done each day, because I am sure something more important will come up with the list that will supersede the list. If I actually stop to think about how I am doing - measuring it up against some arbitray list, then I am sure I will feel like a failure. Because I am not going to match up to a list I or someone else creates for me. But, at the end of the day, when we as a family are sitting around the table saying grace over a meal that my children helped me prepare - I don't feel like a failure. No matter what I have or have not done that day - my children have received love, guidence, correction. I have said I love you to everyone in the house at least twice. That is what I think about as I put out the many burning fires during the day. I love them all and that is what matters.

Talk about having a lesson about not laying to much expectation (either good or bad) into the future., and only focusing on the NOW in life. I'm there, I'm good.

Just to give a quick update on our lives. MB's 7th birthday is today - I'll probably post later on just that. But, this weekend we went out for a mom & daughter day. It was nice and something I will probably try to make into a tradition as each of the girls get older. MB got a new set of clothes - that she could pick out, with my approval. She also had her ears pierced - the 'big' gift for this year. She was a trooper - she wanted to stop after the first one, but we did convince her that she really needed to get both done. By the time we left the mall, she has so thrilled about it. She is constantly asking me if she can go clean her ears with the solution they gave her.

Tonight, instead of a birthday dinner, she and K will be singing in the homeschool choir performance. It should be interesting. The choir director was let go at the end of November for various things, so we mom's have been getting the children up to speed for the performance. In January we do have a new director coming on - so hopefully it will get better. The kids are really looking forward to it. I got to watch a little bit of their practice yesterday and I will say the kids are enjoying it and it should be fun. I just hope that no one comes expecting any 'polish' because they are not there.

Yesterday I received my issue of Time and the cover article was "How to Build a Student For the 21st Century." ( it isn't a free article, although you can watch an ad and then read the article - so next time you go to your doctor pick it up). The words Build and Student just caught my eye and I had to read. The article wasn't as bad as I was expecting. In fact it made a few points that I have believed for awhile about the downfall of education. But, the entire premise of the article is about how to educate a student to work in the future. It is not an article about how to educate a child to, I don't know, be educated for that sake alone.

And that point is made early on: "This week the conversation will burst onto the front page, when the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, a high-powered, bipartisan assembly of Education Secretaries and business, government and other education leaders releases a blueprint for rethinking American education from pre-K to 12 and beyond to better prepare students to thrive in the global economy. " Isn't that just scary?

But there are points that are made that I do agree with - mainly because it is hopefully the education I will give my children. Maybe I should be on this board - haha.

Points such as:

~ Knowing more about the world
~ Thinking outside the box - and across disciplines
~ Learn how to find and process all the information and learn how to determine what is true or not, and then what to do with it
~ Development of people skills (because apparently kids are graduating from school without knowing basic deportment skills and how to work in a team environment) I could say something here, but most of my readers know what I could be thinking about this one. If you don't I will give a one word hint - socialization.

Of course if government education begins to resemble the model given in the article, there is one thing I can probably be assured of - there will be a generation of children coming who will be unable to play the classic Trivial Pursuit game.

In the end, though, it really comes down to who do we want determining what is an education for our children?

Have a great Wednesday.



Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday Follies

To celebrate the end of our year I figured we would take the day off. I needed a day to play catch up around the house, sort bills, blah, blah, blah. I did sort of have an activity planned - but they shot it down. So, we went with free time. And here I was not wearing my black & white striped outfit to ref in.

While I fed Junior this morning, EM got into the bathroom (who forgot to close the door this time?) and dumped the entire bottle of childrens shampoo all over the floor. My first inkling of trouble - the super-sweet smell coming down the hall.

K, spent the entire day in her own little world. Which, involved, apparently, a lot of running and jumping, swinging around with arms outspread. Of course this can be very, very fun. But, when others are around it isn't exactly safe. I believe that all of us got smacked at some point today. K, herself managed to run into some walls and furniture and doors, etc. The quote from her after EM being the bullseye for the fourth time, "Mommy, why are you so mad at me?"

And, what is it with the tattling?? I know a bad mommy award will be coming my way. But, by mid-afternoon I finally had to tell them that if nothing was broken and there was no blood - I did not want them to come screaming to me.

I did. kind of, sorta think about posting a Surrogate Parent Wanted ad. Please take a couple of my children for about 4 years.

MB, did enjoy her day off. She watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban. She sat in the chair with the remote and kept rewinding it back to where Hermoine smacks Draco. Power to the woman, or some sort of thing. Once she was done with her movie she disappeared to her room to play with her barbies. She did not come out until she was ready to go out and play. I'm just amazed at what a different girl she has become this fall. It is like I suddenly have a totally different child. No real complaints about it - I am enjoying the girl she is becoming.

(see the green scarf - I did that!)
I think I might like 7. Anything has to be better than the 2-4 ages (I will say that this is the age I have always had the most difficulty with - it isn't the child, its the age) of which I have 2.

And Junior, well we spent a lot of time together today. He has just started cooing and being very interested in studying me. Today I got my very first smile!!! So, we had as much cuddle time as we could.

At the end of the day we were all happy to see daddy come home. I did manage to throw together a chicken pie (a traditional meal of his family) which he said was very good!! It is always a little stressful trying to live up to his memories of certain foods. We lit our first fire and the girls totally enjoyed it. DH even had them roasting marshmallows. Once the girls were in bed we just spent some time decompressing from our week. Since I have finished the scarves, I am back to working on my shawl. I might have it done by next winter.

Off to sleep while I can.



Thursday, December 07, 2006

End of The Year and other ramblings

So here we sit at the end of another school year, year 2 or 3 homeschooling. I can't really say that I have gotten anymore comfortable with it yet. This fall the realization has come to me that the struggles we have in homeschooling all come back to me. Unfortunately, MB being the oldest, has gotten the full force of my pushing. I guess I felt like I had something to prove to others in my life when it came to educating MB. That I had to do it faster or something.

I came to homeschooling because I didn't want the love of learning that young kids have being 'killed' by the public education model. I wanted to be able to give them a lot of hands-on experience, be able to move through standards at the speed they needed (i assumed faster), and a chance to build the creative side of themselves. I wanted to give them the education I wanted. And there lies the rub. It wasn't MB's education.

I jumped right into it trying to force material on that I would have found fascinating, but really didn't hit the spot for MB. When she did get interested in something I dumped material on her that was really over her head. But I thought if she would only get interested in something then suddenly all these skills would come together - and boom - she would be doing the work I thought she should be doing. Surprise, Surprise that isn't working.

What is interesting I let my younger two cruise on through. I don't feel the need to push them, and let them guide me with what they need. If K wants to spend the morning writing the same three letters over and over - I let her. If she is totally involved in creating one of her picture stories, I don't interrupt and try to teach her how to tell time. I know that they will learn how to tell time - when their time is right. But, for some reason, I felt like I had to keep pushing MB.

What I have accomplished with MB is to do what I didn't want the school system to do - she has started to shut down when it comes to exploring the world around her. School is torture - accomplished only under threat of the removal of social or sports time. She doesn't have confidence in her abilities.

So, in light of this personal awareness, I am re-thinking and re-working so that we can start off the New Year in January a better way. I pulled up the NC Course of Study for 2nd grade and looked through that. There is also LearnNC, a really awesome website that has all sorts of lesson plans by grade level or subject. Alot of them are links to outside websites like National Geo, that we can use in the 'small' classroom setting. Since they are 'graded' I am hoping that it will help me to stay focused on not trying to stretch her too far out of her comfort zone. Some topics I think we will cover are: Community (what makes up a community - we will use our Simm City Software an have her build her own city); Relationship between people and environment (Ecology); Basic Economics - Goods and Services, especially how they relate to our local community. I also plan for some Geography/Cultural studies.

Looking back over this past year we have been successful. I don't see that we have failed, I just think that I could manage the approach a little bit better. MB took her end-of-grade test in the Grade 1 Math today and scored a 91%. She can and does use measurement, time and money in her daily life. Her reading level has advanced to a late 1st grade level, and she is more and more taking books back to bed with her. She loves to cook and is very involved in helping with meal planning and making meals. Some nights cooking the entire meal with only oversight from DH or I (us providing the cutting and hot work). She of course has absorbed a lot of nature science and will spit it back out. Her handwriting is no worse than any other child in the naeighborhood, and she has asked to be taught cursive writing, which we have started and she is enjoying. Her handwriting is already getting better.

This year my focus is on getting MBs confidence back up, and really letting her tell me what she needs. I have found a few 'fun' outside classes for both her & K this semester. We will continue in Choir, a spanish class taught by a native speaker at her home, and monthly nature science classes. She also has her weekly science club meeting. There are a few other things I have some interest in, but we will have to see how the money falls out.

I have other things that I would probably write about, but it is hard typing with one hand and trying to keep the older ones on task for cleaning up their daily mess.



Monday, December 04, 2006

Our Day

I always love when people share snapshots of their days by hour - so I am going to give it a try today.

5:50 am

'Junior' wakes up hungry for his breakfast. Normally he settles back own for another couple of hours, but seems ready for a little conversation this morning. Finally I get him back out around 7. I decide to catch a little morning news before the masses wake up - of course I promptly fall asleep. It happens everytime I am still for longer than 10 minutes. (I almost fell asleep in church yesterday during prayers)

8:00 am

The first of the girls, EM is heard from. She always gets up at 8:00 on the dot. Just in time to watch Little Einsteins. K appears about 10 minutes later. I fix them some breakfast and let them catch their morning shows while I do some computer time - answering emails, printing off MBs list for the day, etc. I get the laundry going for the day and dress.

8:45 am

Time to feed junior again. I read some more of the Happy Feet book to K and EM while I am doing that.

9:15 am

I have given up on waiting for MB to make her appearence. I go in to wake her up (10 minute process). While she eats breakfast we read Chapter 12 in Around the World in 80 Days.

10:00 am

MB chooses to listen to her math facts 'rock' CD while I work with K on writing some letters. Junior is napping and EM is in her room playing with her Little People.

10:45 am

We take a little break from school, while I feed and cuddle with junior some more. MB is looking through her cookbook and we discuss what recipes we can make that day. I talk her into making dinner Tuesday night, and we settle on making cookie bars, which are decorated with colored sugar.

11:15 am

EM and K are playing with their train set. MB settles down to get her reading comprehension done for the day. I cook lunch and pull out the ingredients for the cookies. MB pulls out an enrichment workbook and does a couple of activities while we wait for lunch to finish cooking.

12:00 pm

We have our lunch and put EM down for her nap. I switch out the laundry and throw another load in. After I clean the kitchen from lunch, we prepare for cookie making. I check email again.

1:00 pm

Cookie time.While K takes her turn with the Little People, MB and I work together on the recipe. She reads, with help, the directions. She does a wonderful job figuring out how to add quarter cups to make whole cups and so on. She designs the image on the cookie and makes the colored sugar. Using the colored sugar she makes a picture on the big cookie. Her design is a flower - it doesn't turn out that way, but we will get to that later.

1:45 pm

While the cookie is baking, MB does her math workbook. I knit some more on MBs scarf.

2:15 pm

Cookie is done. The picture comes out looking like Mt. Vesuvius (according to MB). It still tastes the same according to K. EM is awake from her nap so we all have a snack. K works on her Jumpstart computer program. MB works on her cursive writing using a white board to practice going 'up the mountain' and 'down the mountain' to make her 'i' and 't'. Junior is ready to eat again, so while I feed him MB grudgingly does her read aloud with me.

2:45 pm

The girls get occupied playing some board games together. Yeah! I spend some time with junior who is in need of a little attention. After 3:00 they are able to turn on the video games and move on to playing a litte pole position, well loved by all three. I do a little more laundry switch-a-roo.

3:30 pm

Junior settles back down for another nap. MB leaves for some 'social' playtime with the neighborhood kids. EM & K decide to watch Cars for the upteenth time. And I get some quiet computer time before I need to go finish some chores.

That about wraps up our day. It was a good, normal Monday for us. The rest of the week seems to get more chaotic as we are out and about more and don't have so mauch time to dilly-dally with the lessons.

We are about to get more chaotic after the New Year, as we are adding in some more outside classes, but I will get into our Winter/Spring Semester in a later post. I have been working at tweaking and figuring out what we will cover.

So, how was your Monday?


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.