Thursday, February 28, 2013

A few thoughts.

I'm off work today and I am very happy about that.  I've been catching up on reading blogs and Facebook and generally goofing off so far today.  It's been nice.  I've found some freebies and things while I've been looking around. 

Here's a free science lapbook on Animal Adaptations from Hands of a Child, via Learners at Home

Something interesting we've been using this year is You Tube for Education.

Science News for Kids

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Homeschooling boys fun stuff.

I found a new resource for homeschooling this morning.  It's called Chart Geek.  It's got all kinds of fun charts on it.  Here's the link, Chart Geek.

Also, here's one my kids have been enjoying using for Chemistry.  The Periodic Table of Videos.

The ever popular Toys From Trash

A great Pinterest board with history resources.  Homeschool Ancient History

A different Mom's Night Out.

My homeschool group plans a Mom's Night pretty much once a month, but lately, it seems like everyone's been cancelling or not able to attend.  Several of the families in our group are involved in a basketball league which has been doing really well and apparently just won a championship and it has kept them really, really busy this fall and winter.  They've had practice or games 3-4 times a week, so, it has been really difficult to squeeze in anything else.  We had planned a Mom's Night for Monday, but no one could come but 2 of us, so we decided to go on our own and then at some point we decided that Tuesday would be better for both of us and then we decided to take our daughters.  We both have 1 daughter and 2 sons.  So anyway, we headed out, went to the salvage grocery store and a bunch of thrift stores, searching for bargains and then we went to Michael's crafts and then stopped and had tacos at Moe's.  So much fun!  It really relaxed me.  I think we all need a break now and then.  :-)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thoughts on homeschooling.

Last Friday night went better, with the kids getting done earlier than they have been.  Since I gave them control of their schedules - basically a checklist that has to be done between Monday and Friday, they take it easy on Monday and Tuesday, do a little bit on Wednesday, then Thursday do some more and then Friday, hit it hard and finish it up.  I can understand the urge to do this and it took me a long, long time to get past this myself, with my work.  But I guess if it works for them I'll let them continue.  I won't let them whine about it on Friday though.  Hey, you chose to procrastinate, don't grouch at me, it's not my fault - is my response.  So despite knowing that they will take it pretty easy today, they started whining last night about it.  "Aw, tomorrow's Monday, we have to do school!".  Poor babies.  I told them if they wanted to continue whining, I would wake them up at 6:00 a.m. and put them on the bus to the public school where they won't have any control over their schedules.  They shut up pretty quickly.  :-P

News from the boy of ours who is in college, his second trimester grades were A, B and B.  So far, he's made 2 As and 4 Bs.  It makes a homeschooling mom proud.  :-) 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reading, reading and reading.

My husband is at work today.  The kids and I are stuck at home without a car.   My work account ran out of jobs for me to type a couple of hours ago and now we are all reading, reading, reading.  My son is listening to an audiobook, one of the Percy Jackson books.  My daughter is reading the Animorphs, book after book and I am reading a nonfiction book about the Fundamental Latter Day Saints.  This is the 3rd one I have read.  Maybe the fourth?   I find that I really enjoy nonfiction stories about people's real lives and I wonder why I don't do more library shopping in the biography section?  It's a really pretty day here, though a bit chilly.  My kids have adapted to the winter/spring temperatures by wearing summer shoes like flip flops, with socks.  Hey, it's a look.  :-)  They both have spent some of their reading time outdoors.  Since my son has the audiobook on his MP3 player, he's free to walk around and get some exercise and hit things with sticks while he 'reads'.  My daughter has been in her hammock.  I did the traditional sit in a chair and read method, but really I should get an MP3 player like my son's and start walking more. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mom mind tricks.

I shared with you some of the things that I do to try and keep my medical transcription work contained into the morning and early afternoon, different ways I pace myself and trick myself into getting it done.  Today's job is housework.  It's my day off and I'm not volunteering tonight (sadly) because I am going to take the kids to a (surprise) a 4H club tonight.  It is 4H season around here, since they run most of their clubs from January to June and the kids are in 6 clubs which meet once a month, which gives me a 4H meeting every week, plus a couple of weeks when I have 2.  They only meet for an hour and a half which is a total of 9 hours a month?  Maybe they meet for 2 hours.  I'm not sure.  Even then, only 12 hours a month, not including driving and any prep I have to do.  Anyway, I say all that to say this, since it is my day off work and I am not volunteering today,  I have a big old chunk of time in which I can do housework.  I hate housework, so I am giving myself what we like to call around here a clean and screen day.  I am cleaning for 15 or 20 minutes, then sitting at my computer for 15 or 20 minutes, then cleaning, then sitting.  You get the idea.  I get more done this way than I would if I didn't set time limits (and timers!)  because I'd get distracted on the cleaning and engrossed in the computer time and wouldn't get much of anything done.  I've already cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen quite a bit, my husband has taken down the trash and the kids have to clean the living room for school chores this afternoon (before 4H, I mean it) and so the house should look pretty decent at the end of the day. 

I learned a long time ago that I was not good at keeping after the kids for chores and school, so I made chores and personal hygiene a part of their school lists.  It works for us (mostly).  They'll have a daily list that includes, for example, writing, grammar, clean the living room, chemistry, algebra, sign language, piano, shower, exercise and brush teeth.   It's not the same every day but you get the idea.  The making them shower every day as part of school has finally paid off in that I have kids who expect to be clean, don't feel right if they haven't showered and even shower on weekends.  About 7 or 8 years ago, this seemed like an impossible dream.  :-) 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Droll comment.

Yesterday, we went to the library as we often do when we are in town.  It's one of our favorite hangout places.  As we came through the door, my youngest son pointed at the water fountain, made some kind of a noise and headed that way.   I said "I guess he means he's going to get a drink of water."  My daughter said "He's speaking troll".  This was a literary reference to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  How clever!  My son has learned a new language!  Actually I think he's known this one for most of his life.  It's commonly used by toddlers and teenage boys.. 

"Anyone can speak Troll. All you have to do is point and grunt.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
It's funny when you read as many books as we do together how the literary references are almost a constant thingIt's good to laugh.  I'm missing my oldest this week as he was supposed to come home but didn't get to.  :-(.    

Good morning!

I have used this song successfully to wake up my teens for the last 3 mornings in a row.

Good Morning by Mandisa.

It's kind of hard to listen to this song and stay grumpy, so it's been good for me too.   The earlier they wake up, the fewer chores they have to do, so really, it's kind of tempting just to let them sleep all day :-P but I don't.  I wake them with this song during the 10 o'clock hour whenever I take a break from my work. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

A good geography activity.

This was in this month's Family Fun magazine, which I've got a free subscription to this year.  You look at labels of where things were made, for example "Made in China" and put the labels or some other representation of the product on a world map.  Family Fun - Label Mapping.  We've done something similar in the past, just going into the pantry and trying to find products from 5 different countries, but we can keep this up for a while and I think the kids and I will find it interesting.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Starting homeschooling mid year.

On one of my home school yahoo email subscription lists, one of the moms asked a question the other day.  She said that her child was miserable and his needs were not being met in public school after many, many tries to negotiate with the principal and the teacher and she wanted to know if anyone had pulled their kids out mid year and whether they regretted it or not.  She felt that not finishing the school year would make her son feel like a quitter or become a quitter, someone who doesn't stick with anything.  The response was overwhelming from the other moms including myself.  Yes, we pulled out mid year and no, we have never, ever regretted it, not for one minute.  My oldest son was not pulled out mid year, but at the beginning of 6th grade.  My 2 younger kids were pulled out in October that same year after we realized what a relief and what a joy homeschooling was.  My kids are not quitters and neither are any of the other mom's kids.  It's just like that mythical permanent record, it's a myth or a superstition or something.  It's not wrong to quit something when you realize that it's not working for you.  So if you are thinking about this right now and you've been watching your child become more and more unhappy or seeing his spirit crushed by school, go ahead, do it.  First look up your state's homeschooling laws, then pull your child out and go ahead and let him have spring break while you decide how to proceed.  Check books out of  the library and read everything you can online.  Homeschool Your Child for Free.  This book is a very good place to start.  Find a homeschool support group in your area and ask questions and then get started. You will make mistakes but it will be okay.  You can do this.  Oh, that reminds me of another good resource.  Take A Deep Breath, You Can Do This.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Freckles and Max.

The life of our spoiled rotten house dogs ... sometimes it is just so difficult for them.  The paparazzi is a major issue around here. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Funny stuff I do.

When I'm working I have to do something to keep it from being overwhelmingly mind-numbingly boring.  Sometimes I play The Sims 2 while I'm working.  Sometimes I turn on a photo screen saver on one of the kid's computers which are adjacent to mine (one on either side).  Sometimes I set hourly goals and keep up with my lines exactly each hour, like keeping score.  Other times I will type for 4 or 5 hours without once checking to see how many lines I have, and then surprise myself with the total.  This way, I'm afraid to take too many breaks because I don't know if I'm behind in my lines and I don't want to be typing all night long!  Today, I doing the hourly goal thingy and right on track to get finished at 3:00 p.m.  It's weird what we have to do do motivate ourselves sometimes.  I've been reading a lot about mindfulness and habits and I am hoping to change some of my bad habits for good ones this year.

A funny from work yesterday.  The doctor stated that the patient had problems with discoordination, meaning that she was uncoordinated.  the spellcheck didn't recognize this word and suggested this sentence:
"The patient is having problems with disco ordination."  That's kind of a funny mental picture isn't it?  Someone who is ordained in disco.  :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

4H Electricity Club.

We went to our local electric company for the 4H electricity class.  Three-fourths of the kids in there were home-schooled.  There was only 1 girl.  My 14 year old wanted me to stay with him just in case.   I'm not sure in case of what, maybe he'd be called upon to write, or the class would be totally boring/lame etc.  I brought a lot of reading material and stayed but I didn't use any of it.  The class was interesting.  They taught about safety around power lines.  They had a little mini-town built with power lines running through it and a tiny truck had hit a tiny power pole and knocked the lines down and then a tiny woman touched the truck and then her tiny little friend tried to pull her to safety.  Everyone was electrocuted.  Then he talked about what to do to be safe in that situation.  Then, just for fun, they showed how a tree would burn if it touched both of the power lines at the same time and then cooked a hotdog on the little power lines.  This was all done while wearing safety equipment and talking about how to keep safe. 

At the end of the class, the 4H coordinator mentioned that the kids needed to sell a case of candy to help pay for expenses for the club and the director of the electric company, came up, bought the whole case with cash and passed the already paid for bars out to the kids and employees there.  How cool was that?  Then, we went to the grocery and bought fried chicken with the coupon on the back of the candy bar, which was buy one dinner for 6.79, get one free, so it's a pretty decent coupon. 

4H is great for homeschoolers for many reasons.  It offers socialization, education, fun and it's all free.  Plus it gets the kids out there.  We're on a first name basis with everyone there at the office and if some kind of thing came up saying we weren't homeschooling our kids properly, educational neglect, etc., we've got people who see my kids once a week, see that they are being educated and taken care of.  With all the accusations of homeschooling being a cover for child abuse that you see in the news, this is important.

Here are some pictures of 4H past.
County fair entries with accompanying ribbons.

Birdhouse made in woodworking class.

Fair entries, homing pigeons we got to hold and let fly (cool), a chameleon and a baby pigeon (all the last 3 are from the small pets club meetings)

Halloween Mod Podge in hour homeschool 4H group.

March project to get ready for April fools.

Terrerium with fairy chair top left for entry in the fair.

Crochet mat for homeless made out of old grocery bags, for the Needleworking club.

My youngest's poster for the 4H poster contest.

Needlework club scrapbook.

Fair entries, again.

Paint chip mosaic.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to homeschool.

First of all there's no 'right' way.  There is only the way that works for your family.  It might take a couple of years to find what curriculum or method you want to use and then it might work for a while, then stop working as your needs change.  It might work quite well for one child and not for the siblings.  When we first started, we had pretty much no money at all, so free things from the internet and library were what we used. Then we ordered some of the Konos books because unit studies sounded great to me and I could teach all 3 kids at the same time with only different, individualized English and math.  It was fun and I have treasured memories and a few photos of our Konos years, but the kids don't remember much about it.  Then we went through some periods of time where we were a little bit more structured with things.  I was still trying to combine a lot of the things we'd do and I set up a system where we all met at the kitchen table and did at least one activity together - for a while it was The Story of the World history and then we'd do notebooking and then the oldest would go to his room and do his workbooks while the younger 2 and I would do math and then the next oldest would go work on her workbooks and I'd finish up with the youngest who wasn't able to do much on his own at all.  (When we started homeschooling, he was in first grade and did not read.)    Then , he did learn to read and everyone became pretty independent with their school work.  We're at the point now with one in college (making good grades too!)  and the other 2 at home, I just give them a list and some books and they figure out what order to do things in and get it done.  They have it all written on sticky notes all over the wall and then throughout the week, as they get subjects done, their sticky notes all migrate to a piece of paper to show that they are done.  It works very well. 

Also, there's a very good article on The Common Room today about giving the state what it needs and nothing more.  Our state requires a letter of intent, attendance records and teaching subjects similar to the public schools.  "This is interpreted to at least include reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, mathematics and civics

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Last night I wanted to go to bed but the kids wanted me to read a couple of chapters in the book we're going through right now, the 3rd (I think) in The Brotherband Chronicles.  I thought, how long will these 2 kids be here and wanting me to read, so of course I did.  I read 5 chapters and was thankful for having someone to read to.  The book is cute and funny too, so that helps.  I've gotten to the point that I can read really well aloud, but those brotherband books that feature a group of young men, traveling the sea on a ship with a huge crossbow on it, really slow me down because of continued use of both pronunciations of the word bow. 

The bow of the ship and the bow as in the crossbow.  I will be going right along during a battle scene and have just this little half a second pause every time I come across that word.  It's funny.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

4H again.

Today was the cooking club.  They brought in a professional chef who walked the kids through making an Italian salad, mushroom spaghetti and cheesecake.  It was all very well done, the only problem was so many kids showed up (about 40) that they didn't get to take a turn helping to cook.  Mostly they just watched.  I had hoped that it would discourage my daughter from wanting to go but she still wants to.  Oh well, I guess I'd better resign myself to a couple of 4H meetings a week.  This January to June Class season will soon be over and my period of raising kids will soon be over as well.  I hate it.  If I could have, I would have had a couple more kids at least.  I have sure loved raising these 3.  They say being a good parent means you work yourself out of a job and it's true. 

Next week, we've got electricity classes, then small engines, then 4H Means Business and then needleworking again ... until June.  I really hope that soon we won't have to share a car.  That's making the logistics of getting to all these meetings a little difficult. 

Also, did anyone notice that yesterday I wrote that I didn't have much to say and then I typed 4 or 5 paragraphs.  :-) 


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

I really

don't have that much to say about today.  I got up and typed and got my lines done pretty early.  My family has gone to my in-laws to look at the puppies and hopefully not bring one home.  My husband and the kids want one and I don't and it seems like my vote doesn't count for anything, because they are making plans regardless, as soon as the puppies are weaned.  Guess who does 90% of the taking to the vet?  I'll give you a hint, it's not any of them.  We already have 5 pets and we are responsible also for my mom's dog and taking her to the vet as well. 

Anyway, we did have something happen today that I have wanted for a long time.  A scrap metal place came and took away our old van, which had been serving as a very unattractive yard decoration for a couple of years since we stopped driving it and then it subsequently died.   I am so, so glad it's gone.  It will make parking so much easier and makes the yard look so much better.  Please,  go ahead and run all those redneck jokes through your mind ... you might be a redneck if you mow your yard and find a car.  It wasn't actually in the yard, but in the driveway, and was never up on concrete blocks and there is no sofa on the front porch, so there.  :-P

School is going fine.  The kids are vying for more time on my Nook yesterday and they wanted to be free this afternoon to go see the puppies, so they have gotten a lot done already this week.  Hopefully, this Friday won't be too bad.  My youngest son though, he does so want to be able to burn the candle at both ends, sleep from, say 2:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and just jump up and go, but his body is rebelling.  I told him the wise saying that is on my mom's fridge, "You can't soar with the eagles in the morning if you hoot with the owls all night".  but he pretty much ignored me.  I'd say that is probably a normal 14-year-old boy response.  (Can you all believe that he's 14?  When I started this blog, he was 6!)

Tomorrow is my day for volunteering and I so don't want to miss it, but the 4H cooking class is also at the same time and my daughter so doesn't want to miss that, so I may go in early and do my volunteering and then come home and take her.  That's the only way I can think of for both of us to get to do what we want to do. The logistics of only having 1 car are not fun.   Still I know we are spoiled as far as world poverty goes.  What percentage of the world's population even own 1 good car?

My oldest son is fine in Mississippi.  He has some possibilities for work-study and he is applying for every scholarship that he possibly can so that he can go again next year.  He probably will also need to get a summer job here.  We'll see I guess.  It really annoys me that he spent money on his car and it stopped working after 4 days of his ownership.  That's not fair! 

That's it from here.  Random thoughts from a homeschooling mom.  

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

We started the 4H classes last night.

We love 4H.  It is a great resource for homeschoolers.  Last night was the first meeting of the needlework club.  It was held at a fabric artist's shop and it was very interesting.  The parents get to learn as much as the kids do.  We saw weaving at a loom and got to try it if we wanted to.  We saw a demonstration of spinning.  We learned about knitting, crocheting, embroidery, felting, the history of weaving, and a lot about native Americans because the person who runs the shop is also a cultural anthropologist with an emphasis on native American culture.  It was very cool.

 My kids signed up for 4 classes this 4H season; needleworking, cooking, small engines and electricity.   We have 2 meetings this week and I just looked and it looks like we are going to have all kinds of logistical problems getting to these meetings while sharing a car.  :-(   Blah.  I may have to drop kids off at friend's houses or something.  I'm not sure.  I'm not fond of borrowing my mom's care because it kind of makes her nervous when she's home alone without a car. 


Monday, February 04, 2013

Lazy weekend.

Some of us at this house had a kind of lazy Saturday and a very lazy Sunday.   I got a used Nook from Ebay with some of my Christmas money and we tried to get it working and changed over to my Barnes and Noble account and then I started reading a book on it.  It's pretty cool, really.  It does all kinds of things I didn't expect, for example, I can put audio books on it.  You know how crazy everyone in our family is about audio books.  We love them.  I put some pictures of the kids on it and some of my favorite music.  It has a couple of games that came with it, but we are going to try to add more.  It will be great to take to the pain clinic because the only books they have there are Golf Digests and so far, I've been taking a big old bag of books with me every time.   I might see if I can get an older edition Kindle for my birthday so we can take advantage of all the free Kindle books, which there seem to be more of than free Nook books. 

One bad thing about this weekend is that I've been experiencing a lot of joint pain lately.  A lot. The most I've had since I went gluten free 3 years ago.  Now I've been doing some reading and found that dairy may be causing some of it.  :-(   No, please, not dairy?!  I love cheese on pretty much everything.  The good thing is it might help me loose those pesky 10 pounds I gained from eating so much peppermint bark at Christmas, but I'm really not sure how I will cope.  :-(

Today, we're back at school and work.  My daughter hasn't gotten up yet, but my son is working on school already and I am working on work.  

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Same old thing.

The kids were late getting their school work done again this Friday.  It was 11:00 p.m. which I suppose is better than last week, but still, not great.  I've got to decide how much I care about this, before enforcing any discipline.  With teens, its complicated because they are growing up and they need to be responsible for themselves.  I completely understand this wish to procrastinate because, although I do my work in a timely manner now, in the not so distant past, we had something at our house called 'invoice weekend' when I had to turn in my work invoice to get paid and I was behind and trying to make up in 2 days what I should have been doing all week.  In my defense though, sometimes it is very hard to get work done around here.  People are always calling on the phone, the dogs are always wanting in or out, the kids, once they get up are wanting to talk, or they surround me when they are both doing lessons on their computers, etc.  So anyway, I understand what my teens are going through.  Too many good books to read and fun things to do to do school, right?  but they are getting it done and they are doing good work, despite sliding under the finish line at the very last second every single week.


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