And together we learn

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Repent, Mom!

Last night, putting the kids to bed for about the 17th time, I lost it. No more nice mommy. I hollered at them, "I'm tired of this!!! GET in bed and stay there no matter what!!!!"

Well, my Chloe doesn't enjoy my yelling so much, She (predictably) collapsed into a little heap and looked up at me defiantly. "God is ANGRY with you, Mommy!! You need to be nice to your children! God and Jesus are MAD!"

Wrath of God, wrath of a four year old, I've got it on all sides.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote of the day

We went to a big American Heritage activity today, with mountain man, pioneer, and native american reenactments. Tons to do and learn about--very fun. Anyway, the coordinator was pointing out some of the different activities to our little homeschool group and told us that we didn't have to do things on a schedule like the ps groups that go through.

"After all," she said, "you're homeschoolers and will ask lots more questions than the other groups."

How cool is that?


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A few letters make all the difference

I try to really monitor the kinds of things my kids are exposed to. We watch PBS cartoons on tv, pretty much exclusively. We listen to kids and classical music (except when Steve is in charge of the radio). Things are pretty G-rated around here.

Which is why I was so concerned the other day after spending the day with a friend and her kids. She has a couple of older boys, then kids my kids' ages. She's even more sheltering than I am, so when I heard Hazel walking around saying, "I'm L--'s Little Beyonce", I about fainted. What on earth? How has this pop culture-y, immodest stuff penetrated into our little world?

Fortunately, I figured it out. Fiancee, NOT Beyonce!

I can handle playing house. Playing pop diva, however, I can't deal with quite as much!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Some days are jewels

Every now and then, things click and a day is elevated from plain good to pure magic. There are days, and then there are the days that shine in your memory as perfect. Yesterday was one of those days.

We went to Sarah's for our biweekly history project. We made a model of the Nile, sculpted crocodiles and pyramids, flooded it and planted crops in the silt. The kids loved the project, and it was the picture perfect homeschool moment for me. I'm so glad we get to do these projects together--it makes everything so much more fun for the kids, and me, too. We planned out the next couple of months, but decided that we're going to hold off on mummifying a chicken until our boys are 11, 10 and 9.

After the project, we drove up the canyon--it was such a stunning fall day. Leaves turning, deep blue sky, warm but not hot...perfect. We hiked a ways then came to a gorgeous grotto, where we had lunch. Sarah's got more pictures of the grotto (I forgot my camera!!) The big girls sketched while the little boys played. Calvin mostly fussed, but there's gotta be a bit of reality someplace, right?

Amazing day. Once we came home, the littles napped, then the girls painted pictures with our new watercolor crayons. Meanwhile, I made a big batch of applesauce and started salsa.

Happy sigh. These days don't come along often, but when they do they give me faith that this path that we're taking is actually working. When I commented to my girls on what a great day, Hazel could only find Disneyland days to compare it to. And when you're 5, that's saying a lot!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Word 'families'

Everything in our house gets anthropomorphized. Whether it's cars and cheese sticks, candy, or cosmetics, everything gets turned into a family.

So why should phonics be any different? My tactic this last week was Word Families. And by families I mean the absolutely mommy-daddy-baby sense. So for example, I introduced the -old family. A family complete with mommy, daddy, and baby of course, but they have lots of extended family. Chilly cousin C, noisy aunty B, cuddly cousin H, blustering uncle T who always tells people what to do, and stinky, festering uncle M.

Hazel laughed and laughed, got the concept, and asked to play it again and again. So I'd do my best voices, we'd put the appropriate letter in front of the -old family, and act it out. We did the same thing with the -ilds and the -alls. Man, there are a lot of stories that happen with the -alls. So much fodder for a good game of house.

But if turning phonics into a nurturing story game is humanizing it for her and making it fun, well, I have lots more ideas in my head!!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

So which one is it?

A homeschooler's day, from two different perspectives.

We snuggle for a while in the morning, have breakfast and do our usual morning chores, dressed, etc.

We sing a hymn, read scriptures, and recite a memory verse.

I tell them a story about nomads learning to farm. We go grind wheat in the gorgeous early fall weather using a mortar and pestle. All the kids take turns grinding it and we discuss what it must have been like.

We listen to Snoopy and laugh about the Edgar Allen Poe song and the Clouds song.

While the younger kids nap, Hazel reads me half of Hop on Pop and does a fabulous job. We get some dice and play a probability game where we graph the results. Chloe joins us for this. They learn how to make tally marks.

I draw clock faces and they add the hands to the correct time. Hazel draws an adorable little alarm clock, complete with a mustache and jaunty little bells on top.

We read piles of library books.

Homeschool park day for 2 hours. The kids run and play the entire time.

We pick bowls of tomatoes together, eat dinner, and the kids have a bath.

Bedtime. An hour after I put them down, Hazel comes dancing out and narrates to me the story of Hercules and Perseus and Medusa. They listened to Jim Weiss' Greek Myths while going to bed and she was so enthralled she couldn't sleep. Gives her daddy a kiss and goes peacefully to sleep.

Great day, no? One any homeschooling mama could feel pretty decent about, right? Well, here's the other side of the story.

They watched cartoons in my bed until they clamored so loudly for food that I finally got up to feed them. Scripture reading was a fiasco. Hazel had a little fit and I banished her and read scriptures to just Chloe. I was sulking, also. That'll teach her the right way to have the spirit!! No scriptures for you!!

Chores are a constant battle. There is fighting everywhere I turn.

They didn't listen to a word of the nomad story. And the whole grinding wheat episode lasted all of 3 minutes. Calvin got into the wheat and scattered it all over the patio, where it remains still.

I snapped at them to turn the dang music down, it was annoying me.

Hazel rolled around on the floor for a while before deciding to even sit with me for Learning Time. The girls fought over who's number was winning during the probability game. They fought over which library books to read and where everyone got to sit. They fought while playing outside. Calvin hits both his sisters and everyone cries.

I yelled (lots) trying to get in the car to go to Park Days. When we got there, I was the only mom who didn't bring water bottles--all I had were juice boxes. My kids cried for water after playing hard and didn't want juice. "Why can't we have any water, Mama??"

I stuck em in front of the tv when we got home and I played on the computer for a few (ok, more than a few) minutes.

And when Hazel was so excited about Greek Myths, that was truly wonderful. Except for the voice in the back of my head that stressed over her not sleeping, how tired she was, how grumpy she'll be in the morning, etc.

It's so easy to read the first account and think that everything was just roses. But oh boy, it wasn't. I'm all confused now, also. Was it a good day or not? I guess some of both. So from now on, whenever I post my list of hs accomplishments for the day, know that it's most likely accompanied by a similar list of shameful moments, too.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In which my inner tightwad is revealed

It's been a good kind of frugal week-- blessings all over the place!! I had the chance to go thrift store shopping alone. If I have all three kids in tow, I can barely handle the necessary trips to the bank and grocery store. Anything not necessary to basic survival is just not worth it. So much as I want to be a thrift-store bargain-finding kind of gal, it really hasn't happened yet.

I got to go to my favorite consignment store and I found some of the most fabulous little shirts for Hazel, a Gymboree dress for $2.50, brand new snow boots for Calvin, oh, it was beautiful.

After that, I had to make a donation at our local thrift store, and I had time to run in and check out the books.

Understood Betsy
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Just So Story
Five Little Peppers
My Antonia
Teaching Children Values
Indian in the Cupboard
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
The Hundred Dresses, and lots more.

So many blessings!

But the best tightwad deal of the week is $.09 cent cans of tuna. And I'm blogging this because every single person can go to Target and get this same deal. At there is a coupon you can print out for .50 off Starkist tuna. Well, the price is only .59 a can normally. So there you have it. I got 50 cans today, for $4.50!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Google irony

The dear person who just stumbled onto my blog by googling "we put our things away neatly activity for children" must have been sorely disappointed. Especially since this is what I found after the little darlings were down in the basement "playing." I'd better go google the exact same thing, and hope I'm not the only source out there!


Monday, September 03, 2007

Food, glorious summer food

Must blog!! I'm so tired and desperately need to go to bed, but the blog topics are piling up in my brain. So I'll start tonight with some of the amazing summer food we've been enjoying lately. Some other time I'll get to the rest of life that needs to be blogged.

First, and definitely most important:this truly amazing tomato pesto pie. The only change I made to this perfect recipe was to add a layer of Italian sausage. Oh. My. Merciful. Heavens!!! It was so superlatively good!

Calvin ate the pie, but mostly he enjoyed the sliced kohlrabi we had with it. He carefully selected each slice, took one bite, and lined them up neatly. Toddlers are odd little creatures!

This is some of the bounty from my garden the other day. Notice the pile of pattypan squash? I planted them because they are so dang cute, and you really can't say that about many vegetables. Not only are they darling, but they taste fabulous. But nine of them?? That's too much of a good thing, and I was running out of ways to sneak it into things. Not a problem any more!! Look at what I turned it into...

Zucchini cobbler! It turned out absolutely amazing. I used half the butter it called for, didn't put in nutmeg, did half oats and half flour, and used brown instead of white sugar. I served it to 10 guests, and it was a big old hit. They were shocked when Hazel delightedly made the announcement that it was zucchini, not apples.

So there you go. My two most successful attempts of the last few days to use the bounty that the Lord has blessed us with!

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