Sunday, May 24, 2015

Changing who I am

For years I have been a serious home body. My friends even joke how I never want to leave my house.

And its true...I have so much to do at my house that if I leave I feel like I am falling behind every minute I am gone.

Plus it costs money to leave the house...
Then theres the whole getting dressed thing...
so much easier to just stay at home, make my own iced coffee and wear the yoga pants I slept in the night before.

No more of that!!!

Of course I will be at home a lot...I love being home

but from now on I want to be known as someone who gets out and does things..

Of course I will see how I feel about that after I get out and do some things. Maybe I will hate it.

Tuesday I leave for my first really grand adventure with the boys-the beach.  Neither of the mhave seen the ocean-because we live rather far away from one and I hate driving. I DID hate driving-I'm going to learn to live with it though for the sake of the destination.
 The Man is staying home. Slaving away to fund our adventures.
 I think he is glad to not be in the van with us all for 8 hours. Anyway- I still appreciate that he has given me the go ahead to strike out on my own.

So heres to the first of many grand adventures this summer.


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Smallest Luxuries

I am one day past a migraine. I get tension migraines. For a long time they were all of the time-at least once a month sometimes twice. For the past few years they have been rare-three times a year.

I have had two in the past three weeks.

The worst thing about a migraine is that they steal at least a day sometimes two days of my life away.

The other worst thing is that I know what causes them. They happen when I don't take care of myself.

When I do't give myself enough joyful care. I just reread my last post. I can see it was heading that way.

For the past few years I have been in a good habit of caring for myself. I do't just mean brushing my teeth and washing my hair.

I am talking about once a week taking a long bath. Taking the time once a week to give myself a full pedicure. Making home made scrubs and bath bombs that help make those treats even more luxurious.

fixing my hair, putting on makeup, dressing nice

going to the gym.

The past three weeks I have skipped the gym more than I have gone.

I have been wearing whatever fells comfy with no regard to my appearance or how it makes me feel.
When I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror I just look away.

Then the dog got sick, the lawn mower broke, the fridge is leaking, in other words things happened.

The tension in my shoulders and neck just built up and eventually became a killer migraine.


It doesn't take much to keep these painful events at bay. If it was one of my kids or my husband I would make sure they did the things they needed to keep the pain away.

I need to love myself just as much. I need to care for myself every chance i get.

I'm not being spoiled....I'm making sure I have what I need so I can take care of everyone. My joy translates into a joyful home.

My needs:
gym time
quiet time
pampering

Gym time: my goal is three times a week-but always twice a week.
quiet time: I have a backlog of kindle books to read
pampering: I need to replenish my stock of home made pampering goodies.
work: I have a craft fair coming up-I need to take the time to get artwork done so I am not panicking the week before.

so blogland-I am going to focus o nthese things and record my progress and recipes here. maybe someone out there can find a useful bit of infor or encouragement :)

Love to all the women out there trying to make it through every day with at least a little bit of peace and happiness. Lets make that little piece into a big part of our day-peace and happiness all day long!

Or at least until the kids wake up ;)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

married life pity party

Marriage is a weird thing. You live with someone every day for 20 some odd years. You know a lot about them. You never know everything. Sure, you can predict things based on what you know but there is still a bit of that whole "every man is an island" thing going on.

I'm going through a bit of a thing lately. Not anything major. Just one of those times when I feel down more than up. I snap at the kids more than I should. I avoid weepy movies because I will weep profusely if I watch them. I want to be alone. Honestly though-I pretty much love being alone...so I guess that doesn't count.

I'm not depressed in a scary way. Its just one of those things that happens sometimes-I mean us moms are always on duty. No matter if you stay home, work, wrestle bears-whatever. Your family is always occupying at least part of your brain-and often-part of your space. So sometiems it feels a little much.

I'm feeling unappreciated.
I'm feeling a bit neglected in the whole "only reason I'm really married and not just living with my best girlfriends" department.
I've not allowed myself enough treats lately.
I'm being a bit of a whiner-wallowing a bit in the self pity pool.

And this man who I have been married to for twenty some odd years hasn't even noticed. He hasn't noticed that I am sad. The only reason I mention this is that he got quite ticked at me last night over minor things-this morning he's all "hope you have a great day baby" I'm still licking my minor hurt feelings from the night before-because what I really needed last night was a hot shower and my pillow. Instead I listened to a list of complaints about minor irritations that I really could compare to my own list of minor complaints and I would be way ahead.

then this morning....

To him its all "brand new day" getting all cranky was no big deal.
and it wouldn't have been either-it wasn't a big deal really-normal married stuff.
except-that I am having this whole sad thing going on.

What is with guys. All I can say at this point is that I found $20 in his pants pocket this morning and its all going to Dunkin Donuts.
I might not be getting any fun grown up time soon-but I will be getting donuts, and a latte and breakfast that I didn't have to fix for the kiddos.

you have to take the small victories. so heres to a day-whatever it ends up being in the end-it wil lstart with a free latte.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The secular homeschool booklist 2015

I am going througH a major declutter in my house. It has taken about a year. I think I finally have our books down to two tall book shelves.

We use the library a lot. I took that into account when I pared down our own school library. I thought I would share a list of the books I have decided to keep on hand.

They are the books that have stood the test of time over the past 15 years.

***I will add to this list as I have time :)****

History:
Kingfisher encyclopedia of history----this book is a great reference book.
The story of mankind by VanLoon
The Last 500 years an Usborne book
George Washington's world
Abraham Lincolns world

These don't get read every year but we have used these with each child and as reference. I kept George Washingtons World and Abraham Lincoln's world mostly because our library does not have them and my youngest has not used them yet. I like them because at the beginnning of the chapters there are drawings of several historical figures-we copy them and cut them out to use as timeline figures. The type is large and my boys have all enjoyed them.

Science
We own several Usborne science titles that are great reference books-science books need good, accurate pictures
Usborne complete book of the microscope
Usborne astronomy and space
Usborne Natural world
eyewitness books-we own several of these. My youngest is 8 and still enjoys the large photos throughout these books.
How Things Work

Language Arts
There is a series of great language arts books we have several.
A Mink a Skink a Skating rink, What is a Noun
Hairy,Scary,Ordinary-What is an Adjective?
Dearly Nearly, Insincerely-What is an Adjective?


Math
Family math
How much is a Million?
Grocery cart Math
The I Hate Math book
Highlights Mathmania magazine--these are a favorite among the math books.

Curriculum
Konos volume 1---sometimes I pull this out and use ideas from it when we are covering a topic that I know is in this volume. I have had it for years and while we have never used it as our only curriculum it provides a fun hands on break when we all need something more active.

Oak meadow guides--I have several grades of Oak Meadow. I use it mainly for grades 4-8. The high school level uses regular textbooks and a syllabus. We have not really used those yet. My high school level kids usually move to online classes or library books on various topics.

Sonlight I can read it--I used this reader to teach my youngest two children to read along with a great phonics game by http://www.lovetolearn.net called  "Happy phonics"

Friday, April 3, 2015

Using the science museum as your science curriculum

This year my Teenage son is volunteering at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville,Tn.  Since we live about 40 minutes outside of town I stay there with his younger brother while he works.

My youngest is in 3rd grade this year and I realized I could use the science museum as the springboard for his science learning this year.

Our first learning adventure is the human body

I am keeping a record here of which science topics we cover using the museum and books that we use at home to prepare ahead of time.

The Adventure Science Center has the following exhibits on the human body-I am listing the books we used at home before visiting each week.

We used a lot of magic school bus books-there are videos on netflix that accompany these books.

February:

Exhibit 1:
The digestive system:

Books:
Why Do People eat? A Starting Point Science book.
Magic School Bus-Inside the Human Body. This covers a lot of different aspects of the human body.

The start of the exhibit is a mouth that "chews" balls that the kids throw into it

next a model of how the teeth chew food

then a model of the esophagus and how the food moves down to the stomach

there is a stomach churning model-do't go to fast or the food comes back up :)

There is a marble maze of the intestines that reinforces these vocabulary words:
carbohydrates
water
fats

A large intestine slide

There is also a whack a mole style game that reinforces the food groups and healthy food choices. It is located in the center tower-not in the digestive system area.

** I am updating this post as we work through the museum the last update so far 3/23/2015***

March: 

Exhibit 2:
muscles and bones

books:
the search for the missing bones (magic school bus chapter book)

R.E.A.L. science for kids life science. (this book is a great complete science curriculum for kids through 4th grade)

Exhibits-

1.There is large exhibit where you use levers to operate a giant hand to grab a ball.
2. Another exhibit that is similar where you use various muscles to make a cyclist operate their legs to ride a bike.
3. See the inside of a bone-including the marrow and blood supply to bones.
4. Watch a video about the skeleton.
5. Test your muscles in the batting cage (or set it to kick soccer goals)

We also performed a few experiments at home:

place a chicken bone in a jar of vinegar for 2 weeks to create a rubber bone. research why this happens.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

organizing a homeschool co-op part two

The first post about organizing a co-op had a ton of information in it.

This post will be a little less detailed but include a few things I have learned the past few years.

1. A central group of board members is really important. The larger the co-op the more important it is to have a small group of people who handle the schedule, new members, any financail matters. It also gives the other memebers someone to go to with questions.

2. End of year surveys are a good idea. Allowing the families to put into writing the good and bad things from the previous year gives the board a chance to see where changes might need to be made.

3. you need a written set plan for problems-families that don't show up, behavior issues, etc. this way everyone knows how problems will be handled and are not surprised.

4. The more prep work you do before each school year starts-the easier the year will be. Of course things will change throughout the year. One year a few families left early in the year once they realized the co-op was not a good fit for their schedules. This left gaps in our teaching schedule for the year. So early planning didn't prevent every issue-but having an overview of the year does help.

5. Be flexible. One of the other members pointed out to me that this group was more than just a homeschool enrichment group-it was a community. Sometimes one family may need a little more slack in certain areas while another familiy may be in a position to take on a little more. Needs change. Be ready to identify situations and reach out as much as you can.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Organizing a homeschool co-op (part one)

For the past few years our family has been part of a homeschool co-op. After many years of homeschooling I feel so blessed to have found this group of great families that work together to create this weekly adventure for our kids.

I want to encourage any of you out there reading this to just jump in and give this type of homeschool enrichment a try.

What is a co-op?

Co-op is short for co-operative. Every person in the group cooperates (works together) to make the group work. Everyone has a voice including the kids.

Activities are meant to be inclusive. Kids can participate at their own level.
Parents work together to solve problems, decide on community standards of behavior, participation, and what it will cost-if there needs to be any type of fee.

co-ops are not drop off tutorials or classes. Over time they tend to become communities where the families can come and find not only enrichment for their children but support from other parents who are homeschooling.

What do you need to begin a co-op?

first you need families :)  start small
Maybe you know a few families who are looking for a group or activity. join up with some friends.
Our co-op began a few years before we started. They were a group of five families who started by meeting at each others homes for planned activities.

As the group grew they found a place where they could meet each week. One of the needs they had was the ability to have a few spaces where they could divide the group into age ranges.

right now we have:
a nursery space for preschoolers and nursing moms
a space for children age 4-6
a space for the 7-11
a space for 12 and up

still pretty broad age ranges-but at this point the group is large and while we wanted to maintain an age mix in each group we found that to broad of an age range with varying abilities was difficult to manage.

Your group may need one large space or a space with a few rooms-one for older kids one for younger kids.

Is the space going to expect a fee? If so how do you divide this up among famlies?
Our space ends up costing each family $20 a month. One person is responsible for collecting the money and turning it in to the office of the building where we meet.

So now you have families and a space (or maybe you are going to meet at each others homes for a while)


What do you teach?

there are a few models for arranging classes in a co-op.

Since ours is divided by age we have lesson blocks that cover one topic over a six week timeframe.
Some co-ops offer different classes throughout the day similar to a day at school where the children change classes.

I am going to give details on the block schedule since this is what our current co-op uses.

At the beginning of the year we planned our start date, winter break, spring break, and end date.

We held a parent meeting about a month before co-op began and planned the topic for our blocks. This was our first year using this method. The whole group covers the same topic each week for 6 weeks. One week is a field trip based on that topic. Since the whole groupcovers the same topic planning field trips is much easier.

Block one was a nature study and we took a group field trip to a local nature station.
Block two was a science block and on our last day before winter break we held a science fair.
Our current block is a Native American block and we will be taking a field trip to the state museum.
Our next block will be an engineering block.

Preplanning the topics for the blocks allow time to organize field trips and for parents to plan which topics they would like to lead. We also had time to search out resources.

Who teaches?

Our co-op is a parent led group. Parents volunteer to teach the blocks.
We do have a five member board. There is a board member assigned to each age group and a board member who handles things like sending information to new and potential members and keeping the waiting list.

The board member over each age group helps make sure the parent who is leading each age group in each block is able to prepare and has materials available to carry out the topic.

This year we were able to get outside resources from places like the state museum and library.Often these need reserved ahead of time and the board members make sure these reservations are made.

Board members are just there for support-it is up to each parent to jump in and help lead activities.

When a new family comes to the co-op we give the man info packet that includes the requirements for leading blocks. Every family must participate fully for the co-op to work.