Monday, September 27, 2010

The "S" Word


A friend recently posted on Facebook that she was considering homeschooling her children. I quickly encouraged her to look into it and then the public school folks jumped in with the "Socialization" argument- they won't be socialized if they go to school at home. It's such a tired argument and my first thought is "Really, that's all you can come up with?"

When someone uses it to my face I usually counter with a joke, "We have to schedule time out of our social activities to get school done," while I'm thinking if I socialized my kids the way public school does I'd go to jail for child abuse. And how many of us heard from our teachers, "Miss, you are not here to socialize, you are here to learn."

When new homeschoolers ask how to meet other homeschoolers it makes me sad. It means that they are not reaching out to the community that is out there available to them. When we first started homeschooling I didn't wait for opportunities to come to us, I made our own. I found a couple of other like-minded moms and we started a field trip co-op so that we could do something fun with the kids each month. A few years later I got involved with another group of moms in a learning co-op using KONOS. The group disbanded after a couple of years because our older kids were getting involved in other things and it was time to move on.

Nowadays our family does very little "socializing" with other homeschoolers because our kids are so involved in activities that have nothing to do with school- Scouts, sports, church, etc. We do go to Homeschooling Swim Lessons because it works into our schedule. Isaac is involved in a chess club that is homeschoolers and the kids from the Christian school. All the  kids' closest friends go to public school or the Christian school.

In our area there are lots of opportunities for homeschoolers to socialize with homeschoolers- soccer co-op, baseball co-op, swim lessons, Chess Club, and several new learning co-ops. It's easy to get involved but you have to leave your house and maybe your comfort zone

I'm still alive, barely...


School started a week ago and I feel like I've been buried alive- I have class 2-hours a day and then it's taking me about 5 hours a day to do my homework. I took Geometry and Trig my Jr. year, those formulas are buried deep and having a hard time coming to the surface. My Spanish seems to be bubbling up a lot easier but we haven't moved past Dora yet. My English class is a whole 'nother story- I feel like I'm reading in a foreign language and can't make sense of it at all. Being sick all last week didn't help. Tonight is the first night I've even felt like I can slow down and do something other than homework. I have tests in Spanish and Math on Wednesday so we'll see how it goes...

The kids have written some posts that I need to edit and match pictures to. I'll get it done and upload them as soon as I find the camera and get the pictures on my laptop.

Too funny: we took Jonah to Applebees last week for his birthday and one of the managers came over to talk to Ryan. She asked if that was his grand-daughter on the soccer team with her daughter? Because its usually grandparents who have such big cameras...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Countdown to School


September 20 is our official first day of school. I'm trying not to go into panic mode because, after 16 or 22 years (depending on how you're counting) I'm going back to college full-time. It seemed like the right time for a lot of reasons but the closer that day comes the reasons why it's a really bad idea are becoming more apparent.

1) We can't go to Disneyland for 4 years or more as I will have a set schedule that can't be moved or ignored.

2) I'm already triple booked most days how am I going to fit in 2 hours of classes plus an online class and study time?

3) It's been 16 years since I've strained my brain and I'm not sure it's up to the challenge. Just reading the course descriptions makes me weary.

These really seem trivial once they are written down. This is a good time- the kids are capable of independent study, Ryan's home most of the week, my mom may pick up Tovah's enrichment activities (not that I would do any with her if I was home full time), in 2 years we may not be eligible for financial aid but I have time to qualify for scholarships if I start now, and if teaching 5 kids in 5 grades isn't challenging to the brain then I don't know what is!

So, in a little over a week I'm going to school to earn my degree in Sustainable Agriculture and if I never use it- that's okay, I'll know I have it.

For the kids- Monday we are going to start our school schedule and focus on Scouts until the rest of their curriculum arrives, Rush has 3 Eagle required Merit Badges started and really needs to finish them before he gets busy with life. Arin and Isaac have a couple to finish as well. Cub Scouts starts Monday night- Rush is Den Chief for Webelos 1, Arin is Den Chief for Webelos 2, and Jonah is in Webelos 2. Tovah has soccer games on Mondays and Wednesdays for the next 7 weeks, AllStars starts Wednesday at church, and Thursday is Jonah's birthday (as well as 4 kids are getting fillings, including the birthday boy).

This is them walking "naturally"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Puttering at Projects

~ Erica

I've been working my way through my project list 15 minutes at a time. I'm getting a lot done and getting more ideas about personalizing our space. I took all the pictures off the walls 10 years ago when we raised the house and put in a new foundation and I've never gotten them back up because I wasn't sure where and how I wanted to do it. I'm spoiled because the old half of the house has solid wood walls under the sheetrock so it doesn't matter where I put a nail- the new half of the house is modern construction and looking for studs is a pain. I've used quite of few of the 3m hangers that are like velcro.

In our bedroom I hung the silhouettes I made of the kids along with the silhouettes from Disneyland- the upper one is me when I was little and the bottom one is Nathan and Rush from 1996. The lamp has to go, I think I'll bring the floor lamp in from the family room and the candlestick lamp cam sit in the window of the family room to give me a little extra knitting light, the purple shade will have to go. The paint and wallpaper are on my Project List but we need to change out a window and repair the sheetrock before I paint.

This is in the new schoolroom.

I finished my chalkboard! I'm not totally excited about the chalk pens but will use them for now. The kids aren't detail orientated so a general overview of the events of the week is all they need.

A place for featured art or cards. I may try and paint over the blue stripes, or not. I think I got the idea from Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss I had the frame stashed in my closet, it's glass got broken a long time ago.

I replaced the Armed Forces Insignia poster with my Narnia map- this was a Christmas present when I was 12 and I've never found a replacement for it. It's old and tired but aren't the best maps the aged ones? This is the hallway (can you call it that when it's only a door width deep) between one of the bedrooms and the bathroom. I thought I wanted a cool Ikea full-length mirror here but then I decided that maybe I didn't want that many glimpses of myself.

I decided to hang the maps in the stairs, there are always handprints on this wall so laminated maps are a good choice. Next time I will put 2 kids on the corners while I step back and check that they are level rather than asking the kids to tell me when its straight.

I still have a chalkboard to hang in the kitchen and I want to paint some rocks with the rest of my chalkboard paint and move a bulletin board so I can hang a phone center next to it but that has to wait for Ryan to remove the thermostat from that wall...

Finally, baking was on our list of things To Do this summer. Arin wanted to try the Petite Vanilla Bean scones at Starbucks and I told him we could make them from Pioneer Woman's recipe. They turned out okay- I didn't have cream or vanilla bean so we had to use half & half and vanilla extract. They baked a little too long so they were crunchy rather than soft.

Then my mom went blueberry picking and we made a pie (you can see the crust).

We froze about 20 pounds and dehydrated a couple of pounds. We thought that blueberry scones sounded really good. I don't have a picture but they were wonderful. I didn't add any vanilla, I used 1c dried blueberries (soaked in water- next time I will simmer them or at least use hot water), I still didn't have any cream so I used half & half instead, which made them a bit wetter, and I dropped them in big spoonfuls on my baking stones. I glazed them with powdered sugar glaze made with half & half.

We have one more week before school officially starts so I guess summer's over. We're hoping for a few nice days next week and if it does get warm we'll try and go agate hunting or go to the rock farm to get my chalk board rocks. We won't get to go to a parade, there's one in Hoquiam on Saturday but Tovah has soccer pictures and the Jamboree. We'll save our NW Trek passes till later this fall when the leaves are off the bushes and the grass has died down- a sunny winter day is the best day to see all the animals, they come out to lay in the sun on the warm blacktop tram road.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

LEGO Games- We All Win!


In June the kids asked if we could go to the Lego Games 2010 Tour they were having in Seattle or Portland at the end of summer. It was 2 months away so I said what all mom's say, "Maybe." I was thinking it would be fun and I had plenty of time to make arrangements.

Last week Isaac reminded me and I still thought we could go to Portland on Monday.

Sunday I decided I was out of my mind trying to make it happen- it was a holiday weekend, 2-hours down and back in heavy traffic, bad weather, 100s of people, and a week before payday. At a minimum I figured it would cost us $40 in gas and $10 for parking or the Max plus some spending money for snacks and then they'd really want to buy a game. So I told them we could go to the event or we could go to Walmart after dinner and just buy a game.

They decided that they really wanted Minotaurus. It cost $25 so I came out ahead...

The point of the game is to get your 3 heros through the labyrinth to the temple avoiding the Minotaur. You can block your opponents by moving sections of the wall. The biggest problem I see with the game is that only 2-4 can play at a time.

Ryan wants to get these for them for Christmas

This post is linked up with Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family

Racing the Rain

Last week my dad pulled the roof off the Little Shop so he could tie in the new back porch roof. The weatherman was saying that we would have a rainy Labor Day weekend. Ryan helped him until 1 on Friday when he had to go to bed to get ready for working the weekend. Dad kept working by screwing on the panels rather than nailing them (nailing anywhere in the house wakes Ryan up when he's sleeping). We went into the weekend with the sheathing on the roof. Monday morning I woke up to the sound of rain and cars on the wet road. It stopped during the day but more was expected.

My mom got to go up the ladder to help with the last few pieces.

We just made it. At 6 my dad had to run to Home Depot for another roll of paper while I started the barbecue. It started sprinkling while he was gone but they got the last few pieces on before it really started raining. Dad says the paper will last years... just kidding. A friend is coming over to help us roof later this week but the shop is dry for now.