Thursday, October 18, 2012

We Are the Ones.....We've Been Waiting For!

Seems so simple, really.

There's a deal at the store.  A bit pricey for one family, but if you go in with another family or two, you get the deal and more than your family benefits.  Yeah.  That's simple enough, right?

We all are looking to provide the best we can for our families.  Eat fresh.  Buy local.  Know what's in our foods.  You probably know all the community coops in your area.  Perhaps you know some of the farmers, too.  You've read about CSAs and how they benefit a larger amount of people when each individual (or family) buys into it.

I read many of blog post from all over the world where families are going in together on food and household items.  Taking advantage of the 'big box' warehouses and saving money at the same time.  I've even read about families who are part of shared necessities (ie car sharing, house sharing).  There are definitely challenges in all of this, but from what I've read and heard, those involved in this kind of 'cooperative living' are enjoying their lives, making good choices and feeling good about it all.

I've tossed around many of the same ideas with my husband and different groups of friends we've had over the years.  What has always stood out to me is the amount of 'sense' it seems to make, when talking about it, but how we've found no one, not one person, to join us in this.  Really???

I've joined a few community coops over the years and have benefited from it.  We've made new friends and learned a lot in the process.  Still, I've always wanted to include those most close to me.  The ones I know would benefit from it.  The ones I love and trust.

Towards the end of last year, I'd purposed that this is just what I was going to do.  And so, I set out to create something among my close family & friends living in the area.  It was a great disappointment that no matter how I talked about it, shared the math on it, reinvented it (when the first several ideas didn't go anywhere), come at it in a different way, etc. NOTHING could come of it.  Really????

Do we live such separate, independent lives that we can't even share a box of produce together???  A giant box of toilet paper???  A jug of too much peanut butter?  Bag of 50lbs of onions???  Really???

So, I regrouped and decided perhaps this is asking too much of those close to me (tongue in cheek). And decided to take the idea to the other families in the homeschooling group in which I lead.  We immediately engaged in a discussion, sharing ideas, places to find the best prices, recipes, etc.  People started volunteering ways we could share curriculum, resources, even going in on memberships as a group.  I was pleasantly surprised!!  But with the busyness of life and, honestly, people saying more than they every actually commit to, that has yet to 'take off.'

Another friend of mine, one who has been around for a good minute, and I were talking about this the other day.  We both have had similar ideas and have even attempted similar things with others.  Bottom line: we both have learned a lot from these experiences and still want to create something.  We starting going in on a couple of things our families needed and made our budgets go further.

So, the other day, as we were talking about food prices and meals/menus, what our children were eating vs what are husbands wanted and I said to her, "What are we waiting for?  We've being doing this on a very small scale but why can't we just do it??"  She immediately agreed and we started making a list of things we both used.  We decided upon a start date and put it on the calendar.

This Monday after our homeschooling meeting, we dropped the kids off at her house and then went shopping.  When I say that it was so much fun and we were able to secure so much more than our little budgets normally allow (even with just two of us)!!  We both are on Pinterest and have been sharing recipes and food prep info so that none of the food goes to waste.

We have decided to invite two other families to join in with us--but regardless of what they decided--we are doing it!

Yep. We are the ones we've been waiting for.

I'm sure I'll share more about this in future posts.
It's definitely time to stop talking about living sustainably and communally and be about it!

Happy Home Learning!!

All photos/images found through a Google Search.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

History, Pinterest & Pyramids

We have started formal lessons in history this year.  I have been a bit surprised by just how much we all are enjoying learning together.  I have new eyes for this, as history was never a favorite growing up.  I guess it's interesting learning things I never knew and discovering stories from primary sources.

We are using SOTW as an outline, along with an actual timeline and many reference books (Usbourne & Kingfisher) and other primary sources.  I have definitely modified just how we're using SOTW and how we're tracking the globe.  We have taken a stop in Ancient Egypt to go further in depth.  The children are really enjoying making things, watching documentaries (another surprise, as they're rather lengthy and not so 'child' friendly) and reading books on the subject.

We checked out the entire selection of books on Ancient Egypt from our library.  Hopefully no one else in our community needs them for a while.

Last week, during my planning time, I went through my Pinterest board designated for Ancient History.  I must say again, that it's great to find things and know that there all in one place for when I need them!  If you're not on Pinterest, or some other board, I would recommend it as it's definitely a great way to keep things organized.

I found this idea on Pinterest and made plans for my children to do it as well.  Today ended up being the day.  We made pyramids using marshmallows and tooth picks.  Simple, as the supplies were easy to secure. A bit of a challenge, as the children had to figure out just how to create it.  I gave a few suggestions and them let them go for it. Fun, because they got to eat a few as they figured out just how to make it work.

Here are some photos of our time:

Getting Started

Making the base--we found out it should be a square.

Building up in a pyramid shape was a bit challenging, at first.

The Boy finishing his.

Pretty Girl making a larger one.

Sweetie-pie straightening her up a bit.



Finished! (She added an extra tip on top.)
Afterwards I made some hot chocolate (yes, it's that cool here now) to use up the 'extra' marshmallows.  We'll keep them up for Daddy to see once he comes home and then, I guess, I'll let them eat those as well.  SMH. Hopefully they'll remember what we've learned and it won't all be washed away with all that sugar. (smile)

Happy Home Learning!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Quote

"We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards. Gold stars or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A's on report cards, or honor rolls or dean's lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys, in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else."  ~John Holt

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our Photo Challenge :: Math

I've started a weekly photo challenge with my homeschooling group to give those who don't get out regularly a way to participate weekly.  Many of us now enjoy snapping photos of our children learning and growing.

So, I thought I'd share it here, as well.  This week we're sharing something math related.  Here's what we got into today, and before we finished I realized it fit the category!  YAY!

Gotta love it.

Happy Home Learning!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

This has been a challenging week.  If you read my post from Monday, you already know that in the ONE day so much was thrown my direction.  Honestly, I thought I'd be good for the rest of the week.



But I still have so much to be thankful for!!

Here's my little list:

A moment to catch my breath
An ear of a friend to listen to EVERYTHING.
My journal.
Chocolate. Yes, chocolate.
The shift in weather as Fall approaches
A favorite blog revisited*
An unexpected email with encouragement.
Silly children.
A playful pup (he's not small anymore but is still a baby)
Birds singing as they eat from our porch.
Food in the pantry
Plans to gather with friends
Signs of new growth [in me, in my children]
You, my online supportive community.

Peace & blessings, friends!

*more about this one to come!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rethinking, Regrouping, Moving Forward

I must say that today went NOTHING like I'd planned, expected, thought, imagined, etc., etc.  Well, the very beginning did.

We got up, the kids had breakfast as I whipped around the house lining things up at the door.  Today was another gathering with our homeschool group.  Another mother and I spent time planning and preparing a very hands-on workshop about goal setting and planning.  Needless to say, we both spend a good amount of time (into the wee hours of the night) reading, prepping, creating for this workshop.

After making sure faces were washed and teeth brushed, all necessary items in the car.  We left the house.  I ran two important errands before making my way in the direction of the Rec Center.  As I exited the highway, I noticed that my left blinker wasn't working and scanned the dash board to see if there was any indication as to why.  Well, it was a good thing that I did for I noticed that my thermostat was rising and moving quickly up to HIGH!!  I immediately pulled into a gas station, popped the trunk and called my husband.

Photo credit
Before he answered a Police Officer pulled up and got out to help! (Yeah, I was pretty shocked by that, as officers here don't often do that sort of thing.)  I got water in the tank for the radiator and then pulled over out of the way of actual customers to give my car time to cool off.

I was proud of myself for not losing it.  For remaining calm, for speaking gently to the children.  We turned up the story on tape they were listening to and sat.  Since I'd left in plenty of time, we had time to let things cool off.  After about 20 minutes, I headed out, maybe 5 miles away from the center.  I didn't get a mile down the road before steam was billowing out from under the hood.  I saw an Auto Zone up ahead and pulled into their lot.

This time, I was a bit more frustrated, but alas, I have some good friends.  I called one of them (the one who was doing the workshop with me) to let her know what was up and she said she'd come get me in about 10 minutes.  Again, no problem.  I alerted my husband as to what has happened and he said he get over there within a few hours to take care of the car.  So, I let go of the stress about the car and waited for our pick up.

As I waited I thought about how I'd planned to be on time and set things up.  How I was disappointed about that fact but that this could just be another example of what I was already planning to share with the parents in our group--how I don't have it all together, how I've got to adjust and readjust as things happen, how I've got to learn how to be flexible and go with the flow.  Yeah, I was frustrated, but perhaps this was just another way of sharing authentically about how to keep things in a good place even when they seem like their going South fast!!

[Let me just insert, right here, that we've been without both our cars for just under 3 weeks.  We'd loaned out one of them and it has been falling apart, slowly, ever since we've gotten it back.  What keeps coming to mind is, "No good deed goes unpunished!" smh.  We've spent this time fixing one thing and then another.]

Well, time kept moving and I could see that I would be late.  My friend sent her husband to get us and he quickly moved our things from our car to his van and we were headed for the Rec Center.  As we chit chatted, I was imagining how things had started and that although I was a bit late, I could jump right in once we got there.  My friend called as we were about 3 minutes away to ask if anyone had called or texted me about not coming.  I said no and asked why.  She proceeded to tell me that NO ONE WAS THERE!

Really??!!  No, that can't be true.  "What time is it?" I asked.  It was forty-five minutes after our start time and only one person had shown up??? No one else had called?  We were both really shocked.  As I went through my phone I did get a text from a member saying she didn't think she would be able to come.  We then went online to check and see if we'd missed anyone's message to us. Nothing was online.

We vented a bit about it and then went in and proceeded with our meeting with only one participant.  (We modified things, of course.)  Our children were about as disappointed as we were, but as we're learning (again) from our children, we regrouped and kept it moving.  By the end of our time we were laughing and sharing and feeling really good about the time spent together.


Life happens.  No matter how we've planned it or imagined it.  No matter how well things have been laid out or how much time you've given to prepping.  Things come up that affect how your day will go.  That fact need not push us over the edge or send us crazy!

Today has given me a good bit to think about.  I've rethought a few things about planning, with regards to our homeschool group.  I've talked about how best we can engage the members in the group.  But at the end of the day, I choose not to give too much time to the negative spots, instead I'm going to regroup and move forward!


I've seen today just how blessed I am.

  • Blessed to have had my blinker go out so I would notice the car overheating (and stop so I wouldn't cause more damage!).
  • Blessed to have had the help of a stranger in locating exactly where I needed to put the fluid (this car is set up differently then the one I normally drive).
  • Blessed that I know how to pray and mediate and allow myself to be calm when things should be frustrating.
  • Blessed to have a very good friend who I can call to come get me and my kids when we're on the side of the road (ok, I'm being dramatic here. lol).
  • Blessed to have children who, although disappointed, too, made the best of their time and found joy in being with the older ones who were there.
  • Blessed to have a husband who 1) knows how to work on cars; 2) is willing to do whatever it takes to get it fixed; 3) keeps moving forward despite set backs (that often feel very overwhelming); 4) loves me!
  • Blessed that we've been able to afford to get the car fixed (although we've had to wait for paydays to arrive--it's a blessing to have paydays!)
  • Blessed that I have been practicing seeing the good in things--thus making this day, although different than I expected/planned, not a wasted day; not a 'bad' day!
  • Blessed to have had this experience and come to some conclusions about how to teach our members how to better handle/communicate their cancellations.

There it is.
There is was.
Tomorrow is a new day.
(His mercies are new every morning!)
I will be moving FORWARD!

Thanks for listening to all of this....

Happy Home Learning!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Daddy's Girl

This week we've been visiting with my Daddy, who came for a visit from CA.  The more I'm with him, the more I know that I'm a Daddy's Girl.  I love him.  That is all.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Homeschool Community

I lead a homeschool group.  This year makes our fifth year.  We've seen a good number of families come and go--changing the dynamics of our group.  I'm happy to say that as we've grown through the years, we've finally found a rhythm and pace that works for us.  We now have a core of families who are not only committed to homeschooling, but to making our group a tight knit family.

The families who make up this group come from many walks and bring such diversity to my life!  I've learned a lot from each of the women (and men) who have participated over the years and am so thankful to those who have also found support and encouragement and remained a part of the group.

Today we held our Fall Meet & Greet--it's our kick off for another year together.  We have several new families who joined us this year and are looking forward to many more days of play, of great conversations, of learning, of growing and bonding.

I haven't yet gone over our sign-in sheet to do a final count of just how many families came out--but I'm sure there were at least fifty people.  We had an awesome number of children of all ages.  Here are a few shots from our time together:

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's a Wrap! [and a question]

So we made it through our first week.

I haven't quite decided if I'll do a follow-up of our week on Friday or find something else to join in (from another blog).  Last year a know several of the moms' blogs I was reading used to do something like this.  It's a great way to record as well as share with others how things are progressing.  We'll see.

What I will say right now is that I was a little surprise about how excited and interested my children were with starting history.  Well, I guess I really wasn't surprised--more pleased! (smile)  I spent a good bit of the summer reading Howard Zinn books and a good number of African-American History texts and Native American books.  I will definitely have to take time and share my thoughts about all of this (too lengthy for the time I have presently to post).

We did history each afternoon, with the exception of today.  We didn't start everything but did all of our new things.  I'm still working out how to properly stagger our lessons so that each of my children get direct time with me as necessary.  This week also showed me that I have to do a bit more planning for The Boy.  I have a few more activities to pull together so that he has a little more independent work while I'm working with his sisters.

Next week will be interrupted with some outside activities with our homeschool group--so we'll see how that will affect our learning time at home.  Because of how involved we get in learning, we are usually engaged a lot longer than the 4.5 hours per day the state requires.  With this is mind, we will again do a 4-day week which allows for the involvement we plan to have with our homeschool group in co-op classes, park days and library days weekly/bi-weekly.  We haven't started taking any of our enrichment classes, so we'll probably make more adjustments once we're out of the house for those.

Now, for the question:

I am looking for some good, inspiring homeschool/homemaking/parenting type blogs to read.  In coming back to blog-land and going through my blogroll, I found out that many of the blogs I've enjoyed over the years have ended.  I do understand that people move on, life changes.  So, I'm definitely looking for some you'd recommend.


Have a great weekend, too!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I've decided to get back to this here on the blog.  I'll have to check my older posts to see who this is linked up with (or even if it is).  Feel free to join me as I continue to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

My list for today:

Children who are are excited about learning!
Extra sleep.
Time to witness siblings getting along.
Art work.
Open windows.
Listening my children share their thoughts and ideas.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Going with the Flow

So, we've made it through another day.

I wasn't so sure by how things started this morning....

We were all up early (normal for my children).  I even got a good bit of time alone and was ready to greet each of the children with smiles and hugs.  But from that point, it's like I was the only one trying to move us forward into the day.

For a little bit, it got quite intense--or, perhaps I should say, I got intense.  I'm proud to say that I didn't throw too much of a temper-tantrum (you know how we momma's do)!!  It just didn't make sense to me why each of my dear ones just didn't want to "get on" with things.

Photo credit
So, I sat back down on the couch.  Cuddled up with The Boy and Sweetie Pie as we waited for Pretty Girl to get breakfast on the table with us.  The Boy thinks he's so funny (which he is, most of the time) so he sat and told us some "jokes." Then Sweetie Pie wanted to talk about when she was a baby and so I went through all the stories that we rehearse.  I calmed down. (smile)

I was again reminded that although I have a schedule in place, it is not the boss of us or what's needed on a particular day.  We made it through breakfast and morning chores.  Nothing major happened because we got started with our learning time at 11:30am.  The children stayed engaged.  After lunch we had quiet time and ended our time as a group with our story (History).

When Daddy got home each of the children took turns sharing with him about our day.  (I find this time good for me because I get to hear, from their perspective, what they've learned, what they enjoyed and how they saw our time together.)

All this just confirms that I am indeed blessed to have these three wonderful people in my life.  Yes, they know me so well that they're able to push many of my buttons.  But they also know how to make me smile, make me laugh!  I'm also reminded that this time together is about going with the flow of our life.

And so it goes....

Happy Home Learning!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of 'School'

Well, we've made it most of the way through today!!

I'm proud to share that getting up earlier (a goal I had for myself) happened and I had a few moments to myself.  Time to think, time to breathe, time to converse with my hubby, time to start a new book!

Things have pretty much progressed as we had planned.  The children were eager to get started today.  But I chose not to rush into things but take things just as we'd been doing--getting up, getting dressed, doing morning chores, having family devotion, eating breakfast.  From that point we followed, for the most part, the schedule of lessons.  Instead of our walk being first thing in the day,  as I'd thought we'd do,  we did it during our break time just before lunch, and completed an errand as the same time (love living in a neighborhood that's walkable).

Both the girls made their planned meals.  It was nice, for me, to just come and sit down. (smile)  Pretty Girl made some grain-free muffins and smoothies for breakfast.  Sweetie Pie made a vegetarian version of Tuna fish sandwiches with chips & carrots.  The Boy can't wait to help prepare dinner!

School work has gone in the same manner.  We did science all together and then I staggered each of their personal lessons so that I had time with each individually while the others were completing work they could do independently.  I decided not to do a whole lot but to touch on everything and give a simple activity/assignment.  As the year progresses, we'll definitely get deeper into things.

Only one meltdown--which only lasted a minute or two.  We've been working on making better choices.  Each of the children has a personal goal she/he is working on and I've been available to talk them through it, gently. 

Right now they're taking quiet time--listening to one of the stories on CD we checked out from the library for this purpose.  Some days, I'll probably have them actually sleep--but today we're enjoying some quiet.  During this same time, I've decided to blog and get things ready for our history lesson this afternoon.  Once we're finished with that, whatever isn't completed from this morning, they'll have time to do.  If they're all done, we'll begin with evening chores and then they can have some free play time, if they'd like.

It's overcast today and so there is a dreariness about today.  However, things are going well!  I'm happy that we've started on a 'good' foot and that we're not feeling rushed.  Hopefully we can keep this pace and enjoy the structure within our relaxed setting.

If today happens to be your first day, how are things going?  I hope that you, too, are having a good one!

Happy Home Learning!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our Curriculum for 2012-2013

Well, this year, I've decided to embrace a more classical approach to homeschooling.  After reading and rereading The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, reading blogs/sites and talking with friends who are using Classical Conversations and seeing just how I'm pretty much doing a lot of the same things, I've decided to go with it. (smile)

I'm sure I'll still fall in the 'eclectic homeschooling' category as I'm not sold on all the curricula suggested in that book and I will not be following the order of specific topics to a tee--so if you're hard-core classical, know this upfront. LOL!

Also, a point to note, is that we're really not following the traditional grade system.  I'm teaching my children at the levels they are and moving them from there, as quickly or as slowly as they need.  So you may see some levels that don't match up across a particular grade level.  We are working on mastery of skills and competencies.  Understanding and successfully completing assignments are more important to me than plowing through material to say that we're on a particular grade level (see Philosophy for more info).

I was excited to find many of the books/resources at used sales, on craigslist and Ebay!  I was also blessed to be gifted with a good bit of things as well.  So I stayed way below my budget this year!!  Will be using the difference to purchase a couple of memberships and subscriptions.

So, without further ado, here's our list:

Language Arts
Spelling Power
Explode the Code Books
Writing with Ease
First Language Lessons
Pathway Readers & Corresponding Workbooks
Handwriting Practice Books
Rosetta Stone :: Spanish

Houghton Mifflin Texts/Workbooks

Ancient History Cycle 1
Resource Books
Library & Online resources

Animal Kingdom (completing)
Human Body Study
Plant Study

Art & Music
Drawing & Painting
Piano Lessons
Dance Classes

Physical Education/Health
Weekly P.E. Class at a Rec Center
Daily exercise & free time outside

Spiritual Development
Sacred Texts Study & Memory Work
Meditation & Prayer
Volunteering & Charity Work

Life Skills
Cooking & Baking
Housekeeping (daily chores & responsibilities)
Sewing, Crocheting & Knitting (other handcrafting)
Meal Prep & Grocery Shopping
Chores & Responsibilities
Money Management
Yard Care
Basic (very basic) car care
Gardening & Urban Farming
Building & Woodworking

Here are some photos of some of the texts & resources we'll be using.  (I may come back and add a view more photos as time permits.)

Pretty-Girl's Books

Sweetie-Pie's books

The Boy's Books
Science Books

We will start by finishing up the Animal Kingdom.  DK's First Animal Encyclopedia is our primary text.  Understanding Your Body will be our primary text for the unit on the Human Body--all the others will be supplemental.  We'll end with a unit on Plants.  I have several other resources pinned on my Pinterest Homeschool Science Board and will be pinning others as I find them and as we need them.  I'm planning to make things very hands-on and will use what we're learning as the basis for many of our Writing with Ease Lessons.

History Books & Resources
I must say that I'm very excited about our history lessons this year.  I've really been hesitant as I just didn't know where to begin and whose history to share first (I knew what I didn't want to do).  I've finally freed myself from the miseducation I've received and will do the best I can to give my children a better picture of world history by using primary sources for those cultures other than our own.  I've spent most of the summer reading history books! lol  I'll be using a timeline and will begin in Africa, move to Asia and then follow the typical outline shown in SOTW and both the Kingfisher & Usborne Resource Books.  The public library system here is depleting a large portion of its inventory of books and I've been able to claim a good number of discarded history books [at no or low cost].  I actually have too many to pull off the shelf now, but as we use them, I may post something about how we like it/use it.  I have a good number of videos and other online resources posted on my Ancient History Pinterest Board (that place is awesome!!).  I'm planning on several notebooking activities and lapbooks to keep up with the things we learn this year.

So, there it is.  We'll see how this year goes.

Happy Home Learning!!


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