Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An odd sighting

Yesterday was one of few occasions I did not have my camera with me. It is usually strapped to my sling pack/purse so I have it with me at all times. It is quite convenient and I often find that I have it at moments when I wouldn't normally have thought to pick it up on the way out. But yesterday I left it home thinking we were going to the MOMS Club Members meeting and then on to the Dollar store. Really, what could be photo-worthy in that stretch? Not much, I thought, so home it stayed.

I wish it hadn't. Because we saw the oddest thing, and something the kids are sure to talk about for a while. And it happened completely by chance. We went to the Dollar Tree looking for the phonics tiles mentioned here. They didn't have them, but we picked up a 2 pack of gliders--made of plastic with weighted noses and a rubberband launcher--which Kiddo and Kutey have been thoroughly enjoying. When we left we noticed a crane had gone up in the parking lot next door. We put our stuff in the car and walked to the Goodwill store. I was looking for a history book I should have picked up on Saturday when I was there, it was gone, but I found myself 2 new fleece shirts for $3, so all was not lost. When we got back to the car, we noticed that now there was a refrigerator in the bucket suspended from the crane. What on earth?

We got in the car and went a little closer, to get a better view. I parked the car, the kids moved to the front seat with me, and we watched as they proceeded to drop that refrigerator and 3 more from at least 30 feet in the air. I wish I could have taken a picture! They were filming a commercial, I assume. There was a local company that does commercials there with cameras. They were positioned in front of a local appliance outlet, and we saw their usual spokesperson (I think he is the owner). The filming was behind a truck from where we were sitting, and I don't think the kids cared. It was just fun to watch them drop refrigerators!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

Kiddo woke up this morning and, in the most chipper of voices, told us he had a bad dream. We asked him about it, as we usually do. He began telling us about it, a generic bad dream that was not terribly worrisome to us. Part way through the telling of the dream he told us it was ok, because you could just call 9-1-1. We haven't covered 9-1-1. It has been mentioned in passing, but no more than that. We started pushing a bit to see just what he knows.

Now here is where he shocked us. He could tell us how to dial it, who would come, and when it should be called. He knew the fire department is contacted that way, the police are contacted that way, and the ambulance is contacted that way. We didn't "teach" him that, he just picked it up. Hubby disclosed that that he had been feeling badly that we hadn't taught him about 9-1-1. Guess we needn't worry. Kiddo is prepared!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Classroom Today--September 22

We hit this park again today:

Given that I was able to take pictures that have not a single child in them, you might not believe my previous statements about the crowds. Believe me, in the summer, it is awful. We had a bit of a scare when a couple of buses arrived, but they went deeper into the park for activities. I am not sure they ever got to play on the equipment--kind of a unique kind of torture, you can see it, but no, you can't play there!

We again visited the woods after lunch. The kids spent hours adding finishing touches to the wood hut they have helped to build. They hung bits of plastic they found in the woods, the found special brightly colored leaves and put them in cubbies in the house. They gathered firewood. They designated spaces for cupboards. And all of this they did by negotiating with one another. We never heard an argument. Well, we didn't hear an argument for a couple of hours. When they start getting tired, we can tell, but then we kinda know what is going on. They are having so much fun! And coming home completely exhausted.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our classroom today...

was this:

Well, this and two other ponds, the area surrounding them, etc.

I often get asked about how homeschooling works by parents who send their kids to public and private schools. They ask about my schedule. They ask how I get them to do their work. They ask if we are very definite about when we are in school. It becomes obvious that they can't imagine homeschooling because they are thinking of putting the classroom into the home. I know there are homeschoolers that work that way. But it is so far from what I do that I usually end up laughing.

Today is a perfect example. We spent 5 hours playing in the ponds at a nature center. They had a bucket that had nets, bowls, spoons, magnifying glasses, and a page of pictures and names of the things we might see. We saw snails and minnows and water boatmen, leeches and water mites and damselfly nymphs and side swimmers. We saw turtles and dragonflies and hawks. The kids were at their best. There were 6 kids, and none of them melted down, there were no fights, there was a great deal of teamwork, and it was one of the most delightful days! I attribute a great deal of that to them being in their element.

And that is what homeschool often looks like for us. Time spent immersing ourselves into the learning. Time spent with others who are doing the same thing. Time spent in a great big classroom without walls. There were no books, no computers. One double-sided piece of paper told us as much as we needed to know. The kids were not even aware they were learning. They didn't know "school" was happening. And that is when I know we are at our best. They will remember far more that they saw and learned today than they ever would if I tried to teach it to them sitting at the dining room table, which is where most people assume I homeschool. I should take a picture of the table for you. Then you could laugh, too, because there is very little chance we would be doing school among the piles there!

Muffin Tin Monday--unthemed

I have missed a couple of Muffin Tin Mondays. It isn't that I haven't served a meal in a tin, we just have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to blog them! And it takes very little time to blog a muffin tin. That is just how busy we have been.

We did our Muffin Tin Monday for dinner last night. Hubby is taking a class on Monday nights, so I am on my own to feed the kids. It worked out well yesterday, since we went from Lego League in the morning, to a chocolate potluck at lunch, and then to art class. Muffin tins were not to be. But dinner worked perfectly for a muffin tin! I have no clue what the theme was supposed to be, but here is what we had!

muffin tin Monday

Here is Kutey's:
muffin tin Monday
Milk, pudding (under the foil--can't be open or that is all she would eat!), cherry tomatoes from the garden, fish sticks, tarter sauce, sweet potato fries, applesauce, yogurt with honey.

And Kiddo's:
muffin tin Monday

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Classroom Today--September 8

Today is the day that MOST public schools in my area started. Last year at this time, I was worried about Kiddo missing out on all that first day of school electricity. This year, far less concern. We like our rhythm. We like our freedom. And we like being able to go to places like this:
when there are very few other kids around! Today, for "Not Back to School Day," we met friends here. We went once this summer, and all of our kids came out and said there were too many kids in the park to play. It was true, busloads of children had arrived, making it rather unpleasant. We couldn't blame them.
After playing on the equipment to their hearts content, we had some lunch. After lunch, the kids chose to play here:
instead of on the equipment. Really, they enjoy this as much or more than the equipment. They played here this summer, too, when the equipment was too crowded. I love that they love this just as much. I love to watch them play here. I love that we can spend the entire day here if that is what we want to do.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finding a homeschool niche

There are a lot of homeschoolers in my area. I am grateful for that. But finding a group, even a small group, of like-minded homeschoolers is nearly impossible it seems.

I am not talking about curriculum like-minded. I am pretty eclectic, have read about a lot of different programs, pulled in bits and pieces from a variety of places. I am very open (I think) to listening to what others have chosen to use and why. I don't think I push my ideas onto others, and if I do it is most certainly unintentional. I definitely do not think my way is the best or only way of doing things. It is the method that works for us, and that is one of the best things about homeschooling, choosing what works for you.

No, I am talking about people who are interested in similar things as my family outside of the homeschooling arena. I'd love to find families that we mesh well with, people I can talk to and don't get uncomfortable with the conversation time and again. It has happened to me several times lately. Honestly, I don't think I need to talk about the vaccination debate (because it seems I am on the wrong side) or homebirth/natural birth/hospital birth/cesarean birth (you can probably guess why), or the evils of doctors (I have many friends in the medical professions, I fully trust them), or how terrible it is to not eat only organic foods (I can't afford organic foods exclusively). If there wasn't so much judgment loaded into these conversations maybe it would be ok. The problem is I walk away feeling beat up for the choices (or in some cases the necessities!) of my life.

That is not what I need from a day at the park with other homeschoolers. I want my kids to have friends, but I am struggling with finding a way to let them have friends and allow me to not dread the play dates. I'd love for the people to be close geograpically. Right now, I am going a bit out of my way to go hang out with people I enjoy, and hoping Kiddo and Kutey like their kids, too. We need the interaction. How do I find the people I need?