Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yes, they know how to read.

There is no proof in this post that my children can read or add or know whether or not Minnesota is state (yes, to all of the above, for those who care). But here's a great day at school, Iggy, Ooky, and MamaTea style (note: pictures taken over the span of a few days.)

We grab ice cream or a big cup o' joe at the local coffee shop.

We work on more deadfall shelter in the back woods.

We may use our deadfall shelter to enjoy a snack of scrambled eggs eaten out of a tin foil bowl.

Then hanging out with Skippy, the Canadian goose who lives in our backyard and will do just about anything for mini marshmallows.

Time at the community center (which has awesome totally wicked cool homeschool activities and classes) is always a big winner!

And visiting Grandma while she recovers from surgery, and steering her wheelchair to her dinner. And not bumping her into the wall too many times.

All in all, a grand day in "school". :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where is middle?

I don't even know what I want. Isn't that crazy?

I love homeschooling. But every so often, I struggle with the question of what the hell am I doing. Not in the sense I'm not sure in what order to teach American history or what to cover in 1st grade science. I'm talking more along the lines of...well, everything else.

Daily I struggle with how much structure. We can't be super structured, because as has been mentioned before, planning school out with no wiggle room doesn't work well when Dad, who we all enjoy to spend time with, may be home. Or might not. Or maybe he will be. But wait, I guess not. (Law enforcement, I tell ya.) But no structure? My insane little men can drive me insane when left to their own devices for more than 4 hours at a time. I know adults who can't handle non-structure. So once again, the answer lies somewhere in that elusive middle. The middle part that isn't easily found. I am completely convinced that throughout the course of life, "middle" shifts around many times.

We have an issue right now with groups. We used to be a non-group homeschooling family. Now, we essentially belong to three. That meet every week. Its not working. Plop swimming lessons on top of that, and seriously. Are we doing school, or are we learning how to behave in a car? We went from nothing to everything. And not even really on purpose. Where is middle?

I've decided some of the same things that make homeschooling so absolutely awesome are the same things that make it really really hard. For instance, homeschool celebrates our individual decisions. The differences between us. The freedom to teach our kids the way we want. And while those are the things that make homeschooling so great, its also what makes homeschooling tricky. Its great to be different, but everyone is different. A homeschooler is not a homeschooler is not a homeschooler. So try to throw us together in a group setting and have a suitable outcome...hmmm. It can be chaos! Where as in public school things are planned out and you know what is expected (regardless of whether or not you agree with it)....things are planned out! (easy!) You know what is expected! (Easy!) (Amazing how the emphasis changes the meaning, eh?)

Homeschooling is awesome because its up to us. But its also scary as hell because its up to us.

I'm just a little caught up in that right now. That sometimes I don't know if we will ever find the right method of learning. Or the right group for what we're looking for. Cripes, sometimes I don't even know what we're looking for.

Like I said in the beginning, I don't even know what I want. Except, perhaps, happy boys. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hopefully, there was no "education" involved...

Last night I was getting things ready for church today. We make it a Saturday night process so Sunday morning isn't so rushed. (We drive 45 minutes to church, so we like to get as much ready the night before as we can.) So there I was last night, getting things ready to sub in the high school Sunday school class, putting together my books and papers, figuring out if there is anything clean to know, important things like that.

I turn on the light to try on what I found that was clean and realize the light is burnt out. So I'm dressing by the light of the stairway. Not a big deal though, all I needed to know was were the pants (which I'd never worn) going to zip, and was the shirt (also new to me from a garage sale) going to fall to an appropriate place on the pants. (Shirts that reveal your belly are only cute on two year olds.) I quick glance in the not well lit mirror and decide the outfit is a go, take it off, get into bed. Done deal.

We go to church today, all is well. The boys and I meet Grandma and Grandpa after church for coffee and ice cream (their treat) and I quick run into the bathroom. Inside, there is a lovely large mirror that is well lit. Which reveals to me that if you turn just so, the lovely black shirt I had been wearing all through church is, in fact see-through. Well, not obnoxiously so. But really. If you turned just so, I'm pretty sure it was obvious I had stretch marks.

Hmmm. So now I'm wondering why no one said anything. Am I being paranoid? Was my shirt clung in just the right places so as NOT to be see-through and no one noticed? Or was it obvious and everyone is just thinking I'm some completely inappropriate freak mother?

I'm all for learning from life, but hopefully there was no education going on from my wardrobe malfunction :(

Its a good thing God is so forgiving. I can only hope all the mothers of the young bucks at church will be as well. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Today, boys and girls, we learn about space conservation

I love garage sales. I have a hard time paying more than a buck for much of anything, so even thrift stores are tough for me. I'm tickled that garage sale season has started up again in this part of the world. My boys are delighted, too. However their delight has led us to a bit of dilemma.

People in my bloodline (children included) have a nose for sniffing out deals. And while saving money is great, saving money can sometimes just lead you to acquire more crap. When you can't pass up that great find at the garage sale because its sooooo frugally lovely, you still have to take it home and find a place for it.

In our household, space comes at a premium. Two families, one house, no "garage". I'm guessing the total house square footage at 1500-1800. From which two businesses are run. Where four adults and two rambunctious darlings run freely. Somedays, its more squished than others. In any event, seeing as how "space" isn't readily available, you can't just bring in a Hot Wheels race track and assume its going to fade into the corner somewhere. See where I'm going with this?

Iggy and Ooky are getting good with money, have their own wallets, do odd jobs to earn money every so often. Garage sale season means they're going to get serious bang for their buck. Problem is, where do you put what they buy? (By the way, you can't ask them this at a garage sale when they're looking at the coolest toy ever. It doesn't matter if its taller than they are and longer than their bed. They are so sure they can make room for it.)

Mama had to get creative. First, she told Iggster and Ooky that their room is considered clean when stuff fits in the closet. I don't care how its stacked or shoved in there, but if I sustain major injury when I open the closet door, that means there's too much in there. I also said that their room is considered clean when there isn't anything on the floor. Meaning,, lining up boxes or bags or stacks of books along the outer edge of the room doesn't fly. It needs to be on a shelf or in the closet. So Igg and Ook got to work on that. They decided on an amazing pile of CRAP they suddenly didn't need anymore. I smiled big. The closet door closed nicely. And I could see their floor.

Today was library day, and of course there were garage sales on the way. We stopped, and they were given their wallets. I said to them, you are free to buy what you want, its your money, you earned it. But for every toy you bring into the house, ANOTHER (similarly sized) TOY HAS TO LEAVE. And by leave, I mean LEAVE. Not find somewhere in the dog kennel to store it until a later date. Gone. Never to return.

Something interesting happened. Instead of picking up every toy their little hands could carry (and afford) they started thinking about what they were choosing. They knew that by purchasing something, they would have to move something else out of the house. So that specially garage sale priced giant hot wheels track that takes up a bazillion square feet to store? Wasn't an issue, since the amount of toys they'd have to get rid of to keep it would be insane. Didn't matter if it was in the free box. They weren't the least bit interested in taking it home. And the fifteen million matchbox cars? Even at a penny a piece, do we really want to take home all fifteen million? You could see, they were actually thinking about it...making real decisions.

The boys did end up spending a couple bucks today and came home with a few things each. I made them keep the items in the living room until they went into their room and brought out what they were planning to get rid of in order to bring the new toys in. All in all, it went pretty well. I'm always pretty stoked about life lessons like these. I mean, academics are grand, but really. Being able to add up three dimes and a quarter is great. But looking at the toy and being big enough to decide you don't really need it or want it enough to get rid of something me, that's a way bigger deal.

Too bad stuff like THAT isn't on the standardized tests...

Sun and Dirt = Happy Girl

I hate winter. That's been mentioned before.

This time of year, however, is perfect. You can smell the dirt. You can walk barefoot in the grass. You put the new-to-you (but previously used) clothesline into the ground and watch all the clothes whip around in the million-mile-an-hour wind...which is exactly what we did yesterday. It was fantastic. Nothing will lift your spirits like a sunny day and the smell of dirt.

Call me weird.

Life has heavily revolved around Earthy things lately (with Earth Day, weather, and Arbor Day...which is today) and its been fun to see how the boys learn and apply. And question. Yesterday when we were hanging clothes, Iggy mentioned that by not using the dryer, we were saving electricity. I agreed. He then wanted to know how we could wash the clothes without going inside. Without skipping a beat, he answers his own question by pointing to the creek that runs through the backyard. So apparently he thinks we are doing a load of wash in the creek sometime soon. "You know, like in the old days, Mom." He did suggest that if the creek wasn't an option (seeing as how there's a ton of algae), that we could warm a big pot of water over the fire and wash them that way.

Aw, my little pioneer. He's got it all planned out!