Tuesday, September 22, 2009

the new "popcorn party"

Back when I was in school and a class did well on a test, we’d be rewarded with an extra recess or perhaps a popcorn party.

Times have changed.
So has “the school”.

Case in point: Our recent “unit” on Alabama.

The US is a fascinating place, and there are so many questions about that gi-normous map we have on the wall. We thought this year we’d do an exploration of the US, and since we have that Alphabetical States and Capitals cd in the car (...the one that goes on and on and I try to drown it out with the many babbling voices in my head, but still I can hear the kids say “Play it again! Play it again!"...), I figure why not start with good ol’ Alabama.

So we dove into Alabama for awhile. Learned things like the average snowfalls and when the hunting seasons open and close and when Alabama entered the union and what the capital is. We talked about the Civil War and the north and south. We talked about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. We talked about a statue to a boll weevil and a cemetery for coon dogs and George Washington Carver and peanuts. We talked about the mail route delivered by way of water and the first 911 call and so many other things. And of course, we cranked Sweet Home Alabama (the ORIGINAL one) quite a few times.

So much information. Did they remember any of it?We decided to have a chat about Alabama with each of the boys (separately) to see if they’d picked up any of the information we’d traipsed across over the past couple weeks.

And guess what? They had.

We figured it was as close to a test as we’re ever going to get at this point, and decided a unit well done deserved something rewarding and creative. For all people involved.

That is why, my dear blogosphere friends, we decided to go hunting in Alabama.

(Ok, not really hunting in Alabama. But close enough for a really frugal family of four. And this will be far more entertaining if you imagine me with a southern accent.)

So here’s how ya do it. Hubster prints some targets off the internet and staples them to pieces of cardboard. But these aren't just targets of any animals, they are only of animals you would hunt in Alabama. Hubster goes out into the backwoods and sets them up in different places. You then go out as a family, one child with a BB gun, and look for Alabama Animals. When the young'in sees one, they get three shots per target, and then they move on.

Don't shoot the ones that aren't from Alabama, though, or you lose points!!

When you've found all five Alabama animals, take your targets down, and go sit on the bridge so Hubster can reset new targets. Then the other young'in has a go at it.

When everyone has done their Virtual Alabama Hunting, we figure out what targets you got a clean shot at, and you claim those as your prize.

This, my friends, is the stuff memories are made of.
(You can stop imagining me with a southern accent, now.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

first day

Look at us.
It's the first day of co-op. In the morning. Before we left.

What you probably can't tell in the picture is that Iggy still wasn't quite sure he was on board with the whole co-op thing. In fact, a few days earlier, after leaving co-op "orientation", he flat out told me "I'll be doing something else on Monday, because I am NOT going to co-op".

What you can't tell from that picture is I didn't sleep much the night before. Between trying to remember what I was supposed to bringing to co-op, finishing up last minute things on the poetry class I was teaching, wondering what my first hour wildlife biology class kids would be, and crossing my fingers really tightly that Iggy wouldn't hide in the corner somewhere to rock himself right into his happy place...

Well, and then there was the fact that I was just a wee bit excited.

Excited to teach 9 year olds about wildlife biology. Because I love wildlife. I love biology. And I don't have 9 year olds.
Excited to dip candles like they did in medieval times, because really...its pretty cool.
Excited to teach the upper grade kids about writing poetry. Because I like to write. Words are like candy. And hearing what older kids have to say about life is pretty dang inspiring.

But also excited that the boys were going to be exploring life separately. Homeschooled life together for two boys a year apart in age, lovely as it is in some areas, is downright difficult in others. (And yes, I know. Siblings always relate to each other in especially lovely ways. They are wired to drive each other nuts. But for whatever reason, those relational specialities have gotten out of control at our house. Blown right past annoying and arrived, full throttle, at absolutely wrong.

Time apart is good. For everyone involved. Time apart equals growth for two boys...and a little breathing room for their mother.

So yes, I was excited for co-op to start.

So it started.
It was great.
Actually, it totally kicked ass.

The co-op earned itself two goofy grins and giant thumbs up from Iggy and Ooky, with Iggy's additional compliment of "Mom, is there anyway we can make the week go faster so next Monday can be here right now?"

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner!

Monday, September 14, 2009

if you were a school picture...

We don't generally take "school pictures". You know, that single kid, posed, nice clothes kinda thing. We're always snapping so many other random pictures of the kids, who has the time to actually stage a picture?


My grandparents 50th wedding anniversary open house is coming up this weekend, and it was requested (for a little display she is making) that I submit a "school type picture" of each of my sweetie pies for her to put out on the table.

I thought great. This will be like pulling teeth. Kids...great grandma wants a picture of you for....wait! where did you go?...

But actually, they took right to it. Ooky pulled out a "fancy outfit" from the closet (size 12, not size 5) and said he was going to take pictures like he was from a magazine. Here is what we got:

Iggy picked out his own very mismatched, free spirited outfit, and wouldn't sit still for long. He was sure that every time I pointed the camera at him, he was supposed make monster faces...or scared faces...or I'm dying faces...or....

But we did get this shot, which I thought was pretty handsome.

or this one, zoomed in a bit...

Which I thought was pretty good, since the last picture I had snapped of him, the night before, was this:

How about that one for grandma's display? ;)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A gift for "back to school"

People, in casual conversation the past week, have asked aren't you excited your kids are going back to school in a few days?

smile, sigh.

Iggy told me the other day "Mom, we don't really go back to school. I guess in a way, we never leave school. You know, because we're always learning."

smile, sigh.

But there is something about September. Something about those back to school sales, the air, the season, the I-don't-know-what, that make this time of year seem a little more exciting for me. Even as whatever-kind-of-homeschooler-I'm-classified-as...dang, I still kinda like the "newness" that comes along with September.

So even though we don't do any official "back to school" big hurrah, and even though the only thing different about our September 8th from our September 7th will be that we can once again visit the library without fighting the crowds...I kinda feel like I got a back to school present.

It came yesterday from a family member who stumbled upon my blog (by way of Facebook) and sent me a little note (by way of email).
It totally made my day.
Go ahead, grab a big spoon and dig in...I'll share :)

I just wanted to say thank you. I have spent a good deal of the morning reading your blog. I have to admit, when I heard you were homeschooling the boys I kind of wondered how that would work out. But I have to admit your more "unconventional" way of teaching (as some would say) seems to me to be a better alternative than the herding of kids through school we have now. You have your teachings geared to what they are excited about and they wind up learning more because they want to learn and read. (...She then talks about some issues she's having with her high school aged daughter...)So again, I say thank you for teaching me that the road of the masses is not always the best route to take. Sometimes a little "off-roading" is much more enjoyable!

How sweet is that?

Happy Back to School, whatever that happens to mean for you and your family.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

sit. stay. good girl.

So in between a) making sense of the mess in the basement we call home and b) baking a chocolate zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting, I sit here to write.

It's good to sit.
No running.
A day to catch up.

Don't get me wrong, running is fun. I love to be out and doing. Running is great.

In our world, running is...

playing in the mud

hanging out with spiderman

becoming a butterfly whisperer

snuggling down in the camper

waking up quite early at the campsite to see this beautiful riverside view

and this rather silly view

discovering geocaching (and becoming flat out addicted to it)

Yes, that is running in our world.
I imagine within a few days, we will be off and running again.
Welcome to the world, boys. Have at it. ;)