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Showing posts from June, 2010

Day 2

I am loving our new upstairs arrangement. The “lounge” is such a relaxing, naturally lit, peaceful place to read, work on the computer, watch frogs and learn. Everything has a home now and cleaning up after lessons is a breeze. Today was day 2 of our summer-term lessons and even with a lightened schedule we are accomplishing many things. Lilah learned how to do three digit addition and has completed two lessons in her Singapore Math workbook. Grace is working out of a 4th grade enrichment program and today we all learned what a nomograph is. Well.....we learned what one looks like. We tried to google it but the definitions were so technical I could not understand it, let alone explain it to a nine year old! Grace has made a new blog entry and is typing her third. They have both made journal entries. Grace finished a book, The Fairy’s Mistake and is working on finishing Where I’d Like To Be. This was huge. She was so happy to just be able to finish a book. We are putting T…

L.E.N.S. Photo Challenge - Animal Friends

Jake. Our buddy, our heating blanket, our goofball, our best friend, our dancing partner, our protector.
Check out the other entries at www.homeiswhereyoustartfrom.com.

Feeder Fish

Lilah and I just got back from Petco where we purchased 4 guppies as feeder fish for the frogs. I was not sure how my vegetarian-want-to-be daughter would handle this. She said she did not mind. Wow! She must really like these frogs. We also bought some plants to make their setting look more natural. It is funny how each frog has its own personality. One is more aggressive, eats more, swims more and is larger. This is Taylor. Ralph is more timid, hides more, is smaller. I worry that Taylor is eating the majority of the food and at some point may try to eat Ralph! I don’t know if that would in fact happen, but I plan to find out before I learn the hard way.....Lilah has taken quite a liking to these two frogs. She watches them, talks to them and is the one that is taking on the responsibility for their care. She collected river rocks from our landscaping, washed them and placed them in the tank to create natural hiding places. She is now arranging the plants just so. She…

A Friendly Takeover

I think my girls are trying to take over my blog! They have been furiously writing in their journals with topics they would like to blog about. Grace is moving away from her comfort area of book recommendations and is now writing about events, like yesterday’s violent storm. Not to be outdone by her sister, Lilah is walking around pencil in hand, journal open writing away. Her entries are more human interest, like how we found a displaced baby bird on our “damage assessment walk” after the storm and were trying to figure out how to rescue it when we realized it was old enough to fly. They want their own blog space but they are young. I know this is an era of computers but should they have something on the internet that is permanent when they are so young? I look at the benefits: meaningful writing experience, sparking an interest in journalism or creative writing, building computer literacy, practice with their new typing skills, the connections that can be made through bloggin…

Guest Blogger - Grace's Book Recommendation #2!

Do you want to read a humorous story? Then read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. This book is about a fourth grader who just so happens to have a little brother,Fudge, [ Farley Drexel ] who is annoying. He has a birthday party. And it is hard work. Fudge’s brother, Peter, and his friend, Jimmy, and a girl, Sheila have to watch Fudge at the park, and his two front teeth fall out jumping off a play set trying to fly! So as you can see, Fudge can cause alot of trouble!Books in Order1: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing2: Super Fudge3: Fudge - a- Mania4: Double FudgeAlso: Otherwise Known as Sheila the GreatThis book is a Realistic Fiction book. And there’s more than one book. So if you like it, you can get more.

Frogs

Yesterday we brought home two frogs from Grace’s school. I was planning for two African Dwarf frogs. My generous friend over at Frog Creek, loaned me her unused filter, pump and aquarium light as well as the water conditioner. Since I have been promising the girls we could get frogs since Lilah completed her unit study back in February, I felt this was a blessing as well as a gift. Upon peeking inside the coffee container I realized they seemed a bit large for dwarf frogs. Mind you, I have no frog experience, only what I learned from internet sites. I learned that dwarf frogs have webbed front legs and these two frogs clearly did not have webbed toes. That means they are African Clawed frogs. I went into a mild panic. This was not what I planned for and I did not want to commit to a big cost, difficult care and aggressive frogs. Just as I was about to post them on freecycle, my friend talked to me and calmed me down. We set up the tank. Lilah collected river rocks and built…

Guest Blogger - Grace's Book Recommendation!

Have you ever read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? It's about an eleven year old boy named Harry. His mom and dad died when Harry was just a baby. Lord Voldemort had killed the parents but not Harry. Somehow Harry weakened Voldemort. Harry goes to live with his rotten aunt and uncle, and his cousin, Dudley. He does not know that he is a wizarduntil this giant, called Hagrid tells him. He goes to Hogwarts, a wizard school. He is famous just because he survived Voldemort. Wizards are afraid to say his name.Does he meet any friends? Does he meet up with Voldemort? Does he meet an enemy? Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to find out. (you will understand the title)

L.E.N.S. Photo Challenge - Summer

This was taken on a trip to TN at the Dollywood Water Park. She was mostly asleep in my lap and I took her picture upside down. There is something about the smell of summer on your child that I wish I could bottle and save for the cold winter months. This was one of those days - sun, sunscreen, cholorine, fried chicken, love, mmmm.....summer.

Check out the other entries at: http://www.homeiswhereyoustartfrom.com/

No Regrets

Yesterday I met with our Principal to discuss withdrawing Grace from school. At first I was very skeptical of this meeting, unsure of the intent behind it. In Connecticut we do not have to sign a letter of intent, an agreement between the Board of Education and homeschooling families that states what subjects will be taught and agrees to an annual portfolio review. My opinion on this differs from many families I know in that I would agree to a review-- if asked. I am so very proud of our accomplishments, that I would be willing to share them with the school. However, I do see the concern that in allowing this oversight, the door could be opened for increased regulation in terms of standardized curriculum, testing and reporting, things which many of us opted out of public school because of.I digress.......I was leery about meeting. The Principal and I have openly differed on several policy changes: removal of the Halloween parade, removal of Patriotic Song of the Day, removing …

The Plan Is Complete!

What a day! We had the blessing of having Greg home most of the day and because of this we were able to put the finishing touches on our plan for a learning room. Yesterday Lilah and I emptied out her bedroom and moved her bed into Grace’s room. It looks wonderful. They have spent a great deal of time playing, decorating and organizing. Now and then a sad look will come across Grace’s face and she will say that it feels weird that it is not “her” room anymore. Hopefully that feeling will fade as we redecorate the room with new pictures, new bedspreads and make more play room by removing her desk.Before: Lilah’s room emptied of its contents. We gave it a good cleaning and prepared to change the function of the room.
Now both beds are seperated by their nightstands. None of the furniture matches but it gives the room an eclectic feeling. Cozy, intimate and for the moment, clean!


We renamed this room The Learning Lounge. Our leather chair, a drop leaf table, new rug, bookshelf …

At the Breakfast Table

Some families have dinner together and that is where their best discussions take place. For us it is the breakfast table. It has always been just the three of us, Greg having been long gone on a southbound train to New York, sitting at our round table in the dining room. This is where the good stuff happens. This is when we talk about friendship troubles, things we are doing, how we are feeling and what our upcoming day looks like. I have long resented school for interrupting the best part of our day. We can be in the middle of a great chat and I notice it is creeping closer to 8:00am. The girls are not dressed, the lunch box is not packed, the folder is not in the backpack and teeth still have to be brushed! Our wonderful conversation is hastily pushed aside in favor of the mad-dash to be out the door by 8:30. I wonder how many other families were similarly interrupted, inconvenienced and how many thoughtful, meaningful, important conversations were put on hold, perhaps never…

Making it Official

After months of debate, wondering, worrying and deciding, it is official. Grace's Letter of Withdrawal was sent via certified mail to the Superintendent and Principal today. In four more days I will be homeschooling both my daughters!

Ping Pong

Something knocked me on my butt this weekend. 102 fever, migraine headache, ear pain, muscle weakness followed by upset stomach. No fun at all. Especially on Greg’s 40th birthday weekend! I am going to make it up to him on Father’s Day. We do birthdays big here and I blew this one. For his 35th I threw a party and invited his college friends for the day. He did not want a party this year, but I feel like we let him down. I gave him a watch that is very similar to the one he gave me last Christmas that I adore. It did not work and had to go back.
the cake Lilah baked from scratch for her Daddy:What he really really wants is an outdoor ping-pong table. I told him to get the credit back on the watch and apply it toward the pool table. So far he thinks he knows the brand he wants, but he would like to actually see the table first and we are having a hard time finding a retailer who has it. I don’t know when he is going to have time to use this ping pong table. Maybe the flood li…

Project Limulus

Thursday the Brownies and Daisies had the unique opportunity to have a class with students from Sacred Heart University who are part of Project Limulus, a scientific study of horseshoe crabs. The purpose of the study is to understand if harvesting crabs can coincide with conserving their numbers. After a lesson about horseshoes crabs, the girls were able to capture, tag and release two horseshoe crabs back into Long Island Sound. One of the things that has amazed me with about homeschooling is the quality of programs available to the children. This program was scheduled by their Troop Leader after she attended a lecture at her local library. My experience has been that groups are very willing to schedule times and provide opportunities for children during the day. As a result, Lilah’s spring has been an emersion in nature studies and ecology. I know for her birthday she will be getting quality nets for exploring. I have also benefitted from her classes. I have acquired new k…

I am not a toy, I am a boy!

One of my goals for my family is to get out and explore Connecticut. Despite the fact I was not feeling well, we ventured to Litchfield County to Southwind Farm in Watertown. They were having an open house and graciously invited us to play with their 55 alpaca. We met one of Lilah’s friends from Two Coyotes, and her family there since it was practically in their backyard! It was certainly worth the ride. We learned that alpaca are related to camels, are social, many know their name, and can range from $500 pets to $200,000 show animals. Their coats were recently sheared and are being turned into yarn that rivals cashmere. They love the snow but must be protected from the heat.For some reason they reminded us of our big goofy dog Jake. The long legs, plush coat, same coloring, same goofy personality I guess. MacGuire was on of the alpaca we visited with. He was playful, curious and took a liking to my friends son who is four. At one point he knocked him down thinking he was …

In Terms of Planning......

I have been thinking about how to plan our year. I don’t want to take the whole summer off. I want to do a light term which would include math, lots of pleasure reading, journaling, science, some handwriting practice since Lilah is making such great progress with cursive and a fun geography study of our state (we would do this on rainy days at the library). My girls are not opposed to this because they enjoy the spontaneous opportunities that homeschooling brings; like extended playdates, trips to the beach, outside classes, nature walks, and the ability to be free from a schedule.
I am thinking of doing quarters with the summer quarter being a lighter load. Our year would look like: Summer Term: July - September with last week of September and first week of October off.Fall Term: October - December with Last week of December and First week of January off (which will be great to visit with school friends).Winter Term: January-March with last week of March and first week of April…

Train Hopping

I have been to New York City many many times with the girls. We think nothing of packing a backpack and jumping on a southbound train. We are fortunate to have a train station a little over a mile from our house. Today I learned how to navigate the trains. I have never taken the train other than a direct trip to Manhattan. The girls and I went to the New York City Botanical Gardens as part of Lilah’s Brownie Troop. It was a perfect day. The weather was just right. The flowers were in full bloom. The children were well behaved. It took three trains to reach our destination. First we had to get from our town to Stamford. That was easy: get on, get off, wait for the next train to come and take that train to Fordham -- where I had planned on taking a taxi to the Garden because I did not know how to get from there to the Garden stop. A very helpful Conductor gave us a pass allowing us to ride the one stop from Fordham to Botanical Gardens for free. He showed us how to cross o…

Spotted at the Audubon

Today was such a peaceful day. Grace was allowed to stay home from school because she was able to present a good case against going. Her teacher is out for three days due to her son’s graduation and the substitutes that Grace has had lately have been a challenge. The yelling, strict policies against talking and lack of organization leave Grace feeling frazzled and anxious. Since she was being taken out tomorrow (from a field trip) to attend a field trip to New York with Lilah’s Brownie Troop anyway...I figured one more day would not make much difference.Our morning began with two girls doing math, writing in their journals, working in their geography study guide for our town, and listening to a book in the car. At the Audubon we were treated to a wonderful hike through swamps teeming with damsel flies, across a meadow that could have been the setting for Twilight’s meadow scene, and through the woods. When the children overturned a log, they found this truly amazing salamander.O…

To The Children of The United States

To the Children of Takaimura
The world is going to end soon, my husband likes to say,For the people that inhabit earth will make it go away. The mother’s fury, the children’s rage, too powerful to deny,Will consume us and exhume us and soon will make us fly. Today I might believe him, might give credence to his call,For in this world, we justify the means to it all. We forget our fragile mother when we focus on her strength,It would be wiser to ponder if our actions give her length. The children of Chernobyl and those of Three Mile Isle,Are joined now by another group who cannot ever smile. Wake the children, let them out, it cannot be too soon,Look above us there is rising a beautiful new moon. Our mother is crying softly, how can it be that you can’t hear?Listen very carefully, or we might just disappear.
I wrote this poem over 10 years ago after a nuclear accident in Japan, but with recent events in the Gulf of Mexico I have been thinking of it again. This disaster scares me. The f…

Life is Not Always Fair and Fair is Not Always Equal

Last night was the spring band concert at school. It was a hard night for me. All year long I feel as though I have been distancing myself from school; first with working full time and not being able to physically be in the school building, then by removing Lilah from the school itself to my continual disdain at the way school operates in general. Sitting there in a crowded gymnasium, it hit me that this may be my last experience with school for some time and quite possibly my last in the school my daughters attended since they were five. In addition to this, I had a moment of uncertainty about Grace. She loves band. She enjoys playing the flute with her friends. Performing brings her joy. I worried about how much she will miss it. I watched her carefully. She did not look happy. She played her songs with pride. However, Grace is a year ahead of the material she was expected to learn in fourth grade. She has taught herself how to play and can easily keep up with the advanc…