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Showing posts from December, 2010

Sponsoring A Child

Today we put our family plan of sponsoring a child through Save the Children into action.  Rather than fill out an impersonal form online, I called the home office located close to our house to see if it would be possible to apply for the sponsorship in person.  The woman I spoke to encouraged us to come in and view the offices, look at the pictures of children from around the world, and complete the forms. When I hung up the phone, I thought the woman’s name sounded familiar.  It turns out she is very good friends with my sister-in-law and works in the same department as she, Donor Services.  Before we left, the four of us pooled our money; $10 from dog walking, $10 from tutoring and $10 from Greg’s spending money, and we set out for Westport.   Upon arriving, we asked for the woman I spoke with and we were introduced.  She then introduced us to the Director of Donor Services, who ushered us into her office and helped us pick a child.  We explained we wanted to support a child in the U…

Blizzard Reflections

A blizzard gives you time to think.  Time to reflect on what you want out of the upcoming year.  Top on my list is maximizing our homeschool experience.  I have been compiling some things that I want to accomplish provided the girls are excited about them as I am. I want to do an awesome Nature Study combined with a in depth study of Botany.  Using Apologia Botany we will extend what we have touched upon in Audubon and outside science classes.  We will also get out more.  I took out all the books that looked interesting from our local library.  My plan for the week between Christmas and New Years is to read, read and read some more.  Right now I am reading Teaching Kids to Love the Earth.  My kids have a natural desire to explore and wander so thankfully I don’t have to spark their interest.  We are registered for a winter survival class led by Lilah’s teacher at Two Coyotes.  Every month I will plan one big “field” activity for the family.  Possible trips will include a winter nature …

Budget time again.....

We are a homeschooling family yet we have a vested interest in the health of our town’s public schools.  When Greg and I were looking to purchase our home, we wanted a neighborhood that resembled the ones we grew up in, where neighbors knew each other, cared about the children and was supported by a local neighborhood school.  We found all of these in our neighborhood.  Even though my girls no longer attend this school, my friend’s children do.  Just because our family made an alternative choice to educate our girls, we realize that at some point they may want to return to public school.  While I think this is less likely for Lilah, I have always felt that Grace’s path in education may be very different, and she may want to return for middle school, or high school.   I fear that the system she left may be very different from the one she would return to.  Once again, it is budget time in our town.  Our town’s superintendent is infamous for threatening  layoffs and closures should her pro…

Top 5 Posts of 2010

I have been homeschooling for almost a year!  Lilah just realized this yesterday.  I feel like 2011 is going to be simply amazing.  We have been through many of the adjustment phases of withdrawing children from public school.  We have met new friends and their amazing families.  We have realized we do not want to school-at-home.  We have adjusted our philosophy on education.  We have struggled to find balance.  We have found a new peace in our home (well....most days!) and through all this we have learned.  Learned about what education is and is not.  Learned more about who we are as people, what we like, dislike, and want to learn more about.  We have been new places, places we may never have discovered before.  We have had fun times, really really fun times.   I feel like in a way, we are just beginning.  The road ahead of us has an undetermined destination.  What fun it will be to journey along it. Here are my top five blog posts from last year.  I think the fact they were the most …

Happy Solstice!

When would my girls have the opportunity to view their first lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice?  Never again if not for last night!  It was another moment where I was thankful for homeschooling.  If this had been last year I don’t think I would have set an alarm for 3:00am to wake up a house of sleeping people.  Back then, I tended to be fairly rigid with rules like bedtime because sending sleepy kids to school is no fun for anyone. It turns out I did not need the alarm.  The storm that missed coastal Connecticut and brought snow to Cape Cod and the islands, gave us some high wind.  As fascinated as Grace is with weather, she is terrified of windy nights.  At 1:00 she crawled into bed with us.  We kicked Jake (the dog) out to make room for her long, lanky body.  At 2:00 Lilah came in to tell us she had a dream about being stuck in quicksand.  Poor baby.  Nightmares are awful.  I got her tucked back into her own bed since she declined the invitation to crawl in with us.  Upon returni…

The Gift of Giving

Sometimes I dream about doing something bigger than who I am: affecting change in some small, permanent way.  I have done things in the past that I am very proud of.  Lately however, my focus has been on what is happening inside my own four walls, with the four members of my family, that it seems I have lost my way with something I love -- philanthropy. When Grace was just a baby I organized a book drive.  I was teaching and I knew how fortunate my daughter was to have a room full of books waiting for her when she was born.  The children I taught came from one of the wealthiest districts in our state.  Books for them were like water, something just taken for granted.  But in my town and the neighboring towns, this was not always the case.  With the help of friends and family members we collected books at our places of employment.  We collected over 1,000 books.  They were given away to local children’s charities such as Birthright and The Center for Women and Families.  It felt good.  …

Percy Jackson

When I read this book well over a year ago,  I dreamed of reading it with my girls.  It is a PERFECT read aloud book.  So far we are reading it, mostly a chapter at a time.  Sometimes we alternate reading, each taking a page.  My Aunt gave me a great suggestion for choral reading.   Sometimes I read more than they do....like I have lately since Lilah has been so sick.  Next to us we have our D’Aulaires book of myths to refer back to.  I want to get the Usborne book of mythology as well.  We also have several books out from the library and have been using Centaurs, Sirens and Other Classical Creatures by Robin Palmer often. On the wall I have the Zeus-Hera family tree.  As we come across a God we add a post it note with the God’s name, his or her offspring from the book and what they are the God of.  Secondary Gods like Pan and Eros, are placed under a separate category.  We have learned that Theseus and Perseus are both Heroic Myths and there are also cosmic myths.   Today while reading…

Wintuk!

How I wanted to love this show....  I really really did.  But I didn’t.  Thankfully Grace and her good friend did love it.  They loved every minute of it.  Grace loved the skateboarding, inline skating, biking and trampolining.  She loved the acrobatics, the flexibility, and the creativity displayed by the performers.  I think she also loved being in New York City with just her girlfriend (and me of course!). This was supposed to be a family holiday event.  The tickets were purchased back in August for 1/2 price through a homeschooling yahoo group.  I am hesitant to book things that far in advance, especially in the winter months because inevitably one of my girls will get sick.  This time it was Lilah.  After three days of a stomach virus, there was no way I was taking her on a train, into the close cramped mass of humanity that is NYC during the holidays.  With an already weakened immune system, there is no telling what should would catch next....... So I offered the ticket to Grace’s…

A Family in Sickness and in Health

Sickness has invaded my home at the worst possible time of the year! This is more than runny stuffy noses and wastebaskets full of Kleenex.  This is vomiting and diarrhea -- for three days!  First my baby was sick with a horrible, deep, rattling cough.  Eventually it went away.  I was glad.  But her immune system was weakened to the point of allowing another predator in.  The stomach bug.  She began throwing up Saturday night and is still throwing up here and there today.  She is weak and wobbly.  She is teeny tiny to begin with and this has just knocked her out. Theresa over at Our Life in Words, who is also experiencing her first holiday season at home with her girls, asked how this holiday is different than last.  There are so many ways in which this year is different than last.  But the one that sticks out most in my mind right now is that Lilah would have missed about a week of school.  I could not have sent her with the cough.  Well....I could have, but I would not have.  I most …

Our Accomplishments

We took a break from academics this week.  The girls needed time to unwind, relax and recover from illness.
Monday was spent on the floor in front of the fire resting.  Grace came down with a horrid cold and Lilah’s cough was worse.  They listened to me read a chapter of Percy Jackson and many weather videos were watched.  Store was played with the American Girl dolls and the cash register.  Flute lessons were cancelled and bedtime was early - for all of us. Tuesday brought piano lessons for Grace and sewing lessons for Lilah.  Her quilt is stunning.  I am so very, very proud of my little girl.  The fabrics she chose compliment one another and the colors are mature and remind me of something middle eastern.  The base colors are green, gold and purple and the designs are infused with silver and gold threads.  Susy and Lilah spent one whole lesson doing the math, laying out the squares and creating the pattern of the quilt.  They showed me the abcd pattern which they mapped out in grids. …

Holiday Expectations

My friend Theresa over at Our Life in Words wrote a post, Holiday Expectations, that stuck in my mind all day.  Her writing was filled with longing for bygone holidays when family members were still alive, when holidays were spent celebrating and when life seemed simpler. When I married Greg, his family had a tradition of Christmas Eve dinner.  After church his brothers and sisters and their children would head on over to his parent’s house for food, drinks and fun.  It was one of those warm and fuzzy nights that Theresa wrote about from her childhood.  Except that it was not how I was used to spending Christmas Eve.  It was fine before we had children.  We could enjoy each other’s company then come home to relax in front of the fire get a good night sleep and wake up to the craziness that was Christmas.  My children have nine older cousins.  Back then with nine kids with only a ten year separation from oldest to youngest, it was madness.  Once my girls were born I wanted to have the C…

A Charmed Life

My girls and I live a charmed life.  Here was our day: At nine o’clock this morning, we are picked up by our good friends to travel to New Haven for a concert at Yale’s Woolsey Hall.  We parked and bravely battled the cold windy city streets winding our way through the campus towards the hall.  We settled into our seats and waited for the concert to start.  This was a combined effort between the Yale Children’s Theater and The Saybrook College Orchestra.  The orchestral quality was supurb.  The music selection however, was too mature for elementary students.  Topping it off, the Children’s Theater wrote skits to perform in between pieces.  Two girls "interviewed"  famous composers such a Mozart, asking him to convince them why they should listen to classical music when it is “stupid” and boring”.  I was shocked that no one in charge would have questioned their skits and asked what the children in the audience would take away from this.  There were many schools in attendance. …

Piano Recital

For those of you who came to Grace's recital yesterday, thank you.  It meant the world to her to have you share in her day.  To those of you who could not come, you were missed.  Thank you to my nephew for this video he made with his itouch.  I am very grateful since my camera battery died on her first note!

Enjoy~

UCONN

Saturday Grace and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a three hour biology at the main campus of UCONN taught by Dr. Ken Noll, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology.  The focus was kitchen germs: health or harmful?  How clean is your kitchen?  We started our journey at 8am armed with breakfast, coffee and a used kitchen washcloth that was used to clean up the morning mess.  I hoped to use the one from the previous day but it was tossed into the wash before I could set it aside.
Using the scientific method we constructed an experiment to see which conditions affect yeast’s ability to produce CO2.  Our variable was temperature and our samples were placed in an ice bath, warm bath, close to boiling bath and room temperature.  Grace’s prediction was that the room temperature sample would produce the greatest amount of carbon dioxide.  In fact, the warm bath, 45 degrees C ended up being the most productive.

While our yeast samples were growing, we learned the proper hand washing proce…

Our Accomplishments

It was soothing to see some free time on our calendar this week.  But it left me wondering if we accomplished as much as we usually do in a week.  Our focus this week was not on academics but on conscious living, slowing down, preparing for the Christmas season and working out some kinks in our routines. Last week Grace was ready to walk away from her flute.  With a little encouragement, more practice and a new determination, she had a great lesson.  She is excited for her first performance in January.  I learned this week that it is okay to skip the bridges in Life of Fred and just focus on the lessons.  If I notice her struggling or becoming frustrated, I don’t need a bridge to tell me she needs review before moving on to the next lesson.  Just to confound me, Grace did do the bridge, passed and is moving ahead in her lessons.  She also finished Ninth Ward.  I asked her to write about why she liked the book. From this piece of writing I began to teach writing a 5 paragraph expository…

Cheating vs. Learning

Let’s assume we are working on a research project.  We keep a notebook of what we have covered and learned thus far.  Suddenly we come across something that stumps us.  We are perplexed.  It is something we remember seeing and is most likely in our notebook.  We flip back and yes!  There it is, dated and outlined.  We are able to review it and move forward.   Now let’s change that scenario to school.  The child keeps a math notebook.  Terms and symbols such as greater than, less than, times tables and angle definitions are listed, dated, and illustrated. Suddenly the student comes across something that they are perplexed by, perhaps it is a long division problem. The answer just does not seem right.  Could it be that they made a mistake about how many times 12 goes into 72?  They could flip back to that nicely illustrated table of the 12s multiplication facts.  Could they?  Sure.  Except they would get a zero for cheating.  I forgot to mention this is a quiz.  No looking back at previo…