Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pre-Halloween Faces

Who needs electricity to have some holiday fun?  Not MamaK!
Who needs heat to have fun?  Not these kids!
But friends need heat.  They need running water.  They need to light their home that is filled with so much love.  
Hopefully these things will be coming their way soon.

How did my baby get this old?

Love this boy.  Check out the snow on the deck!

Casting her spell.....

Happy Happy Halloween!

Feel the love?!

Pretty as a peacock!

The blood was from his mad-ninja-skills.

eyeballs.  on toothpicks.  Yum.

Love her colors.

Happy Hostess!

Zombie love.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week of October 24th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

The post with no pictures!

In My Home This Week: We have been having some growing pains.  Growing up pains.  In our coop, the girls are dealing with having a teacher who they feel is not a good fit for them.  I have to laugh when people site the stereotype that homeschool kids are not prepared for real life.  They are.  They are dealing with real life issues every single day.  I told my daughter I support her reasons to drop the class but she cannot simply walk away.  She must tell the teacher her reasons for dropping, either in writing or in person.  I will help her organize her thoughts, but she must be the one to initiate the conversation.  Then if she wants to sit with me during the time she would be in class, she has my blessing.  Part of participating in a coop is having the opportunity to work with several different adults.  Some are great fits and serve as teachers, mentors, role models.  Others, not so much!  But that is okay.  It is important to know who you want to work with, as it will help the children identify what type learning/working style fits them best.
We are also struggling with the desire to take a trip versus the fear of not wanting to fly.  Greg has a position that will take him to several domestic locations this year.  It was a goal of mine to travel as much as possible with him.  The next trip involves a plane ride.  Both my girls want to take this trip as it will give them the chance to see two different friends, but they said the would rather stay home then fly.  What to do?  Push them past their fear, or accept it?  I am not a great flyer.  I have not traveled extensively and will always choose driving over flying.  But we would miss out on great things if we never challenged ourselves past the point of comfort.   Greg and I decided to book the trip and help the girls the best we can.  They are excited, but nervous.  More roadschooling blog posts will be coming soon!
In My Homeschool This Week:  Things are progressing the best they can given the fact that we are so seldom home!  We have listened to Spanish in the car.  We have finished Absolutely Normal Chaos (in the car).  Grace is working on the month of March for her sports store and Lilah is finishing up February.  
We are reading chapter 4 of SOTW: Constantinople.  Of course we had to watch a very old MTV video of a live recording of They Might Be Giant’s Istanbul not Constantinople.  Then we got very into learning about the Hagia Sofia.  Several youtube videos were watched.  Many questions were raised.  Did you happen to catch the last few posts over at Frog Creek?  Yup.  Turkish Grandparents are visiting for a month!  They are lovely and I was blessed to spend the afternoon with them this week.  I dined on heavenly soup, a red lentil finger food that I could have eaten the entire plate of, and a sweet dessert dish that included nuts and Farina.  Kim took out her photo album and showed me photos from the inside of the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque.  I was most amazed by the hotel her family stayed at in 2008 in Cappadocia, Turkey.  Even though I am not a great traveler and I do not have the wanderlust gene, I would love to visit this country with my children.  Many of my friends travel the world with their children.  They are giving them the gift of a world view.  
What We Are Reading This Week: I am reading nothing.  I have been knitting.  Nothing special, just a scarf for the girls made from some remnant yarn left over from a project last year.  


Places We’re Going and People We’re Seeing: Our writing group met for the third time Monday.  This was planned as a 5 week class.  Because we all are enjoying it so much, we have decided to extend our group indefinitely.  Rather than meeting every week, we will meet every other week.  I would like to keep going with my girls every week as their sketchbooks are filling up with gorgeous entries.  I would like to take this one step further and have them pull pieces out of their sketchbooks and develop them into larger pieces of writing.    I am looking forward to the break that will come with our classes soon.  Coop will stop for six weeks beginning the week of Thanksgiving.  Although I love coop, having the day at home will be like getting a gift every week.  Meteorology will end that week also.  Unfortunately we will not be continuing on for the spring semester.  Although Grace has had a good experience, she has not learned one new weather related concept.  Horseback riding will end until spring.  We will be able to spend the winter in the cozy comfort of our home.
Thoughts I am Pondering: I have been thinking how much my blog has changed over the years.  I looked back over the posts from early 2010 and how my focus has shifted from how to homeschool, how we would homeschool, what I thought about homeschooling, to learning about new lifestyle choices that I came to understand through homeschooling, and to the place where I am now, which is simply enjoying our life, our friends, and our family.  I no longer check my stats. I have no idea how many views I have had in October.  I know who my regular followers are, even the ones that don’t comment but read every single post (thanks Aunt, Dad and Kris and Greg).  I am comfortable in the place I am.  I am blogging for me.  I blog for my children.  Recently I asked them if they wanted me to stop blogging, to stop sharing our family on the Internet, or if they would prefer to have a private blog that followers would need to be invited to view.  They asked me to keep blogging and said they are happy with what I am blogging about.  I still blog for my family.  Even though they don’t all agree with our choice to homeschool, I know that if I share what we are up to, they can see the learning that takes place and the amazing opportunities the girls have in their lives.  Hopefully one day they will come around.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spooky Ooky

I have the post over at Three Thinking Mothers today - we are talking about favorite fall activities.  Since we are not much of a crafting family and I have no fabulous tutorial to share, I thought I would share some of my favorite Halloween decorations.

Lilah made this one.  She found the stick outside and her creative brain saw it as the frame for a wire-spiderweb.  She made the spider out of masking tape and wire and used the glue gun to attach it to the web!

My father-in-law made these stunning ceramic pumpkins.  Lilah's lights up with a flashing light bulb and we put candles in Grace's.

Grace became slightly obsessed with owls ever since her friend clued her into how very cool they are.  They became our favorite birds to visit with during our trips to the Audubon Sanctuary where we would read the stories of how they were rescued.  Since then we have built up quite a collection!

These are our newest additions to the spooky decorations.  The girls' pooled their dog walking money from last week and begged asked me to take them to the grocery store where the Halloween decorations are on sale 50% off.  Now that they know, thanks to their business math program, that the tax is payed by the consumer, they promptly tried to pass the tax off on me.  Would I please pay the tax?  8% of $10 is not a hardship, so I agreed!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Artist/Writer's Workshop Session #3

I adore our artist/writer’s workshop.  Last week we did not meet due to some of the girls traveling and others battling illness.  Thankfully this week the six girls came together to write about how they feel on a rainy day.  

All that beautiful space under the umbrellas was just meant for words.  Lots of wonderfully descriptive sentences and phrases describing rainy day activities like jumping in puddles wearing rain boots or getting drenched while running around the block.  
Some girls saw this project in a different way.  To them, the words should be "raining" down on the umbrellas.

At one point during our 90 minute session there was complete silence.  The girls were so completely absorbed in what they were doing, all your could hear was the scratching of sharpie pens against paper and gentle breathing.  It was pure magic.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week of October 17

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In Our Home/School This Week: We convinced Greg to take two days off and spend some time at home.  It is so rare that he is able to tag along with us to the activities that take us from place to place throughout the week.  Having him join us on our Girl Scout hike to Kent Falls was like having a family day trip!  After the hike, we went to our friend’s house close by for some fire building and hot dog roasting. 

 Another perk of having Dad around, is that he can get involved in some of the lessons ‘round here.  These are never planned, they just occur.  Like when the girls asked about the protests in New York.  This led into a full discussion of the stock market.  We explained how the girls are actually shareholders of GE and receive quarterly dividends in their name, which we have always used towards their activities.  Grace was very intrigued by this.  Greg taught her how to track a stock online by its share name.  She looked at trends and learned that the key to making money is to buy low and sell high.  We explained how we Greg almost bought shares of a now-defunct bowling alley and if it were not for her mother’s infinite wisdom, that money would now be gone.  The role of a stock broker was explained and how very often people with this job get very wealthy if they are buying and selling large quantities of stocks.  I would love to have Greg, Grace and Lilah research dollar stocks and take a bit of their money and invest it.  It would turn into a phenomenal math lesson as we would cover money, graphing, percentages, and how market conditions affect business, which in turn affects stock prices.  So Greg, you up for it??
Then Friday, I asked Greg to hook up his iPad to the tv so we could watch an episode of an old 20/20, Appalachia: Children of the Mountain.  We are listening to Absolutely Normal Chaos on audiobook.  One of the characters, Carl Ray, comes to spend the summer from West Virginia.  When the main character, Mary Lou, spends a week there, she discovers what it is like to live with no running water, no electricity, and no plumbing.  I asked the girls if they realize that families in the United States are living in conditions like this and even though they said yes, I know they have no frame of reference for this kind of poverty.  The four of us watched this 20/20 episode together.  We had to stop and discuss what prescription medication addiction is and how people sell pills for money.  We had to discuss addiction, desertion and what it must be like not be able to count on your parents to care for you.  We got a glimpse inside a coal mine and discussed the dangers this job presents.  When the episode finished, we discussed why Carl Ray’s mother asked Mary Lou not to tell too much of her life in Ohio because she did not want the lure of money and a different kind of life to take her children away too quickly.  
I like having Greg around.  In addition to these two impromptu lessons, our other highlights of the week were:
  • field trip to Stew Leonard’s for math.  Grace is on March in math and Lilah began February.
  • We finished Beowulf!
  • Piano lessons - Grace began composing her own song.
  • Lilah had a fabulous drawing lesson at co-op.

Places We Are Going and People We Are Seeing:  Between Stew’s, Kent Falls, a trip to the orthodontist for a retainer tune up, co-op, dog walking, and piano lessons, we had our share of running around.  
What We Are Reading: I read a fantastic book this week that was a perfect ghostly read.  It is a YA book titled Chasing Brooklyn.  It is written in verse which is an unusual choice for me, but I found that it drew me in to the characters and their pain.  Lisa Schroeder (same author as last' week's read It's Raining Cupcakes) managed to make this book beautiful yet haunting.
Grace is trying to finish up The Seekers.
Lilah finished Now You See Me and has begun Fourth Grade Fairy and Miss Fortune.  Really.....I can’t keep up with her.  
Questions/Thoughts I am Pondering: Last week I stirred up a bit of discussion about the protests.  I even lost a reader over it.  Sigh.  I am not thinking about much this week honestly.  Well....if I am honest I am thinking of house projects Greg and I would like to tackle but we get caught up in other things that take us out of the house.  
We want to clean out the attic.  Hurricane Irene gave us the excuse, reason to empty the basement and we have kept it clean and organized.  Our attic needs the same TLC.
My porch is a disgrace.  When we remodeled the kitchen, we put everything in the porch.  It never recovered.  It was my gift for Mother’s Day a few years ago, my reading room, my oasis.  Now it is home to a college sized fridge, tons of books, a basket full of blankets and the like.  In order to clean out this room tough choices about keeping, storing and giving away need to be made.
The office.  This room is not so bad, it is just not used properly.  Years ago my sister in law gave us a desk her company was discarding.  It is a fabulous desk but too big for what we need.  We have taken away half of it and the half that remains still fills up the whole room.  I would love to downsize and streamline but again, tough choices.....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kent Falls

Getting out of the house was hard.  Daddy was home which threw off the morning routine.  Some days our house is all about routine. Little things that are suddenly different should not become big things, but sometimes they do.  All you can do is roll through the punches, take a deep breath and move on.  
Of course it helps if this is where you are taking that deep breath.
And you can hold your best friend’s hand.
Think deep thoughts.
Be still.
Feel like a small speck in the Universe.
Dream about where life will take you.

Reach great heights.
Wrapped in love’s embrace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stew Leonard's + Math = One Sweet Field Trip

For math today my girls had a field trip with their Aunt.  Because we got stuck in traffic, the trip was short (just an hour) but very sweet.  We have been talking about advertising.  What makes good advertising?  What is your brand?  How do you showcase your brand?  What can you do to attract customers?  What would be annoying to customers?  How do you honor your employees?  Basically, what makes you choose one store over another.  What gets you to Stew Leonard’s over Whole Foods?  
Stew Leonard’s is a Connecticut based food retailer.  They are known for exceptional customer service, fresh produce and dairy.  In fact, the New York Times coined them “the Disney land of dairy stores”.  Shopping here is not a quick get-in-and-get-out-shopping-trip.  It is an experience.  It is the perfect place for a lesson on marketing, branding, product placement, customer service, and advertising.
We had a grand time.  I was scolded for taking pictures but really dude?  It is a grocery store....
Your first impression of the store is important.

Free samples make customers happy!
So much to see and do!

Contests...with in-store prizes.
This always makes me smile!
Stew is a master of branding.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...