Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Busy doing nothin'

Man, this summer break thing sure is busy! Not that we were officially going to be "on" summer break until June 30th... but we don't seem to be doing much schoolwork, lol. Well, if DH asks, tell him we're on Summer Break. ;)

Anyway, we went on a minor camping trip on Sunday/Monday. The kids had fun. We had fun. Not really camping, but lots of fun. Greyson made a new baby friend. They sat in the grass together and chewed on plastic utensils. Cameron and Cassia played with a really sweet little girl with the coolest name. I have a thing about posting our friends' names (and especially their kids' names) without their permission, so I will just tell you that it was the feminine version of Amadeus.

Tuesday we started the day with a walk in a local park with a couple of the Mom's Night Out girls. One of the moms said that she wanted to make a point of inviting me because she felt bad that I had to miss their night out... which was apparently pretty wild! I guess I made a big enough deal about being excluded, lol. Anyway, that was great and then we went out to lunch and got lots of dirty looks from the "working women" there without kids, lol. You know, those single women on their lunch break who look at your wild passel of hoodlums like they belong in juvi rather than that particular sandwich shop. Yeah, well we appropriately ran them right out of Dodge. :P ~thbbt~

After that, they all went to a park but we had to come home and quick print up the mailing labels for our homeschool group's newsletter. And then I had to hand deliver them all the way to the other side of the county because I flaked and didn't get them done in time. Oh well. They can hire someone without kids if they care. ;) We got home from that with about 45 minutes to spare before we had to rush off to Cameron's t-ball game. That went pretty well - Cassia was good - but Cam kept getting in trouble for not listening and doing things like swinging the bat around the other kids and wrestling his teammates in the outfield. *sigh* Greyson just wanted to go rearrange all the batting helmets and drink everyone's water. We got home and had to rush to get dinner ready and then rush to get ready for bed and PHEW! Tired Mommy.

Wednesday was a little more relaxed. I had to catch up on all the laundry (which is still sitting on my bed unfolded) and clean the house a bit (ok, a lot). We did manage to get a page of math done - telling time to the half hour - read a book on the skin and its many functions, and Cameron (after much whining and "I can't do it"s) read a preK/K book about Clifford. Books with labels like that make me feel like he's really behind. It was actually labeled for 3 - 5 year olds. Why can't they just label it Level 1? I am ok with him being a Level 1 Reader. I get nervous when he is having trouble getting through a preK/K book when he should be pretty much done with K work by now. I know, it's just a label and doesn't matter but still...

Anyway, after that we went to Park Day. It was nice, as always, but something particularly interesting happened today. At one point, every child in the park homeschooled or "regular" was playing together. First it was on a spinny thing and I swear it sounded like a roller coaster, lol. Next they organized - and I'm talking about 15 or 20 kids - a game of duck-duck-goose and then they finished off with hide-and-seek. ALL of them! It was so cool. It was one of those beautiful "just let them be kids and they'll be fine" moments. And then the other parents started getting nervous (once the hiding part started) and it was back to just our group playing together again. But man, Eutopia it was. Yoda, I am. The force you will feel. At me, on the floor laughing, you will be. You will be.

We ended the day today with the dress rehearsal for the Annual Gymnastics Show. Cameron did so well. I know, I always say that, lol, but he did! He was so excited that he did his Big Finish moves (the traditional gymnast arms in the air thing) with all the enthusiasm of an Olympian who just gave a Perfect 10 Performance. No spaghetti arms there! The only down side was when he injured his future manliness on the parallel bars, but he continued on like a professional. At first, Cassia was sad that she couldn't be in the show too (next year she'll be old enough) but then she found a friend with a whole bunch of Little Mermaid toys. Then she was only sad when it was time to go, lol.

And there is our life this week. DH is taking the rest of the week off and then we are taking a trip early next week (to the Pixilated Palace!) so that one half-assed day of schoolwork is probably all that is going to happen. Summer Break, yeah, that's it. ;)

Friday, May 25, 2007

All you need is love, Love.

Love is all you need. That reminds me, I should import to my iMac. I am really digging iTunes. I was all about the Walkman and my myriad of cassettes (which I till have most of) in high school but for some reason, I never really got into playing cds that much. I don't know that I'd really get into an iPod either, but I love how easy it is to play music through my 'puter. Nothing fancy, just pop it in and go. OK, import in progress. ;)

Anyway that is nothing like what I intended to blog about, lol. I was coming to say that we did absolutely nothing that resembled schoolwork today, but we did have a lovely time. It was preschool park day and whoa baby did we have turnout! We got there almost an hour late and the only ones there were MomK and her DD L4. T6, the one who was trying to teach Cam to belch on command Wednesday, lol, was with them as well. That was fabulous as it was because there was someone for everyone to play with... not that they *have to* break down into boy/girl groups, they just always do.

...And here's a totally random thought: you remember when Maria said that music helps some kids to concentrate while they do schoolwork and hinders some others? Well, music also helps some people write fabulous blog entries and hideously stalls others. I was importing One and had to turn off the sound because I could not string two words together with the lyrics running through my head at the same time. DH always works with music on and he likes to listen to it to fall asleep too. I can't. It distracts me. Keeps me up. Classical is different though - it's the lyrics that mess me up. I just get so involved in what they are saying and what the lyricist might be trying to tell me that my mind goes a million miles away and nowhere near work or sleep...

Um, so where was I? Oh yes, at the park! Oh we had a fabulous time. Maybe half an hour after we got there (and L4, T6, and Cameron had finally resolved their who's making the rules "issues") MomP and her DD S2 show up. And then about forty-five minutes after that MomM, DadR, and their two boys B6 and J4 arrive. And then about half an hour later it was MomM, her son J13 and her DDs LG5 and T(almost)1. And then an hour or so after that MomS and her boys H13 and B9 show up. (She's also T6's mom.) Oh there was another lady who came too, but I wasn't officially introduced to her but I think she was MomC and her DD was 2. I can't remember her name though. Anyway, it doesn't matter at all except to say that there were a million friends there and we had the best time with them all.

Homeschoolers always hear all this BS about "socialization" and all that... bah humbug! I say. Of course, I'm sure that I'm preaching to the converted (except, of course for my soon-to-be cousin-in-law that really should consider homeschooling if they ever actually have kids, lol) but you've really gotta love the interactions between these kiddos. They went through every typical drama that I'm sure are the normal dramas for their age. It was great.

We moms sat around and planned beach trips and hiking trips and camping trips and such while the kids just played and played. DadR, our Hero of course, took the boys on a hiking adventure while the girls took turns riding in a stroller (I don't even know whose stroller it was now that I think about it!), and we moms just sat and gabbed. We talked about Moms Night Out. We talked about things to do this summer. We talked about what messes our houses are. We talked about pediphiles in the neighborhood *shudder*. We talked about internet safety. We talked. Real ADULT talk. Nice. :D

Apparently though, I wasn't the only one having a superiorly nice time with the girls. When I said it was time to go (after almost 4 hours and EVERYONE else was also leaving - we wanted to leave all at once so no one looked mean, lol), Cassia just burst into tears. "NOOOOOOO!!!!! I want to stay with my FRIENDS!!!!!!" She was So Sad. Real Tears and everything. I told her to say goodbye to everyone and she went up to all the boys first, sobbing, to give them a hug. Then she went to the girls and LG5 was already on her way to the car when Cassia got to her. She Freaked. "NO!!!! DON'T LEAVE YET!!!!!!!!" Bawling her little eyes out, she gave her friend a hug and told her that she really didn't want to be done playing.

Thankfully, LG5 lives right down the street from us so they invited us over for a movie tonight. I got Cassia and Greyson into their jammies (Cameron was "too big" for that even though he ended up sleeping in what he was wearing, lol) and we went over to watch Arthur and the Invisibles. Good movie. Good time. It was a nice distraction to our nights. And Greyson found a new girlfriend. OMG T1 is in LOVE with him in a BIG way. You think I'm exaggerating but I am not. She would crawl up to him (she's not walking yet), use his shoulders to pull herself up to standing, and then eat his face. Ear, nose, mouth, whatever was in reach. And he was totally OK with it as long as she wasn't gouging his eyes out - which did happen a few times. But it was so hilarious. She would follow him around and he would just be all nonchalante but then MomM took her older son to a sleep over at his friend's house... and took T1 with her... Greyson freaked. He followed them to the front door and was banging on the door and playing with the doorknob, lol. He wanted his girlfriend back!

Once she did come back, they were both very nice to each other and just played and played. LG5 and Cassia played a lot too. Cameron was glued to the movie. When the movie was over LG5 asked Cassia if she wanted to sleep over. Cassia REALLY wanted to but I decided that she was too young. I just know I would get a phone call at 3:00 am saying that she had a bad dream and had to come home. MomM had asked Cameron about a month or so ago if he wanted to sleep over (LG5's older brother has a lot of sleep overs so she is jealous - that's why there is so much pressure in that arena there) but he said he didn't want to do it unless we were all there, lol. Cassia had no such concerns. Funny how different they all are.

Anyway, we had a fabulous day. At one point, at the park, Cassia said, "Boy, you sure are talking to a lot of moms!" LOL, yeah. I guess we might need to get out more. I guess I might need to actuall pick up the phone instead of the keyboard one of these days when I'm feeling bored and lonely??? Ya think?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday & Thursday

Sorry for the lack of creative title. It's taking all my creative strength to just blog, lol. It's been HOT here - 90s yesterday - and we have no air conditioning. And let me tell you, spending three hours at the park right before a t-ball game isn't really the best way to manage your day. It sounds good at the time, but by the time the first inning is over, so are you. LOL. Cameron kept getting "talked to" by his coach for sitting in the outfield. And on the pitcher's mound. ROFL. Greyson just wanted to pull everything out of everyone else's bags and then cry whenever I'd try to redirect him. Cassia wanted to play TAG! I don't know where she had the energy for that. Phew! I'm worn out all over again just talking about it!

Earlier in the day we did a little school: just one phonics lesson and one math lesson. Phonics was a long /u/ review called "Cross the River." You laid out 27 cards in nine rows of three cards each. Each row had one word that had a long /u/ sound and the game was to walk the length of the river, only stepping on the long /u/ stones. I thought it was going to be fun but Cameron just wanted me to read all the words for him. I guess, in retrospect, it wouldn't have hurt anything if I had but it really annoyed me at the time. The math lesson was telling time on the hour. Cam did great on that. In fact, even Cassia was telling the time on them! I may kill two birds with one stone on this one.

After that we rushed off to the park to play and play and play. At one point, MomM took her two boys, B6 & J4, Cam & Cassie, and another boy, T6, to get frozen yogurt. She was going to take all five of them by herself but I decided to tag along and give her a hand. HA! OMG, I had zero control over those boys and she just put on her Mommy Voice and said, "We don't act like that in a public place" and that was that. I couldn't believe it. Of course, I didn't think to do anything but roll my eyes when T6 was trying to teach Cameron how to belch on command whereas she told them that was not appropriate behavior for a food establishment. No wonder they wouldn't listen to me when I *did* decide that they were going too far! She also didn't have any problem reprimanding children that weren't hers. T6 spends a lot of time with them so I think he is like one of hers, but I just keep thinking Well, maybe MomS lets him belch at the table. Who am I to say that he can't? LOL, yeah I know, grow a backbone, Jenny!

Today we didn't do much of anything except gymnastics. I can't wait until Cassia can move up to Cameron's class. I cannot take chasing Greyson around for an hour and a half for too much longer. Man, toddlers are a lot of work! Cameron was acting like a crazy monkey the whole time too - running and jumping and wrestling with some other boys when he knows that that is not allowed in the mezzanine. *Bleh*

I did do one productive thing. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Classical Archives. There was a lot of great music on those cds that I got at the library, but not many of the specific works that I was looking for. I was browsing in the iTunes store and they wanted a dollar a song and when most classical pieces are broken up into multiple movements... well, I would've paid more than $25 just trying to get all of the Baroque pieces I wanted and for that I can get 1000 downloads a year at Classical Archives. I may have to go beck to iTunes for Rondeau because I couldn't find a savable version of that on CA, just Quicktime midis, but one dollar won't break the bank this week. ;)

Thankfully, we are doing a little bit of camping this weekend. I'm a bit bummed at the timing because I was invited to a Homeschool Mom's Night Out on Sunday, but maybe I can go next time. Tomorrow will be spent trying to get things organized for the weekend with a small break for preschool park day. Who am I kidding? Preschool park day always ends up being an all day thing, lol. Oh well. We're actually not leaving until Sunday morning so there will be plenty of time for DH to do everything for me. ;) Hope this entry wasn't too whiny - it's been an exhausting couple of days.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I can't keep up with science boy!

We had no plans today, so I just let the day progress as it happened. The kids watched their library movies first. After we watched The Big Space Shuttle, Cameron informed me that we could get more information at, lol. He's such a sucker for advertisements! He was quite insistent. We did and actually found a really neat behind the scenes thing from the shuttle launch that they attended during the filming of the video.

At some point in the afternoon, Cameron asked me if we could do his schoolwork. I said sure and he went straight for the phonics book. Yay Cam! We did a lesson on "ew" as the long /u/ sound. There was an activity at the end of the lesson which was nothing more than having him spell out a list of long /u/ words with magnetic letter tiles. It was a simple thing but I could really see how the act of finding the letters, one by one, and putting them together helped him to read them. Physical acts for a physical child. I really need to remember that.

Next he wanted to do science, but I told him that we had to math today since we didn't do it yesterday. He did a simple page on geometric shapes and recognizing patterns. Then he asked to do science, lol. I was kind of trying to talk him out of it since I didn't have anything prepared for today. I suggesting a drawing lesson instead but he insisted on science. So it was back to my old stand-by workbook. We labeled the drawing of the eye in the activity book that we forgot to do yesterday. We did the first couple pages for the chapter in the Workbook which was pretty dull stuff: listing your favorite ways to use each sense, drawing the sense organs on a head, putting recognition & reaction sequence pictures in the correct order. Nothing too exciting at all and I definitely heard "can we be done now." Physical acts for a physical child. I really need to remember that.

Later, as he was finishing up his video game hour, I read a book "to Greyson." It was Hey Diddle, Diddle with an extra verse that I had never heard before. Cassia thought it was hilarious and I ended up reading it four times. (Greyson would purposefully look away every time I tried to show him a picture, lol... BOYS!) Next I grabbed an alphabet book, An Edward Lear Alphabet, and the verses for each letter we so catchy and fun to say that Cameron had to give it a try too. There were a good 10 pages where we were taking turns reading pages. I think it was really a big confidence booster that he could just be enjoying a book and then spontaneously jump in and read it too. Cassia said, "I guess we're doing schoolwork now!" and I had to say, "No, we're just reading." She didn't say "schoolwork" in a bad way, but I didn't like the way it had to be delineated like that. She's all about extremes now anyway. Everything is either "love" or "hate" or whispers or ear-piercing screams. If I have to make learning physical for Cameron, how am I going to make it emotional for Cassia? LOL, I shudder to think. Maybe I can just have them perform everything as a play and that will satisfy both of their impulses.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Blinded by Science

Well it has certainly been a productive couple of days here. (That means long post, lol.) Sunday we started off the day with Cassia begging to do school. When she gets on a roll with school, she is just all work, all the time. She did a couple pages of Earlybird Math and then some drawing on the slate board. And then Greyson kept trying to eat her chalk and that was the end of that. LOL. We promised her that we could do history instead.

We went to General Vallejo's Petaluma Adobe, which we had been to before but DH never had. That's always a fun place because the kids can just run free and explore without being worried too much about museum manners or any other such nonsense. Next we traveled on to see his Sonoma home, Lachryma Montis. The interesting thing about this house is that although it is made of adobe, the exterior is made to look Victorian. It was built right around the time when the US took possession of California and Vallejo had realized that an American lifestyle would be more advantageous to his political standing. The kids thought the most interesting things were the fountains. We were going to go see the Barracks and the Mission San Francisco Solano del Sonoma too but on the way back to the Barracks (it was a bit of a walk), Cameron slipped in a mud puddle and ended up covered. It was one of those classic "Watch out!" and "Huh??" the "Whoops!" moments. ;)

We came home to a fabulous dinner of grilled pork tenderloin stuffed with prosciutto and provolone; tomato, basil, and smoked mozzarella salad; prosciutto-provolone risotto; and steamed asparagus. Nothing particularly educational about that, (unless you happen to be studying Italy, which we're not) it was just a really good meal.

Monday we started out the day with a Community Service Project for 4-H. We baked doggie treats to donate to the humane society. It was a fun project, but a lot of work. I was definitely glad there were a couple extra parents and a bunch of kids to do all the hard work, lol. Greyson was kind enough to start crying every time I put him down, so I was pretty much free to just "supervise." ;)

After that, we came home and did Cameron's schoolwork. First we did phonics and did a really short lesson on "ue" as long /u/. He read extremely well, which I was especially glad of because DH was kind of listening in. He was really doing laundry (wahoo!) but I knew he was listening too. When we were done he mentioned what a good job Cameron seemed to be doing so that was a nice little pat on the back for me.

Next was science and at first Cameron said, "let's just do these [the workbooks] and that's all." That was a Just-Get-It-Over-With attitude if I've ever heard one! Luckily, I had my multiple-source game plan all ready to go. We started with reading the book My Five Senses. Cameron was not thrilled with the idea of reading books to "do science" but when he heard the book - and that it was a simple picture book, not a science text - he warmed right up to it. Next we did an activity in the Activity Book where you make observations on your eye in a mirror and then draw and label a diagram of it (I just realized that we forgot to label it!). We followed that up with a book called Look at Your Eyes - gee, you'd think I planned that or something. ;) Things started clicking. We did another activity in the Activity Book that was an Eye Spy type of activity where you found camouflaged animals in their habitats. There was no sign of the ever-so-typical "can we be done now?" so I grabbed another book, The Science Book of the Senses. I casually flipped through it and pointed out the page where they show you how to construct a working eyeball with a fishbowl, a flashlight, and a magnifying glass. "You don't want to try that, do you??" And he did! We didn't have a fishbowl so we had to make do with a coffeepot and the Backyard Safari Talking Bug I.D. magnifying glass actually diffused the light making the image harder to see than without it... but it was fun! And we learned! There was still no sign of the ever-present "can we be done now" and so I dragged out my friend, the Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia and looked up the eye. We read the entry and compared the parts to the parts of our fishbowl model and talked about the different pictures.

We ended up doing our own pupil experiments in the dining room, outside, and in a dark hallway. We blindfolded Cameron and sent him to find other rooms in the house. Once he found them, we discussed what other senses had to compensate for his lack of sight. He thought that was so fun that he wouldn't let me put the blindfold (washcloth + the belt from my bathrobe) away. He wanted Cassia to try it too (she was asleep at the time). We looked at the encyclopedia again to see which parts of the brain controlled which functions. We discussed the spinal cord. We discussed sensory integration disorder. We had a FABULOUS science day.

I'm sure all you seasoned homeschoolers have this kind of learning all the time, but this is the first time that we have hit that ideal so perfectly. Homeschool Heaven, I'm telling ya. I love this stuff. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Remember my dilemma the other day about where to get the full versions for our classical music studies? Well today I found the answer: library sale! Not only did I happen upon the library sale, I happened to stop in during the half price sale! The cds were regularly $3 each but for the sale they were 3 for $1! (Yes, I know that's significantly less than half price, but blame their signage not me.) The books were regularly $1/inch but they were half price and I ended up getting an entire grocery bag of books and cds for only $5. Unfortunately, I just realized that I got a duplicate of one of the cds but I did get 5 unique collections of classical music. (Hey G, would you like my duplicate cd? 200 Greatest Classics Vol. XVI) Now I just need to hunt down every library sale in the state to find the other 12 volumes of this series. ;) OK, maybe not. I do need to finish importing them into iTunes and then see how many songs I can match up to the Beethoven's Wig and Themes to Remember titles.

I also walked away from the library sale with a couple animal encyclopedias, a few books on dinosaurs, several field guides to local trees and flowers, a couple board books, a young reader version of Robin Hood, and a children's dictionary. Hard to believe that I didn't already have a children's dictionary. I wanted a couple cookbooks but Cassia said that I already had too many books and wouldn't let me look at them for more than a second. She made me leave just before I got to look at that Fondue cookbook... probably for the best.

And my blog entry would not be complete if I did not mention that Cameron did 2 workbook exercises in math on halves and quarters and a long /o/ review in phonics. This was a make-up school day since we didn't do anything on Monday and he has to do schoolwork five days in a row to get free video game play on the weekend. The phonics was really fun. We had 15 cards with various long /o/ words and phrases on them and I would lay them out, five at a time, and then draw one of the things. He would have to guess what it was and then find the right card. It was really a fun way to get him to read. We may have to play that again sometime.

Friday, May 18, 2007


OK, here's my philosophical moment of the month... ever notice how children's games always have a "safe" place? I never taught them that and yet somehow, every game has somewhere that is safe. It's usually me or the sofa but whatever they're playing, whether it's tag or Star Wars, someone always frantically runs to said spot and yells, "SAFE!" I like that I am frequently "safe." I hope that I am always someone to look to for safety. I hope our home and our homeschool is too. A port in the storm. A lamp in the darkness. A light in the shadows. Safe. Home. Always.

And now back to the mundane. Today, while Cameron and I did a lesson on single "o" as long /o/ (as in cold), Cassia practiced her letters with a Handwriting Without Tears book and slate board. I cannot recommend that slate board enough! There is nothing better to teach the correct formation of capital letters than that slate board. It's how Cameron learned, and loved it, and I could not believe the quality of the letters that Cassia was writing today all on her own.

Next we did science and finally got to move on to the human body. We began with an introduction to the five senses. There are so many rabbit holes in this subject that I could easily see our study of it lasting a long time. That's good because I'm going to need some practice in using multiple resources for our work. I've become lazy and dependent on workbooks and that is just not going to cut it once we start history. I mean, it's fine now because so much of our learning just comes through life - but with my knowledge of history, the learning is going to have to come from somewhere else. And again, with my knowledge of history I can't afford to trust just one source. We need to spread our net wide and catch all the information we can.

And on that note, I need to grab a couple resources and look up what exactly we have available around here on the senses and what happens when you lose them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Well, it looks like all I needed was a little determination for productivity and it just happens - even when I can't stick to the schedule. I mean, I set out for a week of strict, scheduled routineness and end up with fevers and coughing and more fevers and fevers that won't go away. (Yes, Grey got a good one last night and it's been murder trying to keep it below 101. Grrrr.) But I've gotten laundry done and bread baked and healthy dinners made and schoolwork done and well, I can see the living room floor and the kitchen counters though I wouldn't exactly call them clean... but they will be soon! I guess my point is that it isn't really the schedules or routines or what-have-you that keep your life in order - it's the desire to keep your life in order.

I've never been one to stick to a routine. I am too much of a "joy of the moment" girl for that. But every now and then I crave one and try to concoct one and never ever stick to it, but do come away with some small measure of order. (And this is all frightfully ironic considering that anyone will tell you that I have the most organized cupboards in the entire world. My MIL thinks I'm an organizational goddess, lol. Little does she know...)

Anyway, in between crying babies and doses of Tylenol, Cameron did science and phonics today: his choice of subjects. We've been automatically doing math and phonics each morning this week so I guess he's realized that that is our "core." Today though, he said he wanted to do reading and science instead of math. We started a unit on Systems for science. He really, really, really wanted to skip ahead to the part where we learn about the human body but I just couldn't. This chapter sets the stage for the whole rest of the book - most of which is the human body. I felt bad that I couldn't let myself say, "ok, let's study what you're interested in" but I made up for it with a maze where you match the parts of a system (bicycle, elephant, jacket, tree) to the whole. He loved that. Anyway we ended up doing one thing in the activity book and one exercise in the workbook for a total of 4 pages. And that was the whole chapter and I think we get to move on to the systems inside the human body next. Phonics was "oe" as the long /o/ sound. He did great. He even remembered how to read the words "moan" and "groan" when he was reading the story, which impressed me.

The only other news today is that Maria's age post got me thinking about how old I feel. Well, we all know where that leads... haircut! I've probably just been watching too many Audrey Hepburn movies lately but I suddenly decided that I needed too short bangs and a sexy little bob. LOL. Yeah, Audrey Hepburn definitely wasn't 30 something when she was pulling off that look but, hey, why not. I look a bit more like an aging goth nerd chick than My Fair Lady, but my DH actually noticed that I cut my hair, so that's something. ;) When I first came out Cameron asked me if I had taken a "hairy shower." He said that meant when you take a shower and you come out with your hair all messed up. Humph. I said no, I had just cut my hair (yes, I do it myself). He said that I needed to go fix it. Again, humph. After an hour or so he finally said that he was beginning to like it. Cassia, sweet girl, told me that she loved it instantly. Anything having to do with how you look is A-OK in her book. I cannot seem to get a good picture of myself though so you can't see it today. :P

And that is the news. Good night and Happy Birthday Maria! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

it's baaaaaccccckkkkkk

Poor Cameron had a relapse last night just before dinner. He went from fine to 102.7 degree fever in just a couple of hours. And then he was fine again this morning! What a weird illness this has been.

So due to grumpiness and snotty noses, my schedule got thrown a bit astray. I'm such a fan of recuperating in front of the tv all day that I'm sure I let them watch too much when they are even a little sickly. They're watching reasonably educational shows though, so it's not that bad.

But regardless, we got school done by noon. We started at 11:30 and finished at 12:01, lol. Cam did two more division exercises in math and then a phonics lesson on "ow" as the long /o/ sound. I wanted to do a drawing lesson later in the afternoon but going to the grocery store pretty much sapped us all of our energy. Greyson and I fell asleep on the couch while Cassie watched My Fiends Tigger and Pooh. I have a good excuse though... I got up at 6 this morning! I did a yoga workout and cleaned the kitchen and got a loaf of bread started all before 8:00am! And then my day went downhill from there, lol. I have been getting a lot of work done on our plans for next year though so I do feel productive. In fact, I'm about to go grab myself a cuppa something and get back to it now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So far, so good!

10:45 am
Determined to get more accomplished and get us into a schedule of sorts, I tried to get the day started quickly today. I got up around 7:30 with C&C (Greyson slept until 9:00!), made coffee, and read my email and message boards. That is usually my biggest time sucker in the mornings and I wanted to give it up but I just can't. I did manage to put off my blog reading though. Maybe that will be my afternoon reward for a hard day's work.

I made breakfast for everyone at the same time, for once, and they ate and watched Little Einsteins while I emptied the dishwasher and straightened up the kitchen a bit. Next I got dressed and made my bed and then I announced that it was time for schoolwork.

Cameron and I started a new math chapter on division and he did two workbook exercises. It was his idea to do two but I was thrilled. We're going to have to do two a day if we want to finish this book up by our end of year, June 30th. Not that it matters, but it's fun to start a new year with a new math book.

Next we did phonics. In order to make some progress there, I decided that he would only have to read the word lists and not the stories in each lesson. Just the gesture of me offering to read the stories for him - as long as he followed along and read the words in his head while I read them aloud - was enough to relax him enough to want to take turns reading the sentences. WooHoo! I don't know why I never really though of that before. I read a post recently about how some kids got into word lists but got overwhelmed by books and some kids were the opposite, but there's no need to do both if it isn't working. Duh. Should've figured that one out! Anyway, it worked and I'm glad.

Now we are taking a break and I am going to do a little more cleaning and a little more planning for next year while the kids do a lot of playing. Cameron earned one of his new Star Wars LEGO sets yesterday from his chore chart and he's having a blast with it. He promised we could do science later this afternoon and we might also do art and/or go to the library. I'll update this post later this evening with the rest of our day. :)

3:00 pm
Well, we spent the afternoon putzing around. I didn't exactly get a lot of housework done, like I had hoped, but I did put some laundry away and then picked a whole sink full of fava beans from our garden. We had lunch, mostly together, and watched the new Disney show, My Friends Tigger and Pooh. It's pretty cute.

Next I reminded Cameron that he had promised to do science later and he went right over and grabbed his science books. It is so nice to have a cooperative student! We read a chapter on how the characteristics of a living thing, plant or animal, are passed down through generations. He didn't *quite* get it entirely, but I have the feeling that this is going to be one of those things that keeps randomly coming up in conversation over the next few weeks. We did an accompanying workbook page and then he was off to play video games (for the first time in ages).

Cassia loves to listen in during science and was very upset to see that we had skipped over a flip book on the life cycle of a plant. Cameron didn't want to have anything to do with it but she begged me to let her do it. We had a great time coloring it in and cutting it out and arranging the pages in just the right order. The "flip" part of the flip book didn't work very well - my bad cutting to blame, I'm sure - so she just sat down and looked at the pages like a real book. After a few minutes she runs over to me and asks me to write words in it so that she could read the book. She told me that they had to be easy words though because she was just a little girl. :) So I filled it with words like "seed," "shoot," "root," and "plant" and she sat down and read it over and over. That solidifies my decision that she is going to start Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading next school year (a.k.a. July). She is definitely ready to learn to read.

So it appears that my more ordered day went well. Now I think I should spend this week noticing at what times we normally do different things so that I can write up an official schedule - just to keep me honest.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

It's been a busy weekend, as usual. Saturday we started the day off with a t-ball game. I love Cameron's coach. The first thing he said when Cam ran up to him was, "Hey, how are you feeling? We missed you last game!" It's always nice to be missed.

From there we rushed off to a creamery tour at the Redwood Hill Farm. We got to sample goat's milk yogurt and cheeses and then see how they were made. They even let us pack and salt cheese curd into molds. It was fun. Next we headed off from the creamery to the goat farm where we got to see the dairy's kids (the goat type, not the human type, lol), some of which were only a few days old! Cameron and Cassia also got to milk a goat! They both mastered the technique the first try. A thirty-something man took his turn and when he was done Cameron called out nice and loud, "Wow, that guy too forEVER to do it!" The guy's girlfriend was ROFL. She kept saying, "Ha ha! That little kid showed you up!" Greyson wanted to give it a try too but we were sure he would use a different technique - latching on. ;) (How's that for a bizarre visual that you really didn't need in your head?)

Sunday I was told to go shopping. On Mother's Day, I don't argue with that one. ;) I went to Target and spent a ton of money. I don't get to do that nearly enough so it was a nice treat. On the flip side, it's also a really good thing that I don't get to do that often! I came home to this...

They've made me a Mother's Day painting every year since I've been a mother - except last year. And boy, they didn't hear the end of it all year. Luckily, I think they really outdid themselves this time.

My mom came over for dinner later in the evening. They each made her a small painting too. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of those, but Cassia's was a gold background with a red patch, a purple patch, and a little bit of green dotted here and there. Cameron's looked like a red sky behind a yellow hill outlined in green. They were both really lovely. Then DH went to bed early, lol, and I stayed up watching Funny Face. Great musical. I can't wait to watch it with Cassia. I think she'll really love it. I have wonderful memories of watching Gigi with my step-mother when I was a kid. I think Funny Face could be that movie for Cassia and me.

Monday DH works from home so it still feels like the weekend to me. I did laundry and unburied that place on my kitchen counter that refuses to stay clean. The kids played LEGOs and did dot-to-dots. DH was kind of giving me "the look" because it's been a while since we've done any actual bookwork, but you know, they didn't even *ask* to watch tv today. They're engaged in creative things not just sitting and growing stagnant (unless they're sick and overdosing on Star Wars movies, lol) so I don't care.

I did finally decide that our new school year will start, officially, July 1st. That is the beginning of the new 4-H year so it seems like an appropriate place to start and stop. So that is 6 weeks from now and I would like to get some things wrapped up before then. Like math. Like the next 4 or 5 sections (50ish lessons) of phonics, even though I wouldn't be devastated if that didn't happen until September. I'm also not opposed to skipping some lessons and combining others. I'll probably have to do that AND set a September deadline. I really need to sit down and take a long look at that book. I'd like to get through Drawing with Children before our new year too, but everything else will just continue from where we are. Anyway, all that means that I'm going to need to get this school machine moving again. We're in desperate need of a new routine anyway so it will be a good time to just add seatwork in as a part of the day. Get up. Eat breakfast. Do math. Get dressed & make bed. Do language arts. Straighten up the house. We'll see if Maria's good example will rub off on me.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Quietish day

Well, I am happy to report that both of the boys seem to be doing much better today. Greyson had one little outbreak of spots this morning but it went away with some Benadryl and never came back. Woo Hoo! Cameron is much better too. No fever and just some congestion and LOTS of energy. Cassia seems to be on the verge of coming down with it though. She sounded a little stuffy and was going back and forth between cranky and crazy all day. She totally threw a temper tantrum by the drawing wall in Trader Joe's and started screaming and throwing crayons at Cameron. :O Yeah, that was fun. I was tempted to pretend they were someone else's kids (lol, just kidding) but I just went and scooped her up and she calmed down pretty quickly. It was like that all day. I finally put her to bed at 7:30 and she went right to sleep.

So the kids just spent the day playing LEGOs and drawing and doing dot-to-dots. I spent the day importing Beethoven's Wig and Themes to Remember into iTunes and making genre-specific playlists. Now I just need to figure out where I want to get the full music pieces from. Pay $25/year for Classical Archives? Go through the hassle of tracking down pieces through Classic Cat only to find that you can't actually save the mp3s? Try to hunt them down at the library? Give up completely and just buy them on cd? I think I will end up buying The Messiah eventually anyway. My mom and my sister sang in it each Christmas for years... such great memories. I used to go to all the rehearsals and just dream of the day when I would be old enough to sing in it too. Everytime I hear the Hallelujah Chorus I will end up singing snipets of all the songs for weeks, lol.

Oh, so where was I? Oh yeah, what to do about the full pieces of music? Any tips would be welcome. Next week I really need to crack down on my history planning. But right now I'm off to watch an old Audrey Hepburn movie. I love her. I think she is just about the cutest thing ever.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Voice of the Undiagnosed Hive

Anyone else remember Voice of the Beehive, or am I the only one? LOL

Anyway, poor little Greyson woke up Wednesday morning with a nasty case of hives. One eye was kind of swollen. His hands and feet were red and puffy. Hives all over - well, all over except for his trunk which is usually where they start, right? Just plain weird. And, of course, we are between insurances right now. Could not have been worse timing. So I did what any other Mom of the Future does and went to WebMD. It confirmed what my almost six years of mothering (which included several "hive" appointments at the ped) was telling me. Unless there is an indication of anaphylactic shock, there's really nothing you can do but give Benadryl and wait it out. Of course, I had already done that.

The big kids were dying to get out and run around and we had planned to take cupcakes to the park, so we decided to go ahead and go. Probably not the best decision, in retrospect, but it was just a weird rash and he seemed to feel just fine. Oh the looks we got! And then the other moms in our group start in about how it looks like chicken pox. Or poison oak. Or scabies. Suddenly, we had the plague. *sigh* After about an hour and a half, the sun started irritating the rash and it flared up a bit. They practically had me convinced that he needed to be taken to the ER at that point. So I rounded everyone up and piled them in the car and prepped them for a long wait at the local clinic for the uninsured.

Luckily I had the sense to call DH and he talked me out of my mommy-panic. After about 5 minutes of being in the house, Greyson's hives subsided again. I then indulged in a couple conversations with some friends who had been through this recently with infants and found out that I hadn't actually been giving Greyson enough Benadryl. Phew! So a full dose and an oatmeal bath made him once again look like a feisty toddler instead of a pathetically sunburned albino leopard.

Thursday morning he was spotty again, but the Benadryl took it away almost instantly. He's been acting just fine too aside from a bit of a runny nose. I'm chalking it up to a weird virus. But guess how I woke up Thursday morning? I awoke to Cameron crawling into my bed, coughing, and saying, "Mommy, I'm too sick to go to gymnastics and t-ball today." That's a sick boy who cancels a 6pm t-ball game at 7am! He's usually the one who is always saying Let's wait and see how I feel. We have another game on Saturday. There are only 10 games in the season and, of course, this is the only week that we have three games in one week. I hope we don't have to miss too many of them.

Anyway, we spent the day laying around and watching Star Wars. All of them. Well, we did skip Episodes I and II, but he watched III, IV, V, and most of VI (he fell asleep near the end). He also did some big, complicated dot-to-dots this morning and said we should call them school today. LOL. He's actually been asking to do school the past couple days but he always seems to ask when it's a really bad time to break out the books. Like when we're leaving in five minutes. Or when I start to make dinner. But we've been watching some specials that I TiVo'ed from the Science Channel on space. That counts. Cassia has been doing a wipe-off math book. They played some computer games yesterday too that were reasonably educational.

I think I have decided though that I'm going to officially call it a "new year" on June 1st and crack down a bit. Maybe we can try some books on tape again and listen on the way to the beach. I know someone with a copy of Story of the World on cd, maybe I can borrow that. I've been meaning to burn some classical cds too with a mix of the real versions and all of our fun lyric versions. I don't want to get into anything too stressful, but getting back to a routine would be nice. I'm really missing my routine lately.

So that's the news from the sick house. Aw, poor guy. Cam had asked me a few minutes ago if he could play video games even though he hadn't done any schoolwork and I said yes. He just decided to go lay down instead. I hate when the kids are sick. :(

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Real Moms Have Bad Kids

It's true. Real Moms have bad kids. Not all the time, mind you, but much more frequently than they want you to suspect. Perfect Little Johnny over there - you know, son of Perfect Mom Jane - he's not so perfect. He seems perfect at the library because he's just had a nap and a snack. When he's not perfect, they just skip the library. You should see Little Johnny at tee-ball. There he's hungry and grumpy and likes to throw sand at the other kids. Mom Jane doesn't feel very perfect then. In fact, she feels like a pretty lousy mom. The truth is that Mom Jane isn't perfect. She's just a Real Mom who's afraid people might find out that she has a kid who is sometimes bad. Guess what, Mom Jane... Real Moms have bad kids.

But the best part is that Real Moms don't care. They discipline and redirect as needed and then they move on. Kids have bad days. Moms have bad days. Fortunately, we love each other, regardless. For this Real Mom, the bad days make me appreciate the good even more. When my hyper-crazy boy finally figures out how to focus (because he's actually playing first base and really, really wants to make the play), I think back to when he's tackling all his friends on the playground and wrestling them to the ground despite their protests. Same energy, different channel. When my almost four year old daughter floats and flutters through a room singing a lovely song about how much she loves her Mommy, I think back to this...
I tell myself that I'm going to look back on this picture in twenty years and say, I always knew she was going to be an artist.

Sure, Real Moms have Bad Kids but that's just what you have to do to be a kid sometimes. This Real Mom loves Bad Kids. I wouldn't trade them for the world... and I certainly wouldn't trade them for Perfect Kids! Blech! Who can live up to that standard?? Not me!

Real Moms: Making Kids Get in Trouble, Again and Again and Again

P.S. Enter the Real Mom Truths contest! The winner will receive this amazing 4G iPod Nano and Chocolate gift set, plus a link to their post on True Mom Confessions on Mother's Day

Birthday Weekend

Happy 1st Birthday, Greyson!!

We had a great weekend celebrating the birth one short/long year ago of our littlest homeschooler. We started the weekend off with a trip to the zoo. Greyson seems to have a fondness for large, slow moving, bald, grey creatures. Narcissist tendencies, perhaps? He loved the elephants and the giant desert tortoises the most. Cassia liked the giraffes. Cameron liked "everything." At the gift shop, we picked up a couple decks of Top Trumps cards, Predators and The World. DH picked them out and I thought they would be yet another educational item to sit upon the shelf collecting dust, but Cameron loves them! He plays with the Predator pack all the time and he's really learning about the animals too. The World deck is not as big of a hit because I don't think he can really comprehend the categories: hostility, accessibility, km from London, etc. Even though I can explain the words, the concepts are a little abstract, I think. But I'm learning tons from them! :)

Sunday we started out the day at soccer sign-ups. (Yes, Mary, you talked me into it!) I can't believe my first baby is big enough to be on a real soccer team with a real uniform and everything. They even wanted to see his birth certificate! Yes, my friends, I am now officially a Soccer Mom. While we were in line, we saw several of our homeschool friends from 4-H! They were older boys, not anyone that Cameron plays with, but it felt good to see some of "our people" there. One of my trepidations about the whole thing is that I'm afraid that the kids will group up together in little cliques based on their schools. Not that that's an issue at t-ball, but I've got to be paranoid about something, right? ;)

Anyway, from there we took a short road trip to Calistoga to see the Old Faithful Geyser of California. What a lovely place to spend an afternoon! The kids had a great time running in the spray of the geyser everytime it went off. Greyson just had a great time running around.

Next on our itinerary was a short 5 mile drive down the road to The Petrified Forest. I'd never seen a petrified tree before and I must say that they are fascinating! The gift shop was great too. There were fossils everywhere! They had big tabletops made of polished stone that was just filled with all sorts of marine fossils that I really wanted, lol. Maybe if I'm a good girl this year Santa will get me one? LOL.

Monday I spent the day cooking and cleaning. Exciting, I know. My mom came over for dinner and we had chicken pot pie followed by a very yummy carrot cake to celebrate the Big Guy's Big Day. He got some clothes and some toys and was very happy with the whole affair. He was up until 11:00 with that cream cheese frosting induced sugar high, but he had a great time. DH spent Monday and Tuesday working from home and all in all, it was a nice long weekend doing stuff that we had just never gotten around to doing before. DH said that since he is going to be gone so much now that we will make an extra effort to do fun family stuff when we are together. Yay for family fun!

Today (Tuesday) we have 4-H in the afternoon and then Cameron's first t-ball game in the evening. I'm sensing that no school work will get done again, lol. Maybe we're on summer break already? Funny, we only seemed to get one week of school in after spring break and we're already having summer break, lol. It sure felt like summer yesterday - it was 98 degrees in the shade!

Friday, May 04, 2007


Hi there, friends. Sorry to abandon you, but I've just really lost momentum this week. No bookwork done at all, but here is what we've been up to.

Wednesday we went to Muir Woods. Gorgeous! It was our first time there. There is a similar redwood grove a little closer to us, but this one is just stunning. Since it is so close to the constant fog of San Francisco, it's almost tropical in nature. The ferns, the underbrush, the sorrell... it's just gorgeous.

We went with "the field trip group" but no one else actually showed up except for the organizers. No one in our county ever wants to drive! It's very frustrating at times. It didn't matter though because it meant that we got to spend a nice day with our old friends MomJ, S5, and M2. It's been a long time since we've gotten together with them because as the boys get older, we are all getting busier and busier and our family plans don't overlap much. We are on different educational paths too and, surprisingly, they don't mesh well. It sounds weird, I know, but it's really hard to explain. Anyway, we found that a weekly playdate was just causing us stress so we decided to drop it for a while. So the boys had lots of pent up rough-housing to rid themselves of. They just go insane when they are together! They both got in trouble more than a few times, lol, but all in all it was a great day. It was nice to get out and breathe real forest air for a change.

The forest had such a nice effect on me that I did something that I rarely do. I bought them souvenirs at the gift shop. Cameron got a combo compass & magnifying glass. He's got a huge compass collection. Cassia got a kaleidoscope filled with flowers and insects (plastic, of course). I got a book called Ecoart. It looks like it has some great stuff in it. It's heavy on making your own art supplies - clay from the earth and natural chalks - and using recycled household items for projects - like milk jug doll houses and egg carton birds with paper bag feathers. It also has your traditional nature crafts like hand woven baskets and pine cone animals. It looks like a lot of fun. Will I use it? Hopefully! LOL.

I also got a book called, One Grain of Sand, that tells the "life story" of a grain of sand as it eroded from the Sierra Nevadas. It was a $2 impulse buy, but it's a cute story. There was a great looking children's biography on John Muir, but I refused to pay $18 for a 20 page book. Yeah, I'm cheap. I'm sure the library has it though. Not that I can check anything out until I pay my fines, lol.

Thursday was gymnastics. I have a major Cassia brag... she did so good! They had them climbing a big rope with knots every foot or so. About half the kids in her group only made it onto the first knot and no farther. The rest of the kids managed to pull themselves up on the second knot. She, and she alone, went up on the third knot. I was so impressed. Cameron was too. He said, "I can't even go that high!" And he can't. She's a monkey, that's for sure! She also did divinely with her "handstands" (walking your feet up the wall), her body was a board. All the other kids were all bendy and falling over. Her coach told me last week that as soon as she turns 4 she'll be ready to move up... into Cameron's class! I even suspect that someday she may be invited into the "hot shot" class. Have I bragged enough yet?? Cameron's class started their practices for the annual gym show. Those are always so cute. :)

That was about the only thing even close to academic that we did. Other than that we cleaned and went to the grocery store and watched movies. Like I said, no motivation this week. I was postponing my blog entry today in hopes that we would at least do some science or drawing today, but I just don't see it happening. I think we are all still adjusting to DH's new work schedule. It's not been as hard as I feared, but I think it is affecting me emotionally a little more than I would like to admit.

Anyway, tomorrow we plan on going to the zoo to start the big birthday celebration! DH is going to work from home on Monday and Tuesday so that he can be here for Grey's big day, Monday, and for Cameron's first t-ball game on Tuesday. :)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

4 Comments, 4 Opinions

LOL, I love that. Thank you all for telling me

  1. You feel the same way.
  2. You feel exactly the opposite.
  3. You feel that I'm wrong and I need to crack down.
  4. You feel that I'm wrong and need to lighten up.

ROFL! You guys are the best and you are all right. Homeschooling is truly what I make of it. Bad days don't need to be an ordeal. Thankfully I did realize that and let it go after the first torturous hour yesterday. Today, I just let it go right away. ;) It was laundry day and I just plain didn't feel like doing school too. If Cameron would have brought it up, I would've been all over it, but he didn't. He was content to play LEGOs, add some more to the space oddity out back, and play backgammon all day. So that would be math, art, science, and logic. Works for me.

I also remembered that even if I followed the Well-Trained Mind to the letter, we are way ahead. You're not really supposed to be doing any seatwork at all in Kindergarten. Duh. Why do I keep forgetting that? School on our terms. Live. Love. Learn. No need to keep up with the Jones. No need to keep up with the Wise-Bauer's either. ;)

Tomorrow is field trip day so we'll be gone pretty much all day. Maybe we'll do some research before we leave, so it feels more "schooly" to me. We will definitely listen to classical music on the way there. (BTW, those Themes to Remember cds are not as bad as I first thought. They've kind of grown on us.) It's a hiking trip at a national park so that will be science and physical education and history. I think we're covered for tomorrow.

Cheers. :)