Thursday, June 30, 2011

On the last day of June

I can't believe that June is almost over. Time flies so quickly!

At our house, we are moving bedrooms, so chaos is reigning. Wish me luck on putting it all back together again....

(As a reminder, Rhubarbsky is having color week with
monday: yellow
tuesday: pink
wednesday: blue
thursday: rainbow
friday: red)

So, for Thursday's rainbow color, here is a pic I took at the entry to Shriner's hospital on Tuesday:
(click pic to enlarge it in a new window)

Red, yellow, pink, & orange roses; green leaves; and in the background there are even more flowers, this time purple. If I would have gotten the blue sky in the pic I would have all of the colors to the rainbow!

Have a great day today. I'm going back to sorting and rearranging.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Survive Homeschooling/Parenting

Today I am taking time out from the normal routine because of a spasm in my back. It isn't fun at all, but it gives me time to write this down, which I've wanted to do for days.

As you all probably know from my "about me" section of my blog, I have homeschooled for over a decade. We started in 1998, when Josh was going into the second grade and Amber was in kindergarten. Back in those days, I felt very much like we were playing school.

By the time I got around to homeschooling, Josh had already been to two years of preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade, all in a public setting. The first day of homeschool I felt such a let down when he told me that homeschool was "boring".

I had written out lesson plans and had great ideas of what to teach them. At the time of being told I was boring, I was lecturing, using a globe I remember. I felt like I wanted to cry and spank him all at the same time.

Instead, I gathered my wits about me and did what I'd felt inspired to do before but hadn't put it into practice: use unit studies.

So, the children and I agreed on a topic of study: animals, and we left to the library to get books on the subject. The kids had a great time, and Josh even commented once that "I bet we are the only school learning all about animals."

During these unit studies, my children learned about the geography: climate, what plants grow in that area that the animal eats, (specifically that tigers come from Asia and lions from Africa among many other things) science: what makes an animal a mammal? a bird? an amphibian? a reptile? a fish? As we found skeletons of animals (we lived on a farm in the country & found all kinds of things) we would look carefully and try to figure out what animal it once was; if we found the skull, we would pay careful attention to the teeth to figure out if it was a carnivore or herbivore. We learned a lot and the kids LOVED it.

We also studied flowers, birds, trees and just about anything else that we could, out of our Audubon Field Guides.

In fact, I remember one day after getting our field guide on wildflowers, we took a walk to our mailbox (about 1/4 mile down our dirt road) to get the mail. On the way we picked all of the different kind of wildflowers that we could. Now this was in rural Kentucky where wildflowers abound, so we found myriads of different species of flowers; the kids loved it! When we got back, I announced that we were going to identify our wildflowers; the kids weren't quite so excited to do this, but were curious to know what flowers they had accumulated. Then, in their science notebook, I had the kids draw a picture with colored pencils of each flower we found and label it with its name. After finding some Sweet William flowers, I told the kids that we were going to send a Sweet William flower along with a letter that they would write to three Williams that we knew: Grandpa, Uncle, and a Williams family that we were friends with. That is when the kids were just about sick of those darn flowers, but they persevered. I think that Grandpa and Uncle both saved their letters from that project.

Look at how many things were taught by that day in school: p.e., writing, research, science, & art are the subjects that leap out at me, and probably more if I stopped to think about it for more than 30 seconds.

Now, I'm sure that a licensed teacher could teach me a thing or two that I don't know, but I am sure that I could teach them things they were never prepared for in college. For instance: How do you keep the school clean while having myriads of children that never. ever. leave. AND when there is no janitor? How do you cook lunch while teaching math? What do you do when the two year old dances on the same table that your students are studying at? and many, many more areas of expertise that seem to need a more profound word than simply "multitasking".

A homeschooling mother juggles more hats than anyone else on the planet. Guaranteed! She has less time for herself than just about anyone else I've ever met, yet she must be ready for anything that comes her way. It is no wonder than these women burn out so early in the game if they don't learn one simple trick: delegation.

At our home, chore charts were revered just about as much as the scriptures. It was the only way to make order out of the chaos. Now please, before we go any further, please be aware that I have lots of chaos and lots of disorder (or disorders, but that is a subject for another day.) I am not perfect, nor do I know any perfect people. I have some friends who are perfect with children, but their house cleaning skills aren't quite perfect, and I know some friends whose houses are perfect and their children drive them crazy. It is a balancing act. No one is perfect at all things. AND, please be aware that you do *NOT* have to be perfect. You have to be YOU. The best you you can be, but you nonetheless.

In my home, when order rather than chaos reigned (and we've had it both ways, to varying degrees), it was only because the children helped. My children were expected to help with housework and babysitting just as much as they were expected to get their school work done.

I organized the house into sections that the children could clean; usually it was by room according to the child's abilities. They were expected to clean that room every day. They were expected to clean up other people's messes and take their toys/clothes to that person's room. That was the biggest complaint I ever heard: "So and so left their doll/truck in the living room (kitchen, hallway, etc). I think that they should learn to clean up after themselves." And the child had a point.. but we still made them clean up what was in the room anyway. Another variation would have been to have everyone go through the "public rooms" (as compared to bedrooms) and pick up & put away everything that belongs to them and *then* have the kids do chores; it is what works best for your family. Before they could go out to play, their chore had to be completed and checked off.

I also assigned a big kid to a little kid. I had the older child help the younger child to get dressed, tie their shoes, hold their hand when we went to the store, etc, etc, etc. I only assigned two children together who got along. This is not the time to teach two kids how to get along. Far from it! This is how you will keep your sanity, especially if you have a big family.

I have gone so far as to have an older child tutor a younger child in school if I had to work with another child in depth or if I had a baby to nurse. I always checked to make sure that the older child was teaching correct things, but it was good for the older one to help the younger because it cemented the information in the older kid's head too. It is true that the best way to make sure you know something is to try to teach it.

The kids had to have their school work done before they could be finished and go play "for good" during the day; I make the distinction between letting them go play for recess and go play "for good". Everyone needs a break, or several breaks, during the day, and homeschooled children are no different, but before they could go play at a friend's house or go play for an extended time, chores and schoolwork had to be finished.

I also don't lecture very often anymore. I set the kids to task with a "textbook" and then check up on them/have them come to me with questions. By the time a kid gets to be about 4th grade, they know exactly what is expected of them and just *do* what they are supposed to do.

I have kids check their own work or their sibling's work. They are on the honor system to not cheat. I usually give them a marker or pen and make them put down their pencils so they aren't tempted to change answers. If it is something they are struggling with, I won't have them check their own work because oft times I will make them go back and redo problems and I don't want them to remember the answers; in these cases, I will have a sibling do it or I'll do it myself.

On this vein of thought, I make my kids get an 80% or higher on their work to be able to move on. If they get less than an 80%, I will make them do corrections on the problems they got wrong, working and reworking, until they *do* get an 80% or higher.

Even though I only have 1 child that I am homeschooling now and who needs help doing things, I still stick by my methods.

I feel very strongly that children should learn to be an asset to the family, not a liability. They should be able to "earn their keep", and they will find self-esteem in knowing how to clean a house, babysit & think of another, and knowing what is expected of them.

I had a child tell me the other day that I should be paying them to do their chores; I raised my eyebrows and said that perhaps they should be paying rent then. Their answer was "point taken" and a smile.

It doesn't hurt a child to learn responsibility and to learn that they *do* cost money and that they *should* be helpful; I believe that if they don't learn that, they will be a taker from society and not a giver, and they will expect things to be given them without putting in the hard work.

To truly have self-esteem, a person must truly feel their worth, and the only way to feel your worth is to do things of worth.

Wordless (kind of) Wednesday

Over at Rhubarbsky, she is having color week; I thought it looked like fun, so though I am behind, I am going to give it a shot.

monday: yellow
tuesday: pink
wednesday: blue
thursday: rainbow
friday: red

(click to enlarge pics)

Monday - yellow:

(would this be a meshing of Monday and Tuesday? ;)

Tuesday - pink:

And this pic came from the pond last night. I turned it in for my photography assignment this week - I'll also use it for "blue" since the water is mostly blue and Matt's shirt is blue:

Have a great day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Full manual baby!!

In photography, it seems that the holy grail is to be able to shoot in full manual (The photographer chooses the aperture, ISO, and shutterspeed. I also have found that I love manual focus so much more than auto focus. So, yeah! FULL manual. :) I was so nervous last week when the instructor said that he would be teaching us full manual. Then I tried it.....

and I LOVE it! It is so much easier than I thought it would be! So I'll practice some more this week. :)

All of these pics were taken this weekend while the kids were having fun playing in the water.

And I have to tell you that I LOVE this boat! I am thinking of buying a second, because the first is always dedicated for Michael and an older kid like Jared or Amber (I like to have Michael with an older kid - they can care for him better).

(It looks like this should be an ad for that tube, doesn't it? haha!)

Did you do anything fun this weekend? I'd love to hear about it! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some pics of the kids

Today you get to see the odds and ends pics taken over the course of the week.

Jared. He is such a good sport about modeling for me. I need lots of practice, and he helps me alot. (Thanks Jare. :)

This pic has the wrong lighting, the composition isn't great... but isn't he cute? Every once in a while a real smile creeps out. So nice. :)

And of course I have to throw in a pic of the baby goat. She is so cute!

Today is park day. I have about 45 minutes to get all these kids ready to go, so I'll say "adios" for today and see you again on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Engagement Pic Photo Shoot

Yesterday, Amber, Tino, & I went to their favorite walking park and took some pics. (I'm sorry that the quality of the photos are so bad. I don't know why they look so blurry here.... )

And it made me realize that perhaps the mom should *not* be taking the engagement pics. They were kissing and I'd hurry and snap off shots and tell them, "Ok, we're done".

I think I'm beginning to understand my kids' shouts of "OOOOH YUCK!" when they run into Steve & me kissing. (Which makes me always think of "Cheaper by the Dozen" - the new one - when Hillary Duff's character came into her parent's bedroom only to find them kissing & tells them to "get a room" "we've already got one" "well at least wait until I leave" "can you hurry, then?")

I'm still uncomfortable with remembering that my children are people. Perhaps they have the same problem with Steve & me.

Anyhow, their pics turned out way cute (I'm still working on photoshopping out Amber's tag on that second to last one.... )

They are having another photoshoot today with Amber's bff's mom, Barb. Can't wait to see those pics too!

Have a great day today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aperture Assignment turned in - check

Today is *the day* that we start the routine to get out of the house and go to the park. I'm up early, showered, dressed and ready to go.... two of the four kids are still asleep and the other two are in the back playing the xbox. The house is nice and quiet. I think I'm going to love this new routine!

Tonight is my photography class. I sent in my photo assignment to the instructor a couple of days ago. I couldn't pick between the piano and the iris, so I sent them both in.

And then I couldn't resist sending in this pic too:

It was taken in the shutter speed mode, not the aperture mode, but it was just so cute!

Well, I'm off to wake up kids and get the day moving. I hope that you have a terrific day, & I'll see you tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Water Fun

On Saturday, Steve & I packed up the kids and headed for Burraston Pond.

Matt's favorite part was playing on the swing:

Steve & Matt were the only two to play on it

the rest were off doing their own thing.

The baby detested the water, so he sat on Amber's lap and ate Goldfish crackers the whole time.

Emily floated around on the tube; Michael liked the tube ok, but...

he LOVED the boat best.

Jared did too, so Michael and Jared floated around on the $20 Walmart boat for just about the whole time.

And YES! you did read that right. Walmart has an inflatable 2 person boat for right around $20, either $19.97 or $20.97, I don't recall & the oars were $10 for both.

The kids all put in $5 to get it; best investment of the summer, so far!

How about you? Anything fun going on at your house?

Today I promised the kids that on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays we are going to start going to the park first thing in the morning. Maybe that will help me get up and get motivated to get more done... or at least to pry me out of the house. ;)

Have a great day!