Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thoughts on the last night of the year

2011 will be over in a few hours. In all of the obvious ways it has been a good year for our family. In spite of now having an hour commute to and from work, Mike's had a better work year than he's had in years. The company is doing well even in this abysmal economy, and Mike is beginning to see some of his hard work pay off. Jonathan and Madi, while growing up too fast, are growing into amazing young people, and make us prouder every day. Jake has had the best year of his life. He is much more agreeable than he's ever been. He still doesn't so much care what others think of him, but somehow he has transformed into a pleasant and mostly cooperative little guy. We suspect that starting the year out in a mainstage play was a turning point for him. Having his first lead role helped too. This week someone we didn't know actually recognized him in Publix for his role as Ugly in HONK! We've had a relatively healthy year as well. Mike's bloodsugar had some ups and downs (or should I say some ups that brought us down?), and we've dove into a lot of alternative therapies for Madi's thyroid, but at last check it is going in the right direction. So all in all a good year right? Well, that could be debatable. You see, we don't live in a bubble. Our close knit "family" of friends has been rocked to the core this year. In many ways this topic is not mine to blog about so I will be sure to avoid any names or details. Just as when things were good, it was hard to begin to explain how close our friendship community was, now that things are bad it is even harder. These are the people who put away our Christmas decorations when we were out of town for three weeks, the friends who supported me through Mike's illness four years ago, people who have helped to raise each others children, MY children! They are the "village", MY village! The "new normal" that we are now living is very much like a divorce. A divorce that has left some of us feeling like forlorn children. Don't get me wrong, there are victims in this tragedy and I'm not naive or whiney enough to be calling myself one of them, but it seemed like the time to blog about this because for the rest of my life the last quarter of 2011 will bear a stain. It is the kind of event that warrants a "before that" and "after that" kind of thinking. Let me tell you, life was much easier in the "before" days. I've learned a lot in the last few months. I appreciate my family and my faith more than ever. I've had a front row seat as I've watched God carry people I love through incomprehensible situations. Someday the new normal will just be normal, faith will continue to carry everyone through. I know in my heart that God is a part of this community however torn apart it seems. In the meantime, I will do my best to muddle through this unscripted scene that is life at it's messiest. I will pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide me as I continue to guide my own children through this uncharted territory. And someday I'll stop wishing for those "before" days.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New computer

I haven't posted again since Christmas night because

1. I still haven't figured out why I can't seem to flip pictures

and 2. I'm just having too much fun exploring a real working computer!

Is anyone else having an issue with blogs having words with hyper-links and when you click on them it says you've been chosen to participate in a survey?! I can't figure out if it is an issue with blogger or an issue with my computer.

Gotta go now, but I really will be back soon!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas morning

I've flipped this tree picture a few times, but it keeps coming up sideways. I will experiment more with this computer tomorrow. Also the pics I have of the boys from this morning are sideways too. It's a work in progress!

Merry Christmas

To my loyal few (readers)... I got a laptop for Christmas!!! Prepare yourself for lots of posts!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just a quick post

I got on the computer awhile ago to update (for the first time in over a month!!) and between the slowness of the computer and my desire to search two different counties worth of libraries and read blogs and homeschool forum posts from people I know and don't know, now I have exactly 18 minutes to type before I have to drag Jake away from the neighbors and get in the car. Jake and Madi have choir at 6:00. Why is it that I have to be in the car at 4:00 when church is only 15 minutes away?! Because I have to drive to Downtown Disney to pick Madi up from a really cool birthday party at Disney Quest. Am I insane or Mom of the Year? Actually Mom of the Year probably goes to the mother of the host of the Disney Quest Birthday party. That means I'm probably insane. There was no way I was going to have Madi miss this party for a very good theatre friend (who is very much like a younger though taller brother to her) and there is no way she can miss choir tonight since Christmas Eve the mother of all choir nights is only FIVE days away so what's an insane mom to do but accomodate her daughter by spending two hours in the car. Jake and I have a new Andrew Clements book to listen to on the ride. Jonathan is at the party too, but he gets to stay down there for dinner and will get a ride home since he is not in choir. Interestingly enough one of the options for today was for Jake and I to head down there earlier and spend some time at Downtown Disney, but he chose to stay and play with the neighbors instead (and I chose to wrap Christmas presents and fight with this slow and annoying computer). I'm down to 8 minutes now. When I return hopefully in the next day or two I have all kinds of updates. Since I last posted we've celebrated Thanksgiving and our 17th anniversary, we just finished a weekend of six shows (two of Best Christmas Pageant Ever and four of Bugsy Malone), Jonathan has finished a semester of Spanish 2 and should finish English this week, we have booked a cruise for the end of January beginning of Feb, we've had all kinds of nice pictures taken that need to get on here, the kids performed at around 10 different Christmas tour events, and probably a lot more stuff that I can't even think of right now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My guinea pig boy

We have a video tape of our brand new baby Jonathan just before leaving the hospital at 2 days old. He is fresh out of the womb and is laying in one of those clear plastic portable isolet thingamajigs. He is crying his little tiny pink head off and his pathetic mother is patting him lightly saying soothing things like "you're ok" and "be a good boy, Mommy and Daddy are going to take you home soon". In spite of having babysat and worked with kids endlessly for at least 10 years before having Jonathan, I had no idea what I was doing. {Remember this is pre-stroke. By the next evening we would become model parents not setting foot outside of the hospital for a full seven days to be an advocate for our little baby every step of the way. (actually I lie, I walked out one night with my father to move the car...Mike litterally never left the building)}

Jonathan was the guinea pig. Thankfully for his siblings sake he had that stroke at 3 days old and we learned first hand how to put our baby's needs first and how to be the best parents we could possibly be. Putting his (and subsequently Madi and Jake's) needs first included a whole list of family dynamics including co-sleeping, extended nursing, and homeschooling. I can for the most part sit here 16 years later and say I have no regrets. I parented in a way that felt right and made sense in light of almost loosing our little guy, and I've never looked back. I don't question our approach to delayed academics with Jonathan. I don't question the fact that we had to be a "short order cook" type family because of his bloodsugar issues as a toddler and preschooler (though I do wish his siblings weren't so picky because of it). We did what we had to do with what God gave us. I've never questioned our choices for curriculum and our way of learning through life in general.

UNTIL... High School! Now I'm second guessing myself daily. Not about homeschooling. Not even about the materials and classes. Just about when and how and how much and...and... Jonathan sat in front of his computer from about 10 until 4 today with a small break for lunch and a shower. He did three subjects. I'm not hovering over him to make sure he's on task every second, but he can attest to the fact that I certainly lay eyes on him and ask "what are you working on now?" at least a few times an hour. Like I said in my last post, we're playing the game. It's working out ok. Here's the thing though we only have a few more years to homeschool. 'Working out ok' doesn't really cut it for me. Up to this point in his high school career he's taken all the same classes kids in brick and mortar schools are taking. (plus the really important ones like Theatre and Theology of the Body) We're not going to change anything this year (except maybe our attitudes), but next year I'm thinking maybe we should really shake things up a bit. We homeschool, so we can right?! I've never given a lick about whether or not the public schooled 4th graders are learning about state history or world cultures. We don't have to worry about what "they" are doing, we can do what we want to do. Why does all that have to change with high school? Let me digress enough to say, I still think it does have to change with high school, just maybe not all the way. I don't want to 'play the game' if it means losing the love of learning. On the continuum of 'school at home' versus 'whatever floats your boat', when it comes to high school I'm much closer to the school at home way. Here's what I'm proposing though...maybe Jonathan won't take Spanish 3 next year (he really doesn't like flvs Spanish)...maybe he won't even take Chemistry (maybe he'll take Astronomy or some kind of science that he's actually interested). Maybe he'll make it to the gym more than once a week and we can turn that into not only a credit but a healthy habit that will serve him well for the rest of his life. Maybe he'll take a computer class, maybe Psychology. Maybe I'll change my mind 50 more times before we choose classes for next year. One thing is for sure though, by the time Madi and Jake get to this point I'll know what I'm doing. Once again they'll be able to thank him for being the guinea pig.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tech week

It's tech week and Mike's out of town. That means I have to stay awake all hours to go get Jonathan from the theatre when he is done. Actually even when Mike is home, I'm generally the one doing that. Why, though, does it seem like I am the most tired when I have to stay awake?! Jonathan is again helping with the lights for the mainstage show that will open this week, that is in addition to the regular kids show (Bugsy Malone), the extra kids show (Best Christmas Pageant Ever), and Christmas tour (performing for all the local light ups, nursing homes etc). Then there's the second stage show that he will be working on as well which opens next weekend.

I've never been a wishy washy homeschooler, but as the trail blazer for homeschooling high school, I'm sometimes second guessing myself. My general thought is that we must play the game and take the typical high school classes. This is working for Jonathan. It's the current emails and phone calls about lack of adequate progress being made in Spanish that gets me stressed out. The progress (or lack of) is in time not grade, his grade is good. My questioning comes in when I try to figure out if it's a time management problem or if it's an unrealistic expectation on all of our parts regarding how much can actually be accomplished in a day. I know I personally have unrealistic expectations about how much I can get done in a day. How much down time is appropriate? If the theatre takes up x-amount of hours, does that mean Jonathan has used up all his down time and should not be allowed to watch Seinfeld (or the netflix documentary on the American Revolution)? When he wants to chat should I send him back to work? When he cleans the kitchen should I send him back to work? Questions questions!

On a different but similar note I read an amazing commentary on homeschooling today. It is especially interesting considering Mike just told me there was an article in USA TODAY about how some doctors are dropping patients because they refuse to vaccinate. AND the Yahoo headline story was about the city of Milwaukee scaring parents into not co-sleeping with their kids. I spend most of my time surrounded by people who know that as the parent it is their decision how to educate their kids, their decision whether or not to vaccinate, their decision where their children will sleep. I am sometimes still shocked and always baffled by parents who don't realize those are their God given rights. The government or the doctor or the teacher should no be making these decisions. I might be struggling over how best to educate my high schooler, but I am certainly glad that I know it is our family's own decision to make.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A collection of phone pics

My little choristers...

Science in costumes!

Pumpkin decorating at the library. A tradition I realized I've been doing longer than just about all the kids that were there (including Jake) had even been alive!!

Soccer and the playground from another planet...

Jake's "American handcrafts" homemade clay marbles and a felt marble bag.

Homemade clam chowder in bread bowls (no the bread bowls aren't homemade). Incidently, I love fall cooking! I'm getting on a roll with meal planning, now if only we could all be home to eat at a decent hour...

All Saints Day Parade Jake was St Gregory the Great patron saint of choir boys...

Field trip at the Rep

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

an attempt at picture catch up

Some science... (in case you were wondering, when you soak an egg in vinegar and it gets all still doesn't bounce on the counter!)


For today...November 1st

Outside My Open is cool and feels so good.

I am thinking...that there is so much to catch up on, I'm pretty sure it'll never happen. This means on the blog and in real life. On the heals of that thought is the thought that I'll probably start to catch up in about nine years and then that really stresses me out. Not that I will be caught up then, but that I'll have the potential to be. Never mind, I'm not ready for anyone to grow up, I'm going to embrace this not being caught up with all I've got!

I am hearing...not much. The big kids are still snoozing after a night of sugar, Jake is downstairs on the wii, but I can't hear it from here.

We are listening to...Felicity the American Girl on CD. Mostly Jake and I are, but the others have listened some too.

To Be Fit and Healthy...UGH! October was probably my worst month at the gym in a year and a half. So far I'm not making plans for November to be much better. Today is supposed to be the start of the fattest two months of the year and I got a jump on that early this year.

I am thankful for...Jonathan's quick healing with his wisdon teeth and so much more!

I am reading...the latest Nicholas Sparks book, the name of it escapes me right now.

From the Kitchen...Yesterday I made buffalo chicken dip for a Halloween event, that translates in to more chicken for Mugga's chicken soup today.

From the learning rooms...Jake and Madi still seem to be on the same pace, both finishing up the Revolution and starting the brand new nation. I'm trying to decide how long I'm going to take with Jake's. We may slow down here and spend a lot of time on each president and state. If so we may take two years to do this curriculum. I'm thinking next he'll do Exploring Countries and Cultures. At whatever point he does that I think Disney passes are a must, so the question is Disney next year or the year after? The year after is an awful long time to wait!! On a side note we are getting into EPCOT for free on Saturday, it pays to have friends in high places. Jonathan and Madi actually have a youth group event there where we will explore the Catholic aspects of the EPCOT countries. (not to mention sampling food {and maybe even wine} from around the world!)

I am Praying...lets just leave it at that, I am praying and praying and praying!

I am going... to Mass for the solemnity of All Saints this morning.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week...just plugging along, trying to accomplish as much as humanly possible while still appreciating every single moment.

What else is new?
I just touched the bottom of the computer desk and felt a dried boogie..... Yuck!JJJJAAAAKKKKEEE!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

stream of consciousness

I had a little bit of a blogging run and then I crashed. I was thinking about this last night along with a huge assortment of other things that were cluttering my mind.
Things like Jonathan has done essentially no school work this week because he got his wisdom teeth out on Tuesday. He is healing really well except for waking up in pain each morning because he's slept well all night and the evening's medication has long since worn off. No school all week for a 3rd grader? OK! (Jake actually has done school this week though) No school all week for a 10th grader? Not so OK. Especially since next week is as full of a week as one can imagine including 2 Dr appointments, a craft day, a book club, a youth group trip, and a trip to the Florida Theatre Convention. Two of these things don't involve Jonathan at all (the craft day and book club, if you were wondering), but still it's a lot for any family. This doesn't include theatre and more and more theatre, and soccer, and choir, and whatever else I'm forgetting right now. Ugh! It's exhausting! Starting tomorrow we also have a week filled with things we will miss because we still haven't perfected the art of being in two places at one time. There's a carwash for the theatre (to raise funds for said convention), but we are walking in a walk-a-thon that is raising money for the local St Vincent de Paul food pantry that feeds 700 hundred families a month in our area alone (and fed 900 families last month!!) Then the rest of the week will continue with having to miss one or more scheduled activity in lieu of another and that kind of thing totally stresses me out. I'm the kind of person that generally feels the need to say yes to anything that I don't absolutely have to say no to. Like if someone says can you come let my cat out at 3am and I know I have nothing else going on, then I feel like I have to say yes. I hate having to take my kids away from one activity (where I'm worried people will be annoyed because we left early) to get them to another activity (where I'm worried people will be annoyed because we're showing up late). The positive side of needing to be at two places at once though is that we really can't, so to that end there is less on the proverbial schedule then there otherwise would be. I like to look for the silver lining! We finished three books today! All three kids and I finished listening to Sign of the Beaver (I liked it even more than I expected), then Madi and I finished the third (of ten or eleven) of her core history books, and Indian Captive. We've gotten into this good routine of taking turns reading her history aloud while the other of us folds laundry or cleans the kitchen. Madi started out doing her history on her own, but I'm too big of an American History fan to not be a part of it, so this is working. Jonathan likes to sit in too. It's slightly harder to do Spanish or Biology while listening to History though so it sometimes poses a problem. Jake's History has been lining up with Madi's quite nicely, but it's looking like hers is going to start cruising ahead, she's past the Constitution now and he's still lingering in Colonial Days. His book has a section each week about an area of the country which tends to slow things down a little. Today's was about Chesapeake Bay which is really cool because we went on (in) the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel this summer on our way to Delaware. I really like how his curriculum brings in science and geography (and Bible and literature and more), it's a hit! Speaking of Jake, remember his song from Honk!? "I'm just different, I'm just different from the rest..." Well he really truly is. Today alone he was creating his Veggie Tales Silly Song Countdown posters completely color-coded and everything and not five minutes later he was playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire by himself (they dug out the old board game the other day) and he could genuinely answer a lot of the questions! Usually by the time a person knows an excessive amount of trivia, they have outgrown Veggie Tales have they not? He's also brought back some other old favorites this week and is in the middle of another Berenstain Bears kick. Jake turned nine on Wednesday and I didn't even post about it. All Jonathan got was his card on here too. What can I say, I'm in a little bit of a slump. Some years there are huge birthday blog posts, others not so much. There's always plenty of cake though, so don't worry about that!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yummola Granola Bars

Go here to find a link to some really good homemade granola bars. There are all kinds of ideas there.

Here is the original recipe that the link links to.

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, namely because I was not convinced that the flavor came through)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see Note above)
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

I've only made these once so far and now I'm going to tell you how I tweaked the recipe to my own liking and pantry. Let me just say these were the yummiest granola bars ever!

I used...
1 2/3 cups of oats
1/2 cup sucanat
1/3 cup freshly ground wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (maybe 1/2)
about a cup of chocolate chips
1/3 cup dark chocolate almond butter
6 Tbls melted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbls water

I also didn't have parchment paper. I sprayed the pan and they came out fine.

This recipe is not for precise people, you have to be willing to experiment and toss in things (like chocolate chips and more chocolate chips) as you see fit.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

More schooly thoughts

For the last few years I've been a little envious of people with younger kids. "Don't do school," I'll think, "Go to the park, bake brownies, play a game!" Last week I had a brainstorm...I can still do those things too. Yes Jonathan has a heavy high school workload (and an even busier extra-curricular/social/theatre calendar) and Madi is right behind him, but you know what? They're here now. Well technically they aren't here NOW, in a twist of fate Madi is at the theatre watching Dracula and Jonathan is not. Jonathan is at a high school youth group life rally. Mike and Jake are at the mall, and I am enjoying some quiet on a rainy Saturday evening. The best part is everyone is getting a ride home and I don't have to go out to get anyone! (Thank you ladies who have my big kids and coincidentally are two of my handful of readers!) But I digress. Friday we went to a play in the big city. Then we met Mike for a yummy pizza lunch. Then we went to the big city library. It was like the old days. Jonathan did (at least part of) an Algebra 2 test in the car, but otherwise no SCHOOL got done. We all enjoyed listening to Sign of the Beaver on CD and got through more than half of it in just that one day. Yes, Jonathan will have some stuff to catch up on. Madi too. I'm really going to make a point of continuing to do those things like lunch out and the big city library. And park days, and games, and the beach, etc etc... I still can! You know that poem about leaving the dust and cobwebs because "I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep?" The same is true for homeschoolers. We homeschool in part so we can do these things, so ya know what? We're going to keep doing them! Yes I'll still yell, "get back to work" nine out of ten times, but that tenth time, you can be sure we'll drop everything and do something fun! That's what homeschooling and parenting in general, is supposed to be about!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

School talk and growing up

At least twice a week I cry about how quickly my kids are growing up. I think I cried twice yesterday alone. I mean my first baby is 16! SIXTEEN!! Sixteen years ago today, he had seizures and a stroke. That's when we really became parents. The first three days were just practice, that day was the real thing. Before that day my standard goal in life was to make a difference in the lives of children in the world. That day I realized it was in raising my own child (and subsequent children) that I was going to channel my difference making. We've definitely done things differently along the way, although at some point a lot of the "different" became normal. Many mothers in our country have to first let go at 6 weeks when they go back to work and the baby goes to day care. Many more have to let go at 5 for kindergarten. Here I am hanging on for dear life to my 16 year old. I'm so not ready to let go. And yet, I've been letting go gradually for the last 16 years. No matter how this sounds I'm really not codependent. I'm not a helicopter parent either. As I type this my 8 year old is out playing in the street with some kids I don't even know, I hold my breath when I hear a car coming, but I let him go. I give my kids a pretty good about of space and opportunity to make their own decisions. They're doing pretty well. If we don't trust our kids, how will they ever become trustworthy? (that's from Footloose and my kids are allowed to watch that). Without responsibility how will they ever become responsible? (I made that one up myself). Even though we homeschool, the kids (especially the bigger two) are responsible for their own work. If Jonathan weren't responsible, the theatre would be dark much of the time. If Madi weren't responsible, a lot of local parents would be missing out on a lot of date nights. She babysat, spur of the moment, last Friday until midnight for a young family who had never had a babysitter before. When I say young family, I mean the parents were much closer to Madi's age than they were to my about growing old!! Last night we had a father of four here who was STARTING high school the year Jonathan was born!! Seriously!! When did I get so old?! Where is the time going? Which brings me right back to crying about how fast time is flying. How fast the kids are growing! I'm really making a point to appreciate every little thing because little things become big things way too quickly!

I got off on a tangent, I was actually going to talk about schooly stuff here. I'm not sure if it has to do with being in my forties, or if it's because I've actually been homeschooling for over 10 years, but I'm much more vocal about my opinions than I used to be. Hang around me for a while and you're bound to hear it. When we started homeschooling all we were doing was continuing early childhood at home. Well, more like at the park, at the library, and on business trips with Daddy. I knew even then that education didn't need to look like school at home. (Guess what even in high school it doesn't look like school) We took on the labels of unschoolers or child led learners or delayed academics people. Those labels conjure up different things in people's minds. Often people think it means not doing enough. Once, long ago, a friend "defended" what I did to another friend by saying "Julie does a lot more with her kids then she lets on". Basically in these people's minds unschooling meant doing nothing. She was right in the sense that we've never done nothing! Someday I hope to do nothing at least for a little while, but I've never come close to that. I just wasn't doing what some people would call school. Maybe we're still not. Even yesterday I used my standard, "We're always doing school or we never do school" it just depends on how you look at it. Are we always learning? Absolutely! Anyway, this is my round about way about getting to my latest opinion. You wouldn't believe the number of times people talk to me about grade levels of things. For some reason people think if something is written at a fourth grade level, it can't be educational to anyone older than fourth grade. This way of thinking is crazy to me! I encounter it all the time though. Why people think something has to be full of challenging words to be noteworthy I'll never understand. I had a big rant yesterday about a popular history series that I love being educational to even the smartest people even though it is written at an easy reading level. Guess what else... your kid can still learn things even if they listen to a book on CD, they don't have to physically READ it for it to sink in. I was getting so worked up about this that I even started saying things I hate to hear like "I graduated cum laude from a prestigious university and I still learn a lot from reading these books" (and even JUST listening to them on CD). UGH! The moral here is don't get me started on this! The thing is no one really knows what goes on in other people's homes and homeschools. I'll fill you in on something though, around here we talk all! the! time!! So we might read the simplest thing, but we might have a college worthy discussion about it. We might have even done that back in the day when people called us unschoolers and thought we weren't doing enough.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Facebook status style

This is the card I gave Jonathan on Sunday.

18 years ago today Mike and I got engaged. I had pink eye.

I closed the kitchen window last night and am happy to report we don't have dead blind mosquitoes all over the stove...I guess we figured out how they're getting in.

If you don't know what blind mosquitoes are, you don't live in the same town I live in.

Madi had soccer practice last night and Jake and I played on the strangest playground ever. It is actually really cool, and very futuristic. Everything is sort of tilted so it spins on its own. I felt like I was on another planet or something.

Come see my kids in Cinderella next weekend! Their parts are Friday the 14th at 7 and Sunday the 16th at 2.

Come get your car washed this Saturday at Sonic between 9 and 12 to support my kids in all their theatre endeavors!!

Jonathan's last behind the wheel driving class is this Saturday (he won't be at the car wash). Yes five weeks have gone by LIKETHAT! Actually sixteen years have!

I've got a lot of blog posts in my head, but for now that's where they'll stay.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Homeschool Resources

Can you even believe it, I'm posting two days in a row. Kirsten
tagged me on this days and days ago, and I'm going to attempt to answer the questions while also blogging about my own recent homeschool thoughts.

One homeschooling book you have enjoyed...

Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss

There are lots more, but after homeschooling for over 10 years I've really been out of the how and why to homeschool kind of books for quite some time. Also I am not going to take the time to link to any of these so you'll just have to do it the old fashioned way and google it if you are curious.

One resource you wouldn't be without....

I have to include my two favorites here...the public library and the internet! We are fortunate enough to live in a county where we can take books out of any of the (about 10) county libraries. It is very easy to order any books you need via my other favorite, the internet, and they will be delivered to the library of your choice. I'm a library glutton though and I don't stop there. I happen to live in the one town in the county whose library isn't part of the county system. I make quick use of that place as well. They are a little stricter there and their fines and policies will kill you, but there's something endearing as well. It is so quiet and comfy in there and it really feels like you're stepping back in time when you we go there (which is at least weekly). But wait there's more. That's still not enough for me. We also have a card (and large fines) to the neighboring larger big city county. I currently owe then over $5 for a book that would cost only $3.99 in the store. it was lost under Madi's bed for weeks and no one even read it (Jake checked it out). I might spend a fair amount at all these libraries over the course of a year, but I get sooo sooo much more in return and in the end I'm saving a bundle.

Now for the internet (and let's include my ipod in this)... just today we spend some time watching the animaniacs state capitals song and video and their presidents one too. This was on you tube, so we can add you tube to the list of resources I wouldn't be without. Yesterday Jake and I watched the Pilgrim part of EPCOT'S American Adventure on you tube. ("There's a land cross this ocean I'm waiting to see, a land for these people who dream to be free......") For that matter I can add Disney to the list of resources. We're missing not having passes right now. I'm thinking next year Jake will probably do Exploring Countries and Cultures and we'll spend a lot of school at EPCOT.

Khanacademy is another website that I've only begun to tap the riches of.

One resource you wish you'd never bought...

I'm not sure that I have an answer for this one. Maybe some of the more "pro-reformation" stuff from My Father's World, oh and the one History book that bashed FDR. Even things we don't agree with I've been able to use as a lesson in the author's perspective etc. I'm pretty sure of stuff before I buy it though so I generally don't buy anything until I check it out first. I might have a few things laying around that we haven't used yet, but they'll be used eventually.

One resource you enjoyed last year...

This kind of goes with the last question. I generally don't use a resource until I'm pretty sure of it, so everything we've ever used I've enjoyed. That might sound a little obnoxious, but for the most part I think it's accurate. Jake used Catholic Heritage 2nd grade last year and I really liked it. I did find that I didn't get my money's worth out of the whole lesson plan packet though, so this year for 3rd he's just doing their spelling and language and other stuff for the rest. Some of my favorite all time resources are Five in a Row, Singapore Math, Teaching Textbooks, Apologia Science, Story of the World, and this year Notgrass's America the Beautiful and Hakim's A History of US.

One resource you wished existed...

I wish Netflix didn't drastically up their prices. We will be receiving our last DVD in the mail today (the second part Colonial House which I highly recommend). After that we'll be streaming only. We can't justify the cost of the DVDs, but now I'll have to barter with someone to let us watch some of their American History ones.

One resource you would like to have...

Hmmm this might require more brain power than I have right now to figure out. We really have so much at our disposal, it's sometimes hard to imagine more.

One homeschool catalog you enjoy reading...

This is probably the easiest question. Until this year none of my kids have ever done Sonlight (Madi is doing Core 100 this year), but it has been BY FAR my favorite homeschool catalog for years and years. We have used it to get many great book recommendations. LOVE! IT!!! (Madi and I are loving the whole curriculum this year too!!)

So here's my homeschooling thought of the week (it doesn't apply to homeschooling only, it's about all school and learning in general). What percentage of school would you say is learned for the information and what percentage is done for the sake of brain development, learning to learn, etc... Like for example I think most people can agree a lot of higher math is done for brain development and not because anyone really needs to know if two trains are traveling toward each other, one having left from Boston at 9am at a speed of 85 mph and the other left New York at 9:10 blah blah blah, you get my point. Here's what I've been pondering lately. Jake's spelling for example... Jonathan and Madi never really did spelling at Jake's age (and thus it might not really be necessary...shhh don't tell him that). So I wonder, am I having him do it so he'll really learn to spell the words (which I am convinced he'll learn someday anyway), or so he'll learn that he has to do some things even if they're not always that much fun? I do believe that the activities in the book are good for his brain development too. Also spelling has a nice rhythm to it to Monday the first page of the lesson, Tuesday the second, Wednesday write the words in your neatest handwriting, Thursday quiz (often oral and frequently while he's in the bathtub), Friday test (unless he gets them all right on Thursday). Rhythm is good. Two of the things that Jake is "into" currently are Veggie Tales and the game Top Trumps. He's especially hooked on playing the Star Wars one, but we also have some about dinosaurs, animals, boats, and planes. The way the game works is you pick a category from your card (like fighting skill) and you compete with the other person for their card's fighting skill (or whatever). Well last weekend Jake enlisted Madi and I to help him to create a Veggie Tales Top Trumps. So we made pictures (the pic is at the top) of Bob and Larry and all their buddies and they can compete on the basis of funniest, tallest, best silly song etc. He definitely learned more doing this than he probably did with any of his school work last week. It reminds me of the long ago question when someone asked what Jonathan was learning in second grade. I said he had been present for the birth of his baby brother. The retort was, "That's not in the second grade scope and sequence." I went to public school my whole life and I know I learned far more on our two week vacation to California when I was in 6th grade than anything else the WHOLE REST OF THE SCHOOLYEAR! I can, to this day, tell you about most of the trip in great detail (as can my brother who was in second grade at the time). So here's the thing, we are playing the high school game complete with credits and transcripts etc. I know Jonathan is learning a lot and for the most part enjoying it. He's definitely enjoying Algebra 2 after a year of Geometry, and he's liking Biology. He's not in love with Spanish and English, but he's doing it and getting A's. His History class hasn't started yet and the virtual school people will be hearing from us today. BUT I know that he is getting much more educated and prepared for his future at the theatre. I have many more thoughts, but my time was up a long time ago. There may be more to come...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I was going to call this 'thinking about blogging', but I just called a post that a few times ago

I just can't seem to post much anymore. Years ago in the peek of my blogging, I'd get asked by people, "How do you find/make time to blog?" In those days that was a joke, blogging essentially came before everything except eating! Now...not so much. Those were the days when I "thought in blog", these are the days where I have resorted to writing things in a planner because I seriously CAN. NOT. KEEP. IT. ALL. IN. MY. HEAD!! All three kids are in the thick of Cinderella rehearsals. Jonathan is Herbert (the Prince's Dad), Madi is Fifi (one of the step-sisters), and Jake is a Newsboy (the same part Jonathan was when they did this show five years ago). Jonathan and Madi auditioned on Tuesday for two extra shows. One is the Florida Theatre Conference. The other is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Both of these were audition only and everyone isn't necessarily in. They both got into both! They will each be in a scene of LOCKERS for the conference (this is a competition and something they've never done before), and Madi is Beth (her first lead in two years) and Jonathan is the harried Reverend in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. This doesn't count the two adult shows that Jonathan is currently doing lights for until all hours of the night. Jake has joined Madi in church choir. In addition to the children's choir, Madi, will still be cantoring (ie THE choir) for other Masses frequently. Jonathan and Madi have pretty active Youth Group schedules this year and since Middle School and High School are mostly separate this year that means a lot more driving for me! Oh and Madi has had a bee in her bonnet about playing soccer lately, so she's doing that too! Somehow all of these things and Jonathan's five hours of driving every Saturday for five weeks (and whatever else I am forgetting at the moment) do not interfere with each other. Crazy huh!?

Then there's schooling besides! They all pretty much have heavier loads than ever before. They're keeping up pretty well too and still able to find plenty of down time to hang out with friends and still sneak in too much TV.

Speaking of TV, I'm considering not watching Dancing with the Stars this season. The first week has been recorded on the DVR, but I might not watch it. It's one way to find some more hours in my overflowing week. It's gotten a little old lately. I do like a lot of the dancers, but they seem to have run out of "STARS". And here's the other thing. When I was little I actually thought Sonny and Cher were my parents' friends. Because of that Chastity was my BFF. I now feel a little betrayed by her (him?) There's also the question of the X FACTOR, that has also been recorded, but thus far not watched. I'm a big fan of the singing and dancing kind of entertainment, but if I'm not hooked now, why get hooked ya know?!

Madi's math teacher (AKA Mr Teaching Textbooks) is now talking in my ear and distracting me, so I think it's time to get back to my planner and figure out who's supposed to be where when.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Last one


Our family is camping at Fort Wilderness for Night of Joy this weekend. I am home right now, however, because Jonathan is doing this...

Yesterday we did this...


Tonight we're going back for more!

note: this is Jake's first year going to Night of Joy and he did great! This picture was taken after midnight and he rallied one more time after this to walk (on his own two feet) out of the park and on to the boat, bus, and finally camper!