Sunday, December 26, 2010

Family Time can bring about Question Time...

I love getting to see family and everyone, but with me homeschooling, we inevitably get questions about what the boys are doing and if they are "where they are supposed to be." I don't mind the questions really. I guess I could look at it as if they didn't care, they wouldn't ask.

Braeden, my youngest monkey, is 6 and in first grade. However, he is really struggling with reading.  My mom was asking him something and he told her he couldn't read. Of course, this made her question me. She didn't think it was funny when I looked at her and said "Ohmygawd...I'm supposed to be teaching him to read?!"

He can read more than he gives himself credit for, but this has recently been a big issue for him. So with his insecurities, he simply says he just can't.

This is one of those areas where I refuse to freak out. I truly believe that he will get this on his own time.  I know saying that may come across as way too nonchalant, but his father and I have always, and will always, do what's best for our boys.

I have absolutely no shame in admitting when I can't handle something or if I need a little help with something.  If there is ever any point where I start to wonder if he has any learning disabilities whatsoever, the people in my life should know that I will do whatever I need to address those.

Right now, we are giving him some time.  He is making small steps, but we are comfortable with those steps for the time being.


It was a great visit with my parents. We got to spend a couple of nights with them and the hubs and I took the boys to see Yogi Bear on Thursday. They laughed all the way through it. Even I giggled a few times and thought it was ok. Walter was pretty miserable the whole time, lol. I don't expect to see it on an "Oscar Watch List" or anything, but it's a movie about a talking bear. His expectations were obviously higher than mine. :D

Christmas Eve was filled with great food, love, laughter and lotsa presents! :)  My next post will be about the holiday fun, as well as our visit from Santa, Christmas morning, our sleepover and playtime in the snow.

Yes.  SNOW.  :)

Right now, I need to sleep.  I don't know that I've done that since Tuesday. Even though we have fun with everyone when we aren't at home, none of us sleep very well.  Certainly not as well as we do in our own beds.

This week I have a lot to do around here.  All of this loot has got find a home and I have a pretty large amount of housework to do before our New Year's Eve gathering next weekend.

I can always hope that we will accomplish some school related stuff, but truthfully... I doubt it, lol.  I might be able to get the boys to play some spelling games or something, but with all of the new play stuffs they've received over the last few days, I don't know that I will be able to get them to eat or anything.  Much less do school. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sickness and Surprises...

Two weeks ago, Braeden (my wee one that always gets sick!) got his flu shot.  This did not please him.  Not a shocker...

But he has been having more and more problems with his asthma and the doctor really thought that it would be a good idea to give him the shot.  I don't always do what the doctor recommends (I hate over-medicating and/or doing something just because a doctor said to do it), but I got the flu last November and I really didn't want him to go through that.  Sooo, he got the shot.

At the time, the doctor said that I could bring Bailey in when I got a chance and he could get one too, just as a precaution.  Considering that Bailey gets sick MAYBE once a year - and even that's a high estimate - I was in no mad rush to get him back to the office.

Guess who has the flu?

Am I the best mom ever, or what?

Of course I just knew that when the doctor confirmed this at his office, he really wanted to wag his finger and tsk at me for not getting Bailey in sooner.

It has not been the best week, but better this week than next week. Hopefully he will be feeling back to normal before Christmas.

He has been sunken into the couch for several days.  Watching Christmas movies or surfing through and seeing what Netflix had to offer.  This has not been happy times for Braeden.  When Braeden feels fine, he wants everyone to play with him, lol.

I've been trying to get him involved in things so he can leave Bailey alone. I tried suggesting logging into his curriculum and just doing one or two things. I really wanted him to do this so he could sit at his computer while I was working on mine. This way we could talk and interact, but I could still do what I needed to do. He was willing, as long as he didn't have to do anything in the math program. Some days he doesn't mind math, and others he simply doesn't want anything to do with it. Since it's technically a break (really... it's always a break here, lol... we are trying to dip our toes into the "unschooling" realm, as I've mentioned before, and honestly the boys respond so much better when they have more control of their day), I haven't pushed him.

Now for the surprise part that the blog post title referred to...

I have been introducing the boys to other websites. I know I've talked about sites where they can play educational games. Bailey is so competitive that works for him. It works for Braeden because ... well it's a game. He'll play anything. :)

On one particular site that we enjoy, Braeden always wants to play the preschool games. He's in the first grade... it bugs me that he wants to play those games. When I ask him about it, he says he likes those cause he always does well. Duh, lol...

I'm trying to persuade him, without pushing him, to try and branch out.  He will do some of the spelling games. He has enjoyed some of the animal games. Even some of the keyboarding games.

That's about as far as I can get him to branch. But the other day, when I was suggesting other games for him to try, he shocked me by agreeing to try one of the science games and give some math flash cards a whirl!

I was thrilled! The science game was good, but I don't know if he got anything from it...I heard a lot of mouse clicking but he couldn't really tell me what he was doing, lol.

He did well with the multiplication x 1 flash cards, but after that he was done. I could have tried to get him to start on the x 2 cards, but I was so pleased that he at least spend a few minutes on a math activity, I let it go.

Maybe next time he will try again...

This week is going to be so crazy. I'm sure it will be for most families. The hubs is working his butt off trying to get everything done so he can have Friday off. We have a lot of things to do around here.  I have wrapped one, ONE gift. Blah. I have many more to wrap. I love gift giving.  I hate gift wrapping.  We are going to go down on Wednesday to spend a couple nights with my parents and Walter's mom (they live in same subdivision - how convenient is that?!).  We will be heading home on Friday, just in time to wait for Santa!!

Sending wishes for many blessings and a joyous Christmas to everyone!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I went Christmas shopping today...

... and I made it home alive!  Yaaaay!

Normally I love shopping. I only get bothered when I'm trying to shop for someone and I have NO idea what to get them. I end up wandering around, aimlessly, for hours...only to end up with a shopping cart full of crap that I didn't go to get in the first place, lol.

Add to that the fact that today was the next to last Saturday before Christmas and you can imagine how my aimless wandering went. It wasn't pretty.

But I went. I shopped. I made it home. All is well. I have a few more things to get, but I'm pleased with everything so far.

This time of year is always crazy busy for us, but this year it seems worse. This week the boys didn't do anything school related. At least I don't think they did.

The fact that I don't even know really should put me in the running for that homeschooling-mom-of-the-year award, huh? Geez...

We have been "relaxed homeschoolers" for quite a while. Most would even call what we do borderline unschooling. Well this week, we definitely fell into that unschooling catagory. :)

I had planned on the boys doing a little something school-like this week. If nothing else, I was hoping to pull some words from Time4Learning's list of online spelling words for them to work on. But even that didn't happen.

Tuesday I got a new desk. Of course it had to be put together right away. It ended up taking ALL DAY.  Naturally.

Wednesday I had a little meeting at the tax office (holy season is just around the corner too!) and that lasted longer than I had planned.

Friday our homeschool group did our annual Christmas caroling at the nursing home.

Weeks like this, I'm glad my kids can at least make themselves a bowl of cereal and some Easy Mac so I know they didn't starve. :D

Tomorrow we are taking them to see the new Chronicles of Narnia movie. We are all excited about that.

Hopefully this upcoming week will go a little smoother...but I'm not planning on it, lol.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I need to rant a minute...sorry. :)

As a word of caution, this blog contains my opinions.  Shocker.  Every now and then, I may post something that many will disagree with.  Another shocker.  Please feel free to leave a comment if you want.  But remember, it's MY blog so can I delete those comments that I don't like.  ;)

Every year during the holidays, I encounter people of many different belief systems. I'm fine with that. I love that! I don't believe I shouldn't be allowed to say Merry Christmas, or celebrate Christmas in the way that I want. Nor do I believe people should be forced not to say Happy Hanukkah or Season's Greetings or celebrate THEIR holiday in the way they want. I say Merry Christmas. That's the holiday I celebrate. But that doesn't mean that I don't respect those that do not.

Why do I celebrate Christmas? Because I am a Christian. No, I don't go to church. To be perfectly honest, and I'm sure this will piss people off, we simply have not found one that isn't full of hypocrites. Church should be about worship, not cliques and social standings within the church. Church should be full of people who live by their faith EVERY day of the week, not just on Sundays.  But that's a whole different rant...

I'm sure that surprises people who thought we were weird heathens (we are really...there's just a teensy bit of good in us, lol *wink*). I don't know a lot about my faith. I was raised in a Christian household, but I don't think I truly found my faith until I was an adult. I pick and choose parts of my faith that I live by. I know that's wrong, but that's how I roll.  

I don't judge. Or at least I try not to. Yeah, yeah, there are lifestyles and actions that many have interpreted the Bible as saying are wrong. I'm not saying that those things are wrong or right, I'm saying that they have been interpreted as such. If in fact they are wrong, then that's something that each person, at the right time, will address with God. Why do we feel it's our place to place criticism upon them now?  I'm not saying you have condone or accept that which you think is wrong. But if you truly feel that they are going to hell, then why they can't at least have a nice time while they’re here, lol? 

I also participate in what many Christians consider pagan practices. My kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, so I guess that means we “celebrate” Halloween. Does that mean we celebrate paganism or the devil or whatever by sacrificing animals and casting spells? Well of course it does, but that’s beside the point. 

Really, I had to google why Christians were even opposed to Halloween. My entire life, I thought the only meaning it had was playing dress-up and getting candy. For reals. 

Does that mean that I scoff at Christians who hold “trunk-or-treats” at their churches, rather than go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods? Absolutely not. I respect the differences in everyone’s beliefs. I do wish that those same “trunk-or-treaters” wouldn’t scoff at me for letting my boys worship the devil trick-or-treat.

I understand more about Easter and Christmas. Those days have significant meaning for Christians. Do I think those holidays should be about, and only about, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? That depends on what they bring me.

Of course I don’t! My boys participate in both heathenistic (is that even a real word?) practices, but they can still tell you what those holidays are about and why we celebrate them. My boys can come up with a wish list a mile long for Christmas, but they will tell you why it is that we exchange gifts on Christmas.

Why can’t our children experience a little fantasy and wonder in their holiday? People say “well if my kids found out I lied about Santa, then they will wonder if I’m lying about God.” Really? I guess I can respect that argument. I disagree, but I can respect that. 

However, when I found out that there was no Santa, I did not immediately think “well that’s just great…if there’s no Santa then there most certainly isn’t a God.” My parents were responsible enough (yes I’m being mean and that’s a dig at people) to explain to me about the Santa thing. They made sure I knew Santa was not, nor should he be, compared to Jesus. Santa’s a thing of fantasy and excitement during the holidays. It’s also a fabulous bribing/blackmailing tool for kids… “If you do that, I will tell Santa.” Oh wait…was I not supposed to admit that? 

For as long as we “believed” in Santa, we never got a gift from my parents, or at least not much of one. You know that look on your child’s face when they opened or received a gift that they had been wanting for SO long? That feeling of sheer happiness when they looked at everything around the tree and you could tell that, at least until next year, this was THE best Christmas ever?? Yeah, well my parents sacrificed that for our wonder and joy. 

When I found out that there was no Santa, I was not heartbroken or sad. I was grateful and appreciative. My parents could have shared in some of that gift giving glory, but they didn’t.

I am not as good of a parent as mine were. I’m selfish. That ONE thing, that one big gift that my boys have been wanting? That comes from us, lol.  Santa gets to bring a lot of stuff, but that “best Christmas EVAR” moment?  That’s all ours.

Back to the “if you lie about Santa, you lie about God”thing…

Is the big fat man with a magic sack full of presents real? Well, no. But he is BASED on a real person.  Yes, we’ve changed him around a bit. Ok, a lot. But that fact is, there is history and truth behind St. Nick. He’s based on a real individual. There’s no belief there. There’s fact.

What about God? Well, if you ask me, I see God every time I look at my boys’ faces. There’s my fact. But truthfully, there isn’t any “proof” is there? The whole point behind your…well, it’s faith. Faith means believing in something regardless of whether or not there’s proof.

I know this kinda went all over the place. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, I just needed to get this off my chest. I guess I’m tired of people professing to be true (insert my awe at their perfectness *ahem*) Christians, then turning around and judging or criticizing the actions of those us they deem not Christian enough. 

My participation in the Santa thing does not make you a better Christian than me. It does not mean you love God more than I love God. It doesn't mean your kids are better than my kids, or smarter than my kids, or that they will grown up to better individuals than my kids.   

My boys are good boys. We are teaching them to be respectful and kind. We are teaching them that they need to treat others as they want to be treated. We are teaching them that there are consequences for their actions. We are doing the best we can. 

As I’ve stated before...even if I disagree with them, I still respect those who have different belief systems than I do.  I respect their opinions for choosing to take part in, or choosing not to take part in, certain traditions/celebrations.  I don’t scoff at you and your family.  Or at least I don’t scoff within your earshot. ;)

All I’m asking is for people to have the same respect for myself and for my family.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Update...

I actually took some photos of our Thanksgiving weekend.

Of course, that does not mean that I have put them on my computer yet so I can post them here, lol.  But I will...

Our weekend was great and we enjoyed seeing family.  I even braved the Black Friday shopping fiasco with Tracy, Scott and Tracy's mom.  I left the house at 930pm on Thanksgiving night and got home about 5am that Friday morning.  It was CRAZY!  After some mad shopping, we had a 3am snack at IHOP.  :)

The boys are enjoying the holiday season.  We have put up our tree and what few odd decorations we have.  They love, love Christmas music...which absolutely thrills me!

As far as school goes, I was really hoping to be more break-like by now, but alas, we are still working on a little school.  Braeden is pretty much on a break.  He may hop on his computer and play some online math games or something, but he's not really working too hard. :D

Bailey is doing more of his normal schoolwork than he would like.  He would be doing less if it weren't for the fact that has done waaaay more of his science program than his language arts and math, lol!  He will gladly log on in the mornings without me asking him to, but he always does the science and social studies first.

You may think that this wouldn't be a problem, but there is about twice as much math and language arts as there is science and social studies.  Sooo... on his "break" he is working only on language arts and math.

He isn't entirely happy with this, but without those 2 subjects his day is shorter.  It could be worse, lol...

We have a busy month ahead.  A few scout functions, a visit to a nursing home to go caroling with our homeschool group, and of course multiple family gatherings.  I love this time of year!! :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Testing. It's like a swear word, isn't it?!!

I hate testing.

I did well on tests when I was in school. That doesn't mean that I enjoyed taking them.

There was so much pressure involved. I knew the material, yet would have this massive build up leading up the test. When test day finally arrived, I would sit down, take a deep breath...then freak out and start to hyperventilate. I couldn't help it. It didn't matter that I knew what was on the test. The only thing that mattered was that my grade was high enough.

I know, I know, if I knew the material then the test should have been easy. But it's one of those things that happens when you're under pressure...your brain just freezes up and locks down.

Homeschooling benefit number 491? Very limited testing. I wish I could say NO testing is done around here, but the school board will come get me if I say that. ;)

The boys have their quizzes and tests on their curriculum, but there is no pressure involved. They don't have to be a part of a grading curve, or feel bad if they don't make as high as their classmates.

We are supposed to have a standardized test every 3 years, just to make sure they are progressing. It can be very daunting. But not for the boys. Oh no, they are fine with it. It's ME that has to have a honking big margarita just to make it through the thing. :D

I know other homeschooling parents who feel the way I do...I'm totally (ok, marginally) confident I am doing alright by my boys in regards to homeschooling. Except when it's time to test. I am always afraid that when their test scores come back, they are going to prove I failed.

Even though it's only partially comforting (even the honking big margarita doesn't erase ALL my fears, it just  makes me giggle at them), it's comforting nonetheless to find information and resources online.

Just to shamelessly plug our curriculum, Time4Learning, I was surprised and thrilled to find information on standardized testing by state on their site! The wonderful thing is, you don't have to be a member of the program to benefit from the information they have there! They go over what type of testing is done, as well as what you can expect to find on the tests.

Besides the icky standardized tests...hey, I said I was grateful for the info, didn't say it made me like testing! ;)...there is the big daddy of all tests, the SAT to worry about. Yay for not having a high schooler yet. I have a few years to mentally prepare the boys and myself. And to discover what size margarita is bigger than "honking big."

Even though my boys are no where near the age of prepping for their SATs, I would definitely suggest that my homeschooling friends with high schoolers go visit T4L's SAT courses information page. I remember (surprised I can remember that far back, lol) that the writing part of the SAT was the most intimidating for me. I would have definitely liked to have had an opportunity to take an SAT writing course to help me and ease some of my worries.

Ok, I guess I'm not promoting now. :D

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, I hope everyone else did too! I am hoping I will have time this week to post some pics from the weekend.

Now, where did I put that Christmas tree...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Omagosh...the holidays can't be here again! Can they?

Why is it that the older we get, the faster the holidays roll back around again. When I was little, I used to think that Christmas would NEVER get here...surely there was a 5 year wait between one Christmas to the next. Now, it's like I close my eyes and take a deep breath to enjoy the peaceful "after Christmas" feeling, only to open my eyes back up and realize that it's a month away again. A month. And I haven't bought the first gift yet. Gulp.

Even so, I love this time of year. I love the lights and decorations. I love the Christmas music. I love gathering with my family and my friends. I love watching my boys opening gifts and discovering that Santa brought them exactly what they asked for.  ;) I love the spirit of Christmas. And yes, I love what Christmas truly is about.

Fortunately, we follow a year round school plan and we have a flexible holiday schedule. Very flexible, lol. The summer around here is too hot to really spend a lot of time outside, so the boys don't mind working longer into the summer, if it means they get more time to bake and make candy with Nanny. And they get to visit family. And go Christmas shopping with mommy. :)

We don't completely avoid school during the holidays...we just do it less. Braeden is blazing through the first grade, much like he did with Kindergarten. I'm pretty sure he will be able to take a nice break from his normal curriculum. I'll let him work on spelling and handwriting, because those are things that he is currently struggling with and I don't want him slacking off on those. :) In addition to spelling and handwriting, I'm sure I will let him play some of the online games that we've found recently... like math games, vocabulary games, art games etc.

Since Bailey's sixth grade curriculum is harder and more involved this year, I don't know if he will be able to take as much time off as he normally does. We honestly have to play it by ear and see what comes up. Of course that isn't going over well with him, lol, but he's a trooper.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Extra-curricular Activities / Lessons...?

I don't know how we managed to reach the ages of 11 and 6 without the boys asking us for some type of artsy or musical lessons.  Really.  But we did.

Braeden has enjoyed playing online art and music games on a great website,  He enjoys playing any game on the computer, but he's really taken a shine to the music ones.  He loves playing Rockband (we play this as a family but we also got the boys the Rockband 3 game for their DSs) and really enjoys just listening to music.  He does really well with remembering lyrics and a while back starting requesting music by artist.  He has an awesome, eclectic taste.  He likes a little bit of everything, but right now he is as obsessed with the Glee soundtrack as I am, lol.

He has a small guitar that he got for his birthday a couple of years ago and has enjoyed playing around with that. On this year's Christmas list, he has been begging, begging for these new things called Paper Jamz.  Personally, I can't imagine these lasting more than an hour because they are made out of paper. Well, cardboard actually.  But they really do play.  They have guitars, drums...even amps.

At this point, we are kinda thinking we want to explore his musical interest more. We are talking about trying to find him some music lessons, but he's struggling with pinning down just one instrument right now.  I'm not opposed to him playing more than one, most musicians do, but we have to start somewhere.  And I don't want to have to sell an organ to pay for music lessons for multiple instruments at once.

Fortunately for us, we have a local music store where people can take lessons. I also have my dad (if Braeden wants to play a guitar), when we get a chance to see him.

Bailey enjoys listening to music, but that is a new found thing for him.  Where Braeden has been loving music his whole life, Bailey just really started getting interested in it a couple of years ago.  His tastes aren't quite as eclectic as mine or Braeden's, but he does like a decent array of genres.

Music lessons probably won't come into play for Bailey.  He likes it, even enjoys playing Rockband, but he doesn't seem to want to go any further than having color-coded keys.  I don't blame him there, lol...

Bailey's passion is in art.  He loves painting and drawing.  He has some "How to Draw" books that we've picked up for him and last year, he really started to delve into painting.  My sister in law is an incredible artist.  No, I'm not just saying that.  She's amazing, but she doesn't give herself the credit she deserves. Anyway, last year for Christmas, Bailey wanted some paint and a desk easel. Grandma got those things for him and Stacy (the SIL) was able to show him some great techniques, like how to make trees and blending colors.

It was a great start and I'm thinking he has some natural ability.  Here is a painting he did of a character from a webcomic that he's been reading:

He also completed the animated art program that our homeschool curriculum offers.  He enjoyed it so much that after he finished it the first time, he went through it again.  If he only had the same enthusiasm for the other subjects...

If we find music lessons for Braeden, it would only be fair to try and find some art lessons for Bailey.  I have been doing a little research online, and have found a few things.  All of them are in Athens, which is almost an hour away, but we go there often enough we could find a way to just combine trips or something.

Stacy would make an excellent art instructor and I wish we were able to have her give Bailey more lessons.  Unfortunately for us, she's living on a tropical island at the moment.  Yeah...hardship, huh? ;)

Given our soccer and scouting schedules, I'm not sure when we would squeeze these lessons in, but we do what we do for our kiddos.

If anyone has any ideas about either music or art lessons, feel free to share! :^)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moments of GRRR...

I love teaching my boys.  I have no regrets about our decision to homeschool and I don't long for the day I get to put them back in public school.

Having said that, it's not the easiest thing I have ever done.

It's hard to break down how to teach a wee one to read when reading is something I honestly take for granted.  I feel like I've been reading since birth and can't remember far enough back in my life to a period where I couldn't read.

Science and history are not my areas of expertise.  I love watching shows like Mythbusters and How It's Made, but that's as far into science-y stuff as I go. History is certainly important for any child.  For that matter, any adult.  But still...I struggle with those subjects.  Even though I completely understand their importance, it's hard to retain information and be excited about something that, simply put, bores me.  I know, I know.  I should be ashamed.

Our homeschool curriculum works wonderfully for us and because it's online, it prevents me from going crazy trying to plan out lessons. There have been a few times we need to supplement it, for something specific, but overall I am fairly burden free.

The hubs is professionally a writer and an editor, so he is an excellent resource for the boys and I when it comes to literature and grammar.  His most favorite subjects are science and history (depending on the time period) so he helps out (ok..pretty much manages) those subjects when needed.

So why do I say it's not always easy and why am I GRRR-ing?


Generally, if I'm growling at something school related, it's because of math.

Walter is flat out prohibited from helping the boys with math.  He's one of those mathematicians where 2+2=5.

Think "Rainman" more than "Einstein."

You don't have to feel like I'm talking bad about him...he admits this fact quite readily.  And don't feel bad for him.  I can comfortably say he is one of the smartest individuals I know.  Except for math.

How do I feel about math?  I'm fine with it.


I don't struggle with it the same way the hubs did, and still does.  I'm quick to pick up a calculator,  but that doesn't mean I can't do it in my head if need be.

My issues with math come in the form of what I think are useless concepts.  I fully realize it's not my place to judge whether concepts are useless.  Even if I feel that way about them, I don't skip over them in the course of a math lesson... but it frustrates me to see my kids frustrated over things that seem pointless.

Venn diagrams.

Did you have to go google that?  Most of you probably did, lol.  I did.  Tell me something...when was the last time, as adult, you used a venn diagram for something?  Those of you who work in the math field, or in a lab somewhere, you are excluded from answering.

What if someone asked you what a multiplicative identity was?  Could you answer? math majors and lab just sit back in your genius-ness and shush, lol.

We had a rough week with math this week, and not even harder math like that which Bailey is doing.  Braeden is doing first grade math and we were struggling.  Why?

Here is a sample question: "What is the fewest number of coins needed to make 23 cents?"

Should my 6 year old be able to identify coins? Absolutely.  Should my 6 year old be able to count out 23 cents in one way or another? I would certainly hope so. Should it matter if he used 2 dimes and 3 pennies versus a dime, 2 nickels and 3 pennies?  This is where the math gods somewhere say yes and I say emphatically NO.   I just want him to give me my 23 cents.  I don't care how he does it.

Then we have what he called the "trick questions."

Sample: "Which of the following makes 43 cents using the least number of coins?"
a.   1 quarter, 1 dime, 1 nickel, 3 pennies
b.   4 dimes, 3 pennies
c.   1 quarter, 2 dimes
(these were pictures of coins, not the words)

Braeden is sitting there answering "c" because that's the fewest number of coins.  Of course he doesn't stop to think that "c" doesn't even equal 43 cents. His response?  "Well if it doesn't equal 43 cents then WHY is it in a question asking me to make 43 cents????

His logic isn't wrong.  Not to me. :D

When I first started homeschooling, I wish I'd had a magic homeschooling guide.  One that assured me I was doing the right thing and one that pointed me in the right directions.  We had a whole lot of trial and error moments.  It would have been nice to skip those.

Now I wish I had a different that told me it was perfectly acceptable to tell my kids the answers to those stupid questions on those stupid quizzes about those stupid concepts.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Family Weekend...

After slamming down massive amounts of meds last week, this weekend found me feeling pretty good.  We were supposed to go camping with our cub and boys scouts, but as the weekend drew near, we all had a moment of ... well... of "No, I don't wanna!"

Nothing against our scouts, by any means!  But we have had so much on our schedules lately (our fault, I know), that every time we had some time or a spare moment, there was something planned for us.  Soccer game, scout function, something.  We just looked at one another and said "let's do something that we planned instead, rather than do something that was planned for us."

Let me say, just to clarify, that I don't generally condone shirking responsibility (yeah right, I'm a shirker by nature, lol), but this weekend was a much needed shirk. 

The weather was supposed to be gorgeous and it was the last weekend of Oktoberfest in Helen, something that the hubs has always wanted to go to.  

So Saturday morning we got up, grabbed Nanny (my grandmother) and took off.  On the way to Helen, we made a spontaneous detour through Cleveland so Nanny and I could go to Babyland General Hospital...the Cabbage Patch Kid place... 

Nanny and the boys.

The boys were good little troopers and suffered through the tour of the place while Nanny and I oohed and aahed over the dolls. 

After that, we were back on our way to Helen.  I spent many summers hanging out in that town, tubing down the river and just getting to know the shop owners when I was younger.  The Dutch/German design of all the buildings is cool to see and the atmosphere is usually pretty good.  

Unless it's Oktoberfest.

Good grief at the people!  We expected busy, but to be honest it kinda blew our mind.  And the town has gotten much more tourist-y over the last few years.  Many of the handmade candle stores and candy shops have been turned into one of only 50 or so different t-shirt and gift shops.  Even though we were enjoying ourselves, we were disappointed.

After taking a couple of hours to walk through all the shops, we headed over the fest hall where the Oktoberfest festivities were going on.  We sat around and listened to the German bands they had, watched the people dance around in their lederhosen (is that how you spell that?) and drink German beer.   

Well, we watched the majority of the people dance around in their lederhosen with their German beer.  There were a few small groups of people we saw dressed up in their mini-skirts walking around with pitchers of Miller Lite.  Really?  C'mon people!  German beer and lederhosen, and you guys want short skirts and flat, domestic yucky??  *Sigh*

Even with the disappointment in the tourist-y town, we really did have a great day!  The weather stayed beautiful and we really enjoyed not being on a time restraint or having someplace else to be!

They love these photo-op, prop thingies...

The hubs snapped this photo while Bailey was
trying to patiently wait for his lunch.
I absolutely LOVE this shot of my eldest! :)

He's 6, so of course that's really Heineken
and not Nanny's diet coke.
Sunday we had a big day planned as well.  Besides it being Halloween, it was Rockband 3 day for our band!! :D

We headed over to Tracy's place with mucho excitement.  Well, I was mucho excited anyway.  Rockband is my favorite video game! I was raised around music.  I love music.  My dad is a musician and I always wanted to learn to play the guitar.  Unfortunately, I could never "play through" the callouses and the owies on my fingers.  

Then came Guitar Hero and Rockband.  And I discovered I could finally play!  As long as there were colored keys anyway... 

Two Christmas's ago, Tracy's gang got the first Rockband.  Since then, we played as often as we could.  Rockband 2 came out and we were giddy.  The Beatles Rockband made an appearance and we were giddy still.  Now there is Rockband 3 which brings additional instruments into the mix.  We had a keytar!

Hehe... I love saying keytar.  Like git-fiddle.  Just one of those words that makes me go "tee hee."

Anyway, the adults popped in our shiny new game and had a great time for a couple of hours.  We eventually let the 4 boys play, albeit begrudgingly.  

The "next big thing" you say? Quite possibly.
Soon it was time to dress up and hit the streets looking for candy.   

Q dressed as a cool-beard-goggle thingy.
Braeden as a dragon with a leopard paw.
Bailey as a weird zombie/wizard hybrid.
ISO as a bouncing bunny.
Z as a butcher...with serial killer tendencies.

Initially we were really glad that they were going to do trick or treating in town on Sunday, since Sunday was in fact Halloween. That gladness went away slightly when we found out that because it was Sunday, it was starting at 4pm.  Yeah...doesn't sound like ideal light settings for a goulish evening, does it?

After about an hour and maybe a dozen houses that were actually handing out candy, we all gave in to our hunger and headed to the pizza buffet in town.  Buffets, of any type, can be hit or miss. Sometimes there's not enough selection, sometimes it's gotten cold.  But I love them when the restaurant is packed and busy. There's always plenty of hot and fresh on the buffet!

I think they enjoyed it!
No one seemed too bothered by the lack of "treating" so after dinner we headed back to Tracy's for more Rockband fun. 

Normally, our band consists of Scott on vocals, Tracy on drums, T on guitar/bass and myself on guitar/bass.  With the addition of the keyboard, we even got Walter and P in on the fun that night!  There are some great songs on the new game and we all really had a good time and are very much looking forward to our next jam session! :)

Walter got a 95% on the keyboard.
Tracy got a 99% on drums at the hard difficulty.
Scott got 99% on vocals on hard - but he always does great...
And see that...that 100% on expert?  That's me baby!  What did I tell you?  I really am the next Jimi Hendrix! ;)

(We don't have to acknowledge that those scores were achieved on what is quite possibly the easiest song EVAR, m'kay?)

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better weekend with my family and friends!  I hope all of you enjoyed your Halloween weekend as well!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taking Steroids...

Yeah, no.  Not those kinds of steroids.

I've been sick this week.  I'm a whiner, so many of you may think "yeah what else is new?"  But I actually went to the doctor I was so sick.  That I don't normally do.  The diagnosis?  A massive sinus infection.

Awesome news, no?  So I was given a steroid shot and sent home with antibiotics and even more steroids to take over the next week.

What have I learned this week because of that?  Steroids make you pee.  A lot.  And apparently, they can make you just a teensy bit emotionally unstable-ish. But just a bit.

Fortunately, medicinal side effects aside, I'm on the mend.

So while I was learning something new this week, did the boys?


Sucks to admit, but no.

They played a lot of learning games for kids online.  I think they may have even logged into their normal curriculum a few days this week, lol.  The eldest spent a little bit of time on a homeschool literature site, trying to find more books written by homeschool authors (he still loves the fact that Eragon was written by a homeschooler!).

Tomorrow starts a new week.  Hopefully the sicklies have come and gone and we can have a good, normal (har har) week.  At the end of the week we have a science fair with our homeschool group, a very special first birthday party to attend and finally, our last end-of-season soccer party.

Oh...and also...can I just ask:  How is it November already???!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guest Post: Where Are the Books About Homeschoolers

Hey Guys! I've never done a guest post before, but my friend Kerry (also a fabulous homeschooling mom!) really had something great to say and I wanted her to share it here....

Where Are the Books About Homeschoolers?

by Kerry Jones
When I was growing up I knew maybe two people who were homeschoolers.  When we first started homeschooling ten years ago, there was already a homeschool support group in our local area with 200 families in it.  Today? There are at least five local homeschool support groups, and if I throw a rock in any direction from my house, I can probably hit the house of someone who homeschools.  It is estimated that homeschooling is growing anywhere from 5-12% annually, and is now bordering on being considered a “mainstream” style of education.  

When my sons and I head to our local library during the school day, it isn’t unusual to see at least four or five other homeschooled kids reading and doing school work or research there.  As I watch them poring over the books, I begin to feel a question forming in the back of my mind: Where are the books about homeschoolers?   Upon researching the answer to this question, I’m sad to report that the world of books has not nearly caught up with the reality of the growing world of homeschooling.

If you peruse just one shelf of your local library or bookstore’s children’s fiction section, you will find multiple books about school hi-jinks, school frustrations, school humor, and even school science fiction.  But almost nothing about the adventures of your friendly, neighborhood homeschooler!  

Why is that??

I don’t know how often you attend your local homeschool support group activities, but if you frequent them even a little you can probably agree with me that homeschoolers are interesting folks.  In one single field trip, I can be picking pumpkins between a Rastafarian who raises Shetland ponies and a former missionary from Kenya.  No, the lack of homeschool protagonists can’t possibly be from a lack of fascinating characters.

So what then? No talented writers among the homeschooled? Pshaw, I say!  I don’t have to read very far into any newspaper to find some mention of an academic contest with a homeschooler as the victor.  My guess is that some of our most talented writers of the next generation will have gotten most of their writing education at home.

That leaves me with a couple possible scenarios, then, for why more books aren’t written about homeschoolers and homeschooling.  Either book publishers are rejecting homeschool-friendly submissions or homeschoolers aren’t making enough noise about wanting them.  My guess is that it is a little of both.  If homeschoolers don’t let publishers know that they are interested in more books that represent them, then publishers will just assume there is no real market for homeschool-centric reading material.

If that is the case, then there ought to be an easy fix for it, right?? We just need to make ourselves heard!  And thankfully, there is even a remarkably easy way to do just that., a website featuring books about homeschoolers and homeschooled authors, has a whole page of contact links for the most popular publishers of children’s books. They even have a sample letter that you can use as a guideline when contacting each publisher.

My children and yours deserve to have more books with characters they can relate to on a real basis.  Let’s make our voice heard so that no more people have to walk through the aisles of their local library and ask the question, “Where are the books about homeschoolers?”

Kerry Jones is a freelance writer and online marketing consultant in North Carolina.  She has two sons, and has been homeschooling since 1999.  She writes extensively about homeschooling and technology, especially the integration of assisted technology for homeschoolers with special needs.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just stuff...

Yesterday Braeden had his end of the year soccer party.  He had a good time eating pizza and cake with his teammates, and getting his trophy.  He loves trophies, lol... but I guess everyone does. :) While Braeden is sad that this season is over, Walter and I are giddy.  Sure, we love watching him play.  But it's nice to know that our schedules are winding down.

Bailey's last regular season game was yesterday as well, but his age group has a championship tournament at the end of the season and their first elimination game is Tuesday.  Depending on how that goes, we may have another week or so of soccer, but after that we are through until Spring!

School is still going well. We are in the process of kinda restructuring our day...not really sure how things are going to pan out, but hopefully we will all get settled into a better routine.  We have a very relaxed approach to homeschooling (meaning we don't replicate "school at home" with desks and set times for starting and finishing, etc).  That has been working really well for us.  It's not not working anymore, we are just seeing areas where I think the boys, especially the oldest, are taking the "relaxed" thing a little too seriously, lol.

Our curriculum for homeschooling is still suiting us; I don't see that changing for a while.  But we are adding some workbooks this year for the first time in several years.  They are more just for reiteration and practice, but it's changing up their routine of sitting in front of the computer for the majority of the day.  In addition to the workbooks, we are adding book reports for Bailey.  I know, we probably should have done this sooner.  But better late than never I suppose.  Since he is reading longer books now, we are going to make him do 2 shorter book reports on each book.  One for the first half and then one for the second half.  Don't know if that will work, but we will see. I'm also not sure how many book reports we are going to require him to do this year.  I would like him to enjoy reading and telling us about what he's read, rather than read because he HAS to...

With the addition of the book reports, we are realizing that we haven't really expected a lot from Bailey as far as writing projects go.  We are considering adding some writing classes to his schedule.  There is an expense involved for those writing classes (albeit not a large one), so we are going to see when we can make that work.  We may have to wait until after Christmas and I start the tax thing (that extra money is always handy), but I feel pretty confident that those will happen before the end of his school year.

That's about it for now.  Even with the soccer seasons coming to a close, we have a full schedule.  Scouts will gladly fill up any holes that soccer left behind, lol.  Oh...and this week I have jury duty!  I didn't even try to get out of it!  The mature responsible adult in me (yeah, she doesn't make an appearance very often at all) wants to see if they pick me and see what kind of case I get assigned to. The other, much more prevalent adolescent in me, wants to see what kind of ridiculous answers I can come up with to all those questions they are going to ask me. :D

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I am so glad that cooler temperatures are moving in, but man...the fall season really does kick my butt.  We have had a few weeks where we had a soccer obligation (be it a game or a practice) four nights a week!  Then of course with the cooler weather comes the sniffles and colds.  We all have been congested for a good month now, lol.

As far as school is going, we are doing alright.  Not making as much progress as usual, but we really had a couple of big breaks for Dragon*Con and for the Connecticut trip.  

Braeden is doing well.  He's being Braeden, which means he doesn't want to write anything because he can just type it or more importantly, just tell me things.  But he is doing a little better.  I am trying to find a good handwriting program, workbook, lesson, etc.  One that is solid, but fun so it will hold his interest.  Just practicing letters over and over isn't cutting it... 

Bailey is also doing well.  Science, Social Studies and Art are still his favorite subjects.  Not a shocker. One of the areas that we both were struggling with a couple of months ago was contractions.  I was having a hard time trying to teach contractions (it's one of those things that once you learn, you never really think about again and take for granted), which made it hard for Bailey to pick on them.  

Fortunately, the concept has gotten easier for him.  He's doing much better with forming the contractions correctly (do not is don't, have not is haven't, etc).  One area we need to work on is using the correct contraction.  Unfortunately, and I know I'm going to sound horrible here, but our location isn't helping with that.  I can't tell you how many people around here, ADULTS - not just kids, say things like "He don't want to go."  Grrr.   

Finding things like contraction games is good because when we practice with them, it's not a repeatedly writing or saying the word type of thing.  I'm hoping that I can keep that "game" momentum going and I will able to find other games to help with other concepts when the time comes.

So, like I said...progress is going well.  Soccer season will be done in a couple of weeks and we will have a few weeks without as many distractions.  Hopefully...  :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Connecticut Trip: Part Two - POPEY'S

The 4 boys, sitting outside Popey's.
Popey's is an ice cream shoppe and restaurant that Tracy's aunt and uncle have owned for several decades (If I'm not mistaken). It's actually named after Tracy's grandfather; they called him Popey.

We have been hearing about Popey's ice cream for as long as we've known the B's.  I can't tell you how many times we sat down with a Blizzard or ice cream treat from somewhere and the B boys said how much they wished they were eating Popey's instead. Honestly, I thought DQ was pretty darn good when it came to ice cream.  I didn't doubt that Popey's had good ice cream necessarily. I just thought maybe their deep and abiding love for it was more of a family loyalty thing. :)

We got to CT on a Monday afternoon and Popey's is closed on Mondays, so we had to wait until the next day for the B's to have Popey's again and for us to have it for the first time.  Tuesday morning, that was the first place we went.  We had some shopping and running around to do, but we stopped there first.

They have some good hard ice cream, but what we all really wanted was the soft serve.  They had vanilla, chocolate and swirl. Along with that, they had a wall of toppings.  Yes, a WALL of toppings you could put on your ice cream.  If you wanted it, they had it. Fudge and caramel sauces, candy, candy bars, cookies, was all there.

To make it even more special, each of the boys got to make their own little masterpieces.

Braeden at the machine with Nana (Tracy's mom).
You think he likes it? ;)
Ok, I have to stop for a minute here and tell you about the cherries. I'm crazy.  But it's alright.  My neuroses (all of them) are accepted and mostly tolerated by my loved ones.  Some of my neurotic tendencies have manifested in each of the boys, but with my little munchkin here, they seem to be cuter and more funny.  We had Popey's several times over the course of our stay in CT.  Every time, Braeden wanted cherries on top. Didn't matter what flavor he had, or what other toppings he had, he wanted cherries.  The funny thing? It had to be 4 cherries.  Not 3 cherries.  Not even 5 cherries. But FOUR cherries. And for the sake of all that you hold holy and sacred, you best not put your digits on one of those 4 cherries, as Tracy can attest after she thought he would willingly split a cherry (not even a whole damn cherry...just half of one!) with one of the other boys so they could taste it.

So that's a glimpse into one of my wee ones neuroses.  Back to the rest of the Popey's visit, lol...

Bailey taking his turn at the machine with Nana.
His first glimpse at the Wall O' Topping-ey Goodness. Hehe.
Bailey had a hard time choosing which topping to put on, and after much thought and permission from Nana, he decided on a couple, or 5, different toppings.  That's the way it went for the remainder of the visit.  Never choosing just one...

Q was hiding from the limelight this go around, but Z had a turn at the machine, then so did I.

Z, an old pro at this by now. :)

My favorite mix? Hot fudge, caramel and Oreo pieces. :D
So after all these years hearing of everyone talk about Popey's ice cream, what did I think of my first taste? Best ice cream EVAR.  If I were an ice cream god, Popey's would be my Holy Land.  Or at least my happy place.  ;)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Favorite Subjects

You know those kids that say they don't have a favorite subject; that they they like all of the subjects in school?

My boys are not those kids.

They both understand the importance of language arts, literature, grammar, etc.  They enjoy reading, or in Braeden's case right now, being read to.  Bailey doesn't like math at all most days.  Braeden doesn't really have an opinion about math yet...he's still in the "everything you can add and subtract is counted on your hands" phase of math.  His stance might change once he progresses past his 10 little fingers.

History and social studies are areas that Bailey is showing a real interest in.  Fortunately, the hubs is like a walking history book, especially with certain eras.  He can pop off with some of the most obscure tidbits of information and knowledge.  It's impressive.  Especially impressive considering my retention is limited to what gadget is going to hit the market next, where the best shoe sale is going on and what's coming up next on Glee. Learning about specific people, like Ben Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell, appeals to the boys.  But that's no surprise given the fact that we are all gadget junkies.  :)

If asked their favorite subject, I know that both of the boys would say science.  Well, Braeden would probably first ask if Wii was a subject.  But once that's cleared up, he'd say science, lol.  We all love doing fun experiments, some we even do repeatedly.  Like the Diet Coke and Mentos one...that one doesn't ever get old.  Some of our favorite things to watch on TV are the shows "How It's Made" and "Mythbusters."  (Let's not forget that super cool moment where they met Adam Savage this year!)

Do I wish that my kids professed a deep love for all things school?  Nah.  I'm good with who they are and what they like.  Walter hated most aspects of school, but still did well.  Me?  Well, my favorite things about school were the after school activities.  Unless I had a cute teacher.  Then that was my favorite subject for as long as I had him.  :D

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Connecticut Trip: Part One

See?  I told you I would get around to this eventually.

We really had an amazing trip up north.  The boys and I enjoyed meeting Tracy's family, and we really enjoyed seeing a part of the country we had never seen before!  The drive up was good, surprisingly so, considering we left at almost 10pm and drove through the night, lol.

When we arrived, we were so excited to see everyone.  Even though I'm from the south, I don't really like the heat. Sure, summer activities are always fun.  But I absolutely love it when the weather starts to cool off.  You can imagine how pleased I was to leave the 90 degree weather here, and arrive there where we actually needed our hoodies that evening!  

While we couldn't wait to see family members we hadn't seen in a while, and finally meet family members we had heard so much about, there were 2 people we were especially happy to meet and to see.  The boys and I were very happy to finally meet Grammie, Tracy's grandmother.  She has graciously allowed my family to spend our last 2 vacations with Tracy's family in her Florida home!  The other little being that we were all very much looking forward to seeing was Tracy's niece, Kaylee. We don't get to see this little cutie often, but when we do, we love it. She is so full of personality and spirit!

Grammie and Kaylee

That Monday evening was pretty laid back.  We unloaded all of our stuff and just hung out on Grammie's deck. Family and visitors kinda came and went throughout the afternoon and evening. We had pizza for dinner, and lemme tell you, it was some of THE best pizza I have ever had!  Tracy said that it was like authentic NY pizza.  I don't know what authentic NY pizza is, but I can tell you how hard it is to eat Pizza Hut or Papa John's after that.

I told you I have to do it in parts, and that's about it for part one.  Next up?  POPEY'S.  Yes, Popey's warrants it's own post.

Here a few pics from our relaxing night on the deck...

Nomming on her first piece of pizza. :)

Tracy's dad and his sister.

Tracy's uncle.

Tracy's little brother and sister-in-law.
I LOVE these 2 people! :)

She had on the cutest little monkey slippers. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting the boys to read...

I know, I'm a slacker.  I still need to post pics from our Connecticut trip.  I am going to do that.  Really.  REALLY. I still have to sort through the almost 1,000 (no that's not an exaggeration!) pics that my favorite photog snapped during our trip.  I will be starting to post them this week.  I'm sure there will be several posts, so I can touch on everything that we did. :)

And now for something completely different... (the hubs is going to be SO proud I used a Monty Python reference, hehe)

I am an avid reader.  I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't reading.  Sure, genre preferences have changed, but I have always loved to read.  I can lose myself in a good book.  I transform the words from the pages into vivid, full color images in my head.  I don't just flip the pages and make it through the story.  I read and experience every word.

Walter is the same way.  He has always read.  When we met, I  knew this was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.  There were two reasons for that emphatic knowledge.  The first was the fact we both considered macaroni and cheese a life necessity.  The second was the fact that the two of us could be completely enthralled in two different books, but as long as we were in the same room together, we thought we were having quality time with one another.

When Bailey came along, we both naively thought that our kids were going to be natural readers.  How could they not be, right?  We bought him all of the soft baby books.  As he got a little older, we progressed onto the harder, thicker baby books.  I'm sure you can imagine how we felt when we watched him with those books, hoping he was going to adore them as we do ours.  Now I'm sure you can imagine how we felt when we watched him eat them instead.   Over the years, it didn't get any better.  Sure, he stopped eating them.  But he never got to the point where he wanted to read.  He read the books in the preschool that they read.  He read the books in Kindergarten that the teacher told him to read.  But there was never any real desire to read.

After a little more than a year of homeschooling, I finally discovered that it wasn't the reading that didn't interest him.  It was what he was reading.  Me going to the library and picking out books on a grade appropriate reading sucked.  Bailey didn't really care.  He would rather watch something, than read about it.  This finally started to change when he watched the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe."  He LOVED that movie.  When his daddy told him it was based on a series of books, he was very excited.  That was probably the first time he held any interest in reading about anything.

He hasn't finished that series yet.  He started a little too young I think.  But the book bug had finally burrowed in. He has since read the entire Captain Underpants series, read several of the Magic Tree House  books and is thoroughly enjoying his foray into the world of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and that series.  I was introduced to a great website that I hope will help me find things that interest him enough to read about them. Homeschool Literature is a website that has books about homeschoolers and homeschooling, but it also has books written by homeschoolers!  Bailey loved the movie "Eragon" and is going to read the book when he's done with the Percy Jackson books.  I wish you could have seen his face when I told him that the author, Christopher Paolini, was not only homeschooled but wrote the first draft of the book when he was only 15!

Braeden is in the process of learning to read.  He's doing ok.  Not reading as much or as quickly as I would like. But you know what?  I didn't think Bailey was ever going to pick up a book on purpose.  I'm trying to give Braeden some time and not put any great expectations on him right now.  I'm sure that once he finds his groove, and finds a topic or storyline that interests him, he will finally pick up a book too.  And pick it up to read it, rather than pick it up to use as a weapon against his brother. ;)