Friday, September 24, 2010

Building Vocabulary

The words that one uses to express themselves can say so much about who they are.  Sure, we have our little southern colloquialisms.  So do our northern friends, lol.  But when and how we use those cute phrases and slang words is important. Laughing with friends and saying something with the specific intent to make someone laugh is one thing.  If you are trying your best to have an intelligent conversation with someone and they end up looking at you with crossed eyes and a blank expression...well, that could be a problem.

Having said that, I'm sure you've gathered that having a good, strong vocabulary is important to me.  And since I am the homeschool teacher (I love saying that.  Really.  Never gets old.), the importance of vocabulary is something that we work on a lot here.  We are constantly correcting the boys, helping them to understand why we want them to change what they said and/or how they said it.  Yes, we have found that we need to occasionally practice the "Do as I say, not as I do" theory, but I try to catch myself, to make sure I'm setting a good example.

Outside of their normal curriculum, strong spelling lists and vocab skill building games are some of the things that we use to help with the boys vocabulary.  Sure we struggle sometimes.  That's life.  I'd be worried if everything went perfectly all the time.  Seeing how I just asked my 6 year old if he wanted something to drink and his response to me was "no, thank you, not this instant," I think we're doing alright. ;)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Geography on the Road!!

We are in beautiful Connecticut this week and enjoying every bit of the fun and meeting all of Tracy's family!  We left GA about 10pm on Sunday evening.  We were packed and ready to go, and everyone was so excited we decided to go ahead and leave since we weren't going to get any of the boys to sleep anyway, lol. 

The boys got a few decent hours of sleep.  Tracy drove all but the last half hour of the 16 hour trip!  I didn't really get sleep, but a got a 30 minute nap and a 15 nap.  Even so, it was a surprisingly good drive.  I can definitely see us doing another night's cooler, but it also prevents "cabin fever" from setting in too bad with the everyone crammed in the van.

On the drive up we went through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and finally Connecticut. For a family that has never been farther north than NC, it was a fabulous drive.  The boys were so excited to go through New York!!  We didn't go through the city, but we did cross the Tappan Zee bridge, and we could just barely make out the NYC skyline from the bridge!  Tracy picked up little travel journals for all 4 boys, and they can write down what they like about every state.  Even though we drove through the night, we are hopefully splitting the drive back into 2 days so they can take more in as we go through each state.

The weather here is amazing.  It's crisp and cool in the morning and evenings and not overly hot during the day.  Even though I'm from the south, I am most definitely a cool weather gal.  Bringing out my hoodie for the first time this season was worth the 900 mile drive! :D

The boy's just had their official back to school last week.  Coming off of DragonCon, and getting ready for this trip, they understandably haven't  gotten too much done yet this year.  We thought about making them do their T4L here (Tracy's boys use the same core curriculum as we do), but ultimately we decided that we weren't going to force it this week.  T4L is a great program for traveling, but their heads just wouldn't be in it.  I'd rather them get home, get some rest for a day, then get started and be able to be fully focused.  I can check out the online lesson plans when we get back and I can judge from there if they need to double up for a few days, or if they can just work through a couple of "personal days" we plan throughout the year. :)

There is a lot going on here, and MANY photos have been taken.  I will do another post when we return with photos and stories of our week.

Really missing the hubs and the rest of the family, but I am very thankful for having the opportunity to make this trip.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, September 10, 2010

DragonCon 2010!!

You didn't really think I would forget to tell you about my 5 days of Geek togetherness and joy, did you?

What a freaking weekend!!!!!  We had a wonderful DC this year.  There was a teensy bit of drama, but there was far more love going on!

We arrived Thursday to help set up the store with the boss lady.  It was awesome to get checked in early and see everyone as they arrived.  The excitement just pours off everyone and it's difficult NOT to get wound up in that. The store has always been a great place to be on staff. You get to see most of the con goers at one point or another over the weekend and we have a really good location for "people watching" on the Marquis level of the Marriott.

The boys had fabulous costumes this year!  Thanks to Nana who HANDMADE all of them but Braeden's. They got a good bit of attention and photo requests when they suited up.
From left to right:
Q as David Tennant (Doctor Who #10), Braeden as Matt Smith (Doctor Who #11),
Bailey as Gandalf the Grey and Z as a LOTRO Loremaster.

Tracy and I were working and didn't get to the parade this year, but Walter and Scott took the boys and they said it was really good...even longer and with more participants than normal.  There were quite a bit of photos from the parade, but I posted several of them on my Facebook page, so you can check them out there.

I have had my fair share of fangirl moments over the last couple of years... Got to have a little cuddle with Nathan Fillion (of Castle, Buffy, Firefly, Serenity, etc) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, etc) one year.  Got to meet Sherrilyn Kenyon (one of my favorite, favorite authors...penned the Dark-Hunter series and more) and Charlaine Harris (hel-lo...the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood novels...) one year.  And my biggest squee moment was last year when I got to meet James Marsters (from Torchwood and more importantly, Spike from Buffy, lol).

But all my fan moments added up to NUFFIN compared to this year's fan moment...and I wasn't even a part of it!

You've heard me mention Mythbusters before.  My boys, as well as the B boys, LOVE Mythbusters.  Hell,  one could even say that the science portion of our learnin' revolves around the Mythbusters and their experiments.  :) We sat at the store and watched people sit/stand in line for HOURS, waiting to see Adam and get his autograph. Because the store was short on staff and it was so crazy-busy, we knew we weren't going to be able to get a chance to get in line. We went about our afternoon, but we got a little break later and went to the Art room.

When we got back to the store, Scott gets a phone call from Tracy telling him to get the boys and get them to the room where Adam was.  Walter and Scott run the boys over while I go back to the store.  They get back a little while later and this is what I see:

Yep, that's Adam Savage from Mythbusters!
Yep, that's our boys with Adam Savage from Mythbusters!!!
This shot is what makes this THE best fanboy moment!
It was after QDB had met him and gotten his autograph.
This was as he was saying goodbye...and his emotions
got the better of him.  Awesome!!

Tracy, as Tracy does, decided on our way back from the art show, to pop her head in the room and see if he was still there.  As it turns out, he was, but he was getting ready to leave.  Tracy told him about our boys and asked if he could wait 5 minutes so they could come in and say hi.  He graciously agreed and this is when we got the phone call.  Everyone was so excited, they didn't even have anything for him to sign, lol.  Luck was with them and a nice lady had a deck of cards in her bag.  She took out some and he signed a playing card for each boy.  Such a cool experience! :)

There were also a few not-quite-fangirl moments that we don't have documented with photos.

First, on Friday, I stepped out of the store to see Sherrilyn Kenyon (I did mention that she is one of my favs, didn't ??!) watching our boys play in the hallway while she was waiting to get into a back room.  I was so surprised to see her there, that I walked right by without even saying anything!

Next, Tracy and I walk out of the store to see Edward James Olmos (you would know his face if you see him, even if you didn't know is name) asking Mark directions.  Of which, Mark didn't know how to find. But that's beside the point.  :D

Then, there was Saturday night.  We were waiting on an elevator...

Hold on...let me explain the elevators...

There are 12 elevators at the Marriott.  Even so, there could be anywhere from a 5 minute to 30 minute wait to actually be able to get ON one of those elevators.  Understandably, with 40,000 plus people, there's a lot of elevator traveling going on.  When the doors open, you fight and push your way onto the elevator, hoping that the alarm won't go off because there are 26 people in there and you're the one closest to the door which means you're booted if the alarm rings.

Ok...back to the story... Tracy and I were waiting on an elevator when the door to the one near us opens.  We were trying to bolt our way on, and almost collided with Mark A. Sheppard (he played Badger in Firefly, Crowley in Supernatural, Sterling in Leverage, among many other roles)!  I was, again and very unusual for a talker like myself, speechless.  As he rounded the corner, I finally squeaked to Tracy that that was Sterling, but it was too late for her to snap a photo of him.  Side note about him... I was pleasantly taken aback with how pretty he was in his jeans. :D

Finally, there was the ride down on Monday with all of the luggage.  This was met with much trepidation.  I mean, it's bad enough trying to squeeze in one of those things by yourself, much less with 2 huge duffles.  When an elevator finally opened, we hopped on.  It was going up, not down, but if there's one thing you learn at DragonCon, it's you get your ass on an elevator WHENEVER you can, doesn't matter what direction it's going.  We were on the 23 floor and we stopped at every floor until we got to the 29th floor.  There, we picked up a guy who was wearing some God-awful cowboy boots, but who was extremely kind and chatty.  He also looked crazy familiar.  I recognized his face right away, but didn't want to blurt out "omg you're famous!" on an elevator full of people.  So I stood there and stared at him trying to remember what his name was. I'm sure that made him much more comfortable than me just coming out and asking him. *said sarcastically*  We stopped at EVERY floor on the way back down to the lobby and I still couldn't remember his name.  We get back to the store and I'm telling the guys about the famous dude in the elevator.  Told Scott I thought he was in the old "V" miniseries from the 80's and he figured it out it was Marc Singer, who also played The Beastmaster.

There was a lot of laughing, giggling and gasping throughout the weekend,  a lot of picture taking and people watching, but those were our "moments" this year.  Like I said, it was great time.  Before we could even leave downtown Atlanta on Monday, we were already looking forward to next year. Walter and Scott decided this year that they wanted to take next year off from staff and just be "con goers" for once and they are both excited about that. Tracy and I may also see some changes coming our way...but we will have to see. Doesn't really matter what we do, as long as our group is together and in Atlanta somewhere on Labor Day weekend, then all is right with the 'verse.

If you want to see more photos from DC 2010, check out my Facebook album.  :)

Back to School

So we "officially" started school this week.  Strangely enough, I wasn't met with whining or fighting about it.  I certainly can't say they were THRILLED with it.  Maybe they were just defeated, but I'll accept defeated, lol.

Other than the grade level change, I see no big changes for us this year.  No plans to change curriculum or do things differently.  Of course, I may take that back at some point throughout the year.  But that's one of the benefits of having no real plan...there's no room for disappointment if I have to change something up.

It took a long time for me to be comfortable with telling others that I had no real plan for our school year.  In years past, I used to feel so much shame when I talked about our homeschooling.  I would be surrounded by Christian homeschooling families and would be terrified to admit that, while I am a Christian, I was looking more for a secular homeschooling curriculum.  Not because I didn't want religion in our school day, but because I wanted to control when and where that religious study took place.  I didn't want my curriculum to do it for me.

Besides the religious or secular debate, there was a lot of talk about "homeschooling methods."  Wha huh? Method?  Did waking up anxious, drinking a pot of coffee, crying with my child all day, then crying more when my husband got home from work because we had basically accomplished nothing, count as a method?  If so, then I got my PhD in that particular method.

I eventually had a moment of clarity one day.  I can't really explain what happened or why.  But I remember deciding that I no longer NEEDED to be like the other homeschooling moms.  Yes, they were fabulous.  They woke up before dawn, cooked a 3 course breakfast then proceeded with 8 hours of school instruction.  But my family was fine with who I was.  My kids were fine with waking up about 9 most mornings and they were totally into munching pop tarts, granola bars or *ahem*...chips and salsa...for breakfast because mommy was too busy slurping coffee to open the gallon of milk for cereal.

I decided that choosing a secular curriculum didn't make me look like the spawn of Satan.  I even found other spiritual families who made the same decision I did!  And the method thing went right out the window when I discovered that eclectic homeschooling was a "method."  Eclectic homeschooling is basically taking several different curricula, or pieces and parts of different curricula, and using what works best for your child.  To me, it's also about arranging your school schedule to suit your family's needs, rather than trying to fit into the predetermined mold of another schedule.

There stopped being this incessant desire to make sure everyone thought that I was homeschooling the right way.

Why am I saying all of this?  Mostly because I talk a lot and have always been more of the "epic novel" type rather than the "cliff notes" type.  But also because, sometimes, things just need to be thrown out into the universe. Saying, out loud, that there doesn't have to be a wrong way or a right way to homeschool your kids is one of those things.

Every parent wants what is best for their kids.  Homeschooling is no different.  Find your own path.  Find what works for your family.  You don't have to do what other families are doing.  After all, didn't your parents always ask "if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"  ;)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Upcomings and Fun Stuffs ...

Bailey found out which soccer team he's going to be on for this season and he's very excited!  The coach that picked him at the drafts called last night and told us he's been wanting to draft Bailey for a few seasons now and how excited he was to finally get to work with Bailey!  That made Boo feel so good about himself!!  We are still waiting to find out what team Braeden will be on...his age group is so young that they don't do drafts.  So once all the kids have been assigned a coach, we should hear something.

This week is a "short" week for us, school AND work wise.  We are leaving tomorrow for our annual Dragon*Con convention in Atlanta.  Four days of heathens, dorks and geeks.  So naturally, we fit right in.

This will be our 4th year at the Con and EVERY year as we get ready to go, it feels like the first time.  The boys are beyond ready for it to be here and even Walter and myself are giddy! And those of you that know the hubs, you know he doesn't DO giddy often. :D

The boys haven't really done any school work this week, but I don't expect them to.  Way too much excitement!  I do try to fit in a little education here and there...something that they can do independently so I can get stuff done. Bailey can work on some of the online spelling lists I found for him.  My son is SO smart.  No, I'm not just saying that cause he's mine, lol.  But the areas where he can ALWAYS use a little extra work are in spelling and handwriting.  Fortunately the lists I use work for both needs.  As for Braeden, he doesn't do quite as much independently as his brother, and that's ok.  I occupy him with games and stuff, like math games, phonics games, rhyming word games, etc.  He plays them and doesn't even know he's learning.  Which is a plus when it comes to my stubborn (I don't know where he gets that from, wink wink nudge nudge) son.

So now I need to go pack.  That makes me growly. Why? Cause I hate packing.  For anything.  Even when I'm excited for something, I hate packing.  This is another reason why I think I need a house boy.  Preferably one that's pretty and has a nice accent. ;)

I'm going to leave you with a few pics from Cons past.  I know we are going to have a fabulous weekend, and I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend your with your families, friends and loved ones!

B's and Shulers.  Shulers were Con Virgins! :)
Aaaarrrrr!  This was our band of degenerate pirates.
Tracy's mom made ALL of those costumes for us that year!

The boys with a zombie MJ.  Yeah, yeah I know he died.
But this is still funny.  :o)