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. ;)