Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Well, that was an interesting diversion...

How many of you have been taking bets on when I would decide to quit K12?

If you guessed December 8th, you win. Wait, it may have been the 7th. Ok, if you guessed the 7th or the 8th, you win. I'm not sure what you win. Maybe just the satisfaction of knowing me better than I know myself.

I was sitting at the table trying to help Sierra with history and she couldn't figure out the answers to some of the questions and I skimmed the book and couldn't find the answers. And I just thought, this is ridiculous. I can't discuss this stuff with her because I don't have time to read what she has read. And I don't have time to read it because I am spending 4 hours in the car every week and because my kids are going in 3 different directions and I am having to divide my time trying to teach them all separately.

Even though I liked many aspects of K12, I knew at that moment that it was time to be done, that we could take what we had learned from K12 and use it to create our own plan.

I decided to continue doing the K12 work until the 18th, so the girls could all get to good stopping points. Then I spent several hours last week working on a new plan. I imagine I will spend some time over break tweaking the plan a bit and then start fresh in January.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A week in the life of me - weekend

I am just going to pretend that I meant to make this last edition a weekend addition and just ignore the fact that I ran out of time to post yesterday.

I woke up Saturday around 8. It is really strange to have gotten to a point in my life where getting up at 8 feels like sleeping in... I jumped in the shower right away because we were planning to go into town to the Aloha Stadium swap meet to do some Christmas shopping. Rand had gotten up early to go check out the big waves on the the North Shore and I wanted to be almost ready to go by the time he got back, so that he wouldn't lay down on the couch and lose motivation to go.

We headed out the door about 10. We drove the 45 minutes down to the stadium listening to the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album. We got to the stadium only to discover that the swap meet was not going on - Ugh! It recently discovered that it costs $15 ever time we drive into town! I wanted to make it worth our while, so I suggested that we stop at Target and get a few things.

I know I was just at Target earlier in the week, but I had forgotten to look for some things. Sometimes it is really difficult to live so far away from civilization... After Target, we decided to look for a Borders because Rand had just finished reading a book in a series and wanted to get the next one. We looked up Borders on our GPS and found the closest one. Unfortunately, we discovered that it was in a mall. There was no way we were going into a mall this close to Christmas just to get a book. We had the GPS guide us to the next closest one, which I had seen before, so I knew it was NOT in a mall.

Our bad luck of the day continued when we ended up in a huge traffic jam on our way to the other Border's. Rand got his book and finally we headed home. The bad luck was still with us as we hit bad traffic along the North Shore. It was really starting to feel like a wasted day. Then Rand suggested that we look for the beach near Haleiwa where LOST is filmed. Thanks to the GPS and our phones' web capabilities we found it. It was very fun to see all of the sets from the show. And made me feel like the day wasn't a total waste. I am not sure Rand felt that way when it still took us an hour to get home when it normally takes us a half an hour from Haleiwa We decided that driving into town so close to Christmas and taking the North Shore route home when the waves were big was something we never planned to do again.

By the time we go home we had about an hour and a half until our church Christmas party. I had signed up to bring a dessert, so I got to work making peppermint patty brownies. They were barely ready in time.

We had a nice time at the party. It was nice to have time to visit with some of the new people we have met since moving here and fun to see the kids playing with their new friends.

We came home around 8pm. I straightened up the house and did some stuff on the computer. I can't remember what. It wasn't blogging... At 9pm it was time to get the girls in bed and I realized that I had forgotten to have them shower - oops! I sent them off to bed anyway. I did some more straightening up and computer stuff and then watched movie with Rand.

Sunday can be summed up in a few words. Morning - church. Afternoon - lunch, talked to my mom on the phone, nap. Late afternoon - choosing and up loading pics for a Christmas present for my mom, blogging.

Uploading the pics took forever, as usual. Rand and the girls had gone to take a walk on the beach and got back around 6:30. I was still working on the pictures. Dinner needed to be cooked, but I was in the middle of the project. At 7, I finally decided I better get dinner started. I got all set to start cooking when I discovered that the chicken I had plan to make had gone bad - ugh! I had nothing else defrosted, so I made chicken nuggets for the kids. There was one pizza left from the Costco pack, so I Rand and I ate that - ugh and double ugh! The one thing that really suffers from my busy life right now is dinner. I just don't have time for everything. Well, at least dinner clean up was easy.

Bedtime for the girls was a bit rough. Arwen was cranky and their rooms had gotten pretty messy over the weekend, so clean up took a while. They have been doing pretty well cleaning up on their own lately, but every once in a while they need help.

Now that the girls are in bed I am thinking of either coloring my hair or watching TV then it is off to bed to get some sleep, so I can start another week. Thanks for joining me this week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A week in the life of me - Friday

TGIF! This new school program has me really appreciating weekends more. Usually Rand wakes me up around 6:45 on Fridays so we can work out. This morning we stayed in bed until 7:45 instead. As you can tell we are not doing a great job keeping up with the P90X workouts. Between missing Wednesdays and Thursdays when I have to get up early and drive into town for the girls' classes and being so tired from driving into town twice a week, it has been difficult.

I got out of bed and woke up the girls at 8am. I got some laundry started. Then I ate breakfast and checked email and facebook. I attempted to get in the shower, but Sierra had an earring crisis. She hadn't worn earrings in a few days and couldn't get an earring into her right earlobe. Once that crisis was solved, I got in the shower. When I got out, the girls had finished their morning chores. Sierra and Kali were working their school work and Arwen was playing on the computer. Kali needed help with science and Sierra needed help with her literature assessment. By the time I was done helping them, it was 10:30 and I still hadn't done anything with Arwen, yet. I managed to do math, phonics and art with Arwen before lunch. Lunch break included Saddle Club, of course.

We were just getting ready to start back up with school work when a neighbor girl stopped by to see if Sierra, Kali and Arwen wanted to come over and make cookies. I had forgotten that today was Furlough Friday. Right now in Hawaii the kids have 17 Fridays off school as a way to cut costs. Well, I have been trying to help Sierra make friends with this girl for a while, so I wasn't about to say no. I sent the kids off and thought, wow unexpected time alone!

I got all of the girls K12 school work recorded and looked through what we need to do on Monday, so I wouldn't have to think about it over the weekend. Then I started straightening up the house. I turned on an episode to of Desperate Housewives to watch/listen to while I worked. Once the house was in order, I started working on all of the things that needed to get done that had been building up during this busy week. I sent an email, sorted paperwork, request some CD's from the library, changed a light bulb, dusted the fans, balanced the budget, charged the camera battery and caught up on my blog reading.

Rand got home early because his last class was canceled. I chatted with him some and then we watched some TV while I sorted the laundry. He then took a nap and I did some ironing. Then I remembered that I promised Rand that I would make him a new treat, so I made some coconut bars that I had been wanting to try.

Then girls got home at 5pm. I informed them that we wouldn't be doing any school over the weekend as I had originally suggested when I sent them off to make cookies in the middle of our school day. I am try hard not to get caught up in being "behind" with this program. We started out behind since we didn't sign up until the beginning of the 2nd quarter and I have been trying to catch up, but it has really been driving me crazy. I am really trying to just relax and take things day by day.

I worked on this blog post for a while and then some on more of the junk that is piling up - paid some bills, addressed Arwen's birthday thank you notes, started uploading some books on Itunes.

At this point it was after 6pm. Rand woke up from his nap and I pondered out loud about what we should have for dinner. When we first moved to Hawaii, Rand cooked everyday. Then he started teaching and asked if I could cook on Mondays and Wednesdays and I agreed to. A few weeks later Rand seemed to lose his motivation to cook. This is a cycle that we often go through. Rand cooks for a while and then gets bored of cooking. Then I cook for a while and then Rand gets bored of my cooking and then he cooks for a while, etc. But with starting a new homeschool program, I knew it would be too much for me to take over the cooking, so I have been encouraging Rand to continue cooking even though he has not been in the mood lately.

Anyway, by the time we figure out that we would work together to make sweet and sour for dinner, it was very late. We didn't eat until about 8pm. We watched Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and when it was over it was bedtime for the girls. Rand is doing the dishes again. What an awesome idea he had to get me to spend less money! And I am typing this post. We will probably watch some TV and then head to bed.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A week in the life of me - Thursday

Another busy day. Up at 6:15, showered, got the girls up. Well, I got Kali and Arwen up. Rand got Sierra up and took her to his office, so she could do her school work while he taught his morning class. This is the first time we have tried this. Normally I take Sierra with me and she works on her school at the Learning Center. It hasn't been working very well because the Learning Center is noisy sometimes and she has trouble concentrating.

Kali and Arwen and I listened to some School House Rock during our morning drive. I didn't want to start a new book without Sierra. I finally got Arwen into the 1st grade Science and History classes, so she had 3 hour's of classes. Kali had her Hawaiian History class from 9 - 10:15. I took my glorious hour of alone time to go looking for a few more Christmas gifts for the girls. I was unsuccessful. The thing I was looking for was way over priced, so I decided against getting it.

Back at the Learning Center, Kali and I worked on her school work until it was time to pick up Arwen at noon. Then it was time for our monthly trip to Costco. I had been thinking that I would only have to run errands a few times a month during our trips to "town" for the girls' classes, but there has only been one time this whole quarter that we have come straight home. Every week we seem to have shopping needs or dentist appointments or doctor's appointments.

Costco was thrilling as usual. Arwen was pretty cranky. We made a deal that she would stop riding in the cart when she turned 7, so today was our first Costco trip that she had to walk. Getting up early and going to 3 hours of classes before going to Costco did not make for a cooperative kid.

We made it home with only a 10 minute delay while driving past the North Shore surfing competition. I spent most of the time driving home wondering if I be able to take a nap when I got home. Of course as soon as we arrive home we had to unload all of the Costco stuff. I decided that I was only going to put the perishables away and then get that nap I had been thinking about. I was delayed a bit because the maintenance guys had arrived and I had to put in a load of laundry to show them that the washer was leaking. I was so grateful that Rand agree to stay awake while the maintenance men finished working so I could go take a nap.

As I was getting ready to go lay down, Kali got invited to go play with a girl from one of her K12 classes that lives a few blocks away. I decided to let her walk over by herself. Then another neighbor invited Sierra and Arwen over and they walked over together. Finally, I was ready for my power nap. I only laid down for an hour, but it was very refreshing and I really needed it.

When I got up I checked my email and facebook. I am getting very behind on my blog reading during this busy week. Then I recorded the girls' K12 school work for the day and figured out what we need to do tomorrow. Sierra did really well working on her own and with Rand today. Between carpooling and leaving Sierra home on the Thursdays that I drive, so I can have some time to myself, I may survive next quarter without losing my mind.

It started to rain and it was getting dark, so I drove over and picked up Kali. I was planning to pick up Sierra and Arwen, too, but Rand called to let me know that they had already walked home. When I got back I needed to finish looking over the school stuff.

Neither Rand nor I felt up to cooking dinner, so we had frozen pizza. While the pizza was cooking, I worked on putting away the rest of the Costco stuff. By the time the pizza was ready it was 7:15 , so we watching Survivor while eating. After dinner, Rand cleaned up because he made a deal with me that he would do the dishes once for every $25 I went below the budget at Costco and Target this week. I took this time to start working on this post. Now I will finish straightening up the house, get the kids to bed, and watch some TV with Rand before heading off to bed.

A week in the life of me - Wednesday

Today Sierra had classes at the Learning Center. These classes were one of the main reasons we decided to try K12 this year. The classes haven't turned out to be too great though. Half of them have been canceled and the content of some of them hasn't been great. The math class is basically 45 minutes for her math work with the teacher available for help. The history class has been a sub showing a video and a jeopardy game covering stuff that Sierra hasn't learned, yet because we started a quarter late. But she likes the English and Science classes, so...

Anyway, we got up early because it is an hour drive to the Learning Center, 6:15 for me and 7 for the girls. Probably the best thing about going to the Learning Center is the time we get to listen to books in the car. Today we finished up The Lightning Thief. Kali and Arwen and I worked on school work at the Center while Sierra was at her classes. It started out great. The area we were working in was quiet and the girls were getting through their work quickly. After about an hour and a half, it started getting noisy and the girls started losing focus, but we got everything we needed to get done done, so I was happy.

When Sierra was done with her classes we headed to Target. It is the beginning of the month and we needed a bunch of stuff and I had some time to kill before my dentist appointment. I found pretty much everything I needed which rarely happens, so again I was happy.

The dentist appointment went well, two fillings. I was out of there in a hour. On the way home we listen to Joseph and the Amazing in Technicolor Dreamcoat - Go, Go , Go Joseph!

We got home in time for Kali to do a make up violin lesson after she missed yesterday's when she banged up her knee. She only made it through half the lesson though because she got pale and started to pass out - yikes. I figured it must have been because she hadn't eaten enough. It is very difficult to pack a lunch for her because she is so picky. I took her home and made her eat some peanut butter on a spoon.

By then it was time to make dinner. I took a few minutes to check my email and facebook. I am getting very backed up on my blog reading since I have been so busy these last few days. I made dinner and was all set to eat at the table tonight, but the girls wanted to watch A Year Without a Santa Claus, which is one of my favorites, so I caved... again.

After dinner involved kitchen clean up , showers for the girls, and getting ready for another day down at the Learning Center. Sierra is going to stay home with Rand tomorrow, so I made sure she had all of her books gathered. Then I figured out what I needed for Kali and Arwen.

I am not sure how much longer I can handle this schedule. When I first found out about this program I was thinking the classes for all of the grade levels were on the same day and that I would have a little break. I also thought the Center was 45 minutes away instead of an hour. Instead I am driving an hour there and back 2 days a week and I always have aleast one kid with me who needs to do school work. Next quarter I am going to carpool on Thursdays. Hopefully that will help.

Now I am off to pack lunches for tomorrow and watch some Glee before stumbling off to bed.

P.S. I did not end up do plyometrics while watching Biggest Loser yesterday. Instead I ate chocolate that Rand got for us when he went caroling with the youth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A week in the life of me - Tuesday

The alarm went off at 7am. I hit the snooze button a number of times. I was tired from staying up too late last night, something I have a tendency to do when Rand goes to bed early. I have to take advantage of the quiet, alone time when I get it, you know. I actually only stayed up until 12:30, but I am an 8 hours of sleep kind of girl and I get pretty cranky when I don't get it.

I shuffled out of bed, got the laundry started, and did 1/2 of the P90X yoga workout. The full workout is an hour and half for heaven's sake. Who has that kind of time to exercise? Not a homeschooling mom, that's for sure! Then I ate breakfast while doing my morning computer routine - email, facebook, google reader. Eventually I knew I needed to get up and get the day started, but I was lacking motivation. At 9, I told Sierra and Kali to get started with their school work and I got in the shower. When I got out of the shower, they both needed help. Kali with a science experiment and Sierra with history. Eventually, I got started working with Arwen. It must have been about 10am by then. Arwen and I did math, phonics, and language arts. At this point, Kali and Sierra needed my help again, but it was getting to be lunch time, so we took a break. Just before lunch I made some phone calls - renewed library books, called about Rand's student loans, and talked to the housing office about our rent and a maintenance issue...

Rand was home for lunch again, so we got to hang out, which was nice. He was also done with work for the day, so he was able to help with school, which was doubly nice since the most of the rest of the work that all 3 girls had for the day required help. After lunch he worked with Kali and I worked with Arwen. Sierra had an art project to do, so she worked on that.

We didn't get done with school until almost 3 today. Some neighbor girls came over while their mom was running errands shortly there after. They played while I tidied up the house. Normally, I would have made the girls help, but since we had guests, I was on my own. I got everything cleaned up, cleaned the bathrooms that got skipped yesterday, and switched the laundry. Oh, I had to plan out and pack up the school work for Kali and Arwen to do while Sierra is at her classes tomorrow. At this point it was almost time to take Kali to her violin lesson. I am sure I took a few minutes to get on the computer.

Just before violin lesson time, Kali fell on our front porch and really banged up her knee. She was in no condition to stand for a 45 minute lesson, so I ran over to the teacher's house to let her know that Kali wouldn't be coming and to pay her for the month. I then headed over to the library to return some books and get some holds.

I returned just in time for dinner. Rand, who normally cooks on Tuesdays, was asleep. He had to be at a church activity in an hour, so we decided it would be spaghetti night. Dinner and Jeopardy followed. I would rather sit at the table, but I am a sucker for Jeopardy especially now that I can answer some of the questions with all that I have learned from homeschooling ;)

After dinner involved the usual kitchen and bedroom/playroom cleaning. Rand is off at his activity and here I am. I still need to pack lunches for tomorrow and fold all the laundry that I did today. When Rand gets home we will do our plyometric workout while watching Biggest Loser, an improvement over our previous routine of eating really unhealthy food while watching people trying to lose weight.

Hopefully I will get to bed earlier tonight. I have to get up by 6:15 to get Sierra to her classes on time.

A week in the life of me - Monday

I was reading a friend's blog recently and she did a series of post where she chronicled a typical week in her life. I thought it would be fun to do the same. My weeks are not exactly typical these days since we turned our world upside down by enrolling in K12, but this is what it looks like right now.

My husband and I are attempting to do P90X. We have been doing it for about 7 weeks with a few weeks of skipping quite a few workouts. Last week was pretty bad with the holiday... But today we got up at 6:45 and worked out. Then I ate breakfast while checking email and Facebook and Google Reader. After that I showered and reminded the girls to do their morning chores.

I took Arwen to her Monday group at 9am. She and some other first graders that are doing K12 get together every Monday to do Science and History together. The moms take turn teaching. Next week is my turn. Sierra and Kali started working on their school work while I was gone. When I got back I alternated working with them until 11:30 when I needed to go pick up Arwen. When Arwen and I returned I checked off the lessons that Arwen did with the group and then it was lunch time. Rand was home for lunch, so I ate and hung out with him while the girls watched Saddle Club and ate their lunch.

When Saddle Club was over we got back to the school work. We were done by 2pm, which is about the earliest we have gotten done since we started - woo hoo! At first we were trying to catch up and then we added in some Story of the World History because I already had some books from the library from before we started K12 that I wanted to read before they were due back.

Monday is cleaning day, so we did chores after school time. Vacuuming, dusting, sweeping and mopping the floor. I helped Sierra with the sweeping since most of our house is tile, but then I didn't get to my job for this week which is cleaning the bathrooms. By the time we finish cleaning and I go the lunch dishes cleaned up it was about 3:30. I made some phone calls and checked email, facebook, etc. and then headed to the grocery store around 4pm.

I got back from the store about 5:20 and unloaded and started to put away the groceries. Once I got the perishables put away I started working on dinner. Rand grilled burgers and I made guacamole. We watched Jeopardy during dinner. I don't like to watch TV during dinner, but we do some especially when we have something like hamburgers. I knew the answer (question) to Final Jeopardy - "Who is Lady Macbeth?"

After dinner I cleaned up the kitchen and the girl's cleaned up their rooms, wait... I think they cleaned up before dinner, so they must have gone off to play (which means their rooms are probably messy again). At 8pm we made hot chocolate and watched Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.

Then it was time to send the girls off to bed. I finished tidying up the house and looked over tomorrow's school plan. At 10pm, Rand announced that he was heading to bed early. I did the second part of today's P90X workout - Ab Ripper... then got on the computer, remembered that I wanted to do this blog post and here I am. I still need to pay some bills and send a couple of emails. Then I am off to bed to start all over again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

K12: an update

We've been at this K12 thing for 5 weeks and I'm not gonna lie, it's been tough. I spent a lot of days thinking about quitting, wondering when we could quit, wondering what our next plan would be if we did quit. Yet, here I am still planning to continue through Christmas break and probably through the rest of the school year.

And here is why:

When we first started out, it was very overwhelming. Arwen's school is entirely with me. All of Kali's lessons are adult guided, so I at least need to teach her concepts before she can work on her own. And Sierra still needs a lot of help understand what she is supposed to do.

I was overwhelmed and I also felt stuck. Even if we quit K12, I still had to figure out how to make sure all 3 of my kids were being academically challenged. At this point I was thinking that public school may be best choice because while teaching elementary age felt within my ability, teaching a middle schooler AND 2 elementary aged kids was seeming to be almost impossible. But now we live in Hawaii where the schools are horrible, so Rand felt that public school would not be an option. So I felt stuck.

And feeling stuck made me cranky and made me have a bad attitude about K12. I finally came to terms with the fact that right now homeschooling is the best option for my kids and that for this school year K12 is what we should be doing. It is still hard and time consuming, but at least now I have a better attitude.

My plan (at least for this week...) is to keep doing K12 this year and then go back to doing our own thing next year. One good thing about K12 is that it has helped me to see the things we were missing in our homeschool. After doing K12 for a year, I feel like I will be better prepared to create an appropriate curriculum for each of my kids. Also, I think it will be a good experience for my kids to attend the classes (even if they are an hour drive away and take way too much time out of our schedule...). I am hoping to work on getting the most out of using K12 this year and trying not to get stressed out over it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Livin' in Hawaii

OK, enough of the homeschooling stuff. There have been a few moments recently where we haven't been busy figuring out this new way of doing school and we have been using the time to enjoy living in Hawaii.

Thanks to my wonderful hubby we have been going to the beach A LOT. Even when I have been feeling overwhelmed and worn out, he says let's go to the beach. And you know what? It has been a great way to relieve stress!

We have gone boogie boarding at our local beach. (It is a 5 minute drive from our house!)

Played in the sand at Waimea bay

Avoided the blue bubbles after Sierra got stung the first week we were here.

Went snorkeling in Shark's Cove (There are no actual sharks. Legend says that it was given the name to scare people off and keep it from getting crowded)

Eating at the Hukilau Cafe - rumor has it that Jack Johnson frequents this joint.

And taking care of the baby geckos that are living in our house.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Using K12: days 1 and 2

Excited, nervous, and overwhelmed, I began our first day using K12. Because the school year in Hawaii started at the beginning of August we are a quarter behind. I haven't met with my girls' teachers yet to find out what it expected of us, but I am thinking we can just breeze through a bunch of lessons and get caught up in no time. Side note: my kids have teachers for school. How weird is that? Technically they are public school students. I feel like kind of a trader to the homeschool world...

Anyway, the first day was pretty rough. The older girls needed my help figuring out what they were supposed to do. My youngest was pestering us all because we weren't paying any attention to her. Everyone was jealous of my oldest who has her own laptop. I was flipping out because I was already missing the old way we homeschooled. I was quickly realizing that we weren't going to be able to get caught up as quickly as I thought. And did I mention the it has been like a sauna in our house all week?

Day 2 wasn't any better. Oh, there were some good moments like discussing what happened after the Civil War with my oldest and my youngest pulling out her history book and asking, "When can we learn about the Egyptians and the hieroglyphics!" and listening to my youngest narrate the stories she read. But then there was the time that I was trying to read to my youngest and I was interrupted 5 times by my other daughters needing my help. And the fact that I hadn't been able to do anything but school for 2 days in a row and the house was falling apart. And have I mentioned the oppressive heat?

My dear hubby came home for lunch on day 2 and I broke down crying. I had been trying to keep a stiff upper lip while chanting inside, "we only have to do this until December..." But when he asked me how my day was going, I kind of lost it. He talked me off the ledge and we finished the rest of our school day.

Now you might think after all of this that I would be ready to return all of the stuff, quit, and go back to our old way of homeschooling, but actually I am not. My husband has been my rock. He has helped me to see past my emotions and realize that even though this is hard now, it will get easier and that it is helping our kids to learn things that they weren't learning like how to learn independently, how to manage their time, how to study, and take tests. And that, despite what homeschoolers worldwide are chanting, worksheets are not always evil. It is funny that I am struggling with giving up our relaxed homeschooling methods when I am the one who would have sent our kids to school if it weren't for my husband convincing me to homeschool.

My kids have also been amazing through all of this. I believe that part of my fragile emotional state has been due to all of the changes that we have had recently - moving, living in a place so very different from what we are used to, and now changing our homeschool method. But my kids have just soldiered through it all. Oh sure, they have had some whiny moments. OK, a lot of whiny moments, but all in all they have been handling it pretty well.

I am just so proud of my oldest. This change in homeschooling affects her the most. Being a 6th grader she is expected to do a lot more work than her sisters. Both days that we did school, she worked hard without complaining. We both knew it was time for her to move on from the big comfy couch homeschooling, but it has been a harder transition for me than it has been for her. We are both hoping that once we get used to this program we can add back in some comfy couch time.

The jury is still out on whether this program will work for us for the long haul, but for now we keep trying at it. I will keep you posted...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Big Change

No, not menopause. Although it has been super hot here in Hawaii because it is the time of year that the trade winds stop blowing and it has been like I have been having one continual hot flash all week. No, I am talking about the change in how we homeschool that I mentioned last week.

Here is how it came about. A month after we moved, I felt like we were settled in enough to get started with school. I decided that we would start on the following Monday, but on Friday I met a mom who mentioned that she was homeschooling her 6 year old and was using an online program called Hawaii Technology Academy. When I got home, I decided to look into the program. I discovered that it was the K12 charter school program that is available in most states in the US. I had looked into K12 before and decided that I liked planning my own lessons and didn't want that much oversight in how I homeschool. At that point I pretty much disregarded it.

The next day my husband and girls and I went to Polynesian Cultural Center to see the night show and sitting in front of us were the homeschool mom and her husband. We chatted a little about homeschooling and she mentioned that Hawaii Technology Academy offers one day a week classes. When we lived in Colorado my girls went to a one day a week program for homeschoolers. They loved it. I loved it. Hum, I thought, maybe this program would be worth the oversight, so we could take advantage of these classes.

I ended up spending the rest of the week obsessing over it. Should we give this program a try or not.

Getting lots of free stuff. Good.

Having to keep track of every little thing we do each day. Bad.

Having everything planned out. Good... and Bad. (I am getting tired of the planning, but I might miss it)

It will help my older girls become more independent with their school work. Good.

I will miss doing history, science, art, and music with all of the girls together. Bad.

It fills the gaps in areas that we haven't worked on in our homeschool thus far like test taking and studying skills. Good.

The Learning Center classes are an hour's drive away. Bad. Almost a dealbreaker.

It follows the Core Knowledge curriculum (aka What your__ Grader Needs to Know). Good.

And the list goes on. I talked about it all weekend and about drove my husband mad. Will it take too long to finish school each day? Will it be boring? Will there be too many worksheets? Will it be like school at home? Will we be able to take days off without getting "behind"?

Finally we decided to give it a try until December and then see how we are feeling. It was definitely a hard decision. My husband made many valid points about why this curriculum would be good for our kids, but it was a struggle for me to give up the way that we have been homeschooling.

On Wednesday our supplies arrived. I was excited for them to arrive, but when the Fed Ex man showed up with 10 huge boxes, I felt a little overwhelmed. Oh yes, it was fun and a little like Christmas to open all of the boxes, but once that was over I had to figure out what to do with all of it. The oppressive heat that day did not help. With sweat dripping down my back I took all of our previous homeschooling books out of the cabinet to make room for the new stuff.

I admit that I was a bit emotional about displacing all of the curricula that I had spent hours and hours researching and, I might add, had recently decided was just about perfect. Why is it that as soon as we think we have homeschooling all figured out something happens that changes it all up? Something to think about. I'll stop here and post later about using K12 days 1 and 2.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Booklist Realization

Like most homeschoolers I am obsessed with book lists. I remember when I first checked Rebecca Rupp's The Complete Home Learning Source Book out at the library and spent weeks pouring over it and compiling my own book lists by topic. I then proceeded to find every book list available online and add those books to my hand written lists. Eventually my paper pile of lists was several inches high. I finally decided to put the lists into Excel documents to eliminate some of the clutter from my desk (I am still not quite finished with this project). I put those lists into google docs and have them listed in my side bar.

Those of you that love booklists like I do will want to check out those lists. but let me tell you what I have recently realized: THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY BOOKS TO EVER USE THEM ALL IN OUR HOMESCHOOL.

Oh yes, I have left the library with huge stacks of books in my arms, including once when it was icy and I slipped and the 30 books I was carrying went flying across the parking lot. And I have spent hours reading all of those books to my kids. Many of these books were very good and others were just OK. So if we were learning about say, Cleopatra, I would come home with 5 books about Cleopatra. All of them had about the same information, so I didn't really need to read them all. Probably one would have been sufficent. But how to know which one to choose. After 6 years of doing this thing called homeschooling, I have come to recognize that there are some authors that consistantly write good books, so when faced with a choice I will always choose these authors.

Here are the authors that I love ( yes, it is another list...)

Diane Stanley
Franklyn M. Branley (for early science)
Besty Maestro
Kathleen Krull
Daivd Adler
Gail Gibbons
Ruth Heller
Brian Cleary (grammar and math books)
Ann Rockwell
Melvin Berger (early science)
Stuart Murphy (math readers)
Loreen Leedy
Margaret Hodges
Mike Venezia

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Evolution of Homeschool Records

We are thinking about making a big change in the way we homeschool and I was looking at my homeschool records to see what we have accomplished in the last 6 years. I had to laugh at the contrast between the records that I kept when I first started homeschooling Sierra as a kindergartner and our records now.

Here is the record for Sierra's first day of kindergarten:

10:30 - 11:10 - writing practice, capital letters A, B, C, and D
12:00 - 12:30 - Art - blow pens, scissors, markers
1:30 - 1:50 - Reading - lesson 45
2:15 - 2:30- science - absorption
5:30 - 5:50 - Math - number writing

Here are the records I keep now:

April -
Math and Grammar Readers
Story of the World
Carnival of the Animals

Oh my, how times have changed! I will admit that keeping track of the exact times only lasted 3 days, but I did keep daily records until November of 2007.

I meant for this post to show how laid back we had become since we first starting homeschooling 6 years ago, but since we are about ready to make a change in the way we homeschool, I have been thinking alot about what our reasons for homeschooling are and if we have been accomplishing them. It just occurred to me that about the time that I stopped keeping daily record was about when I feel like we started accomplishing less in our homeschool. Hum...

I have thought about what factors might have caused this shift. My youngest turned 5 that November and became an offfical part of our homeschool, the older girls started attending a one day a week program that fall, and we started hanging out with a bunch of unschoolers. Interesting... I guess it could have been any one of these factors or a combination.

I will post later about the big change we are thinking of making.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hawaii - finally!

We have been living in Hawaii for almost a month now. Just a few more things to do before I finally feel "settled in."
Here we are checking in at the airport in Ohio.

Walking to our gate.

Waving goodbye to the mainland.

Hanging out on the airplane.
We forced the children to sleep just a little bit. I sleep for about an hour, but Rand didn't sleep at all.

We just spotted land
Arriving in the Honolulu airport. Yes, that is an open air walkway.

The lady from the University who picked us up greeted us with leis.

Our new home. Pink! We love it. So appropriate since we have 3 girls.

While exploring the house we discovered that we already had a pet.

The girls enjoying their first Hawaiian Shave Ice.

The Polynesian Cultural Center. It is 2 blocks from our house, so of course we got season passes right away.

Now it's time to get back to regular life. It is kind of weird to do that in a place where it seems like we should be on vacation. We are excited to see what adventures we will have in such an interesting place.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What we have been up to for the last 6 weeks, part 2

The Family Edition
The second half of our road trip was spent visiting family. The girl's had a great time with their cousins.
Rock Band

Playing cards

Some weird game that Sierra and Evan made up...

And of course, hanging out with the aunts and uncles
Aunt Tracy
Uncle Drew and Aunt Marquesas

In Ohio, we got to play with Lily
Rub-a-dub-dub 2 girls in a tub

All the girls in their pretty dresses

Since we were near Columbus, we couldn't resist stopping and getting some cream puffs from Schmidts - Yum!

Finally, Grandma hosted a going away party for us with yummy cake decorated with palm trees.

Next: We arrive in Hawaii!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What we have been up to for the last 6 weeks, part 1

On the morning of July 30th, this is what all of our possessions looked like.

In a few short hours our stuff would be tightly packed into a moving container

Here it is. Just 20 feet of space to cram all of our worldly goods into. And it fit, almost... we ended up leaving behind 2 small shelves and my wedding dress.

To anyone in Utah or Colorado: DO NOT use Bailey's Moving Company! They will underestimate the weight of your stuff, so that they can charge you extra when you go over your weight allowance, even though you meticulously got rid of what you thought was thousands of pounds of stuff. Later we found out that we weren't the only ones that this happened to. End rant.

Finally, it was time to hit the road. First stop, Santa Fe. While it was a cute little town with cool adobe houses. It was crowded and lacked available parking, so we end up only staying one day instead of two.En route to Carlsbad Caverns we stop in Roswell and ate lunch.

Green Chile Cheeseburger with guacamole - Yum!

Carlsbad Caverns. The first night we watched the bat exodus. The next day we toured the caverns. The girls dubbed this the best part of our road trip.
Onto San Antonio. A fun day even though we almost melted. The Alamo was very interesting and the River Walk was a great place to go to cool off. As we walking to our car, Kali grabbed the gate of the Alamo and cracked us all up by yelling, "We're the Mexican's. Let us in!"

In Austin, we enjoyed touring the State Capitol.

A side trip to Lockhart where we sampled 3 different BBQ joints.

And visiting friends.

Up next: the family portion of our trip.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Have Not Fallen off the Face of the Earth

The 20 ft container with all of our worldly posessions pulled away on July 30th and we left Utah shortly there after. Then began our 4 week road trip, which will end on August 26th with our flight to Hawaii.

It has been so much fun seeing the sites and visting family... and busy, too... no time for blogging. Expect many pictures and blog posts once we are settled into our new island life.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Living the Dream

I was reading a friend's blog post a while back about how she felt like she wasn't living the life that she had always dreamed of. It got me thinking, am I living the life I have always dreamed of? I came to the conclusion that the answer is, yes. Oh sure, I had fantasies of becoming a famous actress. At one point in my life I couldn't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to be famous. And there was a time that I wanted to write young adult novels like Judy Blume. But really, truly from my earliest childhood what I have really wanted to be was a wife and a mother.

I have had people ask me, "Don't you want to get a job and have a career?" ...Um, no. Why would I want to go off to a job every day when I could be home with my daughters instead? Even after my girls are grown, I have no desire to get a job, unless I have to for financial reasons.

Being a good wife, mother, and homemaker IS a full time job. Whenever I try to do things "for myself", I find that I don't do as good of a job at what is most important to me, being a good wife and mother. Now I am not saying that I never take time to be alone and regroup or that I never do things like paint my toenails or read a book...or blogging. It is just when I try to do some big project or have some big goal that is unrelated being a wife and a mother that I end up being unhappy and overwhelmed instead of fulfilled.

I believe in following one's dreams and I believe that dreams can come true. I remember watching Cinderella as a teenager and being moved by the song, "A Dream is Wish Your Heart Makes."

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true

I am so glad that my dreams have come true!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

" My Husband Has Been Out of Town " Movie reviews

My husband has been out of town for the last 3 weeks hiking the John Muir trail. As much as I miss him, I enjoy having time to watch movies that he would never want to watch with me (and to catch up on my scrapbooking). Here are the movies I have watched.

Mama Mia - Cute story, love the ABBA music, Pierce Brosnan can't sing.

Nights at Rodanthe - love Diane Lane, a nice love story, hated the ending.

August Rush - a very sweet story.

Dead Poet's Society - love, love, love this movie. The way Keating makes the students rip up the textbook and learn to love poetry speaks to my homeschooling heart. His teaching style also reminded me of my darling professor husband. I bawled at the end when the boys all stand on their desks.

The Bucket List - Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are just great. Not my favorite movie, but I enjoyed it and was glad I had the chance to watch it.

P.S. I Love You - Gerard Butler is hot, Hilary Swank is not. A good love story nonetheless. I was surprised by the ending, but liked it.

St. Elmo's Fire - I absolutely loved this movie as a teenager and wondered if I would still like it as an adult... I do. It is such a great Brat Pack movie and the lines in it are just so quotable. I found myself anticipating some of the lines and saying them along with the characters.

Moulin Rouge - so bizzare, I thought about not watching it after the first 10 minutes, but I was scrapbooking and our TV remote is broken, so I kept watching. It was very weird to have the characters that are supposedly in the early 1900's start singing modern songs. I got used to it after a while. Overall, I didn't hate this movie like I thought I would after watching the first scene.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - An interesting concept. I liked the story and the epic quality, but I kind of hated the ending.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lovin' the Now I'm Reading series

Still working on getting child #3 to read fluently. Well, I was working on it until I got a bit caught up in this whole "getting ready to move" business. Now we're just letting things stew for a while. Maybe by the time we get to Hawaii, Arwen will have hit a developmental milestone and be reading easily...

Anyway, I wanted to mention how much I love the Now I am Reading series. I have gone through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons with all three of my girls. I picked this curriculum not because had researched all the wonderful possibilities, but because I typed "teach your child to read" into the Amazon search and that is what came up. So far it has worked just fine. Of course, I have only made it about halfway through with each of my girls.

That's when the Now I am Reading Series come in. Reading from real books has been so much more fun for my girls than reading from a phonics curriculum. Level 1 is all short vowel sounds, Level 2 is long vowel sounds and Level 3 is new sounds and blends*. We have one set for each level and by the time we have gone through each level the girls have been ready to start reading easy readers. I just finished level 3 with Arwen and will start working through easy readers after the move. It is almost sad to be leaving these cute books behind...almost... it will be more fun to have 3 readers in the house.

*apparently there is a Level 4 also

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Can you still be a Charlotte Mason follower if you have never read her Original Series?

Of all of the homeschool philosophies, the Charlotte Mason's ideas resonate with me the most. It wasn't always that way. when I first heard about Charlotte, I got the impression that her philosophy was all about running around in nature. Now I am all for running around in nature, but I knew there was more to education than that. Later I read Catherine Levison's books' A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education and I thought, "O.K., sure, great." Some of the ideas I bought into and others I didn't. Then I read Karen Andreola's A Charlotte Mason Companion and I fell in love. Since then when I read others' interpretations of Charlotte's thoughts, I find myself nodding in aggreement and occasionally shouting, "Amen, sistah!"

But what about Charlotte's own words? I find myself scanning past them as a bunch of meaningless words. And I don't think it is the Victorian language. I consider myself to be intelligent and am a huge fan of Shakespeare and Dickens. Does it make me less of a Charlotte Mason follower to not have any desire to read her Original Series? I have even considered reading the Modern English version on, but I just can't get into it.

I am now reading Charlotte Mason Study Guide which is available as an e-book on Penny Gardner's website for only $5. Once again I find myself skimming past Charlotte's quotes, but this time as I skimmed a few quotes stood out to me and reminded me why I love this philosophy even though I am not motivated to read Charlotte's works in their entirety. I share them with you now. Feel free to skim past them. I won't think of you as a less of a CM follower, I promise.

"The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum."

"The getting of knowledge and the getting of delight in knowledge are the ends of a child's education"

"The nourished upon ideas and absorbs fact only as these are connected with the living ideas upon which they hag."

"All great ideas that have moved the world are in books. Don't get between the book and the child. Don't water it down; let the child deal with the matter."

"You may bring your horse to the water, but you can't make him drink; and you may present ideas of the fittest to the mind of the child; but you do not know in the least which he will take, and which he will reject....Our part is to see that his educational plat is constantly replenished with fit and inspiring ideas, and then we must needs leave it to the child's own appetite to take which he will have, and as much as he requires."

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.”

"Law Ensures Liberty.––The children who are trained to perfect obedience may be trusted with a good deal of liberty: they receive a few directions which they know they must not disobey; and for the rest, they are left to learn how to direct their own actions, even at the cost of some small mishaps; and are not pestered with a perpetual fire of 'Do this' and 'Don't do that!'"

"We cannot give a better training in right reasoning than by letting children work out the arguments in favor of this or that conclusion."

"The mother's task in dealing with her growing daughter is one of extreme delicacy. It is only as her daughter's ally and confidante she can be of use to her now. She will keep herself in the background, declining to take the task of self-direction out of her daughter's hands. She will watch for opportunities to give word or look of encouragement to every growing grace. She will deal with failings with a gentle hand.. On discovering such fault, the mother will not cover her daughter with shame; the distress she feels she will show, but so that the girl perceives her mother is sharing her sorrow, and sorrowing for her sake... It is before her own conscience she must stand or fall now."

“The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn 'outlines,' of the whole history...of the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the life time of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.”

"Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire, it has perhaps no educational value."

Science should "reveal something of the beauty and power of the world."

“The question is not—how much does the youth know when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care?"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

How to host a fun kid's birthday party for less than $60

As I was getting ready for my oldest daughter's 11th birthday party last month, I realized that I had become somewhat of an expert at inexpensive, fun kid's birthday parties. I don't think this is a talent that I have always possessed, but something that I developed over the years of being a grad student's wife. Here are some things I learned that have helped me to plan fun parties without spending a bunch of money.

1. You don't have to spend a lot of money to host a party that your kids will enjoy and remember fondly. Sure, a clown, pony rides, and inflatable bounce houses are great, but are not necessary if they are not in your budget.

2. Don't go crazy with the party favors. These can really add up especially if you have a lot of guests (see # 3). Most party favors are going to be taken home and thrown away in a few weeks anyway. I usually do a bag with a small toy and stickers related to the theme and some candy. The candy is probably unnecessary since the guest with be having cake, but it helps fill up the bag without adding much to the cost.

3. Limit the number of guests. Since party favors can really add to the cost of the party, limiting the number of guest can really help keep the cost down. Another option would be to skip the favors altogether. Yes, they are tradition, but not required. Also, lots of guests mean buying more plates, cups, etc.

4. Don't host the party at meal times. Having to feed the guests a meal can really add to the cost. Host the party from 10am - 12pm or 2 - 4pm. That way there is no need to buy food for a meal. the food cost is limited to the cake and maybe a drink.

5. Don't go crazy with the decorations. Some balloons, streamers, and something to represent the theme is you have a theme is enough.

OK, enough tips, here is exactly how I hosted my daughter's 11th birthday party for less than $60. First she made her own invitation:
This one is hand written on card stock with stickers (the theme was a garden party). I have also made invitations on the computer.

Then we made the "cake"
Because it was a garden themed party, we made dirt dessert with pipe cleaner flowers from a kit Sierra got for Christmas.

And we decorated

Sierra made the flowers using an idea from a fairy book she has and we hung some balloons and streamers.

We also bought some cut flowers to go with the theme.

And we sprinkled some lavender flowers from our garden on the table. In the bowl are scented sachets that Sierra made (another idea from the fairy book). We already had a party favor idea, but she really wanted to make these.

We planned some games and activities. I usually try to plan three.

The first activity was painting pots. This also doubled as the party favor.
We planted petunias in the pots at the end of the party and sent them home with the kids.

Activity #2: Pin the Bee on the Flower game

Activity #3: Garden Charades ( I think Kali is pretending to be a worm...)

Then is was time for cake.

...and presents.

That's it. Total cost - just under $60.

This is everything I bought -plates, cups (we had forks), tablecloth, cake ingredients, pink lemonade, cherries to go in ice cubes for lemonade, balloons, streamers, card stock for invitations and decorations, fabric and ribbons for sachets, bouquet of flowers, poster board for Pin the Bee game, pots (we already had paint and brushes), potting soil, and petunias.

The kids had just as good of a time as they would have had if I had spent lots more. Well, maybe not if there had been pony rides...

* I have gotten many of my activity ideas from Other themes I have done include fairy, princess, ocean, zoo, Hawaii (before we even knew we were moving there), panda, beach, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, Wonder Woman, magical land, ladybug and butterfly, and penguin.