Saturday, November 13, 2010

Madsen Dreams

Well, I've wanted one of these sweet babies for a couple of years now, and since posting a link on my dormant blog is much less painful than writing a chunky check I will post the link!

Check out Madsen Cycles for some seriously cute, affordable (in the world of family bikes), and all-around awesome kid-haulers.  (The cream one is pretty, but I'm in love with the powder blue model...)
Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh yeah....we were going to blog this, weren't we?

Heh it's been a month between blog posts. Part of that is because we spend all day creating content for the blog, but I am usually too tired at the end of the day to string coherent sentences together and post the stuff. Perhaps tomorrow I will deliver a backlog of work for you to enjoy.

BUT NOW, I must give you all a very important update. We have canned the curriculum. Mostly. Personally, I wish someone had used this curriculum on me in grade school, because it would have been right up my alley--read a book, think about the book, write about the book until your hand falls off. However, we ran into some complications with the practical application of the aforementioned curriculum.

1) Gwen is not me. Neither is Addie, for that matter. So me choosing a curriculum that would suit me to a proverbial "T" didn't work so well for my children who are, as we have noted, "not me."

2) Using a writing-intensive curriculum to teach two children completely different topics at the same time (while fielding drink, snack, and other sundry requests from two smaller children) is insane. It quickly became a "read this, write this" tag-team* whirlwind, in which my bored, frustrated children sat staring at their newest worksheet while their bored, frazzled mom buzzed between them and the kitchen and their siblings, continuously repeating "Focus! Write your sentences!" Not the happy homeschooling idyll I had imagined.

3) Our house was a pit. We were still living out of boxes I didn't have time to unpack, the girls' rooms were knee deep in dirty laundry and books, and I was on a fast track to mommy meltdown. Something had to be done.

SO, we took a mental health week. Our only lesson for the week was "How to keep my room clean." And I'm happy to say that both kid rooms have been tidy for nearly two weeks. (Please note, this should count for one of my required miracles once I'm a candidate for beatification.)

And we took stock. Why are we homeschooling? What do we want that to look like? Gwen has been begging to get into the electricity kit that came with our curriculum, and I kept saying "no, we have to wait until we get to that unit." Huhh? I call the shots here, why am I allowing myself to be bossed around by a curriculum that I own? So this week we busted out the electricity kit. We've also started to learn French. And read a lot about Benjamin Franklin (he did a fair amount of experimenting with electricity--in fact, he invented the lighting rod). And learning the names of the states. That sort of thing. But we're doing it all together, even Pippin hops in sometimes. And we're taking it at our own pace. And it seems to be working. Today the gals were testing different things around the house to see if they were conductors--I wish I could have taken pictures of the two of them, bent over the little battery/tin-foil/tiny bulb circuit we'd built, eager to see whether the next item would conduct electricity. This is what it is all about, man. I think we just might make this thing work.

*Ever try to tag-team with yourself? It kind of sucks. Neither of you get to rest.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Growing Pains

Well, it happened.  Gwen and Addie asked me Tuesday morning "Why can't we go to a REAL school?"  For Gwen, she misses being with other kids--not her sisters.  For Addie, she wants the experience of going away to school, like a full-fledged big kid. For both of them, the work we've been doing is "BORING."  

I can see that they're bored.  It isn't the curriculum--I'm really impressed with and enjoying both the Moving Beyond the Page and the Right Start Math programs.  But the "mom factor" is killing us.  I remember when I was a kid my mom taught me to knit and cross stitch for 4-H, and it was dead boring.  Of course I am an avid knitter now, so obviously both her instruction and example carried weight.  But the simple fact that she was my mom made her instruction tedious.  

My theory is that they can't distinguish between me telling them "Okay, it is time to clean up your room," and "Okay, let's learn about the life cycle of plants."  After spending the last eight years learning that mom's focused attention and instruction meant being assigned a chore, Gwen now associates the lessons we do with chores. Maybe I should develop a character--different voice, a costume--to help them see me as they would a teacher instead of their mom.  

I do realize, though, that I haven't been thinking in terms of making this fun.  I haven't planned any field trips, we're not taking much advantage of the freedom we have to drop everything and chase butterflies through the meadow.  Of course, it has been rather warm in the meadow these days.....but still.  SO, time to turn up the fun level.  We'll be heading to the swamp this week, to check out the nature center and walk the trails (hopefully avoiding the alligators).  And I will drag myself to the Friday park day that the local homeschool association has planned.  

It is hard, because I am still hurting from leaving my friends in Muncie behind, and would much rather sit at home feeling sad than haul all four kids to the park.  I'm not yet at the point where I want to make friends here--I HAVE friends, dammit.  They just live too far away.  Anyhow.  This blog isn't really supposed to be my emotional compost heap.  We've all got adjusting to do, and God willing, we'll be able to do that with a minimum of strife and large helpings of grace :)


These were written last week, but I haven't been able to log into the blog until now due to internet access difficulties. Hopefully those are all straightened out now! :)

Birthdays by Gwenyth Allison

Birthdays look like sunny days.
Birthdays sound like celebrations.
Birthdays taste like sugar cookies.
Birthdays smell like a pie being baked.
Birthdays feel like the day just began.

Bears by Gwenyth Allison

Bears like honey
Eat, eat, eat!
A yummy treat.
Right up there,
Silly ol' bear.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Experiment #1: Absorbant Properties of Various Soil Substrates by Gwenyth Allison

We wanted to know how much water can diferent kinds of soils hould.   My hypothesis was that the sand was going to loose and silt woud win.

To set up the experiment you need scissors, 2 pens, 3 dixie cups, a paper towel, a big measuring cup, a little measuring cup (1/4 cup), water, sand, dirt, and silt.  Use one of the pens and one dixie cup and the paper towel.  Then put the cup on a paper towel and, with a pen, draw a circle on the paper towel around the cup.  Do that three times.  Then with the other pen, poke three holes in the bottom of each dixie cup.  Then, with the scissors, cut out the three circles you made on the paper towel.  Put one circle in each paper cup.
Cutting paper towel
Choose one of the soils (sand, silt, or dirt), and put 1/4 cup into one of the dixie cups.  Put a different kind of soil (1/4 cup) in another dixie cup.  Then put 1/4 cup of the last soil-type in the last cup.

Then put 1/4 cup of water in each dixie cup.  Make sure you have the same amount of soil in each dixie cup and the same amount of water in each cup.  With three bowls, put a dixie cup in each of the bowls.  Then wait for about a minute.  Soon water will start coming out of the bottom of  the dixie cup.  Then carefully, without squeezing, pick up the dixie cup and shake it a little so you know it is done.  If its not done, put it back in and try another cup.

When they're all done, go back into the kitchen and get a teaspoon and pour one of the bowls of water into the teaspoon.  Write down how many teaspoons of water came out.  Do the same for all three.

My hypothesis was that the silt was going to soak up the most water, and the sand was going to soak up the least.  We measured how much water came out.


We discovered that silt soaked up the most water, but the other part of my hypothesis was wrong.  Sand did not soak up more water than dirt.  So half of my hypothesis was right!

Try this experiment at home and see what your hypothesis is!  If it is right, hooray for you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Painful Thing By: Gwenyth Allison

I remember when I got hurt really bad .  One day I was outside with Dad and Addie.  Then they went inside and I got mad.  I pushed my hand through glass and cut my wrist.  I remember it because it was the scariest thing.     
I'll tell you my  feelings and my lesson.  I felt sad because it was a sad thing that happened.  I felt worried because I thought I was going to get in trouble.  Now I feel foolish because I did that.   I learned not to get too mad.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In which we purchase a curriculum, and embark on a new adventure.

Thus begins our year of homeschool.  This afternoon I clicked the "add to cart" button a few times, and, finally, the "confirm purchase" button on the Moving Beyond the Page website.  They've developed a literature-based curriculum that incorporates language arts, science, and social studies (and, in A's case, math).  Instead of textbooks, they use age-appropriate books (for A, books like "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" and "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse", in G's case, "Little House in the Big Woods" and "The BFG") to guide exploration and learning.  Though I was sorely tempted to buy the "complete package," our dwindling finances and the huge sticker price dictated that I order the online curriculum only, and check the books out from the library (don't worry, I made sure the library HAS the books!).  I am really excited to start this with the Gals.  We're also going to do the Right Start math program, which also has me bouncing off the walls with excitement--the focus is to teach math intuitively, instead of by rote.

A has been asking all day "when can we start school?  when do we get to do school?"  It makes me feel so hopeful for the success of our little endeavor.  I feel pretty confident that this is the right place for us to be this year, but it is good to have the kids (and the dad!) back me up.

My plan for this blog is that it will provide a place for me to journal about our homeschool experiences, as well as give the Gals somewhere to post their "assignments."  I'm also hoping to periodically post science-y videos, music & poetry podcasts, and other stuff we come up with.  We're just gonna have FUN!

SO, strap on your thinking caps, folks!  Get ready for a wild ride!