Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kindergarten at home...

So... it is official. Kiddo is 5 years old. School is now in session. Had we not seen the masses of people and huge displays of supply lists at the stores, we would have found out simply by the number of people that ask kiddo "Are you in school?" Which he answers now, quite quickly and with just a hint of irritation "We homeschool." The reactions we get are mixed and long enough to fill lists even longer than the Kindergarten required school supply list.

I say we have been homeschooling since birth. To say that we just started is a little ridiculous, but I suppose officially, we have just started. By that I mean that I have started keeping daily notes of some of our activities in a student planner. This is what I plan to use when family members start poking. Family members do poke. Poking is not fun. Only I know what happens all day every day with my son. You know why? I am here, with him, every single moment of every single day. Every meal, snack, lesson, question, game, play time, experiment... did I mention the questions? I am the answer lady. The Googler if you will. The speller, the sounder outer, the encourager, the counter, the comforter. I am also many times the student. He has so much to teach me, and stories to tell. We live in an open learning environment. We all share with each other what we know. It's the best and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Really the only frustrating part of homeschooling, is explaining it to other people. Kiddo has had the question from family members "What did you do in school today?" After he looks at them a little crazy, he will look at me like... ummmmm. Learning has no start or stop for us. No official seat. No line to stand in. No certain time for math, science, spelling, snacks, socializing, art, story time. While I understand schedule being important, if we want to play dominoes for an hour and then talk about special effects used in movies, we do.

He knows the basics. He can write his letters, numbers, colors, shapes, is reading and sounding out words. He will stop me if I am helping too much. He will put his hand up or shush me. He enjoys being challenged and is the first one to challenge himself. He is determined, excited, open, confident and very sure of himself and if any of those dip just a bit, he has me. The person who loves him the most in the entire world (now there is a list of folks that would argue that but I know better) to help him and fill in the blanks.

Today he woke up, came in and gave me a giant hug. He told me I was the best Mom in the whole world and that he wanted Halloween Ritz crackers for breakfast and some apple juice. We continued on with our day, him constantly coming with questions. How do you spell this or what comes after 29. Stories, all day I get stories. Tells me about his dreams, or makes them up, you choose. I don't miss out on anything. So anyway, later in the day he asked for crackers again. I started to explain again to him that he needed to eat a balanced diet. About carbs, protein, vitamins and nutrients. Then I thought of the food pyramid. I Google image searched it and blew it up on the screen. We talked about the different types of foods and how those foods fuel your body in different ways. I asked him what he had the most of and what he needed to complete a balanced diet for the day. From that we fixed an early dinner that contained pasta, meat, vegetables and dairy. He was VERY excited about the one part of the food pyramid he had not eaten. You know... the top tiny little triangle. We called it the treats triangle. He is quite the self monitor when it comes to treats anyway. If he had a tiny package of m&ms he will be the first to remind you if some other sort of treat comes about during the day. "Oh I already had a treat, remember?" He decided today it would be a chocolate popsicle, one of his favorites.

He absolutely loves to draw. He will draw pictures of anything and everything. Detailed or not so detailed. Almost always there are stories to go with the drawings (unless they are love letters to me or his Dad, I certainly do not argue with those... ever). Since he has learned to write all of his letters and some words, he most often labels his drawings. We once did an activity where you had to number which picture in the story sequence came first, second, third and forth. This is now showing up in his drawings. A child's drawings can speak volumes about what is going on in their head. I still remember what a huge thing drawing was for me. It is an limitless way to express yourself.

Anyway, I decided it would be a fun idea to draw a blank food pyramid and let him fill in the spots from what we had learned earlier. I wrote the major group names and asked him to sound out the words. He really works hard to prove himself to me. To show me that he knows things. So he sounded them out, figured all of them out and then he started drawing pictures in the correct spots. I had him sound out the letters for the names of the items he had drawn and he wrote them in. We made it to fruits and he chose apples, oranges and tomatoes. At first, just from what I had thought for so long, I wanted to say "That's a vegetable!" Then it occurred to me that in fact, tomatoes are a fruit, and I thought it was very interesting that was how he classified them.

I know I am going on and on but hey? This is my stinkin blog! I wanted to vent. To explain a little bit about how a day in the life of our type of homeschooling goes. I don't purchase gazillion dollar curriculum. I don't have a schedule. I don't have certain things that I have lined out to learn every day. Yes, we have official Kindergarten workbooks that we sit down and do. Most often it is him asking "Can we do school today?" To him, school is sitting down to do 15-20 pages in his workbooks. He doesn't realize that from the moment he opens the door from his room in the morning, class has already started. I like that. That way, there is no "Isn't it the weekend? Do we have to do this today? I don't want to sit down right now." Which brings up another point. A child of his age should not have to sit in a chair. They are growing, moving, experimenting, testing their physical abilities. Movement and fidgeting is just inside of them. On the other hand, I will tell you that I have had countless people come to me, most of the time in restaurants, to tell me what a well behaved child he is. Just two weeks ago I had an older lady who ended up sitting with her back to him in the adjoining booth. She stopped me as we were leaving and told me that when her friends chose that booth she thought "Oh great..." but that it was only moments later she completely forgot that there was a child there. He knows how to sit still and behave.

We have many many rules. It is not a free for all. The neighborhood kids know about the rules. I remind them all the time, make up new ones as needed. We are by far the most strict house on the block. I keep a close eye on them when they come to play. Having said all of that you would think this would be the last house on the block that they come to knock on the door, but the opposite is true. Rules are important. They offer safety and consistency. Kids will always always always test them. Push them to see what they can get away with, but in the end, rules are a good thing.

I don't know/don't care about classifying what type of homeschooler we are. There are enough labels and cliques in the world, education doesn't need to be a part of that. The boy is learning, he is happy and he is completely brilliant.

Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Adventures in First Time Gardening!

So this year I decided to plant a small garden. I figured since I've kept my house plants alive for several years, why not right? I found the perfect spot in the backyard where the sun shines for most of the day. I grabbed my shovel and went for it! I'll tell you now, the soil/dirt here in Texas is a wonder. In about a 10 foot by 10 foot area, there were four distinct types of dirt: actual soil, sand, rocky mess, and clay. A few hours and 100s of burned calories later, I had a nice big square of freshly tilled dirt! (I will definitely be investing in a tiller of some sort for next year, enough said).

I found these little peat pots that start as nuggets, then you soak them in water and they soon become these perfect little starters for your seeds. This is the point when the magic began and it has only become more and more magical since then. Now, I did look over a list of things that were seasonally appropriate to plant at the time, but I bought some broccoli seeds along with my other choices anyway. I chose snow peas, white eggplant, green onion (also not suggested to start from seed at the time), tomatoes, marigolds (just to keep critters away) and broccoli. I wanted to make sure it was stuff that we would actually eat and also that it wouldn't end up taking up our entire yard. I planted the seeds in my nuggets, covered them with the lid and set them on the counter.

I'm not sure why it was such an exciting discovery when tiny little leaves started poking out of the tops, but it was. Everything except the marigolds that is. When they were big enough to plant, I lined them all up in, what then, looked like WAY too large of a garden. I watered and waited. Then... the weeds. Oh goodness the weeds. I started by plucking and plucking and finally grabbed my mini hand rake thing (surely there is a name for it) and just sort of tilled them in, hoping to never see their little leaves again. At last, my garden looked like it was supposed to, the plants still way too small for the space allotted, and carried on with the waiting.

Everything was slowly getting bigger and I went to closely inspect it. Now... I had been told that broccoli was not a good one to grow at the time, but rules are made to be broken right? I was thinking, "Oh well THEY can't grow broccoli but I can." My lady at my knitting group shared with me a story about when they grew broccoli at the wrong time and all the bugs that they couldn't wash off, even after many tries. Yeah, well let me tell you...every single leaf (which was about two per plant at the time) was absolutely COVERED in tiny black bugs! Seriously? Sure enough, so out they came. Ripped them out one by one and tossed them. This was just a little on the heartbreak side because if you knew my son, you would know that he ranks broccoli up there with m&ms. They are a staple and I couldn't wait to grow our own. All in time I suppose...

Once things were seeming to actually flourish, I decided to expand our garden and add a special plot for corn. Reference the above shovel, hours and 100s of calories burned, and at last, a place for corn. I wasn't sure on the timing and how to do everything, clearly I was a professional gardener since I had the sprouts to prove it in the neighboring plot, so no worries. Kiddo picked out some yellow and white variegated corn seeds and I plopped them in and covered them up. I realized afterwards, that perhaps I planted them WAY too deep in the soil. A while went by and nothing came of it, though I had a pretty dirt rectangle in my yard, seemingly ready for plants. Then one day, little goose came running up to me and announced "OUR CORN IS COMING UP!!!" In my head I thought "Ahh, a lovely plot of weeds awaits..." I walked back there and oh my goodness, there, in perfect little rows right as I had planted them, a gazillion little leaves! Almost a gazillion, well, whatever they put in the pack anyway. We were both so excited and I was in awe.

My "rake, bury and forget" weeding technique worked wonders. I have had very little problems with weeds since then. A few plucks and buries and all is well.

So I have these gorgeous trellis', black iron, tall, all rounded at the top with little circular insets of stained glass with dragonflies on them that I placed behind my snow peas. Every visit I would encourage (a.k.a. wrap and hook) them around the trellis so they could get all vine like a fabulous. Each time I would find them flopped and stretching across the ground, unloved and sad. I guess that the black iron got way too hot in the Texas sun and they hated it. They were not looking so good and even after growing them from seed decided that they would meet the same fate the broccoli did. I ripped them out. Oh and the white eggplant, yeah... not so much. Not really sure what happened with them but we will just say that they are in a better place now in some broccoli, snow pea, eggplant salad in Heaven.

I was left with gorgeous tomato plants, corns sprouts, green onion sprouts. It was not quite the variety I had planned, so I headed to the nursery to grab a few plants to fill in the spots. They were out of strawberries so we ended up getting a small watermelon plant and two different pepper plants. I spread them out in the broccoli row and they looked like they fit.


It was the tomatoes that bloomed first. I probably asked anyone I talked to that day making sure that the blooms were where tomatoes were going to be. They all answered "Yeah I think so..." And so they did a few weeks later! Every step of this process has been magical. Like they are some sort of magical seed I planted, when really, they are just doing exactly like they are supposed to. It is quite something though, the whole process. Rewarding to say the very very least.

So here is a picture of some of my tomatoes recently spotted in my garden:

The watermelon plant was a nice little plant. All contained and leafy green. Staying nicely in the spot where I planted it. Seemed to be doing great! Then... it grew these arms. LONG arms. Reaching out and grabbing everything in my garden. At first I would carefully replace these monstrous vines in the spots I deemed fit. Then, it completely won me over. I have no idea how I didn't see it before hiding beneath the mass of leaves and unruly vines but I missed it. There it was:

And for a close up:

Keep in mind it is about the size of a baseball but isn't it BEAUTIFUL?! In the first photo there you can see my little green onions in all of their goodness. You know... the rebel onion seeds that were not supposed to make it this time of year, those ones. It was so great the first time we had baked potatoes and I ran to the backyard and plucked a few sprigs off of them for toppings. That is the first thing we actually consumed from the garden. The next thing we tried was one of our peppers. If you haven't grown peppers before it is absolutely amazing how quickly these things take off! A little dangling green pebble one day, and a huge pepper the next! We chose to plant Anaheim peppers because they have a great flavor and thin skin. Both are prime for, well pretty much anything you need a pepper for. Here is a glimpse of the ones that are growing right now:

The next thing to go wild was my corn plants. Now, everyone told me "Oh they are going to get really really tall!" I mean, the rate that they grow is fast but they reached about hip high and then grew these big shoots out of the tops. I think we must have gotten some sort of sawed off corn hybrid because all of the sudden I noticed while I was watering one day that they had...

Little puffs of corn silk stuff where the corn will pop out! How FUN!

We should have plenty to share too! (our storage building is in the background):

So now it is time again for the "Weed...water...wait..." game.

I will update our adventures in gardening soon! Oh by the way, the plants no longer look like they are drowning in a giant garden. They have filled it completely!

If you are a first time gardener or an old pro, "Doesn't it ROCK?"

And if you aren't "It is something you should try sometime for sure. I went from knowing nothing to being a total expert in no time! (or so I think)"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Exciting News!!!

I have some very exciting news! A while back I was approached about having some of my handspun yarn featured in a magazine. This in itself was amazing.

I absolutely love spinning and experimenting with different fibers and colors and techniques. The folks who come to my Etsy shop to purchase skeins, ask questions or have comments always offer me a bit of validation for my craft. In getting to know some of my customers I often learn what they will make with my creations: who is getting married soon, having babies, getting a new grandchild, just learning to knit and who just bought a new coat that needs some new warm woolen knits to accessorize. Then there are the mystery skeins. The ones I wrap up and mail off, never hear a word from the customers, to be left only with my imagination as to what they will become. Spinning gives me the chance to create something that others get to create with, which fills me with joy.

I must say, when I was first approached for the magazine opportunity, it all seemed very surreal. Silly thoughts entered my head like "Do things like this really happen?" and "Why me?" Well guess what...things like this DO happen and I gratefully accept that they happen to ME!

After a little reasearch and asking around my knitting buddies, I realized just how amazing this opportunity is! The magazine is called Yarn Forward and is based out of the UK. It is full of unique and interesting knitting patterns and brimming with gorgeous photography. It is one of those magazines that you have a special spot for...after riding around in your knitting bag for a few weeks that is.

They were kind and sent me a copy of the issue I am featured in so I thought I would share some snippets of it with you all! It can be purchased at your local Borders or Barnes and Noble booksellers here in the states. You can also go directly to their site and purchase. They have just launched the digital version for a fraction of the cost of hard copy (earth friendly...gotta love it!).

The cover~

My skein of supercoils named "Fresh Corn" seen in the index (BONUS!)~

The "Things We Like" feature (half page spread AND #1? Sweetness!)~

There is the another spot I am featured, it is an interview about working at home, loving what you do and making it work!

I am so very grateful and excited to be a part of this!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Out of Left Field

So I'm sitting on the sofa today when kiddo comes up and kneels next to me and whispers in my ear "I don't want to grow up."

At first I thought maybe it was something his buddy had said to him to make him feel that way because it is not something he had ever mentioned before. I asked him why, and with red almost teary eyes he whispers "I just don't want to grow up."

Hubby was watching t.v. and playing guitar and I could see that this was something that was weighing on kiddo. I said I thought we should go talk about it and headed to his room. I saw his little face right before he walked in and he looked pretty unsure whether or not he wanted to have this discussion. My heart was sad for him and I wasn't even really sure why.

I sat down on his bed and patted next to me and he sat down, I pulled the comfy blanket over our laps and said "Okay, let's talk about this. Why did you say that you didn't want to grow up?"

His little red eyes looked away and he said "I just don't want to not be a boy."

At this point I really had no idea where this came from or what was making him feel this way. I do know that I felt really bad for him and wanted to figure at least some of this out. So I asked "What makes you not want to grow up?" I snuggled him close, my little thinker.

"Well I would be too big for my chair..." he exclaimed, irritated while pointing to his chair now very close to tears.

"Okay, well they make those chairs for bigger boys too. What else?"

"Well I would be too big for my bed..."still irritated.

"If I can lay down in your bed and be comfortable then when you grow bigger, it will still be big enough for you. If it isn't we can get you a bigger bed." I was still wondering where all of this came from. I wasn't trying to disregard his feelings because obviously they were very real.

"Well you push me out of bed when you laid with me." He was still fighting his case.

"Honey growing doesn't happen very fast. You grow a little bit, little bit, little bit and you don't even realize that you are growing. Besides, once you grow really big, do you know what you will be able to do?"

He looked up at me with big eyes, knowing that I was at least going to make him feel better for this minute.

"You can say 'Mom, I'm taking the Jeep. I'm going to pick up Grammy and take her out to lunch.' and I'll say 'Okay, have fun, tell her hello for me.'"

He was looking away but I could see a smile and his little imagination going. The thought of driving, Grammy and the Jeep seemed to make growing up not so bad.

"Or I could say, 'Hey, could you run to the store for me and pick me up a bag of chocolate chips? I want to make some cookies.' and you could take the car and go to the store and bring me back what I needed all by yourself."

At this point he hoisted himself from being snuggled at my side and got onto his knees, still red eyed. He began to tell me what else he could do when his Dad peeked his head in the door. He asked if everything was alright. I asked kiddo if I could tell him what we were talking about and he said yeah. I told him that he didn't want to grow up and about the chair and the bed. Then I started to tell him about going to drive himself to pick up Grammy for lunch and kiddo put his hand over my mouth. Thinking that he was going to finish, I waited for him.

He thought for a minute and you could almost hear the wheels turning in his head.

"When I grow up I am still going to like Star Wars." he announced with passion and true statement. Like growing up was not going to change the things that brought him so much fun and joy.

Hubby says "Well yeah... I still like Star Wars!"

I still wonder what exactly made him feel that way. What the thought process was and how it all was played out in his mind. It was a little heartbreaking and a little mind opening for me too though.

Man, I love my little thinker.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Zeus vs. Luke Skywalker

With a gazillion channels on television, you can always depend on the History Channel. This weekend we ended up watching Cities of the Underworld. He traveled beneath the ancient Greek cities and touched on some of the Greek Gods. I remember in 2nd grade I was in a special class where we learned about many of them. It was so exciting and I still recall some of the stories pretty vividly. That led me to thinking "Is this too involved/violent/advanced for me to start teaching the kiddo?"

During the show kiddo was asking questions about who was this and what was that. I was answering to the best of my ability when I realized, it was no more involved or violent than Star Wars, and he knows ALL about that! I have been searching the net and have found several good books with high ratings for children on Greek Mythology. I'm not sure what we will pick up but I thought we may head to the library and see what is available there first. I am looking forward to re-learning along with him.

If you know of any spectacular books that you have used for Greek Mythology, please add them in the comments!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"My Mom hits me when I'm bad..." WHAT?

Okay so I have to share with you a funny thing that happened to me today.

Let me start by going over a little bit of parenting techniques my husband and I use. When kiddo was little, say about 18 months maybe, I remember I slapped his hand when he didn't listen to me about not touching something. I felt like a jerk and it didn't work. So I then decided that the whole spanking thing works for some folks, not for us. My Mom gave me a good idea when I asked how in the world I was supposed to get his attention and fast. She said to clap my hands very loudly one time to surprise him, and get his attention on me and not whatever it was occupying him. I tried it, it worked, I used it. I haven't had to use it in a long time, though when I do need to use it, it still works because it is not something we have worn out and used for an all the time thing.

Okay so now that we have that settled, this is what happened today. Often on Tuesdays my Mom will come to town and we go out to lunch and grocery shop, go to the book store, whatever, just a fun hanging out day for us. Today we started at our favorite salad place, it shall not be named, though that is a whole different story (sorry Mom, lol, I had to). So we pay and get our plates and kiddo is talking to my Mom. There is an older lady getting her plate as well and I started talking to her about something, probably just saying hi or some other random conversation I strike up with strangers.

Kiddo walks over, looks at her and says "My Mom hits me when I'm bad."

I look at him stunned. In complete shock of what this lady thinks of me and how horrible that sounded and above all WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD HE SAY THAT? I kind of laughed a nervous laugh thinking for certain CPS would be on the way soon when she looked at him and said

"That is because she loves you sweetie."

He looked at her with a similar look I had a moment prior. I then explained to her that I do not hit him and I don't know why he would say that, she didn't seem concerned at all.

In fact she said "Well whatever you are doing, you are doing something right."

Okay so she hadn't speed dialed CPS secretly in her purse while she calmly kept me on the property until they got there, that was good. We got to talking a bit and she was super nice, I still don't think she believed that I didn't hit him when he was bad, but whatever.

I continued to build my random fabulous salad and gather some things for kiddo, found the booth he and Mom had chosen and sat down. Still a bit stunned but eager to eat my good fresh food and enjoy our lunch.

When we were through, my Mom kind of laughed and said "My Mom hits me when I'm bad." We both laughed and I then felt the need to reassure her that I didn't beat him behind closed doors.

So while he was enjoying his frozen yogurt, I asked as casually as possible "Hey, why did you tell that lady that I hit you when you are bad?" He shrugs.

I asked "Do I hit you when you are bad?" He shook his head and kept eating his yogurt happily.

"No seriously why did you say that?"

"Well when we are playing Star Wars (Lego Star Wars on the PS2) and you are the other player and we are fighting bad guys and I look like a bad guy sometimes you kill me on accident." He continued with his yogurt. Looking at my Mom and I like "Why are they laughing?"

I admit, when we are playing and he looks like say, a Clone Trooper, I have been known to take him on more than one occasion. I was happy then that no weapons were mentioned in his confessions to strangers! My Mom and I both shook our heads and laughed for a bit, then I felt the need to explain this to him.

"You know when you said that to that lady, she thought you meant when you are not acting right or being cranky, that I hit you. You can't tell people that sweetie. Or you have to be more specific next time maybe when you say that because I could get in trouble as a Mom if people think that I hit you."

Mouth full of frozen yogurt he managed an "Okay."

Then my Mom pipes in. "You know you just are digging yourself deeper right? 'My Mom hits me when I'm bad but I'm not supposed to tell anybody about it'"

Goodness, what have I done?! LOL

Friday, January 30, 2009

What Homeschooling Means to Me...

This has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Recently I have been experiencing so many different people with so many different ideas. I have never really been someone who does things like others do. I enjoy doing new things and often jump in with little instruction. Even with a lack of instruction I seem to focus on finding the most efficient way of doing things. (Okay, other than laundry, that I just try to avoid...) When I am interested in something new I immerse myself in it. Like with spinning, I thought handspun yarn was gorgeous and knew if I had a wheel I could figure it out, and I did.

When kiddo was about eight months old I decided that I absolutely wanted to homeschool, I read pretty much every book about it from the library. Some of it was not my idea of how I thought it should be, though other parts have really stuck with me. One book I read mentioned that feeling that kids have on Friday when they are let out of school. That freedom and excitement from not having to sit in a chair, or be around cranky kids, or a cranky teacher, or being stuck in a classroom where they were studying something that they really didn't get or understand with no additional time for instruction or help. This book said that when you homeschool, everyday feels like Friday.

Another book mentioned that you can learn ANYWHERE. Now, kiddo is my sidekick. Anywhere I go, he goes for the most part. I have heard people say that "unschoolers" just drag their kids around with them all of the time and don't "do" anything. I am not sure what I would classify my style of homeschool as. What I do know is that you CAN learn anywhere.

People will ask when we are going to "start" homeschooling and there is always kind of a pause. For us, we started from.....well pretty much birth. Actually before birth! I had read the first few chapters of a book that was about teaching your baby to love to read from inside the womb. It was a study that was conducted about reading one book, The Cat in the Hat, to your belly twice a day everyday, then continuing reading it after they were born. I can still to this day recite the entire book!

Before he could speak I taught him sign language so he could better communicate his needs. When he could speak I made sure to encourage him to use the correct words and not "baby" words. (Just as I was sitting here typing, kiddo ran up hair all askew and still in pajamas and says "Let's do school!" so we sat down and practiced writing his letters for a few. Then he wanted a snack, LOL)

Books have always been a part of our days, from the very beginning. It started with just showing the pictures and then progressed to having him point things out, and then naming them, and now sounding out the words and sometimes looking up different facts about the things he asks questions about. Like the day he told me dolphins don't sleep and I said of course they...wait do they? After a bit of Google searching we learned that for about 8 hours of a day, they shut down the left half of their brain for 4 hours and then switch to the right half, all the while still able to swim slowly, float near the surface or in shallow waters. THIS is what I love about homeschool.

I think a big part of teaching your children comes from actually listening to what they have to say. You know when I first found out I was pregnant, I wasn't sure "what" I was supposed to do. The thought of parenting was intimidating and it was something that I knew I wanted to do "right." My Mom was a big support system for me. She let me know that as long as I tried my best and recognized that he was a "person" that I would be fine. My parents have very different qualities to them. My Dad being very matter of fact, and coming from a military background, very strict and rule focused while still remaining creative and imaginative and I am so thankful for that and what that instilled in me. My Mom is very creative and easy going, always willing to answer questions and spark creativity and imagination, while also being very much on the goofy side and offering a laugh whenever I need one. I like to think that I can find a balance between the rules and the goofy creativity, to take a bit from each of my influences to parent with.

I have to give my Mom a huge THANK YOU for something seeming slightly unrelated but actually a huge determining factor in the relationship that kiddo and I have. After I had him, money was really tight. REALLY tight. Since I was 14 I have always had a job, I enjoy working and getting a check to show that I put in my time and effort and was rewarded for it. For the first time in my life I felt helpless as far as finances go. I now was the keeper of this amazing little character and my days and nights were already spoken for. Friends of mine shipped kids off to Grandma's while they kept a day job. My Mom for more reasons than one, decided this was not how things were going to work. I admit, I was irked about it more than once. I thought, "Can't she see that we are struggling here?" She assured me that the time that she spent with us at home when we were little was time that meant more than the world. Because of that, I have really been able to form a relationship with him based on experience, listening and "knowing" him. I realize now, and have known for a while, exactly the reason she did what she did, and I am absolutely eternally grateful for that.

So now that he is four and big enough to look "school aged" we get questions when we go places. "Where do you go to school?" At first it was strange trying to explain to him that he would not be riding on the big yellow bus everyday. Now when people ask he says, "Oh we do homeschool!" Then more questions, "What curriculum are you using?" Well, here it is for you. All of the requirements and outlines for each year of learning are available for reading, studying and printing online. There are countless books about what your ____ grader should know. Between the library, our own book selection at home including a full set of encyclopedias, the grocery store, the produce market, the backyard, the piano, guitar, art supplies, imagination and last but certainly not least...the resources online, I have absolutely no desire to spend a dime on curriculum.

The world is our classroom. Here is an example of what I mean. I say to him "Let's bake some muffins!" Of course the response from him is an excited one, knowing how delicious muffins are. Here is a list of things that can be taught from one simple batch of muffins:
~ gathering items needed for the recipe
~ counting eggs and other items needed
~ recognizing the difference between flour and sugar, honey and oil, baking powder and baking soda by using phonics and pre-reading letter recognition
~ measuring and sometimes multiplying ingredients
~ big bigger biggest with all measuring tools
~ science and the way ingredients react with one another while mixing and during the baking process
~ experimenting with added ingredients and taking chances and discovering the results
~ preparation such as pre-heating the oven, greasing the pan and why you grease it
~ fire safety and how to do things in the kitchen so we don't get hurt
~ time awareness and learning to tell time on a clock
~ nutrition and healthy eating habits, what different ingredients are made of and how they react with our bodies
~ dividing the batter into the cups to make them even

Now I am sure that there are many more but these are the ones that first came to mind. I am not saying that each one of these are discussed every single time we bake a batch of muffins, but over the course of 4 or so batches, so much can be learned. You just have to take the time and be aware of what fits where. Even in clean up we can learn. The importance of cleanliness and bacteria and how it grows and why. Now these are the types of things I think of when I think of how homeschool works for us.

I am constantly exploring different ideas and ways that we can learn. Currently he is learning how to officially write his letters. He has known how to write many of them and will ask how to spell certain words and write them on his own. We have a pre-k workbook that we are working in right now that has proved to be very helpful. It sparks the imagination and has a way of progressing that he has taken to very easily. We have workbooks through grade 3 right now, so I look forward to using those in conjunction with our "world is our classroom" learning techniques.

When I first voiced my decision to homeschool I had very mixed reactions from family members. The biggest concern was interaction with other children and social skills. Trust me, this was a major concern of mine as well....until I learned a little more about what was actually available. He is in a gymnastics class once a week which has been a fabulous influence. I like it because he has the chance to interact with other kids, while learning how to compete with himself and learn from someone other than me. I remember the day that I realized it really clicked with him. I don't expect he will be entering the Olympics any time soon, he has more of a stunt man way of performance! It is good for his confidence and social skills, the teachers are amazing as well as a good mix of other children his age. This is only one of many social opportunities that he will experience. There are different sports groups, field trips, science fairs, theatrical groups, band, foreign language classes and countless others we will be exploring as time progresses. After years of discussions, the family members that were on the fence or slightly anti-homeschool, have come around. Some of them actually fully embracing it and excited and confident in my decision.

I'm not sure if anyone is still reading, but I can't tell you how much being able to get all of this out means to me. Going through and writing down my thoughts has made me confident again about my decisions. It has been an interesting journey so far and I am so excited for what the future brings us. Thanks for taking the time to read what homeschooling means to me. I hope that you can take with you what you want and make it work for you. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it is for us and you have the choice to decide what is right for your family. Make sure that you are true to yourself and that you do not let others influence you to go against what you feel in your gut. If you have any questions or comments, I would love for you to let me know! Good luck on your journey wherever it takes you!

How Exciting!

Just last night I reached one of my goals! A while back I was talking about putting my" items sold number goals" on my vision board. Well at the time I thought it would take forever to reach it but just last night I hit 265 sales! (Actually 266, which rocks!) I have now placed a new goal up there, it's kind of a fun one for me and my love (issue) with the number 3. "Total items sold on Etsy 333!" Woo hoo! As much fun as it was for me to hit and surpass my 265 goal, I am kind of hoping I hit this one straight on.