Kids

As usual, things are busy in the World of Weeks.

The girls both had orthodontist visits.

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Naomi got a mold taken of her mouth so they can make her an expander.  She just doesn’t have enough room for her teeth to come in.  Hopefully this will prevent the need for braces, although it’s more likely that it will simply reduce the amount of time she’ll need to wear braces, which won’t be needed for a few more years.  She still has several teeth to lose.

 

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Lili, on the other hand, did get braces on her top teeth.  She’s had minimal problems and is taking very good care of her teeth so far.  She will only need to wear them 12-16 months.

 

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Little Bit is growing and changing daily.  She is really working hard on holding her head up and is beginning to use her legs more.  She is not fond of tummy time, but she needs to work on those core muscles.

She is no long swimming in the newborn outfits.  In fact, she fills them out quite nicely.  It won’t be long until they will be put away and saved for other foster babies we might have in the future.

 

We took a trip to a local farm with our homeschool co-op.  The girls fed a long-horn bull, cows, calves, llama, goats, rabbits and chicken.  We were entertained by the llama chasing the calves.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day on the farm.

We’re beginning to gear up for the holidays now.  It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 8 weeks away.  Seems like not so long ago we were opening Christmas presents and now we’re planning again.

 

 

Education Thru Travel

Pretty much everything we do provides a learning opportunity for the girls.  So when we plan travel, we like to make sure it’s something we will all enjoy.

In the past, we have made our travel plans and then simply looked forward to what was in store.  This time I’ve decided to change it up a bit and will have the girls work on some projects leading up to travel time.

For those who have been following my blog since the beginning of the year, you are aware that one of our favorite ways to travel is by boat.  To be exact, by cruise ship.

During our cruise in February, we booked two more cruises.  Since then, hubby and I have spent quite a bit of time discussing our plans and decided to change them completely.

No, this doesn’t mean we’ve cancelled the cruises.  That would be crazy!!!!!

We simply changed the cruises.

Both cruises will be to the Caribbean, which is my favorite winter destination.

This winter we will be traveling again on Allure of the Seas.

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This time though we’ll be heading to Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico.

The following winter we will be on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Symphony of the Seas.

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She is so new in fact, that she is still being built and won’t sail until Spring, 2018.  Cruises will begin in Mediterranean before she sails to the U.S. in October, 2018.

On Symphony we’ll visit St. Kitts, St. Thomas and the Bahamas.

So what kinds of things can the girls be learning between now and our cruises?

  1.  How cruise ships are built?
  2.  History and facts on each of the islands we will be visiting.
  3.  Caribbean sea life.
  4.  Caribbean geography.

The possibilities are endless.

 

 

Homeschooling Made Easier

When hubby and I discussed the possibility that we might be moving out of Illinois to Texas, one of the first things I did was research homeschooling.  Illinois was (and still is) a very homeschool friendly state.  The last thing I wanted to do was move to a state that would be problematic for our homeschool family.

Fortunately, Texas is also a homeschool friendly state, but I’ve discovered that homeschooling is made easier living in Texas (specifically the DFW area).

The number of options for homeschoolers is almost overwhelming.  There are co-ops, groups, classes, field trips, etc. specifically for homeschoolers.

The girls and I recently took advantage of a class/field trip opportunity at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center.    I recently learned about the center from another FB homeschool group and discovered they host a monthly homeschool day.  The cost is quite reasonable and it was only a 40 minute drive (would have been shorter without traffic).

In the morning, they taught the kids about adaptation, most specifically bird adaptation.

The kids were asked to identify bird feet and discuss why they might be shaped the way they are.

They were then presented with some bird wings and asked to identify the wings.  They discussed the shape and span of the wings and how the birds adapt to the environment they live in.

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We also examined a couple of bird nests before moving on to meet two turtles – one a land turtle and the other a water turtle.  Again, we examined their feet and their bodies to learn more about how they have adapted to their environments.

Following the class on adaptation, the kids participated in a craft project, each creating their own bird to take home.

Then we were off on a hike to learn more.

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Along the way we met a new friend.

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We just stayed out of his way and he stayed out of ours.  Overall, a friendly meeting.

Along the way, we stopped and learned about some of the fungi growing on the downed trees.  We saw, what looked like a fox den.  Our hike also included a scavenger hunt for things like butterflies, snails, tree limbs shaped like the letter Y, pink or purple flowers, etc.

We hiked about a 1/2 mile up the canyon and this was our view.

Then we headed back down the canyon to have lunch.

The afternoon class was how to identify trees using a Dichotomous Key.  We broke up into small teams to identify marked trees around the center.

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Like I said, Dogwood Canyon is just one of many homeschool opportunities around the DFW area.  Several libraries host different homeschool programs.  Local museums offer homeschool classes.  Some local amusement parks also offer homeschool specific events.  For a matter-of-fact, the girls and I plan to participate in a couple different ones next month.

Six Flags over Texas has a Homeschool Day coming up which includes a Math, Physics and/or Texas History workbooks.

Heritage Farmstead Museum has an upcoming Homeschool Day.

Making a major move can certainly be challenging, so I feel fortunate that we moved to an area which provides so many more homeschool opportunities than we had before.

 

 

 

Homeschool Dreams

Lili loves studying history.  Naomi is just okay studying history, but her study of the fall of Rome and the rise of the Renaissance seems to capture her interest a little more.

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Lili is studying Victoria’s Empire currently, and their studies makes planning a European vacation more appealing than ever.

My homeschooling dream has been some book study at home, with travel to help the girls better understand what they have learned.  So completing our history studies this year followed by a trip to visit some of the places they have been learning about will help fulfill my home school dream.

New Year, New Curriculum

Every once in awhile, I feel it is necessary to try some new curriculum.  Since we’re in the new year, I figured there is no time like the present.

Honestly, the curriculum isn’t new to us.  We tried it a couple years ago, but for personal reasons, decided to go back to what we were using before.  Still, I was very impressed with this curriculum and felt we should give it another go.  So a few weeks ago I purchased “Build Your Library.”

I have one who is turning into a real history buff and I especially liked the history aspects of this program.  I also like all the reading involved.  There is, after all, a reason the program is called “Build Your Library.”

We are just now on Week 1 and so far I have one that is following the program and one who is trying to avoid it at all costs.  “Oy vey!”  We’ll see how it goes.

As we move along, I’ll share my thoughts on this curriculum and how my kids are or are not liking it.  For now, here is where we are:

For history, Naomi will be learning about the Middle Ages and I am excited about learning more right alongside her.

Her literature is “The Trumpet of the Swan.”

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Sadly, I don’t think I’ve ever read this book, so reading along with her will be a treat for me as well.

Lili will be learning about the Modern World in her history program.

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Her literature right now is “Alice in Wonderland”

and she is also reading a book called, “The Capture.”

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Both of the girls will have Science, Language Arts, Poetry and Geography as part of the program.  I’ve also incorporated some of their original curriculum which dive a little deeper into Language Arts, Vocabulary and Spelling.  Of course they will also continue their original Math curriculum.

So far, the biggest complaint I’m getting from the girls, is about the writing portion or the program.  Neither of them are necessarily fond of writing.  However, it’s not a lot of writing and will be good for them.

We’ve moved into this slowly, but as time goes on, we’ll get into a better rhythm.

 

 

Teach Them to Be Life-Long Learners

I could create a pretty long list of what I love about homeschooling.  However, this post is specific about today.

Monday mornings we have started going to the park for a couple of hours of play.  While I would love to do this on a daily basis, Mondays are the only day of the week where we typically don’t have anything else going on.  So we head to the park, come home, have lunch, then do school work.

Most days, the girls get thru their school work within a couple of hours.  Some days it take longer.  Then there are days like today.  One struggles and her anxiety gets the best of her.  The other just can’t stay focused.  We try to push thru, but the truth is, neither of the girls can learn well under these circumstances.

Instead of forcing either of them to push thru, we simply ended our day.

As adults, we go thru the same thing.  We can’t focus on work.  We’re feeling stress about work or something outside work that doesn’t allow us to be as productive as we need to be.  We’re tired.  We’re bored.  We need a break.  We need a vacation.

Kids aren’t any different, except they aren’t physically, mentally or emotionally mature enough to push thru.  Sometimes, what they really need is a day to unwind.  They need time to focus on something else.  In some cases, they need more physical activity to shake off the cobwebs.  Many times, they need to ignore the books and learn by being outside.  Maybe they need to go to a museum or the zoo.  Maybe they need to paint or draw or play a board game.

Apparently, living in Texas means that on October 17th, it’s near 90 degrees.  The girls completed as much school work as their bodies and minds would allow and are now very happily swimming and playing in the pool.  They weren’t forced to doing more than they were capable of doing today and I’m not in the least bit worried that they’ll fall behind as a result.  After all, tomorrow is a new day and after a day of additional exercise and hopefully a good night of sleep, they will likely be in a much better place to focus and learn.  If not, we’ll switch it up and doing something more fun and exciting.  Regardless, they still be learning, but they’ll be learning because their minds and bodies are where they need to be to learn.

Flexibility and understanding is what each of them needs to be successful.  After all, my role in all of this is to teach them how to become life-long learners.  That doesn’t require sitting at a table or desk with their noses in book.

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Where Does Your Garden Grow

I’m thinking a Botany class should be part of our homeschool program this year 😉

 

No soil necessary.  It’s the hallmark of hydroponic gardening, plants held in place while their roots dangle in nourishing water.

IKEA is using is mass marketing capabilities to bring this, newly miniaturized, technology to the masses. 

It is with the idea that it should be affordable to grow your own food.  An aspiring gardener can suit up and get to it, even in a high-rise apartment building, for around $50.

The system is a basic grow tray with small pods to put your seeds in.  Once seeded, keep an eye on the water level and make sure they get enough light.  You’ll have veggies soon.

One of the scientists that worked with IKEA to help create the hydroponic system is Helena Karlén, lecturer at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.  She reveals the challenge “to make growing plants in a hydroponic system simple, so that anyone could succeed,” adding, “we were also very interested, not only that they grow, but also the taste… they should taste good, very good actually.”

Vertically farming vegetables and living in the city just got synergistic on the cheap.

**Published – Beta Minds**

Teachers Want Kids to Be Happy

I suppose this post could be seen as happy and uplifting about as easily as it could be seen as frustrating.  After all, I’m comparing schools in one country to schools in another.  However, as a homeschool mom, I find this information fascinating and motivating.  Instead of worrying so much about how much time my girls spend with their noses in the books, I’m motivated to provide them more time to play and explore.

 

A quick search provided even more positive information about Finland’s school system.

Like an article published by Education Week teacher, which you can read here.

Or an article published by NPR you can read here.

Scholastic also published an article you can read here.

I found article after article that talked about the success of Finland schools and how much can be learned from that model.  A model that I will strive to emulate as best I can in our homeschool environment.

Good job Finland!!!

 

RV Dreaming and Planning

Later this month we will be heading up to Chicago to attend the Chicago RV and Camping show.  This is a huge RV event in Illinois and it will give us the opportunity to take a close look at some of the RV’s that interest us.

We have discussed and considered pretty much every type of RV . . . . .

A pop-up camper.

A travel trailer

5th wheel
Class C

Class A

Choosing the right RV means knowing how you will use it.  For us that will mean primarily weekend camping trips with a couple longer trips during the year, as well as a couple longer trips with just me and the kids.

Some of those weekend trips will include visits to see our oldest son who will join us for the day at the campground.   With 2 adults, 4 kids and 3 dogs as well as a guest or 2 or 3 from time-to-time, having enough room is important to us.

A pop-up and a small travel trailer could work for us in some cases, but on those rainy and/or stormy camping days, we will quickly begin to feel claustrophobic.  Because we don’t have a vehicle that will tow anything more than a pop-up or small travel trailer, we can rule out a 5th wheel as well as mid to large size travel trailers.

Another consideration is homeschooling.  I do year round school with the girls and RV travel is wonderful for the homeschool family.  Having a comfortable way to travel and do school work, especially during those longer cross-country trips is important to us.  A Class C or Class A would make a wonderful mobile classroom providing us with the comfort and room we need.  With seatbelts at the RV kitchen table, the girls can easily complete their work so when we reach our destination we are ready to explore and enjoy our camping experience.

While we think we already know what we want, the RV show should help us to solidify our decision and hopefully sometime in the next 8 weeks, I will be able to share pictures of our new home on wheels.

 

Some Homeschool Etiquette

by Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 – Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is — and it is — it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 – Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 – Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 – Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 – If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.

6 – Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 – We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 – Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 – Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 – We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 – Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 – If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 – Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and icky.

14 – Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 – Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 – Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 – Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 – If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 – Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 – Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 – Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.

22 – Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 – Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 – Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 – Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!