Friday, March 31, 2006

My bum hurts!

Today we had a good morning. We got up at about 6:30am and I started our morning music playing while we had our coffee and breakfast. The boys have adopted a small list of chores they do int he morning, basically making their bed, picking up their toys and opening up their curtains. So they did that while I unloaded the dishwasher and sipped my coffee. By 9am we were ready to get our day rolling with yoga and lessons. I am trying to find a good transition from our regular hanging out into our more focussed time. The yoga works really well, but Im researching ways to have a reminder of our need to focus when we are working on lessons. GM is doing great (ironically enough) it is GD who seems to float above the table in his own little dream bubble. Doodling on his papers and having to be brought back to focus time and time again. He is a dreamy boy, and I love and cherish that about him, but he does need a little more close guidance when it comes to getting through something without drifting off back to dreamland. I will keep reasearching ideas...

After lessons and lunch we went outside for a bit, the kids played on the playground and I made myself something to eat before having to go get ready for our training day at the Naturalist Center. Today GM and I decided to ride our bike to the museum, it isnt far at all, and we have a tandom bike so I dont have to worry about GM going off into traffic. However, MY BUM IS KILLING ME! What is up with that? As a child I could ride my bike all day everyday, and never did my bum hurt, my son was just laughing because his bum didnt hurt. So now here itis Friday evening, I had this great week and Im ready to relax a bit and get some things done around the house, and Im in such pain, its just hilarious. Everyone is teasing me and laughing when I complain about it. Geez, I guess 35 is right around the corner!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Kellen!

Today my younger brother turned eleven yars old!!! Congratulations on that, and on getting straight A's in your school!!! Your having a terrific year, and we are all so happy for you.

My brother is 24 years younger than me, and we are the only two. Yes he is only two years older than my oldest child, so our relationship is more like aunt and nephew. I wish we lived closer together so we could be closer.

We love you Kellen!!!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lessons Update for March 29th

In the woods upon a hill
A spotted fawn in standing still.
While crickets chirp
And birds abound,
The fawn wont move
Or make a sound.
We dont move either-
we dont dare,
But hold our breath
And top to stare

This is our poem for this week. At the end of the week after having shared it for four days, the boys will each draw a picture in their books to share what they thought of the poem. I always look forward to seeing what they had in mind.

We wrote in our journals, GM about the Naturalist Center and GD about being in a jungle with a lion (there goes two weeks of learning about how they live in grasslands and not jungles)...
They each did an activity in their Comprehension books
GM read another chapter of his book, and GD read a little book about animals
They each did their math lessons, Gavin worked on a page about the number 13 while GM did three pages of math including a subtraction practice sheet and a large addition one.
GM entered Hiawatha into his Main lesson book, and did a wonderful job. He is really taking pride in how this unit is coming together.

We are now getting ready to go to Great-Granma's for dinner and will return home tonight to read our nature story about Mr. Squirrel and play some more games of chess before calling it a day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lessons Update for March 28th

Today we got a late start because of a hectic morning and our rhythm being thrown off by important phone calls etc...

However we did well, especially considering it is a bonus day for us as we usually dont do home lessons on Tuesdays. Because of the morning groove being thrown off we decided to wait until after Dad left from his lunch visit to start our lessons. The kids had been outside playing and then had some lunch, so it felt as though we were in a good part of our day to begin. Similar to after breakfast. I have to giggle because it reminds me of double-dutch, you have to stand there for a minute and get the right rhythm going before jumping in, if you get it right, your off and running, if not the rope hits you in the face and your falling down onto concrete. LOL

GM (soon to be nine)
Wrote in his journal and drew a picture
Did two of his math lessons and an extra subtraction practice sheet
completed a reading comprehension activity
Put his entry for Finn MacCool into his Main Lesson Book
Listened to the story of Hiawatha
Read two chapters of his book he chose to read
Printed the pictures he took while we went on an African Safari at the zoo yest
and put them into his Safari guidebook we made

GD (soon to be seven)
Drew a picture in his journal, no words today which is unusual for him
Did one lesson for math about the number 12
Completed a reading comprehension activity
Printed his safari pictures, cut them out, and put them into his guidebook
Played with his numbers blocks making numbers greater than ten and smaller than
Read a short story he chose from our library
Listened to "Mr. Red Squirrel Comes To Live in The Forest"

ME (3.5 yrs old)
Played on the floor alongside of me
got the mail and looked at the pictures in the birthday express catalog
played on the playground
tried to count GD's wooden math blocks with him
Ran around the house having a personal cheese party :-)

We also went to get our veggies from our CSA Farm today, only to realize it isnt our week. We recently went to every other week, and I am too flakey to remember we were just there last week. I think we need to go back to every week, we miss it too much. We did at least get to see what lookedlike a Black Australorp Chicken which is one of the breeds we have, and the donkeys did come by the car to say hello and thanks for coming by.

Monday, March 27, 2006

African Animals and Updates

Our little Science club has been studying African Animals. It is my trun to lead a topic and this one seemed right up my alley, with the Africa background, and the wonderful newish Africa Exhibit at the local zoo. We have been having a wonderful time with it. In the first week the kids made large maps of Africa while learning about the three major biomes and the animals that call them home. It was realy fun and filled the entire two hours quite nicely. This week we went on an African Safari at the zoo. I made guidebooks that look like scrapbooks in that there is a lot of info about a certain animal along with its biome and other important info. the kids had to find that animal at the zoo and either sketch or photograph it. We just got home, and I think it went well. The best part was that we each got to work with our own families, we didnt have to move through the zoo as one group unit and deal with dynamics etc.. So my boys both really did learn a lot about the specific animals in the book. This was a nice bonus because typically your kids get the least when your the leader, accept of course the planning you do at home.

Our weekend was nice. I got the books finished for the zoo thing very early Saturday morning. I discovered that if I get up at 3am, I can get an amazing amount of stuff done before the family gets up. I was thrilled to have them done so we could enjoy our weekend. My husband built the greenhouse while I painted the chicken coop and the kids played on the playground and around the yard. Saturday evening we had a date night which included a wonderful dinner out and tickets to see MacBeth. Well the dinner was incredible and the show was terrible!!! We (and about 1/3 of the audience) left at the intermission. I have never done that before. I will stay just out of respect for the players, but this was truly unbearable. Plus the second act was 75 minutes long, and we knew that there was no way we could sit through that.

GM and I had a great Friday afternoon, we went and did our training at the Naturalist Center and were able to get two of our topics signed off on, so that was good. After our training we went shopping at the warehouse store and finished out our evening with a nice dinner, just the two of us. We had so much fun, we laughed and chatted about stuff. I really enjoyed the afternoon and evening with him. It is such a treat to get time alone with any of them.

Sunday morning we were invited to breakfast at a friends house, and we ended up visiting and hanging out until almost 2 in the afternoon. The kids had a lot of fun and we always enjoy getting to visit with them. When we got home I had my first conference call with Beth Sutton and some other Enki-using homeschool Mothers. It was nice to discuss some of the things we are doing, or struggling with. We basically discussed rhythm, transitions, chatty talkers, and allergies and how they can effect a child's learning. It was really great, and Im looking forward to our conference call next month. We enjoyed a calm and relaxing Sunday evening and I even went to bed at about 9pm. The kids were tired too and went down just before I did. Dad had to stay up to catch up on his March Madness, but even he was tired earlier than usual. I guess when we move the clocks we will all be exhausted by 8pm. :-)

Today we are home because our Science class at the museum is canceled due to Spring Break Camps they do during the public school's break time. Im thrilled to have the day at home and Im looking forward to a nice quiet day, along with a bonus lessons day. Usually we do three per week, but we can do four this week with the extra day at home. Im getting excited about the progress they are making and looking forward to the coming of summer. Mainly because of the clubs and classes ending, not because we dont love them, we do, but the having to run is a bit much for us most weeks.

I will give a lessons update later today, just because I havent in quite some time. :-)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Too much, or too little, trying to find balance

We seem to undulate between feeling that we are doing too much, and feeling that we are doing too little. Trying to find that balanced rhythm between the two is really a constant struggle for me. I can observe the kids needing more time at home, and then observe them needing to reach out and expand into new things. They fluctuate, as do I. Currently we are a bit busy, opportunities to do things and participate in classes have come up and they are all very much enjoyed and loved by the kids, however I feel it is too much. Our homelife suffers a bit when we are running about too much. This morning my husband laughed when I was complaining that we have to be "somewhere" everyday this week. Including this evening when we have dinner at Great-Grandma's house. He asked me if simply having to leave the house counted as having to be somewhere, I thought, well yeah!! Having to be somewhere means that we have this thing hanging out there that I have to build our day around. It means that if we have to be at Grandma's by 4:30pm that I have to begin the getting ready to go dance at about 2:30 or 3:00 at the latest. Including showers and baths, finding outfits, being sure I have last weeks tupperware to return to her (may mean I have to do dishes) helping the kids choose something to bring to play with their cousins and getting out the door by 4:00pm. Its not a big deal, but it is an outing, and it counts. I had to laugh when he asked me that, because I could see the confusion on his face. I remember when going somewhere meant grabbing my keys and running a brush through my hair too, but that is not the case right now. I feel like I'm complaining, and I'm really not, Im just clarifying that getting four people ready for dinner at Grandma's can certainly be an event in itself.
Other than that this has been a busy time for us, we started back with Science Club this week, and I did our African Animals unit, which I think went really well. Tuesday we had Science at Explora, which the boys love and while it sounds like we are doing science twice a week, and basically we are, they are sooooo different. One is a coop of people who the kids enjoy seeing and that has grown into our sort of support system. We get to visit other families and participate in something that is very much created and nurtured by its members, very different from the very schoolie science classes we do on Tuesday. They are really great because they are at the science museum, and they have such wonderful resources that I cant possibly create in my home. The kids curiosity and excitement about it is thrilling and they are definitely feeding a different interest there than they are on Mondays. Normally that is our week, we are out on Monday and Tuesday mornings and then home for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Then comes our second portion of the week where we have lessons each morning (Wed, Thurs, and Fri). With Wednesday we try to bake something to take to Grandma's to share and we head over for dinner with the extended family. This leaves us Thursdays as our home day (ugh I would rather be having only one outing day). However this week we have tickets to the theatre so we will be out yet again!!! Fridays are usually nice and mellow with my husband working a half day and our trying to get our lessons done before spending time cleaning the house up from the week and preparing for our weekend. BUT, for the past few weeks, and a few more to come, GM and I have training at the museum all afternoon until dinner time. We love it so much and have a terrific time together, but again, we are out of the house.
So why are we doing all this stuff, well I dont know, it just evolved. We initially only had Science Club once a week and then some Tuesday afternoons we would go to the park to meet friends and run around a bit. But then this opportunity came up for the classes at Explora, GM is a science fan, and he loves Explora more than I can explain, he always wants to go, and rarely wants to leave. It is such a great thing for them both, that well.... we signed up. Its fourteen weeks long. I NEVER sign up for things that last more than 6 weeks, its a number I found works for us, but again, such a good opportunity...
Great-Grandma's for dinner, well I mean isnt it obvious how great this is for my kids to be a part of a weekly dinner with extended family, and feeling such a part of something greater than just our nuclear family? Cant pass up that one!
That leaves Friday Trainings as the other ongoing thing. GM is flourishing with this, and literally wakes up excited to go in the morning. We both love it.

So, where do I find the balance? How can I bring my homeschool family back HOME?? How do I learn to forsee the opportunities that may arise and not get over committed in the beginning of the year. Each of these "outings" feeds a different part of the kids lives, some more for GM some more for GD, but where to trim and get back to balanced, I just dont know?

Of course if I was planning things I would have the outings be at the end of the week, and in the afternoons only. Then we could have a regular morning routine, and start our days with a nice rhythm that could energize us and help us maintain a sence of balance. I would also have things be every other week, so we could have home based weeks and weeks where we are out and about more often. But I dont plan all these things. I plan Roots and Shoots and it is twice a month in the afternoon.

Im so looking forward to summer when we can be home or move in a more fluid way through our days. I really regret feeling this sence of constantly trying to fit our home life in between obligations. I have set out for it to be the opposite, yet somehow we are running about at least four times a week. Its just too much. This summer GM will have a Gardening class every-other week and he and I will volunteer every-other week as well at the Naturalist Center. I will time them to be on the same week, so we can camp and travel on the the other weekends. We will be doing a lot of work on the house and that is all. We wont be signing up for anything else accept maybe things that are one time events. An owl lecture at the Nature Center or a hike with our Roots & Shoots group to view some local animals in the mountains.

Now to only figure out how to avoid this situation next year. Where do I cut the activites? How do I balance our time at home with our excitement over an opportunity?

In just a couple of weeks we will be finished with our Naturalist Center training, and we will only have something out of the house three times a week (including Grandma's). Also I can opt out of one of the upcoming units at our Science Club. They are all so cool, but I will see what the kids are interested in first. Maybe I just need to allow myself to be more picky and not worry so much about feeling obligated to go. That is the story of my life. Constantly trying to balance a sence of obligation with a sence of what is right for me. Homeschooling sure is a great way to work through your own crap!! :-)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

NPR Radio Interview

So yesterday we got a message from my father to listen to an interview that was done on NPR radio where a 12 year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome interviewed his mother. Now, for some reason I dont do well with things like this. I am super positive and very engrossed in our situation and in what we are doing within our own family. I don't like to hear or watch what others have going on because it somehow muddies the water for me. It is hard to communicate what I mean, because it is so raw, but lets just say I was very hesitant to listen to it. I had my husband listen to it first to be sure it wasnt negative or too scewed in a particular direction. He said it was nice and I went ahead and listened to the four minute interview myself. Of course I cried and cried. I havent ever felt depressed or all sad about our family and our journey with autism or aspergers, it has always been very positive. We as a family really choose to focus on the large amount of positive things that come with autism, and to guide and support the weakness that comes with the package. We have always viewed it that our child is especially blessed and as with all things, with blessings come responsibilities and in this society the social aspects of autism are culturally challenging and so we work our way through it.
But, I can not listen to a 12 year old boy ask his mother if he has been a disappointment, or has lived up to her expectations, or why it seems that everyone likes his little sister more. It crushes my heart. He was so articulate and positive and he sounded so intelligent and happy. His mother seemed very in tune with him and you could hear her love and support in her voice, but still it made me cry.
Check out the interview here, it is really good, and really short.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Naturalist Center Docent Training

I am very proud to share that GM and I began our training at the Naturist Center at the local Natural History Museum. He did great and really enjoyed himself. I was thrilled and had a terrific time too. This is a great program where homeschooled children can act as a volunteer at the museum in the naturalist center. They first undergo a training session that runs for six weeks (approximately) where they learn about all the animals and equipment in the center. After we complete that we will then have a shift we work in the Naturalist Center and we get to answer questions, and givelittle talks about the different things in there. It will be such a great thing for GM and I know I will really enjoy it too. We already did our microscopes study and now we are working on our spiders and insects unit. Im hoping we can get through it before we go to our training day again this week. I will take a camera next week to post a picture of GM in his apron, yeah, Im an nerd!!!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Weekly wrap-up and more new music...

Well, I started going a little nuts with the music yesterday. I havent done it in a while so I was overdue for some fresh music. You have to remember that my ipod is also my motivation machine for housework, which is essential for everything else in our lives. So basically I see having my ipod filled with great music as a duty to my family. Slacking off on that is just not okay! :-)

So here goes...
MORE of The Beautiful Girls (great timeless music)
MORE of Beth Orton
Ludacris (an old fav who keeps me moving)
Edwin McCain
Hot Buttered Rum (some good high-altitude bluegrass)
MORE Indigo Girls
Joe Purdy
John Hiatt
The Wood Brothers (you can FEEL the stand-Up Bass, its wonderful)
So as for our week. Well we have had a nice quiet and relaxing week around here. It has all been about the chickens and taking care of them. When we got them it was very warm out and keeping their temperature between 90 and 95 degrees wasnt an issue. Well, we had a cold snap and so it became quite a big deal to maintain their temperature. We ended up moving them inside our bathroom so they would survive the night. The temperature is only a big deal while they are young, later they can withstand almost any temperature, and certainly any that the southwest would present them.

Our science club was doing a mini-unit on Semiconductors, which sounds really cool, but a bit beyond my kids right now. So I thought it would be a good time to take a little break and not attend for these two weeks. It was nice being home on a Monday, I usually love Mondays, they are so fresh and new. Having to load up and run each week on Monday morning really does throw me off my usual groove, however it is good to start the week off with something that gets us out and about. I actually wish it was the opposite, I wish we were home on Mon, Tues, Wed and had our outings on Thursday and Friday. But, you cant make everything fit perfectly so this is how we roll now. :-)

Tuesday we had Science at the local museum, and the kids had a great time exploring magnets (GD) and kaleidoscopes (GM). ME is getting harder to maintain in her stroller during the class time. She wants to be a part of it so bad. I may end up having to take her to the toddler space and letting her play a bit to get her geebies out. We had to go to the Organic Farm we belong too to pick up our veggies for the week, so we checked out their nesting boxes so we had an idea of what to do in our coop. It was fun to go inside the chicken coop there. It is really big and the hens were so funny. I cant believe how big these tiny little ladies will get.

Wednesday we had some friends over to see the chicks and to visit for a couple hours. It was nice, but we realized it was getting too cold for them in the garage and had to make new arrangements for them in the house. A nice dinner at Great-Grandma's rounded out our day and a quiet evening at home.

Thursday we decided to snuggle up and watch movies. It is really windy and cold and gray outside. A RARE accurance here. We didnt get any of our snow days we had in Virginia, so we decided to make Thursday our snow day. I have always thought of snow days as a gift from mother nature and a forced reminder of what is important. I remember being little and hoping for snow so our life could slow down and I could spend some time with my Mom. So now I treasure those days. Everything stops and plans go to the pot, and you just hang out together. Its the best!!! So we had a desert snowday. It was great.

Today we are cleaning the house, and we are cleaning out the brooder box for the birds. This afternoon GM and I begin our training at the Naturalist Center at our Natural History Museum here in town. We are really looking forward to it. GM woke up this morning and said he was "so excited" to start his trianing. This is huge for him. He is usually much more quiet about his emotions on things like that. So I know he really is looking forward to it. Im looking forward to the time alone with him. I can hardly imagine having three hours with him, just the two of us. It will be fun and good for both of us.

Our weekend will be busy (of course) as we will be working on the yard, attending a family birthday party, and helping some friends with their chicken coop. So it will be fun, a lot of work, and fun again.

My goal is to get things together for a quiet Sunday evening at home. I can see how starting our Monday morning off with a clean house, and a clear mind can really help our week start off right. We will do lessons on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday of next week. GM will work on our next hero Finn MacCool. We will also continue to plan our garden and work on getting our seeds planted in the greenhouse. We have some tomatoes to plant that have been on the International Space Station out in space. We are a part of a study to determine how space effects the seeds and their germination. We will start our study using the ISS seeds and the placebo seeds. It will be fun. I will write more on that soon. :-)

Okay, Im off to jam with my iPod and get some stuff done around here. Have a great Weekend!!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Great Week for New Music

This was a great week for new music. Since the last time I posted my iPod playlist I have added a few new friends. Here goes...

Keller Williams
Keller Williams & The Keels (Great Sunday morning coffee tunes)
MORE Animal Liberation Orchestra (Cant get enough)
Jack Johnson's new Curious George Recordings
MORE Nickel Creek (still adding to my good bluegrass coffee tunes)
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (oh yeah, thats right!)
Holly Figueroa
Holly Williams
Inara George
Jane Monheit
Kasey Chambers
The Little Willies
Sarah Harmer
Sonya Kitchell
Tina Dico
NEW Van Morrison (wonderful)
Katie Melua

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The chickens are here!!

What an exciting weekend we had. We were able to clear the area the coop is going in, and to coordinate with some terrific friends who hooked us up with their Grandma who was looking to get rid of her old, (very old) coop for free. It was terrific. I love the coop so much, it is so cute and fits in here so nicely. It has a tin roof and is very simple. We will paint it and spruce it up for the girls. I already have plans.

So the hatchery we were going to order from (who have great birds) has a minimum order of 25. We only want half of that and even when trying to combine with other people, we couldnt get enough. So we decided to shop around here locally and see what we could come up with. My first priority was that they be nice. Of course I want good layers, but as it is our first experience and the kids are so young, I wanted them to be friendly and tame. So here is what we have. 3 barred rocks

(Gavin's favorite because they look like baby penguins) he named them Renji, Penguino, and Kevin. 2 Buff Orpingtons (Daisy and buttercup), 3 Rhode Island Reds (Ruby, Scarlet and ?), 2 Americana (Martha and ?), 2 Black Australorps (Frida and ?).

GM loves them so much, the other two think they are great, and want to love them and hold them, but GM is really taking great care of them. He seems to be tuned into the responsibility of it and is truly enjoying it. He is keeping track of their temperature and coming up with great ideas for how to keep it at the 92 degrees. We got up to check them a coupletimes in the night and their temperature was holding within about 5 degrees of the target, so that was pretty good. Im a little worried about a few cold nights we have coming up. We have them in a brooder box we made in our garage, but still if the temperatures get too low it will get quite cold in there. We may have to move them into our furnace room for a night or two if the box isnt holding the right temp. We'll see.

Today we are going to clean up the house, and head out to Science class at the museum. After that it is back home to care for our baby birds, and clean out the inside of the coop. Maybe we can even start some painting, we'll have to see how it goes.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Break Days, and Happy Birthday Kip!

With such a busy Monday and Tuesday, we have decided to take a little break for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. So no lessons this week. This doesnt mean no learning, just that we are taking a little break from the formal lessons part. We havent had a three day break since the beginning of January, so we are tired and ready for some relaxed days. I think it is from working so hard on the weekend, we havent been getting that simple time in our days.

Tuesday we went to our Science Class at the local museum and with the weather being so nice, the kids and I decided to head to the zoo for lunch and to visit the animals on one of the first really warm days of the year. It turned out to be a nice relaxing afternoon, and we each got to visit the animals we like without feeling rushed or distracted. Although tiring, it was a great idea and Im glad we did it.

Wednesday we just stayed home and sort of relaxed a bit. The kids hung out and I tried to get some things done around the house, although quite unsuccessfully. I have no idea what I did, but somehow the evening came and it seemed nothing was done. :-) That often happens to me.

This was also my step-father's birthday! I hope he had a great day and that he doesnt get mad at our day late phone call of well-wishes. I was foolishly trying to wait until after dinner at Grandma's house and of course when we got home I forgot. When will I learn, a message on the answering machine is better than no call even with the best of intentions!!! I even made him a nice birthday mix cd, and of course didnt mail it. At some point my intention and my ability will come together and I will be a pretty cool person. For now though Im mainly a well-intentioned flake.

On a better, less flakey note, we are all set to start our training (GM and I) at the Natural History Museum. GM is going to work in the Naturalist Center (with me) as a volunteer guide. He will help talk to families who come in and want to learn about the animals and various experiments in the center. We have been wanting to start this since August, but finding coordination between the center and our babysitting needs was difficult. However, we are set now and should start next week. This will be really cool for GM and it is something he is really looking forward too. When in college I studied Anthropology and African Art, and my intention was to work with museums on improving opportunities for children to participate in museums and to develop programs to expand the educational outreach of museums. Back then, a docent led tour was about it. Now things have really improved, museums are doing more and more to really touch and connect the museum experience with children. This is one example. Homeschooled kids who are over 7 can become volunteers in the museum. This is the first step in a long line of opportunities the museum offers children to be involved. Im thrilled for GM to be a part of it. Eventually GD will do it too, but he is not mature enough nor interested at this time.

Today I believe I will try to get the house together (again) and build my little greenhouse. That will help our weekend to be more productive and hopefully we will be able to get the garden beds and chicken area done. That would be HUGE!!!