Monday, January 29, 2007

First Family Stitches

Well, it happened. That day you know will come when you are holding that little bundle in your arms but you try to not think about it. That first big boo-boo that sends you off to the hospital, covered in blood and someone is coming away with stitches. It turns out that a head wound can cause quite a bit of bleeding!

All is well, our GD is home and resting and enjoying a nice ice cream treat for his trauma. He was so brave and strong, and didnt move at all during the stitches. He had a CT Scan and all came back looking good.

It made for quite an adventurous afternoon. I hope our last for quite some time!!!

Roots & Shoots Watermelon Mountain Animal Refuge Trip

Yesterday was a nice day, but very busy. We woke up and got ourselves out the door by 9:15am to head way north to the Watermelon Mountain Ranch Animal Refuge. A wonderful no-kill shelter that houses many dogs, cats and even rabbits. They have a nice facility that is growing and serving the community. The kids each brought some stuff to donate from the refuge's wish list and the volunteers were kind enough to take the kids on a tour of the facility and share with them some of the important work that they do. It was great to see the kids get so excited to see the animals and especially some of the tiny guys who's faces lit up when they got to touch a cat or see a newborn puppy. It was a nice morning.

We then went to a friend's house to visit. They live way out there so it worked out really well to tie the two together. The kids had a blast and I got to hold a baby for most of the afternoon. :-)

Then off to Grandma's for dinner. It was a really full day, but a lot of fun!!!!

Scientist Fair was great

Our Science Coop Scientist Fair was a great success today. There were about thirteen scientists profiled and presented by the children and everyone really seemed to have a good time. We had Galileo, Jane Goodall, Goddard, Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver and Louis Pasteur among others. The boys did a nice job with their projects and GD even presented his to the group. He was very proud of his project and enthusiastic about Carver. He is still just amazed that he made more than 300 different things out of peanuts. :-)

We then went to GM's Science Class at the museum and he had a great time learning abut Polymers while the rest of us played with the experiments in the museum. GM and GD are forming a nice friendship with two other boys who are new to homeschooling and whose family we have known for years. So that is nice too. Im glad to see them branching out a bit and expanding their circle of friends.

Im afraid the winter colds have hit our family even giving ME walking pneumonia last week, plus an ear infection. I felt really bad for her, but, as always, she was a trooper and is on the mend. We are having one of those years where you gt everything that comes down the lane. It seems like we get that way every few years. This year I think it has a lot to do with the construction in our home, the rise in fumes and dust and the exhaustion of the chaos. Once our systems were worn down by that, we didnt stand a chance. Lets hope it is better next year.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Living the good life...

I'm really overwhelmed today by how lucky I am to have this life. I can not even express how at peace I feel raising my kids, in love with my husband and homeschooling our family. I know it is Corny and your not really supposed to say it, but I simply cant imagine my life being any different. I cherish the privilege of being able to stay home and be a mother to my family each and every day. I love that I can choose what we learn about and how. So many people say "oh you homeschool, I always thought about it, but I just could never do it" and I am realizing that I could never NOT do it. It would be unbelievably difficult for me to consider sending my kids to school. For me that is worse than the little extra effort of homeschooling them.

We have struggled and dealt with issues of health and finances in our almost eleven years of marriage, but we have always had the luxury of one another and the security that comes with that. We have always made decisions, including really difficult ones with our family as the center of the vision. I really feel like these simple days are the real heaven in life. Listening to them running all over the house, chatting under the covers to one another at night, laughing and screaming. Watching my husband grow from a young guy to a responsible man who is the leader and the strength that I always knew he would be. All of it is just glorious and, for me, it is perfection.

I am a very lucky woman, living the life I have always dreamed of. It is simple and common, but that is part of the beauty. I appreciate it and I am very grateful.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cryptids, Chemistry and Robotics!

Today was a big science day for us. We finished up our unit on Cryptozoology with our science coop and the kids all got to make their own cryptids and take pictures of them in scale that will be very funny once developed. Of course i forgot my camera, so I'm lame. But a friend has them all and we will see them next week I'm sure.

After a couple hours of that we headed to the science museum for a fun class on chemical reactions. Definitely a favorite subject for GM. This was all wrapped up with an hour long LEGO Robotics Lab session which lets just say was a big hit!!!

It was a great day, although ME seems to be coming down with a cough. She is taking it easy and resting now while the boys have their quiet time.

Our electrician is coming tonight to finish up the garage (crossing my fingers) and then we will just chill out for the evening. The boys do have some reading to do, but other than that we aren't doing lessons today.

I am looking forward to a show on TLC tonight called Kids by the Dozen. I am so fascinated by people with a huge family. I love watching the logistics of it all. I don't even know why, but I really get into it. The only problem is that it makes me want more kids. LOL

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver

Our Science Coop is having our annual "To Know a Scientist" fair at the end of January. A date that with our travels has managed to sneak up on us at a rapid pace. Initially I was going to have the boys choose their own scientist. Last year GM did his Grandma who is still a working Chemist, and GD was too young to participate. It was a great project and I loved how it helped him learn about what it is that Grandma does. However, this year, as he crosses over from a grade three setup to more of a grade four, I want him to have to read a biography and write about someone who has had a larger impact on our culture and society. So I gave him the choice of a few, and he chose Thomas Edison. He began reading The Childhood Biography of Thomas Edison and we went to the library where we found a few other books to use in his research.

The Importance of Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison A First Biography
Lifetimes Thomas Edison

He is pretty interested in it and has done a good job digging into the reading. This is his third chapter book for the month, which I am over the moon about! Anyway, this will be a first big project that we have decided to take seriously and I'm excited to see how it progresses!

GD is doing George Washington Carver, mainly because he loves peanut butter. :-) He has a nice short biography to read and we will work on his project presentation portion together. The kids don't necessarily have to present their projects, but usually they get asked a lot of questions, so it is good to be fully ready. He seems pretty happy with it and comfortable with the scope of things. Last fall he did his science fair project on how fast he could eat brownies with different toppings and it went really well. He learned a lot about the process and had fun telling his friends about how he got to eat brownies. :-)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Family Getaway... Taos, NM to Denver, CO

A few months ago we planned a short family weekend getaway to Taos, NM. I had never been and the kids were definitely missing the snow of the east coast. So we found a place up in Taos Ski Valley where snow would be a guarantee and where after all the chaos of our lives under construction, we could finally have some really great family time together.

We went up to Taos on Friday evening, in the midst of what was supposed to be a HUGE snow and ice storm. Luckily we checked it out and nothing too bad was to hit Taos until after dark, and mostly on Saturday. So off we went.

Taos was adorable, well what I got to see as we drove past it on our way to the mountain. I really want to go back there and explore in the spring or fall when we can shop and eat and play some more.

We got to our cabin just after dark and realized that it was really far from anything except the store that it sat directly behind. I was really unhappy and we asked the people to move us closer to the village and they luckily were able to. this made a big difference in the quality of our stay, especially as the 18 inches of snow began to fall for the next two days. We didnt have to drive anywhere, we could walk to tubing, restaurants, and fun locations. We could explore and come and go really easily.

Saturday was just the best day I have had in a long, long time. We woke up, went to breakfast at Tim's Stray Dog Canteen where they have a WONDERFUL breakfast burrito smothered with red chili that will warm you up from the inside and then headed out to play and explore a bit.

The area is incredible with snow everywhere, deeper than I had ever seen. We walked to the ski lifts and played around a bit there, checked out the little shops and watched the people as they rode around on the ski shuttles that take them from their cars to the lift. It was really fun and cool.

After searching around for a good place to play, we found a great open space with uninterrupted snow and decided to go play there. It was up to my husbands waist!!! Well that is how far he sank, so you know it was deeper because he packes a lot down to fall in that deep. The kids were a lot lighter, so they were able to only sink in to about their thighs. We had to literally crawl to move. It was a blast!! We decided to make a fort under a picnic table that was level with the snow (the top of it was level with the snow). We thought we could make a fort beneath it but even after a lot of digging we couldnt all fit under it. The snow was just too hard to budge. We played around there and then decided to move over to another area in the trees, and out of the ind. We laughed so hard, I couldnt breath. We all kept trying to tackle my husband, but we couldnt get him down! the most fun was throwing the kids. Exactly how your throw them in a pool, we could throw them through the air and they would land in a puff of snow. they LOVED thi, but would be stuck like turtles on their backs. It was just a hoot!!!

That evening we went tubing on the small mountain bottom. Even ME was flying down the hill all by herself. I felt like a little girl again. Running and flying down on the tube on my belly. I cant remember the last time I got to do that. It was such a blast and such a fantastic way to spend an evening with our family.

All the people were just so nice and helpful. We went to get dinner at a little Pizza place called Crossroads and I asked if they would cool Grey a wheat free pizza I had brought for him, they were more than happy to help. So the whole family got to enjoy pizza together and laugh about our day.

We wrapped up our first night with a movie I brought called Millions. We all really enjoyed it and quickly passed out from a long day of play!

Sunday was beautiful, it snowed like crazy and we got to spend another day outside playing. It was significantly colder though. About 4 degrees, before the wind and -6 or so with it. We took a warm up break and played some games in our room before heading back out for more fun.

Monday we had to pack up for Denver and enjoyed our last yummy breakfast at Tim's. We will definitely come back to tTaos Ski Valley. The people were so incredibly nice and our stay was just the perfect combination of fun, excitement and relaxation. We had many hot chocolates, snow angels, and battles to last us until next year. I cant wait to go again!

Denver, Colorado

My husband had a business trip in Denver which meant he had to be there all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday. We was set to fly out of town on Monday evening and would be returning late Wednesday. So my wheels got to turning and since we were to be in Taos for the weekend and Denver is about five hours north of Taos, how about if we all drove up on Monday. He was off for MLK day, so it would be perfect. Plus the hotel would be free since it was for a business trip. We would pay for the upgrade to a larger room, but basically this was Denver on hardly any money! TERRIFIC!

So I packed a few extra outfits for our trip and we were off! The plan was to spend the days touring Denver and having fun in their museums and such. Plus getting to see a different city, stay in a hotel and enjoy the majestic Rocky Mountains while covered in snow! It was really a nice getaway.

We made great time from Taos up to Denver. Leaving around 11:30 am from the snow COVERED mountains in Taos Ski Valley and driving north we made it to Denver by 4;30pm. The weather cooperated and the snow and ice covered roads were at least in the valleys where it was flat and you could use the 4x4 and get some traction. All was great.

We arrived at our hotel, got checked in and headed upstairs to take showers before heading to the Aquarium for dinner and a tour. The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is open until 10pm and has a discounted admission after 6pm. Something I was happy about when we realized how small it was. Even with the discount it was 10.00 a person, and the whole aquarium takes about 45 minutes to see. So I was happy not to have paid their full rate. However it was a WONDERFUL aquarium. The kids loved it, they got to pet some stingrays and see so many cool things. GD was stoked that he got to see Seahorses, something he saw an entire traveling exhibit of in Baltimore, but doesnt remember. ME got to see a Sea Turtle which she loved and GM just had such a great time throughout the whole thing. It was definitely a favorite of all of ours!

Better yet was dinner!!! they have a restaurant that is up against the aquarium, something that is fairly common these days, but the food was just delicious! The margaritas were even better and they had so much food that GM could eat and enjoy! He even got to have a rice crispy treat desert that you could paint with colored powdered sugar water. He was really happy, and so was I! They all got cool souvenir cups to being home and we all laughed and enjoyed one another throughout our dinner. I love times like that!

I highly recommend the aquarium and the restaurant. Both are a bit pricey, but we just had the greatest time. Even after the day's long drive. It was fun way to kick off Denver, especially since it is right next to downtown, which is just beautiful at night. Denver was off to a great start!

The US Mint, Denver Co

As soon as I realized we would get to be in Denver, I wanted to take the kids to the Mint to see them making our money. I was so excited and got online right away to make our reservations for a tour. We got in at a good time (9am) and were set to enjoy a nice morning in downtown Denver and we would get to see the mint. WOOHOO

Well, have you ever had one of those things that you are so excited about turn out to be just a nightmare? Well, this was one of those things. It started out great, we were up early and I had read the directions online and was ready to tackle driving in downtown Denver. I was able to use the hotel business center to print out our reservation passes and we were set! We drove straight to the mint without missing even one turn. Yeah, I'm proud!!!!

But hmmm, where do you park? Um, let me drive around this block here and see... "oh there's a lot"! But as we sat waiting for a LONG time to enter the lot I realized that they were triple and quadruple parking the cars, so when someone came to get their car, they had to move ALL the cars in that area to get to it. We weren't budging, and we had to check into the mint a minimum of fifteen minutes prior to the tour. So I was able to back out of there and look for another lot, further away. Mind you it was about 6 degrees outside, but hey we were used to it by now. I drove around, nothing.... drove further.... nothing... Got a spot! HAPPY DANCE, everyone out of the car, we have to run.... then I hear a voice.. "you cant park there, that is reserved, something I would have known if it weren't for the four feet of snow blocking any signage. Everyone back into the car... were sooo late by now! But the gentlemen at least pointed me to another spot that I could park in. So we drove over there and parked. I had to prepay five dollars, which I didnt have and so the mad scramble for change in the car began. We got it! So then we filled the darn machine with our change and off we ran, slipping and sliding all the way!!! Im running, yelling, grumpy and stressed at this point. We were freezing cold and we had to run three and a half blocks to get to the gate. Im so darned incontinent at this point that Im practically wetting my pants with every stride! UGH!!!

So we make it there. "Sorry lady but yo have to wait until the 10am tour." Geez, Louise!!!! So luckily there is a gift shop we can go into to keep warm. Now, I may be spoiled, but I am used to the gift shops of governmental tourist spots as being really nice. They usually have marble here and there, nice people in vests to help you, a lot of cool souvenir stuff that you remember from when you were a kid. But this wasnt quite like that. This was literally a trailer parked next to the mint. It has strange stuff to buy and a saleslady who pretty much wanted nothing to do with smiling at us. Im sure she is used to people coming in to keep warm, so I get it. In the 30 minutes that we waited in there, we ended up finding some fun stuff to bring home, and a gift for my brother. Maggie broke a piggy bank by dropping it, which I had to then pay for. But we were warm at least and we would all be happy once we were in the mint and getting to enjoy all the cool things inside.

Finally we had to line up outside the gates, but because we missed our reservation time, we had to wait until everyone who had a 10am reservation was let in, then we could go in. It was just so cold! But finally we got to enter through a LOT of security. The guards got a kick out of my kids simply not knowing how to do the whole security check thing. But I guess they really havent ever done it before. We havent flown in years and they probably dont remember the last time we did. One guard was laughing because GD walked around the metal detector and was marveled by all the machines. It was pretty cool to them!!!

Once inside the fun began!!! fifteen minutes of pointing to machines that you couldnt see what they were doing and a nice lady trying to explain it all. We were surrounded by really cool stuff that it turns out, you REALLY can not touch!!!!

Inside I was just laughing. I thought this is such the example of one of those days filled with good intention that is just such a bust, all you can do is laugh! We did learn some cool facts about coins and GM is now more excited about collecting all the state quarters and the new Presidential gold dollars that start this Presidents Day, so it was all good in the end!

Until we marched back through the cold to our car only to find a ticket on it. Apparently way beneath the snow there was a sign that said it was for monthly parkers only. How a person is to know this I have no idea, especially when the number sticking up out of the snow had a money slot on the big $5.00 per day sign.

What I will do to get my kids to see something cool!!

By the way, no pics because you cant take a camera to the mint. But Im sure you can just imagine how lovely we looked! LOL

The Denver Children's Museum

After our morning at the US Mint we headed over to the Children's Museum. It was a really cool colorful building right off the highway and directly across the parking lot from Six Flags Denver, which GD was drooling over. :-)

It cost the four of us just over $25.00 to get in, and adults do have to pay as well. When I walked in and saw the gift shop area, I immediately thought, "hmm everything looks like baby toys" but that was it. We first got to play on the firetruck and inside of the fire prevention space. The kids all enjoyed that and we had fun taking silly pictures. But again, I was noticing that GM was quite bigger than the other kids, and that eveyone was basically smaller than ME, who is newly four. they had this really fun room that we wanted to check out, but it was only for kids under age four, so we couldnt go in. :-(
So we were off to the upstairs which is where the majority of the museum was located. It was really nice. they had a lot of great fun things to do and play with, and of course everything was interactive. I was so bummed though because everything had age limits on the entries, ages 4-8 was the majority of the space. ME and GD had a ball playing in the nature room. It was really cool, with animal costumes and differnt habitas to play in. It was done so nicely. But, there were so many mom's sitting around with their infants on their laps and sort of giving the bigger kids (within the age limits) the stink eye as they ran by. I was so annoyed. They have a HUGE room downstairs for infants to roll around in, so go there! Well this is what I thought. GM of course didnt do anything in this space because it was not for his age or size. I was just so bothered that I was following their age limits and getting the stink eye and they were just sitting their chating with each other on some sort of infant playdate in the middle (literally the middle) of the playstructure. UGH!!!!!

Okay, enough of my grumpiness on that. The museum had a great grocery shopping play
area that they all enjoyed and ME and GD made some great paintings in the Arts area. It is a really great museum to visit if you have young, young children. It was PERFECT for ME and I was thrilled to see her having so much fun. GD loved it too. He is so young at heart that he was just eating up the imaginative play areas and the fun of just running about with other kids.

GM was so mature and nice. He helped ME and GD to have a good time and helped me when the two of them wanted to be in different areas. He would help me to keep an eye that GD (king wanderer) wasnt roaming off while I was with ME. It is terrific that he is becoming so mature and able to be of so much help to me. He was also really mature about not being able to really do anything here. I can see him being upset about not being able to climb on this or do something, but he really handled it well. For a while he played int he Thomas train section with a bunch of three year old kids making them super tracks to drive their trains on. LOL It was cute!!!

If in Denver, check it out if you have small children. It is clean, well stocked and the layout makes it easy to keep an eye on multiple children. Which I am always grateful for. :-)

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Wednesday morning we headed over to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This was a key destination because of GM and my work in the local museum, and my lifelong love of museums. This did not disappoint!! Your greeted by a large TRex skeleton as you walk in the door. Of course this set the tone for the morning. This museum has three levels of exhibits, set up similar to the Air and Space Museum in DC. A center hall with exhibit rooms off to either side. Each with its own theme etc... This is nice because you can sort of clean your palette as you need to go out into the main hall before drifting into another exhibit.

We decided to start off with the Space Hall. It was wonderful! We were greeted by a wonderful and informative volunteer who let the kids hold a meteorite and explained to them how to tell if it is really a meteorite or just a hunk of lead (striped burn marks from entry into the atmosphere). He also showed us a short video of a meteor spotted in Texas that ended up landing in New York and hitting someones car. This was a hit, of course!!!

This particular area was FILLED with hands-on interactive activities for the kids. Programming a robot on mars, making impact craters in sand by shooting lead balls, computer programs that let you make stars, planets or black holes, dress-up areas where little ones can dress up as an astronaut and use tools to collect moon rocks. Just a wonderful and interactive experience. GM was in heaven, and ME and GD had a blast too! Definitely a great place to start!!

We then checked out the main hall and met up with a guy called Mr Bones. He had these huge puppet dinosaurs, made of wire and painted foam. A sort of cross between a puppet, a costume and a marionette. They were really spectacular.

Then off to Egypt for some fun with the Mummies. They had three real mummies on display. One from a wealthy woman, one from a poor woman and another that I cant remember the specifics about. It was interesting because you could really see the difference money could buy when it came to your mummification. We also learned about the urns that your organs would be held in and the various amulets that would be wrapped up in the linens. Apparently the Egyptians thought that your mind and soul were in your heart, so a scarab would be placed above the heart, but the brain was thought to be useless and was simply tossed away!

The Prehistoric life hall was terrific. They did a great job of really focusing a lot of space and money on life before the dinosaurs. This was great because GM and I are spending time talking about this along with our Creation unit. A lot of times places with jump right into the dinosaurs so this was really fun to check out. GM even seemed to really begin to see the growth of diversity on the ocean floors and how that lead to the evolution of animals leaving the sea and heading to land. So that was a nice discovery for him.

We had a nice lunch in their TRex Cafe and headed over to the gift shop for a souvenir before heading out to get Dad. His day was short so our plans to go to Hammond's Candy Shop were blown, but this was okay. We will save it for next time, and this also meant we could head back home sooner and not have as much night driving in the winter elements.

Overall this museum was probably the best thing we did in Denver. The kids all three loved it, I loved it and we all really felt like we came away having learned something new. The only thing I wasn't thrilled with was the HUGE amount of space, on two different floors dedicated to dead animal dioramas. The stuffed animals in their fake habitats etc... It seems that should be a zoo thing, unless they are extinct. Anyway, it was a HUUUUGE portion of the museum, and a waste of space and time. It seemed outdated and like the museum could really teach the same things, but in a much better, more exciting and interesting way. In the end you leave feeling more sad for the animals than that you had learned about them. I bet they update that over the years, and bring that space more up to the levels of their other exhibit halls.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Third Grade Creation Myths

In looking forward to what third grade had in store for us the idea of hearing a variety of creation myths from cultures around the world really resonated with me. So I sat down and did some research on some of the different varieties of creation myths and thought a bit about things such as the Big Bang theory etc....

Working at the local museum, I found a wonderful book called "Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story". I bought it and the two other titles that follow in the story of how life on earth came to be from a scientific perspective. I love these books, although at times they stray into more science than I see necessary, they are beautifully written with a true storytelling feel. They really connect to the child because they come from the perspective that this story is everyone's story and that we are all a part of the universe. This is a perspective that I like because I feel it brings in a foundation of brotherhood, empathy and responsiblity for our planet and the other people, animals and plants that live here.

So using this as a background for our unit, I then decided to bring in the creation myths from the various cultures. Below is a breakdown of what we are doing and some examples of GM's work.

We have a Geological Main Lesson Book (images above). It is a huge book measuring 16X20 and spiral bound. We use this for our "scientific perspective" book. So in here we are entering pictures and writings which come from the Universe book and other ideas that we come across here and there. Eventually this will grow into multi volumes as we begin studying the continents and their biomes... then getting more into the people who live there and their cultures... from here we move into history.

Some of the Creation Myths we have done, or will do include:

Raven : A creation story from the Pacific Northwest about how the Raven brought the sun to the people.

How the Tewas Found their True Home: Local Southwestern Creation Myth

The First Day of Creation: A Jewish creation story

Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon and Stars Began. Another local Native American Creation story

Japanese Creation Story

Pangu and the Creation of the World: A Chinese Tao story of the creation

the Dreamtime: An aboriginal Creation Myth from Australia

The Story of Olorun: A Yoruba story of the creation (West Africa)

No need to classify or define..A Rant

I have noticed in the homeschooling world that many people really feel the need to classify their style or their approach to homeschooling. Almost like without a label of some sort they lack definition. I understand this process in group settings when we are tryng to find the like-minded family; Are you an unschooler, a religious based homeschooler, waldorf, Enki, Eclectic????

I find it really hard to believe that any family could be completely one style. Isnt homeschooling about your family? Isnt it about finding your way and not just following the way of a group or a style? I know that with some religious based programs it is important to follow a set program, and I guess that is the exception. But I almost consider that a completely different type of homeschooling. It is more about choosing a different set path than it is about creating your own path. I could be wrong, and again there are exceptions. But overall I would say that this is what my experience has shown.

I have yet to meet anyone who is a complete unschooler. I know people who associate themselves with this style, but they still add in a little of this or that. I dont know anyone who is completely Enki, or completely Waldorf or any other thing for that matter.

Of course classifying has its uses, but here is my issue...

When you allow a title or a style to define you and your homeschooling, you can easily lose your way. When you try to follow any one style too closely you begin to view the success of the program and your adherence to it as the success instead of the growth of your child as the success. Does that make sense? When we make working a style or program the priority or our theories of education to blur our vision of what our child needs, we lose. Worse yet, our kids lose.

I have my thoughts, opinions and theories about how I want my kids to learn, what I want to use and how I want to go about it. However i also have three children. The ideal in my mind may not be the ideal for each of them. I have to be sure that I am not allowing my need to meet benchmarks or be Enki, or be this or that to cloud what matters. Am I meeting the needs of my child? That is the mantra, that is the goal. Not to be Enki, not to be an unschooler, not to be whatever. To be GM, GD and ME's mother and to try my darndest to help each of them grow to be happy, healthy, educated and inspired people.

So if that means that in October we had to unschool, and in January we are back to Enki, and we throw in some Saxon Math and a bit of reading what would be called literary trash by the Classical Ed folk, then so be it. I try to stay true to my vision, but I cant allow my vision to equally not meet my child in the way the school systems guidelines wouldnt. Sometimes our vision for our children can blind us to their actual needs.

Anyway, in writing this blog and thinking about things and how they are or are not working for us, I needed to get that off my chest. Yes, if you need to define us, we are an Enki family in that we really live a life inspired by the foundation guides. I love them and find them to be incredibly inspirational to me and my journey with my children. However, I doubt we really look like one. We dont make choices based on "is this or that Enki" I couldnt care less. However I believe that it needs to be "us". Is this or that a part of what we want or need for our family? Sometimes that falls into an Enki framework, and sometimes it doesnt. It is essential that it falls into our families framework, first and foremost.

After that, its all just names and ideas. The only benchmarks, activities, outlines etc that we need to follow are the ones that work for our families. Leave what doesnt work behind and face forward to finding and doing what works best for you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Could Gluten-Free actually be working??

In returning to our lessons after the holiday break I have noticed a large improvement in GM's ability to get through his materials without issue. He hasnt really ever struggled with doing his work correctly, it was just that it took him so long to do so. We would move through some things quickly, but reading and writing were really slow and often required a lot of encouragement from me.

In talking on the phone with a friend of mine who also has a chld with Aspergers I realized that I am no longer having to nudge him to keep him focussed. I used to have to say "focus" time and time again, just to get through a basic lesson. I havent had to say it to him once in the past two weeks. I used to really have to do this when he was reading, and especially if he was reading something of any length. Now I am telling him to read two chapters at a time and he is doing it without even a grimace or the need for me to tell him to focus again.

We have been gluten-free for about seven months now. In talking to my friend I realized that maybe, just maybe it is the new diet that is helping us through this particular area of challenge. I kept thinking that he just hit a point of maturity, forgetting that the diet could be actually helping us in some way. But in thinking about it, I have to say that Im thinking the diet is what is supporting him right now. He is being far more positive about his fencing too. Just over the break he didnt even want to show anyone his "moves" because he gets so shy about it and then when it was time to return to fencing, he seemed uninterested. But then we went last week and even though the kids he bouted with were at least thirteen years old, he came away from it all happy and positive. This is rare for our little Eeyore. He was telling me about how that big boy got a lot of touches on him, but he got a few on him too and that he was really proud of his improvement. He actually said "Im proud of my improvement". Also when asked if anyone wanted to stay for open gym and practice a bit more after class he was the only one who said yes. Another sort of "off character" thing for him. He is usually pretty ready to go after the 1:15 class.

He is also getting up and making his own bed EVERY day, without asking. Also cleaning up his room, without drama.

I dont know, maybe it is a combo of maturity and the diet, but I have to wonder. Could this be due to the benefits of being gluten-free??

All I know is that we wont be going off it anytime soon!!!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Our Holiday Photo


Today was our first day back with our science coop. One of the mom's has this unit and is presenting and letting the kids explore the world of Cryptozoology. They loved learning about the many different ways that you can describe the sighting of a lake monster or of a Yeti or even just a kangaroo. The kids got to listen to many cryptid descriptions while sketching what they heard. It was a lot of fun. Some of our friends from VA who have very recently begun homeschooling came today too and got to meet some of our other friends. Plus we had a couple other new families join in the fun.

The boys both enjoyed the morning and ME had a lot of fun playing in the play-doh and visiting her friends. Afterwards we came home and sat down to work on some math and the boys each got to pick their books to read this week. GM chose another chapter book and GD chose an expanded form of The Gingerbread Man. He loves that story!

Tonight my Brother-in-law is supposed to come over to play LEGOs with the boys and my husband. They have really been looking forward to this as they really enjoyed their playtime with their uncle last week. GM made a cryptid to show him and GD is working on something up there that I havent had the honor of checking out.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Week 1

This first week of 2007 has been just wonderful! I am so at peace now that we have the bulk of the construction behind us and we can look forward into this year without the stress and pressure of all that chaos. We were able to have company a few times, enjoy family time and get a lot of stuff done regarding our lessons and maintaining the house.

Currently our daily schedule has been ...

  • Coffee/computer (I check email, and send a message to a friend back east who trades to-do lists with me)
  • make our beds
  • clean up the house
  • breakfast/clean up from breakfast
  • lessons
  • lunch
  • free time/quiet time
  • independent practice work (math and reading)
  • fencing or company
  • dinner
  • family time (game night, movie night..._
  • bed

This next week I will try to get our yoga and movement back in place and continue with the progress we made this past week.

GM finished his chapter book he bagan on Tuesday and GD has only one chapter left. Both made terrific progress with their math and their main lessons. GM is currently studying the creation of the earth and universe via a wonderful book called Born with a Bang: The Universe Tells our Cosmic Story in conjunction with the reading and working of various cultural and religious creation stories. GD is loving learning more about the animals of winter and working some of the Enki winter nature stories. ME has even been trying to get in on the action with making little books about colors and animals that she likes. She doesnt know her letters yet as she is way too busy exploring the world around her, but she is definitely growing interest in things of that nature. Maybe she will be ready to learn some letters in the fall, but we'll see.

Anyhow, fencing is going great, and GD has asked to do some boys gymnastics again like he did in VA. ME wants to take a dance class for traditional Mexican Folk dancing. So in this new year I have decided to give it a whirl and support them wanting to be active in something outside of the home. I usually make them wait until they are older, but they both are so excited about it that I think I will see how it goes for this winter/spring season.

Oh yeah, we went to see Night at the Museum on Saturday with Grandma and it was so fun! Great movie for the whole family to enjoy together!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Fly Away Home

Well we just had the most wonderful family movie night watching Fly Away Home. I highly recommend it to the few of you out there who may not have seen this movie. We all cried and just absorbed what a wonderful story it was. Having raised a dozen chickens this year (not the same thing, but still)I think it touched us all the more. The two weeks of having them live inside of our house when a sudden cold front hit our area didnt hurt either.

Anyway, GM is outside now in the dark, 15 degree weather spending time with the girls in their coop. He asked Dad to come with him so he could hang out out there and hold them for a while. Im happy to see that it touched him in some way. GD cried with me, but I ALWAYS cry at movies! I just get lost in them. It seems that GD does too.

I dont think any of us will look at a flock of migratory birds in the same way.

I just loved it!!!

PS. ME is out there now too. She wanted to give one of them a hug. :-)

Operation Migration

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back to Basics...

Well Im blissfully (no pun intended) enjoing the simplicity of our regular life. The basics of getting up, making the beds, doing our lessons, cooking dinner, watching a favorite show or playing a game with the kids. I have been looking forward to this for so long that I am really aware and happy to be back to normal.

Our lessons for today look a little like this...

  • Journaling
  • GM also needs to make an entry from the chapter he read last night into his reading journal
  • Math (each boy will do some math this morning)
  • GM will enter "Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon and Stars Began" into his Good Book
  • Both boys will do a reading comprehension exercise
  • Both boys will read the next chapter from their readers
  • GM will make an entry into his Geo Book about the planet formations
  • GD will do another Headsprout activity (he loves those things)
  • GD and I will read a nature story together from Enki
  • GM will write a letter to his penpal (his much neglected penpal)
  • ME will hang out and do some crafts on the floor while we work on these things

So that is the goal for this morning. Everyone seems to be taking to getting back into the groove really well. I think they have been craving it!!! I know I have!