Sunday, January 31, 2010

Similar to Disney World's Homeschool Days, and sponsored by "Home Educator" Magazine, this event at Disneyland is Sept. 8-10, 2010 at Disneyland!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Content....just plain content!

This post is in a way an extension of my last one. We have been so busy the last couple of days that I haven't had a moment to be discouraged, annoyed, or frustrated in any way, at anything. I have reason to be sometimes, with money being so tight, and schedules to stick to and schedules going haywire, but I just haven't had a moment for it. Thank God for that!

I have had time to take a moment and at the end of the day reflect on it and appreciate everything I've done with the kids over the course of the day. Mondays and Wednesdays we've been going to the library to do a little "school work" and it hasn't been taking as long as I thought it would and that's been a blessing, particularly for Brian, who enjoys it the least. Wednesday at 11 was a story time there for 3-5 year olds for Charlie, and though it was a bit below his level, he still enjoyed it. It's good for him to be with other kids his age too.

The only thing I don't like about going to the library is that I didn't start doing it earlier!

Today, it's supposed to snow. :-( Normally, I would say YAY but now I can't. It shuts everything down. Megan's games have already been cancelled and we were supposed to go to my niece's birthday party, but we will be stuck at home instead praying the power doesn't go out. This is messing up my contentment too as all this schedule confliction will get me out of my groove. So I guess I can just hope that it melts fast and life goes on as normal and we can look forward to Monday at the library!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Busy Days are Better!

I had tons of stuff to do today and didn't get it all done, but I did accomplish everything I needed to with the kids.

The kids and I decided we would be going to the library on Mondays and Wednesdays. I told Brian he really needed to get started with Algebra and if we did it now we could go real slow and take our time. He panics when going into the unknown! He did not like this idea at all. We did the first section of the first chapter and he got it very easily so he felt better about how this would go. I told him we would pick a spot in the book and when he got to that point, he would get a reward. I did this for my sake too. I don't want to get through 3 chapters and then get lazy with it because it seems like so much!

Megan is funny. She's so eager but when you tell her what she's going to do, then she complains. She worked on some division by herself for a while and then I told her we would start her French. She then said she only wanted to do one subject a day. I reminded her of all the subjects she wants to do and that if that's the case, she will have to do 2 a day. She wants it both ways....LOL! We did a little bit of French, and then she was all into it!

I realized with Charlie that the multiplication is going to take more work that the addition and subtraction did. I'm still reviewing the 3X facts with him but even if he doesn't know an answer he already understands the concept. I'm dying for him to write the numbers himself but he won't try at more waiting there. If he could just write the numbers, he'll probably finish Algebra before Brian...LOL!

After the library, I came home and had to get to work on the cake for Megan's cake decorating class and then we went to the class. Now we are home and I'm wore out. But it's a good wore out. It's days like this that make me feel like I'm getting back into a normal routine, which has been SO hard for me since before Christmas.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Greatest Skill to Have

After the issue with the classes yesterday, Megan was very upset and crying. We sat in my room together and had a very nice talk about the decisions I make for them and why I make them, and the freedom that I allow them to have in terms of a lot of things. We got to talking about doing things for ourselves and taking actions that we can't blame others if we don't do them - self-discipline! I gave some examples of things that I wanted to accomplish but never did or at least haven't yet. There's no one to blame but myself and I don't have the self-discipline to get it done.

We talked about this for quite a while and our conversation continued into the evening. We discussed what we could do to help ourselves become more self-disciplined, such as making a list or having someone else hold us accountable.

I learned that as unschoolers, my kids need to have a lot of self-discipline. Yes, I want to and will help them with their goals, but a lot of unschooling is being very independent and accomplishing academic goals on their own. By going to school, this is hard to learn. Mom wakes you up, the teacher tells you what to do, Mom tells you to do your homework, when to go to bed, etc. There's very little room for a child to self-discipline and learn from their mistakes, especially when others don't allow you to make them. Mistakes are sometimes the greatest things one can do!

So I believe, self-discipline is one of the greatest skills one can have! Do you agree or not?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

There's only ONE lesson taught in this house today...

...and that lesson is about Women's Basketball! And who the ruler of that is!

UCONN, of course! (How dare you question that! LOL!)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a devoted UCONN alum and knows that I follow basketball. My biggest issue that I've had to deal with is that I live in Tennessee country. Ugh! It can be tough, but I handle it very well! My Dad bought me this incredible UCONN jacket for Christmas and a day like today is perfect for wearing it. Problem is, I have no where to go. I will have to come up with something.

So why today you ask? I understand that not everyone follows sports, much less Women's Basketball. UCONN Women are the number 1 team in the nation with a 54 game winning streak, including last year's undefeated season. Tonight they are playing Notre Dame, the number 3 team in the nation and currently undefeated this season. Stanford tried to beat us with no success. Now Notre Dame will try. What's even better about that is that ND is my brother's alma mater!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

If I've ever doubted unschooling...

...and believe it or not, I do once in a while. Either way, tonight is NOT one of those times. My youngest, Charlie, who will be 5 in March, learned how to multiply today! Holy Moley! I'm still in shock myself. He's been going through  Abeka's 2nd grade Math book and when I first saw it, I was in shock that toward the end of it, it introduces multiplication. "Yeah, right," I thought. See, that's what I need  to really stop doing - doubting him and his abilities. So anyway, we've been going through the book and there's nothing that bugs me more about math curriculums than the constant repetition of the material. So we've been skipping through it pretty quickly. I was amazed at how quickly he understood subtraction with borrowing, but he did. He can now look at a problem like 347 - 212 and tell me the answer without us going through the steps. We did single digit subtraction with carrying, then triple and when I saw it continued with 4 digit subtraction, I just skipped it. What was next? Multiplication! I kind of giggled with that negativity running in my head! Shame on me! But I gave it a go. I said "Charlie, come here, let me show you something." 20 minutes later we were doing all of the 2X! I gave it a break and then sat down with him again. "What's 2X3?" "What's 3X3?" Although we went in order and he caught on to the pattern, he went all the way to 3X10! Granted, he was spinning around in a circle while I would ask the problems and he would jump every time he said an answer. You can't do that in school! I bet you can figure out what label that would get him. Of course, what 4 year olds are they teaching multiplication to anyway, even if they were to ask!

I sometimes feel like people might read this and thing "she's showing off." Believe me, that is not my intention at all. My intention is for others to see that kids want SO BADLY to learn things - all sorts of things! Think about when you want to learn something very learn it very easily! Our kids are the same way. Sometimes you just need to be observant and figure out what it is they are wanting to know. Sometimes, they don't know what there is to know. They see letters and they like the letters but they don't realize that when they put them in a certain way, they make words and that's reading! Show them a little and they most likely will BEG for a lot! My point is that I believe ALL children are truly like this and Charlie is really not a rarity.

Please comment. I'm curious to your thoughts!

Win a Cottonelle Gift Basket!

Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win 1 of 10 Cottonelle gift baskets randomly chosen on January 29, 2010 from all entries.

This is part of a contest I am entering for a month's worth of Cottonelle toilet paper as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club. With all the boys around here, I need this! LOL!

or click here to vote OVER! C' know you hate it when it's rolled under! Admit it and join me!

My friend Sonya is full of wisdom!

My friend Sonya Haskins wrote the book for my giveaway, "Homeschooling for the Rest of Us." Today, as her Facebook status she put this:

Education is not the ability to memorize something and correctly answer true/false or multiple choice questions on the topic. When someone TRULY learns something, they UNDERSTAND it to the point that they have the ability to discuss it, describe it, or otherwise share the information with someone else as if they themselves had been transformed into the "teacher." 


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our First Cake!

We've officially made and decorated our first cake! This is going to take A LOT more practice that I really expected. LOL! It is fun...just a lot of hard work, and time consuming. Megan and I went to Michael's and picked out some colors and really didn't have a plan as to what we were going to create. So that's why it's a blue cake, with pink and purple. We have a plan for the next one though. Keep your eye out here for it! Megan is loving this. It's been enjoyable for me to see her enjoy it and have more patience than me! I thought she would be a bit disappointed in how it turned out, but she was really proud of it!

Wordless Wednesday

The first cake made an iced as a result of our Cake Decorating Class. We need a LOT of practice! We didn't even get to eat it. The dog helped herself before we could...LOL!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

True to his style

Yesterday, I had to take one of my friends sons down to Asheville for a practice. While he was there, Charlie and I went to Cracker Barrel. I let him bring his VSmile portable game along with us to entertain him. When we went into the restaurant though, he decided he wanted to keep it in the car. So, I was worried. I was proven wrong! He was SO good it was unbelievable. If you ever been to a Cracker Barrel, you know that you have to go through the store to get to the restaurant. This is the toughest part with small kids. Well, not today. He walked right through with me! I thought I was in heaven. So we sat down, ordered, and the food came right away. Charlie ordered macaroni and french fries. So the girl puts his plate in from of him and he looks up at her with disgust and says "Aren't you supposed to bring me ketchup with this?" Typing this doesn't do it justice. You should have heard him! And she had already brought the ketchup, he just didn't see it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's ALL about learning!

I've been speaking with a lot of other unschooling moms who are having issues with family members who don't agree with their style of parenting regarding education. One of the proponents I have is my step-daughter Christa and her fiance. They will say things like "you don't want them to learn anything." This could not be further from the truth!

Unschooling is ALL about learning! I want my kids to learn as much as they can! I think the difference lies in WHAT they learn and especially when. Unschoolers are completely unconcerned when their children learn adding, or reading, or history, or botany, whatever. There is no real "required" thing to learn. The biggest exception to this is reading, but reading is so demanded by society AND in continuing a self-education, children WANT to learn to read. It one of the first things most kids want to learn. So it comes in time. The important thing to remember is that it doesn't come at the same time for every child, lifting the stigma of being "learning disabled."

The education system in America has us so brainwashed into how it should be and telling us what our children should know and when, they are ultimately trying to raise our kids for us. NO THANK YOU! I won't subscribe to that. I had children so that I can enjoy their company, watch them grow up, watch them learn, help them learn, not so I can drag them out of bed at the crack of dawn every day to repeat useless work for 7 hours with complete strangers that they really aren't interested in doing.

I took Brian to Tae Kwon Do practice once. He likes to go a little early and talk to some of the other kids before class starts. One kid was there sitting at one of the tables feverishly trying to get through a sheet of what looked to be about 50 math problems. Brian said "hi" and the kid said "can't talk now!" So class started, completed and the second it was over this kids Dad was rushing him saying "we need to get home to finish homework." It was hard for me to watch and even Brian noticed it. "That's sad," he said. People will criticize me and my kids and say they aren't "socialized" yet these kids have so much school and homework, I don't know when they have time to see their own parents! Then when these kids turn 18 and go off to college, I hear parents say "oh, I'm going to miss them so much, they'll never be home anymore" Explain this to me....they were hardly ever home in the first place!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kids are people too and they "age" just like us

One thing I've become very against since homeschooling, is the labeling of "grades". Everyone is so sucked into this. When adults meet myself or my kids, they always ask "What grade are they/you in?" This drives me crazy. If we are talking about Brian, I say "he's 12." Then I get the weird look, and then, "So what grade does that make him?" Huh? He needs to been classed by the intellectual level that he's "supposed" to be at as determined by the government? That is so ridiculous it boggles my mind that I was never bothered by this before. So sorry, not my kids. They are people too! You didn't ask what grade I was in! You didn't ask how many college degrees I have! or whether I have a Masters or PhD! You just left me well alone or you asked me how old I was, which would prove to me how "smart" you are. If you are curious about my child's intellectual level, ask them some questions, engage in an intelligent conversation, that is, if you are capable of that yourself. (Uh oh, sorry, I'm starting to sound mean.)

So I'm now training the kids to handle this themselves, and at least Brian is getting good at it.

stranger: What grade are you in?

Brian: I turned 12 in August.

stranger: Oh, OK. (confused state here) So what grade does that make you?

Brian: I don't like to subject myself to a class system and refer to myself as being in one of those classes based on an intellectual level predetermined that I'm supposed to be in based on my age.

stranger: Nice to meet you. (still greatly confused, most likely)

I really came to realize this over the past 2 years because of my youngest, Charlie. I bought a video program called "Your Baby Can Read" when Charlie was almost 3. I would put the videos in every once in a while and Charlie could watch them if he wanted to or not. He loved them. He didn't watch them ALL the time or even by their recommended schedule, but he did watch. It would crack me up that one of the first words he would learn to read was "Hippopotamus". Seemed too advanced. 2 years later, Charlie reads anything and everything. I first realized how good he was when he was playing with my phone and pulled up the web browser and typed in "" Math is his other thing. I remember that he learned to count very easily and at 2 years old could count well past 100 - I had no patience to see how far he could go. He said a million, and I took his word for it! So, I bought a first grade Math book from Abeka and let him "play" with he. He LOVED it and since he couldn't write numbers at all, he would tell me the answers and I would write them mostly to just keep track of what he'd done. He's now 1/2 way through the 2nd grade book.

I've had people CRITICIZE this! "He's too young to know that stuff." Huh? Says who? If he has a passion for something, and wants to learn more about it, I'm going to help him learn it. I don't care how old he is. So it hit me, we have this set system in place for what you "need" to know and when you need to know it, and we place kids in "grades" depending mostly on their age. Then depending on your grade, you need to learn certain things. If you learn those things early and/or easily, you are "gifted". If you learn them later and/or with difficulty, you are "learning disabled". This makes it even more ridiculous! Just because a child doesn't care to learn that 2+3=5 when they are 6, doesn't mean they can't learn or won't want to for that matter when they are 7, or 10 for that matter! I'd say it's pretty hard to get through life without understanding basic math skills. Society demands it. John Taylor Gatto has pointed out that if you have 2 kids and one learns to read when they are 4 and the other learns when they are 9, when they are 14, you can't tell who learned early and who learned "late". So why the fuss on deciding what kids need to know when? I just don't get it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Homeschooling For The Rest Of Us" Book Giveaway

My friend Sonya Haskins has generously offered a copy of her new book "Homeschooling for the Rest of Us" to 1 lucky winner.

To be entered, simply make a comment! A winner will be randomly picked January 21, 2010 at 5pm Eastern so be sure to enter before then!

SO much is happening

Yesterday was a huge learning day! We took Brian to his Tae Kwon Do class and learned that one of his friends is moving to Bahrain for about 9 months at least. WOW! How exciting for them. Megan and I, and Brian too when we were talking later, learned so much about Bahrain. It's very Westernized. There's a McDonald's, Chili's, Subway, shopping malls, etc. Though it's very Muslim because of it's location, it was previously English territory and there is a large mix of ethnicities and Christian religions, including a Catholic Church.

So we went to Fazoli's for dinner afterward and talked a lot about Bahrain and about learning opportunities through travel and meeting new people. We then ventured to the topic of Christa (their 1/2 sister) trying to convince them to go to high school. Brian said that she's trying to make him feel like he can't do any sports then or in college if he doesn't go to a traditional high school. I reminded him that our Homeschool group has a basketball team, but that it was true that Baseball, Football, and several other sports wouldn't be available to him. I hate that sports are linked with school! We then talked about sports that a lot of people don't do until college and that anyone can do because they are run more like clubs, and not competitively. Our list included Lacrosse, Rowing, Fencing, Martial Arts, Tennis, and Golf. I'm trying (and working against Christa) to convince Brian that he's not missing anything by not going to school. I'm confident he feels that way too. He did bring up that he wants to continue with his friends in the homeschool group the same way Christa wanted to follow with her friends to high school. I was impressed that he saw it that way and not getting "the grass is greener on the other side" effect.

I've started to read Blake Boles book and I will write about that later as so much of what he says is starting to apply to Brian and his outlook.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What a difference an hour makes!

I have so much going on now it's as if several days have past!

I got a phone call and have an interview with Comfort Suites tomorrow. I've been on unemployment since April and have been trying to get into Nursing School. I've also applied with several cruise lines, amusement parks and hotels. I'm struggling with trying to figure out where God wants me and which of my talents he wants me to use. I've taken the pre-requisites for Nursing School but it's very competitive to get in at ETSU. I was going to look today into some other local schools and expand my options for that, and then I got this phone call.

Brian got an electric guitar for Christmas and I ordered him a DVD to teach him how to play. It just came in the mail and so I'm excited for him to start on that. With it, I had ordered a book by Blake Boles and so now I can't wait to read it. Blake is a guy who read a John Taylor Gatto book and then designed his own major to be "Alternative Education" in college. He assists teenagers with getting into college without high school, hence, the name of his book, "College Without High School." He's speaking at several conferences this Spring and I hope to be able for me and Brian to meet him at one.

Trying to get back in the swing of things

It's been a crazy holiday season. We've been having snow, which is very unusual for here in Tennessee. So there are days when you can't go anywhere, practices and games are cancelled, and you hope the power doesn't go out. It's time for me to get back to normal and I'm having a tough time at it. It's SO cold, and even though I'm a Yankee, I hate the cold.

I was able to brave it today because I had to go to the bank, Verizon, and WalMart. That's another thing I dread...Verizon. I've NEVER had a good experience when I've had to deal with them, and today, for some reason, I did! Unless I got scammed somehow and am not aware of it yet.

The kids slept downstairs last night and they were up when I got home at noon. Of course, my husband said that my step-daughters dog got away and they helped him retrieve her.

So it's 1:30 and Charlie is out with Andy running errands. Brian is playing on the computer and Megan is taking a bath....wonder when I'll see her again!

As per usual, I bought some stuff for her for the cake class, and instead of "thanks, Mom" I got complaints. Oh well....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Introducing the Royal Subjects!

I just realized that many that come here do not know us or a lot about us. Me, the MOM!, I'm Carolyn. I have 2 step-kids Spenser and Christa. Spenser is in the Air Force in NJ and Christa has moved back home and is studying to be a teacher (ack!). Brian is 12, Megan just turned 10 and my baby Charlie is 4. We live in Northeast Tennessee and are very fortunate to be a part of an AWESOME homeschool network, TEACH!

Brian is my "science nerd" kid. He loves everything science-y, especially Astronomy and Engineering. He watches a lot of "Build It Bigger" and "How It's Made" and learns so much from that channel.

Megan is my reader and language girl. She loves to read and do crafts and likes to learn foreign languages. She and I just started taking a Wilton Cake Decorating class, so I hope she enjoys doing that too!

Charlie is my Math whiz. Last year he taught himself how to read basically and whizzed through Abeka's 1st grade Math book basically all on his own. We are now 1/2 way through the 2nd grade book.

Oh, Max too! Max is our dog, Boxer/Chow mix. He'll be 10 in April and so he's slowing down a lot. He's been the greatest dog I've ever had and wonderful with the kids. He can take all their abuse. :-)
I'm getting a slow start to this, I admit. I should post more often as I get used to how all of this works.

I bought those Brain Quest cards the other day for the kids and play this game with them that I learned from another unschooler on a board. The kids bring their pennies (really about 10-20 each) and we put them in a bowl. Then, I ask one of the questions on the cards. The first one to get it correct, gets a penny. If it's close or a tie, then they both get a penny. If they don't know or get it wrong, I get a penny! I bought the 7th grade cards so it's a bit of a challenge. It's been good for all of us because I've found that there are things that they know about that I wasn't aware of. For example, they knew Lincoln was shot at Ford Theater, but they didn't know he had anything to do with the Civil War. So we spent some time talking about all of that.

I've unexpectedly found out that I learn things from this as well! I bought the 2nd grade cards for Charlie to let him play along with too. He wasn't too interested at first and said "I don't know" to everything but when he saw the other kids getting pennies, then he was all into it. The funny thing is that some of the questions for 2nd graders, I didn't even know the answer too!