Sometimes my grass is greener

Ever since we have begun even the thought of homeschooling, my first reaction was “Oh no.  They will miss out on         ” (fill in with many many different things).  I realize that comparing myself or my family to others is at its worst downright sinful and at its best a joy thief.

But sometimes….. sometimes you get a glimpse into the other side and realize that perhaps you have it good.  As in “my grass is greener” kind of good.

This past weekend Mini Man and Ariel tried a free class of gymnastics for the first time here in California.  They have been to this facility several times, so the comfort level is high, but neither kid actually took classes here before.  They were thrilled and I was excited for them.

I was a proud momma watching them high five their new coaches and tumble and roll on big fat play equipment.  I was among the huge bubbling over Saturday morning crowd of fellow happy mommas.  Well, some of them were happy.  In the middle of this joyous parental feeling I wound up in the middle of a conversation between two other moms whose children go to the same school.  The conversation was mostly positive, but often directed its ugly head to the negative Nancy side of school politics.

This wasn’t the first time I had heard this exact type of conversation.  It was just the most recent.

A few nights before I left Minnesota, I was lucky enough to hang out with a few girls that I got to know over the summer.  Several of those moms have kids in the same school.  The conversation veered towards gossip about the principle and his extra marital affair.  Everybody had a different reaction to this scenario and the fact that we were even discussing it.

I however whispered that I was glad I was homeschooling.

And I am.

Instead of comparing what me or my kids are missing out on, I began basking in the joy of what I do have.  Or rather what I don’t have.

I don’t have to worry about competition (momma or kid wise).  I don’t have to worry that my daughter will love her teacher more than me.  I don’t have to sign up to be apart of the political minefield that is the PTA.  I don’t have to go to parent/teacher nights and be sad that I missed it when she made that project.  I don’t have to worry about carpools.  I don’t have to get up super early or wake up my napping infants to drop off/pick up my kids from school.

I get to stay out of the drama.

Really there is a lot to be thankful for as a homeschooling momma.  Things might change and that will be ok.  I’ll adapt.  But for right now I’m going to be thankful.

You can’t steal my joy.

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Teacher, Mommy ?

 

 

 

 

 

I envisioned my kids going to school.  That’s what I always believed that I would be doing as a parent.  I went to school, my husband went to school, and practically everybody I knew went to school.  Made sense.

This is probably why I am creating a space that resembles a traditional preschool.  I know, I know, I really should stop this because its not in the spirit of homeschooling.  But the thing is, it is working for everybody.  The kids take me more seriously when we have “school”; blanket time which consists of weather, songs, bible, and a story before we move on to the activity and/or craft.

In fact, Ariel even calls me teacher during school time.  It cracks me up every time.  Although I probably should correct her, but what’s the point.  I am her teacher.  I am her mom.  I’m both.  It’s weird.  But its also great.

So here are a few morning manipulative fun times.

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Tweezer/Color sorter

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Bug sorter.  The boys were especially excited at the idea of playing with bugs, even if they were just plastic.

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Someone is a perfectionist and a lover of working monochromatically.

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Uh, make that two somebody’s.

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We used our blanket as our “sea” and went fishing.

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“I caught one mommy!”

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And lets not forget about this cutie pie.  He likes to join us on our fun up until he lets us know that he ready for his nap, which is highly helpful to me.

Friday fun day

Last week I started a Friday fun day.  I introduced the paint for the easel that Little Rascal got for Christmas.  Yah, they had never actually used it for its intended purpose.  Why?  Well, like most moms I’m not a fan of messy play.  Lately I thought, there will be no other chance for the kids to do messy play, because they are home with me ALL.THE.TIME.

So messy play on Fridays, like painting or play-doh or whatever, was born.  Its been a big hit.

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Even Bat-man is interested in what’s going on

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She was ‘eating’ a play-doh pie

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This has been great for them and for me.  It allows room to breath in the week.  It gives us all a chance to relax.  I can be in my pajamas and drink coffee and catch up on whatever I want (laundry, emails, blogging, reading, etc.).  This time has been SO needed.  I’ve been putting my whole self into this new found ‘project’ of homeschooling that I’m finding it takes up all the space in my brain and body.  I’m constantly thinking about it, constantly doing something for it.  Its exhausting.  And I’m sure there are plenty of people who say “oh just relax and let them have fun.  They will eventually catch on”.  Um, NO.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, its important to play, which I’m happily allowing ample time for them to do that, but its not true that they will just ‘catch on eventually’.  I have seen several middle schoolers and high schoolers who homeschool and struggle with their reading and writing.  Education is important to me, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be putting my whole heart and soul into trying to educate my children.  But life can’t always be about drills and workbooks (don’t worry, we don’t do that that much anyway).

It’s important to live life too.  And not get burnt out.

 

A is for Apple

We decided to mix things in honor of “fall” starting.  Instead of studying S for Sun, we will be starting with A for Apple  I say “fall” because we are just pretending here.  The temperature is nearing the center of a volcano.  Triple digits while the rest of the country is cozying up with their adorable scarves and pumpkin lattes.  Why yes, yes I’m jealous, why do you ask?

To get out of our heat-stroke funk, we headed down south for some apple picking.  We started off with our annual mini apple donut tradition.  Amazing as always.

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Even the baby got a taste (while mommy wasn’t looking)

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We found ourselves on a day where another school came for a field trip so we jumped on board on the learning train

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The lovely lady who showed us how to make apple cider the old fashioned way.  Yummy!

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We wound up befriending someone who we think was the owner (we know for sure she and her daughter work there and she lives on the property).  We felt like we got the special treatment.  It pays to married to someone who honestly loves old ladies (and old men too), because “they know stuff!”  Good for me, since one day I too will be an old lady.

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Mr. Sunshine had a great time too.

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Here’s the gang ‘surfing’ to go find our 2 bushels of apples to soon make our applesauce.  Guess that California blood runs deep.

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I love that we got a full family day and could count it as legitimate school.  A great and yummy day indeed.

Morning Manipulatives

Ever since I’ve come home from Minnesota, its been an absolute whirlwind with my mind and body going a mile a minute for all things homeschooling.  As I mentioned before, I should have done the prep work earlier this summer, but never got the chance.  I’ll be doing things differently next year.

It is what it is, and we will be going on with a happy heart.  I hope.

And speaking of happy, in the last couple of weeks I have found a new happy place.

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If you don’t already know, this is a teachers store where you can get SO MANY supplies.  Its overwhelming and exhilarating all at the same time.

For my first time, I was also dealing with this…

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So my brain was a little fried before I walked into the air conditioned teachers paradise.

I LOVED IT.

In fact, I loved it so much that I pretty much blew my budget out of the water pirate and canon ball style.  My receipt was spectacular.  I wasn’t so sure my hubby would be that pleased, but thank goodness he didn’t flinch.  It comes in handy that this homeschooling idea was his in the first place.  😉

Along with the items I had come for, a white board and book holders (one thing they didn’t have!), I managed to find a plethora of items that I just had to have.

After noticing my shy guy, Mini Man, gravitate towards the manipulatives at our co-op (which we are still on the fence about— more on that later), I decided that buying many different types of manipulatives would be a great way to incorporate the Montessori style of preschool that I had envisioned.

It worked like a charm!  Mini Man was especially thrilled at this new hands on learning adventure!

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Hard to tell, but for him, this is happy.  *please excuse the crazy mess behind him*

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They are loving their patterned stringing necklaces.

I won’t bombard you with endless pictures of their morning manipulative magic (I’ll spread the love through out the week).  But I will say that not only is this great for fine motor development, but its also great for independent play.  I put one type of manipulative game out for the little munchkins to learn play with, while I continue to get ready/prepare the lesson/drink my coffee.  This has become a win/win for sure.

Post Prep

I’ve been a bit obsessive.  Ok a lot obsessive.  Homeschooling is on my mind constantly.  It’s honestly all I’m doing right now.

The reason why I’ve been non stop homeschooling momma is because I did ZERO prep work during the summer.  This is a major bummer about living in two different places.  Like regular public school teachers, homeschooling moms do their school year prep during the summer.  This is a brilliant plan that I am really wishing I had done.  Unfortunately I had all of my curriculum sent to California while I relaxed around on the farm.  Next year I think I will be doing things differently.

However, this isn’t next year, it is this year.  My first year.  A pivotal year.  An extremely important year.  A make it or break it year.

Can you hear me hyperventilating???

I’m starting my year while playing catch up, which means I’m working non-stop.  I’ve fallen asleep while sitting on the couch several times this week.  And I’ve gone to bed HOURS earlier than normal due to my narcolepsy.

On a positive, I’ve been able to bust out some of my fun crafty tools that I have never even used before like my laminator.  And oh boy, have I used it.  If my laminator could talk it would say “Goodness woman, please stop!”

Even though its been A LOT of work, I actually have been enjoying my time.  Parenting feels more intentional.  More purposeful.  Instead of constantly trying to figure out ways to be by myself (which is still awesome), I reassure myself that they need me more than ever, because I’m now teaching them.  Teaching them everything.  Holy cow.  Its intimidating and daunting.  But rewarding.

So with that being said, I’ll talk to you folks shortly.  I have some laminating calling my name.

Fundatory

This weekend Music Man and I had the rare privilege of going to a Hollywood party (i.e.: fancy gathering of people who work in Hollywood).  This time it wasn’t just for a Wrap party (a party to conclude the end of a television season.  Often happens once a year), it was for a major television composers 50th birthday!  This is one of Music Man’s direct bosses, so it was an honor to be invited.

That being said, I don’t always enjoy these types of affairs.  Its like going to someone else’s annual Christmas work parties, or better yet, your spouses high school reunion.  Will you know anybody there?  Not too many.  Will you have anything in common?  Not really.  Will you get any of the inside jokes that might be told all night?  Nope, not at all.  So while it might be fun to get a little more dressed up than my usual yoga pants and t-shirts and a night without the little ones, its still a bit stressful.

A friend once aptly described this classic situation as FUNDATORY.

FUN-DATORY = Mandatory fun.  A mandatory event that you are encouraged and required to have as much fun as you can muster.

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Beginning of the night classic selfie with me and my man.

After cursing our way through infamous downtown LA traffic (with the way anxious Music Man was driving, we barely made it out alive people!), we finally arrived at our destination.  A hole-in-the-wall antique STORE.  We were having a party at a store.   Which at first seemed weird and sketchy, but once we walked in we realized just how cool it really was.  First of all the decor was up my farm house ally.  It was littered with second hand or antique furniture pieces and decor.  And best part?  You could BUY ANYTHING you wanted!  Practically everything standing still had a price tag on it.   Granted you would have to have the wallet of a major Hollywood player, which of course we are not, in order to afford it.  We were mere peons in the ocean of who-who’s in the Hollywood musical elite at the party.  No matter, it was an antiquers dream window shopping experience.

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The bar and name of the place

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It’s difficult to see, but this coffee table is actually in the shape of a baby grand top.  It was by far my favorite piece.  Wish I had the moola to nab this beauty.

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Again, sorry its difficult to see, but for a mere $16,500 you too could have this crazy half bubble chair with a  medieval wrought iron with crank power in the back.  The picture does not do it justice.

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There were several GIANT bird cages for decoration and low and behold there were actual birds in them!  To give it perspective, That black part at the top?  Its the ceiling.  I estimate that the bird cage was about 6 feet high.  And this wasn’t even the most dramatic.

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Here was the 12 piece band for our entertainment.  It was fabulous.  They did old favorites and pop classics from the works of Michael Jackson to Adele.  I wouldn’t have expected anything less from the talented guest of honor’s party.

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And here we are being our usual goofy selves in the prop filled photo booth.  So fun.

Only complaint?  Everybody was sweating like marathon runners in the extreme humidity at the venue.  There was no air circulating, which was very necessary considering that it has been in the triple digits and had only dropped to the low 90’s at 10 o’clock at night.  Its always a classy move to dab your dripping sweat with your cocktail napkin, right?  Well, at least I wasn’t the only one.  The ambulance had to come to help a valued party goer who unfortunately passed out.  Don’t worry, after a glass of water and some air, he was fine.

Our “fall” Fundatory date went smashingly well.

Routines

Now that we have begun our homeschooling journey, we should set some ground rules.  Like no pushing, interrupting, staying quiet during blanket time, and listening and following directions.

Great got that.  Now on to me.  What are my ground rules?  I know I should probably set a routine, but so far that hasn’t happened one day, and the next couple of weeks I have scheduled a couple of play dates with friends that we would like to reconnect with.  That will mean my instinct to school the kids in the morning will have to be regulated to the I’m-too-tired-to-work afternoon.  Not ideal, but doable.  Guess that is the beauty of homeschooling.

Now let’s factor in the dinners I haven’t really been cooking or the house I haven’t really been cleaning.  Yikes.

One of the reasons I haven’t been as task oriented is because here in California I have been finding it hard to sleep.  And according to my 2 year old baby abuser/playmate (Little Rascal and Mr. Sunshine are sharing a room for the first time, much to my dismay), I suspect that the entire family is having a difficult time getting and staying asleep.  Here we have the bright morning sun shining in and the sounds of traffic blissfully telling us that sleepy time is over.  Oh did I say blissfully?  I mean, unhappily waking our sorry tushes up.

So this morning I decided to make use of my way-too-early-for-kindness morning and actually get up out of bed instead of close my eyes tightly and pray for sweet sleep to find me again. [fyi it hardly ever works]  I sorted the mega pile of laundry and actually put a load in.  I completed a task!  I could be starting a new routine!  One where I actually accomplish something before the leeches arrive children punch the clock to their the day.

This was all before my little ones came out of their rooms.  Notice I didn’t say ‘wake-up’?  Yah, that’s because even in the wee hours of the morning Little Rascal is “entertaining” his baby brother by throwing things into his crib.  Folded clean clothes?  Yup, in the crib it belongs.  Stuffed animals?  You betcha.  Wooden blocks?  Oh yah those get chucked in there too.

Have I mentioned that we aren’t sleeping very well?

Water play

Day 2 went off without a hitch.  We began our MFW Creation day 2 with blanket time (calendar, songs, bible), then got to our craft.  On the 2nd day the Lord separated the water and the sky.

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She apparently wanted the clouds to bring down the rain.  I thought this was brilliant, especially since we are in such a severe drought.  Yes Lord, please bring the rain!

I thought what better way to understand the sky and the water was…. to play with the water under the bright sunny sky.

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Yes yes, I realize that I just mentioned our severe drought.  I justified this perfect hands on activity by saying that it was nearly 100 degrees (and hotter the next day and its expected to get even hotter than that tomorrow.  I’m sweating just thinking about it).  Plus, I figured with water play I didn’t have to give them a bath.  Justified.

I’m thrilled that everybody is excited about school so far.  Luckily the first week is an easy cake walk for both teachers and students to ease into school.  This makes it effortless to get all the kids enthusiastic to learn.  Granted they are doing water play in the baking sun and who wouldn’t be happy doing that?

Official first day!

Despite our extra curricula activity set back, we forged ahead and did our 1st day of homeschool.  Officially.  Yikes.

I decided to use My Father’s World as our core curriculum.  This was a huge decision for me.  I went back and forth between Sonlight and MFW.  Ultimately I decided on MFW due to the fact that I really wanted to incorporate Mini Man as much as I could, so I need a Kindergarten curriculum that could adapt to a Pre-K level.  MFW had more hands on and seemed slower paced, which seemed to fit this need.  Sonlight is a wonderful curriculum and if I only had Ariel to work with, I might have gone this direction.

We started with traditional blanket time with our good morning song (I made it up last year), looking at the calendar, singing the Days of the Week song, and reading In the Beginning from our children’s bible.  The kids seemed to really love the routine since this is a similar format that we did with our little co-op for preschool last year.

Next up was our first week with MFW.  First lesson focuses on Creation.  They suggest taking a full 10 days to explore this big concept, but I feel like we won’t need to do that.  We will focus only on the 7 days that the Lord took (including His day of rest).  Plus, since we are starting later in the school year than most of our peers, this gives us a chance to catch up a bit.

First day of Creation:  Let there be Light

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We are doing the recommended activity of making a Creation book.  First day is gluing black paper onto white paper.  easy breezy.

After craft time with Ariel, Mini Man AND Little Rascal, we decided to play with light.  FLASHLIGHTS!

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It was their idea to find utter darkness underneath our dinning room table.  Ariel decided that we should use the flashlights for good, meaning rescuing her pink teddy bear.  I loved watching the creativity working.

They decided to take this flashlight hunting/rescuing adventure into the great outdoors living room/homeschool room with tunnels, blankets and pillows.

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While the boys had their quiet time/nap, I decided to take the opportunity to read one on one with Ariel.  I read 2 books with her and she read 2 books from *Readers Express* to me.  I was impressed at her ability to actually read already.

So far so good.  Then it is the first day.  How badly could it get?  Yes I realize this is a loaded question

*This is our Language Arts curriculum.  More on this in a later post*