Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cynacism come each time this year.

Last year I wrote a blog post dedicated to all those people out there that do not have a father in their lives. The ones that had been left behind by someone they never knew who had better things to do. The entire post is completely and utterly still entirely relevant.

I wonder if this hurt will ever go away.

Having had the life experience of a seed donor father and then the Earth-shattering experience of an adoptive abusive one, my views on fathers in general is tainted at best, mildly cynical and mostly sarcastic.

I wonder if I'll ever look at a father -any father, anywhere- and not immediately expect the utter worst.

I've also decided for both an opportunity for personal growth and to fictionally share my experiences I'm going to start writing some stories that have come into my head that deal with these issues. They will be adult content stories, the length will work itself out as I write. I might write about the same content: abused teen girls dealing with their situations. I might write long stories or short ones. I just don't know yet. But I have had a feeling for quite awhile that I need to share these fictional stories. Some things will be hard to read; they're supposed to be. But I hope that by my writing I can open up topics for discussions between children and their parents, show other adult abuse survivors that there is nothing to be silent about.

I started this a long time ago writing a short story about a girl named Krista*. It's free on Scribd. I hope you will read it.

*Krista is an adult short story that includes graphic material. Please be advised.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I bow to no man.

I hate Florida. Yes, hate it. Well...at least I hate May through about September. I usually get distracted around my birthday but sometimes I even hate it up to November regardless of celebratory goodness. I hate Florida for the majority of the year because it is too. damn. hot.

Last June, IndieTutes posted about some pops she made packed with healthy stuff that she let her kids consume at will without any of the cringing that I have been doing every time my kids whine for the 100 count box of neon ice pop sticks I bought in a fit of neurosis at Target a few months ago. What the what was I thinking?!?

Anywho, mental lapses and Red 40 aside plus the year it took me to actually do this, the kids and I gathered 'round the blender and made us some frozen pop mixes. These can be 100% tweaked to become vegan if you so desire, or just switch out ingredients for your own food allergies/protein requirements/tastes. The point of the following *recipes* is that these are pretty much bomb-proof and are -in fact- the bomb. You can't go wrong mixing stuff together and rocking breakfast with a cool treat when it is already 80+ degrees and rising and I haven't finished my first cup of coffee.

Kids love anything on a stick. Or that they think they're not allowed to have.

Here are the three recipes I created and amazingly remembered to write down and then promptly lost the paper so they're round-abouts. More like recipe suggestions, if you will. I used dollar section pop molds I picked up a few years ago at Target. These are fairly small pop molds so YMMV.

Cherry Berry
2/3 cup yogurt (we used strawberry)
16 fresh cherries pitted (duh)
1/3 cup milk
4 frozen strawberries
1 banana

Banana Chocolate PB
1 banana
1tbs cocoa powder
2/3 cup pb (wayyy too much)
1/3 cup milk
1tbs wheat germ

Apple Cucumber
3 large apples
1/2 large cucumber
1/3 cup water
1/2 banana
1tsp wheat germ

Strawberry Banana
1 banana
6 large frozen strawberries
2/3 cup yogurt (strawberry again for us)
1 tbs wheat germ


The moral of the recipe here is that you can pretty much mix up whatever you want and since they're frozen, called pops and on a stick your kids will pretty much eat them all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Review


Nice and heavy

By ccipriani from Fort White, FL on 6/3/2011

 

4out of 5

Pros: Easy To Use, Good Design, Durable, Safety Features, Quality Materials

Cons: Lids aren't BPA free

Best Uses: Big Jobs, Outside, Gifts, Small Jobs, Inside

Describe Yourself: Beginner

I bought this set and a few others to begin our transition from traditional plastics to a more renewable and chemical friendly alternative. One thing that I noticed right away (because I had trouble lifting the box it was packed it) was the weight of these dishes, they are not flimsy glass.

I have always loved LnL products since finding them in Target years ago and have had trouble finding them since. A BIG part of my love is the locking lid, something that my young kids can open and close and I feel confident the tops arent going to pop off as soon as they move them because it was too difficult to seal them properly. They stack well, wash up beautifully and are durable (though I don't recommend trying it, my kids have dropped these during dishwasher duty and they haven't even chipped -the glass not the kids though they held up well, too).

My only -slight- complaint is that the lids aren't listed (which means they probably aren't since LnL has a huge section devoted to promoting it) BPA free. While this isn't a huge problem as the food rarely comes in contact with the lids during storage, I do feel a bit squeemish about using the lids when reheating. So, I usually just don't put them in with it.

I find myself reaching for these for everything, mixing small things, carrying food to the grill, storing food from the garden, side dishes, serving dishes, marinating (which is great because the seal is so tight you can flip and shake without worrying it'll explode all over the kitchen), making and storing trail mix, the list goes on but I won't.

The only other con -but not for the product- was that LnL took a good while to ship these to me but I bought it during a promotion and they had some back order. They didn't ship anything until everything in the order was available to ship. So, if you're looking to buy as a gift, I'd do it well in advance.

(legalese)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blackberry Jamboree


We're still in high blackberry picking mode over here. I just can't pass up the plethora of free fruit sitting in the back yard. The passion fruits are sloooowly ripening, there must be at least a dozen of them. I have store away about 4 pounds of blackberries in .5lb zippy bags in the freezer but they're coming in faster than we can eat them. Preserving and using them is top priority.


I took approx. 5 cups (which is about 2lbs) and cooked them down to a low sugar blackberry jam. I used Sure Jell's low sugar pectin this time and had a much better gelling than with the Gel-EZ I bought in bulk on Amazon. We use one of these little half pint jars in our house during one meal of PB&J. Stockpiling jam is a serious necessity. I also found RealFruit Low/No sugar pectin in a jar at Walmart which I will try with a second batch.


Blackberries are a funny thing, they're tart cousins of raspberries. You either love them or hate them, there is no middle ground I've found. But I dare anyone that dislikes the tart juice of a blackberry to refuse a slice of this blackberry buttermilk cake. It's OMG good and easily devoured. Make two, you're going to need it.

The bushes that were brimming a few weeks ago (yes, I've been harvesting 1-3lbs a day for weeks) are dying down and the last patches that held out are bursting with fruit. I give blackberry picking season another week at most. By preserving them, I can relive it the rest of the year.

Monday, May 23, 2011

D1sTrakSH1ns

I'd like to think that dealing with distractions is just something that every parent -homeschooling or not- has to deal with. There is just soo much in the world to be distracted by. Even at thirty, I have a hard time staying focused when something else is happening in my vicinity that catches my interest. But distractions are a huge part of our problem over here, not just with school but with anything the children are asked to do or encouraged to help with.


It's difficult when we do not have a dedicated classroom and your classmates are all in different grades doing different things that are obviously more interesting than the assignment you've been given -even if it is ABC's and you've been reading for five years. Then there is the kids that aren't in school, the cat, the dog, the new kitten, oh! Mom's got a phone call, there's someone at the door, potty breaks and hobbit-style eating habits.


I am more of a mindset that unschooling for history, science, geography, music and art is more appropriate for my bunch. Unschooling is not NOT-learning, it's letting the children's interest direct the thing they decide to learn about. It's why my 9 year old declared the other day that he is "pretty sure it's just ant bites, chicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus and I'm fairly certain I haven't been exposed to that recently." I had to go look up the name of the virus to see if he was correct because he learns things I don't know about all on his own. and he was right.


But even outside of school, with chores and helping around the house and farm, distractions abound and multiply much like varicella zoster. A main element -or The Main, if you will- of distractions in our house is electronics. Anything and everything that buzzes, beeps, lights up, plays music, has a screen, vibrates or otherwise battery powered that sucks in any and every kid in the general vicinity. If one kid is using the computer for math or reading comp, 10 out of 10 times every other kid will be standing behind them watching the screen even if approved computer use kid has on head phones.

And honestly, I can't tell you the number of times I've asked the older kids to watch the baby while I go outside to get tomatoes from the garden, mail from the box, take a shower or get blackberries and with my 10 to 30 minute chore being done, reenter the house to find half a dozen bananas smashed into the floor from back door to front, the baby coverd in yogurt, the cat food dumped into the washing machine on top of wet, clean clothes, or any number of Max-induced crisis that could have been avoided had the kids actually done what I asked and not gotten distracted by computers or movies. (which were put on to keep the baby occupied to begin with).


Which begins a new religion in our house; no electronics. Nothing, no iPhones, Ipods, Leapsters, TV's, computers, car DVD's, no laptops, library movie rentals, Redbox, video games, or streaming movies. Even battery powered toys are being called into question. We're going off-grid and hopefully on-task.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Boy Turns Nine.


It is absolutely insane to think I am the mother of a nine year old. But regardless of my inability to feel my age, my oldest kid did turn nine yesterday.

It's both easy and hard to remember how difficult he was as an infant. By two weeks old he was diagnosed with reflux (funny how I forgot about the projectile vomiting) and treated with two different medicines once twice and the other three times a day. He slept propped up in his car seat next to our bed or in the swing so that gravity would help the acid stay put.

It was miserable and at times I swore to never have another kid again. (See, this is where the Universe laughs).


He's the kid that broke me into parenthood, spiraled me into a Brooke Shields type of PPD and single handledly amazes me each and every day. Alex is such a wonderful boy, though he has his less-fun moments at times. For his birthday this year he asked for two things; Civilization V (a pc game) and a chocolate cake with mint.

I couldn't refuse either.


The cake is my basic go-to chocolate sheet cake recipe that I have scribbled on a paper so I can't remember where it came from. I don't usually do chocolate frosting so I searched for an easy recipe and found this then added some peppermint extract -real not imitation- to the mix. The Andes got frozen and mashed up with a mortar and pestle.


For someone that doesn't like toothpaste flavored chocolate, I do really like this cake.


We almost had a serious dilemma when the sparkler candles he picked out had melted into a single lump on the kitchen windowsil. Note to self- wax in a hot window = bad. We managed to scrounge nine non-girly candles out of the junk drawer and salvage three of the sparkler candles from the hardened gob.


Now I have a whole year to get used to having a kid in the double digits. I'm so not prepared for pre-pubescence.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just My Type

The older I get the more I understand the type of person I am. It's hard, realizing things you might not exactly like about yourself. Faults that make you who you are -which ultimately aren't wrong- but that you still consider faults. Realizing that you will never be "that" kind of person. The one that you admire, strive to be and self-depreciate that you are not. Whether it is body type or size, finances, exhuberance, mental capability, optimism, determination, perkiness, wit, organization or what ever else have you.  Someone else seems to have a big house on Easy Street when it comes to the part of you you don't like. You are who you are and sometimes it's a pain in your ass.


I have realized that I am the type of person that has to have their hands in All The Pies. I cook, sew, spin, garden, raise animals, raise kids, write, read, teach, learn, harvest, photograph, preserve, play, nourish, research, collaborate, plan, clean...The list is pretty extensive. I'm sure I forgot a few. And I do just about all of it Every. Single. Day.


The issue I have with being so diverse in my interests -one thing that I sometimes don't like about myself- is that I rarely have the time to do any one things particularly super well. When I dedicate a time to something everything else seems to push and prod for it's own bit of attention until I leave many, many things half-discarded, half-ruined, half-finshed or hurridly done half-assed.


I try and think of what I can cut out. Which project doesn't need to be done or shouldn't be done or could be done easier or just plain out purchased and I get a little sad. Which of these things that make me ME do I cut out? I cannot stop reading. I cannot stop learning. I could stop teaching the kids but really, even if I sent them away for formal education, there are still gaps to be filled and frankly, I dont' want to. I suppose I could give up sewing, crafting, spinning, writing but I have found that when I do not have a creative outlet I get super cranky. I don't have to grow my own food or raise my own animals but clean, fresh food is important to me and to my family. Plus snipping away any of these just makes me feel incomplete. Who wants to live like that?


Sure some things get done and done well but there are times I wish I just didn't take on so, so much. That if I perhaps focused on just the one project or the single hobby my life would be much simpler, easier, more enjoyable. I see friends that are that type, that only enjoy one thing for a period of time either making it a lifelong enjoyment or passing it off a few months or years later to focus on another happy hobby. It seems those lives are better, or fuller maybe because they aren't so damned rushed or over extended. They seem to have that big ol' house on a street I never even walk down.


And then I realize that I am who I am and try to embrace myself and enjoy it. Because sometimes half-assed is still pretty damn perfect.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Me Day


Yesterday was Sunday. It was also Mother's Day, incase you hadn't heard. We spent it cleaning the house, selling one of the new baby rabbits and eating. Quite similar to every other day around here but I also got a couple cards from my kids. One as a beautiful drawing of me inside much skinnier and redhaired than normal, and the other has a food pyramid and a brain on the back. Hallmark, eat your heart out.

I am not a sentimental person. I have saved a few baby things from my kids, mostly for their benefit, really, in boxes under my bed. I save some of their better artworks in a box above the bookcase, the cards will join them. I take lots of photos though with the accumulation of my new digital camera do not print out many if any at all (so who knows what will happen if I lose my computer? whole years will be wiped from memory).

All this non-sentimentality makes celebrations hard for me. I don't like to be gifted "just because". I think cards and mailing of them a complete waste. I've tried to be "good" and sent birthday/anniversary/new baby whatever cards but I just can't find it in me to support something I just don't get. I'd rather a phone call than a sparkly card or better yet see the person *in* person. Though I tend to forget doing that as well. I notice all the plaques, teddy bears, fake floral arrangements, cut flowers and candles propped up in stands on the side of the road and cringe.

Perhaps, that is the practical side of me. The side that dislikes waste and clutter. To me all those trappings that people swerve off the road to consume scream landfills. The market flowers are dying beauties using up land resources that could be better used to grow food or stay on the vines to feed the ever disappearing bees. Gifts of meaning that last beyond the day, that feed my body and soul and not just a need to provide a gift because someone declared it a holiday mean the most to me. But I didn't get any gifts because they're not necessary.

During this day of matriarical celebration I decided (after much debate since we're up to our eyeballs in birthdays right now) to make a cake to share with my family because spending time with them as they helped me bake and consume it was better than anything store bought, any smushy pre-printed card, any plaque that waxed poetic about being a mother. Because being a mother is more about enjoying motherhood all the time than being set on a pedestal a single day. I think we should strive to be kind and cherish each other because we're family all the time not just at birthdays or other pre-disposed times of the year. (Though throwing in a cake now and then doesn't hurt.)

Am I the only non-sentimental mother out there?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Four, glorious Four!


My daughter Amelia turns four today. Last year I wrote her birth story here.

I am still amazed at her. She is smart and witty and though she will laugh and be silly, she's one of the more serious of the bunch.


I think three and four are my favorite ages, even if they have their own challenges. We had a great time yesterday celebrating her birthday. The long road to the next town over is briming with wild flowers so we stopped to take some birthday photos. She had a marvelous time picking the ones that caught her eye.

Then we visisted a friend whos cat had kittens a few months ago and picked one out. It's been a long time since we have had a kitten in the house. 

I made her special request of a "flat cake with yellow frosting with strawberries, sprinkles and four candles" from Smitten Kitchen's Lemon Cake recipe.  It was a wild success.

She passed out in her bed about five minues after lights out. Being four is a lot of work.

Happy Birthday my big girl.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Roughing It.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Solar Dresses for Sunny Days

It's been awhile. Sorry about that. Life gets all whirl-windy and somethings just get pushed back.

I haven't sewn since before we moved. In December. Yep, it's been that long since I've pinned and cut and measured. I've missed it.

I decided this week will be my sewing week. I have a nearly eight year old that is getting too tall for her summer clothes and the budget is too broke for store bought goodies. I like them in knee-length or lower, little girls like to forget they're wearing dresses when it's playtime. I brought out all the fabric I've had boxed away since the holidays. Thanks to a free tutorial from Vegbee, Solar Dress, my girls are now the super proud owners of some light and airy summer dresses complete with pockets.

Please excuse the lack of iron. I can't find it.

When did she get so big??

I swear I didn't photoshop this. That fabric is just this bright.

It's a great dress for dancing.

And for jumping.

And playing.

Once I got down the instructions with Olivia's dress (the blue), it took me much less time to crank out the other two. It's a very simple pattern and free. Which makes sunny summer days totally cool.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Putting up.

I've been renewing my interest in stocking my own pantry. Moving always seems to set me back. I'm making a list of all the things I'd like to have on hand that will be versatile and lasting. Next month, I'm planning to invest in some food grade 5 gallon buckets and gamma lids.

I've always been into stock piling. I buy everything and anything that I think will be used later on if it's got a really good deal attached to it. Years ago, I once bought 87 tubes of toothpaste from CVS that were on sale and I had coupons for. I think I ended up paying about $3.50 for all of it. We're still using them up.

Even though I'm now experiementing making my own toothpaste I just can't let go of those bargain tubes I have on hand. Waste not, want not, right?

I think it stems from my childhood where -while I wasn't deprived- I was concious of our inability to just go buy whatever we wanted when we wanted it. My mom had me hunt coupons every Sunday for the sweet cereal I wanted because we couldn't otherwise afford it.


Bologna and boxed Mac and Cheese were staples. I remember counting pennies from the coin jar so mom could go buy milk for that mornings cereal -which I sometimes ate for dinner, too. My favorite sandwich was simply tomato and mayo on white bread when the cold cuts ran out. Even though we were poor, somehow I never really felt it.

Until, I became a grownup. 

Reflecting on how things were for us I can see where my need to stockpile food and supplies comes into play. I'm nervous about not having enough for my kids. I'm worried every month that, for whatever reason, we don't get paid (which had happened to us for 9 weeks once) and can't afford food.


Learning to can has helped me tremendously. Once I got over my fear that I would kill everyone off from bacteria, that is. I'm hoping with the garden to be able to can and preserve a lot of our own foods. I'm hoping to start a grain storage supply next month with things like oats, beans, and rice. The logistics are still being worked out as to how this will get accomplished.

I'm working on my fears a little at a time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

500 down

I just reviewed my 500th book on Goodreads. I'm sure there are books I've read that I haven't remembered. Most of these have written comments. I can't believe I've read so many books.

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2614810-crystal

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fresh Baked


My virtual friend Ara over at My Edible Yard has a fantastic recipe for white wheat bread.  I made it this morning which makes 2 loaves and already the kids and I have devoured about 2/3's of one. I have been trying to make all our own bread from scratch and this recipe is ridiculously easy and tasty. You can also break it out for rolls. I'm going to try it for english muffins but I need to buy more yeast.

I've made it twice, once using raw Honey and this time Agave nectar and couldn't tell a difference so whatever sweetener you have on hand should work just fine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Me, Myself and the hundred other people in my head

I like to think that I am a creative person. Though, labeling myself in the positive is difficult for me -I'm working on that. Thirty years old (yes, I actually copped to it) and I still have a hard time with self-image and positive reinforcement of Me. I allowed too many people to put me down as an insecure and abused teen. I allowed too many people to use me.

I still have dreams, though. Lots and lots of them. But I still allow decade plus past put downs to strangle my desires.

When I was a kid -like early teens- I wanted to be a writer. Like professionally. With books. Written words have been my life before I started keeping memories. I devoured novels before first grade and haven't ever stopped. Just this past week I've read four books. My e-reader is my favorite toy. I read to put myself to sleep, to stop my ever-racing mind. It's a release from reality and I can't be without it.

I have always wanted to give that gift to others. I've always wanted to put my stories to print.

I hear a bit of music, an overheard line of conversation between two people, a painting, a photograph and my mind starts reeling with the possibilities. Characters come to life on their own; small acts jump into my brain, conversations thick with emotions play out in my imagination. They name themselves, they show me their faces, tell me a bit of their stories. Who they are and where they come from I can't tell you. They just are.

I try and capture them but so many times they slip away.

Sometimes I'm able to work on a story line, get down those words or write a character description but life constantly gets in the way. I would engross myself in my own words as I do so often with other people's. But I can't.  

I'm annoyed with myself and frustrated when the snippets of stories thrust into my skull don't want to work out in letters. I get to a point that I loose the objective and spiral into asking questions that may not even matter. Who are these people? What are they doing? Why does she act like such a bitch? Is this paragraph/chapter/description long enough? I've never been to Chicago, how can I write about it?

Nothing ever gets completed and I'm left feeling lost at the end of a tunnel I'd been led down and throughly abandoned. And still I walk around, garden, shop, shower with the ideas and lives of other people scurrying around in my mind. I wonder if it shows.

Is this how it is for all writers? I don't know. Do other people have this problem too? Do they reside in rubber rooms? My lack of completion makes me feel sketchy even considering myself a writer. My lack of devotion to the craft solidifies that feeling. Writers should write. Yes? But there is so much more to me than writing. So much more than comes before it.

So, I don't label myself. I don't commit. And life goes by as I continue to be just me, myself and a hundred other people.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's that time of year again

It's time for us to start looking at new homeschool materials, evaluate what worked or didn't and see what new things we want to add to our schedule. It's a daunting task, to be honest. While the Virgo in me loves the planning, sifting through enormous amounts of online materials searching for that gem of a workbook or product to fill an educational need makes me want to pull my hair out.


There are times when a box of curriculum looks really tempting. Everything I'd need to teach all wrapped up in a neat little box. I know families that have found these boxes work well for their kids. And I sometimes envy them. But we started out five years ago with a four year old that learned how to read all by himself. Spelling and writing shortly followed and before I knew it the five year old Alex was getting into first grade materials.

I didn't hold him back. I didn't want to.

Part of our reasoning for choosing homeschool is to allow them to grow and develop at their own paces. Similar to a Montessori method of education where the are allowed to progress as they grow and learn instead of enlisting rigid parameters based on the calandar year or age. But I now have a nearly nine year old that is in third grade for somethings, fourth for others and even fifth on a few which makes coordinating his school a tad difficult.


I also do not use the exact same things for each child. Since they grow and develop at different rates, they also have different learning methods. Alex is very literal, he can take written words and follow directions to complete tasks with minimal assistance and retain the knowledge. On the other hand, Olivia is very tactile needing to see with her hands how something is done or should be. Videos and manipulatives work better for her, workbooks and texts work better for Alex. Then Cordelia (6) is more like Alex but enjoys the tactile or visual learning aids as well. And I still have two other kids to figure out over the next few years.

All in all, it makes for a very hectic time of year in which I try and take a small budget and wrap it around learning styes and materials. Our favorite website http://www.rainbowresource.com/ has a huge library of materials at discounted prices. We also go through a Homeschool buyers co-op and  have gotten some really great prices on http://www.ixl.com/ and http://www.brainpop.com/ Right now the girls are working at http://www.headsprout.com/ which matches up with Olivia's need for tactile and visual aids for reading comprehension.

But it's hard to know what will work and what won't.  There are many things we've invested in that have failed miserably. It makes the decision-making just that much harder. Since I'm also a tactile person (it drives hubby crazy that I like to physically write lists out on paper instead of using the computer or my phone) purchasing online has it's own difficulties for me.

Does anyone have any tips on purchasing materials? I'd love to know!

Friday, February 25, 2011

> 5 minutes

 Yep, that's cream cheese.


Building Character(s)



At dinner we've been starting a new tradition. For the past 2 weeks we all sit together and read a short story from the Character Building Day by Day: 180 Quick Read-Alouds for Elementary School and Home book. There are enough lessons for 180 days and each topic, like diligence, has 5 short stories to go with it. So we can work on a new character building topic each week.


I really can't say enough good things about this book. At the begining of dinner, after everyone has been seated and served, we review the topic heading page about what that specific topic means in general. I ask the kids when they have been diligent (or not) or when that week they could remember being cooperative. These short stories are great for talking about how we should behaive and when. So far all the stories have had positive outcomes -showing examples of cooperation instead of being uncooperative. Which is great since we already have enough negative examples of our own.

I'm really hoping that these lessons will help the children to start identifying on their own positive and appropriate behaivors and traits they'd like to see in themselves. It also makes for a great family dinner conversation!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Visual Aids


This isn't -by far- a new solution. It's not even new to this house (we lost our routine charts when we moved) but I have to say the addition of pictures* has extrodinarily helped with both the enthusiasm and age level of the kids able to participate.

I added a sun to the morning and a moon to the bedtime routine charts. Emmy loves them and thinks she has to push the picture to activate the routine. These are very simplified lists but the vast amounts of help...well, I can't even really express it.

They get it. I don't have to yell. Is it perfect? No, but it helps and I think that's what matters here. At least every morning and evening the kids understand both in words and pictures what I expect of them. There is a tangible chart of things and not just a jarring list mommy rattles off 5 times in 15 minutes at varying levels of aggravated that is too numerous to remember. Is it everything that I need them to do? No, but it's enough for them to accomplish mostly unsupervised and constant. Kids need that. A constant routine in which to gauge their days.

I think routine is most one of the most important (and difficult to attain) things for homeschooled children - especially unschooled- that have no real time table to judge things by. Since we don't get up at the same times every day, school never takes the same set of hours, and our activites vary pretty dramatically from day to day, having the list of things that is unchanging helps them immeasureably. If you have ever read a teaching or parenting book I bet somewhere in there the topic of routines come up. I read about it when we were having behaivor problems with my oldest. The whole giving them a countdown to leaving a fun playdate to help with tantrums and aid transition I can remember reading in multiple books.

Somewhere in the uprooting of house and home I forgot that. Morning and Bedtime Routine charts have become the first on our road to burn-out recovery.

*the clip art I downloaded from http://www.the-lilypad.com/ and is created by Kate Hadfield.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

T'ain't so bad

I realize that many of my posts lately have been high in the complaining department.

I'm sorry. Really. Don't run away.




I've been homeschooling for nearly five years. Which seems like an eternity to those setting out on the homeschooling path but really it's a drop in the bucket. Lately, I've been talking to some people that have been homeschooling for twenty or more years. No joke. People do it and have kids graduating college.


And apparently -according to these HS'ing gurus- the behaivor issues we've been dealing with en masse here are completely normal. Every family I spoke to either in person or online has had these same issues at some point in their homeschooling career. It varied only in intensity and duration but just about every family had a child that displayed all the different "traits" we're dealing with. The overdramatic, the lazy, the easily bored, the self-depreciation. Apparently, it's all COMPLETELY NORMAL.


Completely normal.


It's all part of the ebb and flow that is being with your child(ren) 24/7 for years and years and years. Of being both their parent and teacher. Their mentor and their family. And, did I mention? It's completely normal.


The whole "mommy sucks and I want to go to public school where they have recess and lunch" is just part of the-grass-is-greener syndrome. I appreciate how being at home gives us the opportunity to customize learning to the learner and those "traits" can be dealt with on a case by case basis. Which is what we're working on now (and I will post about that soon and not in a complaining way either, I promise).


I could have posted that everything is just peaches and cream but hearing that so many others are having (or had) the same issues made me feel the need to express our issues homeschooling. It's not all winning science fair projects and perfect quiet reading time. Homeschooling is both a challenge and a pleasure.

Just sometimes it's more one than the other.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fighting. Again. And tests.

Writing words with blocks.

I thought we were doing well. I spent some money I really didn't want to so I could keep the little ones occupied while I was doing school with the big ones. I had given some free and alternative days to break up the monotony of writing work. And now we're back to having bad days.

I get distracted. They slink out of work.

I try and work with them they start crying and whining about how hard it is.


Then we get into a power struggle. Right now Olivia and I are butting heads. We were doing fine (doing the science work from yesterday that somehow we didn't get around to) and she started falling behind, so Cordi and I went ahead and I said (since the part of the work was a little difficult for them to grasp -reorganizing mixed up words to make a 8-10 word sentence) I said Olivia can just copy the sentences.

It's been an hour and fifteen minutes and she's still complaining around a flow of tears.

Everything is distracting her. It's too hard. She wants to write her own sentences (which would be wrong.) Her pencil fell. It's too hard. She can't do it.

Now, she wants me to take her to school.

She got all her work done. This is for fun.

So, I looked it up. Fine by me really, if she wants to see how they push them in schools and what the consequence of this kind of behaivor there would be then be my guest. Writing three sentences by copying is going to be the least of her problems as the school website's main focus is the Testing Schedule.

The kids in the school down the street get tested seven times a school year. Six tests are administered  practicaly monthly and the last (either the FCAT for 3rd and up or the SAT 10 for 1st and 2nd) are week long after a week of test prepping. They even test the kindergarteners multiple times a year. Schools last 10 months (roughly) and the kids are given 7 test through the course of 180 days. Between holidays, days off, half days and all the prepping and actual testing days, when is the learning being done? How can anything be learned in depth? What is retained if shortly after a lesson learning is stopped to work on how to take a test?

I wouldn't push her to write these simple things except that is how things get pushed aside here. They learn (they're smart kids) that if they complain long enough or just flat out silently refuse to do the work mommy will get distracted with something else -be it a baby or a phone call or making food- and forget they're supposed to do it. They move on in their day getting to do what they want to do instead of what they need to do. If I change what we're doing because they protest they'll use it every time to get me to change what they don't like to do. If I say to her now "Ok, lets take a break and go outside" the next day something will be just as hard and she'll look for that break every day. I know my kids, trust me on this.

How do I instill a sense of responsibility in them? I'm so weary of all the fighting.