Friday, June 27, 2008

The Curriculum Hunt Begins!

I love this part - I am a curriculum and resource JUNKIE! I'll keep you posted as things progress. My Rainbow Resource catalog is covered with drool *blush* and I can't blame any of the little people for that!

Three things Bean would like to learn about this year:

"Dogs - d-o-g-s" she says
"Caterpillars - c-a-t-e-r-p-e-l-r-s"
"I got one more, right? Dolphins. D-o-l-f-e-n-ss. Put a double "s." Can we put a double "s" because I want to learn about lots of dolphins."

I love it. In that same spirit. I would like some Little Debbiessssss. ;) ;)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort

This article was posted on one of my Classical Education Lists today. I thought it was interesting and entertaining, though (and perhaps) dangerously stereotypical. However, still a nice read - especially the statistics concerning how much money homeschoolers save the state!! I should let my kids read it, though - so they can see that they are supposed to be today, well behaved children in public. I guess they missed that memo. I'll have to clue them in.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yeah, so . . . Bean can read

I've been thinking about how I should begin this post for a little while now. I decided to just throw this information out there all nonchalant-like, sounding like Meredith Grey, even to myself (obscure pop culture reference for anyone who knows me well) and not even address the fact that I have been totally MIA for over a month now.

So, as I was saying - my little Bean is a reader!! This is such a big huge stinkin' deal - and not because we've been "working on it." Truth be told, she probably would have been reading months ago if we had been "working on it" but I was just letting her write away, spelling things in that beautiful phonetic childhood way, filling up pages that I LOVE LOVE LOVE - or as she would say "LuV LuV LuV" because, not only is she all about phonetics, but she is also quite fond of the lower case, or baby "u". . . and "e."

ANYWAY - I got her a new table and a set of chairs from Target, because she really had outgrown her other one. By the time I had the table and one chair put together, it was 7 o'clock at night and it was time to get Mighty Mouse and the Sweet Pea ready for bed and Bean is begging to "do homeschool." I apologize a hundred times over and tell her it will have to wait til tomorrow. She begs to please just do a couple of pages in her workbook. (I bought a couple of those Kindy and 1st grade workbooks at Target months and months and months ago just for this type of occasion.)

So she begins her workbook thing as I'm beginning the ready for bed thing - soon she comes running into the room "MAMA!!!! I CAN READ!!!!"

She'd grabbed the first grade workbook and there was a colour by word picture of the Easter Bunny, with eggs all around him. She points to one of the eggs and reads the word inside it, "green." Then then next: "pink." Of course, bedtime routine is put on pause and she read all the rest of the colours to me - all in lower case letters - black, orange, blue, red, yellow, grown, purple.


The kid can read. Just like that.

I said its a big huge deal because it seemed like such an insurmountable task when we first committed to homeschool (before she was even born) and even more daunting as we began "kindergarten" last fall. Yet, voila - here we are. What an accomplishment for us both, to be honest. I'm certain that every homeschooling parent has those doubts that linger in on darker days - are you giving your child everything she needs and deserves in the realm of education. Are you really cut out for this? Are you really able to do it. I think the first step on that journey of "Holy cow - seriously?" that you find yourself standing shakily on, as you begin to homeschool the younger child any way, is the idea of teaching them to read. I mean, let's face it - we can chalk everything else up to homeschooling ideology or curriculum pace but there is nothing enigmatic about reading - either they can or they can't. Period. Even though we were relaxed about it and I was fine if she didn't learn for another 6 months or so, it's still a nice hurdle to have sailed over, feeling the word "flying colours" take to the skies of my heart.

My little Bean is a reader.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Poet Laureate of 95 South

Well. What a drive. All I can say was that it was so memorial, so eventful, so inspirational that I wrote a poem about it - stopped just over 60 miles from our destination, I was moved to create verse, at a BP station:

Ode to Exit 58

Twenty-three hours into a twelve hour journey.
One sleepless night in a bad hotel.

Toddler screaming
Duckie squeaking
Movie blaring
Toy blinking.

If you lived here, you'd be home by now.
Yes, let's move to you:
Lovely town of Exit 58.

Yup. I think that says it all.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mr. Street

This was so one of those chance things - from the beginning. I was on my way to pick up dinner, decided to see if I could cut through a neighbourhood to save time and ended up driving by Mr Street's house. It was December 2004. His house was decorated . . . you would not believe it. It was beautiful. He must have had 10,000 lights up, including a red sleigh, ascending to the tree tops, pulled by 8 reindeer made out of white lights. There was even a 6 foot Santa in a shed by the street corner, who worked on a motion sensor and when a car drove by, the music would begin to play and he would start dancing. Now, I must say that I can let tacky slide at Christmas, in the lights and decoration department ONLY, if it seems to be done with heart or with children in mind, but this was not tacky. This was the kind of magical looking yard that would make adults drive by slowly, even without their children in the car. It took you back to the wonder of childhood Christmases. It took decades off your life. At the sight of Mr Street's Christmas decorations, we were all 9 1/2 again. It was magic.

The next night, I took Bean back to see Mr Street's yard and the dancing Santa. She was awestruck. It became a Christmas tradition . . . the countdown from Thanksgiving, waiting for the day when we would drive by and find Mr Street had begun to decorate!

This year, Bean and I created a new tradition and it was truly my favourite part of Christmas this year. Every night after dinner and her teeth were brushed and she was in her pj's, we would drive around and look at Christmas lights. We did this every evening in December. Sometimes Mighty Mouse would come too, but, if Daddy was home, it was just me and the Bean. We picked a different neighbourhood (sub-division) every night however, at least 5 times a week, no matter where in the area we were, would would end up driving past Mr Street's house. His house is on the corner of the main subdivision street and a cul-de-sac. There was ALWAYS a line of three or four cars making a U-turn in the cul-de-sac to come back and stop in front of Santa. We would all patiently wait our turn while the children in the car ahead of us got their dancing Santa fix for the evening.

A few days after Christmas I drove past his house and saw an elderly gentleman outside. I pulled around the cul-de-sac and stopped at his driveway. I asked him if he owned the house and he said he did. I told him about Bean and how much she loved his decorations and how much we appreciated him putting them up every year. He told me how, every year he decides not to do it, but teenagers in the neighbourhood beg him to do it, because he had been putting them up for 20 years, since before they were born. Parents, who had enjoyed the decorations as teenagers, or younger, bring their children back to see them every year. He laughed and said "I just can't stop." He told me how he'd often find letters to Santa in the mailbox beside the dancing-Santa's house and how next year her was going to put a note in the community newsletter to tell parents that, if their child puts a letter to Santa in the mailbox, to please include their return address because he would like to answer every letter he received. He went on to tell me about his wife, who has Alzheimer's, who he was caring for at home. It was such an amazing, yet short visit. I drove away thinking how glad I was that I had been driving by when I was and that I was even more glad I stopped and got a chance to thank Mr Street for the Christmas magic.

Well, this week, I was driving by his house, on my way to the same restaurant I was visiting when I first discovered his magical decorations and saw the sleigh, again on the front yard.

It was so strange, how I just cried. I thought about his wife, first. I thought about how much joy he brought to so many people, just by putting up Christmas lights. I thought about him wanting to respond to children's letters to Santa and I just couldn't stop crying. You know, we'll probably move to a different city by the end of summer. We're on our way out of town for almost 2 weeks. Just like chance meeting with Mr Street, if I hadn't been driving through his neighbourhood that afternoon, I would have missed seeing this memorial. It probably won't still be up when we return from Florida. I would have left the area and never known he's passed away. I am so glad I saw this. I hurried home to get my camera and drove back to take this picture. Bean drew a picture of dancing Santa for us to take to the sleigh tomorrow, before we leave town.

Now, I don't want to get all preach-y with you, but it struck me that you never know how the little things you do, like Christmas lights, will affect those around you and, also, you should never miss an opportunity to tell someone how their life has touched yours.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The end of another week

And we survived! LOL LOL!

Not only that - but we had some fun, did some homeschool - left the house TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I know! =) =) Watched some Lost and Grey's Anatomy! (Woo hoo!) Found out one of my closest friends - a truly wonderful woman and mother, who is expecting her 6th child in the fall is having a boy! We all thought girl. Either way, a wonderful blessing.

This week we are off to Florida to surprise my grandmother for Mother's Day - so any family reading this, don't tell Grandmommy we're coming! Shhhhh. I'm so looking forward to it - now, the 12 hour car ride down with the three girls, not so much . . . but that's ok.

This week will be packing, cleaning, and schooling. For now, we're just enjoying our after church afternoon. Hope you are too.

Oh - leaving you with a picture of my middle child - my Mighty Mouse in Florida last year.

I love this picture. Not only did I blow it up big, I made it into a canvas. Love it. Anyway - have a wonderful week ahead, and if I don't talk to you before I leave for Florida:

- Have fun
- Stay safe
- Get dirty
- Play in the yard
- Eat chocolate
- Play Scrabble with someone you love
- HUG the babies!!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Look - two posts in one week!

I must be ignoring my laundry and dishes. ;) ;) Actually, this is a victory post. I left the house with all three little people today. lol! I can't believe in two months of my new little girl's life, today was the first time I was out with all three. Well, let's see . . . after a c-section, I couldn't drive for however many weeks, I had family here for a month after her birth, my husband's schedule always enabled me to leave the two older ones at home or my little middle child at home to take Bean to an activity.

Let me digress. My middle girl. My little Love Bug. I often say that, though I only have three children, I should be scored as if I had seven, because my middle, beautiful, sweet little 21 month old girl is like 5 boys. She weighs about 22 pounds and is the most loving child you could ever imagine - hugs everyone. Her first sentence was "I love you." She can melt your heart. Totally. She also climbs out of her crib, surfs in the rocking chair, has a mean pitching arm and the healthiest lungs you have ever heard. My husband calls her "Tank," because she is tough as nails and nothing stops her. I think Mighty Mouse is more accurate, either way, she is high speed, low drag. (I think I'll refer to her as Mighty Mouse on this blog from now on, btw.)

Back to today. I was determined, last night when I went to bed at 9:45 that we would go to Whole Foods today. Yes. We would. We. Would.

We did. Little Baby Sweet Pea was up from 4am until 5:50. Still. We were going to Whole Foods. Me and the Power of Three. LOL! I must say, they did great! Baby girl rode in the sling. The two older ones rode in a car buggy - BLESSINGS on the head of the person who decided that you could shorten the cart and shorten the car and a harried mother wouldn't need to apply for a special driver's licence to push the darn thing through the supermarket! About the 4th isle is, we came upon the Fruity Booty and Veggie Booty - my children actually squealed at the site of the bags. "Can we open one now???!!!" "Why, yes you can." And that was the last we heard from inside the car buggy until we passed by the chocolate. ;) ;)

Baby Girl slept through the whole trip and the ride home! We pulled into the driveway and the baby and "Mighty Mouse" were out like lights. Bean says "Let's go somewhere else." Can anyone say 'Cabin Fever?' I tell her, we can't. There are groceries to put away, they need to go into the fridge. Her response - which I totally loved "They're in cold bags. They can just hang out." LOL! Hang out! Chillin' like tater tots, apparently.

We didn't go anywhere else. We quit while we were ahead. I was feeling adventurous, not stupid. We did come in, eat lunch, put Mighty Mouse down for a nap. Nursed the Baby Girl and she hung out under the baby gym while Bean and I did a bit of homeschool. She is a workbook fanatic, so I caved and let her do 4 or 5 pages, then we got back to numbers. Mastering the teens into the 30's. I'm not sure where she "should be" with her numbers and I don't care (in case that was your next question.) I took all my math classes twice in college. I hated math and have tons of "math baggage," to this day! I will not hand that down. We are taking math slowly. She likes it. When she gets frustrated (rarely with homeschool) or seems to be fidgety, we stop. The ability to do that is why we homeschool in the first place. At any rate, she was thrilled to catch on so quickly. I think out math lesson took about 15 - 20 min total. Go Bean. Then it was off to gymnastics. Tomorrow is Irish Dance and hello weekend.

I thought I'd leave you with another photograph. This was taken in front of a beautiful Catholic church up the street. My little hippie Bean: