Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pressure Continued

Continued from This Post...

So, I decided Sweetheart was ready to begin Kindergarten when she "should" have, according to our state law. That means that she was 4 YEARS OLD for the first 2 weeks of school. What was I thinking? She was so excited though and loved it.

By the way, I don't remember ever asking my husband what he thought about her starting or waiting a year. I thought it was all up to me. I was an independent working woman who made all the decisions about What could my husband say that would help? Sigh.

Anyway, she started Kindergarten. I quit work that year because we couldn't find care for 9 month old Little Bit and be able to shuttle Sweetheart to and from Kindergarten too. So I babysat for extra money and stayed home. So WHY didn't I keep Sweetheart home? I could have had a whole year at home with her! It's because I felt she needed to start. I felt she was ready. There was pressure, people!

And three weeks into Kindergarten, when my baby had been 5 for a whole week, the teachers called me in for a conference. They were concerned that Sweetheart didn't know all of her letter sounds.

Excuse me?

Was there some memo that said I was supposed to teach her a certain number of things BEFORE she began school? I thought I sent her to school to LEARN. Well, as it turned out...she did know her sounds she was just nervous when they tested her. I asked them to try again and spend a few minutes chatting with her before they began. It worked. And the teachers explained to me that they had so far to go with the kids they had to know their letters and sounds at the very beginning of the year.

I won't even go into detail about all the things Sweetheart had to be able to do in Kindergarten, or what an effort it was for us to keep up. I should have waited. I had no idea Kindergarten would be like that. Thus, she repeated first grade later.

We still have pressure though. Thank goodness we are out of the public school pressure factory where, this year, she would have to pass the state's test in order to go on to 4th grade...even if all of her grades were passing. I can't even let myself think about the pressure those poor public schooled kids down the road are under. I know. I used to be the Applier of the Pressure.

But there is still pressure. Pressure to be involved in all sorts of activities. Scouts, sports, clubs, organizations, etc. etc. etc. There are so many things to do that are really good things for your kids to do...and we have to choose. This year, money is helping us choose to say no to a lot of things and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.

Do you know that children used to get raised all the way up without ever participating in an extra-curricular activity? Unheard of, I know. I believe that what they can learn at home is wonderful. I believe in our family doing things together---not apart. I believe in a lot of things....but I still feel badly that we aren't doing __________. It's that pressure. I feel that I am letting my kids down, that they are not getting the good experiences that other kids are getting. I feel guilty.

Does anyone else have this pressure? Someone tell me it's OK that my kids are home.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feeling Crafty

I am! I have been searching and reading tutorials on all kinds of crafty things online. My husband is changing jobs and the financial transition is going to be a doozy! So, I expect it to be a lean Christmas unless I can find a way to make it wonderful.

Enter homemade gifts! I remember one Christmas when S and I were dating, we made gifts for each other. He built me a hope chest and I sewed him a shirt. Or, I hung out with my mom while she sewed him a shirt and then let me mess it up every now and then. Back in the olden days when times were tougher, folks gave hand-made gifts. I am sick when I think of how much money we throw down in our country on Christmas gifts. Now I will be buying my girls some toys, but the grown ups in our life are getting more practical things.

I'm hoping all this sewing will polish up my skills enough so that I can start selling some things for extra money.

Don't they call hand-made things that are a little bit messed up, "charming"?

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.


When Sweetheart was a baby I signed her up for Gymboree classes. I was a working mom so I had to go to an evening class. My co-teacher brought her baby along and we had a great time. During the summer we went to the daytime classes. I don't regret going to Gymboree (and wished I could have taken Little Bit too) especially since our house flooded that summer and Gymoree was about the only place she could play and walk without Sheetrock dust, nails, wet paint, and hard concrete under foot!

But the reason I signed her up for those classes (which were a bit expensive) was because I felt she needed to "do something." When she was 2 and 3 years old she didn't do any extra-curricular activities that I can recall. She went to the baby sitter's house every day and they lived life. So, she got to go to the dollar store, the post office, run through Sonic, whatever...every day. I was glad she wasn't just stuck in one room of a day care all day, even though I wished it was me running errands with her.

Then came the great Kindergarten dilemma. Sweetheart's birthday is late in August so I knew I had a decision to make. I knew from teaching that late August babies are not often top of the class. In fact, whenever we would go over data from our state's test, I would notice every August birthday. It wasn't very reassuring. Still, all my friends told me she would be fine to start school. She's a girl, they said. She's your oldest. She'll be fine, they told me. I wanted to believe them. She certainly seemed smart enough.

Still, if I was even going to consider putting that child in Kindergarten, I knew she would need Pre-K. I mean, you have to get kids ready for kindergarten these days, you know? I even bought this book. Which is a good book by the way. I looked up every checklist I could find on the internet about how to tell if your kid is ready for school.

So I found a preschool I liked. It was developmentally appropriate. They didn't have a "curriculum." They didn't do seatwork. It was great. They had an opening for Tuesdays and Thursdays so we took it. She really loved going. I thought it was a good experience for her. She could learn to get in line, listen to the teacher, follow directions that are given to a whole group and not just her, and have some fun. It was a little expensive, but I just can't drop kids into kindergarten anymore! You have to prepare them!

On a side note, when I was student teaching I spoke to one of the veteran teachers one day. She said when she first started teaching, the first day of first grade was often the first time children had been away from their mommies. They walked up clinging to mommy's leg and they spent the first part of school learning their ABC's. Nowadays, she said, these kids have all been to daycare. They know their ABC's and a lot of other things too. They have essentially been in "school" their whole lives. BUT, they don't have any social skills. The students of old had respect for teachers and mommy had taught them manners before they began school. It's a different age now.

That's why I thought I needed her to go to pre-k. How could she keep up with all the other kids who had been to daycare and preschool if I didn't?

And, as it turns out, I was kind of right. be continued...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back in the Homemaking Saddle

I have been so busy getting ready for the school year and thinking about homeschooling and writing about homeschooling and preparing for homeschooling (repeat...add a different verb each time) that I haven't had time for much else.

Sweetheart celebrated her 9th birthday on Friday and that took a bit of planning and organizing as well. See, she wanted a surprise party. How do you plan a surprise party for someone who has asked for a surprise party and lives with you? Well, I pulled it off. It was really fun and I'm glad it's over.


I've been reading articles this weekend about homemaking and making our homes lovely. I'm feeling re-inspired about this space we live in. Homeschooling is a part of our day and a part of our life, but we live in this home always. We are in serious need of some cleaning out. I know this because my daughters can only find 50% of the shoes they own. Both of them are missing one shoe each of at least 2 pairs. Each. So, their closet is obviously in need of some work.

And our bedroom? I don't even want to talk about it.

Hey, at least I haven't misplaced 50% of the children!

Anyway, I have been thinking about what a privilege it is to be a homemaker and all the many, many opportunities we have to bless our families. I am determined to learn the skills that I have missed out on in a decade+ of working outside the home. Just imagine what a good cook or seamstress or homemaker I could be by now! I will definitely encourage my daughters to learn the skills they will need as they are growing up. What a blessing to enter marriage already knowing how to do things that I am learning as an adult!

So, tonight I will be writing down some homemaking goals. Just a little list to refer back to so I don't forget what I want to accomplish. I believe I will also write down some homemaking goals for the girls, according to their ages.

I'll go ahead a share one goal with you: I'm trying to learn to sew. Well, I can sew, but as I have shared with you before, I am mostly good at sewing squares and rectangles. You know, curtains, pillows, etc.

But this weekend I sewed this!
I really did! I am so excited about it! I got the idea from Rachel at Huse Blog Is It Anyway? and here is the link where she got the idea. I think the dresses look better made out of a print shirt, but someone passed these shirts to S and they didn't fit use what you have. So basically, the dress was...FREE! You don't even have to make button holes becuase you use the ones from the shirt! And I'll give credit to my sister who helped cut the dress out and figure all the measuring which tends to make my head hurt. She's making one for her little one also.

Next I will try to make a shirt for Sweetheart with this method. I hope to make a shirt long enough to wear over leggings. Is that called a tunic? Or does a tunic have to have sleeves?

I have no idea.

So, on this day in history, Brenda sewed something that was NOT a square or rectangle.

I feel like a better homemaker already.

What have you been learning to do lately?

If you want to know what all you can sew from squares and rectangles, just check out my former successes with these 2 shapes:

duvet cover (I get more google hits for this post! I so apologize to those who are honestly searching for directions on how make a duvet cover. I'm sorry.)
I've also made some rag quilts. They were insanely easy but I don't have pictures. Here are the directions I used.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wants and Needs--The Keepin' It Real Version

**OK, so I'm not the only one with these thoughts. You recieve. A KIR post about Wants and Needs. Join in on the Mr. Linky at the end!

Children have trouble distinguishing between those two things, wouldn't you say? My kids want everything they see at the store. Everything they see on commercials. Everything they see that someone else has. Earlier in the summer I threatened to not take them to anymore stores EVER because I was so sick of "the gimmes." It's not like they get stuff from me when they do that either, but still they try. None of the things they ask for are needs in my opinion. Food, water, shelter, and medical care...those are needs. Well, as it turns out, I have the same trouble as my girls.

Whenever our finances are in a crunch, I have a tendency to feel a bit sorry for myself. Some things are easy for me to do without. Others things, not so much. Even though we don't go on vacations every year or own the latest techno gadgets, or shop at expensive stores for the latest clothing...we have really never been without. We have had food. We have had water. We have had shelter and medical care.

So what's the problem? I'll tell you what I think: the problem is perspective.

My children love their toys and their room until we visit some one's house who has something cooler. My children wouldn't even know about many things that there are to have were it not for the TV. The truth is, they are mostly satisfied until they find out there are other things out there to be had.

Isn't it the same with grown-ups? We've had a lot of fun these last 6 months! We went to the beach numerous times, visited Moody Gardens, toured an old submarine and ship, rode the ferry, swam and swam and swam, played golf, went to lots of parks together...we've done a lot of fun things as a family! Then I heard about so-and-so's vacation and I felt bad for us. Why? Were we denied something that we needed? Certainly not!

Maybe it's the neighbor's pool, or their car, or their job--coveting our neighbor's stuff is far too easy to slip into--even for adults. But when we keep our eyes on the One who provides everything good, it gets much easier. If we would just stop looking around at the things of this world (which moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal) and look only to God, we would realize that we are blessed beyond measure. That example would surely be great for our children too, don't you think?

Do you have some thoughts about wants and needs? Sign up on the Mr. Linky below and share with the rest of us. This is apparently a hot topic! Make sure you link not just to your blog in general, but to the exact post you are writing or others will not be able to find it later. If you don't know how to do that, shoot me an e-mail. I once was also lost on that topic, but now I know the answer and I'll be happy to help you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For the Love of Reading

I have decided something. According to my experiences in public school, both as a student and as a teacher, I have decided that public school kids are very nearly illiterate. I'm not talking about your kid if you have children in public school. I'm talking about my experience as compared to homeschooling.

This thought first began to form in my brain at the beginning of the summer when I was looking for book lists. I wanted to find suggested lists of children's books so that when we went to the library we didn't wander around and come home with the same old things we always did. Well, during my research I stumbled on a book list from a public school. At the bottom of the list it said something about how the goal of their school district was for each student to read 25 books during the course of the year.

Then, I ran across Sprittibee's list of books read when her children were in first and second grade homeschool. There were 412 books listed!!!!! Folks, that is a huge difference.

So, I thought back to my own experiences as a first grade teacher. I read a big book with the class each day. I probably read another book to them during the course of the morning, and we read a chapter of a chapter book each day after lunch. Other than that, they read "little books" which were leveled books used to teach reading. They are about 8 pages each. Students read anywhere from 2-7 of those a day. Then they had to read some little books for homework. And besides reading directions off the board (which were also read to them) and words off of the word wall, that was about the extent of their reading during the day at school.

When I taught 3rd grade we had D.E.A.R time each day (Drop Everything And Read) but there was no guarantee that students were reading. Mostly they were sitting quietly with a book open because that's what they were told to do. They had reading assignments that we all read together one painful paragraph at a time because there were 22 different reading levels in the room. I read chapters and chapters to them each day after lunch. BUT, that was soon over as more and more classtime was sucked up by the state test. The last few years I taught, I'm not sure those kids heard a story read to them all year. They read reading passages for practice, and they participated in the library incentive reading program. Before that reading program at my school, students were allowed to check out one library book per week which they were not allowed to take home. I'm not even kidding. I took a survey each year I taught and probably only 10% of my class had a library card.

Some of that is because of where I taught. Some of that is a fact of public schools today. Recess was cut to 10 minutes per day. Some teachers would save up and go every other day for 20 minutes so it would even be worth their time to line up at the door. There just was no time for "frivolous" things like recess and reading. It wasn't always like that--but it is now.

I'm not saying parents can't do something about this. Your home can be as literate as you want it to be. I'm just amazed at the difference between homeschooling and what I know of public school.

There is so much more than passing the state test. There is the knowledge gleaned from reading. There is the freedom to browse and choose books just because you are interested in them. There is the love of reading. There is the cuddle factor. There is SO MUCH that is important about reading. Wonder when schools will wake up?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Status Update

Physical: I am eating bell pepper right now. My sister has been losing weight this summer and she's been eating bell pepper all summer. She's want something crunchy. You want to take your hand to your mouth multiple times. Bell pepper does the trick. I need to get back to sunflower seeds in the evenings. I want to snack but I'm not exactly hungry. Sunflower seeds take a lot of work, get you that hand-to-mouth movement we crave, and are not exactly high in calories.

I expect my pants to just fall off at any moment.

Educational: The kids are on a break right now from school. Actually Little Bit never even joined us this morning. Oh well--she's 4! Go play! We just need to finish up spelling, history, and reading and we'll be done for the day.

House: Half-n-half. The kitchen looks great! The living room, not so bad. The playroom is horrible. And it took the girls 1 hour 15 minutes to clean up their room this morning. There are no toys in their room, by the way. So how HOW could they mess it up that badly over the weekend? The little over-achievers.

Financial: We paid the bills. We bought groceries. We are done. It' called Automatic Frugal Living. As opposed to frugal living by choice.

Spiritual: God is good. Still depending on Him. Class was not so good Sunday morning. Husband discussed why all the way home. I love those talks. I learn a lot from him. I miss our Bible study friends. They come over every other Friday for Bible study but their 10 year old is autistic and they can't just leave him with anyone and her mom has been sick Bible study. And we have really good ones too!

Family: Getting ready for Sweetheart's 9th birthday on Friday! I absolutely cannot believe we have been parents that long! She wanted a surprise party which she is now deeply regretting because it's killing her curiosity in a big way. She'll live.

How are things in your world? Join me for a Status Update! Just leave me a comment and I'll go check yours out on your blog! Or, leave it in the comments!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Struggle

Do you want to know what I struggle with? It's knowing when to sit still and when to act. I'll explain.

We have a problem. I pray. That's starting to be my first response. (That did not used to be the case.) Then, after I struggle starts. Now what do I do? Do I just sit here in faith and wait for God to present the solution to my struggle? Or do I take action?

In America we have a very "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality. That sometimes gets in the way of trusting the Lord. On the other hand, I don't want to be like the guy who is standing in the middle of the street with a Mac truck coming at me praying, "Lord, should I move?"

I have certainly been in the position before where all I could do was sit and wait. And God came through in a BIG way. The answer to our prayers was literally deposited in our lap.

I think about the Israelites when they stood at the edge of the water with the Egyptians coming up fast behind them. Surely it seemed to them that there was no answer for their problem. Who could have ever imagined that God would part the water?

But on the other hand, how can I sit here praying and NOT do the common sense things that need to be done to solve my problem. I mean, it's only responsible to do what I can. I can't just sit here with my life in a mess and keep praying for God to fix it. Right?

Oh well. I am sure this doesn't make any sense. I am also certain that the answer could be found in scripture. So I will go look now.

Don't you love a deep post with no answer whatsoever?

Friday, August 15, 2008


I just read that Nastia Liukin weighs 99 pounds. As in...under 100 pounds. LESS THAN 100 POUNDS. And she's muscular. And, to add insult to injury--she was born my freshman year of college. As in...when I was 18 and not 99 pounds.

I am old and I am fat. And I have snacked my way through the Olympics far too many nights on the couch this week.

What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I never in all my life remember my mom playing with me. That is not a sad statement by the way.

My mom did not work outside of the home until I was in fourth grade. I was the youngest in the family, so she had been home quite some time. I remember feeling very neglected when she went back to work. I was just like my friend Carrie who had a house key and went home to an empty house every day. Well, that is what I liked to imagine when I was feeling sorry for myself, anyway! The truth was, my dad worked shift work and was home a lot. My big sister got home from junior high 30 minutes after I got home, and my mom could take off anytime she needed to when we were sick or even to pick us up from school if it was raining. I was hardly on my own. I didn't even get a house key out of the deal.

But when my mom was a homemaker, I never remember her playing with us. If she was sewing, we wandered in and started bothering her. She gave us her button box and an empty egg carton and we sorted buttons happily at the table beside her. If she was folding laundry, we put on a record and danced around the living room while she folded clothes. If she was sorting laundry, we wandered into the bathroom and helped. In between these things, we went to our own rooms and played. She stopped to help us dress the Barbie dolls, came and admired the block town we had built, and listened to us read while she sewed. She was always busy, and I never felt neglected. Today, I feel guilty that I don't play with my kids. Why? I read all the time about how we need to just let the housework go so we can spend quality time with our kids. About how we need to make time to play with them.

Now let me back up a minute and say that when my girls were babies of course I played with them. When they were big enough to sit up on the quilt, I stacked blocks with them, made up funny games, tickled them...we had a blast! When they get old enough to use their own imagination...that tapers off. I tried to continue playing with Sweetheart when she was 5 and got her dollhouse. She told me what to say, how to move the dolls, rejected every idea my doll came up with and just basically bossed me around. I was like, "I think you got this. I'll be over here if you need me." The truth is, they don't need me to play with them that much anymore.

Now I'm not saying I never play with them either. We go swimming and play in the pool. We play board games, work puzzles, and color together. We shoot hoops. There are activities we get involved in with each other. I'm just saying I don't go into the playroom and try to enter their pretend world. I don't fit so good in that play kitchen anyway.

I don't know why people say we NEED to play with our kids. My kids are really good at playing without me.

The truth is, I am a homemaker. Of course training and raising my children is more important than the dishes being clean. But I'm not convinced these two activities are two separate things. I think working alongside each other is important. They are learning to be wives, mommies, homemakers, etc. all from example (shudder). I don't have my back turned to them telling them to go away all day. They are (almost) always welcome to join me. They wander in, help me cook a while, and then wander off to play again. They are not neglected. Plus, homeschooling give them LOTS of my attention.

And by the way, I never remember my mom's bedroom being covered over in clothes. She always kept up with the laundry. Hmmm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trial Run and the Clothes Monster

This balancing act of's tough. And ever-changing. When I worked full-time it was even tougher because let's face it, when you are home for a few hours every evening, there isn't much time for housework.

On the other hand, that was a great excuse.

Anyway, this week is our first week to try out our new weekly schedule. So far it's going well. Here it is in case you are interested:

Monday--school and laundry
Tuesday--school and storytime at the library
Wednesday--school and stay home!
Thursday--school and homeschool play group in the afternoon
Friday--school and either book club for Sweetheart or play date with friends at a park
Friday evening--grocery shopping?

I know that isn't the most glamorous way to spend a Friday night, but I'm really trying to get stuff done during the week (laundry and grocery shopping being the big 2) so we can play and relax on weekends. All too often we choose to play on Saturdays together and then spend Sunday afternoons working and doing all the things we need to get done before Monday. That's not the way it should be.

Now I just need to figure out more of a homemaking schedule. I can't say "vacuum on Tuesdays" because I vacuum every day. (We only have carpet in the living room.) But I do need to keep the girls doing their chores and figure out one room to concentrate on every day. I have piles and clutter build up everywhere and I've got to get a handle on it.

I think I will start with clothes. They are everywhere. I think they multiply like rabbits! I have 3 laundry baskets of clean clothes from Monday's trip to the laundromat, I have clothes on the chest at the foot of our bed, clothes that need to be ironed stacked in the laundry room, clothes that were drying from Monday hanging in the laundry room, and clothes that are dirty too. Like I said...they are everywhere!!!

I truly think we just have too many. The girls don't need this many choices. I'm going to have to do what is painful and that is to get rid of "perfectly good" things. Someone else can be blessed. If we had fewer clothes to mess with, I think I would feel better. Gosh, haven't I said this before?

What about you? What kind of clutter tends to take over your house?

Monday, August 11, 2008


The hardest thing about learning how to homeschool, for me, has been teaching two kids at once. Oh, don't get me wrong...I've taught whole groups of children at once. But the age difference in my kiddos is large enough that they very rarely are doing the same thing at the same time.

Sweetheart (3rd grade) needs to do her school work in the mornings. I've done afternoon work with her and it's like pulling teeth. Her head hurts, she cries, she falls apart--it's not pretty. However, catch her in the morning and she's a totally different child.

Little Bit (Pre-K) demands attention. I would like to heed the advice of veteran homeschoolers and give the little one my attention first so her "love tank will be full" or whatever, but she is never satisfied. I can spend tons of one-on-one time with her and she loves it. I can accomplish everything on my to-do list for her school that day and she wants more. She won't just go play already and let me teach her big sister.

So I find myself at the table with a Pre-K student on my left and a 3rd grader on my right. Today the 3rd grader is writing a Proverb from dictation and illustrating it, amidst disscusion to make sure she understood the meaning, while the Pre-K kid has grabbed the pointer and is guiding herself through calendar. OK, I guess we are doing calendar now! Sweetheart is busy so I engage Little Bit in some questions about calendar. She doesn't know the months of the year so I ask Sweetheart to teach her the cute little song she learned in Kindergarten. This requires them to get up so they can do the proper hand motions. OK, back to the chairs. Now Little Bit is working on her Chicka Chicka Boom Boom lapbook. I'm discussing coconuts with her while Sweetheart is doing a 4 digit by 4 digit addition paper. I notice she has started in the thousands place to add. A bit rusty from the summer, dear? I correct her and get her back on track while I answer Little Bit's question about the hump at the bottom of the coconut tree. It's like a little island dear. Just color it red like the rest of the tree or you can leave it white. It's up to you. No, you can't carry the one that far. It has to go to the next door neighbor. See? Carry it to the tens place. Now, what does that equal? Good. No, you don't have to color them all today Little Bit, just finish this page and then we'll do your math.

Fast Forward

See? This is Black Sea that's on your map. You will need to color all the water blue. No, I don't believe the sea is actually black. I don't know why it's named that. We will have to look that up. Yes, Little Bit...glue the coconut on the tree. No, not the trunk. See the book? The coconuts kind of grow up here in the green part. Yes, that's fine. It doesn't matter if they are named the Red Sea or the Black Sea honey, all water is represented by the color blue on a map.

Are you tired yet?

In case you are's worth it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress

*This is another installment of The Family Revised Duets Posts. Today I'm dual posting with Rachel from Huse Blog Is It Anyway? Enjoy!

You know, Little Bit comes by her nickname honestly. She is four and a half years old and I was going to tell you that she had finally outgrown all of her 3T clothing, but then I noticed the dress she wore to church today was a 3T. Well, she mostly wears 4T clothing now.

Actually, she is 4 years and 9 months old. She isn't the youngest grandchild in our family, but she gets all the hand-me-downs. That's one of the perks of being the smallest. Earlier in the summer we visited a church. I walked Little Bit to the 4-5 year olds class and the teacher looked at her and asked sweetly, "Did she just have a birthday?" I told her no, she would be 5 in November. "OH!" the lady replied. "My granddaughter is tiny like that too." I get comments like that often, even though she certainly falls within the normal range in size.

Sometime last year I ran across a blog with pictures of one of the cutest babies I had ever seen. Rachel, the blog's author, was funny and I returned to read her posts and see pictures of her cute, and VERY LARGE baby. (My girls would even say, "Mommy, can we see those big baby pictures again?") Rachel posted Lorelai's "stats" at Christmastime. They were impressive. The more I read Rachel's blog, the more I began to suspect that Lorelai and Little Bit were not too far away from each other size-wise.

The really scary part about that is they are 3 years apart!!!! Man, I really wished we could see them side by side just to get a "real life" comparison. You know, it's hard to tell much just from reading someone's blog.

Then I had an idea. I took Little Bit's picture wearing this yellow dress we had (a hand-me-down of course). It's a 4T dress. Isn't it cute? I left the doorknob in the picture for reference. Then we packed the dress up and mailed it off to Rachel and Lorelai so she could try the dress out. After she's finished, she'll send the dress on to someone else. Thus, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress. It's good to have hobbies.

So, click here to see Lorelai in the dress! You'll be glad you did! Remember, she's one and half!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Olympics--Homeschool Style

We completed our first week of school today. We didn't do every subject, but it was a nice week of easing back into our routine. Tuesday night I suddenly remembered the Olympics were starting today (Friday) and decided to cover the Olympic games with the girls. This is the first Olympics either of them have been big enough to know what is going on. And, it's the only Olympics of Sweetheart's elementary school career. Isn't that crazy?

So I found some free stuff online and made it fit our needs. Here is Sweetheart's (age 8) lapbook:

The middle flips up to show this:

We still have a few things to do inside of hers. And here is Little Bit's (age 4). I just wanted her to understand the basics.

We also made Olympic torches:
I know tissue paper would work better but we didn't have any, OK?

And painted small paper plates for the rings on the Olympic flag:
We were most amazed to learn that in the first Olympics the runners ran naked in the race. Wouldn't you want to, as they say, "gird up your loins" for such an event? Oh well. History is interesting. And learning about the Olympic games lends itself to LOTS of geography. I just had Sweetheart find the places where the games have been held in the past with her finger on the world map. Simple and easy. Towards the end, she was remembering the continents without me having to tell her. We also watched Kerry Strug's famous vault where she hurt her ankle on YouTube. Gotta love technology.

This morning we had the 2008 Family Revised Backyard Olympics. The girls did not compete against each other as that would have been completely unfair. I just made these charts for them and they put a sticker next to each event as they finished it.

First off was the Yard Stick Throw. (Think javelin)

Little Bit needs a little work on her technique. Can you see the yard stick in the picture there?

Next we had a "run" across the yard. (Couldn't call it a race!) Go Little Bit! Sweetheart was too fast for my camera to catch her.

Then we had a Ball Kick. They were supposed to be aiming for marks on the fence but it seemed like they were trying to hit the coach/photographer.

Grandpa cheering on Little Bit.

OK, I know it's not even 9:00AM but it's HOT out here! Let's do some pool events. Little Bit just had to jump in and run around throwing all the floats out of the pool as fast as she could.

Sweetheart also threw out the floats, but she had to swim there and swim "laps" back to the ladder in between each one. I think there is a size requirement on pools for it to be considered a lap, but oh well.
I wanted at least one team event. Here they are running a relay race with a cardboard paper towel tube. I think that's funny.

At the end, we had the award ceremony. I'm happy to say they both got the gold! The gold center cut out of the middle of those plates that we used to make the Olympic rings. How's that for recycling? It was totally unplanned.

Now, lest anyone feel badly after reading this post. (Which the thought of that makes me laugh, but I know how I feel when I read other people's posts...) I'm going to keep it real here. I may have had it all together on homeschooling this week (or not), but while searching for a missing library book, just look at what I found under my bed.

Yes, those are packing peanuts. So I thought really hard to remember where on earth packing peanuts could have come from and then I was from Little Bit's birthday present...LAST NOVEMBER!!!! So, obviously I'm on the "once a year" plan for cleaning out from under our bed!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Clearly, I'm More Qualified Than Other Mothers


Welcome to the first Family Revised Duets post! Karly and I are both posting on this myth today, and we'd like to bust it open. Oh, you people who are homeschoolers may not believe this one, but I've heard it from others. "Oh, I could never homeschool. But you? You've got a teaching degree so...."

I agree. So what?

Honestly, the transition from public school to a "homeschool" mindset has been rough! I read a lot of books before we began and while it all sounded neat, I just didn't really see how it could actually work. I'm also not going to sit here and say that a college degree is completely worthless. Here, I'll lay out both sides.


I'm not sure it's the degree, but probably more like the teaching experience that has given me some ideas for things to do with my daughters. Certain things that I did when I was in the classroom translated well to our homeschool last year. Of course, that will only work for the grades I have experience with. The highest I ever taught was 4th grade. After's all going to be new to me, you know? And that big tub I have out in the garage of teaching junk will be useless. (It's almost all 1st grade stuff so it's kind of dead to us for a few years anyway.)

And I have to say that I have a LOT of training in early literacy. I know now that all you really need to teach kids to read is books, and paper and something to write with. Most homeschool moms probably already know that. I know plenty of classroom teachers who think they can't teach children to read unless they have their entire bag of tricks from their classroom. Trust me, I know. When I quit work I really wanted to pack up my whole reading cart with me because I couldn't see how I could teach without all the things I was used to using in class. Guess what? Turns out what you need for a class of 25 kids and what you need for your own children are totally different things.

How else has being a former teacher helped me? Let's see...

Still thinking....

Yeah, I think I'm done. No, seriously I'm sure there are other benefits, but they aren't coming to me right now. Dealing with irate parents? A non-issue. Navigating the politics of a school staff? Blissfully, a non-issue. Paperwork and training hours and meeting campus, district, and state requirements? A non-issue. Team meetings and district meetings and staff meetings? Gone. SO MUCH of what used to take up my time is gone and I am left with what I know about teaching. And, as it turns out, very little of what I learned as a teacher applies.


It has been so hard getting out of the public school mindset. My body and my brain are stuck on a traditional school calendar. The very idea that parents are in charge of their kids and not the school is still new to me. When I first starting reading things from people who refused to trust the "government" with their children I thought I had stumbled on some crazies! The more I thought about it, and the more my thinking shifted, the more sense it all made. I was able to step back and look at the whole big machine that is the public school system with new eyes.

Honestly, there isn't one thing that I do with my girls that is the same way I would have done it in the the classroom. Every single thing about homeschooling has been new and different to me--and harder to understand because I was coming at it all with the perspective of a classroom. I'm navigating all the homeschool curriculum and methods such as notebooking, lapbooking, etc. and I feel just like a newbie. Just like anyone else.

And more than anything, I'm enjoying loving each one of my students to death, having fun with them, setting our own schedule, adjusting as needed to meet their needs rather than the other way around, and living life with them.

The two (public school and homeschooling) are not even comparable, in my opinion.

Karly is posting on this same topic today. (And she said it so much better than me!) Hop over to her blog and read what she has to say about being a former teacher turned homeschooler!!!!

Any of you former or current teachers want to join in? Leave your piece in the comments section.

Monday, August 4, 2008

One Day Down

Edited to add: links for All About Me stuff for first day!

The first day of school went well. I'm not sure it could have ever lived up to their expectations, however. But, we didn't have much time to reflect on the day since right after lunch we headed to the store to make hurricane preparations. Oh, all right...tropical storm preparations. It just doesn't sound as dramatic, OK? That's pretty much what we've been doing all day; filling pitchers with water, stocking up on non-perishables, digging up batteries and flashlights, and picking up stuff in the backyard.

But about that first day. It really was nice. The girls had their new shirts and shoes on and were ready to go. Little Bit confessed she went into the school room during the night and peeked. I would have bet money it would have been Sweetheart who pulled that, but she actually refrained until breakfast and chores and pictures were over.
Of course, they've already seen the school room, but Grandpa (the science lab teacher) had purchased these and I hung them up last night. They glow in the dark. Too cool!

And this was waiting for them on the table. Just a little something.

We got right to work! I read some books to them and they made a face and t-shirt showing how they looked on the first day of school.
Hard at work...
Pretty good, huh?

They also began some "All About Me" books. I weighed and measured the girls to keep a record of how big they were at the beginning of the year. I like doing that.

Little Bit did this activity for math. We used homemade play dough which I made with Kool-Aid. I love the Kool-Aid kind of play dough. Little Bit wanted yellow, so that necessitated using Lemonade Kool-Aid. did not give a very pleasant smell. So I tried to fix that by dumping some peppermint extract in the mixture. It, um, smells odd. And for a kid who currently has a tic of smelling EVERYTHING, it matters. I think I will make some blue play dough tomorrow.

Then I sent Little Bit off to play while Sweetheart and I began The Mystery of History. She was back in a few minutes and wanted to do everything we were doing. Here they are with their creation booklets from lesson 1.

Since Sweetheart's math book hasn't come in the mail yet, we had a fairly light day. I'm not sure how day 2 will look since we will have a classroom visitor...named Edouard.
**I wish I had seen this one for my 3rd grader--it has a page about church. I had never thought of that!
And I cannot for the life of me find the book I used for Little Bit, which is where I also got the face and t-shirt patterns. Sorry! I'll keep looking!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I Never Want To Post Again...

...because then my post with my VERY ORGANIZED classroom won't be on the top anymore. And you kind people left sweet comments in which "my name" and "organized" appeared in the same sentence!

I read them over and over. They made me happy.

But I must remind you, this is the woman who with no shame has posted pictures of her laundry room. Let's remember to keep in real. I can trash that classroom in a matter of days--no problem.

But right now it's clean and shiny. And we are ready for the first day of school. The girls have been bouncing off the walls and making up songs about the first day of school all day...make that all weekend. I thought we might have to bop them on the head to make them fall asleep. They each have a new shirt to wear and new tennis shoes. (Which, after we bought them, they sang songs about their new shoes all the way home. We are very musical around here.) Their little outfits are all hung up and ready to put on in the morning. The are VERY excited.

We are eyeing a tropical storm in the Gulf and wondering if we won't be taking an impromptu field trip after school tomorrow. I know it's just a little 'ol storm right now, but S would feel better if we were safely north of here before it came because in such a case, he will be at work. There's nothing like having a vacation after only one day of school! We'll see...

I can't believe summer is over, but we had a bang-up weekend to send it out! My sister and her girls came on Thursday and we attended the library reading party where they watched a show, received a free book and an ice cream along with a certificate. Very cool. Then the cousins and my sister spent the night (a sleepover!!! YEAH!) and went to the beach on Friday. Then we had a birthday party to attend on Saturday and had Grandma and Grandpa over for hamburgers tonight.

Summer is now over.

I'm kind of ready for a school schedule myself. Oh, we'll still be having lots of fun and the cousins are due to come one more time before they go back to school, but mostly we are ready to start learnin' sumpin' 'round here. The TV is killing our brain cells.

On Friday, Karly from Indescribable Life and I are going to dual post. Is that a phrase? We will both be posting on the same topic--exploring the myth that having a teaching degree makes us better homeschool moms. (HA!) And if Rachel ever gets back home, I will be dual posting with her one day soon too.

I can see it now: The Family Revised...Duets.

It's sure to go platinum at least.