Nov 30, 2010

The Freedom of Pure Thought

We just finished reading Joy Hakim's The Story of Science: Newton at the Center, the second in this three volume series, and we absolutely LOVED it! The first was great, but this one had so many entertaining stories and was written in such a way that truly kept us engaged through the whole book.

In the last chapter Hakim asks the question, "Why did science, the quest to udnerstand how the universe works, flourish in the Western world long before it did elsewhere?" and in her attempt to answer this question she writes ~
"Thinkers elsewhere were apt to be more practical. But the Greeks celebrated thinking - they called it reason - even when they had no idea where it was going to go. And pure thought, allowed to flourish in freedom, often finds itself in unexpected and splendid places. It's like exploring unknown territory when you don't know what the goal will be. Often there are dead ends, but the surprises makes it worthwhile. The Greeks had the courage to go where their minds took them. 
Note that word freedom. Science just doesn't get anywhere when there are dictators or even well-meaning leaders deciding what scientists should do."  - Pg. 429
This paragraph explains to me why I love her writing so much. Her books are not just textbooks stating facts, figures, experiments, proofs, equations and so on, but truly tell the stories of how simple situations, errors, and sometimes luck, brought about some of the most incredible advancements in history. Her ideas and writing flow seamlessly into our day as a time when we get to see what happened next, instead of an "Ugh do we HAVE to read another chapter" moment of drudgery.

I am fairly certain that most of us have had those moments of amazement that have resulted from allowing our children the type of freedom that Hakim mentions ~ the time to explore whatever realm they choose. I am quite astonished at the incredible amount of information and varied directions that these quests for knowledge have often taken us on. I am so grateful that our path of home educating allots us so much freedom to meander our way through ideas and switch courses whenever we want.

I highly recommend that everyone read this series. Even if you don't think you are a "science" person, these books might just change your mind!

Nov 29, 2010

Update - Stupid Internet Signal

So my internet signal is not working at home, so I am taking a few seconds at the library to quickly post some pics from our fabulous Thanksgiving weekend....will be back as soon as signal is restored at home...PROMISE...

Hope you all had a FABULOUS Turkey Day!!!

Nov 24, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving

We are joining my sister and her family for Thanksgiving this year and since they are opening up there home, we are opening our oven to help out. KM and I spent the day making all sorts of goodies...

from spice cookies to pumpkin and apple pies

from boiling eggs to be deviled to snipping marshmallows because the mini ones just don't cut it here!

Today we made pumpkin spice cookies, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. Tomorrow I will be finishing off the deviled eggs and making sweet potato casserole and KM will be making her wonderful green bean casserole, with EXTRA French Fried Onions.

We also got some rather interesting news today. We have known for a few weeks now that I will be becoming an Auntie again, but the SHOCKING news is that there will be TWO new "Littles" arriving in early June. Just another thankful blessing!

Hope you all have a wonderful and very Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 21, 2010

Becoming Unplugged

Unplugged Parenting...Unplugged Education...I have been coming across these terms a lot lately, at first I thought what are they unplugging from? However as I have researched I have begun to realize that  there ARE others out there that have the same ideas as I do.

I have been bouncing around the cybersphere trying to find that little niche that feels right. Where I can read something and think to myself “EXACTLY!” It can be rather difficult with all the labels floating here, there, and everywhere that can seem to mean one thing, but as you look deeper it turns out that most of the people there don't actually “feel” or “think” the way you had thought they would.

From what I have gathered, in this philosphy “unplugged” means breaking away from the mainstream. Moving away from the traditions that we perpetuate because they are habits and not because we believe that they are right. Here is the clearest list that I have come across -
Unplugged parenting includes:
      •Unplugging from Mainstream 'standards'

        •Freeing yourself from others ideas of what happiness is

        •Kids Self Esteem & sense of inner peace are very important to you
        •Education of the whole child is of highest priority
        •Holistic Parenting is the center and mainstay of life
        •Natural Living
        •You live by Homegrown Values
        •You live out-of-the-box and are truly authentic

If this seems like something that might speak to you take a look at these fabulous sites -

You might also want to take a few minutes to watch these videos by Laurette Lynn that give more insight into this new and exciting trend - 

Nov 19, 2010

General update....

Things have been flowing rather nicely lately. We have found a very steady groove, but we are both getting at the point where we just want some down time and needing some time at home. This upcoming holiday week should be just the start that we need. We will be finishing up some lessons for the end of our fall session and will be beginning to work on our holiday gifts. KM will be making all her gifts again for her grandparents and aunts. One lucky relative will even be receiving her first attempt at knitting. Postings may be a bit slower than they have been lately, but I will try to stay steady over the holidays!

Nov 16, 2010

Volunteer Day - Cradles to Crayons

We volunteered, with some other local homeschoolers, at a fantastic organization this morning, Cradles to Crayons
Here is some info on the organization - 
Cradles to Crayons was founded in 2002, with the mission of providing to children ages 0 to 12 some of the most important basics of life—free of charge. These basics include clothing, school supplies, toys, and much more. In other words, we provide all the physical goods that children need to be safe, protected from the elements, and ready to learn. And by supplying them with high-quality used or new goods, we make children feel valued.

 Our job today was to sort clothes and put together outfit kits for little girls - this was the perfect job for my fashionista!
She was very particular about the outfits and had to make sure that they all coordinated and could be mixed and matched.

   The efforts of our small group alone helped 65 children in need today! This was a great way to start off a season of giving and to help us remember and be thankful for all that we are blessed to have! We hope to be able to go back the Giving Factory at least once a month to help out this incredibly worthwhile cause.

Nov 15, 2010

A FINAL realization on writing curriculums

I am once again having a difficult time with our writing curriculum and I feel that I am at the point of no return. KM is not complaining and does seem to be gaining a good deal of confidence, so those are pluses, but I just really feel like every single writing program out there is so unadaptable. They all teach the same sorts of writing, but in different orders and completly disconnected from any actual content areas. None of it truly makes sense to me, so how on earth am I suppose to help her understand it.

I had decided over the summer to pull back on any structured writing books, we would use the essay response questions in STOW and SOS, to do content directed writing work. However by the time the fall session rolled around I had caved in. KM had mentioned that she had taken a look at one of her friend's Spectrum Writing books and thought it might help her improve her skills. I went online, found it and ordered it. This was my first mistake. If I was going to not do a structured program, why on earth did I order another workbook? Well she had asked for it, it was inexpensive and I thought well she is thinking about it, so maybe I should be taking it more seriously. This then led me to the oh, I can supplement with this and maybe that will also help add to it, which in turn takes you down that slippery curriculum overload slope.

As I have been looking at the 6 different middle school program books that I still have in my house for writing ~ I say still because I don't even want to think about the number that I actually had last spring when I cleaned out the homeschooling book cupboard ~ I came to the aforementioned realization of: “They are all the same and NONE of them make sense.” I then really began to think about how I go about writing something, not that I am an expert in this area by any means, but I do feel that I can get my point across when I put my mind to it....I know, I know, there are some ramblings here and there, but let's just ignore those! I managed to achieve a perfect score on my essays for the GED, had two papers published and never got lower than a B+ on a research or term paper in college, despite NEVER having passed a high school English class.

When I have an idea for a blog entry, I just type. I don't systematically plan things out. When I was in college I did the same thing. When I had to answer an essay question or had to write a research paper, I would just start writing. I would get out as much as I possibly could and then I would edit, move things around, change things here and there, and make it better, clearer, and more concise. I didn't do venn diagrams, writing process trees, story webs, or anything of the like. I just researched and typed. As I sit here right now, I am just preset direction, other than to get my point across.

So why do I feel the need to have my daughter do all of these ridiculous things that I DON'T GET?

It is another one of those tapes that blares in my head. You know the ones I mean. The ones that say things like - “all kids should be in school”, “Kids should be seen and not heard”, “What do you mean there is no oversight?”, “WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?” We all have them. They all say different things for various reasons, be it culture, background, religious beliefs, or some other random reason. While I have managed to destroy most of these wretched thought patterns, some still seem to creep back in and get their tape around the spindals causing a cacophony of negative statements and ideas flooding into my ears and causing anxiety to spread through my entire being!

I am done. I will not be doing any more writing curriculums. Though I will keep the few writing resource books that we have around the house, things that cover grammar and research paper guidelines, I will be getting rid of all the curriculum guides and workbooks. I will encourage my child to express herself on paper and assist her in improving answers to open ended and essay questions in a manner that is clear and concise, but that is IT!  

Nov 13, 2010

Making Turkeys and Candy Experiments with the Littles!

The Littles' day care was closed on Veteran's Day, which meant they got to spend the day with me!!!
We had lots of fun and used some of the resources that I had spotted earlier in the week from Scholastic's Thanksgiving Free Printables!

We had a great time creating these "3-D"ish Turkeys:


I decided to use some left over sparkly leafs - from who knows when - instead of the plain paper plate as recommended. We used all glue on SC's, and it took a long time to dry, so we decided to use staples for GC's and mine!  

When GC went down for her nap, KM, SC and I took advantage of that time to do some of the experiments that we had found over at Candy Experiments Blog!

For some EXTRA foaming and to make the 3 year old smile, we added vinegar to all the solutions once the foaming was finished so that they would burst out of the cup! She was quite pleased with that.

Then we moved onto MELTING candies to see which ones melted first and what sorts of reactions happened. 

We lined the tray with tin foil, set the toaster oven to Max Broil and...
They watched intently....
and took notes!
The results were rather interesting

Nov 11, 2010

Preparing for Braces

KM has ALWAYS - literally for as long as she has been going to the dentist's anyway - wanted braces. She used to press the gum across her teeth and pretend to have them. She asks the dental hygenist at every cleaning and picked out the colored bands that she would choose.

The day is finally arriving and she is bit more nervous than she thought she would be, so we looked up information so that she could be as informed as possible and here is some of what we found -

We had the first appointment for the spacers to be put in and she goes to have the braces put on on Fri. The most difficult thing that she hadn't really thought about was the food restrictions. She is also pretty nervous about having the 4 teeth pulled. She has calmed herself a bit now that she knows it doesn't have to be done immediately, but I don't know how well it is going to go when the time actually comes. 

Nov 10, 2010

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms

Another FABULOUS Video!

FREE - Plimoth Plantation Webcast and First Thanksgiving Resources

Scholastic always has fabulous resources and there First Thanksgiving section isn't any different. They use all the links and connections to Plimoth Plantation and includes the more accurate ~ and often less known ~ information from the Wampanoag Tribes.

They also have a webcast coming up next week that is FREE to all educational institutions. If you miss or can't make the live event, a replay will be available at that link starting Wed, Nov. 17th.

For more of how we have studied Thanksgiving in the past you can take a look at the links in this post.

Nov 8, 2010

National Geographic's - Great Migrations - FREE Educational Resources

We love the National Geographic channel and I am amazed that I how somehow missed this incredible series, but am very grateful that someone took the time to pass it on through a yahoo group!

This area of the site has some great extra resources to enhance the experience and may open up some rather interesting avenues of study.

Nov 4, 2010

Just what we needed!

Sometimes when you send something out into the universe, the universe sends you back EXACTLY what you needed. We had planned on running a few errands and maybe getting some tennis in today, but the weather decided that we needed to stay inside....and I chose to listen! We got lots of lessons done, pumpkin cookies and pineapple upside down cake baked, laundry and cleaning down!

It was such a restful, relaxing day. KM had a friend over in the afternoon and they had a great time playing Wii Sports Resort and making a Reese's Cake! CJ had the day off and finished some random projects around the house. I even got some fabulous rain shots, you can check out on our 365 Photo Project and our Nature Photo Blog. I don't know what it is about rainy days that sets that nesting instinct in to gear and makes me feel revived, but I am sure glad that it did!

Nov 3, 2010


I really don't know how this keeps happening, we have been so BUSY lately! What have we been doing you may ask? Well there has been lots of fun stuff, lessons, tennis, hiking, web classes, parties, field trips, birthdays, fall activities, theater, volunteering, errands, and the list goes on....who has time to be home when you are "homeschooling"?

I am trying to slow things down, but it looks like at least the next two weeks are going to be the same. Once Thanksgiving week rolls on through, we should be good to be SLOOOOOWWW!

I just have to keep my fingers crossed, there has to be end somewhere....Right?

What do you do when things seem to be getting too overscheduled?