Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Library Elf

I am really loving this wonderful online service that connects me to my local library with hold reminders and overdue notices. It keeps all your cards together (I always forget what Grace had on her card especially!)

Today I returned like 15 items, and when I got home there was a notice that I had one overdue item... I thought for sure it had a glitch, then looked in the DVD player and there was a disc! The case had fallen behind the TV and I didn't realize we still had one. So Library Elf saved the day with it's e-mail!

We are lucky enough to live within a large library system- I don't know how many libraries they have the ability to connect to- but if you use your public library as much as we do, you might like Library Elf.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Yesterday I had a Dr's appointment in OC and I went by myself- I also got to use a gift card I've had for almost a year to get some maternity jeans, and new shoes (crocs, again- but this time they are the Mary Jane style- and black so they'll go with anything!). After I stopped by my parents apartment and had a wonderful visit, including a walk through downtown San Clemente to my favorite deli in the whole wide world, Billy's. We enjoyed our sandwiches on the chilly patio and walked back to a warm cozy apartment, where with the flick of a switch a warm fire welcomed us!

When I got home and gave Grace the treats that her Papa sent for her she called to say thank you and ended up chatting for almost half an hour! She found a nice spot...
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Or so she thought, as she laid across the stairs, Ford decided to jump over her and he's no little pup anymore, so one of his huge paws scraped her...
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She proudly showed me the art lesson she had done with her Daddy. This first one shows her attempt at drawing Scooby Doo from memory on the top, then with a little help from Daddy on the bottom left and a third try by herself on the bottom right...

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This one they did together..

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And lastly she did this one all by herself...

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She is now working on Shaggy...

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Here is what Shawn used to teach her, his before and afters...

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We are doing a lapbook on the Scooby Doo theme unit- I should have photos of it up in the next week or so...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Scooby Doo Unit

Grace has been really into Scooby Doo lately, so after she wanted to watch a third episode this morning I decided I better get cracking on a way to learn through the adorable Great Dane. So we started a lapbook. This is the first one I have created from scratch and I am going to put it together to post either on homeschool share or just here on my site for anyone else who is interested in the lovable gang.

It's almost finished!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Advent Treasure Hunt

On December 1st G started an Advent Treasure Hunt, which I customized to our style from this site. It's been a lot of fun- a few moments of frivolity amongst the frenzy! (I also enjoyed reading another interesting blog about the Advent season)

I have been stressed by packing and the disarray my house is in as we prepare to move (still don't know where!) and my 2 little bits of control and organization during the day have become this Advent activity and my current obsession with setting up the Virtual Moms Club.

I keep stealing just a few moments when a box is packed or a chore is done to pop online and do something else virtual. I realized that it is partially because I can organize, sort, rearrange, express myself and decorate to my hearts content and there is no mess! No clutter accumulates when you are playing with little widgets, bits of code and themed templates. Everything has it's nice little bordered box or mini module. Even music and family photos easily integrate into my virtual world. Moving is easy in cyberspace, click here... drag there... an voila it's gorgeous and simple to search for anything you need.

Here's a few photos from the past few days... (oh and you MUST try today's recipe, sent to my by Mel- BBQ cups!)

The cover of Advent Treasure Hunt folder, where we keep the "scrolls" she finds each day (many are printouts from the above site).
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below is the calendar countdown; we paste a black & white symbol of the days activity to mark our progress. Day One was the story of the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary (I also presented her the Christmas Treasury, a book we purchased a couple years ago, but never got to in the past couple of Christmases. This year we plan on reading a story or poem & singing a song from it nightly. It's really getting us in the Christmas spirit- who needs decorations?)
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Last night she got the clue "Where Joy will close her eyes, and we will sing her lullabies." She went to Joy's crib and found her handbell set in it's *new* bag, complete with a custom cut felt for silencing the bells as she set them down and the music pages securely tucked in- it's an old picnic bag that I found while packing- you can sort of see it in the background.
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Shawn converted the sheet music (which he downloaded from the internet) to a similar style of the colored dot music pages that came with the handbells. The song for the day (the Treasure Hunt daily printout) was Joy to the World. We had fun trying to sing it together while she played the handbells!
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Finally, I just liked these - they represent a typical day in our world- Grace wearing only my moms sweater building a lego bridge to "candy world" under the arch of "fantasy fort" ...
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...and her faithful, loyal and tolerant friend, Prince Tiger.
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Virtual Moms Club

I often wish I could get together with other moms to share some of my hobbies. I also wish I had more time to spend on those passions of mine! So I decided I am going to try to set aside just 2 hours, once a week to do these things, and blog about them- as well as (hopefully) read about what other moms who did the same thing experienced.

For that purpose I started the Virtual Moms Club webring. Read more about, join the webring and the e-mail list here...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Recipes & Food Adventures

I have been looking for a place to store my recipes and such, and I had joined Xanga a while back- creating yet another unused blog! So today I set it up to be dedicated to that favorite subject of mine- FOOD, glorious food!

I posted 2 new recipes there that we tried out this morning- Pumpkin Tarts & Scrambled Egg Pockets. I'd love to have favorite recipes of friends and family to share on the site if you want to send them to me- I'll try them out, G & I will rate them, and then post them to my site.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baby it's cold outside!

It's beginning to feel a bit chilly in these parts!! Grace learned a new vocabulary word yesterday that is quite fitting- frost. It is from the book we are reading, Groucho's Eyebrows, a chilling tale of a white kitty who gets lost in snow and is found only because of his "funny looking" black eyebrows, which stand our against the whiteness.

I'm trying to create a lapbook for this unit- I found a Teacher's Activity Guide online, and many of the activities could be displayed in lapbook format. For some reason my creative juices just aren't flowing though.

Probably all the stress and impending doom. Ok, not doom- moving back to OC will be fine, it's just that I really do love Temecula. It will be nice to be near family, and surrounded by so many options for life-based learning- not to mention nearer Shawn's work.

On another topic- Grace has had a very slightly loose tooth for a bit now, and then this morning she told me another was loose- this one is on the bottom and her adult teeth are already growing in behind it. It is VERY loose, it may even come out today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fiber Arts & Friendly Acquaintances

Last night I went to a Knit-Tea-ing circle that another homeschool mom invited me to. It was so relaxing and peaceful, and I finally learned how to knit!! I have been crocheting a blanket (shown below) for Joy, but I've always wanted to knit. So Shannon (oh so patiently) showed me and 3 other ladies the basics- casting on and knit stitch. I took apart what I did last night to start over and make sure I have it (the pink yarn shown below) and someday soon that ball of yarn will magically transform into baby booties!

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I have found that the repetition, the feeling of the yarn, and the sense of productive accomplishment involved in Fiber Arts is very stress relieving. I have been doing a little every night in front of the TV and I am very close to just taking it with me everywhere I go!

It was especially nice that the women who came were from all walks and generations. Shannon the hostess, made a de"light"ful dinner. I do not know when she has time to do all that she does- it boggles the mind- what with 3 kids whom she homeschools, a husband who works many and widely varied hours and co-runs a soccer program that the older 2 kids (who are VERY talented players) participate in- AND she always has very clean and organized home!

Then there is Mendy, a single mom who homeschools her sweet son, Shane, and is a care provider for an elderly lady with Alzheimers, plsu has been working on earning a degree in Homeopathic Medicine; her sister Katy who just had a baby and got married, whose new husband leaves for the Army today. And lovely Bev, a grandma and Special Education teacher, who is just finishing her Masters and has the sweet soul of a saint it seems- she reminds me very much of my own mother.

All of these women inspired me- they do so much and still make the time to gather with friends, and share of themselves. I really needed to be around them last night and I so very much enjoyed it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fall at the Learning Barefoot Kindergarten

Just a few of the highlights from our first two months of homeschool. Enjoy!

Learning Barefoot- Fall
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Friday, November 09, 2007

Look what Grace learned how to do today...

Grace wanted to go for a walk, and it is a cloudy day so she decided to put on warmer shoes. A few minutes later she came running over with one Dora shoe on, squealing "look what I did!!", all by her little lonesome she figured out how to tie her shoes. She's been practicing for half an hour now, so that when Joy is born, she'll be able to do it for me since she'll know how. She also just informed me that she knows how to spell "boy" now- she just remembered it for no reason, apparently.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Family Night

I made a delicious London Broil, with homemade mashed potatoes (with chunks of yams) and spinach salad for dinner tonight. We did have to move the puzzle of Da Vinci's The Last Supper that we are doing, but after a slight delay involving a convenience store and steak sauce, we all three ate at the table - at the same time- and we left the TV off!!

After dinner I rinsed the dishes (and actually scrubbed the broiling pan instead of soaking it- I think I am growing up!) while Grace prepared a ballet show (she had come to the dinner table dressed in tights and skirted leo) and Shawn fed the wild things- ahem, beloved pets.

Grace's performance was beautiful, she has great "musicality"! The "ice skating" portion was especially riveting- oh the fun of tile floors! Her twirling, whirling and skirt swirling was as adorable as her new bouncy bob and I was reminded that I NEED to get her into dance class, or at least back into gymnastics.

Before bed we played a couple games of Zingo- Grace's favorite game; Shawn won the first one and Grace the second- but in my heart, I know I am the true winner. I have such a beautiful family and blessed life. Shawn's day wasn't that great (no new trials); Grace and I vegged on the 'puter or in front of the TV for most of the afternoon... but I'm not feeling bad about that. I'm not beating myself up that we only had one green food today (the spinach salad was good with the London Broil). And I'm okay with the fact that I have to drive the Golf to our Girls Club meeting tomorrow- at least I get to go.

Sometimes in worrying over trying to do all the "right" things, I know that I miss the moments that make our life so wonderful. But not tonight. It wasn't a scheduled, planned Family Night, everything just sort of happened, and we enjoyed each other - and that's why it was perfect.

Monday Muffins

Monday we made muffins in the morning. We had just a few frozen blueberries and strawberries that we had been using for smoothies, and we still have LOTS of peaches- and with the weather finally turning colder we aren't using them... so we altered the basic muffin recipe from our Betty Crocker cookbook, added a package of Marie Callendars cornbread mix, threw in a mashed banana and the frozen fruits and voila! and they turned out delicious. We made 40 mini-muffins and 12 standard size. While measuring the ingredients we focused on "halves" and "thirds" by using only those 2 measuring cups.

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We also updated both of our chore charts. Grace decided on 2 chores a day that she will do, and I created a chart for myself based on my Daily To Do List (14 things I want to get done every day). Grace earns happy face stickers and she picks the color; I earn foil stars- gold for doing all 7 things in both the AM & PM, silver for 6, blue for 5, red for 4 and green for 3 things done. We can both earn up to 2 stickers a day. We also help each other with our chores and we are going to see who gets the most stickers this month. The one who does gets to pick where we go on a special Mommy & Grace lunch date.

I've been thinking about my random, inconsistent, all over the place online "tracking" and I realized that what I really want to create is like a combination scrapbook, photo-album "life book". Something we can refer to as a family and share with others as we journey through our lifelong learning. Not to "show off" our work, more to have a central location to find recipes we enjoyed, remember events and learning experiences, and collect links and information. I get so sidetracked with the social aspect of blogging, especially with all these cool soc-net sites! I thought of deleting my entire online presence, and making this blog private- but I do enjoy reading the blogs a few friend... I just wish I could comment on their posts without having to join their chosen site for blogging!

I am in the process of pulling all the posts over from my oldest blog site Yahoo! 360- maybe I will do the same with all the others and truly consolidate this time!! Then to work on labels, photos and privacy...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday, Nov 4th

After reading my friend's blog ( it really got me thinking about the things I take for granted. I have been trying to live more simply, to return to the land, and nature's cycles as the backdrop for our busy lives. It seems that so many things we consider conveniences or luxuries actually cause more effort and create a false sense of how things should be. Laundry for example. The clothes we make, how many we own and our modern opinion of what is "clean" have changed dramatically. People cared for their clothes more, and even though they worked harder and got dirtier they washed them less frequently.

Depression is at epidemic proportions. I noticed something recently, after spending a long Sunday rearranging the house for the baby- moving furniture, deep cleaning, sorting organizing- and on that same day making bread, drying apple "leather" and making meals for my family from what we had left in the cupboards because we were too busy to go to the store for convenience foods and too broke to get fast food! The following day I was EXHAUSTED, but I felt content and accomplished. Being productive and doing work that actually matters and makes a difference to my family created a sense that I hadn't felt in a while.

So many studies say that exercise combats depression- well I think that hard work does it even better. Getting on a treadmill at the gym may get those endorphins flowing, but where is the sense of completion? Have all these "wonderful" inventions weakened the human spirit? Causing us to be dissatisfied, unmotivated and unfulfilled? And are we now breeding these qualities into the human DNA? What can be done to stop this scary adaptation?

Hard work is it's own reward and yet we seek all sorts of luxuries and conveniences as symbols of our success and accomplishment. We fill our homes with things that will require care and responsibility and provide little in the realm of function or true value. Then we sit back a relax because we "deserve it". I am saddened by it all.

Halloween Photos

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

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Last night we carved pumpkins and roasted pumpkin seeds. Grace is already in her costume and can hardly wait to go trick or treating with her buddy Ava.

Have a Happy & Safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sarah Brightman

This is just too... well... umm- just watch it!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Keeping Up

I find that I don't blog unless I have the photos to back it up. Silly, huh? Especially since my camera has had dead batteries and someone (Shawn swears it's one of the kitties) keeps unplugging the charger.

Well I have found a new addictive soc-net site (Facebook), after days of being glued to the TV and Internet searching for news on the fires. One came mighty close to us, and 3 different surrounding fires poured their ashen overlay out across our skies for several days. We were lucky though compared to the many who lost homes and were affected by the disasters. At least very few were injured or worse...

I've got 3 new lapbooks to upload photos of (A Rainbow of My Own, All About Me, and Daddy's Birthday Week- our own creation) and we started a new unit study (The Art Lesson from Homeschool Share) this week. Ava joined us for the first day and the girls made sidewalk chalk, which they have not been able to try out because the air quality has been so bad. Next week...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dental Folder

Tomorrow is Grace's first dentist appointment, so today we created a Dental Folder. I downloaded a variety of printables and other resources from several of my favorite sites, and we put it all together. It will be something she can take to the dentist with her- it has several activities that she'll be able to do in the waiting room, and a couple of charts - one for brushing, another for first lost tooth, and some templates for coloring & writing about each visit to the dentist.

We only had blue paper, and some of the folds weren't exactly what we envisioned, but it came out lovely. I really think it is something that she can keep and can grow with for the next several years as she learns more about dental hygiene and caring for her teeth.

We also acted out a visit to the dentist: waiting in the waiting room (playing the Tic Tac Toe game in her new folder) taking x-rays, the oral exam, a cleaning; plus I gave her a numbing shot with rubber coated tweezers to give the pinch feel, and "drilling" with my own sound effects. It gave me a chance to really get in there and floss her good, too since she was in a reclining chair and willing to show off how long she could hold her mouth open! It was actually a lot of fun- she is looking forward to tomorrow.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Family Fun Night

We all got into making something I hadn't made in years- I don't know where the inspiration (or memory of how to even do it) came from, but we all had a great time. I never did finish my creation - a jack-o-lantern - I was too busy cutting squares of tissue for my beloveds!
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All About Me Lapbook

Earlier this week I was reading a message from one of my Yahoo Groups that led me to, a nice little website with "Learn N Folders" (yet another way of presenting graphical learning)... the sender of the message had just completed the All About Me "Learn N Folder" with her 5 year old son. Grace saw the photos and wanted to do one, so I printed off the pages (luckily it was one of their freebies) and we were finished 2 days later! She really enjoyed doing it, and I was surprised at how well it provided some great "in the moment" learning adventures.

Here it is (click on any picture to see it larger)...

The rest of the week we worked on our A Rainbow of My Own Unit Study from Homeschool Share. We decided to do a folder with this one, because it is a very short unit (meant for preschool really, although several of the "assignments" in the Activity Guide are geared for older kids). It isn't quite finished yet, just a little more artwork she wants to add, and I need a new glue stick to adhere the stuff we did.

We created a new fall board to display all the units we have studied this season so far...

And we played "hide the scarecrow"- one of us went out and planted the scarecrow she made, then took a picture of it. The other had to guess where it was by looking at the picture before they went outside to re-hide it. It was fun and made for some interesting pictures! Slideshow here... at Snapfish.

She also did her own personal lapbook- just for fun...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Loving Lapbooks

We finished our first unit study from (the wonderful, amazing) Homeschool Share site. "Comet's Nine Lives" was the story that it centered around and we did a lap book on cats. We didn't include other things from the unit (hurricanes, islands, etc) in the actual lapbook- Grace preferred it to be mostly about cats- but she did enjoy the other activities. Lapbook photos below...

All in all we did about 20 activities that related to the book, which we read at least 12 times- each time with something new discovered. We used the free version of Homeschool Tracker and I found it really easy to follow our progress. After a few hours of customizing it and setting up the subjects, activities, resources etc it was a simple matter of entering each activity as an assignment, as well as adding in "assignments" after the fact when we would follow a "rabbit trail".

It took us just under 3 weeks- but of course we had more interruptions than usual- I expect that normally we'll spend 2 weeks or so on a unit. According to the cool report I generated in HST to give my ES (we are still reserving judgment on our charter school experience) over 14 days we spent 4.25 hours in Creative Arts, 6 hours in PE, 3.33 hours on Language Arts, 1.5 on math, 5 on science, and 2.75 on social studies. Plus of course all the "in the moment" life skills type learning that doesn't get tracked as easily- although now that I am getting used to using HST I might start throwing in those unschooling, "teachable moments" as assignments, after the fact like I did with the Unit Study "rabbit trails".

The next Unit Study one is set to be "The Art Lesson" although yesterday at the park day where we met with our ES we got some of the supplies we ordered with our Educational Funds and one of the items is a Butterfly Nursery- so she wants to do a Butterfly unit. I need to read the instructions and see if we can even do it in fall! It may be better to save until Spring. I ordered The Art Lesson through Paperback Swap (Swap Your Paperback Books - and it is on it's way to me, along with 2 others (A Rainbow of my Own and Mama, Do You Love Me?) for future unit studies.

Today we met with our new "girls club" at the park near our house. This was the group of girls we got together to start our own Daisy Girl Scout Troop (which we decided was too much paperwork, legalism and cookie sales)! So we are each going to take a turn doing something simple and fun for the girls- today I organized a simple craft, game and snack (the Pampered Chef Apple/Peeler/Corer/ Slicer was a big hit!) around an Apple theme (since yesterday was Johnny Appleseed's birthday). It was lots of fun and Grace really enjoyed playing with her new friends. She decided as soon as we got home to fill in the inside of the Apple Book that she had decorated a cover for at the park. Apple theme photos, click here...

Our cat lapbook...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Comet's Nine Lives

We finished the Cat Lapbook! We did this in connection with our unit study on Comet's Nine Lives, and we are both very pleased with the result. I realized half way through that I needed to help her more than I expected. At first it felt like I was "doing her work for her" but then I noticed how much more interested she was when I was and I considered that I am showing her an example of how to lapbook in these first few units, not "keeping a record" of what she has done. It is something we will refer back to and read which reinforces and provides an "anchor" to all the many things we did with this delightful book.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

You Might be a Homeschooler

*You might be a Homeschooler*

*If your whole class and teacher kiss the principal goodbye as he goes
off to work
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you and your teacher come to early morning class in your pajamas
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If school is recessed to bring in the groceries
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If cleaning the room, making the bed and preparing lunch is your
daily assignment in **Home Economics **class
.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you have to relocate your chemistry lab each day so the family can
eat lunch
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you have to walk twenty feet back and forth to school each day
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If going to the park counts for both a nature fieldtrip and P.E.
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If your wife asks for, and gets a copier instead of a diamond
tennis bracelet for your wedding anniversary
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If your kids think that reading history is best accomplished while
lying on the floor with their head resting on the side of their patient dog
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If the principal can give the teacher a pat on the behind and it's
not harassment
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If your neighbors think you are insane
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you can listen to your child's favorite hilarious passage from
"Hank the Cow Dog" forty-seven times
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If your formal dining room now has a computer, copy machine and
many book shelves and there are educational posters and maps all over the
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you have meal worms growing in a container... on purpose
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If talking out loud to yourself is a parent/teacher conference
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you take off for a teacher in-service day because the principal
needs clean underwear
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you can't make it through a movie without pointing out all the
historical anachronisms
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you step on math manipulatives in your pre-dawn stumble to the
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If your closet contains more than three jumpers
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If when visiting a strange town you see a parking lot full of
mini-vans and station wagons and wonder if it's a homeschooling conference
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

*If you live in a one-house schoolroom
**.... **YOU might be a homeschooler. *

Monday, September 10, 2007

Starting Week 2 of "kindy"garden

My parents and hubby tease me because I call it "kindy"garden (and Grace still calls it KittenGarden) but whatever the name, we are loving it so far!

Last week's duck theme went well, we didn't stick to my "schedule" much, but we covered much of what I was prepared for and she learned a lot. Trying to categorize it into subjects is what I am trying to learn, now that we are officially enrolled in a charter school.

Last week we also made slime (three times- once unsuccessfully at the park day, so we scientifically approached this project, guessing at what needed to be changed, experimenting and then trying another idea- the last batch came out wonderful. She decided to make some for her friend since the park day version didn't work for her either) and she used it to shape letters and then to make me "food", (we played restaurant for as long as I could stand on Thursday, using "credit slips" to tally my bill and add her tip)

She also worked on the activity from her book club, although it still isn't finished! She told me it just has to be done before the next "level" (I think she got that from playing Monsters Inc on the Playstation, she is on level 2). I'm not sure we will stick with the book club, it is a bit... stiffer than our style. The energetic and incredibly organized woman who is running it has put a lot of time and effort into making it great, and the 30+ kids who are participating seem to have become like a class to her. She would make a terrific preschool teacher! But we do a lot of reading already and our style tends to be less "school" like, so I'm not sure. I'll let Grace decide after we have finished this first book, if we will continue on to the next...

She also learned to fingercrochet, and to be honest I was surprised. She wasn't really getting it at all when I showed her the basics on Monday. Then all the sudden on Thursday she asked me to show her how to start it again and she proceeded to make me a beautiful necklace, with matching bracelet and ring. She has already gone on to make collars for three of the kittens...

Friday we capped off the week with a visit to the duck pond with a homeschool buddy and we enjoyed lunch at Pat & Oscars as a special treat (sharing the breadsticks with the ducks afterward of course! See the very short photoshow here...

This week I have decided to try a "prepared" unit study from Homeschool Share after reading rave reviews on my homeschool group's message board about the FIAR unit studies style. Our book is Comet's Nine Lives, and we were able to pick it up at the library this morning and do 3 out of the 20 "lessons" today. I particularly like how it is broken up by subject- making it easy to track for the charter, but it is so thematic that I can also very easily guide her to the "lessons" with very little preparation and follow her interest and curiosity after reading the story in our morning "Circle Time". I've chosen related poems, songs, fingerplays and handcrafts for this fun morning ritual, which is our Waldorf inspired part of the day.

The puzzle we started for both the first and second week's themes is done already- we had help from my mom and dad when they stopped by Sunday and it just flew together!

Today I finally got our "order" together for using our Educational Funds from the charter, I submitted it to our ES. I wonder how long it will be until we get everything? I just hope it is in time to join the classes we want to this month- the Music Circle starts on Friday!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

First Day of Kindergarten

I love homeschooling- or should I say "carschooling"!

Today we started our school year. Shawn had a meeting in Anaheim, so we all got up just before 6:00am and loaded the car with our books, binders and basket. After terrible traffic, while Grace looked through the books I had picked for our Duck theme, we finally got to the park near his office, and began our "morning lessons" with a nature walk. We looked for signs of fall, we gathered some huge leaves for our Nature Mantle and we saw ducks, a crane and a grey squirrel with the longest tail I have ever seen!

Next we chose a table under the shade, near the lake and after filling in our Nature Walk Tracker (weather, observations, funny happenings) we did "Circle Time"- funny since there are only 2 of us, but the activities are the same even if we aren''t in a circle. I read 2 poems, one called Good Morning and the other an Animal Poem, with movement. Next we sang 2 songs- If You're Happy and You Know It, and a duck counting song. This will stay the same for the next month- Grace will learn one each week. Next we waddled in a square (the shape of the day) and pointed out all the red things we could see (the color of the day). We finished Circle Time with a brief finger crocheting story and some verses to accompany the handcraft.

After rushing to pick daddy up, we discovered he was running late, so we read the 2 chapters in Frog & Toad are Friends for our book club while we waited in the car.

She loved the 3 Kitten folders I picked out for her so much, she decided to color a picture of her favorite.

At the next stop (another of Daddy's appointments) Grace decorated the cover of her new binder with stickers and we listened to the CD I got from the library (Frog & Toad Original Broadway Cast). I didn't tell her what it was and she was thrilled to make the connection between one of the songs and the story we just read.

We all had lunch on the patio of Chapporosa Grill, one of our favorite OC lunch spots, we had their "signature" Strawberry Salad, a Mediterranean Veggie Pita, and Cantaloupe. It was all delicious and Grace colored a first day of Kindergarten self-portrait on the white butcher paper covering our table.

Our last stop was my Drs office. Since we were an hour early we sat in the car under a shady tree, Daddy made calls for work and I read The Ugly Duckling to her. She then watched the DVD I got from the library, called The History of the Ugly Duckling.

At my Drs appointment she got to watch as the Sonographer showed us her new baby... sister- all the fingers, toes, and little tiny nose! It was amazing and the baby wasn't in the least bit shy so we are fairly certain she is a SHE.

Grace has enjoyed hanging out in the homeschool room in the evenings lately, so she dictated to me what she remembered from our Circle Time for her Circle Journal, and we we finished up our Main Lesson Block, reading Lifecycles of Ducks, and talking about what we learned and any examples we had seen at the lake that morning. Did you know their webbed feet have no feeling?

Next we read the story she narrated to me the night before called "The Invisiballs" (more to come on that one!) and for her Practice Time, she wrote her favorite words (that she knows how to spell) up on the whiteboard. We finished by her dictating "In Her Own Words- What I Learned Today" page.

Finally she spent about 20 minutes playing with the create an Ice Skating Show game on, changing the moves and music. She has been very into what feelings music evokes. The other day we heard the Pink Panther theme on a jazz musical station I was listening to and she said "I don't like this song, it sounds sneaky." Right on target! With her Barbie Skate Show last night she told me her favorite song was the slow sad one because it sounded like she was alone and her love had left, and the ice skating moves looked like that too.

She thinks she wants to ice skate instead of gymnastics this year, and tap and tumble. We'll have to wait until we get access to the educational funds with Sky Mountain. We meet with our ES today.

All in all I think it was a fantastic first day. I love the flexibility and rhythm of our new style -Waldorf flavored, Theme Unit, Unschooling. Today she asked if we could do the Nature Walk and Circle Time tonight after park day. She does seem to have a little "brain burst" after dinner, it's nice to be able to accommodate her! Our basic 4 components (Nature Walk, Circle Time, Practice Time and Main Lesson Block) will stay the same, it's a matter of interest and events that guide us to the opportunities to draw her into them and reinforce what we learn throughout the day. It is also very nice to have a basic plan over a theme, with reading selections, media, art projects, songs, and activities to bring in.

She doesn't really know there are 4 components I am trying to cover- I am doing it as organically as possible, with none of the "Now it's time to" phrases. If I start doing something with interest and enthusiasm- truly for myself and in the moment, of course she wants to join in- she always does when I am doing something for myself! And we have a lot more fun. This style and attitude has been developing all summer, and now that I have a loose structure and preparation I feel more able to do it casually.

Happy Homeschooling!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Grace's first (non-family) sleepover!

Although her cousins have spent the night several times, this is the first time we have had a friend sleepover. Ava is one of the first friends Grace made when we moved to Temecula. Ava is about 10 months older than her, but they have always been into the same kind of playing- anything pretend or dramatic.

Their evening was filled with theatrical performances and scene setting ("this is my house, and yours is the living room- let's pretend my mom died and we are friends, but you are a dog and I am a cat")- and they utilized almost every little nook & cranny of the house (especially the hall closet, which houses Grace's "fort"). I found many little examples of their creativity, using the new block set we got at a garage sale, markers, stamps to make "tickets" to their show, and Ava shared her youtube channel with us- inspiring Grace to want to start one of her own.

We ordered Pizza Hut, Shawn made home-made rootbeer, they all made homemade ice cream, and I helped them make lots of lovely, scented soaps in the shape of fall leaves, flowers, shells and starfish. Then they enjoyed rootbeer float "soup". They started to watch different DVDs several times, but didn't finish any of them! They were off and playing before the "conflict" even came on screen (I overheard Ava ask Grace if she knew what the conflict part of a movie was, and Grace said it's the part where something happens- I didn't know she knew that!)

I read to them from Starbright Meditations for Children while Shawn moved the spare TV into Grace's room and they fell asleep watching Cinderella 3. They were zonked by midnight, and I was out by 12:30. Shawn stayed up and made a batch of beer in case there was middle of the night waking, but there wasn't.

They were up at 8:45 or so and enjoyed Fruit Loops, more ice cream, and leftover pizza for breakfast (it reminded me of my days in the dorm!) and now they are gathering kittens for some pretend game where they sell stuff and the kittens are their customers.

Click here to see the Photoshow.


Shawn last finished Da Vinci's Last Supper in Nov! No time for puzzles this fall- can't wait until we are in our own place again!!
Are you a puzzler? Want to trade?