Saturday, May 31, 2008

Something cute from October

These pictures are several months old, but I don't think I ever posted them, and they're sweet.

Last fall we were out back and Baby Benjamin kept going over to the next door neighbor's driveway. It turned into a sort of game that the girls would run and get him, then bring him back to our deck.

Bringing the baby back home ...

... and up the porch steps ...

Safely back home! :)
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I love our playroom!

We bought our house back in 1997. It was built in 1974 and had been a rental for about 17 years, so it needed a lot of work.

The first thing we did was finish the basement (I cut and measured all the wall studs and Rob nailed them all in. We hired someone to do the drywall and electric, but did all the painting ourselves.)

The biggest room was a woodworking shop for Robert, but once we started having kids, it became increasingly noticeable that:

a) Rob had no time to build furniture down there
b) The kids could really use a playroom

So finally, in about Feb/March 2007, Rob sold/moved/rearranged a lot of his stuff and we carpeted the room and moved kids' stuff in there.

It is such a blessing.

We have one wall for assorted artwork. No more hanging stuff on the fridge for a week, then throwing it away!
The white shelf is what Rachael stands behind, like a sort of podium, when she is playing school and is the teacher.

Rob brought these shelves home from his office; they are GREAT!
I bought and labeled several bins: PlayDo, Beads, Markers, Sewing Stuff, Painting Stuff, Musical Instruments,etc.

Wow wow wow ... this is so much better than having things crammed in assorted closets and drawers.

Last week the playroom had a sign that said it was a Kindergarten classroom. The students' seats were arranged and labeled and the beanbag chair was even marked for "Time Out."

Yesterday the playroom was Villa Villakulla (Pippi Longstocking's home).

Yesterday evening it was a hospital. (American Girl dolls Julie and Mia both had scurvy. Rachael was the doctor, walking around writing things on a clipboard, and Rebecca was the nurse.)

This morning there is a clubhouse built in the corner. No boys allowed. I believe there's a sign that says is a boy comes in, they have to pay four dollars.
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Robert's Memorial Day Project

Robert is making our front downstairs deck a little cozier.

He bought patio furniture and built this lattice wall.
He's in the process of putting more plants in the area and getting an estimate to have tile put on the concrete.

Sometimes in the evening we sit out there while the kids play. It's nice.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is there summer break for homeschoolers?

I believe Friday is the last day of school for us. But my kids don't go to school, so does it affect us at all?

Sort of.

We go to a weekly Bible Study that just ended for the "school year" a few weeks ago. The girls' dance classes are almost over, and their recital is in two weeks.

So that will loosen up our schedule and give us more free time. We joined a neighborhood pool and plan to go a lot (because it was expensive and I want to get my money's worth!) The girls will probably go to VBS at our church. Rachael is signed up for Drama Club in .... July, I think. So I guess we are trading the long-term commitments to some different short-term ones for a change of pace.

But other than that, it's business as usual around here.

I believe Sandra Dodd said that you can know that you're starting to understand unschooling when the question, "Do you take off in the summer?" doesn't even make any sense.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How dare those homeschoolers go to the mall!

I sometimes like to read over at the Momania blog, although it can get a bit mean-spirited at times. I don't understand why the comments aren't moderated, especially since a lot of comments are simply insults about the author.

The other day homeschooling tangently came up, and one of the regulars made a few derisive comments about homeschoolers she's seen in Wal-Mart and the mall, mockingly wondering what "subject" they were studying there.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have bothered, but I was curious, really, why this bothered people, so I said something along the lines of, "I don't understand why this is a problem. Are homeschooled families not allowed to go to the store? Or are they only allowed to go after 3:00 pm, and if so, what difference does it make?"

I also pointed out that, if you see a homeschooled family at the mall, for all you know they finished four hours of schoolwork and were taking a break before they went home and did four more hours.

I was told:

1) If I couldn't understand it, I was too stupid to be homeschooling my kids;
2) Homeschooled kids are supposed to be home at noon, not at the mall
3) "I fear for the future of your children."

Well, it was disappointing that the conversation was so shallow, but it did make me think.

What, exactly, were those people's complaints? Why does it bother them if a homeschooled family is at Wal-Mart?

Because I got the impression that a) it pisses people off to see kids in places they "shouldn't be," ie the mall at noon on a weekday; and b) they're jealous, quite frankly, to see kids with that kind of freedom.

Am I crazy for thinking that?

I really do think that some adults -- and yes, at times myself -- have an attitude of, "Well, I had to suffer, so you had to suffer." Or, "Well, I have to work at a job I hate, so why should you be spending your days doing enjoyable things?"

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The latest craze around here

Both girls are crazy about a show called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Right now each of them are watching it, in two different parts of the house. Earlier was Rebecca was playing the games at the website.

It's funny to me that they like it, because I get the impression that the intended age is three and four year olds, and my girls are seven and five. I wonder if Rachael were in school if she would think of it as a "baby show"?

Maybe not.

Either way, it's sweet.

Baby Ben is two!

Benjamin turned two on Mother's Day!

I asked Robert if this means we have to stop calling him "Baby Ben." He said that Baby Ben will earn that privilege when he starts talking. :)

We had a nice little family get-together at my house. Unfortunately my mom was sick and couldn't make it, but my dad and my brother's family came.

Benjamin discovered a new game ...

I am still in search of a decent picture of me that is less than three years old.
This one isn't too terrible. I finally got some new clothes, which I desperately needed.
That helps a lot.

This is my 12 year old neice, Lauren!
She loves everything about wolves and is really good at drawing wolves.
She also likes Webkinz, and I think Neopets too.

Benjamin didn't seem to understand the concept of opening gifts, but he did blow out the candles on his cake.

We made a really cool and easy cake.

You lay a bunch of ice cream sandwiches in a pan, spread ice cream on it, then sprinkle some sort of candy or cookie topping, then spread Cool Whip on top. Rebecca picked Neopolitan ice cream and cherry licorice bites, which, um, wouldn't have been my choice, but it was actually pretty good.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Homeschooled Beans playing school

The girls have been playing school literally all afternoon, about 4 or more straight hours, wow. It's very Rachael-driven but Rebecca must be enjoying it too or else she'd go do something else!

Rachael is the kindergarten teacher, and Rebecca is a student.

Apparently a lot of eating goes on in school. They keep marching down the hall with their lunchboxes for either snacktime or lunchtime.

Rachael showed me her class schedule. It had things like Potty Break and NapTime and PrayTime. Hm, must be a private school. :)

They sit on the couch to ride the bus home, then they pretend it's the next morning and start all over again.

Dr. Laura says to skip the field trip!

I used to be a big Dr. Laura fan, and we even went to her 50th birthday party when it was here in Atlanta.

My views on education have always been, um, different from hers, though, and the disparity now is probably even bigger than it was ten years ago.

Today there was a call from a woman whose 8 year old attended a private school, and the entire school was getting ready to take a five-day camping field trip where they visit a farm and get to milk a cow, learn how to pitch a tent, that kind of thing. It was considered a "life skills unit" in the curriculum.

Since this what was the entire school was doing for that week, the actual "school" would not be open, and if a student did not attend the camping trip for whatever reason, they would simply stay home from school that week.

Sounds fun and interesting to me.

Well, DL said that was just "ridiculous," and that they should re-think paying tuition to this school. She said they should keep their 8 year old child home and "home tutor her in academics" for those five days, instead of going on the trip with her class, because "math and science is what she needs to get into college. She doesn't need to learn how to milk a cow."

That poor child, if the woman takes DL's advice! She has to miss a fun, cool, unique trip with all her school buddies so she can sit home and do math worksheets?? Is DL out of her mind??

Does she really think that five days of not doing math and science assignments is going to make any difference whatsoever in this child's education, or life, or anything?? Is the world going to crumble because she missed two pages, or five pages, or whatever, in her math textbook?

And even if it would -- which it would not! -- couldn't she still take the trip with everybody, and just catch up on her math on the weekend or something? Why does she have to miss the entire trip? This is making me more and more sad for that poor kid the more I type.


DL said they should skip this trip every year that the school does it, "unless they spend five days going to NASA, because that would inspire them."

Excuse me?? So learning about farmers and horticulture and such is a total, ridiculous waste of time, but going to NASA is fine? How do you figure that?

She even made the point of saying that she completely respected people who raised chickens, etc, but that kids don't need to be spending five days learning about it, because most people don't need to do that anymore.

She said that they could spend an hour of classtime watching a video about the career of farmers. Yes, really. That's what she said.

She and I have no common ground in that area of thinking, that's for sure.

I still feel so sorry for that child. Imagine what she's going to have to tell her teachers and friends: "No, I have to skip the entire trip because learning about farming is such a ridiculous waste of time that I can't even spend five days of my life learning about it or seeing it. I'll have to spend that entire time doing math worksheets, because if I took this trip instead of doing math, I might not be able to get into college in a decade."

That poor kid. I hope the parents don't listen to that.

Just another one of those posts about our day

I usually talk about cleaning the fridge; today my Big Accomplishment was clearing out and vacuuming out the van. Mmm ... much nicer!

The girls both went to the dentist today, which thanks to our great dentist, is a fun, easy breeze for both of them. The big challenge was keeping Benjamin away from the sink, and listening to his screams when I took him away from it.

Rachael colored in a picture they hung on the wall and entered in their "Coloring Contest."

After that we went to School Box. Rachael wanted a journal, Rebecca wanted a dot-to-dot book, and I bought two Geoboards, which the girls worked on in the car. I remembered that I had a coupon for a free Creation at Cold Stone Creamery because yesterday was Benjamin's birthday, so we got that and split it four ways.

Since we got home the girls have been playing school for hours and I've been rushing around trying to clean up. I cleared some things out of my desks, made a give-away bag, that kind of thing.

Apparently Rachael is the kindergarten teacher and Rebecca is a student. Rachael wrote the schedule on a piece of paper, and every now and then I hear her announce, "Okay, class, line up!" or say that it's snacktime or mathtime or something.

One time Benjamin got into their room and Rachael brought him to me and said, "Nursery teacher, one of your children got out."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rachael and Pippi

Rachael is really enjoying audio books, which is amusing to me because I've never cared for them. I'm one of those people that, if someone starts reading something to me from a magazine, I start to peer over their shoulder so I can see it too. I always feel like I can't quite grasp it if I can't see the actual words.

I had just gotten Pippi Longstocking on disc from the library. Yesterday Rachael looked at the book cover and assembled some things from her closet (including stockings, of course) that looked like a Pippi outfit.

What time was that ...? Probably about 5:00 pm. Then she stayed in her room and listened to Pippi, while dressed like Pippi. She came out and had dinner with us at about 6:30, then she went back in her room and kept listening to it until 9:00 pm when I put both girls to bed.

She must really like it.

Then this morning she went to go listen to it some more right after breakfast. She came out for about 10-15 minutes to watch some TV with Rebecca, then went back to "Pippi Land" again. It's 9:45 am as I'm typing this; I wonder how long she'll listen to it today?

And yes, she is in her "Pippi" outfit again today. It's too bad her hair isn't longer, or we could do the braids.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Christmas Lists in May

The girls decided to write their Christmas lists to Santa early. I guess I could admire them for thinking ahead ...

This is Rachael's:


IVY WOTH THE ICSESRES (American Girl doll Ivy, with the accessories)






Then Rebecca dictated her list to Rachael, which Rachael decorated with drawings of candy canes and presents:


A GEST LIC YOU DOL ("just like you doll" from American Girl) WITH SOME STUFF






Then, in the side margins, they wrote "FST FAVOEIT" and "SECGUT FAVRIT" next to the items on the list.

I didn't know Rebecca wanted a flute.

I didn't know Rachael knew that "phone" started with "ph."

I do know that Santa will be spending a lot of money at that American Girl doll store.

Rachael's Journal

One of Rachael's favorite gifts when she turned six was an Ariel Journal that a good friend of mine gave her.

This morning was one of those slow, difficult mornings for me to get up, when I'm grateful to God that I don't somehow have to get Rachael on a bus down the street at 7:10 am. So Rachael wrote in her journal while she waiting for me to wake up:


MAY 5 2008



And she's right, that is exactly what we're planning to do today ... um, once I get showered and dressed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Six Words

1. Write the title to your own memoir using six words
2. Post it on your blog
3. Link to the person that tagged you

Tag five more blogs.

Stephanie tagged me. The idea is to come up with six words that describe you right now.

What first popped into my mind is

Thankful we are all still alive

and I'm not sure if that's touching or morbid.

Enjoying every bit before they grow comes to mind too.

I don't really know who to tag, because I don't have many "blog buddies," and the few I do are all over at Stephanie's post, including Jewls, who tagged Stephanie.

Don't know if Amanda still comes by here often, but I'll tag her.

Gardening Girls

A few weeks ago we got a surprise package in the mail.
It was a little kids' gardening set from Grandma and Grandpa!

The girls planted some daisies and strawberries.

I am a total moron when it comes to things like plants and gardens, so I don't know if we did it right are not. Something is growing in there, but it might just be some weeds!

Notice what appropriate GardenWear Rebecca is wearing ... not! :)

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Red Top Mountain Field Trip

A couple weeks ago we had, I guess, our first official "Field Trip" with a local homeschool group. It was a nature walk at Red Top Mountain, and we stayed for a picnic lunch afterwards.

My kids are in the middle here, with Risa in stripes and her sister Lilia in pink. We carpooled with them, which was a lot of fun. Risa gets along really well with Baby Ben.

Rebecca took this picture of me. I wear the hat strictly for practical purposes. I can't quite tell if it makes me look feminine and charming, a la Jane Austen, or if it just makes me look like an old lady. Feel free to cast your votes.

Here the kids were passing around the different creatures that kids had scooped out of the stream. Being the wonderful homeschooling mother that I am, I had no idea what they were, nor did I pay attention to any scientific facts about any of them.

Rebecca is in the red Minnie Mouse hat that my parents had gotten her at Disney World.
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