Monday, September 22, 2008

Ramona the Pest

We recently finished reading Ramona the Pest, which was particularly fun because my mother read it to me when I was young. Plus, it's a good book.

One thing struck me as particularly interesting. In the last chapter, the mother has to go somewhere with Ramona's older sister in the morning. She leaves Ramona in the house alone and tells her, "At quarter past eight, you need to leave for school." But Ramona gets confused about what "quarter past" means and ends up being late for school.

Can you imagine?

In the first place, where we live it would take at least a full half hour to walk to the local elementary school, and you would have to walk down a high-traffic street (although it does have a sidewalk.) I can't imagine a five year old taking a walk like that all alone.

In the second place, today you'd be probably be arrested if people found out you left your five year old home alone, even briefly.

The meaning of "Cool" at our house

Two year old Benjamin (formerly known as "Baby Ben") loves any kind of construction vehicles -- tractors, bulldozers, etc.

He calls them "cool." I don't mean that he thinks they are cool. I mean, he thinks they are called "Cool." Cool, in this case, is a noun.

What's funny is that now our family calls them "Cool." We went to the library and Rebecca got a video about fire trucks and said, "Look, Mom, I got cool for Ben!"

Or when we drive past construction, one of us will say, "Look, Ben, there's a Cool!"

He'll hand me the TV remote and say, "Cool!" when he wants to watch the video "There Goes a Bulldozer."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rachael won a writing contest!

I'm so excited!

Rachael won an essay contest at Trader Joe's (a sort of organic/healthy grocery store) called "Why I Love Trader Joe.'s."

They called yesterday to tell us. She won a five dollar gift certificate, a pack of cookies, a juice box, and a tote bag.

I won my first writing contest when I was thirteen, so it brought back a lot of memories.

Unfortunately (and stupidly) I did not copy the essay before I sent it in, so I can't print it here, but if you're local, you can go to the TJ's on Johnson Ferry Road and see it yourself. :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Playing with dolls

I'm always particularly touched when I see the girls playing with dolls or stuffed animals.

It's probably because I like the assurance that they actually get played with occassionally, instead of just sitting in a heap all over the shelves and floor!

A little while ago they were out back, playing Duck Duck Goose with a stuffed duck and their American Girl dolls. Now they're inside dressed up in Princess costumes and playing with their Barbies (just two, a "Giselle" and a "Sleeping Beauty."

Some day people won't be running around here dressed like Princesses and playing with dolls...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Comparing homeschooling with school

There was a thread on a Yahoo group where a parent was wondering if their kids were "missing out" by not being in school. I thought this response was interesting, and I hope I'm not breaking any laws by copying it here.

This woman had several kids who had been in public school and a "top-notch" private school after being homeschooled.

My middle child started private school as a 4th grader. Her life long
dream has been to be a teacher and somewhere through the years
homeschooling she had decided that it was inferior. One day she came
home from school and announced that homeschool had been a good thing
after all and that she wasn't behind and hadn't missed anything like
maybe she thought. I had known that was the case but glad to hear it
from her.

My second observation is that on the standardized tests the kids were
required to take each year at the private school my kids scored the
hightest the first year they were there. Their scores dropped steadily
each year.

I too thought my kids would benefit from professional teachers and
professional lesson plans. I definitely noticed that they lacked from
the one on one attention. If they didn't get a concept, too bad, class
moved on. If a concept was too easy, too bad they had to wait and
basically not learn anything until the curric. moved on.

This time we have only been homeschooling 2 weeks, but the girls are
much older. The other day my 2 oldest got into a conversation about
why the homeschool classes go so much faster. They started listing the
classes they had last year and how much time was actually spent on the
lessons. They both agreed that the longest any class was taught was
only 20 to 30 minutes, some classes maybe 10 minutes. This was on a
good day, with no interruptions etc. If you translate that into a
homeschool situation 6 high school subjects could be finished in about
3 hours. An elementary child much faster. They reported that the class
time was spent taking roll, settling everyone down, chasing rabbit
trails (off topic), grading homework etc. (I remember lots of teachers
grading homework in class. It was never your own paper, so you never
learned anything from it. According to my kids this practice is alive
and well.)

Finally the big S -- socialization. My kids had far fewer friends and
social opprotunities at the private school. They were well liked
there, there just weren't opportunities to meet more people. My
youngest who started Kindergarten at the private school is the one who
is least likely to want to be around a new group of people. I told her
she HAD to go to the homeschool co op that starts next week. My oldest
has always been a very quiet kid, she never has a lot to say. She
loves to meet new people and join new activities. She might not talk
much when she gets there, but she is confident, enjoys herself and has
a close circle of friends.

One last side note, since we have been homeschooling again, our family
is much less stressed and the girls are getting along much better.

What I've been up

Nothing riveting, that's for sure!

My friend Mary said that she liked reading my blog, because it was sort of like reading People magazine, but about someone she knew. That inspires me to write a little something even though my life is so boring.

I've been watching All in the Family reruns lately and enjoying them very much. I've also been working my way through the last season of Friends, and have about three episodes to go.

Interestingly, I don't watch anything current on TV. I barely even know what's on, and getting two channels doesn't really help. Oh wait, I did see The Office a couple weeks ago, but that was rare.

I've been doing a lot of math and reading games with the girls, mostly from Peggy Kaye's books.

We just finished another lapbook unit, about zoo animals. We also did one on ice cream. (I'm too lazy to take pictures. Maybe someday.)

We all went to Bruster's a couple weekends ago and ate ice cream while the girls showed their lapbooks to their dad, so that was fun. Rebecca says that every time we do another lapbook, we should go to Bruster's, but I don't think we can afford that! Interestingly, the girls declined an offer to go to the zoo.

Tonight is "Wingo Bingo" (chicken wings and BINGO fundraiser) at our church, so I'm looking forward to that. I don't get out much, can you tell? One of my best friends, Ali, will be there, and it's always a treat to go to something where I know I'll get to see her.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Arrgh ... neglecting my blog!

Ugh, I haven't posted in a month and have probably lost at least half of my ten regular readers.

It's one of those things where, the more time passes, the more I feel like I have to come with a really good post, and that never happens, then more time passes ...

We went back to Vogel State Park a couple weekends ago. I think it will turn into a yearly trip.

I did the pool calculations, and it came out to $14/visit, which I'm pretty happy with.

Well, this is a pretty lame post, but it's better than nothing, so I guess I'll go ahead and post it ... and then I'll try to come up with something brilliant ...