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Just because it’s been one of those kinds of days.

First let me start with homeschooling.  I have finally gotten back into the whole swing of things…and oh the memories that come rushing in as I start teaching the Carthesian Coordinate system, all four quadrants, how to find the midpoint when you know all factors for x and y.  My 6th grader has handled this all quite well so far.  It will be interesting to see how he handles when we try to find the midpoint with only one full set of points.  I can remember using both equations and hating that my teacher seemed to prefer the more difficult to understand version.  I love that he can choose which of the two versions works for him–which happens to be the same that I find easiest to use.  I have also found another really cool free math worksheet website, but I apparently didn’t bookmark it.  Story of my life lately. =)

I’m going to link a really cool article here on how homeschooled children compare to public schooled children.  It’s quite an interesting read, and good to keep handy if you get a hard time from the public school. It also reinforces why people are making a switch back to the homeschool program: public school is failing our children, overall.  I was thinking the other day: Maybe you’ve seen the newer style of math introduced in grade 5 here?  You have a very straightforward problem, but in order to get the answer you have to solve in a very roundabout fashion.  It is frustrating to try to help your child in math when this is being taught.  My first inclination is why are they confusing the students so much?  Does this not set children up to fail?  Then a former high school math teacher made an interesting comment: what the kids are being taught isn’t really new, but actually old-school.  It may not have been old-school when I grew up, but apparently it is.  What it does is teach children to think outside the box–you won’t always have a direct answer, so you need to find a way to find the answer using other methodologies.  I never really thought about it that way, so it was interesting to hear that type of comment from a math teacher.  Do I like it?  Not really.  Do I agree with how math is being taught? Not really.  Do I understand the point on problem-solving in other manners, indirectly?  Sure, I can appreciate that, but I still don’t like it. =)

Now, my grade six son has been invited to attend public school the the last two months of the year to get him back into the routine of school, and get him back into the groove of having to deal with other kids in the class.  I have tried to talk him into going–but he does not want to.  He does like being homeschooled, but he also has bad memories of that school he attended last year: it was where he had a lot of meltdowns, and they became more severe by the end of the schoolyear.   That is my theory on why he doesn’t want to go back.  Now, I also can see the point of the principal–she wants him to get acquainted with his new middle school principal before school starts in the fall.  I think that is a good idea.  I think that will be beneficial for the two of them to get somewhat acquainted, and for the principal of the new middle school to understand what makes my son tick.  So we shall see how that all goes down.  I do need to speak with the future principal, and I would also need to speak with his future teachers so they can see what he has been working on this schoolyear, and where he’s ahead, where he’s a tad behind (which can be made up during the summer if need be).  I also need to start pushing for him to get that psychoeducational analysis done…by the school district, which will be most beneficial as he goes into an environment where there are 700+ other kids he will have to deal with at one point in time or another.

For the fun stuff: gardening.  I love to garden.  I am already dreaming up plans to expand the garden areas, what I want to plant (picked up 3 packs of heirloom tomato seeds a few weeks ago I am eager to plant), where to plant them.  I am a dreamer, I admit.  I have big plans with great visions of vines hanging over arbours full of blossoms and hopefully fruit, intertwined with vegetables.  I also want to build an outdoor kitchen complete with outdoor fireplace and sink, all beneath a covered patio.  I want to turn our fully covered back deck into a sunroom that has zero access to television–a place to read a good book and enjoy a nice glass of vino (well, a few sips anyways).  I want to add a small back deck space off our 2nd story master suite–much like we used to have when we lived in Ontario.  Man I miss that quiet space overlooking our country gardens (well, the start of them anyways).  I want to do a minor renovation to our master ensuite–get rid of that corner tub and replace it with a nice claw tub stand-alone that I can walk around–making it so much easier to clean.  ((Note to anyone looking at getting a nice big corner soaker tub: DON’T.  It’s SUCH a huge pain in the arse to clean. I’m convinced it was designed by a man.  I mean seriously, how many loving husbands/boyfriends actually clean them babies out?  Not mine–I clean bathrooms in this house.))

Since I have nothing else to do–you know, because volunteering time participating on the local hockey association executive, homeschooling, carting my younger two off to their Montessori preschool and back five mornings a week, taking on my volunteer position within the  hockey association (scheduling referees for 25 teams and their home games–a pt job in and of itself, but I do enjoy it), squeezing in time to do my paid job (writing home design blogs)… I have decided to create an avenue of obsession: interior design.  I admit, not only am I a dreamer, I am a “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of person. LOL   I have an interest in so many different things, it really is hard to choose just one.  Maybe some of you can relate.  So, what I do is take skus from a couple different choice companies, create rooms, and add some color combination ideas to go with it.  We’ll see how it all works out, but it’s just a secondary avenue of creativity for me.   I hope you enjoy that site, as well, and spread the word. =)   I have only just started it, so if you do get a chance to join my next obsession, check back often as I am updating it almost daily as my mind flips into overdrive adding content.

Side note: I have come the the realization that my younger two are possessed by outside forces of destruction.  They, on their own, are actually pretty good.  However, when they get together and decide to fill each other’s boredom… well, lets just say they seek and destroy.  And usually, it’s my stuff they seek out to destroy.  I thought boys are supposed to be easy??  Maybe some day they will be, but I have yet to be convinced 1) that they will and 2) that I will actually miss these days.  Maybe I will miss spending three hours cleaning the toy room just so they can absolutely demolish it ten minutes or less.  Maybe I will miss cleaning up puddles of pee because they just don’t feel like peeing in the toilet.  Maybe I will miss the constant yelling and screaming, both in fun and fighting over every little thing every five minutes.  Maybe I will one day…but today is not the day.  I don’t think it will be tomorrow, either…or the next day, but maybe one day I will.  ((I am convinced if I keep telling myself this, it will someday be true.))  Four boys + one house = never a dull moment

OK, so my whole intention was to chronicle my 1st-time home-schooling journey every week, or even bi-weekly.  As you can see, it hasn’t quite turned out that way.  However, after much hiatus on my part from teaching, I have gotten back into the groove of things.

First things first–math.  I know I’m doing things in a wonky order by govt standards, but that is fine with me.  We finally finished the metric-SI conversions unit…when I stumbled upon the most loved conversion resource: metric-conversions.org    <–This is the coolest conversion site ever, and it’s FREE!  It even creates basic conversion tables for you to print out. If only I had seen this at the start of my metric-SI unit.  So for anyone out there who has a child that stumbles in conversion factors–because quite frankly, I don’t push memorization much, just real-life scenarios in math.  I figure if there is a use for it, and it can be understood that there  is a use for it in the real world, then it will be more easily remembered.  Maybe that is backwards logic, but it’s still logic nonetheless.  The next unit is jumping into geometry, which I will not whiz through so quickly, as much of it I have to tap into my own memory resources to teach.  ((Let;s be honest, that was a LONG time ago that I even learned many of the basic geometry equations.))

I am still struggling with teaching English.  I did photocopy… a LOT, a couple weeks ago so I could finally return my teaching books to the library.  I sort of have a direction and find it is just easier to give a weekly load for my son to work on during the week (well, that was the theory my high school physics and math teacher used).  Aside from his lack of motivation to do the homework, still, at least he has a set thing he needs to finish every week, and it is all graded.  I did have him read a shortened version of Treasure Island and used it as a project book.  He created his own island, his own map of the island (to scale), a treasure map, and a 2nd treasure map he had to create based on the main characters of the story–he had to place the characters on the map, but in such a way that they showed some sort of relationship to the main character.  The next thing we tackle I think will be Poe–he has some interesting stories that my son will find humourous.   He is also learning the components of writing, how to be creative in his writing and not just direct.  It’s a lot of writing, to be honest, but he needs to get used to it.  ((spectrum gr 6 curriculum))

I am finding that with the proper motivation (insert: he gets his ipad back–which he earned last summer–with good exam grades), his quiz grades vastly improved over last exam session (in which he literally failed every quiz/exam).  I knew he could do better, just needed the right motivation. =) So this round, he had an A- in math, an A in spelling, a C in history.  We didn’t get around to the Health and English portion of the quizzes–those we’ll do next week.   I grade him tough–he has to be used to this style of grading as he intends upon going to public school in the fall.

Which brings me to another point: I still think the school district is bunk.  There is a great get-together for all the grade 6 feeder schools (which there are 5 that will be part of the new middle school–which is over capacity, even though it will open in the fall….can we say “poor population forecast models”) this coming week.   I decided that if he is going to attend public school, he should at least be exposed to some of the kids who will be there–in case he doesn’t have classes with people he knows already.  So I bring the permission form to the school office, and the elementary school principal tries to talk me out of letting him go???  Yeah, I know, fact is stranger than fiction.  She is worried he will have one of his bad emotional upsets in front of 500 students…but then ends the conversation with “I know some of these boys would like to see him again.”  Anyhow, I was even less impressed than I have been since his major emotional outburst in grade 5.  I also learned through a parent I know in the elementary school that our district is the ONLY district in our area who REFUSES to let a child’s own behaviour therapist attend school with them–it has to be one of the district therapists.  Why?  That was my question too: MONEY.  No, seriously, they don’t get money for support staff if someone brings in their own.  It disgusts me because they fail to understand with some of these autistic children, they NEED to have someone familiar to them inside that classroom for transitional purposes.  I certainly hope that this parent wins this battle, because it is a very important battle to be fought.  This displays, once again, how the district is more about money and taking care of their buddies than taking care of the children.   I don’t blame the teachers one bit, because we have had nothing but excellent experiences with the teachers.  It’s the people above them that disgust me.

OK, so back to home school…because that is what I started off with, right?  How have I handled the social aspect of home school?  Let me just say-not very well.  I did try to reach out to a local home school support group, without success.  When I had asked them some questions in the summer, the only reply was “Let me put this out to the group so they can share their experiences with you.”  What happened?  Well, that was last summer… and still not a single word from that group.  There are many others–which I have not seeked out.–as well, but let’s be frank, I don’t have money to go on group field trips, and very limited time of just he and I in the mornings to do anything, really.  He does have a good friend that comes over a few days a week to hang out, which is nice.  Socially, he is just one of those kids who is in a league of his own.  He wants to be social, but his interests are not the same as his friends’, which I think middle school will be good for him in some respects.  In other respects, he will have 750+ other students to deal with on a daily basis.  That could prove challenging for my little high-strung, highly competitive perfectionist.   He’s a highly intelligent kid, who loves to learn new things that pertain to science, math, and history….but not everyone is going to share his enthusiasm.  He is also, I will add, learning photography–which he seems to enjoy.  I can’t wait for spring when he and I can do nature walks, he can practice what he learns in class, and do a little nature science lesson along the way…  I just better hurry up and get to that part in the curriculum. LOL  ((We are only on landform science–finishing up on how to estimate the age of such landforms–but next is atmosphere, then nature.))

Oy… all this and he turns 12 soon.  Fun times, fun times. (boys are supposed to be easier, right?)  =)

Ah yes, I did so well the first two months of school. Then I got sick, had laryngitis for 5 days, felt exhausted the rest of November. I don’t know about you, but when I’m exhausted, I don’t think straight, so it wasn’t the best frame of mind to teach in. I so totally slacked it’s not funny.

What I have learned so far?
1. Homeschooling parents should get a tax break. Does the government have any idea how many hours go into researching, teaching, grading, experiment creating? At least teacher-teachers have the curriculum laid out for them, for the most part. Me? I chose to do my own thing, using the government guidelines as just that–guidelines. This is because if my child decides to go back to public school (which he does) I need to be certain he’s covering the basics (and then some).
2. My child is very hard to teach. He is a super smart kid, but he’s a visual learner who gets bored easily–as in within 5 mins, I have lost his attention. He’s fidgety, he likes to take bathroom breaks, he likes to take snack breaks. He hates when his littlest brothers interrupt his school time in the afternoon. He has zero motivation to do homework (unless you call “If you don’t do it, you get zero ipad time” motivation). He is like his dad–very disorganized, unless you call tossing papers randomly in his binder hopefully in the right place “organized”. He doesnt’ test well. He claims to study, but his grades don’t reflect this. I actually let him do an oral exam for photography (arts class) to see how he would do. The kid took zero notes, yet was able to ace that quiz–a week after we finished that portion of photography. This is something that I find interesting.
3. It is definitely an art teaching English Lit. This was one of my best school subjects growing up (which also seems to be my 2nd child’s strength), yet to actually TEACH it? That is completely different. I admit, I totally suck at teaching it. However, I am determined to trek along and figure a way around it.
4. You progress through topics so much more quickly than public school because you have just one (in my case) child to school, not 30 kids of varying degrees of maturity/intelligence. I have gone through half a year’s worth of math concepts in 2 months time.–which means he will get to do some additional stuff, like negative exponents, (including how to reciprocate a neg exponent outside the brackets), and he will learn a bit more on the algebra side, as well. Measurement conversions are the next unit, which is a break before we get into geometry–finding angles, naming circles, rays, lines, etc etc etc. … All this while taking in world geography (which isn’t on the govt list), world history (not on govt list), and economics (which he excels in as well).
5. Search out art classes. We have a Color Me Mine studio where we can do an afternoon of ceramic painting (tax deductible art), but they also provide art classes (also tax deductible) for $25 + tax. This is very reasonable, as it includes all materials. So this month, he will paint a dolphin, next month he wants to try his luck at painting Van Gogh (I don’t remember the title of that piece, but his cousin painted it years ago as well.)

I have also found some other really cool sites: BrainPOP is a great science site. Subscription is free, and you get access to science lessons/videos/lesson plans, etc. I heart this site. It is helping me put together my next Health unit — the brain, and how foods/chemicals in them affect the brain. (We have already covered the digestive system and the immune system, and how foods affect each.) Another great site is homeschoolmath.net which I stumbled upon while searching out exponent worksheet downloads.

Anyhow, so homeschooling thus far has been quite rewarding. I am understanding why he has had a hard time with public school, as well as why tests frustrate him so much. I never tested well either, so I can relate to the study for hours and get jack in return feeling. (College flashbacks are horrid some days! LOL) Armed with my new knowledge of how to keep him busy, I can now be more boisterous when I go to the public school principal and exactly dictate how he needs to be taught. I can’t say that all teachers will be successful, but if they want to help him succeed, as public schools claim they do, then they had better listen, and listen closely. I also am armed with knowledge that our school district shoots itself in the foot quite regularly by pushing teachers to be frugal, but not telling parents that by doing so, any unused funding gets lost…. as in you NEVER get it added to the following year’s budget. I also am well aware that our school is over 800K in the black, so getting my son in for the psych-ed test should be a drop in the bucket for them to foot the bill for. If they truly are interested in helping him succeed, they will get him in for testing and get him in for testing ASAP.

Week 3 …

My first two weeks, well the better part, were utterly disasterous, from my standpoint.  My son decided he HAD to start on the same day as his brother… which means I was so ill-prepared it was more like “Did you cover this last year?”. .. .. Now, I had absolutely no idea where to go about the whole — where do I start — thing. …  I think if I were a teacher, I’d have been better off, but alas, I am not.   So it took me a good week-and-a-half to actually figure out my plan. …  For me, it starts with World History.  How can you learn about the world around you if you don’t first know the history of the world around you?  So, that was my personal starting point for most of my curriculum. 

The second part was where in the world would I find free resources?  The internet is a wonderful tool, let me tell ya.  I have found so many wonderful sites.  One I love is Kids Geo.  They have a great way to present the rock cycle, the type of rock that are found within the earth’s crust…  and it’s not so much that you have to sift through for five hours, but not so little that you need to supplement with other stuff….  it’s the perfect amount of details for my middle-school child.  It also gives the perfect order to teach about the earth’s crust.  We have a microscope, but I think we’ll have to take a chip off the piece of lava rock we have in order to see the compacted crystals inside it….  

I am also teaching him, along with world history and civilizations, the basics of economics.  The hard part, since that was my minor, was to pare it down and make it basic enough for a grade 6 student.  I have all these ideas about what direction I would like to go, but then it starts to get too complicated. …  The local sales paper is a great way to explain the basics of the supply and demand curve, and how price affects both supply and demand of a product in a mixed market economy.  A trip to the local farmer’s market is also a great way to get your child to think about the purchase being made, the farmer, what happens to that farmer’s crops when there’s extreme weather (affects supply, demand, and price).  So he understands quite well the basics of the S/D curve. … and how different things affect price. ..   in fact, I am surprised how quickly he picked that part up. ..  …  for Socials, he needs to expand upon his Parliamentary knowledge.  This is new for me.  I came from a (false) democratic government system, so teaching him means I need to understand it, too..  which is actually easier because if I can’t find a way to understand it, how will he be able to? …   French is the tough one. …  I did find a super good site, though, that gives audio, from a true Frenchman–the French Experiment. Having zero French, and equally as hideous pronunciation, this site is a Godsend!  You can find some fabulous worksheet sites.  My favorite math one is Super Teacher Worksheets. You can get some for free, and for $20 you can get a whole lot more. …  Actually, one that’s even MORE cool that that, for math anyways, is Math Aids. .. You can actually create your own set of worksheets… for free.  That one makes me giddy.  Math nerd, I know, but that one is actually fun.  

Other things I’ve learned over the past few weeks… teaching English is really hard to do.  I excelled at English in school, but to actually teach it??  That’s a whole other can of worms. … I definitely have work to do on this portion of the school day. … BUT, with research and help from the cache school (the principal is awesome, I will admit) I will figure it out in no time. …  

Create a weekly plan.  I can not emphasize this enough. … Who cares if you don’t have the year planned out yet… start with your weekly plan. …  This has been my sanity-check document for a week, now….  It makes advancing your course direction a whole heck of a lot easier. … It has given me some tiny bit of free time in the evenings… tiny is a good start when you have 4 boys, an international student, 3 dogs (2 of which are wild puppies), hockey, hockey exec, a part-time writing job (thank goodness that one is telecommute and extremely flexible), and a part-time volunteer job as part of my exec committee duty. …  needless to say, it’s extremely chaotic, but it’s all good. … 

Lastly, what I’ve learned over the first three weeks of school — you will be up until 11pm most nights, if not later, researching and note-taking to prep for your child’s class the next day. … This is the life of a teacher… and I now understand why my teacher neighbor spends her summer lettin’ go and lettin’ loose.  

 

So, my son decided that he HAD to start school the same day as his brothers… just because that is his routine.  He is a very routine child, to say the least. So, you know that feeling where you feel like you are the most disorganized soul in the world? Yeah, that was my entire first week of school.  I feel more and more disorganized every year–odd how that works. 

So here I am, with an actual “bell” schedule with A days and B days… and Fridays set as our review day. … Except, I didn’t have books..  BUT, hey, how bad could it be, right?  The first week of public school here is a write-off anyhow as they juggle numbers, and just waste time for the entire week on “what I did this summer” projects of art and essays as they “make sure kids all fit together well in the classroom”–whatever that means these days.  We didn’t juggle classes teachers, we were assigned teachers and that’s who we had all year–except middle school, where we started day one … as a FULL day of school, none of this 2hrs or less ridiculousness.

Oh yeah, so back to the first week of home school.  Let me just say, it is an eye opener.  Very wise tips I’ve read to make the week’s dinners ahead of time, like a Sunday all day, and freeze them.  I think the whole week was “what is quick and easy” week.  Thankfully, we still had the last remnants of pasta..if only the boys would stop eating bread like it’s candy..(but, oh wait, it is like candy…. as it turns to sugar in your system–which explains why my sugar addict son loves it so much). …  

Teachers, home school and otherwise, you deserve more pay.  In fact, I think I might just start a picket line of my own–I am going to protest FOR teacher’s getting a raise.  I spent last week prepping my admin side of home school–I have the binder, I have my stuff in order, I thought I was good to go.  

This week, now that we are in session, it is a very different story.  The first day was more of “what did you cover” or “did you cover this” type of review day.  As the week went on, I realized I needed more prep work… a lot more, especially if I am to work this without texts for the short-term.  Luckily, there are tons of great websites that gave me a good understanding of what I should be teaching in math, for example, with a few free downloadables to test my son’s knowledge.  I had this rush of math info and many “oh yeah, I remember doing that” moments while I was busy skimming through the worksheets for things like finding the area of a circle.  I even had equations start popping into my head that I haven’t used in, well, a long time.  

So, with the first week behind me, and my starting to grasp the work behind the teaching, I am still left rewarded when I hear my son recall much of what little I taught him this week… and his routine?  Oh yes, he keeps me to the exact time — one hour for each subject, with an hour lunch (just don’t tell him HIS hour is up) … …  Yes, there are many late nights this week, but i think leaving Friday as a more relaxed, less scheduled day, is going to do wonders for my sanity–what little I have left, that is. 

I have spent the better part of the week doing prep-work for my grade 6 home school curriculum. .. CHER has so many great books to make my wish list from, and Donna Young has an amazing set of printable info that is especially handy in keeping myself organized, and my thoughts organized. …. So as I am working on the finer details of my lists of lists (for which I am infamous for), I read an article on Dredge today about a German family who is being prosecuted because they home school.

Now, in Germany, it is illegal to home school your child.  You must attend public school, and adhere to their curriculum.  In Sweden, I do not know the semantics, but apparently there is a similar case in the courts.  In Canada, we are very fortunate to have a government that understands that education diversity is going to create a better country for future generations.  Well, that’s how I like to see it, anyhow. In British Columbia, we enjoy the most relaxed home school regulations in the country.  With that in mind, I have still been doing my due diligence and making sure that the government PLOs are my guidelines, in case my son decides to go back to school public style next fall.  But I must admit, I was surprised at the lack of variety in the PLO requirements. .. The children learn French in elementary, but it is not required after grade 5?  How can you have a bilingual country without the 2nd language being taught? That seems rather backwards to me.  The only science I saw in the PLOs had to do with earth/space.  Is there nothing else to study in general science?  I have added to my list of books physics, chemistry, engineering, nature/environmental science to give him a variety of topics to cover.  He is a science-minded kid, so he needs the science variety to keep him interested.   Math.  Now this is a very very extensive subject under the PLO–which isn’t a bad thing.  He will learn the basics of algebra, geometry, multiplying fractions and go into greater decimal depth, and more in-depth of units (million, billion, trillion).  I can remember being in advanced math, starting in middle school, so this is all pretty much what we did in advanced math.  English is also well-covered with literature, study of plays, creative writing, critical thinking… all things we learned in middle school back home. …  What I have also added to my curriculum for the year, just working out the details on working it into the plan,  is World History, World Geography, and Music Theory. …  All of these are very important, and World History/Geography go hand-in-hand.  Every child ought to know where Kenya is, where Ethiopia is, where Iran is, where Thailand and Madagascar are.   They may not remember the capitals as they are older, but when you hear current events on the news, you should at least be familiar with the region.

So, this, I find, is what I call a well-rounded education.  Yes, they do cover current events (and likely geographic location) in public school, they do cover cultural diversity in public school, etc, but so many of these topics go hand-in-hand, and should be taught as such.  Example: When learning about the history of civilizations, you are learning the culture, where they are geographically located, why people were drawn to that area (economics), the environmental hazards of such large civilizations, how it impacts agriculture, etc.  You have most of the subjects in just one history lesson. … You can also study the arts, their hieroglyphs, how they understood the stars/astronomy, as well.   It is an all-encompassing, invigorating way to study all of the subjects together, yet pick apart each subject and how it relates to this civilization, and how it has affected the world today.  The pyramids of Egypt–covers building materials and basic architecture of the time … it’s just a very different way to learn, but a more hands-on and real-life approach.

So, back to what I was mentioning earlier before I got side-tracked… In the Dredge article, you will see that the Obama administration as essentially ruled AGAINST educational freedom.  This is a detail that my American friends, family, and followers ought to take note on.  This is why I found the article so interesting–because governments are increasingly afraid of students who are NOT adhering to the garbage taught in public schools.  By garbage, I mean false history….and by garbage I mean that the children who are taught the US Constitution (Ron Paul has a great link on this), are being singled out as coming from families with domestic terrorists. …  This is not to go unnoticed.  Educational freedom is what will save the world.  Children who are educated on true history, the good and bad, who are educated at home are, in essence, better citizens.  They are more appreciative, in general, of the world around them and are more ecologically wise.  They are the protesters against environmentally damaging laws.  They are the students zipping through college courses at seemingly warp speed because they are not taught to recite, but to comprehend.  They are the creme de la creme, actively sought out by Ivy League schools.  They are social, and can hold thought-provoking conversations on world events.  They are very intelligent individuals, not the Neanderthals that the government wants everyone to think they are.  They are not cults, as the governments will like to accuse them of.  The families that home school are educational purists.  So what if religion is brought into the curriculum.  Is this not what a church does?  Educates  your child on religion? ( Except, in my case, I haven’t found a church in this area that teaches the Bible… which is a whole other blog issue LOL.)

So, until I am invaded by snipers, by DEA, by Interpol… for the sole reason of educating my child… I will continue on my merry little way teaching him in the best way that I can. … while my 2nd elder son enjoys his public school education–which for him has worked well so far. ….

Tom & Jerry… live episode

I am living in, as my cousin calls it, a Tom & Jerry episode.  If you don’t know who these two are, you definitely did not grow up in the 80s.  Anyhow, so this is how the live episode rolls…. 

I’m trying to catch up on laundry–which is a fools’ game, I know.  I pull a wet comforter out of the wash, hear something hit the bottom of the washer as I transfer said comforter to the dryer.  I wash toys quite regularly, so I assume it’s a toy.  Oh… no… that would be just too overly simplified for my life in a house full of men.  What drops out is a mouse.  Not of the deceased variety, but of the newly squeaky clean live variety.  Oh yes, I did see my life flash before my eyes… momentarily.  Cute as they may be, I like to see them from a very far distance…you know, like in the talons of an owl swooping overhead.  So after I jump out of the laundry room saying a few expletives, my husband tries to get ME to take the bloody thing out of the washer and toss it outside to freedom.  Hey, the little fella deserves a 2nd chance after surviving a run through the wash… but I’m not about to be the one to give it to him.  

So while I am putting the younger two to bed, the dear husband decides to use a set of tongs to pick up the mouse, who is still running the new exercise wheel, and set him free. Free to roam the neighborhood, until the next cat catches him and brings him home.  Not sure of his fate, the mouse decides to make his own fate, and squirms his wee little way out of the tongs… and back INTO the house.  Apparently, he likes the new digs.  The cat, with impeccable timing, happens to be at the door and thus gets tossed into the coat closet with the mouse.  

Now, I’m thinking the cat will actually kill the mouse this time, instead of just toy with it. Two nights later, just as i’m getting comfortable that the mouse has been eaten, I hear the boys screech that the mouse is in the corner of the family room. … Which was quite the coincidence, since the boys were watching a kids prank show that had to do with .. … rats in the kitchen.  Karma is such a .. .. well, yeah.   

Now, seriously, this cat is about to do some serious outside time for not being willing enough to catch the mouse… and kill it.  So it’s been a few days. … We now have a German exchange student staying with us for a while…  and what did she see this morning on the way to the bathroom??

Yep. .. that friggin’ mouse. … I am going to have some serious nightmares.  I keep expecting this mouse to jump out of the shoe bin… out from under a pile of junk in the coat closet… from under the couch.. …  you know, anywhere that needs a good, deep clean (like my entire house).  I think this is my cat showing serious disrespect to the person who feeds him, who lets him in when his cat window is closed… and maybe, just maybe, Brutus is a little upset that his new bedtime buddy was away an entire weekend without the prior written cat consent. 

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Just because I could use a little relaxation about now…..

So, in the meantime… while the cat plays with his new toy in the middle of the night… one of these mornings I expect to either hear the little squeak of a mouse under my foot in the middle of the night bathroom run…   or wake up to the cat telling me how proud I should be that he finally…FINALLY killed his favorite toy. ..  

… and I am realizing that I need to sit and seriously start planning at least the first semester.  I have all sorts of ideas on paper, and I mean enough that covers something like 3 front-to-back pages full, at least  I was all proud that I bought a larger whiteboard to “teach” with… and I have somewhat convinced the husband to get rid of the air hockey table (i.e. use it for the new office rec room) that nobody has used in I don’t know how long.

Back to planning.  I had all these wonderful ideas at the beginning of August to start my planner.  Then karma decided to kick my butt and now I have a husband recovering from surgery, a son with a badly sprained ankle (the same son who wants to be homeschooled, but plays basketball… could get a little tricky come evaluation time)..and I shouldn’t be feeling time-crunched, but I am.  AND I managed to miss the early Homeschool Orientation at the library, so I am now on the late session…Sept 20… you know, 10 days before the deadline of homeschool registration ((but THAT I can do next week when the administrators are back inside the office prepping for the schoolyear)).

I am at a loss on how to actually plan a school year, so I decided to do a little online research.  …. I found a fabulous little site that is full of amazingly useful (and did I mention FREE) downloadable forms to choose from.  Donna Young has an extremely thorough site to browse through, with regards to various forms you can use in different text styles.  From attendance records, exam score records, chore sheets, to weekly, monthly and activity planners.  I feel like I just hit the homeschool jackpot… again! ..  I didn’t even think about some of the things she has on her site (like attendance… for home school?). But the points she makes are valid–you may need to provide these little things to the school to ensure you are following guidelines.  Every district will be different.  I will find out next week what my district feels the need to harp on me about…  you know, besides the whole “you need to attend public school to keep him socialized” line of BS I am well-prepared to be fed. …  and spit back the facts… nothin’ but the facts, and let them squirm as they are asked “What has the district done for my son?  Not the teacher, the DISTRICT.”  …..

Home School Science

Home schooling is a science…. well, at first when you take a gander it really appears you need a degree to decipher all the different teaching styles, and then you think–can I just blend teaching styles?  Of course I can, I’m in charge.  

So I am working on a teaching plan (you teachers deserve some major kudos in the planning department) for my visual learner and stumbled upon this super cool site called Science Buddies.  I LOVE this site.  I especially love that it is not just a collection of varied level science fair projects, but that they are all hands-on science projects that I can work with in varied science fields.  The science of photography, music, physics, nature science, environmental science, biology, and the list goes on and on.  This is so perfect for my little science-minded 11yr old.  I don’t need them for science fairs, but they are great at-home science projects that are easy to do with stuff you can find around the house.  For example, you can measure meteorite impacts by using a box, flour, various sizes of round objects (marble, golf ball, baseball), and then use the impact measurements to discover how meteorite size affects the size of the crater.  Super cool, no?  

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 As a side note, I was also excited to see our local library fully embrace the home school niche market–even providing 2 open houses to review what the library can do, what books they have, and how they get the books you want but they don’t have (inter-library loans).   This is a most excellent way to find books–especially the first year when your child just wants to try home school, and see what it’s all about.  It is also a most excellent way to meet other home school families, and some of them will most likely be first-timers like myself.  

Let me add one more thing: NEVER  BAKE  WHILE  BLOGGING …  it doesn’t end well.

I am one of these people who love to do big projects.  Well, they don’t always start out big, but they always end up big.  My latest project ended up being 3 days’ work.  I turned a messy, boy-clean toy room into a really cool space room…with some help from black paint, white paint, glow-in-the-dark paint, and sticker jewels.  

It all started with a natural science/earth science sort of idea I had: have my 11yr old scale down the solar system and use sidewalk chalk to illustrate on the greenspace path behind our house (cuz really, that’s the type of space you need, and it would be fun for other families to venture through space on their daily walk/run/half-run).  Then the ideas start to swirl: I have a blank canvas in the toy room that was supposed to be a robot factory room….only I never really got to it.  ANNND it was never properly cleaned and re-organized–and by properly I mean my way–by my 9yr old last weekend.   

So there it was… I’m tired of dark brown color blocked wall with pale yellow everywhere in the house.  It’s a great combination, but I need change.  I can’t exactly switch out the furniture to my family room, but that is on my list (as in when my 3yo decides to end his little art escapade on everything he can reach).  I can only do so much rearranging of the furniture before I run out of ideas.  Anyhow, so there I was… thinking about the solar system and having a flash-back to high school physics when my friend Erin and I grouped together and put up a scale model of the solar system in the local elementary hall–where there was less chance of it getting destroyed within five minutes of setting it up.  And then I’m thinking–why not put the solar system (in very rough scale, mind you) in the toy room?  Kids play in there, they can learn about the planets, they can see the stars…. and so the journey began.

Can I just say I LOVE the black wall as a color block wall with the pale yellow?  In fact, I love it so much that I am going to do this to two of the other bedrooms while the hubby is in Vegas…  He should be so happy that I only bought one gallon of paint on the books… the other stuff I needed for this past week’s project??  Oh that money was strictly off the books…. as in, I got a refund from some hockey exec committee expenses I submitted, type off the books. .. but SHHH we won’t tell him that — good thing he never reads my blogs.   

Need I mention some really good summer clearance sales while he is away?  He already got mad that I bought some school supplies (for $1 or less each) to add to my extra supply box… I’m sure that by the time Thursday comes around, he will wish he never left for Vegas. =)  

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Space room that has been mommy-cleaned.

What’s the old saying?  What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas?  Yeah, well around here, its more like “What goes on while you’re in Vegas… can be seen when you get back from Vegas.” (Just don’t hold me accountable for my designer boredom and obsessive need to change things every three months or so.)

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