Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Daddy's birthday and more planning

 We celebrated my husband's birthday at my parents' house on Saturday. Food and football.

Hands full of watermelon.

 Taven testing out his new (hand me down) bike that his buddy Aidan gave him.

 We know fall is near when we can start a cicada "skin" collection.

To thank Aidan for the bike we made him a friendship bracelet.

 Taven wrote a little note.

 And we stuck it in the mail!

We have also been busy making Rainbow Warrior badges for our friends.

 My husband's actual birthday was Monday. I really love the picture Naia drew for him of our family.

Here they are waiting for Daddy to get home from work. Eaden has been working on crossing her eyes.

 Mirek had a hard time patiently waiting for the cake.

 Here is a video of the surprise!

 I found some colored sand while cleaning on top of the book case and we decided to use it up.

 I am still working on our schedule and rhythm, revising and editing as needed.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Turning your face to the sun

I read this on my Facebook feed a few days ago...

"A private life is a happy life."

 First of all, this is obviously not always true. However, I understand what whoever said it is trying to say. It can especially be true with all of the social media pervading our lives nowadays. To keep your life private may simply mean you are not on all of these sites. That in itself could easily lead to a happier life. More fulfilling and meaningful days.

 There IS real value in sharing though.

Like everything else, it's about balance (not balance as in 50/50 but balance as in 95/5). It is also about respecting your kids. Things spread like wildfire on the internet. I think keeping to one platform is best. For example, if I am blogging I should not also be on Facebook.

No Facebook!

 I think it's good to share (with kids you have to think about them obviously), but Facebook is more of a waste of time in my opinion. Also, I cannot stand all of the advertising. As soon as I googled how to fix my toilet there were toilet ads all over my feed. I don't like that. It's creepy.

So I got contacts and I seriously plan on hanging out more and writing mail. Lot's of mail! Real letters with real sharing in them. Making real friends and having real relationships. I look forward to having a box of letters from friends to go back and reread in the future. The kids will also get in on the action. We love decorating envelopes in new and exciting ways too.

I do not want "friends" you only see through a screen. I want friends like this!


So what do you do if you find yourself with a minute and there is no Facebook to check?



 I have quit Facebook numerous times in the past by the way, but I am determined to make this time the last! It's awesome! Deleting a Facebook account is such a great feeling (maybe that is why I do it so much)!

So what to do?

 Usually I read a book, but maybe I should pick up knitting...no I actually do not enjoy it. Plus we do not have need of much knitted items in this part of Texas. I've always wanted to make a habit of cross stitch. It may not have much use, but it is nice to look at. Reading, cross stitch, letter writing, scrapbooking, playing a card game with the kids, going for a walk, sitting on the porch.

Being present.


There is so much left to do without social media taking up every nook and cranny of your life! If you have an account, but do not get on much, good for you! If you have one and are always on, delete it! A lot of people use the excuse that family is on Facebook and they never get to see them or they live so far away. Come on people! Facebook has not been around that long but somehow friends and family stayed in touch! There are so many ways to stay in touch and more meaningful ways too!

So stop looking down at your computer screen, tablet and/or phone AND...


Thursday, August 14, 2014

An Unschooling Schedule?

 I think of unschooling as allowing your child/children to follow their own interests. 

Here is a question. If a parent plans out a day (or month) like I did in my previous post, can I consider myself an unschooler? Perhaps not. Who cares really. Another question. How will your child know what their interests are if you do not expose them to many different things? I don't think they can. Of course, they will find something that interests them, but many other possible interests are left unexplored.

This is why I created a monthly plan for my family. We learn about various predetermined topics and if something interests any of the kids, we can explore the topic further.

I think true unschooling, where one really pursues their own passions with complete freedom, would be better suited for the older child that has already come into contact with a wide variety of subjects, issues, etc.

I would always say about my daughter Naia that "she is not interested in reading" or "she doesn't like to read." Well today I sat her down with our Phonics Pathways book. She was slumped over, moaning and groaning. I said "come on, let's just do one page." She hesitated at first, but after finally sounding out a word on her own she got a huge grin on her face. 

Now can this possibly be a bad thing? To nudge our children just a bit? Perhaps they will discover a new passion that they never knew they had.

So is unschooling about parents helping their children to discover themselves? Can a plan help with this? I think in the case of our family, it can.

In the end, I don't think it matters exactly what we do or what we choose to call ourselves. I think what matters is that we homeschool. That we keep our kids home, together, with their families. I think what matters is that someone who truly loves and cares for a child raises that child. I am not saying that some teachers do not love their students but of course no one loves a child like their parent. 

So I always go back to my truths...

 All you need is less. Not only is this true of STUFF but it is true for curriculum as well. Library books are all we really need. We do use Horizons Phonics and Math, but I am not going to buy the Phonics from here on out. We like the Math and will stick with it. All of my kids enjoy it and ask me to help them with it nearly every day.

So, in summary, less of everything is best. Except library books. More is always better!

Involving kids in as much as possible is always the best route. I do not mean going overboard with classes and activities, but simply showing the kids how to do things around the house. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, fixing things. If Grandpa can help out with power tools and carpentry, great! 

Don't just read about rockets, build them!

Which leads me to the next picture. If you don't know how to do something, do it! This can be intimidating, but it works!

And most importantly, let the kids be kids! Let them play.

Get them outside!

It can be tough for us city dwellers to get somewhere worth exploring, but we have to do it. As much as I love my home and I love spending time there, my backyard sucks. Unschoolers on acreage have got it made. Unschoolers in the city have to work. I also have to keep reminding myself to find a balance. Spending beaucoup bucks on precious gas to get to that awesome creek is not something we can afford to do every day or even every week.

Home is still where the heart is.

In the end, what do I want for my kids?

I want them to discover who they are. I want them to be proud of who they are. I want them to do what they love and to not give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks. I want them to LIVE.

Oh! And I want to do all of this with them.

Getting ready for September

Although we homeschool year round, there is definitely a difference between what we do in summer and what we do for the rest of the year. This is mainly because we do not go anywhere public, besides the YMCA, in summer (museums for example). They are too crowded. We go out of town quite a bit, friends and family that are home from school want to hang out more, gymnastics is during the day instead of in the evening, we go swimming a lot, etc.

I have made a plan for September, but I am only planning one month at a time because who knows what we will accomplish.

 A few weeks ago I completely decluttered the kids' rooms. I got rid of toys and clothes en masse. All closets are perfectly clean and simple. This has helped a ton with the amount of cleaning that needs to be done. There is nothing left to clean! Since then I have also tackled all other areas of the house including my own closet. 

I reorganized our book nook, cleaning off the table there and moving it so that everyone can sit around it at the same time. This allowed me to clear off the kitchen table (where they would previously sit when they wanted to color or work on some other project) and guess what!!?? We eat there now! I have been planning meals and cooking enough for leftovers. It has been working really well. I plan and shop for groceries on Sunday. I cook a main meal about 4 days a week and we have leftovers on the other days. I cook new sides each day.

All of the kids' main homeschooling supplies are now on this shelf (below) instead of on the table. Library books are in the basket on the floor.

 Last year I kept a binder for Eaden where I put all of her work. Math, Language, History, Science, Art, etc. I am going to do the same thing this year for my oldest three and add a section for photos.

The key to success is to be ready to go in the morning. To have the house clean, to have work prepared, materials and supplies on hand, and patience. 

I still have a few things left to do, but plenty of time until after Labor Day. I need some supplies (folders, binders, new colored pencils, magnet kit, etc.) and I need to organize my own home binder. I need to request books from the library and probably do a few other things I am forgetting...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Traveling the Gulf - New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulf Shores, and Pensacola

This past week my parents, sister, and I drove along the Gulf of Mexico from Houston to Pensacola. We stayed in New Orleans for one night and then in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

For a family of 6, we spent under $500 for the entire trip! My sister and I split gas and hotel costs. 

Everything about the trip was perfect. The drive was not bad. It is 6 hours to New Orleans and then 3 hours from there to Gulf Shores. It is less than an hour from Gulf Shores to Pensacola. I was worried about the 9-10 hour drive back home, but it went quite smoothly!

Just last week there were red flags all along the Gulf, meaning no one was allowed to swim because of dangerous rip currents. However, it was nothing but green flags while we were there. There was a 40% chance of rain everyday, but we only saw rain one night after being at the beach in the sun for the entire day. The rain was the perfect excuse for not having to swim in the hotel pool which is what our kids were begging us to do. If we were hot a cloud would come and cover the sun. Serious. Everything was perfect.

 We stopped in Beaumont on the way to see the house where my mom grew up.

 After checking in at our interesting (polite) hotel in New Orleans we started walking. The good thing about the hotel was that it was downtown.

 We had lunch.

 The restaurant was right on the Mississippi River.

 We took the streetcars everywhere.

 Here is a video of a street performer the kids enjoyed.

 We just happened to be right at Bourbon Street as the sun was setting. Par-tay!

 The kids got an eyeful for sure!

 A band made up of youth making money on Bourbon Street.

 We drove through the cemeteries.

On our way to Alabama, we stopped in Biloxi for lunch.

 This is what you call a Mississippi mustache.

As soon as we arrived in Gulf Shores (Alabama) we unpacked the car and headed to the beach.

Every beach we went to was very different. This one had really neat shells and a brutal wave that landed right on the shore.

 My sister's ass was in the air the entire time.

The next day we drove to Pensacola Beach. This was the prettiest beach we visited, but it also had small stinging jellyfish. Most everyone, except Mirek and I (and maybe my parents) were stung. It was only a short burn that went away after applying some sand. No big deal.

 Abby needed a break.

 My Dad found this snail on the bottom of the ocean.

My parents and husband had to leave the next day, but my sister and I were able to stay longer.

We went by Gulf State Park and then to Orange Beach.

 Apparently, in Alabama, they domesticate possums.

Orange Beach had the best waves and the kids had a ton of fun there.

We ate lunch at the Flora Bama near the Alabama Florida border.

After resting at the hotel for a bit we went back to the Gulf Shores beach that evening. This beach had a lot of jellyfish, but luckily, they did not sting!

 Here is Abby after catching a jellyfish with her bare hand. She was very excited.

 These guys were also catching jellyfish and offered to give some to Eaden.

Bathroom stop on the way home.

We had such a great time and the trip cost so little money that we plan on doing it again (with a few twists) next summer!