Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I'm in planning mode for the coming year. I've done this every year, often times more than once a year. I love planning, scheduling, compiling resources, etc. I'm not so good on the following through. Never have been. I get all excited... and then fly off to something else new and exciting. That's why I had declared majors in Biology, General Science, German, Sociology, and Psychology before finally settling on Philosophy. By the time I declared a Philosophy major, I had enough credits that I could complete the major in exactly three terms. It was a love affair I managed to maintain for a year, and it was all I needed to finally complete the seven year journey that was my bachelors degree.

But I digress... I've got a plan in mind for the coming year. Ever eclectic in my approach, here's what I'm piecing together:

Story of the World, Volume 1 - Ancient History (for World History/Geography)
Core Knowledge 3rd Grade for U.S. History
Ambleside Online booklist suggestions for Year 1 and 2 (for History and Lit.)
TOPS Primary Lentil Science, and Backyard Scientist 1 and 2 (science)
Handwriting Without Tears
Singarpore Math

This is all rather ambitious of me. We'll see what happens. I'm figuring that both kids will listen to all the read-alouds (CM and SOTW), and work together on the Lentil Science kit (with Natalie recording their data/observations). I'm hoping to still keep things "light", as in "not feeling stifled by this school thing". You know - keeping the love of learning alive and all that. N. is begging for me to create a schedule for her again - she's a strange creature, that one!

Monday, July 16, 2007

A new term: "Tidal Homeschooling"

I came across this term and this blog on a yahoo group that I'm on. The yahoo group is for users who want to pursue a Charlotte Mason approach in their homeschooling, but from a secular perspective. Anyway, someone posted about this term "Tidal Homeschooling" which describes the ebb and flow in the lives of some homeschooling families. Times of "high tide" parent-led journeys through various subjects, balanced with stretches of "low tide" child-led pursuits. Sort of a mix between a formal and unschooling approach. I think the term fits our family's homeschooling quite well!

And in other news: My little girl is 8 today!!! Where, oh where has the time gone? Knowing that we are approaching the halfway point of our time with her as a child (officially anyway, because we all know that they remain your children forever) makes me feel sad. I miss her childhood already, especially knowing what the years ahead will hold. It's too bad these wonderful little creatures have to go through the teen years before they can come out as adults on the other side! Happy Birthday, Bug.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today's swimming report

N. did great today at swimming lessons! Amazing what goggles will do for a kid. I saw the best swimming out of her today that I've ever seen. They're working on perfecting their crawl stroke, and on side breathing. Most of the kids seem pretty clueless with the side breathing, and I told N. that it just takes practice. She was quite the little fish, and even chose to work on her backstroke all on her own during freetime at the end of class.

Poor A. is so sensitive. There are some younger kids in his class who are always goofing around and being silly, not staying on the wall to wait their turn to swim across, and generally thrashing around and bumping into the other kids. A. just can't take it. He hates to be too close to anybody else, and more than that, he hates when people don't follow the rules. When a kid starts playing with a toy, he takes it from them and sticks it back in the basket, and, nearly in hysterics tells them: "It's not playtime yet! We can't play with those during class!". Today when the kids were lined up on the side getting ready to jump in, the boy next to him didn't have his toes up to the edge. A. cried out: "Wait! Wait! His toes aren't on the edge, he's gonna get hurt!" (this based on his interpretation of the sign posted on the fence that shows someone diving in and breaking their neck). Of course, he didn't seem to feel that the rules applied to him when class was over and it was time for him to get out. He came *t h i s c l o s e* to losing playtime after his next lesson. That threat from his teacher definitely lit a fire under him, LOL! Oh, and there's a preschool going on in the play area just outside of the pool. For the last month there were never any kids out there, but the schedule has changed now that it's summer. The last two days there's been this kid there, looks to be A's age, but a little bigger. A. is terrified of him. I watched him give A. kind of a look - sort of a "back off kid" kind of glare, which made A. wilt and duck behind me. He accels at many things, but social confidence is more N's territory, that's for sure!

N's bday party is the day after tomorrow. I still need to assemble gift bags, pick up the cake at Costco, and email parents to remind them to have their kids bring socks to wear. The party is at a roller skating rink, and I'd hate for all these kids to show up in sandals with no socks. It will be interesting to see how the party goes. N. has never actually been rollerskating before, but she thought this sounded fun. She's a little disappointed that we aren't splurging for everyone to rent rollerblades. At $4 extra X 16 kids, that just isn't happening! We have friends coming from out of town tomorrow to stay overnight and come to the party, and we're looking forward to their visit.

LOL - the dog just let out this big whimper, which completely startled me. I looked over, and he's sound asleep in the middle of some crazy dog dream.

Is it obvious I'm avoiding housework? Man I suck at keeping house.

Earned my second SparkPeople trophy today!!! Aren't you impressed...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Water, water everywhere

Yesterday was the first day of the second session of swimming lessons for the kids. In the last session, the old teacher had refused to let kids where goggles during class. This meant that my girl, who prior to the session would swim all over underwater, suddenly would do almost nothing without total fear. So yesterday, new teacher: N. is doing her usual, trying to do the stroke, yet keep her face out of the water as much as possible. What does this new teacher tell me? "Hey, if she has goggles at home, make sure she wears them so she can put her face in the water." Oy. N. is ecstatic, of course. A. got to lose another float yesterday, and will be down another half float for tomorrow's class. She said he's not having to work hard enough to really swim, so she wants his body a little lower in the water - makes sense to me, but won't he be surprised! LOL!

Last night was our annual family picnic with our homeschool group. It was held from 4-8pm so that working parents could attend, and there were quite a few families there. This was the park near our house with the lake, so the kids spent a couple hours in the water, playing with all their friends. At 6:00 the moms were debating amongst themselves whether or not we should sunscreen our kids, given the fact that it wouldn't be dark for another 4 hours. :P It was a bbq potluck, and I brought the yummy broccoli salad that is becoming one of my "signature" potluck dishes. I also made a fruit salad - along with about 6 other people!

I've been doing good with getting all my water in. It's one of my first sparkpeople goals. In the past, I was a terrible water drinker. A month or so ago, I decided to cut out diet sodas, in an effort to force myself to drink water. You'd think if there was nothing else to drink, then I'd just go with water, right? Wrong. I think I just stopped drinking altogether - with the exception of my two cups of coffee each day. But now, I am a Good water drinker! In fact, I'm better at it then I thought I was. I've been drinking 4 16-oz. glasses of water a day! And going to the bathroom every 30 minutes, though I'm told my body will get over that. And just when I was busy patting myself on the back, hubby decides to actually measure how much the cups were holding - turns out they're actually 20+ ounce glasses, so I've been drinking at least 80oz./day. I so rock. LOL! I've also been getting all my strength, cardio, and stretching in. Yay for me!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Catch the Spark

I keep seeing all these people talking about SparkPeople in their blogs, and I had to know what all they hype is about. I registered with them a few days ago, and I'm really impressed with what I see there, especially considering that the service is completely free!

SparkPeople is a collection of online tools and resources designed to help you get healthy. For most of us that means losing weight. The site works very similar to Weight Watchers online (which helped me shed 30lbs about three years ago, which I have gradually gained back, and then some). You track your meals and snacks online, as well as your daily exercise, but rather than keeping a tally of Points (like WW), it actually keeps track of key components of your diet - calories, fat, carbs, sodium, protein, calcium, etc. It has a great report function that allows you to print out a nifty pie chart that shows what percentage of your nutrition each day is coming from carbs, proteins, and fat, and shows you what to aim for. You can choose to receive daily emails with motivational, nutritional, and/or exercise tips, and they have a whole library of videos that demonstrate different stretches and exercises. They also have recipes online, and you can enter your own so you can track the nutritional info. You can either use the menus they have online, or just journal your own food choices.

Another cool thing about SparkPeople (different from WW online) is that you set other specific goals that are not directly tied to how many pounds are coming off. These are goals which lead to habit change, which is so important in maintaining weight loss. My nutritional goal is to drink my 8 8oz-glasses of water each day; my exercise goal is to stretch for 10 minutes/day (this is in addition to any cardio/strength training done during the week); and my motivational goal is to journal once/day. All these little micro-goals that aren't focused on weight are awesome for those of us who get discouraged when the rest of our diet isn't going well - you can see that you are still taking positive, healthy steps.

And the last fun part of SparkPeople is earning points! You can do all kinds of things around the website to earn points each day - track your food, reach your mini-goals each day, post on the message boards, etc. And you earn "trophies". I just earned my first one today (I'll try to post it later). If you're curious about SparkPeople, you can go there via my link on the sidebar!
First trophy earned...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Do what I mean, not what I say.

Last night I sent the kids upstairs to clean up the living room before bedtime. For most of the afternoon, they'd been playing some complicated scenario that involved a new Darth Vader and Littlest Pet Shop kitty cat that Grammy had sent to them, so they had toys spread all over. After a few minutes, I headed up the stairs. I often try to sneak up the stairs to eavesdrop on their conversations, and the one last night just made me beam.

N: (in a slightly bossy tone) "A., you need to put your toys away in your room."

A: "Momma said to clean up the living room."

N: "I know, but she didn't mean to just throw them in your bedroom. I think she meant that she wanted us to put our toys away. You can do what you want to do, but I am going to go put my stuff away where it belongs."

I couldn't help but smile to myself. Aside from the Bossy Big Sister thing she had going on, it was nice to know she's finally starting to read between the lines and be a little less literal about things. I experienced that fleeting moment of "they really are listening to me!" that you get as a parent once in a while. The small affirmations that you're getting through to them in tiny bits. It was a nice feeling. In the end, hopefully A. won't feel the need to rebel against both of his mommies when he gets older, LOL!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Just some photos...

Our handsome doggie-dog. We became his foster family one year ago this month!

Our mischievous girly-girl. Caught a real smile on camera!

Tommy Ratboy.

Billy Ratboy.