All Posts Have Moved to Blogger

Just a note to say that all of my posts have moved to blogger:

www.highonhomeschool.wordpress.com

C’mon over if you are looking for clever homeschooling materials!

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Packing Up and MOOVING. To Blogger.

I’ve been working on this for a while and have a pretty good start (only 46 more posts to move – whew!)  That’s down from 66 just the other day, so progress is being made!

Please come over to Blogger and check out my newly designed homeschooling blog.  I’m in the process of moving posts and editing here and there, but overall I think it’s ready to rock.  Here’s the address:

http://www.highonhomeschool.blogspot.com

I will no longer be adding new posts here on WordPress.  If you like what I have to offer the homeschooling community, please come and follow me on Blogger.  I’d love to see you over there! 

Over the next month I should have all posts moved over and will be adding new materials.  I have Lauren of Designer Blogs to thank for working with me on the new design.  Thanks, Lauren! 

Come get High on Homeschool on Blogger!!!!!!!!!!

 

Building a Child Up

If I stop the merry-go-round that is life and sit still for a minute or two or longer, my mind can scarcely believe that Max is a fifth grader.  Where does the time go?  We all say that, don’t we?  How did that little guy who once topped out height-wise at my knee turn into a kid who is nearly as tall as I am (and he can even wear my tennis shoes without tripping)????  If we stop and examine each frame of our lives one by one, we don’t get a sense of how fast time is moving.  If we jump back onto the merry-go-round and hit the ‘go’ button, time whizzes by.  Time plays with our minds and sometimes shakes us silly.  My kiddo is eleven and now has his own ideas, his own agenda, his own game plan.  Thankfully he still respects me enough to allow me to interject now and then and kindly guide him in the right direction.

I’ve been thinking about this whole concept of time a lot lately.  I’ve also been thinking about the quote that is written on the left sidebar in this blog that states:  “What we feed our children everyday – in body and in spirit – is what they will become.”  Wow.  That’s heavy stuff!!  But true and important and I think we must pay attention to it.  Every word, every gesture, every nuance is read acutely by our children – they look to us to see who they are, who they can become.  I find this responsibility daunting, challenging, and one of the most wonderful things all at the same time.  There’s an opportunity if you ever saw one! 

Feed – in two contexts, right?  I’m a bit of a stickler about what is put into one’s body nutritionally.  I hate stuff like Vanilla Coke Zero and think it has zero value.  I love stuff like fresh avocados or tomatoes out of the garden, or a really good cantaloupe.  I’m trying hard to feed us with nourishing foods and focus a fair amount of energy on that task.  Definitely not perfect, but on a track and learning more about it every day.  So, working conscientiously on the ‘feed in body’ part.    

What about feeding our children in spirit?  What exactly does that mean?  What are some things that you do to build your children up?  One core way to show a child that you value him or her is to stop whatever you are doing and look at the child when he or she is talking to you.  I try hard to do this – to stop what I am doing and look right at him when he is talking.  This one is challenging because he talks A LOT, but he usually has something interesting to say.  I have issued a ‘Mom-Time’ no-fly zone after 9 p.m. wherein I can sit and concentrate on tasks that need tending to, like planning out the next school day, catching up on some reading, or blogging!  This is the time when the chatter is supposed to wind down and Max is supposed to head off to bed and call it a night.  My husband is an early bird, so he’s generally in bed before nine.  I’m a night owl all the way and am most productive in the wee hours.  Pay attention to whether or not you are looking at your child when he or she is speaking – it really does make a difference.  It helps, too, to acknowledge that you understood what your child said by saying something that indicates that you did.  We humans can sometimes do a miserable job of communicating because we forget about the basics.

Another way to build a child up is to let him participate in some decision-making within the family.  We recently sold two vehicles and purchased a new one.  Max’s dad takes two wheels to work everyday, usually on his bicycle.  Since we are homeschooling, we can manage well with one car as long as we communicate (bingo!  That word!) about the comings and goings of family members.  While researching the new vehicle, I told Max that his  input was very important.  We listened to his thoughts about each one we test drove.  Down to the final two candidates, it was Max who gave the thumbs down on one of them due to the cumbersome set up for the backseat.  Even though he grew tired of test driving this and that, I think he felt that if he had an important comment, we were listening, and he has a sense of ownership in the new vehicle.

We are about to embark on a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a week, just to see what’s going on up there.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Max has been doing some research using the Connect the Thoughts Mini Vacation Unit to help us determine what activities we are going to engage in while we are away.  Here’s a picture of the curriculum – it’s short and sweet and kind of fun:

This was $2.00 and is available in pdf format.  It’s an organized way to approach a family trip while letting the child have some say in the matter! 

Building a child up isn’t necessarily about oooing and ahhhing everytime he does something or draws something or plays a neat beat on the drums, even though that’s pretty cool when it happens!  I guess my job as a mom is to show him how to survive in the world as he grows up and in so doing, I must try to be real.  I must let him make mistakes.  I must encourage him without sounding ridiculous, because he’ll surely pick up on that.  Kids know when you are not being sincere.

Here’s the book I’m bringing with on vacation to read:

 It’s what’s on my mind at the moment.  What are some of your ideas for building a child up?  I’d like to hear them :).

Wet Chickens

This post has absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling – it’s an ‘outlier’ post!  I think it’s important to have the occasional outlier in everything that IS.  Take a look at the quilts the Amish construct – the women often place an ‘out-of-whack’ block in their quilts, and I think that’s cool.  Like there’s a little sense of humor that got sewn in to the making of that quilt.

So.  Yesterday we worked on the final stages of our chicken coop extravaganza.  It’s been eight weeks of digging, pounding, staining, painting, cutting – lots of ‘ing’ing going on.  The fenced run is done, so we finally reached the stage where we got to cut the hole in the coop to allow the chicks to come and go as they please.  No more carrying them back and forth!  Eleven chickens equals eleven trips back and forth; and mind you, some of those chickens are really hard to catch now that they have room to spread their wings.  Carrying two chickens at once doesn’t bode well for the handler, either.  I’ve tried it and have opted to concentrate on one bird at a time.  That little devil, Charlotte, is the hardest one to catch!  She and I eye each other warily whenever I am out in the yard; it’s like she knows.  The chicks are 8 weeks old today. 

The door was cut, but naturally, as with all projects that we’ve ever embarked upon, we were missing that ONE thing that would finish the task.  We need a hook and eye combo so that we can secure the door open during the day and shut at night to keep intruders out.  So, the door was left hanging in a semi-shut position until we could run to the Depot or Lowes and get that ONE thing.  My hubby and Max left mid afternoon to get Max to a friend’s house and right after they left, it started pouring.  The skies opened up with the kind of rain where you are completely soaked to the toes in 30 seconds.

The chickens!  I grabbed an umbrella (silly me, it didn’t come in handy) and ran down to the fenced yard.  Even though I had a tarped area set up that served as their temporary fence, the chickens were huddled in a group out in the open with necks stretched up, trying to determine exactly what the heck was happening.  They were frozen in place, and therefore fairly easy to grab, thank goodness.  Trying to grab a chicken one-handed while using the other hand to hold the umbrella proved stupid, so I tossed the umbrella.  Up until yesterday I’d had pretty good weather luck.  The skies are open enough so that you can see what’s coming; if it looked like rain, I’d go down and casually gather everybody up and stick them in the coop until the storm passed.  This one caught me by surprise.

Meanwhile, the sky above me was pretty active!  Flashes of lightning followed by the big SCUZZZWHACK! of thunder.  Right overhead.  The thought that I may not make it back into the house crossed my mind.  Lightning strikes in New Mexico are something to take seriously.  But my chickens were getting drenched!  As quickly as I could I took each chick and tossed her (gently) into the coop through the newly cut door opening.  They were clearly bugged about the whole being wet issue, not really understanding why they were so bugged.  Chickens, in case you haven’t heard, are really not very bright.  Maybe I’m not really very bright for having gone down there to rescue them in a lightning storm.

We have a very tiny chick named Lucy who has something called ‘runting and stunting syndrome’.  She is about half the size, maybe less, of the other chicks, even though she shares the same hatch date.  I believe it’s caused by an avian virus that affects food absorption and shows up in flocks now and then.  Her feathers have been slow to grow.  I couldn’t stand the sight of her huddled up and shivering, so I brought her in the house and used the blow dryer to warm her up.  She LOVED the experience – lifted up her little wings and waddled toward me for more.  It was very cute, and a little crazy on my part.

Later on I checked on everybody and the girls all sparkled!  Shiny, fluffy feathers after their unfortunate forced bath.  They all looked great.  And I lived to tell the tale. 

Guess where we’re off to today?  Lowes to get that hook and eye contraption to secure the door open.  I really do wonder, though, if they will have enough sense to go inside when the weather is bad?  Time will tell :).

Just another chicken experience with a happy ending.  Does anyone else out there have chickens?

Maybe Parents Should Just Say No

Just read a great post titled ‘Back to School Hell’ by a dad who is grappling with the whole supply lists that schools are handing out right about now.  He simply can’t believe how much stuff the schools are asking him to purchase so that his child can get educated within the system.  While reading his post, as humorous and as true as he nailed it, I had a thought.  Why don’t parents just say no to these lists?  Why don’t parents group together and demand that the public school system figure out a better way to manage the money that is given to it? 

I mentioned in a recent post that our neighborhood school erected a splashy new electronic sign out front to the tune of $25,000.  Schools all over Albuquerque are getting major face lifts, too – some serious architectural restructuring.  Not just paint and stucco.  The whole shebang.  Sure, it’s nice to have a nice building to look at and hang out in, but teachers are underpaid and parents are having to shell out lots of dollars to supply the classrooms with the BASICS.  Guess I’m feeling heated about this, huh? 

I’m wondering why parents are dutifully running to Target or Wal-Mart to purchase all of those supplies.  I’m wondering why I did it.  I did it bitterly, mind you.  The whole time I was walking those aisles I was grumbling to myself about this and that.  Maybe I should have just sat down to calmly write a letter to the school and school board and tell them that I flatly refuse to pay homage to the supply list.  I could write that letter now, but it wouldn’t hold any weight since we are homeschooling.  Missed opportunity!

Maybe parents do it because they think they have to?  Do they?  Does it have something to do with still needing to please an authority figure?  Is it fear-based – that somehow a child will get in trouble for not bringing in supplies?  I’m just trying to figure it out.  I saw umpteen sets of parents and children wandering those aisles at Target over the past several weeks.  Had I been in a different frame of mind, I would have interviewed them and asked them about their thoughts.

I’m just observing behaviors and wondering about them.  Why do we do the things we do?  Sometimes I think we need to break out of the mold and go our own way.  This might be one of those times.  We parents are good at saying no to other things (mostly things our children claim they can’t live without), so why can’t we say no to a school system?  What do you think?

More Bennies for Homeschoolers

There is a palpable buzz all around us right now; I feel like we are tucked safely and cozily into a nice comfy cocoon, getting to avoid most of the noise.  Kids up and down the street are being shuttled by their parents to stores for the annual back-to-school shopping extravaganza.  School supplies, school clothes, school lunch boxes, sleek folders, perforated notebooks, bottles of Elmers, packs of unsharpened pencils, boxes of Kleenex are all being piled high into shopping carts.  Parents are wandering the isles carrying the lists from their school districts that tell them what they need to buy, right down to the type of handi-wipes or hand sanitizer (which isn’t all that helpful, by the way – soap and water are more than adequate for killing germs) that the teachers appreciate.  Of course it’s always nice to find a little something extra special for the teacher like dry erase markers that fluoresce (do they make those?) or some other little nifty doo-dad that will hopefully put a smile on an educator’s face.  A dark chocolate bar would be a nice way to start the year, don’t you think?  The all-important backpacks!  New water bottles!  Not to mention all the new clothes, socks, shoes and underwear that will get the kids off on a fresh start into their new year.  I swear, two years ago, we went to school the first day with two grocery sacks loaded to the brim with supplies and I remember feeling a bit bitter about the whole ordeal, too.

Max and I stand on the fringes of all of this current hullabaloo and kind of happily ignore what is going on in that designated section of the store.  It all doesn’t apply and I’m blissful about not having to tote that list around and cross off items as they are found and plunked into the cart.  I also don’t have to feel angry that my school district cannot ‘afford’ basic supplies for the classroom, yet they can find the money to put up a fancy $25,000 electronic sign at our neighborhood elementary school and run it around the clock.  Ack – don’t mean to be negative, but that’s just stupid and wasteful.  The neighbors have filed a petition to make the school shut off the sign after 7 p.m. because it glares into people’s windows.  And does it really need to run all summer long?  I think the last thing kids want to see right after they get out of school for summer vacation is a flashing sign that says, “First Day of School August 16th!”  What a fun-breaker.

I’m not feeling rushed.  I’m not feeling a strain on the checkbook.  Max is not trying to adjust his sleep schedule to better fit the 7 a.m. craziness that would ensue if we had to get out of the house at 7:30 to make it to the school building on time (he attended a charter school about five miles away from our home prior to our homeschool adventure – we often took the scooter to school to try to conserve gas because it bugged me to take the car for such a short distance).  Ooo, that morning rig-a-ma-roll was not fun!  I am not having to psyche myself up again for PTA chaos, volunteer time in the classroom, those daily drives back and forth (sometimes several times in one day if I had meetings, which were most decidedly unproductive anyway and could have been conducted online or via well-written emails).  I don’t have to pack lunches and then forget them on the counter :).  That’s the best!  I tell you, all of that stress surrounding the entire school package added up and made a not-so-happy-mama which in turn affected our household and made everyone around here a little bit on edge.

I am, technically and according to categorical tables,  a stay-at-home mom, but I got very involved as a PTA president and then eventually transitioned onto the governing board of the charter school – many hours were consumed with details all in an effort to help the school and to supposedly make a difference for Max.  The irony was that as much as I wanted to help Max and his school, he was the one who had to deal with my absences and sometimes grumpy/exhausted demeanor – all because I thought I was putting my energy into the right stuff.  Not so.  Hindsight is a gift that we need to unwrap occasionally and examine!  Looking back at all of that craziness, it’s clear that my energy was inappropriately metered out and my family suffered because of it.  I paid a price, too.

Life is VASTLY different and better now that we homeschool!!!  Now the energy I invest is having a positive and direct impact on Max – it’s not deflected because of all of that administrative man-made gobbeldy gook that I used to float around in.  I feel like the energy I now expend is more in tune with my values and desires for our child.  It’s closer to the vest, so-to-speak.  This could not have worked out any better.

Moms up and down the street are rejoicing the onset of school – I can hear it in their voices and see it on their drawn faces.  They are tired.  One mom in particular I don’t think really enjoys her kids, at least that’s the impression I get.  She is always needing them to play with other kids, schedule activities out of the house, get them into summer programs – when I talk to her, she does not seem to be happy.  In fact, she’s kind of whiney.  I’m not her, her kids are not mine, her attitude is not mine, but I can’t help but think about the situation she has created for herself and the choices she is making.  Maybe, just maybe, the outcome could be different if she were to restructure the way they do things.  I don’t know – everyone’s different.  But unhappy people, as much as I don’t like to be around them too much, do make me think.  I’m not saying that I’m happy-go-lucky and giddy about life constantly, but I do feel a certain sense of peace and well-being inside that has had to be cultivated, kind of like my garden.  You plant things and then help them to grow – and that includes thoughts and actions.  All of this internal stuff needs to be nurtured for a bountiful outcome.  It’s a result of making conscious choices over time instead of blindly following the masses; getting down to the nitty-gritty and deciding how we wish to conduct our days.

I realize that homeschooling is not THE answer to happiness.  Of course it isn’t.  I’d be silly to presume that and tell everyone that it is.  Homeschooling is not a good fit for some families for a variety of reasons; sometimes it’s just completely unrealistic for finances or for family dynamics, although I do tend to think that it has the potential to help improve relationships in the family.  It’s one way of educating a child and it’s a choice.  For us, it’s a great fit and it has led to some marked changes in our lifestyle.

Yes, we are still paying taxes to benefit the public school system, but that’s about all I’m doing these days to ‘help’ the school.  I am so thankful that we homeschool.  We are excited about school starting this year, too, but for different reasons.  I am happy – to not be at Target shopping for school supplies for starters.  My happy list is extensive at this point; homeschooling has become a foundational piece in the contentment puzzle.  There are innumerable benefits to homeschooling, some of which are quite obvious, more of which are subtle and harmonious.  Here’s an older post about what we’ve seen in our family as a result of homeschooling.  It’s titled Why I Homeschool.

I look at Eggs Differently Now

This has been a crazy, wonderful, buzzing summer that is humming right along.  Not much formal homeschooling going on other than daily math lessons with Teaching Textbooks.  Since the homeschool tasks have been suspended, I most definitely have turned my attention elsewhere!  I can’t sit still and do nothing.  Something has to be turning in my mind at all times, or I feel lost and unproductive.

Hence, I’ve been out nursing a garden along, painting the barn, building a chicken coop, and nurturing eleven baby chicks through their first few weeks!  How fun is this!  This is great fun and I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.  Our city leaders see fit to allow up to fifteen chickens in a backyard; even a rooster is allowable provided Mr. Cluck doesn’t annoy the neighbors.  Already I’m watching the chicks for signs of rooster machismo and crossing my fingers that they are all hens.  There’s got to be one or two roosters in the bunch I figure, so we are trying not to get too attached (because the roosters aren’t staying). 

The chicks have been here almost two weeks – they arrived as day-old hatchlings from www.mypetchicken.com.  Their yolk sac sustains them for up to 48 hours post hatch so they can be shipped immediately as long as they are kept warm.  My Pet Chicken is one of the only places I am aware of that will ship fewer than twenty-five chicks at a time, which is great!  During cooler weather they put a special heating pack in the box with the chicks so they stay nice and toasty. 

So, Max and I have been learning the ropes about chickens in the hopes that we’ll have fresh eggs in the spring.  This isn’t formal homeschooling, but I do like that he gets to see where food comes from and what it takes to produce that food.  Right now he’s interested because the chicks are so darn cute!  We’ve named them all and are enjoying our time with them.  We did a little photo shoot last week, so here are a couple of the chicks:

This is Ethel, a white Silkie bantam chick about one week old

Tallulah, an Easter Egger

And Freckles, a bantam partridge Silkie

Crossing my fingers that everyone thrives!