Monthly Archives: May 2012

summer, summer, summer

Summer, summer, summer.  Public schools are getting out for the summer, pools are opening and parks are getting full.  No longer can you assume the family at the park at 10 am is a fellow homeschooler; and now the school playgrounds are fair game.  Now is the time of year when the discussions among home school families start talking about “do you school all year or will you take a break?”

I’ll be honest, this is our first official “summer” and I feel our plans changing under my feet.  I had planned (ah the best laid plans of mice and men…) to school this year from Aug 1 to June 1 having all June and July off before starting up again in Aug 2012.  Well, then life happened.  Isn’t that always the case?

Daddy got as job transfer; so our family will be moving either the last week of August or the middle of November.  So if we move the last week of August, there is no way school is starting August 1.  If we move in November school in August, September is going to be ok, but then you have to think of the time off in October and November.  So the move is going to effect when we get to the table and really dig into our school work.

Beyond that, I find that I don’t want us to stop. I really enjoy our homeschooling, and rather than stopping I find myself wanting to challenge Big Brother all the more and actually start pushing him as we move into solidly First Grade level work.  Big Brother is really an emergent reader and we need to keep reading every day (I should not that most people I know that take summers off, public school families too, usually do reading and math daily all summer too) if anything we need to read more, not less; and we are just mastering math facts (addition) and that can’t be left for very long.  Ok so we are doing reading and math most every day all summer.  Big Brother really enjoys history so there is no reason to stop THAT; read-a-louds and hands on activites.  His handwriting really needs more mastery, so we can’t just take 8 weeks off from THAT either.  We do memory work and Bible work all the time as an element of our family’s faith as much as we do it “for school”.  Pretty soon the question becomes apparent: what, really, are we NOT doing all summer.  Grammar, so far, Grammar is the only subject that has been tabled for the “summer”.  Also the structure is good for us.  Even if we do not get to the table everyday because of other commitments; on days we are home having that activity on the list really helps fill the day and keep things “normal” for the boys.

Granted we will have a lot of summer activities going on : VBS (2 of them), pool family pass, zoo family pass, various park days and play date get together that we are part of, nature club, and nature play dates.  Thus, we won’t be doing 2 to 3 hours of table time each day like I strive for “school year”; but I really think we can honestly say we are schooling all summer.  Again, not leaving off the books I feel is a good thing for the boys, keep them in the habit; help them keep moving forward so we do not have to repeat a lot of material in the fall.  Also we’ll be adding more art, especially messy art that can (should) be done outside, and more science labs and hands on “play”.

Summer Activities:  (see more here)

  • VBS:  the boys are going to two VBSs this summer; one that is at the church we currently attend and a second one that is in the small town right by us.  They are back to back weeks in June; I’d love to find a VBS for them in July.  Might have to look into that.
  • Pool:  we’ll be getting a family pool pass again.  Zero entry, and a cool slide in the kids section keeps us happy for hours.
  • Zoo:  we have a family pass again this year, if momma gets it together maybe we’ll do a bit more talking and thinking about the qualities of the animals and their environments and not just look at them and giggle.  The zoo is a bit of a drive, but done right I think we can get there once a week.
  • HEED Club:
  • Nature Scape Play Dates: 
  • Little Ninjas:  for Big Brother goes all summer, and if we do not move till Nov he’ll take the fall session also.  Once we move I think I will try to enroll him in a more ‘real’ martial arts program, but this kids program is great and I am seeing improvement in his body control.

On Going School:

  • Phonics: We are one Exploring the Code book 1.5; and I hope to have book 2 done or mostly done by the end of the summer.
  • Math: MATH FACTS – we are drilling, and practicing, and learning all the addition math facts up to 10+10.
  • History: studying the ancients with Story of the World Vol 1 both the text and the activity guide.  Bibloplan year one; and also the reading list and activity suggestions at GuestHollow.  YES that is THREE resources I am pulling our history work from.  It is amazing; with 3 books lists to pull from I am finding things that we can get from inter-library-loan and also things that catch the boys intrest and are on their level.  It is more work for momma, but makes things more complete for Big Brother without creating more work for him.
  • Social Studies:  we are starting with Vikings and their discovery of “America” after that we will be looking at the native population, then start with the earliest colonies (Jamestown, Roanoke); that should take all summer.  We are using Truthqest for our book list and a lot of ‘Net research on the part of momma.
  • MORE ART (check out some of my ideas here)
  • MORE Science

So I guess, though it is not what I planned, nor what I expected: we school year around (with limited changes for the summer).  Gee I did not think that was going to be my answer!


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Nature Club

Today was the monthly Nature Club at Brenton Arboretum.  We saw many families we knew there and the kids had a great time tearing apart an old log and exploring.  Our next day at the Arboretum will be Play Date.  After the guided hike the kids all played on the nature-scape playground.



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Mrs Doyle Little Brother’s Pre-school teacher for the last 2 years.

Jester Park the water feature…

and some playmates

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When I was younger (a  lot) a freind of my mom’s gave her an idea for a bookworm (Thanks Karen).  It is a simple idea and simple to implment too.  You build a catipiller from circles of construction paper then youi log your books, one book per body segement and thus “grow your catipiller” by reading more.  The lady that suggested this to mom had more than one child, thus the inherent compention angle covered.   While my boys would love to compete in any way they can; neither is reading independently.  So I thought it would be cool to have a family caterpillar for our read-a-louds; our chapter books.

I hoope it will be nice for the kids to look back on — I think when they are older maybe I have them write a comment or rating of the book on the body segement too; i made it kinda of big for that reason.  We’ll also have to name him / her at some point.

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Moving up to a TAN Belt

Tonight Big Brother tested for the 2nd time in his Little Ninja class at the YMCA.  They have their own belt systems and strive to have the kids (4 to 6) ready to enter a standard class for their white belt (real) by the time they finish the program.  For their tests they break a broad with hand and with foot.  The kids are always amazed when they accomplish it.

Here he is actually breaking the boards.  One with a kick and the other with a palm hand.

Getting his new belt.

Daddy took the photos tonight and I had a very challengeing time choosing which ones to share here; i have at least twice as many great ones I did not share.

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A Galley of Big Brother’s Art from his Kindy art class

He loved art this year (duel enrolled with the Kindy class at the local elementry). He went to art (and PE) with the class he’d have been in if he was not homeschooled. They had art once a week; Big only went second semester. He loved his teacher, and she was really responsives to him. she always took time to really talk to him and she took a genuien intrest in the art he brought in to show her.

But as much as Big really did like that class and seemed to do a great job. i am kinda netural on the whole thing. I am very glad he had fun, and i am very glad he was excited to go each week. I am very glad see too the time to talk to him, and to look at his art and to engage him. She is a great “relationship” teacher and he bonded with her and looked forward to calss and talked a lot of what they did in class.

Nevertheless; the projects do not amaze me. frankly the projects that i could have done with them, all paint and a little glue. he also brough home a number of marker drawings from “free draw time”. again, he has free access to crayone and markers here. So I am coming away with the feeling he did not expereince anything in his school art class that he has not expereinced here with me.

I work really hard to try new things. I was just dissapointed that he didn’t have any new art expereinces in the school class.

I believe they spent 2 weeks on the Kite.  I know they made smaller practice kites with crayons to design before getting to the paint.

this is 2 layers, the frog was painted and cut out and glues on to the background.

this fish took 2 weeks (more?) the drew the entire piece in crayons then painted with water color.

this projects was 2 weeks also, the drawing that is, the lady bug is a project Little Brother brought home (the wings move)

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A Police Display

today the local police department held its annual Court Avenue bridge display from 8 a.m. to noon. It included police vehicles, the mounted patrol, police canines, the bomb squad, Metro STAR equipment and hospital helicopters. Officers, reserve officers, civilian employees and members of the Community Ambassadors Program were also on hand, as was Mr McGruff the Crime Dog himself.

Daddy tool the boys and they had a great time, and they really seems to paying attention too.   Little Brother wants to be a police officer when he grows up, so he was super excited.

Little Bother drives the SWAT truck.

Check out the crowd behind them for farmers’  marker downtown.  a huge deal locally.

I love this picture.  I made it my desk top.

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Sad for the unborn

Looking forward to November makes me very sad.  Life is the very foundation of the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution (Life,Libertyand the pursuit of happiness).  This November when the candidates square off for the right to be the leader of this great nation for the next four year; there will be no on standing up for life.  How sad is that for this Great Nation, when no one seeking her highest elected office is protecting her children.

That president Obama is clearly pro-abortion is nothing new; we all remember his impertinent remark in the last set of Presidential Debates when asked “when does life begin” that “oh that is above my pay grade, I can’t answer that”.  What he hoped would sound causal and deflect the question merely shone bright as a clear indication of his lack of respect for the unborn.

Given Mitt Romney’s recent $50,000-a-plate fundraiser  at the home of Phil Frost we realize that he is not a supporter of the basic right to life either.  Frost is a man that makes on his money by selling death; and Mitt not only associates with him; he is happy to take his money.  Frost is the executive of Teva Pharmaceuticals that makes the Morning After Pill.  Apparently Mitt has no problem accepting money ‘earned’ for the death of children – blood money if there ever way.  So sadly he not only NOT protecting the unborn, but willing to share in the profits gain from their murders.

It is heart breaking and reprehensible that the unborn of this nation will have no one willing to stand for them in November; what a commentary on where this nation is headed.


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Obedience is NOT a bad word

Obedience is NOT a bad word.  I know this goes against all the AP mothering out there and I may be asked to turn in my Militant Mothers of America membership card.  BUT there is nothing wrong with expecting your child (especially at 4, 6, 9) to JUST DO WHAT YOU SAY.

I fight this issue CONSTANTLY with mine, and maybe that is what it rubs me raw these days.  My boys are not instantly obedient, heck give them 5 minutes and they might get back to you; but this is something I continually am addressing.  I do not have this parenting challenge down, and it is a real struggle for me (for us I guess, the boys have ownership of this too).

All the good, gentle / positive discipline AP moms will tell you either 1. that a truly attached child WANTS to make momma happy and thus will do as you ask cheerfully because of your relationship (implication being, that is your child is not jumping to please you by complying with your every glance, there is a problem with the relationship, thus you as the parent) or 2.  that you should never stifle a child and they must be allowed to grow and flower without restraint (implication being you are an ogre if you want a child to stop their flight of fancy and pick up the shoe you just tripped over for the 5th time).

My parenting job is tough, not as tough as some that I know personally, but certainly more challenging than a lot.  I love my boys, but God has too much faith in me and my boys are not by any means easy.  I love them, but if I had a nickel for each time I hear “you got your hands full”.  I’d be able to buy every book I have every wanted and then some.

I will be painfully honest.  I am tired.  I am just flat out tired of every single thing that comes out of my mouth being met with 1. argument, 2. question or 3 counter offer or some great and frequently unique combination of all three.  To quote Nike: JUST DO IT.

Mine don’t just do it — but I wish they would, I strive for a day when they will; and I am not a bad mom for saying that.

If I see a creepy man at the park and say “time to go” I’d LIKE to see 2 boys run to the car.  If I see a car I do not know coming up our driveway and I say “in the house” I’d love to see 2 little boys run in the house.  I fear the day there is a stranger at the door, I say “go to momma’s room now” and I get whines and fits and stomped feet and carrying on.

I do not think I need to explain 20x a day why I ask for the water bottle to be sat up, why I tell them to watch their fingers at the door, why I tell them to not put their shoes in the middle of the kitchen.  I do not think “pick up your army men” required a 20 minute dissertation on why it is a good idea — JUST DO IT. “Do not touch that” doesn’t need a reason, it needs compliance.

The fact is, one day obeying momma or not obeying momma could effect their very safety.

Parenting is hard enough with out each and every thing you say becoming a matter of debate and long winded argument.  I miss the non-verbal

The sad fact is, in reality there are relationships where one has the power and the other does not; this is a reality of life.  Sometimes you just shut up and do it; you accept that the person you are dealing with doesn’t HAVE to tell you everything nor explain in great detail their reasoning.  You do not have to be persuaded, you do not always have to agree.  A law enforcement officers tells you what to do, you do it; your boss tells you what to do, you do it…. Mom tells you what to do — you DO IT.

Tonight I explained at length that we were getting home late because I had to take Little Brother to urgent care (he fell at the park and cut his chin, tore it up pretty bad), and when we got home to go sit on the sofa while I unloaded the car and let the dog out.  I even told them to put on a TV show and sit there and wait for me.  We walk in, I, in a cheerful tone, say “shoes off and get on the sofa please” and am met with a “I want to play computer games, I didn’t play this Moring and we have been gone all day, why do I have to sit he is the one hurt” —- for the love of pete is it THAT hard just to do what your mom says?

I do know more than my 6 year old; I do not think he really believes that but it is true.  I have my reasons, I am not known for my random behavior nor are mental health professionals generally concerned about my ability to think and act rationally; no matter how much my sons question it.  Sometime I do not want to shout out across the park just WHY I want them to come over to me.  Sometimes I need them to obey now (usually I need them to obey now) and would be glad to explain my reasoning AFTER they are away from the strange car, after they are not standing in the middle of a parking lot with a car flying at them, after they have moved away from the drop off into the pond and so on.

I continue striving for ‘obey me now, then we talk’ (and guess what then you get to have a conservation with a much happier momma who is much much more willing to reach an agreement, consider a compromise or agree to your request); I continue on the path – but I maintain, and I tell my kids, obedience is not a bad word.


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Scheduling the summer

So I live by my day-timer and love it; I got hooked in high school debate and have had one ever since; and interestingly mine is as full now as it was when I worked in the city / county Emergency Management Office.  However, I also like, for busy times, to make a visual “traditional” calendar where you can see many weeks at a time.  I usually do Halloween though Jan 1 as one and I do summer (now to the first week in September).  Ok, it is not all one page, it is 4 pages, but it is more ‘big picture” than my day timer.

I just make a simply table on Word; 7 columns and many many rows; then I make it a calendar – with date and print it.  Then come the fun part filling it in.

What I have done this year is used RED ink for things I am “part of” like the Park Day that I am trying to get off the ground and for now am the “planner”.  Red days are mandatory (or mostly, they are a commitment I have made).  Next I used BLUE ink for things I fully plan for us to be at.  In this category we have the Play Dates at Brenton Arboretum.  We’ll be able to make Play Date (3 pm to 4:30 pm) twice, we have a conflict the other Wednesday  and also the HEED Nature club the boys have been attending on and off  (same location).  We should be able to make the Nature Club (Heed Club) each time it meets; see why I say we do not stop schooling for the summer.  Since these are programs that we are already enrolled in I put a RED star by them (red denoting commitment).  As the opportunity for other park days, with other groups, present them selves I will be write them in either in blue as something I really want to make (based on the people) or in pencil as an option for us.

Also in red are all the Little Ninja classes for Big Brother (since we are already enrolled) and the last few tumbling classes for Little Brother.  The YMCA programs change over the summer, going to a day or week camp style, and not a weekly class like Little Brother has been in (tumbling) so he won’t be taking any summer classes.  Big Brother’s taekwondo runs all summer long, Monday nights, like it has been.

I contacted the three local churches we have ties to (One we attend, one that hosted Awanas the kids went to, and one that is local and host a big VBS each summer) and requested the dates of their VBS programs for this summer. These I have put down in pencil (as an option) and will change to red after we enroll – since these are multi-day programs I drew a line across all the days in the program.

Then I started searching all the local parks and rec departments and the local Y and so on for other activities I do not want to miss out on (see list below).  These I have written in pencil showing that they are happening on a certain day and time, as an option for us; but that we are not committed to them.  Two of these are:  Story Time atRaccoon RiverParkand Raccoon River Playground Playtime (including a snack and a craft time).  I have fewer options than some families might, I want things the boys can do together – so I am looking for a pre-school / school age options; and most programs split the boys being designed for 3 to 5, and 5 to 7 or 6 to 8.  The boys are 4 and 6 and I know to keep them together in our activities to make momma’s life easier and avoid any more hurt feelings than we already have about things the other is not part of.

Finally as I know of our travels, or visits from family and friends they will be added to the calendar in highlighter over the days of the visit.

This gives me a nice visual; over looking more than just the one week at a time my beloved day timer allows.


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