Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ready to Finish Strong

I just finished preparing lesson plans for the last six weeks of school before summer break begins. According to my original plan, we were to school for 40 weeks but I think there is just too much public school left in me. Two-thirds of my life has been spent in a traditional educational setting: thirteen years as a student, four years of college and seven years as a ps teacher. As a result, this time of the year I get the itch for a time of rest. I am ready to spend lots of time at the beach (only 30 minutes from our house), get my yearly deep cleaning and organizing done, read few good books and start planning for next year. I want to sleep in, read a million books to my boys, wrestle and do all the messy things we never have time to do during the school year - Moon Sand, painting, Playdough (gluten-free, of course ;) and so much more.

All that to say, I condensed our last ten weeks of school into six! I am re-energized to finish strong, and it feels great. Ultimately I want to move towards more of a year-round model. I would love to school for 40 weeks, taking six weeks off during the summer, a week off at Thanksgiving, three weeks at Christmas, a week off for Spring Break and a one week fall break as well. Maybe it will happen next year! I am thrilled with the year we've had so far and am thankful it is drawing to a close. My next post will be a very over-due weekly report - more like a quarterly report, I guess.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Christian Liberty Nature Readers

I purchased this series of books back in the summer after I heard it recommended again and again on the message board I frequent. They were then put on a shelf not to see the light of day...until just a few weeks ago.

I have mentioned before that I want to learn more about Charlotte Mason's theories on education, and in fact I have spent much time over at the Ambleside website reading summaries of her philosophies. The first thing that interested me in a CM style education is her emphasis on children learning from God's creation - a child's own natural surroundings. There is so much more to her ideas but that was the initial draw. At the Ambleside site you can read her writings in their original form, in modern English or condensed. Take a look if you are interested.

Okay, that was a digression. The main thing I wanted to share in that nature vein is that Thatcher and I have really enjoyed reading Book 1 of our Christian Liberty Nature Reader. We are half-way through and we've learned a ton already. Information is shared about Gods creatures: insects and animals in an informative but easy to understand way for young readers. We've already learned about bees, ants, mosquitoes (ick!) and several other critters. Thatch looks forward to reading and learning more each day!

Also, if you are interested in incorporating more natural studies into your homeschool endeavors, take a look at Barb's Green Hour Challenge at her blog, The Heart of Harmony. We've not officially started working through her weekly assignments but we plan to start later this summer or in the early fall. They are wonderful though and I am so thankful for homeschool moms like her who are so very willing to share their expertise!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What a great weekend!

Guess what? I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Darcy from Life with my 3 Boybarians! Here's how it happened...

I was planning a weekend get-a-way to do some scrapbooking and get some much needed R&R. I asked a few other homeschool blogger friends whom I've yet to meet IRL if they would like to fly to Texas and join me - never thinking in a million years that anyone would really be able to do it. It was just a dream. :)

But guess what, Darcy could!!! So this past Thursday I went to pick her up at the airport and we spent the entire weekend at a friend's lake house. It was wonderful! If you've ever read Darcy's blog you already know she is a complete hoot. In person she is even more wonderful than her blog depicts. She is witty, kind, thoughtful, a great conversationalist and an even better listener (she had to be with all my non-stop chatting!). We talked and talked and talked some more. We scrapped a little here and there, too.

Thanks Darcy for coming to my neck of the woods and putting up with me for three whole days! Thanks also to my wonderful dh and Darcy's Handy Man for watching our collective six boys so we could have a weekend off. I am already looking forward to doing it again and dragging more of our homeschool partners in crime to Texas next spring! :)

Here's a photo we took with Darcy, me and one of her good friends, Jaclyn. Jaclyn and I only live about 30 minutes apart in the fourth largest city in the nation (Insert Disney song, "It's a small world after all! It's a small world after all!....) She and her family drove up to spend the afternoon with Darcy and I was the lucky recipient of some great fellowship,too. If you want to see some of the cutest kids ever, pop over to her blog, Our Phamily Tree, and take a look! Jaclyn, it was wonderful to meet you.

What an amazing place the internet is! If someone would have told me a year ago that I would spend a weekend with someone I had only met in cyber-space I might have told them they were crazy! I am so thankful I was wrong about that one. :)

Want to know one more thing I was wrong about? Well I am going to tell you anyway. ;) Peanut butter really can be that good! Ever since I read Darcy's PB Loco post I have been skeptical that any peanut butter can be that tasty. Trust me, it is! Thanks Darcy for starting my new addiction. I am sucking on a spoonful of the yummy stuff right now as I type this.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today is World Autism Day

10 years ago: 1 in 10,000
5 years ago: 1 in 1,000
Today: 1 in 150
Got your attention?

Many people have a cause which is close to their hearts. I'm no exception. Thatcher is on the Autism Spectrum. He has not yet officially been diagnosed with Asperger's (our suspicion) but he has been diagnosed with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, both of which are considered Spectrum Disorders. I wanted to throw my hat in the national ring on World Autism Day reminding people this is a real issue for many families (1.5 million Americans have some form of autism). In fact, the entire month of April is given to Autism awareness, and I placed a button on my sidebar for the month in honor of that fact. Many businesses and corporations are joining the emphasis, and CNN will be highlighting stories about autism on both television and internet the entire week.

For more info on this condition and the issues surrounding it click here or watch this brief video (it's worth the 2 minutes and 32 seconds, I promise!).

I can't vouch for HBO's part in this with their showing of "Autism: The Musical" (because I haven't seen it) but it looks like it might be worth watching as well.

It's good to be back blogging. I'll post more soon!