o.k.. Jenny said I could play the blog thing.
I am just going to copy what she wrote about it…
Here’s how it works:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week… LOL… but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

What you do: Leave a comment here. The first three to say they are participating in paying it forward I’ll send a gift to. Then they go to their blog and have three friends sign up to participate. Everyone ends up with three cool gifts in exchange for their three they send out!

So…that sounds cool to me and I recently took part in a blog exchange on my cooking blog baking delights and it was really I am definitly up for more fun
I am just double checking with her to see how it works..I mean..she sends me ONE and I send out THREE..hmmmm…..I will update later…but leave your comments and the first 3 to comment on THIS blog entry will be the magic three.

Check this out!

This summer seems to be full of blog contests and giveaways. I don’t think I have ever seen so many!

blue thistle giveaway
Hallie, over at Confessions From the Rubber Room is having a giveaway to win something that ..well…you will LIKE it. If you win and DON’T like it you can send it to me. What a deal!

Check out the great post about creating lapbooks at Homeschooling Fun This is great! She even did a slide show for us visual types.. 😉

At Conquering Battles Daily Jeannie has posted her school schedule. I love reading other people’s schedules..A bit of a voyeur that way, I suppose. Anyway, especially if you are just starting hoemschooling it is a good way to get an idea of how to schedule.

I checked out Learning At the Pixilated Palace because I really liked the OLD Mr Deeds Goes to Town movie…which is where my kids learned the term pixilated…Now that term is used daily how could I resist the draw of another pixilated family?

Look at the Wordless Wednesday picture at Proud To Be Country It is too cute.

And..Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the Maytag Repair Man contest right here!

What About Socialization?

It happens to all of us. Sooner or later, if we are homeschooling we will:
A. Ask this
B. Answer this
C. Both
I mean, noone wants to have geeky , maladjusted kids…not even those of us that are geeky, maladjusted adults. 🙂
Exactly what are we refering to when we say those ominous syllables? To me, it means the ability to act appropriately in any given situation, according to age and maturity level. Add to that the ability to communicate on several levels, and the ability to connect with other people relationally and I think you have a pretty good definition.
The longer I homeschool the more odd I find this question to be. Surely we can see from the nightly news that being educated in a classroom situation does not guarantee socialization?
Socialization is not something that is taught but rather something that is instilled. Our children are socialized be being exposed to many types of people, many types of situations, and many types of circumstances. They are socialized by seeing us bake cookies for the new neighbors and deliver them, by watching as we help someone fix a flat tire, as they participate in prayer for others in need. The are socialized as they learn that other people have feelings, needs, hopes, dreams and desires and that all people are valuable.
I am not sure that a classroom situation achieves that. “But,” you say, “they learn to work in a group!”
True enough, however, children will learn to work in a group in other ways. At home they learn cooperative skills by working with parents and siblings, playing games, being part of what is happening. They learn by being around neighbors and friends. An only child that lives in an isolated area might have more of a challenge in learning these skills but a homeschool group, a sunday school class or some other activity will easily fill in the gaps.
The Bible says that “bad company corrupts good character”. Children do not tend to raise others up, but to emulate the worst behavior of those around them. Being in a group of 25 six year olds tends to amplify the six year old nature rather than teach good social skills!
The next time someone asks about socialization, smile sweetly and ask them to define socialization. You will find that it tends to be a smug catch all question aimed more at undermining your confidence in your decision to homeschool than getting factual information. Not always, but often.
And now for somethign completely different…. I found this at Eclectic Education. I really liked this blog! Especially the video !

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

and check out the food at this homeschool family’s outing..LOL!
At Home With Jesus

don’t forget to comment for the Maytag repairman contest

Up Close and Personal with Escargot

Odd title, huh? I love nature notebooks and the IDEA of nature notebooks. Computers, digital cameras and blogs make it so easy, too!
Generally one of the kids will find something and bring it in asking me to take photos, or a series of pictures..and today, shortly after some unseasonal rain (I am in Texas, it does NOT rain in the summertime) Shiloh brought in this-
It was odd to me because I had never seen one so before!
We watched for close to 30 minutes while the snail, whom we dubbed, Escargot explored Shiloh’s fingers and then her leg…
snail 4
snail 5

We talked about the shell, how it might have gotten cracked. We discussed the way a snail moves, and the slime it leaves behind. We did even discuss the dubious culinary delight entitled escargot…
We are going to look up reproduction and diet of snails tomorrow..It reminded me again that our kids learn more than we think just by observation. These moments count…and we never even opened a book.
Adding to this I can have her sketch a snail, diagram the digestive system and even print out a page with the picture on it and have her write a short summary of what she learned. THAT is real life learning!

Always Looking Ahead

I snagged this off my daughter’s myspace this morning. It is a picture of my 5 yr old granddaughter, Amanda. They moved to Pennsylvania almost two years ago and I have not seen either of my grandchildren in almost a year. That has been really hard and even writing the words brings tears to my eyes..Must be hormones.
Anyway, I love this picture for several reasons. First, of course, because of the subject. This is proof to me that life is a horizon…there is a future. This is my connection to the future even more than my children. Second, I love the fact that my daughter, Erin, is so incredibly talented with a camera. She won a couple of photography awards in our homeschool group and she has really taken some amazing pictures..she has taught me alot! Third, I love this picture because of what it represents.
Always look ahead. There is always something new and cool on the horizon. There is always something to learn, to hope for, to live for. Look at the expression on her face! Hope, joy, fascination, LIFE!
I have been getting bogged down with life these days. It has been a month from Hell, literally, with no end in sight. My faith is definitely being tested and I will admit to more than my share of tears and a few fleeting thoughts of hopelessness. And then I see a picture like this and out of Heaven I suddenly am encouraged, flooded with the knowledge that this situation has come to pass! It won’t last forever.
We who homeschool sometimes lose sight of the big picture. We forget why we are doing what we are doing, we lose the ability to look up. Or maybe we just forget how. We become overwhelmed by circumstances and life-clutter and bowed down under the weight of things we were never meant to carry. I am there today, are you?
I wonder if the problem isn’t that we try so hard to pretend that nothing is different, that nothing is wrong? Instead of saying, ” my life is out of control right now, we are taking a break from school” we seem, I seem, to try harder to get more accomplished and prove to ourselves that no matter what we feel like we are going to “Git ‘er DONE”.
This is how we burn out, you know. This is how we fail. It all becomes work, drudgery, driven. We pass our bad attitudes on to our kids. And pretty soont he snowball effect has happened and everyone is slogging through, waist deep in the slough of despond.
I said last week that I had a small lump that showed up in my mammogram but I failed to say that they messed up my sonogram scheduling and it will be Sept 25 before they look at it more closely. I forgot to say that I am worried, scared, tense. I forgot to say that I am having a hard time not wondering why everything is hitting at once. And in all of that I didn’t say that I sometimes wonder what lies ahead for us.
And I forget to look up.
Amanda is looking up. I hope she always does.

Hey don’t forget to enter a comment for the Maytag Repair Man contest. 🙂

I Feel Like the Maytag Repair Man

maytag repair man you remember that commercial? I do. The poor guy was all alone, day after day at his office, presumeably because the Maytag appliances were so well made.
Well..I am starting to feel like I am talking to myself. I even posted this very cute picture of my horses…

So…here is the thing. I admit it. I am peer oriented. I like comments. I like attention. I like a book called 365 Days of Celebration & Praise
365 days of celebration and praise
You can check out all about the book at amazon
365 days, one full year of ideas and information and crafts and activities for each and every day. How cool is that?
And it can be yours. Yep. All your own. Your PRECIOUS. But there is a catch. You have to comment. Easy? You would think, wouldn’t you? But no…It can’t be like, “Gee, Marye, I love your hair..” Oh No.
You need to:
1. leave the url to your blog or website.
2. leave the url to your favorite homeschooling blog besides this of course
3. tell why you like to read homeschool blogs.
and…there has to be at least 10 different comments. So tell your friends. In fact there will be a second prize that you DO have some control over. For each person that also adds to the comment that YOU sent them you will recieve 1 point. And the person with the most referals gets a $10 gift certificate to amazon.
Let’s say this will end at midnight August 3..Friday. ANd I will have my totally unbiased helper, Kyrie, choose the number of the winning comment.

Ready? Set? Go.

Since we are talking about books…

Jodi over atOrganized Chaos is having a blog contest…she is doing a cool book giveaway IF you write about your favorite childhood book…What a great idea! Go over and check it out…WAIT! NO! Don’t! I don’t need the competiton… :/
I read so much as a kid it wasn’t funny. Basicially it was because we moved alot and I was shy and always seemed to find the library a comforting place!
My favorite had to be Anne Of Green Gables. My fifth grade teacher read it outloud and then I immediatly went and bought the book..and read it again and again…and THEN I discovered that, O the JOY!, there were more!
I spent the whole summer between fifth and sixth grade in Avonlea..making a cake with Anne and accidently putting linement in instead of vanilla…being furious at Gilbert for his comment ,“Carrots!”..Crying when Matthew died..And then discovering Miss Lavendar, Windy Poplars, The House of Dreams….
By the end of the summer I was well versed in everything about Anne…and I read them all again yearly…
ahem…and I still do!

Summer Reading

elementary reading
This summer my 8 year old, Sean, has discovered reading.
Last year at this time he was struggling to get through the phonics program we use, which is the ONLY Abeka thing I use..I think it is called the Abaka Handbook For Reading? Anyway that seems to be the easiest, simpliest way for my kids to learn reading. I have tried Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons and I went back to the Abeka book. My friends were amazed because I am an avidly anti-Abeka..
Anyway, this summer Sean has jumped from One Fish, Two Fish to Frog and Toad and now has discovered The Boxcar Children. He is reading them at the rate of about 1 every 2 days or so and I can’t keep up..we are no running to the library nearly every day.
I think it is odd that kids are so different. Some of mine have been voracious readers, others on the reluctant side. I can’t see too much of a difference in how they were taught or encouraged but I have picked up on a few things.
I think that with my older 2 kids I read aloud TOO much and too many years. They were still sitting down to listen to me read aloud when they were in their late teens. I think that if I had been more sporadic they would have been forced to read for themselves. The other thing I have learned is that my kids MAY have different interests than I do! Yes! It’s TRUE! I love Louisa May Alcott and always thought my daughters would as well…My oldest read alot of Janette Oake and Shiloh (12) read her way through Nancy Drew and moved on to The Hardy Boys. She loves mysteries. By the way, if you get these books you need to know that the vointage hardcovers published before 1960 are different than the books (hardcover or otherwise) published or republished AFTER 1960. They updated the characters quite a bit and made them more *real* according to society. Shiloh and I prefer the vintage Nancy Drew books and grab them when ever we see them. I was lucky and got 25 of them for 45.00…
The other thing that encourages reading is having lots of books sitting around and nothing to do. 🙂 Boredom is a good thing.
Currently my kids are reading:
Matt (15) Walden, Civil Disobedience by Thoreau
Ethan(13) G.A. Henty ..not sure which he is on, he devours them.
Shiloh (11) Hardy Boys, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet by L’Engle
Sean (8) Boxcar Children

The other two are not reading yet. Nick (7) is checking out lots of books on fish and aquariums and drawing alot of pictures from them and Kyrie just likes books in general.
Some of my favorite read alouds:

My Side of the Mountain
Charlottes Web
By Wagon and Flatboat (out of print but great)
The Little House Books
Mrs Pigglewiggle (you must read this..really)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (I only read the first one..they are on their own after that!)
The Wind and the Willows
There are a ton more but these everyone in our house enjoys and they are a good start.
Rather than sitting down to watch a movie for family night try reading aloud. 🙂

I found this site with helpful information on reading, and a couple of blogs that look really informative! I always like new ideas for books.
Reading Rockets

Vintage Childens’ Records

When I was a kid way back in the 60’s it was fun, especially on a rainy day, to listen to one of the story records that I owned. These were 33’s and had stories read by various people, with sound effects and music. I think that they entertained me for hours! My favorite was Swiss Family Robinson.
Well, you can entertain your kids with these vintage stories for free at Kiddie Records Weekly
Every week they release a new record that you can download or listen to by audio stream. Not just stories but wholesome, FUN stories that my kids really gather around the computer to listen to and many times there are pictures to go with them. Bozo At the Circus, Mr. Ed, Casey At the Bat, The Ugly Duckling, Even Swan Lake!
And if that doesn’t get you interested listen to this! For August I see that they have HMS Pinafore, AND the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan scheduled for release! I LOVE Gilbert and Sullivan operas and really enjoy sharing them with my kids. They are a great way to introduce kids to opera because the stories are humorous and easy to follow and the music is catchy.
I love resources like this because it helps me to enrich the kids’ lives without costing me money..and THAT my friends is a win win situation!

Charlotte Mason

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Charlotte Mason was a female educator that lived during the late victorian era. She started a school in England called, Ambleside that was very popular in her day. Her methods and ideas about educating children were insightful and thought provoking and they still are! ..and if you have not heard of her you haven’t been homeschooling long.
Basically she believed that children learn best for short periods of rather than 6 hour long subjects Charlotte Mason would schedule 15-20 minute study periods, focusing on 3 perfect answers rather than a page with 15 right and 5 wrong. If you have not looked into her ideas and methods I really suggest that you do. Implementing things into my own eclectic melange of academia has been at the worst helpful and at best life changing.
There are several companies that are following the Charlotte Mason methods if you are interested in her philosophy, Sonlight being one of the forerunners. The have full curriculum based on a 4 or 5 day week and teacher’s notes so that everything, every bit of planning is done for you and you need only follow their directions. There is alot of reading involved, both for the student and teacher so this is not for the reluctant reader. The packages are expensive, altho reasonable for what you get, and run upwards of 300.00 per grade per year. Everything is useable for subsequent students though, and it does resell well on ebay.
If you are more interested in doing your own thing and saving money then Ambleside Online may be just what you are looking for. They have a complete list of books and schedule for every year…Just Print it off and go..They also have links to other sites where you can read many of the books for free online or print them out (also for free). Over the years this has been a resource that I use again and again. There are links, articles and lots of information…Plan on spending some time there!
There are many bloggers out there that are discussing all the ins and outs of following this method..
Home Sweet Homeschool

and Penny Gardner has some great reviews on different books that can be used with this curriculum…I am definitly making a list!