Monday, September 29, 2008

First Blip

Today was interesting. After being so schedule-oriented the last few weeks, I thought I would be more upset when things came undone. Perhaps I was waiting for the first hiccup.

Today I met with a lady who may be interested in teaching a few homeschoolers some French. I can't believe how nervous I was to 'interview' someone. You'd never guess I used to hire people with regularity. I have some logistics to work out before anything official in the way of French Lessons develop, but it was a start for sure.

Otherwise, here's how our day unfolded: B was up and out early on to head 'up North' for a work meeting. It was garbage day, so I cleaned out the leftovers and got that to the curb in time. The kids slept in a bit - even R who was up at 7 but then went back to bed - until I woke them at 8:30. After a quick breakfast, we did our morning chores and the daily housework. I started laundry and then promptly forgot about it for the rest of the day. At 10, another homeschooling mom and I met with the potential French teacher here at the house. After our meeting, the kids emerged and we prepped a bit of schoolwork before lunch. R bolted through a couple of pages of handwriting practice while I pulled out an ancient edition of Trivial Pursuit. My 'checking for pieces' turned into an hour-and-a-half game. I can't recall the last time K actually sat and played a board game with anyone. We talked about making a game to go with the Trivial Pursuit to participate in a Geography Game Project being spearheaded by another homeschooling mom.

Lunch was a quick pan of ham and eggs. K and I cleaned up. R packed the skating bag. We walked over to the rink and met friends for an hour of skating. Today the kids played with mini-sticks on the ice which was a nice change for them. Technically, we skate during 'Parent and Tot' time and no sticks are allowed on the ice. However, the rink staff are happy to give us a bit of breathing room. I think they're just happy that some people are attending the day-time skating session.

After walking home, we discovered that B was home from work. Our plan had been to hit the books for a couple of hours after skating. R had a stomach ache and went to his room. K curled up with a book. So B and I caught up and hung out for an hour. I made a hot drink and read a bit while the kids continued to hang out and get their own things done. Dinner was late - 7:30. B and I cleaned up. R showered. K was on the computer doing her RPG game. The kids had a bit of tv time before bed. B and I talked a little about how to work out the French thing. It'd be nice to pay the teacher a decent amount, have an ideal-for-all-involved sized group while keeping things affordable for the homeshcooling families.

After the kids turned their lights out at 9, B and I went our own ways. I'll go read in bed between ten and eleven. If I manage to stay awake, B and I will watch some Sci-Fi 'till midnight. Then we do it all over again tomorrow.

Well, actually, tomorrow needs to be a lot more productive. I want to know that I can have a day where I fall off the schedule, yet I manage to pick it back up without too much trouble. We'll see what happens's always an adventure when we all have a busy day planned.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Checking In...

I've been so focused on staying on schedule that I've not been doing anything else. No knitting, no creating, nothing.

I suppose I'll be posting some 'A Day In The Life' because I have nothing else of interest to blog about.

Let's Recap September:

  • Sept. 1 - Family BBQ at Chuck's new house.
  • Sept. 2 - Officially 'Back to Homeschool'
  • Sept. 3 - Kids to RCMP Musical Ride with Uncle B and Aunt K. Some School books arrive.
  • Sept. 6 - Birthday dinner for Grandpa at my parents'.
  • Sept. 7 - Homeschooler's Family Picnic
  • Sept. 8 - CHEO
  • Sept.10 - CHEO again. Green Light for R on all fronts. Register for Indoor Soccer Leagues.
  • Sept.11 - First Hockey practice for R.
  • Sept.13 - Community 'Treasure' Hunt. Cleared out some basement clutter.
  • Sept.15 - Daytime skating starts. Price went up 300%. Yikes.
  • Sept.18 - Hockey again. Coffee & Chat at local coffee house with homeschool moms.
  • Sept.20 - Dog to the Kennel. We're off on a late season camping trip with B's boss' family.
  • Sept.21 - Home Again. Packed a lot of fun stuff into an overnight trip.
  • Sept.22 - Treats after skating with friends.
  • Sept.23 - Grandma M. visits from MD, USA.
  • Sept.24 - Belatedly begin our weekly library visits.
  • Sept.25 - Belatedly take R for a haircut. Why are 2 dinners required on hockey nights??
  • Sept.26 - Dentist appointments (and a convenient excuse to go shopping) in the big city. Family dinner with family friends. Wine, good company and dessert. Awesome.
  • Sept.27 - K's grandparents visit. R off to a friend's birthday party.
  • Sept.29 - Interview potential French teacher.

Everything school-wise is on the anticipated track. R's math hasn't arrived yet. The kids are doing Science, History, Vocab and French more or less together. K is doing two math lessons a day, WriteShop and is working on improving her handwriting. R is doing some printing every day (under duress), some math practice here and there and his reading is really taking off. He even read a joke from the Reader's Digest to me today. Out loud.

I've organized the first of our monthly field trips. I've tracked down a potential French teacher. Now I just have to find a location to hold our French gatherings.

September's momentum is holding for now. I'm fairly impressed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back-To-School Thoughts

I was thinking about how much I hate the Back-To-School pressure. You know, the kind you find when you walk in to your local retail store and you are bombarded with 'essential' school supplies immediately as you walk through the door. The racks and baskets and shelves and bins full of individually-packaged-with-bonus-eraser items and piles of colourfully displayed paper holding systems that always look better on the shelf than in your home.

It's pressure that says you need to be preparing. You have to be ready. You simply must not fall behind. Everybody is doing it. I'm so gullible.

This week I am feeling a wee bit of triumph. This year I did it on my own schedule. I ordered our books 'late'. I organized our schedule 'late'. I have not yet shopped for seasonal clothes for the kids. I have not yet filled our calendar with extra-curricular commitments. And that's all ok.

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Looking Decidedly Schoolish In Here

As September marches on, things are looking more and more schoolish in here. It's a bit of a stretch considering the last couple of years where my focus hasn't been on accomplishing certain benchmarks or paper production, rather I was more apt to be a little too relaxed.

It's a good stretch, though. The Principle and I are on the same page more frequently. And all homeschooling moms know that when the administration is working together, program delivery becomes almost easy and those little program recipients catch a ride on the enthusiasm and motivation and interest and learning lightbulbs are lighting up for all of us. Well, at least on the Good Days. And if it's not a Good Day, I've been doing this parenting thing long enough to know to declare a Flexible Day if a Good Day seems unlikely.

So, although I know there will be challenges and roadblocks, detours and 180° turns, I'm still looking forward to this school year. Yes, books were ordered late, but I've had a good time delving into them one at a time. The kids have enjoyed the feeling of finishing off books and resources we've had on the go over the last year. Some perverse part of me enjoys making use of lists and schedules and copious amounts of sticky notes - they're reusable!! September has had this undercurrent of expectancy and excitement as I've photocopied and planned. I like it.

For French, We'll be using some L'Art de Lire, Rosetta Stone and French Coach for DS.

We're trying out Vocabulary from Classical Roots for Language Arts. I'm not really one for a spelling program, preferring the kids to pick up their spelling as their reading comes along.

Science is proving to be interesting. We've done the first lesson of Real Science 4 Kids in the Chemistry 1 book. I read, the kids listened and then had a million things for me to look up on the 'Net relating to the lesson. That's what I like. I don't really care if they take away from the lesson a complete understanding of the lesson objectives. Just that they are interested and inspired to think, play, discover. I expect we'll get through Chemistry 1 by Christmas, Biology 1 in the New Year and perhaps we'll get to the Physics 1.

Geography: Province by Province is a Donna Ward resource. After hearing her speak a couple of times, I really like her approach to Canadian Geography and History. The lessons are short, sweet and to the point. They're not too in depth, but give enough information to have plenty of jumping off points. We're going to take those jumping off points in the direction of read alouds. I hope to get around to posting a list of those read alouds here on the blog later in the year.

For History, we'll work our way through SOTW 2, most immediately. I hope to buy the last two of the series for the shelf in the near future. The kids really like the map work for some reason. And for kids who don't 'do' colouring, they seem to work away at the colouring pages while we read/review quite happily.

Math is plain ol' Saxon. 3 for R, 5/4 and 6/5 for K. K is absolutely convinced she 'isn't good at' math due to a misplaced comment from someone a number of years ago. From her comments about the ease of 5/4, hopefully she'll realize her mathematical confidence and ability soon.

K and I are going to putter through WriteShop 1 this year. Her writing is wonderful and copious. She's requested to learn a couple of technical writing skills. She's expressed a curiosity about journalistic style. WriteShop seemed to fit both our styles.

That will be our main core with bits and pieces added in for good measure. We're tossing in some handwriting practice on the request of both kids. R would like to learn cursive and K would like to improve the look of her handwriting. R has requested 'Mysteries, Puzzles and Illusions' so hopefully I'll be able to come up with something fantastic for him. I'm really mourning the loss of our local children's librarian who would have been a great help on this front....the City fired her. I'm planning to be able to have more regular get-togethers with the local homeschoolers come hell or high water. There's already some great things in the works on that front. I'm still waiting on R's math pages to arrive as well as our Medieval timeline - my personal cut-and-colour-and-paste project. As September passes into Fall, all the pieces will fall into place and we'll find our collective groove.

I'm really looking froward to spending this year with the kids.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

Didn't get around to organizing the shelf, folks.
And here it is in all it's messy splendor. Of course, I snapped this pic about half an hour into the sorting process.
If you look closely, you can even see the little sticky-notes I put up to help the sorting process along. Helpful little do-dads, those sticky-notes.
After I had sorted, I re-homed.
After I re-homed, I filed and stored.
After I filed and stored, I recycled.
After I recycled, I started on some lesson planning.
And that's where I am now. Lesson planning with sticky-notes. Handy little do-hickers those sticky-notes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

So, September made it after all. I thought it may have been washed away with all the rain we've collected this Summer.

I've missed my blog. I hope I'll be able to get back to it and record our homeschooling year along with a smattering of other bits and pieces of daily life.

It was a big summer for us. Lots of firsts.

And ninths. We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary this summer. After having plans in place for a year, we ditched them to spend an evening at home with the kids. We watched a sci-fi flick, a favourite show of ours and we treated ourselves to a strawberry shortcake. More personally, I internally, quietly and privately celebrated ten years of family life. Ten years ago I had taken a whirlwind trip into parenthood, responsibility and general drastic lifestyle change. B was there, jumping in head first with me. So as I did a lot that first year, I expect I'll do a lot of thinking and evaluating and projecting this year.

R's first foray into some serious medical care. 2 surgeries - the second completed last week. In another week or so we'll have all the post-op check-ups done and we'll see what future kidney care - if any - is required. Just recently R surprised me by trying out a kayak all on his own at a community picnic. The kayak club had the boats out for anyone to try and R was uncharacteristically right in there - without his sister - to give it a go. Guess who didn't have the camera? I've noticed a few times he's stepped out of his usual box to venture into independent waters.

K enjoyed a full season of outdoor soccer - her first. I'm sure she thought she was going to die with all the running involved. She did mention it a couple of times. She improved all season, even volunteering to play keeper. She totally stepped out of the box the last game or so to play forward, in the hopes of scoring. No goals were to be had, although there were a few good kicks directed at the net. K also met a neighbourhood friend and enjoyed the whole pre-teen hanging-out thing...which shows no sign of slowing down now that school has officially begun.

We're seeing lots more of B at home - which is great. When he's around, I'm more motivated to accomplish stuff in my day. When he's gone, I just miss him. I tend to mope. We had a good hashing out of our homeschooling expectations for the year. It makes me feel a lot better when I hear how interested and committed B is to this blind venture I'm undertaking. And as anyone who does it knows, homeschooling bleeds over into daily life. Once the kids are aware that both mom and dad are on the same page regarding all the day-to-day activities, things just putter along smoothly. For the most part.

We were homebodies this summer. The kids had some nice opportunities to get out and about with various family members and friends. Worried that K would get bored in the quiet, homebound days after R's surgery, I booked her into a couple of days at a historical site. She fought me tooth and nail about going on the first day, but was chomping at the bit to go the second time around.

We did our first family bike rides at the beginning of the season. Hopefully we'll fit a few more in - now that R's up and about - before the snow flies.

As we get closer to Fall, there's still a couple of things to fit in on the calender. Perhaps a cottaging weekend, the homeschooler's picnic and a visit with Grandma.

I'm looking forward to this Homeschool Year. I'm sure as I get back to the blog, I'll impress you all with stories of organization and planning, with reviews of new resources and with compelling news of day-to-day activities. Really. Or not.

And that's what I did on my summer vacation. Although, summer certainly doesn't feel over. And that's a happy, looking-forward-to-things kind of thought this year. Because twenty years ago, I was thinking the very same thought while stuck in a classroom in a new school embarking on grade 8. And it wasn't a very happy thought because I wasn't looking forward to very much that year. The end.