homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

FO: Dogs

I sewed a dog for nephew Charlie's birthday.

Charlie is 5 weeks or so older than Theo, and spent the entire day stressing how he is FOUR but Theo is ONLY THREE. Poor Theo!

When I was shopping for the fabric to make Charlie's dog, Theo pulled a bolt from the rack and said, "Will you make me a dog too, Mom? You could make it with this! I think that's a great idea!!" I tried to steer him toward something a little more neutral, but he wouldn't be budged. So may I present to you...THE PUMPKIN DOG!!

Eh, he loves it. That's all that's important, right? image

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Along those same lines...

How about this satirical article from The Onion?

Like yesterday's link, it speaks to the disillusioned part of me. Me, who loved school, who loves learning, who enjoyed my Fine Arts major...but then discovered that I'd been graduated with little in the way of real-world skills. After spending a lifetime being fed (and believing) the notion that a college degree was necessary for career success, I still sometimes feel a bit cheated.

Don't get me wrong; I don't regret my education, or my degree. I appreciate and celebrate the notion of the Renaissance Man. But if what a student seeks is marketable job skills, why are we still requiring the well-rounded schedule of core classes that are common to all majors? Doesn't a more exclusively focused curriculum make more sense? (Oh my--the technical schools got it right, after all!!)


I love the notion expressed in this lecture by Sir Ken Robinson, where he suggests that most of education's structure seems best suited to producing college professors.

Given that that was exactly my original goal, I should admit that perhaps my own path was not so far off the mark. So there is that. Hm.

Regardless, please do watch the lecture. It's really more about how the educational system more often than not stifles creative thought and expression. Yeah, yeah, it's been said before...but it's always worth listening to new voices.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yeah, that!

Go read this blog entry, for a little common sense I need not paraphrase. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Field trips

It's been a busy few weeks! First, I took the little boys to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium with my sister, her hubby, and their two daughters. Big fun was had by all; although the trip really underscored for me the vast differences in parenting styles. Nearly everyone there was practically dragging their kids from one exhibit to the next because they wanted to see everything or were on a tight schedule. Me? I let my kids just park themselves in front of the orangutans and stare...and stare....and stare...

This past week, my eldest stepson had a birthday. I called Grandma in for babysitting duty for the little guys and kept both older boys home from school for a day of "educational field trip". The three of us went to the Carnegie Science Center. We toured the submarine USS Requin, and then went nuts playing with everything at the science center.

We ended the day at UPMC SportsWorks, where we climbed rock walls and played virtual volleyball and did all sorts of science and physics demonstrations that made us all yell, "Cool!" :)

But for all of the planned excursions, I have learned yet again that the best moments are the spontaneous ones. Best field trip of the week? Shopping with Mom and taking a half-hour detour to watch the machines at a construction site.

See? That's what this site's title and philosophy is all about. Those little moments that are so big. Nothing planned, nothing extravagant. Just the wonder all around you. Isn't the world a terrific place sometimes?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

School daze, part 2

Okay, so I say we're going to be eclectic in our approach to learning, with a strong leaning toward unstructured. But, as mentioned in the previous post, I'm also the sort of person who thrives on at least a general sense of structure.

Here comes my confession:

I loved school.

I know! Aren't I such a hypocrite?! This mere notion is going to be the inspiration for countless future posts and journal entries. Knowing that, I won't bother going into too much justification or reasoning right now. I will, however, use it as a springboard to say that regardless of whether any, all, or none of the children in this house are attending school, I will continue to see September as a time of beginning. Like spring, it is the natural time for me to consider making resolutions. Like Christmas, my eyes light up at the prospect of store displays full of crisp new notebooks and collections of multicolored pencils and pens.

The cynic in me might suggest brainwashing, but I know it's just an emotional connection. So whether you school, school-at-home, or consider school a dirty word...go treat yourself to some new office or craft supplies and start something. It just feels right to me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

School daze, part 1

This is the time of year that I get to feel a little sheepish. I'm certain that I don't want my little ones in school. But, oh wait--they aren't the only kids in the house. They have two older half-brothers, who have just completed their first week of school.

So I get to feel all conflicted and guilty and defensive and stuff. Why treat them differently? Oh, there are many reasons...the others are already acclimated to school. One of them is even doing well. They have friends and activities. Blah, blah, blah. But mostly...they are my stepsons. And despite the fact that they are with me more than both of their biological parents, the fact remains that, well, I'm not their biological parent. There's more resistance there...a bit more mistrust...a bit more hesitation on my part...and of course, a truckload of relatives who have much stronger ideas about the whole thing than I do.

And frankly, I don't know if I *could* homeschool the older ones. Nor am I sure that I would want to. Perhaps that makes me a hypocrite, but at least I am an honest one.

But hey--I just found a new Yahoo! group for parents who don't homeschool all members of their brood. So it's been done, and the respective gods of public school and unschooling won't be smiting me. Or at least not only me.

There's another other interesting thing that has left me feeling conflicted this week. I'm glad that the big kids are back in school. Not because I don't want them around (although it is often easier to run errands with two rather than four, but I digress). No, it's more a matter of me feeling more grounded in a day with at least a loose schedule. I can I be so attracted to unstructured time and unschooling learning and say such a thing? (I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm a Virgo.) I like having the freedom to choose what we'll do and when...but I like the framework of "so-and-so leaves at this time, so-and-so gets home at this other time, and dinner will be at X o'clock" to kind of keep some sense of order. I should probably go do a personal journaling thingy on this's kind of a commentary on my personality, and I'm all about introspection.


I apologize for the dearth of new posts recently. The little guys are keeping me extremely busy. The baby in particular has not wanted to sleep much, and Murphy's Law of mothers and computers seems to dictate that any time Mom finds a few minutes to try to frantically key in a few thoughts, someone (or for extra fun, two or more someones) will have an immediate and desperate need for attention. Sigh. Repeat...they will only be little once. They will only be little once...

Things we've learned lately? Cayden has a few new "words", he's picked up the open-palm "I don't know" shrug (which is SO damn cute, I loved it with Theo too), and he's learned to use the push-bike. Theo has learned to use a pedal-bike, he's rediscovered an interest in drawing and is starting his first attempts at people, and has acquired his first pet (a goldfish). I am learning that I hate the thought of documenting everything...or even trying to (see previous paragraph), and am therefore dreading the eventual necessity of dealing with all of PA's reporting regulations. Bah. I've been spending a lot of time online reading up, lurking on message boards, and asking questions. Which is also stressing me out. Let's face it, I won't have to deal with this for quite a few more years yet...but I'm a pre-emptive worrier (family trait, thanks Mom) and overplanner. Of course, the irony is that I'm all full of resentment about the eventual paperwork sucking the fun out of my kids' learning journey...and here I am letting my concerns about future hassles do exactly that, right now.

Repeat, again. They will only be little once. They will only be little once...