Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Homeschool Store

I found one of the coolest places ever today! The Homeschool Store. I don't know how I didn't know about it before. I have googled "homeschool and houston" probably 100 times. I just never came across it. Last week I attended a Project Wild and Project Wild Aquatic training through Texas Parks and Wildlife. There was a very kind older man there who told me about this homeschooling store in Oak Forest when he learned that I would be homeschooling my kids. This morning, my mom and I decided to check out a quilt store that also happened to be in Oak Forest. I didn't fall in love with any of the fabric enough to buy, so I asked my mom if she wanted to go check out this other store I had heard about. I had 20$ and wanted to spend it! The store is family owned and it seemed as if the eight homeschooled children were running the place. A boy who was probably around 10 years old checked us out and talked us into buying one of his dollar bill swords for 1$ What a deal! Here is what else I bought, total 19$.
They had used Dover coloring books that had not been colored in! I use to love Dover coloring books! My mom kindly bought the girls this awesome book that I knew Eaden, in particular, would love.
It's called The Big Bug Search and is like an I Spy book, but educational. My mom also bought the girls their first paper dolls!
Dover ones! When I showed Eaden, she said "wow! you are so cool! Is that a boy or a girl?...a boy...why is he wearing lip gloss?" I've only cut out one set of outfits, but I'll get around to more....In other news, Naia tried to make it rain with her new magic wand (it didn't work).
And because everyone seemed to love the blue shorts I made and because I gave the first pair to the girls' boyfriend Aidan, pictured below...
I made some more! These are a little different. A bigger flower and I flipped the pocket around.
Lovely day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Fashion Line

That was a joke! However, I am really enjoying sewing with all of my new fabric. Here is some of what I've made.
This outfit came out great! I love it! I made some more of the shorts.

I'm always trying to alter patterns and I don't know why because it never comes out right. I added that contrasting fabric around the bottom and the front and backs do not line up. I also added the pocket which is quite large. The shorts are still cute though. Submitted to Saturday's Artist.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yarn Along

I have a friend's baby shower coming up! I get to sew baby things! ...and knit. Right now I'm knitting a hat for my daughter. She loves wearing them since she had all of her hair whacked off. I made some of the quick change trousers yesterday. I was trying to increase the size so that my 3 and 4 year old girls could wear them, but it didn't work. Thankfully, they're not too girly and my son can wear them. They are also very forgiving in that all of your mistakes and mess are hidden inside the reversible pants (shorts in this case). I think I am going to make some teeny reversible shorts for the new baby and a matching reversible shirt (not from Handmade Beginnings). I am also going to knit her a hat as well and perhaps some booties if I can figure out how. Check out others or post your own Yarn Along over at Small Things.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts on "schooling" (with random photos to make the post bearable)

Learning that sleep does not have to occur in a bed
Ginny over at Small Things wrote a post about food and how confusing it is deciding what one should eat. I am having this problem with homeschooling. There is so much information out there and deciding how to go about learning at home can be overwhelming. I am not interested in what terms to use, whether they are right or wrong, etc. For example, should we use the term "homeschool?" I really don't care. Why make it more difficult to communicate by arguing over these trivialities? The reason I even started thinking about all of this is because my 4 year old couldn't count to 10 the other day. She said "five, six, seventeen, eighteen...." I immediately thought oh crap, I've been too concerned with getting them outside that I've forgot to review things like letters and numbers (She has been able to count to ten for a very long time). Yeah, yeah, I know letters and numbers are not that important for a 4 year old. Getting them outside is more important. Blah, blah, blah. I'm just saying this is what got me thinking about homeschooling.
Learning how to prepare food from the garden
So today I've been going over what we will do starting in September on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Nothing majorly detailed, but just some basic standards. For example, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we will at some point go over letters, letter sounds, etc. (yes I do think teaching them this at 4 is fine...and my daughter likes it). On Tuesdays and Thursdays we will at some point review numbers and shapes and how to write/draw them. We will read stories everyday. We will have family drawing time at least two times a week (taken from Amanda Soule), and we will go on at least one nature walk a week. The natural world, identifying plant and animal species, etc. will always be intertwined. We will unschool in the sense that everything else is determined by Eaden. I asked her what she wanted to learn about next year and she said elephants, giraffes, dragons, Indians, zebras, planets, stars, pirates, doll houses, and robots. In that order. So that is what we will focus on and I will insert some seasonal themes to go along with what month we are in. I have to have some sort of plan. That is just how I am. Not obsessive by any means, but I do need some sort of order. I do realize that kids learn naturally and my kids are certainly learning naturally. Nothing is forced by me. If they don't want to do something, we don't do it.
Learning how to catch a duck
I decided to stay at home and homeschool after being completely disgusted while student teaching at a middle school here in Texas. It was the most eye-opening experience I have ever had, the most shocking, and the most sickening. While working as a librarian, I was always thinking of ways I could spend more time with my children. I thought that teaching might be a good way to go. I could get off of work when they got out of school and I could have the entire summer to spend with them. This was not the first time I had thought about teaching. I also always had in the back of my mind this idea that I would get teacher certification not to work in the schools, but to work at my home and perhaps open my own "school." Well, while student teaching I conveniently came across A Different Kind of Teacher by John Gatto. I read it in class while I was supposed to be observing my mentor teacher. Everything I saw going on in the classroom was exactly as Gatto described it. These 6th graders could not spell words such as "the" or "up."
Learning how to relax
As I was witnessing kids learning nothing and hating being where they were, I was reading Gatto: "Is it just barely possible that forced schooling has something to do with so many people not being able to read at all these days, or understand what they read?...A little reflection should convince you that schools, as economic engines, are most successful when they run badly...No effect of compulsory mass-schooling is more resistant to remedy than the damage it has done to the American family by separating parents and kids...Think of the economic tragedy that would occur if schools taught critical thinking. If they encouraged individuals to be strong and think original thoughts. If they taught the philosopher's secret that nothing important can be bought...Who would crave the mountains of junk our mass-production economy distributes? Who would eat the processed food? Who would wear the plastic shoes? How could the mass economy survive without the trainings "schools" provide?...Kids and their families need tremendous amounts of pure choice in the way they come to the problem of growing up. There is no "one right way" to do it, there never was...and the phenomenal successes of homeschooling show at least one possibility that needs to be encouraged...To be educated is to understand yourself and others, to know your culture and that of others, your history and that of others, your religious outlook and that of others...Schooling separates people from the daily content of life, dividing the world into disciplines, courses, classes, grades, and teachers who remain strangers to their children in all but name...We shall change this thing (public compulsory schooling) in time if we deny it our cooperation, affirming what our hearts and history tell us is true...Now dumb people aren't just ignorant; they're the victims of non thought-of secondhand ideas. Dumb people are now well-informed about the opinions of Time magazine and CBS, the New York Times and the President; their job is to choose which prethought thoughts, which received opinions, they like best...Real knowledge has to be learned by hard and painful thinking; it can't be generated in group discussions or group therapies but only in lonely sessions with yourself. Real knowledge is earned only by ceaseless questioning of yourself and others, and by the labor of independent verification."
Learning that a little monster spray goes a long way when trying to scare away monsters
So, I quit student teaching after 6 of my 12 required weeks and started my life as a stay at home mom. At this point, all I know is that simply removing them from the public school system will do wonders for their growth. How to go about everything is still in question, but we will figure it out along the way. I do know that radical unschooling is not for us and neither is following any one homeschooling method. Independent thought is my main focus...I think. Confused....and yet not confused.
Learning how to paint

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Texas Nature Challenge-Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center

We completed our second nature challenge yesterday at the Houston Audubon Society's Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center. It was a scorcher!
First, we learned all about homing pigeons and their history. We found one with a secret message using this compass,
 and we created our own.
Eaden is still playing with her and her sister's pigeons. She loves the secret message that was taped to the leg.
We learned about Chimney Swifts.

We learned about Sims Bayou,

the largest freshwater fish in Texas (Alligator Gar),

and the largest land mammal in North America.
Fun challenge!

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. Thanks Soulemama.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another Glove

Now I just need to go to my mom's house and pick up the fabric that was shipped there. Then I can make a matching shirt!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simple Shirt!

I see a lot of these shirts in my girls' future. It was so easy! I couldn't make this one reversible because the red fabric was all I had enough of. However, I will definitely use some of my new fabric on one when it comes in.
 Naia was my model.
 And then, of course, Eaden had to model too.

Yarn Along

Because I'm new to knitting, and I've already knit two winter hats (and I live in south Texas), I decided it was time for something new. My daughter loves to dress up and she loves to dance. Hmmmm, think, think, think. Texas style Michael Jackson gloves! And the best part of all is she adores it! She sleeps in it! I say "it" because I've only made one. It was a practice run. Not very exciting yarn and a little tight near her fingers. I'm waiting for the rainbow yarn I ordered to come in and then she'll be stylin' for sure!
As far as what we're reading, well, my house is covered in field guides!
Check out others or post your own Yarn Along over at Small Things.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Little Older And A Lot Wiser

 Here I am on my 29th birthday with my beautiful and oldest child (she did her own makeup). I had a great day, and surprisingly, I don't feel too old. My parents took my husband and I to a Japanese steakhouse while my sister watched the kids. My dad finally got me some salt and pepper shakers (we don't have any!) at a  garage sale and my mom got me the Tedeschi-Trucks album. Thank you. My husband and kids gave me a beautiful card. Of course, their presence is enough. I'm very happy with where I am in my life and I hope this last year in my 20's will be grand. I will make it so!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eaden's New Look

Well it was quite traumatic and I know some people will probably think I'm horribly mean, but it had to be done. I simply could not handle her hair. She told me I ruined her life and that she doesn't love me anymore, but that didn't last too long. I just told her I loved her and that she was beautiful.

Bandana Bag

I thought I'd better do some sewing while waiting for my fabric to come. It's been a while and I don't want to lose my new found skills, lol. I had bought some bandanas a while back in order to make a quilt, but didn't like the way it looked when I laid everything out. I returned the bandanas with the exception of some I had cut up. With those, I made a beach/library bag. Felt good to sew again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Texas Nature Challenge-Houston Arboretum

I guess I lied about staying home this weekend and not going on any nature walks. We went on one yesterday and another today. Oh well. I found out about this program called the Texas Nature Challenge and I thought it would be neat to participate. We are in the Bayou Region and a lot of the places on the challenge list are places we already go to. Today we went to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. We had to determine a three number code while on our walk through the three different habitats (forest, meadow, and pond) and then use that code to unlock a box at the Nature Center for a prize. There are also different activities involved such as looking for clues animals may have left behind and guess who left them (we found dog poop), noting temperature changes and the different plants and animals between habitats, and listening for man-made vs. natural sounds. Our friend Aidan came along and Taven stayed at home with Pops.
Looking for turtles.

No more shade.

Yes, they're backward.

Little nature buddies.

Hiding out.
We had a great time today and look forward to another challenge soon!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Etsy Shopping Spree-Thanks Mom!

My birthday is next Tuesday, and my mom gave me $150 to spend on Etsy! Here is what I bought....yay!
Some yarn....and a lot of fabric!

Thanks Mom! You're the best! Love you. xoxoxo
Yarn is from Artric and fabric is from Allegro Fabrics and Fabricpalooza.