Monday, April 28, 2008

Free curriculum

This is just cut and pasted from their website, but they explain it better than me. Good stuff!

"Welcome to Ambleside Online, a free homeschool curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own private and correspondence schools. Our goal is to be true to Charlotte Mason's high literary standards. Ambleside Online uses the highest quality books and costs no more than the cost of texts. The curriculum uses as many free online books as possible, and there is no cost to use this information or join the support group."

Like it says, it's free, and it's a wonderful resource to use either to frame out your homeschooling, or just to give you ideas of books and such....

Cooking and Learning

There are meals when you just have to get it on the table quickly, and that's ok!! When you have a little extra prep time, however, why not turn cooking time into fun and learning time?
Maybe it's the homeschool mom in me, but I love having the kids in the kitchen with me to cook. I am far from a gourmet cook, or even a good cook (the smoke alarm tends to mean that dinner is ready in our house!) , but there is still lots of teaching that I can do in the kitchen.

Menu planning - the obvious opportunity to discuss making healthy food choices; chat about the food pyramid (more info on the "new" food pyramid here: ); discuss portion sizes; also a chance to practice drawing out a calendar and utilizing some scheduling and planning skills

Picking out a recipe - some of the above, and lots of reading - great if you can use a book with pictures and words

Prepping - just learning to prepare and have out what you need is a huge lesson!

Cooking - you're working on reading, measuring, learning cooking terms, fine motor skills, safety

Serving the meal - if you're really good (and I am not in this area for sure!) you can almost have an art thing going here with your presentation - how to present in an attractive and visually pleasing way; manners and ettiquette can be taught; even more importantly the art of serving graciously can be demonstrated

Cleaning up - learning how to follow through and finish up a project; health and cleanliness

A website with lots of fun cooking ideas is . There are a bunch of them out there - just take a little time to search. Also, check out the library - most have quite a few choices for cooking with kiddos.

And like anything else that you do with your children, it will take time, more time than it would for you to throw that meal together, but look at all that they can learn! You may even have a genuine helper on your hands before too long. And hopefully they may also learn to appreciate, at least a tiny bit more, all that you put into the meals that you make for them each and every day!! Here's hoping! :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

High school homeschoolers

I was reading an article in our HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) magazine this morning about kiddos who were homeschooled through high school, and it was interesting... They interviewed quite a few students who had been homeschooled through high school, and the jist of it was that they all felt prepared academically, but felt unprepared in one or more areas of "real life stuff". This really surprised me! I kind of figured since we're living life out in front of our kids 24/7 they'd "get" more stuff than their regularly schooled counterparts. Hmmm... So another thing to add to my list - am I doing the real life stuff? Checkbook balancing? Car repairs? My list is getting very long!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Glimmer

I'm really not a gloom and doom kind of person, but when it comes to my kids I can quickly list off about 50 things that I've done wrong in raising them so far, and they're only 7 and 10!   I have so many things that I wish I had done differently, wish I had done, and wish I hadn't done.  I worry about how they are going to turn out, and if little things I see now are going to manifest into major issues later.  I wonder if homeschooling them is helping or hurting.  I just really want to see them turn out okay, and wonder if I'm doing what I'm supposed to as a mom to help that to happen.
All too often I see things that give me cause to ask all those questions.  They're squabbling too much.  They're not treating their dad and me the way I think they should, at least not all ofthe time. They're this and that.  If someone followed me with a figurative clipboard like I do with them at times, I'd hate to see the notes!!
Well, we had a glimmer moment the other day.  We had a glimmer of hope, of promise, a glimpse into the good stuff going on inside of their heads and hearts.  Yeah!!
The kiddos and I were walking to the little corner store. They had coins jingling in their pockets, and were rattling off all of the candy that they were going to be able to buy with their quarters.  Exciting stuff!! The five blocks probably seemed like an eternity to the girls, since they had to slow down for our little foster two year old, but they were troopers, and happily, albeit a little impatiently, they plodded along to the store. 
We were one block from the store when we saw a young man with Down syndrome walking towards us.  I said hello, the girls smiled, and we kept on going.  Then, we heard a noise and turned to see the young man lying in the road.  He had tripped in one of upstate New York's famous potholes while crossing the street, and lay with his ankle twisted, looking quite uncomfortable.  I saw the girls glance at the store and glance at me.  I braced myself for fussing about getting to the store, but went to the young man and helped him to the curb, checking to see if he was okay.  We called his mom for a ride, and stayed with him for a little bit to be sure he was okay, and you know what, never once did I hear a peep about getting to the store.  No one whined, fussed, or even said a word!!  My girls stood with me in helping someone else, and I was able to catch a glimmer.  My girls delayed their own gratification for the sake of another, one who was not going to do anything for us in return, and I saw a glimmer.  I saw a glimmer of hope and of good, and I was able to exhale.  It's sinking in....  Things are going to be okay :).

Friday, April 25, 2008


I was just on the Alpha Omega Publications website ( and saw that they are in the middle of their 20% off sale.  It's a huge savings for anyone who needs, well, excellent curriculum for just about every grade.  Especially if you are newer to homeschooling, this is an easy for parents, "homeschool in a box" type curriculum series.  Check it out, but quick - only 5 days left! 

Magazine promo

Hey - I just really like to share when I come across a bargain, so here I go again!!

Follow this link to check out a really neat magazine for homeschoolers. It's not super cheap, but you get a lot for your money, plus they're doing a promo right now where you get a whole pile of additional stuff....

Webkinz stuff

Aren't everyone's kids Webkinz crazy right now? They are giving away free stuff this weekend at a bunch of locations... Gotta go catch it with my girls :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A good path

An article that I just wanted to put out there....

“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.”

I first heard this piece by Emily Perl Kingsley when I was going through an orientation at my first job working with people with disabilities. The social worker read it to us, and it grabbed my attention. I was just looking for a summer job between my junior and senior years of college, and the spot in a group home would fit my schedule well. I really had not thought about it much more than that. But this, well, it made it real. I worked that summer in the group home where nine adults with developmental disabilities lived, and it became more real. I got to know the people behind the diagnoses, beyond the files I had read. I got to “travel in Holland” and see things through the eyes of those who had lived their whole lives in this very different place.

After I graduated from college I came back to the group home, and I worked with the folks there for several years. I eventually got promoted up and left the home, working in coordinating services for individuals living out in the community, but I kept in contact with the residents back at the house for a few more years. One of the men, George, took pictures for me at our wedding, rigged up with a camera operated by his pushing a button with his foot. One of the ladies, Susan, was the one to catch my bouquet; it flew right into her lap as she sat in her wheelchair.

I worked in service coordination for a few years, and became familiar with a lot of different disabilities that I had never heard of before. I became connected to a lot of people, those disabled and their supports, that I probably never would have met without that job. I had a degree in Psychology, but most of my learning happened after school ended. I have traveled an interesting and varied path since I left that job.

In the Service Coordinator position I had come across a huge need for appropriate and accepting child care for kids with disabilities. I took coursework to become a licensed childcare provider, and opened up a small day care in my home. I planned to focus on providing individualized care, especially for children with disabilities, and sent flyers out to all of the local agencies. Nothing.

My day care did get up and running, but it was filled with plain old, “regular” children. I was disappointed, but again was educated by the experiences in my life. I learned that rather than viewing disabilities as a cut and dry line that some children fell into and others did not, we all live on a continuum of sorts. We all struggle with with our own set of difficulties, some of which can be easily spotted and identified as disabilities with names such as Down Syndrome, autism, and ADHD, and some which a professional will never categorize or label. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses.

I am now a homeschooling mom, with two daughters who have stretched, and rewarded, me in ways I never could have imagined before parenthood. As I help them to learn their schoolwork, we also learn together how to live our lives. We learn together how to take the strengths and weaknesses, the abilities and disabilities, that we have been given, and to do our best with them. We have recently added a foster child into our family, and he has helped us to see how each and every person has so much to offer, regardless of what labels have been applied to them. He has helped us to realize firsthand that even when the journey of life takes us down an entirely path than we had planned, it can be an amazingly wonderful path. Even when the path is not easy, it can be good.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Help for Mom!

Hey, I keep forgetting to throw these on here - three really great websites I've found with articles posted by moms for moms (I'm a little partial b/c I have some on them :) ).

Be warned - they are addicting - plan on being there a while :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A great kiddo art resource!

Anyone who knows me well knows that arts and crafts are not a strong point for me, at least not coming up with the ideas.... BUT I just finished teaching an art class that was really fun, and pretty successful I think! :)

The Book Discovering Great Artists, by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga, is a book that I just have to brag on. I checked it out of the local library and just gobbled it up. It goes through great artists from the 1200s up through recent days, gives you a snippet to learn and teach about the artist, talks about their style of work, gives you a project in that same "flavor", and even lists out materials to use that most likely are already in your kitchen or closets. There is even a website by the publisher with supplemental materials (

Ok, gotta run and enjoy a non-rainy day, but wanted to throw out that very very good resource for homeschooling, fillling in the blanks for art, or just rainy day fun. Enjoy!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Summer Safety

Before we moved, I ran a day care out of our home for quite a few years, nine I think - I've blocked it out :). (Just kidding, they were good years!) I was always so glad to see the warm weather come, but also nervous about all of the "dangers" of being outside so much. You can stress everyone out if you think on all of these things constantly, but it's good to do a quick refresher on summer safety right about now...

Here are a few good websites that I found to get your mind "tuned up" and ready to try to be on the safe side with your kiddos. and for your pets...

It's also not a bad idea to call up your local Red Cross, YMCA, or Continuing Ed. Dept. to see if they are offering a First Aid and CPR class. It is so much less scary (for both you and your child)when your child does get hurt if you have some training as to what to do!

When reading this, you might think that my kids are in bubbles, and that safety is always on the forefront. Well, you don't know me... My kids are probably the dirtiest and most banged up kids on the block, but they're also probably having the most fun. By doing quick safety checks now, and just being alert of all this good stuff, I can relax and let them enjoy, well, making mudpies, climbing trees, and being kids.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stay at home mom

I'm wondering tonight, as we try to balance it all here - homeschooling, parenting, living, paying bills... is it really possible to be a stay at home mom? It just seems so impossible to stretch one paycheck around an entire family.....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just a bike ride....

Today I took a break from my to do list and took my kiddos on a bike ride. With the baby bike seat attached to me, and my girls racing ahead of me, I wouldn't say it was relaxing, but it was good. It was good for everyone.

Sometimes the most important things aren't on my list...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another Free Resource!!

Ooooh oooh oooh!! Another great freebie, especially for preschool and elementary, but even a little above - Enchanted Learning.

They have printable sheets on just about anything you can think of: Math, Science, Social Studies, Colors, Literary stuff... There are two levels of service, but the free one really does have lots!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Homeschooling around the world...

I try to teach my kiddos with a global view, so I thought this was neat - just a reminder that the world is bigger than our kitchen, or even than our country. Families are deciding to homeschool all around the world. Their struggles make my grumbling about life on one income seem very whiny!!! Good lesson here, Mom!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Museum trip

Ok - so today was a GOOD day. New York State Museum in Albany with three kids. Nothing broken, a few things learned. Yeah!!! :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Free Art curriculum and ideas!

Hey - a great website for art lessons and ideas... Free free free!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Homeschooling is Cool!

A blurb off a really neat, and jam packed website:

"Homeschooling is Cool!
A to Z Home's Cool community website will help you homeschool your kids from preschool, kindergarten, through homeschooling high school with free online education, home-friendly lesson ideas, educational websites, helpful articles, top homeschool programs, books, materials, curriculum... and best of all... Homeschool Friends!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Schoolbus - where are you?

Today has been one of those days - I watch the big yellow schoolbusses roll by and want, just for a moment, for them to clear my home out of kiddos!! Then I take a breath, splash some water on my face, drink another Diet Pepsi, look at each of the faces, and realize that they are right where they are supposed to be for right now. This season will be gone before I know it....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Legal help

Thankfully I've never had to use their services, but I like having the safety net of a group of homeschool supporting lawyers who really work for the cause of homeschooling freedoms.

"Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed."