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“Good” and “Bad” are Incomplete Stories, So I Hear

“Good” and “Bad” are incomplete stories we tell ourselves…

I read that somewhere in my Feedly and it completely resonated with me in this particular space in my life. Someone on Facebook asked people to summarize their 2017 year in one word and mine was CONFLICT. But then that feels like a lie and a truth (all at the same time.) When I think of 2017, I struggle to associate positive feelings with it, though I know that there were plenty of amazing things sprinkled in throughout.

So maybe 2017 was a total beast in some ways. SO was the year before that and the year before that, honestly. Wait. When was the last good year I had???

My brain doesn’t do well at focusing on the good, but as I work on wrapping this year up,  I’m trying to create habit in being more reflective about my experiences.

I spent the bulk of this year heavily buried in running and building a women’s clothing business – an extension of the work that I did in 2016. There is so much positive and negative all rolled up into my feelings about my work from this year. Negative because at times it felt ALL-consuming. I struggled with establishing boundaries in various ways, work was so flexible that it felt like it was always bleeding into my personal life, and I was so consumed with being successful that the downward and upward swings that go with being an entrepreneur became really hard for my brain to endure.

I ultimately closed down my business this year, for a  myriad of reasons, most of them not actually related to everything from above, but I did accomplish some really amazingly POSITIVE things this year within that business.

I ran a legitimately successful business, y’all, and that just feels amazing to me. I may not have been a baller, but it gave me confidence and an understanding in myself that I can seriously do whatever the fuck I want, and as long as I put myself into it – I’ll see results. I explored the femme side of myself through fashion this year, and while I may never be so tapped into her again, it was fun while it lasted and I so enjoyed that more feminine side of my beauty. Plus, I spent more focused time on fundraising projects, made some awesome new friendships, built a community that will endure past the death of my business, and plenty more – like my newly acquired boss modeling skills. 😛

This was THE best year of friendships. Really. As awful as my experiences this fall were, the one beautiful thing that came out of it was having the neccessary need to lean IN to my friendships and feel completely loved, and I will never take that for granted. I know some really amazing fucking people.

Not to be outdone, it was an amazing year of friendships for the kiddos too. It’s been a positive experience, as their mother, to watch them grow into relationships with people, and learn how to navigate those. If there is one thing I’m doing well, it’s socializing those kids.

We moved into a new house. Notably one of the worst things to ever happen to me is all wrapped up into moving into this house. We packed up our home in 4 days under conditions of duress, put everything in storage and then lived temporarily with friends while we tried to secure a long-term place to live. How we ended up here doesn’t matter now though – we are home. This neighborhood and house make me happy.

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy having older children? The increased independence is changing our homeschool in good ways. 2017 was big push towards focusing on the basics at home and outsourcing for everything else, and it opened the door for the kids to step into some fabulous classes, workshops, extracurriculars and trips. I’m steering in new directions for 2018, and that’s what I love so much about this lifestyle of our’s. We do with it what we need to for each phase of our lives.

This year I’ve been courageous and terrified. I’ve been daring and I’ve been weak. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. Maybe a better word for this year would be VULNERABILITY. That is perhaps more accurate. Though there is pain, anxiety and discomfort in vulnerability, there is also this amazing beauty to having your layers peeled away and seeing yourself and letting others see it too.

I showed up this year, and it has made me realize in earnest that I’m not someone to fuck with, ok? Bring it 2018.

 

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2013 – 2014 Curriculum Plan (So far)

Next year will be Haden’s second grade year! All my researching seems to be paying off because I’m feeling pretty solid about the choices I’ve narrowed down to so far, and I only have a couple things I still need to make a decision on. So, here is the list that I promised!

Math

We will continue doing mostly Living Math, and will be using a variety of resources throughout the year. So, I’ve just listed some of the things I want to add to our collection of living math tools. 

Miquon Math – This will be the core of our math. We have already started using the Orange & Red Books, but will continue on throughout the rest of the series.
I Love Math Books
Logic Links
Usborne First Maths Dictionary
Learning Resources Creative Color Cubes
Citi Blocks

Plus, living math books that we will borrow from the library. 🙂 You can find book lists here, here and here.

Language Arts

I have had the hardest time making a decision here! I’ve thought that I had it all figured out a couple of times, only to change my mind again. I think this is it though. Hopefully….

I linked to the main website for all the Brave Writer materials below, but you can buy them at a really great discount on the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

Brave Writer’s The Writer’s Jungle
Brave Writer’s The Wand
Brave Writer’s Jot It Down

Handwriting Without Tears

And of course, reading TONS of books. 😛

Science

Elemental Science: Elementary Biology

Required books for Biology:

Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals
DK First Human Body Encyclopedia
Plant Parts
Janice VanCleave’s Science Around the World
Janice VanCleave’s Biology for Every Kid

Intellego Unit – Evolution

History

Classical House of Learning – Grammar Stage Ancients (FREE literature-based program.) Although, this curriculum offers a reading schedule that includes Story of the World, I’ve decided to skip that, and use the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History as a supplement to the program. I may do Ancient Civilizations History Pockets with it too.

I will be borrowing most of the Required Books for the course from the library, as well as the Optional Books.

Also, we will be doing American History read-alouds throughout the year to go ahead and dip our toes into our history a bit better, until I’m ready to do a more thorough study. 🙂

Geography

Intellego Unit – Maps
Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary
World GeoPuzzle 

We will probably do misc. country studies as Haden shows interest too.

Social Studies

Intellego Unit – Goods and Services
Intellego Unit – Choices and Resources

Art

We will continue using our Usborne Art Coloring Book and Draw.Write. Now.

BLAM

BLAM by Roy Lichtenstein

Spanish

I’d really like to start doing Spanish next year, but I am still undecided on what to use. I am considering using the book, Getting Started with Spanish. Maybe Mango if I can budget it in… I’m really not sure yet…

Others

I will be adding to our collections of field guides for Nature Study. We really like the Peterson Guides. 🙂 I’m getting Peterson First Guide Rocks and Minerals & Peterson First Guide Caterpillars, plus maybe a couple others.

The Kids’ Book of Questions – This book was recommended in the book, Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, which is a really awesome book, BTW. I will be using it as a starting point towards having  more thought provoking discussions with Haden and to encourage moral reasoning.

Usborne Encyclopedia of  World Religions

And (of course) we will be taking classes through our co-op next year too.

Chickens

All about chickens in Life on the Farm class.

Websites

These are all websites that we love and utilize now. Just thought I would share the love. 😉

Education Unboxed – Oh, the amazing things you can do with Cuisenaire Rods.
Cool Math Games – Cool math games. 😛
Math Playground – More cool math games.
Living Math – The place to check out for living math resources.
Handbook of Nature Study Blog – I love their monthly newsletters because they include fun outdoor challenge grids and free notebooking pages to go with them.
Notebooking Fairy – Lots of free notebooking pages.
Homeschool Share – FREE lapbooks!

Pre-K

Addison will be 3 1/2 in the fall, so I will most likely start making a more concentrated effort to plan activities to do with her. She already tags along with Haden during school sometimes, especially science. She likes to sit at the table with us and work on puzzles or pages from her cut and paste book when we are working. I’ll keep it simple, but do want to start forming a habit of thinking about her more than I currently do when it comes to our plans for the day. I’m thinking about buying her some sand paper letters and numbers… I’ve started a preschool Pintrest board to pull ideas from, and I will likely try to take a literature-based unit study style approach with her for Pre-K, and see how that goes. The last two classes of this term at co-op she actually attended class on her own, so I’m hoping she will do that in the Fall too!

[box] So, what are your plans for next year? You know I want hear about them! :)[/box]

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Oh, the Curriculum!

And the purchasing has begun!!! Our next school year  has been on my mind for the past month or so. I’ve been making lists, researching, crossing things off, researching some more, and adding things on… I’ve got a pretty good list going, which I will probably post in the nearish future, even though it is subject to change. 😛  Now I get to spend my night perusing all these new books! And the nerd in me finds that rather exciting.

Homeschool Curriculum

A little sneak peek @ the first wave of resources we are adding to our homeschooling arsenal. 😉

 

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Every Day is Earth Day

Today, on Earth Day, we (with the help of friends) helped SAVE the Earth! It was really quite impressive. 😉

Ready!

We ventured out to Sweetwater Creek State Park to give a little TLC.

Trash in the creek

The voices of outrage at the amount of trash in the water could be heard from afar. We really needed a boat and a net with a long pole to tackle the places that need it most. 🙁 Our butterfly net was not up to the task. Bummer.

Searching

We cleared the ground though.

Play time

Ah. A reward for a job well done. Cheeky looks to be basking like all the turtles we saw on the way.

Explorers

Maybe they are scouting for more trash?

Sleepy Girl

Our Earth Day adventure wore Cheeky out. She passed out on top of me eating the boobie milk and watching My Little Pony.

[box] How was your day?[/box]

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Do You Strew?

One thing I love about being a homeschooling parent is that there always seems to be a never-ending stream of homeschooling styles, concepts or ideas that you have yet to explore – and I am always on the lookout for new ideas. So, recently I stumbled across a term that is closely associated with unschooling – strewing. I was like… What. Is. That? It was kinda a DUH moment for me because it really is such a simple concept it should have occurred to me before. Aren’t the best ideas like that???!! Completely over my head apparently…

Strewing effectively boils down to leaving things out for your children that will draw their attention, and encourage exploration. Genius. We seriously have all kinds of cool things in our house that my children rarely mess with, and I think that the way I keep things tidily in their place is a deterring factor.

Here are a couple of links that can explain strewing better. I could take the time to write more, but why would I when I can pass you along to someone who has already done it for me. 😉

If You Strew It; They Will Come

Homeschool Strewing

So, I have been making a nightly effort to strew before I go to bed… and the results have been awesome. Every morning when we come downstairs for breakfast, my kids seem to feel drawn to things that I have left out.

 

Playdough2

Our playdough strew. I printed off a couple of playdough mats (links found here), put out some plastic animals, sea shells, rocks and feathers to go with the playdough, and they just went with it.

 

Strewing1

I pulled out all of our nature study stuff, and put it in a big basket that is now sitting on our fireplace. I’ve been laying out some of our rarely looked at books, and utilizing some of those easy/fun projects that I am forever pinning that I rarely actually work into our school day…

 

Strewing2

Like painting salt with colored water on black paper.

 

Not every strew has been a winner, but I can always try it again later. 🙂 I’ve been working on a Strewing board on Pintrest. Check it out!

 

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From Clay to Bricks

For once, all the Georgia Red Clay that plagues my backyard can be considered a good thing. Today, as part of our Earth unit using Elemental Science, we made some bricks.

Mud hole

Mixing water and grass clippings into our clay hole.

Our Mold

We used a cut up orange juice carton for our brick mold.

Bricks

Finished bricks!

I’m hoping they will be dry by tomorrow afternoon, so we can play with them. They are currently in the back yard surrounded by orange cones to deter anyone (dogs included) from trampling them. 😛

[box] What happened in your homeschool today?[/box]

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2012-2013 Curriculum 2.0

Since my original post on our curriculum for the year (back in September), I have made a good number of changes, so I figured it was about time for an updated version!

🙂 Here it is…

Language Arts

We left behind Time4Learning for various reasons – mostly math related issues. Now we are using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Haden’s progress since starting has been amazing, and we are only on lesson 40. I’m sure it isn’t the most interesting program to use out there, but it is effective and our lessons are never more than 15 minutes (usually less). I wish we had made a change sooner. As a supplement, we are using the program, ClickNKids.

Math

Time4Learning Kindergarten curriculum worked in hands-on activities, and used living math books to reinforce concepts introduced in the online lessons, which really worked well for us, but that stopped in their First Grade curriculum. After considering some various options, I decided that Living Math really is the best fit for us. So, now I am building my own lessons each week using various resources. Pintrest has really been my friend, and I’ve actually worked together a pretty awesome Living Math board. A little shout out for Education Unboxed too! I was so happy to find this website. Education Unboxed is filled with instructional videos on how to use Cuisenaire Rods to teach math concepts – way more than I ever could have come up with on my own.

photoTools for Living Math 🙂

 

Science

All my original plans for science have been working out well, but I have been working in more science than I originally planned. It has definitely become a favorite in our house! After we started school for the year, I bought Elemental Science’s Preschool Series Used because I had the opportunity, and since then have been working in parts of it on the subjects that we haven’t done much study on. It is a little young for him, but it has been easy to make it more meaty by using their extra recommended reading books. It uses the book Science Play, which is what I used to build the Toddler science class I just finished teaching with out co-op. (I have every intention of posting my plans soon, so others can use them.) I love that it is not textbooky. It is notebooking and activity heavy. Also, I appreciate how easy it is to use their lesson plans flexibly, and that there are additional things you can add in if the interest is there. I’m planning to use their Elementary level Biology for next year.

Elemental ScienceStudying dirt in our Exploring Earth Unit. Experiment: He collected dirt from our backyard, added water to the jar and stirred. When it settles the dirt separates into layers. He drew/colored what he saw and labeled his layers.

 

Other Stuff

We have made some other cuts too, like our Road Trip U.S.A curriculum. I doubt we will try to use this again unless Haden or Addison show interest in learning more specific things about individual states at some point. Now, I am winging Geography too, and using cool things I find on Pintrest. Like this video, which I think my kids have watched at least 25 times in the past 2 days. Enjoy! 😛

That pretty much sums up our changes! Everything else has worked out just fine. 😛 Annoyingly, I feel like summer is right around the corner, and then I have to start thinking about the next school year. :/ Sigh.

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2013!!! Here’s to getting it right!

I’m running a little behind on getting this post out. As usual, although I intended to be a blog writing machine during my break from school that hasn’t really panned out in reality. Oh, well.

2012 was a really good year for us. SO I really want more of that.

I wrote these goals out over the summer in preparation for the new school year, but since I haven’t really given them much thought since then it seems like a good time to actively start trying to actually focus on them.

My focus going into 2013:

  • Keep letting go. This year my anxiety levels have been pretty minimal. I don’t want to back track. I just have to remember to not get so caught up in the day to day crap, notice how I am feeling about life and do what I need to stay happy. Let go of other people’s expectations for me, but probably more importantly the expectations I place on myself.
  • Fight less. I really want to minimize the amount of time we (my family) spend being snappy with each other or having full out brawls, so I’m trying to pay attention to our triggers for negative behavior.
  • Remember, I don’t have to do everything! Less is sometimes more. And sometimes less is all I have energy for so it will just have to do.

These are more centrally focused on our homeschool:

  • Be more open to on-the-fly learning. I have to be less focused on trying to plan everything out, and being MORE available to the needs of always curious children.
  • Support more independent, student-led projects and learning, which is why I’ve completely cut Fridays out of our regularly scheduled school so that they have a free day where I can stop focusing on the stuff I feel like they need to be learning and can ask, “What would YOU like to learn about today? What do you want to explore?”
  • Foster entire family participation in activities. I would really like to find ways to get Michael more comfortably involved in our homeschool.

Today, we had one of those rather perfect homeschooling moments. While we were cooking dinner, my kids were in the back yard doing this…

Later, I told Haden that what they did on the seesaw was Math, and he just looked at me all confused-like. 😛

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Year 2012: A Round-up on the Blog

Another year has gone by, and while I didn’t blog nearly as much as I hoped, I still managed to write a WHOPPING 93 posts in 2012. Yeah, I was surprised by that number too. I thought it would be fun to look at some of the highlights from the year.

My NUMBER 1 most visited blog from this year was…..!!!!

Stand Strong and Loud: My contribution to Blog for International Women’s Day that was hosted by Gender Across Borders and CARE. This year’s theme was “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

Following behind (in order) were…

Our Next School Year: The Plan: My post on this years curriculum plan, which I should probably just write a complete update post on considering we have completely ditched Time4Learning, and are now using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, ClickNKids, living math ideas, and Pintrest to replace it. Oh, and we ditched our Road Trip USA curriculum too. I have really been reevaluating our approach to school recently, especially since we’ve been on our Winter break. This one was originally posted on a Homeschool Blog Hop.

Rethinking Education: A persuasive essay on homeschooling, outlining benefits and considerations.

Our Homeschool Space: The title is pretty self-explanatory. 😛 Another one that I did on the above mentioned Homeschool Blog Hop, which is what contributed to its popularity.

This is me… throwing down: My response post to the whole Chickfila controversy BULLSHIT over the summer. It is probably my favorite post from the past year.

Now, I figured that I would add in a couple of honorable mentions, because even though they might not have made the top five traffic-wise on my blog, they were in MY favorites when I wrote them. And really that is more freakin’ important.

Warning Snark Ahead – with a fair amount of cussing: From just last month – 5 things that I learned after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Homeschooling: An Interview with My Kids: It was just so darn cute.

Tit Terrorists?: My thoughts on how we (lactavists) talk about breastfeeding and approach our activism.

 

Get to reading the ones you missed! 😉

 

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Our 2012 Family Slideshow

For those that missed it on Facebook right before Christmas… our 2012 family photo album/slideshow! I love how this years turned out, and it is always nice to look back over your year to remember all the really great things about it. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! Enjoy!