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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. Mixing water and grass clippings into our clay hole. We used a cut up orange juice carton for our brick mold. 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. 😛 What happened in your homeschool... read more

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. Tools 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... read more

A Little Push

It has been far too long since my last post. Honestly, I don’t know what my deal is, because I can’t really say I’ve been too busy to find the time to write. Maybe it has become like exercising. Since I’ve lost my momentum it has become hard to get back into it? Who knows. Maybe giving myself a little push, I can find my way back… Since I am here and writing I feel like I should give you an update on life, so this feels like a good place to insert that I am quitting school. Yeah, I bet everyone is totally shocked. Cause I seemed so committed and all. I really can’t think of any good reason to be doing it, and my lack of overall goal makes my motivation almost nothing. Since I can’t seem to justify the increased stress levels, and the whole eating away of my time thing, I figured I needed to live by one of my new-ish life rules – to only be doing shit that I want to do. So school is out for now. Maybe when my kids are older, I might figure out what I want to do when I grow up and all that jazz, and I can revisit that option. So, I’m officially unschooling myself again. 🙂 In other news I have been participating in a book club with some friends from our homeschool co-op, reading the book Daring Greatly. Brene Brown’s work is amazing, and even if you read the synopsis for the book and don’t think it is a book you want to read – do it anyways. Best advice I have ever given you. Her chapter on shame was excruciating to read, eye-opening and more than a little heart-breaking. It is the kind of thing that breaks you down, but at the end you are thankful for it. Truthfully, it is hard fior me to put into words and make any sense, so just read it. I posted her Ted talk Listening to Shame below, which gives you a little insight into what her book is about. Watch it. Anywho, things in the land of homeschooling have been fun and interesting… you know between the crying, whining, and fits (mostly from me). Plus, bribing Addison with TV to give me 20 minutes of peace to actually work with her brother… 🙂 I have a lot of homeschooling topics I’d like to blog about, but I just need to sit down and do them. Did I mention Addison turns 3 in two... read more

Border Crossings Educational Event

Last semester during my Sociology course, the topic of immigration in the United States came up. In an attempt to learn more about the barriers immigrants face, I ended up having some great conversations on Facebook with my friends, and connecting with a friend that is very passionate about immigration reform, and volunteers much of her time to helping detained immigrants and their families. In order to learn more about a topic that I have (in the past) been sorely lacking knowledge on, and with the help of said friend, I have been helping to organize an educational event that is taking place this Friday night! So, my local readers… Join us for an educational event on January 25th @ 6 pm to view the film, A Better Life in Avondale Estates near Decatur. A Better Life tells a typical story of Latino immigrants that bring to light many struggles that Latinos/as face in the United States. We will follow the film with a discussion, which will be a great opportunity to learn more about immigration and detention issues, and start thinking about and discussing ways to take action and work towards social change. You can find full details for the event at it’s Facebook Listing. Wanna know why you should care about immigration in the U.S? Watch this short 2-minute video for a brief glimpse into our private immigrant detention industry. This Saturday, along with my husband and a group of friends, I will be driving to Lumpkin, Georgia to visit El Refugio, a hospitality house, right outside the gates of Stewart Detention Center. Its purpose is to serve the family and friends of men detained and, thus, separated from their loved ones. Stewart Detention Center is the largest immigrant detention center in the country. During our trip we will visit with detainees at Stewart Detention Center. You can look forward to reading about my experience after I get back.... read more

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.... read more

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! 😉... read more

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!... read more

Dangerous Minds – A Film Analysis

 (This is my final essay assignment for my Sociology class. I’m officially on break until mid-January! I got a 90, BTW.) The film, Dangerous Minds, follows the story of Louanne Johnson, an ex-U.S. Marine. Set in 1989, the story begins with Louanne entering into her first year teaching at an inner-city school with underprivileged youths, where she explores the challenges of teaching her students, and the necessary steps it takes to reach them. Roughly based on the autobiography, My Posse Don’t Do Homework, Dangerous Minds shows a social depiction of the forces of stratification and poverty, the bureaucracy of our educational system, and the subcultures that exist within that framework (Johnson, 2007). The opening of the film shows you glimpses of poverty-stricken neighborhoods with run down buildings, busted windows, and graffiti. Neighborhoods where homelessness and drug deals are a commonality. In the background of these images is the song Gangsta’s Paradise, by Coolio, which is used as a reflection into their lives and culture: “You better watch how you’re talking and where you’re walking, or you and you homies might be lined in chalk… I’m the kind of G the little homies wanna be like, on my knees in the night saying prayers in the streetlight (Coolio, 1995).” This further builds on the imagery of a reality within this subculture where gang violence is prevalent, life chances are lacking, and reputations that invoke fear are a necessary part of surviving. Photo Credit: [Source] Louanne’s students are primarily minorities from working poor families, with no apparent interest in education, little to any educational skills and social problems. Seemingly fixated in their social position, these kids seem to lack confidence in their ability to be more than they are by virtue of their birth and circumstances. In an effort to control some aspect of their lives, placing value in fearful reputations and violence become a way of carving out a place for themselves within society, and seem to be synonymous with power and prestige. Upon Louann’s first day of class, she is greeted with derogatory sneers, such as “white-bread” and “puta,” which translated to English would be equivalent to whore or slut (Smith, 1995). In their effort to intimidate her into leaving, and therefore maintaining their freedom, they effectively make Louanne more determined to reach them. In order to obtain the attention of her students, and teach them in a way that they can understand and identify, Louanne begins to think outside... read more

Warning: Snark Ahead – with a fair amount of cussing

After spending most of my weekend reading articles, researching, and watching social media posts and comments about Friday’s shooting, I’ve come away with new wisdom that I feel the need to share. In no particular order of importance… 1. When trying to learn more about the ACTUAL effectiveness of gun control laws, avoid sources that have a liberal or conservative slant – and those are hard to find BTW. You will likely encounter some potentially compelling insights mixed in with some half-truths and outright lies. I’ve spent HOURS trying to wade my way through the easiest to find crap out there, and I honestly don’t much feel like getting into what I learned from those endeavors statistically speaking, but I will say that it isn’t nearly as clear cut as most people seem to think, which brings me to #2… 2. Apparently, a good majority of Americans already have this whole thing figured out. They know exactly what we need to do to reduce violent crimes. They know why Adam Lanza committed the act that he did. He was either mentally ill, not mentally ill, or just a “fucking crazy ass pyscho” who is currently burning in hell. (This is considered NOT mentally ill too, just so you know. Apparently, we seem to have some interesting ideals of what does and does not qualify as mentally ill.) Everyone seems to KNOW that it was his mothers fault (if he was mentally ill) for having guns in the house to begin with (under the assumption that she knew he was mentally ill. I mean, IF he was.) Or that it was his fault for not seeking help for his deranged mind. Or lets take it BACK to his mother. It is still her fault for raising such a fucked up kid, regardless if he was or was not mentally ill. Maybe he was just one of those “bad seeds,” whatever the fuck that means – which is still his mothers fault. I feel a bit behind the curve here because my mind has been spinning all weekend as I have tried to make sense of the multitudes of opinions being splashed around the internet, and even after a whole weekend of being buried in reading and research, I don’t feel like I have ANYTHING figured out. 3. People seem to react on emotion, and jump to conclusions based on their predisposed biases. This seems problematic, because problems such as the ones we are facing in America are NEVER one-dimensional. 4. Apparently, “things like this” happen because we have removed God from our schools (according to Mike Huckabee and other asshats like him), but... read more

*THIS* Close

I am *THIS* close to being done with school for this year, and that means I have a lovely 4-week break ahead of me to try my best to enjoy the holiday, and somewhat recuperate before being thrown into my next class. You know what that means don’t you??!!! You should be seeing more of me here on the blog in the very near future. Hopefully I’m not lying to you. I do miss it. I really do. And you know you miss all my updates or rants, whichever you get lucky enough to receive. 😛 In other news, I am officially in Christmas-time hell over at my house with the impending stress of the holiday, the lack of preparations I have made, and trying to wrap up this class, while still trying to seem all “awesome mom” through it all anyways.... read more

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