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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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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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Homeschooling: An Interview with My Kids

I was reading on our local ICAN forum board yesterday about what kids had to say about homeschooling, and it made me want to ask my kids what they really think about homeschooling. Haden seemed pretty intrigued with the idea of being interviewed for my blog, and even more amused that I typed as he spoke and wrote all of his words down. 🙂

Me: What is your favorite part about homeschooling? What do you like about it?

Haden: I love school. I like that we hang decorations. I like that I can give you letters and I get to wear my new clothes. I love playing outside, and pretending I’m going grocery shopping and being an explorer when it is a sunny day and not muddy. I like that I don’t have to go to public school.

Me: What don’t you like about the idea of public school?

Haden: That you have to stay there a looong time, and when you get home it is like dinner time.

Me: What is you least favorite part about homeschooling? What don’t you like?

Haden: I don’t like when I have to do a lot, and I didn’t like that game where I had to stop and go. (It was a game like Red Light, Green Light, but using it as a word game. He was not a fan. LOL)

Me: What is your favorite subject to do? Why?

Haden: I really like doing handwriting. Cause I just love writing. I like to write letters and I’m going be a letterman when I grow up. I will write letters to all the people I know – like Ashley, Tyler and Laura and Wendy and Dickie.

I had hoped to ask more questions, like “What has been your favorite project so far?” and “What would you like to learn more about?” Haden called our interview to an end though. He said the rain was getting to him and making him grumpy, and that he needed a break! 😛

I tried to get Addison involved in the conversation, so when I asked her what she liked about homeschooling, this is how the conversation went…

Addison: Uuuummm…. Gigi’s House!

Me: You don’t do school at Gigi’s house, but I guess you could. What else do you like?

Addison: Cinderella! Me watch Cinderella! Please!!!

Me: You want to watch Cinderella?

Addison: Yes!!!

So, there you have it! That is why my kids like homeschooling!

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A Peek at My Week: Fwacking the Birdie

This week my cooperative had their 2nd annual Homeschool 101 event, and I packed up a nice rolly cart full of homeschooling goodies to share with everyone that came. I even managed to score some new-to-me books at the used book sale for $5! Mostly Magic School Bus = total win.

The event took place at the park where our classes will be held in the fall, and while we were there Haden spent the majority of his time learning to play Badminton with a group of kids from another group. He was fwacking the birdie pretty good by the time we left. 😛

Our cooking project this week was Lemon Brownies, and they were freakin’ AMAZING. Plus, easy to make. I will be making them again and again.

More pictures from this week…

The water in our fish tank must taste much yummier than the water in the water bowl, because my cats really prefer drinking from it.

In other news, we decided to revise the way we use our workboxes just a bit, because the original way just wasn’t working for us as I had hoped. Otherwise, I am still loving my drawers!

Oh, and I started reading the book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. It is amazing so far, and if you haven’t read it, you REALLY should. I haven’t even made it all the way through the second chapter yet, and the things I have learned are astounding. I spent the earlier part of my day being completely appalled by the fact that we actually have a national holiday to celebrate Columbus. That’s pretty F’d up.

We spent the weekend with my family for my sister’s birthday, and enjoyed our time at Lake Jackson today. Here are a few more pictures for the road!

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Mini-Office Lapbook

As of late, I have spent entirely too much time surfing homeschool blogs, which has ultimately ended in my taking on too many projects. I’m happy to say that I am only ONE more project away from counting myself as DONE!, and it should be just in the knick of time for my next college class to start.

So, I found this idea originally on the the Homeschool Creations Blog, which basically amounts to a fun reference lapbook for Haden to use. I just taped together 3 file folders and folded them accordion style.

Haden’s includes:

Alphabet Chart

Months of the Year and Days of the Week

Number Grid 1-100

Money Charts

Shapes

Continents and Oceans

Cloud Identification Chart

Seasons

And some other stuff. I’m not gonna list it ALL! Sheesh. 😛

[box] Wanna make your own? Here are some of the places that I found useful printables…[/box]

Teaching Heart

Lapbook Lessons

Jimmie’s Squidoo Article

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A good idea gone bad or just a bad idea?

I am, what I would call, a committed homeschooler. I knew I would be homeschooling from the time that Haden was a baby. I have rather strong feelings about homeschooling and the public school system. My kids have never gone to public school, and if I have my way, they never will. It would take some very serious life hurdles to get me to even consider it. Never say never, but that is how I feel. That is truth.

However….

I ran across the above quote from John Holt on a homeschooling Facebook page, and then subsequently ended up getting into a small online altercation with a woman that I am fairly convinced is a bit nutty. 😛 The quote, along with reader comments, has left my mind churning with this ideology that seems more and more prevalent over the past year. One, of which, I am not a fan.

I obviously have no great love for the public school system. Anyone that gets me talking, will hear an almost endless list of my issues. But, the idea that we should just get rid of compulsory public schooling altogether… really?? THAT is the genius solution to our education problem?

My thoughts are that not all children are so lucky to have parents as dedicated as the ones I am previleged to know, and for THOSE children the only form of positive guidance may come from school teachers. School may be the only chance they get in their young lives to be exposed to the possibilities that exist outside of their home life and their neighborhoods. That is a reality. It seems a bit naive to assume that taking away the compulsory public school system would benefit all children. Some would be irrevocably hurt.

[box] Am I missing something here? What are your thoughts? A good idea gone bad or just a bad idea?[/box]

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Roll It Up & Throw It in a Pan!

I admittedly have gotten pretty lazy about certain things over the past two years. The way that I cook has definitely been one of the things that has taken a backseat on my priority list. Pre-Addison, I used to be much more willingly to make things from scratch… where now, I definitely cut corners when I can. 😉

Cooking with Haden was actually a big part of his preschool experience, like when we made Avgolemono or Sachertorte. We used to make pizzas ALL. THE. TIME. My struggles with juggling two children kinda put an end to those things though, and cooking became this thing I just had to get through in order for us to eat. Not that I exiled him from my kitchen, but my interest in involving Haden dwindled.

Today we baked cookies together, albeit not from scratch, but from a Betty Crocker bag. 😛 At which time, Haden informed me that he needed to be cooking more, so that he could learn the right way to do things in the kitchen. I must say, my boy can sure be convincing, since he wrangled an agreement out of me to plan one cooking project for us every week. I am even considering including Addison in these exploits, which means I have officially LOST MY MIND.

Now… to get to my point. I think I would like to explore bread making for these cooking projects, and I have never, not even once, made my own bread. There. I admitted it. Oh, the shame!

So, my bread-making-friends… Recipes? Tips? Pointers?

 

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Carschooling

In anticipation of our LONG road trip for vacation last month, I knew I had to do SOMETHING and get creative about things to do with my children in our car. Road tripping with 2 young children sounded like this mama’s version of a nightmare. So, I am probably a bit behind the curve here, but my car isn’t terribly kid-friendly. We rarely have anything interesting to do while we are in it, and on the rare occasion that I remember to remind the kids to bring something with them, they don’t do it most of the time.

With the trip looming right ahead of me, I took the plunge and finally bought a book I had been eyeballing for a while called Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time. It is written by Diane Flynn Keith, who runs Clickschooling.com, of which I am a big fan, and the book hasn’t disappointed me even a tiny bit!

I bought car organizers! How on earth have I not done this before??!! I am seriously behind the curve, like 6 YEARS behind. In preparation for our future adventures in carschooling, as we tend to spend a fair amount of time in the car (trucking back and forth to park days, play dates, co-op classes, or field trips), we now have some of our basic essentials in place, ready to use whenever we need them.

My teeny tiny car now harbors…Notebooks, lapdesks, colored pencils, pencils, a pencil sharpener, magazines, coloring books, flashcards, audio books, music CDs, a camera, binoculars, a magnifying glass, a critter keeper, a picnic blanket, and spare clothes.

The book has so many great ideas, and some of them require materials preparation ahead of time, while others you can do without much forethought. Anyone who read my blogs about our vacation, knows that our road trip with the kids was not “fun times” all around, but I honestly hate to think of what it would have been like if I had been completely unprepared. :/

We seemed to have better success on our shorter  1.5 hours road trip to Lake  Jackson this past weekend. 😛

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SEEING the Ocean: Our Ocean Unit Study

2 days left and we will be SEEING the ocean! Smelling it. Hearing it. To build up the suspense and excitement of our upcoming trip to Key West and the Bahamas, we have been doing a Ocean Themed Unit for the past 2 weeks. It has been tons of fun, and with summer right around the corner, I figured someone might find this interesting!

Our Book List:

Hello Ocean, by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Sign of the Seahorse: A Tale of Greed and High Adventure in Two Acts, by Grame Base

The Little Island, by Margaret Wise Brown

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, by Joanna Cole

 

This was our very first time doing a lapbook. Honestly, although I had heard people mention them before, I didn’t really know what the hell a lapbook was until someone posted an Ocean themed one from Homeschoolshare on Pintrest. Homeschoolshare is actually a pretty cool website, with tons of freebies, and you know I LOVE freebies! Haden really loved the project. That boy seriously has a thing for notebooks, so making the lapbook was slightly thrilling for him. We also made the suggested “wave in a bottle,” using mineral oil and blue water.

 

 

It was a pain to have to do all the cutting for the lapbook, making my preparation for school more time consuming, but I think that Haden’s overall enjoyment of the process made it worth it, and I wouldn’t mind doing them every once in a while.

I won’t likely be creating my own lapbooks from scratch any time soon, but for those that might be interested Homeschoolshare has 100 lapbook templates you can type on that are downloadable for FREE, in case the mood strikes you, and you want to get creative. 😉

We did THIS Ocean Animals Movement Activity, which my kids actually enjoyed way more than I thought they would. They were so funny and cute, while being ocean animals.

Octopi

Clams

We declared a Project Day! and used our time to create an ocean aquarium using a 2-liter bottle, which was a project we just stumbled upon while reading about fish in our Natural World book from the Explore and Learn Series. It totally seemed like a Curious George style project, and I have a sneaking suspicion that is why it appealed to Haden so much.

Have Fun Learning has some free Ocean Activities for download. We only used the word problems for ours, but I thought the writing pack looked pretty cool.

Throw in some ocean documentaries on Netflix, and call it a fun 2 weeks. 🙂

Just for the record, this is the power of Pintrest and other bloggers at work here. I feel that I must be clear that I rarely have any overtly creative ideas all on my own. I love the internet for being such an amazing resource for learning.

Hey! Did I mention we leave in 2 days??!!

 

 

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BEAUTIFUL!

The kids spent their morning exploring the backyard, collecting things to put in their nature collection, while I enjoyed my coffee and everything bagel. It was one of those kinds of morning, the good kind, where everything is going just right.

Haden starts yelling, “Mama! Mama! Come here! We found a spider web on the swing and it is BEAUTIFUL!”

So, I go outside to see this spider, that really had built a very beautiful orb web on one of our swings. The sun was hitting it just right, so that it glistened in the light, and you could see a rainbow in it. Very beautiful. The part that made this even cooler, was that we recently read a book called, How the first rainbow was made: an American Indian tale, a book Haden just happened to randomly pick up at the library. The story ended with the “Man in the Sky” creating rainbows so that the people would know that the long rains were ending, but he also gifted spiders with rainbows for their webs.

So we talked again about that story, about legends and myths, and people finding ways to explain the things they did not understand. It was one of those moments, in homeschooling, where you start to see all those little pieces coming together.

Although, the day started BEAUTIFULLY, those of you on Facebook know I was hiding in my bathroom by this afternoon, so that sums up how I felt by the end of it. 😛