Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Hallow's Eve

Koda and I had a productive day today, the last day before Halloween.  We did all the regular schoolwork, did a biography on Brad Paisley and listened in on my oldest son's new radio show, featuring that country music artist, that Brian is doing from Towson.  After lunch Dakota couldn't wait to read the rest of Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve (Magic Tree House) and as promised, it was one of her best books.  In the beginning, the sorcerer, Merlin, writes his message to Jack and Annie on a leaf so after reading the rest of the book and answering the comprehension questions, we went outside and got our own big leaves and Dakota wrote messages on them.  Then we took them downstairs and laminated them so they would keep for awhile.  He even wrote a message to his brother on one, telling him how proud he was of his radio show.

We finished the day with history, which tied in with our Greek Myths class.  We read the story of Zeus, Aphrodite and the golden apple and I was happy to see that Dakota has picked up so well on these myths.  I have always loved them myself.  Now it's off to Walmart for some last minute costume things and then work for mommy and down time for Koda before dinner and practice tonight.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Music Takes You Back

Today I felt the need to declutter....fall cleaning I suppose you'd call it.  I found my old LP's and some of my favorite old CD's and I dusted off the player my kids gave me a few years ago and put on Barry Manilow.  Barry KNEW me back in the day.  He sang to my teenage heart.  His love songs swept me through heartache and teen dreams and his sad songs would see a melancholy young girl with tears in her eyes, singing along, petting her poodle, Kandi, and hugging a stuffed Pooh.

The power of music is so strong now, just as it was then.  "I can't smile without you..." used to mean I missed my first love, a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed Michael.  Or maybe it was tough and scrappy Kenny.  Or Rodney.  Or Ed.  I thought my heart was breaking then, but now I know, as a forty eight year old woman, that I had no idea what heartache really was.  I thought I was in love over and over, but now I have my husband of twenty four years and again, I had no idea.  I dreamed of the children I would have, the husband I would share my life with, the house with the picket fence, the dog in the backyard.

So I am singing away, lost in my memories, vacuuming my livingroom.  My nine year old, the last of my four children, is bouncing a basketball out in the backyard (with the dogs, but no picket fence).  I try to block it out.  I am fifteen in my little yellow and white bedroom at 3610 Lilac Ave.....  and the phone rings and it's my twenty year old telling me he's on his way home from college....   Ok.  Drive safe, son. Back to Barry......   posters on the wall of Leif Garrett, Scott Baio....  wait, I have to give this book I just found to my daughter.....the 28 year old and oh, I have to text my 25 year old daughter about her doctor's visit.  

So I sit down to write in my blog so I can capture the remnants of my teenage angst.  I pull open my laptop and go to my blog....and there on the cover is my absolutely stunning 2 1/2 year old granddaughter.....which reminds me of my brand new second granddaughter....

Ah, so I am not fifteen, but forty eight.  I am not in my yellow and white bedroom, but my comfy, warm rancher that I share with my husband, two sons and two dogs and a cat (and two fish, but who's counting).  One daughter is working, one is on maternity leave.   I don't have a picket fence, but I do have a loving husband.  I didn't fulfill all the dreams I had as a child, but I captured so many more I didn't know about.

"Mom, are you gonna come and see my basketball moves...?"  That's Dakota.  He needs me.  Time to turn off the music and save it for another day.  It was nice to drift back in time and remember who I was, but reality calls and I am a blessed woman with a good life.  And for that I am thankful.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Funday

Today was an absolutely wonderful Monday for me.  My husband was home most of the day working on his college paper and my son and I had a fun day of homeschooling.  Usually when dad is home there is rebellion and chaos from Dakota, but today was so nice.

We started out the day with spelling and then climbed in our recliners to read The Magic Treehouse Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve.  Dakota doesn't like to read very much, so we were partner reading and when we finished the four chapters alloted for today he asked for one more!  Love that and of course I said YES!  Then he did some comprehension questions and chose one of the three challenges I had for him related to the book.  He decided to make a diorama of a haunted castle and he went into his room to watch his Halloween movie, Hotel Transylvania, while he worked.  After the movie, he had a Monster Math packet to do that went along with the movie and then we learned about bats for Science and did our History for today, learning about Athens.  We did some mapping and also a Venn Diagram for Sparta and Athens to compare and contrast the lifestyles.

When we were finished with our schoolwork, Dakota got to carve one of his pumpkins.  He was a much better help this year, although watching him work with a very sharp paring knife gave me heart failures!  He handled himself well, however, and came out with a great jack o' lantern he is proud of.

At 7:03 tonight, he and I went outside together and watched the International Space Station cross right overhead.  He thought this was extremely cool and we also used the app on my IPhone to find other constellations in the sky.  I love that he was receptive to a little spur of the minute education and fun.

We are now ready to Kindle together in bed.  Something we always look forward to.  I wish all Mondays would run this smoothly.  Maybe then I wouldn't usually dread them so!

Friday, October 25, 2013


Today is Friday!  Hooray!  We got a late start after a somewhat lazy morning, but Dakota and I had a good homeschooling day.  We started our new energy unit in Science with a Disney Energy video that features lots of cool rides and talks about the energy it takes to move them.  He read some, did his math, played on and took 3 spelling tests.  He is doing well with spelling so we took the words he got wrong on 3 pretests and made up one unit to use next week.  We read his Halloween edition of National Geographic for kids, commenting on the fun pictures and articles and doing the MadLib together.  We learned about the Spartans in Story of the World and promised each other that we would make homemade applesauce tomorrow afternoon.  For art we made a monster door...super easy and very cute!  I think we will make this a yearly tradition!

Tonight Dakota has football practice for 45 minutes and then we are going to Big Vanilla with some friends for a pool party Halloween style.  Tomorrow it's grocery shopping for me, then some work and decluttering and some homemade applesauce making, of course.  Sunday is our last regular season game for our 90lb Chargers.  We know we have the first seed in the playoffs, undefeated 7-0 right now, but this could be our toughest game, playing the AA County Rebels.  Ah, those dreaded Rebels!  Will we go 8-0 or will we face our first defeat?  Stay tuned ;-)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kindness Never Hurts

Lately I have been having alot of talks with my nine year old about kindness.  It seems that he lacked kindness at co-op last week and someone noticed and told me.  He was made to apologize, but it has brought up the fact that too many people in our life and in the world in general are just not kind.  And why not?  It never, ever hurts to be kind, but a lack of kindness can hurt someone deeply.  In my opinion, there is rarely if ever a reason to be downright rude and nasty to someone.  "Kill them with kindness" is more my style and I want my youngest son to practice what I preach.

I have three grown children and I am proud to say that they are all kind.  Each one of them can be trusted to say what's on their mind from time to time, but they are all well mannered, polite and kind adults.  My little son....well, he is the hot tempered one.  That is no excuse, however, to vent on someone else.

I have taken it upon myself, as a veteran home educator and parent, to use the cruelty, rudeness and lack or respect that seems to surround us so often and turn it into a life lesson.  Besides just talking about kindness, I try to mirror the way I want him to behave.  Today we chose to surprise a friend who had a tough time on her birthday last weekend.  Her family didn't remember and she is always such a giving, thoughtful person and really deserved some love.  Another friend and I hatched a plan and I let Dakota in on the secret.  He and I made a batch of "brownie cakes" (cupcakes made with brownie mix) and our other friend bought a flower and a balloon.  My oldest daughter brought the decorations and we hid them in a spare room at co-op today and after the classes were over we rounded up her kids and ours, hid them in the room and surprised her with an impromptu celebration.  She was touched and the kids were excited and I felt really, really good.  Dakota brought it up on our way to our next destination about how he felt this was such a kind thing to do.....yes!  Bingo!  You are getting it!

Our next stop was to my mother and stepfather's house.  It was my stepfather's birthday and my mother just had surgery two days ago and was home recuperating. Dakota and I baked my stepfather a pumpkin pie and placed a candle in it.  We surprised him with the pie and a song and then he and Dakota chatted and had pie while I curled up on the bed next to my mom for 30 minutes and had a nice, relaxed visit.  It was nothing fancy, but I think when we left, my mom felt a wee bit better for the company and my stepfather was tickled to have a pie for himself.

Today's lesson on kindness was easy.  It didn't take much time.  It didn't cost much money.  It DID have a positive impact on the lives of three very special people.  I am calling today a success, both for me and for my little man, who is watching every move I make as he walks his own path to adulthood.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Keeping it All Together

It is still incredibly busy around here, but I am trying to stay close to home to give myself a center from which to revolve. My computer is still down as far as wireless internet, so I am tethered to a small area with an ethernet cord, but at least I have it.  My mom had surgery yesterday and, because she is 81, I was pretty worried.  She is in excellent health, however, and breezed through it and is home already.

 We are in our last week of regular football practice before the playoffs, so that has stayed the same.  I have cut back a bit on homeschooling activities outside the house except for every other week Mine Craft Club at the library and our weekly Co-op.  Our pumpkin farm trip had to be cancelled due to lack of interest, but since we have been going every year and Dakota has pretty much outgrown this one anyway, he wasn't upset.  He has two big pumpkins already and that seems to be all he really needs.

Monday and Tuesday were good school days.   Tuesday we continued on with our books that we have been reading (The Witches and MTH Night of the Magicians), finishing the latter today.  We are continuing a slow go through ancient Greece in History and we have been working on his big study sheet for his Greek Mythology class he has at the cooperative.  Math is plugging along, as is spelling, and we finished our Matter unit in Science, beginning a new one on Energy on Friday of this week.  We started using for Health, beginning work on a Genetics, Growth and Development unit. We started with Fetal Development.  It's a little challenging, but it's a good overall introduction to the topic.

We always have our Time For Kids and National Geographic For Kids to balance things out and add some Social Studies to our week.  We need to get more music in, but we have been listening to fun Halloween music and watching music videos.  For Art yesterday, we made the newly popular milk jug ghosts and they turned out really cute.  They were easy and look fun out in the front of the house.

So today, Wednesday, is one of my favorites because for the most part (and every other week) I don't have to leave the house.  After Mine Craft Club, which is 5 minutes away and gives me an hour of quiet library time while Dakota is in the club room, I can watch my shows, work on things here for school, declutter or do my PCA work.  I never look forward to Thursdays because of co-op, which is terrible, because I love it there.  I am just a hermit in training and would never leave the house if I didn't have to, especially this time of year.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to Homeschool Blogging

October is here and almost gone and I feel like I have missed most of it with the crazy goings on that we have experienced.  From the birth of our second granddaughter to Science Center days to a crazy contract at work, I have been a whirlwind....but it's time to refocus.

Today we eased back into our routine with a low stress approach.  We took the little girl we watch on Monday and Tuesday mornings to school and then went to Walmart and got a few groceries we needed, another huge pumpkin (at $2.97 it was a GREAT deal) and Dakota got to choose his Halloween night costume.  We came home and his sister, who is still on maternity leave, switched with me and took Dakota and Natalie to the park and I kept new baby Rebecca.  During the hour they were gone, Rebecca and I got a visit from MomMom and enjoyed some snuggles.  When Kris returned with the kids we did lunch and then it was time for Dakota to buckle down for some work.  He is NOT an afternoon worker, but we managed a fairly good three hours of "morning work", a spelling test from last week and a pre-test on this week's words, reading of his new book club book, Witches, by Roald Dahl, a math review lesson and his Harcourt Science workbook on physical and chemical changes.

After dinner and Daddy left for college classes, we decided to test out our knowledge of chemical changes and we followed the directions and made a pumpkin pie, seeing what heat did to the ingredients.  We filled out a scientific method sheet in our Science journal, deciding that our conclusion would be in the tasting of the pie.  It was delicious!

We were supposed to do an art craft tonight, but Dakota's friend from across the street came over and they jumped on the trampoline instead.  Now he is bathed and had his dessert and we are relaxing and waiting for Dad to come home and get his piece of pie.  Other than some normal contention from a little boy trying to worm his way out of schoolwork, it was a nice, normal Monday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

She's here!

Time has gotten away from me again, but for good reason this time!  On September 30th at 10:01pm my daughter gave birth to my second granddaughter, Rebecca Leigh.  She weighed 7lbs, 5oz and was 20 1/2 inches long.  She had wide eyes, a head full of brown, soft hair and an incredibly pink color.

My daughter was induced in the morning, but Rebecca had other plans.  By evening, it was clear that things were not progressing as they should and by 9pm my daughter's doctor decided to take the next step and do a c-section.  It was scary for my daughter, but she handled it with grace.  I am surprised it didn't stress me more, but I guess after four of my own, I knew what she'd experience and thought she would be fine.

I knew the nurse on duty in the OB OR and she bent the rules so I could go back in recovery and wait for the birth.  I could see the doctor's and nurses' heads through the window in the door, but not my daughter or son in law.  As I waited anxiously, watching the clock, I was able to hear her first cry.  They cleaned her up and the nurse held her up for me to see.  After my son in law got to hold her and they put her against my daughter's face, they brought her to me and I got to hold my second granddaughter in my arms just minutes after her birth.  She was a gorgeous baby and she was wide awake and staring at me, just like she does now, two weeks after her birth. I held her and cooed to her and talked to her because I knew that my daughter had so wanted those first minutes to bond with her and couldn't, so I stepped in and did the best I could, telling Becca all about her mommy and how much she loved her.

They brought my daughter out and she was in a fog, not really with it, but we took the baby to her and let her try to hold her.  I told her I would be there with the baby til she went to sleep, but 2 hours later, my son in law and daughter were napping and baby Becca was still wide eyed!  She didn't cry, just looked all around.  After taking probably 100 pictures, I finally gave up about midnight and left her in the care of the nurses so I could get some sleep.

The next morning I went to get my older granddaughter, Natalie, and she and I, her Poppy and her Uncle Dakota went to the hospital to introduce the sisters to one another.  Natalie is only 2 years and 4 months so she was a little rough and impatient, but she claimed she loved her new sister and with some quick camera work, we were able to get a few great pictures for our memory books.  Uncle Koda was in love once again, smitten by the second baby girl he has become an uncle too.  The worst part of the day, though, was taking Natalie home with us.  She couldn't understand why Mommy couldn't come home and didn't want to leave and that poor baby sobbed and called for her mommy all the way down to the car.  I kept her with me at home for three days and we didn't go visit again.  It was just too hard on her.  She would play fine and then remember, I guess, and sob and sob and then get angry and kick and throw things.  I was very, very grateful to finally get to take her home, but with my daughter having surgery, she still needed help and I got over there every chance I could for the next week to help her and snuggle my precious little princess.  God has truly blessed me yet again.