Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Choice vs Obligation

I have been thinking a lot about this lately.  My husband and I go back and forth about choice and obligation.  It's a fine line, sometimes.  What do you choose to do willingly versus what must you do whether you like it or not?  What is an obligation?  Is an obligation willful?  Here's my take...

In my life I choose to homeschool.  This is clearly a choice, as my son could easily go to public or private school.  Having made that choice, however, I am morally and personally obligated to give him the best education I know how.  I watch my granddaughters during the day.  This too is a choice.  I have two granddaughters and a third is on the way in three months.  I choose to watch them and I choose to watch the new baby when she arrives.  I am not obligated to my daughter to do so, because I it was not my choice, she could stay home or put them in daycare.  So it's my choice to watch them because if their mother cannot be there for them, I want to be the one to get their hugs, dry their tears, kiss their little cheeks and teach them their life lessons when they are with me.  Being the woman I am, I am therefore obligated to make my home a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment for these three precious little princesses in my life.  That's the person I am.

My husband makes a choice to teach young men the sport of football.  Many men do.  However, because my husband is the man he is, he is morally obligated to teach those young men not only football fundamentals, but character, sportsmanship, pride in their academics and in their sports and to turn to family and God in times of trouble.

The word choice has a good connotation.  I can choose to do's how I do it that matters.  I am obligated to myself, my family and God to be the best wife, mother and woman that I can be.  Does all that make sense?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Turkey Feathers and Making Rocks

Today was a bit chaotic since my husband was home from work, my daughter had an unexpected fall and had to take herself and her unborn baby over to the ER to be monitored AND it was pouring down rain so we couldn't get outside.

I let the preschoolers watch Handy Manny this morning, which is something we have moved away from.  I do not usually put on the television for them in the morning anymore.  They come in and get started with playing or reading.  I only had one of the babies and she was playing in the nursery.  My homeschooled son got to sleep in a bit and have a slower morning, since a rainy, gray Monday is not very conducive to high energy and an early start.  By 9am there were french toast sticks for all and then a morning activity for the preschoolers while my son did some independent writing on his computer.  The girls learned about Pilgrims and Indians, although I don't think they really understood.  We read a book called My First Thanksgiving, which was a counting book and every other page was about a group of pilgrim children or a group of indian children.  I repeatedly asked them which group we were looking at, but I think they had a 50-50 chance of getting it right so sometimes they did.  Afterward, we made Indian head dresses and the girls really enjoyed gluing on their feathers and then wearing their headbands.

After I finished with the girls, they went in to play in the nursery and my son and I did an experiment out of his science text using crayon shavings to make a sample of the rock cycle.  We shaved three colors of crayons, making a layered pile of blue, orange and yellow.  Then we used an iron to heat the "rock" layers and partially melt them.  Then we took the partially melted rock and put it in the oven and completely melted the rock, changing it to a liquid swirl of color.  As we read the chapter and did the workbook, the liquid hardened again, making a new "rock".  It was an easy, fun way to understand the cycle that the rocks go through and I have to admit, I had never heard of a rock cycle before and now I know.  

Tomorrow I think I will take advantage of an integrated lesson with the preschoolers and my son and watch the Magic School Bus video about rocks and erosion.  The girls absolutely love the MSB and so does my son and he learns a lot from them.  

Harder Than It Was

Every year, sometimes every day, I say "that's all I can handle!  I can't add any more!" and then I go right ahead and add some more.  I am sure most of us are like that.  We say we have filled every hour of our day, then we add another group, another chore, another job.  You know how it is.  Last year I managed to add to my blog almost every day after our homeschool day had ended and it was very enjoyable for me.  When I look back, I was a busy momma and I didn't have a spare minute.  Now, a year later, I am managing my homeschooling, watching my 3 1/2 year old and 14 month old granddaughters and doing daycare for another child, almost 3 and another baby, 17 months.  There is no "end to my day"!!  It quite chaotic most days, balancing caring for the babies, doing preK activities with the three year olds and doing fourth grade with my homeschooler.  My mother in law has also needed much care and family involvement lately and I have three grown children and a husband who also need me in their lives.  My husband and I are very involved in youth sports, recently finishing our son's football season, and we have signed on again to run our own travel baseball team, as we did with our 21 year old son beginning in January.  My ten year old is starting a junior assistant training program at a local EcoAdventures company and I was sitting here tonight thinking I want to write a preschool curriculum book!  How do any of us, in today's fast paced world, manage to keep up?!  Yet I am happy.  I am currently sitting in front of the fireplace in comfy clothing, watching Dateline shows I have DVR'd and will be in bed before ten.  We do fit it in.  We make it happen.

My blog writing has suffered, even though it is a great pleasure for me to write.  I am humbled to see that even though I have not written in quite some time, I have at least ten and up to fifteen hits each and every day from total strangers.  I love sharing my life with others.  I love the highs and lows that come into my life and then scurry back out again to make room for something else.  I love my four children, each who has their own issues that they need their momma for and being there for them is a large part of the woman that I am.  I have a husband who says he doesn't need anyone, but who depends on me to be there in the background, keeping the home fires burning and his belly full of warm food and his bed full of warm snuggles.  I have two granddaughters, soon to be three granddaughters, that I always want to be there for.  I see them almost every day and they are the light in my day (and the gray in my hair!).  Yesterday I made dessert and put together my granddaughter's big wheel with my older son's girlfriend.  I helped that son with a college report he was working on. Today I saw my mother for a quick visit and talked to my mother in law three times.  I touched base with my sister in law on family issues.  I kept my husband company.  I homeschooled my ten year old.  I watched my granddaughters and daycare child.  I worried about my oldest, who is pregnant with her third daughter and fell down the steps this morning while she went to be monitored at the hospital.  Thankfully she and the baby are fine.  I visited with my younger daughter and enjoyed coffee and Dr. Phil.  I listened to my older son on the phone as he confided in me a sadness that his girlfriend experienced and asked me how to make it right for her.  I loved my dogs, cuddled with my kitty.  I have a full life!!  So I guess blog writing may sometimes take a back seat to life, but my family doesn't ever take a back seat to anything or anyone and my life certainly rarely slows down and is never, ever boring.

So forgive me when time lapses between blog entries.  Know that I am happy, healthy and busy and I will write again soon.  I hope that during that time each of you who blesses me with your presence and reads the posts that I write is also enjoying your life and loving your family.  If you don't already have a blog, I hope you will start one.  It is very relaxing and a wonderful journal to look back on and remember not only what you did, but how you felt.  Leave me a message with the link to your blog and I'll be sure to stop by and say hello.  Happy Holiday Season to all of you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dance Party

Today was definitely a good homeschooling/daycare day.  When Dakota got up, he immediately got dressed and started cleaning out things in his room by choice!  All the kids got dropped off, we had warm chocolate chip muffins for breakfast and then we went out to the deck to enjoy the morning before the predicted rain started a bit later.

The girls wanted me to read to them, so while Dakota read his chapter book, I read fall books, Halloween books and fun books to the preschoolers.  The babies played well for awhile, toddling around us, but when they became a bother I popped them both in for their morning naps.

Inside, the girls made leaf placemats using contact paper and fresh, beautifully colored leaves from the deck.  They loved this and it was super easy!  Next, Dakota supervised Skittles color sorting....a very popular and tasty activity!  Somehow, after that, we ended up having a dance party.  The livingroom was rocking to tunes like Happy and You Know It, Do Your Ears Hang Low and Looby Loo.  Koda and I were being silly and the girls just loved every minute!  This went on for almost an hour and when it was over I put on Dora's Halloween for the girls and gave them an early lunch, since they both looked tired.  Dakota and I got some time to make his totem pole from yesterday's history lesson and then he took 20 minutes to scooter outdoors while I made our lunch.

The rain started in earnest after lunch and we enjoyed learning about different Indian tribes and the links they had to the naming of the states.  We also googled some information on the Great Lakes. We then started what has become our daily game (or two or three) of Yahtzee.   As another storm started in, our neighbor friends yelled for one home and they were getting wet!  Dakota was happy to invite them in and since they had homework, he did not fuss about working on his math for the day.

Tonight we are all inside and lazy.  Dakota has a friend.  Brian David has his girlfriend and the hubby is sleeping the night away in bed.  I am surfing on my computer and then I think I am going to call it an early night, as well.  It's the kind of night that just asks for an early night under the covers, watching TV and reading.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy First Birthday, Rebecca Leigh!

Today my littlest granddaughter (so far!) turned one!  She is a wonderfully sweet little girl, full of giggles and smiles, who adores her mommy and who just started walking a few weeks ago.  She is the spitting image of her mom and a joy to everyone who knows her and she is the light in this Nana's eyes, along with her big sister.

On September 30, 2013 we spent the day in labor and delivery with my daughter and son in law, hoping for a natural birth, but by evening we realized Rebecca was wedged up against my daughter's pelvic bone and was not coming down.  The started the prep for a c-section and one of the OR nurses happened to be a girl I went to school with.  As it was late and there wasn't too much going on, she allowed me to go down to the area just outside the operating room so I could be as close as possible without being IN there.  My daughter and my son in law disappeared behind the doors and I could see in the room, but only the doctor's heads.  At 10:01 I heard the cry and the nurse held and wet and slimy little girl up to the window for me to see.  Just a few minutes later she appeared, clean and swaddled, and the nurse put her in my arms while they finished up with my daughter.

Rebecca Leigh Brown, 6lbs, 5 oz, was alert and gorgeous.  We do make pretty babies in this family, if I do say so myself.  She was a good color, plump and fully formed, wide awake and looking all around.  I stayed with her for two hours while her mom rested and dad made the phone calls to the family.  She and I got to know one another and I told her how much her mommy loved her and wanted to be with her right that second, but was in recovery so her Nana would stand in until mommy was better.  That little girl stayed awake the ENTIRE two hours I was there, well past midnight when I had to finally admit defeat and head home to my own little son.

When I came back the next day, the entire family got to meet her.  I brought big sister Natalie with me, as well as Uncle Dakota, Uncle "Gee" and Poppy.  We all got to hold her and love her and welcome to our lives.

Today we had cupcakes, streamers and a happy birthday song.  We will have a family party on Sunday.  Happy Birthday, sweet little Rebecca!  Nana loves you so very much and I can't wait for all the adventures we will share as you grow up!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Trouble with My Tween

Ah, the years of tweendom and teendom are upon us and I am not happy about it.  My Dakota can be so sweet and loving one minute and mean and dangerously angry the next.  He has always had a swagger and an attitude, but the older he gets, the more I am concerned for the next ten years here in our home.  I want so much for us to maintain a close and loving relationship, but days like today have me fearful of what his teen years may bring.

Today started out as a typical Monday.  He doesn't want to get up.  He doesn't want to get dressed.  He doesn't want to start his schoolwork.  He yawns and mopes, complains and carries on.  Lately, he has begun to talk back, repeatedly speaking on top of me, yelling, stomping, being rude and vindictive.  This has been going on for several weeks and when I keep my composure and ask him to be quiet he simply cannot.  He can not be completely quiet.  He must make a comment, get the last word.  He doesn't hear what I say because he can't stop complaining and carrying on long enough to listen.

I have repeatedly told him that if homeschooling ceases to be fun, we will put him in public school.  He is completely against this, but I fear it may happen sooner than I had planned.  I was at my wit's end by lunchtime today.  It doesn't matter if the work is hard or easy, if we do fun experiments, go on field trips or write a report.  He is lazy and manipulative and does not want to work.  My feeling is that if homeschooling is working and we are enjoying each other, than we will continue, but if it is a constant struggle, it isn't worth it for either of us.  I would be really sad to end this part of my life, as it defines me in so many ways, but this endeavor is supposed to be enhancing my relationship with my son and I don't see that happening most days.

At lunchtime today I decided that we were going to go with a behavior chart.  I made one up, giving him a warning and a consequence, essentially four strikes before he is out.  The first strike is 15 minutes of extra chores before he gets to do his own thing.  The second strike is the chore time and two chapters of a book before he gets to do his own thing.  The third strike is no video games of any sort, but he can watch TV before bed.  His fourth strike is no screens of any sort.  Screen time is what hits home for him and I'll use it if I must to enforce my rules.  At day's end, his father must sign the behavior contract.

Dakota lost his mind when I put the chart up.  He stated this was embarrassing and unfair and he did NOT want this chart up on the door where everyone could see it.  I moved it to the refrigerator and he still was losing it.  We finally put it in a folder, but he would not look at it nor would he let me explain it to him.  He was out of control now and very, very angry.  He quickly got his first two warnings and two strikes.  After about 30 minutes, he calmed down and worked in the kitchen with me making bread dough and doing experiments.  All was well until 3:00 when I told him we were finished and then enforced the consequences.  Wow!  Angry didn't even begin to describe him.  My husband happened to be home and he addressed the issues, but Dakota was rude to him too, which really made my husband unhappy.  Never before, in our almost 30 years of parenting, have we dealt with outright defiance and anger directed specifically at us.  I feel that if we don't control this now, we will be on the losing end of every day in a few short years.

Tonight Dakota wants to act like nothing ever happened.  I am not over it.  It is definitely lingering on my mind.  I feel this is a serious issue and one that is completely new to me.  My daughters would get angry, but they would slam their bedroom doors and turn up their music before letting loose on their anger in private.  My older son was super mellow and sweet and very devoted to me.  I never dealt with anger issues with him.  The youngest has always had a temper and now the hormones are getting involved and it's just getting ugly.  Please say a little prayer for me if you are reading this that my son and I will resolve this issue and our relationship will stay a close one.  I love him so much and I don't want him to be a distant, angry teenager.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Star Spangled Kick Off

I have been waiting all summer for the start of the Star Spangled Sailabration in downtown Baltimore to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.  Today my daughter and I took the kids to Federal Hill for a picnic lunch and to hopefully catch a few of the tall ships coming in to the harbor to celebrate.  Though we only saw one ship and it wasn't terribly impressive, it was a gorgeous day and the kids had a great time playing with friends on the playground, in the grassy fields and looking out over the harbor at all the activity.  The vantage point from up there is breathtaking.

Around 1:00, we packed up and headed to the Science Center across the street.  My friend, Kelly and I took the 5 older kids to the IMAX theater to see Star Spangled Banner on the big screen while my daughter let the little ones play at the dinosaur exhibit.  The IMAX movie was only twenty minutes long, but so well done and very powerful.  The kids were mesmerized by it.  We finally got back to the house around 2:30 and we were all wiped out from the day's activities.

Tomorrow, with any luck, the Blue Angels will repeat their practice plan from two years ago and I will be able to sit in my front yard and watch them buzz through our neighborhood and dip and soar and swoop through the skies.  They are spectacular and I have been so excited for their return!  I also hope to get the kids down to tour the tall ships and Saturday I hope to catch some of the re-enactments at Fort McHenry and see the fireworks that night.  This is Baltimore at it's finest and makes me appreciate living here in ways I don't always do.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dakota!

This is Dakota, my "baby", holding my baby granddaughter, Becca.  Today was his tenth birthday.  I can't believe he's so big!  Let me tell you a little about my boy....he is a tough guy with a tender heart.  Dakota has a quick temper and a smart mouth, but a passion for children and for those he loves.  He is close to his family and loves sports, video games and his nieces.  His love right now is Minecraft and he and I are going to be redoing his room in that theme in the coming weeks.

Today we invited our dearest friends, the Webers, to help us celerate.  Tyler, Evan and Zachary came by at ten and we all went to Shadowland, a great laser tag venue in Columbia, MD, where we met three more families and all eight kids played two rounds of laser tag.  They were loud, excited and sweaty!

After laser tag, two of the families joined the Webers and Dakota and I at Pizza Hut.  The kids had a blast together, talking and eating, while the moms enjoyed some chatting and a bit of quiet at our own table.  One of the many things that is great about homeschooled kids is the ability to easily incorporate kids of every age into their group as their "peers".  Yesterday's group consisted of seven boys, age 6 to 11 and one girl.  No one was left our and everyone was treated the same. 

When we got home I rocked a sick daycare baby in my lap until his mom picked him up then took the birthday boy out to GameStop to spend his birthday money.  He easily did, of course, on two DS Pokemon games, and still needed $3 from mom.  He had to go to football with dad last night and I had to run and pick up a few holds from the library.  I also picked up six novels to read in the next six weeks.  Hahahahahahahaha!!!  I can't find the time to read six novels in a year, but I brought them home anyway.  Dinner was again at 9pm then a little baseball watching in bed before crashing for the night.  Just another day in paradise, lol.
Happy Birthday, Dakota Matthew.  I hope your year of being ten is filled with fun and friends and love and laughter and that you continue to be strong and healthy and kind of heart.  I love you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Too Hot for Fall

This year Baltimore experienced the "summer that wasn't" and I couldn't have been happier.  Cool temperatures and low humidity meant coffee on the deck in the morning and Thursday we got to spend the entire school day out there working.  It was gorgeous.  Labor Day weekend came and now we are stifling.  It's going to be 95 and humid, meaning the kids can't play outside, the dogs can't be outside for more than a minute and my house will heat up quickly if we open and close the doors too often or even keep the blinds open too much.  Looks like sandwiches for lunch and a late dinner.

Today is the last day my youngest will be nine.  We had a party for him Sunday night, complete with Minecraft inspired food items.  He got his own laptop, which really opens up schooling for us.  Currently he has done his morning work and finished his reading assignment.  He is now typing away, doing a book report, and loving his freedom.  He is testing out in Math to see where we start and that should last several school days.  We are also reading these crazy grammar books by Brian P. Cleary.  Today we read How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? and Stroll and Walk, Babble and Talk.  Then we practiced a page each on homonyms and synonyms.

In Science, we checked out our petri dishes from last week that are growing our own personal fungus from our body.  Ewww!  He is recording his findings for that and then growing bread mold.  I hear that different breads grow different color molds and since I currently have several different kinds of breads, we are doing to try on a few of them.  A little more practice in scientific notation will close that out for the day.  History is about the nomads.  We read our chapter, did the vocab and important people and then read You Wouldn't Want to Be a Mammoth Hunter.  I love those books, but last year Koda didn't care for them.  I hope he has grown into them!  A little BrainPop on Digital Media Safety for Technology and Health and vvvwwwaaallla!  Done!

Tomorrow is the big birthday.  We will be celebrating with friends.  No school for us.  Thursday and Friday, however, we will be back on track.  Love, love, love that fall is here....but hoping the summer weather disappears as quickly as it came!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome to 4th Grade

Yesterday and today, August 26 and 27, 2014, we did our first back to school activities, although today was deemed the "first day of 4th grade".  Yesterday my son made his back to school bulletin board, creating a Minecraft creeper and a cool saying.  I love letting him design his own board because it reflects who he is at this time in his life.  We also had already finished Who Is Roald Dahl? and he had started working on High Time for Heroes, a Magic Tree House book.  Both of these books are way too easy for him to read, but he enjoys reading them, so they were a nice starting point.  We also made up the agar for his Bacteria and Fungus chemistry unit.  He is really looking forward to doing lots of experiments.

Today, after our traditional chocolate chip muffins hot from the oven tradition, he started off with his morning work, which encompasses a lot of language arts.  There is reading comprehension, writing and grammar included.  He is starting a new year long project about following directions, hoping to improve his skills in that area.  We moved outside to our deck and read a Magic School Bus book on Kitchen Chemistry and then he decided that he couldn't have a first day without a MSB video.  He invited the preschoolers in to watch with him and they had popcorn (of course!) and watched the video quietly.  Back outside, Dakota read his High Time for Heroes book while I made pirate treasure boxes with the girls.  The loved decorating their boxes and then looking inside to find a treasure map, a mini beach ball, lots of beads and bracelets, a pirate eye patch and a rubber pirate duckie, along with some gold coins!

We came back inside and got out the Bacteria and Fungi kit we have and his Science Journal.  He's much better and the scientific formula this year and we did two experiments and got both of them into the journal.  He collected bacteria and fungi from his tongue, arm, hair and between his toes (ewww) and also made samples for a dirty finger and a clean, freshly soaped and rinsed finger.  We are to make observations and notations over the next twelve days.  He followed that up with two timed math drills, put together his USA puzzle and we called it a half day around 12:30.  His attitude was fantastic.  We kept things calm and low key and I really enjoyed his morning.  Here's to another one just like it tomorrow!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Winds Down

Today is the beginning of the end of summer around here.  Two more weeks of summer camp left  here at our house and then back to school for the bigger kids and daycare routine for the younger kids.  I have been getting Dakota's 4th grade work ready to go for the past few months, but I have made serious progress in the last week as the pressure to get it all organized sets in.  He is doing A History of Us this year and I am very excited about it.  I have gone through book one and there is an activity there for every day that I think he will enjoy.  He will start health with recognizing behavior patterns and how to control his behavior, something he desperately needs.  Claude Monet will be our artist to study.  Math is all set with the Abeka curriculum and there is the latest Magic Tree House book to read, although it's too easy for him at this point.  He loves those stories and there is a fact book with this one that we can use to build on it.

Today he and his friend that is here did some cartooning, played three games of Elimination, a dice game, and spent the better part of an hour making minecraft faces with perler beads.  They joined the little ones outside for awhile and laid on the blanket reading.  He's started reading Who Is Roald Dahl and I am hoping it catches his attention, since he has really enjoyed all the Roald Dahl books he has read.

This afternoon all is quiet as the kids either nap or watch a movie.  Marmaduke has them all engaged and 5 of the 6 little ones are napping while the last one valiantly fights with his eyelids to try and stay awake.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

And The Gang's All Here

This week we have all 5 of our "big kid" summer campers. Four of them are "tweens" now and it's interesting to have watched the dynamics change between them. I have had them almost every summer since they were 5 or so.  Now they are turning 10 and 12 this year and everything is changing.  They aren't as in to crafts, but seem more in to "school work".  They can go to classes alone while I walk around and shop or choose books at the library.  They want, above all else, to be on their electronic devices, whether it be a Kindle Fire, an Ipod, an Iphone or a video game.  The have images to protect...and that image is far different for each one.

Dakota, my son, is the cool dude.  He is cautious about things that might make him look "stupid".  He feels the need to complain even when he doesn't really mean it.  Wyatt, he's the one to stir the pot.  He likes to test the others to see if they are on their toes.  Mariah, she's the little mommy.  She wants most to be able to help with the babies we watch and when she is with the others, she oversees them all and helps whomever needs it.  Lindsey....I've watched her since she was 9 months old.  She is turning 12 this year and she has become much less bubbly and outgoing, choosing rather to look sullen and withdrawn.  She is quiet, but always listening and never a behavior problem.  She is having fun...but doesn't want anyone to know.  Then there is my little Hailee.  She is almost 7 and since the other two kids her age aren't here yet, she has to choose whether to be a "big kid" or a "little kid".  She is doing a good job balancing between the two and tries really hard when she is being a big kid.

So this week we started off with a craft class at Michael's.  They worked on aviation crafts and were all in a good mood when I picked them up.  We had ten kids that day, my daughter and I, between the age of nine months eleven years, yet it went very smoothly.  We fed the younger kids quickly when I got the older home and put the little ones in for a nap, then took the older kids outside and fired up the grill.  We had burgers, hot dogs and chips and since the weather was glorious, we stayed outside and they had the first meeting of their Narnia series book club.  They worked together, discussing things, reading two chapters and doing some worksheets and a crossword puzzle.  No one seemed miserable and with this group, for that you can be thankful!!  By the time we were finished there, the littles were waking up and everyone did their own thing until parents picked them up.

Tuesday all of the children except for the two babies and one preschooler who can't sit still went with me to the $1 summer movie to see Turbo.  We took snacks and drinks that I handed out before the movie and even though it was the first time at a movie for my 4 year old cousin and my 2 1/2 year old daycare baby, they all did fantastic.  I didn't even have to take any of them to the bathroom!  They all sat perfectly quiet and still and watched that whole darned movie!  I was impressed.

When we got home, my daughter made grilled cheese or pb&j for the masses and then they did their book club again.  It was too hot to go outside, but we managed just fine with everyone indoors.

Today we went to the library first thing for a Science, Books and Movement storytime for the preschoolers.  The babies were in a stroller and the big kids worked together on a library scavenger hunt that took them into different sections of the library and taught them about looking up materials based on a topic or a genre.  They did a great job and I think they all learned something.  We came home from there and it was a bit of a disaster, with my 3 year old granddaughter having a meltdown that wore on everyone.  I sent them all into rooms to play until I got three boxes of macaroni and cheese whipped up, then called them all in and fed them.  Afterward, they played Uno for almost and hour and then my daughter took over and did Chapter 4 of the book club with them and they did a project.  At 3:45, I took the older ones to a Lego Club at the Lansdowne library and my daughter worked on name and number recognition here at the house.  It ended up being a bit of an early day, with everyone gone by 5:15.  That doesn't happen much anymore!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Let the Summer Fun Begin!

Whew!  What a fun week we had!  Dakota and I took a mother/son daytrip to Kings Dominion in Virginia on Monday.  We watched the BMX show, rode some rides, played some games and went to the water park.  Koda got a Bulls basketball and won a Mario stuffed doll.  We had another great mom/son experience and I loved the talking in the van on the ride down. He is his most wonderful self when it's just the two of us and I really enjoy him!

Tuesday we both needed a do nothing day.  I had the daycare kids, but we planned little and spend the day relaxing.  I let Dakota hang out in his room watching TV and playing video games all day and then we hung out together Tuesday night having dinner and watching baseball.

Wednesday we did normal daycamp things like playing board games, drawing and hanging outside.  We also dyed popcorn kernals for our craft on Friday and he went over his friends house to play basketball.

Thursday we took a daytrip to Nottingham, Pennsylvania with all the kids and did the Herr's Factory Tour.  We got to see how pretzels and potato chips were made then after buying a bunch of different kinds of chips in the store, we all went to a very nice park nearby for a picnic lunch and to let everyone get out some of their excess energy for the ride home.  We rode them by a pond to see the geese and were surprised by a deer who ran out in front of us.  Everyone had a great time and by the time they all woke up from naps my daycare day was over.

Friday was my husband's 45th birthday.  After taking the older kids to Michael's for a craft class, I took him to lunch at Olive Garden and then napped holding my 8 month old granddaughter in my arms.  Doesn't get better than that!  Then the hubby and I went to an Oriole's game, just the two of us.  We had great seats, laughed together and ate lots of food...well I did!  Hot dog, funnel cake, ice cream and a margarita!!  Looking forward to a fun Saturday with friends and a sleepover with our granddaughters.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

All's Quiet

Today I just didn't have it in me after such a hectic start to the week to do much, so the three daycare kids I had, along with my son, did a whole lot of nothing.  The older two hung out, played on their tablets and played a game.  The younger two just played with toys in the playroom.  This all gave my older son and I time for a heart to heart and then it was nuggets and macaroni for everyone and naps for the littles.

When the younger ones went off to sleep, Dakota and Mariah and I sat around talking about Mother Goose rhymes and I recited many of them for the kids.  They then went out to the table and we did a written scavenger hunt that asked questions about the rhymes such as "what did the dish do in Hickory, Dickory, Dock?"  When they were finished, we went over poetic rhyme schemes for quatrains, reviewing for Dakota and teaching the concept to Mariah.  When they had it down and we did a practice few together, I turned them loose to come up with their own poem and put it in a Mother Goose template.  After that, the two of them worked hard together on a cryptogram type puzzle featuring Mother Goose rhymes and then they did their timed math quiz.

Their last assignment for the day was to come up with a nursery rhyme to teach to the preschoolers tomorrow and then come up with a craft to go with it.  Mariah chose Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary and is making a bouquet of paper flowers.  Dakota is doing Simple Simon and he is having the kids make a pretend fruit pie with a paper plate, markers and paint daubers.  I was proud of the effort they both put into it.

Now, here I am, in a quiet, mostly empty house at 5:30.  My little son is in his room, the pets are sleeping, hubby is at college and the older boy is playing basketball at college with a friend.  I so needed a day like this!  I am hoping for fair and cooler weather tomorrow so we can all get some outside time and some much needed vitamin D!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wacky Wednesday

We continued our busy first week of summer with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese with all the kids today.  We had two babies, 3 preschoolers and 2 almost ten year olds.  We thought that they opened at 10am, but when we got there, we found that they now open at 11.  So we improvised and took a group field trip to Petco next door and spend 45 minutes looking at the cats, guinea pigs and mice.  We even got to pet a very large iguana that a man brought in.  The last fifteen minutes were spent singing the Ants Go Marching and playing London Bridge until the employee finally took mercy on us and let us in.  We ordered pizza and tokens with our gift cards and spent the next 90 minutes having fun and not spending a dime of our own money.  Excellent!  The kids even got to parade behind Chuck E. Cheese himself and got a group picture with him.

After getting home and getting the little ones in for a nap, I took the older two to the Arbutus Library and got them into their Nanoscience class.  They did some experiments, learned about some cool things and made a craft while I peacefully looked at books and was able to think whole thoughts without interruption.

A snowball on the way and a quick stop in Dollar General for essentials and then we were home for the end of the day chaos.  Then, once again, I had to take my daughter and granddaughters home.  Her car is down with bad breaks and I don't mind actually, but by the time I get home it's 7 and I'm wiped out and have to get dinner and then when I try to sit down to get something done on the computer or with my lesson planning, my eyes are gritty and I'm falling asleep.  And tomorrow will be the same.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unexpected Time Off

Today I thought that we would have a full house, but for one reason or another, I only had my son here and one baby boy.  We met my daughter and her friend and their 4 kids for a free movie in Arbutus, where my little granddaughter told me for the very first time that she loved me without me saying it first.  Usually I say "I love you, Natalie!" and she answers with a hug and "I wuf you , Nana!", but today when she got to the movie she snuggled into my lap and hugged me and told me first.  That little girl melts my heart!  She only made it through an hour of the movie before she got antsy, so we walked and talked and then went and cooled down the van for the others.  I am so lucky to be able to see her almost every day and to be able to watch her grow.

Now the house is quiet.  No preschoolers waking from naps or gradeschoolers doing packets.  There won't be the shriek of kids splashing in the slip and slide, but only the sound of the swing rocking the baby boys as he naps and the quiet hum of the air conditioner running full throttle on this 95 degree summer day.  I can live with that!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hitting the Ground Running

Today was an incredibly busy Monday.  I got my usual daycare baby at 7am and then got the house ready for the other daycare kids and the things ready for my summer campers.  We did breakfast at 9:15 and I left the house with the oldest two at 9:40 to take them to the craft class at Michaels Craft Store.  They were the only two since school is still in around that area, but they worked on the layers of the Earth, dinosaur fossils and fossils with clay.  Afterward, we stopped by the library to pick up a few books and then got a soda and headed home.

When we got home I put more water in the water table for the preschoolers and the babies were being fed.  The older two watched a show and then everyone had lunch.  We got the preschoolers and babies down for a nap and then it was time to start our weekly unit with the older kids.  We started a unit from History's Mysteries about Mother Goose.  We had a discussion about who Mother Goose actually was and I told them about the theories people have on who she may have been, if anyone real.  They thought learning about Mother Goose was for babies originally, but we moved from this discussion to asking questions about certain Mother Goose rhymes.  They both seemed to have forgotten all of them!  So they spent 20 minutes reading back and forth to each other from a Mother Goose book and then I left them with my daughter to work on naming the rhyme games while I picked up a friend and headed to a local hotel that was doing an Abeka Curriculum Fair.  I bought my son's math and spelling while my friend looked at what she needed then got her home and went back to the zoo....I mean house ;-).  The kids were now up and everyone wanted to get out the slip and slide.  Another friend came over with her four kids and they all suited up and had tons of fun on the slip and slide until it was time for everyone to go home.  I think it was a successful day, but this momma/nana/daycare provider is TIRED!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I'm Back!

I am not sure how three months have passed me by without adding a new post, but I'm back and going to try to keep things going again.  Life is very, very busy.  Dakota has finished grade 3 and had a week's break before "summer camp" begins tomorrow.  Summer camp here is when his cousin and a few friends come during the week for me to watch and we have a schedule with a weekly theme, fun classes and field trips, a daily schedule, educational packets, free movies at the theater, library trips galore, daily board games, daily outdoor time and whatever else we can squeeze in.  All this while running a daycare here at the house with my daughter that includes a 12 months old, an 8 month old, a two year old, three three year olds and two four year olds.  We are a busy, loving, chaotic mess, but we have fun and we work hard to keep the kids happy and busy.

Last week we did the letter M with the daycare kids.  They were monkeys jumping on the bed, singing their favorite rhyme, they made M mountains capped with snow, dot painted a paper mosaic cookie with mini marshmallow dotters to make the chips after reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and made moose bag puppets and did a directional letter m workbook after reading If You Give a Moose a Muffin.  We took a trip to the kids room at the Maryland Science Center, played on the deck and put up the water table, jumped on the trampoline and rode scooters.  Whew!  Busy!

Now, after a nice day downtown with my young son on Saturday visiting the observatory and planetarium and the Babe Ruth Museum and a fun day for dad and the boys at the Oriole game, we are ready to face another week.  There are craft classes, a free movie, storytime times two at the library, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, dinner at my moms, All Star practice and an All Star game to get through.  I am already looking forward to next weekend!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wet and Wild Saturday

Well, for once, it was pouring down rain, but not snowing.  It's been a long, wet, cold winter here in the Mid Atlantic.  Saturday was a day for doing nothing but laying around in your pj's, but that we had to save for Sunday.  Up and moving, my husband went to work and the boys and I had a short period of down time before we went to lunch together at Pizza Hut and then went over to Terrance West's signing at Mancave Memorabilia in Glen Burnie.  We got our tickets, did a little shopping and precisely at 2pm, Towson University's star running back came in and starting signing autographs and talking to the fans.  He is going into the NFL draft this year and he is expected to do very well.

My husband had gone to "crunch some numbers" on a new vehicle we are going to purchase.  We are torn between the sporty Ford Explorer and the super efficient, mom friendly Honda Odyssey.  When he came to pick us up, it was still pouring!  We headed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the shore for our first arena football game of the season and got Dakota dressed and ready to go.  They warmed up a bit between downpours and then we played our game, losing eventually 14-6.  Afterward, we went with two other family's to Harris's, a fabulous seafood restaurant on the water near the bridge.  Usually there is not only good food, but a great view.  Unfortunately, all we got was the good food because the view was wet and soggy.  My filet minon was to die for and my husband said the same for his crabcakes.  Dakota ordered two kids meals and ate all of them both!

The drive home for me was less than fun.  I do not like to drive at night or in the rain and it was 9:30pm and pouring buckets.  It took us twice as long as normal to get home, but after a quick stop at the store to get a few things we would need for Sunday, we made it home safely, stripping right out of our wet clothes and into our pajamas.  Sunday promises to be just as wet, but that's okay because this woman is going to stay right in her recliner ALLLLLL day!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dr. Seuss Fun

 I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan and I love to have fun with all the craziness that his books present to us.  Yesterday I read The Cat in the Hat to the two year olds in my life and we made adorable paper plate masks.  Today I taught Dr. Seuss at my co-op for the 5-9 year olds.  I talked to them about who Dr. Seuss was and the process he used to write his books.  We read Green Eggs and Ham, with the kids shouting out the rhymes, and talked about how Dr. Seuss only used 50 words to write the whole book.  We read There's A Wocket In My Pocket and created our own creatures using our imagination.  We tried to do all kinds of silly things like rolling our tongue, wiggling our ears, barking like a dog etc and then we tried to do them all with a book balanced on our head.  Then we tried to say the alphabet backwards...a much tougher task than I originally imagined. 

After we settled back down, we talked about character traits and wrote a short blurb as a reflection of ourselves before putting away our work and playing a game of Drs. Seuss bingo.  Bingo is always a warmly received activity with these kids and the game went very quickly, with each of them winning eventually and getting to pick a quirky prize.  For the big finale, I let them watch the Cat in the Hat movie.  They enjoyed the downtime and so did I!

Tomorrow, I think, the little ones and I will tackle If I Ran A Zoo, since the zoo animals I brought up from the basement are such a hit.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Just When I Thought .....

Just when I thought things couldn't get any busier, once again they did!  We are officially finished with our "lazy" months of winter and I believe (and hope) that we just had our last official snow day of this cold, wet winter.  Schedules have been way off and schools have been closed for at least a day almost every week since Christmas. 

Monday started out another snowy week and I only had one baby for daycare, a new little nine month old boy.  It was nice that my husband and I got to hang out in the livingroom working and watching him, all of us getting to know one another in a relatively quiet house.  I gave my homeschooler his snow day off and told him to be prepared for a busy Tuesday.

Tuesday dawned extremely icy and once again, schools were closed.  I did have the 9 month old, but he came late.  My own son was up and dressed and ready for school by 9am.  We did his morning work, took his spelling pre-test and got math out of the way.  Then we worked on letter writing skills and filling out envelopes as we wrote one form letter that we copied 30 times to send to each one of the baseball teams in Major League Baseball.  Our hope is that by letting them know we are studying baseball for the month of March that they will send us information and goodies in the mail.  I have done this with my older son with wonderful results. 

After we finished stuffing and stamping our letters and taking them out to the mailbox, we got started on our unit study.  It is called Baseball and it's by Amanda Bennett.  She comes up with fun, family oriented unit studies that she sells inexpensively on her site.  I highly recommend that you take a look and consider one for your family.

We got started and using our Baseball Journal, which is a spiral notebook, my son copied the quote of the day and then looked up the vocabulary words of the day in the dictionary.  This is great practice!  Afterward, I let my son do the first half independently, clicking on the links provided by the site to answer questions about Babe Ruth.  We have learned a great deal about our hometown boy already, so this was very easy for him.  When he was through, we sat together with my computer and learned about the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, answering questions about Opening Day, their mascot and their venue. 

When we had finished our unit study for the day, we stayed on the computer a bit and watched a few Youtube videos about the making of pencils and erasers.  When my son has questions about how things are made, I have found that the videos we find there are interesting, short and educational. 

My daughter dropped in to visit and I decided my homeschooler had accomplished enough for the day.  He went in to play while she and I visited after she put my granddaughters in for a nap.  We are opening a licensed daycare together this summer and we have an endless supply of ideas to share. 

Around 5pm, everyone had gone home and my husband had gone off for his night at college.  I relaxed a bit, made dinner for the boys and watched Parental Guidance with my little son.  I love how this movie is comical, but so heartwarming.  My husband and I turned in early, knowing that Wednesday would be busy and there were not going to be any delays to our day this time!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

My family has been having a lot of fun with the winter Olympics.  We are using a unit study by Amanda Bennett and it has day by day activities that let us include language arts, vocabulary, research, history and more.  Today we watched a video from the viewpoint of a train passenger going through Siberia then learned about Freestyle Skiing and some of the competitors in that sport.  We found out that this was first introduced in 1988.  After watching the videos and answering some questions, we looked up the four daily vocabulary words in the dictionary and my son also wrote down the quote of the day.  We found some more articles and pictures in magazines and newspapers and cut them out and put them in our Winter Games 2014 notebook too.  Then for art, my son made a huge wall chart with 8 different countries, drawing and coloring their flags, and making columns for gold, silver and bronze medals.  We added the tally marks for how many medals those countries have won so far and will add the tally marks each day.

These activities have been lots of fun and they have really piqued my son's interest in the Olympic games.  His favorite sports is the new Slope Style Skiing and he has watched all the heats for both men and women and watched the finals.  We have watched some skating together, both speed skating and individual routines, but this isn't something he is really interested in.  Tomorrow, I believe, the bobsled's start and we have already learned about them in our unit and watched a few videos and my son is ready to cheer on the USA teams to victory.

Amanda Bennett has many good weekly and month long unit studies for kids, especially good for homeschoolers, but useful for parents who want to do somethings with their kids in the evening too.  You can look at them at  We have bought the Winter Olympics and are currently doing that one, but I also have the Baseball and Football units ready to go and I recently bought a pack of 7 countries to do in our geography unit starting in March.  They are so much fun and they are easy, while still be very challenging and educational.  I love them!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Making the Most of a Friday

Today my alarm did not go off, but thankfully I woke up on my own at 7:15.  I got in the shower and made coffee, put in the laundry and welcomed my daycare baby.  From 8-9:30 I proofread my work for my company and made corrections, did more laundry and then my son, daycare baby and I met my daughter and granddaughter for a morning at Disney on Ice in the city.  We rode the train and got there in plenty of time to get the girls a fun light and find our seats, which were fantastic and only two rows off the ice.

The kids all enjoyed the show, which I agree was good, but not their best.  The fall productions are always better.  We got to see my niece and great nephew there and a few friends.  When the program was over, the little ones even got to go close to the ice and see the characters, wave and high five.

We cut it close getting home and heading right back out to our class at Chelonia Ecoadventures.  We were ten minutes late, but they hadn't started yet, so Dakota didn't miss anything.  They learned about dolphins today and the care they get, all done by play acting.  The little girl who was the dolphin did a particularly awesome job!

When we got home, I did some chores and finally got everything off my old computer and set it back to the original factory condition.  The good thing about that was that the WiFi had stopped working months ago and it had gotten very slow, but after resetting it, the WiFi worked again and it was quite speedy!

For dinner I made the younger son a homemade chocolate chip waffle, his request, and the older son and I had spaghetti, per his request.  My husband was working "trouble" work today for BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric) after our ice storm up north on Wednesday.

I finally settled down for the evening with my computer and of course, way too soon, my eyes are gritty and tired.  The opening ceremonies for the Olympics are on and we watched them as a family, but now that the USA has gone through the parade, I think I'll tape the rest and head into bed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Waiting on the Night

Yesterday was so crazy busy, right up until the time that I closed my eyes at 10pm, that I could only get through today by looking ahead to 5pm when I would have a few blessed hours of down time.  I had to get up very early to get my daycare baby in at 6:30, then drank my coffee, stripped my bed, saw my son off to college, took a shower, got things ready for the day in the girls' room, made chocolate chip muffins then took my M/T daycare child to school, drop off my younger daughter at work, come back and meet my older daughter with my granddaughters, feed everyone then get school work started!  All before 9:30!!

The girls were playing very well today and Dakota and I started our day watching Olympic short videos on Comcast about some of the athletes and sports.  He is getting very interested in the upcoming events!  Then he went into the diningroom and pulled up the writings he is working on at his computer and when he was finished two of them and ready to save the third, we proofed and edited them and printed the finished products.  We came into the livingroom and played a round of Renaissance Go Fish and then began the first two parts of Meet the Masters, Paul Cezanne.  Meet the Masters is an excellent program, although initially a little pricey, but you have each set of art lessons and programs for three years.

We took a lunch break and I desperately needed some downtime, so I put the girls to bed and told my son he could have an hour.  I planned to eat and do nothing but relax.  Well, by the time I changed over the laundry, got my infant granddaughter settled, called both Baltimore City and Baltimore County Recycling to find out why my recycling wasn't going to be picked up and got my lunch ready I had a whole 10 minutes to relax!

The afternoon work was done in the livingroom.  Dakota finished his lesson on Simple Machines for Science.  Yesterday it was catapults and levers.  Today it was gears, wheels and axles and pulleys.  He got out a set of gear "blocks" that someone had given us and worked with them for awhile, then we read the text and he did the workbook that went with it.  I am very pleased with Harcourt's Science and I love having the workbook and science experiment ideas.  Dakota watched a video on KhanAcademy about Least Common Multiples and then did the math lesson that went along with that.  KhanAcademy is an awesome program I just found (thanks Kris!) this weekend and I love how it explains the math concept!  Last, but not least, we finished Chapter 30 of Story of the World, learning about how Buddhism began.  Dakota listened to the reading then answered the comprehension questions and did the map work.  Only 9 more chapters for Volume 1 and then we are going to have a little geography fun with countries to finish up third grade.

Now I am sitting next to our new electric fireplace with a glass of wine, playing on my computer and getting ready to watch last week's Ghost Hunters and some other DVR'd programs until my husband comes home.  I so needed a night like this.  Tonight and tomorrow early are supposed to be icy so I am most concerned about getting my men home safely tonight and then we will possibly have a delay of the kids coming tomorrow.  As far as my little son and I, we will be warm and dry, inside, once again praising the joys of homeschooling.  I only wish I had homeschooled all my kids and I really, really wish I never had to stop homeschooling my other son.  There are so many benefits to it and time at home in the winter snuggling with your kids can't be beat.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I Really AM Busy

Being an at home mom and home educator, not to mention a grandmom/daycare provider, doesn't leave you much time during the day to relax.....and I also hold a "real" job that I do at home for a psychology company.  Family and friends, especially family, don't seem to remember that being "at home" is not synonymous for "doing nothing".  My phone rings off the hook and I hesitate to turn it on silent with a college age son driving his commute and two daughters and my husband out in the world who may need help.  My younger daughter stops in during the morning some time for coffee.  That's fine.  I have a daycare child before and after school on Monday/Tuesday and she is hoping for a ride to work on those days so she doesn't have to take the bus.  It's not the best way to start a productive school week, but I can live with it.  My 2 year old daycare baby usually arrives around 8.  Mom is good about dropping her off quickly and being on her way.  My oldest daughter brings her daughters around 8:45 and stays for a quick coffee or bagel.  It's hectic, but I do enjoy when my daughters have time to share their lives with me.  Then there is breakfast for the two toddlers and my 9 year old and the baby to feed, so by the time any sort of normalcy returns it's 9:30.  My older son calls often for a number of important and maybe not so important things.  My mother calls to "check in" and often drops in and this is a huge distraction.  If I don't answer the phone, it's for a reason.  Please don't continue to call and call and call and call and when I answer say "are you home?" or "what are you doing?"  Today I said, exhasperated, "I AM TEACHING!" and she said.....:"oh, so you aren't home?".   YES!  I am a homeschooler!!! If it's between 9 and 3, the odds are I AM TEACHING!  So she says she will be dropping by.  And she does...randomly, right after I get the toddlers down for a nap.  She knocks on the door before she comes in, which sets both dogs to barking, which wakes the baby.  Then she is all over the baby so now the baby is fully awake.  She wants to know why she can't see the toddlers....sleeping....toddlers are asleep at 1 in the afternoon.

So I finally get lunch, feed the baby again and get my son back on track for school in the afternoon.  Then my work calls.....6 times....every 10 minutes.  I work from home on my own schedule!! Stop calling me!  And if I don't answer, the boss calls and chews me out. I need a new job.  And to make it worse, the secretary is rude and condescending.  Then my younger daughter calls to yell and vent that her surgery was not a success and she needs physical therapy and.........and then I am trying to text my husband to find out if his mother has had a stroke and then......all the while, trying to teach.

I am frustrated.  I have worked all day....ALL DAY, and now I have to work all night for my company.  I have tendonitis or something that is causing me wrist pain.  My mind is foggy and sore from thinking so much and mind juggling my life today and I have at least two or three hours of work to do yet and dinner to make.  I don't want to!  And tomorrow I will do it all again.  And again.  And again.

I am busy!! Yes!  I am home!  but I am BUSY!!!  I work!  Hard!!  I am not sitting on the couch eating bonbons with my feet up!!  Give me a break.  Call in the evening.  Manage your own problems.  Don't make problems where there aren't any.  Don't call me to gripe about something I can't fix.  Don't assume that "dropping in" is okay in the middle of the day because I "don't work".  If you only knew.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sick, Sick, Sick

We have had quite the week/ten days with deviations from routine around here.  Snow kept the kids home (my granddaughters and daycare baby) for a few days and then illness kept my granddaughters home the rest of the week.  This weekend it was my turn, something that rarely happens.  I started with regular cold symptoms and by Sunday had a fever, chills and an upset stomach.  I didn't want to spread the germs so I cancelled daycare today, but my oldest granddaughter is still sick, back to the doctors and now diagnosed with pneumonia.  By tomorrow I am thinking I should be fine and her antibiotic is changing so hopefully she will be improving too.

We are schooling today by watching Gladiator for history and beginning a family unit on the Winter Olympics.  Everyone is still in their comfy clothes and the house is quiet as we relax together.  I sincerely hope that neither of my sons nor my husband comes down with this next.  I am ready to get back to school and work and play in normal fashion.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow, Snow and More Snow

Here in Maryland we had a double blizzard, back to back, around 4 years ago and ever since then, we have had pretty dry winters.  We always have these cycles here, so we knew we were due for another snowy season.

It started with lots of little storms in December.  We don't usually get much then.  It had snowed enough by mid January that we weren't surprised to see it, but we had been told over and over that we would get "a lot" and never did.  So as recently as Sunday of this week there was mention of flurries, but nothing else.  When I put the news on Monday morning, however, we were getting a "significant winter weather event" on Tuesday!  Where did that come from?  Sure enough, as the day went on, we were told to expect 6-8" of snow.  I am not sure anyone really believed them, but when the flakes started on time Tuesday morning at 10am, that was one point for the weather forecasters.

As the day wore on, the flakes stayed small, the wind blew and the accumulation mounted.  By 3:30 when my husband had to go out to get our daughters, the roads were bad and by the time he got home at 4:30 there was plenty to play in for him and my younger son and they went sled riding at the park near our house.

We had a quiet indoor day at home, a nice dinner of shrimp linguine and a family card game of Phase 10.  All the while, the snow kept coming.  By bedtime, it was still snowing and this morning, as I watch the news, we did indeed get 7" of snow, along with brutally cold temperatures and a wind chill of -20.  Brrrr!  Looks like another day inside, keeping warm, watching movies and making food.  My sons are in and my husband and I are working from home, so things could definitely be worse.  There is talk of more snow this weekend.  Let it come.  Winter 2014 is shaping up to be a good one!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Homeschool Fun Days

One of the many perks of being a homeschooler here in Maryland is that local businesses have embraced us for the most part and have offered many types of deals and special days for us to enjoy. The Maryland Science Center in downtown Baltimore has three weeks in September devoted to Homeschool Days with quality classes for all ages and opportunities to see the IMAX and Davis Planetarium shows for a discounted rate.  All homeschoolers are free to tour the museum and enjoy the regular exhibits in addition to taking the classes. This year, the Science Center also opened up two weeks in January for us to attend classes and see the exhibits.  This was a great opportunity to liven up an otherwise blah, cold, dreary month.

Wednesday I took my son and granddaughter and our daycare baby into the city and while Dakota attended two classes, one on robots and other on circuits and electricity, the girls and I went up to the kids room and played with all the wonderful hands on exhibits there.  It's blocked off so they cannot get out.  The children there are from zero to eight and there is a special room for the under two crowd.  The girls went under the sea in a pretend submarine and then climbed up over the top to "fish" and steer a boat.  They built with Duplos, played with trains at a train table, got to watch a turtle and fish, play with stuffed animals, magnets and pretend clothes.  We also went back out to the main exhibit and I let them explore the dinosaur area, where they got to sit in dinosaur footprints and dig for fossils.

When we picked Dakota up, he had a drawing that he had entered into a computer and a robot had drawn for him.  In the second class, he made a working LED light with a battery, a paper clip, some plastic tape and a popsicle stick.  They put the little LED light on top, hooked it all up with wire and it worked wonderfully.  He thought this was extremely cool!

On Friday we went back to the Science Center and Dakota took a two hour class on Extremophiles.  Is there alien lifeforms?  They started with a planetarium show followed by independent group work at three exhibits in the center before returning to the classroom.  He really enjoyed this one and afterward we met our friends, the Webers, for lunch and to see some more of the exhibits.  We took a walk around the harbor, stopping outside the Ripleys Believe It or Not museum for a few pictures and then the Weber family joined us at our house for pizza.  Not only did Dakota get some time to play on the trampoline and play video games with the boys, but their mom, Jackie, and I got to sit quietly and share some woman to woman conversation with little interruption.

I am always thankful to be a homeschooler, but when opportunities like the ones we had at the Science Center present themselves

, I am extra grateful that we are able to take advantage of so much educational fun right in our own backyard.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Just Another Day

There wasn't too much today to make it special, but it was an average, ordinary Monday.  I got my granddaughters and both daycare girls, took one to school and got the other three girls and my son fed breakfast and settled.  Dakota got started with a story he wanted to create on the computer.   It's a Mine Craft story and he spent almost an hour typing it and I would go over and help him edit it occasionally, correcting his punctuation and grammar.

After doing his morning work folder and daily prep book, he helped me by making a sample snowman puppet for the girls' craft and then got his math started while I read them their story and we created their craft.  They were in a good mood and willing to do a bit more, so Dakota and I took turns singing with them and doing fingerplays.

While the girls had lunch, Dakota took his spelling pre-test and then headed off for his own lunch break, which lasted quite some time.  By the time I pulled him back, he had been "at lunch" for 90 minutes!  We read I Survived:  Gettysburg from our Kindles first.  We were supposed to read two or three chapters, but ended up reading six.  These books are so well written and they pull the reader in, wanting to know what happens to the young person in the story next.

We read about gladiators again today, carrying on our Story of the World chapter from Friday when we watched a few gladiator videos.  Dakota listened while I read and then answered his comprehension questions and did the simple mapping activity.  For Science, we put in the How It's Made:  Sports DVD again and watched a few more segments before Dad came home and we decided we were finished for the day.

It was a pretty day out...sunny and warmer than it's been in awhile.  I got both toddlers and my infant granddaughter into the double stroller (with my oldest granddaughter riding astride the top!), my son took one dog, I took the other and my husband pushed the stroller with the girls.  We must have been quite the sight!  We walked down through the park to the playground and my husband and I played with the kids, all getting wet bottoms from the slides.  Everyone had fun and I got some great pictures before we piled everyone back in and headed home.  By the time we got in it was time for dinner and basketball and now, after working for a bit while Dakota and Dad watched American Ninja Warriors, I am more than ready for bed.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Weather Advisory

This week has been a crazy week for weather and it has thrown everything off.  On Monday night and all day on Tuesday, many schools were closed due to the intense cold and no one wanted to venture very far from home.  We had the blinds closed and a blanket over our leaky back door to keep the winds outside and not inside!  We were under covers and watching movies, enjoying our time as a family.  I didn't have my daycare baby on Tuesday and then W/Th/F I haven't had my granddaughters.  Wednesday and Thursday weren't bad out, but today we woke to a covering of ice on everything that caused even more school delays and my son in law is just keeping the girls so my daughter has less of a commute in slick conditions.

I am not a winter weather hater....mainly because I am a homeschooler and telecommuter with my job so usually if the weather is bad, I don't have to go anywhere.  I worry about my son commuting to college, but not this month, and my husband and daughters commuting to work.  I am the safe haven in the storm with a warm house, coffee brewing and usually brownies in the oven!

The crazy weather has made for a less than stellar homeschool week, but we have taken it all in stride, starting when we start and finishing up early on most days.  Yesterday my daughter offered to take the toddlers and my son to Chuck E. Cheese in the morning in exchange for my watching my infant granddaughter, so after morning work and math, Dakota spent three hours at Chuck E. Cheese having fun and then just got a little reading done when he came home before dinner and basketball practice.  Today, Daddy was home until 10 so we didn't start til then and we are watching a How It's Made:  Sports video that is pretty amazing.  We have already seen how a football, a football helmet, a mascot uniform, both a metal and wooden bat and a golf club are made, in addition to beer and hot dogs.  I think we will make sure we get our history and science in and finish our Narnia book so we can move on to an I Survived book and a new Magic Tree House book next week.  The boys are going on a dinner date with MomMom this evening and I am having a date with my hubby before we go to watch our oldest son play basketball tonight.  Three more basketball games this weekend for the boys, a Army/Navy game for my three guys Saturday afternoon and a lunch date with my friend will keep us busy.  I also need to find time to do 40 folders for work!  I think I'll start that this afternoon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Going With the Flow

Today was a record cold day here in Maryland and while some schools closed in the northern and southern part of the state, the ones near us all opened and some of them opened two hours late, which was the case for the little girl I take to school on Mondays and Tuesdays.   Why two hours late?  I don't get it.  It didn't get any warmer.  It was 3 degrees at 8:30 and 6 degrees at 10:30 when she had to leave. Thankfully my older son was home to watch my granddaughters and younger son so I didn't have to take them out.

Since we had another child here this morning, I allowed Dakota to watch a movie with her and then they played Disney Infinity.  After she left, Dakota got dressed, made his bed and got his spelling done.  I was hoping for more, but somehow we never got it together and I was making lunch.  My sons decided to play a video game together so we didn't even get back to work until 1:30.  We snuggled up in the chair under a blanket and read together.  We read a kids biography book on George Washington Carver and did a cloze activity using a clipboard.  We read two chapters in our Story of the World book about Roman Gods and Roman roads and then read a book called You Wouldn't Want to be a Roman Soldier that poked fun at the life of the soldier while informing us all about them.  I then got the computer and we talked about aquaducts and what they are used for and how they are different than viaducts, then I asked Dakota to go in to one of his Mine Craft towns and create an aquaduct to bring water to the town.  He loved this assignment and ended up doing a very nice job.

So no Science or Language Arts.  Didn't read Narnia.  Didn't even get to math, but we covered Social Studies, Reading, Technology and History.  Not bad for a very short, unstructured day and we were both feeling relaxed and content at the end of our day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Once a Mother, Always a Mother

On Friday, my twenty year old college sophomore son was driven to Towson's campus on snowy, icy roads by his dad so that he could board one of seven buses that would take over 600 Towson Tiger students to Frisco, Texas to support their football team in their quest to win the FCS Championship game.  I tried to get him to follow a few common sense precautions and tried to get him to take more food than he did, a blanket, medicines.....  My son, however, was nonplussed.  No worries, Mom.  This bus ride won't be that bad.

They departed at 7am and at around 1pm they were in southern Virginia, at a mall, to get something to eat.  He called and was in a good mood, but already tired of riding on the bus.  I have never gone 1300 miles on a bus ONE WAY, but I knew it wasn't going to be too much fun.  Later that evening he was miserable and hungry....not wanting to wait in line to get real food, he opted for a cinnamon roll.  Okay.  Now I know he won't die from a poor nutritional choice, but I wasn't happy!  The next morning he hadn't gotten much sleep and they still had several hours to go.  The worst part, however, was he was feeling sick.  I was pretty sure it was a mixture of motion sickness and that poor nutritional choice!

The bus ride got better for the last hour, with the kids singing and feeling the anticipation of finally arriving after 27 HOURS on the bus.  I was happy for my son and glad he had gotten the opportunity.  Until.....I get a phone call with a frantic son saying he had lost his wallet!  Are you kidding???  He had put it in his pocket on the bus and now it was gone!  Did you look on the bus??  Yes, but now it's locked.  Did you tell the adult in charge?  Yes, but they said you have a ticket for the game and that's all I can do.  Did you keep your money separate from your bank card so I can go and put money on your card?  No mom, it was all together and now I don't have any money and I'm starving and my stomach hurts!!

I was in tears in Walmart where I had been shopping.  No mother ever wants to hear that their child is hungry, especially when they have no money and are in Texas when you are in Maryland!!  I was panicked, but trying to think clearly to give him some options.  He couldn't make any progress and I was feeling so helpless.  I called my husband who said "he won't starve", as did my oldest daughter.  My younger daughter, however, was worried too and we tried to brainstorm ways to get him some money.  Thankfully, a friend lent him enough money to eat.  Phew.  So now I was okay again and happy he was at the game....but he still felt sick and his stomach hurt to walk.  Great.  What if it's his appendix or something and he's in TEXAS for goodness sakes!!

His team got spanked....35-7, and it sure wasn't pretty.  He called me after the game to tell me he really, really felt sick.  What am I to say?  I was so worried that he wouldn't have enough money to eat for the long ride home and then that he would be sick and miserable all the way.  I know he's an adult and I know it wouldn't kill him to be miserable, but I am the type of momma who always fixes things, and I was a nervous wreck because I couldn't fix things for my boy.

When my son got on the bus he was happy...he found his walled and he felt better.  Whew!  I hurried to bed so that I could get some sleep before the next crisis arose.  And it did, the next morning.  He was severely motion sick and very, very miserable. I have been in that position and I know you just about want to die.  Luckily he was at a truck stop where the buses were refueling and I was able to tell him to buy some dramamine.  After that I didn't hear from him for hours and hours.  I worried a bit, but was pretty confident that the meds had knocked him out, which it did.  He called me later in the afternoon and finally, finally, he felt well and was well rested and they were looking forward to getting home.

I was one happy momma when my son finally walked in that door around 11:30pm Sunday night.  He had been gone approximately 64 hours and had spent about 58 of them on a bus.  He slept till noon the next day and then got up looking for food.

I am a mother.  It doesn't matter if it is my 9 year old or my 28 year old....when one of my children is in trouble, sick, unhappy or whatever the problem may be, my heart breaks, my stomach twists and my nerves are on end.  I don't see that changing any time soon.  They are my babies, big or small.  I love them with a ferociousness that is unmatched by the most fierce of beasts.  Thankfully they are all healthy and pretty free of serious drama because I don't know if I could survive anything really big!