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!

Friday, January 3, 2014

One School Day!

Yesterday we were all ready to dive back into school and had a very productive day, despite my youngest granddaughter's arrival and quick departure when we discovered she had a stomach bug.  I have made Dakota a work station at the desk in our diningroom with my old laptop set up there for him and room for him to have his supplies there or he can easily turn around and sit at the table and work with a little more room.

Today's special was, of course, Happy New Year and he learned quickly to say Happy New Year in sign language.  His morning work was online, at, where he journaled about his wishes for the year.  Then he created a Biography Poem from and typed and printed it before visiting to make a personal description Wordle.  This is a fantastic, fun site that I recommend you visit with your child.  Even by yourself, it's great fun!

Continuing with our 2014 trend to incorporate more computer/technology into our homeschooling, Dakota was able to get his Kindle Fire and play the Creating Olympus game to review his Greek Myth class information.  He told me this wasn't a great game, but he played for almost 30 minutes, so it couldn't have been too bad.  I had to hear a lot of grief when it was time for math, but he did well with his Greatest Common Factors lesson and then we took a break for lunch.

Lunch was son wanted hot dogs and macaroni, Dakota wanted grilled cheese, daycare baby agreed to the hot dogs and granddaughter wanted "chickie nuggets".  I just wanted to eat!  Got everyone fed and the littles down for a nap and Dakota got 45 minutes to eat and do what he wanted before we implemented another new idea....the reading box.  I have been trying to get him to read more and I have noticed that if I leave his magazine or other interesting things out, he will often pick them up on his own, so I made a box with a National Geographic Kids magazine and a few shorter books that correspond to our lessons. After lunch, while he is still comfy on his bed, he has 30 minutes to read anything in the box.  He complained A LOT, in typical Dakota fashion, but he settled in and read his NGKids and called me in to share some of the more interesting articles.

Our afternoon consisted of partner reading Chapter 10 of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and then doing our first lesson in our Forces and Motion unit in Science.  This did not go well, as we didn't start it until 2:00 and Dakota is a terrible afternoon worker.   We muddled through it and I left him to work independently on the graphic organizer for an expository writing piece because I was tired of hearing him grumble.  He did take to the project we had....making a marble maze.  He cut the straws and glued them down and we put a small ball inside and it worked like a charm.

After school and dinner we got an unexpected night off, as the snow that was predicted started to fall quickly, with beautiful fat, fluffy flakes.  We all spent some time hanging out in the livingroom and Dakota also did some painting on the birdhouse he built the night before and discovered the wonders of Spirograph from some pieces a friend sent over the other day.  I do like that he seems to be keeping himself busy lately with things other than video games.  We have been playing alot of Phase 10, a card game, and he has been more willing to do some creative things.  I would like him to be a little more independent, but I am working on that.