Friday, October 30, 2009
I called Tim, "Today is Maggie's birthday!" "Oh no." I sat down with her on the steps and proposed an alternative, "You can go to ballet tonight and we can celebrate your birthday tomorrow with pizza and presents. How about that?" "Sure!" I swear that she should get extra gifts for being so agreeable, but then she already is my most polite and cheerful child in the bunch.
Happy Birthday again my sweet Maggie Mae.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
My original list of 23 "must-see" Washington, DC sites has been worked over and now only contains 7 places we haven't seen yet. There are a few that I want to revisit such as Mount Vernon (especially since I bought season passes) and the National Zoo. While I'm not as eager to jump on the METRO as I was last year (I don't have quite enough hands with another child in tow to feel safe), my sense of perseverance will require us to check off every last cultural/historical destination deemed educational. We still have 2 years left on this tour, but I'm the type who doesn't like to let commitments dangle, be it thank you notes, school assignments, or my own hastily scribbled "want to see while in DC" list.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
First we started off very late due to a long day yesterday tromping around the fields at my sister-in-law's house. Then I got the not-so-brilliant idea of making BBQ. From scratch. Making my own dry rub. In the blender.
As Cayenne pepper odor drifted over the tops of the kid's cereal bowls the phone rang. It was Tim telling me to expect his old friend from college and family for supper. Now, Tim's idea of entertaining is buying an extra box of pizza from the local shop so I don't really have to stress, but I do like a clean (and clean smelling) house.
It got worse. In quick succession the baby woken up from her nap and began screaming in her crib, Mary informed me that a wire in her braces was broken, and Timmy pooped in his underpants. There were 3 loads of laundry that must be washed and folded. I had to pick up all the playdoh that has been mashed into the rugs. School is cancelled for the day. Mary got Timmy dressed, Will is reading to the little ones, Maggie is vacuuming the stairs, and I am waiting for the floors to dry after a good scouring with citrus cleaner. We also have Maggie's first piano lesson and Mary's ballet class to squeeze in this afternoon. Hopefully we can get to the orthodontist by 11:45, the house will air out, and I can manage to make sure we have plenty of drink and salad to go with la gourmet pizza.
An anniversary trip to Bermuda sans children doesn't sound too bad right now.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Exposing the children to a "print-rich environment" and giving them a "literary-filled childhood" is pretty simple, especially since I need to renew my own bedside stash on a weekly basis. And while I do like to read to the little ones (as long as it is not re-reading Spooky Old Tree for the 800th time), there are few things sweeter to witness in this world than a big girl reading to her much younger brothers.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
One of the great benefits of educating our own children is the ability to be free of the standard school calendar. Our family takes advantage of this by spending 16 weeks each summer in Maine. I want to share the beauties of our adopted state with some snapshots and fun facts.
Maine is a land of forests and shore. The tides rise and fall about 8 feet so there is a stark contrast between low and high tide so even little children can tell the difference and can figure out scientifically if the tide is coming in or going out. (Hint, look at boats on their moorings to tell which way they are being pulled)
Tom DeRosa presents The Very Exact Science of Guessing posted at I Want to Teach Forever.
Carol J. Alexander presents a neat way to teach the value of 100 in Place Value Game posted at Everything Home...with Carol.
Barbara Williams presents 100 Useful College Tools for Homeschoolers posted at Online Degree Programs.org.
Shakira Dawn presents The World’s 10 Weirdest College Campuses: Crazy University Architecture posted at College Stats.org.
Maine has many potato farms and blueberry barrens. We visit a local farm in August and buy quarts of berries to freeze for pancakes, muffins, and bread. The pickers only work in the early morning to not bruise the fruit and use blueberry rakes as it would take hours to handpick each tiny berry off one bush. Local teens can earn up to $300 a day raking but it is hard work.
Many of the towns along the coast have lobster pounds where lobstermen sell their catch and folks can eat a boiled dinner on picnic tables. Some partake off of plastic trays and drink cold soda while others prefer unpacking elaborate baskets filled with china, hors d'oeuvres, and bottles of wine. Since I’m the only member of our family who likes lobster I splurge and get two!
Angela Mills presents Tea for Two: The discipleship of your sons and daughters posted at Angela Mills.
Michelle scores big at the library with one of my favorite Maine storybooks Blueberries For Sal with Book Review Bonanza Part III posted at Rosetta Stone.
Dave Roller presents Apple Butter Day posted at Home School Dad.
Christina presents Canadian Thanksgiving posted at Lesson Pathways Blog.
The beauty of Maine is legendary in coffee table books as well as children’s picture books. Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine features a family who summer on Little Deer Isle and go into Buck’s Harbor for groceries and an ice cream cone. While driving through I indeed saw a sign for Condon's Garage.
John Mastro presents The Educational Benefits of Audiobooks and Children’s Learning posted at got audiobooks?.
Dana presents Treasures from the library book sale posted at Principled Discovery.
Jeanne shares her favorite children's books at Books and Brownies.
Cristina shows what many homeschooling families (including mine) look like at the library in Home Spun comic strip #403 posted at Home Spun Juggling.
Mrs. White presents Mama and John's Bible Plan posted at The Legacy of Home.
Kaitlyn Cole presents 25 Speed Reading Secrets Every Student Should Know (for required, not pleasure reading) posted at Online Colleges.net.
Amber presents Book Review: Five Little Peppers posted at The Mommy Earth.
There are dozens of picturesque towns along the coast like Belfast, a mecca for art lovers and sailors.
Carlotta gives us some great reasons her kids thrive on textbooks at Successful Homeschooling.
Sarah presents Studying Art posted at SmallWorld.
Henry Cate ponders on how homeschooling saves souls in the wonderful recovery of his developmentally delayed son at Why Homeschool.
Annette Berlin presents 10 Easy-To-Craft Educational Toys posted at Craft Stew.
Rachel Lynette presents Make a Soma Cube posted at Minds in Bloom.
Fall is the most beautiful time of year in New England with the trees turning into torches of red, orange, and yellow.
Kim Kautzer presents Fall- and Thanksgiving-themed word banks posted at In Our Write Minds.
Rose presents Halloween Stencils: Adorable Scarecrow posted at Fine Craft Guild .com.
Jennifer presents Fire Safety Unit Study posted at schooling memoirs.
A hike up to the top of Mount Battie shows a majestic panorama of islands dotting the Penobscot Bay.
There are not many homeschoolers in Maine and only one store dedicated to them located in the lovely town of Hope.
Alasandra presents Nominees for Best Homeschool Blog 2009 posted at Alasandra's Homeschool Blog Awards.
Susan presents Corn and Oil » A Narrow, Homogeneous Life? Not for Homeschoolers posted at Corn and Oil.
Barbara Frank shares a story of love despite adversity in Jaycee Dugard Homeschool Mom at Barbara Frank Online.
Patti presents A Few Favorite Online Resources for Lesson Planning and Worksheets posted at Indie Education.
Laura presents Montessori Pink Level Available for Free posted at Practical Homeschooling.
Amy LeForge presents Fun For Your Friday posted at Earnest Parenting.
Erin Manning gives us some reasons why so many Catholic parents are homeschooling in What's Wrong With Catholic Schools, posted at And Sometimes Tea.
With the long winters and short summers, folks here get together often for public suppers, grange events, and town festivals. Homeschoolers tend to host picnics and playdates at the pond for socializing and swapping curriculum ideas.
Stacie Young presents 50 Excellent Blogs About Education Reform posted at Online Schools.
Lara DeHaven presents A Not-So-Perfect Life posted at Texas Homesteader.
Psych Syke presents Dangers of Black & White thinking… No Tolerance Policies posted at Psych-Syke's Blog.
Katie shares a day in her life at elocutionist.
Chetan presents Learn to get College Scholarships for Mothers posted at College Distance Degree Online Courses .
Maine is an affordable, family-friendly, homeschool friendly state. I hope I have sparked your interest in its beauty and hospitality. Thank you for stopping by this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling. See you next week at Consent of the Governed.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The homeschooler's Murphy's Law? Just after you tell another mother that you teach at home is when one of the children will do something embarrassing, rude, or completely out of character, justifying their prejudices.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The industry line is, argues Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist who has worked on college campuses and seen too much pain and illness that the sexual revolution has wrought. She’s the author of the new book You're Teaching My Child What?: A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child, and took questions earlier this week from National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Health care workers in New York will no longer be forced to get the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, CBS 2 has learned. A state Supreme Court judge issued a restraining order Friday against the state from enforcing the controversial mandatory vaccination. The order came as the Public Employees Federation sued to reverse a policy requiring vaccination against the seasonal and swine flu viruses, arguing that state Health Commissioner Richard Daines overstepped his authority....for now the vaccination for nurses, doctors, aides, and non-medical staff members who might be in a patient's room will remain voluntary. The health department had said the workers must be vaccinated by November 30 or face possible disciplinary action, including dismissal.
New York was the first state in the country to initially mandate flu vaccinations for its health care workers, but many health care workers quickly protested against the ruling. In Hauppauge, workers outside a local clinic screamed "No forced shots!" when the mandate came down at the end of September.
In 1976, there were some deaths associated with a swine flu vaccination. Registered nurse Frank Mannino, 50, was also angry. He said the state regulation violates his personal freedom and civil rights. "And now I will lose my job if I don't take the regular flu shot or the swine flu shot." When asked if he's willing to lose his job, Mannino said, "Absolutely. I will not take it, will not be forced. This is still America." The protest also shook Albany. Hundreds of demonstrators demanded freedom of choice.
There is also a strong resistance to the vaccine from the general public. A new Harvard University poll shows that only four in 10 adults intend to take the vaccine themselves, and only six in 10 plan to give it to their children.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Let me give you a hint Michelle, the system itself is broken. Until the stranglehold of the NEA is cut and there is accountability (as opposed to the circular blame game that happens now) for each child's education, there will be no improvement, no matter how much money thrown at the problem. Why do I have a gut feeling this is major pay-back to the union?
We need universities to double down on their efforts to prepare teachers and to improve and expand effective alternative routes to certify teachers. What universities do now is indoctrinate education majors about the need to drug little boys who are fidgety, promote multiculturalism with a pass on how to teach engage students in real learning, and use flowery language to intimidate parents and sound more "professional."
We need to encourage more experienced professionals to consider teaching as the next chapter in their careers. What retired engineer, businessman, or physician in their right mind would consider degrading themselves to teach in a classroom today with an administrative system which treats them like children? As a former public school teacher and the daughter of the same, I saw good teachers criticized and punished by incompetent bureaucrats (who hadn't taught in 15 years). To use the military in comparison, good generals and admirals expect officers to be competent and back them up, they don't treat them like lowly E-3s right out of boot camp. But this is what the public schools do regularly, they refrain from giving veteran teachers any authority and undercut them when any criticism comes their way.
And we need to treat teachers like the professionals they are by providing good salaries and high-quality professional development opportunities. They already get good salaries and excellent benefits, especially considering they work 8 hours a day with planning time for only 180 days. Professional architects, physicians, and engineers work 12 hour days, 250 days a year.
We need parents to do their part as well to match that leadership in the classroom with leadership at home. We need to set limits and turn off the TV. We need to put away those video games and make sure that homework gets done. Teachers blame the parents and previous teachers, parents blame the school, and administrative types act like they are above the fray. Homeschooling eliminates this merry-go-round of evading responsibility. If my child is not reading then I try my hardest to find out why and fix it. There is too much blame in the public school system and not enough responsibility. My guess is that an evaluation of why homeschooling works would show that a return to more local control improves children's education.
We need to reinforce the example that's being set and the lessons being taught at school and make sure that learning continues at home. One of the reasons many parents teach their children at home are the poor/dangerous examples and lessons in the public school setting such as bullying, drugs, gangs, zero tolerance policies, excessive testing, sex education, and the dumbing down of the curriculum and materials.
Nothing the federal government does, save the military, is as efficient as what can be done by the private sector. Everything from delivering the mail, running the trains, saving for retirement, collecting tax money, delivering health care to seniors, and teaching our children is financially wasteful and time consuming. Instead of admitting this and allowing the competitive market to work, the Obama administration wants to throw more money at the problem. I, like many of my fellow American parents, decide every day to remove ourselves and our children from this unending carnival ride and teach at home, collecting both the responsibilities and rewards of educating our children.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Tim gets home from work pretty late in the evening and with ballet and Scout meetings my running time was squeezed out. So, I awoke at 5 am this morning determined to begin my training regimen again, ran a very long mile and came up the stairs to the opening bars of Julia Ellen's wake up song. "Feeeeeed meeeeee. I waaaant millllllllllkkkkk!" At least that is what it sounds like to me. To everyone else it is, "mmmmmmmm. AAhhhhhh. Mmmmmmmm."
Now it is time for the other part of our new routine: 7am wakeup and I am working on a chart system for chores and such so I don't have to ask every kid 8 times, "Have you brushed your teeth? Have you made your bed?" I got the idea from reading the Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's new book The Duggars: 20 and Counting! If you ever want to feel inspired and humbled at the same time I suggest you read this one. It made me feel like such a slacker for complaining about the workload with 6 kids, but gave me some great ideas about how to better organize our household.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Today is a trip to the thrift store (on minor holidays they tend to have a 50% off sale) and Mary starts ballet. Since I have never put her very long hair into a bun before we might have to practice and get some new hair geegaws to make her look like a prima ballerina.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
This afternoon the big kids and I gave it another go since we are leaving Maine this week. Every so often we came across a tree spray painted with an orange blaze, but for the most part we just flailed around. Luckily Will brought his newly sharpened hatchet and he blazed a trail so we could follow it back to civilization. It is embarrassing that I can't manage to follow a rectangle in the woods (though it is a pretty big one) especially after reading about the early pioneers who hacked their way west or escaped from Indian captivity.
One day I will be able to walk all the way around our 23 acre woodlot, but not anytime soon. Winter is the best time to make paths, the leaves are all down so you can see farther. I have such plans for our farm: a sweet Jersey cow and woolly sheep, plump Buff Orpington chickens, a pond to splash in, hiking trails for spending quiet time alone, a big patch of jeweled raspberries, and an orchard full of crisp apples and pears. In the meantime we will return to Washington, DC to resume our "other life" complete with piano lessons, Scouts, American Heritage Girls, field trips, and the daily grind of living with a mile of the Beltway. 21 months before we can start all the projects I long to undertake, but who's counting?
Friday, October 02, 2009
"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. (No, but children need time to play, discover, explore, to relax. They will be slaves to the 40+ hour work week soon enough.)
Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play? (Maybe I feel this way because I just read an old classic of homeschooling by Raymond Moore who emphasizes starting late and unschooling, but children think better when they are free to explore, to research their own passions. Studies prove that earlier and longer schooling is not better.)
Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school. (Haven't these people ever been asked, "If everyone else starts jumping off a bridge are you going to join in?" So... if Japan has kids committing suicide because they are overstressed by testing, then we should too? Instead of thinking along the same tired lines of "need to make more jobs so the union be bigger and will campaign for us," perhaps the administration could actually take a look at what actually produces bright, creative kids and attempt to recreate that model for public schools.
What is it about America that has given the world more inventions and ideas for improving the world? It certainly isn't the concept of locking children in prison for 12 years of their life. It is freedom and the opportunity to become wealthy from one's own work. Socialism and Communism squelch this drive because there is no incentive to be better than mediocre, to create something for posterity. Why study and invest and toil just to have one's reward be taken to give to another who didn't study,invest, or toil?
More school is not going to fix any of the problems inherent in the current system. It will push out those children who just don't want to be there sooner, it will dull the minds of those who don't play the game, and it will only enrich the coffers of the NEA.)
blue print is from yahoo
Thursday, October 01, 2009
This is the only logical conclusion when school officials and state police tell a mom that she cannot legally bike with her child to school. He must ride the bus or she must drive a car to deposit him at the school door. No biking, no walking are allowed, not under her supervision and certainly not alone. Florida is not alone in this overreaching behavior. Massachusetts has prohibited parents from opting their children out of classes that promote homosexual marraige and California judges ruled that parents have no rights to what is being taught to their children.
The 12-year-old and his mother, Janette Kaddo Marino, are defying Saratoga Springs school policy by biking to Maple Avenue Middle School on Route 9. The Jackson Street residents pedal more than four miles together each way to the middle school on nice days despite being told not to by school officials and police. Times Union
I have never had to deal with getting a child to school, but this is one of my arguments against private school for our kids, the stress of getting 6 little people up and in the car every morning would drive me crazy. For the first few years of piano lessons we were blessed to be able to have Will and Mary ride their bikes to the teacher's house, and that was only once a week. I can't imagine some school official telling me how to raise my child, but I fear that this is going to be happening more and more often in the months and years ahead. We have changed from a nation inhabited by independent and tough pioneers to one ruled by controlling bureaucrats.