Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Kids Need to Be Around Other Kids. A Socialization Ramble.

It's amazing how much conversation can be made by just mentioning that you are homeschooling your kids. Since Marco is getting older, people frequently ask me why he isn't at school. Actually, they ask him! "Shouldn't you be in school? What grade are you in?" At first, Marco never knew what to say, but now it seems like he's getting used to the questions. He always answers "I do school at home." Of course, that always opens a new bag of questions, mainly geared towards me.

Since we've made the decision to homeschool and since I've come to meet more and more moms, the whole socialization thing keeps coming up. What a myth and wrong use of vocabulary! My latest common comment is, "I couldn't homeschool. My kids need to be around other kids. He needs that socialization." Ackk! Does that mean that that my kids don't need to be around other kids or socialize with others? Of course they do! And they do!

I don't ask people for reasons why they don't homeschool, yet it seems like they are very adamant about defending their choice about sending their kids to school. It's OK...really. I don't want a list of why you send your kids to school. Yes, I understand that you could never do that. Fine, you want your kids around lots of other kids all the time. OK, you don't have the patience. You really don't have to convince me because I know that every family makes the choices that are right for them.

Sometimes I wonder if they carry on these conversations because they think I'm making the wrong choice. It really doesn't matter either way. The point is that yes, my kids love being around other kids and just because I homeschool them doesn't mean that they are being isolated at home. And socialized? Well, socialization by definition is simply a process of learning interpersonal and interactional skills that are in conformity to the value's of society. Do I think my kids actually need to go to school to learn this? Of course not! What could another 5 year old possibly teach my kid about being socialized? If you ask me, it's the adults in the child's life that really teach these values to their kids.

"Yes, but you are keeping them from learning how to handle things in the real world." I'm afraid to say that in the real world, you don't interact with people that are solely your age. I am really not interested in having my kids mold into what a big group of kids thinks is right. For now, I just want them to be "socialized" enough to be around all kinds of people...not just other kids their age. I want them to learn the real values of a society...not the values found within the culture of young kids and teens.

So please...don't assume that because I keep my kids at home, they are completely unaware of how to behave, follow rules, listen, and even conform to the norm. Don't assume that because I keep them at home they don't need to be around other kids. And please, spare me the list of why you don't homeschool. It really is OK (and come to think about it...I don't care)!

**This ramble is brought to you thanks to the recent outpour of similar comments made to me by strangers.

Our Garden Revisited.

It's been fun tending to a garden with the kids and they are amazed at how our vegetables have grown. Planting a garden is probably one of the best outdoor projects for kids ever! It teaches patience and responsibility. Once harvest time comes around, everyone is so excited to finally taste the fruits of their labor! Luckily, we didn't have to wait long for that to happen. Our lettuce has been growing so fast that we've been able to feast on many salads. The kids are so proud of their vegetables that they eat them like candy. If I would have known that growing a garden helps kids eat more veggies, I probably would have done it a long time ago!
For anyone just starting out, I highly recommend the Square Foot Gardening method. It's easy and has high yields. We haven't had to pick out any weeds out of gardens yet! We also don't have to use a whole packet of seeds to get something growing, so it's a good idea to partner up with someone else and do some seed swapping. There are so many good ideas in that book! It makes row gardening seem like a thing of the past. Our smaller box isn't even on the ground, so it could be considered somewhat like container gardening. The larger box is still not completely planted and has about 8 squares left empty. But overall, I think it's a good beginning to our first year gardening with the kids.

Here is our larger box. Many of the veggies here were just recently planted due to the late frost. Hopefuly the plants will take off growing soon!

This is the smaller box by the fence. Things are growing here faster than I ever imagined! Our broccoli, however, is being attacked by fruit worms (as you can see the damaged leaves) and we are working on an
organic solution.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Our New Pets.

It's so much fun to surprise the kids with something new. As we were shopping yesterday, I decided to buy them their first pets. Now the last thing I need right now is a pet that requires lots of attention and looking after, so I decided on Beta Fish! The kids were so excited when we brought them home! Marco immediately named his fish "Vampire" (although I'm not sure why), and Isabella is still deciding on a name...she's switched from "Princess" to "Deeno Dino."

We'll see how long the fascination lasts, but for the mean time the fish are looking nice on our piano. Maybe it will be a motivator when we start our piano lessons!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Memorization and Recitation. A List.

We have finally made a list of material to be memorized for the year! Our goals are lofty, but if we get through half of our list, we will be happy. I've included poetry, prayers, and verses from the bible. You will find that some are in Spanish and others in Latin. We are planning on having a small poetic recital every 6 weeks or so. Thanks to all the people who helped guide me towards good books (WTMboards)! At the bottom of the list, you'll find some great poetry books I came across to help me compile the list.

  1. A Thought, Robert Louis Stevenson
  2. Happy Thought, Robert Louis Stevenson
  3. How Doth the Little Crocodile, Lewis Carroll
  4. Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll
  5. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
  6. The Purple Cow
  7. Good and Bad Children, Robert Louis Stevenson
  8. Cucu Cucu, Spanish nursery rhyme
  9. El Patio de Mi Casa, Spanish nursery rhyme
  10. El Barquito Chiquitito, Spanish nursery rhyme
  11. Various Mother Goose Rhymes
  12. Padre Nuestro
  13. Ave Maria
  14. Angel de Dios
  15. Pater Noster
  16. Gloria Patri
  17. Angele Dei
  18. Requiem Aeternam
  19. Anima Christi
  20. Signum Crucis

I'll probably be adding or even taking away some of these...all depending on how we do. I will keep this list updated as we go along. If you are interested in looking at some good poetry books for children, try these.

  • A Child's Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Honey for a Child's Heart
  • When We Were Very Young, A.A. Milne
  • Now We Are Six, A.A. Milne

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The List Never Ends!

It's coming close the weekend and another week has passed that I have failed some of my home organization and improvement projects. Our hallway bathroom stands half finished with only part of the wallpaper being down. We have been planning on painting it for a while now and redoing the lights, fixtures, and flooring. Although we have all the things we need to actually get the project done, the bathroom sits there in practically the same state. All I have to say in my defense is that I hate wallpaper and just the thought of finishing taking down the last of it is driving me crazy!

Our basement is another story. Although it's really already finished, we still need to carpet the stairs and finish the full bath. But since we need to call the plumber to do all that stuff and the carpet guy, we are just putting it off until we can get ourselves together to actually finish painting the staircase walls. Another thing on our to-do list!! As for the functionality of the's working out well. It serves as our playroom and schoolroom. I'll have to post pictures of it in the future since I know many of your homeschoolers are always looking for ideas for your own schoolrooms.

As for the organizational matters of the home...I'm working on it. I would ideally like to get the upstairs bedrooms a little better decorated and organized before the baby arrives. Luckily, I don't have much to decorate since the rooms are pretty much done. Just a few more pictures and shelves to go in the kids' room, some new curtains, and a closet system for my room. Not too bad for the top floor. The kitchen, dining room, and living room are well taken care of. Besides needing some serious new flooring in the kitchen, the organizational matters are done. Now if I could only get my housework and schooling down.

It amazing how much you can actually do to a home. I'm happy with ours, although I know there are some other major improvements we have planned for the future. For now, I just want to get that darned bathroom done.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Preschool Curriculum *Update 3/15/08*

I have updated this list due to changes we have made to our curriculum. I am no longer planning on using Phonics Pathways for phonics or Who Am I? for religion. In wanting to keep things simple, I'm doing mostly read alouds and prayer memorization for religion and keeping with ETC for phonics (for the moment).

Saxon K is really great for this age because its lessons are fully integrated with manipulatives. There's lots of use of graphs, counters, linking cubes, etc.; so buying the manipulative set is a must!
We are starting out with the primers to the Explode the Code series. Although the letters and sounds of the alphabet are already known, these books help solidify that knowledge and make the transition to reading smoother.


The Beginners Bible is an all-time favorite read! We do this daily at bedtime and sometimes during free reading time. The perfect bible for children 3-6!!

The early years are full of play and fun. Because there is an older child doing school, many times Isabella will sit in and participate (this is especially true during science!). Reading time is always done together and I allow plenty of music time and art (gluing, painting, coloring, etc.). The important thing is not to burn your little one out before they actually really start school!

My Little Mess Maker.

My camera is taking funny pictures, but here is my little man making a mess on the table. Kids.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Updated Kindergarten Schedule and Curriculum!

I just finished updating our kindergarten schedule and curriculum. I've posted a picture of what we are using along with a small description in our curriculum link. I also posted a rough schedule of our days. Check it out and enjoy!!

Curriculum Page:

Schedule Page:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Freezer Meals

As I go deep into my second trimester, the thought of having a newborn and 3 kids running around while I make dinner is starting to scare me. I have now discovered something that promises to save me on those days when things are too hectic to even think about what to make for dinner. Freezer Meals! Some call it freezer cooking or once a month cooking. But whatever you call it, I think it will make my life a little easier.

Inspired by the idea of the Dream Dinners chains found all over the country, I went ahead and purchased their recipe book. I also discovered 30 Day Gourmet online. Now that I get the idea on what I can freeze and how to alter some of our favorite recipes, I'm planning on doing my first big freeze this weekend! Believe me...I need all the help I can get. Last night we had Dino-nuggets for dinner. It was so sad that not even the kids ate them and we all sat down to a nice bowl of cereal instead!! Yeah. It was one of those days.

I'm not planning on making 30 meals, but a smaller 7-14. I'm starting with some favorites and staples and then seeing how things turn out. I don't want to burn myself out on my first try. Since dh leaves for conference on Sunday, I'm thinking of enlisting some help so that I can cook while the kids are being watched. If things go well, I might just double up on some recipes once or twice a week in order to keep my freezer nice and full.

Dh is excited about the idea of having a decent dinner after a Little League game. I've been falling behind on dinner on t-ball practice and game nights. As much as I want to be and try to be super-organized with homeschooling, cleaning the house, watching the kids, cooking, and the kids extra-curricular activities...I sometimes fail. I don't know how moms with bigger families do it. I guess that in a couple of years I just might be able to answer that question!!

I will definitely post my freezer recipes once I have tried them out. In the mean time, if you are interested in simplifying your own life, here is a website that I recommend for those starting out.

You can also purchase their book at any book store. Dream Dinners is another book you might want to check out. So far, it's easy to follow and offers some nice recipes. Regardless of what book you decide to get, it is definitely worth purchasing one for reference.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Happy Easter!

Now that we are in Easter season, it's great to look back on how Lent has changed us. I'm always inspired by others and their actions. I feel that I've learned so much by just talking with other moms about how they instill these ever important values in their young children. In the past, I think I would have been a little more relaxed about teaching our faith to the littles; but now I know that even the youngest child can learn the most important basics! Anthony, who is only 18 months, has been actively participating in all (or mostly all) of our prayers before and after meals for a solid 3 months; Isabella has a great memory and has been reciting all the major prayers for over a year now; and of course, Marco has been then prime example that children learn by imitating...he's learned more than I thought he could and he serves as a wonderful teacher and example to the rest of the children!

Faith is such a wonderful thing and it seems that so far, it has been the funnest and easiest thing to teach! Believe me...there's plenty of complaining when we do our lessons, but I never hear anyone say anything negative about prayer time! It's easily one of the best parts of the day.

For the time being, we are going to keep the Easter spirit alive. It's great to enjoy many of the things we have deprived ourselves of during Lent. Everything always seems a little more meaningful this time of year!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Life Revolves Around My Children. Is that Bad?

Recently, I spoke with a friend who is a new mom-to-be. It seems that her life if very active and she and her husband enjoy having their time together. This being their first baby, she asked me several questions about what to expect, what to buy, and things of that sort. I answered as best as I could.

The funny thing happened when she began talking about how she refused to be "one of those moms" whose only life is their kids. "Playgroups? Not me. I couldn't stand it! I need to have my own life." I held my breathe as I listened to her talk about how she was going to be the same person after her baby was born. It was while she was talking about her plans on staying the same that I realized that my own life revolves around my kids! But the funny thing is...I LOVE IT!!

I do playgroups, I'm a leader of a moms' group, I homeschool, I take the kids on trips....everything she said she would never think to do. What really got me was that I used to think that my life wasn't going to change that much after having a baby either. But it did. And the older that baby got, the more my life changed. Now that I'm on my way to having 4 kids, I would never even think to go back to my life before children. Dh and I love that our lives revolves around our kids simply because we love our kids that much! They have made us better people. They have taught us to love in a way we never imagined possible. They have made our marriage stronger and we love each other more because of them. They make God seem closer.

I do complain about never having enough time to myself and being overwhelmed with childish things to do. But if I had to choose this life over another, I prefer this life a million times over. Their little laughs, their sweet "I love yous," and the wonder you see in their eyes. I experience that every day. There is no better reward in life. And every night as dh and I go to bed, we laugh at all the wonderful things that the kids did and said that day and we always thank God that we decided to have children. Maybe that's why we dream of having more. Because they complete our lives in a way that nothing else a way that only God can provide.

Monday, April 2, 2007

It's April Already!!

Well, it seems that someone forgot to tell me how fast time goes by when you have kids! I can't believe that we're in April already. I'm thankful that the weather has been so nice lately, however, and I realize how much I was looking forward to winter being over. The grass is green, the trees have bloomed, and the kids are playing outside nearly every day. It's great!

For the time being, I'm having to make a major adjustment to scheduling my days around Marco's lessons. I don't like falling out of routine since the kids are so much better when we actually stick to one. I guess that means a little less play dates and more "field trips." The kids don't seem to mind and it's fun seeing them blossom as best friends. I'm truly blessed when I see how well all three of my children get along. Of course, there is the occasional fight; but overall I love seeing them interact with each other the way that they do. I'm sure that when the baby is born, he'll mesh right into everything!

Now I just have to get ready for a big 5 year old birthday and Easter!! Marco is really excited about turning 5 and both he and Isabella are doing really well in understanding the whole meaning behind Easter. I refuse to let it be about an Easter bunny!! I must admit that they love reading their little bible book and it's helped me tremendously at getting some points across. Since it's Holy Week, we are also doing a little more than usual with crafts and stories. It makes waiting for the resurrection of Jesus so much more exciting for the whole family.

New School Room Tour.

It's back to school time and it seems like everywhere in the homeschool blogosphere, people are giving tours of their learning spaces.  ...