A peek inside my classroom

I promise this isn’t going to be a home school blog.  It is just such a big part of my life, I’m sure there will have to be home school related posts.  I know everyone doesn’t have the opportunity to have a dedicated school room.  I am very blessed to have such.  When we were looking for our current home I wanted a formal living room, but not because I am formal.  I wanted a home school room that was in the heart of my home, on the main floor and where I would have access to every one while doing school.  I’ve found over the years that school in the basement just doesn’t work for us.  I try to move things around at the beginning of every school year and decorate differently than the year before. I’m really excited about how it has turned out. 

We do have a lot of posters this year.  I have grades K4, 4th, 6th and 8th so there are a variety of themes and ideas I wanted to represent.  One of the single most educational things I’ve done for my children regarding geography was simply putting maps on display.  Having them in a book is good, but having them visible all the time has really helped my girls with understanding the layout of the world and our country.  My table, chairs and rug are from IKEA.

One of these IKEA units is barely enough any more.  I’m hoping to get to an IKEA in September to pick up another.  All of my containers are from Target.  I love them.  I learned several years ago that I needed to stop giving each child her own box for crayons, pencils, scissors etc.  Something would always be missing because they want to use them at times other than school.  By having containers that every one uses I can keep a little better inventory of it.  I know we will have what we need when we need it.  Our time is precious and we just don’t have a minute to spare to look for a glue stick.  Also I stock up during back to school sales.  You really can save money that way.  I also have containers full of math manipulatives and science materials.  They are separated and ready to be used. All we have to do is reach in and get what we need.  No time needed to gather materials.  It helps that I use a virtual school for this because they send me all those materials ahead of time.  (www.maizevirtualprepschool.com) If you don’t virtual school, you could look at a month of science lessons and get all your nonperishable items in advance.  

In this corner I have another science crate, an art crate, paint box and base ten block box.  The drawers have art supplies as well.  All the plastic containers are from Target.  The cage is our classroom pet, a dwarf hamster named Rainbow Pancake.  I didn’t name it.  I happened to already have that display shelf along the top of this wall when we moved here.  I display their sculptures and anything they make that is breakable as well as a few keepsakes like my dad’s ribbons from the Air Force.  He gave them to me when he retired. LOVE!

Last one!  Not too exciting.  Audrey has a little table to work at.  One of the problems with home schooling is that we often put children in adult sized chairs then expect them to sit properly.  Well, I do any way.  So, Audrey has her own little spot.  She loves to do crafts here while I teach the older girls, but this year she will have her very own school work!  The poster here is a writing process chart that Madelyn and I put together.  Improved writing is my #1 goal with all three of my older girls this year.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour.  Home school moms don’t get an open house to show off their work.  So this helped me feel like a REAL teacher, even though I’ve really been teaching my kids for 8 years now!

Rockin’ the mom style

I have our class room all set up.  New posters on the walls.  Shelves cleared and waiting for books to arrive.  I am hoping to start next week.  Madelyn will be in the 8th grade, a virtual school honors program that I’m really excited about. Emma will be in the 6th grade, we still don’t have her books.  I think they will come tomorrow.  Gloria will be a fourth grader.  We’ve got her stuff already.  Last, little Audrey will be in preschool.  I’d really love to have her reading by the end of the year.  This will be my only year to have all four at home.  It is my last year to homeschool Madelyn, even though I won’t be doing much with her because of the program she is in.  To commemorate the occasion of going back to school I provide a list of why even a homeschool mom would like back to school.

  • I’m a fairly organized person.  I like having a set schedule.  Summer is just a hodge podge of events with no rhyme or reason.
  • The kids go to bed between 8:00 and 9:00 in the school year.  Since the sun sets so late, the kids stay up so late.
  • Chores are organized.  For some reason I’m not very good at keeping the kids doing consistent chores over the summer.  
  • There is plenty to do.  By this point in the summer all I’m hearing is “I’m bored” and “I want to watch a movie.”  During the school year their time is filled with more important activities and real learning. 
  • School starting means fall will be here soon and this deadly heat will be over.
  • CYT will start their fall session and I LOVE CYT!  That means my kids will be busy and engaged.

So, I must go find my denim jumper* and keds!  Let another home school year begin.

*I will not actually be wearing a denim jumper, or keds.  Come on people lighten up!
You may want to check out www.cytwichita.org and http://maizevirtualprepschool.com/

Batman vs. Shakespeare

I’m torn about how I feel about the whole Batman thing.  I know you are thinking there’s nothing to be torn about.  What happened in CO was a tragedy, a senseless act of violence.  It was, I know that.  What I am torn about is the level of violence we’ve come to accept as a normal part of entertainment.  We’ve come to expect it, hardly notice the looks on the faces of the extras in the movie who run, or duck and cover.  We don’t even look at them, but those are the expressions made by real people when faced with the potential that their life might be taken by some psychos semiautomatic weapon.  I saw the new Batman flick, as far as that kind of movie goes, I guess it was good.  But I can’t even believe that I can say that.  The violence is disturbing.  The movie’s villain acts with the same kind of terrorism that unfortunately is a reality for too many people.  It seems like we hear about a shooting like this about once a year now. Maybe this is how the world has always been.  Maybe being a mother makes one hyper sensitive to such issues.  Or maybe we should honestly give some thought to what we are setting our selves up for as a nation.  What our grandparents and maybe even parents were appalled by is common place for us.  I fear that what is so disturbing to me will be the every day life of my children and grandchildren.
I’ve heard the arguments about how the violence in fairy tales, Shakespeare and even the Bible has been accepted for hundreds even thousands of years.  The argument is basically that those things didn’t cause people to be crazy anymore than our violence today is the cause.  I get that, I understand.  I just feel like our level of violence is more realistic.  We have the technology now that blurs the lines between what is real and what is not.
I’m not suggesting we all boycott the movie industry.  I’m simply suggesting, as I often do, that we stop acting like drones and stop doing what every one says is cool.  Just give your movie choices some thought.  How do they affect you or the person next to you?  How do they affect your children now, or in 10 years? Does that violence change the reactions of others?  How do you want your hard earned dollars spent?
Lastly, this isn’t to say you won’t find me at the Bourne movie or the next super hero flick that is released.  Don’t call me a hypocrite for doing something like that.  These are just my thoughts on the matter.  I’d love to hear yours.

Sex or Vampires

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be about who’s hotter, Edward or that other guy.  I just thought that title would draw you in.  Mwaaaahahaha.  Actually this post is about that, or more so not about that.  See, the problem is that my 13 year old is an avid reader.  She reads ALL the time.  She has gone way past reading “grade” level books.  So, now she is reading the works of Jane Austin, she loves classics. She’s read Little Women, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Hobbit, and King Arthur, just to name a few. We jokingly tell her that her books take up too much room and that we’d really like her to pick up another hobby such as watching TV or talking to boys.  (It’s a joke people! Of course she talks to boys, while I read every line of chat over her shoulder… kidding again!)
She really wants to read something written more recently, something more modern but recent literature, if you can call it that, has two main topics.  In her words, she wants to read something that isn’t about sex or vampires.   A friend of mine is a high school literature teacher at a local private Christian high school and gave me some recommendations.  I’d love to start compiling a list though.  I’m looking for quality literature the will help her think and understand the world. What would you add to this list?

To begin, my friend suggested:
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine H.
Lord of the Flies


I’ve lived most of my married/adult life without a consistent group of girl friends.  About a year ago a very dear friend invited me to join her Bible study.  The group is pretty private, very close and extremely funny.  When we are together we are either crying, or laughing and usually a combination of the two.  We spend hours deep in conversation and hours talking about pretty much nothing.  I feel so overwhelmingly blessed to be with this group of women.  So when I came home tonight after 3 and 1/2 hours at Bible study (the terrible part is we didn’t even talk about the homework that we were suppose to talk about) my husband asked what we talked about.  The only thing I could think to tell him was what one of my friends referred to as “the least funny joke of all time,”  just after another girl told it.  The best part is we were all in stitches laughing at how funny the teller thought it was.
So this lady goes to the doctor and says with extreme stress in her voice “I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee, I’m a wigwam.”  The doctor replied “You need to relax, you are too tents.” 

Really though, what I want you to know is that Bible study, our Bible study, is one of the best things in my life.  Even if we don’t always talk about our study for that week (most of the time we do) it is definitely a source of strength.  I love what I learn, I love the girls, I love praying with these people.  Our Bible study quite literally saves lives. So maybe that is what I should have told my husband when I came home.   I hope you have a circle. 

Don’t hate me because my salad is beautiful

Based on some feedback on Facebook I feel the need to talk a little about being a vegetarian, again.  Really, this is the second day of my blog and stupid food is all I can talk about. But before I get into it I’d like to list some foods that I don’t eat

meat (I do eat some fish, occasionally)
gelatin (ground animal bones)
lard (animal fat)
eggplant (I just don’t like them)
arugula (had some once that was a little too dirty tasting)
roe (eew)
artichoke hearts (Luke loves them, I do not)
I’m sure there are others.  But who really cares.  What does it matter that I don’t eat meat.  Get over it.  There are some plant foods that I don’t eat either and that doesn’t seem to bother any one. Just because I choose a plant based diet doesn’t mean I’m not thanking God for it.  Are you kidding me?  I don’t have to eat meat to think God gave us animals to enjoy.  I just enjoy them in a different way than you do, not on my plate.
So whatever, unfriend me, unfamily me if you need to.  I’m free to make those kind of choices, and I really am not thinking God is going to smite me for it.  No danger.  This is not a religious issue for me in the least, nor do I think it has to be.

Who can tell me what this is?

100% natural whole breast filet, seasoning (salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika), seasoned coater (enriched bleached flour [bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, nonfat milk, leavening [baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate], spice, soybean oil, color [paprika]), milk wash (water, egg, nonfat milk), peanut oil (fully refined peanut oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and Dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added).

Right down to the Meat…or not

I became a vegetarian in January.  I have had just a few experiences of meat eating since January first of this year, 2012.  They have all resulted in a stomach ache.  The hardest part of being a vegetarian in Kansas, on the prairie, is all the damned meat.  Meat is everywhere.  Want a quick snack grab some MEAT.  What’s for breakfast…meat. Lunch and dinner? You guessed it, meat again.  Being a vegetarian in KS is so unaccepted.  I feel so OBVIOUS too.  People think they have to make special arrangements for me and make jokes at my expense.  Whatever.
I didn’t come to this decision lightly.  I’ve read Rethinking Life and Death by Peter Singer.  I don’t agree with 99% of what he says, but it all makes me think, or shall I say “rethink.”  I’ve also read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, very interesting read.  If you want to know what is really IN what you are putting IN you that is a great book to pick up.  I’ve watched several documentaries on the subject.  All in all I came to the conclusion that a plant based diet is what most healthy for me and for my children.  They still get to eat meat but it is only occasionally at home and if we go out to eat.  I don’t want to force them to the same isolation that I feel.  I’ve obviously chosen that.
I wish I could tell you that with that choice I’ve lost all kids of weight and that I eat super healthy.  I do for the most part, but I still love dessert.  I love sugar.  That is my next hurdle, giving up that drug. 
The worst part is that I don’t have a single friend or family member that is a vegetarian.  I don’t know anyone that lives around here that makes that choice.  It is very isolating, I feel a little freakish.  The truth is that I think the whole meat production process is terribly inhumane.  I actually feel really bad for the animals that have to endure torture so that fat and happy Americans can have a cheese burger at Mickey D’s or a steak at Ruth’s Chris probably from the same cow.  I haven’t even mentioned the environmental effects of our meat consumption.   It’s really a disaster.
I’m just tired of being a drone, of following along with what every one does because it is the way it’s always been.  I’m sick of just going with the flow and wearing blinders, ignoring how that food got in front of me in the first place.   
I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about this more in the future.  It has become a bit of a platform for me.  In the meantime, when you sit down to your chicken dinner, think just for a minute about from where that meal came and if you would eat it if you knew the whole story. 

Everyone will know how crazy I am

Looks like I’m starting a blog.  My fears with doing this are as follows:
1) Every one will know how crazy I am.  When I say crazy I mean that people will know that I have some views that are pretty…how shall I say…tree hugger-esque. I’m pretty strange and you might not like me anymore.
2) I will embarrass my family.  I’m mostly worried about embarrassing Luke, and maybe my parents. How could I be completely honest with this whole blog thing and NOT embarrass someone?
3) I will have a million grammatical errors.  This is a very real fear that should not be laughed at.  I correct people all the time for saying things wrong, or writing things wrong.  When I read anything there is just this little part of me that is looking for an error.  Making one such error myself will be devastating.  It’s not a matter of if  it happens, but when it happens.
4) I fear I will lose a friend or two.  The truth is I disagree with a lot of things my friends say on various social media sites.  I just don’t comment.  But on a blog, my blog, commenting is the whole idea.  I guess if you find my beliefs just too offensive, perhaps we can go back to our previous relationship of looking at pictures of  each others kids on facebook.
5) Last, but not least, I fear that I will run out of things to say.  The trouble with this is that I always have something to say about something.  What if I come to the very end of my thoughts and I have no new ideas?  That will be a sad day indeed.  But, for now…I will blog on.