Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lazy Days of Summer

Isn't that what they used to call it? Days when we just lay out on the grass under a tree with a good book and a glass of iced tea or lemonade. Today's kids seem to be just as lazy in the hot hot summer months. (This year has been the hottest ever. They said on the news that we may break records for the hottest July in history.) But instead of curling up with a good book, today's kids seem to be curling up in front of their computer screens to play video games. They are certainly not getting any exercise, well, except for their fingers on the keyboard or their thumbs on the video game. Well I decided that if Dakota isn't going to be active and healthy, maybe he could at least learn a bit about living a healthy lifestyle. So we have been playing games, reading books, and talking a lot about being healthy and taking care of our bodies. I hope some of it will sink in.

Speaking of health, another issue we have been having problems with lately is brushing his teeth. Do any of you have this problem. Dakota hates to brush is teeth. He fights it almost as much as he fights taking a bath. I don't know if this is just a "boy" thing or what. I have tried making a game out of it. I've tried timing him, but I find this just leads to not thoroughly brushing. I've tried talking about it. He has books about how important it is to take care of his teeth. And he has played online games about taking care of his teeth. But nothing seems to get through to him about this. I guess he is at that stage in life where nothing bad is going to happen to him. He doesn't remember when he had to have a root canal done. He thinks he's not going to get any cavities. I don't know what to do to help him understand that he needs to brush his teeth. I hate to see what his next dentist appointment is going to bring.

Try to stay cool everyone.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Power of Play

I just read a wonderful blog about the Power of Play. The author talks about the beginning of her homeschooling days when she though she had to set everything up to make it look like a school classroom. From the sound of the article, her two children, ages 2 and 4 were quite miserable. Finally with the help of a more experienced homeschool mom, she was able to let go of the need to do things "just like school" and relax a bit about her homeschooling. Instead of sitting at little desks and writing on the board, they began doing things like building a teepee in the backyard and making turtle shell rattles. Yes, they still did sit down work. But now they were more likely to snuggle on the couch to read than to sit at their desks. And they went out and actually did things instead of just reading about them in books. Where the first few months of their homeschooling seemed to be full of tears and wanting to go play. The rest of their time was filled with learning while doing and going to fun places.

Reading this article made me wonder whether I was spending too much time worrying about why my son doesn't read as well as other kids and not enough time having fun with learning. I want to go play more and worry less about all the sit down time we do. I think it's time to go bake some bread and stop worrying so much about the math lesson. After all, isn't there math involved in cooking. Maybe after that we will work on building our little worm compost bin. It's time to Go, Play, Learn.

Monday, July 19, 2010


When we first started homeschooling I found out about Homeschool Day at the Montclair Art Museum. Once a month, Ms. Peggy takes the kids around to different areas of the museum depending on what the topic is for that month. The first time we went, on the way home, Dakota said, "That was sooooooooooooooooooooo Verrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Booooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrringgggggggggggggggggggggggggg." Needless to say he was not impressed but we kept going. Over time, Dakota has gotten more and more interested in Art. So much so that he requested art supplies for his birthday this year. The little boy who hated art now loves it. Next year I will be adding online art classes to his curriculum. It's a great program. He can't wait to start it. But he needs to improve on his reading some more before he starts art classes. In the mean time he is going to start playing more art and music games online. I can't wait until art classes at the museum start back up again in September.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Going Green Summer 2010

I have written before about my friend Tree over at The Enchanted Tree. Well, this time I am writing to ask you guys to help her out. Hip Mountain Mama has been hosting a blog for the last year called One Small Change. Everyone who is following her blog has made a commitment to make small changes to help the environment, to reduce the footprint left behind by thier family. To celebrate the one year anniversary of this project, she is hosting a giveaway for all the members of her blog. This is where you come in. Stop on over at the Hip Mountains Mama Blog and cast your vote for number 13 The Enchanted Tree. You can vote three times. Just leave three separate comments to cast your votes. I hope you will take a moment to vote for Tree. She really deserves to win.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At the park the other day I was talking to the other moms about changes that people are making in their homeschool programs for the coming year. A lot of the moms are leaning toward unschooling,especially for the younger kids. But it seemed like the moms with older kids, 5th grade and up are looking for a more structured curriculum. There are so many choices out there it becomes mind boggling. We will continue to use the same online homeschool program we have used since we first started homeschooling. I love it, Dakota loves it. We can print out reports any time we want a hard copy of what he is doing. The whole program is laid out so well. Why would I change? We have added a spelling program that we will continue to use for the next few months. I am also thinking of adding a writing program to his work. We are still trying to find a piano teacher that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The keyboard we bought him for the winter holidays is still sitting there untouched. The teenager who was going to teach him Spanish didn't work out. She just had too many other things going on.

It's been so hot here that I don't really want to think about school at all right now. I try to get Dakota to work a bit every now and then, but he just wants to play. We're actually having a cold front today. It's only 82.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the weather.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Great Giveaway

My friend Tree over at The Enchanted Tree is offering a great giveaway. She is featuring EcoMom. EcoMom is offering a $15.00 gift certificate to the winner of the giveaway. I took a look at EcoMom's store and she has some great environmentally friendly items for sale. Stop over and take a look.

One thing that I am really interested in is the book The Kid's Garden.

Her description of the book is: "40 fun outdoor activities and games Written By Whitney Cohen and Illustrated By Roberta Arenson Get outside and grow with some child-friendly fun with gardening! Kids’ Garden includes forty activities and games and an eight-page booklet that contains information on gardening tools, year-round plant care and garden safety. These step-by-step instructions are enhanced by colorful collage artwork on each double-sided card and they create a fun and easy way for budding green-thumbs to plant, investigate, learn and experiment. Ages 8 and up" Sounds like something my son would love.

Stop on over an sign up for the giveaway. While you're at it check out Tree's online store.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Joy of Boys At Play

We try to go to Park Day with our homeschool group. It's a great way for the kids to get together and play. And the moms get to relax and chat. The other day the boys had all brought their swords and light sabers. They had so much fun fighting with each other. At one point one of the little ones, a just about to be three year old, decided he wanted to play with the big boys. It was so cool watching them. When the boys were sword fighting the rule is that swords only touch swords and not people. Well the little guy didn't quite understand this rule. So he frequently hit the other boys pretty hard. Now usually if someone gets hit too hard they retaliate and hit back. But these kids were so good with this little one. No matter how hard he hit them, they would immediately fall down dead. Then the little one would squeal with glee that he beat up the "big guy." I watched as this scene played out over and over again. I was so proud of the way these kids all let this little one "kill them." Instead of making fun of him or excluding him from their game. They played right along with him and "let" him win.

One of the kids noticed a cicada on the side of a tree. Of course this brought all the kids over to see what it was. An impromptu science class ensued as one of the moms explained how cicadas stay under ground for 2 to 17 years before the stick their heads up. She told the kids that he had probably just shed his skin and was now crawling up to the top of the tree so he could sing for the rest of his life. Immediately the kids started looking around. They found his skin on the other side of the tree laying on the ground. After that everyone was very careful not to go around to that side of the tree and disturb the skin.

You have to love homeschool kids and their thrist for knowledge. I love Park Day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

We Survived Second Grade

Well, we finally survived second grade. We kind of had a late start and our learning was somewhat sporadic last fall because I was so sick. But after the holidays we finally were able to get going. Dakota finished Science and Social Studies really quickly. But then Science is his favorite subject. And second grade doesn't have a lot of Social Studies in it. It took until the end of May to finish Language Arts. But Math... Math was so hard to stay focused on. Dakota loves math but he still had a hard time staying focused. Focus is an issue for him anyway. I finally told him that he had to finish second grade before his birthday. So his birthday party was Wednesday night. Finally about two hours before time to leave for his big birthday party at Medieval Times, he finished the last lesson in his math program. He was so proud of his accomplishment that he immediately asked how to upgrade his account so he could start third grade math. He did well on the first lesson. He is excited to continue on with Time4Learning. I think this is one of the best programs out there for little computer junkies like Dakota.

We are not going to do a lot of school work over the summer. Maybe just a lesson or two a week. He is also going to continue playing some of the online games that we have found. We will also be taking classes every month at Historic Speedwell and at Beczak Environmental Center.

Other exciting news for our family is my granddaughter, Baby Ciencia. We really have to stop calling her that. She's not much of a baby any more. Ciencia will be starting Preschool this fall. It seems like such a short time ago when I held that tiny little newborn in my arms. She was less than an hour old when I first saw her. Now she's all grown up and ready to start Preschool. Wow, where does the time go. They are all growing up so quickly.

Well, time to go try to cool off in this incredible heat wave.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's A Boy

Eight years ago today a baby boy was born in a country far, far away. His tummy mommy knew she could not take care of him. She had eight other hungry mouths to feed. And she had already buried three babies. She didn't want to bury a fourth so she contacted a lawyer who helped her make an adoption plan for her baby. Back in New Jersey, a couple was waiting and hoping to adopt a baby. They had been waiting for over two years for the right baby to come into their lives. It seemed like that phone call would never come. One day though, the call did come. "We have a healthy baby boy who is looking for a forever family. He is 19 days old." Although this couple had kind of wanted a girl, they decided that this baby was meant for them. Soon they began what would be another long waiting period. Waiting now for the paperwork of two different governments to be approved. In October, to celebrate their fifth anniversary, the couple flew to Guatemala to meet this little baby boy. They played with him, cuddled him, learned what his little habits were, and fell in love with him. On December 9, 2002, they got the call that their adoption was final. Daniel Garcia Zalazar was now their son. A few days later, they flew again to Guatemala. But this time it was to bring their new son home.

It seems like it was only yesterday that this story took place. But it was eight years ago. That sweet little baby is now 8 years old.

Today I have been thinking a lot about that mother in Guatemala. I don't even know if she is still alive. She would be 50 years old now. That's pretty old for the poor in the mountains of Guatemala. But she's on my mind today. I wonder if she is thinking about the baby boy she gave away. If she is, I just want her to know that he is a happy healthy growing boy. He likes knights and rockets oh, and legos. He loves math and science, but he hates to read. He rides a two wheeler and he got a scooter for his birthday.

Thank you Marie Elizabeth for giving this beautiful baby boy to me. He is the greatest gift anyone could have given me.

Today my baby boy is eight years old.