Oh My

I have been gone forever it seems.  But I have a decent excuse.  I cracked and bruised a few ribs (like my whole left side) and banged up my left arm pretty bad, was having difficulties breathing for a while because of it (the ribs, not the arm) and the whole thing just left me laying on the couch most days, struggling to even work the remote control.  (Note to self...NEVER again slip on steps made of cement during a rain storm!!!)

So, Squirt and I spent a whole lot of time watching documentaries the last month and a half of school (well, May and June since we are still currently doing our year round schooling - just taking a couple weeks off to enjoy the wonderful weather we've been here).  When drugs kicked in, I would be able to do short stints at the computer printing off a few things - so he wouldn't completely forget that we are actually "schooling" and not just sitting around watching tv.  He also worked daily on his math and began to read a copy of Real Science 4 Kids that I had been given by a local homeschooler here (she never used it).  He liked it and I would often hear him yelling "Mommy, do we have any...(insert items here).  I'm going to do an experiment!"  Yes, when I was unable to guide him using the teacher/parent guide, he would take it upon himself to read that along with his own text and then create his own experiments.

Add to it that he has been thoroughly enjoying the subscription to KNOW magazine that he recieved for Christmas and I have more than once found my kitchen in disarray as a result.  Little Man has also learned the valuable lesson of cleaning up after making a mess because Mommy was not able!

* He has also learned how to sort laundry, load washer and dryer, start said washer and dryer, fold clothes, put said clothes away, load dishwasher, set and clear table, sweep floors, clean bathrooms, dust, and even organize dvd's alphabetically and chronologically according to program type...That is my own Type A personality son and don't you dare NOT put the dvd back where you got it from! (A definate change from the boy who just a few months ago would leave dvd cases strewn throughout the house!!)  He has also started to take the garbage out, sort the recycling, AND mow the lawn since Hubby purchased a "people powered" lawn mower.

I have to say, a mom could get VERY used to this!  VERY used to it.  In fact, my ribs seem to be acting up again...

Oh...I am currently exploring new items for our fourth year of homeschooling.  I will post soon on what I choose and why I chose it.

May the Fourth Be With You

Today is Star Wars Day at our house.  Everything Star Wars.

Star Wars Concentration...

Star Wars Pajamas...

Darth Vader Costumes...

Yoda Punch...Yes, it is just a lovely shade of green...

You name it...We are putting a Star Wars Twist on it.

And so, in that light...I have found some wonderfully funny Star Wars songs that I would like to share with you.  They are YouTube videos, all Lego, some Weird Al, but some are other songs I just happened to find looking for Star Wars stuff for this day.  But there is also some education in this...Be sure to watch the last one!!!  Be sure to put on your speakers!!!


Vader Orchestra

The Saga Begins

Star Wars Cantina   OR

Star Wars Cantina Sing-Along

(Both Cantina Videos should be viewed by parents before hand as there are some graphic parts from the movie.  Be the judge for your own children)

Grocery Store Wars

So, just what are we going to do besides dress up like Darth Vader (and Mommy like Leia because I always wanted Bagels stuck to the side of my head but never had the hair to do it...okay...so that's not true...the bagel part...)

Well, first we're going to do a comparison between the Star Wars movies and other movies/books we are familiar with - Good Versus Evil type stuff.  We're going to do a quick peek at how Anakin Skywalker can be viewed as a tragic character with deep conflict going on within him and how that conflict is so easily manipulated by Palpatine/Darth Sidious, a Dark Lord of the Sith.  And while Anikin/Darth Vader might turn to the Dark Side, how he eventually redeems himself.  A little deep some say, but I think at 8 Squirt can handle it in the context of Star Wars.

As well, we're going to toss in some fun by making our own "Death Star" - out of paper mache, of course.  We also have some origami stuff - I found some wonderful Star Wars origami as well as some great Star Wars printables so be sure to check it out for your own Kiddos.  Squirt will need help with it, but the end result should be pretty neat and we're hoping to have two or three new "toys" in the end.

We also have a few Star Wars games for the computer - DroidWorks, for example.  Check out Lucas Learning for further lesson plans using these games.  Since we are studying Simple Machines in science, we are going to look at pulleys using Training Mission 3 of DroidWorks.

We will also practice our multiplying skills with a rousing game of "Star Wars" - simply a deck of cards with the face cards removed.  The dealer deals out the deck so the two players each have half a deck which is kept face down in front of the player.  Each of the two players flips their top card over - the first person to answer with the correct product wins both cards.  (Of course, the youngest of the two goes first when playing with Mom or Dad!!!  And often is allowed to win when Mom or Dad is just a bit slower...)  Play continues until one player holds all the cards.  Luckily, we actually have Star Wars cards for this!  But any deck will do OR you can make your own using various printables found on the net and card stock.  Simply print the Star Wars images you like and using number stamps or markers add the various numbers to the cards for a deck of 20, 30 or even 50 or more.  Laminate if you wish.  (I would, since Squirt loves to play card games such as War, Dutch Blitz, etc)

I was also thinking of doing a movie poster or short story as practice for adjectives - describing the war or the movie using plenty of adjectives and examining what adjectives are, etc...But we will see about time.  I don't want to spend too much time on "desk stuff" when it is supposed to be a FUN FILLED day!

After we are done "school" stuff, then we are going to wait for Squirt's best buddy to be dismissed from his school (public school) and he's going to rush right over with his Star Wars costume and the boys are going to have light saber battles, a Star Wars treasure hunt, building a Tie Fighter our of cardboard and then settling down to watch one or two (or more) of the Star Wars movies. 

For some reason, Squirt's best buddy does not have school on Wednesday so after a quick discussion with BB's mother it was decided that the boys could spend the night together and they will be allowed to stay up a bit later...so if the movies go a bit late, that is fine with me, so long as they don't go and do something really silly like wake up at 4 in the morning!  (yes, they have been known to do that!) 

So our Star Wars event will be going on "late" into the night...

And it will include a Star Wars meal...of Blasteroids (apple dumplings), Naboo Nuggets (chicken nuggets), Fried Light Sabres (yes, fries) as well as a Jabba Salad (gotta get veggies in there somehow!)

Until later...

A Jedi's strength flows from the Force.

-- Yoda

I Feel So LOST

I learned a long time ago not to rely on electronic gizmos to hold all my life in one convenient place.  I had a PDA type planner once upon a time and guess what?  It bit the dust one afternoon and nothing could be retrieved.  Probably did not help matters that it actually fell into a mud puddle but that is a whole other issue.

So instead of buying another PDA (they were very expensive back then and just did not have the funds to purchase another one) I just started using a small binder type planner that you could easily add pages to, take pages out and another cool feature - you could draw in the cover with markers and decorate it with stickers!  (Okay, so maybe that isn't a real good selling point BUT it was something I did to make it MINE.  I had gold and silver markers and later found some cool metallic rainbow shades and had swirls and flowers and such - everyone around KNEW that black binder with all the doodles was MINE!)

I kind of got used to writing my stuff down on paper, with ink...the "old fashioned way".  I did not have to worry about batteries.  I did not have to recharge it constantly.  I did not have to think about the batteries being low and the power being out so I could use the binder ANYWHERE and ANYTIME!

It held my life.  Addresses.  Phone numbers.  Birthdays.  Anniversaries.  What I was going to be doing eight weeks from next Friday.

Everything was in there except lesson plans and unit plans because those were all in the teacher planner that the schools provided for me at the beginning of every year.  But that little binder did hold lesson and unit ideas I wanted to try, books I wanted to look at for the classroom, lists of items I wanted to check out on my next trip to the teaching supply store, etc.

But then I left the world of having a paid job and entered motherhood.  There was no use for a planner planner in the sense that I had to schedule every moment of every day.  I was simply at home and if I wanted to go uptown to buy shoes I would simply pack up Baby and go uptown and buy shoes.  BUT I still used it to plot out certain things - gifts I wanted to make for people, baking for Christmas, renovations for the house, as well as keeping track of work hours for the employees (because Hubby did not always do it) and get togethers with friends where I would have to make sure Hubby was home rather than take Baby with me.

Well, Baby got older and became Squirt and started school (kindergarten) and I returned to work.

I started to rely more and more on my little binder once again.  Work hours...Baby sitter hours...Date nights...Grocery lists and "pick up before going home" kind of stuff...Squirt's group things that I also had to plan for (like Beaver scouts) and all that kind of stuff.

Then we started homeschooling and the little binder was no longer big enough.  I purchased a larger binder that could easily hold all my units, lessons, weekly and daily plans, curriculum outlines, books we were using, books I wanted to check out, books I wanted to order from the library, books I wanted to purchase from Amazon...AND it still held everything else about my daily life - my scheduled time to work on Hubby's books, Squirt's practices and lessons outside the home, wrap up parties for the season, Beaver plans, renovation schedule, my new gardening plan for the flower beds, web sites I wanted to check out that people have mentioned to me...EVERYTHING was once again written down on paper for me to quickly look up, and all in once convenient place in my binder.

But all that ended yesterday at approximately 8 pm.

Beavers ended at 7:30.  The other leader and I talked for a bit while we cleaned up, regrouping our thoughts about how the meeting went and discussing next week's meeting (we are focusing on Earth Day, the 3 Rs and environmental issues over the next month) as well as trying to decide on a date for our year end and what we are going to do.

We stepped outside the scout hall and set the alarm and locked up while the kids ran around.  She called her hubby to tell him they were done and we stood there talking until he arrived.  While we were talking, I set my binder down.  Not sure where.  I think I just put it on the bumper of the truck.  They left.  We left.

Binder stayed.

I got home and realized when I got in that I didn't have my binder and I was going to look to see what I needed to print off for school today.  No binder...Have no idea what pages we were working on and if I had already printed them off...

Heart starts to beat a little faster BUT I go to the truck to see if I just forgot it in the backseat.


I look inside, thinking maybe I just left it by the door when I hung up my coat.


Squirt is looking.

Hubby is looking.

I am looking.

We found nothing.

Hubby was a dear and got in the truck to retrace our steps home and he found nothing but it was already getting dark so he said he might just not have seen it.

I went back there this morning...

And I found it...

Ripped apart and papers strewn about from here to there and everything soaking wet and ink running everywhere and who knows what else.

One of the Beaver parents lives across the street from the hall and she saw us in the parking lot.  She wandered over and mentioned that there were a group of teens hanging around the hall last night around 11 pm and she actually had to call the police because they were drunk and she suspected they were also using IV drugs because there were needles there earlier that the fire department came and cleaned up after she called them.  They had spray painted a few houses in the area and broke some vehicle windows and then she noticed them at the scout hall and that is when the police arrived.

She said it was likely that they were the ones who completely ripped apart my binder - the cover was completely ripped from the hinges and paper ripped and tossed about all over.

She helped me clean up the mess but there was no way I could save anything that was written.  Not that I would have wanted to.  She had grabbed rubber gloves from her place so we could clean up the mess simply because we just aren't sure exactly what these kids had done to the stuff.  And no, it wasn't the work of a dog...there were no teeth marks or paw prints on anything and given the mud situation, there would have been muddy paw prints on something.

So today, I am replanning...


Squirt's marks that were recorded are gone - not that it really matters.  The district does not require that we hand in marks, just a simple portfolio (even pictures will do) showing that he is actually learning at home rather than simply sitting there playing playstation all day (as the superintendent says).  I had the marks more as a reminder for him - he likes being able to see "98%" or "A" written under spelling, or history, or grammar.  He likes to see "Level U Completed" after a bunch of As and Bs.  It was something I used to show him how far he's come and he loved it.

But the thing that upsets me the most is the hours of planning I had that I now have to do over again.  Because we are schooling year round this year, I had planned everything up to June, and had not just an outline for all we are going to do in July, August and September - including outlines for unit plans I want to do with him when we are camping and out in nature every day - but had already began to "flesh things out" including where we would be in science by the end of September and where we would be in Canadian history and Saskatchewan history by the end of September.

And all my addresses are gone...telephone numbers...email addresses...birthdays and anniversaries...

And today I just feel lost because when the phone rang and it was a parent calling to invite Squirt to a birthday party on the 24th, I went to reach for my binder and...

It was not there...I had to honestly think about WHERE I was going to write this down even though we have a calendar hanging up on the kitchen wall with a pen right beside it!  But I don't write those things on that calendar!  I write them in my binder!!!

So this evening, I am going uptown and I am buying a new binder and some dividers.  All day today I have been visiting Donna Young's site and printing things like crazy and planning if nothing else at least what we are going to do for the next week.

But would I change and do my plans strictly on the computer?  No.  I find I am better able to plan using pen and paper...just me...but then everyone is different.  Having lost all this stuff before when my PDA went on me, I know it isn't any more reliable than pen and paper if you don't back up your information.

I will, tho, be scanning the important stuff and storing them on a disk just in case it happens again.

On Time

Time is valuable.  My time is valuable even if there are those that say I am "JUST a stay at home mom".  I still value my time and I value Squirt's time and Hubby's time...But most of all, I value OUR time together as a family.

Here's what happened that got me thinking about time.

Friends of ours have three children, all between the ages of 7 to 15.  They are always on the go doing something, trying to balance a healthy family meal and getting two vehicles to three different places every single day of the week for some sports event or music lesson or dance recital.

In short, between public school and afterschool events these children are never home.  On weekends they are driving around the province (or to other provinces) for tournements of some kind.  And if not the children, then the parents are spending their time volunteering their time to help cut down on costs - work three bingos and they will pay for hotel costs, 40 hours in the kitchen at the rec plex and your ice fees are covered, etc etc.

Honestly, it was Squirt who said "I am glad we don't do that.  I like being at home rather than driving all over to lessons and tournements."

And that is just it.  How do the kids feel about never being at home?  Do they like being dragged along to sit in a cold arena at 4:30 in the morning for a practice or would they rather be at home?  Do they like having something going on every night of the week or do they wish they could just sit at home and watch a movie and eat popcorn?

I have seen it often, as a parent and as a former ps teacher, where parents schedule so much into their children's week but fail to ask the children what THEY want.  Personally, I think children NEED downtime as much as they need these other things.  Yeah, okay, your child loves to play baseball.  Get him on a team, sure...BUT does he also need to be on the soccer team and attend spring hockey training and music lessons at the same time OR is that what Mom and Dad want?

We asked Squirt what he wanted.  He loves bowling...He loves golf...He loves swimming.  So in the winter, he does bowling on the weekends.  In the summer we take swimming lessons at the outdoor pool.  In the spring when bowling ends, we start with the golf lessons.

The rest of his time, away from scheduled school time, is HIS time.  If he wants to take out a football and toss it around in the backyard with his friends, he is FREE to do so!  If he wants to practice his putting on the front lawn, he is free to do so because we aren't rushing off to daily swimming lessons just before baseball practice and then tomorrow we have to rush to music lessons before soccer just before rushing off to our weekly scout meeting.

I think people forget that children need the structure BUT they need the downtime to just be kids as well.

And I think parents need that as well.  Time to just sit and watch the children chasing bubbles and running through water sprinklers in the backyard while sipping lemonade.

I think we've forgotten that.

April Fools

It seems we have a little jokester in our midst.  I woke this morning to

  1. Salt in the sugar bowl
  2. Sugar in the salt shaker
  3. Toilet paper missing from the bathroom - ALL 49 rolls (just restocked because there was only one left in the cabinet)
  4. Telephone hanging upside down on the wall
  5. My Dawgs hidden away - he still hasn't told me where they are so I'm in my sock feet still and so not used to that any more
  6. Last night's knitting carefully ripped back - and he did such a wonderful job on that without a single twist, turn or lost stitch that I think someone has a new job!!! :) 
  7. My computer keyboard unplugged - noticed that one when I tried logging on the computer
  8. Mouse missing from computer desk
  9. Work folders missing from box - guess he figured if they were gone there would be no school???
  10. Clocks all set at different times - stove said 10:30, microwave said 3:45, wall clock in kitchen was at 6:23 or something like that and livingroom claimed to be 4:50
He also pulled a few pranks on Daddy this morning.
  1. Reset his alarm clock so Daddy ended up waking to his usual 6:15 alarm at 3:50 in the morning
  2. Reset the alert on the cell phone so it is programmed to go off at various times through the day with the message "April Fools!" - Hubby said it has gone off 12 times so far - twice within three minutes.  We didn't even know he knew how to set the alerts.  Heck, WE don't even know how to set the alerts!!!
  3. Hid his van keys
  4. Hid his work boots
  5. Hid his work hat
  6. Hid his work coat
  7. Hid his lunch kit AND his lunch (which had been in the fridge - Hubby found it in the freezer - no need for an ice pack today, huh?)
So I asked him when he did all these things.  He said he woke up at 3 and had to pee and figured he would do all these things.  We did not hear a thing!  He was in our room, resetting the alarm, and we heard NOTHING!

Of course, if it was a stranger the dog would have barked and alerted us but because it was Squirt, Dog just followed him around the house...

So I asked him if there was anything else he did and he answered "Yeah, one more thing."

Just then I heard a scream from outside and he said...

"After it got light out and Daddy undid the alarm, I went outside and put a bunch of my springy snakes into the mailbox so they would jump out at the mail lady."

A Trip Across Canada

We're taking a trip across Canada...Kind of.

We're following a journey with Honey over at Sunflower Schoolhouse and we are quite excited about it.  Squirt was just asking all kinds of questions about Canada, especially after the Olympics and hearing where all the different Canadian athletes were from so this will be good for him.

So far, since Squirt was born, we've traveled through part of Saskatchewan (north of our home mostly) as well as Drumheller and parts of southwestern Alberta and into British Columbia (Okanogan region).  This summer we are hoping to hit southern Saskatchewan and into the Manitoba area.  Hubby and I toured the Riding Mountain Park area many years ago and would love to travel there again so fingers crossed that time will allow such a holiday this summer.

As we go on our journey, I will post our trip here and I will try to post pictures.  I misplaced my camera cord and the computer refuses to read the camera memory card so will have to search for the cord this weekend.  I know I was downloading pictures to the laptop over summer while we were camping so I'm thinking it might be in the camper.  I do know I will definately be posting links and images about this beautiful province I call home and talking about the things we have here.

Like I tell everyone not familiar with Saskatchewan - the only thing flat and straight about this whole province are the borders!

With a Bit of Tweaking...

Tweaking...I like that word.  It fits well with what we've done to Ms. Patrick's system.  We've tweaked it to become our own...and it works for us and our tiny space.

For us we decided to go with a file folder system simply because I wanted something that could be easily stuck away in non-school times.  We do the "hands on paper and books" time at the kitchen table...in a small kitchen...where I cook and fold laundry and do books and payroll and where we also eat.  There was simply no room in this area for a dozen workboxes regardless of how small they might have been - remember, they would have had to be large enough to accomodate the books and items we use, etc.

I found a box that works for us.  I actually found it in the basement and it was a small desk file that I used to use to hold correspondence when I was teaching.  It holds twelve file folders, neatly separated, but the box is still large enough to accomodate most of our workbooks and other items - though paint supplies still remain in the art cupboard but I simply add a sticky-note saying "retrieve red, blue and yellow paint and paint brushes from art cupboard"...not as handy but Squirt doesn't mind.

Each evening I take five minutes and gather together what we are working on the next day, fill the file box and set it on the table.  I fill Squirt's basket with the chart labels - #1, #2, #3, etc with velcro on the back - so that they are ready to go first thing in the morning.  I have a smallish basket where all the day's work goes into as Squirt finishes - math minutes sheets, file folder games, DVDs that he watched, etc.  So when I have a moment I simply reach in, check over his work and mark it complete (or incomplete) and move on.  He finishes anything I mark incomplete and then before his day is done, he has to place all papers where they belong - math minutes go into his math binder, science lapbook items go into a pouch in his science binder, etc.  Then we are done AND the table is already cleared!!!  No rushing to clear the table before setting the table for supper!

I'm sure Ms. Patrick would not approve BUT it is what works for us and that is the main point.  We are getting a lot more accomplished PLUS Squirt is enjoying his day as it is broken up - I always include a couple games every day now - be it math games, scavenger hunts, computer games or file folder games - and I am able to do this because I am better planned for our learning experience.

And lately, with the extremely warm weather we've been having here, I have been able to plan far more activities for outside - and we've adapted even further by laminating index cards and I write activities on there and OUT WE GO!  We've been at the park quite often, traipsing through what remains of the snow.  We've gone exploring the neighbourhood via the back alley.  We've examined snow crystals and "crunchy snow" (Squirt's words) and even discussed the physics behind snowmen..snow person?...We've examined trees and the buds at the very tips of the branches.  We've painted snow...We've experimented with blowing bubbles in the cooler temperatures...We've blown coloured bubbles and watched how they exploded on the white snow...

Yes, we've taken pictures of everything we've done...but I seem to have misplaced the cord that allows me to download the pictures to the computer...but as soon as I find it I will include some pictures.

So each evening, based on what the weather is going to be according to the weather channel, I will fill the file folder/workboxes, or fill the index cards with various outdoor activities and our day is set.