Wednesday, January 31, 2007

P!nk - Dear Mr. President Live At Wembley Tour DVD

My mom sent me this video and I loved it. It shares my sentiments exactly. I especially liked the part:

"How can you say no child is left behind
we're not dumb and we're not blind
they're all sitting in your cells
while you pave the road to hell"

Monday, January 29, 2007

Deschooling-Unschooling Voices Blog Carnival

Unschooling Voices blog carnival theme for February is deschooling. I first want to preface this with our homeschooling journey from the beginning.

I initially heard about homeschooling from my sister in law, who was homeschooling her then 2 boys, and 1 daughter. The boys were in upper grades, and daughter was probably about 2nd grade. I really thought she was crazy (sorry Deby, I did! But know much better now! Your kids are brilliant, btw) I asked a LOT of questions. My daughter Violet was getting ready to start kindergarten, and I even went as far as registering her at the local school, which was conveniently right down the street. She was reading at that time, and had been reading since she was 3, and reading very well by 4. I went to the orientation, and was kind of surprised to hear the questions they asked her for her orientation. They wanted to know if she knew her colors, how to count to 10, her alphabet. I got to thinking, this girl is going to be really bored in kindergarten! I decided this is not what I wanted for her, and withdrew our registration soon after. I picked up "What your kindergartner should know" and decided we were going to do this on our own. I even came up with a schedule for each day (that didn't last long!).
I started reading about homeschooling, I went to a CHN homeschooling conference, I joined a homeschooling play group. We made lots of homeschooler friends, and I asked a LOT more questions. I went ahead and signed her up for a charter school mid-Kindergarten year. I did this after finding that many other homeschoolers did this as well, and that you had the option to homeschool, and yet take the benefits of their resources, as well as take classes with them if you wanted to. I loved their Resource library and was able to check out books in many different areas, science kits, art supplies. We met with an educational facilitator once a month, and she was really great. We had to turn in samples every month, and categorize them by the different standards (social studies, language arts, math, etc......) As it being kindergarten year, it was not difficult. In the meantime, I started hearing about "unschooling". I was interested in the philosophies and agreed with the idea of child lead, interest lead learning that was involved. I could see how that could work in our home. I read many books about it, in particular John Holt, and I joined unschooling discussion boards, which are a wealth of information, and unschooling blogs, to see what kind of things people were doing and how it was working in their lives.
During 1st grade year, I started to feel that I was forcing her to do things, just so that we had samples to turn into the EF. Violet started resisting the work, and didn't enjoy it. I hated doing that to her. Earlier in the school year, the EF had suggested math texts and I found that Violet really hated the textbooks. So, I would turn in papers that we had done, be it on a scrap piece of paper, or whatever was available when the real life math moments came up. I found it more and more difficult to conform to the charter's requirements, as they did not fit in with our style of learning. Even though she tested well on the STAR tests, at the end of the 1st grade year, I withdrew her from the charter, and am now filing an R4 affidavit with the state, which basically states that you are a private school. Yes, you can do this.
Even though we were kind of eclectic homeschoolers, learning in many different forms, I can say now that I believe us to be unschoolers. I guess you can say we started deschooling, once I withdrew from the charter.
I completely backed off of the math, not even mentioning the word math, as it had a very negative reaction to it from Violet. I did not require any kind of writing from her nor any particular reading. I stopped restricting tv or computer time and stopped using it as a reward or limiting it in any way, and instead allowed her to watch it when she wanted to. I don't think it's been hard for the kids (even though Olivia is only 3). They're learning that what they consider interesting to them is going to be encouraged and nurtured. The hardest part of deschooling has been my own thinking. Having had 12 years of public schools and 4 years of college, I have been very indoctrinated into the way the school system and public believe children should be taught. It is my own thinking that creates road blocks in the way that I want to raise my children. And yet, when I completely give into this new way of thinking and learning, I am constantly shown that it works and can see the joy that our family receives from it.
For my non-unschoooling, non-homeschooling blogger friends, if you are interested in learning more about these ideas, please refer to the links on the right and some of the links that I provided in this post. I am not looking for controversy, I am simply sharing our experiences as unschoolers and how it works for us. I am not suggesting that it works for everyone, or that the school system doesn't work for others.

Friday, January 26, 2007

MSO-song




MamaSaysOm's theme this week is song.
My daugther Violet and I love to watch American Idol and have watched every season so far, much to my husband's dismay (he hates the show). Needless to say I have to watch it on my DVR. My favorite singers have been Tamyra Gray (from Season 1), Kelly Clarkson (Season 1 winner, but I didn't like her as much until she made an album and had so many other good songs), Fantasia (Season 3 winner), Jennifer Hudson (S. 3) and Violet really liked Jasmine Trias from Hawaii from S.3. Anwar Robinson (S.4) was really good, Bo Bice (S.4) was good & Mario Vasquez (S4) was a little cutie who withdrew from the competion. Chris Daughtery was amazing in S5 and has a great album. Katherine McPhee and Lisa Tucker (both S5) had great voices. I didn't care for Carrie Underwood or Taylor Hicks both winners from the show.
But something that really confuses me is all (many, many, which the show predominately shows early in the series) of the many really, really, bad singers there are out there that don't seem to know how bad they are. I think many of them probably just want their 15 minutes (seconds sometimes) of fame. But there are many others who appear to sincerely not understand why the judges don't like them. What is up with that???? I know that I don't have a good voice. I love to sing in my car, and sing in my home with my kids, but I never, EVER think that I could possibly be good enough to be anywhere near being the next American Idol!!! I won't even sing Karaoke! And how about those supportive family and friends of these really bad singers? What is wrong with those people? All I know is you're a real friend I really would appreciate some honesty before I go make a fool of myself in front of all America.
But, then again, I guess we wouldn't have such a fun show to watch, and I do enjoy watching it!

I've been tagged......

Crystal over at DaikiniCrossroads tagged me to share 6 weird things about yourself.
Here are the rules: Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post of their own 6 weird things as well as clearly state this rule. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says, "You’re tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means.
Here goes:

1. I am a major packrat. I keep everything, even empty egg cartons and magazines (boxes). I still have stuff from the 70s, a bunch of lps, and I have NO record player!!!! My excuse is that I will need it, or that I can use it for crafts, which is partly true....

2. I can't drink my tea upside-down (mum trained me right). You must pour your milk and sugar first, then the tea (brewed in a teapot) over the tea.

3. I don't kill spiders. I save them and release them outside.

4. I love cats! Yes, I'm a crazy cat lady. I have owned 5 cats at one time in the past, and would do so now, if hubby was okay with it. I have probably over 200 cats in different shapes and forms (figurines, plates, pictures, books, anything you can think of, I have)

5. I believe in reincarnation. Sassy came back as a yellow finch, and Sweetpea is a dragonfly. My daughter Violet, says she was Cleopatra, hey, why not????

6. I always leave at least one pan or dish in the sink, after washing dishes. I think it's the rebellious teen in me. I'm also a procrastinator.

7. (extra tidbit) I was going to say that I like peanut butter and honey, but not sure it's that weird.

I'm tagging:

Betty
Amanda
Elaine
OhtheJoys
QueenofMayhem
Terri

Have fun! Feel welcome to join, if I havent' tagged you, and post in comments so that I can check yours out!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Unschooling (getting it)

Yesterday, Olivia spent a good part of the day playing on the Nickjr website. She played Dora, Diego, Backyardigans, a Robot game, and a few more. She didn't want to leave it all day. I asked her several times if she was hungry, and she said no. Finally, I had already made her some eggs and toast, I brought it to her, and she ate it while playing the games. She also did this with lunch. I kept checking on her, and she needed help a few times, when she would accidently right click, but otherwise she played with it for probably several hours. Then, at bed time, she again wanted to play with it. It was already 8pm and I was thinking, but she really needs to go to bed. So I asked her if she was getting tired, would she like to hear a story, and again, she said no, she wanted to play with the computer. Even though I could tell she was getting tired, I let her play and told her I was going in the other room with her sister to read some stories. I left her and Violet and I went and read American Girl's Emily, about an English girl in America during WWII. We were reading the part where her parents leave her on a train to get away from the bombing and to leave for America, where she would be safe (with Molly's family). I mentioned it was just like when the children in Narnia left their mom for the war. Violet then said, yes mom, I think it is the same because it was during WWII and they were bombing London. Mmmm, she already knows WWII history....and she didn't learn it in a textbook. Earlier, when I walked in the room, she was playing with her Bratz laptop. She said to me, "Mom, this has a lot of math in it." I said, "Oh, are you learning a lot of math? It's not like the textbooks is it?" She said, "No it's fun, hey mom, I like math!" This is a girl, who after 1 year of charter school, hated math! Since we've decided to unschool, I have completely backed off of math, and allowed her to lead me in her interests be it just doing art all day, playing nintendo, watching Avatar, or whatever, and she is discovering that she enjoys it and wants to learn it (math). My mom has been playing store with her, a game she loves to play since she was very young. Last time, she was there, mom gave her a check register and showed her how to use it. Again, learning math in a fun way. As I trust the unschooling philosophies more and more, I see almost on a daily basis how it is working for us. I learn so much from reading the Unschooling Discussion lists and links provided there. I have also read quite a few books that have inspired me, and just felt "right" to me, as I read them.Back to Olivia.......she came in about 15 minutes later. No fighting, crying or trouble about going to bed. She was ready. Again, it's the peaceful, joyful parenting I've been reading on the message boards that is helping us live a more joyful life.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sing Hooo for the expedition.....

Sing ho, for the life of a bear.....
I love this kind of week, when we really don't seem to do a whole lot, but we really did do a whole lot. What we really did, is a have a lot of simple fun. We went to Unschool park day on Monday and got to meet two of my blogger buddies that happen to be unschoolers too. Amanda from Growgreengrapes and Elaine from Wannabehippie and Mamasaysom. It was so nice to meet them both. They are both exactly as I imagined them to be from corresponding to them on their blogs, nice & friendly, and their children are as adorable, if not more, than the pictures I've seen of them online.
Afterwards, we stopped by a thrift store, which happened to be very pricey, but had a lot of good quality items. They had some really nice kids' clothing, so we picked up a few things for Violet. Violet found an anime doll, and Olivia found some trucks. I also picked up a few books; Stephen King's Dreamcatcher (I used to read him all the time, and haven't read one in years, and just thought it would be fun to read one after so long, I love a good scare!), Anne Rice The Vampire Armand (surprisingly, have never read before), Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, John Grisham's The Summons, (again haven't read any of his in a long time), and this one, An Obvious Enchantment by Tucker Malarkey, which has a very interesting cover, and the summary inside sounded intriguing. A women in search of her professor, of which no one has heard from in months, who has gone to an island to unravel a legend about an ancient African king. Anway, sounded interesting to me.
We also went over my friend Renee's house for a few hours this week. The kids played, we picked up our tye-dye shirts from last week, and we went for a little walk in her neighborhood. It was a lovely, clear day out, and the kids brought biscuits for the neighbor's dogs. Renee's little black cat followed us for a short distance, until a neighborhood cat chased her up a tree. We got to see the neighbors' horses, goats, cows. The kids pretending to be explorers and picking up things along the way.
Today, we started on some ATCs for the very first time. We joined Imagination Tribe's Yahoo group. Violet and I made some Canine ATCs and I made some Valentine's ATCs to swap. It was really fun, something I hope to be able to do more often. Violet also made a Princess door hanger out of old magazines (from Fairy Princess things to make and do, by Usborne) and she made one for her friend Laurun, who is coming over this weekend.
Violet had her ballet class this week and I had my digital photography class with Palomar College. Olivia has gynnastics tonight. So, even though it doesn't seem busy, it all seems to add up. Oh yes, and we recieved our blog journal of our Flat Travelers trip to Indiana last summer. We had fun reading that and seeing the pictures. You can check that out here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The road less traveled

Olivia looking at the lagoon
Monday, we went to Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad with our girl scout troop. We went to learn how to do geocaching. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache. (copied from here: geocaching) There were only a few units, so we didn't really get to see how it works. But, I'd really like to get our own and try it out again another day. It's funny how you can have plans layed out and your (mine) heart set on something and have it turn into something completely different. Violet was just coming down with a cold and didn't really have her heart in it. So, about 1/3 way into it, at the first cache, she felt like heading back. At first, I was really disappointed because "I" wanted to do it. But, realizing she was tired because of her cold, and plus it was really too far for Olivia, we headed back. What's great though, is that we really took our time coming back and noticed so much more that we had missed heading out, by trying to keep up with the group. There was so much wildlife, and beautiful surroundings, that we could stop and enjoy it, and talk about it. We met a really nice dog with blue eyes and tossed a stick for him to fetch a few times. We stopped at the Nature center and saw so many interesting things there; animal skeletons, rocks, shells, nests, information about the lagoon. It is definately a place I would like to return to, and hopefully we can go all the way down, and perhaps try out the geocaching again. What I learned is that I need to listen, trust, and slow down and enjoy more.
MockingbirdOur mother earthBatiquitos Lagoon
More photos here

Round and Round it goes.....

Voila! La Spin Art!

We received a Rotator Painter from our friends, the Bronkalls for Christmas. With it being so cold out, (30s), it was a great day for trying it out. Plus, we've all had colds and just wanted to stay in the nice warm house. I love how the kids just come up with their own "spin" on how to create art. Instead of just a little drop here and there, they would put globs of paint, then put on the glitter while it was still rotating. I've been real careful not to say, "here, do it this way"(my way), and just let them create in their own ways, and they come up with some really amazing things.

Olivia creatingViolet creating some spin art
Spin Art

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Frogs & Toads

Olivia and tree frog

Friday, we went to our science unit group at my friend Renee's house to learn about frogs and toads. She read the children a book, Growing Frogs, by Vivien French, about frogs and their life cycles. The kids listened attentively and asked alot of great questions. They then played a game where they would pretend to be either a frog or a toad. Renee would say a fact about one or both and the kids had to answer by hopping. They would hop if the fact applied to them. Some of the facts applied to both frogs and toads, then all of the kids would hop up and down. They love playing these games, and they get all giggly and silly. It's so much fun to watch them. The kids then got to paint little terra cotta pots, which will be frog "houses". You just set them sideways in the mud, with a little moss in them, and the frogs will live in them. We have quite a few in our backyard, so it will be interesting to see if they do use them. After lunch, we did some tye-dying. We tye-dyed a few shirts. Renee is going to set the colors and we'll get them next time, so I'll post pictures of those later. Lastly, Renee let the kids hold their White Tree Frog, and pet a Fire-bellied toad. He was very sticky and soft, and appeared to be very tame. We also got to bring home a tadpole. I'm not sure what kind of frog it will be, but it is rather big, at least an inch long, and already has two little stubs in the back where his back legs will be.
More information available at:
http://www.allaboutfrogs.org/
www.enchantedlearning.com
And tye dye info at:
http://www.dharmatrading.com/

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Our little gymnast, Olivia

Tumbling Olivia
Yesterday, Olivia went to her first gymnastics class. I had been feeling kinda guilty, because you know, when you have your first child, and you get so excited about doing new things with them, you tend to go a little overboard and try to do everything. Violet went to Gymboree, mommy & me, gymnastics, dance, all kinds of fun stuff when she was 2-3yrs old. Olivia is going on 4, so I really felt it time to get her involved in something of her own. I knew she would probably love it, and of course, she did! She ran around so enthusiastically, with all the other little girls, and one boy. I was afraid she'd find it too girly, but she loved every moment of it. She attempted everything the teacher asked her to, and chatted amicably to her new little friends as she waited for her turn. I'm so proud of her. Of course, she said she wants to go back next week, so I signed her up.

A Pirate's life for me

Reading the letter from the bottle
We were invited to Violet's old Brownie troop's Pirate party this week. She had been with this troop for 3 years, as a Daisy then up to 2nd year Brownie, when we moved. They are about an hour away, so it's been hard to keep in touch with them, especially with all of our new activities that we have going on in our new community. So, she was really excited about seeing all her old Brownie friends and really enjoyed the party with them. They were given a bottle with a note in it, which turned out to be a treasure hunt. We then went through the park looking for the clues listed in the note. When they finally returned to the meeting place, there were chocolate cupcakes with gold (chocolate) coins on them. They got to enjoy some other yummy treats, and play a few pirate games. I love seeing the look of joy on my children's faces when they are with their really good friends. Even Olivia, got to see her little friend CJ, and play sword fights with him. We miss you guys, and will try to make it out more often!

Delurking, making new friends

Domino Delurking
I read at Wannabehippie that it is national delurking week, so I thought what a great way to find new blogs to read, and potentially make new friends. When I first started blogging I never realized how huge the blogger thing was, and how many interesting people with similar interests (as well as not similar) you can find out in the internet world. I first found blogging through clicking on a link on a Yahoo group post. I noticed that posters would put a link under their name at the bottom of the post. I think I initially did this with an unschooling group, so the first blogs I read were unschoolers, where I found many great blogs about the daily lives of unschoolers like SandraDodd, where you can find many other great unschooling links, Learning in Freedom, Unschooling blog ring. After that, I found many mommy blogs, and from there, many creative, artistic, be it writing, painting, gardening, knitting, sewing, scrapping, photography, and even thrifting, there are way too many to name. I've also found many really funny writers such as OhTheJoys, TheDigression. I've made new friends which include Amanda at Growinggreengrapes, Betty at Waya, and kept in touch with old ones; Crystal at DaikiniCrossroads. This internet world is amazing. My only problem is finding the time to do it all. You can really get wrapped up in it. I tend to go in in the mornings before the girls wake up, and occassionally will have a late night just staying up reading all the interesting blogs out there. How did you find blogging? What do you think about it? Have you made new friends? Any negative experiences. How did you find me? Come on, it's delurking week, so let me know what you think. And, if you haven't commented before but have read my blog, "it's nice to meet you!", I'll check out your blog when you leave a post.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Violet's New Year's Resolutions for 2007


Violet's New Year's Resolutions for 2007
Originally uploaded by mandaroo63.

I can't figure out how to post this in the prior blog, but here's Violet's resolutions that I posted about in the prior blog......I love the little graphics that she included!

Uberlist----MSO

Mama Says Om's theme this week is Uberlist. Since Violet and I had started on lists on Dec 31st, thought I'd post them here. Mine is pretty boring the usual stuff, but I had fun making one up for Olivia, and Violet had a nice list. I'll make a more detailed list for myself later, (it'll probably still be boring, but if I put it out there in writing, perhaps it will make me more conscious of fulfilling them!)
Here's Violets (if I had scanner set up, I'd post a picture, because she has some cute little pictures on hers, I'll take a picture and post on Flicker later....) ....Here it is.......
1)Clean my room at least 1x aweek
2)Eat Good
3)Stay fit
4)Be nice to Sis

Here's Olivia's (of course, with my help!!!)
1)No temper tantrums
2)Be potty trained
3)Stay adorable!
4)AND......SAVE THE WORLD FROM BAD VILLAINS!!!!

Come to think of it, I like both of their uberlists. Maybe it's that simple........
Happy New Year all my blogger friends & family! Hope you have a year filled with happiness, peace, love and serenity!


(010307)
Okay, finally got around to my real uberlist, here it is.....
CRAFT
Work on scrap books
Start/join an altered book round robin group
Take digital photography class
Actually go to photo meetup group that I joined
Actually go to scrappin meetup group that I joined
Try out ATC card swapping

FINANCIAL
Payoff AE debt for photo equipment
Be able to have some positive income from photo business by end of year

FRIENDS
Send bday cards, thinking of you cards, just because cards
Go to MNO with either homeschool groups, or other new friends I’ve made out here

HEALTH
Cut back, or totally eliminate sugar
Walk more
Run and play with kids, rather than just watch them run & play
Ride my bike
Get mouse out of treadmill and use it!

HOME
Be better organized
Less clutter
Give to thrift store, stop trying to say, “but I can sell that on ebay, honey!”
Don’t buy stuff at thrift store just because it’s a good deal
Cut back on book buying, and donate books we probably won’t or have already read

LOVE
Plan date nights with hubbyInitiate romance with him more frequently
Leave him little love notes
Call him “just because” more often

PERSONAL GROWTH
Go to UU again (went first time last week), maybe join
Go to new women’s group I attended last month at UU monthly
Meditate, spend some quiet alone time daily

READING
Read more often, even if it’s just 15 minutes after kids go to bed, or before they wake up
Start reading some of the classics I’ve been collecting
Get rid of all those silly self help books I still have from when I was a confused 20 something….
Keep having fun reading stories to the kids, perhaps take them to book stores more often (B&N) for the story times & activities

TRAVEL
Go somewhere exotic with hubby for 10th anniversary this year.
Go to unschool group get together in OR in April or Live, learn Conference later in year
Go camping out of state
Convince hubby it’s safe to travel to Mexico (perhaps San Felipe, or Puerta Vallarta, or even Cabo San Lucas)

VOLUNTEER
Volunteer through UU at soup kitchen
Join Kids Korps with Violet
Help out with 4H volunteer community projects
Volunteer to run a project for 4H

WHIMSY
Try a new hairstyle/color
Buy wear the clothes/jewelry I really want to wear (more of a bohemiam/retro/hippie look
Wear what I want to wear without worrying what other people think
Learn to play guitar
Paint a mural in remodeled barn
Find some cool fun deco for the barn (a carosel animal, pinball machines, old movie posters…..)

WRITING
Write in my journal (still not willing to write that stuff on my blog)
Write down some of the stories I make up and tell the children about them (Olivia the Superhero, Olivia the Little Hercules, Violet the Fairy,…..)
Write more letters, or emails to friends more frequently