Saturday, March 31, 2007

Unschooling Voices for April

Unschooling

Here are a set of altered pages I made for Unschooling Voices entry for April. These pages are for Violet, and I will be making some for Olivia also. The theme was "Use the letters U-N-S-C-H-O-O-L to write about unschooling. Use what ever method you want, for example you can use each letter like "U is for..., N is for..". Or you can have each letter start a new sentence or paragraph or try writing an acronym." Here is the link for other entries: Unschooling Voices . You can see both pages below (but probably can't read what it says due to the ink that I used). But, it says:
Unique
Nintendo Allowed!
Strewing
Connections
Outside the box
Original
LIfe is Good!!!!! Unschooling-Violet's pages

Friday, March 30, 2007

Time to do some gardening!


Olivia and flower
It is certainly looking like Spring is here. The fields are green, wildflowers popping up everywhere, warm afternoons. I went to a nursery about a week ago, and they didn't have any flowers in yet, and all of their tropical plants had died in the frost. Then, yesterday, we went by KMart and a nursery was delivering a truck full of colorful flowers to their gardening area. I just picked up a few, I couldn't resist. I picked up some anemones, dusty miller and some little white daisies. I'm not quite ready to plant. Have been weeding and getting rid of some of the dead growth, but I must bunny proof the garden area, or everything will be rabbit grub. He's already chewed up the girls' two little strawberries that we planted as well as been chomping on my Sassy yellow rose, which had survived the frost, but practically gone to the bunny!
The week started with Violet having a fever. Really weird, she only had it for about 24 hours and no other symptoms, but once gone, she felt fine again. Tuesday she had an appointment with an oral surgeon. She has two extra teeth between her top front baby teeth and the adult teeth above them. She is going to need them pulled , or else the adult teeth will not come down. She's not too happy about it. But, I had the Dr. explain it to her and go through what the procedure will be like. She's scheduled for April 24th. I didn't want to plan it next to their birthdays (April 2nd and April 7th), didn't want to ruin the fun for her. Olivia is officially potty trained! She pretty much trained herself. I always knew that when she was ready she would just go for it! She made up her mind and started using it all on her own! I helped initially with the wiping, but she is now quite capable of handling it herself! It seemed practically overnight.
Nana came out and visited this week and the girls were quite happy to see her. We made a trip to the thrift store and went out for some lunch. The girls got a couple of early bday presents, so were quite excited about that. Last Friday we had our science group. The kids made some ovens out of pizza boxes, foil, clear plastic, and black paper. They heated up some marshmallow and chocolate on graham crackers. So, they were learning about the sun's energy. They also compared ice cubes melting on different colors of paper.
Today, Violet had her 1st official book club meeting. They read Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. She started with the girls introducing themselves and telling a little about themselves. They talked about their favorite characters, least favorite characters, favorite & funniest parts in the story. They made some bookmarks, and decided on a book for next month, Peter Pan. It was a really nice day, and the siblings played, and moms visited while the girls had their meeting. We also had our friend Renee's son Jared and daughter Sammy join us in the group. We're looking forward to reading next month's book.
A busy week coming up next week. We'll be going to Disneyland, having a birthday party, and the usual busy schedule. Will update with plenty of photos!

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's Springtime at the Wild Animal Park

Cub close-up
We met our friends Amanda (Growgreengrapes) and Lucy at the Wild Animal Park for a great day of walking around and playing and seeing the animals, of course! It was a perfect day, cool yet sun was peeking out a little, at least until we left to go home. First thing kids want to do is get up on the rhino sculpture and play, next the carousel.....
The lion, the little girl & the carosel
We went to see the flamingos, the gorillas, the meerkats, feed the ducks, the lions. There are so many things to see, it is hard to see it all in one visit. The kids enjoyed the new hilly grass area over by the kids sprinklers area. I think that was probably the best fun that they had! We went on the new tram ride. They've taken out the train, and replaced it with a fuel efficient vehicle. We saw so many amazing animals, including the cheetahs and the giraffes.
Giraffe
There was lots of color going on too. The flowers and trees were blooming, the birds were making new nests, the antelope were courting. It looks like Spring is here!
Colorful
For more photos from the set, see my Flicker

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cuddles

Cuddles

It's a good thing Domino is so lovey. Olivia likes to grab him, cuddle on him, it's so sweet. At least she's not pulling his tail anymore! He's purring here in this picture. He loves to cuddle up with the kids. When Violet goes to bed, he curls up next to her head and purrs! He loves to terrorize Abby, our older cat. Abby is so mellow, she just hisses then runs away. Domino likes to get out. I think it's because he was born outside. My friend rescued him from a motel. He was in a box with some other kittens, so she rescued them, brought them home, got them spayed and gave them shots, then found homes for some of them. He chases Max our rabbit, and stalks the birds, fortunately not catching any, yet.... He has this bad habit of knocking over cups of water. So, I really have to stay on the kids about not leaving any cups of water around. He is constantly eyeing our parakeet, Speedy. He is just such a macho kitty.

Food coloring, Dawn, cornstarch and waterViolet making some bubble sculptures
Been busy as usual. Friday we met our science group at the park, and played with bubbles. They were learning about "surface tension and geometry", or at least that was the intention. But hey, they had lots of fun mixing, blowing, creating bubbles, as well as running, jumping, playing with their buddies. They learned how to make the bubble mixture; Dawn, water, cornstarch (to make the bubbles stick). They added colors to create bubble sculptures. They made wands out of pipe cleaners, and giant wands with pipe cleaners and string. They made cards by touching the bubbles with paper, it made some interesting, colorful designs. For photos, see my Flicker Science group pictures.
Sculpey clay doll by Violet

Saturday, we had our arts and crafts group here at our home, and the moms created Pop-up Triangle books, while the kids created with Sculpey clay and played in the back yard. My hubby had remodeled the "barn" into a playroom and studio. It's not really a barn, just an exterior building. But, we were able to set up crafts in there comfortably. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect temp in the 70s. So, we all had a good time!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Boys and their Toys

Boys and their Toys

My husband is the ultimate Tim Taylor, along with his accident prone ways. Give him a power tool, and you'll hear the primeval , "UGH, UGH, UGH" excited grunt come forth! He, He, okay maybe I'm exaggerating! Is it a man thing, though? When I told my friend and her husband, whose house we were over at playing, while hubby was home working, "Oh, Dan rented a backhoe and is tearing up the yard". My friend's hubby said, "Oh FUN!". The kids had fun riding in in with him as well, especially Olivia. My front yard is currently a war zone. He demolished the existing brick, tore down some trees, tore down the fence, and he's got this big huge dusty grin on his face the whole time. Gotta love that man!
On the unschooling front, we've been busy as usual. We went back to the Science Museum with some unschooling friends. This time we went to the arboretum and mostly the kids did a lot of running around the fountain. Violet took lots of pictures with her new Canon Powershot. They also revisited the Grossology. Olivia really loves the faucet snot man. We've also been to a few park days, and finishing up on delivering girl scout cookies. Selling cookies has been a mixed blessing. I volunteered to take over as Cookie mom, since ours was moving out of state (What was I thinking!!! Insane moment!) and Violet has been doing a great job selling cookies door to door and at booth sales. She reached her goals and is excited about the cool gifts she'll be getting. It has been great in that she set goals for herself, decided how many she needed to sell, how she was going to sell them. She had to count out money, count up orders, separate and deliver orders, collect money. So, it's been a great experience for her. I guess for me too, had to use my brain (in this manner) for once in a long while. I used to be a teller at a bank a long, long time ago, so it brought back some teller memories for me . Violet has had 4H this week, where they had an American Idol type show. She got up and sang the A,B,C song with her friend Erika. (I'd post the video, but Violet would kill me!) Quite brave of her, really! Olivia is enjoying her gymnastics. I wish she could go more often than once a week, she loves it so much, and is making new friends. Violet has made friends with one of the girl's sisters and they play Nintendogs in the waiting area. There is a Bark Mode where you can interact with friends on their Nintendos, meet them at the park and trade toys. Speaking of Nintendos, Violet has been playing hers a LOT and I was concerned but have read much about it on Unschooling Discussion boards and linked articles and am really starting to believe in the worth of the games. Not only the enjoyment that she gets from it, but also the connections that come from it are really quite amazing. Violet asks me a question, seemingly out of the blue, but usually comes from something she is playing, and it turns into a discussion, leads to another form of learning, and so on, and so on. For example, she asked me about waxing and waning. I knew it had to do with lunar activity but not sure exactly what, so we looked it up in the dictionary. Next, she is playing on Pokemon website, which I had learned about from an Anime discussion board, and there is a science link with information about, guess what......lunar activity, and a description of waxing and waning. This is just a tiny example of what happens in relation to Nintendo, but I see it with many things that she is interested in. I see it often with anything related to Japan, and Asian Culture, Cabbage Patch dolls, and, and, and....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Artist's Way

Olivia's ATC
We made some atcs the other day for an atc swap with Imagination Tribe. The theme was Elements, or Fire, Water, Earth and Wind. Violet came up with a great idea to use real dirt for the earth element. So she went out and got a scoop and we glued it to the cards. I really like that she was inspired by the Avatar show that she loves so much in recreating the symbols for the elements on her cards. Her creativity always amazes me. Olivia wanted to try it to, so I gave her a precut 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. piece of cardstock, and let her go at it. She painted it with watercolor then experimented with glue on top of that. It came out really neat! I love that kids have no preconceived ideas of what art "should" be. The ideas just naturally flow and they incorporate things they see and hear about to add to it. I on the other hand, often have mental blocks that prevent me from being as creative as I would like to be. I think that long ago I learned that my art wasn't good enough, and that it was a waste of time, and that you should only pursue it (or do it) if you are really, really good, and I never felt I was good enough. It wasn't until I started doing stuff with my kids and joining groups of others that try different art forms, like altered books, scrapbooking, card making, etc. that I started to believe my art was "good enough". I recently heard about a book called The Artist's Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron and picked it up at the library. I've found it very interesting so far, especially that it comes from the perspective of someone with a 12-step background, which she incorporates throughout her book. Her chapters are actually titled "Recovering a sense of safety, recovering a sense of identity and so on... She starts with suggesting a daily morning journal. I'm going to start keeping one and see where it takes me. There are some wonderful quotes throughout the book as well. She even quoted John Holt, "We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way." The art she speaks of can be any form, be it writing, painting, photography, etc. In the meantime, we continue to enjoy learning new artforms. One being some altered bottles that we painted at an altered art group we joined recently. See my flicker for more photos.
Olivia's 1st ATC