Thursday, August 30, 2007

Picture This Thursday - Pretty

Outside the theatre
This picture came to mind for Tracey's theme this week of "pretty". This was taken 3 years ago when Violet was actually still 4! She was so girlie girl! Loved to play dress up with her friends. She was dressed up for a recital in Temecula where she danced to a song called "Cutest little piggie". It was her first time on a stage, and she did so well! It was a fun day! Violet did some hip hop last year, but really hasn't been interested this year. Except, when the radios on or we're watching HSM!!! Go see some other "pretties" at Picture This.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Brave Quest
Yeah (little pat pat on the back), this photo got featured on Mama Says Om's theme for last week, Quest. And , then I realized I never even posted this photo on my blog, from when we went to Solana Beach last week. Anyway, thought I'd share it here. It's a fun picture of Olivia running out on a quest to conquer the sea! This week's theme is cooperation, in case you'd like to join in the fun!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Feel the rain on your skin!

I was going to title this entry "what about math", but changed it to the above for the 1st photo which so much better exemplifies our lives! Running outside on an end of summer morning after a thunder storm to embrace the rain and catch raindrops on our tongue!!!! But, something I want to write about is one question that frequently comes up when others ask me about unschooling, which is "how will they learn math, how will they learn spelling, how will they learn the basics?" I know unschoolers who still use a curriculum based math program for teaching their children math. They are still not completely trusting unschooling. It has taken me a while to feel comfortable even defending this concept when I was not completely sure about it myself. But, the longer we have been following this path, the more I do trust it and am now able to share that belief with conviction to others. Today, was one of those days. I was talking to some other homeschoolers about charters, tests, field trips among a few things. And, the math question came up. It finally comes easy for me to say the things I know to be true, for us. My children are always learning. Learning from experiences that happen every day. There are too many examples to even outline here. It is all in the way we percieve things. One mother who is with a charter was describing their days and things that they do and talking about having to pick up the school resources and how they have been having so much fun and learning so much during the summer, that she really wasn't looking forward to it and wasn't sure what to get. I think she heard herself say, that they are learning more during the summer......anyway, that's what I heard! Another friend, told me recently she is only with the charter for the resources that she is given. I can only tell them what is working for us. I know that the testing that they require for children starting with grade 2 is detrimental to many. It hurts their self-esteem to be compared to others, to be measured as a success or failure dependent on their scores. It creates competitive natures (I know, some people think that's a good thing, I don't! Why do you think so many people have to be 1st at store lines, cutting you off in traffic, 1st to buy this game or that game!) I know the schools need it for their charters to go on. But, at what costs? I've seen children hurt by it. Charter resources are a bribe. Resources are found in many different ways. We pick up books, games, toys, cdrom games for next to nothing at thrift stores. I frequent book sales, library book sales, warehouse sales for deals. We watch tv programs, play on the computer. We do LOTS of art! We have get togethers with other homes/unschoolers for different projects, that the KIDS have asked for; drama club, book club, High School Musical premiere party, tea parties, science camp, American Girl club. These activities do not have to cost a lot of money. We pool our resources. Work with what we have. Use the internet for ideas. We have girls scouts, 4H, and many, many play dates and park days! We create our own field trips, often with other homeschoolers. Discounts are available at most places, and many places offer free tours for homeschoolers. As far as math, examples include; Violet was nominated treasurer for her play group (they are putting on a production of Rapaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and they will be making their own baked good and refreshments and be selling them at the show. She wants to buy a wii, and is figuring out ways to raise the money to buy it for herself. She decided she will create a new blog and sell some of her artwork on it. She also decided to sell one of her Nintendo games and went on the internet to determine what the going rate would be for it. She cooks. She made us yummy chocolate chip pancakes this morning. She asks me questions, and I sit down and listen and show her how she can figure something out. We count her money quite frequently. She may not learn the multiplication tables at the same time as her school peers, but I am confident that when the need arises she will memorize anything that she feels that she needs to (you should hear her name off all the Pokemons and their stats!) I never make her write anything. And yet, she frequently writes letters to friends and family, she makes menus, she writes in her diary, she writes comic strips. Olivia has started writing over the last few months, and she does not read yet (although I'm sure she recognizes quite a few words already-she read "Cold Stones" quite easily the other day!) She writes her name on her own. She asks me how to write something and I help her with it. She looks at words and copies them. She loves arranging things, and playing matching games on the computer. She also, like her big sister, loves to draw and especially loves to cut paper! She loves to put together and take apart things. She loves to help her daddy! Natural learning occurs ALL THE TIME!!!!! Even when we don't notice it. There are several books that I've read over the last few months that have really helped me see this. Here are a few:

Parenting a Free child an unschooled life by Rue Kream, Moving a Puddle my Sandra Dodd, Teenage Liberation Handbook (not too early to read it, even if you don't have teens yet), has some really great ideas for kids to do to follow their dreams and passions (and adults too!). Some other great books; How children learn by John Holt, Dumbing us down by John Taylor Gatto, Why Johnny can't read by Rudolf Flesch

Sounds like a lot, huh? But, I just want to show how it works for us, and am happy to share it with others who have questions about it. Mostly, it's fun to hang out with your kids everyday and get to see the learning and growth occur within them. The love of learning that occurs. The special moments, like seen above in the rain picture. It's not for everyone. But it is for us! : )

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Out of the Blue and other fun stops in Solana Beach

Livie at Solana Beach

We haven't made it to the beach as much as we'd like to this summer, but Friday, we found a new spot that we really enjoyed and met up with some good friends while there. In fact, my friend was the first to introduce me to unschooling and had referred me to some good books about unschooling. While she is taking more of a classical approach and with a charter now, she still follows her children's interests and provides them with some very enriching activities. In fact, she was Violet's art instructor at one point, and we still continue to seek her advice on art related questions. She gave me some really good advice about providing Violet with good quality art supplies. I've been giving them the kids paints and pencils, and now I think I should go out and get some good stuff and see what happens! It was a very uncrowded beach, unlike some of the other S. Ca beaches and we enjoyed walking along the Solana art district and had some coffee and goodies before heading home. There were many artsy shops and interior design shops in architecturally appealing buildings. There were garden shops, sculptures, paintings. there was even a doggy fashion shop (which was open) which had designer doggie duds! Some of those outfits were nicer than stuff I wear!!!! Unfortunately, most of the other shops were closed. But, we were able to enjoy from the windows and will plan another trip to come back soon. On the way there, we crossed a bridge over an Amtrak railroad track that ran alongside PCH and we stood in the middle (of the bridge) while a train came rumbling by underneath us, blasting it's train horn. The kids got a kick out of that (and I admit, I rather did too!!)

train is a comin'

We really enjoy spending quality time with our friends, relaxing and catching up and just having a wonderful afternoon. Here's a few more photos from the day, and there are plenty more on Flickr.

mermaid out of the blue
A beautiful tile mosaic of a mermaid in front on Out of the Blue.

A really interesting store we found called Out of the Blue. Unfortunately, closed at the time, but definately a place worth revisiting!

Out of the blue

Playing in the water:

Beach friends


Today, I fed my neighbor's pony, Snickerdoodle and brought along my camera since it was early and not too bright out yet. Here's a few shots I took and of course, more on Flickr! : )
rooster through the barn door
Mr. Rooster to you!
all dried up
Drying Sunflower

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We're all in this together!

At the High School Musical II Premiere party
My friend Dawn had this great idea that since the girls loved High School Musical so much and were all looking forward to the premiere this past Friday night of High School Musical II to have a premiere party. We invited a few girls and invited them to come dressed for a premiere or as their favorite characters. The girls enjoyed playing some Twister Moves and then playing outside for a bit before coming in for a red carpet entrance (down the hallway on red towels!) to the main theatre (our front living room). They arrived on the red carpet to silly interviewer Dan (my husband who interviewed with an Indian painted gourd!!) who asked them about their dresses, hair stylist as well as what they were looking forward to in the movie. We enjoyed some pizza, popcorn, and cake and ice cream while enjoying the new movie's premiere. It was really quite good and had a lot more singing and dancing in it then the first movie.
'Dan HSMII Premiere party
Oh, and yes mom, the girls both got hair cuts!!! Don't they look so cute?

Best Shot Monday-Fun at the Children's Museum in Chino

Mmm, chocolate cake!
Thought this was a fun shot of Olivia getting ready to bite into a big piece of chocolate cake at her friend Evan's 4th birthday this weekend at the Children's museum in Chino. It was a really neat place, and we've been there before. It's a great place for a birthday party for little ones. They have rooms with different themes like; fire dept., post office, store, plumbing, science, farm, stage for puppet shows and dress up clothes. Evan and his sister have both had several birthday parties there.
Here's a few other shots from the day.
Violet as a fireman
Violet as a fireman
Olivia and the puppets
At the children's museum
Livie on play equipment in the farm room.

Check out more Best Shot Mondays over at Picture This.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Olivia!!!!

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's FUTAB!!!!!!
I took this photo for a FUTAB (Feet Up, take a break) photo a few weeks ago, but felt it tied in perfectly for Tracey's Picture This theme this week of "fly".
Olivia is forever the little superhero that defies all limitations, flying through the sky, in her Superman cape and of course beautiful smile that softens all evil doer's hearts!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007



Rescue vehicles

7 petals

Collages by Violet & Olivia. The girls and I tried our hand at collages this week. I've really been inspired by Mademoiselle Helenina. I bought one of her collages recently and am so pleased with it. Olivia made hers with stickers and ink. Violet used magazines, watercolor and gesso.
Yummy grapes off the vine

Dan & I picked a cooler full of grapes from our grapevines yesterday. There were soooo many, that we bagged up a lot of them and will be handing them out to friends. We had mostly small, sweet green ones but also a few of the red grape ones. I'll have to call my friend Amanda at Growgreengrapes and find out her recipe for the yummy jelly she brought me when she was out here.

Olivia enjoying some grapes
Violet has had an earache, so I had taken her to the dr last week and he put her on antibiotics. Then, she came down with a cold and it started bothering her again. So, yesterday I took her back. She felt much better by the time we left (it's always so much worse first thing in the morning!). As we were leaving the parking lot, I saw some black kittens in the corner of the parking lot. We walked over there and saw three black kittens and the mother came trotting along soon after. They were not tame at all and would not come to us. I decided we were going to rescue them and see if we could get them spayed and neutered and shots. My friend Renee had done this in the past, in fact that is how we got Domino. So, I called her and got a lot of good information such as where to get them spayed, and to get reimbursed for it, and she loaned me her trap. So far, we captured the mom, who is pregnant, again! And two kittens. Unfortunately, one got loose this morning and I still haven't caught the third. So, I am going to keep trying. I think it will be a great experience for the kids to see the mom give birth and for them to socialize the kittens so that we can find them homes. As for the kittens she has now, they are several months old and quite wild. I will try to tame them as much as possible and either keep them on our property or try to find them homes.

Rescue kitten

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hanging around - Best shot Monday

footsies lomo'd
This was my fave of the three (other two below) of Olivia playing on the swings. She'd lay over it and swing around and around. It amazes me she never gets tired or dizzy. She is definitely my extreme sports kid. This shot is for Picture This' Best shot Monday. ( I went back in a lomo'd it with Dumpr for fun, and like how it turned out.) For the original see here.
Hanging around
She's so full of joy!
My love
Have a great week!!!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

"I'm ready for the beach, mom!!!!"

Just had to add this photo, because I thought it so funny, and definately "unschooly" even though she decided to wear her swim suit instead!! My kids dress themselves and even if I think it might not be a good idea, I may tell them why I think it might not work (too cold, too hot), but it's their decision. Today, Violet wore some camy pants and a white tankdress over it to play at the neighbors, I said "cool!" I love that she has her own fashion sense and is not influenced by others.

So busy I don't even know what to title this!!!!

Violet riding
Our friends down the street inviting our kids to go riding with their kids at another neighbor's house one evening this week. The girls really enjoyed riding around the ring with them. Olivia rode with our friend Gabe and Violet rode by herself. She did pretty well even though she has ridden in about a year (with girl scouts last year). Olivia had fun and wanted to ride "again & again". Afterwards the kids were running around playing in the dirt, they were soooo dirty when we got home. They had this funny dog who looked like the Little Rascals dog, who would run around in circles backwards. It was the funniest thing! I'll take a video next time and post it on our blog. We also went to a birthday party & the library's summer reading party in which they had a magician who performed with animals. He made a boa appear out of a burning frying pan, a hedgehog appear out of a bag, a dove, a tarantula and a chicken appear out of thin air. Was pretty cool and they cooled off with some ice cream afterwards too.


We went to the beach Friday with our friends from our old girl scout troop. It was nice for Violet to see her old friends, she was really excited about it all the way there. Violet tried some boogie boarding and they all caught a lot of sand crabs and made a sand castle with some other kids on the shore. Unfortunately, while in the water, one our friends got stung by a jelly fish. Then, suddenly there were about 10-15 other kids who also got stung and were all crying while their mothers tried to cool off the stinging at the outdoor shower. You never seen the water clear out so fast! Poor kids! They soon forgot about it and were all running around playing again. We had some more fun playing at the park across the street and hung out until the sun went down, then headed home after the traffic had died down some.

Oceanside afternoon skies

Saturday, Violet & I worked the 4H food booth at the local country fair. It was the hottest part of the day (11-3), and was about 91 degrees out when we left. UGGHH! It was HOT! But it was a good experience for Violet. She enjoyed it when it was busy and she was able to pull orders (mostly cold drinks), but got bored and a little antsy when it wasn't . Dan ended up coming by with Olivia eventually, so I asked her if she wanted to go with him and she promptly answered "YES!!!" Unfortunately, we had missed the deadline for the fair entries in which we were going to put some of Violet's scrapbook pages that she had made, so I will post them here for all to see ; )
Japan pageJapan page
Birthday pageFlowers page
The Flower photo page pictures were all taken by Violet.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Creatures in the night

Beware......creature of the night
In the middle of the night last night, I stepped into my dark hallway, after leaving the kids with a movie on in their room, and felt this sharp sting on my foot. I screamed and turned on the light to see this little guy scuttling down the hallway! I'm okay. He isn't poisonous, but oh what a scare!!! Dan came running out of the bedroom to see what was going on. I stumbled to the bathroom and put a wet wash cloth on my foot, while he attempted to catch the little guy. I threw him a cup from the bathroom and he caught him then put him in a baggie. We called poison control, because we really had no idea how poisonous they can or cannot be. Poison control said not to worry, it was rare to find toxic ones in this area. Dan stuck the baggie in the garage last night and today we went to check on him. He was still alive in the baggie, so I moved him to a fish bowl. Come to find they are very hardy and adaptable. They can tolerate extreme temperatures and live on as little as 1 insect a year! They are from the arachnid family (spiders). Of the 2000 species only 30 or 40 are toxic enough to kill a human. I'm not sure what kind this one is. I'm going to try to identify him on the internet and will post it if I find it. Last night, Violet asked if she could dissect him. But, since he's still alive, we are going to observe him for a while and learn more about him. Then, I'd like to take him (FAR!!!) away and release him. We found a good article about them on the National Geographic's website.