Sunday, October 31, 2010

We don't have a lot of family traditions aside from yelling and rowdy car rides, but a parenting class told us we should. Instead of writing nice letters to each other on birthdays or a live Nativity at Christmas, like the good mother I am chose nasty Halloween dinner. My kids all dressed up in some leftover dress-up box leftovers, (see Levi as the last minute "I don't know exactly what this costume is" getup), while I prepare surprise disgusting courses. This year we did a giant alien worm from a whole pork roast, maggots from boiled pearl barley and Parmesan sauce. There were some other items that I forgot to take photos of, but with a worm like that does there really need to be more? And aren't you glad that instead of presenting this creative tradition in the usual pompous I'm a better mom than you, feel guilty presentation, I just say it like it is?

Friday, October 29, 2010

How We Homeschool

We recently pulled the last of our public schooled kids out to homeschool them, so now we have all 5 at home on a daily basis. While our reasons are many, and we do miss some of the pros of public school, overall the pros of homeschooling win hands down, and the experience has been wonderful! The grass looked greener from over there, and what do you know, it really is greener on this side!

Since they all homeschooled all summer while it was too hot to play outside before the school year started, we gave them the entire month of October off as "Fall Break." They have been enjoying the opportunity to play outside and relax with the gorgeous Texas fall weather. Just as the mornings and evenings get a bite of cold, it's time to get back to the books. While their school is all completed in several hours before lunchtime, and they still have all afternoon to play like they're on a school break, the complete freedom to be creative or lazy has been interesting to watch. I can observe as they choose their own projects and pursue their own interests. I can relax and get to know them better as individuals and better tailor their academics and extra curricular activities to suit their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

Thursday my toddler had her friends over for formal preschool time where we made crafts, learned letters and phonics, sorted snacks, played outside, and the older kids had an opportunity to serve the little ones by helping and playing with them. After they left, we piled into the car to visit the large central public library branch in downtown Austin. Crossing the street with 5 little ones is always a particularly fun challenge. After gaping at the most books they've ever seen and pulling most of the children's section off the shelves, they had a lesson in behaving in public while I browsed for my own books. We all then attended Levi's Rain Gutter Regata at his Cub Pack Meeting. Levi tied for second place! We were all happy he found his kit on Thursday morning and was able to get the boat assembled and painted in spurts during preschool so we could all cheer him on.

The main benefit of this homeschool "thing" we do is time. So much time to be together, to be apart, to learn, to relax, to do projects, to do nothing, to play together, to work together, to learn to resolve conflicts together, to socialize with siblings, friends, and neighbors around the community. All the time we used to spend frazzled, running from one thing to the next, completing all the projects that other people deemed the most important for our family, we are finally free to decide what we do with our own time.

Back to the books on Monday morning after Halloween! I bought a new math curriculum for them all for Christmas, and we are all refreshed and ready to come back to academics. I am excited to introduce some new techniques and re-implement our regularly scheduled routine. I am excited watching us all thrive in our new adventure together.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Raingutter Regatta

Troy got a new iPod Touch with the little camera included. It's still no iPhone! The camera has no flash, and I think the screen display is actually a higher resolution than the camera. I'm on the fence whether it's even worth taking photos if we've not brought our good camera, or if I would just prefer my own memories!

This pack meeting the cub scouts raced their annual rain gutter regatta. Levi got off to an early start, tying for second place. The other boy had more first place heats, Levi had a lot of first and second heats, so he came home with the coveted "Participant" ribbon. I considered swiping an extra second from the leftover stack as teaching the sore loser lesson is getting really old!

Picture 78Picture 77
Picture 81Picture 80Picture 82

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It's not really this bad, I swear

9am, Levi is stung multiple times by an asp caterpillar (pus moth). Troy's brother Ed is stungseveral times trying to get it off Levi after trying to convince him it's just a harmless fuzzy seed pod. Hoping no one develops vomiting and severe  pain, especially during their 24hr drive back to Idaho. I've lived here 12 years and never seen one of these pests that they manage to find on day 2 of their visit.
6pm, Troy finds a venomous 8in king centipede trying to crawl up his leg. 15 minutes of craziness at the Nutty Brown Cafe with half the patio hopping up on chairs while we catch it in a styro cup for Ed's daughter's science project. I've lived here 12 years and never seen on of these pests that they manage to find on day 2 of their visit, second rare bug of the day.
7pm, kids catching giant black crickets to feed to our chickens, grandma puts them in a napkin to bring home, later blows nose on napkin and drops crickets down her blouse, we all wonder why she has crickets in her nose. Catch more crickets falling from a tree into grandma's blouse. Transfer crickets to styro cup and bring home.
7am, next morning find hole in cup and crickets are all missing.
8am, while making breakfast I find styro cup with centipede in my fridge...still alive.
9am, I find and make Levi catch last cricket in kitchen and feed to chickens. Can't wait to eat those eggs.
10am, unsuccessfully try to convince Idaho visitors that this buggy situation is unusual even for Texas, it's all their fault, and wonder if we can ever hope to have more out of town visitors.
11am, all the boys decide to go on a scorpion and tarantula hunt after dark right before I threaten to move out.

6pm, boys come home with a female Texas tarantula they add to the bug zoo which I make them take home with them when I kick them out of my house.