Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Words

I cannot begin to fathom the sorrow. Please consider supporting this organization. To read one family's account of their experience with this disease, visit Living Our Love Song.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gone to Seed

There is nothing like growing lovely flowers in your garden. Unless, of course, those flowers are meant to be broccoli. This was my first attempt at growing broccoli and I can't say it has been much of a success. Each plant produced just one floret and while I naively waited for something impressive to happen (like a head of broccoli to appear from nowhere) those single florets opened into these very cute little yellow flowers. Don't worry, though--they did not go to waste. I snipped them off and had a charming Mother's Day centerpiece for my table. My children have decided this is how they like broccoli best.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Worth It

Though I have become, over the years, a zealot when it comes to home schooling, occasionally I have to confess a challenging aspect or two. The challenge of the moment for me is certainly not unique to home schoolers. It is the question of finding self worth.

Ever one of the brainy girls during my public school days, I struggled socially for most of my formative years. My validation came in the form of grades and praise from teachers. I became quite addicted to it and was very competitive--not a trait that helped in the social department, incidentally. This pattern continued into college to some extent, though I did make an effort to curb the competitive side. And so it can be particularly difficult for me to now be in a position of having to determine my own worth from within the confines of my lifestyle. My children certainly aren't heaping me with praise on a daily basis. To be fair, they do sometimes say very nice things, but mainly my efforts are met with complaints, sighs, and often negative attitudes. My husband is extremely supportive and encouraging, and will lavish me with accolades at the slightest hint. Unfortunately, it is too easy for me to dismiss his opinions on the matter. After all, he is contractually obligated to love me, making him not the most objective judge of my performance.

I applied for a job a couple of weeks ago. It was a teaching position with an online school. I don't think I really wanted it, so much as I was giving in to that old craving for external kudos. When I was informed that I lacked the qualifications to even warrant an interview, I started to spiral into a feeling of having no value or merit. I have taken the past week to do a little soul-searching and I have realized that it is simply time to change the tools with which I take my personal measurements. If I want to have that feeling of self worth, than I must value what I do. It's not up to the world to do that for me anymore.

How fitting to be deep in these thoughts during Mother's Day. What a common plight for women to worry over what the world thinks of us, especially when we choose to stay home with our children rather than pursue careers. We so readily buy into the notion that work for pay is the only work of real value. We dwell on what we have "given up" to be full time mothers and forget that motherhood is the ultimate promotion and we deserve to wear the role as proudly as any academic credentials or job title.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Best Homeschooling Week Ever: April 25 - April 29

Spring break! This has been a very renewing week, full of turning my attention to non-school related projects. Of course, as nice as it was to have a break from actual teaching, my inner school geek couldn't fully abandon scholarly pursuits. April is my traditional month for selecting curriculum for the coming year. For one thing, many of the companies I like have big sales going on during this time. I also like to have all my decisions made and materials in hand by the beginning of our summer break so that I can use that time to work on lesson plans and schedules. It all makes me sound so much more organized than I feel. Anyway, I am often asked what curricula I use. For those of you who have wondered, here is the nitty-gritty (at least for next year).

Carter (grade 8/9)
Algebra - Switched-on Schoolhouse
English - The Writer's Jungle by Brave Writer
Paleontology - This is a self-designed course, meaning I choose the materials and design my own lesson plans. This is really fun when you have a child who wants to study something outside of the mainstream, like Austin did this year with ornithology.
The Constitution and US Presidents - The first semester will be using the Constitution course from Switched-on Schoolhouse and the second will be a self-designed study of the presidents using Beyond the Cherry Tree by Anne E. Schraff
Spanish 1 - Tell Me More by Auralog
Typing - Garfield's Typing Pal
PE - Local gymnastics and swimming classes

Austin (grade 11)
Shakespeare - A self-designed course based on Shakespeare in film
Bible as Literature 1 - I admit, I haven't totally nailed this one down yet--I'll update it when I have. We will cover Old Testament this year and New Testament his senior year.
US Geography - Another self-designed course, using materials from the History Channel, National Geographic, and a great company called Geography Matters
Art - Lifepac by Alpha Omega Publications
PE - Cross-country running
French 2 - Rosetta Stone

I'm all giddy! Feel free to ask any questions. I am happy to share lesson plans or more specific info on the materials I'm using for the self-designed courses. Meanwhile, break is ending and it's time to wrap up this year's work. Here's hoping my week off was enough to energize me (and my kids) for the final month.