Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Greedy Parent

I'm a greedy, greedy parent. I've been a lot sad these days over the time passing and my kids growing up so quickly. I look back every day and night to see what I could've done better, how we could've spent MORE quality time together, and there's so much I want to do with them that I'm afraid they'll outgrow before we get to it.

 I'm with them all day every day, rearranging my days, nights, and commitments so that when they're awake, I'm all or mostly theirs. And I still want more time with them. And I know It will never be enough.

I wonder if they will figure out that when I stop and stare at them sometimes, I'm still seeing my sweet little roly-poly babies and marveling at how I had no idea then of what they'd become, how they'd grow, what brilliant and insightful ideas and words they'd one day speak. Being a mom is so bitter-sweet.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Welcome Back to Homeschool! Gifts & Goodies

We are finally back in the swing of things with homeschooling and loving it! We're going on our 4th week and I'm finding this experience is as rewarding as ever, as the kids are now at the age where I'm seeing all our efforts spent teaching them really, really come back around. Things just seemed to have clicked for them over the summer that they weren't quite ready for at the close of last year. I really believe some kids just aren't ready on anyone's schedule but their own, but once they get it, look out!

In the spirit of moving forward, I was inspired to do something different and nice for my Lovelies this year to mark the official start of our year since they're getting older now. I put together a Welcome Back to School gift bag full of supplies we'd be using for the upcoming year with some goodies mixed in. Our girls are so enthused about learning that the goodies were hardly needed, just bonus.

One of the coolest things that came just in time for me to include as a wholly unexpected bonus amongst all this gifting was a new shower head. As boring as that sounds, believe me, it's SO not. Right when we were gearing up for our official start date, I was offered a free sample for the kids to test out and my reply was something along the lines of "Shyeah!!" 

Here's why:  

This thing actually flashes in the dark with lights that change color while you shower!!! And it was crazy-easy to put on, which I appreciate because when you have lesson plans and the rest of life staring you in the face, ain't nobody got time for dat! My only regret about it was that I wish they'd sent me two to sample, although my hubby might not have been on board with a disco happening in a grown-up shower, but maybe he needs to live a little;^). 

Naturally, my girls being nearly as cool as their mother, they were- and are- just as excited about it as I still am. These days, I'll get the usual complaints at shower time until they remember it's in there, and suddenly all switches to happily complaint silence. Then, because they're my kids and know where to seek the max fun in life, they shut off the lights and go for what has to be the awesomest shower experience evah!! Every single time. It's the little things, y'all!

Anyway, here's what was in those bags for each girl, and if you do this, keep in mind that each list should be individualized for the child receiving the goods*:

My Welcome Back List*
A set of 24 legit Watercolor Paints
Neon Sharpies
Regular Sharpies with the cool colors plus Metallics
Crayola Markers -one huge pack to share
A set of 3 canvas panels
A sketch diary for all those drawings they love to do
A mini-notebook for all those moments of inspiration on-the-go
3 Composition books with the cool new, non BW covers
3 jumbo glue sticks
A pack of mechanical pencils to share- in pretty colors, of course

*A budget tip: buy a few things at a time each time you go to the store and hide it away until gift time. Definitely have your list in mind in June/July when Back to School sales start up. It's okay to gift normal things like folders or erasers- just be sure there's bonus stuff in there, too, to round it all out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to homeschool with IKEA

Very recent and insanely huge growth spurts of all kinds...organizational, minimalist, physical...led to us doing some much-needed updating to our classroom finally, FINALLY. I have plotted and bargained and saved and researched and finally the day is here! We are humbled and grateful to have what we need to function at our best at last.

We kept right on growing and discovered something(s) valuable in the process.

1. Working in your PJs is underrated and can be quite productive.

2. Little Miss is very handy; this realization fed her independence, pride in her work, and her self-confidence. It also encouraged me to try more with her.

3. IKEA is so easy, even a kid can do it.

4. I can give myself a break by splitting the amount of work I think I MUST do, but that the kids can really do and also benefit.

My ongoing paradox: I didn't want to lose a day of homechooling in favor of updating our classroom  but it needed to be done or else no place to have school. Other days it's laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, you know how it goes- everything else competes with schooling and you can't do one without the other being done, round and round and round she goes....So as per usual, I formulated a quick plan to have it all by ignoring the line we've all been trained to draw between life and learning, as I love to do so much. Read on!

How to homeschool with IKEA (I feel another list coming on, brace yourself...):

1. Avoid short tempers and stretch out everyone's patience because being snippy and impatient will kill the fun dead and no one will be in the mood for anything cool. Before you start, do this: 
     a. Start early in the day before everyone gets cranky for craving a nap. This includes YOU. Yes, YOU.
     b. It should be assumed that if you are avoiding the cranky, all involved should have eaten well in preparation for this fun time you'll spend connecting.
     c. Use this as one-on-one time with ONE child (redundant?); everyone will be calmer, I swear it. We had several pieces to assemble so I was able to work on one with each child all by themselves. If you only have one piece, split the project up into sections and call the kids in one at a time for a section to work at it with you. The kids who aren't working should be doing something fun and cool in another room. Our alternative activity was the Wii. Use your best judgement.
    d. DO THIS TOGETHER. I still have some Type A remnants where Motherhood failed to beat me into full submission and it has taken practice and lots of resulting kid-smiles as positive reinforcement for me to sit back and LET THEM DO IT. If it's slow-going, so what? They're learning. They're building confidence. They're loving independence. And you giving them the space to work and figure it out makes them secure and comfortable in their own skin.
     e. Laugh at the hilarious instruction pictures together and ask the kids questions to help them figure out what's what on the instruction sheet, don't just figure it out for them. More about that later.

2. Find or clear out an open, comfortable-on-your-knees place to work. A rug definitely works, or even better, spread out that cardboard box packaging and make it do double-duty.

3. Git yer tools. Usually, the ingenious thinkers behind IKEA will take it easy on you and keep this simple. You'll need a screwdriver with changeable bits (luxury) or one Phillips and one flat head (regular folks) and a hammer/mallet, and  that's pretty much it.

4. Count out and account for all your hardware and parts. DON'T skip this step. We demonstrated the real-life benefits/application of knowing how to count at a glance (where you can recognize three or five or ten of something, for example, without actually counting) and skip-count by 2's. They also learned the names and functions of all the hardware and while we're not winning any cool points for actual Shop-speak, we might do alright if no one digs too deeply.

5. Get to it! We worked on visual memory and finding differences and similarities between images and real objects. I reminded them of the picture games they like to play where they circle what's wrong or what's different between two pictures. You definitely have to rely on this skill to read the pictures. On top of that, knowing how to read the illustrations is very important, as is attention to detail. Owly and Wormy books are great for this and I even enjoy the mystery in putting the story together the right way. In my book (NPI), you're never too old.

6. Move in! Settle into your new furniture- fill it with only what's needed and watch everyone reap the benefits of living an organized life. If you haven't yet, start now practicing getting rid of clutter that not only clogs up our physical spaces, but our minds as well.

We sat down to have school that afternoon, deeply sated and with smiles on our faces. It was awesome.


INSPIRATION: I stalked this site for over a year after finding it last year on Google, because I loved this setup. We didn't do exactly the same thing because not all of this worked for our family, but it was very instrumental in choosing our setup. She did not, however inspire my choice of blog address, but great minds!

My friend CH was majorly instrumental also as my silent, mental cheerleader in helping me tackle clutter and destroy that feeling of being overwhelmed by it, so SHOUT OUT to her for being an awesome, inspiring person. You have made my life better in so many ways. XOXOX

PICTURES: I'm really bad with this, but if I can get some loaded of the finished product, I definitely will. Our room is still in need of some finishing and once it's done, I'll try. Okay more than try. But let's be serious, I"m a mom and a homeschooler, anything could happen.