Monday, February 27, 2006
We also went and saw the movie Hoodwinked on Saturday, after our NFP class. It was great! Very clean, unlike some other recent "kids'" movies I could mention, and very funny. Auntie Tara told us that Twitchy the squirrel was reminiscent of Samuel, and she was right!
We are preparing for Lent. We are giving up TV as a family, and then we'll each give up something individually. Last year, Samuel gave up one of his Thomas trains. He's going to do the same this year, along with his T-Rex mask. Dh and I were also talking about selecting one virtue to work on in particular during Lent. We have a Lenten cross (like an Advent calendar) that we could do, too. . . but probably won't, as I don't think I have enough candles, and we always forget to light them (and Advent candles) anyway! I think instead I will do a Lenten paper chain, with a link for each day that Samuel can tear off. Now to find purple paper. . .
I also need to get started on our garden! It is nice and warm today and should be that way for the next couple of days, so hopefully I will have a chance to get out and clear out all the beds so that when we are ready to plant in a few weeks that will already be done. I need to see what seeds I should already be starting indoors. . . I'm probably already behind on some things. I am determined to do a better job gardening this year - we always start well, but when the weather gets hot, I get less enthusiastic about weeding, and then when we go on vacation, we always come back to a mess. This year, I plan to rip out a large area of irises and plant strawberries and asparagus instead. I am NOT looking forward to pulling out all those bulbs - there must be hundreds of them! Well, all the more reason for me to quit blogging and go get to work!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
So, he marched into the party, commited to getting chicken pox... until he saw Connor covered in pox. Suddenly, those itchy spots took on a whole new meaning. He clung to me, huddled in my lap as I sat on the couch, refused to touch the pox-ridden boy, refused to blow the whistle that Connor had just blown (he knew what we were trying to do!), refused to accept a lollipop under the "Connor gets the first taste" stipulation. . . I thought perhaps our visit was wasted, and hoped Connor would cough in his direction. After being reassured that the spots would go away, and that they weren't TOO bad, and that he probably wouldn't get as many as Connor anyway (who had a spectacular case, by the way), he finally relented and accepted the tainted lollipop. Success!
While talking with the other moms at the party about homeschooling and unschooling, one mom lamented that because of the party, she'd gotten no school done that day, and another mom concurred. Then she joked, "Well, Tracy did!" It's true, though. Samuel learned about chicken pox! We also learned how germs are transmitted, and incubation periods, and a little about vaccines. All in all, it was quite educational.
In other news, we are still besieged with signs. Samuel spends most of the day drawing pictures, and then asking me to write captions. Sometimes he skips the picture and just dictates a story for me to write, which he then folds up, writes "4 MAMA" on, and then presents to me to read, as if I hadn't just written it! He is asking how to spell more words, though, and trying to figure out more on his own. Once I get my house cleaned up (hmm, maybe I should be doing that instead of blogging. . . ) I will be able to strew a bit more and leave some reading materials around to encourage him in his new interests. Some things I plan to strew: the books from the phonics program that we got from CHC, other early reader books, alphabet books, lined handwriting paper, and some drawing paper that has space for a picture, and then a few lines for writing at the bottom.
Off to clean!
Monday, February 20, 2006
He got so carried away with making signs for everything that he made a sign with a picture of a sign and asked me to label it "Sign Land".
In other news, we have possibly been exposed to chicken pox, and are going to a pox party on Wednesday just to make sure. Bring on the spots!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Dh and I have been talking about when to let him receive his first Holy Communion. A priest friend told us that whenever we think he's ready, he's willing to do it for us, which is great. We do not want to put Samuel in religious education, so it's nice to know that we have that flexibility. Now comes the question: when is he ready? What I would like to do is strew, strew, strew, until he asks to receive. He already knows that the Eucharist is Jesus, he likes to play Mass, etc. I think he already knows as much as he would be taught in a religious ed program. (And more than I was taught when I received - I certainly didn't know the Eucharist was really Jesus!) So in that sense, I think he's ready. But, I would like to wait until he asks to receive, because I think that he will have a deeper appreciation for and devotion to the sacrament for his whole life if he receives it for the first time because he desires it, and not because we tell him it's time for him to do it now. Shawn is still thinking about it, so we will see what happens.
Okay, this is completely random, but I still laugh whenever I think about it, so I have got to write it down somewhere. A few weeks ago, Samuel almost fell asleep in his carseat on the way to Auntie Tara's house. I knew he needed to use the bathroom before falling asleep, so I told him to hold out a little longer, use the bathroom at her place, and then he could fall asleep on the way home. When he got out of the car, he was walking funny, and I thought it was because he had to go, so I told him to hurry up and get inside. He said, "No, I have a weird foot!" "You have a weird foot??" "Yes, my foot feels fizzy!" Yep, his foot had fallen asleep. :)
Saturday, February 18, 2006
We decided to leave Samuel with Auntie Tara this time, since he's been a little tempermental lately and having an almost-five-year-old have a complete meltdown is probably NOT the best way to convince engaged couples to be open to the gift of children. I am never completely sure how he will handle being left, since we do it so rarely, but he was totally fine with it today. Amazing how detachable the securely attached can be. :) I missed him during our presentation, though, and I wonder if we did the best thing by leaving him. Is having no child present in order to avoid the risk of a tantrum a better witness, or a child who is maybe a little clingy and anxious in the presence of so many strangers, but still adorable and utterly loveable? In the past some of the couples attending have been clearly turned off by the presence of a child (even a fairly well-behaved one), but are these the people we should cater to? If they are disgusted that we didn't get a babysitter, are they even listening as we speak of the gift of children? Today, it was probably better for Samuel to have some down time at Auntie's than to have to be on his best behavior while mom and dad gave a talk, but next time, if he's up for it, I think we'll bring him along.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Then tonight, he and dh got out a new set of pastels. Dh drew an amazing picture of St. Paul writing one of his epistles. I am so jealous of people who can just whip out a beautiful picture like that. I can do cutesy stuff, but not artsy stuff. I'm crafty, not artistic, if that makes any sense. Samuel started a picture with a lovely tree (he is really into drawing all the branches, I think in part because of the tree-drawing exercise at his first art class) and then he added a "daddy cardinal". (The bird, not the prelate.) He said he'll finish tomorrow.
He has been having fun watching the Olympics, but says all the skiing and snowboarding look scary because they go so fast. I didn't know there was such a thing as too fast for Samuel!
I talked to some of the other moms at the art class today about unschooling. One of the moms was getting overwhelmed and was considering putting her kids in school, when someone recommended she move in the other direction. There was another unschooler there, but all the other moms said things like, "Well, I can see how unschooling would be ideal, but what if they fall behind?" "I don't think I could handle unschooling all subjects." "How can you be sure they are learning enough?" I told them that I had the same questions until I learned more about it, and met people who have been doing this for a while. I had a lot of misconceptions about what unschooling really is and how it works. I hope that a few seeds were planted today. :)
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I've really been impressed with his artwork lately too. He's showing great attention to detail, and amazing imagination. Today he drew the inside of a carnotaur's mouth - what it would look like if you were looking into it as it was about to bite you! I'm not sure where he got the idea for that perspective, but it looks great! He is also fascinated with bones, and drew a picture of Yoda, and then a picture of Yoda's hand bones (with 2 fingers) and a picture of Yoda's skull. I need to get him a good bone book - maybe this one. I have got to figure out how to upload pics onto this thing!!! Ooh, and dh is going to buy us a new printer/scanner/copier/fax soon, so then I can scan in Samuel's artwork.
So, there were two main reasons I started this blog. The first was for me to keep a homeschool record, and also to help keep me accountable. I'm more likely to strew if a few days go by and I realize I have nothing to report on my blog. The second reason was for distant friends and family to keep up-to-date on the goings-on in our house if they so desire. . . one minor problem, though: I'm afraid to tell my family about the blog because then they'll know we're unschooling! Oops. I know it will be one more thing for them to add to the "Ways Tracy is Crazy" list that I'm sure is already miles long. I'm sure it will come up eventually, I'm just hoping that they won't realize the full extent of our lack of curriculum until Samuel is already reading or something like that so that I can say, "But look! He's already doing this with no curriculum!"
Both sets of grandparents, and some friends, are now asking questions like, "When are you going to start school?" "Are you starting kindergarden soon?" "What curriculum are you using?" etc. now that Samuel is almost five and officially kindergarden age. I'm just going to tell them we started school a long time ago - like when he was born! He's been learning ever since, at a fantastic rate, and I have no intention of impeding his progress with curriculums.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Some of the things he's dictated have been hilarious. He's been dictating "Bibles" to Shawn and I, for the other one to read. Here are some excerpts:
Jesus walked across the sea to his disciples and a big storm was coming. When Jesus was a baby, he was laid in the manger because there was no room for them at the inn. Their donkey bringed them to Bethlehem where the manger was. Then the next day, Jesus told his disciples to make all the water into wine at a wedding.
Not entirely chronological, but he got most of the details right, anyway. :)
Here's another one - Samuel dictated this whole thing, complete with "Chapters". Can you tell which Bible stories he knows best???
Jesus walked on the water several times and several times he asked his disciples to everytime people had a wedding to make sure they had wine. Then there was a wedding and the disciples saw that they had a wedding and there was wine and a big angel came with food and left the bag and they didn't know what to do why the angel left them food. Then a big demon came and the angel had a sword and fighted off the demon. The next morning, Jesus came and asked the disciples if they could send a note to somebody and they wouldn't so at first they said they would do it.
Jesus several days saw that people were having a wedding and everytime they had a wedding they would bring wine. Jesus was getting very confused. Then the next day he was blessed by John and he blessed him with holy water and he blessed him the Father, the Son, and the HOly Spirit. When he said "the Holy Spirit", a big storm came. When the storm came, Jesus came and stopped the storm.
Every wedding, Jesus would make sure every time they had a wedding they would have wine. Jesus was getting very nervous doing that. Then the next day one of the people that were at the wedding told Jesus he didn't have to make sure they had wine at the wedding anymore, then Jesus stopped.
When Jesus was a baby, he had Mary as his mama.
I think he would have kept going for quite some time, but I ran out of paper!
Samuel was really into Valentine's Day for some reason this year - Shawn and I don't really do V-day, exactly (I protest any holiday or tradition invented by Hallmark! Don't get me started on unity candles!) - although I did get him some chocolate-covered cherries this year. V-day is exactly 6 months from our anniversary, though, so we celebrate it as our "half-iversary" instead, usually by going out to dinner, which we rarely do on the actual day to avoid crowds. So, we'll be celebrating tonight by going to Chili's because we have a $20 gift certificate there which Shawn got by doing MyPoints. They had better still have the boneless Shanghai wings on the menu or Shawn might cry. I'd better check. . . good, still there! Anyway, my original point in talking about V-day (yes, that's what I was talking about, remember?) was that since it is Saint Valentine's feast day, I thought I would tie that in since Samuel was interested, but any connection is so obscure and questionable that I gave up.
Okay, off to do laundry and clean house so that when Shawn and I get back from our lovely evening it won't look like someone ransacked the place.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
The one thing he really liked was the giant T-Rex model that moved. It really scared him at first - he's seen tons of dino models, even life-size, realistic ones, but not one that moved and roared. He knew it wasn't real, but he just wasn't quite prepared for how realistic it would be, and when he was finally brave enough to get near it, it swung its head toward him and he dove behind Granddaddy. It was still his favorite thing, though. :)
I also wanted to post about his second Friday art class. The kids got to paint this time, and worked on two projects. The artist they studied was Van Gogh, and one project was to do a version of his Starry Night, and the other was to do a still life. For the Starry Night, they cut a skyline out of construction paper and glued it onto black cardstock, and then painted in details, stars, moon, and swirls. Samuel did great at this. I wish he had stopped a little earlier, though - he had some awesome swirls in his sky with blue paint, but then he got carried away and painted the whole sky blue, so you couldn't really see them anymore. Oh, well, I'm sure as he paints more, he'll eventually learn when to quit. :) For the other project, most of the kids, Samuel included, only had time to do the background. They will paint an object over it next week, I think. Once again, he should have quit a little earlier, IMO. He had different colors everywhere, at one point, but then kept slopping paint on and smearing it around until he ended up with mostly brown. Well, he's the artist, maybe he wanted brown. I'm really interested to see what else he creates over the course of the class. I wonder what other projects they will do, too. I've been impressed with what Christie has come up with so far.
I need to get him a copy of this book: Lunchtime for a Purple Snake by Harriet Ziefert and Todd McKie - in it, a little girl learns about art from her grandpa, including how to recover from mistakes (instead of trashing the painting, like Samuel has been wanting to do lately) and when to stop painting!
I am learning a lot about unschooling on the new UnschoolingCatholics list. There have been so many great discussions about what it is (hard to define because it's so different for every family), how it plays out in different families and for different children, whether structure has a place and if so, how, whether certain things should be required learning, how children learn, etc. I am loving all this new information. My favorite thing I've learned is strewing: spreading ideas and opportunities through the house, minds, and lives of your children. The hard part is accepting if they aren't receptive yet, but trusting that God will inspire them to learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. I do believe that if a parent is connected to their child and creates the right environment for them, that this will happen. It's been so wonderful and affirming to hear about this happening in the families of the other women on the list. I can't wait to see how Samuel will grow in this type of environment.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
We did do one cool thing today - I made Samuel his own calendar. It is all hand-drawn and there's room for him to color on it. We colored the numbers according to the liturgical season (he keeps asking when Lent is) and drew pictures for his different activities - Mass, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, La Leche League, his art class, birthdays, trips, etc. Oh, and there's a place for him to draw in the weather each day. I think this will help with his sense of time. He also likes to know "the plan" so now he can look anytime. He had lots of fun coloring everything, so I hope his enthusiam will last for this project. I will have to figure out how to post pictures on here, and post one of his calendar.
Well, time for bed before my sinuses get any worse.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Then they tried some exercises in "right-brain drawing", which was drawing a picture of a man upside-down. The idea is to not see the picture as a whole so much, but to focus on one line at a time. It was a complex picture to copy, not just a stick-figure, so I wasn't sure how Samuel would do. He started at the bottom, with the head, and drew in the top of the head, the sparse hair on top, the glasses, the mouth surrounded by a goatee. . . I was so impressed! He had such great attention to detail. Then, he got totally frustrated because it didn't look exactly like the picture they were copying, and he refused to do anymore, regardless of the lavish praise and encouragement we all gave him for his efforts. Oh, well. I think it had a lot to do with him still getting over his cold, and being tired. (He asked to take a nap on the way to the lesson.) So, he just drew what he wanted for a while, mostly volcanoes (his latest obsession).
Then since the weather was nice and the kids were tired of upside-down man, Christie suggested that we go outside and draw a tree, so we did that. We told the kids to each choose a tree and copy the lines. Once again, Samuel did so well at this! Some of the older kids were basically drawing the straight-trunk-with-poof-on-top trees, despite the fact that it is winter and the trees have no leaves. Samuel really looked at his tree, and drew the three main branches and then all the little ones. He's got a great eye for detail apparently! He really enjoyed the class, and is excited about the next one when he will get to paint.
Today, I wanted to reinforce some of the concepts that they talked about, so we looked at the lines of a chair and sketched it. Then I drew his football in an impressionist style, a pointalism style, and a cubism style. I think seeing the same thing drawn three different ways helped him to understand the variety of styles better.
He kind of relapsed today - was coughing more, and was very tired. We probably overdid it yesterday with the class and playing and drawing outside. He wanted to surprise me with going out to eat today, so he talked to Shawn and they took me to the Olive Garden for lunch. It was so out of the blue, I was really surprised that Samuel thought of it! It was very sweet. Then he got the "surprise" (that he asked for, lol) of going to Toys 'R' Us to use the last of his gift card, and then we surprised Daddy by taking him to Best Buy, where he was allowed to look but not touch.
Oh, almost forgot the other fun thing we did yesterday: received the blessing of throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise. Ironic that I have a sore throat today. But it's not nearly as bad as what Samuel is getting over, so perhaps I was spared the full impact. We'll go with that. :) Saint Blaise, pray for us!
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Because you brought up the issue of the other list; I thought it might be good to address that idea about the difference between relaxed, eclectic, etc. The labels can always cause some issues, but we need words to try to have a dialogue, so we work with what we have and hope to gain understanding.
I have seen many dismiss unschooling, even saying they have 'tried' it for a month, a year, during a challenging time when they couldn't manage curriculum, etc. But I think a primary difference between unschooling and other 'styles' comes from a complete shift in one's way of thinking. I recently had a friend say that she had 'homeschooled' her children one day when it was a snow day. I told her that it was more a shift in lifestyle and doing a workbook one day with your dc doesn't give the flavor of what you might do. I think the same about unschooling...it can't be merely dabbled in. It involves a willingness to change into a different type of lifestyle even than 'relaxed' or 'eclectic'. The journey gets turbulent at times (well, it has for me). On the ouside, it may look any different way...busy, hectic, slow paced, relaxed, high pressure, highly structured or loosely structured. The key differences are on the inside.
I know that despite the fact that I read some John Holt when I first decided to educate dc outside the school setting, it took a lot of introspection to see the many ways I still had an agenda for my dc. I still wanted to pour knowledge and information into them; I still wanted to have them love and learn form the great opportunities I would provide. I still wanted them to know their math, how to read
well, spell, etc. And I admit I even hoped they might excel 'early'.
For me, it was a real journey of self discovery in examing all the things about school and how they had permeated my thinking. And a real journey in observing dc and their learning. A real journey of faith...do I trust God to inspire them? Do I trust the diverse gifts given by God can be 'enough', even if they don't follow "what your whatever grader needs to kow"? Can I trust myself enough to really be present with my dc? To accept, and love them on their own life journey.Do I have it in me to actually *be* the example of someone they ought to emulate?
And it is a challenge to be this in a society that measures and looks at results, expectations what have you been 'doing'? Sometimes I don't know - we live, we love, we laugh and enjoy. Sometimes we work through conflict and difficulty, Life brings us so many experiences, and it is all worthwhile.
Isn't that beautiful? A whole different way to look at learning. Well, I don't think he's going to fall asleep, so that wraps up my first blog entry. The mounds of dirty laundry beckon. (My husband couldn't find a clean undershirt to wear this morning!)
Happy birthday today to my niece, Liz!