Tuesday, October 28

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)

Sometimes, I wonder how the girl with mischief in her eyes turn into this wild-eyed half-crazed lady I see in the mirror....
I think about all the years I spent in school, going to a prestigious honors boarding school, graduating early with multiple degrees, getting that graduate degree...and then making the decision to stay home with my children.  Some days, it's a decision I struggle with...having been raised to work outside the home, and occasionally still being berated by unnamed family members for the decision.  On those days, I find myself like in this state...
THEN - I remember what it's all about.  We're raising future husbands!!!  (Well, you might be raising future wives...I got husbands.)  Not only is it my job to teach them manners and discipline, and meet their educational needs, but they need to learn how to have some fun along the way.  Who wants to marry a fuddy-duddy?  Hard worker - yes!  Fuddy-duddy - no.  And this was something that I had been neglecting, too...
I've always sought refuge in crafts, particularly with cloth.  My grandmother was an amazing seamstress in the 1940s and 50s, who had the ability to design and make anything you could dream up.  Unfortunately, that ability wasn't inherited, but I do have her sense of 'peace' when working on projects.  It made sense to begin sewing again.  Now, remember...I'm looking for fun here!  On a whim, I decided to make a few Miss Frizzle dresses.  Oh - you know what I'm talking about!  Miss Frizzle , from the Magic School Bus...she's making learning more fun than any other teacher I know!
Some of my patterns were missing or destroyed beyond use, so I had to create some new ones.  I designed a World War II airplanes sundress & a pirates & treasure dress.  Currently, I am working on a skeleton dress (anatomy & physiology) and one with autumn leaves (botany / seasons).  Finally, the boys picked out this insanely huge patriotic print that I can only imagine in maxi-skirt form...it will be last! 
Sure, they're sometimes embarrassed at how I'm dressed, but you know what?  My kids think it's pretty cool that mom is willing to dress up and have a little fun!  When we went to the USS Intrepid in NYC, we even got some behind-the-scenes action from a docent who loved how the dress fit with the museum theme!  There's only so much call for a Miss Frizzle dress, but it's a chance to keep those sewing skills sharp, teach the boys some basic sewing skills (thus getting them to fully create their own costumes in the future), and throw a little bit of fun into our days.   
Old Bertie was right....imagination IS more important that knowledge.  But when you combine the two, and get knowledge with enthusiasm, it's a whole 'nother animal!  Spice up your learning today....throw on a Miss Frizzle dress and take a field trip.  Get your kids excited - just be DIFFERENT.  God knows, if we all thought the same way, the world would be a boring place. 

Somewhere, I can tell you exactly which of my friends is shaking her head....and saying, "there goes my weird friend.  I just love her."  Trust me, y'all.  She says it all the time.  Especially when I show up for our field trips in one of these dresses......

Just for you:  here is a free unit on Elias Howe (inventor of the sewing machine) unit study.

Wednesday, October 22

Everybody Talks (Neon Trees)

Our most frequent stop on the Special Needs Train is through Speech Therapy Depot.  We have been blessed with a fantastic therapist, who has been working with my son since he turned three years old.  They have a great rapport, and that has really helped him to develop confidence as he overcomes these difficulties. 

At times, we've gone out of our way to do whatever necessary to keep her as our therapist.  With road-schooling, it's difficult to see any therapist on a regular basis, but she has been wonderful about meeting with us when we're home, and providing resources for on the road.  We also keep in touch during long absences.  She's a very caring lady, and we've been lucky to have her assistance!

Speech therapy can get expensive quickly, especially if you're doing private pay.  If you've decided to try and go it alone, here are some excellent, vested resources to help you along.  Everything listed below is free, and geared toward parents rather than professionals.
  • ASHA Sphere - official blog of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Cooking Up Good Speech - using the child's help in preparation of simple and healthy foods to promote good speech and language development
  • Free Language Stuff - hundreds of free language worksheets and activities in more than 20 areas  (not just for the special needs child)
  • If I Only Had Super Powers - oldest, and most comprehensive, speech pathology blog
  • Play on Words - exceptional toys, games and books that encourage language
  • Speech Buddies Blog - jumping off point for parents with questions and concerns
  • Speech Language Resources - several free language intervention activites in PDF format
  • Teachers Pay Teachers -  4,000+ free resources for speech therapy (narrow by articulation, phonological awareness, age, holidays, etc.)

Monday, October 20

Come Together (Beatles)


Find out how you can easily get started with road-schooling here!
  • You wake up in the morning having no idea what city, or state, you are in.
  • You tell the kids you are going to a museum, zoo, gallery, etc, and they say but we where there last week...and you need to remind them that was 3 states ago.
  • You do the laundry and realize you've washed legos, caterpillars, ignious rock (lava) a collection of crystals, smashed pennies from 4 different states, and their latest Junior Ranger certificate - all items left in their pockets.
  • Your kids constantly ask what state you are in.
  • When you realize your milk is from one state, your frozen beef is from another and your eggs are from yet another.
  • Our family talks in "states" rather than "months". For example some families might say, "hey remember last Feb when we did xyz"... while my family says, "hey remember when we were in Montana and did xyz"
  • Perhaps knowing that different things in our coach are all from different states. this jacket from Arizona, this game from Alabama, this mug was from Montana, etc.
  • You know you're roadschooling when you've lose a sock every time you dry clothes in the dryer and each dryer is in a different state! I lost my green sock in TN, I lost my short sock in AL, missing one of my son's socks in ME, etc...
  • You realize you left a load of clothes in the dryer... 300 miles ago. Then trying to figure out how to have them shipped to you, but you aren't in one place long enough to receive mail.
  • Walk out of Walmart and not it do you not remember where you parked your giant truck, you have no idea what city or state you are even in.
  • You are learning all the Wal-Mart layouts after visiting hundreds of them around the country
  • You know what to expect when changing elevations...the milk jugs, chip bags, and all other sealed containers expand our contract.
  • Your Amazon.com account has address from over the country where you have had items delivered.
  • Your kids already have the concept of an elevator speech down pat. "Where are you from?" "We are on a 2 year road trip around the US blah blah blah"
  • You're talking to a lady at the Waco Tractor Supply Store, and she asks you where you are going next. You say, "Waco, Texas." When she gives you a weird look, you say, "I'm in Waco, TX, aren't I?"
  • You hoard quarters for doing laundry at the next stop.
  •  You keep changing the radio station every hour, not because the music is bad, but because you keep driving out of range.
  • You give up and put on audiobooks for the duration.
  • You get your seasons get confused.
  • Your 2- year- old sees a bathtub, looks confused, and asks what it is.
  • You tell your kids we can come back another day to a place and they both say in unison "but we won't be in this city again."
  • Your son asks whether they take pesos or colones at the market.
  • ..............................................what would you add to this list????

Thursday, October 16

Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen)

An amazing thing happened to me the other day...I was running at the park, and a lady came up to me and told me about how she had changed her life....because of ME!  It was a little strange.

A few years ago, I worked for a company that sold cookware.  At sales meetings, I would not be incorrect in saying that I was, by far, the smallest person in the room.  The food at these meetings was always rich and very unhealthy, and whenever it was my turn to bring snacks, I usually brought in fruit or a salad.  (Confession : This was partly because that stuff is easy.)

It was during this time that I was also training for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.  I had no qualms about showing up in (decent) running clothes, ready to run after the meeting.  These were very informal meetings, and I knew the kids were safe in someone else's care for the afternoon.  When asked, I was happy to say that I was going running afterwards, and was training to earn my Tiffany necklace at the end of the marathon.  Also, hopefully, a spot at the Boston Marathon!

Apparently, my enthusiasm wore off.  This lady was not the first, but rather the latest in a string of ladies, to tell me that they had decided to start exercising after being around me at these meetings.  Many of them are walkers, but many of them are also older ladies.  One of the younger ones has become a marathon runner herself!  

What's more, I can tick off several folks from college that began running with me.  Granted, they're mostly boys that began running because that's what I did in my spare time.....boys are silly, and they will do anything to spend time with someone that interests them.  Silly boys.  A quick cyber-search (you can find anything online!) reveals that most of them are still runners today.  A few are cyclists or swimmers, but they're still active...and they were not active 'before.' 

It's amazing, isn't it?  I didn't set out to recruit athletes, and I never dreamed of promoting running as a lifestyle.  I was simply living my life, doing my regular old day-to-day -- but I was enthusiastic, and that joy showed!  We tend to have the greatest impact on others when we're not trying, just by being ourselves.

Without these few ladies taking the time to let me know about their lifestyle change, I would never have known.  Without the internet (still a little creepy...how much is just 'out there'), I would have no idea that people from 15-20 years ago were still maintaining those lifestyle changes.  I'd like to think that it's a healthy lifestyle changed that's impacted them all positively.**

How do you want to live your life?  Which of your actions impact those around you positively, and negatively? 

**Note :  I also have lots of actions that impact those around me negatively, and I'm not so proud of.  No saints here....don't even play one on TV.**


See these ugly old feet?  If I can run on them, day in and day out, then YOU can run, too!!!  Lace up and get outside.  And be happy that your feet are normal, and aren't capable of performing funky party tricks.....

Tuesday, October 14

Civil War (Guns & Roses)

While we haven't visited as many Civil War sites as Revolutionary War sites, I wanted to create a general field of Civil War studies to pull from for the future.  This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a collaborative effort.

Lapbooking & Notebooking
Interactive Studies
Classroom Lesson Plans
 
Children's Literature & Lit Studies
Arts & Hands-on Activities
History Comics & DVDs
Lego Movies (these are just a few)
  • The American Civil War - comprehensive
  • Bull Run to Gettysburg

If your favorite Civil War resource isn't listed, please email me or leave a comment so that we can get it up here!

Check out all of our We Were There unit studies!

Thursday, October 9

Revolution (Beatles)

In the span of two weeks, we managed to visit several Revolutionary War sites, and I wanted to create a general field of Revolutionary War studies to pull from for the future.  This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a collaborative effort.

Field Trips 

Costumes & Re-enactments

  • The boys re-enact the Revolutionary War in costumes they made themselves.  Read the post, and see how easy it is to make your own!
  • Using the costumes they created, they got together with friends and made a student-created video about the American Revolution....it's pretty funny!  
    • Each kid is assigned a role, and the older kids research the history of their role, as you can see in the special features part.  This is a great way to reinforce what they are learning!

Lapbooking & Notebooking

Interactive Studies

Children's Literature & Lit Studies

Arts & Hands-on Projects

History Comics & DVDs

Lego Movies (this was our favorite, but there are many)

Hope for the Revolution

If your favorite Revolutionary War resource isn't listed, please email me or leave a comment so that we can get it up here!

Tuesday, October 7

Cleopatra, Queen of De-Nial (Pam Tillis)

The autumn weather is beautiful outside, and we're coming to the close of our Ancient Egypt unit, so we took the classroom outside today!  But before heading out, we made some models of the pyramids and Sphinx from Legos.
In our current book, The Golden Goblet, the characters live in open-air houses, with courtyards.  The boys spent the morning building their own home out of bamboo and sheets.  It came out pretty well! 
As the sun rose, they moved over to the playground, in the shade of the trees.  We have a playground, but it's really the sand that gets played with the most.  This time, they built the Valley of the Kings deep in the playground sand.  They pulled out some trinkets to bury with the pharaohs, and set booby-traps for any tomb robbers that might stumble along.  
While mom cooked lunch, they created these cute little paper pyramids and Sphinx (link below).  A few episodes of Tutenstein, and then we finished reading our book on the front porch swing.  On days like today, with the relaxed learning atmosphere, it's sweet to be a homeschooling family.

Ancient Egypt reading :
Ancient Egypt printables

Thursday, October 2

Come on in my Kitchen (Allman Brothers)

Astragalus, elderberry, and garlic...oh my! 

Cold and flu season are beating at the door, and it's time to whip our immune systems into shape! 
A little bit of immune booster background :
Astragalus - comes in pill or tincture form, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Its main use has been to boost the body's immune system.
Elderberry - used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis.
Garlic - best taken raw, contains many sulfur compounds which detoxify the body, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
Now, I can't tell you how to make astragalus, and garlic cloves are pretty easy (just peel and eat raw), but making your own elderberry syrup will save you quite a bit.  For the price of one bottle of elderberry syrup at the store, you could make ten to fifteen times that amount at home!  This is super easy, and anyone can make it. 

Start with good, organic elderberries.  We can usually find a good organic brand at Amazon, but would rather pay more to get them from somewhere else if Amazon doesn't have the organic brand available.  Typically, we triple or quadruple the recipe and participate in an herb swap...more on that later.
Bring the elderberries, cinnamon stick(s), and water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer half an hour.  It will thicken up a little bit.  Strain out the berries and stick(s).
Jar your elderberry syrup and store it in the fridge.  Easy-peasy!  (And always make sure to label your jars.)  See below for the recipe in its entirety.
Would you like more information on boosting your immunity?  Our new fan-only freebie is posted at Facebook.  For October, we have created the free e-book, Autumn Herbs, just for our fans!

Simple Elderberry Syrup
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup of dried elderberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups of water
Put all of the ingredients into a pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer, and reduce liquid by about ½ (usually takes about 20-30 minutes). Strain out the herbs and add 1 cup of raw honey (optional).


Store your syrup in a closed jar in the refrigerator.


One final word.....don't forget to eat a healthy, colorful diet. 

The foods we eat are the best immune booster of all!