Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Caution! Unsocialized Homeschooler on Board.

I like the title of this post because it makes me laugh every time.  I've seen many cars around Columbus with this as a bumper sticker and I know inside that car is some very socialized little people.  I know those kids are exposed to all sorts of children; vegans, hippies, atheists, Christians, two moms, two dads, etc.  If I wasn't weird about sticking things on my car...that bumper sticker would be a permanent attachment. 

I should probably not be writing this post right now because I am stirred up inside.  I know you should always be calm and mature when putting out your feelings and emotions....but.....not today.  These thoughts are so strong and on fire the only thing I know to do is write them down. 

Let me start off by saying my two oldest sons will attend public school for at least part, if not all, of this school year.  It was a very tough decision that my husband and I made but we finally left it up to the boys to decide.  It was no surprise that they chose public school because they keep being taught and told by others that it's "the normal" thing to do.  Well by golly, I'm OK not being normal.  I'm OK doing things outside the norm. 
I've always told my boys that I am not against public school and nor do I think kids that are homeschooled turn out better.  When we decided to homeschool in the past (and when we decide in the future) it's because it felt right for our family and the way we want to do things as a family.  
Are there some socially awkward homeschoolers? Yes.  Are there some socially awkward schooled children?  Yes
Are there some homeschoolers that fall through the educational cracks? Yes.  Are there some schooled children that fall through the cracks? Yes

Are there pros AND cons of homeschooling? Yes  ....are you getting my point?

Since we've told people about our decision to use the school system again, I get comments like "Oh good.  This will help....yadda yadda."  Or I get "I think it's for the best because.....yadda yadda yadda."  I know these folks mean well but it's not what I need to hear right now.  I am looking at this as a healthy break from homeschool and I want it to be a positive experience for my boys.  But when we decide to homeschool again, and we most likely will, I am going to know those people disapprove and think I am making the wrong decision.  You are all entitled to your opinions but those opinions, when told to me and my kids, show me that we won't have your support later on.   

I guess I just want people to know that homeschoolers don't always decide to homeschool because they have a beef with the school system.  We decide because it feels right and those feelings can't always be summed up in a list of reasons.  It's never public school vs. homeschool like some WWF showdown.  I see benefits and drawbacks to both sides of the ring. 

Is there a chance my kids won't experience a prom, a homecoming, mean lunch ladies or lockers? Sure.  Do those have to be the experiences that make a life fulfilled?  Just because those are our memories of childhood, do they have to be THE memories of every childhood?  Perhaps the memories we create for our children will be just as great. 

I leave you with this.  I recently saw a post from a homeschooled teenager.  http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/2010/08/myth-of-social-awkwardness-among.html
This post made me smile. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winter Wrap Up

So.....blogging about our Homeschooling adventures has been playing second fiddle to the rest of our activities. Unfortunately for my children, homeschooling itself, has NOT. They are still getting edumicated daily and grumbling about consistently. But here is a Winter Wrap Up of our very busy lives. First and foremost, the above picture took up most of our January. We spent every weekend getting ready to put the house on the market. Why is it that we always wait and do those projects, that you've been meaning to do for years, right before you get ready to sell? Hmmmm....
This Winter we watched Liam crossover from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts will be a great experience for him. He's so excited about his first week long camp out this Summer. This will be his first time away from us without being with other relatives. My biggest fear is the education he'll get from the other campers!! After all...I still remember my camping experience when I was his age.

We also welcomed a new cousin (my great-nephew) into the world. This is Malachi John Petersen. He's perfect! We spent 5 days in Michigan with the Hansen family and had a blast. We went sledding, hiking, Mommy had a day out with sister, watched movies, laughed, played games...tons of fun. I somehow, even snuck in a nap that visit. That is an amazing feat considering how many people live there. Remember, my sister has 9 kids still living at home. Add my brood to the bunch and that's a whole lotta kids.

Quinn lost his first tooth this Winter, much to our amazement. The other boys all waited till they were 7 before they lost a tooth. Quinn, our little early bird, lost his at the age of 5.

Both Simon and Quinn took art classes this Winter at the Delaware Arts Castle. Quinn even had his picture in the Delaware Gazette during one of his art classes. Simon is so into watercolors these days that he is actually watching an instructional video about it right now!!

Whole Foods has been a great distraction this Winter. We've been taking a class there on the first Tuesday of each month. They do a great job. Each class has a different theme and the best part is......IT'S FREE!! This actually works out very well for WF because I always go shopping after the class and spend plenty of money. Maybe the class isn't free after all. In February the boys learned all about Chinese New Year and made yummy dumplings. Mmmmm

For Christmas, Simon received some Kitchen Science kits from his Grandpa and Karen. We've made hard candy, suckers and gum. Before you make gum, give me a call. I would love to help you avoid a few mistakes that just about ruined my Pyrex bowls.

In February, Liam turned 11. We've decided to upgrade all the boys' bikes for their birthdays this year. Liam is quite the stud on his new mountain bike. This is Liam with his Grandma and James.

One very warm (42 degrees) Winter day, we went sledding with some awesome Homeschooling peeps. We had Highbanks all to ourselves until the highschoolers started showing up. Darn schoolies! Just kidding.

This Christmas, my Dad welcomed help from these little hands, as he taught us all how to make Italian cookies. This is definitely an all day affair. We made two batches and used up 2-5 lb bags of flour and I don't even want to think about how much Crisco. I'll just block that part from my mind. Those of you that know me, and my blond hair and pale skin, can you believe I am part Italian? That gray hair you see on my Dad used to be jet black. Not a one of his 4 kids took on those genes. We are all pale and quite lacking in black hair. My Mom had high hopes for me when I came out all nice and olive colored. Turns out I was just jaundice.

We are quite blessed to have some tremendous chefs in the family. This is Liam learning how to make chocolate something-or-other from his Aunt Jen. My brother-in-law met Jen in culinary school (in France, by the way,...ooh, la, la!) so they are our resident cooking experts.

To wrap up our fabulous Winter, we took the boys skiing and snowboarding. And yes, Mom even went snow boarding. Quinn did a great job on skis while Liam and Simon both snowboarded. It was a great day at a not so great ski resort. You can't expect fantastic skiing in Ohio so I shouldn't complain.

Pizza!!! French Fries!!

Every Winter the boys look forward to the Pine Wood Derby race with the Cub Scouts. This was Liam's last year to race but we have many more to look forward to with Simon and Quinn. Here's Simon with his trophy and car.
So that was our Winter in a nutshell. We did many other things that kept the days busy but I can't even remember them all. The boys continue to attend Homeschool gym, have fun play dates with other homeschoolers, play with the neighbors, bake things Mommy shouldn't eat, create fun art work at home, play Play-doh, create Lego designs, and so on and so on and on. Now that it is Spring, let's hope I don't wait another 3 months to log our adventures.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Liam's journey to independence...YIKES!

Why did I choose to Homeschool? I get this question all the time, as if I could answer it in one easy sentence. I never know what to say. Sometimes I'll feel the need to clarify that I have nothing against the public school system. Olentangy schools are great...right? Other times I will simply say "It was a hard decision that we didn't come to easily." That's the truth. One thing I know for sure, is that I can NOT answer this question in a two minute chat standing in the grocery aisle. You better have a pot of coffee brewing and sit back and relax.

One of my concerns with our decision is making sure other moms know that I don't feel superior for homeschooling. Most days I feel like I am nuts for doing this. All I know is that this feels right for me. I would get a pit in my stomach every morning as I watched Liam ride away on the bus. On the first day of 2nd grade he left and I didn't even know what his teacher looked liked! I was sending him to strangers and that didn't feel good to me.

I could be damaging my children beyond repair, I don't know. But this is our journey, you all must make yours.

With that said, I am updating this blog to document a new beginning. This week, Liam will start online school at Connections Academy.

I am really struggling with this because he is essentially enrolled in a public school. Isn't this what I was trying to avoid? I thought I wanted the freedom to study at our own pace, be it fast or slow, and dive into topics that interest us. I don't want to be tied down to a curriculum that mandates what we are studying. I don't like standardized tests. I don't like having my hands tied!!! So why am I doing this?

Over Christmas break I got a call from a different online school letting us know that they still had room for enrollment. I don't remember giving this school my phone number! How did they know to call me? How did they know I was considering this option? Hmmmm......I took it as a sign. We'll give this a try.

I think I will be able to balance our desire to "go with the flow" and still meet the requirements of the school. I watch other families that use online schools and they seem to be relaxed and not on a specific schedule. This will be good for Liam as well. It comes as no surprise that he sometimes "resists" my instruction and help. What does Mom know anyway? Right? Just don't say that to Gramps, Liam, or he will regret those 5 years of Engineering school he paid for!!
So we will give this a try for the remainder of the school year and then reevaluate again for the Fall. I may want to throw in the towel after a few weeks but I am committed to this for Liam. He seems excited and eager to get started, although I still think he is mostly excited about the computer he's getting. Hey..whatever works.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quinn - Why I love thee!!

Last but certainly not least...Quinn. The best "oops" that has ever happened in my life.

Quinn happens to be my early riser. I think he gets that from his Nana! At times, his early mornings can be quite annoying. It's hard to muster up a cheery attitude on only a few hours of sleep. (I happen to be a night owl.) But yesterday, as I was sitting on the couch with him, listening to him ramble on about scorpions, snakes and surviving in the desert, I realized I should look forwad to these mornings with him. I get an extra-special glimpse into his little mind when it's just the two of us snuggled on the couch at 7 am.

Quinn is very expressive with his eyes. It's adorable. Not sure where he picked it up. He now knows when he's doing it and sometimes exaggerates them even more. I love this picture in the tree. It shows a bit of those beautiful, expressive eyes.

When Quinn is happy......oh, the things that boy can do. He can light up a room. When Quinn is grumpy.....look out. He can bring the house down!

He's managing to stay "babyish" longer than the other boys and I'm not sure who to blame. It could be just his personality. It could be that he is truly my baby and I'm not ready to let it go. I'm just not sure. But one for thing for certain, I am not stressing over it. That's the upside of being the youngest. Your parents have relaxed a ton since that first child!

So what do I love about Quinn? I love how Quinn says "dorn" instead of door. I love how Quinn can't pronounce his "L's" and says 'Niam' instead of Liam. I love how he'll just pop up with some random trivia and amaze us all with his knowledge. I love that he can play by himself and pretend his toys are all sorts of things. I love how he draws these miniscule pictures and them cuts them out for presents. I love how he names all his toys. His baby duck will be "baby duck." His kitten will be "kitty," and so on and so on. I've learned to not mess with his naming system. I love his Lego creations. I love his hugs. I don't love that he hates kisses. I have to smother him with them after he's gone to sleep. I love that he likes to watch things like "Survivorman." I love the creative way he will describe things with his limited vocabulary. I love the little wart on his toe. I love the smell of his hair. I love seeing him with his baby cousin Sammy. Quinn just loves that little guy. I love Quinn's smile and his big brown eyes. I love love love this incredible boy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Simon - Why I love thee!

Now on to my 2nd born. What can I say about Simon? He simply lights up a room whenever he enters. If you know Simon, you know what I mean. This little guy beats to his own drum. He sings to his own song. He dances his own little dance. He's this tiny little bundle of energy that you just want to grab on to and hold forever. But he's too squirmy for that. No time for cuddlling, this boy is on the move.

He's got these great little freckles on his eyelids that I want to kiss everytime I see them. Most people comment on his cute freckles when they first meet him, but he's starting to get
embarrased about them. I wish he could love them like the rest of us do.

And you can't talk about Simon without discussing his unique style of dressing. We call him the "monochromatic kid" because he likes all his clothes to be in the same color family. It doesn't matter if the pants are dark green and the shirt is neon green....they match in his mind. The other day he wore green camo pants and a green Hawaiin shirt. He always asks if he looks nice and I always say 'yes.' Well....I say 'yes' most of the time.

I love that Simon's heels never touch the ground. I love the strong little calf muscles he has because those heels never touch the ground! I love how he likes the finer things in life; a fuzzy blanket, a nice shirt, fine China. I love that he can play well with kids younger and kids older. He seems to fit in everywhere he goes. I love how skinny he looks in his PJ's. I love how concerned he can be for others. I love his spirit, his energy, his excitement for life. I love how he normally just goes with the flow. I love to hear him sing songs. I love watching him play sports.

I love how Simon will eat ANYTHING!! He loves pickles, sushi, eggs, celery, peppers, edamame, hot Buffalo wings....and he would probably love if I put all those things together. I love how he dives off the high dive at the Powell Pool. He starts at the back of the board and just starts running. He looks the Road Runner when he's finally air born with his feet still running.

Plain and simple, this kid is great. I love him more than this blog could ever express.

Liam--Why I love thee!

It is not big news that our children drive us nuts most of the time, and that some children do it more than others. So as we wrap up the holiday season, I feel it is important to reflect on what I love about them, what makes them unique, what brings out the best in them....because it isn't always me!! I need to sift through all the daily trials and tense moments of this household and find those precious things I adore about my children. So here it goes, I'll start with my eldest.

If you know my family at all, you know that Liam is my biggest challenge so far. He has humbled me as a parent so many times. When I first had children, I thought you could discipline anything out of a child. I read that "Dare to Discipline" book when Liam was just a toddler and assumed I had it all figured out. WRONG!!! Children will be who they will be. His personality has nothing to do with my discipline or lack of it. As challenging as Liam's stubborness can be, I love him for it. Someday that will help him stick to his guns during a job interview, or a debate with a professor or, scary as it sounds, a marriage proposal. (I hope my husband reads this!!!) Liam is Slagle through and through when it comes to his stubborness. I need to keep reminding myself that this is a good thing!
I love Liam for his goofy behaviour, although inappropriate at times. I love that he loves babies. I love watching him with his cousin Sammy. I love that he loves pets. I love his crazy cartoons that he draws. I love ALL his poetry, although inappropriate at times! I love that he still finds time to thank adults for things. I love that one little mole on his cheek. I love it when he genuinely gets the giggles. I love his sarcasm, also inappropriate at times. I love that he still likes to cuddle with me at night. I love that he wants to sit with me during movies. I love his curious nature. I love how he dives into new topics that interest him even if it drives me crazy at times. I love that people think he looks like his dad. I love how he enjoys calling family members to check in on them. I love that he likes to cook. I love how he uses big vocabulary words he reads in books. I love that he can make fun of himself.

And I love his goofy faces!! The list could go on and on. I simply love this boy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

100 Books in a Month...Not a problem

So we did it!! Just under the wire too. Our goal was to have it accomplished by Christmas. We read our last 5 books on the drive from Columbus to Toledo, Christmas Eve. Phew!

I thought about typing up the list of books so y'all could see what we tackled, but that just seems like too much work for this lazy holiday season. I will, however, go on record to say that they are all different books. We did not repeat any and mark them down twice, thrice, etc. Out of all this, I found some new series that keep me entertained as well as the kids. The Epposomundas books are fun. Simon loved my southern accent as I described the "great, big, hairy, Louisanana snappin' turtle." I also really liked the Dear Mrs. Larue books by Mark Teague but the boys didn't care for them. They were filled with wonderful sarcasm and witty humor that will keep the adult reader chuckling.

With every accomplishment there should be a reward, right? The kids are very anxious for their reward...a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. But if we want Mom's sanity to remain intact, we need to wait till all the "schoolies" go back to school so that we can have Chuck E. Cheese all to ourselves.