Friday, August 31, 2012

Homeschool Days- Field Trips

Happy Friday everyone. One of the benefits to homeschooling is the amount of resources that are available to you. One of the benefits is the ability to take field trips to various places for either free or low cost admission. Many places provide curriculum that is downloadable from the websites for a great learning experience, while having fun. Here are a few that I have come across recently.

Aquarium of the Pacific
Homeschool Days
September 19-20, 2012
Cost: $6 per person, children under 3 free
Parking $8

2012 L.A. County Fair
Homeschool Days
Wednesday-Friday, September 5-28, 2012

*All info subject to change. I am not in control over this. I am just sharing the offers.*

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day!

During the weekend I had every intention of sitting down and making our lesson plans for the week. Intention  was not enough as I got busy and preoccupied with other things and lesson plans some how did not make the cut of what got accomplished. Homeschooling and lesson plans are a whole new concept that I need to make a priority. School is to be taken seriously. If I am not serious about making lesson plans, there is no way I can expect my children to take their academics seriously. My children look to me for guidance and instruction. I need to set a better example and be proactive.

Monday was, ugh, the day from, ugh! Ugh was the word of the day. Mom, What am I suppose to do for Math today? Ugh was the response. Mom, What do I do for LA? Ugh, again is the response. Not the best way to start a day, especially a Monday. I worked frantically to pull assignments together to keep them occupied and productive so that I could get my lesson plans completed for the week. It seemed to take all day. I learned a lot of what did and did not work last week and made changes to make our days flow better.  My frustration of not having lesson plans ready got the best of me and everything the kids did seemed to add one more straw to this camel's back. Before study time was over I was in tears. Sad, overwhelmed and feeling like a failure I was ready for the day to end. During dinner my husband and I were talking about the day and how the homeschooling was going. I explained my day and he could see the toll the day had taken on me. It was at this time that I  remembered something about the day that had almost gotten lost in my frustration. My son, Mr. C, completed all of his reading worksheets on his own and got everything correct except for two questions. I quickly called him into the room and praised him for trying so hard and staying focused. It brightened his face up to know that I was proud of him and that I noticed he had done it all on his own.

It is hard for me to think something so important was almost forgotten because I allowed myself to become so consumed by my frustrations. As I was talking with Mr. C my frustrations disappeared. That one single moment among all the frustrations made the day completely worth it. I know this is only our second week into school but I am seeing a difference and I feel progress is being made. All of which is a confirmation that we made the right choice for our family.

Many of us get caught up in the moment and allow ourselves to be consumed with the frustrations and negativity of what happens in life. This reminds me of a quote:  "Every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday."- Author Unknown.

Stop and find the good in your day.

Monday, August 27, 2012


I have been trying to write this post for what seems like forever now and it gets more and more difficult each time I sit and type. I have no problem when it comes to writing my other posts. This post is different, more painful and forces me to admit what I have kept hidden for so many years from friends and family, with the exception of my wonderful husband.

Our mind can be our own worst enemy. As a child I can remember hearing boys/men say, "Look at the mother and you will know what the daughter will look like in 20 years". This has stuck with me my entire life and is embedded in my brain. My biological mother is just under or about 5 feet tall and on the chunky side. Almost everyone on my maternal side is "big boned" with the exception of my grandmother. As for the sperm donor, he is tall and thin at 6'7". I was blessed to get caught in the middle between them and am 5'7".

In my eyes, I have never been as thin as I would like. There have been many times though where I have been comfortable with my weight. With my first daughter I gained 60 lbs and I was able to lose some of it. When my son came along I gained 40 and managed to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I then gained 40 with my youngest daughter and was able to get 20lbs off. None of this has helped with my self-esteem.

I can't believe I am doing this! Breathe.... breathe...... Not am I only going to admit something completely painful, but I am putting it out there for the whole world to see and know. I have an eating disorder. I binge eat, late at night. This is not your typical pig out late at night after everyone goes to bed. I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself standing in the kitchen eating, usually it is something sweet. I have no memory of getting out of bed or eating any of what I ate, but just find myself standing in the kitchen with food in my hand. I have gotten up in the morning to get hubby's breakfast/lunch ready so he can go to work and I find a mess of my nightly feast, yet, I remember none of it. Can we say scary. There have been a few occasions when my husband has heard me eating at night and he has had to stop my from eating and get me back to my bed.

I have an eating disorder. I use the word "have" rather than had because I believe that once you have a disorder, you will always have it. You man learn to keep it under control or keep it at bay, but in the end, it is and always be there. My nightly feast do not occur every night and I still have not been able to pinpoint what triggers them. I can go six months without an episode. I know this because even though I don't remember the feast there is almost always some indication that the pig out occurred, i.e. wrappers in the trash, containers on the counter rather than where it belongs. Those kinds of things. I think it is my subconscious letting me know what happened. As of this writing, I honestly don't remember when the last time it happened. That is a good thing, right.

I have not talked to or seen a doctor, nor do I really want to. My weight is a very touchy subject with me and I am frustrated with it. I know I am overweight, fat, obese whatever you want to call it. It is a fact and I know it. I have had three gym memberships in the past 11 years and I stuck with them for about three months and then it just seemed more of an inconvenience. The gyms are so crowded it and it can be difficult to find time in between life, kids and family. I am not making excuses, I am stating the facts as I see them.

Dieting, have I tried dieting? Yep. Did it work? Nope. When I tell myself I cannot eat certain things or I have to limit my breads and cheeses I go crazy. Seriously, I go crazy. I am like an addict waiting for the next fix. I began to sneak and I become almost obsessed with eating what I should not be eating. If I don't tell myself I can't eat those things I am totally fine. I don't want to be a lifetime dieter. I want to be able to enjoy life and food. I also have Hypothyroid. My Thyroid does not work on its own. I take a pill every morning to replace what the thyroid isn't making.

With all the rave happening around P90x I took a look at it and it is not for me. I don't want to kill myself or burn out before I truly get started. I did feel that Beachbody, the makers of P90x, was onto something and I checked out the reviews for the P90 system. I am over 200 lbs and I can't do a whole lot of hard core stuff without my knees killing me. P90 had great reviews. I bought it and was super excited to try it.

P90 arrived and it was completely do able for me. Yes it was difficult at times and yes it challenged me. But it didn't discourage me. I never felt like there was anything that I could not do that they did in the videos. My routing became up at 4:30a get hubby off to work and P90 at 5am. I enjoyed it. I was having more energy and felt better. I was not losing the weight that I had expected. I did not do any of the supplements that are suggested. I have a hard enough time taking my Thyroid medication. Not seeing weight loss was disappointing. Though I wasn't losing pounds, I was losing inches. My clothes are fitting differently an I can see the difference when I look in the mirror.

I was able to do 45 days of P90 before I fell off the wagon. Family vacation got in my way. We decided to homeschool and my schedule some how got loss in the shuffle of life. Yes, I am making excuses for myself to comfort me in once again failing myself. Last night I treated myself to Cold Stone's ice cream with the promise to get back on schedule.

This morning I sent hubby off to work and headed for the bedroom, not to go back to sleep, even though I really wanted to, but to get my P90 workout video. My workout is complete and I feel good. I need to do this for myself. I need to put myself first. I started this post by saying as a child I can remember hearing boys/men say, "Look at the mother and you will know what the daughter will look like in 20 years". I am me, I am not anyone else and I don't have to look like or be the same size/shape as my mother. I am tired of being trapped in this body because of some stupid saying. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

That was Painless

It is Saturday evening and I am reflecting on this past week. I find myself looking back and laughing at myself. Before the week begun I was feeling so overwhelmed and was doubting our decision to homeschool. I admit, I definitely made a mountain out of a mole hill.

The week went by quickly and each day was a learning process. The first couple of days we mainly focused on LA (Language Arts) and Math. As we got comfortable we added in a little Social Studies. Next week if all goes well we will add Science. I am enjoying my time with the kids. We are trying to work out a system so that we have the least amount of interruptions as possible. But, I am not sure that is conceivable with an almost 3 yo (year old) running around. We stayed on schedule, completed everything we had planned and I was able to do some baking in between.

From what I can tell the kids like being homeschooled. Thursday morning I was shocked when I came into the living room and the kids were all sitting there patiently waiting for me and my son had the ipad waiting for our morning reading of the Bible. Hold on a minute though, the kids also completed all of their morning chores and I did not have to say one word to remind them. I was ecstatic. I reinforced their wonderful behavior with praise and thanked them for being responsible. Crossing my fingers they keep this up.

I belong to a couple of homeschooling groups on Facebook and am grateful for their support and the amount of resources that the groups' leaders and members share with one another. I am by no means alone in my adventure. There is someone else out there that has the same shoes on as I and is walking the same path. It is comforting to know that I am not alone. Thank you to these groups for giving me ideas to keep the little one busy. It certainly did help.

Monster High Cookies

It is no secret, I am addicted to make cookies. We had a Birthday party to attend and I jumped at the opportunity to make some sugar cookies. The Sugar Cookie Recipe and Royal Icing Recipe that I use can be found at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. I give lots of credit to Callye, she is an extremely talented woman who has provided me with lots of inspiration.

The birthday girl was turning 7 and her theme was Monster High.

7 for the birthday girl's age.

We can't have a party without cupcakes. Here is was trying to decide which style I liked best. I went with the one on the right. Thanks to my wonderful friends who voted. 

Girly skull and crossbones to go with her Monster High theme.

The finished product.

The week was a little crazy and I was glad to take some time out of my daily schedule to make these cookies for the birthday girl. The cookies were a hit and everyone loved them. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

We Survived!!!!

I spent a little bit of time yesterday working out a few assignments for today and Tuesday, focusing on Language Arts and Math. Once we get the hang of it we will incorporate other subjects as well. I didn't want to bombard the kids or myself with overload.

1 Math page front and back for both kids. Our Language Arts curriculum has an online component which is nice. I will admit that I fumbled around on the online component trying to figure it out. Still not sure I got it down all the way, but I do have enough figured out to get us going. Both kids enjoyed their LA online. My son had 3 LA worksheets and he did a spelling pretest. He missed 2 out of 13. So proud of him. My daughter had 4 LA worksheets.

We began our day at about 8:30a starting off with running a few errands, including the grocery store. We got down to business about 10:30a and had a nice lunch break. At this time the kids began their LA worksheets. However, my son began to have a melt down and I made a deal with him, finish the worksheet he was on and we would take a break and treat ourselves to a dip in the pool. Forty minutes in the pool and back to studying for 20 minutes to finish their work.

All of that and I was able to squeeze in a some housework and dinner is cooking in the Crockpot. I am thankful today went over well. Our adventure has started off on a good note and the kids are looking forward to tomorrow. I enjoyed the flexibility of our day and being able to spend time with each one of my children helping them with their work.

All in all............. TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY!

Friday, August 17, 2012

What was I Thinking

Woke up yesterday morning feeling anxious. We were scheduled to meet with our Para-educator to receive our books, lesson plan and to have my son's reading ability tested. I was scared and second guessing my decision to homeschool my children. I continually asked myself, "What were you thinking?"

Seeing all of the books made me want to faint. (Once I got home and sorted by student edition and teacher edition it wasn't so bad) My son tested lower than I expected in reading which took my anxiety and feeling of drowning into anger and frustration. I have been working really hard with him and he has made improvement, but it just proved to me how his school failed him and that I made the correct decision to school him at home. 

My lesson plan that I received was beyond basic. Do Chapter One and related workbook pages. Our program does allow us to use a variety of teaching methods and decide what we teach, I was just hoping for a little more guidance since this is my first teaching gig. I have spent the last four hours looking at workbooks, teacher editions and student editions to grasp some sort of sense where to begin. I finally had to walk away from literature, LA, Reading etc. and took a look at Science, Social Studies and Math. Now it is all starting to seem a little more doable. I did learn one thing, I need a good lesson planner to get me organized.

I spent the better part of the evening looking for a good planner to help keep the kids and I on some sort of schedule so that we don't slack off. One would think that finding a planner to use would be easy, right? Wrong! At least not for me. I read on another blog how she used sticky notes for each day in her planner that way if she had to move something to another day it was easy. Sounds like an interesting idea. This morning, I will be making a trip to my local Target to see what they offer and make a decision.

Yesterday is behind us!!! Woo Hoo..... I had a great night's sleep and I am feeling much better. So, What was I thinking? I was thinking that traditional school was not working for us and that we needed to do something different. I was thinking that my son required more one on one learning and that the school he was in was not able to provide that to him. I was thinking that I want my children to have more positive influences in their day to day life. I was thinking that I want to be closer and have a closer relationship with my children. I was thinking this is the right decision for us at this moment in time.

I am blessed to have found a wonderful group of homeschoolers on Facebook and Yahoo Groups. I am grateful for all of the support, advice and resources that they have shared. Most importantly, I am thankful to know that I am not alone in this journey and that there will always be someone out there to think we homeschoolers are crazy, but also that there are a lot of people who think we homeschoolers are doing what is best for our children.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Making the Right Choice

First off, for anyone who is thinking about homeschooling, check with your State Department of Education. Each State has it's own set of rules and guidelines to follow. You can also find many resources out there to help you decide what the proper path is for you to take.

We have decided to give homeschooling a try. With that decision comes a million more decisions. In California we have a variety of options when it comes to home schooling. Since I am new to this myself, I will not make any claim as to knowing all the facts. When I began my research I came across California Homeschool Network and was thankful to find out a lot of what I need to get me going. I mentioned options earlier and there are a few to choose from. Reading over Just the Facts will give you a much better understanding.

We chose Option 3-Public School ISP or Charter Schools. This is still a public school and it is funded by the State of California. With this option, we are provided with all of our books and materials needed, we are still subjected to the STAR Testing and we are required to meet the California Department of Education guidelines. The only difference for us is we teach and learn at home. This is the choice that I felt would be best for our family. That doesn't mean it would be right for yours. This is a very personal decision that is made and while others may not agree with my choice, it is just that, my choice. We are just in the beginning stages of our homeschooling adventure and later on my choice may change. Right here, right now, this is what we are doing.

"Why take your child out of a public school to put them into another public school?" This is a popular question I am asked. I believe that there are to many children and not enough teachers in your tradition school. By utilizing a charter school, my family is assigned to a teach that is available to provide any support we need. We meet with this teacher once a month to turn in assignments and to get next month's lesson plan. My son requires more one on one attention when learning and I am able to provide that to him by homeschooling. I am also able to control the outside influence that my children are exposed to. Both of my children have been bullied and I am not going to allow that to happen again. I am not against our school system, I just don't like what I am seeing and it is my responsibility as a parent to put my children and their needs first.

Homeschooling is done for many reason. If you are curious about homeschooling, ask questions, keep an open mind and never judge.

This is the first in a series of posting to come regarding Children and Education. I am not an expert, just a parent trying to do my part.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

People come in our life for a reason

New sports seasons brings new families and the possibilities of new friendships. Years ago, I tried to get to know all the parents on the team and chat with them in hopes of making new friendships. I was often left with the feeling that people just didn't like me. I generally would be the one initiating the conversation. And then I would here the stories about the various families on the team getting together, hanging out and having BBQ. Our family never being invited. I was hurt that we were not invited.

My solution was to stop trying to befriend everyone. For the last two years, we have kept to ourselves. We would say hello and be cordial. During practices, I would be found at the playground playing with my other two children rather than sitting with other parents. During game times, we would sit away from everyone. It was a different experience that is for sure. I was able to enjoy the game more and didn't have to listen to parents complaining about the coaches or any other B.S/gossip going around the field. Also, the parents didn't have to listen to me trying to start a conversation with them. I admit, I can be a talker.

This summer session of Basketball was no different. I was cordial but kept to myself. But a funny thing happened this season. We were at a Basketball game and my neighbors should up to support my daughter and watch her play. As we were enjoying the game, my neighbor mentions, "There are my neighbors that live behind us on the next street over." I was surprised. I mentioned that they were on our team. I am not sure why but I seized the opportunity. I walked over to the parent and asked if she lived on "such and such" street. (I don't want to name any names of people or streets to keep things confidential). The parent replied, "Yes we do." I mentioned that we live right around the corner from each other and that it would be great if we could get the kids together for a play date. Our kids are very close in age.

I was elated when she agreed that we should get together. Our first play date went off without any problems and it was a great feeling watching all the kids getting along, having a blast and listening to their laughter. Eight kids total ranging from age ten to two and a half. Not only did the kids hit it off, but so did the other parent and I. As we were talking during our first play date the subject of school came up and I found out that the kids were being home schooled. (No these kids were not socially awkward or pale in color. They looked and acted like typical kids but better behaved and respectful. But that is another topic).

My husband and I had previously discussed home schooling for the simple fact that my son struggles in school. Neither my husband or I felt confident that it was something that I could handle and we moved away from the subject at that time and I hadn't thought about it. I had done a little bit of research and spoken to many online friends that home school. Hearing these kids were home schooled made the wheels start rolling again in my head. I have to say that being able to sit with someone face to face, get your questions answered and be able to interact with kids that were home schooled really opened my eyes and but put the topic back on the table for my family.

For the next few days there was a ton of discussion with my husband and kids about home schooling and whether or not it was right for us. My conversation with my new friend helped me to answer this question. My answer was, "I don't know if it is right for us, but I am willing to jump in with both feet and try my best. If if it doesn't work out we can always go back to traditional school."

Someone once said, "We don't know what we don't know." What a true statement. We must try new and different things to see if it will work for us. Most importantly, we all need to keep an open mind about everything. Just because we are always told something is a certain way doesn't necessarily mean it has to be that way. If you find what you are doing isn't working for you or your family then it is time to find something that does work. I am willing to find what does work. Am I scared? Of course I am. Am I worried I might fail? Absolutely. What person wouldn't feel that way going into uncharted waters?

We decided that we would be foolish not to try. And now our adventure begins............

This is the second posting in a series of posting to come regarding Children and Education. I am not an expert, just a parent trying to do my part.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good Bye School Year!

2011-2012 School year is finally over. I am happy the school year is behind us. My daughter was in the 5th Grade and my son was in the 2nd Grade. Both have passed and will be moving on to the next grade. I am grateful to the teachers that had my children and to the wonderful staff at their school. Their job is not easy and I have seen how it can take a toll on them.

Like I said, we had some good teachers but we also had some teachers that I was not overly impressed with. As a parent it is my DUTY to be supportive of my children's education and to do what I can to assist them in their learning adventure. I wish more parents would think the same way. I honestly believe that the teachers today are overwhelmed, overworked and stressed. With public schools constantly being hit with budget cuts, I couldn't even begin to fathom what it would be like to go to work everyday wondering if you were going to be laid off.

Each school year my children and I visit each class a few days before classes start to meet with the teacher and to introduce ourselves. At this time, I like to give the teacher's my phone number and email info and I always ask for them to contact me if my child is acting up or if there is anything and I mean anything going on that I need to be aware of. These are my children and I want to be supportive of my children and their teachers. Not to mention that I know my children are no angels, they are kids. I want the teachers to know that I am a very, very, very involved parent. I usually get a "thank you", a "I wish I had more parents like you" comment and the "Of course I will keep you informed of what is going on".

So what happens.....? It has been very rare that a teacher would contact me. Does that mean that everything is perfect? Heck no. I generally am contacting the teacher to find out what is going on. By the time that I sense there is an issue, it can be hard to get a handle on it. I wish I had an answer to why the teachers don't get more in touch with the parents. Both of my children had some issues academically and once I really began to stand my ground did I feel that my voice was being heard.

This past school year has taken a toll on our family emotionally. Both of my kids were harassed and bullied at school. I am thankful that I have a great relationship with my kids and they feel comfortable talking to us about any issues that they have. If it wasn't for my kids telling me what was going on, my husband I would have never known. I spent more time in the Principal's office this year than I think I ever did as a child. For the most part I was happy with the resolutions but there were a few that left a bad taste in my mouth. It is hard to have faith and believe in a system when you are often left wondering WTH!

Until next year.

This is the first in a series of posting to come regarding Children and Education. I am not an expert, just a parent trying to do my part.