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Friday, January 30, 2009

Memorizing Math Facts...Why?

I never forced my children to memorize math facts...or cursive writing. (gasp!)Well, I attempted to force them to learn for a while, but came to realize that it was an unnecessary and foolish waste of time and energy, that my children had many more engaging and important things to do with their time than memorizing numbers that had no meaning to them.

My daughter is 19 and was "extremely relaxed homeschooled" until her senior year, graduated public high school with honors and STILL doesn't know her times tables and this does not affect her life negatively in any way. By the way, she has beautiful handwriting.

My 20 year old son, also "extremely relaxed homeschooled", didn't know his times tables until he went in the Navy. He wanted to take enrichment classes in his teen years and was told by his teacher that he was WAY behind on his math skills and must work very hard to catch up in order to get along well in our world. I blew him off and told my son to learn math if he wanted to, that those particular skills are not necessary for everyday life and he can learn them later if he feels he needs them. He never opened a math textbook again, although he did spend much time with his head in a computer and with computer literate people. He also spent a lot of time with scientific minded folks having deep discussions about things I have never even heard of.

He went into the Navy and during his "college" training he and another homeschooled kid tutored many of the other guys who didn't understand the "higher level math skills". (That's pretty good for a kid who was told just a couple years previous that he was very unskilled at math. I also think this may contradict the studies that state that homeschooled kids are behind their public school peers in math skills. Although this example is only two children, I have to wonder if public schooled kids may be better at taking the test showing math skills while the homeschooled kids are better able to apply math skills to everyday life? I suppose that is a topic for another day.) Currently he has a Naval career in electronics, computers and encryption, which regularly uses those skills and more.

After he had been out on his own for a while I asked him if he wished that I had handled his education differently and if he had any suggestions for his younger siblings. His only suggestion was that I had used the "real" terms in math, like "sum", "addend", "quotient" and such. I think those are really only necessary if you have a math based career though.

Also, my 13 yo knows some multiplication facts but was not forced to learn them. He learned them through normal every day experiences, like calculating a tip for the waitress or figuring tax on an item he wanted to purchase. My 10 yo loves doing all sorts of complex math in his head, skills he learned intuitively, completely on his own while "playing" outdoors. (in reality he was observing and interacting with nature and learning a lot about natural patterns in our world)

I love to brag about my children, but the reality is that I had nothing to do with it. I let them be, encouraged them when they wanted it, lived life with them and loved them. They are intelligent, considerate people. It has worked out well for us so far.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Old Fashioned Text Books, On Line Libraries and Book Collections

You know the old one room schoolhouse and those little books they learned from?

Well, today I was referred to a site that has links to online versions of a bunch of them. Through that site I found another site that links to 140 old text books!

I downloaded several of these old text book to add to my educational collection(my "curriculum"?).

My youngest absolutely loves the old math texts, with those real life questions that are not written out in numbers but are things you may have to figure out in real life. He also enjoys how the old readers tell stories of children doing things he likes to do, like boys going fishing, feeding the chickens, petting a cat or playing ball with his dog.

My second older boy enjoys adventure stories for boys like those written by G.A.Henty. I often find him with his nose in a book. He is currently reading a book about classic cars and another about Dr. Doolittle. I realize neither of those titles are historical fiction, but that is what he is reading right now. He probably has several other books that he is currently reading also but I don't know what they are.

I hope you will take the time to visit the links on this page. The online libraries and collections are great fun to look through. We use many online books for our education. There are many books that are either out of print or we simply can't afford to purchase. We do prefer to hold a book in out hands and enjoy turning the pages, but this is the next best thing. Check it out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast

We listened to the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds today. My birth mother, who is a very cultured woman and exposed my brother and I to many wonderful experiences, shared this unique program with us when we were children. We were a bit too young to fully understand all that was happening in the program, but we both enjoyed it and found it fascinating that people were frightened by it because they thought it was really happening.

Today I downloaded copyright-free books on my sons computer so he can read them at his leisure. When he discovered that War of the Worlds was in his file he excitedly told my father that he had heard of this before and that Judy (his new grandma) and mom (me) told him that this was played on the radio a long time ago and people panicked and thought it was really happening. After a short conversation he asked if there was any way we could listen to it.

We quickly found a very easy to use site that allowed us to listen online without downloading it. This same site has the entire script of the actual radio broadcast. We are a very visual family and often wander off in daydreams with no visual reminders to help us remain focused, no matter how interesting the subject matter is, so we appreciate that option.

A little trivia:

We learned that the War of the Worlds was performed as a Halloween episode on October 30, 1938.

The rumored panic that this broadcast caused may have been false. Careful research has shown that people were frightened but there is no evidence that people fled their homes. (I was always told that people fled their homes and such things.)

It has also been suggested that this broadcast was a "psychological warfare experiment" or part of a "crowd psychology" experiment.

At some point during the broadcast my son left his computer, and the script on it, to come sit near his brother and I.

When it was finished I asked what they thought. My older son said that his mind wandered off and he barely heard it and laughed at himself saying that it is hard to stay focused. My younger son said that he did not enjoy it much because he did not understand some of the words and the sound quality was poor so it was difficult to figure them out within the context of the story.

Maybe, like my brother and I, they will appreciate it when they are older. They are happy that we all sat and listened together even though they did not enjoy the actual program. I think that falls under the philosophy that "It's the journey that matters, not the destination."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Designer Snowflakes and Growing Snow Crystals

ClickSchooling digest introduced us to a page on New Scientist that has actual photographs of snowflakes taken by Kenneth Libbrecht. This site also gives neat descriptions of these flakes. At the end of the series of photographs is a link to more snowflake galleries.

This site gives temperatures in Celsius so we used the Celsius to Fahrenheit Temperature Converter to figure out what sort of weather produces which snowflakes.

After looking over New Scientist we went to and looked at many more photographs of beautiful snow crystals under the Natural Snowflakes section.

We also learned that they can create snowflakes in the lab under controlled conditions in the Designer Snowflake section. This section has movies of snowflakes growing in the lab and lots of neat information.

This site contains a lot of interesting information and activities including how to grow and photograph your own snow crystals.

All of these amazing snowflake photographs in this post were taken by Kenneth Libbrecht.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History of Pastys

Judy made pastys last night for our BWAY dinner last night. She shared a little bit of their history and that inspired me to check it out for myself and I want to share what I learned.

I really enjoy Wikipedias description of the history of the pasty:

The origins of the pasty are largely unknown. It is generally accepted that the pasty (as we know it today), originated from Cornwall, although recent documentary discoveries have caused some fierce debate on those origins[6]. Tradition claims that the pasty was originally made as lunch ('croust' or 'crib' in the Cornish language) for Cornish tin miners who were unable to return to the surface to eat. The story goes that, covered in dirt from head to foot (including some arsenic often found with tin), they could hold the pasty by the folded crust and eat the rest without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry. The pastry they threw away was supposed to appease the knockers, capricious spirits in the mines who might otherwise lead miners into danger.[5] A related tradition holds that it is bad luck for fishermen to take pasties to sea. Pasties were also popular with farmers and labourers.

The pasty's dense, folded pastry could stay warm for 8 to 10 hours and, when carried close to the body, could help the miners stay warm.[7] In such pasties, the meat and each vegetable would each have its own pastry "compartment," separated by a pastry partition. Traditional bakers in former mining towns will still bake pasties with fillings to order, marking the customer's initials with raised pastry. This practice was started because the miners used to eat part of their pasty for breakfast and leave the remainder for lunch; the initials enabled them to find their own pasties.[8] Some mines kept large ovens to keep the pasties warm until mealtime. It is said that a good pasty should be strong enough to endure being dropped down a mine shaft.[9] It was also said by miners in the Butte, Montana, USA area, that a pasty was "as welcome as a letter from 'ome (home)." [10]

Pasties are still very popular throughout Devon, Cornwall, Wales, other parts of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brittany. Pasties in these areas are usually hand-made and sold in bakeries or sometimes specialist pasty shops. Mass produced pasties, quite different from traditional Cornish pasties, are sold in supermarkets throughout the United Kingdom. Several pasty shop chains have also opened up in recent years, selling pasties better than the mass-produced ones with a variety of fillings. Pasties are often eaten on the move like other fast foods.

The true region from which pasties originated is hotly disputed between Cornwall and Devon[11]. Outside Britain, pasties were generally brought to new regions by Cornish miners, and as such are referred to as a Cornish invention.

In many Latin American countries empanadas are made; they are similar in shape to Cornish pasties, though usually made without potato—minced beef, chicken, and maize are common fillings. They may be baked or fried.

I also enjoyed this page:

History of the Pasty

This is an excerpt. See the link above to read the full article.

When one thinks of gifts from other cultures that carry with them great historical significance, one usually doesn't think of food. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan there is a food delicacy that has gone ethnic to multi-ethnic and finally to regional. To many people in the Upper Peninsula, the pasty is much more than food, it is an identifying cultural mark that gives them their own identity. While it is a source of great pride to this region, the pasty itself, especially its ancient history is shrouded in mystery.

The easiest way to describe a pasty, is a pot pie without the pot. Nobody knows for sure where and when the pasty originated. It's thought to have been invented when the preparation of food became an art rather than roasting a hunk of meat on a stick. The pasty came to the Upper Peninsula through Cornwall England. When tin mining started going bad in England during the 1800's the Cornish miners immigrated to America hoping to earn there fortunes in newly developing mines. No one knows for sure though whether the Cornish invented the pasty, or whether they picked it up from some other group. Mrs. R.F. Ellis of Cornwall insist that the Cornish invented it and that it is a diminutive of the star gazed pie, which is a type of pie baked with fish, such that the fish heads stick out of the pie. Others think the Vikings may have brought the pasty to the British Isles when they invaded. And another theory states that it may have been derived from the Italian "pasta", since the Cornish were considered to be great seamen.

I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. Now you can say that you "did history for school" today.

Natural Learning In Action

Schooling outside of school.

Zachary plays Revolution Evolution often. In this game he plays within different cultures, types of government, location, times and famous people.
He has to choose whether to accept certain historical figures into his culture. Today her requested information on Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, Ghengis Khan, Mai something or another, and another that I can't think of right now.
We also got a lesson of the history of pastys during dinner.

Is is considered "school" or learning when a child asks his mom to read aloud an entire page of information about a historical figure?

I have stayed up way too late tonight and an falling asleep over this article. I will look back over it tomorrow to make sure I didn't make any "too big" blunders.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Leaking Swimming Pool, Pastys and My Two Liters/Leaders

We had a BWAY dinner at our neighbors tonight. When I got there they asked me to check out the pool. She has an indoor pool. The room is sort of like a "Florida Room" with lots of windows. It has this awesome flat gray rock and a little waterfall to recycle the water, lots of plants, a shower and place to change a garden table and chairs and more. It is beautiful. When we have a lot of guests the children will eat at a table in that room and the adults will eat at the dining room table. Anyhow, when I went in there I discovered the pool had about one foot of water in it! It drained into the basement! Fortunately the basement has drains so the water did not accumulate down there.

Judy made pastys. I can never remember if it is pronounced pastys or pasties. When I say it wrong everyone cracks up. One of these days I'll remember which is which. I have never had them before. They look sort of like a stromboli, but instead of the crust being made with pizza dough it is made with sort of a pie crust. It is filled with meat, potatoes, carrots, rutabagas and onions (but they do not cook up the way Judy likes so she leaves them out) and served with ketchup, although gravy was offered for those who dislike ketchup. They are delicious and very filling.

We learned that pasties are a northern Michigan tradition. They are filling and nutritious, portable, not messy and you do not need silverware to eat them. This meal we were encouraged to not use our sliverware. They are made with root vegetables that grow inexpensively and easily in Michigan and also store well over the winter in a root cellar. Men would tuck them in their clothing to help keep them warm while they went to work outdoors and eat them for lunch. The pies were usually still warm at lunch time.

After dinner we were chatting. Someone said something about our "leaders" and Dad and Judy got on a roll about being our "two leaders"...or is it "two liters". I thought this was a great play on words.

Mondays are free movie nights at Red Box and Hope decided she wanted to get a "chick flick". She asked us girls what a few good movies were. We all sort of drew a blank. We came up with "The Women", "Laws of Attraction", "The Holiday" and "Laws of Attraction". This is very sad because we all love watching girly movies. I don't know what was up with us tonight. As we were discussing movies Judy asked if she has seen "Shipping News". None of us had ever heard of it so we watched it. I loved it.

The boyz had planned all week to watch the inaugural event on Disney at 8pm so they went in the den. They said it was awesome.

After the movie we came home, Debbie hung out for a little bit and the boys went to bed. After the boys went to bed I cleaned out the dog pen. Can you say "ICK"?!? I don't know what is up with the dogs lately, they are pooping everywhere!

Now everyone is tucked in and sleeping. I don't think I have ever specifically shared about our family. My dad, me, my two boyz, Dads maltese Jasper, my chihuahua Peanut, our three puppy chihuahuas and three foster chis, who are waiting for their forever homes. (Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing an AKC registered puppy). It is a full house. In the near future my dad is going to get married and move out. We will miss him living with us but he won't be far. And I will have the master bedroom with walk in closet and giant bathroom with garden tub! And for the first time ever the boyz will have their own bedrooms.

It is late. Good night.

An Autodidactics Experience With Home Education

This article is my ramblings regarding the concept that children will learn what they need to, when they need to, in the way that best suits their individual needs. I am trying to resolve this conflict in my mind between my opinion on this and a close friends opinion whose wisdom and opinion I value and respect. I must continue to reevaluate my thoughts and goals for this non-traditional school I hope to be a part of so I do not create a situation that could damage young people.

My personal experience with my own children and long time friends is that children will continue to learn and progress in their "grade level expectations" and every other area of their lives without being forced to do work out of a text book or by being forced to read boring books that do not relate to their lives or interests. In fact my experience is that if you leave a child (or any person) to live his life in the context of a nurturing family that also continues their own "natural, life long" learning that child will exceed your expectations (including traditional school expectations)

I have had several discussions with a friend who believes that this concept is faulty in certain circumstances. She has witnessed my children who are obviously intelligent, happy and well adjusted. If you did not intimately know our family you would assume my children attended school and spent a lot of time with their noses in books and doing lots of homework. The reality is that we spend as little time as possible in "formal studies". We spend as much time as we can pursuing our individual interests. We learn and experience things we enjoy. We do "school" because we have to, because their father insists that they have a traditional "school book" education, even though our experiences have proven that is unnecessary. We have joint custody of the children, which means that we share decision making regarding education and health issues. We spend a lot of time doing things that feel like we are just hanging out. We spend a lot of time PLAYING. The reality is that while we play we are actually learning more and faster than while we are "studying". Since we play a lot and do things we love we are learning...all the time! Even when it appears we are not learning.

Anyhow, she believes that the parent must have the ability to "impart wisdom" and has pointed out that as an autodidact I, without realizing, "impart wisdom" regularly, just like eating and breathing. She believes that my children are as intelligent as they are because I set an example of continuing to learn about and try new things.

She believes, through her personal observations, that a parent cannot pass on something they do not possess. A parent must have wisdom to impart it, they must set an example for a child to live a life of an autodidact. (I am not speaking of intelligence, but wisdom and knowledge)

She believes that under these circumstances the parent may do better to use textbooks and various tools to assist in the learning process. that the parent cannot give what he/she does not have. She feels that if the parent does not have the skills or desire to be a self learner they will not be able to pass that on to his/her child.

I have been tossing this idea about in my mind for months now. I have been observing every family I encounter to learn if this hypothesis is accurate. Through my observations I have learned that children pick up family speech patterns and vocabulary, world view, perception of learning ability, play and learning habits. I have learned that families that value traditional education over play often have children loose their ability to play creatively or play without feeling that they should "grow up and get on with things". Families who value mainly success in a traditional learning style and whose children does not jive with text book learning often feel that they are inadequate or not smart and verbalize this often, which is tragic because these children are incredibly intelligent.

These observations have given some truth in my mind to her opinion. Now I have more questions. What effect does that sort of environment have on a child? Is the child simply under stimulated? I still believe that a child is born to learn, explore and master his environment, so has he been taught by example to stop (or maybe minimize) his exploration of his world? Will this child thrive in an environment which allows freedom of thought, play and learning or will he fall stagnant due to lack of example?

If her observations are true, this type of non-traditional school will be of great benefit for those families. This child will be engaged in conversations and activities with people of all ages, intelligences and backgrounds. He will, without realizing, expand his knowledge and learn how to play again, after all, playing is the best way to learn.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Homeschooling and Socialization

A homeschooling mom was feeling doubt about her decision to homeschool when her ex ridiculed her and claimed their child will become a weird social outcast and have no friends or social skills.
I have been successfully homeschooling for over a decade and still get asked often, "What about socialization?". This is a common concern from people who were raised in the traditional school system and have no awareness that it is abnormal for people to be segregated by age and robbed of their freedom in these institutions called schools. I could go on about the inhumanity of traditional schools but I will save that for another day.
Here is my response:

My daughter attended school for the first time in 11th grade. She
loved it but family issues did not allow her to finish out the year.
She decided she wanted to attend school for her senior year. We talked
a lot about it. She had done everything necessary to graduate from
home school and I hoped she would go to college or take a trip or do
something neat instead. She was very aware that I felt she was going
as a social experience rather than an educational and had my complete
support to quit or change the way she was doing it at any time.
She made lots of friends, attended sporting events and parties, dated
the town nerd and the town basketball star (not at the same time) (she
totally broke the rules. It was unheard of for a cheerleader to date a
"nerd". She is an individual and liked him. She felt the social
classes in the public school system was silliness. I think dating that
guy was an act of rebellion toward the kids at school cuz she prefers
the pretty boy type), made the cheerleading squad, made honor roll but
decided she would rather go to parties and other things than have the
responsibility involved with that, graduated with fact she
was one point away from graduating with high honors. She talked with
me about it. She had to decide to stay home and study for a test to
get that one point or go to a big party she had been wanting to go to
for a long time....she felt that regular honors was good enough and
went to the party. (she talks to me about decisions she has to make
and I share my opinion but she makes the right decision for HER, not
for ME, even if it is not what I would chose for her. When my children
make a decision they know that I will not give them a hard time and if
it doesn't work out I will never say "I told you so". They know they
can come to me when a decision doesn't work out the way they had
planned. I do not bail them out but offer a compassionate ear and
support them in pick up the pieces and moving on. Bottom line I love
them unconditionally and don't judge the path they chose in a negative
way. I am extremely proud of my children))

In our town a social misfit is not going to make the cheer squad in
public school... especially the first year attending. (in fact the
head girl asked her to try out, she might not have otherwise) A social
misfit will also not date the school champion(basketball star), or
have the guts to stand up to peer pressure about dating a "non
popular" guy, or be invited to many parties and have several offers
for dates for the prom and lots of offers for dates in general.

Her social success was an awesome testament to the naysayers who gave
us a hard time in the early years. Somehow succeeding in the public
school system is the measurement that most adults measure a young
person success.

My son attended the first half of 12th grade. He did not graduate from
public school because family medical issues forced him to move to
another state which did not recognize ANY of our homeschooling and
would have had him start classes at a 9th grade level. He instead
decided to take a GED and go straight to college. He had to get
special permission to take it in this state, and then jump through
even more hoops to not have to take months of prep courses first. The
school principal and superintendent ridiculed him and my sister (his
temporary guardian) and advised that students can't pass the GED with
out preparation and should plan on having to retake the test several
times. They swallowed their words when they got his tests back with
high scores. They even asked him to sign a waiver to use one of his
essays from the test for future preparation classes.
He is by nature an introvert (like his mother LOL) and did not enjoy
school as much as his sister. He felt is was ok, but that his home
education was much more challenging and way better. He has always had
several (more than several but less than many) close friends and very
healthy and inspiring relationships. He was leader of the youth praise
and worship team.

Both children were very active in church since elementary school. Even
then they both took initiative to participate in activities and were
often asked to take leadership roles in long and short term projects.
While elementary and middle school age both children were on the kids
praise and worship team, the puppet ministry, kids prayer ministry,
drama club, dance team (my daughter only). When they were highschool
age they were part of the leadership team in the youth group which had
a lot of responsibilities which they took quite seriously. Social
misfits cannot function and intermingle with kids and teenagers
especially in leadership positions. Kids and adult liked and admired

They get along well with people of all ages and all educational and
social backgrounds. People continually comment on what great kids they
are....well they are adults now.

I shared all these stories to show that they have succeeded both
socially and academically and were homeschooled.

I would like to add that we were not a "do school at home" type of
family. We were "extremely relaxed homeschoolers". At that time I was
an unschooler at heart but had to keep the husband (now ex)happy with
proof of their education so we did the obligatory lessons...a couple
times a week. I worked around his demands by asking the kids to
"study" a topic of their choice and produce at least one project each
week (a science experiment, raise an animal, grow a plant, draw a
picture, sing a song, give a speech, put on a play, write a
paper...pretty much anything) I think my daughter studied rabbits for
at least 2 years and my son studies Ancient Egypt for equally as long.
My educational goal for my children was for them to know how to find
the information they need to do whatever they may want to, to be
independent learners and to have a "broad knowledge base". Since
everything is related to everything else my kids acquired a broad
knowledge base. It is amazing how many things they learned through
their studies that seem TOTALLY unrelated to the topic of study.
Currently I have two boys 10 and 12 learning at home. I accidentally
became and unschooler. My mother had alzheimers and my father got
terminal cancer as she was in the end stage of her life. I moved in to
care for them and the childrens "formal" education was completely set
aside. I did continue with our normal talking and
reading books and watching tv and PLAYING. When I finally pulled the
books out I discovered that the children were both academically where
they would have been if I had been "doing school" all along. This
confirmed my suspicion that my older children excelled academically IN
SPITE of my prodding to learn.
Since then I have let myself off the hook and we continue to live and
play (I have to be aware of what we do so I can keep their father
updated. It sucks a little bit of the joy out of it but is much better
than using textbooks all the time). Once in a while I get little pangs
of guilt (or is it fear?) because the boys father continues to insist
that they do plenty of text book learning and has requested a
quarterly reports and samplings of their work. so every once in a
while we pull out the books and do a little bit of "school" so he wont
take me to court.
We love to live and play and ...well just live. I have a dream to
someday to be a part of a school (even if I have to be one of the
founders) for kids who want to unschool and want a neat place to
socialize and share their lives (what better way to learn than to hang
out with people of all ages and backgrounds????)or maybe the parents
are insecure or work. I continue to work on this project in my spare
time. I suppose we will start out as a "support group" or a "club" or
just a place to hang out on a regular basis.

well my words of encouragement have become a book of our homeschooling
history. LOL I hope my childrens "normalcy" will help you have
confidence in what you are doing.
Oh, BTW, I have discovered that "feeling productive" is not a good way
to measure learning, it only succeeded in making me feel like a
failure. The best learning happens spontaneously...JMHO :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Project Based Education

The concept is based on what interest and motivates the student. Because the instructor cannot customize lesson plans for each student, he must implement student responsibility. It becomes the student's responsibility to develop and research projects and develop a plan of action. The instructor acts as a coach or facilitator. Instructors take an interest in students' projects instead of students having to take an interest in topics handed down by administrators.

This is a simplified description of the philosophy behind the students role in the creation of his/her curriculum and how that relates to the student - teacher relationship.
It came from

If I understand his site correctly (the site is huge with LOTS of information so I just skimmed it) this guy operates a ministry for at risk youth where kids and a crew operate a ship and learn from real life experiences. The goal, which is usually successful, is to teach (re-program, de-program ?) the kids to trust themselves to learn and take initiative to learn in a different way because the school system "broke" their confidence.

A lot of what he says fits how I think the schools curriculum and teacher involvement should be.

Somewhere within the pages he said that about 30% of the population does not fit into the traditional school system and that system "teaches those kids to fail" and that many of these failing kids are genius or at least super intelligent. He goes on to explain that most of these students must understand why they are learning something before they are able to effectively learn it. Traditional schools do the opposite.

Project Based Education involves either watching and helping someone actually fix a motor or just setting a kid loose with a manual, motor and tools. The traditional school system has a student memorize the names of the parts and how to fix a motor before being allowed to actually work on the motor, if they get to work on the motor at all. Project Based Education makes much more sense to me.

I have been corresponding with my girlfriend about this and it just occurred to me that I should be saving those emails. Writing them has been sort of like taking notes and has helped me get these ideas more orderly. In my head I fully understand it but have a hard time expressing it effectively to others. I am finding our correspondence to be very helpful. So, bonus to you! You will get an inside view of the processes we are going through as we found a non-traditional school.

-9 in Michigan!

The weather on the computer said it was -9 this morning! That is cold!
"Z" had a doctor appointment but the heater doesn't work properly in our car so I rescheduled. When we were out the other day and it was around 10 the drive was unpleasant. I was not willing to do that in even colder weather. We will continue to stay at home until it warms up.
I am still not able to find employment. I babysit all ages of children. Any other job that may suit me requires a bachelors degree. I decided that if I do not find a job by Monday I will go apply for college, unless it is still too cold. I already sent in my FAFSA and learned that my EFC is zero. Yayee! I will be able to use the left over money from my pell grant to help pay the bills. I may have to take out a student loan. Ick!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window

Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window

I ran across a link to a fabulous childrens chapter book today. A mother sent her daughter to traditional school and she got kicked out for being a regular kid, she was not disrespectful just curious about the world around her. The wise mother recognized that there was nothing wrong with her child and did not tell her that she had been expelled but instead found a school that understood and respectes the natural curiosity and energy that children have and gave the children many opportunities to learn new things through natural experiences in addition to book work. It would have been wonderful to have been able to attend a school like that as a would be neat to attend a school like that now!
If my boys are interested I will be reading this aloud before bed next week. It is a bit young for them but they often still enjoy childrens stories. It is about 100 pages long.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dog Ownership Teaches Children Responsiblity and Compassion

My girlfriend/breeder asked if I wanted to bring 3 extra puppies home with me when I picked up Abby and Mercedes. She suggested that it would give me a taste of what it is like to have a bunch of little dogs to care for and to see if I have what it takes to breed my dogs, and also to see if I will like it. I brought them home and am loving it!

I wondered if all those puppies would be stressful but they aren't at all. They get up before I like to fussing because they are hungry, but that is no big deal. I feed them and go back to bed for little bit.

They are tiny pooping machines! They were already paper trained when I got them so I just had to keep changing the paper. Five puppies can put out a lot of poo. If I didn't replace the paper right away they would walk through it. That is very gross. I replaced it with clay kitty litter. It is so much cleaner! They didn't want to walk in it at first so I put newspaper over it to entice them (they can't resist going potty on a fresh piece of newspaper). They quickly learned that the kitty litter is lots of fun to walk in and potty on and dig in. They love it.

The kids are really loving it. I am very proud of them. They take initiative and do what ever needs to be done to be sure the puppies are well cared for, including baths and everything. I don't have to tell them to do anything. They also make sure to play with all the dogs, not just their own. That was their own idea not mine. They ask one another and me which ones have had the least attention so each puppy gets lots of love. This is one of the best things I have done for them. It is helping them develop compassion and self motivated responsibility.

I hope the three extra puppies sell soon. They are adorable and we keep getting more attached every day. Every day we decide that one puppy is our favorite, then the next day we realize that another is our favorite. I suppose they are all so awesome in their own way that they are all our favorites.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Z"s Blue Chihuahua Came Home Today

"Z"s dog came home today! He named her Heidi. Just two weeks ago she was such a little tank. She felt like a bean bag when I held her. Now she actually has a neck and legs. She was born so blue with white paws. Now she is becoming more gray. Her white paws now have fawn blending into the blue on her legs. She looks like she is also forming fawn points on her cheeks and over her eyes. I love that! She has a very sweet temperament. "Z" tried letting her sleep with him but she peed in his bed. He changed his bedding and let her potty and a short while later pooed in his bed. Maybe she will be ready next week.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dinner at Judys and Other Things We Did Today

The boys made it home ok. They seemed to have had an uneventful and fun visit. They didn't even realize the phone incident was a big deal to me, which is good. They are very happy to spend time with our new puppies.

Today we went to Judy's for "bway-loaf". Debbie called and said she was on her way. I called to be sure it was ok for her to come too, it was. We thought dinner was going to be just us. It was a great surprise to learn that Hope, Andrew and their children were coming too. After dinner, which was WONDERFUL, we visited for a few. When Hope and Andrew left we stayed and watched "Juno". It is a sweet movie.

I bought kitty litter for the puppies and put it in the "potty section" of their puppy area. They were afraid to walk on it so I covered it with newspaper because they just cant resist pottying on a fresh piece of newspaper. It is so noisy when they walk on it but at least they are going on the newspaper. I will move the newspaper a little at at time until they are going on litter only.