Friday, September 28, 2012

Cookies For Cancer Bake Sale this Sunday!

Team G's Cookies for Kids' Cancer Bake Sale

Sunday, September 30, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (PDT)

September 30th, 2012

10am to 5pm

4 locations in Santa Cruz County
1) Surf City Coffee in Aptos
2) Fresh Prep Kitchens/Baskin Robbins/OSH on 41st in Capitola
3) Nob Hill/Drawn2Art on Mt. Hermon Rd in Scotts Valley
4) Scotts Valley Market on Scotts Valley Drive

If you can not make it to the bake sales and want to make a donation or pre-order cupcakes or cookies, you can do so here!

1) Oreo Cookie

2) Sea Salted Caramel
3) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
4) Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
5) Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

1) Triple Chocolate
2) Lemon Drop
3) Chocolate Chip
4) Peanut Butter

The pick up location for pre-ordered cupcakes and cookies will be at Pacific Cookie Company in the Sash Mill on Saturday, September 29th from 2-6PM.
Please visit our Facebook Page for more infomation!

If you would like to volunteer at the event or bake items to sell, please email!
If you are not local and still want to order cookies for yourself or to ship anywhere in the country, you can do so here:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Life of a homeschooler, What are we learning?

In my post A Week in the Life of Homeschooler, I described how we've been running around to all these different classes and such. But what are my kids really learning? I thought I'd elaborate a bit in case you were wondering what we do besides driving! (Which is a great time to pop in an educational CD, discuss things together, or for the kids to look at some books, such as the collection of Native American Indian books I threw in the car this week!)

Learning is our lifestyle. We don't have a start and stop time and there's no division between learning and fun or a set time for learning vs not learning. When we're out and about running errands, such as grocery shopping, we are learning! When picking out fruit and vegetables, we talk about colors, textures, count how many we need, where they grow, the kids weigh them and can figure out the weight and cost. When we are actually home there's still lots of learning going on. When my son has a question, we look it up in a book or online. I try to let him figure out things rather than just answering. We play games and do fun activities in every subject and my kids don't realize they are learning. We are just having fun! We use what we have around the house as well as tons of books, music, games, and videos from libraries and resource centers in whatever subject the kids are interested in and I incorporate all the academics into that subject.

My son also plays online games in all subjects. It's been especially great for his reading! The other day he played his reading game for a while and then we read some BOB type early learning books. He read a whole book to me! I am SO proud! He wanted to keep reading, well he wanted me to read after that, so I read until we had gone through the entire set of early learners! I love that we have the freedom to continue as long as we want or stop when the kids are ready to stop in any subject.

We incorporate math into everything, board games, cooking, dividing up snacks, how many buttons are on that jacket, anything and everything! We go about our lives same as anyone else, but I think we discuss more and look at the details. In everything we do, we see it as a learning opportunity and take time to count, find letters and words, measure, talk about the physics of a leaf falling, changes in seasons and weather, etc. The other day we talked about geometry, balance, larger vs smaller when just stacking up boxes for fun! They are learning all the subjects they would in school, but instead of books and paperwork, I try to provide fun, creative ways of hands on learning. Yesterday my son and I made vanilla pudding, (numbers, measuring, reading and following directions), with green food coloring (mixing colors), and then got to dump some onto a tray and trace letters and then just play with it and eat it! So fun and yummy!

Of course sometimes my kids are not in the mood and I don't pester them to think about every detail, but just let them play. But they're being raised to think, analyze, question, engage in, examine their world, and to talk about it, so they are usually more than happy to do so! And they have not learned to separate fun and learning like I think happens with school kids. I know it happened to me and took me years to love learning again!

We also have much more time together as a family. Time to play and get creative, learn what we really love and what inspires us. Learn to cooperate with and appreciate all ages and stages of people in our lives, around us, and all over the world! Learn to work together to have a peaceful home and respect each person for who they are. Have the time to volunteer at nursing homes, enjoy a beautiful day outside, be spontaneous, really live and enjoy life! There are so many things we would otherwise not have time for. Even to just get bored! That's when I really see creativity come out!

I should include that we don't try to get every subject in every day. We have so much time together, we learn all day, all year, weekends, too, not just during school hours, so we can take our time. Some weeks we are very into history, some, we can't get enough science experiments, others, we are all into reading books or art, sometimes we can't stay indoors and away from the woods or beach! Some days we just don't feel like it at all, so we can be mellow and watch too much tv. There are so many days without tv, that I'm not so worried about it. And we normally only watch educational shows, so tv has been a good learning tool.

We go on tons of field trips! Some with just our family or a friend or two. Most with a huge group of other homeschoolers. The field trips we plan are so varied, there are unlimited things my kids can learn. As well as myself! We learn together as a family and each take something different from each place we go and the people we meet. I've posted about some great local field trips before and I will post more when I have time. I think it's wonderful they are learning in real life about how our world works, innumerable careers out there, relating to many types of people and situations, and so much more!

My son has some classes, such as Karate, where he obviously learns karate, but as I mentioned before, they also have great talks about safety, respect, confidence, etc. In Art and Science class he's been painting and learning about natural science by closely observing insects and leaves and incorporating those things into his art. Next month he starts a nature program called Fox Tracks, (you can read all about what he'll be learning here: Actually we'll all be learning as I'll be there to help and will have my daughter there with us as well. He'll also be starting a class a few hours a week at a teacher's home where they'll do some more traditional school stuff like writing letters and numbers, story and share time, some geography, history, and science. We could do these things at home, but he'll have regular time with the same friends each week, and I'll have some special time with my daughter!

We've been taking a Family Spanish class together and have been speaking, playing games online, listening to music, and watching cartoons on YouTube in Spanish. We were going to start an Ancient History class next month, but I think it will be too much after his "school" class on Tuesdays. Though we have the book, so will read it at home and do some fun activities to bring it to life on our own or with friends.

As you know, I've been teaching art classes and my kids sometimes participate, sometimes not. This week I talked about the significance of masks in history throughout native cultures all over the world and showed some examples. My kids listened and then went off to play. They didn't feel like making a mask, which I was happy with as I could focus on my students! Instead, they built forts with some fun construction type blocks and scarves, and a tunnel. Same as last Tuesday, they designed the fort, trying different ways to see what worked best as well as worked together as a team, helped the younger kids, listened to each others suggestions, etc.

They took out other learning games and materials such as small wooden blocks, alphabet letter cards, puzzles, strategy games, math games, a lever and pulley system they rigged up on a shelf... there are endless things to play with/learn there! The kids that stayed for afternoon classes, ate lunch together out of their lunchboxes at a picnic table. Then played some more before Family Spanish Class began. I love when they can just play, uninterrupted, and are figuring things out on their own. They are learning so much without even knowing it! Wow, this got really long! I had better go see what my kids are learning right now! ;) Please leave comments, suggestions, or inspiring thoughts!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Proud Mommy Moment / Horrified Mommy Moment

He earned his orange belt in Pre-karate! I'm so proud of him! The last time he tested, last spring, he was a totally different kid. He was scared to get out there in front of all the parents, students, and teachers. He hid behind the chairs and cried when I tried to coax him out. They very nicely gave him his belt when he agreed to come out at the end to accept it, but it was a tough evening for all of us!

We went through a long period of whining and crying just to get him to go to karate. I had thoughts of canceling his class, but he loves it once he's there. And I really think what they teach and how they teach it there is so good for him! They have wonderful talks about safety, respect, self control, confidence, etc. Being so shy, it has helped him come out of his shell and feel more confident. Also he's like I was, a bit of a magnet for bullies, since he's quiet and uncomfortable speaking up. This has helped him know how to deal with those situations already!

I'm glad we stuck with it, because he went back to loving it again, and is now always eager to go. This time he ran up the stairs and into the dojo before me. When I got to the top of the steps, after painfully waiting for my two year old to "do it herself!" one slow step at a time all the way up the long steep staircase, he was talking with his friends and then started practicing with one of his favorite teachers. He followed the instructions with his class mates and got out there and did his moves perfectly! He was thrilled to get his orange belt and actually let me take two pictures! Yes, Two whole pictures with a smile and standing still! No hiding or jumping around like the silly boy he is! That was the limit, though.

On the other hand, my daughter, who was difficult the last time we took her, but I was thinking she'd be fine this time as she'd just had a long nap....was not pleased to have to sit still quietly. She was whining and being obnoxious the whole time! We tried to keep her busy with books, toys, games on my smartphone, my husband took her out to the lobby for a while and came back in when he knew our son would be up soon. I missed the first time he was up to do some moves because my daughter suddenly had to go potty, even though I had just taken her. She didn't go, but just wanted to play in the bathroom. I rushed her back into the dojo just when my son was sitting back down. Then suddenly, she pooped her pants and I scooped her up and ran her back to the bathroom. Of course I left the diaper bag in the dojo and we were seated on the far side, so every time we were in or out, I had to walk back in front of everyone!

Luckily, only her undies were soiled and not her pants, so I just had her go camo after cleaning her up, but she was not okay with this! She started screaming, "I need to change! I need to change!" I finally got her to quiet down enough to explain that I needed her to be quiet long enough to go get her change of clothes across the room! She did somewhat, but by the time we got there she was distracted and no longer cared about her clothes. Then she started up about something else and finally my husband took her out to the car just after watching our son's last time up. He just missed him accepting his new belt, but I took pics. We both agree that we never, ever want to take her to karate testing again! Of course I said that the last time, too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A week in the life of a Homeschooler and schedule change

I changed our schedule around before we even got comfortable! I couldn't wait for my son's classes to start so we could get settled into somewhat of a routine, but just when we got started, I changed everything! It's great we have the flexibility to do that, but now I can't wait for the new routine to start!
This week, my son went to an art and science class Monday morning which he loved! I'm a little sad he won't continue it next month, but then again, he's ecstatic for the Nature program he'll be starting! He'll get to run in the woods and learn all about animals, plants, ocean, streams, survival skills, and more, it's so his thing! After his class we played at a friend's house for a few hours. Then went home for a bit before his Karate class. 

Tuesday I taught an art class at the DLC, which both my kids participated in. Working with clay, it was big hit! Every seat was filled and everyone had a great time making coil pots and animals! Then they had two hours to play and eat lunch before Family Spanish class. It was so wonderful to watch all the kids, ranging in age from two to twelve, playing together. The older ones helped the younger, they worked well together building a fort and all played in it with no arguing or fighting. It's not always the case, but this day, everyone was just getting along so well! No parents were butting in to their business, they were just free to work it all out on their own. It was awesome to watch!

After Spanish we rushed home to put my daughter down for a nap, and then when my husband got home, my son was off to karate class again. Later this month we'll have Ancient History just before Spanish and next month, no Spanish, and I won't be teaching art in the morning. Remember the school I had wanted him to go to that moved away and I was so upset?? Well, my favorite teacher from there started a class at her home, in town, so starting next month, he will be going there Tues mornings! Yay! It all worked out in the end! I'm still planning on Ancient History afterward, but if it's too much, he doesn't have to stay in it. Plus I want him to have some energy left for Karate. He needs to go at least twice a week and I know he'll be exhausted Mondays!

Wednesday was a "Not Back To School" Fair at a Harvey West Park, a huge, beautiful park in town. We were there from the start, 11am, and didn't leave till about 1:00pm. I hadn't planned on staying quite so long, but we were having too much fun! There were demonstrations from tons of vendors (businesses who's classes can be paid for with school funds) of Ocean Grove Charter School (the school my son is enrolled in, it's a homeschool charter). We watched ballet, martial arts, and fencing, and wandered around to the booths where there were other demonstrations and things to play with, like lentil science kits, mini solar cars, art projects, etc. Plus there are some great climbing trees at that park, so my son was up in the trees every chance he got! My husband was with us, so it was great to have some family fun together! Afterwards we went to Costco and then home to just relax the rest of the day.

Normally on a Wed we have field trips or park days with other homeschoolers. In the evening the kids will be in Awanas, starting at the end of this month. It's a wonderful youth club at church where they sing, play group games, do crafts, and learn bible stories.

Thursday I had to work at our church all morning. I work in childcare a few days a month, and while I'm taking care of my class, my kids get to go to their classes and play with other kids, do crafts, and have fun at the same time! Afterward we had a picnic lunch and then my son played while my daughter napped. Then we went to karate again. We went three times this week because he's testing today, Friday, for his Orange belt in pre-karate!

When I don't work at church, Thursday's will be our stay home day. A day to hang out, work on projects, and get things done at home that have been neglected. That is, when we're not pulled into irresistible field trips, classes at the DLC, and other activities that come up with friends that we just can't pass up! I'm going to try to keep us home that day, though, except the occasional Mothersong, toddler/baby music class for my daughter to enjoy in the morning. My son brings books or drawing stuff, but since she's dragged around to all his classes, it's good for him to do something just for her. Sometimes he participates with us, too.

Friday- today we're going to Gizdich ranch for a 45 min tour including apple picking! I'm tired this morning and not wanting to go anywhere, my daughter has been climbing out of her crib so I finally let her sleep in the bunk bed and it was a long night trying to get her to stay in bed! But my kids are rearing to go, so I had best get a move on! I'm sure it will be a blast, and would like some good apples! Maybe I'll make a pie. Later tonight we'll go to my son's karate testing/promotion night!

Fridays are almost always field trip days. My plan is to have two field trips a month and the other two Friday's in between, we'll go to the nursing home with The Bridge of Hope Organization and visit, sing hymns, etc with our beautiful elders. We went once last month and the kids brought lots of smiles! I'm going to try to make it a priority even if we have to miss some great field trips.

This is what our week has been and what our future schedule looks like for the moment! Why do they call it homeschooling? We're never home! I think World Learning as a better title, since we're out in our world learning rather than in a classroom, for the most part. I can't say we're typical homeschoolers, as all homeschool familes are so different. Some stay home much more and don't take so many classes, if any, some have even more classes going on. Some do workbooks and curriculum all morning, but that doesn't work for us right now. I'm sure it will be ever changing and evolving, but so far it's been wonderful and we've only just started! I'm so excited for this "school" year!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chasing kids for photos.. uh, I mean taking photos of my kids

My son has never been a fan of getting his picture taken. He usually hides if he knows you're trying to snap his pic; blocks his face with his hands or looks away quickly! I have to snap a quick candid shot before he knows what I'm up to, most of the time. Drives my grandmother crazy, who will spend an hour trying to get a perfect pose! I've been trying to get a good pic of him lately to use as a "school photo" since he's homeschooled and won't have that horrible wonderful picture day experience! But after two months of trying (I started early) I have given up and called in the professionals! Another deciding factor is that it's high time we get an updated family photo, my poor daughter was no where near being born or even thought of in the last family photo, taken when my son was only one!

So, this weekend a pro photographer met with us at our favorite spot, a short hike to an awesome climbing tree we frequent. I pictured a lush green background as it is in springtime! As soon as we got there I realized, it hasn't rained in ages, it's the tail end of summer, and it's as dry as a dead stick out there! When did that happen? Are there other areas of life I only see what I want to see and will someday be shocked into reality?! I mean I was just there two days ago and I still pictured it green, green, green!

So much for lush greens, we will be lucky to be seen amidst all that brown and yellow. Oh well. For some insane reason, I also pictured a calm, happy family, standing and smiling for a few quick clicks of the camera and then going off to enjoy the rest of our day. Looking back, I don't know why I didn't imagine the tantrum my son would throw over having to remove his precious florescent blue binoculars and his favorite green baseball cap! And then climbing up "his" tree and not wanting to come down. Or running up ahead and refusing to hold my hand for the adorable pic of all of us hiking down the trail together hand in hand. Or not wanting to sit still and to look up without complaining about the sun's glare and covering his face in his hands!

We were there practically all day and though the photographer was very patient and kind, even to the extent of letting my out of control child hold (gasp!) her big expensive camera and teaching him how to work it! He did cooperate a bit better after that. I was so torn between wanting to make him behave as I normally would require with consequences for not listening, and not wanting to set off a complete meltdown which would be even less helpful to a good picture than the hope of capturing one spontaneously! I probably looked like a horrible mother who hasn't a clue how to discipline her children!

On top of that, I had to remind myself to smile and look at the camera, though I really just wanted to scream and throttle someone; my anxiety level was steadily rising every minute! My husband and I were too busy trying to coax cooperation from one kid and make sure the younger one stayed put long enough, as well as pull her dress back down to cover her undies! AND, my dearest hubby was being kissy and lovey and I was in no mood for that! Not to mention I'm uncomfortable with public affection in the first place. Yes, we were in the woods away from people, but it's not pleasant to have someone, even a photographer, staring at you while your hubby is grabbing your ass! I was not allowed to keep my distance, either, as she, to my horror, reminded me that we love each other and to smoosh closer together!

I have yet to see the results. I'm sure their are tons of great shots of my daughter as she is a little camera diva! But I can't imagine the family shots being anything other than a disaster! Though I think she may have snuck a few good pics of my crazy boy while he was being a monkey in "his" climbing tree. 

This was one of my attempts at a home photo shoot with the kids, back when my son still had long hair. Needless to say, I suck as a photographer, and don't let your kid have a balloon to get them to smile for the camera.

The winner!  Lighting and location sucks (dirty kitchen floor), but, OMG they're both looking!

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