Adventures in sort-of unschooling

The cane

I’ve written about the cane before (on the old blog that is now private) and that was before I finally made the leap and bought one. I got it yesterday and am building up the courage to take it into public. It definitely helps with stairs though!

But why the apprehension on using it when I’m out? Because I don’t *look* like I need it. Because I’m not “old enough” to need it. Because of odd reactions or attention (and questions/comments) when I mostly try to blend into the crowd.Β 

I think I’m going to yarn bomb it. I guess that goes against the last reason I mentioned above, but in a way it makes it *mine*.Β 

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What a month!

No, seriously. What happened to September? TBO got a filling, Lucy got spayed, TGO got sick. And I haven’t crossed off a day on my calendar since Sept. 12. I kid y’all not.

TBO got his filling on the 12th and that went well. Or, as well as could be expected. He did well with the laughing gas and even got sleepy toward the end (don’t you wish you got sleepy during dental work?) but got a little sick as we were getting ready to leave. All in all, not so bad.

Lulukitty was spayed but missed the memo on that. I figured she’d be too sore to move much and set everything up for her in our bathroom. She spent the night climbing the shower curtain and trying to take apart the blinds over the toilet. Then I noticed on Sunday that she pulled her stitch out. *sigh* Β She’s a handful.

Then last week TGO came down with something godawful. By Tuesday she wasn’t eating much and had a fever of 103.7. I took her to urgent care where the doctor said she had a stomach virus. Nearly a week of diarrhea, vomiting, fever, while trying to get her to eat or drink anything… so not fun. DH stayed home and managed to work some from here. Now she’s back to normal and I can’t keep up with her appetite.

I’m having knee surgery on November 7th (on the left knee this time) so I’m mentally preparing for that. My right knee doesn’t hurt at night, but I loathe stairs and getting up from chairs. I’ve finally given in and ordered a cane. I never imagined I’d need a cane at 32 but it is what it is, right?

Well, the living room looks like 2 tornadoes passed through so I should get up and pick up a few things. Maybe the kids will join me… I can dream, anyway.

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So far this week

Sunday we went to the Peach Stand (it’s a restaurant/ice cream shop/farmers market/butcher/bakery/gas station – gotta love South Carolina!) We had ice cream, went to the butcher for pork chops, and got some produce. The kids were most excited about the roasted peanuts still in the shell. Trying to get to their food kept them busy for a while πŸ™‚ Sunday night DH cleaned off all the pots and stuff off the deck.

Monday we went to Pike Nurseries (aka the garden store) and we spent nearly 2 hours poking around, looking at all the plants, pots, gardening tools, and such. We saw orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime trees, all bearing fruit. The kids picked out three mums, 2 ivy plants for the hanging baskets, and a Japanese Ardisia. We came home and put all the plants on the deck and it looks really nice out there now. We also got a hummingbird feeder but haven’t seen the hummingbirds yet (they are around but may be mad that we took up the tomato plants they were attracted to).

I can’t even keep up with all the kids do when we’re home. TBO has been really into magnets. TGO plays with her babies. Sometimes they both get into a pretend game with the babies and stuffed animals. This morning they were building a castle with wooden blocks. I do paperbackswap.com and we get new books in once a week or so. Right now TBO has a whistle and is directing traffic, which consists of TGO pushing her baby in a stroller around the living room. They can be playing individually and the next thing I know their games have merged. For instance, TGO loves to read and that can turn into both kids playing library.

Today we went to the consignment store to take in some old toys. We got some letter blocks, a couple of books, and TGO got a new baby. On the way there we saw a firetruck flying a flag on the ladder so on our way back, we stopped to get a closer look. We spent some of the morning talking about 9/11. Then we went back to the garden store to get praying mantis egg cases, but they were out and now I have several hundred ladybugs in a container in the living room.

Ladybugs. Yes, that’s a knee-high on the lid.

In about 30 minutes we’ve got to leave again to go to the farmers market to see the “beef guy” and get our meats and maybe some veggies.

Tomorrow the Mosquito Squad is coming to hopefully kill off these mosquitos. TBO also has a dentist appointment to get a tiny cavity filled so we’ve talked about what’s going to happen there. Thursday we may be going to drop off some blankets for donation to the shelter (yay!).

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Bye bye, hair


Just over 11 inches of hair donated πŸ™‚

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Things around here

Each day is basically the same, and yet not. We get up between 8 and 9 am, eat breakfast, and play. Maybe there’s an errand to run, or an appointment somewhere, or someone is coming here to do something (like the bug guy, or a repair person) but it’s… calm (in the sense of doing, not so much with the noise level).

Today TBO got up just before 8. I was awake because of my knee pain but since DH was already up I wasn’t in any huge hurry to get moving. TGO slept until after 8:30 and I wandered in after her. TGO has played with her babies, TBO has made some sort of invention, together they’ve played some sort of doctor game with their stuffed animals. I’ve made phone calls and answered emails for Binky Patrol. I’ve scheduled the kitten’s spay. I’ve sort-of scheduled my other knee surgery. I’ve scheduled the mosquito squad to hopefully kill all these pesky mosquitoes before they give us West Nile. We sent a card to a friend of mine that hasn’t been feeling well. They both drew pictures inside the card. We need to go to the post office later to mail books. Both kids drew pictures for DH before he left for work.

Right now I’m waiting on TGO to finish lunch (and oh em gee is she taking forever!) so I can go shower. I need to look at my to-do list to see what else we need to be doing but TBO is playing some semi-educational game on the iPad…
It’s busy and we do a lot but it doesn’t feel stressful (usually) because we are in control and doing things on our schedule. πŸ™‚

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“Homeschool” room







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Potholder weaving


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Asheville trip

We wanted to go to Asheville a couple of weeks ago but the weather didn’t cooperate but this past week I watched the weather forecast and we decided to go once it looked for sure that there wouldn’t be a washout weekend. We left Friday afternoon after lunch and got there around 4. We didn’t know quite where we were (and the kids were hungry) and went to Fatz, which was near the hotel. After that, we went downtown to wander around. A lot of the shops were closed but Kilwin’s was open (our Kilwin’s in Charlotte closed) and the kids got Superman ice cream. Then we went to the drum circle. TBO wasn’t as fascinated as TGO… I’m pretty sure she could have people-watched all night. There are some interesting looking people of all ages in Asheville πŸ˜‰

We wandered around some more and just before dark we headed back to the parking deck. You can’t take us anywhere because… we broke the parking deck. DH put in the parking ticket to pay, then his credit card (I don’t know why he didn’t just let me give him the cash but… whatever) and the machine jammed up. It wouldn’t give him back the credit card! The gate opened and I told him to pull out before it closed so we pulled out and onto a side road, and eventually into a street lot within sight of the deck. DH had dialed the number on the machine and within minutes someone came out to let everyone out of the deck (after we pulled out the gate went down and no one else was able to leave… and traffic was backing up!). I was in the van with the kids and we saw about 20 cars pull out at one time but the guy wasn’t able to get our credit card out of the machine. We got back to the hotel and called the bank to cancel the card. (We tried to go to parking services on Saturday but they are closed on the weekend.)

Saturday we started to go to Early Girl but there were so many people waiting outside that we went to World Coffee? and it was a good thing because it started raining. We went to Curio (a toy store), Purl’s Yarn Emporium, Earth Guild (the kids got to see all kinds of stuff, including a demonstration on making yarn with a spinning wheel), and had lunch at Chai Pani.

I can’t remember what other shops we went to but we left around 2-ish to go to the WNC Nature Center. We saw wolves, bears, owls, a turkey vulture, some farm animals, frogs, snakes, turtles, cougars, but I think their favorite was the otter because s/he would swim by the window playfully.

We headed back to downtown Asheville for dinner at Early Girl and dessert at a place I’ve forgotten the name to, but not the cheesecake I ate because it was so good! We went back to where the drum circle was but the music was religious so we didn’t stay. There was some festival going on but we didn’t feel like walking to it and headed back to the hotel. The kids had a much-needed bath and were pretty ready for bed after all that walking.

We left around 10 am and headed back home. The kids had a blast! TGO has been carrying around the stuffed kitty she got at Curio, TBO loves his walkie-talkies, and they’ve both played with the magnet set they got. I got a potholder loom at Earth Guild but I’m saving it. Right now they are building a street made of playing cards and a hotel in the mountains.

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Asheville pics


The kids loved filling their shirts with cold air from the AC


Friday night drum circle





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From one of my email groups

I didn’t write this, but thought I’d share πŸ™‚


If my son were in First Grade yesterday

School started yesterday and my son would have been in First Grade. If
he attended, he would have had to be outside at 6:50am when the bus
arrived. That means he would have had to be up by 6am at the latest,
which means that his 7pm bedtime would have been super important; he
melts down without 11 hours of sleep.

The classroom doors don’t open until 745, so he would have experienced
55 minutes of either being in transit or sitting in the cafeteria
quietly. From 745 to 8, he would have gotten settled at his desk. Then
it all starts at 8…the math centers, the literacy centers, the group
work…with no breaks (according to the class website) until 11am. He
would then get 40 minutes to eat and play before heading back to work.
Work would finish at 245. So, he would have approximately 7 hours of
continuous work, except for one 40 minute break. I think he might
completely explode!

He would come home with homework on every day except for Friday. So,
by the time he got home on the bus (around 330 pm), he would have 3
1/2 hours to unwind, eat, do homework, take a shower, play and go to
bed. Then it would start over.

In addition to the homework btw, we would be expected to drill him on
terms like “medial sounds” (for 6 year olds!), because it’s the
language of the NCLB tests. There’s a really long list of testing
words that the kids are expected to memorize each year, not because
they have any value or relevancy in their lives, but because it
improves testing.

He would have PE one day a week. He would have what they call “art” 1
day a week. He would no longer have the luxury of working on free art
all throughout the day with the pleasure of solitude, with a complete
lack of inhibiting rules. He’s very artistic. This would crush him.

We would no longer have the time to take all the “field trips” we
take. As a substitute, the First Grade class would take him to the
Science Center once (we go monthly), the Art Museum once (we go
monthly) and a pumpkin patch once (we would go anyway). If he were in
K last year, btw, there would have been a trip to the grocery store
(er, we go weekly) to learn about “healthy food”, even though our home
diet is FAR healthier than what he would eat at school.

In addition to all of this, there would be the constant barrage of
“spirit nights” and other strongly encouraged activities that occur
out of school hours. He would be fed candy in school, which we don’t
do at home. He would not be able to participate in the hot lunch
program, because they don’t have any regular vegetarian options
(unless mashed potatoes count). There would be a lot of hype to buy
and sell things in the interest of supporting the school. The school
would be promoted as a very needy entity, in the interest of winning
over the kids and families to the cause, and we would be guilted into
buying junk or peddling it to our relatives.

INSTEAD, my 6 year old got up when he felt well rested. He ate a slow
series of mini-breakfasts in the morning. He stayed in his PJs for a
long time. He PLAYED all day. He played and played and played so hard
that it seems to be work; it seems to be a genuine need. Of course,
there were educational moments amidst all this; you are homeschoolers
so I don’t need to describe that to you. But he had a completely
relaxed day with no pressure. I feel good about this.

Sometimes, I get anxious because I think that now we’re entering the
hard-core school years. Lots of people homeschool for K, but then they
send their kids to school. Starting in First Grade, school is
apparently all-business. When I think, “Oh no! He’d never be able to
attend school now because he missed the gentle K introduction to
meaningless coloring sheets, sticker charts and busy work.”, I do
things like read the school’s website. And then I feel really good
about the choice we made for him. I feel content and so does he.

Thanks for letting me share.

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