National Chocolate Chip Day!

May 15 was the day of chocolate chips!  We are always happy to celebrate and honor the beautiful substance of chocolate.

We made pancakes with 4 kinds of chocolate chips (2 kinds of dark chips, mini chips and regular semi sweet).

We started looking closely at the chips and wondering how they were made.  This led Owen to the idea of melting all the kinds together to create a new blend of chocolate that we could try to make our own chips out of.   We talked about our theories of how they were made in a factory and then got busy melting, dripping and dropping trying to create just the right chip.

Owen really enjoys creating sweet treats that are concoctions not found in a recipe.  I think this habit started because whenever the boys get together with their cousins they end up starting a “restaurant” or “store” to sell things they make to the adult family members.  It’s been really fun to watch how their skills have evolved over the years, both in the cooking realm and the “how to fleece the family for as much money as possible” realm!  These mini cupcake liners work great for these sweet creations he likes to make.

Reflections on paying attention

Often when I sit down to read to the boys at night or other times during the day, they like to be doing something else too.  Building with legos, loving on a stuffed animal, drawing, etc.  I must admit, it bugs me a bit that they don’t still sit right next to me all the time looking at all the pages of the book.  But many of our books are longer wordier books now, without so many pictures so it makes total sense for them to be happily doing something else.

One day recently they were doing a particularly active something else while I was reading and it was really bothering me.  I said “you’re not even listening, why should I still be reading?”  S replied by telling me the last few sentences I had just read.  Ok, I thought, so you’re listening quite intently after all.

I started to think about why it bothered me when they appeared to not be listening, even though they had proven to me over and over again they heard what I was reading.  I think it was because I just felt like they should be listening the way I would listen.  Then I checked myself because often I listen to podcasts or audiobooks while doing dishes, or cleaning the house or driving.  So why shouldn’t it be ok for them to multitask as well?

Then I thought more about how I look when I’m listening to them.  I am often on my way through the room with a load of laundry, or cooking, or doing something on my phone or computer.  Yes of course there are times I sit right down and look at them and hear what they have to say, but really, how often do I really sit and give them my full undivided attention?

I am always impressed when I take the time to think through a feeling I have about something “they are doing wrong” and it turns out I’ve been doing it that same way for a long time!


Pokemon Go…who knew?

Ok, so it’s likely many, many people knew other than me!  In case you’re totally living under a rock and don’t know anything about it, or you just haven’t played yet here is a summary.   It’s really fun.  This coming from a person who pretty much goes against the majority of all things “trendy.”

We are actually learning some good skills from the game.  The boys have had some Pokemon cards for a while now and not really played with them.  Now they are playing with the cards a bunch and asking friends to bring their cards over too.  They are comparing (reading) the names of the Pokemon in the app with the ones on their cardsor in the TV show.  They are playing Pokemon in real life with their friends too, rolling around on the floor and pretending to be different creatures with unique powers.  When we are out and about we often turn on the app and catch what we can or walk to hatch an egg, or keep an eye on the map for nearby Pokestops.  Since we’re wading further into the unschooling pool these days I can easily see the learning in the game.  I know some of you like to hear those good ol’ words like reading, writing and arithmetic though so here you go:
They are reading the names of the Pokemon and their powers.

They are using the app to learn map skills to find nearby Pokestops or Gyms.

They are learning to convert miles from kilometers in order to know how far we need to walk to hatch an egg.  Also estimating distances.

They are counting and estimating the number of Pokemon they need to trade in to evolve or power up a Pokemon.

They are counting and estimating the number of pokeballs we need to have.

They are learning how best to take turns and negotiate time playing the app.

We are making Pokemon related origami.

So, no real writing involved I guess, but all of the above and probably other stuff I forgot are really great things to work on, all the while just having fun playing a game.


A new “school” year

It’s back to school time.  You can’t miss it!  Not much changes officially for us right now.  We are really digging into the life learning model of learning all the time.  We follow our interests which often leads to a real immersion in one subject or another for a while.  

Owen learned how to use money this summer because he wanted to buy things at the pool snack bar.  He’s pretty much got it down.  Not a worksheet in sight!

The boys and I both got really into The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra series on Amazon prime this summer.  We watched a ton of episodes and talked a lot about the ideas presented in the shows.  The ideas of spirituality presented were great for us while navigating the grief from our family’s losses.

We’ve been to a lot of different places this summer and maps and directions are always an interest for the boys.

Some friends have helped spark an interest in origami.  Simon created his own crab design last night.

We spent a lot of time looking at the trout at the aquarium the other day.  I came right home and requested some books from the library to learn more about their habits.

Things will change for us in a couple weeks.  I’ll begin working at Wauhatchie School on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Simon will be with me and Owen will go to his preschool those days.  It will be a good chance for us all to have some space from each other and spread out wings.

Looking forward to see where our interests take us this upcoming “school year”.  

Busy Summer

Wow…we have had a really fun summer.  We are so fortunate to have great friends and family help us visit really cool places.

We visited Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham in late June.  

On our way there the boys and I enjoyed a trip to the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  Really nice place with native animal exhibits.

The Museum of Life and Science in Durham is not to be missed.

We saw some great friends too!

After all that fun we had more to come in the mountains with Rick’s parents and a surprise visit from his childhood friend Jenny and her family.  Rafting and exploring together was great fun!

We headed back home for a week or so before leaving again for Florida for “Grandma’s Camp”!  Good times with cousins were had by all!

What a great couple of months! We also had some fun around town, with friends and in the pool.  We got into Pokemon Go while in Florida and have been enjoying it as a family.

We are so grateful for the experiences we had so far this summer.  It was a rough spring for our family with the loss of my Dad, Rick’s Great Aunt Nancy and our beloved dog Duke.  We certainly lived it up in honor of those we lost.

All the things!

I want to do (see above)!

One problem with homeschool for me is that there are so many things I want to do with the kids.  Every time I meet someone new they tell me about another great resource or idea and I want to try it, like right then.  But I already have a long list of things I really want to do right then too.

We have been quite busy since the holidays.  Co op started up.  

 We have met up with friends at the park on nice afternoons.  

We dissected owl pellets this week and went to Tellus Science Museum.   


We celebrated Owen turning 4!

We enjoyed some rare TN snow on the mountain with some friends.

We have been looking for new and interesting shows to watch on Netflix and Hulu.  You’ll notice some new links to YouTube channels on our video lessons page.

Check out Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube, Owen loves it and Simon gets hooked a bit too.

We’ve been learning about Egypt, gems and minerals, German parts of the body and more!

Still deschooling myself.

It’s been an interesting journey this last year and a half.  We took Simon out of one of the best schools in the state to homeschool.  Just who do I think I am, superwoman?  I’m sure some  of you have thought that over the past year and a half…heck I know my husband has!

There are certainly moments where I wonder if it was the right decision.  Usually those moments are tied to Simon’s lack of interest in something I think he “should” be interested in, or his lack of motivation at practicing some skill that he would be doing if he were in public school.  That is when I need to take a step back and look at all the things he has learned and reevaluate what value I place on the things he would normally be learning at this stage in a public school setting.

His writing has improved immensely, in fact he just willingly writes notes, lists, maps, labels and all sorts of other things now.  Do I sometimes think I should give him more worksheets to practice?  Yes, I still do…even though I shouldn’t because it’s really clear he can write whatever he needs to and people can read it.

His reading has improved.  Have I measured it?  No, but you can just see it.  He reads signs, magazines, websites, headings on tv shows and sports.  He reads recipes and packages while he’s helping in the kitchen.  He reads directions for games and science kits.  And yes, he even occasionally reads books.  It’s hard not to focus on the fact that he doesn’t read more books, but hey…how many books do I get to read as an adult vs. how many of those other things I mentioned do I read on a daily basis!?

He knows how to find out the information he wants to learn.  He can use a computer, tablet, iphone and yes, book to find out information if he wants to learn something.  If he can’t find it, he knows how to ask for help to find it.

There are so many other things he, no we, have learned this past year and a half.  I really truly enjoy learning with my boys and as long as I can keep that little voice from traditional school models out of my head hopefully we can all keep learning together for a long time.


Worst Blogger Ever

man…I really stink at blogging.  Once a month if I’m lucky.  I could throw all sorts of excuses out there but alas, it’s just not a big priority I guess.

We are about to kick off another semester of homeschooling.  We will be joining the Homeschoolians co-op again on Mondays.  I’ll be co-teaching the preK class and a Water Science class for the older kids.  I’m looking forward to teaching and I wish Simon was looking more forward to attending.  He’s just not that keen on the idea but hopefully he will enjoy getting together with friends again more regularly and be enthused!

We hope to gather with our Green Moms Homeschooling friends a bunch and develop some deeper bonds and routines with them.

We look forward to getting some winter gear on and going outside more despite colder temperatures.  We had a really warm early winter and were able to be outside a lot without much preparation.  I need to be less of a wimp and just get my long johns on and get out there!  The boys are rarely cold in any weather.

We will continue using Reading Eggs, Math Seeds, and Mystery Science online programs for curriculum and Life of Fred Books for Simon’s math work.

I look forward to seeing what other interests the boys come up with.  They got several science kits for Christmas so I expect we’ll be doing a lot of experiments.  My plan is also to read…a lot!  We slacked off on our daily quiet reading time towards the end of the semester and we need to get back on track with that for sure.

Wonderful Wednesday

Wednesday is often an easy-going day for us. We usually don’t have anywhere we have to be in the morning and allows us to get up and decide what inspires us that day.

This morning the boys played for a while and then we went on a walk.  It took quite a lot of convincing to get Owen ready to go but Simon and I remained calm and patient (which is rare for both of us so I am proud of us).

Owen spotted this Millipede crawling on the ground he thought it look like a tiger Millipede.  

We always enjoy looking at this maple tree turn colors in the fall it is in the yard in front of the St. Luke United Methodist Church.

We talked a little bit about how and why the colors change in the leaves. Owen’s class had been talking about it in preschool in more magical terms and I was hesitant to give him the scientific words just yet.

Next the boys did a little climbing in the tree that Simon first climbed when he was at parents day out at the church.  Yes he’s been a tree climber since he was 2 years old!  I watched them with a mixture of pride and sadness as I realized how big Simon is becoming.  Just his legs are taller than he was all together when he used to climb this little tree!  Owen was quite proud of himself as he often sees brother climbing limb to limb in all kinds of trees.  He was happy to have his own tree to climb successfully.

We had a little fun with the slow mo camera.  They were pretending to be birds, I don’t recall the names but they each had a particular species of course.

We spotted a little caterpillar hanging from the trees!

Big brother gave Owen a lift part of the way home!

It was a lovely morning and it’s been pretty peaceful the rest of the day too.  They have been playing, planning and building forts outside all afternoon.  Math can wait til a lull in the action!