Friday, October 28th, 2016
Here we go! Homeschool fun out and about.
I’ve recently dubbed my daughter and myself, The Go Girls, as we have been just getting up and going for all kinds of activities lately.
Most of you know that we homeschool though I’d kind of lump us into the unschool category, which I prefer to call FUNschool. Our lives are about learning through fun activities. And you know what? It works.
She is learning to read, spell, and write by texting on her iPod and playing Words with Friends. We read books as well but there’s no pulling teeth with all of these fun alternatives. We learn math with cooking, board games, and simply talking about numbers out loud so she can see how to manipulate them to get the answers to questions.
When we have longer car rides to activities, it’s a ripe time for conversing about everything from zombies to politics (maybe that was the same conversation).
Kamea is full of questions every single day. Being able to answer them all in the moment, or help her find the information when I don’t know the answer, is a blessing.
Time to go global.
I want to take learning to a global level in the near future.
I was recently inspired by the book Global Student, which has my brain’s gears thinking about living abroad for extended periods of time to immerse ourselves in other cultures, learn language and show Kamea the world. (This book is not just for homeschoolers.)
From Amazon.com about the book
In 2005, Maya Frost and her husband sold everything and left their suburban American lifestyle behind in order to have an adventure abroad. The tricky part: they had to shepherd their four teenage daughters through high school and into college. This hilarious and conspiratorial how-to handbook describes the affordable, accessible, and stunningly advantageous options they stumbled upon that any American student can leverage to get an outrageously relevant global education.
Ready to ditch the drama of the traditional hypercompetitive SAT/AP/GPA path? Meet the bold American students who are catapulting into the global economy at twenty with a red-hot college diploma, sizzling 21st-century skills, a blazing sense of direction–and no debt.
• the one thing preventing your student from blasting forward
• why Advanced Placement isn’t so advanced
• why international programs fail to provide a truly global education
• the most critical time for your student to study abroad
• the best exchange program in the world ($3,000 or less per year)
• the strategic way to fast-forward through high school
• how to maximize a family sabbatical
• how to live the life of your dreams abroad–and save thousands for college
I always knew we’d travel, in some way, someday, to other parts of the world.
Upon completion of Global Student, it easily clicked as to how we would actually do it.
In 2018, we’ll sell some stuff, put the rest in storage, pack some suitcases and take off. I’m only in the very beginning of researching this but we’re considering south of France (and other parts of Europe), the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and/or Costa Rica. Probably all of them eventually.
For now… here’s our world in Arizona. These are some things we’ve been doing to have fun and learn at the same time.
The various parks offer homeschool classes and family activities that are loaded with hands-on learning.
Kamea is feeding a sweet and hungry tortoise some prickly pear.
Watch your fingers – feeding a tortoise.
I’ve always thought snakes were cool and witnessing this king snake eat a dead rat was fascinating.
Rat was dead prior to feeding.
We also saw a rattlesnake have her lunch, too, which was epic.
We like jumping at an indoor trampoline park. Great exercise and ridiculously fun.
Time to jump!
Kamea is enjoying a Lego Engineering class where she built a battery-operated car.
Kamea in Lego Engineering class.
We celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Phoenix which was quite the event. Now that I’ve had a taste of this locally, I can’t wait to visit Oaxaca to witness it there someday.
Dancing along with the others. #Diadelosmuertos
I’m grateful Kamea can experience some culture like this in Arizona. She sat at a table filled with Spanish-speaking kids, learning and having fun.
Art with other kids at Dia de los Muertos.
We visited a pumpkin patch which was filled with activities and fun including a train ride, hay ride, games, animals, and horse rides.
Hmmmm which one?
Even though I’ve been in Arizona over a decade, I’m still not used to some holidays here. Seeing the cactus in the backdrop is
Horse riding time
Kamea wanted to ride the horse so badly! When I got to the part where I could choose the non-mandatory helmet, I was struck with protecting my child’s brain in the event of a fall or saving her from potentially getting lice with this community-helmet (ewww). Obviously we went with the helmet but next time I’m bringing her own.
Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
A day with my kiddo. Homeschooling with unschooling.
My daughter is five years old, and on this day of homeschooling, we did mostly “unschooling” (basically teaching through life experiences instead of having a set curriculum).
Here is a list of things we did in one day:
- Electric cars – we talked about electric cars as we walked by them at Whole Foods in the parking lot. The discussion was why they can be important, how they work, and benefits to drivers of electric cars.
- Barrett Jackson Auto Show – this is an annual event in Scottsdale and when it’s here we frequently drive by it, which brought it up for discussion. On this day we discussed what it was, why, and antique cars.
- Colony Collapse Disorder – After seeing a bumble bee on a reusable shopping bag we discussed colony collapse disorder which involved what it is, theories about why it’s happening, and what we might do to help.
- Reading – She read words on signs at Whole Foods.
- Omega Fatty Acids – I’ve been diving deep into learning about omega fatty acids. While reading about them, Kamea asked me to tell her about them. So, we talked about the differences in them (n-6 vs n-3), their importance and health implications, and what foods have which.
- Physical movement – We climbed our stairs for 15 minutes, up and down.
- Rebounding – (more physical movement) rebounding on the Bellicon rebounder is a daily event when the TV is on. Bellicon is the BEST. (We get a lot of movement daily since we threw our couch away)
- Reading – She read a beginner book to me and did a math worksheet (we wouldn’t usually use a math worksheet with unschooling, but on occasion I like to check in with what she knows.
- Games (to learn math) – We played Yahtzee Jr, Monopoly Jr., and Play Nine where she practiced math without realizing it. Now, that’s unschooling.
- Art – She did a lot of art (that’s daily). She loves painting, drawing, stamps, and this DohVinci is a new fascination.
- Dolls – She played dolls with Greg, where used the opportunity to teach while playing.
That’s not all we did but that’s off the top of my head.
Oh: Here’s a great buy: I recently bought these refrigerator magnets
to make reading and sentence formation way more fun than worksheets.
Refrigerator magnets for homeschooling.
Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
As a mom who doesn’t give her kid candy unless it’s dark chocolate, Halloween is a tricky situation (pun intended)… until now.
To tell you the truth, we have a lot of things we do to celebrate Halloween and all without the traditional trick-or-treating.
For starters, we begin the celebrating with decorations at the beginning of October. This includes wall clings, scary music, carving jack-o-lanters, hanging skeletons from the ceiling, and more. This starts at the beginning of October to ensure a healthy dose of Halloween-ness.
Halloween is a whole month celebration for us.
Kamea painting a small pumpkin for decoration.
When the actual day of Halloween arrives, we have a Halloween Hunt where we hide dark chocolates and little trinkets, toys, stickers, etc around the house (or where ever we are).
Another thing we often do is travel during this time to make it extra special… with costumes, of course.
Travel to Flagstaff, AZ. A spooky town.
What kid wouldn’t want to go to DISNEYLAND for Halloween?
16 months old, as a fairy while traveling to Sedona, AZ for Halloween.
WEAR COSTUMES MANY TIMES!
We don our costumes many times(!) during the weeks before Halloween. Myself included.
I wear this costume pretty much every year.
Halloween Headbands are awesome.
We check out the crazy Halloween stores that pop up every year. Sometimes we go more than once. #FieldTrip
Trying on a witch hat. “I’ll get you my pretty…”
We go to Halloween parties… like this one at her Karate Dojo.
Halloween Party with a light show and dancing.
MONEY FOR CANDY!
I remember growing up, my mom gave us money for the candy we collected trick-or-treating, which we always preferred over eating the candy. That’s another idea.
A walk down memory lane with Kamea’s first Halloween.
This was Kamea’s first Halloween costume. She was a Chipotle Burrito.
4 months old Kamea as a burrito: Halloween
We swaddled her in an organic blanket, first, and you can see the rest. Foil. Organic lettuce. I actually thought she’d hate it because she’s not big on the swaddle thing, but she was a real trooper in her costume as Greg took photos.
Halloween as a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT! From Mothering.com…
I loved candy when I was a kid, but when I became a mother, I worried about my kids eating too much of the stuff. Still, I’ve never banned it from our home. Now, when my children come home on Halloween night, examine their candy, and go to bed without asking to eat a single piece, it’s not because I’ve forbidden it. It’s because they have better ideas about what
to do with it.
It began with a simple question three years ago, when I was overwhelmed by our collection of Halloween candy. An afternoon with too-generous coworkers, a church Trunk-or-Treat (i.e., collecting candy at every car in a full parking lot), and a subsequent trick-or-treating expedition up our street had provided my four-year-old princess and two-year-old cowboy with mountains of candy. But since the candies had been the gifts of kind friends, and of elderly neighbors on fixed incomes, I didn’t want to throw them all away. Instead, I decided to dole them out one piece at a time. Handing out pieces after lunch was painful—the bowl loomed enormous atop my fridge, and I knew that at this rate we’d be eating candy for months.
Then, as my daughter Katherine poured out a box of Nerds, she asked the life-changing question:
“What would happen if I put these in water?”
I almost missed the moment. I was cleaning up the lunch dishes, and didn’t want to get out another one. Besides, the experiment sounded messy and wasteful (even though I’d just been agonizing about how to get rid of the stuff). I brushed her question aside, hoping she’d forget it. Instead, she asked again. I got her a white, unspillable mug, filled it with water, and set it down in front of her. She poured in her strawberry Nerds, examined them, stirred them into something the color of raspberry lemonade, and examined the cup again. Then I dumped
it down the sink.
That was our first candy experiment.
Now, that’s a good idea for candy.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN SEASON!
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Hiking for more movement.
In spite of going to the gym for an hour a day, most days, I feel like my life is missing more movement. But, how could that be? I go to the gym almost daily. Surely that’s adequate.
Or, is it?
I took a look at our lives recently and realized there’s just too much sitting… whether it’s eating food at the table, working on computers, playing video games, watching TV, or reading, I had to admit that we’re members of the species homo sedentarius.
Sitting this much just doesn’t feel right. And research says that “sitting is the new smoking,” meaning deadly… even for people who exercise daily! Yikes.
So, on a whim I suggested to Greg that we get rid of our couch, which would make us move more. It was just an idea that made sense to me.
He wasn’t buying it. I mean, who doesn’t have a couch?
Well! Turns out, I’m not the only one to think about this. Apparently there is a movement (pun intended) known as “furniture-free” and I can’t help but be intrigued. There’s even experts on the topic. When Greg heard Katy Bowman, ummm, an expert, he realized it wasn’t just a crazy idea of mine – people are doing this.
Long story short, we got rid of our couch. (Gasp!)
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Saturday, April 25th, 2015
Painting our Pinterest inspired art project.
More often than not I tune out the moms gushing about Pinterest inspiring their kiddos birthday parties, home decorations, or art projects. It’s just too much for me. I mean, who has time for that? Surfing Pinterest, getting supplies, and then making all of those projects? Good grief.
Well, there’s a first time for everything I guess.
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Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Our “project table” (from IKEA – it has a leaf not shown – so it gets even bigger).
Today, I was inspired to share some of the things I do with my four year old daughter. Our living space isn’t huge but we make the best with what we have. Perhaps, if I didn’t have extra shelves filled with pots and pans taking up space, we’d have more, but that’s not going to happen. I need my pots.
So, here are the things we did today.
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Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
I keep these in the car for enhancing foods I eat at restaurants.
We had a very busy day so I thought I would share how we sometimes eat when we have a full schedule and we’re on the go. The majority of our meals are all made from scratch three times a day, and almost always eaten at home. However, sometimes I need a bit of help in the kitchen so there are few organic premade items that I buy from the grocery store (jars of organic tomatoes as they’re often more delicious than fresh tomatoes depending on the season, organic pasta sauce – with no sugar added, snack bars, gluten free crackers, sardines, smoked wild caught sockeye salmon, etc). And, sometimes we eat at a couple of carefully chosen restaurants.
Here was our schedule on this busy day…
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Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
I’m not much of a social butterfly, though I pretend to be one sometimes (because deep down I wish I were more extroverted). But I’m a mom now, and, well, Kamea needs more human interaction than just from her parents, right? Add homeschooling to the equation and the pressure increases to expose her to people and situations so she doesn’t grow up to be a hermit.
Therefore, the hunt to do more with others began for us.
Kamea learning science. Homeschool.
To start, it seemed like a good idea to enroll Kamea is various classes where she could learn skills, enjoy herself, experience new activities, and meet other kiddos. I put her in classes like music, gymnastics, dance, swim, etc, but I learned that in those structured environments it’s kind of difficult to really meet and get to know the other kids. Not to mention it’s hard to strike up a conversation with other parents who usually have their noses in their smart phones. Err… not that I would ever do this myself.
So, I did what I always do when I’m trying to figure something out… I went to the internet. It works for most things, including introducing me to my husband years ago (thanks, eharmony!), so why not see if I can learn how to make more friends for us with it?
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Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
We recently went on a two week trip to Guadalajara, Mexico where Kamea received her first stamp for her passport. :)
One of the reasons we are excited to homeschool Kamea is that we love to travel, and this offers both flexibility in our schedule as well as a rich education for her. As part of Kamea’s homeschooling (she’s 3.75 as of this writing) we have a native Spanish-speaking woman come over weekly to play with Kamea, while speaking primarily Spanish. It’s a way for Kamea to get exposed to another language but not in a typical classroom setting. We started this before she was two and she learned to say “rojo” before “red” (except she pronounced it “hoho”). So, going to Guadalajara was a great way to build upon those lessons.
Guadalajara, Mexico and six things I love about it.
Sunrise (and Venus) in Guadalajara, Mexico
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No, it’s not anytime real soon – so don’t get too excited (although I must admit I’m very excited at the idea of it in the future!). However, here are some things I’m researching to get prepared.
1) Having the birth at home with a midwife
I was introduced to this idea after reading a phenomenal book by John Robbins, Reclaiming Our Health (I highly recommend this book, it’ll blow you away). Since then, I saw The Business of Being Born (also available through Netflix) and my resolve intensified greatly to give birth at home (or in the very least by using a birth center).
2) Insurance doesn’t cover maternity
WTF? This is something I didn’t know until recently. The good news is that having a home birth is supposed to be less expensive than a hospital.
Last year I saw a Penn & Teller: Bullshit show (it aired on Showtime, but I watched it online. It appears to have been taken down though). Their premiere episode, Circumcision, was a fascinating, yet comical at times, investigation into the controversial medical procedure that gets people asking, “to snip or not to snip?” It might not be so crazy to say “no” to this procedure anymore. Thus, the days of a boy feeling weird in the locker room are probably not going to be much of an issue in the future, if people continue to elect not to have the procedure done to their sons.
4) To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate
I saw an episode of Larry King Live with Jennifer McCarthy and she talked about her concern over the fact that in the recent years we’ve added so many new vaccinations and the speed to which we schedule them could be extremely harmful, with the possibility of being linked to autism.
5) Homeschooling – A Smart Microtrend
Homeschooling has become a microtrend in itself (just like veganism). It’s exciting to see this option gaining popularity with people taking their children’s education into their own hands to make it the best possible. In a time when… 1) more people are working from home, 2) amazing technology like the Internet makes this easy to do, and 3) families are growing tired of our shitty educational system…this is no longer a “fringe” lifestyle.
In fact, I was amazed a few months back, while teaching a Raw food class, when the topic came up and I had a handful of Scottsdale moms (all very normal, well-to-do ladies) who homeschool their kids – and they didn’t even know each other! I say “Scottsdale Moms” and describe them as such, because there was a time when homeschooling was associated with either bible-thumpers or granola-backpacking-barefoot-tree-huggers. On the contrary, these women, and their families, are far from that.
As far as our teaching skills…well, my man is wicked smart with an MBA from Wharton (he’s brilliant), a mind like a steel-trap (he remembers everything he reads and hears), and he has the patience of a monk (he’s going to be such a good dad). Me? Well, I’m college educated myself (University of Michigan), I’m resourceful and well-versed in many subjects, I’m super fun, I have the time to dedicate, and I can make a mean-green-smoothie! We feel like we’ll do a world of good for our kids if we homeschool.
6) Breastfeeding – I know I’ll do it…but for how long?
It’s my understanding that some women in the United States do this for the first 6-12 months typically. Yet, in other parts of the world, they breastfeed for at least a few years.
Check out this NEW study suggesting that breastfeeding is associated with increased intelligence!
7) The Diet!
Of course, my children will be living a High-Raw-All-Vegan lifestyle. The concern can be with letting other people babysit (family, friends). I’ve experienced, first hand, people making food for me, and thinking it follows along with my lifestyle, only to find out there was an ingredient included which wasn’t vegan. Oops.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes because, although some of the practices mentioned in this post can seem foreign to many, I can’t help but think that they feel very natural to me. I love what Gandhi said, Be the change you wish to see in the world.