Friday, March 29, 2013

It builds character...

My boys got a first hand lesson in building character yesterday.

They actually got two.

Someone said something very unkind to me. And my feelings were hurt. That was the first lesson. They got an up close view of how your words and actions can hurt others. They saw mommy cry and be very upset. (I admit that I'm sensitive, so maybe it was a bigger lesson than it would have been with someone else.)

Next, they got to see me respond. I asked them how I should respond. Both of them said I should be mean back. They both thought that I should hurt the person that hurt me. And this is where I got to have a very good discussion with them about what that would accomplish.

Me: How do you feel when you are mean to someone?
Super J: bad.
Me: And, yet, you think my response should be mean. Just like the person was mean to me.
Super J: But they were mean to you! They hurt you.
Me: Yes, they did. But if I'm mean back then we are both wrong. If I treat them with kindness, then I will have nothing to feel bad about. But if I am mean to them, I am no better than they are. We would both feel bad. And I would rather go to bed tonight knowing that I was above that.

It was a tough lesson- for me at least! :)  But one that I'm glad I get to teach them. I know there are a lot of bullies and mean people out in the world. I would rather they get to see it with my guidance than getting a lesson from school.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The weather is thwarting my science

Super J, Tornado and I are trying to do an science experiment with seeds. We have been simulating an underground environment to watch seeds sprout.

We have used various kinds of seeds/ beans with the best results yielded from pumpkin seeds. See those beautiful sprouts?

Well, they should have gone into the ground long before now. But the weather in Georgia has decided it is possessed. Our temps should be in the mid to high 70's by now. We've had snow the last few days. We rarely get snow even in the dead of winter. So, now the roots are all tangled along the bottom. It makes for a very interesting research project. I just hope we can get them in the ground before it is too late. And maybe one day get some actual pumpkins out of them!
It has been really neat to watch them sprout and grow.
If you want to try this experiment, here are the directions:
*Soak seeds in water overnight. (or beans. As I said, we had great results with pumpkin seeds.)
*Place wet paper towels in a clear cup. You don't want soaking wet. That yields moldy seeds. Trust me.
*Place seeds between the paper towels and the cup. Hide them in the dark and watch them start to sprout after a few days. The amount of time to sprout depends on the seeds.
We are also doing lemon seeds, but they are sprouting at a very slow pace. I would love to have a lemon tree! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Getting Messy

Oh, the art of getting messy! It is so much fun. The problem is that it is just so, well, messy.

I think it is a hard internal fight to allow kids to get messy. I mean outside is fine! Just don't bring that craziness inside.

But it is such a beautiful learning experience. And when you homeschool, there aren't really that many other options for a flour covered kitchen or to get glitter in your hair. You have to do most of that at home.

I know it is easier to sit at a table with a neat work book and read about homemade crackers or how to make play dough or construct a volcano.

But your kids will learn more by doing. Our children need to get their hands in there! They need to have the mud squish between their little stubby toes. Life is not a workbook. Life is an experience. And in order to live it you need to experience it! Not just read about it.

And think of all that messy bonding that awaits!

Go forth and make a mess!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Get Away From Me!!

So, I'm starting to notice that we have been together a little too much. Has this happened to anyone else? We love each other dearly. And the two boys have always had very little in the way of sibling squabbles. But lately? It seems as if all of us are clamoring for a chance to get away from every one else. Including me.

I had never really thought about this before homeschooling. But now I'm trying to figure out ways to give every family member some space. The boys even sleep together. I think this 24/7 thing is just a bit too much. They are fighting more and just in general we are starting to get on each other's nerves.

I take breaks away from them during the day. Usually just for a couple of minutes. I think I may start trying that with them. I'm not quite sure how I would work that. But I'm thinking on it.

My husband, The Mad Scientist, and I are trying to separate them a little on the weekends, too. But that is hard, because we really value that time as family time.

They want to play/ learn together. They don't want to be away from each other. But sometimes they just can't stand each other any longer.

I'll let you know if I come up with any brilliant ideas.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Don't Forget!!!!!!

There is just a little over one week left to sign up for the Smarty Pants Exchange! I'm really hoping for some more entries! And some from farther off places! :)

We are really excited about it!! 

Quick review of the exchange:

You can sign up for as many packages as you would like to exchange!!

Email the following information:

Please include: Names and ages of the children that wish to participate
Number of packages you wish to exchange
Email address
Please list any household allergies in case the family
shipping your package would like to send food items.

Please join us for a fun way to learn about other places and for your children to connect with others!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

day trip (part two)

Once the tour started, we we guided around the zoo learning all kinds of interesting facts about the animals. Our first stop was the porcupines (I can't remember what specific kind, but they were the second largest rodent in the world!) and a beaver that hated water!


We saw all manor of animals! I was very surprised by the number of surrendered "pets" that were residents of the zoo. The darker colored timber wolf in the above picture was some one's idea of a dog. And when their "dog" ruined their furniture, they weren't happy with her. The guide mentioned several animals used to be pets. Sad.
At the last part of the tour, we got to hold and pet and get up close with a few animals! This is the point where my phone decided it would hold no more pictures! My husband has quite a few on his phone, but here are some that I was able to get. (As I was frantically trying to delete photos to get more!)

Our last bit of the tour was a big surprise to us! We were privileged to witness wolf training! Two young timber wolves were brought out and trained right in front of us! And, then much to our delight, we were welcomed up to pet and take pictures with them! I can not even begin to describe this!  The pictures do not do them justice- these wolves are huge beasts! They are so majestic and flawless. And, I couldn't believe this, but there was no fear! I was right with them- being licked in the face, my fingers being nibbled all while holding seven month old, Sugar Britches.  They were very interested in her, and even then I had no fear. They would lick her and sniff her and I just knew that none of us were ever in any danger at all. It was one of the neatest experiences of my life. We got to spend about 45 minutes total with the wolves.


And to end a just perfect day, we saw a winery on the way out. We stopped and picked up a couple of bottles of some local yumminess!
The only bad part? It ended all too soon! Next time we will stay for a weekend!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day trip

This past Sunday, our little family embarked on an adventure!  We drove about an hour and half North of us into the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains to a little town called Cleveland.

Our first stop was Babyland General. This is where all Cabbage Patch babies are born. I had never been before and while it was interesting, it was really just a giant gift shop. I can't wait to take Sugar Britches when she is older, though! It was a lot of fun to get to see a baby being "born" and to see all the different dolls. Many of the original dolls on display there are worth $15,000! Makes me wish I still had mine!
Our next stop was lunch. The kids wanted Sonic. They were vetoed. We can eat that junk at home! So, we chose a little country restaurant, Ma Gooch's. It was quite yummy! And the kids were very happy to eat there!
With full bellies, we headed on to the main adventure of the day: a behind the scenes tour of the North Georgia Zoo!!!  It was beyond amazing!!  The zoo was closed except for this tour. We were split into two groups of about 12 or so in a group. While we were waiting to get started, we all wandered around the petting pen area. It was mostly goats, but we also got to pet a zebra and some llamas and tortoises and other interesting animals!


And, of course, some family shots.

 All wearing our green!

Then the tour started. But I feel like this post is already picture heavy (and I didn't even put in near as many as I wanted to do!), so I will continue another day!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

self doubt

There has been nothing like homeschooling to make me doubt myself. Especially in the unschooling arena.

When you have known "school" your whole life, when you have been told what you have to do, what you have to learn, what society deems appropriate- it is hard to change or rebel against that.

When we first decided to homeschool, I recreated a classroom. It was GREAT! For about two days. It just wasn't exactly what we were looking for, I guess. I kept at it for awhile. It wasn't un-fun, but it certainly wasn't the greatest thing ever. It was very forced. But it did work. We were doing some learning and some playing.

And gradually we started shifting. I never set out to unschool. In fact, I was kind of against it for us. But the more pregnant I got and the more newborn baby-mommy I was, well, it just didn't work. And we slowly started to slide towards interest-based learning. Oh, happy mistake!

At first I felt pretty guilty about it. But then it just became so darn interesting! We were learning on our own! Whatever we felt like looking up that day was what we looked up! Our weeks were made up of mostly field trips. We became very hands on learners!

We still aren't totally unschoolers and I'm not sure we ever will be. I still feel a very strong tug from society about what is appropriate for my children to learn. I still worry that on paper they are very different from their peers. And society makes that paper, not me. So, the paper is skewed towards public school kids. If the paper was all about science, my kids would blow the top off of it. But public school kids get science once a week, if they are lucky. If it were geared toward math, we wouldn't be at the top of the paper. My son certainly wouldn't be able to do 30 addition/ subtraction problems in one minute. I would never give him a worksheet and ask him to do that. It gives me anxiety and I'm an adult. I can't imagine what that does to a first grader.

We still do a little "school work". And I'm okay with that. I have a lot of doubt that we are doing the right thing. But isn't a lot of parenting like that? At the end of the day we just jump with a leap of faith and hope that we land on stable ground.

Homeschooling has been the biggest learning experience of my life! Every thing I believed in not so long ago has changed. The more research I do, the more I know that homeschooling is right for us. And our reasons "why" keep changing. What started out as a way to help my special needs son has grown into a lifestyle. A lifestyle that I can't imagine being without. Our home is such a different place now. Sure, there are down sides. But it is overwhelmingly one of the best decisions we have ever made for our family.

Monday, March 18, 2013

To catch a leprechaun

 I've seen many leprechaun traps, but most recently I saw it over at Creekside Learning. The boys and I decided to try to catch us a wee little leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day. They were very, very, very excited at the prospect of having our very own leprechaun to catch and release.
Painting some pennies gold to try to trick the leprechaun.
We covered a shoe box with green construction paper and added some fun things as "bait". Then we put it by the front door as we went to bed.
The boys awoke with much excitement on St. Patrick's Day! They were very nervous to check the box to see if we had a little green leprechaun. But, alas, we did not. He left a note saying that we couldn't catch him, but he did leave some yummy chocolate gold coins for the boys... and a LOT of mischief! Toys were on the ceiling fan, chairs were on tables and there was even green pee in the potty!!  (The boys loved that!) He took our shamrock decorations off our year-round-tree and hung them all over the house!
We had quite a fun time with this! And that little Peevish McMurphy... well, we will try again next year!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

a life lesson disguised as science

Lately, we have had a couple of experiments that didn't go exactly as planned. Our dried beans and lemon seeds molded instead of sprouted. Our homemade sidewalk chalk turned out more like play dough than chalk. Things of this nature.

It has given me a chance to talk with my boys about this happening in life. Our best laid plans are often changed due to unforeseen circumstances. It might rain on your outdoor wedding. Or maybe the birthday cake, that you worked so hard to complete, was knocked off the table. Or maybe your beans molded.

Our lesson isn't in the failed experiment. It is in what we do with that "failure". We learn from it. We try to see the sunshine in it. Just as in life. Things go wrong all the time! ALL the time! But if we are constantly looking at what goes wrong, we will never learn from it and see all the things that go right. We adjust and try again.

One of my favorite quotes:

"I didn't fail the test. I just found 100 ways to do it wrong." Ben Franklin

Tomorrow we try again.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The World-Wide Smarty Pants Homeschool Exchange!!!

I am so excited to introduce The World-Wide Smarty Pants Homeschool Exchange!!!

Our little family had the brilliant idea to set up a group exchange open to anyone in the world as a way to learn more about other locations AND to meet some new friends! Interested? Keep reading to learn more!

The idea is that you will be paired with someone in another part of the country or even another part of the world from you! Your family will put together a fun learning package about your area and you will send it off to your partner! In the meantime, a package will be prepared and sent to you! Super fun, right??

*This is open to anyone in the world. It is geared toward homeschoolers, but all are welcome!!  (Homeschoolers are cool and welcoming like that!)

*Packages should contain items that will help the recipient learn more about your area- in a fun way!

*Sign up by the end of March. I will send out your partner information the first of April. Ship your package(s) by the end of April. (You may sign up for more than one package exchange.)

Email me:
               Please include: Names and ages of the children that wish to participate
                                        Number of packages you wish to exchange
                                        Email address
                                       Please list any household allergies in case the family
                                      shipping your package would like to send food items.

I'm not sure if the kids are more excited or I am! We really hope to have a lot of participation, so that this will spread all over the world!

(I will post updates on our facebook page. Feel free to keep up to date over there:!/SweetTHomeschool)

Feel free to contact me with any questions!!  Happy homeschooling!!

Something in the works!

The boys and I are working on a project. A world wide project. I'm super excited! (They are, too!)  I can't wait to share with y'all! I really hope this is going to turn out the way we envision!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

you learn something new every day!

I have to say that one of my favorite homeschooling perks is the learning! And I don't mean the kids! I get to learn SO many things! Did you know that an armadillo can jump THREE feet in the air??? Or that a leather back sea turtle can grow to nine feet long? I get to learn all kinds of things about our world. And to remember all that I've forgotten. And I get to do it with some of my favorite people!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Their eyes

The boys, especially Super J, have been getting behind the camera a lot lately. This is some of their shots from our day today. I love seeing the day through their eyes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Ask a question; get a science experiment

Tornado asked me how to make purple.  This was his answer.

Man, I love homeschool!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sometimes you just have to scrap all your plans

I had planned for yesterday to be mostly a seat work kind of day. Well, not really. But I had planned for us to do a decent amount of seat work, which we don't do that often. (For instance, our math lesson on Monday was a trip to the Farmer's Market.)

But, oh, that sunshine! For a few brief hours, it was Spring!!  I don't mean a warm winter day. It was truly Spring!!  You could feel it, smell it, hear it. And, well, I just couldn't waste a day like this!

So, we went outside! We did some work on excavating our Mammoth!

We caught some bugs. (Pic courtesy of Super J.)

Worked on an Easter craft: a wreath for the front door.

Soaked side walk chalk in water to feel the difference in drawing with wet and dry chalk.
Tornado drew me a heart.

Played hopscotch after drawing with our chalk.
Sometimes you just have to scrap all your plans and make new ones!