Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do Something Day

Black Friday is upon us. The one day in America when folks of all religions, sexual orientations, class, race, gender, etc. bow down to the God Mammon. I've never taken part in the shopping frenzies of that day, partly because of a personal disdain towards the buy buy buy mentality, and partly because I'm afraid of my life getting cut short by a rabid shopper who wants to get inside the store at all costs. In thinking about alternatives to the obligatory shopping mall trip on Black Friday, I vaguely remembered the Buy Nothing Day. But that doesn't seem to be enough. great, so you did not buy anything. But what else did you do? Did you go to the park with your kids? Did you get together with friends for some coffee and catching up?
So my new mantra for Black Friday will be "Do Something (other than shopping)". Think about what's important in your life, and do something around that. Is it your children? Do something with them. Your significant other? Go on a picnic. Your community? Donate your time in a soup kitchen or prepare some Thanksgiving boxes to give to deserving families. Do something, anything. Just don't go the mall.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brave New World

Kindergarten is not want it used to be. Gone are the days of gentle focus on socialization and play. Now it's drill, drill, drill. Does your K aged child know his letters and numbers? Too bad, he now needs to be reading too. And don't assume that once they go home at the end of the day they will get to relax and at least play for a little bit. No, more often than not, they come home loaded with more worksheets and projects to finish.
Why am I harping on this right now? Well, because my husband has made it rather clear that he wants Jeremy to go to school next year. Homeschooling is starting to look like one big pipe dream. And I have a big problem with the amount of homework that his school may be sending home with him. Here's a great article about the issue:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03wwln-lede-t.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

So, what do you think, is homework in Kindergarten a good or bad thing?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is that you Fall?

It's been hellishly hot here this summer, so imagine my surprise when we stopped by the park at, gasp, noon, and it was actually pleasant. I about keeled over. We usually go to the park in the morning because it's way to hot to go after 11:00 am. But there was a nice breeze rustling the leaves today, the light of the sun is beginning to change, and the boys had a great time playing in the part. They were the only ones there, and at noon the surrounding neighborhood is so quiet that I just looked up at the trees and wistfully welcomed the Fall that is hopefully on its way.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Liftoff!

Our first day of homeschool was today and I'm not sure how I feel about it. We barely did anything! I read them a story and it was all I could do to keep them from running all over the place. Hopefully they will get used to the idea of circle time and actually start to sit down for it. After a few pages of the book, Bedtime with Frances, Jeremy finally seemed to be getting into it. I'm using the wonderful guide Peak with Books as the basis for our homeschooling. Here's what we did:

Read Bedtime with Frances
Looked at pictures of badgers online
Practical Activity: folding laundry

As you can see, it wasn't anything to write home about, but since Jeremy is only 4.5 my main goal is to create some wonderful rhymths and habits. If some learning does happen along the way at this point, it will be an added bonus.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We have rhythm!

Finally, I've gotten our days into the beginning stages of a nice rhythm. It's not perfect, but it's a far cry from the haphazard way we were living our days before. It helps tremendously that Liam no longer naps during the day. We get up at around 7:30 every day, and by 7:30 pm, the boys are both in bed and fast asleep.
Here's what our days look like so far:

7:30 Wake up and have breakfast
8:00-9:00 load of laundry and clearing of clutter
9:30-11:30 park time/or lesson time
12:30 lunch
1:00 storytime and quiet time
2:00 free play time
3:00 art time
5:00  dinner
6:00 bath time
7:00 bedtime story and milk
7:30 lights out

Now, we are following some elements of Waldorf in our homeschooling, such as a reliance on classical stories and fairy tales, establishing rhythms, etc. We're not purist by any means, because I am teaching my 4.5 year old some academics, but it's very light in nature. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Target $1 Homeschool Bargains

If you're interested in stocking up on homeschooling supplies, make sure to stop by Target in the next few days. They have an area near the entrance of the store that sells cheap $1 items, mostly for children. I stopped by two days ago and they had some wonderful items for homeschooling:

WORKBOOKS- While I don't believe in relying on workbooks too much, they are a nice addition and some children seem to love them. If you want to make that $1 go even further, make copies of the pages, that way you can reuse the workbooks indefinitely.

STEP STOOLS- Since I'm incorporating some Montessori methodology into my homeschooling, I've been on the lookout for some step stools. They help give children access to higher places and foster independence. There are made of plastic but are pretty sturdy and have rubber coated feet to prevent slipping. At $2.50 a pop I figured I needed to give them a try. I put them in the kids bathroom so they can reach the sink to brush their teeth and wash their hands.

FOAM COUNTING BLOCKS- These are small blocks, about 1/2 inch, so be careful if you little ones who still mouth things. They are great for teaching your kids to count or two classify by colors (they come in blue, green, red, and yellow).

DRESS UP HATS- I love toys that foster creative play and when I saw these hard plastic hats I knew they'd be a great addition to our toy repertoire. Liam got a yellow construction hard hat, and Jeremy settled on a red firefighter helmet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sandpaper letter, how I loathe thee

In the interest of saving money, I decided to make my own sandpaper letters. About two weeks ago I bought my supplies at Michaels. Total for all materials was about 18.00.  I used foam board instead of poster board because it's more durable.
First, I cut out the foam into 4X4 squares.

I then printed out the letters of the alphabet, cut them out, and traced them on backwards onto the back side of 100 grit sandpaper.
Then, I cut out the traced letters.
Finally I glued the sandpaper letters onto the appropriate foam squares (blue for consonants and pink for vowels).

It took some trial and error, and the letters themselves are not perfect  because I cut them out by hand, but if you don't mind giving up perfection for some savings, then I say go for it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Make up your minds Gods!

It was last Saturday and the Gods were smiling upon me. DH got out of work early (he works 6 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm, and no he doesn't get overtime.) So we decided to go out to ur local flea markets and see what we could find. First one was a bust. They had a nice solid wood sleigh bed with the nightstands for $500. But DH thinks our old bed, which he broke when we were just getting to know each other, is still good.
We had spent a good while at the second flea market and I was giving myself up for lost, since I had seen nothing to tickle my fancy. And then, just around the corner, was this.


DH asked how much they wanted for it and I just about keeled over. $50!!!!!! Quick, buy it, NOOOOOW! I couldn't believe my luck.
But alas, it was going to be shortlived. Sunday came around, and I woke up knowing it would be a great day. I could sit at my lovely table and drink my morning coffee. I decided to check an ebay auction that was ending that morning. It was for a used newchildmontessori curriculum worth around $175.00. There were about 9 minutes left and I was sure in my childlike innocence that I would win. I went about my day and completely forgot about it, that's how sure I was.
And then that afternoon, DH dropped the bomb. I had used his account to make the bid. I had LOST. Whhhhhhaaaaaat?
Some jerk came in at the last minute (literally) and outbid me by $1.50!
There was only one thing left to do. Sit at my new table and cry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Home Depot Kids Workshop

I fount out about this in January. It's a built it yourself workshop held at The Home Depot every first Saturday of the month. They have a different craft every month. The kids get a orange apron the first time they go, and then a pin with each project they complete. At the end, they also get a snack. My two boys love it and so does mommy because it's absolutely FREE! You can get more information on the workshops here.


Here are my kids getting reading to leave the house for the workshop this past Saturday:




And here they are having their snack at the end. This time they made a car display:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A rose by any other name.....

I'm admitting that I'm all messed up in the head. I always wondered why crazy people stop taking their pills if they are working.
Now I'm one of those crazy people. I've dealt with really bad panic attacks since I was in the seventh grade. After the birth of Liam, it got so bad within three days of giving birth to him that I had to go on Zoloft. It was working great at keeping my anxiety at bay, and on the plus side, it made me a really nice mom. No more fits of rage.
Fast foward to last October, when I ran out of the script. I figured I would wing it without the medication. And while the anxiety did not really come back, the ugly did. But I felt I needed to try to control my anger on my own. Because you have to be a really screwed up and bad mom if you can't be nice to your kids out of your own free volition right?
Well, it's been a few months, and I was doing so so, but there are days that are horrible and I wish I could just erase them. And yesterday was one of those days. Absolutely horrible.
So I'm going to pick up my pills today. It breaks my heart to admit that I have to take medication just to be a good mom, and that I'll probably have to do this the rest of my life.
I just wish I had the goodness in me to do it on my own.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homeschooling for the lazy mom?

So I've decided that I'll start homeschooling Jeremy later this year. Yeap. You read right. Now the question is, can a disorganized mom like me manage to homeschool, when I barely have everything else under control? Or am I once again biting off more than I can chew?
Well, the answer to that question remains to be seen, as I do not plan on starting until September. Which means I have plenty of time to get my act together.
Because I LOVE lists, I've gone ahead and made one listing the things I need to do before our homeschooling journey can begin:

1. Get the kids on a schedule.
2. Get myself into a groove with regards to housework. If the house is a mess I know homeschooling will be a disaster. Did someone say Flylady?
3. Decide on a homeschooling philosophy/curriculum.
4. Read up on said curriculum.
5. Buy homeschooling supplies.
6. DIVE IN!

Now, I have a leg up on number 3, since I'm pretty sure that I'll be doing a loose interpretation of a Montessori preschool along with some Waldorf elements thrown in for good measure. Here's my current reading list:

The Hurried Child by David Elkind.
Unplugged Play by Bobbi Conner.
Childhood and Society by Erik Erikson.
Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock.
Waldorf Education: A Family Guy by Pamela J. Fenner
The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World by Susan Linn

Any other books I should be reading?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Creamed Spinach A La Boston Market

In my quest to finally start eating healthier this year, I'm trying to add more vegetables to my diet. Spinach is one of those all around great vegetables, and I particularly love the creamed spinach from Boston Market. So I searched online for a "Boston Market" creamed spinach recipe. It seems I'm not the only one that loves it so much, because there are a plethora of copycat recipes out there. I tried the first one I found because I had all the ingredients on hand.
I have to say, it came out pretty darn close, though I did have to add some salt to it at the end.

here it is:

Boston Market Creamed Spinach III Recipe
Source: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/490/Boston_Market_Creamed_Spinach_59391.shtml

5 tablespoons butter OR margarine - divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half cream
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 (10 oz.) boxes frozen chopped spinach - thawed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 Tbls. butter. Stir flour and salt into pan until creamed together.

Slowly stir in cream, then stir in cream cheese; increase heat to medium.

Constantly whisk until mixture becomes thick and smooth; remove from heat; set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté onions and garlic in remaining butter until transparent.

Add spinach and water to pan; reduce heat to low; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

Stir prepared sauce and Parmesan into pan; stir until completely blended.