Thursday, February 12, 2009


We now have the kids writing in their own blogs as well. This is very touch and go at the moment, but it's part of their writing skills. We are working on what exactly to write on the blogs at the moment, I want to leave them as much freedom as possible, but I also want them to write how they feel about things. So far they have been very general with their entries. Last night I was able to get Auna to write a bit more on how she felt about the episode of Penn and Teller that we had watched that struck her the most. So we are getting to that point little by little.
I tried to explain to them that I did not just want an hour by hour recall of their day, but that I wanted to hear about what they had learned and what they enjoyed or disliked every day.
It does help me too. For instance they have been great about just getting to work and getting everything done throughout the week, and while this makes me very happy, I've also learned that they find it extremely boring. Now there is not much I can do about them being bored doing homework sadly because they definitely have to get it done. But it does make me think about what I can add to their schooling that will make it more interesting and fun.
So far we have done a lot of things that they would not have done at school, but we are missing a few things. Some experiments that we talked about but haven't gotten a chance to accomplish quite yet (lemon batteries) for instance. I also was not able to get the citric acid to make the bath bombs with Auna.
During the summer this will all get a lot easier since we will be able to get out of the house and do a lot more fun things. I think we are all getting a bit of cabin fever as well which doesn't make any of this any easier.
How do you keep older kids entertained through school? I don't think there really is any way. I remember being bored myself getting homework done, but it just needed to get done no matter what. We are not ready to do complete unschooling as we want the kids to be able to take notes and do homework later on when they get to college. So I guess they will just have to suck it up, just like most of us did.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Garfield Park Conservatory

Our field trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory was a lot of fun. I believe I enjoyed it as much as the kids did, if not more. The Conservatory in honor of Valentine's Day, was showing all of the different "sweet" plants that they grow there. We also had taste stations where we got to taste all the delicious things that these plants give us.
For instance we got to taste candied ginger, vanilla jelly beans (I love the vanilla plant!), non processed sugar, agave juice, dried fruits, and so much more. It was quite a treat, but by the end of the tour I felt as though a sugar cube explosion had just happened in my mouth.
We did decide that when we move to California we will do our best to have a vanilla plant, and some agave plants. We are also switching from sugar to agave nectar as our sweetener as it simply tastes better and is supposed to also be more beneficial for your health. It is low calories, non processed as it is naturally sweet, and has a lowest glicemic index than sugar itself. But again, it is simply yummy!
We did have a surprise tasting chocolate beans, before they were sweetened. Those are definitely not very good. We were expecting something bitter, but not quite as bitter as what we got. We ate one, but then they were giving them out again at several other stations and it was just too much for us.

As we were leaving we decided to go look in the gift shop for a plant to bring home. We are horrible gardeners altogether but do enjoy having plants in the house. We did find two fat plants, that we think we might be able to keep alive. One was an aloe plant, which we wanted to have anyways in the house as they can be quite useful, and the other we haven't found yet. It might be a delosperma algoense, but I might be entirely wrong.

The rest of the day wasn't quite as much fun, as we cleaned the house entirely in order to be ready for the board game play date that we have today. I haven't heard from anyone though, so I'm not even sure that anyone will show up. Nevertheless the house needed to be cleaned and we did a pretty good job of it, With everyone in on it, it also did not take as long as I was expecting it to.

All in all a very good day, and the kids started their blogs as well, so that will be interesting to see.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Things have been doing amazingly well with the new schedule. I'm actually very surprised at the way the kids have stepped up to the plate.
We've literally gone from complete un-schooling to having them do homework everyday, and getting lessons, and having to follow a schedule and they have been incredibly good about the whole thing.
Going into this month I was expecting to hear complaint after complaint, and to have to fight my way through every single one of the lessons. Not so! The kids just took up everything and have been going to work like crazy.

All the experts who say that kids thrive on having a schedule and knowing what is expected of them have so far, in our family been proven true. And this doesn't mean that the kids are becoming drones or anything like that, quite the contrary actually. They are going up and above everything that we give them, really striving to learn and do the best they can do. I am simply overjoyed and amazed at their dedication.

This really got through to me this past week-end, when we let the schedule go a little bit (The kids don't really get a week-end, they get a few days off here and there instead as needed). Well on Saturday we told them not to worry about getting up early and getting to work, that they could have the morning to themselves and that we would get to work in the afternoon.
Around 2pm I told them to come to the study room so I could go through grammar with them real quick and then they would have been done with the week. It seemed as though all hell broke loose right then and there. There was complaining, completely negative attitude, and unwillingness to work at all. We did get through it later on, but it took about an hour before they would even start working.
On the other side, on days were we start school right at 9am like we had planned, and go through the day with the schedule we had set, sometimes going over time and just keeping on working much longer than we had planned on, the kids are happy, eager, and have no issues whatsoever with doing the work. Again... I'm amazed!

So this is really good news for us. We now know that we can push the kids as much as we wanted to, and that they will be perfectly fine following our lead, just as long as we keep up with a set schedule.

We only have two more lessons left, which we will go over this week-end. Ecosystems and Classification. Those should be fairly easy. We are also going to the Conservatory this week-end and they will be able to learn more there. I love this month's Conservatory tours, as they are showing us all the sweet plants that are at the Conservatory, and what kind of tasty treats they give us all in honor of Valentine's day. I'm sure the kids will enjoy being able to taste all of the different fruits and concoctions.

Then on Sunday we have that playdate with new kids, so hopefully that will go over well. I'm sure it will, but it is a bit nerve wracking to think of a whole bunch of kids coming over that we do not know. Luckily the parents will be there too, so we should be fine.