Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Standing at the edge looking in...

Today I took my sons to the neighborhood park. It's a nice little park with good equipment and I'm glad that it was built. However, I would much prefer little bits of woods left there. I would prefer a place where my sons can go and feel a part of nature-- if only a little bit. Instead, there is a small wooded patch next to the park that is owned by someone. So the city has dutifully put up a fence to clearly mark the border of where the kids should and shouldn't go. I resent it to my very core and I especially resented it today because I had to administer a spanking to my younger son because he finds the forest much more compelling than the play equipment. But it is somebody else's property and I told him he could not go there. My son, being who he is, decided to go there anyway. I went over the fence and dutifully removed him. I also told him he'd get a spanking if he went there again. And my son, being who he is and still wanting to go, headed right back to the woods, smiling with both hands over his fanny, and climbed through the fence. As promised, I crawled in after him and gave him the promised swat. Tears. Whining, the usual. And I felt terrible.
I did not feel terrible for the spanking, but I did feel terrible for having to tell him not to go in the first place. I feel sad that there are so few places for children just to go and explore. I guess there really weren’t that many places when I was growing up, but they could be found. Now even these sacred places have been made into neighborhoods and most remaining green spaces have fences around them. Now it is almost impossible to find unimproved spaces to play. Some parks have left forest for exploring, but even these have nice little paths running through them that scream, “don’t dare cross into the woods lest something terrible befall you.” So even then, it is limited and not without guilt for exploring too far. I cry for today’s children and their children who will most probably be even more cut off. There is a book called Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, which addresses this topic. It brings together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults (taken from the overview). I have skimmed it and found that it called to me and made many points that ring true for my children and myself. I’m going to get the new edition and read it cover to cover because it broke my heart to see my son standing at the edge of the woods and crying to go in. He is always asking to go to the forest and I want to make a point to get him and the rest of the family there more often. As a child, my encounters in the woods really did have a way of teaching me, entertaining me, and soothing my soul. I want that for my sons, my husband, and myself. Over the years, I have felt the deepest parts of me cry out for more contact with the trees, but the life that I lead does not take me there. It will require more effort, but in the long run, it will have its own rewards. Soon our family will be heading to the Shenandoah valley for a time of respite and fun and we all look forward to taking full advantage of it!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Yes, you can! Thinking it through...a post in progress...

Again my son opened his mouth and out came that phrase so easily slips out whenever he is challanged, "I can't do it". And just as easily, "Yes, you can", tumbled out of mine. I don't even think about it before it's there. And it's the right thing to say, isn't it? Of course I should encourage him and let him know I believe in him, especially when I know he's done it before-- even moments before. My desire is for him to feel confident in what he knows. Yet as soon as these words come out, I can see the veil come down and his jaw set firmly in opposition. From then on, all bets are off. Sadly, sometimes it is not long before he's off in his room crying and I'm fuming in some other part of the house.

As we struggle to define our homeschooling style, it's not always pretty. However, deep in my soul I know it will be worth it in the long run. It is more than being about whether this school is better than that school, or avoiding the pressures of unecessary testing. It is about relationship; it is about knowing there is always more than one way to go and about knowing that his destiny is in his own hands. And it is about really listening to each other.

Later, while I was running off the stress and thinking about every thing that makes up all the wonderous bits of my son's personality, I realized my mistake: it may not be what I'm saying, but what my little five year old son is hearing. You see, he loves to do things together...really everything. When I say "you can do it", my mind stresses the CAN. It is positive; it is empowering. What my son hears loudest is YOU. He hears YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN; just do it. What he wants to hear is LET'S DO IT TOGETHER, I'm not leaving you WE will work through it. And that is okay. He is five. There is plenty of time for him to do it on his own and one day he will. It may be as simple as what I say like "let's find the answer together", instead of something that makes him feel out there all alone. I saw a difference the very next day. But, sometimes it's just so darn hard to break old habits and before I know it, those words roll right out again: "YOU can do it."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reading is.. Fun [or] Mental....

Keona is quite proud of himself this week. He'll tell you: he read an entire book by himself. Currently we are using the Bob Books. We're just taking it one sound at a time and working through them by going on our letter/word hunts around the city and using the Bob Books. I had thought of buying some big curriculum, but I'm not convinced of the necessity, so we're going to try this for a while. For backup, I do have a handbook called Phonics Pathways but so far haven't needed it. We'll just keep plugging along and make a change if we find our progress is not what we would like it to be.

There is so much sparkle and glitz involved in T.V. and computer, that I really hesitate to get curriculums with a lot of razz-ma-tazz to them. I really don't want him to depend on being entertained every time he sits down to learn something.

Our math curriculum, Math U See, is pretty basic as well and so far it's working. We have bricks to count with and a book for written work. The basic idea in the Primar is to build it, write it, and then say it. So far it has been nothing but review. Keona's amazing preschool teacher really covered A LOT last year. In fact, I have decided to skip a few lessons rather than making him sit there doing things he's already mastered. Truthfully, my "schooly" side has a difficult time doing that. LOL However, I think I'll survive and Keona will have something to chew on.

Getting on the board...

So we had our second chess club meeting today. I have to hand it to the boys, they are doing well. Even Keona in his own unique style is catching on. Truthfully, he is more into the social aspect, but as evidenced in the pictures he finds a way to have fun. Hands down though, Parker is the most interested in actually playing the game.

This week we began outside with a review on our huge outdoor board and then came inside to work on naming and setting up the pieces and began with the pawn games. Next week we'll add the Knight and play knight-pawn games. It is a nice, gentle introduction to chess and it won't be long before the boys are ready to play actual games. Perhaps we'll be able to meet up with some of the other little chess groups that seem to be popping up in the homeschool community.... Ya never know!

I'm thinking this, too. Our little chess club should have a cool name....hmmmmm...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Staring the Dinosaurs Down....

This summer we twice visited the Virginia Living Museum to see the visiting Dinosaur exhibit. It was well worth the trip. If you are local and you haven't been, you should put it on your must do list. I can't say enough good things about this museum. Everything is well done. And while you're there, get a membership. You're gonna want to go back and two visits will pay for a membership for a family of 4.

First we got to stare down the large, life-like dinosaur models. AT first, this was overwhelming for Kalani. He only wanted to stay in the exhibit area for a short time, so he and I checked out some other stuff while dad and brother took their time. However, after we left, Kalani chatted about it claiming he wasn't scared at all and it was he who suggested we go back. By the second visit he couldn't get enough and now is very interested in dinosaurs! We saw the famous T-Rex and a Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Pachycephalosaurus (I just like to SAY that one!). They really were as real looking as I could imagine. The mechanical eyes moved and they seemed to look right at you; a little disconcerting when you are standing in front of the carnivores!

Check them out:


Deinonychus (the little ones)


After we watched the dinosaurs for a while, we decided to go to the museum’s live animal show. Another excellent choice. They brought out about 5 animals to tell us about. We got to touch them and learned cool stuff like prehistoric millipedes used to be about 3 feet long! They had one from South America that was about 6 inches long. That was cool. Then I heard something that made me really greatful to be alive NOW, not then. Cockroaches also used to be 3 feet long! Can you imagine? I nurse and unhealthy aversion to the ones we have now; I think I absolutely would die of fright with those! Anyway, it has to do with oxygen availability and spherical size. Truly on the way home, I was nursing a suspicion that I was being led down the garden path with this little factoid. However, upon further research, My husband found an article to back it up. Anyway, it was a great little show, not too long, and the boys were thrilled along with mom and dad. Kalani was quite proud to have touched both a snake and an alligator.

As if it all that wasn't enough, we decided to see what was going on in the cafe. We figured we'd be run out by price and bad choices. But, again we were pleasantly surprised. The prices, while not falling in the cheap catagory, could not be classed as a rip-off (as is the case at many of the other local museums) and as an extra bonus: the food was good. I am not yet a connoisseur of veggie burgers but in my attempt to eat better, I decided to try one. It was scrumptious. Really, I've got to find out where they get them. Yum, yum!

So there you have it; it was educational and fun. Even at its most crowded stage, I didn't feel like people were breathing down my neck at every exhibit. A nice trip and we look forward to many more!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Check Mate!

So today was the first day of chess club. We are using a program from Championship Chess that breaks everything down into easy bites for even the littlest players. We have several energetic boys, so we decided to tackle the Little bites in a BIG way. Today, we talked about the board and over the next 8 weeks or so, we'll be learning about how the pieces move around. By Christmas, we hope to be playing matches (albeit on regulation size boards). We talked about ranks, files, and how to tell what each square is named. Us mommies are having a pretty good time learning all the intricacies as well. We were quite pleased with ourselves when we figured out how to keep the ranks and files straight. We file alphabetically and rank by numbers. Is this actaully why they are called ranks and files? Whatever, I won't forget them now!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Have letters to travel....

Yes, my sons are becoming men of letters. Kalani is learning to recognize his letters...though he's not impressed so far and Keona is working on putting some of his into words. He's not impressed either, but somehow we are muddling through. So the other day we packed up our letters and hit the road to find some words and letters. Keona is working on the short "a" sound. Our first stop was the Shell station to get some GAS. The boys got out of the car and sat down in front of the pump and held up the letters. There was a little fun for the boys and some strange looks from other patrons, for sure. Cranks, couldn't they see that big learning was going on?

Anyway, we moved on to Mt. Trashmore where we found a slide for "s". S had a great time playing on the slide and then we found some SAP in a tree while we played T in the Tree. That was a game that evolved as we went and the boys had a great time with that one. Now we are mounting the photos in scrapbooks and doing lots of coloring, cutting, and pasting. We'll continue on this course for the next few weeks and see what turns out.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Five Alive

We were up early for the Jedi to get his long awaited light Sabers

He will now train to be a Jedi Knight


(We could show you pictures, but Blogger is not working-- AGAIN)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Daddy says good Night

Big Boy's Night Out

Tonight Keona is sleeping with his Nana and Papa because his brother has minor surgery tomorrow. He is quite a big boy now! Here are some videos to help him feel more at home.


Kalani made this movie!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The First Day of School

People keep asking, "When are you going to start school? When do the doors of Aloha Academy officially open?" I keep saying, "Oh, sometime after labor day. Sometime after K2's minor surgery. When that is done, we'll get started." It is a question that fellow homeschoolers ask because they are interested or they want to make sure they aren't the only ones who haven't or are wondering if they are the only ones that have. LOL Non-homeschoolers are curious, or want to make sure that my children aren't being worked too hard or too little. They may want of figure out when they should worry about my poor child and his "socialization". So tonight I sat down and began think about the first day: what should I do? My mind began to wander, as it often does, and I started to relive today. Then I realized: By golly! TODAY was our first day! It's done; WE HAVE BEGUN! Yep, this morning we woke up and began with a rousing light saber fight. Kalani worked on his letters with Reader Rabbit. We ate breakfast; we got dressed and made some chocolate chip cookies for our homeschool group that would be coming over later. While we did that, we discussed the meaning of dozen, worked on fractions...1/2, 1/3 and 1/4th and how they related to 1 cup. We successfully made three sheets and burned two. The idea for making these cookies came from the story we read the night before: The Doorbell Rang. A really fun story about sharing and division. Next we were off to the library where the boys picked out some books and we sat down and read one right there. Turnip Soup, a delightful story about a little boy who has to deal with an escaped Komodo dragon in his root cellar. We look forward to searching out a real one to go see. We also picked up a prize that I had won in a drawing. An envelope full of free admissions to local attractions and several free ice cream cones. After that we went home (frigtening, no socialization so far-- the boys did not seem to be withering away though) and had lunch. After lunch it was time for Kalani to rest. Keona had quiet time watching a Magic Schoolbus episode. After Kalani was asleep, Keona and I took the opportunity to work on a little math. The program we chose is Math U See. The first few lessons are mostly preschool review, so it was a breeze for Keona. Truthfully, I wasn't sure he recognized the numbers in their written form. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, in fact, he does. Next I vacuumed and the boys played as we awaited the opportunity to SOCIALIZE. Yes, our friends came over and the children played and played and played. Unfettered. Inside, outside, all through the house....and we served them cookies and shared our story. At 4:30 they all went home and thus ended our day. ... well, okay we read a couple more stories before bed. Now I can breathe easy and quit worrying about "the first day". How cool is that? Tomorrow, we are off to Selden Arcade to look at some art. An experiment on many levels!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last Beach Day? No WAY!!!!

We recently spent a relaxing day at the beach with friends and got some pictures of the boys enjoying what was quite possibly the last beach day....the way things go. Camille and I got some great pictures of the boys enjoying the water and she took the rare picture of me with the boys. I'm such a shutterbug myself, I rarely appear on the other side...which is okay by me. The real miracle of the photo of the boys with me is that everyone was looking up AND SMILING at the same time. Perfect! Cudos to Camille!

However, the boys need not fear that this is their last romp on the Virginia Beach shoreline. I had a thought the other day and realized what a fabulous resource the beach affords for any homeschool. Now, of course, besides nature study-- and there will be plenty of that at Aloha Academy--I thought it would provide a valuable resource for spicing up some of our more mundane lessons for letter and number recognition. What an excellent and natural chalkboard! So our first day will be to include a day at the beach for alphabet and number recognition. What a perfect way to "earn" our homeschool name!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Back at one of our favorite haunts....

We spent a delightful day at the Botanical Garden today. First we went to the butterfly garden and saw all kinds of butterflies. I was able to get some good shots of Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, and Zebra Swallowtails. I saw some others, but could not catch them. We also saw some Monarch caterpillars. Very cool. The other butterflies came in the form of four small boys flitting around the gardens playing Star Wars and climbing trees. They were just as delightful.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Over the Ocean Blue...

We went to Hampton the other day to meet friends for a Hampton Harbor Tour on the Miss Hampton II . We saw and osprey nest and spent time at the Jacques Cousteau Society. The boys had some great time together with their friend Spencer.

It was great fun with a few special surprises. On the way out to the Civil War Island of Fort Wool, we were accompanied by a small group of dolphins and treated to seeing a submarine under way.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

More of Summer's Bounty

I finally get to finish the post I started before Blogger in some kind of fit locked me out of my account. It took days to straighten it out. Anyway, I'm back and here are the rest of our garden pictures so far. We've enjoyed several meals of veggies from our garden. I especially like the color of these cosmic purple carrots; they are really beautiful-- but so far, the taste is not as sweet as orange. Tastewise, they get mixed reviews as evidenced on this discussion board on I-Village. The history seems all over the place, too. I'm going to try them again because I do like the color and I did not grow them under the best conditions-- oh, okay I planted them and ignored them until way too late. It was carrot chaos; nevertheless, I did get some! Next time, I'll do better! ; ) Despite my lack of gardening technique, we also got beets and broccoli.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Little Gooey Fun

Tonight we had a little fun making our own slime. If you want to be fancy, you can call it Non-newtonian Fluid. I think this is not the end of this little experiment around here. After all, you get to use cool words like fluid and vicosity, and ewhhhh! And laugh a good bit. We used Borax, distilled water, school glue, and a little food coloring.

Get it off!

Keona explains it....

Bad slime!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Escape Artists

Keona and his friend Rush discovered how to open the windows the other day; they also thought it be a cool way to exit. Of course, NOW they're telling me about it. Will I always be so lucky?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Swimming Lessons

Keona has been taking swim lessons and making some good progress. Here he is "racing" his classmates.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Voice of the Lobster

Lewis Carroll

"'TIS the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
'You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.'
As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark:
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Welcome to Camp Twister

We are here and fun is being had by all. Hello to Nana and Papa!!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

We LOVE our Hippie Patchwork Shorts!!!!

My friend brought these over the other day for my boys to try on. All I can say is cute, cute, cute! The boys really love them. Keona says, " I want to wear them all day," which is a high compliment. I want a pair! Want some? I can hook you up!

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