Distraction…

Things have been slow here at Chansen Academy for the last few months.  It’s been nearly a month since I posted anything on this blog…  🙁  I even have a couple of posts that are nearly done that have just been sitting…  In July and August, between the heat and early pregnancy malaise, my motivation level was pretty low.  So we were reading books, playing outside, and enjoying summer.

I started September with the best of intentions, but as the month progressed, I have been encountering challenges with distraction…  I know I want to homeschool my kids, but I still don’t have a clear vision of what I want that to look like.  How to make our life work financially while we homeschool also seems to be a nagging question.  Over the last few weeks, we have had several visitors, as well as cut-backs at Mic’s job and the possibility of going back to a full-time position for me.  This sort of distraction and uncertainty throws me for a loop and I lose focus and direction…  Fortunately, since the kids are young, this doesn’t negatively impact their education.  However, the time will come that losing focus could be disastrous.  How will I learn to stay on track?  I think for me the key will be visualizing the ‘big picture’ and keeping it in mind, despite the challenges that WILL arise.  There will always be a myriad of things to draw us away from our plans.  Clear, well-defined goals that we really want to achieve will help us stay on track.

So…  now to define those goals…  Mic and I have spent a fair amount of time discussing that lately.  We have decided that we really want to have property where the kids can roam and we can have a huge garden and lots of animals.  That is a huge priority for us.  In my mind’s eye, I can see a puppy, a goat, places to build things, and lots of dirt to dig in.  I need to carry that image in my mind and use it to guide my decisions on a daily basis.

In the past I’ve seen ‘dream’ or ‘future’ boards, where people put up images and other things that remind them of what they want to accomplish.  Posting these boards in a prominent place, where they will be seen often, helps people stay on track.  I need to make one!

Questions about jobs and kids remain and things will always pop up, so there will still be uncertainty and distraction as we move forward.    Knowing that homeschooling and having property are our priorities will help me stay focused on the things that need to be done.  Now to get organized and get busy!

What helps you stay on track and focused despite all the distractions that come your way?

15 Weeks… & ‘Another Girl’

As we venture through week 15 of this pregnancy, we are enjoying a “quiet” week.  After the excitement of hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, having the first ultrasound, and finding out the baby is a girl, nothing ‘earth-shattering’ is on the schedule this week…  hehe  I’m feeling a little bit better and perhaps slightly less tired.  I am actually glad for a little pregnancy “peace.”  Every ‘uneventful’ week that passes brings us closer to the healthy arrival of another member of our family.

Speaking of another… when we started telling people that Lala was getting her wish about the baby, the response was basically, “Yay!  Another girl.”  Which is exactly what you would hope to hear and how something like that would be phrased in English.  To hear it for the first time though made me chuckle…  “another” girl…  Sounds like I picked up a spare at the grocery store…   LOL!  Language is often amusing.

Mic also got his first comment related to our “violation” of the “rule” about only having two children, especially if you have a girl and a boy.  He was chatting with a work acquaintance and when the individual found out we were expecting again, his response was “Dude, you need to get a vasectomy.”  Mic assured him that we had planned to have another child, but I know this is just the first of many such comments.

As soon as Tbear was born, we started to be told that our family was “perfect” and “complete” and we were “done” since we had a boy and a girl.  Having children beyond that “acceptable” number leads to many and varied comments from friends and strangers alike.  Time to prepare myself…  I still don’t look ‘obviously’ pregnant, but that will be coming soon.

I recently read an awesome blog post about this: To the lady ashamed of being pregnant with her fourth at Tales From the Mommy Trenches.  (Link will open in new tab.)  It’s a great read!

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Anyways, life is interesting and people are precious and perplexing.  🙂  We are enjoying our week and looking forward to meeting our baby.  “Another” 25 weeks to go…  😉

Hurray for Tomatoes!

We finally got a few red tomatoes out of our garden!  Hurray!

The plants have been sitting with some beautiful green tomatoes on them for what seems like foreeeeever…  We also got some lovely peppers.  I smell a bowl of fresh salsa coming on!

Gma stopped by a few days ago for a short visit and was kind enough to bring us some produce from her AMAZING garden.  My mom is a dedicated gardener, always growing a huge variety of veggies and fruits, as well as prize winning irises.  She brought us some tomatoes and peppers, a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes that Mic and the kids devoured, cucumbers, and some plums.  Yum!  Lala found the bag of plums and started chomping them down.  She missed the cherry tomatoes though. Hehe

All this wonderful produce has me fired up to have an even better garden next year.  I know it’s a ways off, but I have discovered that things sneak up on me and I need to make my plans well in advance. We totally have to plant strawberries, cucumbers, and corn next year. Hmmm…  What other yummy things will we have?  Where is that seed catalog?  🙂 Here’s to fresh tomatoes and gardening dreams!

14 Weeks… & An Ultrasound

We have hit a new milestone and crossed a bridge in this pregnancy – officially entering the second trimester!  Hooray!  We ‘celebrated’ by having our first ultrasound.  The pictures we got are awesome!  Probably the best ultrasound pics I have ever seen.

It was such a relief to see a tiny baby with all the appropriate parts.  The baby was very active, rolling, kicking its legs, and at one point even reached out and showed us its perfect, tiny hand.  The tech told Lala that the baby was waving at her.  Lala then proudly announced that the baby waved at her and she waved back.  🙂

The technology that makes this possible is just amazing.  The place we went is very family friendly, with a large, comfy viewing room and toys and little chairs for the kids.  They were able to run around a little and entertain themselves.  We did keep diverting their attention to the big screen where they could see the baby.  Lala was very interested in what was happening.  Tbear was mostly just playing, but at one point he ran past the screen, pointed at it, and said ‘baby.’  I’m glad he understood!

It took the tech a while to get the shot she wanted, but after some looking, having me turn on my side for a bit, and looking some more…  she finally got the picture she wanted…

I bought this outfit a couple of years ago to use as a baby gift and then decided I couldn’t part with it.  It looks like we will finally get to use it!

I am always a little skeptical until the baby arrives, but so far everything indicates…  It’s a girl!

Both kids got pink lollipops to celebrate and we followed up by getting ice cream from Cold Stone.  (Thanks to a dear friend for the gift card!)

Lala is over the moon!  She has a brother, so a sister was her request.  She was so excited to tell Gma when she called.  She is alternating between being a baby and being a mommy in her pretend play.

All in all, it was an awesome day.  Though there are never any guarantees in life, we received a lot of great news.  We are looking forward to meeting more milestones and crossing more bridges.  26 weeks to go!

Painting Pottery

We joined our homeschool meet-up group a few weeks ago for a pottery painting party.  We met at a local pottery studio that provides all the supplies for painting a ceramic item of your choice or glass fusing.  After looking at their offerings, I decided to have the kids decorate small tiles.  I am thinking of going back every 6 months or so and having them create another one.  Over time, I will have an amazing ‘gallery’ of their work that I can use for the backsplash in our kitchen when we build our dream house.  🙂

The kids had a great time.  So many colors and stencils to choose from!  They had glaze in bottles with fine tips for writing too.  Lala loves to paint, so this was right up her alley.

And Mic had fun helping Tbear create his masterpiece.

The finished projects were awesome!  And only cost us about $20.

I’m looking forward to our next painting party!

Marvelous Mathematics!

I’m a math nerd…  I admit it proudly!  🙂  I hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mathematics.  I had planned to major in Civil Engineering, but it makes sense that I switched to math, since I took more math in high school than any other subject.  I know math is a scary subject for most people.  When people find out my major and that I have worked as a statistician for years, they usually get a look on their faces somewhere between revulsion and awe…  LOL!  I always joke that I try not to tell people about it at cocktail parties because they suddenly need to speak with someone on the other side of the room…  😉

Teaching math is a huge concern for many homeschoolers.  I’ve seen lots of threads about it and am amazed at the volume of different curriculums and methods that are out there for teaching and learning.  I’ve seen comments from radical unschoolers that the only ‘subject’ they do ‘every day’ is math.  Why math is so scary would fill-up a whole post of its own, heck…  probably an entire doctoral thesis or two.

So I have decided to track down all the resources I can to help make math less painful for homeschoolers.  Math should be fun, not onerous!  My goal is to write a post every Monday with resources, ideas, comments, suggestions, anything that might be helpful for teaching and learning math.  I am also going to create a resource page on this site, just for math ‘stuff.’

Here is the beginning (links below will open in new tabs):

Math-related TV Shows

  • Peg + Cat – PBS & streaming on Netflix
  • Monster Math Squad – streaming on Netflix

Curriculum Lists and Reviews

‘Fun’ Math Books

(The links below are Amazon affiliate links.  If you use them to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)

Interesting Articles

Hopefully these will get you started!  Check back next week for more resources and information!

Technology… the Downfall of the Summer Reading Program

We just finished our third year of participating in our local library’s summer reading program.  When I realized Lala could participate three summers ago, I was thrilled.  Totally, ridiculously tickled at being part of the fun.  Almost silly actually…  🙂  Sadly, this year was a total bust for me.  What changed you ask?  Well…  the summer reading program went “online” this year…

The first two years, we were given a sheet with pictures to color to mark off the books we had read.  As they hit various numbers of books read, the kids could come in for little prizes.  If they read the number of books required to complete the program, they were entered in the ‘grand prize’ drawing at the end of the summer.  If they read more, they qualified for more entries.  The kids were absolutely tickled to get a coupon for a free ice cream cone, a pencil, a sticker, a free book…  And I was delighted to tell them over and over that they earned that by reading books.  Last year, at the end of summer ice cream party, Lala won a backpack with paper and art supplies.  She was thrilled.

This year, the program was run online.  I created a “parent” account and then added accounts for the kids.  The system awarded points for each minute of reading, as well as for attending library events.  I had to enter the number of minutes, as well as the title and author of each book, for both kids.  Kids earned “badges” for attending events and hitting various levels of “points.”

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To complete the program, the little kids had to accumulate 720 points, or the equivalent of reading 20 minutes a day for 36 days.  The program lasted 57 days.  And you could earn additional points for attending events.  All the events we attended were worth 20 points each.

I sent a message to the library about half-way through the program, because I was confused as to whether the kids still earned the little prizes along the way.  The response indicated they had moved away from the ‘trinket’ type prizes to things they thought would more directly motivate reading: badges, online games, and drawings.  The first 200 people to sign up for the program got a prize, there was a drawing part-way through if you had enough points, a drawing for those who completed the program, and door prizes at the end of summer party.  The prizes they offered were pretty cool.

The program kicks off with a pancake breakfast, which is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we were out of town and couldn’t go, nor could we be among the first to sign up.  We also didn’t earn enough points before the first drawing to be eligible.  And in the end, I grew so discouraged, that we didn’t complete the program or even go to the end of summer party.  It was scheduled for earlier in the day and indicated food would be available, but wasn’t billed as an ice cream social.

It probably sounds like I was only in the program for the prizes…  And I have to admit they are a fun addition to the activities…  What got me though was the lack of interaction for my kids.  They couldn’t color their sheets and take them in to get a prize.  I had to enter the info.  And the badges were meaningless to them.  Earning points did unlock some online games, but my kids are mostly too young for those kinds of things…  I think it is probably likely that older kids enjoyed it a lot, but for little ones…  it seemed to me like there was little point.

I’m sure the library has a lot of good reasons for making the changes to the program.  And I’m sure it worked well for many others.  Personally, it was disappointing.  I found it too time consuming to do all the “data entry.”  I couldn’t just remember how many books we read at bedtime or even just the titles, but had to corral them up and record the authors as well.  I know…  probably just me being grumpy…  🙂  Anyways…  not sure if we will participate at all next year…  The kids are still always begging me to read books to them, so the experience this summer didn’t really have any effect on that, thankfully!  We did enjoy attending a couple of “story time” events that featured people from our local fire department, sheriff’s office, and National Guard.  I just miss the joy and enthusiasm I felt about it during the previous two summers.  I’m certainly not “anti-technology.”  I’m just not sure it is always an improvement on things…

Did you participate in a summer reading program?  I hope you enjoyed it if you did!  We are certainly still reading!

13 Weeks and a Heartbeat…

Today I am 13 weeks and 5 days into this pregnancy.  We had our first midwife appointment last week.  I saw an OB for my first four pregnancies.   The care I received was good, but I always felt like just another chart.  Seeing the midwife was refreshing.  It was the first time I’ve had a provider interview me and fill out the medical history form.  The visit lasted about an hour, including all the usual checks.

The highlight of the visit was…

We heard the baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler.

158 beats per minute.

After we left the office, I sat in the truck and cried.  The kids were asking why I was crying.  Michael told them I wasn’t sad, but that sometimes people cry when they are happy.  They were pure tears of relief.  I won’t feel completely better until this baby is safely in my arms, but hearing that heartbeat was a wonderful step on this journey.

We plan to have an ultrasound next week.  I hope to see a tiny, healthy baby with a strong, beating heart.

The First Day of School…

Monday was the first day of school for many of the kids in our neighborhood.  Between the noisy bustle of a neighbor’s landscaper and everyone loading up to take their kids to school, it sounded like a NASCAR race out on the street in front of my house.  There are approximately a dozen kids on our block, attending 5 different schools.

My kids slept through it…  Lala would be heading off to pre-kindergarten this year, if we were planning to send her to public school.  I guess pre-k doesn’t actually start until next week.  I have been thinking about what impact there will be on all of us, if these kids never participate in a ‘first day of school’ experience.  We’ve taken a few cute pictures for their first days of co-op preschool, but co-op is nothing like being dropped off to face a new teacher, new peers, and new challenges.

Two of our neighbors started middle school this year.  I remember starting ‘junior high.’  It was terrible.  We were dumped from the relative peace of elementary school into a world of lockers and rotating schedules of classes, limited time to get between classes, the ‘horrors’ of ‘dressing down’ for P.E… the changes were staggering.  I hated it and within a few weeks refused to go back.  That lead to a lot of changes in school for me, though that is a tale for another day.

Will my kids ‘miss out’ on something by not participating in public school?  I think the answer is yes, they most certainly will.  Some of the things they ‘miss out’ on will be fun, most will not be.  The benefits they will gain will far outweigh the loss.  It’s my job to see to that!

‘School’ Supply Safari!

I ventured out today in search of one of my favorite things… knowing they are usually available for shockingly less during ‘back to school’ time than during the rest of the year…  Spiral notebooks!

I love spiral notebooks!  They are useful for so many things.  I haven’t purchased any in a couple of years, so my ‘inventory’ had dwindled to a couple half-used, slightly ratty ones.  Lala has been trying to steal the last decent one I have.  A couple of posts reminded me about the joy of school supply sales and since school starts around here over the next couple of weeks (yikes!), I knew I better get out and find some!  I scored a dozen of them for about $2. Yay!

I also decided I wanted to look at what other types of supplies were on sale that might inspire the kids.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but figured that inspiration would find me.  We have a fairly well stocked ‘supply cabinet,’ so I didn’t want to get too much stuff…  I decided on some crayons and a couple of small pen sets, along with a pencil box for Lala. Tbear was totally enamored with the box and tiny highlighters, so I decided in the end to get him a set too. He’s young, but they both love drawing and ‘writing.’  🙂

Grand total with notebooks…  about $10.

I also picked up a couple of plastic bins on clearance in hopes of getting the art projects and coloring pages that are taking over my house corralled up and in some kind of order…  haha…  🙂  (It perhaps goes without saying that we also had to get a myriad of other things while we were out…  including food for all the pets…  The cart always fills up…  🙂  )

On our way to get groceries, we stopped at the Dollar Tree next door.  I’ve seen some awesome ideas using pool noodles (marble track anyone?) and they had some a few weeks ago.  Of course, August is way too late to get pool noodles… Who on earth would be playing in the water this time of year?!?!?  (We did see a few a couple of other places, but I don’t want to spend four times as much for them…)  But, as is always the case with the dollar store…  we found some other cool things…

I see some awesome projects coming on!  It was a long day, but the kids did well.  Shopping is getting easier as they get older.  Don’t get me wrong though, I still avoid it as much as possible!  But sometimes you just have to go on safari and find those spiral notebooks…  😉

Serious learning. Seriously fun!

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