Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordless Wednesday:
Have a Rockin' New Year!

Brielle with hat, originally uploaded by unpink.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Be still my beating (homeschooling!) heart...

{Click on the pic to see all of the goodies in their full glory.}

#1 is all done and it's not even 2009 yet.

Ready, set... homeschool!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Goals for 2009:

2007 was a busy year for our family. John bought the business he worked for, he and I took the proverbial plunge, and it was the littles first time to Florida. In comparison, 2008 seemed very laid back. We went on more vacations- both locally and to Florida but that was about it. 2009 looks to be another busy and exciting year for our family. It is our goal to finally decide on a house to buy and move into it. With that, comes the opportunity for the girls and I to tap into our creative side- and get decorating and hostessing. I also begin homeschooling Shaye and Mackenna next week. My own personal goal through all of the craziness is to remember daily to show John just how much he means to us, as he is the reason all of this is possible for the girls and I. I never have a problem remembering to be the best mother I can be, but sometimes, by the end of a stressful day- nurturing my marriage is the last thing on my mind.

As far as specific homeschooling goals go,
  1. Get organized. (Have I ever mentioned my deep love for The Container Store? WAL-MART?!! Look what I did!)
  2. Meet & get to know local HS families.
  3. Play it by ear for the first few weeks- to get a feel for how much to plan, before over committing.
  4. Have fun with it!

You would think I would have more specific goals, but I really don't. The one thing I remember from my previous homeschooling experience is how easily things flow if you are open to it. Questions about one subject or topic can lead you into a completely new topic before you even realize what is happening. Children are natural born learners at this age- I just have to provide them with the opportunity to follow their instincts.

For more goals from home schooling families, visit...

What are your goals for 2009?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday:
We wish you a Merry Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2008

Handmade gift wrap

These are what the littles came up with when I handed them each a brown paper lunch bag and told them to decorate it because we would be putting their teachers' Christmas gifts in them...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Italian brownies

While the snow continued falling today, the girls and I spent the day at my sister's house- singing Christmas carols, baking sugar cookies and Italian brownies, and playing Monopoly Jr. and Connect Four. My family has baked Italian brownies for Christmas for generations. Mackenna was old enough this year (every year there's someone it bugs) to be quite frustrated by their name- insisting we should call them Italian cookies. I am not sure why they are called "brownies", but they can definitely be called delicious. The following recipe makes about 7 dozen cookies...

9-10 cups flour

1 box dark brown sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

4 eggs

2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup cold coffee

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts*

2 cups raisins*

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a LARGE bowl (or, if we are doubling the recipe, we use a big pasta pot) with a wooden spoon. Then add eggs, coffee, and oil. Mix well. This part needs some arm muscle! Finally, add your chocolate chips, nuts, and raisins. Then take a teaspoon, scoop and drop mixture onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 11- 15 minutes- only until BOTTOMS are golden brown!

* Due to allergies and picky eaters, we no longer add the nuts or the raisins- but sometimes I miss them.

this recipe is linked to...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our stockings are hung!

When Nikki suggested we all share pictures of our stockings today, it was just the kick in the butt motivation I needed to load mine onto the computer. This year, Mushy Bug took three fabrics of my choosing and whipped up six coordinating Christmas stockings for my family-

I am dreaming of them being hung on the mantel in our new home next year, until then, the wall had to do.

Okay, your turn- post a pic and leave the link in comments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What I mean when I say unschooling

alternately titled:

Why we won't be using a boxed curriculum
or any "curriculum" for that matter...

  1. I don't like the idea of teaching my children that any one book (or set of books) read should be taken as the absolute truth. I prefer they take a more active role in their education- asking questions, gathering information, constructing their own truths, and proving or disproving those truths. That said, I know there are subjects that actually do hold absolute truths, like Mathematics. And that there are some great and helpful programs out there for presenting subjects such as a foreign language. So I am not against using textbooks and programs as needed.

  2. My thoughts on unit studies? Love the concept! We'll be approaching them with an unschooling mind set though- taking what is interesting to Shaye(and Mackenna) and finding creative and active ways to explore the topic. It will be my job to cover all areas of learning (IE: math, science, English) during our explorations. Although this will probably take a lot of research on my part- I think it is the most economical solution for us right now, based on how quickly Shaye absorbs ideas and then moves on. Take for example our weekly library trips- Shaye checks out books with a theme. For two to three weeks, in the beginning of the Fall, it was dinosaurs and she read everything she could get her hands on about them. Even a book called Dino Dung- What we can learn from fossilized excrement . I kid you not. She also shows an interest every few weeks about everything and anything under the sea. During October and November, it was the election process, former presidents, and finally, women's rights. She actually selected and read a biography entitled Susan B. Anthony and The Women's Suffrage Movement - did I mention she's six? Other weekly themes have been Amelia Bedilia and Dr. Seuss. The librarian commented that she loves Shaye because not only does she check out so many books at a time, but when she returns them, they all get returned to the same place. So, "unit studies" seem like the natural route, starting now- please feel free to share any interesting ideas, projects, or "lesson plans" you have used or come across!

  3. Most of our learning will be absorbing knowledge through books, conversations, online research, hands on projects, and field trips. Work books and other busy work? Shaye eats them up like candy. We would go broke trying to keep up with her using just, or mostly, text and workbooks. First of all, she's been "doing" workbooks since before she could read or write. Once she could read the directions herself? Forget about it! She sees the entire workbook as one activity. She does it for fun, and she does it 'til it's done. Remember last January? And that was in the morning before setting off to full day Kindergarten. The girl is a machine. Which is kind of why the school was more than happy to send her packing. And why unschooling is our best option. She controls the themes, the speed, the depth- it's win-win-win. Although, I don't think I'll be sticking to giving up Diet Coke, I think I'm going to need all the help I can get to keep up with her.

What are your thoughts? Ideas? Prayers for me?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Currently reading...

Creative Homeschooling For Gifted Children
by Lisa Rivero

Homeschooling, The Early Years
by Linda Dobson

50 Simple Things you can do to Raise a Child who loves Math
by Kathy A. Zahler, M.S.

Oh, and the May/June 2008 issue of Practical Homeschooling for it's article by Jeanette Webb entitled

Raising Gifted Children Right

which, after reading, I would recommend for any parent to read- homeschooling or not.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

From the minivan...

Mackenna "Mommy, am I allergic to weed?"

Me "What?!"

Mackenna "WEED... am I allergic to it?"


because I was thinking...

go with this Gina: "YES, yes you are! Just say NO!"

and where did she hear about "weed" ?!??


Mackenna "Because the other day at school the cookies had weed in them and remember I was allergic to those flowers I brought home?"

Me, laughing, "Those "flowers" were ragweed and cookies have wheat in them. No, your not allergic to wheat."

Friday, December 12, 2008

new 'do

So, we all got haircuts last night.
Trims really,
except for Brielle.
It all started with the words
"Oh, I want a streak of color in my hair!"
after Brielle saw the girl before us
get a streak of pink
on the underside of her hair.

Brielle and Kelly (the best hairdresser ever)
chatted excitedly for a while-
and Kelly started foiling.

Then Brielle's hair look like this...

but three hours later it looked like this...

Oh yeah, she's rockin' it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The lowdown on my Christmas

Jessica invited me to dish on my Christmas...

  • Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

Hot chocolate- did you even need to ask ?!??

  • Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

He wraps them in nifty paper that is printed with "From Santa" all over it- word is, he gets it online from Current. He even wraps each stocking stuffer- he's hard core. Last year, he topped the gifts with jingles bells- he must have thought that was a cute idea until he tried to put them under the tree without waking any of the girls... I'm betting there won't be any bells on the gifts this year.

  • Do you hang mistletoe?

Yes- fake mistletoe (allergies) and in two places.

  • What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

The ham!

  • Favorite holiday memory as a child?

Big (HUGE!) Christmas Eve's with lots of family, friends, and seven kinds of fish.

  • Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

The girls open 1-4 gifts on Christmas Eve- depending on how early in the day they start asking.

  • How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

With ornaments that have been collected over the years. Handmade by the girls, received as gifts or bought as mementos on trips.

  • Snow. Love it or dread it?

LOVVEEEE it. Until the day after Valentine's Day- then I'm ready for Spring.

  • Can you ice skate?

Yes. I grew up skating on Lake Quinsigamond and the pond at Elm Park. Now, I only let the girls skate at indoor rinks.

  • Do you remember your favorite gift?

Remember it? It seems like I got it just last year... oh wait, I did get it just last year.

  • What is the most important thing about the holidays to you?

Family! And fun! And love! And doing for others!

  • What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Italian brownies. A family recipe that I got from my great aunt. As in my mother's aunt. And I'm sure it's even older than that.

  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Reading The Night Before Christmas under the tree with my girls on Christmas Eve. My sister and I did it every year with my mom, and I do it now with my daughters.

  • Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?

Giving! I like getting gifts but nothing makes me happier than giving gifts- especially if they are a surprise.

  • What is your favorite Christmas song?

I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas has been my favorite since I was a little girl. Same Old Lang Syne (by Dan Fogelberg) is my second favorite and the one about the little boy buying the Christmas shoes for his mom before she goes to heaven has made me cry - every time I hear it- since I was pregnant with my first daughter, 15 years ago.

  • Candy Canes. Yum or Yuck?

Pretty, but personally? Yuck.

  • What do you want for Christmas?

The new Blackberry Storm and a straightener to call my own.
Right now I have to share one with two daughters- who want to pack and take it on sleepovers.

  • Do you own a Santa hat?


How 'bout you?

Chat it up in comments or play along on your blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Swedish crystal
+ a Christmas Eve scented candle =
perfection .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday happenings...

This weekend, we got to visit Santa,
play and make "merry" (red and green toppings) ice cream sundaes with our friends, and wake up Sunday morning to the first snowfall of the season.
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

-Shaye, 6 and Mackenna, 4

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jumping (back) in!

I first discovered the "blogosphere" almost 4 years ago- when I was thinking about homeschooling my second daughter, then in second grade. I soon started my own blog- jumping in - and chronicled our unschooling adventure there. Even though Brielle was enrolled back in public school for third grade, and my blog was deleted shortly thereafter, both still hold a dear place in my heart. Circumstances are bringing my third daughter home this January, and I am excited to begin this new chapter in our family's story. I have begun researching new and exciting ways to feed Shaye's insatiable hunger for knowledge. Stay tuned...