Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

I am ending 2010 on a positive note and giving myself a pat on the back for all my family and I have accomplished in 2010, homeschooling and otherwise. It was a great year, despite broken bones and surgeries. We were able to spend so much quality time together as a family, both at home and on the road. And my husband and I even managed to get in "couples time" and a few trips by ourselves. I appreciate that even though I am not a perfect homeschooler, I am doing a good job - the kids are learning and developing, I am learning and growing, and we are all having fun (most of the time!). I am comfortable enough with myself to know that even when I don't get to something today, it doesn't mean I won't get to it - no need to panic or give up. Looking at 2011, I know that I have much to look forward to. We have a wonderful year planned and so many good things going on in our lives. I am incredibly lucky and incredibly loved - who could ask for more? Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Taking the bad with the good...

The Bad
Well, not bad maybe, just not as good.
We're back from three (yes THREE) weeks off from school. Nothing like a long break to make coming back that much harder. This morning we had tears, whining, crumbling to the floor, and fits of anger. And that was just me. Just kidding (though I may have felt like doing some of that in response to all the grief I was getting).  Actually, my reaction to all of this was relief. Why? Because I'm glad they're getting all out of their system today. It means that the rest of the week will be peaceful by comparison. And I should add that by the end of the school day the level of complaining decreased noticeably. Until moments ago when I mentioned it was time to practice their instruments....

Ah, the joys of homeschooling! =)

The Good
 Our break was long, but it felt very short as we managed to cram so much into those three weeks. The best part of our time off was a trip to the mountains for some skiing and relaxation. All four girls were enrolled in all-day ski school and my husband and I were actually able to SKI this trip. We even took a few lessons ourselves. We also spent time sledding, playing in the snow, tubing, hanging out at a cabin, decorating cookies, learning to crochet, playing games as a family and generally just enjoying the snow and winter. We got back just in time for Christmas.  It was definitely worth the rough start coming back to take the time off and enjoy ourselves in a true winter wonderland!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Holiday Party

My girls and I hosted a Winter Holiday Cookie and Craft party yesterday. Another mom and I run an American Girl Doll Club for girls 8 and up, and my daughters wanted to have their friends from AG Club over for a holiday party. It was a huge success. We decorated our kitchen and sun rooms as snowy winter wonderlands with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. The girls made jingle bell bracelets, wreaths from puzzle pieces, pins that look like wrapped presents, and matching doll-and-me scarves. They played gift wrap relay, pass the snow ball and hot holiday present. Plus they each had a turn guessing how much candy was in a jar (can you believe the winner only missed by one candy - she guessed 400 and the correct answer was 401!).  And of course, we had hundreds (literally) of cookies to decorate, which they were able to bring home in holiday tins. I think my favorite moment was when the girls spontaneously started singing Christmas carols as we were making the scarves. Just priceless. I'm not sure if this party will become an annual event, but at the very least it made this year very memorable!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Break!

I was feeling overburdened, stressed and generally too busy ... and just like that, we are officially starting our winter break a week early!  I am planning to continue with math drills, our art projects and music. But aside from that, we are baking, sewing and crafting our way through the holidays (see our paper plate menorahs and winter carolers for today's examples). The two oldest girls are currently knitting gifts for family members, they all plan to make blankets and scarves for each other, and we're having a winter holiday cookie decorating party at our house next week so we're busy planning and organizing for that.  I don't know if the "break" will actually be relaxing, but at least it's fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mathematical Musings

I admit it - math is my least favorite subject. It isn't that math is hard for me - I always did well in math and took several years of advanced Calculus. It's just that I don't find it inspiring. And I love to be inspired. Don't get me wrong - I can appreciate that math can be and often is inspiring. To other people. But not me.

No, I am more of a word girl. Give me a beautiful line of prose and I will be caught up for days. I can often remember - years after having read it the first time - the exact page number in books where a particularly moving scene can be found.  I have quotes posted in unlikely (and likely) locations about the house. Still, as an semi-intelligent primate I recognize that math is important and one needs to have at least a basic understanding of it in order to function well in society.

But for the life of me, I can't understand why math is so difficult in our homeschool. And I know I'm not alone. Give me a room of homeschool moms and I can guarantee you that most of them will complain about math. Math curriculum, math facts, math drills ... or the lack thereof. And it's not limited to homeschoolers. In my circle of non-homeschool friends, most of the complaints regarding education revolve around math.

So I wonder - what IS it about math in America? Why aren't we more inspired by something that can be found in every aspect of life? And most importantly - how can I break this cycle for my children? I would love for my girls to fall in love with math. But if I'm honest, I'm not making that happen. They seem to be as uninspired by it as I am.

I haven't figured it out yet. But I'm working on it.