18. Back to School!

We finished week 1, and I’m happy to say it was a success. I feared it would be hard to get back into the school routine after our summer break. But, it seems the kids were as eager as I to start the new school year.

First Day of School 2013

It’s been nice having a routine again.  As much as I enjoy summer, the constant playing (aka chaos) gets to me after a couple months.  Then comes the new school year.
Aahhhhhhh…

Ryan’s favorite subject has turned out to be math.  This makes my life a whole lot easier, since I like to start our day with math.

Ryan doing math- Wk. 1

Ryan doing math- Wk. 1

Ashby’s favorite subject is science.  But, instead of that, I wanted to include this pic of her practicing her Mandarin characters.  She works hard at it, and I want to acknowledge that.  They never cease to impress me when they bust out some Mandarin in the midst of a conversation.

Ashby Wk. 1- Mandarin

Ashby Wk. 1- Mandarin

However, since science is so hands-on, I do take lots of science pictures.  I include them on our science lab write-ups, which we are doing on the computer this year (to make it more fun and to incorporate some technology into our lessons).

Sci4exp-A

R-Sci2exp

You can also find these lab sheets on my new site page: 2013-2014 Lessons.  It will serve as a portfolio of our lessons throughout the year.  So far, it has links to the kids’ science labs only.  Honestly now, how interesting is a math workbook sheet?  I’ll add more as we go through the weeks.  But, enough for now.  It’s time for another part of the school year we’ve been missing: Park Day!

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17. S’mores ‘n’ More

What’s the best part of camping? S’mores, right? Not so fast… This may be better:

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Homemade sourdough cooked in the campfire. (Let’s forget the fact that my starter expanded on the drive down and made a bit of a mess. A little water and elbow grease, and Ryan’s sweatshirt was good as new. Well, good enough for camping, at least.)

20130817-124335.jpg We’ve been enjoying a final getaway to Santa Barbara before school starts next week. I figured the bread would be a fun experiment, and I’m so happy I tried it. Four ingredients, a Dutch oven, and a fire. That’s it! Oh, and don’t forget the butter! (What’s the point of fresh bread without it?)

I have to credit Ashby for the fire. She used what she learned in her outdoor survival skills class to get the campfire started (with just a little help from Dad).

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This morning, my leftovers became French toast. Add in a cup of freshly-brewed Peet’s and a visit on the porch with friends while all the kids play in the campsite. Perfect!

We worked off breakfast with a hike to the nearby llama farm where we fed the goats and sheep (the llamas wanted nothing to do with us).

20130817-091057.jpgThe smell of fresh bread, nature all around me, quality family time…

20130817-091107.jpgI’m a happy camper!

16. Curriculum

School starts in a week.  So, I’m in the home stretch of preparations.  I’ve added the Curriculum Page to my GGP Teacher Manual.  This page details the curriculum I use for each subject.  It’s a combination of purchased and self-made curricula.

Making Health Books

Making Health Books

You’ll find PDF copies of the curricula I’ve made and links to the ones I purchase.

SOTW 2 Booklet

SOTW 2 Booklet

Enjoy!

 

15. Always Learning

20130806-154443.jpgWe’ve been vacationing in Lake Tahoe before we start the next school year. Yesterday, we took a gondola ride up Heavenly Mountain and saw some spectacular views.

20130806-135609.jpgWe stopped mid-hike for a mini physics lesson. We watched the waves travel in the boundary rope, noting that they were taller when we tugged harder and that they quickly flattened out as they traveled back and forth between the poles.

20130806-121840.jpgThis reminded me of one of my favorite reasons to homeschool. The world is our classroom. And, in this case, the classroom is a beautiful place to be!

20130806-154552.jpgI learned something, too. I’ve been coming to Tahoe every winter since I was a kid, and we all know what a great ski destination it is. But this is my first summer visit. FYI: summer is way better!

14. Fun Food Friday

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I’ve decided to share some of my favorite things with you, even though they’re not necessarily related to homeschooling. Well, in my life, it ALL relates to homeschooling one way or another.

In this case, we’re talking food. I love to cook and bake, and I’m making sure the kids can do both. More on that in another post. For now, let’s focus on what matters…pizza! Probably my all-time favorite food. This is one I made this week with my homemade sourdough crust.

Since I live in the San Francisco area I figured I better make some sourdough, right? I do bread, English muffins, pancakes, and waffles. But, pizza dough is by far my favorite use for my starter.

I try to make the pizza as homemade as possible. This one had jalapeños (nowhere near hot enough yet), basil, and parsley from my garden. Later in the summer, I’ll add tomatoes to that list.

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I tried to make the mozzarella once, but it flopped. It ended up being a waste of many gallons of local, organic, grass-fed milk (a.k.a. $), so I have yet to attempt it again. But, I feel the need to perfect it coming on lately. We’ll see…

13. School Year Calendar

I’ve added the Calendar page to my GGP Teacher Manual.

Calendar

GGP 2013-2014 Calendar

You can download and customize the calendar for your school.

I usually print out several grayscale copies to mark up as I figure out our school year and number the weeks.

CalendarMarked

Marked Calendar JPG (click to enlarge)

Here are what all my markings mean:

CalendarMarked

My Calendar Explained (click to enlarge)

The calendar helps me get a visual idea of how many weeks we really need to accomplish all of our goals and how many weeks we can use for breaks.  I’ll add my final calendar to the Calendar page of my GGP Teacher Manual when it’s done.

12. Reality

Sometimes I get overwhelmed looking at other homeschoolers’ blogs, because they seem to have everything so much more under control than I do.  Their classrooms are set up with everything you could possibly want; we do school at the dining room table and have one bookshelf for all of our homeschool materials.  Their website photos are magazine-ready; I tend to use snapshots from my iPhone.  (I have a nice Canon DSLR but would rather not deal with the extra step of transferring photos from the memory card to the computer.  My iPhone is just too easy in comparison).  Their kids seem so studious and exceptional at everything they do.  Ashby and Ryan do love to read and give me no trouble with lessons.  I, of course, think they are exceptional.  But, I also know they’re normal kids…they want to play, and self-restraint isn’t tops on their agenda.  They would watch TV and eat snacks all day long if I allowed it (I don’t). But, they’re curious, respectful, resourceful, and imaginative.   That’s what matters to me.

So, I remind myself not to believe everything I see online.  Look at this:

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This was Saturday morning.  The kids and I took a nice walk to a local coffee shop for breakfast, and they ran around and played outside when we were done.  What joyful and loving siblings, right?  A perfect morning…sunshine, a cup of coffee, happy kids.

Well, here we are about 2 minutes later:

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Ashby comes over to tell me that Ryan is mad, because she isn’t playing the game according to his rules (which he has a tendency to keep adding as his games go along).  Now, Ashby is mad at me, because I’m not reprimanding Ryan right this second (I never do, she tells me).   And do you see Ryan pouting in the background?

This is my perfect Saturday morning.  This is reality.  But, it’s quite easy for me to just post the first pic and tell the world how wonderful our life is.  Not only will you think I’ve got it all together, but I might believe it myself.   So, why not?

Well, just in case I’ve given you the impression up until now that everything is roses and cotton candy in our homeschool experience, I want to set the record straight.  I can’t promise that every post I make will inspire you with its beauty or demonstrate how easy and natural it is to homeschool.  But I can assure you that I’ll be honest.  I can offer you resources that I find useful and lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in my years homeschooling.  I’ll post about some of our fun homeschool days, but I’ll address the flops, too (with the hope that our challenge could lead to someone else’s success).

The reality is that some days are amazing, and I impress even myself. More often, though, homeschooling (and parenting, in general) is an exercise in patience and humility.  I don’t have all the answers, contrary to what I could easily project here on my blog.  But, every day is a new opportunity to learn and teach, and for that I am thankful.

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