Back to school, back to life

“The giving of love is an education in itself.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Second grade and Kindergarten!

We recently kicked off the new school year and I’m still in shock that I’m officially teaching not just Ella in second grade this year, but Gavin now in kindergarten. Three years into this already and it feels like yesterday that it all began.

I jumped into homeschooling not really knowing how to swim, but I never imagined the rewarding and truly incredible experience that treading through with faith would bring from it. I just feel grateful to have the opportunity to continue another year with it.

Though it isn’t¬†the usual hustle and bustle normally found on a first day of school, which I fondly remember. I still like to treat it specially. A few new outfits, and setting up the desk for them to discover on the first day are a couple of ways to keep a sense of excitement about the new year! Ella also wanted her first day of school hair and we had the rare apple fritter and blueberry breakfast! ūüôā

Preschooler!!

This is a glimpse of what our school/learning area consists of. They are enjoying the shared space now but in time I see us growing out of it. For now it works though and Grant definitely wants to be a part of it. Of course this is where the ‘official’ yet unofficial work gets done when it comes to workbooks and specific lessons. Still a lot of our learning happens in the kitchen, around town, or snuggled in a bed with books, to name a few of the unique learning opportunities which are what I so love about all of this!

And really these school days are not so much about me knowing exactly what a perfect education means, or possessing all the skills as the perfect teacher. What I do know is that the love I have feeds through my desire to play the biggest role in their learning at this age. Hopefully it fosters a love of learning in them that continues throughout their entire education, no matter what direction it takes in the future!

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Holy cows.. it’s fair season!!

Meet Mrs. Curly top!!

Curly top, you are adorable!

I’m supposed to tell you that it’s impossible to fall in love with a cow, but unfortunately it’s very possible!! That’s because I totally fell for this curly cutie.. I know, I know, I’m probably sounding crazy right about now, but I’m telling you there was never a cuter cow in my book. First of all cows are not supposed to be “cute!” Second of all, hand feeding a cow is¬†the slimiest¬†experience I can ever remember. But all that aside, I was just fascinated with Goldie Locks!¬†Imagine the kids’ reactions when they find out that the new family pet is now going to be a cow?! Really mom?!

Lets just say I was ready to adopt!

….and I’m totally kidding….

The second stars of the cuteness show were the adorable piglets.

This Lil piggy..

Watching cute little piggies scampering about was super entertaining, and smelly. But they were adorable!!

Basically our first fair trip this year was all about the animals. The kids could not get enough of the petting area or the farm and gardens at the Orange County fair this summer. We watched a great lesson on the milking process and how the production actually goes. I guess Gavin was expecting to see an old man pull up a stool and start hand milking the cow over a glass jar. Needless to say, seeing a suction and machines expressing milk into a bucket was quite the introduction to the real-life assembly line style that is the life of a cow this day in age!

Gavin is also overcoming his apprehensive tendencies towards animals. After a good feeding session, I could hardly get him to leave!

Big sis is always great at helping Grant feel comfortable with certain things, such as the over-excited goats who are crazy about food! She was very patient during the process!

 

Vegetable gardens, and melon patches were looking mighty fine too! We liked exploring all of the delicious varieties that they had growing around there.

And no fair trip is complete without some sort of ride on a pony or a chance to play around with some drumsticks.

Drummer boy.

It was great to continue our learning adventures over the summer without even trying. The trip to this fair was one of those perfect opportunities for that head start!

We are looking forward now to the L.A. County fair coming up this September. I wonder what will be catching our eyes next time…

And then there were Legos…

Some of the best days are spent doing things I didn’t plan…

Like when Gavin is begging me to build him a Lego house.

And it literally takes me the bulk of the day to fulfill this wish for him. He know’s mommy has never known her full potential at Lego building and seriously doubts a successful outcome, but he had every bit of faith in me with this assignment.

 

I couldn’t resist a couple of details, like the flower walkway next to a pond… or the fancy barbecue on the upstairs deck…

 

And of course we have the living room… a side from the kitchen and bedrooms.

Yes, that’s a drill on the coffee table, why I don’t know. ūüôā

Gavin and Ella both asked for the garage.

It was definitely a Lego day and mostly because we are three days out from the last day of school, workbooks are drying up, and summer fun days are starting to nudge at us. We took a run in the morning through our “old downtown” and had some real interactions with map/key concepts as well as stopped in the pet store for some learning. The kids got to pet a few snakes, Ella pet a scorpion and they watched the effort that goes into maintaining all the animal cages. It was an eventful day even though the Lego’s ended up as the bigger portion.

But every good day must come to an end, and the creation met its tragic end…

 

It’s a tough thing to see hard work fall on the floor to a million pieces. But what is remembered is the fun that was had while it lasted!

And there’s always tomorrow….

P.S. Lego mini golf

The Kidspace Children’s Museum

You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing.  What!  Is it nothing to be happy?  Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long?  Never in his life will he be so busy again.  ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Ever since discovering that the Kidspace Children’s Museum offers free admission on the first Tuesday of each month, I knew that we would take that opportunity at some point! Who can pass up FREE¬†these days right?! So this month was our first time, and definitely not the last! Although the free night is only a four-hour chunk of time, it gives enough opportunity to decide if it’s worth a full day trip coming again. It was really a fun experience for all three of them! The museum has various exploring areas encouraging lots of learning which was great!

They loved the art area….

There was the giant water-color station…

Lots of little crafts going on here…

The little artist

We love to paint!!

Then it was a mosaic craft..

Great for little creative minds ūüôā

The museum had all these crazy crawling/climbing spaces that even the adults could try. This one below was very cool but about half way up with Grant I was getting dizzy… Literally when you are up that narrow of a space and looking up or down is the same view it kind of freaks you out! It seemed like it never ended so we turned around!

A never-ending crawl space..

More climbing!!

Seriously there was so much to do! Like this fossil discovery area…

My little digger.

And this silly bug kitchen where the kids can play and pretend to serve the bugs meals. There were exhibits in the kitchen showing what bugs might lurk in our kitchens if we don’t keep them clean…GROSS!!

May we take your orders?!

Bug Appétit

At one point Grant ran out of the kitchen so fast yelling, “A¬†BALL, A BALL!!!”¬† and this is what he had spotted…

The golf Gods have spoken to him

It was pretty cute that he saw it so randomly at the time…and if it isn’t obvious, he is obsessed with anything sports related like big-bro.

There were some very cool exhibits all around and an entire room dedicated to learning the ends and outs of science related things… life cycles, rocks and minerals, bones, shells and water life, magnetic fields… so, so much we could definitely spend an entire day there! I think the summer time will be great because there is also a huge outdoor water play area and a new addition of fun activities that is opening up soon. The day we went was raining but the kids still wanted to mess around near the water of course!

Singing in the rain

Oh yeah and the museum has a calender of events that you can plan for. The evening we came on was a cultural dance night. That was a fun show and interesting to learn about a different style of dance…

Story tellers..

So that was our experience at the Kidspace Museum and they can’t wait to go back! We love this kind of fun learning!

Till next time!

Nourishing my Homeschool heart <3

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It was a discussion I was having with my daughter Ella last night, as I was cleaning up dinner and it followed us into our recently re-established nighttime routine.

By the end of the conversation she had her arms wrapped tightly around my waist, telling me “Thank-you Mommy for being my teacher and letting me homeschool.”

It was something my heart has yearned to hear recently. The path of our life has gone through so many changes, so many crazy corners and new roads I have not imagined having to navigate in my life. But that I am finding my way on somehow, step by step…day by day. Though life itself does not seem to be very consistent many times, my biggest concern is the consistency for my kids. Homeschooling has evolved into our most unchanging, grounded thing throughout our past 2 years doing so.

That is probably why I really hold tightly to it. It’s the part of the kids’ and my life that we share, which goes wherever we go, that grows however we grow, and evolves in a way that even in moments where I question my abilities or efforts, ¬†I am somehow always re-affirmed.

It is just like my faith. And further more why I do feel very called to do this for my children now in their young lives. Ella did give me the affirmation last night. Believe me, it was SO needed. This little 6 (six and three-quarters she will tell you) year old and I have had many frustrating and many beautiful moments throughout this homeschool journey, it hasn’t been easy of course. Our conversation revolved around her recent growth in learning to read, as she has been on the slower end with it and it is FINALLY clicking!! She chimed in that it was brought to her attention that her cousin of the same age (who’s in public school) is reading “second grade level” already. She was very matter-of-fact with this information, it didn’t seem to bother her at all. She was really rationalizing it all to me in a way. Being that we are the only homeschoolers in all of our immediate family, comparisons are bound to happen of course. Especially from those of the family that might not fully understand what this whole homeschool thing is about, or why I even decided to go this route.

Even though it wasn’t that she presented this information in a competitive way, I still found myself wanting to reassure her that everyone reads and learns at their own pace, and their own level. I reminded her that¬†the beauty of our homeschool is that Mommy is here to make sure she has all the right tools to learn and can do it on her own time. I want her to know “IT’S OKAY!!” Even though this is another reason I choose to homeschool. So that my kids are not constantly measured up, but¬†it seems they will still be regardless. Everyone wants to know “what level this” and¬†“how advanced that” these days, that choosing to do school a different route is still in that spotlight. I’m learning for myself how to not let it bother me. I don’t want my children always feeling that they need to measure up, nor do I want to be measured up as a parent.

Every parent chooses what is right for their own child and I know obviously homeschooling is not the right fit for everyone, nor is public the right fit for all, or private. I never even imagined myself as a homeschool kind of mom before it turned out that way anyway. It did have an initial stereotype, even I had associated it with, but I came to find out it is a¬†varying and discretely popular community growing within us. I often hear the argument presented, “I survived” public school so how bad could it really be? Well I¬†did survive it too, a lot of us did, but I didn’t thrive in it either. I know many kids that do thrive in school, maybe it was just my personality, who knows.

My social personality didn’t care too much about my education. I was¬†that student that was more into the friends and after school happenings, than doing anything to enhance my true potential as a student. It’s not that I regret that about myself, after all it was who I was and part of who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I loved school because I had “fun” being involved in everything besides trying to keep a grade point average higher than the¬†least acceptable to take part in the rally’s with my dance team or cheer squad. The one subject that I loved and always did well with was English/language arts. It was my favorite subject and my best. At one point I even considered going to school to become¬†an English teacher. But even the thought of school long enough to do that was too much for me to fathom. I did love to learn, but the learning I wanted was not in a textbook. I thrived on the hands-on, creative learning which was not always an option.

My wish is that I might help give a solid foundation enough to encourage strong academics over a popular social life for my kids. I know by the time they reach the teenage years, they will face many social distractions, and I can only hope they stay grounded. It is not to say that they need to be bubble kids, sheltered or anything but everything in due time!!

I have no idea what the future holds of course, I can only control part of what¬†presents itself to me here and now. Homeschooling¬†is the right fit for us right now. Will it always be? I don’t have that answer. The answer I do have is my beautiful little girl looking me in the eyes, telling me how much she loves doing this and thanking me for “letting” her. As if she views homeschooling as really a privilege for her to have, and she knows that she may not always have it.

Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Homeschooling is our journey, not our destination.¬†It is our experience together while it is able to be. I am trying my hardest to protect it from the other parts of our life that don’t always seem to flow the way I want them.

It isn’t a black and white answer for us forever. It’s a colorful means for my children’s education to sprout at this early age¬†and I am planting the seeds. I don’t take any day for granted around here.

I remember always feeling that I would be doing things “different” so to say, for my kids. I’ve done that in many ways over the years.

Homeschooling is different. Beautifully different.

Nothing lasts forever though and as I pray that I can continue on this journey for them, I remain hopeful as every so often my heart becomes nourished enough to continue on. Reminded to stay strongly grounded on why I am on this path for them.