Monday, June 28, 2010

Homeschool Mom

I've been scouring the internet for free materials to use with Olivia, so I've got homeschooling on the brain. I stumbled across a site the other day with the following ad for a homeschool mom. Some of the responsibilities and characteristics apply to all mothers but other parts are more specific to homeschool moms. I had to share it!

Now accepting applications:
Family seeking fun-loving, godly homeschool teacher. Applicant will be responsible for providing total educational development and daily personal care for children of multiple ages. Applicant will assume the following roles: cook, housemaid, nurse, taxi driver, administrative assistant, accountant, athletic coach, social director, computer technician, household and automotive repairman, gardener, course instructor in multiple subject areas and grade levels, and various other responsibilities. This is a full-time position — approximately 120 hours or more per week. Qualified candidates must be able to work well under pressure, multi-task, and prioritize work loads while maintaining a friendly, enthusiastic attitude. Quick thinking, good memory, and a varied background in extensive subject matter are a must. Promising candidates will be resourceful, adjust easily to distractions, and display creative, hard-working leadership abilities. Organizational and problem solving skills are a plus. Previous teaching experience and/or college preferred, but is not required. If you're interested in working in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment, this is the position for you! For more information on this exciting opportunity to earn fulfilling, one-of-a-kind rewards, please apply in person today.

I also found some great homeschooling advocacy products at CafePress. Here are a few of them that I may just have to order.

You might be homeschooled if... t-shirt
You know you are a homeschool mom when... t-shirt
My mom is the principal... t-shirt

There are also bumper stickers and t-shirts that say "I have seen "the village" and I don't want it raising my child."

In the next few weeks I'll share some websites that have free materials and activities. These are not just for homeschooling. They have worksheets that could be used if your child needs extra practice. Some of the activities and experiments would be fun to do with your kids during summer or spring break.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Music for Children

We love music - listening to it and playing it. I started playing the clarinet in the 6th grade and played it through high school. I also picked up the alto sax in high school. I can play tunes on the guitar and mandolin but never learned the chords. (That's one of the many things I'd like to do.) Hubby plays guitar (chords and melodies) and took some piano lessons. We used to play guitar and mandolin together quite frequently...before kids. Kids seem to take up a lot of time! And it's hard to play when a 2-year-old is plunking on the strings. Hopefully we'll be able to play more as the kids get older.

Olivia and Jesse like listening to music and playing around on the keyboard. Lately Olivia has shown an interest in reading music and picking out tunes. I've been helping her with the notes - we've been talking about their names, where they are on the keyboard, and how many counts they get. I plan to include music in our homeschooling. I want to study music not only for its own sake, but it will help her with math. Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes = fractions! Music and math are closely related. Scales follow a pattern of whole steps and half steps. Chords are also mathematical. It's not uncommon for people who do well in math to do well in music and vice versa.

I've been trying to expose Olivia (and Jesse, too, when appropriate) to a variety of music. Olivia has been to Phantom of the Opera (Dallas), Riverdance (Orange), Lord of the Dance (Tyler), Oliver (community theater), The Little Mermaid (university theater), and others. Both kids have been to programs the library sponsored that featured bluegrass, harp, and opera. We have plans to take them to Beauty and the Beast (university theater).

You might check with your local university or college and see what they have to offer. They probably have child-friendly performances. They may also offer Kindermusik or music lessons. If you're not in the Nacogdoches area, these sites will give you an idea of what you may find in your area.

Below are a few websites I found this week that I plan to use when working with Olivia. Although my husband and I have lots of sheet music, not all of it is suitable for beginners. These sites offer a variety of music - from quarter and half notes in the key of C to more complicated pieces.

Blank Sheet Music Print blank sheet music. You can add treble clef, bass clef, time signature, and key signature.

Music Tech Teacher Lots of things to print, including treble and bass notes and ledger lines on the staff, sharps, flats, major scales, rhythms and rests.

8Notes Free sheet music of varying degrees of difficulty and for a variety of instruments.

Take a Piano Sheet Music Break Free piano music of varying degrees of difficulty, as well as lessons.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

I'm making my first batch of yogurt tonight! I've been wanting to try this for a while, but I thought you had to have a yogurt maker. I looked at several yogurt makers online and was unsure about which one to get. Luckily, before I ordered one, I found the directions for making yogurt in a crock pot. Since I already have a crock pot, it makes sense to try this method first.

Here's what you do (this and more info can be found here)...

Plug in your crock pot and turn it on low. Add 8 cups (1/2 gallon) of whole milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

Unplug your crock pot. Leave the cover on and let it sit for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, scoop out 2 cups of the milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup store-bought yogurt with live cultures. (After you've made a batch, you can keep some of your homemade yogurt to start a new batch.) Dump the contents back into the crock pot; stir to combine and replace the lid. Keep it unplugged and wrap a heavy bath towel around the crock pot for insulation. Go to bed or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened, but it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt. If you want, blend in fruit. Chill in plastic containers in the fridge. It will last 7 to 10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter for your next batch.

My yogurt is currently at the "let it sit for 3 hours" stage. At 11:30 I'll add the 1/2 cup of store-bought yogurt. In the morning I'll have homemade yogurt! I don't know about you, but I get tired of buying all those plastic yogurt containers that don't recycle (at least they don't around here). I've been using some to store things like beads, crayons, and marbles for the kids, but I've still got a huge pile in my laundry room. (I wonder if a local daycare might be able to use them for crafts?) I also like to save money when I can. Today I bought a quart of yogurt for $2.28 and a gallon of milk for $2.68. After some calculating...If I end up with 2 quarts of yogurt, I will have paid $0.67 per quart (plus $0.29 for the yogurt I used as a starter). Not bad!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Potty Training in 3 Days

Do you believe it? I'm thinking about trying it. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about elimination communication. I was going to begin a modified version the next day. However, one (or more) of us has been sick for two and a half weeks, so I didn't think I could focus on it. (Some of us are still ailing.) Since then, I've read about some other potty training methods. I didn't know there were so many!

Here's the 3-day training method in a nutshell. (Actually, it's 3 days of intensive training, but there are 3 months of follow-up.)

The month or so before you start, make sure your child is exhibiting signs of readiness, clear your schedule for 3 days, make up a "potty dance" for successes, start educating your child about using the potty, and buy/borrow several potty chairs (one for every main room and bathroom).

The week before you start, show your child a stack of diapers and explain that starting Saturday (or whatever day you're starting) he won't need them anymore and he can be naked and diaper-free. (Oh, yeah. Did I mention this is a bare-bottom approach?)

On Day 1 of potty training, your child goes naked below the waist. Eat pee-promoting foods and drink lots of liquids so your child gets lots of practice. Watch your child - when he starts to pee or poop, whisk him to the potty. Perform your "potty dance" for any amount of success. If your child has an accident, remind him that pee/poop goes in the potty and have him help you clean it up. Tell your child it's time to use the potty before nap and bedtime. A diaper is ok for sleeping.

On Day 2, follow the same guidelines as for Day 1, except that everyone gets to leave the house for 1 hour in the afternoon immediately after a success. Your child wears loose pants with nothing underneath. Bring a travel potty and a change of clothes just in case.

On Day 3, follow the same guidelines as for Day 1, except that everyone gets to leave the house for 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon immediately after a success. Again, your child wears loose pants with nothing underneath. Bring a travel potty and a change of clothes just in case.

Thereafter, your child will probably take himself to the potty. For the next 3 months, your child goes naked below the waist at home and wears loose pants with nothing underneath when he goes anywhere else. Diapers or training pants are ok for sleeping.

For further details, click here. There are also some books about this method. Here's one. Here's another.

One of my reservations about this approach is the naked factor. I might be able to handle 3 days of nudity, but 3 months?! (If Jesse were a girl, I'd just put him in a dress.) Another reservation stems from the fact that I have carpet in most of my house. Maybe my sister-in-law will let me move in for 3 months. She has tile everywhere...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Down Under

Under the weather, that is. A couple of weeks ago we went to my parents' house for a few days. You may remember my sisters were visiting and our zoo trip was cancelled because several people were sick. Well, we brought their "crud" back with us. Olivia got sick the following Saturday. She had fever for a few days. She's still coughing but seems to be mostly over it (so she's wrapping up her second week of the crud). Jesse got sick at the beginning of this week. He started off with a terribly snotty nose and now he's got a little fever and is coughing. Probably due to the drainage and his inability to blow his nose. Anybody know how to get a 2-year-old to blow his nose?? Hubby's been straddling the fence between "well" and "sick" for a couple of weeks. I woke up with a sore and swollen throat Tuesday. It's still pretty sore, but not too sore to enjoy my ribeye for supper.

In the past two weeks we've bought 48 lbs of oranges, 12 lbs of apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, pineapples, and watermelon. We've been eating some and juicing some. We've had chicken noodle soup. Actually it had rice instead of noodles, so I guess we had chicken rice soup. We've also been drinking lots of water and tea. You'd think we'd be done with the crud by now. Alas, that is not the case. It looks like this would be a good time to buy stock in "Throat Coat" tea.