Sunday, December 18, 2011

That Crazy Elf

This year we have an Elf on our shelf.

Her name is Starlight.

Apparently we got a really naughty Elf - she might look innocent but she is not.

Her antics thus far.....

Adorned the tree with underwear

Drank the cooler dry

Dyed the dogs blue (diluted food colouring)

Toilet papered the main floor

Marshmallow war

Fun with the copy machine

Decorated the interior of the family mobile

Elf feast

Elf graffiti - yep it's permanent

Flour snowball fight (also all over kitchen floor)

Brown sugar desert island

Sleeping mustaches

Apologies for photo quality - only had my phone available

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Screen free day

We are screen addicts. There, I said it out loud.

The first thing I do when I open my eyes is check the time on my iphone, then I check my email and facebook and sometimes twitter before I can even fully focus. The reverse happens at night. In between I have my iphone in my pocket all day long and everytime I hear that ping, I pull it out and check my email (unless I am driving or in the company of someone less addicted than me). I check blogs I follow, message boards I belong to. I shop online. I waste many hours a week just surfing and now there's Pinterest which is a seriously enjoyable time waster. Throw in some evening TV and I am amazed my eyes are not square.

G spends lots of time on his computer at work and and then again for sport scores, couponing (shhhh he thinks it makes him less manly!!!), shopping, researching stuff and listening to music on youtube.

T1 would happily spend every waking moment in front of the computer playing Roblox simultaneously hooked up to his itouch watching music videos on youtube. He doesn't care much for TV.

T2 loves TV. She likes some computer sites but she loves loves loves TV.

I don't let my kids have as much screen time as they would like but I am very aware that they have way too much and are not wanting to do anything else, are "bored" if they can't have screens and then there's the whining and complaining when it's time to shut screens off.

Last night I decided that today would be a screen free stay at home day. T2 cried and cried. T1 didn't say much but after breakfast when I asked what his plans for the day were he replied "to go to my room and sulk" - at least he had a twinkle in his eye when he said it!

Our day went something like this.....

8:00 - I announce to the family (and my facebook friends) that today there will be no screens until 5pm. Tears from T2. Grumbles from T1.
8:15 - My iphone has been pinging in the bowl where all the Apple devices are spending the day. I can't stand not being able to check so I power it off and walk away.
9:00 - Read books with T2 and T1 was in his room fiddling with his icoaster.
10:00 - Made cookies. Kids are now playing Lego together and TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER. Dishes are in dishwasher, laundry is sloshing about, my choice of music is playing. I am happy with the morning so far and have started a list of a few things I have to do online and some emails I have to send after 5pm. Kids have not complained since 8:00
I got engrossed sorting through a big box of stuff in the playroom that I had been putting off and managed to sort Polly Pocket shoes, Barbie accessories, toss anything I didn't recognize and return all kinds of things to their rightful homes.
12:30 Lunchtime. I realized that while T2 was crafting independently that she had not asked for snacks the way she does when she watches TV. She ate lunch enthusiastically. T1 wasn't hungry.
1:00 school work. Both kids got their work done really fast.
2:00 I bailed on our agreed screen time ban and let them go do their own thing. They hadn't done what I expected. They didn't whine, complain and shoot me hateful glances. I'm weak and I know it. I sabotage most things I try to achieve but that's a whole other post!

T1 asked to play Wii. T2 asked to go online. I grabbed my iphone and powered it on and was excited to see what I had missed. NOT A THING. Proving to me that the gazillion times each day I check my phone nothing has happened then either but I still check. In 5 hours I really hadn't missed anything except stressful facebook posts from my American friends hastily preparing for Thanksgiving.

I do wish we had kept going until 5:00. As soon as kid shows came back on I realized how annoying the background noise in this house can be.

Tomorrow and Friday we have busy days and the screen time opportunities will be few and far between, in which case I don't mind as long as everything else they need to do has been done. It's days like today when we don't have much going on and I have jobs to do that I would prefer to complete alone and uninterrupted that I rely on electronic babysitters which I am not proud of.

I hope my kids have realized that they can manage to be home, just us with an empty rainy day, without being glued to screens ignoring their toys and each other's company at least until Mom caves.....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our next 'around the world' destination....

A few clues from our most recent library haul. T2 has been showing a big interest in Kangaroos and Koalas so it made sense to check out Australia next. I'm really excited about it and so are they : )

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Could be interesting...

We went to the library today and saw thelady in charge of children's events - she said she had been meaning to contact me about acknowledging the 1,000 library books we read this past year. She has an event happening at the end of September and she would like to invite T2 as a guest. I have no idea what to expect but it should be fun!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stay safe

I'm concerned for those in the path of Hurricane Irene and hoping she's not as powerful as anticipated. Stay safe friends.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is it wrong..... be excited about public schools restarting just because it will mean less kids at the park, library, beach, store and all the other places our days of homeschooling take us? Here September 6 is the magical day and we will spend the day withour local HS group at our annual not-back-to-school-playdate in the park. We restarted HS on August 2 so we are nearing the end of our 4th week already and so far so good : )

Thursday, August 11, 2011


We reached our goal of reading 1,000 children's library books. Exhale.

Apparently T2 will receive gifts next week at the library. This was not a library challenge but seeing our book haul every week did lead to conversations about what we were doing and at subsequent visits inquiries as to how many we had read. Earlier this week I told the librarian that we were only 50 or so from our goal and we were told to go in next week when we have reached 1,000. T2 does not know she will receive anything so that will be a nice surprise.

Hmm now for the next reading challenge.... a mini one is to read every book on her bookshelf and decide which ones to keep. Some of her books get read over and over but there are some that haven't been opened in a while so I am looking forward to that but after that I have no idea....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So close

After a reading marathon tonight we are at 982 books. Tomorrow we'll reach our goal - wahoo!

Reading now

Looking forward to craft filled days in the Fall

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Last year I met an amazing new friend and her fabulous boys who were also new to HS. Despite being a member of a large HS group - I only felt a connection with her. I was happy to know someone who was embarking on the same adventure as me. We bounced ideas off one another, had regular playdates (our kids totally hit it off) some field trips and tried geocaching together. I truly feel that our first HS year would have been very different had we not met. To be able to call someone on a day where nothing seems to be going right, when the kids seem disinterested with everything, when the TV/video games have held way too much of my their attention or when in need of a sanity check - we were there for one another, something I hopecontinues this coming year and beyond.

This year I know a few other Mom's beginning their HS journey and I am excited about that - to have a larger group of local people finding their way, seeking ideas and social time for their kids and themselves will be awesome and may lead to our own spin off group as we are in the same town (the group I currently belong to is spread over the region). It is so fun to share how our life has changed since we left public school with others contemplating HS. I hear the excitement in my own voice and see their eyes begin to glint as the possibilities start to collect in their minds and they realize they can do it, it doesn't have to be just a dream.

HS was a dream for me for a very long time. Many things in my life could be better - I could be more organized, take better care of myself, spend less time on the phone/internet - I could go on and on and on but despite those things I can still say I am living the dream - my dream : )

Monday, August 8, 2011

Final haul

Today we returned our last week batch of library books and selected 55. Our last bundle to take us to 1000 library books read since September. As is typical eyes were rolling and feet were tapping behind us in the line to check out as we had about 70 books in total. We have to take a wheeled grocery cart (not a store one but a thing you can either push or pull) because I couldn't carry all our books each time. This is our second cart - the first one crumpled under the strain - oops. We should reach 1,000 next and then decide on our next reading challenge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The finish line is in sight...

After our most recent reading marathon - we are at 930 library books read since September. I am so eager to get to 1,000 and be done so we can move on to another reading challenge.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Remember me?

So I guess those previous good intentions to post more went out the window but this time I really, really, really mean it!

After a break we started our new school year today. I enjoyed the break but as soon as I started pulling out books and planning for many, many hours I couldn't wait to get back at it.

This year I have divided our year into 4 nine week blocks and it has made it so much easier. We are starting earlier than schools here start so that we can be done when the garden needs attention and to make the most of the warm weather and going places before the kids are done school and the people who summer here roll into town.

We talked about our goals for the year and I took pictures of them to commemorate day 1 of grades 1 and 6.

I decided we should learn Latin using
Our first lesson from it was simple and fun and T2 (now aged 6) was very excited to share what she learned with G when he arrived home from work this evening.

It is so nice starting HS this year because I don't have the anxiety over whether I can do this like I did this time last year.

I can't wait to get stuck into some projects especially art and science.

T2 and I are still reading and tallying the library books we have read. We are at 905 and are determined t9o reach 1000 before September. We would be way past the 1,000 mark had I included reading books we already own but we decided only to include library books and it didn't matter how many times we read it - it only counted once unless we checked it out and read it again at a later date. It's getting hard to find books we haven't read yet at our local small town libraries but we will make it to 1000 be August 31!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What a difference a year makes

This time last year I was losing sleep. I was reading and re-reading. I was listing pros and cons. I was stressing and battling inside my own head. I was dreading the morning nag-fest that was the breakfast routine. I was miserable inside hearing snippets of the events of the day. I was thinking out loud on the phone each day with my Mum in UK to get her feed back. I was so unsure.

Fast forward and here we are. We bit the bullet and withdrew our kids from PS. I planned and read some more and once we knew what we were doing everything fell into place. We are now 6 months into our HS journey and it has been truly amazing so far. Yes there are days when I would love five minutes alone to gather my thoughts but I discovered mid afternoon bubble baths where I can read and soak for a few minutes!

T1 was struggling in PS. I actually think it was harder on me than him in many ways. He was oblivious to some things, not phased by others. I don't think he knew how hard school was for him physically, mentally and emotionally but I could see it. He would stumble to the car, he and T2 would argue all the way home. both wanting my undivided attention. When we got home he would disappear for a while - he needed to decompress. It wouldn't be until around dinner time that he would start to chat or relax and then there would be the homework battles. It didn't matter when homework was done it was a constant battle to get him to focus and get the work done. He would act like it was our fault he had to do it. Often work came home home from school incomplete. Often homework went back to school incomplete. Many days he would complain of head aches or nausea and I would keep him home, often turning around halfway to school rather than to drop him off knowing he was feeling anxious and crummy. The accommodations and Special Ed help he was having helped a little but it didn't tackle the main problem. This was the school environment. It was sensory over load to him - all the noises, the lights, the distracting sounds of a busy classroom. All the rules to remember, the order of things, keeping track of his belongings, prioritizing. Then there were the social issues. Recess was hard - he didn't want to play soccer, other kids didn't want to hang out and talk about science. He spent many recesses alone. It was heart breaking.

Mornings now are calm. T1 has trouble getting to sleep so now he sleeps later and starts the day slowly. This gives me some time to either get some chores done or work with T2 on her school work. When I set T1 some work to do he can choose what order he does it in. He likes having that control and as long as it gets done and he puts effort into it then I don't mind which he does first. I try to incorporate the computer as much as possible because he prefers that to pencil and paper. He eats a good lunch instead of no lunch. At school he was either not hungry due to side effects of the ADD meds or something would put him off eating like someone's smelly lunch or a child chewing with his/her mouth wide open. When he seems overwhelmed he can go and play catch with the dogs or practice guitar for a while and continue later.

That really is just the tip of the iceberg with T1.

T2 was loving school but I still see many benefits from bringing her home. She has learned so much and enjoys the flexibility of the day but she does miss some aspects of PS.

I wish a year ago I would have known how relaxed our HS lives would be. I certainly didn't realize how much I would learn - not only academically but also about myself and my children. I realize how little I knew them before when they spent so much time in PS.

When I see parents from the PS and they ask how HS is going, I can tell they are expecting me to pull a face, roll my eyes and say how hard it is but for the most part it is way easier than keeping track of who has gym/library, who needs field trip money, keeping on top of homework, school mail, school fundraisers and I certainly don't miss ALL THOSE GERMS!!

HS is rocking our world and I don't regret making the change one little bit (but at the same time I do not feel anything negative towards those who choose to send their children to school either)

One of the many, many things...

.....I love about Home schooling is the freedom it gives us. We can plan our day in any way we wish to suit our mood, the weather, appointments, trips, energy level etc. Today I felt we needed to use up some energy and I was bored of walking or playing fetch with the dogs so I called the YMCA where we have family membership and booked a racquetball court. Usually G takes the kids and I make use of the alone time to get some stuff done or just to enjoy some peace and quiet. I had never played before but figured my 11 (shhhh I know my profile says I have a 10 year old but I am still in denial) and almost 6 year olds wouldn't be too judgmental.


T1 watched me miss shots or fumble with a look of despair and even though I managed to return the ball many times - apparently I am just "not as good as Dad" sigh. T2 didn't seem to notice thank goodness!

But despite being a total disappointment on the court to T1 - we had lots of fun. We'll definitely do this again - why oh why didn't I think of this in the thick of winter? Live and learn!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Lesson learned - hopefully

I returned a bunch of library books today. Overdue library books. The fines - $67 - ouch.
This ticked me off - OK they were overdue but all kid books on a kid's card. I think there should be a cap on the amount that can amass. Where I grew up there was no fines on kid books when loaned on a kid card and that remains the same today. Anyway I didn't pay up, I just used a different card which I had to clear the $11 owing on that one leaving me with one other card with $26 owing. It might be hard to believe but I am actually pretty good at returning books. We borrow 40-100 most weeks so there are always a few that get squirreled away in T1's room and get forgotten about or in the side pockets in the van or whatever.

I feel kind of sick about it to be honest. I could do a lot with that $67.....

On a fun note though - T2 and I reached our goal of reading 500 library storybooks. To count each book could only be counted once even if we read it several times and only library fiction counted. We are celebrating tonight and heading to our next goal of 1,000

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some of the things we have been up to

Learning about China ~ Eiffel Tower art ~ Cardinals ~ Math ~ Geometry ~ Russian eggs ~ Donating hair ~ Chinese lanterns ~ Chopstick skills ~ Italian Gondolas ~ Leaning Tower of Pisa ~ Geo-caching ~ Venice symmetry ~ Volcano fun ~ Making pasta