Going better

A new day has dawned and it appears to be a better one than yesterday. Today math has been completed with not a bit of yelling, screaming or hitting (from anyone, though I'm referring to Stella performing these things.) Do you think it's because I "laid down the law"? I'm not that idealistic, I believe that a different Stella emerged from her bed this morning, one that didn't mind doing a bit of math before playing. It would be nice if we could only do schooly things on days when she's of a mind to do them, but sadly, if I waited for that day, it would never come. Once she figured out I was waiting for that day, she'd be SURE it didn't happen.

You see, Stella is a strong minded kid. She knows what she wants. She will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. If you described a CEO that way, people would praise her (probably him, but let's break the mold, shall we?) But in a 7yr old, people see a defiant child who needs to be put in her place. I see a person who needs some guidance as to how to get along in society. For instance, if you don't want to go to the store, even though we need, say food, sometimes you have to suck it up and go. It is completely fine to say you don't want to go. It's ok to not want to go, even to HATE going. But you cannot hit people just because you don't want to be at the store. I'm not trying to change her thinking, just her way of expressing herself so that she doesn't so negatively impact others (and herself - seriously, who wants to be around a raging tornado?)

It all sounds good in theory. In practice, it's touch and go. But today, I'm going to enjoy the kinder, gentler Stella that has graced our presence :)


My niece had her baby today. A healthy girl. Mom & baby are doing well. Adoptive parents are rooming in at the hospital with the baby.

I am happy for a new baby being born, a family who has so wanted children finally having one. But I am also sad thinking about what my 16yr old niece must be going through. I know this was her choice, but no matter what choice she made, this is a tough, tough day for her.

We aren't close, my niece and I. We are separated by distance, religion, family values...but I still wish I could be there for her physically and emotionally. Let her know that it's ok no matter what she's feeling. It's ok if those feelings change over time. But there is no way to be there for her. The things that are being told to her by those closest to her will over-ride what I say because I'm not there on a daily basis. Because I'm the one with all those weird (ie wrong) liberal ideas (about everything, pretty much.)

Stella told me today that she hopes she doesn't have a baby when she's a teenager and not ready to be a mom yet. I hope so too, Stella. Know that I will give you, and your sister, the tools of self-esteem, family support, unconditional love, and comprehensive sexuality education that will help you make better choices.

Laying down the law

By the time I got up this morning at 10am, Sandis had already finished her school work. She wasn't dressed or anything, but she had done her English, some reading in geography and a section in math.

When I saw Stella, there was already fire in her eyes. Her brow was furrowed, her chin tilted down defiantly. She yelled, "why do we always have to start school just because you get up!" Realize, at this point, I was simply hoping to use the bathroom and hadn't said one word. Things went downhill from there. We spent 5, yes 5, hours going round and round about her 1 section of math (2 pages), 3 pages of English (identifying which letters should be capitalized) and 5 pages of geography (not full pages, mind you, pictures filled up most of the space.) This amount of work, if you did it slowly, might take an hour. But she had to yell, throw fits, scream, kick, scratch, cry and shriek over the injustice of it all. Why couldn't she do one thing an hour? She couldn't do it because I kept talking. How could she work when Sandis was breathing?

I laid down the law. This was over. It was her fault and no one else's that her work wasn't done. If someone was bothering her, she could go in a room by herself with her work, there were many choices. If it was too hard, she could ask for help. There would be no more yelling or screaming or hurting of people. She is expected to do her school work and her chores. If she can't do that, I can start calling schools and find one for her.

My expectations are not that high. I don't make them do that much in volume or minutes per day. I don't make them do that many days per week. I don't make them work above what they are capable of doing. She just doesn't want to do what she doesn't want to do. It's frustrating, aggravating and draining.

I repeated my rules to her several times today when she was not doing schoolwork - no yelling, screaming or hurting of people, you do your work. We'll see how tomorrow goes. I am not optimistic. The only thing that worked today was telling her she was staying in her room until she started working. And for every 30 min in there, she lost 50 cents of allowance. I hate playing that game, but I am out of other options.

Friday, not so TGIF

Today might be Friday but it's not an end of the week celebration for me. Friday nights I work, and Saturday morning too. Plus this weekend is chaos weekend.
  • Brian and Stella fly to Wisconsin to retrieve our new-to-us-but-really-quite-old car that his parents are giving us (yeah in-laws, they are wonderful and generous and I love them.) Today we have to pack and get them to their shuttle. They started out complaining about packing but now are actually done, hooray!
  • Because Brian will be gone and I have to work, Sandis is going to a sleepover tonight.
  • Of course, she has soccer tomorrow and I have to work, so it gets more complicated. I got someone to cover part of my shift so I can get off, run to her sleepover and pick her up, then zip straight from there to soccer.
  • We wouldn't want it to be that easy though, so it's her day to bring snack for soccer! I have to somehow have cut up all the apples and oranges for halftime - but not too early, you know, because otherwise they'll be dried out. Oh, and keep the drinks chilled too.
  • Thankfully, I did work ahead and ran to the store during her practice yesterday to pick up the snack supplies (can you believe I remembered?!) Good thing too as I have no car today because Brian's broke down AGAIN last night.

After that, it gets easier. We don't have anything scheduled after soccer until Monday morning quasi-school (which Stella may or may not miss, depending on if she can tolerate driving straight through or not.) Sunday will be a wonderful Sandis & mommy day :)


Lest you think I'm trying to portray myself as perfect or that my parenting/homeschooling journey is all rainbows and unicorns and flowers, this is what I posted on Facebook today:

Shawn wants to throw away her children, especially the younger one. The whining and throwing of things has resulted in many trips to the bedroom to calm down (them, not me, so far.) Apparently nothing I've asked Stella to do today makes sense - including nouns, place value notation, not throwing scissors at her sister, and having to pick up her own toys. Sandis is just generally ornery and whiny today. Maybe I need a drink, it is after noon....

  • Stella, "I'm making a pile of all things stupid and hard. Cleaning isn't hard but it's in the stupidness pile."
  • Stella, "This math is to hard." Me, "that's not math, it's..." Stella, "it doesn't matter it's stupid"
  • Stella, all sugary sweet, "if I finish my school work, can we go to the store for m&ms?" Me, "if you can do your school work and chores without being a butt..." Stella, "nah, can't do that."

And I thought this video posted by my friend in response was hilarious!

Learning in action

Today was a perfect, absolutely perfect, day to be outside. Sunny but cool and crisp with just a hint of autumn in the air and a few leaves beginning to scatter themselves on the ground. The fall perennials were showing off their magnificent blooms just daring those summer flowers to say they are the best. It was pinks and purples and oranges and yellows exploding from the flower bed.

So what do we do on the perfect day? We attend High Plains History Fest, of course! A fellow homeschooling mom has set up oodles of field trips for NCHA and this was one of them. The Greeley Centennial Village is transformed back in time 100 years and volunteers come and show the kids how many things were done then. You can never see all the exhibits/demonstrations in one day, it's simply impossible, but we were able to take in quite a few. We did/saw:

  • Lonetree School house - experiencing what school would have been like in a one-room schoolhouse, complete an explanation with how early you had to get up to get chores done, how far you had to walk to get there, how there was 1 reader for the entire 6th grade class, etc.
  • Trolley - a refurbished trolley and how it would have run
  • Telephone - how a crank phone worked
  • Fire house
  • Printing press - this was fascinating. The man doing this exhibit went into great detail about how printing worked then, all while keeping the kids interested and engaged. They all received a card printed on the press as well
  • Blacksmith - always a favorite
  • Corn shelling
  • Potatoes - a visit to the Monfort house and a short talk on the history of potato farming in CO
  • Corn grinding - on rocks with rocks!
  • Chuck wagon - a tale of cowboys, their food preparation and branding of cattle
  • Washing - everyone washed a sock on a washboard and rung in out in a ringer before hanging it to dry
  • Tortilla making - hand made flour tortillas
This was our third trip to the History Fest, but that only made it all the more fun for the girls as they knew which things they for sure wanted to do. They missed out on Rattlesnake Kate's story this time as she was absent when we went by there. Also at the last minute, they decided they wanted to make rope, but alas, it was time to leave. Next year maybe we'll be able to make rope, see the fiber arts and china painting as well as tour some more of the houses they have at the Village.

After the History Fest, the girls got hair feathers from a Groupon deal we had gotten. We made it back home in time to have an hour before we head out to a play at the Library. Greek and Norse mythology in some short plays put on by the Library's Theater Pals, at least one of whom we know. Should be fun. And we should be more than ready for bed tonight!

Trying to organize

See while we are unschooly, I still crave order. Yes, it's mostly chaos but in an effort to make my life simpler, I created a document to organize what the kids (and family) do for each day. Things do tend to go better when they know what's on the agenda. Less whining to watch tv. I don't mind free play and exploration (in fact, I LOVE that) but I don't like vegging in front of the tv or computer or kids fighting with each other. And see, the schedule is flexible - we can fill in whatever there is to do! Tomorrow there is no schoolwork, only a field trip, hair feathers appt and a play. :)

We'll see how well it works/how long it lasts. Stella will hate it, I'm sure. Though she'll enjoy the highlighting.

Day: ______________________________________________________________________________

highlight completed items

Morning things

Brush teeth, comb hair, put on deodorant, get dressed, eat breakfast, feed/water dog



Clean kid stuff off kitchen table and floor

Pick up all kid stuff from living room and hall and put away

Straighten up bedroom



Feed/water dog

Do dishes

Get clothes for tomorrow

Last call for food at 9:00

Why yes, I do need to have on the list things such as 'put on deodorant.' Sad but true.

School has (finally) started

Yes, we have started our homeschooling year. It kicked off with a bang! Ok, well, without whimpering, so I count that as success equivalent to a bang ;) So far....

Monday - Options. Mondays we don't do any formal schooling because they go to their quasi-school. The main success of the day was the lack of tears. Stella only missed me once and was quickly distracted by her class and didn't have time to break into her anxiety-ridden hysterics.

For the record, Sandis is taking GeoBlaze, Investigative Science, Digital Storytelling, Artistic Designs, Culinary Creations and Ancient Civilizations. Stella has Music and Movement, Artistic Designs, Wee Chefs, PE, The Great Pretenders and Spanish. Both like all their classes so far, though Sandis claimed some were boring because they aren't starting the real stuff until next week. But she is also quite happy that her friend, dubbed Wild-Child by his mother's blog, is in all but 2 of her classes.

Tuesday - Math. Yes, we only did math because the afternoon was Girl Scouts. For GS I have one of the family's children staying until her brother wakes up from nap (so 2 hrs after GS) AND Sandis goes to their house to play. Needless to say, GS+playing from noon-4pm means no schoolwork happening. BUT, Sandis did FIVE, yes FIVE math lessons yesterday. She asked Brian and I both if she could do another section. "No, honey, I'm afraid it's only 1 section a day." :P Stella did her one section without complaint. Yes, Stella's was the bigger surprise.

Wednesday - We're doing math, geography and writing, and another GS meeting later. So far, not much complaining. Stella's, "we have to read from page three to seven!" isn't holding much water. The kid can read like nobody's business, and complain even better than that. Have I told you about the time we were driving cross-country and she was complaining she wanted to stop. We said that the GPS said it was 400' to our destination and she screamed, "400 feet! We haven't even gone 400 feet all day!!!" Yeah, she's an awesome complainer.

I'm sure that you are thinking, "I thought you said you were unschoolers?" Well, we're unschooly. Different in that I make them do some things - but I find a curriculum that they like and make it work for them. Spelling, writing and math are the ones I focus on with things like history and science coming much more organically. I want lots and lots of time for those explorations and following of their own paths, so we don't spend a ton of time on formal schoolwork.

"But I see geography on your list for Wednesday?" Yes, that's because the girls have had lots of questions lately about where in the world things are. And then about maps and globes as I've shown them different things there. So we're doing some stuff about that. In other words, following their lead.

"But what about Options? How can you make them go to school if you are unschoolers?" Because they LOVE IT. Being unschooly is about being child-led and if they like and want to do it, then they can! Honestly, if I was truly child-led and they wanted to go to public school, to be true to my word, I would have to let them go. Not sure I could go that far, but I am surely able to send them to Options where they get to do fun stuff all day. And, I get a day off of responsibilities. I take the day for MYSELF. I read, watch bad tv, hang out with friends, knit...even run errands or clean, if that's what I want to do. But the time is mine to spend how I wish :)

Now, since I've begun writing this, the year has entered the whimpering stage. Stella is in full whine-mode. That girl could spend all day alternating between watching Phineas and Ferb and jumping on the trampoline, I swear. Sandis, I can strew and she eats it up. Stella needs a bit more direction, unfortunately. Doesn't she know I'm lazy? Sheesh!


It's finally September. One of the best months of the year. There is the beginning of autumn with its beautifully colored trees, earthy smells, cool weather and crunchy leaves. The fall asters are blooming and the ornamental grasses have their beautiful plumage. There are all the lovely squashes to eat, harvests in which to partake, corn mazes to avoid ;) You can sit in the sunshine and not be too hot. You can wear your favorite sweaters again. It's football season, finally. It's back-to-school time which I remember fondly from childhood as being a time of new clothes, shoes and school supplies. And a new metal lunch box with my favorite characters on it, complete with matching thermos. It's a time when I can finally bring my knitting back out (I can't stand a lap full of wool in summertime.) Ah September, I love you so much. If you had Halloween and no 90+degree days, you could be my favorite month. Alas, you have to sit behind October in the favorites list.