Saturday, January 21, 2006

Teeny Tiny Classroom 8

DS really wanted a classroom, a place to call his own, a place to show off. Doing school at the kitchen table or living room just didn't give him the ownership he was craving. I would be willing to bet that we will still do school in both places in addition to the new room, though.

DS decided on the theme for the room and aside from the white board, he did all the poster placement, all the underwater creatures. He is very proud, and so am I.

Had my DS not gone to public school for three years, I doubt we would have ever made a school room. He recently confessed to me that about the only things he missed about public school were the cute decorations. He misses a few of his teachers, but we do stay in contact with one and see the others occasionally because we are in a small town.

Teeny Tiny Classroom 7

This corner has all our history and science. Plus some math manips. There's a cigar box on one shelf. When I was a kid, my dad smoked El Producto cigars. I always had cigar boxes as pencil boxes in school. I figured we needed to carry on that tradition. They're just good boxes.

Teeny Tiny Classroom 6

The door and closet. (Who designed this room? You have to close the door to open the closet!) DS designed the big white board thingamabob on the door. We used white foam board on the door with 3M strips, then taped the boarder to the foam board. I got it really crooked, so was glad to cover it up with the boarder. We'll hang our calendar here, maybe some weekly assignments, too.

Teeny Tiny Classroom 5

Looking out our door -- there's the tail end of the dog and the tail end our timeline. The timeline is coming down. DH thinks it's ugly, and I guess I have to agree. We've taken down many of the pictures already. We'll be using a three-ring binder with card stock instead. I'll be re-painting the hallway to boring beige as the blue is just too blue.

Teeny Tiny Classroom 4

Looking at the corner, you'll see some reference books, tons of glue, and some of our school books.

Teeny Tiny Classroom 3

Because this is such a small room and there's not a lot of accessable wall space, I used my favorite 3M poster strips to attach a medium-sized white board. I'm afraid I will miss my big white board in the kitchen.

Teeny Tiny Classroom 2

Here's my granddad's ugly rust-colored chair. It is comfortable and comforting to me, though. There's my most prized possession, my trunk. It is ugly to most, but beautiful to me. On top of the trunk is our desk apprentice that we loved and used daily in the kitchen. My kitchen will now be just a kitchen, so it followed us here. Also note the tool box that DS made in Cub Scouts. He's very proud of it, and rightfully so.

Welcome to Our Teeny Tiny Classroom

Looking in from the door. There's a brand-new cheapie table, two brand new baskets for projects and library books. The Alphasmart is on the table, as well as the car pencil holder that Grandpa and DS made together on our visit this summer.

Oh, mom, quit embarrassing me.

Meet my son. I have told him:

It is okay to still like Thomas the Tank Engine even though you are 10.
It is okay to still like your stuffed animals.
It is good to be true to yourself.

I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful child. He's a good kid.

The white cat is real, a constant companion to DS. A favorite play thing of dog.

Meet our dog

This is our dog. We adopted him from my dad who adopted him from a sweet
young thing in Indiana. He is really a fantastic dog. Dog was born a Hoosier, lived in Colorado, and now calls Minnesota home. Everything is wonderful about him except that he likes to "attack" the white cat on a daily basis and we don't like his name: Jerry Lee. I use his name, but he's also referred to as: Dog (something I have called every dog I own, so it's not a negative thing) and "Quit humping the cat." This dog gave my son a premature education. Ahem.

Friday, January 20, 2006

This is my kitty

She's just like me, persnickety.

Monster Math

DS has enjoyed using these to learn his multiplication tables. We actually bought them two years ago, but he still likes to play with them just for fun. Gotta love Amazon, which is where we bought them.

You Can Count That As School

I once had a homeschooling friend who always said, "You can count that as school, you know" regarding almost anything. Her descriptions of what she counted toward school were rather broad. Child watches an ant walking on the sidewalk for 30 seconds -- bingo, "You *can* count that as science."

I don't. I just count it as life.

Anyway, I've been debating counting today as school or not. We are *still* working on the homeschool room. Silly, it's only 9 x 9 and it's taking us forever. DS decided on his theme yesterday, we went and bought some teacher stuff -- boarders, room decorations, etc. We've been cleaning, organizing, decluttering, shimming book cases, and decorating.

To count it as school or not -- hmm, I choose not. Our schedule we turned into the school district counted taking Monday and Tuesday off of this week because the public schools had both days off as well. We did school those days. So, I'm just going to count this as a vacation day.

Where does one draw the line on counting school days? I know that when DS was in public school, there were many times they watched movies -- not the educational types -- as rewards. They played games, did puzzles, etc. So, I guess I could count that stuff as school.

Personally, I just count all that stuff as parent/child intereaction or just doing kid stuff. Kids learn all the time and DS works hard enough doing his regular school that I don't need to count all the other stuff. To me, it's just part of being a good parent, it's just part of being a kid.

So if DS wants to go watch an ant, he is more than welcome to. I'm not counting it as school, I'm just counting it as life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

May we do school in the car tomorrow, mom?

Okay, he didn't say "may" he said can. At first I thought no way. Then I decided to "open my mind to the possibilities."

So tomorrow morning, we'll get up and get ready. I'll start the car and let it run 10 minutes to warm up, waste gas and pollute the environment, and we'll drive through McDonald's for hot cakes. Then we'll drive to one of the many lakes in our town. Then we'll sit, with the car running to keep us warm, eat our breakfast, be sticky with syrup, and attempt to do math.

I can envision it now...a beautiful morning, maybe 10 degrees if we're lucky, hopefully no wind blowing, looking over the lake with its abundance of ice huts -- think of the movie Grumpy Old Men.

Ah, life in small-town Minnesota.

I grew up in a big city. Moving to small-town Minnesota has been an assault to my system. There is *nothing* to do here. This adventure we're planning tomorrow is the most excitement we've had since -- since we went on vacation. I am going to have to quit reading blogs because I get green with envy when people talk about art classes, science classes, or visiting museums. I just dream of the possibilities living in a larger community -- or close to one. We're a couple hours from any large-ish city. school it is. In January. In Minnesota. Eh.

What's on TV this week?

Here are some shows we may watch this week:

Science Channel This Week:

January 21st: Building the Impossible: Roman Catapult

Discovery Channel:

1-17: Mythbusters
1-18: Extreme Engineering: Super Servant: The Shanghai Express
1-20 Egypt Untold
1-21 Extreme Engineering: Bridging the Bering Straight

Travel Channel:

1-18: The Wild Seas of Iceland
1-20: Mysteries of the Smithsonian

The History Channel:

1-17: Ben Franklin
1-18: Modern Marvels: Towing
1-21: Modern Marvels: Cotton

Monday, January 16, 2006

Home Ec for Boys

I think it's extremely important to teach boys "home ec." I've been teaching DS all his life. DS knows how to clean bathrooms, how to properly wash dishes my way as opposed to his father's way. ;-) He can dust and he can vacuum. He knows how to spring clean as opposed to regular weekly cleaning.

My son has learned to sew by hand. His favorite sewing activity when he was small was to sew the patterns in paper towels. On the back burner is a grand project of making a quilt. That will probably be started this summer. DS has also learned to crochet.

He's been making a mean grilled cheese for a few years now. He can prepare scrambled eggs and omelets. He has made many boxed cakes. He can bake cookies.

I decided it's time to start "real" cooking. That's difficult when the teacher hates to cook. We started out by working on our Webelos fitness badge in Cub Scouts. We have gone over the food pyramid many times before, but we covered it again. One of his projects to complete this badge is to plan a week's worth of menus, making sure he gets all the required food groups. That's a difficult task for a child that hates vegetables. (And he wants to be a vegetarian, too! -- The vegetarian who hates veggies lol)

Tonight for supper, I let him make a very special dish. We don't make it often because it's not very nutritious. The dish he prepared was my grandma's beef and noodles. My grandma was born in the late 1880s and died in the 1970s. (I always have to throw genealogy into my blog!) She never cared about fat content in meals, so this is a high-fat goodie.

DS started by making homemade noodles. He had a lot of fun with that, except having sensory issues, he hated the sticky feeling of the dough. Here's the recipe he followed for grandma's noodles.

1 C flour, not sifted
3/4 tsp. salt

Mix together with fork

2 egg yolks
1/4 C. half and half (we used fat free)

Mix liquids together. Form a well in the middle of flour, pour liquid in, then mix. Use hands to do this. Dough should be soft, not sticky. Form ball, cut in half. Roll out to the size of a large pizza, flour. Roll second ball out the same, and place on top of the other. Use a pizza cutter to cut noodles. Make them small and thin, because they'll swell up when cooking. Let dry at least two hours.

We made two recipes of noodles. (That's why it's not very nutritious!)

Once that mess was all cleaned up, I taught DS to use the crockpot. He put the roast on, poured water in, and forgot about it. Grandma always used a pressure cooker, but since I hate to cook, I don't know how to use our pressure cooker. (DH loves to cook) Plus, those things just scare me.

After his roast cooked for six hours, he took it out of the crockpot, and shredded the meat. He then learned how to skim the fat off the juices. He put the roast back in the crockpot, added the noodles, then poured boiling water from the tea kettle until the meat and noodles were covered. He then cooked it for 45 minutes.

He was thrilled. It was SO good! DS doesn't like meat and always has to thank the animal before he eats any meat. So we had to thank the cow, and then he enjoyed it tremendously! This is one of those meals that really sticks to your ribs.

I think the next time I make it, I'll use egg beaters and unbleached flour along with my fat-free half and half.

It's just the most wonderful feeling in the world for a mom to sit back and watch their child learning. He was so proud of his accomplishment. Mom and dad enjoyed it very much, too.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I'm Not Ready for Monday This Time

Nope. No repeat of last week. There are two loads of laundry left to do, three baskets in my bedroom that need put away. The kitchen is a disaster. There are no dirty dishes, but there is stuff...stacks of books on the kitchen table, stacks of stuff on the big counter. I've been working on that homeschool room today and things that didn't have a home ended up on the kitchen counter.

DS did not get to bed on time. His new 9pm bedtime has worked well. Tonight at 9 my sister called, got off the phone with her, DH was sawing logs on the couch and DS was getting away with being up past his bedtime. I made him take a shower and when he got out he was complaining yet again about his hair being too long. I grab the scissors and give him a nice haircut. Darn it all, I like long hair on boys. Why do I give him the choice of wearing his hair the way he wants rather than wearing it long, like I like? Oh, yeah, because it is his hair. Hmph.

Got the hair cleaned up, swept the kitchen floor and got DS to bed.

Came to surf and have been sitting here for way too long. I blame it on the fact I had a Diet Coke for supper. I'm getting old now and caffeine keeps me up now. I usually drink Diet Rite when I want a pop, but DH got me a fountain pop --mmmm, love fountain pop.

Our local schools have tomorrow and Tuesday off. We had planned on taking tomorrow and Tuesday off as well, but I just can't justify it. Neither of us is "needing" a break. I think I'll take these two days and use them some other time when we're starting to climb the walls. I figure toward the end of February, when spring fever starts to hit. Maybe we'll go to a motel and swim.

Ah, it's Monday morning already. It's going to be a several-cups-of-coffee morning in a few hours.

Homeschool Rooms

We started our homeschool journey last year. DS was in third grade. Before we started, I cleaned out our unfinished basement, painted a few walls, set up some bookshelves, found a card table and some chairs, made some posters and hung them and bought a clock for the wall.

It was cold, it was dreary and we hated it.

We quickly found the kitchen table. It was the perfect spot, the heart of the home. I could cook (aak!) I could do dishes, while still supervising DS. (DS is the type child that needs constant supervision or else his mind wanders aimlessly.)

I like the kitchen table. It suits me fine. It was my great-grandma's. Six generations in my family have sat at that table. DS informed me that he doesn't like the kitchen table. It's too tall. It's too messy. (Mom stacks tons of books on the table.) He wants a school room.

At Christmas, I decided, due to DS begging, to make our spare bedroom/genealogy room into a homeschool room. DH had three weeks of vacation. Perfect time to get it done. Not. I emptied out the room two weeks ago and we've been tripping over the contents since. Today I got serious.

The room had been painted white. White walls, white ceiling -- blaring white. I did that awhile ago because it was going to be my genealogy showcase. I bought beautiful black frames for my ancestors' photos and thought the contrast would be great. The room was also to house two or three of my trunks.

Well, now the room holds my granddaddy's ugly burnt orange rocking chair. It holds two of my trunks. It has three book cases. There's a stack taller than me of my genealogy files. There's no room for a table -- at least a card table.

So, what's a mom to do. DS is begging for a school room. I thought we could buy a small, bistro table. Big enough to hold his math workbook, or to hold paper to write or do artwork. Looking online, the price is a little more than I want to spend.

So, I started searching the net for ideas. I came up with a solution that I think DS will like. I'm going to have DS make himself a PVC table. Dirt cheap, he can take ownership in it, and it can be taken down if need be. I found free plans at this website:

This is not how I had envisioned this room. However, if it makes DS happy, I'm willing to give up my grand ideas. I know PVC tables aren't the prettiest things in the world! Neither is my granddaddy's chair, though. It will work. The price is definitely right.

I'll post a picture when we finish this task. The only thing I'm unhappy with is the ugly carpeting in the room. DH has the new wood flooring for the room, he's had it for three years now. He just hasn't installed it. I'm done waiting on that, as I don't have the skills to do that myself.

Time to search the net for free posters. Time to run to the hardware store. Hopefully I can cull enough books so that everything will fit in the three bookshelves. Maybe it will be nice having a homeschool room.