Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shaking My Head

Short note:

We went back to Athena's school yesterday to return something she had forgotten here. The teacher called me in to discuss some concerns.

#1 Socialization (rolls eyes). Athena needs several hours with peers every day. How am I going to manage that?

#2 How will I ever possibly teach her to read? She took the liberty of photocopying the entire Handwriting Without Tears book for me. You know that you start at the top of the letters right?(No, I am a dunce. I didn't know that. Sheesh.)

#3 Here is a note about immunizations. I know you'll want to get them updated and the Public Health Nurse will be doing them next week. (No thank you)

#4 I am leaving Athena's cubicle and mailbox as they are because I think you may be sending her back before long. (Oh really?)

Just thought I'd give you a little chuckle in your day.

Parentheses are mine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Last Week in Pictures

Her idea. A hummingbird of course.

Field Journal

Ready to go to the Butterfly Exhibit.

Copy work.

Decorating Easter bunny hutch

National Geographic Kids Online. Love it!

The first Spring Robin


I can't resist pictures of those eyelashes and freckles.

Yes, it snowed. Yes those are bare foot prints on the deck.

Dyeing Easter eggs

Making a fairy house

This is her interpretation of a horse running.
The week was great but chilly. The butterfly exhibit was excellent. There were butterflies all around us, landing on us. I didn't think we could take pictures but we were allowed. But, the camera was in the car.
A woman came up to Athena and looked at her field journal. She identified herself as a school teacher. She told Athena that her butterfly entries in the journal were "great and a wonderful idea". Then asked her how old she was and what grade she was in. Athena said "I'm home schooled." And the woman nodded her head and gave the "thumbs up" sign and said to us "Good job."
This week, the weather is unseasonably warm. Yesterday was spent outside. The whole day. From 9 to 4. I think today will be the same.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Focus

As you probably know if you have visited here at all, I have changed the topic of this blog as our life situation changed. I am now going to post about our adventures in home schooling.

I will use this space to document our journey along this yet unexplored path. Unexplored, I say, because although I have several years experience with home schooling my older girls, this will be the first time I attempt to do it with an only child. This should prove to present unique opportunities and challenges as well.

I was not expecting to begin quite this early. I planned to begin with first grade in the fall. Due to unforeseen events and circumstances, I found myself kind of scrambling this week. I was under pressure and am still under pressure to get organized. As of this moment, I am not. Not at all.

We did mange to do schooling three days this week. Athena learned to read the first two Bob Books on her own. The gleam in her eye when she realized that she could sound out words was beyond reward for both of us. She has taken them out several times a day to practice.

We did some simple math. A color by number and some rudimentary measuring. We baked two items and she did all the measuring herself. And of course we read books. We spent time outdoors building Fairy Houses and splashing in puddles. We spotted the first spring robin this morning.

As luck would have it there is a butterfly exhibit coming to the city this weekend so we began her Field Journal. She wanted to call it a field journal instead of a nature notebook because of course, Deigo has a field journal. Whatever works. We cut out pictures of the featured butterflies from our news paper, pasted them in the journal and copied their names below the pictures. We hope to find all 8 species this weekend. (Hopefully not the Giant Owl. It is reported to have an 8 inch wing span)

I feel a huge relief at having taken her out of school and yet a huge responsibility now lies on my shoulders. I have not written down my plans yet and that about drives me nuts. I am methodical and organized if nothing else.

But, my husband, my oldest daughter and my dear sister put it all into perspective for me when they told me "Don't forget, it's only Kindergarten." Indeed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Official

It happened again. I got the " Come Hither" gesture. Another informal Parent/Teacher Interview.

(Sigh) Not again.

"Mrs. Payette, can I talk to you a minute? Have you noticed anything 'off' about Athena these past months? No? Well, I am having more trouble than ever. She is so distracted. I cannot keep her attention. I am constantly trying to usher her toward the group. I can't get her in from recess. She is the last one outside and then I can't get her attention to come in. It is getting worse."

And then Athena comes out of her class. The last one again. Of course. She looks exhausted. She looks defeated. And then she sees me. " Mama!" And she puts her boots on and bolts out the door. She runs halfway home. She laughs. She talks excitedly. She is free!

And so today is her last day of school. She has to hand in her library books and collect her things.

It is official. I gave written notice. I am withdrawing her from school.

We are officially Home Schoolers! Woohoo!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Jen and I have been talking about Simple Living lately. She is reading a book called Living Simply With Children that she checked out from the library. Actually, she now owns that very book because her puppy chewed off the cover. Heehee.
Anyway, perhaps because of what she learned in the book, she put away roughly 2/3 of her children's toys. So far they haven't noticed. So I got to thinking about Athena's toys. I weed them regularly and I am sure she has half the toys of most children, but she still has a lot.
They are mostly good quality wood toys like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and a train set. She has wood blocks too. And dolls, and a doll house, and a kitchen set and barbies and... well I guess she doesn't have half of what most kids have after all.
The strange thing is, she doesn't really play a lot with them. She is very busy imagining, pretending, dreaming, creating. All the things a child should do.
My questions are : So what do I do with all these toys? What is your family's philosophy on toys? What kind of toys do your children have? Do they have any at all?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The sun is shining and the temperature is rising. The snow is quickly melting.

Almost spring. Almost. Just a few last days of winter to go. The promise of spring is in the air.

Almost time to start gardening. But just time to plan now.

Almost time for backyard picnics. But we can pretend it is summer, can't we?

Athena and my Granddaughter Eden think so.

Almost time. Time for new life!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Making Room for Yoga

My home yoga studio is waiting for me. Calling to me. Beckoning me to enter in.

Will its teachings be a guide to me?

Will its asanas strengthen my body and renew my spirit?

I reply with a resounding yes!

If I will only make room for it in my life.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Girl In the Striped Pajamas

I really should make the girl get dressed on non school days. Shouldn't I?

She practically lives in those PJs. Well not THOSE ones but pajamas nonetheless. She has gone through the knees of two of them already. Two more to go. I'll cut the arms off and the legs above the knee and she'll be all set for spring!

She has been creating like crazy again. Making costumes, singing her own made up songs. Drawing, painting, coloring, cutting.

She believes she can make anything she needs. Like a car for instance. And I believe she can.

And a little music. Who needs a real flute?

And on a side note, I love my new kitchen clock. I think it will also be good for teaching Athena to tell time with. Nice big numbers with the minutes marked off.

It has been an excellent tool for her to learn the dates of the month. She checks the clock in the morning and goes to the calendar to find the day. She gives a little groan when she sees that there is a big red "S" stamped on the day because that means it is a school day.
But not tomorrow!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sunny Days

Ahem. On a lighter note, Spring has sprung here in Delisle. The weather has been warm. The snow is quickly melting. Puddles form at the edge of the sidewalk and in the morning we get to crack the ice with our boots. 44 years old and I still love doing that. Too bad I have to share with Athena. Humph.

I have been diligently doing my spring cleaning this week. I have the upstairs done. Walls wiped down, baseboards dusted, ceiling fans cleaned and curtains washed. Linen closets purged and tidies, bedroom closets cleaned out and rearranged. The air is just a little fresher...just a little sweeter.

And today I began to work on the kitchen but was quickly distracted by the desire to juice some oranges.
These are organic oranges that one of the neighbors sent over. So sweet, so bright orange, unlike any I have ever seen or tasted before.
They were almost too juicy to eat because as you bit into a slice the juice would come running out. They had to be eaten over the sink for sure.

But did they yield juice! An unbelievable amount. Sweet, pulpy and plentiful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Questions Answered

One of my readers said to me today, "Athena loves school so much. Why are you taking that away from her?"

And I answered in a half hearted, non-confrontational way. A way in which I was not satisfied with at all. I babbled on about socialization and teachers and what not. I knew this question would come up and I was unprepared to answer on the spot. And now, with keyboard in hand and some time to explain, I answer the question. Why home school?

I have always thought that home education was an excellent alternative to conventional schools. I thought that way back when at the time I home schooled my adult daughters. Those three girls would have done well in school had I home schooled or not. That is the kind of kids they were. They were all different from each other to be sure, but they were the kind of children that teachers loved. They were well behaved, smart, kind and well suited to the classroom. The reason we chose to take them out of public school was because my oldest daughter was so influenced by her peers that frankly, I was scared by it. ( I was a young mother and had three little girls by the age of 20) I did the home school thing for several years and sent them merrily on their way to high school.

But now... but now, I have little Athena. She is quite different from the older three girls. In fact, I have never had nor seen a child quite like she is. She is smart as a whip. She has a unerring memory. She has an imagination that amazes me. She loves animals and nature. In fact, she just loves. Everyone and everything.

She is not, however, a cookie cutter kid. She doesn't sit still for long periods of time. She day dreams. She flits from one thing to the next at times. She is so inquisitive and so naive. She is happy. Every day. EVERY day. She struggles to get herself up and out of the house for school in the morning. She is totally exhausted when she comes home 6 hours later. It takes a lot out of her to be in class that long. It takes something away from her sweet sweet spirit. Dims the twinkle in her little eye just a little bit.

And so, after much thought we have decided that for now, it would be best for her to remain at home for her education. At home where she is accepted for who she is. Where she is unconditionally loved. Where she can learn at her own pace. In her own way and in her own time.

She'll be at home where she can be outside, in nature for more hours in a day. Where she can run and play and just BE. Home, where her imagination can run wild. Where her curiosity will not be stifled, where her questions will be answered. We will learn to read and write. We will learn mathematics and history. We will learn science by experiencing it. By staying up late watching the stars. By watching the moon and change of seasons. By seeing a garden grow. By watching the wild animals around us.

And socialization, the question everyone asks. She will play with other children to be sure but she will learn to relate to people of all ages, all religions, all ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life instead of being put in a class with children only her age and then be scolded for talking to them at all. I don't worry about the socialization thing one bit.

Of course we will evaluate this decision year by year to see if it is still in her best interest. But truth be told, I know in my heart of hearts that this is the right thing to do for THIS girl at THIS time in THIS place. It is not the easy choice, to be certain. I have been a Mama for 27 years and the thought of having some time to myself is pretty darn appealing. But like I said, I am a Mama, and Mamas do what is best for their children no matter what the cost.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Home Schooling Information Overload

So now the cat is out of the bag. Most of you know already. We have decided to begin Home Schooling in the fall. Maybe sooner. This decision was not made lightly. We have thought it through and through and it is not up for debate. We feel a real sense of peace about having made this decision. A decision we believe is the right one.

Oh my goodness. I think I have read/perused/scanned/studied every home schooling book our library has to offer but I have to make some decisions as to what method we will use.

I am no stranger to home education as I had my older girls home for several years. The first year was a horrendous mistake. As a new home schooler I used a workbook/Q and A type curriculum. It was not good and worse, it was very very boring. We went on to do unit studies in future years and that was much better. However, my philosophy of education has changed since then and Athena will only be at the first grade level.

I like a lot of things about the Waldorf Method and Charlotte Mason and Classical Education as well. Oh, and Montessori. I cannot forget Montessori. My daughter sent me some links which all look appealing. Enki Education. Christopherus Homeschooling, Oak Meadow. And the list goes on.
I know that I can integrate parts of all of the things I like and that would be suitable for Athena but I still need to have a definite plan.

The Prairie Spirit School Division that we are a part of requires that I submit an educational plan, complete with the resources and curriculum that we will be using. And, it has to be in by the end of May. So, now that we have decided to home educate, I have all the logistics to take care of.

I really like the unschooling approach as well, but I must say that it does scare me a bit. Okay, a lot. I am a methodical person and that part of me needs some plans. So if you have anything to say about this, any wisdom or any advice, please feel free to leave a comment or email me if you like.

I would really appreciate some feedback from any home schoolers, past or present. Thank you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Caught in the Act!

Yes, this is one of the joys of having a husband who works at home. You can't get away with ANYTHING.

It was a very mild day yesterday and I couldn't resist the urge to go out to make a snowman.
Yes, I did it by myself. Athena wasn't interested.

It wasn't until I was almost done that she came over to help add the finishing touches.

And after Paul said "You finally got to make your snowman. All by yourself."It didn't "click" (pun intended) until I was reviewing the pictures on the camera.

Like I said, you can't get away with anything.

And last but not least here is my sweetie pie to give you a little smile.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


We did it. We had it done. And it feels great! Although we have virtually the same haircut, Athena says she looks cute and I look like a boy.

There were mounds of hair on the hairdressers floor. Mostly hers. All the grey ones were mine.
And I titled this post cropped when I likely should have called it Scalped.
I don't think I have EVER had my hair this short.
Not to worry, it will be back soon. It always is. But I kind of like it.