Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let the Season Begin!

Last night was the first official baseball practice.  Eleven of the twelve boys showed up and were ready to play ball.  They had their gloves, bats, helmets, and bags.  Most were in their full baseball attire. You could feel their excitement.

Getting ready to bat.

They ran onto the freshly groomed field to play catch.  A few parents were tossing balls to the boys.  Little Man took his place among them.  He had a big grin on his face as he ran onto the field.

Ready for the pitch!

The coach spoke to the parents before the practice.  He asked for volunteers to help as assistant coaches.  I found it so ironic that parents want their kids involved in baseball, but won't commit themselves to volunteer.  All the dads that were there seemed to have an excuse.  "I would do it, but..."  Most of these dads said they will be at every practice and game.  So, why won't they commit?

The coach has squeezed this into his busy work schedule.  He has personal/work conflicts on a few dates.  If he cannot find reliable assistant coaches, the boys will not be able to practice or play when he has to be gone.  The National Guard won't let you call in for a baseball game.

So, why did he decide to coach?  He wants his son and my son and other boys to be able to play ball.  He wants them to learn to love the game and have fun.  He doesn't want a kid to sit the bench and watch the other nine kids play.  He wants them to learn that winning isn't everything and one must work together as a team to accomplish their goals.

Now, my own husband cannot commit and I don't  want to seem hypocritical.  He has said he will help any way he can, but he has prior commitments of teaching Aikido and covering classes at the dojo.  The coach knows this because he takes Aikido.  My husband has also agreed to sponsor the team.

Since, Hubby cannot commit, I have volunteered myself.  I have taken on the position of Co-Team Mom and score keeper.  Now, I just have to learn how to keep score!  I would coach, but feel that a team of little boys really need men out there coaching.

So, here is to a good season!  A season to learn, a season to have fun, a season to make memories.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy 11th Birthday!

Egee turned eleven years-old today.  I cannot believe that eleven years passed by so quickly.  She is the kindness, most gentle, loving child.  (Unless, you are her brother!)  She always does her best and worries if her best is enough.  She is my snuggle bug.  I love being around her and enjoy our mommy-daughter days.  I could not have asked for a better daughter. 

Having birthday fun at Mr. Gatti's

She loves to dance!

I want to keep her little, but know she must grow and become the woman that she is destined to be.  I look forward to this journey in a bittersweet way.  For, I know what it is like to have a wonderful adult relationship with my own mother.  I am so blessed to have a good, solid foundation with my mom.  I hope and pray that I will have that same relationship with Egee.

Just minutes old!

Not too sure about her first birthday cake!

So, here is wishing Egee another wonderful year of a fleeting childhood.  As she likes me to sing to her:  Happy, happy birthday!  Happy, happy birthday!  Happy, happy birthday!  You're eleven years-old today, yea!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Standardized Testing

With the proposal of H3478, I have noticed the uprising against standardized testing across our nation.  It seems that homeschooling families are not the only ones against standardized testing.  I know that standardized testing was one of the reasons I chose to take my children out of public school.  I hated teaching to the test and my child hated taking these tests.  Fortunately, I was able to quit my job and become my children's teacher.

Why must we test children?  What purpose does it serve?  Who really benefits from these test?

Why must we test children?  The answer is to see what they know.  At least, that was what the government and schools tell parents.  Testing has become common place in our schools. 

When my daughter was in public school, she was tested in the fall, winter, and spring.  The MAP test she took was standardized, but could not be taught to.  The electronic based test offered a range of questions in reading, language arts, and mathematics.  When she got a question right, the next question would be harder.  The test tried to see exactly where she was academically.  The PASS test that the State mandated was taught to.  If the teachers did not teach directly to this test, the children would not be able to obtain good results.  All it seemed my daughter was doing was spitting back facts.  She was not learning.  She was just memorizing.

What purpose does it serve?  The schools receive funding based on test results.  If a school has good scores, they receive incentive monies.  If a school does poorly, they receive grant monies to help them improve.  How does this benefit our children?  It allows them more resources to help prep them to better take the test! 

So, who really benefits from these tests?  The companies that make the tests!  Yes, testing has always been about making money.  It was not about helping children succeed.  How many of you take a test every nine-weeks or so at your job to help you become a better employee?  If you had to take a test that often, could you really do your job?  Would knowing the employee handbook verbatim make you better at your job?  What about memorizing all the data sheets, UPC codes, diagrams, etc. that you now just look up on a computer or in a book?  Do you remember every formula to every math problem you have ever worked?  What do you do if you forget something?   Look it up, right?  Why can't children look it up?  Oh, yeah, we 'forgot' to teach them that!

I would rather my child know how to look up information and find an answer, than to regurgitate countless, useless facts.  When did it become a shame to have to look it up?  I had high school students that had no clue how to use a table of contents, index, or dictionary.  They barely knew how to use a computer search engine!  You say kids are computer savvy.  No, they are game, YouTube, and text savvy.  Our educational system has turned so many children off to learning that they live in a fantasy world to escape.  They want nothing to do with learning outside of school, because so many of these kids have been labeled with some kind of learning problem.  How did they get that label?  Testing! 

As a homeschooling mother, I don't have to test my children to see what they know.  I spend every day with them.  I sit with them while they do their school work.  They ask me questions when they don't understand things.  We work out the problem together.  Then I watch them work another on their own.  We discuss what went wrong or right and they will continue on their own.  When they get items wrong in a lesson, I sit with them and explain the process again.  If I know the items missed were just because they rushed, I have them correct their mistakes before going to the next lesson.  I don't need a standardized test to tell me where my children are in their learning.

Yes, I am lucky.  I am not having to sit with thirty or more students.  This could not be done with thirty or more students.  I know, I've been there!  Testing does have a place at times.  Tests, however, are not used appropriately in a classroom setting.  In today's schools, there is no time to go back and reteach a concept.  The standards must be covered (not learned) because the high stakes test is coming!  If a teacher went back to reteach a concept because half the class did poorly on a test, then there wouldn't be time to cover all the standards.  So again, the focus is not on learning, it is on testing.

When H3478 proposed that all home schoolers should take standardized testing the home school community banned together in opposition.  Yes, some test and others do not.  If a family chooses to test, they choose what standardized test.  The parent uses the information to adjust curriculum to meet the child's needs.  The parent does not teach to the test.  Freedom from testing allows us to tailor our curriculum to our children.  If a workbook or textbook is not working for us, we can change.  If our child decides that dinosaurs are the best thing in the world, we can design our classwork around dinosaurs.  The main thing is our children are learning and love to learn!

When was the last time your boss asked you for your test scores to see if you qualified for your job?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Starting Plants

I have decided to try and start plants from seed for the garden this year.  I have not tried this in the past and decided to give it go. 

I read on another blog to use clear plastic cups.  So, I went to the store and purchased potting soil mix, clear plastic cups, and seeds.  I needed to start my plants sooner rather than later.

Potting soil and cups in the wheel barrow ready to be scooped.

Once home I began filling my cups with potting soil mix.  I filled the cups up within an inch or so from the top.

Next, I brought the cups into the house and wet the soil.

After the soil was wet, I added my seeds.  I started 20 pea seeds.  Even though pea seeds can be directly sown into the ground this time of year, I did not get early germination last year.  The seeds sat and sat, so I am going to (hopefully) transplant seedlings into my garden this year.

I started 10 Roma Tomato plants and 10 heirloom tomato plants.  I have never tried growing tomatoes from seed.

Plastic wrap was added to the tops to keep the moisture in the cups.

After, I had all the cups planted and labeled, I decided to start onions, carrots, and chives.  I used little plastic food containers.  This is purely an experiment! 

Food container greenhouse seed starter.

Containers placed on the top of the pantry cabinet.

Everything out of the way!

Hopefully, I will have germinating seeds in a week!

The Onion Experiment part 2

Here are more pictures of the onion experiment.  The kids are busy trying to predict if we will get onions from all three groups.

This onion has really been on a growth spurt.  It is the one that we used the cut bottom root portion for the experiment.

The roots just continue getting longer.

Here is our whole onion that had little roots to begin with and had sprouted leaves at the top.  The roots are really starting to grow!

The top has added a bit of growth.

This is the top cut from an onion.  The leaf has grown downward into the water.  We are starting to see mold growth on the onion and no root growth.

The leaves on top have not grown.  The children don't think this onion will grow a new onion.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Rally in Opposition to H3478

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Rally on Thursday.  However, it looks like there was a good turn out.

So, how does H3478 stand today?  Well, we can't say it is dead.  The bill will not 'die' until the end of this legislative term (two years away).  We can say we have had a small victory.  Three of the four sponsors have removed their names from the bill.  Representative Brannon had said he requested the bill to go no further in subcommittee, but has not removed his name. 

Many of us have contacted Mr. Brannon by email, phone, Facebook page, and letter.  We ask him, why has he not dropped his name from bill H3478.  However, we have not received a response.  He does not respond to his constituents.  Why?

I would like to thank the representatives that support home schooling.  They understand that parents must select the best way to educate their child.  Parents need choices be it public school, private school, charter school, online school, or home school.  Even our State Superintendent of Education understands this and supports a parent's right to select the best way to educate a child.  Why can't Mr. Brannon understand this?  
As a home schooling community, we must remain vigilant.  We must monitor all legislation that threatens our rights to educate our children as we see fit.

Building Boats

Mr. Jack built upon last year's boat lesson and incorporated last month's bridge building during home school class.  The kids always get excited when they see the straws, foil, tape, and water.  The mission was to build a sturdy boat.

Everyone set out to make the strongest boat.  Triangles were being made from the straws.  Foil was being folded.  Most of the children made a flat bottom barge type boat.  They lined the bottom with triangular supports.  Discussion over how tall the sides should be, should there be an overhead structure, should the sides be supported, etc. filled the room.

The girls are busy building their boat.

Some children worked in groups and pairs and others designed their own boat.  The smaller children tugged at their mothers to help build a boat.  Other children summoned their mothers to be the official tape dispensers. 

The boys decided to make their own boats.
 After the majority of the children finished building their boats, Mr. Jack began testing the designs.  The children stood around the testing table and anxiously awaited their turn. 

Mr. Jack tested the boats using rocks.  He had four small rocks with a combined weight of about five pounds.  He also, had a large rock that weighed about five pounds.  The children wanted their boat to hold all the rocks.  Unfortunately, only one boat was able to all the rocks.  However, none of the children were disappointed with their boats.  If their boat didn't hold as many rocks as they wanted, they went back to their table and worked on the design.  Mr. Jack would test the new design.

Little Man's boat being tested.

The girls' boat is holding four rocks.  Can it hold the big one too?

What a fun class!  The children love being engineers.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


We finally got to see the white stuff! 

Yesterday, Little Man was outside in shorts playing basketball.  Today, we have an inch of snow!  Only in the south.

Egee and Sally B watching the snow fall.
Going out to inspect the snow.
Making a snowball.

This is our first snow fall in since 2011.  Last year the children were so disappointed.  So needless to say, they are excited.  We better enjoy it today, because by tomorrow it will be gone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Party

Today, we went to the Homeschoolers' Valentine's Day Party.  It was a busy morning.  We had to get school work done before the party.  When you have two excited children, school work is the last thing on their minds.

The children had a great time making Valentine mail boxes.  Thanks to fellow home school mom and her idea of turning cereal boxes in mailboxes.  Everyone covered the boxes in scrapbook paper and decorated them. 

Little Man and his buddy S-Man decorating their mailboxes.
Egee busy decorating her mailbox.

Egee's finished mailbox.

Little Man's mailbox.
Soon, it was time to deliver Valentines.  The children carefully placed their Valentine cards in to the other children's box.  They all had a wonderful time.

Delivering Valentines.
After the 'delivery', it was snack time.  Cupcakes, brownies, strawberries, cookies, and other goodies tempted the taste buds.

Enjoying snacks.
Everyone had a great time.  Happy Valentine's Day! 

MeeMaw's Swiss Steak

During my youth, we ate many meals at my grandparents' house.  Sunday dinners and Saturday suppers with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were common.  The philosophy of MeeMaw (my mother's mother) was the more the merrier.

We always had plenty at the dinner table for all.  I wish my children could experience the dinners of my childhood.  Yes, we get together at my parent's house and have big meals with my sister's family.  I am sure, to my children, these meals will be just as important, as the meals I enjoyed while young.   There is just something mystical about childhood memories.

I try to bring some of the meals that I enjoyed so long ago back and share with my children.  While I prepare the meal, I share with my children memories of those fond times.  I hope that one day, they will share the stories with there children and yes, add to them favorites from their MeeMee and me!

MeeMaw's Swiss Steak

1 to 1 1/2 lbs of round steak or cubed steak (Round steak was very common for us to eat and had the little round bone.  However, today you cannot buy it with the bone or sometimes even find it at the grocery store.  So I have substituted cube steak.)

1 tbs cooking oil
1 can tomato sauce
1 large sliced onion
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Cut steak into individual sized portions.

Place oil into a large skillet to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Cook on med-high heat.

Place steak into the skillet, salt and pepper to taste and fry the steaks until done.

After the steak is done, add the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and onions.

Stir the ingredients and cover the steaks with the sauce.  Cook until onions are tender.

Once onions are tender, it is time to eat!

Serve with mash potatoes and veggie of our choice.  My kids loved this!  Egee is not a big steak fan, but said she liked the steak like this.  Hubby isn't that big on tomato type items, but said this wasn't to tomatoey(sp?).  In fact, he ate the leftovers for lunch!  This will be another recipe to add to the repertoire of supper meals.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Onion Experiment

Two weeks ago, we started our onion experiment.  Can an onion be grown from the chopped off bottom of a grocery store bought onion?  Little Man said yes and Egee is saying maybe.  So, we are conducting the experiment.

I needed an onion for supper and we saved the bottom.  Here are the beginning pics.

The roots are very small and brown in color.

Side view

Onion placed in water.

After two weeks, you can see the roots have really taken off. 

The kids are amazed at the growth.  Egee is starting to change her mind.
A small bump is forming on the cut surface.
This pic shows the raised portion better.

Today, we have decided to add two other onions to the experiment for comparision.  We have added the cut off top of one onion that had already started to grow leaves and a whole onion that had started sprouting in the onion bag.

The green spots are where I cut through the onion.

Green stems of the cut onion.

This is the whole onion.  You can see the roots are dry looking.

The green leaves already growing on the whole onion before we placed it in water today.
 Next week, we will post more pics of our experiment.