Archive for September, 2007

more on unschooling

So I’ve been absorbing this unschooling way of life through online searches and now reading The Teenage Liberation Handbook. A must read! I’m sure teachers (Barbra!) and everyone can relate.

The author is an English teacher (who quits) and writes the book for teenagers, telling them why they should quit going to school NOW and start living their lives. Very controversial subject I’m sure, but a fabulous read that continues to speak to what we would like to accomplish with our own lives with our own children.

Jason and I are quickly learning we may need to censor our response to questions about school, depending on the situation. I mentioned it at work and got slammed with the “what about socialization?… what about High School?”

I’m not wanting to get into a discussion every time someone asks what grade he’s in, simply for the lack of time. But it is amazing how much traditional school has been ingrained into our culture. Its not much more than daycare and a way to control the whereabouts of children all day, but we attach such importance to it. How could we learn without it? How could we socialize without it?

I think back to all the hours, all the days, all the YEARS I spent in school, only to go home and spend more time on monotonous homework and what did I learn? The little bits of math, science, etc? So little retained except what I need to know to use in my own life. What I learn deeply is the things I choose to learn for myself. What might I have been interested in if my time wasn’t spent fulfilling all of my schooling requirements? What might I have taught myself?

Unschooling is using the world as your classroom. We go to the library and the kids and I grab any book we want. A book about a baby tiger raised in the nursery, after his mother died is interesting AND includes some simple graphs to show his weight changes. I figured we’d just ignore the graphs and read the story at this point, but Isaac wanted to know about the graphs and what kind of story they tell. Math, reading, science, geography…all in one book.

And this goes on every day. No starting his life at 18…starting his life NOW.

Meal Plan Monday 10/1

Oh boy…the kids and Jason got to pick the menu this time. I think I will mostly be eating my own thing separate.

Monday…enchiladas

Tuesday…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Wednesday…burritos

Thursday…Macaroni and cheese (from the box, Isaac specified)

Friday…Pizza night

Xander photography

The artist…

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and his subject…

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Behind the scenes of Royalmom hard at life.

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Meal plan Monday, tardy for class 9/24

It was getting more and more difficult for me to stay on my weight loss plan while still preparing delicious meals for the family. I’m cutting back to my old ways of simple foods for the week.

Monday…we went out to eat

Tuesday…kids and Jason had sandwiches. I had a mess of eggs, onions, mushrooms, tofu and a whole wheat tortilla.

Wednesday…Baked potatoes and veggies

Thursday…spaghetti for the family, maybe eggs and stuff again for me

Friday…homemade pizza? I’ll be at work.

Still like a fish out of water…

…trying to use the flash. I have it off camera, triggering remotely but the settings are not quite right. Too bright on the face, even though I metered for the face. I just thought I’d share my baby steps of progress. Ahhhh! I just had a ah-ha moment…matrix metering, switched over from my usual spot metering. That would account for the problem.

Isn’t that annoying how I just used my blog to think out loud to myself like that? hahahaha!

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Zoe’s dumb or dumber moment for 9/19

The kids and I went across the street to play in the nature area we have and got very excited to find the stream teeming with tadpoles! We, of course, ran home to get jars and caught ourselves five new friends to watch through the change.

When we got back home with them I started to investigate online what we will need to do to set up our habitat and keep them happy. It was starting to look like a lot more work that I had imagined…clean water that had been prepared days in advance, a plant for oxygen supply and frozen lettuce for food each day. But I was up for the challenge and figured out what items we would need to pick up.

Jason gets off work and comes upstairs. He takes one look at our tadpoles and says, “These are fish. Haven’t you ever seen a tadpole before?”

Wow, do I feel like an idiot!

Okay well, I took a picture as best I could. We have the biggest of the group here, and to the right is what the other four look like.

Whatever it is, its floating on its side now. That means we killed it in less than 24 hours. <sigh>

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six months and doing some taste testing

Great grandma Louise’s homemade applesauce. He really did like it, despite the faces.

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What is this texture I feel?

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Not too bad!

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I’m okay!!! don’t start the Heimlich just yet.

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Schooling decisions

Last time I blogged about our schooling decisions (read here), I had been inspired by the Thomas Jefferson Education book and the online charter school was feeling more like busy work that was giving Isaac the idea that learning is no fun.

I have to confess that I chickened out last minute and signed up for another year of Connections Academy. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to teach Isaac to read without a structured curriculum and a set of deadlines to meet. Now, two weeks into school, Jason and I were quickly reminded why we wanted to quit the program.

It really sucks. I don’t know how else to put it. The curriculum is packed with so much busy work and things that are totally inappropriate for a six year old. It was the quiz he had to take about the 5 areas of Social Studies (geography, civics, economics, etc) that put the final nail in the coffin.

We’ve disenrolled him and ordered a few curriculum items to do on our own, at our own pace. We can skip over things as we wish, or get sidetracked with something else altogether.

In fact, as I am pouring over different homeschooling philosophies, I am more and more drawn to the idea of Unschooling. It makes so much sense to both Jason and I, and fits in with our passion for gentle/positive parenting.

Although I was initially confused by the term unschooling, it really is what we’ve been doing all along. When the kids ask questions or show an interest in something, we go with it. We answer thoroughly enough to satisfy the question, we look things up online together, we get out and see things for ourselves if we can.

Kids naturally ask the questions…seeking answers to all of the stuff taught in school plus so much more. Unschooling just allows that to continue and flourish throughout the schooling years, and not limit the child to a set curriculum.

I’m still in the infant stage of homeschooling, so it will be interesting to see where we go with it, but I suspect it will be somewhat eclectic, with a mixture of Unschooling and classic literature reading.

Meal plan Monday 9/17/07

This week is a no frills kind of week. I’m choosing each dinner based on what we have in the cupboard, neglected for long enough.

Monday…Baked salmon and veggie side (this meal is not out of the cupboard, of course)

Tuesday…Taco soup

Wednesday…my mac n cheese

Thursday…burritos

Friday…pizza night

Saturday…probably breakfast for dinner

Sunday… baked potatoes, beans and broccoli

Flash or go home!

My biggest photography goal this year was to get comfortable using the flash. Not the on board flash, but a speedlight that attaches to the hot-shoe on top. The manual has read like another language up until now, but my string of awful (personal snapshots) photography in low light situations has given me the nudge I needed to try again.

Another advantage is it can be used as a second light in my studio, which I badly need.

The past two nights have been spent taking snapshots inside, after the kids have gone to bed and testing the different settings. The manual is actually starting to make sense! Event photography may be in my future. yeah! LOL but its still baby steps.

You can see my starting point here…

First night, I finally figured out why the flash wasn’t exposing properly and finally got a subject. One of my usual metering modes does not work with flash.

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Changed it up again the next night and got an even bigger range of exposure. Who would think I had only the tiny bedside lamps on here? But still quite flat lighting. Maybe firing remotely will be just the ticket.

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and tonight I took dragged the kids into the studio to try using the flash remotely as a second light. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the settings right and will have to try again.

I’ll end up getting two more lights some day. I need a second light on the right, and a hair light/backdrop light. A little too dramatic at times with the single light and he disappears into the backdrop.

Ugh..having trouble getting it to look right on the web.

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