Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Accidental Homeschooling

Well, it sure has been a while! Those cute little Cub Scouts? One is a Boy Scout and the other is a Webelos Scout getting ready to cross over in about a year! The "baby" will be a Tiger Cub in the Summer. Tempest Fuget! Oh - and remember the Very Hungry Quilt? He won a BLUE RIBBON!!! Those red vests are also so full of patches that I don't know where I am going to put Andy's last one. It is also time for this year's Pinewood Derby Cars. Not sure what they are making yet.

What brings me back to this blog is camper #1 - Andrew. We have been battling and struggling with the schools to get him what he needs for the last 7 years. He has an IEP granting him the bare minimum of services and it is carried out to the minimum extent that it can be. Add in the fact that he is just "different" so he gets picked on, teased and bullied. He isn't the type of kid to act out, tantrum, yell etc. (That is Ryan's role in this family). He internalizes and I am left watching him get angrier and withdraw. I don't know where this will take him. Will his PTSD symptoms start rearing their ugly night-terroring heads or will he just snap and go off on someone? It seems like it may be the later, because he understands what is going on - even if he acts like he is oblivious. If that is the case I am afraid someone will get hurt. He is far bigger than most kids his age and doesn't realize his size. He is also a fairly passive and sedentary kid until he finds himself in a competitive setting and then he doesn't hold anything back. Recently, the thought of school has literally made him ill. He has an anxiety attack triggering his asthma and he coughs until he vomits. We have an advocate and we are working with him to do what is best for Andy.

What I have been thinking is that maybe it is time to try something new. Maybe it is time for homeschooling. I've been doing all kids of research. Looking all over the internet and talking to many homeschool parents with a variety of approaches. It occurred to me, when I remembered that I had this blog, that what we were doing with Daddy Day Camp was actually Home School for the summer. I wish someone told me that then... We could have gotten here sooner. 

What we have settled on for now is to supplement his school work with an on line program. If we decided to pull the plug and go the HS route, he will do this full time supplemented of course by Scouts and all the cool stuff we normally do as a family. I figure, if you can get an MBA online, you can certainly finish the 5th grade. right?

We have selected Time4Learning as the online program. It is an entirely online program on a subscription basis. I love that I can add the other two for the summer as well. So far he is taking to it like a fish to water. He focuses on it and actually asks to use it. As a matter of fact, I'm going to end this post now because he is nagging me to go do some science! I will post a full review after we have had a chance to get used to the program.

The links in the sidebar will be updated soon too. Welcome back.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pinewood Derby - Cars Under Construction

I realized that putting all of the Pinewood derby pics into one post would be pretty photo-heavy, so I will post the building of the cars as a little tease.

Being an engineer, it was pretty tempting for me to want to tell them how to build their cars, but it is really important that they learn the how and why. The race isn't about winning - though that is the goal. It is about learning and having fun. BUT when there are power tools and xacto knives involved, the adults do need to help them out.

We spent one Saturday googling images of Pinewood Derby cars for ideas. Then, they set to work building the cars... (The grown-ups helped with the power tools and sharp objects.)

Andy (Bear):

Ryan (Wolf):

Colin (Sibling): He had to get in on the action, so we bought him a car kit, helped him put the wheels on and the paint job was ALL him!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sewing with a 3rd grade boy

First, we made so- called "brag vests" for their Scouting patches. #2 let me make his. thanks. I printed out this pattern. I bought some of the quilters Tru Grid and ironed it onto heavy weight sew in interfacing. I transferred the grid from the paper pattern and cut out the fabric one. #1 traced the edges with chalk, cut it out and sewed the shoulder seams. I had to help with the grommets - they were tough. All that was left was to thread the lace and sew on the patches!

Next we got to work on his Hungary Caterpillar quilt. He wants to show it in the guild quilt show. He finished the last two blocks, bordered the squares and assembled the top. I showed him how to spray baste the quilt sandwich. I'm showed him how to quilt by machine. We did stitch in the ditch around allof the borders. Next, I'll show him how to quilt around his designs by hand. I need to track down some more of the Eric Carle fabric for the binding. I don't think I have enough left. Here it is ready to be quilted!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Family Camping Tips - Part 4

Random Tips and Hints

Microfiber towels (the ones for auto detailing) absorb a lot, pack small and dry fast. VERY handy if it rains.

Speaking of towels… having a clothesline on the campsite is great, but take the stuff in at night. Dew, fog and passing showers can leave your towels soaked (trust me on this - I learned that lesson the hard way!)

Line a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil with some parchment. Place a serving of meat and veggies and season. Wrap it up and cook it in the coals. Do the prep work and home and the clean up is as easy as tossing out the wrapping (which can double as a plate!).

Pack each outfit in its own large Ziploc. Be sure to label the bag with the person’s name. This help organize the packing and the bag. This also prevents dirty clothes from getting the clean cloths dirty before they are even worn. Have the kids help pick out their own clothes.

Use plastic tubs - one for food and kitchen stuff. Another for campfire tools, kindling and fire starters. Maybe one for the beach too…

Limit the kids’ toys or stuffies to one or two “musts”. toys can be left at home, but a deck of cards or a board game can come in handy. Video games etc. might be great for the car ride, but lock them in the car for the duration of the trip.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Family Camping Tips (Part 3)

Mom is on Vacation Too!
Both my mother and mother-in-law hate camping with a fierceness that my words alone can not convey. Why? Well, the sad fact is that the jobs of housekeeper, chef, cruise director, nurse and referee all seem to fall on Mom’s shoulders. Having seen my own mom live through that, I see her point. I, however, choose not to fall into that trap. I’ve found that with a little preparation, planning and organization I can relax and enjoy my vacation too!

*Get organized! Make lists - lots of lists. What to pack, what to buy, and don’t foget to plan the menu. There will be lots of prep and packing tips in my next blog entry.

*Delegate. Give everyone some jobs to do. For some reason I’ve never figured out, kids are more willing to help out at camp - even it they don’t at home.

*Do your Homework. When it comes to meals do your prep at home where you have the conveniences of all your gadgets … and running water. Store your chopped, seasoned and measured ingredients in Ziploc bags - don’t forget to label them! Add marinades to your meats right in the bag. If your trip is more than a couple of days or its is really warn out, freeze your prepared meats for the later part of your trip . They will defrost before you need them and help keep the other food cold.

*Caveman like fire! Men seem to be drawn to the fire. Add in some raw meat and most men are glad to do the cooking. Cooking directly over the fire or in the coals also cuts down on the cooking tools you need to bring as well as clean-up.

*Leave the dishwashing to the dishwasher. Use disposable plates, cups and utensils. If it is a short stay, toss the dishes into a trash bag and bring them home to wash. Cooking directly on the fire eliminates pots and pans. If you do need to was pots and pans be sure to use an environmentally friendly soap and do it in an approved area.

*Keep meals simple. There is no shame in cold cereal for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch. Put a hot dog on a stick and cook it over the fire (my kids’ favorite meal!).

Next up… some more helpful tips and hints.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Family Camping Tips (Part 2)

Plan Ahead
Keeping the kids involved adds to the excitement and enjoyment of the trip. Even kids as young as toddlers and pre-schoolers can help in the planning process.

*Stake out a site. Talk with your family about the types of trips you’d like to take. Where do you want to go? What would you like to do when you get there? Hike? Fish? Sightseeing? From there, the adults can narrow it down to a few choices then go through the brochures and websites with the kids. If the camp site is local, take a ride and check it out ahead of time. We did this for our first tent outing and it went over well. We were able to take a look at all of the sites and see which suited us best. We also got to check out the parking and restroom facilities. We talked to some campers and met the Park Ranger. All of which made planning go quite smoothly. (hint: state and local parks may be low on amenities, but can be quite inexpensive.)

*Take them shopping. Browse the web sites, catalogs and the local sporting goods stores. Let the kids check things out and see what they like. Be sure to point out both the pros and cons of their choices.

*What’s for Dinner? Getting the kids in on the meal planning is a sure fire way to get them to eat their dinner - even veggies! Keeping meals simple means less food and things to pack. Doing the prep work at home is easier than in the woods.

*Make a list. Make a list of everything you think you’ll need to pack - from the tent to the food to extra socks. Check things off as you pack them. Save your list until after you return from your trip. Cross off the things that you didn’t need. Add in things that you wish you’d brought. Be sure to note anything that needs to be repaired or replaced and save it for your next trip. I keep a current doc file on my computer, print it out for the packing and mark it up by hand as I go and when we get back, then I’ll edit the master list.

*Lay down the law. Go over camp safety rules before leaving home and again once you get there. Set boundaries for your kids to stay within. For younger kids, tie ribbons to trees and let them know that they cannot go past that without you. (be sure to take them down when you leave!) If your kids are visual, make a poster

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Family Camping Tips (part 1)

When it is cold and snowing and blowing; when the yard is already full of snow people; when it is too cold to go sledding without frostbite; when you'd rather be toasting marshmallows on the campfire than put them in your hot chocolate; I like to indulge the kids and toast marshmallows, cook hot dogs and pop popcorn in the fireplace. I also like to start planning for the warmer weather. It is a good time to replace or upgrade the old camping gear, take an inventory and google some new destinations. This year we are going to ditch the air matresses for cots - A bit of an investment, but a worthwhile one for us. It looks like our first trip will be the Cub Scout “Famoree” in late May - closer than we think!

Getting Started
Camping can be a much needed break from the pace and pressure of our high-tech society. It is the perfect chance to unplug from the gadgets and plug back into our families.

My husband and I were both kids that have camped and now we are parents that camp with kids. Having been on both sides of camp fire has really taught to think each step through. The first can be the hardest. Where to go? What to pack? Camping gear can be a big investment, but you can sample before you buy. Here are some tips to get you started:

*Talk to friends, neighbors and other parents (scouts, PTO, sports, etc.) Campers in your area are probably your best resource. They can help you find places to camp, rent or buy gear locally. They may even be willing to lend you some gear to give it a try.

*Buy, rent or borrow the basics. What you bring will depend on a lot on where you are going, how long you are going and the ages of your children (babies always mean more stuff and camping is no exception!) Start with the basics- food, shelter and clothing.

*Try it out! take that tent for a test drive in the back yard (or maybe even the living room). This serves a few purposes. First, the grown-ups (and bigger kids) a chance to practice setting it up and make sure all of the parts are there and in working order. Don’t forget to waterproof the tent and even leave it up in the rain and see how it does. The kids will have a chance to explore acclimate to their new home away from home. Surprisingly, it may not be enough to tell the children that they will be sleeping in the tent, they will likely want to pick our their “spot” in the tent. (Some painters tape on the floor to define their “rooms” can avoid a fight or two.) A back-yard camp-out is a great way for the kids to try out the outdoors and still feel safe.