Curriculum Junkies, Unite!

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing

So that’s what next year sort of looks like for Big. I run our school schedule from January to January, so this stack will be for 2011. Both my kids have birthdays at the end of the year, so it just makes sense to start a new calendar year, a new age, and a new school year all at the same time.

Although…now that I am looking at that picture, I can see that some of that will be started this Fall (the second semester of this school year) and some of what I have planned for next year isn’t here yet. And none of Little’s preschool-y sticker books or Hidden Picture puzzles are in it. Plus there will be some mom-created geology and US geography in happening, and lots of critical thinking excercises, and I may save the Nutrition until Little is old enough to do it with us, and there are always a few of those lapbooking-unit-study-tangents to chase… that picture doesn’t really represent anything specific at all, does it?

Huh. Oh well, you know how it goes. I have an overall picture of what I want to accomplish in any given school year, but if we finish All About Spelling or Math-U-See (two programs I am married to, forever and ever, amen) ahead of schedule, we’re not just going to sit on our hands and wait until the next year comes around (as long as I am linking, I may as well proclaim my love for Real Science 4 Kids, which is trés awesome. also Evan-Moor).

Who am I kidding? I do have an overall picture in my head of what we need to accomplish, but that is backed up by approximately four hundred and seventy-three excel spreadsheets, meticulously detailing curriculum options and sorted by age, all the way through high school. I have an excel spreadsheet for everything I do. It’s an illness.

*Curriculum Fair!

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing

So I went up to the home school curriculum fair last week. I saw a couple of speakers, bought a bunch of school stuff for next year, and stayed BY MYSELF in a hotel for 3 nights. 

My frugal nature beat back my wish for a spa pedicure and room service and only allowed me to stay at Hotel Relatively Inexpensive. They provided mind-numbingly-loud air conditioning and forty channels of soccer (soccer = wtf? I did hear tell of a match where one of the teams scored an entire goal. Sounded absolutely riveting. I’m sorry I missed it).  I had to fix the stupid toilet myself because it was running constantly and driving me nuts. Not only the noise, but did you know that a running toilet can waste up to two hundred gallons of water per day? The guilt got me. However, the hotel did have a little fridge and was right across the street from a Target, so I immediately went over and loaded up on Mocha Java ice cream and Pringles. There was a bit of an awkward moment when I schlepped actual grocery bags though the lobby of the hotel, because nothing says “classy” like making four trips to your car for a three night stay away from home. And wearing a six-dollar t-shirt while doing it. I was rocking some cute shoes though. 

I LOVE to shop for school supplies. I’m a curriculum junkie. However, I did restrain myself mightily this year, and not just because some of the vendors I was looking for weren’t there. Frugal Deb was harshin my shopping vibe. 

I am settling into the programs that I like and am planning to use over the long-term, but I would have liked to see more vendors there. I do a lot of research online, but there is no substitute for seeing it with my own eyes and deciding if my kids would find the material engaging. I was disappointed that that I couldn’t find most of the things I was looking for, so I don’t know if I will go next year. It will depend on the speakers. 

I did notice last year when I went that all of the speakers seemed to have a specific worldview. Some of it I agreed with and some of it I didn’t. I shrugged off the stuff that I disagreed with and happily immersed myself in the shopping. But since then, I have found out that apparently CHEC does not let vendors in who are not “Christian” enough. Or something. I don’t know. I don’t know why they would deny Sonlight (which is definitely a Christian company) a spot because they use Usborne books, when I saw Usborne books at other booths. Or maybe because they have not come out firmly with a company-wide young earth position? What about the other vendors? I am unaware if The Critical Thinking Company even has a position on Christianity, never mind the specific age of the earth. Ditto for Miller’s Pads and Paper, The Rainbow Resource Center, and the two politicians that had booths there. AND the cost to get in was $80! Which I think is prohibitively expensive, especially considering I couldn’t even FIND any history or geography. I mean, the average home school family is trying to make it on one income. Maybe CHEC should be a little more concerned about that reality, rather than examining the metaphysical beliefs of every vendor. 

Don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that private organizations have the right to run things the way they see fit. But keeping people out because they do not share the exact same beliefs as you, down to the smallest detail, does not seem like a good business plan. Or a good evangelical plan, for that matter. And being so inconsistent about it isn’t really working for me either. So we’ll see if I continue to attend. It’s a bummer, really. Because I do get so much out of going – just being around my own kind is refreshing. And there is a lot of encouragement to be had from the speakers – I saw Shirley Solis give a talk on Living Books, and it inspired me so much, I accosted her in the bathroom to tell her how swell she was. 

And seriously – can we talk about the young-earth vs. old-earth controversy for a minute? Which I didn’t even KNOW existed until about a year ago. I’m not sure what my position is on this issue, but I don’t think St. Peter is going to be standing at the Pearly Gates with a quiz on how many years ago Creation happened (oh…sorry, that’s the wrong answer. And you were so close too! You can catch the Down Elevator right over there). Are churches really being torn apart by this? It’s not that big of a step above fighting over the color of the hymnals, imo. Frankly, I think that being so focused on figuring this out is kind of…arrogant. There are things (like this) that I don’t fully understand, and I am fine with that. Not being all-knowing is sort of one of those things that separates us from being, you know, Him. And it really seems cheeky to try to become all-knowing and craftily trying to decipher it by parsing this and re-interpreting that. Which is what that fight looks like from here. 

Furthermore, the fact that I am a home schooling parent pretty much indicates that I am prepared to take on the burden of being in charge of my children’s education. I don’t need CHEC telling me what materials are suitable for me anymore than I need the government doing it. 

So that’s what that’s about.

* Slightly Inadequate blog post title brought to you by yours truly.

And Now, A Quiz

In CategoryNavel Gazing

My Dearest Children: 

Since we are home educating you, my precious babies, I would like to take this opportunity to administer a wee quiz to see how we are coming along in our studies. Just one question today.

When I say “mommy has to go potty, play nice for a minute,” is that code for:

a) And….FIGHT!

b) Come quick! Verify that I am, in fact, going potty. Marvel that my legs resemble bread dough.

c) Loiter outside the open door (technically not IN the bathroom! very clever, darlings!), and have a tug of war over one single Lego

Ah, you saw my little trick – can’t slip anything past you, can I?

The answer, as you so rightly demonstrated, is ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Excellent work, my pets!

Now, has anyone seen mommy’s box of wine?

Father’s Day

In CategoryCooking, Navel Gazing

So a few weeks ago, Big and I were watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS. We’re all about the bread-baking shows now. Anyway, they made these amazing looking cinnamon rolls and we immediately decided that is what we would make Jim for Father’s Day breakfast. I managed to find the recipe in the Cook’s Illustrated Make Ahead Recipes magazine. 

Yesterday morning, we got started pretty early, around 8 am. I had to ask Jim to stop at the store on the way to get coffee because I didn’t have all the right ingredients. Flour, dough, mix-mix-mix. 

Huh. This calls for a TWO HOUR RISE. Fine. Starbucks will tide us over until mid-morning. 

Wait, what? After we sprinkle the filling and roll it up, there is ANOTHER two hour rise. How, exactly do people make cinnamon rolls for breakfast when it’s a six hour process?

Well, they were a good mid-afternoon snack, even if chances are I’ll never make them again. I mean, six HOURS? I don’t think so. 

The amount of frosting the recipe called for seemed downright stingy, so I tripled it. Just right. The frosting was made with powdered sugar, buttermilk, and a smidge of cream cheese. It was TO DIE. Seriously. It had the exact right amount of tanginess. Like carrot cake frosting. I think I might need a little snackage right now, actually…

The real present was a collage poster I got from Snapfish. This is my new tradition for Jim’s Father’s Day gift. I make a collage full of the best pictures from the previous year. He lines them up around the walls of his office. I suck at scrapbooking, so this way at least there are pictures of the kids somewhere.