News Flash! Things are getting better!

January 24, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal | 2 Comments

I am glad to report that things are starting to “normalize” around here. We have a routine, we are all getting used to how the visitation thing works, and the Former and I seem to be getting along as well as can be expected. As soon as I say this, I am sure something will go wrong, but what the heck, I could always use more adventure, right?So, without further delay, I bring you some fun stuff we have done.Lemme start with the most exciting activity, Eagle watching, on a barge. Yup. You read right. I actually had to go find the kids some warm clothes, like ski bib, heavy coats, and insulated boots, cause it decided to get cold here, the coldest day of the week on the day we were heading out on a barge tour on a lake! It was predicted to be between 30 and 40 F (that is 0-4 for you Celsius folks) and that is just freaky cold! I did manage to find us all something warm and water proof to wear, and we headed out on the lake at 11am. We were at Lake Maumelle ( http://www.arkansas.com/lakes-rivers/lake/id/49/ ) for those of you familiar with these parts, and the tour was being held by our favorite Park Interpreter from Pinnacle Mountain ( http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/pinnaclemountain/) .

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The water that splashed over the bow immediately froze, and showered those behind with ice. It was cold. Karma Boy was so bundled that he just looked like cheeks and eyes over his life vest. Karma Girl had a great time counting all the Eagles! She really impressed us all with her math skills as she just kept adding and adding, even after the birds had been counted, she kept adding.

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We saw a total of 17 Eagles in their natural habitat, including a beautiful mature specimen with the full white head ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle )! We were also able to add some ducks, loons, seagulls, and Canada Geese to our bird watch book. It was a blast! When it was done, we headed over to the Pinnacle Mountain Visitor’s Center to listen to a speaker who does Raptor rehabilitation. He brought several birds for us to see, and it was so cool to see these birds of prey so up close.

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For the close of the presentation, we were invited to be a part of a release of rehabbed owl. The owl had other ideas and decided it wasn‘t ready to go back to the wild so it wound up heading back home for some more rehab, but it was still really cool to see.

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 So, I guess you could say that things is looking up both for us, and the flesh eating birds!

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Speech Therapy

November 28, 2007 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal | 1 Comment

Little Karma Boy is in speech therapy. Sigh. You could not imagine how many tests, and piles of paper work goes into getting a child diagnosed with a speech delay! I mean, we (the parents) knew it was there, but it was like we had to “prove” it, then had to find someone to provide services. I was constantly on the phone trying to find an available provider, meaning they were not booked up, trying to get our insurance to cover some of the costs, only to finally go with our Pre-School age co-op. I then had to sit through hours more of evaluation, development and vision, another meeting to go over all the results (which I already knew cause I was there!) and IEP planning meetings. Finally, after months, literally, we got him started in speech. So far he is doing amazingly well! Turns out he has a sever articulation delay, so we now spend our days walking around sounds like we have speech issues as we over-articulate words and get him to repeat. He is improving daily though, as several friends and family have pointed out. We are starting to get into a flow where it really is a part of our day and our home school lessons, so the stress is coming down quite a bit. Hopefully, it will not take him long to catch up with other 4 year olds in intelligibility.

Day of thanks and day of mourning

November 22, 2007 at 4:41 pm | Posted in getting involved, Homeschooling, Personal, politics | 1 Comment

The custom of Native Americans was to help those in need, to give freely. It was through the generosity of the Native Americans that the pilgrims were able to survive When the man commonly known as Squanto found a bedraggled group of pilgrims that had been decimated by hunger and disease, he reached out to help him, even though he himself had been captured by slavers and sent to the Caribbean as a slave to the Spanish. It was through his later return to the Americans through England that he had learned English with a great profiency. This enabled him to teach the pilgrims what kind of crops to grow, and what plants not to eat. They began to improve and soon were flourishing.

As was the custom of the pilgrims back in England, they decided to have a feast of thanksgiving in November. They invited Squanto and his family. The pilgrims still did not know enough of the culture of the native Americans to know that their families are quite large. So, when he showed up with all his family, the pilgrims did not have enough food to feed them all, Squanto sent his men back to get more food. So, it turns out that the native Americans provided most of the food for the first Thanksgiving! Both peoples enjoyed a time of peaceful co-existence, but this did not last long. Soon, more pilgrims came from England and they did not have the same grateful attitude to the natives as those first settlers did and culture clashes and land disputes ensued. The rest, they say, is sad history as it culminated in the death of 10-30 million native people.

The myth that Thanksgiving was continued year after year, is false. It wasn’t till 1863 with President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation that the holiday was revived.

http://www.nativeamericans.com/Thanksgiving.htm#lincolns

So, on this Thanksgiving (we actually did it the day before to make an extra point) , my family ate eating the foods of the native people of America, and celebrating their ability to survive the atrocities they encountered.

We enjoyed a meal of butternut squash, fresh berries, potatoes, wild onions, and game (yes a turkey as it was donated by Karma Hubby’s work). We were lucky enough to have just had a class on Caddo (Arkansas’ Native Americans) cooking, so we were able to incorporate several of the recipes. It was great for the kids to be able to practice what they have been learning. We then checked out some books from the library and read stories of the Native American peoples of the Americas. May all of you celebrating this day, remember to celebrate those people who helped save the original Europeans from themselves. Have a blessed day!

Pow Wow

November 15, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 7 Comments

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I am so behind on all the exciting things we have been doing around here! One of the coolest things we have done was to go to a Mountain Man camp at Pinnacle Mountain ( http://www.partnersforpinnacle.org/Rendezvous.htm ).

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We were able to enjoy seeing lye soap made, a blacksmith forging metal tools, and talk to the “traders” about the kinds of goods available in pioneer times. After visiting with the pioneers, we then went on to visit the Native American encampment. We were fortunate enough to be invited into a lodge by it’s owner and told about some of the contents and the ways of this tribe. It was fantastic! We really learned so much from the visit and the kids wanted to learn more, so the next day we went back for the Pow Wow. And the day after that too. The kids and I were so mesmerized by the dancing, and storytelling presented by the Inter Tribal Association of Arkansas. (I can’t find a working link for them)

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 So, for now, here are some photos of the dancing and storytelling.

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We know that my grandfathers on both sides were of Native American ancestry, but I have had no luck finding the name of the tribes they belonged to. I had held off on this post because I wanted to be able to announce my findings, but that does not look like it will be happening. I think the kids would love to be able to learn more about a particular tribe. As for right now, they are taking a series of classes with the Pinnacle Mountain park interpreters on the Native Americans of Arkansas. We have learned about their tools, and cooking (the Caddo) and are hoping to learn even more!

Camping with the Karma kids

November 5, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 1 Comment

Yup, you read right! I went camping with the Karma kids! Our home school group was offered a chance to go camping with the park rangers and park interpreters at Pinnacle Mountain, so we did. Now I haven’t been camping since I was a kid and Daddy was in charge so I didn’t really have to “do” anything. Now this was backwoods camping so there were no toilets and no running water, we had to do it all!

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We got to go on a hike at night to listen to the night creatures, and we learned to build a fire using a bow-and-string, cook in a Dutch oven, make burn out bowls like the native Americans,

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listened to story times from a ranger and roast marshmallows. The kids had so much fun playing together and didn’t seem to even notice that they were learning anything. So cool! Here is our morning after group photo, all of us unwashed and mountain fresh! Of course, Karma Boy decided to wait till this photo was taken to try and lift up on my head, resulting in a beautiful look and stance from me! Sigh. I have no good photos of myself.

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Heifer International

October 30, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Posted in getting involved, Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 3 Comments

One of out recent home school co-op fieldtrips was to take a tour of the Heifer International Ranch.http://www.heiferfoundation.org/seminars/ranchinfo.cfmThe kids got to see some of the “sanitation stations” that Heifer is using to teach proper hygiene in other countries, meet the animals that are used to help others, and to see a global village that represents some of the living situations of the world. There were tin shanty towns,

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 African round huts, and a Thai home. This place was great for learning about how one animal can affect a family’s existence and bring their standard of living up. I really enjoyed getting to see how they do it all.

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We were able to see the different animals that Heifer sends around the world and learn how many ways each one can effect a family. I am still sold on a Llama for myself. Wool, milk, hauling, and protection (excellent guard animals).

It served to bolster my reasoning to becoming more self sufficient also because I can see how it is the little things that can make such a big difference. How just one animal can provide so much as to help one stay independent.

Some of the poverty issues were above the my kid’s heads, but overall, I think some of it sunk in. For, me, I left reminded of how good I have it, even when things are rough.

More fun times!

October 27, 2007 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal | 3 Comments

So, in keeping with learning new things and trying new things out, the kids and I have been attending a story time at our library and they love it! They get to do a craft at each session and that is one of the best parts for me, art time without the planning!smalllibraryday3.jpg

I also took them for ice skating lessons, which they were ambivalent about. Poor kids, they slipped and slid all over the place! I guess the kids had better stick to roller skating, it is easier here to roller skate than it is to find ice! blogsizediceskating.jpg

Learning fun!

October 23, 2007 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, simplicity | 3 Comments

The kids and I have been busy~busy lately! I have made a commitment to do more activities outside the house and so far I am managing to do so. It is hard to manage both the kids in open spaces, around a bunch of other kids, all by myself. I am always paranoid that something will happen to them when I am distracted. So far, nothing has happened and learning has been going on. The coolest thing we are doing is a set of lessons offered by one of our local state parks, http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/pinnaclemountain/.The park rangers there are top notch at these lessons! The kids (and I) have learned so much! We have learned about camouflage and how animals use it to stay safe from predators. The Rangers had the kids dress in camo and play a game of hide-and-seek with some of the other kids being the predators (wearing hunter safety orange). All the kids had so much fun with this!

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We also were introduced to birds of Arkansas and the kids were so excited about that they decided to join the bird watching group in here called Wings over Arkansashttp://www.agfc.com/wildlife-conservation/birds/wingsoverark.aspxWe have been having fun identifying birds and the kid’s observation skills have greatly improved with how much time they spend looking for “new birds.”blogsizeduckcalls.jpg

We also attended a class that taught us what birds eat. This lead, naturally, to us eating bugs. Yes, we all ate a delicious larva! Here we are eyeballing our feasts immediately before ingestion. Yum. (shudders with flashback to the experience) blogsizedlarva.jpg

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And that is just a part of Pinnacle Mountain! We have attended a Dutch oven cooking class, and will have a separate entry for another big event we recently attended there where they had a whole weekend of re-creating the pioneer life of the 1830-1850’s!

Another Home School activity

October 13, 2007 at 2:31 am | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 1 Comment

First, I must admit, I am not a bowler. So, when the home school co-op we belong to planned a bowling day, I was nervous. I did get my nerve on and go though! I just got the kids their shoes, one of the other moms told me how to set up the score machine, and pushed the button that puts up the bumpers. We shared all the lightweight balls so we were set. Now is when I should “teach” right? Wrong. I did what I sometimes have to do, I got out of the way and let the kids have fun. Since I don’t know about scoring or anything, I just let them roll the balls. They had a great time and apparently scored very well with Karma Girl bowling a 93 and a 96, and Karma Boy making a 83 and 90! blogsixedbowling-girl.jpgCool! They got natural talent, and they had fun. Karma Boy learned that you can still make a gutter ball even with bumpers! He was OK with it though, cause the real fun is throwing the ball down the lane! The photo is of him on the floor willing his ball to keep going by wagging his feet and yelling encouragement. blogsized-bowlingboy.jpgI have seen the parents that “over teach” everything and their kids can look so sad. I am glad that I am learning to take myself out of the equation every once and awhile and just let them have fun. Childhood should be about fun, and happy memories!

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