Friday, October 16, 2009

Dictonaries Are Dangerous

Diva was looking up vocabulary words. She came across the word 'org*sm' and asked me what it was. (She pronounced it Orgism)

Me: Uh...where did you hear that word?
Diva: I just read it in my dictionary. I think it means to throw up.
Me: Uh...*snort* *snicker* Why do you say that?
D: Well, because your organs do that to you...make you puke.
Me: Uh huh. Well, I'm sure its not in your vocabulary list, so get on with what you're supposed to be looking up.

Geez. Of all the things I never worried about, it was dictionaries!

And yes, explaining what an org*sm is to my 10 yo had me freaked. Menstruation, how her body works in all other areas, fine. That, not so much.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Discoveries

The interesting thing about homeschooling is the new discoveries you find on almost a daily basis.

For example, Diva is a writer. She astounds me with the maturity she writes with. She wants to do NaNoWriMo this year, so that's going to be a chunk of our LA for next month.

I also (because I am disorganized as all get out) discover books I've purchased on a whim, or more likely, because they were a set of books someone was selling, and since I wanted 3 out of the 4 in particular, I end up with books that get shoved aside because they weren't what I was looking for.

I ran across one of those books today. Its called, "The Childrens Book of Virtues" and although it was published in 1995, it has illustrations that are in the 1940s style. I was reading through it this am, and was thrilled with what I found. Aesops Fables, Robert Frost, stories taken from First Nations culture...divided up in the table of contents with sections such as "Courage/Perseverance" "Compassion/Faith" etc. Most definitely a Christian resource, but that works for our family.

Diva, as part of her writing exercises, has been copying Proverbs from the Bible. I think she's going to be copying out some of the short poems from this as well. Its also going to make a wonderful read aloud for the Littles.

On another note, I really need to get my space organized. I simply don't have the shelves I need. *sigh* I do have some, but its going to mean a total reorganization of the house...which means Wolf has to tote and carry, since I can't manage it one armed.

I wonder what other books I'm going to find? LOL

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not What I Had Planned

Called my school board about Tazzie. They have a reading program that he's eligible for. So, I signed him up, figuring, no biggie. Uh huh.

Til I ask, innocently, "So what do I do next year, sign up for this program again?" (Understand, Tazzie isn't 5 until February)

"Oh no. Next year you'd register him for grade one."

My heart and stomach plummeted. Tazzie? Grade one? Next YEAR?! I thought I had two more years before registering him for grade one! I thought he had to be six in September to be eligible. Nope. As long as he's born before the end of Feb, he's eligible. Holy old crackers! Mama wasn't ready for this. No Sir, No Ma'am!

The upside is, I can register him the first year in 'traditional', and then have him reregistered the next year *the year I thought he would be registered* in blended or aligned. (For those unfamiliar, aligned is following provincial standards. Blended is a 50% minimum provincial standards, the other percentage parent led. Traditional is all parent led)

I can't believe that I'm planning to flunk my son for first grade. Girlfriend K says not to look at it that way, its simply having 12 mths to complete 6 mths of work. *sigh*

On the upside, he is homeschooled, so nobody is going to be teasing him. I just honestly can't see Tazzie having the maturity for grade one. Truly. His birthday is smack in the middle of Feb. Two weeks, and he wouldn't be able to register for anything til next year.

And what whacked out school board has end of Feb for age cut off? Mine, apparently.

What also has my heart thumping and racing is that I could have been unregistered with him for a year, completely unaware that he should be. I can't imagine the fall out potential from THAT, legally speaking. "Hello, Mr. Truant Officer. You're here for WHAT?!"

And here's some irony. Princess, our youngest, whose birthday is in Sept, won't be allowed to register for anything for two more years, despite her and Tazzie being a mere 19 mths 7 days apart. She will have to be five before any registration of any kind is allowed.


Yes, I'm totally committed (or is that should be totally committed?) to continuing our homeschooling efforts, including Tazzie and Princess.

I seriously believe I'm not only doing whats best for my kids, but also my bank account. There's no doubt in my mind that sending the Littles to public school would result in at least one lawsuit from a teacher for mental cruelty.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bragging On Tazzie

I bought the beginner level Bob books last night.

This am, he read THREE of them to me!

Woooo hooooo Tazzie!!!

The really funny thing is, Tazzie has been reading here and there for over a year. He won't, however, do it on command He does stuff like know the difference between Ceasar and ranch dressing because he can read the word 'cheese' on the ranch...but wouldn't do it if asked to.

I *think* I figured out why last night. I had said something about him being able to read his own books, and he was unhappy and said he didn't want to. The light finally dawned. He thought if he read, I wouldn't read him bedtime stories anymore, that he'd have to do it all on his own. I reassured him that Mommy would always read him bedtime stories, and when he was reading, we could take turns if he wanted, and move on to bigger and better stories like his big sister, and that he could read whenever he wanted to during the day.

And suddenly today, he's reading the Bob books. Awesome!

For those that don't know what Bob books are, look here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Flying Monkeys

Now, it so happens, as a homeschooler, you tend to get asked, "Why do you homeschool?" Sometimes its asked of genuine curiousity, even from someone that's considering homeschooling themselves. Othertimes, its asked from someone whose really just looking to be obnoxious and start a debate or argument. Trust me when I say, as a seasoned homeschooler, you begin to know the difference. The belligerent tone of voice is usually something of a clue, lol!

So, I was recently asked, "Domestic Goddess, how do you handle those moments?"

Simple. Flying monkeys.

When someone comes at me in an aggressive tone, looking for a debate, and demands to know WHY I homeschool, I reply, "Flying monkeys." Sometimes I say this calmly and matter of factly, other times I'll say it in a fearful tone, scanning the skies in a worried sort of way.

They never ask you anything again. Trust me.

Its sort of a disappointment to me, actually. See, I have this whole scenario worked out in my head, if only they WOULD continue. Goes something like this:

Woman runs, off, grabs a friend, talks to her while wildly gesturing in my direction. Both women then head over to me.

First woman: "Tell her what you said!"

Me, giving a blank stare: "I'm sorry?"

FW: "Tell her what you said about homeschooling and flying monkeys!"

Me, concerned: "Ma'am, are you quite all right?"

Second Woman: "She says you homeschool because of flying monkeys."

Me, taking a cautious step back from the two women, and eyeing them warily, as if expecting them to suddenly turn into flesh eating zombies,:" Reeeeallly now. How...interesting. Kids? We need to go. NOW!"

FW, getting a bit hysterical: "You did! You said, flying monkeys! You did! You did!"

Just doin my bit to add a bit of interest to a mundane day

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teacher-Student Bonding

A new discussion is underway here in my city, amongst the public school board and its minions that I find disturbing, and makes me once again grateful to God to be a homeschooler, and affirm again my intention to NEVER have a child in public school.

Apparently the new idea being bandied about (it hasn't hit the general population yet, only those in the school board are aware of it, teachers, etc) is that teachers will be promoted along with the students. So Mrs. Crankypants who is Johnny's teacher in grade one will greet him on the first day of grade two! The idea behind this is 'to promote teacher-student bonding'

I have two problems with this.
The first problem is minor in comparison to the second. If Jr gets Ms. Sea Hag, kiss goodbye his love of learning if he's stuck with her through elementary school.

The second is far more alarming to me, and is the exact basis of this idea. Teacher-student bonding. 'scuse me?! I find this frightening, I really, truly do. To me, its another way to widen the gap between the public schooled student and his/her family. Ensure that he's bonded to his teacher and further diminish his bond with his mother. (I'm going with the statistics that the majority of elementary teachers are female) To me, this is very very frightening.

I think that public school has a heck of a lot to answer for when it comes to the demise of the nuclear family. Anyone whose been through the public school system has been taught that homework is secondary to family commitments. I cannot begin to count the times that I was punished in school for not completing homework due to family commitments. My mother's notes weren't valid excuses, the homework wasn't completed, and that was all that mattered. I know that I'm not the only student to have experienced that. So many times I've heard people undergoing martial counselling and even divorce because they've been unable to balance work and family, and I've come to understand that the mind set for that started in the public school hallways, where homework was of ultimate importance, family a distant second. That was pounded in to us by our teachers, who had us 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week, in comparison to parents who saw us in the evenings and weekends.

And now they want to further those bonds, by ensuring that teachers follow students for six years or more?

The only bonds young children need to be fostering are those with their family. Not with paid representitives of the public school board!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bragging On Diva!

I am so stinkin proud of my Diva!!!

I was talking with our teacher-advisor today. One of the issues we've run into is that Diva is really advanced in her language arts, math, and science. In fact, the science curric that I'm planning to use for her next year is a grade 9 level, so I asked if she could earn high school credit for it...and we got talking further, and since Diva is reading highschool level material, perhaps she should start doing grade 9 english as well?

Long story short, it looks like my girl, who should be starting grade 6, will be starting to earn high school credits next September! Our t/a is talking to the t/a that works with other families in our situation and helps to tailor a program for advanced students and enable them to earn high school credits as they can, rather than doing the material without receiving the credit! I'm so excited for her!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Amnesia. This is a situation that happens more than any homeschooler likes to talk about, even amongst themselves, let alone on a public blog...but in the interest of being fully honest and not dedicating myself to propping up the June Cleaver/Martha Stewart illusion that surrounds homeschooling moms, I thought I'd tackle this issue, especially since its been plaguing my house this week, and the home of another hs'er I know in the same city. I'm thinking it *might* be something in the water, or lunar cycles, or our daughters spoke on the phone behind our backs and plotted a revolt, but since we have no proof, we just struggle with it, and resist the urge to thump them up back of the head yelling, "You understood this yesterday! What is wrong with you today? Did something come into your room at night and suck out your memory through your ears? Was it aliens? Were you PROBED?" But we don't. Instead, we grab our cordless phones, a cigarette or 6, and call each other. It keeps us somewhat sane, and saying or doing something that would have our child on a therapists couch in the years to come.
Well, something more I mean. I figure my general weirdness will probably result in a few therapy sessions anyways.

Anyways. Amnesia.

Its when your perfectly typical, perfectly well functioning child who understood her math lessons (could be any lessons, but ours were math) sits down at the table with more of the same lessons, gives you this utterly blank look and announces;

Diva: "I don't get it."

Me: "Huh? What don't you get?"

Diva "Everything"

Me: "You did the same problems yesterday, see?"

Diva: *shrug*

Me: *starts to twitch* "How can you not understand something today that you did perfectly yesterday without a problem?"

Diva: *blank stare* "I dunno"

I have to tell you, Lamaze breathing never did squat for me during labour, but its been much help to me during parenting. This was another time where it was used with great success.

Its not the teaching that's the hard part of homeschooling. Its the amnesia.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why Do You Do It?

Sitting here in the momentary quiet of the Non Stepford home, the time between The Princess finally having given in crying for Wolf to tuck her in, and Wolf and Caitie stomping in the house from archery lessons, I actually have a few minutes to post! w00t!

So, since being granted entrance to the 'Cool Moms Group' aka Moms Without Blogs, I thought I'd set about dismanteling some 'homeschooling myths' right off the top, with a series of blogs.


Ok, so its now the next morning. *sigh* See how things go in the Non Stepford house? Wolf and Diva came home, yammering away about their introduction to archery class, and there went the rest of the evening. Next thing I knew, I was heading up to bed, exhausted.

But I'm back now.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, trying to answer one of the most commonly asked questions, "Why do you homeschool?"

Well, part of the answer could be found on the front page of yesterday's paper: Teens Swarm Bus Driver. That kind of crap scares me, and its happening more and more. But on a far more immediate note, Diva was being bullied at school. We followed the regular channels, only to be told by her teacher, "'John' is a nice boy, he wouldn't do that." So, basically our daughter was a liar. Huh. Then came the parent teacher meeting Wolf attended with Diva. (It was insisted that children attended) The teacher announced that Diva didn't think rules applied to her, and the teacher had a niece that was the exact same way at Diva's age. That niece was now a meth head, and a high school drop out! Also, Diva had no reading comprehension.

I was enraged. First of all, to say such things in front of my child. Second, so say such things about an eight year old to start with! And, shoving the predictions of Diva being a strung out meth head aside, I knew for a stone cold fact that Diva had reading comprehension. She was constantly reading at home, and talking about what happened in her books...and you have to have reading comprehension to do that!

So, I tested Diva's reading comprehension, just to prove it to myself and Wolf. Had her read about 8 pages from Little House In The Big Woods, about butchering a pig (something she couldn't just make up details about) and I wrote out 15 questions as she read to me. She had no clue I was doing that, so she wasn't reading with any more care or attention than she normally would.

She got one question wrong, and that was: What did Pa make a balloon out of? She answered, "The pig's lung." when it was the bladder. I asked her about it, and she explained that she knew it was an internal organ, but couldn't remember which one, but she knew that lungs held air.

Smart kid.

As angry as we were, we didn't yank her right then and there. I wasn't prepared. I still regret NOT pulling her, because she went through two more months of torment at the hands of the teacher, and of the students before we said ENOUGH! and yanked her butt. For two months, I watched my daughter cry every day after school, stomp in the door, throw her things on the ground. It was just a nightmare.

Thats what began our homeschooling. It wasn't a well thought out decision, it wasn't a grand plan to raise perfect children without the taint of public schoolitis, it was because my daughter was losing her shine. She was losing who she was under the pain of being bullied both by students and her teacher. As her mother, I had to protect her from that.

When she came home, I was completely aghast to discover that her schoolbooks were blank. Except for a page or two, they were blank. I pulled her in February, and had no earthly clue what this child had done all year.

I spent the next several months just working with her to bring her up to where I thought she should be. Then we had her take the basic skills assessment test. You probably remember taking this a time or two in school...the paper workbook, and the answer sheet where you colour in the ovals? Yeah, that's the one.

After a few months at home, my Diva, who had never gotten anything higher than a C on a report card...well, her lowest score had her a grade and a half ahead of her actual placement. Her highest had her 4 grades ahead.

Seeing the positive changes in her, emotionally and academically tells me that homeschooling is whats best for Diva. She's more confident with her peers now, she worries less about their opinions of how she acts, and more about how she feels and thinks about things. She loves to learn, without worrying that someone is going to make fun of her for it.

I intend to homeschool the Littles as well, for similar reasons, plus I can see a teacher telling me Tazzie has ADD/ADHD. I don't believe for a moment he does, he's simply a boy, and doing and being what young boys do and are...busy and active. Not a great fit for the classroom, but something that we can work with and around at home, lol!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

You Think YOU Have Inlaw Issues!

Try being a homeschooler sometime.

Or better yet, just try having my MIL sometime. I think that really, she crosses the boundaries of ANY possible issue in society...but homeschooling gives difficult in-laws some extra weaponry in their arsenal that wouldn't be available otherwise.

Especially lucky for me, is that my MIL, aside from being in her 80s, and an hysterical attention seeking manipulative narcissistic personality all her life, was ALSO a school teacher.

Yay me!

In my defence, I didn't meet her until six days before my wedding. I still believe that was on purpose, and Wolf has never denied it. I know God loves me, because she lives in another province.

Anyways, moving on.

She's adjusted to us homeschooling Diva. She was asking last night about Tazzie going to kindergarten in 2010. Yes, she starts her nagging in advance. Again, she's in her 80s, and worries if she doesn't start now, she'll miss the chance. I told her that he wasn't going.

Well, you'd think I'd announced that we had decided to stake the child to an ant hill coated in honey. Repeatedly.

Gasping, moaning, "You can't do that!" more gasping and moaning. I realize that part of this is she was a teacher, but geez!

Then she told me that I HAVE to let Tazzie try school and Princess too. Just because it wasn't a good thing for Diva doesn't mean it won't be good for the Littles. I told her that I didn't need to let the Littles sip bleach to prove its not good for them. We already know that homeschooling works for our family.


Sometimes my patience wears a wee bit thin.

We have been hoping that she'd move closer, due to her age and some health concerns. And honestly, dh and I have talked about her helping homeschool the kids. I love my husband. I love my husband. I love my husband. Sorry, somehow that mantra always crops up when the thought of MIL being in the same city comes to mind.

Where was I?

Oh yes, MIL helping with hsing. I forbid it. She's one of those 'give an inch, take everything' kind of personalities. If I allowed her to help, say with art, she'd be so far up my tush I'd feel like a Muppet.

In fact, she mentioned at one point, early on in our hsing, that she'd better move out here so she could take over, since she was a REAL teacher.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Be Not Afraid, Although I'm A Homeschooler

I've applied to become an affiliate to Moms Without Blogs. They're a cool bunch with a very similar attitude about things that I have. And no, not just saying that cause I'm under consideration and haven't made the cut yet...but if I thought sucking up would get me in with the cool kids, I might...No, of course I wouldn't. I'm way too cool for that. *brushes crumbs off her pj shirt* Does the fact that I'm wearing a pj shirt after 8pm at night add or detract from my profession of 'coolness'? Would it matter if I mentioned that its not that I'm ready for bed at 8pm on a Friday night, but simply that I haven't bothered to get dressed yet today?

Anyways, there may be one small problem with my application to the Cool Moms Group. (That's what I'm calling them in my head). They, like me (before I became a homeschooler) thought 'homeschooling mom' was synonymous with 'perfectionist freak'.

*waits for laughter to die down from anyone who even slightly knows me, including Wolf, whose chosen this moment to read over my shoulder*

I've invited the Coolest Mom to poke around both this blog (yeah, not much to see here, its new, but I promise, growing!) and the other Not A Stepford Wife blog and see what she thinks.

For anyone that's stumbled here from other links, let me assure you of something: yes, I am a homeschooler. However, I honestly think that there's stuff here that you'll find will be of benefit to you, regardless if your kids are in public school, private school, or preschool. Fun activities are fun activities. I'm a fan of what I call 'The Sneaky'. Its when the kids think they're just having fun, when actually, they're learning too. I bought Diva a really cool game recently. It takes ten minutes to play (says so, right on the box! Ten minutes! Set a timer, when it goes off, game over! Love it! No board to set up either!) She's learning geography and social, and having a blast. Just don't tell her that she's learning, k? She won't play it again if you tell her that :oP

And if nothing else, you can read here, and think, "At least I'm not her..." lol!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is That An EYEBALL On Your Table?!

Yes. Yes it was. And an ear too, if you must know.

One of the top things I love about homeschooling (other than shopping for the curriculum, and I'll have an article later about that, because lawsy, that is FUN!) is the ability to bridge the gap between the Diva and the Littles (aka Tazzie and The Princess). In this particular case, Wolf had taken Princess out for a little Daddy and Daughter time, leaving me with Diva and Tazzie. What to do, what to do. Haul out an eye ball and ear of course.

Yes, we're talking models, folks. This is 'The Non Stepford Style' not 'The Frankenstein Style', remember?

So, here we have the Eyeball in The Box.
Fancy, no?

If you're able to read the somewhat blurry, small print, you'll notice that the eyeball is made out of 'durable soft foam!'. Soft, yup, and as for survived round #1 with Tazzie. I'll need more rounds to really assess the 'durable' claim though.

So here goes, hands on exploration with the eyeball...
Tazzie gets his half (oh, did I mention its in halves? Yeah, I'll get back to that in a second, cause its really cool the way they did it...)and examines it, then attempts to use it as a spinning top. *sigh*

Of course, Diva is much more studious. At least when there's a camera around. *snort*

Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to say things that would otherwise never be uttered, such as, "You didn't wash your hands! There are dirty finger prints on my white eyeball!" and "Quit squeezing the eyeball! These have to last til The Princess is done high school!" amongst others.

The cool thing about the eyeball model, (ha! Thought I forgot, didn't you? Neener neener, neener!) is that on one half of the model, its perfectly labeled. On the other half, its labeled with only letters, so if you wanted to test your child, you could hand them the letter only half and have them write out the name to each corresponding letter. Clever no? Diva wasn't so enthused.

Moving on to the ear.
Obviously, these things are a wee bit larger than life. Van Goh, where art thou? Yes, I find that funny. Nobody around here gets my humour.
Tazzie thought that if he only yelled loud enough, something would happen. I know that feeling. Its called Motherhood.
Diva, checking out the ear. She made some pretty neat observations, including that the cochlea looked like a snail shell.

All in all, a great success, even if there was some fighting over the ear.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Welcome, And Let Me Introduce The Cast...

Welcome to Homeschooling, The Non Stepford Style. Perhaps it should have been, "The Non-Stepford Way" but its too late now, the blog url is made.

What, I hear you asking, is the Non Stepford Style?

Well, you probably remember (or don't) the 70s movie called The Stepford Wives, about a community called Stepford that basically set about replacing their flawed human wives with perfect robotic clones. It was remade not so long ago, with Faith Hill as a co-star. A flop that disappeared from the box office with barely a whimper and a moan, if I remember correctly. Anyways, I'm the Not A Stepford Wife. I even have the blog with that title to prove it. Also known as The Domestic Goddess, just because I'm a fan of contradictions, and like to mess with people's minds. Generally, I only get to play with my husband's, and frankly, I have to be careful with that, because sooner or later I may break it, so I move to the internet for a larger audience.

But I digress.

So, as the title would imply, we are so very not perfect. One might even say that we are almost perfect in our imperfections, if such a thing were possible. Human to the nth degree. So, nowhere in our travels will you find perfectly organized, colour coded, filed, labelled anything. This blog will do one of several things: It will make you feel right at home, serve as a cautionary tale, make you feel better about the chaos in your own home as you peer into our world and think, "Whew! At least we're not as bad as the Non Stepford home!", and you may even pick up some handy dandy tips and tricks along the way. I'll be posting about curriculum, what works for us and doesn't, science experiements, all that kinda stuff. If something is an amazing find, or an amazing flop, you'll know about it!

So, allow me to introduce the cast (and crew, since we're one and the same)

Me: Mom, aka Domestic Goddess. A former health care professional, I'm pretty much permanently sidelined by a work injury that's resulted in my having RSD in my right shoulder through fingertips. This has pointed me in the direction of pursuing my first love, writing. My intention is to find work as a freelancer, and to pursue a lasting career as a fiction novelist. I began homeschooling our eldest daughter halfway through grade three, when it became glaringly apparent that public school was failing her miserably, both in keeping her safe, and academically.

Wolf: Husband, father, and unfortunate captive for my secret belief that marriage is a psych experiment. He helps out with homeschooling lessons according to his strengths, and pretty much runs the household these days.

Diva: Eldest daughter of the clan. Currently in grade 5. A voracious reader, she's a few grades ahead in both LA and math. Her huge heart and ready wit makes her a joy to teach...although her preteenish attitude at times has me fantasize about wrapping her in duct tape, gagging her, dropping her inside the doors of the nearest public school, and running like heck. But we get through it, time and again. She loves music, dancing, theatre and horses.

Tazzie: Four years old, and a handful. As bright as he is active, and that's saying a lot. He scares me sometimes. He's already reading, and he's sneaky about it, dang him. He won't always let on that he's reading, then startle you with it, then grin and not do it again for a while. I keep working with him on it, as he'll tolerate. Some days he's eager and raring to go, other days, its 'no ganks, Mom' so forget it! His first love is the xbox, which is sparingly allowed, much to his displeasure.

The Princess: Nickname pretty much says it all. Currently her biggest challenge is potty training, and she's about got that one nailed. All letters are "A!" to her, but she's counting, and starting to learn that there are indeed more names of letters than just A! Her first love is her Daddy, without a doubt.