Archive for September 2008

Going on a Whale Hunt

September 24, 2008

My son is reading Moby Dick- or supposed to be.  I think there’s more protest than actual reading going on.  I found a great site to use to check that he’s read each chapter.  It also includes quizes, an end of the book test, and discussion and essay questions.  They have every book I can think of on the site!

Then, today I called my sister- in- law and she was on her computer watching this cool site.  This guy took a 7 day whale hunt trip to Alaska.  He took pictures at least every 5 minutes for the entire trip!  How cool is that?!  I will probably never go on a whale hunt trip to Alaska.  But, now I get to go for free.  And, even better, on his plane ride, he’s reading Moby Dick.  I’m hoping that seeing an actual whale hunt will inspire my son to actually finish the book.  Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.  But, I can still have some hope!

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CBS Homeschool Segment

September 17, 2008

http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/sunday/main3445.shtml

Check out this link to watch the segment CBS just did about homeschooling.  I have seen some positive press lately for homeschooling.  It’s good to see that people might be losing the idea that homeschooling is a bad thing.  As more and more people turn to homeschooling, more and more people have friends and family that homeschool. They see the great things that happen when children are homeschooled and they realize it’s not something bad or scary.

High School- So Far, So Good

September 15, 2008

I just started week three of our high school journey.  For several years, I’ve been dreading the thought of teaching high school.  But, as the time got closer, I got calmer.  Everything seemed to click- in the planning mode, at least.  After 3 years of homeschooling, I’ve realized the right curriculum has to not only be right for my son, but also right for me.  I can find a curriculum that I think he would love.  But, because of everything else going on in our lives, I have to be realistic, too.  And, if there is a ton of planning involved in making that curriculum effective, I’ve realized it’s just a waste.  So, this year, I successfully found curriculum I think we will all like.  It has each day specifically outlined and he and I both know what he has to do.  I think this make us both feel better.

I, once again, created a goal book for the year.  I was actually proud of myself for keeping that up last year.  And, starting high school, it makes me feel better to be able to show what he has accomplished.  I think it’s good for him to see as well.  Some additions to the book this year are the weekly sheets.  My son actually created it the first week of school as part of his computer class.  Using excel, he made a list of his classes and the days of the week with boxes large enough for me to write his assignments in.  Although I love the homeschool tracker, it became a chore and not portable enough for us.  So, now I write his assignments in sometime the week before and he knows what he has to do each day.  There is a small box in the upper left hand corner of each assignment box.  He writes one line of an X when he finishes an assignment and I write in the other line when I confirm or correct it.  So far, so good.

So, as I said earlier, as the time was approaching, I was getting more confident that I was doing the right thing.  And then, a phone call confirmed it!  My friend has a daughter the same age as my son.  This summer, I borrowed her biology curiculum to give my son a jump on his classes.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do most of the experiments and only got half way through the book.  So, she agreed they could do the experiments together at her house each week- a true blessing to me since I didn’t know how I was going to get them done!  But, that left me one other subject to worry about- foreign language.  I really wanted to start him in Spanish this year.  But, the program I wanted was way too expensive for us right now.  So, I wasn’t sure what to do.  And then my friend called.  Her daughter was going to take Spanish from a friend of hers and she said my son was welcome to join them- free of charge!  I am so excited!  They aren’t starting until the end of September so that will give him time to get into the routine of everything else.  But, I am sometimes just amazed at how things work out.

So, is everything wonderful in the world of high school?  Well, not as much as I had hoped.  But, for a teenager with hormones and mood swings, we are doing pretty well.  He whines about this or that.  But, usually gets it done.  (If only he’d realize how short his school day would be if he cut out the whining and daydreaming!)  He has his regular subjects and then 2 electives- typing and computers for this semester.  He’ll be joining the YMCA once the weather gets too cold for him to be outside for recreation.   So, I think it’s a well rounded day. 

So, I’d have to say that so far we’re doing ok- pretty well, actually.  At least we will be once he finishes Moby Dick!  Why he chose to read it, I don’t know but now I’m determined to make him read it all the way through!  Don’t tell him I never read it!

Weekly News for Kids- Or Not

September 11, 2008

     I just discovered this site and am finding it way too amusing to actually be news.  I tend to be on the sarcastic side myself- no really, I am!  So, this is right up my alley.  This site talks about the news of the previous week in a humorous, sarcastic tone.  And, it’s all geared toward kids!  Is it really for kids?  I’ve only watched a few so I’m not really sure.  But, I know I’m amused by it.  Uncle Jay gives a straight forward monologue of what’s going on- probably saying things we all think when we hear the news. 

     So, I urge you to check out this site and see what you think- http://www.unclejayexplains.com/

Saving Over $120 a Month- And Counting!

September 10, 2008

     The economy has been on the minds of many Americans lately.  Either it comes up in campaign speeches and television ads or it hits closer to home with many families feeling the pinch.  Because I am one of those feeling the pinch, I got to thinking about what I have been doing to compensate for the change in lifestyle for our family.  And, then I started wondering what others are doing to help during this time of economic struggle.  Maybe someone else has done something that I can do to save a few dollars here or there.  And, maybe something I’ve done could help someone else.  So, here are my ideas.  Please share yours, too.  And, hopefully, together we’ll all get through it!

     I took a look at every bill I pay each month.  There were some things I really didn’t need- one organization I paid fees for that I had never used.  So, that got cancelled and saved $10 a month.  Then, netflix had to go.  Thank goodness we have a wonderful library that has anything i ever wanted!  That was another $10 a month.  Yesterday, I found a car insurance company that was $30 less a month for the same coverage I had before.  So, yes, I must say, I switched to Geico! 

     In April, I got a new car.  Although that sounds like spending instead of saving, I actually broke even.  Because I drive so much, gas and my new car payment is actually the same- or less- than what I was paying in gas every month.  So, I got a better car that will eventually save me a ton of money!  When I have an errand to run close by, I really try to walk or ride my bike.  Of course, as it gets colder that will change because I hate being outside in cold weather!  But, for now, it gives me some exercise and saves on gas.

     Lately, I have been making a huge effort to make a menu and shopping list for the week.  This saves me money and also keeps me from having to think at the end of the day!  The hardest thing to do for dinner at night is decide what to make.  So, this works well in several ways.  I’ve been able to stay under our $30 a week budget and make some tasty, well balanced meals! 

     We don’t go out to eat now.  We joined the $5 club at the theatre.  But, we very rarely go.  There’s always fun things to on weekends during the summer that are free.  When winter comes, we’ll probably have to work a little harder to find things.  But, I know they’re out there.  So, I cut out our $18 a week entertainment budget.

     On the homeschool front, I’ve had some luck- I call it God!  A friend has a daughter about the same age as my ds.  So, we’ve combined some classes, shared some curriculum, and been able to save money.  I also have some other people in my homeschool group that I am swapping curriculum back and forth with.  I think this is a great thing for homeschoolers to do- either as part of a homeschool group project or just as individual homeschoolers that know each other.  It can get expensive and most people use it and then it sits on a shelf or in a box and collects dust.  I’d rather see someone else get some use out of it.

     On the good side, evaluating how we spend our money has made me become much more aware of where it’s all going.  I have always thought of us as very frugal.  But, now that we are forced to live on my income alone- and are still eating with a roof over our head- I see that we could really save a lot of money away when my husband does find a job.  So, hopefully, this will all be good for us in the long run.

     I’m sure there are other things.  But, those are the main ones off the top of my head.  What have you done?  What are you planning to do?  How has the economy effected you?  Let me know your thoughts!