Vacation-Homeschool Fusion

We are in the second week of homeschool. This year I opted for Sonlight. The advantage of a pre-planned curriculum was very appealing. Let’s just say that last year I sufficiently deluded myself with the idea of creative planning, solely by me. It was pretty cool, picking and choosing from this book and that, but I wondered if I really accomplished everything. And, at least this way, if I follow the plan, I feel confident we will cover everything neccesssary for third and fifth grade.
The books you read in this program,(we selected American History, 1850-present), are wonderful. We are reading Mocassin Trail, and Around the Great Horn Spoon to start. It’s a refreshing change from Captain Underpants. We also are doing Teaching Textbooks math for my fifth grader. This is a highly recommended, (by the homeschool/educational experts of at least a couple of websites). It’s the colorful graphics that my child loves, perfect for boys. And My youngest is doing Horizon Math, also highly recommended.
I usually spend half my computer time in June or July looking up reviews of these different homeschool curriculum. One of my favorites is the Old Schoolhouse website. Although the reviews seem thorough, they are lengthy. For more concise, actual user reviews, go to www.homeschoolreviews.com. I prefer that one.
We have changed from an actual Spanish class to Rosetta Stone, or rather we will begin Rosetta Stone as soon as it arrives, after I order it. I am giving my credit card a little time to recuperate.
My husband really wants to spend a month in San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico. It’s one of our most favorite places on earth; really beautiful, really foreign and close to the U.S. And, its 72 degrees year around. Not to mention, the whole town has been declared a national monument, meaning there are no high rises, but instead, beautifully preserved hacienda hotels and villas. They have Spanish immersion classes, art, music and writing classes at the Bellas Artes. Very awesome. That’s my official excuse for procrastinating the start of Spanish this year.
We have a great area we dedicate to homeschooling. It’s home to two Red-Eared Sliders, a baby Box Turtle and a Ball Python. That pretty much defines our “Science Area”. We use Noeo Science, Biology II. We will finish most of it this year (we started last year), but then will begin Noeo Chemistry II. There are lots of colored pictures, internet links, etc.
In addition to Science, we have a Math area, writing area and a “hands on” area. I was inspired by the Montessori method and it works partly because I have children in two different grades. This way, they can do different subjects, in an interesting way, without disrupting the other child.
The whole working quietly without disrupting the other child is a fantasy for me, completely unrealistic, but I can always wish…
Oh, and if you want to join us in San Miguel de Allende, sometime this year, check out Mansion del Bosque. It’s a great hotel, with an expatriate owner. She’s about 80 years old, doesn’t look a day over 65 and her place is reasonably priced, spotless and the food is great!

What I love about Homeschooling

Its hard to believe that summer is over. The dragonflies days are numbered, even here in Georgia. No more sleeping until 10:21 a.m. ,on the weekdays anyway.
Because we homeschool, I suppose we could sleep that late every day. But, there’s a certain satisfaction in doing all your work, starting at the same time as all other students, and finishing three hours earlier.
The very best thing about homeschooling though, is not doing math barefoot,at your kitchen table. It’s not picking out every book your child will read this year, or finishing school work in four and a half hours. It’s not declaring Backwards Day, or Friday Fun Day, or going to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell instead of reading about it in a classroom. It’s not even Spanish at IHOP. The most fantastic thing is the time you get to spend with your children, instead of sending them away for seven hours a day.
I feel very blessed to have this opportunity. And, I am also happy that I am not running two businesses while homeshooling, (like last year), when I was the proprietor of an inn AND a restaurant. I found that as much as I loved the business I’d built, it seemed to keep me more and more focused on everyone except my family. I would arrange these fabulous dinner parties for 40 people with steak and asparagus, etc. And my family was next door eating mac and cheese. I’d arrange beautiful flowers for the main house, make sure every room was picture perfect, while my own house was an absolute mess. But more than anything, it seemed that my babies were growing up so, so fast. I was afraid I’d turn around and they’d be sixteen.
So, my husband and I sold the whole thing, including our house, to the new owners, and really de-stressed my existence. I only regret that I didn’t do it five years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the challenge and adventure of building a business. I was driven. But somewhere in there, I had an epiphany. I suddenly saw with absolute clarity, it’s all about your family and the everyday little things. I mean, it’s really only about the little things. That’s where the big things are. The things we strive for, the extra stuff that’s acquirable, layawayable, and consumable are all smoke and mirrors. They can’t make your heart sing. The really great stuff is within an armslength. There’s a miracle in every day, just waiting for discovery and I don’t want to miss one spiderweb with dew.
I want to be the one to explain the 2008 Presidential Election, the Olympics, and the clash in Russia. I want to read my children, Little House in the Big Woods. I want to “look at the lizard crawling up the tree by the front porch”, admire temporarily captive baby toads, discuss Batman vs. Ironman, and be able to leave with 30 minutes notice, and go anywhere out of town.
I want to just hang out and soak up every tiny bit of my children growing up. The most incredible experience in the world.

Trip to Washington D.C. with kids

Washington Monument

Washington D.C. was an incredible experience. After spending a sleepless night on Amtrak, (more on that later), we arrived at the Omni Shoreham. We had an enormous suite, with two queen beds, great linens, a separate area for lounging, two flat screen t.v.s, another more remote area with a marble bath. It was really great. They even had the keys ready for check-in, without going through the front desk. And, of course, my husband was ready to go as soon as we got there. So, napless, we showered, changed and were off to the Smithsonian, the National Mall, etc. Only after 4 hours of walking around Washington did I get back to the hotel for a nap. Twenty minutes after we arrived, a knock at our door and a tray of ice cold milk and chocolate chip cookies, compliments of the Shoreham! That happened every day for the kids. Nice touch and they looked forward to it too. And I had a great nap!
Washington has so many great places. We ate across from the Shoreham every night. One night, Italian, next night Lebanese, then Greek. Then we went across to Baskin Robins. It was totally a multicultural experience, including the caramel sundae.
We saw everything from the National Mall, Lincoln Monument, every museum in Washington, the National Portrait Gallery, where I decided Reagan’s pencil portarit in his jeans was one of my favorite’s, followed by Clinton and Roosevelt. Of coures, by this time, (around 5 p.m.), my youngest was rolling around on the floor, nomatter who I pointed out to him and even though they had a presidential video playing, he wanted to go swimming. We even saw the Spy Museum, it was very cool. You name it, we walked to it and saw it. I think Washington was the kids’ favorite stop. I highly recommend the Shoreham. But wherever you stay, make sure you are near their metro. It’s so easy to hop on and off, even if you aren’t used to it. It’s cheap too.
One more thing, if you are shopping for a hotel, try to book early. Some hotels were 150.00 more per night, than they were a month earlier. And try more than one web site; Expedia, Hotels.com and the hotel’s own website. Many times, when I called the hotel directly, I got the best rate, (the “best available rate” is usually cheaper than the AAA rate, who kew?).