Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Resolution Time Again!

I know what you're thinking - "umm...isn't it a little early in the year to be worrying about resolutions?" Not for cyberschoolers and homeschoolers! The week before we begin lessons for the new school year is Resolutions Week. ;) We set goals for ourselves - for CS Dad and I as parents, teachers, and home facilitators and for Spawn as a student - academically and physically - and as a Cub Scout. We also create a schedule for our day that we try to adhere to as closely as possible and choose Spawn's extra-curricular activities for the year. Most important is those resolutions - to work harder and more dilligently and to stay on-task and work ahead of the due dates as far as possible. With 2 - 3 weeks of leeway, there's no reason to be handing in schoolwork during the final week!

My Goals/Priorities:
1. This school year, we will cover all assignments on or as close as possible to the day they are assigned to stay ahead of the due dates by a minimum of 12 days.
2. We will set and adhere to a daily and hourly schedule beginning the first day of school and we will continue until all assignments for the 2009-2010 school year have been completed - working ahead whenever and wherever possible and recognizing that there are some things best accomplished outside of a strict timetable. Fun, games, messes, domestic learning opportunities, and playing with food are all exempt from the hourly schedule rule. ;)
3. I will require Spawn to keep a daily journal that he will write no less than 3 sentences in every day until his writing abilities improve.
4. I will hold myself to the same standard and set aside time no less than 3 days per week to blog about Spawn's progress and the material we're covering academically and domestically.
5. I will set aside time daily to instruct Spawn in basic domestic skills - ie finances, banking, and budgeting, errands, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and volunteering in the community.
6. We will incorporate as many ecological (or 'green') practices as possible into our daily routine and seek out new ways to improve our home's and family's ecological sustainability. We dabbled in projects over the last year like composting and vermiculture and now have a self-sustaining vermitat in which the earthworms are thriving and breeding! My goal this year is to find a way to reduce our electicity usage and to find a way to incorporate some kind of solar heating in our home through kid-friendly projects that give Spawn an opportunity to contribute to our home's ecological sustainability.
7. We will register and attend no less than 3 field trips this year.

Walt's Goals/Priorities:
1. I will set aside time several days per week to instruct Spawn in basic domestic skills - ie finances, banking, and budgeting, errands, laundry, cooking, maintenance, and volunteering in the community.
2. We will incorporate as many ecological (or 'green') practices as possible into our daily routine and seek out new ways to improve our home's and family's ecological sustainability.
3. I will attend as many field trips as possible on my days off this year.

Spawn's Goals/Priorities:
1. I will write in my journal every day.
2. I will write trip reports about my field trips.
3. I will do my best to stay healthy and well by washing my hands before I eat and after I use the bathroom so I don't get sick or miss any more homeschool gym & swim, karate, guitar, or Spanish lessons than I have to.
4. I will do my best to eat three whole meals every day so I don't lose too much weight.
5. I will exercise and play outside only after I eat a snack so I don't lose more weight.
6. I will brush my teeth after I eat or drink anything except water to keep my teeth healthy and strong and I will use the Listerine Smart Rinse twice every day to make my teeth stronger!
7. I will try not to argue or hide at bath time or give Mommy grief when I'm too grubby to sleep in my bed the way I am.
8. I will do my Cub Scout homework every week to earn my Wolf Badge and I will try to find ways to include my Wolf Electives in my school assignments.
9. I will keep my uniform clean, learn how to care for it, hang it up when I'm not wearing it, and learn how to sew a patch and a button on it.
10. I will blow my nose in a tissue when it runs and I will throw it away in the trash can and not hide it in the spots all over my desk like I used to.
Our daily schedule - unless we get an estimate for the time that indicates it will take longer than we presume or the curriculum changes unexpectedly - will be as follows:
Monday - Friday:
7:30 AM: Breakfast. (Min. of 1/2 dairy, 1/2 protein, 1/2 fruit, 2 grains.)
8:00 AM: Vitamins and meds. Make lunch so it's ready to eat during lunch break.
8:30 AM: Language Arts. (This includes frequent breaks for leg stretching and refocusing.)
10:00 AM: Morning Recess - Spawn may read, jump on his trampoline, play a board game, or go outside to burn off energy - weather-permitting. No PC games or Legos/toys allowed during this time. Leapster games may be earned with good behavior and cooperation as always. ;)
10:30 AM: Math. (This and the following subject includes time for frequent breaks for leg stretching and refocusing.)
11:30 AM: Science/Social Studies. (These subjects alternate from one week to the next.)
12:30 PM: Lunch Break. (Min. of 1 dairy, 1/2 protein, 1/2 fruit/veg, 2 grains.)
1:00 PM: Art/Music/Phys Ed. (These subjects alternate days.)
2:00 PM: Afternoon Recess. (PC games and toys/Legos are allowed during this time.)
2:30 PM - 7:30 PM: Extracurricular activities. Swimming class, karate class, guitar lessons, Spanish class, French lessons. (These activities take place throughout the week and weekends and begin as early as 2:30 PM and end as late as 7:30 PM.)
I know it seems very rigid in writing this way, but it's just a guideline so we don't get side-tracked and lose focus while we delve into a particular subject or lesson that catches Spawn's interest. Spawn does need to get up and have breakfast and his ADHD meds at the same time every day, so keeping a schedule helps us keep him on-track and gets him into bed on time so he doesn't get off-track and out of whack the following day. ;)

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can you smell it in the air - autumn (food) is on the horizon!

2nd grade is just a few days around the corner and Spawn is bouncing off the walls to get started! I can understand his excitement - this is by far my favorite time of year! Besides my pollen allergies subsiding, it's also the end of fair season which means one thing: The Great Allentown Fair and the Bloomie! CS Dad is all about the food at the Bloomsburg Fair, but I love the exhibition buildings - everyone's pride and joy on ribbon watermelon pickles, the largest pumpkin in the state, the paintings done by the young and incredibly old, the brilliant photos of everything from backyard dandelions to a mop leaning against a door frame. A year of hard work - planning, prepping, pruning, and choosing your best, most luscious-looking fruit or berry or squash or just photographing anything and everything you see and then to have to narrow it down to your one BEST photo from the past 12 months?!?! It boggles the mind! (I'd love to try to get CS Dad to submit one of his lightning strike or ice storm photos next year. I think any of them have a shot at a blue ribbon!)

Like CS Dad and my dad, I also love to wander around the fair, tasting anything and everything I haven't tried before and all the old favorites...Fruit smoothies at Dawn's, deep-fried cheese cubes on a stick, Cactus Taters, and London Broil sammies bring back memories of going to the Bloomie with my dad and step-mom when I was a tween - and of making an over-priced, Halloween-themed, Spin-Art sweatshirt at a fair booth. (My dad saved it for years and finally handed it over a few years ago along with some other goodies I'd left behind when I moved out.) New favorites that CS Dad has his mind on: chocolate fudge-, M&M-, and sundae-topped funnel cakes (imagine a sundae without the ice cream, but with funnel cake instead - that's a Bloomie Funnel Cake Sundae!), mini crab cake sammies, the taco bar, all-you-can-eat pasta dinner tents, random, mystery food-on-a-stick offerings, and mocktails and concoctions of all kinds. Yum!

Autumn also means Lehigh football games, push-cart derby, and Scouting for Food with our Cub Scout Pack. The best of the best is on Scouting for Food: Weekend 2 when Scoutmaster Paul asks everyone to bring a can of soup along to Pick-up Day at Scout Hall so he can make Cub Scout Soup - a variation of the legendary Stone Soup fable.

As if our autumn weren't busy enough - I'll be turning 31 on October 21st and CS Dad and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary on October 30th. Not satisfied to be over-booked as it is, we'll also make time to go to Jacktown's Fall Swap Meet (ice cream, massive cauldrons of steaming hot soup, fresh-pressed cider, and hot apple dumplings!), Trauger's Farm for pumpkins, photo ops, squash, pie, and - my favorite - spinach- and squash-laden quiches to freeze and reheat on a rainy, dreary sunday morning in November.

It's also the time of year that does its level-best to inspire me to cook all my favorite foods, my family's favorites, and some new adventures in cooking that we haven't tried before. This year I'm going to try to make a pumpkin cheesecake and a tomato aspic my friend Rachel made with awesome results recently. (Take some time to peruse the rest of Rachel's foodie/Mommy/wanderings blog if you have the time and need some foodie inspiration: Smother of One. It's one of my favorite Mommy blogs by far!) Spawn's been begging for a pot of Mommy's Harvest Tortellini Soup (everything but the kitchen sink goes in this - V8 juice, veggies, beans, pork sausage, slab bacon, beef- and cheese-tortellini, wild rice, 2 bay leaves, and whatever herbs I have on hand that catch my fancy that day ;)). I've been drooling the last few days knowing delicata squash season is just around the corner. I roast strips of the seeded squash (skin-on) with carrots and brussel sprouts in a little olive oil and I could eat this all by itself as a meal! Makes a great side dish for Thanksgiving. Yum!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom
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