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Everything posted by Harpymom

  1. Please forgive my previous post - I just saw that you are dealing with animal allergies, no 4-H.
  2. We live where there are no coops, though a few within a 2 hour drive. I've read about them over the years and visualize this whole alternate homeschool universe built in my mind - I imagine them as sort of like school, then imagine myself being socially awkward at them, trying to be a school mom, then leaving! But I can relate to the question of how to find peers for my kids or myself who value rigor. I've had a lot of well, your family is just crazy reactions over the years to our approach. My older three had zero academic peers until they went to college, other than through DE for the boys and very far away orchestras for dd. My youngest did have a peer group of young homeschoolers with whom we shared a few parent-taught classes, but it was rough. I guess you could call it coop, though we never defined it as that. The other moms were so weirdly competitive and I'm not even sure over what, really. It didn't help that I'm so much older than them. Dd is my last, they were on their firsts. It was me gritting my teeth and sticking with it, to try to give youngest dd a social life and be the kind of homeschool mom I'd read about. What a mistake. This "coop" did two bad things for her: gave her a strangely un-homeschool outlook on pecking order and girly gossip stuff, ugh, and somehow managed to convince her she could do just what the other parent/teacher asked and no more, no matter how interesting she found the subject or how many more levels of inquiry I suggested she incorporate. And then argued with me over whether she should or not. I very much regret sticking it out. Now that the other kids involved have gone off to public high school and we're the only homeschoolers we know, again, I've found community here but she has no academic community. In a way, I'm looking at this year as an opportunity for her to "unlearn" damaging ideas she adopted through this past group - which on my bad days I growl about along the lines of "this is why we homeschooled, why am I having to listen to this..." I feel hopeful so far as she seems to be blossoming out of that earlier stage. It hasn't been just me, my husband and older kids have been confused by it too. It's been a family group effort to bring her around.
  3. Warm wishes for a speedy recovery and congratulations for your daughter and you! Welcome, Rebecca.
  4. Something I learned from the old days of homeschooling (pre-internet) was the importance of mentors for teens. I've spent a lot of time and effort connecting my teens to outside mentors in a variety of settings. I always strive for excellence, but it isn't always "classical." I believe mentors help with character by modeling passion and excellence in the subject. I think this approach also addresses the need for social time though it tends not to be with age-peers (a plus in my book.) These are "electives" and follow the unschooling idea of interest-led, but it was my job to find folks who were/are really good at their work for my kids to learn from. One retired English teacher has also done "real" English with my two youngers. So in practice this means that the mentors don't necessarily "teach" subjects as a tutor would, but my teens either assist them or spend time doing what the mentor does best. In the case of my oldest, he connected with a water-quality monitoring group and spent a year doing water analysis at their lab - science, community service, and accountability rolled into one situation. He did biology at home with me but had an incredible experience at this lab. My older daughter asked to work with the person who does costuming at our local high school, and sewed many costumes over the years. For my younger son, he spent time doing watercoloring outside with a retired artist down the road. None of these situations required me to pay them, though the first received volunteer work from my son, and for the latter my son and sometimes my husband would help him move heavy stuff, stack his wood, etc. I've been the one to make the first call to connect, and I find that people are pretty enthusiastic to do this, because they love their subject and want to help a young person love it too.
  5. Only easier with my later kids - my 30 year old went away to college in the era of no phones, no facetime, etc. I find it much easier to say goodbye now because the middle two call me quite a lot. I remember reading long long ago something by a mom who was in real despair that she had homeschooled rather than learned to say goodbye when they were five, because she felt that the college goodbye was so traumatic. I remember being able to relate, though not to the point of regretting homeschooling!
  6. Retired midwife here - please forgive if too graphic: prolonged (20 minutes out of every hour) and vigorous nipple and breast stimulation while on hands and knees or standing and leaning forward, preferably in a dark and quiet place. Carbs, eaten or drunk, to give her the power she needs - this is a tough one for VBAC as the doc may want her to be NPO, but she needs fuel, especially if contracting for a few days. If she's leaking, the baby's head may be tilted or in a not-optimal presentation. Encourage the baby to tuck its head and swing its back forward by her spending time on all fours and slowly wagging her hips to each side or doing the one leg up on a chair position for half an hour, then switch. Standing for labor and delivery to facilitate smooth delivery of shoulders with a big baby and a VBAC-leery doc. Sending prayers for a smooth transition to powerful labor and a peaceful delivery!
  7. My parents had definite topic headings, but we are far more random - someone starts a topic, others chime in until it's played out...politics, babies, moving, new jobs, new cars, college, sports and movie star stuff (I'm the automatic loser on these,) ice-out, first wood frogs, really anything goes. I write the person's name then the prediction, then others' add-ons. Once we're rolling it's hard to keep up, so the scribe has to go fast.
  8. Hot chocolate bar might be a game changer here!
  9. Family, some of my "extra" kids, and a few friends gather at our house for food and an outside fire plus our very favorite game: predictions. First we open the sealed envelope from last year and go through them. The competitive among us assign points and half-points for ones that were right or half-right. There's a winner, though 90% of them we laugh and say, what was I even thinking?? Then we create this year's list. We always start with a list of who's present - this sparks a few regarding who will or won't be present next year. I scribe. Politics, new babies, sports, who's going to move and where, college admissions and final choices, new businesses in town, anything is fair game. This year politics will be a big factor - we have a separate column for "add-ons" for agreeing but tweaking a little. The kids love this tradition, and ones who are away usually skype in for a few minutes to collect their wins from last year and drop off a few for this year's envelope. When midnight arrives we're usually freezing outside, but then staple up the envelope and stash it away in its proper spot til next year. My parents did this with their friends for years and it's a nice way to spend a family-friendly New Year's Eve. What does your family do on New Year's Eve?
  10. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners is another great resource, either for a gap year or starting a farming career. They can help match apprentices and then journey-people on farms. Many many MOFGA members are/were homeschool families, and now there are loads of second-generation, homeschooled farmers starting their families and farms. MOFGA is based in Unity, Maine, which is also home to this small environmental/agricultural college:
  11. Daughter is doing the live honors class - she loves it. Reasons: Mr. H is an excellent teacher, funny, and personable. They have really good support - any day she misses something she can go to that night's help session, which is hosted by the live teacher. She's very meticulous and likes that the grades and assignments are always posted, updated, and clear. At the risk of sounding like an online testimonial, this was the child who would have crying fits and declare she hated math, now loves it. It also helped her realize she prefers synchronous to asynchronous format.
  12. I do, I call it my brain. Which means I get to ask my family members if it's out of sight, "Where's my brain?" To do, food purchase and prep, homeschool, town committees and volunteer board, notes from political meetings and trainings, Christmas list, project materials needed, thoughts and feelings, even bad drawings of banners or parade floats I'm working on. I put the date on the front when I start - I have a particular size I like of the 5 Star paper notebooks, lined but very simple. I usually put dates on a few pages, randomly, as kind of touchpoints, but they aren't really useful as I always know where I am in a given year. I do always use the same phrases for things like traveling eg To Do To Go To _______, which also gives me a reference when I look back through. I'm left handed so I start at the "back" and never write across the spiral. If by terrible chance I'm out and about and I have to write something on a different piece of paper because I've left my brain at home, I tape or staple it in later so it doesn't get lost. Slache, you didn't ruin my day, but your system is so interesting! I get a little anxious as I get close to the end of each notebook, as I never know if I'm going to find that particular size again (though if I shopped online this would be simple.) My downside is that I also use a paper calendar, no smartphone, so if I write something in my brain but don't transfer it to my paper calendar I have problems. I might look for a new type of notebook with a calendar attached or staple one in. I should probably cultivate this as a new habit before my memory gets any worse, so thank you, scbusf for starting this thread, it's letting me consider my choices in a new way. My mother asked me to help her change to a 1 notebook system - she writes daily things on open tear-off paper sheet pads, notes from doctor's appointments and conversations in spiral notebooks, and keeps a paper calendar like a champ. But she's 91 and it's not easy to change long-established habits so I'm not convinced it's a good fit for her for this reason. I do think her writing everything down has helped her keep both memory and independence.
  13. I'm glad to see someone else thinks of it as Messiah season! We are pretty rural and have to drive hours to see it live, so mostly listen to records, yup, or youtube. We don't usually put it on until Thanksgiving morning, but it was so late this year I cheated and snuck a new recording I really like - King's College Choir with Baroque instruments.
  14. So sorry to read this, I am holding you and their grieving family in the light, and also your friend.
  15. I was pregnant with dd23 and fully vaccinated when I caught whooping cough - coughed hard for 6 weeks. Whooping cough is hard to diagnose once you've reached the coughing phase - if they culture for it now it will likely come back negative regardless. The beginning sore throat and low-grade fever went away after a week then the cough just got worse and worse. I never "whooped" but crikey it was awful. The most undignified pregnancy ever - I would cough and cough until I gagged, plus other less-speakable indignities. I couldn't take any otc stuff due to pregnancy, just tea with lemon and honey (which didn't help at all.) I hope your cough clears soon!
  16. The Christmas Miracle of Johnathon Toomey, A Child's Christmas in Wales plus The Tailor of Gloucester are must-reads for our family each year.
  17. Thanks! I actually never wear Birks, and I also go to the Blue Hill Fair every year. We read the Off to the Fair chapter as we drive there.
  18. Are you looking for an informative and delicious family vacation? You might consider volunteering or just camping out at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association's Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine. For all Maine-based hive folks - see you at the Fair! I'll be the one getting the double helping of tempura root veggies.
  19. This might sound sort of simplistic and only pertains to younger kids but I read the original Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books to my kid when they were little, and I really believe they helped with behavior like this. I'm remembering one story about the boy who loves animals but forgets to do all the chores when Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle leaves him alone at her farm. To this day as teens and olders, they tease each other about being like a particular character if one of them is "having a moment." Not petty. When Mama ain't happy....
  20. Congratulations on your "official" homeschool! I'm guessing the new hybrid school friendships will blossom gradually as the kids get to know each other. The way it worked for us was by following their interests into activities like the theater workshop, then being ready to drive or otherwise find ways to be able to have play dates or hang out time with new friends. You could also put up a flyer at your church or a local food coop or farmer's market to either start a more inclusive homeschool group or a parent-child group devoted to something like trash clean-up at a park. You could meet up at the park on a day you have off from work, do the volunteer activity then just socialize. You could host a fall get-together for a few of them, maybe with a mom or two so you also get some new friends options. It sounds like your child is ready for exploring her interests in real life as opposed to online, so my advice is take the opening and run with it, and she'll know she has options when she's a teen and the peer pressure to be constantly online will be more intense. I'm not familiar with online groups for kids, though I'm sure others here have ideas.
  21. Freeze pesto, finish apple butter, get all the spuds out of the ground. These are really just ways to pretend dd23 and I aren't getting on a plane and moving her to Switzerland on Tuesday. Finish lists for dd14 and dh for next week.
  22. If the kids are also Whole 30, obviously disregard my suggestions above. Maybe an alternative simple array always in the fridge: large numbers of roasted chicken thighs plus lots of roasted sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil and salt; jars and jars of peanut butter and roasted sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, and celery, and coconut-almond granola with coconut and almond milk.
  23. Cooking for teens, especially boys, is the proverbial threading the beads onto the string with no knot at the end. Endless. I loved the "Zits" cartoon that said something like "Cook your teen a snack and he'll eat for a day. Teach your teen to cook his own snack and your kitchen will be a wreck forever." Two words to save money and sanity: complex carbohydrates. My boys snacked on enormous bowls of brown rice, sri racha and peanut butter, extreme amounts of corn tortillas, canned refried beans, and cheese, and yogurt/muesli by the case. If you can have something like these for them to make for themselves all the time, they can eat before the activities and you can get some respite to plan and cook the real meals like others have suggested above. Agree with always having foolish amounts of eggs on hand, it helps to have your own chickens! Your rage is real, but they will grow up. Go with bulk, easy, and healthy. They will never look back and say gee we wish our meals had been more exciting when we were teens, I guarantee.
  24. I'm sorry for your pain at this, it's not easy. I was the first (lonely) homeschool mom in my area, and now I'm the last - all of dd14's friends are heading to high school this year. My oldest is 30 and I've remained good friends with the mom of his best friend who also homeschooled through high school. Likewise, my older daughter had only one friend who went all the way through and her mom and I are also good friends. I do find myself reading these boards more and more, imagining myself friends with interesting lovely moms. All the homeschooled friends of my younger two went or are going this year to public high school and I have no mom friends among their parents. It feels so sad. I felt most at home with the moms of the older ones, and not just in age. The younger moms (mostly of kids now heading to high school) have been weirdly competitive about more things during the homeschool years - schooling, sports, activities - than we old ladies were back in the day. Is this because college is harder to get into? Is the culture more competitive as a result of the internet and the need for instagram likes? I agree with MissLemon and klmama about how new school moms seem very rah rah, whether justifying their decision or just more of that same competitiveness. Selkie, I'm so sorry - I will never complain again about having only a couple of homeschool mom friends!
  25. Really rare. This has been a hard reality for my two middles. It was very hard for either of them to form close friendships in the first two years, since everyone else was bonding at "parties" on the weekends. My dd who graduated this year said that the music conservatory students drank a bit less due to time spent practicing. It seemed to her that everyone, college and conservatory, settled down and drank less in junior year, and many new friendships blossomed that year for her because of it. I'm hoping this is true, as ds is entering junior year as a secular teetotaler and he has been really lonely because of it. They were/are shocked at how much students drink when they or their parents are spending so much money to send them to college - what's the point of being there? Mine were lucky to be at the same college and had each other to hang out with on weekends.
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