Friday, November 4, 2016


We arrived back in Ecuador just in time to pick the tiny caterpillars off our granadilla (a cousin to passion fruit) and put them in the terrariums given to my son by my high school English teacher. It's one of my favorite projects, watching those tiny specks grow in three weeks to hairy, big-eyed monsters, then build their chrysalises and emerge as butterflies in another three weeks or so.

This year, I found a clump of 50 caterpillars, just hatched and swarming together. It took most of the leaves off my granadilla to feed them, so I'm not sure I did my plant any favors, but they finally made their chrysalises a few days ago (we say cocooned for lack of a better verb).

It's worth waiting 6 weeks for the moment the butterfly bursts out of it's paper thin shell and stretches its wings for the first time. They are very tame and readily climb on our fingers for the trip outside. Even when we let them go, they hang around the yard, flashes of orange that brighten our days.

Kitty doesn't remember doing this a year ago, so the wonder is brand new for her this year. Raccoon does remember, but he is very faithful and gentle about releasing them after their wings dry. He says next year we should sell the chrysalises so everyone can see a butterfly being born.

We are homeschooling again and Raccoon is in first grade. Kitty had two traumatic days at preschool and wants nothing to do with school, nor does she ever want to grow up and have to go to school, nor does she want to have any more birthdays. So for now, she's just watching. :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Public School

Yup, Raccoon is currently attending public school. He wanted to go and we're living right across the street, so it seemed like an ideal time for him to experience traditional school. They put him in K. He did two weeks before Christmas vacation and enjoyed it. In January, his teacher will focus on reading and I'm hoping for an aha! moment for Raccoon. Because if it doesn't happen in January, then February onward, it's all on me again.

Having Raccoon in school has been a good break for me. Mostly because I'm not worrying about how inadequate his education is or isn't with me, and for once, someone else is responsible for planning his educational day.

But the truth? I've missed my little guy. I don't want someone else getting 7 hours of his day.

More truth? Homeschooling and travelling is very hard. What seems simple, just pull out the books, is often anything but that. So I may just give us permission to do life differently when Celosia School is back in session. Field trips. Letters. Journals. Puppet shows. Bob books. Science kits.

After all, it's just Kindergarten (again). We're not even going to get to Parent Conferences in public school, those happen in March. All in all, if we stick to the plan, Raccoon will have spent 30 in public school over 2 months.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Staying Organized

I have played around with several different systems, but for now this is what works for us. I just take a ruler and eyeball 10 columns and 14 rows with a thin row at the top for the subject titles. I use the width of the ruler for columns (cutting the first in hald for Date and Bible). For the rows, I also do one ruler width first, then go back and half them.

My goal is to hit each subject each day, or at least frequently for things like music and art. I also keep track of how many days we do in a month, with the goal each school year being 180. If we don't do anything in that subject for the day, I fill the box with an X. That way, if I scan and a column, say art, has too many Xs, then I know that we need to do some art. If I do three or four social study lessons in one day, then I fill in 4 boxes, either ahead or behind as needed.

I like the size of the boxes because they let me keep track of what we did in a little more detail than just my checkmark system from kindergarten. I don't do the chart on the computer because I lose a lot of space that way. Doing it by hand let's me use the whole page.

Across the top it says:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Seed Picking

One of my favorite things to do is go on a nature walk with the kids all around our neighborhood to see what seeds or plants we can bring home to grow on our land. We only take things from vacant lots or the forest. We have more than 100 plants, mostly planted around the edges of our 1/2 acre.

Tonight's find was some tall purple flowers and cypress seeds. We saw a whole variety on the tree and I finally figured out why our "acorns" have never grown before. Those little things are the seeds, not the cone part. Aha!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Green Pen

Found on a facebook repost from my friend ARQ from Alejandro Hernandez Reyes:

With this picture was an article of a mom who taught her son by circling his best work with a green pen, instead of marking his mistakes in red.

I liked the idea and started doing it today with Raccoon. Instead of focusing on his failures, we circled his successes and the change in his attitude was amazing. He couldn't wait to write his next number to see if it would be his best one yet. And it gave me the chance to point out what makes a number great.

Thank-you, Anonymous Mom, good job!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dough Dinosaurs

We used no-cook Recipe III and I added pumpkin pie spice for smell. 

This book is from 1989.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Make and Do

These last few weeks since moving we've been more unschoolers than not. Raccoon discovered Book 9 "Make and Do" in a set of Childcraft (1968), recently gifted to us. Today's cranky hour project (the twilight zone between Kitty's nap and suppertime) was paper houses. Which inevitably turned into inventing time. Thank you, Childcraft, for a little afternoon peace, except not for the mess in my living room.