Saturday, September 29, 2007

Booklist in Omni Outliner

For some time I've been wanting to start recording all the books I check out from the library for M and C. I could have just made a list of them in a Word document but I wanted a way to tag and organize them by categories with some books in multiple categories. What I need is something similar to the way iTunes organizes music with a general library and then the ability to group those songs into different playlists except my playlists would be book categories. I haven't figured out a way to do exactly what I want (working within the constraints of my system and budget) but I have developed a workable substitute in Omni Outliner.

I made an outline of all my books separating them into categories by type: baby board books, short picture books, long picture books, easy readers, chapter books. For each entry, you can make notes so in the notes section I add tags like: Halloween, animals, anatomy, fall, etc. I can then do a search of the document to find all books with the word "animals" in the notes.

Science Exploration

This week we checked out What Makes a Magnet? From the library. It's part of the Let's Read and Find Out About Science series which I highly recommend. On Wednesday morning, I usually keep M home from preschool so we can meet some of her friends from the toddler playgroup we used to have. During C's nap, we have some Mommy and M school time and this week, we did the experiments from the magnet book. We gathered objects in a cardboard box, some that would attract a magnet and some that would not. Then we tied a magnet from the fridge to a pencil and M "fished" for the objects. Then we used the magnet to make another magnet using a needle and turned the needle into a compass. M couldn't wait to tell her dad all that she'd learned we he got home. It was definitely a successful lesson!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Car Survival Kit

I was talking with a friend yesterday about what we keep in our cars so I thought I'd make a list of all the things I've found handy to keep in the car:

change of clothes for both girls
first aid kit
poison care kit (added after M ate a mushroom in a friend's yard when she was 18 mos)
towels (good for wiping water off park equipment and many other things)
water bottles
plastic bags
umbrella stroller
sweaters for everyone (and hats and gloves in the winter)

Friday, September 14, 2007

This Week's Books

Since I last posted we've done lots of chapter book reading. I'm amazed by M's capacity to listen to longer and longer stories. I love seeing her face light up at the prospect of reading. Today when I picked up from preschool, I told her that C and I had gotten a whole new stack of library books for her. She was thrilled and began looking through them the moment she got inside the house.

We're currently reading Half Magic by Edgar Eager. The chapters are very long so we're splitting them up into two or three reading session . I thought M might find the storyline too complex or be frustrated by the many literary and cultural references she wouldn't recognize but we're over halfway through and she still wants to keep going. As we read the chapter where the children meet King Arthur, M said she wanted to read some of the stories the children were talking about so checked out Young Arther by Robert Sans Souci.

I'm enjoying this stage of reading where M can enjoy such a wide range or books from short picture books to fairly complex chapter books. Having so much to choose from is wonderful.

Chapter Books We've Read Recently:
*Pony-Crazed Princess #7 and Ellie's Summer Vacation
*Goldie the Sunshine Fairy by Daisy Meadows (a bit insipid for my taste but M enjoyed it)
*Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace and the next three books in that series
*Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo
*We started reading The Penderwicks but the themes were a little too advanced for M so we decided to stop and read it when she's a bit older.

Picture Books We're Enjoying
*Many Moons by James Thurber
*Big Brother Little Sister by Papa Oyibo
*The Three Little Witchs' Storybook by Georgie Adams
*O'Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott
*Let's Make Rabbits by Leo Leoni
*Leon the Chameleon by Melanie Watt

Friday, July 20, 2007

Science Exploration

M and her dad had a great time the other day using the computer to answer some of her myriad questions about anatomy, both human and animal. Using Google Images and Wikipedia, they were able to find pictures and info about the human skeleton as well as the skeleton's of frogs and several other animals. M would announce what she wanted to see and then her dad would type in a search in Google Images to get a picture and then find further info in Wikipedia if need be. The spent the better part of an hour exploring and it turned out to be a great Daddy/daughter bonding experience as well as terrific science learning.

They also read from The First Encyclopedia of the Human Body, an Usborne reference book that is one of M's favorite reads. I would recommend it for anyone child interested in learning about the body. The Usborne catalog lists is as age 8 and up but M is happy to listen to it anytime.

This Week's Books

M filled up her stamp card for the library's summer reading program so she got to pick out a free book. She picked Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott and she love it!

Other picture books we're enjoying this week:
The Fool and the Fish, a tale from Russia by Alexander Nikolayevich Afanasyev
New Socks by Bob Shea (very silly, reminds me of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus)
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell (author of Apples Here, one of our all times favorites)
T. Rex by Vivian French (great for any child interested in paleontology)

We just finished reading Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelave which M adored. We'll start on one of the sequels soon. We just started the first book in The Unicorn's Secret series. M likes it so far but we've only read one chapter.

I'm reading a great historical romance by an author I've been wanting to try, Gaelyn Foley. This book is the first in her new trilogy set partially in India. I can hardly put it down. The title is Her Only Desire.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Activities To Do With A Preschooler

As mentioned below, when I was pregnant with C, I started making a list of activities that I could do with M so I wouldn't have to wrack my brain every time I needed a fresh activity or something to get up out of the house. I'd been working on the list and my plans for the summer when I ran across this post on Zen Habits and found a lot of activities I hadn't thought to add.

A few caveats: I've left activities on the list that I have found difficult to do now that I understand the reality of having a baby and a preschooler like going swimming. We regularly do lots of crafts, so I didn't include activities like painting or using markers.

Here's my list in no particular order.
Do a cooking project
Go swimming
Go to the park
Make a playdate with friends
Play in the yard
Watch a movie
Do errands we can walk to (for us that includes going to the post office, renting a movie, buying bread at a local bakery, and going to the library, buying coffee beans from our favorite roastery)
Check out books from the library
Go to a coffee shop for a snack
Go to our local nature center/zoo
Play with sidewalk chalk
Pull out a toy we haven't played with before or a new toy from my stash (I keep a few inexpensive toys in a closet for special days when we need something new)
Go to the children's museum
Play with playdough
Paint with water
Do some pages in an activity book
Go to Barnes and Noble and read and play with the Thomas set.
Go see the animals at Pet Smart
Set up the tent to play in
Go for ice cream
Do a treasure hunt
Play games on the computer (like those at PBS Kids)
Dance to fun music
Water play outside
Decorate cookies
Find an educational show like on Animal Planet, Discovery, etc
Take a collecting walk and search for special rocks, leaves, pinecones, etc.

Summer Structure

After reading a post at Parent Hacks about structured versus unstructured summers and a message on a homeschooling list about how to structure learning for a Pre-K aged child, I was inspired to write up the structure we're using for Mommy and M school.

When I was in my last month of pregnancy last spring, I worked myself into a near panic about the weeks of summer during which I would have a newborn baby and no preschool for my 3.5 year old. Being a chronic planner, I decided to make some lists of crafts and get supplies for them. I also made a list of activities we could do both at home or to get us out of the house, since I was afraid that my sleep-deprived post-partum brain wouldn't be able to come up with any ideas on the spur of the moment (I'll write these up in another post.) I also thought up a loose schedule for our early mornings. M is an early riser so we usually have several hours together before any of her friends are ready for a playdate.

As the end of M's preschool year neared, we made a chart for the fridge that shows the things we want to accomplish each day. She drew a picture for each, and I wrote a word or spelled it out for her. The eight things on our chart are: getting ready for the day (dressing, brushing teeth, etc), letter lesson (from Modern Curriculum Phonics), number lesson (from Singapore Kindergarten Math) art, chores, snack, taking a walk, and reading together. We don't do all these every day, and we hardly ever do them in the same order, but it's a nice structure for us.

So on weekdays, once we've eaten breakfast, I let M choose what she wants do to first (assuming C is co-operating) and we get started on our "school' day. Then in the late morning when C is up from her nap, we leave the house for an outing, a playdate, or errands. Our afternoons tend to be much slower, lots of creative unstructured play, occasionally with a friend, and maybe another walk or some park time, or a movie if we're tired or too hot to get outside.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fantasy Read-Alouds and Other Cool Books

I'm so exicted that M is now soaking up chapter books. She loves to be read to and is really getting the longer stories. We just finished The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and she asked for more stories about magcial worlds. I asked for fantasy read-aloud suggestions at The Denim Jumper. Here's a list of the suggestions I've gotten as well as a few from a librarian friend.

Fantasy Read Alouds

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as well as the other Narnia books
The Unicorns of Balinor by Mary Stanton
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
The Tail of Emily Windsap (and sequels) by Liz Kessler
Thora: A Half-Mermaid Tale by Gillain Johnson
The Adventure of the Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton
I, Houdini by Lynn Banks
Phantom Tollbooth
My Father's Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Dealing with Dragon (and sequels) by Patricia Wrede
The Unicorn Secret series by Kathleen Duey
The Secret of the Unicorn Queen by Josepha Sherman and Gwen Hansen
Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson

Here are some other (non-fantasy) read-alouds that are on our list for the future:

The Railway Children
Little House on the Prairie series
The Wind in the Willows
The Penderwicks
Cricket in Times Square
Stuart Little
The Secret Garden
Betsy Tacy series
Harriet the Spy

Read-Alouds We've Already Done
Winnie the Pooh
The House at Pooh Corner
The Boxcar Children
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Pony-Crazed Princess Books 1-6
Mercy Watson To the Rescue (and the two sequels)

In researching these titles on Amazon, I also found a great list of read-alouds for preschoolers who are ready to listen to longer books.

Picture Books we're enjoying this week

The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Cambell Ernst
Scarecrow Boy Margaret Wise Brown
A Tree is a Plant (Let's Read and Find Out About Science Series)
Olivia by Ian Falconer
A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban
Amanda Pig and Her Best Friend Lollipop by Jean Van Leeuwen
Little Rabbit Runaway by Harry Horse

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Turtles, Gingerbread, Reading and Charlie and Lola

Last Monday, I took M and C to our local Nature Center. C slept in the wrap most of the time but she did get a look at the otters. The highlight for M was getting to hold a box turtle which was handed to her by one of our new babysitters, who volunteers there. M says she wants to volunteer too when she's bigger.

We had a fun playdate on Friday where we rolled out and decorated gingerbread cookies with one of M's friends. We told her friend about The Gingerbread Girl, a book we recently discovered. We're going to have to get it again from the library.

We'd been trying to get Charlie and Lola Volume 4 to watch for the last several weeks and it was finally available. We had a blast watching some new adventures. I'm so glad M is wanting to watch something that I really enjoy too. I think the shows are well-made and Lola's personality is quite similar to M's so M really gets her. We've been enjoying the books too.

M continues to get closer to reading on her own. During our school time this week, she finished the phonics books we've been using, Modern Curriculum Press Level K and I was amazed how well she did on the last few lessons. Every few lessons there is a tear-out four page book. At first, M wasn't very interested in them, but we went back to review and she recognized several sight words I didn't think she knew. I'm loving getting to experience her journey into reading.

This morning, I described several chapter books to her since she wanted to start a new one. As soon as I said the words "magical land", she chose The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. She's fascinated by magic and imaginary worlds right now. We read the first two chapters, and she's hooked.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Crib Sleeping Hack

I'm a big fan of Parent Hacks. I've found some wonderful advice there and after being a regular reader for several months. I now see hacks everywhere, and like many of the people who write to Asha, the editor of Parent Hacks, I often assume everyone already knows about these hacks. Then I end up surprised when I pass it on to a friend who had never thought of it. So in the spirit of sharing even if everyone already knows it, here's a hack I just implemented.

C is 12 weeks old today and rapidly outgrowing her bassinet. She sleeps well in it and I'm concerned that the transition to the crib will be rocky. Here's the plan I implemented. First I started putting the removal top of her bassinet in the crib. She's been sleeping like that for about two weeks. Now, I've started keeping the bassinet hood down and getting her used to seeing what is in the room around her. Next I will stop using the vibration on the bassinet which I rarely use now but still occasionally turn on when she's having a hard time settling herself. A few days after that, I'll remove the bassinet completely.

C takes her afternoon naps in my room since she shares a room with M who has a very noisy "quiet" time in the afternoon. To help C get used to sleeping elsewhere without the bassinet, I'm going to start putting the bassinet top inside the pack-n-play today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Diaper Bag List

I've been reading a lot of posts about organization on my various feeds lately, and they've inspired me to try to get back to some of the routines and organizational strategies I've used in the past. When I was packing my diaper bag/purse to go to our local Nature Center today, I decided to revise the list I used to keep detailing what needed to be in the bag and share it here:

Changing pad
Plastic bags for dirty diapers or clothes
Burp rag
Small blanket
Change of clothes for the baby
Pony-tail bands for me and my 3yo
Water bottles (one for me, one for my 3yo)
A baby toy or two
Crayons and a small notebook
Small can of playdough
Small first aid kit (band-aids, alcohol wipes)
Sunhat for the baby
Cell phone

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sarah's Reading

I'm longing for more reading time right now, but I have manged to finish a few books since C was born along with re-reads of the relevant sections of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, which saved my sanity with my first daughter. I'm a fairly ecclectic reader, I typically turn to romance or chick lit for fun reading but I also enjoy sci fi and fantasy and I've found myself doing more non-ficiton reading lately. Some of what I've read in the last few months:

The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr - This one nearly took too much concentration for my post-partum mind, but I found it fascinating when I could focus on it. Seeing the interplay between religion and politics in the Middle East that most of our leaders have ignored was both disturbing and enlightening.

Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran - After reading The Shia Revivial, I was inspired to read more about the situation in Iraq, and I chose this book based on my dh's recommendation. I found it insightful and well-written. It gives a very revealing look at life inside the Green Zone where the Coalition Provisional Authority was stationed from May 2003-June 2004.

The Baker's Apprentice by Judith Ryan Hendricks - This book is the sequel to Bread Alone which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wanted to become a bread baker myself after reading it. I didn't like this volume quite as much. The shift in narrators (back and forth from the main character to her love interest) didn't work well in my opinion, but I would still recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first book.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber - I sought out more books that celebrate food after reading The Baker's Apprentice and this turned out to be as good as the blurb I read about it sounded. I loved Abu-Jaber's descriptions of the food of her childhood and how it shaped her vision of her Jordanian/American heritiage. The essays also got me thinking more about the experience of immigrants in America.

The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney - A great Regency romance read. Mary Jo Putney is one of my favorite romance writers. Several of her books have remained on my keeper shelf for over a decade, and it was nice to re-visit some characters from other stories I'd read.

I'm currently re-reading Charlotte Mason's A Philosophy of Education. I first read her 6 volume homeschooling series several years ago when I was teaching high school and doing a lot of thinking about what is wrong with our educational system.

What We've Been Doing This Week

It's been hard to enjoy all the summer activities I'd like to be doing with my family since we have a 3 month old. I'd expected lots of things to be difficult in the first months with a new baby, but I hadn't anticipated how difficult it would be to take a tiny baby who can't have sunscreen on to the pool or even out to a park. We have managed to do some of what we'd planned though and we're still hoping to go berry picking some time in the next few weeks and I'm figuring out the logistics of the pool party one of M's friends is having next week.

This week we went to the farm at the Biltmore Estate and M was able to hold a 1 week old baby chick which was very exciting for her. We saw lambs and horses and goats as well. Then we went up to the restored horse barn where M got to climb on some antique tractors and farm wagons. We wrapped up the morning with a picnic and some ice cream. C spent most of the time asleep in the Moby Wrap (the one piece of baby equipment I could not do without).

M has summer preschool for the next few weeks and on Wednesday they had water play day which she thought was a blast. We also got to have several friends over to play and on Thursday we went to one of the summer reading program activities at the library. A woman make some very intricate balloon art and did magic tricks. It was loud and cheesy but M adored it. C got squirmy and fussy so we didn't get to check out too many books but we did find a few that M is really enjoying - Hot Hippo by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway, a fable about why the hippos lives in the water during the day and comes out at night to eat grass and Fabian Escapes by Peter McCarty , a very simple story about a dog and a cat and how they spend the day.

M has also been begging for chapter after chapter of books 5 and 6 in the Pony-Crazed Princess series by Diana Kimpton. The books arrived in the mail mid week and we're already on the second one. We've also been having fun with our other book purchase - Charlie and Lola's Picnic Sticker Stories.

M loves to help me bake, something I'm looking forward to doing more and more as the girls get older. On Friday, we made raisin scones before some friends came over. It's been a long time since we've decorated cookies. I'm hoping we can make some gingerbread men next week.

re-introducing myself

It's been quite a while since I posted. I now have a second dd who is almost 3 months old. I'm generally on leave from my writing job though I'm starting to work a little bit again. I want to start posting again, particularly about the activities I'm doing this summer with M and C.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Wonder of School Valentines

M was so excited this morning about her upcoming school Valentine's Day party that she was about to burst. Unlike many of her friend's preschools, hers puts on a full candy and cupcake extravaganza. I succumbed to the reality that we weren't going to make Valentines for everyone in her school (though we did make them for the teachers) and let her pick out a box of glittery foil Disney Princess cards. I was very excited that she wanted to write her own name on each of them and she loved helping pick out a message heart lollipop for each one. Despite my reservations about giving each child yet another piece of candy, I wasn't going to be caught unaware like I was last year when I was one of only two moms who hadn't realized that Valentine's Day was like Halloween the sequel.

Watching her excitement as Valentine's neared, I started thinking about my own school Valentine's experience and how Valentine's Day has never gotten any better than a handmade folder filled with silly cards and treats. After some vicious fights over the proper way to celebrate Valentine's Day in the early years of our relationship, my husband and I have settled into a comfortable pattern of romantic dinners at as nice a restaurant as we can afford at the time. I enjoy the evenings out, even more now that we're parents, but compared with my daughter's level of excitement, the holiday might as well have passed completely unobserved by me. Now I'm looking forward to picking up M, looking at all her cards and sharing her treats. Yes, she actually we share with me, at least when treats come in abundance.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Moms Judging Moms

I just read an excellent post at Her Bad Mother about cocktail playdates, the ludicrous expectations that are placed on mothers, and the way we all judge each other. The discussion of how we are all guilty of judging other moms and whether this is all bad or not made me think about some of the ways I judge and experience the judgment of other moms.

I live in a fairly crunchy hippie neighborhood, but I'm more middle of the road on hot button issues like diet, TV, sleep training, etc. There are often times when moms I know ask for advice on parenting issues, and I hold my tongue because they would be horrified by my answers. Sometimes when I end up participating in a discussion of how much TV or sweets we allow I lie or at least try not to answer. I've run into problems having some of M's friends over because M and I will plan a fun activity like decorating cookies and then I'll realize the friend's mother would be horrified if I gave her daughter cookies.

But I'm not the innocent party here. I judge these parents too. I might just roll my eyes about what I see as over-bearing strictures, but when I really get up on my high horse is when moms complain about situations they've gotten themselves into then refuse to accept any helpful advice. For example, on a local mailing list, moms frequently complain of being severely sleep-deprived and I know they must be. Yet they refuse to make any effort to reduce the number of times their toddler nurses at night or consider any sleep arrangements other than a family bed. Co-sleeping didn't work for me, but I have no fundamental problem with it. I simply don't want to hear someone complain that they are tired and need help but refuse to make any changes. So I judge them for their choices.

Most of us have parenting issues we feel passionate about to the extent that we cannot accept the opposite opinion as a valid choice for anyone. Is this bad? I'm not sure. I think we do need to have debates and forums where we can express our opinions. If I'd never had the chance to listen to the opinions of mothers that differed from mine when my daughter was a baby, I might never have realized that other perfectly respectable mothers were making choices that could bring back my sanity (like putting my daughter in a crib and letting her cry herself to sleep).

But what made these different opinions more palatable was hearing them from my friends. If we'd judged each other too harshly, we could never have become friends. I think that ultimately what is best is that we all have courage to speak out about our own successes and failures as parents even if we fear being judged. That way we recognize that most people don’t buy wholesale into any one ideology even if they appear to. So maybe if I'm asked today I'll admit that my daughter had some Valentine candy before breakfast, because she went to sleep last night without a struggle. And this afternoon she'll get to eat the lollipop she got at the doctor while she watches Diego and Wonder Pets.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Exposé on Annie's Mac and Cheese

I have been feeling shame every time I've cooked up a box or Kraft Mac and Cheese for my daughter because I was too lazy too go to the healthy grocery store to get Annie's or just fed up with paying three times as much for the "healthier" stuff. Now I don't have to feel so bad.

Check out this article from Salon that shows that Annie's isn't really any better than the old blue and white box.

Baby Blues or Full-Blown Depression?

A few weeks ago, I was scanning through posts at Parent Hacks and found a review of The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children and Struggling with Depression by Tracey Thompson. I got a copy of the book from the library and devoured it in a a few sittings. I struggled with feelings of depression after my first daugther was born in 2003, but I never sought professional help. I would read lists of symptoms that were supposed to detect whether you just have "baby blues" or "postpartum depression". I could never decide if what I was feeling was "worse" than what I was "supposed" to feel. But in retrospect whatever diagnosis might have been appropriate for my feelings, I should have seen a counselor.

Unlike so many of the OBs described in the book, my midwives, did ask questions about how I was feeling and try to detect if I needed help. But I told them I was fine, because I was convinced that I just needed to tough it out. When I read the narratives in the book by women who had suffered from depression, both postpartum and as a mother of older kids, many of their feelings resonated with what I had experienced and occasionally experience now. But these symptoms were not things I would normally have associated with depression - intense anxiety and feeling of rage where you want to throw things, pound your fists, pull out your hair, etc.

The thing that I credit with pulling me out of the worst of my new mom depression was connecting with an amazing group of women who also had newborns. We met at a Mommy and Me group which we quickly altered from a planned series of formal discussions and presentations to a time to gripe and bitch and get advice from each other. Three and a half years later there are eight of us who still get together for playdates or drink nights or the now famously controversial drinking playdate.

I am due with my second baby in April, and I cannot say how thankful I am for these friends, one of whom is due with her second child the same day as me. I know they will be literally sanity-saving help again. But this time, I've also asked my midwives for names of counselors so I can establish a relationship with a professional before I have the baby and thus have yet another type of support in place in case I need it.

I highly recommend The Ghost in the House to any mom who has experienced depression at any stage in her journey. The book is an interesting mix of narratives from the author and woman she interviewed and scientific information about depression and the options for treatment. Most important of all, it encourages women to get help despite the cultural stigma around mental illness and the pressure for moms to pretend to be happy no matter how miserable they are.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Great Post On Teaching Science

Life Without School is one of my favorite homeschool blogs, and there is a great post up now about teaching science. Check it out here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Obsessing Over Educational Choices

I've spent far too much time over the last three years agonizing/obsessing over what we are going to do about schooling for M: homeschool, public school, part time private school (only one option for this in our area and it's expensive). I tell myself I don't need to worry so much about it but I feel like it's such an important decision and I truly enjoying checking out curricula and reading about educational theories so I doubt I'll listen to the voice telling me to slow down.

Our local public schools have a magnet school system where you decide your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice schools and students are chosen my a lottery. There are also two charter schools that get good reviews from both parents and students. So we are fortunate to have some good choices school wise, but I'm just not sure I want to send M to school full time.

I first became attracted to homeschooling over ten years ago when I had the opportunity to meet a few wonderful homeschooling families whose kids I admired. Since then I've done oodles of research on the subject and while my daughter is currently in preschool we are also doing some homeschooling activities as well. For me, two of the biggest attractions of homeschooling are the freedom to make our own schedule, allowing more time for enrichment activities without sacrificing playtime and the opportunity to tailor a curriculum to fit a student who may be at different levels in different subjects and who may benefit from a wide variety of educational approaches.

The downside is that to stay sane I'm fairly sure I would have to reduce the hours I work or stop working altogether. I'd planned to be a full time stay-at-home mom but when I got the chance to write professionally, I didn't want to turn it down. My work is something that fulfills me, and I don't want to give it up. I'm also someone who needs a lot of time alone to be happy, and while I would certainly involve our family in activities with other homeschoolers, I'm not sure I could get enough of this if we were homeschooling full time.

For now, I'm planning to look at schools when the time comes next year and to also continue to investigate the opportunities in our area for homeschoolers. I'm also experimenting with some homeschool activities now. My daughter loves doing workbook pages, and she's very interested in learning to read and learning more about numbers. So I got Modern Curriculum Press's K Level Phonics book and the first year of Singapore Math's 2 year kindergarten program. We spend about 10 minutes a day on each on the days when she's interested and so far we having a lot of fun. We also do a lot of informal art and science activities together and as you can see from the last post we read a lot.

As I explore more and learn more about our choices, I'll keep sharing my thoughts.

January Reading

These are some of the books we've been enjoying this month:

A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban - This one launched us on a re-read of all the Frances books, there's a Frances craze at our house right now with us singing little bits of the great quirky songs in the books constantly.

Penny and Patch from the Breyer Stablemates series. M has a large collection of horses that include everything from realistic Safari Farm models to the purplest, glitteriest My Little Pony's you can imagine and they are one of the toys she plays with consistency, typically daily. Horsey school (where the horses go to preschool) and horse doctor a lot.

Big Green Pocketbook by Candace Ramsom - this has been a library favorite for over a year and we're thrilled to have our own copy now

Time for Ballet - another library favorite. M has been taking ballet since August and she typically adores it although she's been less entusiastic about class lately.

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems - M had this one memorized in a matter of days. The pigeons excuses for not going to bed sound so much like her that we've all been thoroughly amused. We have a copy of Willem's Knuffle Bunny and it is a frequent read at our house. We'd never read any of the pigeon books, but we went to the library days after she received this one and checked out The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. They are also hits.

Mama Coming and Going by Judith Caseley - M loves to laugh at the mom in the book who feels like she's loosing her mind after having a second child. She keeps asking me if I'm going to be crazy after our baby is born and I tell her I probably will.

Henry and Mudge and the Big Sleepover by Cynthia Rylant - This is one I would never have predicted M would like since all the characters are boys and she is generally anti-boy right now, but she loves it.. She picked it off the shelf because it had pictures of kids having a sleep over, something she keeps asking to do and my already sleep-deprived self resists.

The Pea Patch Jig by Thatcher Hurd - A group of mice have a party in the garden where they live but the baby keeps causing trouble.

Sugar Snow - a Laura Ingalls Wilder picture book adaptation

Math for all Seasons by Greg Tang - This book has great counting and simple addition exercises. I wasn't sure what she'd think but M keeps asking for it again and again.

Little Rabbit Goes to School by Harry Horse - We love all the Little Rabbit books!

I'm A Big Sister by Joanna Cole - This is a positive take on being a big sister. So many of the big sister books I've found were just the older siblings complaints. I'm trying to be realistic with about how much time the baby will take, but I don't want to set M up to be resentful.

More Adventures of Amanda Pig - We discovered Amanda and Oliver last summer and we've had fun reading through their adventures. This was one we hadn't read yet.

Welcome to my blog!

I am a mom, a wife, a potential homeschooler, a writer, a baker, and a woman keenly interested in the difficulties facing mothers in our culture today. I describe myself as a stay-at-home mom when someone asks what I do, but in fact I work from home (or more realistically from coffee shops) about fifteen hours per week as a writer. I choose how many hours I want to work, and I'm constantly debating the trade offs. More time to have fun with my daughter and my husband or more sense of personal accomplishment? More sleep or more money for luxuries?

I am strongly considering homeschooling my 3 year old daughter when she reaches kindergarten age (she's in preschool now and I work during those hours). I'm expecting a second daughter in April, and I know my feelings about school may change as our family grows. I'm going to let this blog develop as I go, but for now, I'm planning to post about my homeschooling explorations, parenting ups and downs, and book lists of what I'm reading with my daughter.