River's Edge Urban Academy

Homeschooling 4 kids ages 9, 6, 4 and baby while working as a postpartum nurse and lactation counselor.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This is the same kind of turtle that we found at the North Mississippi Regional Park. The one we found was a tiny baby, though.
I had the awesome experience of attending the intro boxing class at Uppercut Gym in Notheast Minneapolis.
I went with a good friend who had done it before and it was one of the best times I have had in a while. I learned so much about how to hit and how to move my body to hit really hard. I am pretty much a meek person and have never punched another person for real so it was really exhilirating to suddenly know how to punch REALLY hard and get to do it over and over. I got home and made the mistake of showing the kids what I learned so we had many discussions of SAFE ways to practice boxing!
Also dyed the front of J's hair hot pink last night. She looks so cute. It makes her normally pretty blue eyes just sparkle and look twice as blue. I might do the back turquoise as I have lots of that left. I am such a cool mom I cannot even stand it.
Aaack, my punching muscles are so sore and tired I literally cannot type anymore!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

We were gearing up for yet another camping trip, this time to DeSmet, SD. I went grocery shopping Thursday afternoon for our camping food. Two blocks from home the van died. I was so irritated, but thankful that we were at least ALMOST home and not stranded at the grocery store on a 97 degree day with frozen groceries! We left the food in the car and fortunately Ryan picked it up with 1/2 hour and everything was more or less still frozen.
So the camping trip was called off! I was also supposed to pick my little brother up at the airport the next day but I had no wheels. That turned into another adventure when the kids and Malcolm and I took the bus to the LRT to the airport terminal then on an underground tram to the baggage area where we picked him up. The kids were on awesome behavior and it really was pretty fun, even for me! The big kids were so helpful about holding the stroller and holding Zeff's hand on the bus and LRT.
We had friends over for supper that night and then J and I went with my cousin and Malcolm to the Harry Potter party at Barnes and Noble from 10p to 12:30am. Yes we are naughty moms! We had a great time and it was a very fun environment with crafts to make and shows to watch and a fortune teller and some snakes.
Today was a lovely day that made up for the insanity leading up to it. My husband and as many as 4 other guys spent the better part of Friday afternoon and evening trying to fix my van. They got nowhere but early this afternoon Ryan figured it out on his own! I am SO PROUD of him!
I am also a very useful and accomplished person... I spent the three hours while my baby napped and my big kids were at a birthday party curled up with Harry Potter, a Pepsi Lime and a bag of Dove Dark Chocolates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was like CHRISTMAS! But better! So that was the highlight of my week. Actually my month.
PS Unrelated but I just have to say: Weetabix are awesome. I have never been a huge fan of British food but these things are just simple and healthy and with a little sugar and some strawberries they make the world's most perfect breakfast. They do require sugar, though.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How to "Do School"????

Well I have been having an awful time sleeping lately and I spend most of the time I am not sleeping debating my educational plans, mostly in regards to J. I have been re-reading all my hs books and re-researching hs info on the internet. That's not what is really bothering me, but it is more fun to think about.
I have totally fallen out of love with Calvert aside from Calvert Math. The reading just feels like she gets so little out of it for the time it takes. She dutifully fills in the blanks of the worksheets and mildly likes the stories, but enjoys so much more reading to me or her brothers from easy readers she checked out of the library and writing her own lists, letters, collector's corner reports, etc. And I really do feel like she learns just as much when we follow her lead as when we follow a curriculum. I have admitted before that the curriculum mostly serves me, to assuage my fears of not doing a good job as a teacher.
So... the grand experiment begins.....
We will be following a "relaxed eclectic" homeschooling style in the fall and planning to stick to it for a full year. Or starting now as it is probably going to be about the same as what we are doing now. I am only a little nervous about this because I am not calling it unschooling!
What it looks like right now is, we are making time almost daily for math, writing and reading. Science is happening daily in the form of observing nature and reading nonfiction books. History, ummm, history is happening a little bit.
The math is probably the only part that looks like school as we are still working through Calvert Math. However, J is interested in and good at math and she finds countless opportunities to use and learn about it all the time. For example, Joss also has quite a bit of money (like $15!) and sorts through it and counts it often and since nearly half of it is in coins that is really quite a good $ counting exercise!
We end up reading books all together at least once or twice through the day and almost always at bedtime. This is happening much more for us, now that I am not trying to keep the boys occupied for hours while I help J "get through" the days schoolwork. J is proud to be able to read to her brothers and they both enjoy it, so that is good practice time for her. The two big kids are doing the summer reading program through the library so that is an added attraction, though we are very bad at logging our books! I have especially been trying to get books that build on current interests to encourage the kids to think deeper and ask more questions about a topic.
Writing is another thing that J really enjoys and does alot of on her own. Today for example she transferred most of the important dates from her old calendar to her new calendar (yes, my kid is way more organized than I am and I didn't even show her how!) and made a birthday card with a short note inside. She also is often writing notes and lists in her different journals and diaries that people have given her. She carries them around in the clinique purse she carries almost everywhere with her. She also has her rocks and all her money and her 3" replica of a buffalohead nickel in it!
I also encourage her writing by suggesting that she write short reports for her collector's corner submissions and now she really enjoys that and thinks of it as a necessary step to bringing in her finds.
Science is happening pretty well I think just in that we spend a lot of time outside observing and learning about nature. We also attend a wide variety of nature classes, partially because they are usually very inexpensive! We also spend a lot of time at the MN Zoo and the Science Museum (just took the kids there last night in fact) so between those and the insect, dinosaur and animal books we get from the library I feel like it is covered, at least for the early years.
History is mostly getting addressed by historical novels (mostly Little House) which I think is okay, though I am planning to start keeping a timeline with the kids that we can add dates and pictures and notes to as we learn about more and more historical figures. After a while it should be a really neat way for them to both recall books we've read and to really get a grasp on what happened when and in relation to what other events, etc.
So that doesn't address spelling and what else? PE? I was always a very good speller and I don't think my spelling lessons had a thing to do with it. I spelled well because I was a very well read kid (I have slacked in recent years, though) and I have a good memory for words. Jossy's spelling is hilarious at this point, ex: for who knows what reason she wrote this in her notebook: ingglich and histrea (English and History). So, we'll see, I figure I am better able than a teacher with 30 kids to see all of her writing and to know what words or families she needs help with so don't need to go through lesson after lesson of spelling tests. Of course, she may be completely unlike me and not a good speller (not my gut feeling) in which case we would figure something else out.
PE: We are pretty active anyway, but I tend to priotitize my "extracurricular" money towards sports or gymnastics, etc to ensure the kids are getting plenty of exercise. I have no illusions that the schools could do any better, sadly it sounds like PE is a pretty low priority with most schools only having it a couple days a week. It's not tested on the stupid tests that determine where the money goes so they can't afford to spend much time on it. Sad.
So that's it. I wrote it out mostly for myself but hope others might enjoy hearing about it. I'd love to hear what anyone thinks about it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Coolio find at No. Mississippi Regional Park!
We were looking at waterbird tracks next to the Miss. River today when we spotted a swimming rock. When Malcolm grabbed it, it turned out to be a tiny little baby turtle with a flexible shell. We took it up to the nature center where they not only identified it as a spiny softshell turtle, but also adopted it and told us we could come back and name it if it adjusts to living at the nature center.
We also listened to Indian in the Cupboard on the way there and back. Since it is is in the low 80s with low humidity we will play in the back yard for the rest of the day and call it a very successful summertime homeschooling day!

Friday, July 01, 2005


"Don't worry mom, I only spilled a tiny drop - but it's like a whole world to a microbe."
I am so embarrassed - and I don't mean a town in Minnesota." She has said this many times, there is a town in MN named Embarass and she finds that fascinating. The kid cracks me up.

"We just have this strange feeling - like something is going to happen." Said by Jossy and her cousin Malcolm, with very mystical, magical looks on their faces. I was very suspicious. Suspected anything that "happened" would be of their own doing, but it must have been under my radar

Well, were packing today for another camping trip. This one more local and with my cousin and her boyfriend and her son (who I also refer to as my cousin or nephew). Should be very fun if we aren't blown away by a storm or eaten alive by mosquitos.