Google The Unplanned Homeschooler

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Entertaining the kids when you're snowed in at home

The schools around here have been out quite a bit lately for snow days. Last week, we got so much slippery precipitation, we stood out in the front yard and watched a truck try to make it up our hill and slide back down three times before the driver gave up. And we live in the middle of town!

These snowy days are either dreaded or beloved by most families, depending on your point of view. Whether they are an unexpected day off to be celebrated or an unwanted challenge, snow days are definitely a change in the routine for those who live in typically warmer climates.

If your kids are stuck at home, indoors, because it is either too cold, too icy or too wet to be outside, you might be at a loss as to how to keep them entertained. As a homeschooler, I’m lucky. We tend to just do extra school work on bad weather days so we can take off when it’s nice outside.

But we do still get bored when it's too cold and wet to do much more than set foot outside, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve for entertaining the kids when we are confined indoors and tired of working on school.

Friday, February 27, 2015

When chaos hits too close to home

Last night, my 13-year-old son had a traumatic experience I hoped none of my kids would have to endure. He took our new puppy outside to potty before bedtime and after just a minute came running back in through the back door, his head down, eyes full of terror and clutching the puppy in his arms.

"Oh my God!" he cried out! "I heard gunshots and someone was screaming to call the police!"

I hadn't heard the shots or the screams, because I was running the

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Goodbye, puppies

There were lots of tears this afternoon. Tears of sadness because we're going to miss the dogs that have consumed so much of our time and attention these last couple of months, and tears of happiness because we are so thankful that they are headed toward happy homes.

Today was the big day, the day the volunteers from the Humane Society came to pick up Blue and all but one of the puppies for their transport to a Chicago area rescue. We knew the day would come when we'd have to say goodbye, but we had no idea how much we'd fall in love with the dogs in such a short time.

From practically the moment Blue showed up in December, our lives were changed. Fostering a pregnant stray and her puppies was hard work and expensive, but they needed a safe home and the experience was memorable and amazing in so many ways.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An unexpected geography lesson

Last week, when my 7-year-old daughter came running up to me with a rock from my mom's garden, exclaiming, "It looks just like that state! The green one!" I knew exactly what she meant.

"Nevada!" I answered, with equal enthusiasm. "It looks like Nevada!" And it did.

We'd been playing Scrambled States of America (affiliate link), one of my kids' favorite games, a few nights before, and when my daughter spotted this particular rock, she remembered the shape of the state it resembled and the discovery excited us both.

Of course I have an atlas!

Remembering that I had an atlas in the van, I went and got it and gave it to her, asking if she'd like to look for more rocks that look like states.

"Yes!" she exclaimed and ran off, rock and atlas in hand to search for more.

By the end of the afternoon, she'd found at least half a dozen states, and wanted to keep looking, but it was getting too chilly and the sun was going down, so I promised to take her and her siblings down to the creek the next day to continue the search.

A whole week of geography

The next day, I printed a copy of the map from the Scrambled States game and then we went to the creek that borders my parent's pasture. There we spent a good part of the afternoon searching the banks for more rocks that resembled states, finding another dozen or so that were excellent approximations.

My daughter was so happy with her finds, she asked if she could paint the rocks to match the states on the map.

"Sure!" I said, really amazed that she'd managed to essentially come up with a whole unit study on geography all on her own.

We'd be working on learning about states for at least a week, maybe more, and she'd have some pretty cool souvenirs to keep for a long time to come.

"This is homeschooling," I thought. What had been a day off from planned studies turned into an amazing learning experience encompassing geography, reading and art that I would have never thought to introduce, but those unplanned homeschooling adventures are the very best part of this form of education.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eagles and owls on hatch watch

One of our favorite things to do is watch live nest cams to observe birds in the wild. We've watched hummingbirds, eagles and owls for the past few years, and it's been so exciting to see the birds grow from hatchlings to fledglings right before our eyes.

A bald eagle I caught in flight behind my parents' house a few years ago.

Right now, two very popular bird cams are on hatch watch, with viewers eagerly awaiting the appearance of baby owls and eagles in Oklahoma and Georgia.

The OKC Owl Cam features an owl family in its fourth year nesting on a ledge on a homeschooling family's house in the Oklahoma City area. You can see what those birds are up to by clicking here.

The Berry College Eagle Cam features a pair of bald eagles in their fourth year of nesting on campus in a tall pine tree. You can watch the eagles day and night by clicking here.

Don't wait too long to check out these amazing bird cams. You'll be thrilled to see feedings in the nest, parents taking off and landing, and young birds growing toward maturity over the coming weeks. These live cams are an incredible resource for homeschoolers or anyone interested in learning more about birds.

Do you have a favorite wildlife cam? Please share it in the comments so we can check it out, too!

They'll never be this little again

Ever since the puppies were born, right after Christmas, time has seemed to fly by more quickly than ever. Those wriggly little creatures have grown from pocket-sized pups to the size of bowling balls in just a matter of six weeks, and in another two weeks they'll be off to new homes, hopefully with families who will love them forever.

One of the lessons my kids are learning through this experience is to savor every moment, because the wonderful times of our lives always go by more quickly than we'd like.

I learned that lesson when my twins were born. Although they grew considerably slower than puppies, the days still zoomed by, leaving me crying melancholy tears as I packed away clothes they'd outgrown each season.

Year after year, as they grew from infants to toddlers, to preschoolers, to big kids and now teenagers, the same thought has tortured my heart: They'll never be this little again.

My 13-year-old son is millimeters away from outgrowing me,

his twin sister can steal my sweaters and my shoes,

and my youngest, born so tiny just seven years ago, will be big enough to ride even the tallest slides at the water park this year!

My babies, like the puppies, are growing up too fast. But we've taken time this month to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather together, and to build some incredible new memories.

Let our unplanned adventures with the puppies inspire you to slow down and relish life with your own kids. Don't get so wrapped up in the day to day grind that you forget how precious these moments are. Enjoy your kids, and snatch up every chance you get to enjoy them while they're however big they are today.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Are you a lonely mom?

How do you meet people and make new friends?

That was the question I kept asking myself. For years I was a very lonely mom, wondering how I could make friends and develop relationships when all the other moms I met were either too busy to hang out or seemed to already have all the friends they needed.

I loved being a mom, and was thrilled to be able to stay home with my kids, but I felt so isolated without friends to hang out with. My college friends had all gone in different directions over the years, and my closest mom friend was hours away. Although we talked on the phone just about every day, it didn't make up for the loneliness I felt.

Isolated by circumstance

My twins were preemies, born during RSV and flu season, and their doctor insisted that I keep them home, away from germs as much as possible. So I didn't get out of the house much when they were babies. By the time they were active toddlers, it felt like I was outnumbered by far more than two to one whenever I tried to take them out anywhere without my husband or another adult. Besides, it was hard to find mommy and me type activities that were welcoming to mothers of multiples.

I thought that when they started preschool, I would meet other moms, schedule play dates and build some lasting friendships. But it didn't happen.