Thursday, June 19, 2008

Raisins, Oatmeal, Brown Sugar, Potassium Manganese, and Hydrogen Sulfide

This what I woke up to this morning. Isn't it lovely? Yesterday, my vegetarian friend, Susan, asked if I would cook 3 turkey legs for her. I considered this a strange request, coming from her. She makes lots of strange requests, though, so I said, "Sure." It turns out she needed them for a science experiment for our Thursday co-op. So, last night, in addition to grilling the fish for our fish tacos, Jeff grilled 3 turkey legs. Getting the meat off of the bones was easy. We simply left them on the table when we went to bed and when we woke up whoa la! Clean as a whistle. Any food that is left out gets eaten by Joel and Jules. They are like buzzards or vultures, or something.
So, people often ask me what a typical homeschooling day is like for us. Of course, there is no typical day. But I can tell you what a Thursday is like! Thursdays are co-op days for us. There are only three families in our co-op and that is just the way we like it. It still feels like there are a million and a half kids running around! Two of the families are unschooling families, the other is a little more structured. I have found that we are becoming more and more structured in many ways, too. Since my two oldest children have set very specific goals regarding their educations, we are preparing for college. That has meant actual (gulp) schooling! Our co-op is helping to meet this need.

I think our group is really well-suited to teach certain areas and it has been a lot of fun for all of us. Susan is teaching the high school group (3 kids) Honors Chemistry, and Science to the middle kids. She has a strong science background and a graduate degree in something environmental : ). Michele used to teach Spanish and ESL and so all 3 levels of kids study Spanish with her. I teach history and English.

Below are some chemistry pics. Sometimes this class takes place outside, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in the bathroom, the bedroom, etc. It is hilarious to watch them in all their safety garb with things bubbling here and there on the picnic table outside, while Susan yells at the dog so he doesn't wag his tail into the Bunsen Burner :). Or crowded into a small bathroom to watch something change color, bubble over, become solid, or any number of other things that so far, has not included exploding in any form. Today they were in my kitchen. Susan was, at one time, holding a beaker of something over the sink and explaining that it was toxic, while the little guys were right up next to her trying to make cookies : ). I'm pretty sure that was in violation of some kind of OSHA regulations. Here is Juliana wearing the homeschooler's version of "protection".

Ellie measures out something highly dangerous so it can react with something else highly dangerous and it was all very exciting. Then they read from the book to see what was supposed to happen next and then Susan is looking to see if it happened. I would love to tell you the result but I was too busy trying to keep Jasper from spitting into the cookie dough to pay attention.

This is an experiment from several months ago. I don't know what it was about but I like it because it is pretty : ).

Ellie doesn't like chemistry. The book they are using is pretty advanced and she is finding it difficult to understand. She simply is not used to having to learn things "just because". In her mind, she is not going to use this information and therefore there is no point in learning it. But the truth is that a good portion of conventional schooling involves learning things you don't really need or want to know - and she needs to get a taste of that since she plans on going to college. So the real lesson of this chemistry class isn't about balancing equations so much as it is about learning to do things because you have to, not because you want to. And that's a pretty good lesson at her age. And she's able to accept it and keep her goal in mind. She'll also be taking two more dual-credit college classes in the fall. She took one last fall and really enjoyed it. But I hate having a "schedule". At least they are both Internet courses and I don't have to physically have her in a certain place at a certain time. But last year's class (sociology) had lots of reading and writing so it simply took up some time. Poor Ellie, she has to live with such bad influences. We're always like, "Come on, Ellie! Let's go do this or that...." and she's like, "I can't just pick up and leave like you people! I have responsibilities, homework...." What a downer. When we're not trying to keep her from doing school work we're trying to ruin her future in music... "Stop banging on the piano! We're trying to watch American Idol!" Overcoming adversity - that's what will make her tough : ).

Today at co-op the middle kids learned about joints and bones. For an experiment, their thumbs were taped to their fingers so they couldn't effectively use them. Then they understood how many of our activities revolve around the idea that thumbs will be available! It was so tempting, while the tape was out, to tape those little mouths....but alas, we stuck with thumbs. They enjoyed it and strangely, were not excited about removing the tape when the time came. Joel, in the background, is still trying his best not to appear normal in any pictures. One of many annoying things he is doing, lately. His brother says it is because he is going through "pooberty".

The middle group also does Spanish and Ancient History. I teach the history course and I am continuously blown away by how much they know, already! Half the time when I am trying to "teach" them something they all start up with ,"Oh, yeah. I read about that. He ended up doing such and such...." or "I saw that on NOVA" or "I don't remember where I learned that." Today we talked about the Pharos Lighthouse of ancient Alexandria and how nobody knows what happened to it and all 3 boys start with how they recently heard it has been found and it is underwater and there are divers who have been exploring it blah blah blah..... How did they recently hear that? I didn't recently hear that. Here is a picture of them playing a Spanish game with Michele. Joel is AGAIN WITH THE FACES! Dang.

The Little Guys do reading/craft for about 10 minutes then Susan tries to keep them out of mine and Michele's hair. Then they do something with me (today it was nutrition and baking - in other words, cookie-making) for about 10 minutes and then I try to keep them out of Michele and Susan's hair. Then they do Spanish for about 5 seconds and Michele tries to keep them out of mine and Susan's hair. Jasper spent a good portion of the morning banished to the porch. He has taken to banishing himself, lately. (I want to be banished! Why won't anyone ever banish me?) When Jasper is throwing things or spitting (his two favorite past times) it is strongly recommended that he go to the porch for awhile. Here is a photo of the little cooks sans Jasper, who was out on the porch filling his apron with dirt and spitting on it.

The high schoolers also do Spanish with Michele and I currently have them writing from SAT essay prompts. We are also doing the Great Books program which I LOVE! And we try to throw in some cultural lessons (we have learned about Israel and Judaism and recently delved into Islam) and during lunch we study Greek and Latin root words. We used to do yoga but that basically consisted of the teenagers laughing at the adults while Jasper spit at us and threw things at us. This was not good for our self-esteem so we quit.

Well, tomorrow I head to the Texas Writer's League Conference. Two whole nights in a bed by myself! Eating meals where I can actually swallow something and be aware of it! Nobody is going to throw anything at me for an entire weekend! Aw shucks. I'm gonna miss them :(. I probably won't be blogging for a couple of days because I'll be busy embarassing myself at the conference. But I promise to blog about it when I get back!

Sardine Mama

1 comment:

  1. Mrs. Pavliska! You are so much cooler than all of those schmoozing writers at the conference who are looking for a deal! You're going to glide right in and steal the show (or a portion of it anyway). Mingle at your own pace…you always remember the first few and the last few people you meet so if you go slower you’ll stick in more peoples memories while those fasties will be stuck in the middle somewhere and not stick in anyone’s memory.

    Juliana!!! I LOVE your hair!!! It looks awesome!

    Mrs. Carol: you really made me laugh with those last couple paragraphs (about yoga and the conference). I notice while you said you wouldn’t be getting things thrown at you during the weekend you didn't mention that you wouldn't be getting spit so...good luck with that!

    much love

    P.S. I know what Ellie wants to do (kind of) but Joel wants to go to college now? For what? man, you're kids are way more decisive than we ever were.