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The Home Schooling Diaries: Part I

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Most of you have known me long enough to realize that silence on the blog means that heavy-duty things are going on behind the scenes. Things are percolating -- and for once I'm not talking coffee.

The past ten days have been a momentous time in the life of my family: one of those dividing lines that we'll use to mark time from now on. We'll talk about the days before we started home-schooling our ten year old and after we started home-schooling our ten year-old -- an option that wasn't even on our parental radar screens eleven days ago.

I'm not going to go into the specifics because I don't want to violate my son's privacy or put the other people involved in an awkward position. Many of these people were wonderful to my son during his time at this particular school. So I'm going to move on and say, "That was then and this is now -- and we're embracing this exciting new adventure."

Home schooling may not be for every child, but, for now, it's the right -- let me amend that: the only -- option for my ten year old. He's an amazing guy who, like all children, is a unique human being with one-of-a-kind needs. I think those needs will best be met in a home-schooling environment where there are few distractions and lots of opportunities for one-on-one coaching and encouragement. It feels right to both of us.

I've been spending a lot of time researching the ins and outs of home-schooling -- and thanks to terrific web pages like Guilt-Free Home Schooling and the National Home Education Network, my network of friends who have home-schooled or are currently home-schooling, and the resources that my son's former school passed along, I feel like we're ready to take the leap.

Of course, it helps that my son and I share a mutual love of office/school supplies and we picked up some cool organizers/charts to give us the illusion of being in control. You've got to have the right toys at times like this. :-)

So here we go. Wish us luck!


| posted by Ann D @ 9:49 PM


Monday, September 17, 2007

Originally uploaded by Millie Motts

For all the tired mamas of the world -- an essential door-hanger, courtesy of Flickr.

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| posted by Ann D @ 7:56 PM

Paradise Lost?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Paradise Lost?
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas

I snapped this outside the Oasis Hotel (across Highway 28 from Silent Lake Provincial Park, about 20 minutes south of Bancroft, Ontario). I like the fact that the owner of this building left up the "Oasis" sign when he/she hung out the "No Trespassing" sign -- and closed up shop.


| posted by Ann D @ 3:29 PM

Mr. Dressup's Treehouse

Mr. Dressup's Treehouse
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.

I have been to the CBC Toronto building plenty of times, but I never noticed Mr. Dressup's Treehouse until my most recent visit a week or two ago. The Treehouse can be found behind the green elevators in the main lobby, just in case you want to check it out yourself. While you're there, be sure to go in the museum across the hall to check out all the Mr. Dressup memorabilia -- and to jot your Mr. Dressup memories in the guestbook provided. (I'm assuming there are a lot of Mr. Dressup groupies like me out there, because anytime I mention my lifelong Mr. Dressup fandom, tons of people tell me they feel the same way.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 3:20 PM

Cottage Survival Guide: The Misc Hardware Jar

Cottage Survival Guide: The Misc Hardware Jar
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas

If your cottage doesn't come with a jar like this, there's something wrong with the cottage. The previous owner obviously didn't do any repairs. Beware.

Our cottage came with all kinds of other goodies, including mousetraps galore. That was our first hint that the cottage was actually owned by mice and that we were only subletting from the rodent landlords. Once we made peace with that realization (we are paying the mortgage, but the rodents own the place), seeing the occasional mouse skitter by stopped being cause for shrieking. (And this has been a most shriek-worthy season, as anyone with a cottage in Ontario can tell you.)

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| posted by Ann D @ 3:16 PM


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Originally uploaded by fishbowl_fish.

Look what the "Fishbowl Fish" family (A Peek Inside the Fishbowl) has been up to. Awesome!


| posted by Ann D @ 3:21 PM

The Motivational Buffet: Serve Yourself

Friday, September 14, 2007

I am a cruel taskmaster, I know. But if I've got to get motivated and report into She Who Keeps Me Accountable in the Book Writing World, I figure I might as well share some of my time management and accountability energy with you. (Or something like that.) And since I have this thing about providing information about different approaches to every issue, I thought I'd serve up this buffet of various motivational approaches. Feel free to take a taste of everything to see what you like best. Just realize that you might go home with an upset stomach if you take giant helpings of all the motivational approaches at once. It may be too much for anyone with a less than a steel-lined gastrointestinal tract.

The motivational menu

Full motivation (based on the Weissbluth -- full extinction -- method of sleep training)
You decide how long you want to work at a particular task -- one hour, two hours, whatever -- and you set a timer for yourself and work at that task for that particular time period. When the timer rings, you're done. You can't make excuses and decide five minutes into the motivational period that you really don't want to do the task after all or you'll teach yourself that you don't really mean it when you make a commitment to yourself to get a task done.

Modified motivation (based on the Ferber -- partial extinction -- method of sleep training)
You set a timer for 30 minutes -- or whatever duration of time works for you -- and check in with yourself to see how you're doing. If you're becoming unduly distressed as you try to get the job done, give yourself a five minute comfort break to reassure yourself that this hell called work won't last forever. Stretch or get a glass of water, but don't allow yourself to turn on daytime TV or check your email or go to Facebook. (You're trying to train your brain to stay in work mode, not play mode, remember?)

Gentle motivation (based on gentle or no-cry methods of sleep training)
You come up with a plan for gradually altering the habits that keep you from getting down to work and staying on task. The first week, you spend some time sitting in your work chair and closing your eyes, getting truly comfortable in your work space. The next week, you open your eyes and pick up your pen. You may not break any productivity records, but what you sacrifice in productivity you'll more than make up in bliss (unless, of course, you have a pressing deadline and an impatient boss).

Right on time motivation (based on the routine-based sleep training methods like The Baby Whisperer plus advice from the time management gurus)
You come up with a schedule for yourself that would do any major-league executive proud. Block off time for lunch, email, partner time, one-on-one time with each of your children, volunteer time, exercise time, friendship time, spirituality time, me time (you're going to have a perfectly balanced life -- come on!), and then use the rest of your time for productive work. If the resulting schedule doesn't leave any time to actually do work, then rev up with caffeine (coffee time) and multitask (efficiency time).

Your own motivational approach (what you've learned about motivating yourself over the years by trusting your own instincts and taking into account the realities of your own life)
Maybe you've figured out that one part gentle motivation ("a teapot at my side while I write") plus one part boot camp-style motivation ("lock me in my office and hold all calls until I get this report written") plus one part your own secret ingredient (spill the beans, please) works best for you.

Summaries of the major approaches to sleep training
Multitasking -- my link collection devoted to the topic of why multitasking is highly overrated and D*I*Y Planner: Time Management
Confessions of a Dangerously Cluttered Mind

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:36 AM

Today, on the Distraction Channel...

....we're obsessing over paper craft freebie downloads. I have been researching color printers for very worthwhile productive purposes (plus fun, frivolous purposes) and I came across this really fun section of the Canon printer website. This miniature town looks like it would be particularly fun to make. Mind you, I'd be inclined to encourage kids to trace the basic patterns and design their own buildings. That would be even cooler than going with some preconceived idea of what a miniature town should look like. I'd also be inclined to encourage them to try making these miniature houses and buildings out of random materials that we already have -- so you'd end up with buildings made out of anything that was in the recycling box this week, fun chunks of text chopped from this week's flyers, etc. It could be a very fun and very distracting project.

P.S. While I love my Canon camera, I am not in any sort of relationship -- romantic, fiduciary, or otherwise -- with the lovely people at Canon.


| posted by Ann D @ 10:20 AM

Your Anti-Procrastination, Motivation, Get-it-Done Buddy

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
If you need someone to motivate you to "just do it" for the next hour or two, I'm here, right now, forcing myself to get down to task and get it done. How about you? See you at 1:00 pm, when I check back in to see how you're doing....


| posted by Ann D @ 10:50 AM

A Bicycle Built for Tulips -- or Flowers at Least

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Bicycle Built for Tulips -- or Flowers at Least
Originally uploaded by Ann Douglas.
The new owners of the Highland Grove General Store (Ontario, about 20 minutes west of Bancroft) turned this old bicycle and lunch box into a decorative flower stand. The former variety store is now a combination variety store and antique shop. Very cool.

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| posted by Ann D @ 1:48 PM


Friday, September 07, 2007
I've been thinking a lot about bullying -- all kinds of bullying. A lot of my thoughts came out in this this week's parenting blog post at Yahoo.ca.

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| posted by Ann D @ 12:40 PM

Speaking of Back-to-School

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Is everyone having fun yet?

If your answer is yes:
You could plan the kind of kids' activity Martha would plan right now. No activity at all. Hey, even Martha takes time off from the round-the-clock kids' activities during this already crazy-making time of year.

If your answer is no:
Join the crowd. It's Back-to-School Insanity Season.

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| posted by Ann D @ 6:56 PM

Academic Duct Tape for Parents Whose Kids Need a Bit of Extra Help

This is a quick hug-o-gram for all the parents for whom back-to-school season means

  • at least one transition meeting at the school to try to ease the roadbumps for your child, the teacher, and other school staff

  • getting your child psyched up for the new year, schedule, routine, and people

  • troubleshooting problems that arise as they arise -- because being unavailable when the school needs your input on the burning issue du jour increases the odds of that issue igniting immediately

  • being positive and encouraging to yourself as well as your child during the daily after-school debriefing sessions. (Think The Little Engine That Could).

  • You aren't alone. There are a lot of us doing our best to hold it all together with giant rolls of academic duct tape and beer-stein sized mugs of coffee. Yeah, team.

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    | posted by Ann D @ 12:08 PM