Secular Schooling, Love, Family, Friends, Playing, Cooking, Baking, Gardening, Arts & Crafts, Music, Dance, Traveling, Reading, and Volunteering


all while living with Chronic Illness

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yearly Celebrations

Now that life has settled down a little I am going to put together a list of monthly celebrations. I checked out a really lovely book called "Days to Celebrate" by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Each month is a chapter and starts with a calendar of birthdays, important events, and holidays listed for each day. Following is several pages of poems by authors who were born during the month or commemorating events that occurred during the month. The book is mostly Euro-centric, so I hope to find a multicultural resource that is similar.

I'm also using a book I found at a 2nd hand store the other day "Every Day a Holiday" by Silvana Clark. Like the title says It has a celebration for almost everyday of the year! They range from super silly, like Play in the Sand Day (Aug 11th), and National Day of Puppetry (last Sat in April) to the more traditional holidays we are used to celebrating. There are one page descriptions for each day with fun activities, crafts and food ideas. This book has focus on US holidays and is more oriented to Christian holidays.

I'm hoping the book "Festivals Together" by Sue Fitzjohn, Minda Weston and Judy Large will help fill the large multicultural voids. I may also contact some of my Muslim and Jewish friends for suggestions from them.

These are some of the subject areas I plan on including in my list:
  • Holidays
  • Festivals
  • Famous authors birthdays (if they are age appropriate)
  • Famous poets birthdays (if they are age appropriate)
  • Historical events, including inventions, discoveries
  • Musician birthdays
  • Season changes
I don't plan on doing a celebration everyday, or even all those on this list, but a few sprinkled here and there could be a fun addition to our school days.


4th Thursday - National Clashing Clothes Day

1 - New Years Day
14 - National Volunteer Day
15 - Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday
18 - Winnie the Pooh Day
19 - National Popcorn Day
29 - National Puzzle Day


3rd Monday - Presidents' Day
2nd Full Week - Random Acts of Kindness Week

14 - Valentines Day
19 - Solar System Day
 24 (2013) - Chinese Lantern Festival


40 Days before Easter - Mardi Gras

2 - Dr. Seuss' Birthday
14 - National Kids' Craft Day
17 - St Patrick's Day
20 - World Storytelling Day
21 - World Poetry Day
27 (2013) - Holi
30 - Van Gogh's Birthday


Easter (sometimes in March)

2 - International Children's Book Day
20 - International Astronomy Day
22 - Earth Day
26 - National Bird Day


2nd Sunday - Mother's Day
Last Monday - Memorial Day
Last Tues/Wed - National Geographic Bee Finals

1 - May Day
1 - Mother Goose Day
5 - Cinco De Mayo
12 - Limerick Day


1st Saturday - National Trails Day
3rd Sunday - Father's Day

1 - Superman's Birthday
7 - National Crayon Day
9 - Donald Duck's Birthday
14 - Flag Day
19 - Butterfly Day
21 - First day of Summer
23 - National Pink Day
25 - Eric Carle's Birthday


4 - Independence Day
10 - Teddy Bear Picnic Day
24 - Cousin's Day


2 - Friendship Day
3 - Parks Day
29 - Mary Poppin's Birthday
30 - National Toasted Marshmellow Day


1st Monday - Labor Day
1st Sunday after Labor Day - Grandparent's Day
4th Sunday - National Good Neighbor Day

7 - Backwards Day
18 - National Play-Doh Day
22 - National Family Day
22/23 - First Day of Autumn
29 - Pumpkin Day


2nd Monday - Columbus Day

1 - World Vegetarian Day
16 - Dictionary Day
31 - Halloween


Thanksgiving Week - National Game and Puzzle Week

4th Thursday - Thanksgiving

3 - National Sandwich Day
11 - Veterans Day
14 - National Teddy Bear Day
15 - American Recycle Day
16 - The Sound of Music Day
17 - Homemade Bread Day


8 Days between November 25 - December 26 - Hanukkah 
December 26 - January 1 - Kwanzaa

21 - First Day of Winter/Winter Solstice
22 - Flashlight Day
25 - Christmas
26 - Boxing Day
31 - New Year's Eve

Welcome to Holland

I saw this on the blog Letters From Holland and thought it was a wonderful description of not only the experience of raising a disabled child but also the grief of living with a disability. When you are young you have dreams of what your life will be like and living with a chronic disability is isn't one of them. You don't necessarily want to change your experience because of everything you DO have, but there is a loss of your dreams and it can be difficult to let those go.

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley (c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved)

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... 

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Can I really do this homeschooling thing?

Let me start by saying I'm having a rough week. It has not been the physical pain, though that is always there, but the psychological pain of wondering if I have failed as a mother to my wonderful children.

Blue, my oldest son, started Play Therapy last week because of some behavioral issues and unexplainable fatigue. At this point she believes it is anxiety, and I am sure I am a big cause of it. In the past year I have spent so much time at various doctor appointments that when I get clothes and makeup on the kids ask if I am going to the doctor? Not grocery shopping, not to the library, the doctor! He knows I am "sick" but he has become obsessed with me dying. I went through a long phase of this myself when I was young and can remember the overwhelming fear I had of my mother dying. It is horrible to hold him as he is sobbing "I want to die when you do Mom, I want to die when you do". I have tried to explain to him that yes I am "sick" but I'm not dying, it is so hard to know how much or how little to tell a 4 1/2 year old about these things.

Yellow, my twin son, was just evaluated by the local school district and has qualified for the special education preschool because of several issues: expressive language and articulation, personal/social, and daily living skills. I knew he was behind, and knew he would most likely qualify, but it was still difficult to hear someone else tell me he was. They were explaining the services they could provide in the preschool environment and mentioned a small yellow bus could transport him there and back. That was when the tears almost took over. I just imagined my angelic and quirky little boy alone on the "short bus" heading to his special ed preschool. 

When you have children you dream of what their futures will hold and all the adventures this life will take them on. Maybe because of everything I have been through my wishes for my children were simple, I wanted them to be healthy and happy. They could be a sanitation worker or an engineer, I didn't care I just want them to be happy. Right now Blue is not happy, and Yellow is struggling and frustrated.

Are all these issues they are having my fault? In some way have I caused them or contributed to them? I see how much other mothers do for their kids, and it makes me feel inadequate. Some days I can barely care for myself, and I wonder how in the world I am going to educate my children? Then I'll have a good day and think that even if I can't teach them everything I want to they are still learning through play and life, and are surrounded by a family that loves them. Something I don't think public school can provide them.

So we're back to taking it one day at a time...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Coming full circle

After spending the past several years researching homeschooling philosophies, methods and curriculum I am back to embracing unschooloing. It has been a long journey of self exploration into my own feelings and concerns of being unschooled as a child. I had always looked at my experience through the eyes of an insecure child and now it was time for me to look at it through the eyes of an adult and parent.

How will I define "unschooling" for our family? I know how my parents did it, and I know how I lived it, but will it be the same? My parents were what is now called Radical Unschoolers (RU). I just found a wonderful forum for RU and it makes me smile that all the ideas supported in the RU community are what my parents did organically 28 years ago.

Will I call myself a RU? I don't know? From all the reading I have done on RU it seems that there is a box you have to fit into to be considered one. Don't flame me :-) I am sure this isn't always true, and it is probably my interpretation from the sites I have visited. I just want to do what is right for my children and occasionally what I need to do to keep myself healthy. If I was stronger and healthier I could make those sacrifices for my children but after 34 years I know I'm not. If I overdue it it's my children who are going to pay with a mommy in bed for a week.

We shall see how this new decision will change our course, but I am excited for the journey!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

This is such a wonderful program that gives children age 0-5 a free book every month regardless of income. The books are age appropriate and have the childs name on the address label, so it is their own personal book.

My kids really enjoy receiving their books and many of them have ended up being some of their favorites. The program is available in communities with affiliates set up so just go to their website and enter your zipcode If your community does not have one maybe you can start one up :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Broken Heart

I think Blue is starting to realize something is up with my health problems. I've been doing OK the past few days but have been really tired in the evenings. Last night while OM was putting the twins to bed I was sitting in my recliner and Blue said "I really want you to get better and stop sitting in that chair", then he went on to tell how if I ate good grow food I would feel better. He also thought (in his childhood logic) that maybe I ate too much candy and that is why I am sick and hurt :-( Ugh, it broke my heart. I pretend they are too little to notice but obviously not. So sad... 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Handbook of Nature Study - Free Copy

I found a free copy of the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock on-line today. The one I found is at  and is offered in many different formats. Enjoy!

War & Peace Pushed Me Over The Edge

OK, so not really, but ever since I finished it in December I have been doing nothing but reading junk! I was reading wonderful books last year good fiction, classics and nonfiction, but now I feel like an addict, I just can't stop myself! I have been reading apocalyptic fiction and detective novels, I am embarrassed to even post what I've been reading. So how do I break this addiction, any suggestions on books to transition me back to the light? In the meantime I have a new trashy book to read on my Kindle App...

Homeschool Skedtrack

I was looking on-line for a free homeschool scheduling tool and came across Homeschool Skedtrack. It took me a few days of playing around with it and watching the video tutorials to really understand how it works, but now that I do I quite like it!

I particularly like it because we are so relaxed that we don't follow a stringent schedule. If we do math one day great, if not that is fine as well. So if I don't check off the math lesson for that day it just moves it over to the next day. It also lets you add in field trips, science experiments, etc so everything is in one place. You can also upload Excel documents into it, which I find very helpful!

Another tool I particularly like is that you can "copy" the same coursework for different children. So with my twins I don't have to retype the entire year if they are doing the same work. I was going to be very annoyed if I had to do everything twice :-)

The only thing at this point that I don't like is that it isn't always intuitive how to use the program. The videos definitely help but it still takes some getting used to. Overall for a free program I am pleasantly surprised with how powerful this scheduler is!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lego Separator for Arthritic Hands

I initially bought this Lego separator for Blue to help him separate those annoying flat Lego pieces. What I did not anticipate was how well it works for me! I am having a lot of dexterity problems again with my hands and this thing is fantastic. Now I can sit and play Lego's and not be completely useless :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First Homeschool Purchase

I just made my first homeschool curriculum purchase last night! I am so excited that I finally got up the nerve to just do it. I bought RightStart Deluxe Level A, and the Deluxe A-B Add On. Who knows how long shipping will take to get to Alaska but I won't start looking for it for another several weeks.

Blue is in 2 day a week co-op preschool but will be increasing to 3 day a week next fall. I don't know how much math we will get to but I wanted to start reading the text. This way I can discuss math with him in our everyday life using their terminology and concepts.

I am so curious if he will be a mathy kid. He loves puzzles and Lego's and seems to have an engineering type of personality. I figure if this isn't a good program for him it will work for Red or Yellow. That is one nice thing about having more than one child, if you mess up on a curriculum choice you have more shots at having someone like it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To good health

What a year 2010 was! I finally received a diagnosis of Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease, most likely Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. After a year and a half of worsening hand pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility I finally have an answer. I definitely went through a phase of feeling like I was a hypochondriac or at the worst crazy. I am on several medications that have helped the hand pain but have unwanted side effects. I hope once I have this disease better controlled life will start being a little easier :-( It has been a very hard couple of years and my body is tired. So here is to a healthier 2011~