Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Online School

Teeny has finally gotten enrolled in the online community college. She is very excited to get started next Monday with classes. The college we are working with in Arizona, since we are residents of Arizona, has been great to work with.

Her counselor has made it very easy for her to get registered and enrolled and even get her fasfa done and turned in so that she does not have to pay.

I have been encouraging her to save the excess from her pell grant to pay for her big college in a couple of years when she moves on. We will see if she surprises me and listens to me.

She will be taking basic math as well as spanish. These two classes are very basic and did not require any placement test.

We do have a proctor here that she can take her tests with so that will make it easier. This is going to be fun!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beach Learning

The girls are learning how to clam, surf and build amazing sand castles. Great lessons for life if you ask me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finishing Up

We are almost done with our mandatory first grade experience. Today is "dia de nino". School today will include a 60's rock and roll party as well as lots of junk food. Baby is very excited and ready to celebrate with her peers their day.

I figure every day is kids day, but hey one more reason to celebrate.

I think the plan we have come up with is a "transfer" to a private school after we complete this year. Baby said she really wants to be home and so we will make that happen. The trick is doing it so we don't get into trouble with the PANI.

When you are a "guest" in a foreign country it is very important to play by the rules. Not quite my cup of tea for those who know me, but we are doing our best at it. I do have to say the teachers and director have bent over backwards trying to make baby happy.

Two days ago two big girls came up to her when I was picking her up and said "hi Maleah". I asked her how they knew her name. Then I remembered that we raised such a fuss about the other kids calling her "cheena" and they talked to all the kids. Like they talked to the whole school. So of course now the kids know her name, and it is not "cheena".

Monday, August 30, 2010


I am trying to read some classics. When I found out that my 19 yr old son had read "War and Peace", I decided I need to buckle down and do some serious reading. Now if I can just fit it in between knitting for my daughters' project, writing for my sons book, and trying to fight with schools for my baby, maybe we can actually get some reading done around here!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Great Speech

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

Here I stand

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, "We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not "to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States."

To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of "critical thinking?" Is there really such a thing as "uncritically thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, "You have to learn this for the test" is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

Reprinted from Signs of the Times.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Art Classes

A week ago Saturday baby had another art class at our local cafe. It was a great class. This time they learned how to make paints out of local plants. She learned how to make purple out of mora as well as yellow out of another flower.

The teacher took them outside and read them a great story. After the story they all got to pound some plants and make some pictures. After they were all done they made them mini pizzas and some juice. The cafe specializes in all natural foods and vegetarian foods.

It is our favorite place in town and we take our students there for their graduation celebration. They also have the art classes once a month. Oh and the cost for all this? $6.00! A great deal if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Family Trip

Playing Bingo with the nieces. Auntie and the princesses are having a blast playing.

No way to make 3,000 miles of driving fun in any way shape or form. Lots of thinking time.

Fun with cousin Cayson. The same age and lots of fun together.

Always fun at Grandmas house.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Car Lessons

What do kids learn while on the road? Well baby has learned what a wild fire is, seeing one up close and personal by the side of the road.

She has learned what a hawk is and beautiful mountains of Colorado. She has learned what a cousin is and how much fun they are.

She has learned that the world is a big beautiful place and it takes two airplanes and a really long car ride to get to her brothers place.

She has learned that her brother gets out of jail in 1,000 days and when he gets out he is going to take her on a date to California to eat ice cream on the beach.

She is probably the only six year old that knows what "follow the yellow line to B pod" means and how to get to the visiting area of the jail.

Hard and wonderful lessons for a six year old.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Art Classes

Today baby went to her first ever formal art class. The little cafe we like to eat at was offering a childrens art class. They studied pottery and looked at a few books. They then let the kids make a little clay pot. Maleah offered to teach me how to do it after I raved about hers.

Breyssi did a beautiful one with snakes and all kinds of decorations on it. It was great to see them interact with the other children, and the teacher who was wonderful. After the class the cafe made them a little snack and some juice. A fun day for six bucks. It is good to see them offering things like this for the kids.

It was funny because yesterday we told the girls they would be going for an art class today. This morning Breyssi said she did not feel good and did not want to go to the art class. I wrote the teacher and told her that Breyssi was not feeling good and would not make it. Later in the day Breyssi was talking about how she did not want to go to the class because of all the water. I asked her what she was talking about there was no water at an art class. She perked right up and said she wanted to go then.

I think those water boarding um excuse me swimming lessons scarred her for life!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Give Me a Break

I was ordered to put my baby back in school or the family services would take her away from us. Today at school they spent the day making a fathers day card. Yup that is right, I get threatened for them to take her away from her family so that she can spend the afternoon making a card for her Dad! Is that not the most messed up thing you have ever heard?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

School Day, Again

We did it. We took baby to the school today. They were very nice and put her in the other class. It is calmer, and the teacher is on top of things. She is also our neighbor and a frequent visitor to our massage clinic when we have students, so it is better.

What we have found out about home schooling in Costa Rica. Are you ready for this? The great ah ha moment here. They have to attend first grade! Yup the quote about all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten? Well here it is all I ever needed to learn I learned in first grade. And they mean it.

After the student finishes the first grade you can apply to home school them. At that point they feel the student has been properly "socialized" and it is safe to take them out and educate them at home. That is if you have a "certified teacher" to teach them.

Lots of hoops to go through, of course. The deal is I feel like I have been plunged back 25 years to when we first began home schooling in the U.S. Same old restrictions, same old requirements. Retarded!

We are now figuring out the way to get around all this silliness and in the meantime baby shows up for school every day. Late, with her street clothes and flip flops on, and one notebook in her backpack. But of course her money for the little store and her sizzors, glue and colored pencils, there are priorities after all!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


We put baby in pre-kinder last year to help her learn the Spanish. She had a great year and a very good experience. This year her teacher was pregnant and miserable. They had a class with too many people and baby was miserable.

A month ago we decided to take her out of the school and home school here. A couple of weeks later we received a visit from a couple of the teachers. They threatened us that they were going to have to turn us into the Family Services here.

Today we received a phone call from the PANI threatening us that if we did not bring baby to school tomorrow they would come and take her from us. They are telling me that they are going to take my baby away if I don't put her in their stupid school.

To say I am angry is an understatement. Big brother is alive and well in Costa Rica. If you are even contemplating moving here take all the same precautions you would take if you were in the States. Right now hubby is out talking to an attorney.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Laid Back Days of Rainy Season

When I tell people we just chill during rainy season, I mean chill! Little Rica above is just a little example of our days here during the rainy season in Costa Rica. It just seems natural to want to rest and sleep while it is raining in the afternoon, so that is what we do.

Usually after lunch we will hang out for an hour or so and then baby will start yawning. I ask her if she wants a story and we head off to the bed. Usually after one story she is ready to crash out. She does not sleep every day, but about three days a week works well for her.

She has always been one who loves her sleep. She will sleep until nine or ten in the mornings. Of course she has nothing on teeny who will sleep until noon. Her boyfriend gives her all kinds of grief about being sooo lazy. I just figure she is still growing or something.

It will sure be a shock to our systems when we go to the states and it is not raining. Of course the way things are going when we hit Texas it will be full of water! Until then we will enjoy our laid back dog days.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ready to Move Out

Today we made the trek to town. That would be about six blocks from our house to be exact, so not far at all. In fact Benji can walk all the way. We made a quick stop at the Macrobiotica for some sea salt and calcium and magnesium. Then it was off to the Ropa Americana for some great deals on used clothes. We are great fans of used clothing. The little girls are the best little shoppers you have ever seen. They can spot the cute clothes miles away and always end up getting some great deals.

Once we finished there we headed down a couple doors to the bakery to get the kids a quick snack. I was standing there getting ready to ask baby what she wanted to order for her snack. She marched right up to the counter and asked the guy in Spanish if he had any ham and cheese empanadas. He said no only cheese. So she told him she wanted two of them, and two grape juices also. He was just cracking up by this time and looked at me with a shocked look.

For some reason people are always shocked when she starts speaking Spanish to them. They always ask if she speaks English or Chinese. The Chinese will have to come later, right now is Spanish time.

After they got the goodies she went over to the caja and paid the cashier for the snacks. He took her money and handed her the change. When she walked over to us her sister asked her if she got the right change. She said yes and went over to the park to eat their snacks.

This would have to be one of the best things about living here in Costa Rica and raising kids. It is just so easy to take them everywhere, without even having a car. I told baby that it was good to know they could get along on their own. If they had some money they would be able to get themselves around town and even buy their own food and even pick up some snacks at the health food store if need be. It is great!

Monday, June 7, 2010


They try to say that home schooler's are not socialized enough. Does this look like they are not getting enough socialization? This was grandson's birthday party and as you can see there was plenty of socialization going on for everyone. He turned two and the girlies helped decorate the cakes, the ball cakes.

And of course there was the mandatory pinata! We do not have a party here in Costa Rica without the pinata. I mean we do not have any party without the pinata. That and of course tons of food and we are all happy and ready to go. Oh yeah and good friends, what more could you ask for? Pura Vida!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Computer Class

Such concentration! Tia Maleah is teaching the kiddo's how to play computer games. It does not take long for these guys to get these games down. Even the baby can tell them what to do and what needs to move where. He is always busy telling them what to do on the computer.

I wrote some key words for Maleah and she has been able to find and play all her own games. I have noticed they are getting harder all the time. When she first started playing computer games she did not like anything too hard. Now I see her playing some that take thinking and planning.

She said the other day that she needs to learn to read so that we don't have to read everything to her and help her. Now that is motivation!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Can you find the two kids blending into the trees here?

These two cannot get enough of playing at the park, and climbing trees, and swimming at the pool. You know these are the kind of things children are supposed to be doing.

Where they live in Hondurus there is no place they can safely play. The roads are dirty and there are rats running around the drains. The drivers do not watch out for children playing. TB is rampant and probably many other diseases we don't even know about yet.

It is a different world, one which most of us will never comprehend or understand. I am just glad to know that my grandchildren can leave and come get all their playing in. Now I just have to keep working on talking their mother into staying in Costa Rica with them.

It may not be too much problem if Hurricane Agatha keeps kicking butt in their neck of the woods. Of course we are apparently the earthquake capital these days, don't know which is more fun out of those two.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cleaning Day

Today was a great day, filled with excitement. Late tonight big sister with her hubby and kids will be arriving from Hondurus. After a 15 hr. bus ride they will be rolling in late tonight.

We cleared out babies room and set up a big air mattress and now have wall to wall beds in our "guest room". Baby is thrilled because she gets to sleep with mom and dad.

Tried to baby proof the house today. I know we have missed something, I just know it. Benji is 2 next week and I can guarantee you he will find something to get into, and hopefully it will not put him in the hospital!

The next seven weeks will be "vacation" time so we will have lots of fun pictures, hopefully! We will be enjoying Costa Rica for four more weeks, then off to the U.S. for three weeks of fun. Summertime fun.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life Choices

I was telling teeny today that she did not have to decide right now, even in the next few years what she wants to do with her life. She is young, only 16 and has many years to decide what she wants to "be" when she grows up.

After talking with her I laughed to myself as I remembered that at her age I left home. I went to live with a friend in California and spent the summer there, doing lots of things I would not want her to do. Once I returned home to finish my senior year, I was still 16, I met my hubby. We got married seven months later, when I was 17 1/2!

I did not talk to her about that part!

Suffice it to say I assured her to look at life and decide what she wants to spend her life doing. She has a boyfriend right now that is talking to her about the realities of being a famous singer. He is trying to convince her that she will not have a life if that is what she does. I think it is the opposite and her life will be all about her.

He did tell her he did not want to live with someone that was famous. That was what got her thinking about her other options. She told him that I had always tried to talk her into being a lawyer, she can argue like none other. I mean she has always been able to argue very well.

He agreed with me. He told her because of two things. He thought she would be able to talk well in a court room, and the most important part, she looks really hot in a pencil skirt!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chinese Channel

Baby is watching the Chinese channel. She loves to watch this channel and claims she can understand what they are saying. I think the real draw for her is just to see so many people that look like her.

I know from experience that it is very difficult to live in a place where you look different than everyone else. I mean children literally stare at me when we are on the bus. Hubby thought I was imagining it but has had to admit that yes they are mesmerized, or terrified of my big blue eyes.

Whatever the reason it is difficult to be stared at everywhere you go. When hubby first got her started watching the Chinese channel she would not watch very long. Now we find her watching it for longer and longer periods. She also likes it when we put on Chinese music for her.

We feel it is important to help her connect with her roots. Yes she is an American now and no longer lives in China. But everyone there looks like her. That is big, as I have found. When we go places that there are more Chinese people she loves it! I think it is such a relief to her to not be in the "fish bowl" for a change.

This is part of the reason we have chosen Austin to live part time while hubby finishes his degree. They have a big FCC chapter there and we are very excited to get her involved in that. She will be starting Mandarin lessons here in October, when she turns 7.

In the meantime she will continue watching the Chinese channel and yelling out every few minutes, "she looks like me too!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Celebrate the Successes

Yesterday baby and daddy went out to lunch to celebrate. They had read the complete Book of Mormon. Not only did they read it, they read it in Spanish. It has helped hubby's accent a ton and has been a great way to put baby to sleep every night!

She was so excited to go out that she got all dressed up and even told dad to change his pants. They went out for chinese food and had a great day.

When they got home she was ready to start reading in English so that we could all celebrate together next time!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Once a week we have a "family day". That is actually kind of funny because of course every day is family day! Today was a good day for the girls. Hannah has a couple of gringo expat friends in Escazu that we get to visit with occasionaly. They all have great fun together and it is good to see her hanging out with boys that are not boyfriends. I think after her stint as tour guide last week she is glad to just rest and recuperate. She has a cold, hence the gloves. We were also doing a family service project. My friend has been sick in the hospital and it was time for her get well massage. That meant a trip over was certainly in line.

We try to teach the girls to be compassionate and gentle with the sick and afflicted. Here baby is being gentle with our friend who has been very sick. We had explained before we went that she had been in the hospital and very sick. Baby was very good about helping and just being attentive. She even went in the kitchen and helped cook dinner! Even when she saw a big ole mouse come running into the kitchen from the backyard. She just climbed onto higher ground!
I hope when all is said and done, if my children learn nothing else from us in this life, they will learn to love!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tour Guide of the Year

Well she did it. Showed her friends a great time and shared some of the best of Costa Rica with them. The best part of all? They are all still friends. She took them to the beach for a couple of days, off to the mall for a day, up to the mountains for a day and down town for shopping for a day.

They were very lucky that the weather cooperated and it has not rained for five days now! That in itself is a miracle at this time of the year.

As you can see by this picture she now has a boyfriend to add into the mix also. He asked her, at the promptings of her matchmaking friend, to be his girlfriend. The thing is here in Costa Rica there is a method to their madness.

They begin with friends with benefits. Benefits I am told kissing and holding hands etc. They stay there approximately six weeks, and then it is on to girlfriend, boyfriend. I am not sure what is next and since she is only sixteen she will not be finding out for a couple of years either!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Friends, Boyfriends and Beaches

Teeny finally got a visitor from the U.S. They have had a blast and she brought a friend with her who got to fit in some surf lessons. They took a trek to Manuel Antonio and hung out for a couple of days. Staying in the cabinas saved them a bunch of money and just eating chips and refried beans also helped save bucks.

One night they decided to camp on the beach and that got a little scary. Some crack head kept asking them for money and food. Finally they decided to get a room in the cabinas for the night so they could get some sleep.

We were very proud of her for helping her friends enjoy Costa Rica as well as keeping them safe and sound, so far they go home Saturday. Still a couple of days for fun. Tomorrow is the pool and then a campout in Monte de la Cruz for the last couple of days. What a trip for them.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Parent Rights

Did you know that as a parent if you get dreadlocks you pretty much give up your rights to tell your kid they look weird? Yeah I did not realize that until after I got the dreadlocks, but I can't really say anyone looks weird anymore.

It is a great way to keep you from being judgmental, just get them and try to say someone looks anything! It just sounds really funny coming out of your mouth with all those fuzzy crazy locks waving around on your head.

Kind of like the saying when you point your finger three more are pointing at you. It has been good for me though, and sure makes me stop and realize how incredibly judgmental I was.

The good news is this was playing Emo pictures and hopefully not a look she plans to stick with long term. If she does, oh well what can I say?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Creative Days

Teeny has friends coming to visit from the U.S. They will be arriving tomorrow and she is very excited. She has planned their whole itinerary for their time in Costa Rica. Their first visit will be early Sat. morning when they will head to Manual Antonio beach for two days.

They will come home to rest Sunday night and then head up to Monte de la Cruz for a campout Monday night and Tuesday. After a day of rest they will head up to Arenol volcano for a overnight at what we think is one of the most beautiful places on earth!

This will be her first trip as a tour guide and she is very excited and nervous that everything goes well. No matter what it will all be Pura Vida for sure.

The best part for us was all the great cleaning and organizing she has done on her bedroom, it looks great!

Today she took her little sister with her to get the dog her vitamin K shot and they went to have ice cream. They had taken both dogs and while they were at the park the little guy tried to jump up on a wall and knocked himself silly. They were about to head back to the vets place to get him checked, when he finally got his head back on right.

It was a really nice day weather wise and they had a great time hanging out and eating ice cream.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The excitement mounts as we prepare for painting the walls! It is amazing that this little girl can get so excited about something we put off and put off! She is already asking when we get to scrub the cabinets!
Today was also the day she announced to all of us officially that she "quit" school. It was funny because she said it kind of quietly first then louder and louder until she was shouting. Her sister gave her high five and she felt like it was o.k.
I still think she was holding out because she thought I really wanted her to go. For the past few days she kept trying on different ideas. She had one idea to go twice a week, only on late school days. Then she said one day a week. And then she finally came around to where she really wanted to be.
This is possibly the first time I have seen her take control and do something she really wanted to do.
Another landmark for has been she is crying now. that has taken six years. The thing she will cry about? When she has to get off the computer. Not the cartoons, not the friends, not go to bed, nah only get off the computer. Excellent!

It started out pretty focused and actually lasted about three walls.

My older daughter has been the family sushi maker. Actually her hubby was the maker, she was just the idea person. He makes great sushi, but since he is in Hondurus we had to make our own. It was a fun adventure and teeny is making it again today with her friend.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


When we moved to Costa Rica my daughter and I always joked about her hubby's "inscinctos". He could tell if someone was going to try and take his backpack, or had bad intentions. Of course his instinctos kind of failed him when he got his bike ripped off in the middle of the day in downtown Heredia. Parked it outside the store and took my granddaughter in with him to check on something. Looked out the window and there was his bike riding away down the street, under some crazy thief.

I had the instinct that we were supposed to go to the beach yesterday, and I am really glad we went. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we three girlies got to enjoy some girlie time, besides the texting which makes me really crazy of course.

We took off bright and early and I almost changed my mind because it was pretty cloudy. We went for it and got on the 9:00 bus to Jaco. Teeny will never forgive me though. She ended up across the aisle from the gay guys making out all the way there and behind the barfing guy that dropped his barf bag and it splashed on her foot LOL! Other than that it was a great bus trip. Oh yeah and they do not take the Super Highway on the bus. Too many stops in between I suppose. So it is still a two hour bus trip to get there.

Once there we went to Mega Super and loaded up on picnic food and found a nice shady spot at the beach. Man if I was a surfer the waves would have been perfect! Since I am a swimmer I just played around in the shallow and stayed away from all the surf boards flying around. Do you get the idea there were lots of surfers? There were tons!

Baby ended up making a new friend. A little local boy who was just as daring as she about the waves. They were getting pretty roughed up and trying to outdo each other on the daring scale. I just stood ready to grab them if they got pulled out. The poor boy took a pretty good roll and ended up with a bleeding back from the rocks.

Ah yes the rocks. We have renamed Jaco, Rocko! The rocks were so bad where we were. We were not down by the "tourist" area just because we were too lazy to walk down there. We stayed up north where all the rocks are.

For the last hour baby made friends with two little girls that spoke English. That was such a treat for her to be able to play with friends who spoke English it did my heart good. I was sad to leave, but alas we had a bus to catch for home. Thank goodness we did not get the same seats near the same people on the way home!

The minute that bus rolled out baby laid down and crashed all the way home. As we were getting off the bus I heard the gringo behind us say to his buddy," that little girl slept all the way here."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unschooling Adventures

I believe that I have the best of both worlds here in Costa Rica. Last week we decided we would take a day and spend it at the beach this week. Low and behold got a call from the teacher saying there would be no school today or tomorrow. How is that for service? I am still waiting for baby to give the words, "I don't want to go to school anymore."

I read with interest the story about the woman in NY who let her 9 yr.ride the subway by himself. I could not really see what all the hubaloo was about. When we moved to Costa Rica we walked all over the dang country. My daughter was 13 and would walk about a mile or two on her own to school. My son was 16 and took a bus ride cross country to meet up with some friends who were spending time at the beach for spring break.

Sometimes I think I am just too trusting. But then I look and realize that I am really just not afraid. My kids have for the most part faced some pretty scary situations and come out pretty tough for it. They have learned Spanish and could wander all over Central and South America if they so chose to. A couple have been to Hondurus and one lives there now with her family.

The realities are they are as safe here as anywhere if they keep their heads on and their eyes open. Like I have told the story before of my 21 yr old who got his cell phone taken at gunpoint. He had too much to drink and was not in the right place at the right time. There are rules to teach you kids if you are going to set them lose on the streets.

We took a family with us to Nicaragua one time to show them how to do a border crossing. It was the only time we have ever had any problems and they were all because this family was so dang gringo! Now I am gringo, blue eyed, blond dreaded gringo all the way. But they had a ton of luggage, number one nono, and they were dressed in their traveling best, number two nono, and they had really expensive backpacks number three nono.

To say we stuck out like walking targets is an understatement. The guy swore he got pickpocketed, he did get ripped off by the guys changing money, and they got stopped by the border cops. This was just on the way in! We were just shaking our heads in awe. I had told them before we went, travel light, wear less expensive clothing, and take dollars not colones. They did not listen to one word I said and they paid the price.

Not that I know it all or anything. Let's just say I have done that crossing a whole lot of times! Now my 16 yr. old it talking about a bus trip to Hondurus. 15 hours on the bus, three border crossings and a pretty crazy neighborhood there. Will I let her go? Heck yeah she will have a blast! I am hoping she can get her friend to go with her, but if not I will put her on the bus, her sister will meet her at the other end. And in between? Good thing she speaks good Spanish. My son did the trip without any Spanish and he did great.

He did get pickpocketed at one of the border crossings. Again bad choice. He wandered off from the bus to have a smoke and a bum asked him for a cigarette. He handed him one and the few limpuras he had left from Hondurus. A couple of minutes later he was standing there and a whole group of people brushed past him. He immediately went for his pocket only to discover his border crossing money was gone.

Turning to the crowd he yelled some profanity and told them to give him his money back.The bum who he had just helped out came over, walked up to this chick put his hand out and she handed him my sons money! Now that was street smarts there. Making friends never hurts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

No Excuses

It is the technological era. Every kid knows how to use a computer. Maybe all they can do is paint, and email and chat, but they know how to use a computer to find information. In this day and age is there any excuse not to take your child out of school?

There have been so many people, literally thousands upon thousands to keep their kids out of school. They have proven that these children can and do get along quite well with their peers as well as the rest of the planet, most of the times better!

"Ah", though they say, "your children will not be socialized". Now that is enough to scare the desire right on out of you. Your thoughts turn to Edward Sizzor Hands and other really scary home schooled kids. You begin to doubt yourself and think that maybe you really are not cut out to do this and maybe the teacher that spent four years in college partying their brains out,could do a better job. After all they have a (drumroll please) CERTIFICATE!

Holy cow how can you possibly compete with that?

Ah the answer is staring you right in the face, the almighty internet.
Want an activity to do on a rainy afternoon with the kids? look here
Want a great science experiment to do with the kids? look here
Want to connect with some other desperate homeschoolers? look here

Those are just the tip of the ice berg. There are so many resources available to us that we only need take the time to look. I find homeschooling my youngers so much more fun with all the world available to us at our fingertips.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Closer to Unschooling Baby

I have been letting Baby call the shots on her schooling. I am trying to trust her to make the right choice about what she really needs at this point in her life. She has been great so far. She goes to school about three or four days a week. I do have her decide the night before so that on the three early school days she is not just staying home because she would rather sleep.

Yesterday when we were walking home from school she mentioned that she did not have very many friends at school. I asked her how many she has. She counted three on her fingers and said the other kids don't really play with her.

She has had to contend with racism in a big way, as well as the language barrier. Her Spanish is pretty good, but the older the kids get the more they want someone with better Spanish they can converse with.

There is also a new girl in her class that she is really afraid of. She has not had any run ins with her, but I think she is afraid the little girl is going to come after her next. This little girl sounds like a piece of work. Screams and eats in the classroom and takes other people's stuff.

Today baby got the infamous stomach ache that she had last year. I suggested that maybe we should not go to school today, and miracle of miracles she was healed. She also announced that she thought she should stay home tomorrow and sleep late. This afternoon her teacher called to tell us there is no school tomorrow.

Here if the teacher has an appointment or something they cancel class for the day. So far since we started school in Feb. we have yet to have a full week of classes, fine with us. Since they only go for five hours a day it is really amazing they learn anything.

We did figure out they teach them to read by sight. The reading book we bought teaches them two words at a time. They memorize the words and move on. Maybe that works better with Spanish I don't know. I do know baby certainly prefers it as that is how she does her English reading lessons also. For her it is much less work to memorize than it is to sound out words.

Looks like a pool day for us tomorrow for sure! And then off to check out the gymnastics gym and see if that is something she wants to try. We have checked out dance, too boring, music, too boring and now gymnastics. She does love skating so we will go do that next week. This is too fun.

Teeny spent the day at the pool with our student. They have hit it off well and been enjoying hanging out until our student heads to Nicaragua to work for awhile. Seeing that she was also a unschooler I think that helps them get along better. In fact the majority of our students have been home or unschoolers. Cool beans!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unschooling Then and Now

Thirty years ago I was about six months pregnant with baby numero uno. We had just met a friend in Texas where we were living who exposed us to all kinds of really cool stuff. The first one was home birthing, and it was like the first in a long line of dominoes.

Once we started studying about home birthing we became convinced that we needed to step up our nutrition. Hubby had been a vegetarian before we got married, so slipping back into that life style was not a problem for him or me. I did not ever really like meat anyway, so no sacrifice on my part.

Of course once you fall into the rabbit hole of nutrition it is a hole that you will pretty much stay in forever, and we have.

Next came our discovery of home schooling. We knew when we read about it it was something we wanted for our children. The book "School Can Wait" by Raymond Moore was the first book we read and I loved it. It just resonated with me to my core and I knew this was something I would do.

When we told people about it they would laugh and say, "yeah just wait until they get old enough to go to school, you will change your minds". I didn't but hubby did, many times in fact.

People were pretty negative with us back in the day, but now it is amazing how different people are toward the whole homeschool topic. I should clarify that, they were accepting in the U.S. Here in Costa Rica they are not at all accepting, in fact they think we are crazy.

It is like the early days of homeschooling our older kids, only now we are dealing with it all over again with the younger kids. It is just not really accepted here because once again it is not understood. In the U.S. there has been enough publicity to make it understood, but not here. I guess once again we will be the pioneers and expose people to a new idea that they have never heard of and maybe open some minds.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mainstream Media's Attempt to Understand Unschooling

If you are a "homeschooler", you have no problems. In fact most people will look very kindly on you and think you are a saint or something. They will ask what curriculum you use and how many hours a day you all put in, and how many support groups you belong to. All this makes you very acceptable to them and to the educational world as a whole.

But whoa, tell them you are an unschooler and you will be slammed. Try this one on for size. This incredibly brave family did something I could never do.

They put themselves on the chopping block. And in a big way. I was so impressed with the parents as well as the teens in their answers and very confident responses. My children have always been a little more like me, a closet unschooler.

In fact I have always told people that we homeschool. When I was asked all the above questions I would tell them about all the curriculum that we had sitting home on the shelf collecting dust, and all the groups that we hadn't seen in years due to the fact we were busy living!

As for the hours put in? Why of course every waking hour is spent learning in our family!

Friday, April 16, 2010


When is a good time to get children doing chores? We have had them start as soon as they can walk, all the way up to never doing chores. Some could argue and fight so much better that we could not begin to have enough energy to get them to do them.

I think the best method that worked for our family was that they were all assigned a room. In the morning before breakfast they had to make sure their room was cleaned and swept or vacuumed. In the evening they had to do another quick clean before dinner time.

That seemed to work best for our family. Yes we tried chore charts, awards, rewards, you name it. The only thing that really worked was just, get your assigned room clean everyday. Less arguments and I don't forget who has what chore, works great.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Teenagers and Jobs

Our children have always had part=time jobs. The reasoning is they want cell phones and they want to drive, so the jobs finance their cell phones as well as their car insurance. Our current teenager does not need car insurance, we don't even have a car. But she does "need" a cell phone. And of course there is the iPod, that is another necessity these days.

Today she went for an interview at the "flower" place out by the airport. I still have not decided if it is a good thing or not. It is a call center, so it is not like it will be hard work for her. The problem is that it is a full-time job. Like she would have to go to work every single day.

Her siblings have assured me it will not last. Who would work full-time if they did not have to? I finally came to an agreement with her that she could work until she replaced the stolen cell phone and her broken iPod. After that we will be out of the country for a month anyway, so she will be done.

Now I am starting to think maybe not. She is 16 and a half, but she is a very young sixteen. My older daughter was a volunteer candy striper at the hospital at 15, got her CNA at 16 and was working everyday after work at the local assisted living center. She was an older 16 for sure.

In fact I can still remember she would drive our big old suburban to school, stay and work and get home late at night. Wow now that I think about it she was really different. In a really good way and boy do I appreciate it now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cell Phone Saga

And the cell phone saga continues. My really brave, really outspoken daughter is still working this cell phone thing to death. After we left off with her taking the police over to the guys house that she knew took it and he denied it we let it rest. Oh but not this girl. She is like a little bull dog, let her get a hold of you and man she will never, I mean nunca let go of you.

I am here to tell you these guys are going to rue the day they ever took this chicks cell phone. Yesterday she went up to them at the park and asked them how they liked having a cell phone with no chip in it, as we had it canceled. Then she asked them where they were going to get the thirty thousand, about sixty dollars, to go and free up the line. They just all gave her a really dumb look and shrugged.

Today, oh yeah it is still on. Those little creeps had the nerve to call her here at home and ask her if she would like to buy her cell phone back from them for forty thousand, or about eighty dollars! I could hear her yelling from my room as she told them to stick the cell phone where the sun don't shine. She asked them how in the heck they could ask her to pay for her own phone. They told her because of the embarrassment she caused them taking the police to their home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Are you kidding me? Please tell me this is a really big joke. As you can see she ain't laughing!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Give Me Six Minutes

You may be asking yourself, "why six minutes?" My reasoning it that this would be about the attention span of my six year old. Honest truth and I bet you would find the same thing with your child. They seem to be able to really put their whole heart and soul into something they really are not too interested in for about the length of time they are old.

This does not mean she cannot play a computer game for hours on end, which she can. It also does not mean she cannot take a shower for about an hour, which she does. It just means that she cannot really put forth
hard, concentrated effort for more than about six minutes.

For some reason I tend to forget this with subsequent children, but it really never changes. I see the same with my 16 yr. old. She can do her math pretty seriously for about 16 minutes. At around that time she has to get up and get a drink, make her some matte, or go to the bathroom. She will chat online for hours, but remember that is not concentrated, focused work.

It used to drive me crazy when my kids did this break thing. But I have been paying attention to it in myself. You know what? About 48 minutes is all I'm good for, if that!

As a side note, the cell phone that my teen gave a great chase for last week is now history. Yup got it ripped off at her "friends" house last night. I, not being the supportive oh I'm sorry mom that I am, reminded her that she was not supposed to be at that friends house anyway. She did not get any sympathy from us, which made her really mad. As she put it, madder than getting her cell phone ripped off.

She enlisted the help of our neighbor and had him drive her to the police station. They drove her to the guy's house, that she thought took the phone. He swore up and down that he did not have her cell phone, that it was two other guys. He even told the cops that these other two guys had taken his computer key as well as something else from him. I told her it was gone. She still went to meet a couple of friends today to try and beg them to give her phone back.

Her statement which I believe expressed the sentiments of all us living in Costa Rica were, "just because I live in Costa Rica does not mean I want to get ripped off". The people laugh at her and say "you are in Costa Rica, get used to it".

Monday, April 12, 2010


Did you know that in the morning when a child is fresh and wide awake they can read? Did you know that in the evening when they are tired and worn out they forget how to read? I should have remembered this fact when I decided that baby would show off her reading skills to her Dad. She started out all right, well she got the first three words. Then she started looking around, trying to guess her words and just basically getting tired of reading.

We just changed it to reading one page instead of two and Mom helped her out lots. It is so important that they have successful experiences and feel good about the whole reading ordeal. Believe me I have done it both ways, and the positive way is much superior to the yelling, threatening and guilting them into reading.

That is a really bad admission, but hey it is true. I have even been known to a little bop when they were learning the "ow" and "ou" sounds :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Friends

Baby is making new friends at school this year. One of the friends she has made lives real close to us. The most interesting part is her friend is Nica or Nicaraguan. We have found the Nica's to be very friendly here, and a little more apt to invite you into their lives and homes. Today we walked home a different way so baby could see where her friend lives. Turns out their family live in a little guard house on the property that the new Chinese department store is on. We like to take baby to the store so she can practice her Mandarin. There are many Chinese supers here that we have visited and met cool people for her to talk to.

We met one Chinese lady at a Chinese super around the corner that wanted baby to play with her daughter. Her daughter is a couple of years younger and they did not hit it off really well. The cool part was the Mom gave baby a beautiful Chinese dress before we left. Baby loves to wear it and looks like a princess.

Teeny is also doing a first for her this weekend. A whole group of kids from church and the neighborhood all went up into the mountains to do some camping tonight. I am thinking they are going to freeze, but we will see how it goes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Day Late....

Today baby started reading lessons at her school. I am frustrated because I really wanted to have her reading well in English before she began her Spanish reading. I guess it will just slow things down a bit, but at least she will have it down. She is getting very apprehensive about her teacher having to leave to have her baby. We will see how that goes.

Teeny actually worked for money today. We have been cracking down on her to work for her money instead of just asking and expecting it. She actually scrubbed all the tile floors in the house, which would be all the floors. She has also completed her time being demo dog for our massage student. She worked this afternoon doing reports on all the conference talks. Of course that was a bribe. Fill in all the reports of the talks from conference and get a new cell phone battery.

She has really enjoyed having our student here. They get along well and she gets to speak in English, I think sometimes she misses that.

Last night she received a real wake-up call, so to speak. Her and her fellow "band" members were sitting on the curb up the street. A black car with no plates drove by slowly and scoped them out. The car turned around when one of the other kids answered his cell phone, dumb move. All the others yelled at him and they all took off running when the car turned around to come back.

The kids all hid at the end of our street waiting for the car to leave. They did not leave, just parked and waited. In the meantime teeny has all the cell phones crammed into her boots, like they would not look there. The kids waited awhile and finally decided to make a run for our house. Right as Hannah reached in to unlock the gate the car came whipping by, they took off when they saw her come in the gate.

Her friends sprinted for the park and scrambled over the fence to hide out and wait until the guys got tired of waiting and left. After talking to the neighbor he said the police were looking for a black car but that it had not been out before midnight before and this was nine.

I have always said we would stay in Costa Rica as long as we felt it was safe to do so. When my 22 yr old got robbed at gun point for his cell phone in San Jose we could rationalize. It was after midnight, he was alone and talking on his cell phone downtown San Jose after drinking too much! This one I just can't quite ignore or blame on the kids.

Got some thinking to do for sure. In Central America they shoot kids for cell phones. A neighbor kid who was just right around the corner from us got shot in the chest and killed for his cell phone. He was 19 years old! Today my daughter wrote me from Hondurus that a 13 year old girl had been stabbed to death on the bus for her cell phone. As the economy gets worse the crime rate is spiraling. Like I said we have some thinking to do for sure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Order of Letters

After you have taught "M" I would begin on S. That is another fun one and you can use sssssnakes to help teach them how to make it. I forgot to mention when you are trying to help remember the M you can teach mountains. They have a good m begining and an "M" looks like a mountain. Likewise a S looks like a snake, which is what it starts with.

The next letter would be "B". That is another fun one and you can incorporate bubbles into that one. It kind of looks like a couple of bubbles yeah? After "B" we will begin working in some sight words the kids will need to know for reading simple books.

At this point they should be able to read mmmmm about something that looks good to eat. They should be able to say the "sss" sound when they see "s" in a book. The best thing for you to do is read to them. When you are reading let them make the begining sounds they know up to this point. If you are lucky they are starting to put things together and see how this letter thing works.

The problem we are having right now is with learning to read in English and Spanish at the same time. They are a little later to teach reading here in CR, but baby is learning her vowels at her school and keeps getting them confused with English vowels. I just have to keep reminding her, yes that is in Spanish, but we are learning to read in English right now. She is getting it, just a little slower than she would if everyone around here was speaking English.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

II Teaching Reading

After the first five weeks now you all are rolling along on those vowels. Next step would be to throw in some fun consonants. I usually begin with M. That is a really fun one to teach, as it can be a word into itself. For example the first day we may go out for a yummy treat to eat. As we are eating I say "MMMM, this is so good". That is their first exposure to beginning sounds of words. Usually we only spend two or three days on the consonant sounds.

Day one we would make an art project with the "M". Again be creative and use something you both love. It could even be pretzels shaped like an "M" if you both like cooking.

Day two would be cutting out pictures of "M" words. Try to make very obvious ones that have lots of m sound.

Day three would be sounding out a list of words with all the vowels following "m". The really cool thing is you can say they are reading at this point. All you have to do is have them take a picture of someone eating something yummy and write "MMMMMM" underneath it as the caption. That introduces the kids to the idea that all sounds go together to make a word that actually means something.

They will not just click at this point, that takes may hours of them reading before they actually get this concept. If any of your children have ADD as one of ours did, pretty bad in fact, you may have to change things up a bit.

With our son he did not get reading until he was well into six. In fact it did not click for him until he started piano lessons. Something about reading the music finally did for him what reading practice could not seem to do.

Again take your time, they will get it eventually!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Teaching Reading

I have lots of people ask me how to teach reading to their children, so thought I would give a step by step guide this week. You don't have to have anything fancy, in fact you can make all your own supplies and not buy a single thing.

The first step will be teaching them to recognize the sounds of the letters. Start with the vowels. AEIOU should be the first sounds they learn. I don't teach them the long vowels until they have learned all the sounds. Just the short vowels to start with.

How to do this?

The first week will be A week. Monday I would make a collage with a big and little A. They could make a noodle collage, or even just multi colored paper torn into small pieces glued onto the big and little a. Or make a bean collage, we have done that one.

Tuesday I would let them make a A necklace. Help them draw and cut out a big and little A and string it on a necklace. Of course all the time you are saying A and talking about different words that begin with the sound.

Wednesday I would take a bunch of old newspapers or magazines and cut out all the A words you can find and put them in their A booklet.

Thursday I would have them color a picture of A and several items that begin with A.

Friday I would have them practice writing big and little A's in their A notebook on lined paper.

By the end of the week they will know A. The next week go to E and so on until after five weeks they will know their vowels. I will give you some tips for the following weeks manana.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Well we have ruled out the medical profession for the teen and it is a maybe for baby. When my back freaked out and spasmed last night both of them were a little put out at being woke up by Mom screaming and crying. Baby I can understand as I was crawling over her to get to her dad so he could make the pain go away or just knock me out or something. Ah the joys of the family bed!

When I got a little shocky, covered with sweat and spacey teen asked me to close my eyes because it was "freaking her out". O.k. bedside manner a complete wash. She is out tonight auditioning for the rock band she wants to sing with. One of the boys dad's was apparently famous for winning a guitar contest in Argentina. That is enough to make you famous in Costa Rica by the way. So when they found out she sings, and she speaks English, which is what they sing in they were really excited.

She did say she would have to get a t-shirt that say's "I am famous in Costa Rica". One of the great things about being raised in a small country.

The customs kind of get the best of us sometimes also. Teen decided it would be a funny April Fools joke (which baby calls "apricot day") to post on facebook that she had been to the doc and was having a beautiful girl. She even posted an ultrasound pic with it. The problem came when all her friends from Costa Rica started leaving comments and congratulating her. One was her ex-boyfriend's cousin. Now she is trying to figure out how to explain it to all of them. She figured she would tell them her brother wrote it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pen Pals

Both girls have signed up for pen pals through the lds site. Today they both received letters in the mail and were tickled. We don't receive a lot of mail here in Costa Rica, so it was double pleasure to receive these letters. Baby is working on her reply right now and teenager will be working on hers this weekend. On a date right now, so hope she will work on it soon. It is a great way to get them to practice their writing.

Writing is always a hard thing to get my kids motivated to do. One way has been the pen pals, another way my girls love is making lists. Any time we are going somewhere I ask them to make a list and they enjoy that. Today I looked at baby on the way to the store and realized she had Mountain Dew on one arm and Dr. Pepper on the other arm. I can't imagine who did that?

Monday, March 29, 2010


Today was the day to plant some spinach. Baby loves working in the garden with me and was great at planting our couple of rows of seeds. She really likes working in the garden and was tickled pink when we actually got a couple of tomatoes off these really woeful looking plants. You would think "oh it is Costa Rica, just throw a few seeds out there and watch them grow". Not! There are more fungus, ants and crazy diseases here than I thought imaginable.

We visited with friends last night and the girls got to jump on a trampoline for the first time in years. Baby lost her top front tooth to a trampoline and a really high jumping big brother a few years ago and took some time warming up. Hannah was excited to jump again and had a blast. She has been bugging us to buy a Wii, but after playing it for about 15 minutes she was done with it.

A few months ago we cut back t.v. time to one hour a day. It is amazing how much more creative both girls have been. We used to let baby watch for a couple of hours after her nap. I read an article about how t.v. time actually makes learning harder for kids and thought it would help her schooling if we cut her back. It has been great!

We spent the first 15 years of our marriage without a t.v. and now hardly watch it at all. None of our kids really care for t.v. and proved people wrong that if we did not let them watch they would go crazy once they got in front of one, wrong! Of course those were the same people that said the kids would go crazy over sugar once they left our home where we did not eat it. Wrong!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

LDS Homeschool Site

I found this site a couple of weeks and really love it. They have tons of ideas and it reminds me of my days of homeschooling many children of many levels. It makes me think I have no excuses for spending lots more time with my two girlies!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This great shell site: is the site we are using to divide up our shell collection. As you can see we are coming right along with it, but are having trouble a couple of our shells. We will keep searching. Baby loves dividing up things and has really enjoyed putting her many shells in some kind of order.

And lest you think she is all work and no play, here you have the future surf champion of Costa Rica! This chick can play at the beach like none other, can even go under the big ones now, with no fear. Yeah surf lessons are in the future for sure.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beach Schooling

We spent the last two days at Manual Antonio beach. I love that beach and we have all made friends and regulars there who really look forward to our visits. Baby knows her way around very well and has a pretty good routine there. She found some great shells there today and will be working on jewelry all weekend with the shells she found. She is also getting to be pretty awesome at boogey boarding. I am thinking a few surf lessons in the near future.

Teenager spent the time getting to know all the surfers hanging out in the shade with us. She can sure wheel and deal for a good price on boogey boards though. I was glad to see that she did some swimming and was pretty active this time. In the past she just wanted to sit and not play as much. Good to see her playing.

While baby and I were collecting shells we started talking about where they all came from. I told her we would google them and find out what the shells are all called and where they came from, she has forgotten but I am on it. I try to keep her interested in things she expresses and interest in, however fleeting it may be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Teaching Reading

Rod and Staff are the workbooks we are using presently to teach baby to read. I have to say after using about six different methods, there is no magic curriculum or method to teaching a child to read. I hate to say that, but it really is true.

What it does take to teach your children to read is a true love of reading yourself, as well as a true love of your child. Yes that is it, total requirements to teach reading to your child.

Most people that I have talked to about homeschooling seem to share in common the fear of teaching their children to read. There really is no magic to it. It is very time intensive and does take much patience and love, but other than that it is just pure fun! I tell people that the reason I chose to homeschool is so that I could teach my children to read.

I have been a lover of reading since I was a child. We grew up without a t.v. and because of that I was a voracious reader. I had read the whole Narnia series about five times by the time I was in fifth grade. I was in the gifted reading class at school and could read circles around my peers.

The interesting part of this? It did not start out this way. When I was in first grade my father died. During this time I missed lots of second grade. For this reason when we returned from my Father's funeral I was given special tutoring by Mrs. Row. She was my teacher and a very kind old white haired lady. You know it only took about two weeks before she had me reading as well as the rest of the class? Just a little one on one attention and I took off and never looked back.

That is my point. All it takes is you sitting there helping them sound out the words, reminding them what sound they are looking at, and at least a thousand times repeating certain rules that they cannot remember.

Like I said we have used many different methods to teach our children to read. The first couple of kids we used a book I checked out at the library. I copied it off (that was the day before curriculum) and off we went to learn to read. When my first born started reading, just using this little library book of sounds I was so thrilled. He took off also and never looked back. One of those kids who hide the flashlight under the bed to read after bed time.

Our fourth kid stopped me cold. He did not "respond" to our little reader. He just did not get it. The other kids were all reading by the age of five. He was six and still not reading. I was getting worried and finally just decided to wait a few months. In the meantime we began piano lessons. Guess what? Walla he had it! Yup it was the piano lessons that got the brain firing the right way and got him reading.

The next reader I had gotten rid of our copied book and was not sure what to use. About that time I found a cool book at church about teaching English as a second language using the scriptures. It was only $15.00 so I decided what the heck lets try it. I gotta tell you that at the age of four that kid was reading like a second or third grader. He is still a great reader as well as a great writer by the way.

With the sixth reader I had a challenge that I did not even know I had. Unbeknownst to us she could not see out of her right eye. She struggled to learn and finally got the reading down. She just never enjoyed it and we really had to fight to get her to read. Once we found out about the sight problem it made much more sense and now we try to get her big print and just encourage her.

Baby is using the workbooks above. She is also learning to read in Spanish at the same time, so it will probably be a little slower for her. She can pretty much read easy things already and is doing good with it. It is a blast to work with her, and I would never let anyone else teach my kids to read. I want to not only teach them to read, but also to teach them to "love" to read!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


O.K. so I finally figured out where to categorize laying on the massage table for half the day being "demo-dog". It would definetly be science. Considering the fact she has already been through the 12 week massage program and remembers some of the muscles she learned, I can call it a muscle review. The only problem would be that today she fell asleep.

Baby went to afternoon school today. They were scheduled to have their Mathmatica exams. The teachers are very strict about exam week and her teacher Nina Elizabeth is having a fit that she will miss the last two days of exams. The funny part is the exam she will be missing is English. I feel pretty sure that she has that subject down pretty good.

You never know though. Teenager went to a private school here in CR when we first moved here. She got a bad grade in English because the teacher was saying things wrong and she corrected her. NO, NO! My other daughter was working at a online business and she got five points off her evaluation because of her accent LOL! Once she explained that she was Gringa they apologized and fixed it.

I have decided once babies teacher takes off to have her baby we will be done. Baby has excellent Spanish now and can play with other kids fine. She has also developed other interests to keep her busy at home. We have cut her down to only one hour of t.v. a day, and it is amazing to see how her imagination has just blossomed. I am very pleased to see her expanding her art skills and spending hours making pictures for people and friends. She also spends hours playing with her puppy.

Yeah I think she will be fine at home with her old boring parents. We will be spending a few days at the beach this week and she loves that. Both girls really enjoy getting out of town, in a car even, and hanging out at the beach for a couple of days. We are all ready to get back to the mountains after a couple of days and cool off, but it is a nice break.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Still on the Fence

Unfortunately for baby this week is "exams". Again unfortunately for baby I am still "undecided" about what to do with her in regards to school. Everything in me screams to take her out. Everything, and everyone outside of me screams to keep her in. The argument being an old one for us-what about her socialization? You would think after thirty years of homeschooling I would have an answer for this, and more confidence that it does not count for anything.

I have decided to interview each of my children who have in fact been un/homeschooled and share that with everyone. They all have very different views as well as memories of their school days. I was surprised in talking to them that they actually have very positive things to say about schooling, and no regrets. O.k. maybe some regrets, but mostly on their parts for things they did not pursue.

In the meantime I will continue to dress baby everyday in her silly uniform and march her off to her good catholic school where she will learn to conform and fit in. Augghhhhh it is killing me! As you can see it won't last long. She is one of the most creative children I have had and I cannot let them stifle that out of her. They are already all about coloring in the lines and using many different colors, and make sure you put torsos on your people etc.

Today she made up her own art. She found that when she sharpens her colored pencils, which is quite often, the shavings make a really pretty flower. She has about sharpened her colored pencils down to nothing making flowers for a collage she is working on. I will post a picture of her flower art when she gets it done.

On the teen end of things we have been doing lots of talking and gentle leading to encourage some kind of learning to take place during the day. She likes to blame it on the fact that many days she has to demo dog for us with our massage student. I am trying to figure out how to fit laying on a massage table, listening to your headphones into a learning corner and having trouble. I have been having her do more cooking, which at least gets her thinking in a math oriented manner at some point during the day.