Disney Schooling

How to turn a Disney Vacation into the ultimate homeschool field trip:

1. Epcot is your friend. So many people think Epcot isn’t for kids. I beg to differ. We took my son to Epcot for the first time at 3 years old and he loved it. There are so many areas that are made to stimulate their imagination.
A. Study the Oceans in your homeschool lessons and then use the Living Seas pavilion to reinforce what you’ve learned.
B. Start a garden and then head to the Land pavilion. There you can discuss plant life cycles, hybrid plants or hydroponics techniques, depending on the age of your child.
C. Study the 11 countries on the World Showcase. The age of your child will dictate how in-depth your study will be. With my kindergartener, locating them on the wall map, learning their continent, studying their language, environment, unique animals, and a small overview of their culture, history and religion is good enough. We plan about 10 days for each country.
2. Even Magic Kingdom presents opportunities for education. Most people don’t realize that most Disney movies are based on books, poems or stories from all around the world. For instance, Mulan is based on the Ballad of Mulan from early China. Reading the primary materials and comparing them to the Disney version can be great for not only providing your child with a great base of classic literature, poetry and mythos.
3. Animal Kingdom provides a unique opportunity to view animals in their habitats. It is also a chance to study African and Asian countries typically not covered in traditional schools.
4. Disney has a multitude of cultural experiences available to enrich your child’s understanding and exposure to the world. In each of the World Showcase countries, the cast members who work at the different pavilions are originally from the nations represented. This gives your child the chance to interact with the people you have been studying, practice their new language skills, and ask questions about things they have learned about in class.

In the coming weeks, I will post how we have incorporated the world showcase nations into our learning. I hope you enjoy!

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Being a Mom

Being a mom changes you. Its just a fact of life. All of the sudden, you are able to accomplish more one handed than most people can do with two. Suddenly you can open things with your feet and elbows. Your ability to stomach the disgusting increases ten fold. While everyone else in the house is gagging in disgust, you are just carrying on as usual. The ability to continue to do laundry after sustaining an injury that scares your child and makes your significant other sick at their stomach from worry is a trait of moms. Another is the sudden urgency for the short forks and the long forks be placed in their separate but equal places in the drawer. No mixing of table spoons and tea spoons. It is deemed highly exciting when your carpets are returned to their natural color after a shampoo.

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On going Green-ish

Let me start off by saying that my voter registration card has a big “R” on it. I am by no means someone who should be considered as the poster girl for being green. I own a Ford Explorer and I really hate those stupid little smart cars that I’m pretty sure looks like an afternoon snack to my truck.

When I started getting “greener” it wasn’t some mission to save the world or the trees or the ozone layer. It was a simple mission to make my wallet a little greener. While I knew the first steps would help, no one told me just how much money I would save by making little changes.

No, I didn’t discard every paper plate or paper towel in my home. I’m sorry, but I have a 4 year old and the idea of eternal laundry and dishes just doesn’t sit well. I did start a garden. I have a pretty large garden space in my back yard which I have used to grow a variety of fruits and veggies. Mostly, I thought it would be something to make me feel good and spend some time outside. And it did. It was a great space that my son I spent time. He learned how to make things grow and we ate from our bounty together.

This was the start of a whole new use for the backyard. Three years later, we have four chickens, a bigger garden and we do things a little greener. I use Tupperware instead of plastic bags on my lunch. And I am careful about my spending. We keep the thermostat at a constant temperature. We are careful about our fuel use. We don’t eat out as much, and cook more at home. We are also building a greenhouse over our garden so we can get even more from it.

Being greenish isn’t just about hugging trees. As a matter of fact, for me, being greener was just as much about being more money-wise as it was being traditionally greener. And who can say no to that?

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Week recaps

Snow; that’s the word of the day. I went to sleep last night and woke this morning to find my entire world covered in the light, fluffy (and unfortunately very cold) stuff. While I am an avid critic of the cold, I am happy for my son that some snow finally made its way into our corner of the world. Of course, the fluffy white stuff brought with it all of the normal headaches—the scraping, the wet pants cuffs and the people who randomly lose control of their vehicles and drive into the side of buildings. You know, typical. After an hour of snowball fights, snow angels and a snow pyramid (because my son found a snowman too hard to make), I had to head inside to warm up and ready for work.
Our boss has been in an unusually foul mood the last few days. He complained to our bigger boss about planned leave that we requested—for October, 10 months away… and 6 months after he leaves here. I guess he’s taking this whole being-an-ass thing seriously. But whatever. I know it’s difficult on him to be here, no respect from his men, and no respect from his own leadership. I guess you reap what you sew.
On another note, my son has been steadily making his way through the entire catalogue of the local library. Yesterday, my son found a book he liked and proudly exclaimed (as loudly as he could to the entire library) “IT’S GEORGE WASHINGTON!!” and demanded that we check out two books on him. He would have checked out more but I convinced him to leave some for later. So, for his bedtime story he got the entire rundown of GW’s life. I was proud of my son for recognizing him and taking an interest. My work is successful!!
After 11 excruciating days in labor, my sister finally gave birth to her daughter. 6 pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches long. After the ice melts, I’ll be happy to drive to the mountains of Tennessee to see my little niece. Children bring so much joy… right up until they talk through every important moment of NCIS.

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Suspiciously quiet

When my four year old is quiet, I know something is up. He is either in trouble, or he is about to be. I on the other hand, tend to be suspiciously quiet when I have been ridiculously busy. Well, I wouldn’t say ridiculously maybe, but busy none the less.

The rest of the work week consisted of tyrants who said that, despite freezing temperatures and falling snow, the heat was to remain in the locked and off position. So, I wore my coat inside all day. It was strangely reminiscent of high school.

The week has also included two wonderful trips to our local public library. My son loves to read and I love to read to him. We’ve read 14 books since Wednesday, quite the accomplishment for a child of four. I am struggling to teach him to read. Though he excels in math and science (he can tell you all about an exoskeleton) he has not yet mastered reading. He knows his alphabet and the sounds each letter makes. He can even write most of them and makes them out of legos and play-dough. Reading, however, has eluded us. I feel confident however, that if we just keep reading a few books a day, he’ll catch on in his own time.

I have made a budget for the entire year. Quite a skill, I know. I so far have stuck to it pretty well for the last two months. I am paying off pretty much all my bills (except my truck and student loans) and getting out of debt as much as possible. I also have a two year plan (starting next year) which will pay off my truck a few years early and save me thousands. All without sacrificing family vacations! I plan to tuck a little more money into savings, my 401K and my son’s college savings plan after April (the date on which I pay off all my other debts).

So here is to continuing to make 2013 a healthy year. I’m bringing lunch/dinner to work every day, saving both money and my health. Paying off my debts and becoming more financially healthy. And focusing on my son’s educational and social well being, making my home healthier. Who else has healthy goals they believe they will actually accomplish this year?

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The weekend: torture or pleasure?

Sometimes it is unclear to me whether weekends are meant to be times of family and relaxation or instruments of torture. While it was much warmer here then it has been in months, the dreary fog and constant rain meant that most of our weekend was to be had indoors. The resulting cabin fever almost resulted in the calling of the men in white coats. A nice, relaxing bowl of Zuppa Toscana was able to ease us into a mode of quiet relief, but not until Sunday night. Why didn’t we think of that sooner?

My younger sister is pregnant and ready to burst. She will be bestowing me with the title of Aunt for the first time and really the entire family is anticipating the arrival of the baby girl. On Friday, my sister began having contractions and on Saturday they got to a steady 3 minutes apart. She went to the hospital only to find out she is in pre-labor which can last for up to a week. So, we are now all in a perpetual state of anxiousness knowing that it will be “any minute” but not yet. *sigh*

In our infinite wisdom, my roommate and I decided that this dreary weekend was a good time to attempt to find a new cable/internet/tv provider, only to be driven to further madness when we found that no single provider has everything we need in our area with the exception of the one overpriced service we already have. Almost all have two of three and Verizon was particularly rude when asked about their tv package with direct tv. In the end, we were just as unsure, frustrated and furious as we had been at our original provider and opted to not talk about it anymore for the moment.

Additionally, it is raining again today (but warmish) so I suppose I will rouse my sleeping preschooler (yes, it’s 11am and he’s still asleep, yes this is typical and yes, I am spoiled) and make a run to the local library.

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