Wednesday, 28 March 2012

MACHS Homeschool Conference 2012 Pt. 2

"The best laid plans of mice and men...". That has to be one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books that were required reading in high school (my children will for sure read this when the time comes). It also for the most part adequately describes how our two days at the MACHS Homeschool Conference went.

In short we went, we saw, and we conquered. It was two days of a lot of learning, discussing, and discovering. To my dismay we didn't get to attend the workshops as much as I wanted to. This can be attributed to a variety of reasons from not knowing quite where to go to getting too absorbed in looking at the exhibitors to Evelyn getting a little cranky (girl just wants to be mobile). Whether it was missing a workshop completely or leaving early or just not being able to concentrate the workshops were a bit of a bust. Not to discredit the workshops themselves though, mostly I just wasn't able to mentally be there how I had hoped.

However, to my pleasant surprise all the workshops will be available on the MACHS web site in the members only section. You can bet I got me a membership real fast upon that little discovery. Can I get an AMEN???

AMEN!!!!!! This means that in the comfort of my home and in the quiet of sleeping babes I will be able to listen/watch the workshops over again and really be able to pay attention. As an added bonus the workshops that were cross timed with others that I couldn't go to before I will also be able to listen/watch. Talk about a workshop gold mine. I am hoping they will be available on the web site shortly. After I get my fill I will elaborate more on my thoughts and what I learned from each of the facilitators.

One thing that did go better than I hoped was checking out the exhibitors. To me getting a feel for curriculum was a major part of the conference experience for us. It is one thing to read about them in a book, see pictures of them online and read the reviews but getting an opportunity to actually pick some up and flip through them was fantastic.

I am happy to report that I found some direction and awesome resources. Among those that I am most excited about are:

-Draw Write Now
     Daddy is a fantastic artist. To him the concepts of Draw Write Now are perfect. Using art and writing and penmanship together just makes sense.

-Canadian Handwriting
     I have poor penmanship. At least that is what I have been told my entire life. I hope that my children don't inherit my sad skills. I think that practice will play a huge roll in that. I will use the Canadian Handwriting workbooks to reinforce what they are learning in the Draw Write Now program.

-Math U See and AL RightStart Mathematics
     One thing I have learned in regards to mathematics is that today it is all about manipulatives. Having children work with actual objects for counting and math visualization is where its at. I put both the Math U See program and the AL RightStart Mathematics together because they both rely heavily on visualization and tactile learning. They both have work book components along with the counting blocks, clock, tiles etc. I hope that by combining the more traditional style of the Math U See program with the game playing mentality of the AL RightStart that I will be giving my children a great foundation in math.

-Canada, My Country
     I am a bit of a geography and history nut. They were always my favourite University courses. To me it is very important that my children learn about the history of their country. When I came upon the Donna Ward/Northwoods Press exhibit I was very excited. Even more excited to realize that Donna Ward herself was explaining it all to me. The way it is laid out and how the curriculum integrates and can span several grades. I was hooked. I believe I have said before that Daddy says am a sucker for sets but even he couldn't scoff at this set. This is definitely something I will need to devote an entire blog post to when I get it.

I have not nailed down a phonics and reading curriculum yet which is mildly stressing me out. I saw a few there and I will be doing a lot of deliberating on them. Finding a good reading/phonics/grammar/spelling program is very important to me. I love writing. I love reading. I truly feel that with the right start my children will have that same love. Even now Viktor is making huge leaps in the reading and spelling area and I wish to keep that developing. Max is also watching his brother intently and is trying to mimic the spelling and reading already. Clearly I have work to do here.

To add to all this I saw some great science resources and programs and many very cool world history and geography unit studies. There was also no lack of bible study curriculum that I have to look at.

There is so much that I want to add here but alas those little minds I need to hold are calling me. I can tell already that I will need to do a Part 3 to this little series about the conference. I wish to expand on the workshops after I listen to them online. I want to add more on the curriculum. I also want to speak on how great it was for Daddy and I to be on the same page. Stay tuned for all that.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

MACHS Homeschool Conference 2012 Pt. 1

When I first began researching and entertaining the idea of homeschooling last spring I was heartily dismayed that I had missed my local homeschooling conference. I missed it by a mere week too. Sadly, there would be no other conference that would come close in my area for yet another year. I really felt like I missed out. Just to have had the opportunity to look at the variety of curriculum would have been such a great starting place. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Then.

But now? I am just under a year later and Mamma is on the ball. I continued to scope out the Manitoba Association of Christian Home Schools (MACHS) web site for news on the conference so when information was available I was on it. I ordered up my tickets. I'm very happy I got in on the early bird deal because it meant that Daddy could come along for FREE! Can't beat free. Baby girl will be going along as they welcome nursing infants however the boys will be spending the day and a half at their Granny's. They are going to have a ball, and you know what? So am I.

I'm not even sure what I am most excited about. The workshops. Seeing the exhibitors. Spending the time with Daddy. Learning on how to give my children the best homeschool experience. It is all a ball of awesome in my books.

What exactly is a homeschool conference? From what I can tell it is a two day affair where people come and attend workshops, listen to a key note speaker and check out the tables where different companies are peddling their wares and vying for your money for their product. Essentially it is a trade show on homeschooling and I LOVES me a good tradeshow (hello farm kid over here).

As far as the workshops go here is what we are planning to attend...

Session 1 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Ballistic Homeschooling
Of all the workshops I am looking forward to this one the most. What a great way to start the conference. This workshop is going to be all about teaching BOYS!! I have two boys. They are bundles of energy. The description of the workshop described my boys to a T. I am hoping this will arm me with both better tools for teaching them as well as maintaining my sanity. Tall order right?

Session 2 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm
Choosing Curriculum for your Unique Family
I often feel that choosing curriculum is one of the biggest stressors for a homeschooling parent. For me it sure is. Choosing the wrong curriculum can set back your child if it isn't the right approach and set you back in the pocket book department. I am hoping that this will give me a bit more direction. I have been reading 100 Top Picks for Home School Curriculum like a mad woman and hoping that between that and this particular workshop I will have a lot more confidence in choosing a curriculum that will suit my children.

Session 3 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
I decided that we would take a workshop break at this time frame. Not that there weren't any offered but considering we will have baby girl with us taking a break would be wise as well as too keep us from getting overwhelmed. It is during this time that we will browse the exhibitors. Talk to a few people. Maybe make some connections.

There is then a break from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. At this point we will continue checking out the companies represented at the conference as well as pop out to grab a quick bite to eat before the evening session.

Session 4 7:00 pm - 9:00  pm
This session will begin with a presentation update on the Home School Legal Defence Association which will then be followed by the Key Note speakers. The speakers this year are a husband and wife who will be speaking on the importance of Christ and how it relates to homeschooling. I will be interested in what they have to say. I differ from many who choose to homeschool as I am not doing it necessarily for religious reasons. As a religious and spiritual person though I am very interested in grasping some of the connection between homeschooling and faith.

Session 5 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Yup, not going to anything here. Getting our whole crew out the door and to where we all need to be in order to make it for a 9:00 am session would be a feat. One that I do not plan to undertake especially considering the busy day we had the day before. We will be dropping the boys off at Granny's for day #2 and plan to arrive in time for Session 6.

Session 6 10:15 am -11:15 am
Homeschooling 101
I am looking forward to this workshop as it deals with logistics. As much as I am a flighty musician somehow I am also very much about the logistics. This workshop will deal with things such as how to notify the government, how to keep records, teaching multiple grades and many more ins and outs of the system.

While there are a few more sessions that continue after that some of them just aren't what I am looking for right now. We will take that opportunity to return to some exhibitor tables if I have any more questions as well as discover a few that I may have missed the first day.

If you would like to see a full list of the workshops that are being offered please click here.

It is going to be a long two days but I am looking at it with much anticipation. I'm a tad nervous. I know I'll be a bit overwhelmed but I plan to come out armed with a much better sense of the direction we want to go.

Before I sign off this post can I just say that I love technology. I will point out a specific reference to this conference. The company which the ticket processing is done through is called Eventbrite. They run an app which you can use to access your ticket information. I was able to download the app then my actual tickets so that I don't even need to print or remember to take any tickets with me. The downloaded tickets are on my iPhone and since my iPhone is like a 5th appendage, or at the very least a permanent growth on my hand, odds are good I don't have any worries about losing or forgetting tickets. I get jazzed about the melding of tradition and technology.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I will be making some notes and preparing things to take with me to the conference for writing and referencing. Please check back early next week when I do Pt. 2 of my post on the MACHS Homeschool Conference.

Have a great night!

Oh and PS. I may have an solution to The Great Stroller Conundrum. The baby store with the strollers I have been looking at is two blocks away from the conference site. There will definitely be a field trip there.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Great Stroller Conundrum

I am in love. It's crazy I know. To be in love with something I've only seen in a picture. When I see it in person will it still hold that same allure? Will it look as sleek? Will I still get butterflies when I gaze upon it? I imagine this is similar to what people feel like in a mail order spouse situation.

Anyways...I am however talking about a stroller. To be specific the stroller is a Baby Jogger City Select with 2nd seat and additional standing board for on the back. Throw in the parent's console and snack tray and belly bar for the kids and I am decked out. Presumably decked out as I would ever need to be as a mother with a growing family. Yes, I would be one happy mum BUT a mum with a grand less in her pocket.

Truly if price were no object I would have had this stroller last year when I first happened upon it. I yearned for it then as I still do now. Yet, here I am, no stroller. Well, I have a stroller (a workhorse, also known as a Baby Trend Sit and Stand. It has served me well but truth be told it is hard to steer and has seen better days). I just don't have THAT stroller. The one I WANT.

Since wants are irrelevant, when the cost is as extravagant as it is, I have to fall back on NEEDS. How do I convince my husband I NEED this stroller. How can I convince myself I NEED this stroller.
 1.Please refer to aforementioned workhorse. It has seen better days. I don't know when those days will run out. Every time I'm out with it I half expect all four wheels to simultaneously snap off and there I am walking down the sidewalk with all my gear in tow and a defunct stroller in the background.
2. I need flexibility and variety. Different stroller situations have different requirements.
3. With a 3 kids and spring on the horizon I want to get out and do a lot of walking. I need something that can stand up to the abuse we will put it through.
4. It would be nice to be able to not have to lug a full size double style stroller when all I need is a single
5. How about a stroller that folds up for quick and easy storage.
6. A stroller that fits nicely in the back of my van

So, really all those other things aren't NEEDS either, expect for the fact that very soon I will need a new stroller. It may as well be a good one. This fact has been well established. My husband has somewhat conceded to this point. What I am having difficulty doing though is thinking of parting with close to $1000 for a stroller (with accessories slightly over $1000). I don't doubt the value though. I have seen demos, I have seen pictures, I have friends that rave about it, I have seen other mums gleefully (smugly) pushing it through the mall. This stroller freaking rocks.

Therefore, I have been on a hunt, a search, sniffing out every possible deal lead on this puppy. Alas, they are snapped up. Any deal is done and the embargo and price freeze on these is pretty impressive actually. My hunt then turned to a suitable second choice. I have checked out the Graco versions of the sit and stand and I don't want a full double because that defeats point number four. I have looked at some other styles similar to the City Select but just not liking their style and their price point, I need a suitable option cheaper not more expensive.

And there you have it. The great stroller conundrum. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. The stroller I WANT (and NEED) and the strollers I can afford (so to speak). I will see what happens in the coming weeks. I am hopefully going on a little city adventure with baby E in mid April and want this situation sorted out by then.

From this point forward though I will use what I know of the laws of attraction and I'm going to attract me that sucker. I'm going to picture it, I'm going to dream of it. I've pinned it even. When the time comes to go look in earnest I will take my husband with me, I will try to make it look sexy like girls in bikinis do with sports cars. I will plead my case and extol it's virtues.

In the words of Wayne Campbell "It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine."