The Fellas were interested in landforms and we delved into a little study on the topic. Thanks to their direction and inquiry, we ended up in the back yard lab, cooking up a nice STEM activity! We created a volcano using mud and decorated it using grasses and twigs. We allowed it to dry in the sun while we worked on counting with The Red One. After drying, we had the most active volcano on earth in our backyard lab! Check out the two scientists at play!
Month: September 2016
The Short Story of Otis the Frog
The Kid and The Red One found an injured frog. After donning gloves, we moved the poor creature into a makeshift Veterinarian ER (ok, it was a plastic shoebox with water, grass and a rock). We tried feeding him a praying mantis (no luck). The Fellas kept a close eye on him and even named him Otis. One way they medicated him was through musical therapy. They created a lovely song that went ” Booty, booty, booty, booty”…you get the picture. Poor Otis seemed to thrive on the verbal attention and water but less so on the regular poking, heavy handed petting and rough carrying. Over the course of his morning at our Backyard Vet ER, Otis went from dry, flat and nearly dead, to alive, moving and ready for release.
The Search and Rescue of Old Otis
Otis in the Backyard Vet ER (Shoebox)
The intense and aggressive Musical Therapy, in action. Song: Booty, Booty, Booty
The medical team checks on their patient (OFTEN and Not with the best bedside manner)
After a morning of care by two of the leading physicians at Backyard Vet ER, Otis regained use of his legs, muscle tone and was rehydrated. Otis was cleared for his release into the wild.
Mud Pie Math!
What?! You read it right! Mud. Pie. Math. What’s not to like about playing in the mud? I combined The Kid’s love of Disney movies, parties and mud pies to work on fractions! I pretended to get call after call from his favorite Disney characters with updated RSVPs of how many guests our party would have. In response to the updated RSVP, he had to modify his mud pie to serve the guests. We worked with halves, fourths, sixths, and eighths. We even branched into concepts of 2/8=1/4, 4/8=1/2 and so on. Talk about fun and challenge all in one exciting “task”. When I moved on to practice letter writing with The Red One, The Kid was still begging for more phone calls to update the RSVP count so he could change the pie fractions.
With The Red One, we used his mud cake as a writing surface! He whipped out his “smart finger” or pointer finger and we wrote “A” then traced it. We discussed colors and our sense of smell. Mostly, we focused on building stamina and completing projects from start to finish- these are the proper focus areas for a three year old. What’s most pivotal is building stamina and follow through as these are huge components for long term academic success.
For The Kid and The Red One, we used mud pies and chalk paint for some powerful STEAM play! They created colorful sidewalk murals, read them as stories to each other, then played with the sun to create shadow tracings of their bodies!
Making mud pies lead to a continued discussion on the water cycle and how “sun baking” will change their physical properties over time. So now, as our pies bake in the sun, we have a project on dehydration and water vapor movement. We also added the variable of a physical barrier between the pie and the sun when The Red One put a large mound of grasses over his mud pie. How will these pies “bake” differently?
And just for fun, the guys got to take an outdoor shower in the hose to wash off their hard morning’s mud and chalk play! Later, as they waited for lunch, the guys continued independent reading on our topic of Adventures in Texas with these books: The Black Cowboys by Gina De Angelis and Black Cowboys by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher. Finally, we rounded out the morning with our character building activity of reading and discussing Light as a Feather: 42 Laws of Maat for Children by Kajara NiaYaa NebtHet. This book has great pictures and provides great encouragement to discuss and think about our actions and words with the guideline of the ancient Kemetic principles set forth by the goddess Maat. Both little gentlemen had self-guided revelations of how they could apply a MAAT principle to their own behavior to improve the “weight of their heart”. That was so great to see!
The Winding Road
Peace and good vibrations to all of our wonderful readers that will be following our tips, advice , venting, raving, and bragging about our young seeds. I figured as a new author I should introduce myself by telling a part of my story of how I got to this place of homeschooling and all of my side hustles and ventures.
So I usually go by Lex and I’m generally an artist. The word artist encompasses all of my creative outlets and does not limit me. This was basically my basis for homeschooling my twelve and seven year old moving forward. I simply did not want them limited or boxed in, by sheep-like thinking. I was disappointed with them being labeled and the soul focus on behavior and not their brain power. Also there was an incident of test studies being performed on our children at the middle school without parental consent and that was indeed the last straw.
When I grew up we had wonderful teachers whom were genuinely invested in me, in and outside of school. They had the time and freedom to observe and make plans around their knowledge of individual students and put you in a position to excel if you were ahead of the class. The relationships between teachers and parents was a trusted dynamic, with full communication and disclosure about what was taking place in the class room. Students were not labeled and stamped because it was understood that they were seeds…..and seeds must be placed in the right environment for the most effective and fruitful growth.
However, even within that construct there were many flaws that stifled my growth as an individual and it was because of perspective in the way we as a society view what is correct and incorrect regarding the formula for success. So for my own sons I wanted to empower them using a collective of techniques and range of tools to inspire them to organically become the men they envision, not what I or society see as the fast track to success. It was also important for me to be able to teach them about their ancestral history and the skills that are genetic to who we are as a people. I feel that in order for one to achieve mastery of self you must first know your self, sometimes that alone is such powerful motivation.
For example, a long time ago boys went through an apprenticeship in order to inherit the business from their father. So, if your father was a carpenter you learned to master the skill of carpentry. Now, let’s say within that chain of family someone finally says “No, I’m going to be a sculptor and wisk off to have a career in the arts”. This person still has inherently been influenced by the great carpenters that came before them and most likely has a natural ability in this field. For instance artist are fluent on my paternal side, my father, his mother, her father, and now myself and my son. See? It’s something that should be taught to our youth just to encourage some of the traits and natural qualities that they have inherited from there great ancestors. ( Now everyone has good and bad stories about their families so please just focus on the positive when revisiting this topic with your young royals)
These are just some of the reasons that I chose to homeschool. I also choose the content and teach based on their interest. I want them to blossom in an open field rather than a vase in the window. We also get to travel at will and having more hands-on experiences is something they react to very well.
Now for me personally this has required plenty of adjustments. For starters I had to decide which was more important- my current business and entrepreneurial efforts or my children being in an environment where they can thrive and be all they can be? I evaluated my situation and decided I was in an okay position to focus on them and put the business on a lower priority. I know it may sound crazy, especially to a single mother but my business was starting to over stress me, so I reduced my hours to three days a week and sometimes four if I had clients overflowing. This actually increased my finances because it pushed everyone to specific days and rid me of having slow periods during the week. I also have been able to open myself up to other opportunities such as focusing on my blog sowellgroomed.com and writing for wonderful blogs like Milk Brain. So my college dreams of becoming a Journalist are coming true. If someone would have asked me two years ago what I’d be doing now the answer would not be what my reality is. However I have fully adopted the organic way of living thinking and being. (It’s a beautiful thing!) Guess what, it’s working! I’m happier, my children are happier, and slowly I am seeing them regain confidence that the school system stripped them of.
Meet our New MilkBrain Author: Alexis
Alexis’s Mother and mine met in their late twenties while working in corporate America- we’re talking about late 70’s Texas Corporate America. Two Beautiful Black women became best friends in a time of intense sexism and racist. That is how Alexis and I became cousins and sisters. We have been connected since we were eggs in a basket. She was the one who sat next to me at my childhood birthday parties and blew out my candles proudly. She was the one who I dressed up with, pretending to be the women we are today. And today, she is my partner in homeschooling and Motherhood adventures. She is one of my best friends, my sister-cousin and now she is an Author on this hot mess of a blog, lol. She is a stylist, entrepreneur, and so much more. Just wait to get to know her and love her ❤️
Pic note: The Hubs, Alexis, and my amazing family got together and planned a surprise 90’s Birthday Party/Game Night for my 25th(wink wink) Birthday! This is us at the photo booth!!! Costumes were awesome thanks to her ❤️
“I am Bass Reeves!”
Today, we began our study of Cowboys! We talked about the Wild West and the brave men who tried to keep order. We began with a book about a forgotten hero of the West, US Marshall Bass Reeves. Born enslaved, Bass was a genius with horses, especially animals and a prodigy marksman. He was so amazing that his owner took him to fight by his side in the Civil War. History has it that Bass escaped after a physical altercation with his owner because the fight meant he was destined for death. Living on the run in Native American Territory, he learned many Native American languages, perfected his marksmanship and understanding of the territory. Once “freedom” was the law for all people, Bass came out of the shadows purchased land and with his wife, had 11 children. The area was tough with outlaws threatening homesteads, especially Black owners, incessantly. After being deputized by “The Hanging Judge”, Marshall Bass Reeves had the most impeccably fair and honest career in the west. He was a deputy for 32 years, longer than any other US Marshall. Over his illustrious career, he never took a bribe, only shot 14 men and resorted to gunplay only when his life was threatened. He died with a reputation of being “one of the bravest men this country has ever known” and the “most feared deputy US Marshall that was ever heard of”. Bass Reeves was a hero to millions with a legend that was lost to millions, until now. Inspired children who can see heroes that look like them are empowered and proud to the core. Today, my students were infected with the spirit of US Marshall Bass Reeves, a man who changed the world with little reward. They stood in the mirror with their classic Bass Reeves ‘staches and yelled “I am Bass Reeves!” So proud and so empowered.
The Spontaneous Experience
The magic and beauty of homeschooling is found in Spontaneous Experiences and Excursions! We worked the garden today then went for Tacos. We were driving back home from lunch when we passed a new house under construction. What an opportunity! We made a u-turn and marched through a field to get to the site. The boys were amazed! It gave us an opportunity to discuss wood, where wood comes from, and safety using tools on on the job. Given our new departure into using hammers and screwdrivers, it was a perfect experience to show a real world application of the skills they are building. Check out our Spontaneous Excursion of the day:
MilkBrain is evolving and expanding!
There are times in your life that alter your definition of who you are, times that make you dig deeper and discover a You that you’ve never met before. Motherhood is one of those moments. It’s not the only such life moment, but it is one of them.
I recall laboring for 5 days, only allowing my superman husband to comfort me. I remember the surprise of the mysteries of labor and birth unfolding. I had a room full of candles, a birth statue given to me by Latina (I LOVE HER), a full Birth Plan, a Doula, and a Birthing Center waiting for me. I recall the shock of being told I had to have a cesarean. I didn’t even pack or prepare for the possibility of a cesarean. NOT ME, NOT US! We took every class available to expecting parents in New York City. I watched The Business of Being Born. My body and my birth belonged to me.
So, I certainly didn’t handle it well when I was told to have one of these procedures to meet my son. My reaction was more in-line with being told I was going to die a slow death (so dramatic…typical me). Part of the shock was fear of the unknown, for sure. But another part was the feeling of distrust for medical staff and my fear of “not really giving birth like a real Mom”. It took me a couple weeks to forgive myself. I had exchanged the candle-lit, peaceful music-filled birth I desired most, for a sterile, invasive, drug-riddled surgery. I truly thought there was shame in it. I carried it like a bag of bricks for days.
Nobody told me that breastfeeding could feel like a pencil sharpener grinding your nipple. It did for me. We consulted La Leche League, hired Lactation Consultants and traveled on icy roads to a Lactation Center. This was an obstacle that colored those first weeks. We powered through it and breastfeeding became the comforting, beautiful experience I wanted.
Being born in the winter, we spent so many weeks indoors with our newborn, isolated from the world. HEY! IT WASN’T ALL BAD, Y’ALL!! LOL! I started with that reality because it is the part of Motherhood that no one likes to talk about. All the stress and pain aside, it was a deeply beautiful time. I felt more in love with my Husband than I had for our 8 years together. And The Kid? The Hubs and I couldn’t believe this miracle before us. So tiny yet so strong.
Finally, The Kid was old enough to go outside and do classes. In doing so, I got to meet other new Moms! I heard all the ways that women enter into Motherhood. New Mothers were so open and willing to talk about their labor. It was cathartic. It was a sisterhood in many ways. No matter HOW the babies joined the families, be it adoption, surrogacy, c-section or drug-free natural birth, these Women became Mothers. And in sharing our stories, I saw that love was the common thread. It uplifted me. It refocused me. It empowered me. I realized there is incredible power in finding yourself in the experience of others. When I finally opened up and talked about my pain, my fears, my happiness and my successes, I found out that I wasn’t alone! I found strength in all of it. This is why MilkBrain is important to me. I want other Moms to feel supported. No one should feel alone.
Motherhood is a rollercoaster and you’re never alone for the ride. There’s always another Mom who has been through something similar if not the same. For this reason, MilkBrain is evolving. Even though this blog is a newborn, I can see the power in expanding the MilkBrain voice to include other Mothers. I have invited Moms from all over the country to contribute their stories of victory, failure, joy, and sadness. I hope that you find a needed laugh, a smile and a virtual hug that tells you, “You’re doing fine! Better than fine!”
We do extreme things to keep ourselves, our children and our families happy. We are hard on ourselves. We are Superwomen. MilkBrain is a place we can roar, laugh, cry and find ourselves in the stories and thoughts of other Moms.
I hope you enjoy these amazing Moms as much as I do. We are imperfect and what could be more perfect than that?! Now, excuse me while I go determine if the brown stuff on the light switch is poo or …dammit, I know it’s poo. Stay tuned to MilkBrain!
Yes we live in an area with good to great schools. But for many reasons (we can discuss later), my husband and I have chosen to unschool-world school-homeschool. Focusing on building resourcefulness, responsibility, respect for self and others and resilience are most important for early education. Having a foundation in these principles prepares you to meet obstacles with confidence and equips you to innovate solutions. So today, we talked about living and non living things, weeds vs other plants and weeded our garden. In using our hands, we empower learning on the child’s level and increase the impact through experience. We found snails, thorny vines and discovered roots and other plant anatomy. Through play, we expanded vocabulary and skills to care for our world and our home. We also learned that weeds have important uses like teas, medicine and butterly food. We ate peppermint from the garden, which was in itself becoming a weed as it grew rapidly in areas where it was unwanted.
We topped off our morning by using tools! We used 4 oz hammers to drive nails into heavy duty boxes. We then used the hammers to extract those nails. What a busy morning learning that our world and our bodies are amazing.