What do you get when you have a piece of cuddly fleece, some matching crochet thread, and a quilt top that was packed away in storage? Hopefully, you end up with a lovely quilt gift or charity quilt for someone near and dear to your heart.
Something like this, perhaps. This is how it all turned out. The tutorial has been submitted to Molly Green Magazine, and I will link to it here as soon as it becomes available, just in case someone would like to see it.
That’s the idea behind the website for the National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. Every year, in November, people embark on a journey to outline and write a complete draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days!
It is an exercise in pure, literary abandon.
And it is an absolutely intriguing idea. I think this might even be the year that I buckle down and give it a shot. I am more of an essayist (and poet) than a novelist, but shouldn’t every writer set out at least once to write the “Great American Novel?” And while I am not planning to come to the level of The Great Gatsby (in my view, the quintessential, Great American Novel), it will be interesting to see if I have it in me to handle plot, characterization, and setting. There is a reason I gravitated toward poetry and not short stories. I do strong images. Nothing very much happens during that strong, captured, moment-in-time, image.
Every book I have ever considered working on (and one that was partially written and lost during a horrible computer crash with no back up) was some sort of either non-fiction (big ol’ research paper, if you will) or personal essay piece. Never once have I (the lover of all things prose) ever undertaken to write fiction.
But, why not? The worst thing that can happen? I enjoy writing as a hobby and have a completed (albeit of questionable quality) novel. I can say I did it. Maybe, just maybe, it will be editable into something worth sharing. Maybe not. It hasn’t cost me a dime and I will have gotten to rise to a new challenge in my writing skills.
I first learned of NaNoWriMo from Patrice Lewis’ blog, Rural Revolution. She and at least one of her daughters have done it before and found the challenge to be a good one. I wonder if I could get younger son to do it with me this year. He might be more apt if it were writing a screenplay rather than a novel.
I think this is a wonderful idea for homeschool students, creative teens and all those who have a story to tell in their hearts. If you love to read, then you likely have absorbed enough good writing skills over the years to make this a reality for you. Write a book that you would like to read.
Check out the website for NaNoWriMo. They have loads of good stuff there including some good books to get you prepared for your journey. I bet you could find some of them in your local library to save a little money, too.
So whaddaya say? Wanna write a novel this November?
Hello all! Today, I am over at the Molly Green blog with my new article all about canning fresh tomato salsa (even when you are out of fresh tomatoes). My family thinks my salsa is the best and I hope your family will enjoy it also.
If you like this article, you may want to check out a FREE issue of Molly Green Magazine here. It’s a limited time offer. This is the magazine all about the home: HOME Industry, HOMEkeeping, HOMEsteading, HOMEschooling. Always great articles to be found. With a paid subscription, you get access to a FREE store to sell your HOMEmade goods. It’s a great deal!
A couple of weeks ago, I received a comment from a reader asking about the “how to’s” of getting started. Wish I could have gotten this article published a bit sooner, but perhaps it will help someone that is starting out.
To start with, a lot depends on the age(s) of your kiddos. Younger kids will need different types of materials and parental instruction than older kids will. Have the children been in school prior to your starting to homeschool? If so, that will shape both your and your child or children’s expectations going into this new adventure. Do any of your children have any identified learning deficits or excel in certain areas? That will help you to gauge how much information will be covered at each lesson. A child struggling in an area will often move a bit more cautiously through material and may not enjoy it. A child who has a particular interest in or who excels in a certain subject will consume great amount of information each day with joy. Neither situation are bad, they just help you to be mindful not to go too fast in some areas or too slow in others. Let your child guide the way.
Read, read, read! Read everything you can find at first about homeschooling. You will want to try different ideas and curriculums. It can even seem overwhelming. Just relax and try one new thing per year. If you purchase a curriculum, use it. Don’t try it for a week and toss it aside for something else. Keep it simple on both yourself and your child. Especially if you are starting with an older child, bear in mind that your new curriculum may have covered information in previous years that your child didn’t cover in school yet. Be patient with both of you and just go slowly. Just about anything you need to brush up on can be found by doing a simple Google search.
I am by no means an expert in homeschooling, but my sons (one gifted and one LD) have made it through high school with plans for the future under my guidance. So, while I can’t tell you exactly what will work in your family with your unique situation and children, I will share a few things that worked well for me and a few things that I wish I had done to improve our homeschooling experience.
Things that worked for us:
Read alouds–all kids love to be read to. Some auditory learners need to hear the material in order to fully comprehend it. Biographies and stories can make great family time before bedtime.
Talking about real happenings in the world. Current events can create good discussion topics. Let your children form their own opinions, even if they are questionable. Encourage logical thinking and give them ideas to think about. Before you know it, your child will have strong, reasoned opinions to be proud of.
Field trips, even those through Boy Scouting or church activities aided in my kiddos curiosity and their knowledge of the world around them.
Encouraging time spent outside in both structured and unstructured activities. We did everything from Boy Scout camping, hiking, and rappelling to berry picking, horseback riding, and assisting at a bird banding station. In fact, these trips encouraged one son to desire a career with horses and the other son to begin apprenticing for his Federal bird banding license.
Keep it interesting and fun (unit studies are great in middle school). Read alouds can just happen to cover similar topics as your unit studies. Field trips can be tailored to the subjects currently taught as well. Sometimes, current events can spark a little historical or geographical debate. Learning can’t be in a vacuum. It must be out in the open so that kids can see that it actually applies to real life.
Letting the kids see that we are lifelong learners. Hubby and I discussed books and blogs we read in front of the kids and as they got older, shared some with them. They saw us learn how to do things like build raised garden beds, can food properly, or fix the car. It takes away a lot of excuses that start with, “but we will never really NEED to know these things.” Learning is expected as a part of life, not a punishment.
Getting our kids involved at church, through volunteering, and in Scouting to gain social skills, leadership skills and just to make friends. It’s that socialization thing that people will always ask you about!
Things I wish I had done better:
Keep to a schedule. Some days my dislike of early mornings didn’t help my kiddos get up and started as well as I would have liked. They took their cues from me and I wasn’t consistent. Pick a starting time and stick with it. Even if it is noon. Things just feel less frantic that way.
More field trips. You just can’t have enough. They don’t have to be elaborate.
More “homestead” type skills. Home Economics is a good thing, but I wish I had been a bit less “college minded” and encouraged a bit more building things, making forts, planting things together. My kids can do laundry and cook, but still need to learn more skills (don’t we all?).
Encouraged my kids to write for fun. We wrote lots of essays and we read loads, but I actively encouraged reading for fun. I wish I had heard of National Novel Writing Month earlier. That would have been fun to do with my kids. And now that one of my kids is learning to write screenplays, it would have been helpful. I strongly encourage everyone to try it with their kids. Who cares if it doesn’t get published? Express yourself. We all have to communicate in life and the more ways you learn to do it, the better.
In the same vein, encourage younger kids to submit essays to various writing contests around your state and the blogosphere. In Georgia, there is a Fire Safety Essay contest each year that any student can enter. Sometimes, you get some praise and an award. Sometimes you don’t. It can be fun either way. Make a collection of your kids writings and drawings and publish them up for grandparents for Christmas. It’s totally good stuff!
I wasn’t great about taking “back to school” pictures and I wish that I had been more consistent.
Some tips for every parent:
Don’t ever say, “It’s too hard” that just gives kids a reason not to try. This is the single biggest mistake that I have heard over and over among homeschoolers who are working with older kids. It doesn’t matter if you liked the subject in school. It doesn’t matter if you thought it was too hard as a kid. What matters is that you give your child every opportunity to master the information and to be good at it. Don’t put your negative ideas on your child. He or she may love that subject if you give them a chance! Hire a tutor to teach it for you or use an online program if you must, but if your children hear you complaining about the subject and about teaching them, don’t be surprised if their overall work ethic may suffer.
Don’t give up! Every child is different. Every child will take a slightly (or extremely) different path from others. That’s okay. In fact, that is the way this is supposed to work. Homeschooling (like life) is messy and full of ups and downs, but you keep on going. It’s a life lesson for your kids as well as a way to show them that they are valuable and loved. Don’t get mired down in the comparison game. Celebrate each success.
You can’t give enough hugs, kisses, pats on the shoulder or praise! Give freely of the happy emotions and let them bubble up through your children. Put the good grades papers on display in your home. Frame some drawings and finger paintings.
Let go of anxiety and preconceived notions of how to educate children and enjoy your kids. Time passes so quickly. You will never regret spending happy times with your kids.
What is your favorite homeschooling advice? Please share it in the comments.
It is difficult to be pleased with the state of Animal Rehabilitation in our state these days. Saturday, we came into possession of 3 baby squirrels that had been abandoned by their mother. We contacted every Rehab facility within an hour and a half of our home to find appropriate care for these babies.
Of all of these, only one responded by email. It told us that we were not as able to care for squirrels as a Mama Squirrel (no kidding) and that they were full, so contact the nearest rehab center. Unfortunately, they were the nearest center and that left us with little help. The Georgia DNR website indicated that all facilities were overrun with baby squirrels right now. Great.
Ideally, wildlife doesn’t need human help or intervention. We totally understand that. It was never our intention to do anything other than try to reunite babies with their mama or a trained and appropriate caregiver.
Apparently, in the absence of a trained, qualified Animal Rehabilitation Specialist, one simply should do (per state law) nothing. Just let them die, I suppose. That didn’t feel right to me.
Fortunately, hubby got a call through to a friend at Atlanta Audubon who happens to be a Rehabber. Unfortunately, she was out of town, but she obviously didn’t think that these babies didn’t deserve care and gave us instructions as to exactly what she would do.
And that gave us a great deal of hope for these 3 little squirrels.
We immediately followed her initial instructions and put them in a basket, affixed to a tree at the same level that the original nest was at with high hopes that the mother squirrel would return to care for her young. But, she didn’t return in enough time to keep the babies from being weak and dehydrated.
In a highly technical sense, this makes us criminals. But, isn’t it more likely that the criminal offense is in not having enough people available to help these little ones when they are in need? Actually, I don’t feel very criminal at all in that our friend told us to feed and care for them. And she is a professional.
So, we have been feeding, keeping warm, and cleaning these poor little critters. Night time feedings were definitely not what I had planned to do with my sleep hours, but tiny tummies need to be kept warm and full of quality food.
The kiddos help out with the warming while we feed and are amazingly gentle and protective over them. It makes me proud that they are kind to even the littlest of creatures. I grow even prouder when they don’t stop being kind when being pooped and peed on. It’s a lot like being a parent, sometimes!
By our best estimate, these squirrels are just between 4 and 5 weeks old. So, in 6 to 7 weeks, they will be released into our back yard, very near to where they were found.
I choose to believe that no act of kindness is ever wasted and this one is worth every moment. So, we will forever put some squirrel food out and hope to catch a glimpse of our three baby squirrels.
Addendum: The day after I wrote this post, we did receive a call from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. They did ultimately take our baby squirrels and are raising them along with several other babies that were orphaned. Ultimately, they will receive appropriate vet care and be released on their 500+ acre property where hunting is forbidden. We seriously miss them, but will be able to visit them often in their new home this fall. While a part of me would like to have raised them myself, I know that they are better cared for by a staff that is trained to get them prepared to be released back into