Thursday, July 10, 2014

Homeschool Classes - Fall 2014

When it became apparent that I needed a way to contribute a bit more to our family's bottom line, I pondered, contemplated, mulled over and meditated on what I could do that would fit into my busy schedule. During this time, I found myself in the middle of teaching a class on Andy Warhol and Pop Art to a great group of kids for my homeschool coop. And the light bulb went off! I was already doing the thing that could help with the bottom line... I just needed to rethink it as a business and not just as a coop offering.

With the incredibly unoriginal name HeatherAnne's Homeschool Classes, I am launching my new venture. I'm taking it pretty light this fall with offerings in art and music theory. I will also be taking on a few private piano students. Please take a moment to check out my offerings for fall! And feel free to suggest something! In addition to art and music, I also love teaching math and science and have a law degree. (I'm already thinking of either a high school moot court or Bill of Rights class for the spring).

You can see the fall class offerings at the following link or by clicking on the "Homeschool Classes" tab just under the blog's home page banner.

Monday, June 16, 2014

So what is Forest School?

The first time I ever heard of Forest School was from the following Ted Talk about hackschooling.

The name sounds AWESOME, right? What's not to love about something called Forest School... even though I had no idea what it was. The Wikipedia article was not all that helpful and is only really helpful if you live in the UK. And in reality, none of these definitions came to be what our Forest School is like. Every Forest School is different as defined by the varied locales and the individuals who attend. My most promising lead was from my friend Jerritt, who attended Forest School with her kids!... and lives half a country away. So it became evident that if I wanted the Forest School experience for my kids, I was going to have to create it myself.

So then, what is Forest School? It is fun, it is educational, it is freedom to explore, it is turning nature into a self-guided classroom, it is wet, and it is often muddy. The first step to starting a Forest School is to find the right forest. Wild, but maybe not too wild and relatively conveniently located since the idea is to visit the same place year round at least once a month but possibly more often. While many excellent choices were around the KC Metro, since I was going to be the "leader" of this muddy band of nature lovers, I chose a location close to me. The park where we go has a rocky bottomed creek, bluffs full of fun rocks to climb on and lots of beautiful green... all behind a park with ample parking and a play ground. The nature area is hemmed in by the park, a neighborhood and two streets so the kids can safely roam without getting lost. The creek always leads back to where the adults are. On the other hand, when you are in the creek bottom chasing tadpoles, those "civilized" spaces might as well be miles away for they are not intrusive to the peace of the nature area at all. 

We go year round... every second Tuesday and any (bonus) fifth Tuesdays. Rain or shine or snow. (We do skip dangerous weather). Because the creek is in a small dip (it's not really deep enough to be a valley), the temperature there is often warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and the winds aren't as strong. Once there, the kids just... go. They play. They explore. They swim (even when it's 60 degrees out and the water has only just thawed). They get muddy. They get SOAKED. No agenda, no curriculum, no lesson plan. Nature teaches them. And even the most screen-obsessed kid jumps in with both feet, literally and figuratively. It's a beautiful thing. There are no rules (though parents are encouraged to require a buddy system of exploration). Every family lets their kids explore with the supervision with which they are comfortable. If I have an interested audience, I'll point out different plants and explain their medicinal and culinary uses. But mostly, it's all kid lead exploration. And in a couple hours, worn out and wet, we'll ascend from the creek bed reconnected a bit to nature and to ourselves. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lorde - "Royals" Parody | Kansas City "Royals"

LOVE LOVE! Especially entertaining when you know that Lorde was influenced by a picture of Kansas City Royal's legend George Brett when she wrote her song.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Shop my AVON store!

Shop my AVON store!: Here's a sneak peak at some of the latest products available at Avon. Be sure to click.

My Avon lady retired so, naturally, I just started selling Avon myself when I have trouble finding a replacement Avon lady. :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Easter Basket Ideas

I really try to avoid useless tchotchkes as much as possible when gift buying for my kids. I realize this is an idealistic concept and we still wind up with Happy Meal toys, dollar store toys, thrift store toys, yard sale toys, etc. In terms of toy store toys, I have mostly succeeded at having the kids pick out a few main categories of toys and sticking to them. Legos and My Little Pony, for instance, are held in sizable collections in this house, but we don't add a new "series" with every La La Loopsy or Littlest Pet Shop that crosses our path.

Sticking to a few collections for each kid makes holiday shopping much easier, but when it comes time for an Easter basket, it's fun to FILL, FILL, FILL those big baskets. You don't have to fill them with future clutter though. Here are some ideas to help you fill those baskets with more thought and value and less cheap junk.

1) Sandals or Flip Flops - Easter is around the start of spring and, if your winter has been like ours, your (and your kids') definition of sandal weather will certainly have loosened greatly from the first cold days of last autumn. 

2) Gardening Tools - My kids LOVE to help me in the garden and I love to have them, but I'm not a big fan of my favorite tools getting lost or left out in the elements. 

3) Reusable Water Bottles - We all know disposable plastic water bottles are NOT great for the environment or our pocket books. Invest in some BPA-free plastic or stainless steel bottles so you can be earth friendly and economical on the go.  

4) Kites - It's time! Might as well make some good use of the strong spring winds. 

5) Art Supplies - One can never have too many art supplies. A fresh box of crayons or colored pencils with some fun new coloring books can make for a lovely spring day outside in the sun.

6) Books & DVDs - Books are always a winner in our house. Disney's hottest new flick is also winging its way to us following its March 18th DVD release... now whether or not it MAKES it to Easter for a basket gift is another story. Maybe you'll be better at waiting than I likely will. 

7) Fun Band-Aids... with no rules attached. My kids both love to use band-aids with abandon, but I usually put the kibosh on emptying out the First Aid stash for doctoring their stuffed animals. Their own box of fun designs can be quite thrilling. 

8) Bubble Bath - This is something we buy anyway but for a special occasion like this, I am more likely to spring for the Hello Kitty bottle and not just what is cheapest. 

9) While we're on bubbles... Bubbles - Warmer weather and windy days make for perfect conditions to warm up those bubble blowing lips that have been hibernating all winter. 

10) Sunblock - This one may not be as much fun but it is necessary, especially as warmer days mean more time in the sun. Add some fun colored zinc sunblock and the boring bottle won't be noticed quite as much. 

11) Sunglasses - Most adults wouldn't dare leave the house without their shades and yet our kids do it all the time. Sunglasses aren't just for the comfort of keeping the glare out of our eyes... they are very important to eye health

12) Coupon for a Date with Mom and/or Dad - Experiences are the best gifts of all. Movie tickets, skate rink passes, a painting or photography class... the ideas are endless. Check out deal sites like Groupon for date night deals to spend with your kids. 

Notice I didn't list candy at all. I'm not a Scrooge... my kids will get some candy. But with a basket filled of so many other FUN things, there isn't much room left for loading it with sugar. I'll spend my money on better quality, fair trade chocolate, rather than loading up on bags and bags of generic jelly beans and chocolate eggs.  

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Easter doesn't have to be another holiday filled with plastic junk. With a little thought and no more money than a pre-made basket, you can make a wonderful basket for your kids. I hope you have fun creating a one-of-a-kind surprise for your children.