Setting goals is a KEY component in our homeschool. Homeschooling is our life – everything we do is educational – really. Think about your own life, you do it too whether you homeschool, unschool, send you kids to private/public schools or some random combination of each of these educational philosophies… as humans every experience we have is one of learning… so at the end of the year, society joins in and makes goal setting (what is commonly called making a resolution) the ‘thing’ to do. GREAT – let’s do it!!!

I like to pick a word, or a short phrase as the foundation for my goal…

I struggled this year – honestly – I was dreaming of words and rolling over sleepless. What if I can’t think of one that is truly meaningful to me??? I really LOVE my attitude of Gratitude and the appreciation for little things that I have focused on in the past. I don’t want to let go of those… and POOF – it hit me. Making a new goal does not in anyway mean I have to stop living/fulfilling my past goals. Sometimes I can’t see the forest through the trees. I get trapped by over-thinking things. shh – don’t tell my husband 🙂

so here it is, my goal for 2012:


 I will keep my attitude of Gratitude from 2010 and my appreciation for the little things from 2011.

 Gratitude + Little Little Things = Contentment.

Happy new year – thank you for being part of my life!

Your Best Work

believe in encouraging kids – we all do. I also firmly believe in self assessment and self evaluation. That’s why For every assignment I give both at home and in my school classroom I say – do your best work. They are starting to listen and UNDERSTAND….

Today – a 6th grader (So I began his training last year)and I had this conversation about an in class book report project. I laid out brown bags, construction paper, egg cartons, empty tissue boxes, tp tubes, craft sticks… you get the idea. The students were to create WHATEVER they wanted from the supplies. This allowed them to be creative without any background influences from parents who like to do book report projects 🙂Mrs Gandara…

Yes LoveBug…

I am totally so proud of this zombiekins I made. It turned out so awesome. (two tissue boxes and construction paper)

Why are you so Proud LoveBug?

Because Mrs. Gandara (In a loud voice) This is MY BEST WORK.

And how does it feel Sweetie to KNOW this is your best work –

Awesomer than Awesome!

And I tell him – I want you to feel that way whenever you turn ANYTHING in…. think about that.

He just grinned.

Needless to say He dragged his mom in after school to see it – that’s what happens NATURALLY when kids create without “help”

– as helpful as we think our help is…

I like to suggest to helpful parents, Homeschool Teachers as well as Classroom teachers…

Lay off the “requirements” – take a break and see what amazing things kids can do 🙂

So how EXACTLY do you do it….

I can’t tell you how many times I get that question. Or, it’s just the opposite. People assume because I am a teacher homeschooling was a natural choice… but you see I run my classroom and my home school very differently… I’m not here to tell you my way is better. No way! I’m just here to tell you my way – to share and give you ideas about how I do it, what works for my family.

Inspiration for my 2011 Resoultions

This entry first appeared on TommyMom – a blog I follow regularly – as it inspires and uplifts my homeseducating journey – and while it does pertain to homeeducating there is oh so much there that just helps with LIFE… I do hope you will visit TommyMom for yourself… in the mean time I’d like to share with you the most recent post that has changed my life for the better…inspiring my resolutions for 2011 (more on those another day)

Text I have changed to red is my own emphasis and inspirational parts… below find the original post:

Make a List, Check it Twice by Oliver DeMille
December 8th, 2010
This is a tremendous read. It is lengthy…but oh, so worth it. It is my hope that you will read it thoroughly, as the message is timely and oh-so-appropriate.

Be sure to visit tjed.org and oliverdemille.com for offerings of further information and writings.

The Parable of the Fisherman
The story is told of a small boat owner whose business consists of taking wealthy tourists out on day-long fishing expeditions in his boat. He loves the ocean, the sky, the relaxed activity of fishing, and meeting new and interesting people each day. Near the end of one such happy day his happy client, an accomplished businessman, tells him that he should get another boat, double his income, and eventually grow his business into several boats.

“Why would I want to do that?” he asks. The businessman replies: “So you can make a lot more money!” “Why would I want to make a lot more money—especially since with all those boats I’d have to hire and train and supervise other tour guides, run a payroll and manage a thousand other details?” the boat owner inquires. “Well, that’s how you grow your business,” the executive says.

Mining for Diamonds
“Why would I want to grow my business?” the man persists. A little exasperated, the business leader explains: “Then you can invest, earn a lot of money, and have the freedom to do what you want!” The client’s words hang in the air as he finally absorbs the obvious truth. The small entrepreneur smiles and says, “That is what I already do every day.”

Find the Diamonds Hidden Throughout Your Home
I don’t remember where I read this great story, but it teaches one of the key elements of getting a truly quality education. (By the way: If anyone knows the original source of this story, please send it to me so I can give credit where it is due.) Indeed, there are a number of great classics that teach variations on the same principle.

The Acres of Diamonds story, for example, illustrates how many of us spend our whole life searching for something just to discover that it was right there all along in our own back yard.C.S. expanded on this theme in his classic essay, “The Inner Ring” (found in The Weight of Glory), where he teaches that too many people waste their lives and energies trying to impress others instead of just truly becoming their best selves and serving the world.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn rejects the modern United States as the model for downtrodden Russia’s future because he says we’ve chosen legalism over morality (“is it legal?” substitutes in our corporate and public life for “is it right?” or “is it good?”) and also adopted the false belief that material things are the source of happiness (rather than spirituality or relationships).
Gandhi championed this same ideal, as he reportedly said, “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Buddha summed it up with: “Our mission in life is to find our mission in life, and then to give our whole heart and soul to it.”
Shakespeare, Austen, Tolstoy and many others wrote about overextending our lives in search of things that don’t matter while neglecting the core things close to home that matter greatly.Socrates had already addressed such folly, and how prevalent it is among humans.
John Adams suggested that people are so worried about what others think of them that they’re almost constantly distracted from what really matters in their lives.
It was Jesus who suggested to Martha that she was “troubled about many things” and recommended that instead she choose “the better part”.

In search of….?
But back to the small fishing-boat entrepreneur: How many of us have all the elements of a truly ideal life available to us right in our homes—but fail to notice because we are consistently in search of … something … else?

What if you couldn’t have anything more/different than you do right now? Would you be happy? Could you be? Or more to the point, how would you alter your approach so that what you have right now would make you the happiest person alive? Is there any chance that everything you need to live your dream life is right there in your home and family right now?
Is “More” the Opposite of “Better”?
TJEd is all about classics, but I think too often we moderns (and maybe humans have always been this way) tend to reform the classic lessons in our own image. The truth is that the classics are profound and multi-layered—which means that if we go to them seeking a certain thing, we’ll most likely find it.

If we want to justify our current choices, the classics can supply examples. If we want to make a change for the better in our lives, the classics are full of suggestions and help. If we just want some entertainment, the classics oblige our desires. Like profound poetry, the classics can teach us on many levels.

That said: There is another way to read the classics. We can search them for direction that we need right now to greatly improve our lives. And very often such guidance leads us not to do more, take on new projects, or expand our already full days with additional, albeit novel, ventures or schemes—but rather to do the little things better.

Do the little things better. That’s quite a concept. And it’s often a hard one to grasp. As if we were like the Hindu deities with four legs or six arms, we human beings tend to see ourselves as constantly needing to run faster and do more. What if we actually need to slow down and do less?

Mommy, will you read to me?
What if our four-year-old daughter really does need us to read to her more, to put our lives in a place where her daily requests to read her a story or play “Uno” with her aren’t an interruption—but a hopeful foreshadowing of budding love of learning?

We worry so much about how to get our kids a quality education; then when she comes begging to be taught we tell her, “Not now, honey; I’ve got to finish this project. Maybe later.” We read books and attend seminars, follow blogs and converse on online forums, trying to learn how to inspire our kids to learn and study; then when she asks for our time to play a game full of mathematical lessons we repeat our ready mantra: “Maybe later.”

How many “Maybe laters” are you up to now? What would it take to catch up on lost opportunities? The problem is, if we work out a plan to catch up and then tell her how it’s going to be, it turns out she really isn’t interested. She just wants one story at a time, read over three times right now; and then she wants to go do something else. When we miss out on that daily request, we missed it. Period. Done. Over.
It might come again some other day, but there are no make-ups of the day that is passed. The diamonds are in our own back yard, if we would only take notice.

The New and Exciting Can Wait
Too often we moderns are like the children in The Cat in the Hat. We are so bummed out by the rain that all we do in our search for the new and exciting is invite mischief and turmoil in our lives. We could embrace the rain and enjoy the overcast day for what it brings to us. Many tribal cultures, for example, believe that the purpose of a rainy day is different than the purpose of a sunny day. In Western society we want to flip a light switch and turn night into day at will, without ever thinking that each has a distinct purpose designed for our happiness and well-being.

Pollyanna had it right. Whatever came, she played “The Glad Game.” She chose to assume that everything we experience is here with the purpose of making us happy, and when a challenging event came she set her mind to figuring out all the happy things it signified. We could add this to our list of lessons from the parables of diamonds and fishing boats.

This is more than just making lemonade out of lemons, however. It is about discovering how much we genuinely, sincerely and deeply love lemonade. It is about embracing the best things in our life, of fully basking in what is right under our noses. It is about getting up from the computer after you read this, walking to a mirror, looking yourself squarely in the eyes and saying, “I am happy right now. I don’t need all the bells and whistles. There is so much more I can do to be great at the little things in my life. I’m starting right now.”
Little things….
The little things include your four-year-old daughter and the eleven-year-old son. The little things include the sixteen-year-old daughter, the spouse who needs a little more attention in the form of a long foot rub, and that book on the shelf that you just haven’t been able to start yet. The little things include…well, all sorts of things. But each of them is close. Each is right in front of you. Right in your home, probably, and deeply in need of your attention.

Too often we don’t notice the little things because they are little, and because so often they aren’t squeaky wheels. We just let them go because we are so busy, then we feel unfulfilled and seek for something to fill the gap. We end up trying to fill that empty feeling in so many ways, while the real need is too often ignored simply because it is so close, so familiar, so contentedly and trustingly set aside for a while—again.

Making a List, Checking it Twice
What are the little things right now in your life? What are those little things that so need your interest, your awareness, your consideration? Whatever they are, they are your acres of diamonds. They are your dream life just waiting to happen. They are the real you just waiting to blossom.

A recent article I read humorously suggested that no real man should ever use the word “blossom,” but I disagree. The “little things” focus is just as important for men as it is for women. Wives and mothers, consider forwarding or printing this for the men in your life. It is not inaccurate to say that real men are the ones who master the little things. That’s what C.S. Lewis concluded in “The Inner Ring” and “Men Without Chests.”

So once again, what are those little things in your life that need you? Make a list. Check it twice. Such a list is your blueprint to success in the days and weeks ahead. I recommend a New Year’s resolution, but with a TJEd twist: List the little things that most need you right now, and resolve to accomplish them before the new year. Before January 1. At least some of them—the right ones. They’re little things, after all. You can do this.

If you’re struggling to come up with a list of little things, try reviewing the 55 ingredients in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning. Nearly all 55 are little things that can make a huge difference.

One of my Core classics teaches that out of small things, great things come. The challenge is to recognize and do the small things before their time is past and gone. A great modern classic states: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–and it’s all small stuff.” I agree; don’t sweat it. But do list the little things in your life that need you and give them the positive attention they truly deserve!

Pass on the good things.

A Hole in Your Heart
In a modern holiday movie, a character tells the story of a tribal medicine man who can’t sleep because he feels he has a hole in his heart. He ponders on what is needed and what is missing, and comes to the realization that his modern tribe has lost the art of carving totem poles. This is a little thing, perhaps, but he sets out to carve a totem pole. He has never been taught how to do this, has never seen it done, so it takes him five years. But when it is done and erected, the “hole in his heart” is healed.

What are the holes in your heart? If they are big, the way to heal them is likely by dealing with the little things. Perhaps there is a lost art that wasn’t passed down to you that you must resurrect for your sake and the sake of your tribe. If you have little holes in your heart, they may be a clue on where to focus. The power is in the little things.

Find the little things in your life, the things too small to demand your urgent attention, the ones that too often go undone because they are so easy to dismiss. That’s where your power is. That’s the “tipping point” in your life. List them. Do them. Watch your life drastically change.

There is so much about your life and home that is exactly your dream life. The rest…well, the rest will be fixed by taking on the little things. Especially in relationships. We live in a world where the false mantra of “bigger is better” has become a dogma, and all too often we live our lives in search of more. More money, more recognition, more accomplishment. But what about more happiness? “More” has become the enemy of “Better,” and it is in being better in the little things that happiness is found.

Little things
Thomas Jefferson set the example by walking. This was a little thing, but he felt that a daily walk in the woods made all the difference in his ability to succeed in the various responsibilities in his life. The little things matter. TJEd, for example, is all about the little things. All Seven Keys are actually little things, nuanced approaches to education that change everything.

In a speech a few years ago I suggested that an Eighth Key of Great Teaching is “Secure, not Stressed.” Nothing makes us more secure than to do better in the little things.

Consider taking a few moments to list the “little” things in your life that you need to do, or do better. Give yourself permission to lay aside what you should so you can follow through on your new list and do it. This is a key to success and happiness—just to do the little things, a little better. A little today. A little tomorrow. Now that’s leadership. That’s TJEd.

Classic –

I have no idea if these are really something Bill Gates said – so Mr. Gates I apologise – they are however classic… and big reasons that keep me so involved with my children’s education. I realize not everyone can or desires to homeschool – regardless of the educational choice, these are great values to instill in our kids – and as parents, we have the responsibility to do it. so here I share with you on this fine Monday:

Love him or hate him , he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1 : Life is not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 : If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault , so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

The Leprechaun Trap…

It all started in 2008 while Daddy was off driving the country… we heard a story about leprechauns and their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… the legend said if you were able to catch a leprechaun, he would trade his freedom for his pot of gold. If we were able to get that pot of Gold, Daddy could come home and not have to work away from his family so we gave it a try…

2008 produced no leprechaun, but he left some treats…and in 2009 although we did not nearly have a pot of Gold Daddy was home working a new job…and Daddy helped build the trap…
No leprechaun in 2009 either.
So this year we bring out the big ideas… we started with a DEEP box…the bugs painted it to look like a flowerpot (you can’t exactly leave it looking like a trap can you??)
Daddy built a ramp going up the side so the leprechaun would naturally explore…

We covered the open top with silk flowers so it would look like a garden…

Lauren added this cupcake and note to the path… see the gold flakes (just dried paint peeled from a plastic lid) – those were to lure the leprechaun up to the top…

The Trap… grass painted along the bottom…

Now the real trick was getting the leprechaun to walk over the tissue paper ‘garden’ so we needed more bait… each bug placed a rock, painted like a gold nugget at the far end of the ‘garden’. The leprechaun would need to walk across one thin sheet of tissue paper to get thise ‘gold’ nuggets – instead he would drop through the tissue paper and be TRAPPED!

Here each bug carefully places their ‘gold’ nugget.

We left the, um… flower pot… out on the table on the Eve of St. Patrick’s Day…

this morning we awoke with anticipation –

SURE we were going to have a leprechaun and be RICH beyond our wildest DREAMS…

We wake up to this…

A chair on top of the table, The trap torn, the holiday tree tossed aside…

My office chair flung onto the floor…

The couch fliped over and all the bottles of paint on the floor…

Ut oh!!!!!!!

Inside the trap… not leprechaun, but M&M’s, fallen flowers, the … ahem, gold nuggets…and a NOTE!

I don’t think the leprechaun was too happy with the paper cupcake…

…so 2010 does not produce a leprechaun either. Darn.

He did leave us this cute hat we can use as a topper for our Holiday tree!!!

What do I need a pot of gold for anyway??? With three clever kids, a hardworking, loving husband and a roof over our heads – we are rich beyond our wildest dreams!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

The invention of the Parachute

Today is the day in history the parachute was invented…so the girls agreed to create their own versions… Douglas, seeing as it is his birthday – thinks video games are more important – alright!

Surprisingly, both parachutes work – the buddies don’t crash straight down, they kinda float!

Catching up with the GBA…

There has been a lot of learning going on this month at the GBA, just not a lot of blogging! Forgive my lapse!

Here is a quick summary of our major events:
Feb 3rd – Blah Buster Day… we celebrated with a trip to the park!

February 6th – the first day in history Monopoly was sold… we chose to play the “Star Wars” version.

February 10 – we threw out all our plans and went on a field trip to the SNOW!

February 11 – What can you do with a White T Shirt Day

February 12, Lincoln’s log Cabins…Made with an empty milk carton, chocolate frosting, and pretzles. Take a good look at their faces… I think some bugs were eating and creating at the same time, lol. … can you say sugar rush!

Valentines Day , February 14th of course!

Feb 22 – George Washington’s Birthday…

For Washington’s birthday I gave the bugs an assignment… Write about what you would do if you were president of the USA, and then paint me a picture of yourself as president… here is what they came up with:

Lauren’s Essay: If I were President I would give the jobs money to give the people for payment. If I were President that is what I would do.

Megan’s Essay: If I were president I would lower prices and I would give food to the poor and I would like to make toys un – breakable. If I were president that’s what I would do.

Douglas’ Essay: If I were President of the United States I would give people jobs… the front of his picture says: I am the President at my desk. I am saying, “How are you doing today?”. I let the little kid in my desk. The Daddy is looking at the jobs.

We have some regular type things going on also…

Douglas is now reading. We are very proud for him!

The girls get dirty with Daddy reparing a leak in the kitchen plumbing…

Quackers joins a flock of penguins…

After a long break… mr puzzle is back. Douglas can’t get enough of them!

So that’s it – February in a nutshell… Get ready for March…lots more learning ahead!

Groundhog Day!

Groundhog is one of the Biggest events here at the Gandara Bug Academy! That’s because not only is it Groundhog’s Day – It’s also Mrs. Crabtree’s Birthday!
We started out checking to see if Mrs. Crabtree saw her shadow (a tradition started many moons ago by her mommy)… here she is poping out of her *burrow*

And lookie there- a beautiful shadow… a prediction of 6 more weeks of winter!

These cute groundhogs were created by the talented GBA students… and enjoyed by all!

We decorated our “Holiday Tree” – beginning with the topper – Megan’s Groundhog!

All in All it was a fun filled day!