Archive for the ‘homeschool’ Category

Oh how I miss the lesson plans being done for me.  Planning out each subject, then fitting it into a schedule that works with teaching two grade levels, and with three subjects that the older two both are doing but can not do at the same time (2 of which need my assistance)….blech.

Okay, now that the mumbling is out of the way this post can continue and in a better manner.  I did finally figure out a schedule where the older two can switch out the subjects when the other is working on them, I can assist when needed, and also with a block of time where they are self-learning so that I can do phonics, handwriting, and math with the twins.  It only took me about a month to sort, sift, and organize it all amongst all the things we wanted to get done this summer. 

I decided to ease into school this year.  The older girls have already started their Teaching Textbooks math and they love it.  It has a good track record, was recommended to me by sources I trust, and is looking to be a good fit for our family.  Next up we will add in a handwriting refresher in cursive for them and beginning printing for the twins.   After that I will probably add in reading.  History will be next since it goes hand in hand with my plans for 5th grade reading.  The girls will all four be doing history together, though at a much deeper level for the older two.  The twins will be enjoying the “story” of it along with a look at the globe and a map.  The older two will be making a timeline along with lists of important people, inventions, etc. 

It is my hope to have us up to full-time by the end of next week so that we can get a couple of weeks full-time in before vacation.  Vacation this year is a light affair. No tromping through theme parks or driving all over creation.  We are going to hop on an airplane, sit by the pool, hit the golf course once or twice, and read.  I am bringing some school with us.   I will not be bringing much with us, enough to keep a bit of momentum, but nothing that will eat into our days. 

On a side note: isn’t my sweet husband lovely when he is on a diet, lol!  I am not having the issues he is having on this diet.   My energy is down, but that is something that I hear is common.  I am getting tired of eggs for breakfast, but not being picky about what I eat, I have had a few no-egg mornings.  I do have to say that come monday I am  not sure which fruit I am going to eat, but I know I am picking fruit over grains or sugar.  While on this diet I canned nearly 50lbs of the sweetest juiciest peaches.  Having the girls test the gel on my preserves was so hard and I slipped up once and stuck the frozen spoon in my mouth without thinking.   The girls are begging my to make a cobbler out of the peaches we canned with honey and spices, but I know my limits.  Jam I can resist, cobbler would be too much smelling so warm and spicy sweet while dishing out.


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We are currently working on finding a curriculum for the girls’ school.  The virtual academy we have been with for the last  couple years has been nice, but it is not working.  Too much of the girls’ time is spent preparing for testing, and not enough comprehensive learning is happening.  They are bored, getting their work done so that it is done.  I want my girls to love learning as much as I do.  I want them to look forward to new subjects, to be able to take extra time on that which captures their interest. and to not know the “rules of standardized test taking” better than the rules of handwriting. 

So it is time, we are going to what some would call a “traditional home school” set-up in our home.  The curriculum that our school had was fairly good, I know we will miss much of it.  The cost of purchasing it, however, is out of the question.  Hence, it is the season for curriculum.  What to do for kindergarten?  Has it really been only four years since we last did K?  How does time go so fast and what did we do that worked that first year? Where should I start at with writing (a subject I feel they are weak on) the grade level they will be in (fifth) or the first so that they do not miss out on anything in the earlier levels?  Which math?  Latin would be nice, but how to fit it in with everything else.  So many questions, and that is just the beginning.  We are starting to fine-tune a plan.  It consumes many of my thoughts.

Speaking of thoughts.  We have decided to list our home and move, though we are still staying in the same city.  That plus curriculum and I feel like my brain has been stretched to its limit.  Thankfully, I am wrong and there are still cells firing strong when it comes time to cook dinner, can jelly, or settle a sisterly spat.  More on the house later as it is a post of its own.

Other random thoughts:

  • 12 days until we are on a beach taking in a bit of therapy sunshine after the long winter…us used loosely as it’s just the girls and I on a trip with my mom and her mom (hooray for grandmas!)
  • daylight savings time messes with me something awful, I still feel a bit off
  • between the last post and this we came down with what I call the coughing crud around here.  It was a 2 week-long illness that knocked you flat and when you finally did come out of it a bit, you had a cough that would not stop.  So glad the last one of us is on the tail end of it.
  • we now have a cat with a bum eye to add to our home (and not, the three-legged dog was not fond at first, but they seem to have worked out a peace agreement in the mean time.)
  • God is so good, all the time…even when I do not see it, looking back I see His hand!
  • warm dirt and fresh veggies are in my not too distant future

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Today was the second day back to school for us.  While schools all over the area canceled their classes for the day, us homeschool-type pull out the books and an extra pair of socks to keep our feet warm.  To cope with the step back into school and routine, we had a pajama day today.  Not that it really, matters, but I wanted you to know I don’t normally have my kids in their pajamas all day.  Those are some of the side-benefits of homeschooling; pajama days, weather rarely stops us, and an extra pair of socks instead of boots on a cold day.

This photo was not an easy one to catch.  When daddy got home from work the twins, as usual, want his undivided attention.  With as cold as it is out, he wanted to crawl into bed and get warm.  It’s always loud when he gets home, today just seemed extra so.  Lots of tickles, giggles, and talking over one another.  The sun was gone from that side of the house and there was only one lamp to help light all that movement.  Once again, my camera amazes me and I realize that with some more know-how this camera will take me quite far!

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How is that for an oxymoron?

We are a public school family that schools at home.  I’ve talked about homeschooling before, but this time of year I always feel a bit compelled to rattle on about it.  There are many families like us and will be many more to come, I am sure.

First thing first.  We are not anti-government school per-say.  I know that my kids are thriving in what is essentially a government school.  The online academy we are enrolled in is funded by our state just like any other brick and mortar public school.  The girls have a teacher, however I am their “learning coach.”  Which means I teach them and a teacher is there to ask us questions just as much for us to ask her questions.  We still go to all the state testings and have to put in the correct amount of hours and days for a public school.

The choice to homeschool is not one we take lightly.  You will never, ever hear me say “we are homeschooling through x grade.”  It is a yearly decision that is not even thought of until after New Year’s.  Forest and I talk extensively about it, pray about it, and often discuss it a bit with the girls now that they are at an age of (some) reason. 

There are down-side’s to a virtual school from a traditional homeschool perspective.  The freedom to choose from a variety of curricula is gone.  There are many forms to fill out (vaccinations, handbooks, etc.) just like a brick and mortar school has (though, not as many from what I hear.)  The biggest complaint the girls have is that they do not get snow days.  I do try to take a day or afternoon “off” now and then just like any student would get for a school-wide picnic day, pep rally, snow or fog day, etc.  These days are like a treat to my kids.   There is time spent doing things you just wouldn’t do if you were going at it solo.  No teacher conferences, no online learning courses introducing you to what you did the prior year, no hurrying to finish before May 31 as you can school year round at your own pace…  I really could go on and on, but I won’t.

So, why go with an online academy?  It is nice having that teacher there if you do have a question or are stumped at how to get your student past a learning road block.  The curriculum, computer, and internet are taken care of.  Not a bad deal for a one-income family.  The curriculum for this school we love.  K12 is a common name in the online school world and for a good reason.  I’ve often thought if the online school bothered me enough I would still stick with K12…that is, if I could afford it.   The lesson plans are done for you and the subjects tend to overlap.  If you follow their schedule, there is a good chance that while you are learning about China in History, you will also be learning about it in Art and reading a story of that nature in Literature.  

It is also nice that right now we are approaching 12% complete in all subjects.  Many schools are just handing out text books and are reviewing last year’s learning.  We have already moved into the Italian Renaissance and Writing a Composition for the first time.  The time spent learning at our house is quality time, full of questions answers, and I hope, a bit of fun.  It has always been my two goals: 1) to teach my children how to read well and 2) to raise children who are lifetime learners.  If I manage that, I feel like I will have done well.

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It is that time of year when the weather breaks.  The girls want to get outdoors, I want to get outdoors. y garden list is growing, their must-do list has grown all winter.    When you homeschool, the draw to get outside is unbelievable!  Don’t get me wrong, we will still likely get our late March and early April snows as far north as we are.  There are days, though, up in the mid-60’s with the sun shining like crazy.  Without herd-mentality to keep the girls at their work (not knocking herd mentality, in this case it is extremely useful) it is hard to keep them on task…especially when I want outside as badly as they do!

My goal every year at the on-set of the school year is to be done at the end of April.  Considering we do phys-ed in the evenings (swim, soccer, etc.), music is done outside of “school” hours, there is no waiting while everyone else finishes a paper, or lines to go potty (these things add up to quite a bit of time a week) we usually are done early…though not by May 1st.  So far, every year that we have school at home, there has been some sort of family event that causes us to put the books away fora  week or two mid-way (adoption, death in family, health issues of parents, etc.)  This is another place that homeschooling is great.  We can do this without falling behind while the rest of the class moves on.  I like that flexibility.

This year, we are already done with two subjects, Science and Art.  Not bad considering it is still March.  History will be done this week (three subjects done in March is a record for us.)  When the girls get excited about a subject, I often times will take it and run.  We will  just keep going until we have finished the unit on it. 

Right now we are finishing up China in the Middle Ages.  They are absolutely devouring it!  I love to see my kids excited about learning.  After this is a short chapter on Japan in the same era.   By Monday only Math, Latin, and Language Arts will be on the schedule.  Math is at 82% so I expect it to be done in a couple weeks.  Latin I haven’t pushed much.  It will be our end of the year, still do some school, but taking it easy course.

Then there is Language Arts, we are behind in Language Arts.  Not so far behind that we won’t move on next year, but far enough that we might be working on it through summer a bit.  Part of this is because the girls are doing the same work, putting Liz a year ahead of her age.  This is not a problem in history, math, or science, but the one subject she has to take her time in or she will not quite get it is Language Arts.  I do not want her just to push through, I want her to get it.  If you can teach a child good reading comprehension and language skills you have given them the tools to learn nearly anything. 

Another part of the delay is that the girls and I do not click on this one…we tend to have words about it and in general it stresses me more than potty-training the twins (just being honest.)   It wasn’t an issue last year, I don’t look for it to be an issue next year…I hope it isn’t an issue next year.

Forest has taken over teaching some of it.  I still do handwritting, reading, and other odds and ends.  He takes on the spelling and grammar.  I know, like he needs more to do.  Since he has took it over, though, the girls have taken off wonderfully in the subject.  Perhaps I just needed to admit defeat in this one?  I do like having him do some schooling though just for that time with the girls.  Any other moms out there feel like they are always the ones saying “please settle down”, “did you do your work”, or my favorite “talk like that again and…” 

Speaking of Forest, he pointed out I have not posted about yogurt, my many explosive sourdough, and other (what he calls) Trying Traditional fundamentals.  I will work on taking some photos of these (except sourdough, I think I have wiped my hands (and kitchen) of that.   I promise this isn’t turning into a sewing blog!

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sew what

Perhaps it is the cold weather.  Maybe it is that my purse is wearing out.  It could be my Grandmother’s 85th birthday this weekend.  Regardless, I have some sewing I am wanting/needing to do.   The girls and I are wanting to do a small table-top quilt for Grandma and I think we will use this pattern/method since it is pretty forgiving.  Here is our progress so far, over 100 pieces of fabric no bigger than 2″ and no smaller than 1″ some from her old stash:

So far as a purse, well that isn’t easy.  I love this bag:

A great looking bag (click on photo to go to source) and I could totally see making one for an overnight bag for the kids.  She used Amy Butler’s Sophia pattern and I do really like it, but I don’t want something that big for a purse.  I also want the option of a long strap or short handles.  Experience has taught me that  I need a darker fabric at the base of a purse, but I want something fun too.  I know, you would think I could just pick something and be happy.   Shoot, I could go buy a purse.  I looked, but nothing in my price range is jumping out at me.  So, I am making it up as I go.  I found some fabric I love, drew up a general idea of what I wanted, andhave started constructing the thing.  To me it looks kind of like a bowling bag, but smaller.  Odd, but fun.  Here’s a photo of materials:


When I’m done I’ll post an after picture.  Speaking of being done, with the birthday this weekend, guess what has priority?  Looking at my original sketch there I have to chuckle.  I’ve cut out all of my pieces now and the design has changed a fair bit in dimensions and look.  I can’t wait to get it done and really hope that it will look as good finished as I am seeing it in my head.

Another thing in the works includes a quilt that is waiting to be quilted, but I am chicken.  I’m hoping that some practice on Grandma’s small quilt will give me some courage to tackle this one (it is 55″ square.)  It’s made with beautiful fabric and I hate to ruin it due to ignorance.  Funny thing is, the fabric is not really me, but it will make a great gift.  Maybe I could finish it before Christmas?

Why you may ask.  Why would a woman with four children, who homeschools, who makes meals from scratch daily want to spend even more time being domestic?  I guess I just like it.  I love to sew and create, the rest of my day melts away and time flies.  It’s like reading a book.  You pick it up and get started and feel better for what you have accomplished.  Besides, yoga can only do so much to de-stress someone who tackles what I do in a day. 

On a side note:  I have a mommy brag.  My oldest just took some testing for our state.  We homeschool through a virtual academy and are considered “public school” at home so we take all the testings as if in a brick and mortar school.  Jane tested the highest for her grade/teacher.  If I am remembering right, her teacher has about 35 or so Second Graders.  The best part though was that she was only a couple points away from scoring in the advanced range.  It was an awfully hard test that had many things on there she wouldn’t have a clue about.  It’s a state standard test that applies to several ages and gets harder/easier according to how you score.  She finished it in tears and went away discouraged.  A real lesson in perseverance and patience, neither of which are top of her list of attributes.  I am so proud of her for finishing and scoring so well and I admit that I take it as a bit of a pat on the back as well.  It isn’t easy to homeschool and it feels really good to have someone say your not screwing up your child’s intelligence by doing so.  There are days when we are both frustrated and, it just feels so good to both of us to get news like this.

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It’s easy to be grateful for moments like this:

This was this past summer at my Mother and Father-In-Law’s place.  We set off some little cone fireworks.  The twins were okay withit up here in the back of the truck until this one.  As you can see if the reflection it was pretty, but it was also loud.  Freaked them both out, but CeeCee’s reactions was to die for!  Brie just slowly kept backing up barely looking at it.  CeeCee though, she hit the deck!  I manage to open up my phone and snap this photo as she was brave enough to finally look over the edge.   Just posting about it gets me giggling! 

 We are at Williamsburg, Virginia for a bit of living history lessons for the older two.  Today we saw an iron key be made, learned about Apothecaries of the 18th century, and also about political life in colonial Virginia before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Very fun to see it all unfold before your eyes.  Thankfully, it was a bright and sunny day seeing as the temperatures were in the low 40’s.  With the wind blowing we felt for sure that it could snow at any moment.  Big change from last weeks destination!  Pictures and more coming soon, of course.

I’ll be back to my regular postings in a day or two, in case anyone was wondering.

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