Sunday, December 28, 2008

Digital Layouts

I made some digital scrapbook layouts for my mother-in-law's Christmas gift again this year. I only got a few done for Christmas day, but I do plan to do more. I thought I would share them here.

I had to go back to using GIMP for the layouts. The CK Scrapbook Designer software was not translating some of the colors properly. I'm not sure if it's a problem with the software, or with Parallels. However, GIMP was not too difficult once I remembered the specifics, so it wasn't that big of a deal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is Coming

We are down to the last couple of days before Christmas. Everything is almost ready here. We've had a lot of fun the past few weeks.

Griff had a Christmas concert.

So did the kids.

I made Christmas goodies for friends.

We put up the tree and decorated it.

We made Christmas cookies.

And gingerbread houses.

We will spend Christmas morning at home, then head over to my in-laws to exchange presents there. On Saturday we will have a Christmas celebration with my family.

I have had a very relaxed, enjoyable Christmas season. I hope yours has been the same. Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Okay, all you northerners get ready to laugh at me.

We had snow on Wednesday! Real, live, honest-to-goodness snow! It probably snowed for 6-7 hours, and it all melted overnight, but it was there.

My kids went out and played in it. Ruth got involved in a snowball fight with kids down the street. They took most of the snow off of cars, but hey, you take what you can get. It was so neat hearing the laughter of those kids. Both of my angels pelted me with snowballs, so their lives are now complete.

It was really coming down. (again, you northerners keep your laughter to yourself)

So pretty!
Ruth spies the snowball fight down the street.

I took this picture, then ran! LOL

Too distracted to actually look at the camera. :)

What a wonderful treat for this Christmas season.

(BTW, the projected high for Sunday is 76, for which I'll be thankful after our cold spell this week.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How We're Using Total Language Plus

We are a little over halfway through our first (okay, sort of first) Total Language Plus study. I say "sort of" because we actually did try one a couple of years ago and I just couldn't get a handle on how it worked. We've figured it out now, though, and I thought if I spelled out exactly how we do it now, it might help someone else.

I bought one copy of The Cricket in Times Square study. TLP allows you to copy it for use with another child in the family. However, I'm not sure how much I came out ahead doing this. I think next time I'll just by two copies.

I don't like book binding on workbooks, so I had the binding cut off and made a notebook out of it using my comb binding machine. I put dividers between each unit to make it easier to find the correct page as we're working.

Since my children are so close in age, we are able to do our study together. This is basically how we go through each lesson.
  • First we do the dictation exercise, if there is one.
  • If the kids worked on comprehension questions on the previous day, we go over the answers.
  • Each unit centers around a specified number of chapters (2 to 3 in the case of TCITS). We read from the book, taking turns reading aloud. The Cricket in Times Square has short chapters, so we can cover one chapter each day. There's plenty time to stretch out the chapters if you need to, though.
  • After reading, I assign the work for the day. Comprehension questions are by chapter, so I assign those if we read from the book that day. Vocabulary, spelling, and grammar are broken up into A, B, C, D, and E assignments. We do one letter each day (i.e. vocab A, spelling A, and grammar A). We will typically run out of comprehension questions before we are through the other assignments. If that is the case, we will either have a shorter lesson time or I will look through the suggested projects for something fun to do.
  • Writing assignments are included in TLP, but we use IEW, so I don't usually use them. If one of the assignments strikes our fancy, or I can see how to adjust it to a IEW assignment, I will do so. We also use the writing prompts for discussion purposes. (There is no actually writing instruction included in TLP, just a bunch of prompts.)
  • I always include an extra day at the end of a TLP unit. This allows us to catch up if we have fallen behind on anything, or do some of the projects listed in the guide.
I also wanted to show what we do with the spelling words. One of the assignments is to copy the words onto index cards, then use those for review each day. We were having a problem with our cards getting misplaced. I thought of buying index cards that are spiral bound, but I didn't want to spend the money. I finally decided to bind them just like the notebooks. This has enabled us to keep up with them.

TLP has been a big hit here. I know we will do at least one more study this year, but I haven't decided which one. Grammar is pretty light in the lower levels of TLP, so you might want to supplement that with something else. I would not do it at the same time, but fit something in when you're not doing a TLP study. We will probably take a break before our next study and do something like Junior Analytical Grammar.

I hope this helps someone. Let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Notebook Pages

I'm trying to get us back in the habit of making notebook pages. We've really let that slide, but we've had such a good week that we've easily found the time to fit it back in. I wanted to share what we've done.

Ruth was fascinated with the study of North Korea. She just cannot imagine living under such a totalitarian regime. I admit, I think it's pretty scary myself. She thought it very odd that there were actual flowers bred in honor of these leaders.

Robert studied the War of 1812 a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted a notebook page for it, so we went ahead and did that this week.

We're taking next week off of school next week, but I'm hoping to do some catch-up on notebooking pages then. Maybe I'll have more to show in another week or so.

(Ruth's page uses Always Asia paper from Raspberry Road. Robert's page uses Celebrating paper from Shabby Princess.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's All About Me

Yes, it really is. I set the tone for the day. I determine, to a great extent, whether it's going to be a good day or not. My attitude is more important than the kids' attitudes.

I woke up very early this morning and I decided to take advantage of it, rather than wasting time on the computer until the very-last-minute. (yes, I admit it. I do that.) So, this is how our day has gone.

6:30 I showered & dressed
7:00 made waffles for breakfast
7:30 gathered and organizeed all the kids' school books and put them on the table
8:00 called kids down for breakfast (wonders of wonders, they're actually dressed!)
8:30 started school (on time, even!) -

We are all sitting at the table with our assignment sheets, check-lists, and books. School goes smoothly. Robert asks several times if he can take a break, but I point out the assigned break time and say, "not yet". His attitude is great. He even says, "This is one of my happy days. I love it when I have a happy day." So do we all, sweetie. (And, hmm..., I wonder why the day is going so smoothly.) We get Bible, history, poetry, math, and Total Language Plus done. Robert even gets his Latin assignment from last week finished. He also does his president fact sheet and his timeline entry.

I sat at the table with them for the most part. I graded papers as they finished (bonus: nothing to grade tonight!). I did check my Motivated Moms chore chart and did a few things, but I stayed within a few steps of them the whole time. I was very focused on them and what they were doing.

10:20 We took a break. Ideally I would like to spend this time outside, but I had some things inside I needed to do. The kids played upstairs. I put together 3 orders from our online scrapbook store. (Yes, we have one. I rarely talk about it here.) I also started our lunch (pizza biscuit pockets - something new I'm trying)

11:00 break is over - time for writing! We are on Unit IV of IEW and I explained again how to do the outline. Robert is writing about the War of 1812. Ruthie chose to write about national flowers of North Korea. (??? - not what I would have chosen, but the point is learning to write at this point, not so much content)

They finished their outlines early, so Robert goes ahead and finishes his Story of Inventions reading and Ruthie does her typing lesson.

We are done for the day! And what time is it? 11:30 am. Yes, indeedy. It truly is all about me. Now, if I can just keep remembering that.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Goodness, I haven't blogged in forever. Life has just gotten in the way.

I've been tweaking our homeschool day again and I think I have finally gotten it the way I want it.

I've made some changes to Robert's history program. AO 5 has been a bit much for him this year, so I've cut out a few things. I've also found that I really prefer that each week have a specific topic to center things around, so I'm using an adapation of the Truthquest American History II schedule I found at Ambleside Classical (look in her sidebar).

One thing that is encouraging is that Robert is very enthusiastic about his history studies this year. I think a big part of that is the AO books. They are wonderful!

I've also changed Ruth's Sonlight schedule to more closely follow Higher Up and Further In's Year 5 schedule. Lindafay has British history scheduled with this. I have replaced it with Robert's spine reading. This way, they will be at the same point in history next year, when I plan on combining them again. Ruthie's main focus is still the Eastern Hemisphere study, but she is learning the American History that Robert is, too.

We have changed from CLE Reading to a Total Language Plus study of The Cricket in Times Square. A childhood friend of mine is a rep for them and she was able to answer all my questions. It's going very well. I like the time we spend together working on it. Also, it includes vocabulary, spelling, and dictation, so those are finally getting done.

Our Art Project Friday has not happened for a couple of weeks. It seems that something always comes up. One Friday a friend called up unexpectedly to ask us to go to lunch with them. Then we had eye appointments. Our conflict today is a rescheduled cello lesson. I'm going to have to get control of this, but I can't quite figure it out.

In other news...

I had to share Robert's Halloween costume. He was Mario and it turned out great! (Can you guess why he's in that pose?) Ruthie doesn't like Halloween (she scares easily), so she chose to skip dressing up and trick-or-treating this year. She stayed home and passed out candy, instead.

Ruthie got braces this week. She has adjusted to them well. She chose blue rubber bands, but wants to change the colors for different seasons/holidays. Braces were not this fun when I had them.

You can click on any picture to make it larger. Please excuse the red-eye. I had to choose between fixing the red-eye and getting this post done. Posting won.

This school year is going by so quickly. Is anybody else shocked that Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away. How did that happen?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Art

One of the changes I made to our schedule was to add art projects to Friday. I found this project through a link at Hearts and Trees. The original instructions called for Art Stix, but said that pastels would work as well. When I compared the prices (and Amazon is much cheaper than Michael's!) , I decided pastels would work just fine for us.

I wanted to share Ruth's final picture. The picture doesn't do it justice, however. It is really very pretty. She wanted the hills to glow from the sunlight, so she added orange and yellow. I never would have thought of doing that, but it gave just the effect she wanted. I think it's lovely, and shows that my daughter is much more artistic than I am. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Math Fun

I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel here.

Head over to Let's Play Math and Homeschool Math Blog for some great ideas for having fun with math.

A couple of recent favorite posts.

Free math resources (Check out the logic problems. I just love those!)

Coffee Shop (Ruth and I have spent a ridiculous amount of time on this game.)

Spend plenty of time at these blogs. They are so rich in information and fun. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Won!

I don't usually enter contests. I'm very much of the "somebody's gotta win, but it's probably not going to be me" mindset. Ever the pessimist, that's me!

However, when I saw that Half Pint House was giving away copies of God's World News, and that there could be multiple winners, I held my breath and jumped in. I've wanted to get subscription to this magazine, but having never seen it before, I was hesitant.

I was thrilled when I found out I was one of the winners. I even won two copies! The magazine is divided into age groups and I won News Current (4th - 5th grade) and Top Story (6th - 9th). I was very happy with what I saw and now plan to subscribe.

Thank you, Megan, for having this contest!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Put Title Here

I could not think of a single good title, but wanted to give an update, so there you go.

We've had a bit of a hard time getting back in the swing of things since the hurricane. We took a week off (I was feeling whiny about having no power) and I think we're paying for it.

One thing I did was move us to a definite time schedule. As in, 8:30, 9:00, etc. You get the idea. It's had mixed results. Ruthie loves it. It keeps her moving and she has consistently gotten her schoolwork done. Robert fought it, but actually has gotten more work done. The big drawback with him is if we start school late for some reason. He cannot be convinced that we can just move everything back. We'll work on that.

Even with the new schedule, though, we've been lagging this week. One thing the new schedule showed me is that there is no way we can be done before 2:30 pm. That is not what I want for our school days. So, I'm making more changes.

The biggest change is to our Friday schedule. I dropped math. That was difficult to do because we haven't caught up to grade level since we switched to CLE. I also took science out of the daily schedule and put it in a block of time on Friday. I'll see if that works better. Overall, our Friday is now more of a project day (science, notebooking, art, etc.).

I also took out our read aloud time in the morning. We've been reading Inkheart. It's a good book, but it's not school related. It also means I haven't been doing Ruthie's Sonlight read-aloud like I should. So, it's been moved to a different time of day. Book Basket and instrument practice have also been moved off the schedule. I still expect them to do it, but as long as it's done sometime during the day, I'm okay with that.

In an effort to make sure they do things like reading and practice, and in an effort to work on attitudes around here, I'm creating a "nobility record" for the kids. I got the idea from Trivium Academy. If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out. It's a marvelous idea.

In other news, Ruthie and I went camping with her Girl Scout troop this past weekend. As the camp-trained person, I was in charge of the whole event. I do not like being in charge of things, so it was very stressful for me. We had a great time, though, and are already planning another trip for April.

Robert had a friend over for a late birthday celebration. They were originally going to see the new Star Wars animated movie, but it was no longer in theaters by the time the power came back on. So, Griff took them to play laser tag instead. We also took them out to lunch and had cake and ice cream at home. It was very low-key, but Robert enjoyed it. I'm thankful that both of my kids prefer smaller parties.

If I get it together, I'll post some pictures later. I make no promises, though.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Our Ike Experience

I'm late, but I really want to record these memories, so I'm sharing our experience with Hurricane Ike.

I lived in the Houston area when Hurricane Alicia hit back in 1983. I was 16 years old. I remember my mom waking me up to go down the street to a neighbor's house. They had a central room with no windows. We spent the night sitting on their kitchen floor with a transistor radio. We watched debris fly down the street at times, but my biggest memory of it is being bored. Our power came back on the next day and it was pretty much a non-event for this teenager. However, viewing a hurricane as a teenager and as an adult are two very different things!

After Rita completely missed us three years ago, I wasn't really expecting Ike to hit us, either. And, since we live about 70 miles inland, I wasn't particularly worried about if it did hit. We did prepare, though. I bought water. We filled up our cars. I convinced my brother (who still lives in that closer-to-the-coast area) to come stay with us. We watched the news all evening, and we went to bed.

Our power went out at 12:18 AM that Saturday morning. I looked out the windows at that point, but couldn't see much because it was so dark. The wind was certainly howling, though. When we got up that morning, the hurricane was still going through, but it wasn't as strong as during the night. We didn't get out to see the damage until that afternoon.

We were very lucky. We lost our back fence and some bushes. Our next door neighbor had a pine tree that broke in half, but thankfully it broke towards the street rather than their home. Other neighbors were not so lucky. We suspect a tornado went through the neighborhood because certain sections were definitely hit harder than others. I've included some pictures in the slideshow at the end.

We got power back on Sunday for 5 minutes, then we heard transformers blowing everywhere. Parts of the neighborhood kept power, but we didn't. We were out of power for 13 days and 12 hours! Let me tell you, people, that is not something you want to experience.

I don't know that people outside of our area really understand what the lack of power meant. My sister told me she read a blog comment somewhere of some guy in Colorado. His response was, "Big deal! So they don't have power. They're a bunch of whiners." He, my friends, didn't have a clue what was going on. Here's just some of what no power, city wide (93% outage!), meant.

- Airports were closed.
- Gas stations were closed. When they did open, many could only take cash. Lines for gas were absolutely incredible!
- Street lights were out. Not flashing. Out!! This caused many accidents. I, myself, drove through several intersections, not seeing the light. I was lucky to not crash into someone else.
- Grocery stores had no power. When our local grocery store opened after 5 days, they had minimal power. We had to shop with a store employee and a flashlight!

This is just what I can think of off the top of my head. I'm not even talking about the minor inconveniences of no A/C and cooking on a camp stove for two weeks.

This story will give you an idea of what things were like. I was in Target a few days after the storm. An employee was unboxing batteries. A very well dressed lady with her young daughter walked up to him and said, "Do you have C batteries?" He said, "Yes, ma'am". She grabbed her daughter by the shoulder and said, almost giddily, "We're going to be able to listen to the radio!" Folks, when somebody gets so excited about listening to the radio, things are definitely redefined.

I thought I would share what I learned and blessings we had during this time.

Things I Learned

1. Before the storm, buy as many bags of ice as the freezer will hold. I bought none. That was not smart.
2. Make sure the grease container in the freezer is sealed properly and not laying on it's side. Yuk.
3. Bake all refrigerated bread products before the storm.
4. Run the dishwasher one last time before the storm, even if it's not full. You will be thankful for every dish you don't have to wash by hand.
5. Buy your son's birthday present before the storm. Bake the cake, too, even if you're worried it will be a bit stale. Otherwise you will end up sticking a candle in a Ding Dong.

Our Blessings

1. We were all safe, with no damage to our home.
2. We never lost water.
3. We have a gas water heater, so we had hot water.
4. We had a corded phone. Those with only cordless phones did not have phones until their power came on. Cell phone reception was spotty at best.
5. We homeschool, so we don't have to worry about making up 6 (or more!) school days.
6. We have a battery-operated television. Small, black and white, with poor picture quality, but it kept us in touch with the outside world.
7. With fewer outside distractions, we spent much more time together as a family.

There are still many people recovering from Hurricane Ike. It's going to take Galveston months, at the least, to recover. People lost their homes. People lost their lives. After 25 years without a major hurricane, many of us did not take the warning seriously. I don't believe that will happen again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

We have power!

After 13 days and 12 hours, our power is back on. My reaction to this prompted my son to tell me that I am an "energetic mom". Anyone who knows me personally knows that this is so not true.

Once I get my pictures uploaded and thoughts together, I'll be blogging our hurricane adventure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hurricane Ike Update

Our power is out and expected to be out until at least Monday. I am at my sister's today, but obviously do not have internet access at home. I will update once we are back up. Please pray that that is soon!

Friday, September 05, 2008


One thing I'm trying to emphasize this year is notebooking. We've done simple notebook pages in the past, but I wanted to add some pizzazz to it this year. The kids don't enjoy subject-specific hands-on projects, so I thought this might add a bit of fun and creativity to our days.

I got most of my ideas from the blog Ambleside Classical. She has some wonderful ideas and instructions for notebooking.

We are using the software Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Designer as our basis. We either use it for paper and designs that we then cut and glue, or we do all the work with the software. I'm still learning how to use the software, so I expect their pages will only get better as I find more and more to do with it.

This is Ruthie's first page. The "journalling" is from her IEW writing assignment. The background paper and title are from the CK software. We got the pictures off the internet.

We printed everything separately, then cut and pasted it together. We learned that if we're going to do this, we need to use cardstock for the background paper. I also think using scrapbook adhesive would be better. The glue warped the pages even though we used the gel glue that's not supposed to do that.

I had to really encourage Ruthie to do this, but she enjoyed it in the end.

Robert's first page was about George Washington. Along with his writing assignment, we used a picture of Washington from Homeschool in the Woods' Time Travelers CD. I am using selected items from this study to supplement what Robert is learning. I also made out an information sheet for him to fill out on all the presidents. I hope to have a page for each president studied.

We printed the background on cardstock. The title is part of the background as well. See, we're learning!

Robert was not as much of a participant in this as I wanted, but he did give me his opinions, and put it all together. I figure we have to start somewhere.

This is Ruthie's page from today. It was made completely with the CK software. She chose the title because it the letters hop like kangaroos. The picture is from wikipedia.

Ruthie did most of the work on this page herself and is very happy with how it turned out.

Robert really enjoyed making his most recent page. As soon as he saw this title option, he said, "Star Wars!" and I knew he was hooked.

While we worked on this together, he said, "I wish I could do this all by myself." So do I, son, and that is the goal.

I've been trying to think of something to add to our school days, something the kids will really look forward to. I hope this is it. It's fun, creative, and will leave them with a wonderful book at the end of the year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School Day Organization

It's good to be back. :)

One of the reasons I've been so absent from blogland is that I was determined to be organized and ready when school started. I made my goal and things are looking good for the year.

One of my biggest helpers for this school year is the Desk Apprentice. I used one of these last year, but found that I really needed one for each kid, so I bought another one. They are kind of pricey, but a Staples opened near us this summer and had some fantastic sales, so I got a good deal on it. If you watch the Staples web-site, you can occasionally find it on sale. That's how I got my first one.

I'll take you through how we're using them.

The outside pockets are holding books and workbooks (including self-made notebooks like I made last year).

The corner pencil holders contain pencils, scissors, rulers, and colored pencils. I still have empty ones and I'm sure I'll find a use for them.

The center section holds over-sized books and binders. One of the things I'm most excited about, though, is the hanging files. I have 12 weeks worth. Each week contains papers and items that didn't fit in other places - memory work pages, timeline figures, miscellaneous notebooking items, and maps. As other things come up, they'll be placed in there as well.

The whole system is very flexible. And, since we work at the kitchen table, it makes clean-up at dinner time very easy. I love having everything contained and organized.

I'm considering getting one for myself, but I'm going to have to wait awhile for it. That money tree we planted in the backyard hasn't bloomed yet. I hope that man at the nursery wasn't lying to me...

We have started school here. I'll be posting later this week about how that's going.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Too Funny!

I came across this quiz and, being the Star Trek Geek that I am, had to take it. My results are fine, but check out who came in 2nd.

Your results:
You are Beverly Crusher

Beverly Crusher
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Will Riker
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Geordi LaForge
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Scott
Jean-Luc Picard
Deanna Troi
Mr. Sulu
A good physician and a caring parent.
You are devoted to your children
and to your occupation.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

An Expendable Character! That just cracks me up!

Or maybe I'm just the plucky comic relief.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Looking through my blog drafts, I found this one, and just had to share it. I'm not sure why I never got around to posting it.

A few weeks ago, Robert was having an especially hard time concentrating on his math. He was working in another room in an effort to reduce distractions. All of a sudden, I heard the following.

(loudly) "Argh! Why can't I figure this out?!" (yes, he really says "argh")

a few minutes later

(even more loudly) "4!!"..."TIMES!!"..."5!!"

silence for a bit...

(in a normal tone of voice) "Oh, wait. Never mind."

Yeah, I was pretty sure he knew that one.

Funny, funny kid.

Monday, June 09, 2008

In Training...

for a half-marathon. Yes, indeedy. Really and truly. I'm not kidding. Really. I'm not. (Those of you who know me in real life can pick yourselves up off the floor now. I can hear you laughing across the computer line.)

A good friend of mine did the Houston Marathon last January. I've watched her go from being a non-runner, to that. It was great... for her. I was so happy... for her. For me? I wasn't interested. But for my friend... way to go!

Then, I found out next year's marathon is going to be on my birthday. My 42nd birthday. 42!! (Yes, I'm announcing it for all the world to see.)

That got me to thinking... I'm still not interested in running a marathon. (I haven't been since I found out years ago that your toenails might fall off after the race. Yuk and ouch!) However, a half-marathon. Yeah, maybe I could do that. I talked to Griff about it. He said, "Go for it!" I talked to my friend and her excitement pushed me right into training. LOL

She told me about a local training group. They help you train for the marathon and half-marathon. You join, then meet up on Saturdays for running. They give you a training schedule to use during the week. They also have speakers about marathon-related topics. It sounds like a great way to keep motivated. The group meets for the first time in July, and if I want to be able to run at all by then, I knew needed to start right away.

So, I started Couch to 5K. I started week 3 today. I am sore, but very excited. (Although after the way my legs were screaming at me after my 2nd 3 minutes of running today, it amazes me that I will be able to run several hours by January!) I have never done anything like this before, but I think, for that reason alone, it is important that I follow through.

I'm kind of funny about things like this. I haven't told many people about it. My family, and a few close friends. Other than that, I've been pretty close-mouthed. I'm probably not going to blog about this much, but I'm going to set up a sidebar item here on the blog to keep a record. If you're interested, check it out!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Time Is It?

This says it all!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where I've Been

I haven't been blogging much lately. I have a new toy that's taking a lot of my time. Wanna see?

Can you tell what it is? It's Microsoft Windows - on my iMac! Now, don't get me wrong. I love, love Macs. However, there are a few things we can't run on it. With Parallels (& Windows) installed, here's what I can now do.

- (for our business)
- Creating Keepsakes digital scrapbooking software (there are some for the Mac, but none as cheap as this one)
- Mavis Beacon typing software (which I bought thinking it would work on the iMac - nope!)
- and....

Homeschool Tracker! I spend too much time planning and rearranging. I'm hoping that using HST will make that easier and faster. I also love their daily assignment sheets. I've been using them for the end of this year and it has really kept up focused.

I've gotten just about everything entered, and up to speed on using Windows, so I'm hoping things will calm down now and I can relax (and blog!).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Plans for Next Year

I know it's been awhile since I blogged, but I have been busy working on our curriculum choices and schedule for next year. I am hoping to get it all done before summer so that I can concentrate on other things at that time (like my house!). I am almost done and am very happy with how it's turning out.

So, without further ado, here is the outline of our 2008-2009 school year.

Robert (6th grade)

History, Geography, and Literature: Ambleside Online Year 5
Writing: IEW
Literature Analysis: CLE Reading
Grammar: Junior Analytical Grammar (after finishing CLE Reading)
Spelling: Spelling Wisdom (includes copywork and dictation)
Math: CLE Math
Latin: Getting Started with Latin
Science: BJU Science 5
Logic: Dandy Lion logic, various other puzzles and games
Bible: Explorer's Bible Study

Ruth (5th grade)

History, Geography, and Literature: Sonlight Core 5
Writing: IEW
Literature Analysis: CLE Reading
Spelling: Spelling Wisdom (includes copywork and dictation)
Math: CLE Math
Science: Christian Liberty Nature Reader 5 (from AO Year 5) and library books
Logic: Dandy Lion logic, various other puzzles and games
Bible: Bible Study Fellowship

We will also be following Ambleside Online's schedule for composer, artist, folk song, and hymn studies. Another thing from AO I've been wanting to fit in is Shakespeare and Plutarch. I finally decided to do one each term, rather than try to do both. So, we'll start off in the fall with Plutarch, then do a Shakespeare play when we're done.

You may notice that Ruth does not have grammar or Latin in her schedule. With her 4-day week, I found that her daily schedule was getting way too full and complicated. I decided that grammar and Latin could wait until the following year. It's funny that it took me awhile to figure that out. Once I remembered, "Hey, I'm splitting them up! They don't have to do the same thing!", it became much clearer.

I still have some planning to do. One of these is figuring out IEW writing assignments for the first term. However, there are a couple of books I need to have before I can really do that. I've ordered them and they should be here next week. For now, though, I'm done. It's a good feeling.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Because I'm a Glutton for Punishment

One of the advantages of homeschooling children that are only 17 months apart is the ability to combine them for many subjects. I've combined Robert and Ruthie for history and science since we first started homeschooling. It has made life easier in many ways.

However, I'm running into a few problems for next year.

- Robert will be in 6th grade, which is middle school here. I am feeling the need to ramp up my expectations of him. Combining has often meant bring him down to Ruthie's level. That's got to change.

- Ruthie will be attending a day of enrichment classes every Wednesday, which will mean a 4-day week for her. As long as they are doing things together, it also means a 4-day week for Robert. I'm not sure I want this.

- They have different interests in school. Ruthie is much more interested in the arts. Robert is much more interested in science.

- Speaking of science, Robert needs to be ready for Apologia General Science (or whatever formal science we decide on) in another year. Ruthie does not.

- I plan to return to Ambleside Online after Sonlight Core 5. Looking at their schedule, Robert would not reach a study of the 20th century in high school if he does Sonlight next year. I'm not absolutely sure we will homeschool the high school years, but I need to plan like we will.

So (deep breath here), I've made a decision. Ruthie will do Sonlight Core 5 next year. Robert will do Ambleside Online's Year 5. I am also separating them for science. I'm not sure exactly what I will do with Robert's science, but Ruthie will have a much more relaxed year in that subject. She will be doing some science in her enrichment classes, so I might let that be the bulk of it and just fill the rest in with library books.

I've talked to the kids about it and they are thrilled. I think they want their "own" schoolwork, rather than sharing everything. We will still do some subjects together (composer and artist study, read-alouds, etc.), but they are looking forward to the separation.

I'm a bit nervous about this. (okay, more than a bit) It will mean more work on my part. In some ways, though, it will be oddly easier, if that makes any sense. Combining them is too much like multi-tasking, and I don't multi-task well. I do better with separation and clearly defined lines. So, bring it on.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to, at any point next year, throw up my hands in defeat and go back to combining them without anybody saying, "I told you so."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bible Study Fellowship

I absolutely love Bible Study Fellowship. I was in the middle of attending a daytime BSF study when we pulled the kids out to homeschool. At the time, I thought about getting a sitter for Wednesday mornings so I could continue to go, but figured out that was not going to work. I also thought about transferring to a nighttime meeting, but I really felt that I needed my focus to be homeschooling. So, with great regret, I gave it up.

I have finally decided that I'm ready to add it back in. I went to an informational meeting last night and am signed up for next year. I am so excited! Ruth will be attending the children's program on the same night. I have heard wonderful things about it, so I'm hoping it will be a good experience for her.

BSF is very structured, and has some rules that some people don't like. However, they don't bother me at all, and I have found that it is a method of in-depth study of God's word that really works for me. I encourage you to seek out a group in your area and see if it's for you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Like chocolate and peanut butter...

Two constants in our home - classical music and Warner Bros. cartoons. If you are at all familiar with both of these, you can see how the two go together so well.

Griff had a concert Sunday and they played Overture to Barber of Seville. We could not get the following out of our minds during the performance. It's pretty bad when you have to resist the urge to break into song during an orchestral performance. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mother/Daughter Time

Ruthie and I went to a Mother/Daughter Luncheon on Saturday. We were unable to attend last year because of a conflict, so I've been looking forward to this year's. It was hosted by one of the mothers at our church and we had a wonderful time until... Well, I'll explain later in the post.

It was held in the our friend's backyard and the weather could not have been more perfect. It was warm and sunny, but a breeze kept it from being too warm. We had actually had some cooler weather come through the day before, which kept the humidity down.

Ruthie and the other girls played with bubbles and made a small craft while the last-minute preparations were made. It was a simple menu of sandwiches, fruit, and chips with dip. The hostess emphasized that the food was "plain" - plain turkey, plain chips, plain bread - for the possible picky eaters among the children. It was very sweet of her to make it so child-friendly.

For dessert, the adults had yummy lemon cake and the children had butterfly cupcakes. This is where we ran into a problem. The body of the butterfly was 3 pastel-colored peanut M&Ms (cute!). Ruthie didn't know they had peanuts in them, and I was refilling my drink when she decided to eat them. When I found out, I told her that they had peanuts in them and that she should tell me if she started itching. I wasn't too worried, though, because her allergies have never shown up too seriously.

About 10 minutes later she came up and told me that she was itching. Her face and neck were red and blotchy. I carry Benadryl with me for this (doctor recommendation) and gave her one. About 20 minutes later, she was still itching, so I gave her a second one. This seemed to take care of the problem, but it was still scary for us. This is the first reaction we've run into since she was diagnosed with allergies last fall. It really put a damper on the day, and since the party was officially over, we went home.

I had a talk with Ruth about how she cannot just eat something without being sure what is in it - especially things like candy, which can have a coating and/or unusual shape. It was also a wake-up call to me. I need to take this much more seriously than I do. Since Ruthie has never had an anaphylactic reaction, I have on many occasions left her without her epi-pen. That has to stop.

Despite the allergy learning experience, we had a wonderful time and cannot wait for next spring's repeat event.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekly Report - April 7-11

This was a pretty good week for us. I instituted a "by the clock" schedule, which is completely new for us. I was having a hard time getting back into a routine after spring break and this really helped. I don't think we'll stick to it long-term, but it's working for now.


We finally pulled out BJU Science 5 and are almost finished with Chapter One. I was really hung up on the fact that I did not have all the supplies for the expirements, but I finally decided to do what we can and move on. Done is better than perfect, right?


We studied the 100 Years' War. I've pretty much abandoned my history schedule. We've fallen so far behind and I really want to get through Queen Elizabeth I, so I'm picking the highlights of Our Island Story and moving through them.


We are continuing with IEW. We covered Unit III this week, which is summarizing a narrative story. I am so incredibly pleased with this program. I actually got three good paragraphs out of Robert and he is showing some creativity in his writing. Ruth, who has always fought the restrictions placed on her writing (she's the 18 page girl Andrew Pudewa talks about), is doing well also. I only wish I had started IEW earlier. I had it sitting on the shelf for months before trying it.

Composer Study

We are finishing up Handel this week. We listened to Harmonious Blacksmith (aka Keyboard Suite No. 5 in E Major) and did a notebook page. We are technically supposed to listen to one of his organ concertos before being done, but, again, we are behind, so we are moving on. Handel is one of Griff's favorite composers, so I know the kids will be exposed to plenty of his music.

This is the composer notebook page we did (map is a printed and reduced copy of Uncle Josh's Outline Maps). I know I got it from somewhere, but I can't remember where. If someone recognizes it, please let me know so I can give the appropriate person credit.

UPDATE: Katie reminded me where I found this notebook page. It's from Mrs. Happy Housewife. How could I have forgotten? Thank you, Katie!

Picture Study

We are still (!) on Mary Cassatt. I think we have been studying her all year! We'll finish her up next week, though, and should be able to move on to Leonardo da Vinci.

Our picture was The Boating Party. I found a coloring page of the painting at Enchanted Learning and the kids, who are not especially fond of coloring, humored me by coloring it with colored pencils (somewhat, at least). I thought it might help them remember it better.

Nature Study

I'm hoping to do the next Green Hour Challenge today. We'll see if the weather cooperates. We're only up to #2. I am not behind on that, though. I only learned about them after my blog break. :) Once it's done, I'll write about it here.


We finished Swallows and Amazons this week. We were going to start The Hobbit next, until we found out this book is available. We can't resist, so I'm going to get it this weekend and we'll start it on Monday.

I also have pretty much gotten our taxes done, but that's not a pretty story, so I won't share it here.

I hope you had a good week, too. Homeschooling or otherwise.

Poor Customer Service (AKA How I Totally Lost It)

(Apologies to those who may have already read about this on a particular homeschool message board I visit. You have my permission to completely skip this post.)

I called Papa John's somewhere between 6:45 and 7:00 pm last night and ordered 1 large pizza and an order of breadsticks. I was asked how I would be paying for it (cash), given the total, and told it would be about 45 minutes.

At 8:00, after having not received my pizza, I called Papa John's back and was told that I had never placed the order. I have ordered many times from this particular Papa John's, and had even used the re-dial feature on my phone to call them back. After the girl I was talking to just kept repeating that I had not placed the order, I asked to talk to the manger.

I told the manager that I was angry at this point, but that all I had needed before that was an “I'm sorry. We'll get your order out right away.” The manager promised that they would do this.

By 9:00, I still had not received the order. I called again and spoke to someone different. He was very apologetic, told me that the delivery person had just left, and I should get it soon.

9:30, still no pizza, so I called again. By this time, my two children and I were very hungry, but as I have always had good experiences with Papa John's, I kept expecting the pizza to show up. I think I spoke to the same guy again. He was very surprised I had not received it yet and asked if I wanted to cancel the order. I said, no, I just wanted my pizza, but I would not be paying for it. He said this was fine and I was to have the delivery person call him if there were any questions. (I later found out that it was sent out as a no-cost order, but I did not know that at the time.)

10:00, still no pizza, so I called again. They said all the delivery people were back. The guy who was supposed to deliver my pizza insisted that he had delivered it and that he had given it to my husband. This is impossible because my husband had not been home since he left for work that morning. The delivery guy said that my husband had told him that I was out, but I had been home all night.

I talked to the delivery guy on the phone and he kept insisting that he had given it to my husband, but I knew that could not be true. He also mentioned seeing a black and white cat, which we do have, but there are 3 black and white cats on our block, so I was still convinced he had taken it to the wrong house. However, even when I described the house, he insisted that it was the house he had delivered the pizza to.

At this point, I asked to talk to the manager again. He kept repeating that the delivery guy said he had delivered it. This is where I lost it. I confess that I did start yelling at the manager. I was frustrated, not to mention hungry. I also take offense to being basically called a liar. My son (who I've mentioned before is mildly autistic) was very distraught over the whole thing, which wasn't helping anything. However, it was not appropriate to yell at the manager, and I did apologize for it. I was wrong to speak to him that way. The manager asked if I wanted a credit for my next order, but I really doubt I will ever be ordering from Papa John's again.

I called Griff (who was on his way home by now) and told him the whole story. He went by Papa John's to talk to the manager (and defend my honor - isn't he a sweetie?). He told the manager he had not been home since 8:00 that morning and had NOT had a pizza delivered to him. The delivery guy was apparently close by and asked him what our address was and then proceeded to tell my husband that he had delivered to him that night.

My husband leaned closer and said, “You're saying that you recognize me? That I'm the man you gave the pizza to?” The delivery guy insisted this was so. He even mentioned the cat again.

At this point, Griff turned to the manager and said, “I have never seen this guy before. He is lying. He is lying to you.”

Griff then left.

We are pretty sure that this delivery guy gave our pizza to someone else (probably some friends). This means that he is stealing from Papa John's. Not only that, but his actions have caused the loss of a very good customer.

And I want to know what kind of person can lie so blatantly?!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Green Hour Challenge #1

One thing that we have really missed out on during my blog block are the Green Hour Challenges at The Heart of Harmony. They are wonderful, and even though we are late to the game, we are going to join in.

First thing this morning, we went out to take a walk around our neighboorhood for Challenge #1. We have not done much nature study, and are true suburbanites, so we are still learning how to observe nature. The kids weren't noticing much, but kind of got into it by the end of the walk.

Our observations...

Two squirrels were chasing each other around and up the trunk of a tree (really funny). (We couldn't get close enough for a picture, so I'm using one I took last May in our backyard.)

These lilies were in full bloom in several yards. I am still trying to figure out exactly what kind of lily they are.

Our yesterday, today, and tomorrows are blooming. You can see the range of colors of the blooms in this picture.

Robert discovered this ant bed (nest?). You can't tell from the picture, but there are a lot of very tiny, but busy, ants.

After coming home, we read about ants and squirrels in The Handbook of Nature Study. I was thrilled to actually use this book, after having it sit on my shelf for about a year.

We didn't spend long on this - probably 30 minutes total. We haven't done any drawings yet, and I don't know if we will get that done this week. However, we did have nature study and I am thrilled about that. Thank you, Barb, for giving us an easy plan to follow! It was just what we needed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Week Summed Up In One Word

CRAZY! (Either the week is, or I am. I'll let you know my decision later.)

I'm finally back, after weeks of longing to blog, and I'm too stinkin' busy to find the time.

Full update when I return. It should be Sunday. Should be. We'll see.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Oh, It's Good to be Back

Hello, everyone. I cannot believe how much I missed being here. Even more, I missed knowing what was going on in your lives! This lenten sacrifice was incredibly hard. I don't know that I'll pick this one again. Wowza.

I was not perfect. I stumbled more times than I care to admit, but I was still on the internet for a lot less time. If you don't believe me, check out my bloglines. I have over 1400 blog posts unread. 1400!! Good grief. I fear I will never catch up. I've thought of selecting "Mark All Read", but I just cannot do it. So, if I have not returned to your blog, be patient. I'll get there.

I found that it is not enough to give up something for God, you have to replace it with something else. I started a Precept Bible study on Matthew that I found here. It's free and you can find online videos (also free) to go along with the lessons. I found that I did not have time to watch the videos, so I've just been doing the lessons. I took Precept training almost 15 years ago, but haven't done one of their studies in ages.

Here's a quick peek into our lives over the past few weeks.