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Monday, December 29, 2008

Whew! Goodbye 2008

It is hard to believe how different my life is today vs. last year or even a few months ago. We had Christmas week off and I didn't even THINK about homeschooling. I didn't crack a single book the entire week that had anything to do with homeschooling. I already have my list of things to buy for next year, some of which are dependent on whether Danny will be at home or not so those will be bought later in the year.

Let's see, we're in our 3rd year of homeschooling and this is the first time I haven't been consumed (in my thoughts) by homeschooling in 3 years. Working has been good for me, I've lost 8lbs. and my self-image/esteem has been boosted. There are just some things in life that have to happen - in some way or the other to maintain a healthy outlook on life, if some things gets off-kilter then rectifying it is so freeing!

I'm unable to discuss my life as I would like. With homeschooling, I'll be doing our weekly reports each week but I don't really have much else to talk about that I can share freely on a public blog. I'm not obsessing about which curriculum is best or what we should do about a certain subject...we're just doing the work and having fun.

I hope today we'll accomplish a nature walk since we haven't done one in a month, I figured it would be a great way to start off the week. Last year I posted about what the kids got for Christmas, this year...I just don't think it's important. They did get way too much from extended family. I received money for Christmas and for the first time since I can remember- I spent it ALL on me. In the past, the money would pay a bill or get the kids something they needed but didn't get for Christmas, homeschooling curricula/supplies or towards groceries. Not this year. I spent every last cent on me and it feels GOOD. (James Brown GOOD)

This coming new year is going to be filled with change for me and I'm excited. I think it's going to be a year of healthy change, a time to accomplish goals and move towards a more healthy lifestyle in all areas.

For 2009 I resolve to give myself permission to BE. This year I resolve to reduce the limits I put on myself. I resolve to be GOOD to myself.

Usually I would put a bunch of justifications on why I should be good to myself but goodness gracious...why? Smile.



Friday, December 19, 2008

Week 11 & 12 Report

Week 11: December 8-14
Adjusting to working part-time at night, this week I had 30 hours at work (phew) with only 2 days off the entire week. We studied the Cherokee and Camille made a feathered headband in history.

I dropped a read aloud from our history time. The learning room became Camille's bedroom so we moved our two huge bookcases to where our dining table is, I moved my computer desk to the other side of the room and Camille and I disassembled the bunk bed she and Danny were using and transferred a twin bed to the learning room. She decided she wanted to keep posters up so we did.

We divided her toys from Danny's and bought under the bed storage for her to have a 'dresser' under the bed. Problems were starting to creep up from Danny and Camille sharing a bedroom. First, Camille needs a little privacy; second, Danny thinks Camille should always clean the room by herself. "Sissie will do it." We're still working on keeping our bedrooms clean and clothes picked up but it's better now that they are in separate rooms. I just wish the computer desk weren't encroaching on her personal space. She's happy though and I'm just so proud of her for being flexible about it albeit I feel guilty. Our lessons are being done mostly at the dining room table now.

Since I had Thursday, Dec. 11th off from work, I took Camille to see Santa at the mall and we played a bit of hooky from our lessons. I've realized there are times that you do the essentials and let the rest fall by the wayside to spend quality time, which is so much more important.

Sunday, Dec. 14th- I took both the kids to Bass Pro Shop to see Santa and of course, there was a discussion about Santa and his helpers with Camille. I didn't realize that Bass Pro Shop was taking pictures of their own and giving us a copy! How nice!

The kids had a Christmas Party at church on Sunday, where they saw another Santa, but this Santa gave presents! Camille received the Zoob Creator Set and Danny received a Bumblebee Transformer- both were so excited!

Week 12: December 15-19
This week I've had 3 days off back-to-back. Camille and I picked up the pottery projects we had done- a plate for Danny and a plate for her dad, which turned out great! I need to take a picture before we wrap them. Lessons went well, we did the essentials, I know Camille's retention is Latin is mediocre but I'm lacking the luster to do more than what we're doing. We played Exact Change this week for math with a sprinkling of exercises from Horizons math, this went well.

Wednesday, I got paid so Camille and I did Latin and reading before heading out for the day. We went to transfer my car from my dh's name to mine (yay!), to Target to buy roller skates for Christmas which sort of ruined the surprise for her but she was more than glad to 'pretend to be surprised' on Christmas morning. I wanted her to try on the skates so I didn't buy the wrong size, it worked out. I bought myself a new bathrobe which I've been looking for at a good price for a year now. I also splurged and got her lip gloss and glittery stick-ons for her nails. We had a pleasant day together before going to pick up Danny at preschool.

After picking up Danny, I went to Blockbuster to rent Mamma Mia! and Batman: The Dark Knight for myself since dh was going to a Jacksonville Jaguar game on Thursday and got Danny's shaggy hair cut. Since it was Wednesday, the kids had youth at church so I was able to enjoy a little quiet time at home without anyone so I watched Mamma Mia! while they were gone. It's a little cheesy but I loved it and the music stays with you.

Thursday- Camille and I did our last lessons before our break (for a week) and then made peanut butter cookies and chocolate covered pretzels and strawberries. We still need to make chocolate chip cookies and next week, we'll make sugar cookies with frosting for Santa. I cooked my first Boston Butt in the crockpot and we had tender, juicy bar-b-que sandwiches for dinner and watched The Polar Express. After Polar Express, I made the kids' homemade cocoa and we watched The Cat in the Hat and The Lorax on tv before they went to bed.

Today (Friday)- We are making our chocolate chip cookies, busting open a Piñata (from our history lesson this week on the Spanish War/Alamo) and going to see....The Tale of Desperaux! I miss our nature walks and today would be a perfect day for one since it's 80° in December (disgusting) but the kids' think it's pretty special that they will be among the first to see the new movie.

The craziness is about to start. My mom and I are holding our breath to see if the last-minute gifts I ordered online for her (she's scared someone will steal her identity if she orders online) will arrive before Christmas Eve. My parents are coming here Christmas Eve, we're going to Dh's dad's house Christmas Day and Camille will be going with her dad sometime in-between and after? Yep, craziness. I put off college until February because of all this! I have to relearn how to do fractions, decimals, and percentages before taking the College Placement Test so that I don't have to take a remedial math class.

I've had to really contemplate 4th grade and Kindergarten for next year, since I'm approaching the time I normally order next year's curricula. I've decided to have Danny tested at the end of June to see where he is developmentally and what would be best for him- homeschooling or K at public school. Camille will be tested this year as well, at the end of 3rd grade, possibly in May.

I will add pictures of the piñata and pottery dishes later...



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Dec 17



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts about K/4th grade

Math- Math U See Gamma/Delta with Math on the Level (30 min)
Spelling- Simply Spelling (15 min)
LA- ILL with Writing Aids' support (up to 30 min)
Latin- Latina Christiana I with DVDs (up to 30 min)
History- TOG Year 4 with Evaluations and MapAids (up to 30 min daily)
Science- General Science (Inventions, Milestones of Science, etc.) (up to 30 min daily)
Music- instrument lessons (piano) (1 lesson a week and 15 min of practice daily)
Poetry Memorization- cutting down to one poem a month (5-10 min daily)
Time spent total approx. 2-3 hrs.

If ds4 will be at home for K:
ABeCeDarian (only thing I need to buy)
Math on the Level
Galloping the Globe
To be limited to 1-1.5 hour of work each day

So homeschooling can be done with both of them in about 4 hours a day, dd8 will have independent work to do while I work with ds4 (they will be a year older next year) and she can do art, informal logic and other things as she pleases or in her free time. It would be nice if I could teach them simultaneously but I'm not going to hold my breath on that.

I'll probably have to do phonics with ds then do Latin with dd, giving him a play break.
Math together, possibly if not I can do math with ds while dd does her independent reading or piano practice.
Handwriting with ds while dd completes her ILL lesson
Galloping the Globe as a family type activity after dd's history and science work has been completed.

Somehow it seems more manageable but I am just thinking aloud as I type. If I did put ds in public school for K, I would have more uninterrupted time for my college work. With him home, I don't know how I'd get that time. If he did go to school, we could still do Galloping the Globe as a family, with bedtime readings.

I think his maturity level at the end of the year, in June or July will be a major determining factor. Let's be honest, it's also dependent on how I can juggle college, homeschooling and part-time work with just dd8 plus maintaining consistent discipline.

I know I need to do last week's report, I'm only online anymore in the morning. I'll get to it this week, plus this week's report.



Friday, December 12, 2008


Putting the kids in school next year has been heavy on my heart lately. Camille will be in 4th and Danny in K. I just don't know if I'll be able to handle college, work and homeschooling. I've been thinking about how to make it work including trimming curricula where needed and I've been doubting lately whether it's worth it.

Yesterday, Camille and I went to the mall at 9:30 am to do a little shopping, had a quiet lunch and went to pick up Danny from school. No crowds, it was a pleasant time for both of us.

Today, I took both kids kite flying. Kite flying. Something that as a mom, I want to do with the kids but don't take the time, and I know I wouldn't if they were in school. It would be get up, get ready for school, school, come home, do homework, eat dinner, get ready for bed, get today as I ran around a field trying to help both kids get their respective kites in the air, I realized...

I do not want to miss this. I will do anything to keep this. (Sniff, sniff)



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wedgit Frog Hops



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday 12/10


"Mom, I built you a house!" Danny building with wooden blocks.


The gingerbread house we built last Friday.



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week 10 Report

I'm giving myself a break this week by not posting photos, it has been a hard week here. Let's see, I started working on Tuesday from 4-10 pm, paid bills (stress) and went grocery shopping (more stress) Wednesday, worked Thursday 4-10pm, Friday, Camille and I went to a pottery shop to make Christmas gifts and Camille's piano recital was that night and today I'm working 4-10pm again.

I am enjoying working, it's nice to be among people who don't call you Mom every 3 seconds. It's nice to have a set amount of responsibilities that don't change and it's great to get paid for smiling. :)

Huge life changes are happening, I've also spent a lot of time on the phone with college admission officers and in my IN box are college placement practice test, financial aid forms and admission applications that I am currently procrastinating on but will finish by tomorrow. I need to finish them so that I can start college in January, if not I'll have to wait and only kick myself later if I do that.

Our Christmas tree is up and the outside of the house is decorated, I forgot that I did that this week too. Typing it all out, no wonder I'm feeling overwhelmed!!!

Okay...lessons this week. Given what has happened, I think we've done well but here's the brutal honesty.

Explorer's Bible Study- two lessons this week were done out of four.
Latin- Lesson completed for the week, vocabulary review should have been done more.
Math- Some type of math was done each day, I don't feel that I've done the best I can with this yet.

Primary Language Lessons
- 3 lessons out of 4 were done (yay!)
Explode the Code 7- Lesson completed for the week
Poetry- Reviewed 2x, decided to skip Windy Nights and move on to Animal Crackers which we'll start Monday.

- Read about the Erie Canal, completed interactive map, still need to finish other work tomorrow possibly.
Science- Lesson done, read Cell Wars and completed Cell Mobile. We were unable to do science vocabulary b/c our Children's Dictionary does not have macrophages and neutrophils.
Building Critical Thinking Skills- done but I didn't check

Afternoon Tea with Composer- nope.
Draw Squad- nope.
Needlepoint- nope.
Independent Reading time together- scratch the together (think, "go read your book") so it did get done.
Field Trip- Yes! We went to make pottery Christmas gifts for Danny and Camille's Dad.

Looking back on this week, I don't know how we accomplished all that we did. Camille's piano teacher questioned whether she was progressing enough so we did extra work in piano while I stressed about whether he's the right teacher for her and if he's not- can I find another??

I'm completely stressed over this college thing. I want to do it, I need to do it but goodness I just want to stick the bag back over my head and slink away...



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 12/3




Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Friday Nature Walk 11/28

On Black Friday, instead of heading to the stores- we headed outside for a nature walk.













Monday, December 1, 2008

Thank you!

I'm shaking my head in disbelief, I won the Best Blog Design award at the Homeschool Blog Awards! I'm humbled and thrilled all at once. For the last three years I've been nominated for Super Homeschooler and Nitty-Gritty Homeschooler but the truth is, there are homeschoolers out there that put me to shame in both categories, and rightly so.

I'd like to thank every single person who nominated/voted for me in any category and Darcy from Graphically Designing- who helped me figure out how to translate our homeschool in a visual digital format. I think the best designs are the ones that provide visual glimpses into the heart of the creator and I feel very blessed to be able to do that with our blog.

This is for my kids, whom I adore and cherish with all my being.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Break

Whew! I needed this break and I'm so glad that I have us off for two weeks. We're only taking one week for Christmas because it's not in-between our quarters so I won't have planning to do.

Camille has a recital December 5th and her teacher is not happy with her lack of progress in her note reading, for the last two months. It's good to be able to focus on this without any other formal studies. We're leaving tomorrow for my parents' house and I probably won't be online much for the next 4 days. I hope to take the kids on a nature walk while we're gone though so I'll be back with pictures from South Carolina.

We're still reading Swiss Family Robinson, I'm taking Camille's Prima Latina flashcards that she made so we can play Latin Memory- I better make a cheat sheet for myself- and Times Tales so we can start on the Part II stories.

Everything is ready for us when we come back, TOG Year 3- Unit 2, Math on the Level and Science- which are my only subjects that I really have to do much prep in at all. We do have a chicken leg bone soaking in vinegar so that we can bend it when we get home, a project from Head to Toe Science.

I have one more week of teaching Sunday School so we'll be back Saturday. Next week, I'll be exploring the different colleges in our area to find one to attend, hopefully in January if not then in the Spring as well as getting a part-time job at night. I'm going to be extremely busy very soon. Our finances haven't been healthy in the last 5 months and dh's medical bills are a constant drain that only deepens with each procedure he needs. This is going to be a very tight Christmas, the tightest we've ever had. I know others are feeling it too this Christmas and some will be giving each other the present of their company rather than wrapped gifts. I'm just glad I'm able to go home for Thanksgiving and be with my folks.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Second Quarter Overview

2nd Quarter December 1-February 6
One week break for Christmas- Dec. 22-26

In Bible, we'll be studying Genesis using Explorer's Bible Study, Discovery level, Genesis book.

Second quarter will focus on Lessons 10-18; Genesis 12 through Genesis 24

Answering the questions orally has been working well so we will continue in this fashion. It makes using Explorer's Bible Study more like a discussion which we both enjoy.

In Math, we're trying Math on the Level as our new math program. We are still using Times Tales which we started at the end of the first quarter for multiplication and division facts.


We are continuing our Latin studies with Prima Latina happily.


We started Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl, Updated by Margot Davidson during the last portion of our 2nd grade year. We will continue to work through the book this year with great pleasure. Hillside Education has released an Answer Key and Teacher guide free of charge as a .pdf file.

We will finish with Primary Language Lessons in about 30 lessons, then we will start Writing Tales 1 by Amy Olsen. We are still using Writing Aids by Tapestry of Grace just not as our main program.


We are continuing on with the Explode the Code series, we will finish Book 7 and start Book 8 this quarter (see further below). After we finish Explode the Code, Camille will start Simply Spelling by Laurie Hicks.

I use the Teacher's Guide for Explode the Code because Camille gets much more instruction than just using ETC as a workbook.

I'm considering trying ABeCeDarian Student Workbook B-Short Version for Camille, her reading fluency has grown tremendously but she still stumbles a bit. During our break between 1st and 2nd Quarter we are both reading Swiss Family Robinson, she's reading the Classic Starts version and I'm reading the unabridged version. I think we're finally at a turning point in her reading skills.


We are continuing our poetry memorization with The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist. This quarter we will be memorizing Animal Crackers, Christmas Carol, Furry Bear, The Wind, and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening and adding to Camille's growing poetry notebook.

This year we are learning about simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, and alliteration through our poems and Writing Aids.

We are cheerfully continuing our history studies with Tapestry of Grace, this year we'll be using Year 3 Redesign. We will also be using Tapestry's Writing Aids, MapAids and Evaluations.

For the second quarter we will be studying the great movement West, Australia and various American presidents.

We will creating a display board for Australia, including ABC book of Australian animals, continuing our President card bank, and learning all about the West. We will be doing activities from Hands-On History: Pioneers and Interactive 3D Maps: American History. When we study Mexico, I'll get a piñata for the kids to demolish for sweets.

We are studying germs and microbes, which is where Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese ended with. We will use Magic School Bus World of Germs kit with other books before reading Exploring the History of Medicine by John Hudson Tiner. For more details.

In our nature studies, we're working on completing the Georgia Junior Park Ranger program and filling in My Nature Journal by Adrienne Olmstead.

Once a week, Camille will continue working in Building Critical Thinking Skills Level 1.

This quarter we are reading about Johann Sebastian Bach. Camille is continuing her private piano lessons and has a recital on December 5th.


Drawing With Children has been replaced with Draw Squad which we love. I loved Drawing With Children in theory but there was a gap between the theory and actually doing it. We are both enjoying Draw Squad.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday Nature Walk


Let's go for a walk.

We took our Junior Ranger program and worked on the plant study, here's what we found.


A flower with more than 5 petals


A fuzzy seed that can be carried on the wind


Spanish moss (flowering plant not really a moss)


A vine and a hiding critter


Look Mom, red berries!
Junior Ranger- a red flower or fruit
and a berry- look inside for seeds (Camille did)


Camille pointing to Sparkleberry


A fruit with hooks, sweetgum
and Danny wanted his picture taken too



Danny's holding Magnolia leaves


A fern


Ground lichen, looks like dirty snow but it's not.


and a close up of Cladina evansii ("powder-puff lichen", or "deer moss")


This was light green, the lady at the park said this was greybeard moss but Spanish moss is also called greybeard. Sigh. I need a book on lichen.


Camille says this is an insect's nest


Pink all over the tree? Lady at the park said it's called pepto-bismol but I can't find it in either my field guides or online so- yes, I need a book on lichen!


More pink lichen?

Camille completed Level III of the Fruits & Flowers section of her Junior Ranger program, finding 9 of 12 items.