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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding What I Lost

I didn't know I lost it, it was gone and I didn't even miss because I wasn't focused on it. The 'it' is the joy of motherhood. I'm not saying that homeschooling is the complete and only cause of the lost joy but for my journey, it was a major part of it. Danny was 2 when I started homeschooling Camille and from the time he was 2 to now, he's 4...I've been missing the complete joy of being his mother.

I've spent hours researching, reading, worrying, contemplating, planning and various other focuses that I deemed important but I wasn't the mother I should have been to him. I wasn't the mother I initially wanted to be for him. Over a period of time, I went from a mother who played on the floor with her children to being preoccupied with busyness and still wanting/demanding first time obedience.

I look back at the last two years, at all the temper tantrums and acting out on Danny's part as a sign that I failed him. That sounds self-defeating but it's true. I failed him. I had other homeschooling parenting books and parents themselves presenting a much more rigid, strict way of discipling than I was doing and I felt I should do the same. It's wasn't my preference (but I didn't know that at the time) but I felt comfortable because it was how I was raised. Now after a bit of self-searching and being exposed to opposite ways by yet another group of homeschoolers, I feel like I've found what I had before homeschooling—the joy of being a Mom.

I'm reading The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and I'm rediscovering the Mom I used to be before homeschooling. I feel so blessed to not have strayed too long from the path that I originally felt called to although that path became very blurry by the information overload that I experienced in the first two years of homeschooling.

I think as a woman, it can be easy to lose sight of all the different goals we have for ourselves, marriage and children. Our lives started a new direction with homeschooling and it's taken me two years to find my bearings in many directions, now I can refocus on the most important part of the journey- being there for my children.

I have to end this here, Camille and I are going to have some mother & daughter time alone.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Strong Enough to Bend

It's our 6 year Anniversary and this song is so beautiful, I'm dedicating it to my husband today.

Strong Enough to Bend by Tanya Tucker

There's a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
And the reason its still standing
It was strong enough to bend

For years, we have stayed together
As lovers and as friends
What we have will last forever
If we're strong enough to bend

When you say something that you can't take back
Big wind blows and you hear a little crack
When you say "Hey well I might be wrong"
You can sway with the wind till the storm is gone
Sway with the wind till the storm is gone

Like a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
Our love will last forever
If we're strong enough to bend

When you start thinkin' that you know it all
Big wind blows and a branch will fall
When you say "Hey this job takes two"
We can sway with the wind till the skies turn blue
Sway with the wind till the skies turn blue

Like a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
Our love will last forever if we're strong enough to bend
Our love will last forever if we're strong enough to bend.

Here's to six years and many more being strong enough to bend honey.
I love you.


Friday, August 29, 2008

First Quarter Studies

In Bible, we'll be studying Genesis chapters 1-11 using Explorer's Bible Study, Discovery level, Genesis book.

I'm excited to take the journey with Camille as we move away from Bible stories and start studying scripture. We're starting at the beginning and we'll work our way through the Bible in years to come but this year we're studying Genesis.

In Math, we're using Horizons Math 3 as our main math program and the first quarter (lessons 1-36), review all that has been learned previously with a few new terms & concepts being introduced. I am so grateful that we have the Teacher's guide! Camille sees the difference in the text, now the typeface is smaller in year 3 and she feels like it shows that she is growing up.

As a supplement this year, we're going to use Times Tales to help with multiplication and division math facts.

We are starting Prima Latina this quarter with the DVDs.

We are continuing with Écoutez Parlez, French Oral Program this year, reviewing Unit 1 during the first quarter.

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 are continuing on with the Explode the Code series, starting with Book 7.

We are continuing our poetry memorization with The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist. This quarter we will be memorizing Bird Talk, Merry Sunshine, Foreign Lands, Windy Nights, and Bed in Summer and adding to Camille's growing poetry notebook.

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 possibly Evaluations.

For the first quarter we will be studying 1800-1825: Napoleon Bonaparte, Lewis & Clark, the Louisiana Purchase, Moving westward, the Supreme Court, Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe as well as studying about South America.

We will be making a quill pen, moccasins, silhouettes, creating maps plus a salt map, cooking South American dishes and making our first attempt to make pottery.

In Science, we'll be studying the human body with Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese with complementary reading from the Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 5 as well as other living science books.

We will be creating paper bodies again (we did this in first grade) but Danny will be joining us as we use My Body by Teacher Created Resources.

The kids are itching to use the stethoscope I got for them... :)

Once a week, Camille will work in this informal logic workbook.

At lunch every day we'll be listening to Antonio Vivald's music and I will read this biography to the kids while they eat.

At afternoon tea, twice a week, we'll read Grimms' Fairy Tales. I'm contemplating whether to get an audio version for this or not. We'll see how it goes.

As part of our attempt to have masterly inactivity, the kids have chosen to have an exercise session 2x a week, alternated with afternoon tea.

Camille and I are very excited to start Drawing With Children 2x a week, alternated with handicrafts. We have our art boards and markers all set to start. For handicrafts, we're starting with needlepoint and I even found a little project for Danny!

For character study this quarter we will be focusing on Willingness, I will pull this theme out of all our reading where I can and read from Keepers of the Faith's character book on Willingness at least once a week.

Danny will be starting Horizons Preschool and enjoying reading time with me as well as joining Camille in the studies above as much as possible. I am piggybacking Danny onto Camille's time, while she does what work she can independently, Danny will be doing something with me.

Of course we are continuing our nature studies but these are informal because we never know what God will reveal to us from day to day in our adventures. I'm very excited to start this new year, albeit a bit scared of teaching both kids, there is a wind of change flowing through our homeschool as we embrace a more structured day which I hope will produce many fruits with the kids.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Local newspaper quotes about standardization

From Connect Savannah, writer Stacey Kronquest's article, Testing Boundaries: Parent Coalition pushes back against current standardization

"Almost 40 percent of Georgia's eighth graders failed the standardized math test."

"But the validity of Georgia's tests was called into question this year. Eighty percent of sixth and seventh graders failed the Social Studies CRCT, prompting Georgia Secretary of Education Kathy Cox to throw out the score because they weren't deemed trustworthy assessments of what was being taught."

"A typical first grader going to public school in Chatham County takes seven to twelve standardized tests, not including practice tests."

"Nationally, there is a rally cry against NCLB (No Child Left Behind), with education experts such as Alfie Kohn arguing that "people with little understanding of how children learn have imposed a heavy-handed, top-down, test-driven version of school reform that is lowering the quality of education in this country."

"[Michael] Moore, [a professor at Georgia Southern University in the Department of Curriculum], says that testing in Savannah schools is equal to a least one month of teaching."

"The [Parent] coalition has met with the Savannah-Chatham Board of Education and district Superintendent Thomas Lockamy twice, and insist they want to help the district in two areas: to align student evaluation with the vision of the Board of Education — "to ignite a passion for learning" — and to assist the district in finding out why teachers are leaving."

"The coalition claims there is some sort of standardized test given in 70 out of 180 school days, and because the stakes are so high, teachers are forced to teach to the test. Teacher are in agreement that the pervasive testing culture not only affects teacher retention, it is anti-learning."

It continues on to say how parents are sending their children to private schools and why teachers are leaving the district. The District Superintendent is planning on conducting a test audit in a sampling of different schools.

THIS is a major reason why we are homeschooling. Even in kindergarten, Camille was put through testing boot-camp where the kids were taught catchy songs about passing the test and her elementary school even had a PARADE complete with T-shirts for parents to buy. Camille was absent from school that day, due to the fact I didn't want to put her into a situation to defend my choice of her not participating, and that was the only day she missed out of the entire year which messed up her perfect attendance record. I do have to say that since homeschooling, she has had perfect attendance for two years straight.

I don't tend to write about reasons to homeschool, but the current public school testing culture is a major one. I'd love to keep this article, highlight it and laminate it for the next time someone asks why we homeschool. I pray that the Parent Coalition in the Chatham County school district can be instrumental to positive changes, the kids need it desperately.

The article quoted above has not been changed with the exception of added information to explain who is being quoted, which was also in the article. The article is how the author wrote it as shown in the Connect Savannah Aug. 27-Sep. 2, 2008 newspaper, page 8-9 of the News & Opinion section.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Soccer Practice

He's officially in soccer now. I had very mixed emotions during his first practice and I realized suddenly that I had expectations. Danny was the sweetest player out there, he allowed the other boys to take his soccer ball, even though he wasn't supposed to. There was a little boy who didn't want to play who was crying and Danny kept going up to him and telling him it was okay and patting him on the back. He ran his little heart out the minute we arrived, kicking his little soccer ball all over the field and not once using his hands. A proud mama moment!

He kept calling the coach 'mummie', "Mummie, can I go over there?", "Mummie, can I get a drink?" It was sweet that he was asking but he wasn't listening to his Coach Mummie. She would give instructions and Danny would be thinking or doing something else. I don't know why I expected him to get it the first time, that's when I realized that I had expectations that weren't coming to fruition.

I will have to work with him about what she was trying to teach him, the poor coach was overwhelmed and she's a volunteer. I want him to listen and follow directions, it seems it will be something that is built up instead of instantaneous. I had to keep telling myself that this is for fun, if he doesn't get it- it's okay as long as he's having fun and to let the coach worry about teaching him.

Dh wasn't able to attend the practice with us due to a meeting, I don't know if my presence on the field is actually helpful for Danny or not. He kept looking back at me instead of listening. Sigh. I have mixed emotions about the whole charade, I want to be there so that I can see him doing this but then again, I don't want to be there feeling like I did yesterday. After practice, I went up to the overwhelmed coach and told her that this is Danny's first organized activity. I didn't want to say aloud that Danny hasn't been to preschool or been in a school setting. It was obvious to me that the other children had been and they understood what it meant to listen to the teacher.

For the first time, I felt a little embarrassed to say that we're homeschoolers. Danny hasn't technically been homeschooled yet, so I didn't want his lack of school experience (at home or elsewhere) to reflect what a homeschooler's lifestyle is like. It's completely silly, I know. I'll talk to the coach in private about Danny's lack of organized experience and explain that we'll be starting preschool at home soon. Until then, I'm going to work on my own perspective of this whole affair, sheesh.

Soccer is just his first sports activity, as any parent, I want him to do well but most of all I want him to have fun. It's going to be a learning experience for all of us. We hope after soccer season ends that both children will be able to participate in karate.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Favorite Things

I wish this show ran all year but I know the actors need family time. It truly is the BEST show on the air. You know, just my humble opinion.

Mr. Tom Petty. 'Nuf said. The man. My music man. Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith join Mr. Petty in my favorite music section.

I think I'm getting old (ripe old age of 31) because I'd rather wear good fitting khakis than jeans now. Straight legs, comfortable fit, looks good. Lee Plain Front pants.

Honeysuckle at Bath and Body Works.
My favorite scent from my childhood and I keep at least one bottle of lotion at all times.

This is my favorite scent although I'm currently wearing Red Door by Elizabeth Arden instead.

Cambridge Vera Bradley purse, I love this! It's the perfect size with just enough pockets for me and it's beautiful.

After using this for about 6 months, I've decided to go foundation free in my makeup routine. My skin likes the Oil of Olay line so I also use the Refreshing Toner and Daily Moisturizer.

I also love the Dress Barn for most of my clothing, except for staples like the Lee pants above.

I am a Vanilla Frappuchino drinking fool at coffee stores (which are mostly in bookstores).

A friend sent me this tea and I love it but haven't been able to find it locally yet. Numi Decaf Black Vanilla Indian Night Tea

I LOVE this stuff!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Approaching Start Date

It's time to put up or shut up. Really. We have t-minus 3 weeks before the planned start of 3rd grade and preschool and I still have a lot of planning to do. Well, maybe not a lot by others standards but it FEELS like a LOT.

I also know that *I've* created this monster that needs to be fed, lol. What could I possibly still have left to do?

1. Plan out Tapestry of Grace, Year 3, Unit 1. I need to get acquainted with working with the weekly plan again, get my ducks in a row and see what activities we'll be doing for the first quarter. I also need to see about field trips in our area to tie into what we're learning about. Done!

2. Horizons Preschool. I have 3 weeks done in spreadsheet form but I need to finish the other 6 weeks of our first quarter. Silly me also wants to create a list of books that I want to read this year (to Danny) so that I don't forget any.

3. The monster also wants to gather the materials needed for Horizons Preschool AND Head to Toe Science for the first quarter and put them in ziploc bags for easy access/organization.

4. Furthermore, I have volunteered to teach our church's Fall Quarter Sunday School class of 4th and 5th graders using Rock Solid curriculum, which I need to get familiar with.

I have my Declaration of Intent and our attendance for August all ready to be turned into our local board of education office. I also need to send a copy of our new Declaration of Intent to Discovery Education to reapply for the free subscription that Georgia homeschoolers receive.

Really, I've never been so ready to start a new year. My only saving grace is that we have studies that we are currently doing. I've just received our books for Unit 2 of Tapestry's Year 3 and I'm excited! I've also decided to purge our books again, I'm holding on to a lot of history books that we may not read. I'll have to decide how I'll handle the purge, I think I might sell them at the Well-Trained Mind Sale/Swap board.

I'm ready just to simplify and completely trust Tapestry for our history readings. We'll have been using Tapestry for a year in January and I'm so grateful to have given it a chance.

Sidenote: Danny has his FIRST soccer practice tomorrow depending on the weather. We're all excited for him! Camille will start her piano lessons back up Sept. 4th.


A thought about abortion

Lately whenever I see the issue about abortion being discussed, there is the hanging question in the air- when does life begin? I just have to say this and to no one in particular but just speak my mind.

Life begins at conception, when the egg is fertilized and it starts developing. THAT is the beginning of life. Which is why as to-be parents we are excited to find out that we are pregnant, even at the earliest stages of pregnancy when the risk is high for miscarriage. It is why we grieve when there is a miscarriage. It is why the child that is miscarried or stillborn is in its parents hearts for the rest of their parents lives. If all this, the excitement and the grieving is a part of our human make-up, how can abortion be anything but the taking of a life?

*I'm not allowing comments on this post, nor am I asking anyone to respond.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Learning room updated

Here's our updated learning room. I moved it around this weekend.

Sorry about the redirect but I have my reasons.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nature Walk Findings

Last weekend we went on a 3 mile walk on a wetlands trail that led us through Georgia woods, marsh and lake. It is my newfound place to explore with the kids for our nature studies. Even my husband is getting involved with an interest towards natural history, he's picking up on my cues and engaging the kids too. It just melts my heart. Here are a few things that caught our eye during the walk: Horned SpiderShort Horned GrasshopperFiddler Crabs

I'm sorry I cannot share pictures (pictures above are from others, wasn't sure of copyright), we didn't take our camera but there will be natural journal entries and pictures soon. I'm thrilled to have found such a rich natural environment to explore with the kids. We also heard a wild hog during our walk. I hope that I won't have the opportunity to take a picture of one. Shudder.

I'm excited to start our nature studies again with a new environment to explore. We are watching the baby milkweed bugs on our milkweed plant with interest. Pictures and drawings to come, we've been drenched with Tropical Storm Fay the past few days.

Here's a blogger I found today-


Friday, August 22, 2008

August 22nd, Weekly Report

Oh, it's an exciting day here today!

Here at Trivium Academy it has just been discovered that Camille is in her final lap of her 2nd grade studies. The suspense is building as fans gather to see if she will indeed finish 2nd grade in the next 2 weeks.

Let's check the scoreboard:
Explode the Code, Book 6: FINISHED!!!!!
Horizons Math 2: on lesson 150 of 160!

Oh this is going to be a close race folks. Camille has already finished Explode the Code Book 6, will she finish the Horizons work in a timely manner? Inside sources say that her coach and mother is keeping her on track and they are enjoying their informal study time. It is rumored that Camille is also studying invertebrates at this time and reading books from Tapestry of Grace..oh wait, another report says she's currently reading Book 1 of The Spiderwick Chronicles as well.

Will she run out of steam before the finish line? Will her coach be able to keep her on track and focused? Stay tuned to find out.

In other news...

Danny will be starting soccer practice on Tuesday! His mom has just talked to his soccer coach and it has been found out by our sources that he will have soccer practice on Tuesdays and games on Thursdays.

The soccer coach has reportedly assured Danny's mother that the games and practices are only to teach them a little technique and to help develop the kids' focus. Danny's mom is very excited for Danny and hopes he will love doing soccer as much as she suspects he will.

The soccer season runs from September to November so stay tuned for action photos of Danny running his little heart out, TWICE a WEEK. Wooo-Hoooo!!!!

That concludes our report for today. Thank you for tuning in, see you next time.
Same bat time, same bat channel.
(Isn't that what was said at the end of the old Batman cartoons?)


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Working the Plan, My Way

It's great to have a plan! It's even better when you use the plan to work for you instead of against you. I have 12 weeks of invertebrate lessons that have been making me feel absolutely guilty for a while now, we read The Children of Summer by Margaret Anderson and then I decided it was time to just dive right in.

I'm not going to take 12 weeks though, but the lessons will be done before Sept. 15th. This week we've been doing a lesson a day. I told a friend about this and she said it was one of the beauties of homeschooling, being able to make a 12 week study happen in 12 days if we wish without rigid formality, just as a part of our daily lives. We can read science books at bedtime if we wish.

So far this week, we've talked about invertebrates and studies Sponges (week 2 of my plans), Cnidarians (week 3 of my plans) and today we'll read about Flatworms, Segmented Worms and Roundworms (week 4 of my plans).

On our day of sponges, we read Secrets of the Animal World: Sponges, Filters of the Sea and Sponges are Skeletons. We also skim read DK Animal and then Camille did her Sponges worksheet.

The next day we did Cnidarians and read, A Jellyfish is Not a Fish; Coral Reef Hideaway (about Sea Anenomes), Burgess' Seashore Book (chapters concerning jellyfish and sea anenomes) and then DK Animal. We skipped reading Secrets of the Animal World: Jellyfish, Animals with a Deadly Touch.

Today, we'll read Wiggling Worms at Work; Life in a Bucket of Soil (the chapters about worms) and What's Eating You? Parasites only what concerns roundworms. Or maybe we'll do it tomorrow instead. *Smile*


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Party in a Skyscraper

Camille (8), drew this all on her own.
I think the trips to New York City have inspired this,
but I can see her maturing in her thought process and capability.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Excited about Science

I just received an order from Rainbow Resource yesterday that contained a few books and items I've picked for our science studies this year and I'm like a little kid excited to explore and learn!

I was a bit scared to break away from anyone's idea of what to study for science and when (mainly The Well-Trained Mind) and now I'm just so grateful that we did. We're currently studying invertebrates with the lessons I created and having such a good time, even without the experiments I had wanted to do. The Children of Summer by Margaret Anderson was such a great read for us, we were entranced by discoveries and lessons learned by the children and their Pére.

I have been too busy, stressed and what not to focus on our invertebrate study the way I had originally intended but I have a renewed focus and we will finish it by our 3rd grade/PreK start date of Sept. 15th. Yesterday we read, Sponges Are Skeletons by Esbensen (Let's Read and Find Out about Science, Level 2) and Secrets of the Animal World: Sponges, Filters of the Sea and really enjoyed ourselves. Today we'll do the worksheets I have for sponges and start reading about Cnidarians.

For 3rd grade, I decided a year devoted to Human Body, Cells and Plants would be a great idea and seeing the books come in, it feels like a cohesive plan! I was a little worried at first whether it would be as cohesive as I imagined but I'm bubbling over with excitement that it actually is!

We'll start the year with Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese (not Weiss, the storyteller) and have 10 weeks of learning about the Human Body and then I have to figure out the next step with wonderful resources I've found for learning about parasites, germs, cells, DNA and of course, John Tiner's The History of Medicine! By Spring, we'll transition into Botany and truly be able to connect the differences and similarities between plants and animals.

The year's flow will go like this:

Human Body general studies for 10 weeks
-using Head to Toe Science, Christian Liberty Nature Reader 5, My Body (by TCR) and other various subject specific books

Cells, Parasites, Germs and Viruses
-Using Cells and Processes, What are Germs?, What's Eating You? A book about parasites, Magic School Bus Kit on Germs, Microscope slides on Animal and Plant cells to use with Pocket Microscope (100x) power and other various subject specific books.

The History of Medicine with corresponding experiments that I need to still find. Spotlight on Science's Famous Experiments has a few (Sir Alexander Fleming, Edward Jenner, Gregor Mendel, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek, Robert Hooke, and Joseph Priestly)

I have many resources that I need to coordinate yet but most will be living books like Seed-Babies by Margaret Morley.

The kids are excited, even Danny who grabbed our Magic School Bus kit on Germs yesterday and excited said, "My school bus! My game!" They both wanted me to take our new stethoscope out of it's plastic wrapping so they could play with it. I told them not yet, we're still learning about invertebrates. I know Danny is going to be happy making his own body this year as Camille and I revisit Human Body studies.

I know I sound like a science geek and I don't care. We're having fun and reading wonderful books!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Character Building, 3rd Grade Goals

This year I want to focus on self-discipline, responsibility, truthfulness and self-motivation with Camille. In other words, I want her to develop good habits.

For the first quarter (9 weeks) we will focus on Willingness or Self-Motivation.
- We will read from the character book Write Upon My Heart, Willingness from Keepers of the Faith
- Camille and I will have daily talks about Willingness, and pray together about areas of improvement and praising successes.
- We will highlight Willingness and Self-Motivation in the books we read for history, science and literature.

For the second quarter (9 weeks) we will focus on Determination or Self-Discipline.
- We will read from the character book Write Upon My Heart, Determination from Keepers of the Faith
- Camille and I will have daily talks about Determination, and pray together about areas of improvement and praising successes.
- We will highlight Determination or Self-Discipline in the books we read for history, science and literature.

For the third quarter (9 weeks) we will focus on Truthfulness or Honesty.
- We will read from the character book Write Upon My Heart, Truthfulness from Keepers of the Faith
- Camille and I will have daily talks about Truthfulness, and pray together about areas of improvement and praising successes.
- We will highlight Truthfulness or Honesty in the books we read for history, science and literature.
*Truthfulness is not a habit I am trying to create, but I feel it is important to teach why being truthful is important.

For the fourth quarter (9 weeks) we will focus on Diligence or Perseverance.
- We will read from the character book Write Upon My Heart, Diligence from Keepers of the Faith
- Camille and I will have daily talks about diligence, and pray together about areas of improvement and praising successes.
- We will highlight Diligence or Perseverance in the books we read for history, science and literature.

We will also be developing these habits through our shared activities such as art lessons, craft time, Camille's piano practice, exercise and chores. I will keep a Caught You Being Good record of some type to praise her on a daily basis. I'm still contemplating how to accomplish this so that I will be diligent.

I will be focusing on my own habit developing with these areas and sharing with Camille my successes and areas of improvement after we talk about hers so that we can pray together for each other. Nine weeks is 63 days, a new habit can be developed in 21 days of continuous effort.


Friday, August 15, 2008

August 15th, Weekly Report

On the left are Danny's watercolor creations, on the right is Camille's watercolor creations.

Our new perpetual French calendar with a seasons and weather spinners.
This will be the kids' calendar and I'll write the English words for Danny.

State, State Capital, State Abbreviations, State Bird, State Flower, and State Flag
These U.S. states magnets were a gift from a homeschooling friend, here's the product page but we didn't buy these. We spent about 30 minutes this week finding the correct magnets for the states and had fun doing it. They take up a lot of space on my whiteboard so I hope to find another solution for displaying this. I'm contemplating putting them on the fridge but I'm afraid Danny will get ahold of them. We may get a magnetic board just for this so I can hang it above Danny's reach.

This new but bare pine cone fell from the sole tree in our yard and the kids were enthralled with it for about 2 hours.

This is an entry in Camille's nature journal of our Milkweed plant and Crepe Myrtle bush that we have in planters in our backyard. She drew herself in the picture. The Milkweed plant is now hosting a lot of Milkweed bugs. Our insect field guide said that they are harmless unless you're trying to cultivate Milkweed plants. Sigh. At least some type of wildlife is enjoying them, we were hoping for butterflies!

Other than these adventures, we have focused on Horizons 2 Math, Primary Language Lessons and reading aloud. We have been thoroughly enjoying Children of Summer by Margaret Anderson and Paddle-to-the Sea by Holling C. Holling. I have been planning out Horizons Preschool for Danny, and so far I have 3 weeks planned out in spreadsheets to make accomplishing the lesson plans easier for me.

We also explored our local library more and I am delighted to say that they have an excellent inventory of books, I may be using the library more, especially once I finish the books we have at home for preschool. For Danny this week, I checked out This is Soccer by Margaret Blackstone, because Danny is now signed up for soccer from Sept.-Nov. this year.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's wild!

I was glad to find this Rain Forest mural bulletin board set, the kids love it in their animal bedroom! Danny is seeing it for the first time. Camille helped me put it up so she learned all about the different layers of a rain forest informally. Now they can stare at it and memorize it. :) I need other biomes...
Here's the Rainforest set for $5.99 -,10978.html
There are other biome bulletin sets at that website!


Okay, I admit it.

I'm petrified of teaching both my children in the same day. I am. It boggles my mind how busy I'm going to be and while Danny hasn't been ignored while I've taught Camille, it isn't like I've been following two schedules simultaneously. I know it requires more of me and not only that but more discipline on my part. Petrified. I know it will work out, there are tons of successful homeschoolers that do it, it's just getting over the initial change, I'm sure.

These next two years will be very challenging as Danny and Camille essentially have different paths and focuses, I think it will be easier when they finally come together in 1st grade and 5th grade and join together in most of their studies.

We're beginning a new chapter, how cool and how scary all at the same time! I love my goofballs.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I didn't realize she loved PLL that much!

This morning Camille and I did her Primary Language Lessons work, 2-3 lessons worth because she asked to! It wasn't too long because one was an Observation Lesson (questions about everyday things that she answers verbally in complete sentences), a picture study with questions following (we skipped the story writing portion) and she did a written exercise on commas.

I explained to her that in 3rd grade (starts September 15th) we'd only have PLL two times a week, that it would be alternated with her Explode the Code work, which would also be twice a week. PLL on Monday and Tuesday, ETC on Wednesday and Thursday. She didn't like the sound of that.

"Mom, I love my English lessons, can we do them everyday?"
I told her we'd see how our days go because we'll have a busier day and she might appreciate only having them twice a week instead of everyday.

I didn't realize she loved Primary Language Lessons that much, I'm glad I went ahead and got the next level for 4th-6th, Intermediate Language Lessons.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Preschool Decisions to Make

We've decided to do preschool at home with Danny, so I'm planning out our Horizons Preschool days. I decided to give myself a help and create a spreadsheet of our days within a week. I've hit a wall because decisions have to be made.

In the curriculum, days 1, 3, 5 have new concepts being introduced while days 2 and 4 are just reinforcement of the concepts learned on days 1, 3, and 5. I started planning out 5 days of preschool but quickly realized this would not work with our Field Trip Friday. So do I want 3 or 4 days of preschool for Danny a week?

This is what a four day week would look like:

Or a 3 day week:

I want to keep the same concepts in a week and not introduce new ones especially on the last day of the week so we will use days 1, 3, and either 2 or 4 as the 3rd day for a 3 day preschool week. Of course, the concepts will be a part of his normal day too on the 4th day.

Decisions, decisions...


Reasons to Homeschool

This was asked recently on a forum I participate on, here's my answer:

1. Being able to be a Mom, in the whole sense of the word instead of being the Mom that wears so many hats she forgets which one she's wearing. I get to spend real time with my children, creating memories, being there for them- that is priceless in my eyes. I get to KNOW my kids, not just their favorite color, but truly get to know them and the people they are becoming as it happens.

2. Full control of academic pursuits- I don't have to worry about what they ARE being taught against our wishes, or what the other kids are teaching them. I can direct their activities to strengthen their weaknesses and help them excel in their strengths. No one will invest more than I will in my children.

3. Opportunities for more opportunities! We are not restricted other than by money to do whatever we want, if we really want to do something we will figure out how to do it. I am much more aware of my surroundings and we take full advantage of any and all museums, state parks, community activities and the like. My kids have gone on more field trips in 1-2 years than they would have in public school from K-8. And we're not even close to getting started!

4. I fully believe I was called to do this, for this season, God has called me to be at home and teach my children. There are times I feel so downtrodden and alone and when I come out of it, I see where it was actually a strengthening experience. I am a different person than I was when I first stared considering homeschool, much different and more blessed.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Art: Drawing with Children

When I first read The Well-Trained Mind, I wanted to follow it to a T so that I could be confident in our first year. Having something to lean on helped greatly while I grew and learned many lessons myself, one of those lessons was that my child may not be ready for what others have deemed appropriate for her level, such as Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes.

Camille was not ready to start these lessons after doing all her other studies, we needed something much more simple, pick up and go and I desired art to be studied alongside history as much as possible so instead of using Drawing with Children, we used Artistic Pursuits. Since using Artistic Pursuits, we have used different mediums, tried different techniques and have developed the patience that creating art sometimes requires. For example, this mosaic project we did when we studied the Hagia Sophia in history.

Camille decided to replicate mosaic work from the Hagia Sophia as her art project that week. We both worked on this because 20 minutes into the 2 hour project Camille tired of it and left me with many little mosaic squares to put together. I probably should have had her continue her work but Danny worked against us, he wanted to play with Camille and I just let it go, knowing that we accomplished one key thing- the planning of an art project. We picked out the colors and aligned the squares of the cross as much like the mosaic we were trying to duplicate as possible. Here's the finished product...

I did all those white and green squares outside of the cross. This art project stayed prominently displayed in her room until we moved and decided to purge it. She would show everyone who visited her project. This year we've been drawing more as we have been sketching in our nature journals.

As I've seen her grow in patience, willingness to listen, and in natural artistic ability- I feel we're ready to start Drawing with Children. I'm excited because I've never been formally taught to draw and I find drawing very relaxing. Instead of looking at our art lessons as something to check off our list, √ Art lessons, I want to spend this time with my children and enjoy it. Savoring the time with them doing activities like art lessons, crafts and music appreciation is not only beneficial to their academic lives, but a way to commune with them in an ageless way. One of my hopes for this year is that the kids and I can learn to enjoy and treasure our time together in a productive way, hopefully creating new hobbies for Camille and myself in the process.

From the veterans I've met and other homeschoolers far wiser than I am at this stage, I've heard that their children didn't thank them for teaching history in a certain way, or for being diligent in math, their adult children thank them for the character building and the time their parents spent with them. I don't want to check art or music off my list, I want to enjoy the subjects with my children and create memories.

Here are some helps for Drawing with Children:

Barb of Harmony Fine Arts has created Drawing with Children via Nature Study lessons
she also created a lens page,

Information about Drawing with Children at and other drawing curricula.
Lesson plans one mom wrote for Drawing with Children

Extra practice sheets

If you know of any others, please leave links in the comments and I'll put them in the post.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Weekly Report, August 8

Technically we're still in 2nd grade, just finishing up our studies and I don't know what number week we're on, we're just using August to finish. 3rd grade will start September 15th, preschool is being done informally right now and I plan to start Danny the same time as Camille.

Because of the way this year has gone, we're able to have a fairly light August and start our 3rd/PreK year a little heavier than what I would typically do.

Bible: We started the Keepers of the Faith character book- Willingness and it has made a change in Camille this week. Her chores are being done without reminding, she has a more pleasant attitude. I've really focused this week on teaching moments for both of the kids and I'm seeing the fruits, even in little ways from the time spent doing that.

Math: I am glad to say that we will finish Horizons 2 before our September start date! We completed lessons 134-139 this week and if we continue in this way, lesson 160 will be done on September 8th and I can give Camille some time off from math until the 15th when we will start Horizons 3! Whew. All I can say is...what a year.

Camille is doing multiplication fact copywork, we are reviewing our skip counting songs (I prefer Ron Brown's Intelli-Tunes Skip Counting cd), and we're reading a few math literature books. Right now we have The Best of Times - Math Strategies That Multiply by Greg Tang and Harry Briggs from the library. A friend says that Times Tales is working for her, I'm waiting to see how our daily practice and using what we have will work out for Camille.

French: I've been practicing with Écoutez, Parlez! myself this week and renewing my goal to make this an integral part of our lives. The only thing I worry about is Danny, I don't want the exposure to French to stifle his speaking progress. I've decided to make a conversational reminder on our bulletin board which is in plain sight. A French calendar will go up as well in our learning room so that Camille and I can practice telling each other what day it is. On the current conversation reminder is:

Bonjour, comment t'appelles-tu? (Hello, what is your name?)
Je m'appelle Camille. (My name is Camille.)

Il s'appelle Danny. (His name is Danny.)
Elle s'appelle Camille. (Her name is Camille.)
Elles s'appellent Camille et Jessica. (The girls names are Camille and Jessica.)

Comment ça va? (How are you?)
Ça va mal. (I am not well.)
Ça va bien. (I am well.)
Ça va comme ci comme ça. (I am okay. or I am so so.)

Then I have 3 two part conversations that have us ask how we are doing and responding, as well as asking about how other people are doing. We have covered this many times but since we've taken such a long break, we need to review.

Poetry: Camille reviewed the last few poems she was working on and we found that a few need work so she is currently working on Rain by Robert Louis Stevenson and Singing by Robert Louis Stevenson. I might have her skip Happy Thought by RLS and Purple Cow by Gellett Burgess and just move on to The Secret Song by Margaret Wise Brown. After typing that I think that IS what we'll do. After she masters Rain and Singing, we'll move onto The Secret Song and if she masters that before September 15th, then we'll do Happy Thought and Purple Cow. I feel the completion of The Secret Song is more valuable than the shorter poems because I chose that particular poem as a 'next stage' poem, a way to show Camille that I have faith in her to start memorizing longer poems.

Danny is working on nursery rhymes, whichever fits his fancy that day. :)

TOG/History: This week we have read The New Americans by Maestro and will finish Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling over the weekend. Camille colored a picture of Iroquois warriors.

Science: We had nature study this week and we're reading about invertebrates, for science literature we're reading Children of Summer by Margaret J. Anderson and enjoying it very much! I haven't had Camille do the worksheets that I intended but will remedy that this coming week.

We have a new piano teacher for the month of August, due to unforeseen circumstances we will have another new teacher in September. Either way, Camille is glad to be doing lessons again. We are going today to get a copy of Danny's birth certificate so that I can finish registering him in SOCCER. He will not be attending an outside preschool but will be running his heart out on a regular basis. Dh is enthused too and got Danny his own little soccer ball with goal cones to practice in the backyard.

The plan is to have Danny play soccer for a season and see how things go. I'm going to continue working with him at home (of course) on his academics and discipline issues. We are on the waiting list at a local Karate school and Danny may do that after the soccer season. I'm just praying that he will be able to play soccer, we're signing up at the end of the registration period and we've never done this before.

We had tea this week with animal crackers while I read Children of Summer, it was supposed to be a fairy tale but the kids wanted me to start reading the book about insects instead. We have our needlepoint projects for first quarter, I will take pictures soon and I'm working on a plan of action for Drawing With Children.

Danny is working on tracing his Aa's and Bb's and completing his chores, as well as obeying the first time. :) Our mascot, Jack has seen the vet and is scheduled to be neutered (yay!). The visit to the vet's office was very trying with a puppy and little boy super excited at all the new canine friends to make. I was given the news that Jack will calm down more with age so I am resigned to wait both of them out, Danny and Jack. Danny was scared that Jack wouldn't come back home with us when Jack was taken into another room to get weighed. "Mom, Jack going with Magnum?" (Magnum was our previous dog that passed away last October.) "No Danny, they are just finding out how much Jack weighs and he'll be right back." Danny smiled, "Okay, we take Jack home!"


Thursday, August 7, 2008

It would make things easier but...

I can't send Danny to preschool somewhere else. It would be the easy answer, he would have someone else to listen to other than Mom all the time. We butt heads a lot, Danny and me. It has been a decision hanging in the air for a month now, whether to send Danny to preschool.

I have Horizons Preschool curriculum and I want to use it with him but that's not a deciding factor in this. I could use the curriculum even if he went to a preschool program. Another caveat I had was that if he was to go, it had to be part-time. I didn't want him in an all-day program all week long. We found a preschool that offers 2 or 3 days a week from 8:00 am -12:00 pm. When I discovered that there WAS a program that fit what I was looking for, it confused me even more.

Danny and I have good days and we have bad ones. He is just as sweet as he is stubborn- and he's just like his mom in a lot of ways. I wouldn't trade the snuggle time with him reading a book for anything. He narrates back to me, I read a book to him and then he says, "I do it," and flips back to the beginning and mumbles through the pages telling me the story, sometimes it's understandable and sometimes it's gibberish.

I have a feeling that preschool would probably do more good than harm for Danny. He has separation issues, tests my authority (all. the. time.), he's okay to play with other children for a short time but I'm not sure how he would do when he shares and interacts within a longer period. I told my dh that I would rather find an activity for Danny like soccer or karate than put him in preschool. Something that fulfills what we feel Danny needs plus PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. My goodness, I think he needs to RUN. Run, run, run. Tire him out please! Lol.

It would have been easy to put Danny in preschool. It would make teaching Camille's 3rd grade year a little easier too. I know God has a purpose in making Danny the way he is, I know there is a calling on my part to perhaps be a little more patient, consistent, creative and loving.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Backyard Nature Study

The toad will be released later today and the other two pictures are of what we think is a black slug. Black slugs eat dog feces. We watched the slug for about 30 minutes this morning.