Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Market in Vienna


Lippizaner Visit in Vienna

Quite a Treat to See and Hear at the Spanish School

G2 in Budapest Christmas Market

Love this form of cinnamon roll!

Kids in front of St. Stephen's in Vienna


GI so excited to create something edible!

Changes in the Kitchen

There used to be a wall directly in front of me which separated the kitchen and dining room.  I found a link to the view from the other side of the wall when the kids were younger working on a science experiment (  The project took some time to engineer, but IKEA and prayer that we could make the changes were essential.  So glad to enjoy it for a while before ever having to move again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Busy, Good

We've been absent from the blog for a couple of months because of travel and activity.  I'm constantly stunned when asked about socializing my 3Gs.  It really isn't a problem.  Travel to Turkiye in late September found us near the border of Syria on a non-warring evening, then to Cappadokia and a non-muezzin neighborhood of Istanbul.  Then in November, we traveled through Frankfurt to Vienna and Budapest. So, you'd think I had more to write about, which is quite true, but I'm dealing with grading math papers instead. Oh, and I didn't mention that the kitchen here is quite re-done since Labor Day when the Daddy gave us permission to take down a wall, replace the drywall, hire an electrician, hire a carpenter and helped us install cabinets in order to enjoy for the unknown time we get to live here. 

Pictures are available, but those math papers are calling my attention.


Today, G3 began Saxon 6/5. He is not even flinching as I move him to lesson 25 because seasoned, face-to-face, homeschool moms advised me that the materials prior are review.  Well, I remarked that most of each new lesson is review, so it wasn't such a tough idea to grasp.  Factoring numbers... not a problem for G3, but the review questions aren't really bumps in his path either.  {So glad that we moved his math day to later in the week, as Mondays were painful for EVERYONE}

I was reading in blog, homeschool moms' articles recently and found this piece about math curriculum choices for my kids,  I've used the first and second products exclusively with my Gs and been satisfied with that move.  Actually, the kindergarten teacher that G1 had years ago began us in Saxon Math.  She was trained in the method, but I didn't quite understand and thus I used the first choice mentioned in the above article for four years.  We are transitioning back into Saxon Math, and I'm reassured of this choice by the enthusiasm of classroom teachers I know and love. 

Wow, I never would have imagined teaching elementary math as a homeschool mom (science or history is more probable), but here we are in year six of this journey. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Goodbye Elk Grove Pool

We've enjoyed finding this pool since last October when the homeschool kids' swim lessons ended and the teacher advised we do more swimming for ENDURANCE. So, when the director of the facility gave our homeschool group the resident rate, we snapped up the opportunity to spend more time at the pool during the winter months.  The pool is in the right direction for us on Tuesdays and sometimes on Thursday, but our kids decided that the summer pool experience that they traded for winter swimming was tough.  You see, their friends visited our nearby pool more often than we could without a pass.
This coming summer we will spend the swim fees on a summer pass to the 2 nearer village pools instead of the year-round pass to the distant village pool. These three will get to swim in December for sure and maybe some in the late winter, but they continue to gain ENDURANCE while exercising elsewhere that can only support their swim skills. Very glad for the time we spent in the pool over the past year. FUN FUN FUN!

Monday, September 24, 2012

G#2 Goes to Disneyland!

Little Girls in Disneyland

Primary goal is to visit the Princess Court. Done.

Second goal is to hear the lion roar at the hotel. Done.

Third goal is to ride "It's a Small World" several times. Done.

Along the way, take lots of pictures of the topiary because those are cool. Done.

Finally, you have to ride "Soarin'" for the complete experience. Well, there was the cool stuffed animal thing too. Done.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


September is such a wonderful month on my calendar. I've traveled to return a visit to a long-time friend and took the boys along to see Lake Superior for the first time.  We visited a new airport along the way and G#1 got to do an unaccompanied minor trip to boost his growing confidence. 

I would always live at the average temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 50% relative humidity, but that is not always the case in this county east of the Mississippi River.  But to encourage others in September is so much easier when I've been encouraged by the cooler weather and settling into our school schedule. (more about school schedule's later)

My long-time friend is a strong lady and has taken on the job of educating her very bright children at home because of the classroom choices she faced.  I've been ready to see her across this threshold, but praying for her just the same.  I was able to leave this Dayspring Card as I left her home last weekend expressing my gratitude (my opinions are negative about cards available at the store, but I've a growing appreciation of Dayspring words). 

I was allowed to pass along these greetings for free based on the opportunity a fellow home educator informed me about.  But, really, I feel the urge to encourage others often, and don't because I'm moving so many "balls" in the air or, plainly, too busy.  Thanks to Dayspring for decent cards to encourage and thanks to my friend for the visit. And to inCourage it's a wonderful place with helpful words (a love language I'm not well-versed in, and necessary for the edification of my marriage).

AND, thanks to my boys for making it a wonderful visit with my friend's kids.  My boys did the two subjects of school work I asked of them last week, along with their sister.  However, the boys didn't get to go to Mickey-land like their sister did. (more about Disneyland later)  They've been in the past as an invitation to the Daddy's sister, and they were truly glad for their sister to get to Disneyland only after she had done the same amount of school work she had done.  Justice must be done in the eyes of a logic stage male. YIKES!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Can't Hear Myself !

G#2 was beside herself.  She could NOT hear herself in the band ensemble practices that took place last school year while playing the flute. So this year, I gave her the choice between the trumpet, trombone or alto saxophone that my mom still had from when my brothers and I were kids.  Miss Fussy herself chose the trumpet.  I had the whole machine worked over at the music store for a small fortune and promised a trumpet lesson if she learned 7 note fingerings.  This child has taken several years of piano lessons as well as attempting the flute last year.  I knew she could get those notes figured out. Then came the afternoon when she actually got the lesson to learn about how to hold the trumpet and sit up straight so her feet could touch the floor.  She also learned out to "buzz" the mouthpiece.  She is overjoyed to be able to play C, D, E, F and G now after her lesson.  I'm even willing to take her for more lessons after she works at maintaining the buzz and those notes for some time.  This is such an accomplishment for her!  She is in no way in favor of this band participation even though she loves the visit with other band kids every Thursday evening.  I'm thrilled that the trumpet from my 2nd brother's band years is living again in the hands of this little Miss G. 

Dayspring Challenged Me

It really isn't my fault. I hit some Dayspring Cards link and they said that they would send me some cards if I'd just send them and tell of the experience. So, I've sent one to my Uncle John. He's older than the hills and broken his hip, but finally on the mend and needs a giggle. I've sent him this U-NEEKS get well card.  He's always been big on hunting and working union jobs. He's mostly on his own except for his remaining siblings and his devoted niece, Lisa. She is quite a work also, and I'm so glad she is up to the task of dealing with his medicare paperwork as she encourages him from the nearby. I'm only able to send this cute get well card of a puppy saying HEAL - aka= get well from the far-away. And pray for those who work with Uncle John and his healing.
Dayspring Cards says these are kids' cards and they may be, but I sent one today to a kid-at-heart. And I pray it encourages him to get well! More about U-NEEKS card stories to come - STAND-BY.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Earth Science and Astronomy

The first attempt at ES experiments for this year was very tasty b/c it involved chocolate.

Memories of Summer Reading

G#3: I read/listened to Wind and the Willows (which was 5 hours), Operation Mincemeat, 4 or 5 Encyclopedia Browns , and other stuff I can't remember. In Wind and the Willows, toad, mole, Rattie, badger, and more were characters.  Encyclopedia Brown is himself.

G#2:  I read about Deadrie, and it was ok. I also read some other things I can’t remember.  One of the authors was named Jennifer L. Holm.  I like her now, and most of my books I read now are her booksJ. Some of the books are called Turtle in Paradise ( #1 that I read,) Boston Jane, An Adventure (#2 that I read), Penny From Heaven (#3 that I read) and another Boston Jane, (it is a seriesJ!) Wilderness Days (#4 that I am reading).

G#1:  I read the Star Wars Clone Wars novel. This story is about Anakin and getting his Padawan, Ahsoka tano.  The Star Wars story was in Christophsis and in Tantooine.  In the end, The baby Hutt was returned to Jabba the Hutt.  Yes. It was not the best ending but I guess it had to happen.
And I started to read a Poirot book from Agatha Christie, because I like the tv show, that I will have to finish sometime.  And the Poirot was about the murder of a very stuck-up and some-what rich man.  The Poirot story takes place in London, England.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


So important to understand from what point you are seeing things. Webster's defines perspective as "to look through, see clearly, aid vision."  Reading glasses help me see clearly while the Bible aids my vision and how I see things through my reading glasses.

What are you reading that helps you see "things" more clearly?  Will it help you reach the answers to your questions?  Is it a window that is treated with color or pattern?

We are beginning the Logic Stage Medieval / Earth Science-Astronomy year of the classical education pattern.  After reading some stories about Beowulf, do you understand better why people do things the way they do? Fear. Honor. Pride. Necessity. Classics are good for bringing these perspectives to light.  So glad my kids are reading and talking about what they read.  Simply filling in blanks of a worksheet just won't do the learning job now.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

If you could study one thing all year long...

G#1 is at AWANA camp, but G#2 says she'd study art or math. G#3 says he'd stick with spelling or math.
Don't be deceived, I'm not deleting science or history for either. But, is there a way to teach  either with math, spelling or art? Yep, & I'm almost ready to start their 6th year of home education. Very soon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Science is EASY in Summertime

I've mentioned that these 3Gs studied science and history TOGETHER during the grammar stage even though they are 16 months apart in age.  That means many times they were able to divide and conquer my attentions, divert me from the topic, and in order to manage the "classroom," I followed many of their RABBIT TRAILS. I didn't take elementary teacher training. The secondary methods I learned were very different from what was necessary when dealing with these three, young, bright children.  So, many of the topics in our first/second grade study of earth science and astronomy were not covered at all.  They picked up the concepts through osmosis and acquaintance with other lessons, but simple experiments that many others might do just didn't happen when there were so many other topics to cover. Plus, I was a little obsessed with their sitting at desks.  Their little bodies just didn't sit well for long enough duration to watch the vinegar dissolve the seashells. Even today as we watched the seashells dissolve, there were many other events taking place concurrently. 

My 3Gs are traveling and involved in many activities this summer. Each is being blessed by an individual's week with the Utah grandparents.  There was vbs at our church for a week and drama camp at another church for a week.  There was an experience for one to do a culinary camp and another to do an art camp with friends.  There are visits with friends, library reading time and swim time. There is an opportunity to visit the Iowa grandparents for a county fair experience.  Rarely are all three children here together during the summer.  I wanted to do a little school during the summer which included math practice and science interactions.  My goal was to work through simple Janice VanCleave Earth Science and Astronomy experiments as far as possible because there won't be time to try any of these during the school year with Elemental Science's Logic Stage ESA.  I LOVE Earth Science and Astronomy. I'm delighted with how it relates to other studies and how the topics are ever present in daily life.  I endure discussions of my three tween children in order to persevere for science experiments.  It's so worth it when they share what they saw with each other as one travels away.  They will refer back to some of these experiments we are attempting even if it's not all 101 ideas from the book.  And, it isn't torture to do a simple experience with household materials for a few minutes each day that may even be individual work causing more pride in their own work.

Are you trying any school this summer? Are you in a hurry to start the next school year?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elemental Science Prep for this Fall

Highlighters & underlines with sticky notes a plenty. Yes, this means the KSE & UISE will have marks in the book if I ever resell. But, my kids won't be able to say they can't find the definitions to terms or what to outline on the page when they look at all the aids I'm plugging in.  I will slowly decrease the amount of these aids as I move through preparation of the books for this fall, but last year I gave them Paige's discussion questions as well as her definition of vocabulary terms from the start.  They had to find their own answers to the discussion questions, but I helped them go over the answers before they were allowed to put the notebook page in their science binders each week.  This was done in order to straighten out the misunderstandings and lack of detail from each page covered.  This year, they will slowly be outlining instead of answering discussion questions (which are really part of the outline anyway) and deciphering from the KSE and UISE what each definition for vocabulary terms should be before they come to me to go over the material.  The life of 5th and 6th graders around here just got more challenging, but I know they will handle it BRILLIANTLY. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

End of 4th/5th Grade

They look a little shaggy, but according to G#1 he's ok with that b/c he gets to eat what he wants for lunch at whatever time he wants; G#2 is ok with it because she is looking forward to the next field trip that involves time aboard an airplane; and G#3 because he gets to spend his whole day in pajamas if he wants. So the official last day ceremony and events takes place today. We'll see if the Daddy can handle all he has planned including the baseball game with fireworks tonite.

Homeschool Attempt to View the Transit of Venus

Tuesday, June 5th we attempted to tape the small binoculars to the Daddy's camera tripod and see the image of Venus transiting across the sun projected on a sheet of paper.

My junior astronomers continued their studies of Astronomy a little out of schedule. We follow a Well Trained Mind Classical Education model of arranging our curriculum. That said, astronomy was part of the 1st/2nd grade year and will be part of our fall studies in 5th/6th grade.  But the transit of a near planet doesn't happen everyday.  We were able to see a faint, circular image of the sun lightened on the binocular shadow AND the dark dot of Venus on that circle.  G#2 and I then followed the proceedings after dinner on a website broadcasting the transit from Mt. Mauna Loa NASA observatory.  She was so anxious not to miss this event and stayed away from neighborhood kid time play in order to watch the experience.  She knew that it wouldn't take place again for over a hundred years and didn't want to miss it. 

We've made a request from an uncle who has welding training to gift us a welder's helmet for Christmas so we won't have to deal with the tripod anymore.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Green Grammar Practice

 And besides the fact that the marker is green, he used dry erase on a sheet protector to do grammar instead of marking on the paper.  We will use this Rod and Staff page again in a few days when his sister does this same lesson. An added plus is that he didn't turn green (sick) while doing grammar today.

Adverb Use work for G#3, but G#1 finished the 5th Grade book today.  G#3 is ahead of his brother's progress at this point and is having more fun in language study than he will EVER let on to any of us. 

BTW, G#1 wrote his first key word outline for IEW's All Things Fun & Fascinating today.  He was pleased and will attempt to re-write the paragraph from HIS outline tomorrow.  G#1 may or may not enjoy the task, but we can only try it to see if he will.  Pray he enjoys the re-write tomorrow. 

Update:  It is quite amazing what happens when a student has a foundation of solid grammar study.  Even when I can't administer the IEW checklist or the AFF directions, this G#1 enjoyed writing a keyword outline AND rewriting the paragraph the next day from his own outline.  He then accomplished the same feat again for the second paragraph and keyword outline. Maybe he'll be able to write when he needs to someday, but for today, he has a clue.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Circulatory System Lab Before/ After

All this time, The Daddy has been donating blood when it is his turn at the local blood drive.  Sometimes, he is able to donate platelets. We've never understood what that meant until now. So, a  Circulatory System lesson from Elemental Science Logic Stage Biology brought us a little closer to the background of blood and it's pieces parts.  The most important thing to us about the Daddy donating blood however, was the ice cream coupon when his session was completed. 
Is that an incentive or what!?!?!?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More Ideas for Curriculum, But This Time 6th & 5th Grade

I've never done this before. I'm planning for 6th and 5th grade homeschool curriculum and I don't have a clue if it'll work.  Yes, SWB says that it will work (the Well Trained Mind), but will it really.  Last year I had grand visions for foreign language study, which didn't happen here. I was going to try to implement a literature approach to history, um, nope, didn't swing that one either. See last year's plan here:
So, after considering the general direction laid out in previous school years per this list: 

2010-11 Curriculum (with Well Trained Mind recommendations) 3rd and 4th Grade
Artistic Pursuits K-3 bk 3, Awana -- TandT, Physics for the Grammar Stage, Rod and Staff Grammar 5, First Language Lessons 3, Flags around the World: Latin America , Delta and Epsilon MathUSee, Handwriting w/ Donna Young Helps, Ocean Habitat with Swimming Things, First Start French at Memoria Press, Latina Christiana, Saxon 5/4 2nd ed., Spelling Workout DandE, Mango for Libraries, Story of the World 4, CBS- Daniel, Colossians and 1-2 Peter 

2009-10 Curriculum for 2nd and 3rd Grade
Artistic Pursuits, AWANA, Chemistry for the Grammar Stage, Explode the Code 7&8, First Language Lessons, Flags Around the World: Africa, Gamma & Delta MathUSee, Handwriting for a Reason, Kids 4 Truth Devotionals, Ocean Habitat, Prima Latina, Saxon2and3, Spelling Workout CandD, Story of The World 3

I've come to the conclusion that I can only wrangle so much out of my 3Gs.  For 5th and 6th Grade around here we will pursue the Medieval stage of history by a visit to sources from Gombrich, Synge, SWBMarshall and Hillyer.  Those authors don't cover everything, so sometimes we won't visit them all each week.  I haven't decided if there will be a series of historical fiction that ties well into our needs as The Roman Mysteries did in the ancient stage.  The red Kingfisher will be consulted on a regular basis and Usborne History Encyclopedia will be used for the Internet links to graphics for our notebook pages.  Haaren and Poland's Famous Men of the Middle Ages  is very easy to use in car school as we travel from here to there. 

Math is delving into the Saxon realm deeply.  I was given the Math-U-See Epsilon book and will finish that with each G, but after that, the Daddy takes over the Math train around here.  Grammar is planted in Rod and Staff camp until the end of year 6, then we dive deep into Latin from Memoria Press.  Spelling is almost over for this 6th grader. He will spend more time each day on Spelling Workout H.  It will definitely stretch him.  The twins will work through level F for their year and maybe even attempt a bit of Level G if they wish to excel there.

Science for this year is anchored by the Elemental Science Astronomy and Earth Science materials for the Logic Stage.  I'm adding in Charles Kingsley's Madam How and Lady Why just because we didn't do many read alouds four years ago when "divide and conquer the mommy" worked so well to end science time.  There are also pieces of Dinah Zike's Big Book of Science Middle School that will be handy (kinesthetically speaking).  I was an earth science teacher and look forward to sharing some time with hand lens out wandering rock piles.

We'll continue with Community Bible Study for the books of Mark, Galatians and Ephesians.  AWANA will continue to be a part of our week too.  I look forward to how home school band participation works out.  There will be a percussionist and clarinetist, but maybe not a flute.  We still have our swim passes at the indoor pool a village over and we'll do all kinds of other activities including soccer.  Our art book from several years ago will be recycled and more mature artist will try again at the different projects.  I also plan to use DK's Medieval Life for 5 pages a week examination of various subjects that will involve sketches in our history notebooks. 

Finally, we will have a summer look into the human geography of Oceania per our study of flags around the world.  I hope to develop a second swing through all the flags we've studied, but add something more analytical about flag vexillology to each in order to develop our knowledge further.  The final habitats to study are grasslands and mountains per the Hands of a Child materials we've used in the past.  So much to do and yet a bit more realistic than ever before.  The schedule and checklist that we've come up with over the past few weeks is working well and I hope to continue that too.  It'll be another adventure with field trips that require passports, and maybe the last, but always together teaching to the moment.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Update from April and May 2012: N.C., science w/ bones and band concert

Elemental Science Logic Stage Life Science brought us to a lesson on the human body about skeletons.  My kids were fascinated that I found chicken bones, because I don't usually serve chicken on the bone.  We talked about how the bone reacted to the differing conditions in the experiment. 

The home school band concert for the end of the school year was so well done!  Each G participated to some degree or another. They like band or at least the opportunity to socialize at band each week. One enjoys the percussion section and moves around like a man on a pogo stick. The next is in a very supportive flute section, but can't hear herself play.  The last doesn't think he does well playing the clarinet, but he does play well according to the clarinet people I've met and consulted with. Either way, this experience helped them grow a little each week throughout the year and we plan to continue in the future with a few tweaks to our system.

Our April adventure involved a trip to visit family who live on the Atlantic Coast in North Carolina.  There was so much oceanography involved on the first day when we spent time on the beach that I couldn't even admit it was time to leave. Dolphin, brown pelicans dive fishing, hermit crabs, jelly fish, drainage patterns, turtle sanctuaries and more. We visited to the USS North Carolina Battleship too.

Successful Home School Conference Visit

I got to hear Dinah Zike and the Daddy got to hear 4 speakers who were very helpful. Fun day!

The 3Gs got to be with my parents who came in from the Iowa farm to celebrate Mother's Day with us. Brilliant Weekend visit!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel book review: Let's Take the Kids to London (4th Ed)

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book with the expectation that I would provide an honest review.

Having traveled to Europe several times (including to London) with our own children (aged 8 and 10 at the time), we have a pretty good idea of how to see London with kids.  We can enthusiastically recommend this book as not just a great guide for taking kids to London as well as a valuable resource for planning any trip with children.  It will certainly help the travelling family get the best experience for their money.

The book is laid out in typical guidebook fashion, with sites grouped by theme (parks, museums, history, etc.) with each site briefly described with good comments on its value (some are described as tacky, which is certainly true) as well as a summary of hours, cost, transport, and other details.  This book has few pictures and is printed in black, white and pink.  It reminds us of the format used by Fodor’s.

The author suggests a couple walking tours which are well-designed.

A couple things that the author left out which we think are helpful:  At Westminster Abbey, they have a kid’s scavenger hunt that really keeps the kids occupied while helping the adults (who are helping the kids) really see the detail of this magnificent building.

Our criticism would be that in an effort to avoid publishing actual prices (which admittedly can change quickly) for various attractions, he has only provided a qualitative statement (e.g. Moderate, Expensive) without providing a range of what these costs might be.  However, these comments are enough to give you a general idea of cost, especially in relation to others.  Since he has provided web addresses for most locations, the prudent traveler can check prices ahead of time at home.

It’s certainly worth spending some time to get the kids of the couch for a few weeks before your trip to exercise so they can keep up with the walking. It would be useful to discuss culture and history before you go in order to appreciate and put things in context.

The more general travel tips at the back of the book provides great suggestions and well-learned tips on how to plan for execute a trip.  Chapters on Money, Internet and phones, British terminology and transport are useful for anyone making their first trip to the UK—with or without kids.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Far East Study

Someone once asked me if my kids would study anything more than Southwest Asia, Europe, North Africa and the USA. Well, that's where my interest is, so it seemed obvious to start there.  But, SOTW Ancients helped us find India and China this past 2 weeks for four chapters, and the notebooking pages are filling with interest beyond my expectations.  First, each student listened/read the four SOTW chapters, and then they either went to Gombrich's Little History of the World or Hillyer's Children's History of the World depending on content materials.  There was a resource that Jimmie at Notebooking Fairy provided free that enticed handwriting and composition about both Buddhism and Hinduism. The content for each subject was added to by Schlessinger Media and their teacher guides on Ancient India and Hinduism.  I also included a Discovery Education video about ancient China.  A couple of Dover Publications resources included fashion and art.  Top that off with a map from Dr. Bauer and it made for a rather complete view of Ancient India and China before going back to Ancient Rome next week. 

I also included Michael Palin's Full Circle videos this week.  I enjoyed his visits Around the World in 80 Days and Pole to Pole.  So when I found this travel video around the Pacific Rim and to many of our Asian flag countries for this year, I made time for media.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

It's spring and difficult to focus on school. AWANA Games came along to rescue us this week. All three Gs are busy each evening this week preparing for all the physical competition involved.  A big thank you to their adult team leaders as I praise God for them everyday. What wonderful examples for my kids to see.

Otherwise, we commenced with Bible study, math, spelling (G#1 nailed his pretest and put away spelling for the week), grammar, history (boys on gladiators and girl on Punic Wars), science (reptiles), flags (North AND South Korea), habitat and band practice.  We listened to the second chapter of Famous Men of Rome and reviewed the SOTW Ch23 Greek and roman mythology names. 

Primer was applied to the garage door and the Daddy traveled to the left coast for work.  I got to the Goodwill donation center with 3 large trash bags of stuff that needed to go (PURGED). It doesn't seem like we just had a two week break. Maybe the end of our school year will sneak up on us, and we'll be done with 5th and 4th grades!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What a VIEW!

G#3:  I can see forever on one of Brighton's ski runs. What a day!
(and he grew 2" taller on this trip.
Then he came home, edited, printed, finished HIS narrations
from the Roman Mysteries series-all of them)

Thursday, March 8, 2012


G#3 says that he'd prefer a stay-cation instead of trying to get on the plane. But, he's not complaining as he plays with his sister and cousin in Salt Lake City today under Gramma and Papa's guidance. 

G#1 is happy enough to stay-cate at home as he reviews the Star Wars Episode One and keeps up on his yoga with the Wii today. He also started to read The Bronze Bow today after he finished learning about events which take place a little later in history with the Roman Mysteries

I'm reading a book along with the daddy for a source of discussion about something besides kids, work and life. Live From Jordan is proving to give us something to discuss that we have in common.  Something to read while we commence our travel tomorrow is helpful also, because we never know how long we'll be in the airport waiting for seats to open up on a plane. 

But for now, no school work is being done.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Checking In with Weekly Report

Ok, so y'all are always posting weekly accomplishments and I'm the sluggard who is just trying to keep up on who ate last and who is going where. So, here is a run down or sum up of what point we are in the schedule for 4th and 5th grades. 

G#2 started a week earlier than her brothers because she was ready while they were still playing with legos until noon back in August. She is completing Week 26 of an approximately 40 week schedule for 4th grade.  She read and finished all the sources for the Story of the World chapter 28 about the Roman Empire. She enjoyed a video about Ancient Roman art from Harmony Arts Mom's 5th grade plans.  She learned some new words from Spelling Workout lesson 26.  She is done with Rod and Staff English 5 lesson 56 and Saxon 5/4 lesson 73.  She survived flute in homeschool band for week 18 along with her brothers as well as read about Mongolia after moving all the way East in Asia from the Mediterranean Sea.  Her habitat studies have her and her brothers in the rainforest with the Hands of a Child crew answering a question in paragraph format regarding why the rainforest is a great place for animals to live.  She was especially grateful for poor weather this week as it was the Elemental Science Logic Stage Life Science week for Amphibians and a frog dissection. The dissection which needs to be done outside was postponed until better weather hits the Chicagoland area.  Our CBS lessons took us to Genesis 33 and it was a nice change to have more action from Bible study.

G#1&#3 both sailed through the same habitat, flags, CBS, science and art lessons. They both have their own grammar, spelling and math lessons which keep them busy.  History finds them in chapter 25 of SOTW and notebook pages from our 2009 Rome field trip were completed with pictures of each kid in historic locales.  G#1 finished reading the final book of the Roman Mysteries and wrote a short narration to complete his collection which will get printed out and placed in his history binder.

We were all active for gym time on Tuesday and enjoyed time with friends on the ice for homeschool kids ice skating time.  So much activity is initiated around here from time off the couch while playing the Wii games.  I actually allowed a library Wii game after each G completed the winter reading program from our local library on Wednesday. I'm so glad for the freedom to move in and out of the library during a regular school day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo

This book was about a family who face tough health experiences and continue to communicate their fears and share their strengths.  Through all the struggles with his sons health over a few short years, this dad relates what his son learned while very ill and near death. 

I wouldn't have picked this book because it seemed so real to loose a kid. I spend 24/7/365 with my kids as a homeschool parent. I'm glad that each of my kids is learning to know, love and serve a risen Savior.  I don't even watch movies based on real life events, so that's why I would not have regularly chosen this book as these parents watched their son slip in and out of a coma.  These parents work hard and do so much to teach/love their children.

But, it did express an idea of hope, which is all I have to glean from it. I received Heaven is for Real via an account at and am glad to see others enjoy the book more than I did. 

Some Words Just Don't Work for ME

Some words are very easy to say. Accidentally, luckily, coincidentally...  Those words are just not that helpful. They don't tell the whole story about the fact that things happen as a logical sequence of events that I've started OR that someone other than myself have started. Doesn't mean I'm a fatalist, it just means that the words accident, lucky and coincidental are used way too much.
Some words are more easily acted out. Entitlement, Deserve.. Really, we all deserve and are entitled to a miserable existence on our own (alone) in this tiny planet with no mercy or hope. Really, all have done hideous things to some extent and are entitled to punishment.  I just do the best with what I've got and am trying each day to be incredibly grateful instead of entitled.
Grace is a better word, and love; humble, generous, polite, providence. So much easier to use those words more readily, or for that fact, just act them out on a regular basis to get the muscles working.  Yep, a grace muscle needs exercise.  These muscles work for me and I do the best with what I have thankfully trying to learn something from it all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

History History Everywhere

Just as the Cat of Bubastes captivated their attention a few months ago while studying ancient Egypt, Jim Weiss's voice reading The Young Carthaginian is brilliant for telling us this story.  We get to follow along on the Kindle and the cloud reader on the computer in order to keep up on this story.

We are using the Harmony Arts Mom plans for Ancient art.
The pages assigned for my 3Gs are easily completed while reading this DK Ancient Rome book.

Find all kinds of teaching wisdom at

BTW, this isn't an advert, it's what we used and it worked for us!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Original Tween

He's standing, because he can't sit still. How did he get along in the classroom for those months of kindergarten and first grade. He's alone in the room talking to himself as he outlines and drafts sentences which give shape to a book report. His first book report is almost drafted.  I can't read his handwriting, but somehow it makes the most sense.  He is communicating the ideas of ancient transportation that interest him.  And, finally, a conclusion sentence that wraps up the most creative ideas of the book. He's still not standing still. He doesn't miss the chairs in this room at all. I'm so glad he's made it to eleven, and I gave up the chairs / desks a long time ago.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Roman Mysteries Today

I wonder if there will be a similar series that these Gs will devour for Medieval Ages next year?  The seventeen books in the Roman Mysteries series brought up wonderful questions about geography, history, Bible, mythology, early medicine & treatment, culture, agriculture, sociology and family bonds.  

This is series that I wouldn't let my kids read until now. I read them and didn't want to expose the kids to harsh realities that existed in the past and, to some extent, still exist today.  After visiting several locations that are mentioned in the series, I am able to relate various issues and discuss why things happened in the stories.  The kids are able to compare what they saw in Rome and Ephesus to what is explained in the books. They are able to relate to the remnants of the Roman empire in Istanbul, London, Bath and places in Germany even better after reading this series.  

After reading about Greek locations in the books, the kids are able to picture Troy, Athens, Crete and Corinth while reviewing from the Story of the World.  We won't use this grammar stage story book again if we re-visit the Ancients in high school, so the mystery series cementing these stories completes our goal.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time to Finish the Roman Mystery Series

We're on a road trip, & we are also almost done with ancient Greece. So, it's time to have each of these Gs complete the series about the four main characters named Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus. I wonder if there is a series similar to this that I can read with them for the Medieval Ages stage of the history cycle?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Logic Stage Daily/Weekly Organizer Attempts

There is a form we used to keep track of the work expected, suggested and accomplished each week for the past 18 weeks of school here.  It wasn't working because it was too easy just to mark off things that weren't accomplished (fudge the results a bit and hope that mom didn't pay attention EVERY time).  In order to foster independence in their studies and easy communication about my expectations and their frustrations, I re-designed the weekly checklist to resemble a day/week planner page I saw online the other day.  This attempt to organize them or teach themselves to organize on their own may take a while, but I can try to tweak this even though they like it so far.  The old form is on the left, the history page that hasn't changed is in the middle and the new weekly checklist grouped in subject blocks and order of priority is on the right. For example, at the top of the new page on the right, I list the date, breakfast and Bible.  Then on the next section down, I list math, spelling and grammar. This gives each child a place to right down that they did a math, their daily spelling or a grammar and what number of the lesson they accomplished in the book.

I'm trying to make it clearer what is expected and for them to communicate exactly what they did each week. These pages are front to back (checklist and history page) in the Story of the World chapter from which each week is built.  Maybe in four years, if we look at the ancients again, we'll look back to see what was accomplished first in kindergarten/first grade then in fourth and fifth grade.  So far, it's going better because I can see immediately who needs to do their math or grammar, or who hasn't even looked at history or science for the week!

I haven't heard, "What's next Mom?" And, that is a beautiful thing. They are doing so much work, and I want them to see all this clearly on one page that represents all their work!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coral Reef Replication Experiment w/ Elemental Science

So, we got a little messy while doing this exercise, but it was fun!

The life science experiment in Elemental Science Logic Stage curriculum directed my Gs to grow coral by using salt, water and liquid bluing.  I had such a trouble finding the laundry item called bluing. I ended up buying the bluing product from because I had driven to 6 stores in my area and still couldn't find it (we have prime for delivery costs, so it wasn't a huge expense considering I've already driven - the gas costing what it does - to several stores).

We are also working on our memory work and included Cnidarians last week. We'll have to postpone observing snails for this week's experiment until I find one. But, I did go into a pet store for the first time in 10 years and it wasn't a horrible experience.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dissections In Logic Stage Life Science

Clam Dissection

What would you do on a beautiful day in January?  We went into the back yard & dissected an earthworm, clam and sea star. We're working Unit 3 called Invertebrates of the Elemental Science Logic Stage Life Science curriculum.   It's a Saturday & the Daddy could read the directions while Mom sliced open the earthworm or held open the sea star. Daddy also took on the opening of a clam which we don't have on the farm where Mom grew up in Iowa.  G#1 reflected upon eating clams or mussels before.
Sea Star Dissection

There were few directions for this exercise. G#3 enjoyed trying the forceps to touch the
Echinoderm, but G#2 continued to look on as she was still relishing the fact there was little formaldehyde smell involved while dissecting outside. 
Earthworm Dissection

I remember this dissection from seventh grade and was not afraid to start cutting into the
annelid from the kit.  The Daddy decided that after reading the clear and concisely written instructions to the dissection, he would examine the digestive system of the worm himself. 

There will be more dissections, but those will have to wait for another warm day in the sunshine at the back of the house.  Next, we examine coral and cnidarians in week 13 of Logic Stage Life Science.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Iliad and Odyssey Visit Goes along with Star Wars Viewing

These images are of the version of the books we read and are copied from the marketing site called where we buy many books both for our shelves and for the Kindle.  Your kids can read these books too.

Black Ships Before Troy  and The Wanderings of Odysseus by Rosemary Sutcliff are written for the 9 to 12 year old kids in my house. The boys certainly appreciated the bloody battles in the first story as well as the art renditions.  My daughter was always asking why Odysseus did the stupid things he did in the second book.  Discernment runs deep in we women of the household.  The boys were the first to say, "Pride!"  As if that made any of the choices Odysseus made correct, except that he did lead his people well during the Trojan War, and finally got back to Ithaca after learning much about leadership.

For a notebook page to be inserted into the Story of the World curriculum chapter 20, these three pre-adolescent kids answered questions about how Odysseus was similar to characters from the movie series called Star Wars.  These answers flowed freely as each child typed complete sentences that were later printed onto the color we've assigned to "The Arts and Great Books" category as directed in The Well Trained Mind.  When asked how Anakin was similar to Odysseus, all three gave answers relating to creative problem solving, head-strong actions and bull-headed decisions of both characters.

So, in the end, we used notebooking to record organized answers to literature content of what we read, AND we practiced typing with correct fingering to produce the page.  In another lifetime, these questions may have been answered only about the classic Homer tales in worksheet form and by hand.  Sadly, the worksheets would then have not been organized into a binder. A binder which will be used a third time (we created the first pass through of SOTW in kindergarten and first grade) when we are in high school.  We also demonstrated how serious we are about Star Wars movies.