Apr 222011

This week my husband had 3 days off. So yesterday we decided to take a little day trip. Our destination…

Appomattox Courthouse

Hopefully you know that Appomattox Courthouse is the site of the end of the Civil War. But you might not know that the surrender wasn’t signed at the courthouse in Appomattox. It was signed at the McLean house in Appomattox Courthouse. The name of the town was Appomattox Courthouse because the Appomattox County Courthouse was located there.

We did visit the Courthouse at Appomattox Courthouse. Inside is a museum with Civil War artifacts. There were also 2 short films which detailed the last battle of the Civil War and the surrender. (Though technically other battles were later. News traveled slow in those days.) I was impressed by the great dignity in which the Union army treated the surrendered Confederates. (I would like to do some more research on this. I’m not completely sure I heard BOTH sides of the story.)

My husband in front of the Courthouse at Appomattox Courthouse

The family (minus me and baby) outside one of the small houses.

A replica of the table where General Lee sat.

This is where Gen. Grant wrote the surrender agreement.

Dining Room at the McLean house

I love this dining room. We have a youth chair that looks almost exactly like that! I wish my dining room were large enough for a table that large. It is obvious that the whole family eating together was important to this family.

After visiting the small reconstructed town, we took a short hike to the NC Memorial.

I’m not a North Carolinian by birth, but I have spent most of my life here. I have ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War. I definitely know my grandfather’s grandfather (I think I’ve got that right) fought in the Union army even though he was from Tennessee. I’ve seen a picture of him in his uniform.

It was a beautiful day and a great day for the whole family to get some exercise together.


Visit The Legacy of Home to read other (I’m sure more relevant!) posts on Vintage Healthy Homes.





Feb 262011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal In my life this week…

I had some emotional ups and downs. I think that I’ve got some definite post-partum hormonal adjustments going on.

In our homeschool this week…

I got the results of my middle son’s Woodcock-Johnson test. That was definitely one of the downs. I haven’t pulled out last year’s test to compare the raw scores, but we’re definitely dealing with some sort of learning disability. And more likely multiple disabilities.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

This afternoon is my daughter’s family birthday party. She turned 11 yesterday. My parents will be here in about an hour and will stay the night. It’s been about a month since I’ve seen them. I hope to have a good visit.

My favorite thing this week was…

A night out with my birthday girl! She got her ears pierced and we enjoyed a strawberry milkshake from Chick-fil-A.

What’s working/not working for us…

I haven’t figured out how to teach everyone and how to provide enough learning activities for everyone when I’m not teaching. My daughter admitted she’s been bored lately with our lighter school schedule. She was reading a lot, but she read so much that now she’s not in the mood for it.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

Where do I find testing for my son? I’ve got to figure out what we’re dealing with and how to proceed. I’ve got to get my husband on board too. I spoke to our doctor on Thursday and I will be preparing a packet for her to review BEFORE his physical next month. She happens to be a friend outside of being a doctor which I’m finding to be a really great experience.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Here is my daughter with her new haircut on Thursday. (Please excuse the poor picture quality. I took it with an iPod camera.)

Feb 192011

Well, actually I hope this was not a normal week.

On Monday morning I noticed a strange burning smell in my room. After a little bit of investigation, I discovered the heat pump was using auxillary heat. That was odd considering it was over 40 degrees outside. To make a long story short, one of our heat pumps was irreparable and needed to be replaced. I’ll spare everyone the financial details, but we’ll just say we’re going to be going on Dave Ramsey’s beans and rice, rice and beans meal plan for a while.

Tuesday we returned to our monthly homeschool book club. This month’s topic was U.S. Presidents. All 4 of the children (hmm. I guess that’s not right anymore.) Everyone but the baby presented. From youngest to oldest they children chose George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Franklin Roosevelt. My middle son pointed out that they had chosen all the presidents on coins. Pretty observant!

Little one presented on George Washington. Here is one page of her book.

That girl sure loves to color!

My middle son is very interested in the Presidents, so I made sure that he did a presentation this time. He hasn’t started participating on a regular basis. We made a book on Abraham Lincoln. He dictated some sentences to me about things he had learned. I typed them up and found images on-line to print. He pasted them onto the top of the page. I was very proud of the way he read his book to the group!

My older daughter reported on Thomas Jefferson. She chose to make a lapbook of her own design.

My oldest son did a report on FDR. He made a Power Point for his presentation.

Continuing on with the week–

My middle son had his yearly achievement test on Wednesday. That’s really the topic of another post. I’ll just say that some things were encouraging (he has made progress since last year), but there are definitely some major learning issues with him. I’m trying to figure out where to turn for help.

We got back to General Science with my oldest son this week. We’re a bit behind and are still working on Module 6. On Thursday he did an experiment on sedimentation. My youngest decided that she was going to do science too. She even made a drawing for her “Science notebook”.

I think if she had been my oldest child, I would have thought that homeschooling was a breeze. She has such wonderful enthusiasm for everything. She is a quite a joy!

How was your week?

Feb 072011

The Homeschool Mother's JournalSeveral of my friends have been participating in this meme. It looks like a nice change (or addition depending on my mood) to writing a week in review post, so I’m going to give it a shot. Visit The Homeschool Chick to read more.

In my life this week…

I’ve been working on slowly establishing our new normal. I am mostly staying home except I have to take my older daughter to violin lessons on Monday afternoons. Baby comes with us. So far he’s been really good during the lessons. I did manage to plan our menus and make it to Wal-mart on Thursday evening. We also made a really big purchase that I’ll write more about later. (probably!)

In our homeschool this week…

We started back on our science lessons last week. I decided to go back to Apologia Zoology I (Flying Creatures) with my 5th grade daughter, 2nd grade son, and 4 year old daughter listening in. The 2 times we read went well. My oldest resumed General Science as well. I need to have him do his experiment either today or tomorrow. I’m so glad I bought the supply kit from Home Science Tools!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

This week we have violin lessons. I also have my post-partum  checkup on Thursday. I can’t believe my baby is almost 6 weeks old.

My favorite thing this week was…

Seeing more sweet baby smiles!

What’s working/not working for us…

My 4 year old is loving Reading Kingdom which we are reviewing. I love her enthusiasm for learning. Actually I love her enthusiasm for everything.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

Interesting observation about myself….My oldest son is working very hard at figuring out how to program his latest computer game project. However, it requires him to use mathematics he hasn’t learned yet. (Trigonometry) So here I am with a perfect example of how “unschooling” can work. Except that I don’t have the mental concentration or desire to help him figure it out. It’s driving me crazy. I know I should help him find the answers, but I don’t want to. I tired. I’m grumpy. Ugh…

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

I’ve been watching Happy Days because it often corresponds with my baby’s last feeding before bed. I saw this episode last week and was reminded that sometimes we need to look for creative ways for our children to learn.


Jan 312011


Homechooling with a Baby

Homeschooling with a Baby

This is our 8th year of officially homeschooling. Since I have a 4 year old and a 1 month old, I have some experience. The most difficult thing is finding the time to actually write anything about it. Because the first thing to know about homeschooling with a baby in the house is that you’re going to be BUSY!

But you know that. Because just having a new baby is a very busy time.

There are some things that you can think about well before the baby is born and make adjustments.

1. Think about your curriculum. Look for things your children can work on independently.

I tend to use teacher intensive curriculum for several subjects. I’ve had to put those aside and substitute other activities for the time being.

2. Get your Netflix cue ready.

Let’s face it, your children are probably going to be watching more TV. You might as well have some educational shows picked out ahead of time.

3. Train your children. Train them not only to help, but to do complete tasks.

This is one that I’ve realized after this baby. I should have taught my children to do laundry. They can all help by transferring clothes between the washer and dryer and putting their own clothes away, but I’ve not taught anyone to run a load of laundry from sort to fold.

4. Consider extending the school year.

If you think about this ahead of time, you could start your year earlier than usual to allow more time off after the baby arrives. You can also plan on schooling through the summer.

5. Think about the age of your children.

Younger children do not need to spend as time per day schooling as older children do. But older children are more capable of helping with the baby and other household tasks. (Especially if you’ve followed my advice in #3!)

6. In general, the more relaxed your homeschool is, the less you will have to change things after the baby is born.

If you have a highly structured day where you do a lot of instructing, you will have to adapt more than if you are an unschooler.

After the baby arrives:

7. Take time off.

As much as possible take for at least a few days completely off from school, housework, and cooking. Then gradually add activities back in to your routine.

8. Relax your expectations.

This goes for all areas. You’re going to be spending a lot of time caring for the baby. There are not enough hours in the day for you to do the same amount of homeschooling, housework, cooking, and extracurricular activities as you were doing before. Unless you were spending hours sitting on the couch watching TV, you’re going to have to give some things up.

9.  Take advantage of baby’s naps.

Use this time for those times you need to be able to teach your children without distractions. Better yet, use naptime to take a nap yourself.

10. Enjoy your baby!

Homeschooling with a Baby

Top Ten {Tuesday} To see more Top Ten Lists, visit OhAmanda.com.

Jan 222011

I have to say that overall, this week went well. The 3 older kids completed math assignments every day (except Monday which was MLK Day.) I also had older son and daughter resume their Latin. They both seem to have retained something even after taking a month off. That’s a relief!

I started my middle son back on his phonics instruction. This week I just had him complete assignments in his Explode the Code workbook. It was actually like he took a step forward during our time off. That was certainly unexpected. I’m not sure what to make of it. He just coincidentally passed a developmental milestone? He was thinking about reading and it just finally clicked? Whatever the reason, he wasn’t hurt at all by the break.

There has been some other interesting “unschooling” learning happening too. My daughter learned to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch and has now changed her first diaper. She’s a natural at baby care! And she has been reading a lot this year. She’s finished all the Little House books and read the first 3 of the Anne of Green Gables series. Plus many of the Dear America books.

My older son has started working on a computer game with his cousin. They started over Thanksgiving when they had some time together. But now my son is actually calling my nephew to discuss the game. He has NEVER shown any interest in talking on the phone before. In fact, he was always quite awkward about it. So this has definitely been good practice for him. Not only has the game worked on his communication skills, but the theme of the game is planetary travel and my son has been doing lots of research on the solar system including Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the solar system vs. the Copernican model. He’s also tried out his math skills trying to calculate how frequently the planets return to exactly the same points relative to each other.

I am going to try to add another subject back this week. I also have got to decide on some Wii usage guidelines. The time spent on the Wii has gotten entirely out of hand since Christmas.

You can read more Weekly Wrap Ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Dec 172010

We managed to keep plugging along with our lessons through today! I am somewhat amazed, but I was determined to not quit too early because I do not know how long this break will last. My baby is due 12/31. I am pretty sure that he will come before then, but now am wondering if he might make his arrival before Christmas. Either way, I am unsure when school will resume in January!

Overall, I feel like we’ve made good progress so far this year in most of our subjects.

7th grade son

Completed over half of Life of Fred Beginning Algebra. He seems to be getting it, he’s working hard, and I’m having fun getting to explain some concepts to him. (I’m not kidding. I really love Algebra!)

Completed 1 season of Analytical Grammar. He will do Season 2 beginning in about March.

Finished Latin Alive I and just started Latin Alive 2. I am so glad I ordered the videos for this! I did not for Book 1 and mistakenly thought he could self-teach. That didn’t work so well.

Completed through Module 5 in General Science today. We’re a bit behind where we should be (there are 16 modules in the book), but finishing the book is still an attainable goal for this school year.

5th grade daughter

Completed about 1/2 of Singapore 5A. (She had to complete 4B before she started on 5A.)

Completed about 1/2 of Rod and Staff English.

Worked through Chapter 12 (of 30) in First Form Latin. I really love this Latin program too! It is very thorough and sequential.

7th and 5th grade

Completed through Lesson 12 (of 30) in Elementary Greek. That is going fairly. I need to be sure to do more drilling on vocabulary and forms.

2nd grade son

I am really the most excited about his progress this year. He has struggled mightily with reading and things finally seem to be clicking for him. He’s still not what I’d call an independent reader, but he is getting so much better! I love All About Spelling for him. We’re through Step 10 in Level 2. I also supplement with Explode the Code. He’s almost finished with Book 4.

Another break-through with him has been math. He has started adding 2 digit + 2 digit numbers with carrying and didn’t even miss a beat.

We just started Building Thinking Skills Level 1 with him. So far, so good.

And believe it or not, his favorite subject is Latin! He is using Song School Latin and doing fairly well with it. He is much better with memorizing nouns than verbs, but he is definitely learning.


We finished Tapestry of Grace, Year 2, Unit 3 several weeks ago. I have been meaning to post some of the things we did for the unit, but haven’t taken the time. If the baby holds off, I’ll try to get some of it posted while we’re on our break.

Plans for break

I have very flexible plans for the break. Tonight my husband and I are going to our church’s Christmas Banquet. Tomorrow my parents, sister and family are coming here for our Christmas celebration. I’m ready for that (almost). The shopping for my own family is done, but I haven’t wrapped a thing!

Oct 222010

Yes, I’ve been complaining about how busy I have been. I am happy to report that Cross Country is finished! As a result, I have stayed home completely 2 days this week! What a blessing it has been. I feel almost back to normal, whatever that might be for a 30-week pregnant, almost 40 year old, homeschooling mother of 4.

So what did we do?

Actually nothing earth shattering.

We had our first book club meeting on Tuesday. We like to start simple, so for the first meeting, the kids presented an oral book report on their favorite book they read over the summer. My daughter (almost 11) wrote a very good report on Heidi. Like most everything else, she sees the task and goes and does it. She’s really a sensible kid. I’m not saying that she never complains. What is more likely to upset her are assignments where the expectations are unclear.

My son (12-1/2) struggled mightily with his report on The Toothpaste Millionaire. How much detail should he include? In the past he’s not told enough of the story. This time he couldn’t figure out where to stop. And adding his opinion on to the end of the report? You’d have thought I’d asked him to build a full-scale model of the Empire State Building with toothpicks! I couldn’t help but laugh when he came up with a syllogism for why he liked the book. I can’t remember it exactly (I made him change it.), but it was something like:

  1. I like good books.
  2. This book was good.
  3. Therefore, I liked this book.

I guess at least he’s learning something in Introductory Logic. Which, by the way, he finally got back to this week. My husband is the one teaching that class and it has been several (or 6, but who’s counting?) weeks since they had done a lesson.

In other highlights, my son and I did 4 experiments in Apologia General Science this week!

My daughter did wonderfully on her Unit 1 test in First Form Latin. Oh, how I love that Latin curriculum! The systematic organization makes me so happy. Ironically, it would be a terrible fit for my son. He’s continuing with Latin Alive. He took his Unit 6 test in Year 1. Only 1 more unit to go before we have to shell out $100+ for level 2. (We’ve decided we’re springing for the videos this time.)

Other highlights (or not):

I reminded my 8 year old son 5285 times that when there is one consonant between two vowels, the consonant usually goes with the second syllable so the first vowel makes the long sound. We also managed to get through 2 entire pages in Math Mammoth 2A  this week. (and we worked on it EVERY day!) I’m still not sure he understands it. It was on subtracting to get to an even 10, then subtracting the rest from that even 10. For example, for 13-7, think 13-3 is 10. Now I still need to subtract 4 more and 10-4 is 6. So 13-7=6. The abacus got a workout this week.

Little One announced at dinner tonight that she had been the Greatest Baby in the Whole World!!! She also told me that she needed a map to show her how to grow-up to be a lady. She sure keeps us giggling.

We also did our Tapestry of Grace reading, practiced our Westminster Shorter Catechism questions, and learned about 3rd declension nouns in Greek. And my older son learned to graph equations in Life of Fred: Algebra.

Not a bad week!

Jamie is hosting this week’s Wrap-Up at See Jamie Blog. You can read more wrap-ups there.

Oct 092010

This wrap-up will have to cover 2 weeks or more. I’m not sure how long it’s been since I’ve posted.

Our core subjects are moving along well for both of my older children. My son is not particularly fond of all the practice in Analytical Grammar, but we’ve only got 3 more weeks to go. That part he likes! I like that I am sure he is really mastering grammar. I won’t have any hesitation about not teaching grammar after finishing the Analytical Grammar course, though I do plan to use the review materials.

Life of Fred – Beginning Algebra is a super program for my older son. I love the Home Companion that goes along with it. It has all the chapters broken down into daily lessons AND includes additional problems. It is sufficient practice for him. I don’t think there is enough practice for everyone, but he really gets math. I’m having a great time explaining some of the problems when he has difficulty.

Science is well, stalled again. We’ve finished Module 2 in General Science, but I still haven’t found the time to give him the test! This week I will and we’ll start moving again. I also need to get to science with the others.

We’re still studying Colonial U.S. in Tapestry of Grace. We’ve taken 2 weeks to finish one week of material because we were so busy, and there was a LOT of reading in that one week. To supplement our studies, we visited the NC Museum of History Colonial Days. There was a wonderful traveling exhibit about George Washington.

You could dress in period costumes,

or play in a Revolutionary War tent.

Since the museum was right across the street from the State Capitol building, we walked over and took a look around. This statue shows the 3 U.S. Presidents that North Carolina has claim to (though somewhat disputed).

Last weekend we went to the fair. We didn’t ride many rides this year. (I rode none since I’m pregnant.)

The younger children had NOT gone to Carowinds this summer, so we did let them ride a few.

We looked at the animals. This rabbit has the softest fur. I think it was a Rex.

We also checked on our project entries. My daughter won 3rd prize for her candle and my son 2nd for his technology poster.

But the biggest thing that has kept me so busy lately is Cross Country. I am so proud of my son and what he’s accomplished. It has been a great experience for him, even if it has been exhausting for me.

Sep 172010

Hopefully this will be a title that I want to use frequently! But after a very rough start on Monday, this turned out to be a great week of school for us. Monday was rough because  my oldest woke up with conjunctivitis which sent us to the eye doctor in the morning, followed by 4H, a Cross Country Meet, and violin lessons in the afternoon. Definitely a tiring day for me!

The bigger kids did a great job on all their independent work this week. There were no tears and a minimum of complaining. Hmm, maybe I didn’t give them enough?? (Just kidding)

My younger son hit a road block in math…Telling time. I was able to teach him to tell the time in 5 minute increments, but what he doesn’t get is the passage of time. For example, right now it’s 4:10. What time will it be in 5 minutes? So, I decided to skip this section in math for now. (That was VERY hard for me to do.) Today we worked on some calendar pages and he completely gets those. But on the positive side with him, I did see great improvement in his reading today. He is reading through the All About Reading books that correspond with All About Spelling (which I absolutely LOVE for him, by the way!). Today he was able to get through some of the sentences without so many L…O…N…G pauses between words. He also seems to have gotten the idea about putting spaces between words in a sentence and beginning with a capital letter in his dictation sentences.

We finished up our study of the Pilgrims this week. I took two weeks instead of one, but there was so much to cover that I didn’t think we had done it justice. We finished our read-aloud literature book, Almost Home, at lunch today. It is excellent historical fiction. I highly recommend it for a study of the Pilgrims. We also watched Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower, which we borrowed from Netflix. This was a reasonably balanced account, especially for The History Channel. (i.e. they didn’t make fun of the religion of the Pilgrims.) My daughter has started 2 of her colonial times projects: a fan and a cross stitch project. My son still hasn’t figured out what to do for his project.

I also taught my daughter how to make brownies this week. She’s entering them in the fair. I know that seems backwards, but I never seem to teach her to cook without some sort of deadline. For the last several years, she’s found something she wanted to learn how to make, entered that contest in the fair, and then I teach her how to do it. She placed with her peanut butter cookies the first year. Last year she didn’t win any ribbons for her muffins or cookies, but won a blue ribbon for her weaving project. This year she’s making brownies and a candle. We have already worked on candle-making for 4H so at least that is not totally new.

My son has a Cross Country meet bright and early tomorrow morning. I’d like to figure out a way for the whole family to go, but I’m just not seeing it. He’s supposed to be at the course (an hour away) at 7:30 tomorrow morning. Maybe we’ll come up with something.

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