May 012010

Is it really May already? I must be getting old, talking about how quick the time goes 😉 But things have been moving at warp speed around here.

I never found the time to post a wrap-up of last week, so I’ll make this a 2 week summary.

We got started back on Tapestry of Grace and have had 2 very good weeks. My older son is reading Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself. Last week he made plastic out of cream and vinegar.

It used 1/2 cup of cream. The instructions were to add vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time over medium heat. Curds were supposed to form. We finally saw some curds, but we lost track of how much vinegar we added. The whole house smelled like vinegar.

Here are our curds before rinsing.

This is the tiny cube of plastic that he ended up with.

Also in history we’ve read about the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the first Portuguese explorers to sail around the southern tip of Africa in a book called Explorers Who Got Lost.
We also got back to our Apologia Flying Creatures study. My daughter made 2 identical bird feeders out of milk jugs. She put different types of seed in the feeders to see which type of seed our backyard birds prefer.

My daughter finished her Rod and Staff English book.

We also finished Elementary Greek Level 2. (Older son and older daughter.)

Today I got to see my son play flag football for the first time. All his games have conflicted with my daughter’s soccer games.

Here he is playing center.

Then after lunch, we all went to my daughter’s soccer game.

Now I’m ready to rest!

Visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to read more Weekly Wrap-ups.

Apr 172010

This week we did one of my oldest son’s favorite things—standardized testing.

I am not kidding. As far as "school" things goes, he would rather test than do anything else.  My daughter, on the other hand, had her first experience with "bubble tests" last year, and she spent a portion of the time crying. Needless to say, her scores did not reflect what I think she had actually learned.

So this year I administered the IOWA test again.  We decided that since we have to test yearly in NC, and since my daughter should have some experience taking "bubble tests" she should take the IOWA again this year. But, I did make some changes.

I did not test my children at the same time. Even though that’s one of the advantages of the test (the instructions are the same for multiple grade levels so you can test together), I administered the entire test twice. In three days.

Although it was more work for me, it definitely paid off. My daughter is a morning person, so we were able to get at least 2 of her sections done before my son even got out of bed. Last year it really bothered her when her brother would ask how much time was left and tell me he was finished when she wasn’t. So that little problem was removed. Also, the total testing time is dependent on the individual child. (I let them move on after a stretch break. If they finish a 30 minute test in 20 minutes, they don’t have to sit there for 10 more minutes. They didn’t like to have to wait for each other last year.

This year I was able to refrain from looking at every single test answer to see how they did before I sent the test off. I did check the math computation sections. My son was able to finish the computation section for the first time ever! If he had actually written done some of the problems, maybe he wouldn’t have missed them. Sigh. There’s no convincing him though.

We’ve got some interesting nature study opportunities around our house and yard.

The kids found Eastern Tent Caterpillars in our crab apple tree. Those are pretty interesting caterpillars. They change into rather unimpressive moths though.

We also got tadpoles from a friend. For now I’ve got them set up in a spare fish tank in my kitchen.

(Sorry about the weird reflections in the picture.)

When they start changing (and needing solid land) I’m planning to move them outside to our fish pond. (There are no fish in it currently. Also these are native tadpoles, so I won’t be introducing an alien species.) I am hoping that maybe a few frogs will become residents and keep the mosquito population down this summer.

My younger son’s sea monkeys are growing.

And we have a robin that has returned to her nesting site from last year. It’s right on top of a downspout under our eaves.

Visit Kris at @ Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to read more Weekly Wrap-ups.

Apr 102010

I don’t have a lot of school to report this week, because we took the week off!

But, I didn’t take the week off. My goal was to catch up on my planning so that we can finish the year strong.

I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but I will be starting next week with:

  • a reasonably clean house
  • laundry caught up
  • ironing caught up
  • all independent schoolwork scheduled through the end of the year!
  • some planning for next year

I didn’t do enough:

  • looking at the remaining products I need to review
  • planning for Tapestry of Grace
  • planning for science
  • decluttering

Oh well. Overall I’m reasonably satisfied. I don’t feel completely disorganized anymore anyway!

Read more Weekly Wrap-ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Apr 032010

We had a good week, but I seem to have caught a bit of spring fever and summer-itis. We managed to do our core subjects this week, but failed to do any Tapestry of Grace or Apologia science. (I mean none!)

I am taking next week off for a little break. During the time, I will be planning the rest of the school year. I want to finish strong instead of fizzling out. I also will be looking at next year’s curriculum choices. I probably shouldn’t and should focus more on finishing…what…we’ve…got., but planning new stuff makes me happy.

My husband had yesterday off so we went for a day trip.

Our first stop was Danville, VA and the Danville Science Center.

Here are my little paleontologists searching for dinosaur eggs.

This old train station was converted to house the natural history collection.

There was an old caboose to explore.

And climb.

We walked down to the Dan River. The city converted this old railroad bridge to a walking bridge.

From Danville, we headed to Fairy Stone State Park. We went on a hike in 88 degree weather. The hike was in the woods, but since the leaves aren’t out, it wasn’t shady.

We made it to this waterfall.

We thought we were close to half-way through at this point. (It was a loop trail) However, what we didn’t know that the hardest part of the hike was yet to come.

Here’s the gorgeous view after a long climb. And we still had over a mile and a half to go…

We arrived home very tired and unfortunately with no water. We actually discovered the leak right before we left, but elected to turn the water off and go anyway instead of sitting at home with no water waiting for a plumber. The plumber came bright and early this morning and fixed the problem quickly. You don’t realize just how much you take water for granted until it doesn’t work!

So how was your week? Visit Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to read more homeschooling weekly wrap-ups.

Mar 132010

I haven’t written a Weekly Wrap-up post for a while for a combination of reasons. First, we haven’t done anything really exciting to write about, and second, I’ve been pretty busy on the last few Fridays and Saturdays. So, even though we haven’t done anything super interesting, I’ll just update everything for my own benefit. (I don’t know about you, but it really helps me to write these things up.)

We have gotten back on track with our history studies in Tapestry of Grace Year 2. We are 1 week short of completing the first (10 week unit). As I type that I confess I am filled with regret over my “wasted” fall. But we can only move forward, right? So we are wrapping up the Middle Ages and moving on to the Renaissance and Reformation. I have found that doing our history reading in the morning right after our prayer and catechism time has helped tremendously.

Speaking of catechism, my 2 older children have memorized the first 26 answers in the Westminster Shorter Catechism! This was another thing we let slip in the fall and we’ve had intensive review for 2 months. As we’ve been reviewing, the younger 2 children have been learning by osmosis. We’ve also started reading John together just this week. This is something different I’ve been trying. We’re silently reading one chapter in our Bibles, then I’m asking the questions from Balancing the Sword. I won’t lie. My children have been less than enthusiastic about this. I’ve not had them do much independent Bible reading and this is challenging for my daughter especially.

My oldest son is enjoying Life of Fred – Pre-algebra. The Life of Fred books have definitely been a tremendously positive change in the math department for him. In Latin, he’s finished Chapter 17 of Latin Alive. He’s doing well, but I don’t think he is drilling the vocabulary sufficiently. Classical Academic Press has introduced a new drill website,, that has been a nice addition to his routine. I may have to take a break from the book and have a review week with him to make sure that he has the concepts down.

My oldest daughter is now 10 years old.
(Her birthday was in February, but I don’t think I mentioned it.) She is doing well in all of her studies. She is almost finished with Rod & Staff English for the year. She is also studying Latin, but is using Latina Christiana I. She should be able to finish it this year. I need to do some research and see if she should use Latina Christiana II or First Form.

My younger son is doing GREAT with All About Spelling. I am so excited to have found something that is helping him to read. He’s also progressing in Math Mammoth. I think he will finish 1B this year.

Little one is very interested in learning to write letters
. I recently pulled out the wood pieces from Handwriting without Tears. We also go a new DVD to review called Alphabet Beats that teaches capital letters. It looks promising, but I’m not sure if she’s physically ready.

We spent yesterday afternoon at our local science museum for homeschool classes. Then in the evening, we had a bonfire with some friends from church. It was fun, but my hair still smells like smoke! Today is game day. My daughter is playing indoor soccer and my son is starting flag football. It’s also ACC basketball tournament time and my team is still in! Which reminds me I should go check the score.

Feb 062010


That’s how I sum up the last couple of weeks. We got 8 inches of snow last weekend. Then it snowed again this Friday. Thankfully, we are missing out on the big snowstorm that’s hitting the northeast currently.

All this snow affected our schooling because we don’t get snow that often, and the kids want to play in it. Also, since my husband is a public school teacher, he was home both Monday and Friday this past week and went to work 2 hours late the other 3 days. (The only day with students in school last week was Thursday.) I’m not complaining about my husband being home, it just changes the routine. (We didn’t get started as early and we didn’t get as much done.)

The other thing about snow is that lots of things get canceled. Last week we had no church dinner on Friday night, no basketball game on Saturday, no church on Sunday, no 4H on Monday. I was getting pretty stir crazy by Tuesday! Then Friday we had to reschedule a field trip and this weekend they canceled basketball again. One thing that I find interesting is that for the most part I’ve been relieved when the activities got canceled. Sure, I got a little stir crazy, but I think I may have over booked our schedule a bit for my personal preference. I’m still looking for balance in extracurricular activities.

On the school front, we did our basic school subjects. (Meaning, I failed to get to science and history this week….again.) One thing worth mentioning is we finished working through a math activity set by Make It Real Learning on Sets, Probability, and Statistics. My 6th grade son and I worked together on one activity per day for two weeks. We both really enjoyed it! The problems were challenging and required us to discuss how to solve them. My son wanted to go farther and do his own probability experiments similar to the ones in the problem set. Very cool. Now he’s started Life of Fred Pre-Algebra. I’ll let you know how that is.

In our unschooling Nature Studies, we watched a lot of birds this week. With the snow, we’ve had a lot of visits to the feeder. It’s really exciting how my 3 younger children are learning to identify birds. My older son has very little interest, but he did enjoy watching a squirrel with some bread crusts we had thrown out.

Hopefully next week we’ll be back to the Middle Ages and feudalism. I’m hoping for NO MORE SNOW! Hurry spring.



Jan 162010

We had another good week of schooling. We didn’t start quite as early as I had planned, but we still did all start together. I’m thinking of tweaking our start time a little so my oldest, who is a night person, can get a little more sleep. I’m still undecided on that, so I will continue with my target start time of 8:30.

My younger son took the Woodcock-Johnson test this week. I was not surprised at the poor results, just discouraged. But I have received several encouraging comments and I feel much better now. I will concentrate on helping him to learn. I don’t really know what all that will involve at this point.

We also did really well on our first week back to Tapestry of Grace. We studied Muhammad and the beginning of Islam. My older son made a terrific video about what we learned.

Today my older son had a basketball game. I spent the late afternoon doing some much needed organizing of our basement playroom.

We’ll have a shorter week next year because we’re taking off Monday since my husband has the day off.

Jan 092010

What a great first week back to school! Over the break I had some time to think about why we weren’t getting as much done as we should be. I instituted (or re-instituted) some practices that had worked in the past. I realized that I’ve allowed myself to be influenced by how other people homeschool. That is not a bad thing in some ways. There is so much to learn from other homeschoolers. It’s wonderful to see neat projects that other families are doing, learn how others organize their days, and see their curriculum choices. I love interacting with other homeschoolers for all of those reasons.


I realized that I had taken other people’s relaxed homeschooling style and tried to implement it in my home. Truthfully, I’m anything but relaxed. So while I’m trying to be relaxed by not starting school early, not worrying if I’m still wearing pajamas, and letting the children sleep as late as they want to, I’m really worrying on the inside. All that relaxing stresses me out!

This week I made my older son set his alarm clock. And if it didn’t wake him up, I woke him up. We got back to gathering the whole family together at the start of the day for prayer and catechism review. I had a heart-to-heart talk with the principal on Tuesday evening and confessed my first semester failure to get any history done. We talked over some possible solutions and I’ve added history read-alouds to the end of our morning group time.

I also got the two older kids started back on Greek. That had somehow been pushed aside during the first semester too. That’s painful after a 6 month lapse!

I reorganized the older kids school books and put everything into a small hanging file box. The other boxes that I’d started the year with were too small and not very sturdy.

I’ve still got some tweaking to do with the schedule. (Mainly figuring out how I am going to spend more time with my 7 year old, but I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’ve got 6 weeks worth of work scheduled for the kids’ core subjects, so now I’ll be able to spend valuable planning time making sure we get to history and science. I’ve even gotten along better with my older son.

Hopefully as a result of the changes, I’ll have some more things to share about out homeschool. We’ve been weak on projects this year. Right now we’re finishing up a model of a mosque that we made to go along with our study of Muhammad and Islam this week.

Dec 052009

I had just written up a fairly lengthy post when I hit the wrong button. It is kind of fitting with the way the rest of my day has been going. So rather than rewrite it; here is the last week and a half in pictures.

The Thanksgiving table before the feast.

We went on a field trip to a Science center with our field trip group.

A kaleidoscope


Measuring volume


A rope maze


Baby alligator


Virtual reality


Shark and ray feeding time

We decorated our Christmas tree last night.

Little Santa


Decorating the tree


Nov 202009

What a week this has been. Certainly far from typical.

Monday was my birthday, so we took off school and I went to a day spa.

Well, not quite. We had a somewhat typical school day except that during the day I made myself a coconut cake and helped my children finish preparing for their book club presentations which were on…

This month each family presented on one of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We chose By the Shores of Silver Lake. We chose it mainly because we had started it last February and never finished it. We actually finished the book. (That’s got to be some kind of record!) My son wrote his report on the book in general and included a little information about the Homestead Act. My daughter wrote about her favorite part of the book which was Christmas and made a display of the different types of birds mentioned in the book. We also made sourdough biscuits to share with the club. After book club we came home briefly before violin lessons. After violin, I rushed home, made a quick dinner of spaghetti then my husband took my son to basketball practice at 6:30. That was a long day.

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary happened during the day. We did finally finish a game of Life on the Farm (review coming soon.)

After dinner my husband and I began moving all this furniture

away from the walls in our living room so that on…

I could start painting.


At this point I was feeling a bit concerned about my color choice.

What a long day! I managed to get 2 coats of paint done and fell into bed exhausted.

I painted the trim in the living room and began to try to catch up on laundry. It feels great to be finished. Of course I still have to move all the furniture back!