Oct 262013

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October is almost over! I can not believe it. This 1st quarter + has just flown by. But I’ve made it through the extra busy beginning of the school year. So now it’s time to look at how things have been going and make necessary changes.

1. I am very pleased with the outside classes that David and Anna are taking.

Yes, we homeschool, but I really wanted them to have some classroom experience. These are extremely small classes, but still it’s a different instructor, there are assignments with due dates, and someone else to be accountable to. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how conscientious David is. And he doesn’t wait until the last minute to do his homework! Anna is also conscientious, but that wasn’t a surprise.

2. We had a fantastic Cross Country Season.

Both of our boys and girls homeschool teams won the North Carolina State Homeschool Championships. My kids both finished in the top 5.

David and his teammate in a race to finish in 4th place.

David and his teammate in a race to finish in 4th place.

I’m really proud of their hard work and dedication.


Anna all alone finishing in 3rd.

I  wasn’t the coach, but I did all the administrative stuff for the team. I was happy to help, but I’m also happy to be finished for a while!

3. It has been hard for David to keep up with his film class through Compass Cinema.

He did finally get some time to work on finishing up filming his latest assignment last week. I dropped him off at a park and left him there for 4 hours!

For the next few weeks he has a very special opportunity to help on a a movie that is being filmed locally and is directed by a friend of ours. Flexibility is a wonderful thing about homeschooling. David was able to spend all day on the set Thursday and Friday.

4. The older 4 children entered a variety of projects in our regional fair.

Every year I wonder why we go through the hassle, and then every year when they get ribbons, I’m glad we did. But this year, we’re going to get some of the projects done early. (I can dream, right?)

Lizzie's 2nd place brownies.

Lizzie’s 2nd place brownies.

5. I definitely still think that Christian Light Math is the best choice for William.

However, I have to look at ways to help him finish his lessons faster. Reading Detective has not been what I hoped. I was looking for independent practice, but his comprehension is so poor, that it’s not productive.

6. We’re not impressed with Teaching Textbooks for Pre-Calculus.

It wouldn’t have been my choice based on various reviews that I’ve read on Teaching Textbooks, but since that’s the text the class is using we had no choice. Still happy with the choice to take the class (see #1), but we’re going to be supplementing some with more challenging problems. I know a lot of people love Teaching Textbooks, but I would not recommend it for an advanced math student or one that wants to understand math, rather than learn methods.

7. Anna’s “block scheduling” plan worked great for the first 4 weeks of school.

The next five weeks, she was supposed to replace Science and Analytical Grammar with Geography and Home Economics. Partly due to the ramp up in the busyness factor and partly due to the assignments being more flexible, she didn’t get much done in her 2nd block. She didn’t start on the sewing unit she was planning, not that she didn’t do lots of other things that would qualify as home ec (like her baking and crafts for the fair!) We’re not ready to abandon the plan totally though. Still thinking about how to improve it.

8. I really like the school desk that we bought for William to use in his room.

But, it’s hard for me to make sure he is staying on task up there. I have tried giving him a time to come back and report. That has worked sometimes, but not always. Sometimes he reports and shows me that he hasn’t much to show for his time. I think I’m going to have to go with a more rigid schedule with him where we switch to the next subject whether math is finished or not. That way we’ll actually get to some of his other subjects. Having to do his math in his free time, may encourage him to work harder in his allotted math time. I’m not sure though because he isn’t getting distracted intentionally. We’ll just have to see if facing the natural consequences are an adequate incentive. I am going to have to more seriously research dietary changes for him.

9. I made generic assignment lists for William and Lizzie at the beginning of the year.

I still think they could be helpful, but they need more reminders to use them. I kind of dropped the ball on building that habit. Will give it another shot second quarter. I also need to print copies a week (or more) in advance. I do not do well having to make a copy at the last minute.

10. My crazy Andrew keeps us all laughing.

He is so funny. But he is a distraction. Still working on what to do with him during school time. I also have to get more serious (but not more uptight) about potty training him. Maybe he’ll get it by his 3rd birthday. We’ll see.



Dec 082012

I know you should never start a blog post with a comment on how long it’s been since you’ve blogged. So I won’t. But life has been busy and while ideas for blog posts have popped into my head, I’ve not found time to get them written. So today in an effort to get the blogging juices flowing again, I’m participating in
The Homeschool Mother’s Journal at iHomeschoolNetwork.

  • In my life this week…

I’ve been very busy. I’ve had a lot of work in my not so part time job on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. We did manage to get our Christmas tree decorated and almost a week later finish getting the rest of the decorations up and the boxes stashed back in the attic.

  • In our homeschool this week…

My son David has started a really fun Filmmaking class from Compass Classroom.

  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Don’t dwell on your past mistakes. Just move forward. Everything doesn’t have to be perfectly scheduled for the children to learn.

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

The children have a Christmas party this week at church. We will be doing most of our traveling and visiting right after Christmas.

  • My favorite thing this week was…

Watching my oldest son David, teach my youngest daughter Lizzie her math.

  • What’s working/not working for us…

I need to write more about it, but I am very pleased with my decision to switch William to Christian Light for Math. I’ve never been a fan of spiral math programs, but I’m finding it works so much better for him. He’s finally retaining his math. It’s hard for him to focus through all the work each lesson contains, but he is improving.

  • Questions/thoughts I have…

How am I ever going to teach David to understand literature?

  • Things I’m working on…

Can I say cleaning my room? At least that’s what I said I was working on before I picked up the laptop to write this 🙂

  • I’m reading…

The Miss Julia series. I have gotten hooked on these books. Miss Julia is a Southern older lady who gets herself into some hilarious messes. These are super light reading, but sometimes I just want to escape. Part of my attraction is they are set in a small town near Asheville, NC which is where I grew up.

  • I’m cooking…

It’s Saturday, so in our house that means macaroni and cheese. It’s the only thing that all 7 of us like. I need to start my Christmas baking soon!

  • I’m grateful for…

God’s provision. I enjoyed a month of reflecting on things I was thankful for (though I didn’t blog about it.) 

  • I’m praying for…

Wisdom in teaching my children, and that I can be a better example to them. 

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

Sep 172011

Do you know that commercial with the guy sitting behind a desk saying,

“I can do that. I can do that….How am I going to that?”

That’s kind of how I felt at the beginning of this week.

The kids had 3 cross country meets.

I had 3 writing deadlines.

I had a consignment sale to prepare for and drop-off the clothes for.

My son had a 2 hour appointment for testing that was 35 minutes away.

My daughter started back to violin lessons, and we had a field trip that I had scheduled (and paid for) well in advance.

And there was school to do. And cooking. And laundry. Cleaning pretty much didn’t happen this week.

But I made it! In one piece. And I did everything that I had scheduled.

We had a nice time at Old Salem Homeschool Days with friends.

This lady happens to be our pastor’s mother and church pianist. But she also works as a guide at Old Salem.

We learned about pipe organs.

This is the joiner shop.

The potter.

Learning about levers.

And pumps.

Trying out a balance.

Making lye for soap.

The Viegler House.

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who had a long week!

Sep 032011

I am happy to say that we survived the first 2 weeks of school. It has been busy. It has been tiring. It hasn’t been all smiles, but we have made it.

What is going well:

I am very happy with my pre-planning of Tapestry of Grace. It has helped my 6th grade daughter tremendously. She doesn’t have to depend on me to tell her what to work on. She’s got her list for the week, and she decides what she’s going to read on what days. It’s going well for her. For my 8th grade son, it’s going better than nothing. He tries to figure out how to do exactly 1/5 of each of the reading assignments on each day. He will round to the nearest paragraph, which drives me nuts! I’m trying to be quiet about it after initially asking him why he would choose to do it that way. We haven’t mastered actually getting all the questions answered, but I’m ok with that. We’ll keep working on it.

Independent science for my oldest 2. My 8th grade son has completed Module 1 of Apologia’s Physical Science. He likes it OK. He doesn’t like to do experiments that he doesn’t think are interesting. Let me rephrase that. He doesn’t like to do ANYTHING that he doesn’t think is interesting. My 6th grade daughter is using Considering God’s Creation as her main text. We’re using it somewhat unconventionally though. She is reading the Teacher’s Guide herself and doing the corresponding notebook pages. She’s also going to be using several of the NaturExplorers units..

Reading for my 3rd grade son. I don’t know if things have just finally clicked, or if the Brain Therapy sessions are already helping, but his reading is showing real improvement. He’s finally able to read other things like directions in his workbooks and the chore chart. He does have an evaluation for his learning issues this week. Hopefully, that will provide some more answers.

What needs improvement:

My time management and focus: It’s just hard. I feel pulled in so many directions at once. I think I’m going to make a schedule to see if I can come up with what an “ideal” day would look like. At this point, I don’t even know.

Kindergarten with my daughter: I haven’t been spending enough time with my daughter. That’s not too much of a problem because she is pretty good at working independently. (It’s so funny how different my girls are from my boys…) But, I do need to make sure she’s going things correctly.

What else is keeping me busy:

The 2 older kids had their first cross country meet this week. My daughter actually placed 3rd overall!!! (This was against girls in 6th-12th grades from our homeschool team and 2 area private schools.) I was so proud over her. It was over 90 degrees and she ran a 5K in 26:28. My son is more affected by heat and he only beat her by 30 seconds. He better watch out if he doesn’t want his little sister beating him.

Aug 192011

We are starting Tapestry of Grace Year 3 next week! At the end of last year I did some thinking about our accomplishments for the year and one of the things we didn’t do very well was history. (That’s really an understatement. But I did have a baby, so I’m trying to be generous.) I thought about  trying a new history curriculum, but I kept coming back to TOG. I love the way it integrates history with literature, Bible/Church History, and geography. I like the hands-on activity ideas. But I really had failed to implement it well in our home last year. (Honestly, we hadn’t done so well the year before either.)

So I made a deal with myself (and my husband). Before I went looking for a different curriculum for us, I was going to give TOG one more shot. A really good shot. I was going to plan, plan, plan this summer. I was going to get EVERYTHING figured out ahead of time. I wanted to do this because it certainly had not worked as a “pick up and go” curriculum for us.

But, summer has a way of flying by. I blinked and it was August. It was time to get serious about this planning stuff. I have been working hard this week, and I am very happy to report that I have thoroughly prepared for Unit 1. Here is what I’ve done.

(I purchased the Digital Edition (DE) for the first time this year. These steps include printing the pages I desired to have printed.)

1. Read through the Year Introduction.

2. Made a spreadsheet with all the resources used in year 3. (Downloaded from the website.)

3. Highlighted all the books on the list that I already owned.

4. Went through the list again and checked the on-line library catalog highlighting all the books from the list available from the library.

5. Printed the Teaching Objective, Weekly Overview, and Reading Assignment pages for every week of the year plan.

6. Placed all of the above in sheet protectors.

7. Read through the Weekly Overview and Reading Assignment pages with Sharpie in hand, marking the books that we had or could borrow from the library.

8. Determined which resources we should buy. Marked those on the pages.

Starting here, I’ve just done the first unit.

9. Went through each week in Unit 1 and typed the reading assignments I have selected for my dialectic students. (Yes, they could just use the notebook, but I use some alternate resources, and throw in some upper grammar assignments instead of dialectic ones so it can get confusing.)

10. Cut and pasted the assignments and relevant questions (adding space to write the answers) from the student assignment pages into the same document as the reading list. Printed out copies of the list for each student.

11. Printed page 1 of the Student Assignment pages for the first 9 weeks.

12. Printed the maps for the weeks that we are using them.

13. Printed the Lower grammar literature worksheets that we are using.


That’s where I sit. I need to decide how to store all the pre-printed papers. I don’t want to 3-hole punch the maps, so I’m not sure what I’ll end of doing with those.

That’s my Wrap-up for this week! Be sure to visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for more weekly reports.


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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 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 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.