Monday, December 26, 2005

Five Months Later . . .She returns to her blog!

I haven't blogged in five months and one day. I started this so long ago. I almost forgot that I had it.

We had a fabulous Christmas. I didn't need to "do" anything to fend off the "low" feeling that I often feel during this time. This was HUGE. I think going on my first Advent Silent Retreat really helped me focus, and I had a direction for the season that was just lovely and peaceful.

Not that it is ever busy. I have this aversion to overcommercialized and busy Christmastimes. I usually have all my shopping and wrapping done by December 1. This year, I waited until after my Advent Retreat and took a few minutes here and there to wrap the last gifts. I usually do TO much ahead of time and I am bored. Then, the LOW comes.

So, I felt directed to declutter, and I did. I deculttered my closets and went through the downstairs with the boys in order to organize and declutter their play area. Now, all I have left is the guest room closet (which doubles as a craft closet). It really looks pretty good down there, but I know that the boys' craft draw in that closet is in need of some decluttering. After that, maybe the boys' Lego drawers, but they really aren't too bad.

I just purposed to do it a little bit at a time. I am so "addicted to closure" that I overdo things to get to the finish. So, I took little breaks to declutter from which I took little breaks to read from which I took little breaks to cuddle kids from which I took little breaks to talk to friends from which I took little breaks to clean. It was a nice calm flow from one little bit to another.

I have also scrapbooked during this time, but I wasn't feeling led to it. So, I didn't do it! I decided INSTEAD to read through all those books that people have given me to read that I either

1) Felt obligated to accept and read
2) Wanted to read but knew that I really didn't have time with my other readings

So the week before Christmas and this week have been this, and I have loved it. I had eight borrowed books, and I have gotten through six of them. I have done it "slowly" and enjoyed the process immensely. Some were forgettable. Not too impressed, but they weren't bad. The ones that have impressed me amazingly were

Whose Land, Whose Promise about Palestinian/Israeli conflict
Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

Both are excellent! Wished I had read them sooner.

I only have two more to go now: Scapegoat by Du Marnier and Affliction by Francis Shaeffer.

Trying not to be too addicted and enjoy the experience.

Blah, blah, blah. This is fun, but in anything, I don't want to become so involved with this Blog that I don't enjoy the life I live. I learned this on the Silent Retreat too! I also don't want to lose the art of writing in a physical journal. :)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

We went to the welcome of our new worship pastor tonight at church, and I "clicked" with the wife. I like her. She is a homeschooling mom of three children. Their oldest is going into seventh grade. The youngest is five years old.

I am in a good place with NWHills right now. I want to be an encouragement. I am finding that now that I have left the people-pleasing behind, it is so much easier to be myself. It is a good feeling.

On The Well-Educated Mind front, I finished White Noise rhetoric questions today. Now, I am starting Possession. Then, I will be ALL done. A major BHAG accomplished! I am so happy :)

The kids had a fun day at church and playing with John after until 7 p.m. Then, we brought John back to the Smith Welcome, and they had a great time in the back forty. Mom stayed at home.

I am off to bed. Nothing profound to say, just part of my day.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Summer stuff

Hard to believe it has been almost two months since I blogged anything. So, I am going to blog a bit here and say what we have been up to.

We are loving our summer. Today, we pick my mother up from the airport.

The best news is that I finished the novels for the Well-Educated Mind. I still need to do questions for the last two books, but I feel very finished. It was an amazing journey, and I am very grateful for Nikki. She is just as determined as I am, and this has been so good!

I also finished my training for Interactive Metronome after four years! Michael has finally been trained, and I am happy to be done. Two BHAGS in one month is exciting.

Off to the airport!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Evaluation and Musings of a Free Homeschooling Mom!

We just took our last spelling test today! My oldest had two more pages and the test, but I told him he could skip the pages and go straight to the test. For a "follow the rules" kind of guy, it was a big step for him to LOOSEN UP and do it, but he did. We finished at 10:30! WOOHOOO!

Here is the Year's Summary!

American Indian Prayer Guide was a hit-out-of-the ballpark kind of experience for us. We loved learning about their history and were saddened by the white man's treatment of our most precious national resource! It was eye-opening and a pleasure to pray for these tribes who have been so mistreated. No wonder many reject Christianity when the Christians were so stinky. (Sonlight Press)

Next Year: I was going to do Windows on the World, but I found a book through the Presidential Prayer team called Kids Who Pray for the USA (ISBN:1-4003-0296X). It helps them pray for the USA and its leaders with stickers and a banner and postcards. They also learn history along with it. Looks HOT! May do Windows after we finish this if there is time.

We started out loving the John: Study the Bible 4 Yourself by Kay Arthur, but it began to BOG DOWN. Three books just for one book of the bible was a little TOO detailed for kids, IMHO! We got to John 13 and decided to pick Chapters 14-21 up next year. Suprisingly, my great idea to include The Gospel of John DVD got boring for them too. I thought since they were making a movie with the Kay Arthur study it would be good to "see" a movie with a word-for-word translation. It bombed!

After Easter, we just read through The Ladybird Storybook Bible. This is our second time through, but they just loved this colorfully illustrated bible.

Next year: We will TRY to finish up John and read through Egermeier's or Hurlbut's again.

It worked to combine Story of the World: Volume 3 AND the Sonlight History Read Alouds from US History 3. It was much more US history than World, but that is OK. We used the Mapquest maps too. Also,

Monday, April 25, 2005

We have one more week of history!

This school year is winding down for us. We went down to CA, and I took advantage of our trip through the Sacramento Valley to teach about the CA Gold Rush. So, I skipped ahead to the 1850's. Now, I am backtracking, and we just learned about the "Ladies of Lowell" in American Adventure. These were the ladies who left their farms for a couple of years to work in the textile mills of Mass. in order to save money for a dawry. (sp?) We will learn about the Spanish-American War and The Alamo and Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. I might do a bit of Civil War studies before the 4th of July or wait to go to the reenactments next year after we have studied it. Who knows.

Michael only has two more days of Grammar. Paul has fifteen days of Math, but Michael has a bit more. So, we will probably do twice as much on the remaining days of school. It should be fine. He has really turned a corner in Math lately. Helps so much that I switched it to the beginning of seat work!

Michael will also be starting a cyberschool where he will create a software game. We just got it in the mail, but I have to wait for George to do it.

In my education, I am reading a book on Leadership Emergence Theory and The Invisible Man.

Off to bed to rest my cold and read!

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Bring Lewis and Clark Studies to a Close

We just finished The Captain's Dog for a fictional account of a dog's perspective on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It was fun, and I supplemented it with other books that gave us pictures and such.

The next read-aloud will be Imprisoned in the Golden City. I have liked many of these Trailblazer books. Some have been duds, but I hear this one is very good. So, I am looking forward to it.

We are very close to finishing out our history for the year. There have been MANY read-alouds. I am a little burned out. I will have to pick and choose them next year and not try to keep up with all of them on the Sonlight list. There really are too many for us to keep up!

Paul finished grammar, and Michael only has ten more pages. We have about 30 days of math left too. I am not worried about spelling because I am finding dictation to be a better to teach spelling to them anyway. I can bag the formal stuff for Michael next year, and I might do the same with Paul.

Not a very exciting BLOG. I am too lazy to put pictures on them. Actually, I forget how to do it.

I am off to read George Orwell's 1984.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mid-March Madness

Spring has come early to our town. The flowers are blooming!

Here is a homeschool update:
History - We are studying Lewis and Clark. The Sonlight book by Neuberger was BORING! So, we bagged, and we are just reading The Captain's Dog. I haven't been as impressed with the Sonlight Read Alouds this year! We hope to take the train to Astoria and visit the sights of the L&C Expedition. Good hands-on learning.

Science - We finished up our reading in Usborne Science Encyclopedia. Now, we are doing two chapters in Abeka Science. We finished the chapter on light and just started energy and engines today. After this, it is ALL experiments and write-ups until the end of the year!!!!!

Bible - We finished the first Kay Arthur book for kids, and they really got bogged down. For the second, we are doing most of it verbally. I want to finish John, but I may do it over two years instead of one year. We have also resumed our character studies in history and just finished David Zeisberger

Math - Praise to Bob Jones Math. I love it, and the kids like it too. Mathphopic Michael is gaining comfidence! It is very encouraging to me. Paul will be done soon. He has less than one hundred pages. I forgot that I am very good at math, but I just never liked it. It is nice to see as an ADULT that math is so important. It makes teaching it more fun for me. As a kid, I didn't know how vital it was to life.

Grammar - Paul figured out he only has fourteen days of Grammar, and he wanted to do it all yesterday! A closure boy after my own heart! Michael is a few pages behind him because math usually takes so much longer for him.

Writing - Hallelujah! We have found dictation that has worked for us. We started with The Arrow Subcription. House at Pooh Corner saved us! Humor won out for dictation. I will slip in humorous passages from their favorite books. It is good. Thanks Julie! We practice cursive, grammar, and also spelling in the dictation. Like this.

We are also doing more freewrites, and I will start more science writing. This is our slow-moving skill, but it is moving. I am glad it is not tested on the tests. I can take this slowly and carefully.

Spelling - We have slowed down on Spectrum because we are incorporating it into our dictation. I may two years to go through Michael's book, but there is not one behind it! So, we are good.

Read Alouds - We are reading The Captain's Dog. It is OK so far. I just read Island of the Blue Dolphins. George just read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. They loved that one.

Plays - Puss and Boots was a big hit. LBCC always does a wonderful job.

Spanish - We finished up the second term and will not be doing it in the spring because we are going to California.

Swimming - Michael is one arm stroke stroke in the backstroke from Level 8 in swimming! We will continue after we return from California.

BOOKit - We were real good about doing our Pizza Hut Rewards with the Kinkades. In fact, we are going today to redeem our February Coupon.

Field Trip - Went to the Science Factory in Eugene. My kids liked it. Christopher was bored.

Boy's Group - Always a highlight of their week!

Dial-A-Book - Going well. Now that we are not doing Spanish, it will be easier to do it.

For my WEM:Read the Trial and reading Native Son.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Fantastic February

I am summing up February since I didn't get much opportunity to BLOG in the last month or two.

Read about the American Constitution using wonderful books like If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution, A More Perfect Union: The Story of the Constitution (Maestro). We also included America Rock DVD about "The Preamble." It was a lovely month of easy history. We also learned all about George Washington using the wonderfully illustrated D'Aulaire book! We also learned about the beginning of the industrial revolution by learning abou the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney. Our "tall tall" was about Johnny Appleseed.

Read Aloud
I decided that some of the Sonlight RA's were just too boring. So, I skipped a few this month. George tried to get through Carry on Mr. Bowditch with the boys, and they bagged it after 18 out of 24 chapters, and we are fine with that. Too boring. They had faired better with Justin Morgan Had a Horse. It is the story of the beginning of Morgan horses in the US.

For fun, we listened to Bunnicula and went to a play in Salem on the book with the Alexanders and the Kinkades.

We went to Bunnicula (Salem) and Miss Nelson is Missing (with the Cowdens and Pearce Alexander in Newport). Fun to be on the "play circuit" again.

Field Trips
We went to the Science Factory in Eugene with the Kinkades and the Schaefers. My kids managed to keep themselves pretty occupied for three and half hours.

Finally dictation is working for us! The KEY: find a book they REALLY like and dictate from that. I found it in The House at Pooh Corner! It has opened up all sorts of doors. I think Hank the Cowdog books will be the dictation of choice! I have incorporated spelling and cursive handwriting practice into the whole thing too!

They are still doing a bit of Spectrum Spelling; but if they worked on their spelling for dictation, we skip it! It is so easy to teach spealling in the context of writing. I never wanted to try it before because they both hated writing so much. Maybe they are just ready now.

Hallelujah! I honestly think Michael has turned a corner, and things are clicking so much more easily. Actually, concepts have never been too hard, but his computation was always so behind that. Now, he is computing at a faster rate. Of course, Paul has always done well. Paul just finished multi-digit multiplication and is now in metric measurement. Michael just finished multiplication of fractions and is on to ratio, percentage, and proportion. I love Bob Jones Math!

Almost done with our Usborne Physics section. We are currently studying color. I will be done with the reading portion of the book. Then, we will do experiments the rest of the year with the Wizard kits and the 101 Physics experiments.

Well this has bogged down, and the boys have said they don't like it. I could have sworn they liked it when we started. I think it is a bit too detailed for kids though. We are on John Chapter 9, and I will just go through half of John this year and the other half next year. No sense in beating their heads with it. It will come in time.

Boys Group
On a positive note, the boys group bible study with the Alexander boys and John Pearson has been a huge success. George handles all of it, and they meet every other Wednesday. They discuss Proverbs and have been working on a multi-scene play. They did some star-gazing last week. Love this.

Paul continues to read Barenstein Bear books, and Michael reads a chapter of Hank the Cowdog every day. We also buddy read in history.

Physical Education
Love the fact that Michael can swim, and Paul and I have one-on-one time together while he does it. We have been walking, and this has been lovely. I love to just talk with that guy! Michael's teacher pointed out to me that he has a perfect breast stroke. He is doing laps of freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. He is more than halfway through Level Seven now.

Love my Wednesday afternoons of peace, quiet, exercise, and relaxation. George takes them, and they are speaking more and more Spanish daily. Like this Mr. Campbell as the teacher.

Beverly retired, and I am sad. I hope the new coordinator is as nice as Beverly has been to us. We are enjoying this, and it has become second nature to the boys. I want service to be like this for them for their whole life.

Easy Grammar is just that: EASY! I don't even have to think about it.

Greek-Latin Roots
I am just doing those 108 roots, and I decided to make up my own cards from copying the book. It is too complicated to have them make the cards up even though it reinforces the learning, it just makes it more of a hassle and battle. I want to get through them like flash cards after we finish Easy Grammar in April.

So, that sums up my February. I have things that I am learning.

The Well-Educated Mind
I finished questions for The Great Gatsby, House of Mirth, and Mrs. Dalloway. I am reading The Trial and hope to finish it today. Nikki and I are stuck at House of Mirth because her questions are not transferring.

I read The Bounty for book club, and we George and I watched The Bounty with Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Liam Niesson. I watched Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando with the book babes. Interesting to learn about this because it is the period of history that I am studying with my boys.

Bible Study
I have been meditating deeply in James 3 and studying through the "teens" in Acts. I had opportunity to apply James 3 in the context of the Acts study. It was very good but scary.

Well, I am off to rest the rest of the afternoon. I love my life. LOVE it!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

February Fifties Party

George and I went to a fifties dinner at Suburban Christian!  What fun! I went to the local beauty college and they did an updo and makeup (including false eyelashes!) for only 10 dollars!
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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I am cruising!

Finally! I got a picture to post! :)

I love this journey. My kids are happily stripping their beds. I am sitting here happy that I finished the The Heart of Darkness questions, and I am fast approaching finishing The Red Badge of Courage questions. I hope to get alot of reading on the plane and at mom's.

We just finished studying Ben Franklin and are going to studying about late 1700's pioneer life. We are going back to Dynamics and Motion in Physics. Math is moving to measurement, and swimming starts today.

Must exercise today before it slips away from me. So many goals. So little time.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

We started up the year yesterday, and it has been painless. We read a great book called How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightening that is gorgeously illustrated! We are reading a more boring biography in the Abeka series, but it still gives more details about his early life.

Paul is doing multiplication and Michael is doing adding and subtracting of fractions, and it hasn't been too bad. Patience is high. Love is strong. We are flying

On my own Well-Educated Mind Quest, I am reading Heart of Darkness and doing the questions for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Red Badge of Courage. Maybe I should post my answers from here on out. That would be fun. I am also reading My Own Two Feet, a autobiography of Beverly Cleary that is light. I needed light after heavy books like Portrait of a Lady, Red Badge of Courage, and the current Heart of Darkness!!!!! Michelle asked me to start another book club and NOT read classics, and I said I couldn't handle another book club unless it would dovetail with what I am already doing with the classics. I love meeting with other women though. It sharpens me!

I wish I knew how to post pictures to this blog. :(. I will have to read up.

Paul is in the Performance Hall of his last song on Piano Discovery. If he finishes "Heart and Soul," he will have earned the right to buy his own Nintendo.

Sunday Seventeen Freewrite

  New Tea Pot and One of the Cups I have not written a freewrite for so long. I thought I would write in a different font. I am going to try...