Friday, December 31, 2010

Week 15, plus 2 weeks of vacation!

 DS5's remote control Christmas present dinosaur eating a chibi bunny!
Week 15: finished what we were going to finish schoolwise, celebrated DD13 becoming DD14, shopped for last minute necessities for girls' trip to Europe, experience our first snow in 10 years (2"), had a little family Christmas on Friday evening, enjoyed the company of my parents for a few hours on Saturday before they took off with DD16 & DD14 for two weeks in Switzerland, Germany and Italy!

My boys gingerbread houses -- long since dismantled and eaten!
Week 16 & 17: Vacation!  Had two families over to make gingerbread houses (SUGERFEST!), wrapped and packed Christmas presents, drove to NJ (listened to The Great Brain), celebrated a delightful Christmas with dh's side of the family, drove home Christmas night to avoid snowstorm (16"), relaxed, played lots of Munchkin, cleaned, got out the knitting needles and started on a dishrag, Skyped with the European vacationers, ate Chinese take out, bought a coat stand, played baseball, avoided all school-related things I should have done...

Thus ends 2010.  It was a good year.  A very good year.  At the beginning of the year we lived in Arizona and had a brand new baby.  Now we live in Virginia and have six wonderful, wonderful children...and a whole new year to look forward to enjoying together!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 14

Starting to wrap things up for the season!  Normally we're further along in the year...but since we didn't start until September, we're right on track.

DD16 & DD13 painted these amazing goblets at a local pottery place.  This was an early birthday present for DD13, who is almost DD14.  Both of them are working on Mini Unit Study 5 in LLfLotR -- the Epic. Excellent background info for when we study the Ancients next year!

We hosted DS10's D&D group here on Monday -- good fun!  I enjoy "having company" while my darling husband does not.  Since he was out of town on Monday, it was win-win!

DS8 & DS5 both got "I was fearless at the dentist's office" certificates this week.  Since we moved, this is a new dentist, not a pediatric dentist, and I'm just never sure how they're going to do...  But they did great!  I bought a Water Pik (primarily for DD16 in braces) and they've been having fun with that.  The bathroom has been drier though!

DD12mo has discovered books.  She likes to read.  She likes to be read to.  Ah, another milestone.

I received a package from CJ's Sewing Room -- some "butter" that I hope will be the answer to the current eczema and diaper rash problems we've been having!  I read about CJ's here and ordered the same day (very unlike me!).

This coming week I will be trying to get Christmas presents ready.  Trying to get my girls ready for their European vacation with my parents.  Trying to plan for the 2nd half of the school year planned.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Week 13

We have 3 NaNoWriMo winners in the house!  DD16, DD13 & DS10 all finished on 11/29!

DD16 drew DS10's characters for him:

She also drew an amazing number of other races to populate his world.

Here are some quick sketches of 2 of her own characters.

DD11mo became DD12mo!  Her simple "Hobbit" Cake (an idea I got from Slowly -- Slowly Climb Mt Fuji) turned out just right!

DD16 & DD13 are preparing for their upcoming Switzerland-Germany-Italy trip with my parents!

DD16 German Family page

DD13 German Color page

DS10 actually picked up a non-fiction book to read, on his own!  And he came to me, repeatedly, telling me interesting tidbits.  He is an excellent reader (taught himself at the age of 4) but doesn't spend nearly as much time reading as his siblings!  So, hats off to author Steve Sheinkin of Which Way to the Wild West?

DS8 is doing so well with Singapore's Challenging Word Problems 2.  And with Writing with Ease 1.  But I want more for him -- richness, depth, meaning, inspiration.  I'm contemplating changes for January.  Even as I contemplate Christmas presents.  And travel plans.  And dentist visits.  It never ends.

DS5's reading: progress, progress!  We're continuing to move along in OPGTR (ank/ink/onk/unk today). He is making connections and recognizing words and bits of words and other such things that make a mom smile!  I want to add to his school day in January also...

Only 3 weeks until Christmas.  Only 4 weeks until 2010!  I'm not ready.  Are you?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 12

Short, efficient school week! Wonderful visit to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving!
1/3 of the school year complete!

DD13's page of animal words
 Thank You notes from left to right: DS5, DS10, DD11mo, DS8

Kids all got to make wooden building's with MIL's husband's woods scraps & nail gun!
I stayed out of the basement...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Week 11

Full week of school done despite mom (that would be me) spending 2 days on the couch with mastitis. All those years of little ones translates into BIG ONES who can run the house.

  • Finished the 200 Sit Up Challenge -- able to do 220 consecutive sit ups!  What an amazing thing! She started with being able to do 31.  I also started this challenge.  I think I did 6.  I didn't get beyond week 2 or 3.  I need to start again.  
  • She is keeping up with her 25,000 word NaNoWriMo novel.  Looks like she'll be a winner for the 5th year in a row!
  •  Packed and delivered 3 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  She wanted to do this in lieu of my buying presents.  I'll probably still buy a few things...since my idea of a completely homemade Christmas hasn't even gotten started. 
Shirt DD16 painted to put into the Christmas Shoebox
  • Took care of DD11mo whenever I needed help this week.  Actually she does this every week.  I just needed a lot more help this week!  We rearranged the seating at the dining room table so DD11mo is on the end...this way DD13 can feed her and I can eat.  It is working out great!
  • Scored a perfect 100% A+ on her first Henle Latin Unit Test!  
  • Keeping up with her NaNo novel also, another 5th year winner in the making! 
  • Faithfully working on his NaNo novel every morning, he'll be a winner for the 2nd year if he keeps it up!
  • Finished Writing with Ease Level 2!  Now on to Level 3.  Might take this level a little slower -- but we're still set to finish the whole book this school year.
  • Continuing to do well with MUS Pre-Algebra, Great Latin Adventure 2, and Challenging Word Problems 4.
DS8 & DS5
  • Did their schoolwork when I was available and got it all done! 
  • Played inside together a lot.
  • Played outside together a lot.
  • Helped to completely clean the boys' bedroom!  Now they have 3 boxes of books (still no bookshelf), 1 box of stuffed animals, 1 box of Playmobil, and 3 boxes of "miscellaneous."  Perhaps next week we'll sort the miscellaneous.  Or not. 
DS8's Finished Multiplication Clock

  • Learning to empty the spoons from the dishwasher.
  • Getting quicker at climbing the stairs before anyone notices.
  • Played in the yard wearing her new shoes!  Finally. 
Next week is a short week for Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful for that!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 10

The inside of a dragonfruit.  Not at all what we expected to see when we cut it open! 

This was an equally unusual week for us. It involving a great deal of driving for me and free computer time for the children. However, school was also accomplished!

DD16, DD13 & DS10 finished the first unit of All American History 2.  This took us from the Civil War through Reconstruction.  AAH a solid curriculum, I'd recommend it if you're NOT looking for integrated projects, living books, interesting tidbits, and a general sense of fun.  Hmm, I guess Bright Ideas Press won't hire me to write their ads!  But it is ideal for us this year.

In an attempt at giving DS8 a richer and more meaningful education, I had him take the week off of Math-U-See Gamma.  He hasn't struggled with multiplication yet but he hasn't enjoyed it either.  I decided to make this gorgeous Multiplication Clock that I had seen linked on another blog.
 Drawing the circles circles.

Creating the lines.

 Writing the multiplication facts.

   Starting to color.

 Making progress...

Creating this reminded me why I'm not a project-based schooler.  I find it stressful, on many levels...there is DD11mo wanting her pudgy little hobbit-hands in everything, there is me wanting the project to look exactly like the book (blog!), there is the child doing the work who would rather be doing something else (computer, reading, outside...anything but school).  But I do think this will help with the multiplication facts!

I've been wondering why DS5's reading hasn't taken off.  I really thought he'd be beyond "ppppp-aaaaa-tttttt" by now.  Last night the baby went to bed early and I lay in DS5's bed to read a chapter of Little Men aloud to all three boys.  Normally I sit on the floor while the baby plays around me and the boys lay in their beds.  He kept calling out words he knew (the, yes, I) and it occured to me that he doesn't see print while I'm reading all that often.  He never sits next to me during a chapter book and often during a picture book his is scampering around on the floor.  Even if he wants to sit by me he doesn't always get to -- taking turns, sharing, and all that.

A few other notes from the week:
* Ken Burns' Civil War (available via Netflix) is excellent -- DD16, DD13 & I have been watching it at night for 30-45 minutes at a time
* In Flander's Field (Charlie Brown on YouTube) and A Pittance of Time (click video) are wonderful for helping children understand the importance of remembering on Veterans Day
* Every trip to the car dealer for repair work should be allotted 2 hours, minimum
* Likewise for the DMV
* Oatmeal makes a fine dinner when it is just mom & the kids
* Having friends is important
* Winter is coming...we aren't ready!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Week 9

Time flies when you're having fun...and sometimes even when you're not!

Not that it was a bad week:
DD16 finished her heraldry study (military history) and is beginning to research apples (horticulture & nutrition). DD13 & DS10 continue to progress in the respective Latin courses (despite me!). DS8 finished his Sound & Light science book (need to find him something new). DS5 is cheerfully moving along in his workbooks with no problems at all.  DD11mo thankfully doesn't care that she still doesn't have shoes!

NaNoWriMo is going well -- DS10 gets up at his usual 6:00am and writes, DD16 has her turn at 7:00am, and DD13 at 8:00am.  DD16 writes again the evening to get her complete word count.  I'm glad I'm not writing...

We studied the history of voting on Monday and Tuesday, with a "field trip" to our local polling place...the school where my younger ones would go if we didn't homeschool.  I meant to look around but since there was no line, it was in and out lickity-split.  We chose the electronic polling option and I was letting each of the kids push a vote -- since there were 5 things to vote for and we had decided ahead of time.  However, I was reprimanded and had to push the last two buttons myself. Ah well.  It was an experience.

On to the weekend!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 8

Only Monday and Tuesday were school days.  I think I've forgotten most of what we did.  DD15 & DD13 took the third LLfLotR vocab quiz (100%) and then the first test (100% before grading the short essay on friendship, which I have yet to do).  DS10 & DS8 each did two days of reading, writing and math. They also completed a single day of each two-day subject.  DS5 did all his work each day.  So much time off of phonics will probably require a day or two of review to start off this coming week!

Why did we take the rest of the week off?  My parents came to visit!  And DD15 became DD16!  No driver's license in her near future...she plans to walk or bike, and thinks the world would be a better place if everyone else did as well.

Her presents included a squirrel-proof bird feeder...

A hoard of books (all fantasy from the used book store) at the end of treasure hunt written by DD13 in dragon-script...

And jade ring that belonged to her great-grandmother...

We also played a hot potato-type pass the present game that involved me reading a dragon picture book.  Each time I said "dragon" you passed the present on your lap to the person on your left.  At the end, everyone opened a glow stick!  The holder of glow stick with the ribbon was the winner of the box as well! 

It was a wonderful birthday -- sunny & 70, perfect for being outdoors!  Two long walks were taken. One in the morning to Lowe's with Grandpa:  I'd heard you could walk to Lowe's and my dad is the adventurous sort who can't pass up the opportunity to visit a hardware store! While they were off on that trip, my mom & I went to Costco.  She has a membership and now I have lots of diapers, olive oil, and the like!  In the afternoon, we all went on a trail hike.  Dinner was vegetable stew with a 16-sword cake for dessert! 

Besides the birthday festivities, we went apple picking!  That day was COLD and WINDY and how our family is to survive winter after 10 years in Arizona, I do not know.  The apples are fabulous though and we've made chunky applesauce, apple-banana muffins, apple-oatmeal pancakes and are dehydrating a bunch of sliced apples now!

Tomorrow begins a new month! Tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo! 

Tomorrow also begins a new week of school...and other busyness!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 7

Noteworthy accomplishments this week: 
DD15 finished her herb research (pictured above)!
DD13 has scored another 100% A+ on a Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings quiz!
DS10 finished Writing with Ease Level 1, on to Level 2!
DS8 finished Chapter 5 of Math-U-See Gamma!
DS5 can recognize the word THE and has stopped sounding it out!
DD10mo has her very first sippy cup!

Not accomplished this week:
Nature Study, Art, Poetry...

Coming up next month: NaNoWriMo!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Castle in Progress

Using the out-of-print book Make Your Own Model Forts & Castles by Richard Cummings (published 1977), DD15 has created the basis of her Norman Castle for Military History!

She started with a piece of drywall generously donated by the neighbor (instead of the book recommended plywood).

Between a utility knife and a small saw, she cut the drywall.  The lack of perfect edges will make the finished castle more realistic.  In computer terms, this would be a case of "It's a bug, but we'll call it a feature."

 Three walls cut...not sure how to attach them yet.

She decided to duct tape the walls together and texture the whole thing with vinyl spackling paste.  I think it's looking good.

She mixed black and white acrylic paint to create shades of stone.

A platform painted to look like wood is perched on a few nails.  And the basic castle is complete!  I'm so proud!

Once DD15 creates the drawbridge and grounds, I'll post more pictures!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Current Chore Chart

Like most families, we've tried a lot of different ways of parceling out the multitude of household chores.

At our old house we had "zones" -- each child was responsible for a zone for a week with the weekend including the big chores in the zone: dusting & cleaning one of the bathrooms, or scrubbing the kitchen floor.  It worked fairly well.  The big plus for me being whoever had the zone was responsible for daily pickup in that area.

Our new house doesn't have the same layout, nor does the family dynamic seem the same.  So after a couple months of settling in and a few false starts, I present the new 5 Week Chore Rotation schedule!
This chart is in a page protector on the fridge, near a dangling wet erase marker.  The children's initials are written in the first column.  I say children's but it is actually my own, DD13, DS10, DS8 and DS5's initials.  I'll explain why in a moment.

So each of us is responsible for something for the whole week.  This week I am on Dishwasher -- I empty it in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  Since DS5 is on Kitchen, I'm doing the bulk of that as well this week as well!  Kitchen means you clean up after every single meal.  That is a lot of meals!  BUT you only have to do this job every 5 weeks.

Now, why isn't DD15 on the rotation?  Well, she was.  But she didn't like being told what to do. Welcome to the real world, kid? Yes and no.

We're a family.  A family is about as real as it gets, since jobs come and go, houses come and go, friends come and go...but for better or worse, your family is always your family!  And in a family, I believe, you should be able to shine where you're strong and grow where you're not.

And how does letting DD15 "out of the chore rotation" accomplish this?  Well, she is already responsible for mowing the lawn.  And she independently pitches in with preparing meals & cleaning the kitchen.  And willing does whatever chore I ask of her -- take out the compost, hold the baby, take out the trash, etc.

And so, being a family and working with her strengths, I'm on the chore rotation and she's not.  She is responsible for everything out of doors -- mowing, taking out trash/recycling/compost, watering plants, sweeping the deck, shoveling in the winter, etc.  That is her domain.  And she happily helps where she sees a need in the house.  Which is primarily in the kitchen!

We're in the 4th week, and so far so good!  I might add a "zone" component so that each area includes a zone to keep picked up.  This would be good because with DD10mo walking she can strew toys and pick up small bits (Risk arrows? Dice? Paper scraps? Grape becoming a raisin? You drop it, she finds it.) faster and earlier than I expected!

What chore plan is currently working for you family? Because I know this won't last forever!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

5th grade (2010-11)

Current checklist for DS10 in 5th grade.  This sheet is in a page protector on the refrigerator with a wet-erase marker dangling nearby.  He fills in each square each week and then I wipe it off on Sunday night.   He can chose any order and any number of things each day -- as long as they get done!  And no doubling up.

Provide it is all done by "close of business" on Friday, he may get up at  6:00 on Saturday and Sunday to play on the computer.  Huge motivator.  He has never not finished.  But even if he didn't have this computer-carrot dangling he'd finish.  He's that kind of kid.

The three on the bottom (Nature Study, Poetry & Art) are done at my discretion.  Unfortunately we haven't done any of them in the last few weeks.

Reading:  Novel or other book of my choice.  I plan to work through the 1000 Good Book List plus use books from the historial time period we are focused on.  He's a good reader (taught himself at 4) but doesn't read for fun the way his sisters do!
Exercise: He is the only one of my children who has this requirement.  He's a (very slim) couch potato and now that we've moved and he's no longer in karate...well, I think he needs this requirement.  So do I, but that is another post!
MUS Pre-Algebra: He is currently doing 4 pages per week that his older sister didn't use (B, C, D, F, and the honors page, which we do together).  If he hits a wall, we'll slow down.  Next year I'm thinking Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Biology before he does MUS Algebra.
Latin: Great Latin Adventure 2 -- he did GLA 1 over the course of last year.  Memorization comes easy and he is doing very well with this course.  Not sure about going into Henle 1 next year though (which DD13 is doing now!).
Writing: Going through Writing with Ease from the beginning at a very rapid pace.  I believe he'll accomplish all four levels this year.  Last year he did IEW's All Things Fun & Fascinating.
American History: All American History 2 (Civil War to the Present).  I had planned on using SOTW 4 but decided to just included him with his older sisters.  So far he is doing great listening to me read, filling out the battle info, and completing the reviews as quizzes.
Reading Comprehension:  Something new this year! I bought him Jane Ervin's Reading Comp Book 3. It would be easy, except I'm having him do the additional writing assignments. :)  One lesson a week.
Grammar:  Currently I'm using The New Handbook of Composition but I'm contemplating switching to something more current and applicable.  Or maybe just the 5th grade Spectrum Test Prep & Practice books! :)
Nature Reader: He is reading aloud to me from Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader 4, one section at a time.  He reads aloud veryveryquickly and we're working on slowing down.  Actually, he has much improved in this area since last year.  I should probably switch him to a higher level book, Nature Reader 6 or something different entirely.
CWP 4:  Singapore's Challenging Word Problems 4.  When I heard they were reformatting these I bought a complete set.  He does 3 problems (one page) each time.  The practice problems he can do without me and get correct.  The challenging problems we have to do together and don't always get correct!
Comic Math: Comic-Strip Math is just an easy addition to his week.  Keeps him thinking!  Lots of different applications!'s busy work.  :)
Chemistry: Real Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1.  He knows the info already.  I should make a change to something more challenging.  Perhaps in January.  Yes, that is what I'll do.  Double or triple up on the reading pages and chose one experiment a week and finish in December.
Logic: Logic Liftoff is mostly easy & fun.  He did the first book in the 3 book series last year.  Some days he'll do a multitude of pages, other days just one.  I expect he'll finish this book before January.

It might look like a long list but he finishes quickly and easily almost every day.  He could use more challenges, more depth and richness.  I really need to get Nature Study, Poetry and Art added in!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week 6

No pictures...I inadvertently converted the iPhoto picture files on the laptop to the newer version we have running on the desktop computers.  Oops.  Posting pictures will now require me to use a desktop computer in our basement office.  It might be a very long time before I get the cool castle-building pictures uploaded!

DD15, DD13 & I have developed a good evening routine.  When I put the boys to bed around 8pm, they start watching a Great Battles of the Ancient World Lecture (Teaching Company).  I come down to watch the end and discuss it with them.  Then we go over their Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings pages and discuss those.  Both girls are enjoying LLfLotR -- I think when we get to the Unit Studies they'll like it even more.  I've read this curriculum can kill a love of the books, but I don't think that will be the case here!

I'm not thrilled with my choices for science or grammar for DS10.  Science is Real Science Odyssey's Chemistry Level 1 for 2nd-5th grade.  Having done Ellen McHenry's The Elements a few years ago he hasn't learned anything new.  And he doesn't really enjoy experiments, which is the basis for the course!

For grammar I borrowed a book while at my parents' house in August.  The text my mom and her brother had used in high school: Woolley's The New Handbook of Composition.  Really.  I thought it would be a great free source, something we could sit on the couch and do together.  Well, it is all that.  But some of rules are over my head.  Way over.  And I'm not certain that some grammar rules haven't changed! And with no teacher's manual...

DS10 finished reading No Man's Land (a Civil War story) and will take the Writing with Ease Level 1 evaluation next week.  I'm just doing the example weeks with him from the teacher's book until we get to where he's not comfortable.

I'm not happy with science for DS8 either.  Its a slim book on Sound & Light -- but almost all the experiments have been a bust!  I don't think he has retained much at all.  What I am happy about for him is he is starting to fix things around the house!  For years he's been taking things apart.  This week he reversed the door knob to the boys' bedroom.  It was on backwards when we moved into the house.  And I gave him my little kitchen scale that was broken.  He took it apart and brought it back, working!

DS5 doesn't even have science and I'm grumpy about that too! :)  He is doing great with what he has though -- Singapore's Earlybird Math B, Handwriting without Tears, Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, and Explode the Code 1.  A pile of workbooks.  But they get done and he doesn't mind school at all.  He'd rather be outside playing though!

DD10mo has almost completely given up crawling.  She's toddling everywhere!  I must buy her some shoes.  This week.

I've been reading several interesting books including the following:

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (Gretchen Rubin -- on February.)

Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia (Robert Lacey -- about 50 pages into it, learning a lot!)

Virginia's General: Robert E Lee and the Civil War (Albert Marrin -- he had nicknames for his 7 children.)

Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Botsford Comstock -- I've been trying to read the first part for weeks as part of Barb's Handbook of Nature Study blog.)

Thus ends another week.  Now to read about all your weeks!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 5

The days are long but the years are short.  
I heard this somewhere along my homeschooling true!  

DD15:  Norman Castle for Military History

DD13: A page from her "Soldier's Life" compilation

DS10:  School done? Check.  Chores done? Check.  Computer play time? Check.  Exercise? Check.  This boy needs a hobby.  Or three.

DS8: Whizzed through Lesson 3 of Math-U-See Gamma!  Struggled with "answering in complete sentences" in WWE.  Almost done reading Little House in the Big Woods.

DS5:  On Monday we rushed to the store on the way to our afternoon D&D group.  As I hurried the children through the parking lot, in the wind and drizzle:
     DS5: What day is it?
     Me: Monday.
     DS5: Awesome!
There was no reason for it to be "awesome" -- we were going to a store (not for him), in the cold (and we don't have seasonal-appropriate clothing yet), before going to yet another place (not for him)...and yet! It was Monday.  It was awesome.  It's good to be five.  And it's good to be a five year old's mom, too!

DD10mo: Worst -- Waking in the night a lot.  Best -- Looking at books and making little noises as she "reads" to herself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Elven Magic...a quicktime video

I just came across this creation by my DD15 and DD13 from last summer.  It's a little unpolished at the beginning but has lots of cool elven magic spells!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu(less) Plan Monday

Last Monday I was so excited about my menu plan a la Orgjunkie.  It was fabulous.  I followed it all week.

This Monday I am not so excited because I have no menu plan.  Why not? I just haven't made one.  And I have to go to the grocery store tomorrow.

Monday: Baked Eggplant, raw veggies, muffins...tasty enough, although the boys said it was a "do not make again" recipe.








Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 4

Week 4 Announcement: All my curriculum has finally arrived including Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings!  Oh, happiest of days!  DD15 & DD13 started immediately and plan do lessons on Saturday and Sunday, too.

We probably won't do that every weekend but DD15 has to get 4 permanent teeth pulled next week.  We have a new orthodontist -- his assessment & x-rays reveal a myriad of problems that have been caused by the braces and/or should have been corrected over the course of these past two years.  I'm angry.  But DD15 (to my amazement and motherly pride) is willing to do what it takes to get it right, even if that means two more years in braces.

DD13 has been researching sugars and sweeteners for her nutrition course.  I told her to put all the informations she learns about polysaccharides, glactose, xylitol, etc, etc into an easy to read format so that I can read and understand and join knowledgeably into conversations!

DS10 started The Great Latin Adventure 2!  He did GLA 1 last year and I had planned to review all summer, but alas...  He is reading Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction this week.  Not a literary tome but I couldn't remember what book I'd picked for him this week!  He does read a lot on his own but all fantasy brought home from the library by his sisters...primarily Dragonlance novels this month.

DS8 has been reading a lot.  I still can not believe that he has only been reading since last summer!  He started Little House in the Big Woods (thank you, Writing with Ease!) and I read him the first few chapters of the original Pinocchio (again, thank you, WWE!).  He then read the next six or so on his own and I read 3 more aloud tonight.  I've never read it before.  Only watched the Disney movie, years and years ago.

DS5 is wrapping up learning the sounds of the letters with OPGTR.  We'll do XYZ tomorrow so we can start reading on Monday.  He is easily making his way through Singapore's Earlybird B...academics are seeming to come naturally for him!  Which means less stress for mom & student. :)

DD9mo is taking more and more little steps...often two at a time.  I'll say she's toddling. Her new favorite game is "roll the ball."  Her 1st top tooth as finally cut through -- and she's slept better the last two nights.  Happy baby! Happy Mommy!

Yesterday it rained and rained and rained some more. DD15 &13 took a long walk. Elves don't mind the rain, you know. DS8 & DS5 played outside for most of the day. They came in to "do school" and have their "computer time" but the rest was spent outside. Several changes of clothing and washings of muddy feet and many worms rescued... DS10 & DD9mo & I stayed inside, though it was neither warm nor dry. Sort of damp and clammy. We've some adjusting to do from moving from the Western Desert to the Eastern Swampland! Including to the size of the insects. The person who told me "the bugs are bigger" was not kidding.

Thus ends the first month of the 2010-2011 school year!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Monday in September

By "Weekly Report Friday" I've forgotten what we've done.  But this isn't so much about school as it is "a day in the life" of a homeschooling family of eight.

6:30am Wake up and head down stairs.  Boys are already up in the family room reading.  They are allowed to get up at 6:00am.  This is because I used to get up at 5:30am... Juice our "green lemonade" of kale, lettuce, apples & a lemon.
7:00am Make dh's breakfast of saute´d broccoli, mushrooms, onions & red pepper on a bed of baby spinach. Then pack his salad lunch.  Baby wakes up.
7:30am Make whole wheat pancakes for everyone else's breakfast.  DD15 cooks the pancakes. Nurse the baby.
8:00am Forgot to start with our reading of Psalms and Proverbs.  Do a hodge-podge of school with the boys while the girls are off doing their own schoolwork.
9:00am Read All American History and discuss with the 3 older ones.
9:45am More school with boys.
10:30am Decide to go grocery the rain.  Take the oldest & the youngest with me, leaving DD13 to do school while boys play computer games.
11:45am Amid the unpacking of groceries, DD15 cuts up the watermelon for a snack, I cut up the butternut squash for lunch and decide to try making Peasant Bread using 100% whole wheat flour.  DD15 feeds watermelon to DD9mo and then gives her a bath.
12:45pm Hurry everyone to eat their squash & veggies.  Give DD15 & DD13 instructions for finishing bread, making their Barley Mushroom Stew, completing chores and of course, having computer time.
Leave for D&D.  Still raining.
1:30pm Enjoy myself sitting and chatting with with the other homeschooling moms who all seem to enjoy the fantasy genre and natural living...just like me!
4:45pm Come home to dinner cooking.  Ah, the joy of having teens!
5:00pm Try Peasant Bread.  Heavy, dry, little flavor.  Children declare it perfect for serving to weary travelers at an Inn.
6:00pm Eat Barley Mushroom Stew and fresh veggies and more bread. Some children eat outside.  Too rainy for me.
6:30pm Hubby finally arrives home to his cold stew and dry bread. Guess he gets to play the roll of weary traveler.  Then he has a conference call!
7:00pm Since we can't listen to Dad read, we watch a travel video on Switzerland in prep for girls' upcoming trip.
7:30pm Try my kumbucha tea (got the starter last week at D&D).  Fizzy & tasty!  Put into 3 jars on the counter.  One with nothing added. One with a little lemon juice added.  One with lemon juice and honey added.  Made more tea to begin process again.
8:00pm Put boys to bed. Let girls know they may have computer time.
8:30pm Put baby to bed.  Sit by hubby reading Book 2 of the Wheel of Time on his kindle and read The Wednesday Sisters. Ahhh...
9:30pm Baby crying.  Nurse her.
9:45pm Make stovetop popcorn to sustain the late night crowd.  Read more.
11:00pm Baby crying at being left out of the late night crowd.  Nurse her. Say goodnight to girls.
11:30pm Finish book, leave hubby reading his kindle and go to bed.
12:00am Baby crying. Nurse her.
12:30am Baby crying. Nurse her.
3:30am Baby crying.  Go in and she's quiet.  Go back to bed.
5:00am Baby crying. Nurse her.  Wonder when she will be done teething....
6:30am It's Tuesday morning!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My first Menu Plan Monday

I'm feeling inspired after reading Loving My Domestic Life! Here is my first Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.

This week should make my boys happy...I’m planning THREE pizza-related meals!  And by doing that, they don’t complain about the raw vegetable side dishes...even the ones with celery! That makes me happy.

Monday: Barley & Mushroom Stew from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman (prepared by DD15 & DD13)

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza (whole wheat crust recipe from M/A2010 Clean Eating magazine)

Wednesday: Left over rice stir-fried with eggs & veggies

Thursday: Windy City Pie filled with zucchini, onions, spinach & mushrooms (deep dish pizza recipe from same issue Clean Eating)

Friday: Fire Island Penne made sans sausage

Saturday: Scarborough Fair Potatoes (Summer 2008 Clean Eating)

Sunday: Calzones (again that same Clean Eating whole wheat crust recipe...I double the recipe and divide into 3, one for the day and two for the coming week)

Now, I just have to go to the grocery store...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 3

The first 10 elements of the periodic table created with chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lentils!
  • Applied for passports for DD15 and DD13! They will be traveling with my parents to visit my newly married sister in Germany & Switzerland at Christmas.  
  • Played D&D...still getting used to our new characters.
  • Took a family walk to the elementary school playground. 
  • Went to Lowe's to look at lumber for building raised garden beds. 
The weekend was not what I had hoped it would be...which was a trip out to the Shenandoah Valley to a Civil War event. I have not yet come to terms with the fact that my family spends the weekdays working or doing school and on the weekend they want to do nothing.  Whereas I do the same and then on the weekend I want to do something...I guess because otherwise it is all the same to me.

School Week: 
DD15: Finished her Military History Battles assignment!  She did an excellent job recreating the maps. I'll post some of those soon!

DD13: Started All American History 2.  99/100 on first Henle quiz.  Moving along in learning German!

DS10: Attended his first non-family D&D group!  This is a homeschool group of boys who take turns DMing, I think it will be a great fit. (For me too -- I got to chat with the other mothers and came home with some kombucha tea starter!) Began All American History 2.  Worked on Real Science Odyssey Chemistry but without the recommended multi-color marshmallows!  See picture at the top.

DS8: Read The Little Horse...I told him to read 2 chapters a day and he read the whole thing!  And he was my latest reader!  Started Writing with Ease 1 and began reading Little House in the Big Woods.  Started Math-U-See Gamma and Jane Ervin's Reading Comprehension B.

DS5: Began yellow Handwriting without Tears book.  Began Singapore's Earlybird Math B.  Learned H-M in OPGTR!  Can't wait til we get to blending!

DD9mo: Standing so well!  She's taken a couple single steps.  So not quite walking...YET!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 2

Skinny-tail the Squirrel, one of the three to frequent our "bird" feeder

Highlights of Week 2

Five in a Row:  Make Way for Ducklings, using the book that had been given to my dad when he was a little boy!

Bible: Continued reading in Psalms & Proverbs.

MOM: Rainbow Resource box arrived!

DAD: Evening read-aloud Stonewall Jackson: A Life Portait by K.M. Kostyal

DD15: Staked out spots for her raised beds and arbor (horticulture credit).

DD13: Began Henle Latin using the MODG Syllabus.

DS10: Completed 15 pages in his brand new Liftoff Logic 2 book.

DS8: Memorized 7 continents & 5 five oceans in memory binder.

DS5: Learned B, C, D, F & G in Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.

DD9mo: Letting go and standing!  And still squirrel watching.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


We started a new D&D campaign this weekend with DD15 as our DM!  Using D&D tiles and bricks from DS10's "Brick and Mortar" castle set (yet unfinished), she created a wonderful little intro encounter to get us familiar with our characters.

In addition to playing D&D, we're participating in The Million Minute Family Challenge by playing board games!  Apples to Apples, Life, Uno, Blokus and Trivial Pursuit have all been played this month.

All this is part of my current "Less Computer -- More Life" mantra.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week 1

The 2010-2011 School Year has begun!

DD15 & DD13 are both working on course work for high school credit this year.  However, they are currently spending two weeks in the Midwest with relatives -- I've heard they've been horseback riding, clay oven building, jelly making, swimming, apple picking, concert attending, tractor driving...real living, real learning.

The rest of us got out the school books we currently have and got started!

Bible time: New this year.  A last minute addition.  This week it consisted of DS10 reading a Psalm followed by each of us (DS10, DS8 & I) reading a verse from Proverbs 10, a short prayer by me, and finally a singing of "Father I Adore You" while holding hands and walking in a circle around DD9mo.  It was a good addition to the week, but DS5 is not engaged (except during the song!) and none of us recalls much about what we've read by dinner.

Memory Binders: Also new this year.  Each boy has one with his work listed in the front in a page protector.  Following in page protectors are memory/copywork items including full name & address, days of the week, continents, seasons, etc.  They have the week to copy all in permanent marker (erasable with rubbing alcohol). On Saturday they recite what they know for Dad.  If they have something memorized it will go to the back of the binder.  If not, they'll copy it again next week.

Five in a Row: Peter Rabbit from Vol 2.  We listed all the vegetables Mr. McGregor grew and looked them up in seed catalogs.  Then DS8 made a graph of how long til harvest each one took.  While he was graphing, DS10 & DS5 attempted this How to Draw a Rabbit Lesson. DS10's two drawings are at the top! We made current buns...the recipe I found on the internet wasn't the best though.

DS10 began Math-U-See Pre-Algebra, Singapore's Challenging Word Problems 4 and Comic Strip Math. He orally completed the first several rules & exercises in Woolley's New Handbook of Composition (graciously borrowed from my mom's school days).  I think this will be a favorite!  He read aloud from CLP's Nature Reader 4, completed 2 labs in RSO's Chemistry, and read Linnea's Almanac by Cristina Bjork.

DS8 began Singapore's Challenging Word Problems 2, read And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz and started her The Cabin Faced West, and started a review of the rules from First Language Lessons.  When we get to where we left off last year we'll go back to the book.  He read aloud from CLP's Nature Reader 2 and started a Sound & Light science book.

DS5 learned the 5 vowels from Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and played 2 math & 2 phonics games.

DD9mo spent her time primarily squirrel-watching, but she also work on improving her crawl and trying out her two bottom teeth...