Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekly Wrap Up: Smooth Sailing

I haven't done a weekly wrap up in a long while. I guess I was bogged down with getting our taxes done for the year ('08) - and then we had house guests, and then we had a wonderful wedding to attend in New Orleans and then it was Thanksgiving.

My kids with their cousins enjoying New Orleans

My brother and his beautiful bride

Well, finally things have calmed down and are a little bit back to normal or at least normal for us. Anyways, this school week started on Tuesday. I decided to give the kids an extra day off. This is definitely a wonderful perk of homeschooling. We stuck with the basics this week and all went pretty smooth. I decided to rearrange our schedule (a never-ending endeavor!). We are now doing math, science, grammar and reading (for Ashley, my 1st grader) first thing in the morning. They are the most important subjects and if we can get them accomplished first thing then the rest of the day is cake. Doing things this way made the week run much smoother and we accomplished a lot each day before noon. It also helped that we all got up fairly early (for us) and began school by 8:30.

We were able to get in a nature study this week. I really love the challenges posted on the Handbook of Nature Study blog. We are way behind on our challenges. We completed the Autumn Series: Weather Study. We took a nature walk around our neighborhood but I would really like to find a place close by that is more wooded and more condusive to seeing more nature.

We have been trying to play a game about 3x's a week called Rummy Roots. This is a card game that introduces Latin/Greek roots. It is a fun and fast-paced, challenging game that is a great way to build vocabulary, and alphabetical skills by exploring the Greek and Latin roots of our English language. Not sure why but we have such a riot playing it. We are all pretty goofy so maybe that is why we are having fun but it was definitely a highlight of our week. We are only just beginning (we started the week before Thanksgiving) so we have only been playing with one deck but we have been keeping a running total of our points. When one person reaches one hundred which will be next week then we will add a new deck. By the way, I was in the lead but Tyler pulled ahead today and Samantha doesn't have a chance!

This week Tyler has just finished studying about the Vikings, Samantha is in the midsts of the early 1800's studyiong the growth of America and Ashley just read about the very first Thanksgiving. I will be so thankful when we start doing history together next year because this year has been pretty crazy. If anyone out there has a recommendation for a history curriculum that I can use for a 13, 11 and 7 year old please let me know all about it!

We got our tree up this week and our nativity but I have a few things still to do. This weekend I hope to set out our Christmas village and put out my snowman collection (something a yankee girl living in the south cannot do without! lol). Plus, I want to put away all the plastic tubs that hold all the decorations back up in the attic. We have a second tree we usually put out but I am just not in the mood this year so I've decide not to. Also, I have been going through my decorations and getting rid of the items I really do not care for.

Tonight, Jeff and I were able to go to our favorite Chinese restaurant and enjoy an evening out together. Our church had a parent's night out and I am very grateful to our pastor and his wife for this wonderful gift. We rarely get a night out together. Tyler is almost 13 so he is old enough to babysit but my next kid is 10 and they fight like a cat and dog. So parent's night out at church was definitely peace of mind. Plus I have an unnatural fear that someone might choke and so they are not allowed to eat while we are gone. I know, I am crazy. I will probably have Tyler go to a babysitting course sometime this year even though he thinks it is just for girls.

Also, good news, Jeff got a night job working at a local grocery store. It definitely is not replacing the income he normaly makes building houses but it will help slow the drain on our savings and since it is a night job he can still be available during the day when some jobs (praying) come in next year.

Please visit Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to view more weekly wrap-ups.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Wrap-up: Nature Study Kick-Off

This week was a little more exciting then last week. We started a few new things this week.

Tyler joined the local Homeschool Association's bowling league. He will be playing on a junior varsity team. They play every Wednesday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm. This is a great opportunity for him to mingle with some other homeschoolers and take a mid-week break from his studies. He bowled okay but said he had a great time. There will be tournaments at the end of the season. If he continues to play through high school he can earn a letter and can earn scholarship money in the tournaments.

Samantha and Ashley started Awana this week. Awana is a church program. The kids learn bible verses, play games and have fun. Awana helps kids to know, love and serve Christ. The girls had a great time and are looking forward to next week.

Tyler also started soccer this week. Practice was Wednesday but games don't start for another week or so. The first practice was in the rain but that really is no problem for my son...usually the muddier the better!

So now our Wednesdays are very full. Ashley has a morning dance class, Tyler has to leave the house by 12:45 to get to bowling and then in the evening Tyler has soccer practice at 5:30 pm and Samantha and Ashley need to be at Awana at 6:30 pm. We did pretty good this Wednesday, getting pretty much everything done. We got the basics done in the morning. Tyler did bring a couple of things to do in the car on the ride to the alley. So our day is definitely doable. Although I felt like I spent very little time at home except to eat lunch and dinner.

At the academic level...Tyler continued with his studies of the Middle Ages. This week we read about Attila the Hun. We also have a History channel movie to watch about the Huns this weekend. Samantha started reading Johnny Tremain and we are both enjoying this book so far. In science, Ashley learned about amphibians and about bird migration which worked out perfectly with the kick off of our nature studies. This Friday we took a field trip to Holly Springs, MS to attend the Annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration. It was great! Not only did we learn about the hummingbirds, we also got to see them get banded. Then individuals were allowed to hold them until they took off to continue their migration to Mexico. Samantha wanted to release a hummingbird but she never got the chance. There were a lot of people vying for that. Besides the hummingbirds we also attended an awesome lecture on bats and learned a whole lot. I am now seriously considering a bat house for our backyard to help control the bugs. I'm thinking green - less pesticides sprayed on the grass and in the garden! We saw a presentation on snakes, visited booths with animal pelts, live snakes, spiders and hissing cockroaches. Learned to identify animal tracks and animal scat (eww!) Two kids got face paint. It was really a great festival and we will definitely return again next year.

Check out more weekly wrap-ups with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekly Wrap-up

This week was pretty uneventful. We did get to use our new schoolroom this week and it went pretty good. It was nice having everything we needed all in one place. Tyler went to his room a couple of times to read but for the most part we all spent the day together. We also have a reading area in the dining room so they can go there or up to their rooms or outside.

We did add in music and typing this week. Our music curriculum is very simple. We use a book/cd called Stories of the Great Composers. For each composer you learn some facts and read a story to help reveal his character. Finally there is a puzzle or short question and answer page. The cd has a composition for each composer. I have also been trying to put on classical music throughout the day. Our typing program is Typing Instructor Deluxe. The kids enjoy this.

I hope to start our nature studies next week. I think we will be kicking them off with a field trip to the 10th Annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration in MS on Friday.

I signed up for our area homeschool association. They seem to have a lot to offer including sports teams, debate, spelling bees etc. Tyler decided to join the bowling team so starting next week we will be headed to the bowling alley every Wednesday afternoon.

Tyler has been reading a fun book: Archers, Alchemists, and 98 Other Medieval Jobs You Might Have Loved or Loathed and his assignment last week was to list some jobs from the Middle Ages that interested him and tell why he thought they were interesting. After that he went here and took a short quiz to find out what career would have been his medieval "dream job". He got Shepard and wasn't very happy about that. Then he was completely appalled when I took the quiz and got Black Knight! Hahaha! The quiz is really for adults so some questions weren't really fair for a child to answer but it was fun none the less.

Check out more Weekly Wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I now have a schoolroom! Last year, when we started homeschooling, I had set up a schoolroom in the playroom upstairs. After a couple of weeks, of spending the day upstairs, we felt really confined. There is only one window in the playroom and the ceiling is low so we felt like we were spending our day in a cave. We made the decision to move downstairs. I have a second walk-in pantry in our kitchen so we used that to store all our books and supplies and basically did school at the kitchen table or in the livingroom. It worked out ok but invariable come dinner time the kitchen table would be piled high with books and stuff. Also, since the kids were working everywhere including their bedrooms, books and papers would become misplaced and we would end up spending precious time looking for things and becoming frustrated.

We are beginning our 5th week of school come Monday. Yesterday we finished up school and there were books, papers and projects from one end of the house to the other. I decided it was time to take over the front room and turn it into our new schoolroom. First I had to convince my husband since the front room had become his "man cave". He, along with the kids, used that room to play the PS3 too. He said he didn't care as long as he didn't have to move anything. That was fine with me and I got to work... 7 hours later and I have it pretty much put together. I still need to organize 2 of the bookshelves, put up the USA map and hang a couple of cork boards for displaying work.

I wish I could move that couch up to the playroom and get rid of the one up there but this one has a hide-a-bed and is heavy and Jeff said no way would we be bringing it upstairs. I still need to bring the kids desk chairs in,

I copied this calendar idea from a friend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our Second Year of Homeschooling, Day 3

We started school on Monday and things were good and things were pretty bad. I chose to just jump in and do it all this week. When I say do it all that includes introducing the kids to some of the new curriculum they will be using this year. It really is a lot of info to give the kids all at once and as prepared as I thought I was there was a lot of things I still wasn't fully prepared for. I found this tip today on Kris's website and I will be sure to implement it next year.

Anyways, my middle child was awesome. She really has had no problems with anything so far. We switched her to Horizons Math from Saxon which seems to be a better fit for her. She has a hard time staying focused on things that don't interest her, like Math. Horizons is colorful and she has a workbook to write in rather than transferring problems to a piece of paper. May not seem like a lot but for her it makes a huge difference. She also is using Sonlight 3/4 for her core. This is our 1st year to use Sonlight. She loves to read and Sonlight is all about reading so again a perfect fit. My youngest did ok but still complains quite frequently when she has to write more than 2 sentences. It's easy to get her back on track though. I just give her a choice: go to your room with no privileges for the day (no tv or game time) or do the work I ask. Smart girl, she always chooses to do her work. She particularly enjoys science experiments. So far this week she has done experiments to learn about water currents and to learn how blubber protects whales from the cold temperature of the water.

My big problem this week was my oldest! The first day he complained the entire day about everything! And the sarcasm meter was hitting the roof. It may be his age (12 1/2) but I also think that on Monday he was tired and he was having PS3 withdrawals! During the summer I am very lax. I let them stay up pretty much every night until 11 pm 0r midnight. And towards the end of the summer they were spending way too much time playing video games. Once schooltime hits so does the change in bedtime and restrictions on all screens. Another issue I have with Tyler is his goofing off. If I leave the room he is usually the first one to start acting like a nut and I am not sure what to do about it.

Anyways, today he was good. He told me he thought this year would be a good year (surprise, surprise). He enjoys studying the Middle Ages, loves Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra and enjoyed his science experiment today. Also, today we decided to adjust his schedule some so we will see how it goes. I do know it will take a good month to get in the groove of it all so I will try to be patient. Patience not being my strong point.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Last Week of Summer Vacation

I'm joining in again on the weekly wrap up meme hosted by Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. The first part of our week was pretty laid back. It seems like we did a lot of laying around and watching tv.

I made a mini office for Ashley. I got most of my printables from here. I also did a little bit of shopping and got some materials to make a flannel board. I have a ton of Sizzix dies so I will cut out of felt a bunch of shapes, including numbers and other math manipulative shapes. I think Ashley will enjoy using it for Math and for fun - creating scenes with the other shapes.

I completed Tylers schedule for the first month of school. He has a guide that we purchased for his core but I wanted to set up a schedule for everything else. Also there are some subjects that aren't scheduled everyday.
Samantha and I watched Pride and Prejudice (part 1) - very good! We got part 2 in the mail yesterday (netflix) but haven't watched it yet.

Ashley had a couple of friends over for the day. They had fun playing and swimming.
We visited with my brother and soon to be sister-in-law. They are moving to Austin, TX from Albany, NY. So on their long drive from NY to TX they stopped by to see us and other friends they have in the area. They were traveling with their dog and cat. Their dogs name is Shmelbe and he and our Chloe had fun playing together.

We also had huge storms in our area that evening, lots and lots of rain. A tornado actually hit a mall about 30 minutes from us. I even had a friend who was in the section of the mall that got hit. Thankfully, she, her husband and their baby are okay but their van was totaled. At our house, our yard flooded and mud ended up in our pool again. Our sun room flooded as well. This is the second time this has happened. Today, Jeff did a little investigating out behind our fence line. Short story is we have calls into a couple of people who need to take a look at a ditch that was being used to keep rain water out of a subdivision back behind our property. This ditch is aimed right at our yard and is so overgrown that water is not being diverted properly and is instead flooding our yard and the yards of a few others.

So anyways we have a couple of days (and a couple of hundred dollars) of trying to clean up the pool.

We spent today vacuuming up the pool. Tonight I need to get to bed early because a friend and I are going to yard sales early tomorrow morning.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our 2009-2010 Curriculum

I have spent countless hours researching what we would use this year. My biggest requirement for the curriculum is that it be a living books curriculum. At first I really wanted to try and keep the kids on the same core program (for example, they all do American History) but the more I looked at all my options and the more I looked into their interests the more I came away with individual curriculum for each of them. Samantha and Ashley are both doing American History but using different curriculum. It will definitely be a challenge this year but I also feel like Tyler will be a little bit more independent this year too which should help. So here is the plan:

Ashley Grade 1
Heart of Dakota: Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory - This is a very gentle program that includes Bible, History, Geography, Science Poetry, Reading, Storytime and Art. It also offers Language Arts and Math or you can use your own LA and Math. I am choosing to use my own which will be Explode the Code, Language Lessons for the Very Young, Horizon Spelling (I got this free from paperbackswap!) and Horizons Math. Although I may use some of their copywork.
Bible: Morning Bells Devotional
Hide ‘em in your Heart CD
History/Geography: American Pioneers and Patriots
Stories of the Pilgrims
Boys and Girls of Colonial Days
Science: God’s Wonderful Works
Readers are scheduled throughout the year as well as plenty of read alouds from different genres
I am adding in:
Phonics: Explode the Code
Language Arts: Language Lessons for the Very Young
Spelling: Horizons 1
Math: Horizons 1
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Grade 1
Critical Thinking: Mind Benders Beginning Book 2
Scholastic Success with Maps Workbook Grade 1

Samantha Grade 5
Samantha is my reader so hopefully Sonlight should be a good match for her.
Bible, History/Geography, Language Arts: Sonlight Core ¾ American History
Science: Winter Promise The Human Body and Forensics
Grammar: Easy Grammar 5 and Daily Grams
Vocabulary: Word Roots A2
Spelling: Apples
Math: Horizons 5
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Grade5
Critical Thinking: She has several books to choose from Critical Thinking Activities, Red Herring Mysteries, Brain Stretchers
State Study: Star Spangled State Book
Keyboarding: Typing Instructor Deluxe

Tyler Grade 7
For Tyler we decided on the Middle Ages. But since I feel a need to try and keep him in line with Fayette Academy's curriculum, he is also doing TN state history. The program I chose seems really neat and not too overwhelming so I think it is doable.
Bible, History, Geography: Winter Promise Quest for the Middle Ages includes the history of the Christian church. This program uses the second Mystery of History book.
TN State History: Exploring TN Notgrass Co.
Science: Apologia General Science
Language Arts: Wordsmith (creative writing)
Grammar Easy Grammar Plus and Daily Grams
Vocabulary: Vocabulary from the Classical Roots
Spelling: Apples
Math: Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra
Critical Thinking: Building Thinking Skills Book 3
Keyboarding: Typing Instructor Deluxe

I also want to start weekly Nature Studies using the challenges from Handbook of Nature Studies blog.

My wish is to do Rosetta Stone: Latin American Spanish for Homeschool and the Music curriculum: Music and Moments with the Masters. But right now I don't have the money for these and right now I think our plates are pretty full. Mid-year if I feel that we can fit something else in and I have the money I may add these in.

The kids also have various activities including: piano (Sam), soccer (Tyler), dance (Ashley), gymnastics (Sam), swimming and various church activities. We may also participate in 4H and a co-op that offers art, home ec and P.E.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Helen Keller Festival

Samantha has to read the biography of Helen Keller for school and the same book is a read aloud for Ashley so when I heard that there was a Helen Keller festival I thought it would be a great trip for us. Apparently, Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Al and they have a festival every year to commemorate it. Tuscumbia is about 2 hrs from us so it was a nice little road trip for me and the girls. They had live music, rides, food, arts and crafts. The house where Helen Keller was born is a couple of blocks from the festival.

We didn't arrive until about 2pm which was good because it was very, very hot that day. The girls rode a few rides and then we checked out the Arts and Crafts. After that we decided to take the train ride...3 times...because it was so hot and it was nice to just sit and try to feel a breeze. The girls both got free face paint and made some un-free candles. We checked out a waterfall and then took the shuttle into town. The town was very cute and had a lot of shops. Unfortunately they all closed around 5pm so we really didn't get to check any of them out. We did find a nice Italian Restaurant to eat at. Finally we made our way to the Helen Keller house and the play the Miracle Worker. The play was absolutely fabulous and I highly recommend it. ($8 each for the 2 hr play and $3 each for the festival) It had a lot of funny parts too which helped keep Ashley involved. We didn't spend a lot of time in her house just because there were so many people there. But we did get a good number of pictures. And of course we got a picture at the infamous water pump.

The bad part of the whole thing was after the play the shuttle was supposed to be there to pick us up and bring us back to the festival. I think we ended up missing it mostly because Samantha wanted to get signatures from the actors which I am glad she did. We left the Helen Keller grounds around 10:30pm and waited for the shuttle for about 10 minutes. When it didn't show up I decided we better start walking since we still had a 2 hour drive ahead of us. We weren't really positive which way to walk but ended up in the right direction and with the help of a few people and after walking SIX blocks with two VERY slow girls we made it back to the festival with only a few blisters on our feet. The festival was over but we got to our car and made it home safely. All in all, we had a great time. Ashley said it was the best day ever but she regularly declares this so I am not sure if I can use that as a reliable measure.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Down on the Farm

We are excited because apples are actually growing on our apple tree! Who'da thunk it!

Ashley plucked one, we cut it up. I can't eat apples but everyone said it was pretty good.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What we did in May

We were fairly busy in May and had quite a few momentous happenings.

We finished our first year of homeschooling. We celebrated by going to Lichterman Nature Center and then to O'Charley's for lunch. Our friend Kelly and her son Mitchell went with us.

Ashley had her Kindergarten graduation. Her class recited the poem Trees and the Christian Cadence.

By Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

a poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by kids like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Christian Cadence:

Leader: I don’t know but I’ve been told
Kids: (repeat)
Leader: We’re gonna walk on streets of gold
Kids: (repeat)
Leader: I’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Kids: (repeat)
Leader: filled with the Holy Spirit I am
Kids: (repeat)

Leader: sound off
Kids: one, two,
Leader: sound off
Kids: three, four,
Leader: sound off
Kids: one, two, one, two… THREE, FOUR!

Leader: The devil’s mad and I am glad
Kids: (repeat)
Leader: He’s on the run and that’s no fun
Kids: (repeat)
Leader: The King of Kings is coming back
Kids: (repeat)
Leader: Gonna clean his clock and break his back
Kids: repeat

Leader: sound off
Kids: one, two,
Leader: sound off
Kids: three, four,
Leader: sound off,
Kids: one, two, one, two…THREE, FOUR!

Samantha had her 10th birthday. We went to the Olive Garden to celebrate. She also made it to Girls II (one level up from where she was) in gymnastics. She had been striving for this so we are very proud of her!

Due to our dog Chloe this doll experienced an untimely death by decapitation within 20 minutes of being released from his box. :(

Jeff also celebrated a birthday.

This happened in June but for Samantha's birthday she received tickets to see ECW and Smackdown live at the Fedex Forum. Obviously Jeff Hardy is her favorite. And yes ,Jeff and I are most definitely worried about what the boys will look like that she will eventually bring home. Of course that is like 11 years from now since she won't be allowed to date until she is 21. LOL!

We plan on spending the rest of our summer relaxing, reading, swimming, doing a little bit of Math and just hanging out with each other and friends. We are also hoping to go on a trip to Minnesota to visit family.

Bathing Beauties

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