Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 4-2011



I really need to come up with some better titles for my wrap-ups. They're easy to keep track of this way, though.

As we're closing in on our first month of schooling, I think I have a pretty good idea as to how our schedule is working for us (and how it's not).

Since I don't have a whole lot of highlights from this weeks studies, I think I'll concentrate on the changes we're making.

1. Bible - I want to sing hymns every morning, I really do, but my stress level actually goes down more when I use part of breakfast to get ready for the day's lessons. We can sing hymns in the car.

2. P.E. - OK, so I know I haven't mentioned this. It's a little embarrassing. I mean, really, isn't "no P.E." one of the reasons TO homeschool? Perhaps I can elaborate on another post, but lets just say I thought it would be a good way for all of us who could use a little morning exercise to get some in. What better way to exercise, too, than as a family? Can't you just hear the laughter (it's probably just a suppressed memory of the laughter that my gym uniform evoked)?

On the positive side, the kids are using this time to ride their bikes in the driveway. (I guess you know who's not getting their exercise, now.)

3. Nature Study - I put 3 nature walks a week on our schedule. I know. I'm laughing looking at it now, too. I have to re-type the schedules. One will be all we can manage.

As I look back over these items, they all represent images of how I think our homeschool is supposed to look. That's always gets me in trouble.

Thankfully, I have friends like Ellen who caution me against things like paying up front for the entire year's P.E. curriculum.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Weeks 2 & 3 - 2011



Our morning Bible time is working well, now that we've moved our devotion to dinnertime. We practice reciting our memory verses and character traits and then read some related Bible passages. I'm finding that it's better to do just a little bit everyday, rather than skip it completely because time is too short to finish everything.

The one thing I would like to include, though, is prayer at the end. As we wrap up Bible and breakfast together, everything has been a little chao
tic, and we (I) frequently let myself get carried to the next thing without stopping to pray.

We are all still enjoying our evening devotion time using Long Story Short. The short passages and simple but thoughtful questions have really stirred some great discussions around the dinner table.


Bearclaw's class covered India, Afghanistan and Africa in the late 19th century over the last two weeks. The section on Africa focused on David Livingstone's work, about which I was fairly ignorant (save all but the Stanley quote).

Shortbread began his study of ancient Egypt with looking at the significance of the Nile river to that culture. I'm sure he's having a bit a deja vu , as I know he remembers quite a bit from when Bearclaw studied the ancient period.

While Bearclaw finds Abraham Lincoln an interesting study, he is not thrilled with reading a biography. He's slightly more excited about this one than the Paul Revere biography that they read last year, but he's still rather read historical fiction or fantasy.

Shortbread is enjoying The Real Story of Creation, which accompanies the first weeks of digging into the ancient time period in history. The illustrations are lovely, and it covers the creation story from Genesis in a way that could work with almost any Christian viewpoint.

If review is helpful in grammar, then Bearclaw should be gaining a lot right now, since his class has been in review mode for all of these first weeks.

Spelling presents the opposite situation, since the class has skipped from Spelling Workout C to Spelling Workout E.
It's been challenging!

Shortbread has also been reviewing, using Saxon Phonics. So far, it's not my favorite, but then, I didn't do a great job of giving Bearclaw a solid foundation in phonics, so I'll wait and see.

More of the same: review. But next week, Bearclaw starts measurement (length, weight, etc).

We're continuing to use The Handbook of Nature Study blog (by Barb) for our nature study. Last week, we took a trip to a local park for some hiking/walking and found some items of interest to log as the first entries in our nature journals.

I was pleased with both boys willingness to take a break from their digging, wandering, wading, etc. to focus on sketching. Bradley focused on acorns (which he needs find "further evidence" about). Shortbread zeroed in on the Common Pawpaw tree, which has huge leaves and looks as if it belongs in a prehistoric tropical forest somewhere.

I'm so far behind on Wrap-ups (crud, it's only September), that I can't even link to the other Wrap-Ups.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 1/2011


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Yeah! We all lived through our first week of school. There were a few scrapes, bumps and bruises, but nothing permanent.

The boys had a great first day at their one-day-a-week program (the dog didn't go):

As for the school work - it went something like this:

We finally have a plan that I hope will work. We will continue to memorize the verses that our hybrid program sends home, as well as study the Christian character trait they assign each month, but we're moving our daily devotion/study to dinner time. Dh has agreed to lead; he's doing a fabulous job (he's much funnier than I am). We're using a new book called Long Story Short, and it goes through the Old Testament in very short, manageable pieces, while showing how each weekly topic points to Jesus. I was skeptical of it's claim that it only takes 10 minutes a day, but it's true. All of us are loving it!

The year I've dreaded has arrived: the boys are studying completely different time periods for history. It IS more work for me, as I predicted, but it's also proving to be easier in some respects, because the discussions are a little smoother one-on-one. I guess it's like many things, and much of the outcome will depend upon my attitude.

4th grade - Bearclaw is starting the "modern" time period, from 1850 to the present. This week we looked at the huge British Empire during Queen Victoria's reign and also discussed the increasing tension over slavery in the U.S.

I began reading Courage to Run as a family read-aloud, which is based on Harriet Tubman's early years. We also listened to the beginning of Oliver Twist on audio, read by Dick Cavet. Unfortunately, he read so fast, even I had trouble following it, so we never finished it. We'll try again in a few years.

Finally, we discussed the work of George Mueller in England on behalf of poor orphans. We listened to and audio recording about him from Your Story Hour, which the children enjoyed.

1st grade - This is Shortbread's first year of narrating for history. In the past, he has followed along with our history using coloring pages, maps, and projects, but now he has his own history narration book and he'll be doing the same things he saw his brother doing over the last few years.

Bearclaw is reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln. He made the classic "milk carton log cabin" by attaching pretzels to a sawed-off half-n-half container (no school cafeteria to provide the 8-ounce milk carton) with royal icing:

1st grade -
Shortbread's first literature book is The Real Story of Creation. I do most of the reading to him, and then he narrates to me and works on the literature assignments.

4th grade - Bearclaw is feeling pretty comfortable with language arts this year, as his spelling, vocabulary, grammar and writing curricula haven't changed since last year. He's humming right along with much less dawdling. Halleluhia!

1st grade - Shortbread has not yet started spelling, but for handwriting and phonics, his class is using Saxon Phonics. The jury is still out, I guess, but the work seems rather dry to me. Conversely, I'm a big fan of the grammar curriculum, First Language Lessons. Bearclaw and I used this in first grade, and we both enjoyed most of the lessons.

4th grade -

Yeah! Bearclaw has moved on to Primary Mathematics 3B, which is from Singapore Math. So far, so good. Of course, it 's mostly review now. He did manage to figure out one of their methods for mental calculation that I just couldn't get. You know, old dog and all.

1st grade -
Shortbread is zipping along in Primary Mathematics 1A. He is definitely a math guy.

With Bearclaw in 4th grade and Shortbread in 1st, I'm beginning to see this year as the last year I'll have "young" children. Because of this neurosis, I have decided to chuck formal, classical science and cling to what's left of their childhoods with nature study.

We're using the "Handbook of Nature Study" blog, by Barb, who is also the Harmony Arts gal, I found out. We purchase her "getting started" packet, with the first 10 lessons and some sketch
pages. I'll try to post pics of our adventures.

Here's our first nature "walk" with some local friends:

It evolved into a sand/dirt castle building session, but we did see a black rat snake slither down the opposite bank of this creek, and then two frogs jumped into the water from the area where the snake was. Later, another snake swam down the creek a little ways from us.

We fear slightly that the next trek might be a bit of a let down. At least for them.

That's it for this week one! Only 35 left...

And Here We Go...



This post marks the kick-off of our first full homeschool week. I've been wildly preparing over the last month, and I think we're kinda, sorta prepared. Did I finish all the tasks I laid out accomplish last month? Well, no...but the filing has already waited 3 or 4 years, so what's one more?

We always gain energy from fresh starts, so I revamped the kids' schedules, my schedule, our curriculum, the school room, and, hey, even the menu. I stayed away from the dog's schedule. He only has three activities anyway.


You can take a look at our new schedules here.

Don't be dismayed that every 30 minutes of our lives seem to be planned out. We don't really live that way, but it does help keep the kids from lying around complaining of boredom or asking for screen time. Put a schedule in front of them that appears to lack adequate free time, and suddenly they're riding bikes in the driveway, running through the woods behind the house, or picking up a book that isn't assigned reading. They are bound and determined to squeeze in as many unstructured minutes into their structure as they can.

Aside from having so many planned "activities" (is having tea an activity for kids?), our schedules contain a lot of detail this year in terms of what subjects we work on when. I did this to avoid the end-of-the-week discovery that we'd forgotten 2 or 3 assignments that week. Unfortunately, we haven't become accustomed to the schedule, so we're still forgetting things. Sigh.

I used a free five-day schedule Excel template from PEAH's (Parents Educating at Home) website to create our schedules. It's completely editable, I've used it ffor several years in different ways.

School room:

When we decided to homeschool, I thought we'd just work at the kitchen table, on the sofa, on the floor - wherever. My mom asked me if I didn't need a dedicated room for schooling. I thought she was just stuck in her "school" mindset. Until I started reading and checking. Turned out most folks had some sort of "school room".

Now, of course, I realize that most of us (me) need a school room to keep the school stuff in. School work is fine for the kitchen table, but school books/supplies/projects/etc. are not. Especially during dinner. We spill.

I do enjoy having a school room, and I found a ton of fantastic ideas on various blogs that inspired me. Over the past 4 years, the converted bedroom has gone through a few reorganizations, but I think we're set for this year:

When I'm working with the one or both boys, we generally sit at the table in the middle of the room (which is getting a bit cramped for my big guy). During their independent work, I really "encourage" them to go somewhere else (upstairs, kitchen, neighbor's house), so that I can work with the other child uninterrupted.

Needless to say, their work areas in the school room don't see much action, but they are great places to keep more stuff and hang schedules!:

So with all of the planning and preparation out of the way, we started school! How did it go? Read my weekly wrap-up to find out...

Wrapping Up


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This is the first time I've logged onto blogger in over 3 months. When I know I'm behind on something, I tend to avoid it, which is not very helpful in terms of getting un-behind.

When I last posted, I was already doing a poor job of posting timely wrap-ups, but since my main goal in maintaining this blog was to log our homeschooling progress, I wanted to keep going...and then May hit.

I don't know if it's a good thing or not, but I've pretty much forgotten everything from the last six weeks of school about which I intended to post an update. Still, in order to avoid huge loose ends flapping wildly in the wind, I will provide a brief synopsis of (what I can remember from) those last weeks of school. :

In May we focused on encouragement. Sort of. Looking back, something tells me I was probably less than really focused on it, since I'm sure I spent most of May rushing us from one event to another. I tend to "encouarage" cooperation in those times with the volume of my voice. See who needs a morning Bible revamp?


We finished up SOTW Volume 3, minus a few chapters. We covered such topics Mexico and the movement west in America, which includes discussions of the Alamo, the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush. Bearclaw enjoyed the novel, Moccasin Trail, which he finished just recently. As a family, we read The Boy in the Alamo, which we would all recommend, especially for boys. Perhaps the title makes that obvious.

Bearclaw finished reading Seaman's Journal: On the Trail with Lewis and Clark as well as completing his final project for the book. The project entailed constructing a fictional dialogue between an interviewer and both Lewis and Clark. It made for a fun and relatively easy assignment, since the students were permitted to dictate their imagined dialogue to an adult, who would then type it. Any guesses as to who did most of the work on this one?

Shortbread and I really slacked off with our reading in May, which makes me sad, because it makes for such wonderful memories. I hope the busier first-grade schedule won't exclude time for reading aloud non-curriculum related books.

Bearclaw finished up his final essay. He wrote a persuasive essay about reading as "the best pasttime". I was certainly persuaded.

Shortbread covered the rest of the "Letterbooks" for Kindergarten. I think I'm even happier than he is about that.

We did not finish Primary Mathematics 3A by the end of the year. (In fact, as of today, we're only about 3/4ths of the way through.) The remainder of the book covers those multiplication facts we have yet to learn.

Shortbread is almost finished with his kindergarten math book...time to order Primary Mathematics 1A

We finished our science curriculum around week 27,
so we're done with "official" science until fall. Of course, we're always involved with random nature study.

So that's it. No photos. No link to other Wrap-ups. Just a few final notes to tie up those ends before we move on.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 28


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We still focusing on forgiveness, and also reading from our Jesus Storybook Bible. In the evenings, we read Amon's Adventure, which ties in with Lent, Holy Week and Easter.


We've conitnue our study of the U.S. in the early 19th century with a look at our country's interactions with Native Americans in this period. This includes the study of Tecumseh and the tragic "Trail of Tears". Since we are in Georgia, the study of the Cherokee and their removal is all the more interesting for us. In a couple of weeks, we'll travel to the actual New Echota Historical Site for a field trip.

Bearclaw is reading Seamon's Journal: On the Trail with Lewis and Clark for literature right now and enjoying it.

Shortbread studied the letter "J" this past week; we read Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? and If Jesus Came to My House. (Which you should try to find in the original 1956 version, if you can, because of the wonderful sweet and simple illustrations.)

Bearclaw's humanities class continues to work on their final essay of the year. It's his first multi-paragraph paper. He's writing a persuasive paper about "why reading is the best pastime". This week, we have to edit his rough draft, but we have two weeks to complete that, so we probably won't look at it for awhile.

I'm so very ready to move on from what the hybrid school is doing for kindergarten with Shortbread. They had us purchase Explode the Code, but we've hardly used it, so I think I'll start working on that with him this summer.

Primary Mathematics 3A is still focusing on reviewing addition and subtraction. Next week we pick up where we left off on the multiplication tables.

Shortbread is also working on addition and subtraction. At least I can handle both boys' math lessons for now.

Since our chemistry lessons wrapped-up last week, we took a field-trip th
is week to a farm. We saw milking and egg collecting and got to pet some of the young animals.

Here are the boys this year (at 9 and 6 years-old) and below at the same farm three years ago (at 6 and 3). Why did I look at this!?

You all can go check out some more Weekly Wrap-Ups. I'm going to get my tissues.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 27


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We started a new "Christian character trait" for April - Forgiveness. While focusing on Scripture related to forgiveness, we've also been reading The Jesus Storybook Bible. I've been struggling with offering something more structured for awhile, but for now, this will suffice. Bible is one area where something is always much better than nothing.


We've kicked-off our study of westward expansion in the U.S with a unit on Lewis and Clark. This is where my own history studies must have gone from poor to nonexistent. My misconceptions about Lewis and Clark are too embarrassing to mention here, but lets just say that the work "Louisiana" in "Louisiana purchase" led my images of their expedition astray. There are so many great options for reading and listening on this topic that we couldn't begin to cover them all.

Since the events took place during Thomas Jefferson's presidency, we read A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson. How We Crossed the West was a fun summary of the Lewis and Clark journey with lots of interesting details and fun, cartoon-like illustrations. Although we haven't gotten to them yet, we plan to pick up Bold Journey and The Cabin Faced West for family read-alouds as we continue to look at the movement west.

During lunchtime, we've enjoyed listening to Jim Weiss's "Gone West" CD and "Sacagewea: Her Story" by Your Story Hour. I'd love to see the Ken Burns documentary, as well, but it might be a little slow for the kids. Maybe hubby and I will rent it ourselves...

Bearclaw has a break from literature right now, but he is slowly reading his way through Stowaway, based on my "suggestion". He's also enjoying the second set of books from the Sugarcreek Gang series.

Shortbread studied the letter "Q" this past week, and I never really found a great picture book to go along with it. I think he was happy to just pick his own favorites!

Bearclaw's humanities class continues to work on their final essay of the year. It's his first multi-paragraph paper, and this week he had to finish his rough draft. Let's just say that "rough" fits for the process as well as the end result.

I've really fallen off with Shortbread's kindergarten work. We're just doing enough to get by and turn in what's due for his class. I'm bored and so is he, so I need to find something a little more challenging for summer.

Primary Mathematics 3A is still focusing on reviewing addition and subtraction, which has provided some much-needed practice for Bearclaw. I think some of his skills had gotten a little rusty, but he's humming along now.

Shortbread and I had a knock-down, drag-out, teary, screamy math lesson this week. It all started when I pulled out the unit cubes and used them to count out subtraction problems. He protested that that was what babies do and he would have none of it. So much for "hands on"; I guess he's been watching big brother focus on written math for awhile and associates that with more difficult math. We'll be going ahead to first grade math this summer.

We wrapped up our Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry book this week by making bread.
Our experiment involved a comparison of dough allowed to rise in a warm place and dough put in the refrigerator to rise. Although there was a marked difference between the two loaves, both were deemed edible and then fully consumed.

That's all for this week, and I'm so late publishing, I missed the Weekly Wrap-Up link. Oh well...

Even Better Than 10



Our eleventh wedding anniversary seemed sort of anticlimactic until my hubby showed me this:

So...Happy Anniversary honey!! 11 IS even better than 10.

Counting to 1000: Gifts #81-94



It's been awhile, so I can't fit my gifts into a neat list of ten (He gives more gifts that I'm comfortable with).

So thankful for...

81. An evening alone with Shortbread

82. Shortbread's desire to pick a specific dandelion outside the car door, even with scores of others around - his response to that observation: "But that one's so pretty!"

83. A day of tears, frustration and anger ends with grace, laughter and pillow-fighting

84. Bradley turning around to wave to me during his humanities class while I'm grading papers

85. Finding Shortbread's baptism DVD and seeing that toothless grin and kicky legs

86. Before breakfast calm as Bearclaw reads on the sofa and Shortbread works on some new creation at the table

87. The grace to help the child who is unable to quiet his heart and body find peace again

88. The grace of forgiveness for all the times (years) I met the older child's rage with more rage

89. A weekend warm enough for snow cones

90. Neighborhood playmates

91. New schooling options for struggling friends

92. A shortcut for hubby's new, long commute

93. A zoo day for boys who adore animals with grandparents who adore them

94. Lunch with a friend who understands and seeks understanding

To count along or celebrate others' blessings, go to A Holy Experience.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 26


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I've jumped from week 23 to 26 in my wrap-ups, mostly due to working on a very long wrap-up of our "mega feild trip" during week 24. It's still not done, so I'll have to table it for now and move on.

In the meantime, the weeks roll by and we're trudging along. Spring break is upon us, and no one needs it as much as I.

I havent' written a thing about our Bible time in months. It's not that we're totally neglecting it, it's just that it's very scattered and lacks direction. I've been praying for guidance on this, and would welcome the prayers of others.


Our need for a break was illustrated when, despite JUST finishing our chapter on Napoleon, Bearclaw had no idea when, where, or what the Battle of Waterloo was when it came up in another book. Perhaps I rushed us through this chapter just a bit too much.

Bearclaw finished up his project on Paul Revere (In Their Own Words). He had the option to recite the first to stanzas of "Midnight Ride" while in costume, which I thought would we be a wonderful choice. He, on the other hand, wanted to build a model of Paul Revere's house. Why must this non-crafty, non-project loving mom's kids ALWAYS choose to build something? We actually used a paper model from an history website, but it was so plain I suggested the Bearclaw jazz things up a bit. He said, "What about adding the roads around the house?", so we found an 18th century map of Boston (I love Google Images) and marked the location of Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church, for good measure (ok, so that part was my idea).

It turned out to be a pretty cool project:

Shortbread studied the letter "K", so we read Katy No-Pocket . Going by letters has really allowed us to get through a lot of the books that I really wanted to fit in this year. Our family reading tends to be dictated by the reading level and studies of the eldest, so I thought these wonderful picture books might be something Shortbread would never be able to appreciate. So glad I included them in his curriculum!

Bearclaw's humanities class is working on their final essay of the year. It's his first multi-paragraph paper, and thankfully, the teacher is taking it slowly. He is writing a persuasive paper on "why reading is the best pastime." This week he organized his brainstorming ideas into a web outline.

Only a few more weeks of letter studies for Shortbread. I think we're both ready to move on to some meatier phonics.

Primary Mathematics 3A is still in review mode, so no math trauma about it yet. Bearclaw is reviewing subtraction now. We are still struggling with some mistakes that come more from lack of focus than lack of understanding. I need to be more consistent about implementing some possible techniques to address that.

Soon Shortbread will finish his kindergarten math book and be ready for Primary Mathematics 1A. I'm trying to decide if we should go ahead and move on now (we'll do some sort of math this summer no matter what) or if we should wait and start 1A when we start first grade. Of course, then I have to come up with something for him to do this summer...

I think I've frequently been neglecting science in my wrap-ups. How did that happen?
I'm a former science teacher. Well, maybe it just goes to show that I'm not all that concerned about science for 3rd grade and kindergarten. Still, I love our curriculum, and working through the experiments with another homeschool family has been really enjoyable. This week, we talked about polymers and made "goop" out of glue and borax.

Visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to catch up on more Wrap-ups.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 23


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Here we are at the end of week 23. I guess I missed week 22, but thankfully, my husband has a new job, so I should be taking over the computer again soon!

We had a quiet week, with our new schedule working out well. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics; the new dog still shakes like a leaf when I pull out the camera. I'm wondering about his history. Speaking of history...

We learned what a smart (coniving?) gal Catherine the Great was, and the descriptions we read of Russian winters made me even more anxious for spring.

I let Bearclaw give up on Treasure Island. He was slowing down, so we read some together, and I realize the language is a little tough for him. He is now reading Paul Revere (In Their Own Words), which he has pronounced "boring". I don't blame him, since we've studied Paul Revere quite a bit already, and this book doesn't offer up much new information.

Shortbread studied the letter "P", so we read Prayer for a Child and The Story About Ping together. It doesn't really get much better than that! Bearclaw commented that he remembered reading those also, and loved them.

Bearclaw is working on persuasive writing and wrote a letter to his dad to convince him to purchase a parakeet for the family. His arguments were solid, but we have no little feathered friend as of yet.

The prepositions continue, and Bearclaw is beginning to make comments. I don't blame him for this either. He knows them WAY better than I do, BTW.

I'm in a bit of a disagreement with Shortbread's teacher at his hybrid kindergarten class. She wants him to do journal writing at home. I don't. I'm not just being contrary because I don't want one more thing to do (even though I don't), but I really don't think there is much value to journal writing without having the skills to actually write. Worse, it can be a needless exercise in frustration. She pointed out that Shorbread's in-class journal entries are "sweet". She's got me there, and I'm looking forward to looking at them when this year is over and he brings them home. This is an illustration of one of the drawbacks of using a hybrid school. Perhaps I'll post about the pros and cons sometime. (I've already re-enrolled, though, so maybe it's a little late for that.)

Bearclaw started Primary Mathematics 3A. Currently, they are reviewing place value, but with higher level thinking than in the past. Oh, and the new textbook isn't colorful like the others. We're in the big time with math now.

Shortbread loves math. He would rather do math than any of his language arts work. Currently, he is working on addition, which makes him feel like he's doing "real math." Why does anyone want to do that?

Visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to catch up on more Wrap-ups.

Counting to 1000: Gifts #71 - 80



Squeezing in some time on the computer while my husband takes a break, so that I can give thanks for:

71. gap-toothed smiles

72. flowers carried home from a "guys' trip" to the mountains, now wilted, more beautiful for making it all the way home

73. a call from the son of the woman who we visited for the years before her death - he's found the funny papers she saved for the boys

74. alone time, praise music, updated lesson plans

75. a full bird feeder and a growing 2011 backyard bird list

76. Bach, tea, and poetry with the boys

77. clean counters

78. dermatology (we are a family with skin issues)

79. good tumor marker numbers and spirits in a precious pastor with cancer

80. a job for my husband!!

Check out A Holy Experience for a lot more gratitude.

Counting to 1000: Gifts #61 - 70



61. the early spring garden

62. my husband doing all of the work on the early spring garden

63. eavesdropping on kindergarten playmates playing "I Spy"

64. miniature garden tools, muddy hands

65. mild, overcast, calm days

66. enough coolness at night to merit a cup of hot tea

67. new school room posters

68. sandalwood candles when the house smells like dog...or anytime

69. my kids eating the baking soda-missing-pumpkin-chocolate-chip "muffins" (hockey pucks) without complaining (the chocolate makes them bearable?)

70. a whole week without school!

Others are sharing their reasons to be thankful at A Holy Experience.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 21


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I am not a writer, but my guess is that even the most gifted writers don't necessarily relish the task of choosing a title. Some are really good at it, though, and their little summary catches our attention, draws us to read the article, blog post, book. I have never been one to summarize what I need to say in a few choice words. Ask my husband.

So I'm switching to week numbers as titles for my wrap-ups. It's not creative or original, but it will keep me from staring at my screen with the empty "title" bar for 20 minutes before I even begin a wrap-up.

This week's history studies educated me as much as the children. I knew almost nothing about the history of Australia or New Zealand before this week, nor had I read anything about Captain James Cook's exploration of the South Pacific. I still miss the American Revolution, but the boys preferred this. Aye!

Bearclaw is reading Treasure Island. He also completed his literature project (the hybrid school likes projects more than I) for The Sign of the Beaver. He chose to make a story-mobile, which looks great on the branch he picked for it.

We've had sickness in the house, so Shortbread and I have fallen off of our readings. It's onto Mm next week.

The literature project has taken up the time usually allotted to writing, so nothing new there. Meanwhile, Bearclaw's grammar is still keeping him busy with prepositions. They must be important.

Bearclaw has had to do some random assignments in cursive, so that's been fun. I've also had him redo a few assignments when I couldn't read his printing.

As for Shortbread's printing, he seems to be doing well. He is remembering to start his letters at the top of line more frequently. Yea!

We've completed Primary Mathematics 2A, and we'll do some reviewing next week before moving on to 3A. (Which happens to be PINK, so Bearclaw is skeptical.) Shortbread seems to fly through his math lessons, leaving me wondering if I should have started him on a different level. I'm wondering but not particularly worried about it. We can move ahead later if we need too.

The boys participated in a poetry recital this week, with Shortbread's Kindergarten class reciting "The Mitten in the Snow" and Bearclaw reciting "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson. All of the students did such a wonderful job, and a few even brought tears to my eyes. Shortbread just made me smile looking like such a little man (minus a couple of teeth).

To see all the interesting and exciting things other folks are up to, check out more Weekly Wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Counting to 1000: Valentine's Day Gifts



Although I don't really know my husband's full feelings about Valentine's day, he has always recognized it (well) for my sake. Also, I'm still in that phase when my boys (especially the little one) think I'm their Valentine. Regular girls are not gross yet, but they are inconsequential in terms of love. I'm the girl in all their lives, and I'm thankful for that especially.

Some other Valentine's Day gifts:

51. Tulips from my two boys

52. Comte Gruyere at a bargain from Costco

53. Homemade jewelry from Shortbread

54. A homemade valentine from Shortbread

55. St. Andre' cheese; also a bargain from Trader Joe's

56. Just enough leftover pancake batter to make impromptu heart pancakes this morning

57. The ultimate gift from my sweetie - running to Costco for me

58. A new one to love...Charlie! (still quaking if we bring out the camera, so this one's through a window)

59. An at-home date night, which can still be romantic with my guy and good cheese

60. That he's my husband AND my Valentine (even if he's not a real cowboy)

So many more gifts at A Holy Experience...

Weekly Wrap-Up: Three Weeks Later


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I haven't posted in about three weeks, including wrap-ups. With dh home and looking for a job, my ability to pop onto the computer has been reduced, and I've fallen behind with enough other things that I just didn't manage it.

As it happens, I popped over to Carol's blog when I sat down here, and her post included a self-admonishing comment about neglecting her blog. It applies here, too. Except that her blog has us hanging on waiting for more Scriptural insights and applications, hints for good reads, and lots of witty commentary. Here, you might just be hanging on to see what we made out of a paper plate last week.

I'm not even sure I can successfully write a wrap-up for three weeks; it will require me to remember stuff or look at our pictures. Apparently, I didn't take any pictures, so I'll have to rely on my brain. Don't expect much.

Our BIBLE time has left much to be desired lately, and I think it comes from trying to do too much. Hence, I do nothing. I need to spend the vacation week that's coming up mulling this over.

HISTORY actually lends itself well to a 3-week summary right now, as we just finished two weeks on the American Revolution and one week on the U.S. Constitution. It was a great unit, and offers so many book options that I can't possibly list them all. Of course, we read Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride," and began listening to the audiobook, Johnny Tremain. In the "not-so-classic" category, I allowed the kids to spend time watching School House Rock and PBS's Liberty's Kids (Liberty's Kids is available for instant play through Netflix.) I learned the preamble from School House Rock, and I know I'm not the only one.

Bearclaw has finished his LITERATURE novel, The Sign of the Beaver, last week. This was followed by both boys spending several days making their own bows and arrows. Unfortunately, I could not provide the "bear fat" requested by Bearclaw to treat the wood; they were forced to settle for Crisco. Anyone have a bear fat source?

Shortbread and I have been enjoying reading some or our favorite winter books before the warm weather gets here. He still loves A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and I have a wonderfully illustrated version of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. We've also supplemented his phonics/handwriting by focusing on books that include words starting with B or R in the titles. The Runaway Bunny was the most perfect fit.

Third grade WRITING, as directed by our hybrid school, continues to impress me; Bearclaw can organize a 3-point paragraph with relative ease. The last assignment, though, was a descriptive paragraph; nine year-olds are really drawn to words like good and nice, so that one took a few, um, suggestions.

Both GRAMMAR programs that Bearclaw is using (the hybrid program we're in uses Shurley English AND Easy Grammar) are both focused on prepositions right now. He can even name/sing them all. I certainly can't. Of course, I don't really feel as if memorizing them is vital, but the grammar programs disagree. Shortbread has been singing the Shurley English jingles with us. I'm pretty sure he doesn't know all the prepositions yet, though, so he and I are in the same boat.

The boys' handwriting work is coming along. Shortbread is a lefty, but he is doing pretty well with avoiding the "left-handed hook" that his mama uses. Bearclaw's cursive is progressing, too, but his printing has been getting sloppier lately. I think he's rushing; maybe I'll post about this...

Bearclaw has just completed the last section in Singpore Math 2B. The unit covered geometry, which is apparently doesn't come naturally for him or me. Give us four triangles and ask us to make them into a variety of given shapes and watch us sit there. Next week we'll review the entire MATH book. I'm sort of dreading it, as I don't think I've been nearly diligent enough with math this year. Our hybrid school has pulled my focus entirely onto humanities, and I think it's showing.

On the other hand, Shortbread seems to be our natural math guy. We just switched to Singapore Math for him, and we've flown through the first four units. His biggest challenge is making his 2s and 3s go the right direction.

SCIENCE continues to be a favorite for everyone. We got together a couple of times with our friends to work on Real Science 4 Kids over these few weeks. The last chapter was on chemical reactions. It was messy, with lots of baking soda and vinegar, and the kids loved it.

We're plugging along in Spelling Workout C and Wordly Wise 3000/Book 3.

Other highlights included bonding with our new dog, Charlie and working on a new schedule (which I'll share at some point).

To check out some other, more regular wrap-ups, pop over to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Just a Little Blurb


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Since my husband is at home looking for a job most of the time now, I do not have as much time on the computer as I used to. (We only have one. If he gets a job, we can get another, but then we won't need it. Oh, the irony.) While it's worth it to enjoy his presence at home, the competition for computer time is definitely reflected in this Wrap-Up.

We studied the French and Indian War, and so continued with our studies of Native Americans. This included making popcorn with maple syrup poured on top, as the Huron Indians did, and making shields.

Maple Popcorn Recipe:
12 cups popped/salted popcorn
2 c. real maple syrup
1/2 c. butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat the syrup and butter in a saucepan at medium heat until boiling. Continue boiling/stirring until a the syrup reached 236 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour syrup over popcorn and stir to coat (I like to use two bowl so I have room to stir). Spread/arrange/dump popcorn onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for another 10-15 minutes in oven. Cool and eat!

Bearclaw is reading The Sign of the Beaver, and we all read D'Aulaire's George Washington last week, too.

I'm speeding up Bearclaw's math lessons, because I want to progress to Level 3A in Singapore Math. I also switched Shortbread from Shiller Math to Singapore, because the latter offers more opportunities for him to do some of the work on his own, which is helpful while I'm working with Bearclaw.

We've stalled out on our family read-alouds, so we need to get that going again.

As for everything else, it will have to wait. And it will.

Counting to 1000: Now We Are Six


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Shortbread turned six on Saturday, and after hosting a few little friends on Friday, we had a quiet family dinner complete with his birthday cake choice: coconut cream pie.

I am struggling a bit with the thought that if "we" are now six, "we" are no longer very young.

Seems that something helpful might be to focus on the multitude of things about my no-longer-very-young baby for which I am thankful. I'll dedicate this list of gifts to him:

46. his most frequent complaint or request: he wants to snuggle

47. his huge missing-tooth smile and his mousy brown hair

48. his "I love you" after asking "Mama?"

48. that he still has a wet thumb, a threadbare blankie (that smells vaguely of puppies and cheese), and a holdable frame

49. his wonderful creations, especially the ones he's made for me: bracelets, colored paper flowers, and the double-stick tape purse (It's picked up a little hair by now.)

50. that he counts his brother as his best friend and a perfectly wonderful sleep-over buddy (who would never make fun of his thumb or his blankie).

Happy Birthday Moochie!! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To join in listing your gifts or enjoy what others have to share, go to A Holy Experience.

Sleigh Bells Ring...



Ok, no sleigh bells really. I did scream as my saucer sled went careening down a pretty sleep slope, but my screaming voice sounds nothing like sleigh bells, to be sure. We did manage to walk around in a winter wonderland, though.

With snow promised for Sunday night, we spontaneously booked a cabin in a North Georgia development where we one day hope to build a home. After church we piled everything one might need if stranded for a week with no electricity in a remote mountain cabin and took off. We waited for the flakes as we drove up, and as we ate dinner in the cabin, and as we sat around the fire telling stories before bed. It wasn't until everyone else was nestled in for the night that I looked up from my book to see about a half-inch on the ground and more coming down rapidly. We awoke to this:

We had the whole unspoiled place to ourselves, since the big snow happened on a Sunday night, when no one was spending the weekend (a benefit of unemployment and homeschooling). It was breathtakingly beautiful, and the sledding was top-notch.

Afterwards there was hot cocoa. And wet clothes everywhere with no clothes dryer. And then they went out and did it again.

Later on, my husband and I did indeed conspire by the fire (I always thought is was perspire when I was little).

When it comes to facing plans unafraid, though, I need some encouragement. Ann Voskamp offered some timely thoughts last week.

One plan we had to face: getting home.

We weren't even sure we could get off the property, but we were running out of whipped cream, so we gave it a shot. I'm happy to report that we arrived home safely, and school's closed tomorrow, too (and our hybrid program with it)! Yippee!

Counting to 1000: Gifts of the New Year



I thought that with the New Year I might revamp or rededicate myself to blogging (was I ever REALLY dedicated?), and that I would post an entry about it first thing this new year. But then I read Ann's post today, and I was reminded that what I really need to do "first thing" is give thanks.

So many gifts as we enter 2011...

33. A casual New Year's Eve dinner with friends who understand that I have to sit on the couch with my head leaning on my fist to make it to 12:00AM.

34. Hoppin John, because I really didn't feel like roasting a pork loin.

35. The cookies are almost gone (yup, that's a GOOD thing).

36. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever (Heb 13:8). That means Emmanuel always has been and always will be.
37. My new slippers. I've never owned slippers as an adult. Now I'm making up for lost time.

38. Menu plans, clean calendars, new lesson plans.

39. Little guy saying to me "now that Grandma's gone, you get all the snuggles". I mean, I miss Grandma and everything, but that sure helps!

40. A calling this new year to focus on His presence and seek His face. And the promise that I'll find Him.

41. My sweet husband's unemployment means he's home, and it's way better than I thought it would be.

42. Big guy's willingness to eat kale soup without complaint.

43. A new devotional.

44. A finished novel. (Read, of course, not written)

45. This winter's pace, with time to stop, to linger, to listen.

More gifts of can be found at A Holy Experience.