Friday, December 31, 2010

52 in 52 2011...Just a Little Note

Since I already made my quota last year,  I am using Pathfinder as my first book instead of my last book...LOL.  I am also reading Carry On Mr. Bowditch to my boys,  but since I am enjoying it way more than they are,  I am counting that one as well....

Reviews to week.....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Book Challenges

This year I am going to try some new book challenges.  I will be joining the Well Trained Mind 52 books in 52 weeks....AND within that challenge,  I will add other challenges.  So far,  these are the ones I have found and linked to.  I am not sure HOW to post an reciprocal link,  so if anyone can explain that,  I would be grateful!....

Here is the e-book Challenge:

And of course.....

I am now going to try and set up some kind of list...ummmmmm.......maybe :-)


Monday, December 27, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks Wrap-Up

So,  the challenge comes to an end...and I think I actually achieved my goal!!!  YEAH!!  Well,  that is if I include all the books I read aloud to my littles (only the chapter ones over 150 pages)  AND the YA fiction,  because I am a firm believer in Brain Candy when it is necessary.

Did you reach the goal of 52 books?:

Why yes,  I think I did!

What was the last book you read?:

The last book for this year is The Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card.  He is one of my all time favorite authors...and I got to read this one on my new Sony E-Reader!!  Thanks Honey!  I love you!!!!

Did you read from a list and fly by the seat of your pants choosing a different book each week?:

I didn't read from a list...and I really did fly by the seat of my pants.  I really wish I could have been more organized and purposeful in my reading,  but this was not going to be the year for it.  I got most of my ideas from the other readers on the WTM forum,  Sonlight lists and Ambleside Online lists.  I also got some ideas from my older kids ("MOM!  You have GOT to read this!!  That is how I came upon the Book Thief and The Heretic's Daughter.)Did you learn something new about yourself, an author, an topic?:
Well,  YES!  I didn;t think about it until now,  but I found I really...R.E.A.L.L.Y.  enjoy Dystopian Literature.  i didn't even know that was a genre!  I just thought i loved Sci-Fi without robots and with a political twist.  I went on one of those reading jags...and got Elvis reading them as well.  This included but was not limited to:  Hunger Games trilogy, Orson Scott Card books,   1984, Brave New World,  This Perfect Day, etc.

How many classics did you read?:

Well,  i read a bunch of Children's Classics like Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, Little House on the Prairie series (not really a classic,   but almost there...LOL)

Did you discover a new author or genre? Did you love them or hate them?

Yes,  I really like Malcolm Gladwell and enjoyed his non- fiction statistical books especially Outlier.  I love how chatty,  but interesting they were.

Name your top ten favorite reads:

I'll try:

OK...Harry Potter...I never read these before and I am so happy I finally did.  They were so much fun, I loved the whole series.

Hunger Games Trilogy

Far North

The Book Thief

I Am the Messenger

The Heretic's Daughter

Water for Elephants

Percy Jackson Olympians series
 Name your bottom ten least favorite reads:
The Outlander by Gil Adamson (not the series of a similar title)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

The Time Traveller's Wife
Elegance of the Hedgehog (hated the end!)
The Element (yawn)
Knowing and Teaching Elementary Math (I am not so sure I liked her tone young lady.)
Life of Pi (loved and hated at the same time.  Beautifully disturbing.  It broke my heart.)

Name a book you simply could not finish:

Bill Bryson's book about Australia.  I like him,  but the book was a schnoozer for me.  Ds loved it...go figure...

I remember throwing a few books across the room this year,  but I have blocked them from my memory...sorry...sigh....

Name a book you expected to like but didn't:

The Time Traveller's Wife.  After all the hip and hype...I kept waiting for something besides soft porn to happen.  I really like time travel books,  they fascinate me  BUT this was like a poorly written made-for-tv but had too much skin,  so let's make a movie book.  I think the premise was interesting,  but so poorly carried out...I kept waiting for the story.  Didn't happen...blah!!!! 

Name a book you expected to not like but did:

Harry Potter.  After all the warnings and etc.  I thought I would read it just to say I have and back up my choice not to include it in my children's reading lists.  I was surprised how much i enjoyed these books.  I apologised to my older kids for believing and propagating the "Harry Potter is not ok for Christians"  myth.  They assured me it was OK and they actually all read and enjoyed the books too...rotten kids! 

So,  now I am looking forward to next years challenge.  I am going to put together a list for myself....52 books long,  but I have the right to be wishy-washy and not follow the plan.  I am going to try to include 4 biographies, 4 non-fiction (not biographies)  4 Classics, 4 Christian Classics, 4 Travel Books, 4 science fiction, 4 girl books,  4 Teaching Theory Books,  4 Historical Fiction, 16 books from any category...

I plan on drawing heavily from Ambleside Online, The Well Educated Mind and other bloggers :-)

Come on Reading Challenge 2011!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A WTM Question:

This question was asked on the WTM today, and it really set me to reminiscing…..
For things like math and LA, do you use the same thing for younger kids as you did for their older siblings?

I don't use the same materials. With my older kids I used a lot of "homeschool only" curricula. The WTM wasn't out yet and I had lots of warm fuzzy ideas. Then I met Charlotte Mason and Susan Wise Bauer. I also gained more confidence in my teaching ability. I found out I hated Saxon math, because it was a bad fit and didn't help my kids to love or understand math. It just frustrated them and me. I should have know the first week I started home schooling with my borrowed copy of the 5/4 book which I promptly dropped on my foot and broke my toe!

I do use many of the same read alouds and readers.

I didn't know about Christian Light programs and when I did hear of them, I thought "Light" meant it was easy or for special needs. I started using them after a recommendation on the WTM for my struggling 4th grader. What a difference! Things I was trying to accomplish, in a workbook, easy-peasy to implement....sigh of relief!

When I started there was no SOTW, No Ambleside Online...heck, there was no ONLINE!, No TOG, Sonlight and Beautiful Feet were available.


Somehow when I started homeschooling, there was this weird underlying "feeling" that I can't put my finger on. There was a philosophical Holier than Thou spirit floating around these parts. I could never really get my mind wrapped around it, guess I am not spiritual enough. There were Marilyn Howshall and Lynda Coates and Robin Sampson (now Scarlata? or is it the other way?)

 For the girls, there was Far Above Rubies. I researched through “The Principle Approach,” I flew caution to the wind and bought (used) all 4 volumes of the Weaver Curriculum, because I wanted to teach History in a chronological manner, I tried text books, A Beka and Bob Jones. I learned about Ruth Beechick and implemented her ideas into our LA. I used a version of the Phonics Road. I was like a teeny , tiny ship being tossed upon the waves of curricula and Home Learning. I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on, and literally drove myself NUTS! My kids seem no worse for wear. My heart was in the right place and they knew we were on this crazy journey together. My first 2 had been in school, so they needed a bit of “detox’ing.” My younger guys were little…and loved being in on everything the girls were up to. Then came pregnancies, sicknesses, financial issues, aging and sick, dying parents, aging US…lol.

It was a weepy, surreal time. The Christian home schoolers I knew were ultra religious, and convinced Christians were oppressed by the wicked, evil, soul stealing public schools, and needed to protect our children from "Others." Problem was, I was OTHERS...and didn't want anyone to know that...LOL! I could never fit in. I tried...I switched to all dresses, went to church 3 times a week, taught Sunday School, had fellowship meetings in my home, tried to be legalistic etc. I almost went totally BONKERS!

I had to go through a period of soul searching, self examination to determine who I was and how I fit into life. It was really hard. I was depressed a lot of the time. I was physically ill, pregnant, nursing or both much of those early years.  Then,  I fell in love with Jesus,  asked Him into my heart and to guide my paths.  I yearned to know the real Jesus,  not some made-up version,  not some watered down,  all is good,  happy-happy,  jooy-joy version or mean, ugly, nasty version.  Not some version who didn't love us for who He made us to be, and then expected us to be someone else.  I wanted to know the God of the Bible and I wanted my children to know Him as well. 

More self reflection. I now had teens who were going off to college, tweens, kids and babies. I always pictured myself like the clown in the circus spinning plates and not letting any of them drop.

THEN , dh started his own business and I was expected to be ½ of it…..

Curricula needed to be simple. I didn’t have hours upon hours to sit on the couch and read to my babies. I was too busy driving them to swim meets and classes. I was too busy balancing books, answering phones, dealing with taxes and invoices and vendors. My Dad passed on and I became the sole care giver to my Mother. SOMETHING had to change!

As I said, when I started home schooling for us was intrinsically intertwined with religiosity. With that part of our lives over , I needed to reassess OUR OWN reasons for home schooling. One big reason was that God called us to this path. I had that calling and know it, without all the legalism or religious rules. It was pretty simple…Do This!
I am also very academically inclined. I think deeply, my husband thinks deeply and I want my kids to be thinkers as well. In came the Well Trained Mind. In came Charlotte Mason .

 In came online classes, resources, message boards where there were like minded home schoolers. Some still made all their own bread from their own home ground flour…and all their 12 kids had matching outfits which Mom herself sewed from the woolen cloth she wove….think Teaching Home, Far Above Rubies, Crown of Silver….but there were also those home schooling for purely academic reasons, those home schooling for religious reasons, who weren’t Christians!!! I learned I could be ME and I could teach my kids in a manner that made US thrive. I could tailor their pursuits. I could LIKE my kids and not try to squish them into the mold of perfection that other people determined for them. I saw those results in their kids. NOT PRETTY!

Anyway, in answer to your question, as we home school , we grow. As we raise our kids, we too grow and change. As we home school, our children mature, as we mature. As we home school, we learn who we are. We change, our curriculum choices change, our teaching methods develop and change, our book choices change. As we home school we hone our children’s skills, we hone our own skills. I am no longer that twenty-something Mom with all young kids. I am a forty-something woman with adult children, teen-agers, tweeners and young kids. I am readying to be a grandmother at some point. Of course I am different! Of course my curricula is different. Homeschooling is a path which we walk, sometimes we stop and rest and then we go on.  All of the methods, curricula, educational philosophies, teaching methods, etc.  have melded together to look like something "new"  and "different" in my homeschool.  My school should not look like your school,  and as you grow and mature,  your homeschool will change as well.  It is sort of like looking back at baby pictures and then pictures of you as a child, adolescent, teen and then an adult...young, middle and then older.  

As Charlotte Mason said, “Education is a life.” I add, so is home schooling.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

Friday, May 28, 2010

And Then There was Alfred

So, in the midst of my spring breakdown....dh falls in love with a beautiful puppy and arranges to fly him from Nebraska through Hearts United for Animals.

Hearts United is a non-profit organization who rescues dogs from puppy mills. My dear friend Claudia adopted her beloved Flora from HUA, so when we found Alfred she gave them to good word on us...LOL.

This puppy is a joy! He is a LOVE. Dh feels like a new Papa and the kids are all over him.

So, what can I say?

Welcome home little one!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My last post was 2 weeks in review:

This one seems to be covering an entire month!

It has been a busy month...our month off from swim practice. It took a lot of patience and explaining that the month off from swimming was MY vacation...not the kids vacation. It's funny how when you are in a routine and it is interrupted your entire schedule is topsy turvy.

So, we basically stayed focused on catching up our schoolwork, planning our garden, playing a bit in the beautiful weather...before the bug invasions of May, and figuring out how to get our seatwork finished by noon (just the younger ones) so we could have the afternoons for free time.

Passover Sedars, Easter dinners, Nanny's birthday....

Our highlight this month was a trip to West Point Military Academy for a free swim clinic. We all piled into my van...little guys in tow and had an awesome day. we had just finished learning about the Revolutionary War, so the cannons were a big hit!!! Cannons to the right of us! Cannons to the left of us!!! BANG!!! BANG>>>

The Hudson was so beautiful and the mountains were bursting with SPRING!

I took a ton of pictures on my phone, but getting them on my lappy is another story completely!

Of course April is an awesome month for Nature Study. Flowers are popping up all over the place (So, is my hayfever...aaaahhhhchooooo....)

Newts, salamanders and efts abound...the deer are eating my garden ALREADY!

So this week swim season (long course) begins...and Elvis comes down with a nasty cold! It seems the swim card is just going against him. He is discouraged...he lost yet another week of practice. I am discouraged for him.

This is the time of year when all my homeschooling buddies feel like they haven;t accomplished a thing ALL year and the public school starts looking
Are my kids all I had dreamed they would be...well...not yet..LOl...but I am not sure anyone could live up to those dreams. Somehow I thought (even though this thinking was very skewed) that homeschooling was going to be some kind of magic bullet. My kids would be protected from all the hurts and harms in the world. I could watch over their little heads and hearts and put only good things into them. (Very Buddah-like) The thing I didn't think of at the time, was that they were not perfect and I am not Jesus. I am sinful...have good days and bad days. I don't know it all...I can't carry the burden of perfection and therefore could not expect my kids to be somehow perfect as well. I made lots of mistakes in schooling that older crew....and I am sure I will make plenty schooling this younger bunch. BUT GIVE UP??? NEVER!!!!! I my heart believe ...that homeschooling is better for MY kids than any other avenue of education.

My original ideas and reasons still hold true...even if my method and my realization that the is no silver bullet...have changed me.

1: God told me to do this....audibly....and I was not a Christian at the time. "Get those children and raise them separate and Holy unto Me. "

2: I wanted my children to love each be best friends. The school system has a way of dividing and conquering the family unit. It remakes the unit....and then tears it apart and remakes it...over and over for 12 straight years.

3: I wanted my children to be able to discern right from wrong and choose to do the right thing...

4: I wanted my children to be educated whether they pursued degrees or became skilled technicians. For their own self and their own needs, I wanted their brains to be fully developed to love beauty of art, music, literature etc.

4: I wanted my children to find peace in their own relationship with God. I did not want them to have a shallow understanding of the Bible or who they are as God's children. I wanted them to love other people, respect other cultures, to walk with wisdom. I did not want them to be whitewashed tombs. I did not want them to be haughty in their belief.

5. I wanted to have a relationship with my kids...a real one...based on mutual admiration and respect. I wanted to know them for the people they are...not as little clones or cookie cutter kids. I wanted them to have the freedom to pursue their own personage, to be comfortable in their own skin, to love who God made them to be, to be strong and of good courage.

As you can see, most of my reasons were not academic. Academics are very important to us. I use much more rigorous curriculum than most of the homeschoolers in our area...but my reason for homeschooling were, and have remained, focused on so much more than just books and knowledge. It has been focused on raising independent, hard working, honest, loving, creative individuals who are someday going to go out and make a difference in this world.

It has been a bumpy road...and my road is still quite a long one to travel....but, lately, I have been feeling up to the challenge again. I am coming out of the burnout and indecision, overwhelmed feeling of the last few years...and triumph feels GOOD!

I found that I can only do my best and remember that I am going forward in love, choosing the best I can day by day....and hopefully walking in love with my children and husband toward a higher goal...making a little difference or impact for the future generations....and being loving and forgiving toward myself and my shortcomings...modeling to my kids that we can work hard and still fail an endeavor....and then pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and carry on, becoming stronger as we go.

WOW! That was a bit of a mind ramble...and I apologize....April has always been an introspective month for me.....Spring....and new beginnings and all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two Weeks in Review:

WE'RE # 1

I has been so hectic here, well with Spring finally trying to arrive...and sunshine, warm winds, flowers beginning to pop...and tons of YARDWORK!!! Spring always melts the snow away to reveal beneath all the toys and stuff we never got to stash before the first early blizzard. In other words, it looked like a war zone out there!!!

We have all been so totally cabin crazy after this very LONNNNGG Winter.
Ok, Now for the 2 weeks in review:
SWIMMING: Swim season came to a Vitorious end for us this year. Elvis and Dr. Kazam both did best times and medaled in their events. The lovely Dr. swam a beautiful 50 yd butterfly in 32:40 putting her in 6th place overall at ESSL championships. Elvis swam his 100 free in 52:89 breaking his best time by over a second and giving him 6th place overall. Not bad seeing that he is at the very bottom of his age group. The team took FIRST PLACE OVERALL beating out 16 other teams.
LIFE SKILLS: Cubby Learned to ride a 2 wheeler. That is always a big deal around here! Hammy is learning to be the garbage man around here. The job of taking the garbage and taking care of recyclables always goes to our youngest when they turn 6. Our youngest youngest is now 6, so he better get good at his job!

Dr. Kazam is now getting more adept at kitchen chores and i am almost ready to put her in charge of making sure we have a clean kitchen at night. She is also the official pet feeder.

Elvis learned to tune up the truck this week. He has also been assissting Daddy with some plumbing and heating. He has been working one day a week with Dad.

Ding has decided to change majors as of next semester. She is not enjoying herself at all....she feels a lot of relief finally making a decision. I think she will be studying photographic journalism....Journalism? This is the girl who would not write even a paragraph until I forced her to in 11 th grade! She could not wrie a full page essay until the end of 11th. This same child, when in Community College, stayed up with me all night writing and editing and learning to write a fantastic paper in Eng. 101. I was pulled aside by her History Professor during an awards ceremony to be told that she was the one student in 20 years who wrote papers that were poignant, interesting and kept him riveted to his chair...HUH????? LOL! You just never know.

Yuggie found a JOB!!!! He has been working with his dad since he was 14 doing heating, plumbing etc. He is certified all over the place! He hates working with his dad....sigh....So, I really wanted him to have the experience of working for a job which he got on his own...pound the pavement etc. It is really important to be able to present yourself , ask for a job, fill out an application, interview etc. Well, at first, he went to different plumbing outfits...HUH? I asked him why would he want to do that and he answered "It is all I know how to do." HUH??? I asked him to take chances, to think what he WANTED to do. To go outside his comfort zone a bit. Really, I didn';t care if he ended up driving a delivery van or working at the grocery. But he went even better than that. He found out they needed swim instructors at the Y...and he applied...and he GOT THE JOB!!! he will be teaching swim lessons and the course they have on Swim Team prep...which is a 4 stroke and start and turn clinic! He is so excited! I am excited! The head of the swim program is excited!!!! WHOOOPPPPEEEE!!!! He is still in school full time, but this job is perfect for him, plus working for the Y is still considered a community service...looks great on scholarship applications. YAY YUGGIE!!!!

Ok: On the academic front:
Family School: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit sayeth the Lord of Hosts. This was our verse for this week.

Dr. Kazam, Elvis, Yuggie and I have all finished The Lightening Thief series...That was SO MUCH FUN!!!! We are now working on The Looking Glass Wars.
We have finished reading the Old Testament, which we began in September. We used the Vos Story Bible and we all loved it. We will read through the NT stories over the Spring and Summer. Over this week we will re-read the stories of Passover, The Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Resurrection as we prepare for our Sedar. Of course being as Non-traditional as I am, we will be having ours 2 days after Passover...LOL. The Lord commands us to tell our children of the Passover every year...and we do. But this year, i really wanted to do it on the Thursday before Good Friday and then bring us into Easter. i want this holiday to impact my children.

SOTW3. We covered the sections on Cathering the Great and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We read about Eli Whitney and James Watt.

I am determined to finish this up this year. 3 years in SOTW3 will never do!

We also are enjoying a book aout John Adams written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness. It is a beautiful book!

Hammy: Well, We have been "doing school" or at least I have been at battle with Mr. Ham all year to sit down and get busy. Well, it seems I may have underestimated this little bugger. I gave him the tests fromCLE Learn to read and it seems that he has "Learned to Read!" He got a 100% on the test...rolled his eyes...told me it was boring and he didn't want to do it anymore. OY VEY!!!!!, Mr. Smarty Pants, what shall we do with baby? He is certainly NOT a workbook kid. Neither is Cubby, so back to the old drawing board...LOL. I should have know it was just too easy...sigh.....So, I am going back to the old CM path....LOL. I will be s\posting plans etc in the near future. My year of "doing school" instead of "homeschooling" has brought me a little break in planning and helped me to rekindle my love for teaching my kids and allowing my kids to teach themselves while I provide materials and feedback. I ahve put all of his workbooks away until Fall. Spring and summer are for nature study, out door play and reading in the tree house.

Cubby: See Hammy!!!! LOL! Dh tells me to school them together. OK....LOL. Workbooks have driven the love of learning out of this kid. HOW can I cover the same material and skip the drudgery? Use the CLE books as a guide. Limit the amount of writing in the workbooks, bring in living books and hands on games for math. I think I can do this.

Dr. Kazam: She is finishing up CLE level 500 Math. WOW!!! We are a level behind and I am not sure I am ok with that, but it is what it is. This girlie is just not mathy yet. She is now using Life of Fred to review fractions and solidify what she has learned. She loves LoF.

Elvis: Working on author project ala A Beka World Literature. He chose to write about Tolstoy. So far, that seems to be all he has. I asked for a thesis or statement of pupose to no once lesson is: Kids need you to show them HOW! So, I will show him how and report on his progress next week.

He has finished Module 7&8 of Apologia Chem. I allow him to do the tests open book. He is really enjoying this book. I also borrowed the Teaching Company DVD's from the library. Yuggie is finding these really helpful with his CC Chem class and Elvis is enjoying them too.

Philosophy: Studied Spinoza using Smarr Phil and Sophies World with Intro to Philosophy :DK

We pretty much dropped grammar again...sigh. Still enjoying online Intro to Music through Memoria Press, although I have not seen a single assignment , quiz or anything with this class. (???)

Well, we are on a break from swim practice for the next 3 weeks....and I feel a bit rested up now, so...we are off onto another week...TALLY HO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week in Review 3/1/10- 3/5/10

Journeys of Captain James Cook

We had some fun this week. Not anything big and exciting...but little funs that make those childhood memories. We played with cousins, we went ice skating, lots of swim practices for Elvis and Dr. Kazam.

We did some school work too!

This week we studied Captain James Cook. We learned about the early discoveries and explorations of Australia. We followed Captain Cook's journeys on our maps. Cubby and MMM learned their compass points. We also learned to 7 continents and 4 oceans.
We added Cook to our timeline to see that his explorations took place at the same time as the American revolution. We looked at portraits of Cook and saw that his clothes were very similar George Washington's clothes.

The kids thought it was so hysterical that explorers needed to bring artists with them on their travels because no one had a camera! LOL! Talk about being replaced by technology!

We looked up some Australian and looked at pictures of the flora and fauna.

Elvis finished Module 6 in his chemistry. Stoichiometry was a hard learn for him buthe got it!! He took his exam and got a 94%!!! YAY!!!
He also finished Chapter 9 in Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2. After struggling with Chalkdust in the begin ning of the year, we decided to go back to TT. That was a wonderful decision for us. He is back on track...and he is using the Larson book as back-up and review. We will also use Life of Fred as a review for Geometry over the summer before he takes the PSAT.

Elvis finished another unit in World Lit and continues reading in Dante's Inferno. he also read the Book Theif this week. He is plugging along in his Grammar. he is studying Spinoza in Philosophy.

This weekend we will be swimming in Silver Championships, so he is all tapered and shaved and ready to go!

Dr. Kazam finished CLE Reading 6. She loved the book! She learned so much from this program including literary devices and how to edit and correct her own work.

We added Life of Fred Fractions to her Maths. She is finishing up CLE level 500. Instead of rushing into 600, I want to use LOF to solidify wat she learned in 500. She is loving Fred!

Dr. Kazam is also all tapered and ready to swim at Silvers. I wish I had my replacement Camera!

The little boys did their lessons ok. As long as I sit there with them, they will get it done...otherwise OY VEY! The sun has finally appeared and the thermometer is above freezing, so my littlies spent so much time out doors. I gave them some chores this week and they took to them like ducks to water. They like bein to teach them to clean up their toys. Their room is a lego explosion!

The little boys have learned to sit through and ENJOY read alouds! YAY!!! We have read so many books this week.

Now off to watch the new Phineas and Ferb!!!! Brand new episode!

Book Challenge: Week 9 Book 10

Ok...I admit it. I read Harry Potter this week. After years of hearing the Christian Controversy surrounding this book....and not banning it from my kids...but NOT adding it to their reading lists, I decided to read it. My opinion...ummmmm...well it seemed to be a little like a watered down Roald Dahl, mixed with a bit of Lemony Snickett and not so well written. I still won't add it to my kids reading lists, but I really DO NOT GET why all the uproar. After reading some of the Ancient Great Books that are totally encouraged in any classical studies...including Christian Classical studies, this book is just so tame. It was cute. You like Harry. You like his little band of friends. It definitely had a good verses evil theme with good winning. Maybe if they were hobbits instead of wizards that would be ok? I think my 7 year old would probably really like this book...but my 11 year old would probably roll her eyes. She would rather read Grimms at this point. So, after years of avoiding Haryy, I find him harmless and somewhat cute.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekly Report: 2/22- 2/28 2010 SNOW...SNOW...AND MORE SNOW!!!

This has been the week of the snowstorm. Funny thing is....we don't have any snow. All around us, everyone is buried in up to 2 feet of the white stuff. US.....we got slush! Slush was falling from the sky. We got rain...rain...and more rain....OH....we also got a BLACKOUT!!!

Now, I LOVE blackouts. I love the quiet. I love the dark. I love the humless house. I love readfing by candlelight. I love hearing my kids jumping out of closets and scaring the crud out of eachother and then laughing their collective butts off...the scarer and the scarees.

DH did hook up our tiny generator, so we could flush the toilet and we did have one flourescent light bulb going in the kitchen. Got the woodstove cranking and settled my young'uns down to reading and snuggling in their sleeping style! LOL.
OK...down to progress subjects:
Monday: Knew snowstorm was on its way. Promised the little buggers that if their seatwork was finished, we could go to the playground to play. Guess what? They finished by 12:30. Off to the playground. Cousins met us there and our yayas were all let out.
Last day of Karate. Our contract is complete. Kids love it. Pocket hates it. WAY TOO EXPENSIVE!!! Must find cheaper dojo for kids. They are good. They could compete. I can't afford this. LOL! comes the snow.... yay!! supposed to be deep....not sticking yet!
Wednesday: BLACKOUT!! shovel...shovel...shovel....
Thursday: shovel...shovel...splooosh....
Friday: Ummmmm...more snow...UGH!....more slush...UGH! UGH!!!!
Kids made progress in Math, Reading and Language arts. Mr. Mustache Man is reading very well for a newly 6 year old boy. Cubby has declared I am boring. I take that personally. I believe him. I am boring. Do your your work...come' your work! Ummmm...BORING!!!!! Decided it is time to really consider going back to my CM a more mature...boy kinda way. Talked to Cubby about what made things boring.....Basically, he is bored because there is too much written work and not enough hands on work. I need to incorporate more math type games, manipulatives and real life experience. He likes his reading program and I will continue to do the writing in the workbook for him. his reading comprehension is wonderful...even months later.
Dr. Kazam figured out she needs 80 more days to finish her assigned work. She is a list checker. She is a workbook kid.
She likes knowing exactly what is expected and self-teaching lessons. She is a learn on your own kinda girl. Git it done and I can go do what i really want to do...CREATE! PAINT! BUILD!
Elvis needs a total overhaul in my High School Plan for him. I am seriously considering holding him back a year and having him complete 10th grade again next year. He is very intelligent and always worked at least a year or 2 ahead of grade...BUT he has leveled out due to sickness and immaturity this year. I can not help but to meet him where he is at and move on from there. He is reading Dante mby choice, BUT his Lit program sits untouched for weeks....He is reading Yuggie's Chem book, but is only in Module 6 of his own....OK....So, he is learing...BUT, he is immature and nneds to learn to prioritize and complete subjects as assigned.
Ding is getting used to campus life
Yug is plodding along.
Sorry, No pics this week...again. Still no camers...sigh.

Week 8 Book 9 The Book Thief

This book is going down as one of my top ten EVER books. Why? This book was totally different. It was different than any WWII book I have ever read. It was not gruesome, it was touching, it was captivating, it was "colorful." Told from the point of view of "Death" narrated in his person, we get a different view of Death's job, his weariness, even a bit of his caring. Death, whom we all must meet someday and his chagrin and fascination with the human soul knits this book into a masterpiece.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week in Review.. 2/15-2/19

There are no pictures this week because my camera shattered when I left it out in my car in very cold weather. The display just shattered...So now , my camera has been returned and I have credit for a new one, but no camera. I used my trusty phone to take some pics, but now have to figure out how to transfer them to my lappy...OY.

This week I reviewed some of my plans for the year and decided I needed to revamp some of the younger kids work.
Mr. Mustache Man needs more hands on and less workbook work. he is certainly capable, but capable does not necessarily mean it is good for him. My goal for him this year was to get him reading and to get him to be able to sit while he is read to....Mission accomplished on both goals.

In math....I need to research more games, and literature to go with his learning. He is ABLE to do the workbooks, but whether they are necessary...and whether the fight to get him to do them is worth it at 6 is another story. This week, I think I am going to peruse Living Math is a fantastic resource. i am also going back to my CM roots...somehow...some way. The workbooks are easier on planning and easier for assessment...but I feel flat and totally uninspired. I am beginning to think that the workbooks are fine after 4th grade when the kids become independent and can read and follow directions.

Cubby also needs a re-vamp. The workbook thing is squashing his love of learning...but worse, it is setting up a battlefield between us. he does NOT want to sit and do these...What has worked and IS making him happy, is if I sit and do the writing for him. he is retaining more that way and enjoying the assignments. I think his ability to write well and comfortably is not at the level needed for him to concentrate on the actual lesson at hand. If I write FOR him, he can focus on the task needed to learn.

We have spent much time this week reading aloud...talking....reading some more...talking some more. I didn't get to check many boxes on my maybe I need to change the list.

Dr. Kazam and Elvis....plugged away. The Dr. has been reading...LOTS! She just discovered the beauty of the bedtime read. This week, she is reading the Percy Jackson series now. She also finished Detectives in Togas and loved it.

Elvis is working his way through Dante's Divine Comedy. He has finished Inferno and Purgatorio. We haven't used any study materials or lit analysis with this book at all. He just wanted to read it. I think I will have him read it again...and use the WEM guidelines for studying his favorite section.

Ding is unhappy at school. The neighborhood the school is in is not the greatest and I think she is afraid. She feels like she is in a prison, so the school search goes on....

Yuggie had his girlfriend visiting from Tuesday - Thursday (she lives several hours away.) They went up to visit Ingrid at school and Ahha and EEyah who live close-by. They went ice skating and had fun. He needs to seriously hit the books now. SERIOUSLY!!!

Week 7 Book 8 Under the Dome by Stephen King

This was a BIG book...1144 pages of typical Stephen King meets the Twilight Zone...Cast of 100 characters, Good vs. Evil...God vs. no God, Extra-terrestrial life meets Human earthling...predictable, engaging faster and faster and faster....Hide in your room instead of clean the house...sit on the couch and read instead of homeschool the kiddies....Stephen King.

I finished this tome in one week....mostly Friday and Saturday this weekend. I would have liked to see less extra-terrestrial and more environmental issues addressed. Would have deepened the book and made it a work of art instead of a simple Simpson's episode gone awry.

The bad guys were bad...the good guys were good. The book was fun and the movie should be out in a year or so...LOL!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another Friday...Another Week in Review 2/8-2/12

What week are we in?? Well, I have been homeschooling for the past almost 15 years....14 years, 10 months2 weeks and 3 days to be almost exact...give a day or 2. This week was Ham's birthday. Wednesday to be exact...which means the anxiety of it coming meant he couldn't concentrate on his seat work...then the big day...well, who could ask a newly six year old to do seat work on his birthday....then of course no one else could do their seat work...and of course all the schools have a snow why should anyone else do THEIR seat work?? Thursday and Friday, well, we already blew off why should we bother on Thursday and Friday????

So, Here it is Friday and I think maybe, one lesson per subject has been completed by the kids this Mama flips into un-schooler mode and asks, what DID WE DO THIS WEEK?? And strangely, I am happyLOL!!!!

Elvis: Yuggie's college Chemistry book arrived by mail on Monday. Elvis was curious and wanted to compare it to his Apologia Chem book. Conclusion: Elvis spent all of Monday reading Yug's Chem book. We have switched back to Teaching textbooks after a 1/1/2 year doomed trip with other Math programs....(Chalkdust/ Jacob's Geometry) becaue TT was deemed "NOT RIGOROUS" by the powers that be....YET, after TT Algebra 1 Elvis was one of the only kids in his Geometry class (online) that remembered and could explain the Algebra review....sigh.....I should have stuck with my gut. BUT, once again, I let the RIGOROUS POLICE take hold of my common sense....

Elvis and Daddy were supposed to go to a Well Pump School in Massachusettes on Tuesday...Highlight was to be a hotel stay and indoor go-carts. Life interfered....our well pump died on Monday night...Tuesday brought a pending blizzard. So, on Tuesday in stead of a 5 hour car-ride and go-carts.....Elvis actually helped pull and install a new well pump.
Ham and Cubby were close at hand "Helping" and lending a hand when needed.
Homeschool learning at it's best.

Elvis returned to Yuggie's Chem book and snuggled down to learn about balancing chemical equations and converting units of measure....

Dr. Kazam spent her week antagonizing brothers, making stuff out of construction paper, and painting GORGEOUS tops for her friends birthdays. Her talent is definitely NOT Math. She is a born artist...very creative. I could not believe she painted these shirts freehand...I am totally amazed! She also found my copy of Lightning Thief and is in the process of voraciously reading it. I told her I would not take her to see the movie if she didn't read the book she is reading....and loving this book.

Cubby and Ham spent the week learning how to be to to play nice and build snowmen, snow balls, snow forts. They learned to pitch in and shovel off the steps, take out the garbage, help empty the dishwasher etc.

I realized that I never taught these little ones to do jobs that the older ones could do by their ages.

I spent this week trying to review my goals in our home school and my educational philosophy. The plans I painstakingly created over the summer are almost useless from tweaks and changes in our curriculum. This happens every year. I lead those horses to water, but they insist on drinking in their own way. No one is excited about learning anymore. Our studies have become very fun...just nag...nag...nag and rebel...rebel...rebel....

My intial thought is we need a break...but reality is we do not need a break...we would have those breaks if the kids accomplished their assignments in a reasonable amount of time.

We have been progressing nicely overall. When I look at my "finished" folders, I am encouraged...but that TO_DO list kills me every time...sigh....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Week 6 Book 7

NOTE TO SELF: NEVER EVER EVER give a kid a book I read as a teen without pre-reading. I read this when I was 18 or 19...soooooo many years ago.....I remembered the plot...I remembered the political motivation of the book.....I remembered the characters...I forgot how dirty it was!!!! EEEEEEEKKKK!!!!!!!!! OK...this book was sex with no boundaries or morals or conviction. It was another part of their society...but EGADS!!! My teens did not need to read this one...and there I go tossing it to my 15 y/o and saying..."'ll love it! " No wonder he stayed up all night wonder he looked at me really strange the next day and the day after that...until I picked up the book before this weekend's swim meet and threw it in my bag to re-read....AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! Ok....I still think it was a well written book...if you like Political Sci Fi porn....ok...maybe not porn, but gee, it got pretty close....
I suppose we will live...and I need to remember that some of those Ancient Great Books pale in comparison....but : MUST PRE_READ next time...

Monday, February 1, 2010

52 Books in 52 weeks Week 5 Book 6

Water for Elephants. Poigniant. Written in the voice of a 90 (or is he 93?) year old veterinarian from his nursing home. The plight of the elderly intertwined with the adventure of a circus act during the Depression. The graphic sex scenes threw me for a bit of a loop...TMI! but, the overall book had mee cheering for the man in the wheelchair and crying for the man in the train.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week in Review 1/31-2/6/10

Backstroking : Just like my big brother!

Lining up for my next race

Won't let a bit of walking pneumonia hold me back.
YAY!!!!!!ELVIS!!!!! (He placed into finals!)

Dr. Kazam swims the 100 back-stroke finishing strong and taking 4 seconds off her best time.

Still exhausted from the weekend. Long Meets! Long Drives! Ding is back at school, visited Ahha and EEyah Sunday night. Daddy had a middle of the night service call and then the subsequent search for repair parts associated with commercial boilers in rural settings. UGH!

Ham managed to get Bible, Math, Phonics/ Reading and LA finished for the week. We only have seat work lessons 3 days a week for him as he is still 5. We will increase to 4 days a week the week after next when he turns 6

Cubby: Took 2 hours to give him a spelling test. 20 words....he spelled 19 correctly after lots of prompting. I am sure my 1rst grade teacher is rolling in her grave...OY! Other than that, he did a wonderful job of avoiding his school assignments. We managed to get a few done, but I think he needs a little academic seat work break. maybe we will do more orally, or maybe I will just tell him to suck it up and get busy. Not sure yet....

Dr. Kazam: She managed to do a math quiz, 3 LA lessons and 3Reading Lessons...all that after sleeping until 11 am pretty much all week Growth spurt, coupled with being sick and a weekend of competition did her in. Another weekend of competition this weekend coming...OY

History: We are STILL in SOTW 3!! This is Year 2....and we still have about 10 or 15 chapters to go. This week we covered the Constitutional Convention...George Washington, Ben Franklin etc. We covered the 3 branches of Government etc. My kids always have this deer in the headlights look. LOL. We read a few small books as go alongs: Shhhhh....We're Writing the Constitution, by Jean Fritz and A More Perfect Union by Maestro.

Elvis was holed up in his room most of the week. I guess I should check his progress, but he looks glum enough and I don't have a nice tone in my voice today...LOL. I know he caught up some work in his Literature and went back to Teaching Textbooks for Algebra 2. He took the test for Chapter 8 today and was able to get a 95%....YAY!!!! Math has been the bane of my homeschool existance and unfortunately ...his too. He also read This Perfect Day by Ira Levin. Great book!

Yuggie cracked the windshield in his car...Ding's is on its last leg....

We skipped Karate Monday....Skipped swim practice Monday AND Friday.....

Glad this week is now over! I need a new book for the 52 in 52 challenge....Going to go scout my shelves. I have 8 hours of bleacher time this weekend! Think I'll grab This Perfect Day from Elvis!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Week in review 1/25-1/29

We actually finished all of our weeks work by Thursday this week ....and a good thig too, because Ding's car broke down last night on the NYS Thruway. So, we spent the day retrieving her poor car from the piratey tow truck drivers and over to our regular pirate....umnmmm....mechanic.
Elvis: Is still working at 1/2 pace after his bout of pneumonia. He is now taking another online class through Memoria Press entitled Understanding Music. This is a class in Music Theory. It is replacing my planned Geography class and he is really excited.
Dr Kazam (aka Smoosh) finished most of her book work, but was side tracked by some novels she "just had to finish." I was so happy she took the initiative to read, that I let her snuggle in the recliner and read to her hearts content. I didn't have the heart to tell her those were school books that were planned into her Spring semester...I'm no rat...LOL
Cubby and Ham are plugging away in their light units. We have also been reading The Little House series. We are now reading Little Town. I plan to put them aside after this one because they get too depressing. I think we will bein Alice In Wonderland. I need something a little more light and fun. It's nice that the 2 little hooligans are so intrigued by Pa and Laura...and that they have learned to sit for long periods of time while we do read alouds.
Post Homeschool Graduates and the Effect on Homeschool Families

Anyone else ever have that overwhelming feeling that something ain't right but you just can't put your finger on it? This week, I was going over some old photographs and I came across this one. Believe it or not, This was Ahha's first day of school...Ahha is my oldest one. Now when kids are little and you dress them up all pretty with their hair in ribbons and their new backpack, gym shoes and cardigan sweater and put them on that big yellow schoolbus, you recognize a big change coming. Your baby is growing up and your family will never be the same again. With homeschoolers, this changing of the guard is delayed and somewhat different. It is almost unidentifiable because the person leaving the nest is a full fledged (almost) adult and she is not going on the schoolbus, she has her own drivers license.

It took me 3 graduated homeschool students to realize that turning point in our lives (I am a slow bloomer.) It all goes back to that hot August day when Ahha got in that old Oldsmobile and drove to her first class. Our homeschool and our family has never truly been the same. There went my right hand, and my friend. There drove away years of hard work and sacrifice...down the road and into her own life...where she met her to-be husband and found a career that made her happy. Yes, I am still her Mama...but those days of lounging in bed reading stories or novels aloud...those days of us 3 girls Ahha, Mama and Ding baking or making a dinner for guests...changing baby diapers, cleaning up after our littlies, being entertained by little boy antics...those days are past. It took me 3 years to realize that our family was forever changed in that one day.

Something seems amiss and that thing is that our family which was one unit, is not unified any more. Those days are behind and now Dh and I need to figure out how all this parenting of adult children works...and again, they do not come with a guidebook. I miss my oldest dd and I miss Ding and Yuggie is now off to College as well...even though he is still living at home.

The older kids have become more like aunts and uncles to the youngers rather than friends and confidants. The little ones seem to have their own society, their own thing happening without the olders being a part of it.

I am not really sure what this post is truly about other than a little walk down memory lane and the sad spot in my heart that my family is not ONE as it used to be.