Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homeschool Art - Mushrooms!

Walking through the new books department of the library I found this unique book of mushroom paintings; A Visionary Field Guide Mushroom Magick by Arik Roper. The colors were so vibrant, I wanted to cut the pictures out and frame them! Needless to say, I brought it home for further perusing.

Yesterday we moved our homeschool time down to my art room and the girls wanted a bit of art time. I thought of that book. We started out with patterned paper scraps and looked at some of the mushroom paintings. The girls drew mushrooms, taking in all the details.

The teen then painted over her sketch with gesso (it allows for the pencil marks to be set but still seen.) She then used fluid acrylic paints with matte medium to paint her mushrooms complete with a background of clouds and a floor of leaves.

The little one went with the simple approach and just colored the mushrooms with Koh-I-Noor colored pencils.

While they worked on their art projects I made ornaments. Maybe I should make some mushroom ornaments! lol

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Homeschooling vs. Slackerville: a fight to the death

(Image picked up from: Your Name University)

Ahhhh, the holidays are coming. This is the point where I start to panic, adding up our hours, shuffling and organizing our school paperwork in an effort to see how far we are behind! So far this year in hours, we're ahead (don't ask me how, I don't know.) However, let's compare how much 'homeschooling' we're actually achieving compared to how much 'slacking' is going on, shall we?

The Little One.

Homeschooling getting done:
1. Math - 4th grade book is finished, 5th grade book is started and we're flying through it. 1 point for homeschool, maybe even 2! Check.
2. Reading - Read Alouds for Sonlight history; we're behind. Really we're so far off the track I don't know where to begin to pull us back on. BUT, the little one is reading her way through The Chronicles of Narnia and has started reading The Edge Chronicles series I gave her for her birthday in August that I do believe she never even cracked open until this week. Even though we're behind in the history reading, so much reading is going on, I have to pry books out of her hand to get anything else in it, even food. I call this 1 point for homeschool. Check.
3. Bible - Quizzing is finished every week and class for it is attended. Dh and the little one are reading their way through the gospels. I think they're in Mark right now. 1 point for homeschool. Check.
4. Music - on the upside, since Choral class is, in fact, a class right before Wednesday night church and DH is in charge of getting her there, we're on track with that. 1 point for homeschool. Check.

Subjects in which Slackercity has been become our home:
1. Science - Sonlight Human Body study... hmmm. Bored. We've dropped it completely. I need to find some activities and projects, books to read. I did find this link while looking up books, so she might play with it today. Yucky Discovery. The worksheets from Sonlight weren't cutting it for either of us. We're doing no science right now unless you count the constant inventing/baking she is doing (today she is torturing my senses and diet with homemade carrot cake, evil child.) But I'm still saying we're behind so: 1 point for slackerville.
2. Piano - Lessons have completely gone by the wayside due to lack of time, and let's be frank here, lack of discipline on my part. 1 point for slackerville.

A Tie has been called:
1. English - We're sort of caught up on Wordly Wise vocab, yet behind on English book & Daily Grams. I call this a tie.
2. History - Sonlight Core 5 has this optional program you can buy (which I did not) called Eastern Hemisphere Explorer package. It covers all aspects of different countries. Instead, we have been ordering country books & videos from the library and drawing/writing about these places in our 'Country Notebook'. It gives her a place to draw and also practice a bit of writing on things SHE finds interesting about those countries. We were going so well, even getting the reading of history books in but haven't done this in a couple weeks. So I'd say we're tied.

The Teen.

Homeschool vs. Slackerville - TIE.

All homeschooling classes have been suspended until she finishes out this semester of college courses. She has a Sociology teacher who has never taught before and doesn't know the meaning of time management, an English Comp teacher who is obstinate, doesn't give feedback on papers so you have no idea what you're getting wrong, gives no feedback on drafts so you know what to correct. She just tells you to go to the writing lab if you don't know what you're doing (HELLO! Why am I paying YOU to teach my child then, huh?) She also has a history teacher that wants you to basically memorize all of world history. He's is a good teacher, just unrealistic a bit.

This experience has soured her on college, especially this campus in general. We've had meetings with teachers, talked with directors and if something doesn't improve, the dean will be hearing from us next. Incompetent teachers suck. I feel bad for her, she worries too much and has trouble sleeping sometimes because of it. If we can just get through this semester with B's, we'll both be overjoyed. I'm praying for her everyday. Next year should be gravy, all art courses for fun.

So, homeschool is slacking at the moment or really we've prioritized. She'll go back to Algebra 2 studies over the holidays to catch up. Government was almost finished anyway so we'll do a final project over the holidays to wrap it up. Maybe a field trip and a written/drawn presentation. We dropped the Bachelorette Living course entirely. She knows everything I wanted to teach her except how to check things in a car so we'll do something else next semester instead of it. DH will teach her car stuff when we actually get her a car this summer hopefully.

We missed the deadline for Dec's ACT test so we'll shoot for the February one and start studying in earnest for it over the holidays and January. She learning that homeschool has been a cakewalk compared to real life.

So that's an update on the fight between homeschool and slackerland. Not sure who is winning. Stay tuned for a new report by the holidays. Hoping I have better things to share.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Penny Lane & School Update

I meant to post these pictures of our new family member awhile back when she joined our family in July. The little one saw her at church in a giveaway box of kittens and wept, wailed and sobbed to bring her home. Okay, not that bad but she convinced her pushover dad that its 'the only thing' she wanted for her August birthday. (Likely story. lol) These are pics from August. When we got her around July 1st she was a small wisp of a thing, barely 5 weeks old.

Now she is 4 1/2 month old, 7 1/2 lbs fatty. Today we found her stuffed in the Halloween candy bucket. We attempted to 'rescue' her only to have her jump back in. She likes it apparently.

School is progressing with minimal hiccups. Always changing, never ceasing. The teen is taking college classes. Not so much enjoying them (after all, they're not art classes) but enduring none-the-less. The little one is keeping caught up on schoolwork, amidst much strife sometimes. But then I take her to the library and she brings home a pile and I mean a huge PILE of books to read and she's content. How to make English and Mathematics studying as fun as reading is a battle I haven't conquered yet. We're still enjoying Sonlight Core 5. Some of the books are not to our liking and take forever to read. I should be more flexible and let them go but haven't done so, so far.

The teen is starting once again to study for the ACT testing. I picked up a few grammar books at the library to help. English is her strong suit but it doesn't hurt to brush up.
Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Writing in 15 Minutes a Day
Great books for refreshing your memory of grammar as well as writing skills. I really need to find some great books to help her with the math studying. We have an ACT book but I would like to see some 'fun' math learning math books to help her know everything she needs to know. She won't be taking the written portion of the ACT until she retests in February. December's test will just be the standard.

It's time to start figuring out how to apply for scholarships for the teen. Next year will be full time college (I can't believe she will graduate this year!) With DH being in a new job, any help we can get towards the college fees will be wonderful. I would rather not saddle the teen with debt right out of college, kwim? Also been talking to a financial adviser about saving for college for the small one. We're so behind on that eight ball. Why didn't my mom/dad ever tell me life would be hard? I distinctly do NOT remember any such conversation. I do, however, remember them laughing at me and saying 'just wait until you have kids'. They weren't kidding!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weekly Snippets & Facebook

Just wanted to let anyone know who cares about reading my blurbles, this blog is on Facebook now (I will still continue to post here.) If you're lazy like me and like all your eggs in one basket so you don't have to hop around to other places, you can join my networked blogs thingie (over in the left column) and then when I post new posts here, a little link will pop up on Facebook for ya. Just in case you're a kindred lazy spirit, like me. Just sayin'...

Snippets of our week:
1. I need to expect the unexpected more. I get to planning all we need to get done in a week, fretting that we won't finish it all and then things happen. Like this week, 2 kids sick, one by Thursday, the other by Friday. The teen didn't do homeschool after Wed, the little one didn't on Friday. Trying not to panic about all we didn't get done. Go with the flow is my new supposed mantra.
2. My Bachelorette Living is off to a rocky start. I need to make a plan. The problem is she knows so much already because we already cook, clean, and sew some. Need to mix it up and make interesting, and have supplies or whatever on hand. Trying to think of how we can also mix in some volunteering or donating things (like helping cook at a homeless shelter, or learning to knit or sew and donating to the local pregnant teens home, etc...) Planning ahead can sometimes be a bonus. Imagine that!
3. We've switched from using a boring 1980's textbook series on Government to watching videos on Government, after the teen flunked the chapter test, twice. She's taking notes, planning 2 reports and a field trip for the semester. She is already retaining more in the few days watching videos than she did the first 2 weeks out of a book.
4. After reading Martinzoo's blog, I went hopping over to Craigslist to find a fish tank and stand. Might pick up one this week. I wanna grow tadpoles with the kids. Of course now the teen informs me she hates frogs, has a phobia because a little kid in New Mexico chased her around with a frog while they were there on Mission Trip. Dramatic child I have. *sigh* That's like when DH told me we couldn't name one of our children Elizabeth, because a little girl named Elizabeth used to chase him around the block in 2nd grade. *eyeroll*
5. I've been refreshing my brain on Algebra 2. The teen and I sit down every day for 2 hours and do a whole lesson. Every problem, I do with her. It's as much a learning time for me as for her.
6. The teen had her 3rd week of college classes and actually fit in her homeschool work as well. I think we're progressing.
7. The little one has done very well with division. Previous weeks were touch and go, many meltdowns. This week it seemed to flow.
8. This week was a little too like my previous years of homeschooling, ie: textbooks, math drills, etc... I'm supposed to be working my way toward unschooling, not the other way around. Be flexible, is my 2nd new mantra.
9. The little one has been begging all week to bake sweets. I've been nixing the idea, and have lost weight all week instead of gaining like I do every other week she bakes. Now WHY did I buy her all that baking stuff for her birthday? I really didn't think it through.
10. Both the new kitten and the dog have decided on their costumes for Halloween (via the little one.) So glad they're both girls (the jury might still be out on the kitten though...) The little one asked me if there was a way to count dressing up the kitten & dog and grooming them, as a homeschool subject. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saddling Up!

So, we're back in the saddle again. Homeschool started for us last Tuesday. I like to get a few weeks in before the Labor Day holiday just so we have extras hours accomplished in case we want to take off more days during the Christmas holidays. You know how it is. Juggle juggle juggle.

So far things are running smoothly. The teen's college classes are challenging. The greatest challenge however, is figuring out how to fit in time for the homeschool classes as well. College takes a lot of work! She's taking Sociology, College Composition and Modern Western Civilization. Big words for a science, language arts and social studies credits. At home this semester we're tackling Algebra 2 and 1/2 a course on Government. I've also thrown together a 1/2 credit course loosely called 'Bachelorette Living'. A friend suggested it and I thought it a good idea.

Bachelorette Living will cover: cooking/baking basics. Budgeting & shopping for groceries as well as planning for utilities, insurance and rent (for when she has a place of her own.) It will also include cleaning & laundry instruction, basic household repairs. How to set up electronics, basic sewing and repair. I'm hoping to also show her how to do basic car checkups. I'm sure I'll learn all that right along side her. The course will flow nicely into next semester's Personal Finance course covering: more budgeting, especially for large purchases, credit cards/debit cards, bank accounts, balancing a checkbook, stocks, bonds, 401k, whatever she would need to know about money. After these two courses I"ll feel confident to kick her out into the world. I mean gently tap her out of the nest when necessary. lol

The little one has embraced Sonlight curriculum. So far we love it. I bought Sonlight Core 5 (History, Reading/Read Alouds, Bible) and also their Science program, used of course. I've been supplementing with a math textbook to catch her up to 5th grade math (we didn't quite finish last year's textbook and she forgot some things over the summer.) Language is a textbook too. I feel like I'm already falling into last year's rut of textbooks. I need to sit down and plan out a month's worth of learning that doesn't involve textbooks for the most part. I do not want to hear again how she HATES school. I feel like such a failure then.

The little one asked me the other day if learning to play Blackjack and bet on each hand counted for anything in school? Oh brother! Apparently dad taught her. They couldn't just play a nice round of Monopoly or Go Fish. *sigh*

I'm really hoping to enjoy this year and not count the days until Thanksgiving vacation. But I do feel like my summer hasn't even started yet. Our real summer was full of problems. The teen hurt her leg. On crutches for weeks. Dr., Dr., ER, ER visit. Then she got a spider bite that turned into MRSA. Dr., Dr., Hospital for surgery and a 5 day stay. Then my mother had to have surgery. We visited her in the hospital and then spent weeks going to her house during the weekdays to help care for her (loved spending all that extra time with her.) Everyone is mending now but I just miss my summer time of lazing around, pool visits, lots of art time and reading time. Oh well, there is always next summer.

Cheers to a great school year!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It's amazing how one little thing can change your view, your goals, your feelings. I moved the bookcase in the living room from one corner to another. No big deal. It was behind the big chair in our room and was mostly filled with art books of mine that need to go to my studio. In another corner, in an old large plastic milk crate (florescent orange and doesn't match the room) were our library books, overflowing. Being homeschoolers, we have never had just a few books out of the library. In fact, last week we only had 35 checked out and I was proud of that fact, even told the kids a few times. Now, we're back up to 95 after a nice long library visit.

ANYWAY, after coming home with 5+ bags of books and plopping them and me down on the couch, I stared at my bookshelf. I looked at the hutch in the other more accessible corner... and got the idea to switch them. We never get into the hutch unless we run out of candles. Usually during a storm. Why didn't I think of this switch before? I don't know. So, after some hard work and hauling books, and then neatly placing our library books on the shelf, we have this! Accessible books! Off my floor! And the unsightly milk crate is heading downstairs.

The little one loves the book corner. She brought out a rug from her room, her cup chair and the bed tray and now has her reading area. I have my books all lined up and it reminds me what I have and I am more eager to read them. I love it! It will be so nice during the school year when we have even MORE books out from the library!


I've been reading up on unschooling, and Sonlight and other things this week. I mentioned before how my children think I've sucked all the fun out of school and the little one even asked to 'take off a year from school.' Imagine my shock. I've come to realize she doesn't really mean that. This week I asked for more specifics, what she wants to do, versus what she hates. Hates worksheets, textbooks, writing. I never knew about the writing part. But she doesn't consider when she writes poetry or stories on her own, as 'writing'. Just when I have her do something as 'school'. She wants to read, play games, do lots of science stuff/experiments and cooking, art, piano.

Now I know you shouldn't coddle the children, but I don't want them to HATE school either. I'm looking into a more relaxed homeschooling for the little one (the teen has her schedule of college classes and simple textbooks all ready.) I think I'm formulating a plan. We'll read a lot (hence, the researching of Sonlight for history and reading.) I thought for math I'd make up a list of topics I want her to cover in the year and then provide opportunities for that learning. Whether through board games (Smath, Tri-onimos, XTable WAR, Number Quest, etc.) or through games we make up, cooking, field trips, math books (Divide and Ride, Alice in Numberland, Body Math, Grapes of Math), building things, lego playing, etc... I want to try anyway. Science will be reading, experiments (something she requests a lot of) and field trips. I don't know if this is considered unschooling or not but I'm getting close. On spelling and grammar, I had Wordly Wise for spelling, but its workbook. Not sure how to do these topics without instruction. I think I have a few games (Scrabble, Upwords, etc...)

Any suggestions would be great appreciated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Things Have Changed

I read this today:

British Government Spells End of 'i before e' Rule
Published - Jun 20 2009 11:54PM CDT by Associated Press

It's a spelling mantra that generations of schoolchildren have learned _ "i before e, except after c."
But new British government guidance tells teachers not
to pass on the rule to students,
because there are too many exceptions.
The "Support For Spelling" document, which is being sent to thousands of primary schools,
says the rule "is not worth teaching" because it doesn't account for
words like 'sufficient,' 'veil' and 'their.'
Jack Bovill of the Spelling Society, which advocates simplified spelling,
said Saturday he agreed with the decision.
But supporters say the ditty has value because it is one of the few
language rules that most people remember.

This reminds me of a discussion I had recently with another homeschool mom, about all the school information that has changed since we were in school. This spring I was studying with the teen for her ACT and I was correcting her on the right way to use commas. The ACT study book insisted I was WRONG! The rule used to be if you wrote a list of 3 (or more) words, you used commas after the first ones but not after the next to last word. IE: I want Jack, Jill and Peter to come to my party. (after Jill, no comma.) Now they're throwing in commas left and right.

Remember in typing class how you always had to hit the space bar 2 times inbetween sentences? Nope. It's faux pas now. Not advised. And now you can even start sentences with the words AND and BUT! What is the world coming to?

Either I or DH read an article recently about a school district some where in the US that allows kids taking the SAT or ACT to use texting abbreviations in their answers. I can't really think of what those would be because I'm not as savvy as my texting teen dd but can you imagine that? Making it easier for the kids with the excuse that they 'know the abbreviations better and we shouldn't penalize them for using that.' They use things like: RLY meaning “really”; R, meaning “are”; Y meaning “why”; UR meaning "your"; and IDK, meaning “I don’t know.” I just don't understand this logic of 'dumbing down' things for our kids. They're not going to be able to compete in this world with a subpar education.

It amazes me the amount of dd's friends who text and don't know the difference between there, their and they're, its and it's or your and you're. My dd is especially 'into' words and spelling so maybe she notices it more than others who don't care about words as much.

It seems to me we're raising a generation of lazy talkers. I'll admit I do text with friends and the teen using abbreviations sometimes, just because I'm a talker and want to fit as many words into my 160 letter spots as I can. But in normal life, and typing emails and such, I use correct spellings and punctuation (as best as I can remember it). We have a generation of teens that still don't understand what things need capitalizing, or the meaning of basic words. There are many words that are in our way of speaking that were not correct a long time ago. Funner vs. More Fun is one example, Ain't is another. It has actually made its way into the dictionary!

Since I like learning I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that there are people in this world that don't particularly prefer learning and are content to stay in their level of understanding without an urge to better themselves. Not that I know it all, by any stretch of the imagination. I just like to discover new things, new words, new experiences. This is one thing I love about homeschooling. We can do more spelling, more math, whatever we need to make sure our kids get the basics or even a higher than rudimentary level of learning. And if they're struggling in something, we can keep going over it until they're proficient and aren't left behind. I've read articles saying the bigger your list of usable vocabulary, the more intelligent you sound to prospective employers and potential mates. I tell my teen this all the time.

I'm getting so confused! What changes will come next? They'll start telling me that 2+2 is 5?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Update

The girls were enjoying their summer until... (insert scary DUN DUN DUN DUH music) evil mom said they haven't finished their math books and must still work on them. I've been waking them this week at 10 am. I say 'if you finish your chapter in math and do an hour of reading this morning then you have the afternoon to veg.' Apparently they haven't embraced this plan yet. Dilly dally dilly dally.

We spent a few weeks doing no school. We read, baked food, went places. We needed a break. But now I feel the need for them to finish up these math books so they will be ready for the next book in the fall.

The little one has made a summer goal. She wants to read 45 books. She has 11 weeks. I told her maybe there could be a reward at the end (possibly a new book purchase. She's been wanting the whole set of Hiccup books.) So far she has reread 3 of her Spiderwick books for fun. My only stipulation is that they be chapter books for her grade.

DD is running off to volunteer most of the summer at church camp. I think it's good responsibility for her, learning to care for others, be responsible, finish her jobs on time. Next year for her is busy busy. She plans to graduate in the spring. So a summer of fun volunteering is just the way to relax. Time to get busy looking up scholarships.

We've been playing at the pool this week. DD has taken up running with DH and is excited to say she has a 'sport.' She hasn't ever been much involved in any. DD and I are both reading through Madame Bovary for fun.

I haven't finished grading everything or giving the teen final grades for her transcript. That is the next order of business. Plus I'm planning fall curriculum and possibly choosing a new course of action for the little one. Possibly Sonlight, less textbook and more reading. I'm also planning to take everything out of the dining room /aka schoolroom. Need to spackle and paint, put in 'new to me' furniture I was given by my SIL.

Summer is here. Big plans are everywhere (including selling off all the extra school stuff and donation the rest.) We'll see what gets done.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recital & Wrap It Up Already!

The girls started taking piano lessons in January with a friend. They had their first recital on Tuesday. We are so proud of them! The little one has never had lessons before and the teen had a couple years of lessons so long ago, it's almost like starting over again. We have been using a keyboard forever but finally picked up an upright piano at a garage sale last week for $50! It's a beautiful blond wood color too! The teen played Hungarian Dance, No. 1 by Brahms. The little one played 2 pieces; Surprise Symphony by Haydn and Down In The Valley (a song I sang to them often when they were babies.)

Here's pics of the girls playing in their recital. Growing up quickly... sigh.

I'm to the point in our year of homeschool that I'm done. Finito, Kuput. It's increasingly hard to say 'do one more chapter, just so I can have more paperwork or so I can call the book finished.' I mean, who cares if we did every page? 'Not I,' said the blind man.

The kids have been doing alternative things this week instead of books books books. Board games for math and english, videos for art and history, outdoors visiting for science, lots of piano playing. Why don't I do this all year long? It feels like cheating. Although I know of people who this is how they live and do school and they learn so much! I just don't know how to switch to a no textbook way of life and feel okay with it.

Anyway, this week I've been planning for next year's schooling instead of waiting til the last minute. Always better that way. Then I don't worry all summer. The 4th grader asked if she could take a year off from school.
I said, 'What ever for?'
'Just to do things. I hate school.' she explained.
'Like what things?'
'Play with Capsela, draw outdoors, play math games, build things with Legos.'

Apparently I have sucked all the fun out of school. I'm a fun sucker. I may be changing up my school planning a bit. I don't want kids hating school already! The teen doesn't particularly like textbooks but she is looking forward to next year's school. She might be taking some college classes and plans to graduate next year. I hope I can make it a fun, memorable last year for her...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday Ramblings

(lush green backyard pic from last summer)

Spring is here. It makes me want to take walks, pick up leaves and flowers, pull out the bug/flower/tree identifier books and have a picnic. Instead we spent yesterday indoors doing our normal list of schoolwork. I wonder which way we would actually have learned more. It's so easy for me to just stick to our lists, and textbooks and videos so I can visually see what we are learning by the amount of papers piling up. But are we retaining anything? I wonder. I think I need to loosen up and stop worrying about hours and courses, and daily logs so much and live a little.

The teen received her ACT scores back. We're so proud. While it isn't the 30 she wants, its higher than a 20 so we're very proud for her first time taking it. She was convinced she would receive a 10 or 15 so she was overjoyed and didn't believe us until we showed her the official print out from ACT. I think she is beginning to study for the next one in June. We were looking at the requirements for getting into KCAI school and they only require a 20 ACT score. She needs to work on 20+ pieces of art to include in a portfolio that has to be evaluated by any art school she might attend. I'm a bit selfish. I'd love to have her nearby at KCAI, plus its a fabulous school. I want to attend there after we have finished paying for her.

Am I the only homeschooling mom that changes plans mid stream? I can't seem to stop doing that. It's just that when I see something going downhill and the kids eyes glazing over, I want to change it all up to make it more interesting. I think sometimes that can be a bad thing. I don't know. Half way through the teen's World History course we realized she was retaining nothing through the textbook and bored out of her mind. So I sat down, made a list according to history subject and ordered videos covering all aspects of World History through the library. They were glad to see DH this week when he went to pick up our pile; 60 videos, to last us the month. It's kind of an exciting way to learn history. She's a visual learner and picks up so much through the videos. We're taking notes and discussing them as well.

I think today we made go outside to draw. It's too beautiful a day given to us by God, to waste it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Emerging From Winter

borrowed from fieldandswamp.com

Where has the time gone since my last post? Homeschool is back on track. We have been hunkered down during the winter months catching up on schoolwork. It seems, according to my hourly charts, that the end of November through mid-January were hit and miss as far as getting anything done. Some weeks, great! Some weeks, oh my goodness. We might as well have taken them off. And we did take off several for holidays and vacations. The last 7 weeks have been spent reevaluating where we are at in every subject, seeing what needs to be accomplished, seeing who is lacking in what.

The little one (4th grade): She FINALLY has her times tables down. Kind of. She can't spout them out immediately like she can her list of favorite cartoon shows but she knows them well enough to do all her math. For science we quit winging it because she couldn't decide on a subject to study and we opened a book I had that is quite colorful and direct. We've been studying volcanoes, earth, and fossils. I may have to give in this week and build a volcano and grow some crystals like a good homeschool mom should. Ugh.

The piano lessons she started taking in January are going so well. At least I think so. She loves her teacher (who wouldn't) and it just squeezes my little ole' heart when her dainty fingers reach out to make chords in a song. All week we've been belting out 'Down In The Valley' while she plays. I'm so proud.

The teen (11th grade): has been ACT driven. Almost all schoolwork went by the wayside while we brushed up on every subject known to man for the ACT. She took it last week. Up til the test we didn't feel confident about her knowledge at all even though we had studied non-stop. But after the test she was all smiles. We don't really care what she gets this time. It's the experience of test taking that we care about. She can take it many times during the next year.

She has been reading all over the board for World Lit. She read a lot of Grapes of Wrath, really getting the gist of the time period. I didn't require her to finish it. Maybe she will over the summer. Right now she is engrossed in Watership Down.
I love to see my kids huddled in bed, glassed perched on noses, reading big books. Last night she couldn't sleep until she had found out what happened to BigWig (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book!) After she is done I plan to rent the movie for her to watch.
This week has been all about painting. We've just felt like it. The teen takes watercolor painting instruction from a very talented friend of mine. Every week we meet and they paint and talk. Good relationship being built there as well. Always good for the teen to have good christian mentors outside of her parents. Anyway, her painting is improving drastically.

The little one has been watching videos I picked up from the library for her art; Art Lessons for Children (several volumes) by Donna Hugh. I've order Ms. Hugh's Drawing Lessons for Beginners as well. Excellent video series. I've seen her painting improve immensely!

The little one was so excited about what she is learning that when DH came home early from work today, she sat him down and taught him how to paint a chinese dragon. So cute!

DD's painting, DH's painting

We've also started doing the Illustration Friday prompt each week. See my blog here, here and here for the newest examples, or search my art blog for 'illustration friday'.

I think that's enough of an update. I'll be back soon. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We're in the homestretch. Seven more weeks until Summer break! Hallelujah. I think we all need it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sickies Homeschool

What do you do when everyone is sick? My tendency is to let all lay around and not do anything. But I always feel like we could be doing 'something' so I try to have kids read, watch science videos. SOMEthing so I can count it for school. I know, I'm a mean mom. I'm thinking if I always let them do fun things when they're 'sick' they'll want to be sick more often! ha We do sit and watch a movie together sometimes. Can you tell I'm wishy-washy on the subject? It's hard to get the almighty homeschool-hours-counter out of my head... (in our state we have to keep track of hours.)

This is where we're at today. A whole household full of sickies with the flu including DH and me. I let them sleep in while I'm up catching up on paperwork, making calls, packing some packages, scheduling repair & installation people (shower and cable.) Is a mother's work never done? I'm ready for a nap.

(Clemie the rotisserie chicken dog.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Homeschooling On Vacation

Not to say that our homeschool is uninteresting and I have nothing to post, but its been the same-ole same-ole lately. January and February is always full of catching up. Although I've tried to be very good in keeping up with school paperwork, I start scrambling to reorganize us. I don't want to be caught in May/June with my pants down so to speak. I don't know if I'm just destined to be disorganized or if its a curse. I've tried having certain notebooks/folders, certain places to put paperwork, certain rituals and habits. We don't stick with a one. I'm blaming it on the holidays. Between Thanskgiving and Christmas, we get schooling done but we're a wreck. Nothing is every organized. How to change this, I have no clue.

We went on vacation the beginning of January (with my parents, SIL & her kids) which didn't help my organizing problem one whit. But we did have a lovely time. Some schooling was definitely included. It went down like this (and for those who can't see how a vacation can count as school, watch...)

ENGLISH: Word games played out loud on several long car rides. Mad libs on the plane.

READING: Many books were read, magazines. Watched Neverending Story and found the book at the thrift store to read too!

SCIENCE: Visiting Kennedy Space Center 5 hours. Visiting the ocean; gathering shells, identifying them, finding crabs, stingray and fish on the beach. Visiting Orlando Science Center for 4 hours.

HISTORY/GEO: Visiting Epcot Countries & cultures all day (plus Epcot's greenhouse & fish farm)

ART: Making posters for the marathoners (DH & my dad ran it). Making sandcastles at the beach. Drawing at the house.

PE: Walking in Ikea's 300,000 sq ft facility for 3 hours, walking at Disneyworld and Universal, Epcot parks 3 days all day, Swimming in the pool and the ocean, Walking on the pier in St. John's Pass, Running from the seagulls trying to eat out ice cream.

I'm spending my evenings these days, catching up on paperwork so I can quit pulling my hairs out... Maybe I'll just pull the gray ones. I'll be dreaming of the beach while I'm doing it though...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Homeschool Resolutions

As we near the holidays we have the hardest time keeping on track. We're always wanting to take vacation days. This year we did manage to do school right up until the holidays (hallelujah!) Our Christmas and New Years were wonderful. We haven't returned to the homeschooling yet. We might get a few days in next week and then we're off on vacation for another 9 days. Some schooling will find its way into our vacationing since we'll be visiting Cape Canaveral/NASA, Sea World, the beach and various Floridian hotspots of culture (can Disney count for something?! lol)

Anyway, since its the new year and I'm trying to live more consciously, I thought a few Homeschooling Resolutions were in order. Care to share some of your own?

1 - Better Record keeping. Oh my goodness! I need to be on top of this! We have weekly sheets. Monthly sheets. The teen even keeps track of her own hours! What is my deal?! I need to set aside Friday mornings to catch up on the weekly charts for the week, otherwise they wait weeks and I have to remember what we did. Try remembering how much the little one read 3 weeks ago! It's impossible! I can barely remember yesterday! (I still have not picked up the Desk Organizer. I need to get them to keep me organized!)

2 - More research. On my part. The teen is doing some alternative subjects for school yet I don't really have a plan. We kind of fly by the seat of our pants. I'll say 'okay, today work on measuring the house, look up how to build walls, estimate paint; for your engineering project'. But if I have no ideas for the next day, we skip it. I need at least a month planned out ahead of time. More research, more planning on my part.

3 - More Time Together. I know. We're together 24/7 but we don't spend time reading together anymore. I liked when we were reading through a book. I'm starting that back up again. The kids can do their art while we take turns reading to each other. Wonder what book we should start with? Classic? Contemporary book? Ideas? Also need to play games, all sorts.

4 - More of a Schedule. I know, some people are lamenting the fact that they're too booked, too scheduled. That's not a problem here! We used to set a timer to get subjects done. We used to fit in exercise and chores to our school schedule. I want to do that again.

5 - More fun. This is a must. We can get bogged down in textbooks and must dos, should dos, everyone is doing it so we musts. I want more field trips, science experiments, planned art projects, history dinners, etc... Life and school should be fun.
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