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Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Nathan, making colored milk for a friend.  He gets a smirk on his face, grabs the whipped cream out of the fridge, nods at his friends and exclaims: "Dude, let's get this party started!"
Yep, when you are 9, whipped cream is a party...

How Homeschooling Works in our House

We've found our rhythm for us that works most days.  I say that because there are days where, let me tell you Joe, it ain't working.  But for the most part, this is our deal.

I wake up the kids around 7am.  Lately more like 7:30am.  Ideally they'd get dressed, brush their teeth and come downstairs singing songs of happiness.  That ain't my house....  I have to drag Abby out of bed.  That girl does not want to wake up.  And her sisters whom I want to sleep?  They won't stay down.  So the littles are up and get dressed with my help and then Abby will meander out into the bathroom while complaining that she is sooooo hungry and getting dressed should just wait.  I'm cruel that way.  Because it is the same way every morning.  Why is this a discussion?  I guess because I let it be.

Nathan's gets to sleep until 7:30am because he's fast.  I do usually have to remind him to get dressed but the threat of not getting breakfast does the trick for him.

It's cereal these days at my house.  It's fast.  It doesn't take a lot of effort. It's all I got right now.  Isabelle eats yogurt or Dave's Killer Bread in the morning.  The others are happy with cereal.
They get ready and I help here and there and try to empty the morning dishwasher and load again with breakfast dishes.  Hopefully by 8:30am everyone is fed, has fresh clothes on, has their hair done and teeth brushed.  They should have had breakfast.  Lately this is more like 9am.

And this is where we start our school day with bible time.  We just worked through "Leading Little Ones to God" by Marian Scholland.  My brilliant friend Beth (let's face it, I'd be lost without her and not homeschooling - You rock!), recommended this years ago and we finally walked all the way through it.  We just started our first bible study.  It is "My Brother's Keeper: Learning to love your siblings God's Way" by Kim Sorgius.  This year has been marked by Nathan and Abigail (and Isabelle) to figure out how to make it work.  As my very smart sister-in-law pointed out the other day, we have to "first-borns" in our house.  I always called them two alphas in a wolf-pack.  And you know what alphas do?  They fight until one of them is not there anymore to establish dominance.  My hope is that this bible study will make them understand how much God intends for them to love one another.  It has been very good so far (3 days in) but I wish we had gotten the older version.  My kids were right on the brink of the age recommendation and I didn't realize it had mostly to do with writing ability.  In the junior version they color more.  Oh well.  What they learn is still importnat.
Next I want to start Kay Arthur's inductive bible study for kids for Revelation.  Some of the reasoning is because of all that is going on in the world.
We do bible study most mornings but I have to admit, if we are starting late and are pressed for time, other than art, it's the first thing to go.  That needs to change.  It also needs to flow over into the weekend.

Next is usually Math.  We do Primary Mathematics and the program is really nice.  It works in small chunks that repeat over and over, building little by little.  It also gets kids thinking about mathematics in different angles, as in "this problem can be solved with method 1, method 2, method 3."  Surely there are technical terms for this, but they are not familiar to the author.  Usually we work through 2-4 pages, depending on how much material is covered.  We also use Khan Academy for further clarification and various other internet sites.  We use a Math Shark for drills.  Other aides are Cuisinaire Rods, Power Solids and math linking cubes.
This program was also a great recommendation by my friends Beth and Ann.  Abby is in full swing with this program.  Nathan is still struggling a bit with me as a teacher as I find my way.  The program has an excellent Home Educator Guide and I've just failed to use it to the fullest extend.  No more!  The poor boy loves math.  We want him to succeed.

Writing is the second big block in the morning.  Our program is amazing!  My kids love writing!  We use IEW's Student Writing Intensive.  That program was recommended in unisom by all of my homeschooling friends.  It just had to be good.  Both my kids are writing fantastic pieces, being given a structure to guide them and dress-ups to make it sound good.  It is fantastic for both Nathan, who doesn't like to say much and Abby, who wants to write on and on.  Both love it and are experiences general satisfaction from their work.

After writing, it's on to Daily Reading Comprehension by Evan Moor, All About Spelling, Daily Handwriting by Evan Moor for Abby, and The Nose Tree Grammar.  Love all of those and they all go fairly quickly, which is why they are lumped together.  The grammar program in particular is very smart.  It works through a story and builds daily to reinforce, with new additions every week.  As each new addition is repeated over and over, the kids become masters at identifying different parts of speech.  All About Spelling is another program that is very neat.  Again, repetition in a fun way is helping solidify spelling.  Asking kids why something is spelled a certain way is helping them to think for themselves.

After this section of the morning is over, they get to read for 30 minutes while I prepare lunches.  Abby sometimes has a hard time focusing but I let her doodle off sometimes as she reads non-stop anyway.  She'll get her 30 minutes in easy.  Nathan has made himself a nice cozy reading "cave" by going under a table covered by a table cloth.  He takes his blanket and a pillow underneath there and is happy as a clam.  On the days I remember to do so, Isabelle helps me to make lunches.  Hanny can help too.  We then break for lunch and try to get back to school by 12:30pm but no later than 1pm.

The afternoon starts with history.  Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is fantastic!  I read about it on a blog of my friend Kendra.  I'm so glad she mentioned it.  She spoke of it highly and we borrowed it from the local library and listened to different volumes for years while driving to and from our old school.  It was a natural for Social Studies.  The kids love this program.  One day a week at least we listen to Jim Weiss narrate.  One time Abigail reads and Nathan colors, the next time we listen they switch.  That way they both get to read the words that they may not know how to spell.  Lately I've been having them map places they are listening about. We also always reference our world map and go over the questions in the Test volume.  I'm not much fun with the projects in the activity guide but must do more with that in the future.

Last but not least is Science.  We are doing REAL Science Odyssey for Kids: Space and Earth.  We use Apologia's Exploring Creation through Astrology with it.  The REAL curriculum is really nice because they are short units with hands-on, simple projects.  It makes it more fun and not stressful for me.  The Apologia is the nice more in-depth addition.  Both are really nice.  Since the kids have already done a lot in school about space, we are moving on to the chemistry unit on both soon.

This is our backbone every day.  Then we have additional subjects as we can fit it in: Art on Monday, Coding for Nathan on Tuesday, Typing on Wednesday.  We usually take Fridays off unless we have to catch up on something.  When it is in session, we go to Friday school (for the kids to socialize and to have fun subjects, like PE, cooking, games).  We have also just received Rosetta Stone German from my mom.  Abby is doing her lessons randomly and is already on unit 3 while Nathan hasn't started yet.

Abby also takes ballet and is learning the piano.  Nathan wrestles and plays baseball, so that takes care of the PE requirements.

I'd love to get more music and art appreciation in, but at this stage, it is all we can do.  

Friday, January 29, 2016


Isabelle seeing a present on the counter top: "Who is that present for?"
Me: "That is for Cat.  She is having a baby."
Isabelle thinking.  Then: "Is the girl named Cat a cat or a human?"

Monday, January 25, 2016

Just Some Day To Day

Couldn't find Hannah for a while and found her in the most unusual spot:  Hiding behind her high chair.  This time she didn't answer me at all when I called her, so I knew that she was doing something she knew she shouldn't.  She had stolen Nathan's little Gameboy and had turned it on.  I told Nathan and he looked at it and said she was actually playing and moving the little guy in the game around.  That worm!

Yep, you're caught!

Hannah has also been enjoying playing with the Tag.  Maybe that will help trigger talking.  She still doesn't say a word, not even "Mama" or "Dada".

Nathan and Abby during "Story of the World, Volume 1".  We listen to it twice.  Each time one of the kids is reading and the other one coloring or mapping.  Then they switch.  Mapping just occured to me the other day.  We look at the map every single time and it seems they don't remember.  When grandma got us tracing paper for Christmas, it all became clear.  And they seem to enjoy it.  Even Abby who is usually a free spirit when it comes to her art work, loves this and made the most beautiful map of the Mediterranean.  We love history!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Oh That Hanny!

Scented markers.  Not the great idea you thought they were.  Why?  That's why:

"Look mom, this is where I shoved the markers in order to get a really good smell...."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christmas Eve 2015 Pictures and a little IEW (Student Writing Intensive)

These pictures loaded out of order and I'm too lazy to re-arrange them.  :-)
I've previously posted on our day here.  So these are just the pictures to go along with that post.
For the homeschoolers among you, just for fun: I can't just write anymore.  IEW rules are in my head now!  Arg...  Just for fun,  I've underlined some of my dress-ups for you in the dog paragraph.  :-)

Abby, hanging up her new creations thanks to a Klutz window cling art kit from Oma.  She really made some nice decorations and got very creative.  Our little teacher girl even helped an excited Olive and Rosie make some art while they were here on Christmas Day.

Hanny playing in Oma's kitchen for Isabelle.  The two little girls love to play in here.  Isabelle even decorated it with her owls.  

Hanny's sandbox from Oma.  Since it is not yet able to be played with outside, we have it inside for now and Hanny loves to just sit in it, put stuff in it, play with the figurines or slide down the bridge.  It also makes for easy clean-up for Isabelle if she happened to make a big mess in the play room.  Just throw all the toys in, close the lid, mom will never know!

Stocking stuffer balloons with elastic on them.  I love how Isabelle can't blow hers up but she keeps faithfully trying.  :-)
Both girls enjoyed dressing up this season.  They'd be in dresses every day. 
Tangent: I found these gorgeous curtains at an antique store in a town down the road.  They were not antique but beautiful orange with glitter in them, perfect for the holidays when you have a rust-colored couch.  They looked fantastic, especially with lights around the windows.  Alas, you could see right through them from the outside! Bummer!  Have to figure out how to line them now.  So here are the bum brown ones again.  As I get older, I realize how much I love bolder colors.  Not necessarily in popular color schemes, but my own likes and dislikes.  The love for orange surprised me, as I usually don't care much for it, or at least thought I didn't.  Funny thing is that it is my mom's favorite color and I just found out about it after we got her flowers for Mother's Day from my brother.  The kids do really like the living room, and therefore it makes sense that they too enjoy the colors in it.  It does remind one of a beautiful sunny day. It is calming and uplifting, especially when the window to the outside only reveals a gray and dull day.  I'm so very happy my mom got that couch for us AND decided it was time to repaint our living room.  Thanks mom!

The sport-loving (quality-adjective) dog got himself a pink jump rope.  Don't you just love how he sprawls (strong verb) out frog-legged?  
Nathan has been bonding so much more with Copper lately.  And Hanny adores the dog.  :-)  Although (when, where, while, as, if, .....)  Because (because clause) Copper still isn't sure that he isn't in trouble when Hanny's launches one of her love attacks.  She gets quite the look on her face and squeals (strong verb) and throws her lovely (-ly) self on him.  It makes him wag his tail and escape at the same time.  By escaping he then drags Hanny, who is still leaning on him, along in the other room.  Quite amusing. (VSS)

Isabelle with her precious crown from the Matson's.  She loves it.  And of course she has tons of candy in her hands and a doll she got from Dick & Jennifer.  Hanny got the matching girl doll.  Since they are squishy, the girls enjoy cuddling with them.  
Both girls seem to enjoy the pantry room as a play room.  It is a bit crowded in there for my taste but they don't seem to mind.  So much so that the older kids cram in there as well and build blanket forts.

Christmas Eve dinner.  Isabelle looks tiny in this picture.  
Because Christmas Day itself is a big cooking day, we keep it simple on Christmas Eve.  Even though I would love to make a big meal on Christmas Eve, one by my own choosing.  Christmas Day is usually a traditional meal that the whole family has come to love.  I look forward to the day when Abby is big enough to help and we whip up things together with Isabelle and Hanny in the kitchen.  Nathan is all about the breakfast on Christmas Day.  He loves pancakes, bacon, sausage.  For a boy who probably only likes 5 foods, having 3 of those in one meal is a winner!

Someone is excited about dinner.  They all wanted to use their favorite cups instead of my pretty glasses.  Whatever....  :-)  The table mats are a previous gift from my mom and the tree napkins were made and gifted by my very good friend Tanya.
The kids like to decorate our tables nicely.  I invest in one of those table cloths ever few years.  They are a bit spendy but a lifesaver.  Any stain washes right out of them (they are stain proof) and they come out of the dryer almost wrinkle-free.

Joining us for dinner: The Elf!  He was a bit lax this year, but we all were busy.  Nathan wasn't too happy about this but hey, what are you going to do?  
The little runner if from my childhood and many an advent candle decoration graced it while I was growing up.  I remember red wax being stuck to it many a year.  It is one of my favorites.
The tree jar was a very special gift this year from my dear mentor Earline.  She made two of them for us, which was perfect: One for the big table, one for the kids' table.

The tree napkins from Tanya.  I admire her sewing talents.  She had seen this at a bazaar and just went home and made some of her own!  
My mom purchased the place mat set when it was just four of us.  They have two different motives of an old-fashioned Santa in nature.  My mom bought them at my favorite Christmas bazaar.  She loved our American Christmas bazaars so much and I hope one year she can come again for the season and maybe spend Christmas too.

Another fantastic sewing project: Isabelle's crown.  While also gifted by Tanya and her family, it was made by Abby and Nathan's former art teacher.  Her sewing skills are amazing!  My hope is to send the girls to sewing classes as they get older.  It is a skill I wish I had learned prior to having children.

Cutie patootie sliding down the sandbox bridge.  Who knew?  A slide included!

More window clings.  Are you admiring my squeeky clean windows?  Yes, I'm being sarcastic.  Gave up on cleaning those.  Literally takes a big chunk of time and the dog will jump up on them with muddy feet a minute later, followed by sticky hand children.  To the top right is Abby's "Merry Christmas", to her left a frog with a crown and a puppy.  There is an airplane in the very top left and a hot hair balloon to the right of the airplane.  Also some of our snowflakes from the scarce projects the Elf required this year.
While this year was very basic and simple (my first year homeschooling and a busy little explorer), it was still very lovely.  I think the kids might have liked to have a few more activities (especially Nathan) but we did alright.  I'm very proud of the few days David was off and we all sat together and played board games.  Catan was our favorite, closely followed by Trivial Pursuit Junior.  Abby also loves her story cubes and Isabelle her Spot! Junior Animals.  We also liked playing Qwirkle.  Haven't even played History Timeline, Set, Iota and Quiddler yet!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oh That Hanny!

Ever since Abby discovered the "Oh That Hanny!" series the other day, everyone in the house keeps yelling: "Mama, take a picture!  Make a 'Oh That Hanny'."  
Anyhoo, this one made it:
What do you do when school starts again and it's a bit stagnant?  Climb on the table, pull down your pants and wait for reactions!  Fun!!!!

Just look at that smirk on her face while everyone else is busting up laughing!  She's calm as a cat, seemingly unaffected looking at her marker.