Weekly Wrap-up: Invasion of the Germs and Sorrowful Sunflowers

Oldest fell asleep working on Language Arts

Oldest fell asleep working on Language Arts

My crew was sorely lacking in health this week…they succumbed to various germs. Schooling was fit in to whenever we had time and this weekend will find us working in the school room getting caught up on the subjects in which we fell behind. We are two weeks from finishing our first term (of five) for the year and I plan to finish on schedule. At the moment we are a day ahead of schedule and I plan to keep it that way. My mother plans to visit in October and I hope to be a few days ahead of schedule when she visits so we can afford the loss of days during her stay. Hopefully I will handle her visit better this time…most likely won’t but I can always hope.

Littlest fell asleep in my lap after a bath

Littlest fell asleep in my lap after a bath

Thanks to the fabulous Mrs. Melody my beloved and I enjoyed a wonderful Saturday afternoon out. She kept the kiddos for us and we went to the Cruise-in on our own. I actually got to ride in the Old Mustang with my man (a rare treat) and hang out with him and not have to worry about the mischief the kids were causing. We enjoyed a nice dinner together at Carr’s and then wandered around the Cruise-in looking at old smelly cars. Perfect afternoon!

my husband's fabulous Sunday lunch this week

my husband’s fabulous Sunday lunch this week

On Sunday I watched over my new two-year old class at church and wished we had stayed home. They all had the “back-to-school” germ infestation and had gross…well…you know. Usually I have the sense not to go to church or any place public during “back to school week” but I forgot this year. My crew ended up sick this week…I was so frustrated but we just endured. Middle Boy had the stomach flu on Monday. Oldest was pale and miserable on Wednesday. Sparkles felt awful on Thursday. Crappy week! Hopefully I do not forget about the back to school germ fest next year! Yuck! But I am proud of my crew. Even in their sickness they still

deer eating the neighbor's corn this week

deer eating the neighbor’s corn this week

wanted to do their school work. We watched several educational shows on Netflix this week about ancient Egypt since that is what Oldest is studying at the moment. We’ve all decided that Zahi Hawass has the best job ever! I’ve enjoyed reading the books aloud for Oldest’s studies this year. I am glad that I did not just assign them to him to read on his own. I’ve learned so much the past few weeks about ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs of old. The books we’ve read through Beautiful Feet Books have really brought the history alive for me (and Oldest too). Sometimes I think homeschooling is as much about my re-education as my children’s education.

Littleest napping

Littlest napping

Littlest is a peculiar little man. Several times this week he has commented on the sadness of the sunflowers. The sunflowers are heavy with seed and can no longer shine their faces toward the sun. They are bent over like old-women…forever looking at the soil. Littlest thinks they are sad because they cannot find their seeds. They are looking downward searching for their lost seeds…always sad…no longer capable of gazing toward the sun. I’ve tried to explain to him that they cannot look at the sun anymore because they are heavy with seed but he just doesn’t understand. The sunflowers with their large hanging heads look sad to him.  He is right, they do look so sad. I meant to take a picture of them for you but I forgot…maybe next week.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


Weekly Wrap-up: Just Another Week

Littlest sleeping during schooltime

Littlest sleeping during schooltime

Seems like I just sat down to write last week’s post. Where does the time go? Sometimes it seems as thought the weeks are all the same and all is still. Then suddenly changes come and everything is different. My babies are growing and changing and I am struggling to keep up. Why is change so sudden and startling? Why isn’t it so gradual? Oldest’s pants are too short as of yesterday. Sparkles wants to know how babies get in a mother’s tummy. Middle Boy lost another tooth tonight. Littlest has figured out the hour hand on a clock…all by himself. If only I could bottle up time…

Seems melancholia would be my friend tonight…or fiend. I just mistyped friend as fiend. Same difference sometimes.

playing in the rain

playing in the rain

Our drought infested land got a bit of rain last weekend. We let the kids play in the brief showers. The little bit of rain we received wasn’t enough and everything is still dying. Our neighbors cornfield in completely brown…the corn only half developed. My tomatoes are barely producing. I’m having to freeze them in batches hoping to get enough by fall to make some spaghetti sauce. Not the best of time for crops around these parts.

My husband went through the first science lab with the crew over the weekend. They spent a couple of hours exploring the center of gravity. We learned that women have a lower center of gravity than men. He helped the crew to build a

center of gravity experiements

center of gravity experiements

scale they will use throughout this school year. I am glad he agreed to do the science labs with the kids this year. This weekend they will finish up the rest of the Archimedean labs. Next week we will move onto Medieval science. Every Friday we have been watching “The Story of Science” from the BBC (thank you Claire at angelicscalliwags for the recommendation) to accompany our history of science study. We all look forward to watching this series and we will all be disappointed when it is over. I need to find another science based series for us to watch together.

Oldest is currently studying ancient history. I have been reading a few books on ancient Egypt to him the past couple of weeks (I love read aloud time!). I can’t be sure but I think I enjoy the

Middle Boy and balance experiements

Middle Boy and balance experiements

readings even more than him. Sometimes the younger two stay to listen to the readings as well. Ancient Egypt has really captured our imagination. I’ve spent some time this week reading Genesis because I found glimpses of truth in this ancient mythology. Someone on the Charlotte Mason Facebook page recently complained about the dryness of “Tales of Ancient Egypt” by Roger Lancelyn Green. We have really enjoyed the book so much that I could not understand this mother’s complaint. I started to reply to this lady but couldn’t think of what to say to her…to me the book is so rich and led me to Scripture. Ancient history is so fascinating.

The past couple of weeks I have been suffering through a “homeschool panic attack” as my friend at Almost Homeschoolers calls my momentary crisis. I have gone through this every year but this year is particularly painful. The kids have all assured me they are very happy with their current curriculum. They are happy and learning. They all did very well on their standardized testing this year and scored well above average. All is well but I feel so insecure. I guess I really feel the weight of responsibility for their education. Right now, my children’s future is in my hands and I keenly feel the enormous weight at the moment. I am pouring my own life into them…giving everything. Some people would call this giving a sacrifice of self…I call it joy.

Linking up with Weird Unsocailized Homeschoolers

Wibbly-Wobbly Weightloss: Another Blah Week

Middle boy loved the fish tacos

Middle boy loved the fish tacos

Sadly, I didn’t lose any weight this week but on the bright side I didn’t gain either. My emotions ran crazy this week. For the past three years I go through a crisis of self-doubt over the kids curriculum and wonder if I am doing more harm than good. Last year I thought we should switch to Trail Guides and this year it was Sonlight. Littlest added to my stress for the week by being very clingy. A clingy toddler equals very little exercise…and sometimes little sleep. I’m coming out of the doldrums now and next week (three hours from now!) I’ll get back to awesome (my kind of awesome anyway…)! A new hairdo and color helped to brighten my mood today too. I went from red to blonde.

Anyway, I made a new and healthier meal for my family this week. I did fry the fish so I am not sure it completely qualifies as healthy. Maybe the fish could have been baked…I’m not really sure. Fish that isn’t premade from the freezer section is a whole new experience for me. The fish tacos (still sounds gross to me) were a hit with my crew. Littlest wouldn’t eat a taco but he did enjoy the fish.

Recipe from Keepers for Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

1/2 cup sour cream, grated zest of 1/2 lime, and juice

1 1/2 pounds skinless thick white, flaky fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, or mahimahi, cut into pieces about 4 inches long and patted dry (I used enough halibut for 10 servings), salt and pepper, 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra, if needed, 10 small flour tortillas

In a little serving bowl, stir together the sour cream and juice from one lime. The book said to also add 1/2 the lime zest and a tablespoon of water (I’ve never liked zest from any citrus so I omitted it). Set the sour cream sauce aside. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the cumin and chili powder and rub all over. I’m not sure that rubbing the seasoning in with my fingers made a difference…really messy. I also didn’t have any cumin and just used taco seasoning.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-highish heat. Add the fish and cook until golden brown for 3 minutes on each side. I cooked it about five minutes on each side…possibly more. I wanted to make sure the fish was really done.

Serve the fish with soft tortillas and favorite taco toppings: lime sour cream, shredded cheddar, shredded lettuce (the book suggested cabbage), onions, tomato salsa, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, whatever you like!

The book also suggested this amazing salsa!

Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa

PINEAPPLE SALSA (I bought a real-not from a can-pineapple y’all!)

1 cup finely diced pineapple, 1/2 jalapeno finely chopped. I used a whole jalapeno and I think two peppers would have been better, 1/2 small finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used apple-cider vinegar), salt and pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the pineapple, jalapenos, onions, and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

I loved the pineapple salsa on the tacos but the rest of my family refused to try it. Their loss…not sure I would have been willing to share it anyway.

Wednesday night will be out new healthier recipe supper from now on. I have a couple more fish recipes to try out from the book. Hopefully this week’s fish recipe will be as big a hit too. I’m still trying to decide between tilapia or salmon…

I also found this neat blog called Organize Yourself Skinny. I’m hoping to learn a few tips and recipes from the writer. She lost and has successfully kept off 40 pounds!

Claire’s new post is up and I encourage you to go read. I always feel uplifted after reading her posts…especially after a not-so-fulfilling week. I feel better about this coming week. I’ve got ingredients for green smoothies, homemade yogurt, granola, and salads for lunch. It is gonna be a good week.

I learned so much from Phyllis at On The Mend. I’m going to start including some of her suggestions this week.


Weekly Wrap-up: B-17 Bomber, Drought and A Troubled Mother

playing outside

playing outside

Last Friday, while at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s, a B-17 Bomber flew overhead. Not one of my anticipated experiences for the day. The Bomber was low enough to see the markings. The sight and sound of such machines really un-nerve me…make the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention and…ugh (so do clowns and butterflies for that matter). The kids thought it was an exciting thing to see. I suppose it was for them. And I haven’t a clue why I detest airplanes so much. The bomber that flew above us is only one of twelve remaining in the world and was on show in Paducah.

drought...our Butterfly Bush should be covered in blooms

drought…our Butterfly Bush should be covered in blooms

Saturday was a cleaning day at home. I love Saturday’s at home. Sunday I met my new Sunday School students for the year and my new co-worker. I love her and hope she stays with us. Since starting to volunteer with the two-year olds a year ago my class has been through six volunteers. Two-year olds are tough on their teachers. I was determined to quit a month ago when I had to work with twelve of the little darlings by myself and one of them vomited on me and another pissed all over me. This past Sunday was Promotion Sunday and several of them just cried the entire ninety minutes. Honestly, it would be so much easier on the kids if the teachers moved rooms instead of the children. This month will be kinda rough but they will all be adjusted by September.

friends make for a full table

friends make for a full table

Sunday evening we enjoyed the company of friends for a cook-out at our home. I like having friends over. We haven’t hosted friends in our home in a long time and it was nice. Our friends are also fellow homeschoolers and that was even better. I felt like I could be myself. We could “talk shop” and really share our experiences. I always feel like I have to be on my best behavior around non-homeschoolers and can’t really talk about the issues that are important to me. Most of the time I have to listen to non-homeschoolers explain to me all the reasons why they could never homeschool their own children or have a large family (I only have four children…that is not a large



family!!!) If I am around family I have to rack my brains to find something to talk about other than my children or curriculum. Since my entire existence currently revolves around my children and their education I have very little else to discuss. So, when I do get to visit with another homeschooling family it is like rejoicing with someone from my own tribe. Sunday evening was wonderful!

Sparkles and Middle Boy with their sunflowers

Sparkles and Middle Boy with their sunflowers

The rest of the week was mostly uneventful. Maybe that is an exaggeration…My crew are getting older and a bit more independent. I wasn’t ready for them to tell me they didn’t need me for certain subjects in school this week. Even Middle Boy wanted to see if he could work on certain subjects by himself this week…and he was very successful. I told him how proud I was even though my heart just shattered into a million unfixable pieces. Motherhood is so very difficult sometimes…

This week I have endured my annual self-doubts over curriculum choices. Now that I know they love the literature based method of education…should I change and use Sonlight or go totally Charlotte Mason? Am I not teaching them something important that they need to know? Should I make them learn Latin? I make myself crazy sometimes…

waterpark fun

water park fun

Today, we went to the local water park with Mama Quilts and two of her children. The kids had fun playing in the water. Well, except for Littlest…he was fussy and only decide to play the last half hour or so. He is a hand-full these days…Today was the first day of public school so we had the park mostly to ourselves. One mother showed up with her two little girls. They played in the water for only a few minutes before they were ready to leave. The mother was very irritated with them and decided to leave the august 093 (640x480)park. She scolded them and doubted their ability to survive their first day of Kindergarten the next day. As the mother left she looked at me and said, “I can’t wait to get rid of them tomorrow.” My heart broke for those little girls because they could hear their mother say those words. I was too stunned to reply to the mother. My shock at her words must have been all over my face because she left quickly. I could not imagine feeling that way about my children. I cried every time I sent my children to pre-school or public school. I remember the first day my oldest went to Kindergarten. I unashamedly cried when he left with his teacher. I remember the principal of the school bringing me a DSC05072 (640x480)tissue and telling me how happy I would be when my last child would leave for Kindergarten. From that moment my heart turned cold toward that woman and I do despise her still…not very Christian of me I know but the honest truth.

Tonight, the garbage disposal in our sink shorted out. Lots of smoke and sparks. I am glad my husband was home when it happened. I was in total panic mode and the house would have likely burned down if he hadn’t been here to take care of the disaster. Providence.

Today it rained…also Providence. Our area is officially in drought conditions. Our first rain in weeks and it was mere sprinkles. I just sat on the porch and watched it dribble down for a while. Felt like a blessing.

We are taking the day off tomorrow…no school..

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss…I’m Late

I’m really late posting. We had a very busy but nice weekend. Saturday was cleaning and the monthly grocery day. I had intended to post early Saturday morning but the internet was down during my planned time. I could have posted that night but chose to hang out with my husband and watch some movies. I spent quite a bit of time hiding my eyes through the first movie which was Kick Ass 2. I don’t recommend it. Sometimes I just like to watch movies with my husband to see what he thinks is entertaining. I should have passed on that one. Our second movie was the old sad classic Red Dawn. Sunday had arrived by the time we went to bed and I suffered with restless dreams.

Sunday morning arrived way too early. It was also Promotion Sunday at our church which is never a fun day for the nursery workers. Some days I think it would be easier for us teachers to move rooms instead of the little ones. Sunday evening we had friends over for a cookout. Good food and good company makes for a wonderful end to a pretty good weekend.

I was shocked when I stepped on the scale tis morning to see I had managed to maintain my weight for the week. I really expected to gain. I’m counting that as my victory for he week!

Later today I’ll make up several bowls of salad and veggies for the week. I also picked out several fish and other healthier recipes for us to try out this month. Our first is dish to try fish tacos. The recipe called for “fresh flakey white fish”. I know so little about fish that I had to google the phrase to know what it meant. Cod, halibut, or the fun to say mahi-mahi…just in case you didn’t know either. I’m going to start with only one or two healthy recipe to try each week and maybe by the end of the year we’ll have several good recipes that everyone likes. I also made fresh salsa to have as a snack this week. I slightly modified the recipe from the book Keepers which is also where I got several of the fish recipes we will try out.

For exercise this week I plan to walk outside more instead of just getting on the stationary bike. But I will have to work out the timing so that someone is keeping an eye on Littlest. I’m also shift the kids to healthier snacks this week and begin eliminating some of the really unhealthy snack foods. They are so excited…

While I was at the big-box store I drooled over this cool fitness gadget…but it is sooo expensive!

I encourage you to check out these posts:

Claire at angelicscalliwags

Ellie at New Creations Ministries

Phyllis at On The Mend




Weekly Wrap-up: New Piano and Structured Chaos


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Oldest and Littlest at the piano

We finally managed to have a relatively quiet week at home and get caught up on some of our lessons. Science is the one course we end up lagging behind. We’ve been studying Archimedes and the ancient Greeks for two weeks now. We spent over an hour on just our science lab (water displacement and weight distribution) this week alone. This is the first year I’ve required them to keep an experiment journal and so it took a while to walk them through the process of scientific documentation. Even though it is proving to be time-consuming I think it will be beneficial to helping them understand their studies in the long run.

tuning the piano

tuning the piano

Our school day has been taking forever since we started back up full time…we haven’t finished up until four o’clock sometimes. I noticed we spent our time waiting for someone to catch-up or griping over less desirable subjects. This week I changed things up and we’ve been finishing up several hours earlier. This week I had everyone do the one subject they dislike the most first. For Oldest it is writing and for Middle Boy it is penmanship. I moved a few of the together subjects over to independent subjects and everyone was much more productive. Sparkles finished up so quickly that when she asked to start the typing program I told her “yes”. I spend so much time telling my crew “no”. For once, it felt nice to say “you bet” and show her how to use the program. Now, that everyone is working more independently I have more time for one-on-one guidance. We are all much happier. I do have to keep a checklist for each child to make sure everything gets done since our day isn’t quite so orderly but the chaotic…well…works for my little scholars. Structured chaos may be great for my crew but I  had a hard time letting go of my lovely hourly planner.

the exploding watermelon

the exploding watermelon

The big event this week was the arrival of the new to us piano gifted from one of my brother-in-law’s (Thank-you!!). My husband and Oldest traveled about two hours to pick it up. Once they arrived home we had to call in several friends to help us get the heavy beast into the house. (Thank you friends!!) The crew loves their new piano! A local tuner stopped by earlier today and tuned it for us. The kids were fascinated and watched him work. Middle Boy finally got to see the inside of a piano!! I was simply grateful the instrument passed inspection. Some friends of our recently acquired a piano that wasn’t worth repairing and I was nervous the same would happen to us…but it didn’t.

Oldest and Sparkles learning about the center of gravity

Oldest and Sparkles learning about the center of gravity

This week we went to the local library to see Jason Lindsey of Hooked on Science. I didn’t see much of his show since Littlest was not impressed but the rest of the crew had a wonderful time. They got to watch a watermelon explode, witness a human electrical circuit, and learn to balance nineteen nails on a single nail. I’ve never taken the kids to any library programs in the past because I’ve always had a baby or toddler to haul around. And taking Littlest was about as unpleasant as I expected but the rest of the crew enjoyed themselves. I really should have been taking them to these sort of events anyway…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers





Weekly Wrap-up: Friendship and Sorrow

having fun in Daddy's car

having fun in Daddy’s car

Some weeks are tough and some are wonderful. This week was a mix of both. I enjoyed a few new experience with friends and witnessed my oldest son’s heart-break.

Friday night was an enjoyable night out with friends…mostly. The four of us– Mrs. Cuddle-me, Mama Quilts and Survivor Mom (formerly know as Makrothumia)–went out for dinner which was quite nice. Any meal made by someone else is always delightful! The rest of the evening was spent out at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s place by a bon-fire. She needed to burn a

Survivor Mom and her fire

Survivor Mom and her fire

stump and the rest of them thought making s’mores and sitting around a fire to be great fun. Survivor Mom taught the rest of us how to start a fire by collecting tree bark, and creating sparks with a knife. She even collected tree bark at the restaurant! She explained all about starting a fire and making sure it was “sustainable”. Now, you know why she earned the name change to Survivor Mom. She also told us all about her week at some survivor camp in Ohio where she had to wade through a swamp barefoot and start a fire with material she could scrounge up. Wow! We spent the rest of the evening talking and my friends taught me how to make my very first campfire style s’mores. I may have set a marshmallow or two on fire before I got the hang of it…

july 048 (640x480)On Saturday afternoon we went to the Mayfield cruise in.  This week there were several new cars to look at and a few tractors. One fellow even brought a bunch of riding lawn-mowers. That seemed kinda strange to me…Mrs. Cuddle-me and her fella’s came by to view the cars and then hung out with us for a while.

Late Saturday night and most of Sunday I was ill. Yuck!! I endured the dry-heaves that night and finally managed to keep some water down by Sunday morning. By that afternoon I felt well enough to go to a family baby shower (not really…my head really hurt). I would have preferred to stay home but sometimes you just have to drive on. Sparkles went with me (she loves bridal and baby showers) and she had a wonderful time. She loves social girly events…she is nothing like her mother. I did meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages and enjoyed spending my time catching up with her.

big spider web

big spider web

Monday morning the kids were still sleeping at eight which is really unusual. Oldest ended up not feeling well so I called school off and gave everyone a rest day. I spent part of the day cleaning since the house was a bit messy. The rest of the day I played around with Homeschool Planet for a review I have coming up in a month or two. I’m glad to work with the old team again at Home and School Mosaic’s. I’ve missed everyone very much. I still read many of their blogs but it isn’t the same as when we were all working on projects together. I’m only a member of the back-up crew these days but it is great fun to be involved on a project again. While watering the garden we found a huge spider web and a tiny spider. The web was nearly six feet across and eight feet high! The spider was small…maybe only a half and inch big. We watched the spider take down its web…something I hadn’t seen before. Middle boy wrote about it in his “interesting facts” notebook.

third annual back to homeschool breakfast at Hutchen's

third annual back to homeschool breakfast at Hutchen’s

On Tuesday we went out for our annual back to school breakfast at Hutchen’s. This year my husband went with us. We put in a half day of school and then went to a friend’s house for fun and pool time. Sparkles got to play with friends she had not seen in a year or so. That evening we went to piano practice and were privileged to meet Mrs. Melody’s new grandbaby! Oh how I have missed cuddling newborns!!! Wednesday was the heart-crushing day for Oldest. His guitar teacher is moving away (all the way to California!) and it was his very last lesson with Bo. He was teary eyed when we said our “goodbyes” and then cried his

Oldest and his beloved guitar teach Bo

Oldest and his beloved guitar teach Bo

heart out once we loaded up in the van. Afterward we stopped by the Post Office to mail our official letter of notification to the school system and then went to Wendy’s for frosties. Thursday was another half day of school and then on to Mrs. Cuddle-me’s for swimming. That night we went to the drive-in to see a movie (How to Tame Your Dragon 2). We were all so tired we decided not to stay for the second movie. My husband took a vacation day on Friday to paint the boy’s room and we stayed in the school room out of his way trying to catch up on all the missed assignments for the week. We did the same today while he finished up the painting and are almost caught up on all the missed assignments. I took a picture of their room since it will never be that clean again…

I am looking forward to a nice quite week…

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers



Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss: Recovery Week

I haven’t much to share this week and can hardly believe another week has passed. We’ve been so busy I haven’t even got my usual weekly wrap-up written. We also put in a half day od school today and I still plan for us to do a bit more tonight or even tomorrow. Last week I was sick and barely well enough to go to a baby shower for my husband’s nephew. After the stomach ache and dry heaves settled my head just hurt something awful. Littlest and Oldest were also ill this week but they recovered far more quickly.

I lost five pounds the previous week but I knew some or possibly all of the weight loss was due to my illness. I really dreaded getting on the scale today because I was sure all five pounds would be back. I was wrong and only regained two pounds. I weighed myself three times just to be sure. Pure determination is what kept the rest of the weight from returning. No matter how bad I felt (except my sickest day) or how little energy I had I exercised anyway. Even on the days with headaches I put in 40 minutes of sweat and after feeling better I’ve upped my time to fifty minutes. I’ve made exercising a priority which isn’t something I’ve done in the past.

Another healthy habit I am trying to add is a healthy lunch. I premade several salads on Monday so it would be easy for me to eat healthier. I loved just getting my ready made lunch out of the refrigerator. I am certain that having the salad all ready to eat kept me away from less culinary ideal options. I am not a huge fan of salads and maybe I’ll switch some of these out with smoothies this coming week. Or maybe I’ll have just a little bacon with the salads…Eating healthy is one thing but actually liking the food is something else. Of course only one week isn’t enough time to change my taste buds. I took nearly six months for me to prefer to drink and enjoy water. Hopefully it will not take as long to cultivate a taste for spinach, lettuce, and such foods.




Journey’s End with Primary Early American History

my crew with their favorite books

my crew with their favorite books

We finished our last book with Beautiful Feet Books’ Primary Early American History. For the last part of the course we studied George Washington, the American Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, Abraham Lincoln and Buffalo Bill. The study ends with the opening of West after the Civil War. I wanted to cover more of the American Revolution so I added several books by Jean Fritz: Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?, Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?, Why Don’t You Get a Horse Sam Adams? And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, and Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?. I also added The Story of the Constitution by Marilyn Prolman  and If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days by Barbara Brenner. My crew also finished watching the American History episodes of Drive Thru History.

our last few pages

our last few pages

The guide did suggest an essay on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but because of our schedule I had my crew write only one essay on their favorite person at the end of the study. While learning about George Washington we enjoyed this website about Mount Vernon. We especially enjoyed the videos and picture tour of the house.

I found a few craft projects for my crew to work on and some historical based recipes to try. I didn’t plan as many activities as usual since the final part of this study fell during our busy summer season of

Oldest's work

Oldest’s work

swimming lessons, Lego Camps and Vacation Bible School. We made tea Colonial style…or tried anyway. We used a knife to scrape tea from a brick but quickly abandoned the knife to use a microplane…so much easier! You can read about our tea party here. The crew also crafted lavender sachets and learned a few basic hand sewing techniques from Mama Quilts. While studying the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s birthday the crew decorated bamboo flutes with leather and beads and tried to play a few simple songs. We made gingerbread cookies while reading about Abraham Lincoln. I was just going to make regular gingerbread (so much easier than cookies) until I read this post from The American Table and learned the significance of the cookies to Abraham Lincoln. We were going to finish up the study with a pot of buffalo chili and Navaho fry bread but our busy summer schedule just got in the way. The next time we study the history of the

Middle Boy decided George Washington was studying about clocks

Middle Boy decided George Washington was studying about clocks

American West I’ll make this chili for the kids.

Here is the buffalo chili recipe I learned to make in Oklahoma. I learned it from one of my professors while participating in the National Geographic Christmas bird count at the wildlife refuge. Christmas was not a big deal to my family growing up and this is how I spent three of my Christmas Day’s in my early university years. I guess proper cowboy chili should have beans in it but I truly detest beans in chili…

1 pound bison
2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or more if you really like it)
2 tablespoons paprika (I like the smoked Hungarian)
1 cup tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons of powdered chili

Mix marinade.
Trim any fat (save for roux) from bison and cut it up into 1 inch or so pieces and soak in marinade over night.
Cook meat and marinade pot over low heat for a couple of hours. Give it a stir every now and then.
Cook the fat until it is a liquid in frying pan over low heat to use in a roux. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons of fat. If you do not have enough just use some bacon grease.
After meat has stewed sufficiently (it should be starting to shred), remove 1 cup of liquid from pot. Add liquid to the roux and blend with a whisk. The liquid should start to thicken. Pour it back into the pot with the meat and stir up. Serve with fry bread. Pioneer Woman can tell you how to make fry bread way better than me so check out her link above for the recipe.

geography lessons

geography lessons

Final Thoughts:

Before using this guide from Beautiful Feet Books I knew nothing of literature based studies or Charlotte Mason. From day one my crew loved this study and they always asked for it first and to do just one more lesson. Because of their enthusiasm for the subject we finished it ahead of the expected schedule of two years. By the time we finished the first few lessons my oldest asked if we could use Beautiful Feet Books curriculum “for everything forever”. My entire crew love the book selections and even my very reluctant reader loved several of the books and read a few of them on his own time.

My crew had a lot of fun writing, drawing and coloring in their history notebook. I constantly encouraged them to work neatly but it wasn’t always the case. During the last few books they started to look back at their previous work and noticed the changes in their handwriting. They started talking about their work and judging it (a bit harshly) and reminiscing what they remembered the day they colored Leif Ericson or drew Grimalkin.

working on ancient history

working on ancient history

I nearly wept listening to them talk about their favorite books and their memories. I did not expect to witness such a spontaneous and mature discussion from my crew. Since that day they have all taken ownership of their new notebooks and made a conscious effort to work neatly (most of the time). They were very sad to reach the end of the guide and copy their final reports into the their notebooks. In all honesty I was sad too…I’ve enjoyed these book as much as my kids.

We may have reached the end of our journey with Primary Early American History but we are by no means finished with our adventure with Beautiful Feet Books. Over the summer we started their geography guide. We are at the half-way point in this course and I would recommend it as a great follow-up to the American history study. The guide has a list of several extra books and I hunted down as many of these as I could find and we are reading and mapping our way through the study. We also just started their science guide for our new academic year. For the first time since starting homeschooling we actually enjoy science time. Well, all of the experiments we’ve done in the past have been great fun but the reading has been really dry. I’m not sure we can ever go back to the elementary Apologia books again…

We’ll be using Beautiful Feet Books curriculum for the rest of our homeschooling years…that’s the highest praise I can give.

The company also keeps a very interesting and thought provoking blog and I encourage you to check it out here. Just so you know I am in no way affiliated with Beautiful Feet Books not did I receive any compensation for this review series. I originally decided to blog my way through this study simply because I could not find much information about it. When I first consider a curriculum I always search homeschool blogs for information. I want to know how other families used a curriculum and all the pros and cons. I’m not the only one who researches this way so I decided to blog my homeschools journey through the guide hoping our experience would bless someone else.







Weekly Wrap-up: Curriculum Edition

fun with friends

fun with friends

For a July in Kentucky we’ve enjoyed some near perfect weather…though we could do with a bit of rain. Despite it being our second week of school we’ve spent some time outside this week enjoying the mild weather and friends. So, naturally, we are not exactly on schedule. This time last year I would have been flipping out over the schedule. Not now though. I’ve learned to relax over the almighty schedule (sort of). Actually, I (hopefully) worked out a way to keep us on track by making allowances in the schedule for unexpected (and planned) interruptions. This year I am only planning for a

Sparkles and friend...they are nonconformist in their table usage

Sparkles and friend…they are nonconformist in their table usage

four-day school week with one light work day (usually Friday) reserved for enrichment projects, outings, or getting caught up.

Today, after a half day of school we joined some friends at the playground for birthday cupcakes and fun. We’ve also went swimming twice this week! Oldest has also gone blackberry picking a couple of times this week but the harvest is starting to slow without any rain. Blackberry season is about over.

"Catch me, Big E!"

“Catch me, Big E!”

On a sad note, Oldest learned this week his guitar teacher is moving away. His last lesson will be this coming Wednesday. My poor boy is truly heartbroken. I’m sad for my son and grateful for the time and mentoring his teacher invested in him.

Here are our curriculum choices for the 2014-15 year…

Group Subjects:

my convention purchases...note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

my convention purchases…note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

Music Appreciation from Zeezok Publishing. Wow! We are loving this curriculum. The kids especially enjoy the lapbooks and the music CD’s. This week we made German brown bread and started an oxidation experiment while learning about Bach.

Science: This year we are working through A History of Science from Beautiful Feet Books. We’ve only completed the first few lessons but I’ve already caught a couple of the kids looking through the books. Right now we are learning about Archimedes and will work through some buoyance and water displacement experiments tomorrow. This year will also be the first time they will keep proper scientific journals and will learn about the scientific method by performing the steps. To this study I added: Thames and Kosmos’s Milestones in Science kit, Isaac Newton by J. H. Tiner, A Piece of the Mountain by J. MacPherson, The Mystery of the Periodic Table by B. D. Walker, and Michael Faraday by C. Ludwig. Once a week we are watching the BBC six-week series called The Story of Science (on YouTube). I also found a program about Tesla on Netflix and am looking for a few other shows to add.

Bible: Right now we are working our way through Christian Light Education’s Bible 400. This is a continuation of the Gospels from last year. We’ll finish up by Christmas and will then begin Apologia’s Who Is God course and notebooking journals (I won this set on a blog giveaway last year!).

Spelling: The crew is using level 3 of the new SpellingYouSee curriculum. Oldest is a fantastic reader but his spelling is terrible. They all love the curriculum and never complain about spelling work anymore. I’ll love it if I see progress!

Art: We still have several Bible Stories DVD’s to work through from last year and they have ceramics from Art In History that ties in with their History studies. We are not doing much with art this year since we are working through music appreciation. Next year we will have a proper art curriculum.

Music: My crew will continue piano lessons with the fabulous Mrs. Melody!!!

Math: We will be working through the first four books of Life of Fred.

Geography: We did not finish our geography study from Beautiful Feet Books over the summer break (life got kinda busy) so we will work through the rest of it on Friday’s until finished. We should be done before Christmas break.

Curriculum for third grade:

working oh history notebooks

working on history notebooks

History and Writing: The Story of the World Volume 3.   Sparkles and Middle Boy are using notebooks for keeping their maps and coloring images. I reduced the size of the images to fit in their notebooks. For writing I just combined the techniques from Writing With Ease 3 into their history work. Right now they are narrating (they dictate their narrations to me) one section of the chapter each week. After our second term they will begin narrating all of the sections in the chapter each week. During our last two terms I will transition them to writing their own narrations into the notebook. They also have to read through some history encyclopedias and write down interesting facts.

Math, Language Arts and Reading are all from Christian Light Education. The kids love these workbooks. We switched to their math over the summer. I just wasn’t happy with MathUSee. It just wasn’t challenging enough for them. I had to drop everyone a grade level in their math but they should be caught up by Christmas time. By the end of the school year they will have completed two years worth of math! They will also be keeping reading response journals that I mentioned two weeks ago.

Curriculum for fifth grade:

working on ancient history

working on ancient history

History: Oldest is using the Intermediate Ancients guide from Beautiful Feet Books. He absolutely loves this study but it is currently kicking his behind! He is a lesson behind at the moment. He isn’t crazy about the Streams of Civilization history book and chose to add The Story of the World to his reading schedule. I also tracked down every extra book mentioned in the guide that I could find. I plan to get the Drive Thru History DVD’s on ancient history to go with this study and watch some old movies like Ben Hur. He is also starting a timeline this year and is using the beautiful book from Homeschool in the Woods.

Writing: He is working through the first level of Writing With Skill by Susan Wise Bauer. Writing is his least favorite subject and I can tell after these first two weeks that I am going to have to really work with him. I learned at the convention that some consider this book a bit too tough for fifth grade and to only expect him to get through half of the text. Well, I didn’t tell Oldest that or he would use it as an excuse to slack off. I know I will need to coach and push him through the work. He did flip through the book and learn that if he completes the course he can receive a signed certificate from Dr. Bauer. For some reason Oldest really wants that certificate…I call it motivation!

Language Arts, Reading, and Math: All of these subjects are from Christian Light Education.

Pre-Logic: Building Thinking Skills from The Critical Thinking Co. This book was recommended in The Well Trained Mind. He thinks it is fun.

Typing: He is using Typing Master Typing Tutor. I found it on Amazon.

I think that is everything…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers