A Photojournal of One Friday

the day's plans

the day’s plans

The day begins at 5:30 but I usually doze for another ten minutes. This morning I walked forty minutes then hit the shower. After dressing I spend a few minutes reading from the Alliance homework. I’m a week or so behind on my studies. Currently we are reading from John Holt and trusting in children’s desire to learn…unschooling in other words. Interesting stuff, anyway. I record my thought in my paper scatterbook and spend some time in practicing stillness. At seven I go to get the kids up only to find everyone is already downstairs!

I let the cat outside.

Sparkles finally figured out the code that was vexing her

Sparkles finally figured out the code that was vexing her

Oldest is preparing breakfast for Littlest and Middle Boy is loading the dishwasher. I’m sorta wondering who these imposter children belong to. Sparkles already finished her breakfast and some math. She is on Khan Academy trying to work through some computer programming and is very frustrated. Monday through Thursday the kids have to work through Khan Academy’s math courses. On Friday they are allowed to explore any topic they please. I’m surprised by Sparkles choice of computer science. I give her a few words of encouragement and put on some hot water to make my morning tea. Oldest heads out to the

working on Medieval Village...a long term history project

working on Medieval Village…a long term history project

garage to check on the bunnies and clean their cage. Afterwards he works on his Medieval Village in his Minecraft game.

 

I let the cat back in.

I decide to skip my smoothie this morning since me finger and wrist joints ache too much to fuss with frozen foods. I’ll just have some yogurt later. I finish reading a chapter from my current book. The spiritual discussions are insightful but I do not enjoy the green-save-the-earth soap box lectures.

The cat goes outside again.

Friday read aloud books

Friday read aloud books

At eight we start our schooling routine beginning with our morning basket time. The kids usually cuddle up with their favorite blankets and listen while I read aloud. Boots (our cat) uses read aloud time to stalk her prey…my children’s toes and fingers. Occasionally she pounces on someone’s head. Littlest grabs his favorite Biscuit book and reads to us. He knows most of the words by heart now. After finishing his read aloud he fetches Just So Stories. Littlest is my self appointed book fetcher. We read another chapter in King of Shadows which is the first book in our Shakespeare studies.

read aloud time with stalking kitty

read aloud time with stalking kitty

Not a conventional choice but I couldn’t resist a time traveling boy actor meets Shakespeare! Our other books are on Chaucer, pilgrimages, dinosaurs and an Archeology Today article on preserving Nero’s palace. It takes us two hours to get through our reading and discussions.

Boots needing back inside

Boots needing back inside

 

I let the cat back outside wondering who let her in…I get a whole chorus of “not me”…

At ten we move to the school room for table time. Oldest sets Littlest up on the Wii so he can play his dance game while I get the crew started on the days assignments. The kids work on their copywork that I already have posted on the board. Since today is warm I gather the bunnies out

copywork time

copywork time

of the garage and take them to their outdoor play pen. I make myself another cup of green tea and give out the day’s dictation sentences. Our passage was heavy with quotations and I was fairly pleased with my crew’s accuracy. The kids spend the next bit of time working on their illustrations from their Just So Stories class. Sparkles

math time

math time

finished hers yesterday so she goes to the computer to finish her math lesson.

Sparkles opens the door for her kitty.

I get a cup of yogurt and tell Littlest to shut down his game and come to the school room for a few lessons. He works on a couple of pages from a preschool workbook and three

breakfast and grading time

breakfast and grading time

pages from his new math curriculum. He is super excited to have his very own math. He loves the manipulatives though he doesn’t seem to need them…yet. By now Middle Boy is working on his math pages and Oldest brings me his math quiz to grade. He’s already starving and heads to the kitchen for “second breakfast”. He then begins working on his paper on John Ball and the peasant revolt. Littlest is finished with his work and starts putting everything away. He helps himself to a spoonful of my yogurt then sets up his Pixie Cubes game. Middle Boy’s pages are ready for grading now and once we work through his

Littlest's school time

Littlest’s school time

mistake he heads to the computer for his Khan Academy time. I finally find a moment to finish my yogurt.

Oldest starts preparing lunch for everyone…pasta with butter, olive oil, garlic and pepper. I cut up some apples for everyone and take the core and peels to the bunnies. After lunch Oldest starts his first lesson of pre-algebra with MathUSee. He is

math time

math time

using this for a future review. The lesson is easy for him and he asks if he can just take the test tomorrow. We enter negotiations and I tell him he has to do several word problems. (By the next day I change my mind and let him do the honors page and then the exam.) Everyone rotates working on chores and piano practice.

reading time

reading time

Next is half an hour of quiet reading. The kids choose their books for this time. Sometimes I read during this time but usually clean up the kitchen and decide on dinner. Today is leftover night so I read a few more pages in my book.

On Friday afternoon we watch a documentary and then play a

documentary time

documentary time

board game or two. We watch an episode of Planet Earth from BBC. The kids then play a few games while Littlest plays with his Batman toys. I go to the kitchen to make King Alfred cakes. The recipe was in our audio book study guide for The Dragon and the Raven. Basically it is a scone recipe and I’m fairly certain it isn’t authentic. I make it anyway. While they are baking I do a quick

King Alfred cakes

King Alfred cakes

search and find out what sort of cake King Alfred would have really burned…something like an oatmeal griddle cake.

At three we clean up the board games and the kids are now free to play video games. I go upstairs for some alone time. I read a few devotionals and try to just quiet my mind for a while. After the anxiety of last week I realize that I need just a little peace and

games time

games time

quiet or I start to unravel. My goal is to practice mindfulness for just five minutes. I haven’t succeeded yet. Today was no exception since I took a fifteen minute nap. I push my heavy reading aside and indulge in my Doctor Who novel instead.

bunnies in their play pen

bunnies in their play pen

Littlest comes in my room just after four to let me know my quiet time is over.

I usually start prepping dinner at this time. Just as I come downstairs our little neighbor lets herself in. She’s more whirlwind than child and makes herself at home. She plays with the bunnies for a bit and then disappears upstairs to play with the kids until it is time for her to return home. I really like that kid. I finally get a chance to check my email and then prep for tomorrow’s schooling.

There you have it…a day in the life of a homeschooling family.

 

 

Sunday Journal: Lovely Week

poetry tea and breakfast

poetry tea and breakfast

We kept busy with our schooling this week. The kids finished the online class through Brave Writer. I was so pleased that I posted their stories. The kids are fairly proud of their work too. They enjoyed their time at co-op this week and I started getting to know a few people. Unlike last week I managed to keep the anxiety at bay. For the most part the week was nice and quiet.

I didn’t want another high drama week like before so I made an effort to take care of myself. I exercised every morning and spent some time to myself every afternoon. Those two small changes made all the difference for me.

loving his math

loving his math

Littlest received his first math curriculum in the mail this week. He is super excited. Oldest got his pre-algebra curriculum in the same shipment. He isn’t as excited.

This weekend we travelled to some nearby towns and found a nice Amish run discount grocery store. I enjoyed the travelling. I miss the times when we used to hop in the car and just go for a drive.

It is late. I’m tired.

Rave: Brave Writer Online

logoRave means an extremely enthusiastic recommendation or appraisal of someone or something. Other words for rave include very enthusiastic, highly favorable, rapturous, glowing and ecstatic. I’m writing to rave about our recent online class from Brave Writer and our compassionate and insightful instructor Ms. April.

We spent the month of January in the Just So Stories online family class. The goal of the course was for each child to write a little tale based on Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Ms. April gave us assignments and guided the kids in crafting their very own Kiplingesque short story. Our instructor proved not only to be a writing instructor to my kids but also a coach for me. Observing her interactions with my crew I learned how to walk my own children through the writing process.

thumb-just-so-storiesThe first week of the course I worked with the kids to help them pick the animal they would write about. We gathered encyclopedias and books to read. We watched documentaries and BBC Earth snippets on YouTube to learn all about each of their chosen creatures. We discussed various ideas together and the kids spent a few days just freewriting on their animals. We played with words and really enjoyed our time together. Taking cues from Ms. April and The Writer’s Jungle I stepped away from my usual role as critic and grammar nut and embraced being their supportive coach. My Children responded to the Brave Writer way with enthusiasm and surprised me with their creative, funny and sweet stories. We turned in a few rough drafts and Ms. April gave gentle suggestions and lots of enthusiastic encouragement.

So here are their stories along with a few of Ms. April’s comments:

Oldest needed very little help writing his story. He knew exactly what he wanted to write about and the basic events of his story from the first week. To my astonishment he even spent time as Sparkles’ scribe when she got frustrated and tearful. Below is Oldest’s story.

How Lawe’s Parotia Got Its Dance

Once upon a time, O Best Beloved, before Papa went to New Guinea in the Tar Lands of Indonesia on an island in the wettest of wet seas where the pretty birds fly there was a bird of glamorous colors unseen.  He possessed feathers of a pinkish greenish sort and a purplish yellowish type which made all gasp at the site of him. And his blueish orange-ish feathers made other beautiful bird look plain beside him. But his splendorous beauty made him vain. He continuously bragged of himself and loved himself so much he gazed at his own reflection at every opportunity. He refused to marry until he found a bird as beautiful as him.

He was very splendid and supremely superior in his looks. Surely, none could be surprised that the lady birds swooned at his feet deeply in love. He never had to do anything for attention and enjoyed ruining other birds’ performances. For instance, one time Mr. Nightingale sang a song of love and the bird of glamorous colors unseen interrupted his melody with a horrifying shriek. Once the females saw him they forgot the beautiful song of love and turned their attention to the bird with glamorous colors unseen.

What could the other birds do that was better than their rival? As anger swelled in their hardy-hearts they planned the downfall of the vain bird with glamorous colors unseen. All of them gathered together to plan how to make the Tar Lands fair.

The extravagant bird was washing his feathers of glamorous colors unseen. He looked at himself and wondered if anyone was a beautiful. He wanted none to be as splendorous as just one of his superior feathers. He failed to hear a rustle in the bushes behind him because he was gazing at his reflection in a mirror-like puddle of water. He turned to see an angry mob of birds running and jumping over tar pits in his direction. They tackled him and dragged him to a tar pit. He pushed and shoved but could not escape. Then he was pushed in and covered in tar. The other birds left him.

The tar was a gloopy disastrous messy mess. It stuck to his feathers of glamorous colors unseen. When he attempted to wipe it off he smeared it over the remaining feathers. Now only a few of his feathers remained clean. Depression struck the bird with glamorous colors unseen because most of his feathers turned a boring grey. Over time he learned to dance for the lady birds and to clean their perches and decorate his dance floor with bright red berries. Finally he found a female bird as pretty as he was but not as he once was.

Note: I changed my children’s name in Ms. April’s comments to the names I use for them on the blog.

Ms. April: My goodness, Oldest. You have crafted a most magnificent piece! Not only did you “complete the assignment” – you embraced it, owned it and nailed it. It’s time for me to do my Happy Dance and (while I’m still your instructor-of-sorts!) give you one final assignment: CELEBRATE all of this Goodness…pop some corn and read your stories aloud for Dad and any lucky friends and neighbors. It’s share-worthy. Be proud. Congratulations! :)

Sparkles had the hardest time writing her story. She wanted to write about tiger’s but she loves them so much she just couldn’t write anything bad about them. After obtaining permission from the instructor Sparkles was allowed to write a positive tiger story.

How the Tiger Got Its King Mark

Once upon a time, O Little Friend, when wise dragons walked the earth in the Crystal Mountains of China, kind Tiger waited and waited for Tigress. He remembered running through the leafy green forest nestled between the sparkling crystal mountains with their tops in the clouds. He had hunted his prey, a dear of the forest and drug it back to the cavernous cave. Hungrily he began to eat.

While enjoying his meal he heard Tigress and her mewling cubs. When he heard the hungry kits he knew the hunt had not gone well for Tigress. Stepping back from his meal Tiger dragged the carcass to Tigress and her mewling cubs to and let them eat the deer. The other forest animals in trees and glades nearby watching in amusement asked, “Why did you let Tigress and her cubs have your meal?”

“Because I choose to care for my friends,” answered Tiger kindly.

“Ha, ha, ha!” the animals laughed. “You should take care of yourself first. Or make her hunt for you like the lion.” The animals chuckled to themselves as they left to find their own dinners.

Tiger padded softly away ignoring their jibes. Spotting a weepy baby bunny he asked, “What is wrong?”

“I am lost!” wailed the little bunny.

“Follow me. I know the way to the Burrows,” Tiger said gently. Tiger led the way and soon the baby bunny was reunited with his mother in the Burrows.

Again the other forest animals in trees and glades nearby shouted, “Ha! Ha! Ha! You wasted your time on a snackling! Why would you help the little bunny?”

“Because I choose to care for the lost,” replied Tiger.

Tiger thought and thought and thought with sadness about what the other animals said to him as he fell asleep.  When morning came Tiger went out for another hunt. The wise dragon from ancient times flew down from the Crystal Mountains and said with a thundering voice, “I saw your actions yesterday.” With that statement Tiger received his King Mark.

“Why would you give me this mark?” puzzled Tiger.

“I gave it to you because you watch over those in your care,” proclaimed the wise golden dragon.

Tiger returned to his cave. The other animals noticed his King Mark and bowed to their new king. Tiger, King of the Jungle.

Ms. April: Lovely. Simply lovely. Sparkles, your story is so full of tenderness and compassion. PLEASE keep writing and sharing your writer’s voice with all the world.  I hope you will share your story with a co-op or family or neighbors. It deserves to be heard. You have a kindness about you that others can “hear” through your words. Keep writing. Keep sharing that heart of yours. Beautiful work. :)

After reading the first draft Ms. April commented: Sparkles, you are a kind soul. This draft oozes with gentleness and compassion. Thank you for challenging your readers to always choose Kindness. You should be proud. This piece is lovely. Just lovely.

The last comment above made me cry. I was stunned (and a little convicted) by how much of my daughter’s personality our instructor pulled from the first draft. I am with my kids everyday and sometimes I forget just how vulnerable they are to my words…especially Sparkles. She takes everything to heart.

Middle Boy sharing his story

Middle Boy sharing his story

Middle Boy blew me away with his piece. He mostly worked on his own. Mostly, I served as a living thesaurus for him. I didn’t realize just how much this boy loves poetry until I read his opening paragraph.

 How the Octopus Got Its Beak

I’ll tell a tale my Little Buddy when fish were friends, all except one, in the big blue ocean. Octopus is mean, green and he cheats in games calling people names. He’s just so rude he takes all the food. That eight armed pecky party pooper! His name is Wully and he’s a big bully. He inks all over the food. He’s really not that nice. Someday he will pay the price.

“Hey, Fluffer Puffer fish! You are a gassy guy!” laughed Octopus making gassy sounds. Then he went on leaving Fluffer sad and humiliated. Then carelessly he swam away soaring and spinning.

Wully the octopus swam to the fish party where he met a jellyfish and called him “no-brainer.” It is rude to point they have no brain, even though it is true, because it makes them blue. Octopus spoils the rest of the party by stealing the food. Using his eight biting beaks he snatches and snaps the food from the partygoers. Then carelessly he swam away soaring and spinning.

He swam the way to the mazes of coral searching for gleaming glittering gold. He saw many colors of green, blue, orange and yellow. He found a cave in the rocky wreck of massive underwater avalanches and there he discovered gleaming glittering gold. He swam along listening to the bellowing bonging songs of whales soaring above him. He swam deeper into the cave soaring and spinning and found The Giant Magical Squid!

“I see how you have acted,” boomed the Squid when Octopus entered. “You have been bad too long” thundered the Squid.

“Who are you and where are you”, asked Octopus searching the cave.

“Above you.”

Octopus was speechless. The squid was huge…massive like a mountain. His eye was the size of a door and his head like a skyscraper.

“You will go through a change” said the massive squid.

The magic ink came charging at Octopus. In shame he went home. The punishment was so horrible and terrible. His many biting beaks were gone. His only mouth was on his rear end.  Then sorrowfully he swam home out of the maze ignoring the gold. He knew the others would scold. He was so full of spite, he wanted to fight and never picked on anyone again. And, that, my Little Buddy, is how the octopus got its beak.

Ms. April: You are a Kipling King, Middle Boy! This piece has it all…musical language, an animal with an unusual trait, a character flaw and the agent of change. Even better than allll of that, though, is the enthusiastic effort given to your writing. Your willingness to listen and apply feedback, to partner with your mom (and me!), and your flexibility with word play has been a treat to work with. Thank you for sharing your birthday month with us. Congratulations on a job Well Done.

Lulu publishing kits

Lulu publishing kits

As you can tell I am really proud of my kids and the hard work they put into their writing projects. Currently they are using Lulu to produce illustrated books. I can hardly wait for them to finish and get those books in my hands!

Brave Writer is all about supporting young writers and helping them find their own unique voice. I am so happy I gave this curriculum lifestyle a place in our home and school. My kids are finding their voice and the courage to share their individual viewpoints.

Legal note: This review is not sponsored and I received nothing in return. I am just so delighted with the experience and had to share.

 

 

 

Sunday Journal: Birthday Week and Zoo Expedition

We spent most of the week waiting for the weekend. Middle Boy’s birthday was on Monday but we didn’t celebrate until this weekend with a trip to Cincinnati. Middle Boy requested a trip to the Lego store. All of the kids had saved some of their Christmas money for this trip. I’m glad they enjoyed the shop but I do get a little bored waiting for them to decide which set to purchase. Afterwards we explored downtown and ate lunch at a pizza shop. While waiting for our pizza my husband and I people-watched out the window. We

Sparkles at pizza shop

Sparkles at pizza shop

noticed two individuals who appeared to be homeless. I wondered about their lives and what sort of decisions led to their current existence while my own children munched on their pizza…oblivious to the people passing by outside. During our short walk downtown we encountered another woman who was clearly drugged out of her mind.

walking through downtown

walking through downtown

Large cities like Cincinnati are both fascinating and horrifying all at once. Each large city has a unique stench. My husband assures me that some foreign cities he has visited are for more offensive to the nose. I know I am spoiled and sheltered and am grateful for the life my husband provides for us. I feel so uncomfortable in cities…they are crushing, smothering. There is another feeling but I cannot put a name to it. Maybe I just don’t want to name it.

Painted Dogs

Painted Dogs

We left downtown and headed for the zoo. For Christmas we got a membership to the zoo. I prefer family experiences over material things for Christmas gifts. This was our first trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. Several of the exhibits were closed but we still had a wonderful time together and I forgot the uneasy feelings that downtown impressed upon my thoughts. Sparkles loved all of the wild cats and gushed over the white tigers. My favorite animal was the African Painted Dog. I loved their wild spotty colors and big ears. Those wild dogs were fascinating and so restless, with massive square jaws, powerful and deadly. Death in a pack. Scary but beautiful.

Oldest by the creek

Oldest by the creek

Today we stayed home. We didn’t go to church. After a busy day out around so many people I wasn’t up to a morning at church. My sensitivity to people and excessive stimulus is getting a bit difficult to endure lately. Sometimes people are so exhausting. Please don’t get me wrong, I like being social. People are interesting. However, I need more solitude than before so that I can endure the onslaught on my senses the being social brings. Wednesday was the worst day for me. We went to our first homeschool co-op meeting. For the most part the kids had a great time. Middle Boy hated being rushed in his art class and I can’t blame him for that. How can rushing art be justified? I was a nervous wretch before

found Littlest sleeping in our bed

found Littlest sleeping in our bed

we arrived. I worked in the nursery and truly enjoyed the little children. Afterwards we went to the library and then to the grocery store. By the time we got home my hands were shaking. I wanted to cry and curl up in a ball somewhere in the dark. The strain on my heart physically hurt. I just wanted my husband to come home and hold me. I was too emotionally exhausted to got to church that evening and ended up napping.

I will not be running any errands after co-op. No, no.

Lego Store

Lego Store

The rest of the week was just fine. I received my next two reviews for the TOS Review Crew in the mail: The Dragon and the Raven and the Faith Builders Bible. You can look for those two reviews by the end of the month. So far being part of the Crew has been nice and not too overwhelming.

The folks from Beautiful Feet Books asked me to work with them at the convention again this year. I am looking forward to the work and helping a company I truly believe in. If you attend the GHC in Cincinnati this year then stop by and say hello. I’d love to meet you!

Littlest working on math exercises

Littlest working on math exercises

This kids finished their first online class through Brave Writer this week. I am so happy with the class and will share all about our experience later this week. I highly recommend any of the online writing courses through Brave Writer.

Other than my social anxiety issues our week was fabulous. One of my friends told me that my reactions are completely normal for individuals considered to be “highly sensitive”. Something I pan to look into this week.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Parent Teacher Meet-up.

 

 

Nine Years

Happy Birthday to my creative and energetic Middle Boy!

Sunday Journal: Snowy Days

our weekly poetry tea time

our weekly poetry tea time

We were blessed with another quiet week…mostly. The entire state of Kentucky is still wrapped in a blanket of snow. Our area only received a few inches. The area where my mother lives ended up with freezing rain and ice under all their snow. When I spoke to her today she said the entire area was still shut down. Thankfully she still has power so I know she is warm. I did end up cutting our afternoon studies a couple of days so the kids could play in the snow and sled in one of the vacant lots nearby.

20160123_074345 (480x640)This morning the snow was gorgeous…covering the ground like diamond powder, blinding and multi-colored, glistening in the dawn. I stepped out onto our front porch and watched the morning arrive absolutely transfixed by the beauty. My soul was so moved that I wept.

The arthritis aching in my joints returned me to the distracted here-and-now. Winter hurts.

Sparkles in the snow

Sparkles in the snow

The snow cancelled our first homeschool co-op meeting. The kids were bummed but I have to admit to being somewhat relieved. I am sure it will be a great experience in the end but for now it is hard to be the newbie in a set group of people who already know each other.

homemade bacon

homemade bacon

My amazing husband made homemade bacon this week!!! Yummy!!! It cured in the refrigerator this week and finally it went into the smoker today. A few hours later we fried some up and feasted on fresh bacon…way better than store bought!

Littlest all loud and crazy!

Littlest all loud and crazy!

This week Josh from Beautiful Feet Books asked me to work with him at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention again this year. I am so excited to work with the Berg family again. I enjoyed meeting and talking with so many homeschooling families last year at the convention. Crazy busy but such a moving experience for me. I also registered for the Brave Writer Retreat in July. This is a really nice luxury for me and I am glad my husband encouraged me to go. I am sooo looking forward to meeting my fellow BraveSchoolers!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Parent Teacher Meet-up.

Sunday Journal: Quiet Week

snow

snow

For the most part we enjoyed a quiet and productive week. Snow fell a couple of days bringing excitement but melted away too soon for play. Still it was soothing to look out the window and watch the snow fall sipping my warm tea. Our week zipped by putting in six days of schooling followed Sunday services on our only non-school day. Tomorrow will be here too soon.

school room upgrade

school room upgrade

Tonight my husband is working in our school room. He is installing cabinets along the back wall. We’ll have some nice lovely built-in cabinets and shelves once he finishes in a few weeks. Littlest is hanging out and talking with his Daddy and helping out as best he can. He’s also decided that his reward for working so hard is to snuggle in bed with us tonight. We may not be very well rested in the morning. I’m not going to complain since those nights when little ones come to snuggle are numbered.

Middle Boy teaching Littlest about tetrominoes

Middle Boy teaching Littlest about tetrominoes

Our second full week of our new schedule is still working beautifully. Our day just flows so nicely now. The math hour is my favorite of the day because I do spend some one-on-one time with each kiddo. Everyone has their own math curriculum and so far I’ve even been able to keep everyone’s work graded during the hour! I think it is helping them to learn the concepts better since we are able to catch the mistakes right away. The kids favorite part of the new schedule is the morning read aloud time. They love just cuddling

Littlest on his night out with Daddy

Littlest on his night out with Daddy

up and listening to books before diving into their work. We finished up a simple biography of Shakespeare this week. Tomorrow we will begin a new book about a time traveler that meets and works with Shakespeare. Should be fun and then they’ll be excited to tackle a play. We’ve already added his sonnets to our poetry tea’s and studied some original words and phrases.

Hopefully this coming week will be just as cozy and productive.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Parent Teacher Meet-up