Midyear Audaciousness

entertaining Boots during read aloud time

entertaining Boots during read aloud time

I know it is January and not midyear…it is however the middle of our school year.

Reworking our daily routine was one of the many changes I made to our homeschool during our recent eight week(!!!) break. We needed a moment to breathe after the move, for holiday traveling and due to a bit of stressful burnout for mom. I was approaching my breaking point. Sadly, that moment isn’t too far below the surface anymore. I’m not as mentally tough as I used to be. Maybe we can only take so much stress in life before the cracks start showing…I don’t really know.

The day on a page

The day on a page

Anyway, our new routine is full of margin giving me enough space to follow those creative moments and rabbit trails without the guilt of abandoning a schedule. I’d been trying to figure the schedule/routine puzzle out when my thoughts synthesized while watching Julie’s Bogart’s Morning Basket scope which occurred during our eight week break. By hour’s end a new enchanted vision emerged. A complete re-visioning of home education…a mindfulness of just how precious this time is with my kids and the desire to reclaim it from Prussian-Industrialized schooling.

Yeah, I had a moment…a really cool one.

Table time including Littlest now

Table time including Littlest now

I just want to add that turning away from public school styled curriculum wasn’t easy for me. I found the grade level schooling of Christian Light Education rather comforting and easy. I didn’t like the moans and dread it evoked from my children. But as I evaluated it during our break I came to realize that I didn’t like the rigidness or early, unnecessary independence built into the curriculum. I wanted our learning to be organic and together. I want to be my kids mother and educational coach not their taskmaster. I had to let go of my love and attachment to the public school (basically Prussian) model of education. Growing up as an abused kid the public school was my refuge away from my parents. I was holding on to that method out of love for those teachers who made public school at place of security and refuge for me. So I learned to let the public school model go over our break and embraced the absolute joy that my children do not need a place of refuge away from home.

Boots our new distraction

Boots our new distraction

God bless those teachers who loved me more than my own parents. Thank you Mrs. Skidmore, Mr. Worley, Mrs. Fisher and Mrs. Alsobrook. And I hope that every kid out there who has parents that suck have teachers like you in their lives.

This was our first week back to school in eight weeks. I have been a slave to the written lesson plans and self imposed schedules for four homeschool years. Out of the past four years this has been our best week of home education ever!!! EVER!

I took the basic outline of the day given by Julie in her scope and spliced in loop scheduling. That’s it. I do not have a lesson plan. Instead I write down what we are doing each day into my “lesson planner”. I know what we need to finish each school year. I know where we should be each nine week fifth (we do five sets of nine weeks).

Our new routine is broken down into three major portions of each day with three minor portions.

I. Wake and transition from sleep time begins around 7:00 in the morning. They have an entire hour to make breakfast, make their beds and get cleaned up for the day.

current Morning  Basket

current Morning
Basket

2. Morning Basket Time begins around 8:15: This is our read aloud time. We read our Brave Writer Arrow selection, Beautiful Feet Books selection, and from The Story of the World. Next is our Oral Loop time in which the kids take turn reading aloud. Only one child per day. Littlest is not reading aloud yet but will be by the end of the current school year. Following the Oral Loop is the Morning Basket Loop schedule. We only do two subjects at a time from the Morning Basket Loop. Once we finish those we move onto another subject. Right now we are exploring Shakespeare and Science. Once we finish these we will move to living math books, nature, character studies, biography, art and music. Then the loop repeats. (This is my kids favorite time of the school day and ha made all the difference in their attitude!)

On Wednesday morning we will skip the Morning Basket time due to Co-op. The crew with work on math, chores and have board game time until it is time to go to our local co-op.

Monty and Polly, my bunnies

Monty and Polly, my bunnies

3. Table Time begins around 10:00: We work on our copywork and dictation for the Brave Writer Arrows each day. We have a set daily schedule for these. On Monday through Wednesday they do their best handwriting for the copywork piece and I go over the grammar. On Thursday they do French Dictation (we are working toward full dictation) and on Friday they edit the copywork selection. I give them a handout of the selection with all of the punctuation removed. My crew looks forward to this every Friday! After copywork/dictation they move on to any history assignments. After which we loop The Writer’s Jungle, Language Arts, Vocabulary and Music Theory assignments from their piano teacher. (At the moment we are skipping The Writer’s Jungle and Language Arts assignment s for our online class of Just So Stories from Brave Writer.) We also do Freewrite assignments every Friday and these also have a set eight week schedule following the Brave Writer method.

poetry tea time

poetry tea time

Also, on Fridays the kids have to answer a set of questions from my husband. He wants a report on their week and he reads over their answers every Friday. If they do not take his questions seriously then they spend some time on Saturday morning writing out detailed paragraphs to each question.

Here are my husband’s four questions: Share something you learned this week. What would you like to learn more about? Share something you did not enjoy this week. What was wonderful about this week (does not have to be school related).

4. Math and protein snack around 11:30. The kids all now have individual math curriculums. Sparkles used Teaching Textbooks, Oldest is currently using Christian Light Education but is researching which algebra course he wants to begin in July, Middle Boy is loving Beast Academy. Each kiddo in a different math is extra work for me but perfect for them. I spend time with each child individually during the math hour. Each child also spends about twenty to thirty minutes on Khan Academy math. They all look forward to math because they get a yummy snack. Sometimes I make a special snack and other times they just get a cheese stick.

5. Lunch hour. Most days my husband comes home for lunch so our lunch hour varies depending on his schedule. I always hang out with my Sweetie when he is home so they can finish up their math, have lunch and a bit of free time.

6. Around 1:30 we get together for our Afternoon Loop. On Tuesday we have Poetry Tea Time. On Friday’s we enjoy board games. The other days of the week we loop through science, art, Latin and history projects. Guitar and piano practice begins as each child finishes up their work. By 3:00 the kiddos put away all schoolwork (if we are still working) and spend forty minutes or so on chores (I have a set schedule for these as well). Following chores are video gams while I enjoy a chai and some free-time to myself.

That is our basic day and it sounds far more complicated than the reality. The entire routine fits on one page that I show in the picture above. This was our first full week implementing the new routine. Our school week was wonderful and everything I dreamed it ever could be. Perfect and beautiful! I hope you find the a delightful balance for your day.

 

Advertisements

Sunday Journal: Christmas Reflections, Slobbery Kisses, and Houdini

20151223_094152 (480x640)Christmas is now past. Tomorrow the tree and decorations will slowly make their way to storage for another year. The house will feel empty and cold with all the cheerful and bright baubles hidden away. My heart wasn’t where it should be. Not this year. Maybe because the kids have been sick…or exhaustion from the move…or isolation from the Christian community.

my boys playing on the monastery grounds

my boys playing on the monastery grounds

Last week we visited the nuns and I was glad to see them again. I’ll get to see them more often now that we live closer. The boys played on the grounds outside while Sparkles and I did most of the visiting. My husband actually got to enter the cloister! One of the printers was broken and since he is an engineer…he can fix anything. He also used to work for a printer company. Anyway, I thought it was neat he saw a part of the cloister. Every time I visit with my dear sisters

Grandma opening her gifts

Grandma opening her gifts

they tell me that my husband was an answer to their prayers for me. I always leave feeling so…loved.

My mother came by for a couple of days earlier this week. She and the kids exchanged gifts. I helped the kids cajole her into playing video games with them. We barely spoke to one another. I didn’t let her stress me out this time. When she criticized me I just

game time with Grandma

game time with Grandma

turned and walked out of the room. I really do not have to sit in silence and take her heartless words. I only told her once that I wasn’t going to listen when she talked to me like that. The rest of the time I just walked away. This was the calmest visit ever…because I chose not to be her dumping ground.

We enjoyed our own rather quiet family time together on Christmas Eve. The kids opened their gifts from each other. Our main gift for the family this year was a

opening the family gift

opening the family gift

membership to the Cincinnati Zoo which is less than two hours away. I am looking forward to many fun zoo trips this year. My husband and I decided last year that we want to give our kids the gift of experiences over materialism. We want them to have wonderful family memories to look back on someday…when we are gone. More than anything I want my crew to know just how truly loved and deeply loveable they are to us. I didn’t get that as a kid.

opening stockings

opening stockings

On Christmas morning the kids checked their stocking to see what Santa left for them. I think only Littlest actually believes in Santa now. We only have a couple of years left for believing in Christmas magic. I’ll be melancholic when Littlest quits believing.

nap during Christmas day travels

nap during Christmas day travels

Later, we left for Western Kentucky to spend the day with my husband’s family. I enjoyed watching all of the children open their gifts. The baby of the family is really cute and he gave me a slobbery kiss from my jaw all the way to my brow! TWICE! The mother was apologetic but she really didn’t need to bother. That moment was likely the sweetest and most loving moment we will ever share together. He’ll only see me on holidays once or twice a year. I’ll be a stranger. This year strangers are loveable people worthy of slobbery kisses…but not ever again.

Mr. Slobbery Kisses

Mr. Slobbery Kisses

The next morning we rushed to Suzann’s home for breakfast. She made us a wonderful feast of ham, sausage, fried potatoes, biscuits, eggs, jams, jellies, juice and coffee. The kids played with her grandson and watched television with her husband. We all talked, laughed, exchanged gifts and loved each other. Awesome morning! We left her home with a new family member…Boots the cat.

Sparkles and Boots the Houdini Cat

Sparkles and Boots the Houdini Cat

Boots road in the front seat in a pet carrier all the way from Western Kentucky. About four hours. She is an awesome passenger. Very calm. Sparkles is over-the-moon to have her own pet!!

Today, Boots gave us quite a scare. We couldn’t find her anywhere and were convinced that she had somehow escaped outside. My husband tore the house apart looking for her. I tore the house apart. The kids searched diligently for her. My husband walked through the neighbor in the pouring rain for her (okay, really he walked in the pouring rain for Sparkles). Sparkles

Sparkles and Christmas outfit...because it was too warm for Christmas sweaters

Sparkles and Christmas outfit…because it was too warm for Christmas sweaters

cried her heart out. We were a heart-broken family. We were never ever going to own a pet again. NEVER! By the time we put our sorrowful children to bed the cat had been missing for about eight hours. I was sitting at this computer trying to write this post. But I couldn’t. I was so angry…I was pissed-off at God for breaking my daughter’s heart. I knew she was in her bed crying and I couldn’t bring that cat back. So I blamed God. I let Him have it!!! And when I ran out of words and sat here crying, my daughter let out a scream of delight.

Boots was in her room, perfectly okay and purring like there was no tomorrow. I immediately loved and hated that cat. I’m still mad a God for putting us through that emotional turmoil.  My husband renamed the cat Houdini.

Julie receiving her gift from the community that loves her so much

Julie receiving her gift from the community that loves her so much

In the middle of all of this cat missing feline episode I got to participate in a wonderful event with the Bravescopes community. Julie Bogart from Brave Writer has given so much of herself freely to us in the homeschooling community. I feel like I should have continuing education credits added to my college transcript for all of the knowledge she has passed on to me. Some of the amazing ladies put together a funding site for Julie. The funding project was for a kayak (and necessary accessories) because it was something she has always wanted to do. I got to participate in this project and watch her reaction live on Periscope when we gave her this gift of love. Wow!

Honestly, I’m done in. Today was truly awful and wonderful. I hope tomorrow is boring. My heart is too full.

 

Sunday Journal: Thanksgiving Week Adventures

Oldest learned to fry eggs this week

Oldest learned to fry eggs this week

Since I was still suffering from my chest cold and this was Thanksgiving week very little schooling happened. We did work on some math and read in our History of Medicine text for science. This week we’ll get back to a full schedule, wrapping up a few subjects, and prepping for a new start in January. Mostly, I am planning fun things to do between now and Christmas.

he made this face every time he broke an egg

he made this face every time he broke an egg

One of my favorite moments this week involved Oldest. He learned to fry eggs last week. One day this week he chose to make himself a bird’s nest for breakfast. When he finished the first one Middle Boy asked for it so Oldest gave it to him and started another one for himself. Every single time he finished his egg another sibling would ask him to make them one too!!! And every single time he handed them his breakfast and started again. I think he expected me to ask for one too but I just smiled and said, “Welcome to motherhood!”

learning to make gravy

learning to make gravy

This Tuesday I helped the crew make our breakfast for Poetry Tea and Breakfast time. I taught them to make biscuits and bacon gravy this week. We’re enjoying cooking together every Tuesday morning. Poetry appreciation has also morphed into cooking classes and it is very good…my favorite morning of the week. These sorts of mornings remind me why I love homeschooling my children.

playing on the swingset at the old house

playing on the swingset at the old house

We drove to Paducah to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family as we do every year. I would have been fine staying home and just resting. We’ve been on the go since the move and could just use some down time as a family. But it was also good to go in and see family and friends. We stayed at our old house and it was kinda

Sparkles and cousin at Thanksgiving

Sparkles and cousin at Thanksgiving

sad to see it empty. I refused to go to our old school room because I knew I would cry. On Friday we visited with friends. My bestie and I hung out at McDonald’s for breakfast and chatted about everything while the kids played at the Playplace. We’ve been gone less than two months and the McDonald’s in town was already remodeled. I know things change when you move but that was a bit quicker than expected!!!

our fortunes: husband, mine, Oldest, Sparkles, Middle Boy, Littlest

our fortunes: husband, mine, Oldest, Sparkles, Middle Boy, Littlest

For lunch we drove out to our favorite Chinese buffet. We had a great time laughing over our fortunes. Oldest’s reaction to his was hilarious because his fortune was something about exploring his feminine side! Later in the evening we went to visit with Suzann and her husband. The kids and I all missed her and we had a wonderful time at her place. I am a little mad at myself because I didn’t take any pictures of her with the kids!!! We are also officially adopting the kitten that was stranded at her house this year. The kitten will come back with us on our next trip west.

Boots will join us soon

Boots will join us soon

Sparkles has been begging for a kitten for over a year. She is over the moon and cannot wait to go shopping for kitty supplies. Our new kitty is named Boots.

On the drive home I listened to Julie Bogart’s last scope. I had missed it the night before and had to catch the replay since it wasn’t saved to Katch. I admire this woman so much. Her courage is infectious! I haven’t had a mentor in a long time and am glad to have someone willing to invest her wisdom and time. She is also

The crew at Suzann's

The crew at Suzann’s

going to do a live writing workshop this week for the kids!!!! You can find the information for the workshop on the Brave Writer site here. The whole experience is free and will give you some insight into the Brave Writer lifestyle. I am excited and plan to participate along with the kids.

We are thankfully finished with our current science curriculum. The kids and I are definitely ready for something new to read. Instead of choosing the curriculum myself this year I let the kids pick. I showed them several different books based on the

laughing over our fortunes

laughing over our fortunes

criteria they gave me (lots of experiments, mostly science with no overly pro-creation or pro-evolution talk.) They chose Dr. J Wile’s Science in the Beginning. We’ll also order the lab kit because I am terrible at getting all those little things ahead of time. Middle Boy read the entire free sample online and loved it. He responded with delight to the conversational tone and the assignments.

Math will be receiving a major overhaul. I’ve been reading books and articles by mathematicians and have all of these ideas swimming in my head. All four of my children are in separate math curriculums based on their learning styles or comfort needs.

Sparkles new hair color

Sparkles new hair color

Middle Boy is bored, bored, bored! He needs to have his mind challenged or he gets rebellious. In January he will be starting Beat Academy. He chose the curriculum after loving the placement exam. This math is “out-of-the-box”, tough, and will stretch all of our thinking skills. My mind may very well snap working with him! I also set up all of the kids some math courses on Kahn Academy this week. Oldest is determined to start pre-Algebra sometime next year so he will have time for advanced mathematics before graduation.

making cookies for Suzann

making cookies for Suzann

Sparkles will continue with Teaching Textbooks for now until her math phobia is behind her. Littlest is already shocking all of us with his addition and subtraction skills so I will start him with MathUSee’s Primer because I have it on my shelf. As his learning style unfolds we’ll place him into a suitable math curriculum.

Sometime this week I’ll have my next post about our journey through Intermediate Medieval History with Beautiful Feet Books. We are finishing up our study of Medieval China. I’ve also got a set of long overdue book reviews from Deborah Taylor-Hough. She sent me a couple of her books during the move and I’d like to share them.

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

Cooking with Julie

this is how I cook with Julie

this is how I cook with Julie

I have a new obsession…Periscope.

I learned about Periscope from the Brave Writer Blog.  The amazing woman behind Brave Writer is Julie Bogart. I’m a total homeschool fangirl for Julie!!! Total fangirl!! I admit it, I own it. Not ashamed of it! (Full Disclosure: I am a total homeschool fangirl for Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books and Dr. J Wile’s science).

Julie and her entire approach to homeschooling has changed my life. She’s changed how I see homeschooling and more importantly my relationship with each of my children. Over the past six months I have slowly blended Brave Writer techniques into our homeschool. We adapt just one practice at a time. We’ve added Arrows to our read-aloud time together. This coming week we will add Friday Freewrites. We’ve talked about Poetry Tea-time and have poetry books chosen to share together. After Christmas our Poetry Tea-time will morph into Tea with Shakespeare. My kids are excited about writing, literature, poetry, Shakespeare and being together.

We just moved into a beautiful new home. The move was tough on the kids and us parents. This move and the reasons we moved cut and exposed our vulnerable souls. For the kids and I homeschooling became a peaceful oasis for us to escape the turmoil. The kids always asked for their Brave Writer Arrow first. We were reading the book Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes and working through the accompanying Arrow from Brave Writer. We chose spelling words, worked on French Dictation, cursive copywork and learned all about personification. We all cried over this book and fell deeper in love with homeschooling. Many times the only schooling we managed to fit in to our hectic days was our Arrow and Oldest’s book Robin Hood from Beautiful Feet Books Intermediate Medieval study. When the day comes that I no longer homeschool because my children are grown and gone…I will never be able to part with Ginger Pye and Robin Hood (worst ending ever!!!). Never ever. Those two books represent a terrible and beautiful time of growth and homeschooling maturity for me. I found my confidence and the courage to tell anyone where to go and what to kiss if they do not like the way I homeschool…the way I live…my family’s chosen lifestyle.

My newest obsession is Periscope. Several times a week I can listen to a few broadcasts and feel encouraged and equipped to live my enchanted homeschooling experience. Julie Bogart often broadcasts at 4:00 pm Eastern time. This is the time I begin cooking dinner. So I just prop my phone up on the stove and listen to her while I cook. I love that time. I love the feeling of connection with the rest of the homeschooling community. Sometimes I need to re-listen to the scopes later in the evening so I can write a few notes. All of the broadcasts can be found on Katch!

Here are the links to a few of my favorites:

Julie Bogart All of her scopes are worth the time!! My faves: You Are the Sky, Unschool Undefined and Party Like a Homeschooler

Life on PEI She does not have very many up yet but I like them all

Amongst Lovely Things Isn’t she just cute!!! I could listen to her all day. Love the Nitty Gritty on Spiral Notebooks

 

Do you know of a great Periscope to listen to? Please share!!!