Sunday Journal: Spring’s Return, Retreats and Boots

watching the rain experiment

watching the rain experiment

The past week was rather lazy for us. Productive but lazy. I slept in every single day. We started school about an hour later than usual each day and even indulged in our read aloud time a bit longer too. The crew still managed to get plenty of work done despite our relaxed approach to education this week. We learned about rainfall in our science experiments. Littlest has started joining us for science time lately and is becoming quite the experiment

Oldest making paper

Oldest making paper

enthusiast. Oldest had a couple of projects from history to work on this weekend. We made a felt sheet from wool roving. We plan to make flowers with our sheet for a poetry tea time centerpiece. We also made paper from one of his used math workbooks. The paper is still drying but we plan to stitch these into a little book of some sort. We also have some wildflower seeds that we could make into paper sheets for planting…might make a nice gift for Grandma.

Oldest with gift from Josh of Beautiful Feet Books

Oldest with gift from Josh of Beautiful Feet Books

My remaining purchases from the convention arrived so I suppose I should start planning soon. Our current school year will wrap up in three or four weeks! We usually take a little break before rolling into our summer session but not this year. I will be going to a homeschool mom’s retreat in July and plan to let my crew take a break then…while I am away.

We might even take a good chunk of July off this year from formal work and begin in August. I haven’t decided yet. I am currently in

making felt

making felt

a homeschool coaching community and the month of July is spent developing a customized plan with veteran homeschoolers. So I may take complete advantage of this learning opportunity with women who have walked this path successfully and extend our light summer schedule throughout July.

I mentioned the retreat earlier…something that I am excited and nervous about attending (they mentioned line dancing!). All of us attending received a gift box with essential oils, teas, a lovely glass charm, a coaster and

lunch out today

lunch out today

two empty fabric squares. I am supposed to decorate on the cloth square what it means “to be good to myself”. I seriously thought about just dunking my cloth into red wine! Just for a lark I googled “painting with red wine” and did you know there really is such a thing?!?!?! Ha! Crazy…but now I am thinking about painting an image on my cloth with red wine. Of course…I still need to figure out what it means to “be good to me”. Hmm…now I have a Tina Turner song in my head…The organizers of the retreat are going to make everyone’s squares into a quilt. I’ve no idea what I am going to create…

pause in the hike

pause in the hike

Today we went for a lovely hike. The weather has been cool and rainy for a while but the past few days were delightful. The park was covered in beautiful wildflowers along the hiking path. I enjoyed our outing this morning. Beautiful spring this year…finally. Is it just me or has this past winter lasted an eternity? I spent the rest of the day working on the monstrous laundry pile and sweeping. I had planned to get my next review written this weekend but I did not… really lacking the motivation for this one.

Boots resting for the day

Boots resting for the day

Our kitty Boots endured an injury on one of her front legs. It looks like a puncture wound and I can only assume she encountered a snake. She laid around most of today but still gets up to eat and drink. We’ve all stopped to visit with her today and let her know how much we love her. Even Littlest who will usually stay far away from her has stopped to encourage her to feel better. While I was putting laundry away I heard him tell her “get better real soon…okay Bootsie or people will cry.” As pathetic as she has been all day she did decide to go outside this evening. She still will not put any weight on her swollen leg but feels well enough for some night-time exploring. Despite her injury she still gets up the stairs faster than I possibly ever can manage. Old knees are such a bother.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

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Weekly Wrap-up: Doctor Angry and Final Preparations

Littlest and Sprite enjoying some cuddle time

Littlest and Sprite enjoying some cuddle time

Last Friday we played in the pool with Mrs. Cuddle-me and boys. Later Makrothumia and kids also joined in the fun. A day with friends is always so very uplifting. After an entire year, Littlest finally accepted Sprite and played with her in the pool. He also let her cuddle him in a towel after swimming. He always wants cuddle time after getting out of the pool or even the bathtub. After a year of effort and possibly some hurt feelings, Sprite was rather pleased to have won over Littlest and he seems quite content with his new friend. He talked as much about her as Big E the past few days.

lunch with friends

lunch with friends

Sunday was a rough day at church. I usually have a pretty good time with my two-year Sunday School class. However, on this particular day I was vomited on by a sad little fellow who only wanted his mommy. Later, I was peed on twice! I was so glad to go home. Thankfully, I have July off from nursery duty but my group will graduate to their new classes by the time I return. I’ll miss them. I took a really nice long nap that day…after getting cleaned up.

decorating binders and organizing for the new academic year

decorating binders and organizing for the new academic year

We did very little school work this week. Most of our time was spent working in the school room getting ready for our new academic year…which begins on Monday. We did go shopping on Tuesday morning to get the rest of our school supplies. The crew decorated various folders and made little posters for the first day of school pictures. I printed out papers, ripped apart workbooks, and prepped the workboxes for the first day of school.

Oldest's and Sparkles' workboxes

Oldest’s and Sparkles’ workboxes

Our year begins the first Monday in July (unless it happens to be the fourth of July, then we start on the first Tuesday). First I fill in our yearly calendar and mark off non-school days, holidays, vacations and my husband’s time off from work. Then I count off five sets of nine week terms and see that our year ends on June fifth. We are going with a four-day school week (mostly) this year which is why our year is forty-five weeks. Most curriculum doesn’t last forty-five weeks even with a four-day schedule so by the time nice spring days arrive we will begin finishing up our various curriculums. We will also take a week or so off when my mom visits sometime in April.

yearly overview sheets

yearly overview sheets

After getting our basic year figured out I then made yearly overviews for most of our courses. On these sheets I can see all five terms on one page and make very basic lesson plans. I will then journal our daily work into my lesson planner as it is completed. This year I am using A Simple Plan planner. I think this system will give me plenty of flexibility without a rigid schedule that makes me bonkers when I can’t keep up…and something always messes up the schedule.

Once the yearly overviews were completed I made folders for each week and placed them in my daily basket. Each folder contains all of the pintables and worksheets that need to be completed. I printed out all of them for the entire year. Last year I printed papers and

my daily basket

my daily basket

tore out worksheets on Sunday evenings. Now all I’ll have to do is fill the workboxes and I can even do that job on Friday mornings. Middle Boy didn’t want to use the workbox system this year. He hated the workboxes and just wanted to put all of his things in a crate. I like the workboxes (everything in its own drawer!) but not everything has to be done my way. I like my world “nice and tidy” and in its proper place. He needs to see everything at once which looks like a chaotic mess to me. He even plays the same way…Legos and such spread out all around him. He practices his piano the same way. He plays bits and pieces throughout the day and then experiments with the melody and changes things around. Every week I get frustrated and just want him to play the piece from

Middle Boy's crate

Middle Boy’s crate

beginning to end…Maybe I am wrong but it seems creative people do not see messes. Perhaps they thrive in disorder. Anyway, I am doing my best to see how he views the world and accommodate him. My daily basket also contains my attendance sheet, course of study sheets, answer keys, grade keepers, and books for the week. My year is planned and we are ready to begin on Monday.

Littlest woke me early Wednesday morning. I should say Doctor Angry (imagine Angry Birds combined with Doctor Who) woke me with his sonic screwdriver (made by Middle Boy out of Legos)! Littlest was saying, “Doctor Angry is sonicing you to wake up and make me chocolate milk and a peanut butter sandwich!” An Angry Bird stuffed animal was bouncing on my chest and the Lego sonic screwdriver was pressed into my cheek. What a fun way to start the day! After breakfast we prepared for another morning of swimming with friends at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s.

reading response binder by Sparkles

reading response binder by Sparkles

By Thursday we finished up all of our work in the school room. I put together their Reading Response binders. I wanted my crew to start keeping a reading log this year but I wanted more than a list of books. I happened to read this post on Scholastic and loved the idea! I adapted it for our needs and am looking forward to reading their entries. They will list the books they read during free reading time, graph them each month by genre, and then write up a short response (from a list of choices) for me. I plan to read through

log from reading binder

log from reading binder

their responses and write a note back. Even though I will not be grading their responses I will be watching for improvement in spelling and grammar or areas that need extra instruction. All of the forms I used in their binders can be found on the Scholastic post shared above from Beth Newingham.

Friday is July the fourth, my nation’s birthday. The day we are supposed to celebrate our freedom. We usually spend the day at home and just enjoy being together. For the past few years we have sat on our porch and watched the neighbors fireworks. This year we will spend the evening at one of my sister-in-law’s home for a cookout. The kids were really excited when we told them.

Saturday is our promotion party, the day we promote the crew to their new grade level. We’ll have a fifth grader, two third graders and a preschooler. The kids have chosen to go out to a Chinese buffet for lunch. They will also enjoy double game time and we’ll make tie-dye t-shirts. We are ready for our new school year and a return to the much-needed routine!

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Lego Camp, Plans and Treasure’s Past

Oldest explaining his Lego Mindstorm projest

Oldest explaining his Lego Mindstorm project

Not much happened so there are not many pictures to share. Oldest took his turn at Extreme Lego Camp…so we spent a bit of time (too much for me) on the road. I am glad summer camps are over for us. Most of the week I let the crew listen to the Frozen soundtrack during the long drives. The fist couple of days we listened to “Your Story Hour” CD’s that went with our Primary Early American History. We listened to the story behind Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the frightening tale of Pvt. Billy Scott during the Civil War. The nineteen year old Pvt. Scott had the great misfortune to fall asleep during sentinel duty and was ordered to be executed. His fellow soldiers rushed to the Capitol to obtain a Presidential pardon for him. After listening to

Oldest and partner

Oldest and partner

the soldiers plead for Pvt. Scott’s life the President went to the military encampment and personally pardoned him. I was fighting back tears as we listened to the story and Sparkles’ tears were free-flowing. Later, I learned that Pvt. Scott died seven months later at the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862 and is buried at Yorktown National Cemetery. Yorktown is also the place of the last major Revolutionary War land battle where Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis surrendered. Someday, I’d love visit these hallowed places of American history.

Oldest getting into programming

Oldest getting into programming

While Oldest enjoyed camp, I worked on plans for next school year which begins very soon…in about two weeks!!! I finalized the yearly overview and made weekly lesson plans for nearly all of our courses. I’ve learned the past two years that I do not need to make a daily lesson plan. This year I will use the lesson planner (A Simple Plan which I purchased from Mardel) as a journal. I’ll simply write-up what we do each day. First I made up a calendar page and marked off all breaks and days off. Our school year is five sets (or terms) of nine weeks beginning the first Monday in July.  For my yearly subject overview I made up a page in Excel with five sets of nine weeks. I then

planning mess

planning mess

printed off a page for each subject and planned out the weekly lessons, labs, and projects. No details, just lesson numbers and chapters. I’ll write in the details in the lesson planner as we do the work. I’ve always written these up ahead of time each year and then got discouraged when we ended up off schedule…and we always end up off schedule. This way I won’t get so upset and have to rework my lesson planner but will still have the yearly overview pages to keep us on track. I also made up my grade and attendance keeping pages.

homeschool mess

homeschool mess

Now that all of my planning for the school year is done I can work on the school room. The place is a disaster at the moment. We will spend this week cleaning up the room and organizing for our upcoming school year. We need to clean out the workboxes, complete portfolios and throw out all of the old work. We’ll also spend the next couple of weeks finishing up our weather science kit and working on our Geography Through Literature course. I doubt we will finish the geography work in the next two weeks so I will add that into our schedule for our academic year…most likely just one lesson a week. The crew loves this study and we’ve slowed the pace down to savor every book. I’ve hunted down most of the extra books (there are always extra book recommendations in the Beautiful Feet Books’ guides) and we will continue to read these wonderful books.

Grandma's Bible and notes

Grandma’s Bible and notes

Today I cleaned out my desk and threw away several bags of papers and junk. In the back of the desk I found my Grandma’s Bible and spent some time rummaging through the pages. My mother purchased the Bible for her before I was born. I remember my Grandma taking her beloved Bible to church and marking in it every Sunday. I would look at the pictures sometimes when the church service was especially long. After she died I was stunned to learn that no one asked for her Bible. My mom didn’t want the Bible either and handed it over to me without a second thought. Grandma’s Bible is so worn it is taped together. I must have spent the better part of an

Oldest at Archery

Oldest at Archery

hour looking through the pages and reading her notes. She marked sermon notes, dates, names and listed passages for healing prayers. I found little papers with food she was supposed to bring to potlucks and Old Fashioned Days (a day for wearing bonnets and homemade dresses from the 1800’s). I cried when I saw her handwriting and a bookmark I made for her during my monastery years. The pages still smell like her home…

I also found my old Rosary and case that I carried for many years. My Rosary is made of rose petals from Israel. I was surprised by the strength of the roses when I opened

Sparkles loved the guitar at Lego Camp

Sparkles loved the guitar at Lego Camp

the little box. I remember buying the Rosary. I really wanted a very pretty crystal and silver one but could not afford to spend so much. Instead I purchased the rose scented one on clearance at the bottom of a basket in the shop. Over time the metal has darkened but the beads still smell like roses. I always thought I would save up for a pretty Rosary but I never did…I miss the Catholic Church sometimes…the rituals that brought me comfort. I always felt connected to the Christian past in the Catholic Church…a connection that I cannot find in Protestant churches these days…

Well…guess I’m feeling a bit melancholy this evening…goodbye last day of Spring…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Spring Dreams and Turkey Dinner

Littlest examining the daffodils

Littlest examining the daffodils

Warm spring-like weather arrived this week beckoning us to wander outside, ride bikes, and search for emerging blooms. Once again, due to nice weather and a few other interruptions our week did not go as planned. Not really a big deal…we’ve only got about four weeks left of school work to finish up for our academic year.

I pulled out my flip-flops on Sunday. It was fifty degrees and warm enough in my opinion. Several people at church questioned my choice of footwear. Snow was still on the ground but it was fifty degrees and that is warm enough for flip-flops. I simply refuse to acknowledge winter’s presence. I’m tired of wearing shoes and am looking forward to barefoot weather. I think a few of my Sunday School classmates question my sanity.

with my dear friend

with my dear friend

On Tuesday I got a call from my sweet friend (and homeschooling mentor). She and her youngest spend a good part of the day with us. Normally, we homeschooling moms try not to call or visit each other during “school” hours. So when she asked to come over I knew she needed a friend. We cancelled school for the day and spent our day with friends. Anytime someone needs to talk it usually isn’t good and this was no exception. She moved to the top of my prayer request list by the end of the afternoon. If you are the praying sort please pray for my friend…she needs prayers.

Wednesday the colder temperatures returned and I refused to abandon my flip-flops…confirming my tentative hold on reality. Thursday the weather was warm enough for the kids to ride their bikes and have their first crashes of the season. Sparkles skinned her arm up when she collided with Oldest. Middle Boy gave me visions of the ER room when he dumped his bike and completed a spectacular flip landing on his side. He quickly jumped up and declared the moment “Awesome!” I would not be surprised if he decided on some sort of life threatening career someday…

I’ve spent my little free time this week either planning for the upcoming school year or researching speakers for the homeschool convention in Cincinnati. I’ve never been to a convention before and most likely will not attend again for a few years. I’ve already got a good idea of the vendors to visit and have a price list made up. Now I am just working out which speakers to attend. I will definitely see Susan Wise Bauer but I am not sure who else to see yet. In order to help figure out who to listen to I decided to cross out all of the political speakers. My main purpose for going to the convention is to learn to be a better teacher and parent. I then marked out anyone talking about creation and evolution (I just can’t listen to these arguments anymore). Surprisingly, once I marked these two categories out there wasn’t an overwhelming number of session descriptions to read through.

enjoying the warm weather

enjoying the warm weather

Our education plans are coming together for the year. Working out a skeleton plan for the logic (5th-8th) and rhetoric (9th-12th) years helped to solidify the plans for the next academic year. (Tonia at The Sunny Patch here’s my plans for the logic stage…subject to change.) My current plans are:

Fifth grade: We will return to ancient history and use Beautiful Feet Books intermediate collection. When we return to ancient history in the rhetoric years I will use Susan Wise Bauer’s The History of the Ancient World as our spine book (that means main history textbook for my many non-homeschool readers). Oldest will also assemble his own timeline and keep a narrative notebook and draw out his own maps. My middle two will follow along with The Story of the World: Ancient Times (also by Susan Wise Bauer) and will keep a simple written narration. Our art projects will parallel our history studies and we will do a few projects from Art in History.

Our language arts, reading and Bible curriculum will continue with Christian Light Education. Math will continue with MathUSee and Math Mammoth. I really, really wish we had went with Christian Light Education for our math curriculum but the kids love MathUSee and since they are doing well I see no reason to change. We’ll also continue with our current writing curriculum also from Susan Wise Bauer (now you know why I plan to see her at the convention!). The middle two will continue with Writing with Ease and the oldest is moving up to Writing With Skill.

Our science will change for this year. I’ve never been able to find a science that I am happy with. We’ve used REAL Science Odyssey and found it too easy. Our past two books from Apologia have been really good. This year, for a change of pace, we are going to use Beautiful Feet Books: History of Science. I’ve added several scientists to the study and the Thames and Kosmos’ Milestones in Science experiment kit. I’ve started collecting the books for this study and several times have already caught the kids reading the books. We are all excited about this study.

I also plan to use Zeezok’s Music Appreciation set this year. I’ve read many good reviews and I think my crew will really enjoy the study and hopefully deepen their enjoyment of their current music studies.

Penmanship and spelling continue to be a struggle for some of my crew. I am considering several penmanship books and plan to make a final decision at the convention. Oldest is the only one struggling with spelling. We discovered through the IOWA tests he has gaps in his early phonics education (thanks to you government schools!) Oldest is begging for the new spelling curriculum from the MathUSee company. I really wanted to go with Sequential Spelling but since he is begging for this other program…how can I say no.

Since we will finish up our current studies in a few weeks we will study geography and weather science until our regular year starts up in July. I plan to switch to a four-day school week next year so we do not have this large three month gap between the academic years. My husband is going to help us build a weather station so we can study forecasting for the next year. I think that will be a fun and informative year long project.

Today, we are looking forward to a yummy turkey dinner at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s home. Her turkeys are rude and I am looking forward to feasting on one of them!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap-up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.