Friday, February 20, 2015


    S.l.u.g.g.y. start. Got a fair amount of school work done in the afternoon. Scouts in the evening for the girls. We're working on music from a grandma from our troop, who taught music professionally in the past. Good times.

    Joy's ride to the crisis pregnancy center she volunteers at had to leave super early. The little crew and I drove her up after dropping Justice off at his math tutor. Then they played with the toddlers who were hanging out while their mommas sat through the class on teeth. The toddlers thought the big kids were 100 times better than the toys. We didn't get home until lunchtime. School? What school? (Tutor dropped Justice off at our house, where he let himself in and had a couple quiet hours to work.)
    After lunch and the youngest two were put down for naps (2:00?), Justice, Honor, and Grace did a little bit of school. I tried waging a battle on the weeds in the backyard. (I think they're winning the war.)
    Joy was dropped off a bit after 3.
    "Swim bell" rang at 4. That's what we affectionately call the "drop your pencil and get into jammers/suit, get your gear, and get in the car, ASAP" moment.
    At 4:30 Justice, Joy, and Honor help pull the tarps and swim back and forth. (Honor can swim with the seniors when needed, thanks to having older siblings.)
    At 5 Grace and Faith do dry land exercises with the rest of the team. Afterward they work on their math and literature on the bleachers.
    6:30 the big kids get out of the pool, towel off, boys pull scout uniforms over their jammers. Kids eat dinner in the van between swim team and...
    7:00 Boy Scouts in the park. Joy jumped in and played with them. It's totally adorbs, but I won't tell her that.
    We made it home by 9:00. Thud.

     We hauled butt and put a serious dent in the school planners. Justice's math is in the afternoon instead of morning, which means he had a hard time getting into the swing of the day in the morning. Swim schedule just like Tuesdays, except Honor did dry land with the younger part of the team, and the teens had 20-30 minutes to take real showers and dry off before Honor got out. The little girls took school books to the bleachers. I did manage to get some solid exercise in myself during the little ones' nap.

     Holy sluggy batman. Everyone must be feeling that lovely spring weather out there. It's hard to want to sit with books. I think we can, I think we can, I think we can... 
    My afternoon exercise was another weed battle.
    Swim schedule looked like Wednesday's.

     After dropping Justice off at his math tutor the rest of us drove another 20 minutes or so down the freeway to the Scout Shop. Joy has her own Venture uniform shirt now, just in time for her first BSA merit badge clinic tomorrow. Little Valor got an itty bitty pair of green scout pants from the clearance rack too. He has been wanting his own scout pants for some time, and has nearly worn out the faux uniform I made him a couple years ago. 
    Swim shop after that. Joy tried on a few TYR suits to see exactly what size she is now. Found cheap latex caps for both boys, who both killed or lost their last one. (We'll get Joy a new suit off Amazon or Ebay. Much cheaper than team suits locally.)
    Target for printer ink. We're forever running out of ink.
    Tonight is a large open house for the community at a local college. It promises to be a great time! Joy and MhoncaiDad are heading off to a daddy/daughter dance. Swim was canceled for a big meet anyway. We're laying off the meets for now. (Ask again in the spring.)
    Forget the weeds. And the exercise.

This weekend
    Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What have we been up to?

Woke him up early so he could steal the dance
show. Naturally he snoozed through the parade.
(SO glad we still lug that stroller around.)

Laughed until our cheeks ached when we
gave Mister Tumnus a catnip toy.
Swam here for a couple weeks. It's twenty freeway minutes
further than our normal pool. I may still be somewhat
grumbly about that; I'll get over it. :P
Bought this at a church rummage sale. Needs tuned, but
it's in great shape otherwise. Baldwin.
Lost a tooth!
Graduated primary rollerderby level!
Barbequed some burgers, brats, and dogs for a
scout fundraiser.
Swam away before Mom could snap the
awesome picture she wanted.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"She's got to get her priorities straight"

    Read that title in your best Ron Weasley voice. ;) Weighing difficult priorities is easier than trying to teach this to a kid. Dude.

    Our kids get a strong voice when it comes to choosing their subjects and curriculum. Even in high school. We compare colleges incoming freshman requirements, strengths/weaknesses, and their interests. I've built courses from scratch, because curriculum providers don't make Inspiration of Tolkien with a heavy leaning on medieval mythology. (The audacity.)

    The difficulty here is not in finding suitable curriculum. Joy's current wishlist for her 2015-2016 year, tenth grade, has NINE credits. Nine.

  •    English: homegrown British literature, The Elements of Style, They Say I Say (persuasive essays), and she'll use topics she's studying in other subjects for essays
  •    Algebra 2. She's currently trying to decide between the more difficult Art of Problem Solving, or Lial's Intermediate Algebra. She is absolutely a strong enough math student to handle Art of Problem Solving, but I think she's torn between doing math as strongly as she is able, or letting this subject be good enough. 
  •    Science: Spectrum Chemistry (weekly labs)
  •    World Geography from Oak Meadow, not as rigorous as this year's American history, but enjoyable and effective. She likes the more creative projects they use instead of answering a bunch of dull questions.
  •    World history, lecture/book driven
  •     Latin 2 (continue in Latin Alive)
  •     Spanish 1 (Breaking the Spanish Barrier or local public school)
  •     Novel writing with One Year Adventure Novel
  •     Beginner Piano 1 & 2 at local public school
    Those are all solid credits. No lightweights. There's no way she's going to give up her competitive swimming, scouts, and volunteering. Time turners are not available for muggles. Something has to give. 

    My first suggestion was to knock World History down, since not doubling up on social studies doesn't seem like a valid option to her. That history plan would have resembled this year's American history. Oak Meadow has a well-recommended World History that is more than adequate. She likes this idea.

    Then I suggested she think hard about where she's going with Latin. She really does enjoy it, but does she see herself getting far enough to read whole texts? Spanish would be very, very useful in our corner of the world. In pretty much any profession. She knows that first-hand from her volunteering. (MhoncaiDad and I have considered making Spanish a family focus next year, forcing all of us to use it as much as we can.)  She did come around to perhaps Spanish should be her primary language, and Latin can be a back burner language, just getting the credit whenever she finishes the book.

    I think it boils down to deciding which ones she will enjoy pouring larger amounts of time and energy into. Math and novel writing are dear to her. Languages are getting a higher importance. At this point she doesn't have a specific career in mind, so we don't have that target to help her steer. She knows she absolutely wants to be a homeschool mother someday. Maybe a firefighter until then. Perhaps some basic business classes for future use. Since she is obviously going to get all those pesky incoming freshman boxes ticked on her own, that leaves us with, which of these topics are most important to her. She likes them all.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Planning Stages

Barely planned

     Next year's curricula list. I like to have it ready early. Used books are cheap right now. Sales start soon. I just like at least a rough draft fully formed ahead of time. The younger crew is simpler. Math, spelling, and such just go to the next level in the same course. The high school kids always need new stuff. Honor usually needs more science than they left behind.
     I'll add the Official List later. For now, Grace and Faith are going to do Portraits of American Girlhood together. This covers American history through the American Girl books and ancillaries. Honor really, really wants chemistry with lab.  And his own geography year thankyouverymuch. The teens will do Spectrum Chemistry and One Year Adventure Novel. NOT combined. I value my sanity far too much to attempt making those two share. The chemistry experiments I think they can handle together, but the actual work? Just. No. Justice is also strongly considering taking piano and Spanish at the local public school. Joy wants to do everything and is having a hard time weighing priorities. Her wish list has NINE credits. (This week.) Starting early gives these guys more time to seriously consider where they're going too.

Deep planning, but still unfinished

      I've been knee deep in translations of really old Germanic, Icelandic, Welsh, Celtic (and more!) poems and mythology for Justice's current TEMSEI course. (See his '14-'15 curricula list for what that means.) Deor, Widseth, Historical Sagas Concerning Dietrich, Romance Sagas Concerning Dietrich, Elder Edda, Younger Edda, Biarkamal, Waldere, Hildebrandslied, Kalevala, Naudu Argat-lam, Lludd Llaw Ereint, Nibelungenlied, Mabinogion, and gobs more that Spell Check is having a fit over. The Road to Middle-earth by Thomas Shippey is the spine tying all of this together. If you have no idea what is in any of those, neither did I before this! I've learned more really old mythology and philology than I ever would have cared to study on my own, but it has been interesting. Justice is just about finished with the Faerie and Fantasy course from Tolkien Professor, and he is very excited to get this one started. Surely no matter how wonky a lit course any of them choose in the future, this experience will have me well-prepared and ready to take it on.

Thoroughly planned

     In the summer I took the time to make detailed syllabi. This made me more deeply familiar with their school books than I would have been, and gave them a weekly target to shoot for. Honor has a couple, and Joy and Justice have several each. Halfway through the year. I am SO GLAD I took the time to do that during the summer. The few subjects I just left at a "do this pace weekly" status have not done half as well as the courses with actual syllabi. Kids know what to expect. They can drive it themselves. I'm not fiddling with TM's trying to figure out what's what when they're stuck. Win-Win situation all the way around.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Valor - pre-k

Last one for the current school year....

Valor ~ pre-k

    This will be a very short list. Grace and Faith had actual curricula for pre-k, because it was cheaper and less work for me than the amount of internet printables they could go through. Valor's opinion of bookwork? Meh. Whatevs. A third peanut butter sandwich with a cartoon is more up his alley. He has a chunky preschool workbook from Costco that I pull a few pages from when he does ask for his own school time. That happens every other week at best.

   In spite of not having a lick of formal education, he has some solid preschool skills. He knows his letters by sight, knows what sound they make, and he can write most of them. If we play with magnets on the fridge and nudge him along he can sound out a cvc word. He never lasts more than a word or two before he finds a sword or a truck to play with though. LOL 

   Numbers are coming along slowly. He can count to 7. Solely because of the Harry Potter movies. Until last week I wasn't convinced he knew 7 actually meant an amount of 7 objects, but he knew Voldemort died in the 7th movie so it comes after 6. Last week he started correlating counting with actual objects. It is ridiculously cute to watch him teach the others that there are, in fact, FOUR trucks there, not three. (He still gets lost promptly at number 8.)

   I think he was born knowing colors and shapes. Everyone swears they never taught him them; he just knew. His scissor skills are pretty rockin' for a four year old. His sword slashing and ball throwing are even better. LOL Then he has odd talents like picking out exact model/make cars. All eggshell PT Cruisers he sees in town, on the freeways, or anywhere must be Mrs. White. He spots actors across movies. McGonegal in Downton Abbey made him roll on the floor laughing. I'm convinced he could tell you where every Harry Potter/Doctor Who crossover is.

Faith - first grade

Almost there... !

Faith ~ First Grade

    Grammar: First Language Lessons 1/2 was the original plan, a Daily Language Review book like her siblings are using was her plan, she's doing fine with Daily Language Review 2, and I'm teaching on the fly as needed. Since literally every older sibling completed that First Language Lessons 1/2 book, they all start chanting the definitions or word lists. Which she really can't stand. LOL We will probably condense the 1/2 book and work through it over the summer.
    Spelling: Spelling by Sound and Structure 2 - Her perfectionist self didn't like it at the beginning of the year (translate: she wasn't confident enough in her own abilities). We went sideways to some easier books like Spell & Write (Evan-Moor) for awhile. Now she's back in Spelling by Sound and Structure and thriving.
    Writing: copywork. Plain ole copywork. She gets tired of it and begs for worksheets or something more interesting. After a unit in those she's happy with copywork again.
    Penmanship: Modern Manuscript (Evan-Moor again) - She needed it at the beginning of the year, but not so much anymore. It's one of her favorite pages in her binder, so I leave it there for her.
    Literature: homegrown, just whatever looks like she would enjoy it from our well-stocked shelves

    Song School Latin 1 - She adores this.

    Horizons 2, thriving
     Nature readers, Getting to Know Nature's Children, or just left to her own devices. Her curiosity is very intact.

    See Grace's. Faith does all but the harder assignments, and they almost always do it together. Academically they are lightyears apart, but they really like having at least one subject together.

Grace ~ Fourth Grade

I'm on a roll! How many more can I get done before I have to take Justice to his math tutor or chaos breaks loose?

Grace - Fourth Grade

    -Grammar: Daily Language Review 6
    -Spelling: Rod and Staff's Spelling by Sound and Structure 5
    -Writing: Igniting Your Writing completely flopped. Grace is a natural writer and doesn't struggle with the creative process at all. She just needs a guide to run the show. She was doing great with Writing & Rhetoric last year, but she was going through them faster than they could write them. She found Igniting Your Writing to be super tedious and the baby-steps just made her feel talked down to. Cover Story Writing was already in the house because of older siblings; I made a modified schedule and handed it over. She is thriving.
    -Literature: completely homegrown, lots of classic fairy tales, Ella Enchanted, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Harry Potter, and more (We were going to tie this to geography, but quickly found that too restricting.)
    -Reasoning and Reading level 2 (more logic than English)

    -finish Latin for Children level, start Latin Alive 1
    -The Fun Spanish (*great* intro for kids who still appreciate silliness!), Easy Spanish Step by Step (cheap workbook), and probably into Breaking the Spanish Barrier beginner level at her own speed ***I saw Spanish for Children sitting in Amazon's used books for cheap and ordered it for a preview. We already know we love Classical Academic Press materials. We loved it from the moment the package opened. Grace and Honor asked if they could start it that very day. Spanish for Children it is. It *is* pretty similar to Latin for Children, but the chants are just different enough to help us keep them separate in our minds.

Math    Horizons 5 - Honor's prealg keeps intriguing her, but I really want her to finish 5 first. If she keeps pushing it I'll print the Keys to Algebra book that covers negatives.

    Bite-Size Physics from Science Jim - She loves the experiments and runs this herself. This is the first non-nature science anything that she's truly enjoyed. Score! 

     Homegrown using the parts and pieces we like from Trail Guide to World Geography, Ultimate Geography Handbook, Geography Through Art, Eat Your Way Around the World, Material world, Geography and Map Activities: Intermediate (Rand McNalley), Children Just Like Me, Children Just Like Me: Celebrations, World Search, Childcraft volumes 9 and 10, correlated stories from old anthologies (The Children's Hour, My Book House) and whatever we could find on our shelves

***End of year comments***
  • Daily Language Review worked great for the first half of the year. The second half she wanted more actual instruction. We pulled Rod and Staff's English 5 out of the closet and started doing it primarily orally. She's happier.
  • Cover Story was fun. She didn't make it too far into it, and I didn't have her doing everything since she'll probably use this again in a year or two. Parts were simply over her head. She's currently using the vintage text Good English: Oral and Written by Elson
  • Languages went well. She slowed down on Latin as her excitement for Spanish grew. 
  • Horizons did its job well. She is outpacing it though. I've been throwing "fun" resources at her to keep her engaged long enough to complete Horizons 5, but I can't keep this up for another Horizons level. She'll move to a more challenging prealg course this fall. Or else. 

Honor ~ 6th Grade

    I will get that curricula page current...

Honor - Sixth Grade
    -Grammar: Daily Language Review 7 (Evan-Moor)
    -Spelling: Rod and Staff's Spelling by Sound and Structure, finish last half of 5, begin 6
    -Writing: Cover Story writing with a modified schedule
    -Literature: assignments from Adventures, and an extra pile of related titles I collected for him
    -finishing his current Latin for Children book, beginning Latin Alive 1
    -He was destined for Horizons 6, which we have had great success with, but he was getting... bogged down. Same ole math, again. He's a sharp math student. For years I was sure I was only teaching him the vocabulary for math he already had sorted out on his own. Horizons 6 covers what a typical prealg book might, just without negatives, exponents, and such. We set 6 aside and started Art of Problem Solving's prealgebra, knowing we had a sturdy copy of Lial's prealg (honors) in the closet if needed. I warned him, perhaps too much, that people found chapters 2 and 5 the hardest. He wouldn't work in the book without me at his elbow, one of us using a whiteboard and the other writing solutions in his notebook. I just kept whittling at him until he realized the lesson taught everything he needed for those difficult looking problems, and he was actually doing really well. He is thriving with the harder challenges of Art of Problem Solving.

Science, History, Geography, Literature, Bible
    Adventures in the Sea and Sky from Winter Promise, with the Monster and Pirate packs, and using the Older Learner guide. This covers history from the development of ships, planes, and spacecraft. The science is woven into it. When he's studying ships he'll also be covering ocean science; weather during planes; astronomy during spacecraft. I put the parent schedule and older learner schedule in his binder, with all the needed notebooking pages, separated by weekly dividers. He runs this himself and thoroughly enjoys it. The literature was a step down from what he was used to in fifth grade, so he also has a stack I made (using some of the older learner recommendations); he reads his choice daily. He does not do the older learner writing assignments; Cover Story is more than enough for him.

     So far: 3 volumes of The Book of Life, Peril and Peace, Augustine: Farmer Boy, and daily Bible reading when he wasn't reading The Book of Life
     Recent change: Honor, Grace, and Faith started Bible Road Trip together. Honor still reads 3-6 chapters from the Bible daily. We set the church history path aside for the moment. He enjoyed it enough he doesn't want to push it clear off until next year; we'll wait until we get a solid groove established for Bible Road Trip.

Justice ~ 10th Grade

   Why, yes, it is halfway through the school year. But late is better than a gaping hole on that curricula page, right?

Justice ~ tenth grade
        Literature: homegrown middle ages, a few Great Courses lecture sets, Invitation to the Classics, How to Read Literature Like a Professor
        Booklist: The Discarded Image (C.S. Lewis), Augustine's City of God and Confessions (with GC lectures), Song of Roland, Beowulf (Heaney), Divine Comedy by Dante (all three, with GC), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Tolkien), Canterbury Tales (GC), Utopia (More), The Prince (Machiavelli), Don Quixote (Cervantes), and he'll finish the year with a Shakespeare unit, probably covering 6-7 plays
      Composition: Cover Story Writing (from the One Year Adventure Novel author) - This was written for grades 6-9. The instruction is topnotch and engaging. He is doing it at a much faster speed, getting some fiction instruction that he craves along with some solid nonfiction writing instruction, and when he finishes it we'll spend the rest of the year working hard on essays.

      He is about ten lessons from finishing Math-U-See's older, combined Basic Algebra & Geometry.  He works with a retired STEM professor nearly daily. He's moving forward stronger than ever. Wahoo! This math course won't adequately prepare him for algebra 2 however, so we'll use the chapters he can't pass the reviews for in Aufmann's algebra 1 (with the generic Chalkdust DVDs) and Serra's Understanding Geometry. Even if this takes halfway through 11th, that leaves him 1.5 years to get through algebra 2. He's going to make it! 

History - middle ages
      Great Courses lectures: Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, and Late Middle Ages
      Human Odyssey textbook by Spielvogel, just the middle ages chapters
      World Religions
      Church History
    This amounts to about half a credit time-wise. His middle ages literature is meaty enough it counts as half his history and the literature portion of his English credit.

      Biology by Miller/Levine, with the workbook, and occasional help from his math tutor
      This is going far better than Apologia did last year. He still greatly dislikes science in general, and his scores aren't great, but he will at least get through biology. :)

      -Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish was his introduction, which is a fabulous introductory book.
      -We added a Practice Makes Perfect workbook, that used some very dated pop culture that irritated Justice.
      -Switched to a Practice Makes Perfect Beginning Spanish workbook/CDROM combo that he is doing better with.

Elective: Tolkien inspiration, European Mythology, Story Evolution, Inklings, or, the unnamed, homegrown literature course that we affectionately refer to as T.E.M.S.E.I.
       -Guerber's Norse Mythology
       -Tolkien Professor's Faerie and Fantasy 14 week course (this is the primary story evolution part)
             includes: Sir Orfeo and Sir Launfal in Middle English, Sir Gawain, The Wife of Bath's Tale (Chaucer), several selections from Lang's color fairy books, The Princess and the Goblin, Smith of Wooten Major, The Lion The Witch and the Wardobe, The Last Unicorn, and Sabriel
       -The Road to Middle-Earth by Thomas Shippey will continue the story evolution and add a hefty dose of philology. I carefully went through the text and made a reading list syllabus to go with it. He'll work through it much like he does the lecture courses with primary readings and then reading that portion of the Shippey book. This will cover a very sturdy amount Euro mythology.
       -Inklings - We haven't written this part yet. The plan is to read some bios on the men and some of what they wrote.

*blowing dust* . . . *cough-cough*

    I knew it had been awhile since I'd posted here, but I didn't think it had been that long! Those are last year's grades on the right hand side. Wow.

    If I get up early enough to get the laptop before the teens start their schooling I have time to read my forums and work on this blog. For whatever reason my mobile devices and Blogspot don't get along well. Prepare for some cobweb removal and posts!

~fixed kids grades to reflect current year
~added fresh colors

~update curricula page with this year's curricula (Dude, we already have rough drafts for '15-16!)
~get some pretty images around this joint
~just post more often
~what else?