Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week in Review

I guess I should have written this post before the "What's in Store?" post, seeing as I'm reviewing Week Two and we're already into Week Three, but it's been very busy around here. Our Week 2 consisted of three days of school, an awesome field trip and then driving over 6 hours to visit family. Needless to say, when we got back, we were all a bit worn out. We used last week to "recuperate" and get back to normal, but I never quite found the time to review our previous week of school. Anyway, here's a peek at what we did last week (or rather, the week before). I must say again how much everyone is loving the new path we've chosen!


We changed things up just a bit in our Bible studies. We read three different chapters the first week, but decided from here on out to just choose one story to read, then to draw it and do some copywork from it, creating our own Bible Books. Last week, we read the story of Rebekah. The girls really enjoyed the story and Rebekah was a perfect example of a kind and loving girl in the Bible. Both girls narrated this story beautifully and I was beyond impressed with their drawings. The Hippie even added "Jesus Joggers" (as she called them) to Rebekah's feet. Too cute!


We continued to read several poems by Robert Louis Stevenson this week. The Hippie also started work on memorizing "The Moon" by Robert Louis Stevenson. She has memorized the first stanza and is currently working on the second. When she has it completely memorized I will have her copy it and illustrate it to begin creating a book of the poetry she has learned.


We're still working on learning the "Henson Family Rules". I'm not totally sure how to help them memorize things ... other than just to keep repeating them. We'll begin work on Psalm 23 next week.


We didn't do our regular fairy tales or Aesop this week. We were focusing on some other stuff (see below), but we did read in our Seven Little Sisters book again. We met the little "Brown Baby" who lives in the jungle. The girls guessed that maybe she lived in South America somewhere. It was fun to read about her day-to-day life.


Monday was Martin Luther King day, which to most "schooled" kids simply means NO SCHOOL TODAY. But, I wanted to be sure it was more than that to my children. We spent Monday honoring the wonderful man that he was. We read our copy of Martin's Big Words and watched some of his I have a Dream speech on Youtube. We talked about the way that things used to be and how brave and honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in inspiring change. We talked about how we also believe that LOVE is the only answer. It was really nice to share this with them. It was good to compare dates, too so that they could understand how recent this was. "Rosa Parks stood up for herself two years before Nanu was born" and "Nanu was 6 when he gave his I have a Dream Speech". It was easier for them to understand the timeline that way. And, it was a proud moment for me when the Hippie made the connection on her own that we went all the way from WHITES ONLY times to having an African American president just since Nanu was born.

American History

We started Holling C. Holling's Book of Indians and the Very First Americans book this week. We read about how the people may have come over from Asia many many years ago. We read about the various types of Native Americans ~ the plains and the desert and the mountains. The girls told back what I'd read to them and they both drew pictures of Native Americans for their My America Books. They also made covers for their notebooks and did a bit of copywork related to the Native Americans.


Fine Arts

We continued our study of Renoir this week. We studied the painting entitled "The Letter" this week. The girls studied it and told me the details from memory. The painting is now hanging on our refrigerator so that they can see it often. When we study our next painting, the two we have already studied will go into our binder in page protectors.

For our music studies, we watched Peter and the Wolf on youtube. We also listened to a Pandora station created using the title "Peter and the Wolf". The girls have learned the piece well enough to recognize it any time it comes on and can even tell you which animal each instrument represents. Next week we will begin studying the Orchestra with some books I have from the library.

In addition to our formal studies, we also attended a performance at the local School of the Arts (high school). It was a fairy ballet and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! I could totally see the Hippie in a place like that ... aside from the fact that Arts or not, the main influence in those children's lives is their peers and the media; two things I am attempting to avoid. We'll cross the High School bridge when we get to it. :-)

On a cute side note, after the performance the Hippie planned, directed and performed in a dance production and a play at the park we went to with our homeschool group. She also planned, directed and performed more than once when we were out of town with her cousins. She is quite the performer! Not a shy bone in her body.


We are still having trouble getting to our literature read alouds. I know, that sounds crazy, doesn't it? I think after I've read aloud so many things during the day, I'm just not in the mood to read anymore come quiet time. I believe the solution may be to listen to our literature read alouds on audio. Last week we listened to three chapters of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and one chapter from Little House in the Big Woods. It is a habit I need to work on. There are so many books I want to read to them, but it will only happen if we just do it.


We learned about the Golden Rod plant this week. I read them the story of the Golden Rod from Outdoor Secrets and they narrated it back to me. Did you know that the Golden Rod always points north? I didn't. But, I do now. The girls also drew pictures of the Golden Rod for their nature notebooks. In addition to formal studies, they've had a couple of really awesome outdoor park days! We went to this great park after the ballet performance and all the kids spent time in the woods exploring and collecting. They also spent a few hours in the woods exploring after our Agricultural Museum field trip was over.


This was short and sweet this week. We read the poem "The Sailor-boy's Gossip" by Eliza Cook. I had the girls guess what places and peoples the poem might be about based on the information in the poem. We talked about the fact that the book we are using was written by Charlotte Mason herself and that she lived in the 1800s so she didn't have all the information we have today, but how interesting it is that they still knew so much about our world.


Both girls started a new adventure at our regular Waldorf Handwork Group. They are learning to cross-stitch now, which they think is super cool since I told them that their Nanu used to do that all the time when I was little.

The Basics

This topic, while extremely important, is not particularly exciting to write about. I will just tell you that The Princess continues to improve in her reading ability (I recently did a quick assessment on Sonlight's website and she placed at the 2nd grade level) and is enjoying her math and language lessons as well. The Hippie is also moving along nicely. She (surprisingly to me) loves learning cursive and I think her favorite subject is English for the Thoughtful Child (who would've have thought. Though, I will tell you, she is doing it 100% orally with me. Had I insisted she write everything it asks you to write, I believe this would be her least favorite subject!). She is progressing in her math and language lessons as well and continuing to read the Life of Fred chapters. I'm heavily considering buying Math U See, though and going with that instead. As far as assigned reading, I had not yet figured out what I wanted her to read, so she just spent the week reading what she wanted. She's been reading Betsy Tacy as well as a ton of other shorter books from the library.

We finished out the week with an AWESOME field trip to the Florida Agricultural Museum. We go to see how houses would have been set up in the late 1800s (and were tickled to find multiple items in those homes that my mom has in her home ... gotta love the educational value of antiques). We got to see ducks and roosters and a turkey and chickens and horses and cattle. We got to go into a "Commissary" and go on a tractor/trailer ride. It was very educational (for me as well). Loved all of the history!

Well, I must stop writing now. It's time for us to get ready and head out to the zoo. Don't you just love homeschooling? I know I do!

How was your week?

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's in Store?

After a short meeting with the girls this morning (over tea with honey & cream), I feel confident that our new-found way of doing school is going well. I went through each subject specifically and got a resounding YES each time I asked if they liked what we were doing (except for Language Lessons or anything related to copywork for the Hippie. But, I firmly told her she'd just have to get over it because that was the way she would be learning language arts. Period). As the old saying goes, If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So, we won't be "fixing" much. I did, however, make an executive decision (that we discussed this morning and they both agreed with) that instead of reading a chapter every day from the Bible, we would only read specific stories, one per week and draw pictures from them and copy one line from them, creating a Bible book filled with drawings and words from the stories of the year. This is my Waldorf roots coming through, allowing them to really work with the stories and feel them rather than rushing through the Bible just to finish by some arbitrary deadline. Anyway, short story long, I thought I'd share our plans for week three. We will have three days of "lesson plans", one day with our Homeschool group and one day of all day grocery shopping (we only hit up Walmart and Whole Foods once a month and the girls and I have grown to look forward to this "girls' date").

Family Work: 

The Children's Story Bible by Vos: Jacob's Dream (Read, Draw, Copy)

Child's Garden of Verses: Read poems daily
Recitation: Work on memorizing Family Rules, begin Psalm 23
Child's History of the World Ch 2 (read, narrate, timeline)
Life in the Great Ice Age, Ch 1 & 2
Holling Book of Indians Ch 2 (Read & Draw), Ch 3 (Read)
Charlotte Mason Geography, Lessons 4 & 5
A Seed is Sleepy (Read & Narrate), Paste Golden Rod poems in Nature Notebook
Burgess Bird, Ch 2 (Read, Color, Paste, Copy)
Oak Meadow Fairy Tale for G (Read & Narrate, the Princess draws) 
Aesop, Belling the Cat & The Eagle and the Jackdaw (Read & Narrate)
Seven Little Sisters, Agoonack
A Weekend with Renoir, p 12-19 (Read & Narrate)
Picture Study: Renoir's "Boating on the Seine"
Music: Listen the "The Orchestra" book on Audio
Little House in the Big Woods, 3 chapters
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 3-4 chapters

As far as the girls' individual work, we'll be on a "do the next thing" sort of schedule. There's really no planning needed here. They just need to work at it daily. Here's what they girls have in store:

The Princess (primarily guided work with me):
Letter picture for G from Fairy Tale
Delightful Reading Lessons, 2 this week
Read aloud to me, 10 minutes per day (for practice)
Math Lessons for a Living Education, daily
Dreambox Math, 15 minutes 3 times
Queen Language Lessons for Little Ones, Volume 3, daily

The Hippie (primarily independently):
Cursive (Pictures in Cursive PRIMER), daily
Math Lessons for a Living Education, daily
Dreambox Math, 20 minutes 3 times
Life of Fred Elementary, daily
Language Lessons for the Very Young, Volume 1, daily
English for the Thoughtful Child, orally with me 2 times
Assigned Reading: The Family Under the Bridge, Ch 1-3
Free Literature Reading (Betsy Tacy)

We also have a Valentine Craft Day scheduled to make Valentines for the elderly that we will deliver as well as our weekly Waldorf Handwork Group, where both girls are learning to cross-stitch. Should be an exciting and educational week.

What do  you have planned?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The TA-DA List

Have you ever invested yourself totally and completely into a task only to have your heart crushed when what is noticed is what you didn't do rather than what you did do?

You know what I'm talking about. You clean the house from top to bottom, inside and out, every corner, every crack, every crevice. You get on your hands and knees, you scrub with a tooth brush. You clean until your fingers bleed. Then, someone comes along and wipes a finger along the one window sill you forgot to wipe and comments on the dust.

There's nothing worse than that feeling.

If we're lucky (and I most certainly am), we don't find ourselves in that situation with our husbands or family. If we are lucky, we are with people who love us and appreciate all that we do and would never dream of criticizing the things we don't do.

But, as women, as wives and mothers and homemakers, don't we do it to ourselves? Don't we spend all of our energies making a wonderful life for those we love and then turn around and beat ourselves up for what we didn't do today?

It's funny.

God is gracious enough to bring us together with men who treat us well and then we turn around and treat ourselves with criticism. Don't you think we owe it to ourselves to begin to appreciate all that we do and are and stop harping on all the things that we can't do or aren't?

I can't remember where I saw it (and I do apologize to whomever came up with this for my inability to give you credit), but I recently saw on another blog where a mother said something about her "Ta-Da List".

I fell in love. On. the. spot.

That tiny little phrase spoke to me on a deep level. It was something I desperately needed to hear.

I thrive on order, so I make myself lists. Lists upon lists of things to do. But, as we all know, getting everything on the list actually crossed off is near impossible. Well, maybe if I had a maid and someone else was teaching my children and I had no animals and could spend 100% of my time working on my lists without interruptions. But, yuck. Where would the joy be in life? What would be the point of the things on my list if I didn't have these sweet people to do them for?

Oh, but I digress. Back to the point.

I like lists. I do best when I have a plan of what I need to accomplish. The problem comes when the day is over (or whenever my mojo runs out) and the list is not completed. Now comes the guilt, the shame, the internal name-calling and degradation. I know I'm not the only wife/mother/homemaker/home-educator that does that!

What if we turned it around a bit and spent a few minutes at the end of our day noticing what we did accomplish? What if we focused just as much attention on our "Ta-Da List" as we did our "To-Do List"? Wouldn't that be a boost in our confidence and self esteem?

So, the other day, I did just that. I had about 15 to 20 things on my "to-do list". Things like baking muffins and doing school and reading my Bible and cleaning the kitchen well and taking a shower and cleaning the bathroom and blogging and calling my mom and balancing my checkbook and making phone calls and doing our library stuff online (what needs to be returned, reserve upcoming materials for school) and type out a poem for the Hippie to memorize and reply to two emails asking me questions about food (raw and vegan) and make dinner and make lunch and clean up after each meal and .....

I worked hard, but as you might have guessed, I did not finish everything that day. At the end of the afternoon, though, I took a minute to look at my "Ta-Da List". Here is what I had accomplished:
  • Spent time with GOD
  • Completed the day's school lessons
  • Talked to my mom for over an hour
  • Cleaned the kitchen WELL (dishes, appliances, sweep, mop, etc.)
  • Published a blog post
  • Prepared three healthy meals for my family from real, whole foods
I could have felt guilty (and believe me, I tried) about not baking muffins or replying to emails or getting to all of my office-type work. Instead, I felt good about what I had accomplished.

I had done the things that mattered most, really. I mean, what is more important than God, the education of my children, maintaining my relationship with my mother and feeding my family healthy and nutritious foods?

If you take what is most important to you (in my case, that would be God and Family) and what you accomplish aligns with that, what could really be wrong?

There's always tomorrow to get those other things done.

And, for the record, I did bake muffins the next day and as of this moment most of those other things have been taken care of. And, even if they haven't, I can feel good about what I have been doing. Taking care of my relationships with God and family, educating my children and maintaining my home to the best of my ability (amid constant interruptions and distractions) are things to be proud of!


Monday, January 16, 2012

What's on the Menu?


  • B ~ Oatmeal with Fruit, Honey & Coconut
  • S ~ Fruit Kabobs (Apple, Banana & Strawberries)
  • L ~ Organic Mac-n-Cheese with Peas, Carrots, Onions; Salad & Green Tea for Momma
  • S ~Triscuits & Cheese, Pineapple Oranges
  • D ~ Sweet Potato Chili, Crackers, Yogurt 


  • B ~ Cream of Wheat w/Cinnamon, Raisins & Agave Nectar
  • S ~ Pear Slices & Pistachios
  • L ~ Homemade Pizzas, Salad & Green Tea for Momma
  • S ~ Apples ~ n ~ Peanut Butter
  • D ~ Cabbage Soup, Crackers & Yogurt


  • B ~ Fruit Smoothies & Toast
  • S ~ Apples w/Vanilla Yogurt & Honey
  • L ~  Hummus & Veggie Pita, Pineapple Oranges & Green Tea for Momma
  • S ~ Dried Fruit, Nuts & Popcorn
  • D ~ Spaghetti, Eggplant, Salad & Bread, Yogurt

  • B ~ Oatmeal with Fruit, Honey & Wheat Germ
  • S ~ Bar & Banana (to go)
  • L ~ Subs, Green Tea for Momma (to go)
  • S ~ Apples, Pretzels
  • D ~ Leftover Cabbage Soup, Bread & Yogurt

Friday & the weekend ~ Traveling

Feel free to borrow my plan! Have a great week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's in Store?

After such a successful and beautiful week of school, I thought I'd share our plans for week two. We will likely only have three days of "lesson plans" and one field trip day. It is highly likely we will be traveling at the end of the week. We'll see. Either way, these are our plans.

Family Work: 

The Children's Story Bible by Vos: Rebekah (Read Ch 17, Draw, Copy)

Child's Garden of Verses: Read poems daily
Recitation: Work on memorizing Family Rules
Martin's Big Words (Martin Luther King)
Watch some Youtube on Martin Luther King
Seven Little Sisters, Brown Baby
Very First Americans p.1
Holling Book of Indians Foreword & Ch 1

My America Copywork
Outdoor Secrets & Companion, Lesson 12 & 13
Little House in the Big Woods
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Oak Meadow Fairy Tales for G & H
Child's History of the World ch 2, Stone Age
Life in the Great Ice Age: Ch 1 & 2
Charlotte Mason Geography: 1 Section
Music: Watch Peter and the Wolf here and here
Picture Study: Renoir's "The Letter"
Burgess Bird Book: Ch 2

As far as the girls' individual work, we'll be on a "do the next thing" sort of schedule. There's really no planning needed here. They just need to work at it daily. Here's what they girls have in store:

The Princess (primarily guided work with me):
Letter pictures for two Oak Meadow Fairy Tales, G &H
Delightful Reading Lessons, 2 this week
Read aloud to me, 10 minutes per day (for practice)
Math Lessons for a Living Education, daily
Dreambox Math, 15 minutes 3 times
Queen Language Lessons for Little Ones, Volume 3, daily

The Hippie (primarily independently):
Cursive (Pictures in Cursive PRIMER), daily
Math Lessons for a Living Education, daily
Dreambox Math, 20 minutes 3 times
Life of Fred Elementary, 2 times
Language Lessons for the Very Young, Volume 1, daily
English for the Thoughtful Child, orally with me 2 times
Read aloud to me, 5 minutes 3 times (so I can catch any mistakes)
Free Literature Reading

We also have a field trip scheduled to a real working farm and agricultural museum. We'll get to see restored historical buildings, a dairy barn, an archaeological site, a pioneer homestead, a dry goods store, livestock, trail rides and more. Should be an exciting and educational week.

What do  you have planned?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week in Review

We've finished up our first official week of school in the year 2012. We were so excited to get the ball rolling and have had a lovely week. I have to repeat how pleased I am with all of the materials I finally settled on and with my organization. It truly is making all the difference in the world!

Let me share with you some of the wonderful things we've done this week.


We started reading The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos this week. It's funny. We've "started over" so many times that my children know the beginning of the Bible like the back of their hand. The Creation Story is old news in these parts. But, I didn't want to miss the great style of writing that Vos uses, so I decided to start at the beginning anyway. This week we read about how much God loves us and how He always takes care of us, no matter what. We read the story we all know backwards and forwards (the story of Creation) and we read about the creation of Man (Adam).

While I love the style of writing, there were a couple of instances that we stumbled through. I need to get better at scanning ahead and editing when something said doesn't quite jive with our family's beliefs or when something might upset my child. For instance, my youngest angel lost her beloved kitten only two months ago (he was hit by a motorcycle right in front of my home). She still struggles with this loss often. She still cries for him and misses him and has trouble dealing with her emotions surrounding the loss. When I read the sentence in Vos's Bible about how humans are special, I wish I'd have read ahead and reworded it. Vos says that when animals die, that's it, they are gone, but when humans die, there is more after life for us. As soon as the words were coming out of my mouth, I wished they weren't. I looked out of the corner of my eye to see if she reacted (while I continued to read, hoping to push on past that little line). She didn't show too much sign of reaction at first, but then it did come. She didn't like that part at all. I could see the tears well up in her eyes. We had to stop and discuss that this book we are reading is only Catherine Vos's interpretation of the Bible. I assured her that I didn't believe that, that I was sure that Silky (her kitten) was in heaven playing with Faith and Scrap (our dogs that have died in recent years) and Papa and Uncle Wesley (my dad and brother who have also passed away). I believe I was able to convince her, but I did make a mental note that I, as the mother, need to be more prepared in the future. I need to either read ahead on my own or at least try to scan my eyes ahead and edit on the fly.

I've also been thinking about possibly changing up my idea of Bible Study a bit. My plans thus far have been to just read a chapter every day. But, the more I'm thinking about it, I may decide to choose my favorite Bible Stories from the book and read one per week instead, allowing us time to draw a picture for the story and copy a verse. I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know how I decide to proceed.


We read several poems by Robert Louis Stevenson this week. Each morning, we would cuddle up on the couch with our Bible and A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. After our Bible reading and narration, we would begin to read poems. I would read a few and then they would each want to flip through and read a few. The Princess was tickled pink to discover that "HER" poem was in the book. The poem she is using to learn to read in her Delightful Reading Lessons is by Robert Louis Stevenson. She loved to look it up each morning and read it to us! The Hippie was equally tickled when we were doing a lesson in her English for the Thoughtful Child one day and came to another poem and she saw that it, too was by Robert Louis Stevenson. I love to see them making connections!


We've been spending some time each morning working on learning the "Henson Family Rules". Last week I typed up a list of rules we have in our family and printed them on card stock for my binder. I also printed one copy for each girl and put them in page protectors to go into their binders. My goal is for them to have them all memorized by the end of the first term. It's been kind of fun to point out which "rule" is being broken whenever one member of the family breaks one (parents included). :)


We read two fairy tales and two Aesop's Fables this week. Each tale was narrated in bits and pieces by each child and the Princess drew pictures for each of the fairy tales. This week we read The Golden Key and The Fisherman's Son as well as The Wolf and the Kid and The Tortoise and the Ducks.

World History

This week was a light week for World History. We only read the first chapter of A Child's History of the World. It was (of course) about the CREATION of the world, go figure. After reading the chapter, I had the Princess tell me what I had read and the Hippie colored in a small card that represented "Creation" for our timeline. This card goes on our wall timeline. We are keeping a simple wall timeline for World History and keeping a My American notebook for American History.

American History

This week we learned about the people who were in America long, long ago. We read about the various types of Native Americans that were here before us ~ the nomads, the hunters, the farmers, the plains Indians. We read about the different types of houses that they built, what they called their babies and how their daily life might have been. We learned that there were advanced civilizations here, too ~ the Incas, the Aztecs and the Mayans. I took two breaks in our American History readings, having each child narrate a portion. When we were finished with our readings, the girls each started their My America notebooks, making a cover for the binder and drawing a picture to represent what they learned this week.

Unlike most American History resources that I found, we are going to pause here and spend a good 8 or 9 weeks on the Native American peoples before moving on to the European exploration. I do not want my children to be too Euro centric or Ethnocentric. I want them to have an appreciation for the people who were here before us. We'll be reading through The Very First Americans and Holling C. Holling's Book of Indians before we move on to the Vikings coming over. I am thinking that I'd also like to read some Native American legends and stories, possibly some of their spiritual stories, their stories of Creation and the like. It should be great fun!


We are really enjoying our Geography resources! They take us literally no more than five minutes, but are so beautiful and meaningful. I am using Charlotte Mason's own Elementary Geography book (updated and printed by Queen Homeschool Supplies). We only did the first two lessons this week ~ the first was a poem about how ALL things bring Glory to God; the second was about the world being round. In the lesson, Charlotte Mason mentions how if you started in one place on your flat table and moved along, you would only get farther and farther away from where you began, you would not come back to where you started. But, if you stuck a pin in a ball (I was in the kitchen, so I grabbed an orange and stuck a pin in an orange to illustrate this) and moved away from the pin, you would eventually come back to where you began. It was lovely to be able to explain these concepts with hands on objects that were right next to us in the kitchen. It makes the learning so natural and unforced! What a beautiful thing.

We are also going to be reading this phenomenal little book I found called Seven Little Sisters who live on the round Ball that floats in the Air by Jane Andrews. I found the title on Yesterday's Classics and knew I wanted to read it, but I was lucky enough to find a "real" copy on Ebay (instead of the reprinted paperback). My copy is a little hardback book from 1887, though the copyright page says that it was "Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861". The girls were amazed to discover that our little book was from the beginning of the Civil War. Have I mentioned how much JOY it brings me to find these little treasures? Aaaahhh. Anyway, we read about "the Ball itself" this week. Can you guess what "the Ball" might be?

Fine Arts

We began our study of Renoir this week. As I mentioned in a previous post, we studied the painting entitled "Two Sisters" this week. We also read a bit from our book entitled A Weekend with Renoir. It is a really well written gem that I found at a used book sale years ago. The girls loved to make the connection that Renoir was friends with Monet (the only other artist we've really studied). We will continue in this fashion ~ studying a new print each week and reading some more about Renoir's life. I have the "Two Sisters" print in a page protector on the refrigerator so that they can see it often.

We also listened to Peter and the Wolf here. I have a couple of Orchestra books on hold for me at the library and intend to read those over the next few weeks as well as listen to more audio of Peter and the Wolf and eventually watch the video that goes with it. As usual, we listened to classical music throughout the week while we were doing our school work and while eating snacks and/or lunch. I like to create a Pandora station of whatever we are studying. This week we've been listening to a "Peter and the Wolf" station.


We continued in our two read alouds this week, though not as much as I would have liked. I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to them and Daddy is reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to them. To be quite honest, Daddy is not liking the wording of the book. He does not understand the concept that this will "stretch their minds". To him, it just doesn't make sense to read something that is written differently from how we talk. I am trying to get him to at least keep those ideas to himself (so as not to spoil the girls' attitudes towards the quality literature). I even offered to try to find the book on Audio for us to all listen to in the evening instead of him having to read it, but he said no. So, maybe he does secretly like to stretch himself a bit???


I already wrote about this earlier in the week. You can read about our Bird Studies here. That is about all we got to this week in the way of "school", but we did go to the Zoo on Tuesday and spent the entire afternoon at a park with other homeschool friends yesterday. Yesterday, the children found four dead squirrels. They dug holes, buried them and held four little funerals. My question is, what in the world is going on in that park to kill all the little squirrels? Kinda scary.

The Basics

Both girls progressed just fine this week in their "basics".

The Princess still loves her Delightful Reading lessons, loves drawing her letter pictures for the fairy tales that we read and just plain LOVES all things homeschool. She is a dream of a student. My easy-peasy one! We enjoyed our math lessons and language lessons. She enjoyed doing her math on Dreambox and she read aloud to me each day. She read to me from the Reading Literature The Primer by Harriette Treadwell and from one of her Little Bear books. She is so funny ~ early readers tend to repeat a lot so that it builds confidence in the young student. You know, once they can read the first page, they can generally do well with the rest of the story because they are repeating what they have already read. HA Well, my daughter finds that extremely annoying. She kept saying, "UGH, this is so annoying" when she would have to read the same sentence over and over. :) Funny girl.

The Hippie is moving along nicely in her math lessons and language lessons books and in her cursive. I am only having her do half of a lesson in her cursive book each day ~ only about 6 letters. The idea is to do only as much as you can do perfectly. I don't want scribble; only her best work. We did a couple of chapters in Life of Fred (she reads them to herself and then we do the Your Turn to Play orally together) and about 5 lessons in English for the Thoughtful Child. She LOVES this for some reason and begs me for just one more lesson. It's crazy what they latch on to. I think she thinks it is teaching her "proper English" ... like it's something fancy or something. Cute! She also loves Dreambox math! I am so glad I found this site. I'll have to write a review for you! As far as independent reading, I need to come up with a specific list for "Assigned Reading" because so far that isn't working too well. If I really want her to read something, I have to tell her what. This week she started Twig, but didn't continue and she read the first chapter of the Burgess Animal Book, but I need to decide what I want her to read for Assigned Reading and put it on a list to be checked off! She also started reading Owls in the Family to her sister and they started some sort of club where they are drawing and reading together. They even came out today and made "Owl Snacks" out of bread and peanut butter and dried fruit and oats. I love to see them come up with these things on their own!

I guess that's it. All in all, we got a lot accomplished this week, especially considering it was a week with all kinds of other goings on (zoo on Tuesday, park on Thursday and a couple of days of not feeling too well). I keep reminding myself my old saying of "Slow and Steady wins the race". I know that if we just keep plugging away at it CONSISTENTLY, then they will progress.

I am quite pleased with the progression of this week. How was your week?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Term 1 Plans and Daily Checklists

I've had some questions as to how I have organized our school year and how things are going so smoothly for us FINALLY.

I have to say that being totally organized for a change is making ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD!
  • I have an outline for the entire year.
  • I have the year divided into terms.
  • I have the entire first term planned out on one spreadsheet.
  • I have Daily Checklists for the Hippie, the Princess and for the Family.
  • The Daily Checklists are for the entire 12 week term on ONE page.
  • I have the days labeled as "Day 1", "Day 2", "Day 3" and "Day 4" instead of "Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday" and "Friday".
Having this all laid out in advance is a life-saver. It is allowing us to get what needs to be done DONE even when there are stumbles in our path. For instance, this week we had an impromptu field trip to the zoo with our homeschool adventures group. We usually do all of our "adventures" on Thursday, but this was on a Tuesday. Now, if I had certain subjects scheduled for "Tuesday", I would have had to choose between enjoying the fun and doing school. Luckily, I did not have to make that choice. We went to the zoo and we did "Day 2" today. No worries. It's also a beautiful thing to have it all laid out so that I don't have to think. If I'm not feeling well or one of the children aren't feeling well (as was the case today), we can still get it done because it is not hard to curl up on the couch (pjs and all) and "just do it" ... when it is already planned!

This morning my oldest woke up with a tummy ache. On a normal school day, there is no TV. On a normal school day the girls come out dressed and beds made, ready to get to it. We do our chores and get to work and follow the schedule. Today, there were pajamas and Mythbusters before school and breakfast was at a different time and things were all muddled up, but we still managed to do every . single . thing on the list. And, that glorious feeling that comes with getting it all done was enough to make my daughter feel wonderful after school. Now, I have two blissful children playing WILDLY .... afternoon is FREE for play ... and school is already finished.


So, would you like access to my amazing files? My big secret? I've been trying to figure out how to post them for you to see. Let me try. If I can get them posted on here, you are welcome to use them to enjoy the same joys in your own homeschool.

You can look here for our plan for the school year.

You can look here for my plan for the first term.

You can look  here for the daily checklists for our family, the Hippie and the Princess.


As far as HOW to use these ... I am training the girls to be responsible for their own lists while I worry about the Family list. Each day, we work our way through the day's work ... whatever DAY is next. If something comes up and we can't do school one day, we simply pick up the next time wherever we were. As far as WHAT to do, if I don't already know, I look at the plan for the first term. It will tell me which chapter to read.

For Art, I didn't put the of the actual prints we will study on the term plan, but I have 12 prints by Renoir. I had an old calendar of Renoir paintings. I cut each one out to fit into a page protector and placed them in my binder. We now have 12 Renoir paintings to study this term. I can decide which one to do each week ... whatever strikes me. Today we studied the painting entitled "Two Sisters" ...

For Music, I didn't put the actual information on the term plan spreadsheet, but I did divide the 12 weeks into three 4 week chunks ... four weeks on Peter and the Wolf, four weeks on the the Pet of Met and Magic Flute Operas and four weeks on the Hansel and Gretel opera. For the specific plans each week, you can see my page at the top entitled Music Study. This term we are mostly introducing the orchestra and opera and general music appreciation. We will begin true Composer Studies next term.

For Nature Study, I only put ideas where they fit with the plans for Outdoor Secrets. For the other weeks, we will either follow some other ideas I have here (from Oak Meadow or from Simply Charlotte Mason) or we will follow the Outdoor Hour Challenge. My primary goal for Nature Study is to DO it. Just to get outside somewhere with our nature notebooks and pencils and OBSERVE and draw.

For our Burgess Bird Study, we are keeping a Bird Book. We are reading through the Burgess Bird Book for Children (I have a beautiful OLD copy ... I love collecting my hundred year old books!). While we read, the girls are coloring a picture of the bird (coloring it true to life, not just however they want to). Once we have finished the reading and they have finished their coloring, we are listening to the birds' songs and calls online and watching any videos we can find. Then, the girls paste their colored birds into their "Bird Books" (sketchbooks) and fill in the background. The Princess then writes the name of the bird on the top of her page and the Hippie writes the name of the bird as well as a few facts about it. We are excited to have our own sort of "field guides" at the end of the year, filled with all of the birds that we learned about.

My literature plans only list what Momma is reading during the day. We have an additional read aloud going all the time that Daddy reads at night. For instance, right now the girls and I are reading Little House in the Big Woods while Daddy is reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at night before bed. It's nice for them to hear both styles of reading, it's good practice for Daddy (lol) and it's a break for my vocal chords (seeing as how I am reading aloud to them all.day.long.).

As for the rest of it, we do most all subjects the same way ~ Momma reads aloud and the girls take turns narrating (telling me what they learned from whatever I just read). I ask for oral narrations from Bible, History, Geography and Nature stories. Literature and poetry are for enjoyment only. Speaking of which, the spreadhseet says "four poems per week" for the poet. In actuality, we just read some poems each day ... so far we've done more like 4 poems per day. They beg for more, but I'm not complaining. Speaking of "begging for more" ... the Hippie BEGGED for "just one more lesson" in her English book today. And begged some more. Again, no complaints here! 

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate. I just wanted to attempt to share what is working for us. If I can help just one other struggling Homeschool Momma, I'll be happy.

Of course, all of this is only possible because God's light shines through me. Give thanks for that!

Many blessings to you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Habit Forming ... One at a time.

"The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children."

Charlotte Mason was clear. She told us that the choice was ours. We could either ensure smooth and easy days or long and stressful ones. It all depends on the habits we train our children to follow.
Well, I think that is most certainly true. But, I believe it actually must begin with the habits that we as mothers form for ourselves. If we "take pains to endow" ourselves with good habits, we are then strong enough to train our children in the way that they should go.

These are some of the thoughts that began swirling in my mind a few weeks ago. I set out to form some new habits of my own, while simultaneously doing my duty as a mother to train my children in habits of their own.

But, I am wise enough to know that I am human. I cannot expect myself to make a list of ten new habits and start them all at the same time. I cannot expect to form many new habits at one time if I want them to STICK.

So, I set out to make some significant changes in my life. I wanted to:
  • Form the habit of spending time with GOD each and every morning.
  • Form the habit of SCHOOL each and every day, making education a part of life.
  • Form the habit of REGULAR EXERCISE.
  • Form the habit of eating better, drinking more water and just plain taking better care of my body.
  • Form the habit of SCHEDULE.
  •   Form the habit of always greeting my husband at the door with a smile and kiss.
  • Form the habit of spending some sort of focused time with my children each and every day in addition to school.
  • Form the habit of a clean and tidy home, good organization, less clutter, treating my job as a homemaker as a JOB.
  • Form the habit of taking time for ME each day. This one is hard for me to even type ~ it sounds so selfish. But, I am wise enough to know that my family needs me and needs me to be happy and healthy in order to take care of them, to love them (you cannot give what you do not have to give) and to provide a warm and inviting life for them.
So, those were some of the things floating around in my brain. As I stated in a previous post, I was wise enough to know where to start ~ with GOD.
They say it takes three weeks to truly form a habit. I can say from experience that this is true. I know that because I have never stuck with anything long enough to form the habit! But, alas I am on a new road. I know it. I can feel it in my core.
Rather than wait a true THREE WEEKS to even begin each new habit, I vowed to FOCUS on just the one habit at a time, while also attempting to begin some of the others. I am happy to report, though, that through God's grace, more than one habit seems to be forming at a time.
I started with GOD. It all starts with GOD.
He was gracious enough to allow HIS light to shine through me, allowing me to see my life and my duties in a new way. Through HIS light, I naturally became a better mother, a better wife, a better person. Through HIS light, some of the habits I wasn't even "working on" have begun.
So, as it stands, I have spent time with God each and every morning for one week. My girls and I have practiced our schedule and done our chores with (mostly) joy and a good attitude. I have loved my husband more deeply, been a more patient mother to my children and a better homemaker. My home has been cleaner, my family has been happier, my home has been warmer.
And, that is all in only one week.
God's grace is amazing when we ask HIM for it!
So, week two we have begun habit number two, while continuing to work on the first one. We have begun our new school year. And, as above, it has been glorious. Attitude makes all the difference in the world. MY attitude! And, it certainly helps to be completely PLANNED  and ORGANIZED for a change. I have a feeling our ride is taking a turn for the better. And, that makes me one happy homemaker!
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