Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fun this Fall

Angry Pirates

Leaf Shoes

Making Leaf Shoes for Tricky

Umbrella Tree

Gingerbread Toffee Chocolate Cake from Dec 2011 Southern Living

Photo Shoot - this is our Christmas Card picture

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly (hmmm) Report: October 6 through October 30 - Weeks 10, 11, 12, 13, it's been a while.  I knew this would happen.  I get involved with other things (like reading 1,000 page books [World Without End by Ken Follett]) and I neglect my blog (and Facebook, too).  However, just a few weeks have gone by rather than the one year hiatus I took a while back.

The kids have been busy - playing some, learning a lot, reading like mad, and immersing themselves in music.  Will has really blossomed - in his piano playing, reading, and singing.  (His voice teacher LOVES his vibrato!)  Casey is reading everything she can get her hands on, and Tricky is learning to read (she wants to be able to read to Chaucer).

Last weekend we went to visit family in Louisiana.  I had hoped to take the kids by Vicksburg, Mississippi - since we just studied the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg - however, the weather had other plans for us.  [Traipsing around a national park battlefield in the cold rain is not my idea of fun, so we skipped Vicksburg.]  We did get to go to the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge!  So. Much. FUN!!!  There were booksellers, authors, publishers - storytelling, children's writing workshops...  All in front of the Louisiana Capital - which we went into and went to the lookout at the top.  One of the exhibits was called What do you GEEKIf you wrote "I geek _________" on a wall, they gave you a t-shirt, bookmarks, backpacks, etc.  I said that I geek homonyms.  I do...

All of my life, well since I was about 10, I've been wanting to keep a list of homonyms - so  I finally started.  (Yes, I'm realizing one of my life's dreams... I tend to dream BIG!)  My list is kept in a spiral notebook and is in alphabetical order, mostly to avoid homonym repeats.  The kids have been constantly giving suggestions; Tricky's are some of the best:  "Mommy, how about cookie and cookie?"  "No, Trick, that's the same word with the same meaning."  My recent additions (because this is something I tend to obsess over and have scraps of paper everywhere with list possibilities) are:  grease - Greece; tacks - tax; pedal - petal.  Yes, I give an allowance for colloquial pronunciations; I do have some (but not many) proper nouns; and I have various self-imposed restrictions, such as I can't research homonyms, they must come naturally.

Here are some pictures from the past few weeks.  Enjoy!

Chaucer participating in the voice lesson warm-up.

Decorating cookies (otherwise known as Making a HUGE Mess)

Hard tack.  Part of our Civil War they could see what the soldiers subsisted on.  It was actually pretty good with the chicken soup I served with it.

A Physics experiment:  inertia

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekly Report: September 29 - October 2, 2011 (Week 9)

I missed my Week 8 update.  In short, the highlight of that week was the Lowe's Build & Grow project - a firetruck.  Not only did Lowe's let kids build free firetrucks, but our Lowe's had Safety Day as well.  The kids got to climb in an ambulance and a firetruck, see two K-9 deputies (one used for catching and subduing suspects and the other used for tracking), and have their fingerprints taken and handed over to me for safekeeping.  The store was also having a scavenger hunt for safety items to be used around the home.  The kids had a GREAT time!

As for Week 9, we spent much of the week working on a project. Our homeschool group had a Geography Fair this past Monday night - and our family's location of choice was India.  We borrowed Indian clothing, I made Chicken Tikka Masala, and we played music on the iPod from Lagaan (a FABULOUS movie, by the way).

Each project's presenter spoke for a few moments about the country they chose.  When it came to Casey, Will, and Tricky... well... it was interesting.  For example, when Casey was telling a little about Gandhi, Will piped up and told everyone, "He was in JAIL!"  Yes, that is what my sweet 6 year old son learned about Gandhi - he was incarcerated.  My son seemed scandalized - I spent quite some time afterward explaining to Will why Gandhi had been imprisoned.

We've started working on a lot of memorization - a. lot.  This is an area where I've slacked off the last couple of years...and I think I'm making up for it.  We've got all sorts of things going:  prayers, Bible verses, poetry, things in other languages (Spanish and Latin). 

Tuesday was the Feast of St. Francis.  The kids made St. Francis figures at church on Sunday - except for Chaucer.  I made him an Elmo.  He REALLY likes Elmo.  In fact, people know of how much he loves Elmo, they've started giving him various Elmo goodies - books, coloring books, toys.  And, he's very proud of his new Elmo jammies!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Happy Marriage

"Do you have a happy marriage?"  A divorcing client recently asked me this question.  It's not the first time a client in that situation has asked me if my marriage is a good one and, if so, how do I do it.  I answer with a "Yes" and usually follow it up with "It takes work to make a happy marriage - work from both spouses."

The answer I would like to give is more involved...

A good marriage takes work.  That work begins before a couple marries.  I've seen people who dated six weeks before exchanging vows have a marriage that lasts decades.  I've seen people who date for ten years before their wedding yet divorce within the first year after their nuptials.  While being with someone a set amount of time before getting married may have some influence on the length of a marriage, I completely believe that the expectations the couple has for their marriage has more of an impact. 

Before my husband and I married, we were required to attend Pre-Cana - a marriage course/counseling a couple is required to attend before getting married in a Catholic Church.  What a wonderful experience that was!  While Pre-Cana may mean several sessions privately with a priest or deacon or a weekend retreat led by clergy with other couples planning to get married, our Pre-Cana was a series of weekly sessions led by a couple in our church who had been married for some 20 years.  Our priest would talk with us on occasion about our progress through the Pre-Cana course.  I recall meeting with our mentor couple - discussing our plans for a family, parenting styles, finances, future employment, our expectations from one another.  It was a slow, time-consuming process [that is said with fondness, not complaint] that forced us to contemplate things that would happen in our marriage - and prepare us for the way we would handle the unexpected.  While Pre-Cana cannot coach a couple into knowing every pitfall that might creep up during a lifelong marriage, it does give a couple the knowledge that there will be good times and bad times, and you've got to work through it all...together.

Another thing Pre-Cana taught us is that our marriage is a marriage of three - me, my husband, and God.  Personally, I think it's hard to expect a marriage to work if God is not part of "the deal."  I have been to country club weddings, hotel ballroom weddings, waterfall weddings - and I always have a bit of an empty feeling.  Sometimes there is an invocation and God is mentioned, but there is a lack of the holy, sacramental nature of the ceremony without the church setting.  Without the presence of God, even from the outset, I think the parties to the marriage are going to have to work even harder still than those with a marriage where God is part of that marriage of three.

So, while I know not every couple getting married has the benefit of Pre-Cana, I do believe every couple should take advantage of religious pre-marital counseling. 

It's unfortunate that women (and sometimes even the men) get caught up in the wedding ceremony.  This is NOT the premarriage work I discussed above.  Couples (and/or their parents) spend thousands, if not multiples of thousands, of dollars for one day.  Let me say that again.  ONE.  DAY.  Many of those same couples do not take the time to look beyond that day - or to look beyond that day together.  Months spent buying flowers, trying on dresses, picking colors, registering for gifts, interviewing photographers, and tasting cakes; however, planning for their futures - the highs and lows, the stops and starts - never enters into their minds.  News flash:  The size of the wedding and the money spent do not relate to the length of the marriage!

I have many more opinions on the matter, but time and my unwillingness to sit at my computer any longer today, are drawing this little diatribe of mine to a close.  So, I'll end with this...

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  -Matthew 19:6

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekly Report: September 15-19, 2011 (Week 7)

We had a family outing on Saturday afternoon. We decided to go on a hike, so we drove to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. We arrived just as the US Forest personnel were leaving for the day. On top of the mountain, the shop was closing and the flag was coming down. My children asked why the flag had to be taken down, so I gave them a mini-lesson on American flag etiquette. A few things popped to mind: don't fly flag during rainstorms, don't fly flag at night unless lit by spotlights, don't let flag touch the ground, fold the flag a certain way, etc. The Forestry workers asked the kids if they wanted to help, so they gladly, proudly joined in the flag folding.

Casey, as part of First Language Lessons Level 4, memorized Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Will, as part of FLL Level 2, memorized The Goops. I'm glad they are back to memorizing poetry and Bible verses - it's been a while.

Our nanny picked up my camera one day this past week and took this picture of Chaucer's hands. It's just so sweet, I had to post it!

I decided to throw in a picture of Casey at karate. I had my camera in the car when I took the kids to karate on Tuesday, so I brought it in. I got some great shots, but this was my favorite.

Not a complete recap, but just enough...

Monday, September 19, 2011

On (My) Writing

Nothing warms my heart more than seeing a look of understanding flash across my children's faces when they truly get something. I can almost see the cartoon lightbulb clicking on over their little heads.

Recently, I had my own "a-ha!" moment. I have finally begun to truly define my strengths and weaknesses. I read blogs where women describe their home schools, their days, their lives with beautiful, flowing prose and possessing a command of descriptive language I wish I could master. My discovery about myself is that I write in more concrete, black and white terms. My forte is legalese. On a daily basis - well, on a workday daily basis, I bandy about such phraseology as, "The parties having come on for hearing and the Plaintiff having been represented by counsel and the Defendant having acted pro se, and the Court having heard and considered the evidence presented thereto, finds and concludes as follows," or, "Please see a copy of Exhibit A which is attached hereto and incorporated as if fully set forth herein". You know, lofty language drilled into me by three years of law school, three years of writing for judges, and six years of private practice. And, no, I didn't copy that stuff out of a book; it oozes from my fingertips at least three days a week.

So, as much as I wish I could flourish adjectives about as if they were rose petals donning my nook on the internet (hey, that wasn't too bad for a Black's Law Dictionary junkie), I will settle for my lackluster but (hopefully) grammatically correct entries.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Weekly Report: September 8-11, 2011 (Week 6)

Busy week, both academically and socially... We're making progress through our subjects, albeit, not quite on the schedule I created last spring. Life takes over and we have to stray from the plan. However, the reason I make the plan is to guide me and help gauge just how far off course I'm getting. So far, I'm only a few days off the mark. (That's why I've built in a lot of slow weeks to use as catch up days or to give us a break if we're on track - usually more of the former than the latter.)

On Friday, we went to the park and met up with our homeschool group. It was pleasant to spend a couple of hours talking to the other moms while
our kids played, screamed, and ate watermelon. Chaucer ate A LOT of watermelon!

On Saturday morning, Richard took the kids to L0we's to build a police car. We discovered the Bui1d & Grow activities last spring. My children have made more wooden contraptions than we have room for, but they enjoy building something they can play with - and I like i
t because it's FREE! I didn't go on this excursion because the homeschool group was hosting an introduction to homeschool "how to" seminar for the community. I was on hand to help explain the law, but it was thoroughly covered by a couple of moms who have been homeschooling for many years. Four moms were there wanting to learn about homeschooling. Exciting! Sunday, we opened our digital microscope. I snagged this from Amaz0n a few weeks ago for $15 (including Prime shipping)! We looked at everything from a dead spider to money to Chaucer's belly button.

Speaking of Chaucer, he started sleeping in his own (well, shared with his broth
er) bedroom this week! My little boy is sleeping in his bottom bunk bed - and is staying ALL NIGHT!!! (Even though I cosleep with my babies from the time they are born, they have all been out of my bedroom well before they turn 2!)

On Monday, I didn't go to work (I have a seminar in Atlanta this weekend). I wanted to make it a special day. After starting school early and working through breakfast, I surprised the kids by loading them up and taking them to the park. The kids did their various Languag
e Arts subjects for well over an hour, we had a snack, then played for an hour. It was so much fun - and we were the ONLY ONES there!!! The weather was perfect for homeschooling in the park - I'm surprised there weren't other mommies there, especially ones with babies and toddlers!

Our week concluded with Casey, Will, and Tricky's performance at a county fair. They sang "So Long, Farewell" from "The Sound of Music." The hours of singing in the car and rehearsing in the kitchen and living room showed!

Monday, September 12, 2011


My four year old, Tricky, asked a question this evening: Who do you like better, Guy Fawkes or Justin Bieber?


Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekly Report: September 1 - 4, 2011 (Week 5)

For Labor Day weekend, we decided to be "one with nature" and go camping! We drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Pisgah, North Carolina, on Friday.

Upon our arrival, there were only few tent sites available - and those, only for one night. There were several RV sites available for 3 nights, but we would have to put our tent on the pavement (ouch!). We drove around, searching out the tent sites. We came upon the first couple we knew were available, but weren't impressed with what those sites had to offer, so we kept driving. As we rounded corner after corner, the sites the Ranger marked as open had just been taken. By the time we revisited those first two tent sites, they had been snagged, too! So, we opted for an RV site - yes, we'd have to pop the tent on pavement, but at least we wouldn't have to move after the first night.

You know, having the tent on the pavement wasn't too bad... At least Richard and I had an air mattress! (No, our children weren't deprived... they had plenty of padding beneath their sleeping bags - and Casey even CHOSE to sleep without the padding!

Our first night there, Richard made a dinner that was nothing short of amazing! Using sausage, carrots, potatoes, onion, broth, and seasoning, he created a heavenly meal for us. Everyone LOVED it! (I even ate my carrots and potatoes... I usually loathe and despise vegetables, but these were great!)

On Saturday morning, hiked up Frying Pan Trail with a group led by a Ranger. The children were very inquisitive and chatty and, between the Ranger's discussion and my children's questions, we learned a lot about the various flowering plants and trees on the trail.

Saturday evening, after having hot dogs, baked beans, and Richard's cast-iron-dutch-oven cornbread (FABULOUS!), we (unfortunately) attended a Campfire Conversation headed by possibly the most incompetent Ranger I've ever encountered. Not only could she not get her campfire started (despite having dry wood, dry leaves, newspaper, several kitchen lighters, a box of matches, and an audience member's lighter), but she was positively the worst ghost story teller I've ever heard. We can't even get qualified storytellers out of our government! Because Chaucer started shining flashlights in people's faces and due to his being an especially unruly toddler when forced to sit still and listen to bad storytelling, the children and I left. (Richard left out of disgust, I believe, after the Ranger couldn't start her fire.) Despite their cries of the unfairness and injustice wrought upon them by their parents, the kids enjoyed the replacement entertainment: s'mores by our own ROARING campfire.

Sunday, we traveled up the Parkway to Mount Mitchell. Stopping at several sites along the way - including a few overlooks and the Folk Arts Center - our stay at Mitchell was brief. We had planned to have a picnic lunch, but it started raining as we pulled into the parking lot. We ran up to the top, snapped a few photos, then walked briskly down to our car where we ate our lunch in the cramped confines of our Highlander. On the way back to Pisgah, we stopped at Craggy Gardens so I could stamp my Park Passbook in the visitor's center. Guess who I should see as I'm walking in? None other than my "favorite" Ranger who can't start a fire!

Raining the entire trip back to Pisgah, Richard and I decided that we shouldn't stay another night. We had a few educational moments during that drive back - explaining to the children how flash floods work [despite a very impassioned argument by Will who said that God sent the rainbow promising not to flood the earth again - and my explanation that the rainbow doesn't mean God can't flood a mountain].

After making another wonderfully filling dinner, this time of chicken breast cooked in sweet tea and a mixture of tomato sauce and spices, we packed up our things and headed home.

Our weekend was full of camping, the outdoors, games, nature studies, and various interludes of my reading about spies of the Civil War and Isaac Newton. I love homeschooling!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weekly Report: August 25-28, 2011 (Week 4)

Free play at the college
Homeschool group picnic

That's what we did for week 4! Well, that and some school. We got our hours in, but with all of the running around, I don't feel as though we accomplished much - short of some math, spelling, grammar, reading. We did our Civil War and Physics lessons, but they were a bit lackluster this weekend, if only due to the fact that we didn't have time for the activity/experiment. So, I'm planning on reviewing those lessons in Week 5.

We did, however, have fun at two of the activities. (The dentist visit was helpful, but not exactly fun; and I think the kids are over going to C0stc0 with me, but we must eat!) The play was The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. It was cute, interactive, and the kids had a blast. We took a friend with us and all of the kids, even Chaucer, enjoyed the entertainment - and my kids always have to put their 2 cents in (thank goodness it was "interactive," so responses from the audience were welcomed).

The homeschool group picnic was fabulous, too! We saw some friends we've made in the past few months and made new friends, too! I'm so looking forward to all of the activities and gatherings planned for the school year. (And to all the homeschooling nay-sayers who criticize homeschooled children for lack of socialization: there are over 75 kids in this group!) So excited!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I sat on my driveway yesterday evening, with my youngest on my lap, my husband by my side, and my other children surrounding me, as we watched hummingbirds fly around the trees, dip down to sip from the feeder, then gently land on a limb. I am so happy, so blessed, and so fulfilled.

If there was ever a moment I wish I could have captured on film it would be that one... Not photographing the five or so hummingbirds as they flitted about, but my family - our faces, our love, our commitment, our contentment.

In that moment, there were no worries...only pure joy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just wondering...

* Why do television shows, movies, and the like say "GSW" for gun shot wound. It actually takes longer to say the abbreviation. Think about it: jee-ess-du-bul-yoo (okay, don't shoot me over my pitiful phonetic spelling; just roll with my point) versus gun shot wound. See? (This is truly a distraction for me when viewing a show.) By the way, I understand that writing it is shorter, but saying it is not.

* Why do people post on their Facebook statuses the fact that they are on some remote beach somewhere, completely shut off from their homes? Yes, generally the people we are friends with on Facebook are (or should be) our true friends. However, as my husband is quick to point out, your friend may have just moved a troubled [Read: criminal history] juvenile into their home. Said juvenile may be reading over your friend's shoulder, committing your name and the fact that you just posted you are on a cruise ship parting the seas toward the Bahamas to memory. The same juvenile may later hop on the internet and find out where you live (it's not a difficult thing to do, right?) and may, with his or her similarly situated juvenile (delinquent) friends, pay your empty home a visit. After all, if you can afford a cruise to the Bahamas and have a house which will be empty for 7 days, 6 nights, you probably have some hockable goods in your home. That said, wait until you're back from vacation to tell us all about it, 'kay?

* How can I train my toddler to fall on his knees instead of his face? I know it is not unusual to have a toddler with a forehead bruise from time to time - I've had three previous toddlers. However, the current toddler is particularly prone to using his head as a buffer between the rest of his body and the ground he is barreling toward. I just need suggestions, short of his wearing a hockey mask full-time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Enforcer

I've recently gone through a Renaissance of my own making - I've changed the way I an extent. I'm trying to be more creative with the punishments I dole out. I've never been one for the hot sauce/liquid soap on the tongue approach. Further, our lifestyle simply doesnt lend itself to punishments such as taking away television (we don't watch TV) or grounding from playing with friends (we want to preserve the few friendships our kids have, not to mention when you have several children around the same age, those children ARE friends).

Here are a couple of the new punishments I've recently tried:

* My oldest child called one of her siblings a name. As her punishment, I had her look up that name in the dictionary. For that particular word, there were three definitions. After each definition, I asked Casey if her sibling was [insert definition here]. Then I had Casey write the definitions and, twenty-five times, had her write "My sister is not a ___________."

* The children have started glaring and/or staring at each other and making the staree whine to me that they are being stared at. (Ugh! I really hate this one.) So, yesterday when this occurred, I had the two children involved sit on the sofa and stare at each other for 20 minutes - no talking, no complaining - just staring. They HATED it!

* My biggest misbehavior pet peeve is when the children argue in our vehicle when I'm driving. I used to give them a warning or two, then pull off the road. Lately, I've begun, without prior warning, to find a parking lot to park in and we sit and wait until the argument is over. I say nothing. They get the hint quickly.

* Putting dirty laundry away is a challenge for one of the kids. Earlier this week, instead of getting onto him about it, I had Will pick up his dirty clothes. He then had to walk with each article of clothing, to the washing machine, back to his closet, put the dirty article in the hamper, take it out, then walk to the washing machine again. He did it 10 times per article of clothing not picked up.

I haven't yet figured out what to do about the wrestling around on the floor which usually results in someone receiving some minor injury. I have told them that if they roll around on the floor not to complain if they get hurt (unless, of course, someone is bleeding or broken). That solution isn't working well.

Now, maybe they'll start to heed my warnings or, better yet, will do things the first time they are told!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SOTW & Netflix: Updated Movie List

I have updated my SOTW & Netflix Movie List. Movie List here. Please note that if I have a movie marked as being available on Watch Instantly, it may not be so now. I had that experience 5 days after I began working on this list - 2 of the movies I wanted to watch had been available when I made the list, but when it was time to watch them, neither was available!

I hope this helps!

I have a disclaimer (of sorts) on the first page, which I will reprint here:

* This list does not have the blessing of the author of SOTW nor the owners of Netflix. It is my own original creation using the resources provided to or purchased by me.

* I have not seen all of the movies listed herein. I simply culled the books and the website to find movies compatible with many of the topics covered. I do not claim to know the content of the movies I've listed.

* I have tried to list the MPAA ratings for the movies, if the same was provided. Please be aware that what the MPAA declares may be appropriate for children (i.e., with G or PG ratings) may not be appropriate for your family. There are some movies listed here that are rated R. I have listed the documentaries either as "doc" or "NR" (not rated as shown on the Netflix site). Also, some of the older movies listed may be rated NR. A "not rated" rating does not necessarily mean that it is appropriate for children. ANI means animated.

* Rely on your own discretion, not mine!

Weekly Report: August 18-21, 2011 (Week 3)

Our third week of the new school year has brought an exciting change: Tricky has decided to take Karate with her brother and sister! This was a happy revelation - I've been "working on" Tricky off and on for many months now, but gave up several weeks ago. I wanted her to take Karate for several reasons including the fact that it wouldn't cost us any more per month and it would give her some structured physical eduction. On her first night, I could tell that she has been watching her siblings for a year - and she had a BLAST!

We didn't get as much done this weekend as I had hoped. I had to go to court on Thursday - yes, I occasionally visit the courtrooms of the circuit in which I practice. I've been going in far more frequently than I had in the past. Going to court has given me more confidence in myself and my abilities; I credit my recent appearances with giving me the courage to take to the stage with my children and perform. No, one doesn't have much to do with the other, except that for a woman previously cloaked in the veil of severe stage fright, I have found a calm place I can tap into and bring that calm to the surface. Fear abates, butterflies subside, and I can handle people watching me, expecting from me, criticizing me, applauding me. (And it's a bit of a rush, too!)

We started the Civil War study in earnest. I love it! The kids were surprised and entertained at my attempts to let them know the various theories of what a rebel yell sounded like. We performed a few physics experiments with states of water. Casey complained about math while Will begged for more and Tricky asked, expectantly, when she will start ("At the beginning of September"). We didn't cover as much Spanish as I had hoped, but we plugged through our Language Arts subjects.

I was able to point out a painful truth about public school versus home school. On Friday, a little girl who lives a few doors away came over at 1:00. She is home schooled, too, by the way. I was starting lunch and invited her to stay. After we ate, I let the kids run through the house - and as they did so, they were screaming at the tops of their lungs. (No, this doesn't bother me; I wasn't allowed to have friends over and scream, and since it was a bit too warm for the kids to play outside, I didn't mind.) At 2:00, I asked them to stop and take notice. Knowing that, at times, these children wonder about the "mysteries" of public school (you know, the whole grass-is-greener mentality), I said to the kids, "You know, public school has started again. Do you think the public school kids are running around their houses screaming and playing? Or, do you think they are sitting at their desks, doing work, waiting for 3:00 when they can finally go home for the day?" I think I made my point! :)

Well, onward to week 4!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekly Report: August 11-14, 2011 (Week 2)

We had a good weekend. We're starting to settle into our routine. Although I don't get a lot of down time on the weekends, I am quite productive - with the possible exception of getting the laundry done (or, um, started). My husband needed khakis, Tricky had no jammy pants, and Casey complained that she had no outfits that matched. So, laundry aside, things are happening at our house!

We continued the Modern Era of History by discussing Livingstone and Stanley. I have a post here on my blog with a link to a list of Netflix movies. I began updating that list and adding SOTW 4 movies a week ago. I had a Livingstone movie on my list that was available on "Watch Instantly." Well, by the time we were ready to watch the movie on Saturday, guess what? No longer on "Watch Instantly." Nice. Oh well...

I had a few battles with the children - all of them - over the course of the weekend. Most of the battles involved getting school work done in a timely fashion. I'm trying something new - no breaks between chunks of work if the kids dilly dally while doing their work.

The children and I took an impromptu, unplanned field trip to a courthouse in Homer, Georgia. While researching the Civil War, I learned that the Banks County Courthouse was built from 1860 to 1863 using slave labor. For a spur-of-the-moment trip, I'm happy I could find something to tie in our trip to something we'll be studying in the VERY near future.

The children are enjoying Spanish almost as much as History. Even Chaucer is getting in on the action - he now says "Hola" instead of "Hi!"

Good week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Report: August 4 - 7, 2011 (Week 1)

Our school year is off to a fabulous start (other than first-day toddler training)! To celebrate our first day, once we finished, we went to McDonald's for ice cream!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of our week, you may notice that the dates for our school week run Thursday through Sunday. I work three days a week so my (poor) children have school the other four days. Oh! They do an hour or so of extras on the days they are with their nanny. (They do get breaks, trust me!)

We all love History - our breakfast table subject - and we've started with Story of the World 4 this year. I have modified the material covered to expand the time we will be studying the Civil War (or the War Between the States as some of my friends are apt to say) and World War II. I've decided that we'll skip things like the Vietnam War and the couple of decades between the collapse of Communism in Europe and 9/11. The kids always enjoy the projects that go along with any given lesson - and this week's project was no exception. We made Enfield cartridges and compared the time to load an Enfield rifle versus loading a Brown Bess. Richard, our resident gun enthusiast, was more than happy to help make cartridges made of flour, wax paper, and tin foil, then load them into paper towel rolls!

Our other breakfast table subject (History gets 2 days, Science gets 2 days) is Elemental Science - Physics for the Grammar Stage. We explored states of matter with three experiments! Richard has been enlisted to help us do our projects this year and he seemed to enjoy lending a hand.

Now that Casey is in fourth grade, she is using Saxon 5/4. What a blessing! A year ago, thinking of what this year would be like with 3 kids doing different levels of math, I was struggling with the idea that school was going to take us 9 hours a day simply because of all the time spent on various maths. However, I bought the Saxon Dive CD and Casey has a more self-guided approach to math this year. Of course, I check over her work and pop over to make sure she's understanding the concepts taught.

Will's favorite subject is math, but he's not thrilled with Language Arts. I had used Rod & Staff materials for Grammar, Phonics, Spelling, and Writing with Casey, but I'm changing things up a bit for both Will and Casey. Spelling and Phonics is still courtesy of R&S, however, I'm test driving Writing with Ease and First Language Lessons. So far, I like both, but I'm concerned that FLL isn't as "hard core" as Rod & Staff for Grammar. Surprisingly enough, Casey said that she misses the work she did in the R&S Grammar books. ("WHAT?!?")

Tricky is learning how to read. I used "Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" with her older siblings, but I'm using "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading" with the Trick. She needs some additional attention to the sounds letters make and the first 26+ lessons of OPGTR do a wonderful job of it.

In addition to learning to read, Tricky will start Kindergarten Math (Saxon) at the beginning of September. She asks daily if she can start it, but I'm holding off until I get into the groove [I can't deny that Madonna - not the Blessed Mother - popped into my head as soon as I typed that] with everything else to introduce Math to Tricky.

I took Latin off our plate not far into last school year. I've replaced Latin with Spanish this year. So far the kids love it. I may spend 2 or 3 years on Spanish then tackle Latin again. There was just too much of a learning curve for me with Latin and, given my schedule and the fact I have NO TIME to learn Latin right now, I opted for a language I'm more comfortable with. We are using "Learning Spanish with Grace" - a Spanish program developed by a Catholic mom. I'm looking forward to taking the kids to a Spanish Mass once we learn more vocabulary and prayers.

Well, I'm off to work on organizing all of our materials and making a plan for our weeks to be spent on the Civil War. Good luck to everyone starting the new school year!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What about the toddler?

I have (as have legions of other homeschooling mommies) been asked, "What do you do with your toddler while you are homeschooling your other children?" I could give some lofty, intellectual answer that shows exactly how wonderful a mother-teacher-multitasker I am. I could say, I bounce him on my knee as we are studying Victorian Britain or he watches patiently as the kids are doing Spanish. Reality is this - during our first day of homeschool, Chaucer (19 months old):

Played in the dog's water
Put the dog's food in the dog's water
Colored on Casey's worksheets
Scribbled on a white bookshelf
Knocked a picture off the wall
Used Fisher Pri€e Little People to destroy the living room


Really... A YEAR?!

Well, almost a year...

I went away, but now I'm back. I decided to take a break right after that post in August 2010. Between work, school, kids, life - something had to give, so I stopped blogging. I hope to keep up with it, if anything, so that I can better chronicle my children's educations. I make a year-end portfolio for the older three and, sadly, a nice detail of what we did was missing - because I stopped blogging.

We're starting a new school year tomorrow and I'm beside-myself-excited! The kids, on the other hand ... not so much. Let me rephrase: Casey and Will are none too thrilled; Tricky, is quite excited since she has her own collection of school books. I hope the newness and curiosity sticks with the Trick for a while.

I'll update the sidebars with our books for this year, the kids' ages and interests, and (with any luck) some more up-to-date photos! My little weeds have grown quite a bit in the past year!