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!