Sarasota Reds vs. Daytona Cubs

We joined the other families in our homeschool baseball team for a game at Ed Smith Stadium tonight. Our team won, and our family had a fun. The whole atmosphere of the game was great; the cool fresh air, the excitement, the game announcer's voice reverberating, the hot dogs. . . I remember my folks bringing us to a game in Racine when I was growing up. It was the same thing. Minor league games are are the best. (And the boys understood a lot more now that they've been playing baseball, compared to their first taste of the classic American sport.)

2008-05-09 Sarasota Reds 3.jpg

2008-05-09 Sarasota Reds 4.jpg

2008-05-09 Sarasota Reds 5.jpg

2008-05-09 Sarasota Reds 10.jpg

2008-05-09 Sarasota Reds 13.jpg


May 08, 2008  |  Comments (4)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



An Election Lesson from My Boys

I woke up this morning to C7 pointing both thumbs at his chest and proclaiming in a radio voice, "I'm Duncan Hunter, man of the people."

Half-asleep, I asked "Duncan Hunter?"
"Yeah, he's running for president."
T10 chimed in, "Some people run for president just to promote their issue."
"What's Duncan Hunter's issue?"
"Immigration. And China."

When Hubby got home I told him of our conversation, and he explained that yesterday they learned about democratization. ETA: His lesson wasn't about Duncan Hunter, but about Andrew Jackson. . . C7 just combined the two.

Gotta love a dad that homeschools in an election year.


January 09, 2008  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



ThatMom Podcasts

For several months I've been listening to the weekly podcasts of ThatMom - homeschool mother and grandmother Karen Campbell. I've known Karen via her daughter for several years now. The podcasts are definitely included in my Mommy-Inspiration Files.

What I've really appreciated is how Karen keeps returning to the Gospel, and how the Lord is leading each of us in our respective families. Too often in homeschooling (and Christian parenting) there is the tendency to become ideological or strive to do everything "just right." In doing that, it is easy to adopt manmade standards and lose sight of our focus on Christ alone.

Karen and her guests come across as just another homeschool mom. Loving, imperfect, wanting the best for their children, seeking the Lord. In her tone, I hear the experience of a mother who has made it to grandmotherhood and the experience of a Christian who has made mistakes along the way and learned to lean into the Lord.

And for me, that is the encouragement I need.

ThatMom Blog
ThatMom Podcast Downloads


November 24, 2007  |  Comments (4)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Glimpses of Homeschooling

Today C6 read Ella Sings Jazz and Hubby taught the boys about the Harlem Renaissance.


October 22, 2007  |  Comments (0)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Poetry for Boys

As part of our homeschooling, Hubby has been reading poetry to the boys. Today he exegeted this gem from Kipling for them.

The Betrothed

“You must choose between me and your cigar.”

OPEN the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas—we fought o’er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie’s face.

Maggie is pretty to look at—Maggie’s a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There’s peace in a Larranaga, there’s calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away—

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown—
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o’ the talk o’ the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty—grey and dour and old—
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love’s torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar—

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket—
With never a new one to light tho’ it’s charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila—there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion—bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent—comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee’s passion—to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent ’em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o’ Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o’-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box—let me consider anew—
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba—I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I’ll have no Maggie for Spouse!

--Rudyard Kipling

Rumor has it A.A. Milne poems will be featured next week, in honor of R-almost-8's birthday.


February 15, 2007  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Stupide Chérie

I'm listening to Hubby teach the boys thier French lesson. We're using Easy French Junior. The main characters are a girl named Marie and a cat named Chérie.

Hubby takes great liberties in using the book's dialogue for teaching. This is part of the conversation I just overheard:

Marie: You are the worst French speaking French cat ever!
Chérie: What is your father's name?
Marie: What? You don't know? You live here! Mon papa s'appelle Jean.
Chérie: Your father's name is John?
Marie: Stupid cat! That's what I just said! Mon papa s'appelle Jean.
Kids repeat, Mon papa s'appelle John.

Honestly, the boys' accents are great and they are learning French so easily. But Hubby epitomizes the homeschooling axiom of the parent being master of the curriculum rather than the curriculum master of the parent.


September 08, 2006  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Kids and Cooking

J10 and T8 have been visiting these websites:

The Redwall Kitchen (Thanks to Chewymom and crew!)


August 28, 2006  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Cross-Cultural Experiences. . . Sorta. . .

Today I went with a friend and her boys to the local homeschool roller skate day.

Roller skating is almost as all-American as baseball and apple pie. It was a brand new experience for my three younger boys. Even though we've been back in the States for over a year, the boys are still having new "American" cultural firsts. A couple of weeks ago they were introduced to bowling.

We started by staying on the carpet and keeping balance on wheels. I instructed them to try to fall on their bottoms and not use their arms to block falls. We ventured out onto the floor after awhile. I skated once around with R7. A little bit with T8 (until I wiped out. Yeouch.) And C5 just dove in fearlessly.

They did great. Some trepidation, lots of falls--but by the time the age-grouped races came, they all participated. (And they each came in last for their age group. *L*) Yet I was so happy they were willing to take the risk of joining a race when they were so new to an activity.

I bet the homeschool organizers didn't realize just how educational an experience roller skating could be.


August 11, 2006  |  Comments (4)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Mail Call!

Woohoo! We got some fab deliveries today.

First was our order from Timberdoodle, and just like years ago, they still send Mrs. Grossman's stickers along with your receipt. I like little touches like that.

From Timberdoodle we received our math curriculum for this semester. We're trying something new for us--Developmental Math. I like that each child has his own workbook (rather than reusable texts, ala Saxon, which I'm biased against from my own childhood.) I liked the placement tests that are available online helped pinpoint the boys' strengths and weaknesses. After being in school for a year, I needed help to gauge what they needed. And an endorsement by Molly (who I "know" and respect) was the deciding factor in taking a risk in ordering a curriculum that was new to me.

Also enclosed was Le Français Facile, Junior, which was recommended by Timberdoodle. R7 has been asking to learn French since he was. . . oh. . . a verbal toddler or preschooler? Seriously, he's had an attraction to the French language and France since he was very little. Our trip to Paris only intensified it. Now that we are not living in a russophone country, we decided it was time to expand our linguistic horizons. Hubby has a good foundation in French (when he first started learning Russian, he spoke it with a French accent! *L*) I tried to teach myself French all throughout middle school, but didn't get very far. I need more than an autodidactic approach for languages. The "junior" edition seems very basic--just what we want for introducing all the boys (and me!) to French.

I also got a Christmas present for my folks! Not blogging it here, I like to keep surprises.

In addition to homeschool goodies, I received my Old Bisbee Roasters order of Ethiopian Natural Sidamo Organic and Sulawest Decaf coffee. Mmmmmm. . . Totally worth splurging on. (And free shipping!) I couldn't find the Ethiopian Sidamo when I looked online a week or so ago, so I called and spoke with Seth, the master roaster himself. He gave me great alternate recommendations. Gotta love the personal service. Oh, my coffee's brewed. Time to post.


August 09, 2006  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Homeschool Resources We Like: Bible and Theology

This is not an exhaustive list. Many excellent resources are not on this list, either because we haven't used them or because I don't remember them right now. Share some of your favorites!

Catechism for Young Children (free, online)

Little Pilgrim's Progress
(adaption by Helen Taylor)

You Can Change the World, Lame title, excellent missions book

Child's Story Bible, Vos

Trinity Hymnal


August 08, 2006  |  Comments (0)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



When I Was A Kid. . .

When I was a kid, school didn't start until after Labor Day, and wrapped up right about Memorial Day.

The school district in which we reside begins classes Monday. In the city just north of us, school started last week.

Homeschooling, we're following a more traditional calendar. Not quite waiting until Labor Day, but we aren't starting Monday. It's still summerime here!

For those who live in Florida, here's a sample letter of intent to file with your school district, as required by Florida state law. Thanks to the Learning and Families homeschool group for providing it online.


August 05, 2006  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Homeschool Goodies

Alright so it's already August 1st, and I just placed my first curriculum order. We're not rushing into things here. *grin* I've known of and loved Timberdoodle for since I first saw a catalog of theirs in 1989. We ordered math and French materials from them.

I still need to place an order with Veritas Press. The younger boys are going to continue with The Phonics Museum (which we used and loved with the older two.) We'll be using their New Testament and early American History materials.

Also, we picked up some goodies at the office supply store today. Printer paper, high quality colored pencils, composition books. As soon as we got home R7 asked, "Can I start writing in my journal?" The "do things orderly" me wanted him to wait until we "officially" started school. The unschooler in me said to him, "Go ahead!"


August 01, 2006  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Homeschooling Neophyte

Our first year of school-building-school was a success. It wraps up in two weeks. I cried when I realized that the boys' last day at our local Mennonite school will be May 18th.

Last week we talked with the boys' teachers and the school admissions officer, and alerted them that they would not be returning in the fall. I know I have at least one friend who is cheering, a victory for homeschooling. *grin*

As most schooling decisions, this one was complex with many factors. One of the factors was NOT a failure of the school they attended or any horrible stories about teacher incompetence or bullies or anything of that sort.

Sure, there were some things I rolled my eyes at about school this year. And some frustration on my part on a couple of the curriculum choices. But overall, our family's experience with the boys in private school was excellent. Each of the teachers was sensitive to our kids' strengths and weaknesses. The "gaps" in their education that I could acutely see last fall, have been filled. J9 can write in cursive, legibly. I think perhaps we should have handled grade placement a little differently for one of the boys at the beginning of the year. But, overall, an excellent year. The boys learned a lot, and this was the best choice for their transition year from Ukraine to the US.

But we will be homeschooling in the coming year.

All of a sudden I feel a bit overwhelmed and quite new at homeschooling--despite 16+ years involved with homeschooling, as a student, a teacher, a parent. And a bit scared at our competency at this. Concerned about finding a good routine. And brand new at all of this, in spite of it all.

I'll probably be blogging on this more soon. Or maybe not. I tend to be open and transparent online, but sometimes do keep things unpublished out of respect for my family and their privacy. Though, I think I'll be asking some h/s questions soon--I've found the blogging community to be an excellent (and efficient) resource that I'm thankful to have.

Note: Just for clarification. . . While I feel like a newbie at homeschooling right now, we've actually homeschooled the kids for years. This past school year was our first year of school-building-school. . .


May 05, 2006  |  Comments (9)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Green Building Links

Links for J9's Home Design Project:

Hurricanes and Dome Houses

Dome Houses Florida

Dome Home Strength


More Rastra, with Pics

Real Goods

Recycled Materials

US Green Building Council

Green Building for Kids

(Links and ideas courtesy of Papa John who is building a rastra house in Arizona.)


August 16, 2005  |  Comments (0)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



A Shiny Red Apple for the Teacher

So, I'm hanging up my homeschooling hat.

Hubby has been the boys' primary teacher since we returned to the States and has done a fantastic job. We've discussed and prayed and pondered what our children need during this time of transition. And here we are. The first day of school-building-school.

And there is this part of me that feels like now I'm going to be judged and rejected and mistrusted. . . No more a homeschooling mom. Losing those good Christian mother brownie points.

I've been involved with homeschooling for 16+ years. Doing research, rejecting highschool and being homeschooled myself, homeschooling family members, homeschooling my children. I'm a fan. I value understanding our children and nurturing who they are, as individuals.

My Dad and Mom passed on their values of the high worth of education. I remember checking out Greenway, the local public elementary school when we moved to a new town. It was depressing as heck. (Still is, a friend who taught there one year said.) We ended up in a tiny amazing Christian family-run school. My Dad taught high school there for awhile. We bought a building for the school to occupy and lived upstairs. All the while my folks were passing along the value of finding what is best for each child, each year.

And that changed throughout the growing up years for me and my siblings. Homeschooled, Christian schools--and even public and boarding schools.

Each child, each family, each year. . . Discerning the needs and finding the best situation for meeting those needs.

So I've been sniffing a bit as I'm laying out school clothes. Feeling emotional as I buy a list supplies from Target, rather than choosing curricula from an enticing catalog. Not quite ready to hug them and let them go in the morning. . . Yet peaceful and confident as I release them into their structured classrooms that this is the next Providential step for them.


August 08, 2005  |  Comments (30)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink




In Russian, the word that looks like TOCTEP is said and means "toaster." It's in a board book we own.

Today C4 sounded it out in English. T-oh-ck-t-ee-p. Doesn't make sense in English, but he READ it in English!


June 29, 2005  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Book Reviews by J8

Thanks to Diet of Bookworms, I have several Crossway children's books to review. I'll be posting my reviews as well as ones written by my oldest son, J8. These are his first two book reviews ever.

God Knows My Name
by Debbie Anderson

Personally, I think that it is short but good. And is recommended for ages 2 to 5. It will tell you in many different wys of how God knows everything.

Most of All, Jesus Loves You

by Noel Piper, Illustrated by Debby Anderson

I like that it says your family loves you but God loves you more. And is recommended for ages 2 to 5.


June 24, 2005  |  Comments (2)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



J8's Reading List

I kept meticulous records of what I read when I homeschooled in high school. I hadn't kept track of what I read before then--or very much since. I currently have a program on my blog (thanks to Tim) that lists my Amazon wishlist and the books I've read. It's been great.

I remember coming across my high school reading list a few years ago. It was so cool to read through the titles. I fondly remembered some of the books, and was surprised that I had read others (which were quickly forgotten.)

So, ever since J8 started reading I've tried to help him keep track of what he's read. He reads so fast, though, that it's been hard to do that (for him or me!)

I think I've found a system now for keeping up with it. On his daily homeschool checklist is now "Update Book List." All he has to do is pile the books on my desk and I spend a few minutes entering them into an Amazon "wishlist." But rather than a list of what he wants, it's a list of what he's read. The date I enter it is marked next to the book which provides a loose gauge of when he read it. We started this at the end of April, but have only recently been keeping it updated.

So, want to see what my oldest's reading interests are?

J8's Reading List

Update: Sparrow mentioned that she is redirected to her own wishlist instead of J8's. I changed the direct link, and if you still can't access it try to put "J8" in the search box where it says "Search for a Wishlist."


June 07, 2005  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Of Sea Monkeys and Magic Rocks

I had a healthy skepticism of commercially promoted toys when I was a kid. While some television commercials made an impact (I still drool when I see hot pizza on tv) I figured most toys were junk or overrated. What can I say? My folks were hippies.

Take Sea Monkeys. I never thought I'd get those cool looking, rainbow-colored, comic-book creatures from the ads. With only water and the "crystals" in your Sea-Monkey® kit, you will create INSTANT-LIFE®. Yes, singlehanded you will raise up the world's only living, breathing INSTANT-PETS® I figured at best, the brine shrimp might hatch.

Magic Rocks fell in the same category. Might look cool on tv, but come on, it's all hype. So when Uncle Shainey brought the boys Magic Rocks when he visited last summer, I put them on the shelf while the boys enjoyed the more immediate toys.

Last week, the boys brought the package of Magic Rocks to me and begged to try them. We've been homebound, with all the snow and cold. I figured the boys could use a little diversion (and extra "science.") I cautioned the boys that it might not work. . .


But it did! The kids watched the crystals growing and took turns babysitting the jar as they formed. Tomorrow morning we're going to play around with making sugar crystals, rock candy. (Homeschoolers, check out more on growing crystals.)

Update on Sugar Crystals:
Perhaps our family is just not fated to succeed in making Rock Candy. When I was a child and tried it, it turned moldy. Hubby tried it, and started a kitchen fire. The batch the boys and I worked on has not resulted in any crystals--simply a trap for sugar ants. *sigh* Maybe next time. . .


February 07, 2005  |  Comments (11)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



We're Reading Greek Myths

The boys are under the table with their bowls of borsch on their chair seats. I just heard one of them say, "We're hydras. . ." I guess eating under the table means they are in their cave.


January 30, 2005  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Brainerd and Catechisms

Jan. 18.

Prosecuted my catechetical method of discoursing. There appeared a great solemnity, and some considerable affection in the assembly. - This method of instructing I find very profitable. When I first entered upon it, I was exercised with fears, lest my discourses would unavoidably be so doctrinal, that they would tend only to enlighten the head, but not to affect the heart. But the event proves quite otherwise; for these exercises have hitherto been remarkably blessed in the latter as well as the former respects. -- David Brainerd's Journal

I've found that for me, doctrinal studies move my heart so much and not simply my brain. I remember reading the theology section in a textbook when I was 17 and feeling like I was rejoicing with the angels in heaven as I sat with my legs over the arm of my Dad's oversized recliner.

OKCalvin encouraged me several months ago to be sure that the boys were learning their catechism. We're using this Catechism for Young Children. The kids are definitely in the "Poll Parrot" stage, and like rhythmic recitation of the questions and answers.

At the beginning of the New Year, I started memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism via the plan found in TableTalk. (Yep, that's another plug--you really should subscribe.) I especially like this online version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism with the Bible proof texts listed in frames. Not this time around, but eventually I want to memorize those verses associated with each question.

And while I'm not sure whether Brainerd had simply a question/answer method of teaching or the Westminster Shorter in mind when he wrote in his journal, I've been as remarkably blessed, as he said.


January 18, 2005  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Teaching Multiplication

The boys have long known how to do skip counting for 2s, 5s, and 10s (ala Ruth Beechick) but only lately have I been introducing them to the more formal concepts of multiplication.

Tonight I was looking for some multiplication worksheets online and came across some great web resources: Activities, online and family games, printable workseets and other teaching ideas.

Multiplication Worksheet Creator: Lots of choices in customizing worksheets.

EdHelper Multiplication: Cut-n-paste their worksheets into Word to print. Illustrates with dots the basic multiplication concept.

Multiplication Worksheets: By number families.

Natural Math: Learning multiplication with minimal memorization. (via Rachel Ann.)


January 12, 2005  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink




One of J8's birthday presents was the dice game Yahtzee. I remember playing it when I was a child, and thought he'd enjoy it. The box said "Classic Yahtzee," and so I was surprised when I couldn't read the instructions. Russian, Czech, and two other languages I can't even identify. (Probably Hungarian and Finnish. . .)

I thought I could figure out the scoring in Russian, but then realized I had forgotten enough of the rules to make even that useless.

Google to the rescue! Full Yahtzee rules and explanation online, along with the illustrations I remember from when I was a kid.



January 03, 2005  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Happy New Year!

My boys, getting ready to go down to Independence Square for Yushchenko's inauguration and to welcome in the New Year!

More New Year's photos from Maidan, courtesy of Hubby.


December 31, 2004  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Playing School?

As I sit here and type, the boys are in the living room playing school.

In Russian.


December 18, 2004  |  Comments (4)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Pyramid Project


As we started back into our school routine yesterday, J8 and T6 build pyramids and a sphinx. We discussed how difficult these were to make with play dough and how the ancient Egyptians actually built them.

Later, they built pyramids with cuisenaire rods, and compared the structure of a step pyramid with an actual triangular pyramid.


October 13, 2004  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



W.H.S.A.E. Update

The Holland (Michigan) Sentinel first ran a shoddily-written op/ed about homeschooling. Then, they pulled the article because of a flood of letters.

And now, they have the article back up, along with many comments from readers here:

Homeschooling Robs Children


September 20, 2004  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (1)  |  Permalink



The Horrible, Disappearing Homeschool Article

As Christina pointed out in our discussion of this article, the Holland Sentinel removed Peggy Boyce's "Homeschooling Robs Children" editorial. But Chris O'Donnell e-mailed me a url for where it is posted down that was tracked down by TZB. Who, btw, confirmed the paper yanked it because they were flooded by e-mails from put-out homeschoolers.

If you really want subject yourself to this article, don't say I didn't warn you.

Original URL
Alternate Link 1
Alternate Link 2
Google Cached Snapshot of Article


September 17, 2004  |  Comments (24)  |  TrackBack (2)  |  Permalink



And the Winner is. . .

This article is vying for the distinction of being the Worst Homeschool Article Ever. Though, a close runner up might be this one.

Some gems from Peggy Boyce's Home-schooling Robs Children:

What an ego trip for a parent -- to be all things to your children, to control every thought, every concept that enters their world. Is this education, or programming? To deny them the stimulation of working and playing with their peers is unfair.

. . .

The real trip was for the mothers, who received the big emotional rewards. My response is: Mothers, get a life. How unfair it is for you to take away your own child's life in order to gratify yours? Is this what we must expect from the "me first" generation as it raises their families?

Power-tripping mothers and deprived home school children are welcome to comment.

(Via Paul via Chris via Daryl. I was surfing.)


September 16, 2004  |  Comments (7)  |  TrackBack (1)  |  Permalink



Ramblings on School Days

Today was our first "real" day back at school for the 2004-2005 school year. Between the Family Conference last week and the boys getting sick, we pushed off the start again, until today.

The little boys, C3 and R5, are still getting into the rhythm of dyetski sad. Bringing lunch in their lunch boxes is still the highlight of their day. (What wasn't the highlight of my day--finding a used "balloon" on the front steps of their school. I kicked it into the bushes.)

I'm amazed at how much easier it is to "do school" with only two children. Reading aloud to T6 and J8 went so much more smoothly, and the interruptions were question-asking ones as opposed to wiggly-children ones.

One of our family traditions is new toothbrushes for all major holidays--the first day of school, Christmas, birthdays. (And since there are spaced out throughout the year, it's a pretty effective toothbrush-replacement reminder.) Last week R5 saw some Winnie-the-Pooh toothbrushes. So this afternoon they were all presented with their Pooh, Piglet and Tigger toothbrushes.

The boys have a natural affinity for math. I've been concerned about missing any foundational steps, so we're still working through basic Saxon workbooks. But their mental math--wow! I'm really impressed and need to evaluate what would really be best for them. (I also realized the Saxon books I have are almost finished, and I need to order more.)

Our history/literature core is focusing on Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome--and the Bible history that corresponds to those times. For our Greece and Rome units, I'm drawing heavily from Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome. We also have some related Sonlight and Veritas Press resources, as well as a smattering of books we've found here. I'd like to order D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. Hubby is going to start back with historical bedtime stories soon. I'm toying with the idea of doing a little intro to Greek and Latin as we discuss those civilizations, but not focusing on the languages intensely.

J8 is a voracious reader. We're finishing up some of the phonics foundations with VP's Phonics Museum, and doing more reading comprehension and oral reading this year. T6 is reading, but hasn't really "taken off" yet--though I can sense he's just on the verge of it. We're also continuing to work on phonics with VP materials.

For our morning circle time, we're reading Bible stories related to the time periods we're studying, memorizing the children's catechism, learning some new hymns, reading some poetry, and working on the ABC Bible verses. I'm constantly amazed at how quickly and eagerly the boys memorize these! I have the catechism, hymns, and Bible verses printed out and in notebooks for each boy. (It's so weird to think back to how my Mom homeschooled us before computers. . .)

Notice the absence of any planned science. Important, of course, but not a big focus this year. We'll likely read a few Usborne and DK books and talk about whatever the boys are interested in. T6 loves whales and oceans, so I'm sure we'll be doing some informal schooling related to that.

I want to do more hand's-on learning related to art this year than last year. We have some great books and museum visits planned, but little experiential art. We're still considering music lessons. We know a great piano teacher, but the boys are also interested in violin and guitar. (And honestly, the lesson costs are much more affordable here than in the States.) We also have planned play dates with The Girls until they move--one of the highlights of our week.

Ironically, we are in desperate need of a family vacation after this crazy summer. We're still trying to firm up travel plans, but our big dive into school is going to be more like wading. . .


September 13, 2004  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Homeschool Prep

When the boys return from the seaside, we'll be dipping our toes into our new school year. (We hope to take a much-needed family vacation at the end of September.)

I've done some preliminary planning. The other night I came across Donna Young's Homeschool Forms. I really like them--Donna obviously has experience with homeschooling and organization, and a lot of the forms "fit" with the planning I've already done. I've printed several of the forms out, and now will transfer my scribbles on scratch paper onto these orderly forms and think through the remaining gaps in our plans.


August 30, 2004  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



What Kind of Homeschooler?

Salvador Dali Melting clocks are not a problem in
your reality. You are an unschooler. You will
tolerate a textbook, but only as a last resort.
Mud is your friend. You prefer hands-on
everything. If your school had an anthem, it
would be Don't Worry, Be Happy. Visit my blog:

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Oh yes, LOTS of mud. Lots of books, reading aloud, and relaxed schooling. I enjoy pulling ideas and educational theories together for the boys, and our schedule is very loose. But my truly unschooling friends would think I'm too schoolish. *g*

(via Carol and Jess)


June 15, 2004  |  Comments (17)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Homeschoolers: Witches and Zealots

I think Quinn Cotton was trying to be funny. Trying very hard. It didn't work.

The following ugly statements are from the editorial that recently appeared in Creative Loafing, an "alternative press" weekly in Charlotte, North Carolina.

a lot of the homeschooling faithful are as fueled by a fanatical, religion-based belief in their mission as Islamist terrorists, and seem to be just about as brainwashed.

. . .

Some of the homeschooling moms (HMs) are kind of witch-y, with the uncut hair and the long skirts because pants on females are unholy, but the description that really applies to this coven is "All of Them Zealots."

. . .

They're not only terrorist-like in their conviction that their calling is divinely ordained, homeschoolers also often have a broad martyr streak. Rather than suicide bombings, though, they commit "suicide book-learning," sacrificing their own lives to teach their kids.

. . .

What's really scary about homeschooling is what it can do to the sanity of a mother deluded into thinking it's her Christian duty. No woman was ever meant to be trapped in a house all day with children old enough to spell "homicide."

. . .

All young animals must be immersed in a mass of their peers so they can figure out what it means to function as a member of the larger group.

Ironically, I remember 15+ years ago, when homeschooling was more underground the neighbors thinking we were a little weird, but their usual concern was What about socialization? We've all heard that before.

Homeschooling has become so mainstream, that most neighbors are pretty accepting of it, and see value in it--even if they still think "I could never homeschool my kids."

Maybe that's Quinn Cotton's problem with homeschooling now. It isn't alternative enough.

(Via Ariana)


May 19, 2004  |  Comments (12)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



J7 the Brave

My oldest came up to me a minute ago, humming.

"Do you know the words to Scotland the Brave?"

"One day I want to take bagpipe lessons with Daddy in Scotland, and eventually be able to play Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes."

Hark, when the night is falling
Hear, hear the pipes are calling
Loudly and proudly calling
Down through the Glen.
There where the hills are sleeping
Now feel the blood a-leaping
High as the spirits
Of the old highland men.

Towering in gallant fame
Scotland my mountain hame
High may your proud standards
Gloriously wave!
Land of my high endeavor
Land of the shining river
Land of my heart forever
Scotland the brave!

High in the misty highlands
Out by the purple islands
Brave are the hearts that beat
Beneath Scottish skies
Wild are the winds to meet you
Staunch are the friends that greet you
Kind as the light that shines
From fair maiden's eyes.


Far off in sunlit places
Sad are the Scottish faces
Yearning to feel the kiss
Of sweet Scottish rain.
Where tropic skies are beaming,
Love sets the heart a-dreaming,
Longing and dreaming
for the homeland again.


Hot as a burning ember,
Flaming in bleak December
Burning within the hearts
Of clansmen afar!
Calling to home and fire,
Calling the sweet desire,
Shining a light that beckons from every star!



Update: Since posting this, the boys have gathered around the computer to listen to the tune linked above, and practiced humming it together. J7's been reading the words--but wants someone else to sing it because he wants to hum.


May 11, 2004  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Kool-Aid Play Dough

Kool-Aid® is a valued American commodity in our household for the aromatic and colorful properties it adds to home made play dough. The packaged dough gives me headaches, and so when I want to be a good-n-messy mama, I use this recipe:

Kool-Aid® Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 packaged unsweetened Kool-Aid®
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water

Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid® in a pot. Add oil and water. Stir over medium heat until texture changes and forms a ball in the pot, about 3-5 minutes. Let cool to touch. Kneed until smooth. Store in a platic bag in the fridge.

Notes: I usually double the recipe or make a bunch of batches at once. This can be made without the cream of tartar (which is a preserving agent.) You can also use glycerin or vinegar as a preserving agent. This has been a fun party favor with our Ukrainian kid-friends.


May 08, 2004  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (1)  |  Permalink



On Educating Men. . .

"And so it cheers me when I look at the growing number of young Christians involved in classical schools, parochial schools and homeschooling. Much of this education seems focused not only toward preparation for university, but preparation for manhood."

--Hubby, on why we homeschool


March 19, 2004  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



Pan is a tan-man-ram.

At the beginning of our school year, I asked each of the boys what they wanted to learn about. T6 mournfully said, "I want you to teach me to read, but I don't think I'll ever learn."

He's known his letter sounds for a while, and can sound out short words. But the "reading" just didn't click.

Today he took a long nap, and so was wide awake when the rest of the boys were in bed. I snuggled him on my lap and got out the first reader from the Veritas Press Phonics Museum.

He was hesitant, but started sounding out the title. "P-aaaaa-nnn. Pan. Aaaaaannnnd. And. The. Mmmmmaaaaaad. Mmmmmmmaaaaaannnn. Pan and the Mad Man!"

He read all the way through the "short a" reader. Halfway through, he jumped up and ran out of the room, "Daddy! Daddy! I'm really reading!"


January 19, 2004  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



The Family that Writes Together

Today I visited the website of the Girlhood Home Companion, only to discover the Novaks are channeling their energies in a new direction, The Gift of Family Writing.

I've known Jill Novak since I was in high school and her children were very small. She's an amazing woman, who is full of encouragement and grace.

This Saturday, January 17th, is a Gift of Family Writing Workshop in Elgin, Illinois. I'd love to go--and if anyone is in the Chicago/Milwaukee area, I encourage you to check it out.


January 10, 2004  |  Comments (0)  |  TrackBack (0)  |  Permalink



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