Gettin’ Our Groove (back) On

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A few months back into homeschooling and I think we’re on a kinda sorta daily schedule. We’re not doing nearly as much as I thought/wish/assume we should be doing, so I have to keep reminding myself that we are doing E.N.O.U.G.H. It’s affirmation I give to lots of mommies but have a hard time applying to myself. Spring break turned into a 2 week hiatus due to Eden becoming quite sick, so it was sloooooooooow and painful getting back to work yesterday. Math was a total joke. For a couple of problems we both sat there staring at it like, “Uh… what exactly are we doing?”

We’re not early risers around here. I could have her up and being productive by 9:00, and maybe I should, but <insert whiny voice> I don’t wanna! It’s hard to break away from coffee, computer, Instagram & TV. A little shameful. To be embarrassingly honest, we don’t usually start working till 10:30 or 11:00. We have a short devotion time, separately, then meet up for spelling, grammar and then math. Have lunch and watch whichever series we’re in the middle of. We watched all of Child Genius and Eden had to keep shushing me because I’d get so irate at some most of the parents that I’d start yelling at the TV. And of course, our favorite, Brain Games. Then science or history, piano, reading and done for the day.

Goals for the rest of the year

  • Finish 2 more science units
  • Keep laughing at math mistakes
  • Read more
  • Keep hugging
  • Keep loving
  • Not give up before June

John Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down

dumbing us down

I actually got rid of this book a few years ago, after I had put my children back in public school, because a friend of mine was starting to homeschool her kids. I was decluttering and getting rid of things that were no longer essential to my daily life. Annoyingly, she sent it back when she was done. I hate it when that kind of thing happens… like when I would go through my kids toys to get rid of things they no longer played with and they’d freak out over finding a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy with missing parts in the throw-away bag and all of a sudden half of the objects I thought I had gotten rid of were back in my life.

But I digress.

She returned it and I stuffed it back in the bookshelf that I keep in the basement that has all the books in it that I never, ever read but don’t want to get rid of. After the dust settled from pulling Eden out of the middle school I retrieved the book and re-read it this week. All my underlined passages and notes scribbled in the margins still there waiting for me.

I left a review on my Goodreads page.

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Memory Lane

(I can’t believe I used that as a blog post title. I seriously can’t think of anything else at the moment. Now taking suggestions.)

I pulled out the kid’s unused curriculum from a few years ago to see what I might be able to sell and found some pretty fun stuff. I’m horribly sentimental, so I’ve saved just about every workbook and assignment they completed. Here’s a couple of my favorites.Eden’s language art unit. 3rd grade.

Mike is going… to the game store. He needs to… eat a pill. I’m curious as to what kind of game store this is.

blog words

Apparently it’s a drag to be a grown-up.

blog younger people

… and you really can’t go wrong with this technique.

blog circles


This is Johnny’s… Alfred the Great playing the role of Star Wars Sith Lord.

blog sith lord

This is good stuff, people.

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Our First Week

My natural tendency is to dive into everything head first, but with just our science curriculum on hand we could only splash around in the kiddie pool for our first week of schooling. Thankfully our math showed up in the mail today. I cheered. She didn’t.

This week was pretty much science, reading and piano. On Tuesday she went to an art class with some of her good girlfriends. The instructor talked about color and shading and that sort of thing. She’ll get to do this once a month.

Meet Carl…


artclass 1

Friday she arranged to go ice skating with those same lovely ladies. I wanted to see if she would plan everything on her own, which she actually did. I was so sure she wouldn’t follow through that I slept in and then only had about 30 minutes to suck down some coffee and put my hair up in the messy mom bun. She called to see when the open skating was, how much admission and skates are, arranged what time we would picking her friends up, and paid for everything with her own money.


All I had to do was drive and freeze my bum on icy bleachers for an hour and a half.


We watched part of a PBS documentary on Thomas Edison. Well, mostly I took pictures of Peanut watching a PBS documentary on Thomas Edison while we ate lunch.


Peanut is hanging around a lot. I think she likes homeschooling.

edenpeanut edit

I think I do too.



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The Weirdest Thing I Heard Yesterday

So yesterday we broke open the Exploring Creation book and the first experiment is the classic density demonstration where you pour different liquids into a jar and watch them separate and then toss in different objects to see which layer they land in. We needed a cork (check!), grape (check!), ice cube (check!), and a rock.

Me: Uhh… Eden. We need a rock. Where are we going to get a rock????” (We do not live in a neighborhood where there are rocks. Just trust me.)

E: Uhh…

Me: Go put your boots on and look in the woods.

E: (tilted head sarcastic squinty-eyed pre-teen glare)

Me: We need a rock!

E: Oh wait! I just saw one in my bed! 

She just saw one in her bed???

It’s true. Here is the evidence.

And not just some driveway pebble, but some kind of fossilized thingy and we can’t come up with any possible hypothesis of how it may have ended up there.

She is very much like a 3-year-old at times.


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7th grade curriculum

Last time I homeschooled I had all summer to research books and choose our curriculum. This time I’ve had about two weeks. I pulled out all our old materials, of which I actually kept a lot because I’m ridiculously nostalgic. Going through it I was surprised to find so many unused A&O units. Then I remembered that they were great for my 2nd grader, but a terrible match for my 7th grader.

She is now in 7th grade.

So… pushed those to the side and pulled out the Apologia science. That book was AWESOME. Johnny used it in 8th grade and has great reading comprehension, so it will be a bit of a challenge for Eden. I’m ready to see what she can do though. If she is really struggling with reading the text it will only be an indicator that she needs help in that area. Next I found our Ultimate Grammar set. That was a life saver after the A&O language arts unit. I liked it a lot. I looked online at the 7th grade unit and realized that she is NOT ready for that.

What have they been teaching her in school???? I don’t think there has been any grammar going on at all.

Had to order her the 6th grade unit. She wasn’t too pleased to see ‘6th grade’ on one of her books till I pointed out that the work would be easier.

Didn’t even consider anything else for math besides Teaching Textbooks. That program was a life-saver for both my son AND myself. He did the pre-algebra in 7th grade so I gave her the placement test and she isn’t ready for it. I ordered 7th grade and then I’ll already have pre-algebra here at home for her next year.

I think spelling is essential and she hasn’t had regular spelling lessons since 2nd grade I think. I could be wrong because I’m so pessimistic right now. I found Spelling Workout and it looks like a good way for her to work on her own.

I want to use Focus on US History but let her choose the time period. I’ve read some really great reviews on this. We used another history book for Johnny in 7th/8th grade but it was a looooooooooot of reading and memorization of names. She is just not that kind of kid.

So, the breakdown…

Reading – lots of free reading. She came up with a goal of reading 3 books by the end of the school year. I crossed it out and wrote ‘6’. After a lengthy stare down we compromised at 5.

Spelling Spelling Workout grade 7

Math Teaching Textbooks grade 7

Science Aplogia Exploring Creation With General Science

History/Geography Focus on US History: The Era of Exploration and Discovery

Civics – This is actually kind of the Mr. and I. I want to read Dave Ramsey & Rachael Cruze’s Smart Money, Smart Kids and make some more concentrated efforts on teaching all the kids about finances.

Literature – Eh. We’ll just keep reading for this year I think. She wants to read The Hobbit and do a study guide like her brother did, but I’m not in a hurry.

Writing – We did these really fun writing prompts from the Unjournaling book last time every morning. She wants to do that again. I just want her to write SOMETHING everyday. I actually still have the book.

Grammar Easy Grammar grade 6 and the corresponding Daily Grams.

Can’t wait for everything to get here! (she can)

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I’m Baaaaaack!

Well, this place is a dusty mess. It’s been almost 3 years since I last posted to this blog because life got a little too nuts for me to keep up with everything I was trying to do. I decided to put both of my homeschooled children (one was already attending) back into public school in the fall of 2012. Johnny, my oldest, had successfully bypassed middle school and timidly started high school. He has excelled academically but still has great disdain for the social life. He says he likes the learning, but not all the kids. Eden started attending a new elementary school in the 5th grade and continued there through the 6th. She loved her teachers and classmates and did beautifully. I had no qualms about her attending the middle school like I had with her brother. She has always been very confident, happy and open about her feelings and I felt that we could handle any ‘teenage’ stuff that came our way.

Unfortunately, a couple weeks into the year, she started acting strange about going to school. I figured it was just going to take some time getting used to the big building, older students, switching classes and all that jazz. As time went by, however, it only got worse. She started having stomach aches and head aches and other random illnesses that would keep her home. She began spending nearly every waking minute in her bedroom and stopped hanging out with her friends. I took her to a psychologist who said that she is clearly depressed, but Eden didn’t like the woman very much and didn’t want to continue sessions. After Christmas break the anxiety had built up to the point of hysteria. She laid in her bed, sobbing, telling me that she didn’t feel safe at school, that kids are mean and she doesn’t like hearing swear words and kids talking about smoking and drugs. She is very uncomfortable with boy/girl stuff going on and has seen people kissing outside after class is over. She can’t believe how disrespectful many of the kids are to the teachers. It feels like no one is in charge, and it’s scary.

So, to make a short story shorter… we decided to pull her out of school and homeschool her for at least the rest of this year, and probably next year. At first I was reluctant, and, if I can be totally honest, a little annoyed. I didn’t plan on ever homeschooling again, but she needs mom & dad be the rescuers in this situation. I started looking at some homeschool blogs again and started to get excited and inspired. I had her finish out the rest of her required work for the marking period, we dropped everything off at school and cleaned out her locker.

And that was that.

IMG_5635So, here we are. No curriculum and no plans to speak of, but I do have a child that is starting to sleep again. After months of depression-like behavior she looked at me yesterday and said, “You know what? I’m actually feeling kind of… happy.”

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The myth of patience

Probably the number one comment I get after I tell someone that I homeschool my kids is, “Oh, I would never have the patience for that.” as if I must have patience oozing from every pore of my body. First of all, if you don’t have enough patience with your kids you really should work on that, whether you homeshool or not. Secondly, I’m not exactly the patience poster child.

Eden (for the 100th time): What’s a noun again?


I’m mean, seriously? You’re in the 4th grade! What if a public-schooler heard you say that?! (That part was not out loud. Promise.)

I am quite positive that teachers think this stuff, they just might get in trouble for actually saying it.

On an average day the casual observer probably would think I’m unnaturally patient. I usually amaze myself. Like when it’s time for math and all of a sudden my daughter decides she needs use the bathroom…again. Or has to clean her ears with a Qtip. Or is in such dire need for a snack she probably won’t be able to think straight if she doesn’t have a pudding cup. For the most part I stay cool through this stuff, especially at the library because other humans are there. I think it’s because I have the dogs to yell at. I have three… one for each kid and an extra in case of emergencies. The dogs won’t cry when I go all ape crazy on them, they can’t tell anyone and can’t afford therapy. I also know that I can unload everything on John when he gets home. I notice that he never asks, “So? How was your day?” until he’s had a chance to change out his work clothes and relax for a bit.

He is a wise man.

Here is something I do though, when we pray with the kids at bed time and I recognize my fuse has been a little short, I’ll ask God out loud in front of them, “Help me be a patient mom and make good choices for my kids, and give us more love for each other.”

Business letter

One of Eden’s MS Word projects this week was to generate a business letter. I like this because it’s not just a way for her to learn how to deal with people professionally, but also that her voice and opinion matters. Johnny wrote a letter to Wendy’s last year to complain about their new sea salt fries, giving several persuasive reasons on why they should change back to their original fries. I have to pull that up because it was quite brilliant. Eden wrote her letter to the American Girl Doll company (surprise, surprise.)

To whom it might concern:

Thank you for creating Kanani Akinda girl of the year 2011. I love her because she is pretty and I love her character and story line. Can you tell me what girls of the year 2012’s name is? Please write back.

Sincerely yours,

Eden Fowler

(and then her precious little 4th grade signature)

Here’s a template from Scholastic that you can follow

Weekly Lesson Plan – 9/19/11

A few days late in putting these up because the PC was not friendly to me. Only to boys playing Minecraft. All day yesterday it was down until Johnny sat down to play his game and it magically came to life.

This Marco Polo program looks promising, so I want to work that in before we move out of this history unit. If you have a Netflix account it’s free for instant viewing.

Two science experiments this week and I really don’t enjoy them very much. It just seems like a lot of work to observe something that we already know will occur. That’s just me being tired and whiney, need to remember that it’s a good opportunity to snap photos for scrapbooking and such.

I was was actually nervous about him digging into The Hobbit because one of the saddest things for me is when the kids turn up their noses at the classics. I was worried that the language would be more tedious than he was willing to accept or that he would find the storyline boring (you never know!), but he is totally into it and goes to bed reading it every night. The study guide is fantastic and I highly reccomend it if you ever have your children read this book. It’s really making him think and pull the story apart. I’m impressed at what he is picking up between the lines and it’s giving us some fun things to talk about. So yes, I’m reading it too. Haven’t done so since the 8th grade, lol!

He is also working his way through his Window’s Programming and loving it, the little geek that he is.

Having a proud moment here… 3 weeks into school and Eden hasn’t missed one single math lesson. Last year I found every excuse in the book (no pun intended) to skip it and as a result didn’t finish most of what we should have. Scary confession moment here! Saxon lessons aren’t difficult, they are just lengthy. I guess they know what they’re doing though because what she is learning she has down pat and her math reasoning is impressive. Lots of pre-algebra concepts and everyday life applications.

I decided that since we’re letting Johnny tackle the programming project, that I need to let her concentrate on something she likes, which is sewing. She’s been sewing simple things for about a year, so we’re doing some more formal learning times now. Found this cute book at the library that is full of non-machine projects (link provides a good preview.) So, expect pictures of her projects soon🙂

Half-way through the week! Woohoo!