Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Year My Mother Read to Me

I got really discouraged last week. I feel like I'm failing my kids in so many ways. There isn't enough of me to go around and honestly I'm naturally a slacker. I began to question why I'm homeschooling in the first place. Scary. I am still in the process of pondering what my priorities should be.

I have come upon a theme/focus for this year...The Year My Mother Read to Me. I plan to read aloud to my kids every day from books that I consider to be classics. The 3R's will be next in line with writing being the more important of those three for the 11yo and 14yo. Next, I plan to shore up their weaknesses...whatever their specific needs are. And last, I will strive to find time for Latin, grammar, science, etc.

It's a real plus that my children like to be read to. They seem to view it as a treat. I was a little worried this week when I chose to read them a retelling of Don Quixote. I wasn't sure they would find it interesting after all of the Alex Rider and Percy Jackson and the Olympians we've been reading recently. Guess what? They begged me to continue reading each time I suggested that we find a stopping place. It felt good. It felt right.

What about Alex Rider and Percy Jackson? They'll still be around. Who can give up fast paced adventure stories...and cute boys? c:

Saturday, October 10, 2009


We aren't getting to Tapestry of Grace. I believe it is an awesome program, but 14yo dd is struggling to get the basics done each day (Algebra l, First Form Latin, Analytical Grammar, and BJU Biology). I don't know how we can add more to her plate. So, I'm considering going back to LCC (Latin Centered Curriculum) recommendations. Latin, math, and composition. Of course there is more to it than that but if we can get the core subjects done, I'll feel like I've given the girls what they need.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Being honest - I am looking forward to Wednesday. What is Wednesday? The first day of public school. 11yo and 7yo are very social and therefore have a hard time focusing on their school work when they know that their friends are available to play with. Of course, 14yo will have to adjust to having her sisters in the house again. Can't keep everyone happy.

TOG isn't happening. I'm not sure why. I guess I want to do it all but realize there isn't enough time. I'm not giving up, I just need to find an approach/schedule that works for us.

Love, love, love the CM Organizer! Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed paper planners. Let's face it though, even the best laid plans are usually derailed within the first few days. I don't have to worry about that anymore. And, I don't have to erase and rewrite. I love the idea of entering resource information once instead of entering it week after week. Take the tour and see if it will make your homeschool day easier.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Girly Math

Who needs counting bears when you can
use bottles of nail polish instead?

Friday, July 3, 2009


Summer and the living is easy...for the kids that is. No school has taken place this week due to attending a family reunion. Probably not much will happen next week either. There's a doctor's appointment, a baby shower, and a birthday. Oh well, such is life.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Working in a Coal Mine

Well I been workin in a coal mine
Goin down down down
Workin in a coal mine
Whew about to slip down
Five oclock in the mornin
Im up before the sun
When my work day is over
Im too tired for havin fun
Lord I am so tired
How long can this go on?

I read an organizing post that suggested making files for every week of Tapestry of Grace filled with ALL of the papers and assignment sheets for each child. I decided to do the same not realizing how much time would be involved and how my "must finish this" tendency would take over. I'm tired of the project, but I will not rest until it is done. I will probably be happy I did this when Christmas rolls around and I don't have time for planning and copying papers.

Here are the results thus far...
(click on pictures)

Files are numbered.
Only one file for the entire student body per week.

A sampling of pages already filed in week four.

Finally! A use for my Desk Apprentice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The June Push

This week is our last opportunity to accomplish school in June...and maybe even July for that matter. The family reunion, church girls camp, and a new grandson will be the focus in July.

Goals for this week:
Math - daily for all
Latin vocab - 13yo and 11yo
Biology - reading, study for Chapter 1 test
Tapestry of Grace - 13yo finishes any reading, discusses with mom, time line; younger girls read, work on geography/maps, start Unit 1 lap book

edit (Thurs.): Such high hopes but it isn't going to happen. 13yo is sick and 11yo is staying with married sister for the week. It has become a planning week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Too Relaxed?

I don't know what happened, but I have been VERY relaxed about school (specifically TOG and Biology) the past few days. 13yo is way ahead of me in all of her reading. I tell myself every evening to bring out the books and read. Doesn't happen. I'll see what I can get done this weekend.

13yo finished a Garlic Press pre-algebra workbook this week, so I think we're ready to give Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 another try. TT along with Key to Algebra will hopefully be a winning combination. I've found the Key to Series to be very helpful and I really like their online component - Key to Tracker.

11yo started Rod & Staff Math 5 this week. The first lessons are review which have been very easy for her. She's been relieved (she doesn't love school). We've continued reading about Ancient Egypt though we didn't get as far as I would have liked to this week.

I found some cool Egyptian photos to use for my computer's wallpaper at National Geographic. I love the one with a couple of camels in front of pyramids.

As usual 7yo is getting the short end of the stick. We did math a few times this week and she dawdled even though her friends were waiting to play with her. We haven't done any reading. It's so easy to let her run off and play.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It arrived!

The package from Lampstand Press finally arrived yesterday. YEAH! It was fun to finally be able to look at and handle Map Aids, Writing Aids, the lapbook kits, and an evaluation CD (rhetoric). Once the Pop Quizzes arrive, I'll feel complete. :)

Did I mention we are taking two weeks to move through the first week plan? Taking extra time to ease into Tapestry of Grace has helped to ease my stress a bit. In fact, we may continue at this pace throughout the summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day Two

LOL! No, I'm not going to do a day four, five, six, etc. I promise I'll give those entries different names.

13yo was very independent today now that she has her TOG reading assignments. She is enjoying Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt better than the more colorful Ancient Egypt. Not what I expected. Could it be that the reading level is easier?

We read through the first lab for BJU Biology. I considered skipping it, but I reminded myself that labs are very important. Doing the labs in high school will help increase dd's confidence during college level labs.

We only had three lessons to finish in 11yo's math book, but I just couldn't do it. I bailed and moved on to the next level. I knew that the first chapter would be mostly review anyway. Here we go again. Another 170 lessons to face.

Today 11 yo and I shared reading from the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. It seemed a bit disjointed at first. I guess that is what happens when you jump in the middle of the book and you know your friends are at the park waiting for you to join them.

Monday night I started reading aloud A Place in the Sun. This evening I had 11yo take over and read to 7yo and me. She struggles with reading and was pretty tired at the end of the 2nd chapter. I need to have her eyes checked.

Still waiting for the rest of my TOG shipment. This is like torture. It's only been 3 weeks, only 3 weeks, 3 weeks.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day One

First, 13yodd is very hard to read. She doesn't feel well much of the time, so it is difficult to tell if she feels stressed by school work or if she feels off balance, nauseous, etc. Today was one of those days.

I had her read through the reading assignments, overview, and student activity pages for rhetoric. I think the student activity pages may have stressed her, but it was hard to tell. Once she had read through the weekly planning pages, I tried to do a planning session with her. She felt so poorly that I don't think she cared one way or another. She just wanted to be done, so she could go back to her bed.

I'm really doubting myself here. I'm not doubting TOG, I think it has great potential. What I'm worrying about is if I'm asking too much of dd at this time. Add to that BJU Biology. We probably should have eased into these programs in the summer and then one in the autumn.

My shipment from Lampstand Press hasn't arrived yet, so it's been a little hard to plan. We don't have Writing Aids or Map Aids.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jump in!

I've decided to jump in. Monday we will start Tapestry of Grace ready or not. I may regret it, but there will never be a perfect time to start. There will always be appointments, meetings, and people who vie for my time. Most likely we'll take two weeks to work through the first week plan. TOG fog here we come. ;)

Since my focus will be my high school student, I had her attend a webinar, "Teaching with Tapestry of Grace", which described what TOG is and how it works. I want 13yo to have the big picture in mind, so she will know what we are trying to accomplish.

Yesterday, I raided the library and checked out week one books for the younger students. Then, I stopped by the local craft store and bought a basket to place the books in. Hopefully that will keep the top of the dog's kennel from being overtaken with piles of books that might start an avalanche at any moment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Learn as you go

Through some magic with a calculator, I figured out that 13yodd needs to read an average of three pages per day, six days a week in order to finish Biology in a year. Not a school year; a year. She is ahead of me in her reading, so tonight I was trying to catch up. While reading, it hit me. I've never taught her to take notes. There is a lot of information to retain "off the top of your head." In order to be prepared for a test, she needs to know what is important for the test. The time has come to teach her how to take notes to study from.

I've never taught high school before. Yes, my oldest was technically a homeschooler during her 11th and 12th grade years. I let her direct her own affairs (she learned percussion in the high school band, learned to play a drum set, and started community college early). This time around I have a direction, and yet I still feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants. Every day, I see some area that we need to work on or something that I've never thought of before. This is a "learn as you go" adventure.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Scratch that?

Last night I had myself almost convinced that we should start Tapestry of Grace this coming Monday. Until...I remembered 13yo is supposed to read A Poetry Handbook before starting Year 1 Ancients. If we wait for her to read the book, it will put us off starting until the end of July which is when grandbaby #2 is due. Part of me wants to throw my hands up in the air and wait until autumn, BUT (there's always a "but" right?) what if someone else uses TOG this fall too? I don't want to be competing for library books at the same time. Hmmm...hmmm...hmmm. What to do? What to do?

I know my younger children won't want to do school this summer. They want to play all day. The problem with playing all day is that they get tired of their friends and squabbles are more likely. I think "I need to do school for awhile" is a great excuse to take a needed break from friends plus their math skills will stay in tact. But, do we need to do the humanities (TOG)? How much school is too much in the summer? I don't want to take away from their play time. Summer is special here in the Pacific Northwest. You have to take advantage of the sunny, warm weather for the short time it is here. Once the rains start up, everyone slinks back into their houses.

Still thinking.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Books

I received the shipment of rhetoric level books from Bookshelf Central. You would think I would be excited, but honestly, I'm worried. I've spent a lot of moolah on this venture and if it doesn't work I'm going to be sick.

Okay, calm down (speaking to myself).

A few days ago, I decided to reread the "General Introduction to Year 1." There was a lot of TOG information swimming around in my head and I wanted to get a better grasp on it. I'm taking notes as I go which has helped. I guess I'm extremely visual and need to see the most important points. There are a lot of pages to read.

ADVICE - Personally, I would read through the Explore Tapestry web pages first. They are concise and give a clear picture of Tapestry of Grace. Be sure to read through each sub category.

What is Tapestry?
  1. Tapestry is....
  2. 3 Big Ideas
  3. Philosophy of Education
Another very good page to visit is an older(?) Explore Tapestry page. It has a list of each of the pages found in the weekly plan. If you click on the title, you will be taken to a sample with yellow sticky notes explaining how the pages are to be used. A very helpful one in particular has purple stickies explaining how to save time while using TOG.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tapestry of Grace

I NEVER thought I would consider the curriculum Tapestry of Grace (TOG). It looked overwhelming and I wasn't sure how I would handle the differences in religious beliefs.

And then.....the ominous cloud of high school loomed over my head. I realized that I needed something to hold me accountable. I needed a guideline of some sort. TOG began to look very good indeed.

I am the proud new owner of TOG Year 1 Redesign DE (digital edition). For a few weeks now I have been reading, thinking, and reading some more. Folks, this is going to take a lot of work and preparation on my part. Yes, it is time to gird up my loins and put my shoulder to the wheel. My dd is depending on me to prepare her for college.

I seem to vacillate between excitement and sheer terror though I admit being discouraged more often than being excited. I am spending a lot of money on something that I'm not sure will be a good fit for us. Or should I say me? I seem to be the problem. I'm a procrastinator by nature and it is easy to let a curriculum choice fall by the wayside when the newness wears off.

Impressions and experiences so far:
  • beautifully organized but it has taken time to figure out which info is for the student and which is for the teacher.
  • I will have to make choices (can be painful) because there is an overabundance of resources
  • books - checking the library catalog for three student levels was time consuming. Once I had that list, I had to make the agonizing decision to purchase books or rely on the library to have them the week I needed them.
  • $$$ I guess this curriculum could be cheaper if I was willing to rely on the library (which I'm not). Honestly, the overall cost has motivated me to stick with TOG no matter what comes up this year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Well-Trained Mind

Confession time...I have owned the 1st and 2nd editions of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home and yet I have never read the book. In fact, skimming is about all I've done.

Last week I bought the 3rd/10th Anniversary edition and I have decided that I WILL read it cover-to-cover this time. Attention wise I struggle with reading non-fiction, so this will be a feat for me once accomplished.

So far, I'm 50 pages in. I am actually recognizing some of the reading and wondering why I didn't continue reading in the previous editions. The writing is inspiring, but truthfully 775+ pages can be daunting for someone who has a hard time reading non-fiction.

The other question I've had is, "Why haven't I followed TWTM's teaching methods if I find it so inspiring?" TWTM presents a rigorous classical education. Add to the mix a mom/teacher with serious procrastinating tendencies and a couple of "Leo the late bloomers" and I honestly didn't think it was doable. It seemed too rigid for our family.

Even now, I'm not sure how it will fit in with our life, but I've been homeschooling long enough to have learned that gleaning and using something is better than nothing at all.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fall-on-my-face Tired

It is only 11 p.m. and I'm about to fall on my face I'm so tired. 13yo took a standardized test this morning (required in grades 3,5,8, and 10) which meant we had to be out of the house by 8:30 a.m. I am NOT a morning person. On top of that, I get so paranoid about oversleeping that I constantly wake up to check the clock. I didn't sleep well last night and I'm tired, tired, tired.

I am so happy to have testing out of the way for another year. Bleh! DD spent most of her school time over the past month reviewing math and English. Oh, if I would only learn to review a bit every day throughout the year then we wouldn't have to "cram" for the test. But you know what? I'm not perfect and life happens.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

She's READING!!!

Am I a little excited? YES!

7yo has been able to read consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) ("cat") words for awhile, but she wasn't able to read sentences. Last month I bought some sight word readers which she memorized. The past two weeks she has been reading longer passages in her Rod & Staff "We Learn About God" reader. Again, these are sight word stories, but they are much longer which showed me that she is actually reading not merely reciting memorized passages.

BTW, we are working through the accompanying phonics workbook too. I like this approach of using both types of reading instruction (phonics and sight words). Using sight words means she is able to start reading quickly and phonics instruction helps her to build future reading skills.

Now, if we can get her to count from 11-20 without leaving out numbers.... c:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Long Days

I haven't done much with 13yo the past few days, and this is already making for some long days. Can I blame it on my desire to check items off of my homeschool list? I bought Rod & Staff Science and Geography/History books for 11yo last fall starting with the 3rd grade level. We read through the 3rd grade level books and now we are half way through the 4th grade level. It is bugging me to have a "5th" grader using 4th grade books. Those lessons keep screaming at me to get them done and out of the way, so we can move up to the 5th grade books. I can't push her forward in English and Math (also using 4th grade), but science and geo./hist. aren't as dependent on development. We've already read through two science lessons, a review, and a geography lesson this week. With two more days, I'm sure I'll attempt to check off a couple more lessons from my list.

As much as I'm enjoying reading about vaccinations, disease prevention, and Switzerland, I know it is taking me away from other important subjects. By the time 11yo and I finish her schooling, I have to force myself to do school with 7yo. There is just no speeding this kid along either which makes me more tired. 13yo gets the short end of the stick, because I'm ready for a long break before I need to begin supper.

Enough whining.

The good news? I've decided that 13yo and 11yo know their phonograms well enough that we should move on with the All About Spelling lessons/steps. Today we did step 2 and I have a feeling that tomorrow we'll easily complete steps 3 and 4. With only 24 steps in level one, I can see us finishing in a month.

Also, 7yo is exceeding my expectations. She definitely has some challenges, no doubt, but I have found that she isn't going to be as slow as I had worried she might be. She is moving through the Bible Nurture and Reader Series more quickly than I thought she was capable of. Is it easy for her? No. But, she is doing it! She is sounding out words and blending them nicely. She is memorizing sight words so she can start reading now before knowing all of the phonograms. And her handwriting is nice when she puts forth the effort.

My biggest concern? I need to spend time with 13yo!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Goals Apr. 27 - May 2

Math, All About Spelling, Reading(7yo) and handwriting every day.


13yo - Perfect! Loves to read. Working through some Andrew Lang fairy books ... again.

11yo - Reading isn't her favorite. She practices every day when we read her science and/or history texts. She recently read Homer Price and picked up the sequel, Centerburg Tales, from the library. I was pleasantly surprised.

7yo - Needs reading instruction every day. Working through Rod & Staff's Bible Nurture and Reader Series Grade 1. We are trying to do the two phonics workbook pages, use the reader, and do the two reading workbook pages each day. I don't think we'll be able to keep up this pace. Sight words are being introduced faster than she can memorize them. BUT, she is doing so much better than I thought she would. I'm amazed that she is sounding out a list of up to 28 words each lesson (ex: bass, buck, fib).


Yep, another one of those areas. In trying to be a nice mom, I haven't required much written work from my children. If we can do a grammar lesson orally, why not? If we can do math mentally, why not? If we can do an assignment on the computer, why not? Unfortunately this has led to handwriting that is at times barely legible.

We started out learning print using Handwriting Without Tears. Honestly, I'm not that wild about HWT's cursive. At this point I don't feel like changing to another program. I think what we need is more practice and practical application. Their handwriting looks beautiful in their workbooks, but it doesn't seem to be transferring over to their everyday handwriting.

The older girls - both are working through Cursive Handwriting. I want them to finish the books so they understand how to connect the letters (ex. tow truck letters). Once the workbooks are finished, I plan to assign memory work or passages from their favorite books for them to copy for a designated amount of time (5-10 mins./day).

7yo - She doesn't know how to write her full name. Anything will be an improvement. The plan is something daily. We have a partially used "Letters & Numbers for Me"(K) and an unsued "My Printing Book" (1st).


** We will continue to do math through the summer. Too much ground was lost last summer.

Math is one of those subjects that is easier to keep up with. You just do the next lesson in the book. We've been the most consistent with math because of this.

7yo - The mistake I've made with 7yo is thinking she needed to be able to count through the teens before starting her math book. In January I gave up on the idea of her counting to 20 without leaving out something. She is now working through Rod & Staff's Counting with Numbers (preschool workbook) and R&S's Math 1. The preschool book is for fun practice. R&S focuses heavily on memorizing the math facts and starts teaching them after a short review of the numbers 1-9. We've been using the workbooks only, but I think I need to start using the teacher's manual to help me remember to review.

11yo - R&S Math 4 (finished lessons 135/170). She has made great strides in the past year! Last spring she was struggling to learn her math facts (addition and multiplication) and now she is studying fractions and decimals. Technically one would expect her to be in the 5th grade book, but I've found that the 4th grade level is right for her in most subjects. We will finish the book and go directly into Math 5 during the summer.

13yo - It has been a year of bouncing around for her. After using R&S since 5th grade, she was overwhelmed with the amount of problems in a lesson and most likely bored too. Instead of making her continue with Math 8 (pre-algebra), we tried to start Algebra. We briefly tried Lial's Intro. to Algebra (comm. college workbook/text) and then moved to Teaching Textbook's Algebra I. It didn't seem that she was retaining, so she is currently taking a break from TT's. I had her read through Math Doesn't Suck. I tried having her work through the last chapter (all review lessons) of R&S Math 8. She couldn't remember how to do much of the basic math. Soooo, she is currently working through "Key to..." curriculum's online Key to Tracker spot check lessons for fractions, decimals, and percentages. Once she is finished with standardized testing in May, I hope to retry Algebra with the help of Kiss My Math and the Key to Algebra workbook series (with Key to Tracker online).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Confidence and Spelling

I never realized how important spelling is or how it can affect one's self-esteem.

13yo learned to read at home. Using phonics based readers was tongue twister torture. She couldn't get past the 5th BOB Book, but she could read Frog and Toad are Friends. She was closer to the sight word end of the spectrum than the phonics end. I decided to work with her strength and we ditched all phonics study. She learned to read by reading books from the library.

I thought that someone who enjoyed reading would automatically be a good speller. Nope. DD would read all day but would panic if anyone asked her to write. Why? Because she knew she could barely spell.

What was I doing about it? We used words from her writing and then very briefly tried Sequential Spelling. She used Rod & Staff spelling workbooks for awhile but my lack of follow through meant that we didn't keep up with that either.

Last year she started writing a book. Even the spell checker couldn't help her. I would go through her work and change words for her. Eventually she saw the words modeled correctly and learned that way. Plus she began using Level A of Phonetic Zoo.

Her spelling has improved, but she still lacks confidence. I believe she is haunted by the fact that someone might ask her to spell something in public. It is only recently that I've realized what a handicap this has become.

Thankfully, I think I've found a program that will give her the background knowledge that she needs to become a more confident speller - All About Spelling. The step-by-step lessons are scripted, so I'll know what I'm doing and what I need to do in the near future. No more guessing and wondering.

The biggest drawback? It will take time. I won't be able to hand over a workbook or CD for independent spelling work. I'm going to be teaching a lesson or reviewing with her every day.

Once we learn the sounds for the phonograms a-z, we'll be able to dive into the program. I'll update once we are farther along in Level 1.

BTW, don't be shocked that we don't know all of the sounds of the alphabet. The five vowels plus "y" have 19 sounds total. Even Mom is finding it challenging memorizing the vowel sounds in their correct order.

What Our Homeschool Needs

I'm a homeschool mom who struggles mightily when it comes to being consistent. I feel like I've failed my kids. Not being consistent means that they are behind in many subjects. Yes, they have their individual quirks and time lines, but honestly, I know that most of this is my fault. I'm not only the Mom, I'm the teacher too. It is my responsibility to move them forward as far as they are developmentally capable. This blog is to hold me accountable in that endeavor.

I wannabe a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race!