The Land of All Things Lewis

When I see birches bend to left and right…I like to think some boy's been swinging from them. -Robert Frost

Snow starts our December

We started our first day of December with snow.  It’s still here today albeit the drizzle of freezing rain is doing it’s best to clear it away.

We went for a walk to the store for hot chocolate.  It started Merry enough, but with three boys and a dog there were a few tears shed and a vicious snowball fight in the middle of the  doorway  of our market.

A realization came about this previous two weeks.  I’m not sure if I shared yet, but I know firmly believe there can be too many worksheets.  Gasp…I mean didn’t you know this about me already.  But, I guess somewhere in my wee little mama mind I really hoped this would be the year my sweet children would wake up with a love of workbooks and worksheets and order.  But, alas  I need to step back.  Curriculum in this house has to have an open ended componaent.

Take Math U See for example.  This works well for us and the boys balk at all other curriculums.  We can work for Mastery with this program.  We do not need to do all six pages of student work.  It doesn’t take an hour to explain the lessons.  It works!

And, I am overwhelmed. We have to do lessons together or I’m going to explode.

So, two steps forward and two steps back.

More Charlotte Mason.

Less Worry.

More together.

More reading.  We have been really lax with reading here.  I miss our snuggly reading and discussions.  Our reading times together have always been so good for our minds and hearts.  They fuel learning in unexpected ways.  So, somehow they have to come back.

We returned almost all of the library books we had and picked up a fresh new stack.  One liberated of lessons or instructions.  Just different topics and new authors…and some old beloved ones too.

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May I have your attention…this is a weekly update

Yes, I knew I would slack on this. But, I did put some effort into it. School has been keeping us busy or maybe it’s just life.

Life Sans Gluten

I’ve been focusing my spare energy on learning to cook and shop in a different fashion. I’m enjoying the energy and the weightloss! My boys seem to be responding as well. I just need to work on stocking our freezer with frozen GF pizzas. They love pizza. I’m really hoping I can start freezing some easy things. I didn’t realize how much I don’t like cooking anymore. I just get so busy and it always seems to take so long.

I’m trying to remember why it was so hard last time we tried this. I think it was because the boys were in public school and they thought eating school lunch was such a treat. And, the donuts my dh would hide in the garage.

But, as my dh was getting a snack for The Warrior he informed me I needed to get some rice crackers or something. Luckily I had bought some crackers for Thanksgiving. I had bought crackers, babaganoush, and beer to take with me. I hate missing cracker and dip time. I hate missing beer/wine time, too. I can’t have wine. It always makes me sick. So, beer it is. I chose the hazelnut crackers. They weren’t bad. Actually, they are like the little asian crackers you can buy. So, the texture threw me off a bit. But, they worked well.

For the Love of Mac

My sweet friend the iBook is getting ready for convalesence. My right shift key is broken and that is the one I use the most. Logically I can see why it broke, but still. The screen blacks out if it is placed in the wrong position. I don’t think it would be wise to put more money in it. But, I don’t know if I can afford another Mac at the moment. The horror. We have a PC in the house, but only because someone gave it to the boys to play with. I can’t imagine spending money on it.

New Classes

The boys are all signed up for their new quarter classes. The Prophet has added a Sports class into his schedule. We are amazed! I thought he was allergic to exercise. He is, also, doing a Lego Robotics class where they learn how to build and program little robot vehicles. He still has Chess and Martial Arts. In fact, he just got his uniform and he looks so handsome. The Peacemaker has added Pottery and Chess. They have a real artist, kiln, and wheels! It’s really exciting. He still has Science and Martial Arts. I’m happy we live close because we are there every day of the week this quarter. The families who are there every day and live farther away bring food and school work. As cool as it is that they can all be together for school, I’m too much of a homebody. I couldn’t spend my whole week there. I would go nuts. I need some PJ time ya know.

Singapore Math

My oldest is finally ready to get moving up in Math. I don’t have the money for a new level of Math U See right now. Although, it’s not expensive at all. I’ve used all the levels for both children so far. I don’t think you can beat that. We are going to give Singapore a try this quarter for him. I’m hoping it doesn’t mess up all the work we have gone through. I feel bad how many Math programs he has been through at this point. But, he isn’t using the Math U See DVD at this point anyhow. So, I thought it probably wouldn’t matter until we get him up to Grade level.  The point is I can check out Singapore for free from our school library and since he doesn’t seem to need the DVD’s right now then it should be fine.

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Wow it’s been busy around here….

We have been up to so much lately.  Going to outside classes has really filled up our days.  Except for the boys stints in public school we have been a rather home body, do nothing family the last few years.  We never really fit with any of the homeschool families in our former town and we couldn’t afford to belong to any of the co-ops.

So, here we are trying to get up early enough in the morning to finish some school work before we got to outside classes.  It’s hard to get over our lazy mornings filled with video games and PBS.

Nonetheless starting next week the boys are taking a few more classes.  I hope we manage.  I don’t know if we should try to add some school work on Sundays or just let it go.

The Prophet is doing Math a few grades below since he is still playing catch up.  Thankfully he is almost through 2nd grade Math U See.  I would like to see him finish another 2 grades before next fall.

Not an exciting update I know.  But, perhaps I’ll get some more time next week.

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It’s week 5 sans schedules, white belts, flexibility

So, I’ve been posting about things I would like to do…but I think it might be wise to share what we really are doing. Last week’s update was the reading post because well, it’s what got done most last week.

Flexibility

Instead of waiting for Monday to read our Year 5 student chose to stay up way too late on Sunday evening to start his reading. (I’m thinking this book is too much for my 7 yos son to digest. And, I can imagine he will think it is too boring. But, my 10 yos needs a bit more to read by himself .) I’m still not sure if the Sonlight IG is worth it. But, the questions might be nice. (Sorry about the grammar, but I can’t recall everything my dh is thinking.)

Schedules

We still have not made a beautiful Waldorf inspired schedule for our days. I really want to, but realistically I don’t see it happening. Until then my thoughts for the days plan will go on the whiteboard in the kitchen for all to see. That seems to be working. But, then it’s only been a week since I started.

That public program

Somehow this is still going well. The boys are getting their white belts as soon as we get uniforms. I’m crossing my fingers and everyone else’s that we find one at Goodwill tomorrow morning.

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Week #3 making it through, Waldorf Math, Geography fun, and getting ready for Autumn

So here it is, I made it to the third week. Since, it isn’t often I make it through anything this long I thought I would definitely share this bit of advice by the Mental Multivitamin about keeping on track and putting our children’s education to the forefront. When your work outside of the home you can focus on just your work. You don’t need to clean as often because little people aren’t there all day long. You can credit someone else for your children’s accomplishments or failures. It’s easy to be at home and get wrapped up in all the good stuff or awful stuff of everyday life. But, I’ve talked with too many homeschool families who struggle along and often give up (ours included). The public school shakes their heads and says, “I told you so”.

So, choose your method or piece things together from every method you feel drawn to. But, day by day remember your children are here for a short time and they deserve the best education you can give them. They deserve to learn to love the joy of learning for themselves.

Model, practice, teach, learn, and love.

Math

We really love Math U See. My oldest was totally messed up in public school with the whole math thing. It was just horrible. They estimated everything. They allowed everyone to figure it out however they wanted. There was no rule, method, or formula for problems. So, we went back to Math U See when they came home and he told us how happy he was.

 

The only problem I see with it, is the black and white pages. Although, this is actually a bonus. How could that be? Well, they aren’t distracting. I like that about the program. But, I don’t think we need tacky, enticing pages to draw our children into math (sorry if that offends). Thanks to Annette at Natural Child…What I am thinking is figuring out how to merge Math U See with Waldorf. I’ll see what I come up with this week. I don’t really have a lot of school funds left in the budget. But, I might be able to ILL something if I need it.

 

For my youngest I’m going to do the cards like Annette did above. The my Grade 2 child can do the lesson pages about what makes 5, 6, 7 etc as he is still memorizing his addition facts. I’m actually taking some time to work on this as I believe any difficulties he has arise from his lack of memorized facts (now big breath).

 

What about my older child? We put him back in Math U See Beta because all the interruptions from public school confused him terribly. I think I need to work through this some more. I need to be able to present specific problem areas and see how to work through those.

I found this outline for grades 1-3 at A Little Garden Flower. She speaks a bit more about what to do in each grade, well at least her version of Waldorf.

Waldorf

Here is a group of Waldorf inspired homeschoolers who blog.

Housekeeping Issues

I really enjoyed what Aleisha at Leap of Faith had to say about putting your home in order before you plan your year. But, most of all I love the chart she came up with. It’s so beautiful and such a nice family project.

Autumn Crafting

Over at Vintage Chica I found a lovely idea for a felt leaf garland. This is a craft I think I can actually do. One that won’t have me and the sewing machine yelling at each other.

Geography

And how about a little statetris? This is super fun. Just see if your kids can beat your time.

 

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Weekly Update, Rabbit Trails, and Personal Ramblings #2

I really enjoyed sharing all my finds last week. So, here we go again.

The question is…will I stick to this weekly? I think I might do a weekly update for education in addition to a Rabbit Trail one. I seem to read one blog and then order a book and then remember a book or another blog post…then I do some research through the library database or catalog and then well it’s a really long rabbit trail.

The question is…can I check off every single one of my categories?

Our School

I thought I would update the general, oh so large public audience we have watching our every move. This was our first week with a resource center that is supported by public funds. It’s been great so far. They have a nice big family room where you can hang out, little ones can play, big kids can hang out, school work can be worked on, and snacks can be prepared and eaten.

Language Arts

This is one I’ve been working on. I read The Well Trained Mind earlier this summer and got a bit overwhelmed with their suggestions. I really, really think I can do this one without a bunch of formal studies. So, I am relying on Charlotte Mason to lay this one out for me. For a lot of my answers I go to Ambleside Online. These women are all such lovely and giving woman. If all I can give back right now are some links now and then…then so be it. Here is the very simple Ambleside Scope and Sequence. I have a mommy notebook and this is the first page of my Language Arts section. If you dig around the Modern English version of the CM series you can find out some more in depth explanations of Language Arts as a whole. My second section is here, along with the actual print out of pages 199-247 from volume 1. Print it out, mark it up, and make notes.

For more Charlotte Mason inspired Language Art study you can check out these explanations of different aspects of study including twaddle, memorization, and Shakespeare study brought to you buy Charlotte Mason & Home Education wordpress blog. There is a twaddle free list of literature by grade level to add to your list or get you started. Print it out, start reading, and let me know when you finish. I’m just sure we can find you a whole lot more.

Nature Study

I really wanted to introduce Nature Study this year. So, it’s perfect timing to read

Why Nature Study? at Yielded Heart.

natureseattle.jpg

I had just received Nature in the City from our local library and it set me to remembering the following book…

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After reading, Last Child in the Woods (check out this interview with the author) quite a while back and writing a Essay for one of my classes under a similar subject line I realize Nature is indeed everywhere and those who live in the “sticks” do not have a monopoly on our great outdoors. That’s not an insult it’s just something I’ve been wondering about and worrying about since we moved here. Could I still find nature here? Would it be the same for my children?

This post from Catherine Levison gives some practical ideas for those in city areas or rural areas. BUT, please note it’s illegal to pick plants in some areas. You can’t even pick a cherry blossom on the UW campus.

Pirates

Shiver me timbers…it’s time for a new name. My new pirate name is…..

 

 

Cheatin’ Amora Hornigold

What’s yours? And, really could I have gotten a better name than that?

Food

My dear sweet husband bought me personal size and family size bento boxes for my birthday last month. Finally today I took my personal one for a test drive. It was perfect. I had previously been on a plastic boycott. But, I really, really love Japanese anything. I wrapped it up in a sweet little kitchen towel and it worked perfectly. I carried it in my bag and there was no problem with spillage. I figure I can use my thermos for anything runny. But, there was plenty of room for a few extra snacks for my boys, too.

Waldorf Education

I, like many other moms, have been drawn to Waldorf education. I like the beauty, lack of tv, appreciation of nature and “her” rhythms. I found this article on Ancient History pretty interesting. This is pretty much how we “study” together. I did this naturally when the kids were younger. Then we got some KONOS studies to replenish our imagination banks when we petered out. Now we are going through The Story of the World and hoping to keep this up at a reasonable level. I still let my children do a lot of the leading though…

 

And, last but not least is Grammar Stage Memorization by Hannah Wilson.  These is one of those free gems from a woman who just shares her blessings.  It helps you realize that if you want to homeschool for nearly free, you can.   I’ve been searching for poetry readings and a list of memorization requirements…ugh is that word overloaded or what…not only do none of the boys knows their new address, but they don’t know my phone number. My oldest is 10 and he said (with that numbfounded digital age mentality) “don’t you just have a shortcut number I can call? Like when you call Dad?” He was referring to the fact that his parents have cell phones. No regular phone, just cell phones. If you want Dad you press and hold 2 on my phone. Now wouldn’t he be so lucky to have the short cut of 2 on everyone’s phone. The prophet was clearly surprised and overwhelmed at the thought that he would need to memorize two phone numbers.

 

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Posts and Blogs I’ve enjoyed this week…

So, I’m reading the carnival this week and I realize I have more time to jog around and research since I’ve made that whole netvibes realization. More time to visit and post on my favorite mom site. Oh and yes more time to read to my children and convince my library to purchase new books.

Bored of Amusment…has come up with a very clever way to help her son come to the realization that as fun as games can be there is more to life. There are more lastings things in life and more fulfilling things in life then just being amused by your passive playthings. And, that reminds me of the lovely and quite large dictionary I have sitting on my end table shelf. The one my dear Grandmother (who is still alive and in our mid 80’s) made all her dear children look up words in. My sons google everything or use the Oxford English Dictionary (online of course). If you do not know about the Oxford English Dictionary you might want to see if your local library system or a reciprocal system has a subscription in it’s database. Many major city or large county systems will gladly allow you to have a library account with them even if you don’t live in their region.

As for Databases I really like Ebscohost searches for reports. You can search through newsletter and magazine articles and it’s in a picture/graph format, so you can actually visualize the search and all it’s links. In fact, it’s fun just to see it work if you have access. I’m serious it’s fun.

I have to say I sometimes I lust after the lives of those in Colorado. Look at all these great conferences they are having soon.

Shanna asks What are you praising God for today? And while I list those praises I feel sorrow for those mothers near and far who go without the things I take advantage of every day. I know God must love them, too.

And a certain Sweet Southern Lady is having some kind of love/hate relationship with a view things.

I realize my flickr account has expired and as of late most of my pictures come from my cell phone and cell phone picks are inadequate memories. I, also, realize after reading Mollie’s Blog how my children although lacking in the curls are still most definitely cute enough to share. But, I don’t because I lack the freedom that allows that. I’m not sure if I should just get over it. I still love my father. But, I’m not sure how to connect our lives or if I can try again. I’m sorry about that, I really am.

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