Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 7

Porch Flowers

We didn't have our Classical Conversations classes this week, so we took a bit of a break after six strong weeks of lessons this year.

The weather was beautiful this past (extended) weekend, so the boys got a lot of outside play time. Russ did a few yard/outside projects. I planted some flowers for my front porch. Leif practiced riding his bike without training wheels.

During the week, I managed to do some deep cleaning/light organizing and met a deadline or two on other projects. I read my book for book club.

The boys got more outside play time when it SNOWED on Thursday. It melted too quickly, but Daddy took them sledding outside of town for the afternoon. (I won't lie. There are benefits to being unemployed. I have no idea how I'll adjust to having Russ gone all day every day if/when he gets a full-time position.)

Book club was a very small party due to the weather, but four of us had a wonderful time here at my house and it just gives us an excuse to get together again this next week.

We watched a few family movies with homemade kettle corn. The whole family went swimming at the pool one afternoon. Lola loved the warm water pool.

My best friend offered to watch the boys while Russ and I went out to dinner and a movie to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Little Miss tagged along and was an angel. The boys enjoyed spending time with friends!

And we managed to sneak in a few 'lessons' here and there. Because that is a part of life.

CC Memory Review.

Bible:
Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed verses)
Children's Illustrated Bible (Luke, read aloud and independently)
Day by Day Kid's Bible (Levi, independently)
The Early Reader's Bible (Leif, read aloud and independently)

Hymns:
Cedarmont Kids: Hymns (CD)

Fine Arts:
The Vermeer Interviews by Bob Raczka
(Levi prepared CC presentation about Vermeer)

Geography/Cultures:
Reviewed geography songs

Language Arts:
Practice Island (sentences 3 and 4)
Building Language (stem lesson 3)
Sentence Island (pgs 57-80)

Latin:
Song School Latin: Ch. 12, 13
Flash Dash online review game at Headventure Land

Spanish:
DVD lessons 1/3/2

Math:
(Levi)
Daily drill worksheets
Test prep

Science:
Bill Nye: Sound (DVD)
Bill Nye: Momentum (DVD)

History/Literature:
One more Border: The True Story of One Family's Escape From War-Torn Europe by William Kaplan
Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy That Dropped From the Sky by Margot Theis Raven

Family Read-Aloud:
Man of the Family by Ralph Moody (ch 1

Family Movie:
I Am David (DVD)

Miscellaneous:
Various library books, including:
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Suffragist by Fiona Macdonald
When Marian Sang by Pan Munoz Ryan (illustrated by Brian Selznick)

Prepared presentations for CC week 19
The Star-Spangled Banner (Cedarmont Kids: Songs of America CD)

Luke piano practice and lesson.

Luke's Free/Assigned Reading:
(I am assigning 'fun' titles to help him transition to chapter books.)
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla
The Last Little Cat by Meindert DeJong
The Secret Valley by Clyde Robert Bulla

Leif's Reading:
(Leif didn't want to be left out, so he typed in these titles. Grin.)
food signs
big dog little dog
jam berry
go dog go

Levi's Free Reading:
The Last Notebook of Leonardo by B.B. Wurge
The 39 Clues, Book Ten: Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien



"I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are in my opinion, the strength of the state; more so than riches or arms."

~Benjamin Franklin as quoted in The Five Thousand Year Leap

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Talent

Alternate titles:
Yum!
Baby Yoga
I know you want to kiss my toes, so I'll do it for you...

Talent

Monday, February 21, 2011

Food For Thought

Miscellaneous links, articles, and ideas that I'm finally getting around to sharing:

:: I'm so excited about our new Language Arts curriculum that we have just begun. Here is a PDF document that explains more about the program. I'll review when we've gotten a little futher in.

:: Speaking of new curriculum, some of you might enjoy this poem I came across in December:

'Twas 10 minutes to midnight and all through the house
not a creature was stirring except for me and my mouse.
The curriculum websites were all bookmarked and filed,
while I had visions of great books to my ceiling being piled.
And me with my finger poised to click on the "buy,"
a little voice in my head said "Show some restraint - oh, please try!"

"Go away," I said. "I don't want a fight.
I'll get all free shipping if I purchase tonight!"
"It's not fair" I cried out, "they all look so good."
but the voice in my head said, "What if you could?
Do you think your children would know what to do?
They don't need more books, they just need more of you!"

I pondered on this - what was that voice trying to say?
Did it not realize what a deal I could get on e-bay?
I thought and pondered and wondered some more,
then slowly my eyes drifted to the books on the floor.
Three writing, three phonics, four grammar and more,
all sitting there unused except to prop open the door.

I remember the hours spent scouring the sites
and the money I spent would give Bill Gates a fright.
"Come away from the computer." My children would request.
"I can't," I would say, "until I've found you the best."
"But we don't want something different or new,
we want you to teach us like you always used to."

I remember those days when we had just started out.
"I will teach them myself!" I'd announced with a shout.
And teach them I did with good books I'd picked
and they learned and we laughed and it all somehow clicked.
So there I sat in the dark about to purchase some more.
My children as usual would find it a boor.

"No more," I said suddenly clicking the x on the page.
"I'll no longer be a prisoner in this curriculum cage."
We already have plenty and we have quite enough,
we don't need all the new flashy hyped up school stuff.
We'll get back to basics and learning when ready.
We'll stop switching our methods and stay calm and steady.

I'll use what I have and I'll create or borrow the rest,
after all it's always been I who know my children the best.
I know what they like and I know what they need.
I'll not be tempted again by curriculum greed.
I'll teach them to honor the One from above.
I'll teach them to laugh and to live and to love.

Then I'll teach them the things that will make their minds grow
and the things out of books that all kids ought to know.
I'll teach them that learning goes on everyday
but not just in books but in how they live and they play.
If when they are grown they remember one thing I've said,
I want them to hear "Knowledge is power." from the voice in their heads.

~Aime (from The Well-Trained Mind forums)


:: Your Child Left Behind at The Atlantic.


:: The 'free classroom for the world': Khan Academy. Really stupendous math and science video lectures (from 1+1 to Calculus and Organic Chemistry). Not much in the humanities, yet, but we did watch a few on the French Revolution and Napoleon. Rather handy that we were right there in our history studies...

Ooooh. JUST came across this article about Sal Khan and his video lectures: How Bill Gates' Favorite Teacher Wants to Disrupt Education.


:: Or try Free World University.


:: Forget Mandarin. Latin is the key to success @ The Spectator


Hard as it may be to believe, one of the things that gives privately-educated children the edge is their knowledge of Latin. I don’t just mean in the obvious senses – their grasp of basic grammar and syntax, their understanding of the ways in which our world is underpinned by the classical world, their ability to read Latin inscriptions. I mean there is actually a substantial body of evidence that children who study Latin outperform their peers when it comes to reading, reading comprehension and vocabulary, as well as higher order thinking such as computation, concepts and problem solving.

:: The 5 Best Toys of All Time @ Geek Dad

I won't quote him and ruin the fun. Just head on over and read his brilliant (and hilarious) recommendations.


:: And, just for fun, the animate version of Sir Ken Robinson's talk, 'Changing Education Paradigms':


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 6

Levi and Lola

Classical Conversations: Week 18.

Bible memory, history time line, Star-Spangled Banner, presentations (public speaking)/family presentation, science experiments, famous artist/art project, geography, history/science/Latin/grammar/math memory work, Valentine's parties, and gym/social time.

CC Memory Review

Bible:
Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed verses)
Children's Illustrated Bible (Luke, read aloud and independently)
Day by Day Kid's Bible (Levi, independently)
The Early Reader's Bible (Leif, read aloud)

Hymns:
Cedarmont Kids: Hymns (CD)
This Is My Father's World (mom on piano)

Geography/Cultures:
Geography Songs: Former USSR and review
Around the World Coloring Book: Russia
Countries Around the World: Russia (DVD)
Countries Around the World: Belgium (DVD)
(CC Geography review/drawing Europe)

Language Arts:
Grammar Island (pgs 148-end)
Practice Island (sentences 1 and 2)
Sentence Island (Ch. 1)
Building Language (stem lessons 1 and 2)
A Surfeit of Similes by Norton Juster
All About Spelling: Steps 13-14

Grammar

Latin:
Song School Latin: Ch. 10/review, 11/review

Spanish:
DVD lessons: 1/3/1

Math:
Drill Worksheets at Home School Math
Math Brain (online games)
Test Prep Math Story Problems Flash Cards

Science:
Newton's Third Law of Motion at Khan Academy (online video)
Bill Nye: Spinning Things (DVD)
Bill Nye: Gravity (DVD)
Bill Nye: Fluids (DVD)
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature (DVD)

History:
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (Levi): China and Japan at War, WWII, The United Nations
The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin
The Big Lie: A True Story by Isabella Leitner

Levi's Assigned Reading:
The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert Dejong (China during Japanese invasion)
I Am David by Anne Holm (boy escapes from European concentration camp)

Family Read-Aloud:
Little Britches by Ralph Moody (ch 29-31 SOB!!!)

Miscellaneous:
The Star-Spangled Banner (singing)
Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag by Mae Blacker Freeman

Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda

Luke piano practice Su, M, Tu, W+Lesson, F

Levi's Free Reading:
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
How to Twist a Dragon's Tale by Cressida Cowell
How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell



"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts."


~C. S. Lewis

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sweet Pea

Lola

Lola

On February 18th, 2007, the second day of my blog, four long years ago, I posted this picture. Here we are again. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

A babe in a house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting-place for innocence on earth; a link between angels and men.

~M.F. Tupper

Lola Toes

baby legs

Lola Girl

baby hand

Lola Colette

At the Ballet

At the Ballet
I got out of the house! And Lola attended her first ballet. We went to the Hult Center with our best friends and watched the educational performance of Alice in Wonderland. It was a big hit with the boys (minus Leif who got to stay home with Dad) and Lola was an angel (did you doubt it?).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hidden In My Heart

Doll
I have a big smile on my face. I have the best blog readers, I tell ya! Kiley from Always Come Home, fellow mom of three boys and a little girl, asked if she could give Lola one of her beautifully handmade and personalized dolls. No way I was going to turn that down!!

Lola and Doll
Kiley's dolls are called Hidden In My Heart dolls because they have a sweet little heart on their tummy that holds a personalized scripture verse tag. How fabulous is that?!

Hidden In My Heart

Lola Tag

I'm thrilled that Lola's first doll is such a special treasure. I think Lola is pretty excited, too. Everytime her doll is around, she won't take her eyes off of her (except when mommy is making crazy funny faces to make her smile at the camera...).

Lola and Doll 3
(And Lola makes a few funny faces at mom, too.)

Lola and Doll 4

Doll Dress

Lola and I both love the dress fabric. It is so sweet and cheerful. It was one of the many details I got to pick out for the personalized doll.

Lola and Doll 6
Check out Hidden In My Heart Dolls on facebook. I think they make fabulous, meaningful, keepsake gifts!! Thank you, thank you, Kiley!

Lola and Doll 5

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's a Skill, People


The book (a favorite around here) which caused my four year old to enthusiastically announce, "Eating chocolate is a skill, Mom!!"

Why, yes, son. Yes, it is.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 5

Levi and Lola
Classical Conversations: Week 17.
Bible memory, history time line, Star Spangled Banner, presentations (public speaking), science experiments, famous artist/art project, geography, history/science/Latin/grammar/math memory work, and gym/social time.

CC Memory Review

Bible:
Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed verses)
Children's Illustrated Bible (Luke, read aloud and independently)
Day by Day Kid's Bible (Levi, independently)
The Early Reader's Bible (Leif, read aloud)

Hymns:
Cedarmont Kids: Hymns (CD)
This Is My Father's World (mom on piano)

Fine Arts:
Memorizing The Tyger by William Blake
(Levi) Famous Artist lapbook pages (for CC)
Dancing With Degas by Merberg and Bober
I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina by Anna Pavlova illustrated with art by Degas
A Child's Introduction to Ballet
Alice in Wonderland Ballet (attended educational performance at The Hult!!)
Alice in Wonderland poetry by Lewis Carroll


ballet

Geography/Cultures
:
Geography Songs: Western Europe
Around the World Coloring Book: Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Countries Around the World: Austria (DVD)
Countries Around the World: Switzerland (DVD)
(CC Geography review/drawing Europe)
The Sound of Music (DVD)
(Luke playing Edelweiss on piano :))

Language Arts:
Grammar Island (pgs 127-147)
Building Language (pgs 3-41)

Spelling:
AAS: Steps 10-12

Handwriting:
HWT work book pages

Latin:
Song School Latin: Ch. 8, 9

Spanish:
DVD lessons: 1/2/3,4

Leif

Math:
Drill Worksheets at Home School Math
Math Brain (online games)
Math Noodlers (board game)

Science:
Newton's Second Law of Motion at Khan Academy (online video)
Bill Nye: Patterns (DVD)
Bill Nye: Measurement (DVD)


Play

History:

War Boy: A Country Childhood by Michael Foreman (childhood war memoir by an English artist/children's book illustrator, fabulous!)
{October 45} Childhood Memories of the War by Jean-Louis Besson (another childhood war memoir by French illustrator)
Truce by Jim Murphy
The 1940s Decade in Photos: A World at War by Jim Corrigan
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy
D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion by Richard Platt
My Secret War Diary by Maria Williams

Levi's Assigned Reading:
The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy (247 pgs)
A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer (104 pgs)
Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop (76 pgs)

Family Read-Aloud:
Little Britches by Ralph Moody (ch 26-28)

Miscellaneous:
Star Spangled Banner
Great Americans for Children: Eleanor Roosevelt (DVD)
Prepared presentations for CC Week 18 (family presentation)
Valentine crafts for classmates

Luke piano practice Su, M, Tu, W+Lesson, F, Sa

Luke

"I don't need time. What I need is a deadline."

~Duke Ellington

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Q & A: Homeschooling

Homeschool
(I changed the font color to distinguish between questions and answers, but now my hyperlinks aren't showing up. There are a lot of links in this post. You just have to hover over the words to see them! Links will underline in green.) (And, WOWSA, this post ended up very long!)

Q: I am curious to know how you and your husband arrived at the decision to homeschool, and if your husband has always been on board? Our oldest begins kindergarten next year and my husband is really reluctant to let her homeschool. I am a bit intimidated but really eager to do it.

You can read the whole story at this link, but I'll give it to you in a nutshell. I knew I wanted to homeschool from the time I was homeschooled junior year of highschool. A week after I started dating Russ, I told him that I planned on homeschooling my kids. I thought he might want to know this as he was a public school teacher at the time. He said it sounded great and has been on board ever since. I know. I got REALLY lucky.

If my husband weren't on board, I would probably ask him if we could take it one year at a time and see how it goes. Sometimes men have to see how well it works for their own families before they are sold. If he was a reading kind of guy, I would ask him to read Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, which was written by a public school teacher/homeschooling dad. If you want something shorter to offer him, you might like
Why We Homeschool.

Maybe I should make my sister do a guest post about deciding to homeschool and getting her husband to agree! Holly.... ?

Q: I'd love to know a bit more about your homeschooling approach.

We have a Christian (Neo-)Classical approach to our homeschool, though in practice this is more relaxed and eclectic for us. I wrote more about classical education here and here. I want their lives to be full and rich and wonderful, and I think a Christian Classical education is a great place to start. In the end, though, it isn't about following a specific educational plan, but what will help my child be the best Levi, Luke, Leif, and Lola he or she was meant to be. They aren't the same, and their individual educations will reflect that. We'll adjust things as we go along and as my children develop into their own persons.

Q: Can you tell us your pros and cons of classical education now that you are in it and why you chose it?

I knew that I wanted to homeschool my kids, but I didn't have a specific educational philosophy until I read The Well-Trained Mind a year before Levi was born. I devoured the book in one weekend and haven't looked back.

Classical education (as presented in The Well-Trained Mind) appealed to me in every way. It is logical, systematical, chronological, rigorous, and comprehensive. And rich and beautiful.


I love the way learning is broken down into three stages. Grammar: learning the 'grammar' or vocabulary/facts/ideas/stories of each subject including Latin. This is the 'input' stage roughly during grades 1-4. Logic: organizing and processing the facts and ideas of each subject during the middle years (grades 5-8). How? Why? Is this true? Rhetoric: using the processed information to create and express one's self. This occurs during grades 9-12.

I love the way history and literature are studied together chronologically over four years, and repeated during each learning stage. I love the way other subjects are organized in that framework. During the logic stage, a student is able to discover how music, art, science, and even math work together and fit into the timeline of history. I find the arguments for the study of Latin to be compelling. (Click here to read them!) A strong foundation in English grammar and writing is vitally important. I want my children to study Logic and Rhetoric as subjects, so they can learn to think and express themselves well.

The cons? I suppose that a 'by the book' classical education would be more difficult for a student who either is not a strong reader/writer or has a consuming interest that takes up a large amount of time (such as music or a sport). Homeschooling makes up the difference, however, allowing for significant flexibility. My sister has a son who doesn't enjoy reading or writing, but she spent four years reading aloud, using audio books, and coaching him through the reading and writing process. He has really done well in grammar and Latin. He has also had time left over for his outside interests. And he now possesses skills and ideas which will benefit him no matter where life takes him. (I have a feeling one of my sons will be following in his footsteps.)

Art Class
Q: I'm really curious about the classical conversations. Is it just one day a week? What do you do the rest of the week? Is it costly? Could you give a breakdown of your day as far as homeschooling? Does the classical conversation have a curriculum and then do you follow that at home?

I know many people have missed my previous posts that answer a few of those questions (which are the same ones I had in the beginning!), so I'll share the links which will give more in depth answers (click on the titles):

Classical Conversations (an overview of the program)
Classical Conversations In Detail: Part I (what a day at CC is like)
Classical Conversations In Detail: Part II (why I value the program, particularly the memory work)
A Day in the Life (a look inside our homeschool day at home)

In a nutshell:
Classical Conversations is a one day a week program. My boys are only registered for Foundations, which is a morning program, but an afternoon session (Essentials) is available for grades 4-6, and the Challenge program (grades 7-12) is a full day.

For Foundations (one morning a week, 24 weeks per year, grades K4-6), students are encouraged to review memory work during the week, prepare a short presentation for the following week, and occasionally work on fine arts or geography projects at home (such as practicing the tin whistle or practicing outlining maps). Other than that, the individual families choose how much or how little they wish to expand on topics during the week.

In the early grades, one would need a separate curriculum for reading, handwriting, and math at the bare minimum to work on during the rest of the week. In my humble opinion, one should also add spelling, English grammar, and writing (though the afternoon session beginning in 3rd or 4th through 6th would cover language arts if you chose to do that). And then there's history and science. Which kind of brings us around to why do Classical Conversations in the first place and why would one pay for it? Read the first and third links above.

The Foundations cost with registration, tuition, supplies, and facility costs runs about $450-500 per student, per year (24 weeks) (facility costs vary by group). You have to purchase the Foundations guide and timeline cards (you only need one per family for all years of Foundations) which is about $170 and tin whistles for each child ($10 each). I think the audio CDs with the memory work are indispensable ($30 per cycle, per family).

Q: I'm considering seriously CC for next year for my oldest who will be 8 next fall. I am hoping to be more independent next year, but have found he might need more interaction in an environment like CC. Do you find there is a good balance/are the boys challenged/do you still think it's a good choice for you? I'd like to be more motivated 'internally' less externally. Planned but less driven by someone elses agenda. I think we've got the framework of academic study, but I feel like we're always doing a 'check list'. Less of work or reading based on interest. btw, we follow a classical plan. Cc seems like it will be more of the same, skipping over areas that I want to spend more time on. But perhaps it is more of an opportunity, than a hindrance.

Q: Yes, I still think it was the perfect choice for my family at this stage of our homeschool. Yes, the boys are engaged and challenged. The boys thrive on the interaction, and it has made it much easier to streamline our learning during the week with all three boys learning and excited about the same topics. BUT, we were coming off of a year of relaxed schooling, lots of reading based on interest, and needing that shot in the arm (accountability) to enter a more rigorous stage of schooling.

The thing to remember about CC is that you need to make it fit your family rather than the other way around. If you have time to devote a day to class and have time to review memory work during the week (the audio CD makes this easy, especially if you spend any time in the car!), you can easily do your own thing for the rest of your week at home. The memory work is beneficial (because it sticks with you!), even if you don't cover that material or those topics at home that very week. And you might find that it sends you on exciting rabbit trails!

I should also mention here that the program is only 24 weeks out of the year, which leaves quite a bit of time to 'do your own thing.'

In the end, it is going to work well for some families, and not so much for others. That's okay.

Q: What made you switch from Sequential Spelling to All About Spelling?

A: Osmosis wasn't working, I guess. I wanted more. Whys and Hows. Nuts and bolts. Starting at the beginning and understanding where we were going one piece at a time. I didn't want a workbook. I wanted to learn the phonograms, but I didn't want to have to attend a class to figure out the program. I wanted ONLY spelling. I wanted something scripted. I didn't want something that my students worked on independently. I wanted something that appealed to the learning personalities of my boys. Rich and complex, but easy to use. Voila. All About Spelling. I LOVE it.

I love it so much that I signed up to be an affiliate. So, if you want to learn more about All About Spelling (or are ready to purchase), feel free to
click on this link!!

I'll post more about AAS as we go along. (Incidentally, it reminds me of RightStart Math and Handwriting Without Tears in many ways.)

Q: Okay, my question is about your science...that is so not my strong point. It seems you use a lot of Bill Nye, but is there a rhyme and reason to what your studying and when...any SPINE, so to speak, that you are launching from?

A: Yes. I posted a little more detail here, but I'll give you another nutshell. We've used the Christian Kids Explore Science series for a couple years. I love it for several reasons. Most of all because it plays out like The Story of the World does for history. There are four books which correspond to the science divisions recommended in The Well-Trained Mind. We read the narrative chapter, do oral review, pick and choose activities, use vocabulary for copywork, and add on with picture books, encyclopedias, and videos during the week.

Now that we are doing CC, we've used instead the weekly science memory work as our spine during these 24 weeks. We'll pick back up with Christian Kids Explore Chemistry in April when CC is completed for the year and probably work through the summer in a relaxed, fun manner. And then we'll do CC, then CKE Physics. I'm not sure what we'll be doing for the next four-year cycle.

The boys also watch a lot of science videos, read books, go on field trips, etc. that DON'T correspond with our science topic. (Like additional Bill Nye videos.)


Q: I'm curious as to how you come up with all your fine arts ideas. You have such fabulous resources, and I wonder when/how you manage to pull it all together!

Well, the most effective way for me to accomplish something is to start it when I am procrastinating on some other, more important task. Which is exactly when I put together our fine arts schedule. I already had some of the links and resources, but I got many more from The Well-Trained Mind Forums, an amazing place to hang out (particularly when I'm procrastinating....). And I just add to that original post as I find new links and resources.

I spend a little bit of time each month gathering stuff for the specific artist, composer, and poet we are currently studying (usually when I'm procrastinating....).

Q: I was wondering if there are any organizational systems that work for you. I can only imagine with homeschooling, family, kids, etc. there is so much stuff to keep track of. Do you have any systems that work well for you? How do you store, rotate, purge all the stuff? Do you have any systems in play for storing the kids stuff, library books, meal planning, family activities, basically anything that has to do with family life or homeschooling? I would love to hear your thoughts.

A: Um. This is a very short answer. I am an organizational failure. I can't think of one 'system' that I use consistently and that works. The end.

Q: When do you find the time to write at such length, on such a variety of topics and when does blogging become too much...in other words...How do you balance the blogging with real life?

You know, I'm going to have to revise my answer to the previous question. Blogging is the one organizational system that seems to work for me. Four years worth of memories, pictures, homeschooling information, links, recipes, inspiration, ideas, and even friendships. They are all here. Chronologically, tagged by subject. The blog is free and makes no mess. I can work on my blog in one minute breaks here and there or in the late evening when the kids are in bed or when my kids are reading or playing on their own.

There are definitely times I find myself on the computer when I shouldn't be here. The kids are going crazy and I have other things to do. There are times I've taken breaks intentionally and unintentionally. But I go back and see all that I've collected here and it reconfirms my decision and desire to keep my blog and spend time posting.

Blogging is an extension of my real life. I don't feel obligated to keep at it and there are days (and sometimes weeks) I won't post because I have other priorities. But you will most likely find me here for a long time to come.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And Yet....

Lola in Cradle
Even on the rough days, when we don't get out of our jammies even though there is very little sleeping happening, and mommy barely restrains herself from auctioning off a few boys....

Levi reads a ballerina book to Lola (who just loves to look at big brother).

Levi and Lola

Luke sings to Lola.

Luke and Lola

And there are smiles and giggles.

Lola ~ 4 months

Oh, darling girl. Has it really been four months?!

Tug-of-War

Today (and so many days) feels like one long, never-ending game of tug-of-war. Straining. Straining. Straining, just to gain an inch....only to lose five. And at the end of the day still no ground gained even though it feels like you've battled a whole army (or three little boys, which amounts to the same thing). Ever feel like that? Sigh.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 4

Classical Conversations: Week 16.
Bible memory, history time line, Star Spangled Banner, presentations (public speaking), science experiment, famous artist/art project, geography, history/science/Latin/grammar/math memory work, and gym/social time.

CC Memory Review

Bible:
Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed verses )
Children's Illustrated Bible (Luke, read aloud)
Day by Day Kid's Bible (Levi, independently)
The Early Reader's Bible (Leif, read aloud)

Hymns:
Cedarmont Kids: Hymns (CD)

Fine Arts:
Memorizing The Tyger by William Blake
A Visit to William Blake's Inn by Nancy Willard
Read and watched Linnea in Monet's Garden (by Christina Bjork and on Netflix Streaming)
Watercolor painting
(Levi) Famous Artist lapbook pages (for CC)
Listened to the radio shows about Haydn at Classics for Kids

Geography/Cultures:
Geography Songs: Southern Europe
Around the World Coloring Book: Greece
Countries Around the World: Greece (DVD)
Countries Around the World: Romania (DVD)
(CC Geography review/drawing Europe)

Grammar:
Grammar Island (pgs 64-126)

Spelling:
AAS: Steps 6-9

Handwriting:
HWT work book pages

Latin:
Song School Latin: Ch. 7

Spanish:
DVD lessons: 1/2/2

Math:
Drill Worksheets
Math Brain (online games)
Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander
MathTacular 3: Pi (DVD)
Geometry videos at Khan Academy


Science:
Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia: Momentum
The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim (Chapter 16: Newton Moves)
Newton's First Law of Motion at Khan Academy (online video)
Bill Nye: Heart (DVD)
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Super Sea Creatures and Awesome Ocean Adventures (DVD)

History:
History Encyclopedias (Usborne-Luke, Kingfisher-Levi): World War II Era
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Secret Agent During World War II by John Malam
The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margaret and H. A. Rey by Louise Borden
Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

Levi's Assigned Reading:
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr (191 pgs)
Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari (212 pgs)
The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig (243 pgs)

Luke's Assigned Reading:
The King's Equal by Katherine Paterson
Tippy Lemmey by Patricia C. McKissack

Family Read-Aloud:
Little Britches by Ralph Moody (ch 21-25)

Miscellaneous:
Soar, Elinor by Tami Lewis Brown

Popular Mechanics for Kids: Firefighters and Other Lifesaving Heroes (DVD)
Timon and Pumbaa: Safety Smart About Fire! (DVD)

Star Spangled Banner
Prepared presentations for CC Week 17 (jokes)

Luke piano practice Su, M, Tu, W+Lesson, Th,

Levi's Free Reading:
A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons by Cressida Cowell
How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell
How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse by Cressida Cowell
The 39 Clues: Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park


"Like effects in nature are produced by like causes, as breathing in man and beast, the fall of stones in Europe and in America, the light of the kitchen fire and of the sun, the reflection of light on the earth and on the planets."

~Isaac Newton, The Principia

Friday, February 4, 2011

Question and Answer: Part I

Q: Are there any specific things that your boys argue over (I'm sure they don't fight...) without names is the hierarchy an issue... do you have one specific grain of hopeful advice you wish to pass on to a mom, wrestling with boys.

A: I'm here scratching my head trying to think of something they DON'T fight over. Hmmm. Everything is a competition or a physical interaction. Sadly, the thing they fight over the most is who gets to pick the TV show they are going to watch, since there is only one TV. (Yeah, that should be an easy problem to solve.)

Since my boys are still young, I'm not sure I'm the one to ask for hopeful advice. {wry grin} How about: the personality traits that make successful adults aren't always the easiest to take in children, particularly boys. I console myself with that line often, so please don't burst my bubble.

On the positive side, I will say that my oldest son is a great big brother in that he is a 'the more the merrier' personality and needs 'subjects' and players for his imaginative ideas. The two younger guys are usually happy to play along. They are team players, but have fewer imaginative ideas of their own. For the most part, we don't seem to have hierarchy issues, but that is more due to the way the personalities are distributed, I think. Leif is a very capable little guy and Levi is happy to get interaction. If Leif were the oldest and Levi the youngest, we'd have problems.

Oh, I thought of something else positive. God has changed ME from a control-freak perfectionist to a slightly more relaxed/flexible human being who is much less judgemental of other parents than I would have been with three sweet, quiet, well-behaved daughters. Sort of like praying for patience. Sigh.

Q: I'd like to hear more about how you manage your boys. Mine are 2 and 4, and I can't believe how much physical violence I have to nip in the bud already. How have you tried to raise your lads to get along with each other? How do you encourage them to exhaust their aggressive impulses somewhere other than on each other? How much do you step in, and how do you discipline them when a line has been crossed? I figure you must have some wisdom to pass along in this department, or you would have been institutionalized by now.

A: Don't ask me today. An insane asylum sounds REALLY GOOD about now. I often wish to sit in a padded cell all by myself. In total silence. I find it easier to put up with their physical aggression than the noise. They are all tough boys who take turns instigating and no one boy gets the brunt of injuries, so they deserve what they have coming to them. (Don't I sound sympathetic?) I suppose I'd step in more often if they were less evenly matched.

But the noise. OH, THE NOISE!!!!!!!!! They all talk (LOUDLY) or make noises NON-STOP. Today, I would like to bury my head under the pillows and stay there. I can't. function.

When things get really crazy, I either have them go run around the outside of the house or send them to separate corners to read quietly. I really want to get them on swim team SOON so that they can use up their energy on exercise rather than on each other.

Q: My question has to do with photography...Specifically, how do you backup your photos? I back up to an external hard drive but keep looking at all of those online storage sites. I just keep thinking if we have a fire I could lose my computer and my backup and my prints all at once. Thoughts?

AND

I also am curious to know about your photo backup procedure. I'm thinking of putting more stuff online that I want to remember about my kids (besides just pictures) in case of a fire or something. A lot of those memories would be gone (funny things they say, etc). I guess you could call it "Backing up their baby books".

A: Right now I have an external backup drive, but I don't use it often enough. My hubby bought a new backup device for me, but he started using it and now he doesn't want to give it to me. (Silly guy.) I REALLY need to get more of a procedure in place to protect all my photos. All the photos I post on my blog are also on Flickr, but they are in the format I use on my blog and a lower resolution than I'd use for printing. At least I'd have SOMETHING in case of fire, etc. I do think of my blog as a sort of scrapbook of our life, and feel good about having it stored online just in case. I probably won't be using an online storeage service for all my photos due to cost.

Q: Now this may sound funny, but in all serious, do you get to shower every day? I have three (6, 3 and 6 mos), and some days, I don't get a shower. I've stopped feeling bad about it. I brush my teeth, wash my face, comb my hair and move on.

A: Actually, I DO get a shower every day. I feel bleh all day if I don't and my hair looks awful (the bad part about having short hair that can't go in a ponytail). But, before you are highly impressed, let me assure you that it only means there are other things that don't happen. Like starting our day at a reasonable time. It also means that my boys watch TV almost every morning to keep them out of trouble while I'm showering. Sometimes they watch educational DVDs, but they also watch more than their fair share of mindless cartoons. It was much more difficult when the boys were younger (and in need of a constant watchful eye). I'd put Leif in the exersaucer to keep him from roaming around.

Q: 1. How did you meet your husband?

A: You can read the long story here. (Click on the link.) We went to high school together one year, but I didn't ever meet him there. We first met at the swimming pool where he was working. (I wasn't swimming, but that's part of the long story.) My friend knew a little bit about him and told me his story. The next day I told my mom I'd met the guy I was going to marry. I ended up on a double date with him (and my friend and his best friend) two months later. Three weeks later and we were talking about marriage. We got married nine months after we started dating. I was almost 22 and he was 25. This month marks our fifteenth anniversary!

2. What jobs have you had?

I picked strawberries when I was younger. I babysat and cleaned houses when I was in middle and high school. I picked elephant garlic and hoed something one summer (awful).

I started working at a dental office when I was thirteen. Worked there one or two days a week after school until I was a junior in high school and started working there full afternoons. A couple years later I started working full time at the dentist office and stayed until I got married and moved out of town.

While working at the dentist office, I worked part time at a department store (disliked) and then a small candy store/soda shop (loved). I also occasionally worked for a florist helping decorate for weddings.

After I was married, I worked a few months in the gift department of a pharmacy then worked for an oral surgeon surgeon for a few years. During those years, my sister, mom, and I opened our own gift shop. I stopped working at the oral surgeon's before getting pregnant with Levi. When Luke came along, I was no longer much help at the gift shop, either. Now parenting and teaching are full time jobs, but I manage to sneak in photo sessions here and there.

3. Do you like to make supper?

I really dislike it. If I had nothing else on the to-do list and could make things that *I* liked to eat (and everyone else ate it, too) I might enjoy it more. I'd much rather bake goodies.

4. Do you give your boys chores? If so, what are they?

Levi is the only one with set chores, mostly because his head is in the clouds and needs clear expectations. He always empties the dishwasher and takes the big garbage and recycling bins down our LONG driveway each week (and brings them up).

Luke is a natural helper. I can usually just ask him to do something and he is happy to do it. Levi was busy this morning, so I asked Luke to empty the dishwasher. He spent probably twenty minutes completely emptying out my disasterous flatware drawer and perfectly organizing it. He enjoys helping with laundry or meals.

Leif doesn't have specific chores, either, but I think he'll be good at them when he gets a little older. Both Luke and Leif are little shadows when any project is being done around the house, and they want to be involved.

(More Qs & As (mostly homeschooling) coming in another post. Stay tuned. Feel free to ask more questions if you think of them!)