Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I have been re-reading books as the kids are getting older: books that have been sitting on my shelves since I was a girl, or ones I picked up in college, or that I chose to put in my classroom, or even ones that I borrowed from the library in ages past.  It is odd how differently I see some of the stories now.  Even the books I read when Kate was a little bitty thing are different.  I see the things I would like to hide from the children, of course, the death, the saddness, but the characters I relate to have changed as well.

Once upon a time, I saw myself in Anne and Diana in the L.M. Montgomery's books, now I see Kate as Anne.  Oh, I see so much Anne in Kate!  I see some of Jo March in her too.  I have moved on to Marilla and Marmee.  I left behind even Professor McGonagall for Molly Weasley.  Of course Molly is younger than the professor, but instead of being the teacher, I am the mama of many.

So, as I go back to visit these old friends, whose stories I have known, I find that while they have stayed the same, I have not.  I see the mothers and care takers, as they struggle to raise the children in their care--and that's where I am these days.  At least there are still some nice characters to relate to, we'll just hope I don't turn in to some of the grumpy, nosy, gossipy old women in their pages by the time I return to them again!

Do you have books that your view has changed of as you have grown?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School Books '14

I can't believe how quickly the children are growing, but here we are with Kate in fourth grade and Gabby in second!

We are sticking with Noeo for science this year and we have reached the fourth (and final) volume of Story of the World.  In those subjects we are studying physics, which is phun, of course.  Sorry.  I couldn't help myself!  I don't buy the labs they recommend, but I did get both a magnet set and an electronics kit to do for labs instead.  In history we'll be studying modern history--in the first couple of chapters we've seen the re-opening of Japan to the west and the Crimean war.  We'll finally get to the Vietnam War, which I've never actually studied, since we never finished the text book when I was growing up.  That was not too terribly before my time, so getting much further on is somewhat like current events for me.  If you have a younger child tagging along in Story of the World, the activity book for the fourth volume we found requires assistance, as it moved from coloring pictures to writing outlines and figuring out what to label on the map with clues from the text, rather than the straightforward color the Mediterranean blue or trace the path from England to the New World of the previous volumes.

I am trying something different with our scheduling this year.  Rather than try to do science everyday or rotate between history and science every other day, as I've tried in the past, we are going to do history for a month or possibly even a quarter and then switch to science.  It will help us focus read alouds to one subject and I'll only have to keep ahead in one subject at a time to be sure we have needed books and supplies.  I may dislike it after awhile and switch back, but we're going to give it a go for now.

We took a year off from Latin last year, with the new baby, but to our benefit, the Latin program we used before, Song School, published a new volume, so we're going on with them this year.  It looks to teach some grammar in conjunction with the vocab, so I'm looking forward to learning that with the kids, since many of the words make sense to me, but I have no idea what the introductory college text I bought meant by declension!

The girls are both sticking with Singapore Mathematics for one more year.  Kate will move on after this year!  I've ordered her books 4B and 5A (she's finishing 4A now), which she may not quite get through before she moves on.  Next year there will be some big changes with her finishing one math curriculum and her history books and moving to a new challenge!

Gabby will continue with Writing with Ease.  I am also working with her in English for the Thoughtful Child.  I purchased it for Kate when she was too young to use it.  It had been pushed aside, but it fits Gabby well.

I moved Kate to Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  By the end of the third Writing with Ease book, it seemed too redundant for us, so I wanted something different.  She loves books, so this teaches many English skills through a book that the child reads concurrently.  The only downside for Kate is that it only uses 4 texts through out the year, when she could easily do more.  She keeps her library card busy to supplement though!

Both girls have been moved to Sequential Spelling this year.  Kate wasn't enjoying Spelling Power at all and she was often frustrated.  This had the added draw that all students begin at the beginning, so I could read the girls words together.  Kate has some competition, which is good for her.  We are still convincing Gabby that she's two years younger and should need a bit more help along the way.

In the mornings we do memory work.  Part of that is our vocabulary program, English from the Roots Up.  The girls seem so enjoy it, and it is very clear that the roots they learn now will be helpful in decoding new words for years to come.  We are also memorizing state capitals and the U.S. Presidents this year with fun books (Yo, Sacramento & Yo, Millard Fillmore).  This time is also used to practice multiplication tables (skip counting) and learn character lessons through We Choose Virtues.

Kate is back in Handwriting Without Tears.  She's also planning to join American Heritage Girls this fall as well, which I'm sure will teach her many great things as well.

As for Nate, when he asks to 'do' school we have a Big Preschool workbook, a Neighborhood Helpers coloring book, a Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book (and the rods), and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  We waited until Gabby was in kindergarten to start the 100 Easy Lessons, but, as Nate will be five this fall, but not begin school for another year, we let him do lessons as he is interested, but we don't push it at all yet.  I'm of the mind that children should be allowed to play unhampered as long as possible, but especially with where his birthday falls, I'll gladly let Nate do small snippets of school as he wishes.

Monday, August 11, 2014


My husband told me that I've been slacking on keeping up the blog.  I am having trouble finding as much time these days, but then again our computer has been giving us fits too.

We noticed that we sometimes had trouble restarting it, so we just left it on--it hibernated fine, just not the full shut down.  That's fine except that it shut down for automatic updates.  Over time it took us more and more days to get it restarted...yes, days.  We were contemplating buying a new computer.  The tax free weekend was coming up where we live, so we could at least save the tax cost.  Then I realized, we had bought this computer the week after tax free weekend last year...the computer was less than a year old.  Maybe it still had a warranty on what ever was malfunctioning!

The last time it was off for three days, so I got it working and then I called customer service.  They ran diagnostics on it.  The tech found nothing wrong in the 90 minutes of back and forth.  Then he shut it down remotely to see what happened.  It didn't turn back on.  Giving the motherboard beep code (I'd researched that before I called).  He offered to send me a box to send it back to them for repair.  In the four days we waited for the box to come and be sent off (due to a weekend), we never got it to turn back on.

I shipped it off on Tuesday of last week, and it is back in my hands already!  I hate that we had this problem, but I can say without any hesitation, that they did a great job in getting it right back to us (and not treating me like an imbecile while I was on the phone).  They didn't even ask if I was sure the thing was plugged in or charged up when I couldn't start it.  I had the ability to track it the whole way.  I could even see that they repaired and shipped it back the same day.  I'm also thankful for the little tablet and and netbook that we had to stay in touch with people in the mean time!

So, now if I can squeeze in some time and remember what I was actually going to write about, in those eked out moments, I will write a little more!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Funny

As my hands were peanut butter covered emptying out a jar, "Mama, can I lick your hands?"

[Ew!] "No, no you can't."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Funny

"Can we play Barbies and ninjas?"

Only in a house with a little brother!

Friday, July 11, 2014


Sometimes being home with the littles can be pretty isolating.  We moved here with three littles, so I didn't get out much right off.  Nate was a little baby, but very adventurous, making the park a real challenge.  In the past I always found a MOPS group to get involved in, but here I had Kate starting home school, so that was out too.  We're slowly finding relationships with people around us, but this summer has been a real treat for us.

We've had friends from west Tenneessee visit for an overnight with their three girls.

We had friends from Justin's home town visit for dinner while they were vacationing with her family in town.

 We had friends from Kansas (who had also left, but headed off to Indiana) stay with us for a few days with their boys.

Then a friend that was visiting her parents here in town stopped by for a playdate with her girls, when she was here from Maryland--I didn't get a picture of that group.

The kids have loved having extra people around, and I always enjoy it too.  I have teased my introverted husband that we should open a bed and breakfast when the kids are grown.  He's not quite on board yet with talking to strangers over breakfast each morning!  But we are thankful for all the visits and to get to see so many people without loading up our entire crew.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Home Schooling in Tennessee

Somehow we have home schooled 4 years already!

For the first three years, we chose the Independent Home School option.  We registered with the local school district (we've lived in two different counties, so we have registered with two different boards of education at different times), provided a list of what we would be learning, the kids immunization records, and my college transcripts (since it is required you must have at least a high school diploma to teach your children in TN).  At the end of the year we submitted our attendance record (a calendar with the days we completed four hours of instruction marked off).

We never had any bumps in that system, but we made a change for last year.  We switched to the other option for home schoolers in TN.  We were expecting Elliana and wanted to have more flexibility in when our school year began and ended (the calendars for the local district ran from July 1st to June 30th.  We could begin earlier with a Church-related Umbrella School.  We chose HomeLife Academy for our umbrella school.

In addition to the benefit of a bit of extra wiggle room in the calendar this option also means our children will not be a part of the testing that is required for students at certain grade levels (5th, 7th, and 9th).  We aren't opposed to all testing, actually we paid to test Kate before and will test all the kids again, since some day they will probably need to take standardized tests, I don't know what is on those tests to prepare them at all.

On the down side of the umbrella option, we do have to pay enrollment fees, since hey have expenses on their end.  I also submit an education plan and grades for each student with this option.  There are subjects that are hard to give grades, and without anyone to compare the girls to, I am sure I sometimes grade them a little harder.  Thankfully they do have a pass/fail option for grades too, so I do use that for classes like art.  They maintain records for us, provide digital report cards, and will generate a diploma when the time comes.  These are things I can do, but it is nice to have off site copies too.  I have not used the resource, but our umbrella school also offers counseling services and they will handle paperwork for driver's licenses and ID cards.

Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but over all we've been pleased with both options when we've used them.

Here is a link to the TN Department of Education's regulations on home school.

I'm linking up to the Homeschooling State by State: