HELLO

Hi there.
This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and swim team practices, scrapbooker and founder of the Good Grief Blog.
Life is good.

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Tuesday
Sep202016

Ten on Tuesday...things making me happy this week

1. Yesterday, my sweet nephew wanted to Facetime with us. Apparently, he randomly starts talking to all of us (naming each of us) while at home in Washington from time to time. He asks to visit us. My sister has no idea why, but we think it's fabulous. :) I neglected to take a screenshot of the actual call, but here's a pic of Blaze and me back in June:

 

2. We binge watched the first season of Supergirl (on Netflix) in the past week. I love that the boys picked it and that we all enjoyed it together...suspended reality and all, lol.

3. In the middle of that marathon, and as part of our geography studies, we watched "Invictus" also. Great movie and love an educational opportunity that's actually appreciated!

4. I'm happy to say that I survived boot camp on Monday. It wasn't abnormally hard or anything. I'm just feeling happy that I *can* do boot camp, kwim? That I have the time and ability to go and that I've gotten strong enough to handle it...feels good.

5. The nail polish color currently on my toes is named "Fall in Love." Smile.

6. Relatedly, I'm so ready for fall! I LOVE fall. It makes me happy for so many reasons...back to school, sweater and boot weather, beautiful foliage, crisp apples. Happy sigh.

7. Also so happy because I found this awesome pair of shoes yesterday at a local consignment-like shop...they're by Born and red and practically new! Plus they were in my size (a sign, right?!) and at a great price:

Seriously, this find made me smile most of Monday. ;)  

8. Awhile back, I asked on Facebook for book recommendations for Asher. (Thanks, again! We've been working through the list.) Right now, both Asher and I are reading the Mistborn trilogy and we're big fans. Thanks, Kevin, for the recommendation!

9. Even though I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed by my current homeschooling (and life) routine, I'm pretty happy with how things are going...that we're getting it done, that we've made so much progress in our approach over the years, that there are such exciting resources available. Working now on not being overwhelmed by choices so that I can get to it and stop debating and trying to fit more in, lol. 

10. Micah made Cowboy Calzones for dinner tonight. They're yummy!

Okay, off to bed soon-ish. Happy rest of the week to you!

Saturday
Sep172016

Checking in...homeschooling edition...

Yes. I know I've been a bit quiet here. Just working on sorting out our new "normal" and trying to stay on track. ;) For a bit of catching up...

1. Asher and Micah joined a local homeschool Science Olympiad team. I think it's going to be a great experience for them...both socially (being part of a team...more people for Micah to talk to regularly, lol) and academically. We're still learning the ropes and sorting out our part in everything but are excited about things to come. So far, the boys have met for training (for various events that they're signed up) a few times...

(Most of the team was here and this is just over half of them...the left three were working on building a tower, and the right two were learning about building gliders.) They've also gotten together for a team building afternoon at Loveland Laser Tag...

So. Science Olympiad is one of the things we're working to add to our routine. I know it's going to mean more work and more structure than we're accustomed to but think/hope that the challenge will be good for us. I'm hoping to get way more organized about it all over the weekend. Then I'll feel a little less overwhelmed, lol.

2. Along the way, we've also been reconnecting with our homeschool group. We've been part of it since Micah was born (when Noah started kindergarten) but have been much less active of late, as we've focused more on our own thing. Last weekend, Asher, Micah and I hit the annual Not Back to School Picnic and had a lovely time with friends...

This was a portion of the kids...picking teams for Capture the Flag. I love that all ages were able to easily play together without direction and that they reconvened to pick new teams fairly often to keep things even. 

3. Thursday, thanks to our homeschool group, Asher, Micah and I went on a field trip/tour of our local water treatment plant. It was really educational (lots of information we hadn't known)...maybe not all the way to "fun" but definitely worthwhile. :) Due to the security, phones/cameras weren't allowed, so I don't have any pictures. Boys, though, let me take their silly picture with glasses of water once we got home...

4. Just for the record, the rest of our "normal" homeschooling is continuing to go fairly well. 

I think that's it for now regarding our present homeschooling journey...whew.

Friday
Sep022016

State of the School Year

Hi. 

So, we're two weeks into our school year now. Figured I'd do a quick check in. Mostly, things are going pretty well...for instance:

- Here's the new game the boys and I played this week during our school work:

It's called Prime Climb and they were both darn happy with it (enough so that they pleaded with the rest of us to play with them again later in the evening). Since it encouraged practice in arithmetic and prime numbers and such, I'm calling that a win. :) Working on incorporating more fun into our homeschooling this year...

- We're enjoying our new ASL curriculum! Asher, Micah and I have completed four lessons so far and have been practicing having conversations with each other, to the chagrin of Nathan and Noah who have no idea what we're saying. ;) 

- The boys won't admit it, but they've liked hearing the abridged versions of Shakespeare that I've read to them so far (as part of our early modern history unit). Micah, in fact, would strongly prefer that his Kids on Stage class at Options do Hamlet instead of Cinderella for the winter program, as is currently the plan, lol. 

- An unexpected benefit of our new geography curriculum (which I like!) is that it's providing practice in note-taking. My plans already had including working specifically on note-taking skills later so this is extra. Yay!

 

I'm not going to say that it's all been peachy, though. Two weeks is enough to have started learning what our challenges are...specifically:

- Historically, I know that language arts is the subject the boys most dislike...which, in the past, has meant that I've eventually given up on pushing it, deciding it wasn't worth the struggle. I can feel it happening already, lol. But. Boys are getting older and this is important. So. We're going to need patience and perseverance. We're going to need to push. Wish me luck! 

- I'm trying to find my chauffeur zen, lol. I counted and I'm spending about 8 hours a week in the car just driving boys to and from things (and everything is only 5-15 minutes away, and that doesn't include the time at the things or any extras that aren't weekly). I know others spend even more time (which is crazy!) and could use any suggestions and hints on how to better deal with this. To date, driving hasn't bothered me...I have boys' schedules pretty organized and do a decent job of making use of my time during things like karate and gymnastics. It's Noah's schedule that's making this semester overwhelming. With his classes at FRCC, I need to make TWELVE trips to and from (one trip is both to and from) the community college each week. We looked into public transportation, but that's not great. (The bus schedule is such that it would take too long by bus...45 minutes not counting the walking time to and from the bus stops...for an otherwise 10-15 minute trip.)

- Trying to look on the bright side, I'm using those trips to FRCC as part of the required driving time Noah needs toward his drivers permit. (He needs to log 50 hours and a full year from the time he got the permit before he can get his license.) Even so, it's going to take deliberate work to get the required hours, and it's unlikely we'll make it by his birthday. I'm aiming for at least before spring semester starts. :)

(This is because we haven't really done any of the hours between last December and this past month. It's at least partially Subaru's fault. You see...back at the start of the year, we got one of those lovely notices about the passenger seat airbag recall--you've probably heard about it; it affected LOTS of vehicles, not just Subarus. The recall notice basically said we shouldn't ride in that seat until the airbag was replaced (or risk being impaled by shrapnel should the airbag go off)...which they would do...as soon as they got the replacement airbag. So. We waited. Because it's difficult to be the instructing ride-along parent when you can't ride in the passenger seat. After numerous "updates" on when the replacement would happen, we finally got it fixed on Monday. Yes, this past Monday! Sigh. Anyhow, that's part of the reason.)

- And, finally, attitude. We're really going to work this year on attitude...on two fronts. First, we're working on decreasing the eye rolls and heavy sighs when it's time to do schoolwork. I'm trying to emphasize to the boys that homeschooling is a choice and a privilege. They know this; they do. What they don't always remember is how their actions make me feel. :)

Second, we're going to work on editing. In my head, again, this has two parts. First, I need them to continue working on understanding that editing is not evil...that offering correction or marking something as wrong is not the end of the world and should not be taken personally...that, in fact, it's a good thing showing that you have something to learn, which should be embraced. (Certain sons have more trouble with this than others...) Second, I need them to learn the value of editing and making mistakes and improving on something. I want them to move past claiming that they've "got" something sufficiently and understand the benefit of practice. I found a quote that may become a mantra: "Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong." 

 

Whew. Just needed to record this somewhere. Thanks for reading if you got this far!  ;)

And that's how our school year is going...

Tuesday
Aug232016

2016-2017 Homeschool Plan

Done with day one of our home portion of our homeschooling! Don't want to get hugely behind on this, so... Rather than write out full reports on what's what this year, I'm just going to make comments on my curriculum list (as updated now over to the left under each boy's name). If you have questions or want more details, please just tell me...very happy to discuss. But, in the interest of time and preventing potential boredom, I'm gonna go shorter this year and just get it all out of the way in one shot. ;) 

First off, in general...continuing to homeschool both Asher and Micah. At present, Asher wants to just continue homeschooling with me through high school, so that's our plan. Micah wants to do high school at CEC like Noah but needs to wait till he turns 14. In our homeschooling, we continue with our mostly six weeks on, one week off approach...so six sessions throughout the year with a bit of a summer break. On a daily level, we tend to do independent work in the mornings (things like math and language arts primarily) and group work in the afternoons.

Now. For the specific plan...

MATH
- Art of Problem Solving, Algebra
Life of Fred: Fractions, Decimals & Pre-Algebra 
Beast Academy 5A, 5B (plus 5C and 5D if they get published in time)
Math for the Gifted Student: Grades 5 & 6 

So, for math this year, I'm splitting the boys up. I've tried various combinations of this over the years but decided last year that they're using each other as crutches too much so am separating them this year. :) Asher will be working on algebra with me (using the first item there--I've used it with Noah and like it) and Micah will be reinforcing middle school math mostly on his own (using the last three). I'm not married to this plan, so we'll see if this is still what we're doing in a month.

LANGUAGE ARTS
Wordly Wise, book 6
Reading Detective
Don't Forget to Write
Caught Ya: Grammar With a Giggle 
- self-selected reading 

Since we're "done" with a formal spelling curriculum, I switched to vocabulary (Wordly Wise). I also added in a reading comprehension dealio (Reading Detective). For that, I'm starting with the Rx workbook because I like how it tackles one specific thing at a time. Once they finish those, I'll see where things stand. I've not really done anything specific to reading after having taught, well, how to read (aside from lots of talking about things) but am realizing that maybe we need a bit more focus on that.

For writing, the main goal this year is to actually do it. ;) I found this book (Don't Forget to Write) at a used book fair and like that it simply has a collection of favorite lesson plans from classrooms. I'm going to pick and choose which interest us from the middle school portion of the book. I'm *hoping* that the less structured approach will be more likely to keep our interest. (We didn't do a good job of following through with any of the writing programs I tried last year, for various reasons.)

For grammar, I took a look at my long term plan and decided that next year is the year to really push grammar. (You may recall that with Noah I decided that grammar in general is very often just repeated year after year with not much new being introduced. So. With him, I waited until just before he started high school and hit grammar pretty hard for a solid year.) In the meantime, I'm planning to try the Caught Ya plan and see how that goes, just to keep up some practice and such. (The approach is similar to things like Easy Grammar...just a sentence or two a day that needs correcting. But, Caught Ya follows a silly story, making it much more entertaining.)

And, for reading, we'll continue with required but self-selected reading. Boys each need to read at least 600 pages per six week session on their own time. Usually they end up reading much more than that, particularly since I offer an incentive of $10 per 1000 pages. :) There are a few books for history that I'd like us all to read...I'm toying around with whether to read them aloud or have each boy read a copy of his own.

SCIENCE
The Story of Science: Aristotle & Newton
How to Teach Nutrition to Kids 

I feel like we've really covered middle school science already, both formally and through life. This year, then, I'm just reading from the Story of Science books...as they're fun and educational. I like that it offers a different perspective by telling the history behind the science.

Further, and especially since Micah continues in his self-directed cooking instruction, I'm going to cover nutrition. :)

Also, we're going to do Science Olympiad with a local group. I'll add more about that when I know more about that. 

HISTORY
- creating our own timeline for early modern & modern times
- supplementary readings, including Shakespeare 

Last year we worked through ancient and medieval times, creating timelines and picking out significant inventions or people or buildings or battles for each time period. We'll continue that this year with the next two time periods. 

GEOGRAPHY
Around the World in 180 Days 

This is another used book fair find and I'm pretty happy with it after our first day. We'll take a continent each session (our sessions are roughly 6 weeks on, one week off). Within that, there are lessons on geography, history, religion/culture, and important people and books.

PE
- Karate (twice a week throughout the year)
Karate demo team (1-2 practices/week plus roughly monthly performances) 
- swimming laps (once a week) 
- gymnastics (once a week for just Asher)

Um, yeah. We've got physical education covered. ;) 

ELECTIVES
Signing Online program to learn ASL
- US government (unit study) 
- cursive 

We're continuing our pursuit of learning sign language. Through a homeschool buyer co-op, I found this online curriculum and am pretty stoked. It nicely lays out lesson conversations, offers additional vocabulary and quizzes for retention. I know there are LOTS of resources out there (and many for free) but needed the structure of this so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

This US government thing is part of my "grand plan" to cover what I'm calling "skills" throughout the year. For this first session, I'm covering US government. Later plans include things like personal finance and household chores. I don't have any specific materials for this since I'm not planning a full course (that will be later during high school). I figure my bachelors in political science and Duke law degree and masters in public policy should do the trick, lol. 

In an ongoing attempt to improve handwriting, I've got just a simple cursive workbook for each boy to work through. This year, I'm also requiring more written responses through geography and reading comprehension and vocabulary and such.

OPTIONS (one day a week enrichment program)

We just started our eighth year of Options and continue to be happy with the program and the opportunity for boys to see their friends regularly. 

And that, I think, pretty much covers our homeschool plan for the year. Whew.

Monday
Aug222016

First day

Whew. Olympics are over and boys started back to school this morning. :) I dropped Asher and Micah at Options then took Noah to Front Range Community College. But. First, of course, I took the obligatory first day of school pictures...


It was actually a pretty smooth morning with fairly happy, handsome boys. (Sorry, I didn't include the outtakes ala Asher, lol.) 

And, yeah. I haven't done my somewhat annual notes about my homeschooling plan yet. I know. I'll get to it... ;)