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This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to two of the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and all sorts of other activities, former scrapbooker and founder of the 
Good Grief Blog.
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Friday
Oct062017

Homeschooling Update

I'm behind in keeping up here on my blog; I know. Sorry about that! I'll try to do better. :) As a start, I'm going to just chime in with how things are going in our homeschooling journey. We've finished the first six weeks of our year so far and are finishing up our first "off" week right now. 

I'm just going to copy the run-down I posted at the start of the year and then add in my current comments in italics...

* * * * * * * * * *

As has become custom, here's a description of our plan for the year (which can also be found under the Curriculum tabs over on the left for each boy)...

First off, though, in general...continuing to homeschool both Asher and Micah. At present, Asher wants to just continue homeschooling with me, so our plan is to do that for high school. 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.

This year, I'm really trying to simplify and focus on quality over quantity...going for depth.

Now. For the specific plan...

MATH
Geometry, Harold Jacobs

So. I've tried various combinations over the years...having each boy have a separate math program, having them do the same thing, having them to some together and some separate. This year, I've decided to have them do it together again. I'm also switching gears a bit. We've been doing pre-algebra and algebra for a few years now and probably need to reinforce that. But. Since math isn't a favorite for either of these two, I'm going with geometry this year and will return to algebra next year, in the hopes that we can establish a better attitude toward math in the meantime. ;) I've not used this particular textbook before but have read good reviews so am hopeful.

Geometry is going pretty well. I'm very happy with the textbook choice. I particularly appreciate the thoroughness and the algebra reviews at the end of each chapter. Some of it is a little too basic (boys annoyed at what seem like obvious questions/answers), but I feel like that's better at this point than assuming knowledge. (I also know that the boys get frustrated at times trying to decipher what the question is asking, but I think it's good practice in reading comprehension and such.)

We've been doing a lesson a day roughly (and I'm proud of myself that I've been making the boys actually do all of the homework...in the past, that's been an issue, as I've often caved and allowed them to do less and then found out that they weren't absorbing the material). The lessons get corrected together and used as learning opportunities. The chapter summaries, algebra reviews and chapter tests are graded and recorded.

LANGUAGE ARTS
Wordly Wise, books 7 & 9
Analytical Grammar, seasons 1-2 plus reinforcements & Jr Analytical Grammar & Mechanics
Writing & Rhetoric, books 6-8
- selected reading

We've not embraced language arts in the past so are probably still doing a bit of catching up (though we made some good progress last year which makes me happy). :) So, this year we're working on the basics. For vocabulary, we'll continue using Wordly Wise. We did this last year and it was good.

Boys aren't huge fans of this but continue to do it and do well. I feel like it has value so we'll keep with it.

For grammar, we're using Analytical Grammar. I was happy with this awhile back when I used it with Noah...I like the repetition and straight-forward-ness. It's not hugely fun but I felt it really did the job and covered what I wanted covered. Asher will be doing seasons 1 & 2 of the main curriculum, plus using the high school reinforcements book. Micah will use the junior set of curriculum.

Surprisingly, the boys are doing really well with this. (Surprising in that they're not complaining more...not surprising that they're doing well.) Micah had some definite grumblings to start but is coming around, and they both seem to actually appreciate that they're learning stuff.

For writing, I'm proud to say that we actually did some last year (a major accomplishment for us!). We finished out last year with the Writing & Rhetoric curriculum (starting from the beginning and using books 1-4 for some accelerated review). This year, we'll continue with that...using books 6-8. (Honestly, I feel like we probably still need more in this area but haven't settled on what just yet.)

Yeah, we mostly finished book 6 but are now changing gears. *I* still liked the Writing & Rhetoric but the boys aren't fans. I just ordered another curriculum, but it's not here yet and so I can't really say how it's going. Will update later...

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. :) I'll probably also assign some books to be read (that tie in to other subjects) throughout the year.

So glad my boys enjoy reading! It continues to go well. They're each required to read the 600 pages per session, and I've added in one assigned book each session as well. To start, I assigned Asher "Lord of the Flies" and Micah wanted to read "Elon Musk" (by Ashlee Vance). I'm excited about the future assigned readings, too. (And, I'm thinking I'll add in some form of required book report for the assigned readings also.)

SCIENCE
Science for High School, Biology
The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way, Joy Hakim
The Story of Science: Newton at the Center, Joy Hakim
The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension, Joy Hakim
First Lego League team

Asher will be studying biology this year. The curriculum I found has an approach I particularly like and hope works well. He's assigned questions at the beginning of each lesson. He spends the week researching and finding the answers on his own (he can use the internet, textbooks, books I have around the house, etc) and typing them out. At the end of the week, he'll present his findings to me, I'll give him a quiz and we'll do the lab for that lesson. Cool. (And, for the record, I have a dead frog in my office currently awaiting dissection. Awesome.)

Dang happy with this one so far. Asher's been doing a fabulous job researching the weekly questions. We then go over those and I give him the quiz before we do the lab. Everything's pretty well laid out and easy to follow. Yay!!

Asher will also be doing an elective--History of Science. I'm assigning him to read about four chapters a week (using the three Story of Science books that we didn't get to last year since Science Olympiad took up more time than originally anticipated). He then needs to write up a summary for each chapter along with answering a couple questions for me (like what he found most interesting and what he'd be interested in knowing more about). I figure both of these will also help with writing. ;) I'll also have him do some sort of project (as yet undecided) at the completion of each book. 

Again, Asher's doing a great job with this and gets it done early each week (since he honestly doesn't mind the reading at all). We're almost at the end of the first book but I haven't quite decided what we'll be doing for the project yet.

Micah, meanwhile, won't be doing science with Asher this year...and our Science Olympiad team disbanded after their great successes (some started public school and they don't allow mixed teams). Micah, though, was invited to join a First Lego League team with friends. (We've looked into this before but couldn't ever convince any of the boys to actually participate. Noah was interested in the robotics aspect but not the team aspect. Asher and Micah weren't interested in the robotics aspect. Micah's desire to spend more time with his friends has over-ridden any lack of interest in robotics, lol. He'll figure out the robotics in no time, though.) He's been meeting with them on Tuesday mornings...which means that Asher and I have all day Monday and the first part of Tuesday for one-on-one work. Everything else, then, fits into Wednesday-Friday.

This is going really well, too! Micah's gone on a field trip with his team to the water reclamation facility here in town and they're busily working on their project and continuing with the robotics. (In addition to the robotics course and obstacles and such, each team needs to come up with a project offering a solution to a problem in the area of hydro-dynamics. They need to design a solution and do a presentation about it. Micah's currently working on their script.) I so appreciate that their coach is organized and sends out weekly emails with assignments and things to be thinking about.

WORLD GEOGRAPHY
Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall

Rather than history this year, our humanities/social studies course will be based on this book. We'll go through the ten chapters, discussing how geography affects politics and the world (and also learning our geography better). 

I find this more interesting than the boys do, but at least they're paying attention. ;) We've also been playing games to help learn which countries are where, and I'm trying to work in books or movies for the different areas we're covering.

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

We've got physical education covered. ;) 

Nothing much to report here. Karate continues to rock. But. The homeschool gymnastics class unfortunately will be ending at the end of October. They're having staffing issues and can't find someone to teach the boys at that time. (They have other offerings, not homeschool classes, but Asher's too old for those and the time doesn't work for us.) We still haven't figured out whether we'll do anything else to fill this spot or not. Our morning walks (about three times a week) have been helping and are lovely.

HEALTH
Our Whole Lives

Though they're not fans at all, the boys and I will be covering sex ed through this program. (We have a number of friends who use this, though we're using it as a homeschool curriculum since the local meeting times for this class don't work for our schedule.) We're using the program designed for 7th to 9th graders. (We've actually done the program for 4th to 6th graders in the past. I appreciate the organized approach to prompt needed discussion.)

The boys really don't enjoy this, lol, but they're listening and we're having the discussions, so that's good. 

OPTIONS (one day a week enrichment program)

This year, only Micah will be attending Options. (Asher's too old now, as the program only goes up to 8th grade.) Classes haven't started there yet, but he's pretty excited to see friends next week. 

Micah continues to love this opportunity to see his friends. About half of his classes are keeping him interested also, which is an added bonus. He's still a bit sad, though, at how many of his friends aren't there this year (having either aged out (like Asher) or switched to public school). 

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

So. That's how things are going with homeschooling stuff. Mostly really good... :) I'll be back soon with more updates. (Gonna go out to lunch with Asher first...I've been doing one-on-one lunches with each boy during this "off" week and it's his turn.) 

Monday
Sep182017

How it's going...

Four weeks into our school year and I figured I'd do a bit of a check in...so here are some thoughts in no particular order at all...

1. Micah's back at Options and settling in happily (though still missing having Asher there a bit). After the first day, he switched a couple of classes (from animation (which he's taken before and where the teacher said that students should switch if they'd taken it before since she wouldn't be covering much new) to world geography and from art (which he's also taken before) to brain games (math)). The switches were primarily motivated by being in classes with his friends, but I think it's all good. :) 

2. We've been incorporating some new games:

The boys aren't thrilled with this one, as I'm trying to make them learn things (in this case, where all the countries are), but *I* think it's dandy, lol.

The boys like this one better. It's an extension of the Oregon Trail game and has new ways to die. ;) So far, we haven't managed to live/win.

3. Asher, Micah and I have been trying to take morning walks more regularly (about three mornings a week so far). It's a nice way to break up schoolwork and get boys moving. Yay, us!

4. I've almost gotten to the point in this school year where I'm done looking for other things to add, lol. I try to remember this post.

5. I've bought things this year that I hadn't before...like things to dissect (wish me luck!), a 20 pack of protractors (20 cost only slightly more than a single one, so I figure it's better to have extra in case of loss), and a Peters projection map (which hurts my head but seemed good for perspective's sake). 

6. I'm back to giving grades this year. I tried it out back in 2012-13 and 2013-14 trying to prep Noah for going to school and motivate him to actually turn things in on time. After he went to off to CEC, we kinda dropped it, since the younger two didn't need that motivation. Honestly, they still don't. But. Asher's in high school now so I figure I should keep track of grades. It's going fine. :) We mostly focus on giving credit for effort and tests...emphasizing that the daily exercises and such are an opportunity to correct work and learn from mistakes.

Overall, things are going pretty darn well. We still have things we're working on, of course, but I'm happy with our homeschooling direction. :)

Thursday
Sep142017

No surprises

I forgot! In my list of random things to tell you about, I meant to include that Nathan and I recently sent our dna samples to 23andMe, one of those ancestry services where you send them your spit and they tell you about your ancestral background and various health things.

I'd seen some chatter about the services and was curious. Being adopted, I have a definite lack of family medical history. (Backstory...I was born in South Korea somewhere, was found on some steps of a government building around age 6 months (???), went to an orphanage and foster care, and was adopted around age 11 months. Officially, I lack a birth certificate or a specific birth place...so obviously have no information about much of anything, lol.)

Anyhow, as I was saying...curious. So, when I saw during Amazon's Prime Day this summer that the kits were half off, I went ahead and grabbed a couple kits. We got them in the mail, did our part (spitting in the provided tubes) and sent everything back in. Then, we waited.

And now we have our results! (Mine came back pretty quick...Nathan's took another couple weeks. We figure this is because parts of their process involve comparing your results to similar results...and 23andMe has a lot more data from people who look like Nathan than people who look like me, lol.)

Drumroll please...

I'm Korean and Nathan's white. ;)  

LOL. We'd thought that possibly there would be some surprise ancestor in there some place, but apparently we're both pretty straight-forward. Specifically...

My dna says 100% East Asian

  • 73.4% Korean
  • 11.1% Japanese
  • 6.3% Chinese
  • and "other" East Asian

...which all makes sense given the history of the area.

Nathan's says 99.6% European

  • 43.5% British & Irish (I'm assuming this would include Scottish)
  • 19.5% French & German
  • 30.7% broadly Northwestern European
  • other miscellaneous European stuff
  • and 0.4% Native American

...this all matches with the extensive genealogy that both sides of his family have done.

The reports are pretty interesting...they can gauge how long ago those various ancestries happened and all sorts of things. For instance, it says that the Korean part is the more recent and that the Japanese and Chinese parts, in keeping with the history of occupation and such, were from the 1700s and 1800s.

With the health portion of the kit (you can get a kit just for the ancestry part but we got the "upgraded" kits), we also found out that neither of us is carriers for the 42 things 23andMe tests for and neither of us has an increased risk for any of the four genetic health risks they test for. Plus, neither of us likely has red hair, neither of us are likely to have a widow's peak, I am more likely to have dry earwax (true) while Nathan is more likely to have wet earwax (also true), we're both likely to have detached earlobes (not true...mine are attached), and heaps of other strange things.

So. That's that. :) 

I know that none of these results should be taken as medical advice and all that, but I feel better having at least *some* information and being able to give that to my sons.

(If you're at all interested in the service or have questions, please feel free to contact me. Plus, I have a referral link I can send you if you're thinking about buying the service.)

Wednesday
Sep132017

Unicorns, curling and butterfly bandages

Sorry it's been quiet here...keeping busy, mostly with getting into our school year routine (which I'll update about soon). Aside from school stuff, here are three quick stories of other things going on here:

1. Micah recently decided he needed new pajamas (having previously mostly just slept in his clothes). I took him to look at choices. This is what he picked:

(Yes, I got his permission to post this.) Yup, it's a pink unicorn. He's named the pajamas "Sparkles" and loves them. He had it narrowed down to this or a Chewbacca pajama...this one won on account of how soft and comfy it is. :)  He may use this as his Halloween costume this year also...money well spent!

2. Last weekend, there was a curling tournament here in Fort Collins (through the recreations department I think). Nathan, Micah and I went and were spectators for a bit:

It's not the most exciting thing to watch but we enjoyed it, having learned the basics from watching the Olympics and then during the curling class we took a couple years ago.

3. Yesterday at gymnastics Asher had a wee mishap. I'd walked from there over to Whole Foods to grab a few things (about a 10 minute walk). I was still shopping when I got a call from the gymnastics instructor that went something like this:

Him: "Asher's gashed his eye a bit. It looks like maybe it might need a stitch or two."
Me: (after thinking about how I couldn't get back immediately anyhow) "Is he okay?"
Him: (with a chuckle and sounding somewhat surprised) "He seems fine."
Me: "Okay. Well, if he doesn't seem to want me right now and it doesn't require immediate attention, I'll be back in about 30 minutes."

So, I proceeded to finish my shopping and walk back. There was still class for another 15 minutes or so when I got there, and Asher was participating and looking like he was having a great time. (They'd bandaged him up a bit.) I waited...and had more than one mom come up to tell me that Asher had hurt himself and that they hoped he was okay. At the end of class, he was more concerned about the blood all over his shirt than about his eye. (Head wounds bleed a lot. I know this from experience, with Asher.) I talked with the instructor, who was amazed by Asher's pain tolerance and my easy attitude about the situation, then washed Asher up a bit more, added some ointment and stuck a new bandaid on him from the stash I perpetually keep in my purse. Yeah. This isn't something new for me at all, lol. 

Once home, we had him shower and clean up again (there was dried blood in other places) then rebandaged him again...this time with the butterfly bandages that I normally have in my purse (and have since replenished my supply of). (And, while we were at it, I rebandaged the big scrape on his knee from last week's trampoline park outing with his demo team friends...that one's still healing. I go through a lot of bandaids.)

Then we went to karate; and, by the end, he had blood dripping down his face again. (But I don't think he minded the attention from all the girls who gasped at his bandaging and asked him what happened when he walked in, lol.) Again, shower and butterfly bandaging. We debated but decided if he could just not be overly active for a bit it would probably not open up again...so chose not to take him to get stitches or anything.

Today, he seems fine:

(He takes his glasses off during gymnastics and karate, fyi.) He may have to skip karate tomorrow (it's a sparring class), but here's hoping the gash stays closed!

(In case you're wondering, the gash was caused by one of the rings...that collided with Asher's face while he was doing a handstand in them. Yeah, I can't picture it either. That's what he and his instructor told me. I'm just grateful it wasn't any bigger and wasn't any closer to his eyeball. Also, the swelling has gone down a good bit and it didn't bruise up like I worried it might.)

So. That's some of what's been going on here. I have a list of other things to update about and will get to them soon. Hope your September is going well!!

Wednesday
Aug232017

2017-2018 Homeschool Plan

First Wednesday of our school year is in the books!

As has become custom, here's a description of our plan for the year (which can also be found under the Curriculum tabs over on the left for each boy)...

First off, though, in general...continuing to homeschool both Asher and Micah. At present, Asher wants to just continue homeschooling with me, so our plan is to do that for high school. 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.

This year, I'm really trying to simplify and focus on quality over quantity...going for depth.

Now. For the specific plan...

MATH
Geometry, Harold Jacobs

So. I've tried various combinations over the years...having each boy have a separate math program, having them do the same thing, having them to some together and some separate. This year, I've decided to have them do it together again. I'm also switching gears a bit. We've been doing pre-algebra and algebra for a few years now and probably need to reinforce that. But. Since math isn't a favorite for either of these two, I'm going with geometry this year and will return to algebra next year, in the hopes that we can establish a better attitude toward math in the meantime. ;) I've not used this particular textbook before but have read good reviews so am hopeful.

LANGUAGE ARTS
Wordly Wise, books 7 & 9
Analytical Grammar, seasons 1-2 plus reinforcements & Jr Analytical Grammar & Mechanics
Writing & Rhetoric, books 6-8
- selected reading

We've not embraced language arts in the past so are probably still doing a bit of catching up (though we made some good progress last year which makes me happy). :) So, this year we're working on the basics. For vocabulary, we'll continue using Wordly Wise. We did this last year and it was good.

For grammar, we're using Analytical Grammar. I was happy with this awhile back when I used it with Noah...I like the repetition and straight-forward-ness. It's not hugely fun but I felt it really did the job and covered what I wanted covered. Asher will be doing seasons 1 & 2 of the main curriculum, plus using the high school reinforcements book. Micah will use the junior set of curriculum.

For writing, I'm proud to say that we actually did some last year (a major accomplishment for us!). We finished out last year with the Writing & Rhetoric curriculum (starting from the beginning and using books 1-4 for some accelerated review). This year, we'll continue with that...using books 6-8. (Honestly, I feel like we probably still need more in this area but haven't settled on what just yet.)

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. :) I'll probably also assign some books to be read (that tie in to other subjects) throughout the year.

SCIENCE
Science for High School, Biology
The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way, Joy Hakim
The Story of Science: Newton at the Center, Joy Hakim
The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension, Joy Hakim
First Lego League team

Asher will be studying biology this year. The curriculum I found has an approach I particularly like and hope works well. He's assigned questions at the beginning of each lesson. He spends the week researching and finding the answers on his own (he can use the internet, textbooks, books I have around the house, etc) and typing them out. At the end of the week, he'll present his findings to me, I'll give him a quiz and we'll do the lab for that lesson. Cool. (And, for the record, I have a dead frog in my office currently awaiting dissection. Awesome.)

Asher will also be doing an elective--History of Science. I'm assigning him to read about four chapters a week (using the three Story of Science books that we didn't get to last year since Science Olympiad took up more time than originally anticipated). He then needs to write up a summary for each chapter along with answering a couple questions for me (like what he found most interesting and what he'd be interested in knowing more about). I figure both of these will also help with writing. ;) I'll also have him do some sort of project (as yet undecided) at the completion of each book. 

Micah, meanwhile, won't be doing science with Asher this year...and our Science Olympiad team disbanded after their great successes (some started public school and they don't allow mixed teams). Micah, though, was invited to join a First Lego League team with friends. (We've looked into this before but couldn't ever convince any of the boys to actually participate. Noah was interested in the robotics aspect but not the team aspect. Asher and Micah weren't interested in the robotics aspect. Micah's desire to spend more time with his friends has over-ridden any lack of interest in robotics, lol. He'll figure out the robotics in no time, though.) He's been meeting with them on Tuesday mornings...which means that Asher and I have all day Monday and the first part of Tuesday for one-on-one work. Everything else, then, fits into Wednesday-Friday.

WORLD GEOGRAPHY
Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall

Rather than history this year, our humanities/social studies course will be based on this book. We'll go through the ten chapters, discussing how geography affects politics and the world (and also learning our geography better). 

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

We've got physical education covered. ;) 

HEALTH
Our Whole Lives

Though they're not fans at all, the boys and I will be covering sex ed through this program. (We have a number of friends who use this, though we're using it as a homeschool curriculum since the local meeting times for this class don't work for our schedule.) We're using the program designed for 7th to 9th graders. (We've actually done the program for 4th to 6th graders in the past. I appreciate the organized approach to prompt needed discussion.)

OPTIONS (one day a week enrichment program)

This year, only Micah will be attending Options. (Asher's too old now, as the program only goes up to 8th grade.) Classes haven't started there yet, but he's pretty excited to see friends next week. 

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

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