Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 19

Sam worked on Lego stop action videos today, as usual. He's coming up with ideas and story lines all the time. I love the creativity. The girls have made a few videos with him too. Sarah worked on it with him today. We got an app for the iPad that lets him just clap or snap his fingers to take the picture, so he doesn't have camera wiggle like he used to. It also has an onion skin feature that lets you see a shadow of your last picture so you can tell how far you're moving things. So fun!

Sarah's concerned about not having the piano to practice on while we're on our trip. I'm trying to figure out a way to take Wilson and Kamille the electric keyboard so they can teach piano if they need some extra money. Sarah would love that; she hates to go one day without practicing. If we can't fit it in the car, Wilson and Kamille will have to find a way to play a piano regularly too. That's been their whole life (individually and together) for several years. Maybe they can snag a key to a practice room at their new school.

We did some yard work today. Oh, how we wish the grass just went up to the walls of the house. We rent, so we can't remove any of the owner's bushes, flowers, shrubs, tall grasses, trees, and on and on. When we moved here in the winter, it didn't look like this much yard work! I guess it teaches us to do things we hate because it needs done anyway. Well maybe not, I'm still always leaving the dishes because I hate doing them even though they need done anyway. I wish I cared whether they got done, but I really don't. It's just terrible. Jeff does though, so I usually get them done before he comes home from work.

Rachel went out tonight with one of the ladies from our church that leads activities for the teenagers. They went to a pottery place and painted some pieces of pottery. The place puts it in the kiln and you pick it up later. She painted a little bowl. I can't wait to see it. Then we had to figure out which book had kilns in it, The Golden Goblet or A Single Shard. We decided it was A Single Shard. Obviously, because that one's about pottery!

We did some copywork today from And Then There Were None. It had a bunch of quotation punctuation in it. I love copywork. It makes so much sense to use other people's writing to study mechanics. It's so impersonal. You know, it doesn't bother anyone to point out what's going on in writing that the child isn't emotionally connected to.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Day 18

Rachel decided we should travel around to different places and write books about it. She figured we'd start with the Americas. I guess we'd go around to places where people hang out and talk to them; get their stories. Everyone has a story. Isn't it funny how conversations go. I think it was Sam that mentioned something about sometimes being in dangerous places. And I was saying everyone wants to be in a book, so everyone would talk to us and tell us their story. Then we decided that even if we were being mugged, we'd be okay if we just told the mugger we're writing a book and asked him to tell us his story. Haha!

Actually I would love to just go around together having adventures and writing books about it. Rachel has a whole series planned in her head. We might have to work on some more languages though!

We also planned to have our next writing project be making book covers for Rachel's novel. We're going to write a hook of some kind, but not quite a summary. Then an opinion, but not quite a review to go on the back. Maybe more than one. We'll also need to come up with some cover art. I'm hoping we'll take ideas from everyone's covers when we do the cover for actually publishing it. We talked over what the title should be. I think the consensus is that she should call it Becoming Sencra's Queen. We talked about "Becoming Queen" and "Becoming Queen of Sencra", but Becoming Sencra's Queen sounds more interesting or mysterious or something. Now you want to read it, don't you?

Sarah gave Sam his science test orally today. She did the book he's doing last year. She remembers every chapter when she hears us talking about it. He's not too excited about the tests, but I think it's just because of the writing. That's why I like to do them orally for now. He usually gets 100%. Today he got 97%. I don't really keep track of the grades, but for some reason they like to have them.

Here we are standing on the coast of Spain looking at Morocco.
We were looking at maps today and we were saying how we never think of Spain being right next to Africa. It seems strange that they're almost touching. We wondered if you could see one from the other, because it looks like they're barely 10 miles apart. So we looked at street view, and you can! You can see the coast of Spain from Morocco! Are you amazed by that? Did you know?

We're getting ready to take a giant field trip. We're going to see our son and his family (Wilson and his wife Kamille and baby Eliza). I finally get to meet my little granddaughter in person. She was born last month. It's over 2000 miles, and we're driving. I know, we're crazy. Jeff's got something like 18 or 19 days off, so we'll be there about 11 of those days. We can't even believe how excited we are! I'll try to blog every day while we're traveling. I'm sure there'll be plenty of learning along the way!

We were trying to figure out how to listen to library books on the long, long, long drive, but I think you need the internet to do it. We don't have any smart phones or anything, so I'm not sure if we can. I may just have to read aloud. That usually doesn't work out because we never have air conditioning that works and the wind is loud. But we're getting that fixed this weekend, so we won't expire with all those days of driving in the heat. So I guess I'll be able to be heard when I read.

The kids are out back playing badminton right now. When Jeff plays Sam, they keep that birdie in the air forever! They have this incredible rhythm. Bubby is lying in front of the sliding door watching the birdie go back and forth and crying for the kids.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 17

We did our freewrites about Bubby today. They were cute. I was surprised at how many different things each of us said about him. Here's a little sample from each of them.

Sam likes statistics: "Bubbarito is in the feline species of the Domesticated Short Hair breed and stands about 19" tall (including tail) has darker and lighter gray stripes and has a white chest."

(Bubbarito is one of the many nicknames they have for him.)

Sarah: "Sometimes when I'm sitting in the blue recliner, he comes up to the arm, his eyes getting bigger by the minute, he jumps up in my face and meows long and loud, as if I hadn't already noticed him!"

Rachel: "Scratching, purring, meowing, sleeping, and bird watching are Bubby's favorite hobbies. His eyes get huge whenever there is something on the floor for him to attack. He crouches low, wiggles his hips, and darts at the thing he wants."

Me: "He sits by the glass door watching birds. He squishes his body against the wall by the door so the birds can't see him. He's very sneaky."

I love how each of the kids let their writing sound just like them. And reading them aloud has an amazing affect. You really can hear what you would want to change if you were revising.

We saw an old church tonight on our way somewhere that said it was built in 1853. So I asked Sam to figure out how old it was--he's the fastest at it. After he said it was 163 years old, I asked him what steps he took to get that. He had a TON of them. I try to take fewer steps, but I took longer to figure it out. Rachel told me the steps she took figuring it out. I didn't understand hers right away, but it was right. So I asked Sarah how she would figure it out, and she said, "I don't want to." She's the one that insists on paper and pencil!

The kids ended the evening with a Lego video game lesson from Sam. I can't play them. I get too tensed up. Sam doesn't seem to though. He's way less tense than I am in general anyway.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 16

More cousins were added today. I'm cooking up a scheme to get every member of the family here at Christmas, but for today we had 11 cousins. Well, one of them is the mother of two of the others, and not their cousin. Is that confusing? She is the oldest cousin and her two kids are some of the youngest ones. Still unclear?   4 of the 11 were second cousins. (I know, this picture is missing one.) My parents have 5 children, 11 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. Some of us are spread out across the country farther than we want to be. But days like this are so fun!

There was a lot of hide and seek today, teens hiding with younger ones or hiding together. Wait, maybe they were playing Sardines. If you don't know what that is, read Day 10. They finally counted the fish tank marbles too. Grandma told them they hadn't been in the tank, but I think some of them were still skeptical. There were over 500, I think. And they wore out the batteries on the "chasing the light" game. More music and more eating too!

My mom even got to have cousin time today! She and her cousin's wife went out and got lost looking for a different post office than the one Mom uses. They were gone a very long time, but they had fun together. Her cousin and his wife are in town cleaning out their father's (my mom's uncle's) house that just got sold. Here's a picture of their father's family when he was a baby (he's the youngest). My grandpa is the one in the middle with all the hair! I'd recognize that hair anywhere! I don't know how old he was, but I'm guessing about 8.

My brother and his family are leaving tomorrow. It's so hard to see them go. It was such a nice week. Sometimes I wish time would slow down and let me enjoy it a little longer.

I guess we'll be back to school tomorrow too. We need to start on the description of Bubby. I think a little freewriting is in order. All my writing is free. I hope the kids can catch the vision of that. Just say it, then go back and clean it up. Easy!

If you need help evaluating your kids' writing check out our critique service,
And if you want some writing tips and ideas for encouraging powerful writing in your kids, read my other blog at

See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 15

Cutting the grass at our empty house that's for sale and playing with cousins was all that was on the schedule today. We didn't like the grass part, but we loved the cousin part! My brother and his family are in town this week, and we haven't seen some of them for two long years! So we were at my parents' house all day visiting. We played games, giggled, told stories, talked about food, made food, and ate food.

It was fun to be together after so long. The teenagers were kind of quiet last time they were together. Their personalities are all that way; but this time, they weren't at all. They were competing with some little light game that you chase around the board. You hit a circle every time it lights up red, but not green. You get a point every time you hit one. We couldn't believe it when their cousin Jake got 535, until Sarah got 537!

I had to laugh when all four of them filed into the kitchen talking about how "that was disgusting, wash your hands." They didn't say what it was until we were in the car on the way home. Apparently, they were playing with marbles that had been in the fish tank and they didn't realize it right away. I think they were guessing how many there were and then they were going to count them. Don't you love teenagers? They're so much fun!

We also talked about Jake and marching band. He plays percussion. I called all over town to see if I could find a marimba at a music store, because I'm dying to see him play it with 4 mallets. Well, actually I made Jeff call all over town. No luck though.

Another cousin day tomorrow! See you then!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Day 14

Today we giggled through a writing exercise from the Writer's Jungle from Brave Writer. It's a "Keen Observation" exercise. You pick an object and observe it in detail using all your senses, and there are questions listed to get you thinking. The giggling came in when we chose Bubby the cat as our object. Some of the questions just cracked us up. Like, "Can you cut it open with a knife?" or "Can you remove the parts?" Of course we couldn't answer the questions about the sense of taste! We made a list of descriptive words on the board. Maybe we'll write about him Monday.

I like the idea of using the cat, because we can tell stories about his personality as well as what we can take in with our senses. Should be fun. I'll try to remember to post their descriptions next week.

Rachel finished The Scarlet Letter again today, and I saw her looking up words in the dictionary afterward. The last sentence or two had to be clarified. I haven't read it for 30 years, so I was no help. I did help her understand some of the words she looked up though. Sarah's still reading it. She just told her dad, "You struggle to understand every sentence, but that's ok. I like it." She likes words like me. She says it's not one of those books where your mind can wander! Rachel wants to explain it to Dad, so she's making Sarah leave the room so as not to spoil the ending.

Grandma called today and asked Sarah to play some songs for her on the piano. She loves when the kids play instruments or sing. My husband plays the piano and she's always loved listening to him play, and she has CD's of Wilson playing, that he's always recorded for her. Now she calls Sarah and wants to listen to her on the phone. She also likes it when Rachel sings with Sarah playing. Sam and I are good at listening to the others. We've started on drums, but haven't gotten far. If it was a steel drum, I might get further. I just love to listen to the steel drum. Maybe some day!

We read a little more of Matilda today. I still don't know about it, but she did go to school and her teacher Miss Honey is very nice. We'll see. I may have to donate it to the library.

See you next week!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Day 13

Today I took Rachel in to get her driver's permit renewed. She's had it for a while, but it expired because we're lazy. I'm not ready for her to get her license yet, so we got her a new permit. She hasn't driven for three or four months since it was expired. She said, "I wonder if I'll remember how to turn the car on!" She did.

Sam and Sarah stayed home while Rachel and I were doing that, and it took forever! It was actually the first time they had stayed without Rachel being with them too. They were supposed to do their science while I was gone, but they both ended up needing help so they waited.

I had someone tell me recently that they thought my kids were old enough to stay home and do their schoolwork while I went out and did something this person wanted me to do. I told her that they still need me to be available the whole time. I said that I'd get in trouble if I were a public school teacher and left in the middle of the day. I wondered why high schools have teachers if it was just about how old the kids are. I guess I was feeling a little defensive. It's hard for people to see what you're doing as anything more than just staying at home. I have to defend school time fiercely sometimes. I'm bad at it, but I'm practicing.

After lunch today, we went to my parents' house to help get a couple rooms ready for my brother and his family to come spend the week next week. I can't wait to see them!

When we got home, we made vegetable stir fry for dinner. We didn't have any meat to put in it, and I am starving now! I guess I need to get to the store soon. After dinner, we watched a couple episodes of That Girl online instead of doing dishes. We like to watch old shows. We don't have a tv to watch anything new, and I'm fairly sure we wouldn't be interested anyway. We'll just stick to our old shows. Dick Van Dyke, That Girl, Doris Day, Gomer Pyle, Andy Griffith, etc. We think they're fun. Although the kids don't like Ozzie and Harriet as much as I do. They like to tell me that Ozzie lies and gets himself in trouble all the time. Pretty funny.

Here's a picture of Rachel, Sarah and me line dancing at the retreat.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 12: Thinking about the Brave Writer Retreat

Connection. That's the priority in our homes and our homeschools. This was the most valuable insight I got from the Brave Writer retreat last week. Julie has six ways to foster connection. "The 6 C's of Connection."

The first and most important C is Compassion, and this is the one I chose to work on first. Before I even had a chance to be more aware of my own feelings of compassion for my family, I became aware of their compassion for me. From having my food ready when I got home to my husband staying home with me when I had a migraine and he really needed to get some things done to my daughter ironing my clothes when I was feeling bad.

In fact, tonight I was noticing compassion for me from people outside my family. I was at church waiting for my teens at a youth activity, and I mentioned that my car air conditioner wasn't working and I was going to have to pay a lot to have it fixed. There were a couple dads there, and they looked at it for me and told me what they thought I should try first. So I said thanks and went home. But when I got home, there was a message on my phone from one of them saying he had called another of the dads who is an amazing mechanic. He said the other guy had time to look at the car tonight and find out what it needs. So I went over (I had never even met him) and he found out what I needed, we ordered the part, and he's fixing it this weekend. I can't believe how much gratitude I feel for these men. They could have just said, "Oh, that's terrible not to have air conditioning in this heat." But they did something about it. Compassion.

That's going to save me like $1000! I know that the connection with these people isn't the same as we have in a family, but it is still noticeable to me. That's how friendships are made. Don't we want that friendship feeling inside our home? It works the same way.

So how have I increased my compassion? I'm becoming more aware of how my kids feel. To think of it as if I were feeling it. Because at some point, I have felt it. Haven't we all?

On Thursday night at the retreat, we did line dancing. I've never done it before, and it was hard to remember all the steps of each dance and what to do next. Really hard. It made me have more compassion for my Sam who's 13. He can do tons of math in his head, but I think I've mentioned before that the procedures seem impossible for him to remember. I felt like Sam, like it was impossible for me to remember. And I had music and movement on my side. As I was more aware of exactly how he felt--more than just knowing it in my head--my love for him and connection to him increased. I want that to happen in all our family relationships. Every day!

Check back for more on the 6 C's.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 11

Ok, you asked for it. I told you when I started that I was going to show you what it's like around here for real. And here it is. Another yuk day. But don't give up on us; we've planned some really cool things this year, and I cannot wait to tell you about them!

I started reading Matilda to the kids. I thought it would be very light and fast, maybe funny. We don't get caught up in how old the intended audience is for books, although most of our family books are things like Murder on the Orient Express or The Scarlet Letter. But once in a while, I figure we can take it easy.

I'm not sure we'll continue the book though. We don't really love it so far. I'm not one to say you can't read books where some characters are mean or even terrible, but we don't like rude. Isn't that funny? If you're snippy and calling people names, we just don't like you. The dad in Matilda is just so rude to her and hates her. It's hard to read verbal abuse aloud. Harder than murder! I've never read it, and I don't know if she runs away or how she deals with it. I'm supposing she's vindicated by the end, but all that rude talk is so annoying. We'll see.

About every two years, I get this awful stomach ache for a day and then it goes away. Today was that day. I thought this time, that might be about how long I lay off cashews or maybe sunflower seeds or almonds and then decide I can eat a bunch of them again. I overdid it last week, and I was fine. But I had some more of both this morning and suddenly I was suffering. It is extremely difficult to think or teach anything while I'm nauseated. Blah!

In math today, Sarah had to figure out if a fish tank had more or less than one cubic foot of water in it. The tank was 12 inches wide, 18 inches long, and 11 inches tall. The water came up to two inches from the top. So, more or less than one cubic foot?

They all did science. Sam is about ready for a chapter test. He's been doing them orally so far, and I wanted him to do this one written; but I'm not sure about it. It's so excruciating for him. Honestly. He's not just a whiner. I found Sarah at the table with her science. Yay! Not Rachel, though. She got antsy sitting there just for family scripture time. When she was a baby, we had to stand her in her playpen by the table to eat, because she couldn't stand to sit in her high chair! I guess it's just how she's made.

Sam got Rachel and Sarah both Lego accounts today so they could enter the contest he entered for the  stop action video. (Did I tell you about it?) Rachel submitted hers. I'm not sure what Sarah will do, but now they can sign in and vote for him!

I'm going to call this "low tide" time for school. Melissa Wiley spoke at the amazing Brave Writer retreat last week, and she talked about tidal homeschooling. Here's a link to her blog so you can read about it.

So now, I'm going to find a movie and hopefully my stomach will feel good enough to eat beef tips and roasted cauliflower. Hmm, that may be a stretch!

Oh, I also promised you that I'd show you videos on youtube, but I have totally forgotten to even take one video of us having school! I will work on that, but in the meantime you can watch our trip to the zoo a few weeks ago!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 10

Who thought we'd have school today? After the Brave Writer retreat last week, and the girls going to a Youth Conference for 12 hours on Saturday, and my having  migraine yesterday, there was no way. Even without the migraine, I might not have had the brain power for it. I have not gotten enough sleep for the last week. Well, longer really. A lot longer.

So I said today that I want us to just have the feeling that learning is what we do, and I don't want this "new school year feeling" of having school separate from life. It's ridiculous. Then Sarah said, "Did Julie Bogart do that to you?" That's so funny because we all love to listen to Julie. I guess Sarah was referring to having been at the retreat. I had to laugh, because I've always felt that way; but the retreat reiterated what I already know. So I guess she did do that to me.

I mentioned on my Day 4 post that I don't want to feel uncomfortable with my limitations any more, so I guess this is another aspect of it. It's related for sure, because feeling like we have to have a time for living and a different time for learning definitely doesn't recognize limitations--besides being unreasonable. I'm going to be working on the atmosphere of learning just being what we do, and it doesn't have to be a certain time of day. Although, I still won't make appointments during the day because that is when we're doing academic stuff. Did I just contradict myself? Here's a little video about that from last year.

We did have learning today. We watched another couple episodes of That Great British Baking Show on We learned that in England, they call cookies biscuits. And we learned that biscotti has to be baked, sliced and baked again to make it dry enough (looked hard to us). Also, we decided we probably wouldn't like it. Maybe if we dunked it.

Tonight we watched some of the Republican National Convention. I won't comment on it except to say that Sarah got bored and wanted to stop watching pretty soon. So we took a break and played Sardines. Have you ever played? It's like reverse Hide and Seek. One person hides while everyone else counts; and when it's time to look, each person that finds the original person hides with them. It's pretty funny. Especially when the hiding place isn't big enough for everyone. Try it!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 9

Surprise! Math was the only subject done at the table. Dad is so funny. His favorite thing to do for school is to review. He reviewed measuring with Sam and Sarah. They talked about the metric side of the ruler. I don't know how much they remember about metrics, but I have always had  trouble remembering them. I didn't really start to remember and understand them until I worked with them in Chemistry. (I took Chemistry last year.)

Sarah was excited because she took a test in her Physical science book and actually got the answers right for the questions with some math in them. She has been worried about not understanding parts per million (which I pretty much forget myself), but she got all of them right on the test. She was so happy!

I think Dad's favorite word is "free." He and Mom came up with this thing a couple of years ago. All of us sit down and, for half and hour, we study. We read encyclopedia, science books, any kind of informational reference book. At the end we don't have to tell them about it, or write about it, we just read it. Well, this time, we did our "free study," and then we "free wrote" about our "free study." It was fun! And even though we don't have to tell them about what we read, there is always something that was interesting to us, and that we want to share with them.

After school we went over to our grandparents and picked up some peaches that they had picked up for us. These peaches are picked in Georgia, put in a truck, and then driven to different locations where people buy them right out of the truck. They are so juicy and fresh! We made a peach cobbler with them for dinner. The peaches were so tender and mild in it. It was really yummy!

After dinner we went to the retreat where Mom is. They said that all of the families could come to line dance, and have a bon fire. There was not time for a bon fire, but the line dancing was really fun! It was nice to go and do it with Mom since we haven't seen her much the last two days.

It was fun writing this, but Mom will be back with you on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Day 8

Hey everybody! This is Rachel. I get to write this for Mom today. She is enjoying the first evening of her homeschool retreat. She has been looking forward to this for weeks! She was so excited while she was getting ready to go today. We are all really excited for her too. We think that she will have so much fun talking with other homeschool moms. We don't often get to talk to other homeschoolers, so I think that she will like talking to some other people who understand more about what she does everyday.

Here is a picture we took for Mom.
We are pretending to eat her snacks
for tomorrow!
Of course, when I say we are excited, I cannot leave out that we will be missing her for the next couple of days. When she makes up her mind to be, she is a tornado. She can get so much done, really well, and really quickly! She doesn't usually think so, but she is a "super mom!"

So, for the next two days Dad is going to be our teacher. He always likes to say that he will be our "school master" and make us sit at the table all day. That's pretty funny, because, when he does school with us, we hardly ever get to sit down. He is pretty much a tornado too. He gets things done, and he gets them done fast.

He loves to take us to the park down the road to play basket ball. For the past several months he has been trying to teach us some of the rules of it. I think that we have gotten a lot better, but, for us, I'm afraid that does not mean very much.

While Mom has been gone, we have spent most of the time reading a book aloud to each other. We have also made muffins for breakfast tomorrow, washed dishes, and made and ate cherry ice cream. It may be quiet when Mom leaves the house, but we still eat well!

Right now Sam and Sarah are cleaning the kitchen some more, and I am getting a few minutes off to write this. They are doing such a great job, I hate to stop writing and go interrupt their progress. I suppose I should go help, though.

Have a great day, and I'll see you again tomorrow!

Here is a short video of us playing basketball, and hanging out at the park!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day 7

We finished Tuck Everlasting today. We could NOT believe the ending. We had no idea! (If you don't want the end spoiled, skip this paragraph) Rachel, appalled said, "That book was completely pointless! A girl met some people and then she died." After I had a minute to think about it I said, "It wasn't pointless. She saved the world!" Then Sarah added, "and a toad." We did like the book. I'd read it again, but no matter how much you like a book there's nothing like reading it for the first time. I love not knowing what's going to happen. That's a lie. I can't stand not knowing; that's why I can't stop reading!

After lunch, we put together the rest of the chairs for our table. Yay for chairs!

Rachel and Sarah finished revising Rachel's book today. Now it's my turn to go through and edit. They are totally excited. They started at the beginning, reading it aloud to each other the minute they got finished. Apparently, I'm not the only one in the family that loves editing. Did I tell you about the website my son and I have that offers writing critiques for when you're not sure how your kids are really doing in their writing or you want someone else to tell you what they think? Here's a little intro video about it. You can go to to find out more. Also, I'm doing a blog of writing tips and help for teaching writing in your homeschool here.

I won't be able to edit Rachel's book until next week though, because I'm going to a homeschool retreat this week!!! It starts tomorrow after school and goes all day Thursday and until dinner time Friday. I am so excited! It's a Brave Writer retreat. Julie Bogart, the owner of Brave Writer is unbelievably amazing! You can check out if you want to see the best way to teach writing in your homeschool. Then you can send compositions to me for critiquing  ;)

Jeff's going to be handling school Thursday and Friday. I don't know who will write the blog, but we'll make sure someone does. Rachel said she might want to do it. I don't think Jeff will, though. He's not too excited about his writing ability. I love when he does school. When Wilson was seven, he had chicken pox and I had never had them. The doctor told me to get out of the house in case there would be a chance I might not get them (I was 20 weeks pregnant). So I took the two year old and went to my parents for a week. Jeff and Wilson (who didn't feel sick) got school done by lunch each day and went to play in the park or whatever. Very efficient. I can't do it that way. Oh by the way, I got the chicken pox. It's still the very worst thing that has every happened to me.

See you tomorrow--or someone will!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Day 6

If you ask my kids, they might say that we didn't have school today. But we did. We read quite a bit of Tuck Everlasting this morning, and then we made lunch while Jeff went to the furniture warehouse to pick up my dining room table--finally! It is totally solid wood. It weighs an absolute ton. I love it!

While we ate lunch, we had a great conversation about capital punishment. I don't even remember how we got on the subject, but we all talked about how we felt about it. The kids were shocked that Jeff and I weren't completely disgusted by it. I think we grew up knowing it happened, and our kids haven't really heard that much about it.

After lunch, we all went with Jeff to his teeth cleaning and we sat in the waiting room doing math. Actually, Rachel was working on another book she's writing while Sam and Sarah did math. We just did a sheet of problems to review today. The dentist has this cute little kid table in the waiting room with picture books and a couple toys. We sat in the tiny chairs and read and played with the bead toy, then we giggled our way through the math sheet.

When we got home we put the table together. It seems like all the instructions for things like that are without words. I'm kind of mean; I always say you have to be a non-reader to figure out instructions these days; they aren't for people who are literate. The pictures aren't always extremely clear to me. I don't know why they don't just put words and pictures. Seems like that would cover everyone. Maybe companies just can't find anyone to hire that knows how to write instructions. I'd better have the kids practice that!

We had them figure out the diagrams and get the washers and nuts in order and they had to help us find the right socket wrench in the mess Jeff calls a toolbox. The socket wrench was fun; they all wanted their turn. We got the table done and one of the six chairs. I think it'll take a day or two to get the other chairs done. I told Jeff that in the morning when I go downstairs, I'll be surprised to have the table there; because I will have forgotten in my sleep. That'll be exciting.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Day 5

We started reading Tuck Everlasting today. Maybe that was last night, but we read quite a bit of it today. Some books just have to be read fast. In fact, we'd like to just sit around reading books all the time. We have a hard time quitting for the day. I'll probably read more before bed. You know when I say we're reading something, I'm talking about my reading aloud.

I've had homeschool moms ask when to stop reading aloud to their kids, and I say never! Certainly, they read to themselves. I know Charlotte Mason said not to read their school books to them once they can read on their own, but I can't think she meant to never read as a family. But if you want to read their school books to them, go ahead. With most kids it naturally comes to an end anyway. They find out they can understand and study better if they read to themselves. I say don't worry about it.

The kids have been building a train track with Thomas the Tank Engine tracks for the last couple days. If you look closely, you can see that they don't like to have much of it touching the floor. They'll use anything to prop it up as high as it will go so the trains are in peril at every turn. We were talking about how they still like to use kid toys, but they change their purpose. Sometimes I've wondered if other teenagers are like this. Then I think if they're not, that's a little sad. Outgrowing play isn't required.

A couple years ago, the mom of a 12 year old was telling me she loved how her son still liked to play at the park and play with his little siblings, and she was sad thinking he would stop all that soon. I felt like shouting, "He doesn't have to!" My 4 kids still chase each other around when they're all together. My oldest will be 23 in a couple weeks. My husband, Jeff chases them around when they're playing. Hey, maybe that's why football was invented. So grown men could chase each other around without being embarrassed. Really. Play should never end!

In yesterday's blog, I said I was not going to feel uncomfortable with my limitations any more. Today I had a chance to prove it. Jeff's mom called, and I told her we were all tired today like zombies. She asked how we managed when I have a headache or fatigue. (Now I have to say, there is no "mother-in-law" feeling with her. None of our parents have ever thought we shouldn't homeschool or worried much about our kids because of it. They all see that the kids are just fine, and I am very thankful for that.) So I didn't feel like she was grilling me or anything. She was just wondering.

I got to answer the question with comfort about my limits and confidence that the kids will be fine. I told her that I couldn't teach any new math concept or anything like that, but we did things like watch documentaries, look up current events, or just read. Today we watched a show I've never seen before on I think it was called The Great British Baking Show or something like that. It was kind of fun. We don't have a tv, and I don't think the kids have ever watched a "bake off" type show. That all sounded good to her. I think it also helps to have a son that went all the way through homeschool and all the way through college with a 4.0 (well, his 4.0 might have slipped to a 3.95 after getting married).

See you next week!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 4

Headache leftovers today. It's just what it is. I couldn't think too clearly after being in pain for a week. Especially since yesterday's pain was extreme. So the kids had to pretty much work on their own again.

I was able to go over some math with Sam and Sarah, though. It was something like: I have 140 marbles. 2/5 of them are blue and 2/7 are orange. The rest are purple; how many are purple? They thought it was fun. Sarah's going to be working through the Pre-Algebra book from Math-U-See this year, and that was the kind of problem she had for today. I would have Sam going through the book too, but he needs to work on procedures more first. He can figure out anything in his head by logic, but procedures baffle him. I think he doesn't see the need if he can just do it in his head. It's hard for me to find a good reason to give him. I know he'll need them later, but I haven't got him convinced.

After math, we all got to yell at each other for a bit. I'm not proud of it, but it happened. We're all tired and cranky. Every year when we start school, we get all excited to be productive and efficient; and then I get a migraine the first week. Every year. Really, we shouldn't be surprised.

Sometime during each school year, we become comfortable with the limits we have because of my health issues. And we're satisfied at the end. We take a break during which we start to worry that we hadn't done enough, and we need to fix it. So we make all these plans that don't include our limitations or reality or anything that can happen. Maybe that's why I always get a migraine the first week. I need to find a way to feel comfortable before the year begins and not wait until March. OK! That's what I'm going to do; right now. Tomorrow will be different than today.

The good news for me today was that my husband bought me a table I've been drooling over for two years! We're getting is Saturday. I am beyond excited. I have no intention of forcing everyone to sit at it all day, but I cannot wait to sit there and do something! I've tried keeping the kitchen table clean enough to do school stuff at--never going to happen. I've tried one of those hard, cold, rough plastic folding tables with metal folding chairs--not inviting. This is a beautiful, chunky, wood dining table--which we will never dine at. I think Sam's looking forward to putting his heavy science book on it instead of his lap in the recliner, while he answers questions in his notebook.

Here's a video of our family looking at the table at the furniture store. Seriously, it was over a year ago!

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Day 3

I was waiting with some other moms tonight, and one of them asked another if she had some kids in high school. Here was the answer, "Well, I do and I don't. I'm homeschooling my son." What? Last week someone asked my new 9th grader if she was going in to high school and immediately answered their own question with: "Oh no you're not, you're homeschooled."

Now I've been homeschooling 18 years. I'm starting on my 8th year of having children in high school-- at home. Yes, they are in high school! I've never heard of this not being in high school if you're homeschooled before. Is this a new thing? Do you know? Leave a comment if you have some insight for me. But no matter what you tell me, I'm still saying my kids are in high school.

I have had a terrible headache today. I get migraines regularly, and it puts a kink in our learning. The kids have tons of things they can do without me, but it always feels like they aren't getting anything done. They all did their science without me. We use Apologia. Rachel doesn't usually need anything from me with science, and Sarah's good a lot of the time. Sam too, but I usually have him talk to me about what he's reading and we go over the questions together.

Sam and I talk a lot! He hates writing--physically writing. I was going to say he hates putting his pen to the paper, but he loves to draw (with a pen). I wonder what's so terrible about writing. I'll have to work on that.

Of course, today Sarah had to review unit conversions in her science book. She hasn't done them for a couple months, and they are HARD! I was no help, so she watched the video explanation a few times, stopping to write every step. I'm not sure if she ever got it straight. I told her she needs to learn it; but if she didn't really get it, she could still be a successful adult. I didn't understand unit conversions until a year or two ago, and I've been perfectly happy. I don't want anyone in my house to feel like they can just let things slip if they're hard, but stressing stops us from learning. I've seen it too many times.

So relax.

Here's my picture for the day. It's my son, Wilson and his sweet little family.

See you tomorrow!

By the way, if you need some help with writing in your homeschool, check out
We'll relieve some of that stress!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Day 2

We've been reading Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None for a few weeks. So today when we started reading, we decided we had to find out what happened. I actually read aloud for three hours without a break! My throat was a little tired, but we found out. I have to say the end was kind of creepy. We had read Murder on the Orient Express a few months ago and weren't creeped out. But this was different. When we finished Murder on the Orient Express, we thought about having a murder mystery party where the teens at church would come and dress up as characters and act it out. But when we finished this book, we all decided we didn't want to read it again. We were caught off guard by the bizarre ending.  We do love a good mystery, though. Maybe we'll have to read a Nancy Drew next; not too creepy. In fact, I like to read Nancy Drew before bed since you never really have to worry about her.

Today, we were talking about remembering things and Sam said, "When people ask how I have something memorized, I say I don't have it memorized. I just know. When you like something, you just know." He loves statistics and can always remember them after reading them in the newspaper or encyclopedia. He has no problem remembering all kinds of Lego facts after looking them up. He just knows.

This is why I advocate letting the kids find out things they want to find out. Isn't that what adults do? I don't mean that they only have to learn what they think they'd like, but there are ways of making almost anything interesting. As a parent, I let them see me being interested in different things and they feel like that's the way to be.

And it is.

Maybe even more important than that is my being interested in what they have to say. I love when Sam tells me all kinds of stuff about Legos. He knows that his interests are legitimate, so he can know everyone's interests are. If everyone's interests are legitimate, then maybe he ought to look into some of them. Be interested! Having questions means we want to learn more, so always help your kids answer their questions.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Day 1

First day of school accomplished!

Actually, right now the kids (Rachel-17 yr old senior, Sarah-14 yr old freshman, and Sam-13 yr old 8th grader) are doing what I call "independent study". That's 30 minutes of studying or looking up anything informational. I told them to just use the encyclopedia for today. I'm not really sure I should call it independent, though. They spend the whole time telling me all about the things they are reading. 

Did you know that cats have two sets of vocal chords? They use one set for meowing and one for lower sounds like growling. And they don't really use their whiskers for measuring a space to see if they will fit through.

We're doing a photography course this year from The Great Courses. We are loving it! We got a new camera with all kinds of settings we've never heard of, and it takes amazing pictures. The teacher on the course is a National Geographic photographer, and he knows everything! We did lesson 6 today, because we had started before; and I couldn't keep straight all he was saying about aperture and depth of field. I'm going to have to listen again and make notes. And then go out with the camera in my hands before I'll remember it. It's amazing how putting your hands on something helps you learn. I'm sure if I listened to the lessons enough, I could explain all kinds of technicalities, but I'd never take better pictures without actually taking them!

Sarah's having a piano lesson today. My husband Jeff is teaching her. He taught our adult son too, who just got a bachelor's degree in piano performance. And his wife did too! So all of the sudden a few months ago, Sarah decided to learn to play; and she has been flying! She's playing with both hands and can sight read surprisingly well for playing such a short time. I told her that most of the time kids who have only been playing a few months aren't really playing anything yet. She's not sure she believes it. Here's a little video of some very simple duets she and Jeff were playing around with the other day.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

200 Days of Homeschool

We're starting school Monday!! I know that's July 4, and nobody has school on July 4. But it's a free country, right? So we'll celebrate our first day with fireworks! I'll be telling you the story of our homeschool as we go along this year, and showing you what it really looks like on youtube!
See you Monday!