Co-op


Our co-op classes are going so well this year.  With the exception of the first hour, all three of the older kids are in class so I only have Oliver to contend with.  It is a blessedly better experience than last year.  Oliver may be tricky to entertain at times, but I can devote all of my attention to his needs (and whims) making it a smoother ride and easier on my nerves.  I can see a glimpse of what it will be like when they are all old enough to take classes and let me tell you, it is glorious.

Our job is to help set up in the morning and once that’s done, William heads to his first class and I do a little bit of schooling with Henry and Adelaide.  They also eat a good portion of whatever items I packed for our lunch that day.

This year William is taking classes in science, art, Lego robotics and history.  Henry is continuing with chess and adding Lego engineering and physics.  Adelaide takes a kindergarten class, preschool science, and drama.  Originally, I had signed up for one more class for each of the kids but I ended up dropping them because co-op day is also my ballet teaching day and I needed an hour between the two to do math with the kids and get myself ready.

I’m grateful to have a co-op to participate in and the sense of community is provides.  I’m also grateful that it is only one day a week, because it allows me to still have time to get our regular schoolwork done.

38


We celebrated Ben’s 38th birthday this week with a chocolate and caramel trifle and a bunch of mixed up candles that represented a convoluted way to add up to 38.

It was a long day full of work for Ben and school and soccer practice for the kids.  We fit the dessert and presents in just before bed with plans to have a proper birthday date the following day.

 

For our date in honor of Ben’s birthday, we hired a sitter and went to a Sounders game sans kidlets.  I looked forward to the date all day and when it arrived it didn’t disappoint.  It was fantastic.  It’s been so long since we’ve had a fun date like that and even though the Sounders lost, it was a fun experience.  I really like this Ben of mine.  He’s a keeper!

Miss Casey


I’ve begun teaching ballet.  That may not sound like such a big deal, but ballet holds a very special place in my heart and when I made the choice to quit ballet 19 or so years ago, a piece of my heart broke.  Quitting was traumatic for me.  I spent a great many years trying to pretend like everything was okay and I ignored the very existence of ballet for the most part, but that meant that I couldn’t heal.

I started a creative healing/writing course in the middle of last year and it has done wonders for me.  Through the exercises I was able to admit that I missed ballet and that teaching was something that my heart desired.  It took me a week to work up the guts, but I inquired with a friend of mine who has her own studio and before I knew it, I was set up to start teaching two classes a week beginning in September.  A few days before my classes were to begin, I broke down in tears and sobbed through all the feelings of shame, regret, embarrassment, and deep sadness over quitting nearly two decades ago.  It was the cleansing I needed before moving on to this new chapter.

Adelaide is one of the students in my baby ballet class and it is so fun to have her in my class.  She tries to imitate everything I do and loves to dance around the house practicing the steps we’ve learned.  I also teach a class for 8-11 years-olds which is very fun because I can start to teach them actual ballet steps.  I want to make sure that I am giving quality ballet instruction no matter the size of the studio and I’ve been studying all sorts of books and curriculum to make sure I do so.  I had an amazing caliber of ballet instruction growing up and I hope to be as good as my own ballet teacher some day.

 

Teaching has been wonderful.  I walked out of my first day of classes feeling like I could soar through the clouds.  My heart was so full and so light.  I LOVE teaching.  I look forward to it every week.  I can see improvements in my students already which is so gratifying.  The time away from my normal responsibilities and the opportunity to do something I love is rejuvenating.  I’m so grateful that Ben adjusted his work schedule to make it possible for me to follow this dream of mine.   I will always be a ballerina at heart.

 

Conference Weekend


This weekend we had a general conference for our church.  It happens twice a year and our whole family looks forward to it.  We get to hear from the prophet and apostles and other leaders and the messages are always so uplifting and inspiring.  I try to make it a special celebration for our family so we stay in our jammies, have fancy breakfasts, I print out packets of activities for the kids to do and I purchase a couple of treats to share when they are doing a good job listening and being reverent.  I was impressed with how well the kids did this time.

There were so many good messages and I have a few things I want to implement right away.  Instituting a family prayer each morning, making sure we are consistent with our family home evenings each Monday, and expanding my personal prayers to make sure I include the Lord in all aspects of my life, my struggles, hopes, dreams, and things I’m grateful for.

Said


“Some manner and some words.  That’s what we need to teach Ollie.” — William

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“Addy go put the cheese on the table.” — Me, trying to get dinner ready
“Why do I have to do everything?” — Adelaide, protesting
“You don’t. You didn’t cook any of the food.” — Me
“When I grow up I’m having a servant.” — Addy, said in defiance

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“Oliver just wants to be a fashion baby.” — Adelaide, defending Oliver for putting on my mascara

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“Why is everything not-safe?” — Henry grumbling, after I shut down his third attempt at a death defying stunt in the house

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“Some day I want to be a cat.” — Adelaide

“Oh, you do?” — Me

“Do you want to know why I want to be a cat?” — Adelaide

“Yes…” — Me

“Cats go on lots of adventures.” — Adelaide

 

September


Fall has arrived and with it the rain (welcome) and the spiders (unwelcome).  I like wearing sweaters and listening to the rain fall early in the morning when all the children are still snug in their beds.  I do not appreciate finding giant behemoth spiders in our schoolroom and am very thankful for my Henry’s bravery in killing them for me.  This was the fourth nasty spider that we watched Henry engage in a David and Goliath style battle this week.  I owe that boy my heart and my life.  Spiders aren’t the only creatures trying to come inside and we’ve had to hire someone to come and double seal up our crawl space and eaves to keep out unwanted critters.  One of the many reasons we need a cat.

This first month of homeschooling (well, 2nd if you count August) has been everything I could have hoped for.  We’ve kept up the dedication to our new schedule and it has really paid off.  The kids love starting our day with P.E. and reading.  We do school 5 days a week, though Fridays are lighter with only math and one or two other things.  Each year I divide up our curriculum and set monthly goals to make sure we keep on track and we have met or exceeded all the education goals I had for this month.  Hooray us!

Things are working better for so many reasons.  First, it’s nice to have Oliver be a little older because homeschooling with a baby is extremely tricky.  Second, every Saturday I plan out our meals for the week and do the shopping which means that I can spend less time trying to figure out dinner in the afternoon and more time doing school.  Third, I’m making sure to take time for myself by waking up before the kids and getting in a workout, shower, writing time, and scripture study.  That little cocktail of activities helps center me and keeps me focused.

I’m feeling confident and empowered and I really hope that our success continues.  When homeschooling works, it is a beautiful thing.

2014-2015 Homeschooling Curriculum


I know I’m late on this, but I thought I’d better document what we’re doing this year.  I didn’t have to order a ton of new books since we are still finishing up some from last year <ahem> so I ordered a few extra history books for William.  He has read my entire set of U.S. History encyclopedias and has a huge interest in the world wars so I picked up some new books for him to read on his own.  He has already finished the biggest one within a few days and finished the book of war stories just today.

 

~~~Adelaide (4) Preschool~~~

Journal – one entry a week.  She draws a picture and then tells me about it so I can write down a description.

Handwriting Without Tears – These books are so great for teaching handwriting and the kids love them.  This is one of two books I had to purchase new for Adelaide.

First Language Lessons Level 1 – I’ve used this basic grammar/language book with each of the kids and I like the variety of things it covers.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – We gave up on this book last year because Oliver was demanding too much of my time.  We’ve started it again and are on lesson 40 so we’ll finish well before the end of the year.  Adelaide will be the 4th child I’ve taught to read using this program.

Saxon Math Level 1 - Adelaide is loving having a real math program this year.  Each lesson has two worksheets so I do the lesson and one of the worksheets on the first day and then save the second worksheet for the next day.  She would happily do everything in one day but I don’t want to move through the material too fast.  She is only in preschool after all.  I had all the materials and only had to purchase new workbooks.  We’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth out of this program.

 

~~~Henry (6) First Grade~~~

Journal – one entry a week.  He writes two sentences and then draws a pictures.  I help him with spelling any words he wants to use.

Spelling Workout Level B – I’ve used these books since we started homeschooling on the advice of my sister-in-law Sandy.  We’ve been really happy with them.  Spelling is tricky for Henry, but he does a lot better if we do the final tests orally.  He gets all tricked up when he goes to write them down.

Handwriting Without Tears Character – I thought it would be fun to try one of the themed handwriting books since Henry can make most of the letters nicely.  It’s been nice to have something to write about instead of random words.

First Language Lessons Level 2 – We didn’t finish this one last year so we are just continuing on this year.  We’ll finish well before the end of the year and that’s okay.

Writing With Ease Level 1 – I’ve never found a writing program that I love. This one is fine.  We are continuing on with what we didn’t finish last year. Its fine, but the kids get bored with it. If we are homeschooling next year I’ll probably look for something different.

Saxon Math Level 2 – He’ll finish this up mid year and then we’ll move on to level 3.  It’s a little easy for him right now, but I don’t want to move him too quickly.

Mind Benders Book 3 - The kids love these books.  I’m sure he’ll have the whole book done in a few months and when he does, I’ll look for some other sort of critical thinking book to exercise his brain.

Piano – Henry started piano lessons this summer.  He has a 30 minute lesson once a week and I have him practice everyday as part of our schoolwork.  He practices for about 15 to 20 minutes at this point.

Mavis Beacon Typing – Just a little bit each day.

 

~~~William (8) 3rd Grade~~~

Journal – one entry a week.  He writes half of a page and can write about anything he wants.  Sometimes he tells a story and other times he writes about whats happening or what he wants.

Spelling Workout Level D - He is still learning to read cursive so I usually print the words in his book next the cursive list words.

Handwriting Without Tears Cursive – William is loving learning cursive.  I got him a cursive president book to use when he finishes the basics.

First Language Lessons Level 3 – Finishing it up from last year.  It’s a good grammar program though he thinks grammar is pointless.  I’ll probably move to Winston Grammar next year.

Writing With Ease Level 2 – Finishing this one up too.  I cut out some of the dictation because I think it’s overkill.  I’ll look for something different next year.

Saxon Math Level 5/4 –  William was so bored with level 3 last year. I started covering 5 lessons at a time and he was still bored.  We ended the year with some left to finish in level 3, but I gave him the Saxon placement test and then moved him up to level 5/4.  I’m so glad I did.  He’s liking the format better and is able to grasp the concepts without getting too bored.  I’ll have to see how it goes throughout the year when the concepts get more advanced.

Mind Benders Book 4 – He loves these puzzles.

Piano – William also started piano.  Weekly lesson and daily practice and already I can see the improvement.  He went from not liking music to enjoying piano within a few weeks which is wonderful.

Mavis Beacon Typing – Just a little bit each day.

 

 

~~~General~~~

Story of the World Book 4 – Great history books!  The maps and activities are too old for the kids this year (we didn’t have a problem with the first 3 books) so I read the chapter aloud to them and then quiz them on review questions.

Co-op – We’re doing the co-op again this year.  We had a good experience last year and have doubled the classes for this year.  Our first class starts next week.

Reading Aloud – I’ve been reading aloud to the kids while they have a snack (after P.E.) and it’s been a good way to get us ready for the day.  We’re reading The Five Little Peppers And How They Grew right now.