I’m sure you know by now that I homeschool my boys. I don’t really keep that a secret. I’ve been doing it since they were small, but never very well, I don’t think. Now, I know they’ve learned stuff; I just have some major improvement to do.
In the early years, we did the “all workbook, all the time” approach simply because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t want to miss anything. We had workbooks for math, reading, language arts, spelling, and writing. We did a lesson from each one every day.
The boys hated it.
And if I’m being perfectly honest, while I was comfortable in knowing I wasn’t lacking as a teacher, I didn’t love it either. It wasn’t what “home school” was supposed to be. I’m not of the unschool philosophy; that’s taking it too far. But learning should be fun. If all I was going to do was have them fill out worksheets all day, they could do that in public school and at least have a park (playground) to play at during specified times.
Last year, we just did the workbook for math. We did unit studies for everything else. There were some successes, but by and large, I don’t think it was enough.
So I’m going to try yet another approach this year. I came across Ambleside Online a few weeks ago. They offer completely free curriculum from Kindergarten through high school, in the Charlotte Mason style. For those of you who don’t know, Charlotte Mason was a British woman who lived from 1842-1923 and spent her life developing a teaching method for children using “living books” (real books by people who care about their topic rather than textbooks). She believed that children are not blank slates, but small people and should be treated as such. She had three main mottoes regarding education.
“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
“Education is the science of relations.”
“I am, I can, I ought, I will.”
I like these phrases. I like the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. So I’m going to try it with my boys this year. For the first time in our homeschooling career together, I’m excited for the school year to start.
Here’s what we’ll be studying in our first term (we’re going to do three, 12-week terms):
Old Testament: Genesis 1-15
New Testament: Matthew 1-10
We’ll be using mostly books that are available for free online, through the library, or inexpensive through the Kindle store.
A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer (this is available in volumes through our library. You can also get the book as a single volume from Amazon)
An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (this is available for free online and is a history of England)
This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall (available free online; a history of America)
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula (available free online; a series of biographies)
Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge (available free from Amazon for the Kindle version; historical fiction)
The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess (free online)
Tree in the Trail by Holling Clancy Holling (available in my library; the story of a cottonwood tree growing in the Great Plains and its contribution to the history of the southwest)
Shakespeare: We will be reading Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet this term.
Parables of Nature by Margaret Gatty (available online)
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (available online)
We will be reading one poem a day by Walter de la Mare. There’s a collection available online.
We will also be reading 800 words a week of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
We will be studying Johannes Brahms and Vincent van Gogh for our music and art lessons. I have curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler for those.
We will be doing daily lessons of math, copywork (handwriting), reading (silent reading of the kids’ choice), and foreign language (Spanish, because we attend an English/Spanish bilingual church). Math will be a workbook simply because that’s the most cost-effective way to do it. For Spanish, I’m going to start us with an app on my phone. Eventually, I’ll probably ask one of the Hispanic members of our church if they would be willing to give us lessons once a week or so, with assigned homework.
I think that about covers us for the first 12 weeks. 🙂
P.S. Wherever I say “available online” and don’t provide a link, those are on the Ambleside site. I would’ve provided specific links, but I’m short on computer time and don’t want to make this post from my phone ;).
We moved into our current house in December of last year. We knew it would need some work, but we had faith in the landlord (he’s sort of extended family – my brother’s wife’s dad), and now that the weather’s good (not too hot, but also not rainy) we’re starting to get some of the work done.
The first big project to tackle was the sliding glass door that leads out to the back deck. When it was installed, they somehow put it in backwards. I don’t even know how that happened. It also didn’t quite fit in the hole properly, so we had gaps where the outside air could seep in.
You can imagine how awesome that was in January when it was 18 degrees outside.
Here are some other “before” pictures.
Back in April, our landlord bought the replacement door. He got a great deal from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The new door just sat in our garage until this past Saturday. It took 4 men (hubby, landlord, a friend from church, and landlord’s son – who happens to be the previous tenant here) 8 hours to get the job done.
It was a very elementary, though time consuming, project. Once the got the old door out, moving the new door into place took all 4 of them plus our neighbor. Then there was the removal of the moulding, some cutting away of the siding and floor to make the hole big enough for the new door, the door installation, and replacing the moulding. From a spectator’s perspective, it seemed very difficult! But I’m told it really wasn’t, other than the size of the project (the weight of the door, the use of power tools, etc).
The new door… is fabulous!! It’s glass, like the one they took out, but is a traditional door, not a slider. So there’s a door-sized window on the left and a door on the right.
It’s so nice not to have to fight with a incorrectly installed sliding door anymore!
Small Fry is at the stage now where when he’s tired, he’ll climb up to where I am and snuggle in for a nap. No prodding from me required :). Yesterday, I didn’t even bother moving him from the couch; I just let him slumber there while I worked on a new quilt. But don’t worry – I checked on him often to make sure he didn’t roll off!
For the record, these two pictures were taken at different times during the week.
Enjoy the weekend!
For a long time – until last Christmas – we did all the fantasy characters with our kids. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny. We didn’t see anything wrong with perpetuating the myth. Along with that went all the commercialism associated with said characters – Christmas stockings, Easter eggs, a Tooth Fairy pillow, etc.
Hubby and I got to talking during the Christmas season last year and realized that if our kids came across the truth of these stories on their own, we would lose credibility with them. The question we asked ourselves was, “If we ‘lie’ to them about Santa Claus, how can we be sure they believe us about Jesus?” The answer was, quite simply, we couldn’t. We live in a time where Jesus isn’t here physically. We have to train our children to believe in him and love him unconditionally – and yes, experience him – without ever laying eyes on his physical body. The same is true for those holiday and special life event characters. We expect our kids to believe in the truth of those figures. But they’re not real. And if our children decide that we’ve lied to them (as opposed to simply “having fun”), we have no basis in matters of faith.
That was a frightening thought.
So we had a conversation with the boys. We told them that the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny don’t exist; we had been the ones giving money for teeth and Easter baskets. We told them the real story of Saint Nicholas. We even traded out our “traditional” Christmas stockings – designed to hold lots of small gifts – out for holiday themed socks (yes, regular socks from the apparel department of Fred Meyer). Our new stockings remind us of the simplicity of the true gift of Christmas – God’s son. And that we should be caring for others during the season, not just buying gifts for ourselves. Just like the real Saint Nicholas did.
It was a little bit of a tough pill for them to swallow, but they did so with no less grace than I would expect from my children. And now we have confidence that they’ll believe us when we tell them that they need to have real faith in important things.
I actually finished this last week, just haven’t posted about it yet.
I just love the gray with pink flowers. It was on sale for half price a few weeks ago, so I bought a whole bunch of it. (You might recognize it from my purse.) I think it was just perfect for the lattice between the blocks. I also used it for the quilt’s binding (the small strip around the edge that hides all the raw edges).
The plain gray for the border and the gray with purple flowers was also super cheap, so I bought tons of those two fabrics also. I haven’t used them for anything else yet, but they’ll make great elements in other projects later.
My husband is self employed, which means no paid time off – which means we don’t take many vacations. In the 12 1/2 years we’ve been married, we’ve had 3, and one of those was our honeymoon. But he’s worked hard to build his business and trips will be easier to come by in the future.
We went on vacation to Southern California last week. We left super early Tuesday morning and got back super late the following Tuesday night. We rented a car for the trip – our 1991 Toyota Celica would never have made the trek. We didn’t tell the kids we were going; we just moved them to the car at 4 a.m. The idea was that they would wake up at their normal time and we’d be nearly to the border. Alas, that didn’t work. They were too awake from the move to fall back asleep right away, and within an hour we had to spill the beans because Seahawk had an anxiety-caused stomachache.
The first day, we drove 15 hours (including meal and bathroom stops). It was rough, but by pushing through so hard, we had an easier Day 2. We did, however, stop to see the Sundial Bridge in Redding, CA. That was pretty neat.
On the second day, we drove a couple of hours to Santa Monica and did the Pier and the beach. If you ever have a chance to visit there, I highly recommend it. We didn’t do the full-on amusement park (there are seasonal carnivals and amusement parks around here – we wanted the focus to be things we can’t experience at home), but we did spend the $20 for all of us to ride the world-famous Ferris wheel. We also did the carousel because it was inexpensive.
On the Pier, there was a small statue thing for kids to climb on. Actually, it was two statues – a sea dragon and a pirate ship.
There was a button in the pirate ship that makes “steam” come out of the dragon’s nostrils. It’s just a water mister, which was a nice treat from the hot weather of So Cal.
Playing in the warm waters of the Pacific was one of the biggest highlights of the trip. Until this trip, I never got why people always want to go to the beach. I live less than two hours from the coast, so I went to the beach often as a kid. But the Oregon coast is cold and drizzly most of the year. Even in the hottest part of the summer, the ocean is too cold to venture into more than ankle deep for more than a minute or two. But at Santa Monica – oh my! Definitely the best beach experience of my life. It was worth getting all sandy for that beach.
After we left Santa Monica, we drove a couple of hours inland to where Hubby’s grandma lives. The kids and I ystayed with her for the 4 days Hubby was at Comic Con. We spent most of those days in the pool.
Hubby’s time at Comic Con was pretty amazing. He met a lot of comic artists (Matt Groening, The Simpsons; Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, Baby Blues; Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County; Greg Evans, LuAnn to name just a few) as well as Lou Ferigno (who played The Hulk in the 70’s TV show. He saw part of The Vampire Diaries panel, among others. And most importantly, built an even stronger relationship with his colleague from Canada (this was the first time they’d met in person).
The way home was the “real” vacation. We left Grandma’s house Monday morning and spent the first half of the day in LA seeing some of the sites we missed on the way down.
That’s me and Seahawk in front of the Hollywood sign! It took us a long time to find, even with GPS.
Hollywood had the most famous landmarks of what we saw. Even silly things like famous streets were exciting.
After leaving Hollywood, we got some lunch and then went to the La Brea Tar Pits. That was really fascinating.
After leaving the tar pits, we all wanted to go back to the beach before we headed north again, so we went back to Santa Monica, but did just the beach this time, not the Pier. It was even better the second time! Between La Brea and Santa Monica, I saw the most expensive gas station in my life – $5.09 for regular! My camera app didn’t start quickly enough to get a picture of it.
We spent the late afternoon and into the evening driving north.
Tuesday morning was spent in San Francisco. We did the Golden Gate Bridge and the old military fort underneath the bridge. I think it’s called Fort Point, but I don’t remember right this second.
We could see Alcatraz from our parking spot.
Crossing the Golden Gate:
We wanted to take the kids to Fisherman’s Wharf to get clam chowder in a bread bowl for lunch, but traffic around the bridge was a nightmare and we weren’t able to get back down there after we crossed it.
We busted our tails Tuesday afternoon/evening and made it home around midnight after having left San Francisco around noon.
I hope you guys had an awesome week, too!
Yesterday was Small Fry’s birthday party. It was a fairly low key affair, but I thought I’d share some pictures.
He started the party asleep on Grandma (my mom). There were a few guests who thought it was weird/inappropriate that the guest of honor was asleep during the party, but at 1 you don’t argue with baby’s desire to nap.
When he woke up (and after eating half a bagel), he was much happier.
I made 2 cakes. This one is Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake. I got one of those super huge candy bars for the top – cookies and cream. It had 16 rectangles, so I used 12 of them around the outside like a clock and grated the other 4 up and put the shavings in the middle.
This one is a homemade carrot cake. I altered the original recipe a touch, though – I cut the oil back by 2/3 and subbed in some applesauce to make up the difference. For the teddy bear shape, I used my Wilton Puzzle cakes set.
Of course there’s the obligatory eating cake picture :).
And his messy face afterward!
And some playtime with Mom.
I hope you had a great weekend!