Tuesday, September 23, 2008


My collection of memorable quotes from Logan for June, July & August:

* 8/31/08 - "I want sugar, though." (sugar = yogurt)

* 8/31/08 - Logan: "Kids! Be Quiet! Daddy is Sleeping!"..."I am going to go get them in trouble."

* 8/29/08 - "I want not a bite."

* 8/27/08 - Doctor to Logan: "Say 'Ah' really big." Logan, in tiny voice: "Ah really big."

* 8/27/08 - "There's a bird! It poops, huh?"

* 8/17/08 - "Don't smile at my face."

* 7/19/08 - James: "We are crossing the Pawpaw River." Logan: "It's a doggie river."

* 7/16/08 - Logan singing: "Have a birthday to me!"

* 7/12/08 - Logan, with wide eyes and in a whisper: "The secret is coming."

* 7/12/08 - Logan: "I have an owie."
Melissa: "How did you get an owie?"
Logan: "A butterfly bite"
James: "Hurry! Get the butterfly venom antidote!"
Sophie: "Logan, butterflies don't bite!"

* 7/7/08 - Melissa to Logan: "Logan, if you finish your vegetables, you may have some strawberries." Logan: "I am a daddy robin! I am bouncing like a daddy robin!"

* 7/2/08 - Melissa to Logan: "Copycat!" Logan: "Copykitty!"

* 6/23/08 - Evan: "Logan, do you want some jicama?" Logan: "No. Trash!"

* 6/21/08 - "Appleboss" = applesauce; "Ephelant" = Elephant ; "Strawbeddies" = Strawberries; "Ef-uh-dee" = SUV

* 6/19/08 - Logan: "Penguin, please!" Melissa: "Sophie can you translate?" Sophie: "He calls mango 'penguin'." (Now we eat Black Bean Penguin Salsa.)

* 6/8/08 - Out of the blue: "Jackie's foot broke off." (My sister recently fractured her foot.) We assured Logan that her whole foot did not break off!

* 6/6/08 - "Helicopter cut grass... People live on airplane. Say 'Bye people!'"

See Sidebar for Logan's latest!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bedtime Story


Logan's hands-down favorite book is The Bear Under the Stairs. Even when we are not reading the book, he likes to quote it: "William was scared of grizzly bears...He slammed the door quick! Wham. Bang. Thump..."What's that awful smell?!" Logan enjoys the expressions on the bear's face and pointing out what he is doing on each page. The book brings to life a little boy's worst fear, but my little boy reacts to it with delight rather than fear.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Week Two Homeschool Report

This report is for the week of September 8-12.

On Monday, the children seemingly conspired to make my head explode. My head barely stayed intact, but my chest did hurt by the end of the day. Ugggghhhh!

It began when a certain child, who shall remain nameless, spent a half hour looking for his math CD. I didn't catch on to the search right away, but I detested that much wasted time.

Later in the day, I was impressed when a different child asked if he could put his math materials in the van an hour ahead of when we needed to take Sophie to cello lessons. "Such responsibility!" I thought-- until we were in the van ready to leave and said child could not find his math CD. Hence the namelessness. He ran inside to find where he dropped the CD as each minute painfully slipped away. I tapped the horn but got no response. I ran inside to round up the child and different schoolwork to occupy him. I despised being late!

On the way home from the cello lesson, the kids and I stopped at the grocery store to purchase the weekly groceries. Check! When we got home, we unloaded the school books, cello, and groceries, but a certain child could not find his literature book that he brought in the van. For the next half an hour, the children searched for the missing math CD and book while visions of the book lying in the store parking lot flashed before my eyes. I should have known, from past experience, that we should have all prayed together about the missing items before searching and freaking out, but being an adult doesn't always mean that I am the mature one. Sigh. Thankfully, both the disk and the book were found, and we didn't have to search the grocery store parking lot or order new materials online! Oh me of little faith!

The second week was definitely and literally a step backwards on the preparation front. By mid-week, the kids were only two steps up their stairway to computer privileges by Saturday to their chagrin.


My lack of sleep and feeling ill added to my frustration this week. During the first week of school, we benefited from starting our school day off with a group time in God's Word. During the second week, my lack of sleep and energy made it difficult for me to get up before the children in order to have time for my own personal devotions. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak. We also got going a half hour later on our school day part of the week and our morning Bible study went by the wayside.

To combat the problem I just described, I need to do my personal Bible study the night before in order to ensure that I am prepared to lead our group Bible study in the morning. My morning devotions can be more contemplative.

On a more positive note, Evan and Sophie not only accomplished their schoolwork during the second week, but they also did substantial additional reading. Evan got hooked by the book Hittite Warrior which is historical fiction based on an earlier time period than what we are currently covering with Tapestry of Grace. I had begun it as a read aloud this past summer (it pains me to call it "past summer"), but did not finish it. Sophie also read the book Adara which was not assigned to her, but she read it for fun in two days! (It is a dialectic level book for Tapestry of Grace and she is considered upper grammar level.) I let her read the book, because I know she will enjoy reading it again when she is older. She even asked me if she could read it again right away!

For history and Bible via Tapestry of Grace, the boys once again ignored my repeated instructions to pre-read their Accountability Questions and to fill-in their timelines and answer their questions while they did their reading. Consequently they had to do some re-reading in order to do their written work. I wouldn't have minded that process, except that school took too long when they read and re-read. Hopefully they learned for the future the benefit in following my instructions!

During the second week of school, I sat down with our daily schedule to try and tweak it to make it work any better, but after rearranging it several times, I realized that what I set down in the beginning was best.

We have made a good start to our school year and just need to shore up some weaknesses in order to keep on keeping on!

Sophie working on grammar

DSC_0810 DSC_0851 DSC_0843
Evan practicing and typing in backyard along with a cute distraction

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week One Homeschool Report

As we begin our new school year, I'm joining the "weekly reporters" of the Well-Trained Mind Curriculum Discussion Board. We'll see how many of these reports I actually post, but here's a start.

This report is for Sept. 2-6, our first week of school.

I quickly drafted a tentative daily schedule in pencil to get us started, and I might have got it "right" on the first try! Each school day began at 8:00 a.m. with a family Bible study, reading and discussing together the passage that we covered in our personal devotion time. We started using the online Devotional to End All Devotionals as a guide for learning different methods for Bible study.

At 8:30 a.m., the kids took turns practicing piano. I limited Evan (age 12) to practicing two pages out of his eight page piece (Tarantella by Piezonka) to stop his habit of just playing through the piece without focusing. (At his piano lesson at the end of the week, since his teacher wrote "WOW!" in his notebook, my strategy apparently helped.)

Evan worked on Teaching Textbooks 7 and Matthew (age 10) continued with Teaching Textbooks 6.

Teaching Textbooks has revolutionized Evan's attitude towards math. For some reason, getting immediate feedback from the computer really helps him to enjoy math. However, when he gets a problem wrong, I do not allow him (or Matthew) to look at the solution until he reworks the problem to get a correct answer. If he can't figure it out, he asks me (rarely) for help. Usually it is a computation mistake he is overlooking or something that I can explain. If I can't remember, or if I need to know the way that Teaching Textbooks taught the concept, then I look at the computer solution or send him back to the appropriate lesson.

When Matthew finishes Teaching Textbooks 6, I am considering going back to Singapore Math which I think delves into mathematical concepts more deeply to challenge him further.

Sophie (age 8) worked on the review lessons at the end of Singapore 2B. She also reviewed her math facts with the Flashmaster. Her math fact recall definitely took a dive over the summer, but that does not worry me. She will soon get back up to speed.

Evan began Analytical Grammar, Season Two this week, while Matthew did lessons in Rod & Staff English 4 and Sophie continued on with Rod & Staff English 3. Matthew and Sophie read the lessons on their own and did the written exercises in composition notebooks.

Matthew working on his grammar

At 10:30, on most days, Sophie and I unsacked our cellos, and I helped her practice. I enjoyed accompanying her Suzuki Book One pieces using the Suzuki Cello Ensembles book.

At 11:00, Sophie read some of her Tapestry of Grace assignments, then played with Logan (2 years old), while the boys and I worked on Latin Prep Book I together.




Last year, the boys and I started Latin Prep I (not right at the beginning of the school year), writing out all of the exercises from the text and doing the accompanying workbook exercises. I personally loved doing Latin, but the boys did plenty of complaining even though they liked Latin Prep much more than Latina Christiana. We only made it through lesson five, but I was pleased with our progress.

This year, I intend to be more intentional about having a recitation to begin our Latin work everyday to make sure that we don't get behind in reviewing vocabulary and grammar. We each have a composition notebook, with a section tabbed off to create our own reference pages. This past week, we orally reviewed three chapters in the Latin Prep textbook, while writing in our reference pages for each chapter. It was encouraging to me to see how much easier it was for the boys to do the exercises compared to when we did them last year. I may continue doing chapters 5 through the end of the book orally as well, unless it just doesn't seem like it is sinking in well enough.

The boys have an annoying habit of spacing out while the other is taking his turn with translation. I have nipped that in the bud by telling them that they will have two turns in a row if they are not looking at the book when the other is taking his turn. I have made good on my warning and they are much more attentive!

At 12:00, we had lunch, though the children read some of their Tapestry of Grace literature, Bible, and history assignments while they ate. They cleaned up the kitchen by 1:00, then had a half hour to play in the backyard with Logan.

At 1:30, I did two lessons of Sequential Spelling each day with all of the older kids together. Logan sat with us and drew on his whiteboard and echoed the words and sentences (or argued with them!)

The children did some independent work while I put Logan down for a nap around 2 p.m.

I did copywork, narration and dictation exercises from Writing With Ease Level Two with Sophie. We do not have the WWE Workbook 2 yet, but I found writing models on my own and she wrote in a composition notebook. As she enjoys writing, we did two exercises per day.

The boys began Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive B, watching the DVD lesson on the first day and completing two paragraphs by the end of the week using the key word outline method.

Evan worked on Apologia General Science daily using the Sonlight schedule. He got a head start by completing Module 1 last year.

Matthew, Sophie and I did the first half of the first chapter of Apologia's Zoology I: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.

An activity illustrating the effect of air pressure on water, which in a round about way illustrated how air pressure affects flight.

I explained where we began in Tapestry of Grace in this post. On the prior weekend, I had each of the kids fill out their weekly schedule kept in their TOG notebook, except for "do the next thing" type assignments which they just filled in after they completed it. Even though the boys broke down daily reading so as to get through half of their literature book Adara by the end of the week, Evan read the whole book this week. Also this week the boys read I Kings 1-11, I Chronicles 28-29 and Proverbs 1-10, answering accountability questions and thinking questions, while Sophie read about Solomon, the Divided Kingdom of Israel and about Elijah and Elisha in The DK Illustrated Family Bible. Sophie did an oral narration about Solomon which I wrote down and she later copied. She topped it off with an illustration. We all had a discussion on Saturday (because we did not do school on Labor Day) to wrap up our week.

Sophie's narration and illustration

Also during the first week, I put into effect a simple system to reward the kids for keeping their school materials organized and ready-to-go at all times. Last year, we held a pencil contest to combat the constant searching for a writing implement. At the last minute, this year, I came up with a different idea, scrawling some stair steps on a white board. Each day the child had the opportunity to move up one step on their staircase if all of their school supplies were always in the right place and ready-to-go when needed. If they lost anything, or were unprepared to do their lessons, then they fell all the way down to the bottom of the staircase. When they reached the top of the stairs, they would be entitled to play a computer game of their choice for a half hour. Thankfully this week, all of the kids earned their computer time.


The other discipline tool I initiated involved bedtime. I warned the children that they would go to bed a half hour early for any complaining, whining, or disrespect. I only had to enforce that penalty one time in the first week. I should add that my rule against complaining did not mean that the kids were not allowed to express any frustration, just that it needed to be done in a proper way.

By the end of the week, I was toast! Our days were long. I am hoping that as we get into the swing of things, the boys especially will accomplish their Tapestry of Grace assignments more quickly as they get more practice with writing. But in spite of our long days, each of the children told me that they enjoyed school which was good to hear!

Busy Boy

Click on collage to view larger.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Yes, I am a Notebook Nerd

Here is further proof that I am easily entertained and a little obsessive about notebooks:

Last year I did not buy the student response books for Sequential Spelling. We just used regular notebook paper in 3-ring binders. See previous post if you want to know what my opinion is of 3-ring binders.

This year I bought three student response books which are set up specifically for Sequential Spelling. When I received the books, I knew I'd have to make some improvements. The covers were not sturdy enough and boring white. To personalize each child's notebook, I printed out some pictures of the owner on regular paper and taped them on the cover. (If I didn't personalize the covers, the kids would be guaranteed to write in the wrong notebook more than once.) To make the covers last longer, I covered them with contact paper.

front cover

back cover

Like I said, I'm easily entertained.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Circa Copycat

As this school year approached, I knew that I needed to find something to help me stay on track better with history. Last year, we covered the Ancients up through a good bit of Ancient Greece, but we never made it up to the Roman Empire much less through the fall. The irony of all this is that I love history, have a history degree, taught history in a private school, and my children are history buffs too. However, I'm no multi-tasking, planning queen, and I dropped the ball on my favorite subject.

After spending a lot of time perusing the Sonlight website and talking to a homeschooling Sonlighter friend of mine, I nevertheless ended up deciding to go with Tapestry of Grace to help me weave history and literature more firmly into our schedule. I decided on TOG mainly because it seemed more flexible to use with the range of ages in our family. TOG's varied literature "worksheets" and mapped out Bible, History and Literature discussions attracted me as well.

Once I decided on Tapestry of Grace, I inevitably jumped on the Circa Notebook bandwagon thanks to Karen at Rivendell Press! Who knew it would be possible to get so excited over a notebook?! Since Karen already wrote wonderfully detailed posts about how she set up her TOG Circa Notebooks, I won't repeat it all here, but looky:


I printed out cover pages in different colors in order to easily tell whose is whose.

Not that I've completely done away with all three-ring binders from our school, but they are truly annoying. The holes on three-ring filler paper constantly rip and pages get lost. I can already tell that pages will stay put in the Circa notebooks much better; the notebooks are less bulky than binders; and it is easy to insert new pages, even of different sizes, into the place where they are needed.


I bought a Circa punch in order to put the TOG Student Activity Pages in the notebooks, along with regular notebook paper. I did not reformat the questions in the Student Activity Pages the way that Karen did (I'm too lazy). My kids will just answer the questions that I assign, incorporating the question into the answer. I write in extra instructions etc. on their SAP question's and then we pull them out of the notebook and throw them away at the end of the week.



I circa-punched 3-ring binder divider pages to divide the notebook up by weeks which I numbered on the tabs. (The numbers start at week 19, because we are starting TOG Year 1, Unit 3 in order to overlap some with where I left off last year.)

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Life Declaring God's Faithfulness

I have been spending hours lately putting together a DVD montage of 90 years worth of pictures from my Grandmother's life in celebration of her birthday this month. In viewing her pictures again and again, my heart is filled with gratitude and praise to God for His faithfulness to her and to her family. He is good!

My grandmother Nadzieja was born in 1918 in Moscow, Russia just months after the murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family. Nadia's father died when she was a little child, and her mother fled communist Russia to Poland with her children. To save her girls from starvation, she placed them in a Christian orphanage where they lived for the next twelve years. God blessed Grandma with the opportunity to travel to America in a choir, provided her with a college education while she lived with her generous "American parents", and gave her a loving husband and five children.

My Grandma tells part of her story much more eloquently in a series of letters that she wrote to her grandchildren which I have posted on my previous blog.

Go ahead and press play and watch a little! :) At the beginning of the montage, I refer to Grandma as Jadwiga, because she was given this Polish name in the orphanage to distinguish her from other girls also named Nadia. Later I refer to her as Nadzieja, her Russian name, which she started using again later in life.