Thursday, October 2, 2014

2014-2015 School Updates

So I haven't been here in forever.  I thought I would post an update on how everyone is doing.

My oldest is going through the growing pains of increasing young adult responsibility.  I'm not involved in her community college classes.  She handles her assignments and her professors' expectations.  I do still read her papers and offer suggestions but I notice she wants to hear from the peer reviewer before taking my edit suggestions into consideration.  Imagine my shock face.  I know this is a necessary part of growing up, I'm trying not to take it personally.  She had one mishap waiting until the last minute to upload an assignment to her instructor.  Let's just say the assignment didn't make it ... and unlike high school there are no excuses or time extensions.  That was a hard lesson to learn, but again a necessary part of growing up.  She is also balancing a part-time job and recognizing the difficulty of working with a unreasonable/difficult boss and immature co-workers.  I love it when all the lessons you try to teach your kids early on become REAL.  I always said if you learn how to get along with siblings at home, you learn the skills necessary to get along with co-workers and others later in life.  When she leaves to go away to college she should be well prepared.

First day of school
The younger two are enjoying public school.  At the time of this post they are getting straight As in all of their classes.  Proud mama moment right there.  I love hearing their stories when they get home from school.  All those IEW writing lessons and making the kids write paragraphs, summaries, and papers are truly paying off.  I didn't do a great job of keeping pace in my homeschool so as a consequence my kids are in classes that I know are well below their academic potential.  However, its a good transition year for them and I know their instructors recognize at this point that they should be in higher level classes.  My 10th grader has Honors English because of her Stanford scores.  She is reading some books she's already read but this class has been a good fit.  She says its her goal to be in all Honors classes next year.

First day of school
Even with all As my 8th grader I know isn't adequately challenged and her peers are delegating writing/presenting duties to her in class projects because they recognize she is an expressive writer.  I'm not surprised that she is excelling.  I always knew she thrived on competition and strives to be the best at everything she undertakes in the classroom.  She didn't realize the seriousness of the Stanford test when she took it last year (even though I told them), so her scores were below her potential.  As a consequence, her classes don't match her capabilities. Math is the only exception, she is on grade level there.  I suspect after this academic year, she will enter high school at Honors and AP levels.  Again this is a transition year so they are getting used to all the changes.  Princess says some days she looks around the classroom and thinks, "I'm really in public school."  A classmate who was previously homeschooled, shares the moment with her.  She also shared with me that in years past she could listen to 3-4 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey before falling asleep. Now she barely hears all of one episode before she's asleep.  A full day's work can do that to you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Apologia Educational Ministries

There aren't any Apologia Educational Ministries curriculum products that I haven't loved.  So when offered the opportunity to review one of four volumes in the What I Believe series, I was more than happy to do so.  The series is a Biblical worldview curriculum dedicated to teaching children the essentials of the Christian faith.  I received four physical products belonging to Volume 4: What on Earth Can I do? I received a text book, a notebooking journal, coloring book, and junior notebooking journal.  The ideal grade range for the curriculum is 1 - 6.  I used the curriculum with my 7th grade daughter.

 What on Earth Can I Do? Available 2013

You can purchase each volume separately or as a 4 volume set for $120.
The Volume 4 set I received retails $39 for the text; $24 each for the notebooking journals; and $8 for the coloring book. 

Other titles in the What I Believe series include:
Volume 1 – Who is God? (And How Can I Really Know Him?)
Volume 2 – Whom am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?)
Volume 3 – Who Is My Neighbor? (And Why Does He Need Me?)

What I appreciate about Apologia products are the well laid out lesson plans found in the beginning of their texts.  In the case of What on Earth Can I Do?, the calendar like grid can be found at the beginning of the notebooking journal.  My daughter checked off lessons as she completed them making it easy for me to keep track of where she was in the curriculum.  There are 8 lessons total and families can plan to complete the curriculum anywhere between four and eight months. There is a sample lesson plan at the Apologia website which is helpful in understanding the flow of the curriculum.  Easy to read lessons give way to a wealth of information.  Apologia uses an integrated learning approach focusing each biblical lesson across the academic disciplines of art, math, science, and history.  This was a pleasant surprise and one of my favorite aspects of the curriculum.  My daughter is receiving biblical instruction but learning a great deal about history as well. 

Many homeschoolers enjoy making their own notebooking journals to chronicle what they’ve learned and to have as a keepsake.  I believe in not reinventing the wheel and enjoy the journals Apologia puts together to use with their curriculum.  The notebooking journal is full of puzzles, activities, mini-books, writing and art prompts.  My daughter loves crosswords and word searches.  This by far was her favorite part of the journal.  She said she learned a great deal about history and likes how the history and bible go hand in hand.  I must agree.  I also enjoyed the critical thinking questions in each lesson often found in the “Think About It” and “Going Deeper” sections of the journal.  As if this isn't enough, there is vocabulary for each lesson which I asked my student to include in the writing required for the lesson to reinforce learning.  Finally, two scripture verses are introduced in each lesson.  One focuses on the theme of the lesson and the other a biblical trait for the student to ponder.  Coloring books are great no matter how old you are.  However, my kid is not keen on coloring so this was not a popular part of the curriculum for her.   
We have been studying Ancient history this year but she is now learning modern history using this product and how her biblical faith applies in this context. I enjoyed the "Make a Note of It" activity in Lesson 1 where I had to gather pictures of my daughter at different stages in her life to illustrate her tapestry.  This tapestry is a woven work of art and God is the master weaver orchestrating every detail of her life.  Because of this fact, she can trust him and know that her future is in his hands (Psalm 31:14-15).  This lesson touched me and encouraged me as a mom of three girls reminding me of who is in control. 

As usual, Apologia does not disappoint.  Now I'm curious to know how the other three volumes compare to this volume.  The What Do I Believe series is a must for all Christian homeschools.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Heroes and Heroines of the Past American History

I received Digital Heroines & Heroes of the Past; American History by Amy Puetz and Golden Prairie Press to review.  I received two ebooks, part 1 and part 2 covering the time period 1000 to 1837; and time period 1837 to the present.  I also received the Historical Skits book to review.  The entire curriculum includes the two ebooks I received, the Historical Skits ebook, Sing Some History CD and Listen to Some History mp3 CD for $98.99.  An additional materials CD is available that includes timelines, color pages, and other activities.  In specific units there is a literature component where one of five literature books can be read by older students or used as a read aloud for younger students.

The chapters include small snippets of information which for an older student is good for an introduction to the material.  Since we will do a more in depth study in high school, I felt the information was sufficient.  Part 2 starts with Section 16 and ends with Section 30.  Each section contains about 5 lessons.  Each lesson has about a one page synopsis of the topic for 1-2nd grade, then three to four page summary for 3-6th grade.  Following the lesson are a few reading comprehension questions and my favorite section the ‘Writing Topic’ section.  There is also an ‘Examining Historical Art’ section where your student answers a few questions about the art picture shown.  There is a scripture memory verse at the beginning of the section to ponder and recite before starting the next section.  There is a beautiful curriculum outline here, all fixed up in a grid just like I like it.  There is no guess work.  You get a snapshot of the entire year; the topic for each lesson, activities scheduled (craft, cooking, writing assignment, game, etc.); any literature assigned, and the color page assigned. 

Golden Prairie Press Review
My girls took their end of year testing and realized there were a lot of American history questions they could not answer.  When you do history chronologically that will inevitably happen.  My younger girls did ancient history this year and geography last year.  We don’t begin American history until high school so I gravitated to ebook 2 which included more modern history.  I don’t typically like to do more than one time period in a given school year but what could it hurt to do a unit study on American history?  I started with Section 24 to begin a study of World War I.  I had planned to start with World War II but after listening to my youngest daughter tell me all she knew about World War II, I decided to start with World War I. 

I printed each section for my daughter to read choosing which extra activities I wanted her to do.  I favor writing assignments and she always enjoys the baking assignments.  Where lessons included sheet music for the piano we always tried those.  My daughter has three years piano experience.  The writing prompts gives me great insight into her comprehension of the material introduced.  Another favorite part of this curriculum for me is video suggestions.  We like viewing videos as it relates to what we are learning in our homeschool. 

Overall, I like this curriculum the way we are using it, as an introduction to American History.  I don’t think it is strong enough for older students as a stand alone curriculum but is good for younger students. 


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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Approaching the End of this journey?

To say I've been busy is a gross understatement.  I had a draft post in the cube that I was supposed to post last week but that never happened.  So here I am at the end of the month just getting around to posting educational content.

Well we are preparing to leave temporary quarters for my permanent residence.  With this move, my kids will be transitioning back to public school in a new district within the state.  Gasp!  There is a time and a season for everything under the sun.  I am so very grateful for the 4 years I've had with my girls.  It has been so essential for their academic, spiritual, and personal well being.  I started this journey with Princess and I'm ending this journey with Princess.  As a rising senior, she will remain dual enrolled at a local community college and will graduate as a homeschool student.  This journey was mainly about her to begin with.  My other girls came along for the ride.

Pumpkin does not want to go back to school but I know it is right for her at this time. To be held accountable by outside teachers is a good thing at this age.  Some subjects have to be taught by others.  If she wasn't going back, I would've found a co-op for Math and Science for her anyway.  The school district we left had a fine set up allowing students to take 2 courses at the high school but there doesn't seem to be any other district in the state with those privileges.  Furthermore, for these two younger students there is more they stand to gain by transitioning back to traditional school.

NuNu is most excited.  She begged to come home as a rising 4th grader.  Now she is begging to go back. She is socially starved.  I realized with this student, it is best to get her acclimated to outside situations now while her dad & I still have an opportunity to teach and mold her before she leaves home at 18.

For what is going on in our lives at this juncture, this is the right path.  I know God is able to keep all that I commit to his care.  He is more than able to keep us and our children.  I trust him to do just that.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to continue to blog.  Perhaps I will do so until Princess graduates.
Here's to another new beginning.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The First Interview

With the oldest child there are so many firsts.  Princess says she is the guinea pig of the family as she is the first born.  Well Sunday was another milestone first – job interview!

Last Thursday we were sitting at the dining table discussing summer plans.  She asked me if she would ever have time to get a job.  My reply “you want a job?”  She said “sure.”  After I thought about it, now seemed to be as good a time as any to get a part time job.  Her work load is a bit light at the moment.  Believe it or not, her community college class has not been all that demanding.  That’s a conversation for another time.  Anyway….her summer schedule of activities begins 6/29 so if she works now until then I figure it would be good experience for her before the rigor of senior year begins. 

So we checked out to see who was hiring in the area.  She filled out an application for Chick-Fil-A then we headed out to talk with individuals in the local area.  We stopped inside Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, Target, Coldstone Creamery, Wendy’s, and Dairy Queen.  To our surprise Chipotle had a group interview going on in the corner of the restaurant when we arrived.  The manager informed us that another would be conducted on Sunday at 10 am and Monday at 3 pm.  We opted to return on Sunday.

I really wanted her dad to take her through a mock interview but he didn’t arrive home from work until late Saturday night.  So she took the advice I had to offer and I dropped her off at Chipotle Sunday morning after church (early morning service).  Three people were a part of the interview process.  My daughter said the manager asked all the interview questions I prepped her for.

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about a situation where you  fill in the blank
  • Why do you want to work for Chipotle?

She had ready answers and felt very confident about her interview.  Because the other young ladies drove themselves to the interview they left before my daughter when the interview was over.   Princess had extra time to talk with the manager and even get a free burrito before grandma arrived to pick her up.  Now we wait for the phone call.  The only downside of the interview was my daughter’s availability.  She can only work from about 5-10 pm.  So we will see if she made a big enough impression to be hired. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Learning should not stop in the summer

Summer time is the time for enrichment activities and fun.  I stumbled across two wonderful opportunities for this summer:

AgDiscovery – sponsored by the USDA, this program is for kids ages 14-17 to introduce them to various topics in Agriculture.  Kids learn about careers in plant, animal, and veterinary science.  The kids work in labs and take field trip to conservation areas and USDA facilities.  You can find out more about the program which is hosted at various college campuses here.  

STEAM Academy – is designed  to challenge students who have ability and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  It is a residential program for students  ages 12-16 and is held on two separate college campuses in Virginia.  There has been such a push for STEM education that I’m sure there are similar programs in other states.
I let my oldest daughter participate in a residential  program for the first time the summer before her 15th birthday.  Thirteen seems a bit young for a residential program but I have confidence in this program because of where it is located.  I know the staffers at these sorts of programs usually take extraordinary care of underage students so I may just have to pray and have faith that she will be fine. 

These programs are so valuable to homeschoolers who may not have the resources and opportunities to participate otherwise.  The icing on the cake is that these program are FREE!  

The fun of the summer will be wrapped up in the kids going to camp.  Check out this camp they attended last year.  They described it as one of the best summers of their young lives.  It's not free but they do offer scholarships.  

Can you tell I'm looking forward to Spring?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Books and learning......

I remember when I was about to graduate college, I dreaded the fact that I would have to work 9-5 everyday year after year at the same job.  How would I ever be able to do that?  My personality thrives on change of routine.  Every semester brought new classes, professors, and classmates.  I loved school and there was nothing mundane about it for me at all.

Similarly, I approach my homeschool the same way.  I always look at new materials, plan for each school year and semester, and just enjoy the pursuit of learning at every turn.  If things started to feel mundane I would plan a field trip or do something fun. 

I think I missed my calling in education.  I was a business major.  Every person in my family has business type jobs with the exception of one aunt who is a pharmacist.  But my point is I love learning.   I used to say that if I could find someone to pay me to stay in school I would.   As life would have it, in a sense I have been in "school" for a long time as a homeschooler.  Even with substituting in schools I love the routine of kids learning and reading.

So when I had to put some of my curriculum up for sale this weekend I felt kind of sad.  I just like to look at the books on the bookshelf.  But I need to sell them so that I can purchase some other things that I need.  Bye books that have sat on my shelf for a long time.........

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mango Languages


So foreign language is becoming the Achilles Heel of my home school; kind of like math was a few years ago.  It's one of those areas where you try different approaches hoping something will stick.
I had an opportunity to review Mango Homeschool Edition by Mango Languages.  Another foreign language program?  Yes.  I'm ready to try something new again.  I received an online subscription to not only Spanish language, my family's foreign language of choice, but many other language options.  You name it Mango has access to it - Arabic, Slovak, Danish...on and on the list goes.  Over 60 languages to choose from.  There are no limits to the number of languages one wants to learn.  You just simply subscribe to that particular learning community within the program.

Before I could get started on my new language journey, I had to view a 2 minute video to activate my account.  There a few other videos to look at to maximize your use of the program.  However, after activating my account I jumped right into the Spanish (Latin America) community.

My language program was divided into 4 different journeys.  Journey 1 covers such topics as:
  • Greetings
  • Names & Introductions
  • Shopping
  • Dining
  • Numbers & Currency
  • Asking for Help & Clarification

Within the journey, the material is further broken down into chapters with a review at the end of each chapter.  There is an extensive course guide for each journey which reviews all of the vocabulary, grammar, cultural notes, and common phrases. 

You move through the chapters like flipping through a power point slide. Learning words and phrases that build upon one another.  You learn full phrases and expressions by the end of the chapter.

Each community has several features you can take advantage of to enhance your learning experience.  There is a chat feature so that you can learn from or ask questions of others in the same community.  

We all gathered around the laptop and went through whole chapters within a journey together.  We all did exactly as the native speaker instructed us to do through each slide.  "How do you say this?, using your critical thinking skills say this" on and so forth.
I would add extra time on the clock if we couldn't figure out how to say something within the time allotted.  There is a lot of repetition so we even skipped through slides if we confidently had the new phrases learned.  We started Mango Homeschool edition having a lot of Spanish language experience so much of the beginning chapters were review for us. The girls also brought their Spanish notebooks to the table so that they could jot down new vocabulary to add to the growing list we've accumulated using other Spanish language programs.

Here is what we loved about using the program:
  • vibrant colors get you excited about learning
  • words within phrases are color coded so you can distinguish between Spanish words you are just beginning to learn 
  • Native speakers introduce each word/phrase ensuring proper pronunciation
  • Grammar notes during the presentation 
  • Literal translation versus meaning while learning phrases
After learning a series of lessons I wanted to keep going but my girls could only take so much new material at a time.   Another thing I love about the program is the constant review of information introduced in prior lessons.

Mango Homeschool is still in the beginning stages of development.  There are a lot of features coming done the pike that I wasn't able to use and review.  Having quizzes & tests that can be tracked for progress is in the works. They are also working on suggestions for high school credit.  I will be happy to see this added.  These features are of great help and concern to home schoolers.    

Mango Languages caters to other people groups not just home schoolers.  One feature not currently available for Mango Homeschool is Mango Premiere.  Mango Premiere is an immersion type of learning.   It uses foreign film to teach language.  They only have 2 or 3 films at this time that they would recommend for people under the age of 18.  I mention this feature because my girls love to look at Spanish language programming as another way to pick up parts of the language.  So although it isn't currently available for the home school community,  I would love to see this feature available in the future. 

This is their introductory pricing:
1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total 
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total                     
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total                   
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total               
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

Subscriptions are for each individual learning a language.  It is recommended for ages 6 to adult. Mango Homeschool is planning to offer family packs, which will offer some savings. They have either month-to-month payments or annual payments.

Find Mango Languages on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook - See more at:
 You can find Mango Languages on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Find Mango Languages on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook - See more at:

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A week with the public school system

So from now until the end of the traditional school year, I will be working as a substitute teacher.  Long story....maybe I will explain in another post at a later time.   This experience isn't new to me.  When I first started homeschooling 5 years ago I spent one semester subbing in my younger kids' elementary school.  Back then I was only homeschooling my oldest daughter. It was a eye opening experience then, and an even bigger eye opening experience now.

The difference between then and now is the type of system I'm working in.  Every public school district isn't created equally.  I am working within an inner city school environment.  I can't begin to put my experience into words except that I am saddened by the state of things.  The teachers are really exhausted.  If I had to keep the attention spans of 17 five year olds, I would be too.  Some kids are eager to learn but are so distracted by disruptive behavior.  Teachers have to spend so much time controlling children's behavior they rarely get adequate time to teach.  I've found myself thinking at times "this kid really should be home right now playing outside or reading a book!"

I've seen a 5 year slap another child in the face, a 5 year old punching a kid in the stomach, a teacher curse at a child (yes, a teacher), kids getting hurt while waiting in lunch line, and so much crude behavior.  I won't even expound on the academic skills of some of these kids.  I've also found myself thinking about the homeschooling naysayers - "but what about socialization?"  Have you seen the socialization in schools lately?  Again, not every school but I don't think anyone could argue with a parent homeschooling within this district.

I don't want to be the Pharisee in Matthew who while praying was full of pride and self-righteousness when declaring how glad he was that he wasn't like the sinner praying alongside him at the synagogue.  However, I am thankful for the privileges I've had with my own kids.  I wish so much to educate the parents of these inner city kids.  They can do so much more to empower themselves to do better for their children.  Everybody can do some after schooling or at the very least do the homework the teacher sends home.  There is very little parent involvement with these kids.  No one is doing homework or reading with them at home.   There is no excuse for that!  I know the problem is not as simple as I've stated - educating the parent.  There are some deep rooted issues here that aren't so simple to solve.

Although I am working for the benefit of compensation (unlike most people), I take seriously the impact I can make on a child when I read them a book, or work with them one on one to understand a concept.  Education has the power to change lives and to break the cycle of illiteracy and generational poverty.  I believe it really is that serious.  Stay tuned for my posts on this new Educational Journey.

So what have my kids been doing while I'm been working this week?
  • Princess is reading the Red Badge of Courage & working on scholarship essays.
  • NuNu is reading the Bronze Bow & working through Videotext.
  • Pumpkin is steadily working through MFW AHL & working through Videotext.
  • They spent hours swimming at the hotel on Thursday as their grandparents were in town and stays at the local Marriott.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

If I had it to do over again....

Just yesterday Princess & I were going over the SAT words at the back of the Baron's SAT prep book.  She takes her first SAT exam in two weeks.  WOW....two weeks!  Why do I feel like the whole school experience hinges upon this one culminating event?  In a sense it does, but in reality I know it really doesn't.  So as I am watching her separate the vocabulary cards into piles of words she knows and words she doesn't know, I panic.  I began to reflect on the fact that I haven't done all the preparation that I'd wanted to do.  If I could start over how would I do it?

I had kids in my early 20s.  I was still coming to grip with who I was as an adult, newly married woman, and mother.  I was growing in my relationship with Christ and there was a lot going on.  I wasn't totally comfortable in my role as a stay at home mom.  For as long as I could remember my life as a wife and mother wasn't going to begin until age 30.  Until then, I was supposed to be building a career.  God had other plans.

If I had the insight back then that I have now, I would have enjoyed that season of my life a lot more.  In my mind I would have:

Preschool Years
  • spent time with other moms with preschool children so our children could play & learn together
  • had lots of learning toys at home
  • turned the TV off
  • went to library reading times every week and participated in all the free library activities for preschoolers
  • spent lots of time doing outside activities (farms, playgrounds, childrens' museums etc.)
  • I would've probably still participated in a 3x/week half-day preschool for the structure

Elementary Years
  • homeschooled using ABEKA language arts, math, & bible
  • Lots of reading and written/verbal narration
  • field trips every week
  • co-op for enrichment
  • nature study & fun experiments
  • music classes
  • foreign language (Spanish) & Latin (maybe CC Foundations / Essentials)
  • Soccer, Track, or Volleyball clubs 

Middle School
  • formal grammar study to include diagramming using Abeka or Rod&Staff (I see a direct correlation with preparation for SAT)
  • Literature study (using Socratic method & Unit studies) 
  • Composition Skills (narrations, outlining, essays)
  • Math
  • Formal science study (emphasis on research skills, lab work, and the scientific method)
  • field trips relevant to course work
  • co op for enrichment
  • music classes
  • foreign language (Spanish) & Latin (maybe CC Challenge A & B)
  • Soccer, Track, or Volleyball clubs
High School

formal 4 year course of study (Language Arts, Math, Science, Foreign Language, History)
Public Speaking/Communication, Economics/Financial Courses
take advantage of online courses, academic co-ops, dual enrollment
Lots of community service & community based programs (Art Museums, STEM courses, etc.)
Special Interests
Physical Education & Health

Graduation & College Prep!

Hindsight is 20/20.  We do the best we can with the information we have at the time.  I am grateful for doing a lot of things right but secretly I wish I had started from the very beginning. 
Since I'm near the end of my journey perhaps I'll work with my kids in educating my grandkids :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Family of 8 is again a family of 5

There is rarely a slow moment in our household.  This week has been no different.  However, we are enjoying the quietness of the house as our foster kids went back home this past Friday.  We have had them for a total of 18 months with a few weeks break when they briefly returned home last summer.  Even though I believe it is what's best for the children in the long run, I still strangely miss them.  It's only been a few days so of course I think about them daily. I feel sporadic twinges of grief every now and again but I believe it will pass in time.  I must admit not getting up to get kids off to school is great!  Being out and about without having to be back by a certain time is nice too.  The girls and I spent the weekend window shopping in the 60 degree weather we had over the weekend.  We really have forgotten how things used to be before the kids came.

Don't thing I don't have plenty to keep me busy.  I found a new community service activity for us to do as a family.  Similar to what we did at the Emergency shelter I blogged about here.  The girls volunteered at the Ronald McDonald house in Delaware with family last year so I found a Ronald McDonald house near where we are to do the same.  We have to prepare a dinner at the house for the family staying there.  I just need to sign up for my night and arrive with the ingredients to prepare the meal.
Ronald McDonald House

We are also all preparing to do a domestic missions trip this July.  The girls have to fund raise to get there but they will be traveling with the church youth to minister in the inner city of Detroit, MI.  It is all part of the Rebuild America campaign our church is a part of.  They are really excited.  I am just praying we can get all the funds raised so that they can go.  I might go as well now that I don't have small kids at home this summer.  This family of 5 is on the move again.

Social Services asked if we wanted to continue on as a foster family.  A lot has changed since we initially said yes 18 months ago.  It isn't physically possible to continue as a foster family at this time.  We are living in temporary quarters.  Also, who knew the emotional toll it would take on us all?  Even if we could continue I would need a huge break and I think I would wait until my kids are all gone.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What I love about having teenagers

I thank God that I don't have the issues other adults complain about when their kids become teenagers.  I really enjoy my teens.  They are actually a lot of fun.  They have unique personalities and those personalities are expressed in many different ways.

This week we hung out shopping.  I sat in the dressing room most of the time as they don't appreciate my fashion sense or advice.

Princess and I talked about her community college class and how laid back her instructor is.  The teacher lacks structure and clear expectations.  I enjoyed listening to her frustrations and thinking about how far she's come academically.

We even enjoyed our school time.  They complain about having to go to the library to do school 3 times a week but it makes for 3-4 hours of uninterrupted study time and no in and out of the kitchen for snacks.

We had a snow day this week and schools were closed yet again.  We still had a school day but the snow day creativity showed up anyway.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What got done?

Do you ever feel like you do so much but don't know what actually gets done?  At one time I was so proud of myself for getting all the girls' lesson plan sheets done, I read the books they were reading so we could have meaningful conversation, and gave immediate feedback on graded papers and tests.  Now my kids are asking me, "mom did you read the paper yet?"  Really?  How do I get so behind.

I stopped putting dates at the top of the lesson plan sheets so I wouldn't feel so guilty about being behind.  I jokingly said "I get the prize for worst homeschool mom of the year this year."  Pumpkin says I say that every year.  Perhaps I should be a little easier on myself.

On a good note I've decided to have everyone go to the library 3 times a week so that I can clearly see that everyone worked consistently for 3-4 hours a day.  The library opens at 10 so there is no reason we can't all get dressed and fed by then.  We did good this week and I can check the box on that lesson plan sheet that something got done.

Now if I can keep this up through June that would really be an accomplishment.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Those important car conversations

Yesterday I ran errands with my 16 year old.  She started telling me about a movie she watched the night before.  It was a movie I've seen before about a group of married couples who go on a retreat together.  I heard her laughing hysterically from another room in the house so I asked her about which parts she felt was funny.  It led to an interesting conversation about expectations in marriage.  She jokingly shared with me how she would hypothetically handle some of the scenarios the characters in the movie dealt with.  She reminds me so much of myself as I listened to what she thinks she would do.   We laughed about it but it was a great opportunity to talk about how to avoid those situations by properly preparing for marriage before a potential partner ever enters your life. 

I am starting to feel the time getting away from us.  We really only have one good year with her before we let her go to explore life on her own away from the protection of her family.

A few years back my husband & I attended a marriage weekend, Weekend to Remember by Family Life Ministries.  During that weekend they gave us a free audiobook entitled "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date."  Coincidentally I ran across that audiobook yesterday.  Coincidental? I think not.  The audiobook is really for dads but I listened to it today.  I believe it is good material to discuss with my husband as we prepare to launch a daughter who I'm sure will encounter many situations where a guy may ask her out. It is also an opportunity to get a head start on my other two daughters who are behind her.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snowed In

Monday was a holiday so the public school was closed.  My kids got no such break.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday school was canceled because of snow.

It's been hard to have a "normal" school day with all the kids home.  We've managed to get Algebra done, a vocabulary test done, and almost at the end of our science module. I'm also breathing a sigh of relief for getting out Princess' application for a pre-college program she wants to attend this summer. 
Here is a round-up of our week:
  • Princess & I finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird.  Who knew this was such a good book?  Read in 2 days!
  • She is working her way through Notgrass' America the Beautiful. 
  • Princess is a few days away from finishing her Algebra 2 class in public school.  I'm so proud of her finishing up with a B average.  She will have to finish Chemistry at home using Bridget Ardoin's curriculum.  
  • NuNu is working her way through the Childrens' Homer and making steady progress in Horizons 6.  I've decided to eliminate many of the lessons as a lot of the material is repetitive.  In this way, she will be ready for Algebra I in the fall.
  • Pumpkin is steadily working through her MFW AHL curriculum and making strides in Videotext Algebra.  I love this curriculum.  
 I wish we could work more extra curricular activities into our routine.  We are managing to attend the bi-weekly events of the Kingdom Queens (KQ) group but we missed the last event.  The next event is a bowling outing.  Just not sure how to do pick up duty from school & preschool on the KQ event days.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The thing with foreign language . . .

No matter what you do or what curriculum you use you have to be immersed in the language to truly get a grip on using it.  This is what I believe.

I took Spanish all 4 years of high school and one semester in college.  I had planned to minor in Spanish but didn't see the point because I knew I wasn't going abroad.  So I dropped it.  I wish someone had encouraged me to go abroad to learn the language.  Little did I know that I would marry into a family from a Central American country.  My in-laws' first language is Spanish so my kids have a real interest in learning it.

I purchased Rosetta Stone our first year homeschooling.  Princess completed (well nearly completed) the entire first level.  She knows a few words but that is it.  We participated in two foreign language programs with the TOS Crew with marginal success.  I liked this one the most.

Now our church is doing a 12 week Spanish class centered around Christian witnessing to those in the Spanish community.  What the heck, it's free so we are participating.  Yesterday was our first class and just like every other Spanish language program it starts with the greetings - Buenos Dias, Buenas Tardes, Buenas Noches, etc.  I think we got that part down!  One great thing about the class is the teacher made everyone introduce themselves in Spanish giving everyone an opportunity to practice some of what she went over in class.  Conversational practice, that's exactly what we need.

Did I mention that I also purchased a year subscription to BJU's Spanish program?  So here we go again attempting to earn Spanish I credit for my two high schoolers.  By the end of the year we should be ready to move on to BJU Spanish 2.

My prayer is that we will all be able to visit my husband's country of birth, Panama, and put these Spanish language skills to use.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


One week into the new year and it's been non stop over here.  The holidays took us up and down the highways visiting family.  I finally got an opportunity to see my nephew play on his varsity basketball team in his senior year of high school.  That was so much fun.   It reminded me of my own high school days cheering from the stands.  My nephew had his own fan section full of family members.

This past weekend my girls attended their cousins' Sweet 16 birthday party.  Wow did they have a good time.  It took me 3 hours to get them to their destination then a day later back again to pick them up.  The things a homeschool mom has to do to make sure her homeschool kids are "socialized!"  I thought it was worth the sacrifice as they don't get out and have this much fun that often.
 Now it's time to buckle down and full speed ahead to finish the school year.


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