Peek into Our Week: October 26-30

Grace is reading Little Women while Penny keeps watch.

Our routine is smooth
Our flow is back
Now all I ask
Is we stay on track

Sometimes a little poetry is cathartic. This week was good. There were bumps…there always are…and we press on. If anything I’m the one feeling a little off these days. Maybe it’s the state of our country and world…maybe it’s the political angst…maybe it’s the fact that I’m realizing how soon my nest will be empty. The last decade brought us into this homeschooling adventure. This next decade will bring a totally different season. I’m honestly not comfortable with this idea yet, but I have time and try not to dwell too much in these things.

Many of our activities have (safely) started back. I hate having to add that commentary. I feel we will be heavily chastised if I do not. I find myself adding phrases like …while socially distanced… and …while wearing masks… to almost everything these days just so there are no rushed assumptions. But I digress…

Many of our activities have started back and this has been a huge boost to smoothing out any of the routine bumps that were still there. The girls have missed face-to-face interactions and to have even a few return is a solid win. Here are updates on each of the gals.

Beth studying Awana.

At 13 Beth has become a most studious young lady. Her favorite place to work is often in our bedroom sprawled across our bed. Many times I will enter the room to put something away to find her with work all around and listening to a musical soundtrack. These days she’s enjoying Esther from Sight and Sound Theaters or The Sound of Music.

She is zipping through Algebra 1. We are using No Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. It is excellent, no frills, and a great fit for her. She also studied pre-algebra from the same company.

For literature she is using the 8th grade curriculum I wrote for Schoolhouse {aff. link} a couple of years ago. It is good for me to see this in action and I’m so pleased with the outcome for her. She’s covering a variety of genre this year and seems to be enjoying the pacing. To round out this subject she’s working on Caught Ya! grammar, All About Spelling, and Writing Strands.

History with Heart of Dakota is the best preparation for independent learning I have ever encountered. I love the notebooking, research, living history, map studies, and more. Although I have deviated from a few things from the curricula as the girls got older to fit their personal needs better, I cannot say enough good things about this company!

Finally is science. Beth is continuing to take a science class with our local homeschool learning center. While it is online this year, it’s still such solid content. She’s had the biggest adjustment here this year as she’s moved up into junior division and the workload is significantly more. Learning to balance her time in this has been challenging, but so very rewarding!

Grace studying math with lots of books as her cushions!

Grace is showing much maturity this year. She’s 11 and working on studies much deeper than many her age. With this year came an increase in work-load which was a lot for her to handle. I was tempted to back off a little bit in the first few weeks, but I’m glad I didn’t for her sake. I knew it wasn’t too much, but for her it was the greater amount of time. I just chose to sit with her while she worked and encourage her to stay focused. Now she is zipping away through most of it, has learned to budge her time, as well as the benefits of working ahead if she has extra time.

She is working through Math Mammoth and will be fully prepared for pre-algebra at the end of the material. She understands the concepts and is learning to slow down a bit and pay attention to what word problems are asking. She is also enjoying Life of Fred as a supplement 2 days a week. That is what she is working on in the picture above. Many families use this as their core. I like a more traditional approach and use it as a supplement, giving my girls a different way to look at mathematics.

In elementary school I have my girls read quality literature without a lot of extra instruction. Right now she is reading Little Women as an abridged classic. I also really advocate introducing kids to abridged classic stories all through elementary school so they are excited about the story when they approach it later on in schooling in it’s full rendition. I have an entire shelf dedicated to abridged classics and they titles from Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, Melville, and more. This has proven to be an excellent approach for the older girls so I’m continuing it with Grace. She rounding out this subject with Rod and Staff Grammar (We LOVE the simplicity and traditional structure!), All About Spelling, and Writing Strands.

Heart of Dakota’s Creation to Christ has been the most challenging for Grace as it’s workload intensifies from previous guides. She’s also using notebooking, learning research and map skills, and studying harder things. Just like her older sisters the adjustment and challenge is worth it! I’ve not been great at doing the art studies with my kids through this guide, so starting next week we will all 4 be working on the water color tutorials. I am hoping this is a good way to pass the cold winter days coming, knowing we may be facing more activities closing down again.

Just like Beth, Grace is studying science at our local learning center. Her teacher raises the bar in quality remote learning. She has such an excitement about learning and it’s a beautiful thing to watch!

Rose learning The Grinch for recital.

Rose loves music. She (as her sisters) have studied piano since they were 3 or 4…it makes it easy when you live with your piano teacher! I have 19 other students, but these three are my favorite. She is also self-taught on the ukulele and is working to learn how to play the mandolin. Beth is learning to play the glockenspiel (mallet bells) and Grace has dabbled in hand drumming and guitar. It’s fun to see them really embrace learning music.

This year has been a very different learning structure for Rose. Just like everyone else she’s our oldest experimental child so I wasn’t certain how our plan would work out, but so far it’s going very nicely! At the beginning of the year we sat down and talked about her goals and what classes she would need to meet those goals, namely begin dual enrollment next year.

For literature she is using another curriculum, American Literature, I wrote for Schoolhouse {aff. link}. Again, seeing this in action in our home has left me feeling very good about the job I did in creating it. The structure is to study American lit through the lens of history. I spent intensive amounts of time studying American history alongside American literature to see how one impacted the other. I’m very pleased so far with how much she is grasping. Rose is using Jenson’s Grammar, All About Spelling, and Writing Strands.

Math…oh math. Math has been the most intense for Rose all through schooling. This year she asked to study both Geometry and Algebra 2. We were given Algebra 2 from Teaching Textbooks as a hand-me-down (What a blessing, right?!?!) and we are using Geometry from Schoolhouse {aff. link}.

Chemistry has been a raging success with Mater Books. I’m so very pleased with the strong material without being overwhelmingly complicated. There is a significant emphasis on observational science rather than theoretical and a grounding in how these observations continually point us back to the Creator. Rose is also studying World Religions from Master Books with which we have also been very pleased.

More Schoolhouse {aff. link} courses are rounding out the year with Economics and Government. Rose is reading excellent material by Thomas Sowell. I had never heard of this man before, but I’m impressed over and over again with his common sense approach to economics.

Final Thoughts on the Week…

As we begin the approach the holidays I am grateful for our little family and extended family and friends. This year has not been what anyone wanted, but the Lord is good and faithful. I encourage you to not dwell too very long on the losses, but instead focus on the blessings and ways we can thank the Lord, even if the year has brought pain.

(A few) Weeks in Review: September

If you have been following my blog for a while I hope you notice a difference! I have been displeased with my old blog platform for a while now. I took a break from posting until I was able to get things set up on this new site.

In the meantime we have finally settled into a good routine. It took until about our 5th week to get there. We usually don’t have quite such a long settling in period, but isn’t everything about this year abnormal? Lots of hugs, encouragement, and perseverance have gotten us to our week of break. We run our schooling on a 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule. This week was very relaxed and low key. I have found that when we do this, we tend to have a better flow to your year and less tendencies to burn out.

Rose takes loves working in her bed. Usually our dog, Penny, joins her!

Rose: 10th Grade -15 years old
Rose has really taken this year seriously as we are preparing for some form of dual enrollment for her last 2 years of high school. She choose to take two maths this year, Algebra 2 and Geometry. Math is not her favorite subject, so I have been so pleased to see her persevering through both diligently. Chemistry from Master Books has been a beautiful course as well. In addition she is taking apologetics, French, American Literature (a course I wrote for Schoolhouse Teachers), and Civics (economics and government).

Beth having a little sweet treat while working on literature.

Beth: 8th Grade – 13 years old
Beth is now taking a middle school science course which comes with quite a bit more work! She took some time adjusting to the workload and how to manage her time, but is now really in a good place. She is working through Revival to Revolution from Heart of Dakota. We love this curriculum so much. It is deeply rich in historical accuracy as well as encouraging kids to research and learn for themselves. She is over half way through Algebra since we started in the summer. Academically she is moving along at a steady, rather fast pace and I’m pleased to see her push herself even when her work is beginning to get more difficult.

We love All About Spelling!

Grace: 5th Grade – 11 years old (Almost!)
Most of Grace’s work is a year ahead grade-level or more. This year her work-load really increased as she moved into Creation to Christ from Heart of Dakota. It took more time for her to adjust to the added time as well as the notebooking aspect, but now she is completely on top of things and ready to go! She is also taking a science class this year and having such a fun time. She’s also found she really enjoys painting, especially with acrylics. She has painted some beautiful art for gifts for family and friends.

We had a great time at the beach at the end of August! It was our first real “outing” since everything shut down in March.

Everyone Together
We are still working on foreign language together although I’ve been awful at consistency. It’s key to anything new and I keep pushing forward even if slowly! We use Talkbox.Mom and HIGHLY recommend this program. You can read my full review of that program here. We are also dabbling in Shakespeare and I’m looking for some field trip opportunities now that there are a few things opening up in our area. The beach was the first real field trip we’ve taken in ages.

In my free time I’ve been working on preserving some more family memories! Click here to see my most recent digital scrapbook layouts.

Now that have the new site up and running hopefully you will see more postings! I’ve struggled to get the old platform to function well and this transition was a long time coming. Comment below and tell me something fun you’ve done this past month!

Week in Review: August 10-14

Well we started back school this week! It went really well and we accomplished so much that I forgot to take any pictures until after we were done on Friday! 

Monday was a bit slow as Grace has moved up into the Hearts for Him Through Time series from Heart of Dakota and Rose is working though a very different set of courses this year as she prepares for dual enrollment next year, Lord willing. 

 Here is a run down of most of our week. This week we will add spelling, grammar, and writing as last week I needed the extra time to help the girls adjust to a few new things.
*Confession: everything is posed because I really just forgot all about pictures!*

Rose is doing a combination of courses from Master Books and Schoolhouse Teachers to fill in a few gaps for classes before we move into a dual enrollment setting. So far she is really enjoying them! 

Beth is completing Revival to Revolution this year with Heart of Dakota. She was in the groove this week and finished first every day. She’s one to get up early, even before me sometimes, and start on school right away so I’m not surprised. Her routine is also pretty much the same regarding school so no real learning curve for her. 

Grace is having the bigger learning curve of my three this year. Heart of Dakota is amazing and I particularly love the Hearts for Him Through Time series that she is just venturing into. She is totally soaring, but understanding all of the independent work is just taking some time.

We’ve schooled with Heart of Dakota from the beginning of our journey and I could not be more pleased. I know the Lord led us to this curriculum because I really didn’t search around a lot. At the time we began with Rose, she was about 2 and a half. I just wanted something structured to tell me how to help her learn through play. Beth was just an infant, we had made a move, and I felt like I wasn’t giving my little girl who soaked up learning everything that was best for her. I stumbled upon Heart of Dakota in a catalog as they sold through 3rd party companies back then. I read the description and immediately knew this was it! I even had several of the books that were recommended already. Now here we are, 13 years later and it is beautiful!

I would love to hear how your week went! 

Several weeks in review…

Life has been moving forward in a bit of a blur. We having been continuing school with Heart of Dakota and two of my girls finished up their guides at the end of the year. That hasn’t happened in ages! The third has a few more units to go and then all three will begin afresh for the next year. 

In between all of that we have been occupying our time with outdoor play, teaching virtual piano lessons, a social distanced virtual piano recital, French, time with grandparents, online church recording, and more, although I can’t remember much about what that more is right now. We watched the countdown to the space launch…twice. 

We are enjoying the beauty of the nature around us. We normally do, but even more so now…. 

bluebirds nesting…

a full moon…

 daisies blooming in all their glory…

I’m also tending my herb garden, harvesting, drying, and sharing some amazingly gorgeous herbs! 

As we enter into a much different summer than usual I’m reading more. I’m currently re-reading the Hangenheim series from Melanie Dickerson. These are some of my favorite stories. I’m also sketching some. 

I’m spending a fair amount of time working on editing family photos again. It’s a long project, but something I’m passionate about.  
The girls have discovered a new way to play board games online with their cousins and friends. We also have 3 new games we are enjoying as a family: Patchwork Doodle, Lowdown Dice, and MadGab. We continue to play some of our favorites like 7 Wonders, Azul, and Lowdown (original cards). 

I’m also sharing my love for old movies with the girls. We are watching classics that I can find on our Roku. Some are on Amazon Prime and others on TCM. Some have been excellent, other flops. We also have several DVDs and currently are loving the Abbott and Costello films. 

Things we are missing: 
This one is really tough
Hugs at church

In-person piano lessons
Virtual is a great blessing but I miss my students

Summer mornings at the pool
I really took this for granted in the past!

Trip to an amusment park
 The girls saved their own money for tickets

Having friends over
Our city hasn’t yet lifted the SAH orders

Grace is really the only one who misses this! 

Things are not so bad for us and I remind myself and my girls of this consistently. It doesn’t mean we can’t miss those blessings we are used to. It doesn’t mean we can’t lament the losses. We should however, keep things in perspective as we know others are sick and grieving in addition to the turmoil in our nation. 

Like many others I’ve been spending time in prayer for our country. I’m praying for spiritual, emotional, and physical healing. I’m praying all the events that seem to be overwhelming us in 2020 will lead to a new openness to the gospel and therefore revival. I’m praying to understand and hear truth in the midst of the noise of a constant news cycle which thrives off drama, intrigue, and demise. 

I’m also avoiding social media. I have some responsibilities on social media for groups I monitor for homeschooling and scrapbooking so I am not completely off. However, I am rather quiet and definitely not spending as much time as usual in those spaces. It’s refreshing to say the least. 

I’ve encouraged our girls to journal these last few months. I’m documenting our life through photographs and will include it in our family scrapbook. Life is weird. We rarely know for certain what day it is. 
Yet…this too shall pass.

What are you doing with the time?
For me, staying busy helps my mind to focus on the good. 

Week in Review: March 23-27

Like much of the rest of the country our spring break turned out to be in quarantine. We do not mind at all as we recognize how serious the situation already is and knowing we can do something to help. Still, it’s hard. Thankfully we already had plans for a new back-yard project and my husband went out to get the supplies before the quarantine order was announced. So we took our spring break last week and my husband and the girls started building an obstacle course! 

This is just the beginning. There will be 2 more sections that crate an L shape. I have some other ideas we may add in the future, but this is a great move for us. We had a sweet little swing set that was here when we moved in 12 years ago. Unfortunately the wood was rotting and they were mostly too big for it anyway. We bought disc swings that they can use to swing on if they want. 

Life in Review

Well, we are still around! Now that the world has slowed down I have time to get back to an update. As the girls are getting older we have more and more activities going on, which is a wonderful thing. We intentionally stayed away from too much busy when they were little. I’m so glad we did that. They love the activities they are involved in and passionately pursue them. 

These include: 
Science Classes
Cross Country
Clogging (Traditional Appalachian Dance)
Hand Drumming
And more! All three aren’t involved in everything on that list, but they do have a nice balance of activities each. 
Basketball season ended just as Clogging was getting started, but now everything is on a break. 
As our schedule has been abruptly disrupted I decided to do some things differently. Even though we homeschool, our routine has been altered dramatically just like everyone else. So we are doing “together” learning instead of individual studies like we usually do. We aren’t doing all of this every day, but we are still getting our schooling in! 
(None of these are affiliate postings! Just the resources I use!)
1. History
Using American Girl movies as a jumping off point to study ares of American history. Not using any particular curriculum, just books I already have on my shelf!

Studying individual states

3. French – TalkBox!!!!

Seriously, if you’ve not looked into this program, do it now! They have a free activity you can do RIGHT NOW to try out their amazing immersion system! Below is a coupon you can use for your first purchase!

We are continuing on with our regular individual math studies and also challenging our minds with lego builds! We have enjoyed watching Lego Masters and this is an awesome in-home friendly version!

5. Fitness – Family Time Fitness

We haven’t used this excellent program in a really long time. We did when the girls were younger, but it’s been a while for sure! I’m excited to get back to this program again.

6. Bible – Virtue Training Bible
Again, this was an excellent resource I used a lot (along with the Child Training Bible) when the girls were younger, but as they got older it wasn’t as much a part of our daily routines. It’s exciting to get back to this at the moment. It is good to refocus on the Lord in the midst of unrest all around us.

We are using Usborne’s Complete Shakespeare book read aloud. The girls are also coloring the wonderful Shakespeare notebooking pages from Heart of Dakota!

I would love to hear what you are doing with your days at the moment! Are you keeping the routine the same? Changing things up? Comment below! 

Week in Review: November 11-15

Last week was the first time in a long time my husband went away without us. I’m so glad he had the opportunity because he, his brother, and our nephews helped his parents build a much-needed shed. So this is what he did all week…

Meanwhile our girls week consisted of: School, clogging, basketball, more clogging, and more basketball! It was a good week, but I sure did miss my man. He’s a huge help around here with everything. Our schooling focused mostly on Heart of Dakota history and French. 

I didn’t get many pictures, but here are a few things that happened…

Enchiladas with red sauce and white sauce (queso cheese) are one of our favorites these days! 

The girls worked together to create a Cutie Car Hotel for Grace! Their creativity is always a fun process to watch! My favorite part is the little gas pump on the bottom left corner. 

The girls danced at an assisted living center this time and had great fun! Dancing for these communities are some of our favorite events. 

Daddy is home now and things are a little more settled and back to normal. We of course survived his absence, but I’m glad it isn’t a normal occurrence! 

Week in Review: November 4-8

Basketball season is in full swing and we are working hard at school and around the house too! 

In other news we spent this week decorating for Christmas and swapping out the summer clothes for winter. My husband will be away next week and the following week will have a minor procedure on his knee so I insisted we get these things done while he could still help! Notice Grace’s gingerbread shirt. It has been passed through all three girls now and is one of our favorites! We love a good pun around here. 

I also have a new French Toast cook in the house! She offered to make both regular and gluten free and oh did we enjoy it ever so much! 

Rose’s first home game was this Tuesday. We didn’t get the outcome we would have liked, but I do love watching my girl play! 
She’s number 4 with the ball in this shot. It’s a young team for varsity but they hold their own are already improving. 

Things are gearing up to be pretty bust and we are all adjusting to the new schedule. It will probably take a few weeks, but I’m so grateful for the many opportunities my kids have in the community as homeschoolers. I know not everyone has these and we are truly blessed! 

Week in Review: August 26-30

We finished this week well! School is becoming routine again as are a few other habits like a daily and nightly pick up of our living areas. I’ve tried to make this more habitual so that our girls begin to build the habit for themselves. We have continued to work through literature, grammar, spelling, and mathematics. This week we also added in French again. 

We are squeezing in a few more summertime memories. We are all happy to see fall and routine return. In fact, these are some of my favorite days of summer. They are a bit calmer and as we savor them, I think more greatly appreciated. They are also slightly cooler and so we get what we can out of them.  

Our sweet Penny has had to get used to our new routine as well! She’s happy the girls are available to cuddle during school hours, but is still trying to get comfortable with my piano students arriving each day! 

Week in Review: August 19-23

 We had a really eventful week! Beth ran in her first cross country meet. She came in 7th! I’ve been surprised at just how much she loves running. I’m not a runner. My husband is and has loved coaching her and her teammates this season. 

All three of the girls had the chance to dance at Shindig on the Green as well! This is a wonderful mountain folk festival our clogging team has participated in for many years. This is our second year participating (3rd year clogging) and we already can’t wait until next year! One of the best parts was that my husband’s sisters and her family as well as other good friends of ours were able to attend. 

In between these two events we have been working on literature, writing, grammar, spelling, and mathematics. I’m in the midst of starting back up piano lessons and getting ready for my English class beginning in early September as well as finishing up some writing projects due at the end of the month. I have found one of my favorite things to do in the midst of the busyness is to sit outside on our porch. We live in the suburbs and I long for sounds of nature, a reminder of God’s presence in the midst of the hubub. Little reminders like the beauty of a humming bird in flight just as she prepares for a sip of nectar. This day I perched myself in the yard and a bit closer to the feeder. I snapped several pictures, but this one is my favorite.