Monday, June 30, 2008


Homeschool Curriculum Addicts Anonymous. Yes, it's time, time for my annual This is the Curriculum I'm Using Next Year post. And, as fair warning for you non-homeschoolers, I won't be offended if you don't read on as your eyes will likely glaze over before you even make it through my Language Arts choices.

I have to admit, I'm very fickle with homeschool curriculum; it's a problem I'm trying to grow out of, although I have a feeling it's not a phase, but rather, an addiction to curriculum and the necessity to try it all. At any rate, back in April I purchased Tapestry of Grace, which I considered at the time to be the end-all, be-all in classical curriculum. I also made a small promise to my better half that, if I made my purchase so early in the year, I would NOT change my mind. But then I received my Story of the World Vol. 1 back from a friend who had borrowed it for the year. I had forgotten how wonderful Story of the World is! And it's fairly cheap. Why did I spend all that money on TOG when I already have SOW? So I sold my TOG and am back to the Middle Ages with SOW. Looks like fun. Since it's been a year since we did SOW and Ancient Times, we are rushing through it this summer as review. So SOW is the spine of my next school year since we Classicals start with History and branch out from there. I am, however, "stealing" the recommended reading lists from TOG--great literature!

For Phonics with the boys, I'm sticking with good ol' reliable A Beka. It tends to be tedious for them, though, so I'll put my own twist to it. And for reading for them, it'll be Frank Schaffer books and whatever else I can get my hands on that is of interest to them. I want to focus a lot more this year on writing. Alex has been working through a McGraw-Hill book called "Building Writing Skills", and I really like it. I tweak it as well, and it works out great. We'll do a lot more literature this year and literature that ties in with the Middle Ages...beginning with "Beowulf" (Kingfisher Epics has a great kids' version). We'll end the year with Shakespeare.

As for spelling, I decided to give Spelling Power a whirl this year. I've started it with Alex and am not completely sold on it; however, I have made a commitment to at least give it more than a week! In addition, to Spelling Power, Alex and I will go through English from the Roots Up. I had considered teaching her Latin but then quickly reconsidered. Like I'll stick to teaching her Latin! I know my weaknesses and limits!

One of my weaknesses and limits has always been math. In fact, now that we're up to 3rd grade math, I almost bought the Teacher's Manual this year for our ABeka Math, but after reviewing the curriculum, I think I still have a handle on the world of mathematics at this level; I'll probably have to go for the TM next year, however. I have found ABeka to be the most straightforward and interesting curriculum for math, and the kids seem to enjoy it. I try not to let my, um, unappreciation for the subject of math show through in any way through my teaching, so hopefully they will all be much stronger in it than I ever was.

Because I'm going to be doing so much planning this year, I decided to go with a standard textbook for Science. We're doing "Exploring God's World" from ABeka. I'll supplement, though, with lapbooks from Hands of a Child. In addition, we're going to do the ABeka Health program.

Geography will be in conjunction with History, although I'll be doing some one-on-one work on map skills using a Frank Schaffer book. I also intend to continue our trip around the world using the CMA Kids' Site. I love to do country units where the kids get to stamp their passport, place a new country on the map, do crafts, cooking, whatever has to do with that country.

And speaking of countries, I've agonized over whether we should do Spain or France for language. I know, at least in this country, Spanish will be much more useful for the kids, but quite honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Spanish (no offense). ¿I mean, what kind of language puts upside down punctuation at the beginning of a sentence anyway? So...I finally decided on French. One of the main reasons for my decision, is that I plan to talk my better half into making a concerted effort to converse with me in French at know, to accomplish the whole immersion thing. Anyway, I found a GREAT curriculum (which, incidentally, also comes in Spanish should I change my mind). Easy French is based on the educational philosophies of both Charlotte Mason and Benjamin Bloom, two of my educational heroes, so what more could I ask for? Well, there is more: The creators of Easy French are very mission-minded, so the kids will memorize Scripture in French, and the company also has a rebate program where, if you send your used curriculum to Wycliffe for use with its missionaries, you receive a credit on your next purchase. So I admire their ideals, I love the samples I've viewed of the curriculum, and I impatiently await the arrival of my order!

So, aside from artist and composer studies which I'll put together myself, that's going to be our year next year here at the School of the Gifted and Quirky. Should be a fun ride. In the meantime, I made a promise to my better half last year that I would NOT attend the Homeschool Expo this year (are we sensing a trend here of hasty promises?). However, a dear friend of mine has decided to homeschool. She certainly needs a friend to attend the conference with her for the first time, doesn't she? So I've already forewarned my husband that this may be one a second promise I have to break. I'm quite sure I won't be armed with any type of budget or allowance. It will be a test of self-control. I think at HCAA, step #10 is: Go to a homeschool conference and do not spend any money. I'm not sure I've made it through the first 9 steps, so I am sadly unprepared. I may fall off the wagon, or the shopping cart as it were.

Monday, June 23, 2008


You can always tell when I've been working on my curriculum because I use up all of my writing energies on it with little to spare for our Treasured Chapters. I'm too lazy to even come up with a title for this post. And there is much to catch up on; however, today I only want to talk about the fact that I just sent my baby to camp (sniff, sniff). I have no idea how my parents sent me to missionary boarding school for 3 months at a time. This is just 5 days! And I know she's having a great time. She is in a cabin with at least two of her best friends, and by now she's no doubt best friends with the other 9 girls with whom she's bunking.

As for us...we're getting a little boy time (with a little dash of Princess mixed in). The boys' friend Jack is spending the night since his sister is at camp as well. They swam, played in the sandbox, had a picnic dinner outside, ate lots of ice cream and brownies topped with M&Ms, and are staying up well past their bedtime. Hopefully my baby girl is feeling equally as spoiled!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

OK, so I'm not a contender...

Yep. Definitely not getting the Mom of the Year Award after today. And I can't say I'm particularly proud of what I did. However, I did very much enjoy my relaxing hour all to myself. We had school today--we're making up for the couple of weeks I took off when I was preparing the house to sit on the market, generating absolutely no interest. We concluded our day by beginning a unit on healthy eating and the food pyramid. I explained each part of the pyramid to them, ending with the straight facts on good fats and bad fats and, of course, sugar. Following this, our discussion turned to exercise and the importance of daily activity like swimming and riding our bikes.

After school was over, I had a brilliant idea. Despite the sermon I had just delivered about junk food and exercise, I promptly bribed rewarded them with popcorn, candy, and a movie. What's worse, when they were all comfortably settled, popcorn in one hand and candy in the other, eyes glued to the screen, I carried out the rest of my master plan: I snuck out to the pool ALL BY MYSELF! And, oh, it was glorious! Lying there on my raft on the quiet water, disturbed only by the gentle ripples produced by the jets; the sound of the peaceful breeze interrupted only by the melodious songs of a multitude of birds, tunes I have never noticed over the squealing, shouting, and bickering of 4 children.

I knew it couldn't last for long, but I savored every moment of it and was lost in the rays of the sunlight. Just as I was drifting off, a loud rapping noise awakened me from my reverie. The knocking came from the window in the upstairs media room, a room which, unfortunately for me, overlooks the pool. I had been discovered. And it wasn't but a few moments until the movie was forgotten and 4 children were piling on top of me in the pool, turning my placid calm into delightful chaos.

So since I'm not vying for any super mom awards, the evil mama in me had to pause to pose this one question: Is this what it would be like if all the children were in school? I mean, I know they would be on vacation right now, but would my Mays and Augusts consist of hours of lazing around the pool ALL BY MYSELF. Not having to bribe reward. Not having to hide. Just me? Hmmm....On this I shall have to ponder!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Follow-Up Letter

Dear Toothfairy Boss,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve as your interim Toothfairy while you search for my replacement. Last night I completed Jacob Project II. While I nearly missed the deadline, I did complete the workorder just in time, and it turned out to be a successful project. Because of my success, I wonder if you might consider re-hiring me. I do so enjoy working with my clients!

I believe my previous work habits, which included great attention to detail, are returning, and I am more up for the job now. In fact, because of my attention to detail, I would like to point out a concern I have regarding all of my latest projects. Perhaps it is not my place to say, but I have some concern about our company finances as there have been so many back-to-back projects lately. In addition, just to give you a heads-up, there is a pending project for Michael. I estimate completion on this next Michael Project will be required some time this week.

I would be honored if you would allow me to take on the next Michael Project when it comes up for completion. I promise I will do a good job on it, and then perhaps we could consider my letter of resignation null and void.


Interim Toothfairy

P.S. - In reviewing Jacob's workorder, I came across this photo. Don't I have the most adorable clients?