Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year, New Location, New Beginnings


I can not believe that it is 2018, already.  It will take me months to remember to write the date correctly, but I am already enjoying the hope that comes along with a new year.

Since my last post, we moved to the opposite side of the country, had to pause our homeschool for months during the move, and began a new life on the East Coast. 


Phew... Whining over.  It really has been a rough transition, though.  The children and I still struggle daily with missing our friends and family back in Washington and trying to be positive about things here.  I am hoping that putting experience to "paper" will help me to see just how blessed we are no matter where we live.

We are still in our first semester of school for the 2017-2018 school year.  Combining several weeks and skipping non-essential classes will help us catch up, but for now, we are wading through some remedial skill work.  I purchased several amazing Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) products, and plan to build some strength in areas all four of the children are weak in.  We are continuing our regular schoolwork as well.  I plan to post our curriculum choices, daily schedule, and some other basic posts soon.  

I hope your 2018 started well and that you join me in our journey this year.  Time is flying by, and these years are so precious. I don't want to miss a moment.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Souls to love

The pastors in our church take us through books of the Bible verse by verse, so that we are able to make deeper connections with God's Word than we would with topical studies... At least, that's my take on (and probably a super simplified verson of) why they discuss every verse in Romans rather than doing a one week sermon on how to not be an ineffectual Christian.  I appreciate the approach, because I prefer the continuity of it all.  Some books in the Bible read like a letter, and bounce all over the place with topics, and some follow a structured timeline.  Either way, I feel like I am able to understand more of the big picture ideas rather than just latching onto details, which is my tendency.  We have been working our way through Romans, which has been much more of a convicting experience this time than the last few times I have worked through it.  Maybe I am at a time in my life when I need a little more of a push (or smack upside the head), or perhaps, it is just that I am more receptive to correction.  Regardless, I have found that the Lord has been pointing me towards a healthier and more focused mindset.  This has affected many areas of my life, but this week I feel like everything has shifted.

Souls to love.

Romans 5 speaks of the astonishing love that the Lord has for us.  Verses 8-9 are as follows: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

You see, I take a lot of verses and apply them directly to my life.  I don't think that is a bad thing, necessarily, but it may have been keeping me from seeing how much things can apply to those around me as well.  Jesus died for all of us.  I struggle to wrap my mind around that often because I can't imagine dying for strangers or sending my child to do the same.  If everyone is included in that grace, how much more should I look at each and every person as if they are that valuable to God.  My pastor (thank you Pastor Kevin!)  said that we need to make sure we never look at anyone else like they are a lost cause, that we needed to see everyone (even frustrating, hurtful, awful people) as souls.  

I feel like I have been given a fresh start, an opportunity to live my life in a way that gives God more glory.  It's as if my eyes finally are able to see through the proper lens. A love lens.  Is that a thing?  Somehow, this new vision is connected to my mouth because rather than saying something snotty or snarky (or sometimes thinking those things), I am able to stop and see people as souls to love.  The woman being rude so loudly in the store is a soul to love.  I wondered if something had happened in her day to put her so on edge.  The driver that cut me off and drove like a maniac to get to the stoplight moments before me is a soul to love.  Maybe they were hurrying to a loved one, or were distracted by something big going on in their lives.  The child who pushes all my buttons at the same time is a soul to love.  Perhaps their reaction has something to do with the worry and stress they internalize, and they are just trying to exert control over something in their lives.  Rather than be rude and comment out loud, my mind focused on trying to figure out how to love those souls in those brief encounters.  I might not be the person who shares the gospel with them, but I will be the one who offers them grace and a smile in a moment of God-given love.  In my own home, I can be the one who shows unconditional love and extends grace.  I am sad that I haven't looked at so many people this way before, but I am unbelievably thankful for the opportunity I have to do it now.
I get to wake up each day, and love these souls, while showing them how to share love with others.  

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all the mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1Corinthians 13:13

Trust in Jesus, live purposefully, love every soul.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

What kind of homeschooler are you?

What kind of homeschooler are you?

Has this question ever been asked of you?

I have seen some moms almost freeze on the spot because they are eclectic homeschoolers, and have no idea how to classify their schooling.  I have also seen moms who are so confident in their answers, that they have almost persuaded me to consider switching their style!

Generally speaking, there are only a few answers people are looking for when they ask that.  It may be that they know nothing of homeschooling methods, and are asking if an online school, private umbrella school, or other public school alternative is being used.  They may wonder if you do online work, book work, or you unschool.  I think usually, other homeschooling mothers will wonder which method you generally identify with.  There are many methods including (but not limited to) Traditional, Classical, Charlote Mason, Montessouri, Waldorf, Thomas Jefferson, Unit Study, Unschooling, and Eclectic.  Each method works for different families, and I am so thankful we have the freedom to choose which is best.

This is normal for homeschoolers, right?

I consider our homeschool to be eclectic.  Actually, it is heavily Charlotte Mason based and deeply Waldorf inspired with a sprinkling of traditional on top.  What does that look like?  Books, nature, art, festivals, and rhythm.  We begin our days with a morning basket where we learn about artists and composers, read or work on logic lessons, read aloud books pertaining to our history lesson, spelling and vocabulary, history lesson, and daily science.  We then move on to Math, Language Arts, History projects, and either Science, Art, or Music.  I may teach in lesson blocks that are beautifully illustrated in lesson books with watercolor or beeswax crayon one month and use a workbook the next.  We may each work on different hands-on projects for one topic, and write our own reports (yes, even I participate in learning) for the next.  I have 4 children who learn in very different ways, and I really try to make sure we experience learning in ways that help them really experience learning.  That means we not only need to use a variety of curricula, but also a mixture of methods.  Being able to let go of the restraints of a singular method has allowed me to create homeschooling environment that we are beginning to thrive in.  I am learning how to make the curriculum work for us rather than having us work for the curriculum.

I can't wait to begin our upcoming year.  I feel like the last decade has led us to what could potentially be a year of incredible growth.  I hope you join me as I document our homeschool life.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Preparing for Change


Changing how I homeschooled this year made a huge difference for me.  That was a good change.  We all began to build better skills, while retaining a lot more information.  The children all significantly improved in areas they were struggling with.  I managed to get out of my funk and focus on better priorities as well.  We haven't finished this school year, but for the first time in a long time, we will finish strong.  I usually begin the year with gusto, but fizzle out half to two-thirds of the way through the year.  I am finishing this year with even more enthusiasm than I remember having at the beginning of the year.  I can not wait to see how everyone does on their end of the year tests.


Building a new home and moving in on Thanksgiving weekend was a really good experience for us.  We were able to watch each step of the building process, and understand more about construction.  We learned the financial process of home buying, and even a bit about taxes and municipal laws.  We have been so fortunate to be able to enjoy life in our big beautiful home.  I learned that hospitality can be practiced anywhere, though.  I don't need my own home to be able to have a productive ministry.


Our time in Washington has been incredible.  We found an amazing church filled with authentic Jesus followers who showered love on our whole family.  We have explored a lot of Western Washington and seen the most beautiful views in the USA (In my humble opinion, anyway).  I've been able to go out in the sun and enjoy life with my family, which isn't easy with an autoimmune disease that makes you sick every time you have sun exposure.We have been able to spend time with my Mother because she moved out here to live near us, and made many wonderful memories.  We even got to spend more time with some of my amazing in-laws because they live in Oregon.   The children and I have met and become friends with some of the most genuinely kind people I have ever known.


We are preparing to move to the other side of the country.  In the next 3 months we will put our house up for rent, finish our school year, visit our family in several states, say goodbye to the people and places we thought we would be spending the next decade with, and beginning life in Washington DC.  My husband applied for a job last year, not really thinking he would have the chance to get it.  We found out a couple of weeks ago that he got it and we will be headed East soon.  I still don't know where we will live, or what life will look like once we arrive, but I know it will be right before the beginning of our next school year.  In preparation, all of next year's curriculum has been ordered, and I am working on lesson plans and organization, now.  I want to be able to begin our school year with a strong start.  I have a lot of hope that next year will be even better than this year, and that our children will begin to love learning again.  The seeds planted this year will bear fruit in the next few years to come.

Change.  So many things have changed in our home, our school, and our family in the past 2 years.  This new move has given me the opportunity to look back on it all and realize how much I have to be grateful for. I can not wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in DC.


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Beginning of the Shift

Last week, I shared a bit about the transformation of our homeschool from a dysfunctional and miserable experience for all, to something a bit closer to joy.
To understand what has changed, I should probably explain a bit of what wasn't working in the first place. Here was the original plan for the year:

9th grade
Math: Teaching Textbooks
Science: Apologia Biology
English: Learning Literature through Language Arts (Gold, World Literature)
Spelling: Sequential Spelling
Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful
History/Art: Diana Waring's History Revealed (Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries)
Health: Schoolhouseteachers.com
Typing: Typing Tutor
Literature: Ambleside Online
Foreign Language: ASL on Schoolhouseteachers.com
Civics: schoolhouseteachers.com
Music: schoolhouse teachers.com

6th & 7th grades
Math: Teaching Textbooks
Science: Easy Peasy All-in-One (Astronomy and Anatomy), Nature Study
English: Daily Grammar from Schoolhouseteachers.com, Writer's Workshops from various resources, Winston Grammar
Spelling: Sequential Spelling
Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful
History/Art: Diana Waring's History Revealed (Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries)
Health: taken from Schoolhouseteachers.com
Typing: Typing Tutor
Literature: Ambleside Online
Foreign Language: ASL taken from Schoolhouseteachers.com
Music: schoolhouseteachers.com

It doesn't seem like there is anything wrong with this plan.  In fact, it was a pretty good plan.  The problem was the motivation and method I was trying to use to accomplish it.  I switched from our usual My Father's World boxed curriculum to more of a hodgepodge this year because we weren't enjoying history any more.  We began using some workbook style curricula for Language Arts for the first time in a long time, and I discovered that several of my children really thrive with more of a fill-in-the-blank type text.  I made an attempt to move beyond my Charlotte Mason/Waldorf inspired ideals, and really focus on what my children would prefer.  Guess what made the plan not work?

 I didn't want to homeschool.  
I haven't in years.   
I haven't enjoyed it, and I was tired of making my children frustrated and upset.  I felt like all I did was fail them.  I thought because they struggled, they were failing, too.

Isn't that the homeschool mother's dilemma? We want to make sure our children have so much more than we perceive they could have from the public sector, and then we want them to be completely perfect at it.  That isn't practical or even fair to expect. 

We had picked up some terrible habits that made learning a struggle, and all of our attitudes didn't make it better.  The children were struggling with writing and study habits, and instead of researching (which is my passion, so clearly there was laziness kicking my rear) different ways to help them in those areas, I gave up.  I have tried so many ways to present grammar and writing, and it often felt like nothing was sticking.  I went with the default pattern for struggle that I have had my whole life.  If you can't do it perfectly, or be the best, don't do it at all... quit.  I'm sure you know how helpful that is, right?  My poor children had a mother who was pushing them to check off the boxes, to go through the motions, or to just get by.  

One of the most amazing aspects of homeschooling is that you can slow things down until your student has mastery.  I don't know why I felt as if we needed to match everything the public school was doing.  That isn't what our purpose in homeschooling has ever been.  I had lost sight of everything important.

Relationships are important.... 
with God
with each other
with our closest friends and family
with our church
with out community

When we just do what we have to do to get by, we miss all of the relationships.  We end up with a very shallow experience, and miss the opportunities to truly invest in these relationships.  If the children would rather spend extra time in the afternoon working on a project together, I shouldn't stop them and make sure that something extra like handwriting is done perfectly.  What lesson would they learn from that?  We shouldn't rush away from volunteer work to get our weekend reading time in.  We could have a great discussion with whomever we are volunteering with or for that would serve as a great way to enhance vocabulary, timing, and imagination in ways books can not.  I was teaching them to miss out and to be a slave to the schedule, rather than to use it as a valuable tool.  I had to really make the shift in my mind, and discipline myself to just make  a note of what still needs to be done, and allow them those relational moments.  So far, this has paid of with less fighting, deeper conversations, and some joy-filled moments I can't imagine missing out on. 

Hard work is important

 I wasn't holding them to high standards and expecting them to succeed.  I wasn't holding myself to high standards either.  It wasn't like we were NOT doing school.  We just didn't do it well.  Their state testing scores were great, but the weekly grades weren't as awesome.  Learning by doing the bare minimum.  I suppose it is a common thing.  Not everyone is internally motivated to push like crazy to be the best.  Not everyone will work hard to just get a good grade, or to enjoy the process of learning.  Perhaps my children aren't as much like myself as I thought, and by not correcting the issue, I had reinforced the habit.  We had to cut out distractions.  I realized we are all addicted to screens.  It's device time before school, during lunch, and after school.  What alter were we worshiping at?  How does one learn without time, and quiet to do so?  Weekdays have become filled with meaningful conversations.  Creativity is thriving in this home, again.  There is definitely a few moments every day that each person, myself included, toes the line of pushing the rules, but new habits take time.  There is grace in this home.  We will get there.

Enjoying learning is important

Here's a big one for me.  I love learning.  I try to learn as many useful skills as I can from books and YouTube.  The process of researching and learning thrills me.  I don't think I have been very effectively instilling a passion for learning in my children.  They have been trained to check boxes and the habit of doing just enough to pass has been reinforced for so long, I don't know if they have any idea how fun it could be.  
Here is where we meet the first homeschooling mentors I have chosen to focus on this year.  I began my school year by reading Diana Waring's Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling.  It really made me stop and think about how to foster a love of learning in my home.    
When I was researching history programs, I watched video reviews, read reviews, and was thrilled by things I found on internet searches about Diana Waring's History Revealed program.  I could even give partial credit to her for getting the whole change started in our school this year, it is THAT good!  Her method is completely different than the usual mom read, kids narrate method we have been stuck in.  History is divided into sections.  Each section has four weeks of study.  In that time, the children read in their textbook, we listen to audio stories about unique things that have happened during that time (as well as what was going on in the church, and some great biographical stories), we have some great discussion days, and the children pick one area we studied and grab library books to read through.  The second week, they do a research project on a topic from week one that they want to know more about.  They have turned in written and typed reports, but also done oral presentations with amazing props, for this week.  They have learned to research together and work together on reports, or have been content to do it on their own.  Freedom.  They choose!  We learn vocabulary and work on time lines the second week as well.  The third week we I do fictional read-aloud stories from that time period.  We try to do one award winner, and one considered a classic.  We study art and architecture from the time period, and create a work of art based on what we learn.  We make something related to what we have studied as well.  For example, we will be making elderberry syrup this Thursday and learning about the history of homeopathic medicine from the early middle ages until modern times.  The fourth week is our creative week.  Each child picks a creative project to present everything they have learned.  We are only on our second month, so have only done this week once, but it was awesome.  Children can choose to make a presentation with charts and pictures, as I remember presentation day from my childhood, but they have a lot more options as well.  Last week, we had a puppet show telling of important battles, a full 3 course time period appropriate meal with an explanation of why the ingredients were chosen in the middle ages, and limerick poetry telling of the lives of several key figures.  They choose a creative project from the book, or they can create their own.  Freedom. They choose!  We get together to share a meal and enjoy the presentations as a family, and I can see this becoming my favorite new school tradition.  It is wonderful.  In this cycle every learning style is addressed.  Children who dislike art are given freedom to explore art in new ways, and given the opportunity to do things their own way, rather than to copy a model I have given them.  The learning is happening, the children are thriving because they get the choice in how they work it, study it, and present it.  The information is finally sticking, because they are more invested in what they are learning.  I'm so grateful we found History Revealed.  I'm going to read Beyond Survival again on my winter break, and see what resonates with our family as we move forward with the rest of our redemption year.

Making changes, big changes, isn't an easy process.  I have found that changing my thought processes, and perspective have really made this year better.  I can see that spark of excitement in my children again.  I have hope that we will truly thrive again.  

I'll discuss more changes we have made and how it has affected us in the next few blog posts.  

For now, I'm going to have some great coffee and wait for the sun to rise and a new school week to begin.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Reality Check

Can I be completely honest with you? 

  I may have to whisper it to you, because I feel like it isn't something I should admit, but

I have not enjoyed homeschooling in years.

  You know, it's almost a relief to be able to admit that on a semi-public platform.  I have felt so much anger and shame when it comes to my frustration with homeschooling, that I completely lost sight of the goals and ideas that initially drew us to it in the first place.  

Where was the girl who almost begged her husband to allow her to homeschool?  She was filling out public school enrollment forms and dreaming of yellow busses.

  I created this fantasy world in my head where the children would go to public school, where they wouldn't struggle with math, grammar, or writing.  They would make all kinds of friends and not be bullied.  Their teachers would be able to give them plenty of one-on-one instruction, and they would come home telling me how inspired they are by what they learned.  While some of that is likely to happen in the public school setting, it isn't completely realistic.  I had to realize that whether they were home or elsewhere for their schooling, they would struggle.  No matter where they were educated, they would have frustrations, lack focus from time to time, and have rough days.   The areas they were weak in may not change in a different setting.  Pulling a child out of school, or putting them back in isn't a magic solution.  There are never instant results when people are involved, and convincing myself that every option but what we were doing was the answer wasn't helping anyone.  The real problem with our homeschool lay with the person in charge of it.  Ouch!  

This is a trip we took to Mt. Saint Helens.  This is supposed to be the most amazing place to see the volcano.... if you go on a day where there isn't complete cloud cover at 2,000 feet.  We saw nothing, and most of it didn't go the way that we planned, but we had a lot of fun!  I thought this was a good picture to represent the last few years of homeschooling.  BUT... See those faces?  See the children laughing about how ridiculous it is to stand in front of a volcano no-one can see in the freezing rain?  That is hope, and the reason we will be okay.  They are the reason I can't give up.

  This year, I have been working on changing how I think.  This has affected my marriage, parenting, my spiritual life, friendships, and finally has started to trickle down into my homeschooling life.  I love research, and have spent at least 12 years researching homeschooling methods, curricula, and following some of the leaders of the homeschooling movement.  For the 2016-2017 school year, I decided to focus on learning from only a couple of homeschooling mentors, taking the time to find people who really seem to be heading in the same direction (only way more successfully), and learn from their experiences and wisdom.  I'm not saying one has to do what others do and say.  That's part of the amazing freedom in homeschooling.  I am just one of those people who need to see a method modeled before I can take whatever bits would be useful, and customize it to be my own.

  We have broken away from a lot of the methods we have used for the last 10 years, and have embraced a new plan.  In the past, I have embraced Charlotte Mason ideals, been inspired by the beauty and methodology of Waldorf education, and occasionally focused on classical elements.  I always tried to make all of that work while using a curriculum that didn't quite mesh with my children's learning styles or my teaching style.  We were all so frustrated by heading in a direction that none of us enjoyed.  I have no idea why I felt so compelled to continue pushing everyone to continue doing something that made us fairly miserable.  I wasn't fostering a love of learning, and my bad attitude was mirrored in their attitudes.  It was bad.   It wasn't necessary.  We needed to change everything.  6 weeks into our 11th year of homeschooling, I think I finally figured out what we have been missing all along.  I realized that all of the things that I consider curriculum, are just tools.  They have no power to bully me, or make me feel guilty for not sticking to the schedule.  There is no reason to feel like a failure if a hands-on project is ignored because it wouldn't really make an impact, requires too many items we don't have, or is more messy than I'm willing to deal with.  Here's the big one.. all of my children don't have to do the same activities to learn the same things!  What?  One of my children will do artwork, one will hand-write a report, one will create a model out of Legos, and the other will do an oral presentation, and all of them will cover the same subject thoroughly.  If I have brought them home so they can have an education that caters to their individual needs, why am I not treating them as individuals.  FREEDOM.  That is what I have found.  I'm getting to know my children better by the methods they are choosing to express themselves.  As I learned in my class with Julie Bogart (the amazing woman behind the Bravewriter lifestyle movement), I am working in a partnership with my children.  Yes, I am their teacher, but I am also their partner in this process.  They need to know that this is a safe place to make mistakes, and to figure things out, and I am the one to walk alongside encouraging them.  It is really a completely different way of thinking, and even though I am just starting to implement things, I have really seen positive results.  We might actually get through this year and all be better students.

  Homeschooling is not an easy thing.  We are so emotionally invested that each success and failure feels deeply personal.  The stakes are so very high, but the grace is deep.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014/2015 Curriculum Choices

{This post contains affiliate links.  If you choose to purchase something from a link on my post, I receive a portion of the proceeds.}

I had typed this post MONTHS ago.  I never pushed publish.  Precious.  That's a great example of how crazy our year has been.  
I do want to share what we are using, so you know what I am talking about later.  I would like to finish this semester with a weekly wrap up to help myself stay mentally accountable for blogging and taking pictures of our school days.

We traditionally homeschool year round, with the majority of our time off in the fall and winter when we can spend more time outside.  As our calendar has adjusted to a less desert, more humid climate, we bumped our first day of school up to the 28th of July.  The rest of the year has an ebb and flow pattern, scheduled mostly around my husband's military schedule and seasonal opportunity.

I love going through all the homeschool blogs I follow and reading their curriculum choices and reviews.  Inspired by the many posts I have read in the past months, I thought I would share what we are using this year.

This year I will have students in 7th, 5th, and 4th grades.  Having said that, please know that grades aren't always standard in homeschooling.  My 7th grader is doing some online free English and literature college classes, but is working through 6th grade math.   One of my 4th graders is finding 5th grade math quite easy, but is struggling with reading comprehension.  The VERY BEST part of homeschooling is being able to meet children right where they are academically and help them master the things they struggle with before they move on.  There really is no one left behind in my school.  We also get to gently push our children to move as far as they can each academic year.  My goal is for them to love the learning process, always be curious, know important events/vocabulary/processes rather than just names and dates, and to always work their hardest to do their very best in whatever they do.

Whatever you do,
do your work heartily,
as unto the Lord,
rather than for men
Coll 3:23

Here is what we have chosen to work on this year.  

Everyone:  My Father's World 1850 to Modern Times  We use this as a general base for our history, geography, science, and music.  We tend to add a LOT to each of those subjects, but it is a good starting point for us.  We have always been successful with MFW, and we learned the hard way last year that we don't need to change what we use just because everyone else is.  
(Seriously... If I am homeschooling my unique children, why would what works for someone else's very different family automatically work for mine?  Trial and error is also a challenge and blessing in homeschooling.)

Math:  We will continue with Teaching Textbooks.  In the spirit of the phrase "if it aint broke don't fix it," we will stay with Teaching Textbooks as long as our children enjoy it and learn from it.  I am NOT someone who should teach math, but I am someone who can watch along with my children and help them when they need it.  I am grateful for Teaching Textbooks every single school day.
Teaching Textbooks: Math 6 Kit
Math 5 a Teaching Textbook
Teaching Textbooks Math 3 Kit 
Math 4 Teaching Textbook 4-CD Rom Set & Answer Booklet

We also work on math concepts using games like Math Dice and Multiplication Bingo.  We do flash cards and some other multiplication/division computer games as well.
Do you have any math games that you LOVE???  I have several math lovers who would love to know about them!

Language Arts:
  We switched our Grammar program mid year last year, so we are working hard to finish last year's pick.  I had heard a lot of great reviews of Rod and Staff English.  I was worried that the children would find it to be too boring and loose interest and struggle with it.  They recommended we make sure that Josh started with their English 5, and have been glad he is getting that strong foundation. We are done with our first full year of English with Rod and Staff.  I can not tell you how much we love it!  It is inexpensive, thorough, and simple to teach.  I have learned an awful lot while I have been teaching it.  I have no doubt that our children will excel in their future studies just because of our time this year.  I can't wait to see how much more in depth it will get.  Once we start the new year's worth of work, we will be using Interactive Student Notebooks to help them keep the important information all in one place.  This is my Pinterest board for ISNs.  (We begin ISNs next week.  :-) )

This is what we have in our shelves...

We are using Spelling Power, Fourth Edition for spelling.  I also have the children learn the spelling of whatever words we are doing for vocabulary or science vocabulary.  We are really working on spelling this year because misspelled words are driving me batty.

J will be taking Native American Literature, Early American Literature, and creative writing using an online college program.  He can not get dual credits for a few years, but this kid could knock out all of his english requirements early. He is amazing.
M, N, A will all be doing Abeka for reading comprehension.

We have well over 200 books on our reading list this year.  I am trying to keep better track of the books we read this year so we can take a look at how much their reading improves.  I have had 3 struggling readers, who are finally reading confidently.  J LOVES reading.  He and I have that in common.  He reads quickly and remembers all of the details, just as I do.   The rest of the children are getting there slowly.  It has been a struggle to find books and genres that each of them really enjoy.  I still read several stories aloud to my children each day.  I enjoy that time together, and they often will keep asking for "one more chapter" until I start to loose my voice.

  Our main curriculum includes a general science this year.  We will use that science but add to it often.  This week we started using these great little science books...   They have neat science experiments and great explanations.

We pull art, music, and other electives from the internet or books.  We try to stick to creative activities that relate to what we are learning about.
My A will be doing a lot of handicrafts this year.  She has learned how to hand sew, embroider, knit, and paint in the last few years.  She is a creative soul, and I love learning new skills along with her.

It hardly seems like a decent list of all that we do, but it is the core of what happens every week here. I love to add Scout badge work, Bible study, character study, random holiday related unit studies, and other lessons in to keep us from feeling like we are living a "Groundhog Day" kind of life.

Are there any other MFW peeps out there?

Thanks for reading.  I really appreciate that you spent time here.