Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thinking About Summer and Next Year

Maybe it is because we are working through these math and spelling workbooks in an attempt to ace the CAT after doing very little academic work since November but I'm thinking this structured learning thing can be a very good thing! For one thing my 10 year old has a serious inferiority complex when it comes to math so he actually likes it when I sit down and teach him stuff! And he has been frustrated with not knowing how to spell well, so he is pretty darn cheerful about doing his spelling every morning too. Of course right now that's all I'm requiring of him other than some Latin two or three times a week and piano practice (which is does mostly voluntarily though he goes through slumps at that too.).

Anyway this has thrown me into a frenzy of thumbing through catalogs and looking at websites for different curricula. I am planning, planning, planning with great glee!

I'm thinking our summer 'school' will be focused on remediating bad handwriting habits. And Will hasn't been writing much and he's been grumbling at how bad and slow his handwriting is. It is because he does it so little! So I've decided folks have to just sit and do some writing. I force this one the three young ones, but Will and Hannah are slipperier! And Will hasn't had much formal religion which I am finding is NOT a good thing. I have discovered that even teens who love God and are devout need a steady source of knowledge and inspiration and this year that hasn't happened so much. So I'd like each of the teens to read at least one book this summer based in the Catholic faith. Also, I think I'll revive that computer game that drills math facts and we'll try to do that for 10 minutes several times a week for a while to get kids some facility on those babies!

And I just got my Classical Academic Press catalog and the Greek Code Cracker looks like fun. We started learning the Greek alphabet last summer and the kids enjoyed it. Then we started to get into heavier duty stuff going in Hey Andrew 2 (B and S) and 3 (J and me) and we got bogged down and then kind of stopped. But the CAP book looks like loads of fun and it is very clever in the way it gets the kids reading Greek. So I think we might do a bit of that too, over the summer. Also CAP sells a fun Latin vocabulary poster that has all the vocabulary words learned in Primer A. There is sort of a Where's Waldo picture with all the vocab. words somehow pictured on it with a list of all the words on the side of the poster. I'm thinking of getting that and the Latin Bingo 2 Go game. Both S and B love playing bingo and this would be a great review of vocabulary as well.

Next year here's what it looks like so far:

12th grade for Will:
Religion - don't know yet, maybe Kolbe's Intro to the Bible or maybe just a reading plan +CLC
Ancient Lit/History - co-op class I'll be teaching
Music Theory - online AP course taught at PAHomeschoolers (looks hard!)
Latin - Mrs. Smedberg's Latin class
Various music lessons
He needs to get a part time job, as well

9th Grade for Josh:
Religion - same as Will - still deciding
Ancient Lit/History - same as Will
Latin - same as Will
Math - Saxon Algebra II
English - Learn to Write the Novel Way
Science - Earth Science - How the Earth Works-TTC lecture series, Earth Science Demystified, fieldtrips/labs
Music - ????
Art - ????
P.E. - tennis, ?????

5th Grade for Sean:
I just went ahead and ordered from CHC. I like their selection of curriculum for the most part. They are simple and no busy work. Yet there is a lot of hands on stuff you can choose to do if you like.

Religion: Faith and Life and Hands on Exploring the Mass
Math: Saxon 5/4
English: My Catholic Speller, Language of God, Handwriting, Stories of the Saints (this also includes writing)
History: The Sea to Shining Sea lesson plans are included in CHC's stuff. I own the textbook and TM. So I might just read this aloud a couple times a week and follow up with crafts/fieldtrips, movies. I'll also read aloud classical stuff like FMOR, The Aeneid for Boys and Girls, The Bronze Bow, The Young Person's Josephus.
Science: I didn't get the CHC science stuff; still hoping for the co-op
Music: piano lessons
Art: maybe he'll be in an art class or maybe we'll just wing it with what we've got. He keeps saying he wants to learn to draw.
PE: tennis, gymnastics

3rd Grade for Becky (also CHC):
Religion - Faith and Life + read alouds, a CHC rosary project
Math - either Shiller or go back to MCP C math, maybe a mix.
Latin - listen in on Sean's lessons
English - My Catholic Speller, Language of God, Handwriting program
Reading - I need to get in the habit of consistently working on reading skills for her. She'll be going to VT starting this summer.
Writing - Writing with Ease - this is by Susan Wise Bauer and is the sweetest, simplest program that provides copy work and narration a la CM. Very nicely done. I might alternate this with the CHC stuff
History- listen in on Sean's stuff and participate as she wants. She's also in a real American Girl mode and I'm planning to get her the Addy and Josephina books for her birthday.
Music: violin lessons if she still wants them
Art: same as Sean
P.E: same as Sean

As I noted above, the kids might be doing an art class next year and/or we might do a once a month Christian Art Heritage program with our TORCH group.

Also hopefully there will be a co-op where the younger two will do science and poetry/public speaking. This is up in the air at this point.

It looks like so much when I write it out, but really it is just a little bit of the 4 R's (Religion, 'Rithmetic, Writing and Reading plus lots of Mom and Dad read alouds sprinkled with optional projects, classes, etc

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Journal 4/23

  • woke with another headache. What's up with that? But it went away after a couple hours.

  • sat in with Rick when he taught political philosophy in Gov't class today

  • S did math. He sighed and said, I'm never going to be promoted to 5th grade. This shocked me. When have I ever talked about grades like that???? He wasn't paying attention to the math stuff but still....I think he was repeating something he'd read in a book or something

  • B did math too, but no spelling

  • S did his spelling

  • watched two American Identity lectures on Black Elk and Charles Wesley Powell

  • Discussed The Great Gatsby a bit

  • Talked about A Raisin in the Sun and did a little intro on Lorraine Hansberry

  • made the kids work a bit on their papers

  • W is still trying to teach himself harmonica. Working on Oh Susannah

  • B drew a great picture of the puppet lambchop!

  • Made everyone go outside for a while. it's beautiful but chilly but everyone is feeling sluggish for some reason

  • Now B is handwashing the linen matzah cover for Passover. She loves handwashing things.

  • J read Faith and Life and his poetry assignment and that's all he's done today except play on the computer

  • Decluttered the kitchen a bit

  • trying to conquer mountain of laundry

  • read Devotional Stories, Bible History and a few pages out of the a beka Health, Safety and Manners book over dinner of leftovers.

  • Read two chapters of Strawberry Girl to B

  • R read more of The Time Cat for S and B - now they're visiting Leonardi da Vinci
  • Watch next lecture in Understanding Music

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Journal 4/22

Today was my parent's wedding anniversary. They would have been married 64 years if they were still around. Four years ago on this day, we had my dad's funeral.

Anyway, what'd we do today:

  • remembered to say decade of rosary and read Intro to Devout Life. St. Francis de Sales rocks!

  • Found S's missing math workbook; he did math and spelling

  • S read aloud to me from the 3rd grade McGuffey reader

  • S has been doing lots of creating on pivot

  • S played outside a good bit

  • B slept in late but got her math and spelling done

  • I read next chapter of Strawberry Girl to B

  • B took a a long overdue bath and I worked out the rat's nests in her hair. That girl has such an aversion to hairbrushes!

  • Read next chapter of Strawberry Girl to B

  • Let B watch cartoons, Jetsons and Pink Panther while I took W and S to VT

  • J and W did work with math tutor this am. J is still a little sick

  • W got a harmonica and has been teaching himself to play

  • W retook his government test

  • S practiced pieces for piano jury

  • H slept in got up and showered then took her laptop to panera to work. She e-mailed me her ideas for her paper

  • W and S went to VT

  • S wrote out his adj declension in his Lfc workbook

  • I found a possible AP Music Theory course W could take next year on line!

  • Got Learn to Write the Novel Way for J for next year. Looks terrific!

  • Listened to Prof. Shutt on Plato and Aristotle. I think he might be a great history professor but I find him hard to understand when it comes to philosophy

  • Read more of The Horse and His Boy
  • Read Bible History (story of Joseph) and Adventures on the Waterways (about Mike Fink the Keelboatman) to B and S
  • H went to work
  • W went to band practice then
  • J and W went to CLC

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Journal 4/21

What happened today? I forgot to journal as the day went on. . . .

  • Hannah got home at about 1 in the a.m. Tired and sad. R and I were glad to have her home.

  • The lights went out for a couple of hours this morning. I think a branch fell on some wires and cut off electricity to the whole development. So much rain lately!

  • W and I went to Latin class. Pop quiz! I think I did okay though. Josh still a bit sick so I didn't make him go to class. In fact he was just waking up when we left and he doesn't usually sleep in late.

  • H was tired and didn't teach B and S during the morning. Instead they played and B was having some kind of fantastic game in the living involving many tissues and washclothes and about 20 stuffed animals plus taking cushions off the sofas and rearranging furniture!

  • After lunch I did spelling and math with B and spelling with S but his math workbook mysteriously had gone missing.

  • S practiced piano a bit

  • S and B watched Latin dvd and S did a short vocab translation exercise

  • S and B played outside a lot. Rainy in morning and in evening but beautiful in the afternoon.

  • J read his Faith and Life and the next day's assignment in poetry

  • H took W to his voice lesson, before that she went to Starbucks to pick up her tips.

  • I think H has been reading the Great Gatsby

  • Got carry out for dinner. Forgot to get chicken out to defrost and R ate a big lunch at 4:30 and wasn't going to want dinner anyway.

  • Read Devotional stories and began Adventures on the Waterways with S and B.

  • Gave J a quick run down in the 3rd declension lesson we had at Latin

  • W worked on math homework and also SAT vocab. book

  • J also liked the SAT vocab book and also worked on math homework.

  • Read more Strawberry Girl to B.

  • Rick read The Time Cat to S and B
  • Will, Rick and I watched next lecture in Understanding music

Monday, April 20, 2009

Journal 4/20

  • had most awful night - migraine all night. didn't get over it until about 11 a.m. Feel exhausted. Miserable rainy weather outside.
  • came out of bedroom at 7 a.m. to find Josh asleep on the hall floor with his alarm clock next to him. Apparently he was feeling so ill (he'd been sick all weekend) and tired, he'd gotten up out of bed but laid down in the hallway and went back to sleep! Poor guy!
  • in spite of not even getting everybody out of bed until 10:30 a.m. B and S got their math and spelling done. S worked very happily in both books and got his assignments done quickly.
  • B was cooperative too. I think they felt sorry for how badly I was feeling. I know I looked like death warmed over.
  • J read some Faith and Life and read the first day's assignment for his poetry study. I don't know what else he's been doing all day.
  • W has been reading The Great Gatsby and playing guitar all day
  • S picked out the tune to Jeopardy and was making me ask him questions, then he'd play the tune and then answer. "Ask me history questions Mom! They always ask history questions!"
  • B got out all her math manipulatives and played with them for a while.
  • Took S to piano lessons. He picked out his pieces to play at his jury which is 5/11. Must write that down on the calendar!
  • Talked to H on the phone. She's coming home tonight, very late, 1 or 2 ish. She's been having a great time at UD and she's been reading The Great Gatsby as well. Had a good talk with her. I finished the book over the weekend. I loved it!
  • Now it is time to do Latin homework with J and W. First I must make myself my upteenth cup of tea!
  • Sean spent a lot of time writing a new animated cartoon on pivot. His longest one yet!
  • Hurrah! Music Theory is cancelled for tonight! Don't have to go out in the rain feeling so tired and out of it.
  • B is making an 'elevator' out of rope, an old cardboard box and packing tape. She's lifting books, etc up the stairwell and is now trying to fortify it so it will carry her. I think we have an accident waiting to happen!
  • Read more Strawberry Girl to B, gosh I love that book!
  • Made smoked turkey drumsticks for dinner (too salty! but the kids liked them), leftover potato cheese soup, rolls and baby carrots and fruit
  • I drilled S on his Latin declensions at dinner and he knew them! Hurrah! I think finally they have gotten into his long term memory!
  • After dinner, Will, Sean, Becky and I watched the first installment of Robert Greenberg's Understanding Music lectures. Greenberg is a hoot! We learned a lot though I think much of it was over S and B' head.
  • H called very sad because she had to part from Phil and isn't going to see him, if at all, until Christmas. That's a long time when you are 18. Heck its a long time when you are any age!
  • Self-ed: listened to more of Prof. Shutt's lectures on Ancient Civ. Talking about Socrates and Plato. I didn't get much of it.
  • Watched an episode of The Office. I no longer enjoy that show much; too many people constantly humilating themselves. I don't find humilation all that entertaining!
  • Read The Horse and His Boy.
  • 11:21 last night everybody was still awake (except H who slept on the plane!). Rick went to check in on B and she was listening to a story cd. She had to listen, she said, because it was the only way she could get to sleep before midnight!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Journal 4/17

  • Got a late start this a.m. but Sean did a little math test and did all his spelling
  • B did a little math but I could tell her heart and mind were not on it. The only thing goading me on to do this math every morning is that darn CAT
  • We did do a little bit of spelling. B liked the alphabetizing activity and she loves the proofreading exercise.
  • W slept in and took a shower
  • J finished up the Merchant of Venice test except for the essay question. This essay question is the equivelent of something you'd get in college. I decided that Kolbe might think your average 8th grader is brilliant at literary analysis but mine isn't so he doesn't have to go there yet!
  • Beautiful weather today. We had our first tennis lessons. It was lovely sitting and talking to other moms for two hours while the kids played tennis!
  • Everyone was hungry afterwards so we wound up going to a sub shop and eating a very early dinner (none of us had really eaten lunch)
  • Came home and everyone is just lounging around. B is watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Johnny Depp is creepy, there is just no getting around it!
  • I keep lazily trying to tidy up.
  • S is playing over at his friend's house
  • I want to go to the library so I can get copies of The Great Gatsby but I want to go by myself, sans, children.
  • R called from TX. He's enjoying his visit to UD. He sat in on three classes: philosophy which was reading something by St. Thomas Aquinas - R had no clue what it was about; economics - R thought both the text and the teacher were great; Understanding the Bible - R thought it was really interesting. H apparently couldn't sleep all night because of R's snoring, so she sat in on a math lab and fell asleep! I'm sure that made a good impression! Geesh! R talked to the scholarship people and they said they hadn't finished evaluating H's file BUT the guy thought that they'd offer a very, very, very nice scholarship which made R very happy. He told H that if they offer that she can definitely go to UD. He thinks all colleges should be priced like FUS!
  • Sean wound up spending the night at his friend's house.
  • Stayed up very late (why do I always do that when R is away????) watching a very stupid Bruce Willis movie (Die Hard?) which had an obscenity every other word, though the Willis character is supposed to be a hardbitten NYC cop plus he was fighting desperately very evil villians (oh my gosh, Alan Rickman is so perfect!) so I guess it wasn't too out of place. Anyway, it was actually a very sappy movie underneath and in the end he got back together with his wife. True love and heroism won in the end.
  • Started reading The Great Gatsby. Why I have never read this book before? It promises to be fantastic!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Journal 4/16

  • Got through Math and Spelling with both S and B

  • J didn't do a lick of his own work but he was wonderful helping B with her work while I worked with S. I wanted to get through the workbook stuff so I could plan for the teens class

  • Rick gave the teens a test on the constitution. H and D did well but W has to retake it.

  • Talked about My Antonia and did a work sheet from Teaching the Classics on the elements of a story

  • Watched two lectures: Andrew Carnegie and Buffalo Bill

  • Talked about the papers the kids have to start writing. They need to give me an outline next week. I signed H up with writeguide to have someone objective grade her paper.

  • Talked about The Great Gatsby which is the next book we're reading.

  • H and Rick left for UD I guess they are in the air as I type this

  • Went to Blue Knights/Little Flowers. The boys painted little wooden kits of planes/helicopters. They happily painted and assembled and chatted the whole time. Nice group of boys.

  • B's group were doing needlepoint which I thought she would love but she got frustrated because it was different from the way she did it with her kit and bagged out. Colored instead.

  • Weather was beautiful so kids played outside for a while

  • W went to guitar lessons and then over to VT to do his homework with the therapist.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Journal 4/15

  • Josh and Will got up to work on their math homework some more. Goodness, how slug-like they are being!

  • Did math and spelling work with Becky and Sean

  • Sean read more of The Mysterious Benedict Society

  • Becky only acted up once!

  • Josh and Will both worked with math tutor

  • Math tutor brought a book on vocabulary building for the SAT which Will read for a while

  • Read Bible and Devotional story to B and S

  • Finally finished reading book on Lewis and Clark to S and B

  • Josh finished reading Midsummer's Night's Dream and is now reading Much Ado About Nothing. I think he's just reading the modern translation in the No Fear Shakespeare books but still the fact that he is reading these on his own is pretty great.

  • Reviewed Chapter 11 vocab and declensions in LfC with Sean

  • VT at 2:30 for W and S

  • Josh worked on Merchant of Venice test

  • B has been making barbie doll clothes out of old socks. Very clever!
  • W worked on his government homework at VT
  • B watched Inspector Gadget
  • S played computer games and drew cartoons on sketchstar
  • H went to the library and read for Lit and Government
  • H went to work
  • Read several picture books to B. One was a collection of scary stories which inspired her to have a scary picture drawing contest. I won with my interpretation of Munch's The Scream. B drew the scariest though, I thought, a girl who had fallen from a chandelier and lay in bloody parts on the floor. Ick, it was gruesome. Who knows what goes through this child's mind!
  • Took W to band practice
  • Dinner: grilled ham (on panini grill!), rice and raw veggies
  • After dinner took J and W to CLC
  • B and S watched Wordgirl
  • R is reading American Girl Kirsten series to B which she is loving.
  • R is reading The Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander to B and S. I'm not sure of the story except some cat time travels back to Egypt?????

I've decided to get more methodical about read alouds. I'm going to read Bible History and Devotional Stories for Little Folks Too every breakfast. We are almost done with the Devotional Stories so I think I'll switch to saints stories after we are done. Then as a morning break or over lunch or even dinner, depending on how the day is going I'll read:

Monday: American history read aloud. I want to read Adventure on the Waterways first and then Hitty Her first Hundred Years next.

Tuesday: Faith and Life and Baltimore Catechism

Wednesday: A Beka Heath, Safety and Manners 3 per Becky's request.

Thursday: Fairy Tales and Tall Tales. I think I'll start with The Wonder Child and Other Jewish Fairy Tales

Friday: Poetry

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Journal 4/14

  • Will, Josh and I went to Latin class

  • Hannah worked with Becky and Sean in math and spelling workbooks

  • Read B an Aesop's Fable we got from Chick-fil-a

  • Both B and S watched Chapter 12 dvd lesson in Latin for Children

  • Will practiced lots of blues guitar

  • Josh read A Midsummer's Night's Dream (he started it last night and finished it this afternoon! All on his own! I guess he likes Shakespeare!!!)

  • Josh is now working on his math homework

  • Will is also working on math

  • B and S are playing videogames downstairs

  • Hannah is off visiting a friend.

  • Hannah actually did government homework last night and was talking about The Federlist Papers.
  • Josh dawdled doing his math homework all afternoon and evening. So did Will. It was excruciating.
  • Made panini sandwiches with new panini maker for dinner
  • Finished reading Three Cups of Tea

Monday, April 13, 2009

Journal 4/13

Happy birthday to me! We celebrated yesterday, Easter Sunday. I got a panini maker! And a coffee mug signed by all the kids. And a very yummy cheesecake, the leftovers of which I ate for breakfast! Rick and I sipped wine and watched installment 3 of Little Dorrit, yesterday evening. It was a really nice Easter/birthday celebration.


  • Read Bible History and Devotional stories over breakfast

  • Did math lessons and spelling lessons from workbooks in prep for CAT with S &B

  • S read more in The Mysterious Benedict Society

  • Will has a cold and was out of it for a good bit this a.m. He's spent most of the day read My Antonia and practicing guitar

  • Josh is reading Walk Two Moons

  • Hannah did laundry, read through the handbook for UD, cleaned her room and went to work

  • Josh did some of his Latin homework, some math homework and is right now working on his Merchant of Venice open book test. Boy is that test a killer. He actually enjoyed reading the darn play but the test has stripped any pleasure from it.

  • S played outside for a bit

  • W and I went grocery shopping

  • B and S are watching Popeye cartoons

  • I did some of the Latin homework for tomorrow

  • S practiced some piano but not much

  • S has his piano lesson at 6 and then he and W have music theory at 7:30 so we are going to eat out over near the music school for dinner tonight

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Resolutions

Like Jen over at Et Tu, I am making resolutions for the Easter season.

1. Since I've really been having trouble getting the rosary said every morning, I've decided to shake things up to maybe put some oomph back in my prayer life. Lately, I've been feeling drawn to St. Francis de Sales, soooo I've decided to just say a decade of the rosary and then read from Introduction to the Devout Life.

2. I am going to try to cultivate that calm that St. Francis talks about. I think if I put my efforts into that, I'll feel a lot less burned out. And I think when I am calm other things seem to fall into place much easier, I don't beat myself up as much and get overwhelmed but can proceed peacefully or at least with most of my wits about me to the next thing that needs my attention. I am more collected.

3. I am going to focus on Becky more. Her temper is terrible and a real peace breaker in this house. I think some of it stems from me being distracted (often by the computer!) so again, if I try to be calm, I can make better decisions about dealing with her temper issues.

4. I want to focus on our daily rhythm which has been topsy-turvy of late. Everyone needs to get up at a reasonable time (and I, the mother, get to say what's reasonable!) and go to bed at a reasonable time. Everyone needs to spend less time in idleness in front of a screen (be it computer, video or TV) and more time outside. Everyone needs to eat simple, healthy meals. I need to cut down on caffeine because it does make me irritable and sleep poorly. Boy, that last thing was hard to admit. Instead I need to exercise more and drink more water. The kids have been helping out a lot more around the house, which is wonderful! I like that I am keeping up on the laundry and keeping the house a bit tidier. I just have to remember to focus on housekeeping chores a little at a time.

5. We are moving into high tide with school because of test prep for the CAT, so I want to cultivate an sense of orderliness in that regard.

Happy Easter! The day looks like it will be a beautiful one, perhaps a bit on the chilly side. Things we'll do today: hunt for Easter eggs, eat breakfast, go to noon Mass where Hannah and Will are in the Youth Choir, come home and maybe take a walk, play games, watch the rest of Ben-Hur (which we started yesterday), grill some steaks for dinner, read aloud, pray.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Holy Week Begins

This week we are going to mostly focus on religious things and all the details they involve. Going to church, reading about Passover and Christ's Passion and Resurrection. Probably watching suitable movies in line with such themes. Planning meals and keeping the house clean. Enjoying spring, if the weather stays nice. Buying spring clothes, too. I just realized Becky has no Easter dress. Monday we have a fieldtrip to Great Falls and all our regular classes, like math, Latin and piano are off because of spring break. So I'm looking forward to this week as we wind down Lent and begin Easter.

I think after Easter we'll be going into high tide for formal learning. It is time to do the test prep portion of our schooling. I also want to do other things like get back into more of a weight watchers mode in eating. I don't know if I'll go into hard core dieting but maybe I"ll record what I"m eating and try to both eat better and eat less. Also I want try to exercise a bit more. I've started walking a little more and I'd like to continue that and become more regular with it. I also want to get Rick and/or Hannah to walk/exercise with me. They could really use it too.

Anyway, I won't be blogging in the next week but I'll come back after Easter. Not that I've been blogging much anyway, but in my head this is an official break from this blog.