Monthly Archives: February 2008

We’re taking a week off…

After taking turns being sick all weekend, Madison woke up at 10:30 this morning, sick again.  She hasn’t thrown up, but after she woke up, she laid in bed for another hour while I read to her, then laid on the couch for 2 hours, not watching TV or anything, just laying there, saying her stomach hurt again.  She ate a bowl of oatmeal and drank a glass of orange juice, then went back to bed at 5:30 tonight.  This is so out of character for her.

Needless to say, we didn’t do school.  So, after our not-so-great-week last week and our start today, I made the executive decision that we are not doing school at all this week.  Well, I shouldn’t say at all.  When she feels better, I am going to have her do her reading lessons because I don’t want her to get out of practice with that, but that is pretty much all we are are going to do.

Matt is also pretty much off work all week, so I thought I would take advantage of having him home in order to take some field trips we’ve been meaning to take.  I am hoping the weather will get warm enough that we can go to Red Rocks State Park to do our first nature walk, and hopefully we will also make it to the capitol building (we are trying to visit all the state capitols, and we have lived in Oklahoma City for almost 3 months and haven’t made it to the capitol building yet…)

And, since it seems like it has been a while since I posted a picture, here are a few from one of our last capitol trips to the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson…



Cute Quote

A few weeks ago, we were walking home from a hockey game, past the art museum (this was before we went to the art museum in Kansas), and I said to Madison “We should go to the art museum sometime soon!  We haven’t tried it yet…”  It’s across the street from our apartment, so it would be an easy field trip for us.  Anyway, Madison said “I don’t like museums.  They’re boring.”  I, of course, immediately launched into a argument, listing all the museums we have been too and how much fun we had.  No luck. 

Since then, we visited the art museum in Kansas and the Cowboy Museum here in Oklahoma City and a few nights ago, we were at dinner when Madison said “When I grow up, I think I want to be a cook, or work at a museum.” 

I was shocked.  “What?  I thought museums were boring!  That’s what you told me a few weeks ago.”

“I never said that.  I love museums.  Especially that Cowboy one.  I want to work there.” 

Okay, then.  

As a side note, we were eating at the Cattleman’s Cafe, listed in the 1000 Places to See Before You Die in the US and Canada book.  I don’t know that I would recommend it.  It was good steak, but not as good as I expected since it was listed in that book.  It has great reviews, so maybe we just went on an off night, but I was much more impressed by the steak I got at Texas Roadhouse a few weeks ago.

Week Ten Report

Wow.  We have had a week.  And let me just say I am so glad it is finally over. I have this concept that school should be fun, especially at this age, and between my grumpy moods and Madison’s grumpy moods, we did not really have fun this week…

So, I have come to the conclusion that I will need to build week breaks into our schedule – and this week should have been one of them.  Somehow we did manage to finish all our school except for one math lesson (which is pretty impressive), but it was a loooooooooooooooong week for both of us.

I will start with the positive –

Madison finished Explode the Code Book C this week!  After finishing it yesterday, I gave her the consonant pretest from ETC Book 1, which she, of course, passed with flying colors and we are ready to start with Lesson 1 next week.

We are 6 lessons away from finishing the first half of Headsprout, and Madison is doing so well with her reading!  I checked out some easy reader phonics books from the library last week and had Madison read them to me. For the most part, she has been able to read them, with a little help from me on the sounds she does not know.   I am really excited to see where she will be in the next two weeks.

Math was regular, except that we just ran out of time to do it one day.

Bible is great, although it seems like she is starting to retain less…  not sure how to remedy that, but I will be re-reading my teachers guide this week.  Hopefully I can add in some reinforcement activities.  We also started with the Scripture Memory System on Wednesday, which I love, love, love!  I don’t even think I can say how excited I am to get started on this, not just for Madison, but for me also.  I made up a list of our first 100 verses to memorize (and believe me, this took a LOT more time than I expected) and I am extremely optimistic about it.

Science, once again, we skipped.  I am toying with the idea of having a “Science Week” to make up for the fact that we basically don’t do it.  We can check out science books from the library, do lots of experiments, and culminate with a trip to the Science Museum.  The more I think about it, the more excited about this I am…

And that was about it for our week…

Except for today, and if we had a bad week, today was the worst of all the days.  Madison woke up late, 20 minutes before story time.  I won’t tell you what time story time is, because I was still sleeping too and I don’t think I want to broadcast how late I slept in…  Anyway, we rush around and make it to story time just a few minutes late.  Then Madison (who has been telling me all morning that her stomach hurts and I have been telling her to be tough) throws up in the middle of story time.  And before we make it out of the library, she says she has to go to the bathroom and has an accident in her pants, which I attempt to clean before taking her out to the car, where she throws up again before we get home.  And that was not the end of it.  Needless to say, it was a long day.  I am on my 3rd pair of jeans.  We were planning to head back to Kansas again for the weekend, but Madison and I stayed home and let Dad make the trip by himself.  Bummer.  And to top it all off, I am starting to feel sick – but I keep telling myself to be tough…

Have a great week – I know mine is going to be better!

My Favorite Homeschool Products

This Friday’s meme from The Heart of the Matter is about our favorite homeschool product. This post was this was harder than I expected. Almost all of my ideas were office supplies (binders, notecards, smencils, my laminator, art supplies – how do I choose??) or brand new things that I don’t know if we are going to love or not. But I finally narrowed it down to the three that are my favorite – for this week at least…

1) My Pencil Sharpener. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy one, but I love having a sharp pencil. I need a sharp pencil to function in a healthy manner. Right now, we only have a manual one – I am putting off buying an electric one until we get to Japan because of our extremely limited weight allowance, but that is the number one thing on my Wish List for next year. That is also the reason I love Madison’s Crayola Twistables so much right now.

2) The Alpha Bakery Cookbook, which was free (only pay shipping), and full of recipes that are actually pretty good! There is a recipe for each letter of the alphabet, plus some more just for fun in the back, like play-doh and trail mix.

3) Our number line, which we use pretty much everyday. (I also really enjoy the Bible timeline you can see in this picture.)

Runners up include my Well Trained Mind book, our new nature journal, Headsprout Readers, and our memory CD… and I am sure I will think of more that I can’t live without!

Adding Nature Studies…

Just as soon as I think I have a plan, it seems like I read something new that completely changes my plan. In the last week, I have been reading about Charlotte Mason and while I am not ready to move away from classical education, there are a few aspects about Charlotte Mason that I am interested in incorporating into our curriculum, like scripture memorization, hymn study, personal development and habits, and nature study. So, while I finished up my tentative 12 year plan last week, this week I am already making changes to incorporate some CM ideas into it.

I would like to start including some nature study within our regular science (although let’s be honest, I’m not really doing any science right now…). I read about the Green Hour Challenges over at Harmony Art Mom’s blog, and I think it would be a fun thing to add to our curriculum, and might even keep me a little bit more accountable where science is concerned. And, as proof that this is meant to be, last night I was at Starbucks and found the cutest ever nature journal, which I promptly bought and brought home to inspire me to start on the Green Hour Challenge…



And for only $12.95, it wasn’t a bad deal, especially considering the $10 gift card I had from Christmas – thanks Mom!

So now my next challenge is to figure out where to go for our first Green Hour Challenge. I am thinking about Red Rocks State Park, if I can convince my dear husband to take me in this chilly Oklahoma weather, or possibly at my grandparents pecan farm if we are able to drive out to New Mexico this weekend (which we were actually planning to do if Matt can get a few days off work).


Scripture Memory System

So I just got home from Wal-mart, where I purchased everything needed to create a scripture memory system, as seen at Simply Charlotte Mason (this might be my new favorite website).

I have wanted to start scripture memorization for a while now, not only for Madison but for our whole family because I feel like it is an area all of us need to improve in. I stumbled across this idea about a week ago, and I think it is something that can really work for our family.

The System:

(copied from the SCM website)

Step One: Get an index card box and forty-one tabbed dividers that fit inside it. It doesn’t matter if the dividers have letters on them; you can flip them over and use the other side for labeling.

Step Two: Label the dividers as follows and place them in the box in this order:

  • 1 divider — Daily
  • 1 divider — Odd
  • 1 divider — Even
  • 7 dividers — Days of the Week (Sunday, Monday, etc.)
  • 31 dividers — Numbered 1-31

Step Three: Copy onto index cards (or slips of paper) any verses your family already knows. Record both the reference and the text of the passage. If you don’t know any yet, don’t worry — you will very soon. Place the verses you already know behind the numbered dividers, distributing them evenly.

Write cards or papers for verses you want to memorize. Put one verse card or paper behind the Daily divider; this will be the passage you’ll work on memorizing first. Then stack the rest of the verses to be learned in front of the Daily divider to learn at a later time. At the beginning, you won’t have any verses in the Odd and Even or Days of the Week slots. Don’t worry, they’ll fill in; see the next two steps.

Step Four: Each day you will say together the verses behind four dividers:

  • Daily
  • Odd or Even
  • Day of the Week
  • Date of the Month

So if today is Tuesday, the 3rd, you will say the verses behind Daily, Odd (because 3 is an odd number), Tuesday, and 3. The next day (Wednesday, the 4th), you will say the verses behind Daily, Even, Wednesday, and 4. Keep in mind that only the verse behind Daily is a new one that you are memorizing; all the others are just review.

Step Five: As you master the verses behind the Daily divider, advance that card and move the replaced verses farther back in the box. So when you have memorized a Daily, move it behind either the Odd or Even divider. Move the verse that was in that Odd or Even slot back to a Day of the Week slot. And move the verse it replaces in the Day of the Week slot back behind a numbered divider. You can then put a new verse or passage to memorize behind the Daily divider and you’re ready to go again.

So basically, you choose the verses you want to memorize and write them down on index cards. If you are not sure what verses you want, SCM provides a list of suggestions broken down by year. I am probably going to use a combination of these and others I had already picked out. I am also probably going to include other Bible “lists” like the apostles, the judges, the 12 sons of Jacob, etc. that I think we should memorize. And when Madison has memory verses at church, we will probably add those in as well.

We started doing a family Bible reading right after dinner each night, so we are going to add scripture memory to that time when the whole family is together.

Here is a picture of my finished box:

So for about $7, I have a great scripture memory system for the whole family that I think we are going to get a lot of use out of!

Week Eight and Nine Reports

I had to look at my calendar to see what we have actually done during the last two weeks – I can barely remember, and since a large part of the purpose of the blog is to chronicle our homeschool journey, I am going to have to try to stay on top of this a little more.

We had two good weeks, and it feels like we have made so much progress not only in homeschooling, but also in life.  It is like a switch in Madison’s brain has turned on and it is amazing – she has started trying new food and taking her medicine without a fight (both of which were HUGE battles in the past), and she has made huge progress with her reading – thank you Headsprout 🙂

So our last two weeks in review:

Language Arts/Reading –

I will start with this first because I am so thrilled with how well she is doing.  We are on Lesson 28 of 80 of Headsprout, and so far, I am LOVING IT!!  The program is so patient with her, reviewing new sounds until they are mastered, and she enjoys it.  In fact, she enjoys it so much, we are two weeks ahead of my schedule.  I had originally planned on four lessons a week, since we homeschool Monday through Thursday, but she asks to do extra in the afternoon during her free time 🙂  Of course, I don’t say no.  The greatest part is from about lesson 20 on, almost every lesson comes with a printable reader, so she is getting lots of “real” practice away from the computer screen.  This week, I picked up some phonics based readers from my library, and we are reading those together.  I know which sounds she has learned through Headsprout, so if she can sound out the word, I let her, and she is doing great.  If she doesn’t know the sound, I read it.  We also starting reading the Bob books again.  She read three new ones this week, sounding out the words almost completely on her own.  And… she has been asking to keep her lamp on later so that she can read in her room.  I am so happy 🙂  While I was hesitant about using a computer based program to teach Madison to read, I am so thrilled that we decided to take the chance.  For the $100 we spent, we are getting such a great return on our investment!  And of course, I will keep you updated as we get closer to completing the program, but as of right now, I recommend it to everyone, especially if you are on the fence about a reading program.

As far as other language arts goes, we have pretty much discarded the “Letter of the Week” program.  We are still watching the videos for each letter as we get to them in our Explode the Code book, and I let her choose a recipe each week for us to fix together.  But we are not working on the quilt (although I still have plans to finish it), and we are going through a letter pretty much every day.  At this point, she knows all the individual letter sounds, so we are just going through the motions with ETC Book C, boosting her confidence.  We only have 5 letters left, so it looks like we will be starting Book 1 soon, which I am excited about because I think it will be a nice change of pace, and maybe challenge her a little more.

Bible –

We are trucking along with this, right on schedule.  This is still the first thing we do each morning, but I think we are going to add in a few things over the next few weeks.  First, I am hoping to introduce a scripture memorization system for the whole family, Charlotte Mason style (more on this later), and second, we are starting to have family Bible time after dinner.  Every night, we plan to have Dad read from the Bible right after dinner.  I think this is really important because right now I am the one teaching Bible, and I think Madison needs to see Dad do it too, as the head of the family.

Math –

Right on schedule with this also, although I am planning to make a few changes in the next few weeks.  I finished reading “The Three R’s,” by Ruth Beechick yesterday, and a lot of what she suggested I agreed with.  So we are changing two things in math as well.  First, I am planning to include a lot more work with manipulatives.  We already do quite a bit of this, but I think we could do more.  Second, I am going to read the teacher’s manual each week before our lessons.  I have kind of gotten into a habit just doing the workbook page together, and I would like to move to having a “teaching time,” followed by her doing the workbook page a little bit more independently.   On a happy note, her counting is much improved, and she can count to 100 by 10’s.  Yeah 🙂


For right now, these subjects are our core, and everything else I consider electives.  That being said, we haven’t really done any electives in the last two weeks – we skipped Science and Violin completely, the only Art we have had is at her art center on her own.  For Japanese, we have continued to read books about the culture, but haven’t started on vocabulary.

Hopefully we will get back on track with that in the next few weeks, but I think that is unlikely given the amount of traveling we are hoping to do before leaving for Japan.  We have plans to visit my grandparents in Virginia (we have been reading books about Williamsburg and Jamestown too), my grandparents in New Mexico, our friends from Missouri, my brother’s wedding in Kansas, my other brother’s military graduation in San Antonio, as well as bi-weekly weekend trips to see our parents.  (I’m not even sure why we have an apartment 🙂 )

We did have a few field trips, once to the zoo with a homeschool family from church, and to see the ballet “Zorro!”  And despite all that we did not manage to finish, I feel really good about where we are at.  Madison is learning, and I think she is learning to love learning.  And that is what matters, right?

A quick update…

I really am going to post a weekly report… I promise.  I have a new goal of blogging everyday, but so far, that is not working out.  We are having a busy, crazy weekend:  last night we went to the ballet, today we went to the emergency room…  Madison sliced off a chunk of her thumb while helping me peel potatoes 😦  It was a bad afternoon, but Madison was so tough!  And we had a great night at the ballet – here is a picture of us getting ready to leave…

Have a great weekend… and hopefully I will get my weekly report (for the last two weeks!) up sometime tomorrow 🙂