home school

I feel like we are off to a pretty good start this school year and we are settling into a routine.

The hardest part for me about home schooling and the part I like the LEAST is the juggling act of wearing both the hat of mom and the hat of teacher.  The kids don’t understand that my making them do a subject they don’t like doesn’t make me a mean mom, it makes me their teacher.  That is a struggle.  I am just hoping and praying that these struggles will produce character… godly character in all of us. 

I think my favorite part of homeschooling is the actual  mom part… getting to be with my kids more and them getting to be with each other.  As I write this my oldest and youngest are playing football in the backyard for recess.  If my 10 year old was away at school they would not have this time together… nor would they have the moments of talking around the lunch table.  These are the moments I cherish… these are the ones I have to hold on tight to when we are crying over wrong math problems and struggling to recall declensions and arguing over who gets to use the computer first.

These moments…


Always, always when they work on jingles or recitations or memorizing, they are upside down… not sure if it helps them sink in better to their brains or not. 


As part of art (something that I am SOOOOO guilty of neglecting) this year I bought some cards which are so so cool.  They have pictures from several paintings at the National Gallery of Art.  Each picture has a set of 2, one that is a close up of the painting and the other has the whole painting and the title and artist.  On Fridays we play Old Maid, or Go Fish, or matching using these cards and it is helping us get face time with these famous paintings.  Then I plan to use these cards on a field trip later this year where we will go on a scavenger hunt to find them.  This has been fun.



His favorite subjects are history, literature and writing.  He loves working on his writing projects, especially when he gets to type on his computer. 



IMG_5775And her subject of choice is and always has been math.  This girl LOVES numbers like I love words.    Nothing starts her day off better than jumping in on some math.

Science this year is AWESOME!  There are TONS, TONS of labs to choose from each week.   I really, really hope I can keep up with this, b/c I think these will prove to be the moments we all savor the most from school this year.

We made and experienced an amorphous solid this week using cornstarch and water.  (it was so so cool)


And we learned about freezing points and even lowered the freezing point of water by using salt and making frozen apple juice.


This was fun and tasty and something everyone could participate in.


It was good for me to stop and reflect on the good moments at the end of this week, because to be honest, the moments aren’t all good.  It’s messy… messy b/c we are living life while doing school… and messy b/c we are shaping character while doing school.  There is disrespect, and disobedience, and selfishness and fighting, and laziness… there is a short tempered Momma wearing her pjs’s reheating her coffee and desperately yearning for a few moments of peace…



Lessons Learned

September 12, 2014

in home school,homeschool,mess

This week in Science the kids learned about matter, mass, volume, and density.

This week in Science Mom learned that if your going to do an experiment involving food coloring, you should do it OUTSIDE.

Everything was moving along nicely.  The kids had finished all of their morning assignments and we still had about 20 minutes before recess.  Perfect, I thought, we’ll do our science lab.  I was feeling so on top of things because I had even looked ahead earlier in the week and made sure we had all the ingredients we needed… I made a run to Target yesterday morning for the necessary alka seltzer to make it all fizzle.

Our goal:  to make “lava lamps” 

The purpose was to discuss density. 

Ingredients needed:  water bottles, oil, vinegar, food coloring, and alka seltzer

I even raided the recycling can at the gym yesterday for empty plastic water bottles. 

Things were going great.  It worked just like it should and we were all enjoying it greatly. 

photo (4)

I was so excited.  I snapped a quick pic to post of our fun science class.


The book said you could put more than one tablet in, once the bubbling had settled down.  The kids were having so much fun, I went ahead and let them put in another one.  I was being careful and even put paper towels under the water bottles incase they leaked a little.  The book also said you could shake the bottle.

Well the next thing I know, my 4 year old is holding the bottle to shake it when suddenly the lid pops and we have an explosion. 


Oil, plus vinegar, plus BLUE food coloring is everywhere

the floor

the ceiling

photo (3)

Pictures don’t do it justice. 

We quickly take our clothes off and run them to the wash and then start scrubbing.


…. just when I think we have it all, I see another little blue dot way over by the back door… or on the chairs at the school table at the other side of the room.  The bottle exploded between the kitchen island and our stove


I had to scrub oily dye from the chairs at the table, the floor by the door, the dishwasher, the window behind the sink… all the cabinets….


The kids were champs.  The all jumped in and helped where they could. 

Mopping the floors has been on my to do list for 2 weeks now and kept getting moved… I had officially taken it off the list until next Sat… but then science class happened.  I had to scrub up the oil.  At least the kitchen floor got mopped… and I finally tackled those dust bunnies on the wall above the stove.

Our ceiling has a nice oily blue spackled pattern on it, that I have a feeling will be there until we try to sell our house years from now.

Whew!  All I can say, is that is a science experiment I am sure we won’t forget anytime soon. AND, I am so glad it is Friday… bring on the weekend folks!


And so a new year begins… this morning was our first day back at the tutorial.  I can’t believe it marks our 6th year of homeschooling.  What a blessing this community had been to our family. 

Here we are starting 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades!


“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:9-11

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September 4, 2014

in home school,homeschool

I feel like the month of August is much like the 9th month of pregnancy.  I go into crazy nesting mode as I gear up for another school year.   There is the ordering of curriculum… then the purchasing of school supplies… then the organizing of the binders… and cracking open that homeschool cabinet which ALWAYS turns into the junk closet over the summer.  Ya know, the “Company is coming and I need a place to hide all these papers and misc junk from the kitchen counters,”  place….

Then in addition to all of the school prep, I go into crazy nesting mode on the house… deep cleaning and purging and organizing… b/c much like in pregnancy, I know free time is going to come to an end soon and it will be ALL I can do to keep dishes washed, clothes washed and groceries bought… scrubbing the bath tub and mopping the floor typically fall to the wayside until the next school break.

And so I clean and organize and do all I can to prep for the new year.

This year I have spent a GREAT amount of time and thought into changes I want to incorporate into the new year.  I intend to be way more structured this school year than in years past and I’ve been trying to work out the best system for that.  I think I have it figured out.. it will take a few weeks to see if I need to adjust the schedule any. 

We started back with school at home this week.  We did math, spelling, handwriting, memory verse, typing, flashcards, reading and art.  It’s been kind of nice to have a week of adjusting back to school without our FULL back to school schedule.  It has helped iron out some kinks and give me some time to do more prep work.  Next week the tutorial starts back officially and we will add Latin, History, Science, Grammar, and Writing to our school day assignments.  I am both excited and nervous.  I will have a 5th, 3rd, and 2nd grader this year.   I also have a “very eager to start learning”preschooler.  I think this will be my hardest year yet of homeschooling, which is why I have spent weeks trying to plan and organize and set things in place.

Our first day was rough.  There was literal weeping and gnashing of teeth.   But, we plowed through and day 2 was MUCH better. 

I think I will need to take it one day at a time… and I think I am going to need to bathe the year and each day in prayer.  Patience and discipline and perseverance are going to be needed… and I know I can’t rely on my own strength for any of that.

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Gah!  It seems MORE than a month has gone by since I last updated the ol’ blog.  What a time it was too.  The whirlwind of the end of the school year.  Last week we had our last day at the tutorial followed by their year end assembly. 

Wahoo!!!  All those snow days we kept our nose to the grind stone are paying off now baby! 

I was so proud as I watched them get up front and recite all of the things they had memorized.  Latin endings, history time lines, science jingles…. “Yes,” I thought… “They got it!  The DID learn something this year.”  It was a moment of triumph for me as mom and teacher.   And one I did my best to savor.  Because after enduring all of the whining and tears and frustration and “do I have to”  it was wonderful to see the fruits of our labor.  Today we completed the very last step of the school year, our year end evaluation with the county school board.  So we lugged in our suitcases full of binders and did our best to convey to the reviewer in a short amount of time all the work we had accomplished this year.  They deemed us compliant and we left to check out some library books.  As I walked away I realized all the things I didn’t show them, but they didn’t require it anyway and I realized that there really is no way to full convey all we learned and how we’ve grown this school year. 

But, in my heart I know.  And truthfully, I’ve seen it play out in these first few weeks of summer vacation.  As we’ve settled into our summer routine and kept up with the reading and math assignments I want them to continue over the summer, I can see growth and maturity.  They no longer need summer reading incentives.   They eagerly write and mail letters and e-mails to their friends… putting their knowledge to use.  The other night one of them asked if they could keep a journal this summer.  YES!  YES!  This is what I love to see!  I direct the learning all school year, but for the summer, to see kid directed learning is a joy to my mother/teacher heart.   This is one of the things I love most about homeschooling. 

We spent our first week of summer break trying to organize the house and establish some summertime routines.  Memorial Day weekend felt like an official kick off to summer… full of watermelon, swimming, camp outs, whiffle ball, cousins, grandparents, and friends. 


This year in History we are studying American History from the explorers to the war on 1812.  I love history.  It is my favorite part of home schooling.  And I am so grateful that we live within driving distance of so many great historical sites. 

I really wanted to take the kids to Philadelphia  for a day trip over spring break.    Scott graciously rearranged his work schedule so that he could join us.  (because he is the best ever)…. I love day trips with the family.  It was such a relaxing, low key day.  We left the house a little before 9 am and were home just before 9:30.  We saw all that I wanted us to see and had an enjoyable dinner in historic Philadelphia. IMG_1827

I know I mentioned it this summer, but I gotta say it again.  The Junior Ranger programs that the US National Parks do is just fabulous.  Especially for elementary age kids.  It gives them something to do while waiting in line.  It teaches them a thing or two and keeps them engaged.  I love it.  This year the Historical Parks also added trading cards.   Anytime a kid sees a park ranger they can ask for a trading card.  The rangers will give them a card after answering a trivia question.   They made the questions age appropriate… for my 3 year old they would pretty much accept the answer “Philadelphia” to almost any question.  Smile  The older ones had to work a little harder for it… but what they didn’t know is they were learning more information in the process.  (sneaky rangers)  My kids LOVED this!



We visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the US Mint.  It was really interesting to learn the history of our currency and to watch money being made right before our eyes.  (sadly we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside of the US Mint).  We saw several historical paintings, saw the actual chair George Washington sat in at the Continental Congress and stood in the room where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  We even ate dinner in the building where our forefathers ate and met years ago.  We learned about Ben Franklin’s printing shop, and watched how the printing press worked.  Then we visited the original Post Office and mailed ourselves an envelope so we could have it hand stamped with Ben Franklin’s post office stamp. IMG_1787


I was more than a little awestruck by the history.  History makes me so reflective and contemplative.  Would I be able to do what they did?  Would I be able to risk my life, my family’s life and our well being for the good of our country?  After watching a movie at the visitor center we asked the kids which side they think they would have sided with.  My 9 year old very wisely answered, “I really don’t know because I haven’t been through what they had been through.”  If I am honest, I don’t know either, but I do know that I am grateful for the wisdom, bravery, and sacrifices made by our founding fathers.