Home school Week 65: Beaver Holes, Effort Tests, and Ill-Fitting Shoes

Allum crystals

Pretty allum crystals: The boys grew these on an eggshell at their weekly Classical Conversations science lab.

It was an unusual week of home schooling, mostly because Alan insisted I spend a large part of it teaching standardized test-taking skills. I made a go of it, but you can’t teach someone how to have a type-A go-getter personality. Either you have it or you don’t. My second child does not.

“Caleb, you missed every single question about this story. You did not read the story. You absolutely did not.”

Caleb replied, “Well, it had a picture, so I just used that.”

“Go read it, and then you are starting over again. Don’t ever do this on these standardized tests, Caleb. You HAVE to read the stories.”

(Oh my goodness. When I was a kid I loved taking those tests, and I always scored well. I cannot even imagine not caring!)

He read the story, and then he answered 4/5 test questions correctly. That’s a vast difference from 0/5. Caleb has no problem reading and comprehending on the 3rd grade level. Sigh.

Now they could call it “Standardized Effort Tests,” and that’d be accurate. It accurately displays who puts forth great effort on standardized tests. Although even that wouldn’t be quite right, as some kids might put forth great effort but simply have not been taught everything on the exam. So I’m not sure these tests are useful at all.


hard at work

I wonder how many schools full of Calebs have lost funding because their students just wrote something down and then ran outside to play. I think we all need to stop letting these tests carry so much weight, especially when you’re talking about eight-year-old kids. Gracious.


Daniel, my number one kitchen helper

Daniel spent his Christmas money today. He bought a new Nerf gun. It came with eight bullets. He’s been playing with it for about two hours. He has 3 bullets left now. He explained it to me:

“Mom, it came with five ‘bullethts’, and now I onwy have thwee. See? Right there. Thwee.”

“Oh no! Already?? Where are the others?”

“In the beaver holes. I lost them in the beaver holes.” (He’s referring to the hundreds of gopher holes in our yard. Apparently he and his buddy Carter were trying to shoot the gophers with their Nerf guns.)

Daniel should give lessons on how to be absolutely, ridiculously adorable.


Caleb’s science lab for Classical Conversations Week 20 : Both boys love science.





Nonna bought us this set of educational DVDs that I have totally under-utilized!

I had a morning full of phone calls to make, in preparation for our big move, so this was just the trick to have the boys all learning quietly. I made them write and illustrate two things they learned from the video to keep them engaged in watching it and deter movie time from turning school into a party.  It worked! I’m going to remember this trick, for sure! I have four more of these videos on other topics.



If you want to play cards or a game at our house, you are out of luck. Pieces are usually missing because I use them to keep the small people busy. Who knows what he does with the cards, but he’s quiet, and I guarantee you he’s learning something, though I have no idea what.



peanut butter cracker sandwiches

This week I shared my favorite childhood snack/lunch with my little people: peanut butter cracker sandwiches. Of course, we have a red hot peanut-allergy kid here, so we made ours from Sunbutter. MMMMmmmm, sun butter!



JD calls this his Alabama football shirt. Yep. We don’t even have to teach them this. We watch it so much on t.v., they just know.



I love, love, love to watch him color.


I had to buy one of these. I am officially old.

You know remembering to do things or take medicines was never my strength, so owning this is essential with my newly discovered heart problem. This week I realized that if I’m going to keep going downhill in a hurry, I should do it with more grace. What do I have to fear?

And why am I not more happy? No, I’m not stellar at home-schooling. It stresses me out, y’all, it does. But I only have to get through eight more weeks of it, so I will try to enjoy it. I promise I will try. I love the boys, but teaching…..ohhhh groooooaaaan mooooaaaan….

Only 8 more weeks!

You know we are all designed differently from one another. Some of you are paintbrushes, and you wouldn’t use a paintbrush to hammer the nail on which to hang the painting. You could try, but you might break the paintbrush. You need a hammer for that job.

But what about when you are painting? Well, you wouldn’t want a hammer for that. A hammer is not capable of the beautiful strokes that can be rendered with a paintbrush. We each have a time and a place to feel needed and useful, and when we try to fill someone else’s role, it just isn’t pretty. People get hurt. Expectations are left unmet. It’s disappointing. While it can be done in a pinch, let’s not live in a pinch when it is not warranted.

I’m more of an ink pen, and it about killed me trying to be both an ink pen and a chalkboard. Sometimes I was more like nails screeching on a chalkboard. Let’s not have any more of that here. For me, home schooling was like walking around in ill-fitting shoes. Only eight more weeks, and then I’m simplifying. I’m going to just be mom again for a while.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, fulfilling your own God-given purpose.


Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)




  • Jen

    That baby boy of yours is so cute! They are all cute, but he has gotten so much hair and looks like a little boy now. How do they grow up so fast?? A big move, school ending in 6 weeks and life in general means a lot going on for you all. Stay sane 🙂 I have mine all home for a week and a half for spring break, This ought to be fun!
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  • McMom

    WOW JD has changed so much – his face has filled out a lot and his hair is so California-surfer-adorable 🙂 Don’t get me started on standardized tests. Do you know there’s a proposal to pay teachers based on their students’ test scores now? Yeah. (https://www.google.com/#q=alabama+tenure+pay+performance+track) I totally get the painting woes. So fun, but oh so messy. And they all love a good mess, don’t they? I thought pill boxes meant organized, not old…and don’t be telling me any different 😉

    • Yes! It does mean organized. Good point! Of course, I had zero pills to organize before this year…I am sad to tell you that Alan took JD for a hair cut today. 🙁 However, it’s not as short as the big bros. I love his surfer look too.

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