A Happy Season for Me: Wrapping Up Homeschool Year 2


Joshua had several different speaking parts in this year’s school program. I was so excited and nervous for him. You would’ve thought I was the one with lines.

Well, if you’re new here you might not realize that I’m sort of a reluctant teacher. It’s not that I don’t possess the joy of teaching. Sometimes it is fun. The thing is that I cannot enjoy having so many things to do. There’s a fourth grader to teach, a third grader to teach, and a toddler running around. I finally threw in the hat and sent Daniel to pre-school, but it’s only three days per week, so sometimes he’s home too.

Then there’s the blog, the meals, I should at least talk to my husband occasionally (sarcasm. It’s just sarcasm), and the laundry, and heaven forbid, social outings or extracurricular activities.

It is not my cup of tea. I was not built to run around like a chicken with my head cut off and try to do so many things at one time. In the words of my adorable 2-year-old nephew in the swimming pool last year, “Don’t like it. Don’t like it. Don’t like it.”

I feel like I have so many things to do that I can’t do any of them well, because that’s exactly how it is.

So yes, this is the HAPPIEST season of all. Why? Because the school year is ending!!! I calculated very carefully. We will reach exactly 180 days on May the 24th.

We are all so ready for summer.

So we have a few pictures of the end-of-year-Classical Conversations program for ya and a little synopsis of what we covered at our humble little school. It was an intense year.


For Joshua, this year was all about learning the parts of speech and how to write essays. Each 4th-6th grade student diagrammed a sentence for the program.


Nonna and Alan. I was thankful we got to have a grandparent with us for the program. Living so far away from everyone, this is a rarity for us.


Caleb did a great job too. His class all recited their science facts together. They recited the parts of the atmosphere, types of leaves and leaf parts, and types of volcanoes.


These two were happy to be audience members. JD loves Daniel with the sort of undying devotion that only a sweet little sibling can give.


Not the best photo of Dan, but look at how HAPPY JD is! He’s ready for Mom to be done teaching and become his personal servant again.

What We Learned About This Year:

161 events and people in a chronological timeline (We love our time line song. Check it out here.)

44 U.S. Presidents– This is Caleb’s favorite memory work. He says them at lightning speed.
24 history sentences to add depth to our timeline
144 locations and geographic features in Africa, Europe, and the Old World


Caleb’s freehand watercolor world painting

24 biology and earth science facts including the classifications of living things and each continent’s highest mountain) Joshua totally rocked the highest mountains on each continent. I still can’t tell you them, but Joshua can.

5 Latin noun cases and noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
English Grammar Facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs)
Multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

Oh! And we read the most interesting history text-book I’ve ever read. I’m pleased as punch to tell you that we finished the entire book. Alan even enjoyed getting in on this one. He would read it to them before bed at night. Home school is flexible like that!:


You may remember how I ran off all the corresponding activity sheets to go with Story of the World last summer. I thought we’d do so many of them. We did like 5, but that’s okay. We were perfectly happy to listen, learn, and memorize.

Joshua even wrote essays on the Trojan War and Greek mythology.

So now we’ve started on volume II. Caleb enjoys listening to the stories in the car, and Joshua enjoys reading them during silent reading time.

Joshua is 80% of the way through Teaching Textbooks Math 4, which was a much better fit for him than the A Beka curriculum, mostly because it took ME out of the equation. Ha!

Caleb is still doing well with his A Beka math. He’s our math stud. Joshua’s our master speller.

It was a hard year. I brought on board a reading tutor, a part-time nanny (just on Fridays), several doctors (for me), and a cleaning lady just to make it sort of work. But it’s almost done! CC is done! AWANA will be done as of next Wednesday (Thank goodness!), and school will totally be finished May 24th. I’m counting the hours.

Meanwhile, I have not had a fever today, so whoo-hoo!!! Now I’m off to feed the children and head to Joshua’s baseball game!


When Playing in the Woods Turns Ugly

This is a sideways panoramic photo of The “Candelabra Tree” at Henry Cowell State Redwoods Park. (No, this is not in my neighborhood. We did visit it this week, though!)

A couple of months ago, a new neighbor moved in. They have a boy Caleb’s age, and a girl in kindergarten. We’ll call this little boy New Friend and his sister New Friendette. Creative, I know.

New Friend and Friendette have a glorious treasure of elementary school childhood right in their backyard. A thicket. Actually, it’s a large thicket that runs down our street a piece, so we call it “the woods.” Joshua, Caleb, and their new friends have spent hours over the last few weeks playing in the woods. Their joy has just been overflowing.

My joy level was pretty high the other day, too. I stepped out on my balcony, and I could have sworn that I saw someone move in the woods. I stood very still for a long time, just thinking and praying. I love looking that way, because beyond the woods, the elevation slopes down, so there’s a small glimpse of ocean.

As I stood there, perfectly still, a “lots of points” buck rose up out of the bushes in the woods. Then his whole herd rose up around him, and I just stood there in awe. I HAD seen something move!!  It was the deer, ducking out of sight, at my sudden entrance onto their scene. They just stood there, munching on leaves, or whatever they eat, probably poison oak or something.

I can’t tell you how that uplifted my spirits that day!

And then Wednesday came. On Wednesday, Joshua and Caleb stayed in those woods, building, imagining, and socializing for two hours, which I hope they will look back on fondly some day.

On Thursday morning, Joshua woke up with a red rash on his face and itchy arms. Thankfully, he was not having breathing difficulty at all, so we didn’t have to rush off to the Emergency Room. We weren’t sure if he had poison oak or a mild reaction to nut exposure Wednesday night. We fed him lots of Benadryl, and we kept a close eye on him.

Friday morning he woke up broken out on both sides of his face. 🙁 I started researching poison oak a whole lot more.

Did you know it takes 3 weeks to get over poison oak exposure?

Did you know that it may not show up until up to 72 hours after your exposure?

Did you know that you don’t need to seek medical help unless the poison oak is in your eyes, private areas, or covers more than 1/3 of your body?

I found a bottle of Prednisone with about 3 teaspoons in it, left over from his great cashew reaction of 2014. I gave him a dose of that on Friday.  That took care of the left side of his face pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, by Saturday, Joshua had poison oak on the corner of his eye, all over his right cheek, forehead, and chin, and little red dots popping up all over his body. Off to the ER he went. He now has a good, two weeks’ supply of Prednisone. He still looks pretty rough.

I feel sooooo badly for him. He’s handled it really well, though.

Did you know that unless the oil from the actual plant is still on your skin, a person with poison oak is not contagious? I did my research on this.  However, the sight of Joshua would probably scare most folks, so he will be staying home with Nonna tomorrow.

By the way, we have had some great field trips/adventures this week to the Redwood Forrest and the Monterey Aquarium. That aquarium has found a new fan in me! Alan and DaddyO got to go kayaking too!!  I can’t wait to get all the photos uploaded to share on my next post!

Super-friendly young sea lion! More pictures like this to come on the next post!


Click it…you know you wanna! 😉



Managing the “Santa” Question!!






I love potatoe Clause, don’t you?  Oh, it used to be so simple, when all the boys were Daniel’s age or younger.  We bought the gifts, we wrapped the gifts, we barely even hid the gifts, no one asked any questions, and everyone was happy.

Joshua has been finding his gifts since he was four or five years old. I made up excuses (lies) to keep the magic alive. “Oh, that’s just your gift from us. Santa will bring you other stuff.”

We also always use the same wrapping paper. Caleb commented on it this year, “Mom, how come you and Santa always use the same wrapping paper?”

Oh, well, um…

But this year Joshua didn’t just find a gift or two, he found the mother load!!

“Mom, can’t you just go ahead and put all these presents under the tree?”

So we went ahead and put their one big gift and one little gift for each boy under the tree. I’ve bought five total for each boy.



They were so excited. Joshua made this giant present tower. Have you ever seen anyone else do that?

I figured Daniel would get caught peeking, and then they’d see why I can’t put all the presents under the tree. Joshua kept begging me to put them ALL under there. To my surprise, Daniel and Joshua have been supremely well behaved about the whole thing! However, I caught Caleb peeking, and J.D., one afternoon, with NO SHAME whatsoever, ripped open two presents.

Needless, to say, no more presents have been added, and the tower has actually come in handy. The boys pile the small presents, which interest J.D., up at the top where he can’t unwrap them.

It’s all rather ridiculous, because even through alllllll of this confusion, they STILL believe in Santa. Joshua even caught me shopping on Amazon. He’s nine, so I even tried to hint to him, “Well, Joshua, you know you DID find your presents. What do you think that means?”

Joshua got scared, “I’ve been too naughty, and I’m not getting anything!!!???”

(What!???  Not what I meant!!!!)  “Nonono, sweetie, that’s not what I mean at all. I’m saying, Joshua…”

Alan stepped in, “We buy the presents,” he said softly, as he hugged Joshua, “I’m sorry, Buddy.”

Joshua looked at us blankly.

We waited quietly, for it to sink in. We thought maybe he got it.  Nope. Still believes.

The next day, another gift for J.D. arrived. The rain had destroyed the box, exposing it for what it was.  I said, where Joshua could hear me, “I can’t put this under the tree. I’m going to put this in my closet, because this is a Santa present.”

Suddenly, it all clicked, and Joshua full on panicked. “What! Mom!  There’s no Santa? He’s not real? It’s not true!!!!????” where ALLLLL his brothers could hear.

“What!? Sh sh sh sh Joshua, go to the laundry room, and stop saying that, you’re going to scare your brothers!’

I didn’t know what to do. I was weak, and I did not enjoy that scene that I’d just witnessed, so I said, “Joshua, the Santa gifts are arriving here early because we are having Christmas here early, remember? Christmas Eve will be too late.”

It was all too easy. He was very quickly soothed.

OH! But now I have the guilt of a liar. 🙁 Now that he’s nine, it all makes me a little uneasy. The Santa magic has been so fun. I LOVE making a really HUGE, BIG deal out of Christmas. In Bible times, they always had great feasts and parties and exchanged gifts to mark events where God had provided for them. Why should Christmas be any different?

Of course, I don’t suppose they created any fictional characters in all of those Biblical feasts….

Sigh. This is one of the hardest things I’ve faced as a parent yet! Isn’t that silly? I don’t want to crush Joshua!

I figured the myth out by the time I was seven. Santa was a great big deal to us too, but neighbor kids told me he wasn’t real, and when I asked my mom, she just said, “Well, what do you think?” I said, “Well, I mean, I know reindeer can’t fly, and it doesn’t really make any sense.”

Mom said, “No, you’re right. He’s not really real.”  She didn’t make a big deal of it. It was still a shock, though. I quickly said, “But wait, then the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy…”

It’s such a major milestone in a child’s life.

Now I feel so guilty for perpetuating this Santa thing. I don’t want to kill the excitement of Christmas. They DO know the true meaning is all about Jesus’s birth, but still. Killing the fairy tales of childhood seems like a thing I do no want to do, you know?

So what say ye? How did ya’ll handle this?  I’d love to hear your stories.


felt tree

Our classroom tree: a felt tree that Caleb decorated with pretty gifts at the bottom and the ornaments. Joshua did the candy canes. Caleb has a surprising eye for making things look nice.


olaf drawings



Caleb worked hard on this Christmas with Olaf picture. Love it! 2 Olafs. The black rain is supposed to be snow.


another new thing this year: Joshua and Caleb are LOVING wrapping presents. My job keeps getting easier!


Our Christmas present tower cracks me up. Joshua definitely thinks outside the box.

We also couldn’t figure out where to hang the stockings, since we don’t have a fireplace. The boys solved that problem this morning. They hung all four stocking ON the Christmas tree. (pic to come later) Haa!


kids wrapped presents                                                 gift wrap by Caleb 🙂

I did ask Joshua, “What are you most looking forward to about Christmas?”

He replied, “Jesus’s birthday and the field trip.”

“Huh? What field trip?”

“You know,” he said, as he pointed to the calendar, to the day marked for Alabama.

“Oh!!!  Yeah!”

I’m getting excited too. 🙂

Now let’s hear your Santa advice!!




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