A Happy Season for Me: Wrapping Up Homeschool Year 2

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

 

Beauty, Joy, and JD Sings in Latin

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“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”  –Lady Bird Johnson

Spring is one of those things you can’t help but notice. That’s the way it is with beauty. It is inspirational. When beauty surrounds you, you can’t help but feel better.

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I took this photo on my walk the other day.

It’s funny how on my sick days I often feel too miserable to want to do chores, but I’m rarely feeling bad enough to not want to go out for a walk in the sunshine. It’s positively healing, isn’t it?

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Even paths that lead to nowhere look best in spring.

I think that when you are surrounded by small, needy preschool darlings, (And they are darling. They can’t help that they are needy), you need to frequently step away for at least 20 minutes to regain perspective. It’s a battery re-charge that is REQUIRED to go on providing love to others. My favorite place to re-charge is a walk.

Nature is so obvious with its beauty. The Lord’s handiwork surpasses anything man can make. I’ve never been as inspired by concrete as I am by a good cliff or a stately tree. And yet, also, I love what man does with a green space. I’m always inspired by gardens of order and symmetry. Wild nature or well tended gardens, I love it all.

Do you know what else is obviously beautiful? Small children.  I’ve been mommy-ing for 10 years. I’ve rarely been truly depressed in that time because these little devils keep me so busy and challenged and yet so darn happy!

I can remember only one phase of feeling depressed, and it was during my second pregnancy. But we had just moved. Alan had to work long hours, and it was just a bad combination of hormones + circumstances. Plus, I was pregnant, so even though my depression was caused by hormones, I couldn’t take anything for it because I was pregnant.

Thankfully, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and with the pregnancy hormones gone, I was actually happier postpartum than I had felt in years. (I do realize it’s usually the opposite that’s true. I am grateful it didn’t hang on.)

These children bring us so much joy.

 

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Dan, exercising his brain, also beautiful.

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learning to blow bubbles under water

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Little minds at work. Work, minds, work.

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JD and his locked up latch board. He was quite proud of his accomplishments on this board. Don’t you love it when they are excited to accomplish things?

 

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I passed this cat on my walk. I’ve always thought cats were prettier than dogs. Sorry, dog people. I will always be #teamcat.

 

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Confession: When feeling sick, I sometimes unashamedly let them watch too much t.v. Also, I love Peppa Pig.

 

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The day I took this photo I thought my living room was so messy. Now I’m looking at it and thinking we were doing pretty good for four kids. Don’t you think?? I should chill.

P.S. How cute are my new Clarks loafers? And they are oh-so-cozy!!

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JD, the ultimate Classical Conversations toddler, playing his tin whistle

I feel like JD is the quintessential Classical Conversations little bro toddler. We have to keep up our CC memory work next year because we’ve come too far to let it go. Next year, the big boys will be going to a Christian school. Daniel will be going to a neighborhood kindergarten, and JD will be home with me, but I still hope to keep up the CC memory work.

Let me tell you what JD walks around the house singing lately:

“us, us, ui, um, uuuuuu”

Yep, those are Latin noun endings, I forget which declension that is, but still, I think it’s hilarious that my two-year-old is walking around singing Latin.

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I’m taken with these trees. Lovely in the day time, haunting in the evening.

 

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my little ball player, tracing his w’s

I hope you are all having a great week. Alan and Caleb just got home from baseball practice. It’s Alan’s final stretch in completing his thesis, but you know Alan, that didn’t stop him from signing up to coach both Daniel and Caleb’s baseball teams. He’s also still teaching TNT boys at AWANA on Wednesday nights at church. He could probably use prayers even more than I can!

But we aren’t fooling ourselves. We know that we’re living a beautiful life here in California. And today we are counting our blessings, and thanking you all for always being so supportive.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.”     Psalm 98:4-6

 

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because this old picture just never gets old to me *hehehe*

Okay, one more quote, because this one is just too good to not leave you with:

“Imagine a world without beauty and dare to say that the beauty is vanity.”  –positivethesaurus.com

Beauty isn’t vanity, is it? It serves a purpose, and beauty is no less of a gift than any other.

 

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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I love, love, love to watch him color.

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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)

 

 

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