Wednesday, June 23, 2010


That's how it's been since we started a new year of homeschooling this month.  And I'm loving (almost) every minute of it!  We've settled into a nice routine.

At 8:30 a.m., I work with Cakes at her reading, writing, and math.  Then, starting at 9:00, Bean and I do math and language arts (reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and story time).  We break at 11:00 in the morning, when I make lunch and the girls have playtime.  Lunch is at noon.  Then, at 1:00, Bean does a quick math review worksheet.  Then, the two girls have instructional time together.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, we have science and art; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have history and music.  School ends at around 3:00, when we unwind (and have phys. ed.) with a quick dip in the pool, followed by getting supper ready, eating, relaxing before bedtime, and then bed.

On Monday, we learned about earthworms and set up an earthworm farm to see how worms mix the soil to help plants grow better.  I got an absolutely fantastic book about worms at the library that is a must-read for any kid interested in worms.  It's full of fantastic information about worms, great collage-style illustrations, and big, easy text.  It's called Wiggling Worms at Work, and I highly recommend it (you know it's good, because I used a lot of italics in the description)! 

You know we're all "yankees," but when I read that all worms are both male and female at the same time, Bean let out a huge, Southern, "WHAT?!" that made me laugh out loud.  That was one of her favorite pieces of information gleaned from this amazing book.  Other useful tidbits include the benefits and uses of worm poo,  the fact that worm eggs incubate for three months in cocoons (they are relatives of the butterfly, after all), and why it's bad for worms' skin to dry up.

And, Peanut just emerged from my bedroom chewing on a nipple shield, which is my cue to get off the computer and get started with my day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Bean was rather reluctant to wiggle her tooth.  She said it made her mouth feel funny.  She was content to let her first loose tooth (a bottom canine tooth, which I thought was a little weird for a first loose tooth, but what are you gonna do?) wobble about on its own while she went about her daily life.  But, that all changed when she had a chance to impress someone who was not related to her.

Big Daddy's business associate, Mr. Kobe, was over working on a bid with Big Daddy.  Bean saw her chance to show off a little bit, and she set to work wiggling her tooth for him.  Well, Mr. Kobe acted so excited that he got her worked into a near frenzy, and she finally gave that tooth a good, hard yank!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


If the girls are generally helpful during the day and do a clean sweep of the living room and their bedroom before bedtime, they each get a quarter.  Weeks of saving resulted in a trip to Super Target yesterday to spend the change that was burning holes in their pockets.

Bean picked up a Sleeping Beauty Barbie and Cakes got an Ariel Barbie.  When we got home, the cherubs shut themselves in their bedroom and played for five hours without one fight!  It was heavenly!  Makes me want to buy them a new Barbie every day ....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


As you know, we started homeschooling Bean this past year.  We're loving (almost) every minute of it!  There are, of course, the occasional days when motivation is sorely lacking on the part of my cherub.  But, for the most part, she has been an enthusiastic participant in learning.

I know there are many homeschool philosophies out there: unschooling, classical, Goddard, Montessorie, etc.  It's worthwhile for anyone who is serious about homeschooling to take some time evaluating each philosphy to find out which is the best fit for his/her own life view and his/her child's unique personality and learning style.  Classical education turned out to be the best fit for us.  It relies heavily on the written word, uses original texts rather than scholars' interpretations of those texts, and accentuates the fine arts.  Using The Well-Trained Mind as a guide, we are coming to the close of our first homeschooling year.

While our particular school district requires enrollment by August 1, we choose to have school year-round.  I don't like the idea of summer undoing everything I have worked so hard to teach, and I don't want to spend the first month or so of every year reviewing last years concepts.  So, we start our school year in June, and Cakes will be joining Bean at the kitchen table for her studies.  Since we're almost halfway through May, I'm scouring the internet for my curriculum and getting that high that comes from sniffing pencil shavings and new binders.

For those who are interested, here is a list of the curriculum I will be using this upcoming year:

For Cakes, we will be covering the basics (sort of a pre-school level education).  For math, we will be using Saxon Math Homeschool for Kindergarten, complete with the K-3 manipulatives kit.  Bean enjoyed it immensely, and my little Cakes is a very hands-on kind of kid.

For reading, we will be using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  It is a phonics-based approach that makes teaching reading unbelievably easy.

For handwriting, we will be using the Handwriting Without Tears book Letters and Numbers for Me.  We originally tried the Zaner-Bloser curriculum, but Bean's fine motor skills were better advanced with the Handwriting Without Tears program.

Class for the first year usually only takes 45 to 90 minutes per day, and was a great way to ease Bean into her state-mandated four-hour school days.

Bean, having mastered the basics, will begin to branch out beyond just the three R's.

We will continue to work through the remainder of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, but we will supplement her reading education with The Bob Books, Dr. Suess, and any other simple children's books that I think she can work her way through with relative ease.

We will also start grammar lessons with First Language Lessons, and spelling lessons with Spelling Workout A and B.

We will move on to Saxon Math's Grade 1 homeschool kit, which builds directly on what was learned in the Kindergarten kit.  Fortunately, the manipulatives kit is good through third grade, so there's no extra purchase required.

We will also start learning history and geography, beginning at the beginning with the Ancients.  We will use The Story of the World Volume I with its accompanying workbook.  Supplemental materials include Blackline Maps of World History, the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, and the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History.

Science will begin with the study of plants, animals, and people, and it will be very hands-on and experiment-oriented.  The curriculum we will use includes Green Thumbs, the Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia,and the Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia.

Bean will be introduced to the fine arts with a study of classical music and its composers, a study of various artists, piano lessons using John Thompson's Teaching Little Fingers to Play, and art lessons using Drawing with Children.

Both girls will continue with dance lessons and community soccer for physical education.

What do you other homeschooling parents use for your curriculum?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Back when I was dating Big Daddy, I had very few expenses and a very spoiled pooch.  Malik and I had matching coats and sweatshirts (yes, I was one of those people).  I used to take him to PetSmart and buy him whatever he sniffed interestedly.  I also used to get him all manner of gourmet dog treats: carob-dipped rawhide lollipops, vanilla yogurt drops, doggy breath mints.  And, Big Daddy used to make me laugh by sampling every pet treat I brought home.

Big Daddy was always an adventurous eater, whereas my family and I were run-of-the mill eaters. Big Daddy would try things at restaurants that I would never dream of putting in my mouth!  I, on the other hand, would find one dish I liked and order the same thing every time.  After we got married, I would impulse-buy little interesting tidbits for him at the grocery store (like alligator and stuff).  And I was always experimenting with our gourmet cookbooks; some of the meals were disgusting, but some were really good.

I guess Big Daddy has lost some of that adventurous culinary attitude in the past few years, because he was less than impressed when I came home with these:

Those would be frog legs.  And they looked like someone had cut a very little person in half at the waist.  There were even little toes *shudder*!  But, because he loves me, he reluctantly breaded and fried them up.  Let me just tell you, I have never smelled anything quite so objectionable!  And I live near cows and horses!

I, of course, refused to taste them, but Big Daddy tried them.  He said they tasted like a chicken wrapped in a fish.  The spectre of a frog was with him the entire time he tried to eat them.  We ended up throwing them out and spraying copious amounts of Oust around the house.

And, thus ends the era of adventurous eating.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


As the daughter of a retired English teacher, I am always looking for ways to expand my children's vocabulary.  We have a plethora of books for ages birth to 5 years, which are available to the cherubs any time, but we also read more advanced books every night at bedtime.  It's part of the classical education model.  I've been surprised at how much the girls are starting to pick up from the books in terms of plot and vocabulary.  We just finished reading "A Little Princess" and are working through "The Secret Garden" now.

In reading, Bean just finished a unit on vowel combinations that produce long vowel sounds, and she likes to define the words as she reads them.  One of the words she learned to read recently was "male."  We talked about the difference between "male" and "mail," and about the opposites "male" and "female."  Apparently, Cakes was listening closely, because today she announced, "Uncle Ney is a male, and Aunt Kimmy is a email!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


When I was younger, I always said I wanted to marry a guy with curly hair.  When I met Big Daddy, his hair was short and straight.  Little did I know that his sister, a cosmotologist, had recently straightened it.  I remember seeing the roots start coming in curly and yelling, "You have naturally curly hair?!"

Needless to say, I strongly urge him not to get his hair cut short (even though he frequently comes home with drywall dust or fiberglass stuck in his 'fro), because I think his hair is so beautiful.  Occasionally, he'll go all out to make my day by doing something like this ...

How awesome is that?!