Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Word of the Day is "Flexibility".

First, I'm sure you have noticed the new look. :-) I want to thank Amanda at Royal Daughter Designs for the amazing "face lift" she gave the blog. She is AWESOME. Be sure to check her out, and like her on facebook.

"Little Mark" and I are break this week. We, FINALLY, finished 8th grade last week, and we will begin 9th grade on September 8th.

I am now ending day 3 of my break, and this is the first time I have stayed up past 10:00 pm. I have managed to sleep in some. This morning I actually slept until 8:00 am. UNHEARD of for me. 1) because I don't like sleeping that late. It makes the rest of the day drag on, and I feel like I have missed most of the day when I could have been productive. I end up taking longer to get dressed, get my morning routines finished, etc. 2) By that time my back hurts from being in bad too long. Guess I'll have to do better about staying on my schedule; that way it won't be so hard to adjust when we begin school again. :-)

Speaking of school, we haven't even started yet and I'm already making changes to curriculum and our school calender. :-)

I sent a question to Alpha Omega regarding their Monarch program (which I was very excited about using) The nice person who responded sent me a side by side comparison of Monarch vs S.O.S. Most I knew, but a couple of things I didn't. So, I decided to stick with S.O.S. again this year for some of the subjects.

Also, we switched around our some of our days off, added some extra around Thanksgiving, and because we finished 8th grade 2 days later than planned we are starting 2 days later than planned. SO, this means we only get 3 weeks off in December instead of four. (Have I lost you yet?)

This is why I do my lesson plans/calenders in pencil. Again, "Flexibility" is my motto. ;-)

"Angel" has begun second grade, and comes over 4 days a week for me to tutor her. At least I try. She is in a dual language class, after all, and I remember very little from my ONE YEAR of Spanish. So far, I have remembered most of what she is doing this week, so I'm able to "hang in there." Of course, this is only the second week of school, so we'll see how long I last. :-)

And, that about completes my week. I have not been all that productive. I have mentioned to read the Sunday School lesson I will be teaching in a couple of weeks, but have not written it.
I read it while "Little Mark" was in his orthodontist appointment. The braces come off October 3rd. PRAISE THE LORD!!! He's been waiting for this since the day they put them in, over 2 years ago.

So, really, the last couple of weeks have been uneventful.

Well, except for the snake.

The BIG snake.

The one my brother found in the air conditioner closet a week ago tonight, that the policeman let go of, so it went in our attic!!

We are believing it is gone now. We have NO evidence to this, other than the fact that we have not seen it, and we are CHOOSING to believe it is gone.

Please, do not ruin our fantasy by telling us otherwise.

It is just a chicken snake, according to the policeman (And the animal control who were NO HELP because they are not allowed to go into the attic.) but, a snake is a snake in my opinion.

And enough about that because I will be going to bed soon and I don't want to dream about snakes. Thank you very much.

Y'all have a safe Labor Day weekend.

Wendy Darling

Friday, August 19, 2011

Curriculum Round-up, 2011

Most of you won't really care about this post. But, DeeDee (at Fiddledeedee) is having a curriculum round-up today. And, because I don't really have anything worth posting about right now, and because I don't want to feel like I am the ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD CRAZY ENOUGH TO DO THIS "HOMESCHOOLING THING", I am going to participate. :-)

So, sit back and enjoy.

I have had the pleasure (most days) of homeschooling my nephew for about 12 years now. (And yes, I'm getting an eye twitch realizing I just typed 12 YEARS).

I was VERY idealistic (or is it overwhelmed?) when we first began. I was truly blessed with so many people giving me curriculum, and "created" my own using a little from each one. I pulled from KONOS, Weaver, various "store bought" books, etc. I did that for about 2 years.

I do NOT recommend you do that. For pre-K to 2nd grade take advantage of things around your home, your public library, multicolored blocks, craft supplies and M&Ms. That's really all you need for the first couple of years. Just sayin'.

After a few years of "trial and error" with curriculum, and spending too much money at book fairs, I finally got a good grasp of what works for us, and stayed in that direction.

I've pretty much used the same curriculum for the last few years.

Bible/History and Geography/Language Arts

I use Switched on Schoolhouse by Alpha Omega. My nephew LOVES computers. He always has. If he had his way we would have done all of our subjects on computer. But, I didn't want him sitting and looking at a monitor the whole time. And, since he really is a hands on learner as well, I wanted something more well rounded. So , we use other curriculum for the other subjects.


We have used Math U See for several years now. I have to confess we were a little late getting started with math. I did it on my own, for awhile. You know, the basics of adding and subtracting. (He loved subtracting, because he got to eat the Goldfish or M&Ms.) But, since math is NOT my best subject, I definitely wanted to go with a curriculum that was a good fit for both of us. A great friend introduced me to Math U See.

All I can say is, "Hallelujah!!" Steve Demme is amazing. THIS is how I should have been taught to do math when I was in school. Maybe I wouldn't have freaked out when they through letters in with the numbers.

I love that there is a DVD and that each lesson is appropriate for all learning styles. It has been a Godsend for us.


Abeka is a really great, Christian curriculum. We were very blessed when a friend gave us the curriculum they no longer needed.

For a couple of years I also used "Considering God's Creation." This is a wonderful, hands on science curriculum that teaches science in the order of Creation. It can be used for grades 2-12. There are a lot of options for assignments at any grade level. My favorite part was the "Evolution Busters". This brought everything back to the Bible to show how only God could have hung the stars in the sky, and put together the complex wonder known as the human body.


For reading I just use books we have, or those from the library. I began buying classics at used bookstores or curriculum sales a LONG time ago. I get lesson plans for them off of the internet, or if I don't find one I like then I purchase one from our Christian Bookstore.

For spelling, I choose words from the other subjects. I did use a spelling curriculum when he was younger, but another friend showed me that it is more practical, and economical, to use words from things he is already doing. Made sense to me.


As you can see from my awesome grammar/punctuation skills I do NOT handle the writing. That job has been passed on to my very intelligent brother. :-) He uses Writing Strands. He also handled the reading this last year as well. Yes, he ROCKS!! :-)

Good Citizenship

For this I have used everything from visiting policeman and the fire station to voting. My nephew has attended every election I have voted in since he was 4. He gets to see the ballot, watches me vote, and then we discuss why I voted the way I did. I always stress to him that voting is personal. It reflects MY beliefs, which may not always reflect his. The important thing to remember is that YOU vote YOUR beliefs, and you stick by them. But, know WHY you are voting that way. Don't vote for someone just because they are the most popular, etc. I believe he has a good handle on that subject. I also used a unit study that taught about our entire legislative/voting process, but can't remember the name. Sorry.

This last year we also used "Drive Thru History America". If you have not had the pleasure of seeing a Drive Thru History video, hosted by Dave Stotts, then I encourage you to do so. He is just quirky enough to hold the attention of almost anyone, but really gets the facts to you so you will remember them. I have learned just as much as the nephew has. The DTHA really focuses on the character of 9 early Americans, so that students learn not only more about the sacrifices made for America to become a nation, but about the character traits they need to become better people.

We've also used various things for Unit Studies, etc. And, he has had other subjects through our co-op, such as drama, Astronomy, etc.

P.E. has always been a "freelance" thing, I guess you'd say. We've done everything from karate, playing in the park, attending a gym, water aerobics, and just playing on the Wii.

Like a lot of homeschoolers, we school year round. My goal has always been to take all of December off, and be finished mid July, so we can have a 4-6 week break before beginning the next "school year." Of course, there are other days "off" thrown in there as well. It doesn't always work, but it's what we aimed for.

I've also done the 4 day school week, as well as the 5 day school week.

Now that we are entering his Freshman year in high school (there goes the eye twitch, again) I will be making some changes.

Switched on Schoolhouse will be changed to Monarch. It's pretty much the same things, but I don't have to deal with installation CDs. We will also add Science to the Monarch mix. We will go 5 days, and our goal is to have all of December off, be finished by July 31, and have August off, and of course there are scheduled holidays/days off throughout the year. Even a week off in April and 2 weeks off in June.

Lest you think he is chained to a desk in a dark room this entire time, let me assure you he does have outside activities. He is very involved at church and 4-H. He also does more than his fair share of volunteer work. As a matter of fact, we have cut back on activities this year, because we were both a little "overloaded" the last couple of years. And, since I am a little more than anxious about homeschooling high school (eye twitch) I felt it was in both of our best interests to take some of the pressure off.

Because there are not enough M&Ms in the world to help with that kind of stress.

Hope you saw something that helped you, and I pray you have a very exciting year of homeschooling your family. :-)



Monday, August 01, 2011

Blogs I read...

Well, I told y'all I'd be back with a list on Sunday or Monday. It's Monday, just a week later than planned. :-)

In my busy schedule I do try to take a little time for myself, and there are a few blogs I read regularly. Some everyday, some a couple of times a week, and some whenever the owner of the blog has a new update.

I'm rather eclectic, and there are many blogs I read, all for different reasons. Some give me a much needed laugh/smile every time; some are nostalgic and bring good memories. Others are informative or creative, and I love to learn new things, while some are inspirational and uplifting. And others? Well, they just help me to feel "normal" because, like me, they just want to feel like they are reaching the "outside world", but not on a "political crusade."

Does that make sense?

And, I especially love the ones that use more run on sentences than I do because then I don't feel like the lamest person on the earth who should have flunked English instead of getting an A or B.

Which would be why Little Mark's Uncle handles the Writing subjects in our homeschool.

Thank you very much and AMEN.

So, if you feel like trying something new, you might give these other blogs a try. :-)

The above three are the very first blogs I ever started reading. I don't even remember how I found them, but I just love them. :-)

If you haven't heard of Ree Drummond, AKA "Pioneer Woman" then let me introduce you. :-) I began reading her blog in '08 or '09, can't remember. It started when someone recommended her "love story" she had entitled "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels". I thought it was very fitting. :-) She was putting on her blog, a chapter a month I think. At least it felt that way when you were waiting for the next chapter! Yes, I was one of the women waiting at the computer in my PJs on Saturday morning when she said the new chapter would be up by 8:00 am.

I have no life; thank you for pointing that out.

(You can now purchase it in book form, here) Or her cookbook here.

OR her children's book here.

I have read them all, and own the cookbook. (LOVE the cinnamon rolls and chocolate sheet cake.) OH, and the jalapenos. (Sweet mercy, they are AWESOME!) I do make one change to the recipe though. I throw in a bag of real bacon pieces instead of wrapping it in bacon.

Did I mention the are AWESOME? I also make a change to the cinnamon rolls which you can read about here.

The woman can do it all. And she homeschools and runs a cattle ranch with her husband. Did I mention they are also turning Black Heels to Tractor Wheels into a movie? Yep, they are. Ree will be played by Reece Witherspoon. If she has said who is playing her husband I must have missed that post, but I have some great suggestions. :-) OH, and she will have her own show on Food Network very soon. They already filmed the episodes.

I want to be Ree when I grow up.

I have to admit, I don't read PW everyday anymore, because HELLO, there is a lot there. But, it is informative and fun. And, she still writes like she always has, even though now she's "famous."

OK, more links:

This one is fairly new to me, but I am loving it. :-)

Again, fairly new to me, but great info.

I love reading my friend, Amanda's blog. :-)

And my friend, Vera's blog. :-)

This one is also new to me, but I LOVE the craft projects she shows. I especially want to make THIS.

My friend, Julie, is always uplifting and inspiring. :-)

There are others that I read and recommend, but I'll stop here for now. I hope you enjoy them, and find something that interests you. :-) I know they will appreciate new visitors, just as I do. :-)

Wendy Darling