Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hi, it's me again!

I know I have been MIA for ages.


It's been so long that I can't perfectly articulate why I stopped blogging but I do know that my desire to be living alongside my family fully was an influence.

I've never blogged for money, though I was blessed for a time to review curriculum. Because I was never hoping to use this blog as a platform to support my family, I never had an intensive schedule to keep. And yet...I still felt like it was pulling bits and pieces of me away. And so I felt strongly that I needed to withdraw from the virtual world back into the real world. To be with my family for the sake of being with them and not for the photo ops and like collecting. 

I hope that makes sense.

That said, I love looking back at my posts and reminding myself (particularly when those pesky self doubts that I never seem to outgrow assail!) that we have done some spectacular things along the way. Our homeschool has been growing and changing and becoming every day. Every year. 

I can't help but smile when I remember being adamantly convinced that I would never homeschool my children. That I could never. It takes a special cloth and I wasn't cut from it. 


Isn't that like the Lord, though? 

 Not that it's all unicorns and cuddles, mind you. But it is all meaningful.

Trevor, my youngest, is still what I like to call blended-schooled. He attends the local public school half days for his therapies and reading and math. At home I work on the enrichment piece with picture & nature study, along with read alouds and simple piano lessons. I am in love with his Frog and Toad addiction! Bristel is now in 5th Grade and has an unwavering conviction that she's to be a doctor.  And somehow I have a Freshman who, while daily creating "I could strangle" him moments, also takes my breath away with his rich thoughts and glimpses of the man he's growing into!

As for me, I've felt myself drawn more towards Charlotte Mason's approach more than ever. I've always been Charlotte Mason at heart but I find that it's reaching into more of how and what we do. Two of my favorite resources have been Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason .

I'm not sure how actively I'll blog (my FB page is more active). But I do expect from time to time to share thoughts and pictures, if for no other reason than to create a virtual memory journal for myself.


I hope and pray that your homeschool is filled with grace and peace and beauty today...and this year. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

his 8th grade curriculum


My ability to blog has become increasingly limited as life has become increasingly full. But a sweet friend shared the other day that she peeked at my blog hoping to find a curriculum list and I thought, well, gosh…I could do that. Before I share though…I want to make sure you know this list is my *ideal* list. Inevitably some things will work and some won’t as we move through our year. I’m experimenting with keeping our work in binders too. Hopefully that will help us stay more organized! Also, because I’ve grown to deeply believe that learning happens all.the.time there are many organic learning opportunities through out the day that aren’t listed with our curriculum. Like chores or helping make meals or caring for their brother. Or for instance, the kids have neighbors over playing a mad game of monopoly right now! Not in the lesson plans, but I’m happily nixing the Science I had on the agenda for today. Because I just really buy into the idea that organic learning is so very vital. Seize the moment, right?


Memory Work

Daily: 15 minutes

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 iPad app

I love the idea of classical learning. If it weren’t so pricey I would definitely plug the kids into a local Classical Conversations group. But alas, it’s just not in our budget. Which is why I was over the moon to find the Foundations apps on iTunes! I have the kids listen and recite the memory work with the app every day. It’s a great (and affordable) way to infuse some classical into our daily routine!



Daily: 15 minutes

Building Excellent Character Step by Step Kindle book

He’ll read the book above (along with Scripture) daily until complete and then move into something else. I love the Kay Arthur inductive studies. So maybe I’ll grab one of those. Or maybe I’ll just have him read through various books of the Bible.

Speaking of organic learning, I also include our family worship, church and his youth group involvement as part of his spiritual and character nurturing.



Daily: 45-60 minutes

We’ll continue through Saxon 1/2 as well as joining the Math Counts team. If he completes Saxon 1/2 before the year is over I’ll have him move on to No Nonsense Algebra…which I’ve had shelved for just such a time.



Daily: 15 minutes

We’re going to follow Easy Peasy’s Grammar program (FREE) which includes using the living book Grammar Land. We started reading Grammar Land two years ago and he really enjoyed it. Once he’s completed the Grammar Land unit study I’ll move him on to Easy Grammar. Because I already own it. Although I do have my eye on Sheldon’s Advanced Language Lessons (FREE) too. So maybe we’ll do that instead of Easy Grammar? I’ve become very go-with-the-flow in my homeschooling mommy old age. Wink.



Daily: 5-10 minutes

We’re using the Wordly Wise iPad app (FREE). The idea is for them to listen one day, write the words in a notebook another day, definitions next day and use in a sentence the last day.



Daily: 10-30 minutes

I’ve so dropped the ball on the writing thing. Every year I give myself grief over it and decide I’m going to sign him up for a class or a co-op or something. Because I’ve been an epic fail with the writing piece. But it just never pans out. Because of our youngest son’s profoundly complicated medical needs…we’re on a fixed income. This means we need to use serious wisdom and weeding out when we make financial decisions. Usually, we decide that we just can’t swing a class financially. But recently I feel like the Lord gave me another little bit of liberty in helping me understand that we’re on a fixed income in other ways too. Because Trevor’s needs are so intense it limits how much running around I can do too. He has daily therapy which is doing him so much good and also requires me to be present. I just can’t logistically or financially make a writing class work right now.

Which is why I’m using Jump In by Apologia. I already own it and the format is very independent and easy to follow.

Annnnd…we’ll doing doing daily journaling together. Meaning mommy too! I’ve already gathered a couple of printable journal prompt calendars for us to follow.



Daily: 60 minutes

He’ll do Read Theory (FREE) daily. I love Read Theory because it’s independent little reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary building test prep. It tracks progress too! We’ll also follow Easy Peasy’s reading program for this year.


History & Geography

Daily: 15-20 minutes

I was so sad and annoyed that Mystery of History changed their format from an all inclusive book to separate reader and activity book. Honestly, I was so disappointed that even though we loved Mystery of History I and II…I decided to move away this year. If we do go ahead and purchase Mystery of History in the future, it will only be the reader. I’ll just have to use Pinterest for activities. Part of the draw for me was having everything all together. Less to manage. Also, the price has now almost doubled. Sigh.


That said, the Lord provided a history curriculum for free! We’ll be using Currclick’s Timeline Project (FREE for now) to create notebook timelines. And a friend was giving away Christian Liberty Press’s Exploring American History.



Daily: 15-20 minutes

Our homeschool day always starts with a morning meeting where we gather on the couch and watch CNN Student News together. My kids have really grown to love this program! And the anchor, Carl Azuz is a really great positive role model.

He’ll be working through Georgia Virtual Learning’s American Government course (FREE) and reading Our Constitution Rocks through out the year.

In the Spring I’m hoping that he can attend our local Teen Pact workshop.



Daily: 30 minutes

Co-op once weekly 60 minutes

Some crazy friends convinced me to help coordinate and lead a co-op around Apologia’s Chemistry & Physics. Crazy me agreed! We’ll be meeting for an hour once a week at our church. Actually, I agreed because it’s much more likely that the experiments will happen in a co-op setting than in our home. It’s just too easy to let it slide! And experiments are something I missed out on when I was a kid…so I really want the kids to have this.

I’ll be having him follow Easy Peasy’s Physics & Chemistry (FREE) course as well.



Daily: 30 minutes

I signed the kids up for a beta HTML coding class because it’s free and I want them to learn as much programming skills as possible. That’ll run for the month of September.

After that, he’ll move on to Khan Academy’s programming course (FREE). He has expressed a keen interest in learning animation and coding.


Foreign Language

Daily: 30 minutes

We’re using Easy Peasy’s Spanish 1 (FREE).


Fine Arts

Piano Daily: 15 minutes

Art/Music Study: once weekly 10-15 minutes

We’ll continue using Hoffman Academy’s Free Piano Lessons for Kids. I have them watch and work on one lesson each week. I really can’t say enough about how much I love this program! Not only is it FREE…but Mr. Hoffman is an amazing teacher!

In addition, he’ll be following Easy Peasy’s Year 4 (FREE) art and music. studies.

I do own See the Light Art Class. We’ve been through about half of the program and I’m hoping to squeeze in the next half this year. It’s really a WONDERFUL program if you can’t afford or have access to art classes taught by professionals.


PE & Health

Once Weekly: 15-60 minutes

He’ll finish our Total Health Middle School curriculum for health.

Physical Education for him will include weekly ice skating at a local private school that opens their rink to homeschoolers for free! It’s such a wonderful gift! He’ll also be playing basketball for a local Christian school as well as a town team.



Once Weekly: 30 minutes

I purchased The Fallacy Detective this year and I’m hoping I can convince a couple neighborhood kids to join us at our place one afternoon a week for a Logic Club.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

sharing happy



I have often felt a guilty pang sharing the happy moments.


Sharing Happy 1


Because of Trevor’s medical challenges I am very sensitive to those that are living some of the darkest moments of their lives right.this.very.moment.


Sharing Happy 2


I never want anyone to feel like I’m rubbing our “happy” in.


If that makes sense.


Sharing Happy 3


It also drives me bonkers that people see a snap-shot in time and so easily believe it represents the whole.


Trevor has many, many happy moments.


I cherish them deeply. He has taught me how to appreciate glimpses of beauty in a way that would never have been possible without him.


Sharing Happy 4


But our happy is always mingled with tragedy.




In so many of those happy moments we see glimpses of the boy he could have been…


and our hearts smile-grieve.


And long deeply for the day when Healing washes over him…and us all.


Sharing Happy 5




coupled with distorted perceptions…


could never share the whole story.


But nothing other than living IN the story can ever fully capture it.


my cuties


This past year in particular…I have been overwhelmingly drawn to embracing the happy moments. Cherishing them even more. And sharing them too.


Maybe it’s because Trevor could have died last year. Indeed, his sister still has nightmares that he did. So scary was that night.


Maybe it’s because we’ve faced some other real health scares this year as well. The kind that effect Trevor but don’t belong to him.


Sharing Happy 7


Maybe it’s because this world is so saturated with sadness and groady and bitterness on every side that sharing our happy moments with each other isn’t only sweet…


Sharing Happy 6


it’s necessary!





These thoughts have been swirling in my heart for a while. Sharing them today was inspired by this post. Which you should totally read!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How We’re Using All About Spelling Level 2: syllable marking



I made the switch from Abeka to All About Spelling this year and have zero regrets! Even though I was tempted to skip forward, I am SO happy that we started with Level 1. She sailed through the first book but it laid a great foundation AND helped us both develop our flow. Flow is important in our home.


We aim to do AAS lessons four times a week. She loves AAS because it’s one of our subjects that she knows I’m with her the whole time. She does quite of bit of independent work these days…but is a sappy head like me and still enjoys our together time.


While I glance over the lesson & prep anything that needs prepping, I’ll have her busy sorting and organizing all of our letter tiles in ABC order.


Typically, once I’m set, we’ll do a little review work. She’s a big fan of me letting her be “the teacher”!

I do have a full set of the tiles. I use and encourage others to purchase them! You really need them. And though there are ways to make your own (I’ve tried) the quality of the product is worth the investment! In fact, I’m planning to buy a second set this year! But now that we’re further along, I find myself utilizing her mini white board more often. The great thing with AAS is that you’re encouraged to be creative!


In this lesson you can see I mixed tiles with whiteboard marker.

This is a review of syllable division concepts she’s learned. She loooooves the little cards. They have really helped root the “rules” in her mind…which helps her spelling globally. It’s always so cool when you see your child generalizing (using what they learned in the real world) concepts that you’ve poured yourself into helping them catch!


Because I’m such a HUGE fan of All About Spelling I’m also an affiliate! That means if you purchase curriculum via my link – I make a small commission! 



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easy Peasy: his 7th grade language arts


I’ve had quite a few questions about how I’m using Easy Peasy with the kids. I’m sure there are a lot of moms like myself. Curious. But hesitant. Because it’s free. And anything that’s *easy peasy* AND free must not measure up, right? In love


So I thought I’d keep writing the occasional picture marathon post. I’m visual so pictures always make it better. Although, you’ll have to pardon the blurry photos. I love great photography but my new smart phone makes it waaaay too easy to snap & upload. My poor Canon Powershot SX20 is busy collecting dust.


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I’m still a fan of Sue Patrick’s workbox system. We continue to use our workbox totes. I really like Sue’s downloadable grid (free, along with other printable when you purchase her e-book).

I’ve tried a bazillion other methods of organizing and tracking their work but this one just fits us best.

So the picture above is a sample of today’s work load for my 7th Grader. I write his daily tasks – he then highlights as completed. I’m not going to line item everything listed. I really just want to focus on Easy Peasy in general…and how we’re using it for Language Arts in specific.

On line seven of his list you’ll see: EP – 60. That represents Easy Peasy Day 60. We started using Easy Peasy late in the year. He knows he needs to navigate to the Easy Peasy website then click on Level 7th and find Day 60. I expect him to complete everything listed for Day 60 minus Math & Foreign Language. We are using Easy Peasy for our Foreign Language too but he is on a different level.


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So, for today he needed to read the second part of chapter 7. He’s looooving Call of the Wild! And then take the quiz.

He then needed to write for 20 minutes. He chose to write a story using five vocab words.

I consider Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, Spelling and Grammar all part of his Language Arts program. All work related to any of those will live in this notebook.


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I quickly learned that using a notebook would help us keep his work organized & tidy. Some Easy Peasy students have a binder with tabs dividing their subjects instead.


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When applicable, I have him type his work in Word and then print it out. We then cut and paste the page into his notebook. The effect is kind of scrap book-y. He digs it.

The first weeks of Easy Peasy’s Language Arts program is always poetry. After that the focus is more literature & writing.


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There is not always printable work or even written work to add to the notebook. And really, if you don’t want the expense of printing you don’t have to print at all. You can teach your child how to screen capture and then copy & paste the screen shot into a Word doc for you to review later. It’s just easier for me, personally, to have them print out their work and keep it in a notebook.

The Easy Peasy Language Arts program can be a little confusing at first. Spelling is only occasional and consists of vocabulary words. Vocab words are taken from the current book. Grammar is spotty. Where Easy Peasy excels is the quality literature choices and the writing requirements.

Because my 7th Grader struggles with grammar I do supplement. This year we’re using Digging into Diagramming every other day & Daily Grams which we had left over from last year. I have him do his diagramming right in his notebook.  


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I am definitely an Easy Peasy fan! The more we use it – the more I’m loving it! I’m super excited for his 8th Grade Easy Peasy program which will include GrammarLand. We had started reading it aloud last year and never finished. He really enjoyed it though…so I know he’ll be excited to see it on his docket.

If you have any other Easy Peasy questions please don’t hesitate to ask me either via email or our Raising Little Rhodies facebook page.

Happy Homeschooling!




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