Friday, May 27, 2011

Jake wants tests

Tonight is is the night in between the two day homeschool convention and some of us are getting fired up for next year. Jake has been waiting eagerly to do American History and I am going to put together my own plan using the best parts form a handful of literature based curriculums. I bought a little American History book today, and Jake is eagerly reading it. He's wondering where the tests are though. I googled American History tests for Elementary students and will copy and paste some sites here. I was going to do it the old fashioned way and just write it down on a piece of paper, but I will probably lose the paper. If I just book mark it, it might not be long for this world because of our computer struggles. If blogger ever loses this, I'll have much bigger concerns than where my tests went. In other words this is probably the safest place we've got!!

This is actually and AP American History test, but that is in Jonathan's future and was fun for me to look at.

Looks like all kinds of History quizzes here.

The above and others can be found at

There's also...

That's enough for tonight!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've got 4 kids here clamoring to get to Islands of Adventure, but I've had this post brewing in my head all morning and I have to get it out of there. First of all, yes 4 kids, our long distance "daughter", Anjali, who we took care of from when she was a toddler until she and her mom moved to New Mexico 7 years ago is here for the week. Madi had put on facebook that she was at the airport picking up her sister, and I was quick to point out she is not her actual sister. I'm not sure why I'm so concerned people will think Mike or I had other children (we didn't, we don't), but anyway I digress.

This post is about perspective. Sunday morning before Mass I was chatting with a woman whose oldest child is Jake's age. She was asking me about curriculum. My first thought when presented with this question is always to talk about Jonathan and Madi. I had to first remind myself that her oldest child is eight. So I got around to talking about Jake using Catholic Heritage this year, and then talked about Five in a Row. She was curious about that so I did the same spiel I've been doing for the past 10 years. "You read the same classic children's book for five days in a row and each day you discuss a different topic. So if you're doing Madeleine you might talk about 12 little girls in two straight lines and you might give the child 12 pennies and have them line them up in two straight lines, blah blah blah. Or if you're doing Mike Mulligan you might talk about how the author gave Maryanne (the steam shovel) personal feelings and that is called personification. At this point the woman pretty much freaks out on me. "Oh my that is way more advanced than what I am doing, I've never even mentioned personification", and assorted other kids of freak out talk. Then she says, all I do is have my daughter (second grade) read a book of my choosing and write an essay on it every day. Ummm, my high school and middle school kids don't do that very regularly. So I try to explain she doesn't HAVE to teach her 8 year old about personification, and the actual five in a row lessons can generally last as long as it just took you to read about them. Then I continue with, "I must be explaining it wrong because it is not too advanced at all, it is made to meet children of all ages and levels wherever they are while at the same time introducing them to great books". It's all about perspective!

There's also the "high school diploma" talk which seems to come up at least weekly these days. "If you're registered with the county, aren't you concerned that your child will not get a diploma?" I'm attempting my spiel for this one too, but it doesn't seem to flow as easily as the five in a row one, and as you can see even the five in a row one can get misinterpreted. First of all a high school diploma can be printed just as easily from our home computer as it can from the school down the street. Secondly, a high school diploma is not the end of the road. The plan thus far is that my kids will go to college, but even for kids without that plan, hairdressing school, firefighter school, mother of ten, all of these paths have their own training (well the mom one is on the job training). I sometimes go into my lecture about how I raised my kids without cribs and baby bottles and big yellow school buses, so I can raise them without a high school diploma too. This often freaks people out and they get caught up in the no crib thing (not to mention the bottles). All of this might sound to some like my not caring so much about a diploma (a piece of paper) means that I don't care about their education, or worse that my kids won't be educated at all. If anyone thinks that, they really haven't been paying attention because our whole life is education. More specifically, MY whole life is my kids' education! The point is, colleges are eager to admit homeschoolers, they are generally well educated, well rounded, more mature, self starters, well spoken, with a myriad of other positive characteristics. A complete and well written transcript, letters of recommendation, an interview, and test scores are things that colleges look for, not the piece of paper. Perspective again!

Now back to our "4th child for the week". Anjali has been here since Friday night. Saturday morning I made donuts and had the girls cut up watermelon. I'm not sure that the kids ate lunch Saturday because we had an early dinner of homemade pizza before heading to the theatre. Sunday morning the kids had to fend for themselves for breakfast and then we put out some leftovers and cheese and chips and salsa and hummus for lunch between church and the Sunday matinee of Camp Rock. For dinner we had rotisserie chicken from Publix and salad and corn. Yesterday they were on their own for both breakfast and lunch and then we had leftover chicken and corn and a "bag meal" from the freezer. This morning while I was making waffles, Anjali said to me, "It is so nice that you make all of the meals for your family, I love that!" PERSEPECTIVE!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sort of like a daybook

As anyone who knows me knows, I'm all about the ipod. I can do quick checks and even quick responses to anything that needs immediate attention. I can check blogs, facebook, email, and listen to the daily Mass readings, without leaving the comfort of my bed, or while standing at the kitchen counter making waffles. I can't so much post on my blog though. Well I can, but it's generally more work than I want to deal with. This afternoon I'm here on the regular computer because a bunch of needs have piled up... printing information about our vacation next month, finding the exact times of an event at theatre tomorrow (where they will be getting a potentially sizable grant delievered to the theatre kids by Mickey Mouse himself), and when a friend's flight lands on Friday night, and attempting to renew books from the town library (as opposed to the county ones){you can't if they're overdue...and they are}, and looking at the professional photos of First Communion {not surprisingly they're the kind of pics that you can't just save onto the computer} Anyway, I had things to do on the computer and here I am!

I was going to do a daybook kind of post, but don't feel like copying and pasting the prompts, so I'll do my own.

Outside my window...we are getting more and more birds all the time. I'm loving it. The first five years that we lived in Florida, we were right behind two strip malls and yet we had tons and tons of birds and even an ocassional duck ot turtle. Plus we cannot ever forget the snake that showed up for Madi's 4th birthday party! For the last six years we've lived a little more "out of town" with a bigger yard, but since our neighborhood was new (including the trees) we had almost no birds. Now they are finally coming! The best part is the window is still wide open, even as we approach the end of May! We have had three different cool fronts over the past few weeks and each time I open the windows I am well aware that it could be the last cool air we have until October, but then we get another gift of cool perfection. Apparently this is it though and in two days we should be back in the
90s, very likely that will last until I am the mom of a 16 year old.

From the school room... there is no true school room around here. We learn and read and grow and play all over the place. But metaphorically speaking, from the school room, we are winding down. This year is definitely different from others in that the kids are finishing up different subjects at different rates. At this point I would say that everyone is done with about half of their subjects. This is supposed to make the rest go faster, but with days like yesterday where we left the house at 9 and returned at 7, it's hard to tell if that's working. To be honest I returned home at 4, but was babysitting a one year old, which can hardly count as being home, and the kids didn't return home until 7.

All three kids took standardized tests this year. They all did well, but one of them really excelled. To the tune of 97th percentile excelled. Yes, this is the first you've heard about it because I'm trying not to brag (I know that in itself is bragging, I get the irony). The real irony is that I'm not talking about it because this is the kid who really keeps me humble. The one who I just learned is teaching his friends bad words. Yeah, that's the kid who I've been saying I was glad he didn't know bad words because he'd definitely use them. Remember last year when one of my kids earned a really major award at an end of the year banquet and then the other kid got an award and the whole time he was up on stage in front of all the people, he was balancing plastic cups on his head...that's the one! The one who doesn't say hi to people, and has a real hard time with please and thank you. The kid who still has two suitcases in the front room because he was going to run away when he was displeased with last week's American Idol results. I think you get the picture. Well anyway, the tests showed us the things we need to work on. It showed where two of the kids might be deficient and where I am deficient for not expecting much more from the third one!

Well open windows and school progress, what else is there?

Camp Rock opens tomorrow night. I think this is going to be a really fun show. I have not seen a minute of the acting, but I got to hear some of the songs when the kids performed at chick fil a the other night.

The kids and I just finished listening the another really good Andrew Clements audiobook, Things Hoped For. He is really a great author. Even though everyone had other perhaps more pressing work to do, we just kept listening this morning until we were done. It was that good! Somehow we never seem to have the downtime we crave, but so far this summer looks a little less busy than usual (that might just be because I still haven't gotten the hang of filling out the calendar), and I'd really like to spend some lazy-ish days with the kids listening to books on CD and doing puzzles.

Well instead of talking about what is from the kitchen, I better get down there and make the enchiladas (thanks Tiffany for the cheese!).

Monday, May 16, 2011

The First Communicants Singing

Jake's up there somewhere, from where we were sitting his was the only face I couldn't see.

Jake's First Holy Communion May 15, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Homeschooly stuff

This is really for my own interest, but if you want to click on it be my guest. I just found an interesting post about homeschooling high school with living books and it intrigued me. I also found a thread about historical movies and copied down a whole bunch of American History ones on a piece of scap paper that was sitting by the computer and then I realized I could just link to it here.

It is May and in our homeschooling world that means two things. One is thinking about next year's curriculum (and the upcoming convention). There's something about next year's work that just seems so much more exciting than this year's still unfinished work. It helps that next year will involve American History for both Jake and Madi (and World History that will culminate in American History for Jonathan). The other is as busy as life is all year, May seems to be at least ten times more. May is like December, or as I like to call it life on steroids. On that note, break time is over, time to get back at it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Easter Pictures

Good thing the Easter season is fifty days because it took me almost that long to get the pictures on here!!

What's new?

Well, first I'll start with what's old... here are a bunch of pictures of things that we've been doing and not blogging about.

What's new? I guess it depends on your perspective. Nothing is really NEW, but there's always so much going on that I'm not finding (making) the time to blog about much of it. I was in the library the other day perusing the new arrivals and spotted two books about making the most of your time/ getting more out of each day. I didn't check them out though because I really want to try to figure out how to get less out of each day. Well not really "get" less out of each day, but "do" less each day. Time management is a good thing and one of my current goals is to work on that more around here. The thing is though, generally speaking we really get a lot done on a daily basis and are professionals when it comes to squeezing more out of every day. I just want to continue to do that and still find huge chunks of time left over for reading, relaxing, etc. I think the summer will help. As homeschoolers we are often asked if we school though the summer. I have a hard time answering that one (it is kind of like how many hours do you school each day-- generally somewhere between 1-24 hours depending on the day and the person asking the question). At the start of last summer Jonathan's math wasn't yet complete. When he finally finished that in July, he began two of his virtual school classes. So in that sense he definitely did school last summer. But I'm one of those peole that believes that learning happens all the time, so no matter what we decide for classes, my kids will continue their education this summer. My word of the year "HOME" has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of what seems to be a never ending commute between home and theatre, home and church, theatre and church, the library, the gym, theatre again, and an ocassional drive down to Universal (if I were blogging more I'd have a whole post about how we are so much more Disney people than Universal people, but since I'm not blogging much, you'll have to take my word for it). Anyway, in keeping with the "HOME" theme we are most likely not doing two big acitivites that have been a part of our summers for the last few years. One is kids' college (not just because we're trying to stay home more, but also because it doesn't fit with our schedule this summer-- one session overlaps with our family trip to Delaware, one session overlaps with Jonathan and Madi's mission trip, and one session overlaps with the only Theatre summer camp the kids are doing this summer... this is all good because around here we sometimes need to be forced to say NO). The other thing we are probably sitting out is the free golf clinic and tournaments that Jonathan has done for the last 4 years and Madi for the last 2. We probably could squeeze it in, but we're trying not to not do as much squeezing at the moment. I'm also thinking that posting this here will keep my from changing my mind on this, sort of keep me accountable.

More things that are coming up in our future that may or may not get some "air time" on the blog include...

1. Mother's Day tomorrow (Happy Mother's Day everyone!!)
2. Jake's First Holy Communion next Sunday the 15th (he's really getting himself ready for this, he's asked to go to daily Mass quite a bit this week {and we made it there twice} and he's been praying the Rosary every night. His CCD class had a retreat last Sunday and it's gotten him really excited for his big day.
3. Friends that moved away last summer will be in town this week and we're hoping to spend a lot of time with them!
4. One of Madi's first friends who moved away about 6 years ago will be spending about 10 days with us later on in the month.
5. Camp Rock performance in 2 weeks.
6. Jonathan and Madi are part of "Senior tour" at theatre, this involved writing a play about Conservation and performing it at area elementary schools. They have had two full days of performances so far and have one more coming up this week.
7. Homeschool Convention at the end of the month.
8. Getting new sod (again) at the end of the month.