Week In The Life (“Rock Me Amadeus”)

February 6, 2016

Or runner up title, “seeing red” thanks to the Red Dinner from Downton Abbey, because that was a huge part of our discussions this week. :)

Well, my last post was getting a bit long so I decided to split this week’s post into two parts.

Language Arts


This week we read the book, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Sky loves this, and actually purchased it for herself), and started The Land of Stories, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, and The Magic Tree House, A Good Night For Ghosts.

We listened to the fairy-tales The Princess and the Pea, The Nightingale, and Thumbelina at Storynory.com.

We also started our grammar lessons with the Basher books Grammar, and Punctuation.



Sky typed her book review of The Darkest Part of the Forest.


The girls finished copying, and we discussed the poem, The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe.




(Little Sis)


assailed, estate, marrow, desolate, entombed, vast, discordant, ghastly, rapid, throng


Both girls warmed up at XtraMath.org.

Sky, continued learning order of operations. Little Sis, continued learning 2 digit multiplication with 4, 5, and 6s.


(Pictured with Sky’s independent reads.)

We are still on a Yahtzee kick. We play the regular way, we play where you have to go in the order of the sheet, and we play all 6 games at once, so you can place your roll anywhere you want on the sheet. You need to fill in all the Yahtzee boxes before adding the extra 100 points. If you get at least 1 Yahtzee and all the others have been marked out, you can still claim the extra 100 points. It adds a bit more of a challenge, you need to think where you want to fill in your rolls. Little Sis still kicks our butts no matter how we play.



If you watched Downton Abbey’s episode this week, I really don’t need to say much more about it.

The funny thing is, we just got through watching The Red Wedding episode from the Game of Thrones series the night before. Since I’m reading the series, and Sky knows everything that happens, Papa was the only one not expecting it. Downton on the other hand, took us all by surprise.


We learned about Mozart this week. We watched the documentary, The Man Behind The Great Symphony (YouTube), then I printed off a sheet and the girls came up with facts they learned about him.




Papa and I are huge fans of music, so the girls were raised with Mozart. They can actually tell who is who within the first few seconds of a song. When Little Sis was learning her alphabet, when coming up with things that start with the letter B, she said Band on the Run. She was 3 or 4 years old.

We also watched a short video summery of The Magic Flute.


We watched PBS’s Mercy Street. Another “red” episode.

Fine Arts

Theater Appreciation:

(small screen)

We watched  Faerie Tale Theatre episodes Thumbelina, The Nightingale, and The Princess and the Pea.

We watched Grease Live. Believe it or not, the girls really didn’t care for it. Not because they thought the actors did a bad job, they were great. They just didn’t care for the whole story-line. A different generation I guess.

We also watched the movie Maleficent.



This week we tried drawing Maleficent (Dramatic Parrot YouTube),


and more drawings from Sky.






The girls had homeschool gym this week.

Peace for the journey.

We Are Homeschoolers

February 5, 2016

Usually, about halfway through the school year, our local homeschooling group gets new members with questions about pulling their child(ren) out from school. This week, in one day our group received 12 questions from new homeschooling parents. There was several more throughout the week, but to receive 12 in 1 day was a new record.

I’ve been seeing more and more new homeschooling parents lately in my other on-line homeschooling groups as well. I can’t say I am shocked really. Our state I-Step scores this year were the lowest in 20 years.

In most cases, the parents pulled their child out from school do to learning issues, bullying, but more and more I am seeing children with anxiety disorders, and I am not talking about high school children either.

I try to answer questions when I can, but honestly I am so busy jumping through college hoops with Sky, there is no way I can answer them all. Most of the parents have no idea where to even start, and are coming from a “school” mindset. Their first question is usually always about curricula. A lot of the parents have little or no money to spend on a big package, they didn’t think they ever would be homeschooling.

I have been homeschooling for quite a while now, what you read here did not happen overnight. I too was once a newbie, terrified of the journey we set out on. I too, had a “school” mindset. I remember asking a parent, that I was lucky enough to meet face to face, about curricula, and lucky for me that mom used Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. She explained how reading, was learning, and how playing was learning. She explained how their children learned how to write, and how you did not need curricula to learn. I am so thankful for her advice. It has saved us big bucks!

I have never used curricula, it can be done, and homeschooling does not need to cost tons of money. So, paying her advice forward, hopefully this post will be helpful to someone.

For starters, we are a low income family (if you couldn’t already tell). Our home is under 1000 square feet. When the girls were little and shared a room, I took one of our bedrooms and made it into a schoolroom.

(Wow, this seems like ages ago.) Papa made everything (including the blocks), besides the dollhouse, that was mine as a child.

Well, guess what I discovered? We were never in our “schoolroom”.

childrens museum 518

We were in the kitchen,

conner prairie 149

we were outdoors, pictures 813

and we were on the couch. Learning can not be contained to one room. So, we made the schoolroom back into a bedroom.

Does our home look like a “normal” home when walking inside? No, but then again we are not a “normal” family. Yes, I have chalkboards hanging on a kitchen wall, and games stacked up on top of our kitchen cabinets. There is a basket next to our kitchen table that contains workbooks, and notebooks, and folders, and you can not walk into a room without running into a bookshelf, or a stack of books, or movies, or video games. We are homeschoolers.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on curricula, I built a home library. I spent money on a laptop to get rid of our desktop computer. We purchased tablets for the girls (best investment of the year) to read e-books from the library (Yep, must have a library card) to save space for only our very favorite books (ones that get read over and over again). I purchased games, puzzles, art supplies, or any kind of kit that looks fun.

pictures 1653

In order to get e-books, audio books, movies from your library (OverDrive.com), you need internet access. If you have the internet , you have access to a goldmine of free resources, like YouTube.

I love painless learning place mats. They fit perfectly in the corner of our kitchen table, and are laminated to take the abuse they get from constantly being pulled out, or placed over a wet spot where someone had their glass.


(You can see them hanging out in the corner, along with the workbook basket, on the left,  and under that is home to our binders. Our kitchen table has bench seating that opens for storage of my cook binder, chalk, glue, pencils, scissors, individual chalkboards, sharpener, painting tablecloth, erasers, or anything that gets used a lot. Under the benches are decorated office copy paper boxes, where the box is spray painted and the lid is covered with material, that contain all our art supplies.)

If you have read here at all, you’ve seen pictures of our history timeline binders in action. I like binders because they hide all our paperwork, they take up less space than a real timeline running across our home, and are much easier to add information you might have forgotten. I was lucky Papa was able to snatch up boxes of binders for free, but Target seems to be the best place to buy binders.

If we have paperwork, that must mean we have a printer. Yes, along with a three hole puncher.


I use my chalkboards everyday. I have white boards, now residing on our refrigerator, but they just don’t look as cool, or pretty hanging on the wall as a chalkboard.

Now, the girls are old enough to know what interests them. They are able to research movies, books, even game consoles that they want, on their own. “Mom, I like these pens best. Mom, can we go to the bookstore? I want to buy the book Twilight. Dad, could you build me a bookshelf in my room?”

This is when the fun really begins. That’s when you can begin to relax, and realize everything will be alright. Honestly, the girls don’t need Papa and me as much anymore. They can cook, ask for directions, walk into a store and buy what they need, and get proper change back. They know how to find information when they need it. They know how to be independent, and that has always been my goal to begin with.

They will learn, we never stop learning. Life is a journey, just like homeschooling.

Give yourself a pat on the back, and take a deep breath. You can do this. It will not be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. Before you know it, you will find yourself where we are. You will find your rhythm, and confidence.

Peace for the journey.

A Book Review By Miss Sky

February 3, 2016

Today I will be reviewing The Darkest Part Of The Forest by Holly Black.

In a strange town called Fairfold, where Folklore lives among the humans, a young girl named Hazel and her brother Ben wait for the sleeping horned boy, that lies in an unbreakable casket deep in the forest, to awaken.

Hazel is our main protagonist who longs to be a knight and fight the monsters that dwell in the forest. Her brother Ben was given the ability to become a great musician that ends up being a curse, instead of a gift.

I personally loved the atmosphere that the author created in the story. It gives a feeling of horror and wonder at the same time. I liked the mix between the ancient Folklore and modern times as well. Where the story starts to go downhill is, that the main characters of the book are bland, selfish, and stupid at times. I honestly didn’t care if they were going to be okay or not, and felt more sorry for minor characters, like the tourists, and even an antagonist.

I have a major complaint with the main character Hazel, I felt like she gives other strong heroines a bad reputation. Her “heroic sacrifice” to me, was selfish, stupid, and unnecessary. Even the modern plot twist couldn’t change my opinion of this story. I felt like there was so much potential for this story given its atmosphere, but instead it turned out to be a huge disappointment.

I really wouldn’t recommend it, and instead suggest picking up a book about Irish Folklore instead such as Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee.

I give this book 2 out of 5 stars because the author did do a really good job combining the Folklore with modern times.

Week In The Life (The Driest Place On Earth)

January 30, 2016

I finally finished A Feast For Crows, and am now well into A Dance With Dragons (Another 1100 page roller coaster of a ride. I am particularly a little pissed with a certain character’s demise in Crows, which will have a lot of influence on how fast I get through Dragons. ). I have found myself pondering what the heck I’m going to read while waiting for The Winds of Winter to be released. How does one simply move on from this series?

I’m not one to complain about having to wait for the next installment of a series. My favorite series, before reading Game of Thrones, was The Gunslinger series by Stephen King. When I began that series, I had no idea whether King was going to finish it or not. Especially, after he was hit by a car. Then, he finally did. Honestly, the conclusion felt rushed. Like he just wanted to be done with the series. I don’t want that to happen with Game of Thrones. So, until then, I will patiently wait.

I will say one thing, George R.R. Martin has spoiled me with his writing style. The girls and I just finished The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, and though I don’t want to say too much about the story because Sky will be reviewing it next week, it wasn’t an easy book for me to get through.

I’m not really a big fan of YA to begin with. Maybe, it’s because I am an adult that has no interest in reliving my teen years. Or, maybe it’s just not something I ever cared for. I went from reading Ramona to Carrie. I remember my teacher, I attended a private school through 8th grade, asked if my parents knew I was reading Stephen King. I remember thinking, why? What is the big deal?

I am a straight forward person, I have no time for drama bullshit. If you have something to say, say it. Not, “Oh I like you, but I can’t tell you”, crap. In this way, I feel sorry for Little Sis. I would rather go to the dentist than read Twilight. However, I did sit through each and every movie, because I love her. :)

I picked The Darkest Part of the Forest, because I thought since we were reading modern fairy-tale adaptations, it would be a better choice for Sky and me (Sky’s and my tastes are a bit more similar). Well, I was wrong.

Language Arts


The Darkest Part of the Forest had so much potential. The story was set in modern times where humans lived among the fairy folk. The story, contained some of my most favorite Irish and Scottish folklore. Holly Black did an amazing job creating this world.

The protagonist was a female that wanted to be the knight, and her brother could be the one to find his prince. Halfway through the book, it reminded me of a more mature version of The Spiderwick Chronicles. Also, it could have been condensed into a short story easily. Well, I will let Sky explain the rest in her upcoming review.

We read The Magic Tree House, Moonlight on the Magic Flute, and listened to Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid at Stornory.com.


The girls copied the next 2 stanzas from the poem, The Haunted Castle by Poe.


Words from the poem.

luminous, lute, Porphyrogene, realm, fair, surpassing, wit

I found an awesome word list containing all the definitions of words Poe used in his poems.



Both girls warmed up at XtraMath.org.

Sky continued working on order of operations in her workbook.

Little Sis worked on multiplying 2 digits, 2 and 3, in her workbook.



I read the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker guide, Penguins and Antarctica.

We watched the TedEd video,  Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about penguins,


and Penguins of the Antarctic (YouTube).

We checked in throughout the week on the penguins at Monterey Bay Aquarium, and was able to catch them being fed.



We also watched the NOVA episode Antarctica, Secrets Beneath the Ice.




World History/ Geography:

We watched the TedEd video on  The Arctic Vs. The Antarctic.

TED Talks The Arctic Vs. The Antarctic With Camille Seaman

I printed off a page of Antarctica for the girls to add into their world history notebooks (another continent checked off the list) ,


and we watched the movie Antarctica: A Year on Ice, and the Nature episode Penguins Post Office.



Then, there was Downton Abbey.


We are continuing with PBS’s new series Mercy Street. Sky is really getting in with this series. When it ended this week she was like, “What, already?”. The last series she was this into was Arthur and George.

Fine Arts

Theater Appreciation:

We watched  Faerie Tale Theatre, The Little Mermaid.


This week we attempted Ariel, from Disney’s Little Mermaid (Dramatic Parrot on YouTube).



Again, Sky took the lessons she’s learned to her own creations.






Walk Away the pounds.

Extracurricular Activities

The girls joined a monthly teen reading club. Little Sis is able to participate because she is actually reading YA novels too. The book choices, in the club for her age, are way to easy and boring to her.

This week the theme was dystopias, which the girls have plenty of experience with, and they played the game The Resistance.

Peace for the journey.

Week In The Life (Happiest Place On Earth)

January 23, 2016

No, not Disneyland.

Our second week back, and I think we are slowly finding our groove. Little by little, our days get longer preparing us for the upwards journey ahead. It also didn’t hurt that we started the year out with fairy-tales.

Last week, I mentioned our favorite, and least favorite books from 2015. This week, I thought I would mention my favorite, though kids might not agree, mathematics resources from 2015. We tried out a few different ones, before I found what really seemed to work for the girls.

Sky, is a visual, picture, learner. I’m a reader, which makes me a visual learner as well, but through different visual mediums. It can be a bit challenging to find  resources that can cater to both our needs. (Not real sure how Little Sis learns best yet, you just need to show her once and she is off.)  I love the Basher book series. The illustrations used are perfect for Miss Sky, and I love the explanations. They are a win, win.

Something else that I changed this year that has helped a lot, is having the girls warm-up at XtraMath.org (which is free). Even though both girls can add and subtract, they couldn’t add or subtract fast, very well. Sky always seemed to make a mistake here, a mistake there, and mistakes in mathematics will not give you the right answers. Since working at XtraMath, she goes days, days without making mistakes.

Add XtraMath with my favorite workbook series, Kumon, and what a huge difference they have made. I love the step building this series uses. It starts out with a review, then slowly builds up. Before you know it, you are at the end tackling problems that might have scared you before. Each step you learn, helps you with the next concept you will need to use to figure out the next set of problems. I also like, that the books are straight to the point. There are no wasted “filler” problems. If Sky were to get stuck on a concept, I could print off worksheets for her to practice before moving on. I don’t need wasted pages of repeating the same things over and over again. I know this sounds like a bloody advertisement (I think it even says so on the front cover of the workbooks), but Kumon really has helped Sky gain her confidence in math.

Okay, last but not least, what was my favorite game ? I want to start out by saying, all games are educational. Even Hungry, Hungry Hippo teaches hand-eye coordination. However, this is a game the girls would only pick to play during school. So ,not something they would play just for fun, and not their pick for favorite game.

I love using the game Zoom to practice mental-math. Sometimes, it’s a quick game that lasts 5 minutes. Sometimes, you think you have the game in the bag, then you draw a boom card and lose all your accumulated points. The game has never taken us longer than 20 minutes to play, and our brains are awake an ready to transition into school mode.

And since on the subject of school,


Language Arts


Our next fairy tale read aloud is, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. We read the first 10 chapters.

We listened to the Snow Queen from Storynory.com. We love BBC’s 2005 movie version of this fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. In fact, the girls prefer it over the original story if that tells you anything.

I read the bio of Hans Christian Anderson from Lives of Writers, and the girls came up with 10 things they learned about him.


We also read the Magic Tree House, Eve of the Empire Penguin.


The girls copied the first two parts of the poem, The Haunted Palace By Edgar Allan Poe.



Sky wrote a book review on The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman.


Words from The Haunted Castle.

tenanted, monarch, dominion, seraph, pinion, dallied, ramparts, plumed, pallid


Warm up at XtraMath.

Little Sis, Kumon grade 4 multiplication workbook. She started 2 digit multiplication.

Sky, Kumon Pre-Algebra workbook 1. She started order of operations.

The game of the month has been Yahtzee. Little Sis has caught the fever, and we have been playing it since our winter break.


History/ Geography


We watched Downton Abbey.

We learned about the happiest country on Earth, Denmark. I printed a map of the country, and we watched Rick Steves Europe, Copenhagen and Beyond Copenhagen (YouTube).


We watched Food Safari episode, Danish Essentials (YouTube), and learned the history of Lego.


We watched a few videos on Danish folk dancing.


We listened to Danish music.


For starters we watched the movie Our Friend, Martin (YouTube).

We watched PBS’s new series Mercy Street, which started lots of discussion throughout the week.


Our living history museum preformed a dramatization, based on real letters, of two brothers separated by their beliefs during the civil war at our local library. One brother fought for the Union, and the other for the Confederacy. The performers stayed to answer questions. This led to even more discussions. We also watched PBS’s American Experience, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.


The Arts


Continuing with our pencil drawing lessons, we learned how to draw Elsa from Frozen (The same YouTuber from last week’s Snow White. We will be sticking with her lessons.).


We watched the movie Snow White and the Huntsman.


We thought it was pretty good. It held both girls attentions. There was plenty of fighting for one, not quite enough romance for the other.


Walk Away the Pounds.

Peace for the journey.



A Book Review By Miss Sky

January 18, 2016

For this post, I will be reviewing the book, The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman.

The story starts with a spell being cast throughout the kingdom, causing the villagers to fall asleep. Once word reaches our main protagonist, our heroine slips into her armor and sets out determined to lift it.

Neil Gaiman has cleverly put together a crossover between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Instead, of waiting for prince charming to save the day, Snow White takes matters into her own hands.

The first thing that grabbed my attention about this book is, the illustrations. They’re very stylized  and pretty to look at. Some people complain that the main character is bland, I personally didn’t have a problem with her. In the past, characters in fairy tales have been left bland on purpose, so we could place ourselves in their shoes. I really liked the twist toward the end of the story.

I would recommend this story for anyone who enjoys illustrations , and people with an open mind for modern fairy tales.  I would not recommend it for small children, because some scenes may be a little too intense, but no worse than the original fairy tales themselves.

I give this book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Week In The Life (Once Upon A Time)

January 16, 2016

Happy 2016!

I decided to do something a little different from my usual end of the year review. While looking back, I discovered there was just too darn much, and I didn’t really feel like writing a bunch of posts while on break. So, I am going to wait until the end of August, the end of Sky’s 9th grade year, to add up all her credits.

I did however, count all the literature we read in 2015 though, and thought I would make a list of our favorites, and our worst reads from the year.

We read over 50 books (not including books we read individually), 18 poems, and 4 short stories. Since, this list is only composed of literature we read together, books like The Hunger Games trilogy are not included on our favorites list. Though, it one of Little Sis’s most favorite series from the year.

We started 2015 out reading Charles Dickens. Who would of thought, he would become one of Sky’s favorite authors. So, of course Oliver Twist made the list, along with Heidi, Faeries by Brian Froud (voted best illustrations, and artwork) , Little Women, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe.

Most surprising nonfiction read of the year was ,The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole In Many Lands. The most underrated fairy-tale, that made our favorites list, is The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. At first, you think, Oh, it’s just like every other fairy-tale, but no, it takes a completely different twist.

Favorite poems, hands down belong to the Bronte sisters. Which brings me to our runner up, Wuthering Heights. Little Sis loves this story, Sky and I found it a bit boring after a while. It was neither terrible, or great, but it held our interest until the end. I personally, love Anne’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall much, much more.

So, what made our worst list? These, are stories the girls have absolutely no interest in ever reading again. Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Reilly, and Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland by W.B. Yeats. It’s not that they found the true story of Red Hugh boring, just this particular story. Also, they didn’t find all the folk tales of Ireland boring, in fact they loved learning about selkies. Just after a while, they all started to sound the same. I wouldn’t recommend reading them all the way through, like a book. Instead, maybe pick one here, one there to read throughout the year.

Since, on the subject of fairy-tales, that is exactly what we started 2016 reading.


Language Arts, Exploring Genre, What are Folk-Tales?

We started our lessons, first by reviewing the differences between prose, and verse. Then, the elements of a fairy-tale, and it’s origin.



The girls took turns reading The Magic Tree House, Christmas In Camelot. I read The Sleeper and the Spindle. This story will for sure be on our favorites for 2016 list. In fact, Sky has requested this for her own collection. She already loves Neil Gaiman, but she loved the illustrations in this story too. I also read, The Sleeping Beauty by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


We listened, to both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (parts 1 and 2) at Storynory, and watched Revolting Rhymes, Snow White by Roald Dahl (YouTube).

American Literature


The girls copied the poem, Winter Moon by Langston Hughes.



We also listened to the poems Dream Variations, Theme For English B (my favorite), Madam’s Past History, Night Funeral in Harlem, and The Negro Speaks of Rivers (YouTube).

I read his biography from Lives of Writers, and we watch the Crash Course video about him.

The girls wrote down 10 things that they learned.


(Little Sis)



The girls warmed up at XtraMath, and worked in their workbooks. Little Sis ,is still in the review part of Grade 4, Multiplication. Sky, is working on Exponents, including fraction exponents. I think she has finally mastered fractions, and decimals (Yes!).


World History/Geography

We watched an amazing documentary, explaining how before the Romanian Revolution, American movies were smuggled in, and the impact they made. I highly recommend watching it. So many discussions, Sky couldn’t even believe that what she was watching could really happen.

Chuck Norris vs. Communism


Of course, we are watching Downton Abbey too.

American Civics/Government

We watched, and discussed our State of the State Address, and our State of the Union Address.

The Arts


We listened to Langton Hughes favorite Billie Holiday song, God Bless The Child (YouTube).


We watched the Faerie Tale Theatre episodes, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Sleeping Beauty (YouTube). I love this series.

We went to see the new Star Wars movie at theaters, but before we did we watched one of my favorite YouTubers, Brows Held High’s, video, Between the Lines, Star Wars. He did an amazing job telling the story through other movies.


Sky’s been busy drawing, as Little Sis and I have been busy reading (Though Sky received The Game of Thrones graphic novels for Christmas and has been reading too.)



She has been playing around a bit with pencil (she hates using pencil to draw, because her drawings get smudgy) and drew her manga self portrait.


Together, we followed along with how to draw Disney’s Snow White.

Our results?


Sky, has never liked taking instructions on how to draw. I explained she would need to learn in art school, so she might as well start learning now. I don’t think we did too bad for our first lesson. I think we need better drawing pencils.


The girls had homeschool gym.

Not a bad start to a new year, peace for the journey.

Week(s) In The Life (So Long, Farewell, 2015)

December 29, 2015

So, here I am behind again.

I hope everyone’s holidays were cheerful. It’s time for me to put 2015 to bed. Whew, so much happened this year, where is one to even begin.

It has been 4 months since my back surgery. I am finally able to say, that I feel like I did before I needed surgery (Yes!). There were times, when I didn’t think this day would ever come. I was a roller coaster of emotions. So, what else was there for me to do, but push our lessons hard. I’ve come to the conclusion that in 2016, we will take more time to come up for some air once in awhile. I’ve decided a few other things as well. Only time can tell for those.


We finished our Christmas school lessons, and are officially on break from school until January 11. That is, the girls are on break. I’ll be working on gathering all of Sky’s credits she’s completed so far. First things first though.

Language Arts


Week 1, we read several stories. Continuing with our Christmas around the world theme, we read An Early American Christmas, The Legend of the Poinsettia, and The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola.

We also read, James Whitcomb Riley: Young Poet (Young Patriots series) by Minnie Belle Mitchell (We actually really enjoyed this story, and learned quite a bit about Riley that I didn’t know.), and Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

I do want to add a warning about Stardust, there are 2 sex scenes in the story, one takes place in the first chapter. It’s pretty easy to kind of come up with your own words to skip the scenes if you wanted. Also, there is a bit of violence.

They way I see it is, if we can watch the Game of Thrones series, we can watch, or read anything. (I am always hiding my eyes during that show.) With that being said, we loved the story. It reminded me of a more grown up Narnia. So, my rating? This story would make a great read aloud and discussion for older children, younger children not so much.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, I am halfway through A Feast for Crows. I’m enjoying this book a lot. Now, that I am over the hump from A Storm of Swords, fans of the series will understand what I mean, I am eager to find out how the series will end.

Little Sis finished Divergent (she had to wait to start Insurgent, until after opening it Christmas.).

Week 2, we read  Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis, and The Lion Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Of course we listened to Twas The Night Before Christmas too.



The girls finished the poem A Christmas Carol by Longfellow.





The girls warmed up with Xtramath.

Week 1, the girls worked in their workbooks.


Week 2, we played the game Zoom,


and lots of puzzles.



(The girls completed one by themselves.)


We watched the PBS Nature series episode, Christmas In Yellowstone.




We watched a video(YouTube) about Las Posadas.

We finished the Advent calendar, and listened to how Christmas is celebrated in Iceland.



We continued learning with Scholastic’s scrapbook of holiday traditions. First, with how Americans celebrate a traditional Christmas,


then Kwanzaa.



We watched The Sound of Music sing along. Then, we watched the The Von Trapp Family Singers,

and Lady Gaga’s 2015 Oscar performance from The Sound of Music (She did an amazing job!) (YouTube).

The girls enjoyed playing the Beethoven game from Google.


The girls had homeschool gym.

Culinary Arts

We worked on a few traditions of our own.


The girls can completely make gingerbread cookies all on their own now. They didn’t need me for anything, except reading the history behind them.


We also made white chocolate covered pretzels.


Something new this year, I made Rudolf pancakes for breakfast Christmas eve.


I used Hersey Kisses for the eyes, and split a red grape in half for the nose.

The Arts

A local radio station played a live version of a local performance of It’s A Wonderful Life radio show. They also aired a performance of Dickens, A Christmas Carol. We listened while we made pretzels. They did an amazing job.

We watched an animated Ukrainian Fairy Tale of Nikolai Gogol’s “Christmas Eve” (YouTube) (It was completely in Russian with English subtitles. ), and Fraggle Rock episode 22- The Bells of Fraggle Rock.

We also watched Behind the scenes of Disney’s Snow White that aired on ABC, BBC’s 2005 live action version of The Snow Queen (Beautiful, the girls highly recommend it.), and the movie Stardust. This is setting us up for our winter study of exploring fairy tales.



Sky had been drawing away,



and the girls made Little Sis’s room into a movie theater.


(Their list of movies)


(A new movie for Christmas.)

We had a great Christmas. Little Sis and Sky made me a book of free verse poems and artwork,


and Papa’s present was for us to play one of his favorite games as a family, Risk.


(Little Sis won, I think he found a challenger.)

We’ve been playing new games as well.


(Pizza Party)

Wishing everyone a Happy 2016,

Peace for the journey.


Week(s) In the Life (Celebrations, Come on)

December 13, 2015


Our Christmas shopping is done. That’s reason to celebrate, right?

Also, I finished A Storm of Swords. Whew, what a ride. I, am already over 100 pages into A Feast for Crows. Little Sis, is a quarter of the way through Divergent. So, between the shopping, and reading, I find myself behind on writing. I really don’t like getting behind, it always takes twice as long to catch up. And, we have been busy.


The theme for Christmas school this year, is holiday celebrations around the world. We are counting down to Christmas with an on-line Advent calendar, learning how different countries celebrate Christmas.


Sometimes, it is hard for me to remember that I am homeschooling a 4th grader. She is so mature for her age, it is easy to forget. It is a little too easy for me to put the cart before the horse.

Sometimes, it is nice for a 9th grader to be able to take a breather. Sometimes, I need to remember to breathe. Sometimes, I need to remember to enjoy life. (Sometimes, a margarita, or two, can be helpful. :) ) I mean, the whole point of Christmas school, was to feel less stressed about doing school during the holidays.

Language Arts


Week 1:

We read and listened to The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum.


Week 2:

We read Child Rhymes by James Whitcomb Riley.

We are also reading, listening, and discussing  Christmas short stories, including The Gift of the Magi, by American author O. Henry, and Christmas Storms and Sunshine, by British author Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell. Both, are wonderful examples on how to write the perfect short story. We also learned how to identify point of view, and mood.



Speaking of Christmas stories, I thought I would list the girls’ favorites, since they are a bit older, and our stories have grown a little longer.

Little Sis’s favorite Christmas story is Little Women, she lists The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann as a close second (She is such a romantic). Sky’s is The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Neil Gaiman and Dickens are her favorite authors. My fingers are crossed that Gaiman  will write a Christmas story (please, please) , until then we’ll read Stardust.

My favorite stories are The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, and The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.


The girls are copying the poem Christmas Carol, by Henry W.Longfellow in cursive.

I like to have the girls write out  Christmas lists too. I keep them in their binders, so we can look back on them. It’s fun to see what the girls’ interests are year to year. For instance, last year was all about My Little Pony. This year, is all about Game of Thrones, and The Hunger Games. Boy, what a change. :)


Warm up at XtraMath.

Week 1:

Continuing our study from the book Math, A Book You Can Count on, the girls plotted coordinates, and plotted a line graph.





They have an assignment to keep track of how much snow we get during the winter. So far, with temperatures being in the 60’s, a white Christmas looks doubtful.

Week 2:

They continued working in their Kumon workbooks.



We took a tour inside of the home where James Whitcomb Riley lived as a man.


The home is furnished exactly the way it was during the late 1800’s (some serious eye candy), including the original cobblestone road.


It was interesting to see how updated the house was with the latest technology. He had electric and gas combined fixtures. In case of power outages, he could switch back to gas.



World/ Geography:


Week 1:

We learned how Europe celebrates Christmas by watching Rick Steves’ European Christmas Story(YouTube).

We also watched The Coolest Stuff on the Planet, Oh, Christmas Tree.

Week 2:

We learned about Hanukkah. We watched Mysteries of the Bible – The Maccabees: Revolution and Redemption (YouTube).

We read an interactive scrapbook on how Hanukkah is celebrated.


We also made Latkes.



We watched Dolly Parton’s inspiring true story based on her life, Coat of Many Colors. I have to say, first I love Dolly Parton. She is extremely talented. There has not been any other songwriter, that could bring tears to my eyes the way she does. Second, I love the family programming NBC has been airing lately.

We seldom watch commercial television.  Our television channel is always left on PBS, with the exception of Papa watching football on Sunday. Thank goodness, the Colts played during Sunday Night Football, or we would have missed some great programs.

Theater/ The Arts:

Which brings me to The Wiz live, the girls and I loved it.

We also learned about the history behind British Pantomime.


We listened to Dick Whittington and His Cat (A pantomime audio play).


We listened to the story from Storynory, and learned about the myth behind the story.


Then, we watched IVT’s panto of Dick Whittington.

The girls,  myself included, found it hilarious. We can’t wait to watch more shows.

Then, of course we watched a few of our favorite Christmas movies, including The World Of Peter Rabbit & Friends – The Tailor of Gloucester (YouTube), and The Year Without a Santa Claus (Prime).


There is a special on stop motion animation that plays after The Year Without a Santa. This inspired the girls to make their own stop motion videos, using their POP vinyls and DS, and Sky is still creating her own creatures.



The girls had homeschool gym, and skating.


I think that about wraps it all up. I mean, Papa and I celebrated our anniversary, there was a dentist appointment, and driving around looking at all the decorations.


The usually business of life.

Peace for the journey.


A Week In The Life (It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas)

November 29, 2015

Which is why, I need to post our lessons from last week ,before we start Christmas school.

I hope everyone, in the states ,had a Happy Thanksgiving. Something, that I’ve learned on this homeschooling journey of ours, is to not even attempt our regular school schedule during the holidays. The girls are distracted, I’m distracted, it just doesn’t work for us. Thus, Christmas school was created. All “lessons” are geared toward the holidays, and we focus more on having fun.

Usually, St. Nicholas brings a new game, Christmas puzzle, Christmas movie, and Christmas story on December 5, but the girls are getting older and stories are getting longer. So, St. Nick visited us a bit early. :)

For us, Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. Papa gets the tree before the girls wake up, we eat Thanksgiving leftovers for breakfast, then decorate the tree. We watch our city’s Circle of Lights celebration on television (Indianapolis, decorates our war monument with lights in the shape of a Christmas tree, then turns them on the day after Thanksgiving.). Then, we usually kick the Christmas movies off,  by watching the movie A Christmas Story.

I am getting a head of myself though.


Language Arts:


We finished both the Bridge to Terabithia and the Song of Hiawathia.

The girls took the quiz for the Bridge to Terabithia at SparkNotes.


We discussed the conflicts from the story, and the elements of flashback, and foreshadowing.

I decided to cut their last essay assignment. It seamed pointless. Instead, I am waiting until the new year. We will be digging into writing composition a little more.

The assignment will still be about character change, but they get to pick which story, and character. Little Sis chose the Hunger Games series, and Sky chose the Fire and Ice series (Game of Thrones).

I dislike pointless writing assignments. I do understand why certain assignments are given. You’re building writing skills. You learn to write by jumping in and writing. Since, that is the case, it doesn’t really matter what topic the girls are writing about. It’s about them learning those skills. At least, they can chose what they want to write about, for now.

Not to sway too off subject again, this was part of my point, from my last post. I want the girls, to enjoy learning. I want the girls, to want to read. If I instill a dislike for reading and writing now, they will always associate those feeling with those tasks. There will be plenty of time for them to detest writing later.

Learning, can happen from anything, anywhere, at anytime. From the good or bad.

I could easily come up with a study using the My Little Pony television series. There are tons of connections in that show. Why, I “preach” so much, about not being negative toward your child’s interests.

For example, the girls and I watched a video of the story, ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving.

They found it hilarious. They understood the comedic symbolism. I am sure, at one time The Marx Brothers were not considered a magnificent means of entertainment. Hell, even Shakespeare wasn’t considered suitable during his time.


The girls copied the poem I Dream A World, by Langston Hughes in cursive.





The girls made a bar graph of their television hours, from last week.


(Little Sis)

Both girls discovered, they watch the most television on Fridays.

I found an article in the newspaper using a line graph as an example, showing the statistics collected, that I showed to the girls. (Working along with the book by Basher, Math, A Book You Can Count On, The Data Gang.)

We also watched the documentary, The Beauty of Diagrams episode 4 – about Florence Nightingale’s pie chart (YouTube).

Little Sis finished her 3rd grade math workbook. I’ve decided, instead of doing the 4th grade mathematics at Khan Academy first, she is going to work through Kumon’s 4th grade workbooks. Then, I will use Khan as an assessment of what she might need help with.( I love the Kumon series. I would love for them to include high school level books.)

We also tried solving a bridge riddle from TED Ed. You know, with the whole bridge theme and all.


A game I absolutely love, and highly recommend, that fits in perfectly with bridge building, is World of Goo.


And speaking of games, this year’s new game was a huge hit. We’ve been playing it all holiday weekend.


Labyrinth by Ravensburger. It’s a maze/puzzle game that constantly changes.



We watched the episode of How Stuff Works, about Turkeys.




This week was all about Thanksgiving. There was a video going around on Facebook, about everything that is wrong with what we know about Thanksgiving. I shared it with the girls. That’s another thing about homeschooling I love, I can cut out all the bullshit history and science propaganda taught in school. The girls learn, that there in more than just one point of view. What is truth for the U.S., might not be the truth for someone else.

We watched the Crash Course American History video, Colonizing America (YouTube), and PBS American Experience, The Pilgrims, where the girls learned the difference between the pilgrims and the puritans.


The Arts:

We watched and discussed the Bridge to Terabithia movie. We all agree, there are parts we like from the book best, and parts we like in the movie best.

We watched Rankin and Bass, A Mouse on the Mayflower, and listened to Family Theater’s radio show of The Courtship of Miles Standish (YouTube). We’ve read Longfellow’s poem before. We joke, that this was Little Sis’s first introduction to love triangles. She liked the poem when we read it.

Our new Christmas puzzle, was of The Nutcracker Ballet.


Little Sis, made Papa’s and my Thanksgiving/Christmas present.


She even added my hair up in the back. :)


We walked away the Pounds, 2 miles.


Happy holidays, and wishing everyone peace for the journey.




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