Archive for December, 2015

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.

The 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 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 online 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 of 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 of 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 the 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 vinyl 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 usual business of life.

Peace for the journey.