Archive for May, 2016

Week In The Life (Blue Beards and Ballet Shoes)

May 28, 2016

We ended up having a very productive week while Papa was on vacation; sometimes I need to lighten up our school week in order to get stuff done around here. That’s okay, it’s just one of the many perks of homeschooling year round.

We discovered, like the majority of our neighborhood, that we have hail damage and will be getting a new roof. The bad part of that is, like every bloody thing else we’ve discovered about our home, whom ever put the roof on before we moved in our home didn’t add a run off into the gutters, so some of the boards under the roofing are rotted and need to be replaced. Financially, it doesn’t matter because our insurance is covering it. I just get a little peeved at being reduced to eye rolling when discovering everything that was constructed wrong in our home.

When we had central air conditioning added to our home, we found out our wiring, was not only dangerous and was known to cause fires (that has actually happened in our neighborhood), but also completely outdated to the point we would never be able to find breakers if the need ever arose. I question how the hell our house ever passed inspection.  I mean, our door entries are not even sized to where we could have doors replaced without them being custom made. Sometimes, I wonder if we even have a slab under our floor, and not just dirt. Our neighbor, that has lived here since our neighborhood was built, informed us that the contractor that designed these homes went bankrupt a couple of years later; I can kind of see why.

Enough grumbling though, I was able to go through the girls’ drawers and clean out all their outgrown summer clothes and replace them with new ones; just in time too, because summer sure has hit Indy.


Changing the line-up a bit.


Our garden is planted and ready to go.


All the way on the left, our garlic is about ready to be harvested, and over on the right (growing down the hill) our strawberries have arrived.


Our crop, so far has been large enough for me to make jam, however we can’t stop eating them. Little Sis goes out every morning to collect the berries and makes fruit salad for breakfast. Next year, we plan on planting raspberries.

Down at the bottom of the hill is our tomato plants. We planted 20 this year, the majority being Roma tomatoes that I use to make into sauce. At the top of the hill, we planted 30 potatoes, 2 rows of broccoli, and one row mixed with jalapeno and green peppers (for salsa). We also planted one watermelon plant. Last year we grew cantaloupe, without even trying, but I am the only one that will eat it. So for Little Sis’s sake, I hope we get a good watermelon harvest.

I will be counting our garden toward one of Sky’s science credits. We compost, test the acidity of our soil, and add fertilizer as needed. Our garden is completely organic, at least as organic as one can be in the 21 century. We plant sunflowers to help the bees pollinate (and help keep birds distracted), we use nature to fight nature (we love our Praying Mathis, and ladybugs). This, in my opinion, is an example of a “real”science project.

I’ve never been a been a big fan of science fairs (and I love science). I think it has to do with my personality, that everything I do needs to have a purpose. Making a volcano out of baking soda and vinegar is a fun way to explain chemical reactions, but I don’t really see it as an “experiment”; we already know what happens, it has been done before. Trying to figure out how to contain fire inside a bulb, or understanding how electricity works when it’s never been done before is an experiment.

Science is constantly evolving and changing. When you write something down in a textbook, it is already outdated. Past science, to me, is history. I do realize the laws of science never change, and how we need to be able to grasp certain concepts before learning others, but that is with anything.

Again, this just me. 🙂

We watched lots of videos this week.

For starters, we watched what happens when cracking an egg underwater from Tune Channel (Facebook).

Then, What Video Games Teach Us About the Aging Brain, Last Week In Science, and Science of Thrones from It’s Okay To Be Smart-YouTube.

Bees, Mosquitoes and Dragons with Joe Hanson

We listened to The Show About Science podcast interview with Joe Hanson, and Why do some people have seasonal allergies? – Ted ED- Eleanor Nelsen – YouTube



We are reading our way through chapter 4 of The Way We Work, and we watched: What Causes Food Cravings? – by SciShow- YouTube

I purchased: The Smart Girls Guide to Going Vegetarian for Little Sis, and we have been reading through it together.


The girls had homeschool gym, we walked around the block, and weeded the garden.


The girls warmed with XtraMath.

Little Sis finished the Kumon multiplication workbook and is moving on to division. Sky is continuing with the Kumon pre-algebra book 2.


Language Arts


We finished The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Ogre of Olglefort. I liked both of these books. The Ogre of Olglefort was different from any book I’ve read. I am interested in reading more from this author and sad our library doesn’t have anymore of her novels. I loved the humor from the movie Stardust, and this book was kind of like that. This story fit in perfect with our fairy-tale theme. It is a great example of taking folklore creatures and creating your own unique story.

We started The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I love this story, and have waited until the girls were at the right age to share it. There is so much wisdom packed into this little novel that I don’t think small children can really grasp. I don’t think Little Sis really understands its message, and she is a mature 10.

We are listening to The Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, and read Bluebeard by Charles Perrault.


The girls copied a part of speech poem to add to their grammar notes.


(Little Sis)


The girls learned how to write a book analysis, and wrote an analysis about the story: The Ogre of Oglefort.

The hardest part the girls are having trouble with, is not using I in writing about the  positive and negative attributes of the story. Of course when reviewing juvenile fiction, there’s really not much to analyze. I know the more they write, the better they will get at it.


We read from Basher’s Grammar book: Chapter 2, Team Sentence.


modify, maternal

Sky orally recited her poem: One Not Be A Chamber by Emily Dickinson.




We read chapter 46 from: French History for English Children about Louis the 15th. The girls added notes to their timeline notebook.


We also watched:Versailles, France: Ultimate Royal Palace by Rick Steves. YouTube


We learned about Edgar DeGas, and watched:Degas Biography from Goodbye-Art Academy – YouTube

The girls took notes and colored Practicing at the Barre.


The Arts

We got caught up with a few movies, and watched Shrek, Shrek 2, Puss in Boots, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast.

We watched:Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics: Bluebeard and Briar Rose – animated YouTube

We also watched: The Nostalgia Critic’s Old vs. New Cinderella episode -YouTube

Theater Appreciation (Big Screen):

We watched: The 1934 movie of The Scarlet Pimpernel. -YouTube/Prime

Now I am on a Leslie Howard movie kick. 🙂

I think that is about it, peace for the journey.


A Book Analysis (Sky)

May 25, 2016

This review will be about the novel: The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson published by  Puffin Books in 2011. This fantasy story is about an orphan boy, named Ivo, who is bored with life, and seeks adventure. When a hag allows him to be her familiar for a council meeting, together, along with some friends, they are given a quest to slay an ogre and rescue a princess named  Mirella. However once they arrive at the ogre’s castle, they discover that not everything is as they had expected. Ivo, and friends, soon learn the ogre is the least of their problems.

I thought this story was unique and funny, it didn’t turn out as I thought it would. The characters were all down to earth, and not stereotypical for your usual folklore creatures. Something that I really liked about this story, is how the characters’ personalities could have been switched around, and the flow of the story would have stayed the same.

Overall I liked the story. I would have liked it more, if the author would have just focused on the unique characters living together, without all the added subplots.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars out of five, and recommend it for anyone that likes fairy-tales, and is looking for something a bit different.

A Book Analysis (Little Sis)

May 24, 2016

Today, I will be reviewing the fantasy/ folklore novel: The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson, published by the Penguin Group in 2010.

The story starts off with an old Hag, from Dribble, needing to find a new familiar to replace her toad, Gladys. Gladys went on strike right before the summer meeting of unusual creatures was going to gather, finding out what this year’s summer project was going to be. While searching for a new familiar, she met an orphan boy named Ivo, and began telling him all her troubles. Ivo, bored with orphan life, volunteered to be the Hag’s new familiar, and they set off together for the summer meeting. At the summer meeting, three Norns interrupted the gathering, seeking volunteers to kill an ogre and rescue a princess named Mirella.  The Hag, Ivo, and friends, journey to the castle of Oglefort to slay the Ogre.

It is hard for me to pick out just one main character from this story. There are many characters that work together, using their special abilities to help rescue the princess. Themes that the author uses throughout this story is: that first impressions aren’t always what they seem, and that it’s best to work together to solve a problem than alone.

The story was okay. It wasn’t one of my favorites. It felt like the author was trying to write a fun, comical story, but I didn’t really find it fun, or funny. I found the story boring, and will not be reading it again. I liked the author’s use of folklore in the story, but I didn’t like the folklore creatures portrayed. Maybe, if it had mermaids I might have liked it more.

I give this novel 2 out of 5 stars.



Week In The Life (Here Comes The Sun, King)

May 14, 2016

So, Papa and I had our appointments this week. We found out that he has lost 17 pounds; I sure wish I could lose weight as easily as he can. Even with all the changes we have made to our diet, his triglycerides are still high. If that wasn’t enough, I found out my blood pressure is the highest it has ever been. I am kind of at a loss as to what to do next really.

I know my high blood pressure is because of my weight, and I have been working really hard at trying to lose it (excuse my language, but f**k the American diet!). I am really trying to remain positive, but it can be really hard when you see your husband dropping weight like nothing, and you are eating half of what he eats while busting your ass exercising.

I completely understand the science of how our body processes food. In fact, I actually wanted to be a dietitian. I understand, that in order for me to lose my stored fat, I need to eat less calories than what my body needs daily to function. I understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. I know the difference between saturated and polyunsaturated fat, but when you have completely changed your diet, lost weight, are taking prescribed medication, as in Papa’s case, and are doing everything the guidelines tell you to do to lower your triglycerides and it still doesn’t work, then what?

I’ve been a vegetarian before, I can take or leave eating meat. Papa, on the other hand is a carnivore; he has however, willingly made the switch to grilled chicken and fish.

You really don’t notice how bad Americans are constantly bombarded by corporations trying to sell you their product, until you need to change your diet( It has become a running joke for us, to point out what we see actors eating on television shows.). You really begin to understand just how messed up this country ‘s  food choices are, when you are trying to find a place to eat that doesn’t revolve around something fried.

As you probably have figured out by now, nutrition has pretty much been the running theme for us this week. 🙂


Language Arts


We continued reading The Scarlet Pimpernel. I will confess, that the story started out really slow. Once the action started to pick up though, the girls and I have been hanging on every word.

We started The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson. The girls have found this story to be an interesting read as well.

We listened, and read along with Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks by Jean de La Fontaine,

and Shrek by William Steig.

We watched a few videos, two that I meant to watch while we were reading Alice in Wonderland, the Jabberwocky poem, and The Rather Curious History Of Alice. Both videos are by Mark Warner and found on YouTube. The other video was from one of my favorite booktubers, Novels and Nonsense’s 15 Facts on Frances Hodgson Burnett | Author Facts – also found on YouTube.

If you have not been introduced to BookTube, and you enjoy reading as much as I do, you are in for a treat. There are tons of video book reviews on YouTube. Some are better than others; it took me a while to discover my favorites, ones whom had similar tastes as myself. Ones that were being brutally honest.

Since on the subject of books, I have been at a loss as to what to read after finishing The Raven Cycle. My brother-in-law recommended I read the short story collection: The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin. I have been enjoying it so far. I am not going to lie though, The Raven Cycle was pretty damn good. It has been really hard tying to move on from that series.


We finished discussing, and the girls copied the rest of the poem: If by Rudyard Kipling.


(Little Sis)

Vocabulary words:

heap, sinew, virtue, and foe


We started chapter 2, Team Sentence, from Basher’s book of grammar, discussing: simple sentence, syntax, clause, and phrase.

We watched videos from the YouTube channel Socratica about: the four types of sentences, subject, and predicate.



The girls warmed up at, and continued working in their Kumon workbooks. Little Sis is multiplying 3 digits by 3 digits now.



We watched John Oliver’s video on YouTube, about scientific studies, and how and why media outlets so often report untrue or incomplete information as science.


That video, lead us into our health and nutrition videos, first starting with Ted-Ed’s videos: How to spot a fad diet – Mia Nacamulli , and How do vitamins work? – Ginnie Trinh Nguyen – YouTube.

Other videos we watched were: What nutrients do our bodies need? – YouTube, Nutrition Basics: Why Food Matters-YouTube.

Buzz Feed’s videos:What 2000 Calories Look Like, and Serving sizes vs. what is usually consumed.-YouTube

Bill Nye’s video about digestion-Netflix,

and Crash Course’s A/P videos part 1 and 2 on digestion.-YouTube

We will be reading chapter 3 of David Macaulay’s Way We Work next week.

One of the perks of not spending lots of money on a curricula, is that it frees up our homeschooling budget to spend on building our home library.  Our home library only consists of books we will use multiple times.

If I had my way, our home would be nothing but books, however that wouldn’t quite fly with other members of the family. Reason number 200 of why I love e-readers. 🙂


We watched a video from Tom Richey’s YouTube channel, Louis XIV: Sun King of France – YouTube.

I also read about him from the DK Smithsonian World History book. The girls took notes, and added them to their notebooks.



We watched PBS American Masters documentary on the American Ballet Theatre- Prime

The girls added notes to their notebooks.


The Arts


This week we learned how to draw a chibi cat from Draw So Cute-YouTube. We kind of improvised, and made it to look like Puss In Boots.


We went to see The Jungle Book at the theater over the weekend. We all liked it all right. I was a little disappointed that it pretty much was the animated version, made CGI live- action. I mean it was a bit more action packed than the animated version; honestly, the songs ruined it for me. I can’t wait to see Andy Serkis’s version.


We walked around the neighborhood.

Next week Papa is on vacation. We plan on doing more hands on work around the house, like getting our garden planted, and less “book work”.

We have about 6 weeks until we switch to our “summer school” schedule. Basically, I plan on finishing out the year with the French Revolution.

I think when we start our regular schedule back this fall, or as Sky says when “Winter is coming”, we will dig into the Civil War.

Peace for the journey.

Week In The Life (“If I Only Had A Brain”)

May 7, 2016

Well, I have found myself yet again, another year older. I had a pretty good birthday, with the exception of Mother Nature sending a tornado warning storm that had us hunkered down in our neighbors basement (Got to love having great neighbors 🙂 ). It all turned out good though in the end, besides being a year older that is.

As I age, I have began to realize how I really took being younger for granted. I didn’t realize I would need to spend so much time around doctors. Between Papa, myself, and the girls, it seems we are always needing to be at some kind of doctor’s office every month. Next week, Papa and I each have an appointment scheduled on the same day, at two different places. I guess, I just didn’t realize that once I turned 40, I would be so acquainted with our doctors, and their staff. I am thankful at least, we are able to do so.We will soon find out if all our dietary changes have helped bring down Papa’s triglycerides, and cholesterol.

Papa, doesn’t like eating oatmeal for breakfast, which has pretty much became our breakfast staple around here. So, I have come up with new ways of sneaking oats, and flax meal into our meals.

I love brownie oatmeal. I have found as I’ve aged, my craving for chocolate has intensified. I’m sure it’s because I need to increase my magnesium consumption.

Anyways, basically you fix oatmeal like you would normally; we fix ours stove-top. While the oats rest I add in 1 TBSP of flax meal per serving. Sweeten, according to taste, then stir in 1-2 over-flowing teaspoons of baking cocoa, and add 1 tsp. mini chocolate chips to the top (per serving), done.

Papa, actually really likes the granola Little Sis and I’ve been making. I’ve been adding flax meal in along with the regular ingredients. He also loves the vegan, gluten free carrot cake muffins (posted a few weeks ago), vegan, gluten-free banana bread,


Vegan + Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Banana Bread

and gluten-free peanut butter brownies (can easily be made vegan) .

Skinny Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies.


With berries soon in season, I will add overnight oats to the menu.

These have all been easy, and delicious ways to add flax meal, and oats into our diet. I substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil, and usually use maple syrup as our sweetener. I’ve loved the challenge of substituting flax meal for eggs. Next, I am going to try making cookies. 🙂

We have actually had several discussions this week about nutrition for Sky’s health credit.


Language Arts


We read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

I am more of a fan of the book series, and the Return to Oz movie than the musical. I think everyone did an amazing job with the original musical, don’t get me wrong. I mean, the actress that played the wicked witch, defined wickedness in my opinion. I just prefer the more darker tone of the series. Little Sis on the other hand, thinks the series is boring, and prefers the musical.

We started The Scarlet Pimpernel to count toward Sky’s world literature credit. She almost has her British Literature credit completed, she just needs to add in some medieval literature. Unfortunately, the Game of Thrones series only counts toward leisure reading.

Speaking of leisure reading, I finished The Raven King. I am lost as to what to read now. The Raven Cycle, in my opinion, is a wonderful example of great YA writing. Maggie Stiefvater did an amazing job writing memorable characters. This series will stick with me for a long time.

We also listened to the fairy-tale: Puss in Boots at Storynory.


We discussed, and the girls copied the first half of the poem: If by Rudyard Kipling.




We finished Grammarland, and I read about conjunctions from the Basher Grammar book. We also watched the Schoolhouse Rock video-YouTube.

We discussed the Greek prefix homo, and homographs, thanks to this week’s poem.

We also watched the Ted-ED videos: How to use a semicolon, and When to use an Apostrophe -YouTube.

Vocabulary words:

stoop, knave, aristocrat, sallies



The girls warmed up at XtraMath, and continued working in their workbooks.



We read May’s issue of Science in the News A-Z. The girls actually had already performed a surface tension experiment, and have made their own bubbles,so they were familiar with this month’s topics.

pictures 2189

pictures 1689

It always makes me feel good when moments like these occur. Or, when we are at some kind of science fair, and the girls understand, or can answer questions about the topics being covered. It reassures me that we are on track.

Another topic in this month’s issue was about plant eating spiders; this also fit in perfectly with our nutrition lessons.



We watched: Why we eat the way we eat: Dr. Scott Kahan at TEDxManhattan – YouTube

Then, we watched Bill Nye’s episode on Nutrition (for Little Sis’s benefit). This episode can be found on YouTube, but it is not currently available on Netflix.

We watched: Crash Course A&P parts 1 and 2 on Metabolism & Nutrition, and Ted-Ed videos What is fat?, How do carbohydrates impact your health?, and What is a calorie? – all found on YouTube.

After watching these videos, we had lots of discussions. It just so happened that we received our weekly grocery circular in the mail. I had the girls look at the foods on sale, and then had them pick out which ones were actually good nutritious food choices. The only one they found was cheese. I explained how this was one reason why so many poor people are malnourished.


The girls had homeschool gym, and thanks to lots of rain, they practiced yoga.


World/ Geography:

This week we learned about French King Louis the 14th. We read, and listened along to the chapters about him from: French History for English Children.


Indiana had their primary this week. This election, is going to be very interesting.


We took a small detour and watched a PBS American Masters documentary about one of my favorite singers: Janis Joplin.

The Arts

Theater Appreciation


We attended the full musical production of The Wizard of Oz  (with a living Toto).


Small Screen:

We watched Fairy-tale theater’s Puss in Boots.


In honor of going to see the live-action version of The Jungle Book this weekend, we made Mowgli and Baloo (Dramatic Parrot- YouTube).


On a side note, we watched The Peanuts movie, and we all really enjoyed it. They did a really good job with the story.

My brain feels like I am missing something, then again it always feels that way.

Peace for the journey.