Archive for October, 2016

Week In The Life (I Declare )

October 29, 2016

Well, we didn’t exactly take a break. However, I did discover the problem and attempted to fix it. Normally when I begin to feel overwhelmed, it is because I am trying to squeeze in more information than our brains can handle (if I’m overwhelmed by information, so are the girls).

I also realized, I have been trying to schedule our year to be more in line with our school district. In doing so, I messed up our whole rhythm. Winter is the time we usually get down to business, not fall because birthdays and holidays interrupt our learning flow. The girls have called me on this too. “Mom, we have hardly watched any Halloween movies this year!” “Yeah, last year we read Dracula, where are the spooky stories?”

Sometimes, it takes hanging around a few school children to set my mind at ease. I think that is one downside to homeschooling, which hardly compares to all the upsides; not being able to use public school as a guide to see if we are doing enough. I don’t get to see other teacher’s lessons to compare notes with.

I mean, I tailor our lessons around where the girls are academically, which is one of those upsides, but where do they stand academically with other children? Are we doing enough, or too much? I guess what I’m trying to say is, I add a lot of stress to myself worrying that we are not doing enough. The majority of children the girls hang out with are homeschooled, so I can only use them as guides. Little Sis, reading 500 page books at 9 is considered “normal” around other homeschool children her age. I know several homeschool teens that have skipped high school all together to go to college. It is easy to get caught up in that race (that I don’t even like to begin with).

Then, you meet an A honors public school student that uses Crash Course videos for AP high school courses, and think: really, for AP? Or while hanging out at Little Sis’s cheerleading practice, you overhear a mom helping their middle school child with their homework and realize: what the hell am I stressing for?

Okay, so I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I am not trying to make it sound like one education is better than the other. I think most parents want what is best for their children. (No guilt trip intended.) No matter which path you may choose, it all comes down to the effort the student puts in. If a student does not want to be present, learning will not happen. Which is why it is pointless for me to attempt a full load of lessons until after the holidays. ( I already knew this, WTF!)

Sometimes, I just need to be reassured every now and again. Sometimes, I need a pat on the back.



Language Arts



This week, we started reading: Insanity (Mad in Wonderland) series by Cameron Jace. So far, so good. Little Sis is hoping for romance, Sky hopes it sticks with the “mad” theme without a romance getting in the way. These girls are night and day I tell you. It is extremely hard to find a book that pleases them both.

We continued reading D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and more Aesop Fables.

We also watched:The History of Cinderella | Fairy Tales with Jen – YouTube


Mama’s Reads:

I finished: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Okay, I can see why people really like this book, and why it was recommended to me. It just dragged too much for me. It was a little over 500 pages and could have been edited down, in my opinion. I think The Haunting of Hill House was written much better. (Short and to the point.) Maybe, I am spoiled by too many plot twists; so I was disappointed by this story. Or maybe, I have read a better version of this type of story already. The writing style reminds me of Sunday afternoons, relaxed with not a whole lot going on. Sometimes though, if I am too relaxed I will fall asleep. That is what my problem was with this novel, it was too relaxing for me.

I am reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn now. At first, I didn’t think I was going to like her writing style. It reminds me of Joe Hill’s where it can’t be YA because they like to drop the F bomb, but the story is still written like a YA. I think a few authors are trying to appeal to those that have outgrown YA, the in your “20s” age range. Which I think is great. I, however am no longer in my 20s. This type of writing style is lost on me. I will say though, her writing style did get better as the book progressed. Now, I am interested. 🙂


The girls finished discussing, and copying the poem:Iron Horse by Jame Whitcomb Riley.





This was a fun one to dissect and discuss.

Writing/ Grammar:

We finished chapter 2 of Basher’s Creative Writing. This too has been fun to discuss, the girls know more than what I give them credit for.

Next month is National Novel Writing Month, so the girls will be writing a bit more then.

Little Sis is almost finished with her writing workbook, and Sky continued working in her English book.


Both girls are continuing to work in their Root Word workbooks, and their words were:

gallant, steed (thanks Shrek),pilgrim, shrine, prosper, gleams, exultant



The girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Little Sis worked in her Division workbook, and Sky moved on in the Kiss My Math book. She has adding and subtracting negative numbers down(Yay!). She is actually caught back up in her Kumon workbook, but I think we will continue with Kiss My Math. The book covers a lot more detail.




We watched: Ted-Ed What causes cavities? – Mel Rosenberg – YouTube


Walks around the block (which helped my anxiety to level out).




We read: The Declaration of Independence, and continued reading Barron’s American Government book ( with lots of discussion).

We watched: Ted Education Why do Americans vote on Tuesdays? – Jacob Soboroff


We listened to: Ancient Greek Music – The Lyre of Classical Antiquity…YouTube


The Arts:

Comics: Art in Relationship:

Sky worked on the last assignment of the on-line class. She needed to come up with the thumbnail to a comic that needed to include: a child, park, and a balloon that comes to life.


She will finish the comic this week. She really enjoyed this class, and we both learned a lot. There is much, much more to comics than meets the eye, and it uses more of the brain than it gets credit for.


We watched a lot this week.

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella

Black Beauty (1994)- Amazon

We really liked this movie a lot, it has been added to the favorite movies from the year list.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Another hit with the girls. Sky loved the special effects; she says they still hold up.

Silly Symphonies – King Neptune (1932)  and Goddess of Spring (1934)- YouTube

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween.

Peace for the journey.



Week In The Life (What A Beauty)

October 22, 2016

I am finding it hard to want to write today. I am actually pushing myself though, because I’ve found that when I don’t want to write, it usually means that I need to.

I am just not feeling our lessons right now, my head is extremely cluttered. Honestly, I think it is because of this whole presidential mess.

I also find myself feeling this way when I’m trying to take on more than what the girls can handle. This is why, I can not plan a whole school year out in advance, because I start to panic about how I am going to fit everything in, and leave no time for detours. Then, I start becoming all drill Sargent only making things worse; real learning happens naturally, it can not be forced.

Next, I usually find myself frustrated with the system, I can only imagine how school teachers must feel. I mean, my whole daughter’s future relies on whether or not she completes all her math credits in time. Which pisses me off, because children’s futures are basically set on how our brains are wired, which is an evolutionary process we have no control over. Some brains have evolved to understand physics, thank goodness. However, just because my daughter can’t, does not make her (and all the other children like her) a failure.  Yuck, sometimes I don’t have anything nice to say; which is why I don’t feel like writing in the first place.

Though, I do think it is important to share the bad stuff too. I mean, I’ve been at the homeschooling thing now for awhile, and I still have bad moments. I still question myself.

As always, I usually find what is behind my funk by writing it all out, and I think I just discovered the root of the problem. I feel powerless. My hands have been tied, tied over the candidates running for office( all of them), tied over the system ever changing, tied of anything ever changing. We don’t have time for four more years of doing the exact same things, and we sure as hell can’t afford moving backwards.We have deep, seeping wounds that need immediate attention (another company, members of Papa’s union went to Mexico) .

Gloom and doom. Yes, I think it is safe to say my anxiety is back. I am extremely sensitive, and the last few weeks have been torture. Add all this along with a very emotional documentary, it is no wonder I am feeling down (hormones, and lack of exercise this week are probably not helping matters).

So, where does this leave us? I have been on this train long enough to understand when a break is needed. With the Presidential debates over, I think a week of holiday fun is just what the doctor ordered.



Language Arts


We finished Black Beauty. This story will be added to our favorite stories from the year list. We highly recommend it.

We attempted: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, but gave it the ax. We just couldn’t get in with his writing style. Sky takes a lot after me in this way: “Too much description, I am all about straight forward prose. There is setting the atmosphere, and just plain beating the heck out of you with it.”.   🙂

I guess this is another one of those novels where we will watch the movie instead. It’s very odd for me to have two novels in a row like this.

We also started D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology.

Mama’s reads:

Speaking of movies, I loved the movie adaption of the novel: Carol by Patricia Highsmith. The acting was wonderful, and the cinematography was beautiful. This movie has been added to my favorites list of the year.

As far as the novel: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters goes, it is okay. I am almost done, probably will finish it this weekend. The story just drags for me in parts. I keep waiting for the plot twist, and I guess there is one, only to be disappointed. Maybe, that is my problem, but if I were to judge the novel right now as it stands, I think it could have been better. So far, these last few months my novel choices have been mediocre. I am due for an “amazing” one soon.


The girls copied the next 1/3 of the poem: Iron Horse in cursive.

Grammar/ Vocabulary:

The girls worked in their Root Word workbooks and had the words:

gait, burnished, mettle, smolders, rapture, palpitated, ire, reel, sublime.

Sky continued working in her Barron’s English book.

Creative writing/ Writing:

We discussed chapter 2 of Basher’s creative writing book, and Little Sis continued working in her Kumon writing workbook.



Girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Little Sis worked in her workbook, and Sky has grasped adding and subtracting negative integers. Time to move on.

More Fortune Street.




Netflix added the television show: Startalk for streaming. I have been listening to the podcast for years, (I am a big fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and Lawrence Krauss.) and am glad to be able to watch the show with the girls (also, a much better example of what deep discussions look like).




We watched Indian Summers.


We watched: the last Presidential and our Governor debate,

State Legislatures and ALEC,

and Third Parties: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. YouTube

You can find you state representatives by zip code at Project Vote Smart, to see where they stand on issues.

Sky and I also watched the documentary: 13th on Netflix. I highly recommend everyone to watch it. It is an extremely touching documentary that left the both of us speechless (and in tears). I feel the content is best for high school level and up, not only are some parts graphic, but I think the topic itself might be a bit hard for younger viewers to comprehend.

We continued our way through Barron’s American Government book.


The Arts

Theater Appreciation (Small Screen):

I tried to lighten the emotional mood of the week a bit by watching Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, I am one of them. This musical is a Halloween tradition that predates me “married with children”. The girls have had the soundtrack pounded into their heads, and have known about transsexuals long before Obama. So, to say I was disappointed is an understatement. I think I will have Sky write one of her theater critiques from this production.

Comics: Art in Relationship

This week Sky’s assignment was to take assigned script and choose three different comic grid templates to create a visual story.






The girls had homeschool gym.

As always, peace for the journey.

Week In The Life (It’s All Greek To Me)

October 16, 2016

What a week it has been in America. We could have easily spent the week discussing current events, but there was a birthday to plan.

Besides, unless certain members of this country are ready to grow up, and start having real conversations about the mess we are in, it’s all just a bunch of pointless noise. I for one, have better ways to spend my time (like the release of a new Green Day album, for one.)

Mama’s reads:

I finished: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer. I’m just not a fan of this story. The prose is beautifully written, the plot fell through though. Once the supernatural elements were introduced, the story no longer felt real to me anymore. However, I pushed through hoping the outcome would make it, at least worthwhile. Nope, you are rubbed raw from an emotional roller coaster ride of having a child abducted, with no closure (emotional closure, no spoilers here. ). This is why the novel Room, in my opinion, works.

I am reading: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters now. So far, it reminds me of a Gothic Downton Abbey. It was recommended because I liked Rebecca so much; we shall see.




Language Arts


We are a little over halfway through Black Beauty. The girls are really enjoying this story. I am sorry we waited so long to read it. This story, literally has changed my view of animals (and I’ve always been against animal cruelty). I know this was the author’s point, which makes me respect the story even more (There is a special place in my heart for rebel rousers.). I highly recommend it.

We also started reading Aesop Fables, and discussed the structure of fables.


The girls started: The Critical Thinking Co.’s Word Roots workbooks. Little Sis is working in the Beginning book, Sky is working in Level 1.

Words this week:

steed, fleeter, canter, dervish, sheikh, pastern-joint


The girls copied the first 1/3rd of the poem: Iron Horse by James Whitcomb Riley in cursive.


We finished chapter one of: Basher Basics Creative Writing.

Little Sis continued working in Kumon’s grade 4 Writing workbook.


Sky continued working in: Barron’s E-Z English.



The girls warmed up at

Little Sis worked in: Kumon’s grade 4 Division workbook.

Sky worked on Integer Addition and Subtraction worksheets I printed off from

She is still having a hard time comprehending that (-2)-5 is the same as (-2)+(-5). She does fine, if the problem is written like the second example. She even understands how to solve 2-(-10). (Which in my opinion is more complicated.)  It’s the first example that just keeps tripping her up. So, I am pushing my anxiety of ever getting her math credits fulfilled in time down, and going to keep working on this until it clicks ( FU, system!).

More, Wii Fortune Street.



We read, and discussed October’s issue of:Science in the News (from Science A-Z).


Health/ Nutrition:

We watched: Is Sugar A Drug from: It’s Okay To Be Smart- YouTube,

and the documentary: Super Size Me.- Netflix.



Walks around the block.



World/ Geography:

We read: The Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Ancient Greece and the Olympics.

We left off in ancient history with the Persians, so transitioning into ancient Greece went pretty well. I printed off a map of both ancient and modern day Greece, and the girls added Greece onto their blank map of Europe.

We watched:

History: Ancient Greece ~ by School of Life – YouTube

What The Ancients Did For Us: The Greeks History Documentary – YouTube

Founders of Europe: The Greeks – YouTube


There was the second Presidential debate.

We watched and discussed: Guantánamo: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – YouTube.

We finished chapter 1 of: Barron’s Painless American Government.

We will also be using The Critical Thinking Co.’s: You Decide: Applying the Bill of Rights to Real Cases workbook, as part of Sky’s civics credit.



The Arts

Comics: Art in Relationship

We are halfway through chapter three of Understanding Comics, and Sky completed her assignments:

Finding comics in the everyday,


(From Barron’s American Government book.)

and capturing time.


(One second)


(One hour)


(One day)

We watched:

Disney’s Silly Symphony: The Grasshoppers and the Ants (my favorite Aesop Fable), Country Cousin, and The Tortoise and the Hare  – YouTube.

To kick off Halloween, we took the girls to the drive-in to see Psycho and The Birds. We were able to take our dog, Harvey, with us; it was a lot of fun. Sky thought it a little spooky to be out in the middle of nowhere, watching a movie about a motel in the middle of nowhere. 🙂


Peace for the journey.

Sweet Sixteen

October 16, 2016

Sixteen years ago, I sat scared to death in a hospital bed awaiting your arrival. I had no idea of the journey I was about to embark upon. How could this cold, standoffish person incapable of loving herself, return unconditional love? Then before I had a chance to figure it all out, I was holding you in my arms.


Fast forwarding to today, I realize nothing could of prepared me for the uncharted territory where we were headed. Surrendering all control, and taking those first steps was one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced, and yet the most rewarding.

Happy birthday, my (little) angel.


(Meet Luna, our newest member of the family.) 🙂

Week(s) in the Life (“We the People”*)

October 7, 2016

(Warning, this is going to be a very long post.)

Well, this will be the last post filed under 15-year-old, at least until Little Sis reaches that age. It is hard to believe Miss Sky will be 16. I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday when I posted about her turning 13?

Besides the fact of thinking about her somewhere out in the world driving, I actually am really enjoying these years of Sky being a teenager. I think teens sometimes get a bad rap.

Though those years of helping my child learn to read were fun, being able to see all the hard work you put into those early years pay off, is priceless. Honestly, I think it is one of the many wonderful benefits of homeschooling that school teachers don’t get to experience much; actually being able to grow along with your students; to witness them become critical-thinking adolescents. It truly is a very rewarding experience.

Our conversations have become longer, with more light-bulb moments; more dots being connected; all the puzzle pieces beginning to come together. As a homeschooling parent, these are the moments you’ve been waiting for. All the nail-biting, teeth-clinching, “did I make the right decision?” doubts finally answered. With the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah as background noise, they were listening. 🙂


So much has happened these last few weeks, that the only thing I really know to do, is jump right in.

Language Arts


Mama’s Reading:

As my reading goes, I did not finish Carol. I got halfway through the book, and actually found myself not looking forward to reading (I know). The writing was just too dry for me. As the reader, I felt like a guest arriving at the party late, everyone else knew what was happening but me. Maybe, it is because of the subject matter during the time this novel was written (1952); maybe, that was the author’s intention; maybe, it was because I just couldn’t relate to the characters, but if a story just isn’t grabbing my attention, I won’t finish it. I do plan on watching the movie though. This is just one of those times, when I actually don’t want to read the novel before seeing the movie (it does occasionally happen).

So, what do I do after not finishing a novel? Pick out a novel that will hold my attention. The Girl on the Train, did just that. Did I figure out who the killer was early on? Yes (thank you George R.R. Martin for spoiling me with your wonderfully written foreshadowing.). Were the characters unrelatable? Yes, however sometimes people don’t always make wise decisions. That is what makes us human. Was the plot unbelievable? No more unbelievable than a soap opera, or drama (Downton Abbey, anyone?), and that is exactly what my brain was looking for. I enjoyed the story; I finished it in 4 days. I truly was hoping the main protagonist would get her act together. Will I be adding it to my 2016 favorites? No, but it won’t be on my worst list either.

I also finished The Hunger Games, and started Catching Fire. This was/is my physical book choice that I carry along with me everywhere. Even though Little Sis read it, and I saw the movies, I had not read the novels yet. I really enjoyed it. There is so much symbolism, and like the Game of Thrones (Fire and Ice) novel series, we have found ourselves, many times using it as an example.The novels are not as violent as the movies, and I do believe the series belongs on school reading lists. It is a wonderful conversation starter.

I am over halfway through: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer now. This was recommended to me since I enjoyed the novel Room so much. I will finish the novel because I am interested in the outcome, but I am over all disappointed with the supernatural element of the plot. I really don’t like being deceived. I expect supernatural when reading Stephen King, but not from a thriller (unless marketed as such).



This week we started Black Beauty.

We are reading Black Beauty along with the audio book from Librivox. I found the reading to be better than the audio book choices from OverDrive. The Kindle version of the book can be found at Amazon for free.

We are using the GrAdeSaver study guide.



We are starting a creative writing course; actually, we started it last year by reading fairy tale adaptations, but this year we will be going into more depth.

For starters, we are reading Basher Basics: Creative Writing The Plot Thickens. This week we discussed the genres: adventure, horror,and science fiction. The girls came up with examples for each one from the books we’ve read over the years.

Sky’s continuing working through the book: E-Z English.

Little Sis is still working through Kumon’s grade 4 writing workbook, and writing her blog.



The girls copied the poem: September Dark by James Whitcomb Riley in cursive.


(Little Sis)

Vocabulary Words: dense, commence, eddying.



Both girls warmed up with XtraMath.

Little Sis is working through Kumon’s grade 4 division workbook, and we played the Wii game Fortune Street almost every night while on break; we really like this game. 🙂

Sky has hit a plateau in pre-algebra with negative integers. Subtracting was a hard concept for her to grasp, so it makes sense that she would struggle with this too. Since I am educating for mastery instead of grades, we are taking a slight detour.

We started working through: Kiss my Math by Danica McKellar. So far, I like this book much better than Math Doesn’t Suck. The visual examples she uses for negative integers are great. I didn’t even think of an elevator going below ground level. Sky really likes the below sea level example, whatever works.



We visited the apple orchard while on break, so we watched: Why are there so many types of apples? TedEd- YouTube.

We also watched the documentaries: PBS’s Earth’s Forces, and NOVA’s Great Human Odyssey. Sky thought GHO looked a little familiar, like we had seen it before. We kind of did, because we’ve seen BBC’s Human Planet, and this is a little bit similar.

On a side note, I harvested our sunflower seeds, and we’ve added horse manure to our garden’s soil.




This week was all about food labels.

We watched: The Food Label and You by the US Food and Drug Administration- YouTube.

We learned about the 5/20 rule and have been using it to read food labels all week.

We also watched: SciShow~What Happens When You Stop Eating? – YouTube

SciShow~Do Negative-Calorie Foods Exist? – YouTube

BytesizeScience~ChemMatters: The Science Behind Calories and Nutrition Facts



The girls had homeschool gym (twice),


we went swimming (probably for the last time until next summer), walks have been added back into our routine,


and we visited the park. Little Sis had cheerleading practice, and her first stunt clinic.


While Little Sis was at stunt clinic, the rest of us went bowling.


Sky really likes it, joining a league may be in her near future.




For starters, we watched Indian Summers.

We read: The Magic Tree House Hour of the Olympics.

We watched: What did democracy really mean in Athens? TedEd-YouTube



This year, Sky will earn her Civics/ Government credit. Boy, we could not have picked better timing. 🙂

We are using Barron’s Painless American Government book, as well as Crash Course Government and Politics videos.

We watched: Crash Course Government and Politics episodes 1 and 2,

both the presidential and vice presidential debates,

PBS Frontline: The Choice,

Scandals: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – YouTube,

and Police Accountability: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver(HBO)- YouTube.

We had lots and lots to discuss this week.




The Arts


We had a blast watching: A Brighter Day in Your Kitchen- 1949 educational documentary- YouTube.

We also learned how  Instant Ramen was invented.

The girls ordered a new cookbook, 250 Best Meals in a Mug,  to go along with their 5 Minute Mug Cakes cookbook. They have already made several recipes, I can’t keep track. We will be focusing more on cooking whole meals this year. By the time we are done, both girls should be able to cook all of my recipes by themselves. Thanksgiving, here we come.


Comics in Art:

We read chapter 2 from Understanding Comics.

Sky has been working hard in her comic class. She worked on her diary.





Sky is still working her way through Monstress by Marjorie Lui, and loving it.



We drew Shopkins, Apple Blossom from Draw So Cute-YouTube.




We attended our local Art Squared festival, where we picked up a few things.



You can read about Little Sis’s finds on her blog.


Sky had her first homeschool painting class at You Are the Artist.


She learned a lot.


Well, I think that catches us up.


Peace for the journey.

*The Preamble to The United States Constitution.