Archive for November, 2016

Week In The Life (The Thirteen Colonies, and Giving Thanks)

November 27, 2016

We had our first fire of the season this week. It seems like it never fails; 70 degrees and shorts one day, 30 degrees and winter coats the next. I for one, am happy about the cooler temperatures. Papa, on the other hand, walks around freezing.

It is kind of funny, it used to be the other way around. Before perimenopause, I would be the one walking around freezing. Papa needed to sleep with a fan on year round because he would get too hot; I would need to sleep with five extra blankets piled on top of the bed. What can I say, except crazy hormones I guess. It is going to be an interesting winter.




Creative Writing: Fairy Tale Adaptations


We are more than halfway through Insanity. I was hoping to have it finished before Christmas school, but that is what happens when we get sick.

*Slight detour ahead.*

I see so many new homeschoolers post questions (in one of my Facebook homeschooling groups) about schedules and planning lessons out for the whole year. I try to answer when I can, but it does get a little frustrating typing the same answers out over and over again. This is one of the many reasons I hate Facebook. There is no way of storing previous answers to questions already asked. It is way too easy to ask a question and wait for the answers. Those of us that have been homeschooling for a long time, the ones that should be answering newbie’s questions, don’t have the time to answer repeat questions. This is the reason many homeschool veterans charge for their services, which I completely understand. Living on one income takes lots of budgeting. However, I do think that it is a bit unfair as well. Where would many of us “veterans” be without the help we were given when first starting out?

I for one, probably would not be able to afford to homeschool if I was a newbie now (It is becoming a business.). I will say though, there was never a time in homeschooling where there was SO much available for free, as there is today either. You will need to do a little searching though (more than just asking a question in a Facebook group and waiting for the answers ). I have answered many of these questions here on my blog. I even have most of them saved in the About widget: Back to the Basics, found over on the left side for easier access.

Homeschooling is not school at home. You literally need to pretend that school doesn’t exist. How would learning happen if school never existed? What would that look like? How did all those before us learn without school? This is called “deschooling”. Which is more beneficial for the parents than the children. Deschooling, took *me* a whole year. I blogged about it. All my posts are categorized under Unschooling. 🙂

Once you understand and can “see”, that learning is everywhere (not contained to a brick and mortar building) and never ends, but is a continuing journey. Then, homeschooling can begin. Our homeschooling journey, will not look like yours. It is different for every family and every child. Learning is so different, what works for Sky, does not work for Little Sis. Sky learns better visually, Little Sis is an auditory learner. They are both individuals with individual interests. There is no such thing as a one size fits all education. There is no such thing as a perfect curriculum.

Since society has already set standards for learning with a high school diploma, and as much as I think some of those standards are stupid, as a homeschooler, I still need to follow them. I believe in an educated society, now more than ever. However, I get to choose how we learn those standards, and I’m given twelve years to do so.

Sometimes, life has a way of changing your plans (like getting sick). Make sure your homeschooling schedule can accommodate those changes. 🙂

*End of detour.*



Little Sis worked in her Word Roots Beginner workbook.

Sky worked in Barron’s E-Z Grammar and Level One Word Roots workbook.


Independent Reading:

Little Sis finished: Flawless and started reading: Perfect by Sara Shepard. We watched more of Pretty Little Liars, season one together. I think I figured out the “big reveal”. I mean, I am a Hitchcock fan, but I am enjoying our time together.

I finished Shutter Island. Wow, I knew it was about time for an awesome novel. I love it, and this novel has been added to my favorites book list of the year. I like it so much, I place it right up there with House on Haunted Hill.

I knew about one of the plot twists, but even so, I did not know how the novel was going to end. The writing was great. The historic element alone made it a great read for me, add in the psychological thriller aspects, and I was hooked. To be able to write a story that draws, you as the reader into one point of view, and then manages to pull the rug out from under you is a very talented author. I can’t wait to read more of his work.

I am reading: The Lottery and Other Short Stories by Shirley Jackson, now.



The girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Little Sis worked in Kumon 4th Grade Division workbook.

Sky worked on Chapter 5 (Mean, Median, Mode) of Kiss My Math. This was perfect timing for review since we had a short week for Thanksgiving.

We also played lots of games that I forgot to take a picture off.






We watched the season two finale of Indian Summers. This was a brutal season, we had many discussions. It is a shame the show has been canceled, it was just getting good.



We finished: What is the Deceleration of Independence.

I printed off a map of the Thirteen Colonies, and we watched: Mr. Zoller’s Thirteen Colonies three part Series. – YouTube

The girls took notes and added them to their American History notebook binders.





We also watched the conclusion of PBS Black America: And Still I Rise.


The Arts

We watched Disney’s Mickey Mouse presents Walt Disney Silly Symphony -Little Hiawatha-YouTube

Sky is collecting the seasons of South Park and we have been watching episodes together.


I recently discovered one of my most favorite chefs has a YouTube Channel. Sara’s (Moulton )Weeknight Meals. Cooking Live was how I learned to cook. I loved that show. I watched it every night, then tried making the recipes the next week. Many of the recipes I still use today. I missed it so much when it went off of Food Network. I am so glad I am able to watch her new show with the girls. A new generation of chefs.

The girls helped prepare Thanksgiving dinner this year. This was kind of their year-end exam. I figure if you can bake a turkey, and make: mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, corn on the cob (frozen fresh from the farm over the summer), oyster dressing, dinner rolls, pumpkin pies, and homemade cinnamon rolls, you can make anything. They can too.

We watched: The Surprising Origin of Thanksgiving Foods – YouTube From It’s Okay to be Smart.

Little Sis also decided to bake peanut butter chocolate chip cookies all by herself. She said: “I know how to cook, wash dishes, and do my own laundry. I could live all on my own.” That is the goal child. 🙂


(They didn’t last long.)


I purchased a new Wii game: Just Dance 2016. We love it. Little Sis was surprised that I won. I beat her at all the songs but One Direction’s No Control. I wasn’t always old.

I hope everyone celebrating had a great Thanksgiving. The countdown to the holidays has officially started.


(The only thing we buy on Black Friday, our Christmas tree.)

Peace for the journey.


Week In The Life (“Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death.”*)

November 19, 2016

Little Sis had her first regional cheerleading competition over the weekend. I had videotaped her routine so she could practice her non-stunting moves at home. She was ready and had them all down. Unfortunately, some of her team didn’t show up, so they had to change some of the stunts at the last minute. Then, the person in charge of their music turned it off before the end of their dance routine. So confused, half of them started their cheer, not really knowing what else to do. Sadly, they didn’t make it to state finals.

Considering the majority of the team, including Little Sis, was new to cheer this year, and with everything else that happened at the competition, everyone did their best. I am really proud of Little Sis. This was her first major competition performing, not only in front of judges, but a completely filled gymnasium, and she didn’t freeze up. I wasn’t even sure what to expect.

She still has another month of practice, this session ending with an awards ceremony. She is really enjoying it, and can’t wait for spring’s session. Now, she knows a little more of what to expect. It has been an interesting learning adventure for myself as well.



I am trying to wrap up any loose ends we might have, before Thanksgiving. I am also trying to get us to a place where we can pick our lessons back up next year. At the end of September, our 180 days for the school year were “officially”  done. We will be finishing out the rest of the year with lessons leading us into the holidays, or what we like to call Christmas school. What an interesting journey 2016 has been. Oh 2017, what do you have in store for us?

I am pretty happy with where we are right now. I mean, I wish Sky was further along in mathematics, but she has made progress, real progress, and that makes me happy. After all, for us “winter is coming”.


Language Arts

Creative Writing:


We finished reading and discussing: Basher’s Creative writing book.

We also finished reading: D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology and Fables by Arnold Lobel.

We started reading: Insanity by Cameron Jace again too.

We also watched the movie Pan’s Labyrinth (thanks, Big Sis for the recommendation).

Wow, what a beautiful, dark movie. It is rated R, so far from your typical family-friendly fairy tale. It is very graphic, and I do not recommend it for young children. With that being said, this movie deserves every award it did and didn’t receive. Sky really liked it, and it was a perfect example of how to create your own fairy tale.

Little Sis finished her Kumon writing workbook by writing a three paragraph essay about her favorite sport.


Independent Reads:

Little Sis is halfway through Flawless by Sara Shepard.

I am a quarter of a way through Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Last week, I just didn’t feel much like reading, and honestly didn’t know if this was the right book to read next or not. The first chapter kind of dragged a bit for me (more likely because my heart just wasn’t into it) but once I got to the part of the disappearing inmate, I was hooked.

Sky finished volume one of Monstress by MARJORIE LIU, and is anxious for the next installment.

American Literature:


The Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson.



The girls copied the first two paragraphs of The Declaration of Independence in cursive, adding them to their American history notebook.


(Little Sis)

Grammar/ Vocabulary:

Sky continued working in Barron’s E-Z English book, and Word Roots Level one workbook.

Little Sis continued working in her Word Roots Beginning workbook.

Words from this week:

dissolve, unalienable, impel, institute

We also had fun learning about and playing Lewis Carroll’s invention of “word links”, or word ladders.



The girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Little Sis continued working in 4th grade Kumon division workbook.

Sky learned about absolute value from Kiss My Math and worked on some worksheets.




World/ Geography:

We watched Indian Summers.



We started reading: What is the Declaration of Independence by Michael C. Harris.

We watched:

The Declaration of Independence recited by Tom Richey

The Pursuit of Happiness – What Did Jefferson Mean?…

Road to Revolution (Boston Tea Party, Intolerable Acts…

The Declaration of Independence (US History EOC Review…

Parliament Verses the Colonies (US History EOC Review all by Tom Richey – YouTube

How Not to Confuse the Declaration, Articles, Constitution Mr. Bettes Class- YouTube

What you might not know about the Declaration of…TedED- YouTube

Battles of Lexington and Concord ~The Game Station-YouTube


We also discussed, watched: PBS Black America Since MLK and I Still Rise.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

This is a wonderful, eye-opening series. I highly recommend it.


We watched and discussed:

The 13th Amendment Explained: The Constitution for Dummies… Hip Hughes History- YouTube

President-Elect Trump: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver -YouTube


The Arts


The girls and I made the Cheshire Cat ~ Dramatic Parrot -YouTube




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

We have our miles down to 20 minutes each. I haven’t walked this fast since my back surgery last year. Swimming really helped strengthen my back and lungs (and worked wonders for my anxiety, I am beginning to miss it already), now I am back to walking like before my injury (woo-hoo).

Peace for the journey.

*Patrick Henry

My Favorite Sport (Little Sis)

November 16, 2016

My favorite sport to participate in is cheerleading. I like cheerleading because you get to Stunt, Jump, and Tumble.

In Stunting, I am the back spot. My job is to lift and catch the flyer from the back. My favorite stunts are Pyramid, Pretty Sit, and Lib. Pyramid is where all of the stunt groups in your team join together to connect. Pretty Sit is where the flyer is sitting with her legs crossed, “looking pretty”, in the air. Last, is the stunt Lib. Lib is basically where the flyer is lifted into the air, standing with one leg folded back behind her while holding her arms in a high V.

For the jumps, my favorites are Pike Jumps, Toe Touches, and Hurkie. The Pike Jumps are when you jump with both legs in front of you. Toe Touches are when you jump with your right and left leg out to the sides, but not completely to the side. Last, is a Hurkie. Hurkie jumps are when you do a toe touch, but one of your legs is bent back off to the side.

In Tumbling, my favorites are Cartwheels, Forward Rolls, and Back Bends. I’m really good at my Forward Roll and getting better at my Cartwheels. I hope to get my Back Bend down soon.

I really like cheerleading, because I get to combine some of my favorite things and make friends too.

Week(s) In The Life (Seeing Red, Feeling Blue)

November 12, 2016

We ended up taking the week of Halloween off. Between the holiday, dentist appointments, homeschool gym, cheerleading, a birthday, and getting sick, I knew I could kiss any planned lessons goodbye.

I feel like we have caught the same bloody virus four times now. This crazy Indiana weather has tomato plants growing in our garden, and election morning we woke to find this.


It is kind of hard to get into fall while still surrounded by summer, tank-tops included. I can’t believe that in a little over two weeks, we will be decorating our Christmas tree. Throw in the time-change and an election, I am a mess. Not even candlelight seems to be helping.

Speaking of the election, that is what we dedicated the week too, but I am getting ahead of myself.




Language Arts


Being we all had an upper respiratory tract infection (thank goodness for lotion tissues), it kind of put a damper on us reading out loud, so we listened to audio while reading along with D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology and Fables by Arnold Lobel.

I hope we can continue reading Insanity next week.

Little Sis finished: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, and started Flawlessly. We also watched the first episode of the television show together too.


Mama’s Reading:

I finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I am torn on what I think about it.

As a reader, I didn’t like the book. I hated the ending. Was it entertaining? Yes, very much. Honestly, I didn’t know how it was going to end. It kept me guessing with each chapter. Would I ever read it again? No. I couldn’t stand any of the characters, and the ending was so disappointing.

As a writer, I thought it was great. In a time of predictable plot twists, I didn’t know how this story was going to end. I literally had to refrain myself from reading ahead or searching out reviews. That alone made the story worth it. I loved how the story was told from present-day Nick’s point of view, and the flashbacks from Amy’s diary. I thought the pacing of the novel was really good. Just when I thought I might have it all figured out, surprise. Though I couldn’t stand the characters, they were well developed (and unforgettable), and I really liked the media theme throughout the book. There is lots to discuss with this novel, especially regarding human behavior.

So where does it stand? I am glad I read it. Will it go down as an all-time favorite? No, and I would only recommend it if you are looking for a psychological page-turner where endings are not that big of a deal to you. This book would make an awesome psychology discussion though.

I am reading Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane now.



We started chapter 4 of Basher Basics: Creative Writing and the girls worked in their workbooks.

Little Sis will be writing her final three paragraph essay from her Kumon writing workbook this coming week, and then she is done with the workbook.

I don’t think I will purchase grade 5. I was just looking for something to help her get an idea of how writing is structured. She is actually pretty good when it comes to writing, spelling, and punctuation. The workbook, in some ways, was holding her back.

Little Sis does not need lots of repetition, yet anyway. She is also very advanced with her reading choices. She gets bored very easily. I need to make sure she is being challenged. She really enjoys writing her blog, and I don’t want to mess that up. So, I think that is what we will continue to focus on.

When she writes her blog, she decides everything. The writing process is still the same, whether the topic is about books or make-up. She researches the subject she writes about (just like you would a paper). I am more of her editor, helping her out when she needs it.

Sky is the complete opposite. She expresses herself extremely well verbally but has a hard time writing her thoughts down. She would do great speaking in public. So, we need to focus on writing more next year. She does great when she creates her own stories, which is why I wanted to start with a creative writing credit. Hopefully, this will help boost her writing confidence.



The girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Little Sis continued working in her workbook, and Sky started chapter 3 of Kiss My Math.





We watched: Indian Summers


Monday, we went over each (state and federal) candidate’s positions, then the girls cast their votes.

We watched and discussed the videos:

Electoral College (Walk With Me) – @MrBettsClass – YouTube

Election Basics Crash Course Government -YouTube

Does your vote count? The Electoral College explained…TedED – YouTube

Understanding the Primaries: Delegates, Democracy, and… VlogBrothers -YouTube

What is an Electoral College

Tuesday, we watched coverage of the election and the girls kept track of the electoral votes. We watched all the way to the end with Donald Trump’s acceptance speech.

Wednesday, we discussed the results.

On a side note, Sky and I also watched: School Segregation: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)- YouTube.


The Arts:


Sky finished her last comic assignment. It needed to include: a child, park, and balloon that comes to life at some point.




We watched the movies: The Book of Life, and the original Halloween (on Halloween night).


The girls had homeschool gym, and Little Sis is getting ready for her first cheerleading competition.

Peace for the journey. 🙂

Happy Birthday, My Little Sunshine

November 8, 2016


What a difference a year has made. I must admit, you caught me off guard with your new stage of independence (yup, blue hair). Where you once trailed your sister like her shadow, you are quickly growing into yourself (though, I wish you would slow down a bit).


Nevertheless, you still manage to brighten the gloomiest of days with just a smile. 🙂

(Yes, we are still wearing tank tops in November.)