Archive for January, 2017

Week in the Life (Do You Want To Build A Snowflake?)

January 28, 2017

What a crazy winter we’ve had. Over the weekend, I had all the windows open letting the house air out. Today, we are huddled around the wood stove. On top of that, I think I’ve spotted the sun twice so far this winter. I can deal with the cold alright, however, I do need sunlight. It has not been cold enough to snow much, so it has been very rainy and gloomy. Even my little sunshine, Little Sis, has been getting a bit grouchy.  Hopefully, with the girls’activities starting back up this week will help manage our “doldrums”.



Language Arts


We started reading Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. The girls were a little bored at first but gained interest as the story went on.

Grammar/ Vocabulary :

The girls worked on their workbooks and their words this week were:

pioneer, plain, connive, tyrants, scheme

It is interesting when going over vocabulary words with the girls. I pick words from either the story we are reading or the poem we are dissecting. I choose words that I think they know, and some words that I think they don’t know. Sometimes, I am surprised by the words they do know, and question where they might have learned them from. Sometimes, I am surprised that they can’t define words I assumed they already knew.

We added a new book into our lessons that I absolutely love: A Sentence a Day by Samantha Prust. Each day the girls are given an incorrect sentence to edit.


The girls copied the first two stanzas of the poem: Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes. He has become one of my favorite poets.



Creative Writing:


We read Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky.

We also started another book that I absolutely love: Seize the Story by Victoria Hanley. The girls learned about free writing and began writing, ten minutes a day, their first creative writing assignment of a fairy tale adaptation.

*Mama’s reads*

I finished Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson. I did not like this one as much as The Kind Worth Killing. Part one gave me the creeps. As someone that actually suffers from anxiety, I could feel the main character’s anxiety which literally gave me nightmares. I was like: finally, a scary story. The kind of story, that had me scared to walk down the hall in the dark. Then, part two happened. Between constant repetition, and reading from the “stalkers” perspective, ruined the whole story for me. I forced myself to finish it because I had invested so much time into it already.

I have about 50 pages left on The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon. This story reminds me of the old monster movies. The ones that have an actual plot with character development, not just gore. I think I may have found another new favorite author.



The girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Sky continued reviewing simplifying algebraic expressions. Little Sis worked in her workbook.



This week was all about snowflakes. We watched:

(Little Sis)

Save the Snowman- SciShow Kids

Where Do Snowflakes Come From? SciShow Kids

Snowflake Safari by SciFri: ~ YouTube


Science of Snow- It is Okay to be Smart

The science of snowflakes”…TedEd

Building a perfect igloo takes cool science! – It’s Okay to be Smart

8 Beautiful, Weird, and Scary Things Ice Can Do – SciShow ~YouTube



We walked the 3 miles from Walk Away the Pounds, Just Dance (Wii), Little Sis made the division 4 cheer team, and Sky had her first horseback riding lesson.


She loved it.




We watched the PBS series Victoria. Both girls are loving this series. Being that we already studied this time period makes it even better. Both girls are cheering on Prince Albert, even though we know the ending.



We read The Magic Tree House: Balto of the Blue Dawn and the Fact Tracker guide: Dog sledding and other Extreme Sports.



We watched: the snowflake man – YouTube

We also watched the first episode of season two: Mercy Street. This is another series the girls love. They would want to watch both Victoria and Mercy Street even if it didn’t count as part of our school. They enjoy them just as much as Game of Thrones and Pretty Little Liars.


We watched:5 Surprising Facts About U.S. Presidential Inaugurations…National Geographic- YouTube.


The Arts

First, we made paper snowflakes, video from Scishow Kids- YouTube.



Then, we drew Olaf from Disney’s Frozen- Dramatic Parrot- YouTube.


Peace for the journey.


Week in the Life (You Better Put On A Coat)

January 21, 2017

Well, this was our first week officially back to school, and the start of a new school year. I have tried to follow a regular school schedule starting in July and ending in May (Indiana’s school schedule), it just doesn’t work for us.

While on break, I was looking back over our previous year to see if I felt we needed to change anything. I am actually really happy with our progress. Knowledge builds upon knowledge. Do I think the girls’ knowledge has grown in the past year? Yes, very much so, and I don’t need yearly testing to see it. I was so caught up in learning about educating high school, making sure that I was doing everything right, that I forgot my original reasons for homeschooling; to become independent learners. To understand how knowledge is obtained, to be able to come to your own conclusions and form opinions, to be able to think for yourself. To understand that learning never ends.

It really is amazing when you are able to stand back and just observe your children actually doing what you worked so hard to install. These past few weeks, I did exactly that.

Sky has been researching how to properly take care of sea monkeys.


She had them once before, but I killed them while trying to clean out their tank. This time around, she is in complete control (as well as taking care of her Betta fish, which she has been doing a great job with). When she has trouble spelling a word or understanding what a word means, she looks it up on her tablet. Thanks to technology, we now have traveling calculators and dictionaries at our fingertips. Both girls research purchases, Google anything they might not know, or are confused with and ask for help when needed. The same exact thing that I do. They know how to learn. They literally do not need me anymore, and you know what? It feels great.

I feel like a mother polar bear that has taught her cubs how to survive and are now ready to go out on their own. I can honestly say that I have no regrets and nothing that I wished I would have done differently (except to not stress so much, they are learning). I am excited to see their journey unfold.

I am no longer worried about getting everything done, because we never will, and life isn’t a race. You can’t force learning, and as long as we are moving forward I am content.



Language Arts

The girls copied and we discussed the poem: It Sifts from Leaden Sieves by Emily Dickinson.


(Little Sis)

I do plan to focus more on American Literature this year.

Vocabulary words:

leaden, sieves (which they actually remembered from Edward Lear), alabaster, celestial, ruffles, artisans

The girls worked in their root word workbooks, and Sky is continuing with her grammar book.

Creative Writing

Reading: I read Neil Gaiman’s version of Hansel and Gretel.

We watched: The History of Hansel & Gretel | Fairy Tales With Jen -YouTube

and Sky and I watched the movie Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. I actually liked it and thought it was a clever steampunk adaptation of the fairy tale.


Independent Reading:

Little Sis is reading: Wicked, book 6 from the Pretty Little Liar series.

Sky started the graphic novel series: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples.

Mama’s reads:

So Far, I am in my 4th book of 2017.

After finishing Mystic River, the last book that I read in 2016, I started reading: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I loved it. It reminded me so much of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (one of my favorite television shows). The writing was great, the character development was great, the plot twists, though I saw one coming, was great. It was a wonderful start to the new year.

Next, was Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon. This was another wonderful read. I really, really liked it. It will probably be one of my 2017 favorites. This is what Girl on the Train should have been. There were no surprising plot twists, I pretty much figured it out early on. That didn’t matter. I felt that this was more of a story about character growth than an actual thriller. Though the characters were flawed, the writer really made you care about what happened to them. The writing was beautiful, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

After that, I picked up I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. Okay, I am honestly going to say that I didn’t see the plot twist coming. This book is a little like Shutter Island in that the author lays everything out for you, it just depends on your perception. This was just okay. It held my attention, and I wanted to see how it ended. The abuse though, was incredibly hard to get through, which should be. I read horror and this was a really tough read. So, I will leave you with a warning, if you don’t think you can handle reading physical or mental abuse skip this one.

I am halfway through Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson now. I was a bit disappointed with this after reading The Kind Worth Killing. It took me several chapters to get into it, I actually put it aside for awhile. About 1/3 of the way through it does pick up. I am not going to lie, this book is giving me the creeps. I think I may need to take a break from thrillers after this one. 🙂



The girls warmed up with XtraMath.

Little Sis is almost done with her division workbook. We will continue with Kumon’s fractions and decimals. I actually like the building of math skills instead of learning some division, or some decimals one year, then some a bit harder the next year and so on. That actually doesn’t make sense to me.

I actually plan on sticking with Danica McKellar’s math series. I really like how she builds each skill onto the next. I plan starting Math Doesn’t Suck with Little Sis after she finishes Kumon’s 4th-grade geometry and measurement workbook.

Sky learned how to multiply variables from Kiss My Math. I printed off worksheets for her to practice from I am excited that she has finally made it to Algebra.

We also played all kinds of games that I didn’t keep track of while on break.


Reading: We read Magic Tree House Polar Bear’s Past Bedtime and the Nonfiction Polar Bear Guide.

We watched: PBS Nature Snowbound: Animals of Winter

Animals with Winter Coats- Scishow Kids – YouTube

How do Whales, Penguins, and Polar Bears Keep Warm?…Scishow Kids- YouTube

I printed off a map of the arctic circle and the girls took notes.


ABC teach Printable Worksheet: Maps: Arctic Region

We also read January’s issue Year in Review Science in the News A-Z.



We watched: How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist…TedEd -YouTube


The girls had homeschool gym. We started working out during the week again with Walk Away the Pounds the 3 miles and Yoga Walk.

Little Sis has been practicing her try out routine for cheerleading that starts back up next week. I am also meeting with someone this week about getting Sky signed up for horseback riding lessons. She showed interest after watching Victoria on PBS.





We watched: PBS Masterpiece Theater’s Victoria.


Sky and I watched Donald Trumps’s first press conference and PBS Charlie Rose’s interview of House Speaker Paul Ryan. We all watched Donald Trumps’s presidential inauguration.


The Arts


We learned how to draw a polar bear from Draw So Cute-YouTube.


Peace for the journey.

A Year In The Life (Let’s Talk About Books Baby)

January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!

If 2016 can be remembered for anything, homeschooling wise, it probably will be known as the year of reading.

I just had back surgery toward the end of 2015, so 2016 was my year of recovery. Besides adding in more physical activities like yoga, walking, and swimming,  I discovered BookTube.

Since the girls are older now, and able to discover their own interests without help from me, frees up all kinds of time to devote to my own interests, like reading. Yes, I love big books and I can not lie. Don’t believe me, the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series alone, so far totals about 4223 pages. That is not including A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms short stories either. When it comes to books, size does not matter (sorry, I am on a roll, and maybe a bit of a sugar rush from over the holidays).

Before I start going into my favorites reads from 2016 though, I want to write about our favorite homeschooling reads first. (Papa has a pretty interesting list too.) This list does not include the girls’ favorite independent reads like the Pretty Little Liar series or the Monstress graphic novel. This post would be way too long if I included everything.

What I will add though, Sky is my visual reader. Her favorites are geared more toward graphic novels and movie scripts (visual art). She has her favorite movie review tubers like I have book review tubers. Little Sis is my romantic/ thriller reader. Though our preferences differ, we both enjoy the written word. We internally visualize. I am actually going to hold my tongue about how one is not better than the other, or how unfair the “one size fits all” education only benefits one type of learner. I have written lots about this already, and honestly, I am going to try being a little bit more positive this year. We are homeschoolers. 🙂

With all that being said, in 2016 we read a total of 63 stories (9 of them being non-fiction), 25 individual poems and 1 book collection of poems. So, what were our favorites, what stories do we wished we never read, and what stories were just okay?

First up, is our favorites as a whole. If you have read any of my posts before, you already know how hard it is for me to find a book that both girls agree on. So when it does happen, I literally dance a little jig which the girls have labeled as my happy dance.

The first book that we all enjoyed reading was: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. Others were: The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the Princess Dairy: Marie Antoinette, the Dear America Diary: A Picture of Freedom, The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and the short story: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Favorite folktale/fairy tales were: Beauty and the Beast and The Song of Tam Lin.

Sky’s favorites (16): The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Ogre of Olglefort by Eva Ibbotson, “This was a different story in a sea of same.”, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

Little Sis’s favorites (11): Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, and she loved all the fairy tales we read. *Note to self* I need to include more stories that Little Sis will enjoy this year.

There were lots of “okays”, and the “I don’t ever want to see these books again” goes to The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and The Jungle Book by Kipling.

Favorite poems (We read poems from World, British, and American literature): How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Little Sis, she enjoyed learning about the true love story of Elizabeth and Robert Browning too, she is such a romantic.), Ghosts by Emily Dickinson (Sky’s favorite), both girls enjoyed the Poisoned Apple collection by Christine Happermann, poems by Langston Hughes,  and Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl.


Mama’s Reads

At the start of 2016, I was still reading from A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series. I read a total of 30 books. I added 3 new authors to my all time favorites list, one of them being a complete surprise.

I love the Game of Thrones book series, the show is just “okay” to me. I am glad that they made it, and I enjoy watching it, but it is the books that I love. I talked about them so much, that Sky decided to pick them up and read them too. Little Sis, is to the point of eye rolls and leaving the room whenever the topic is brought up because she knows we will discuss them for hours. Thank you, George R.R. Martin, for making medieval history interesting and for the hours of discussions between my teenage daughter and me.

After finishing, and waiting for the next book in the series to come out, I didn’t know what the heck I was going to read. I mean, where does one even start after reading a series like Game of Thrones? Then, I discovered The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. She made me eat all my negative opinions about the YA genre. I loved this series, at times I could feel goose bumps rising on the back of my neck. After being so disappointed in the horror genre, she gave me hope and the creeps. This was probably the spookiest series/ story I read all year, without shedding one ounce of gore.

Other favorite reads of 2016: Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Room by  Emma Donoghue, Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (even though I didn’t care much for The Shining), Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin, and Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

Honorable mention: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. Though this book wasn’t a favorite, I am glad to have read it overall.

Books that I would have liked, if not for the ending: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. I mention them only because, though I didn’t like them, they still made me think. I will never forget characters from these books (Amy, may be the most terrifying villain ever.), and whether or not they were favorites, that makes reading them worthwhile. They entertained me, and sometimes happy endings can get predictable.

I read a lot of: “they were okay” books, even started to worry if I would find another “great” one before the end of the year. However, I did read some that I just didn’t like. Whether it be the writing style/ prose, or the plot, they were just not for me. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, Horns by Joe Hill (sorry Joe), and Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

So, that wraps up our year of reading. I would love to know what your favorite reads of the year were. I could talk books for hours.

Peace for the journey.