Archive for April, 2017

Week in the Life (Cells, Cells, Everywhere Cells)

April 22, 2017

First, some good news following my last post.

Thanks to some great information shared in a Facebook homeschooling high school group I belong to, Sky and I talked some more about her graduating goals. I don’t know why I never thought about it before, probably because I was too busy checking off University acceptance boxes, but Sky can work part-time while taking a couple community college classes her senior year.

To enter community college, Sky would just need to take a placement test. Once she has all the basics covered, she could then transfer into art school. Our community college does not need a transcript to be able to take classes. So, instead of finishing her senior year homeschooling or needing to get a GED, she can enroll in a class or two. We both feel like a huge load has been lifted off our shoulders.

Which is a good thing, because I now have a pinched nerve in my neck (the bad news). Just like my back, where I first started noticing pain radiating around my hip, I noticed my shoulder throbbing a little more than usual lately. I just tossed it off as age. Then, I woke up Saturday not being able to lift my arm above my head.

September will be two years since my back surgery. I have been doing all my exercises to help keep my spine healthy, as I do not want to go through that ever again. Well, I guess my body didn’t receive the memo.

Not messing around this time, I’ve started doing the recommended neck exercises to relieve pressure off the nerve, and they have been helping. Keeping my fingers crossed it is not another herniated disk and I can heal without the need of surgery.


Language Arts

World Literature/ Handwriting:

The girls finished the last two stanzas of Visit to the Observatory by Harry Martinson.


Vocabulary / Grammar:

The girls edited: A Sentence a Day.

Mad Libs

Words: hearth, resound, plenitude, pulsates, unfathomable, abound

Creative Writing:

Reading: East of the Sun and West of the Moon

Seize the Story

Ten minutes of free writing.

I am allowing Sky to combine her Comic Relationship class she took, with her creative writing lessons. By the time we finish Seize the Story, she should be able to write and draw a story. The both use the same elements but in different ways.

Honestly, as someone that enjoys writing, I think drawing a story (graphic novels) is a lot harder. I have so much respect for comic authors after Sky took that class.

*Mama’s Reads*

I finished: The Women Next Door by Cass Green. I have mixed feelings about this book.

First, it is written very well. My problem is not with the writing. I just don’t really think this is a psychological thriller. Psychological, yes. Thriller, no. There were no thrills for me, no action. The plot pretty much centers around how two characters handle a certain situation, think Thelma and Louise. I honestly didn’t care for any of the characters; I didn’t even feel sorry for the victim. There is nothing memorable here.

I didn’t care for Gone Girl either, but I will probably never forget it. That is what makes it such a great story.

Okay, so why the mixed feelings? If I were to rate this book as a psychological thriller, I would give it 3 stars (which is the lowest I will go, unless a story is a complete rubbish. I respect the work it takes to write a novel, good or bad.).

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean this is a terrible novel. It just wasn’t for me. I do think this would be a great starting point for readers that want to read this genre but dislike all the gore that comes along with reading these types of books. I am interested in reading some of her YA novels, and I will more than likely read her next book.

I am reading: Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen now.


Warming up with XtraMath.

Little Sis: Decimals and Fractions workbook.

Sky learned how to solve for x (one variable) from Kiss My Math.

Just like she had a hard time grasping subtraction, division, and negative numbers, she is struggling with inverse operations. So, we will practice a bit more before moving on.

I, on the other hand, am enjoying algebra. So many people have asked me when they learn I am homeschooling high school: “What about algebra?”.  I mean, I didn’t exactly enjoy it the first time around, not until I had the most awesome intermediate algebra teacher that is, but I really like Danica McKellar’s way of explaining it. If only all these resources were available when I was in school.

I have always liked puzzles anyway. I often think what I might do once my homeschooling journey has ended. I mean, all this knowledge should be good for something, right? Maybe tutoring. There are lots of up and coming homeschoolers in our state. They don’t even need to be homeschoolers, I have been hanging around lots of school children lately with all my girls’ activities. 🙂



I do have labs planned to go along with this course, but for now, we are reading through Basher Science Microbiology, The Way We Work by David Macaulay, and watching videos. This week was all about cells.

Flu VS. Human Cells The Kitchen Scientist (NPR) -YouTube.

Insights into cell membranes TedEd-YouTube.

The Wacky History of Cell Theory-YouTube



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


European History/ Geography:

We watched: Rick Steves’ European Easter.


We watched: Crash Course’s newest installment of film history videos. Sky is so excited about this credit. I am too, I finally have a place to add all her favorite YouTubers, like the Nostalgia Critic, because she has learned SO much from them. Not to mention all the films she watches and critiques from an artistic point of view. I’ve mentioned several times that she should write reviews for movies.

The Arts


In honor of Little Sis’s cheerleading competition this weekend, we drew a cheerleader from Draw So Cute- YouTube.


Extracurricular activities:

Sky had equestrian lessons, and Little Sis had cheerleading practice.

Peace for the journey.


Week In The Life ( Scandinavia )

April 15, 2017

It never seems to fail, I write a post on how well our lessons are going, then something happens to change all that.

I mean, it is not like I didn’t see it coming or anything. Sky will turn 17 this year, 17! She will officially start 11 grade in the fall. Only one more year of school left.

When she turned 16, lots of people would ask when she would be getting her drivers license. At the time, she wasn’t interested in driving. Sky, has always been about a year “behind” her peers. I hate explaining it like that because of course, she is not behind, she is right where she needs to be. However, I will use it as an example for the sake of comparison.

Well, I made a prediction that Sky becomes 17, she will be ready, and guess what?  I was right. She informed me this week, over algebra word problems, that she wanted to get her drivers license and a part time job. There were other things as well, something along the lines of: “I’m not a baby anymore, mom”. So, we made a list of all the things that need to happen in order for it all to happen.

All this time, I have been planning to write Sky a transcript and issue her diploma, and I still hope to, but for the first time, we talked about getting her GED instead. After all, I did just write a post about how their choices were not mine to make.

I’ve always been open about my reasons for homeschooling. Sky, has always been my square peg. I’ve written here over the years about the tears I’ve shed because of that damned round hole society seems to want everyone to fit. My goal was always to do whatever necessary for her to get an education. I think this is how most parents feel, no matter which educational path chose. Well, my feelings haven’t changed just because she is older now.

So, our lessons may take a bit of a different turn to free up more time for driving lessons, making a resume, and job interviews. I mean, all the basics will still be there. I am just not worried so much about what colleges want anymore, like AP, ACT, SAT scores and writing college essays. At least, for this child. 🙂

Sky is a very smart girl quite capable of making her own decisions. After all, I should know.




Language Arts


This is one of those areas I will be cutting back on as far as using “curricula”. Instead of Sky working in the Barron’s E-Z English and Word Root workbooks, which bored the hell out of her just to have resources to spice up her transcript, I will continue her grammar, spelling, and vocabulary lessons like I did before she started high school, through what we are reading and writing.

We will continue using Mad Libs though because the girls like them.

Sky writes fan fiction every day. When she is not sure how to spell or what the definition of a word is, she looks it up on her tablet. We now carry a dictionary and calculator around with us everywhere. Both girls have learned how to spell by writing on their own. While reading aloud on the Kindle, if the girls come to a word they don’t understand, they tap on it to bring up the definition. Sky has learned more about analyzing literature or the structure of a story from watching her favorite YouTubers.  She is constantly bringing stuff to my attention. She loves analyzing films. This is something she does in her free time.

So, the girls will stick with editing A Sentence a Day and freewriting for 10 minutes, working on whatever story they want to write. Which brings me to–

Creative Writing:


I’ve dropped the fairy-tale assignment. Both girls have mentioned that they didn’t want to write a fairy-tale. What a better way to get someone to hate writing then by making them write something they don’t want to. Especially when studying creative writing.


Seize the Story

We also started: East of the Sun and West and of the Moon and other tales by Asbjornsen and Moe.

We watched and had a wonderful discussion about Villains and Deformity from Jen Campbell -YouTube. This is a subject that none of us had ever even thought about before. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.


World Literature/Handwriting:

The girls copied and we discussed the first two stanzas of Visit to the Observatory by Harry Martinson.


(Little Sis)

Vocabulary Words :

observatory, Nebula, naivety, majesty


*Mama’s Reads*

I finished: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood. Though I liked The Killer Next Door more, I absolutely love Alex Marwood’s writing. She just has a way of writing memorable characters, both good and bad. Which makes her stories realistic, naturally scary and horrific. Besides, The Killer Next Door has the best story ending ever. Not only is this novel a favorite of the year, but it has also been added to my all-time favorite books list. There are very few psychological thrillers I would read more than once. Actually, this may be the only one.

However, The Darkest Secret was a bit hard to get through. Without giving away any spoilers, the story centers around a missing toddler twin. It is not that the story was gory or anything, but the topic itself. Besides a few, the characters in this story are not nice, or lovable. In fact, the character’s behaviors in this story sickened me. The fact that the author could arise such emotion in the first place, is why I enjoy her writing so much. This, in my opinion, is what Gone Girl should have been. Though Amy will probably go down as one of the scariest villains of all time, the story itself is unrealistic and frustrating. This has a bit of the same, but much more realistic.  4 out of 5 stars.

I am reading: The Woman Next Door by Cass Green now.



Both girls warmed up at XtraMath.

Little Sis: Decimals and Fractions- Kumon

Sky: Solving algebra word problems, Kiss My Math

Watched: Can you solve the virus riddle? – Lisa Winer – TedED YouTube



Reading: Science In The News A-Z  April Issue.

Basher Microbiology



Injecting Yourself with Killer Bacteria – SciShow-YouTube

Mozart’s Mysterious Death – SciShow YouTube

What Happens If You Don’t Take out a Splinter? – SciShow YouTube


*I listened to an another amazing podcast by Sam Harris and Lawrence Krauss entitled: Beauty and Terror- YouTube.  I could write a whole post on Krauss’s quote: “The scientific method is a natural filter for fake news.” Yes! That is the whole foundation of our homeschool.



The weather was beautiful this week to walk around the block.



European History/ Geography:

This is another change, I just don’t think we will be able to get through all of world history in time. We still have several European countries to get through, as well as American history and civics to even think about getting into Asian or African history (which makes me sad). So, if I can’t give it all the attention those countries deserve, I’m not even going to worry about it.

Reading: The Magic Tree House Vikings Fact Tracker.

I printed off a map of the Scandinavian countries to add into the girls’ timeline binder.


One good thing, we have learned about Denmark.



The Arts


We made Easter Baskets from Draw So Cute -YouTube.



Extracurricular Activities:

Sky had equestrian lessons and Little Sis is getting ready for her cheerleading competition.

Peace for the journey.

Week(s) In The Life (Are We Having Fun, Guys?)

April 8, 2017

Well, this was probably one of the longest breaks we have ever taken from our school. Of course, learning still continues whether we have lessons or not. I will even add, that some of the best lessons are learned outside of “school”.

The girls are growing up. I feel like so much has happened since I last sat down to write. I really don’t know where to even begin. I guess the best place to start, would be with myself.

I feel with the girls grow older, their story really isn’t mine to tell anymore. This space has always been mine to write and work out my problems surrounding our school, and to have a record that we really are learning (mostly to help ease my doubts). Right now, school feels good. I’ve made peace with my frustrations. I realized all I wanted was to have well educated, self-sufficient children, and I feel like I have succeeded in that department. Whether the girls go on to college or not, is not my decision to make. Their future does not belong to me. This journey was never about how successful they might become, but always that they were able to care and nurture themselves, and contentment.  As their partner, I will always try to give my most helpful advice, but it will always come back to what they decide. You can lead a horse to water…… All I can hope for is that I made them thirsty enough.

Sky and I have had a lot of wonderful conversations these last few weeks. I love hearing opinions she has formed. I have always believed in allowing the girls the freedom to question and think for themselves. I mean, that was one of my intentions for starting this blog, because of questions I had about education. I know for a fact, that I am not the same person I was when I first ventured out on this homeschooling journey. I am not the same person I was when starting this blog. I, like the girls, have grown.

I listened to an awesome podcast with one of my favorite scientists, Lawrence Krauss (Joe Rogan Experience #938 found on YouTube if anyone is interested) where he talked about how we outgrow our parents. In this case, he was talking about religion. However, the same can be said about education too.  We are not the same society when public education first began. School just doesn’t work for some children anymore. Homeschooling will not work for all children either. It should always be about what works best for them, and you.

This is our journey. Boy, what a journey it has been too. 🙂


*Mama’s Reads*

I sure have read a lot of books since I last wrote; 4 to be exact. Some good, some great.

For starters, I finished: I See You by Clare Mackintosh. I think I finished it in like 4 days. It was alright, it held my interest, obviously. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I liked: I Let You Go much better. I could see the author was trying for something a bit different, and that is why I gave it 4 stars. However, it was a little too far fetched in my opinion, which never really made it scary to me. I would still recommend it if you enjoy thrillers though, and I Let You Go, for sure.

Next, I read: The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood. Oh my goodness, I loved this book so. 5 out of 5 stars, and it will be on my top favorites list of the year, for sure. It included everything that makes me enjoy reading. Great writing, great fleshed out characters, and some seriously dark humor. So for a quick review, horror, psychological thrillers, and historical fiction are my favorite genres. I realize, this book will not be for everyone. It does contain graphic descriptions of human decay. I feel like, if you enjoy Stephen King’s sense of humor, you would enjoy this novel. This is the story I have been waiting for. I am reading: The Darkest Secret by her now. Thank You, Alex Marwood.

What does one even pick up to read after finishing such a find as up above? A romance novel, at least that is what I thought. Boy, I was wrong. When I first started reading: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, I was questioning why I even had this title on my “To Be Read” list. I can not stand romance novels, but I guess I was trying to read outside my genre. I thought about ditching it several times (I caught myself eye rolling way too many times in the first few chapters.), I am so glad that I didn’t though. I really don’t want to say a whole lot about it. I feel like, the surprise is what made it such a great novel. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars as well, and for romance, that is saying a lot. Dare I even admit that this book made me cry, more than once.

“Dear Colleen,

Thank You for writing such a wonderful story.  It, for sure will be listed on my favorite reads of the year. ” 🙂

Last but not least, I read: He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker. This is another one, that I have no idea how it made it onto my list. I think I checked it out on a whim while waiting for: The Darkest Secret to come available. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Another page turning thriller that held my attention. I feel it too, is a bit different from all the thrillers that are being released this year. Though the ending was tied up well, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I liked that.


*Mama and Papa’s Shows*

So, what have we been watching that has held our interests lately, while we wait for the next season of Game of Thrones to come out?

We finished: The Last Kingdom on Netflix. We really liked this show a lot (come on season 2). After finishing this series, and thanks to my sister for recommending it to us, we watched: Stranger Things. How in the world had I missed this show!? Papa and I can’t wait until season 2 for this show either.

After finishing that, we started watching the show: Vikings on Prime. Papa is hooked, he loves it, he says more than Game of Thrones (excuse me !?). We just started season 4, part 1. I am a little nervous as to what we will watch once we finish this show. Thank goodness, the weather is warming up, so our garden can keep us busy while waiting for all these new seasons to be released.

Well, I mentioned the podcast up above, so I think that just about wraps it up for us.




Language Arts


Both girls: A Sentence a Day and Mad Libs

Words: oath, graft, stealth, telemarketer

Sky: Barron’s E-Z English, Word Roots level 1

Little Sis: Word Roots Beginning


American Literature/ Handwriting:

The girls finally finished copying: Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes.


We finished by listening to the whole thing being read on YouTube. Lots of great discussion from this poem. It has become one of my favorites.


Creative Writing:

Reading: We Read Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman. This was a perfect follow-up story to read after finishing his book about Norse Mythology.

We continued reading: Seize the Story, where we learned about the importance of secondary characters. During their 10 minutes of free writing, the girls should be coming up with their secondary characters for their fairy tale adaptation.

We watched: The History of Beauty & The Beast | Fairy Tales with Jen Campbell- YouTube.



Both girls: XtraMath.

Sky: reviewed combining like terms at Khan Academy.

Little Sis: Kumon Decimals and Fractions workbook.





Reading: We read The Magic Tree House Vikings Before Sunrise.

A great movie, that we have already watched, to go along with this block would be The Secret of Kells.

We also watched the PBS Masterpiece: The Walk Invisible about the Bronte Sisters. I was actually a little disappointed with this show. I really had been looking forward to it. I think I understand where the show was trying to go, with how the sisters couldn’t rely on their bother for any financial help, but I still feel they could have done with a little less him and more of them.




Reading: We read the March Issue of Science in the News A-Z.

We watched: Taxonomy: Life’s Filing System – Crash Course Biology-YouTube.

The girls made notes.


*Short tangent*

Here is why I have a problem with using textbooks and curricula for science. Bacteria and Archaea are no longer classified as part of a kingdom. They now have their own domain, because they are the largest group of living things, not the animal kingdom as thought before. So, now there are only 4 kingdoms of living things, not 6.

Science lives, it grows and evolves the same as everything around us. Once you write knowledge down in a textbook, that textbook is already outdated. This is why I use the Basher books for my spine and supplement with videos and podcasts for our lessons. This is why I love using SciShow videos and Science in the News as a supplement for our science courses (and why it is so important to have them as resources), they stay up to date with all the new scientific information.

*End of tangent*



Reading: Basher Microbiology.

Watched: Old & Odd: Archaea, Bacteria & Protists…Crash Course

Prokaryotic Cell Model – YouTube

Fungi: Death Becomes Them – CrashCourse Biology

10 Fantastic Fungi Superpowers SciShow- YouTube

Fairy Rings – SciShow YouTube


We were lucky enough to have fungi growing in our backyard on an old tree stump that we observed.



The girls had homeschool gym, we walked around the block, did yoga, Sky had Equestrian lessons (she is cantering, yay), and Little Sis had cheerleading practice.


The Arts


We drew Disney’s Belle from Dramatic Parrot- YouTube.


I guess that about gets us all caught up with for now.

Peace for the journey.