Archive for October, 2017

A Week in the Life (Pain)

October 28, 2017

I think after all this year’s changes, we finally have found our groove again. I knew it was only a matter of time. I still catch myself adding on extra work. Now the girls are not afraid to call me out on it though.

I don’t understand my need to keep adding on resources. I look at my notes and think, how many resources does one truly need to learn about dogs. This is why I love being able to journal alongside the girls. It gets me away from the internet. They are learning.

One thing I really like about using The Thinking Tree journals is that it holds me accountable for the resources we use. It basically tells you to find 4 -8 resources you want to use to research your subject. These are the resources you will use for the year.

I think a lot of my problem is that I want to learn every bloody thing there is to learn about something (my OCD). This would not necessarily be a bad thing if I had an endless amount of time. Unfortunately, that is not the case. This is another reason I decided to use curricula this year. If there is a subject that the girls want to dive deeper into, they now have the time to do so on their own.

Little Sis has no problem finding new nail ideas to try out. Sky has no problem finding new film YouTubers or art ideas. Sky watched all of the Crash Course psychology videos on her own because she wanted to. The majority of Sky’s film study videos are ones that she found and shared with me. I still believe that a child learns best by following their interests.

Something that the girls have shown interest in lately is trying out more vegan recipes. Little Sis is almost a vegetarian, with the exception of eating seafood occasionally. I have mostly given up dairy with the exception of cheese once in awhile. We rarely eat beef or pork because of Papa’s heart disease anyway. It just feels like it is time to take the next step.

So this week, all our meals were either vegetarian or vegan. Some were major hits (I’m talking about you veggie enchilada rice and black bean dip) with the girls fighting over the leftovers. Others, like the vegan bbq pineapple pizza, were hits for some but not for the Papa.


We will still eat poultry and fish every now and then, Papa loves them too much, but more as a special treat than the everyday meal.


I purchased another Thinking Tree book, while it was on sale, that we will be using for culinary arts (along with the Teen Cooks book). As a secular family, I will say this book is not secular in any way. It is written from a Christain perspective and contains many verses from the bible. However, it makes for a great conversation starter. I’ve never agreed with the one-sided learning of any kind. Society is not one-sided. In fact, this is exactly the point of the book Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.

This has also been my beef with the whole “socialization” argument. Just because you go, or went to school, does not make you properly socialized.

Anyway, what I do like about Mom Files is that the topics are listed in alphabetical order. It fits in perfectly with the girls spelling journals. This week, the girls made the apple pie recipe. The pie crust recipe is from the Feeding the Whole Family cookbook. It would have been vegan if not for the honey used in the recipe. We don’t use much honey anymore, just once in awhile as a treat purchased from farmers. However, I want to make each of these recipes exactly as printed before tweaking them myself. The girls have really enjoyed our baking days. They don’t even consider them a part of our school. Like yoga, or drawing,


(From Teach Yourself to Draw, The Thinking Tree)


(From Draw So Cute YouTube)

or fashion design, or cheer,


(Little Sis, inspired by her favorite actress Audrey Hepburn’s classic black dress.)

or film study.


(Sky wanted to add a Stanely Kubrick film to her study. This is her favorite section of the Portfolio, The Thinking Tree.)

We also learned about dogs by watching 9 Scishow videos on YouTube,

Cats from reading the Handbook of Nature Study,


and Charles Wheatstone and his invention of the polar clock.


We watched a couple of Djembe videos,

learned about Djibouti,


as well as some of the same.


Sky and I are still in chapter 4 of Braving the Wilderness. It is a very meaty chapter. So many discussions.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween.

Peace for the journey.



A Week in the Life (Fear)

October 20, 2017

Well, so far my plan is working. My goal was to have a set amount of time put aside for lessons, allowing for plenty of free time to explore interests.

Little Sis has been busy making slime. She is wanting to start selling it to earn money for cheer camp this summer. She is getting really good at making it too. She has also been playing around with designing her nails so that they look good in her slime videos. If she was not given the freedom to explore these interests, look at all the learning she would have been missing out on. She is mastering skills, learning what matters to her.


Sky is still uncertain about what she wants to do regarding her interests. That is okay. We had lots of talks this week, especially since starting Sociology, about how society adds the pressure of teens needing to know what they want to do right after high-school. Hell, I am still learning about myself.

I actually learned something these past two years of pushing  “college approved” transcript lessons. Even though the workload has gotten harder, they really are not learning to take responsibility for themselves. They still have a teacher telling them what to learn. They are still told what they need to do and if they don’t care about what they are learning, then what happens to them?

Then, if they do make it to college,  it’s like a whole new world. This is why I love the Thinking Tree Journals so much. It places the responsibility of learning back onto the children. I have seen a big difference in just two weeks.

Both girls can take as long as they need to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life. There really is no hurry. It is a very big world with lots to see and do. So many choices and we never stop learning.

We are no longer the same society that existed when schools began. Where the school was once the only place to gain knowledge, I now am able to carry knowledge around with me in my back pocket. Now, schools are outdated.

I feel like Sky needs time to deschool all over again. We need time to build that trust back up. There is only so much that Papa and I can provide for them. They understand that. They both have future goals that they will need to eventually figure out. Little Sis is already doing that.

This year, I’ve decided that Sky will tag along with Little Sis’s learning journey, while she decides what she wants to do. Our lessons have always been the other way around. I have noticed in these last two weeks of journaling, Little Sis was beginning to get gaps in her learning. Things she never really learned how to do because my focus was more on Sky’s learning.

So, what are the most important topics one needs to learn? What topics will they both need to know that will help fuel those future interests? Reading, writing, and mathematics. All other interests branch off from these topics. Between The Thinking Tree journals and Learn Math Fast, we’ve got them covered. I honestly wish both had been created a whole lot sooner.

One thing I do want to mention when first flipping to fun-schooling, is to be prepared for your children to feel lost at first. Up until now, if you were like me, they have been spoon-fed their education. Fun-schooling places the responsibility back on them. Like when they first learned to eat using utensils; it was a little messy at first.

We are using the journals a bit different than how they are “intended”. Though, that is kind of the point of us ruling the curriculum. The girls don’t fill out a certain amount of pages in a day. We fill out the pages as we need to. Sometimes that is one page a day, sometimes it’s more. One day they might write out the notes. Then the next day they create the picture. It is all up to you, and this year I am joining them with a journal of my own.

So many times you will hear homeschooling parents mention how they are learning right along with their children. Now you can work right along beside them with your own Mom School journal. I have really enjoyed the time we share together. I know it won’t be long before the girls start going their own separate ways.



Besides their spelling journals, this week the girls added their own vocabulary words, from the short story that we read last week, to their core journal. The Thinking Tree Journals have a page that might say: find 10, 6 letter vocabulary words from the story you are currently reading. It is up to the girls to pick out their own words. So their lists are different. Yep, it’s their responsibility. 😉

I am really glad I purchased volume one of the Learn Math Fast books. I almost bought volume 2 on up. The author teaches you how to mentally figure out the answers to the problems, like 56×11. I learned a few tricks too. Yes, I can now figure out the product in my head. Sky is doing great. I am so proud of her. She has come such a long way. This is one area where I found Little Sis to have a few gaps.

Something else I am doing this year is Little Sis and I have a create a meal plan journal page. So, I thought why not let the girls create their own meal plan for the family one day. They are in charge of picking out the recipes and making sure that all the ingredients get added to the shopping list. Then, the girls help make the meals. Every other week we will take turns choosing the menu for that day.


(That is Sky’s Portfolio on the bottom.)

I purchased the book, Teens Cook by Megan Carle to help influence some of their choices. Little Sis’s journal page came up first, so she got the pick first.

She chose baked chili crusted tilapia with roasted asparagusus and oyster dressing for dinner.


Vegan coffee cake for breakfast.


Sandwiches with baked chips for lunch and apple crisp with frozen yogurt for dessert (the only recipe that actually came from the Teens Cook, book).



All of it was delicious. They did a great job.

Sky and I started chapter 4 of Braving the Wilderness. It started a conversation that lasted days.

We also watched a YouTube video from National Geographic titled, What Makes Us Happy.

Other videos we watched on Youtube this week,

6 videos about cats from SciShow,

Peripole Inc: How to play the cowbell,

Bill Bailey-Cowbells

Socratica US Geography: California



For a science project, I decided to finally make slime with the girls.


I can see why it is so addictive. I love it! We made blood plasma slime, which fit in perfectly as a lab project for Microbiology.


We used clear glue, Borax, red food coloring, white foam balls for the white blood cells, red foam balls for the red blood cells, and mini erasers for the platelets (probably could have used purple foam balls).


Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Peace for the journey.

Happy 17th Birthday, Sky

October 15, 2017

After seeing the movie Blade Runner 2049, Sky asked me not to call her my angel anymore. (If you’ve seen the movie, you will understand.)


(She happens to be a Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds to Mars fan, but don’t tell her I told you. 😉 )

I had so much to learn about parenthood when you came into the world. Honestly, I still do. To say that I was prepared for the journey ahead is an overstatement. Even with all the bumps in the road, I could not be more proud of the young lady you’ve become. Worrying is something that tends to come along with becoming a parent. I do know one thing for sure, there will be one a hell of a fight.


A Week in the Life ( Loneliness)

October 13, 2017

Happy Friday the 13th!

This is my last post categorized under 16 (at least until Little Sis turns 16 anyway). Sky turns 17 this weekend. I am still in disbelief about her being 16. What a journey it has been. I have learned so much from her. Not only as a parent, but about myself as well.

What a bittersweet experience it has been to read Braving the Wilderness together just as she is beginning her journey from childhood into adulthood. I think between the two of us, we highlighted all of chapter 3.

I thought this week we could take a peek into what I keep in my Mom-schooling basket. We live in a small house. When I say small, I mean less than 1000 square feet. I keep my basket under the end table on my side of the couch in our front room. This is the spot where the majority of my thinking takes place.


(Minus the laptop and gel pens.)

I’ve mentioned previously how journaling helps to clear my thoughts. I think the most important item that I keep in my basket is a spiral notebook and pen along with my Dollar General planner. Anytime I get an idea about something that might be of interest or I discover a television show coming on that we might want to watch, I know exactly where to find my stuff. I need to write everything down or I will forget. Then while planning out our next week, I look to see if I wrote down anything that might be of use to our learning journey.


The next most important item in my basket is my Kindle Fire. I mentioned our small house, yes, our space is extremely limited and my book collection would take up a whole room in itself. (and this does not even include our music collection.) Don’t get me wrong, I love the feel of a book in my hand. The smell and sound it makes when turning a page are amazing. However, for the sake of maintaining peace with my husband, I purchased my Kindle Fire. Now, I use it for everything.

Books I am currently reading are Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King, which I am now over halfway through, and Braving the Wilderness By Brene Brown.

Other items include my adult coloring book, my Mom School journals,


(Mom-school journal, Braving the Wilderness notes.)


our resources we will be using during the week,

(I started reading aloud to the girls in the morning while they journal. We are reading The Haunted Looking Glass: Ghost Stories Chosen By Edward Gorey right now. They will be using this book as part of their copywork, spelling, and vocabulary words in their fun-schooling core journals. All these stories can be found in the public domain for free, minus Gorey’s amazing artwork, but I have been trying to not rely upon the internet as much for our lessons. Did I mention that it includes Edward Gorey’s artwork? 🙂 )


(Our Language Arts and Mathematics resources.)

and a few of my other favorite resources.



Sky’s basket (I keep the girls’ baskets in the kitchen by our table where they do the majority of their work.).


(Not pictured is her Monstress graphic novel that she is reading independently.)

Little Sis’s basket.


They each have their own Kindle too. We get the majority of our library books through Overdrive (no late fees).

(Not pictured is her Seventeen Magazine subscription that she reads independently.)

Lessons this week,


we learned about Miguel De Cervantes. Sky and I watched Thug Notes’ version of Don Quixote on YouTube. She added this to the film and tutorials page in her Portfolio journal.

We watched Tango videos on YouTube and learned about Eva Peron.



Little Sis had spelling words beginning with the letter B this week from her spelling journal. So, we watched a video about Black Bears from All Things Animal on YouTube together.

We listened to banjo and bluegrass music while journaling and learned about Belgium from Geography Now.


PBS Nature this week was all about Foxes. Sky’s second most favorite animal after the wolf. We were lucky enough to observe one while at Wolf Park this summer. So when I saw PBS was airing a documentary about them, I added the date to my planner so I would not forget.


I read about Foxes from the Handbook of Nature Study and we watched What the Fox Says from Scishow on YouTube. We looked at images of their prints observing their difference from dogs, and the girls added notes to their core journals.

We drew a fox from Draw So Cute on YouTube.


Little Sis learned about Liz Claiborne.


Then there was Yoga,


and Sky finally was able to see IT at the Drive-In. She loved it. They had a clown going around to the cars scaring everyone with red balloons. We had a lot of fun. She is looking forward to seeing Blade Runner this weekend. I am just trying to absorb as much of it while I still can.

Peace for the journey.


Week in the Life (Athenticity)

October 7, 2017

So, after a week of trying to make my own journal pages and making sure that I had everything printed and ready for the week, I decided to go ahead and purchase the fun-schooling journals. I just have too much on my plate as it is right now.

Honestly, one of the biggest needs that I had this year was an open and go curricula. Something that would help to keep me on track. I couldn’t believe my luck of discovering The Thinking Tree and their journals. They have the structure I need but allow for the freedom to still do things our way.

I purchased (Yes purchased, not received. I did win the Mom School journal from Free Homeschooling 101. The rest of the journals I purchased myself because I truly love them.  ) the 12 Subject Portfolio for Sky as her core journal. She has always been the child that wanted to do things her own way in her own time. If you couldn’t already tell that from her artwork. She would despise the structure of the other library based journals.

Some great advice that I learned from Homeschooling 101 is “We rule the curriculum, the curriculum does not rule us”. The journals work for us, not the other way around. That is exactly why I like the 12 Subject Portfolio for Sky.



(Sky’s Fun-schooling journals)

Little Sis, on the other hand, needs structure. She needs to open her journal and know exactly what to do. That is why I purchased the Autumn Homeschooling and the Spelling Time: Animals and Instruments level C journals.


(Little Sis’s Fun-schooling journals)

Okay, what I liked about the Autumn journal for Little is that there was no circle the date pages. This way we can use the pages however we want to. Not necessarily in any specific order. I still print out calendar pages for them to take their own attendance.


After we finish our travel study of Spain, I plan on using the Fashion Journal for learning about American History. So, Science through art (two for one) and History through fashion (Yep, you guessed it. Two for one.).

Then there is the spelling journal that brings in geography and music.


(The spelling journal is on the right. The 12 Subject Portfolio is on the left.)

Some of Little Sis’s spelling words this week were Argentina and accordion. So while working in our journals (mine too) we listened to accordion music on YouTube.


We listened to The Beer Barrel Polka and Roll out the Barrel. We also listened to traditional French accordion music so that the girls could hear how one instrument can be used to produce different styles of music.

We watched Geography Now on YouTube to learn about Argentina.

Speaking of journals, besides the Mom School one that I won, I purchased the Homeschooling Handbook for Moms journal so that I can also work right along with the girls.


I love the discussions ( not to mention just being able to get away from the internet for awhile)  that journaling has allowed time for.

Unfortunately, this week we had a lot to discuss.  What a year the United States has had.  😦

Sky and I read and discussed chapter 2 of Braving the Wilderness.


She is journaling about this book in her portfolio under Social Studies, or what we are calling Social Science. Sky and I watched episode 2 of Crash Course Sociology.

As part of Sky’s film study this week, we learned about Evanghelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, or Vangelis, and listened to the Blade Runner soundtrack.

We watched another Rick Steves episode about Spain


and the girls added Christopher Columbus notes to their history timeline binder.




We also watched the Origin of Everything episode about Columbus and cannibals.


We learned about the Dada, Surrealism movement and Salvador Dali.

We watched: Why Melted Clocks from Artrageous with Nate.


Little Sis and I watched How Jeans were Invented from Ted-ED on YouTube and she learned about Calvin Klein.


She also made butter, glitter, and peach slime.

Sky started Monstress volume 2: Blood, as her independent read.


Language Arts







The first attempt at solo drawing.

Peace, love, and healing.