Archive for the ‘13 year old’ Category

Year In The Life 2014 (It Started With A Big Bang)

January 10, 2015

Thank You Cosmos! What could I possibly add that has not already been said about this show?

This was our year for science, for sure. After we finished the television series I decided to start our lessons from the beginning bringing science and history together the way it should be.


I couldn’t believe how lucky I got that The Big History Project thought to do the same. So many wonderful discussions emerged from this year. All I know to do really is jump right in and get started.

We touched on so many topics this year that I’ve tried to organize them the best way I could.

Earth Science:

We learned about the big bang and formation of the Earth by watching Discovery’s How the Universe Works and BBC’s Earth, The Biography. We also watched Stephen Hawking’s Did God Create the Universe and let’s not forget those Green brothers and their Big History Crash Course videos.

We talked about Earth’s gravity and rotation, structure of layers, and magnetic field. Thanks to Magic Tree House’s Tsunamis Research Guide we discussed Pangaea, plate tectonics, volcanoes, hot spots,  the ring of fire, and earthquakes. We also watched NOVA’s Killer Typhoon episode. This led to discussions on the formation of mountains, Earth’s crust, the rock cycle, and we did a little cave exploring.


Which led us to discussions on weathering and erosion,


ice and glaciers. We did a jellybean erosion experiment


where the girls discovered 7 up eroded the jellybean fastest.

We had discussions on fossils, fossil fuels, coal and oil, the geological column, and read the Magic Tree House Research Guide about Dinosaurs.

Thanks to our garden we learned about soil, tested our soil’s acidity,


and did an experiment to see if our soil had more sand, clay or silt.


We also watched Dirt, The Movie. We learned about the water cycle (the Ziplock bag representing Earth),


measured how fast 4 cups of water poured on the driveway would evaporate,


and traced the water flow and evaporation from our peonies.


Speaking of evaporation, we discovered we could use it to separate solutions too.






We also learned about filtration.


Before I move too far away from Earth science and our garden we made a bug hotel


and identified many insects like the praying mantis, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and stink bugs. We discussed the lifecycle of ladybugs, and aphids.

We watched PBS Nature episodes about the Private Life of Deer, Ireland’s Wild River, and the Coywolf. We also watched Pure Nature Special, Camel’s Empire, Animal Atlas, Zoo Clue ,and visited our local zoo.


We also watched NOVA’s The Last Great Ape and discussed evolution. Which brought us to the Ice Age and reading The Magic Tree House Research Guide.

We touched briefly on space with Cosmos , NOVA’s Detecting Life On Other Planets episode, spotting Jupiter and 2014’s Friday the 13th honey moon.

Other shows that played a part in our homeschool were Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes and watching him and Ken Ham debate. We also watched the movie Life of Pi again from a science vs. religion point of view and caught a few spectrum of light shows.


Chemistry, Matter and Reactions:

We discussed the states of matter,


atoms, molecules, mixtures and solutions,


solids, liquids or both.



We made a chemical indicator using purple cabbage,


created carbon dioxide by making a CO2 sandwich in a bag, a volcano,


and chocolate cake.



Last but not least we mummified an apple.


Books (not already mentioned):

The Dorling Kindersley Science Encyclopedia, this was one of the best book investments and Goodwill finds ever! I also love our painless learning placemats. There is one for almost everything. We live in a small house (under 1000 square feet) so I am very cautious of what we bring in. These fit perfect in the little corner nook of our kitchen table making them easily assessable at all times and are laminated.

Science for Fun experiments and the DK encyclopedia of Cat Breeds came in handy this year. Honestly though, Little Sis wanted the  painless placemat of popular cats anyway which gets pulled out way more than the book and I’m pretty sure most all these experiments can be found by doing a search on-line.

Alright, 2014 you were a great year but I am ready to see what awaits us in 2015.









Year In The Life 2014 (Nourishment For The Soul)

January 9, 2015

When we first began our homeschooling journey, I had all these great plans of craft projects lined up and ready to go. While studying pioneers, when Miss Sky was 8, we made covered wagons out of Go-Gurt boxes. While learning about the ocean we turned our then classroom into an underwater haven right down to paper bag whales hanging from the ceiling. Actually, it was a pretty fun and successful year, for me.

Don’t get me wrong, we did have a lot of fun that year. It was back before I started listening to other people’s opinions on how to homeschool my children. 🙂

I have since learned that what I think might be considered fun may not be that much fun for someone else. I like to call this my experimental time period. So, we backed off the crafts, we backed off a lot of things. I had fun getting to know my children, what they enjoyed and what they didn’t. I discovered that though both girls are very creative, their artistic interests are much different.

Sky has never been one that enjoyed being told what to do. Following instructions has never been a strength of hers. She always has and still likes to do things her way. She is constantly questioning authority and the why behind everything. This characteristic comes through in everything she creates.

Little Sis is more of the quiet, doesn’t want to rock the boat type. Though she is quiet on the outside, I know that on the inside her mind is in constant motion.  She likes to do everything by the book. She likes to have everything in order. In fact, this is why she needed to have her own room. You can see this in her creations as well.

When it comes to the arts, I just go with the flow and follow wherever it takes us. I did set up a Pinterest Earth, Art, Eh board that contains paintings related to what we might be learning about. For instance, when we watched the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, I added and we discussed the painting The Last Supper. Other paintings we discussed this year was Mona Lisa, The Swing, Colossus of Rhodes, Samson and Delilah by both Rubens and Rembrandt, At the Moulin Rouge, Hushed, Found Drowned, and The Outcast.

I already mentioned the ballets we watched in my social studies post.

2014 was all about musicals as we watched quite a few, some I have already posted about. Andrew Lloyd Webber was pretty big this year thanks to The Phantom of the Opera (that we watched both the stage and movie version of) and I just mentioned Jesus Christ Superstar. We also watched Cats, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Everything we learn about has some sort of impact on the girls’ creations. After watching the PBS Nature episode, The Private Life of Deer, Sky decided to do her own study on the physical features of deer then practiced drawing them.


The Phantom was huge,


(Little Sis)

and My Little Pony.




(Miss Sky)


(Little Sis Minecraft )

Anime played big in our year, besides Miyazaki’s animation ( I have changed my favorite to Spirited Away and love his son’s From Up On Poppy Hill. So many great movies, so little time. I feel the same way about books), we watched Death Note, Yu-Gi-Oh, Attack on Titian, Elfen Lied, and Pokémon.



(Little Sis, and she loves her 3DS Pokémon Art Academy game.)

I mentioned how Don Bluth’s Anastasia and An American Tail influenced our studies, we also watched The Secret of NIHM and Small One. The Nostalgia Critic does some fun reviews of his not so big hits that we also watched.

I brought in Bjork’s Biophilia album to show how science can be artistic too (Everything connects, do I sound like a parrot yet?). The app for the album looks pretty amazing and we watched a few of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad movies learning about his “Dynamation” animation.

We made diyas,


and the girls painted Nutcrackers.


For Home Economics: The girls are creating their own cookbooks, kind of like Betty Crocker’s “red” cookbook.


This year their focus was on desserts, mostly cookies. Their first recipe of the year was flourless peanut butter cookies, a recipe we bake often.



We plan on moving into more solid dishes this year. Little Sis wants to learn how to make her favorite quiche recipe and she really likes the Cooking Mama video games (and Kitchen Princess manga).

The girls got in a little sewing.



(Sky loves working with felt. Everything she makes is her own creation and never from a pattern.)


(Little Sis)

This is something I am really wanting to try and work in more time for, this and we really need to work in a foreign language.

(Let’s Get) Physical Education and Health: Sky and I started an exercise routine this year. It was something she wanted to do and I sure needed one. Eventually, Little Sis joined in. Sky is not that great in the coordination department and hates to dance (yes, hates). That is how I knew Walking Away the Pounds would be a great fit for her. She has always enjoyed our hikes and walks and this program is basically just walking indoors.

We started with the 1 mile and ended the year with the 3 miles. This year Sky will be adding 1 pound weights and I will conquer the 4 miles. Sky learned what aerobic and muscle toning means as well as recovery heart rate and finding her resting heart rate. She learned about calories and now understands what “burning calories” means. We also hit a bit on nutrition by watching the movie Fed Up.

I saved the best for last, Science.






Year In The Life 2014 (Every Problem Has A Solution)

January 8, 2015

One thing I learned this past year is learning mathematics during winter works best for us, the girls are less distracted. Then reviewing new concepts throughout the year. I also discovered science works best for us during the spring. Of course we are always using math, and science is all around us. It just works out better to tackle a new lesson during these times. Math alone for Sky can take hours let alone trying to add in several different subjects.

I feel sorry for school children (in more ways than one). Just when you start getting the hang of one subject the bell rings and it is time for another one. Time to pack up your work to try and remember for later when doing homework. I remember how frustrating it was myself.

I guess one thing children do have going for them now is the internet. So many awesome websites available today. I would know too because we use a lot of them ourselves. 🙂

There really are not too many homeschoolers that do not know about Khan Academy. I know it has been a huge help to Sky this year. Little Sis on the other hand would rather do a worksheet. She isn’t that interested in understanding why you need to regroup, just when. Sky however wants to know the why to everything. She needs to see the big picture in order to understand, and in my own way so do I.

I am going to be completely honest, I hated mathematics in school. Partly because of bad teachers, yes there are some out there, partly because it felt so separated from real life. I always loved playing games, just like another child I know. I was playing rummy before I was even old enough to go to school (thanks grandma). It was through games that I learned to love mathematics as an adult. Numbers became a puzzle that I enjoy trying to solve, and I do love puzzles.

That is the mistake I made with Sky, I tried to teach her the same boring way that I had learned (you can read about our struggles and tears if you want). So we backed off for a while. Instead we began playing games and we focused on baking together. I started giving her an allowance and she started saving her money for things she wanted. Before she knew it I explained how she was learning mathematics. This is how Little Sis learned, she doesn’t have the dislike of mathematics like Sky does.

So, yes Sky is not at grade level mathematics like she should be but she does have an understanding of the basics and I can honestly say there are “no more tears”.

We are slowly catching back up and this year she learned triple digit multiplication, reading ordered pairs, graphing, decimals, turning decimals into fractions, equivalent fractions, reducing fractions, adding and subtracting same denominators, adding mixed fractions, prime numbers, and prime factorization. She also learned to count change back without a calculator, long division, mean, median, mode, averaging, probability, ratios, greatest common factor, and less common multiple.

Little Sis began learning her multiplication and division tables, 3 digit subtraction regrouping with zeros, measurement of time working whole to parts starting with the 4 seasons working all the way down to seconds, measurement of money, greater and less than. I mentioned how she rather use worksheets, she really likes the ones from coloring squared.

We enjoy playing lots of games, these were in addition to our usual favorites.

The girls love Roblox and Minecraft. They played the money master


and make change game from math is, and LCR with quarters.


They played the grocery store game,


and picked out a complete meal from a circular on a budget.


The girls graphed a bag of jellybeans and found the bag had more purple


then found the mean, medium, mode.

They worked puzzles,


played Nintendogs plus cats on the 3DS, Blink, Multiplication War, Pass the Pigs, and the Table Tree game.


How about some electives next.

Year In The Life 2014 (Talk Language Arts To Me)

January 7, 2015

Something I have learned along the way on this homeschooling journey of mine is that you can’t force language arts. Well, you can’t force learning period. Unless the person on the receiving end is truly interested in the topic at hand, learning goes in one ear and out the other. Okay, yay you passed the test but did you retain anything?  Why I know my children are learning without the need of being tested. When a conversation lasts for hours, and I mean hours I know they understand. I know we are able to move on.

I have written posts before of my journey to letting go of what I considered “appropriate” reading material. It has also been no secret of Sky’s and my troubles in this department. It wasn’t until she discovered her own interests that our journey of learning truly began. It wasn’t until I opened my mind and journeyed into her world that I could understand where she was coming from. As I said before I had a lot to learn.

It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy reading, she just didn’t enjoy what I thought was good reading. Once my mind opened I could never view reading the same again. She still doesn’t completely enjoy everything we read but she has learned to find something to make it worth while. So when we do come across a story that obtains her curiosity it is all the more sweeter, and we actually came across a few this year.

Reading: While looking back over my posts for the year I noticed January began with us listening to the dramatic reading of the Phantom of the Opera, I also noticed winter and summer seems to be the best time for us to curl up into a story.

It was actually Little Sis’s interest in the Phantom musical that had us listening to the story to begin with. Both girls loved it and have actually requested it again. The same can be said for the Ramona series. We have already read them more than once and I see them again in our near future, Coraline too. Coraline is actually Sky’s most favorite story.

So these are the best read alouds of 2014 in the girls’ opinion. Other stories I read out loud are Socks, Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, Peter Cottontail, The Pippi Longstocking series (another favorite of Little Sis), and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Read alouds from LibriVox  and Storynory: Mrs. Peter Rabbit (The Old Mother West Wind series is another family favorite and this is Little Sis’s favorite. Miss Sky loves Reddy Fox.), The Snow Queen, The Arabian Nights, Gilgamesh (YouTube), The Courtship of Miles Standish, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, Old Testament Stories, A Christmas Carol, and A Christmas Nutcracker.

Sky’s read alouds: The Junie B. Jones series, American Girl Rebecca Series, and the Jessie Tree.

Little Sis’s read alouds: The Violet Mackerel books 1-4 (another family favorite), Jenny the Cat series (yep, you guessed it), the Jewel Kingdom books 1-4, Owl At Home, Grasshopper on the Road, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, and Magic Tree House books 1, 3, 7, 27, 28, 34, and 44.

Writing: For handwriting, as well as bringing poetry into our homeschool, I write a poem on the chalkboard that the girls copy in cursive.





The New Colossus

Both girls keep a journal


and love writing stories.


Little Sis


Miss Sky, Sky actually translated many of her stories into Latin.


In fact, both girls wrote several stories while on break.

Spelling, Vocabulary, and Grammar: This year since many of the stories they write are private I started story starters or writing prompts to see where they are with their spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Their spelling is good but I do notice they need to work on their grammar. So, this year I do plan on working with them more in that area. They also did word searches.

Little Sis invented a descriptive word game, I plan to use it more when studying the parts of speech. She also had a word of the week,


and she learned about antonyms and synonyms. She likes her Highlights magazine subscription.

Sky learned about prefixes, suffixes, and started a root word notebook. She also had a word of the week, learned about analogies, idioms, onomatopoeic words, newspaper jargon, oxymoron, coined words, clipped words, and she enjoys OtakuUSA magazine.

Though I was saving Nostalgia Critic for The Arts post, I can not tell you how much we have learned about writing from his show. Thanks to him Sky understands exposition and many other elements in script writing. She understands the 3 Acts layout, fourth wall jokes and is able to point them out during a movie. We absolutely love him around these parts but I must warn you, if profanity is not your thing I’d give him a pass.

Tomorrow, mathematics.






Year In The Life ( Social Responsibility )

January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

Well, it is time for me to put another year to bed. I started these year in the life posts as guidelines (as well as reassurance) to prove to myself that we are indeed homeschooling. I wanted to “see” everything we did.

Sometimes I will find myself in a rut and it feels like we are running around in circles not accomplishing anything. By looking back I always amaze myself at how much we actually do.

Now, I not only enjoy looking back on our year, these posts help me spot our weaknesses as well as strengths and this helps me plan out the next upcoming year.  This year I give the girls all the credit, I am really proud of them.  They worked really hard and boy does it show.

There is only one thing I want to mention before I start. We didn’t just arrive where we are in our homeschooling journey. It has taken lots of stops and restarts on my part. I, me, myself had *a lot* to learn. I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated if you are not where we are. Instead I want these posts to inspire that yes, you too can do it. It can be done. If we can do it, if we can get here, so can you.

Also, though I have separated our lessons into “subjects” to make it easier for me to sort out, our day isn’t divided up that way. I don’t say “time for social studies” or “let’s do some science”. It is more like “Mom, I would like to get the movie Anastasia.” or me discovering my favorite astrophysicist is updating the television show Cosmos and following all the many trails. Everything connects.

So, with that being said I am starting 2014’s year in review with social studies. We had two really huge studies thanks to Sky’s interest in Don Bluth’s animation with the movies Anastasia and An American Tail.

World History: The movie Anastasia took us to Russia and introduced us to the Romanov’s. Watching the movie brought up Anna Anderson and her claims to being the long lost Anastasia. “What really happened to the Romanov family?” which led to us watching the movie Nicholas and Alexandra. However, I believe there is always more than one side to every story so I brought in one of my favorite musicals, Fiddler on the Roof to show another side of the Romanov family. This brought up emigration and led us to watching An American Tail which brought us to New York.

Before we left Russia though we watched a PBS documentary on Catherine the Great and Rudy Maxa’s travels to St. Petersburg. Which brings me to Pinterest and my What About Earth and Her(story) boards. I use these boards to help connect the dots of what we are learning about by pinning pictures or maps related to these topics. The pictures of Russia and its culture helped bring it even more alive.

We touched briefly on World War 1 and watched the movie War Horse.

We brought in the arts by studying the Russian ballet and watching Coppélia, The Nutcracker, The Swan Princess, and Sleeping Beauty. We listened to Tchaikovsky and Peter and the Wolf. I brought in language arts with the Russian fairy tales The Mitten and The Littlest Matryoshka and we watched an animated version of Peter and the Wolf that originally aired on PBS.

We even touched a little on current events with what was, is happening in Russia, Crimea, and the US.

Fiddler on the Roof led us into Passover and Jewish culture by watching the 10 Commandments and Prince of Egypt.


Which led us to watching Globe Trekker Egypt, which led us to Ancient Egypt


and Ancient Civilizations. We learned about the agricultural revolution, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria, Sumer, and the Indus Valley civilizations.

This took us into the Middle East


and watching Globe Trekker about the Arab Gulf States, Israel, Sinai, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordon. We left our studies of ancient civilizations with Ancient Persia and Bible stories with watching the History Channel’s Bible miniseries episodes 1-5 and DreamWorks Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors.

This led us into Christmas School and watching the movie The Nativity and listening to the history of King Herod at Storynory. Which led us to Victorian London where we currently are now.

Little Sis’s interest in the Jenny the Cat series led us to reading Jenny Goes To Sea and learning about South Africa, Zanzibar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Panama Canal (thanks to my What About Earth Board).


We also learned about India’s celebration of Diwali.

Favorite resources: I can’t say enough about the Green brothers and their Crash YouTube video series. They are the base of our studies. I also really like The Magic Tree House Research and Fact Tracker guides.

Television shows and movies (other than the ones already mentioned): Downton Abbey season 4, On the Spot, Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego, PBS Hawking, BBC Creation, Persepolis, and the original Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.

American History: Continuing the Russian trail with An American Tail movie and immigration led us to New York, the American Girl, Rebecca series, and the year 1914. It was 2 years after the sinking of the Titanic and 4 years after my great-grandparents immigrated to the United States.

This led us to learning about Ellis Island, Coney Island, and Silent movies. We listened to the songs Animal Fair, Take Me Out To the Ball Game, and The Grand Old Flag. Papa and I are already huge Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy fans so silent movies aren’t anything new to the girls. However, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, and Pearl White are. We enjoyed watching The Perils of Pauline serial, Arbuckle and Keaton shorts, and Mary Pickford’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This led us to watching the original and new versions of King Kong, the musicals Annie, Newsies, and West Side Story.

It wasn’t all fun though as we learned about the importance of unions, striking, and women’s rights. We watched a PBS documentary about the Triangle Fire and learned about Clara Lemlich. We watched the Dear America episodes of Dreams in the Golden Country and A Journey to A New World which brings us into the holidays, Thanksgiving and Pilgrims, where we left off in American History.

We watched documentaries on the Founding of Jamestown, Roanoke Island, and Episode 1 of the We Shall Remain Series, After the Mayflower.

Civics, economics, what’s left of geography, and history related field trips:


Monopoly isn’t just for math but great for helping explain capitalism, with the exception that not everyone starts life out with the same amount of money.

Sky requested the movie What Would Jesus Buy, we watched the series That 70s Show as a family, and while learning about Tsunamis studied the state of Hawaii with an episode of Discovery Atlas.

We also watched the Presidential State of the Union Address and had midterm elections.

We visited our local living history museum during Civil War days




and the annual Maple Syrup Festival.


Whew, now that I have put last year’s social studies to bed I can start focusing on 2015, but first I think I will make my next post about Language Arts. Our stories played a huge part of our year too.


Week In The Life (Please Be Civil)

October 10, 2014

The thought has occurred to me that this will be my last post categorized under 13 for a certain child. Have you tired of my “where has the time gone” yet? Not only is one child about to become 14, another will soon be 9. It seems like yesterday she had just learned to read. Not only will she be 1 year away from double digits, only one more year for me to have a child in single digits, but what a major growth spurt she’s had. She has gone from size 7-8 to 10-12 in a matter of a few months. She has outgrown all of her clothes and with Autumn’s chill quickly approaching I am very aware of her need for some new pants. Thank goodness she has managed to find a few items of her big sister’s that will do for now.

New pants are not the only preparation for the upcoming cooler temps. Papa cleaned out our stovepipe and added the compost to our garden preparing our soil for planting next Spring’s crop of garlic. This year was our best compost ever, wonderful color, texture, and smell. I still get amazed at the process of composting. Earth’s own recycling system. All that is left in the garden to do is adding a cover of leaves when the time comes.

I am still leaving the sweet potatoes to pull last minute and we did manage a small harvest of radishes. Just like tomatoes, now that I’ve tasted a fresh radish store bought will never be the same. So yes, more radishes along with potatoes have been added to the list of what to plant next year.

This week I took advantage of the only sunny day to wash and hang all the sheets and blankets out for what looks to be the last time. I also made 3 (80 ounces) jars of sun tea. In the words of papa, “it’s going to be a long winter”. Time to bring our focus to some indoor projects and getting our home ready for winter’s hibernation (felt supply, check).

From the study: Lessons have been getting longer and I am reminding myself yet again (for future reference) just how perfect this rhythm has become for us.

Language Arts: I ended my post last week with Sky’s fan fiction inspiring her own stories. This week she has filled a whole notebook full of stories and poems.


She has even taken it upon herself to learn Latin, thanks to her interest in the anime Elfen Lied.

Miss Sky: “I keep hearing how Latin is a dead language yet so many of the words we use today originated from it.”

This week we added daily grammar lessons to our days starting with verbs.

First, the girls copied verb from the parts of speech poem in cursive then we watched the Schoolhouse Rock video before learning about action and state of being verbs.

Agriculture was their word of the week and their journal topic described in detail what you like most about the anime Yu-Gi-Oh.

Science: We watched and discussed Zoo Clue episodes Babies and Everyday Occurrences as well as Crash Course episodes Sun and Earth and Origin of Life.

Social Studies: World History, Moving on from the Ice Age we watched and discussed Crash Course videos The Agricultural Revolution, The Indus Valley Civilization, and Mesopotamia. We also discussed B.C.E and C.E and the girls added their notes to their timeline.


(Little Sis)


(Miss Sky)

We watched a documentary about Mesopotamia

and listened to the epic story of Gilgamesh.

We also enjoyed David Christian’s TED talk about the history of our world.

Mathematics: Little Sis continued the Table Tree Game working on the 9s and 4 tables. Miss Sky worked on prime factorization first by watching Kahn’s videos on prime numbers and prime factorization then reading chapter 1 from the book Math Doesn’t Suck.

The girls made chocolate chip cookies and due to the rain, Walked Away the Pounds for P.E. indoors.


Peace for the journey.


Week(s) In The Life (Quite Quaternary)

October 3, 2014

Last week was interrupted by routine doctor visits where I discovered I was obese. Overweight I knew but I have been working hard and actually went down a whole pants and shirt size since changing my diet. To hear that word kind of shocked me. I am one of the millions of people you hear about in the news, me.

So this past week I have really been paying attention to my portions. I have always been the kind of cook that doesn’t really measure anything, well no more. I especially paid attention to how much oil and salt we use. I measured how much peanut butter is a serving and yep that extra spoon adds up. I wanted to *see* where my calories were coming from. Was I surprised? Actually, I was, it is amazing how much I do without even thinking about it and I consider myself a very mindful person.

I have also bumped up my workouts daily. It is the time that I put myself first for a change. There was some good news, my blood pressure is 112/ 65. I can honestly say I have noticed a huge change in the way I feel since losing the weight I have. I have already kicked the sugar and caffeine habit and eat lots more fresh fruits and veggies than before so I know it’s just a matter of time. I just need to stay positive and focused. Papa has been such a big support. He himself has lost weight too. His of course much faster and effortless than mine.

So I am writing my goal to lose 50 pounds (yep 50 big ones) here with the hopes I will be more inclined to stick with it. That will put me in the healthy weight range for my height.

From the kitchen: I made apple cinnamon walnut pancakes with my favorite oat pancake recipe and they turned out great just like the zucchini ones. I added 1 chopped apple, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Delish I tell you. The girls made Muddy Buddies.

From the garden: Papa pulled our tomato plants getting the garden ready for planting our garlic.


Here is the last of our crop. I should be able to get a few more jars of sauce out of them once they turn red. Not a bad crop this year it just seemed so short. Everything did good but our bell peppers.

From the study: Science and History, I was super excited, like more excited than a person should when I discovered Crash Course (found on YouTube) was making new videos starting history from the beginning with the Big Bang because that is exactly what I was doing. They are part of The Big History Project.

So we watched the first 2 videos The Big Bang and Exploring our Universe reviewing everything we had learned up to this point. We will be following along with The Big History project as well.


The girls made covers for their timeline and finished their notes on the geological column.


Which brought us to the Ice Age. Little Sis read Sunset of the Sabertooth and I read the Magic Tree House Research Guide. We watched the Bill Nye episodes Caves and Archeology and the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams about the cave paintings from Chauvet Cave.

So many discussions from my art-loving children and their history-loving mama. How important music and art have been to humans.

The girls added their notes about the ice age to their timeline.


(Miss Sky)

Mathematics: Miss Sky continued review with Math is Fun worksheets and Little Sis continued multiplication practice with the Table Tree game.

Language Arts: The girls copied the Ghosts of Summer poem in cursive. Little Sis’s word of the week was frigid and Sky’s was radiation. I am starting journal topics this year and this week it was described in detail things about your mom you really like, which was really fun. 🙂

Both girls love writing stories and keep a journal but keep most of them private. This way I can see where they are spelling, punctuation, and grammar wise without violating their privacy. It also helps them get their thoughts about a certain topic down on paper that maybe they wouldn’t usually write about building those essay skills.

What I have learned on this homeschool journey of mine for children who don’t like to write, which was Miss Sky, is that they need time to discover for themselves something worth writing. In other words not forced into writing (same with reading).

It has been no secret I worried whether Sky would ever enjoy reading or writing anything on her own. Then she discovered manga, comic books, and fan fiction. Now I can’t get her head out from some sort of reading, including seeing her up in the middle of the night finishing a story. Her love of manga prompted her to create her own stories and illustrations. Her love of fan fiction inspired her to write her own stories and even character wiki pages. Now she enjoys writing and can come up with a journal topic in a matter of minutes.

The same for Little Sis. She has a journal she writes in daily. In fact, she is on her 5th one. With her, it was SO much easier because she was never forced to begin with. Now she too has no problems with writing.

I am going, to be honest I cringe when I hear a parent say “there will be no “twaddle” in our home” or ” I will never allow that junk in our house” because if it wasn’t for me opening *my* mind to my children’s choices we would not be where we are now.

Peace for the journey.

Week In The Life (Diggin’ Up Bones)

September 21, 2014

Well besides a few bumps, all on my part, our first week back was a productive one. We are slowly getting back into our routine.

Our garden is winding its way down. I am keeping my fingers crossed temperatures don’t hit below freezing before our sweet potatoes are ready to harvest. They are doing really good but are not yet ready. So next year plant all potatoes at the same time. Next weekend we plan to pull the rest of our tomatoes and get our soil ready for planting garlic.

Not a whole lot coming out of the kitchen this week. No tomatoes for sauce, however, walks in the park brought in another batch of apples and the first apple crisp of the season was made (thanks to cooler temps).

From the study: I am incorporating a few new ideas into our days focusing on note-taking techniques, starting with a timeline of Earth’s evolution.


(Little Sis)

I am hoping Sky will break off from here working more on essay writing.

Papa also added a dry erase board to our refrigerator where I am writing the girls assignments for each day encouraging more independent work.

Language Arts: Little Sis read Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before Dark and her word of the week was, soar. Sky worked on newspaper jargon.

Mathematics: Miss Sky reviewed long multiplication with worksheets from Math Is Fun. Little Sis reviewed her time’s tables playing the multiplication tree game online.

Science: Besides getting our timeline caught up with everything we learned about our universe while on break,


we also talked about the geological column working our way up to the Mesozoic Era. I read the Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Research Guide, we watched Bill Nye’s episodes on Dinosaurs and Fossils, had discussions about paleontologists, extinction, and the fossil fuels coal and crude oil.

We watched the BBC movie Creation about Charles Darwin as a family and watched the Crash Course videos on Natural Selection and Evolution. Being the girls were already familiar with these topics watching the movie first worked for us. The movie is more about Darwin’s life and his struggles with writing The Origin of Species. If your children don’t already understand evolution I would watch the Crash Course videos first then the movie.

Lots of discussion from this movie, especially how difficult it was to write about science during the Victorian Period.

We also watched the movie Jurassic Park as well as the Nostalgia Critic’s Jurassic Park movie reviews (warning he does use profanity and may not be suitable for all families).


P.E. Continuing our walks around the block.

Peace for the journey.



Week(s) In The Life (Look, A Cave Troll)

September 13, 2014

Falling behind again. It is however beginning to become clear to me that it must be a seasonal thing. The weather changes and I get busier. In this case Autumn is near with it’s cooler temps and outdoor walking becomes much more appealing. So instead of marching in place “Walking Away the Pounds” to a video, walks around the block and at the park have become a regular part of P.E.

From the garden: Our tomato crop started booming with the brief warm up we’ve had these past couple of weeks including more buds and growth. This week however cooler temperatures have slowed growth down and I don’t think we will get much more. I can’t complain though we yielded a pretty good crop this year even with all the pests.

Our radishes are about ready for harvest. We are planting more for sure next year as we enlarge our garden.

From the kitchen: Two more jars of tomato sauce. With the cooler temps and apples coming into season the oven is ready to be fired up for apple crisp. For now I have been enjoying snacking on sliced apples with peanut butter dip.

I mentioned previously how I have pretty much kicked the sugar habit. I still use real maple syrup and coconut sugar as my sweeteners and of course the sugar that’s naturally already in foods but cane sugars and corn syrup are a thing of my past. I can honestly say the less sweets I eat the less I crave sweetened goods like cookies. Then again I am eating lots more fresh fruits and vegetables than before. I don’t feel deprived at all and my palate has majorly changed since making the switch. I tried eating canned fruit and the texture was disgusting. I am really glad for all the berries I froze to get me through the winter.

From the study: Which brings me to the movie Fed Up.

We watched it as a family and had lots of discussion. Both girls mentioned how glad they were not having to eat school lunches. Little Sis can’t even eat store bought meat. I am thankful to live in a farming state with fresh foods readily available at our fingertips.

I do however feel I can’t move on before mentioning we *do not* shame the girls for foods they like to eat in any way. I do not stand over them policing or cringe if they want to eat a Twinkie. Both girls are allowed to add to the grocery cart whatever foods they want. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food and come to their own conclusions. And you know what? They do.

We also finished How the Universe Works with the episode Supernovas.

Papa replaced our wooden fence over the summer and after being inspired by our park walks decided to repurpose our old fencing into simple birdhouses that even the girls could build.


Let’s see, we had the usual games and read Pippi in the South Seas.


I am glad we read the Pippi series as I had never read it before. I can see why it is recommended on most “girl power” lists, especially for the time period it was written. I will even say Pippi’s personality does grow on you after awhile. The girls however thought it was just “okay”. I think maybe because they have been exposed to lots of “girl power” stories already. Besides it’s really hard to beat Ramona in Little Sis’s opinion. So far the Ramona series, Coraline, and the Phantom of the Opera remain the girls favorite read alouds this year.

Next week we start back to our more regular schedule. The break did us all good. After learning about how the universe works and our galaxy, the milky way, we will be moving on to how Earth itself is still a living evolving planet starting with a little geology. Perfect timing to do a little cave exploring with a road trip to Marengo Caves in Marengo Indiana. Being from Missouri I have been in several caves growing up but this was Papa and the girls first time.

The cave was discovered by a sister and brother exploring a small sink hole in 1883.


(The original cave entrance is right under the tree on the left.)

What they found inside brought many visitors just a week later. We learned about the caves sodastraw formations, helicites, and totem pole stalagmites.


We even caught a glimpse of life.


(A salamander)

The cave has a music hall where they held concerts and plays and even a pulpit rock where they held church.


The cave stays 52 degrees all year long making it perfect to visit anytime of year. I definitely see more cave exploring in our future.

Peace for the journey.

Week In The Life (Insectmania)

September 1, 2014

Welcome September! And Happy Labor Day.

I think I am beginning to except the reality that Autumn is near. So that means walks in the park and apple cider slushies’ .


2.7 mile walks to be exact. I love watching the leaves turn colors, not to mention all the wildlife we spot along the way.


In my opinion nothing welcomes fall better than having fresh apples just waiting to be devoured, and devoured they quickly become.

From the garden: I tried planting carrots in containers this year. This is what I got.


Not bad for my first try. Next year I plan to do things a bit differently when planting the seeds. We shall see.

I spotted the first praying mantis so far this year, finally.


Fingers crossed there are more hiding about. Our garden spider continues to do well,


(It is tucked nicely away in the little tunnel) and why not there are plenty of crickets to make a meal of. Oh and there is more (besides the stink bugs). While picking tomatoes I found what has been nibbling my Roma tomatoes, a huge grasshopper.


It has been relocated far away from our garden. Speaking of tomatoes,

From the kitchen: 3 more jars of tomato sauce and 8 jars of salsa.


(Another one of my favorite sounds is hearing the lid seal on a Ball Jar) The only veggie I needed to purchase was the bell peppers as our plants didn’t do that great this year (I think due to a rabbit family living nearby). Though now they are beginning to take off with the warm front we’ve had. Who knows maybe a late harvest.

From the study: Little Sis requested a trip to the library where she discovered a new series she loves. Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski. “It is like a girl version of Kingdom Hearts.” She is over halfway done.


Let’s see, Walk Away the Pounds, games, starting Pippi Goes On Board. Finishing the Back to the Future series, continuing Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Sky requesting What Would Jesus Buy.

 I always mention that this is the movie that changed my life. Both girls, while watching it themselves for the first time, seeing Reverend Billy take the screen both looked over at me and replied “Really mom?”. Yes, really. After finishing the movie Sky understood.

It was after viewing this movie that Papa and I cut up our credit cards and started our journey toward a more simple life. It was this movie that started us supporting local business and farmers. It was this movie that brought my focus back to traditions and making memories instead of constantly consuming. It was my “awaking”, when I began to finally think for myself. 

I have learned A LOT since then, that alone could be an entire post itself. 🙂 The short version, the girls have learned to be better consumers by Papa and my examples. I didn’t need to force or shame them for what they chose to spend *their* money on. They came to these conclusions themselves. 

Both girls have much more an understanding of how the world works than I did at their age. I truly do believe because they have not been separated from “the real world” to be trained on how to live in the real world. The longer I homeschool the more clear it becomes.

Peace for the journey.