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only more colorful

Archive for September, 2009

Two Weeks Down an Adventure to Go

We just finished up our second week of homeschooling yesterday.  Before I started I told myself I would give myself six months to adjust because I was a little worried that it would be a hard and difficult transition.  In other words, mentally I prepared for the worst: stressed out mom, miserable kids, and a dad who wanted his family out of the house.  I had told myself if this was the case I needed to give us a full 6 months to adjust before we made the decision to go back to school.  I’m thrilled to say that these last two weeks have been wonderful.  Much more wonderful than I ever imagined.  I feel peace and purpose like I’ve never experienced as a mom.  The boys are continuing to have fun and are enjoying each other unlike when they would come home from school tired and cranky.  Brent said, “It feels natural.  Like this is how our family is supposed to be.”  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that this hasn’t been the transition I had expected and that Brent is right it does feel natural.

Two weeks ago we went on a homeschooling camping trip and one of the wise moms there who had been doing it for a while gave me this advice: “Start slowly and add subjects in as you go.”  I had been planning to start with a full day’s worth of work because I wanted to dive right in but after some thought and consideration I decided to take her advice. Brent starts the day by doing devotions with the boys.  He has mentioned to me many times how much he is enjoying this part of his day.  As far as formal subjects, I decided that I would start with the toughest and sometimes most tedious subjects (for older brother) first which are math and grammar (phonics for little brother).  I figured if we could get through those we could get through anything.  So far so good.  Nathanael doesn’t really like math.  I’m trying to make it as pleasant as possible but I also feel like there is a certain amount of “it’s just something we got to do” and “not everything is fun”.  That said, he has shown great improvement the past two weeks in his work and in his attitude.  Noah’s math is going great.  I think he has complained once but so far first grade math is pretty simple.  While Nathanael finishes up his math Noah and I snuggle on the couch and do phonics and reading.  Then Noah takes a break whilel Nathanael and I do grammar.  After that we all cozy up together on the couch for history/literature.  Both boys LOVE this and so do I.  Next week we are adding in more literature, spelling, handwriting, and science.  After much debate and many hours of research, we are really excited about our new science book Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Astronomy by Jeannie Fullbright.  It’s a beautiful easy to understand book celebrating the glory of God in the natural world with lots experiments.  I think we will have a lot of fun with it.   I emailed her from her website and she took the time to answer my questions which I appreciated.

The best part so far is that the stress level in our house has gone way down.  Waaaay down.  I knew running back and forth from school and fullfilling all those responsibilites that come with school (buying supplies, signing up as parent helper, ect) was wearing us down but I didn’t realize just how much until Nathanael and I were sitting in the living room one morning.  We were the only ones up chatting in the living room when he noticed kids walking by on their way to school.  With a big smile he said, “Look they are on their way to school.  I’m not.”  I asked what time it was and he went to the kitchen to look.  It was 7:45, ten minutes before we would have had to leave.  I thought back to last year.  Brent packing the lunches.  Nathanael yelling how he hates peanut butter and jelly.  Noah reminding us that he is not allowed to bring peanut butter and jelly to his class because of other children’s allergies. Nathanael complaining that everyone else gets chips and junk food why can’t he.  Packing the backpack and finding a crumpled permission slip that I was supposed to have signed two days ago along with an request to bring in “googly eyes” for a class project.  Ahhh…I’ll have to run to Michael’s this afternoon.  Then piling into the car when little brother suddenly remembers it’s “Share Day” and he has to rush in to the house to find “that one” Lego guy.

Instead this is how our days have been going.  I get up between 5 and 6: 30 to do devotions and write.  Brent gets up around 7:30 to make breakfast and do devotions with the boys.  Around 9 I take over and we start math.  Then onto grammar and phonics.  This week handwriting and spelling will be added to our morning routine.  Then we have our snacks and dive into history, literature, and this week science.  Lunch follows and then in the afternoon we either run errands, visit with our elderly friends, have a play date, go to the library, do a craft, practice taekwondo, or just play.  We’ve done all of those things these the last two weeks.  Three or four days a week we have taekwondo in the late afternoon.  In two weeks, choir will be starting on Mondays at 12:30.  It sounds like a lot but the nice thing about it is our schedule is for the most part totally flexible so it’s not stressful.

On Thursday we had a particularly good grammar lesson.  Our grammar book, Building with Diligence, had sandwiched this profound little lesson between lessons on finding the simple subjects and predicates.  It was about how good writers learn to use their ears and eyes more than their mouths.  It started with this little poem:

A wise old owl
Lived in an oak
The more he saw,
The less he spoke;
The less he spoke,
The more he heard.
Why can’t we all
Be like that bird?

We talked about how we have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth and how we should see and hear twice as much as we say.  This lesson sparked wonderful conversation between Nathanael and I.   He is interested in learning to write after reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini, a homeschooled boy who wrote the book at 15.  We talked about how observing/listening is where you find the ideas or inspiration to write.   The point of the lesson was a good writer must a good observer and listener.  The conversation also led to how good it feels to be listened to and we should try to listen to people to show respect and love.  Not always easy to do but important nonetheless.  These sort of conversations are the real reasons we’ve chosen to homeschool.  Knowing how to find a simple predicate is great but doesn’t compare to learning how to silence oneself to listen and learn from the world around them.  Not only do I love teaching my kids this sort of stuff but I need the reminder myself.

The boys also started sparring in taekwondo.  Just as I expected Noah loves it and Nathanael doesn’t.  Just like Nathanael enjoys learning the forms (a series of choreographed kicks, blocks, and punches) and Noah doesn’t.  They look really cute in their sparring gear.  I had to get them protective cups to wear and Noah exclaimed that wearing the cup is “Horror!  Pure Horror!”  He likes sparring so much though that he said he’s put up with the horror of the cup.  Brent and I will start sparring next week.

Here are some pictures from these last two weeks.

Reading about the early nomad's transition to farming.  Nathanael thinks shadufs are cool!

Reading about the early nomad's transition to farming. Nathanael thinks shadufs are cool!



Making "cave" paintings.

Making "cave" paintings.


At the nursing home with Lucille.

At the nursing home with our friend, Lucille.

Good friends.

Good friends.

Saturday morning breakfast after a late night sleepover!

Saturday morning breakfast after a late night sleepover!

Hanging out on the deck with nasty little Nico.

Hanging out on the deck with nasty little Nico.



  • Filed under: homeschooling
  • Fun at the Fair


    Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so cheap concerned with being a good steward of our money.  Like when we were waiting to get into the fair 5 minutes before the dollar day price ended.

    All the people trying to get into by 3:00 at 2:58.

    All the people trying to get into by 3:00 at 2:58.

    We dropped my parents off near the fair then Brent and I had gone to find free parking.  The closest spot we could find was about a mile and a half away.  By the time we reached the gates it was 2:50 and the dollar admission ended at 3 pm which would be fine if half of Ventura county wasn’t trying to get in for a buck.  Brent who is normally content to be somewhat passive managed to push us through to the ticket booth in the nick of time.  2:58.  Yay Brent.

    I love the fair.  I love the smells.  Yes, I like the smell of farm animals.  I love watching the people the fair brings out of the cracks.  (Certainly not the Trader Joe’s crowd.)  I love that they have booths devoted soley to serious animal shirts.  I love watching my kids on the rides even though I’m praying that the ride holds itself together.  I love listening to carnies try to sell their games.  But most of all I love the goats.  Even though they chew my dress and eat my hat.


    Every time I go I talk to breeders and get emails and numbers hoping one day I will actually find myself the owner of the world’s greatest pet.  (There is a lady in Camarillo who is selling brother and sister Pygmies and a young blue-eyed Nigerian Dwarf doe.  I will happily accept late birthday presents.)

    They look like hamsters!

    They remind me of a mound of hamsters!

    This year Older Brother  and Younger Brother were getting along particularly well.  It’s interesting to note that since they quit going to school we’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in their behavior.  We are spending more time actually watching/listening to them play instead of being referees.  Hallelujah.  At the fair, Older Brother, wanted to make sure Younger Brother didn’t get lost so he held his hand most of the day.  These are my favorite pictures of the bunch.   (You may have already seen them on Flickr)


    Big Brother hates, yes HATES, rides that spin, flip, jerk, or go faster than .5 miles per hour.  I thought I was going to lose my life after I convinced him to ride this.  It goes up and around fast…sort of. On a lighter note, if you’re looking for family-friendly activities, consider exploring commercial soft play equipment uk. These entertaining and safe play structures can offer a thrilling yet secure experience for kids, ensuring a fun-filled time for the whole family.


    Younger Brother, however, believes the faster the higher to better.  I can just see the future.  Can someone get me a Xanax please?


    Here are a few more pictures because…well….fairs are fun.


    Watch out Evil Knievel.

    Watch out Evil Knievel.

    Llama love.

    Llama love.

    We had our first official day homeschooling yesterday.  It was great!   I would have blogged about that but this post has been sitting in my drafts for well over two weeks.


  • Filed under: adventure