Sunday, December 7, 2014

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Unit Study

Can you believe it is almost the end of the year! I cannot! I cannot believe we are well int our 2nd full year of homeschooling. As is typical in the homeschool world, I find myself changing things up a bit here or there. I have lost sight a little bit of what we are doing this for and school got to be a matter of checking off things of a list to say we are "done with school". So I decided I needed to get back to my unit studies based on literature! That's how we had fun and learned just last year, how did we get away from that?

So we wrapped up our study on Shiloh and we are spending December and January reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Here are some activities we will do during our unit study:

  •  We will ask our friends on Faceboook to choose their favorite types of candy and graph the answers.
  •  This is a great time of year to snag those boxes of chocolate candy. We will of course take this chance to grab some, then have a Chocolate/Candy Tasting Event and decide on our favorites!
  • I will print this great set of notebooking pages and activities from Chaos and Clutter
  • There are some really cute Willy Wonka party decorations over on Pinterest, so I'll do a few of those maybe for when we watch the movies. Of course we will watch the original with Gene Wilder first!

We are barreling through this book by listening to it on CD and they are enjoying it, and we haven't even gotten into the factory yet!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

TARDIS Little Free LIbrary

Please visit the Facebook Page and give us a like!


What is a TARDIS Little Free Library? In fact, what is a TARDIS?
So first off, thanks for asking! Second, we now hope you will go learn about what a TARDIS is and why you too should love it. In a nutshell, The TARDIS--Time and Relative Dimension in Space is a time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television program Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood and more. So in a nutshell, for those who are not familiar with Doctor Who, the TARDIS is a machine that can travel through time and space. Now, finish reading this, and then go watch Doctor Who!

What is a Little Free Library? Well, it's a super awesome concept that you can read more about here. This is a wonderful organization that I highly suggest you support and tell others about. We are proud to be a part of this group and so thankful they came up with this idea! Basically, the premise is someone in the community maintains a small library where children can take a book, leave a book. So it is based on the honor system. You can take a book and bring two in return, or bring one to leave when you come to borrow. Or simply take a book, return it, and grab another! The point is for easy access, fun books and getting children to read!

But what about the local library? Let's get one thing straight. We LOVE our local library system. The St. Tammany Parish Library system is AMAZING and we are absolutely blessed with an incredible Slidell branch. This project is not done in any way to imply the library is not sufficient. But every librarian will tell you, the more access children have to books, the better!! We chose this location because it was in a location children frequent (an ice cream shop) and is within walking distance of many homes, a school, and a park. We hope the libraries will work WITH us and spread the word!

Why make it a TARDIS? So, you probably ask this question because you are not a Doctor Who fan, for if you were, you would not ask that question. So let me explain it like this, first off, this is not our original idea. I first saw it online, probably on Pinterest, and there is a super cool guy who I want to meet one day, who made one in his front yard! You can find them here.  There may have been someone before him who made one, but his is the first I found. I then met the awesome Paul of the Krewe Du Who who did make a full size TARDIS you can actually step in, and I realized...this man can do this. He can make this dream happen! So, I stuck my neck out, and approached the  man in the long scarf and we got the ball rolling! But I digress. So why is it a TARDIS? Because they're awesome.

Where can I see it? Well,you can't see it---YET. We are just getting the ball rolling and will update as we go along, but we have secured the location and the builder, Paul, is ready to get going. We do, however, need funds for supplies and materials. We will be creating a GoFundMe account soon with specific details on what the money will be used for. Once the TARDIS is built, yearly upkeep will be minimal and will run on donations and community support as well. Once it is built however, it will be inside the gate in the yard of the Old Town Soda Shop in Slidell, La at 301 Cousin St, Slidell, La 70458. We are very grateful to both Frank and Morris who are supporting this adventure. Without their support, we would NOT be able to do this. Details on accessing the TARDIS will come as she is built. (Yes, it's a she.)

How can I help!? We LOVE you for asking that question! Right now, the best way you can help is to share our Facebook page, Once we get the GoFundMe account set up, we will alert you and we will start taking donations for the cost of supplies and materials, as well as stocking the library. In the meantime, if you have ANY books, we will take them! The focus will be books for children, non-fiction, and fiction but we will take any book that would be considered PG-13 and below. So chapter books, classics, picture books, banned books, we want them! So if you have any books you can donate please email Amy at If you are an author or publisher, we'd LOVE to talk to you and have your books in the TARDIS.

Who is doing this? I had wanted to build a Little Free Library for some time in our area. I am a former teacher, current homeschooling mom and I love to read! When I saw the TARDIS Library up north, I knew this would be an amazing thing to have down here, and would be perfect for Old Town Slidell. We have an amazing community here and we can make this an awesome project for all to enjoy! So thanks to the generosity of Frank and Morris at the Old Town Soda Shop and the awesomeness of Paul with the Krewe du Who, we will make this happen! So really, everyone who helps is doing this!!

**If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to email me, Amy at or via the Facebook Page!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Year of No Yarn--November Update

So there isn't much to report this month for my Year of No Yarn because I haven't started my "diet" yet. I've been able to buy some yarn for custom projects but I have NOT bought any yarn just for me this month! I even put down some pretty yarns I picked up and fondled.

Of course this week brings Black Friday which at Knit Picks is usually pretty awesome.

So I've been a good girl...remains to be see how I do on Black Friday....

What I Made--November 2014

Here's a little bit of what I created in November!!

 Ashby Scarf. Pattern from The Velvet Acorn 

 The Failynn Fox Hood by Velvet Acorn Deisngs

 I made up this poncho pattern and will write up pattern soon!

The Woodlynn Wolf Cowl by Velvet Acorn Designs

What have you made this month?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Year of No Yarn?

Shhh, calm down. It's okay, stop shaking. I know that title is scary. A year of no yarn?? But how? How would one breathe? If you are addicted to yarn and crafts like I am, how could I possibly function for a year with no yarn!?

Don't worry, it's not a year of no TOUCHING yarn, it's a year of not BUYING any new yarn!

On my last yarn purchase, I realized it was incredibly difficult to find any place to put any more yarn. It's in a storage bench, boxes, and shelves. I am out of space. I'm considered putting it in an unused suitcase, but we do go out of town every'd be a pain to unpack the yarn just to pack for the trip.

I also thought, "I wonder how long my current stash would last me? A year? Two? More??" I don't knit or crochet every day but just about. Sometimes life gets in the way and I can't pick up a WIP for a week or more. But I always have at least 4-5 current WIP's (works in progress). I have PLENTY of yarn to get me through personal projects and gifts. One of my current WIP's is a blanket made from Knit Picks Chroma worsted yarn that I bought on Black Friday 2012. Or it may have been 2011? Seriously, I hoarded it for over a year before deciding to make it all into a blanket. I'm STILL sewing the squares together. It's November 2014 for crying out loud.

Oh, I know, you long time yarn hoaders, you probably have yarn older than me. You probably have vintage yarn! But I must stop this madness!! Why did I buy it if not to turn it into a pretty and useful creation!??

So, in an effort to calm my addiction, and hopefully make room for NEW yearn when my sabbatical on yarn buying is over, I shall purchase no new yarn for me for one year! What's the fine print, you ask? Of COURSE there is fine print!

1. I may not purchase any new yarn. By new, I mean new from manufacturer OR destashed from another yarn addict.
2. I may be given yarn if someone so chooses to do so. I mean, come on, it's just rude to turn down a gift of yarn!
3. I may purchase yarn for a specific project if someone has requested I make them something AND they paid for the yarn! I must first assure I do not have the yarn they need in my stash.
4. I may not purchase any more yarn unless stipulated by rule 3. I repeat, stop.buying.yarn.

So, can I do it? Could you do it? Will I make a bunch of awesome new stuff or will I cave?

I will start December 1, 2014. You'll note that is after Black Friday where Knit Picks usually has a really good sale. I may have an addiction I need to curb, but I'm not stupid.

I shall report back!! I expect to have the shakes, pangs of jealousy, and nauseated longing to visit the yarn store.
Someone hold my hand.....


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Homeschooling--It's Not Always Pretty

Hello all! I know I'm a sporadic blogger, because, well, life happens. I don't get paid to blog so I squeeze it in when I can! But I noticed something as of late....

With the surge in homeschooling across the nation due to a variety of reasons, I see the growth just in Facebook groups alone. I see a lot of posts from new homeschoolers with a mixture of excitement, fear, and nervousness. I saw this awesome post today from a great lady named Tavia about not throwing in the towel. Check it out on her blog here.

I also wanted to add this...

It's not always pretty. Despite what you see on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, homeschooling is not always pretty. It's not always awesome field trips, cool projects, and neatly organized binders. Houses are not always (or ever) clean, children are rarely consistently obedient, and moms are rarely as awesome behind the screen as they are on it.

I do not mean to imply homeschooling parents are not amazing creatures who are worthy of our respect. They very, VERY much are. As are ALL parents who get up each day, take care of their children and the gazillion other things they must do.

But it's not always the picturesque, Pinterest worthy scene you may see. Here's what it often may be:

  • Stick-to-it-ness. Even the veteran homeschool mom changes her mind on curriculum, classes, and approaches. There's no shame in this, she just realizes something's not right and makes adjustments. It's not wrong, and do not feel shame for it!
  • Art? Are you kidding me? Does drawing on a napkin while we wait for dinner count? Glitter? Get thee away from me!!
  • The messy house. Look, I know there are some women who can keep a house perfect, be crafty, homeschool the kids, cook from scratch dinner, and volunteer in the community. Well, I have to give up some of that because I cannot do it all. I prefer to volunteer, homeschool, and do crafts like crochet and knitting because really world, it's for your safety that I get yarn time. Clean house? Perfect dinner? Haha!
  • Super obedient children. If you figure this one out, you let me know. I've learned to settle for moderately obedient, independent thinkers who can argue with the best of them. I pray their debate skills will pay off one day in adulthood. 
  • Being patient all the time. My husband says I am the MOST impatient person he's ever known. So I think I deserve major kudos for being able to handle this for 18 months now. You will not always be patient. No one is.
  • Socialization overkill or underkill. Either of these can happen. Don't commit to too many activities and don't become a hermit either, or you will become a cliche'! It's okay to adjust this, I promise we all do.
So, whether you are new on this journey with us, or an old hat...don't's okay to sing "Frozen" for the one millioneth time and LET IT GO!

Other great blog posts on the subject so you know you are not alone:

Being an imperfect parent since 2005

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Hidden Blessings of the Common Core

It's been a long year and half. Has it really only been that long? I first learned of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in January 2013. After a few months of deep research, becoming even more of an education advocate than I already was, and deep prayer, we pulled our oldest child in April 2013 to homeschool him. His little brother followed soon after.

It's been a very bumpy ride. Hang on, that's an understatement. It's been a roller coaster. It's been an education in the legislative process and all it's crooked tentacles. It's been testing of my patience both as a tax paying citizen and as a new homeschooling parent. It's been a test financially as I decided to put my successful business on hold to focus on homeschooling. It's been a major test of my patience, and many scared days calling into question my ability, and the same question every new homeschooler asks.."Can I really do this?"

So as much as I'd love to see Common Core, high stakes testing, school ratings, charter schools and all the other garbage I've learned in the last 18 months has not been without it's blessings and good points.

Like I tell my boys, repeatedly, you can choose to have a good day or a bad day.

I choose, in the face of all the nastiness that has come with this journey (and I do mean nastiness, I'm looking at you LABI and Stand for Children, Senator Appel and many more) to find the joy. Here is what I've found on this journey:

*People are amazing. Both bad amazing and good amazing. But overall, in spite of what you read in the media, most of these parents who are fighting so hard for the simple RIGHTS they are afforded, are good people. They are not raving lunatics from fringe sect groups. They are you and me. Every day Americans. Some are Tea Party, some are liberal, and every group in between. There are parents of every color, race, creed, religion, financial situation, coming to the table now. People who previously had NO clue how the education system worked are reading, learning, going to school board and state meetings. Children are going to their state capitol's to see how this all works! People are standing up, and taking BACK what is rightfully theirs...control over their child's education.

*I've made awesome friends. Some in real life, some online. I've encountered thousands upon thousands of amazing, awesome, strong, brave people who just said, enough is enough.

*I've had some great opportunities. I've had the chance to be on several national news programs because of this, which would've never happened to a plain old mom like me! I wish I hadn't had to be on them, but I don't mind being a voice for those who feel they can't speak up.

*I've had teachers AND parents tell me they need help to speak out. Teachers are scared, y'all. This isn't trivial. Yes, we can say they need to stand up and speak out, but it's really hard when someone feels their job is on the line. These are crazy times we live in, and it's a lot to ask someone to risk food on the table to speak up. I really feel for our teachers, I do. I was one, I feel you.

*I have learned my children are pretty darn awesome. Even when they drive me nuts, I learned I can indeed be with them pretty much 24/7 and the world will not spin off it's axis. I have a wonderful husband who helps out a lot, and in the end I see my children are learning so much and we are becoming stronger. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of days I cry and ask myself, why!? But all that really does is strengthen my resolve to help get our public schools to a better place so that maybe one day they can return. Will they? At this current rate, no. Never. But I still want to help save the future of public education for my grandchildren and beyond!

*I have learned so much myself!! I have learned many things I was NEVER taught in school, particularly history. Things I don't think they taught even when I was in school, and I KNOW they do not teach now. Since my children do not have to stress over tests or "Passing", we can take the time to truly learn a subject, dig in deep and study the basics and cornerstones of a good education.

*I've learned patience. This is a big one for me. My husband says I'm horribly impatient, and I am. Since he is also agonizingly PATIENT, we are fun sometimes! One of our friends says of my husband, "Your patience makes me impatient!" That was my only concern my husband had was my patience level. Well, it's certainly been tested but friends have remarked I'm far more patient than I used to be. I have had to be patient with my children, legislators, new people who discover the Common Core, new homeschooling families, strangers who question our education choices, and myself most of all.

I could probably go on and on, but you get the picture. Life is all about perspective. So while this may be a big, ugly, monster on top of our education the end, I promise it will pass. It will be another set of standards with another set of initials, followed by another set of assessments. Until we truly regain the true meaning of education which is to impart knowledge and light the fire of learning in students....and until we move away from this culture of workforce training and test taking....we won't be rid of this beast. It just won't happen. Maybe your kids are fine in the Common Core. That's great...but not all are, and I refuse to ruin the love of learning for 29 students because 1 in a class gets it.

Sorry, the teacher in me just won't let that fly.

So I will keep going, albeit at a lesser pace this year. Since my children are not in the classrooms anymore, I now focus on the homeschooling aspect of it. Because mark my words homeschoolers....

We are on their list.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Traveling Through History with Doctor Who--Win a copy!

I've been very busy the past few weeks getting ready for a new school year, getting started in our new semester of homeschool co-op and oh, writing an entire semester of a history curriculum! What started as a simple idea to make history more fun (and to use an excuse to rewatch a bunch of Doctor Who episodes) turned into a huge project that I am loving!

I have put together a full semester history course for the Doctor Who fan! Now, I like to call it a supplement, because I do not want the pressure to be someone's sole history resource. Also, the state laws vary, so it is up to each family to look and decide how much more they need to do with this course. But the potential to really dig deep is there.

So what is it? Allow me to explain! There are several aspects.

  1. Traveling Through History with Doctor Who is a for purchase PDF download of the entire curriculum. It contains 12 weeks/1 semester of material. You can purchase the curriculum through my Teachers Pay Teachers site. This curriculum has weekly episodes for your student to watch, and then activities to complete, research to do, and essays to write. How involved you get is up to you. I have done my very best to vet all websites, check appropriateness of links and resources. Please preview any materials for your student.
  2. There is also an Eliademy online class you can participate in. This semester it is free and is what I call a "light" version of the for purchase curriculum. I will include many aspects from the curriculum in the class, but not all of them. The Eliademy class is all self lead. There are discussion forums to discuss your student's work, talk about the episode, ask questions, etc. But I do not formally grade anything. There is one Graded class but it is currently full. You may join the class here: but you will need to sign up for an Eliademy account. If you are a parent and would like to follow along, you will need to either work with your student on the same account, or sign up for separate accounts. In the spring more options will be available, including a paid, full course that will include the above PDF in the course price. The Eliademy course is NOT a requirement of the download and vice versa.
  3. A Facebook group is also available to socialize, share ideas, discuss Doctor Who and all it's fandoms, and connect with our families. Again, this is merely a resource, NOT a requirement for either the Eliademy or the download curriculum.
So how you use these options are totally up to you! I've created them to be used separately, together or aspects of it used together. The Doctor Who fan community is an awesome group of people and to me, it really is a great motivator. It is loved by children and adults, it knows no political, religious, racial or cultural bounds. Doctor Who can connect a wide variety of people. Learning history in this way is a wonderful way to encourage children to explore their world and past. History doesn't HAVE to be boring!!

Traveling Through History with Doctor Who is designed for students in 6th grade and up. The reason for this is the topics dealt with such as war, death, and ethical/moral dilemmas can be harsh and difficult. History isn't always pretty. However, I do also have a companion (hehe) program called Little Whovians for younger students. I encourage you to look them both over and decide which one is best for your student. A free sample of TTHWDW is on my TPT store and is completely free. Little Whovians are also free and will always be free. They are uploaded per lesson and can be used totally independent of the main curriculum.

So, now for the fun! How would you like to win a copy of the download PDF curriculum? Well, check out this RaffleCopter giveaway and enter to win! Super easy ways to enter and get your hands on this awesome curriculum for FREE!

Please share to your Whovian friends!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

TARDIS on the Shelf

If you are not a Doctor Who fan, you should keep scrolling. But if you are, hang on! SO MUCH AWESOME TO COME!

In case you are somehow unaware, the new season of Doctor Who premieres August 23, 2014 on BBCA. To celebrate, the BBC is hosting a Doctor Who World Tour, which of course comes no where near me. To help you celebrate you can download and print your own foldable TARDIS. Get yours here:
Be sure to take pictures of your TARDIS around town, and add it to social media with the tag #DWWorldTour

I don't have a color printer so I was bummed, until I realized I have a TARDIS from the building block set (Non-Lego Legos, I suppose.) So I have decided to make a fun little activity with my TARDIS!

Every night until the premiere, I will move the TARDIS into a new spot in the house. Each night the Doctor will leave a list of clues that my sons have to use to figure out where he traveled the night before. Naturally my TARDIS comes with a little Matt Smith and Amy Pond, but you could do this with the foldable TARDIS as well.   Yes, it's TARDIS on a shelf. Elf on the should probably just bow out now...because we totally just kicked your butt with awesome.

So use your imagination, grab a TARDIS and start an adventure! Let the kids figure out where the Doctor went, look it up on a map, chart his adventures. Be sure to throw in some interplanetary adventures as well!

Where will that madman in a blue box go now???

Where will your TARDIS go?

Now for even more awesome news. I had an idea for an online History course and I thought, oh hey, I bet I can get 40 people to sign up. Um, well I underestimated the Whovians.

I created "Traveling Through History with Doctor Who" for students (primarily homeschooled, but all are welcome!) 6th grade and up. The class is currently hosted on Eliademy, a really nifty online classroom you should check out. The enrollment on Eliademy is open enrollment and you an follow along at home!

I am also writing a curriculum for purchase that will cover even more in depth information than the online class, and will be available for download to use at your families' convenience. I will certainly post as soon as that is available.

I have also created a Facebook group so you can stay up to date on the Eliademy course as well as my curriculum and other fun ways to use Doctor Who in homeschooling. Please visit and tell your friends!

So hop on Netflix, watch some Doctor Who and count down until the premiere!

What's I've Made Lately...

It's been awhile since I posted anything I've created, but that doesn't mean I haven't! I am no longer running Etsy shops but I am still creating! Almost daily! I do indeed, knit and crochet so I don't kill people.

 David Tennant Amigurumi. Yes, I made myself a Doctor.

 This sweet cat had been in my Ravelry queue for quite a while. I finally did it with this awesome new yarn from Hobby Lobby.

I made this My Little Pony Doctor Whooves for a special guy in the community. This pattern is amazing and wonderfully written.

 I knit up some coffee up cozies to keep in the car. I'm partial to this purple one, inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

 A lot of friends are having itty bitty babies, so I worked up some cute knit hats for them :) I love knitting baby hats. Quick, easy and satisfying! Plus the pictures when they have the babies to put them in are great! :)

Made this one for my best friend's daughter. I don't get to knit for girls, so I make up for it with her!

I've got other hats done, and of course many projects in progress....I can't seem to have less than 10 projects going at once!

What are you creating?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What is a WorkBox?

I had only recently heard of this term "workbox" in homeschooling, but after looking into it, I realized I'd already inherently done that with my children as they grew and I used similar methods as a teacher.

So what is a workbox? Well, from what I've read the supposed creator of workboxes is a woman named Sue Patrick. (I always hesitate when people say they originated or created something, because really? As if no one did it before you?) But if it's on the internet it must be true. Patrick has a website where you can find information about workboxes and how she says to do them.

From what I've surmised, you have the child's daily work to be completed in the boxes. You can apparently learn more from purchasing her book, but I've not yet had the opportunity to do that.

The blog Confessions of a Homeschooler has a video about how she does her workboxes.

Watching her video makes me consider doing these boxes, but I do not do workboxes right now. I did do one version in which I called it a "Brainy Box" that they had to complete in order to earn screen time for the day. Since we do not do non educational screen time during the week when school is in session, we actually do not need it now.

For me, I just think I couldn't physically put the workboxes where I'd like in such a way that would work for us. I like to have the books we use sorted per my liking, and my boys use folders to keep loose papers and know what is ahead for the day. H has a student planner from Well Planned Day, and this will be his first year with it, so it remains to be seen if it helps him organize any. He may turn out to not be as organizationally obsessed as me, and never use it! But we shall see!

Secondly, while I like the idea of workboxes, I do not like the idea of having to prep all that stuff every day. I find it taxing enough to prep weekly or monthly, and I like to leave an element of flexibility to our schooling. I know my kids enough to know if we have things in a workbox that say, do this and you're done...I'll never get them expanding on that. I like to sit down and work with them on most things, especially E as he is not yet reading independently. I can definitely see the appeal of workboxes as your children get older. But right now, the idea of nightly going in and pulling worksheets, etc just seems exhausting to me.

So, I'm glad I have heard of these nifty tools, and I'd love to hear if anyone successfully uses them in your work and what age/grade your students are in. Maybe you will convince me to give it a try!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

The Home School Month Ahead: August 2014

If you find homeschool organization boring and don't want to know what other homeschool moms do, you can skip this post, you won't hurt my feelings. I for one, enjoy seeing what others do so I can get great ideas for our own school day!

August will be a light month for us, we will only be doing 2 days a week of school to ease back into the school year. This frees up days for us to enjoy the rest of the month! The public school children return to school around the 7th, so that's when homeschoolers take back the park, pools, museums, etc. It's ok, we don't mind sharing the world with all the children, but it is nice to have less busy places to take our children too. It makes kid counting a lot easier at the park.....

So what's up for our family in August!? Well, I finally got to sit down with my nifty Well Planned Day planner and get to organizing!

We will only do school on Mondays/Wednesdays and not every subject. We do not go in any particular order of school work, I ask the kids what they want to work on first. Some people like to get started early in the morning, get math done and out of the way. For us, we are still working on that "magic method.". I do have subjects we do together and some we do separate. Remember H is going into 4th grade and E is going into 1st. So we cannot do EVERYTHING together. Math, Grammar and some electives are separate. So here's our basic August Monday/Wednesday 'to do' list. (I don't say schedule because I do not schedule out block of time in any particular order.)

Bible Study: We do YES Lessons just like I did as a kid in my church. You can find them for free if you are interested here:

Along with the YES Lesson we work on Character Studies from Confessions of a Homeschooler. If you haven't bookmarked her blog already, you should open a new tab right now and save it! (Come back here though...) AMAZING resource.

Math: H is still catching up on Teaching Textbooks 3 as we started it late last year. So he's got to finish that up and then move on to Teaching Textbooks 4. Eli does worksheets and Life of Fred. We love Fred, he's great. I highly reccommend it as a math program.

History: We wouldn't normally do History in this part time summer month, but we have a few chapters left to finish up before we are done with Story of the World Volume One. Since we are excited to get started on Volume 2, the Middle Ages to Medieval Times, we need to get done with Volume One! I really cannot speak highly enough about this book series. Reasonably priced, well done, a good history program for elementary students.

ELA: English Language Arts, I don't even like calling it ELA, since that's not we grew up calling English, but I do use it to mean any and all English, Grammar, Spelling, etc. I am VERY literature based and believe children learn best through stories and books, not textbooks and boring technical information. So, we are currently reading Chronicles of Narnia. We are just reading it as we go although I did find several lapbooks and unit studies on it. Surprisingly it was not listed on Teach With Movies, but we will be watching the movie version.
Also in ELA we use a program called Five in a Row. I love, love, LOVE this program. It is similar to how I taught literature based lesson plans when I taught early childhood. We are currently on Volume Two, even though it's suggested you start Volume One in the fall. I decided there were more books I wanted to try in Volume 2 for now.

I love the fact that FIAR is pretty much all you need for a young child other than Math and Phonics! I pick and choose the stories we want to do based on time of year, interests, availability, etc.

Phonics: E is still wrapping up his Saxon Phonics K book from last year. He is doing so good in reading, I could likely just skip the rest of it and he'd be fine, but I do want to cement a good understanding of Phonics since I feel H missed out on that in public school. E goes through his lesson and worksheet in less than 10 minutes.

Electives: We will add more electives in September but for now the only true electives we do is H does a Typing Instructor program on the computer.

He seems to really enjoy this and it reminds me of the typing tutor programs I used as a kid. (On my rocking Commodore 64 mind you....)
In September we pick up more electives like American Sign Language, Handwriting, Music, Creative Writing and Art. I look forward to all of these!

So I hope this helps you see a little bit of just one fraction of what one can do in the area of curriculum!

What are some of your favorite curriculum? Free resources?


**This post contains affiliate and non-affiliate links. All affiliate programs are listed on my Disclosure Page.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer 2014 Review

I've been a bad blogger! Summer time and homeschooling keeps one very busy! We've had a fun but busy summer swimming, hanging with friends, NOT doing official school! I had plans to do more school over the summer but we were enjoying being lazy! :) And they seem to always be learning, so it works out.

I hope you've had a wonderful summer. I cannot believe it's almost August! Here's a little bit of what we've done this summer so far.

 Throwing water balloons at minecraft drawings.

 Gummy bears in sprite popsicles. (They didn't like it, they said the gummy bears were too hard.)

 Pitiful attempt as a garden. This year I tried an heirloom, organic garden and NOTHING grew except green beans. Sigh. I'm ready to throw in the green thumb towel. We got a few conventional strawberries.

 We watched clouds and let the sunshine warm our faces!

 We picked blueberries finally again. We LOVE doing this. Okay, so maybe more so me than them because it means more Blueberry Vodka Lemonade. (Recipe here.) But they do have fun too and it's a gorgeous place to take photos.

 Fishing at Uncle Marc's. This kid loves fishing. He's dying to go out on the lake and fish. Thank God for Uncle Marc because neither my husband nor I like fishing.
 We fulfilled a long time goal and yarn bombed Aunt Denise's mailbox. Crochet for the win.

 July Fourth again at Aunt Denise and Uncle Marc's. Fun! Hope to make it a yearly tradition! Yummy food, fireworks, playing with the dog, good times!
We also had a Frozen party for some friends, no one's birthday, just because! I didn't take any pics during the party because we were having too much fun!!

So we are wrapping up July and heading into August. That means 2 days a week of school and 3 days to finish enjoying summer. Public school kids start school here around August 7th, so we head out to the parks, pools, museums, etc and enjoy the space! Of course we spend the month praying for no hurricanes also, which is another reason I don't start major school until after Labor Day. It's ridiculous that August is our hottest month, most active hurricane month and we start school here in the beginning of it! Why? So they can have more days to prep for spring tests. Yes, indeed that is an honest answer I received from someone in the know. Sad. But that's another blog post....

So we will ease into school in August, get our feet wet again, brushing up on old skills before we dive head on in September. I sit here in total astonishment that the year is over half over. Seriously. Time dragged as a child...why does it fly by now!?

So here's to an awesome summer and what will be an excellent school year!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

End of School Year Wrap Up!

No, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth. I've been a bit busy! Wrapping up the "end" of our first full homeschool year, finishing the homeschool co-op semester, having and going to meetings regarding Common Core, Education advocacy and legislation. I'm ready to relax a bit this summer!

We've had a good year. Busy, stressful, had it's ups and downs, but it was far better than I thought it would be. I'm not going to lie I was deeply concerned about being with my kids 24/7. I was one who really, really, REALLY wanted her break when they were in school. But things change, people adapt and we work it out! We fight, we scuffle, they get punished, I make mistakes along with them, but in the end I think we're doing pretty good! We even finished 95% of the educational things I wanted to do! (Pssst....public school teachers never finish all of the book either.)

So we've had some awesome field trips, great lessons, fun experiments and learned a lot! I learned more from their history book just this year that I probably ever did in school, likely because they generally don't teach ancient history in schools anymore.

So it's been a busy, fun, crazy year but we had a good time overall, learning. We thoroughly enjoyed our homeschool co-op we are part of and can't wait for more!

We will have a little bit of time off for summer break, then do a light summer session, mostly math and a literature unit study on Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe a little Doctor Who unit study. :) My oldest has gotten into Doctor Who with me, and we also enjoy "The Sarah Jane Adventures" we found at our library!

I appreciate you all coming along on our journey this year as I navigated the shift from a small business owner with two kids in school to a homeschooling mother who gave up her business! Phew! It's been a wild year!

Here's to a super fun summer!!


Friday, March 28, 2014

What We Wish Our Non-HomeSchooling Friends Knew....

As a mom who's only been in this home-schooling gig about a year now, it's been an interesting ride. It's been bumpy for sure, a lot of highs and a lot of lows. It's drastically changed my educational philosophies and feelings about the current state of education as well as how I feel about my own children.

My children were in school. I never batted an eye at sending them off on that big yellow bus and enjoying a few hours of blissful quiet. (I never got the full eight hours as one son was only in a half day program so between getting him and his big brother from school, I had just three months of not working and being home alone for 4-5 hours a day.) I had spent most of their younger years at home with them, sending them both to a good preschool program that I worked at off and on over the years (my former place of employment as a teacher.) I had survived the diaper years, the not sleeping, the super fun time of navigating a child in the early intervention system. I thought I'd put in my time and I was DONE. I'd be sending them on their way, getting a huge block of time to work on my business, clean house, cook, create, see friends.

Then my priorities shifted both on purpose and unexpectedly. My older son began to have problems at school where safety was a concern and I became aware of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. I disagree with Common Core for a variety of reasons, some of which my friends agree with, some who disagree or are not concerned. And that's okay. It's my problems, my concerns, my children, my decisions. But it's these concerns that led me to investigate and ultimately decide that we needed to give home-schooling a chance.

It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Now, do not misinterpret this to think we spend the day twirling clover flowers and counting clouds. Oh, I threaten to send them back to school. I cry. I scream. I fuss. They cry, they scream, they fuss. But guess what, as time goes by, we all do a lot less of that.

We have spent the year learning how we are similar and different, learning a different dynamic to our personalities and lifestyle. I've discovered things about myself as both a parent and educator and I've discovered things about their learning styles and who they are as people, not just spawn of mine.

I've learned about the secret world of homeschoolers and all the cool things we can do that I never knew about when my children were in school. I've reshaped my opinions on who homeschooling families really are. Guess what, they don't all wear denim dresses and shelter their children. There are homeschooling families of all shapes, sizes, types, and styles. More than I can even begin to list. There are plenty of labels but labels are for soup cans as I once read in a book by Amy Dingmann. (Great read, go get it, seriously, go now.)

I've also learned that my friendships with non-homeschooling friends will change. And that's okay because true friends will still be there no matter how weird they think your choices are. (Because chances are you think some of THEIR choices are weird.)

I know quite a few people who are new to home-schooling or are thinking of giving it a go. It's caused me to ponder what I wish I'd been able to tell my non-homeschool friends early on.  

Here are the Top Ten Things We Wish You Knew.
1. First and foremost, our decision to home school does not, should not, and could not ever define YOUR choices in how you educate your child. With the exception of some militant home-schooling families, MOST home school families could honestly care less about how you educate your child. Many of us choose to only home school one child, many of us only do it for a season, some for life. All most of us really care about is that we all have CHOICES and the freedom to make that choice. So we applaud your choice, whatever it may be because you had the freedom to choose it. When WE choose to home school we are NOT saying our choice is better than yours. We are NOT saying we love our kids more and we are NOT saying we are superior parents. (And if you are someone who does think that, you have some serious soul searching to do because those kinds of feelings do NOT lend well to survival in the human race.) What we are saying is our choice to home school is what's best for us, right now, right here. It doesn't define YOU.

2. We learn way more than just when we sit down to pen and paper. Just as children in public/private schools learn far more than just what's on the paper in front of them, homeshooling children do not learn in a bubble. (Or they shouldn't.) Chances are when a homeschooler tells you they're done with their work in 3-4 hours what she means is the "book work" or "paperwork". She neglects to tell you about the music lessons, PE class, park trip, field trips, library visits, life skills, play dates, science camps, etc and all the things that are also considered "electives" in public/private school as well. Our electives just often happen to occur outside in the world. (Not all the time.) As it SHOULD be in public/private schools, life is a series of teachable moments. Learning doesn't happen in a bubble.

3. Homeschooling parents ARE qualified to teach their children. This may never come up between your friends, but it may. We just wish more people could understand they are truly qualified to teach their children. Why, when said child suddenly turns five and is off to kindergarten are we to assume we can't handle it? Am I really to believe I'm a *mumble*Something year old woman who cannot do second grade math? And if I am, why can I not re-learn it? Want to know a secret? We have the teacher manuals! Shhh, don't tell. But guess what....we have access to the answers!! And if we are not familiar with a subject, we generally learn it along with our kids! I'm not even going to list all the things I've either learned for the first time, or re-learned this year alone! Some parents happen to have education degrees (There's this secret subset of homeschooling parents who are former teachers....interesting...). Some have degrees in their area of expertise. Some have none at all. Our countries forefathers were not necessarily taught at a brick and mortar school all day long, yet they built one of the finest nations on Earth. Home schooling's not for wussies. We generally do not go at this with an apathetic view of education. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but overall, we choose to home school because we value education and academics along with individuality and wish to cater that to our children. But we're not all rocket scientists and we don't have to be.

4. We didn't make this decision lightly. Some families know before they even conceive they wish to home school. Most do not. Most make this decision at some point their child's education "career" and decide they want to give it a go. Some families do know early on and make a game plan from day one. Whether we started early or didn't home school until senior year, please know we didn't make this decision lightly. Perhaps we discussed it with you as we discuss everything, but maybe we didn't. Maybe your friend just up and pulled their kids out of school. Either way, I promise you it was not a knee jerk reaction done overnight (Unless it was a specific imminent danger situation to a child, which are few and far between, and I cannot even honestly recall one family I know like that, but I do know it occurs.) But we thought about this. Prayed. Sought guidance. Researched. This was not a quickie idea. I promise.

5. We hate the socialization question. Let's get this over with now. We socialize our dogs, we educate our children. There is a TREMENDOUS difference between social skills and socialization. This is the biggest joke amongst homeschoolers because apparently the world thinks we all hide in a basement and never go out. Or they think because we're not surrounded by kids the same age we will all be horribly un-socialized. Social skills are taught in a variety of ways and I do not recall ever having a job where everyone was the same age as me. The world is a giant hodgepodge of people. The world is social. Social SKILLS are something every child should be taught and homeschoolers are no less capable of teaching this than school teachers. Social skills are manners, politeness, waiting in line, patience, turn taking, respect for elders, navigating checkout procedures, grocery shopping, driving, funeral and wedding decorum, and a million other skills we ALL need to learn. Quite frankly, this whole world needs a big social skills lesson because it sure has been on the decline.

But this is a big one in our world. We know you ask not because you really think we'll lock our kids away from the world, but because you're honestly intrigued and you honestly don't know. I didn't! I asked the question. It wasn't until we started homeschooling that I realized how silly that is. I know I do not take offense at this question but it gets really, really, really old.

Now that's not to say there aren't 'unsocialized homeschoolers' in the world. There are families who can't or won't take advantage of social opportunities. There are kids who are never, ever taught social skills. But I would guess if they weren't in school, they still might lack those skills. There are kids who just ARE socially awkward. There are PARENTS who are socially awkward. There are kids and adults who have social skill issues and cannot help it, or have not sought treatment for it. That doesn't mean they are less of a human than you, and I really wish people would judge a whole lot less.


6. We need a break too. When public/private school parents complain that summer vacation drags on, or they can't wait for school to start, you find different reactions from homeschoolers. Some of us chuckle and say, "Hah, I wish I could be complaining to GET a break from my kids!" Some of us are a little sad and say, "That's sad they don't enjoy being with their kids.". Both reactions are valid and each person is entitled to their opinions. I tend to be in both camps. I am not someone who wants to be with their kids 24/7. That was the hardest pill to swallow in this journey. But whether parents admit it or not, we all need a break. We just don't get our break during the school day like you do. But don't forget us. Ask us to go out on girls night. Find out when our spouse will be home so we can go shopping. Don't get mad when we don't answer the phone during school time, but leave us a message of a time we can call back. Share funny stores with us on Facebook. Tell us about good recipes. We need grown up talk. We do need a break from our kids, so if we vent to you about a bad day, keep in mind we might be forgetting to tell you about the awesome things we did do. Because honestly, sometimes that goes back to the #1 point...we do worry if we talk about the awesome thing you will think we're comparing our kids/parenting/choices to yours. We're not, promise, we just need a friend in this parenting gig and our gig happens to involve homeschooling.

7. We're all a little weird. Does this even need to be said? Seriously? EVERYONE has weird issues, quirks, likes, thoughts, desires, opinions. Stop thinking ours are weird solely because we home school.

8. Every state, city, family, is different.
The way your cousin home schools in Denver will be drastically different than her friend in Oklahoma. Every state has different rules and regulations for homeschooling. We like it that way. When things need to be changed, homeschooling families rally together and advocate for their choices. Just as is done in the school system, parents can and should advocate for what's best for their children. Ours happens to be in the topic of homeschooling, so it can vary wildly state to state, city to city, group to group and family to family. There are MANY different types of homeschooling philosophies and unless you ask, you'll have no idea which one we may or may not adhere to. Ask us if you are curious. If not, don't assume we're doing it wrong because it's different than others.

9. If we vent to you, don't assume the entire process is awful.  Again, I promise it's not all bad. If your friend is homeschooling and a very good friend, it's possible she vents to you because you're her bud and she feels safe doing so. As mentioned above, there may also be reasons she leaves the good stuff out. Part of this problem is on us, the homeschoolers. We need to stop worrying about what everyone thinks and just share our news in general, good and bad. We need to change this dynamic and share the cool stuff!
**Confidential to homeschooling families...if discussing your homeschooling really does cause dissension among family and friends it may be time to evaluate how you go about discussing it, and if the problem is truly not yours, just let it be a topic you don't discuss. Sometimes in life there are groups of people we cannot discuss certain things with. This is okay to be one of them.**

10. We miss you.  Just as life changes and we go through periods of adjustment after college, marriage, babies, deaths, etc; this is just another time in life where things change. You will likely drift apart from some friends. Its inevitable. But true, good friends are important, whether it's short lived or for a lifetime. We want you to know that we're still here...we're still your friend. We don't judge your choices (or if we do so, we do so lovingly and with your best interest at heart like the time you wore that blue dress that was too, we need to talk.) But seriously, friendship takes work, just like marriage and this crazy home school game. So just because your friend now home schools, it doesn't mean she's not the same awesome person she was before. It just means her schedule might be a bit different, she may ask you to save toilet paper rolls for an art project, and she may not own anything other than yoga pants (to which you need to help save her from that...) but she's still the same awesome friend you loved prior to homeschooling. And if she's NOT and your differences are too much, that's okay too. Life changes. But know your homeschooling friend misses you and loves you, no matter where your kids are from 9am-3pm. I promise.

******* I apologize for this novella but it's something I've been dwelling on a long time, both personally and as I've watched friends navigate this home school experience, both old timers and newbies. Life is ever changing and if we were all just a bit more open to new experiences and accepting, life could go a lot smoother. There will ALWAYS be someone doing it better, faster, earlier, newer, prettier, happier, than you. Ignore that. I am only responsible to God and to my family. I'm responsible for what I say, not for what you hear. I repeat these things to myself throughout the day when things get tough.

Do what works for you, what works best for your family and cultivate the friendships you value...

because in the end, we all just want what's best for our children, and that's not the same choice for everyone. But it's a choice we can all support and believe in.



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