Saturday, May 31


We’re down to the end. The boys are thinking of summer and as J put it, “freedom!” Oh, my son, me too. Me Too. But there are things to finish yet.

J is finished with math for the year. But he has a full week of handwriting, chapter book reading (7 chapters to do in five days), memory verse review, geology vocabulary, map learning and lots and lots about how mountains are shaped.

B is working on his last 8 lessons of math, two phonics readers, map learning, grammar exercises, geology vocabulary, memory verse review and the same stuff about how mountains are shaped.

I’m sorry it’s not a week of parties and watching movies like my last weeks always were. – O.K. not really.

J has one more thing as well. He has to start and finish a report. I think it’s imperative that we end the year on it because he will be doing several next year and he’s yet to do just one. I can tell it is frustrating him to think of writing something three pages long (5-7 paragraphs). So, I asked him last night if he would like to consider stretching this report out for about a month. We can finish everything else this week and then a couple times a week in June we can just sit down and gather information and put it together in a cohesive way without the pressure of finishing and having a bad experience now, in this last week.

Sounds like I should say, “last week” because I think we just extended our year.

Sunday, May 25

Mt. Pancake

This is Mt. Pancake. It was our object lesson this week as we studied mountains and maps. To me it represents the heart of homeschooling.
  • It involved taking something from everyday life and turning it into a teaching moment.
  • It utilized the boys' great love of chocolate chip pancakes to inspire them toward learning.
  • It involved cooking something. :-)
My curriculum suggested a very involved project for making contour maps that was unrealistic for my particular children to do -- one son is just very young, and one son is just very distractable. So, we built our mountain out of pancakes and then dismantled it in order to trace each layer largest to smallest, nested inside one another, to make our own contour map.

My kids are so lucky to get to learn in such creative ways. Right?
No... Let me immediately dispel any notion in your head that this was the greatest lesson ever.

  • They watched me make these pancakes and they lamented how unfair it was that they couldn't eat any of them.
  • They moaned that they were soooo hungry as I made a second batch of pancakes for their breakfast.
  • One son said it was all wasted because the pancakes would be bad by the next day (which is when I said they could eat Mt. Pancake for breakfast)... even though we always freeze leftover pancakes and eat them later.
  • So, I put Mt. Pancake off a bit in favor of completing some other parts of our day (there's more to that story) and then they were BUMMED that they couldn't do the project right then and there.

And to top it all off, as we were working on math and vocabulary and other things our baby boy climbed up on the table and ate 1/3rd of Mt. Pancake.

At least one son liked the project.

Tuesday, May 13

Four More Weeks

J is almost finished with fourth grade. Every year that goes by things not only get more challenging for him, but they are also harder for me. I'm constantly trying to weigh the value of pushing him to write that complete sentence or just letting him answer the question verbally. He needs both skills. If he had his way, there would be an appropriate shortcut for everything in life. He will not be the one to wax eloquent on his own blog one day. He'll be the one who bullet-points everything. (He's obviously not his mother's child. I'm waaay too verbose in my writing).

B is doing well. I have never been able to nail down whether this is his Kindergarten year (he'd be the right age if he were enrolled somewhere) or his First Grade Year. His skills in reading leave me thinking that he's not quite First Grade level, but his math, comprehension and social skills easily put him in Grade One. So, I guess we could say he's finishing his K/1 year and leave it at that. It makes people in the store look at him funny when they ask what grade he's in, but that's just part of the deal when homeschooling.

S is learning so much. He's learned that if he hits brother number two hard enough that he could make him cry. He's learned that he can pretty much climb up and take over any chair a small person might be sitting in -- and win. He's learned that when we are all buried in book learning he can leave the room and come crashing back in with his chubby arms flailing in the air and yell, "Yeah!!!!" and we'll stop what we're doing and laugh at him. He's still our favorite interruption.

I don't really want this school year to end because then I'll have a fifth grader and that is perilously close to someone who is nearing Jr. High... oh, my. I sure hope I've done well for him. All indicators say he's thriving in this situation, but it's not unlike a homeschool mom for me to second guess myself at every turn. There are just less and less turns with each passing year. I'd like to finish this one off on the straight and narrow.

Thursday, May 1

A Ton of Stuff Going On

I remember in high school I was involved in seriously 128 different things at once. (That's only a slight exaggeration). But I loved every second of being busy and purposeful. I've had months like that since then, and I'm having one right now, but this one is kicking my bum. So, I'm very glad that May is here because I think that by the end of May I may actually get to sit back and read a book or something else inactive.

[Let's all laugh together at that because there's no way that's going to happen.]

Moving. We are making good headway in unpacking our lives. I'm at the point where if it's not unpacked then it's not necessary and I know of a good garage sale coming up soon to donate these unncessary things to. Seriously, when you have to go back and make another trip because it all wouldn't fit in a 26 foot truck it makes one's stomach queasy from the materialism.

Schooling. We are wading through our stewardship unit. On paper this was going to be a really great unit, but it's pretty lackluster in the application of it all. Right now we're studying money...well, economics on an elementary scale. And my firstborn (who desires to be rich and powerful by the time he's nine) is not taking to it like I thought maybe he would. We've talked about interest and different savings accounts and credit and now he's writing checks and keeping a check register... maybe I've popped his bubble a bit and he's realizing money isn't all fun and games. My middle son, other than gleaning from the information his brother is getting, is really just getting a good feel for what money looks like, why it's designed the way it is and how much good he can do with it.

As we wrap up the year in about five weeks (yep) I'm beginning to pay attention to the holes we've left behind. Language Arts is a big hole. We've done grammer and punctuation and comprehension and everything well...except writing. We need to do more writing. It's such a battle with son #1 that I tend to shy away from it whenever I can. My curriculum says he should have written two reports this year. Not going to happen. (I don't remember writing an actual researched report until 6th grade...I did it on Mexico). So, as we come into convention season I'll be looking into the IEW program. I think it's time to give writing some focus and hopefully it'll work with my ADHD tactile learner. ?? (Input from others' experience here would be great).

Co-Op. It's been a rash of emails this week back and forth on our board for the First Class Central Portland Co-Op. We are busy!! I set up a library window display to give us some community "air-time," we are all busy editing our membership packet information, designing letterhead, updating the database and website, fine tuning our philosophy and looking foward to a fundraiser garage sale in about two weeks. If you know homeschoolers in Portland, point them to We're having another informational meeting May 31st. That will be a big one, (we hope we hope).

We're out tonight for Presentation Night, the official end of our Friday School session. The Pirate Geography class isn't presenting, but we have a very cool display of work. 6:00 Life Point Church in Vancouver if you're interested in seeing what we're all about!