Tag Archives: homeschooling

150 Years Later

19 Nov

Sometimes I wonder if homeschooling for the sake of Classical Education works.

Sometimes I wonder if my children hear one sixteenth of the thousands of words bombarded at them each day.

Sometimes I wonder if someone else couldn’t do a better job of teaching them how to figure out things like the fraction one sixteenth.

Sometimes I wonder if this journey through history, this daily hearing and reciting of God’s Word, this language saturation, this diligence to fact and foundation is working.

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t just show them YouTube videos all day long.

But sometimes, just sometimes, there appears a glimmer of outcome.  After hearing the beginning of the Gettysburg Address on NPR this morning, Thomas’s immediate and unsolicited observation was that Abraham Lincoln must have been a Quaker.  When pressed to explain his conclusion he pointed out that Lincoln said that we were all created equal, and since that’s what the Quakers believed, then he must be one as well.

That, fueled by an immense sense of parental pride, launched me into my own lengthy address on the impact of the Quaker governmental system on the United States of America.

Just minutes later he was back to flipping through Pokemon cards and demanding that backwards 5’s are just as legible as frontwards ones.  But sometimes.  Sometimes . . .

History Lesson

Another exciting history lesson.

The First Day of the Rest of the Blog

26 Aug

In an effort to dust away the inter-cobwebs  I’m going to make an attempt this school year to used this blog as a place to keep up with our homeschooling adventures and general family events.

So, for at least the time being, ignore the schedule, don’t expect regularity, and don’t be alarmed if the posts seem as if they would only be of interest to those who share the same familial nose scrunch.  It’s okay, that’s what I’m mainly going for, but that won’t stop me from facebook bombing them, so enjoy, even if you couldn’t find the Middle of Nowhere without GPS.

Today was our first day of school.  I always thought it would be great if my kids could have the experience of walking to school.  I’m sure some expert somewhere once said that beginning the day with fresh air and exercise makes kids approximately a trillion times smarter, impossibly obedient, and general angels in the classroom.  That’s probably what’s been lacking in our schooling up until now, so this year we’re changing it up.  First thing every morning:  a one-mile run017

We’ll keep this up at least until the Grand Rapids Children’s Marathon,016

or until the cold Michigan air is credited for the loss of earlobes or pinky toes.018

The next best change for the 2013-2014 academic year is the presence of a REAL LIVE SCHOOL ROOM.  Okay, fine, it’s not alive (because I teach my children science, I feel like I need to point out that I understand the concept of living beings.) 008

But it’s a room.  And it’s for school.  And it’s real.  Real cool, that is.  Awesome.  Wonderful.  Stupendous.  Fantastic.007

Can’t you tell by their happy faces?010

Apparently the problem was that, and I quote, “I only have three markers.  That’s it, the first day of school is ruined.”

Happily the marker debacle was cooperatively solved.  Solved well enough, in fact, to grant markers to even the littlest scribblers among us.012

The same little scribblers which later earned a home ec. lesson in laundry after “rest time” and “potty training” had an unfortunate intersection.  That is all on that subject.019

What will the rest of the school year bring?  Hopefully more posts, and less impromptu laundry, but for now I’ve got to go grade some math.  I’m going to use a marker.


Acting Our Age – Part II

17 Apr

We need to continue with our “Christina and Stacy: Bloggers” history lesson. Remember a few weeks ago when my sister published this, the first installment in the series of emails that got this blog rolling? I have for you today installment #2. Let me remind you that I was subbing, and (to quote my sister) magnificently pregnant. Christina was homeschooling just 1 of her 5. The twins were infant status. AND, although there’s no specific mention yet as to a sister blog, it lies within these words. I promise.


To: Christina, Mom, Dad

From: Stacy

Subject: Snippets from the week – reply

We’re having pajama day today! I am totally taking advantage of that. Give a pregnant lady the chance to wear pjs in public? Yes, please.

Good e-mail, sister. Good e-mail. Also, I have yet to comment, but I thought your Dr. Suess was brilliant. You should publish. Online. In a social forum.

Christina, I know I already shared this with you, but I might as well put it out there in cyber-space. My son thinks my legs are “comparatively large”. The problem? He’s right. Comparatively right.

Okay – today’s a real easy day here subbing so I expect many lengthy responses. But don’t let that polytheistic monster of yours touch the keyboard. It might be catching.

In the same line – the 6th graders I subbed for the other day are currently studying the Ancient Israelites as well. You should have Sim come read to them. I am certain they wouldn’t even notice the addition of Lobsters.

Oh, and I forgot the name of that website with the memory work guidelines. Peace Suffix dot org? Is that right?

Alright. I love you and expect witty repartee today.


Comparatively large? I don't know. I couldn't see them...




13 Apr

No books to see here today, folks, but lots of words, because –

It’s National Scrabble Day!

Okay, so I wouldn’t have known that today was the 113th birthday of Scrabble creator Alfred Mosher Butts had it not been for my ever-on-top-of-it friend.  So, thank you, Jeannette.

In light of the holiday, (I’m not throwing that word around too loosely, am I?) we utilized the “Mom’s Choice” time-slot to learn the fine game.  Mom’s Choice is the period from 1:00-1:30 when then children don’t know what to expect out of our homeschooling schedule.  Will it be a read-aloud?  Maybe an art project?  Baking time, anybody?  A walk around the block?  Shoot, they’re just happy when it isn’t picking up their room, or trip to the grocery store.  For that matter, I’m pretty pumped when it isn’t one of those two things, as well.

The boys learned this classic board game, and I also learned a lesson or two.  I’ll share those with you.

1.  A lot of spelling, phonics, adding, multiplying, and counting can be accomplished without ever using the words spelling, phonics, adding, multipying and counting.

2.  The opposite of a Winning Game is a Losing Game.  Neither is desirable when pitting a Reader against an Almost Reader.

3.  Nonreaders are not affected by the Winning vs. Losing aspect of the game because the Nonreader is also a little foggy on numbers.

4.  The Nonreader needs to review counting to seven.

5.  When aided by the Nonreader in cleaning a shaker’s worth of pepper off the table so you can begin play, remember to have said child wash his hands before rubbing his tired eyes.  Failure to do so will increase the child’s necessity for naptime and shorten the game dramatically.

6.  Scrabble is not designed for Nonreaders.

7.  Timers help you pass the time, especially when you find the game “not that interesting.”

8.  There is no apparent audible difference between the words ‘scramble’ and ‘Scrabble.’

9.  Team Scrabble lends an added challenge to the game.

10.  Everyone should go play Scrabble right away.  Cecilia said so.


Acting Our Age

29 Mar

Things I (We) Love:  You

Today is our blogiversary, but it’s really you we’re celebrating.  You see, before you came along we were just two sisters e-mailing back and forth trying to maintain familial closeness over the span of several states.

It was working, but then we decided my sister was so funny that she deserved to be read by others.  Well, that’s what I decided anyhow, I don’t know what Stacy was thinking.  Oh yeah, that’s right, she was too busy giving birth to notice that I roped her into this debacle.

Our present to you this week is excerpts from the e-mail exchange that started it all.  Today you get the first message.

Let me lay the context.  It was March of 2011.  Stacy was substitute teaching and magnificently pregnant.  I was homeschooling Simeon, but the younger two brothers were still in preschool.  The Babies were actually still babies.  I had recently posted a facebook photo album about Dr. Suess’ birthday that was sort of another entrez into blogging, later next week I’ll try to figure out how to post that as part of this ‘looking back’ series.


To:  Stacy, Mom, Dad
From:  Christina
Subject:  Snippets from the Week

—The boys were teasing each other on the way to school this morning, so I decided I’d better intercede and find out what names they were using.  Turns out they were calling Abe a polytheist.  Poor kid.  Don’t worry, Sim assures me that they all know he’s really a monotheist.
—This week we checked out Rocky and Bullwinkle from the library.  It makes the boys guffaw.  Us too.
—They are also watching Baby Rocket.  He was the King of the Wild Frontier, you know.
—This morning Simeon read the story of Moses and the Israelites to his brothers from the NIV children’s Bible including the part about the Plague of Lobsters.  You remember that one, right?
—Cecilia has a weird smell coming from her right ear.  I think there was a tear (or spit-up) in her ear from lying on her back, crying over you (or, more likely, me.)  Anywho, we now call her Stinky Ear the Pirate Lass.  She doesn’t mind.
—Pete turns his head when he hears his own name.  Either that or he just like it when we read C.S. Lewis.
—We’re nearly finished with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  The suspense is killing them.  We may have to let them stay up late tomorrow night to finish the last three chapters.  I think for the sake of Thomas’ sanity we best not leave Aslan dead for a full 24 hours.
—I checked out Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Twins from the library.  It doesn’t seem to be working yet.  I suppose I should read it.
—I refined some of the rhymes in my Suess Parody.  You can go back and reread it if you’re in to that kind of thing.
—Next week is Spirit Week at school.  Sim noticed that they are having another Pajama Day and has requested the same.  But not Hat Day.  No way, no how.  I don’t really get it, we have a Baby Rocket hat he could wear.
Good night and Good bye.

Going on Book Tour

16 Dec

I’m supposed to talk to you about a book today, judge it by its cover, and give you the whole entertaining scoop.  But, things are very messy around here, and I can’t seem to focus on a book.

Okay, let’s be honest, I can’t seem to focus on much of anything.

So instead, let’s start off Christmas Vacation with a tour of everyone’s favorite death tourist trap, our house.  We’ll even make this fit our Friday theme and make it a Bibliotechnic Tour.

Shall we begin?  Please watch your step.  No seriously, don’t stub your toe on the potato bin the Twins rolled into the living room or pierce your foot on that Imaginext guy’s sword.

Our first stop is the dining room.  Here, underneath our table is our collection of Christmas books.

Some people may prefer to keep their seasonal books under the tree, but then again, they don’t display them in such a classy box, either.  Many of the Christmas books aren’t in here.  In fact, let me thumb through these quickly . . . yes, just as I thought:  These are the ones we haven’t actually read yet, which means that there are approximately 37 other Christmas/Snow/Winter/Santa/Arctic Animal books elsewhere in the house.  Please try not to slip and fall when you step on one.

Next let’s head towards our school area.  Yikes!  Please avert your eyes as we walk past the dining room table.  It looks like the babies have been at it again.

Ah, here’s our eldest, Simeon.  He has one final math review to finish before officially enjoying Christmas Break.

Don’t worry,  “phone a friend” is not an acceptable method of math tutoring at our house.  Talking through your math problems on a toy cell phone in an imaginary conversation with your cousin Owen and good friend Daniel is, however.

And see these?

These are worth three cheers.  Ready?  Hip, Hip, Hooray!  Really, that’s all the better cheer I can get out of a virtual tour group?  Lame.  Well, let me tell you their significance, and maybe I can hear some all caps out of you yet.  In August when I sat down to do long term lesson planning for the year it was my goal to finish these math, astronomy, and ancient history texts by Christmas.  We made it!!!  Can I get a HIP, HIP . . .

Oh, well.  On to my desk.

This stack of books has been edited by some clever elves who wish to keep Christmas presents a surprise.  So now, aren’t you wondering if you are one of the nuts to whom these books will be gifted?

The kitchen is home to many recipe-free books at our house.  Here’s a smattering of what we have on our counters.  First, a hymnal.

I had a bit of work to do this morning, so it’s hanging out here by the computer.  You can tell by the dirty spots on the second page that this hymnal is no stranger to close encounters of the kitchen kind.

While we’re here, please note that we begin observing The Great “O” Antiphons tomorrow.  It’s a great way to count down to the Holy Day.  Also, and get ready because this is a little soap box I like to stand on, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually start on December 25 and carry on until January 5.  We are not in them right now.  That is all.  Rant off.

Under the hymnal is another tome that is rarely out of arm’s reach for me this December.

I’m nearing the end, see?

Will I make it in time to enjoy Christmas Present?

Then there’s the back side of this little work.

I tend to agree with the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. But, I might be speaking out of turn about ASUE, I only read one volume, and that was nearly eight years ago when I was operating on a touch of baby blues, and only a pinch of sleep.  Maybe they aren’t as dismal as I remember them.

Nah.  They’re bad.  But, on his Aunt’s advice, I will be allowing my son to try them on for his own dismay.

Let’s see, where to next?  How about we wrap up our little tour in the living room.  Did you ever wonder where the books go when you put them in the book drop?  Apparently, right here:

See that book about Petunia.  She wants a pet skunk.  It’s funny stuff.

If you look immediately behind you, our half decorated Christmas tree would be happy to illuminate the room, except, well, we can’t keep it plugged in while the babies are awake.

Our final stop on today’s tour is a book on top of the piano.  This is where, in the context of singing our morning prayers, we read the actual, real life, straight from scripture, Incarnation of Christ, Christmas story.  It’s a Must Hear.

This is a page from the wonderfully helpful resource called Bible Stories for Daily Prayer by Karl Fabrizius.  If you’re looking for a great question/answer/devotional format to read through the Bible with your family, and have Christ illuminated through all of scripture, you should definitely check it out.

So here, in our messy house littered with pages and pages of words, and in our even messier sin-littered hearts, comes The Word to dwell and leave us clean in His forgiveness.

This concludes our tour.  Please stop by the gift shop, and wrap a few items for me while you’re there.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation.  We plan on doing the same.



Why couldn’t I have gotten Skinny Genes instead?

22 Aug

We grew up with a chronic list maker.  For those of you who know our parents it’s quite evident that I am talking about our mom and not our dad.  I don’t think Dad has ever made or followed a list in his life.  Not intentionally, at least.

But Mom has lists for everything.  Everything.  And I can’t say that I blame her.  They are handy dandy little tools.  I don’t know how much they really help me accomplish, but they are fun, fun, fun to make.

And even though making lists is a very common, nearly trendy blog thing to do I want to be super clear that any list made on this blog is borne out of genetics – as if anyone would ever classify my actions as trendy.

1.  The boys have been begging to start school.  Simeon even picked a date – August 20.  Homeschooling is cool and flexible and all that, but I flatly refuse to start school on a Saturday.  No way.  No how.  And my plan all along has been to start on Aug. 30 when Jerry goes back to school.  But in order to take advantage of some of that pro-school momentum I caved and said we could start today.  I figured it would be kind of a soft start with the Grand Opening as scheduled next Tuesday.  Plus, it would give us a good chance to see how my proposed daily plan for the year was going to work.

2.  I quit school today.

3.  For the last five days Peter has been feverish, and/or rashy, and/or puking, and/or crying, and/or diarrheaing, and/or crabby.  Strike that last possible or.  It’s just an and.  He was diagnosed with a double ear infection and a probable mystery virus this afternoon.

4.  We’re trying to come up with some sort of system for the blog so you will know not only to expect a post on certain days, but also it’s general category.   Other than lots more of my sister, is there anything you would like to read more about?

5.  My OfficeMax gift card has not yet come.  I’m getting nervous.  Surely they didn’t just promise me the refund and then hang up the phone and say, “Ha!  We fooled you!”  No, they wouldn’t do that.  Right?  I am a total Nervous Nelly.

6.  I so, so, so want to enter in the MyGR6 competition, but can’t come up with anything clever and true and wonderful.  I do love this city, though.  Wait!  No.

7.  I’ve always wanted to do Baby Signs with my kids, but have never had the stick-to-it-iveness to carry through.  Cecilia has made one up on her own, though.  She claps when she wants to eat and when a meal is over.  My daughter.

8.  The boys are training for a marathon.  Okay, fine, it’s a kid’s marathon and they have two months to complete 25 miles, and then finish the final 1.2 miles of the actual Grand Rapids Marathon route on race day.   So far I think each of their miles has gotten subsequently slower.  My sons.

9.  The same genes that inspire list writing also create an internal need for the lists to have an odd numbers of items.  Well, that might be all my own special mutation.  My poor children.