18 November 2013

Monday Musings

The weather outside is... warm, warm, warm.  We may have to close the windows and turn the a/c on again.

I am reading... DragonLight by Donita K. Paul.  I'm finding even though I love this series I am being slow about reading this particular book.  I think it's because I know it's the last in the series and I am not in a hurry for the magic to end.

I am thankful for... our furry children (pets).

In the kitchen... I am trying to regain my love for baking.  Going gluten-free really knocked the wind out of my sails in that respect.  Yesterday I made the German Apple Pancakes recipe at Civilized Caveman.  I subbed almond flour for the coconut flour and used a stoneware muffin pan because I don't have ramekins.  Mine turned out darker than the photo on the site - I mean apples sauteed in honey, nutmeg, and cinnamon are not going to be light in color - and they cooked way faster than the time given, but all was fine.  As far as taste, they were just okay in mine and my spouse's opinion, my youngest refused to even give them a try, and my teenager said they were nasty (his exact word).  I doubt I'll make them again as it was too time consuming, in my opinion, for something we all just didn't go crazy about.

A pet peeve... drivers who don't use their blinkers.  I really hate this.

I've been working on... cleaning and decluttering, decluttering and cleaning.  I really want to get everything out of my house that we just don't need.

I'm looking forward to... three days off homeschool for Thanksgiving break next week.

A favorite thing of mine... is silence.  Peaceful silence.  No tv, no music, no noise from outside other than birds chirping, squirrels chittering, and tree limbs and palm fronds blowing in the breeze. 

I'm delighted by...having found a drawing book my teen isn't complaining about reading.  There will be a future post about our adventures in "Drawing 1" this year.

A thought... I really wish my children got along with one another better.  The arguing, fussing, name calling, picking at one another, etc. breaks my heart.  I'm an only child though, so I've never been in their shoes.

A goal... is to try the 30 day plank challenge I've seen floating around online.  I injured my deltoid muscle a few weeks ago - my second taekwon-do injury - but I believe it's healed well enough now for me to give this a go.

An inspirational quote... Always laugh when you can.  It is cheap medicine. ~Lord Byron

A photo... 

 Taken in the rookery at Gatorland

15 November 2013

Substitute Experiments ... It's Okay!

Don't have the supplies you need on hand?  Tight budget?  It's okay to substitute experiments ... really! 

I found myself in this very predicament this week.  Specifically, experiment 7.1 in Apologia Biology (involving extracting DNA from split peas) calls for meat tenderizer.  Guess what I didn't have on hand because it's something I don't use?  You got it - meat tenderizer.  Rather than go out and spend money on something I won't use again, I subbed the experiment.  I had my son extract DNA from a banana instead.

Straining the mixture

Waiting for the liquid to drip through (the glass is 'foggy' due to hot water being used)

Waiting for the DNA layer to clump between the banana liquid and rubbing alcohol

Stirring, stirring, stirring

DNA!  You can't see it in the photo, but I promise it's there.

There are a variety of sites with instructions for this particular experiment online.  I used the one from Scientific American.  It's easy, doesn't require difficult or expensive supplies, and didn't require a lot of prep work or time.

11 November 2013

Monday Musings

The weather outside is... bright and sunny with a slight breeze.

I am reading... DragonLight by Donita K. Paul (last in the series)

I am thankful for... the brave and heroic men (including my hubby) and women who have and are serving our country.  THANK YOU!!!!!  You know freedom isn't truly free.  Your service and sacrifice is deeply appreciated.

In the kitchen... menu planning needs to be done!  I am the worst about this.

A pet peeve... people who don't keep their word.

I've been working on... trying to figure out which curricula I'll be using for each subject with my high schooler next year for 10th grade.  I know, I know ... it's awfully early to be concerned with that, but $$ is tight and I need to make sure I'll have enough funds set aside by late next spring to make the necessary purchases.

I'm looking forward to... not having to go anywhere today. 

A favorite thing of mine... Thousand Foot Krutch's Welcome to the Masquerade cd. Love it!

I'm delighted by... finding organic extra virgin coconut oil at BJ's (wholesale club like Sam's and Costco) even cheaper than another decently priced source I'd been purchasing from.

A thought... my spouse and I are wrestling with many feelings about our church, especially after yesterday's sermon.  It would have been fine as part of a special marriage seminar for couples only, but I'm not at all happy with some of the things that were said and presented (and I'm far from a prude). I'm also very unhappy that pre-teens and teens had to be sent out of the service because they weren't of age to hear much of what was stated and the message was hurtful to others in attendance.  Add to that the sting of them not even bothering to recognize the current and former military members in honor of today being Veteran's Day ... ouch! This is just the latest in a continual string of dislikes we have with this church.  It feels as though we'll never find one that fits or feels like "home."

A goal... to go as paleo as possible.  I don't foresee being completely paleo.  I mean, no beans?  No peas?  No peanuts?  No rice?  Ack!  However, with my youngest's dairy issues of late it seems the way to go from that standpoint.  It's going to be a tough road.

An inspirational quote... Only dead fish go with the flow. ~Unknown

A photo... 

 Lion Country Safari

07 November 2013

High School: English 1 (Grammar and Vocabulary)

As I've mentioned previously, I homeschool through my state's option of being registered with an umbrella school.  The umbrella school I use does have requirements as far as high school goes in regard to English credits.  Four credits must be earned and each year must consist of writing/composition, literature, grammar, and vocabulary (with a heavy emphasis on the first two components).

We made the switch to IEW for writing/composition last school year in the middle of 8th grade, and I have been so impressed (not to mention deliriously happy) that I chose to go with Fix-It! for grammar.  Specifically, my son is doing The Little Mermaid ... yeah, he wasn't overly thrilled when I made that announcement on the first day of this homeschool year, however, he's doing wonderfully with the program and has commented time and again how much more he is enjoying this than anything we've ever used before.  Although each Fix-It! lesson does require the student to define specific vocabulary words, I wanted something more in-depth and opted to use an additional resource to cover that need.

For vocabulary I was honestly at a loss when planning for this year back in the spring.  Throughout the years we've used probably three different vocabulary curricula, none of which were met with much enthusiasm.  This year my son is working his way through Vocabulary for the High School Student.  He does a short lesson daily and loves the book.  I mean really loves the book, as in he is finding it highly amusing to work the vocabulary into our conversations and then proudly announces to me with much laughter which words were from his recent lessons.  The book is lengthy enough that it will take him through a significant portion of 10th grade as well.

04 November 2013

Monday Musings

The weather outside is... windy, dull, and extremely overcast.

I am reading... DragonFire by Donita K. Paul - almost finished!

I am thankful for... my spouse spotting a water moccasin (venomous) that was blending in very well with its surroundings as we were traipsing across part of our yard yesterday.  We've had way too many of them in the yard this year.

In the kitchen... leftover homemade vegetable soup awaits.  My spouse made a huge batch in the slow cooker yesterday using odds and ends of leftover veggies from meals we've frozen. 

A pet peeve... neighbors who blare music too loudly.  Seriously, they don't bother to think that it might disturb someone else???  It was thumping so badly yesterday while I was washing dishes that I had to close the windows and turn on some music of my own.  No, that didn't even drown it out.  *sigh*

I've been working on... a new budget.  Times are tough and business is slow.  My spouse is going to have to start paying himself weekly instead of bi-weekly.  I'm not happy about it - I liked my budgeting system the way it was, but it's a necessary change right now.  Part of the fun of being a one-income, self-employed family.

I'm looking forward to... watching the remainder of a season of Doctor Who on dvd (from the library) the rest of this week.  We don't have BBC America or Netflix, so I'm working my way through the episodes as fast as I am able to get the dvd's from my library system.  Some seasons have a massive wait list, and others are just sitting there on the shelf for the taking.  Odd.

A favorite thing of mine... Merry Hempsters vegan hemp lip balm.  I developed an allergy/intolerance to beeswax a few years ago (it makes my lips and eyes swell), so this lip balm is awesome.

A thought... I strongly dislike the time change.  Darkness so early in the evening is downright depressing.

A goal... is to drink more water.  I know better, but I far too often reach for the oj, chocolate almond milk, or cranberry juice instead.

An inspirational quote... There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ~Nelson Mandela

A photo...

Observing onion cells (Apologia Biology, module #6)

31 October 2013

More Apologia Biology Supplements

I mentioned the things my 9th grader is doing to make Apologia Biology an honors course here, however, some things he's doing for Module #6 (The Cell) aren't able to be pinned and don't show up on my Pinterest boards linked in that post.

Amazingly, the zoology coloring book he's using does not have a coloring plate in it for an animal cell.  I found one online at Biology Corner - the worksheet is here and an answer key is here - that doesn't match up identically with the terminology used in Apologia Biology, but it's close enough.

Other fun extras for this module are Explore A Cell, The Virtual Cell (a huge hit with my son), and an online plant cell matching exercise.

28 October 2013

Monday Musings

The weather outside is... sunny and warm with a slight breeze.  The windows are open, which additionally thrills my heart because it means a savings on the electric bill!

I am reading... DragonFire by Donita K. Paul.  I am absolutely loving this series and wish I had the time to just sit down and read for hours on end.

I am thankful for... healing and restoration of a relationship that's been less than stellar for way too long.

In the kitchen... I whipped up three batches of french toast for my gluten-free, dairy-free kiddo and am looking forward to tonight's dinner of baked flounder, couscous (cooked in veggie broth), and roasted zucchini.  Yum!

I'm delighted by... the discovery of a new-to-me blog called Delighted Momma (see my sidebar for a link).  She has some amazing looking paleo recipes that have me re-inspired in the kitchen.

A favorite thing of mine... E.L.F.'s Glam Bam nail polish trio.  I've never been one to really wear nail polish on my fingernails, but I do love nail polish on the toesies.  Due to my discomfort level with various ingredients, I haven't worn any nail polish at all in years.  Years!  I stumbled upon this set at my local Marshalls store and could no longer hold out once I read it is formaldehyde-free, DPB-free, and toluene-free - plus it was only $2.99!  Paired up with some Sally Hansen base and top coat, which is also free of the aforementioned ingredients, I am feeling all girly again.

A photo...

 Are you sure I can't keep it???

24 October 2013

French Toast ... Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free

Another change in the road ... dairy-free.  I've suspected my youngest child has an issue with dairy, and recent tummy woes have confirmed those suspicions.  I have one unhappy kiddo on my hands.  This is the kid who thinks Rumiano organic cheese is the best thing in the entire world and no other food group exists. *sigh*

He has been requesting french toast for breakfast to replace his usual dairy loaded meal.  This is a quick and easy way for me to honor that request...

2 large organic eggs
1/2 cup orange juice (I use Uncle Matt's organic, pulp-free)
1/2 tsp. organic ground cinnamon
Gluten-free bread (I use Rudi's Original gf bread)

Whisk the first 3 ingredients together in a shallow bowl or dish, coat the bread slices thoroughly on each side, and cook over medium-low heat until both sides are golden (the cinnamon makes it look sort of "burnt" rather than truly golden).  I can't put butter in the skillet, so I just pre-heat my stainless steel skillet and any sticking is minimal.  Serve with organic maple syrup.

My kiddo who is not gluten-free enjoys this same recipe using Rudi's organic sourdough bread.  Win-win!

14 October 2013

Homeschool High School: 1st Quarter Reading List

With nine weeks under our belt in our homeschool high school journey, I thought I'd share my 9th grader's reading/literature list thusfar...

~ The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (summer assignment)
~ The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (summer assignment)
~ Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Teaching the Classics)
~ The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry (Teaching the Classics)
~ After Twenty Years by O. Henry (Teaching the Classics)
~ The Cop and the Anthem by O. Henry (Teaching the Classics)
~ The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (free reading selection)
~ The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (Windows to the World)
~ The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell (Windows to the World)
~ Marginalia by Billy Collins (Windows to the World)
~ How to Mark a Book by Mortimer J. Adler (Windows to the World)
~ The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton (Windows to the World)
~ The Lamb by William Blake (Windows to the World)

The favorites by far were The Outsiders (plus the movie from the 80's was a huge hit), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Time Machine (my son happened upon the classic movie on television one night and happily sat and watched), and The Most Dangerous Game.

The least favorites were all the O. Henry selections.  These just did not appeal to my son at all, and that's okay.

03 October 2013

Insightful wisdom

I'm currently reading DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul and came across this extremely insightful passage a couple of nights ago.......

Toopka sighed.  "That seems wrong - to let a gray place make your insides gray too."  She rolled over on the bed, propping her chin on her fists.  "And I think that the gray insides are too sad to try to make the gray outside any different.  So the gray outside stays the same or gets grayer, and the gray insides get grayer too, and pretty soon there's no hope for anything bright and pretty."

This resonated deep within me because I understand it all too well.  Sometimes I feel as though I'm at the point of being too far into the depths to ever have hope of reaching the surface again.  I realized I've known so much hurt and pain in my life that instead of running to God and clinging to Him I do the opposite.  I get angry with Him and turn away.  I don't know at this point if I even know how to run to and cling to Him.  Scary.

01 October 2013

Allow more time than you think you'll need...

One thing I'm learning quickly now that my oldest is on week 8 of our homeschool high school journey is I should have allowed for much more time on my lesson plans whenever there is a biology experiment (or more than one) on tap for the day.  Even though we've used Apologia science materials from the start, experiments are taking much longer this year than ever before.  Why?  Well, admittedly *I'm* finding it all quite fascinating, so I take look after look after look under the microscope.  My 2nd grader has been enthused about every experiment thusfar, so he takes time observing and drawing, observing and drawing, and observing and drawing.  Most importantly, my 9th grader has really taken his time with the microscope observations and the related drawings in his lab book.  What I thought would take maybe 1 hour ends up taking 2 to 3 hours instead.  Thankfully it's been fairly easy to make adjustments in my lesson plans and I'll be better prepared for this adventure the second time around.

13 September 2013

Making Apologia Biology an Honors Course

I know some homeschoolers poo-poo the notion of doing "honors" courses in high school or just don't care, however, I'm on the side of the fence that does care.


First, some colleges do in fact give extra weight for honors high school courses when considering an application for admission.  Take a look at the application/admission requirements page of any college's website and it will state such if they do.  Some of the colleges my high schooler is considering do give the extra weight toward a high school GPA, so that is one reason I have him doing honors level work in some courses.  Second, I feel it can only benefit the student, especially if he/she is considering a college major related to that subject.

My high schooler is intending to major in a biological sciences field, so it only makes sense to me to have him complete an honors course in biology this year (ninth grade).

But what makes a course an "honors" course?  Here is where you will find a variety of opinions, and you know what? ... that's okay.

We are using Apologia Biology (2nd edition) along with the companion multimedia cd as my son's biology curriculum.  On its own, could it be considered an honors course?  That's left to your own interpretation.  In my opinion, no.  However, I personally don't feel there is any one right way to add to the text to bring it up a notch.  One opinion on the matter was discussed at a high school homeschool seminar I attended over a year ago.  The author of a book about homeschooling high school stated during that seminar the only way to make Apologia Biology an honors course was to do a complete science fair project in addition to completing the text in full.  Now while I agree every bit of the text should be covered (and that means doing all the experiments and dissections), I do not agree a science fair project added into the mix is the only means of making the course worthy of an honors designation.  That's the beauty of homeschooling.  We're all entitled to our opinions and interpretations!  Do what you feel is right in your heart.  You know your child and his/her interests, passions, and goals better than anyone.

So, what am I doing to make the course worthy of an honors designation?  Several things.

In addition to the companion multimedia cd, YouTube is a fantastic resource for additional videos to use with each module.  I personally have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to biology videos to help me keep track of what I intend to use with each module over the course of our homeschool year.  (As of the date of this posting, I have not finished lesson planning so the board is not complete.)  Extra reading (online biographies, articles, books - both fiction and nonfiction, etc.), extra experiments, additional projects, watching related films and documentaries, viewing additional dissections available online (photos like those at Biology Corner or videos), and so on certainly count as they help to enrich the text.  I have a couple of Pinterest boards set up for those types of things here and here.  (The latter is a hodge-podge of things and contains a lot of general ideas for expanding the curriculum.)

I am also having my son complete many (many!) of the plates/pages from The Zoology Coloring Book and The Botany Coloring Book.

Both are excellent and provide additional details and information beyond the Apologia text.

Just my 2¢ on the matter.

06 August 2013

Anyone have a magical fairy wand I can borrow?

One ninth grader, one second grader, dishes (by hand), laundry, many more homeschool lesson plans to go for the upcoming year, two dogs, two cats, responsible for paying the bills, running errands, grocery shopping, taekwon-do lessons, two volunteer "jobs" for my teen, continuing with a reading program at the library for my youngest, being the chauffeur, no friends, no family, a nonexistent marriage, feeling shut out of ministry at church, surrounded by clutter in a small house, and so much more my head is a swirling jumble.


I need balance.  It's what I fear I will not find but so desperately need.

Anyone have a magical fairy wand I can borrow?

23 May 2013

Summer Fun on a Tight Budget

Summer break arrived about a week ago at my house, and I'm already hearing how bored both my boys are.  My family has had a rough year financially, so a vacation is definitely out of the question.  I've been exploring ideas from dozens upon dozens of "summer bucket lists" and "kids' summer fun" lists available online to come up with my own list that appeals to my children (not an easy feat with one teenager and one early elementary child).  We may not get to all of them, and that's fine.  The important thing is to have fun and ENJOY.  Some of these ideas may seem a bit 'juvenile' for a teen boy, but rest assured he likes to have fun and be silly as much as his younger brother.

1.) Visit an aquarium on free admission day.
2.) Visit a nearby education center on free admission day.
3.) Try a new cookie recipe.
4.) Try a new muffin recipe.
5.) Try a new pancake recipe.
6.) Try a new smoothie recipe.
7.) Juice bottle bowling.
8.) Miniature golf.
9.) Water balloon fight.
10.) Go on a picnic.
11.) Get squirted with the water hose.
12.) Go to a farmers market.
13.) Make a fort.
14.) Read books inside the fort.
15.) Make seedling pots out of tp and paper towel tubes for fall planting.
16.) Listen to an audiobook.
17.) Make a creation out of recyclables.
18.) Make a sandcastle.
19.) Make lemonade.
20.) Make orange creamsicle popsicles.
21.) Have a family 4th of July party.
22.) Movie night with popcorn.
23.) Play a board game.
24.) Go to a "new to us" beach.
25.) Make a seashell craft.
26.) Make homemade bubbles.
27.) Make and fly paper airplanes.
28.) Go thrift store shopping.
29.) Go to a rummage/yard sale.
30.) Find shapes in clouds.
31.) Play in the rain.
32.) Make a birdfeeder.
33.) See a movie.
34.) Watergun fight.  (Done)
35.) Make nature art.
36.) Go out to lunch.
37.) Try a new candy recipe.
38.) Try a new biscuit recipe.
39.) Make paint chip art.
40.) Cut a watermelon with cookie cutters.
41.) Play charades.
42.) Learn how to tie different types of knots.
43.) Play "I Spy".
44.) Hula hoop contest.
45.) Make sidewalk chalk.
46.) Have a family luau dinner.
47.) Cardboard sledding.
48.) Attend a free outdoor concert or festival.
49.) Play bingo.
50.) Visit a nearby nature center.
51.) Squirt bottle water fight.
52.) Do a random act of kindness.
53.) Scavenger hunt.
54.) Play balloon tennis.
55.) Make and fly a kite.
56.) Make origami.
57.) Skip rocks on our pond.
58.) Play paper plate ring toss.
59.) Have a family Summer Solstice party.
60.) Make oyster mats.
61.) Laser show or movie at the planetarium.
62.) Minor league baseball game.
63.) Learn how to play chess.
64.) Wii bowling tournament.
65.) Visit a nearby wildlife sanctuary.
66.) Play tic tac toe with nature items.
67.) Go for a drive with no particular destination in mind.
68.) Make finger paints.
69.) Make handprint art.
70.) Obstacle course in the yard.
71.) Make shadow puppets.
72.) Play on our town's new playground.
73.) Do a 1000-piece puzzle.
74.) Build an archery target.
75.) Practice archery.
76.) Make sunbaked recycled crayons.
77.) Make a foil river in the yard.
78.) Dancing raisin experiment.
79.) Water balloon target practice.
80.) Driveway silly drawing photos.
81.) Explore a "new to us" city.
82.) Go to the free splash pad. (Done)
83.) Make ice chalk.
84.) Camping in the living room.
85.) Target practice with Nerf guns.
86.) Pipe ball lawn game.
87.) Play on Freerice.com
88.) Sponge finger painting.
89.) Read Christmas Jars by Jason Wright.
90.) Write messages on stones with permanent marker and leave in random places for people to find.
91.) Minute To Win It games.
92.) Draw faces on balloons.
93.) Family movie night in our pj's complete with blankets and pillows.
94.) Sumo wrestling with pillows stuffed in shirts.
95.) Make liquid sidewalk chalk.
96.) Watch as many seasons of Doctor Who as possible.
97.) $3 admission day at the zoo. (Done)
98.) Make our own paint.
99.) Potato stamps.

edited to add.......

100.) Enjoy watching baby birds learn to fly.  (Done)
101.) Print/Make some items to have ready to send to our Compassion child in the coming months.
102.) Christmas in July party.

01 April 2013

Homeschool High School is Creeping Up Way Too Fast - Grade 9 Plans

Homeschool high school ..... those three words don't seem all that scary until the actual event is staring you in the face and creeping closer with each passing day.  My oldest will be a 9th grader this fall.  How did that happen???

I'm finding the whole process of attempting to get prepared quite stressful.  One of homeschool options in my state is registering with an umbrella school.  We've gone that route from the start for a variety of reasons.  Simply put, it made the most sense for our family.  Now as we are about to hit homeschool high school head on, I am required by my umbrella school to submit an entire 4-year high school plan (courses, credits earned, and which years/semesters these courses will be taken) by the end of this year.  I feel like a deer in the headlights.  It's a daunting, overwhelming task.  Thankfully the plan can be revised as needed throughout high school, but that makes the task no less paralyzing.  I am literally on about "plan R" at this point - I've written and scrapped that many 4-year plans.  I gave my son a say in some of the courses he wanted to complete during high school, but was warned on different forums that those classes were too easy and would be frowned upon by colleges.  At the same time, I must abide by our umbrella school's requirements which are in line (mostly) with the state public school graduation requirements.  These are.....

- 4 credits in English (these courses must be comprised of composition, grammar, literature, and vocabulary, with the composition and literature portion being emphasized as "strong in composition and literature")

- 4 credits in Math (Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 are required)

- 3 credits in Science (Biology, a choice of Chemistry or Physics, and one equally rigorous to Chemistry or Physics are required)

- 3 credits in Social Science (1 credit in U.S. History, 1 credit in World History, 1/2 credit in  U.S. Govt., and 1/2 credit in Economics are required)

- 2 credits in World Language (not required for graduation, but required for college admission and a specific state scholarship)

- 1 credit in Fine Arts

- 1 credit in Physical Education and Health (1/2 credit for each)

- 8 credits of Electives (and there are some specifics I must adhere to in this category ... no more than a total of 8 credits for any elective, no more than a total of 4 credits for remedial or compensatory subjects, no more than a total of 3 credits in practical home economics)

Intimidating, yes???

In addition, 1 credit equals 135 logged hours and 1/2 credit equals 70 logged hours (in an unstructured curriculum).


As part of planning my son's tentative 4-year plan, I have looked up admission requirements for various colleges throughout our state.  What a difference!  Most are the same, but some require 4 years of foreign language, one does weight grades in admission consideration, and others have very specific requirements based upon intended major.  It's a lot to remember.  It's a lot to take in.  It's a lot to consider when making a high school plan of action.

Of course one of the colleges in which my son has expressed an interest is the one that does weight grades.  You guessed it ... our umbrella school has specifics about what can and cannot be an "honors" course for high school.  What counts?  Any college level course, any AP course or CLEP credits, any foreign language above level 2, any course designated as honors by the curriculum, or any course designated honors on my state's DOE website.

It gets better.  My son intends to be a biology major (his desire is to work with animals in a zookeeper or sanctuary capacity).  Biology is one of those majors that does have specific admission requirements at various colleges, so we've had to cross a few possibilities off the list because we more than likely will not make it through all the maths required.  (As it stands, we'll make it through pre-calc but not trigonometry.)

Is your head swirling yet just from reading this?  I believe all this explains why my head never seems to stop swirling!

So, are you ready for our 9th grade plans?  This is the current plan of action (and I really, really, really hope I do not have to modify it yet again).......

- Honors English 1 (1 credit)
- Honors Biology 1 with Lab (1 credit)
- Algebra 1 (1 credit ) (I really would like to do this as Honors, but I haven't convinced my son yet)
- World Cultural Geography (1 credit - counts toward Electives)
- Spanish 1 (1 credit - counts toward Electives)
- Taekwon-do (1 credit - 1/2 credit counts toward the P.E. requirement and the other 1/2 credit counts toward Electives)
- Drawing 1 (1 credit - counts as the required Fine Arts credit)

Total: 7 credits

15 January 2013

Piecing Together The Puzzle

Homeschool high school.  Those are three pretty scary words when put all together.  And yet in the midst of its clutches is where I find myself ... planning a course of action, questioning myself, thinking I had it figured out only to discover I didn't have a clue.

The situation in which I find myself is not unlike others who have traveled this path and are still on the journey.  I use the umbrella school option offered by my state because it's what has always made the most sense for my family.  Every umbrella school is different.  The one we use has undergone some revamping the last couple of years.  One change is that I must provide them with a list of every course my soon-to-be high schooler will study throughout all four years of high school and during which year.  Planning out all four years is a daunting task!  I'll be honest ... at first I was taken aback and even quite irritated that I must do such a thing.  Now I view it as a good thing.  It's no less stressful, but I've concluded the required structure of the situation is what I/we need.  (I know more relaxed homeschoolers will disagree, and that's fine.  That's one of the wonderful things in life - we're all unique and have our own thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.) 

I find it somewhat amusing that just before Christmas last year I cleared out over 200 books from our home library.  Many were children's books my kids have outgrown, but every member of the family chipped in and did his/her own weeding out.  I truly had a plan to bring no more "clutter" into my home.  But I'm a homeschooler.  I should have known that plan was doomed from the start.

Recently while my oldest was attending his weekly youth group meeting, I found myself wandering through Barnes & Noble.  I felt a nudge in my heart that's where I should go to spend my wee bit of quiet time that evening.  The above photo shows what happened.  I didn't mean to do it, but am glad I did!  I believe that nudge on my heart was God directing me to some wonderful bargains we will use during our high school journey.

I had been looking at The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens for my oldest because he is very much in that wonky young teenager phase where I feel as though the sweet, driven boy I used to know is no longer inhabiting his body.  I've been told it's a phase he'll (hopefully) outgrow soon.  I thought this would be helpful for him and even put it on my Goodreads list recently.  I was thrilled to find it way cheaper than other places I had been looking, plus I received an additional 25% off using my B&N educator card.  I don't know if my teen will dive into The Bare Bones Bible Handbook For Teens or save it for our "Introduction To The Bible 1" class I tentatively have on his list of high school courses, but it looks fantastic.  The Daily Dose of Knowledge Bible is absolutely magnificent.  I'm currently reading my way through (at a pace of more than a dose a day because I'm enjoying it so much), and it would make an additional great "textbook" for the aforementioned high school class.  Both of those books were also a great price and qualified for my 25% educator discount.  The remainder of the books are classics we did not already own.  They were on sale 50% off, so that was motivation enough for me.  They were cheaper than the paperback versions, much more pleasing to hold in the hands, and the font size is better for someone of my mature years (LOL).  The Darwin book is honestly something I never thought I would allow through my front door, however, in my recent online searching of how to turn Apologia Biology an honors course I discovered and determined it really is a necessary evil.  My oldest's current career plans will mean he will have to major in biology or something very similar in college.  Going ahead and including Darwin in his high school studies will help prepare him for what he will find himself faced with during college courses.

04 January 2013

Cleaning House ... A New Adventure

I've tried for years to get my kids to do chores and keep their rooms clean.  No amount of money promised, begging, pleading, or threat-making has resulted in any success.

Back in November I read Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma.  While I didn't agree with the entire book, nor could I financially afford to do as the author did in her experiment, I did gain quite a bit of insight into all the skills I really need to be equipping my children with (and thought of plenty more not mentioned in the book).  I tried desperately to get my own version of the experiment underway at the beginning of December, but my troops remained unmotivated and I had too much on my plate at the time put up much of a fight.  I did make it clear, however, that January 1st marked the start of our adventure with the methodology described in Cleaning House.

For this month - January - I am focusing on my kids keeping their rooms clean and orderly, keeping their belongings picked up from around the house daily, and making their beds each morning.  Just as in the experiment in the book, my kids have the ability to earn, or lose, a set amount of money/allowance each day based upon their performance.  As an added twist, since it's my house and I am certainly entitled to make my own rules, my kids must also be polite to one another or they risk losing their allowance for the day.  They found out on day one I meant business with this rule.  When our homeschool year begins again in a few days after the close of our winter break, they must also have all their work completed for the week before the next week begins or they lose a set amount of their allowance that has been earned.  That may seem unfair or harsh, but it's a necessary evil with my teen at this point.

In the fury of getting their rooms cleaned up and prepared for the beginning of this month - and believe me, that was quite the undertaking with the state of how things were - my youngest constructed this "desk" in his room.......

He declared he wanted a place where he can go draw without having to do so on the dining room table or spread out on the floor somewhere, so he made his own using one of his toy castles, a 3-drawer storage unit, and a shelf that was removed long ago from a piece of our furniture.  He equipped himself with pencils (held in an empty peanut butter jar), paper, and a storage box full of colored pencils.  I'm proud of his ingenuity!

So far, so good with this experiment.  We'll see where it leads.