Friday, September 2, 2011

2011-2012 School Year at a glance...

We are getting ready to start school in T-minus 4 days and counting!

Our school year will continue with most of the curriculum laid out in A Well-Trained Mind.This academic year I have Little Man in 2nd grade, Littlest Man in 1st grade (young at just-six, but so ready to be where he is!) and Little Miss Pink in preschool. I feel like I will need an extra arm, an extra brain, and 4 more hours of sleep per night to tackle the challenge of schooling three. But I know that, if I access it as I should, God has more than enough grace to cover my weaknesses!

Here is our school year at a glance as it looks on paper today:

For Littlest Man (1st Grade)
Saxon Math 1
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, finishing this as it is a LONG book with 200+ lessons
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, volume 1
The Complete Writer, volume 1 for Little Man when we finish Ordinary Parents phonics/reading
Zaner-Bloser 1 handwriting
Spelling Workout A 
McGuffey's Eclectic Reader for once a week read aloud

For Little Man (2nd Grade)
Saxon Math 2
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, volume 2
The Complete Writer, volume 2
Zaner-Bloser 2C handwriting, which introduces cursive mid-year
Spelling Workout B
McGuffey's Eclectic Reader for once a week read aloud

For Both Boys
Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, volume 2, Middle Ages
Blackline Maps from Knowledge Quest
Apologia Astronomy
Apologia Worldview Who Is God?
How to Use-Child Sized masterpieces for Art Appreciation
And I'm hoping to use this book for art, as well: Drawing With Children

For Little Miss Pink
I'm using this fabulous curriculum for preschool, Letter of the Week. I bought it as an e-book/PDF file set from an amazing homeschool mom blogger, Confessions of a Homeschooler. It is a bit labor intensive (putzy!), but I think she will love it.  The price is right and it covers everything and more I think my little girl needs to learn. She turned three in May, so we will likely stretch the curriculum out over 2 years, supplementing as necessary and desired.

Here is our schedule at a glance, or at least as it should be in an ideal, Excel spreadsheet world, linked here.

So there you have it! We start our new year on Tuesday. Any and all prayers would be appreciated for a grace-filled, patient, kind, loving, learning-filled school year!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2010-2011 School Year Review

Well, with our previous year of craziness, I can't exactly say that we have "finished" the school year. We still have 2 weeks of History to finish up at the start of this year. But I'm sticking a fork in '10-11 and calling it done.

We follow a classical education model as laid out in A Well-Trained Mind. The classical model, to me, makes the most sense and offers such a deep and wide wealth of knowledge. Each school year focuses on a historical time period and all of history is broken up into 4 sections. The four sections are repeated three times in the student's primary/secondary education, therefore solidifying the concepts as he progresses through grammar, rhetoric and logic phases of learning. Most of the literature is gleaned from the historical time period (e.g. The Odyssey during the Ancients, Beowulf during Middle Ages, etc.).

Here is what we did last year:

Saxon Math 1 for Little Man.
Kumon Numbers, Counting, and Misc. Math for Littlest Man

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind for Little Man's Grammar/Copywork
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading for Littlest Man

Spelling Workout A for Little Man 

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting for both boys

Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 1: Ancient History
Science: Animal Studies using this resource, Human Body studies using this book, and a little bit of Plant Studies using this one. We picked several topics out of each book and did further reading from the library and projects, too.

Music: Classical Music studies with these fabulous CDs.

Art: Lots of miscellaneous projects from various sources, including some great Usborne books.

We also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this history resource--The Usborne Internet-Linked History of the World. The boys cart this behemoth of a book all over the house and it has been taped together at least twice. They love it and it is fantastic.

So there you have it! Our year in a nutshell. All in all, we loved everything we used. I am continuing with almost everything this coming year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Travel Together Still

I will attempt to find the words to explain a major change that I have undertaken/undergone/experienced in the past, well, several months and even years. It would be even better to describe it as a change that happened without my realizing at all from childhood.

My faith life (I dislike that term, but cannot think of another to better express it) has been Christ-centered and wholly evangelical for all of my life. Praise be to God for blessing me with my loving parents who raised me in a Christian home.

I have, for years, been an adult who was active in my church, helping where I could and participating. I have read my Bible and tried my best to keep personal quiet time (less successfully as a young mom). I count Jesus Christ as my Savior and friend.

I wasn't looking for a change, but a change has found me. I wasn't looking for upheaval in my faith life (and thereby my social network and my children's lives, too), but it has come nonetheless. But God has been calling my lovely husband and I over the course of days, months, and even years to the Catholic church. And we could not ignore Him.

We have prayed countless hours, pored over the Bible, spoken with friends who have gone through the same, read many, many books (including The Catechism of the Catholic Churchthis church history tome, GK Chesterton, Thomas Howard's beautiful Evangelical is Not Enough, two books by Scott Hahn, some Richard John Neuhaus, and more) and spent hours and hours in discussion as a couple.
It started as a slow, gentle inkling that Chesterton describes in a lovely manner: The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. -Where All Roads Lead.

The gentle inkling slowly became a strong pull and eventually seemed inevitable. We would be Catholic. The Mother Church would be our home. It must be. 

We began to view the world with distinctly Catholic eyes, as if a curtain had been parted. Passages of scripture that I had read countless times to be sure seemed to leap off the pages: How had I not read it that way before? And eventually, How have I been away so long?  

It makes sense that Neuhaus would describe his conversion in an article entitled, "How I Became the Catholic I Was." I feel the same way, too. That I am going home to the Church that I have always been a part of, even when I knew it not.

It is an odd task to undertake, sharing the news that one has "gone Catholic." In this modern age of church shopping and jumping and changing, it seems that sharing such information is almost banal. And yet, I have longed to shout of this decision from the rooftops or wear an "I am (almost) Catholic!" t-shirt. I guess that blogging it quietly will have to do.

To my dear friends who already find their home in the Catholic church where I long to be, thank you for your quiet guidance, your loving welcome, your faithful prayers. I cannot wait to join you in the sacraments and share in the unspeakably beautiful full communion of the Church.

And though I am overjoyed at what awaits, I am simultaneously heartbroken to be leaving the weekly fellowship of the body of believers of our church of many years. Different than leaving to another evangelical church community, becoming Catholic seems to many like a permanent break-up of a relationship. Though I would beg my friends not to see it that way, I understand the root of the sentiment.  
I don't know exactly how to express my feelings on the matter or to give justice to the friendships I have formed, the bonds I have made at our lovely evangelical church. Richard John Neuhaus said it better than I ever could when he was received into full communion with the Church in 1990:

To those of you with whom I have traveled in the past, know that we travel together still. In the mystery of Christ and his Church nothing is lost, and the broken will be mended. If, as I am persuaded, my communion with Christ's Church is now the fuller, then it follows that my unity with all who are in Christ is now the stronger. We travel together still.”

To those of you reading this news for the first time, I would say it to you directly: We travel together still.

Neuhaus, who left the Lutheran church as a pastor for 30 years, also said in a statement:
I cannot express adequately my gratitude for all the goodness I have known in the Lutheran communion. There I was baptized, there I learned my prayers,  there I was introduced to Scripture and creed, there I was nurtured by Christ on Christ, there I came to know the utterly gratuitous love of God by which we live astonished. For my theological formation, for friendships beyond numbering,  for great battles fought, for mutual consolations in defeat, for companionship in ministry—for all this I give thanks. . . . there is nothing in that ministry that I would repudiate, except my many sins and shortcomings. My becoming a priest in the Roman Catholic Church will be the completion and right ordering  of what was begun all those years ago. Nothing that is good is rejected, all is fulfilled.

Though I am neither a Lutheran nor considering priesthood (obviously!), his words are the words I wish to share with you.  

 I look forward to beginning the lengthy learning process of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). I look forward to being a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I am grateful to God for His guidance, His leading, and His Church. I am so thankful to have undertaken this process in lockstep with my amazing husband whose spiritual guidance and leaning on the Lord have served as earthly leadership for 10 amazing years of marriage. I look forward to the next decade of our marriage and to what He has in store for our family.

Wow. If you made it this far, you deserve a medal. That's an awful lot of rambling. But I feel lighter having shared my heart with you. 

Bad, bad blogger.

When I consider all that has transpired in the previous year, I think I'm a little crazy for homeschooling my kids. We have moved, traveled, had a flooded house, moved out due to said flooded house, moved back in, and had all sorts of "life" in the in between times. I would be crazy for choosing to continue with this journey that is so exhausting and demanding.

And yet, it really isn't a choice for me. It is a calling from my heavenly Father and I can do nothing but follow His will. Did I pretend not to hear His call for a while? Um, yeah. Do I really resent this calling some days? Yes. And have I gone, but only like a toddler in a tantrum? Definitely.

Though the past year has definitely been tough and has added to my wrinkles (but I got BANGS to cover them up!), I would not trade it for any other year. This time spent at home with my kids learning with them and from them has been priceless. I would not trade it for a wrinkle-free forehead or all the money in the world. I learned so much about myself, about them, about God's goodness.

Watching my little man learn to read or seeing history come alive or snuggling while listening to "Beethoven Lives Upstairs"...all moments that made this calling worth every bit of challenge.

I may be a terrible blogger, but I think I'm a decent homeschool mom. I certainly have more books than money, more holds at the library than anyone in town, and more on my to-do list than I could ever accomplish in a day. So I will continue to be a terrible blogger, updating when I remember please forgive me (if there's even anyone reading this!)!

So...that's a tiny update. I will hop on again soon (promise!) to share what we did for school last year and what we'll be up to this year. I am so very excited to learn so much more this year---The Middle Ages and Chaucer and Beowulf and Shakespeare and War of the Roses and Astronomy....

Monday, December 6, 2010


Sometimes, I get too focused.

I'll be happily listening to my "Peaceful Holidays" station on Pandora, which I've calibrated to my liking perfectly. Simultaneously, I'm tidying the school mess and making lunch and emptying the dishwasher, while encouraging my daughter, Little Miss Pink, to express her artistic side with some watercolor.

And then I look up from all of that, and realize that she has expressed herself all over her cute little face.


Excuse the bad photo. I took it with my Droid, right before I told her to stop painting on her face.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shout it from the Rooftops!

Okay, so I shared that I have finally come to a jaw-dropping realization. I can't do it all.

Sounds a bit elementary, really. But it was a tough pill to swallow. But then a liberating one.

Really liberating.

Liberating in the exact way Kevin McAllister felt (I would imagine) when he finally decides he's not afraid of the "bad guys" anymore in Home Alone. 
image courtesy home alone (one of the best movies!)

I feel just like that. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I can't do it all! 
I said, "I CAN'T DO IT ALL!"


Go ahead, shout it out in your little corner of the world. It feels fantastic.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Amazing Revelation

 yikes. this is a keeping it real picture, proving that i can teach, but, on some days, i can't teach and cook and put on makeup. something's gotta give, and this day it was concealer & mascara. 

I can't do it all.

Simple, right?

But for a first-born, type-A personality, it's actually quite a difficult to accept and life-altering revelation.


With homeschooling, church commitments, family responsibilities, healthy eating, attempting to exercise, be a good friend, maintain my marriage, keep up (somewhat) with laundry....something's gotta give. Or a lot of somethings.

And little by little this fall, I have come to realize and accept that I just can't be everything to everyone and do everything I "think" or "feel" that I should. I have come to love even more the verse in Phillipians (4:13) that says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." Because that verse doesn't say "I can do EVERY thing..." but just ALL things. I think there's an important difference. I don't have to bake 7 varieties of Christmas cookie and make homemade laundry soap and conquer every dust bunny. I just have to do my best at what I do tackle. And, to be honest, these days its a lot fewer things.

Homeschooling is hard work. Mighty hard. But the fruits of my labor have demonstrated that I'd rather make choices about my time and do less, but do it better.

I can't do it all.

Sounds like a simple thing, but you could ask my best friends and they'd definitely realize it's a huge deal for this girl. This girl who, in fact, held her Little Man's birthday party in a BOWLING ALLEY. Yup. I can't do it all.

Thank the good Lord.

**Cute pictures courtesy of Gruman Photography