Friday, January 29, 2016

Owen Enters 4th Grade- Curriculum Choices

Yesterday Owen started 4th grade.

For some reason this seemed like an incredibly large milestone, especially coupled with his birthday coming up.  He just seems so old.  

He took one look at his Math book, saw that each lesson had gone from 2 pages to 3 and asked if he had to do that third page....Overachiever I am raising.

We've changed up his curriculum a little bit.  He still does Horizons Math level 4

This is typically considered a harder, faster paced math compared to other curriculum.  It's of the spiral approach type.

For Language Arts we are going to be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature the Orange book.  This is new for us.

It does all of your language arts items (vocab, grammar, etc.) in once curriculum using age appropriate literature like the Boxcar Children.  I have several people with boys who recommended this for Owen.  He was using Rod and Staff and it just wasn't going to cut it for him another year.

For reading we are using All About Reading Level 3

This is not a cheap curriculum.  About $120 per level.  But it works fantastic. Owen was a reluctant reader as well as a little bit behind for the longest time and felt like he couldn't do it at all thanks to some negative things he experienced at public school.  He's come a long way with this and I would say is at the appropriate reading level for his grade.

Spelling.  Owen is a terrible speller.  He'll memorize the words for the test and then forget how to spell them the next week.  His language arts program has spelling but we are also supplementing with Spectrum Spelling level 3.  We buy it at Barnes and Noble.

For Science we love anything by Apologia.  He has decided to do Flying Creatures of the 5th day as soon as we finish up Astronomy in the next 2 weeks.

This is pretty relaxed.  I basically just read it out loud to him and any of the littles who want to listen. Ava will often stop her school to listen as well.  I don't require him to do anything with science.  We did try their notebooking journals, but it was harder when he was younger and couldn't spell.  It may be worth it to try again.

We do Mystery of History at lunch time.  I read the lessons out loud to all of the kids and they ask questions.  Easy and basic.  Again, at this level, I don't require anything of him.  We are on book two- the Early Church and the Middle Ages.

He also is finishing up the 50 states curriculum we are using with just the west coast states to go.  We use the curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler but modify quite a bit.  She has a lot of stuff in it and I feel like sometimes it's busy work.

He is also doing A Reason for Handwriting Level C which is cursive.  This is their first book for cursive and there is a second.  I don't know if we will do the second one or move onto typing.  not too many people use cursive outside of my generation, and I haven't decided if I want to spend more time on it or not.

So that's his curriculum for the next go round until we determine something doesn't work or he moves onto the next level.

Monday, January 25, 2016

What It Cost Us To Home School in 2015

I just got our tax info. straightened and ready for our upcoming appt.  In our state, you can deduct school expenses up to a certain amount per child.

I think we've all faced "intaxication" in one way or another!:
Funny, and sadly true.

The grand total (slightly misleading, I'll explain in a minute) was $1,416.56.  Not cheap, but not crazy expensive either.  That was 4 kids, one 8/9th grader, one 3rd grader and 2 Kindergartners.

I say that it's slightly misleading because we school year-round, so our kids are moving in and out of grades differently.  We may have to buy 2 math programs for one child in one year, which can up the cost quite a bit.  Overall, I would say that the above number is pretty accurate, but would give a couple hundred dollars to allow for kids moving quicker through programs, or for trying something and then stopping that curriculum.

We also are an "eclectic" homeschooling family, which means I obsessively research curriculum and pick what I want for my kids.  We don't follow a pre-boxed kit based on grade level.  They can definitely be handy because you don't have to research anything and it's all there for your student, but it doesn't allow the freedom for your kids to move at their level.  Some premade kits can be quite expensive, but it's all in what you want.  If you have more money than time and worry about missing something that needs to be taught, then those kits are a lifesaver.

Research shows that the average homeschool family will spend $900 per year per child on school. This seems extremely high to me.  We are nowhere near that amount, and I don't anticipate that we ever will be.

Could we do it for less?  For sure.  For example, when we buy books for literature (if we're not using the libraries) I will by a nicer version to build up our home library.  It's still tax-deductible and I'd rather have a prettier hard-cover than a cheap paperback that might not make it through all my kids.

We could also buy more non-consumable curriculum.  But my 2 kindergartners love their worksheets and ripping them out and having me grade them.  So it's worth it to me to buy those instead of something that they would write answers in a notebook.

And just for fun because I couldn't resist.

First day of Homeschool:    Proud to say that I was home-schooled for quite some time; and while I may be socially awkward, at least I can read and write properly. Hahaha!:  

Friday, January 22, 2016

After Alice

I was so excited when I saw the book After Alice, written by the author of Wicked.  I first glimpsed it at Costco and quickly got on to my library's waiting list.

I loved Alice in Wonderland when I was a kid, and so the idea of the story about Ada, briefly mentioned in Alice, following her down the rabbit hole intrigued me.  And apparently a whole slew of others because I had to wait quite a bit for it.

Unfortunately, I didn't even finish it.  Slow to start, slow to move and filled with all sorts of thoughts on Victorian England, Darwin, and a series of random other things, I put it down after only page 70, about 25% of the way in.

Typically, I don't like to not finish books.  But it's just not worth it in my opinion anymore.  Life is too short to finish books that aren't good.  I did, however, hop on to Amazon and read some of the reviews in case I was being supremely unfair by quitting it early, but found that many others echoed my thoughts- boring.  My advice, skip it.

And on another sort of related note, when I was in fifth grade I remember reading a book that was leather bound with gold writing on the cover.  I couldn't remember much about the story other than that a little girl peered into a large mirror and saw the room that she was in was all backwards.  And that was it.  For just about 20 years I tried to remember what it was about.  I even asked a librarian and she didn't know based on my tiny description.

Then later I picked up a copy of Alice and Wonderland which also had Through the Looking Glass in it, and there it was, the story that I had thought about for all those years.  It was Through the Looking Glass that I had read as a child, (and really, any good librarian should have known it even from my very brief description of what I could remember!)

I managed to even find a copy of the book that I had read as a child.

Only $40 used on Amazon!  I think I'll pass, but it was so fun to see it again after all these years, looking mostly as I remembered it so vaguely.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Peach Calzones

We're in a breakfast rut.

And we've read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder where every meal is a ginormous feast which causes my kids to ask why they don't get three different types of pies for breakfast?

I've been using this recipe for homemade pizza dough (it's fast, only 10 minutes until the dough is ready), and decided to make peach calzones for breakfast.

I loosely followed this recipe for peach pies.  I didn't have lemon curd but I think that would have tasted awesome.  My recipe is below the pics.

Before they bake.

 Happy children.  Ava didn't want her picture taken...


Peach Calzones

1-2 cans of peaches, depending how you fill
3 T sugar (for one can, double for two cans of peaches)
pizza dough
1 egg, beaten with 1 T. cold water

drain peaches, add sugar and cornstarch to peaches in a bowl.  Rip off small chunks of your pizza dough and roll into a very flat circle on lightly floured surface.  Add peach mixture into middle. Fold dough up and over peaches, wet inside of dough on one side with water and push sides together to create seal.  Place calzones on baking pan with parchment paper.  Brush with egg mixture, with very sharp knife make 3 slits to vent steam.  Bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes until golden on top.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Super easy and way better than oatmeal.

Monday, January 18, 2016

New...To Us

Ava and I went back to our hold hometown to visit some friends who also moved recently.  It was fun and sad all at the same time.  We decided to do a little thrift store shopping while we were there.

This is totally unidentifiable.  But it is a macrame plant holder that hangs from the ceiling.  It's tall. About 6 feet and holds two plants.  Right now it looks like nothing, but I am super excited.  I saw a smaller one at an antique store and they wanted $25 for it.  I paid $2 for this one.

The black and white vase in this picture I picked up for Target in their dollar area.  The vase was $3 and I love it.  I bought it not knowing where it would go so this is its spot for now.

See that pillow in the middle?  It's a watercolor peacock.  Also from the thrift store.  I think I paid $4.50 for it.  Love it.  But I also kept it in the trunk of the car for 24 hours when it was -9 below zero because I get nervous about bed bugs and things like that.  

Close up.  Who would get rid of this?

I haven't had too many chances to go thrifting in our new town.  We've been fairly busy and I just honestly don't know where the stores are.  I'd particularly like to find one with books but we'll see.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Basketball that is.

This made me laugh!! At least I know how most sports work, but I would totally wear this shirt to all sporting events. In fact, I'd go out of my way to attend sporting events just so I could wear this:
This shirt pretty much sums up my knowledge about basketball- nothing.

Our new community has a huge homeschool population.  About 1/3 of the students.  Then 1/3 are public school and 1/3 private.  There are competitive homeschool sports teams that play all the private schools and so we enrolled Ava in basketball to help her meet girls and experience sports.

We're on the road several times a week plus practices in the middle of the day.  It's kind of exhausting and not something we are used to.  But Ava loves and it and we do too.  I think it's helping to stave off seasonal affective disorder, or at the very least the middle of the winter twitchies.

And on another basketball related note.  I came across a book by Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  Remember him?

He writes books!  Specifically, I read one titled Mycroft Holmes.  (Yes, that would be Sherlock Holmes' brother)  And it was good!  Now I want to go back and reread the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Apparently I am easily influenced by what I read.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Recent Purchase and Updates

Probably I should come up with better blog post titles, but I just am not creative that way.

I was in Target the other day, my favorite store, as all of my kids will tell you.  And I saw these baskets.

Threshold™ Set of 3 Wall D├ęcor Seagrass
I think they are a part of their new spring line.  They look much better in person, and were one of those things that I had to buy. I hung them up in our living room where previously I had one of the pieces of art Chris brought back from Congo.

Lately, I've been feeling like I need a bit more color in the house.  And these already match the map I have hanging so it was a perfect fit.  Now I am thinking this pillow.

But it's $25 for a plain pillow with colorful tassels, and I think I could DIY for way cheaper, assuming I have the time to make and tie all those tassels.

My skin has been super dry and painful and when I was in Trader Joe's the other day I saw there night cream so I snatched it up desperate for some relief for my poor face.

A Midsummer Night's Cream

And it has totally helped.  I've used it for about a week and before I had to put stuff on my face probably 4 times a day.  With this stuff it's been once, and maybe one in the evening.  So far loving it.

We're 8 days into 2016 and I have only read 1 book so far.  But, I read more than one book a time, so I am halfway through 3 other books.  To meet my goal of 100 per year, I need to read a book every 3.65 days.  But reading multiple at a time means I may not finish anything for a week, and then the next week finish 4, so it evens out over time.

Chris and I are also looking into a 15th anniversary trip this coming spring.  Buying the house, we don't have a lot of money, but I have an aunt who lives in Costa Rica so we're looking into that, and friends who live in Oregon, so those are the top two contenders right now.  I keep tossing Ireland back in the picture since unfortunately, that trip didn't happen.  Chris is less excited about that, and it's probably out of our budget.  We'll see.

That's what's new here, not particularly notable but still kind of fun.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Resolutions

2016 is here, and I did  make some resolutions but I am never very good at them so we'll see.

tumblr_leavbelCZN1qd96hso1_500.png 420×294 pixels:

They would be:

1. Read 100 books but focus on the ones in my library that I haven't read yet.

2. Lose 10 pounds before I go winter camping.

And that's it.  I am not shooting for the stars here, but that's all right.  Maybe it will be an aim low and then be happy when I do better type of thing.