AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 2

We reached the end of Peanut’s term 2 last week! Hooray! This week means BREAK WEEK and exams for Peanut.

We fell behind in reading Kidnapped, which means it’s been moved to audiobook status. I think I may need to just put all the literature selections on audiobook status, as I remember having the same thing happen to us when we were reading Robinson Crusoe.  Or I may reduce how many chapters we read each week and carry it on into the summer.

Peanut is definitely getting more and more independent, and while I still read a couple of her books for her; the rest she reads on her own. She also holds her narrations if I’m working with Moose (or kid-wrangling) and gives them to me when I’m actually ready to hear them. I am very much impressed with her and she should have an easy transition to reading all of her books at some point in the future.

I’ve decided not to do written narrations with her until next school year, just because we have a good rhythm going on right now and I’d hate to upset the apple cart. I’ve told her they’re coming down the pipes, so it won’t be a massive shock when it shows up on her schedule.

We’re having some adjustments with Moose and his Term 3 books. Robin Hood, which he so desperately wanted to start has been the hardest book for both him and I to read of the whole school year. He was up to the point of being able to listen to an entire page of reading before narrating; but with Robin Hood we’re stopping at almost every paragraph. I’ve noticed a slight drop in his quality and length of his narrations in other books, which I think is due to some level of nervousness about “getting it right”. He really wants me to just ask him questions, which misses the point of narration. We’ve done things like use dinosaurs to act out the easier books, and sometimes we read Robin Hood and I give a narration to him. He does follow the story and enjoys it but it’s quite a ride.

Two books I’m subbing in are also proving to be challenging – the Vision books of St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola. The book about St. Ignatius mentioned the Saint breaking his leg and that really upset Moose, as it reminded him of when he broke his leg. LOTS of treading lightly in that chapter and extra time to decompress. He’s capable of narrating quite well on them, but the “Robin Hood effect” as mentioned above is impacting him in these books as well.

I need to focus this term on making sure that we really hit “the riches” on a regular basis. The artist is Michelangelo and the composer is Beethoven; I have prints of the artwork and Spotify playlist of Beethoven; so there’s no reason for missing it (except that I forget to put it in the schedules). The kids are feeling rather blah thanks to the endless snow we’ve had (and of course, it’s snowing right now as I type this), and I’m sure that putting in more of the riches would help their spirits.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 11 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 1

What a wild week! Nugget, my 19 month old; has been transitioning out of the coveted double nap times into seemingly no nap times and has decided to become a force to be reckoned with. Climbing up chairs into cabinets, going up and down the stairs, climbing on the table – things have been very hectic around here lately. We’ve learned to take whatever time we can get – so some days he takes one nap – lots of school happens in that one nap time! When he simply has decided that napping is not happening; we do our best to keep him contained in the room we’re in so that we can keep an eye on his shenanigans.

We also purchased a new oven so there was some Serious Excitement when it was put in. Okay, the Serious Excitement was from me – the oven we replaced we had for almost a decade and just couldn’t keep on going. Good job, oven!

Peanut is coasting into the end of Term 2 and has been highly motivated towards finishing up strong. Dropping out the high frequency words for spelling practice was a great idea, as was giving her control of the Latin schedule. We have been more diligent about keeping timelines, which is helping to cement in some knowledge.

Some highlights from Peanut’s week:

  • Multi-part multiplication is not nearly as intimidating as Peanut thought it was going to be.
  • Olympic bobsledding is her favorite sport.
  • She took part in the live Mary Pope Osborne event that Read-Aloud Revival held (and was completely spellbound)
  • Age of Fable is still really not impressive to her

I’ve tried to scaffold the lessons better also, which has helped her in terms of being interested. It’s very easy to slip into a checklist mentality, especially with a mostly independent kid like Peanut.  As Charlotte Mason writes, the goal isn’t JUST to produce educated people. If that’s the answer to the question, we’re asking the wrong question:

“The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (Vol. 3, pp. 170-171).

Moose has been waiting for this term since the beginning of the school year, when he saw Robin Hood in his bookstack. We finally broke into it, and Moose has spent the whole week pretending to be Robin Hood. I’ve split up Robin Hood into a five-day reading – we need to stop a lot for narrations and the like. But that’s okay. I found this great map of the locations of Robin Hood that we reference as we come to places in the book. And all the other times we look at maps of Europe, Robin Hood is used as the reference point!

Moose had another big leap up, in that he can now be content with sitting down and working on Math Mammoth without major drama. Using IXL to supplement really helped boost his confidence (although he seems to be over IXL now, haha). We use Simply Charlotte Mason’s math for explaining concepts, Math Mammoth to drill them, and IXL to supplement. It’s working out well until the next big thing happens that would make us change things up.

I’m hoping that my little toddler tornado will give me some time to write up my “what I’m reading” post – it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do one of those! Thankfully I’ve been able to post bits and pieces of that on Instagram – you can find me here if you’re so inclined!

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 11

We’re done with another week! And it’s February which means March is soon which means SPRING is going to arrive. We’ve had several days of warmer weather, warm enough to melt some ice or let me go out and whack it apart to clear it off my driveway. I am completely ready for spring to be here, not needing tire chains anymore or being unable to open the windows.

As you can tell from the title, Moose is almost finished with Term 2, which is quite exciting! I need to put an eye towards examinations and see what questions to ask. I noticed that Moose cruised through his phonics workbook much quicker than I anticipated, as he will finish it up next Friday – a perfect way to wrap up the term.

I made a video of Moose narrating a selection from the Burgess Animal Book for Instagram. You can find the chapter I read to him here, he’s just narrating the part of the fisher (we did the narration for the marten off camera).  As Instagram has a one minute limit, I had to trim it down in order to upload it. His narrations are quite amazing given that he was more of the “repeat the last sentence I read” kind of narrator when we started narrating.

(I tried to embed the video but it didn’t work for who knows why, sorry about that!)

You can tell I tried to throw him for a loop towards the end, as sometimes he gets stuck in this “uhhhhhhhhh” land and he can’t seem to get out unless I do something outlandish. Sometimes it works and in this case, it didn’t really work. 😉

Next week is our final week, then exams and break week for Moose!

Peanut is really impressing me. Last week I wrote about her self-motivation in terms of getting her school done, setting her daily schedule, and more. I discovered this week that she if she has a large reading assignment and doesn’t get it done in the time allotted, she will read it at night before she goes to bed (or spread it out over a couple of nights if needed). Neither Greg nor I have been on her case about “homework”, the plan is to roll assignments over as needed, even if it takes a couple IRL weeks to do one Ambleside week. I guess Peanut prefers to stick with the one IRL week to one Ambleside week, which is fine by me!

Peanut is making great leaps with her spelling, and is continuing well through math. She’s reading more and more and branching out into books she wasn’t sure she would like (the total “judge a book by it’s cover” thing).

I noticed that Mary Pope Osborne is the featured author for February over at Read-Aloud Revival, so we had to get a membership so Peanut and Moose can be able to do the author Q&A. Peanut’s Magic Tree House books are Moose’s new favorite books to read, and it’s been so endearing watching them discuss the books after Moose finishes one. They’re busy thinking up questions to submit – maybe one of them (or both!) will have their questions answered. 🙂

I really do feel like we are at the perfect sweet spot for homeschooling. Everything is working absolutely perfectly. Time is managed well and we get things done with minimal drama and theatrics. Things are actually fun vs a drag. I don’t know how it happened or what; but I realized that today this is where I hoped to be when I started homeschooling. For years I have felt like Johnny Appleseed, throwing seeds seemingly everywhere and not knowing which ones would take root and flower and which ones would wither. There’s been a good share of wrong turns and adjustments that we’ve had to make; but I am just blown away at what is beginning to bloom.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 5+6 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 7+8

We resumed school last week, and did a great job of not doing the weekly write-up. In my defense I slammed my hand in the car door and typing up anything was the last thing on my mind. Happily, nothing was broken (but my poor pinkie is beyond bruised and still slightly swollen). Typing is getting easier and easier. (This week’s injury was a pulled muscle while shoveling snow, sigh. I’m thinking I’ll just wrap myself in bubble wrap this year!)

At any rate, we had a gentle week last week to help everyone get back into the routine. This week I made judicious use of the Technositter as in addition to my mangled finger, three of the five kids had the same cold. It’s passing through, but this week was definitely a low expectations week.

Some highlights:

  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is picking up (finally) and it’s becoming a favorite of both Peanut and me. I’ve found it best for Peanut to read almost all of the book selections except for the literature selections, history biographies, and mythology. I reallllllllllly want to read ahead but I’m being good and sticking to the schedule.
  • Moose had a great breakthrough with math and is so exciting to watch. I’ve noticed he’s been drawing and coloring more, as well as building more intricate creations with his Legos. I wonder if there’s a correlation between that and his sudden “aha” with regards to math.
  • Even Wok is getting in on the fun – her drawing went from the “tadpole people” stage to “stick figures” to “stick figures with lots of details, like fingers”.  She continues with her kindergarten-y workbooks and thoroughly enjoys them. I’ll start moving her towards Mater Amabilis’ kindergarten program when she’s done with workbooks in preparation for her starting first grade in the fall (!).
  • Peanut and Moose lost the same tooth about 3 days apart from each other.
  • I’ll be slowing Peanut down in Latin, as it’s getting harder as we go along; and I prefer she actually learn the lesson vs cramming it in and forgetting about it.
  • Moose is beginning to read chapter books (Magic Tree House) which is quite exciting for him. He’s currently into pirates so no surprise he should begin with the pirates MTH book.

Peanut goes on break week next week, and I’ll continue on with Moose. He’s desperately excited to get to Robin Hood, but that’s in Term 3. Almost there, buddy!

I’m starting to put down on paper the next school year – Years 5 (!), 3 (!!), and 1 (!!!). I find it helps me get through the February burnout if I start thinking ahead to the next school year – what books I want to use, substitutes, etc. Right now I’m in the brain dump stage – looking at a variety of sources and dumping everything into a text document. As the weeks move on, I’ll start organizing things and removing books from the list; until I get a final list and start book shopping. Moose will finish Year 2 first, so I need to look at a calendar and figure out when that is. He’ll get a week or two off and then move right in to Year 3. I have a similar plan for Peanut, although her break (may) be slightly longer than Moose’s).

New Year, New Beginnings, New Hobbies

Well, that was quite a break! I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and New Year, and are ready to get back into the swing of things (and prepare for Lent – you know it’ll be here before you know it!).

I received the results of my bloodwork that was done right before Christmas in order to see what my ferritin iron level was at. My overall levels almost doubled, but I still have at least another three months of iron supplementation ahead of me. The good news is that I was able to reduce my supplementation amounts, so hurrah!

What really made me happy was that my doctor ordered a lipid panel as well as a vitamin D panel in addition to iron. Obviously, my vitamin D needs supplementation but my cholesterol is finally doing good things. The overall level went down, triglycerides went down, and “good cholesterol” went up. I can live with that.

We resumed school last week, which was a rough reentry into the routine. In hindsight, I could have waited until yesterday or done a “light” school last week. But, homeschooling means adapting, and I’ve found that if I keep my death grip on what I think is “right” nothing will get done and the kid will get frustrated. We did some adjustments and things flowed quite smoothly yesterday, hopefully we can have the same momentum for the rest of the week.

I changed things up by letting the kids pick where to do things that aren’t writing related (Moose chose snuggling on my bed, Peanut was content with the kitchen table), as well as making sure we are sticking to the schedule and the time limits.

The one thing I’ve done that has had the most effect on my life is getting serious about self-care. I used to think I was serious but oh no, I was not. It takes a lot of effort from everyone but I feel like it’s really paying off for everyone. My doctor suggested a hobby, so I stumbled on some things I like to do (I don’t know if they’re hobbies per se but it really helps my mind to relax and not think about the 493496734699401 things going on that are stressful that I can’t get away from):

  1. Japan. I need to get a system going for learning the language; but while I work on that I’ve been enjoying learning about Japanese culture, history, and pretty much everything else. My husband is awesome and bought me a couple of Japanese cookbooks for Christmas (Iron Chef Morimoto’s, to be exact) and has lovingly put up with me trying out some recipes. We have found that hambagu (think meatloaf but better) is absolutely incredible and the kids will eat nikujaga (beef stew) as long as you don’t tell them that the broth is actually a seaweed broth. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t taste like seaweed. (I’m absolutely shocked I could find kombu (seaweed) and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) locally.)
  2. Cooking. Between Morimoto’s cookbooks and Bittman’s How to Cook Everything {aff}; I’m learning so much about food and cooking and seasoning and the like. I’m not exactly a culinary genius, but it’s really fun to learn and try things out.
  3. Reading. Now that my brain is back up and running thanks to the iron; I can get into books again. I try to have several books going, not so much an easy/medium/hard but more of something related to homeschooling, Catholicism, and Japan.

I used to think that homeschooling would count as a hobby but it can’t; at least not in the capacity that I’m doing it in. It’s really tempting for me to think “oh, I’m starting a Charlotte Mason group as a hobby!” or “oh, I’m reading this book/blog post/etc about homeschooling as a hobby!” but in reality it’s more like a job than a hobby. I do read homeschool books but I try to keep a balance in that I’m reading more about Catholicism and Japan than I am about homeschooling; and trying to talk more with homeschooling friends (both in real life and online) about what’s going on.

I’ve also been extremely picky about my emotional bandwidth. There are some situations going on that are just draining the life out of me but I need to deal with them (aka my mom’s health, the possibility of another one of my kids being on the autism spectrum, etc) and so I’ve had to limit other stressful input. I’m in a group on Facebook for caregivers of people with Parkinson’s; and I’ve had to unfollow the group simply because I just couldn’t handle the posts anymore. I still am in the group so I can get questions answered and the like but I simply can’t emotionally see the posts anymore. (And I’m not even my mom’s main caretaker, I don’t even know how my dad does it.) It feels really selfish but honestly I need to do it or else I’m probably going to have a massive crash and burn fest.

All that being said, I can feel the effects of turning off my brain and just losing myself in a good book or a good recipe. I feel much more peaceful, I’m sleeping better, and I’m not nearly as cranky as I am overall. And because I am more refreshed and patient, everyone in the house is benefiting.

Wok’s Kindergarten

One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that we can start whenever we feel like it. Peanut started formal lessons at five (although in retrospect, it would have been better to have her wait until she was 6 – she does well but I think she could have used an extra year of maturity). Moose started right before his 7th birthday (mainly because 7 is the compulsory age for education here).

I had decided that with Wok, she would start formal lessons around 6; mainly because I was concerned about repeating what had happened with Peanut. As we made it through our Term 1’s, Wok was increasingly interested in “doing school”. She already had been folded into the family subjects, like Shakespeare, nature study, composer study, artist study, picture study, etc. And yet she wanted more.

I noticed that even with “video school“, she still was apt to get into mischief and slip into bad habits of whining for cartoons or Netflix, general whining about everything, and picking on siblings. I finally decided (last week, actually) that Wok would start formal lessons under some specific conditions:

  • she needed to still spend plenty of time outside.
  • she needed to have good habits – if bad habits arose then those needed to be dealt before schoolwork.
  • she would be leading the show – I would not sit down and make her do any level of schoolwork.
  • she would be involved in the family subjects of the big kids, and have her own read-alouds to listen to.

I decided to start digging around online, wondering what Charlotte Mason thought about Kindergarten. I was well-acquainted with her List of Formidable Attainments of a Child of Six, her emphasis on letting as much time as possible be spent outside during the early years, starting school at a later age (6) – but was there anything I was missing?

Oh, yes; there was. I came across an entire section in Volume 1 about Kindergarten. I’ve read Volume 1 but it wasn’t registering for me at that time, so I simply didn’t pick up on it (kind of like what registers with the kids when we read their schoolbooks…). Read it, it’s fascinating.

I also found a couple of blog posts at Piney Woods Homeschool – about that Formidable List and about Kindergarten as well.

I decided to give her some level of formal lessons, mainly focusing specifically on learning to read, refining penmanship, and basic math. She enjoys the workbooks we have of phonics and math concepts. We talk about what numbers, do a little bit of copywork, and work on our reading skills. Like Moose, she’s using the BOB Books combined with Plaid Phonics – he just finished the entire series and she finished reading Book 1, Mat. And then she read it about 100 more times today just because she could.

Each day, she demands for school (usually right after breakfast) and I do try to keep her semi-reigned in, especially with the math book. She wants to do tons of pages in it, but I limit her to two since I know that plowing through it will end up in burn out. And who needs to be burned out at 5 years old?

We’ll see how things continue with Wok’s Kindergarten, and always keep the door open that we may need to shelve things for a while and make sure that she can continue to do the hard work of childhood.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 1

This week was all about endings and beginnings. The ending of one term and the beginning of a new one. Peanut wrapped up her first term and Moose dove into the second term.

Year 4
Peanut was highly disappointed that we finished Poor Richard. I think that was probably her favorite book of the entire term. I’m going to find some other Benjamin Franklin books for her to read and go deeper with, should she decide to.

She finally got over her repulsion about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, “it’s about mice and RATS, Mom”. I think she’s really enjoying the storyline and was expecting something rather disgusting and gross (think Templeton from Charlotte’s Web).

She’s read two Saint biographies by Mary Fabyan Windeatt – the story of St. Catherine of Siena and of Blessed Imelda. She’s working through Blessed Marie of New France, after she spotted it in the parish library. We observe the liturgical year and have daily Catechism lessons from the Our Holy Faith series, based on the Baltimore Catechism.  I am really quite thrilled with the series.

She thoroughly enjoys each subject (although I think she’s not totally interested in the founding of the country, oh well). We did a nature study on the pumpkin we had purchased for All Hallow’s Eve, which was probably the favorite part of her week. 😛

Year 2
Term 2 started with most of the same books carrying on, but The Wind in the Willows for literature instead of Understood Betsy. Moose isn’t so sure about The Wind in the Willows – talking animals aren’t exactly his forte. But he listens well and narrates well, and especially likes the map in the front of our copy of the book.

His copywork and math are both coming along nicely, with math moving at his own pace. I’m super glad that we can move at the kids’ pace, especially in something like math. We just keep moving forward, even if it’s at an extremely slow pace. At least I know the kids are really, truly understanding it.

We read about the Crusades, the jumping mouse, what The Little Duke did in the face of someone wanting to harm an animal, and had fantastic discussions along the way; and talked about what he would do if he were in The Little Duke’s position.

The kids finished up homeschool swim class for the year, and they’ll resume next year. As much as they love swimming, it’s nice to have a break (mainly for me as I kid-wrangle the non-swimmers). I’m not sure what level Peanut is at but I know that she’s in the advanced levels based on what she does in her lessons (diving, butterfly stroke, etc) and her swimming classmates (teenagers). Moose is in the intermediate levels and absolutely adores it and gets along well with everyone, and is pretty brave about everything they ask him to do. He discovered that water polo is played right before swim class, so he quickly gets out on the deck and acts as the ball fetcher when the ball goes out of bounds. The polo players have taken a liking to him and they let him splash around with them and make goals and give him pointers when their game is over (and joke that Moose and Peanut are the next generation of polo players).

Wok just started this year, and she went from “THE WATER IS LAVA” to getting basic strokes under control. Her teacher is a homeschooled young lady who is taking college classes at the local college since she exhausted homeschool curriculum (at age 16). She’s so good with the kids and each kid has worked with her for a while before they move on up to a different class. It’s such a great environment for everyone to be in.

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