AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 3+4 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 5 – Part 2 + Week 6

We are at the end of another week, and this week has been loads better than last week. We were able to finish off last week’s work and get through this week’s work (and actually enjoy it).

Greg informed me that he absolutely loved The Wind in the Willows when he read it as a kid, and has volunteered to read it to Moose each night. Moose and I are of the “ehhh” mindset regarding Wind in the Willows, so it’s nice to have someone more enthusiastic take over. I remember trying to read it as a child and was ??? the entire time.

We are making headway in a variety of subjects. Peanut cleared an entire Phonetic Zoo level in two days (new record for her) and she’s blowing through the high frequency words. Math is taking off for both kids. Peanut’s narrations are incredible, and the discussions we have are really interesting. Even Moose is bringing up his own connections with the material and it’s absolutely amazing to watch.

It’s as if adjusting the schedule gave everyone a shot in the arm, and they have renewed their vigor and excitement for learning.

Moose is in break week next week, and we’ll take some time off for Christmas. Next week is Filling Party for some of the kids, (please hold me) which should be a HIGHLY interesting experience. I also get to see my new doctor (the one who figured out the iron issues) for a follow-up.

Today my parents may be making a visit (it’s hard to say with the weather) but the kids already have finished their schoolwork and are busy playing. Moose and Peanut made an elaborate Lego town, and the little girls are busy with the Playmobil. An idyllic morning for sure, one I’ll have to keep in my mind to reflect on when the kids are swinging off the proverbial chandelier!

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

This week, we’re back into our regular schedule of AO readings. I’m not totally sure on what our Christmas schedule will turn into; but I think we’ll just be playing it by ear and taking our time through the month of December.

Over on my Instagram, I posted about how I had a great idea to help Moose stay focused on getting school done, but also respecting his needs as a boy and be moving around a lot. It has helped so much (even if we have only been doing it for a couple of days, haha).

Speaking of Moose, we are getting through The Little Duke {aff link} with rapt attention. This is one of those books that I see mentioned a lot on Facebook and in the forums. It starts out so … dense, but about halfway through everything changes and it becomes quite seamless in terms of what’s happening and why. I absolutely love the self-realizations that the Little Duke learns during some of the more pivotal parts of the book. It is really a great book, and it’s definitely making Moose think a lot about governing yourself, friends vs foes, chivalry, devotion to a cause greater than yourself, and more.

I am really pleased with how well Moose is taking Year 2. I wasn’t sure if how everything would work out given compulsory age, his rough start to 2017 (that broken leg, which should have been a good indication about how 2017 would progress), and his general shutting down for anything smelling like “education”. Alas, we have done some adjustments and I can see him actually getting excited for all his schoolbooks.

I’ve started to look at Year 3 and begin tracking down books we will need. I also had a realization I need to get some books for Year 1 for Wok!

* * *
Peanut and I had a great conversation tonight about World War II, Pearl Harbor, A-bombs and more since she saw me reading A Song for Nagasaki and was curious about what Nagasaki was. We had some very good questions – who was at fault for the bombing of Japan? Could you put someone at fault for that? Was the pilot right in bombing? Did the Emperor think we were bluffing? What was the motivation for the attack on Pearl Harbor? Why even learn about this stuff, anyways?

It’s those unscheduled conversations that pop up seemingly randomly that make this all worthwhile. All the hard and frustrating days, the days where it seems like nothing is sinking in; totally worth it. All the stuff we’re learning currently (American Revolution) sets a foundation for when we do talk about WWII. It all builds on itself and relates into everything else. We’re all connected, and she’s starting to see that.

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

Peanut was excited as this week we started the second term of Year 4. Right out of the gate, Abigail Adams is the new favorite with George Washington’s World as a close second. I’m reading A.A. aloud, which is both fun for Peanut and myself (and educational as well).

We’re working on a timeline together (Moose is also keeping one this term), which is something I wanted to add in and finally was able to do so. I found a wonderful template for one on the AO Forums, printed off a couple copies, and put it in the kids’ binders for easy reference.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not to use AO For Groups with the kids and discussed it on the forums. I’ve decided that it probably wouldn’t work, simply because the kids coming and going in the forms and that there would be not a lot of kids in one form at a time (they’re pretty well spread out, even if they are all two years apart). I’m going to keep on trucking and combining what we can and working through the readings for each kid. Right now it’s not too big of a deal, but it should be very interesting as more and more kids are added into the mix.

I did finally have another paradigm shift, in that it doesn’t really matter if it takes 42, 46, or 52 weeks to do the 36-weeks of AO work. It won’t be the end of the world if things need to slow down, if readings need to be even more spread out than just a 4-5 day week. I feel like a lot of pressure is off of me now and I won’t be forcing the kids through their work. I want them to want to learn vs have to learn.

Moose is getting into The Wind in the Willows well (it helps that our copy has a great map in the front, so we plot the travels of the book on it). Other books are also getting really interesting, and the connections are popping up left and right. It’s really, really cool to watch them make their connections and see what is going on in their minds.

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.

Amazon links are affiliate links, as usual. Thank you for supporting my little homeschool! 

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 10 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 12

Whew! We are at the end of the week and we managed to wrap up Moose’s Term 1 this week. The original plan was to keep schooling last week and have this week be the exams/break week; but we had our great trip to Washington last week and saw a lot of really neat places (looking at you, Museum of Flight!). While we did get some work done, there was a lot that didn’t get done, so we just shifted the remainder to this week. The glorious buffer comes through once again!

For Moose, we finished up reading Understood Betsy and Saint Benedict: The Story of the Father of the Western Monks. (Those book links are affiliate links, btw!) The rest of the books roll into Term 2 (and some even into Term 3!). It’s nice that not everything changes all at once, and all I’ll need to do is select a different Saint biography to read. Next week is Exam Week for Moose, which should be interesting since I’ve never done a Charlotte Mason style exam. I’ve used the exam on the Ambleside Online site and did some changes to reflect what we’ve read and done. It should be pretty fun and interesting.

(Exams serve a different purpose in a CM education – you can dive deep into the thoughts behind exams at the Ambleside Online site here, at Simply Charlotte Mason here, and at Charlotte Mason Help here.)

After I finished Understood Betsy, Moose just looked at me like he couldn’t believe the story was ended. He quickly claimed that he really didn’t care about “a stupid girl”. 😉 I get the feeling that when it comes around again for Wok’s Year 2, he’ll be back in listening to it (it also sucked Peanut in, since she didn’t get it during her second grade year).

* * *
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve had some issues regarding Peanut and “elastic time”. We have had some small successes in helping Peanut to stay on task and get her stuff done without zoning out and dawdling. A big help: a timer and natural rewards (such as, “get X,Y,Z done by lunch” type stuff). But even still, there’s a lot of issues in transitions and just general motivation. I could give her a carrot, so to speak; giving her a certain number of minutes to use on the tablet or watching TV, or an allowance or whatever.

But I wanted her to have self-motivation, in that I want her to stay on task and focused based on her effort and not on the carrot at the end of the stick or whatever. When she’s an adult, she’ll have to get down to business on her own effort and gumption and get stuff done. I want her to develop that in the house.

I sat down with Peanut and had a small chat with her. I explained to her that her break week will come when she has completed 12 weeks of work. If it takes her 15 weeks to do 12 weeks of work, that’s fine. She can move at her speed. If she needs to take some time to complete stuff, that’s fine. I won’t shove her through each week. We will take our 20 minute lessons, have some natural rewards, and armed with the knowledge that she is in charge of when her break week comes up; let her go to town.

The first day it was kind of … meh, like she was still mulling over how exactly this was going to impact her. The next day she overheard me telling Moose that his break week was next week. She asked when hers was. I told her technically it should be 2 weeks after Moose’s, as I staggered their starting days but if she needed an extra week or two to work through what is assigned for week 10, she could take that time. Light bulb! Suddenly things clicked for her and she realized that she’s in the driver’s seat with her education, at least the pacing of it. She’s staying on task much better now and can have her sustained attention for the 20 minutes of lesson.

Another breakthrough Peanut had was in the math department. She started learning how to subtract four digit numbers and was just stuck. For whatever reason her mind just couldn’t wrap itself around the concept of regrouping these large numbers. We slowed way down and just kept plugging at it, over and over until – it finally connected. You could see the connections being made and suddenly it went from impossible to easy-peasy. She started asking me to make up math problems for her to do, after doing all the ones in the workbook.

It is so gratifying to see your child finally make those connections, after wrestling with the concept for a while. It’s probably one of my favorite things about homeschooling, is being present for all the connections and revelations and “aha!” moments.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 11

This week was one of those weeks where flexibility was the name of the game. It came apparent to me that we had something going on every day of the week and in some instances; had some double booking going on. Happily Grandma helped out by taking the kids to and from choir for me while I went to the doctor; and we basically forced ourselves through the rest of the week.

Monday and Tuesday Peanut (Yr 4) and Moose (Yr 2) discovered the wonder of having all their school done by 11:30 in the morning. I have told them until I’m blue in the face that if you finish your work well (as in, not slopped or rushed through) and don’t dawdle; you can be finished before noon – which leaves the rest of the day for playing, reading, visiting Grandparents, playing with friends, and so on. Sure enough they discovered that I wasn’t yanking their chains.

Peanut and Moose both had math tests and passed. Peanut finally finished up Math Mammoth Grade 3 and can begin Grade 4; Moose moves on to the next chapter in his Math Mammoth text. We also went on to the next list in both Phonetic Zoo and high frequency words.

Wednesday was a day where everything went south but we managed to get things accomplished. Our special needs kid had an extremely hard morning of therapies which meant that that child was fried and drained and needed to rest all day (but was irritable making it hard for others to work), I was fried and drained from whatever health problem I’m having, and it was just blah. I didn’t force school too much on everyone because when we’re at each other’s throats, sometimes we just need to shelve everything and have some hot cocoa (or a Snickers bar) and chill. The relationship with the kids trumps any knowledge they may gain. And besides, who can learn when someone’s antagonizing you, you’re frustrated because things “aren’t easy” and so on.

Peanut did have her heart broken a little bit more about Benjamin Franklin, she was entirely unimpressed that he stayed in England so long, despite his wife begging him to return (and not returning until after her passing). She still thinks he’s a “mostly good guy” though. 😉

Thursday was worse than Wednesday, in that I had a blood draw scheduled for 1 in the afternoon. “Please fast for 12 hours beforehand” said my doctor. Welllll I don’t know about you, but I’m not up at midnight getting my last meal in. I ended up having an unintentional 17 hour fast. At least I was hydrated enough for the five vials that needed to be drawn. I forgot to ask the phlebotomist (I was ready to go to the grocery for ALL THE FOOD) when my results would be in, and since I have no new lab reports in my online account I’m guessing all the tests are done across the state. Maybe on Monday!

(My doctor thinks that maybe I feel so screwed up because my ferritin iron levels may be low, so he’s having that checked, plus thyroid antibodies and like 249820675698719584867 other tests.)

Friday was swim class day and absolutely TGIF. Moose wasn’t impressed to learn that we’re finishing Understood Betsy next week. I find that we’re slowly “falling behind” except that we’re not, if that makes sense. Yes, we got off on our Latin schedule so the regularly scheduled quiz wasn’t on Friday, and next week we’ll do some extra reading to get done with Moose’s first term. But really, it’s not a big deal. I’m finding in necessary to cut myself slack and let go of some tightly held (and wound) beliefs. I’m participating in Brandy Vencel’s “Charlotte Mason Boot Camp” right now. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it while feeling so lousy BUT it’s so great, I’m glad I took the chance and signed up. Plus, I enjoy having to make some time to be quiet, read and discuss and pray about certain aspects of our homeschool and life in general.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 10

It’s hard to believe that we are almost finished with Moose’s first term! Peanut is not far behind, and soon we will be switching some books and moving on to new ones. I’ll be quite bummed to finish Understood Betsy, but we’re moving on to The Wind in the Willows which I haven’t read; so it’s not totally a loss.

This week was another crazy week – scheduling a new doctor appointment for me, a nature walk (the weather was GLORIOUS for it and it was just great to be outside and enjoy some sunshine), choir and therapies, homeschool swim class and a park day with a friend and her daughter. I think I need to readjust the school schedule to allow for some afternoons to be truncated or some mornings to be removed because we’re busy with therapies.

I had some glimpses this week of learning with Moose and math. Math isn’t the easiest subject for him, and lots of patience and manipulatives and S.L.O.W. learning. I contemplated even giving up on his current math and going back to absolute core basics, much like I did with reading – lay off and wait, and try again in a couple months. But, I don’t think we need to go back to absolute basics, or wait a few months; because the connections are being made and it IS coming together. Even if it feels like we’re treading water in molasses sometimes, it’s good for both him and me to see the little successes and that YES, he is learning math;  just at his own pace.

I gave the kids reading level assessments this week, and both kids are above grade level. Moose was sort of reading CVC words in January, which is when we began systematic phonics instruction and ta-da he completely caught up and surpassed where he “should” be. Hot diggity dog.

Peanut is finding her friend, Benjamin Franklin quite the person. We had a spirited discussion about taxation, the Stamp Act and its repeal, why the colonists were SO unimpressed with the taxes and how that relates to our lives today. A lot of aha moments happened. I love these times of discussion, to see how her wheels are moving and what she’s thinking.

Peanut and Moose unearthed a rabbit skeleton with their friends on the mountain behind our houses, which has been THE highlight of the week. Earlier this week they had found just the legs, and so I was enlisted to help ID what they were looking at. Today the skull and jaw was found, along with ribs and other bones. Triumph! Peanut was ecstatic that “it still had its bunny teeth!” Thankfully no one has taken to calling the skeleton “Peter Rabbit”, which may put a slight damper on Moose’s enjoyment of Burgess’ Animal Book. 🙂