Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I've Been Reading: Some Nice British Ladies and a rugged Wyoming Sheriff


I've been enjoying more good books in the last two weeks!

First, I read a book that was assigned for a Retreat I attended: Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer.  I love the way Palmer writes, and his whole message of living an authentic life resonated as well.  This is a short and highly accessible book of wisdom on that age old questions: how to live a life worth living?

Then I finally got a copy of one of the first Longmire Mystery: The Cold Dish.  I have really enjoyed watching Longmire on Netflix, so I wanted to read one of the books for my reading challenge category of "My Favorite Detectives".  But my local library system does not carry any of the Longmire books - a strange hole in their collection.  So I had to bite the bullet and buy the book.  But then it sat there and sat there, because I frequently have a book that is almost overdue from the library and then that gets the priority for my reading time ... and a book that I own can be read "anytime" so it falls to the bottom of the priority list.  Once again, I had to just choose to set other things aside and give this book my time, and I was so glad I did!  Although it is slow paced, and the ending did feel a bit anticlimactic, the charming character of Walt Longmire is just as human and lovable in the written version and the Wyoming setting is also a real character in the story, telling it's own tale as the action unfolds.

And then I fell in love with some very nice British ladies in Cranford.  I had never heard of this book, or its author Elizabeth Gaskell, but I found a reference to it in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  To be honest, I'm feeling the pressure at this point with my 14 x 14 in 2014 Reading Challenge, so I was perusing the 1001 Books looking for women authors so that a book could count as a "double dipper" between my "Books to Read Before You Die" and "Women's Studies" categories, and then I realized that this book could be a Triple Dipper.  It also served as my book for "E" in my "Around the World in Alphabetical Order" category.  The value of the book was not just in its versatility for my challenge, however - it's a genuinely charming and lovely book.  The genteel society of Cranford are almost all ladies - the book states at the beginning that men are all absent or dead - and the ladies like it that way.  They live quiet lives of poverty, glossed over by nice manners and a genteel refusal to acknowledge their own monetary state, liberally sprinkled with eccentricity, foolishness, and social niceties taken to their ridiculous conclusion.  Gaskell paints the characters with a mix of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and deep love, which makes for a charming blend.  There is evidently a miniseries that I will have to watch now.

The "D" book for the "Around the World in Alphabetical Order" was also read this week: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  I'm basing that category on the Nancy Pearl book: Book Lust To Go, but for "D" she only lists books about Detroit.  I wasn't all that interested, so it was lucky that my mother came to my rescue and suggested Number the Stars for "Denmark". I hadn't ever read it before, and what a sweet and hopeful story it is!  Lowry looked for a story of the good and the bravery that humans are capable of, and tells a positive story of the Nazi Holocaust, with a happy ending!  Very nice.  I've had a run of holocaust books, lately, and this one struck nice harmonies with The Book Thief.  

I also listened to two more books of the Ranger's Apprentice series with my kids in the car.  Audiobooks in the car are still a wonderful thing for us, even though the kids are starting to want to listen to the pop music station more as they get older.  There's only so much pop music you can listen to on a long drive - but a good story will keep your attention and help cover those miles.

And that's what I've been reading!  My 14 x 14 in 2014 Reading Challenge can be viewed here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not Back to School Blog Hop: School Rooms


Where my kids learn: all over the house (and out in the world too).

The theme of this week's blog hop is "School Room Week".  Ha!  We don't have a "school room" anymore, so I should be disqualified from this one, eh?

When we first moved into this house in 2011, the fact that it had an "extra" room meant we could finally have a school room.  Our school year started off in that room that year.  But then it became clear to me pretty fast that we didn't really like to be constrained to just one room, and that the kids distracted each other a lot when they had to work too close together.  Then I couldn't really multi-task my housework, either, when we were in that one room.  Oh, and the lighting wasn't great either.

So we started to drift out of the room.  Into the dining room.  Into the kitchen.  Into the living room.  Into the "music room".  We would set up a card table for art wherever the light was best for that time of the day.

It's not as picture-worthy or aesthetically pleasing but here's the truth of how we live as homeschoolers:

The "school room" is renamed "the den" and my husband and I are trying to find the perfect way to set that room up as our offices and my craft room.  It's also still great storage for all the stuff and books that just keeps accumulating.  But the stuff we are currently using has moved out of that room.


Milk crates for each child keep their books accessible and portable.  The crates live in the dining room, but get carried all over the place depending on where we feel like working.


Shelves in the living room house the library books (mine have overflowed onto the floor because I have too many!).


Clipboards for each child keep them organized with their daily assignments.


A file of photocopied worksheets also goes on that clipboard.

And that lets us stay organized and drag stuff all over the house at the same time.  It is a bit messy, but it works for us.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Curriculum for 2014-2015

2014-2015 Curriculum

This week has just plowed me down and under!  It's been good stuff, but it's still ... a lot.

So I wanted to take part in the 6th Annual "Not" Back-To-School Blog Hop, with the theme this week of "Curriculum Week".  I even found the time to drag all the books out and take a picture of them.  I even started this post a couple times, but then would be interrupted by a call from my Mom, or by an animal emergency on my homestead.

But now I have a bit of time, so better late then never.

For the 3rd Grader:

For Language Arts we will continue with Explode the Code and Language Lessons for Little Ones, as well as just reading lots of books from the library.

For Math she is doing both Dreambox Math and Math U See (Beta level).

For Science we are doing REAL Science Odyssey: Chemistry

For the 6th Grader:

In Language Arts he is doing Language Lessons for the Very Young, Word Roots, Easy Grammar Plus, and The Reader's Odyssey is the method we are using to go through recommended reading lists for literature.

For Math he is using Math U See (Delta Level) 

For Science he is also doing Chemistry, but for him it's Real Science 4 Kids

For the Combined 3rd and 6th Grades:

They are both using Story of the World for World History (although they are off from each other by about 25 chapters).

For other History we are also all reading aloud The History of US and The Story of Science.  

For foreign language we are finishing up Puertas Abiertas and then we will have to find another program since this one still hasn't come out with a Level 2.

We are drawing using Mark Kistler's Imagination Station.   

And for writing we are using Don't Forget to Write as well as just writing lots of essays, reports, lab reports, and book summaries, etc.

Add in music lessons, family PE class, field trips, and horse riding lessons and we are pretty much good to go!