Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Made it Through Hurricane Irene

Well, I know for a fact that we are fortunate, because we made it through a hurricane and an earthquake, both in the same week.

Hurricane Irene, much maligned on the news all week, gave the entire East Coast something to think about.

I thought about how much I love my family, how much I trust God when it's easy and how much I trust God when I have no control over the circumstances.

I thought about how we lost power for six days after Hurricane Isabel, and how much I hate being in the dark. I thought about looters and food spoilage and how to entertain the family without electricity.

I considered moving to another state, but it was a little late for that.

I thought about if we could still do school, if Jeff would have to work, and did we have enough food if the stores were all closed.

We came through the hurricane with no damage, little flooding, and no electricity loss.

I started thinking about other people. I thought about the half a million people in Maryland who lost power and the five million on the whole coast. That's a lot of people, I thought. I thought about those who lost their lives and what it meant to the people who loved them. I thought about material loss and the struggles with faith that might ensue.

I thought about what it meant to be "blessed." Was I blessed because I lost nothing? Were others less blessed because they had lost some, or much? What is the official church-y definition of blessed?

I decided the opposite of "blessed" is not un-blessed, or less blessed~it is "challenged."

God blesses us and he challenges us. He answers prayer ("Please keep us safe") and he lets us wait and he sometimes answers, No.

And though I lost nothing, I thought even if I had, I could sing with the hymnist, "It is Well."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School for Hannah

Hannah's first day of seventh grade will always be memorable, because not long after we finished...
So we had finished in record time, having pre-completed Algebra I and a 25 minute technology video. We are trying to follow the schedule set in the lesson manual and start at 8:30 and finish by 2:30.
Our neighbor came to the door so her little sister could use the potty ( it's a hardship to have just one bathroom when you have more than four children) and she no sooner shut the door when the room started shaking.
"Sweetie (not her real name), is there shaking outside, too?"
"No!" she exclaimed. So I sent Hannah upstairs to turn off the washer, which must be a whopper out of balance!! The whole house was shaking, things were coming off the walls, and it felt like the washer would explode. Hannah did not want to go upstairs, but I was holding the sleeping baby, and she must've realized it would be better to stop it before something worse happened. By then the shaking had stopped and I tried to get the five yr. old to use the bathroom. Her big sister questioned the sanity of this instruction: "Is it safe?" I tried, but did not communicate well, that if it was not safe, it was best to get the bathroom needs out of the way before we started panicking.

Then the phone rang, and I was informed that it had to be an earthquake, which news reports did confirm. We were on edge the rest of the day, starting at each sudden noise, thinking we'd have an aftershock.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elinore's Birthday

Baby girl is three years old now.

To celebrate her last day of being two, she wanted to go to Ikea and the Book Thing (why does everyone snicker when I say that? Just because she's pre-verbal?) So we scurried over two buses to get to the Book Thing early enough for some choice books, to the tune of 124. I know, that sounds like a lot, but we share, and also we purge. Sometimes. Some of my favorite finds are four Lifepac Accounting workbooks. There are six missing, but they are less than $5 each at CBD, so we still saved money. They are for me, because I don't know accounting, and moms should have the opportunity to learn, too.

I found Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech, an award winning writer. I picked up 11 Real Simple magazines and 20 Teacher's Mailbox magazines. Elinore got a scratch and sniff book, Winnie the Pooh Gets Stuck, and many more that will go back at the first chance. She loves picking out books. Hannah found Eragon.

While we waited on the bus stop, some kind folks offered use free school supplies. Unfortunately, we were waiting for the bus and didn't want to risk missing it. So one of the volunteers went inside and prepared bags for us! What a blessing! Free books and free school supplies.

At Ikea, she tried out all the beds and pretended to sleep and insisted on eating at the little cafeteria they have. She only ate fries, though.

Fortunately, she slept some on the bus on the way home. It was a long day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not Back to School Bloghop~school pictures

Clipped Elinore's hair up so you can't see where she cut it!

Hannah is in seventh grade with Algebra I and Elinore is in Nursery school. I am looking forward to seeing all the creative photos on the Not Back to School Bloghop!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


WE MADE IT TO 1,000 HITS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You 1,000 Times To All Who Looked At Our Blog!Thanks From Me Hannah, Mr. Jeff, Mom, and Elinore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

While Trying to be a Good Wife and Mother (Making Dinner)

Elinore decided on a new hairstyle.

Not Back to School Bloghop-School Spaces

Once again, I have a few observations from the bloghop:
  1. Homeschoolers love books
  2. We love bookshelves (IKEA is popular with homescholars)
  3. Bloghoppers like to be organized; some clean for pictures and some don't, but even the don't clean before photos don't look too bad
  4. Homeschoolers like to school all over the house and outside
  5. Lots of us wish we had a dedicated schoolroom
  6. Everyone is doing a great job not complaining about their spaces.
  7. Some with dedicated school rooms don't use them!
  8. The most practical dedicated school rooms are in a central location, usually close to the kitchen
  9. I am attracted to the colorful, well-organized school room
  10. There are very few pictures of moms!

I just posted recently about reorganizing my space, so some of this is a repeat.

Bookshelf/storage space

Work area
The table is never really this cleaned off. Piles of papers and schoolbooks migrate from one end to the other depending on whether we are schooling or eating. Also, Elinore schools from the booster, but she's really too big for it, and too small to sit in the chair without one. Any suggestions?

Hannah's space
Hannah's proposed schedule

Hannah does not actually school much at her desk, it's more for organizing, apparently. I don't mind if she works at the table with me and Elinore, but Elinore messes with her work. With markers. And glue stick. And scissors. Ad nauseum.

I am not one of those moms who like to have school all over the house and outdoors. Our neighborhood is not too safe, not even the backyard. Once I found a stranger in my backyard looking for something he "lost." Turned out to be a gun he used to commit a crime. Threw it when he was being chased down the alley by police. It was in my next-door-neighbor's yard.  'Nuff said.

I don't mind free reading on the couch, but I don't like other subjects there. Calvert seventh is all about learning to take notes. Just about every subject includes note-taking in one form or another. I don't think you can juggle a text and your notebook and use your best handwriting. Hannah has to use her best handwriting because her less-than-best tends toward illegible.

So, if  you like to peak into other schoolrooms, you should check out the bloghop at Heart of the Matter.

Free Book

Hannah's dad took her last week to Barnes & Noble to turn in her summer reading log. She picked the book Pandora Gets Jealous. She also purchased two books: The Thirteen Curses, and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tot School

We are still doing school lite, but first official day of school is just two weeks away. I can hardly wait!

Elinore loved life school with daddy last week because he let her use a hammer~ yes, a real one!

Also, he cleaned out the tugboat sandbox and turned it into a wading pool.
Speech with Miss Heather on Friday this week included Don't Break the Ice and lots of bubble popping.

Occupational Therapy with Miss Jody brings her an hour of delight each week. This week, we had swing time, cutting, pasting and drawing in a plus shape, eating with a spoon.

At home for Tot School, we did blocks, cutting and pasting, Legos, and Magnetix.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hannah's Birthday

Made with Cricut

We didn't have very much time for the World Wide Web yesterday. Hannah turned eleven! Oh my. All the moms that record these on blogs talk about how fast they grow up (they do), and how they can't believe how much the birthday child has grown and changed (she did). These are universal truths.

So we will skip lightly over the cliches. Birthday surprises are so much fun. But there is an aspect of birthdays that is also fun: getting exactly what you want. Hopefully we had a good combination of both.

Hannah spent the day before her birthday and overnight with her dad. Since he had to be at work, we thought she'd be here for a late breakfast made to her exact specifications: waffles, sausage, lemonade freezy drink. She didn't get home till after lunch, so we made a raincheck for Friday. After a big breakfast and before her huge dinner, she only wanted a light lunch of egg-over-easy sandwich with Rice Krispy Treats. Since she was late, we skipped the sandwich, and went right on to the treats.

Hannah's main gift this year was the trip to Savannah, Georgia with Girl Scouts. However, what's the fun of a birthday without something to open? Hannah got the new version of Clue called Secrets and Spies that will actually send messages to your cell phone during the game! We didn't get to try it out yet, but I can't wait to see how it's played.

Cate and Bill came over for dinner of Hannah's menu design: T bone steak, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, homemade buttermilk biscuits, and French vanilla cake frosted with vanilla. Jeff took off work to celebrate with her and he handled most of the dinner preparations on his own. Elinore thinks Bill is amazing and wouldn't let him out of her sight. She even tried to follow him outside and to the bathroom!

Hannah is amazing, herself. She is kind, thoughtful, and considerate. She is a loyal friend, a loving sister, a wonderful daughter. She loves her cat, but desperately wants a puppy, longs for a backyard to play in, but doesn't want to move, enjoys reading, but hates cleaning her room. She's a great critical thinker, skilled at math, hates composition. Ready to get baptized, shares generously, teases her family, has great fashion sense. Her independence has grown to the point that she has spent three separate weeks away from home. Currently, Hannah's goal is to start college by the time she is thirteen.

Happy Birthday Hannah!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Still Not Back to School

Only twenty more days till school starts here. I am itching to get started. When I made the schedule, I was feeling generous about summer vacation. Hopefully, next yeaar I will remember how hard it is to  wait. Hannah hates to admit it, but she has admitted, that she, too, can't wait for school to start. She gets bored in the summer. Just not bored enough to start school almost three weeks early.

This is my first time entering the Not Back to School bloghop. I know, though, that since there are already over 200 blogs registered, very few will make it this far. If you did, wow, that is persistence!

The curriculum we use here has been the family choice since 1991. Only one year did we do the eclectic dance to save money, and while I enjoyed it, I would rather spend my free time with my kids than researching, planning, buying, etc. So  I present to you, Calvert. Calvert is pretty all inclusive and is in use at the Baltimore brick and mortar school of the same name.

Hannah's Seventh Grade

Math, all the way to eighth grade, is published by Calvert. We finished seventh grade math and used Aleks for pre-algebra and this year we are using Prentice-Hall.
Bible, we purchased at a homeschool fair, is Early History of Israel by Explorer's Bible Study. Hannah chose it because she likes ancient Egypt, and guess what? Egypt played a huge role in the early history of Israel. I like that it's brief, scheduled daily, uses actual Scripture, and includes memory work. This is not a Calvert book.

Science uses Prentice-Hall, and is what you call meaty.There are five textbooks, and no skipping around, either. From Bacteria to Plants; Animals; Human Biology and Health; Motion, Forces, and Energy; Sound and Light. Calvert includes supplies to perform some of the experiments.

Literature includes Classic Poems to Read Aloud; Kidnapped; The Miracle Worker (a play); Around the World in Eighty Days; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Calvert also included Diary of Anne Frank, but Hannah is a sensitive girl, and not ready to deal with the Holocaust. I may substitute A Wrinkle in Time.

Language Arts uses Everyday Spelling andHolt's Elements of Language.

Technology, naturally, is online, Easy Tech lessons and applications across the curriculum. Also online, instructional videos, a library of reference tools, a BrainPop subscription and hopefully soon, Discovery Streaming.

Social Studies, aka History and Geography, use Houghton-Mifflin Across the Centuries and Glencoe Geography-The World and Its People. Both are the second year of a two year set. The geography text is my least favorite. It is bor-ing.

Art, a perennial favorite, uses A Child's History of Art, Architecture. This comes with Art cards and hands-on lessons that relate to the text.

And not included in Calvert, but required by the State of Maryland:

PE, for which I loathe planning and executing, once a week on the Wii Fit, and once a week free play

Music, which I wish we could unschool for, famous composers from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Elinore's Nursery School

Elinore, sweet, girly, and almost three, will be casual schooling. We will continue with Tot School by Carissa. We are about to start the letter O.

We are also using ABeka for Art, Numbers, Letters and Sounds, and Language Development cards.

We also like Kumon workbooks for cutting, pasting, coloring, mazes, and numbers.

We have several Evan-Moor titles: Fun with the Alphabet, Alphabet Puppets, All About My Body, Phonics Centers, Literature Pockets-Nursery Rhymes, and Early Learning Centers.

I like the Rod & Staff Preschool Series, we have workbooks A-F, and the Bible Storybook.

We have Crayola supplies out the ears: crayons, colored pencils, paint, dry erase activity center, markers, and more. Don't get me wrong, we can always find a way to use more!

We also seem to be collecting Lauri foam toys: upper and lower case alphabet puzzles, Tall Stacker, Fit-A-Space.

And finally, in September, we are starting Saxon Math Kindergarten. We got the teacher's manual free at the Book Thing.

Elinore gets speech therapy an hour a week at home, occupational therapy once a week at the center run by Kennedy Kreiger, and physical therapy every other week for half an hour at the center. At the end of August, she will get a special instruction teacher at home once a week for an hour ( I think).

Not Back to School Bloghop

So, don't tell my husband, but I visited over 250 blogs on the "Not Back to School" bloghop. Now, normally, I don't have that kind of time, but the stars aligned, and I just skimmed most of them, and now I have a few observations to share.
  • I didn't see anyone else using Calvert. I know lots of people use Calvert, but on this particular bloghop, there was mostly eclectic I-can-put-together-my-own-curriculum homeschoolers with a chunk of Sonlighters, ABeka,  and a few My Father's World and Winter Promise users thrown in for good measure.
  • A math program I am unfamiliar with, Life of Fred, kept popping up.
  • Tot school by Carissa came up a lot.
  • All kinds of families homeschool, one parent, two parents, one kid, seven kids, everything in between, families with multiples, families with multiple multiples, and kids with special needs.
  • Almost all the families include Bible and religious studies, but only Catholics and one Mormon family openly admit to a specific denomination. I wonder why?
  • I love pictures of Box Day. I highly recommend putting your year's curriculum in a box and letting the student open it. Even if it's used.
  • Most moms (I didn't notice any dad bloggers) admit to enjoying the perusing, choosing, and planning of the school year. A few admit to flying by the seat of their pants because they don't like planning. I did not know these people really existed.
  • Almost everyone admitted to plans being subject to change.
And now I have saved my readers from looking at 250 blogs.