Friday, January 19, 2018


I feel like I've come a long way as a homeschool Mom and mom in general since I last posted. But I feel like posting today, so I'm going to. So many things have changed in our lives. Tyler is done with training and now working at a "real" job. Which means he's also home so much more (7 days on and 7 days off). We moved to a whole different part of the country than either of us have ever lived before and are experiencing real winter for the first time. Lydia has encountered some major health problems that are changing the way she lives her life forever, and the rest of the girls are growing up. Overall, I like where we are as a family right now, for the most part.

Homeschooling has become more complicated with the addition of Adelaide and as Eleanor and Lydia progress beyond beginner and into more late Elementary-level content. I have to say, I was not meant to be a Kindergarten teacher. It just isn't me. I don't love reading picture books over and over, I don't like teaching phonics and handwriting, and I don't really like doing crafts. The exception being math. I do enjoy beginning arithmetic. That doesn't mean I don't do all that, but I have found ways that work for me and my kids. I use apps and shows to teach letters and blending for the most part, I use Audiobooks for longer read alouds for my girls, and I provide classes and materials for the girls to get plenty of craft/art exposure. But now that the older two are getting into more interesting content (to me), I feel like I'm finding my stride.

Both in school and out of it, the girls are beginning to take on more responsibility. They are able to do assignments with me nearby but not sitting there explaining every step. They are able to empty the dishwasher and fold clothes and straighten up rooms. Each of these milestones have helped me breathe a little more and make life less stressful.

We still love travelling. A one-day car trip doesn't even phase my girls. In fact they LOVE them. (That might have to do with the fact that they get to watch Netflix on their Kindles the whole time and eat yummy snacks). They still enjoy getting Jr. Ranger badges and seeing new National Parks and places they haven't been to before. We have plans to explore our new area a lot this summer

I have lots of things to work on still. One is my patience. Especially with Lydia. As she gets older her struggles become more and more of a family struggle and more often than I like I lose my patience after the literally 20th time redirecting her attention to a math problem or after she screams at me that she "hates" *insert subject/chore here*" I love that kid so much, there are just clashes that happen. A lot.

All that said, I am so glad we are homeschooling. I adore the freedom it is giving our family to spend time together and do what we want. School takes from about 8am-noon most days. Other than that we are free. And we take breaks whenever we have something better (or necessary) to do. I love that I am able to accelerate or slow down for each of my kids as needed. I was so bored in school and I love that I can teach them efficiently at their level and they are able to play and be kids the rest of the time. And I love that I can choose high quality materials that fit the goals we have for them. I love that this fall, when my Dad's health was failing and after he died, that we were able to drop everything and be with family for a few weeks without having to worry about the girls missing anything. I have totally bought into the homeschooling lifestyle.

Now, here's what we're doing now, going youngest to oldest:

Clara is now 2 years old. She loves to talk at you and expects you to understand every word and idea regardless of how it actually sounds. She tags along with what the big girls do. She loves to help and gets her own diaper and wipes when it is time to be changed, and once I have the courage, she's probably ready to be potty trained. For her "school," we count the stairs together as she goes to bed at night and naps. I also make a point to read at least one picture book to her daily, her current favorites being Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or "boom boom book," I Want My Hat Back or "hat book," and all Elephant and Piggie books or "piggie book." Also, that child is obsessed with Paw Patrol right now ("puppy show")

Adelaide is now doing a full load of school and I'd place her at about a first grade level in most things, except perhaps her reading.

Reading: She's not quite done with Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, but will finish in probably 2 months or so. Definitely before her 6th birthday. She also does Pizza Hut Book-It and is very proud of that fact that she read all of A Light In the Attic this month. She thoroughly enjoyed those silly poems.

Math: She's just a few pages away from finishing Miquon Red and starting Blue. That puts her at about a beginning second grade level in math. She is also doing Beast Academy 2A on the side. It is certainly pushing her but she seems to like math ok.

Language Arts: After she finished learning to write her letters, I started her on Writing With Ease level 1 and All About Spelling Level 1. She's doing well with both and doesn't seem to be struggling. Since I decided to skip doing formal grammar until the girls are ready for First Language Lessons Level 3, right now I'm doing informal grammar with her in daily life as well as the Well-Ordered Language Grammar songs from Classical Academic Press.

Piano: Adelaide does Hoffman Academy daily as part of school. She doesn't like the work sheets but seems to enjoy the rest quite a bit. She loves when she learns a song that she remembers her sisters learning.

Typing: All the girls are working on typing through They all went through DanceMatTyping twice before starting. This takes them 5 minutes a day or so, but they are all making progress and seem to enjoy it well enough.

Eleanor really seems to enjoy school. She's also my people-pleaser and the child that has half her school and chores done before I even wake up in the morning.

Reading: Every day Eleanor is required to read a "school" book for a half hour. That means a book from the library box that has to do with history or science probably. Or maybe a literature selection. She also has a book every month for Book-It that we decide together that she reads on her own time. And for every half hour she reads, she can get a half hour of screen time, so she sometimes reads extra for that. This month her Book-It book was The Invention of Hugo Cabret. She's also been really into Roald Dahl books lately, with her favorite being Matilda.

Math: Eleanor finished Miquon a few months ago. Right now, rather than pressing on, I'm spreading out. She's working on Beast Academy 3B and Redbird Math, Stanford's gifted math program. She's almost finished level 3 in Redbird, and I think I'll cancel our subscription for a while and focus on Beast Academy once our current one is up.

Language Arts: Eleanor is in the middle of Writing With Ease level 2. She also recently started First Language Lessons level 3 (grammar) and is doing well so far. She is in All About Spelling level 2. And she decided that she wanted to learn cursive, so I found some free worksheets online and she's teaching herself cursive (it's not a priority for me, but I definitely won't stop her!).

Piano and Typing: She does Hoffman Academy daily and TypingClub, the same as Adelaide and Lydia

Lydia barely tolerates school, but once she's in it she doesn't seem to mind it so much, it's just getting her started. With her (probably) ADHD and her (definitely) ASD, combined with her dyscalculia, I can hardly blame her. But I can try to accommodate her as best as I can.

Math: Math has been a constant struggle since she was 4 years old. While she hasn't been diagnosed with dyscalculia, it is incredibly common in girls with Turners Syndrome and she has all the symptoms. For a while, Christian Light Education math was working very well for her. But as time went on, her attention issues kept getting in the way and math time just turned into an hour-long frustration-fest for the both of us. I'm still trying to figure out what to do. She really enjoys Prodigy Math, which is a blessing because those silly video game pets are a great motivation to get her to do some math practice. Despite my misgivings, we're going to give Teaching Textbooks a try. They have a new online version that hasn't been released yet that we got in on and she'll be starting it on Monday. Teaching Textbooks is academically behind most homeschool math curricula, but by all accounts should fit our goals for her. Plus its flashy enough that I hope it keeps her attention and takes me more out of the equation, as I think I've become somewhat of a math anger trigger for her. So here's hoping.

Language Arts: Language Arts are were Lydia shines, which is so weird for me because she struggled so much with language and echolalia and still does to an extent. I honestly thought Language Arts would be to abstract for her to grasp easily, but I was wrong. I think grammar is her favorite subject. She does well at it. She's doing First Language Lessons Level 4 and is upset that there's no diagramming yet. About 2 months ago she finished Writing With Ease level 2. Dicatation and narration were getting old for her, so I decided to shake things up and I have her doing Writing and Rhetoric Book 1: Fable. She is loving it and is thriving. So much so that even though she is less than halfway through it, I already purchased the next book in the series (each book is supposed to take about a semester, although we're taking our time). She also continues to write her own little stories on an almost daily basis. For spelling, she is almost done with All About Spelling level 3.

Latin: I debated a lot about whether to start Latin with her, but since she likes grammar so much, I thought I would give it a try. She's about 1/4 of the way through Getting Started with Latin and is doing really well. She's translating sentences about as well as I am. And she's enjoying it a lot.

Piano and Typing: Same as her sisters.

All Girls and Other:
All the girls do a Kiwi crate monthly (thanks Grandma!), program our robots, play outside, play with Snap Circuits, and watch lots of educational television in the car. They are also taking swimming lessons and Eleanor and Adelaide are in tumbling lessons. All told, I think they are doing well!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

School Year 2016/2017 Plans

July means a new homeschooling year in North Carolina and although we school year round, I do like to mark it by starting new subjects and a special first-day of school celebration. I also like to take the time to evaluate my overall school plans for each girl and see what I want to change or add. We had our annual first day of school celebration a few days ago. The girls got some special school supplies and got to eat brownies and ice cream for breakfast. We also went to a bounce house place, Chick-fil-a, and a science museum. All told, it was an exciting day.

Lydia, 2nd Grade

Eleanor, Kindergarten

Adelaide, PreK

The bounce house place took horrible pictures, but Clara did enjoy just taking it all in and sat happily in her stroller, looking around for a solid 2 hours.

Rainbow shadows at the science museum

Not sure what this race track was supposed to teach them science-wise, but they had a blast on it for like a half hour.
Here's our plans for the next year. These are always subject to change, but I am getting better at knowing what will work for us and what won't and feel fairly confident these plans will mostly work out.


  • Lydia-Finish the Mensa K-3 reading list. She's been working on it for a few years and I think she can get it done this year. Also do readings associated with our history and science. Aim for at least a half hour a day. Also do Pizza Hut Book-It
  • Eleanor- Start the Mensa K-3 reading list. Also finish Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. She has about 40 lessons left. I would like her to start doing independent reading along with daily lessons. I'm going to aim for 15 minutes a day and up that to 20 or 30 once she finishes OPGTR. Start Pizza Hut Book-It.
  • Adelaide- Continue to work in OPGTR. She will most likely not finish this year but should make good progress. 


  • Lydia- She's on Christian Light Education 205 right now. I'd like for her to be a year further along, so we're going to aim for CLE 305, but certainly no less than finishing 210 so that she doesn't get behind. I also might continue to do some Ronit Bird math to help her with her basic facts and number sense on the side. And we need to work on skip counting, so we'll probably do a lot of skip counting YouTube videos as well. 
  • Eleanor- Finish Miquon Green and Yellow and at least start the final book, Purple. Also Continue working through Beast Academy. Finish 3A and hopefully 3B, but no hurry. This is secondary to Miquon for right now, but will become primary next year once Miquon is completed, as Miquon only goes through 3rd grade. Also continue with Mathematics Enhancement Programme level 2 and then 3. This is really just extra after the other two and we've sort of been skipping through it as needed when topics are redundant. But I'd like it to be secondary once Miquon is over as it is a full elementary program, so we'll keep it up in the meantime.
  • Adelaide- Finish Miquon Orange, maybe even a bit in Red and make progress in MEP level 1. Miquon is our primary concern for this year though.


  • Lydia- Continue with Writing With Ease level 2. Probably start Writing With Ease level 3. Possibly start Killgallon writing supplements with WWE 3 for some variation, but we're not there yet.
  • Eleanor- Continue WWE Level 1, probably skip to level 2 in a few months as WWE 1 is a bit on the easy side for her.
  • Adelaide- Continue working on handwriting using Handwriting Without Tears PreK and Kindergarten as well as extra apps and copywork until mostly fluent in writing letters and numbers. Probably start Writing With Ease 1 sometime this spring.


  • Lydia- Continue with First Lanugage Lessons level 3. Once she finishes that, I think we may pause before moving to level 4 and do a different approach to grammar for a bit. I haven't decided what yet, though.
  • Eleanor (NEW!)- Start First Language Lessons Level 1, possibly through Level 2. She's been listening to her sister's lessons for a while and the accompanying CD and will probably pick it up very quickly. I have a feeling she will finish level 2 this year, but I won't push it.


  • Lydia- Continue All About Spelling level 3. After that, either move to Rod and Staff Spelling, or AAS level 4. I haven't decided yet. 
  • Eleanor- Continue AAS level 1 (almost done) and start level 2
  • Adelaide- Depending on how handwriting and reading go, possibly start AAS level 1 later in the year.


  • Lydia- Continue in the Complete book of Maps and Geography. It is teaching decent geography skills but also really working on her "following instructions" skills, which is important for her. My guess is that she won't finish it this year (it is really thick and I only make her do a page a day). That's fine, we're in no hurry.
  • Eleanor (NEW!)- She's been begging to do geography for more than a year now. I told her that her reading skills had to be a little better and I think she's finally ready. So she's going to start Evan Moor Beginning Geography

Latin (NEW!)

  • Lydia & Eleanor- This would be a new subject for both girls. I intended to only do it with Lydia, but Eleanor wants to do it too, so why not? I am going to start very gentle with a program called I Speak Latin, possibly combined or just followed with Getting Started with Latin. I want to be consistent with Latin, so if I see that this isn't happening, I might put off Latin for another year, but I hope we can start because I think they'll really enjoy it.


  • Combined All Girls- History didn't really happen this year beyond the informal history as we visited places locally and on road trips and Liberty's Kids. So I'm hoping to be better. We will be working through Story of the World again this year, continuing where we've left off with Ancients.


  • Combined All Girls- We've been really awesome about doing science in a sort of unschooly way. We are really deliberate about bringing up science topics in day-to-day life and have lots of apps, shows, and toys to help facilitate that. I really don't see a problem with it for now and at this age, but I might try out Mystery Science, which looks like my favorite theoretical program (Building Foundations in Scientific Understanding) but much more open-and-go (which I need). I only recently learned about this new program, so I need to think about it for a bit.


  • Lydia & Eleanor- Continue Hoffman Academy. We are absolutely loving Mr. Hoffman and it is working very well for our family. I recently backed their Kickstarter, so we should be sticking with them for the long haul. They are both almost done with Unit 2, and I'd like them to be through Unit 4 or 5 by the end of next year.
  • Adelaide- Start Hoffman Academy in the spring when she turns 5. 


  • Lydia & Eleanor- Take 2 classes/semester at local co-op. They did it this year and it went pretty well, so I hope it continues to work for them. They will also continue in Girl Scouts.

These are not exhaustive. We use a lot of educational toys, apps, games, books, tv/movies, etc. I also try to be very deliberate in what we discuss and look for teaching opportunities all the time. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, in my opinion, and I try to include it in every aspect of our lives.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Report

April was filled with beautiful weather. I've been encouraging the girls to spend as much time as they can outside and they've been enjoying that. We went to the zoo many times and also the park and other outdoor activities.

The tulips at our local public botanical garden

Mostly we've had an uneventful month. No big trips or happenings. We did enjoy a science day and talking to lots of local college students and volunteers about various scientific principles.

I'm gearing up for my epic road trip soon, so a lot of my thought and efforts has been devoted to that. I plan to take that time off formal school, although we will be doing lots of academic activities. I'm really looking forward to it, although time will tell if I'm crazy or not.

The only other big thing we've done this month is to introduce chores. I think I've finally come up with a system of chores that might work for us, so here's hoping. We are only on day 2, so it hasn't been proven yet. I was just getting sick of crafts and paper all over my house all the time, and the girls could use a little more personal responsibility. That and they've started playing with neighborhood kids. If people are going to be in my house all the time, it needs to be at least non-embarrassing.

Lydia reached her Book-It goal for April, the last month she can do it until the fall. I guess I'm going to have to come up with some other incentive for her. She is currently reading Trumpet of the Swan. I guess we're going through an E.B. White phase. Maybe I'll give her Stuart Little next.

Eleanor is doing well and starting to read a lot for fun. A lady at church gave us a whole bunch of those hard-backed Disney picture books and Eleanor has been devouring the princess-related ones (and Lydia is devouring the animal ones). She has also been regularly doing more than one lesson in OPGTR willingly most days. She's almost done with the r-changed vowel section and finished through lesson 175. Really though, at this point most of this is a formality. She's picking up a lot of the things she's being taught in her every-day free reading. 

Adelaide is doing well in OPGTR. She's doing simple blending words like "risk" and "stump." She is about to start Lesson 50.

Lydia finished CLE 204 and started 205 today. She's doing a little bit better with having a good attitude and if we need to, we take a break and do Ronit Bird remedial math for a few days. I'm seeing improvement in her abilities though, and I'm very pleased about that. She is also spending a lot of time on Prodigy. Seriously, I usually have to kick her off or she would spend the whole day playing. At least it is math. Heaven help me when she discovers "real" video games though.

Using our Blokus game to help her do Beast Academy

Eleanor finished Miquon Blue and started Green, which I believe is considered the second half of 2nd grade level. It is working wonderfully for her. I've also been jumping through MEP2 and only having her do non-redundant sections. As a result, she is already on lesson 38 despite just starting it last month (lessons are supposed to be 1/day). But the most exciting thing is her Beast Academy math. She loves it, even if it pushes her quite a bit. All the girls are enjoying the "guide" book, which is essentially a comic book of lovable monsters learning math together. It really is quite cute and there are lots of hidden jokes in the pictures. The practice book is where the problem sets are and some of those questions have even stumped me! She will finish the first chapter tomorrow. 

Adelaide continues with her math. Now that she's four, I've upped her schooling slightly and made it less optional. It is still very light, but I like to start the transition at this age, and I think she will just roll into our routine easily. She has finished 43/126 in Miquon Orange and I started her on MEP 1. She is on Lesson 5. MEP is definitely secondary for her and if Miquon is especially challenging, then I set it aside for the day. I imagine she will follow a similar math track to Eleanor.

Language Arts
Lydia is on lesson 4 in All About Spelling 3. She's on Week 12, Day 2 in Writing With Ease 2 and her summarizing skills are getting better. She did a great job with the selection from Pilgrim's Progress today, despite being unfamiliar with the story. I was proud of her and I love seeing her progress. And she's halfway through Lesson 30 in First Language Lessons. She learned about direct objects and adverbs in April and is enjoying learning how to diagram sentences. The lessons in FLL3 are longer than her grammar used to be, so I often split them into 2 days instead of one. Since she's already quite a bit ahead in grammar, I feel like she can take the time. And she is just powering along in her Geography book, which she claims is her favorite subject.

Eleanor is on Week 12, Day 1 in Writing With Ease 1 and enjoys it a lot. She will also be starting Level 22 in All About Spelling 1 tomorrow. 

Adelaide started Handwriting Without Tears PreK after her birthday. I usually just have her do a 2-page spread on any given day. She doesn't seem to have strong opinions about it either way.

Both Lydia and Eleanor have completed through lesson 28 in Hoffman Academy. They have started playing many of their exercises with a metronome, which they are finding quite challenging. But they are both progressing. In fact, I think they could go faster than they are, so I'm going to try to up their lessons to 3 per week now that we are doing piano more regularly. If they hit a wall, we can always slow down.

Friday, April 1, 2016

February/March Review

At the end of February, the girls and I took an impromptu trip to west Texas. My youngest sister was about to leave to go on a mission for a year and a half and asked if I could be there to go with her to the temple. It turned out, ALL my siblings were able to go. In fact, it was an entire family reunion (minus Tyler who couldn't get off). It was a 2 day drive, one way, and the girls were champs. I love going on road trips with them, even though it is exhausting. We have lots of fun, and even Clara was really good.

Fun with their cousins
More cousin fun
Making cookies with Grandpa
As a result of our impromptu trip, we aren't as far along with school as I would have hoped, but this is one of the perks of homeschooling. If Lydia was in school, there's no way we would have been able to have this trip, and it was a unique chance for the girls to see so much family.

Now that the weather is getting nicer (and I have a fitbit and am trying to hit my daily goals!), we've been spending a lot of time outside lately. We even got a zoo pass in order to have more active fun outside.

Flamingos are their favorite
We've also been hiking a lot. It has been such beautiful weather, that most days we have tried to spend the day outside either hiking or playing in the backyard.

Standing in front of the grave of 2 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence at Guilford Courthouse Battlefield.

Playing on some rocks during a break from hiking next to the Yadkin River
School is going well and I'm feeling pretty optimistic about our choices right now. Minus some attitude problems, things couldn't be going better. I also did Lydia's legally required standardized test this week. I went into it with no pre-conception with how she would do. Standardized testing isn't super important to me at this age, and we use many non-standard scope and sequence curricula. But she did amazing! She was at grade level or higher in every subject! It was very validating, even if it wasn't important.

Making an AM radio with Daddy

Lydia is doing well as she transitions to reading "real" books. I've decided to work harder on the Mensa reading list in hopes to get her that t-shirt in the next year or so. She read Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Frederick, Make Way for Ducklings, and a "free choice" book, which was Charlotte's Web. She's really into Charlotte's Web lately and has been making all sorts of little books based on it. She has also been enjoying reading on my old Kindle lately. If she keeps it up, I'll probably get her a Kindle of her own so she doesn't keep hogging "the family" one, or more accurately, Tyler's.

Eleanor is doing better and getting faster all the time. She has started checking out books like Clifford from the library and is able to read most of them. She even started the first Boxcar Children book on the Kindle. She's on lesson 156 in OPGTR

Adelaide is blowing me away with how well she is doing. She is done with the cvc section in OPGTR and is easily my best-prepared reading student yet. I often skip the word practice part of the lesson and go straight to the story part because she just doesn't need the extra instruction. She is picking it up so quickly. And because of her bubbly personality, teaching her is really a joy. "That's the end of my lesson? OK!" and off she goes. She is on lesson 41 in OPGTR

This month we discovered Prodigy Math. It is an online video game in the format of Final Fantasy that requires math problems to be solved in order to fight the monsters. My girls are loving it! They are using all their daily screen time playing it, even math-phobic Lydia. Gamification really motivates them, and it is great at working on sections the girls struggle with.

Lydia fininished 203 and is on 204 now (lesson 8). She's doing really well with math. In fact, her latest quiz was a 99%, her best ever quiz score. I was so proud of her.

Eleanor continues to do really well in math as well. So much so that I've decided to go ahead and get her Beast Academy, a 3rd grade math curricula that is reputed as being incredibly difficult but also very fun. It has always been my goal to get her to the Art of Problem Solving's curricula, of which Beast Academy is the youngest level available. It arrived today and even though she had already completed her math for the day, she still wanted to read the first section with me and do a practice page. I think she will be able to do it, but if not, we'll put it off for a little bit and try again later. In the meantime, she will continue on with Miquon and MEP. She is almost done with Miquon's 3rd book (78/103) and is about to start the 4th. She should also finish MEP1 soon (lesson 105/140). MEP is the most "normal" math she has, even though it isn't very traditional either. I often mark out sections and try to only have her do ones that help solidify her math thinking. They also have brain teasers that I try to have her do because it is good for her. We do use it behind where she is in her other math by about a 1/2 year to a year, so she usually flies through it, but it is good practice for her.
ETA 3/3/16: I've been thinking a lot about it, and have decided to skip the rest of MEP level 1 and move on to lesson 25 in MEP level 2. It was mostly going to be busy work for her. She was zooming through the pages (5 or 10 minutes to do an entire lesson). I want her to have a solid foundation, but not be bored and do busy work. After looking at it, lesson 25 is about when they start place value and pre-multiplication skills and I think she could benefit from more practice in that, although those skills are pretty decent already. Still, I think the different perspective and extra practice could help. I'm also going to be a bit more judicious with which parts of each lesson I give her. Doing 3 complete math programs at once is a bit much, so since I have to choose, I'm just going to go with the problem sets that I think will specifically benefit or challenge her from MEP. This will probably equal about half of each lesson rather than the whole thing.

Adelaide is still working on Miquon Orange. Since she's still only 3, I only "require" one page a day, if we feel like it. She really enjoys it and is doing a good job. She likes to make up little math problems for me all day or tell me little math problems she's figured out. Lately she has taken to counting to 100 for fun while she looks at our hundred chart. She has completed 30/126 in the Orange book.

Language Arts:
Lydia finished AAS2 and is in the first lesson in AAS3. She chose Adele's "Hello" as her dance party song when she finished. She also started FLL3 and is on lesson 16. It has started her diagramming sentences and even I'm learning some things about adjectives. My grammar instruction was not the best, so I'm looking forward to learning with her. She is doing a fairly good job in WWE2 as well. She is on week 9, day 2.

Eleanor just finished lesson 18 in AAS1 and is on week 8, day 3 in WWE1

Both of the older girls are enjoying Hoffman Academy and I'm fairly committed to stay with it for the long haul (next several years). We supported their Kickstarter last month and are excited about the expansion they are doing. Taking piano lessons from Mr. Hoffman is like taking piano lessons from Mr. Rogers, and the girls really respond to him. They are almost done with Unit 1 and we should be picking up our pace soon. I want to do at least 2 video lessons a week regularly.

Friday, February 12, 2016

November, December, and January Report!

It has been a while since I last blogged, but I have the best reason. At the beginning of December, our fourth daughter, Clara, was born.

Because I have c-sections and having a newborn is crazy in the best of circumstances, I planned on taking all of December off. As it so happened, Tyler was able to take off almost the entire month (except 2 days) which is almost unheard of for a resident. He helped SO MUCH and I never had him around that much for a baby before. We were also happy that his mother was able to come and stay with us and the girls when Clara was born. We had a wonderful Christmas at home since neither Clara or myself were up for travelling.

My first adventure out with the girls by myself was to a New Years Eve party at church since Tyler had to work that night. I did pretty well, I thought, and we stayed until 10 o'clock, which was VERY late for my girls who are used to going to bed at 7:30.

In the middle of January, my parents came to visit and meet Clara and attend Clara's baby blessing. The girls loved seeing almost all their grandparents within a month of each other. We are very blessed to have such a large family that cares about us.

With all of our adventures, we didn't get a whole lot of school done in January. We did some, but not tons. We've been better about it in February and I think we are finally back into our routine, even though our school days often look like this:

As for our progress, here goes:

Lydia is getting faster and faster with her reading. She can usually knock out a Magic Tree House book in 2 or 3 assigned reading times. I'm hoping to start transitioning her to real chapter books, and right now she's reading and enjoying Little House on the Prairie. She continues to be very motivated by Pizza Hut's Book-It Program.

Eleanor is doing well too. She is now on lesson 136 in OPGTR and is reading better every day. She is starting to use her reading in her everyday life, which is great to see.

Adelaide started reading lessons today! In our family, I usually start sometime around their fourth birthday, and I was planning on putting it off for a few more months (because honestly, teaching reading is not my favorite thing) until yesterday when she sat down and read half of a BOB book on her own! What? Apparently she already understands the concept of blending and her letter sounds. Thank you iPad! I realized I have no more excuses to put it off, so I'm starting my third go-through with OPGTR. She is on lesson 29. She's also working through our iPad's Hooked on Phonics app which has some readers in it too.

Lydia is on lesson 6 in CLE 203 and is doing pretty well. Math isn't her subject, but she is usually a good sport and works hard at it. CLE is really working for her. I'm also using a Ronit Bird on the side, which is for kids with dyscalculia (which I suspect she has). It is already helping her with picturing numbers.

Eleanor continues to rock math. She has finished 42 out of 106 pages in Miquon Blue, so almost halfway there. She also finished through lesson 86 in MEP.

Adelaide has started doing math in earnest with us. Right now I have her do one page of Miquon Orange every day while her sisters are doing math. We just started this pace a week ago, so she is only 9 pages in, but she calls it her "easy math" and is enjoying herself.

Language Arts:
Lydia is in lesson 23 in All About Spelling 2 and doing well. Again, thanks to the Logic of English iPad app that teaches the girls their phonograms, when I introduced "oy" and "oi", Lydia already knew the spelling rules about them! I love technology. She is also on Week 5, Day 2 in Writing With Ease 2 and doing pretty well with it. Her narrations and dictations have been steadily improving. As for First Language Lessons 2, I think we'll skip the rest of it and start on FLL 3 sometime in the next week. She only has about 20 lessons left. She has already memorized all the grammar definitions in it and understands how to apply them. So we'll skip to something a little more challenging. I have a feeling she will love diagramming sentences.

Eleanor is in lesson 15 in AAS1. She is doing well with spelling and it is also helping her handwriting. She doesn't love it, but it gets the job done. She is in Week 4, Day 2 of Writing With Ease 1 and she is really good at it. Honestly, if her handwriting fluency was better, I could probably skip her to WWE 2, but for now I'm using it as some good handwriting practice. She also likes the stories.

Monday, November 2, 2015

October Report

Our October was relatively quiet. We did school at least 4 days a week every week and visited the Children's Museum and the Science Museum a couple of times. Probably the biggest extra-curricular thing we did was go to the fair for a day.

Getting ready to watch the pig race
The girls riding their first "roller coaster."
Adelaide looking at her butterfly in the butterfly tent

We did enjoy a weekend of General Conference and Daddy made us cinnamon rolls as he is the baker in the family. When we were at Myrtle Beach, Eleanor saw her grandma sewing and was fascinated. I decided that although I am not a crafty person, she would probably enjoy it and I should facilitate that. The week before General Conference, I took her to Hobby Lobby and helped her pick out a kit for a stuffed animal she could sew by hand. She worked on it during General Conference and finished it after about 5 hours of work. I only helped by giving her directions and tying the starting and end knots. Everything else she did herself. Here's her completed project. I think it turned out very well:

And of course, we enjoyed Halloween this weekend. We went to a Trunk or Treat at our ward and then came home and Trick or Treated. They girls had a lot of fun and were very excited. Oh, and Daddy helped them carve a pumpkin, although I didn't get a picture of it. The girls requested it be a "happy" pumpkin, so it had a smile and goofy eyes.

A dragon, a super hero, and a fairy princess
We will only be schooling 3 weeks this month because baby #4 will be born by Nov. 30 and I'll be taking the week before that off for Thanksgiving and getting the house ready for baby. 

School was very productive in October, and Lydia and Eleanor finished several of their books and moved on to the next level. When they do this, we have a dance party where the child who completed their curriculum picks a song and we all dance to it. There were many dance parties this month.

Lydia had a Book-it goal to read 3 chapter books with a good attitude and she reached that goal and got her little pizza. That kid loves Book-it. She also read some books I got to go along with our history.

Eleanor is on lesson 115 in OPGTR and is doing well. She has even started reading a verse during family scripture study (with help). She also read a few little readers we got from the library and enjoyed reading "real books"

Lydia finished CLE math 1! She is officially moved onto second grade math and we were both very excited about this. I like it because it is formatted more towards the child, so there is less whining at me and more just doing the check list in the workbook. She finished October with Lesson 2.

Eleanor finished Miquon Red, which means she officially is in the third Miquon book, which is second grade level as well (each book is half a grade level and she finished Orange already). The chart she is holding is where we colored in every page she completed as we went. Since Miquon isn't linear, it is the best way I can keep track of her progress. She started Miquon Blue today.  She also continues to progress through MEP math and finished lesson 66 by the end of October, which means she is more than halfway through with the first grade level. I view Miquon as her primary math and sometimes if she had an especially difficult day with it, we will skip MEP. They both approach math so differently, though, that I see a lot of value in doing both. The biggest weakness I see for both programs is a lack of word problems, so I just ordered some word problem books that use the Singapore math style, so she'll be starting those soon enough.

Adelaide doing school isn't a high priority, and she only did math once last month. Oh well, the kid is only 3 and a half. :)

Language Arts:
Lydia is on step 20 in AAS, which means she is only 5 away from completing level 2! I went ahead and ordered level 3 so we'll just move right on as soon as she's ready. She also finished the first grade level of Writing With Ease and the first week of work for Writing With Ease 2. So far she seems to be handling the level of difficulty and I'm proud of her. She finished less 167/200 in First Language Lessons, her grammar. 

Eleanor is on step 13 in AAS level 1 and is definitely slowing down. It is good though and she's starting to learn some things as they introduce more than just CVC words. She finished her Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten book, which means that she officially got to start Writing With Ease level 1 today. She was excited about that and that the first week's work revolved around Little House in the Big Woods, which she has listened to several times on CD.

We are on chapter 15 in Story of the World and just learned about the Phoenicians. We probably should have gotten a little farther than that, so I think I'll up our history pace this month.

The girls are still enjoying piano with Hoffman Academy quite a bit. It is challenging them at just the right level and they are both progressing well. So far, I've managed to keep them on the same lesson and they have finished through Lesson 7. They have learned the musical alphabet and where those letters are on a keyboard, 2 songs, and have started learning some exercises that I can see will benefit them later on.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September Report

We had a super busy September. 2 oceans, 2 birthdays, several doctor appointments, 2 weeks of school. The girls and I spent a week in Myrtle Beach with Grandma, Grandpa, 3 aunts, and all their cousins on my side of the family. They enjoyed swimming at the resort, playing on the beach, playing with family, and going on the Skywheel (Ferris wheel).

It was a great time to be there. The weather wasn't too hot, the beach wasn't crowded, and we had most of the pools to ourselves. It was quite leisurely and nice.
Adelaide and Eleanor playing with cousin Sam
On the Ferris Wheel with Aunt Hannah and cousin Sam
Lydia swimming in the "pirate ship" pool
Lydia reading to her sisters and cousin Belen
Adelaide being silly at the beach
Straight from Myrtle Beach, we flew to San Francisco to attend the wedding of Tyler's sister. Tyler was able to join us for the weekend, although the girls and I stayed a few extra days to visit with a friend who lives in Oakland and also tour around a bit. The girls looked adorable in their matching dresses and we were really happy to be there for Tyler's last sister to get married (the third one this year!). I didn't get any pictures though, and the official ones aren't out there for me to take yet.

Later that week the girls and I went on a hike in Muir Woods National Monument and saw the redwoods. It was a really great day. Besides an unfortunate incident where we were a mile away from a bathroom when the need was there (we made it!), the girls worked really hard and completed the Junior Ranger requirements to get their first ever Junior Ranger badges. The program was perfect for them and they paid a lot more attention to details about our unique surroundings than they would have otherwise. We will definitely be doing more in the future.

Starting out on our hike
Working on our scavenger hunt for the Junior Ranger program

Lydia looking up at the tall redwood
They got their Junior Ranger badges, made out of redwood!
By the end of our almost two weeks away (with only 2 of those days with Daddy, so Mommy was on her own), we were ready to be back. Luckily, the girls are champs when it comes to travelling and aren't too tricky to take on my own. Regardless, we are always glad to be home.

2 of the 3 asleep on the plane home.
Other fun things we did in September included taking advantage of our various museum memberships. The day we went to the children's museum, they had this funny tent set up outside full of things to help kids learn early learning skills or something, I'm not sure. However, they did let them dress up in a "profession" and take a picture against a green screen. Eleanor was the only one who wanted to do this, and I thought it turned out really cute.

Daddy also took the girls a Lowe's Build-and-grow workshop. Basically they have little wooden kits for the kids to do for free. They love these and this was the second one they did, but the first one in a while.

Their finished firetrucks.
We finished reading the Book of Mormon as a family, for what I think was the third time. Last time we started the tradition of going out for ice cream to celebrate, so of course we had to go out again!

So yeah, a busy and fun but not super scholastic month. Speaking of academics, here's what we accomplished when we were home.

Lydia read a few chapter books and some books to go along with our history. Book-it starts up again in, so we'll be working on that for the next few months.

Eleanor continues to do well with OPGTR. She's in lesson 101 and is getting more and more comfortable with it all while slowly picking up speed.  A lesson nowadays takes us 10-15 minutes for the whole thing. Here pretty soon, I might start her on some early readers like Little Bear.

Lydia just started the last light-unit (workbook) for the first grade level of CLE. We already have level two sitting here and she is very excited to start. I am too. The flashcards are getting to be a bit cumbersome to do on a daily basis and the 2nd grade math totally re-arranges them and it looks like there will be fewer to review every day. She should finish by the end of this month or the beginning of next month.

Eleanor has finished 93/120 pages of Miquon Red and is doing a great job. She should also finish it by the end of this month or beginning of next month. It still continues to be her favorite math, but that may be because she gets to pick a page every day. She likes the control over what she's going to do. In MEP math, she's on lesson 54. I'm amazed at some of the problems she's able to do, and what they are asking in a first grade math program. A few days ago, for example, she had to find all the answers 0 to 8 given problems like this: x+2>8-1. And she could do it! I'm finding that I am really loving MEP, which is funny because I totally planned on going a different direction before Eleanor came along. But it really is a great program that she is thriving with.

Adelaide officially started Miquon Orange a few days ago. She learned the c-rods in record time although I have to be careful with her because she doesn't seem to have the attention span of her older sisters at that age. Right now I make math completely optional, just asking her if she wants to come do math with me. She seems to like it so far, although she turns me down as often as not.

Language Arts:
Lydia is on step 15 in AAS 2 and continues to do fairly well.  In writing, she is on Week 35, Day 1, so she will likely finish the first level of WWE in the next 2 weeks or so. We'll start up on level 2 when that happens. In grammar, she is on 154 of 200. We do just the grammar exercises in the book and skip the copywork and poetry, so it goes pretty quickly. She continues to love grammar.

Eleanor is still working through her HWT Kindergarten book and learn her lowercase letters. She loves to do two pages and then color the illustrations on the pages. She is on Step 11 in AAS 1, but I think she will soon start slowing down. So far the words have been almost completely cvc words with almost no dictation or even that many extra words. And I let her do the majority of it on the iPad since writing is still tricky for her. As we move towards her writing more and more difficult content, I imagine she will slow down considerably.

We are on chapter 12 of Story of the World. This month we read about ancient India, China, and Africa (non-Egypt). Obviously we didn't go into detail, but the girls really enjoy it so far and I absolutely consider this an introduction to all of these things. They love drawing or doing a coloring sheet while I read, and then I have them tell me what they learned. I also started keeping a notebook for Lydia of her narrations for each day we do history and then she draws a (usually) relevant picture to go with it.

We started piano for Lydia and Eleanor. I plan on keeping them at the same place for a while, although I'm open to speeding one up if needed. We are using Hoffman Academy which has free videos of lessons we watch on the iPad while sitting at the piano and I also bought the materials to go with it. The girls are LOVING it. They think Mr. Hoffman is funny and he is going slowly enough for them to not get overwhelmed. Although I play the piano, I don't feel comfortable enough to teach them beyond the first year or two, and even that I wanted to be solid with plenty of theory, which I am horrible at. Doing it this way looks like the perfect combination because I watch the lesson with the girls (individually), and make sure they are following and learning what they should, but the content of the lesson is up to Mr. Hoffman. So I'm more a piano tutor than anything. I'm also trying really hard to not get annoyed at hearing Hot Cross Buns played over, and over, and over again. I'm choosing to believe that it is joy to my ears to hear them play. His lessons should take about a year or two to get through, at which point I will probably have to find the girls a teacher. We'll cross that bridge when we get there, though.