Friday, August 23, 2013

Coming of Age

Creepy McCrawly

 Micrathena Sagittata
(Arrowhead Micrathena)

I have a confession...
I am not a big fan of spiders!
However I couldn't resist getting a close up of this creepy fella... 
or gal?
I've never seen anything like this before.
And there it was...
right out my front door.

This summer feels like it has just blown by.
I didn't get much of anything
done at all.

However, I did manage to make several dozen Sparkleicious Headbands

Any money made from these guys go straight towards all things Softball.
Equipment, Pitching Lessons, Travel Expenses, Apparel  etc.
This was one of Mary's brilliant ideas.
And she hasn't done to badly, 
at $5 a pop.

We have a few different color combinations to make and then I will be adding them to my 

Family Time

Even thought it was a quick drive by...
it was great to see my little brother and my 

Beautiful Niece.

I hate that we only get to see her a few days out of the year now that she lives over there on the left coast.  
I had such high hopes that these girls would have spent weeks together this summer.
Unfortunately life doesn't always work out the way you want it to.
It has many unexpected twists and turns.
 These girls are growing up so fast.
I can't believe that they are 

I have been having some of my own growing pains with this new coming of age.
Mary went to her first
while her cousin was here.
And I have allowed her to go twice more since then.

I know that talking and giggling about boys is all par for the course at this age.
I just don't know that I am ready for what comes along with all this.

"Oh my gosh, he's looking at me..."
"He is coming this way!"
"Is he going to talk to me or ask me to dance?"

It hasn't been so long...
that I don't remember all that excitement.

Unfortunately that's not the part that sends chills up my spine.
It's the part that comes after the innocent boy crazy phase.
It is when these young ladies start interpreting what they think boys "like"
and start to explore 
"how to get a boy interested"
what BEAUTY is.

I worry about the time when they start looking more to their peers for input than that of their parents.
And the time when I have to let go and pray that I have done enough to keep her steering in the right direction. 

My beautiful 
Pomegranate Tree...

This summer is the first time that it has produced any blossoms or fruit.

The first fruit dried up and fell off.
But now it has 3 more fruits and one GIANT bloom.

I have never grown a pomegranate before... 
this is a first for me
and I have no idea what to expect.
But I am ready to find out!

With all the buzz about 
Back to School
I found myself getting a little more inspired to 

A New Top for Mary!

Some ties for my
Dapper Young Nephews!

And I am also getting back to some of my old tricks...
This is the closest I got to cleaning my house yesterday.
I made a new wash rag for the kitchen and
some new cotton swiffer pads.
 This seemed so much more enjoyable than scrubbing the floors.

Yesterday was supposed to be a field trip to the Norfolk Zoo.
Unfortunately the folks that Mary was going to go with had to cancel.
But a friend called and we changed plans. 
A day at the beach with her...

Gal Pals

squeezing in those last bits of Summer!
One of the perks to homeschooling is...
OUR summer days 
can be stretched out just a little bit longer with a lot less crowded beaches.

While all the local kids and parents are pulling their hair out next week trying to get back into a new school routine.
I will be spending time on the beach with my soul sister in Salvo.

I can't wait
to see ya Robin!

I'm ready for a lot of laughter, a few tears and drowning some bait.

Monday, August 19, 2013

7 More Days!


OK, so I know that I have been saying 
"two more weeks of school" 
for a while.
But now...
we are "officially" only 7 days away from completing our 2012-2013 year.
with only about 4-5 days to spare from our start up time last year.

This truly IS year round schooling.

And I need to be OK with that.
There are no "laws" or regulations that specify when our school year should start and end...
only that we must have 180 days in our school year.
I sometimes find myself comparing what I'm doing and who I am by what I perceive of others.

Not the best way to approach life.
I completely miss the whole idea of living an INTENTIONAL life when I do that.

Now don't get me wrong...
I am NOT an anarchist, law breaker or even a full fledged rebel.

However I did drink the "kool-aid" for some time before I 
a few years ago.
So, it shouldn't  surprise me when I have the knee jerk reactions to follow the herd.

People homeschool for many different reasons.
Some do it as a form of protest.
Others do it because their religion requires it.
Then there are some who do it to be trendy.
However there are many of us who choose to do it because we are looking out for the best interest of 
OUR children 
on a spiritual, social and/or educational level.
What works for one child doesn't work for EVERY child.
And I sometimes forget that during my journey.

We just finished our testing week before last.
This "test" tends to rattle my cage every year.
Logically I know that it means absolutely nothing in the "Big Picture."
But because the state of North Carolina requires that I administer this test every year and that I must keep a copy of it in the chance that I ever have a home inspection,
I do it.
However I will say that I "hate" that I have to jump through this particular hoop.

This test plays absolutely no role in the education of my child.  
I already know what my daughter's strengths and weaknesses are.
It disrupts our daily lessons and stresses both my child and me out.
Last year I gave her the test in May because the state "suggests" giving the test then...
even-though we were only half way through our school year.  
(Our school year started in October two years in a row because that is when I pulled her from PS.)

I told myself that since this test was merely a government required act, it didn't matter if we had or hadn't completed a full year yet.

I will tell you this...
she didn't do very well on that test.
(At least by my standards)
But why should she?
She did Average and Above Average by National Standards though.

How was this test useful?
It wasn't.
Not for the powers that be 
or for me as her teacher.

So this year I decided that I would wait til the end of her school year.

It makes NO sense to take this test midway through OUR school year.

Waiting was a more accurate snapshot of where my child is academically.
However, as so many "test" are, 
it wasn't a TRUTHFUL measure of her KNOWLEDGE or her ability to LEARN.
Those bubbles didn't show the work that she did on scratch paper with her 
"correct" answers.  
Or that she understood a vocabulary word only to forget that she was suppose to put the opposite meaning.

Being the beautiful dyslexic child that she is, I KNEW that the "opposite meaning" questions would be a problem for her.
That is why a few months ago I specifically went over these kinds of questions with her.
I told her that on the test they would give her a sentence with a vocabulary word underlined and that they would ask her to choose a word that was opposite.
I then told her that they would have at least 4 multiple choice answers: two words that were silly answers, the correct opposite meaning word and then a word that meant the SAME. 
(kind of a trick answer)
She was so upset by this.
Her response was...
"That's just mean, Mom!  
Why would they do that?  
Why would they want to trick me?"
I had to laugh.
My sweet, sweet naive child!

The State "suggests" that you send a copy of the test results and attendance record to them each year.
However, this is ONLY a suggestion.
I choose NOT to.

It is just a personal choice, and since I keep everything fairly organized, if I ever did get a home visit it is all here.

Homeschooling a young teenager has shown to be a tad more difficult than I would like.
I have found myself threatening to send her back to public school more than once this year.
That is sad, I know!

I wish that it weren't that way.
But it is.
However, it has been a great motivational tool.
But at the end of the day...
I know that a homeschool education is what's best for us.
This choice is not an assault or judgement against anyone else or even the public school system.
It is simply me choosing to educate my child in an eclectic, responsible, intentional and relative manner that fits the holistic needs of MY child.
My choice is not for everyone.

I am perfectly flawed.
And I'm learning from my mistakes along the way.

Since day one Language Arts has been a struggle for Mary.
We had to just about start from scratch when we first pulled her out of public school in 5th Grade.
it was pretty scary.
I still scratch my head... 
how she made A/B honor roll with the level of reading she had still bewilders me.
Hooked on Phonics
Saved our butts.
My homeschool angel, Cathy loaned me her edition.
My #1 priority had been to strengthening her reading ability.

Then I pieced the rest of her L.A together from many different areas.

Free Worksheets
Spelling Workbooks
And some unit studies I found online
But reading a book was ALWAYS top priority for us.
Reading is still not her strongest subject, but she has improved so much over the past 3 years.

This year we tried our first whole curricula for

Language Arts
Bringing Grammar to the fore front of L. Arts for 7th Grade.
As much as we LOVE the Saxon Math program, their L. Arts wasn't such a good fit for us.
So, we learn and move on.

Back to an eclectic Language Arts curriculum.

For the 2013-2014 year we will be trying...


Wordly Wise 3000 Student Book 8, 3rd Edition 

Writing with Skill Student Workbook Level 1; Level 5 of The Complete Writer
Her writing will be our main focus this year in 8th Grade Language Arts.
For a while there, I thought that she might have
and who knows... she still may.
However, the more we work on her writing skills the better she becomes.


Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: 180 Daily Teaching Lessons, Grade 8 Student Workbook

And lastly we will continue to work from the Reading List I've made up for her.
A good mix of the classics, biographical fiction and non fiction, poetry and some award winning modern authors.
If this doesn't fit us this year, then we will once again, try something new... 
maybe the Shurley Method.

Even though most homeschool curricula are set up with lessons for 180 day school years.
Most of us know that in reality it doesn't really work out that way.  
Especially if there are lessons that need to be done over or that simply don't get done because another subject took extra time.

Some families stop where they are and move on once their year is complete.
However, I don't like that for most of our subjects.
So we will pick up and finish the rest of her 
Apologia General Science

And then move on to Physical Science

Apologia Exploring Creation with Physical Science 2 Vol., 2nd Ed.
We are big fans of Aplogia Science.

And the same goes with her Math...
we will finish up and move on to

Algebra 1/2 Home School Kit, 3rd Edition


We will continue with where we are in 
The Story of the World
Volume 3: Early Modern Times
For 7th and 8th Grade 
I am using these books as an independent read, she does a chapter each day.
The "tests" we use as daily worksheets.

We will finish the last book of the series this year.

Volume 4: The Modern Age
Story of the World, Vol. 4: The Modern Age, Softcover
We have really enjoyed this series.
Mary LOVED the activity book when we first started this series.
But I felt that the activity book was suited for a younger student when the series was used as a read-aloud text.

For part of 6th & 7th grade, Mary worked on World Geography and when she finished that she started US Geography.
We should finish up her US Geography Workbook,
by the time we finish her world history series.

Then she will be able to start on this
US Social Studies
Uncle Sam and You--Curriculum Package   -     
        By: Ray Notgrass, Charlene Notgrass

A History of U.S.

I haven't decided yet...

There will be a few new additions to her 8th Grade schedule this year:



I thought for a while that we might take a little break before starting off the 8th grade year,

but I think that we will just keep on 
keeping on.

We have been taking "breaks" all year long.

We might as well take a "break" when we actually have something to do.
Or when life throws us a curve ball.

And since Mary won't be doing any afterschool sports this year with Parks and Rec.

Our schedule will be much more flexible to take trips.

With this 7th grade year finally coming to a close...
I will say that despite all our difficulties and threats of putting her back in PS

I am looking forward to a new squeaky clean year of homeschool.

We might even get that Field Trip to Washington D.C that Mary has been wanting to do for years!