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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Boxcar Children

I had the first four Boxcar Children books when I was younger. I brought the first book to Jazzercise one day (my mom did Jazzercise while my siblings and I hung out in the kids room) and left it there. Awhile later, I found it there, but I wasn't sure it was mine, so I didn't take it. So, I've only read the first book a couple times, but I'm pretty dang familiar with the second through fourth books.

Anyway, I was really excited to read The Boxcar Children with Lynne. We read two chapters the first day. She enjoyed it and could talk about what was happening (which is a huge improvement over the beginning of the school year), but she wasn't as excited as I'd hoped she'd be. The next time, we read two more chapters, and that was it. Where was the "One more chapter, Mom, pleeeease?" that I had read about a lot over on the Sonlight forums, especially regarding this book.

The third day? I was reading to the kids while they ate lunch. Lucas finished and ran off, but Lynne ate slowly and when I reached the end of the second chapter of the day, she said, "More!" So, I read another one and she demanded more. I paused to get Adam cleaned up and into bed for his nap, but then we finished that book right then. She wanted to find out what happened to Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. Was their grandfather really mean? Would Violet get better? Would they live with their grandfather or would they stay in the boxcar?

Lynne is excited to read the second book as soon as I can get it from the library (or buy it, which is the direction I'm leaning).

As a mom reading it, the grandfather was really going to let them not live with him? And where's the "Sorry I never spoke to your parents or you while your parents were still alive, but hey, I really am a nice guy"? I mean... so many unanswered questions. Also, Henry seems much older than twelve and Benny seems much younger than five. It was all just weird.

But I still love the books, and I can't wait to read the second book (and third and fourth...).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Planning 2014-2015

I've been a curriculum/school supply buying machine these past few weeks. And I've only focused on our geography portion of school! I still have many other things to buy, but those don't need as much prep/wrap my head around it time.

I bought Expedition Earth (EE) last week and I've been looking over it. Once I get all the books and supplements we're using with it, I plan on going over it and deciding which crafts/activities/recipes we're going to do for each country. However, as I'm looking over it, I'm realizing that there are a few things I'd like to change. For one: We need to add in a week looking at the Philippines! It's lacking from EE, but with one uncle who served a mission there and another aunt heading there this summer to serve a mission as well... well, we ought to look into it, right?

There are so many books and things I'm pulling together to use next year. A lot are listed in the EE curriculum, but others I've found while looking at how other families have used EE and while I was looking around on Amazon. In order to help me keep things straight, and in case anyone else is interested, here's what we're using:

 - Expedition Earth
 - Expedition Earth Animals
 - Wee Sing Around the World
 - Children Like Me
 - Children Like Me: Celebration
 - Animal Habitats
 - A Trip Around the World
 - Another Trip Around the World
 - A New Trip Around the World (I'm not sure about this one yet)
 - World map shower curtain (spread it out on the floor and let the kids really figure it out... may just get a paper wall map; not sure yet)
 - Inflatable globe (we don't have the room to store one right now, and I'd rather have the kids ruin a $10 ball than a $50 globe)
 - Flag Frenzy (this I actually found as I was looking for something completely unrelated; I'm excited about it)

And of course, lots of books from the library.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Crafting with Friends

I had a friend come over last week so I could show her part of the first step of the mystery quilt I'm in charge of for our church group. While she was here, I was able to show off all of my quilts and talk about them. I love doing that!

On Monday night, another friend came over. She had some things to get done, we needed to catch up, and I was able to get some handwork done while she was using my machine. I also got to show her some of my quilts as well.

Tonight is the second meeting for the mystery quilt. I got a bit bored this past month and have worked ahead. I started step four last night. I'm excited to see how this quilt comes together, but I'm also excited to see how all the other quilts come together as well. I'll just have mine done much earlier than the others.

On Monday night, I finally finished the binding on a baby blanket for a friend. I need to do a label for it, and then it's done. I also have to get started on a quilt for a niece, and I decided that I should have Ben's baby quilt done by his first birthday. Luckily, I tend to make more toddler-sized quilts, than baby-sized, so it's not like he's going to outgrow it. Those three projects have an end-of-April deadline, so I've got things to keep me going for the next two months.

Which is why I'm working on completely unrelated projects, of course.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Beezus and Ramona

Last Monday, Lynne and I started reading Beezus and Ramona. I've only read one Ramona book, and I can't even remember which one it is. Lynne got the set for her birthday (the Ramona books plus other Beverly Cleary books), and since I insisted that she only read one book at a time (rather than a chapter each of seven different books), we started our read alouds with the first in the series.

It was a fun book to read with Lynne. There were moments when Lynne would giggle at the things that Ramona was doing. Through most of the book, I was mostly exasperated for Beezus and frustrated with their mother for not doing anything about Ramona's actions. There was one moment, in the last chapter, when I knew what Ramona had done before the story had told you. I had to stop reading because it was so ridiculous and so very Ramona. Then, I could hardly keep reading as I waited for the reveal.

Lynne's insisting that she read the rest of the Ramona books on her own. I'm okay with that in the sense that I want her to have books that she reads on her own, but I'm curious what that crazy girl gets up to next! I might have to steal the books after Lynne finishes them.

Next read aloud: Either Little House in the Big Woods or Boxcar Children

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Too Many To-Dos

For some strange reason, my habit of only working on one, maybe two projects at a time has slipped by the wayside. I mean, I've always had plans for many, many, many projects, but only one or two in the works. Right now? I have more than that. I start working on one, get bored, and move onto the next one. In an attempt to organize my thoughts and perhaps move forward, rather than spinning in circles, I'm going to share my to-do list.

 -- Liam's quilt: finish the binding and add a label.
 -- Camber's quilt: I can't decide if I'm sharing this project or it's going to be a secret. We'll see. I'm excited to work on it, but a bit intimidated, too.
 -- Mystery Quilt: This I can set aside for a bit. We're only starting Step 2 on the 26th, and I've gone and finished Step 3. (I'm running it, so I know all the steps and the final result. I'll share the link to where I got the pattern at the end when I share my finished quilt top.) But it is there in the back of my mind, taunting me.
 -- Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery samplers: I'm doing both the Once Upon a Time sampler and the Woodland sampler. I'm ahead on the Woodland sampler (halfway through April's section), but I had to completely rip out my Once Upon a Time, so I'm kind of putting that off again. I want to get a bit more of the feel for the entire project anyway, so waiting until April is probably what I'll do.
 -- Ben's birth record cross stitch: Oy. The child is almost 10 months old. It needs to be done already.
 -- Ben's Quilt: I still haven't figured out how to quilt his quilt! It's basted and just waiting.
 -- Clare's T-shirt quilt: Can I just tell you how frustrating it is that I still haven't finished this? It's been a series of mental blocks, really. Now, I think I know how I'm proceeding; I just have to do it. It's a process and not one I'd like to have take awhile. I want to be able to just get it done quickly. (Both the quilt as well as the next step.)
 -- Lynne's dress: I bought fabric to make a dress for Lynne last summer. It's lovely fabric and will make a sweet dress. I'm still looking for just the right pattern.
 -- Snow Day Quilt: This is a quilt kit I've had for almost two and a half years. I started working on it in November or December. Most of the quilt top is pieced. The applique is all cut out and fused onto the panel. I just need to stitch it down. I'm putting that off. Once I get that done, it's easy-peasy to get the top finished.
 -- Niecew's quilt: I've got another niece or nephew on the way, so that quilt is on this list as well, though it's nothing more than a vague thought.
 -- Wine Bundle quilts: I won a fat quarter bundle of Kona solids. As pretty as the bundle looked, I was dying to open it up and play with it. I figured out two quilts I'm going to do with strip piecing, and I can't wait to see how they turn out.
 -- Hexagon Quilt: This quilt has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be started. I finally started it and it's quite annoying. Meh. It will mostly likely become a UFO instead of a WIP.

I am so sure I'm forgetting something. Oh well. These are the ones on the top of my head. Oh, my brain feels much lighter now.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Change in Plans

When I first decided that I would homeschool my kids, I started researching my options. I soon found Sonlight and fell in love. Books, books, and more books. Plus, the most intimidating part (figuring out what to teach, when, how fast, did I miss anything?) was already done. They scheduled it out. You just picked which core to use. I decided that my time and stress levels were worth the price of the Instructor's Guide.

I could hardly wait until it was time to order P3/4. Then, I was counting down the days until I could order P4/5. Then, because I was so impatient, when I saw a good deal on Core A on Ebay, I bought it more than a year before we were scheduled to use it.

When we started using P4/5, Lynne and I both felt that there wasn't enough reading, so we ended up reading a week's worth of scheduled readings in a day. We finished reading P4/5 in a semester, instead of a year. No problem. We'll just use Core A whenever we finish P4/5. Oh wait, Lucas is interested in what we're reading, so let's combine them! So we'll have to take one and half years to do Core A so he can be older as we get to the rest of the cores.

The week before we were supposed to start Core A, I pulled out the IG and started looking through it. Turns out, it's not what I'm looking for. The history is super light (once I took out I Heard Good News Today) and I wasn't thrilled with that. I flipped through the book that Sonlight was using as a spine, and decided I could make up my own schedule and pull in books from the library!

The more I thought about it, I realized that I can make my own curriculum. My confidence in finding books to use has greatly increased, especially when I have Sonlight's booklist on hand! I'm not scared that I'll miss something. I'm not scared that we'll do too much or two little.

Now, beyond the elementary years, THAT scared the heck out of me. But, guess what! I don't have to plan middle school, and I definitely don't have to plan high school! In fact, I don't even have to plan 2nd grade (though I'm already starting). All I have to do is plan the next 6 weeks. And once I do that, I have 6 more weeks to plan. That's it. Six weeks at a time. And as time goes on, I'll be more and more comfortable with myself making the plans!

So, the new plan: We're going to use Expedition Earth next year. We might start it sooner; I haven't decided. I want Lucas to be interested and engaged in the program as well, so after I order the curriculum and look through it, we'll decide when to start, based on how much Lucas will get out of it, though we'll start in August at the latest.

The next year: The current plan is to use Story of the World and pull in books and activities for each week. And I keep reminding myself as I attempt to plan ahead, if it takes longer than a year, it takes longer than a year. Jeff and I will also be reading Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World as the kids (and I) go through the Story of the World. Dinnertime discussions should be interesting!