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The Homeschool Mother's Journal {Week 30}

In my {our} life this week. . . 

Week 30 {of the year}

My oldest is at youth camp this week at Rockaway Beach in Oregon. I know he is having a great time, learning a lot, and meeting new friends, but I am so excited to hear ALL about it and can't wait for him to get home! I just know that his week is going by much quicker than mine!

Dylan and Malachi attended Challenger Soccer camp this week.

Malachi and Eliana had their last week of swimming lessons for the summer.

Nathan got the "ok" to swim and started swimming laps this week, much to his delight! (He tore his ACL and lateral menisci this spring, and had to have physical therapy and 6 months of rehabilitation). He can now: ride his bike and run (on flat surfaces) and swim! He is antsy to play soccer again (his passion), and that will come soon enough.

I have been swimming, too. Feels good and is working my core (I've been so sore this week).

In our homeschool this week…



Core A Science Week 5 {Make a bottle garden}

I'm trying to savor the moments I have with just my little ones this summer, before school officially starts with the big boys. We took this week off of any "extras" and are just enjoying the books in week 7 (Core A) + basics (+ catch up on Science A). But, I'm going to spread week 7 out over two weeks so that I can row Duchess Bakes a Cake! (Week 7 covers the feudal system!) And I left all of those readings for next week. But, it is nice to now that if I just read Sonlight, and didn't row, it would be enough! and very doable! :)

Density Demonstration - General Science

Chemical Reactions

Dylan wrote an observation essay using his five senses for LA F Week 1. To do the assignment, he wrote an essay on his Chemical Reactions demonstration for General Science (Module 1). LOVE how that worked out!



Nathan is working on a character sketch for A Murder for Her Majesty. I picked up the book to read the first few chapters so that I could help him if he needed and I read the WHOLE book! (Finished it the next day). I think I can help him now, LOL. (This is a read-aloud for Core H, but he is doing the read-alouds as readers).

Both middle boys have started their cores (working on week 1), but we have not officially started school yet. Jordan won't be caught with a book in his hand until the last week of August, when he has to start!

Coming up. . . 

I still have our row of Truman's Aunt Farm to share with you and then I am planning to participate in the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop in August.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

How about an amateur photog tip? Do you know how to pickle? (not sure if there is a technical term for this or if I will explain it the best, or that there isn't a better solution out there, but this has helped me sooo much!)

(This will work with your digital SLR camera.) 

Photo subject is too dark (too much background light)
  1. Point your camera to an area of the room that is darker (ie, away from the window). 
  2. Hold the shutter button half way down until it beeps (this reads the light and will take the pic based on this light, rather than the light from the bright window)
  3. Then focus on the subject and take the pic. 
Too much light?
Try again, if it is too bright. Pickle on another area of the room. 

Better. Not the best, but better. 

I learned this just last year (from a homeschool dad).  I don't have time to shoot manual and mess with my aperture settings, (and I don't like to use my flash) so this is a quick fix! 

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We met a new homeschool family today. They came over to meet the kids and talk homeschool over lemonade! [squeal!]  I have a tendency to talk lots and fast when I am sharing about homeschool!  (Prayed for my passion to inspire and not overwhelm!) The time went by much too quickly. :) 

My favorite thing this week was…

Taking it easy!

What’s working/not working for us…




Boaz (19 months) is sooo busy, into everything, and/or wants me most of the time. This is fine if I am working in the kitchen, as he will play in the sink, play in the bean bucket, or fill containers with water from the Berkey (and spill it all over the floor - the only reason my floor gets mopped as often as it does, ha!) Nathan and Dylan are great to woo him outside to see the chickens or play in the water to give me a break or so that I can do school with Mali and Elli, but what will I do once school officially starts? Last year, each boy took a 30 minute rotation during the school morning, so that will give me 90 minutes in the morning once school starts ~ hoping that will work again! Thankfully, he takes a 3+ hour nap each day and will play in his crib when he wakes up!

Questions/thoughts I have. . . 

Thinking about what to do with the FI♥AR blog roll.  I'm not sure whether I should start a new one for 2012-2013 and have a new button made, or what!? Since most of the blogs on the blog roll do not link to the actual blog roll, I think I will start a new one, if I continue it. I was also thinking about doing a FI♥AR spotlight to shine the light on fellow rowers. But, I am not sure how much Five in a Row we will be doing this year or if I am the right one to do this. (I did not start the blog roll, but rather took it over for Tamara @ All of a Kind Family who is no longer rowing).  Thoughts?

I'm working on. . . 

Project Life {always} and getting ready for school to {officially} start.

I’m reading…

Read-aloud for Core A: Here's a Penny ~ sooo cute! Eliana asked if we could get two kittens for our "memory" for this book. ♥  Not sure I want a cat, let alone two right now, but I know how much she loves them and I want one for her. I asked her what she would name her kittens and she said, "I don't know." I said, "Well, that's three kittens: I, Don't, and Know."  She snickered that I didn't get what she meant, LOL, but of course I did and was just teasing her. :)

I’m cooking…


  • Crusty {No-Knead} Cheeseburger Bread (added burger, onions and cheddar to this awesome bread
  • Crock-pot potatoes for an easy meal (or easy fried potatoes)
  • Grilled chicken, corn-on-the-cob, green salad, and sliced cucumbers with fresh squeezed lime and sea salt {for Sabbath!}

I’m grateful for…
  • my husband's support in all that I do. 
  • answered prayer, even if the answer is no.
I’m praying for…
  • the opportunity to do 10 hours of clinical at the college so that I can renew my Dental Hygiene license. Praying the board will accept that as evidence of competency.
  • my husband to advance his career with the YMCA, even if it means staying where we are. . . or moving across three states. :)

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Did you see my redneck waterbed video yesterday? Someone stop me from making a bigger one!

Plastic + duct tape + water

= a homemade waterbed {aka "Redneck" Waterbed!} 

Thanks to Play at Home Mom for the inspiration and W@lm@rt for being out of heavyweight premium vinyl, forcing me to buy the cheap plastic vinyl (99 cents a yard) to cover my table, which would not work at all. So, rather then let the 9 foot long vinyl go to waste, I grabbed the duct tape and made a homemade waterbed! Ours was much smaller at 4.5 x 4.5 feet and water dripped from several spots along my tape job, but overall this was a huge success for spur of the moment and free! (See video below!) 



Malachi is learning about adjectives and smilies in his language arts, so I took this delightful learning opportunity to have him describe how it feels and how it sounds using smilies.












Perfect fun for a hot day! 
Then they all got on. (Nathan got off when I brought out the camera). 

I think I had as much fun making the following video as the kids had playing. :)


My Father's Dragon {Read Aloud}

A book and a simple, memory making moment. . .

My Father's Dragon: Sonlight Core A Read-Aloud {Weeks 5-7}
A funny, nonsense tale in which a little boy (Elmer Elevator) stows away on a ship bound for Wild Island. Once on the island, he cleverly out-wits some tigers, a rhinoceros, a lion, a gorilla and some crocodiles, with ordinary objects, like chewing gum, pink lollipops, rubber bands, a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, magnifying glasses, and even a hair brush and colored ribbons! Packed with 25 peanut butter sandwiches, six apples, and the tangerines he collects on the island of Tangerina, he embarks on an adventure to save a baby dragon. 

Tangelos {a variety of tangerine}
This was a really fun book from Sonlight Core A! 

Thank You!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comments and emails, for encouraging me, inspiring me, holding me accountable, and for being a friend!

What I really should have done, was take my feelings to Father and not the blog. But I was both hurt about what was said and sorry thinking that anyone would walk away from my blog feeling inadequate (the ideas I share are supposed to be a help!).

But, I am thankful I did. Your kind words were healing and I am encouraged. I feel a renewed encouragement to keep sharing, but to also share in a different way.

I am also reminded of why I blog - to document our homeschool journey, to encourage, inspire, motivate, and for accountability. Did you know that my blog actually encourages, inspires and motivates ME! Our days can be crazy and when I see our weeks come together in a blog post, I can see all that we did and it feels like an accomplishment! I don't feel a need for this as much with Sonlight because I can look at the Instructors Guide and SEE all that we did and feel just as accomplished. (This also means I don't feel a need to take as many photos, but I have an idea that I hope to share soon that I hope will help you no matter what curriculum you use or how much you "do!")

Why a need to feel accomplished? The dance with children always makes me feel like I am taking two steps forward one step back - on a good day! On bad days, it feels just the opposite - one step forward, two steps back and I never feel accomplished on those days. But, at the end of the week, they balance out and I feel like I am still taking at least one step forward and that encourages me to keep on plugging away!

I do sometimes have a lot of ideas in one post (please remember that they do not all happen at once!) and I hope that you can use some of themYou are most welcome to use them all, and while you certainly should not feel obligated to use them at all, I still want you to be inspired to make memories with your kids! And from reading your comments, I think most of you get this!

Each homeschool will look different! Thankfully! How boring it would be if we were all the same! I read some amazing posts that I could never write, but I praise God for them and for what He has equipped me to do!

Each of us is unique and special! I have some classic type A personality traits that are both good and bad. I am passionate, ambitious, rigidly organized (as much as I can be with a family of 8! I don't fight this battle because it makes me grumpy), can be sensitive, care for other people, am truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than I can handle, want other people to get to the point, am proactive. . . there's more: "People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving "workaholics" who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence," according to wikipedia. I am sure you can see how some of these qualities spill over into my blog life!   

I am not going to quit. But, I will be slowing down. (I had planned to slow down when I made the switch back to Sonlight, and didn't think I would even be rowing this summer!) I am not ready to part with FIAR, but this is a different season in my life and if I tried to keep up with myself, I'd quickly burn out. So I will do what I can, when I can. And I trust you will do the same! ;-)

I have this "thing" about not posting until I reply to comments and catch up on my email (otherwise, I get behind plus it keeps me from posting too much (!), and keeps me in touch with my readers on a personal level, but I made an exception to "my" rule (this is only my "rule" for me and I would never hold anyone else to it!), and posted to say thank you! There are many comments that I want to read again, think on, pray about, and reply to. . . when I can! :)


ETA: I am SO overwhelmed with all of your comments and emails that KEEP coming in! Thank you for each and every one {truly!}, but I have SO many that I cannot reply back!  But, I want you to know that they have been a HUGE source of encouragement to me! Thank you! 

Delightful Learning

I took a scroll through the FIAR Facebook group for the first time ever this morning while drinking my morning cup of decaf, and left in tears because of a comment regarding my blog, after a link to my Storm in the Night and weather unit was shared:

 "I can tell you that if I was starting brand new, and went to that site for ideas, I'd be TOTALLY intimidated! I'd just assume from the get-go that I did NOT have 'what it takes' to homeschool, if it HAS to look like that." 

This is not why I blog.

I blog to inspire "delightful learning."

Enough said?

Your homeschool does not HAVE to look like mine. And, um, my homeschool doesn't always look like that. And really, if you want a good picture of what our HOMEschool looks like then you need to read my WHOLE blog (not just my Five in a Row posts) and better yet, read my family blog, too. The post shared included a link to my day in the life series ~ a WHOLE week of our life shared day by day to show you more realness and answer your questions.

I just don't know what else I can do. . . (I really want to add "besides quit" right here, but I won't).

The Salamander Room {FI♥AR}


We are using Sonlight Core A this school year, but when I pulled out our first day-5 Science book, Tadpoles and Frogs, and realized that it is meant just for us to enjoy reading (no activities or discussion questions), I decided to focus on that book for our extra learning. . . which inspired me to pull out Five in a Row Volume 3 and row The Salamander Room! I am so happy I did ~ not only for the extra learning, but for the fun summer memories.

We rowed this over THREE weeks, but only after each week from core A was completed, and I only did activities that came naturally. But, when I am motivated and inspired, everything seems to come naturally! This is how I want Five in a Row to happen this year and why I believe Sonlight is to be our focus. I love having everything planned out, scheduled for me and ready to go! We are flying through Core A (we are on week 7) and I have to remember that we have our regular studies (math, language arts, etc.) to do, too! I just want to read, read, read! And my kids love it.

Week 1: Tadpoles, Frogs, and Pond Life

We added pond life to our study of tadpoles and frogs and went to the pond to see what we could see (was hoping to catch a frog, like we did when we rowed Play With Me, but we didn't). 

 
 
We saw turtles, fish, freshwater algae (pond scum), reeds, cattails and grasses growing in or along the pond. 
 
 
  
We did some frog life cycle crafts. . . 

 
 

 
 
A fun go along ~ Toad by the Road
Fun, easy to read poems with toadally cool facts. ;-) 

We did a nature study on lily pads. 
 
 




Malachi's

I read Apologia Elementary's Zoology 3: Land Animals, Lesson 11 (on amphibians) to Malachi and he did the notebooking page on the lifecycle of a frog. 



I ordered Insect Lore's frog life cycle stages and used water beads to make a frog life cycle sensory tub. 



They played hide and seek with the stages and named each stage as they found it. 

Week 2: Butterflies

We jumped ahead to include Caterpillars and Butterflies (a Core A day-5 science book for weeks 19-21).  We would not have enjoyed it as much in the wintertime, for sure! 

We found a butterfly in the backyard that let Nathan pick it up and hand it to Eliana. 








An awe-inspiring moment.

Eliana and I made an edible butterfly lifecycle. 



Edible Butterfly Life Cycle
  • cottage cheese on a leaf {eggs}
  • celery stick with hummus {caterpillar}
  • chocolate covered sprouted almond {pupa}
  • pretzels and p'nut butter cup {butterfly} with mandarin oranges and strawberries
he he, love that she wanted to be in the pic! 


I read Where Butterflies Grow ~ a beautiful book. 

and A Butterfly is Patient.

Eliana took this pic while I ran inside. :) 

I later read from Zoo 1: Flying Creatures on the lesson on Lepidoptera (butterflies are called leps).

The next day, we had a surprise in the mail ~ a butterfly kit from Insect Lore! This is our very first time raising butterflies. By the time they got to us, the caterpillars were already grown and started pupating the next day and we had butterflies within a week.











We kept them for a few days and then released them in the garden. 

We did a butterfly life cycle drawing and made a cute bag book using Lift and Look Science (that I bought during the Scholastic dollar days.) 

Malachi's Butterfly Lifecycle





We also did a Butterfly Pop Up book.

Week 3

Malachi made an illustrated list for our Salamander Room diorama, we had a party, and we went on a field trip to see Salamanders at Reptile Gardens!

Inspired by Cindy @ Mom Heart Home, I decorated our table with an Insect Toob and a Reptile Toob and displayed our "Salamander Room." 








For our party, we had:
  • butterfly nectar (mango nectar juice)
  • dirt cups (chocolate pudding with crushed cookie)
  • veggie flower tray
  • rainbow salad 
  • "frog eggs" (tapioca pudding)
  • "Salamander Rolls" (hot dogs with crescent rolls)
  • "beetles and beetle wings" (black olives and potato chips)

Dirt Cups ~ chocolate pudding with crushed chocolate chip cookies. 

Butterfly Nectar ~ mango nectar juice

Rainbow Salad

Veggie flower tray with homemade ranch dip

Beetle's wings

"Frog eggs"

"Salamander Rolls" ~ {Hebrew National} hot dogs with homemade crescent roll dough



Malachi's illustrated list for our Salamander Room

(to make the wet leaves, I brushed olive oil on the top of the leaves to make them look wet
and we used a floral moss sheet for the floor)
Our salamander room got lots of use by Eliana!





We took a field trip to Reptile Gardens, learned some fun facts about salamanders, and saw other amphibians and of course, reptiles.

Salamander ~ doesn't it look like he is smiling? :) 









July 4th, 2012


Back home, we were inspired to do more nature study and continued to find more things that Brian brought into his Salamander room, like mushrooms!




The Salamander Room is a Five in a Row selection from Volume 3. 

Delightful Links: