Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wrapping up 2014-15

Our 2014-15 school year is drawing to an end like a card game of Go Fish.  It was an incredible year!  Our year was everything I wanted for my children and more.  Here's a recap:

14 Year Old - Challenge A
My 14yo has 3 weeks left of Challenge A.  Her accomplishments:
  • She's finished Algebra I, and began Geometry. 
  • She's memorized 54 catechism questions relating to earth science and biology,
  • memorized countries and capitals around the globe and can draw them freehand,
  • has read 10 good books and will have written 10 persuasive essays on an ethical issue,
  • will have completed 15 lessons from Henle Latin, with a solid understanding of the vocabulary, rules, and grammar.
  • Researched, sketched, labeled, and presented biological topics and the 8 body systems for science
  • Learned multiple fallacies used to persuade and manipulate thinking
  • On the horizon is a dissection (which she will sit out, thank you very much.  Her 12 yo sister will take her place!), Blue Book assessments and a celebration, and delivery of a Christian Apologetics paper.
12 Year Old - Foundations and Essentials
My 12yo has 1 week left of Foundations and Essentials.  Her accomplishments:
  • Memory Master - Yay!  (throws confetti in the air) (this deserves a blog post...)
  • part way through Math 8/7 in Saxon (yes, we switched.  This deserves another blog post...)
  • Completion of several IEW style essays, including a biographical essay, Faces of History
  • 24 weeks of English grammar
  • Foundations: 24 weeks x 7 subjects = oh-my-goodness, this kid knows a lot of stuff to mastery!
  • On the horizon: a summer of math.  (booo! lol).  She'll sit in place of her sister's dissection (some kids like seeing guts, some kids don't). And I'll probably give her a heads up on a few things for Challenge A next year, knowing how she doesn't handle time-pressures well and large workloads.   
5 Year Old - Foundations
  • Seeing her sister pass Memory Master was good for her soul.  She has a renewed desire to be quizzed and to keep learning.
  • 3/4ths through her BJUP Kindergarten math book; learned counting to 100, skip counting by 5s and 10s, can write and identify numbers to 100, basic adding and subtracting to 6, calendar, telling time to the hour.
  • learned how to write all upper-case alphabet letters and numbers
What's in store for next year? This is still in the works:
  • 14yo would like to continue CC, but will probably jump up into Challenge 1 (skipping B).  I'm not opposed to Challenge B for her, and this has caused me some waffling.  It's all amazing, and I don't want her to miss a single thing!  However, I'm really thinking Challenge 1 for her, given her age, maturity, and academic abilities. We're not sure what campus, yet.  I'm still talking to oodles of people and finding out what our options are.  I'm willing to tutor it, but would need a campus that needs a Challenge 1 tutor and students to fill it:)  If not, looks like my daughter will be traveling 1+ hours away to make this year happen for her.
  • 12yo will be graduating into Challenge A at our local campus. Yay for simple things!
  • 6yo (currently 5yo) will attend her 3rd year of Foundations (Cycle 1) at whatever campus we're at.  Most likely this will be our local campus; however, if I tutor Challenge at a different campus, then she'll go with me.
The hardest thing about CC for us has been finding the Challenge levels when we need them.  Sometimes, the levels we've needed have been at least 1.5 hours away (given that Michigan = icy roads, then double that in a snow storm).  I have offered to start and run the Challenge levels here, but CC has not taken off yet in the general homeschool arena; therefore, we have not had the student interest needed for it to run.  I predict that in 5 years time, CC will take off like wild fire, here, and the problem will then be finding parents willing to head up Challenge. However, this doesn't help me now, in my time of need.  I'm sure, though, that someday I'll look back at our overall jr high and high school experience and say "God has provided when the time was right".  I look forward to seeing what that means for the 2015-16 year, lol!

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I'm not sure how I will organize literature on my daughter's transcript. For now, I will make a list of academic books she has read. I will categorize them later.
Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy (complete series) by Douglas Adams - Science Fiction
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - British literature
Emma by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Challenge A literature:
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
Carry on Mr Bowditch
The Magician's Nephew
Number the Stars
Amos fortune free man
The Secret Garden
The Door in the Wall
A Gathering of Days
Crispin and the Cross of Lead
The Bronze Bow

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The trickiest part of a homeschool parent is finding balance, amidst a myriad of subjects and tasks to manage.These tasks, as homeschool parents, is like carrying a big load of laundry in your arms up the stairs. You grab a big handful of clothing, but articles casually spill over, under, and out of your arms as you take each step upward. There goes a sock. Next, your 4 year old's undies (of course there are undies in the livingroom. Do I really need to explain this?) And then a few more socks and a pair of pants. There's a t-shirt at the top of the stairs and a toy car falls out and hits your toe (why is that in the pile?). At first, you keep grabbing things and stuffing them back into your arms, but eventually you just keep trucking, get the mass into the washing machine, and vow to pick up the trail of articles later.

So too is our homeschool year. I've learned that a lot of little things will drop out along the way. In the past, I've moaned and fretted at each lost item. I caught up things as they fell, only to lose something else. Now, I think I've found a good (relatively decent) way of balancing things:

1. Aim high. If you don't shoot for the stars, you'll never reach them.

2. Celebrate what you *have* accomplished (and don't worry about all the little things that didn't happen).

3. If gaps or problems arise from the things that fell out of your grasp, you can go back later and make those the central focus. But until then, don't worry about them.

If you follow these steps, you should be celebrating more, right? And these successes should spur you onward! It's the focus on failures, or that we can never measure up that prevents us from doing great and amazing things. But if we tweak our perspective a bit, we can focus on all the things we can do, will do, have done, and suddenly, we're unstoppable.


Yes, even in laundry.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Drop Off, Not Drop Out

I read this article on Classical Conversations today, and wanted to post a 1st time Challenge A Mom's perspective:

The article rang true here!  As the article states, Challenge A is like Foundations on steroids:)  I'm trying to be the best, most supportive Challenge A mom I can be, all while tackling hard subjects (Latin, ugh!) and balancing Essentials charts with my 12 year old, and kindergarten stuff with my 5 year old.  Phew!

Last year, I bemoaned that fact that so few Challenge moms were actually blogging about their lives.  Now, I get it.  It's another case of - "just when life got so interesting that it became material to blog about, the blogger just doesn't have time to write it".

However, I thought I'd grab a few moments to expound upon Dropping Off, Not Dropping Out for this Challenge A mom.  The article seems to be a Challenge B (?) perspective, and I'm not there yet (goodness, you mean next year we do Logic, too?)  Some things I DO drop out of, because I cannot do it all.  And some things get done, even if laundry suffers and we all have to re-wear yesterday's underwear (I'm just being dramatic.  I'd never!)

I keep up on my daughter's math lesson, just to say that I did.  It's actually a huge confidence booster, because I was lousy at math in high school.  I'm wondering if I can put Algebra I on my resume someday and impress the socks off my future employer.  I definitely feel impressive. But seriously, math builds upon itself, and the best way I can help my daughter is to be able to do the math myself. I am also modeling this life-long learning thing.  Also, it gives me fuel to say "you have to do it because I did it".

I'm entering the world of Adjectives, and ugh!  Let me tell you, if ever there was a moment that I could drop out of my daughter's schoolwork, it would be now.  (I said this about 3rd Declension Nouns, and I'm sure I'll say this again when we begin conjugating verbs...)

Reading/Essay Writing
I try to read the new novel that gets assigned every 3 weeks, unless I've already read it before (Narnia was my freebie, the rest I've had to read).  I also have kept up on the Lost Tools of Writing videos to know what skills are being taught.  I had a brief falling short, and after some mild confusion, watched the videos and caught back up.  Now, the second semester, has a lot of review/practice of learned concepts, so the writing portion should be easier.

What I don't do
As I mentioned above, I have "dropped out" of some subjects.  I do not learn the Geography or practice drawing maps (I  DO practice map drawing for my Foundations students, but that's a much easier pace than Challenge A map drawing).  I praise my daughter's efforts and engage in her map drawing.  I quiz her at her request when she's memorizing features or capitals.

I have not followed Fallacy Detective or It Couldn't Just Happen.  I'm hoping to read these over summer break and be better prepared for my next up-coming Challenge A student.  I DO chat with my daughter on these subjects, ask her questions, and learn more about the fallacies as she explains them to me.  I quiz her on the catechism questions.

I do not research my own animals for science:)  I DO proofread my daughter's papers, or help her find sources, or help her with the Bibliography. 

As you can tell, I try to keep up with the hardest subjects.  I check in with my daughter on her other subjects to make sure she is giving it her best and managing her time.  I check in with her tutor on occasion to see how she is doing in the classroom setting.  As difficult as it sounds, it is fantastic when all the connections get made and my daughter and I can share in some neat new revelation. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Back to School

A beautiful site this Tuesday morning...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dog proof waffle storage

The dog will not get my waffles!