Sunday, March 29, 2009

One more spring picture

A spring snowstorm came through yesterday! It started with several hours of rain, then freezing rain, and then finally snow. I stepped outside during the storm to get one last look at the emerging blooms on our weeping cherry tree (above) in case they didn't survive the storm. We didn't get anywhere near the 6-10 inches that was predicted, but it made for some beautiful scenery. This morning as we drove to church we marveled at how beautiful the sun made all the ice-coated trees sparkle and glimmer. But then during church, everything started to melt. All through the sermon we were startled by ice and snow sliding off the roof. After lunch the kids went outside to get in a couple of sled runs before it was too late, and somehow that turned into wading in the creek in the woods! By evening most of the snow was gone. What a crazy weekend of weather.

I may be MIA the next several days on the blog. I have to finish our taxes and prepare for a trip to Florida I'm taking with my friend Carrie next week. Hopefully later in the week I will have a chance to tell you why. It has something to do with one of the books on my Spring Reading Thing list. I'm also overdue on telling about our Iditarod project, so maybe I can get to that too. Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Give-Away Winner and Spring Reading Thing 2009

First, the moment BOTH of you have been waiting for -- who had the closest guess to Grace's favorite letter?

The winner of my small give-away is Andrea! Congratulations!

So what is Grace's favorite letter? She said the letter 'E' because, "if you add it to the end of a word it makes the vowel sound long."

Well, doesn't that just make a homeschool mom's heart proud!

So, Andrea, send me an email with a mailing address, and I will send you ABC Poem of the Week. I will have to do another give-away someday, something that will interest all of my readers. I may have a small following, but I love each and every one of your encouraging comments!

It's time for the Spring Reading Thing at Callapidder Days! I didn't do too well with the Fall Challenge, finishing only a third of my not-so-big list. Another third of that list is still in progress, and I did read a couple of books that never made it to the list. But spring is a time of new beginnings, so I'm not going to let my unfinished fall list get me down. I am going to be realistic though. I am not going to be able to finish a huge amount of reading before summer because we have a lot going on in the next few months. And as much as I'd like to sit down with a good novel, I really need to do some autism and homeschooling reading right now, so I'm limiting my list to those topics. I'll have to get my fiction fix from reading with the kids. And now for my Spring Reading Thing 2009 list:

Autism Books

The Fabric of Autism by Judith Bluestone: I actually started reading this last week, and it is very different from most autism books I've read. The author, who passed away just last month, had autism herself and does an amazing job describing what it is like dealing with the difficulties and challenges someone on the spectrum faces. I will be blogging more about this book soon, including the reason why I am reading the book.

The RDI Book by Steven E. Gutstein, Ph.D.: I had the old outdated RDI book on my fall list, but never got to it. Now I don't have to because I just preordered this book that gives the latest and greatest of RDI. I also ordered two other RDI books, My Baby Can Dance, and RDI and Education, so these three books should keep me busy. We are really in need of a jump-start with RDI again, so I'm hoping these books will do just that.

Homeschooling Books

Charlotte Mason's Series ~

Home Education in Modern English: Volume 1
School Education in Modern English: Volume 3
Towards a Philosophy of Education in Modern English: Volume 6

I've been convinced for a while that I need to add in more Charlotte Mason elements into our homeschool, but have just not had the time to think through what changes need to be made. Jennefer over at Smooth Stones Academy has inspired me to finally read Charlotte Mason's series that has been translated into Modern English. My goal is to read these three volumes, maybe not by June but hopefully before we start our new school year in July.

I would also love to finish up the three books from my fall list that I started, two of which are very close to being done.

Come join me at the Spring Reading Thing 2009!

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Spring!

It's the first official day of spring!!! And I've prepared a little celebration with music, pictures and even a fun craft.

Here is a slide show of some images from Spring 2006 at Blue House Academy and around town. Right now we're just starting to see signs of spring, but this is what it will look like very soon -- I can't wait! The music is from one of our favorite Cd's, Beethoven's Wig 2. If you're not familiar with these Cd's please go check out their website. My kids love all four volumes. You will recognize this song, "It's Spring!" as Vivaldi's Spring, from The Four Seasons.

Doesn't that put you in a happy mood? Okay, now it's craft time. The same year I took the above pictures I was asked to come up with a craft for Anna's 2nd grade spring class party (this was when she was still going to Christian school), and it turned out much better than I expected.

After a dozen tries this was the best picture I could get, so my apologies if it's hard to see (you can click the image to enlarge though). Here is what the text says:

"Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming garb of spring; J e s u s is fairer, J e s u s is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing." From the hymn, Fairest Lord Jesus

This creates a great opportunity to incorporate hymn study. And if you don't know about The Cyber Hymnal go check it out because it will give you the words, lyrics and tune to just about any hymn, including Fairest Lord Jesus.

Want to try the craft project? Here's what you need to do:


6 inch sqaure cork tiles (found at most major craft stores)

8.5 x 11 cardstock (a pretty spring green color looks best)

favorite photo of a spring scene (mine was trimmed to 4 3/4" width and 3 1/4" heighth)

twigs from your backyard or park

scrap of coordinating ribbon


First, you want to print the text on your cardstock. You're welcome to use my template, found here. Make sure your photo will fit in the space. After you have printed the cardstock, trim off excess paper. Using glue or tape, affix the photo to the cardstock.

I tied a knot at the top of the ribbon so it would hang better, but that step is optional. Staple the ribbon to the back of the cork. Then using a hot glue gun, affix the cardstock to the cork.

Trim the twigs with garden clippers to fit the edges of the cork. Hot glue the twigs around the picture to create a frame. We were able to find some interesting curly twigs that added a nice touch in the bottom corner.

All done!

Kids and parents alike seemed to enjoy this project, and three years later I still have Anna's hanging on the refrigerator. If you do this project I would love to hear about it, or better yet, see it. Just leave me a comment or send me and email.

So even if everything still looks brown outside like it does here, take heart that it is officially spring and color is coming soon. Happy Spring!

P.S. If you have a preschooler be sure to check out yesterday's post.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gracie's Alphabet Book (and a small give-away)

In a recent post I showed the shoebox bunny we made to help Grace learn her alphabet and other things. The trip down memory lane made me think of a few other alphabet resources we enjoyed, so I thought I would share.

First we made an alphabet book for Grace that we just kept in a clear binder. The cover was just made from a picture I found probably on Microsoft Clipart.

Next we pasted some coloring sheets on the inside pages for each letter of the alphabet. For some reason she wanted the cow to have clothes, so that's why it's green and blue!

There are a million alphabet printables available online, but here are the links for the ones we used.

While Grace colored I would read her a silly poem from this book.

Each letter has its own poem and some activity suggestions. Here is a sample:

Silly Sisters Sing

Their stage awaits them and the curtain is set.
Silly sisters sing.
But they giggle too much -- they're not ready yet.
Silly sisters sing.
Once they begin, it's the words they forget.
Silly sisters sing.
So they dance and sing the alphabet!
Silly sisters sing.


* What if the silly sisters were snakes? What would they sound like? (ssssssss) Invite the children to say or sing the Alphabet song as if they were the silly sister snakes! ...

Finally, here is a fun game we found that helps with remembering the order of letters.

Ah, if I could just always homeschool a preschooler! Teaching the alphabet was a lot more fun than multiplying decimals! Are you homeschooling a preschooler? If so, I would love to give you a little present. Leave me a comment guessing what Grace's favorite letter is and I will send the person with the closest guess our copy of ABC Poem of the Week for free. And if no one comments, then it's going in the For Sale pile with the steep price of $1.50! I told you it was a small give-away. You have until Monday-ish to submit your comment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Week 26 in Review

Maybe it's spring in the air, but we seem to be over our winter slump since we've had two good weeks in a row. Many of our books are nearing the end, and I think that gives us a little bit extra motivation to finish strong. This week I'm going to tackle our review by subject rather than child to sum up where we are and what we still hope to accomplish this school year.

Reading: Stay the course! I may not get to sell The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading at this year's used curriculum sale like I hoped, but that's okay. Grace may not be on The Well Trained Mind pace, but she is still doing a great job of reading. She seems to be following in her siblings' footsteps -- they both love to read. Having a love for reading is more important than finishing Ordinary Guide by June. Grace is also working on Adventures in Phonics A and is more than halfway through the book. I'll have to see how the later pages work out with OG, but so far AIP is serving as good review for concepts we cover in OG.

Another way I've departed from TWTM is that Ryne uses "readers," books of short stories to be used as reading exercises. Bauer and Wise feel reading texts turn reading into a chore, and I agree with them to a point. Anna had a reading textbooks at her second Christian school, and I thought they were awful. But her first school used books from Christian Liberty Press and Abeka that were very enjoyable, so I have used them with Ryne as well. The stories work very well with some reading strategies I have learned through RDI as well, so I think we will continue these readers for at least another year. He still has two of his Abeka readers left, which will carry us into next year.

We have read so many wonderful books this year for all our joint subjects, history, fine arts, science, etc. Anna also does a lot of independent reading for these subjects. At the end of the school year I will be posting a complete list of all the books we've read.

Math: We are not married to a complete a book-in-a-year schedule for math. Since Math U See is mastery based program, we just move on when we are ready. We will continue to do math a few times a week through our summer break. I am very happy with the progress they have all made this year.

Grammar: Ryne is on pace to finish First Language Lessons 3 in May, and Anna will finish Rod and Staff Grammar 5 sometime in June. Both are doing very well with this subject, and it is one of the easiest for me to teach because of the great materials (and maybe because I have a secret love for sentence diagramming).

Writing: Grace is still doing well with Handwriting Without Tears, and begs to learn cursive like her siblings. Ryne's writing is in the form of daily copywork passages and the occasional dictation exercises found in FLL 3. This seems to be working well for him, although I plan to take another look at Writing With Ease at the homeschool convention. Now this is where I get to confess I'm not doing so great with writing for Anna. Everything else she excels at, but she is a reluctant writer. Part of the problem is that I started homeschooling her in 3rd grade and I didn't understand how to start copywork and dictation for someone who was already stuck in her school ways. It's been a struggle ever since. So this year we have just done some exercises in Wordsmith Apprentice and in a week she will complete the second of her Outlining workbooks. My plan, not just for writing but homeschooling in general, is to incorporate more Charlotte Mason methods, so I am going to be paying special attention to this subject and coming up with a better plan for next year. You may see me in the coming months asking questions about writing on some of the homeschool forums!

Foreign Language: Can we skip this one? Anna is on Chapter 6 in Latin for Children B even though we started the book in the fall. I'm still sold on LFC, and we will continue to work on it through the summer, but our slow progress is an indication that Latin is not our highest priority. Even so, Anna continually amazes me with all the derivatives she notices in our reading and everyday language. Song School Latin, on the other hand, is going great and is a favorite part of the week for Ryne and Grace. Anna also recently started Rosetta Stone French and loves it. We'll see where that leads, since this was a sort of bonus subject for her.

Logic: Anna is about half done with Mind Benders B2, which I think puts her in good shape according to TWTM. We've also done several exercises from Red Herrings. Ryne has also been working through Building Thinking Skills Level 1 and loving it. It was a late addition to this year's curriculum, so it will take him well into next year.

Spelling: I never mention spelling in my posts, because we haven't really been following a formal plan. Anna is a natural speller, so we just work on practicing spelling bee words. For a while she had dreams of being a competitive speller, but once she read books on what kind of study habits were involved and developed other interests, that fell to the wayside. Plus, we were not able to find a bee to participate in this year that was linked to the Scripps program, so then she lost all motivation to work on spelling. We recently started preparing for our local homeschool bee, so we will see how that goes. She has won the last two years. The first was a nail-biter between her and a few other kids, but last year she won by default because no one else in her grade signed up. She's hoping for some competition this year, even though it makes her very nervous.

We've skipped spelling for Ryne this year, because I try to keep his academics at a minimum and I didn't think it was the best use of our time. He does better with a program like Spelling Power rather than a workbook, so it requires one-on-one time from me. At the beginning of the year he was above grade level for spelling, so it seemed like a good place to cut back. I will test him again this summer, and re-evaluate for next year. Grace won't start spelling for another year or two.

Bible: We are almost done with Discovering Jesus Through Genesis, and we will spend the rest of the year working on some additional memory work and reviewing some of the stories from this year. Our Bible plan may not look as detailed as some other homeschoolers, but that is because our church also requires a lot from the children in preparation for Sunday School and Catechism. And of course, one of the main benefits of homeschooling, is being able to weave the Bible through all our subjects.

History: We just have five more chapters in Story of the World 2. We have put the book aside the last few weeks to focus on the Reformation, but will still finish it in early April. What an amazing time we've had studying the Middle Ages. Some of you may be wondering how we finished this so quickly. Here is what we do: Monday we listen to a chapter of CD and do the mapwork (Grace will often do one of the coloring pages in this time), Tuesday we read books suggested usually in the Activity Guide or the Veritas Press catalog, and Wednesday we either continue to read or we start in on a new chapter and repeat the process. On Friday we finish up any extra reading, add figures to our timeline, and if there was a special project in the SOTW Activity Guide that caught our interest we do it then. We do a lot of reading, but not as many of the hands on projects. We do our history in the afternoon, so I guess by then we just prefer to curl up with a good book. So by not doing as many projects, and by doing history every day we are able to make good progress. This approach would not fit every family, but it works well for us.

Science: I did not get the science genes in my family -- those went to my rocket scientist sister (seriously-- she has a degree in aerospace engineering and even did a stint at NASA). So when we spend a little too much time reading history (my favorite and strenght), it usually comes at the expense of science and that is why we still have half of Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space left. The good news is that because we are finishing history early, we can replace that time with science (and fine arts, which I will get to next). Maybe I'm just making excuses, but I think this will be for the best anyway, because soon we will get into the astronomy portion and it will be much more enjoyable to look at the stars in the warmer weather! Grandpa gave us a nifty telescope for Christmas, and this week I'll be taking a class to learn how to use it, so we are looking forward to our stargazing sessions.

Fine Arts: We have been doing fairly well with composer studies, but terrible with artist studies. And as far as actual art's bad. My mom who passed away almost 4 years ago was an art teacher. She left us enough art supplies to open a Dick Blick store, and my art library would make any art teacher jealous. Moreover, my kids all love to draw and create. Yet this seems to be the biggest disappointment in our homeschool. I'm sad just writing about it.

And now I give myself the award for the most boring weekly review ever! But, wow, is it ever helpful for me to evaluate what we've accomplished this year and what we still have left to do. I've seen many homeschoolers posting their detailed lesson plans for next year, but I'm not there yet. I have some ideas of things I still want to look at, and I know some of the key things I need to buy at the convention next month, but I think the majority of my planning will take place over the summer. Last year I started my planning early and was looking forward to the fall a little too much and then wasn't as excited about what we were currently doing. Not that it's bad to plan early. This has just always been one of my personal weaknesses. As a college student I always was tempted during finals to spend my time studying the course catalog for the next sememster! So in a way I'm trying to guard myself against that temptation by focusing on finishing strong (and maybe even a little better).

Happy Homeschooling!

image from Microsoft clipart

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Cinderella Story

A lifetime ago Anna celebrated her third birthday with a "slumber party" that only lasted until 8 o'clock in the evening. Her cute little three and four year old friends came over in their princess nightgowns, popped popcorn, and watched the Disney version of Cinderella. What little girl doesn't love the tale of Cinderella?

Until I studied history with my kids I had no idea just how many little girls (and, yes, boys too) have loved Cinderella over the years and around the world. For the past two years we have been using The Story of the World to explore ancient times and the Middle Ages, relying on the activity guides for many of our literature selections. Susan Wise Bauer has done a great job of finding Cinderella stories for most of the different cultures we have studied the last two years. The first time we read one of these stories my kids said, "It's like Cinderella!" But by the sixth version, they were comparing and contrasting the different versions and their cultures. Some of the books have been better than others, but collectively they have been a wonderful addition to our understanding of literature and history.

Below are the Cinderellla stories we've read so far. It seems like there have been more, but glancing through my reading log and the activity guides, these are all I could find. What we need to do now is find a good English version to read, so I came upon this site that has all kinds of Cinderella information (and here's another one). Have any Cinderella resources you would like to share? Just let me know in the comments or email me, and I'll update this post.

Here's to happy endings!

Top image from TraderSam at Flickr

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Week 25 in Review

We did it! A full week of school! All subjects covered! Even a fun art project! Aaaahhhh, it feels good to be back. Well, I don't know if "back" is the appropriate word since we rarely get this much done even in our good weeks. But after being in a slump for two months we needed a week like this.

Grace: She is still quite the eager beaver when it comes to school work, and she now has her routine down pat. She does her phonics worksheet, handwriting, and math almost independently now. Next she does her reading lesson which continue to be quicker these days. Then we spend a few minutes on her memory verse for Sunday School and some additional memory work. So far this year she has memorized her phone number, complete address, complete date of birth, and the days of the week. We review all these on Mondays and then work on new memory work the rest of the week. Currently she is working on memorizing the months of the year. I've been trying to find some cute coloring pages for the months, so if you know of any please tell me in the comments section. Twice a week she does Song School Latin with Ryne, and once a week she does a page in her Map Skills book. Recently we started Bible Stories to Read and Bible Pictures to Color by Rod and Staff, which have become favorites of hers. It sounds like a lot of work for a Kindergartner, but she gets all this done in about an hour (sometimes that hour is spread out a bit because I'm helping the other two). When she's done she usually draws or plays in the backyard.

Ryne: Planning Ryne's curriculum for next year should be pretty easy because we are very happy with everything he is currently using. I've already sung my praises for Math U See many times, but another big winner is First Language Lessons 3. He did very well with FLL 1 & 2 as well, which has made this year even better because he already had many of the definitions memorized. I like the variety in the lessons (he loves the poems) and the simple layout of the workbook. So we will continue with FLL 4, but that is as far as Peace Hill Press has gone with the series. I read in a magazine a while back that they planned to continue the series, but have seen conflicting reports on the internet. Anna does fine with Rod and Staff, but I'm not sure it's the best fit for Ryne. But this is all a problem for another day!

Ryne also continues to make improvement in reading comprehension. This week we finished reading a section on flies in the Christian Liberty Nature Reader 3. We read how flies often will play dead after you swat them, so later in the day when I swatted a fly in our classroom we took out the magnifying glass and watched him do just that! After a minute or so his legs started to twitch and he came back to life. Ryne got a big kick out of this, and I was thankful for the opportunity to reinforce the reading material.

Anna: She really enjoyed starting her Rosetta Stone French lessons, now that we finally got the headphones/microphone working. I've decided to try having her do Latin on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and French on Tuesday/Thursday, so we'll see how that goes. Anna also finally conquered the dreaded Zeta Lesson 9 on multiplying decimals. It turned out to be not that big a deal once we both sat down and worked through the first page together. She has also started preparing for the homeschool spelling bee which will take place in May. I just found out this week that I will be coordinating the spelling bee (yikes!), so I'm sure you'll hear more about this in the coming months.

History: We have slowed down considerably so we can spend some extra time on the Reformation. So far we've just covered the SOTW chapter on Martin Luther and the Renaissance, but we will be taking some detours in the next couple of weeks and Anna has several books she will be reading on this period. Here are a few favorites so far:

(More coming as soon as I dig through Anna's room!)

Science: We finished up our chapter on the Atmosphere with a fun project to help us remember the different layers.

And a couple of favorite books for this unit:

Music: The kids have loved learning about Johann Sebastian Bach, probably because there are some wonderful children's book about him. We also listened to the Classical Kids Mr. Bach Comes to Call and other CDs.

Art: As I said at the beginning of this post, art was not skipped this week. In our study of the Renaissance we read about many of the famous artists of the time, including Michelangelo. We read about how he spent four years painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. After making good use of my Google skills, I found a neat idea that gave the kids a feel for the hard work involved in such a project. I taped paper to the bottom of their desks and had them lie on the backs to paint. It was so much fun and very messy (which the kids loved). The timing worked out perfectly though because Marc came home from work just in time to give Grace a bath!


Things went so wonderful this week, that I'm sure this post sounds boastful, but that is certainly not the intention. The reality is that weeks this perfect are rare, but what matters is what happens throughout the course of the year, or even a lifetime for that matter. If I don't keep things in perspective, I am likely to become extremely discouraged when things don't go as well next week. So I'm grateful to God for both weeks like this and the bad ones.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I'd like to thank the academy...

Um, I mean I'd like to thank Donna at Tootlebugz (she's also Go Alongs in my sidebar) for giving me my first ever blog award! I feel a little guilty accepting an award when I've been such a bad blogger lately. I wish everyone could read all the great posts I come up with in the shower each morning.

I'm not sure if this award was just a temporary thing because of the real Academy Awards or if I'm still supposed to keep passing it on, but I decided to pass it because who knows if I'll ever get another chance! And the award goes to:

Sharon from Equip Academy -- My kids think it's cool I have a cyber friend in Australia. She is always full of wisdom and is a great mum.

Jennie from Blooming Where He Plants Me -- Jennie is a fellow autism mom, just not as far down the road as we are. She's in the really tough years, yet her deep trust in God is evident in every post she writes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weeks 22-24 in Review weekly reviews are turning into monthly reviews. Just when we thought we were out of our slump...BAM!...I came down with a cold. Then throughout the month the kids came down with colds of varying degrees. Anna was out of commission for almost a week.

We have also had lots of visitors lately, which I hate to list as an excuse because we really enjoyed each of these visits. Our church is currently looking for a new pastor, and because Marc is an elder in our church we've had the privilege to host some of the visiting pastors that served as pulpit supply. So far we've had three young men fresh out of seminary stay with us, and it is greatly encouraging to see God raise up terrific men for the ministry. We learned so much from each of them and really enjoyed their company. One of the men also brought his wife and his young daughter, whom Grace bonded with instantly. I'm hopeful we will get to see them again soon. I wish the third man who stayed with us had been able to bring his family -- his wife is a homeschooler who buys organic food and carts kids to swim team everyday, so I think we would have been able to find a few things to talk about! We also had wonderful visits from Grandpa and his two dogs, and a couple of weeks later Marc's sister and her husband made a quick visit.

Looking back on all of that, it is easy to see why I've been inconsistent with weekly reports and blogging in general. School suffered as well, making our homeschool slump last for two straight months. I've had to really fight back feelings of failure the last several weeks and resist the urge to compare myself to all the bloggers whose homeschools seem to be going so well. I have however noticed that several of blogs I read have been quiet lately, so maybe I'm not alone in my struggles to keep up with everything.

Nevertheless, some great things happened in February. We've been having a fantastic time with our Iditarod study which I am going to blog about in a separate post once the race starts. I already blogged about our field trip to
Mini Town, but earlier that week we had another great field trip. The kids got to take a tour of a local news station. Of course this was the worst day of my cold, so my wonderful husband volunteered to take the kids (thank you, Honey!). At the end of the tour the kids were on TV for the last few seconds of the noon newscast, and I got to see them live (from the couch at home in my pajamas).

It helps to have connections: The tour guide (to the right of Ryne) goes to our church.

The kids got to play in front of the weather screen.

Ryne, who has a screen addiction, probably thought this room was the best place on earth!

About to go live on the lunch hour newscast...for all of three seconds!

And this is what happens when Dad takes the kids on a field trip (and he even took a picture of it!).

Academically speaking, February has been a turning point for Grace. She has turned into a reader on her own. We've been plugging through The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. Overall we both like this book, but it just seems like it is taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get through it, so it's easy to think of it as drudgery. But over the last few weeks Grace has just starting reading everything she sees -- even stuff that is still many lessons down the road in her reading book. As a result her reading lessons are going very quickly now, because in many cases it's review of what she has already picked up naturally. So even though we're only on Lesson 94 (out of 230) she's doing remarkably well. She's also been doing fantastic with math. Her experience with Math U See Alpha is much like Ryne's. She struggled with the concept and the MUS way of teaching addition of 9's, but once she mastered that lesson she was able to easily transfer the concept to her 8's and 7's and is now on a roll.

Ryne has also been doing great with math. Beta is giving him no problems, and his speed has really picked up. He is eager to get into multiplication in Gamma so he can answer the questions on Nintendo DS Brain Age (at least the game is good for something). We're still only on Lesson 13 though, so he's going to have be patient. Anna, on the other hand, struggled with math for the first time since starting Math U See (or even since we started homeschooling). Zeta's Lesson 9 had both of us stumped for several weeks. Since MUS teaches the "why" of math, sometimes a simple thing like multiplying decimals can seem difficult at first. I'm sure we could have made better progress if our schedule hadn't been interrupted by illness. Anna can be very critical of herself, so this struggle was hard on her.

I don't write often about our extracurricular activities, but they are an integral part of our homeschooling experience. Anna wrapped up her short course swim season yesterday, so we have a couple of months off from swim meets. I am so proud of the progress she has made this year (her second year of swim team). She became very competitive in her 100 yard breast stroke, until she had her birthday in January. Once she turned 11 she had to move up to a new age group, so she went from being in the top tier of breaststrokers to the bottom half of the pack. I had to keep reminding her that her that there's a big difference physically between someone who just turned 11 and someone who is almost 13. She has high goals set for next year, so I'm sure her time will come again.

Ryne finished out the month with his Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet where he received his Bear badge. It was a fun evening, and I am pretty sure Ryne is the most handsome scout ever!

Last but not least, we have started piano lessons again. It's been six months since Anna had a lesson and more than a year since Ryne last had a lesson. We found an excellent teacher who comes to our house on Wednesday mornings for lessons, and I am just loving this arrangement. While one kid takes their lesson I can work with the others in our school room. The teacher uses a much different method than our previous teacher and it seems to be making a huge difference in keeping Ryne engaged. He has incredible music potential, but it's a struggle to keep him motivated. The first time he started piano he loved it so much he played all day long and even wrote his own music. Then one day he just stopped and he couldn't focus during lessons, so we quit. Now he seems to be interested again, so we'll see. He can play by ear and picks up music reading skills pretty quickly. Anna too seems to be thriving under the new instruction. Grace is excited to be taking lessons for the first time. Now the biggest challenge is for me to get us into the habit of practicing consistently.

For any of you who actually read this far, bless you! My weekly reviews are mostly for my own benefit to record what is happening in our school year. I try to spice them up by adding favorite books or resources that others might want to use, so I will get back to that with the next review.

Happy Homeschooling!