Friday, August 10, 2012

School Room Switch-a-Roo

I have been one spoiled homeschool mom.  I had the best homeschool room a mom could wish for. It was spacious with lots of natural light and an incredible view of the woods.  We even had a special tree outside the window that provided some of our best bird watching moments.  There was plenty of storage space, and it had it's own bathroom.  It was a multi-purpose room that housed our guests, held all my craft supplies, and it contained the only television in the house -- so I guess that made it our family room too.  

We actually called it the office, because before it was a school room or a guest room it was our office/junk room.  So for our five-plus years of homeschooling, my morning call has been, "It's time to go to the office!"  No, I didn't make them wear ties or carry brief cases. ; )

You may have picked up on the fact that I'm referring to the school room in past tense. {Sigh}  

I had to give up my beloved school room.

When we bought the Blue House 11 years ago, we didn't know we needed a school room.  We didn't even know we needed an extra kid bedroom, because Grace wasn't born yet.  The house was way bigger than anything we had had before, so it was easy to look over it's limitations.  But the bedroom situation has been a problem for years.  I'm embarrassed to say our 14-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son are still sharing a bedroom.  

It's too complicated to go into as to why we've let this drag on for this long, but we've been trying for years to come up with an alternative.  We thought we'd try finishing the basement ourselves and put a bedroom down there.  We even got it partially framed (the "we" being Marc and my brother-in-law), but then Marc got a promotion that required more travel and the basement project was put on indefinite hold.  

So the girls are now moving into the old school room/office, Ryne is moving into Grace's old bedroom, and the school room is moving into Ryne's old bedroom (that Anna was also sharing).  


It certainly has been a confusing transition.  Originally we figured we'd just move the school room to Grace's room.  But the room has two walls of windows, leaving very little wall space.  There was no way to fit our school room essentials in there.  Plus, it has an itty-bitty, teeny-tiny closet, so it made more sense to put Ryne in there.  

Here is Ryne's old room, which will now be our school room.


It made me very sad to have to take down the goodnight sign I hand-painted when Ryne was a baby.  He's 13 now, so I had to pack away several items that are too babyish. {sniff}

Let me tell you, it's been fun trying to figure out how to fit everything into a room a third the size of our previous school room!  It's been good for me though.  Even with all that space, stuff got buried and I forgot all about it.  I've been forced to part with many things and decide what's really worth keeping.

Ryne's new room is almost complete -- just waiting to get Anna out of the top bunk, so we can remove the bottom bunk and put his desk underneath. 

The school room is almost done.  I have a long weekend of work to do, but I'm hopeful I'll be able to show pictures for the Blog Hop on Monday.

The girls' room is a disaster.  There is still stuff in there that either needs to get tossed or find a new home.  The walls need to be painted.  I wish we could get rid of the carpet, but it's looking like that's not in the plan right now.  So next week I'll be focusing on getting that room at least done enough that the girls' can start sleeping in there.  Right now Grace sleeps in a big chair in our master bedroom and Anna's "closet" is on the living room floor.  

This chaos must stop.

Pray for me. : )

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jr. Olympics, birthday celebration, and a convention all in one week {whew!}

Back in March I wrote about how Anna decided to focus on running over swimming, and we were all looking forward to how she'd do in track now that she could concentrate on one sport.  She got off to a good start, breaking a team record in the 300 hurdles the very first time she competed in the event. But by the second meet, things weren't looking good. Her times were slow and her right foot was hurting. We debated whether we should take her to the doctor but decided to wait another week.

The following Monday when I picked her up from school, she was in tears. A boy had jumped off a staircase, accidentally landing on her sore foot. It now hurt enough that Marc took her to an urgent care clinic and we found out she had a chip fracture. The doctor said it probably started as a stress fracture, but the staircase incident caused part of the bone to chip off. So she wasn't able to run for almost a month and missed most of her spring season. She was able to come back for the last two meets, but had to drop hurdles and run shorter distances.

The summer club season started off rough -- slow times in her favorite event, the 800 meter run, and she still wasn't able to run anything longer. But eventually she started to heal and ended up winning first place in her national qualifier in the 800 by a pretty big margin.


So we began planning a trip to Houston for the AAU Jr. Olympics. Marc's mom and two sisters surprised us by saying they'd be flying out to Houston to watch Anna. They get the best fan awards for making the trip and because they came armed with "Team Anna" t-shirts, hats, and even a large banner!

I got the bad mom award because we almost missed seeing her run the 800, so I have no pictures. She did very well, placing 23rd out of 73 runners, but her goal was to make the top 12 and advance to finals, so she was kind of disappointed. If she had matched her personal best time (from a small meet a few weeks prior), she would have made it.  

She also got to compete in the high jump, but I'm not allowed to talk about that. Let's just say it wasn't her best day of jumping, although she doesn't look bad in this picture.  I don't care how high {or low} she jumps -- I'm a proud momma no matter what.


And then it was birthday time! I am now the mother of two teenagers {help me!}. Ryno didn't seem to mind spending his second birthday in a row in Texas. We celebrated first at Pappasito's and then had a little party in the hotel lobby.


Next, we had a day to sleep in, shop at Ikea {so wish we lived near one}, eat ice cream, and watch more Olympics {the real kind this time}. A day later, I headed to the THSC Homeschool Conference while Marc took the kids to my hometown to hang out with my dad's former neighbors. This family practically adopted Grace last summer when I helped my dad move, so it was a sweet reunion. Grace adores their daughter and says it's like getting to be a big sister. : )


They hung out at the beach and had another birthday celebration for Ryne while I sat in awe, listening to SWB for two days.  Before Anna even qualified for Jr. Olympics, I noticed this convention was the same week, so I was really hoping it would all work out and I could attend the conference too. SWB is taking a break from convention speaking, so this might have been the only chance I'll get to hear her speak.  

My local homeschool convention is very nice, but I think the whole "everything is bigger and better in Texas" saying is true in this case. I was pretty impressed with the speakers and the vendor hall. At first, I worried it would be awkward not knowing anyone there, but it was actually kind of nice just having some me time. In the evening I shopped at another store I don't have access to, The Container Store, and chilled at the hotel, watching the Olympics and chatting with my sister on the phone. I had to laugh though when I was checking into my hotel, because it turns out all the hotels in the area were full with two very different groups of people; check out SWB's blog for details and a funny picture.

Now we're back home and enjoying the last couple weeks of summer, even though I have a million things to do before school starts. I'll try to give you a sneak peek at one of those things before the week is over.

Hope you're enjoying your summer too!

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 - 2013 Curricular Plans

It's the beginning of a new homeschool year, and I just returned from a homeschool convention in Houston where I was able to attend sessions by Susan Wise Bauer {love} and see all kinds of new products in the vendor hall.  For those of you wondering what this Midwestern mom was doing at a convention in Houston, you'll have to tune in later this week for that story.  The point of me mentioning the conference in this post is to let you know I'm on a homeschool high right now.  Anything is possible.  This will be the best year yet.  

Follow?  What that really means is this: Read through my plans, knowing that reality will soon set in and one or more things on this list will get neglected or even dumped.  

Actually, I have been trying to be more realistic in my planning this year.  Besides attending almost every SWB session, I heard Diana Johnson speak and she voiced so succinctly what I have already learned the hard way.

This thinking greatly influenced some of my choices this year, especially science.  As much as I love the beautiful Apologia elementary science books and the accompanying notebook journals, we never get them done and I feel like a failure.  So we're going back to a curriculum we enjoyed and were more successful with, even though it means going back to a black and white textbook that is not as detailed as the Apologia books.  That's what supplemental books are for, right?  In fact, we may use one of the Apologia books to fill in some gaps.

My choices were also influenced by a book I read earlier this year, Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy.  A recurring theme of the book is that individuals on the autism spectrum need to find a skill they enjoy and become experts at it.  You'll probably be able to tell how this influenced my homeschool planning as you get to the bottom my list.  Our extras will focus less on the things I thought made our homeschooling wonderful (nature and composer studies) and more on practical skills that might help my son find a job someday.  I'm sure the new additions will be wonderful too, but they are a tad out of my comfort zone.

One thing we will not be giving up, however, is our read-aloud time.  After her session on literary analysis, I spoke to SWB, about how much reading we do for history and other subjects, expecting her to say maybe we should cut back a little.  Or maybe deep down I asked her because I knew she wouldn't be phased in the least and just encourage me to keep on reading and reading and reading, which is exactly what she did. ; )  

Enough with the reasons for my choices and on with the nitty-gritty; this is what we have planned for our school year:

Grace (4th Grade) and Ryne (7th Grade, autism)

(Forgive me, but to save time I'm only linking the lesser-known materials.  Please let me know if you need additional information about anything I've listed.)


Devotions using some of the suggested reading schedules in the NKJV Early Reader's Bible (despite the title, we've found this Bible version to be very helpful for the elementary and middle school years)

Bible Sound-Off (a memorization program of verses and Bible facts, compiled by Anna's 6th grade teacher)

Catechism memorization and instruction through church

Sunday School memory verses and take-home lessons

Church history (incorporated with history)


Story of the World 2: The Middle Ages (with Activity Guide and separate test booklet)

Favorites from our previous SOTW 2 reading list, plus some new finds

Timeline book

Veritas Press history cards

Classical Conversations style of geography instruction (the helpful article I used to link for this has been taken down; I'll try to find a new one)

Map Skills for Today 4 (Grace)

Intermediate Geography & Map Skills (Ryne)


All About Spelling 4 & 5

IEW - All Things Fun & Fascinating

Copywork, Dictation & Narration using the WWE model 

Michael Clay Thompson (almost finished with the whole Island level, but after that we will just do Grammar Town, Practice Town, and Sentence Town)

First Language Lessons 4 (Grace)

Analytical Grammar (Ryne)

Oral reading (CLP Nature Reader 4 - Grace; CLP The Story of Inventions - Ryne)

Editor in Chief A1 & A2

Outlining (Ryne)


Math U See Gamma & Delta (Grace)

Math U See Epsilon & Zeta (Ryne)

Challenging Word Problems (Grace)

Daily drill (flashcards, Quartermile, timed tests)

Mind Benders A4 & B1

Following Directions (Ryne)


Christian Kids Explore Biology


Latin for Children A (finish) & B

Rosetta Stone French (Grace - her request, but it will just be for fun)


Beginning Drawing with Thomas Kincade (a program we've had around for awhile, so I may change my mind on this)

Piano lessons (this is dependent upon my finding a new teacher; our previous teacher had to quit because of a family illness)

At least two musical events, such as the symphony -- a BHA tradition!


Typing Instructor Platinum

Kids Coder Series (Ryne)

Scotto's Place Essential Office Applications

Whew!  That should just about cover it.   Feel free to ask me any questions, share your experiences with anything on my list, or leave a link to your homeschool plans.

Happy Homeschooling!

P.S. I'm linking this post to the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop.  Come, join the fun!

Not Back to School Blog Hop