Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Night

I'm sorry, tonight's one of those incoherent nights where I just feel like I can't string two thoughts together that make any sense. I was surfing the Net for a while, but that got boring really fast. We had an early dinner so everything got cleaned up early. The kids are outside. The oldest and the youngest are playing tether-ball with the girl down the street and my middle one is practicing his soccer moves with his dad. I never played tether-ball well when I was a kid. I was afraid of the ball. Tether-ball was huge when I was in 5th grade. I remember standing in line with all the other kids because that's what you did at recess and then my turn came up to play. Rhonda A. was the best tether-ball player in the 5th grade because she'd get that ball going fast and then she'd just keep it going round and round and it would wind up around the pole and you'd be toast. Sometimes a kid would get brave and be able to hit it and then they'd volley for a while, but Rhonda would always win. She was mean. I never even tried. That ball scared me. I just stood there and took my punishment and slunk away when it was over. You know, I was a wimpy kid, now that I think about it. I was shy and very unathletic. Fortunately, I was never picked on. I was pretty smart, so I had that going for me. Anyhow, so, that's tether-ball. And then, there's soccer. Missy Lou's coach called earlier and she's practicing tomorrow at 6:30 at the Sports Park. Bubba is tomorrow at 6:00 at one of the schools. I'm kind of dreading what Duh-duh's coach is going to say when he calls. Tuesday and Thursday nights are very popular practice nights around here. I've been looking in to cloning myself.

And here's my sweet little Sparky. Isn't she cute? There was a cat on the fence Saturday night and Sparky barked all night long. All night long. I squirted her with the squirt bottle dozens of times, but to no avail. I just about opened the gate and gave her the boot. But, look at that face. Could you really give that sweet thing the boot? We took her to the vet today. She's fine and healthy. Looks like a terrier mix. Hmm, ya think? She got two shots. Just about took the vet's arm off. And she cried like Missy Lou when Missy Lou gets shots. I think they're related. So, that's all I got tonight. The munchkins are in and it's getting to be bedtime. I should go and do some parenting. Good night!



Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's That Time of Year!

Well, it's still summer but soccer has started! Yesterday I went to Payless and bought three pairs of cleats. We had some from last year, but Bubba's feet have grown tremendously. Like two sizes. Duh-duh's feet have grown, too. And Missy Lou... well, her poor feet aren't quite big enough yet. And she didn't wear cleats last year. She wore tennis shoes, so she's hittin' the big time this year. And yesterday was Bubba's first practice. They're starting a little later this year. Don't know why. But his coach was saying they got their rosters Wednesday evening and they were practicing last night (Friday). We split the boys up this year. For the past two years they've been on the same team. Sure makes it a lot easier on us. But, there is becoming an even greater difference in the boys' athletic abilities and drive, plus the fact that when they're on the same team they tend to goof off more. So, we requested different teams this year. And then Missy Lou will be on her own team. It's going to be crazy around here for a couple of months. I stayed at Bubba's practice last night and watched. He's going to work hard. He needs to work hard. He's got the raw materials to be a good athlete. And here's a bit of shameless bragging here, but I think he was recruited. And I think it was specifically to be goalie. He's a good goalie when he pays attention. He's not all that thrilled about the position because it doesn't see much action, but he does a good job and he's not afraid of the ball coming toward him. If it were me, I'd be ducking. That's why nobody ever asked me to be goalie. So, now we're waiting for calls from the other coaches. And I'll have to start coming up with meals that can be eaten in shifts and on the run. I got pretty good at that during baseball season.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If You Could Just Sit Still: or Why Homeschooling is Good for Boys!

I think I may have mentioned before the very high energy level of my oldest boy. He's constantly moving and constantly chewing on something. People have commented on it, actually. And it makes teaching him a challenge. This is one of his many positions. Here's another. He likes this one the most, actually.
He's always crawling on the floor or doing something. But, I'll let you in on a little secret.... he's paying attention. He really is. The other day I was reading to the boys about Magellan and Bubba was just all over the place. But, when I got to the comprehension questions at the end of the reading, he could answer each one in detail. Yes, really. He could tell me precisely where Magellan died and why. He died in the Phillipines while helping one of the native chieftains wage war on another tribe. (Just in case you were interested)
Now, this child does all his work standing up. I don't know why I even bother providing him with a chair. He never uses it.
So, yeah, we've established the fact that my boys are typical boys and they don't like to sit still, and yet are completely capable and probably better able to do their school work in an environment that is sympathetic to their over-abundance of energy. I love how James Dobson puts it in his amazing book, "Bringing Up Boys". He says, "Almost every authority on child development recognizes that schools are typically not set up to accomodate the unique needs of boys. Elementary classrooms, especially, are designed primarily by women to fit the temperment and learning styles of girls." Don't you just love that last sentence?I'm a former school teacher. I can understand that. It is not possible to maintain any sort of order and learning in a classroom unless the teacher insists upon the students seated, reasonably quiet and mostly still. It's one thing for me to put up with two busy little boys and still teach them spelling, grammar, poetry, geography, history, math and Latin. A teacher in a classroom of 25-30 children cannot do that. So, what's the answer for kids stuck in a classroom setting? I don't know. I don't have the answer and fortunately, I don't have to come up with one. The answer for my boys is to homeschool them. And then they can study Latin sprawled out on the floor and still get an "A" on their Friday Latin Quiz.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eating My Words, Please Pass the Salt.

OK, a while back I was bemoaning the fact that my boys were just not Lego boys. Well, maybe not exactly bemoaning the fact, but just makin' an observation that not all children enjoy things that you would assume they would enjoy. In other words, "All boys like Legos" is not necessarily a true statement. So, fine. We get on with life. Then, the other day I had a girlfriend and her boys over for dinner. Her boys are Lego boys. Very much so. And they wanted to play Legos. Fortunately, I hadn't gotten rid of the Legos. I'd just put them away, so sure we can get them out. And the building began. Well, they enjoyed themselves for the evening, but Bubba didn't want me to put them away. So, we made a deal. The boys would abide by the rules and I would let them keep the Legos out. (for the record, they'd never complained about the Legos being put away in the first place). OK, fine. They were agreeable. So, here is our agreement: Rule Number One: The Legos (except for the ones specifically part of a project) would all be put in the box. Rule Number Two: Legos may only be played with on the "Green Table". They may not be taken into the bedroom or anywhere else in the house. And now... all they do is play with Legos. We've got airplanes and all sorts of things being built around here. And they've been good about abiding by the rules.
Hubby says he thinks it's because of the rules that they're in to playing with the Legos now. They're forced to keep everything together and it doesn't get scattered all over the place. It's the same sort of system we have with our Playmobil dollhouse. Everything has to be kept together. Seems to work well around here. So, I am not ashamed to admit that I was wrong. I'm glad the boys are playing with Legos. I think it's a great activity. Teaches them to be creative and patient. So, I'm eatin' my words today and not complaining a bit!


Monday, August 22, 2011

An Interesting Conversation and the Thoughts That Followed It!

I had a interesting conversation with a friend after church yesterday. She's a bit older than I am and has had quite a bit of experience in the educational system. I'm not exactly sure how we got on this topic, but we were talking about children. Children who are hurting and in need. She told me about a child she worked with when she was Learning Director (vice-principal) for a school. As Learning Director (LD) she got the discipline problems and she was sent a 10 year old child who kept falling asleep in class and the teacher was getting frustrated. My friend said, "The child looked at me and said, 'Mrs. B., I don't need you to talk to me. But what I really wish is for you to teach my mom how to be a good mom!" You can imagine what this child's homelife is like if he kept falling asleep in class. And my friend continued to share with me her passion and desire to help "moms to be good moms!" We talked about families and how important the family is to society as a whole. How the most important thing in the world for people who have children to do is to nurture and sustain that family. My friend, with so much wisdom, said, "People keep looking outside the home for ways to make a difference and impact their world and they ignore what really does make a difference. Their family." I have been thinking about this conversation for a while now. I've been thinking about the truth of it. What does it take to nurture and raise a family? Not just raise children to adulthood like you would raise a dog, but to truly nurture them, to create a home environment that is not hurried and impersonal, but rather peaceful and lived in. A real home is not glamorous. My home is not anything that would grace the pages of a magazine. My walls are dirty, no matter how many times I scrub them. My floor could use a vacuuming probably 3-4 times a day. It gets one once or twice a week. My children fuss with each other. They don't share. They fight. I get tired. I fuss at them. But, this is where we find acceptance, no matter what we look like or do. This is where we find forgiveness. Each day is a new day, the sins of yesterday are past. This is where we find security. Outside these walls there are floods and wars and all sorts of evil, but inside young children are safe and sleep peacefully. And the more I think about it, the more I think how typical it is of God's economy, that the institution that can have the most impact on the world, that can do the greatest good, and is in fact the very foundation of society, is the most humble. It is the home.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit.... blessed are the meek.... for they shall inherit the earth" Matthew 5.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

You Gotta Get This Book!

OK, that's it! Call off the dogs. I have found it. The next book you're going to read. Don't even try to argue with me. Just go to Amazon and order this book. I'm serious. You will love it. Yes, I finally did finish "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. If you read one of my previous posts about this book, you've kind of gotten the gist of what the book is about, but if you don't know, I will tell you! The book is basically about why people succeed. And not just succeed in an average sort of way, but are truly stellar in their field. That is what an outlier is. Someone who is truly stellar. Now, we are generally under the assumption that people who are successful are that way mostly because of their hard work, natural intelligence and then a little luck and good opportunities thrown in there. But that is not true. If you will indulge me, I'd like to quote a little from the end of the book, which I think summarizes what he's trying to say perfectly. (Of course it does, he's the author)
"Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entreprenuers appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don't. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky - but all critical to making them who they are."
Gladwell gives fascinating case studies and stories of people and why they made it, and other people who should have made it and didn't. And why. You'd never believe it. However, this read is also very applicable to our own lives. I started looking back on my life. I've been thinking about how I got to where I am (not that I'm anywhere much, but we're happy, healthy and debt free) and I realized that it is not just by my own hard work and good decisions. Things have happened to me; I have been in the right place at the right time, I knew the right people, I had opportunities that maybe someone else didn't and on it goes, proving Gladwell's theory to be true, even in the lives of modestly situated people. So, I would highly recommend this book. It's very easy to read and understand and highly entertaining. I read it in a week. Could hardly put it down!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Science in the Field!

This year we actually have a science curriculum. The last couple of years we'd kind of been winging it, and it worked fine in some areas, like when I actually had time to get things together. But, when life got in the way and I was too tired, science really got thrown to the wayside. So, I decided to actually purchase a science curriculum this year. I agonized over this. I agonize over most of my curriculum. I just want the perfect curriculum. And I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. So, I looked at this curriculum and that curriculum and the other curriculum. I looked at science text books. Some were good, but I just didn't like that they did a bit of life science, a bit of physical science, a bit of earth science and a bit of whatever else. I wanted a curriculum that would spend a year on one subject, go in depth, and then next year we could go on to the next thing. I also wanted a curriculum that would have some labs, but not too many and not any that were too involved and required too much prep on my end. I think I might have mentioned before that when you do anything hands-on in this house, you're really taking your life in your own hands. So, those were my parameters. There were a few to choose from, and the one I really really liked was kind of expensive. Plus, I just wasn't sure the kids would like it. And there's nothing like buying an expensive curriculum that nobody likes. So, I didn't get that. The next one I liked was this one. It looked good because I could use it with all three of the kids. I liked it because it was a full year of life science, next year we'll do earth and then chemistry. And, it was fairly inexpensive. The only problem was that it's not very colorful. The cover is the most colorful thing about it. But that's ok. We'll supplement with library books.
So, anyway, we started science this week. Yes, it's the third week of school, but we were a little behind where I wanted to be in history, so we did three weeks of straight history and now we're back into our normal routine of three days history and two days of science per week. Well, today we did some research in the field. We're starting our study of life by learning about what makes something living. Things like "it takes in energy, gives off waste", "it grows and reproduces and interacts with its environment", things like that. We learned that yesterday. Today, we took our lab manuals and went out into the field to discover life on planet earth. We went down to the river to conduct our investigations.
It's a short walk and actually it's a pretty good place to do nature studies except that it's kind of scary down there. People go down there to party, play paintball and I think homeless people live down there, too. So, the whole time we were down there I was slightly on edge, looking behind trees, waiting for some bearded, scary homeless person to jump out and attack us. We did take our dog with us, though, for protection. She was more interested in all the new smells than she was in protecting us, I think.
But, no bearded (or non-bearded, for that matter) homeless people were down there. They were probably more afraid of us than we were of them and went into hiding. There was a lot of trash, and discarded paintballs. But, we did get our work done.
We had our hand-lenses with us to aid in the discovery of life forms. And we had a long discussion on why dead sticks are alive. Because the definition of "life" is either alive currently, or used to be alive. I think they understood that, though. We saw some ants, heard some birds and saw a great big spider on its web. And about a half hour later made our way back home.
We had a few mishaps along the way. I tripped on the chain fence thingy that they have up to keep people out. Got a nice bruise on my shin. Missy Lou was running down the sidewalk on the way home and she tripped. Splat. I hate it when kids do that. It seems like it hurts so bad. She cried and skinned her knees a little, but there was no blood. She's ok. We got home and discussed our findings and then had lunch.
And that was science in the field for today.




Thursday, August 18, 2011

One of the Many Things I Love About This Kid!

Today we were doing Grammar. Duh-Duh is learning about sentences. He's in second grade. His grammar book had an exercise where he was supposed to "choose a good word to complete each sentence". Here are his answers:

1. I have a_______________. "loving heart"
2. The grass is ___________. "green"
3. _______________ loves me. "God"
4. Mother makes ________________. "me happy"
5. Paul read a __________________. "book"

I just wanted to cry. I gave him a hug and a kiss instead. That's my boy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The not-so-Glamorous Life of a Housewife

I am a housewife. And this is what I'm doing today. Cleaning light fixtures. They are so dirty. They don't have dust bunnies on them, they have dust elephants on them.
I had to take all the bulbs out....
take all the sconces off and wash them.
One thing I really hate about this job is climbing the ladder in the entry way. I am deathly afraid of heights. There's Bubba, waaaaay down there, doing his math. He was hating math today. Doing double-digit subtraction in his head. "Sure it's hard buddy. But you'll thank me for this someday when you're better at doing mental math than anyone else you know. Unless they went through Singapore Math, too!"
You know, being a housewife isn't all that bad, no matter what the Gloria Steinems of the world would like you to believe. There is virtue and nobility in caring for your home and family and doing it well, or at least doing it well most of the time. The life of a housewife is a life of freedom (I don't answer to anyone but myself) and creativity. The possibilities are endless (if you're not too tired to explore them). Sure, at times it is thankless, exhausting and frustrating. I don't love cleaning the light fixtures, but it builds character. So, no, I don't expect anyone to be making a movie about my life (although if they did, I'd like Julia Roberts to play me!), but that's ok. I'm happy with my life and I know that it is a worthy endeavor.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting Sucked In!

OK, I admit it, I got sucked in. I got a bunch of new books yesterday and got completely sucked in by one of them - "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. This hasn't happened since I got sucked in by the "Outlander Series" by Diana Gabaldon about 12 years ago. Even though they both start with "Out..." they are not anything alike. The "Outlander Series" is a bunch of thick novels about time travel back to Jacobite Scotland. After reading those books I developed an alter ego named Claire who married a long-haired Scottish Highlander named Jamie. Wow, those were some reads. Anyhow, that was back when I was single and had a lot of time to read. The book "Outlier" has nothing to do with time travel or long-haired Scottish men. Now, I am not very good at summarizing, but basically the book is about why people are successful. And I don't mean successful like the guy down the street who drives a paid-for Mercedes and has a swimming pool. We're talking about outliers - people who are stellar in their particular field. Some of the people he's talked about so far are Bill Gates, the Beatles, Bill Joy. His basic premise (so far) is that it's not just talent and hard work that makes people that incredibly successful. There are a lot of other factors, most that we have no control over, that have a huge impact on stellar success. Did you know an overwhelming majority of successful hockey players have their birthday in one of the first three months of the year? Did you know that out of the 75 wealthiest people who have ever lived in the history of the world, there are 14 of them who were American and all born between 1831-1840? That's almost 20% of the wealthiest people who ever lived. Well, I read the first 84 pages last night. Couldn't put it down. Poor hubby. He was trying to research mutual funds on the Internet and I kept saying, "Honey, listen to this!" "Honey, isn't this amazing?" "Honey.... honey.... honey...!" Bless his heart, he is so patient. So, anyhow, I haven't gotten time to read today. I'm dying to, but the we had to do school this morning, the house is a disaster and there were just things to do. But, the moment I get a minute of free time I'm diggin' in!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ahhhh!

I just have to tell you about a couple of things that have really.... really... just increased my enjoyment of today. It was a pretty good day overall. Kids got through their schoolwork without too much pain. I washed all the bedding and towels and a few other things, got those dried and put away. The kids are outside not fighting. Sparky is chewing on Duh-duh's foot. Things are good. But, these are a few things that have put a little more "good" in my day. First... it's this. Raspberry Lemonade sticks. I'm on my third one today. Yummy. And sugar-free. And here's another thing that has seriously made my day. Yes, it's a package from Amazon. See, Hubby ordered some new sneakers from Amazon last week and I... just tagged along my own order there. We were getting Supersaver Shipping anyhow. I just couldn't help myself. So, I ordered this book. It just looked really good. I think what most people don't realize is that the Magna Charta is one of the most important documents ever written. Basically, it told King John of England that he just couldn't tax and spend whenever he felt like it. He had to get permission from the people first. It's this novel idea for the times that set the stage for our own Democratic Republic several hundred years later!
Then, I got this one. It's for our Renaissance Unit study we'll be doing in a while.

And now for something completely different. I've heard so much about this book and it seriously intrigued me, so I had to get it. I'll tell you about it after I read it!
So, there you have it. Good things in my already good day!
Duh-duh: (holding up two identical pictures he had colored) Mama, do these two cars look the same?
Mommy: Yes, sort of!

Duh-Duh: No, I mean, do these two cars look the same?

Mommy: I just gave you the answer to that question.

I just.... I just don't know what to say. I'm discovering that there is a reason why some days I can't put two coherent thoughts together. The hanyaks are messing with my mind.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review

It's book review time here at "Livin' the Good Life". One of the things we do on a daily basis is have Read Aloud Time after lunch. Believe it or not, it's one the highlights of Bubba's day. I know, I know, the kid who's got so much energy that if you hooked up some electrodes to him he could supply power to the entire tri-county area. That kid. He loves to be read to. Even though he can't sit still the whole time, he's listening to every word. Anyhow, we just finished reading this book, "The Dragon of Lonely Island" by Rebecca Rupp. This was a good book. Bubba loved it. He would have me read the whole afternoon. In fact, he threw a fit the other day because I stopped after reading two chapters and my mouth was dry and I was tired of reading. I sent him to his room. Ok, so, what's this book about. Basically, it's about three children, Hannah, Zachary and Sarah Emily who spend the summer on an island and meet a tri-drake (a three-headed dragon), who's a wonderful story teller. Now, the plot of the story isn't original; it's pretty basic, but the way the story was told is quite charming. The children in the story are very likable, but not obnoxious or sugary sweet. The story is a fantasy, and kind of reminded me of Madeleine L'Engle's "Wrinkle in Time" stories (not so much in subject matter, but rather the style of telling), but not quite so "out there". Anyhow, we definitely give this book a "Two Thumbs-Up" and will be ordering the sequel soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Son, This is Going to Hurt Me More Than it Hurts You!

You know, parents always used to say that right before they spanked their kids. And kids always used to say, "Yeah right!" I always said that. How on earth could spanking your child hurt the parent more than it hurts the kid? Well, now I know that discipline, in any form, does hurt the parent more than the child (well, maybe not more, sometimes it's just about as much.... ok, sometimes it doesn't hurt at all, but it does make me feel a little bad at times) because as a parent, I hate seeing my kid hurt, even though it's necessary. We've been really working on the "logical, natural consequences" stuff lately because we found out that yelling at your kids just doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried. Unfortunately, I still yell. However, it still doesn't work. But natural consequences does. It just doesn't have that cathartic effect that yelling has. Anyhow, we were talking about natural consequences. The other day, poor Bubba had a really difficult lesson in natural consequences. See, we were going to Costco and I told the kids they could bring their money and buy something. Duh-duh had about $13 and Missy Lou had about the same. They could probably buy something. Bubba had about $4. Bubba isn't very good with money. The other day, he sat by the Crayon box and just broke Crayons. For no good reason. He just sat there and broke Crayons. In half. New Crayons. OK, I did yell just a little, but then I told him he had to pay me for the Crayons he broke. Five cents a crayon. And then, a couple weeks ago he'd gone to Walmart with Hubby and begged to bring his money. He bought some cheap plastic toy for $6 that was broken that very afternoon. So, anyhow, he didn't have much money to bring to Costco. And he couldn't buy anything because there aren't many cheap things in Costco. The other two both bought some books with their money. I felt really bad for Bubba because he was as jealous as all get out, but... natural consequences. You have to be wise with your money. Today Duh-duh has natural consequences. The kids can't watch tv or play on the computer until their chores are done. I'd been on Duh-duh to get his laundry folded but he kept blowing me off. Until about 15 minutes before "Dinosaur Train" was on. The he goes to the laundry room and realizes that he hadn't even dried his laundry, so he certainly couldn't fold it. He's outside playing with the dog right now, waiting for his laundry to dry so hopefully he can fold it before time runs out. I feel bad for him, but.... natural consequences.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yes, It's a Lot of Work, but Anyone Can Do It!

One very typical reaction that I get when I tell people we homeschool is this... eyes roll, heavy sigh and a, "Wow, I could never do that!" As if I'm some sort of... I don't know what. Saint. Superwoman. Crazy person. But it drives me crazy because the honest truth is... most people can homeschool their kids. It's just that they don't want to. Which is fine. However, homeschooling is really not that hard to do. It's just a lot of work and, like most things in life, if you're committed and believe in it, you'll do it. Here's what our little one room school house looks like on an average day.... We start out with Bible and then move on to Language Arts. We do spelling...Here Bubba is learning to diagram sentences. It's not everywhere that you can do your math fact flashcards on the teacher's lap, but that's where this boy loves to spend most of his academic time.
Everyone has math to do.
Once I get the boys started on their Language Arts and Math then I start kindergarten work with Missy Lou. She seems to like math a lot more than phonics. We take a short break around 10:00 and have snack and then it's on to history and science and then Bubba does his Latin. I found a great website that has all his vocabulary words on it, so he can play games to learn his Latin. In the afternoons I read aloud to them and the boys do their reading to me. By early afternoon, if all has gone well, we are done. Yeah, it's hard work. Sometimes I get angry and frustrated. Sometimes, (like right now Duh-duh is refusing to complete his grammar assignment) the kids don't necessarily want to do their work. But, this is the path we've chosen to go down and this is what we do.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Photostudy of Missie Lou!

Some children have a knack for getting what they want. They're able to smile and cuddle up to you and melt your heart until you give in to whatever it is that they want. My daughter has that knack. Usually, whatever it is that I give into doesn't make a whole lot of difference either way, which is why I give in. I'd never give in to her demands to say.... take the car out on a joy ride, or maybe eat potato chips and ice cream for dinner. But, when she asks for, "just a little teeny, tiny sip of your coffee! Pleeeease!!! Just a little eensy bit?" And she flashes her big brown eyes... well, I usually give in! Lately she's been wanting to use my camera. She's generally very careful with stuff (unlike her brothers who break everything they touch), so I let her take pictures. It's always very interesting to see what she takes pictures of. (oooh, I ended another sentence with a preposition! I'm so sorry!) Her latest endeavor seems to be some sort of photo-essay that I've entitled, "Missie Lou: A Self-Portrait". Enjoy!



I think she may have a future in photography!
Maybe next time I should have her wipe the crumbs off her face, too. Minor detail!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to School!

When I was a kid, school always started the Tuesday after Labor Day. There were so many traditions. You know, Back-to-School shopping for new clothes, all that good stuff. Now, most schools start in August and our little homeschool starts in the beginning of August. It's still hot and just doesn't seem like it's time to hit the books yet, but I prefer to start early because it gives us a lot of flexibility. We like to vacation in the off-season and I just like to take days off now and then when I feel like it and still be able to get everything done. So, this year we've got a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader and a new kindergartener. And all sorts of new curriculum. I do prefer to stay with one curriculum because it's good to be consistent, but sometimes you just have to switch for various reasons. We're starting a new English Grammar curriculum published by a little Mennonite publisher out in Kentucky somewhere. It's as plain as can be, but it's a rigorous program. I think it'll be good.
We're staying with the same history curriculum, though. We use "The Story of the World" by Susan Wise Bauer. We're in the middle of the second book "The Middle Ages" and we're picking up where we left off in the spring. Today we learned all about how Richard III locked his nephews (one of whom was the rightful King of England) in the Tower of London because he wanted to be king instead. And they mysteriously disappeared. Of course Richard wasn't king that long, either. He wasn't very popular for one thing, but Henry Tudor (another young man with a long-shot claim to the monarchy) was also looking to become King of England and knocked off Richard in the Battle of Bosworth and made off with the Crown. We made this nifty little Tower of London pop-up doo-dad. Hmm, this is Bubba's picture. Looks like he's got the nephews escaping. I don't think he listened too closely to the story. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking. I found this website a while back that has pictures of all the kings and queens of England. So, I thought I'd do a take off of a timeline (especially since we're memorizing the rulers of England) and put them all up on the wall as we're studying them. We also put what family they come from. We just finished studying the Wars of the Roses so here are the Lancasters and the Yorks.
We are also studying Latin this year. At least Bubba and I are. It's recommended to start Latin in 3rd grade. I'm a little older than 3rd grade, but my education was seriously lacking, so I'm making up for it.Studying Latin is an important component in a good Classical education. We're learning it off a DVD, listening to the lesson on Mondays and then continuing throughout the week practicing vocabulary and pronunciation, and completing the exercises in the workbook. I think we're going to have a good school year. I can already see growth and development in some of the areas we worked hard at last year and this year there is already a bit of fruit. Homeschooling is hard. But, it's something our family is committed to, and we're ready to jump in and do it again this year!