Sunday, May 29, 2011


Luke ~ 7 Luke and a Mustang

Dear Luke,

Seven long years ago, you were my baby Lukie. You didn’t sleep, but you were so stinkin’ cute and charming that I always forgave you. By the time you turned three, you didn’t talk very much but your face said it all. I don’t know if I’ve met a boy with more facial expression than you. And then you were four…still quiet, but dangerous when left alone. You were my Curious George. Always getting into curious trouble. Five came next—ornery and mischievous, dare-devilish, and tender-hearted. Last year you turned six. In this past year you have grown—taller, but so much more than that. You’ve found a voice to fit your earnest personality. You’ve begun to control that wild emotion of yours. You’ve read like crazy. You’ve turned into a fine piano player. I know I can always count on you if I need a helper or a quiet snuggle. I love spending time with you. Thank you for making my life so wonderful! Happy Birthday!!

Love, Mom.

Whole30 ~ Week 4 and End of 30 Days!!!

Hi. My name is Heidi. I’m a sodaholic. It’s been 43 days since my last Dr. Pepper.

I’ve reached the end of my Whole30 Challenge. Only meats/eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts for 30 days. No grains, dairy, legumes (including soy and peanuts), or added sugar—which meant I had to completely overhaul the way I interacted with food on a daily (hourly, minute-by-minute…) basis. I also had to go to the grocery store a few times a week and ignore 98% of the food for sale.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the past thirty days:

  • I have will-power and am capable of some sort of self-control over what I eat. This is an unprecedented and monumental accomplishment.
  • Accountability: It’s a beautiful thing. I don’t think I could have done this without sharing the journey with my husband and on my blog. I wasn’t going to lie to you, and I did. not. want. to have to tell you I cheated or failed or quit.
  • I cheated. We went out to eat at a buffet place on day 27. I ate meat and veggies. But I’m sure there were seasonings, sauces, or coatings that weren’t ‘legal.’ I passed up white rolls (would have liked about 10), mashed potatoes, soda, and dessert. Can I get credit for that?
  • I don’t have to drink Dr. Pepper. I miss it (terribly). But I won’t die without it.
  • Drastically changing how I ate was a great way to force me to think about food in a new way. It also was very effective in pulling me out of a junk food/sugar/soda/snacky/carb-heavy daily diet.
  • I love to eat constantly and in large quantities. I’m always hungry. I think about food all the time. I don’t know how to change that.
  • My boys will eat some foods that I didn’t think they would like. Sometimes they even shocked me.
  • I CAN fix dinner every night. I CAN try new recipes and cook something other than spaghetti.
  • I love dates. And sweet potato chips. And Larabars (which I never would have tried without Whole30).
  • I have to decide whether a food is worth it before mindlessly putting it in my mouth.
  • Good pizza is a ‘worth it’ food. So are homemade chocolate chip cookies. I really wish Dr. Pepper was.
  • I hate cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.
  • Burgers don’t need buns. They are perfectly fine with only dijon mustard, avocado, bacon, grilled onions, tomato, and lettuce.
  • I need to work exercise into my day, but I can’t figure out how. I don’t have any me time, and I can’t figure out where to buy some.
  • The easiest dinner is grilled meat and roasted veggies. If only I could remember to thaw the meat.
  • Russ can get natural meats at a great price (wholesale) from one of his clients. Fabulous.
  • Yams roasted with olive oil and sea salt taste like candy. Spiced and roasted cauliflower with almonds doesn’t, but it’s still really tasty. If you add Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage to roasted broccoli and almonds, it makes a fabulously simple meal.
  • My headaches don’t seem to be food related. Sleep related, muscle related, chronic sinus-something or environmental allergy related…maybe?
  • A good diet doesn’t replace sleep.
  • I can plan ahead and take along good food if we are going to be out and about.
  • The family I get eggs from is AWESOME. The last three weeks they’ve delivered eggs within 30 minutes of my FB message request!
  • I like scrambled eggs. I can eat them for breakfast 30 days in a row, in fact. But when the boys put cinnamon raisin toast in the toaster, it sends me over the edge. And I really, really miss orange juice.
  • I’m jealous of my husband’s job. He gets a salad bar and a kick-boxing class during his lunch hour (and he GETS a lunch hour!). But he also has to walk past the 25 cent soda machine…
  • I fail at moderation. I can’t eat just one of anything. It’s all or nothing.
  • I don’t yet know what my diet will look like on an ongoing basis. I’m thinking a roughly 80% paleo diet would be a great thing for me to aim for. I know that my eating has been so much healthier this way. Partly because I can’t stop once I start on bread, baked goods, and sugary stuff.
  • I don’t yet know how I feel about dairy and grains in moderation. I think it will be interesting to see how my body reacts in the next week or two. I have many family members with celiac/gluten intolerance. I miss cheese.
  • A 10 pound loss sadly isn’t very noticeable on (off) me, but I gained about 30 pairs of pants stashed on the top shelf of my closet.
  • I’d love to lose 10-15 more pounds. And tone up what’s left. And get a tan. I’d also like to win the lottery.
  • Forget my brownie recipe, just make Fudge Babies. Who knew a no sugar, no grains, no dairy, vegan, raw food dessert could taste SO YUMMY!!
  • I’m buying myself some really good chocolate.
  • The local farmer’s produce stand and I are going to see a lot of each other this summer.
  • I am so thankful for the blog friends who have joined me on this journey. I’ve really appreciated your comments and encouragement.
  • The science of food (well, science in general) boggles my mind. The amount of contradictory information ‘out there’ is so overwhelming. How do you decide whom to listen to? Sigh. I think I am going to go by what works for me and makes me feel my best, with room for traditions like birthday celebrations. Mostly, though, I want to eat real food from reliable sources, local and organic when possible.


Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other. 

~Joseph Addison

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Skilled Labor

After I posted the link to Mike Rowe's Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation May 11, 2011 @ The Discovery Channel as well as two of my favorite quotes from The Core, I received this reply in the comments and felt the need to share a little more about why I value classical education for my boys.

Thank you for sharing this article. I am contemplating making the switch to classical education and--I've got to tell you--after reading WTM and others, I have struggled most with the question of whether or not classical ed elevates intellectual pursuits over all else. I firmly believe that our society has promoted higher ed to the point where it's losing it's value (but I still believe in it) and, like the article mentioned, vocational training is frowned upon (it's a necessity!). Thanks for reminding me that classical ed is not just about academia.

Boy 4

I think the key here is that skilled, educated labor is hard to come by. We, as a society, have put thinking and labor in two separate categories. That is what is so damaging.

I want my boys to have a strong grasp of language and communication skills, an insatiable curiosity, a love of reading, strong understanding in math and science, and a view of history from beginning to the present NO MATTER WHAT profession they choose.

I want them to be able to think for themselves, participate in their community and government, be able to handle their own finances (possibly their own business finances even if they become plumbers), enjoy well-rounded conversations and friendships, have communication skills to be exercised in any profession they find themselves in, be prepared for learning anything--including a trade, be able to handle unexpected changes that life might throw at them, and in short--think life is interesting!

Each of my boys (and daughter, of course) will choose their own life, but I certainly will do whatever it takes to make sure they have the brain skills to meet it head-on.

With 8-10 years of solid classical education under their belts, I would have no problem with my boys spending a few years even before high school graduation learning a trade or pursuing a focused interest if they are so inclined. The problem with our modern educational system is that students often *are not* getting that strong foundation in the early years, so by high school it ends up having to be a choice. Either they learn a trade, or they take academic classes. And we've delegated physical work and trades to the 'uneducated.' We have also raised a whole generation of kids who haven't had to work, and don't know how. They don't have to contribute to the family farm or to the family finances, often not even to household chores. Many kids don’t even know how to get dirty.

Okay, rant over. I'm going to send my boys out to dig ditches after Latin today. {grin}

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 19

Luke and Daddy Working

I have more food for thought today. This is such an interesting article for me to read, especially having three boys with very different personalities and strengths.

Mike Rowe's Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
May 11, 2011 @ The Discovery Channel

In general, we're surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We've pretty much guaranteed it.

In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We've elevated the importance of "higher education" to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled "alternative." Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as "vocational consolation prizes," best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of "shovel ready" jobs for a society that doesn't encourage people to pick up a shovel.

In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a "good job" into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber—if  you can find one—is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we'll all be in need of both.

[Emphasis mine.]

In my constant attention to the education I want to provide for my children, I’m reminded of this quote from The Core by Leigh Bortins:

Classical education encourages us that we are capable of becoming an Oxford don who builds bicycles, or a plumber who reads Milton, or a business owner who spouts theology. The classically educated are not defined by their occupation so much as by their breadth of knowledge and understanding.

She also writes:

When you ask someone, “What do you do?” do you really mean, “What’s your job?” Can you imagine asking George Washington what he did for a living? He would have answered that he was a farmer. He worked at home, except when he wasn’t at home. His role in history reveals that he could have responded, “I’m a farmer, a citizen, a stepfather, an army officer, the president, Martha’s husband, etc.” Even a craftsman such as a cooper or a goldsmith in colonial Boston would have farmed and constructed and participated in church and community government.


I have such a heart full of gratitude for the family surrounding us! My father built my childhood home (where he and my mom still live), and I spent hours in the wood shop with him as a child. My mother tackled projects such as refinishing furniture. My brother-in-law, Casey, is a skilled machinist. My brother-in-law, Ben, is skilled at construction. He is currently in the middle of a big project. My nephew has been spending time working with him. The morning I read this article, my skilled plumber uncle was there working with them. My husband’s skills amaze me. He will tackle almost anything and figure it out as he goes. My father-in-law often helps Russ with projects, such as refinishing the upstairs room for Lola.

Today, Russ is repairing his car with the help of Luke. The boys always get on their ‘dirty jobs’ clothes to help Daddy with projects. I think we’ll be watching more Mike Rowe this next week…


We got a new mini trampoline. The boys take turn jumping while reciting memory work. Two birds with one stone.

Bible Memory:
Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed verses)
Levi: Day by Day Kid's Bible
Hymns For a Kid's Heart (Praise to the Lord, The Almighty)
(Luke: weekly hymns on piano)
[patriotic hymns/songs (CDs)]

Teaching Textbooks or  Singapore workbooks daily
CC weekly memory work (focus on skip counting the 15s)

CC Memory work review
Bill Nye: The Sun (DVD)
Bill Nye: The Planets (DVD)

Mini trampoline
Outside play

Fine Arts:
Piano lessons (Luke)
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Mary Cassatt (DVD)
(The Artists’ Specials) Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist (fabulous full-length movie also ‘starring’ Louisa May Alcott and Edgar Degas)
Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Mary Cassatt) by Kathleen Krull

Language Arts:
IEW Poetry Memorization (poems #11,12)
IEW PAL story sequence/narration
All About Spelling Level 2 (step 6)
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks

Song School Latin (review @ Headventure Land)

Spanish Words and Phrases Flashcards (Usborne)

Drawing/”blobbing” continents "Blobbing" the Continents

CC Veritas History Timeline Cards (solidifying memorization, Creation-Pompeii)
Reviewed CC history memory work from Cycle 2

The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (Levi)
The Complete Fairy Tales of George MacDonald (Levi)
The Literary Adventures of Washington Irving, American Storyteller by Cheryl Harness (biography)
Rip Van Winkle picture book retelling by Kay Brown
Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving (complete and unabridged) (Levi)
Oliver Twist (animated DVD)
Rabbit Ears Storybook Collection (DVDs): Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Peachboy, Puss in Boots, Rumpelstiltskin, Stormalong

Boys Reading

Additional Reading:
Old Mother West Wind by Thornton W. Burgess
About TEN Magic Tree House books!
The Big Kerplop! The Original Adventure of the Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
The Big Chunk of Ice: The Last Known Adventure of The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley
And lots more…

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Someone recently challenged:

‘Sum it up if you can. The main reason you choose to homeschool your kids. A single reason. The big one that all others stem from.’

I’ve already shared eleven reasons why we homeschool, but here is my succinct answer to the challenge:

Why? Because learning is a constant and essential component of a deep, rich life in God’s huge and fascinating world. Homeschooling is the best way for us to embrace that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Sprang…

Lola Toes .…..At least for an afternoon. We soaked up a smidge of sunshine while out for piano lessons. I adore the country drive past fields and orchards. Country Drive Fresh Air There was some swinging. And some tree climbing. (Our piano teacher lives in the middle of an orchard!) And some picture taking. Luke helped. Lola and Mommy Tree Climbing When we got home, the boys headed for their hide-out in the "jungle" behind our house. They've made a maze of trails and tunnels on the hill. The Jungle Jungle Hide-Out
I haven't taken a picture of the front of our house for a long time. It is a mess (the porch is a disaster zone), but it's still home. Home Front Yard

Whole30 ~ Week 3



Unbelievably, I’ve finished up week 3 of Whole30. It has been a challenge, but in so many ways easier than I thought it would be. I don’t have too much to share this week. (Still not getting enough sleep. Still dealing with neck/shoulder muscle and sinus stuff that is causing headaches.)

We’ve enjoyed roasted cauliflower before, but this week I tried Roasted Spiced Cauliflower With Almonds and it was delicious!

In the beginning, I had stressed a little about lunches for Russ (he’s doing the challenge with me). I haven’t packed him a lunch in YEARS. It was a challenge making enough dinner for him to have leftovers for lunch (especially since I wanted some, too!) and then getting his lunch packed. Come to find out, there is an awesome salad bar at his new job! That takes some pressure off of me. I still try to have food for him, but there is backup if I don’t! I just wish I had access to a salad bar at lunch!

We had dinner with friends. They were so kind to serve hamburgers (with delicious grilled onions!), homemade sweet potato chips, asparagus, and salad. There were some unavoidable condiments, but people are so much more important than diet rules. I did have to pass up their AMAZING homemade fries (though the boys did them justice), and I brought brownies and ice cream that we could eat (along with the ‘real’ stuff for everyone else). Did you know that was possible?! No added sugar, no grains, no dairy. I’m a magician. {grin}

I started with this recipe for Chocolate Cake at Civilized Caveman. I didn’t have the right chocolate chips, and even with the added sugar I’m sure they have, I didn’t think they would be sweet enough. I had to experiment a little. Here is the recipe I came up with:

Chocolate Almond Brownies

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 Cup Chopped Dates
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk (canned, full fat)
2 Eggs (extra large farm eggs)
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 1/2 Cups Almond Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Sliced Almonds (toasted)*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8x8 pan with coconut oil.
2. Melt coconut oil in small saucepan. Add dates and water. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat. Add cocoa powder. Pour in mixing bowl.
4. Add coconut milk to chocolate mixture then add eggs and almond extract and mix well.
5. Add in the almond flour, salt, and baking powder
6. Pour batter into baking pan. Sprinkle sliced (toasted) almonds on top.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8. Serve warm with ice cream.

Ice Cream

Frozen banana chunks, coconut milk, and almond extract in blender. (Use only as much coconut milk as your blender needs to process the ice cream. You want it as thick as possible!) (If there is ice cream left over, put it in popsicle molds for later!!)

*I didn’t really care for the texture of the sliced almonds on top. I didn’t toast them first, and I think that would improve the taste and texture. I also didn’t add shredded coconut because it is one of the only foods I greatly dislike. The flavor of the coconut milk and oil are just fine, though.

I won’t promise that they taste as good as ‘regular’ brownies, but when you are desperate, they’ll do. {grin}


I’ll post the final week 4 update on the following Sunday when my 30 days are up.

Oh, and I lost one more pound this week. Might have been more, but I didn’t want the brownies to go to waste (so they went to waist…).

(P.S. Blogger has been really difficult lately. I’ve tried several times to post long comments in reply to other comments and questions, but it won’t post them. I promise I’m not ignoring y’all. I’ve very much enjoyed all of the comments you’ve posted!!)


Happiness lies, first of all, in health. 

~George William Curtis, Lotus-Eating

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

And It All Comes Together ~ Part 2

Thirdly, Language Arts: This is our symphony. Many magical notes working together to produce something beautiful. Complex, interwoven, and harmonious. Can you hear the angels singing? Did I mention complex? Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. This is a long one.

All About Spelling: Oh, how I wish I would have started AAS two years ago, but no time for regrets. Luke and Levi began level 1 in January and completed it in April. We will move more slowly through the next levels. I love how easy the teacher’s manual is to use. I love learning the phonograms. I love the multi-sensory approach. I love how systematic and complete it is. I love learning spelling rules with the key cards. I love that the program includes dictation of phrases and complete sentences. I love that we can use the Handwriting Without Tears writing paper and that I can sit by Luke and make sure his letter formation is correct. (His handwriting skills improved so much the past few months.) I love the built-in review and mastery-based system. Love it. So much so that I signed up to be an affiliate. Here is my link.

Writing With Ease: The grammar and writing program laid out in The Well-Trained Mind excels at systematic, incremental, age-appropriate, concrete, simple-to-implement language skills. It builds discipline in small, manageable steps. I’m just now going back and rereading the instructor’s text for The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease.

Have you read Death to high school English @, yet? These are the same sentiments expressed in Dr. Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing With Ease. Dr. Bauer teaches writing and literature at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. In the introduction of Writing With Ease, Why Writing Programs Fail, she states:

I read through scores of incoherent, fragmented, unpunctuated papers, written by students who graduated from well-funded high schools with small classrooms and qualified teachers.

What are those students being taught before they get to me?

It’s not that they don’t write. In fact, in an effort to solve the problem of poor writing skills, schools are giving longer and more complex assignments to younger and younger children. The theory is that the more writing children do, the better they’ll get at it…

Meanwhile, writing skills continue to decline.

Writing With Ease shows parents how to teach their grammar-level children to build essential writing skills through copywork, dictation, and narration. I have been and will be using these methods for writing across all subjects. I’m toying with the idea of purchasing the workbooks for use next year when I need something pre-planned, though we do some copywork with Handwriting Without Tears workbooks and dictation with our spelling program.

(The Complete Writer series continues with logic and rhetoric stage books.)

Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Island: Michael Clay Thompson excels at revealing the exquisite, imaginative, endless possibilities of language while making rigorous language study not only accessible, but also an absolute joy for children. MCT materials are a magical symphony all on their own. The author’s awe of and appreciation for language is infectious. You can read an introduction to the series at this link.

MCT language arts program is a snuggle on the couch, read, and talk about language program. The Island level is geared toward 3rd graders, but Luke joined right in. The books are story-based, imaginative, and visual. The font is large (perfect for reading together). There are a limited number of words per page (perfect for allowing the reader to really let each idea ‘settle’). The teacher’s manual has small boxes with questions and conversation topics for Socratic dialogue. There are no ‘lessons’ or schedules. We just read the book together for however long we wished. We learned about the parts of speech, the parts of the sentence, phrases, and clauses.

(It was nice to have both the student and instructor books for Grammar Island, but only the instructor book is absolutely necessary.)

Though the grammar concepts taught in Grammar Island are reinforced and practiced continuously in Practice Island and reinforced and expanded in Sentence Island, I desire a greater mastery of grammar definitions for the boys. Voila! Enter Classical Conversations. This year the boys memorized the 8 parts of speech, the four kinds of sentences, definition and usages of nouns, definition of pronouns and extensive lists by usage (subject, object, indefinite, interrogative, demonstrative, reflexive, possessive, possessive adjective) which have surprisingly been extremely helpful to refer to when analyzing sentences, and definitions of adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, gerunds, and appositives. Next year they will memorize verbs and tenses as well as sentence parts, structures, and patterns. (The year after next they memorize the prepositions, helping verbs, and linking verbs.)


MCT Practice Island: As soon as we finished reading Grammar Island (which didn’t take long), we began practicing four-level analysis (which was introduced in Grammar Island) with Practice Island. This book gives us one hundred sentences to work through and really solidify the grammar concepts we have learned. On the first line we label the parts of speech. On the second line we label the parts of the sentence. On the third line we label the phrases, and on the fourth we label the clauses and type of sentence. I loved the additional comments in the teacher’s manual regarding additional concepts such as transitive and intransitive verbs, alliteration, and so much more. The comments add great value to the practice book. We try to analyze several sentences each week as our schedule allows.

(Again, it is nice to have both the student and instructor books for Practice Island, but only the instructor book is necessary for us because we do all the work together on a large white-board. If you want your child to do independent work, the student book is very convenient to use as a workbook.)

(No, MCT does not teach sentence diagramming. The sentence analysis gets us just a fraction away from the diagram, however, and I plan on showing the kids how to diagram in the next year, possibly with Susan Wise Bauer’s First Language Lessons.)

MCT Sentence Island: We started reading Sentence Island as soon as we finished up Grammar Island and had a couple sentences of Practice Island under our belts. The boys would beg to read this one. They would each take a character and read the lines with personality. Again, the author was able to convey just how wonderful and imaginative language can be! This is the writing portion of the program. The main body of the book is a story book, just as with Grammar Island, but the teacher’s manual again included small boxes on the story pages with questions or discussion topics. For each chapter you also find core concepts, concept discussion, points to emphasize, writing activities, and additional four-level analysis sentences.

I will say that many of the writing activities were open-ended, creative, ambitious, and just beyond what we were able to do. I decided to enjoy the book together, learn the concepts, talk about language, and use a more concrete, incremental approach to our writing exercises.

A quote from the instructor’s portion of the book:

Recent trends in writing instruction have sometimes resorted to strategies for avoiding the academic essence of good, correct writing, perhaps under the unfortunate assumption that academics are not fun. Sentence Island is based on the opposite philosophy—that it is not learning enough that destroys student motivation, that high academics are exciting, and that the elements of writing can and should be presented in their glossy academic glory, and called by their right names, so that students will know they are learning something important.

There is also an emphasis on appreciation and aesthetics in Sentence Island because that is a part of the truth of writing, that sentences are beautiful. The balance of the idea, harmony of subject and verb, the clarity of a phrase that modifies what it is supposed to modify, the crystal clear arrangement that places a power word at the end of the sentence—these things are beautiful. Writing is an art, and the ability to enjoy the beauty of a sentence is similar to our appreciation of other arts, such as painting or music.

I loved the final chapter of Sentence Island which introduces children to the concept of adding poetic techniques to their writing. It was the perfect way to launch our next book:

MCT Music of the Hemispheres: The poetics book covers rhyme, alliteration, meter, stanza, and similes and metaphors. Using examples from Robert Burns, Shakespeare, Carl Sandburg, Percy Shelley, Emily Dickinson, and more, the author brings poetry to life. We have only begun to read this one, but already the boys love it. (As an aside, Luke loves finding connections. He was thrilled to see a poem by Emily Dickinson because we have recently read about her for our fine arts study, and he was excited to find out that Percy Shelley was married to the author of Frankenstein (one of the little discussion comments in the book) because he just read a retelling of Frankenstein for our literature study.)

MCT Building Language: The boys and I enjoyed this book as much as the others. We started it about the same time as Sentence Island. The book begins by telling children about Ancient Rome and the history of the arch. It tells them that much of our language comes from Latin and that a Latin stems is like the arch which becomes a building or an aqueduct. Building Language again focuses on the beautiful form of language. Children learn ten Latin stems, and are introduced to several more. Each Latin stem takes on a personality of its own in creative stories. Children are introduced to a handful of words using the stem, shown parallel words in Spanish (perfect!), and encouraged to look up words in a dictionary. Our favorite exercise was creating a simile from one of our new words and explaining it, such as ‘Supervision is like a rainbow.’ (Luke now shouts with excitement every time he finds one of the Latin stems in a word.)

Institute for Excellence in Writing: While Writing With Ease is strong in concrete writing skills and MCT’s Language Arts are strong on creative expression and the beauty of language, I really wanted writing lessons that were somewhere in between. That is where IEW comes in. IEW excels at giving children concrete, incremental ways to experiment with language. We are just beginning with Teaching Writing: Structure & Style and Student Writing Intensive A, but I have seen immediate results. The key word outline system is such a fabulous method for getting children to write without trepidation. I am looking forward to using this program over the next few years and in each subject we study!

IEW Primary Arts of Language: I just purchased this program to review for Luke (and Leif). I think I will pull my favorite aspects of Primary Arts of Language and integrate them with our other studies. I particularly like the story sequence chart and outline for story summaries/narration as well as the writing style projects. Since my boys already read fluently, are working on level 2 of AAS, use Handwriting Without Tears, and are being exposed to the key word outlines from the higher level writing program, much of this will not be needed, though I think it is a terrific structure for a classroom setting. I prefer not to have all of these skills integrated into one program for homeschool purposes.

IEW Poetry Memorization: I’m sold on the importance of memorizing poetry in addition to poetry reading, appreciation, tools, techniques, and analysis. (This is an excellent article on the subject, if you haven’t read it.) Classical Conversations memory work does not include any poetry, so I’ve added this program to the line-up. It works perfectly for us. It is mastery-based, contains a terrific variety of poems (funny, serious, sweet, long, short) from a stellar line-up of poets, and includes all of the poems on CD. We listen to them at home and in the car, and use the book to follow along or for quiet review.


Some of you may be mentally adding up the cost of these materials and exclaiming (or fainting). It is certain: this is not an inexpensive (nor time-conservative!) way to do language arts! I have spread out my purchases, as well as ordered some of the more expensive programs through our distance learning program. I am not suggesting everyone must use all of the resources listed, merely sharing my thoughts on each.

I’m sure I’ll have to edit this several times as I read through and find mistakes, things I want to clarify, or (heaven forbid) add. The nice thing about teaching my children is that I am finally learning language skills myself! {Closing my eyes and clicking on ‘publish.’}

Sunday, May 15, 2011

And It All Comes Together ~ Part 1

Life is chaotic. Our ‘routine’ is chaotic. There isn’t enough of me to get it all done. And yet…

I’m having a complete, THIS IS IT moment when it comes to homeschooling. Our subjects, resources, materials, and lessons are synchronizing in the most awesome sort of way.

I shared our 2010-2011 homeschooling plans a few weeks ago, but I’d like to share more (okay, a lot of) details and review a few of my curriculum choices. Sorry about my tendency to go on and on! I’ve divided this into at least two posts so that it isn’t overwhelming.

First of all, Classical Conversations: I could not have guessed how perfect CC would be for us this year. Yes, it was a challenge getting us all there with smiles on Monday mornings (especially being 9 months pregnant, and then having a baby during week 3, and crazy illnesses during the first two months). Yes, my boys had to adjust to being in a class (which may have been more stressful each week for me than it was for them).

BUT, it was positively an anchor for us this year. The boys loved class and were always enthusiastic. Having all three boys learning the same material made review during our week a very unifying experience for them. The boys were very possessive of their individual teachers and classmates, which gave them a bit of autonomy. The relationships we all made are priceless.

The memory work took on a life of its own as it initiated discussions, ‘aha’ moments, and deeper learning. It has also woven its way (sometimes quite unexpectedly) through our lessons and life. Looking at the pages of facts and ideas that we have committed to memory and now have as ‘pegs’ on which to hang further information and ideas, I am astounded. I have experience over and over with the boys that it truly works. When they can relate something they have already learned or memorized, more information sticks easily, and the boys show greater interest. It has also given us all a beautiful sense of achievement.

Secondly, Teaching Textbooks: Math used to be my greatest struggle. I LOVED RightStart Math. I think it gives children an incredible foundation in math. But it is also very time- and teacher-intensive, with lots of little parts and pieces. If it isn’t getting done, it isn’t the right thing. We started working through Singapore workbooks, and then I realized that Teaching Textbooks was available starting with 3rd grade! This has revolutionized and renewed our math studies.

The program is extremely child-friendly. Each lesson has an audio-visual and interactive lecture (which can be viewed as many times as needed), then the child completes a series of problems (both new concepts and review) one at a time. The child may make two attempts at each problem with instant feed-back. Often, the child can click on their little ‘buddy’ for a hint. After answering the problem, the child may click to see the worked solution. (There are sample lessons at the above link.)

There are chapter quizzes and bonus rounds (speed drills) in the form of a ‘game show.’ The program features an online grade book that is accessible to the child. The parent also has access to the grade book. Parents can see exactly how many problems were completed, how many were correct, how many attempts were made, and the percentage score for each lesson. Any scores can be edited or deleted, so that the child may repeat a problem or a lesson if needed. (Parents have a separate password, so a child can only view their scores.)

Math 3 starts out very basic (my boys did more than one lesson a day in the beginning) but increases in difficulty rather quickly. It has been said that the program is not considered a rigorous math program, and that it is lacking in conceptual math. I say, if it gets done daily, if it covers all of the math concepts and skills with constant review, if students respond well to the program, if math is no longer a struggle, if the students are finally understanding math and progressing steadily, then it is a huge success. And it is for us.

Both Luke and Levi started with Math 3 in March. Levi has struggled with math in the past, but he should have no problem completing Math 3 by September and moving on to Math 4. Math comes more easily for Luke, and he, too, has done really well with Math 3. He may plateau at some point, but I suspect he will work at least a grade ahead with TT. I think that is the key for any program. Ignore pre-conceived levels. Make sure your child is working at a level (and pace) at which he or she can comprehend the material, progress, and be challenged.

Because the boys can do their math lessons in a reasonable time frame with complete independence, it is now on the every. day. list (even on the weekends and during summer) along with brushing their teeth, emptying the dishwasher, reading, and piano practice. It’s just a fact of life. This means that the boys will complete more than one level of math in a year. Instead of moving on to the next level in TT, which they may not be ready for academically, we are supplementing with Singapore Math workbooks for a more conceptual, rigorous approach as well as Mathematical Reasoning workbooks from Critical Thinking and Life of Fred after completing TT4.

(The boys have also memorized skip counting up to the 15s, squares, cubes, measurements, formulas, and laws with Classical Conversations. This information repeats every year, so once they have it completely memorized, I may add my own list of math memory work.)

Stay tuned for more….

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 18

My blogging time has been extremely limited lately. I’m reduced to posts that are organizational or accountability related in order to maximize my time management. I am sorry that these aren’t the fun, lovely, inspirational, photo-filled posts! Again, life is what it is, and this blog will reflect that. I’ll post photos and fun posts when I am able to do so.

Another excellent article this week. Death to high school English @ I wish I could just quote the whole thing (minus that one plaguing bad word…), so go read it!

I raised these questions with Mark Onuscheck, the chairman of the English department at Evanston Township High School, a large, suburban school with a diverse student body and an excellent reputation, a school that's matriculated more than a few students into my classroom. I asked him how exactly a school like his teaches or tries to teach kids to write, and his initial answers make me start chewing on my nails. He talks about processes and collaboration, about students working together and doing peer review, about how they keep writing folders, and do writing frequently in various, informal ways.

"But the writing they'll need to do in college won't be informal," I say. "And it won't be reviewed by peers but by professors. So what about specific writing and research skills? What about style and grammar?"

Almost instantly, his tone shifts from one of back-patting, pedagogy-speak to something more honest. He laughs. "It's very hard to get a lot of teachers to teach those things, especially grammar. We have such a need to engage students. There's such an emphasis on keeping student enthusiasm going and getting them to want to actively participate. When you start talking about grammar, it's like asking them to eat their vegetables, and no one wants to ask them to do that. They prefer class discussion, which is great but to a certain degree, goes off into the wind."

I’m working on a post for this week, reviewing a few of the materials and programs we’ve been using. Language arts are on the docket (Michael Clay Thompson and more), as well as Teaching Textbooks. Any other curriculum review requests?

Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed all verses)
Independent Bible reading:
Levi: Day by Day Kid's Bible 
Luke: weekly hymns on piano

Teaching Textbooks daily
Supplement with Singapore workbooks
CC math memory work (skip counting, reviewing 14s)
Math Monday in the Park (playing math games with distance learning group)

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (lesson 2)
(It isn’t all drudgery around here…)

Bill Nye: Motion (DVD)
Bill Nye: Pressure (DVD)
Bill Nye: Balance  (DVD)

Swimming (family movie night at the pool)
Lots of outdoor play (finally had a few nice days!)

Fine Arts: 
Piano lessons (Luke) 

Language Arts:
IEW Primary Arts of Language Writing: Story Sequence
IEW Poetry Memorization (poem #11)
MCT Language Arts:
Practice Island (sentences 37-41)
The Music of the Hemispheres (pp. 1-37)
All About Spelling Level 2 (step 5)
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks

Song School Latin (songs review)

Usborne Language Cards: Spanish Words and Phrases (learning one phrase and 3 vocab words weekly)

There’s a Map on My Lap: All About Maps (The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)
”Blobbing”/drawing continents
European geography review (Levi)

The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia: The Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648, France and Richelieu (Levi)
Usborne History Encyclopedia: The Power of the Habsburgs (Luke)
CC Veritas History Timeline Cards (review/solidifying memorization: Creation-Pompeii)

(read independently by both Levi and Luke unless noted otherwise)
The Hero of Bremen retold by Margaret Hodges (German legend)
The Glass Mountain retold by Diane Wolkstein (Brothers Grimm)
Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley (biography)
Oliver Twist (DK Classics: The classic (abridged) story, plus fascinating background facts and photographs)
Charles Dickens and Friends: Five Lively Retellings by Marcia Williams (Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and A Tale of Two Cities)
Frankenstein (Classic Starts) retold from the Mary Shelley original
Frankenstein (Stepping Stones Classic Chapter Book) by Mary Shelley adapted by Larry Weinberg
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Levi, unabridged)

Levi’s Reading:
The Man Who Laid the Egg by Louise A. Vernon (about Erasmus, Germany/Switzerland in 1500s)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Whole30 ~ Week 2


Look! I’m still here! Two weeks down. Two to go. I’m extremely proud of myself. 27 days without Dr. Pepper.

I’m not sure how I feel. Lola’s sleeping is all over the place, and lack of sleep affects me in a huge way. So I can’t tell if my energy levels and headaches are sleep related or food related. Regardless, I’m eating healthier than I ever have before, so that’s a huge plus.

Pro: I have made a hot, tasty (breakfast, lunch, and) dinner for 14 days in a row. (Yep. That’s a record.)

Con: I’ve had to make a hot, tasty (breakfast, lunch, and) dinner for 14 days in a row. This diet is very cooking-intensive.

Pro: My refrigerator and freezer are constantly well-stocked, and we are actually eating. the. food.

Con: I’ve had to keep the refrigerator stocked. This diet is very grocery shopping-intensive.

Pro: Nope. Let’s go straight to con on this one.

Con: My kitchen is constantly a disaster. I barely have time (or often don’t, at all) to recover from the mess of one meal before it’s time for the next. [Sigh. There just isn’t enough me to go around. I can’t clean quickly enough. Can’t cook quickly enough. Can’t parent well enough. Can’t do laundry quickly enough. Can’t return emails, teach, run errands, pay bills, wipe bottoms, make appointments quickly enough. Can’t lesson plan well enough. Can’t blog. Can’t read. Can’t watch TV. Can’t sleep. No such thing as break time, me time, quiet time, evenings, weekends, not even night-time. I’m exhausted!! Okay, sorry. Rant over.]

On Mother’s Day we had BBQ burgers with the works, roasted veggies, sweet potato chips, and a huge fruit salad. I made ‘banana split milkshake’ for dessert. YUM!

The winning recipe from this week: Chicken Pizza. Served with banana, mango, coconut milk, spinach, and frozen blackberry smoothies. Yeah, baby. I made the mini pizzas with leftover spaghetti sauce, salami, crumbled Italian sausage, sundried tomatoes, black olives and sliced fresh tomato. I know paleo pizza isn’t Whole30 approved (along with my sweet potato chips, Lara Bars, milkshakes, recent date obsession, and weighing myself…), but you do what you gotta do. So there. I can see this being a staple menu item.

BBQ flank steak and roasted yams were delicious last night.

Another hit this week: my mom’s chicken salad. I could eat this all day long. I made up two big batches of it for lunches. Very, very handy.

Mom’s Chicken Salad

2-3 cups chopped chicken
1 cup chopped celery (and/or cucumbers, zucchini)
1 apple chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans chopped (sunflower seeds are also delicious!)
bacon (of course)
finely chopped red pepper

1/2 cup mayo
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 Tablespoon dill pickle juice


Oh, and I’m down another 2 pounds this week, 7 pounds total. I’ll take it. I’ve cut down on snacking and fruits/nuts the past few days, so that might have helped things along.


How is it going for all of my fabulous Whole30 peeps?


He who has health has hope;

and he who has hope has everything.

~Arabic Proverb

Monday, May 9, 2011

Still Waiting for Spring

Lola @ the park

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 17

I know I’ve posted this picture before, but it was a scene and message I needed to remember this week!

(By the way, Blogger has been really finicky for me lately, and I’m often not able to post comments for some reason. So, thank you, thank you!, for all the wonderful comments you all have left lately. And I’m sorry if I’m not able to respond to questions or specific comments in a timely manner.)

Shoreline of Wonder

I read a great article this week. Funny. True. A great piece of advice for older students and adults. Read the whole article.

It’s Not Hard; It’s Just Work @ The Chronicle of Higher Education

You have to read this stuff. You have the time. You just have to make up your mind to do it. It's not hard; it's just work. There is no success without it.

When you read, don't skip the headings. They tell you where you are in the chapter and what's going on. And hold a pen or a pencil while you read. Research shows you'll retain more of the information if there's something to write with in your hand. Underline stuff, circle key words, and put notes in the margin. Those notes will help you go back over the material before the exam.

When you see a word you don't know, what do you do? Do you skip over it? Do you think, "if it's important someone will tell me what it means"? Well, grade school is over. You have the Internet. It takes 10 seconds to look up a word. No excuses for not knowing the words in the book.

Do you ever read out loud? Hearing the book being read can boost your comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary, even if you're the one reading aloud. And doing so will tell you right away what words you don't know.


Bible Memory:
Sing the Word From A to Z (CD, reviewed all verses)
Independent Bible reading:
Levi: Day by Day Kid's Bible
Cedarmont Kids: Hymns (CD) (and Luke hymns on piano)

Teaching Textbooks daily (supplemented with a few Singapore workbook pages)
Reviewed CC Memory Work (worked on skip counting 13s)

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (lesson 1)
The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin D. Wiker (Levi independent read, 160 pgs)
The Periodic Table: Elements with Style by Basher
Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction! by Basher
DK Eyewitness: Chemistry
Bill Nye: Atoms (DVD)
Bill Nye: Phases of Matter (DVD)
Bill Nye: Nutrition (DVD)

Fine Arts:
Emily by Michael Bedard & illustrated by Barbara Cooney
The Mouse of Amherst by Elizabeth Spires
I’m nobody! Who are you? Poems by Emily Dickinson
Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures by Jane O’Connor
Piano lessons (Luke)

Language Arts:
IEW Writing:
Primary Arts of Language Writing (story sequence chart, Little Red Riding Hood)
TWSS/Student Writing Intensive A (Levi: key word outline, Pearls)
IEW Poetry Memorization (poems 9 & 10)
MCT Language Arts:
Building Language (reviewed stems)
All About Spelling Level 2 (step 4

Song School Latin (chapter 29-31/review)
Headventure Land (Latin review game)

Maps & Globes
Continue map drawing and 'blobbing' continents (CC)

Reviewing/memorizing history time line (Creation to Pompeii)
The Story of the World: Early Modern Times (reviewed chapters 1-9 on audio CD)

(read independently by both Levi and Luke unless noted)
Brothers Grimm:
Rumpelstiltskin retold & illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs translated by Randall Jarrell & illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert
Iron Hans illustrated by Marilee Heyer
Alexander Dumas:
The Three Musketeers (Jim Weiss retelling, audio CD)
The Three Musketeers (Great Illustrated Classics)
Storybook Treasures (20 classic children’s stories on DVD)


Our motto this week:

Festina Lente

”make haste slowly”


Haste makes waste.  ~ Benjamin Franklin

Slow and steady wins the race.  ~Aesop

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother’s Day To Me!

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

(Necklace by The Vintage Pearl. ‘Hope to bliss’ is in reference to Our Story. We celebrated our 15th anniversary in February!)

Lola gave me the best Mother’s Day present ever. She slept two full nights. Yes, bliss. Russ took all 4 kids out of the house Friday evening so that I could have some quiet time all alone. Yes, bliss. And he let me sleep in Saturday morning, made a yummy sausage and eggs breakfast, then hung out with the boys while Lola and I visited my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. (Quiet, adult conversation!!) Yes, bliss.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my beautiful mom readers!

I desire to be a mother--

if only to give food to the craving activity of my soul...

Maternity is an enterprise in which

I have opened an enormous stake...

Motherhood will develop my energy, enlarge my heart,

and compensate me for all things by infinite joys!

~Honore de Balzac, Memoirs of Two Young Married Women (1894)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Whole30 ~ Week 1

7 days of no grains, legumes (including soy or peanuts), dairy, or added sugar. 20 days of no Dr. Pepper. This is shocking, people.

Day 1: Ate good food. Had energy. Felt great.

Day 2: Levi gave me his cold bug (sore throat, stuffy head). Massive headache. Shaky and felt like I was going to pass out. Foggy brain. Yuck. Still ate good food.

Day 3: More of day 2, but on no sleep as Lola was now sick. Oh, and Luke and Leif, too. Ate more good food.

Day 4: Sore throat, headache, and shaky/dizzy feeling mostly gone, but stuffy/runny nose persisted AND Lola spent a second night not sleeping. I was beyond tired, and Little Miss wouldn’t sleep during the day, either. I wanted a babysitter and a long nap. (My mom is out of town for over a week…what was she thinking?! Just kidding, Mom. I hope you are having a terrific time.) Oh, and what I really, really, REALLY wanted was a whole batch of hot-out-of-the-oven-chocolate-chip-cookies and a 32 oz Dr. Pepper. Ate good food instead. Please pat me on the back for surviving this day.

Day 5: Lola slept the night (mostly), but not so much during the day, so I was a little tired. Lingering cold.

Day 6: More of the same. Really great dinner, though! Levi gave the bacon, onion, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash, baby spinach, and shrimp (with a spritz of lemon juice) stir fry two thumbs up!

Day 7: Fabulous (not) sinus headache. Still not getting quite enough sleep at night, and it really wears on me! And I cheated. I popped a cough drop in my mouth at 4:30 am because I couldn’t stop coughing, I didn’t want to wake my family, and I desperately wanted to get a little more sleep!

I was crazy in the mood for snacking and eating out, and I had to run errands with the kids. It took all of my will-power to bypass all the drive-thrus and the snack aisle at Target and 95% of the food at the grocery store. The boys were ‘starving’ so I bought a big bunch of bananas, and they each snacked on one on the way home. This Whole30 is going to change their lives, too. I was shocked to see them inhale salmon burgers, baby spinach, and oven-roasted green beans for dinner. Who knew.


What I’ve eaten this past week:

Roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, baby spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, Brussels sprouts, yams, pumpkin, red pepper, onion, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, avocado, bananas, kiwi, apples, strawberries, blackberries, mango. (That’s got to be some sort of record…)

Baked steelhead trout (heavenly), basil-grilled chicken (on a bed of baby spinach, topped with chopped sun-dried tomatoes), marinara meat sauce (over thinly-sliced, sauteed red cabbage), tuna, shrimp, and salmon.

I’m drinking about 96 oz of water (sometimes part unsweetened green tea) every day and supplementing with calcium.

(I’m not going to lie. I want food I can’t have. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But I still want it.)

Do you feel sorry for me, yet?

Let me add: No portion ‘control.’ No counting calories. Ate when I was hungry. BBQ burgers (bun-less) topped with dijon mustard, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and bacon served with yams oven-roasted in olive oil and sea salt, sliced apples fried in a generous amount of coconut oil (cinnamon and nutmeg, too!), banana split milkshakes (full-fat coconut milk, frozen bananas and strawberries, and unsweetened cocoa powder…. oh. my. goodness!!), deviled eggs, sweet potato chips, sunflower seeds, black olives, dried apricots (like candy), at least two eggs scrambled in bacon fat with bacon every morning, most of my veggies have been oven-roasted in a generous amount of olive oil (I never knew veggies could taste so yummy!!), more coconut milk in smoothies, almond butter slathered on sliced apples, and one Lara Bar (those things are tasty!).

I would have taken pictures, but, trust me, we didn’t stand on ceremonies when it came to digging in.

I think Russ is loving this diet. He gets a hot, home-made, interesting, delicious dinner EVERY night. And a lunch packed for him every day. I think he’s getting spoiled.

(If only this diet came with grocery delivery service and a kitchen clean-up crew!!)

As I was chowing down on yummy food, I couldn’t imagine losing weight, especially as someone who never loses weight. And here it is:













I lost 5 pounds.


I don’t expect to continue that kind of weight loss (or even maintain it), and I realize much of that is water weight, but it still feels good, ya know?

Here’s to week two. Let’s raise a glass of banana-split milkshake. Anyone joining me? Grin.

Check out more fabulous recipes at The Clothes Make the Girl, Whole9 Steal This Meal, The Foodee, Whole Life Eating, and ChowStalker.


Live in rooms full of light

Avoid heavy food

Be moderate in the drinking of wine

Take massage, baths, exercise, and gymnastics

Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water

Change surroundings and take long journeys

Strictly avoid frightening ideas

Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements

Listen to music.

~A. Cornelius Celsus

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 15 & 16

The past two weeks have been a bit of chaos. Just keep swimming… and all that. Easter. Russ went back to work. We had our end of year program for Classical Conversations. Play dates, appointments, projects, STUFF. And in the in between moments we read, watched, thought, played, and learned.

I’m way behind posting my fine arts studies resources for the last few months. That’s on my to-do list for this next week. I also want to post an end of the year review for Classical Conversations. Other than that (and eating well), we’ll be buckling down for lessons.

I think this is what we did (not much) the past two weeks:

CC Memory Review

Bible Memory:
Sing the Word From A to Z  (Verses V-Z)
Independent Bible reading:
Levi: Day by Day Kid's Bible
Luke: The Children's Illustrated Bible (DK)
Leif:  The Early Reader's Bible


Teaching Textbooks daily (the ONE thing that got done every day…wahoo!! for TT!)

Bill Nye: Pollution Solutions (DVD)
Bill Nye: Inventions (DVD)
Bill Nye: Probability (DVD)
Bill Nye: Simple Machines (DVD)
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Gators & Dragons and Other Wild Beasts (DVD)

Fine Arts:
Piano practice (occasionally) and lessons (Luke)

Language Arts:
Building Language (stem lesson 10 ~ book finished!)
Sentence Island (chapter 5)
Practice Island (sentences 32-36)
All About Spelling Level 2 (step 3)

Levi: Labeling European map for CC display

The American Presidents 33rd-44th: 1945-2010 Postwar and Contemporary United States (DVD)

Pilgrim’s Progress (movie with Liam Neeson)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Eyewitness Classics) by Victor Hugo (+ animated DVD)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Stepping Stones Chapter Book)
Les Miserables Focus on the Family Radio Theater Audio CD
Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert (DVD) (minus a couple songs…)

The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Levi’s Assigned Reading:
Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz

Levi’s Free Reading:
Benjamin Pratt & The Keepers of the School: Fear Itself by Andrew Clements
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
and lots more…

Family Time:
Easter Celebration
Movie Nights: Mandie and the Secret Tunnel, Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front
Family Night at the swimming pool

Two playdates with CC friends
Loads of outside play time
Easter celebration
CC end of year party