Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Book Problem.


I was having a great day on Monday—all full of warm fuzzies and such—but the week went downhill from there. Surely it must get better. Until then, I’ll leave you with this picture of a few of our books. I’d like to figure out how to make them not quite so messy looking, but that’s a tough assignment when they are all different shapes and sizes!

In happier news, all four of the children are starting AWANA this evening. I cannot tell you how desperately Russ and I need one evening a week without children. Even if we are paying bills or staring in silence at a blank wall. So, really, we didn’t give the kids much say in the matter.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Challenge A ~ Update #1 and Helps and Hints


I think the Challenge Guide is fantastic. We’re using the included schedules and checklists rather than come up with something on our own. I love that a separate weekly checklist for Latin assignments is included to make it easier to write out details each week. So far, I’ve felt that the guide contains the information needed in a well-organized format. I’ve put it all in a notebook for Levi with the schedules and checklists in the front (with the year-at-a-glance and sample weekly schedule pages laminated). Then I’ve added tabs for “Writing and Rhetoric” and “Geography,” with all the other “Info” pages in the back—just to make it easier for him to navigate through the pages he’ll use the most.

We’ve spent these first two or three weeks doing almost everything together. Levi is extremely relational and interactive. He likes to talk through things. And he’s very distracted when working alone. He is also adjusting to a much heavier work load, and, for a boy who loves free time to play and just be, this transition could have been rough. Instead, I see that he is enjoying the increased one-on-one time, and the relationship aspect off-sets the work load by quite a bit. He is less bothered by his siblings doing less because I am working with him.

I also know that it is going to take him a bit to understand what is required for each assignment, how to approach them, how the schedule and checklists work, what a day’s work should look like, and how to navigate his assignments independently. I want him to feel capable and confident. I don’t want him to feel like he’s been thrown off the deep end. I really think he’ll get there, but we’ll work up to it slowly.

[My expectations for the other boys have been very low these weeks. They’re reading independently and doing math with us. Luke’s copying some charts for Essentials and we’re doing bare minimum for IEW. They’ve been drawing and tracing some maps. Other than that, they just haven’t yet started “school.” And that’s okay.]


:: Grammar—“Latin A” using Henle First Year Latin

I am SO THANKFUL for the FREE worksheets for Henle First Year Latin exercises from Magistra Jones. I’ve printed them off, 3-hole-punched them, and put them under “Exercises” in Levi’s Latin notebook so they are ready to go. For students who struggle with the amount of writing, or keeping their papers nice and neat, I think these are invaluable. I might have him transition to blank paper in Ch B or I.

I had Staples spiral-bound both the main Henle Latin book and the Grammar book so that they will lie open while Levi is using them. I can’t imagine using them any other way.

It’s important to note that having studied some formal Latin in the past makes this a much less overwhelming subject (so far). The vocabulary, declensions, exercises, and most of the grammar from these first few weeks are fairly easy for Levi.

ETA: We may also be using these free Latin video tutorials on YouTube as we get further in to Henle and further in over our head.

[May I just interject here and mention that I loathe the sound of Classical Latin pronunciation? It is so unnatural and ugly. Ecclesiastical Latin is just beautiful. It is the pronunciation used for prayers and songs. It is intuitive and complements Spanish language studies. I’m trying to pronounce the words both ways for Levi, but the 1st declension ae ending is particularly difficult for me to remember since I learned the declension songs through CC Foundations. Sigh. It is what it is.]


:: Exposition and Composition—Literature, Discussion, & Persuasive Writing

I’m glad I’ve had a little experience with The Lost Tools of Writing over the past few months (in addition to the Two Andrews event and the LTW workshop I attended over a year ago). I led some afternoon workshops for the two CC Practicums at which I spoke, and we’ve been using the ANI chart at some of our recent Book Detectives meetings (which means that part is familiar to Levi, as well). Levi and I discussed and filled out a story chart from Teaching the Classics for the first literature selection, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, before working on the ANI chart. I’m hoping to keep that up throughout the year and make use of the Words Aptly Spoken resource.

Because Levi is a fast reader, and because he enjoys reading (just about anything), and because he has already read each of the literature selections at least once, this is going to be his easiest seminar for a while. The writing is very straight-forward and simple (and short) as the students learn more about invention (thinking about ideas) and the very basic structure of persuasive essays within the context of formal rhetoric.

:: Debate—Geography

Levi is spending quite a bit of time on the geography quizzes at Sheppard Software. These quizzes have not just countries and capitals, but also many geographical features and many different levels of difficulty.

I had purchased the recommended Compact Atlas of the World to get him started, but after reading some “been there done that” recommendations I also purchased the National Geographic Student World Atlas. It shows continents on a single page, which makes tracing or drawing on 8.5x11 paper much easier. (Actually, I purchased the third edition, but this new fourth edition looks great.) He has used the National Geographic Atlas almost exclusively so far.

Levi wants to copy fairly carefully (and color, oh the hours that can be spent…), and we’re going to have to figure out how to transition to more simple “blob” type maps that he can re-draw from memory.

The CC Facebook groups are proving invaluable for recommendations and hints. There is an “official” CC group as well as a group specifically for Challenge families. I think it was on one of those groups where this Draw the USA Video Tutorial was posted. It breaks the US into four sections and gives step-by-step instructions. Super helpful!! My Foundations students will be using it this year for U.S. geography, as well.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t mention that I have no idea how we’re going to learn all the (suggested) material for geography. As in: all 50 states (with capitals) drawn from memory as well as 41 rivers and 17 features. In two weeks. Seriously?! Yowsa.


::  Research—Natural Science

I discovered that an extensive home library is helpful when doing science research. We had about 7 books to choose from when picking sources for protozoa, and I didn’t have to hit the library or internet. Awesome.

Three books in particular will be very helpful this year, and I am having Levi read them entirely in addition to his research.

  • Introduction to Biology by John Holzmann (available used on Amazon or new at Sonlight). This is a fantastic narrative-style introduction to biology written for (upper) elementary students that focuses mainly on the plant and animal kingdoms (though it does contain some history of biology). It is written from a Christian perspective and uses Biblical references to address creation, but it is not dogmatic about young or old earth creation (hallelujah).
  • Real Science 4 Kids: Focus On Middle School Biology (also available through Rainbow Resource where you can watch a short video of the author, Rebecca W. Keller PhD). The author is an active research scientist and homeschool mom. This book is written in textbook format with great color illustrations. It is written from an Intelligent Design perspective.
  • Exploring the World of Biology: From Mushrooms to Complex Life Forms by John Hudson Tiner. I love this whole series of books (also used by Memoria Press). This narrative-style text covers much of the historical context of biology and includes many biographical sketches (Jacques Yves Cousteau, Louis Pasteur, George Washington Carver, Aristotle, Carl Linnaeus, and many more). Even literature references are sprinkled throughout (The Tyger by William Blake and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, for example). It is written from a Christian perspective, but not specifically young earth.

Levi could search and read for hours and not make a decision about his specific topic. And then read several more hours and not make a key word outline. And then browse another hour or two and not draw his sketch. I’m reminded of the quote, “Completion is the death of possibility.” That certainly applies to Levi generally and applies to his science research specifically.


::  Rhetoric—Clear Reasoning

The 3 weekly catechism questions to memorize are no problem so far. (My awesome best friend put them all to music, and I can’t wait to get those recordings from her.) The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning is easy and enjoyable (plus Levi was already familiar with it). Levi read through all of It Couldn't Just Happen: Knowing the Truth About God's Awesome Creation months ago because reading is no problem for him, but the summarizing is definitely going to take a bit longer. His tutor is having the students write all their chapter summaries in a spiral notebook. It’s a great skill for him to learn, though!

Check out this fantastically fun illustrated book of fallacies, online for free, that complements The Fallacy Detective.


::  Logic—Mathematics

We are using Saxon 8/7 with the Teaching Tapes (recommended by Leigh Bortins). I love Saxon’s emphasis on math vocabulary, laws and properties, the “why’s” of math, and skill mastery. I love that Saxon 8/7 reviews all the basic math skills and concepts while adding in algebraic concepts. I love CC’s emphasis on Socratic dialogue using math terms. Math is traditionally Levi’s weakest subject, however, and we could spend hours each day on math if we do everything (drill worksheet, mental math warm-up, video lesson, practice questions, 30 problems for each lesson, corrections on missed problems, and additional tests and investigations). I don’t want to skimp because he needs the practice, but we’ll have to find a balance somewhere.

At the moment, we’re making math a family activity. The other two boys are strong in math, so they join us. I have individual white boards for everyone (including Lola for drawing, and a large one for me). We do the warm-up mental math together, and the boys write answers on their white boards. We watch the lesson and do practice questions together. Leif fades somewhere in there (he’s great at math, but has no stamina, ha!). Sometimes Levi (and occasionally Luke) and I do part or whole lessons together using the white board. Levi is super interactive/conversational/relational, and math is much less painful this way. It also goes much faster than if he tries to do it independently (and stares off into space the whole time). Corrections are also immediate and less time-consuming. I’m guessing we’ll end up doing about half of the lessons together and half independently. We aren’t doing so well on the drill worksheets and investigations. I might save them for review over breaks and summer.


That’s our experience so far!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Good Stuff From Around the Web

The Power of Words


The Power of Words

:: “Let the Little Children Come to Me”: The Child’s Moral Imagination @ The Imaginative Conservative

“Children need to read, play, think, and ask questions, and in the process, form an active and eager imagination in which they process the questions and meaning of life. They need to escape to a pretend world in order to come back to reality with a more tangible understanding of the good and evil, the nature of man, and what it means to live the good life. Of course, they will not realize that they are learning these things, but they are, nonetheless. C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Ralph Moody’s Little Britches, and so many other children’s books cause young and old minds alike to abandon their own afflictions and imagine a different time and place in order to deepen their understanding of the true, the good, and the beautiful.”

:: 8 Reasons Why Fairy Tales Are Essential to Childhood @ Imagination Soup

Fairy tales show real life issues in a fantastical scenario where most often the hero triumphs…Children need to discover in a safe environment that bad things happen to everyone. Because guess what? No one in life is immune from challenges — so we need to build capacity in our children. Do we build emotional muscles so our children can hang on during tough times or do we shelter our kids, protecting them, leaving them so weak they can’t handle anything requiring strength?

:: The Power of Grace @ The Atlantic (Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead is one of the most haunting, exquisite books I’ve ever read. I got shivers reading this review of Lila, which I’ve pre-ordered.)

Robinson’s grace is all the things we don’t have names for: the immortal souls we may or may not have, a doll with rag limbs loved to tatters. It’s sweet wild berries eaten in a field after a man baptizes the woman he will someday marry. Grace is money for a boy who may have killed his father; it’s one wife restoring the roses on the grave of another. Grace here isn’t a refutation of loss but a way of granting sorrow and joy their respective deeds of title. It offers itself to the doomed and the blessed among us, which is to say all of us. “Pity us, yes, but we are brave,” Lila realizes, “and wild, more life in us than we can bear, the fire infolding itself in us.”

:: Henry James and the Great Y.A. Debate @ The New Yorker (As someone who loves Harry Potter, Hunger Games and, say, Gilead, I found much food for thought in this article. It’s long but worthy.)

Why is it, then, that we rightly recognize in James a maturity absent from so much of American culture not just today but a hundred years ago? It is, I think, in part because he treats the passage into adulthood as not just painful or costly but also as necessary, and he looks that necessity straight in the face. What’s more, he treats his reader as a fellow adult aware of this necessity. (In his magnificent story “The Author of Beltraffio,” the narrator asks the famous author whether young people should be allowed to read novels. “Good ones—certainly not!” he answers. Not that good novels are bad for young readers, he adds, “But very bad, I am afraid, for the novel.”)

:: Less internet – but more of what? @ The Art of Simple (I need to implement this one.)

I would like to suggest that you read poetry instead.

Why?  Because really, you’re looking to replace a habit that is in the cracks and crevices of your day. Most of the time, this isn’t about replacing a 4 hour block of internet-ing with a dinner party. It’s about replacing 5 to 10 minute chunks when you’re standing in line, riding the bus home from work, or hanging out at the playground with your kids.

:: Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress @ The Wall Street Journal

The point of the club isn't to talk about literature, but to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted. The group calls itself the Slow Reading Club, and it is at the forefront of a movement populated by frazzled book lovers who miss old-school reading.


Art and Overcoming

:: These Works of Art Truly Amazing. But Wait Til You Find Out Who the Artist Is & How He Made Them @ IJReview. (Astounding.)

::  How Many Famous Painters Can You Name? (quiz)



:: Love Is All You Need: Insights from the Longest Longitudinal Study on Men Ever Conducted @ The Art of Manliness (Fascinating reading.)

Nothing quite like the Grant Study has ever been attempted; as Vaillant puts it, this research represents “one of the first vantage points the world has ever had on which to stand and look prospectively at a man’s life from eighteen to ninety.” The mountains of data collected over more than seven decades has become a rich trove for examining what factors present in a man’s younger years best predict whether he will be successful and happy into old age.

…When Vaillant crunched the numbers, he discovered no significant relationship between a man’s level of flourishing and his IQ, his body type (mesomorph, ectomorph, endomorph), or the income and education level of his parents.

The factors that did loom large, and collectively predicted all ten Decathlon events, had one thing in common: relationships.



:: Give Them Swords @ Sharp Paynes

This world is full of so many portals-of-sin, so many gateways to a distraction from Jesus and the narrow way. They are in my own life and I hold them in my own hands. I fight them in my mind, and I only wrestle down strongholds of word and deed by His word and I need, I need, a protecting of my own. I need a Jesus-covering like a mother’s love and father’s affection.

I worry that they might make mistakes too big for me to fix, and therein lies so many problems of my own.



::The Two Key Traits Employers Need From Today's College Graduates @ Forbes

Current Events

:: While India's girls are aborted, brides are wanted @ CNN

Decades of sex-selective abortion have created an acute lack of women in certain parts of India. Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides. It's a cycle influenced by poverty and medical technologies, but one that ultimately is perpetuated by India's attitude towards women.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Annual Clean House Photo


My living room looked nothing like this photo this morning. And this afternoon I had to stage the photo just right so that you could not see into any other room, like the kitchen. Especially the kitchen.

But this evening the kitchen and bathroom are passable. (We won’t talk about the bedrooms.) Please stop by unexpectedly while my house is clean. You have five minutes to get here.


I don’t usually have quite so much furniture in here, but I added a coffee table and a few chairs (and removed about 50 books from the large ottoman) in preparation for book club this evening.

I adore my new entertainment center. I was so sick of that huge red armoir (and old television) that took up a ginormous amount of space and jutted its sharp corners into the room. This one is stream-lined, fits the space perfectly, and holds a huge number of DVDs and other odds and ends in the spacious drawers. It’s a tricky space because we have a wall heater near the floor, and I was ecstatic when we saw this at IKEA for much less than we would have spent to make something custom and not as nice. (The shelves and drawers are customizable.)


Time’s up.

The couch is now full of laundry.

Working Hard(ly)

Lola Construction

Well, some of us are. Levi’s been working solid days on his school work. Leif, however, slips away whenever possible. At least he leaves me updates on his whiteboard that he is supposed to be using for math…

School Work

I hate those projects that start with a mess and make a bigger mess.

We’re hoping to get our house and shop painted. Which means that all the junk on the porches (remember I said they were dumps?) and even more junk all around the shop needed to be dealt with so that Russ could pressure-wash everything. The reasonable thing was to dump it all in the front lawn and driveway. Um, ugh.

It was a long weekend, and Russ has been burning (like usual) both ends of the candle.

But we’ve got it mostly taken care of. The exterior of the house is clean, at least. And the lawn is free of debris. That’s something.

Now to clean the inside of my house so I’m not terribly embarrassed when 8 women (we’re missing more than half the group this month) arrive this evening to discuss Hamlet.

[I love my people. We’re spending 10 months (two per act) on Hamlet. For each act, we will be practicing one of Aristotle’s topics of invention (definition, comparison, relationship, circumstance, and testimony) as well as reading aloud within the group. Fun. Stuff.]

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back To School {Fun}

back to school excitement

In the past years we’ve done several (not)back-to-school events in September. This year is a bit different, but I am honestly ready for the change. Less going. More doing. More rest.

We did, however, attend the back-to-school event for our charter school this past Friday. We spent time at the Riverfront Carousel in Salem, picnicked in the park, and then walked over to the A.C. Gilbert Children’s Museum to play for a couple hours. I have no idea why I have no pictures from the museum. I think I was trying to be “in the moment.” Or maybe I was tired. [nah, that couldn’t be…]

The weather was perfection. The kids loved the location, loved spending time with their friends, and enjoyed meeting their new teacher. Success.

[Levi did some math on the way there and worked on the weekend to make up for the missed day. No more playing hookey.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cowgirl Ivy Turns 10

Ivy's 10th Birthday

[I’m a couple weekends behind in posting, but what’s new?]

We attended Ivy’s “cowgirl” birthday party. It was nothing less than usual. A general store. Horse (okay, just saddle) rides. Wanted posters and mustaches. An amazing spread of BBQ chicken drumsticks, cornbread, and beans. “Dirt” cake, rice krispie treat hay bales, and cowboy hat cookies.

Lola started out in a cute cowgirl outfit, but she disappeared upstairs. When I found her, she was in an outfit from the “costume closet.” It seems she thought the party was one saloon girl short. With Oreo face and mismatched pigtails, no less.


Friday, September 12, 2014



I read an article this evening that struck me as important in this age of social media and in my life as a blogger: Instagram Envy, Being Authentic on the Internet, and When It’s Time to Break Up with a Blog @ Carrots for Michaelmas. I encourage y’all to go read the whole thing, but a couple points jumped out at me. They might be obvious, and yet we I forget them all the time.

I compare my unedited life with someone else’s edited life when I browse the social media/blog world.

This goes one of two ways for me: 1.) the person is a great writer and can make even the worst struggles either beautifully poignant or absolutely hilarious or 2.) the person is a fantastic photographer.

What I need to remember is that both the writer and the photographer are artists, and their art is purposeful—edited to deliver a message. My life, the day-to-day nitty-gritty, is unedited. I see everything, warts and dirty dishes and failures and all. It’s not fair of me to compare the two.

Authenticity in my own blogging means that no one should meet the real me or see my real world and be surprised.

I try, I really do try to be authentic in this space. It’s very difficult for me to show that through photography, however, because as an artist I want my pictures to be beautiful. And life is not always, sometimes not at all, beautiful. And sometimes the un-beautiful is not my story to share. I must be respectful of those whose stories are woven with mine. I am also not the brilliant writer who can weave a story to make you cry or laugh.

Really, there is more to say, like the fact that we have responsibility as blog readers and social media browsers to be aware of our own weaknesses and aware of what brings us joy or builds us up, but I need sleep so I’ll end this quick post with some authentic friend-to-friend honesty:

  • I can’t stick to diets or schedules. I love to eat junk food, and I am selfish and have poor self-discipline. I’d love to sleep 10 hours every night.
  • I don’t get up early every (any) morning. I’m terrible at making time for devotions or quiet time.
  • I take everything personally and get defensive at the slightest (imagined) criticism. And then I spend hours ranting in my head and having imaginary conversations with people who will never win the argument because I’m doing the talking for them.
  • I let little things bother me like a bur under the saddle. Like the lady at the children’s museum today who said my 3-year-old shouldn’t be running in the huge outdoor play area (after I used the phrase “she’s tired from running around in the heat for the past two hours”). Seriously?! I’m supposed to keep my toddler and three boys at a calm walking speed in an outdoor play area with ramps and ropes and stairs and slides and tunnels and mazes and whatnot? Whatever. Or that longtime friend who blocked me on Facebook (not unfriended—BLOCKED) with no obvious reason or communication whatsoever as if we (she) were middle-schoolers. Whatever.
  • We are sit-down family dinner failures in our house.
  • My front porch (and back porch, honestly) looks like a dump.
  • I am terrible at getting things done unless I have a deadline or a specific commitment. And then I wait until last-minute (or last-second) panic sets in.
  • I lose my temper with my children. Often. And it isn’t pretty.
  • I could enjoy reading a steady diet of romance novels and nothing else.
  • I could enjoy watching a steady diet chick flicks and nothing else.
  • I crave affirmation and praise.
  • I prefer need a day’s notice (or more) if someone wants to visit me at my house.
  • I am not good at house cleaning, much less deep cleaning. It takes me all day just to pick up surface junk, and then I’m too tired to clean.
  • I hate to volunteer for things.
  • My boys are voracious readers, but I assure you, they have less than impressive or pleasant qualities as well. (Ha!)

This list could go on for a long time, but maybe this will help some of you have a more realistic idea of my unedited life. [wry grin]

And now I’m curious. If you read my blog and then met me in person, were you surprised? It is my sincere desire that this blog be an authentic space, and I want to work on that if I’m falling short.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

And So It Begins


We’re both finding out what a full day of lessons is like. It might take several weeks to get our groove and increase the independence. This week, in particular, is a bit chaotic. His tutor has been very ill, and we’re doubling up classes and assignments this first week. I’ll know better what “normal” might look like at the end of next week.

He and I are going to be stretched and learn a lot this year, that’s for sure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Beginning of the 9th Year @ Mt. Hope Academy!


I started reading and math lessons with Levi when he turned 4. And here we are, eight and a half years later. It’s shocking, really. I always knew this is what I wanted to do, but some days I didn’t think I’d make it another week—or even another hour. [wry grin]

I’ve chronicled the past seven years of home school here on the blog. [SEVEN+ YEARS of blogging. That boggles my mind.]

But check out these lovely students:

Mt Hope Academy Students


I described my students four years ago, and not much has changed.

(Other than adding one more big distraction student, of course.)

But now I have a brooding adolescent middle school student on my hands. (I shared about Levi’s personality here.) In many ways he is still the same as he was four years ago, though.

I will say that Luke has gotten so. much. easier. than when he was younger because he is suddenly capable. He mows, he fixes things, he organizes things, he works on lists independently, and he is motivated by incentives. (I shared about Luke’s personality here.)

Leif is much the same as always (so sweet and loving, so ornery, so difficult to keep focused, so smart when he’s reading and talking independently, so sneaky, so stubborn about assigned lessons, and so like a puppy that can’t control his mouth or body).

Lola is audacious and interactive and hilarious and very, very distracting. And unable to entertain herself independently.

This should be an exciting year!


Some of my favorite posts that describe what we’re currently all about here at Mt. Hope Academy:

::  Classical Conversations (not much has changed since this third year update, though we’re now in our 5th year)

::  Classical Conversations Challenge (the main thing that has changed is that Levi is starting the Challenge level this year)

::  Our Big-Picture Educational Scope and Sequence Integrated with Classical Conversations (because we don’t just do CC! and there are more links in this post)

::  The Great Conversation (our over-arching themes and philosophy)

::  The Trivium: Instructions for Living a Life (because it isn’t just school)


I think we’re ready for a new year.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

As Ready as We’ll Ever Be


This past week’s TO DO list:

Levi complete week 1 Challenge assignments (and get a head start on week 2, due to the short week) [Completed more math, geography, Latin, and more this week; hoping to make this double first week not quite so crazy.]

Organize independent work notebooks for Leif and Luke. [I guess I’ll work more on that this week.]

Organize filing system for books, completed paper, and supplies in kitchen and living room. [Still in progress.]

Organize independent reading selections (history, literature, science, art, math, etc…) for the first few weeks. [Nope.]

Get notebooks and supplies for Essentials ready.

Clean Lola’s room (purge toys and clothes). [Needs more work.]

Clean Boys’ room (purge toys and clothes). [Needs more work.]

Clean house. Catch up on all laundry. [As caught up on both as I’m ever going to be…]

Meal plan for September. Grocery shopping. [Grocery shopping done. Meal plan only through this week.]

Finish summer blog posts.

Quit drinking Dr. Pepper/Paleo-ish  [Did well until today, Sunday. Back to the grindstone tomorrow.]

Hair cut for me.

Edit Kelley family photo session. [Halfway finished.]

A day in the mountains.

A day on the beach.

A day at an amusement park in Portland. [Decided not to go because of the hot weather.]

A date night. [Dinner and a movie! We watched The Hundred-Foot Journey at our favorite little vintage theater in town, and it was lovely.]

A birthday party.

Middle school church group pool party (Levi)

3 hours at the coffee shop engaged in phenomenal conversation with dear friends at book club #4 (me)

Backpacks, snack bags, lunches, and clothes out for Monday morning


Well, that’s close enough. Ready or not, the school year officially begins tomorrow.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Day on the Beach ~ Check


Slight change of plans. We were going to an amusement park in Portland today—until I found out it was going to be 90+ degrees. The weather forecast said 80 for the coast. That made the decision easy. Coast it was.

And HOT. 90 degrees hot. What?! I don’t know when I’ve been to the Oregon coast in such warm weather. We hit the docks first and checked out the boats. We watched a man putting fresh-caught tuna on ice. The boys thought that was quite interesting. Then we checked out the lighthouse. The heat was getting to us, and everyone was cranky.

So we headed to the beach…where no one was cranky anymore.

NewportImg2014-09-05_0051fpmImg2014-09-05_0127fpmImg2014-09-05_0066fpmIn the waterImg2014-09-05_0102fpmImg2014-09-05_0129fpmImg2014-09-05_0072fpm

Then we ate clam chowder as the sun set over the ocean.

I love my life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rilla Grey ~ An Un-Birthday [Catching Up from July]


I’m a little slow on my posting, but better late than never.

My niece Rilla Grey was born just five days before Christmas. We celebrated her first birthday (with my grandma!), because how can you not celebrate a first birthday?! But from now on Shannon and Ben are planning to have an un-birthday (or 1/2 year) party for her in the summer so she can have a celebration separate from the Christmas festivities in December. That, and they have a gorgeous garden and itty-bitty inside living space.

So a whole host of friends and family gathered in the garden in July to celebrate Rilla’s un-birthday with yummy treats (Oreos because Rilla loves eating them when Poppy shares) and games and stacking wood “cake” blocks.

Rilla's Un-BirthdayImg2014-07-26_0019fpmImg2014-07-26_0004fpmRilla's Un-B-Day

I’m so glad Lola has such a sweet little sister-cousin just down the road.

And just for fun, two pictures I took of her at one of the concerts in the park:


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Read-Aloud Revival ~ Chatting with Sarah About Books!


Many of you are already familiar with Sarah Mackenzie and her gorgeous blog, Amongst Lovely Things. She is also one of the founding members of Schole Sisters, a lovely community of classically homeschooling mothers, and the author of Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, which includes audio conversations with Andrew Kern and others.

Sarah has also started a Read-Aloud Revival podcast with guests such as Andrew Pudewa, Jim Weiss, Tsh Oxenreider, Adam Andrews (author of Teaching the Classics), and Lawrence Goldstone (author of Deconstructing Penguins).

I was deeply honored (and a tiny bit overwhelmed and intimidated by the company!) when Sarah asked me if I would be willing to participate in her podcast. You all know I can’t turn down a chance to talk about books!

Please head over to Sarah’s blog to listen and say hello!

For those of you here from Amongst Lovely Things, Welcome! If you are looking for my Book Detectives posts, you will find them at this link.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ready. Set. Go! (Oh, wait. Not quite yet.)



This past week’s TO DO list:

Organize Levi’s Challenge notebooks.

Organize Levi’s workspace in schoolroom/library/office.

Levi complete week 1 Challenge assignments (and get a head start on week 2, due to the short week)

Organize independent work notebooks for Leif and Luke. (That’s moved to this week’s to do list.)

Organize filing system for books, completed paper, and supplies in kitchen and living room. (half way there!)

Organize independent reading selections (history, literature, science, art, math, etc…) for the first few weeks.

Spray paint metal book holder.

Back-to-school pictures.

Clean Lola’s room (purge toys and clothes). (part way there)

Clean Boys’ room (purge toys and clothes). (part way there)

Buy CD players and desk lamps for bedrooms.

Clean house. Catch up on all laundry. (never-ending)

Clean up yard and mow. Clean up front porch. (Now we have a tv armoir and huge tv on the front porch waiting for new homes…)

Meal plan for September. Grocery shopping. (I’ll have to go again this week, anyway.)

Finish summer blog posts (just one left!). Finish Book Detectives post.

CC Orientation (Monday)

180 Live Concert (Levi) (Tuesday)

End of summer swim team BBQ (Wednesday)

ChocLit Guild Book Club (Thursday)

Friday night evening at Shan’s (what a lovely, lovely last Friday evening in the garden!!)

Levi hair cut. (wahoooooo!!!!!!!)

Quit drinking Dr. Pepper/Paleo-ish  (On day 6, other than dessert at book club.)

Schedule hair cut for me. (I’ll try to get it in this week.)

Edit Kelley family photo session.

[Russ completed quite a few handy-man projects such as fixing light fixtures, putting up hooks, etc.]


Tomorrow was scheduled to be Levi’s first day of Classical Conversations Challenge A (and it would have been a short week due to the holiday), but we were given a reprieve due to the tutor being ill. He’ll start next week, but we’ll continue with some of his work (math and geography in particular) so that we have some breathing room.

This gives us a few more days of prep and fun before the school excitement begins. (Whew! I wasn’t quite ready, and Russ has a few days off this week!)

This week’s TO DO List:

Everything not crossed out above.

A day in the mountains.

A day on the beach.

A day at an amusement park in Portland.

A date night.

A birthday party.

[Think I can do it?!]


So now… Levi starts CC Challenge A and Luke and Leif start their 5th year of CC Foundations (and 2nd year of Essentials for Luke) all on the 8th. I might be able to swing Book Detectives that week. We also have our charter school event on that Friday.

Swim team practice for all three starts the following week (on the 16th).

[We have options for weekend activities on the 13th and 20th, and I have my book clubs on the 18th and 25th.]

Choir and AWANA starts the week after that (on the 22nd and 24th).

Full steam ahead.