Thursday, December 18, 2014

{Weekly report} sick vs. SICK

Well, we got home from Thanksgiving vacation just in time for 40% of our family to get sick.  Not just any cold, mind you, SICK.

Dave was sick first.  He came home early from his first day back at work with a terrible cough.  I've been dealing with a nagging cough from a cold I had at the beginning of November, so I wasn't completely sympathetic.  But, after a few days, this was just not any cold.  By Friday -- a week out of work, which I do not think has ever happened before -- Dave was in the doctor's office and taking antibiotics.  I'm not convinced that the medicine helped speed his recovery any, but at least he was back to work and a regular schedule after the weekend.

Then it was Ben's turn to be sick.  When you have a teen, it is sometimes hard to tell what is legitimate sickness vs. attitude and general teen malaise. Ben can be a little like me -- he recharges by being alone and doesn't mind holing up in his room for a while.  So when he was asking if he could stay home from an early morning scout event, I was skeptical.  But, he really did not sound like it would be good for him to be standing out in the cold for 6 hours.  So, he reseted over the weekend. Then, I let him stay home from Classical Conversations on Tuesday, but he had to promise me he'd do some work.

{Listen, when you home educate yourself, you have to be practically dead to have a decent reason to not read a lit book or work on a couple math problems while propped up in bed! Ben even has some online lectures he can watch if he is not quite dead yet.}

Ben is a good kid, and he did sit up and do some work while we were out on Tuesday.  But when Ben didn't wake up by 11 on Wednesday, I knew he was in a bad way.  "Mom, did you take my temperature in the middle of the night?"  he asked when he did wake up for a few milli-seconds.  We went to see the doctor, just to make sure he didn't have anything serious.  

Croup.  My 15 year old had croup.  From this website: Croup, which usually affects children who are 5 years old or younger, results from inflammation and swelling of the larynx and trachea." Yep, that is what he had, minus the seal bark. Who knew?

Now that we've been through this bout, I think I have a better idea of what "I'm sick" vs. "I'm sick of schoolwork" looks like.  While I wouldn't wish illness on my children, it is helpful to have a perspective.

I was a little disappointed that I  could not find my go-to sick supplies -- mainly, our favorite soup:


This has been our family solution for sickness since I was a child.  I do not have a lot of homemade recipes to hand down to my children -- instead, I have comfort food that comes from a box!  There is no comparison in flavor between Mrs. Grass (which tastes like your mom made it with real chicken broth) and Lipton's Cup of Noodles (which tastes like the stock came from a powdered flavor packet), which was our weak substitute this time around). Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find it at my three well-frequented grocery stores.  I'll have to ask if they can order it for me or I might just purchase a case of it on Amazon (which is where I got the picture).  I am pretty sure we'll need more of this as the winter goes by.  

I think the rest of us are saved, thank you Clorox Wipes, from the nasty bug.  We have one week left of formal learning before we take a few weeks off to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the traditions of the season.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Vacation: Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame

Our Thanksgiving plans took us to a new location -- Erie, Pennsylvania.  We have no connection to Erie,except it was a meeting point for my family and us and there was a water park (Splash Lagoon)! This might be one of the last years that a water park can hold the attention of my boys and my nephews, who age in range from 15 on down, but it worked for this year, and it was awesome to see my family.

It was so wonderful to see my sons and my three nephews hang out together.  Of course, there was lots of "staring at small screens" but there was also swimming together, some games, watching movies, eating out, and a few side trips.  Luke learned some soccer footwork tricks from my 13 year old nephew who has been playing club soccer for a number of years;  Luke definitely has his eye on his cousins collection of soccer shirts should he ever want to part with them.  Ben and my 14 year old cousin tended to pair off together -- both are thoughtful, young men.  Levi, I think, experienced the best surprise -- a boy cousin near his age!  My 10 year old nephew and he spent a lot of time together hanging out, and I'm so glad for the opportunity for each of my boys to build connections with their nephews.

Our "free" day away from the waterpark involved a day trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  Hubby and I were super excited for this, and I was glad for the opportunity to have my kids glimpse all the great music we used to listen to.  It was like a walk down memory lane for me! I know that Luke and Levi grew weary long before Ben, Dave and I.  Actually, Ben lasted the longest.



I was so totally enamored with the museum part (LOVED the Dick Clark/ American Bandstand looping movie) I totally forgot to go up the the Hall of Fame part, instead spending a glorious amount of time in the museum. The collage shows some of the artifacts that reminded me of growing up in the midwest in the 1980s -- Prince, The Romantics, Cheap Trick, John Cougar Mellencamp (sorry, that's what I grew up calling him) and U2!  That was fun music to dance to.


Then, right as we were leaving the museum, a group of protestors began walking down I-90 in support of the Ferguson, MO protestors. I took this picture from near the overpass bridge.  As I walked away from the bridge to wait for Dave (who got re-routed around the protestors) to  pick us up, I passed a police officer, telling him I hope everyone -- including the protestors and police -- stayed safe.  "Me, too,"  he hoped.


Ben, Levi, my nephews and I played a game called "Waterworks" that my mom has had since the 1970s.  



We made our drive home a second adventure -- stopping to drive through Grove City College, PA and then headed towards Scranton, PA for my The Office loving guys.  We found the iconic downtown skyline and took pictures.  This side says "Dunder Mifflin" and the Other side says "PA Paper."

After our Scranton side trip, we veered once more towards a detour -- West Point Military Academy's Visitor Center.  All our extra driving home side trips made me remember how much I love traveling and seeing sights with my family.

Monday, December 1, 2014

{Weekly Reports} Where'd They Go?

There are seasons for everything, and each start of the school year, I have such high hopes of journaling about our adventures so I don't forget.  But life happens (fast!) and the last thing I remember to do is journal.

A few updates:  Luke is working hard with his writing.  This year I've forced him to sit in front of the computer and type out his own papers;  the good news is that I didn't have to force him -- he willingly sat down to 2-finger type.  I tell him he has to do some touch typing, but he is not willingly doing this.  I can't decide if I make this an issue or let him realize that he better pick it up quickly through natural consequences.

Levi has begged to use the The Body Book and create a paper skeleton -- again.  I think this is our 3rd or 4th build from this resource.

I've also created some history pages that the boys are LOVING.  The copy the memory work and color a related picture while I read about the elements of the history sentence from the iPad App. This has really satisfied the kids' interest in what they are memorizing.  Now, questions like, "What's the Gadsden Purchase?" are being fully answered in a timely manner the day after our community day.

I've also decided to grab the Apologia Anatomy and Physiology book and read a snippet here and there about the body systems they are memorizing.  I mean, everyone should know what the lymphatic system parts do, fergoodnesssake!


As much as I'd like to do more, this is about all we can fit in.  I'm trying to stay connected to Ben (and not let grading pile up!) as well as working individually with Luke and Levi on their own level-specific work.  Some days there is not enough of me to go around, but other days, it is easy to add in this, plus more.

After finishing our most recent read-aloud, Sign of the Beaver, we are supposed to start on Amos Fortune, Free Man.   Levi is always skeptical about the books I've chosen to read, but by the end (at least) he is a fan.





Monday, November 24, 2014

My Little Thespian


Levi has been involved in a stage production --  one night only! -- and he has finally had his debut! Last Friday night proud parents, family and friends gathered for a first of its kind production of a George MacDonald fairy tale.  You can find the story here: At the Back of the North Wind.

It is the tale of the Princess Daylight - a poor young heiress who suffers the fate of so many young princesses of old -- the curse of a jealous fairy/ witch/ etc.  While this premise seems familiar to us all (is there a Disney Princess who did not suffer this fate at some level?), I absolutely LOVE the independence of Daylight.  When told she can be 'cured' of the curse by a simiple kiss from an unknowing Prince, she asserts here 19th century feminism (meant in a good way) and cries out to here father The King (Levi's role) something like, "What kind of prince randomly walks around kissing unsuspecting princesses?  And do I want to be associated with that kind of man?!?!?"

THAT is a good role model!  Though I have no daughter to give advice to, it is wise to wonder if your association with men who kiss wontonly is a good thing!

Here is my King:


Oh the facial hair!  He is so cute!

I do not think this is Levi's last play!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The End of Another Review Year and Our Family Blue Ribbon Choices

We as a family have been blessed beyond words to review curriculum materials for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Over the years, we've had an opportunity to really work with some amazing curriculum that has re-shaped our homeschool.  Some curriculum has clearly pointed out areas of Review Crew Link Ups.
need for either myself or my chidren.  Some curriculum has clearly pointed out likes and dislikes, some has pointed out clear learning styles and preferences for all of us (including me).  Hopefully, for as much as reviewing has blessed our family, it has been a blessing to blog readers and those who stumble upon my reviews from online searches and

As I often do at the end of a review year, I like to post our favorites -- ur Blue Ribbons -- and the results we've had with some of our products:

1. Analytical Grammar - I think there is something to be said about giving a curriculum another try during a different season of life -- or when they add helpful tools!  Ben is thriving with AG + the teaching DVDs this time through (I thought it would be the answer to our grammar woes when he was in 6th grade, but it only caused more confusion and tears).  Honestly, what is keeping us both sane is the teaching DVDs.  He is really getting grammar this time through, and it will complete his fairly intense year of English 2.  

2. Ubersmart Math  This is another program that has only gotten better as the year has gone on.  When the boys were younger, they adored Math Rider.  It was fun and had this helpful distracting effect so that they were not constantly reminded they were working on math forgoodnesssake.  But for Levi, Math Rider did not cut it.  Ubersmart (or as we now call it Ubermath) is short, sweet, to the point and gets him in and out with little trouble.  I LOVE that I can program it to include math facts up to x12s or even x15s (which I should do for Luke to help him with his CC Essentials math practice).  Levi has now mastered all multiplication facts up through x12, so we're going to leisurely worth through subtraction.  He didn't balk when I told him my (not so evil) plans.

3. I had big plans to incorporate Amy Puetz's Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum, but I have stuggled all fall to fit in it.  I really liked the simplicity of the program and the great personal stories of men and women in our country's past.  I'm not sure if I'm reaching beyond my abilities to incorporate it into our winter or not.

4. The Trident Case for iPad is still our go-to case that our iPad lives in.  Thank goodness, too, because it has taken a few tumbles that I am sure wouldn't have resulted in relieved sighs!

5. Shhh!  I haven't had the heart to tell Levi that the Middlebury Language Course is over.  He still works on his Spanish every. single. day.  Just this week I heard him recording his responses while Ben was working on his high school online course -- a whole dining room table full of Spanish.  LOVE!

6.  I am disappointed that Levi gave up on the Veritas Press Course.  We really loved this -- except when he had to spell a new, long word in a timed situation.  That one exercise really soured him on the whole course.  I think I will go ahead, however, and begin to sit with him and re-introduce it to him -- unless we tackle a NEW history course in this winter on our SIXTH year of reviews beginning in January 2015!

7.  Another course that I have loved and we will finish is Fortuigence online writing.  Ben has about 3 lessons to complete and we can only work on it about every other week, so it meshes with his Classical Conversations writing projects.  

8. I am passing on some blessings to others:  a cousin's son is going to get the Egglo Glow in the Dark Easter eggs and book, and a friend who is traveling with her family on a sailboat for the next year was given some DVDs:  Go Science DVDs +  the Growing Wild DVDs from a few Crew years ago.  Hopefully, when they finish them (or if they find they don't need them), they will pass them on to another homeschooling/ sailing family on the waterways!

There are others that we've used in bits and pieces and still others we are saving for later in the school year -- including What on Earth Can I Do? and Bible Study Guide for All Ages from 2013. 

If you are interested in what other the Review Crew voted as their Blue Ribbon Curriculum Choices, click on the blue ribbon above!