School Year, Part 1 (8th grade)

8th grade, guys.

This is so fun.

But at the same time it’s a LOT, knowing that we are going into high school next year and looking at the current plans Link has for his future, which I’m not holding him to and I know probably will change… It’s looking at things and thinking ‘Okay, it’s serious now’ and planning on getting up earlier so that I can be there for some of his stuff that he probably could do alone but I’m not sure he should tackle it sans supervision, because what if he doesn’t grasp it as well as he thinks he does?

It’s looking into the future plans (which change every year) and editing to include possible online classes starting in 9th, fitting Drivers Ed in 10th, possible community college classes the last two years of high school, and EMT class because-the-kid-wants-to-be-a-doctor and why not go ahead and start there when he can?

It’s big stuff, these coming years.

It’s sitting down with him at high school prep workshops and sitting down with him and making a 4 year plan for high school (in pencil, always in pencil!)… it’s sitting down with him and talking about potential electives and grabbing college catalogs at the college fair so he can start to get some ideas.

It’s seriously, without a doubt, so. much. fun.


So, Link’s 8th grade year is planned.


First off, I have to call attention to the first picture and the fact that Link takes up those top two shelves pictured by himself.  Which is okay – there’s still room there! – but then Astro’s shelf is the third one there, and it’s PACKED.  Pink’s isn’t too bad.

So, needless to say, this was all rearranged in order to accommodate our ever-growing need for homeschool curriculum (and honestly, BOOK) space.  I used to keep teacher’s manuals and the like on the top shelf, but I moved those over to the bottom on the homeschool corner desk in the second picture (presently covered by that puzzle box).  I love the look of freshly-reorganized spaces lol.  😀

So anyway, now on to the year!

8th grade history:

We’ve stuck to doing history in the logic stage following the recommendations from The Well-Trained Mind.  8th grade marks the end of the logic stage and the end of the 2nd time through the time periods of history, restarting in 9th at the ancients.
So this year Link is on 1850-present.  I have a history encyclopedia (a couple of them, actually, but there is a specific one he uses) and he reads a section , takes notes of any events or details he thinks are important, records events on a timeline, and sometimes outlines what the section was about.

A switch for this year is that there are fewer sections in this time period of the encyclopedia, but they are much longer.  So where in 5th-7th grade, it was basically one section per week – occasionally two – this year there will be weeks spent on certain topics, with supplemental reading, primary sources, etc, to expand on the topic.  Here are just a few of the books on Link’s reading list for the year; these are specific to his history studies and he’ll be reading them as he gets to that time period in history.


Listed: The Wright Brothers: How they invented the airplane; Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929; Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After World War II Internment; Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust; Rifles for Watie; The Story of D-Day: June 6, 1944; Air Raid! Pearl Harbor; The Strength of These Arms: Life in the Slave Quarters.


We haven’t done any sort of Civics yet as of 8th grade (aside from some low-key learning about the US government in 4th), and I found Uncle Sam and You by Notgrass and decided to give it a try.  There are supplemental readings suggested; however, we will be skipping those and just doing the extra reading in The Citizen’s Handbook, instead.  Link is already a voracious reader with a huge reading list, and I don’t feel that it’s necessary to pile on more books just because.  So we’ll see how this goes this year!


8th Grade ‘Language Arts’ subjects:

First off, pardon the messy table, and the glare – I only have my phone to take pictures with, and it’s an older model (in the world of tech, that is), so the pictures aren’t awesome.

Anyway, Link will be continuing with Writing With Skill 2 this year, as we felt WWS 1 was good and thorough and wanted to continue on the same path.  I will chime in my agreement with others who have said that they would wait to do WWS until later in the logic stage than some recommend – I wouldn’t try to use WWS with a 5th grader – maybe a 6th grader if they are motivated.  7th was the perfect time for Link to start it, even if it is ‘late’ – it didn’t feel like too much work for him.  There are some kids, however (like Astro) that I doubt will ever be ready to tackle WWS.  It just doesn’t suit his style.

For Grammar, we chose to go with Easy Grammar Ultimate Series.  We’ve used Daily Grams before (made by EG as well, as a daily supplement) and I thought this may be just what we were looking for this year for Grammar – straightforward and informative.  This year, Link got a vote, too, and when I showed it to him he like the approach as much as I did.

He’ll also be continuing with Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Books C and D.  I have to say I really liked these last year (A-B).  We often do the vocabulary exercises together, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve learned a few words, too!

And of course, I’ve included his reading list.  Individual titles are beneath the pictures.  Yes, the plan is for him to read all of those books in the school year.  Yes, he will most likely finish them all.  😉


Pictured: Fields of Fury: The American Civil War; A Man for All Seasons; The Crucible; Treasure Island; The Scarlet Pimpernel; The Man Without a Country; Across Five Aprils; Gone with the Wind; An O.Henry Reader.


Pictured: The Yearling; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Favorite Father Brown Stories; The War of the Worlds; The Call of the Wild; The Jungle Book; The Importance of Being Earnest; The Dream Keeper; Pygmalion; Strong Poison; A Selection of E.E. Cummings poems; Murder on the Orient Express; Rosa Parks: My Story; The Vietnam War; The Road Not Taken.


Pictured: The Korean War; Our Living Constitution: Then and Now; Great Speeches of the 20th Century; A Nation Challenged: A Visual History of 9/11 and Its Aftermath; The Making of America: The History of the United States from 1492 to Present; A Kid’s Guide to America’s Bill of Rights; Great Events of the 20th Century; From Sea to Shining Sea: Virginia; Sri Lanka: War Torn Island; East Timor: Island in Turmoil; Sudan: North Against South; South Africa: Nation in Transition; Cyprus: Divided Island; Tibet: Disputed Land; Rwanda: Country Torn Apart; Quebec: Province Divided; Northern Ireland: Troubled Land; Bosnia: Fractured Region;  Kurdistan: Region Under Siege; Haiti: Land of Inequality.


We will be sticking with Apologia again this year and going with the next one in their scope and sequence – Physical Science.  From the looks of it, this one is not quite as jam packed with info as General Science (the overall book is a little shorter), and Link likes the picture on the cover.  So far Apologia has worked well in their upper level science (don’t ask me about their elementary! not our style at all!) and, unless something changes, we’ll probably be following it through the high school years with a few supplements and add-ons.

I may add in a little online learning to supplement Physical Science this year, as well.  I need to look and see.



For his main Logic text, Link will be doing The Discovery of Deduction.  I have to be honest and say that we’ve jumped around a fair bit on ‘logic curriculum’ because I just have yet to find anything that we’ve just really enjoyed.

However, I can not recommend the Critical Thinking in United States History Series ENOUGH.  We love these.  Well, I love these and Link even has to admit that they’re very informative and help you look at things from different angles.  We do them together, which helps (there can sometimes be a lot of reading involved – not that Link minds reading – but some of the sources cited are very old, so the language is older, and it’s more interesting and fun to look through these things and talk through them together anyway).  We did Book One and part of Book Two this past year.



He’ll be continuing with Lial’s Pre-Algebra, hopefully finishing it up around January.  Looking forward, Link is a little behind where we want to be just because of some curriculum switching/catching up/etc in the past.  However, I’m confident he’ll still be where he needs to be when we get there.  I haven’t decided for sure yet what he’ll be doing for Algebra second semester.


Link will continue with Irasshai Japanese this year – we didn’t do it for as long as we were intending to last year, so he’s only on about Lesson 15.  I went through already and made tons of notes and copies and plans for this so that we could really work on getting it in there lol.

For Bible, Link has been doing The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study for years – he wanted a bit of a break this year, and to be able to do something a little more low key, a little more ‘Bible-study’-ish, and I don’t blame him.  He picked out a couple of Bible studies from Queen Homeschool‘s booth at our local homeschool convention in June – An Excellent Spirit, which focuses on Daniel; and Fishers of Men (called a tool for ‘soulwinning’, but he liked the look of it and we figured it would be a good basic study either way).


Other electives, which will be done at co-op:

Life Science class
Current Events/Creative Writing

Our co-op is super low-key, only meeting 12 times through the year, so I don’t really take these classes into consideration as being any part of our curriculum – they’re just a fun aside.  We really enjoy it, though.


So that’s that!  Next year will begin a whole new set of fun, with high school – but right now we’re already noticing the difference and trying to start getting ready as much as we can.

But not til August.  😉  Happy Summer!!



Third Quarter – CHECK!!!



We have never, ever, EVER been this AWESOME at getting a great routine and sticking to it!!




Which is all good, of course.  Don’t get me wrong.  I can’t guarantee that our way of doing things would work for anyone else… hey, I don’t even know if it’ll work this great for us next year!

But, it’s what I’m going to stick to when planning, at least for now.  Because….




We are scheduled to finish up school the beginning of May.

May, guys.

The beginning.


*happy dance*

So what is this schedule?  I’ve probably mentioned it before, but in case I haven’t or anyone needs a refresher, I don’t schedule dates for school.  I have a starting date (the first Monday in August), and then I plan to take a week off every six weeks.

Then, when that week arrives, we take off five days if we haven’t taken off at all in the six weeks for any reason.

If we have taken off for whatever reason – field trips, sickness, just not feeling like it, whatever – then we make those days up in that week and take off whatever is left.

The fall schedule for us looked (pretty much) like this:

August 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31-Sept 4, Sept 7-10 – School days
September 11 – Field trip
September 14 – Makeup day
September 15-18 – Off days
Sept 21-25, 28-Oct 2 – School days
Oct 5 – Field trip
Oct 6-9, 12-16 – School days
Oct 19-22 – Off days (family in town)
Oct 23 – Field trip
Oct 26-28 – Off days (family in town)
Oct 29-30, Nov 2-6, 9-13, 16-20 – School days
Nov 23 – Field trip
Nov 24-25 – School days
Nov 26 – Off day
Nov 27, 30-Dec 4, Dec 7-11, 14-18, 21-22 – School days

We had completely finished up a semester before Christmas.  Second semester has been similar.

So.  What have we been up to?


She’s finished up through Chapter 33 of SOTW 1.   Here she’s doing some sand art from the Activity Guide:IMG_3509

This week we were on Ancient China, so I pulled out the ‘Ancient China Treasure Chest‘.  It’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to use it, and it was fun!  She tried some Chinese calligraphy:IMG_3909IMG_3911

tried our hand at Chinese chess…

and put some stickers on the map of famous places and artifacts:IMG_3906 We finished up our Artist Portfolio about Velazquez.  She chose Portrait of Philip IV as her favorite ‘because of the horse, because I like horses.’  😀IMG_3514She’s through Lesson 78 in First Language Lessons for The Well-Trained Mind.  Here she’s doing a picture and narration about a story we read.

Yes, she’s wearing her pajamas in a lot of these pictures.  She’s determined that she ‘gets dressed after lunch,’ for some reason, unless we have somewhere to go.  😛  Oh, well.  Not a hill to die on, kwim?  😉


As I already mentioned, each kid picked a favorite of the artwork in the Velazquez portfolio – Astro picked The Surrender of Breda – ‘because they have weapons and an axe’.  Is anyone surprised?
No.  No one here, anyway.  😀IMG_3515


As for this one, he picked Juan de Pareja because it ‘looks really realistic’.  He had also just finished reading a book of the same name, so..
(Oh, and I don’t know why Astro and Link both look so weird lol… facial expressions and 10-12 year olds and pictures… what can you do?)IMG_3513Here he’s doing his history.  Nothing special going on here, I think I was snapping a picture of Pink doing something and decided to get one of him working.  IMG_3781


Science is getting its own heading because, for this year anyway, the two boys do science together.  So I didn’t want to put it just under one name or the other.

We are through 4 out of 5 books in the Prentice Hall Science Explorer Earth Science series.  All we have left is Astronomy, which is what Link has been waiting for!

One day (while snow was still melting!  The yard was a SWAMP) while studying wind, we went out to try to determine the best place in our yard for a windmill (if we wanted one).  We went to all sides of the house, as well as each corner, and measured the wind in a very sophisticated way lol…

IMG_3639IMG_3636(for some strange reason, I have lost the pictures on the corner of the house with the best wind… the string was blowing out at least at a 45* angle.  Oh, well.)

We also, on another day, decided to do something completely unrelated and make this ‘lava lamp’ with salt, oil, and water (at this point, the boys had added pepper because they were curious about whether it would act the same).  It was pretty fun to do and watch!


Just this past week, each of us had a city (we didn’t know what city it was in advance) and plotted on a graph the average precipitation, high, and low temperatures for a year.  The boys had City A and City B and I did City C on the board.IMG_3885IMG_3886IMG_3887In the end, we used the data to determine which of the three cities was ours.  The choices were Reno, NV, San Francisco, CA, and Colorado Springs, CO.
We determined that Link had Colorado SpringsIMG_3889and that Astro had San Francisco.  IMG_3888

Other fun stuff:

As usual, we took a couple field trips and, as warmer days sneak their way in here and there, we went out for some fresh air.

We went ice skating the end of January.  None of the kids had ever been before (well… Link went at around age 5-6, but wouldn’t get on the ice lol), and they did surprisingly well! By the end, Link was getting pretty confident.IMG_3658Pink was even amazingly fearless!  After going around the ice once with me, Link took her around a couple times off and on, but she would also go by herself.  She even tried it without the walker-thingy once or twice.  (Sorry for the blurry photos!  I took them through the ‘glass’ at the side of the rink, so the quality is just not good!)

I couldn’t get any pictures of Astro on the ice – I took one or two, but he hugged REEEALLLLY close to that side wall, so there wasn’t much to see, and with the aforementioned blurriness, there was no need.
All three kids DID seem to really enjoy it though, despite a couple times when they insisted the opposite while we were there – Astro came off the ice more than once and was like, ‘I am NOT going back out there!’ …but then I’d turn around and he’d be gone back out again.  😉  When I asked about it later, he was like, ‘Well, there was nothing else to do.’  😀  And now all 3 are looking forward to going again!

The beginning of February, we went to a performance at the Children’s Theater of I Have a Dream, which was quite good.  It was our first show there, and it was a fun little theater with about 5 cast members for this show.  It was neat to experience a show on a smaller scale (the kids have seen a few different large-scale productions, so something smaller was a nice change of pace to see what else is out there).  I would go to the Theater again.

After the theater, we went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the Rodin exhibit.  They were thrilled to see The Thinker lol.  We also walked through some of the other permanent exhibits again – we go every once in awhile, and revisited the ancient and Asian sections again, as well as a few others that correspond with things we’ve been learning about.


We also attended a homeschool day at Agecroft Hall.  I actually had no idea what Agecroft was (lol), so when the homeschool day popped up I was like, ‘oh, why not just go and find out what it is…’
We ended up liking it!  The view was excellent.IMG_3814And we would like to go back in the spring to see the gardens.  We think they’ll be lovely!IMG_3816IMG_3822IMG_3813

Lastly, just a couple shots from our nicer days!  The top two were taken on a walk when it was still a bit muddy – okay, it was more than a bit muddy!  It was much wetter than I expected – oops!  But the day was beautiful.  The bottom shot is of Astro and Kida on a walk just last week.


So, that’s been our third semester!   I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m SO GLAD it’s March!!!  Spring is coming SOOOOONNN!!!!!!  😀

How We Do: Language Arts






Hard to believe that we’re almost a month in already!

Occasionally, I get asked for more specifics on what we do.  So I’m going to be doing posts on each subject that go into a little more detail, while hopefully still not being too incredibly dull.

Language Arts



Language Arts for the Secondary Child (daily); Apples Daily Spelling Drills (daily)




Language Lessons for the Elementary Child (daily); Zaner Bloser Handwriting (2-3x/week; this is an older edition – the linked is new)

Both Boys




Spelling Wisdom (1x/week); Writing With Ease (2x/week, doing levels 3 and 4 this year); Elementary Diagramming (1x/week)



The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (daily); First Language Lessons (3x/week); Explode the Code (2x/week); Draw Write Now (2x/week)

Here she is doing some DWN.  She has actually done everything in Book 1 once already, but she loves that one because it’s all animals.  She’s less thrilled with Book 2.

Each kid has their own set of reading books.  For Pink, there are books that are specific to what she’ll be studying in Science as well as those specific to what she’ll be studying in History.  (The picture I got of the books for History turned out blurry, so I only have Science ones here)

She also has these two tubs of books – the ones in the tub on the right are all easy readers – she reads one to me each day.  The ones in the tub on the left are those that are just picture books/short story books, that she picks one from each day for me to read to her.


Astro’s books are mostly chosen from the Language Arts and History sections of The Well Trained Mind.  He’ll go through them in this order this year (he’s currently on the 4th one):IMG_2605


Also, I have these set aside for him to read when he has some free time – the ones in the stack above won’t take the whole school year, so I picked some that I thought he’d enjoy from the ones that are around or just below his reading level.  IMG_2607


He has a couple different reading lists: the one taken from the selections in the Language Arts and History sections in TWTM (he’s also currently on the 4th one from the top):IMG_2608

Some YWAM biographies I picked up this year; I decided to stick with India this time around. 😉IMG_2609

And then his official reading list for language arts this year (currently waiting on one book that is backordered – Oxford School Shakespeare Henry V, which will be at the bottom of the pile anyway).IMG_2611

So that pretty much sums it up!!  The boys are each assigned a book for a certain amount of time.  They are required to read daily, including weekends.

I did not include links for all of the books for reading, but if anyone is interested in any of them, I can edit and add those.  🙂



Have a great week!  September will be here soon – WHAT?!  🙂

Mid Summer Check-in

4 weeks til school starts!!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m always looking forward.  Summer is such a fun, relaxing time – and honestly, this planning that I do for next year doesn’t take much time or energy.  Sometimes I hear people talk about planning like it is this much-dreaded, long, insurmountable task… and it’s really not.  Maybe they dread it (maybe you dread it? 😉 ) but really, in that case, I think it’s more in their (your?) head than reality.  No offense.

Since it’s that time of year, here’s about where I am with everything:

The shelves are almost full!  I have one final order to make and then it’ll all be bought.  🙂  After everything comes in, I’ll post a more detailed list of our reading lists for this year. 


One thing we have is a plethora of BOOKS!  As much as I enjoyed the book Simplicity Parenting, the one idea I just can’t get behind is getting rid of a bunch of books for no good reason!!

(That said, I will get rid of those that are school-specific once Pink grows out of them, and possibly some others.  But I can’t say I’ll rid our shelves of children’s books for good… ever!)

Here I’ve moved some around – these are all free reading books for the boys.


Surprise, surprise…. the most used book of all!  It’s not unusual to see this open next to me somewhere all year long! 😉


Lists, lists and more lists!  As you can see here, I’ve got everything done so far – some are printed, and there are seven more saved on Google Docs, as well as book lists and readings and materials lists.  Oh, and 21 science tests! 😉


Check out my latest acquisition!!  A friend was getting rid of this HUGE chalkboard for free and I just happened to be the lucky person who saw it on FB first!  YAY!

It currently has the boys’ summer reading lists on the right side.  Astro’s is on top, Link’s is on the bottom – as you can see, Link is much farther along in his reading list than Astro is!! They’re supposed to be finished by August 1, so A has a bit of catching up to do!
(on a side note, I was pretty impressed when both of them chose a lot of books that they didn’t get to this past school year to read this summer!)


And lastly, going along with everything else I work on this time of year, is the calendar for next school year!!  This is one of my favorite parts.  We already were pretty set on what field trips we wanted to take.  This year we’re also doing extra activities.  So we’re working on getting everything scheduled now.  So much fun!


So that’s what I’m seeing a lot of this last week or two when I work on planning.  But don’t let that deceive you – planning only takes, on average, a few hours per week.  That’s really not very much.  🙂  I’ll post tomorrow (today?) about what summer looks like for the most part for us!

Happy Summer!


Fall is just around the corner!

I put on Facebook the other day that I love summer.

I really do.  Summer is my FAVORITE season.  I love the water.  I love it being bright outside, I love the warmth and the sunshine.  I love warm breezes.  I like the stuff we can do in the summer.

8.25.06-09 12_P12_012 IMG_0705

But I love fall, too.  I really would say the only season I dislike is winter.  I don’t care for the cold, especially where we live, where no one can handle a tiny dusting of snow or the threat of ice without freaking out and buying out all the bread and milk in the store.

Ahem, but that’s another story.  😀

One thing I’ve found is that the clothes of fall and winter suit me much better than the summer ones.  I like sweaters and leggings and boots.  I don’t love layers lol, but in the summer I pretty much live in shorts and long skirts.  Which are fine, too… just a little harder to make look significantly different than they did when I wore them last week.  And the week before that.  And… you get the picture.

So anyway, fall is near!  Fall brings some of my favorite activities, as well.

Apple orchards – We love Jonagold apples here.  We didn’t go to an orchard last year so I’m hoping to get to one this year.  I actually liked the one we went to several years ago that was less popular and consumer-ized than the one we went to a couple years ago.  So I want to head up to that one again.

IMG_3868 IMG_3869

IMG_2863 IMG_2880

(Astro likes apples.  Can you tell?)

Pumpkin patches – It’s been years since we’ve gone to a pumpkin patch.  Pink was a baby in a front carrier.


The one we used to go to has picked up some competition, so we may go check out a different one this year – that one was a bit pricey.  IF we can get around to it, that is!!  I hope to…

IMG1963_020 IMG_3386

(Left: Link around age 3-4; Right: Astro around age 3-4)

Homeschool days – Inevitably, with fall, we get some fun homeschool activities in our area.  This year we’re finally going to make it out to the Homeschool Experience at Colonial Williamsburg in September.  I’m so excited!  (Such a dork, I know.)  In the past we’ve gone to some parks, caves, etc when we get homeschool discounts and we’ve loved it.

IMG_2964IMG_3012 IMG_3037

Fall in general – Fall is definitely up there as one of the most pleasant seasons in general.  The leaves get really pretty, obviously.  When it starts to cool off just enough before it actually starts getting cold, I like the weather.  I like leaves crunching.  I’m actually not one of those ‘pumpkin everything’ people.  I like pumpkin whoopee pies.  I like the smell of pumpkin stuff.  But I’m not one of the really big pumpkin lovers.  I do look forward to fall smells and decor, though (not that I decorate my house differently for fall…).  We try to get up into the mountains at least once in the fall.  Occasionally we make it… usually we don’t.  This year we’ll shoot for making it again.  🙂

IMG_1430 IMG_1366 IMG_1359IMG_1371

So yeah, up through October that really summarizes fall for me.  We often try to go Christmas shopping in October or November, but we’ll see when the time comes when we’ll get a chance to.  With the advent of online shopping, it’s gotten a lot easier to do it whenever and not worry about crowds or being out of something at the store.

One thing that I’ve already started looking at with regards to fall: Halloween costumes.

I know that probably sounds crazy.  Halloween, Kara?  Really?

But seriously.  The last couple of years I’ve had at least one kid want a costume that takes a little bit more than just a trip to WalMart or Party City to get something pre-made.

Like two years ago, Link chose to be Kakashi from Naruto (anime).  It was the first time I really had to piece a costume together that I ended up going through with it.  (I had considering dressing Link as Vivi from FF9 when he was, like, 1 or 2, but it was just too complicated.  Having a kid who has something they want to be for Halloween that requires the work, though, is much different.  🙂  More motivation.)

In the end, I was really proud of the way it turned out.  Was it cosplay level?  No way.  Have you seen some of those costumes?  They’re amazing.  Was it good Halloween costume level?  Yes.  🙂

IMG_3091.JPG   IMG_3097.JPG IMG_3099.JPG

Like I said, not cosplay level.  I bought one of the regular puffy-ish vests to use and just pinned the symbol to the back of it (and the sleeves of a plain long sleeve black shirt).  We bought the weapon pouches and headband from eBay.  I cut up an old white t-shirt to wrap around his legs and cut the fingers out of plain black gloves.  His hair isn’t as long as Kakashi’s (he had let it grow a little here) so we tried a wig, but it was just too uncomfortable, so we ended up just spraying his hair with white hair spray.  The sandals and black pants he already had.

One thing we did forget to do was put the scar over one eye.  I knew he wouldn’t be able to leave the headband over one eye all night, so I meant to do that part.  Oh, well.  Not a ton of people knew who he was, anyway, but none of us cared.  He was happy.  🙂


Gosh, he looks so much younger here.  o.O

Then last year, Link kept with the whole ‘Mom making the costume’ theme and went for Link.  You know, the other Link, from Zelda.  (haha, had to use that picture because a couple people did ask if he was Zelda… um, no.)  This one, again, was not cosplay level but came out pretty well.  He did get a few people guess him as Robin Hood, but they were people who weren’t really familiar with video games anyway.  He did have a whole group of college guys recognize him as Link… oh, and one random tween girl who insisted on taking his picture.  o.O  … awk-ward… Lol!

IMG_4188 Green hair and all…  oh, and this is after having a random stranger stop him to take a picture of his Link costume -D  Ha!

Brown ‘boots’, white baseball pants (ha! only way to find white pants for boys, unless you want to spend an arm and a leg to get linen ones or something!), green polo, two brown belts (one for the intended purpose and one for his sword), long sleeve white shirt, green hat.  Fingers cut out of brown gloves this time.  It was really quite simple.

I didn’t worry about the ears because his weren’t visible.  And we weren’t originally going for green hair…. what happened was this:  I bought that ‘Manic Panic’ temporary hair dye off Ebay.  I got yellow.  It said on the bottle that yellow works best if you bleach your hair first.  Well, I wasn’t ABOUT to bleach my 9 year old’s hair – just no.  So we went for it.  Did it once – green.  Did it a second time, using the entire thing – green.  So it was green.  He didn’t mind.  I didn’t mind.  It didn’t fully wash out for at least a month – it glows under a black light, and it was glowing when we played Laser Tag for Astro’s birthday in mid-late November.  Ha!  But it was fine.  I thought it was cool.  I’m assuming because of his natural, ashy-blonde color combined with the fact that we didn’t bleach it, this was as ‘yellow’ (read: not yellow 😉 ) as it was going to go.

Following along after her brother this time, Pink wanted to be Wonder Woman.  I didn’t find any WW costumes I liked… they were all sort of lame.  So I came across the idea on Pinterest to do a tutu… and that, as they say, was that.

IMG_4207 IMG_4189

The face cracks me up.  She said she had to be serious faced because she was catching/scaring the bad guys. 😉

So yeah – tutu that I made, navy pants with silver stars, red boots, a red tank top that I drew the logo on with a gold glitter pen, silver ribbon armbands, and the tiara was actually from a birthday party – I believe the hostess of said party bought it at Target?  It was felt with an elastic band.  Not the perfect WW shape, but we just went with it rather than make something all new.  I didn’t do anything to her hair, obviously.

This year it looks like I’ll only have one I will be making!  And I’ll go ahead and say it’s gonna be CUTE!!  (It’s Pink’s – I’ll give that part away. 😀 )  The boys are both going to be pretty standard Star Wars characters that we can get decent costumes for elsewhere.  (Astro usually sticks with standard costumes, which is obvious here, I guess!)

So, I’m looking forward to the coming months.  What about everyone else?  Looking forward to fall and all that it entails?  🙂

Have a great day!!

Looking to the new (school!) year!!

Who’s excited for this upcoming year?


So last year I was looking forward to it enough.  But THIS year, I’m really feeling it, know what I mean?

What’s different?  I’m not sure!  We’re switching some stuff up… I got The Man to build me some new shelves in our dining room and will post pictures once I get all my pretty organizing stuff in 😉 …. It will be the first year with all 3 ‘in school’ (though we don’t really have a structured school day like some homeschoolers do, it’s easiest to refer to it as such) …. Link will be starting the logic stage (5th grade!) which adds a lot more stuff that I’m looking forward to… etc!


With all that in mind, I thought it would be fun to share what we’re planning on this coming year!

Pink – Kindergarten

Little Pink will be starting Kindergarten this year!  I may or may not have mentioned it on here, but I tried starting her in OPG last year – she was totally not ready.  So rather than work like crazy on it for months with a kid who wasn’t ready, I decided to just wait.  🙂  This year, I’m definitely seeing signs of readiness.  It will be interesting, I’m sure, to get my little sanguine to desire to learn if she has her mind against it (I haven’t seen yet exactly where she stands on it!) – but that will just be a process.  I am thinking she’ll be one who will need the ‘fun’ aspect of learning, and I’m actually kind of looking forward to that (despite that not really being my specialty)!  Maybe because she’s the youngest?  Not sure.  

She’ll be doing things light – it is Kindergarten, after all!  We’ll do OPG, Explode the Code (Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code books), Zaner-Bloser Handwriting K, Math-U-See Primer, and Draw Right Now.  I also have lists of sight words we’ll be working on over the course of the year, and calendars printed out to review daily, with shapes and all that (She also has this super cool board I bought at the homeschool convention…She’s OBSESSED with telling time!  Seriously she’ll know that before we even start, I think!).  I bought a lot of math concept books, which we’ll probably read a few times over the course of the year.  So far for read-alouds, I’ve decided on The Story of Doctor DolittleA Little PrincessThe Hundred DressesMisty of ChincoteagueStormy, Misty’s Foal, and Misty’s Twilight. When we finish those we may go on to the Narnia books, as she is the only child I haven’t read those aloud with; we may also read some of the Fairy books, as I have all of those on my iPad.  I chose to read the Misty books to her because she LOOOOOVES horses.  I have actually never read the first three books listed – so I’m looking forward to reading those with her, as well!


Astro – 3rd Grade

This year we’ll continue to work on Astro’s reading – we’ve reached the point now where we’re past remediating, and just working on fluency and continuing to get better (he actually scored ‘slightly above average’ on his standardized test in reading!  How awesome is that?!)  We’ll begin focusing more on good spelling and handwriting.  This last year, we would have been on year 3 of the history and science rotation outlined in The Well Trained Mind – however, we focused so much on reading and ‘language arts’ skills this last year that science and history fell by the wayside (which is totally acceptable in the grammar stage – they have to have the fundamentals of reading, writing, and mathematics to be able to go forward at all) so we’ll be going ahead with the usual 3rd grade rotation, meaning we’ll be on the ‘Colonial’ time period, as I call it – 1600-1850 in history, and a chemistry focus in science.  

Specifically, he’ll be doing Writing With Ease, Total Language Plus (we are giving this a try after seeing it at convention – he’ll be doing The Whipping Boy and the guide to go along with it), Story of the World 3, Math-U-See Gamma, and Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 3.  For science I bought him a few kits on – bouncy balls, crystal growing, ‘outrageous’ science, chemistry – and we’ll do some experiments from both levels of Adventures with Atoms and Molecules.  He’ll finish up Atelier Art level 2 before moving on to level 3.  He doesn’t have any interest in learning the piano, so we’ll just stick to some classical music appreciation for him; for art appreciation, I purchased 3 portfolios from  I’m really looking forward to using them – I saw Sonya Shafer (I may be messing up her name, yikes!) speak at the homeschool convention and loved this method of just getting classic art into the kids’ brains.  😀  I’ll actually be doing that with all 3 of the kids together – one of the VERY FEW things they’ll be doing all together!  

As I have yet to find a spelling program that I LOVE, I’ll be pulling lists from various sources for Astro this year and having him work on them kinesthetically as well as on SpellingCity.  I also purchased Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason, which I will use with both the boys 2-3 days per week.  

I also bought some mental math books that each of the boys will do at the start of the day (just a column of math for each day of the week) along with their Daily Grams.  Second semester I plan on using the Elementary Diagraming Worktext with both of them a couple of days per week.

For reading, Astro and I will read Swiss Family Robinson, Flower FablesTreasure IslandThe Secret Garden, and Black Beauty.  I say ‘we’ will because, at least at the start of the year, these will probably be read alouds.  On his own, he will be reading abridged/simplified/children’s  versions of Gulliver’s TravelsPilgrim’s ProgressThe Hunchback of Notre DameLes MiserablesThe Three MusketeersGreat ExpectationsOliver TwistThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Moby Dick.  Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are also on his list for later in the second semester – at this point I have no idea whether those will be read alouds for the two of us or if he will be reading them on his own.  Only time will tell!!

Before I go on to Link’s section – you’ll notice that I’m NOT doing science and history with them together this year.  I’ve had a lot of fellow homeschoolers question the sanity of this decision!  But from what I’ve experienced this last couple of years, they are NEVER done with their other stuff/ready for history all together/science all together at the same time.  Also, they are far enough apart ability wise when it comes to their writing abilities that it ends up being difficult juggling the two.  I think it will be more enjoyable for everyone involved to have them do history and science separately.  Another HUGE factor in this decision was my desire to start Link back on the Ancients for 5th grade so he can get through the history cycle a full time in both the logic and rhetoric stage.  I also felt that the subject matter for the period I was originally looking at – Modern times – was better suited to him when he’s a little older (8th grade), since that’s the way it’s outlined in TWTM anyway.  I decided just to have Astro go through the 3rd year cycle again because we didn’t get through a lot of it last year, and there are always more chemistry experiments to be done in science. 😉  This will also align him with his correct grade level, rather than going ahead with everything one year ahead for him (one year behind for Link, as it was originally).

I may get through this year and swear up and down to never do it again.  But I’ve got a hunch that won’t be the case.  While it may be a little more work for me (though not much), I actually think it will be good for everyone.  I was also able to cater their science stuff to them particularly – each of the boys picked the science kits they wanted on the website, for example.  They have picked which experiments in the books look interesting to them.  Etc.

I really think it will be fun.  🙂


Link – 5th Grade

Link has quite the list this year, going into the logic stage!  If things go as I hope they will (meaning if I actually remember to BLOG as often as I’d like!) then I’ll go into everything a little bit more in depth over the course of the year.  I know this is all sort of just a run down, a list that may or may not make sense and may include some things that no one is familiar with.  

I’ve got 3 different ‘logic’ workbooks for Link – Red Herrings, Brain Builders, and Red Herrings Science Mysteries.  We will switch between the 3 and do this a few times a week.  It’s really a very informal introduction to logic in preparation to more serious stuff in the coming years.   I mentioned we are trying out Total Language Plus this year – Link will start with My Side of the Mountain and the corresponding guide, and I also bought him a smaller, focus guide for The Phantom Tollbooth.  For Bible I found a 4-workbook series called The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study – I fully expect this to take him a few years to finish.  As of right now, we’re still happy with Math-U-See (I have read some things about the higher levels maybe not being rigorous enough – NOT A COMMON CORE WORD, PEOPLE! 😉 – but for now it is working for us in the grades we’ve done thus far.  So we’re taking it year by year.) so he’ll be moving into Epsilon.  He’ll also be doing real-life math once a week – we have the Family Math book as well as a book called Math on the Menu that we’ll work through.  

We’ve made a deal that he’ll do Latin every day 1st semester and finish Latin for Children A, and then he’ll move on to Japanese in 2nd semester.  Right now I’m looking at Mango Languages for his Japanese this year… I don’t think I’ll be making him go any further with Latin unless he wants to.  I know, I know, Latin is important!!  But I think, too, that the time comes when a student just really doesn’t like something, and it isn’t absolutely necessary, and he can always pick it up again later… so we’ll go with it.  There are more important things than how many years of Latin he does.  

I know.  I’m classically educating my children, and here I just said I’m not worried about Latin!  (Where’s the fainting emoticon?! 😉 )

For Science, Link will be back in the study of living things – we’ll do experiments from the book Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method to start off the year (and periodically throughout) – he chose kits, as well: sea monkeys, owl pellets, praying mantises, genetics & DNA, carnivorous creations terrarium, and a desertscape.  It pretty well covers the three areas we’ll cover – biology in the animal kingdom, the human body, and the plant kingdom.  For history he’ll be using encyclopedias and some Jackdaw portfolios for primary sources for the study of the Ancient time period – 5000 BC-AD 400.  

Link chose to start piano back up, so I bought him the Piano Adventures books and am thinking of taking another path when it comes to his learning.  In the past, we’ve tried the traditional ‘weekly lesson with the teacher (aka me)’ approach with daily practice.  This never produced good results, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I could homeschool my kids but couldn’t teach my own kids piano!!  So this year, I’m thinking of going at it a little more the way we do our other school stuff – practice daily, yes, but working more at his own pace.  When he feels like a song is ready and he wants me to listen to it to see if he can be ‘past’ it and stop practicing it, he can tell me and I’ll listen.  I’ll be available for questions and such all the time, of course.  I’m really thinking this may work better.  

For art, Link decided against another level of Atelier in favor of some books – he’ll be using Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Fine Art Studio Painting, and Fine Art Studio Sculpting.  He’ll read through The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra for music appreciation (as well as the classical music CDs that I have for Astro).  He’s gone through Dance Mat Typing online, and wanted just a traditional ‘Keyboarding’ book this year for his typing/keyboarding skills, so we went with that (I believe it’s Keyboarding Made Simple).  For writing, I’d like to finish up CAP Writing & Rhetoric together while he’s starting Wordsmith Apprentice.  

He’ll also be doing the mental math and Daily Grams first thing in the morning, as well as Spelling Wisdom and Diagraming with Astro.  Link is a natural speller, so even before I had decided to go the SpellingCity route with Astro, I knew I didn’t need a formal spelling program anymore for Link.  I’ve also pulled several lists for him over the course of the year, that he’ll do primarily on SC.  He also has an outlining workbook, since with history he’ll begin making outlines along with the other new aspects that come with this learning stage.  He’ll work through that over the beginning of the school year.  

He’ll start recording everything on a timeline, which I haven’t found a spot for yet. 😛  My friend keeps trying to persuade me to get one that’s in a book because I can’t find a space, but I really like the idea put forth in TWTM to have it up and visible as a whole.  So we’ll see what I figure out!!

For reading, Link has quite the list this year.  Some of the books are recommended for his grade level on the Great Books Academy website – others are books that were recommended in years before but I couldn’t find at the time – yet others are just some that will be ‘easy’ for him, but that I think he will enjoy (a bit of a break/breath of fresh air between some of these!)  He’ll read about 2-3 books per month: The Boy KnightThe HobbitFrom the Earth to the MoonHans BrinkerTarzan of the ApesReturn of TarzanBeasts of TarzanThe Door in the WallThe Dash for KhartoumThe Song of HiawathaThe Boy and the SamuraiThe Ranch on the BeaverThe Cat of BubastesBig RedWells Brothers: Young Cattle KingsAt the Back of the North WindHospital SketchesBonnie Prince Charlie, The John Carter Mars Trilogy, The Chessmen of MarsIn Freedom’s Cause, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Some of these may be subject to change as I read ahead – I don’t pre read ALL of Link’s books, by any means – only those which I’m unfamiliar with, either the book or the author or both.  


SO that is what we’re looking at for this coming year!  We are scheduled to start August 4, though we’re considering starting sooner – who knows, it could be this coming Monday (July 21)!  Who knows?

I’ll post more about our daily schedule in the upcoming days.  But I think I’ve taken up enough space for today!!

Have a wonderful day!

Planning ahead Part 2 – When one year isn’t enough

So the first year I homeschooled the kids, I was able to keep my planning in check.  I MADE myself wait til September to start with Step 1 of my yearly planning, etc.

This year, that all went out the window.

After I finished planning for next year (2013-2014 school year, remember), I decided just to go with it.  What would Pink potentially be doing in 7th grade?  What about Link – what would be his Latin curriculum his freshman year?

Well, now I can guess.

Know this – I didn’t write these lists to have plans set in stone.  I’m far more flexible than that, and I believe in catering curriculum to meet each child’s needs and learning style.  So don’t for one second think that this list is a definitive plan.  Things change.  These lists will, too.  That’s the beauty of it.  🙂

I just like to have a vague idea of what is out there, as well as what is recommended by TWTM.

So, here is how I started.

I went through TWTM and looked at recommendations at every level, every subject.  I wrote them down and jotted in little notes I wanted to remember (I’d like each of my kids to do an official keyboarding course around 5-6th grade, and I wanted to look into the homeschool band further for 6th.  Same with choir, if they are interested.)  I’d also like for them to start a foreign language in 5th grade (aside from Latin, which they start in 3rd); they can then choose to continue with that language, add another, or drop the first for a second in 8th grade; same thing in 11th grade.  If they so choose, they could have a few years of 3 different languages under their belts by the time they graduate high school.  (I think it would be cool to just add one on every few years, but if any of them just really don’t want to do that, I won’t complain. 😉 )  I also looked at the progression of specific curricula that I like – Math U See and Singapore in particular.  In areas where I am currently (or was at the time) looking at two different options for a subject, I listed each one.  Under some subjects – namely Bible, Music, and Art – I just listed everything I came across that looked interesting as well as what is recommended in TWTM.

It ended up looking like this:


(pictures taken of the computer screen)

I just ran with it – things that looked cool, things that I liked, things that come highly recommended, etc.  (Which, in all honesty, can be quite helpful, as I can add to/take away from it at any time)  Some of the things that I listed are things that we’re already doing or have already done, so I put the grades we are using or have used the materials in some cases, as opposed to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  This just helped me keep track of it for myself.

Then, I took it a step further.

Yep, I did.

I started plugging things in.  How science was going to work with one in the logic stage and one in the grammar stage, and again later with one in rhetoric and one in logic – not to mention the youngest coming up who would be doing many different things than them (though all of them will be on the same WTM cycle – the boys will be doing ancients again in 6th and 4th grades, and Pink will be in 1st – just WHAT they do will be different.  Same with science.)  Some may find it completely insane but I was compelled to see it all written out, to lay it all out before me on screen so that I could start looking and seeing what would work, what could work, and what just wouldn’t.  I came up with lists for each of the kids, but I won’t bore you with all the details… here are some shots of the screen from each one:

Don’t worry – I already know how people think I’m crazy.  😀  But I find this to be a nice resource for me, to look ahead and see where we could go, and to have an idea of what is coming – I like having an idea what’s coming.  🙂

So, that’s the end of my planning ahead stuff.  Don’t worry – I don’t think everyone should do this.  I don’t think it hurts, but I think that everyone does things differently.



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