Category Archives: Organization and Scheduling

Circle Time: 2nd Six Weeks Term

DSC_0081Memory work for second six weeks:

Bible:  Romans 8.  My goal is for us to eventually memorize the entire chapter, but this term my realistic goal is the first six verses:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

We review a passage of scripture approximately twice a week.  I also try to remember to work on the memory verses for CBS when we have them.

Poem:  We will learn the last few stanzas of “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and after that we’ll probably start work on a Christmas poem which is to be determined.

Declaration of Independence, intro.:  We trudge on.  :-)  Actually, I’m learning that taking it slow and easy with this one is the way to go.  As of the this past week (which is–eek!–three weeks into this new six week), we’re down to the phrase “long train of abuses,” which is pretty good, I think.  I think there is such value in memorizing large swaths of material!

History timeline:  we’re memorizing the “Explorers to 1815″ song from Veritas Press.  We’re taking it in chunks.  To date we’re working on the first ten cards or events, which gets us up through the American colonial period.

We’re reviewing our hymns this term, and we review poems approximately two days a week.

Menu Plan Monday

ThanksgivingThis coming week is going to be a busy one, so I attempted this weekend to do a bunch of cooking in anticipation of the busy-ness.  Here’s the menu:

Monday–oven tacos with the fixings, canned black beans (I love these!)–ETA:  share this with my family as we celebrate my nephew’s sixteenth birthday!

Tuesday–supper with Nana; moms’ night out at Panera for me

Wednesday–breakfast for supper–pancakes, eggs, and bacon–unless I’m too tired to cook; then we’ll eat out.  I discovered that pancake recipe last week, and these pancakes met with rave reviews.  It’s a keeper!

Thursday–knockoff Panera broccoli cheese soup or knockoff Wendy’s chili.  I made both of these this past weekend, so they’ll be leftover.  All of this is really iffy because this week is my nephew’s sixteenth birthday (!!!), and his family and friends will be celebrating with dinner out that night.  It’s further complicated by the fact that I’ll be preparing for a medical test on Friday, so I won’t be eating at all.  :-(

Friday–leftovers, eat out, or take out–depending on how I feel, I’m sure :-)

Yummy broccoli cheese soup

Yummy broccoli cheese soup

I don’t really make a plan for our other meals, but I did want to share a couple of things we do each week.  On Mondays we’re busy right up until lunchtime, so we usually have baked potatoes from the crockpot for lunch.  We just pop them into the crockpot early Monday morning, and they’re ready in time for lunch.  I can’t tell you how much it helps me to have that done each Monday; lunchtime is one of the several times during the day when things can get pretty hairy around here, and I find having lunch ready (and girls who are plenty big enough to fix the potatoes themselves!) a moral victory at a low ebb in the day.  :-)

I eat oatmeal (the old fashioned kind) almost every day of the week.  I eat it with natural peanut butter and and jelly stirred in.  Sometimes, though, for a  change, I’ll bake up a pan of oatmeal.  One of my IRL friends shared Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures blog on FB, and I’ve been baking her oatmeal ever since.  My favorite is the peanut butter and jelly oatmeal.  Really, this stuff is good enough to be a dessert.  I eat it for a bedtime snack, too, so it’s good at any hour.

What’s cookin’ at your house this week?

Odds & Ends


It’s early Sunday afternoon, and Steady Eddie has taken all four children with him to his office while he works on some work and school stuff so I can have three uninterrupted hours to work on my stuff.  Blogging is perhaps not the most beneficial use of my time, but I do find that keeping a narrative record of our weeks helps me to see the big picture, so I am setting our new timer (more on that in a minute ;-) ) for thirty minutes and am going to attempt to hit the high points of our week, bullet-point fashion.  1, 2, 3. . . Go!


  • This was our first week back in the saddle after a week’s break from formal lessons.   I was very pleased and thankful to notice that I really felt refreshed and ready to tackle homeschool again.  This was a welcome change from the burnout and exhaustion I felt last spring!  Thank you, Lord!
  • I’m still struggling with organization and scheduling due to our compressed M-W schedule.  Last weekend Steady Eddie sat down with me (and mostly just listened to me!) and helped me think some things through.  Last Sunday night I wrote the above schedule on the whiteboard in the school room, and believe it or not, we followed it pretty well.  The left-hand column is for Lulu and the right one is for Louise.  This was Monday’s schedule, so they had already done their math that morning before CBS leadership.  It worked well enough that I continued a similar schedule for the rest of the week.   Thank you, Lord!


  • Louise passed a milestone in math this week:  she started RightStart Level D.   Yippee!  It was an easy week of calendar review as we delved into her new book.
  • Lulu also passed a milestone in math:  she started working through Math Mammoth Multiplication & Division 3 as her main math curriculum.  This is a worktext and as such is quite a bit different from RS which is very teacher-led.  I inquired on the WTM forums about different methods of handling this sort of curriculum an decided to go with using a timer and having Lulu work for 45 minutes (with intentions to work up to 1 hour eventually) each day on math.  There’s a bit of  a learning curve–I had Lulu read the explanations herself and then explain them to me, instead of the other way around–but by the end of the week things were going fairly smoothly.  We also offered her an incentive for NOT melting down over a certain type of problem–if she remained calm and worked through her frustration (which she DID!), she earned a day off from morning chores.  Extrinsic motivation works for this girl!

  • This is the timer we purchased or Lulu’s math lessons, as well as timed reading.  Yes, we have lots of other timing devices.  The girls have always used a kitchen timer or an ipod for their piano practice.  However, I like the fact that this one is visual and doesn’t provide nearly the temptation for “fiddling with” as the ipod.  One thing it has worked exceptionally well for is the DLM’s rest time.  Some days I’ll have him move up to the living room with audiobooks, blocks, etc. while Benny naps so the girls and I can have some quiet concentration time for lessons.  The DLM isn’t particularly fond of this, but the novelty of the timer (plus the fact that the light on top actually tells him when time is over!  Yellow means “just a few more minutes” and red means “time’s up!”)  made rest time go a bit more smoothly.  All in all, it has been a very good purchase for us.

  • My favorite purchase, though, is this little, tiny portable bluetooth speaker pictured above.  One problem I’ve always had with my ipad (an old one, an early model we bought used from Steady Eddie’s cousin) is that the speaker on it is pitiful.  We used it, but we missed a lot when the DLM would talk or when Benny would start fussing or chattering.  This little speaker (once we learned how to use it!) enabled us to all hear the Classics for Kids podcast we like to listen to at lunchtime (the girls’ composer of the month is Handel, so listened to the ones about him).  I was also able to listen to several chapters of Jane Eyre as I cooked and puttered around in the kitchen.  I even kept the ipad with me in the school room during the DLM’s rest time and put the speaker up in the living room with him and was able to play numerous audiobooks for him using the OneClick Digital service through our library.  Ah, technology!  I love it when it works!  :-)
  • We started using Boorstin’s A Landmark History this week for history, and I have to say that I finally feel good about what we’re doing.  That could change, of course, but for now, it’s good.  :-)  I had Lulu do a one-level outline one day from her reading and written narrations every other day (for four days total).  Louise made oral narrations while either I or Steady Eddie acted as her scribe.


  • The girls got to dissect frogs at co-op this week.  The best part of it all was when their teacher (one of my really good friends and just a fun person all the way around) pulled out a bowl full of “frog eggs” and all of the adults in the room volunteered to sample them.  The kids were really grossed out, of course, until they learned it was pearl tapioca.  ;-)


  • Circle Time went well this week, and it seems we’ve gotten over the hump with the introduction to the Declaration of Independence and are making progress with it once again.  I hope to share this term’s plans soon!




  • I pulled out the DLM’s letter sensory bin and let him find the magnetic letters and put them in order (but he did it backwards. . . on purpose ;-) ) on the cookie sheet. Then Benny was really fussy and really interested in what the DLM was doing, so I got a dishpan and dumped the contents of the bin (letters + dried butter beans) and put it down in the floor for Benny to explore.  He LOVED it!  I kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t try to eat a butter bean, yes.  This was definitely a winner and worth the extra clean-up it took when he learned it was lots of fun to take the beans out of the pan.  I hope to come up with some baby-safe sensory bins soon.



  • The DLM is most interested in learning now and insisted that we learn our next letter sound (the letter G) on Saturday.  Earlier in the week we had talked about the letter C.  Most of the books we read have already gone back to the library, but the topics were cars, cowboys, and gardens.  The DLM is such an eager learner right now.  I wish I could spend lots of time with him each day, but I keep telling myself that he’s only four and he has plenty of time to do all the things he’s itching to do now.  It’s fun!



  • This summer I organized a busy bag swap, and I am so glad I did!  It was a little bit of work, but the return has been great.  The DLM doesn’t pick out a busy bag every day, but using them once a week or so keeps him from getting tired of them.  The one above is obviously a writing one, but we have several different kinds, and all of them are fun for him and educationally worthwhile.
  • Steady Eddie was off on Friday for fall break, which was good because we had company for supper Friday night and I needed all the help I could get!  We had an abbreviated Fun Friday and then after lunch we all pitched in to get the house shipshape and supper cooked.  One of Lulu’s current interests is baking, so she made homemade rolls.


  •  Altogether it was a good, solid week of learning (most of which I’ve left out here due to time constraints).  It was also a week of spiritual and relational blessings, and for this I am most grateful.

How was your week?

Odds & Ends


The weeks are sure flying, aren’t they?  We’re so busy nowadays that I blink twice and it’s Friday.  Here are this week’s highlights:

  • We spent Labor Day doing lessons in the morning, and then that afternoon Steady Eddie (who was off work) and I attended the funeral of my cousin’s mother-in-law.  She was a dear lady who suffered from Alzheimer’s during the last few years of her life.  She will be missed!  On the way home, Steady Eddie dropped me off by the mall for a few minutes, where I purchased a pretty tunic-style top to wear to the same cousin’s son’s wedding.  Yes, he is getting married the same week that his grandmother was buried.  The circle of life.
  • We spent Labor Day evening with my parents and sister and her family.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday were a whirlwind of activity between CBS leadership for me on Tuesday and co-op and piano lessons for the girls on Tuesday.  Wednesdays are long days for me this semester because Steady Eddie is gone all day long–from early morning until bedtime, and I go non-stop.  I sat in the nursery at church on Wednesday night and almost literally couldn’t hold my eyes open.
  • Thursday was our first at-home day,  which puts a good bit of pressure on me to make sure we do everything.  The truth is, though, that we do a pretty good job Monday and Wednesday of jumping into our lessons after getting back from CBS, so there’s no need to panic.  :-)
  • Lulu’s academic week went something like this:

Math:  RightStart E lessons 85-88.  She’s in the thick of dividing and fractions and factoring and averages.  Fun stuff!  She’s handling it very well.  We managed to play three math games this week–Factoring, each time.  I think the RightStart Games are brilliant! (Have I said that before?  :-) )

English grammar:  Rod & Staff 5 lessons 12-14.  She diagrammed lots of sentence skeletons and then moved into diagramming compound sentences.  We’re skipping the writing lessons.  So far R & S seems like a good fit for her–she likes to be fairly independent.  Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out how much is too much in terms of the exercises, but I’m trying to err on the side of avoiding overkill, which is actually a weakness of mine.  ;-)

Writing:  WWS1 week 3.  Lulu was introduced to the thesaurus this week.  She also did a couple of one level outlines.  So far, so good with this curriculum.  I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time over at the WTM forums lately, though, really trying to figure out where we’re headed.  In this document, SWB herself recommends either doing WWS1 half-time for a 5th grader or using something else entirely.  I’m still pondering this.  The first three lessons are something of a review/introduction, so they were easy enough for her, but I don’t want her to be very frustrated by it, either.  I’m considering adding Killgallons’ Paragraph Composing for Middle School Students or one its sister publications.  I also purchased a new curriculum, Treasured Conversations, written by a well-respected WTMer, and I think I might be able to use some of this with Lulu, too, for writing across the curriculum.  Despite the fact that yes, I have taught writing to community college students, I find that I feel a need for hand-holding when it comes to teaching my own children.   I have a lot of thinking and deciding to do this weekend! (Apparently that curriculum post I wrote a few weeks ago was merely preliminary. . .)

Spelling:  Lulu completed lesson 28 in R & S 4 and took a test in Spelling City.  She missed one word–Thanksgiving, which she failed to capitalize.

Handwriting–I think I had Lulu do one bit of copy work this week, the third stanza of our memory hymn. She does a fair amount of writing through her regular work, so this I’m sort of hit-and-miss in my assigning this to her.

Lulu completed one Perplexor puzzle.  (I have to dole these out like candy.)

  • Louise’s academic week went something like this:

Math:  Louise did RS C lessons 135-138.  This was her first real introduction to fractions, and she handled it well.  The biggest “problem” was the repeated building of the fraction chart–getting those fraction strips lined up was difficult for my Little Perfectionist.  :-)  (I also think the RS approach to fractions is brilliant, for the record.)  We also managed to play the same game three times this week:  Concentrating on One, in which we matched up pairs of fractions that add to one.

English grammar:  I switched Louise back to the old, familiar FLL a week or two ago.  R & S required too much handwriting for my third grader, and I think she missed the familiarity of the conversational lessons in FLL.  This week she completed lessons 4-6 in FLL 3.

Writing:  Louise completed week 3 in WWE 3 this week.  The biggest struggle in this for both girls has been to not over-narrate–to decide the most important things to share in their narrations.

Spelling:  Louise completed lesson 13 in R & S 3 and took a test in Spelling City.  She missed four or five words, but all of the ones she missed were possessive nouns, and she didn’t know where the apostrophe is located on the keyboard.  (She did this while I went to get an eye examination, so I didn’t know it until later.)

Handwriting:  Louise has opted to try a different type of manuscript than what Lulu learned, so right now she’s just learning her letters.  I have her practice her new letter in her PreScripts book and then practice some of the older letters on a lined whiteboard using a fine-tipped wet-erase marker.  This seems to work well for our lefty.  This week she learned capital and lower case F and capital G.

Louise completed one Perplexor puzzle.

  • Our together work included three rounds of Circle Time.  I’m pleased with their memory work progress.  We might finish the Declaration of Independence intro by Christmas!  We also did two or three lessons in Getting Started with Latin (which I’m loving, by the way).
  • Our chapter book read alouds this week were The Secret of the Andes and Lawn Boy for Sonlight/history and Then There Were Five for fun.

  • Both girls completed their marine biology assignments for co-op, which included a short oral report about a certain species of whale (narwhal for Louise and blue whale for Lulu).
  • Lulu continues to be enamored of Alabama history and shares all the juicy details with us after co-op.  She enjoys her reading and homework for this class.
  • Both girls are enjoying their co-op Spanish class, which is a very gentle introduction, mostly vocabulary.
  • I feel like we’ve stalled out in history right now, mostly because I cannot for the life of me actually carry off the Sonlight schedule.  Besides having the girls read a bit in an American history compendium and our history read-alouds, we did nothing.  :-(  I have major work to do this weekend!
  • I’m still struggling to make time for the DLM in our school day.  He is SO ready for a bit of formal learning.  I did make it to the library Thursday evening to check out a bunch of books for him, so I have hope that I can also work on this this weekend and start next week with a better plan in place.
  • I am in a major reading slump myself right now–too much else on my mind!  (See note above about spending an inordinate amount of time on WTM.)  I’m very close to (FINALLY!) finishing Flora and Ulysses, winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal and one of the strangest books I’ve ever read.

  • Last Sunday we finally broke open our new geography game, Ticket to Ride, and learned how to play it.  It’s fun!


  • Another game that’s getting a lot of playing time here at the House of Hope lately is Spot It!  It’s the DLM’s game-of-choice.


  • Our Fun Friday activity this week was traveling up to Decatur, Alabama, with my dad to where the USS LST 325 was docked.  This LST (landing ship, tank) was at D-Day.  Very interesting!

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  •  When we went out to get out in the van to go see the ship this afternoon, we had a visitor on one of the wires by our house:


I know hawks are common, but I’m always thrilled when I see one!

If you read this far, thank you!  I know long posts like this break all the “rules” of blogging, but you know what?  I don’t care.  :-)  I like having a narrative record of our homeschool journey, and if anyone reads it all, that’s just a bonus.

How was your week?


Weekly Wrap-Up




Circle Time–Term 1

DSC_0215-001 Our busy-ness this year is making Circle Time a challenge.  However, I feel strongly that this is something that should be a part of our homeschool.  I’m posting a pared-down version which I’m hoping to accomplish three times a week.  We’ll work on these selections for approximately six weeks.  (I’m planning to take a week-long break every six weeks, so we’ll re-set after the break.)  Lulu will also use some of our memory work for handwriting practice.  Louise is still working through learning the letters in cursive, so she won’t do this until much later.

Hymn:  “At the Cross”

Bible passage:  Psalm 121 KJV and weekly CBS memory verses Poetry:  “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

History:  Introduction to The Declaration of Independence (carry-over from last year)

I have a good idea for how to handle review, but I just can’t remember to buy what I need to do it when I go to the store.  Alternately, we’re just reviewing through my memory notebook by simply reciting the next hymn, Bible passage, and poem for review.  I shoot for twice a week for review.