7 Quick Takes Science-fair edition

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I introduced Amie to yoga.  She is enjoying a kids yoga class.  I love this studio, isn't it beautiful?  I can't even remember what this move is called, I think it was the "belly train".  Sky thinks it looks like a bunch of dominoes tipped over :)

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Meg has been dreaming for most of her life to barrel race horses.  We had to sit her down once, a long time ago, and explain that this would not happen, we couldn't afford horse-riding lessons.  Well, fast forward to 17 years of age....and she made it happen.  She has been so tenacious with her desire to be around horses, to the point of calling random stables in nearby cities/counties and trying to arrange to work for lessons.  Which, she did.  And now, here we are... funny, as I went through my photos of this event for editing, I noticed that in all of the photos of Meg competing, she is grinning wildly.

you go, Meg!

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Yes, it looks like, walks like and smells like Science-Fair season!!  Meg had a big project/ Science-Fair experiment/research paper for Chemistry, and Josie had a research paper/Science-fair presentation and 3 D model of a cell.  She did her project on the red blood cell, and here is her cell model.  Can you see the oxygen stuck on the hemoglobin?? I got a kick out of that part!  :)

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In the midst of all this Mad-Science, I opened up my fridge and noticed that Meg's container of 200 blue-bottle fly pupae were hatching.  Just the sort of thing every mom expects to see on her butter shelf....blah!  I requested she go free them.


Went to a new student orientation meeting with Josie at the Performing Arts School.  I was really impressed, I think she is going to have a great year.  She picked graphic arts, animation and piano for her electives - and these classes take place during the academic portion of her day, they aren't even part of her art conservatory portion.  Very cool.


We are on the home-stretch with Farmer Boy.  I am really enjoying this book, somehow I skipped it when I read all the other Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  I'm reading it primarily for my boy, I hope he is soaking up the lessons on hard work and integrity.  As for me, Almanzo's mother makes me feel very, very lazy, I don't think that woman ever sat down! Lazy, and hungry...that book has a lot of good food mentioned.

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Our new kitchen island project is very close to being completed.  Sky completely demolished the old island, there was nothing left but a spot on the floor with missing tiles. He then built this island frame here, from scratch.  Including these drawers.  The bottom two big drawers will hold our pots, pans and lids.  The drawers are fancy/smancy and will finish closing by themselves if you don't close them all the way.  I don't even know what the term for that is...but it's really cool. My new stove-top is in place...drool....and this Saturday Sky will attempt to pour a concrete counter top on the island.  He has never done this before, but I have complete confidence, the man can do just about anything he sets his mind on.  He also has mad-concrete knowledge/skills.  I always found it amusing that he had to take a concrete class in college. Who's laughing now, Jenn, who???  Not me- I will be grateful for my  new stained-concrete counter and will never, ever call concrete "cement" again just to make Sky mad.


hope you are having an awesome week, bloggy friends! 7 Quick Takes happens every Friday at Conversion Diary. Hop on over and join up!

7 Quick Takes -missing in action edition

Howdy, howdy, howdy bloggy friends!  Whew, blog-break!!  Life has been crazy-busy here at {Home} -a girl can't catch her thoughts, much less blog...!  Here's all the crazy that I live:


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Josie went in this week for her audition for the performing arts high school she'd like to attend next year.  I swear, this whole process has taken a year off my life, at least.  I admitted earlier that I think I have A.D.D. -at the least, I am scattered, Bridget-Jones -homeschool-mom and so imagine me trying to navigate a months-long process of detailed applications, different deadlines for different things, requesting transcripts, remembering deadlines, organizing/labeling/displaying artwork tastefully.... etc.  I had one midnight panic attack (I woke up Sky, sobbing my heart out because I thought I had messed up a transcript thingy- and it was either wake him up or call my E.S. in the middle of the night) and a dozen mini-panic attacks where my heart would jump and I'd ask myself "have I missed a deadline?"  and "the audition is on this date, right?" and then I'd have to go online and re-check.  And re-check.

Once we had everything packed-up, labeled, displayed in a beautiful manner...my mad scrapbook skills came into handy at 1 a.m. as Josie and I cropped digital art and used double-sided tape to put things into place.. who knew that particular skill would come into such important play?!...once it was all ready, Josie was dressed up, hair curled, subtle make-up in place....I delivered her to the door of the school and walked away.

The rest was up to her.  Poor thing then had to draw for 90 minutes.  She survived, and I did too.  We have to wait several weeks now to see if she got in.  I try not to think about it.  She really wants to go.


Standardized State Testing season has begun.  Demi and Amie had p.e. testing, and then Josie had to take the Math portion of the California High School Exit Exam the morning of her audition for the arts school.  Yeah, fun times.  Poor thing.

We also ended a round of key assignments for the charter school (my high school students) * I really hate these, stuff for a future post.  I contemplated pulling Meg out three months before graduation to avoid these.  I asked Meg how she would feel to get a diploma from St. Jennifer's Academy and she was a bit ambiguous about it.  I decided to try to wait it out.  We also had portfolio samples due.  This month has been really, really crazy!

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Amie loves her Hogwarts for Muggles class.  They had a class all about owls and dissected owl pellets, measured out different owl species wing spans, studied their diets and did a craft.  This week, they studied frogs and made chocolate frog candy.  She has such a blast with this class.  I love the lapbooks she brings home.


Demi is taking an eight-week creative writing class through Biola Star.  This is his first class with Biola, his older sisters have been taking high school classes with them for years now.  It is a great class to get his feet wet with them.  Next year in 8th grade, I am hoping to have him take an intro to composition class and Latin with them.  It is very strange to think that next year I might only have one student taking classes with Biola Star.

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Monday I said goodbye to our very last hen.  Our flock has slowly diminished to one lone hen, and she was very, very lonely.  Ironically, Annabelle was the ornery hen.  Once she was alone, her personality changed and she became timid and tried to hang out with us when we were outside.  She was pretty misanthropic before, this change was pretty big.  We found a friend who has hens, to adopt her, so she left for hopefully a happy retirement with new friends.  It's a bit strange, I keep catching myself saving my morning blueberries for her, or checking outside to see if she has water, or just looking outside to see what she is doing.  I am no longer Hen-Jen.


The Bible College boys are back for Sunday Night dinners (we miss them when they are on break), the weather here has swung from cloudy/cold to hail and rain, to sunlight on the same day as hail, back to foggy and then today it was really warm.  I am hoping the warm weather is back.  The hail was pretty exciting, since we really don't get wild weather here.

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Gas prices here in So. Ca are painful!  I am hoping they go down soon.  I drive about 60 miles each way to take Amie to her Hogwarts class once a week, Demi's writing class is 20 miles away, and Josie's fencing class is 45 miles away. We are about to yell "uncle!" with the gas prices!

Well, bloggy friends, I am really looking forward to getting back to a normal, quiet homeschool week after this week of chaos/stress.

Hope your week is wonderful!

**7  Quick Takes happens every Friday over at Conversion Diary

The week in progress- Oak Meadow History

Our homeschool is much more productive when I type up weekly assignment sheets for the high school students.  Not that I always do, ahem...but I should.  Here is what they look like, not high-tech at all...

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I type them up on google docs (it's in the cloud so I can move around on different computers) and I don't mess with tables or charts, just type them in and add big, bolded o's for the kids to put a check-mark in when completed.

This is Josie's sheet.  She is on week 16 of Oak Meadow World History.  I simply look through the OM syllabus and through the textbook and decide what she should do for the week.  There is a lot of reading and information to cover in the textbook and we have to keep moving, so I try to keep the work not too-involved most weeks.  Her Biola classes also keep her very busy.  This week, I pulled the bolded words out of the text and asked her to make a definition page, this is not in the OM syllabus.  The OM syllabus has a list of great essay questions after the reading, so I did assign one of them, and then asked her to think about another (because I know she has a lot of writing to do with Biola already)  As I was looking through the chapter in the textbook, my mind keeps wanting to go down rabbit-trails...so I did add in two documentaries from Netflix, and some extra reading and short 2 minute videos from history.com  -because I just have to do the rabbit trails... {help me}  I made an effort to keep it simple so we could move on to the next chapter next week, but it was an effort...

She has gotten behind in her Math, so I am assigning two pages most days.  Her Biola class syllabus are pretty involved, so I just ask her to check and follow them, and then check mark that she did so.

My younger students just do what I tell them to, though some weeks, I do sheet for them, too...but not often, it's just a bit too much for A.D.D. mom

I am really enjoying Oak Meadow, I like that it keeps me moving, and that everything is in the textbook...as long as I don't get distracted!

how's your week?

Friday- the view from here

 photo e37fe92b-998c-44a0-89d6-b42911533dfa_zpsdf7e42e1.jpgThis morning was kind of full, Meg had a dentist appointment and then we went to lunch at the home of some old, dear friends.  (we had a sweet time, this very large family has daughters who used to babysit for us) After lunch, we went home and sat around the table to dive into our school work.  (Except Josie, who has been sick. She worked on her Biola Star homework, but I let her off the hook for other work)

Amie and Demi did Math - because every day is Math day :D  then handwriting and then worked in their spelling notebooks- writing half of their list words in complete sentences, and then a page in the spelling workbook.  We did a grammar worksheet and then I read aloud two chapters from Don Quixote.  (I have renewed it the maximum times from the library and was hoping to finish it, but not gonna happen...sigh)  We discussed the story, I pointed out some literary facts about this classic.  After, I read aloud from A History of US Vol. 2, about Jamestown and John Smith.  Demi then used the book to complete a worksheet I made from the reading. -Amie did the worksheet a few days ago, I don't know why Demi didn't do it... ( I am forever a worksheet girl, I have realized it is just quicker to make my own...)

Meg worked on her Biola Star homework (British Lit, Chemistry and Economics) and then worked a bit on her week's work list I made up for her.  She also practiced her violin.


Sky came home from work and did some woodworking in the garage, Amie and Demi worked on their creative writing stories, Josie read and slept.  Meg studied.  I parked myself in front of the fireplace and wasted time on the internet.  We are having a cold-spell here in So. Ca, it was in the 50's today, which I cannot handle. (I know, I am a wimp)  I whined to Sky about how cold I was and then sat in front of the fireplace till it was time to make dinner. (Demi-Sky did not have lacrosse practice today due to rain)

On the menu for dinner?  Left-overs. Score!

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After dinner, I made up a batch of my grown-up oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  {they are grown-up cookies because they have more oats, less sugar and double the cinnamon and nutmeg}  Here is my recipe:  Grownup Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We then watched Groundhog day with the kids - we rented it.  This was the first time the kids have watched it.

The kids went to bed and now I am sitting in front of the fire again, playing on the computer.  Not a bad day in homeschool land...

7 Quick Takes -homeschool winter formal edition

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This was Josie's first formal dance; Homeschool Winter Formal.  She went with Meg and two friends.  I heart the girl-power!!  I also loved the photo opportunities :)  They had a blast, the dance was at the hotel at Knott's Berry Farm.  The girls got ready at our house, and then I took them out for photos.

Josie is on the right in burgundy, and Meg is on the left in cowboy boots {of course}


I have admitted my adult-A.D.D.-ness, and will try some home remedies first, like green-tea.  I already self-medicate with diet coke and dark chocolate... I think it might be time to discuss this with my Dr. I spend so much of my time spinning my wheels aimlessly, it is very frustrating.


Sky thinks I should start drinking coffee, since coffee has more caffeine then green-tea.  (the A.D.D. thing) I'm just not willing to go over to the dark-side.  Sky is a true coffee-snob, he drinks french-pressed coffee.  Right now, his favorite blend is one he picked up on San Juan island.  I am about to experiment with bullet-proof coffee for him- basically it is good coffee blended with almost a stick of grass-fed butter.  I'll report back....does sound kind of yummy, though, doesn't it?


I have abandoned my much-loved MFW curriculum and switched over to Oak Meadow.  This is related to #2 above.  I wrote in an earlier post how much better following a simple spine-text works for me and realized I needed to live this truth and simplify things.  *Using spine-texts for homeschooling

We are now using Oak Meadow 5 History/English and Science texts with Demi & Amie, and Oak Meadow High school World History for Josie, and Oak Meadow High school U.S. Government for Meg.


So, I started Demi and Amie with the second half of week 5 in OM...not exactly where we were in MFW, but I didn't want to skip reading about Jamestown, so this is where I decided to pick up at.  Sooo, I look through the text and see that it centers mostly on indentured servants and relates that to slavery, but I really want to delve more deeply into Jamestown, so I look through my MFW books still on the shelves, then rifle through the student worksheets I have for MFW, looking for something on Jamestown.  I don't find anything, so I pick up Hakim's Story of US vol. 2 -(I love this series) and find a chapter on Jamestown.  Perfect!  Not quite satisfied, I also search online and find a neat animated journey through Jamestown history on National Geographic for kids.

The next day, after all this searching, I realized I just failed the whole A.D.D. thing, didn't I?


Meg just started a class for Economics at Biola Star.  I am really, really glad I don't have to teach this one!

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Amie started a Hogwarts for Muggles class.  It is a wonderful/creative class and so fun! Down-side? It is a one-hour drive from here.  She was jumping-up and down excited about it.  I figured, she is almost 11 years old and this is probably the last time a totally magical world can excite her and fuel her imagination, so I decided to go for it.  It's a 12 week class!  She is having a blast, and doing some really creative things, so it is worth it.

*7 Quick Takes happens on Fridays at Conversion Diary blog, hop over and link up!

open windows

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Josie celebrated another birthday.  It was a small, family gathering

familiar birthday-fare for our family.  Our family life has a definite rhythm, an ebb and flow and a sense of sameness to our days. I love sameness.  I love predictability.  But all things change...

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My daughter is spreading her wings.

She has applied to a performing arts high school.  I am equal parts proud, excited, terrified and cautious.  I worry, what if she has to eat alone at lunch?  What if she struggles with Math or a foreign language?  We were going to have her take sign language as a foreign language- because I kind of know innately what she will do well with and what she will stumble with. (they only offer French and Spanish at this school) *what if- she doesn't get accepted into the school?

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she went with Demi and I to the open house at the performing arts high school.  You see, it was actually Demi who wanted to spread his wings and fly away, first.  So, we went to the open house and Josie tagged along because she is interested in graphic media arts...but being in school all day, not so much...

The very first class we visited, which was creative writing, (and which I immediately decided I wanted to go to school there for...)  a girl sat in front of us, wearing a fedora.  -which you don't usually see on a teenage girl.

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Josie wears a fedora.

I knew immediately that this was the place for Josie.  Her creative-nerdiness would be okay here.  Homeschool world is nerd-world...but that's okay because nerds employ everyone.... {nerd power!}

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happy birthday, daughter.

Be free, be fierce, be yourself

stretch your wings.

It will feel glorious.

and I'll be right here if you need me.

love, mom

**yes, the art work is Josie's

homeschool winter days


We are finally getting back into a routine since the upheaval of Christmas vacation.  So far this week, homeschool has consisted of:

  • shopping for a new full-sized violin for Meg.  She grew out of her 3/4th size and has been playing on my old, cheap violin while we saved up for a new one.  Monday she and I went to the music shop and tried out several.  We took one home on trial, to let her teacher approve of...and she didn't like it!  I guess Meg and I flunked "tone" class...!
  •  Getting the kids used to working harder on our studies.  I've let them all slip into a routine of easy/lite work. Things are a changing here now.
  •  Meg and Josie resumed classes at Biola Star.


  • I started test-prep with Amie and Demi-Sky.  I've used Spectrum test prep workbooks before and for some reason I turned up my nose at the Buckle Down workbooks.  I can't remember what I didn't like about them now...except maybe that it has no answer key (I think you have to go online or something for it) but- we started using them and I kind of like them.  I am really liking the conversational tone and all the test taking hints/strategies they are pointing out/teaching.
  •  We are doing "Farmer Boy" as a read aloud
  • Demi is still busy with lacrosse.  They actually didn't take much time off during the holidays.
  •  Josie is neck-deep in graphic-arts work right now.  She wants to- kind of suddenly- apply to the local performing arts charter school.  She has to submit a small portfolio for round one of consideration.  It is really rather wonderful to have her so immersed in something she is passionate about.  It is kind of wonderful to have her totally "own" it all herself, nothing for me to do but encourage her and offer supplies.
  •  It's also a little terrifying for me.  I worry about how she will feel if she doesn't get in.  I worry about her getting in and not being here homeschooling.  I really, really worry I will screw something up and not get the right paperwork in or miss a deadline.  I'm on the verge of little mini-panic-attacks a few times a day over this...on the verge, not real ones. Yet.   Sometimes being Bridgit Jones is a hard burden... kidding. not.


  • We started reading Don Quixote before the holidays.  It is a wonderful illustrated version recommended by Susan Wise Bauer in Story of the World- which is one of the resources we are using in MFW this year.  Funny, I studied this book in A.P. English in High School but we didn't actually read it.  I am finding it hilarious!  Meg and Josie read parts of it at Biola Star in their text book, but they got caught up in it when I was reading it out loud the other day.
  • Today, (Wednesday) I took the show on the road and we did Math and read-aloud time at a local bagel shop for lunch.  I forgot how much fun, and how re-energizing doing homeschool out and about is...I will for sure have to set aside more time for outings that include study time.
  • Art class and piano classes, and violin class have all resumed.
  • homeschool winter days are full days.  How about you, are you getting back to a routine?

Notes from the trenches

So many things going through my mind, where to start?


Well, first up: Demi-Sky is starting Lacrosse next month.  He is pretty lonely now that Teddy is no longer schooling with us.  He played inline-skate hockey a few years ago and has cousins who play ice-hockey...but we were not inclined in that direction first because it can be an expensive sport and second because it involves a lot of driving to practices and games.  Lacrosse looks a lot like hockey, but it is on a field, which there are a lot more of around here, so we figured the cost would be lower.  It does seem to be that way, so far.  We have him on a club team and the price was doable.  Big bonus, the practice field is only 15 minutes from us.


Next, we are considering having Demi-Sky try out for a local magnet charter school for 9th grade, which is two years away.  This is a whole world-view game shift for us, our kids have always homeschooled.  We are really struggling with Demi right now, and I think he would benefit from more structure and purpose-driven day than I, as the Bridget Jones-homeschool-mom can give him.  We are talking about it now, because we will actually have to apply winter of next school year- and I was hoping that he would apply himself more whole-heartedly to his schooling and music if he had this goal in front of him.  And yeah, we are seeing better effort by him already.


Related to Demi's possible school change: we are dropping Math-U-See for Math, and using Horizon's Math as our main Math curriculum and possible adding something else to it. (for the 2 youngers, the highschoolers love M-U-S and are using it for Algebra II and Geometry)  As much as the kids loved Math U See, and I loved it because they did- it wasn't doing us any favors.  The younger kids don't test well on the standardized tests each year, and the levels don't match regular school levels.  I knew all this, but figured it would work itself out by high school, and beside, we weren't planning on ever stopping homeschooling.  But, I am seeing, there is always the possibility of a bend in the road that you didn't anticipate.  I regret now, not keeping my kids up to regular grade levels.  Luckily, Sky is a Civil Engineer and loves Math, (and is not a softy/pushover like me) so I have turned him loose on the kids.  They will be eating and sleeping Math the rest of the year...


I just finished up round one of the dreaded "Key Assignments" the charter school we homeschool through assigns our highschoolers to do.  It's not fun at all, and a big pain, frankly.  I have mulled over pulling out because of these.  And yet, now that I will be needing report cards and a transcript from a WASC accredited school, I kind of see the point of all the hoops to prove a certain level of learning.  It was still a lot of extra work outside of our normal work, though, specially considering that most of the assignments did not line up to our scope and sequence for the year.  Meg's Chemistry assignment was a chapter she hasn't gotten to yet.  I had to read it, have her read it, then I had to explain it to her so she could then go on to complete the assignment.  Fun. Josie's assignment for history was a good one, but involved comparing the American and French Revolutions (great subject!) but she is still reviewing ancient History right now in her World History course.  Sky wondered out loud why the school doesn't let the homeschool moms come up with their own assignments, and I guessed that they probably did at one point, but I also guess that if they did, not many moms would have done them.  We are just so busy most of the time, I wouldn't have done it.  We are kind of like herding cats, we homeschool moms, sometimes...


Sky and I went to Ted Talks Orange Coast, it's written like this:  TedX....I'm not sure why...anyways, I 'll be doing a post on it, but wow- it was incredible!  Ted Talks as I knew them, are these short, intelligent, informative lectures you can find online, given by very intelligent people who are absolutely passionate about their topic.  Sky finds interesting ones and then shares them at home with me and the kids.  One of the Myth-Busters guys even did one.  So, I was invited to attend the Orange Coast edition this year, and wow!  Double wow!


Oil-pulling.  I'm about to try this for better dental health.  Here's a link that describes what it does really well.} Oil Pulling for Detoxing?  Sky is looking at me like I'm nuts.  I'm also taking Cod Liver Oil (which I've done before but quit because I was dieting) and Butter Oil together.  The butter oil helps your body absorb the vitamins in the cod liver oil more effectively.  I'm still kind of freaking at deliberately consuming a teaspoon each of two oils every morning, it really goes against what I've always been told about weight and fat.  I'll report back.


I'm going to the Diet Coke mother ship next week.  Yes, my close friends would say that of course it was inevitable that I would sojourn to this place.   :)

Seriously, I am attending the Conversations with Coca- Cola social media conference in Atlanta.  Coca-Cola is kindly, graciously, like a fairy-godmother: sponsoring me for this trip.  I am really excited, I have never been to Atlanta before. Did I mention diet coke??  :D

So, reasons all above why I've been a little absent lately. So much going on here!

How 'bout you, bloggy friends?  How is Fall treating you?  How is school?