Homeschool year 2014-2015

Here's the learning line-up this year for

Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy and St. Jenn's School for exceptional teens  :D

I am homeschooling my last two kids.  At one time, I was homeschooling is looking real different these days!

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Amie 7th grade:

Math   Aleks Math online                     Bible  Apologia's World View Series, we are finishing "Who is God?"

Language Arts    Grammar Rod & Staff 4   Literature & Composition:  Outside class with Biola Star they are using: IEW writing

**Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook      **The Bronze Bow -Elizabeth Speare  **various book report books
-Institute for Excellence in Writing

Science:  **Oak Meadow Science 6  and  **Quick Reads level E by Modern Curriculum Press

History  Veritas Press online History- 1850 to Present      Geography/social studies/History: online Minecraft class, reading Around the World in 80 days

P.E.  Swimming laps 3 days a week and daily 1 mile walk/runs

Art:  private art lessons                      Music:  private voice lessons

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Demi-Sky High School 9th grade

Math  Aleks Math

Bible  Apologia's World View Series, we are finishing "Who is God?"

Language Arts

Grammar Rod & Staff 4

Literature & composition outside class with Biola Star  using:

*Fundamentals of Literature Student Text,  -Bob Jones University Press       *Brief Wadsworth Handbook 7th edition

*Vocabulary from Classical Roots A    *The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy   *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

*The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien           *The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens      *Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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*a combination of Oak Meadow World History (using Glencoe Text book) and My Father's World 

*Minecraft online class (geography, social studies, history) using Around the World in 80 days

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Outside class with Biola Star using Abeka Lab ManualAbeka Biology

Latin:  First Form Latin -Memoria Press   -DVD's & books      Art: private art lessons

Music: private piano lessons

 Josie 11th grade at performing arts charter school

- after-schooling with First Start French -Memoria Press and  driver's ed with Automobile Club

Meg sophomore at a community college

she works several horse care jobs, at Barnes & Nobles part time and is in the police explorer's program, beside full time college classes.

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Homeschool 2013-2014

2013-2014 Homeschool Year at Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy:

{Teddy, my bonus student, went back to public school last school year.  Meg graduated and is attending her first year of college. (Yes, I homeschooled her all the way, K-12)  Josie auditioned for a performing arts high school (charter school) and will be there for 11th grade and 12th grade (unless she decides to come home, but she loves it so far).  This year, we are down to two students; Demi-Sky is in 8th grade this year, and Amie is in 6th grade.}  Here is a list of our studies and books we are using;

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Amie 6th grade

Math Mammoth light blue series     Aleks Math (online)           Piano lessons        Parkour classes (p.e.)

Science:  Aha Science -online, and a few Science 2 U classes (monthly themed classes)    Literature: independent reading

Test Prep: Buckle-Down Language Arts 6

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Demi-Sky 8th Grade

Math: Teaching Textbooks         Aleks Math (online)           Piano lessons      Lacrosse team (p.e.)

English: Intermediate Composition 8 with Biola Star (once a week class with a great syllabus):

*Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook Institute for Excellence in Writing 978-0984099092 *Student Resource Notebook Pages IEW   *Word Web Vocabulary Workbook Vol. 1 Sage Education Enterprises, Inc. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth Speare Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom Miracle Worker, by William Gibson Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt

Latin:  online Latin Class with Biola Star (twice a week)

*The Latin Road to English Grammar vol. 1 & 2

Oak Meadow Science 5                   Buckle Down Science Standards Review 8                Independent reading

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Together-Amie & Demi:

Veritas Press self-paced History: Explorers to 1850 (online)

Shurley English 4

Bible:  Who is God? -Apologia Worldview series

private art lessons

to get to 2nd semester, hopefully:

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Memoria Press First Form Latin set with dvds

Grammar of Poetry IEW

Fallacy Detective

The Ode less traveled; tackling the poet within -Stephen Fry

Philosophy for Kids

Logic of English: spelling (for Amie)






After-schooling with Josie -

Who is God apologia Worldview (independently and by discussion)

*Rosetta Stone French      *assigned literature -To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.

After-schooling with Meg-

Mere Christianity (reading together and discuss)

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Mom School:

Mere Christianity with Meg

going back to college, 3 unit Child Development class Spring semester

7 Quick Takes -Homeschool Prom edition

So much going on here at {Home} with the end of school!  I'll start off with the most exciting event, homeschool prom!

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Josie and Meg attended our homeschool prom.  This was Meg's very last prom, she is graduating!!  (I can't believe it!) I was so lucky to get to play photographer again for their group of friends.  Meg is in the center, with cowboy boots and Josie is on the far right in purple.  They had a great time, the girls came over to our house to get ready, we went to a nearby location for photos and then they had dinner and prom at a restaurant near the Queen Mary.   More photos [maybe] coming up (it's a bit tricky when there are kids not your own in photos) we will see what I come up with :)

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Amie's Hogwarts for Muggles class ended.  Her last few classes involved herbology,  quidditch matches, building their own Diagon Alley with boxes and exploring currency, and making this very cute golden snitch.  She was really sad that the class was ending, she really enjoyed it, the teacher and the kids she studied/played with.  It was a really good class, the hour drive was a bit much for me though.  I'm really relieved that the season of driving is over.

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Our new kitchen island is finished! Sky totally demolished the old island, built a new one and installed a stained concrete counter-top himself. He did a really great job, this was his first time working with stained concrete and his first time making a concrete counter.  We went with a dark brown color.  I love, love, love my new island and my new stove-top.


Our homeschool year is wrapping up.  Meg and Josie's Biola Star classes ended last week, they were busy with finals and parties.  It was a little sad, Meg is graduating and she is all done with Biola Star, Josie is done too, since she will be attending the performing arts high school for 11th and 12th grade.  Demi will be taking two classes with Biola Star next year, and Amie will be taking one, so it's not totally goodbye.  I am so thankful for the wonderful classes Biola offers to the homeschool community.  I truly don't know what our high school homeschool would have looked like, without them.

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We had a piano recital recently and all of our kids played.  Josie and Meg played "A Thousand Years" and our wonderful neighbor joined them with her cello.  Here is a shot of a rehearsal at our house.  She is truly amazing, I want to be like her when I grow up!! She truly is so graceful, kind and intelligent.  She reminds me a bit of  Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter :)


Sky treated me to two workshops at the Create Mixed Media retreat that happened nearby in Irvine.  I was so excited to learn how to do encaustic collage.  Now that my homeschool mom career is changing, big-time, I am looking around and thinking about what I want to do with my time.  Art is big on my list, I want to spend time (any time, really) on art.  I haven't done anything with art since the kids were born, really.  My artistic outlets have been scrapbooking- which segued to blogging and then also photography.  I have directed my kids towards the arts, but neglected to address it much, myself.  I am realizing though, that things don't really look like they are going to slow down, I need to carve out some serious art time for me.  As soon as things slow down, I will give it some serious thought.... (it's a circular problem...)


I went to yet another parent meeting at the performing arts highschool.  At this one, they handed out contracts- very much like car buying contracts- to us, wanting a pledge of the $4,000 per student they expect to bridge the gap between what the State pays for the academic side of the school, and the costs of running the arts conservatory side.  I kind of hyperventilated a bit....I thought we'd be able to work some of it off in volunteering.  Nope.  They want our credit card number or bank number.  Super serious.  It's totally worth it, this school is phenomenal.  It is one of the top 4 high schools in OC, even if it didn't have the amazing arts side, people would be lining up trying to get in just for the academics. I found out at this meeting that they had over 3,000 applications and only 400 spots.  Our Josie was one of them. :D  I am a super proud mamma, excuse the gushing/brag...  She asked me to help her set up a blog for her artwork (super exciting moment for a blog-nerd!) and I will link up when she's got it going.  She is drawing the header in photoshop- she amazes me.

Whew! so that's the run-down with all that is going on here.  How 'bout you, bloggy friends? -How's the start of Summer shaping up for you?

*7 Quick Takes Friday happens every week at Conversion Diary

Smells like high school Science fair project time

We homeschool all of our kids, but our high school students take a few classes with a wonderful enrichment program. This year, Meg is taking Chemistry, British Lit and Economics outside the home, and Josie is taking Biology and General Lit and composition.  Which brings us to the current season we just survived, known as Science fair project time....

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It was high school Science fair time here at {Home}  which resulted in much angst/ late nights/ trips to the art store....flies in my know, the normal types of stuff....

Meg leans towards life-science type projects, and she tries, mightily, to bring horses into the equation.  After the gold-fish training science experiment last year, I issued the proclamation that we would have no more Science fair experiments involving live subjects (after a whole batch of highly trained goldfish died two weeks before her project was due).  Famous last words!!!  Meg's newest experiment involved mom using her credit card late at night to order 200 blue bottle fly pupae.

homeschool world is crazy world sometimes.

it gets better, they lived in my fridge for weeks.  In the butter compartment in the door.  I got to see them every time I opened the fridge.  good times.

So, her experiment involved testing the efficacy of different fly repellents.  She compared a popular insect repellent for families, an all natural insect repellent, and a horse insect repellent.  We had 50 flies in 3 containers, plus a control container, and then the fly repellents applied to fly paper on the bottom of the containers.  Meg researched the chemical make-up of each repellent and explained the process of how they worked on the flies.  It was interesting.  [minus the weekend she left and several escaped and spent several days loose in my house]

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Josie's Biology Science fair project was a 3-d model of a red blood cell.  She constructed a model and researched/wrote a report.  She used wooden embroidery hoops, red mesh and pom-poms.

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We purchased two sets of big wooden embroidery hoops (because each set has two different sized hoops so they fit inside each other- we wanted them to fit exactly the same size) and then she painted them red.  She used hot-glue to attach the red tulle/mesh purchased at the fabric store, and then put big red pom-poms inside to represent the hemoglobin, and a few of them had small white pom-poms attached to represent oxygen.  She labeled the different cell parts with little paper signs attached with toothpicks.   The only difficulty was making the distinctive donut-hole dimple in the center, she used thread, but it wasn't very convincing.  If we had more time to re-plan, I think we would have used darker red paint to make a shadow look for the center, or maybe a darker material in the center.  We decided to leave it alone, we didn't want a failed attempt on our hands right before Science fair day.

And so, whew!....done!

an old-fashioned blog post

Hi-ya! So, I was just reflecting on blogging, old-school style and about some of the blogs I used to read way back in 2005/ 2006 before I started blogging.  Things were a bit simpler in those days, when blogging was really more of a web-journal.  Nowadays, we have so much going on; great site design, widgets, social media (micro-blogging!), linky parties, giveaways, photography....

I tend to get a little uptight about photos as art.  And then I don't post much, because I don't feel like getting on my big desktop computer in another room and editing photos.  Editing is kind of like work.

I decided to blog old-school tonight;


a lot of messiness going on around here, as usual.  We had State testing for Amie this week, which involves some driving to and fro and waiting for her to be done, and waiting for "the call" that she is done so I can go fetch her.  Amie was very excited.  It's funny, for homeschooled kids- or at least for my kids, and my friends' kids; testing week is a social event.  They get to pack some good snacks, lunch, go to a new place that might have a cool playground (sometimes not) or might even have a pool they can swim in after (yes, this happened three different testing years- ultimate cool!)  and after the testing is done, or between times, like breaks- the kids can chat and play and invent interesting tag or hide & seek type games.  It is all very exciting.  Amie asked her dad to make sure to wake her at 6 a.m. so she would be all ready for the *big* day.  [sign in time was 9:30]

Our church had a big mens' conference and we had 3 of our old college boys (2 now married and 1 engaged!) fly in to stay at our house.  Very cool, and fun.  But didn't leave me a lot of time to do the things I should be doing like laundry and cleaning. My house is really a wreck.  I ended up cleaning the guest bathroom and the guest bedroom real good and calling it done.

Meg and Josie had big projects due last week.  Science fair projects and reports/ oral presentations for Biology and Chemistry class, and Josie had a big research paper due for Lit class, and Meg also had a presentation due for Economics.  (photos coming in a later post!)

The dreaded key assignments are due this week. {big sigh}  I'm calling "uncle" and it's official, for the younger kids we will no longer be using charter schools for high school.  St. Jenn's school for exceptional teens - here we come!

I have a learning record meeting this Thursday for the 3 oldest kids.  And then our heart-friends are flying in from Seattle for dinner.  They might be staying the night too, but I haven't confirmed.  This is my best-y Jennifer.  I don't know if she will be here long enough for a new episode of The Jennifer Club.  They are leaving the next day for a cruise.  They requested, with big excitement, dinner at Inn & Out burger.   Yeah, we are kind of spoiled, living in So. California.

Depression runs in my family, no, actually it gallops through the female line.  I have my turns with it.  This week I was hit with a wall of sadness/regret/panic as I realized my oldest dd is almost 18 and will no longer be homeschooling.  I had this horrible feeling of impending doom for those things left undone.  The subjects not delved into deeply enough.  We didn't do Bible as much as we should have.  I so regret this now.  I lay awake and tried to think of what we needed to cover in Bible and how to accomplish this before she starts college.  And then I knew I couldn't really, she is so busy right now with her studies and her life.  So then I was really sad and panicky.  I went to sleep telling myself "it's okay, I can get through this..." over and over.

I cried myself to sleep for two nights, and then...and then I snapped out of it and remembered that Sky always says that "things are never as bad as they seem or as good"  and I felt better. And I remembered that Meg isn't leaving for college, she will stay at home for two years and go to the community college first. [I'm not losing her yet]  And then I thought of Scarlett O'Hara and of the kick-butt truth that "tomorrow is another day"  and it was better.  Not perfect. But better.

So, no medication.  Yet.

I decided to think instead on all the wonderful things I admire about Meg.  She is super sweet and kind. Soft-spoken.  Quick-thinking and a deep thinker. She loves C.S. Lewis (and has read his non-fiction) and Tolkien.  She works hard.  She gets up early, like 5 a.m. most mornings and does her job of taking care of horses.  She does her school work independently and has become very dependable with completing her assignments  on her own.  She is still playing the violin and is now apprenticing with her teacher to become a violin teacher herself. She loves God and still goes to church meetings with us.

She is a daughter to be proud of.

Coming to the end of my homeschooling with her; I am extremely glad that we did it.  I am so glad I have had this time with her. My word of warning to you other homeschooling parents is that, yes- it goes by so very fast.  Blink and you miss it.  If I could do things differently, I would have planned more and worked harder to stick to those plans. I wouldn't have accepted days when we only got one or two things done, I would have made school hours less flexible.  I would have also ditched the charter school for high school.  The devotional/ discipleship relationship we had envisioned for the high school years got lost along the wayside of getting things done according to the charter school.  I regret that.

I am losing my rising 11th grader to the performing arts school next year, and possibly losing Demi for that school also in two years. Thinking about it makes me sad and a bit frantic about all the great learning I want to stuff into them before they go. And I feel sad, and a bit panicky and start my mantra again.

And then I stop, and think- "there is always the Summer and I will have them 2 whole months then"  ~oh yes, my pretties, I will have you all to myself then, and once a homeschool mom, always a homeschool mom.  I foresee Latin and an intense Bible school each Summer.

It'll be the Summer of love.


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 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

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?