Exciting and scary all at once

We’ve just kicked off our 11th year of homeschooling. Our oldest will be graduating high school this year. In fact, in 5 years all three will be high school graduates.

Let’s just all pause a moment, and take that in. In five years, our wonderful homeschool journey will be over. I will have three high school graduates.

Honestly, if I stop and really contemplate that idea, I get overwhelmed very quickly. I have to just pull back and focus on this year.

Tho, my oldest, is taking the Math-U-See’s Stewardship course, which looks to be a personal finance course with a Biblical slant. Most of his courses in Switched on Schoolhouse again.  Language and Government & Economics are in SOS, as are the two half-credit Networking courses. He’s decided he wants to get into the cyber security field, so he’s got more than a few electives in computing this year.  Hacker Highschool looks to be the best course so far, as it provides alot of hands-on work with both Windows and Linux operating systems.  He’s also taking control of his own education, by finding podcasts and websites devoted to cyber security, and learning everything he can about the field.

Diva is starting 9th grade this year.  Most of her classes are in Switched on Schoolhouse as well, which is helpful because we already have most of the disks, so it saves us some money.  English 9, Geography, New Testament Survey, and Health are all SOS course.  Math-U-See’s Pre-algebra, PE, and Apologia’s Physical Science round out her coursework. She’s also doing some amazing digital art work.

Lt, AKA Tiimmy, has skipped up to 8th grade.  This is on purpose, as 8th grade is available to get high school credit for up to three course in our state & with our umbrella program.  So by skipping him up to 8th grade, he can take Apologia’s Physical Science with his sister, and get high school credit for it.  This way, they can work together on experiments, and when Biology rolls around again next year, I only have to supervise on more frog dissection.  His other courses include MUS’s Pre-algebra, and using SOS for Language and History.  He’s also doing very well with his swimming, and has already passed the deep end swim test!

No More Elementary Kids Here!

2016 Teacher Manuals

2016 Teacher Manuals

It’s so hard to believe how quickly time flies. Seems like it was only yesterday we began our homeschooling journey with our oldest son. That five year old is now fifteen! He’s just started 11th grade, and is on track to graduate a year early with an Honors Diploma. This year his coursework includes MUS Algebra 2, SOS English 11, SOS American history, Apologia physics, TeenCoder computer programming, and more.

He’ll also be doing year two of Spanish, but it’s the Spanish 1 Abeka course. He did Switched on Schoolhouse’s Spanish 1 course last year, but none of us liked it. The SOS Spanish 1 class seemed to focus more on the cultures of the various Spanish-speaking countries rather than learning to actually speak Spanish. The Abeka course is all language-driven, and needs much more supervision than the SOS course. The Abeka course is the one I took when I was in high school. It did take some time to create a lesson plan to work with just one student, as it’s a classroom-based curriculum, but the end result will be so worth it.

My Diva is starting 7th grade, and my youngest son will be in 6th. That means we have officially left elementary school behind. It’s a big deal, because so many homeschoolers give up and send their kids to the local public/private schools for middle and high school. The plethora of resources available to a homeschooling momma with elementary kids begins to dwindle once you hit middle school.  So far, homeschooling through middle and high school has been easier in some ways, harder in others.  It’s easier because the kids can teach themselves.  They can read the curriculum, do their projects, and even most of their science experiments with only minimal help and input from me.  It’s harder because I really need to keep on top of the grades and paperwork, to make sure I’ve got a paper trail to back up the transcript I’ll have to write should any of them decide to go to a college.  Honestly though, the biggest reason it’s been so smooth is the confidence we’ve all gained in the process over the years.  The grandparents have seen them flourish, and no longer have any reservations. Dad has always had my back, reassuring me that this was possible.  He’s pitched in to help whenever we hit topics of his expertise, like Spanish.  As for me, I still struggle with doubt and questions, but I have so much more confidence now than I did ten

2016 SOS disks

2016 SOS disks

The younger two are both using Math U See Zeta, but for science, history, and English class they’ve made the jump into Switched On Schoolhouse. The 11 year old has also taken on the KidCoder computer programming course in an effort to step up his Minecraft coding game.

Speaking of, all three of the kids have learned so much about computers, programming, the internet, and even some business skills – just from playing Minecraft this summer.  They found a cool server to play on, and a guild of kids (mostly made up of a group of middle-schoolers from California), and started posting “Let’s Play” videos to YouTube. The youngest really latched on to this idea, and ran with it. The other two are now playing catch-up. They’ve learned how to record, edit and post their videos. We use OBS Studio for recording, and Sony Movie Studio 13 for editing.  So if you’ve got a Minecrafter in the house, check out LtVv111, Capt740, and OmegaVaporeon, aka my Diva, on YouTube.

So that’s how our year is shaping up.  What about you?  What’s your plan for the upcoming homeschool year?

2015-2016 School Year, Already in Full Swing!

So last year was our first year back in Maryland. It was much easier than I’d anticipated, mostly thanks to the wonderful folks over at Calvary Gospel Home Educators who made it a breeze.  The hardest part about the whole year was keeping up on the paperwork.  However, that same paperwork will make it extremely easy to create a transcript for my high schooler when the time comes. It also helped that my husband made an excel version of the grading report that does all of the weighted grading for me. Nice.

So this year, we actually started back on July 6.  I felt really strange, because for once I was fully prepared for the school year to start. I had almost everything planned, printed, and scheduled a few weeks before we actually started.  The younger two are both working on a 5th/6th grade level.  English is once again a mix of reading and Easy Grammar. Math-U-See Epsilon is proving challenging already for my Diva, while Lt continues to easily grasp the math concepts.  After going over several history options with them both this summer, they both decided they wanted to do Mystery of History. Apologia’s Exploring Anatomy rounds out the extent of my curriculum for the younger two.  They are constantly doing art, not just with pen and paper but also in their Minecraft builds, photo editing, digital drawing, and LEGO creations. I just periodically grab a few screen shots or copies for their portfolios.

My Diva is struggling some to grasp the math, but that’s normal for her. Once she gets these first few concepts under her belt, she will fly through the book.  Same goes for the language.  She is teaching herself history & science, only joining her younger brother & I for the experiments.  She likes to work at night after her brothers go to bed, because it cuts down on the noise and distraction.  She’s the biggest night owl in a family of night owls. She likes to do her school work, then often reads until 2 or 3 am.  Her current favorite are the Warrior Cats series. When she wakes up, her time is spent hanging out in the LEGO friends gallery, making edits, drawing animals, creating things with LEGO, blogging, and playing Minecraft.  She’s also the one behind the dog’s blog, Peanut’s Paws.

We’ve done a lot of work with Lt over the past school year. He was officially diagnosed with both dysgraphia and dyslexia last year. I also discovered his mild hearing difficulties, and synesthesia. Last year we used All About Spelling to jump start his reading, and work to train those pesky letters.  Just reinforcing letter sounds has made a huge difference.  His reading has taken off. He does still get tired after a while, and that when he struggles with reversals and missing or changed letters.  He’s been reading his school lessons to me whenever he can, as well as learning and researching new ways to code in Minecraft.  His downtime is often spent on Minecraft, playing with LEGOs, or on the Xbox.  He also blogs occasionally.

The oldest is in 10th grade this year.  I can not believe I’m old enough to have a 10th grader, even if he is working ahead of grade level.  He uses Switched On Schoolhouse for English II, Geography, Spanish I, and Old Testament Survey. Science is Apologia’s Biology course on CD.  We got the microscope kit and the dissection kit from Christian Book Distributors.  Math is Geometry by Math-U-See. Honestly, he’s almost completely self-taught at age 14. Every curriculum he’s using is either self-explanatory, or comes with a teacher on DVD.  He only ever comes to me when he needs help. Sure, he has times when he misinterprets the lesson and we have to go back over things, but overall, he’s doing really well.  I’m kind of in awe of how well he’s doing on his own at his age.

When he isn’t doing schoolwork, Capt740 can be found on Minecraft, in the middle of a pile of LEGOs, or reading anything he can get his hands on. He blogs on the rare occasion.

So that’s the beginning of our school year, even though we are already half way through the first quarter! I can’t believe how fast time is flying this year.

The Sinking of the Lusitania

When the RMS Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland in May of 1915, it became the rallying cry that led America to enter the war.  Roughly 2,000 people were on board, including 200 Americans, and 129 children.  As we near the 100 year anniversary, I expect to see a lot of information hitting the internet.  Until then, there is an interesting account of a WW1 propaganda animation done by Windsor McCay over at OpenCulture.com, which includes the film in it entirety. It’s a very interesting little film.

There’s a neat little Lego video done by Big Jake Studios.

There’s also a movie, the Discovery Channel’s 2007 Sinking of the Lusitania, starring John Hannah.  The full movie is on Youtube, until the copyright gets enforced and it gets pulled down.  I haven’t watched the full movie yet, so parents may want to preview it before showing it.  At this writing, I’m a half hour in, and nothing objectionable yet. Enjoy.

UPDATE:  I watched the film. There is nothing objectionable that I saw. It’s very well done.  Enjoy!

Trenches & The Christmas Truce

Cheshire_Regiment_trench_Somme_1916Life in the trenches of World War 1 sucked. It was almost always wet, and the constant sounds of shelling & gun fire drove many men insane. There is a great documentary called “Digging Up the Trenches” where a team of archeologists dug up the front line trenches of the both the Allies & the Germans in Ypres, Belgium.  I’m including it here, even though my kids likely won’t want to watch it, because I thought it was very well done.

christmastruceJust about the only highlight to come out of the trenches was the famed “Christmas Truce of 1914”.  This is when both sides came out of their trenches and played soccer in No Man’s Land for a while on Christmas day.  There was a crap-ton of information about this event put out just this last Christmas, because it was the 100 year anniversary of the event.  There’s a wonderful website – The Christmas Truce – that has alot of great information, and really, just hit up google.  You could not go anywhere this past Christmas and not hear this story.


Propaganda – A Valuable Tactic of War

tlc0090 Propaganda posters went up all across Europe at the start of the war.  At first, the posters targeted recruitment and assured a swift victory.  As the war waged on, propaganda posters were used to raise support for the war and demonize the enemy as well.

America also had posters.  In fact, the famous Uncle Sam image comes from a World War 1 poster by James Montgomery Flagg.

More Resources:

The Start of The Great War (WW1)


  • Nationalism – Strong patriotic feelings for one’s own county.
  • Alliance – Agreement between 2 or more parties to help each other
  • Neutral Country – One that does not take sides in a war.

The Great War, as it was known at the time, got it’s start when a 19 year old Serbian man shot and killed the crown prince of Austria-Hungary.

1914 Europe is a powder keg, any little thing could set them all off.  A long history of fighting and back and forth had led to the formation of alliances. The alliances are pulled into play when the Archduke of Austria-Hungary is assassinated in Bosnia. Nationalism is one of the main causes of the war, as many countries see this as an opportunity to settle old scores.  This is an neat little 6 minute video about the causes of World War 1:

Everyone thought it would be a short war. No one expected it to last as long as it did, and cost nearly as much as it did in both money and manpower.


More Resources:

Because we in the midst of the 100 year anniversary of WW1, there are many resources and new stories being released almost daily.  Mental Floss has an excellent section on WW1 that is being updated almost daily right now.

Netflix has a GREAT 8 part docmentary available for streaming right now.  The Great War Diary is an awesome documentary put out by the BBC.  Word of warning, the 4th chapter, “The Heart’s Desire” is all about love and big pimping during the war.  As this is done by the BBC, there were no qualms about flashing ta-tas and culos all over the place.  As such, the fourth chapter is not suitable for kids in my opinion, and I’d urge parents to watch it ahead of time to determine if it is suitable for your teens.

Of course, Ducksters has a nice piece on the Assassination.

I’m including a link to this one, but the BBC has a really fun Rap Battle. There is some language so parents be warned.  But Origins: Rap Battle – WW1 is overall pretty funny.

There is a History Documentary that goes a bit beyond just the assassination and into the start of the war on youtube.

An of course, again by the BBC, Horrible Histories has a WW1 episode, found on Daily Motion.  Frightful First War is hilarious and good fun, like we’ve all come to expect from the Horrible Histories series.

Horrible Histories – Frightful First World War by VithusanRaguwaran21

World War 1: a really brief overview

Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry was killed, which ignited a world war on a scale that no one had ever seen before.  There is some neat actually video footage from the era over at Telegraph.co.uk.  The kids really liked this quick overview of the war:

Of course, we’ll get more in-depth coverage of World War 1 in the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to post this video where LtVv111 can find it for his blog. Pop on over there and comment if you can, he loves getting comments.  Also, check out P1nky’s blog, and Capt740’s blog if you have the time.

Llama, Llama, Duck! & Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Science for the younger two today was a lesson about Camels, Llamas, Deer, and Caribou. So of course, we had to play the Llama song.  Enjoy.


Then during our discussion of Caribou, we learned that it’s the females that have the antlers! That means Rudolph is a girl! We also learned that Rudolph wouldn’t have needed his shiny nose, because caribou have innate radar that leads them home.  My 9 year old then chimed in with, “But if Rudolph didn’t have his shiny nose, NORAD wouldn’t be able to keep track of him! Even though he’s fake anyway.”