Sunday, October 15, 2017

Our Week in Review

Reason #67 why I love homeschooling....on an 80 degree day in October, you can do your school work outside!

This week in history we focused on the presidency of John Quincy Adams, and all the reasons why even though he was an excellent and experienced statesman, his four year presidency was pretty ineffective.  I absolutely love history!  It's so amazing to find connections between current events and events of long ago.  We tend to think that political events and contentions of our day are unique, and they really aren't!  When John Quincy Adams was elected in 1824 he ran against 3 other men, and none of them got a majority of electoral votes so the House of Representatives had to declare the winner!  Sound familiar?  Hanging chads, anyone?

After his term as President was over, John Quincy was elected and re-elected to the House of Representatives and served there for 18 years.  He was the first former President (and only one other has done it since) to later serve in Congress.  He also practiced law in his retirement, and as a very old man was co-counsel on the landmark Amistad case that was heard in the Supreme Court in 1841.  If you are not familiar with the Amistad story, you should be.  It was a Spanish slave ship whose slaves broke free, killed many of their captors, and forced the surviving sailors to head the ship back to Africa.  But the sailors secretly managed to steer the ship north instead, and it was captured off the coast of Long Island.  The slaves and the ship were then held in Connecticut while people tried to sort it all out.

The Spanish government claimed the slaves as their property and wanted them returned.  The ship owners claimed them as THEIR property and wanted them returned.  At that time, even though slavery had not yet been abolished in the United States, slave trade from Africa had been.  So some compassionate U.S. attorneys realized that the slaves, having been born in Africa, were actually free men and should be returned to their homes.  The ensuing trial was an important step toward the abolition of slavery in the U.S.

We watched the excellent movie "Amistad" for movie night.  It is rated R for violence and brief nudity, so be forewarned if you decide to watch it.  The violence of the slave revolt on board ship is very graphic, and so is the violence of the slave captors toward the slaves while aboard ship (that is also where the nudity occurs).  It made me weep to see the injustice of it.  I'm so thankful that we can learn and talk about such important historical moments together as a family.

Also this week Little Man finished a story about King Arthur and is now working on an original Medieval themed story about a boy named Ben.

He also began working on his home-made Halloween costume with my hubby's help.  He is creating a robot suit out of cardboard and some $2 goggles. :)

I spent a lot of time prepping and taping walls to prepare to paint daughter H's bedroom, which we are turning into an office/guest room.  I have decided to call it the "study."  Pics coming soon! 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Our Week in Review

We are slowly settling into our new school rhythm.  I say "new" because each year is new and different than the one before.  Our weekly studies are a combination of work we do for mom and work we do for co-op classes, but history remains our "spine."  This week was kindof interesting because I combined three weeks of our Year 3 Tapestry of Grace curriculum into one discussion.  We wrapped up our reading of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, learned about the push for independence in South American countries, and studied President Monroe and his famous speech which became known as the "Monroe Doctrine."


Three days this week we just sat in the family room and read history books together.  Much of our high schoolers' work is rigorous and intense, so it is nice to be able to just sit and read with each other sometimes, and spontaneously share what we are reading about.  I love that as a homeschool mom I have control over the curriculum, and not the other way around!

Before discussion today I prepared a lunch of some foods that Lewis and Clark would have eaten on their long journey west to the Pacific Ocean (beef jerky and sausage, which they would have made from buffalo intestines, but we just bought at Kroger!), as well as a traditional Chilean food called stuffed empanadas.  For the empanada recipe, go here.  We ate, we read, we talked.  Delightful!

It was hard keeping the dogs away from our food, haha!

Science and foreign language classes are all taken at our co-op now, but I am still the primary English teacher for all my boys, and I absolutely love doing IEW writing with Little Man!  He is working on a narrative story of King Arthur and doing a fabulous job.  He is quite a good writer already! 

He is also doing IEW's "Fix It" this year, where every day he fixes a sentence or two that has deliberate spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, and then rewrites the correct version in his best cursive handwriting.  By the end of the year he will have an entire story, perfectly edited and written out by hand!  Fix It spans five years (six now, but my old version only has five), so he has four more stories to do after this one.   Here is a sample of his corrected Fix It writing from this week.  He is working on "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer":

This weekend we are looking forward to two soccer games, painting a bedroom, and singing in a worship choir this Sunday.  What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Saturday, September 30, 2017


I have been putting off writing this post because it is not an easy thing for me to talk about, but our daughter H turned 18 and chose to move back in with her biological family.  In the end, the life she had created with us, parts of which she truly loved, was not enough to keep her anchored here.  The life she has returned to is vastly different than the one she had with us.  It is chaotic and operates on a kind of predictable yet continually traumatic dysfunction.  Knowing that that is the life she has chosen for herself makes me feel a host of jumbled emotions, none of them good.

Daughter H has been a big part of our lives for six years, and living in our home as our daughter for five, so it feels strange not to have to factor her into our daily plans, not take care of her mental health needs, not know her schedule or give her rides to and from work.  In some ways it has created a void of time and mental/emotional space for me that I am having to mourn and then choose carefully what to fill in its place.

Our relationship is not non-existent, but it is broken.  It is not what I had thought it would be.  I am not altogether sad that she is no longer living here, as our relationship had been deteriorating for a long time and daughter H was often angry and angsty.  But if she was not going to live with us, we had hoped she would make a lateral move to another place that would be a healthy environment for her.

Are you familiar with the five stages of grief or loss?  They are:


These stages are not meant to be linear or even sequential, but can be cycled through in any order any number of times.  I am finding myself feeling all of them at various times.  I wonder if she is, too?  I don't know.

If the Lord brings us or daughter H to mind, please pray for each of us as we work through this transition, and especially pray for daughter H to stay close to Jesus and to know His great love for her.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Day of School - 2017

We love our first day of school traditions!  Breakfast out, this time at IHOP.

The number of students in our home school has dwindled from 6 to 3.  It feels weird, yet is also really fulfilling to have graduated half of our children.

The college boy joined us for breakfast.  Smart boy not to turn down free food! ;)

Son L.  We have another senior this year!

Son C.

Little Man.

We made our cookie dough maps of the United States this time, with a special emphasis on the Louisiana Purchase, since we will be learning about the 1800's this year and are starting with a study of Thomas Jefferson's presidency.  For complete directions on how we make and bake our cookie dough maps, go here.

On his map, son L set the Louisiana Purchase apart with chocolate chips.  He showed the Missouri River with a twizzler.  This is before baking...

....and after.

Little Man showed the Louisiana Purchase on HIS map by covering it with red sprinkles.  Before...

....and after.

Son C did both with his depiction of the Louisiana Purchase ~ he outlined it with twizzler, and filled it in with sprinkles. :)

It was a great first day!

College Readiness

Within hours of returning from our wonderful TN vacation, we helped son G buy his first car, and in the next couple of days went to parent day at his college orientation, and moved daughter G in to her dorm at HER college, for her junior year.  It was a busy few days with lots of "firsts" (yay!) and lots of "goodbyes" (boo).

Son G and my hubby, watching the family of geese that lives in the pond on campus.  There were also some carp swimming in this pond!

After convocation, all the freshmen met together in groups of 15 or so, and they stayed in these groups for the next days of orientation.

Son G is in the green shirt and grey pants, waiting for the rest of his group members to show up.  He bonded really well with his group leaders (one guy and one girl), and they were really great at showing him the ropes every day.

Meanwhile, the rest of us moved daughter G to her college dorm for the third time.  Hard to believe she is half done!

Love her so much.  So hard to say goodbye.  So happy that she loves her college and is thriving there.  That's my heart in three sentences.

Back home, her vacated bedroom, which used to look like this: looks like this!  Son G moved in to her room to begin his college experience.  It's bigger and brighter, and.....he doesn't have to have a roommate.  First time since infancy that he has his own room!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Smokey Mountain Vacation - Day 8


We decided to forego "official" (and expensive) tours, and just do our own walking/driving tour of Nashville.  There were a few things we knew we really wanted to see, such as this life-size replica of the Parthenon, in Centennial Park (we later found a Bicentennial Park, so it appears that Nashville builds a new park every hundred years!).  Daughter G has always loved Greek architecture and history, and last year in her art history class she wrote a paper on this replica in Nashville being an example of how important the Greek culture was to our own culture.  She was pretty stoked to see this!  The inside was closed the day we went, but we thoroughly enjoyed the outside.

We marveled at how the original must have been built, without the use of concrete or modern tools!

Being a football fan, I was excited to see the Titans Stadium!

We had fun walking down the main strip downtown, listening to all the musicians.  Every restaurant and bar had live music, and the stages were just inside the buildings right next to the sidewalk, with open windows to the outside, so you could hear a variety of music as you walked by.  We wondered if we were listening to the next big star!

Starbucks.  The same in any city!

We had been told that a specific men's restroom in the Hermitage Hotel was not to be missed.  It had become a "tour" bathroom, preserved in its 1920's art deco style.  So to the Hermitage we went.

We found the bathroom!  And after all the kids posed "going".....

......they posed washing their hands, too.  (daughter G wiping her hands on her pants, as some men do....)  Ha!

Really cool painting on the outside of a building.

We selected this place to eat and listen to live music from the inside.  It was delicious!

A mural not far from the restaurant.

Then we rented a Red Box movie (La La Land) and went back to our airbnb house to watch it.  It was a wonderful day in Nashville!

On our way out of town the following morning we stopped at not one, but TWO bakeries to get an assortment of goodies.  Our friend Paul, who lives in Nashville, told us that many of Nashville's best and most unique features have to do with food.  I think he is right!

We did have a small mishap on our drive home, that could have ended badly.  We are so thankful that when this happened, going 75 mph in the far left lane of the highway....

....hubby was able to keep control of the car and get us safely to the right shoulder.  He and son L stayed with the car waiting for the tow truck, while two different friendly state troopers drove the rest of us to the closest 24 hour walmart, where I looked up tire shops in the surrounding area that might still be open (none) and hotels we might stay at overnight, and the kids played a rousing game of hide and seek!  Long story short, the tow truck driver was able to sell us a used tire and after an 8 hour delay, we got back on the road at 1:00 in the morning, drove all night, and arrived home at 7 the next morning, to begin a whirlwind two days of preparing our two oldest kids for college.  Whew!

We are so thankful for the fabulous vacation that we had!!  And for God's mercies shown to us both on and off the road.